Hands-on with Warcraft: Arclight Rumble

You’ll probably be able to tell within ten seconds if Blizzard’s new mobile game Warcraft: Arclight Rumble, what they call a “tower offense” game, is for you.

Warcraft: Arclight Rumble doesn’t seem to be trying to hide the fact that it’s Blizzard’s foray into the kingdom of mobile strategy games, which generally have an icon of a mad pack warrior yelling at you from the app store. It’s stylized and whimsical, even beyond Hearthstone, with familiar faces like Tyrande Whisperwind and the trusty orc grunt rendered in simple, garishly colorful Saturday morning cartoon caricatures.

Warcraft: Arclight Rumble screenshots

But credit where credit is due: some interesting things are happening here. The basic requirement is that you have a gold bar at the bottom of your screen that fills up over time, similar to mana in Hearthstone. You then spend the ingots to summon units from a pool of six “minis,” which you collect and select to assemble a team in advance.

From brave gnoll warriors to crazy gnomish inventors, they can all level up by gaining experience in PvE battles. Unique leader characters like Thrall or Tirion Fordring anchor your squad and change your playstyle.


Each board is different, but you’ll typically be looking to capture towers and summoning stones, which you use to spawn minis closer to your enemy’s side while battling their own minions and eventually taking out their leader.

Depending on the complexity and difficulty of the board, this can take as little as a minute or as long as five or six minutes. There’s also a crease in gold veins spawning, which can be mined to fill your coffers faster, but you’ll need to invest in mostly defenseless kobold miners to take advantage of them. You have the choice to focus on a stronger army in the early game or to overwhelm the enemy with a larger force at a later stage.

You’ll probably be able to tell within ten seconds of watching it if Blizzard’s new mobile game is… for you.

Additionally, there’s a crude rock-paper-scissors element where melee troops beat ranged, ranged, and flying melee. I was quite happy with the amount of strategy involved, although with some boards it can still be difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on, even given the very legible graphics.

Sometimes you have to click the arrows on the map to switch which lane your auto-attacking minis are going to, and it could be a bit like herding cats to figure out when to hit them to catch an oncoming one Getting group to share path I wanted it.


The main mode is a PvE tour of the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, pitting you against some recognizable World of Warcraft quest mobs like Princess and Hogger. You can unlock new minis and new, more difficult zones along the way.

Game Director Tom Chilton said that Blizzard is committed to not having any stamina system whatsoever, so ultimately the limiting factor is the power of your minis. I got to a point where my team just wasn’t good enough to take on the next few challenges, and the skills can only go so far to make up for that as you venture into the more dangerous regions and three-map-long dungeon challenges that are inspired by some WoW favorites.

The most efficient free way to level up your minis is by completing quests, which you only get a certain number of each day. While you can’t currently purchase any more quests, there’s nothing stopping you from grinding up boards you’ve already beaten. But it’s not a particularly efficient use of your time.

This is the main method Arclight Rumble uses to prevent you from taking it through the entire campaign in a matter of days. Senior 3D Artist Justine Hamer estimated it would take the average player months to complete the entire world map, but things are still being adjusted.


That brings us to the most obvious question for a free-to-play mobile game: what are the plans for monetization? Chilton has been careful not to provide any specifics other than that the team wants to sit back and watch, listening to player feedback during testing to see what works best.

Currently in the Alpha, you can buy 500 coins for $3.99 (enough to buy a new Mini from a limited, rotating selection and still have some left over) or 800 coins for $9.99 (enough to buy two minis to buy). Real money will be used for purchases in the Alpha version, but will be credited to your in-game account if and when pre-launch resets occur.

However, you also get gold by winning battles and completing quests. So far, there is nothing that can only be bought with real money and without a secondary premium currency. Experience books can also be purchased with gold. So if you really want to play the full whale mode it would be possible to upgrade your minis very quickly with real money without any limitations that I am aware of.

However, in 1v1 PvP mode, this doesn’t give you an advantage, as all minis’ stats are normalized, ignoring their PvE level.

Two-player co-op raids, intended to offer an even tougher challenge, are also on the horizon. Blizzard has not announced any plans for more than two player modes at this time, neither in PvP nor in co-op. I also asked Chilton if there were any plans for a PC version, having recently announced that the originally mobile-focused Diablo Immortal will be getting one.

“There are reasons to do it and there are reasons not to do it,” he said. “But in the end it’s going to be determined by what the players want.”

Hamer hopes this will be a game for Warcraft fans of all stripes, even the black-clad Edgelords who only play death knights and lean against the back wall of the dingy taverns of Orgrimmar. But I think the experience of playing it speaks a little bit more for what it is. And it’s certainly not “casual” in the sense of a lack of challenge.

In fact, I was impressed with the depth of strategy it can offer. But it’s still essentially a Warcraft spin on a mobile strategy game of sorts that’s far more geared towards finding something to do while you wait for your lunch order than the kind of life-consuming adventures Blizzard is best known for . And you know, this might not make me vibrate with excitement, but it’s perfectly fine as long as they can avoid some of the worst trends in mobile game monetization that would make even Trade Prince Gallywix cringe. The fun is there, even in this early build.

There is no release date yet, but if you would like to sign up as a tester yourself, you can do so at the official site.

Leana Hafer is a freelance writer for IGN.

https://www.ign.com/articles/warcraft-arclight-rumble-hands-on Hands-on with Warcraft: Arclight Rumble

Fry Electronics Team

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