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Order & Chaos Online wants to be World of Warcraft for iPhone and iPad

Blizzard has yet to take World of Warcraft to iOS, but mobile publisher Gameloft has launched its own take on the subscription-based MMORPG genre with Order & Chaos Online.

Itching to play World of Warcraft on an iPad? The game's publisher Blizzard shows no signs of bringing its MMORPG to iOS (Armory app aside), although cloud gaming technologies like Gaikai are working on doing the job for it. In the meantime, though, Gameloft's new iOS game Order & Chaos Online is as close as you can get to an authentic WoW experience on your iPhone or iPad.

Released on the App Store yesterday, it's a £3.99 download, which includes a three-month subscription to the game. After that, you'll have to pay 59p per month (or £1.79 for six months) to carry on playing. It's the first serious attempt to do a subscription-based MMORPG on iOS.

So what are you paying for? Well, the game is clearly inspired by WoW, with a fantasy theme and a sprawling world to explore, with more than 500 quests to complete. Some aspects are cut down, obviously -- there's a choice of four races to play: humans, elves, orcs and undead. Which reminds us of our Blood Bowl team long ago...

You can have up to four characters on the go at once, which is handy if you share your iPad with friends or family who also want to play. Naturally, levelling up your character is a big part of the game, with more than 1,000 skills to acquire, and 2,000+ items to beef yourself up.

You can play alone, join parties of adventurers, or sign up to a guild, while there are hundreds of non-playing characters (NPCs) to chat to as you make your way around the world. You can text-chat to other players too.

Gameloft promises forests, deserts, jungles and mountains to explore "on foot or by magical means". We're hoping that means carpets, or dragons. Or carpet dragons.

Hardcore WoW players will likely scoff at the very idea of this kind of game running on an iPad, let alone an iPhone. We've been getting stuck in to Order & Chaos Online though, and it's very good indeed, even though we've barely scratched the surface.

You need to be on a Wi-Fi connection to play, and it's a fat 589MB download, but we can see this sucking up plenty of our time over the coming weeks. The game's long-term success will depend on Gameloft copping another leaf from Blizzard's book by providing meaty content updates on a regular basis, too.