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PAX Prime 2015: NetEase’s ‘Eternal Arena’ Combines MOBAs with Action-RPG Structure

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NetEase is definitely keeping busy. The Chinese publisher is expanding rapidly into the US, and their presence at PAX Prime 2015 had them showing off the recently-released Speedy Ninja (Free), along with a few other games, including a pair of artsy puzzle games that will be free without IAP.

While I’ve seen plenty of action-RPGs in my day to the point that it’s hard to tell many of them apart, Eternal Arena has an interesting gimmick to it in that the game is basically a MOBA with action-RPG structure. Levels are setup around where you’re pushing with a team of 3 heroes to defeat the enemy base, though boss battles will mix up the proceedings. Additionally, you have a multiplayer mode that takes place asynchronously against matchmade opponents, though a real-time local multiplayer mode is also an option.

This one is curious in large part because while MOBAs are popular because they’re balanced and refined to a T, this decides to use the conventions of a growing genre to make for its own thing. After all, the rules and conventions of MOBAs are well-defined now to where you could do something like this. And there’s got to be plenty of people who want to enjoy MOBA style gameplay with perhaps more of a singleplayer focus, and an actual RPG character leveling and progression. It’s easy to see where there’s an audience that could take to this, and hey – it was memorable enough in a crowded haze of games. This should go worldwide later this fall.

Lunar Flowers and The Beautiful Dream are decidedly not MOBAs, though. Lunar Flowers is an artsy puzzle game, albeit a brutally-challenging one, where you are tasked with doing things like matching flower patterns based on reflections in water, drawing incoming shapes like in Magic Touch, and more than what I was able to see. It’s gorgeous, but the current version of the game on display proved to be quite the challenge. This one will be available for free without in-app purchases in the fall.

The Beautiful Dream was very early on, but this is also expected to release this fall. This is another artistic-minded puzzle game, based on Chinese mythology, where you use colors and mix them to solve puzzles and to advance the story along. It’s beautiful in motion, and definitely has some promise to it. This, too, will be free without in-app purchases.

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