Arena of Valor (Switch) Review
Final Score 7.5 / 10
Arena of Valor is one of the world’s most popular MOBA’s (multiplayer online battle arena), growing in its fanbase on mobile since its initial release back in 2016. It is up in the popular ranks of PC moba’s like LOL, Heroes of the Storm, or DOTA 2 in player base and fandom. Most MOBA stay on their original platform or stay constricted mostly in the PC world, this MOBA is unique both in its start on mobile over PC and its ability to break away from its original platform and end up on the most unlikely platform, Nintendo Switch. Nintendo Switch is an amazing platform with a vastly growing library that is very indie and first party friendly. A genre that has had little attention so far on the platform is the MOBA genre, and Arena of Valor is ready to pioneer on the mobile console. Having its roots in mobile makes it the perfect MOBA to venture over to Switch. While many PC MOBA’s have complex controls that are difficult to translate to console, Arena of Valor was built for the limited controls of mobile, which actually make it feel “easier” on consoles when physical controls are added. The game is Free to Play, with a rotating roster of free characters to choose from, with the availability to earn or purchase coins to pay for permanent use of characters. Being Free and the first MOBA on Switch, makes it a no brainer to try out, but here are my thoughts on the game itself.
(Arena of Valor Cinematic Trailer)
The game is not for the character collectors. It takes an excruciatingly long time to earn enough gold to actually purchase one of your favorite characters. After all the hours I’ve put in, with mostly all wins, I’ve still only accumulated a few hundred gold, and a single character can cost 10-20 thousand gold, so it difficult to buy your favorite characters, instead of playing the free roster. It provides a very freemium feel to a game that otherwise does a great job of not putting that in your face.
The game while very fun and a fresh style on switch, is not without its balancing issues. Even “tank” characters feel very easy to die being killed in two or three shots. This would be ok if it was countered with short respawns or fast movements, but most of the characters feel very slow and the “sprint” power has a insanely long cool down. Too much of a game is spent on a respawn counter or running back to the battle from start. I touched on this in the beta for Battlefield V, if frequent and quick “time to death”s are what you are going for, you can’t punish characters twice over for actually dying or playing aggressively. I thought the 20 some second respawn in Battlefield V was excessive, than the 30-50 second respawn in Arena of Valor is way overboard. Many characters have powers that stun or slow another, and some characters have ranges twice as much as others. It can make for some frustrating deaths where you are two far away to defend yourself, or too slow to run away. This can cause some frustrating deaths where you have to sit and wait again.
The developers need to also improve mid battle balancing and bringing in characters who disconnect. With such long respawn times, easy to kill characters, and only 5 player teams, AFK or disconnects can cause unfair losses. I once had to play with three AFK. The game needs to better kick AFK and bring in new players mid battle. While there is a decent list of characters, the game is sorely lacking in maps. There is one main maps and a few others in smaller different modes. Some variety in maps and modes would offer even more production and play value to a game that wants you to spend money on in game content.
(Arena of Valor "Switch" Gameplay Screenshots)
The game is great for those new to MOBA’s style games, offering easy to learn introductory mechanics. The game plays great both on the big screen and on the go, with only the occasional intermittent frame rate drop on mobile. The game rotates the free roster of characters frequently allowing free users to test out many of the characters regularly keeping the gameplay fresh. The graphics for a ex-mobile genre game are pretty decent for a switch title, although nothing spectacular. The game would look better with a 1080p mobile display so it is played best on the big screen due to the distant camera on MOBA’s.
Teamwork in this game is essential, and the game provides ways to communicate with team members, offering what can feel like an easy way to get into very strategic attacks. The game also has perfect overall length pacing. Matches can be somewhere between 10-20 minutes, making them perfect for one off matches on the go or on work breaks.
All in all, while the game is not perfect, it is a great value as a free to play title. Being one of the few free titles on switch and the first MOBA, it is a must play for new Switch owners.
(Check out the art style and various characters of Arena of Valor)
(All art owned by Timi Studio Group of Arena of Valor and shared for entertainment and news purposes)