Bloodline Champions Preview (PC)

The Defense of the Ancients (or DotA) mod for Warcraft III has inspired the creation of many games in the past few years such as Demigod, League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth, practically becoming a genre to itself. Enter Bloodline Champions, another contender in the world of real-time strategy arena combat. Fledgling developer Stunlock Studios look to take what was originally a school project away from its DotA roots and in a new direction of its own.

On the surface Bloodline Champions does look like a typical DotA game. Two teams of up to five players still compete for supremacy in real-time strategy arenas viewed from a top down perspective. There isn’t any story here and the only single player mode has you fighting offline with AI bots. There are hit points, ability cool-downs and it even visuals that owe much to Warcraft’s colourful comic book style.

The Defense of the Ancients influence is undeniable

But under the hood BC is a different animal. For one thing, it strips out all of the RPG elements like persistent levelling and skill tree systems, character customisation and equipment and dice roll elements like critical hits. Creeps, AI companions common in DotA games, have also been eschewed in favour of less crowded battlefields.

BC makes these cuts in a bid to provide quick and balanced play where skill is rewarded as opposed to those with the highest level and best equipment. The developer is eager to reiterate that the game is geared for competitive play, touting symmetrical balanced maps for a level playing field and detailed stat tracking and rankings.

There are sixteen characters known as Bloodlines to choose from, each divided between four categories; durable tanks, melee battlers, ranged damage dealers and healers. Each have an arrangement of six abilities, mapped to the left and right mouse buttons and the Q, E and R keys. Players also have a momentum meter which gradually fills the longer you stay alive and continue to dish out damage. Once full, hitting the F key will unleash your hero’s ultimate ability for some massive damage dealing.

Each of the Bloodlines are well designed and unique

With dice rolls and varying statistics out of the picture, how well you do in battle is down to your skill with the controls and your knowledge of the character classes. In that respective it’s more like a fighting game than an RPG. Most abilities require aiming with the cursor, so high dexterity with the mouse is essential. Being able to recognise the enemy’s Bloodlines and their weaknesses is also a big bonus.

Of course you’ll also have to work well with your team mates if you want to have that extra edge in battle. On a basic tactical level you’ll want variety in your team’s make up. For example, a combination of a tank, healer and a ranged character will give you a durable balanced side able to adapt to the enemy’s tactics. In the objective based modes like Capture the Artifact a Bloodline with a stealth ability can be a massive boon to your side, helping to sneak your way to victory.

BC features three game types. Arena is your straightforward battle to the death, with the last man standing’s team being declared the victor. Capture the Artifact is a variant of capture the flag with both sides fighting to hold on to two glowing artifacts for a set period of time. Finally, conquest is a king of the hill equivalent where several zones must be controlled for a set amount of time to define a winner.

The game’s arenas are all symmetrical to keep battles fair and balanced

Stunlock and Funcom have announced that Bloodline Champions will have a free to play component though there will be several paid for editions of the game on sale. A substantial amount of content including the full roster of Bloodline characters will be accessed through these purchases though Stunlock have stated that everything here can also be unlocked through earning enough in-game currency called Blood Coins. There will also be an in-game store that will allow players to buy content like additional Bloodlines, skins and titles à la carte.

Bloodline Champions aims to keep things simple which is an admirable idea. In a marketplace that’s gradually becoming saturated with DotA clones this fresh direction is a welcome one. It’s fast, tactical and easier to pick up then most of the competition and best of all, it’s free to get into on a basic level. But will hardcore players of the likes of League of Legends be enticed away from their RPG rich games? Only time will tell.

The game is currently in open beta and is looking to launch on PC worldwide this winter season.

Most anticipated feature: The free to play feature means you can try it out with your friends before you commit to spending.

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By abahnur999 (SI Veteran Newbie) on Dec 14, 2010
well, I was in the beta, it was awesom, but I tought it will be totally f2p, well w/e