Welcome back! I’ve gone rogue again and tried a different game to review, AFK Arena. You know, it gets boring playing only one game all the time. But this way, I can help you not waste time with mediocre games by trying them myself and giving you my honest thoughts.
Today, I’m looking at AFK Arena. I’ve spent a bit of time checking back on the game over the past few weeks. Especially given the horrendous name (AFK is old-tie computer slang for “away from keyboard”). Is that supposed to be a marketing tactic? Because I don’t buy it.
Anyway, dig in and enjoy the show, or whatever you do while you’re reading my blog.
AFK Arena Score: 3.8/5
AFK Arena is very similar to Lords Mobile in a few ways. It’s primarily a hero collection game, or Gacha, as the young kids call it these days. At first glance, the hero collection process is somewhat similar to the basic premise of Lords Mobile. You gather as many heroes as you want, level them up by spending resources, and let them fight in a PvE campaign or against other players in PvP combat.
When you first install the game, you’ll get a few starter heroes and a pretty lengthy introduction with training fights that shouldn’t take a lot of time (or effort) to go through. After that, however, you’re more or less left to your own devices.
The hero mechanics are three-fold, in that there are three different statistics to note about each hero. I think the game’s burden of knowledge, or how much information you need to keep in mind at all times, is quite decently placed. Novice gamers get to enjoy the game without thinking much about it, while hardcore players get a lot of freedom to organize a team strategy and approach combat.
Primary Statistics and Hero Roles
The primary statistics used by the heroes in AFK Arena are similar to those in Lords Mobile. You get STR, AGI, and INT heroes, which basically defines their role in the team and what damage they can do. Since you should already know these stats by now, I won’t bore you with the details.
The next category is hero class and, again, this is eerily similar to Lords Mobile. If you’ve been paying attention, you might be noticing a trend here. You get tanks, warriors, mages, rangers, and supports. These classes are pretty much self-explanatory.
The tanks can survive for longer due to higher health pools and defensive abilities. Warriors are usually the primary damage dealers, focusing on high damage output. Mages are your run-of-the-mill spellcasters, with relatively weak attacks and powerful abilities to cripple the enemy. Rangers focus more on swiftness and evasion (they’re mostly AGI heroes) and assassinating the weakest targets. Supports come in different forms but usually aim to either protect your team with positive buffs and healing or prevent the enemy from acting with a controlling or delaying mechanic.
You’ll usually need one of each on a team if you want a well-rounded party, but you can forgo a particular class if you need to go all-in on a specific type of damage. Overall, the party compositions in AFK Arena are very similar to ones you’ve encountered in Lords Mobile, and you shouldn’t have problems adjusting to it.
The third mechanic, which is a bit of a standout, is the hero alignments, or factions. There are six of these in the game, and their descriptions are far too wordy and complicated to remember and list here. The first four of these factions follow a rock-paper-scissor pattern, where each gets a faction they’re weak and strong against. The remaining two work on a separate axis, being only strong against one another. This style of allocating strengths and weaknesses in different factions is engaging, as it allows you to play with different team compositions and adds another dimension to the game.
Hero parties also get a bonus depending on how many heroes of a particular faction you have, giving you an incentive to pile heroes of the same alignment together. However, this is a double-edged sword as an opposing party might have factions that naturally counter a higher proportion of your team.
I’ve quite liked the concept of hero mechanics in the game. While the gameplay itself is kind of similar to Lords Mobile – you don’t really get much control over the actual combat – the planning phases make up for this deficit.
The primary gameplay pattern of AFK Arena is quite simple. You assemble teams to send on PvE campaigns or fight other player’s forces in PvP. The PvE content in the game gets pretty extensive. Depending on how far you progress in the campaign, you can access endless different game modes for various prizes. Options include an almost-endless mode that pits you against waves of enemies until your party dies and rewards you based on the floor you’ve reached, or a weekly-changing adventure that hands out unique prizes. There are also puzzle-based modes which break the monotonous gameplay and brings a fresh perspective.
The PvP aspect of AFK Arena is decent. You get matched with opponents close to your current rank and you get rewarded if you come out victorious. Since the game is trendy, there are usually always competitors for all skill levels. New players will usually go against other newbies until the game can calculate their rank appropriately.
As its name implies, the game actually encourages you to play it only for a short time each day, as further progress grinds to a halt. This can be both a blessing and a curse. If you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to devote yourself for long, AFK Arena can be that bridge during a lengthy bus ride. But if you’re addicted to the game, you might find yourself begging for more gameplay on a daily basis.
AFK Arena is more laid-back and has a cartoony vibe to it. The hero art is incredibly well-made, and I wish we could get some of their artwork back in Lords Mobile. The effects in-battle are not overwhelming, and you can usually figure out what’s going on pretty quickly. The game’s art style might not be for everyone, but I immensely enjoyed the change of scenery, at least for a while.
No mobile game review is complete without looking at their payment plan and how it earns actual money. The game features a purchasable VIP system, which grants you a few notable perks to ease some parts of the gameplay and help you collect more heroes at a faster pace. Some VIP features can be unlocked by going through the motions as a free-to-play gamer, but sometimes progress can feel a bit slow. While microtransactions help break through some of the gameplay barriers, they are not necessary to get full enjoyment from the game.
The game also heavily rewards addictive play patterns, such as daily log-in bonuses and collecting weekly task rewards. We should get used to these tactics at this point, since mobile gaming won’t change until they clearly stop working. Considering the games’ popularity, that won’t happen for a while, at least not on a significant scale. Still, a man can hope.
As far as game enjoyment goes, AFK Arena is a worthy contender for a top mobile game. It has clean graphics and an attractive style, and its gameplay is in line with similar titles. The game’s strategy portion gets a plus from me because it forces you to increase your knowledge to play the game successfully, while also simplifying the surrounding mechanics to make it easy to get into.
I will be playing more of this game for a bit, at least until I inevitably get bored of it and Lords Mobile comes out with new content to try. As for your lot, feel free to check it out. It’s got fairly low system requirements, so older machines should be able to run it without a hitch.