Spoiler alert: At MMORPG.com we often focus on, here it is, MMORPGs. However, once in awhile a MOBA sneaks its pus-filled face into our front door like that annoying neighbor who always wants to steal your butter. Turns out, I really like pus-filled faces. To fill you in, I have been terrible at a game called DOTA for years. It may have changed names to League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth, but it's still DOTA really. But Bloodline Champions is something different with this formula.
For those of us that like label things, DOTA is what we call a MOBA. What the frick is a MOBA? Well anonymous question troll, I’ll tell you. MOBA stands for “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena”. Now traditionally we all think of MOBAs as DOTA style games: There are heroes on both sides of the map killing small little minions and killing me or tricking me into their tower. The point of the map is to destroy the defensive towers and eventually destroy the enemy's base.
However, once in a while a developer like Stunlock Studios comes along and has to “innovate”. What’s with this creativity crap?! I was perfectly happy with pong. (Sadly that joke is lost on both the young who are too young to remember what pong is and the too old who smoked themselves into stupidity.) However, most of you like this stuff, so in order for me to get my huge kickbacks for writing these fluff pieces to fund my grandeur Beverly hills lifestyle of ramen and local television, I’m going to tell you a bit about a new game called Bloodline Champions. Although it has its problems, the game is a lot of fun and gives you the full satisfaction that any good nerd-stomping can.
Read on to hear the rest of my rant.
Cartoony and stylized: Just the way I like my women and video games. This game has a tribal and voodoo feel. As I spent a number of years in Louisiana with the swamp psychics, this game brings back memories. The characters are cartoony in nature. However, the combat is anything but: the fights are blood-fueled and fairly intense, but I will get into that later. The aesthetics also aren’t demanding on your machine, letting you coffeeshop trolls who play on your laptops have a fair chance.
This is “last man standing”. You pick a hero, and hope you kill everyone else on their team before they kill you. There are two other modes where you have to hold points or capture both “artifacts” but the concept is the same: kill them before they kill you. Typically you are on a team and have to work together to take down the opponents while "in the Thunderdome".
Sadly there is no real Thunderdome, but there should be.
You have a choice of four different types of avatars: melee, ranged, tank, or heal. As is no surprise, melee excel at melee combat, ranged excel at damage from afar, tanks excel at soaking up damage, and healers excel at healing things. That's it! That's combat. Which in Bloodline Champions is the game. While in many MOBAs, the learning curve can be the largest barrier for players, I found Bloodline Champions easy to pick up. While it helps to understand the abilities of other heroes, I found once I understood the playstyle of my hero, I was able to do very well after the first five or so games.
If you have been part of the gaming scene for any time now, you know how rare this type of game is (despite its increasing presence in competitive gaming). Therefore, it is a unique take on a still small genre. The innovations that we can see from BC for the most part include new heroes. Heroes... tons and tons of heroes. This is the general expansion of a MOBA, we might even see a new game type every now and then depending on the community (such as the capture the artifacts mode and the control-points game). However these game types are not very popular.
Case and point: where we, the player, will see true innovation is how the competitive scene develops. How dedicated they are towards it and how they build the game for it. That said, the very fact that Bloodline Champions gets rid of the typical MOBA mechanics of "rush towers, fill lanes" is unique in and of itself.
Polish of a game is a constant and recursive process that never ends. I had no problems with bugs and had no reason to deal with customer service. I found the UI clunky and annoying however. It just doesn't quite work right, and it's hard to put my finger on why. It's not natural, and takes some time to get used to. This is my main reason for a lower score in terms of polish. I also think BC needs to implement a rating system for players, which was woefully missing and is a staple of any competitive online game.
This game has an intermittent playstyle to it. Bloodline Champions, like many MOBAs, will have trouble holding you for a long period of time. It's meant for quick session play. But it gets in your blood, and you will find yourself needing a game or two... or twelve when you're really in need of a fix. If it had more competitive components or community spotlighting it would help the longevity. Instead it's lost amid the likes of League, DOTA, and SC2. Still, Bloodline Champions allowed me to flex my competitive muscles. Without longer arena fights with some type of itemization and gains to be made, the game's appeal is short-lived and lacks the long-lasting appeal and sense of accomplishment that comes with simply having a great match.
Bloodline Champions supports waiting room chat, clan chat, and personal messaging. In combat you have no time to do anything other than voice chat which it does support natively in-game. Any form of communication that I needed was there. However, because of the sandbox style of these games it is tough to make lasting connections. This is a side effect of the MOBA in general and not Bloodline Champions. Hopefully the developers will be able to work around this chronic problem of the genre in time.
BC is free to play. You can buy additional outfits as well as new heroes if you so desire. However, you unlock new heroes as you play anyway and the outfits are just aesthetic in nature. Because of the competitiveness, this game will stay fresh for a long time. It is a great value and definitely worth a download, and I feel it would be especially good for folks who like the idea of the MOBA but are intimidated by the complexities of games like LOL.
While this isn’t my personal choice for a MOBA, I think it is a great take on the arena-styled MMO. You may find like me that the matches should be longer, but it will give you hours of enjoyment and if this is your game you could find a niche in a clan too. If you enjoy leveling up and progressing your character this is the wrong game for you. However, if you like to immediately jump into the thick of the action and climb a mountain of corpses to reach your victory, then Bloodline Champions has plenty to love.