The year was 2015 in China. Tencent Games, after acquiring Riot Games, asked Riot if they could port their magnum opus League of Legends into a mobile game. Riot rejected it, stating it was impossible. So Tencent decided to just make one by themselves. The result was Wangzhe Rongyao (unofficially translated as 'Honor of Kings'), a mobile MOBA with characters based on various Chinese figures. And it worked so well with the Chinese population that it became China's most popular mobile game.
Eventually Tencent decided it's time to port Wangzhe Rongyao into the international market. But something must be done with their overly Chinese cast which might not fit well with the international crowd. Thus, they redesigned most of their heroes into a new more 'Western' designs while keeping some of the Eastern designs. The name had to be changed as well. First they tried Realm of Valor, but then changed it into Strike of Kings... but in the end, they settled with Arena of Valor.
Arena of Valor is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game made by Tencent for mobile devices. While at first it looked a bit like a League of Legends (even aesthetically, as the map looked similar and there are bushes), the game differs from both this and the other mobile MOBA, Vainglory: It uses a virtual analog pad to move the characters, thereby allowing a gameplay that is viewed like League, but controlled with something similar to Smite (just without the 1st person view).
As with other MOBA, your job is to work with your team to destroy the enemy base. The background takes place in a fictional world called Athanor where the place was very much chaotic and lawless, where demons under the Ravanor race, Maloch, rampage the world. Everything changed when a knight named Arthur stepped forth and swore to upheld justice and faith, attempting to bring peace to the land and defending mankind. He valiantly fought against the forces of Maloch, enough that the demons started fighting back. Eventually, a few centuries later, even if Arthur passed away, his legacy has been passed through generations. Arthur was succeeded by the knight Thane, who continued the battle against Maloch's endless horde and still leading and guiding humanity.
The people gathering under Arthur and Thane became known as The Valiant Order, defenders of humanity, while Maloch's demonic forces became known as The Fallen, where Maloch struck an alliance with the Succubus queen Veera. Aside of these two factions, there are two other big factions, the Temple of Light, a priestly order that worships the Goddess of Light Ilumia and yet might have ulterior motives, and The Forest of Shadows, protectors of nature led by the Elven Queen Tel'Annas, who fought against The Fallen in their own way.
All in all, Athanor is set as a place where the war between factions will shape its destiny. Of course, much like every other MOBA, these stories have no bearing within the game.
The game is quite simplified from every other MOBA. First off, there are no wards or fog of war. Secondly, each heroes only have 2 normal skills as opposed to 3. They do, however, still have passive and ultimate. All these allowed a very quick, fast-paced experience of the MOBA genre. Additionally, there are no consumable items in this game. If you ever need to recover your health or mana, there is a 'Regenerate' skill that is always available to every of your heroes which allows you to regenerate a portion of health and mana over time as long as you don't get hit. The lack of consumable items means that there is no ward items, but somehow it doesn't cause any serious problems in balance.
This game is also notorious of several Guest Fighter, some made Canon Immigrant. Notable amongst them include Lu Bu and Diao Chan (with Diao Chan turned into an ice sorceress, Lu Bu gets his usual fare of a mighty warrior with his lunar halberd) and DC Comics superheroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and The Joker. The last batch is notable that before Arena of Valor, there was a DC Comics-based MOBA, Infinite Crisis. It was shut down shortly after it went live at Steam. So the DC heroes were kind of making an exodus to this game, and even Batman had his own lore modified a bit that he kind of helped Thane's crusade a little.
There's also a character based on an Indonesian classic/best selling action comedy novel, the loony martial artist Wiro Sableng. Due to AOV's popularity in SE Asia and Indonesia, Wiro has an early release there, and he will also get ported to the international versions eventually.
Thanks to the analog-based control and the fast-paced nature of the game, Arena of Valor would eventually receive a port on Nintendo Switch, making it the first mobile MOBA to receive a console port.
Tropes associated with the game
- Adaptational Ugliness:
- The Wangzhe Rongyao counterpart of Azzen'ka, an abominable faceless sand wraith, is Zhenji, a stunning beauty who controls water (probably best known for her appearance in Dynasty Warriors games).
- The original counterpart of Kriknak, a deadly, scary giant beetle, is... Nakoruru. Yes, that Nakoruru.
- Downplayed with Wangzhe Rongyao's edition of Mai Shiranui, one of video games' most known Ms. Fanservice. She is adapted into Raz, a fierce human fighter who is definitely not a Bishōnen, but at least looks wicked rugged enough to avoid being completely ugly.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Downplayed. Wangzhe Rongyao has a lot of super cute designs for their heroes. Arena of Valor has a more 'western', less-cutesy design, but doesn't go overboard with gore or scowling faces.
- Angelic Beauty: Lauriel, known as the Archangel, is a beautiful blonde angel with Stripperiffic outfit.
- Badass Normal: As usual, Batman. In the face of supernatural powers? Magic? Exotic weapons? Bruce Wayne just needs a few of his Batarangs and a hook to the face (and some stealthy skill) to kick ass.
- Big Red Devil: Maloch has this design and this also set him up as the Big Bad overall.
- Bilingual Bonus: Knowing Bahasa Indonesia (and some of its slangs) will make you understand what Wiro Sableng is saying. Likewise, knowing Japanese will make you understand what Bloodthirst Ryoma and Sakura Fubuki Airi is saying.
- Bonus Boss: Two of them:
- Kraydus the Abyssal Dragon. The boss started out weak, but over time will get stronger and in 10 minutes, will be replaced with a more powerful version of itself (Enraged Kraydus). Beating it yields a buff that will enhance your hero depending on their class and a buff that will make the whole team more durable against...
- The Dark Slayer. The boss is the major boss that might require more than one hero to take down. Beating it gives you a whole team buff and the privilege to summon a Drake, a special siege monster that can take out towers quick and safe out of the towers' range (but will still go down if ganged up by heroes)
- Cultural Translation: The majority of Wangzhe Rongyao heroes were heavily based on Chinese culture, so when it became Arena of Valor, they had to redesign to be less exclusively on China. Wukong, Lu Bu and Diao Chan were so far the only Chinese characters left (and even they were using the skillset of another character). Thus far, the differing cultures touched upon are:
- The United States: Heroes from DC Comics: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and The Joker.
- Indonesia: Wiro Sableng.
- Thailand: The Muay Thai skin for Raz.
- Japan: The Bloodthirst skin for Ryoma and Sakura Fubuki skin for Airi, complete with Japanese voiceovers (Ryoma's provided by Kazuya Nakai).
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Coming from Vainglory would be a harsh experience to get used to this game because of the different movement control scheme in general.
- Expy: Diao Chan here is pretty much a mobile version of Crystal Maiden, since her offensive skills were pretty much like Crystal Maiden's (although her freeze is AOE). The exception is that Diao Chan lacks a Brilliance Aura (increase in mana regeneration), but makes it up with her Passive that lets her deal more damage to frozen enemies.
- Almost all of the AoV characters are copies of the Wangzhe Rongyao characters, although Wukong is the only character that stayed intact. WZRY!Diao Chan's skillset was given to Lauriel, while Diao Chan herself is using the ice set from Wang Zhao Jun (which also made her an Expy of Crystal Maiden above). WZRY!Lu Bu's skillset was given to Maloch, while Lu Bu ironically used the skillset that belonged to Cao Cao.
- Another weird case would be the two spearmen Zanis and Zephys. Zanis is the traditional honorable spearman while Zephys is the evil sadistic spearman. Zephys' skillset was taken from Wangzhe Rongyao's rendition of Zhao Yun, whose personality is more like Zanis. While Zanis' skillset was taken from Wangzhe Rongyao's rendition of... Dian Wei, who looked rather sinister and kind of demonic, which is more in line with Zephys.
- Guest Fighter: Currently for Arena of Valor, it's the DC heroes and Wiro Sableng. However, for Wangzhe Rongyao, Tencent made a deal with SNK Playmore to include Nakoruru, Ukyo Tachibana and Mai Shiranui
- Horny Devils: Veera, a succubus that shares the leader throne of The Fallen with Maloch.
- Invisibility: Only a few heroes have this mechanic, Batman being one of them. And you almost had no way to reveal them since there is no ward... except if you lure them near your tower... or you're Lindis.
- Jerkass Gods: Ilumia, despite being the Goddess of Light (or people came to believe as such due to her powers), is rather self-righteous and can be rather nasty on a whim.
- Kitsune: Liliana, an elegant Nine-Tailed Fox who can be a magic-slinging girl or turning into a literal fox slashing through her enemy. She also has a Kumiho skin, as a Shout-Out to the other more known MOBA Nine Tailed Fox Ahri.
- Knight in Shining Armor: This game doesn't have just one hero with this design, but three: Arthur, Thane and Astrid. All three specialize as tanky warriors.
- Light Is Not Good: The Temple of Light contains several characters that aren't morally sound despite their epithet being the bearers of light. Ilumia is a prime example, being revered as the Goddess of Light, and yet could be really selfish and power-hungry. Another is Gildur, who's decked in and able to create shiny gold things, but is also power hungry. While they still fight the force of darkness under Maloch, they're really morally grey. However, the Temple of Light also had genuinely good people like Lauriel, Xeniel and Jinnar.
- Lightning Bruiser: Superman. He has a speed steroid and when he flies, whenever he strikes, he zips into the enemy in a quick speed. And he hits like a truck even on normal attack alone. There's a good reason why he's often sitting in the top of the tier list.
- The Mole: Lore-wise, Raz looks like he defected to the Fallen faction while in truth he's spying on the behalf of Thane.
- Monkey King Lite: Averted. The Wukong here is the real deal, as his lore picked him up right after his ascension to Buddhahood.
- Ms. Fanservice: There are a lot of ladies that are reasonably very attractive with provoking clothes to go. Diao Chan, Lauriel, Veera, Natalya, Tel'Annas come to mind. Mina is fully clothed, but has super skin tight clothes to make up for it.
- Nature Hero: The majority of the heroes belonging to the Forest of Shadows are basically protectors of the forest which was threatened by the evil forces of The Fallen.
- Non-Indicative Name: The Flash is designated as a Mage, but make no mistake, he didn't learn sorcery. It's just that his Super Speed-based fighting prowess makes him more suited for a mage-like skill set.
- Skill Gate Character:
- The tutorial locks you to use Valhein, and overall, he's the quintessential newbie character: He hits hard and his skills are mostly about how much he can unload a lot of damage by unleashing his skills all at once. A good choice for those who just started out.
- Arthur is another example, as he's considered to be extremely similar with one of League of Legends' Skill Gate Character, Garen, but can remain viable in higher level once mastered. Since Riot Games was owned by Tencent, they must have had this in mind when designing Arthur.
- You Will Not Evade Me: Grakk's Devil Chain is the token MOBA 'Hook' skill. Get used to hiding behind the creeps whenever you're laning with him.
- Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth will have this effect as well, depending on your HP. She will approach you if you get hit while having above 50% HP, otherwise she drags you to her.