The production facilities of Desura Online Games can only be envied. The usual unhurried rhythm of this "one game company", which released another Total War every couple of years, was replaced by a rapid gallop - in less than two years Rome 2, Alien: Isolation, Attila, and three more representatives of the leading franchise - Warhammer, Kingdom and Arena at the ready. If in the strategy for the "waha" we are expected by the standard, in general, Total War, then in the "Kingdom" and "Arena" Creative Assembly decided to try their hand at the genre of free-2-play MMO. How does she do it withKingdom , you can find out from our preview , and today we will talk about Total War: Arena - a mixture of RTS and the now fashionable MOBA.
Unlike all kinds of DotA clones of varying degrees of originality, the real-time strategy genre is now going through far from the best times. StarCraft 2, which has finally turned into a purely e-sports discipline, and Y8 games worthy of at least some attention that appear a couple of times a year - this does not go further. But what kind of MOBAs are not there now: in sci-fi surroundings, with a third-person view and a view "from the eyes", with the rebuilding and management of your own base - you can list all the "findings" of Y8 game designers for a long time. But the idea of mixing RTS with MOBA, although it lay on the surface from the very beginning of the wild popularity of the latter, has not yet received a worthy embodiment. Arena- one of the first such attempts to "cross a hedgehog with a snake" in the hope of arousing the interest of fans of both genres. To make it not boring at all, we decided to add "pumping" in the form of branches of development familiar to all "tankers".
Actually, it is with the recruitment of the army that everything starts. There are three nations to choose from - Greeks, Romans and Gauls. Each of them has several commanders with special skills that are useful in battle. For example, Germanicus is good at attack - under his control, fighters can attack the enemy with a rapid onslaught (or, conversely, accelerate to get out of the attack) or build the famous "turtle" from shields, and Julius Caesar prefers to support the allies, not forgetting about artillery - various ballistae and catapults just for his part.
Each general has four of these skills. We fight, we spend the experience gained on learning skills, at the same time increasing the level of available "units". The latter, too, can and should be "pumped", and here it is not just a linear development from one type of soldier to another, here everything is somewhat more complicated - as, for example, in the same World of Tanks . As there the "stock" equipment is gradually turning into more powerful by studying and buying new modules, so here each squad can be equipped a little to your liking. New weapons and shields, armor (all changes are clearly displayed on the appearance of the fighters) - until the experience gained is enough for completely new "units".
Despite the fact that Arena is still in deep "alpha", the development tree is quite extensive for each nation: in addition to the usual infantry and cavalry, there are ballistae, individual elite fighters and, of course, "premium" units. Almost every "unit" has its own set of active skills available in battle, like the same onslaught or "wall of shields", as well as various "consumables", such as fire arrows from archers. Finally, for individual lovers of fine-tuning, the developers have provided the ability to independently change the color of the clothes of their subordinates.
Although you can keep a huge army in the barracks, consisting of at least all the studied units, only three of them can be sent directly into battle. The choice is limited only by the nation: it is necessary that all the fighters belong to the same, and it does not matter who will go to war today - horsemen and archers, several catapults or only infantry.
Despite such a strict limitation, the battles in the Arena are still quite large-scale. The fact is that as many as twenty players take part in the battle - ten on each side. As a result, there are about six thousand soldiers in each battle - albeit not the largest number for Total War , but much more solid than in most other strategies.
So far, there is only one battle mode - capture / defense of the base. Each side has a fortified camp, which must be defended, trying to capture the enemy as much as possible. You can, of course, win by completely annihilating the enemy, but this usually does not come to this - as a rule, the time allotted for the battle ends earlier or one of the teams still manages to capture the enemy's base.
In terms of gameplay, the battles are familiar to many battles from the "regular" Total War(except that the activated skills of the units have much more weight), adjusted for the explainable "dampness" of the alpha version. For example, while there is no model of a clash of warriors - they simply pass through each other, and it is unlikely that it will be possible to tie an enemy squad in battle, holding it until the main forces approach. There is no change of formations and settings for the behavior of "units" in battle ... The picture is noticeably inferior in quality to the previous games in the series, and it is not yet clear whether this is due to the test build or the standard MMO orientation towards not the most powerful computers of users. Unfortunately, watching the colorful individual battles, into which the collision of two squads breaks up, will not work here: you cannot lower the camera so low, and there is nothing to watch there - the animations are very arbitrary.
On the other hand, there is no time to be distracted by admiring the beauty. It is much more important to monitor the overall picture of the battle and the actions of your units. The course of the battle sometimes changes completely unpredictably - just a minute ago you confidently pushed the enemy towards his camp, and now you have to quickly withdraw troops from the planned attack of a suddenly appeared enemy. Here, luck is not always on the side of large battalions - with skillful actions, you can emerge victorious in a battle with a numerically superior enemy.
But team interaction plays an even more important role in battle. Do not forget that there are a dozen commanders on one side, and the dependence of the team's effectiveness on the number of its members is growing exponentially. So it turns out that one mediocrity can substitute all allies, and there is no way to protect yourself from this. Such commanders love to ignore the ambushed teammate or, conversely, bombard the fighters who are fighting in a battle with arrows or spears so that losses from "friendly fire" lead to complete failure.
On the other hand, if in one team there are at least a couple of people playing together using voice communication, they simply tear the enemies to shreds, each of which fights on its own.
Surely, fights with the participation of really well-played teams will be very interesting, but so far this can only be dreamed of. Gathering a dozen people together is still somewhat more difficult than finding comrades for a party in the same “Dota”. As a rule, immediately after the start, each of the commanders begins to wage his own little war, without being distracted by such trifles as helping allies or coordinating actions during an attack or defense. Although there are opportunities for communication between players, there is little use from them: in the chat there is the usual swearing with or without reason, and on the mini-map with markers they draw not battle plans, but what usually flaunts on the fence.
Despite the far from modern graphics and flaws in the alpha version, not always adequate allies and some "casual" battles compared to the previous parts of the series, Total War: Arena does not look boring at all. The most important thing is to try to play not alone, but with friends, in order to avoid the indescribable sensations of "skillful" actions (or even inaction) of allies in the midst of a battle. All fans of tactical battles in Total War will not hurt to get acquainted with the new product from Creative Assembly - if the developers develop their creation, checking with the opinion of the fans, and not chasing profit by maximizing the audience, another great game may appear in the series.