There a new trend wafting about the MMO scene at the moment; have you noticed it? I’m only just now picking up on it myself. People are calling it ‘Aeon of Strife’. It the new DoTA. It fresh. It funky. It mixing up the way we play games in all the right ways. And I like it. The concept is simple; select a hero, level up by killing monsters that attack via ‘lanes’, avoid enemy heroes until you’re sure you can win then co-ordinate with your allies and attack. Avalon Heroes is, in essence, one such game. It similar to DoTA, and HoN, and LoL in every conceivable way, yet oh-so-different. Let me show you why.

**FASTEST HANDS IN THE WEST** But first, let talk similarities. Much like all Aeon of Strife titles, Avalon Heroes, at the core, is a room-based action MMO that wrongfully considers itself a RTS. Yes, fine, there some strategy involved. There *some* strategy involved in just about every game ever created. That doesn’t make them RTS, nor does it make Avalon Heroes, or any other AoS-style game one. They’re action MMOs, through and through, and they’re mostly awesome for exactly that reason. You don’t need to think a lot in order to play Avalon Heroes; you pick your hero (or ‘Kin’), join a game and begin to master the art of the APM (actions-per-minute), as in order to play well, you’re going to need to be fast with your hands.

Why do you need to be fast with your hands? Well, because it your speed and timing that will ultimately dictate your success. It difficult to explain exactly how this works, as it something you really need to experience yourself, but in short: as your character increases in level, it will unlock the ability to use new skills (3 normal, 1 ultimate; another AoS tradition), and as these skills are almost always used for attacking other enemy players, the ability to use them effectively is, ultimately, the key to success. This is because, for the most part, using skills on normal enemies is considered a waste, and doing so will often see you suffering significant ridicule.

MIXING IT UP So, now you know what Avalon Heroes is; let move on to what makes it special. First: game modes. Unlike all other AoS-style MMOs, Avalon Heroes features multiple game modes that are, for the most part, entirely different from the standard AoS fare. First, there Mission Mode, which serves as a significantly extended tutorial that, once completed, should have you more than familiar with many of the item combinations (combining items together to create more powerful ones is, again, another AoS staple) and with many of the different Kin you’ll be up against during normal games.

Then, there Scenario Mode, which serves as a fully-fleshed single-player campaign that serves multiple functions: it allows you to better come to terms with the controls and characters, it offers players interested in the lore and story in Avalon Heroes a way to experience it fully, and most importantly, it allows you to unlock additional Kin to use during standard games. Not bad! Of course, it not without its own share of common issues, and regrettably, they’re pretty severe. While the single-player gameplay is actually quite enjoyable, the story suffers from a constant spattering of poor translation, drawing you from any chance of real immersion and leaving you with another grindfest. That said, as far as grindfests go, it a pretty bloody good one.

Next, we’ve got Adventure Mode, which is in many ways similar to the experience you would receive in Scenario Mode, except that it multiplayer, and allows up to 8 players to adventure together simultaneously. And then there Arena Mode, which allows you to face off against a number of different monsters with legendary rewards on the line, and finally, Battle Mode, which offers the mostly standard AoS experience with a few added bonuses, such as item drops from enemy NPCs, and carry-over skills that can be earned through continuous play with a single Kin. Oh, and before I forget, there a final game mode that is not yet available, Siege Mode, and though I know nothing about it as yet, I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival. If it anything at all like the other game modes in Avalon Heroes, then I’m certain it something I’m going to enjoy.

Avalon Heroes is a fantastic addition to the AoS MMO genre that brings to the table an array of new and exciting game modes and features that aren’t found anywhere else; however, while it does offer new players to the genre a great place to begin their training, and old players a place to hone their skills, ultimately, an obvious lack in balance and item usefulness will likely keep the pros playing League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth. That said, the casual audience has a unique opportunity here to enjoy a ‘hardcore’ game, without the ‘hardcore’ players. And too, bask in the glory that is multiple game modes, unique and thorough tutorials, and innovative additions to the genre as a whole.

In terms of improvement, I really feel that the poor English translation is an issue here, as it drastically lowers the effectiveness of the story implementation during the Scenario and Mission Modes, and of course, continuing to improve upon issues of hero balance and item usefulness is a must. Whether or not these changes are already in the works remains to be seen; however, they are, for the casual gamer, a minor issue, and Avalon Heroes remains a must-play addition to the F2P genre.

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