If you’ve been a lifelong fan of real-time strategy games like Warcraft and Starcraft, there’s no question that you should download and start playing Heroes of Order and Chaos immediately. This multiplayer online battle arena (or MOBA) strips out the tedious resource-collecting and base-building, and focuses solely on combat and teamwork. Even better, it’s an entirely free download, with an active and engaged user base.
Heroes of Order and Chaos consists of just two maps, but they’re beautifully rendered and offer seemingly limitless variety. The 3v3 map is set on the border between a forest and a desert, so you can cross between craggy rocks and lush foliage as you lead a small army to war. The 5v5 map is much more complex, with three different routes and a tangle of pathways, some of which contain small packs of enemies that can be fought for extra experience points.
As you and your fellow heroes (all live players or bots) roam the map, your base will send out bursts of minions– swordsmen, mages, and catapults– to attack the other team. You can choose to follow them, providing assistance and attempting to knock down a few enemy defenses along the way. Or, you can branch out on your own, locating separate encounters that will level up your character faster than just sticking to the front lines.
Combat in Heroes of Order and Chaos is a constant game of tactical decision-making. Do you stick with your teammates to push overwhelmingly on one side of the map, or explore on your own? Do you fall back just a little, or warp all the way to the beginning to recharge your health? Do you develop a skill tree that makes you an aggressive, damage-dealing warrior, or do you buff up your companions with spells that provide magical defense boosts?
Heroes of Order and Chaos also has a unique method of letting you select your playable characters. Only six heroes will be available for free each week, but you can play with them as much as you like in that time. Each one has a completely different look, gameplay style, and set of abilities. You can also make an in-app purchase or use in-game currency to unlock more characters, which will then be available to you anytime.
Tremble before my blunderbuss.
In-game currency also lets you buy items that help you gain more experience points, which in turn let you lock in talent points to any character you happen to use. Talent points can make your axe’s swings a little stronger, or make your character move a bit swifter. Some players might build up a slight advantage, but it’s a good reward for playing consistently and doesn’t seem to upset the game’s balance.
Heroes of Order and Chaos, for all its complexity, does a great job of introducing new players to the MOBA concept. An offline tutorial teaches you the basic controls, and a few important strategies. You can also choose to play with a team of bots, so that your first-time mistakes don’t impact a live team.
The floor is lava.
Between the tactical combat, the lush graphics, and wide range of playable characters, Heroes of Order and Chaos is an ambitious title. At launch, some of the servers couldn’t handle the load, but if you’re patient, you can still get a great game going with other engaged players. We do hope that more maps are introduced in the future, but for now, you’re going to have a great time mastering the two that are available.
Heroes of Order and Chaos requires a good 30-40 minutes for each match, but it’s a gripping, hard-fought battle with many different options for your character to pursue. It’s rare to find a mobile game that offers such a thoroughly deep and engrossing experience, especially one that’s online and free to download. Despite the server issues and fickle nature of online matches, Heroes of Order and Chaos is a clear Must Have for anyone who likes to think before they charge into battle. It may be the best strategy game of the year.