For the past several years, it’s become evident that the MOBA game scene has proliferated, becoming one of the most sought after scenes in the gaming industry. Not only that but the genre has really helped the eSports community grow into a multi-million dollar scene, where players can take home 6 figure salaries for their hard work and determination to win. We’ve seen it in major titles like Valve’s Dota II and largely towards Riot Games’ League of Legends, where the player base continues to rise exponentially and the winnings players can take home skyrocketing as well. Most of these popular games however seem to have found much of their success on the PC gaming platform which allows for such things as LAN events, smooth online play, among a plethora of other benefits. So what happens when you take all of that and place it onto a console that’s a hybrid of both a home device and a mobile? Well, you get Tencent’s incredibly popular mobile MOBA title Arena of Valor that’s been taking the mobile gaming world by storm and aims to become the best MOBA on that platform. Arena of Valor is just like any other MOBA title out there in terms of its gameplay mechanics and strong team based organization, but now you can take all of that with you on the go with the Nintendo Switch!
What that means is you’re getting a much smoother experience on a platform that makes very good use of its hybrid capabilities, allowing players to have a blast wherever they go.
What to Expect
Arena of Valor at the moment is in a closed beta phase for the Nintendo Switch, and we had the liberty to jump right into the game to see just how it stacks up on this hybrid platform. Arena of Valor saw much of its success in the mobile world as we said earlier, becoming the largest and most popular MOBA game on the smartphone. 200 million players says a lot and notable gaming giant Tencent sees this is a viable opportunity to grab more players on the Switch, which is something we can see taking off in a major way. Imagine LAN events with every Switch stacked up next to each other and allowing players to conduct in the usual MOBA gaming experience without having to worry about carrying too many PC accessories to slow things down. Having a much bigger screen when compared to smartphone devices is also a major plus since it gives players better perspective on what’s happening, thus increasing the level of strategy and fun factor when playing solo or even on teams. The Nintendo Switch version, of course, comes with a multitude of additional features, some of which we’ve touched on such as the multiple setups and bigger more polished screen.
Additionally, the visuals have drastically improved such as lighting, graphics and overall UI organization which will provide players with a smoother experience. In the closed beta version that we played, all of the heroes were available for us to try out but all of that will be erased once the closed beta wraps up (July 5th). We also had access to the modes as well as purchasable items, but of course those will not be available in the full version off the bat. It’s more of a way for players to provide feedback on items that perhaps may feel too overpowered or even too weak, and so adjustments will need to be made. With all that being said, this preview is subject to change as what we discuss now will ultimately be altered in later versions.
So let’s kick things off by discussing the overall visuals of Arena of Valor, which have seen a considerable improvement on the Nintendo Switch platform. Hero animations look much more fluid and run at a smooth framerate when compared to its mobile brethren. The UI of course looks much more organized and allows you to find whatever you need right away without having to strain your eyes on a small screen. We didn’t happen to find any sort of discrepancies as we played which only means that Tencent is really taking things very seriously when porting the game over. Overall, things just look much cleaner and sharper which is an impressive feat for Tencent and Arena of Valor.
Gameplay - Sound, Music
One of the more noticable changes to Arena of Valor on the Switch is the sound, since a lot of the sound on the smartphone sounded muffled. You could, of course, have headphones on while playing, but the Switch version definitely sounds a lot cleaner even without having headphones plugged in. This also ties in with the music, that also sounds much shaper which most likely provide players the feeling of a more immersive experience on the go. We didn’t seem to notice anything out of place that would significantly alter the overall audible experience, but we assume that small touches will definitely make the music sound a lot better come final release.
Gameplay - Gameplay Mechanics
Gameplay mechanics wise, it’s hard to really say since a lot of the options available will obviously change moving forward. We used Lu Bu for a majority of our gameplay impressions and we felt that his attacks did seem to be quite overwhelming when you purchase the right items in game, and take advantage of his perks. We spent a lot of time in online solo and to be honest, the experience felt so smooth as if we were just playing right next to the person. No noticeable lag during very high frame rate situations such as multiple heroes being on screen, with special effects involved. This is huge because the mobile platform where issues could become more prevalent due to its lack of performance options, the Nintendo Switch allows for more action to take place on screen thus, lowering the amount of lag that could potentially affect the overall gaming experience.
The controls are fluid and very intuitive but it would be nice if for example, when purchasing items during battle that instead of having a big box in front of you which sort of blocks the action on screen, maybe placing the box slightly to the left or right or even bottom left or right would serve its purpose better. The text size could also see a slight increase which allows you to better read what each item provides, and maybe even generating a more obvious alert when you have the opportunity to purchase said items. The alert at the moment can sometimes be ignored especially when in the heat of the moment and so, giving players a more obvious pop up to buy items would be more effective for the long term.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Outside of the things we’ve mentioned, we didn’t really spend too much of our time with every single hero since there’s a large majority of them. Also as we stated earlier, this is a closed beta and so we assume that any significant bugs would be taken care of for the next versions. We felt that the issues expressed were of more importance since on a gameplay level or perhaps more so on a competitive level, having the ability to read and see alerts on screen to power up your herois imperative. One issue that we should point out however is when you put the Switch into sleep mode then turn the game back on while online, for some reason the game resets and forces you to replay the tutorial mode. Whether this is intentional or not is up for questioning but we felt that to be a bit cumbersome, especially when you’ve spent a lot of time playing the game and having to redo a tutorial for no reason. Another issue is also that the Nintendo Switch at the moment lacks online features that will allow multiple players to talk online at once, so that sort of hinders the multiplayer team experience at least for the time being. Hopefully when Nintendo announces more details regarding their online platform, it may help Arena of Valor in a major way.
Vast visual improvement over the mobile version.
Gameplay feels a lot smoother to due to Switch’s hardware performance.
Sound and music are clean and create an immersive experience with or without a headset.
A HUGE selection of characters to choose from! More to come too!
No noticeable lag when playing against other players.
The game resets on you when you put the Switch into sleep mode, then re-enter the game, forcing you to do the tutorial again.
Some tweaks to Lu Bu’s power should be observed a little.
No Asia servers at the moment, but we imagine it’ll be there come final version.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Anyone who’s looking for a MOBA experience on the Switch, look no further because Tencent’s Arena of Valor is looking to be the next big thing on this platform. It has robust features that you can take advantage of both locally and online, with enough heroes to really provide an exciting experience both for casual and veteran players.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!