Dungeon Hunters Champions is a genre bending title that is a clear departure from the Dungeon Hunters series. Dungeon Hunters Champions is equal parts MOBA, and equal parts dungeon crawling RPG. There is also a “Guild War” mode coming in the future. The graphics are bright and colorful, instead of the grim and moody tones used in Dungeon Hunters. This is a game that caters to both the PvE and PvP players. It has pulled off a balancing act well, introducing casual players to the more advanced concepts of professional esports. At the same time, and more importantly it introduces the try hards to the more casual aspects of gaming. It is the sheer fun of a pocket sized experience that can give you a quick fix. As a player, you can actually choose between an adrenaline rush and a dopamine rush.
An easy but deep title
There is a massive roster of heroes available in Dungeon Hunters Champions, and they are each available in various elemental incarnations. For example, the ranger who is equipped with a bow and arrow can come in forest, water or fire elemental variations. There are five elements to take into consideration in total. The classes available include fighter, mage, support, marksman, assassin, and tank. They each have their own skills and moves. There are overlays that clearly show the line, circle or cone of influence of each power. Similarly, the area of influence of the enemy mobs are also displayed. This simplifies a lot of complex calculations that a player would have needed to do, by allowing them to see directly on screen, what their powers will do. You can bring along champions of friends to your dungeon crawling runs. The Boss Raids are not that much more difficult, and it seems kind of pointless to take your own squad out for a raid. Hopefully, this aspect significantly improves with the introduction of co-op dungeons.
You start off the game by getting plonked in the middle of a Tavern, which seems to be floating in space. From here, you can access the shops, check out the leaderboards, go on PvE adventures or enter the PvP battlefield. This is essentially the town, or area where you can just hang out.
The Dungeon Crawling
There are a number of Adventure modes, including a story, Boss Raids, special events, blitz and co-op. Only the Adventure and the Boss Raids are available at this point of time, with the other modes probably being available in future updates. The adventure mode contains a series of dungeons, that you have to clear. There are six boards, and various dungeons. Each of the scenarios in the board have their own mode. You might have to flee from an enemy, chase a boss before it does something bad, defend a number of towers, survive waves of mobs, or an escort mission. Some of these modes progressively introduce new players to different aspects of MOBA gameplay. An early map makes you take over one tower, a subsequent one a single lane. There is even a mode where you have to get more kills than an equivalent hero, which you cannot attack directly. Winning this mode involves kill stealing, or last hitting in the MOBA language.
Apart from the lengthy tutorial, the game also directly tells you the meta. It recommends champions to level to the max, which champions are good for late game, and which champions are good for early game. If you fail a mission, it indicates exactly what went wrong, whether it was not having good enough gear equipped, or choosing the wrong elemental champions.
The dungeons themselves are very well crafted. They are not static environments. Doorways open up and roll out stairs or there are giant magical mechanisms that put stones blocks into place. Several maps take place on board giant moving machines – trains, ships, or even whales.
The adventure mode also takes you through the story. This is some kind of meta commentary, on the game itself, but I don’t really know what Gameloft was going for here. If you are impatient and skip through the story, you cannot go through it at a later point of time. You are essentially an invoker who calls in the heroes through summoning disks, which are of various types for different categories of heroes. There is some kind of corruption that is attacking the realms, and you have to fight for the light side. I guess. Invariably, the bosses that you defeat through the game are also available as champions that you can play with. There are some similarities to Warhammer 40K lore, which is not surprising considering Dan Abnett, the author of the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, is attached to the project.
Dungeon Hunters Champions is a very grindy game. Levelling up the champions is a lengthy process. You need to collect low level heroes, level them up to max level, and then use them as food to level up the higher level champions that you actually want to keep. You might need to do it several times for the champions that have four or higher stars. Fortunately, the auto mode for clearing dungeons makes this somewhat less painful. If you play games at your workplace, you can just leave the game while you attend to something, and it will play on its own, no problem. Even in the auto mode, you are allowed some amount of control. You can choose which champion everyone in the squad should concentrate on. You can also control one of the champions directly. You can only intervene to open up chests, which they do not do on their own. You can also tap on enemies to make your squad focus their attacks on that enemy.
The PvP mode currently has an Arena mode and a 5vs5 mode. The 5vs5 mode is your standard moba, with five champions and three lanes. The towers are known as “time crystals”. The waiting queue can be quite a bit at the moment, but is expected to go down as more people come into the game. You can also invite your guild members to participate in the mapmaking. It is satisfactory, but does not have the chops to attain its lofty esports ambitions. At least, not yet. The Arena mode is kind of like a cop-out, as it is an asynchronous multiplayer mode. You get to challenge other invokers, with their squads of champions.
The ads are optional. You can increase the rewards for clearing each dungeon by watching a video ad in the end. You can also watch ads to get some stuff in games. However, most of the gear is obtained by just grinding through the dungeons. The microtransactions are not excessive. There is an energy mechanic, but there is always enough to keep you playing. If you actually burn through all the available energy, you probably need to take a break. The PvP mode consumes a totally different form of energy than the PvE mode. Gameloft is more stingy about the energy for the PvE mode. Everything in the game can be obtained by grinding through it. It is not really play to win at this point of time, as the PvP mode has its own set of stats.
Overall, this game has a lot going for it. The powers of the heroes are pure fun. It is a quick MOBA fix with each 5vs5 match lasting for about 20 minutes. The dungeons are fun to grind through.
Dungeon Hunters Champions – A half baked product
The problem with Dungeon Hunters Champions is that it suffers from not being a full fledged dungeon crawling RPG, or a MOBA. You cannot just focus on any one aspect of the game, and because of that, neither is truly satisfactory. You have to grind through the dungeons to get your gear and level up your champions. If you ignore the PvP aspect entirely, then you have a less than ideal dungeon crawler at this point of time. The lack of a PvE co-op mode kind of cripples the game. There is no auction house to sell your gear. The gear itself is just a bunch of junk that you carry around, without making any visible changes in your appearance. There is no town or fashion gear available. Despite all these limitations, it is at least worth checking out, considering the game is expected to get a ton of updates down the line. Dungeon Hunters Champions is free and available on iOS and Android.
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