To everyone who has played Defense of the Ancients (DotA), League of Legends(LoL), and DotA2 (among others), we are all very familiar with the Multiplayer online Battle Arena (MOBA) style of games, and have come to love them. The one catch? They have always been on the PC, leaving console gamers out of what is a very fun and engaging genre of gaming! But not anymore, thanks to Monolith productions. They put two great things together for us (and especially me!), called Guardians of Middle Earth. Originally, made available exclusively for the Playstation Network and Xbox Live and now for PC as well, Guardians of Middle Earth is a fantastic addition to the MOBA genre, which has finally made it to console gamers.
In all honesty, if you have played one MOBA style game, you have played them all. They all have three lane and (sometimes) one lane maps, where five people duke it out with their chosen champion/guardian. With that said, I still enjoy(ed) playing this game. It’s fantastic. You can play some of your favorite heroes of Middle Earth (past and present), as well as the villains (past and present). Each Character is assigned a sort of role based on their abilities and they are divided up in this way, so you can pick a champion based on how you feel like playing. There is tactician (traps), enchanter (various roles), defender (Heals/Tank), Warrior (damage/sustainability), and Striker (pure damage). I played all of the characters available, and ones that I could buy, and they were all very fun to play, with some having harder learning curves than others. The nice thing was that everything is very affordable to buy with the coins you earn in game, and you can have all the guardians in less than 15 matches.
The graphics were great, with great looking maps and guardians, but the spells were what took the cake. The imagery of the spells was really well done, and certainly made the game way more enjoyable than some other MOBA’s, which are somewhat lacking on the spell graphics side. The controls were simple and perfect for a controller, by using the buttons for spells, analog sticks for movement and spell direction, d-pad for potions, and triggers for attacks and special skills. The UI was simple, and all around made the game easy to play and direct other players around.
Finally, we get to the gameplay. This is how a MOBA should be played. The developers had a great idea by limiting the time you play in non-ranked battlegrounds. In non-ranked games the timer is set to 20 minutes, and the game can be won by either score or destroying the other team’s base. Score is based on enemies killed, and towers/barracks destroyed. No more 3 hour games! The feature that I found coolest was the ability to upgrade towers and barracks. Towers can be upgraded four ways; splitshot (shoots two at once), quickshot (faster), siegestone (more damage, good for lanes you are having trouble controlling), and healing (good for lanes you have under control). This allows for more interesting gameplay as well. Then the barracks have four ways to be upgraded; Barracks (elite soldiers), Stables (mounted soldiers), stronghold (siege soldiers spawn), and Blacksmith (upgrades everything). These towers can only be upgraded at certain levels (6,9, and 12), so you don’t have to worry about currency. Speaking of which, there are no items to buy in battle. Instead of buying items in battle, you buy potions, commands (abilities), and your belt outside of battle and choose which to use before beginning the game. Your belt is 8 gems/2-4 relics that improve the abilities of your guardian. Much like other MOBA’s you can improve health, lifesteal, ability power, etc, and you get access to the gems/relics as you level up. Choose wisely!
Overall, the game truly surprised me. I’ve played a good deal of MOBA’s and didn’t expect it to work out very well on the console. I was utterly surprised when I found I actually prefer playing an MOBA on the console. The controls were so fluid and easy it took only 5 minutes to get me accustomed to playing and the roles of guardians was already shown, so picking one was simple! Overall, the graphics were fantastic and gameplay was fast paced and fun. The only downside was that there was a lot of lag and disconnects, because the game is hosted by players and not by servers. When you lose the host, the whole game goes down. This only happened from time to time, so it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. To anyone who owns a console and enjoys MOBA style games, I would recommend you pick this up and start playing (it’s only $15).
Guardians of Middle Earth is a fantastic addition to the MOBA genre, which has finally made it to console gamers.