The MOBA category is pretty much split between DotA 2 and League of Legends. Entering that category means you need to have a diversified product that can stand on its own against two titans that have defined what MOBA means. Archeblade attempts to enter the category by bringing the feel of a fighting game into the formula. After selecting characters, players are dropped into a battlefield, similar to other MOBA games, and they proceed to duke it out. With titles like DotA 2 and League of Legends dominating the genre, Archeblade attempts to bring its own unique feel in order to gain a fan base.
Archeblade starts off as most games of this style do; players choose a character and are immediately dumped into an arena. There is little to no help from the game as to getting started save for a quick tutorial that basically says “here’s how you move, here’s how you fight…go”. It can be a bit overwhelming but I’ve found games like this to require a bit of practice and experimentation to fully get the feel for the game and how to play it. With a choice of about a dozen characters you can feel each one out to find which character fits your play style best. Thankfully, there is a training mode that at least lets you attack a dummy so that you don’t go into a fight completely blind to a character’s abilities.
Games in Archeblade, at least for the time being, seem to be split into a deathmatch mode or a capture-point mode. Both are fairly self-explanatory and serve as more of a way to give the constant fighting between teams a basic purpose. Archeblade’s bread and butter, and what sets it apart from other MOBA games, is its fighting system. Most MOBA games involve the use of NPCs called creeps that a player kills for experience and money while upgrading their character and picking their battles against other players. Archeblade’s style is much more intense and since there are no creeps to fight it’s a constant melee between opposing teams. While every character in Archeblade plays differently they all follow a similar format for fighting. The left mouse button does a basic attack and the right does a strong attack. Keys on the keyboard are mapped to one of two special moves per character while another key is used for blocking.
Characters in Archeblade vary widely from one another and this is what gives the fights an unbalanced feel at times. Some characters move slowly, others can attack via ranged weapons, and others still can heal and buff friends. I found it frustrating to be in the middle of a fight with an enemy only to be sniped by another enemy miles away. It made all of the work I had been doing against my enemy feel useless when I can just be shot and killed so quickly. While team games like this can always feel odd at times, Archeblade’s combat system made 1-on-1 combat feel great at times. Characters flail around wildly as they cast spells and attack one another in a flurry of combat. However, fights can get a tad confusing and unwieldy when it’s three on three or more. The moment team fights start to take place it feels more like a wild melee that has little to no sense rather than a focused team fight.
A lot of that wildness comes from the animation of Archeblade. The game looks nice overall and has an anime-like look to its characters but the animations leave something to be desired. Characters look and feel floaty, for lack of a better term, and this leads to awkward moments in fights and even basic navigation. For instance, one of the taller characters is able to jump on a ledge in one level but I was unable to chase him down for the kill as my character’s jump animation didn’t allow me to get up on the ledge no matter how hard I tried. The unevenness of the animations can get frustrating, especially in the midst of a fight when they fight against you getting a kill or helping your team. The feel of the combat shifts from good to awful the moment extra characters are introduced to a fight, and for a multiplayer game that’s just tough to swallow.
Archeblade also feels a bit lacking at the moment in terms of things to do. While most MOBA games only have one map and one or two game modes, they also have dozens upon dozens of characters to choose from in order to make the game more expansive. The small number of characters in Archeblade is both a blessing and a curse for what the game is trying to be. Most fighting games have a small and precise roster in order to let players find their favorite, learn all of their moves, and excel with that character’s fighting style. MOBA games, on the other hand, have a wide and expansive roster to allow players to find their favorites for multiple different play styles as the gameplay isn’t as involved as a fighting game is with combos and such. Archeblade, in attempting to mix the two genres, suffers as its roster is more like a fighting game but its gameplay is more akin to a MOBA game as each character only has a handful of moves and no combos exist.
Trying to mix genres to create something new is something we’ve seen done dozens of times. The last game I remember taking the MOBA formula into a successful new area was Monday Night Combat, now called Super Monday Night Combat. The third-person action genre being mixed with the typically-top-down MOBA game world was an interesting mix. Archeblade feels fresh and interesting at first but it soon degrades into a crazy melee of characters jumping around and attacking as clunky animations prevent the game from really capturing what is so unique about it. Overall it’s hard to recommend a game that feels so lacking, both in terms of quantity and quality.