The MOBA train just keeps on truckin’. This time it’s CD Projekt RED handing out the Dota treatment, with The Witcher: Battle Arena.
As you might expect, the game is set in the developer’s single-player RPG universe of the same name. However, while the game is being designed by CD Projekt RED, it’s the basically-new Fuero Games handling development.
The companies promise that the game, which is being developed first for mobile, won’t feature any “pay-to-win” elements they feel plague the platform.
“In a world full of enter-your-PIN-number-to-win mechanics, what we value above all is well-balanced and honest gameplay,” Creative Analyst Tadek Zieliński said in the game’s press release. “Battle Arena is all about skill and dedication, and we’ve spent hundreds of hours planning to make it a paragon of fairness in mobile gaming.”
You can read about what issues I feel might plague a mobile MOBA in the piece I wrote about Vainglory, another recently announced 3-on-3 mobile game.
What Zieliński does not mention is how the game is meant to make its money. Dota 2 and League of Legends, the most popular games in the MOBA genre, have shown there are very, very different competing schools of thought on that subject.
The former relies entirely on visual (and soon auditory) packages. League does as well, but also sells its playable characters for real money as well as in-game cash – by far the more widespread of the two money-making methods. Based on the language of the press release, I’m willing to bet it’s the latter.
Regarding those characters, “the witcher Letho of Gulet, dwarven adventurer Zoltan Chivay or the mighty sorceress Philippa Eilhart” are all mentioned. Looking to the game’s website also reveals Iorvith, and Saskia from The Witcher 2 (spoiler: she’s a dragon), a guy in a mask, some rock monster, and… one of the dryad NPCs from the first game, I guess. Eithne, apparently.
One significant difference between Battle Arena and most MOBAs is how those characters will achieve victory. Rather than blast apart an enemy Ancient, you’ll be capturing control nodes to drain an opposing counter before the same can be done to yours.
While I’m an absolute superfan of The Witcher franchise I can’t say the things I like about it – the story, characters, and meaningful choices – are likely to carry into The Witcher: Battle Arena. That’s not to say I’m not excited, only that I’ll have to see the game in action before espousing any excitement.
That said, CD Projekt RED has an incredible track record of providing free content updates (new modes and heroes for Battle Arena will apparently be free), and DRM policies (there will be an offline mode for when you can’t access wifi).
As with Vainglory I’m cautious, but interested to see the game later this year.