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Warcraft Arclight Rumble preview: A vast world of minis in the palm of your hand

Warcraft Arclight Rumble Cinematic Still Hero
Warcraft Arclight Rumble Cinematic Still Hero (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Blizzard's Warcraft series started in 1994 with Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and has since bloomed into a cultural phenomenon within the gaming sphere. For the first time ever, Blizzard Entertainment has created a Warcraft game from the ground up that was specifically designed for mobile devices. Warcraft Arclight Rumble is a vibrant action strategy game that incorporates the most iconic characters from across the Warcraft series into a compact experience for on-the-go play.

I was fortunate enough to preview the game ahead of its release and was given the chance to talk to Art Director Jeremy Collins, as well as the Senior Software Engineer, Andy Lim. They showed me the ropes of this never-before-seen take on the Warcraft world, which is pleasantly surprising. Warcraft Arclight Rumble provides an experience that's easy to learn yet hard to master, with a wide range of content that's fun for everyone from long-time Warcraft fans to newbies like me.

Arclight Rumble brings classic Warcraft to the table(top)

Warcraft Arclight Rumble Screenshots Gameplay

Warcraft Arclight Rumble Screenshots Gameplay (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)
CategoryWarcraft Arclight Rumble
TitleWarcraft Arclight Rumble
DeveloperBlizzard Entertainment
PublisherActivision Blizzard
GenreAction Strategy
PlayersSingle-player, multiplayer
Launch PriceFree

Upon seeing the game for the first time and its opening cinematic scene, I immediately thought of classic tabletop games, pinball machines, and other arcade games that many gamers look back on fondly. Bringing the Warcraft experience to smaller screens means that a lot of details need to be sacrificed to make characters more easily recognizable. The stylized re-imagining of classic Warcraft heroes and villains fits perfectly with the arcade setting, making it memorable and visually distinct, yet nostalgic.

The stylized re-imagining of classic Warcraft heroes and villains fits perfectly with the arcade setting.

Azeroth has been taken over by the newest craze — a tabletop game powered by Arclight. Players are tasked with strategically assembling armies strong enough to overcome their opponents in unique maps designed to test their wit and skills. These armies are led by strong leaders with unique abilities that can turn the tides of a match and are also supported by troop forces and spells that affect gameplay for both players and their opponents.

Maps are dynamic and varied, with many featuring tiered environments. Ranged attackers can damage enemies below them from ledges and bridges, incentivizing players to strategize on the fly. Being on mobile platforms means that games are short — no more than five minutes per match — making it a great pick-up-and-play game for whenever you've got a free moment.

A haven for collectors and completionists

Warcraft Arclight Rumble Gnoll

Warcraft Arclight Rumble Gnoll (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Warcraft Arclight Rumble is all about the minis. There are tons of minis with vibrant depictions of heroes, villains, and other characters that Warcraft fans have come to know and love over the years. Starting out as statuesque figurines, they come to life when placed into battle, in a way that reminds me of Skylanders or amiibo. Currency obtained throughout the game can be used to purchase these minis, helping players build their collection in a way that allows them to have the perfect team for any situation.

Your party of playable minis starts first and foremost with Leaders, which can come from one of five Families: the Horde, the Alliance, Beasts, the Undead, and Blackrock. Players of previous Warcraft games will be thrilled to recognize some of the most iconic characters as Leaders, such as the Warsong chieftain Grommash Hellscream and Archmage Jaina Proudmore.

It's a great pick-up-and-play game for whenever you've got a free moment.

Maximizing profits within matches means mining as much gold as you can while thwarting your opponent's opportunities to do the same. This means deploying a mining troop called a Kobold to mining nodes across each other's multi-path maps to get to work and acquire that cold, hard, gold. Spells can be used to stop your opponent from getting any gold, making it a race to implement the most sound strategy and make enough money to buy your favorite minis.

Fans won't need to worry about loot boxes or other "surprise mechanics", either — every time you purchase a mini in the shop, you'll know exactly what you're getting. This is great for a variety of reasons, chief among them being that the player's time is never wasted. Of course, anyone who's impatient or really wants to get their favorite mini can always just opt to purchase it with their own money, but that's not required to enjoy the game.

More friends make raids that much merrier

Warcraft Arclightrumble Minis

Warcraft Arclightrumble Minis (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Warcraft is a game franchise built on a strong sense of community and cooperation — after all, games like World of Warcraft ask its players to align themselves with a faction — so you won't need to worry about going through this game alone. There are weekly rotating dungeons for players and their friends to explore, as well as monthly raids to participate in with friends and strangers alike.

The stylized re-imagining of classic Warcraft heroes and villains fits perfectly with the arcade setting.

Dungeons are a series of three maps for players to explore and conquer, alone or with friends. As you progress through each map, you'll be faced with different challenges and objectives, keeping things fresh. Dungeons incorporate Relics that can affect gameplay, such as boosting the attack of ranged players. You won't know what Relics are available until the beginning of your playthrough, which means you'll have to build well-rounded parties for an optimized run.

Guilds also make an appearance in Warcraft Arclight Rumble, allowing players to team up with friends and tackle shared guild goals. Similar to other Warcraft games, players are encouraged to build a community and work alongside experienced players and novices alike to improve their experience and share their love for the game.

While I wasn't able to access raids, it's great to see that Blizzard is working on giving players a reason to keep coming back to the game. The developers I spoke to hinted that the campaign alone would take players an estimated "several months" to power through, making me confident that there'll be no shortage of content upon the game's release. There is also no indication as to how many friends can play together at the same time, but we'll be on the lookout for future information.

Powered by Arclight

It certainly looks like Blizzard is taking the necessary steps to bring the world of Warcraft (ha!) to mobile devices, without all of the time and money-wasting aspects of many mobile games. Completionists and collect-a-thon fans will be thrilled with the huge number of minis to collect, as well as the maps that incentivize replaying them with different strategies. For those who enjoy a community-centric experience, the dungeons, raids, and guilds in Warcraft Arclight Rumble are sure to provide that.

There's no set release date for the game's full version aside from a 2022 release window, which may be subject to change given how the pandemic has affected development around the world. However, we'll be sure to update you with more information as it comes. From what we've seen, though, Warcraft Arclight Rumble could shape up to be one of the best games to play on your iPhone.

Nadine Dornieden
Nadine Dornieden

Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.