When a small group of Warcraft III fans first released multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA) in 2003, hardly anyone had any idea how popular would the MOBA sub-genre of strategy video games one day become. In 2019, PC gamers can choose from a wide range of different MOBA games, many of which host tournaments where professional players from around the world compete for the champion title and prize money.
But, which one should you play? MOBA games can be very time consuming, taking up a substantial amount of time as players learn to skill up and compete at the top of the ladder. So which one should you try? Well, here are seven of the best that you can find on PC today.
Since its initial release in 2009, LoL has become one of the largest e-sport titles, with tournament prize pools of several million dollars not being unheard of. In fact, the 2017 League of Legends World Championship series, which concluded in November 2017, had a prize pool of $5 million.
What motivates more than 100 million unique players to log in to play LoL each month is its large roster of 134 champions, frequent updates, new custom game mode every second weekend, and traditional gameplay mechanics that are easy to learn but challenging to master.
Perhaps because of its highly competitive nature, LoL player base can be quite hostile towards beginners who are just learning the ropes and sometimes make regretful mistakes. Games can sometimes drag on, locking players in front of their computer for longer than they might like to. But despite these problems, LoL deserves to be experienced by all fans of the genre, if only because of its tremendous influence on other games.
As a follow-up to the original DotA, which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Valve Corporation developed and, in 2013, published DotA 2 as a free-to-play game for Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Compared to LoL, DotA 2 has more complex gameplay mechanics, requiring more time to learn and more skill to excel at. But with the steep learning curve comes an immense feeling of satisfaction after every kill and every win.
Whereas LoL, with its large roster of 134 champions can be noticeably unbalanced, DotA 2, which also has over 100 playable characters, is surprisingly balanced. This can be attributed to the greater flexibility in laning and also to gameplay mechanics such as creep pulling and creep stacking, which allow teams to share experience between heroes.
Unlike LoL and DotA 2, Smite is played from the third-person perspective, which makes the game feel more immersive and, at times, action-packed. Developed by Hi-Rez Studios using Unreal Engine 3, Smite was originally released on Windows in 2014, and the game was eventually ported to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and macOS.
All characters in the game are derived from mythological gods, and the current roster consists of 93 playable gods. Each god has either ranged or melee attacks, which are further subdivided into magical and physical attacks. There is absolutely no auto-attacking in Smite, and even basic attacks are skill shots that can be executed with perfect accuracy only when sufficiently mastered.
Smite is often praised for its friendly community, which cares more about having fun than winning. The game itself is also very beginner-friendly, and microtransactions are only used for buying items with a cosmetic effect.
Battlerite is fairly unique as far as MOBA-style games go. It doesn’t have the competitive nature of League of Legends, Smite, or DOTA 2. In fact, it has a style that’s more similar to the World of Warcraft Arena. Players jump into an arena, and duke it out in a World of Warcraft style.
There is a substantial amount of skill that’s required in Battlerite, as this game is all about timing. Parrying, blocking, and skill shots all have to be precisely timed for a success. That can require you to invest quite a bit of time into the game to up your skill set. The game is free to play, and instead keeps the lights on through micro-transactions.
Paladins comes up next on our list, and actually launched to some really excellent success. It, of course, has the MOBA style to it, but there are tons of different champions that you can choose to play as once you enter the game. Every champion is unique, featuring their own loadout . You can actually customize their strengths and weaknesses to make them better in certain environments and combat ranges.
Champions also have a skill set called talents, which is similar to loadouts, but changes how your champion plays on the battlefield. And much like other MOBA games out there, players can actually buy items with their champions while the game is in-play. This is through a currency that is earned through kills and the completion of objectives, allowing you to outfit your champion with the gear you need to one-up your enemies.
Because Blizzard Entertainment believes that their game offers something different than other MOBA games, they call Heroes of the Storm an online “hero brawler.” Think of HotS as a streamlined take on the MOBA genre, one that decreases the importance of laning, which is a time when the players separate into different lanes and kill minions for money.
Instead, HotS places an emphasis on team fights and map objectives. Players play as characters from Blizzard games, which include the traditional archetypes such as tanks, support characters, damage dealers, and so on, but also characters that break the mold and allow for diversity in how the game can be approached. To help inexperienced players pick the right character, each character has a difficulty rating that clearly shows which characters are the most difficult to play as.
Many MOBA fans also like that matches in HotS rarely exceed 30 minutes, making the game more manageable for those who can’t be locked in front of the computer for an hour or more.
Heroes of Newerth might come up last on our countdown, but it’s one of our favorites. In terms of graphical style, it’s actually extremely similar to the dark themes of the Diablo franchise. Heroes of Newerth might not have the major popularity of big names like League of Legends or DOTA 2, but it’s actually praised as being one of the most polished and balanced MOBAs out there.
As you can imagine, Heroes of Newerth plays like the traditional top-down MOBA, being all about pushing lanes, capturing important strategic points, and obliterating enemies using a wide range of powerful skills. You can earn in-game currency as well, which can be used to buy items to improve your characters abilities in player versus player combat.
As you can see, there are plenty of awesome MOBA style games that you can play. Most of these are free-to-play and cost you no risk at all; however, many of these do have in-app purchases which you can use to outfit your character(s) with cool new cosmetic items, unlock characters, and so much more. Our favorite is easily League of Legends or DOTA 2, as those have some of the largest player bases as well as the most competition.
What are you playing? Let us know in the comments section below.