Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games, otherwise known as MOBAs, have gained immene popularity in the last few years with games like DotA 2 and League of Legends hitting over 8 million and 64 million active players a month, respectively. Not to mention the million of dollars being awarded in the competitive scene.
What is MOBA?
If you are unfamiliar with the genre, MOBAs usually play from a top down perspective. You, and a small team of friends each control a single character with unique abilities and attempt to push into the enemy base and destroy it. The large followings of DotA 2 and LoL have inspired several triple A developers to come up with their own interpretations of the MOBA formula. Let’s see what some of the big names have to offer.
Devleoped by Wystern Games and published by EA, DawnGate has a lot of gameplay similarities with DotA 2 and LoL. However, DawnGate boasts what the develoeprs call a “flexible meta”. What does that even mean? Well, in DotA 2 and LoL, the characters you choose to play pretty much defines your role in the match. A particular character’s abilities might make it much more suitable to act as a healing support, rather than a damage soaking tank for example. So, the variety of character combinations that can make up a team’s roster is a huge part of what is called the meta game. But in DawnGate, players have the option to pick their role no matter what character they are playing. This is because selecting different roles affects the attributes and perks a character gets. You might earn more currencty each time you kill an enemy player or get a health boost when you kill an enemy neutral creature. DawnGate gives you the tool to play the same character in vastly different ways, and this flexible meta is its main draw card.
Arena of Fate
Crytek’s Arena of Fate is going for something punchier and more accesible by limiting its matches to 20 minutes. The game still features a large pool of characters to choose from and the objective of destroying the enemy team’s base. However, if the 20 minutes is up and both teams still stand, then the team with the most points is the winner. Attribute boosting abilities are unlocked as you level, and alternative to buying attribute boosting items in shop areas like in DotA 2 or LoL, making matches faster paced and getting the need to remember recipe combinations.
Dead Island: Epidemic
In Dead Island: Epidemic (DIE), items take on a more persistent role. Brought to you by the same people who published Island, the game calls itself the world’s first Zombie MOBA, or “ZOMBA.” DIE features a crafting system that has players collecting blueprints and item parts during matches to make and upgrade their own weapons to use in the future. Gameplay revolves around surving waves of zombies. In addition to fighting other humans, you can also choose to fight only NPC zombies. The game differentiates itself by letting up to three different teams of players battle it out, and relies on WASD key inputs for movement and the mouse to aim. As you can imagine, DIE is a lot more action orientated, and could be mistaken for a top-down shooter.
Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm draws its content from the universes of its existing catalogue of games. This means the roster of characters from the Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo series. Like in Arena of Fate, Blizzard is aiming for matches around 20 minutes long. Although this isn’t a hard limit, the timeliness encouraged through the game’s leveling system, which has whole teams leveling up together. Similar to Arena of Fate, HotS has no items or shops to worry about, which gets rid of the need to consider that extra information. Map’s specific objectives regularly popping up encourages teams to confront eachother more often.
To be perfectly honestly with you, it’s hard to imagine MOBA players like myself breaking away from the games we’ve already devoted so much time to. But, on the other hand, the flexibility, themes, and shorter learning curves being offered by games like the ones mentioned before could bring in a lot of new players to the genre and give veterans different things to be excited about.