No genre in recent memory has taken over the video game world quite the same way that the MOBA has. MOBAs (short for multiplayer online battle arena) are games that combine elements of real-time strategy games with RPGs. In them, you join a team of fellow players as you battle an opposing team online for control of a battlefield and its resources. Along the way, you are required to level up your character with points earned from the battle. Your choices on how to build your character are significant as they can have a serious impact on how the rest of your team plays, and these games are all about proper teamwork above all else.
With so much going on during your average gameplay session, MOBAs tend to be pretty complicated titles. This makes them a pretty unlikely candidate for the much simpler area of mobile gaming, but Vain Glory proves to be a glorious exception to the rule that this genre cannot work on mobile platforms.
Where Vain Glory succeeds in bringing the MOBA to mobile is by keeping things simple. The elements that define the MOBA genre and make it so interesting (the depth of building your character, the teamwork, etc.) are all in play, but some of the more complicated gameplay elements that required a mouse and keyboard to work properly have been removed or streamlined.
This means that your team size will be smaller as are the levels. You’re given a lot less to do while you’re on the map and you’re given a lot fewer ways to do it.
Amazingly for a genre that built itself on depth, you’ll find that you won’t really miss what was cut out of Vain Glory because of how good the things that were left in are. Sure there are fewer characters, but the ones that are available to you have all been well-designed to contribute something unique to the experience. Yes, the levels are smaller, but they are also beautifully rendered in the game’s powerful graphic engine and more than do their job of providing a functional space to do battle in.
Above it all, Vain Glory is a fun game to play which is not always something you can say about the heavy hitters of this genre. By making the necessary changes needed to make this genre work on mobile devices, developer Super Evil Megacorp has managed to create the perfect introduction to the MOBA genre itself. The skill cap for success is much lower than in other games, but the feeling of victory is about the same as you would get in games like League of Legends or DOTA 2.
We many never get a full-fledged MOBA title for mobile platforms, but Vain Glory has provided an interesting blueprint for how this genre can remain compelling on the go.