YABR: Survival Heroes (iOS)
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games are something I’ve had a love-hate relationship within the past few years. I love the idea and tactical nature, and I’ve played a lot of games like Arena of Valor and Vainglory in the past. The hate is that I’m not very good at them, and when it comes to the deeper aspect of games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 I’m absolutely lost. At the same time trying Battlerite Royale to bring the MOBA gameplay to Battle Royale games leaves me locked into one character for the whole battle. Enter a game that has found a niche that lands in the intersection of all of this. Survival Heroes from Snail Games.
Survival Heroes, despite a name so generic I have to look it up on my phone every time I talk about it, takes the idea of a MOBA game and meshes it almost seamlessly with a Battle Royale game. Jumping into a game drops you into a lobby where you can test the different weapons that will be available on the current game. These rotate out per match, and knowing these ahead of time is critical as, unlike most MOBA games, your weapon is what determines your class and abilities.
Typical to standard Battle Royale you jump out of a craft that flies over the large island you will play on. Following along with teammates allows one person to do the navigating as you jump and dive to your location, this keeps your whole team together on a drop and is crucial to early survival in crowded games. Landing is a scramble to run into houses and pick up weapons, armor, and items. Weapon choice and rarity is important as the game progresses because each weapon has unique abilities you use, and different rarities may be the difference between having two or three class abilities.
The great thing about the weapon ability link is that if you find that you aren’t a fan of the class you are playing, just switch weapon and try something new. The bow and arrow come with some good control and zoning abilities while picking up a tank shield can make you a good front-line fight engager. Opening chests not only drops different weapons, but also various armors that give different perks such as faster attack speed, higher critical hit chance, and more defense and hit points. All of the items feel incredibly useful and the game also does a great job of filtering out items that don’t give any benefit, so it’s much easier to sort through the loot you run across.
Looting items show that the developer had some forethought in how a user plays a mobile game. While items are listed that you can tap on to pick up you also auto-collect items that are notably better than what you have in rarity, as well as healing items and scout cams if you have room in your inventory. It’s a system that means you can just walk over dropped enemy boxes and collect the necessities. This is very helpful with late-game engagements as they start to happen quickly and chaotically.
Overall the game drops the complexity of a standard MOBA game by keeping the classes and weapons limited enough that you start to get a feel for all of them fairly quickly. This means you spend less time trying to debate which item build is the best for your hero early and late game and instead can focus on learning the best use of your abilities in a preferred weapon set. There are still mobs around the map. Computer enemies that you can take out for extra items and experience. The experience comes in handy to buff all of your abilities as the game progresses, and often it can be make or break for the last few fights of a match.
In addition to standard mobs of a MOBA game, there are also small shops dotted around the map that you can check for the ability to buy certain legendary status items. These can always be found in chests through the game as well, but shops provide a quick boost for those that have been collecting extra gold.
Playing daily will also get you some temporary use weapon skins or extra in-game currency, but I find this game enjoyable even if you don’t spend a cent. Just the base gameplay is enough to keep me coming back over and over. For those looking for progression, there is also plenty of that to be had. Currency won during matches can be used to unlock additional weapons that you can make use of if you find them in a match, or to get new skins for weapons and character.
The downside to the free-to-play and MOBA nature is there is certainly a pay-to-win aspect. You unlock Arcana for your character as you progress naturally. These can be slotted to give boosts to your character in the game no matter the class you are using. The slots you have to unlock over time, along with the Arcana to put into them, but you can easily pay currency to unlock slots faster and to get better Arcana. This means those who can pay for it can get overpowered very quickly. Eventually, this isn’t a huge issue as, win or lose, you still gain experience, currency, and rewards, but it’s obvious that paying gets you an advantage.
Overall Survival Heroes is a fantastic game under an incredibly generic title. It blends MOBA style gameplay with a Battle Royale match type in a satisfying and seamless way. It takes away the complexity you wouldn’t want, like having to figure out hero builds and buys, and leaves in all of the quick-action and team-fights you want. I would highly recommend giving this Battle Royale a shot.