December 1, 2022

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Blizzard Reveals Warcraft Arclight Rumble Strategy Game With First Trailer

Blizzard Entertainment has announced Warcraft Arclight Rumble, a brand-new entry in the long-running Warcraft franchise that marks its debut on mobile devices. A closed beta test was also announced as “coming soon” on both iOS and Android devices.

Warcraft Arclight Rumble is a real-time strategy game where players will collect miniature versions of Warcraft’s creatures and heroes, build armies with those miniatures, and wage small wars with big and nasty baddies. Minis will act autonomously when summoned, defeating the opponent’s forces and eventually the big bad itself in the process. Minis can be earned through normal gameplay or purchased with real-world currency, though any minis purchased with real money will hold no advantage over those earned in-game.

Now Playing: Warcraft Arclight Rumble – Gameplay Preview Trailer

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The game will feature a single-player campaign, one-off quests, PvP modes for battling against friends, and massive raids where multiple players can work together to defeat the most powerful enemies in the game. These modes will gradually unlock as the player completes single-player missions in the campaign.

Blizzard has referred to Warcraft Arclight Rumble as a “tower offense” game, focusing equally on defending your own base while attacking the opponent. To learn more, GameSpot recently spoke with two key members of the game’s development team, executive producer and VP Vik Saraf and Technical Director Monte Krol, about how Warcraft Arclight Rumble is the best way to bring the franchise to mobile devices for the first time.

We spent time discussing the return to the strategy genre, how fans of WoW that may not be familiar with old-school Warcraft can enjoy the game, and the technical challenges in bringing a game like this and its multiple formats to life. We also touched on a few of the concerns fans may have with the mobile platform–in-app purchases and “energy” systems employed by other games–and how this game approaches them.

This interview was conducted via video conferencing and edited for readability and clarity.

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While Warcraft Arclight Rumble has the classic look and feel of Warcraft past, it is not the traditional experience. While you were in the concept phase, was there some worry that the name “Warcraft” next to something like this to garner some criticism from older fans?

Krol: First and foremost, this is a Warcraft game. It looks and feels very much like Warcraft. I’ve been at Blizzard a long time, I worked on Warcraft III and its expansion way back when, and I look at this and get excited because it’s something that’s been part of our DNA for a long time. I feel like it’s hitting that Warcraft strategy feeling that we know really well.

Are you anticipating this to be a vehicle for players who are only familiar with World of Warcraft to perhaps go back and check out classic Warcraft?

Krol: We hope so! World of Warcraft brought the franchise to so many people in a different way than it ever did in the strategy games. I would love it if everyone who is familiar with the MMO had a chance to try this and get a taste of not just World of Warcraft, but the world of Warcraft.

Siraf: To add to that, we’re definitely hoping this game can have a positive effect on everyone, from those that may feel nostalgia for the Warcraft strategy games to World of Warcraft players to mobile players who have never tried Warcraft before.

What made the return to this strategy style the right call for this mobile game, as opposed to, for example, a third-person action game bearing some resemblance to WoW?

Krol: There’s no one answer to that, but the idea is that we’ve always made games that we also want to play, and we draw inspiration from a lot of different sources to do so. I feel like the ideas for this game came out of enjoying a variety of mobile games and desktop experiences, and thinking that we could bring something in the Warcraft strategy element to a great mobile experience.

Siraf: At its core, when we set out to start making this game, a lot of it was influenced by, as Monte said, games that we would want to see on a mobile device while tapping into the nostalgia of Warcraft’s strategy roots.

Regarding the term “tower offense” mentioned in the trailer, what went into the concept process of taking this unique approach to tower defense?

Krol: The term “tower offense” really reflects strategy roots. Strategy games have always been about manufacturing an assault and unleashing it against an enemy. In traditional strategy games it involved base-building and building the assault at the same time, here we focus on the assault part, but I feel like that gameplay idea has always been core to strategy games.

The game features 60 different heroes, each with their own traits and abilities. How will players go about collecting them? Are they all earned in-game? Is real-world currency involved?

Siraf: The player’s goals are to collect and upgrade minis, each one based off of characters in the Warcraft universe, and you’ll use them in real-time combat missions across a variety of game modes. We do have an in-game shop, but players can acquire these minis through earned gold by beating levels, but there are in-app purchase opportunities.

Some mobile games have an “energy” or “timer” system that says a player can’t progress until the timer runs out, but you can purchase an item that will make the time go faster. Does this game have that, or will players always have something to do every time they load the game?

Siraf: Very glad you asked that question: We do not have an energy system in Warcraft Arclight Rumble. When we set out to make this game, it was to create something that has depth in multiple game modes, that way whenever a player logs in they have something to do. PvE, PvP, co-op, etc, all of those choices were intentional so you can enjoy the experience at any time.

Regarding the five different families listed in the video, will there be a sort of rock-paper-scissors aspect where one is more powerful than another?

Krol: More than rock-paper-scissors, the power lies in how well a player synergizes their army within the family. For example, if you build an army with a leader from a specific family, then build your army with minis from that same family, you’ll get bonuses that will make you stronger. That said, you can play however you want, there’s freedom to mix and match between families. There are other ways to build armies too; you might want to use more Siege units, or a Flying army, and they also take advantage of a leader’s ability to buff an army.

Siraf: There’s no one family or unit that’s more advantageous than another: it’s all about how you customize your loadout per mission. You can, for example, have a full Alliance loadout if you want to, but you can also mix Alliance pieces with Horde pieces and pieces from the other families, and that’s intentional. Part of the strategy experience is when you’re going into a mission, you want to recon the map you’re going into, decide which units are best to attack the map’s layout, and build your army accordingly.

On the technical side, what is one of the biggest challenges your team has faced in Arclight’s Rumble development?

Krol: We love to bring an experience to as broad an audience as we can. For as long as I’ve worked on games, it’s always been a point of pride to bring players a great experience on whichever device you’re using. There’s a lot going on on-screen in Arclight Rumble, with multiple minis attacking across the map at all times, and we want that to play well and feel good the entire time. We’ll continue to work to make that happen.

Vik had mentioned PvP and co-op, which we imagine is a technical beast of a challenge as well. How much more difficult to work around things like ping and connection issues in a game like this, and do you find PvP or co-op implementation to be more challenging?

Krol: I would say, from my desk, the way our game is built, they’re actually very similar challenges. Making sure the single-player PvE and the PVP experiences play very similarly in terms of overall “feel,” that’s been one of the biggest technical challenges, and so far they feel very similar.

While no set timetable for the game’s launch has been announced, has planning begun for how you will continue to support Arclight Rumble even after the game is released?

Siraf: Before Blizzard I worked in mobile games for two decades, and one of the main goals of good mobile games is to be enjoyed for multiple years. We have certainly been thinking about post-launch content: features, events, things like that, but we are still working those details out. A lot of those decisions will also be made by the players via our beta tests; we want to hear feedback on this game, and that can help inform our future direction for post-launch support.

When a fanbase hears the word “mobile” next to an announcement, eyebrows can sometimes be raised. What would you say to those skeptical about this project to address those concerns?

Siraf: One truth that I’ve learned in my time in mobile games is that the most successful free-to-play games are exactly that: free to play. What I mean is they are well-balanced, allowing the player to progress and enjoy the game without spending a dime. That was a foundational design philosophy here, to build a game with every step of the player journey thought through so it can be enjoyed for many years without spending anything. There is an in-game shop option, yes, but through natural progression the player can tap into strategy strengths and figure out how to defeat a boss with the minis they’ve earned. Also, in terms of PvP, our matchmaking will group players of equal level, so there will always be an even playing field.

Krol: As we mentioned earlier, strategy games are deeply a part of our DNA. Hopefully people will give us a chance based on that alone, but we also think it’s a fun game that’s fast-paced and low-risk to try. We hope you pull your phone out, download it for free, get a taste for it, and hopefully that hooks people.