Like many others, I have fond memories of playing Warcraft III on a crappy old desktop computer, I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for over a decade, I can’t resist jumping into each new Diablo III seasons and I have spent more hours in Overwatch than I care to admit. When I heard that Blizzard was announcing a mobile game, however, I wasn’t particularly excited about it. I have dabbled in Hearthstone on various occasions since its release but I have never managed to get sucked into it in the way that I have been completely consumed by Blizzard’s other titles. Prior to the announcement of Warcraft: Arclight Rumble, my general feeling was that unless it was a mobile version of the original Warcraft RTS, I wasn’t going to buy-in.
After a few days with the new title, however, I can humbly admit that I was wrong. I was wrong to jump to conclusions so swiftly, I was wrong to judge the mobile platform so harshly and I was wrong to assume that I wouldn’t enjoy Warcraft: Arclight when it is a whole lot of bloody good fun.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the game, it’s essential to talk about what Warcraft: Arclight Rumble actually is because while it feels familiar in many aspects, it’s also totally different to anything I’ve played before. Almost as if Blizzard has constructed a Frankenstein’s monster (or Abomination if we want to stick exclusively to Warcraft lore) of mechanics from tower defence, MOBA and RTS titles, Arclight Rumble is a frantic action-packed strategy game that incorporates role-playing elements and real-time combat. Warcraft: Arclight Rumble is a coin-operated pinball-esque arcade-style game that exists in the world of Warcraft and is popular among the folk of Azeroth. Fortunately, we don’t have to head to the nearest Azerothian tavern to play it, we’ve got it all in the palm of our hand on both iOS and Android-powered devices.
The gameplay begins with an army of six troops of your choosing, with each troop boasting its own set of traits and abilities, strengths and weaknesses and combat type. These troops are represented by beautifully rendered digital tabletop miniatures and a unique art style that puts a new spin on well known and beloved Warcraft figures. Troops can be melee, ranged or flying, they may operate in squads of four like the Alliance Footmen or solo like the ranged Blackrock Pyromancer. They may also possess a combination of combat styles and battle traits, for example, the Mountaineer is a ranged blunderbuss wielding dwarf with a tanky bear companion that he can heal during combat. You can also add various spells to your army, healing spells, damaging spells, spells that provide your troops with certain buffs or spells that change the nature of their area of effect.
The key here is to construct the perfect army from your personal collection of troops and then select a hero leader with additional buffs and abilities to guide them to victory. Once you have your army set up, the battle begins on a unique map in one of the many regions of Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. You and your army will face off against various bosses from the Warcraft universe but you’ll have to navigate the distinct mechanics of each boss and each map in order to triumph.
One of my favourite maps so far is Raven Hill Revenant in Duskwood where you fight renowned necromancer Morbent Fel. Morbent Fel has a magic barrier that can only be dispelled by a priest. You cannot attack the boss until his shield is down so while you are battling the waves of undead troops he sends your way, you also have to defend the Priestess, an NPC who regularly spawns to aid your plight.
During gameplay, you gather gold either passively over time or by sending kobold troops to mine for you. You need this gold in order to spawn your troops which each cost a different amount of gold, depending on the complexities of their abilities. Once you spawn your troops, you can send them down multiple lanes, overpasses and underpasses, which vary between maps, with the ultimate goal of reaching and hopefully obliterating the boss. On the way, however, you have to face other troops, traps and other environmental challenges that become increasingly difficult as you progress through the game.
Each win rewards you with coins that you can then spend in the in-game store on additional XP for your troops or entirely new troops, spells and leaders. The items available in the store regularly cycle but you can also trigger a cycle by buying new items. Winning matches, completing quests and engaging with the in-game store all award you with XP used to increase your Player Level. When you increase your Player Level, you unlock new game modes and features and receive a bunch of coins and XP for your troops. You can also purchase coins with real-life currency with a limit of one coin pouch (500 coins) and 2 coin chests (800 coins) per week.
Overall, I have really enjoyed my time with Warcraft: Arclight Rumble so far. It feels a little bit like a single-player League of Legends experience with a twist and the benefit of the gorgeous Warcraft universe which I have always loved. This is a great game to pick up on the go, during your commute to work, during your lunch break or instead of scrolling your Instagram feed before bed. It’s very easy to pick up and jump in and out of but the ramping difficulty level keeps the challenge of gameplay feeling novel and engaging. I would love to see this game connect to other Warcraft and Blizzard games, offering, for example, exclusive pets or mounts in World of Warcraft, cosmetics in Diablo or loot boxes in Overwatch for completion of certain quests or dungeons. I imagine that would do a lot for the longevity of the game with hardcore Blizzard fans like myself but in the meantime, it’s still a fun little time killer that I don’t expect to put down for a while.
Warcraft: Arclight Rumble does not have an official release date yet but is expected to enter beta soon, exclusively for iOS and android mobile devices.