Solstice Arena is a FTP (Free to Play) MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game for PC and iOS. The port to PC came out in late October and I have recently discovered this Zynga title.
Zynga released Solstice Arena on June 13th 2013 for iOS and October 15th 2013 for PC (via Steam). When it comes to FTP MOBA games, I tend to be a bit picky in terms of what I like. I prefer lore and technically beautiful graphics as opposed to cartoony herons and anime designs. In my opinion, the game also needs to be accessible to newcomers. Solstice Arena takes a lot of it’s art cues from the massively popular FTP League of Legends (LoL for short). Zynga did what Zynga does best and looks at a successful game in a genre and then tries their hand at it. In doing so some of the standard elements of the MOBA genre are gone. Things like creeps (or minions), lanes, and even buildings/barracks are missing. I believe that this was done purposely to help ensure that games could be completed more quickly and not be too in-depth.
There are a few things that Solstice Arena does differently than other MOBAs that are things to consider. This is a “Speed Arena” game (with the tagline ‘all fighting, no farming’) and Zynga wants it to be very easy to jump in and out of it as you please, not requiring a lot of time investment to understand what you need to do. They designed the game in such a way that promotes non-stop constant team fights until the end, which for a speed arena game makes sense. They speed up the game in a few different ways. First each hero has three total spells all of which are unlocked straight from the get go and have low cooldowns and no mana/rage cost to cast. This means that from minute one you can fight your way into taking multiple towers quickly. Solstice Arena features 25 heroes and lets you play 6 a week for free, while the others remain for purchase through in-game currency, or roughly $8-10 USD each.
The controls for Solstice Arena are pretty simple to understand if you are at all familiar with MOBA games. Q, W, and E for each spell, and right clicking for movement (or touching the screen for iOS).
A power play is when all three enemy team members are dead, during this time the three towers and ‘The Oracle’ (The final base tower) become non-lethal making it super easy to take towers down and secure an advantage.
They encourage fast paced games by having what they refer to as “power plays.” A power play is when all three enemy team members are dead, during this time the three towers and ‘The Oracle’ (The final base tower) become non-lethal making it super easy to take towers down and secure an advantage. While enemies are still alive and near towers they have a red gem on them and will fire shots that do moderate damage. During Power Plays the towers have the non-lit model (shown left).
The Chest is another interesting element that makes this game different from other MOBA titles. The Chest is an objective placed in the center of the map and much like a control point in most shooter games, requires you and your teammates to stand near it as it slowly rotates in your favour. If you successfully capture the chest you and your teammates all get 100 gold each. Getting the chest right after winning a team fight can give your team that extra little bit to buy those new boots you’ve had your eyes on.
Items are the second last thing to go over. While Solstice Arena’s item system seems very similar to one like League of Legends, it only lets you have one of each type of item (much like an RPG) meaning one pair of boots, one helmet, one chestpiece, etc. (Shown below)
The last major feature that makes Solstice Arena stand out from the rest is that there are no real levels, experience, or character progression throughout the matches. There are various different types of orbs/runes scattered on the battlefield that give you elements (earth, iron, sun, moon, and void), these elements all have purposes for different hero types. For example iron is what gives heroes more health, so you would want your teams tank to be picking them up, whereas void increases basic attack speed, so you would want to make sure that the carry/assassin of the squad picks this up. Runes are also with these orbs and they provide temporary boosts in things like your armour, movement speed, and physical damage.
Solstice Arena is not going to take DOTA 2, or LoL players away from their respective games, but what I think it will do is give players an environment where they can play shorter, more fast paced, casual games, and not have to worry about someone calling them a feeder. While the addition of the rumoured premium membership for ten dollars per month seems like a good way to find out if you will really get into the game, I would recommend trying out some other MOBAs such as DOTA 2 as there is already a passionate community of over 6.5 million players monthly. But for the more casual gamer that is trying their first MOBA, Solstice Arena isn’t a bad start. Check it out on Steam or the iOS AppStore today.