A Cautionary Tale
Developed by Max Games Studios and available on Android, Mini Legends injects a new twist to the MOBA genre. Rather than control a single character, you can control up to five. This game will put your micromanaging skills to the test. Unfortunately, lurking underneath its cute art style and interesting gameplay is one hungry animal. And that animal eats money.
Some RTS in Your MOBA
In Mini Legends, there’s three lanes and a jungle. Minions will constantly spawn to take on the series of turrets that defend the enemy base in each lane. Alternatively, you can run through the jungle—the space between the lanes—only ever popping out to secure a kill. Gold you earn killing minions, monsters, and players can be handed in for gear. As far as MOBAs go, Mini Legends is standard in that regard.
What makes Mini Legends so unique is having to control five legends at once. You won’t have to actively move them yourself; the AI will keep them in their lane. This provides an opportunity to focus on a single legend if you so choose. However, you’ll be the one buying items for each character. That’s where micromanaging is key; otherwise, legends get thumped because they’re out geared.
Every legend in Mini Legends has their own unique abilities, usually two, sometimes three. In addition to abilities, every character can have their own Legend spell: high cooldown abilities that can offer utility, healing, and damage such as teleporting or a boost of speed. Legend spells are the equivalent to Summoner spells in League of Legends. I found Mini Legends’ Legend spells to be far more distinct than a character’s abilities, often boosting the simplistic nature of a Legends’ abilities.
With so few abilities, Mini Legends turns stale quickly. The lack of content seeps into every inch of the game. There’s only 11 legends to choose from, and even a few I noticed on the loading screen are unavailable. Only two game modes exist: Saga and Multiplayer. Saga is a single-player mode where you challenge the AI. Multiplayer is split into 1v1 and 2v2. If you pick 2v2, you share five characters. What about one Legend versus another? What about duos, where you and a friend control a single Legend? With such an interesting way the game handles the MOBA genre, I was expecting game modes to be a little more unique.
Unfair and Unbalanced
Controlling four to five characters alone makes Mini Legends unique in the oversaturated MOBA scene, giving it an RTS streak. Unfortunately, it’s dead on arrival. Max Games Studios crippled itself with predatory microtransactions that throw the game into an unfair and unbalanced mess. And that’s without considering season passes, loot boxes, and cosmetic goods.
Strewn about your player base are various buildings and stadiums that improve a legend’s stats. Want to improve Focus and Agility? Drop a legend off at the Dojo and spend some coin. The Sorcerer’s Circle can increase Wisdom and Fortitude, and so on. After some time has passed, a legend’s stat is increased.
That sounds great and all, but what is that doing in a MOBA game? Because those stat increases carry over into multiplayer games. All you must do to win matches is purchase gems (with real money), convert gems into coins, and beef up a legend. In other words, it’s pay-to-win. Sure, you can rake in a few hundred coins here and there, but it isn’t surprising it’s excruciatingly slower.
There are reasons League of Legends and DOTA 2 are successful. In both cases, characters have set stats, only changing if a character is overpowered, underwhelming, or by items bought during a match. The decision to allow players the power to train stats only serves to make the game unfair and unbalanced. It removes the incentive to get better. When I’m defeated in League of Legends, it was based on skill, not because someone paid their way into power.
The Lesson of the Story
Mini Legends is a cautionary tale of what predatory monetization can do to an incredibly unique idea. It’s a shame because I really dig the idea of controlling an entire team, and the artwork is pretty cute. Matches can be over in minutes, making it easy to pick up and play when you’ve got a moment to yourself.
Unfortunately, it’s too easy for someone to invest in a single legend, boost an offensive stat, and mop the floor with you. It wasn’t because they were better than you or spent more time with their legends, it’s because they spent more money. Not to mention content is severely lacking. You’re better off playing against the AI or something entirely different.
Is it Hardcore?
Mini Legends is a unique MOBA, both in art style and gameplay, sullied by predatory monetization hellbent on catching as many whales as it can.
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