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This smash-hit game is finally coming to the U.S., and you should take notice

TiMi Studio Group
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Honor of Kings isn’t exactly a new game. In fact, it’s the largest mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, with more than 200 million registered players. And it’s finally coming to a global audience after years of being limited to a select few countries.

The biggest draw of Tencent’s flagship MOBA is its mobile-friendly gameplay with short games, perfect for commutes and short breaks. Similar to League of Legends: Wild Rift, it shrinks the typical MOBA experience down to a more digestible version. At Summer Game Fest, I tried out the tutorial and a bot game with one of the characters. Based on that taste, Honor of Kings seems to deliver what it promises: a concise, streamlined MOBA game that ends within 15 to 20 minutes, and features enough variety so that the matches don’t feel repetitive.

Honor of Kings follows the typical formula for its genre. You work as a team of five to take down enemy turrets, towers that symbolize your opponent’s hold on the map. Each map is split into lanes, typically with one or two teammates knocking down the turrets in each one and fending off the opposing team’s players. Once all the lanes are clear, your team convenes at the opponent’s corner of the map to fight against their players and take over their home base to win the game.

Honor of Kings Launching Worldwide in 2024

I’ve played League of Legends on PC, so it didn’t take long for me to adapt. Like League, Honor of Kings spawns minions to help players take down towers and chip away at enemy health. I let my wave shield me from turret damage and sniped at the enemy coming from mid-lane. As Angela, a mage with powerful long-range abilities, I stunned enemies before blasting them with magic. (For any League players, she plays like a Morgana-Lux hybrid with a stun and laser-like ultimate.) Swapping between her abilities is a snap because of the intuitive layout with an easy-to-steer control wheel and abilities laid out under my fingers.

Whenever I collected enough points from taking down minions and enemy heroes, the UI automatically recommended the skills I should level up, with a little “plus” icon next to the respective buttons. These were relatively easy to reach, enough that I could quickly press them while running down a lane. Nearby staff told me that these recommendations generally helped casual players, but more advanced ones could choose to deviate to min-max damage for their mains. It’s difficult to tell how it will play out in PvP combat, but the training sessions seem like more than enough to prep you for a real game.

Pink haired twin tail girl magician with fire in Honor of Kings Angela
TiMi Studio Group

I didn’t get hands-on time with the other characters. However, with a roster of over 100 heroes, it’s difficult to imagine that there wouldn’t be enough team variety and options to keep gameplay interesting. Like League, its characters fall into specific classes based on their playstyle. Its characters are based in Chinese mythology rather than the broader inspirations from League of Legends, which covers legends from all corners of the globe. The lore doesn’t really detract or add to the game in any way, but it helps set its identity apart from other MOBAs.

The biggest hurdle Honor of Kings will probably face is its nearly nonexistent presence in the West compared to League of Legends, which is such a big deal that it has K-pop stars in its music and Lil Nas X as its “president.” That can only come with time, but as far as gameplay goes, it seems poised for a successful global launch.

Honor of Kings expands to the United States, Europe, and Japan on June 20.

Jess Reyes
Jessica Reyes is a freelance writer who specializes in anime-centric and trending topics. Her work can be found in Looper…
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