As you may have gleaned from our review, Solstice Arena [Free] isn't your standard free-to-play game. Sure, the game's doesn't have any up-front costs and it's loaded with premium currency IAP, but players never really encounter any pay walls and can, theoretically, play enough on their own to unlock the majority of the content in the game. Considering it's essentially a mobile MOBA, Solstice Arena focuses more on learning and practicing skills, with better players having a greater opportunity to earn valor, the standard currency in-game.
As such, our guide to Solstice Arena is roughly divided into two parts. The first part will provide some general tips and guidance for MOBA newbies on how to become a better player. The second part will focus specifically on what you can do to earn valor as well as some common sense rules to make the most of both your valor and any premium crystals you happen to purchase.
A Beginner's Guide to Solstice Arena
As a simplified MOBA with some significant constraints (no voice chat or text chat), there isn't as much strategy that can be formulated while playing Solstice Arena. Therefore, it's a pretty good idea to go into games with a few concepts under your belt. A lot of these will sound pretty familiar to experienced MOBA players, but they bear repeating for newcomers to the genre.
- Use Communication Signals - Solstice Arena comes with a decent set of in-game communication signals, such as telling your party to advance, retreat, collect specific items, or attack specific characters. As these are your only forms of communication, I'd highly recommend both using them to direct the action and following them when your allies use them (assuming they're actually asking something that makes sense).
- Hunt In Packs - Since there aren't any creeps or mobs in Solstice Arena, you'll be relying exclusively on your fellow heroes for support. Based on this, it's a pretty good idea to not attack the opposing team unless you either have an equal amount of heroes in the fight or (preferably) you outnumber them. This drastically increases the chance of winning the fight, giving you more coins, to purchase items and leads directly to the next tip.
- Always Stay Alive - This is obvious but very important (as it is in most MOBAs). It's especially important in Solstice Arena as your towers become inactive if all of your team is dead or not on the field (i.e. buying items are recovering in the starting area). Inactive towers means your enemies are going to have a field day taking them down. Thus, it's far more important to retreat and regroup, which will keep your towers up.
- Don't Be a Hero - A culmination of steps 2 and 3 above, trying to be a hero by taking on multiple heroes by yourself or running into enemy territory to try and get that one last shot on a hero is probably going to get you killed. Getting you killed puts you out of commission for precious seconds, gives bonus gold to the enemy and makes it harder on your teammates to defend your towers, let alone go on the offensive. If you're faced with a tempting decision to try and take a risk to maybe get a kill or some stats, it's always a good idea to regroup.
- Know Your Role - Unfortunately, due to Solstice Arena's random matchmaking, it's impossible to know what characters your teammates and enemies pick before the game starts. So, when I talk about knowing your role, I mean it in the sense of understanding what type of character you pick and knowing how to use them in battle. You're not going to be using Jericho to jump into frontlines or hang back with [Tank]. This includes knowing which elements are your priorities for picking up and which you should leave for your allies.
- Master Each Character - Obviously easier said than done, but it's a really good idea to experiment with every character available for use and understand the skills and abilities of each. There aren't any random draw type PvP games in Solstice Arena, but, as with any game in the genre, practice makes perfect and expanding your horizons beyond your favorite character is always a good idea.
- If Possible Balance Your Party - As I mentioned earlier, it's impossible to know what characters the other players pick before the game starts. However, if you're going to invite a bunch of friends for a PvP game, that doens't mean you can't communicate with them beforehand and plan out a balanced team from both an element and type standpoint. This will go a long way towards ensuring victory.
- The Chest Is Important, But Not That Important - Capturing the chest in the middle of the battlefield takes some time, but rewards everyone on your team with 100 gold. This puts you (and your allies) closer to purchasing stat-boosting items which increase your chance of success. Suffice to say, it's always a good idea to capture the chest during some downtime. However, make sure you pay attention to your surroundings and not get surrounded by enemies while trying to take the chest.
- Don't Be Afraid to Run Back and Shop - There's only one shop to purchase items for your hero, and that's at the starting area. So, unless you get killed and respawn back there, you're going to have to make a conscious decision to go back and purchase items. As with most elements of the game, there's a balance between taking the time to go back and shop while making sure you don't stockpile gold, depriving your hero of equipment that can turn the tide of the battle. Personally, I make an effort to go back once I get around 800 gold or so, as that guarantees that I'll be able to buy one (or more) items on the trip.
- Don't Be Afraid of Auto-buy - One feature that Solstice Arena has that I enjoy is auto-buy, which has the game automatically buy stat-increasing items for your hero as soon as you get back to the store. It allows you to get items quicker, which allows you to get back into the action faster. For beginners, I whole-heartedly recommend auto-buy as it's a nice way to focus more on battles rather than exploring menus and purchasing things. However, bear in mind that for real customization, you probably should pull up an item list outside of the game and study it so you'll know what to manual purchase in-game.
Tips for Earning Valor
Solstice Arena features two types of currency in-game. Valor is the standard currency that is awarded after each battle (whether you win or lose) while crystals are the premium currency that must be bought. While there isn't much that can be done to help with crystals (although see one of our tips below), there are some general guidelines that can be followed to maximize valor.
- Play Lots of Bot Matches - While bot matches aren't ranked and won't count towards your profile, they still earn you experience and valor. They are also the fastest matches to win, especially when you choose the easiest difficulties. Considering there isn't much of a change in valor earned between difficulties, I'd recommend playing lots of easy bot matches to quickly boost your valor stock.
- Doing Well Individually is Good, but the Win is Better - At the end of each match, Solstice Arena will award you a variety of badges with associated valor. Hitting objectives such as killing enemies, earning streaks, and capping chests all earn small amounts of valor, but the biggest award by far is winning the game. Thus, if you're looking to earn the most valor it's in your best interest to be a team player and play for the win, not necessarily the individual accolades.
- Play the Hell Out of all the Rotating Free Characters - Like League of Legends, Solstice Arena has a rotating cast of free heroes to try, each with their own classifications, stats, and powers. Also, like LoL it's also in your best interest to play all the available characters as much as you can. There are a few reasons for this: First, since the characters are free, you won't have to spend valor or crystals to purchase them. Second, it's a good way to develop mastery and figure out which heroes are your favorite (which, again, lets you save on those wasting your currency). Finally, if you develop a mastery of every rotating character, then you'll be able to, in theory, never spend any money on the game as you'll always have a go-to character regardless of which free ones are currently in rotation.
- Don't Purchase a Character Until You've Tried Them - Common-sense, but don't spend all your valor or crystals on a character that isn't on rotation and you haven't played before. Just because players on the forums enjoy a certain character doesn't mean you'll necessarily be able to use them effectively or even like them. True, you won't be able to try the hottest and newest characters (as those take the longest to go on rotation), but you'll save on money in the long run.
- Realize That If You Want Everything, You'll Need to Resort to IAP - While you can use valor to eventually purchase every character some items, such as character skins, will only be unlocked via crystals. Thus, if you're into appearance customization, I'd recommend saving your crystals for the skins that actually cost money and leave the character unlocking for valor. It might take longer in the long run, but you'll have to spend less crystals and, thus, less money on IAP.
Got any more tips for Solstice Arena? Feel free to share them in our forums or post a comment below.
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