Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Games (or MOBAs for short) are one of the most popular game genres in our era. Starting in the late 2000s to early 2010s, MOBAs are renowned for their easy to pick up rules, multiplayer based nature, and high competitiveness, among other things.
If you want to get started with the genre, then this list will give you the best MOBA games out there and their key differences, in order for you to make the best option.
If you don’t like too much analysis, I will also provide a list of pros and cons for each game at the end of its respective paragraph. Without further ado:
Table of Contents
1. League of Legends
Every gamer has heard League of Legends at least once in their life. League of Legends (abbr. LoL) is the most popular MOBA game there is, and one of the most popular games ever. Despite being released in late 2009, it still tops the charts in viewers a decade after.
Its popularity is probably due to LoL being the first independent MOBA game released, but it is in part due to its more simple nature, compared with the other games on this list at least. League of Legends sticks true to the original MOBA games created as mods from other game engines.
Another advantage for LoL (and most MOBAs in general) is the low graphic requirement, as most PCs and Laptops can run it. It also has one of the largest e-sports stage in the gaming world, and certainly the largest among its other MOBA brothers. It also helps that League is considered more “casual” as a game.
Riot Games is the company behind LoL’s development and future. While they do have a lot of complaints for their choices, they do have to be given credit where credit is due; they kept League of Legends among the best games. Of course, all this was done in a strictly free-to-play game, and even with their limited resources, they managed to pull through
One issue many players have, and rightly so, is the behavior and punishment system. Generally, LoL can be a stressful game when you are playing competitively, and the matchmaking system can sometimes give you many unwanted players in your team.
This is true for all tiers of competitive play, and in a team-based game such as League, these kind of players just waste your time by needlessly throwing the game.
What does poor matchmaking have to do with punishment? Well, if you try and flame these kind of players, even with lighter insults, you will probably get some form of ban from the game.
I’m not saying I support toxicity (especially towards concepts such as race, religion, gender, and any other targeting of racial belief against a certain group of people; this should always be condemned), I do however understand why people act like this, especially under the circumstances i described above, and Riot can be (and will be) very harsh at times, not even bother looking about the player’s influence in general.
So, if you skipped the analysis, here is the list of pros and cons for League of Legends:
- Reasonable learning curve
- Huge e-sports stage.
- Promotes and rewards playing with friends.
- Easy to get banned, even for lighter insults.
- Bad matchmaking system.
- Kinda toxic community and playerbase.
2. DotA 2
Defense of the Ancients 2 (abbr. DotA 2) is not as popular and renowned as its cousin League of Legends, but it still is just as good. Sporting a huge hardcore community, DotA 2 doesn’t have the sheer bulk of League in the e-sports scene. It does make up for it though, with more generous prize money for the winners and competitors.
DotA 2 originates from DotA (obviously), which was a mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 series. Thus, DotA 2 sticks closer to the original gameplay that made MOBAs popular.
DotA 2, while keeping the basics of every MOBA game, and while being almost identical in gameplay to League, it still is much more complicated than its counterpart. This is due to the different balance choices made by their respective balance choices. Valve,the company behind DotA 2 (but not DotA), wanted the game to be more true to its origins.
DotA 2 is considered so complicated, because of the complexity of many of its heroes, and because the game’s items are designed in a way that do not just add some more stats to your hero linearly, but also give you many bonus effects. DotA 2 games also last for long amounts of time, leaving more room for comebacks.
DotA 2’s balance is near impeccable, with almost all (if not all) heroes being viable competitively and Valve is often praised about it. Unlike most MOBAs, DotA 2 doesn’t have big content updates like new heroes in a monthly schedule; the big updates are scarce and few every year.
It is also not as team-based as other games, you can win games on your own, should you play good enough. DotA 2’s community is very infamous, but at least you don’t get banned for trash talking.
These advantages are also its disadvantages. Its complexity and longer game time often drive new players away. In order to even think about playing competitively, one has to spend hundreds of hours practicing and learning about the game beforehand.
Again, if you don’t want to bother reading the text above, the pros and cons are as follow:
- Generous prize money in the e-sports scene.
- Complexity that lets you better express your individual skill.
- Complexity means that you need to dedicate a lot of time if you are to be competitive.
- Not as many updates to keep the feeling of “freshness”.
3. Heroes of the Storm
It was all thanks to Blizzard that MOBAs were introduced to the gaming community, and for years they sat by and watched as the genre grew without them in it. And so, in the recent past they decided to give the genre their own spin. Thus, Heroes of the Storm (abbr. HotS) was released.
Blizzard decided to change the rules a bit, and along with that, reintroduce some of our all time favorite characters from their legendary titles Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft. HotS will generally cater to you if you either are a Blizzard fanboy, or would like to play a game that doesn’t have too complicated mechanics.
The premise is that every legendary hero is pulled from their respective universe and forced to do battle in the Nexus; a universe between worlds of many mini-worlds, each controlled by a respective leader.
In terms of gameplay, HotS throws away the traditional system of gold grinding, focusing instead on experience. But, again, unlike the other MOBAs, experience collected is added to your team’s pool of experience, simply: you and your team share experience. This was done with two directions in mind: a more team based game, and more action instead of static farming.
Recently, Blizzard announced the cancellation of the competitive scene, which left many players unsatisfied. Of course, due to the existing player base, they could not cancel the game altogether; development continues, and updates keep on coming.
This game is the perfect fit for any player looking for a casual experience in MOBAs, or players looking to see their favorite characters against each other.
If you want to skip the “wall of text” above, then the basics are:
- Easy game to play and enjoy
- Well known and established characters from legendary games
- Casual community
- No competitiveness / e-sports
- No way to express individual
skillin an obvious way.
SMITE is the final game of this list. Developed and released by Hi-Rez Studios, SMITE is another MOBA that wanted to give the genre a fresh twist.
Very much alike to the two giants of the genre in terms of gameplay, SMITE has one key difference. Every player plays from a third-person perspective. This certainly keeps things interesting, as it allows for completely different balance options and directions. SMITE also lets you control Gods, very powerful entities from various mythologies around the world.
About the community, honestly, SMITE is the only game in this list I haven’t personally played, but, from what I’ve heard, the community is very much toxic (I guess this comes with the genre…).
Hi-Rez did suspend thousands of accounts for bad behavior, but that didn’t do much good. I’ve also heard complaints about Hi-Rez, but what each company does with its game is its own business.
Another positive is the many different game modes that exist. Not only do they give diversity to the game, some modes help you practice without needing to learn complex lane and meta mechanics.
Though in the end, it is a traditional MOBA, SMITE allows you to better express other skills that the other MOBAs don’t, like your aiming. SMITE also has a growing competitive scene, but nowhere near the degree of the two MOBA leaders.
In retrospect, if you want a different kind of MOBA or just plain like mythology, then SMITE should be given a chance. Or, in list terms:
- Play as a God, a powerful mythological entity from a bygone era.
- Third-person perspective, which allows you to better express your skills.
- Decent e-sports scene.
- Bad Community
- Many complaints exist about the company in charge.
- Not as popular.
- A little bit higher graphics requirements.
These are the best MOBA games out there, with each having its
As for me, my favorite of the list is certainly Heroes of the Storm. Which is your favorite MOBA? Do you have something to add? If so, just leave a comment below.
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