When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek he thought that in the future we would all be playing Tri-Dimensional Chess instead of normal chess, he was wrong. MOBAs (Multiplater Online Battle Arenas) like League of Legends, Dota 2 and this game, Heroes of Order and Chaos, are the real spiritual successors of chess. They have the pieces with their own individual skills, the strategic gameplay and, of course, the square shaped board.
I haven’t actually played League of Legends or Dota 2, so I can’t vouch for their quality, nor can I tell you how this game matches up to those. I have watched lots of videos of Dota 2 though, as TotalBiscuit of Youtube fame will often have them as the backdrop to some of his videos, and it was these that actually prompted me to get this game. And so, it is on this meagre foundation of understanding that I shall build my argument that these games are in fact what will be played aboard the starship Enterprise when they actually get around to building it.
Heroes of Order and Chaos has two modes, 3 versus 3, and 5 versus 5. 3 versus 3 sucks, so I’m going to tell you about 5 versus 5. In this game mode you are presented with a further four options: PvP, where all the heroes in the game are controlled by actual people in real-time over the internet; Co-op, where only your team is controlled by real people and the opposing team is controlled by a mysterious entity called ‘CPU’; Solo, where all but your own hero is controlled by the almighty CPU; and, Custom, which I don’t know anything about having never clicked on it.
From this point you are invited to pick a hero from a line-up to use during the battle. Heroes are divided into four types: fighter, guardian, support and magic, and you can pick one from either the roster of free heroes for that particular week or from any heroes you have elected to buy from the game. Not only does each character class have a different way of being used, but each individual character plays differently. As you level you can assign points to the different classes that strengthen whatever character class you may be opting to use.
It’s all pretty daunting at first and there is a whole bunch more that I could tell you about skills, inscriptions and tablets, but that’s not where the fun is at. The fun is in playing the game.
In chess you have pawns, in Heroes of Order and Chaos you have soldiers. These soldiers are controlled by nobody, they have lives of their own running ever forward and attacking any enemies they see. Unfortunately, these soldiers are about as useful as pawns are and so they get killed, lots. But that’s part of the game. As a hero (my hero is the fish guy with the trident in the picture above) it is part of your job to kill as many of the soldiers from the opposing team as you can, doing so will allow you to level in the match (not to be confused with leveling generally – damn this game can get confusing). But there’s a catch, you will only get the experience and extra gold from an enemy soldier if you land the last hit on it – a trickier feat then it sounds, especially if your hero has a relatively weak attack power and/or speed. This is where skill starts to come into the game.
Heroes of Order and Chaos is free to get, although you can pay real money for extra boosts and stronger characters. However, I don’t think that it’s a case of pay-to-win as there is a lot of skill involved. Maybe I haven’t been playing long enough to know for sure, but I would have thought that the worst player of this game could not beat the best player even if the worst player had payed for all the extra boosts and bonuses.
In the top right hand corner of the above picture you can see the mini-map that shows the battlefield. There are three lanes that you can choose from with each teams’ base being in the corners diagonal from each other. It is along these routes that the blindly courageous soldiers run, and it is also where the towers are. Busting down the tower of an opposing team allows you to progress further along the lane towards their base. The game is won by destroying the opposing team’s base. That all sounds pretty simple, but when you consider that the heroes on both yours and the opposite team are controlled by people, and given the fact that people can often be pretty crazy, winning a game becomes a lot more difficult prospect.
I’ll hold my hands up and admit it right now, I have yet to win a PvP game. I try my hardest to get last-hits and not die at the hands the opposing team, but it never seems to be good enough, and that is what is so great/infuriating about this game. I’m no good at chess either, however if I am playing chess with someone who is better than me I am invariably going to lose, with this game though, I can suck and yet still have a fighting chance of winning a game.
Obviously it helps that you can play the game well, but there are so many other factors that contribute to the game being a win or a loss, that it doesn’t really matter how well you play. There’s something philosophical in that, like a life lesson or something. Doing the best you can, and knowing you are doing the best you can is all that really matters and a loss when you know you have played your best is worth more than a win where you have played awfully.
This is where Heroes of Order and Chaos and other games like it actually surpass chess in my opinion, and will continue to do so until they invent a game of chess where each of the back-row pieces is controlled by a separate person. And even then, games like this will still be better, as chess pieces don’t miraculously spawn at the back-row whenever they die like the heroes in this game do.
I’m not sure if I’m explaining this game all that well, but anyway what I am trying to convey is the general spirit of this game. So too surmise, games like this take skill, patience, timing and a thick skin. But you are rewarded for your time and efforts, every defeat helps you to learn how to play the game better, and, best of all, no matter how much you know and how powerful your character is you can still end up losing to a team of newbies. That is why the idea and spirit of games like Heroes of Order and Chaos and so great. Sure there’s no storyline, and the touch-screen controls are pretty awful, but what’s the storyline behind chess? If you take only one thing away from this spiel, make it that question ‘what is the storyline behind chess?’
Have you played this game?
What did you think and how does it compare to LoL and Dota 2?
Think chess is better?
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