Sins Of A Dark Age Launches Out Of Early Access As F2P

Even by the time Sins of a Solar Empire folks Ironclad Games announced their MOBA Sins of a Dark Age [official site] in 2012, the genre was a little overcrowded. SoaDA was originally billed as a MOBA/RTS, but later dropped bits like base-building. It’s still trying to be more ambitious than you average Dote ’em up or Loller, though.

Now, after a lengthy stretch on Steam Early Access, where it costs $5 (and it was $25 for beta access before that), Sins of a Dark Age is out free-to-play for all to manage lords. It’s on Steam.

We’re long past the point where the concept of MOBAs need explaining, aren’t we? I realise there are a few people who’ll wander in and say “I don’t even know what a MOBA is but I think they’re silly”, which is the PC gaming equivalent of an uncle saying “What’s this noise you call ‘music’ nowadays?”, and some folks new to gaming won’t have learned yet. However, with MOBAs pretty much the biggest games this side of Minecraft, it’d be more appropriate if I went around explaining “An FPS is a game where you shoot men in the face until they fall over” or “An RTS is a game where you click on men then click on other men to make your men shoot them until they fall over.”

So! How does SoaDA look in the MOBAsphere? Well, all heroes are unlocked for all, which is nice. Matches spawn RPG-y quests and objectives as they go, which are controlled by an AI director and offer extra bonuses. Gold for killing creeps is shared a little between nearby teamies, though the killer gets more. Heroes can be customised a little with ‘Hero Gear’, changing how certain abilities work, which is a persistent system separate from in-match items. Beyond that, hey, it’s a MOBA, and you don’t need me to explain how it works. And, like the rest, they Ironclad swear blind it’s not pay-to-win.

Hey, look, here’s an old, old trailer from its Early Access days, in the absence of anything newer:


  1. The_invalid says:

    Good grief, do we need any more MOBAs? This literally looks like every other MOBA.

    • Dave says:

      Really? What a daft thing to say. How many FPS’s for example come out every year?

      • ribby says:

        Are there that many? Is it just that RPS doesn’t cover many of them?

      • Ham Solo says:

        That doesn’t invalidate his point. “X is bad.” “- Yes, but Y is also bad.”…

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Well, for one it looks nothing like Smite, and has a completely different jungle Layout to both LoL and DotA, and operates different on a mechanics level to all three.

      When racing games come out do you complain that they all have vehicles and racetracks in them? Or guns in FPSes?

      • rabbit says:

        I don’t know anything about MOBAs other than what I’ve read and heard and etc. so this might be a stupid question is ‘this has a different jungle layout’ as ridiculous a defense as ‘this has a different track layout’ would be if we were using your racing game analogy?

        • Vinraith says:

          Basically. MOBA’s (ridiculous acronym, but that ship has sailed) only come with on map, generally. So in this analogy it’s as if racing games only came with one track, such that when a new one was released it was revelatory that the turns were in different places.

        • wengart says:

          No, it would be more like you took a football field and added a hill, gully, removed part of the field, or just threw a lake into it at some point. It would dramatically change how teams played.

          Of course how dramatically would depend on how big a change occurred.

        • Bereil says:

          Essentially true. Same can be said for FPS maps – you’re doing the same things, but sniping from a different position, or holding a choke point somewhere else.

          The “selling” (not really a sale if it’s F2P) points are whatever features they’ve added, like that quest thing, and aesthetics.

        • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

          Well the Jungle is a pretty integral part of the gameplay, so having a different one would have a big impact on how the game is played; ganking positions would be different, and play styles, meta-game etc would wind up being very different.

          Plus as someone mentioned above there is usually only one map (worth playing), so those kinds of features would make the whole affair very different indeed.

          I am of the opinion that most people who complain about the plethora of MOBAs in the market are people who don’t play them and have no interest in them. Not that that’s a problem, everyone is entitled to feeling how they feel; I feel the same way about all these faux 8-bit platform throwbacks that have come along with the resurgence in Indie development. But like different FPSes, or racing games, or RPGs or whatever genre you like, every game has its differences and feel, even though said game would tend to stick to a fairly rigid theme.

        • jrodman says:

          The genre, at its best, makes a lot of hay out of relatively subtle use of well-known layout foibles. Thus a very different map can lead to a number of different plays or approaches being viable. It can influence whether fights are small skirmishes, typically team v team brawls, or assassin-like quick-kills.

          That said, the layout sounds like a smaller difference to me as compared to differing mechanics, but I haven’t actually read about this game.

  2. Retzinsky says:

    I’ve been checking in on this every so often and I cannot fathom how Ironclad went from making the thoroughly excellent Sins of a Solar Empire to making this entirely forgettable MOBA. At least initially there were some unique elements to set it apart, but they’ve stripped most of those out. Did everybody who worked on SoaSE leave after it was done? I just don’t get it.

  3. Thirdrail says:

    You say everything unlocked from the beginning as if that’s a good thing. Unlocking new stuff is one of the best parts of video games. Even paying for things can be fun. Shopping is fun. See also: the astonishing number of malls on your homeworld. And people wonder why LoL is more popular than all of its competitors combined…

    • tiltaghe says:

      slave to capitalism?

      • rabbit says:

        pretty much this. jesus what a depressing comment. i guess one direction are also the peak of western music within the last however many years, right? their sales prove it?

        (note i don’t know who is actually the number one best selling western artist but i know that they’ve gotten one or two of those accolades , definitely for a single or something i think they sold more than anyone else? whatever i think you get the point of what i’m trying to say)

    • Sian says:

      Heroes are unlocked. Hero gear, however, isn’t, or else “persistent” somehow doesn’t mean things need to need be earned before they persist.

    • Corb says:

      Unlocking stuff in video games is only fun when its is a well designed mechanic instead of a “marketing said to tack this on cause, survey’s and sales”, which is majority of the systems these days. But seriously? You love micro-transactions? Congratulations on your disposable income I guess, ever try giving to charity instead?

      • jrodman says:

        I guess we have to (retch) gamify charity.

        • EhexT says:

          Humble Bundles say hello. We’ve gamified charity some time ago, and it’s been working well.

    • zentropy says:

      Not sure if trolling.

      Well done, well done indeed.

  4. ribby says:

    “An RTS is a game where you click on men then click on other men to make your men shoot them until they fall over.”

    (Or stab them)