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Legendary Heroes Review

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Very occasionally, we come across a game that’s been ported from mobile platforms. It can’t be an easy thing to do: there’s the controls for starters, with a touchscreen being nothing like a game controller. The interfaces have to adapt, as do the graphics – a big 4K screen is pretty far removed from a mobile traditionally held in portrait mode. And then there’s the monetisation stuff. Mobile leans to free-to-play, while consoles don’t.

It’s enough to make free-to-play mobile games wonder if it’s worth bothering, and most don’t. Games like Legendary Heroes are pretty rare because those are difficult hurdles to leap over.

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When a game does make the transition, though, it’s because they have either put in the effort to convert to console, or they just haven’t bothered. The latter have thought ‘stuff it’, and have let all of the inconsistencies and incompatibilities dangle in the breeze, airing them for all to see. And that’s what Legendary Heroes is: an indecent exposure of a game. It’s truly horrible to experience.

It doesn’t help that Legendary Heroes is a lightweight MOBA, which is not the first genre of game that you’d consider a fit for console. There’s a reason that League of Legends or DOTA have never made the transition to the big black box. They tend to need precise targeting when there are hundreds of enemies on the field, as well as the use of dozens of abilities. Controller-fodder they really aren’t.

But at least Legendary Heroes is simple. You have a maximum of three heroes on each side – both your’s and your opponent’s – and an arena that is rarely more than a simple geometric shape: a line, a circle or a square. Each team has a base where they respawn, a home obelisk which represents the fail-condition if it explodes (and the win-condition if you kill your opponent’s) as well as secondary obelisks that can be destroyed for points. So, you’re pushing the front of war back towards your opponent, as you hope to spend more time in their half than yours.

You control one hero at any time, but can switch to the others with a tap of a face button. In an alternate dimension, these characters are played by your mates or online randos, but here they are solely CPU controlled. You can probably guess what that means: they never do anything you want, and spend most of the time wandering back to home base, Leroying into battle without waiting for you, and staring at walls like the emotional toll was too much for them.

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Combat is so bad that we’re shaking our head as we write about it. You attack the nearest enemy by pressing the B button. You can’t truly target the enemy you fancy skewering: you have to make do, and attack whoever happens to be closest. If there’s a champion who is hiding behind their generic warriors (some dudes auto-spawn and auto-attack for both sides), then you might try to maneuver round to target them, but in all likelihood the warriors will follow. So, you’ve lost time and still not attacked that whacking great Phoenix who is hiding from you.

Attacking is a case of pressing B and then waiting. This isn’t exactly Diablo. It’s the long-retired MMO practice of tapping an attack button and waiting for an enemy’s health bar to reach zero. Legendary Heroes wouldn’t dare to consider light or heavy attacks, combos or the like. 

Somehow, it still gets this wrong. An attack takes anywhere from one to five seconds to actually trigger, so you can be pressing B repeatedly, wondering if Legendary Heroes has actually registered it. But here’s the rub: every time you press the button, it resets the cycle, and chooses a new target for you to fight. So ensues a comedy of errors as you try to attack and keep shuffling between enemies.

To its credit, it does offer you some abilities on a cooldown. On the first few levels, you won’t have any/many of these, so prepare to be bored. But they at least offer you situational benefits and they’re different per character. You might be healing, buffing, debuffing, tossing meteors about like basketballs or freezing everyone in place. The variety of these powers in Legendary Heroes is its best feature, but they are still excessively clumsy to use. Some are targeted, others aren’t, and they all take an age to actually fire off, making you wonder if someone has swapped your pad for some cardboard with buttons drawn on.

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For all of the criticisms, we occasionally won a game of Legendary Heroes. You could even call it easy, at least for the first ten levels or so. We found ourselves utterly cheesing it, bypassing most combat and heading for the opponent’s main obelisk, where we could hide round the back and outlast the attacks for long enough that we would win. 

But after those ten levels, a difficulty spike impaled us. Suddenly, we needed to engage with some team and character management, working out what was best to bring to each battle.

Which brings us to the festering underbelly of Legendary Heroes. It’s where the free-to-play dangly bits are incredibly visible, and it’s not pleasant. Because to level up your heroes, it’s not a case of gaining experience or carefully selecting abilities: you have to farm Clash Royale-style character cards from chests.

Chests are gained by completing and winning battles, where they sit in three sockets on the main game menu. You can’t open them immediately: you have to wait, in real-time, for them to open. That time period isn’t all that long – the length of a game perhaps – but the fact they are still there is a smirking menace. It’s a hangover from free-to-play, when the temptation to buy  keys would have been present. But in a game that has an up-front purchase cost, with all the monetisation stripped out, it has no role. You would have hoped that someone would have done the work and code immediately unlocking chests, but there they remain, an appendix from another life.

What galls most is that the original balancing is still there. To upgrade a hero, you will need three, twenty and then hundreds of character cards, yet they arrive in drips. A chest might have three different character cards, which will barely make a dent in your levelling. But you get one chest every battle, on average, so it’s going to take hundreds of games to level someone properly. And that’s if you get the characters you want. Which you won’t.

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At least in a free-to-play mobile game, the experience would have been free, and the impatient and wealthy could have bypassed the grind. Here you get the absolute worst of all worlds, with (an admittedly low) up front cost, and the prospect of playing thousands of times to get a team that works well on the latter levels. It’s about as lazy as game development can get. All it would need was a tweak to some numbers, changing the frequency of chests, cards, or how many cards were needed to upgrade. But Legendary Heroes sheepishly puts its hands in its pockets and doesn’t bother. We all had one of those people in group coursework.

It seems trivial in the face of all the other issues, but the interfaces are also not fit-for-purpose. Legendary Heroes has got a lot to show you, but can’t think of a way for you to access it. It tries to employ the LT and RT buttons to move focus to corners of the game screen, but it just doesn’t work. Bugs caused us to get stuck on interface elements, and it’s entirely possible to have zero idea of how to reach one particular button. The curse of mobile hits again.

If Legendary Heroes was a fun, dynamic MOBA, all of the grindy free-to-play balancing and legacy systems might have been forgivable. But it really isn’t. It feels like a hangover from twenty-year old PC RPGs, and it’s an anachronism that hasn’t even been ported properly.

You can buy Legendary Heroes from the Xbox Store

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