The Witcher 3 is mere months away from release and CD Project Red has built a reputation of sheer dedication to quality across just two games. With the ever so popular MOBA genre, one would think a free-to-play Witcher MOBA would be an instant success. That however, is not the case.
The Witcher Battle Arena brings the fantasy world to iOS and Android devices for free, if you choose to play that way. It does a great job of bringing the MOBA experience to the small screen but the gameplay isn’t compelling enough to keep one invested in this free-to-play title.
At launch, there are nine characters to choose from which are split into three classes – Mage, Warrior, Archer – but only three of them are unlocked. The other characters can be bought with in game currency known as crowns which you earn from matches, or with real world money. Each character cost $4.99 or 750 crowns which is a bit steep for this title but after spending over half a dozen hours on it, I unlocked most of the characters and skins without spending any actual money on it.
Each characters ability felt satisfying and players can purchase extra inventory pages for the surfeit of items which are rewarded to them after matches. Besides outfitting your heroes with the equipment, players can also fine-tune the stats of each hero with an even greater customizability at higher level characters.
Unfortunately there are only two arenas available at launch, each so similar to each other and there are no meaningful way to communicate with your teammates. There are no friends list, no local-play and no way to invite players. To make matters worse, there is no punishment to players who quit midway through a match thus there is no incentive to play through the game when the match isn’t going your way.
Practice mode allows you to challenge bots but other than that, you’ll be queuing in a 3vs3 with unknown people or fighting bots with two random players at your side. During my time, I encountered numerous bugs which caused my game to freeze, and my progress was lost after two hours in which I had to start over. The character skins I unlocked and the loot, was lost. The RPG element is what kept me going in this game, and losing my progress was insulting.
When a match starts, each team begins with 500 points. Capture points are spread across the map which causes the opposing team to lose point if they are captured by the opposite team. The match ends when the opposite team has zero points left and each match lasts around 5-10 minutes. There are no lanes nor creeps, so there isn’t really any strategy involved besides ganging up on the nearest enemy trying to take them out.
The atmosphere of The Witcher Battle Arena does right with brining the feel of The Witcher to the small screen by recreating its characters and music but its frequent technical issues and lacklustre gameplay does little to keep the player engaged.