Blizzard Entertainment officially revealed the answer to that question on Tuesday, sharing that the first-ever Warcraft game built specifically for mobile devices is in development. Titled Warcraft Arclight Rumble, this isn’t a later port like Hearthstone or a downscaled version of an existing game but rather a title meant from the beginning to be played on phones and tablets.
The latest Warcraft game is designed for mobile devices, but it’s every bit as good as a full-fledged Blizzard Entertainment title. “We wanted to see what it would be like to create a Warcraft game on a mobile platform,” says Adam Kugler, associate game director at Blizzard Entertainment. “What if Blizzard just brought an awesome strategy mobile experience to the Warcraft universe?”
In Warcraft Arclight Rumble, players build their army up with different figurines. These are pulled from one of five Families: The Alliance, Beasts, Undead, Horde, and Blackrock. Each of these troops has distinct advantages and disadvantages, in addition to a general rock-paper-scissors format for melee, ranged, and flying units. Players will also collect Leaders, and these, like the rest of the figurines — there’s over 60 right now — are pulled from across the history of Warcraft. Your army can consist of everything from Gnoll Brutes to Jaina Proudmoore. You can customize a different army for each leader, meaning you’re encouraged to mix-and-match different unit combinations, especially since each Leader has their own unique bonuses.
Warcraft Arclight Rumble is about collecting minifigures and deploying them across the battlefield. Amusingly, it’s somewhat canonically set in the world of Azeroth as a mysterious gnome-engineered tabletop game that’s begun showing up across taverns and basements. After several hours hands-on, I’m happy to say there’s a lot of potential here. It’s a compelling experience that’s deceptively easy to learn but hard to master. There’s a lot of strategy involved and it always feels fun to play, so it could end up as one of the best Android games available.
At every point, I have to praise how this game feels authentically like Warcraft, to the point that there’s arguably more in common here with the older strategy games than with World of Warcraft. That’s by design, as Kugler notes that the game is “super-inspired by our own strategy roots” as well as other major mobile games. There’s also tons of personality in the individual figurines, with unique animations for when a unit levels up or is being viewed in the selection screen. “We embrace the term ‘joyful chaos,’” says senior animator Carin Huurnink, adding that the team has tried to include a wide range of minifigures, including more than a few that players might not be super-familiar with.
The gameplay unfolds in what Blizzard calls “tower offense” as you’ll deploy your troops down various lanes to try and defeat a boss at the end within the allotted time. It’s a simple concept but one that can be quite challenging in practice, and I found myself having to rethink my approach in more that a few battles. There’s usually some unique twist or new enemy to face every time you advance through the game’s expansive single-player story, meaning that it always feels fresh to continue playing. The bite-sized format of battles is also perfect for anyone with a hectic schedule. You can play for just a few minutes at a time and still feel like you’ve made decent progress.