Arena of Valor

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Arena of Valor App Poster Image
Fast-paced arena action has mild violence, lots of fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Easy controls, but like any multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, learning to use different heroes takes time.

Violence

Everything revolves around killing enemies, but it's bloodless, fantasy-style combat.

Sex

Some sexy, scantily clad female heroes.

Language

No bad language in app. Player chat could contain inappropriate references.

Consumerism

Players encouraged to buy things from in-app shop, but fun is possible without spending. Includes DC-branded characters like Wonder Woman, Superman.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Player chat could contain references to drugs, smoking, alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Arena of Valor is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game where a team of players fights a rival team to destroy the rival's base. Combat is the focus of the game, but attacks are of the fantasy variety and are bloodless, with enemies disappearing when defeated. The gameplay encourages in-app purchases; free play is possible, but progress (and hero collection) is easier when spending money. DC characters like Superman and Wonder Woman can also be unlocked with play. Players can play as guests or connect the app to their Facebook account. They can also friend one another and communicate via (toggle-able) in-game voice chat, which isn't moderated and could expose players to profanity, sexual or substance references, and more. Some female heroes wear skimpy outfits. The easy-to-read privacy policy details the kinds of information collected and shared. To read the privacy policy in full, visit the official Arena of Valor website.

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What's it about?

ARENA OF VALOR is the Western incarnation of popular Chinese multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game Honor of Kings. Like the well-known League of Legends, the app involves pitting two teams of either three or five players against one another -- the overall point is to destroy the enemy team's base. This is done by working together to destroy the enemy's defensive towers, and that's done by earning gold and experience points, as well as upgrading hero skills and equipment. Games last between 10 and 20 minutes, and each player receives a "credibility" score based on good sportsmanship. (This score affects weekly bonuses.) There's a tutorial and practice mode to learn heroes' abilities before taking them online, and three competitive versus game modes: 5v5 casual and ranked matches and a 1v1 Death Match/duel mode. By playing regularly, you can unlock a roster of unique fantasy heroes with various skills and abilities, including popular DC characters like Wonder Woman and Superman.

Is it any good?

Few games have been able to compete with PC-based MOBA games, and few have come close, especially on a mobile device, but this one does it in style. Arena of Valor improves on the control issues that frequently plague mobile versions of these games, making them easy to learn and easy to play. Even better than the control scheme is how accessible the game is. Traditionally, there's a lot to learn if you want to play a MOBA, and it can be overwhelming for new players. Arena of Valor takes the time to show new players how things work with an elegant tutorial mode and a single-player practice mode that lets you toggle damage and ability limitations while you learn to play new heroes. The Casual Match mode also helps with the intimidation factor, as does the default "off" status of chat. If you need to communicate with your teammates, voice chat lets you do it; you can opt to keep it off though, if you don't want some bossy big-mouth ruining your game.

Logging in daily grants useful rewards, and good sportsmanship earns you weekly rewards (players can give each other a thumbs-up after each match). Character build fanatics will enjoy the app's stat-boosting arcana, talents, and skills, and gear hoarders will enjoy the wide range of empowering items. Heroes are interesting, attractive, and varied, and the fact that you can earn many of them just by playing is motivation enough to spend time in the arena. If you've got to have them all, though (two words: "Wonder Woman"), you'll have to spend a few bucks. That said, there's a lot of cool entertainment to be had here, completely for free. So if you've been afraid thus far to take your chances among the MOBA sharks, wait no longer. Arena of Valor offers an accessible means of dipping your toe in the water.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about good sporting behavior. What do you think encourages people to be good sports? Rewards or punishment?

  • Think about the cost of free-to-play games. What's the most you've ever spent on a "free" game with optional in-game purchases versus a paid game?

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