VainGlory is the vanguard of the next gen of iOS gaming. If you’re at all familiar with MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), then you’ll know what you’re getting with VainGlory. But does it live up to the hype?
If you aren’t familiar with MOBA, welcome to a harsh learning curve and an ultimately brilliant example of the modern online battleground. It stands head and shoulders above all the other iOS MOBAs, but manages to square up to DOTA and League of Legends as a genuine contender.
VainGlory Review: I’m a League of Legends fan, or at least, I was a player until a few months ago. I’m not sure why LoL slowly slipped from my radar. Fatigue maybe. Tension at having to run a strict template in my head of item trees, jungling routes and gank times. If you’re after a quick twenty minute gaming relax; LoL was a bad choice. Especially when my ADC went AFK. If you play MOBAs, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
This VainGlory review has rekindled some of my genrelove for MOBA games, the communities and the (low and behold) gaming. Let me explain why.
Gameplay, Screensize and tappity tapping.
I didn’t really think MOBAs would cut it on iOS. I play on an iPad and even with that screen, I wouldn’t have really thought that the larger scale battles would translate. VainGlory proved me wrong in a lot of ways (but not all).
I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t tried it on an iPhone 6, so can’t vouch for VainGlory performance on that format. At a guess, I think that the game might get a little stretched at that resolution. Precision tapping in the heat of the moment is tough on the iPad, let alone an iPhone 6. Trying to land an attack on Petal rather than her murderous little pets will be the difference in a battle. This is where VainGlory has tried to make the most of the touch screen format. Combat is simplified and if you’re a MOBA player coming over from desktop titles, you might find the setup a little bit simplified (3 powers rather than 4, for a start).
But it has to be simplified. Touch screen combat is different to mouse driven combat. No second mouse button. No wheel. No shortcuts. But VainGlory is confident in it’s system and I’m a fan.
A couple of downsides to highlight though. The scrolling ahead on the minimap is awkward and it takes a little mastery to perfect, but it’s functional and you aren’t slaved to the screen if you’re running back to battle. Go plan your shop!
Speaking of the shop, I think one of my bugbears with desktop MOBAs was that I felt a bit constricted on items choices. Not because of options, but if you’re the type of gamer to check strategy/build sites (like me), then in reality there aren’t many choices if you want to be the best statwise by the end of the game. Item choice creativity isn’t going to win you games.
Perhaps that’s why I’m really enjoying VainGlory. I haven’t looked up any builds. I’m experimenting. It’s all a bit new. So if you’re reading this going ummmmm I can’t hack another MOBA then perhaps give this one a try now. Before it gets wrestled to the ground by builds and teams and strategies.
Graphics and Characters
VainGlory makes lovely use of the updated graphics capabilities of the various iOS platforms. It looks wonderful with great depth to the environment map and excellent lighting effects.
The character art, animations and effects are equal to the desktop MOBAs, which is great. Each character is well rounded, suitably different with a push towards post-apocalyptica/Borderlands style character design. With the soft launch, they’ve had time to polish game imbalances and overpowering on abilities. As a hint to all the other MOBA developers out there: Do This. Don’t let game imbalance lead to frustration. The ADC/Jungle/Support roles will be familiar to you, or something you’ll pick up in time.
As it has only just launched, character choice is slim. However, this is a great strength – stick with it and you’ll see new character launches. I hope this is the plan for VainGlory. I hope to see a much wider character (and map) selection in the six months after this review.
Of course, these kind of games have big teams behind them that need big cash in their pockets. They go about this in the similar MOBA vein… choice restriction. The RestrictionWall in VainGlory means you only have a small stable of characters to work with (the free rotation), until you earn the glory to buy your choices. If you want free rein of choice, then go ahead, get your ewallet open. It might actually be worth it 🙂
Cutting past all the crap, what this means is that VainGlory is one of the best free to play games iOS out there. It has depth, tactical nuances, leaderboards and some fun thrown in. You can play the game without spending a thing. You just have to nod and wave at the guys who have the out-of-rotation-6,000-cost characters. Hey, maybe they saved up.
Leading the way
It’s a definite 5 stars for VainGlory. Yeah there are a few niggles in the system, but ultimately it’s one of the best iOS games released. It’s free and doesn’t have a shocking Paywall slapping you in the face. It looks great, plays intense and is fun.
Big Plus Points:
- Wonderful graphics combined with well balanced and addictive gameplay.
- Free to play. They could easily have charged for VainGlory, but they went Freemium. So get in there.
- Strong depth to the gameplay strategy and tactics. Be careful, the water is deep.
Big Minus Points:
- Translation of MOBA controls to touch screen isn’t flawless.
- Small stable of current characters.
- Only one map.