It seems like every few weeks a new developer reveals that it's throwing its hat into the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, attempting to take on League of Legends and Dota 2. The tactic, however, isn't usually all that revolutionary. That's what makes Ironclad's Sins of a Dark Age stand out – while it's obviously following in the footsteps of the games that came before it in the genre, its take is one that looks wholly unique.
Above: We're guessing these are some of the game's Heroes
Ironclad is calling the free-to-play Sins of a Dark Age a game of "Hero and Commander Strategy" because, unlike other MOBAs, both roles are played. SoaDA has two teams of four hero units going head-to-head while a fifth player on each team controls the rest of the game. The turret placement, the units marching in waves, the base-building, and other typically automated elements will be controlled by the Commander.
Beyond adding some focus to the game and making it easier for new players (since there's essentially a team leader calling the shots), Ironclad says that this should help address the somewhat stale first 15 minutes of games in the genre, which usually play out without too much change.
“Sins of a Dark Age is something totally unique in the strategy genre,” said Blair Fraser, co-founder and producer at Ironclad. “Like Sins of a Solar Empire, which blended 4x with real-time strategy, we’ve taken our favorite elements of traditional RTS and action RTS and added our own twists and turns that result in a completely new and unrivalled strategy experience.”
Above: Different Commanders will have different abilities, including dragon summoning
Other improvements to the genre include being able to join in-progress games if a player leaves (and adjusted rewards for saving a failing team), online replays, and kill-cam moments. Ironclad is also planning a robust meta-game for added persistence, including different classes for the Commander to help keep things varied. Otherwise, it seems to be taking the elements of the genre that have proven successful, such as the free-to-play model which rewards players with cosmetic upgrades instead of boosts to power.
You can check out the game's official website here to sign up for the beta, and be sure to stay tuned for more information soon.