Call of Champions Review

The Mobile MOBA Redefined

Call of Champions is a MOBA mobile game for the iPhone, iPad and Android.

While they've dominated the PC gaming space in recent years, MOBA games (multiplayer online battle arena) have struggled to gain a meaningful foothold outside of the mouse-and-keyboard set. They've valiantly tried to make a impact on touch screen devices (where the genre's free-to-play model is typically welcomed), yet with the exception of Vainglory, there hasn't really been a MOBA that's managed to crack the mobile code.

Maybe it's time for a new champion to enter the arena.

Call of Champions is the first MOBA from Spacetime Studios, a company previously known for their early work in mobile MMO games like Pocket Legends and Arcane Legends (both of which you can still find on the App Store). With Call of Champions, the studio decided to do the seemingly impossible: rethink the MOBA in a way that makes it more accessible to newcomers, enticing for veterans, and perfectly suited for mobile play.

I'm happy to report that they've hit the trifecta.

A MOBA for Everyone

If you're familiar with popular MOBAs like League of Legends, DOTA 2 or Heroes of the Storm, you'll no doubt find the Call of Champions experience to be a little stripped down from the norm. You won't level up during a match, upgrade your hero in-game, or tweak a character's skillset to your liking. This is a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get experience.

Cutting these more complicated elements makes the game very user-friendly for all skill levels -- and if it wasn't for the game's remaining design choices, it might have led to a very hollow MOBA for the genre's devoted.

Luckily, the game is slick in its minimalist approach. Call of Champions' one map is kept snug, so you're only ever seconds away from an enemy encounter.

Play is limited to 3-vs-3 battles, perfectly complementing the game's smaller maps. And its five minute limit gives players just enough time to complete the game's objective -- or come close -- without ever giving the match a chance to feel sluggish.

Much to my surprise, this isn't a game DOTA fans will look down on. This is a game DOTA fans will play on the bus.

How Is It Different?

The big twist in Call of Champions, other than how streamlined everything is, comes in the form of a tower-destroying orb that both teams will vie for control of. Two orbs exist on the map -- one in the top lane, one in the bottom -- and these orbs must be rolled by heroes close enough to activate them.

Should you be using the top orb to attack while the lane is empty? Or rushing to the bottom orb to wrestle control away from your opponents? The two-lane orb design creates a great push-and-pull for players, keeping things tense round after round.

While Spacetime Studios seems to have perfected their approach in terms of gameplay, Call of Champions monetization leaves a lot to be desired. Call of Champions is, like most MOBAs (and many mobile games), a free-to-play offering. I've no objections to free-to-play done right, but Call of Champions seems to have missed the mark here.

Let's Talk Money

Players in Call of Champions are awarded a set amount of experience and currency at the end of each match. You can earn more, however, if you purchase a "premium membership" that only lasts for a limited amount of time. This works in other games because you always have something you can spend that currency on, but in Call of Champions all you can buy are more champions -- and they're not cheap. Even if you buy a premium membership, you could very well reach the end of your two days without any playable content to show for it.

By way of comparison, I decided to try Blizzard's desktop MOBA Heroes of the Storm because of how much Call of Champions wowed me on the genre.

By the end of my third HotS match, I had enough currency to buy a new character. After a week with Call of Champions, I still haven't hit that threshold.

Monetization complaints aside, it's hard to undersell just how remarkable Call of Champions really is. Spacetime Studios have taken a well-loved genre, changed it fundamentally, and still developed a product that MOBA gamers should be proud to call their own. Whether this is your first five minutes with a MOBA or your five millionth, Call of Champions is an game you need to squeeze into your next lunch break.

Call of Champions is available now as a free download on the App Store.