Call of Champions, a free-to-play game, is a multiplayer online battle arena game on the iOS. Colorful, creative, shiny and new, the MOBA does its best to keep itself from falling into a play-to-progress scenario with addictive gameplay.
Simple on every level, yet complicated underneath, Call of Champions has a few things going for it that make it more than just another iOS title that is trying to lure your innocent credit card into a endless amount of charges. While it does indeed have that option to progress built into its backbone, where you can lay down some money to open up the game and keep it going, the gameplay is good enough on the surface to make the experience worth your time.
Starting out, you get three initial cool characters to practice with and an additional fourth to choose when you move to ‘versus’ mode. Each has its own typical attributes that you would find in a MOBA. A wizard-esque character to fall back and fire from afar. You have a warrior that is the grunt and brute of the team. You also get the option for a rogue-esque type character that has an even balance of both worlds. Depending on your choice, mine was the long bearded brute, each brings a different style of play to the game.
The first thing I noticed about Call of Champions is that the level design isn’t over complicated, which is fine by me considering movement is dictated by the touch screen. Literally touching a portion of the map will send your character off to that particular, specific space. Having never played a MOBA on a mobile device before in my life, it was an odd feeling to get used to in the game. Sometimes I would overshoot my desired spot, other times I would undershoot (is that a word?) it. After about 30 minutes with the game the controls started feeling a bit more natural, but it’s tough to replace a mouse. It’s so very tough (am I right, PC elitist???). I own a mac, so what would I know.
Anyway, movement aside, the game offers up, at the beginning, a two-lane highway of destruction with a middle that contains opportunities to gain team-related attributes. The first few practice fights I had, I could invade some spaces in the middle and improve my team’s speed. Little things like that add some flavor to the gameplay and help to improve upon some potential level design shortcomings (there weren’t a lot in Call of Champions). As you go from tower to tower, trying to destroy your enemy’s line of highway defense, you’re given a wonderful disruption ball that allows your characters to easily invade, though still take damage, the enemy’s towers.
As the gameplay continues it has a quick pace behind it. This is a lot quicker than typical MOBAs I am used to playing. Granted, the human element during practice is taken out of it, but still in comparison to Supernova and Middle-Earth MOBAs I have played in the past, Call of Champions has a nice pace to it. I also realize that casual gamers want a quick experience on their mobile devices, so I suspect this is the cause of quick pacing and more compact levels. It makes sense with the platform it’s trying to please. The speed of gameplay helps to make the game far more enjoyable and far less frustrating, which can easily occur during a MOBA experience.
The gameplay itself is just like most MOBA titles. You have a bevy of options below to choose from when fighting. Each option has a set of visual cues about range and power. As you progress through the game, you get upgrades through leveling up, and through purchases. The game stays fresh and that’s okay by me. When the human element is added to it, via the versus mode, the game becomes more complex and less formulaic for obvious reasons. The frustration factor is high, as there is little room for error, but the motivation bred from challenge is certainly increased. I only dabbled in the versus mode, as I’m incredibly terrible against actual human beings at MOBA titles (hey, at least I try), but the little time I spent there convinced me that this game certainly has some solid value to it, at least on the surface.
Having said that, I do realize that the game is a free-to-play model, which means that it will eventually require you to strongly think about dropping some dough to progress easier and help you prepare for versus. The leveling without payment is there, but it’s a bit slow. That’s the catch for any F2P game, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. That being said, it still doesn’t get in the way, unless an actual opponent is better than you, which is a possibility. At least the game will be short, right?
Anyway, the F2P model isn’t a deal-breaker with Call of Champions, as it does some really nifty things to make it feel a bit different than typical F2P titles on mobile. One nice thing is that it allows you to customize about everything in the game, even the HUD (which is useful on a small screen). It also provides an option to watch live games in motion across Spacetime Studios’ servers…that is quite the cool thing to do if you’re into watching games. Being that I’m a huge fan of watching games in action, when I can, it was neat to have that option on my phone. It helped with my own gameplay strategy, as well as gave my fingers a rest from small screen usage without breaking the gaming vibe. There are a nice bit of other options to the game that make it unique on mobile (like notifications in the game, kind of like email), so you get more than expected from the package.
On the presentation side of the equation, it’s amazing to see mobile games slowly becoming mid-level graphically tiered PC titles. There are a lot of nice textures, animation and effects that make this more than just another mobile game graphically crippled by its platform. The hardware is getting better in these devices and studios like Spacetime seem to be taking advantage of such a thing. Visually it’s a pretty game. Audibly it’s a nice game.
In the end, is the game fun? It’s a blast to play, though there are walls you occasionally hit with the F2P model. That doesn’t mean the game is unplayable, but if you’re going to really dig into it and make a gaming investment/commitment, you’re going to need to free up some space in the wallet. It’s better than most F2P games when it comes to this, so you won’t feel it as much. That said, again, it’s not unplayable if you just want to have some short fun with a MOBA on mobile without dropping the dough. The fun is very present and enjoyable before you spend a dime. It does a good, flexible job of providing a solid preview of how good the game can be.
Onto the summary.