The night that Arena Of Valor launched on the Switch my wife came into my game room and asked what I was playing. "Oh this is a new free game... it's kind of like Heroes Of The Storm," I told her. She replied, "Okay... see you in six months then."
It would be impossible for me to talk about Arena Of Valor without talking about Heroes Of The Storm. They have a lot more in common than their awfully generic titles. You see Heroes Of The Storm was the first - and until now - only MOBA that I've ever been able to enjoy. And I feel like a big part of that is the ease of use. Yes, it's a MOBA - but I think it's one made for people who aren't really into MOBAs. Call it babby's first MOBA if you wish, but there is obviously a demographic of gamers who can enjoy MOBAs where matches can be played in twenty minutes; and that have mechanisms in place to make easing into the genre a lot less painful than the big names like Dota 2 or League Of Legends.
Having basically bailed on PC gaming in the past couple of years now, I've longed to see Heroes Of The Storm brought to consoles. Certainly Blizzard showed us what they could do with the console versions of Diablo III. That was game that seemed like it should never work on console, and yet it turns out that it's even BETTER when you use a controller! But I admit, even I was a bit suspicious about how well a controller could handle a MOBA - wishful thinking aside. And yet now I can assure you that Tencent has shown us that it's totally possible.
Outside of gameplay, I realize (and appreciate) the concerns that newcomers may have to this game. Yes, it's a game that first materialized on mobile phones. Yes, it's free to play and there's lots of things in-game to spend money on. But let me address these two items: First of all, Tencent did NOT take the easy road of merely just running an Android apk on the Switch. This new version of the game was clearly recreated with love and care to be a whole new CONSOLE experience. It looks great and it plays great. (It's also missing the DC licensed characters of the phone version if that matters to you. Though, I must say that they probably feeling jarring when juxtaposed against the fantasy themed characters and world).
As far as monetization goes, I guess that's up to you. I've personally never had an issue with playing these kinds of F2P games truly "free." I don't mind starting with a paltry cast of available characters and slowly unlocking new ones with in-game currency that I've earned. And after I month I've already unlocked more heroes than I've actually had time to use them all.
And I've been playing A LOT. Since the game launched last month it's pretty much become my "few rounds before bed" game. I'm currently sitting at level 18 and have started messing more with the Arcana system to buff my heroes. Even after all this time, I recognize that I'm fairly noob-ish but I'm having a good time. In a way, it reminds me of those early months of playing Heroes Of The Storm - learning new heroes, and getting my head wrapped around strategy and everything else. As such, I haven't even CONSIDERED playing any ranked matches yet. I know that I need to punch my own weight.
I love how even the perceived 'lost cause' matches can end in an upset. These crazy turns of event will be familiar to those who have played Heroes Of The Storm no doubt. Which is why when I see an overzealous and preemptively salty teammate suggest we just surrender a mere seven minutes into a game, I roll my eyes and don't even acknowledge the request. Arena Of Valor requires that your team always be doing SOMETHING constructive. So while an opposing team might be way ahead of you on kills, they may be forgetting to jungle; they may be ignoring an entire lane; they may be getting cocky and ignoring the fact that your tiny grunts are slowly chipping away at their defenses. It's awesome and exciting to see how quickly a tide can change. Better yet, it provides an easy lesson that you should never give up.
Right now my favorite hero is Krixi (the pixie...) who is one of the Mages in the game. She has some nice powerful attack and control spells that are projectiles so she can play pretty ranged. And I prefer to augment her with the Heal talent which has a short range but can still help teammates in a bind. After Krixi I tend to use Violet and Butterfly a lot. Violet is Marksman - basically a ranged attacker/flank who hits pretty damn hard. When using the speed-up talent she can be transitioned a bit from those who may have played Tracer a lot in Heroes Of The Storm. Butterfly on the other hand is just a straight up Warrior - one who reminds considerably of The Bride from Kill Bill (especially given her possible Oneechanbara-looking skin). I mean I haven't even touched a Tank yet. There's still so much for me to learn!
But that's always been the appeal of games like this for me. Just like Overwatch or Paladins or any of the other competitive games I've gotten into over the years. It's never really about getting good - it's about having fun. And if I improve in the process, then even better.