Now is an interesting time for MOBAs. League of Legends is the largest game in the world. The International (the largest Dota 2 tournament) had a payout rivaling many professional sporting events, and was shown on ESPN2. In light of this, it’s not surprising that other companies have been trying to take their own piece of the pie. Let’s examine some of these.
Two is better than Three
Dawngate, EA’s MOBA is unique in many ways, but follows similar gameplay as LoL or Dota. The primary draw is the 2-lane map (with a greatly expanded jungle), which forces the meta to develop differently from League or Dota. It otherwise plays somewhat similarly, although there is a decreased emphasis on last-hitting; you get fewer resources for not doing it, but more than the nothing you’d get in League or Dota. Speaking of League, the “Trinket” ward comes from here. The stats and items are completely different from League or Dota, so that’s an adjustment that’s necessary to make going into this game. it also contains my favorite MOBA character thus far, Moya.
Personally, I saw Dawngate really early, and I’m not sure it’s something I’m terribly interested in. Moya aside, I’m not interested in the game, and I don’t know anyone playing it. It also has the problem of not being different enough from LoL that I’m interested in playing it over LoL. The item system is different, and towers also serve the functions of inhibitors (and respawn accordingly), but this isn’t enough to get me to sign in regularly. Maybe someday in the future something will draw me in, but I’m passing for now.
If at first you don’t succeed
Also recently coming around is Strife, the second MOBA from S2 Games. Their first attempt is Heroes of Newerth, which did not change enough from Dota to become as popular as LoL, but changed too much to be as well-received as Dota 2. Strife is their attempt to make a MOBA that’s easier to get into, and also one that changes the mechanics that players tend to fight their own team over. The hero design is almost universally on the cute and cuddly side, in an attempt to appeal to a more casual crowd. The map itself is more open, but still has the familiar three-lane structure.
Despite that first paragraph, I’ve felt no need to really give this one a shot. It does very little to distinguish itself from the mountain of other MOBAs available now. From my perspective, it seems like another MOBA with slightly different mechanics with characters and items I’m not familiar with doing the same things I could be doing in any other game. This might be a little unfair as the game is still technically in closed beta, but so are the other two games on this list. As a newcomer, they have to demonstrate why I want to play their game over the other options, and Strife has not succeeded in that task.
The Great Regret
Since Dota started as a mod for Warcraft 3, and in turn was based on a Starcraft custom map, it’s a bit of a surprise that it took Blizzard this long to do anything formally in the genre. Heroes of the Storm is their entry into the MOBA field. Announced in 2012 as “Blizzard All-Stars”, I can only assume the name was changed when they realized it could be shortened to “BAllS”. This one changes the most from the standard format by having a number of different maps, doing away with individual progression in favor of team progression, and replacing items with talents. It’s also worth noting that this game stars familiar faces from other Blizzard games as heroes.
This one I like, mostly because of the maps. they’re varied mechanically and thematically, and none of them are quite the same as the “standard”. The major problem I have with it right now it that it’s in Closed Beta with no keys at all, so getting in is entirely luck-based. I’m also not completely sure about some of the out-of-game progression being hero-specific, making it hard to switch heroes as desired without some grinding. I hope this one opens up more soon.