I’m a MOBA noob, I’ll be the first to admit that. I have no idea what or who a Gank is, I think I know what a Buff is, but I’m not overly sure, I just like the various different characters and outfits available in some of these games.
So with that said, I went into Vainglory with a totally open mind. Sure, I’d played League of Legends before and I’m only just getting to grips with Heroes of the Storm, but I’m still very much new to the game. It’s mostly because I’m not that much of a PC gamer. I’d rather relax on the sofa playing consoles or in bed playing on our iPad.
So in comes Vainglory, the best of both worlds. It takes on a similar approach to PC MOBAs and throws it onto mobile, and it’s brilliant.
So, if your familiar to MOBA’s like League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Heroes of the Storm, you’ll immediately feel at home in Vainglory. You’re offered a select number of characters which are on rotation, you can either unlock them with real cash, or play the game to unlock them using Glory which is earned during play.
These characters each have their own skillsets and play types, whether it’s melee or ranged, weapon based or magic based, and more.
Initially you’re thrown into a fairly straightforward tutorial process which teaches you the basics of the game. You’ll be doing this for about half an hour, which for a mobile game demands a lot, but it’s totally worth it. Once complete you’ll then be tossed into the normal game mode which sticks you in a 3v3 PvP match.
For those who want more lessons in Vainglory, the game also presents players hours and hours of videos showing off examples of gameplay and lessons for those who want to get into the thick of it.
Into battle however, you can choose to play with other players, or dive into a game with bots. The latter game is considered more of a practice level than a co-op mode, which is a shame. The main mode however offers the most fun in either a Casual or Ranked game. Once five other players are found, you begin by choosing your character and being thrown directly into the game.
With just 300 or so gold to begin with, you go ahead and purchase your first item, and level up your first move set. Then off you go. Now, the map is laid out a little different to what I’ve seen on other MOBAs. In Vainglory, there’s one main lane which has yours and your opponents turrets, these are what you should take-out in order to proceed to your enemies crystal and win the game.
Below the main lane is a forest with various different lane monsters each with their own buff (is that right?) once you’ve killed them. A little later on into the game three “mines” then open up. These mines offer two things. Two mines on either side of the forest, once claimed, further strengthen your minions, and one mine in the center of the map offers Gold bonuses and a chance to unleash the Kraken on your enemies.
This allows for a sense of freedom in the game as players don’t have to declare which lanes they’re taking before it all kicks off, plus there’s no real way to communicate so the single lane is also a bonus in that respect.
Well, there is a way to communicate, but it’s open to interpretation. Simply put, the game offers some auto messages in the form of emotes and icons. There’s a series of emotes from smileys, to thumbs up, to a simple “OK”, these can be used in response to situations or to other prompts such as arrows which can be pinged on the map, as well as targets, warnings, and question marks. Sometimes these emotes work, other times they can fall on deaf ears.. or should I say, eyes.
In terms of how the games play out. MOBAs are all about clicking really so Vainglory translates pretty well on mobile though I only really have experience on the iPad version of the game, I can imagine on smaller phones it can be a little more difficult. The game responds to two finger tapping pretty well though allowing you to drag ahead on the minimap, and place a waypoint marker for your character to follow.
Touch is also a pretty fantastic addition to MOBAs as essentially you have two mouse pointers on the screen at once, you can tap to avoid players by walking away, then quickly with your other hand unleash an attack that they’re likely not expecting. It’s fantastic.
Graphically the game presents itself really well to where in some places it really doesn’t feel like a mobile game at all. It feels very much like a PC MOBA on a smaller screen. That may be due to how the game is laid out, with smaller characters and very little environmental changes, but even in the thick of it when there’s huge team battle of 3v3 plus a handful of Minions thrown in, the game didn’t lag nor did I see any glitches or framerate issues.
Now interestingly Super Evil Megacorp haven’t opted to dumb down the game and force a short play time limit to cater to mobile players. This is a full on MOBA with games that can last anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how the matches play out. This can for some be a little frustrating, especially if you don’t have the time to commit to the game, but for someone like me who’d rather lounge around than sit at a desk to play games, it’s just perfect.
Overall Super Evil Megacorp has achieved something that casual MOBA fans have probably been looking for, for some time. A triple-A quality MOBA in a similar vein to League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Heroes of the Storm, but in a more easy to carry package.
What’s has impressed me the most about the game however is that as someone who isn’t that much of a mobile gamer, I’ve continued to pick up Vainglory a number of times, something which doesn’t happen too often with me.
This review is based on the iPad Air 2 version of Vainglory.