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If you’ve not been gaming from under a rock for the past few years, you’ve caught on to the MOBA genre of games, or have at least heard of them. As of right now, the multiplayer online battle arena is a class of games that is almost exclusive to the PC platform. It’s been working it’s way to consoles and even mobile, but your desktop or laptop is where it calls home for now.
While there is a handful of games in this genre, few stand above all others. By this, I mean they are some of the most played and viewed games in the entire world. MOBAs dominate the competitive gaming scene and have done nothing but grow since Aeon of Strife and Defense of the Ancients. Right now, it’s all about Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and SMITE. But which one is for you? Let me help you find out.
Dota 2 is the stand-alone sequel to the Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III that many will tell you gave birth to this entire field of games. Dota 2 is available at no cost on Steam and was developed by none other than Valve.
I feel like there are two core elements of Dota 2 that greatly distinguish it from other MOBAs: the community and the complexity. Where other games in the MOBA genre are dominated by a competitive and individual-based ladder system, Dota 2 isn’t. While games are still incredibly competitive from a player versus player standpoint, Valve has structured the matchmaking system to where it can do nothing but encourage team-oriented play and unselfishness. If you are a Dota 2 player, you play to win. You don’t play to shine over other players on a ladder.
The Dota 2 community is looked up at by MOBA players as the veterans of our group. Making the leap from the Warcraft III mod to Dota 2 makes for a smooth transition, and these players are rightfully respected and generally expected to be more experienced when compared to players of other MOBA games. Dota 2 is approached by MOBA players as the harder of these games, and the community takes a certain amount of pride in being a Dota 2 player over someone who plays something such as League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth.
Dota 2 is a game for the experienced, mature, and prepared MOBA player, but with it’s newly added tutorial, it’s still possible for inexperienced players to get in, as long as they are willing to practice.
As I’ve echoed in many other articles, League of Legends is the most popular game in the world right now for many reasons.
To me, the most glaring difference from League of Legends to other MOBAs is that it is such a spectator sport. While Dota 2 and others do get a respectable amount of stream viewers and tournament audiences, League of Legends has it at a whole different level. League of Legends is the very definition of eSports right now, and Riot Games is doing an amazing job of turning a video game into a job. It’s a sport for virtual athletes.
League of Legends is commonly seen as the easier of the games in the MOBA genre. Although the character pool is the extremely extensive, you don’t have to worry about some of the finer elements like denying creeps from your opponent. League of Legends allows you to do things like lock your camera, while such behavior would be laughed at and viewed as completely irresponsible on other MOBAs with a superior air about themselves.
The League of Legends community is really hit or miss for me. The general community produces some really cool content and ideas on communities like Reddit, but if you’re not a Challenger player who is playing with your tournament-level friends, you’re going to experience your fair share of ragers, trolls, and other pests. While that is common in any type of game like this, I have to say it’s probably the worst in League of Legends. I suspect it’s mainly because of the solo queue ladder, which trains players to slowly believe that they are trapped at a low level of competition thanks to the players surrounding them.
This game is really easy to get involved in, and I suggest it to anyone who is looking for their first MOBA to try out.
Heroes of Newerth is a MOBA that seems to be slowly losing its popularity, but it’s still a quality game.
I found little appeal in Heroes of Newerth when I first tried it because I was giving it a shot after having played both League of Legends and Dota 2. Once you’ve played these two games, there’s not too much left to see in basic MOBAs such as Heroes of Newerth. However, you may be pleased to see a refreshing change in graphical styles, lore, and map design. In Heroes of Newerth, the two sides colliding are the Legion and the Hellborne.
Heroes of Newerth seems like the mutt of the MOBA family simply because it offers so little compared to what the more popular MOBAs already have. However, that’s not to say you should discount it as a poor game, because for some gamers, a little old-school is just what they need.
If you ever get bored of playing Dota 2 or League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth could offer you the subtle differences that you need to stay attached to this genre of games.
SMITE [No Longer Available]
SMITE is a refreshing take on the MOBA that is completely out of the ordinary.
It’s difficult to decide what to pinpoint first. There’s the different camera angle and in-game perspective, the unique map, and the abilities themselves. While the SMITE champion pool is incredibly shallow compared to other MOBA games, the gameplay makes up for it.
The characters in SMITE are composed of figures in Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, Roman, Mayan and Norse mythology. You control them from a third-person perspective ,whereas almost every other MOBA uses the top-down view. More interesting is the fact that SMITE is all about skill shots. If you play League of Legends, you know what it’s like playing Ryze. He’s made up of all single-target abilities and is considered to be one of the champions with a lower skill cap. In SMITE, you won’t experience this sort of gameplay.
The action in this game is unlike any other you’ll experience in a MOBA. It’s up to you if the gameplay is in your taste though. It’s very different and could be seen as too much of a stray away from the norm for some.
At this point, I leave the decision in your hands. Dota 2, League of Legends, and SMITE all offer a lot to this genre of games, and we may even have some MakeUseOf readers who are fans of Heroes of Newerth. You let me know if I did that game an injustice in the comments below, and tell me which of these four is your favorite. Maybe even there are some Awesomenauts fans, or supporters of some of the more obscure MOBA games. I’d love to hear about it in the section below!