The year is 2002. Blizzard have launched the next instalment of their popular Real-Time Strategy IP, Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. This is two years before launching World of Warcraft. And at the time, Warcraft was up there with other well known RTS’ during the 90’s/2000’s. Such as Age of Empires, Command & Conquer and Starcraft, another popular RTS from Blizzard.
But as the years progressed, we were slowly entering a new generation where RTS’ would be replaced by another genre, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Or MOBA for short. MOBA’s were fast paced versions of RTS’, focusing more on tower defence-like strategy and teamwork. And were quickly growing in popularity with gamers and competitive esports communities alike. Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos was how one the most popular MOBA’s, Dawn of the Ancients, was created. DOTA, as it’s most commonly known, was actually a mod of Warcraft 3 created in 2003.
Now I’ve been a fan of RTS games for years, having been exposed to them as early as the original Command & Conquer. But I’ve never gotten into MOBA’s. Mainly because I’m atrocious at them. Blizzard’s core MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, is one I’ve played the most of. Another is Clash Royale, a mobile MOBA-esque title that’s set in the Clash of Clans universe.
MOBA’s didn’t immediately kill the RTS per se, but it was slowing down the market. 2010 was the last time we’d see a new RTS from Blizzard, with Starcraft 2. Which surprisingly to this day has created a large competitive following, especially in Korea. A remaster of Warcraft 3 was then released in 2020, causing a lot of hype for its return. But unfortunately the title failed at launch.
Apart from Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard hadn’t made an attempt to turn their RTS IP’s into MOBA’s, or anything MOBA adjacent. That was until they made a surprise announcement back in May about a new mobile game called Warcraft: Arclight Rumble. And not long after, Blizzard released the Alpha build for Early Access.
To be honest, I was too excited to even look into what its genre was before I started playing. And obviously, I wasn’t overly excited for it when I started. At first it reminded me a lot of Clash Royale, both sharing similar game mechanics and features. I thought I’d uninstall it after a couple of days. But funnily enough, I started to really enjoy it.
Warcraft: Arclight Rumble is different from other MOBA-esgue titles, focusing on 1v1 play as opposed to team matches. It also focuses mainly on tactical PvE instead of PvP. However there is an optional PvP mode as well.
Similar to Clash Royale, Warcraft: Arclight Rumble relies on deck building. These decks are filled with six different troops and spells from the Warcraft universe. Or “Mini’s” as they’re called in-game. But unlike Clash Royale, a Leader Mini is also used for each deck with smaller Mini troops built around it.
Eventually, you’ll collect enough Troops and Leaders to create decks that play differently from each other. Which is key to progression as most levels requires different strategies to succeed. Some can be beat by attacking from afar, while others might require brute force and heavy mitigation. Of the teams I’ve put together, I’ve one or two favourites that cover most requirements.
But don’t get too cocky. Blizzard have designed a game that doesn’t feel like a mobile game, but has the longevity of one. Warcraft: Arclight Rumble doesn’t require players to use or buy energy to keep playing. But they do increase the difficulty of each level as you progress. Which can lead to gatekeeping, as well as heavy grinding.
There are of course ways around this in the form of micro-transactions. Which for a game like this, I’d normally dislike with a passion. Take Clash Royale for example, which is a heavily PvP focused game. It too has micro-transactions to level and purchase troops. Which essentially means a recipe for salty, unfair disaster. But with Warcraft: Arclight Rumble, I wouldn’t describe it as “pay-to-win” but more so “pay-to progress”. Unless you’re playing just for the PvP factor.
You won’t find me doing any heavy grinding though. Or spending IRL money. I enjoy playing through a handful of quests whether I have daily rewards or not. But I’m happy to progress in my own time. For me, Warcraft: Arclight Rumble is a fun game to quickly jump into on my lunch break, on the couch while watching TV or whenever I have a spare 5 minutes.
Outside of grinding quests and the “story campaign”, which is just following the same map from World of Warcraft, there are a couple of other PvE modes to play around with. Following the WoW theme, there are also Dungeons and Raids to take part in. But since the game’s still in development, Raids aren’t accessible as yet.
Dungeons are essentially three regular levels one after another with different modifiers. Their purpose is to reward players with tokens that can be exchanged to increase a Mini’s tier level. But unfortunately, Dungeons are only accessible at certain times.
And like most other games of this nature, you can also join a clan. Again, due to Early Access, this feature doesn’t serve much of a purpose just yet.
While MOBA style games aren’t my cup of tea, I’m really enjoying Warcraft: Arclight Rumble so far. Firstly because I wasn’t forced to play against others. But mostly it’s a fun casual game to play on the go.
Warcraft: Arclight Rumble is available as an Early Access title on the App Store and Google Play.