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Everything we know about Warcraft Arclight Rumble (Exclusive Interview)

By Johnson Ge
May. 7, 2022 updated 10:46

Contributed by Aria

On May 3, Blizzard revealed its new mobile game Warcraft Arclight Rumble. They also announced there would be a test on Android and iOS later in specific regions.

It is a strategy game based on the universe of Warcraft. Players may build their teams with famous characters like Jaina and Grommash, beat through over 70 single-player campaigns, challenge the co-op dungeons with their friends, and compete with other players in PVP. You may check the following trailer to have a brief look at the game:

 

We initially had many assumptions about this "new Warcraft mobile game". We thought it might be an MMO or MOBA. We thought about strategy games like Rise of Kingdoms, where players team up and conquer others. It was a surprise when we saw the actual game was a bit like a casual game with a cartoony art style.

We had been invited to a small-scale closed playtest and experienced half of the game's levels.

In my personal view, the experience was quite different from the impression I had from the trailer. There will not be a detailed game review since the game is still in the developing and testing stage. Instead, let's talk about the points players might have concerns about.

1.      Warcraft Arclight Rumble may look like a Warcraft version of Clash Royale: it has a combination playstyle of tower defense and RTS with cartoon-style characters. But instead of focusing on PVP, the core feature of Warcraft Arclight Rumble is the PVE single-player campaign.

Each level is carefully designed with different map mechanisms, routes, and Boss features. To beat those levels, players need to carefully pick their Leaders, an army of Minis, and Spells based on the scenario. It feels like a regular RTS campaign.

A screenshot of the in-game level.A screenshot of the in-game level.

2.     There are no Gacha-style micro-transactions or loot boxes, and players get new cards from the level reward or the market. Meanwhile, gold is the only in-game currency and is obtained from the level reward, daily quest, and purchased with real money (with a daily limitation). The most effective way to get stronger is by clearing the campaign and daily quests.

A screenshot of the in-game market which will be refreshed every Sunday.A screenshot of the in-game market which will be refreshed every Sunday.

3.     There are three categories of cards: Leaders, Minions, and Spells. Each card has a marker representing five different families (Alliance, Horde, Beast, Blackrock, and Undead). Players can build their team with a mix of families or focus on a single-family so that they can benefit most from the leader's buff. The cards can be leveled up via winning battles, completing daily quests, or purchasing exp items from the market. There will be additional power-ups like talents unlocked in the latter part of the campaign.

A screenshot shows Jaina getting the Blink talent after the player clears the 30th level.A screenshot shows Jaina getting the Blink talent after the player clears the 30th level.

4.     The levels are challenging. After the beginner tutorial, players must choose wisely to beat each level since their AI opponent has better cards or map advantages against them. Sometimes players will need to retry the level multiple times to figure out how to win, especially in the boss fights (it feels like solving a chess puzzle).

 

There are dungeon levels besides the main campaign. The dungeon levels contain some Rogue-like features, such as random talents similar to the Adventure in Hearthstone.

A screenshot shows the talents in Dungeon.A screenshot shows the talents in Dungeon.

5.     There is limited PVP content at this moment. The game does not offer a friends list or private PVP, so the only choice is random matchmaking. Winning will gain daily quest progress and significant experience for cards.

All cards will be set to level 1 in PVP in the current test. The talents and leader buffs will remain available. In this case, having higher-level cards will not help the player win the match. The key to winning is all about tactics and skills.

The Warcraft Arclight Rumble playtest presents a Real-Time-Strategy game focusing on level design and tactics. They also put many limitations on their payment design. Due to the fact the game is still in progress, there might be updates and changes in the future.

We also had an interview with the development team of Warcraft Arclight Rumble recently. We raised some interesting questions, and you may check the details follows: 

Q: The first question is, when did you make the final decision on the gameplay of this game?

A: That's a fun question because we're not even quite in our beta yet, and I wouldn't say anything is final. But let me answer what I think you're asking. We love strategy games, we love a variety of games here, and Blizzard has a long history of strategy games. This is an authentic deep Warcraft experience on your mobile device. It's a fun strategy game, and we hope you'll enjoy it when you get a chance to play it.

Q: For a mobile strategy game, what kind of difference and experience do you want to bring to players on the mobile platform

A: Warcraft Arclight Rumble is our take on a mobile action-strategy experience. It is a space that we don't feel has enough representation in the mobile platform. We've created a core PVE campaign, as you heard, with 70+ maps. We also added a lot of depth to the game by adding multiple modes like PVP and working on other ones like co-op, Dungeon, and raids. So we think that what we have brought to mobile is something unique to the platform. We also know that Warcraft itself is not fully represented on mobile except Hearthstone. So this is another addition to the Warcraft franchise on mobile.

Strategy games are deeply part of Blizzard's DNA. They're part of our background going back to Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, more than 25 years ago. We love strategy games here. On mobile, one fun thing about Warcraft Arclight Rumble is that the matches are quick. Just a couple of minutes to play. And that means that you can have a quick match anytime: while you're waiting for a table at a restaurant, taking a bus or a train somewhere, while you're waiting for a friend. And that's been more challenging or not present on PC experiences. So we think that's something special and super fun about Warcraft Arclight Rumble on mobile.

Q: In the CG, we saw that in-game units are more like the vanilla game or the original Azeroth. Will this game be like a World of Warcraft and have new expansions and new storylines along the way

A: Right now, we don't have any specific plans to build passed classic World of Warcraft. Warcraft Arclight Rumble is a game, and our fantasy for the game is that it's set in a magical gnome-engineered machine that's in the taverns and inns in Azeroth.

With that, you play across all of those maps set in the classic World of Warcraft zones. The original contents of Azeroth, like Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdom, hopefully, will be familiar to you if you have been a World of Warcraft player. For right now, that's what our game is based on, and we wouldn't rule anything out for the future, but no specific plans passed that.

Q: So, how important is the PVP in Warcraft Arclight Rumble. Will there be more features like the arena? Or will there be something like ranked play or professional matches

A: Yeah, you hit on it. PVE is the core and the primary game mode for this game. That's where we reference 70 maps. Those are all a part of the PVE campaign. But we also know that players like to do more social things, which is why we plan for PVP, co-op, and dungeon raids. We have a version of PVP under testing right now, but it is a feature that we plan to evolve. Our biggest thing is to make sure that we still have the same real-time combat excitement, but also ensure that we have fair match play to make sure people are battling against others that are the same level.

Q: I just want to ask about the in-game purchase. What is it like?

A: We thought about that very long and hard. Our design was set forth from the very beginning to think of every step of the player's journey.

Through natural progression and just playing through the maps. The player can tap into their strategy strings to figure out the right way to defeat a boss. And when you clear levels, you're earning XP that goes to the units that you already have. You'll also discover new units that come from the enemy side. And once you see those for the first time, they become units that you can unlock and acquire as well.

So the way you can acquire and level up characters you can do two ways: One is through natural progression and just earning enough gold, which is our in-game currency. And then you use that gold to unlock a character that you acquire, and you can also use that goal to increase their XP As well.

 But we do have real money options as well, where you can pay for gold with real money to use to buy characters. We don't have a Gacha system and what we have is a rotating store design. It's something that we will be testing when the betas are released. But the idea is that we wanted to make sure that players had the chance to select the units that they wanted to buy. So the store will rotate every certain number of hours. There'll be a set number of characters on the store at a good point. You can make the choice of which character you want to unlock. But it's not a Gacha system where you're buying the chest and rolling the dice to see what you're going to acquire.

Q: How long have you been developing this game, and what is the size of the developer team right now

A: We have been asked this question a lot, and it's a little bit of a strange answer. Because a lot of our ideas start very small from a core group, who have an idea for something we want to explore, over time, as the idea grows, we got more resources behind it. So there's no one real timeline or size. We've had excellent support from our organization. Blizzard is fully behind us and giving us the resources we need to build this game. That is how we're able to show you the content that we talked about, the 70 maps, the 60 minis, and all the game modes. We are fully resourced to bring this experience to you.

Q: From what we know so far. It's a little bit like Supercell's Clash Royale. Did you draw any inspiration from that game

A: Yeah. I would say when game makers make games; they draw inspiration from so many games. The core inspiration came from our strategy roots as a franchise.

Our team also has people that were big mobile game fans. There are a lot of games that our team, including me, are playing. When you start forming ideas that evolve, that's what leads to the output of the product that we made today.

I think that we like to separate ourselves because we're trying to make a game that has a replayable nature, a really fun PVE campaign, and the ability to give players rich choices. I'll say a lot of games inspired us, but it all started with our roots as strategy games.

Q: We know that Warcraft is a classic IP, and it's a treasure as well as a burden in some ways. Did it weigh down on you during the development?

A: I worked at Blizzard for more than 20 years, and every year I've worked at Blizzard, I've worked on a warcraft game, and I've never found it a burden. I love Warcraft. I think that it's a great world with incredible stories, conflicts, heroes, journeys, locations, and abilities. It's a world of magic and quirky technology. And I love working in it, and I love the adventures we have in it. I love what we can go through while playing the Warcraft Arclight Rumble. We are traveling familiar zones from the classic World of Warcraft and going on that journey of exploration again. This time set in a crazy machine run by Gnomish gear works (hopefully, it won't explode). But I've never found it a burden. I love working on Warcraft.

Q: I know it's still early. But do we have a very rough timeline on when it will be released

A: We don't. We're hoping soon, but we're not ready to communicate a date or a timeline.