Meet Crytek's Arena of Fate, a 5v5 MOBA which has been designed to reduce the conflict players experience not only with each other, but with the game itself. In the words of Crytek Publisher Producer David Bowman, AoF places strategic decisions into the metagame while pushing tactical decisions into immediate gameplay.
Non-MOBA translation: Less homework, more crushing your enemies.
"We've tried to make this game very approachable. So we've tried to remove some of the toxic elements that exist in, unfortunately, some of the other products," Bowman told Joystiq at E3 2014. "In order to do that, we started with the design questions of what was actually causing conflict among teams."
Bowman highlighted the in-team competition MOBA players face for gold as an example. In many MOBAs, only the player who gets the last hit on an AI-controlled minion gets the gold reward, which in turn allows them to buy more powerful items sooner. Bowman said this creates tension and competition with teammates, instead of fostering a cooperative attitude.
Arena of Fate sidesteps this problem by giving all friendly players within proximity of a minion kill a share of gold. The reward is not divided, but given in equal amounts to all players involved; instead of one person getting 50 gold, everyone nearby gets 50 gold. This encourages players to help their teammates rather than fight with them over who gets what.
Of course, once you have gold, you need to know what items to buy, right? Will it be Whizbang's Spricky-Widget? Azathoth's Chaos Powder? <Insert complex item name here>? None of the above, because there is no item store in Arena of Fate. Instead, players will level up and earn passive bonuses for their character. In other words, instead of buying a cloak of +2 spell resistance, you just choose to become more resistant to magic attacks when you level up.
Bowman said the ability for heroes to adapt via their stats means they're not constrained to a single, immutable role. "A lot of players have to un-learn what they knew from other games," Bowman told Joystiq. The lack of a store also helps keep players out on the field of battle and actively engaged in trying to win rather than farming for gold.
Even if the game had a store, you wouldn't want to hang back and loiter around it, as matches in Arena of Fate run on a countdown timer. From the moment a battle begins, teams have 20 minutes to try to out-score their opponents. You can win by destroying the enemy base a la League of Legends or Dota 2, but otherwise the game operates on points: one point for each tower, one point for each seven kills of enemy players, one point for slaying massive beasts called Titans. First to 10 points wins.
Crytek is entering a market dominated by two heavyweight games, each with sizable, passionate, fiercely loyal audiences. It's also a market that is expanding rapidly, with games from Turbine, Atari, Ironclad Games, Deep Silver and Blizzard all eyeing the MOBA genre with keen interest. Heck, there's even a browser-based Adventure Time MOBA from Cartoon Network. Oversaturation is a very real threat to Arena of Fate's potential success.
That being said, we can't deny the coolness factor of Jack The Ripper vs. The Chupacabra. We'll find out if Crytek gets to live happily ever after this summer, when the game enters its PC beta.