Zynga bills Solstice Arena as the world?s first ?Speed
MOBA.? Though that?s a bit of an odd term, I can honestly say that it?s the
best way to describe this strange little game. See, Solstice Arena is a title
which kind of turns the traditional MOBA concept on its head.
There are no creeps or minion waves to farm. There?s only
one lane, and no jungle. There are no in-game levels; players have access to
all three of their champions? skills right out the door (though these abilities can be improved outside of matches by leveling up your character). Each champion is
limited to six items: armor, a helm, an accessory, a main-hand, an off-hand,
and boots. You can also choose to play the whole game using a controller.
The end result is a game which ? though one can see the very
vague similarities to games like League of Legends ? is effectively a black
sheep of its genre. Matches are short, chaotic and ? perhaps surprisingly ? a
hell of a lot of fun. Hey, this is Zynga we?re talking about. They?ve seen
Aside from items, characters progress by gathering a number
of different elements which appear scattered around the battlefield. Each
element is tied to a particular stat ? Sun, for example, reduces your
cooldowns, while Earth is tied to your attack damage. Each champion has one or
two ?core? elements to which the damage of their abilities is linked.
The map itself consists of two bases, each guarded by three
towers. These towers can dish out quite a bit of damage, but there?s a catch ?
they?ll only fire if a friendly champion is alive nearby. It?s the same deal
with the bases: eliminate the opposing team, and you?ve probably got a free
These two bases are separated by a central platform linked
by two bridges and surrounded by a river which slows anyone that walks on it,
and on which a chest spawns that grants a large gold bonus to the team that
captures it. The end result is that the center of the map forms into something
of a choke-point, as well as a hot-spot of conflict: this?ll probably be where
you?ll be spending most of your time when you aren?t defending or dead.
The champion pool is?reasonably varied, but it?s clear Zynga
drew on inspiration from quite a few sources. For example, the first champion I
unlocked ? Hanhock ? is oddly similar to League of Legends? Garen in
play-style, right down to a spinning attack (which the developers have cheekily
named ?spin to win.?) That said, every character I?ve seen so far has its own
distinct play-style, strengths, and weaknesses.
Now, given that this is a free-to-play, how the game manages
player payments is every bit as important as how it plays. I?m happy to report
that Solstice Arena actually man
ages a better job of the business model than
many of Zynga?s other titles. While saving up to unlock new characters is a bit
of a grind, the game never really pressures you directly to spend real money on
anything (though there are a few skins you could purchase, if you feel the
need). That’s definitely a welcome change from many of the money-grubbing titles we’ve been seeing with increasing frequency of late.
You can grab Solstice Arena either on Steam or through the game’s website.