China seems to have a big thing for Warcraft. World of Warcraft is still going strong, and now one of China's best mobile games, Dota Legend, is based off the original Defense of the Ancients mod.
Released in February 2014, Dota Legend has climbed, and at times dominated, China's mobile app charts. According to certain internet polls, the game is the number one game in China, and app analytics company App Annie consistently ranks it among the top 15 games on the iOS app store in China. PocketGamer reports that the game was the top grossing in China back in June.
So what is Dota Legend? Is it a game similar to its namesake, a MOBA? No. Instead of a MOBA, Dota Legend is something more akin to a role-playing card collector. Players collect character cards to unlock heroes that they level up through the use of in-game gold and items. Characters also gain experience points battling monsters and the like.
What makes the game popular in China might just be its similarities to China's MMOs. On its surface, Dota Legend is a one-handed game that is simple to pick up and play, but dig a little deeper, and the game offers an interesting player-versus-player mode.
Players start the game with traditional Warcraft characters such as the Human and the Night Elf. As they progress other Warcraft, well Dota, staples start to appear. The way the game approaches the player is similar to how Riot and League of Legends does, referring to the player as the summoner, however in this instance the breaking of the fourth wall isn't as direct.
The basic objective of the single player campaign is to break across the world and defeat bosses. Since the game is online only, the campaign is near endless. Each battle is comprised of three skirmishes where the player's team of five take down the enemy team. The only interaction the player has at this stage is to choose when to unleash each hero's special. Timing is everything. A properly timed stun from the Tauren's hammer can mean success or game over.
Armed with cute and colourful, though poorly voiced, characters, Dota Legend doesn't seem like much at first. But as the game gets going it becomes more enthralling watching the little heroes you've invested your time into kill other little heroes. In a way, the game has a sim management element that harkens to Game Dev Story, and like GDS you tap your little person to launch their super.
Dota Legend is free to play and available for iOS and Android. Sadly the game is in Chinese only, despite having Facebook integration; that feature was built for gamers in Taiwan and Hong Kong. There is however an English equivalent called Heroes Charge, that is exactly the same as the Chinese version, except with more "western" centric artwork and English language controls and text.