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Michael Bitton: Accessible MOBA Fun in Crytek's Arena of Fate

By Michael Bitton on August 26, 2015 | Previews | Comments

Accessible MOBA Fun in Crytek's Arena of Fate

Arena of Fate is an upcoming free-to-play MOBA by the folks at Crytek. Yes, that’s right, another MOBA. You’re probably groaning and shaking your head already, but don’t write it off just yet, this one’s actually fairly interesting.

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Like fighting games, MOBAs are a complicated genre, requiring time and commitment to truly grasp mechanics, understand the meta, and so on. There’s been an absolute deluge of MOBAs flooding the market since Riot Games found smash success with League of Legends years ago and few of these “me too” games have done enough to set themselves apart from the competition. Blizzard, as it often does, lowered the MOBA barrier to entry with Heroes of the Storm, but it’s possible that Crytek has put together an even more accessible MOBA in Arena of Fate.

Don’t get me wrong, Arena of Fate is plainly derivative in most respects, but Crytek has combined many of the best ideas from other successful MOBAs, such as the aforementioned Heroes of the Storm, as well as the unsuccessful (but criminally underrated) Dawngate, while adding a few key wrinkles to the formula to make the game stand on its own.

For example, Arena of Fate taps Dawngate’s role system to allow players the flexibility in choosing their role in a match irrespective of their hero choice. Want to focus on sieging towers? Go for it. Cleaning up teamfights? Do it. The choice is yours.

Like Heroes of the Storm, Arena of Fate also does away with the often confusing item shop. Instead, you’ll be picking from a pool of generic talents (in addition to two special powers aka summoner spells) as you progress through a match. The developers we spoke to suggested they may be adding some hero specific talents to add more choice and flavor, but generic talents are all you’ve got right now. You’ll also start with all your skills unlocked (including your ultimate), so you can jump in and get going right away.

Arena of Fate is also objective focused, though there is only one standard 3 lane map currently available, and the objectives are fixed from match to match. The idea is to get to 10 points before the opposing team or have the most points by the end of the match. While Heroes of the Storm’s matches are shorter on average compared to other MOBAs, Arena of Fate matches are structured in four five minute quarters with a fixed 20 minute time limit.

Simple objectives are spawned at the beginning of each quarter. The first quarter’s objective is a jungle camp that spawns super minions with your next wave. Subsequent quarters unlock vision shrines, powerful artifacts, and a giant jungle monster that grants a number of points on defeat, offering losing teams a chance at swinging the game around (or winning teams the opportunity to tighten their grip on victory).

Your team will earn the most points for taking out towers, making it more efficient to play together and focus on the game’s objectives, but kills will still award your team one point for every seven kills. Gold is earned through killing creeps just as it is in most MOBAs, but without items, gold is essentially synonymous with experience in Arena of Fate. The main difference is that last hitting will award you more experience than you’d earn for simply being near the minion kill and that unlike Heroes of the Storm, experience isn’t globally shared.

The game’s business model is the simple and straightforward League of Legends model. Heroes can be purchased for real money or currency earned through playing the game. Interestingly, each match in Arena of Fate has a prize pool based on how many human players are in the game, with the winning team earning a larger share of said pool.

One feature that I feel has some great potential is Arena of Fate’s Clubs. Clubs are a guild-like social system that can be both cooperative and competitive. When you start the game for the first time, you’ll select from a number of heroes to permanently unlock and you’ll also be sorted into a club based on a variety of criteria a la Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In most MOBAs, you’ll just be dumped right into the game, but this initial club sorting will allow you to establish a social circle with a large pool of players, so that you can chat, put together matches, and even establish rivalries against other clubs in club matches. Players will also be able to branch out and join a couple of other public clubs and eventually create their own private clubs with friends.

We weren’t able to pry a release date from Crytek, but if this all sounds interesting to you, the game’s  developers assure us that anyone who signs up for the closed beta shouldn’t be waiting too long to be accepted in.

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site''s Community Manager.