What is a MOBA?
As gamers, we happen to be pretty familiar with them, even if we’ve never actually played one. MOBA stands for ‘Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’.
MOBAs make up a large chunk of the gaming population, originally spawning from real-time strategy games. Blizzard played a large role in the story of MOBA games and their popularity.
With their iconic releases of StarCraft and Warcraft, (specifically Warcraft III), they set the stage for a more interactive experience and user-based content.
Harnessing the creator’s toolkit via game editing programs, people modded these games to experience all on their own, only sharing color palettes and game sprites.
All that said, what are the best MOBA games?
Our Ranking Criteria
In addition to player and critic ratings, we use objective metrics like sales, users, and sales growth rate to make our lists (read more). Some of these data sources include:
The Best MOBA Games Right Now
Released in 2014, Smite is still going strong into 2023. Developed by Hi-Rez Studios, Smite allows the player to take on the role of a god or goddess in a third-person perspective, then subsequently engaging in combat with other players. I was taken aback when I learned the stakes people played this game at it currently has a million-dollar esports pool. Maybe there’s something to it.
The big draw for this MOBA is Conquest mode, where 2 teams of 5 players go at it in the arena. Players are allowed resources to buy weapons and other upgrades before the round starts, (reminding me of Counter-Strike), and both teams begin the round at their teams’ ‘fountain’, or home base. The goal is to kill the other teams ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Titan’.
A feature of Smite that I dig is the level of customization. You can choose from nearly one hundred characters, all originating in myths from different cultures. As a mythology nerd, I’m already all-in with Smite.
They’re even adding another pantheon of heroes from the King Arthur stories. Don’t worry, Nintendo Switch players; you’ll get your chance to play one of the best MOBAs. The Switch version of Smite is planned for a February 19th, 2019 release date.
What Makes It Great
Unique Perspective: Smite’s third-person camera angle provides a fresh take on the MOBA genre, making it feel more like an action RPG. This perspective also affects gameplay elements like map awareness, making it more challenging and dynamic.
Character Variety: The game features gods from seven different mythologies, each with unique abilities and roles. The third-person perspective enhances some of these abilities, like Thor’s “Anvil of Dawn,” which launches you into the sky.
Complex Combat: Unlike other MOBAs, every ranged ability in Smite is an aimed skill shot, and your position and direction are crucial when playing as a melee character. This adds a layer of complexity to combat.
The game Smite is generally considered to have a steep learning curve, especially for newcomers. The complexity of the game, with its variety of gods and abilities, adds to the challenge.
Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard makes its first appearance on the list with 2015’s Heroes of the Storm. It was released on Microsoft Windows and Mac. Blizzard shies away from calling Heroes of the Storm a MOBA game—instead, they refer to it as a ‘hero brawler’, and they’re not wrong: Heroes of the Storm includes everyone’s favorite Blizzard characters in the roster.
It’s veritable who’s who in gaming characters. Tracer, Genji, Gul’Dan, Leoric, and others all make an appearance, 85 of them in all. My personal favorite is The Butcher from the first Diablo. I used to be so scared of him while playing when I was younger, but now I can harness his evil power to beat my enemies—I’d say that’s pretty good character development.
Again, the prize pool is massive: the most recent tournament had a 1,000,000 prize.
Using Blizzard’s Battle.net, players are thrust into intense 5v5 battles on 15 different maps. It even includes mounts, something World of Warcraft players are familiar with. This is one of the best MOBAs around, and worth checking out long into the future.
What Makes It Great
Streamlined Systems: Unlike traditional MOBAs, there’s no gold or items to worry about. This allows players to focus more on team fights and objectives rather than farming.
Unique Characters: The game features characters from various Blizzard franchises, each bringing their own unique abilities and styles to the battlefield.
Innovative Hero Design: Some heroes, like Cho’Gall, are designed to be controlled by two players simultaneously, offering a unique gameplay experience.
- Player Base: At its peak in 2017, HotS was almost as popular as Dota 2. Although those days are gone, it would still easily be among the top 20 most played games on Steam if available there.
- Queue Time: In big regions like North America or Europe, you can find a quick match in less than a minute almost at any time of the day.
Heroes of the Storm is generally considered to be easier to pick up for newcomers compared to other MOBA games like League of Legends. The game emphasizes team play and offers a variety of maps and objectives, making it strategically rich. While it is easy to get into, mastering the game can be challenging.
League of Legends
League of Legends, aka LoL aka League, was developed by Riot Games for Windows and Mac in 2009. Defense of the Ancients, or DotA, directly inspired it. A feature I like from League is that every game takes place in its match, meaning that players all start on the same footing, leaving it up to the player to advance and get better skills and items.
League of Legends has a richly detailed backstory, with an original fantasy environment being written around the different champions, something I like over the other MOBAs. Destroying the opposing team’s nexus is the goal of the game, and you need to battle your way through a wide and wild array of character types: ranging from Eldritch horror to steampunk.
Riot Games is extremely active in the game’s development, even holding their own eSports league: League of Legends Championship Series. The 2014 world championship had a whopping $2.13 million prize. Game times vary, sometimes running up to 45 minutes, but players are in an agreement that it’s closer to 30 to 35 minutes in length.
Currently, there are 143 champions in the game, divided into 7 classes: Controller, Fighter, Mage, Marksman, Slayer, Tank, and Specialist.
What Makes It Great
Item System: League has a comprehensive item system where killing minions, enemy champions, and towers grants you gold. This gold can be spent on hundreds of items, each with unique stat-boosting powers, adding another layer of strategy to the game.
Constant Evolution: The game has evolved significantly since its release, with every new character adding new mechanics and complexity. This keeps the game fresh and engaging for long-term players.
Mental Engagement: The game is mentally taxing but in a rewarding way. It’s not a game you play to relax; it’s a game you play to be challenged.
- It’s One of the Two Biggest MOBA Games in the World: League of Legends is huge. Popularity begets popularity. LoL is a premiere eSport, and as such has notable visibility worldwide. MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. LoL is perfectly suited for this “realm” of gaming.
- According to the recent League of Legends statistics, 2022 has seen 31,512,723 peak players per day, totaling 180 million average monthly players.
- Judging by LoL stats, the game attracts players worldwide, but 14.44% of users are from the United States.
League of Legends is considered a difficult game to learn, especially for beginners. The game has a steep learning curve, with various mechanics, strategies, and a large pool of champions to understand.
The sequel to the originator of MOBAs, Dota 2 was released on PC, Linux, and OS X in 2013. This isn’t just a pretty coat of paint on an existing engine; it’s a massive upgrade using the Source 2 engine. In it, players control their ‘hero’, or player character, and face off against other players, usually in two teams of 5, something very common with MOBAs.
As with other similar games, during the match, your goal is to defeat the other players, collecting loot along the way. Dota 2 has been cited as being one of the best MOBAs and best games of all time—not a title to be taken lightly. I can see why, as the gameplay is very rewarding and downright addictive.
It’s only fitting that the sequel to the grandfather of MOBAs is one of the best.
Of course, Dota 2 has an insanely large competitive gaming scene. Tournaments and leagues all over the world compete with each other in this richly detailed environment. Valve itself outs on the largest one in Seattle. The prize pool of Dota 2 in 2018 was an unthinkable $25,532,177 split between multiple teams.
The first-place finishers in the International Dota 2 Championship were team OG, taking home their share of the massive prize—$11,234,158 between its 5 members. Matches can last up to 45-50 minutes. I read a player’s experience that he was in a grueling 2-hour long match, taking a lot of stamina to complete the game.
Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, friend!
What Makes It Great
Depth of Gameplay: Dota 2 is described as one of the deepest games in terms of gameplay mechanics. It requires players to manage resources and economy, meticulously, making every decision crucial.
Item and Talent Complexity: The game offers a wide range of items and talent trees that allow for multiple strategies. This adds another layer of depth, especially in the late game where decisions can be game-changing.
Dynamic Game Environment: Dota 2 is ever-changing, with frequent game patches that introduce new mechanics, items, and heroes.
- Dota 2 was the most played game on Steam for the longest time. However, in 2018, PUBG broke the record
- Most people know that Dota first began as a modification of Warcraft 3. However, it was inspired by the map ‘Aeon of Strife’ in StarCraft, making that map the true legacy from which the popular gaming genre started.
Dota 2 is considered to be a challenging game for beginners. The game has a steep learning curve and is not forgiving to new players. The community can be toxic, especially to newcomers who are still learning the ropes.
Even with friends to guide you, the game’s complexity and the skill level of other players can make the initial experience daunting.
DOTA 2 Prize Pool Tracker
Find more statistics at Statista
Strife was released in 2015 on Linux and Windows and was developed by S2 Games, a game studio based out of California. Something that immediately caught my attention about Strife and S2 Games was their aim to stop toxicity in the gaming community, something that I think can get overbearing and abusive.
They somewhat streamlined Heroes of Newerth into Strife to appeal to more casual players of MOBAs. Strife pits two teams of players against each other, with the main goal being to destroy the opposing team’s structure. The structure, dubbed ‘the Crux’, reminds me of the Nexus in League of Legends.
A player chooses a hero to stick with for a game’s running time, usually about 30-40 minutes, and can level that hero up outside of the game by winning experience points.
What Makes It Great
Role-Playing Elements: Strife is not just a first-person shooter; it incorporates role-playing game elements. NPCs in the game are not just targets; they offer quests that move the story forward.
Variety in Combat: The game starts slow but can get intense, resembling the action. It offers a range of weapons and items, including stealth kill weapons like the punch dagger and crossbow.
Strife is considered an easy game to pick up and learn. It has simplified gameplay and controls compared to similar games of its era, and it incorporates RPG elements that add depth without making it overly complex
Vainglory advertises itself as the ‘no compromise cross-platform MOBA’ and comes in as the first primarily mobile MOBA on the best MOBAs list. Originally released for iOS and Android devices back in 2014 & 2015, Vainglory is currently in Alpha on Windows and Mac.
Published by Super Evil Megacorp, Vainglory was originally displayed at Apple’s iPhone 6 announcement to show off the hardware, software, and graphical power of their (then) new device. The player’s goal is to ultimately control the path between their and their opponent’s bases.
They can venture off of the path, avoiding or battling AI turrets and other monsters, to gain resources and help their team to victory. This is a cross-platform title, meaning people on all three different release platforms can play in the same match with each other.
That’s something I dig about this game, and frankly, it should be a mainstay in the gaming world by now. Vainglory’s version of the game’s hero is called the ‘avatar’, which the player controls along with 4 others on their team. The goal is to make way pass enemy turrets and destroy the ‘Vain crystal’.
This should take anywhere from 20-30 minutes on average, so it’s relatively quick to play compared to MOBAs like Dota 2. Right now, players can choose between 48 different avatars, plunging themselves into a beautifully rendered world with detailed shadows and textures. The original number of avatars? Seven.
I have to applaud Super Evil Megacorp on their dedication to updating this game so much and building on their past experiences and their influential cross-platform play. See a full list of cross-platform MOBAs.
What Makes It Great
Well-Balanced Mechanics: The game mechanics are well-balanced, and the power scaling is well-polished, making it a game that follows in the footsteps of LoL and DOTA 2 but with its unique twists.
NPC Involvement: Vainglory features non-player characters called Minions that stop the enemy team from advancing. Behind these Minions are turret towers that add another layer of defense.
Diverse Hero Pool: Vainglory offers 52 different heroes, each with unique abilities and powers. Players can unlock these heroes by playing the game and climbing the ranks, providing a sense of progression.
The game is complex and stays true to the MOBA genre, featuring a large map, multi-dimensional heroes, and intricate item strategies. While it offers a rich gameplay experience, it is not necessarily easy for newcomers to the MOBA genre.
Arena of Valor
An adaptation of the Chinese variant MOBA, Wangzhe Rongyao, Arena of Valor was released in 2016 in Taiwan. Little by little it then released into different countries all over the world onto mobile devices, eventually culminating in the world-wide release on the Nintendo Switch in September of 2018.
Arena of Valor was published by Tencent Games, which I didn’t realize was the largest video game company in the world. They hail from China and focus primarily on online games, notably PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the mobile.
Arena of Valor started as the brainchild of Tencent games after they approached Riot Games, developers of League of Legends, asking if they could develop it into one of their mobile titles. The creators of League didn’t bite, saying that it was strictly to be on non-mobile platforms, as being on mobile would decrease the integrity of the gameplay and graphics.
Players take on the role of the heroes, a choice from a roster of 78 characters. These range from the lighthearted ones like Wisp, a small child piloting a mech, to the actual Chinese historical figure from the Three Kingdoms era, Lu Bu, (albeit highly fictionalized).
This game has been dubbed the ‘kingpin of pocket gaming’, and has amassed over 200 million players.
What Makes It Great
Hero Diversity and Customization: With over 39 heroes to choose from, each falling into one of six different classes, players have a wide array of options. The game also allows for further customization through the Arcana Pool, letting players tailor heroes to their play style.
Multiple Game Modes: Arena of Valor offers a variety of game modes, including Ranked Matches, Standard Matches, Custom Matches, and Arcades. This keeps the gameplay fresh and caters to different player preferences.
Game Duration: The game offers quick, action-packed games with importance on both micro and macro gameplay.
- Player Demographics: More than half of the players in Arena of Valor are women, accounting for 54% of the player base.
- Playable on Nintendo Switch: The game is not limited to mobile platforms; it is also playable on the Nintendo Switch console
- Global Market: Tencent aims to make the game widely accepted in other countries and is willing to make adjustments to the heroes to suit different markets.
Arena of Valor is a complex MOBA game with a variety of roles and heroes, each with specific objectives and skills. While the game does offer a guide for new players and features straightforward controls designed for touchscreen devices, it still has a learning curve due to its complexity
Defense of the Ancients
The one that blazed a trail, perhaps one of the best MOBAs, the original Dota paved the way for all other entries on the list.
It started as a mod for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne; in which you need to team up and destroy the other team’s ‘Ancient’, or their structure in their section of the map.
This game is why I love it when creators give the players access to world editors.
Because Blizzard allowed for such creations in their WarCfrat III World Editor, a whole genre, and internet phenomenon was born. Dota was released in 2003 by designers Eul, Steve Feak, and IceFrog.
Two teams dubbed the Sentinel and the other the Scourge, must vie for control of the map and destroy the other team’s aforementioned Ancient.
Players choose their hero, one of a staggering 112 possible choices, leaving an amazing amount of replay for the players. Players gain combat gold by destroying enemy players or other creatures, giving their team an advantage in the way of resources. This game has been called ‘the ultimate RTS’, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
It’s a step up from the RTS style of gameplay, opening up avenues, literally, as the ones on the game map, and those avenues of creativity of the players given free rein with resources, time, and creative vision.
What Makes It Great
Focus on Individual Strength: Unlike traditional RTS games that require resource management and base-building, DotA focuses on strengthening individual heroes. Players earn experience points and gold by killing computer-controlled units and enemy heroes, which they can use to level up and buy items.
Game Modes: DotA offers a variety of game modes, allowing for a flexible and customizable gaming experience. The game modes can dictate the difficulty of the scenario and whether heroes are chosen or assigned randomly
Influence and Legacy: DotA has inspired other popular games in the genre, like League of Legends, and has been credited with revolutionizing the MOBA genre.
- Influence: DotA is largely attributed as being the most significant inspiration for the MOBA genre. Valve acquired the intellectual property rights to DotA in 2009 to develop Dota 2, which was released in 2013.
- Cultural Impact: The game was so popular that it inspired a song by Swedish musician Basshunter that cracked the top ten singles charts in several Northern European countries.
Defense of the Ancients (DotA) is a complex and challenging game. The game requires a deep understanding of teamwork, strategy, and game mechanics. It also demands quick reflexes and adaptability to different situations.
Bang Bang: Strictly a mobile entry, as the name states, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang was released in 2016 exclusively for Android devices. Later that year it was ported to iOS devices as well. Mobile Legends was developed by Moonton and is exclusively released in China, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Sure, it follows the hallmarks of the best MOBA titles like Dota and Dota 2, but this game was the first MOBA to include a Battle Royale mode; something that is taking the gaming world by storm.
Moonton ran into a bit of trouble when Riot Games, (developers of League of Legends), claimed that Moonton not only used a logo that looked too similar to League’s, but that they had stolen elements of maps from Riot Games. Moonton lost the lawsuit and ended up having to pay $2.9 million for the offenses.
Hopefully, Moonton will recover from this setback and keep producing more content for their game, so mobile players can still have access to a mobile MOBA.
What Makes It Great
Mind Development: The game is compared to Chess for its ability to train the mind and promote strategic thinking. It encourages decision-making that leads to positive outcomes and mental growth.
Mobility and Convenience: The game is designed for handheld devices, making it convenient to play anywhere, anytime. It also has reliable and consistent servers
Teamwork and Social Interaction: Mobile Legends fosters friendship and teamwork. It offers a team-based environment that allows for easy interaction with other gamers and friends.
Longevity and Cultural Impact: With over a billion downloads, Mobile Legends has a lasting impact and is considered a part of gaming history. It has a strong online community with over a million users on its platform at any given time.
The game offers a complicated in-game environment with simple mechanics, making it easy to learn but hard to master
You Should Know
Tencent sent warning letters to Moonton’s partners in Indonesia, including esports platform RevivalTV, referencing a lawsuit against Moonton’s CEO Xu Zhenhua in China for violating trade secrets to develop MLBB’s game software.
However, the court documents revealed that the dispute was actually a labor case involving a non-compete clause in Xu Zhenhua’s contract with Tencent, and there was no decision made on whether he actually violated trade secrets.
Despite this, Moonton filed a lawsuit for commercial defamation regarding the warning letters sent in Indonesia, which they won.
Stunlock Studios released its MOBA, Battlerite, in the Fall of 2017 for Microsoft Windows. There’s an upcoming port due for release in 2018, but it’s still a secret. In Battlerite, players are introduced to their brand of heroes—Champions. Champions are broken down into their three attributes: offense, defense, and movement abilities.
The matches are much shorter than what you’re used to, due to many of the same MOBA elements that gamers are familiar with being nonexistent in Battlerite. Gone are the objectives to destroy the other team’s structure and gone are destroying AI-controlled characters for resources. Stunlock wanted to focus on action-filled gameplay, and they’ve worked it out in a great way.
They’re going to pursue making a standalone version of Battlerite and remove its free-to-play aspect. Maybe this will lead Stunlock to make a new subset of a MOBA or hone the MOBA genre into the next form it’s going to take. The best MOBAs are no stranger to innovators, so it’s fun to speculate on the future.
What Makes It Great
Fast-Paced Matches: The game features quick 10-minute matches, making it easier for players to engage in multiple sessions without feeling drained. The fast pace keeps the adrenaline pumping throughout the game.
Champion Depth: Although the game has a relatively smaller roster of 24 champions, each champion offers a unique set of skills and abilities. Players can also customize their champions further with “Battlerites,” which are adjustments that slightly augment a champion’s existing skills.
Consequential Movement: The game places a strong emphasis on the movement and positioning of your champion. The difference between winning and losing can come down to a single frame, making every dash, spell, and key click feel consequential.
The game is skill-shot-based and requires a good understanding of mechanical skills and hero abilities. The game can be hard, especially when trying to master specific heroes.
Heroes of Newerth
2010 was the year of S2 Game’s original MOBA, Heroes of Newerth. As I said before in the list, Strife was an offshoot of this title, desiring more streamlined access for more casual players. Heroes of Newerth was transferred to Frostburn Studios when S2 pooled all their time and energy into making Strife one of the best MOBAs.
Heroes of Newerth separates the two teams in terms of ‘Legion’ or ‘Hellbourne’, and their central structure is based on their team affiliation, specifically the World Tree or the Sacrificial Shrine, respectively. The perfect mix of skills is essential for pummeling your enemy and making them surrender.
Game times can range from 25-40 minutes depending on all factors, so you could either have a quick play or a deep intensive match that tests your true skill. The eSports prize pool for the HON Pre-Season of Professional League 2015 was $236,185.14, so get out there and make some bank playing MOBAs!
Update: Heroes of Newerth shut down its operations for good on June 20, 2022. Frostburn Studios made the announcement on Facebook expressing their gratitude for all the support that they received in the past years.
The cartoonish yet loveable and addicting Awesomenauts was developed by Ronimo Games and released in 2012 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Linux, OS X, and Windows, while the newer version for the most recent console generation in 2016. The availability on all platforms is a plus. It’s a 2D style game, featuring the Awesomenauts, the heroes of the game.
Awesomenauts are vastly different from each other in skill, making matches even more fun and intense than usual for even the best MOBAs. Games are played mostly 3v3 matches where the opposing team’s Solar Collector becomes the objective to destroy. Something I like about the design of this game is that it spices up the maps.
For example, one map has a giant monster in a pit to be a pain to players trying to destroy their enemy. Matches are usually quick—about 20 minutes. It became free-to-play in 2017.
What Makes It Great
Humor and Absurdity: The game is filled with absurd and hilarious characters, like a monkey with a laser-mounted jetpack, adding a unique flavor to the MOBA genre.
Tactical Gameplay: Despite its silly nature, Awesomenauts takes its strategy seriously. It requires patience and commitment, especially when playing against high-ranked players with superior characters.
Unique Spin on MOBA: The game offers a different take on the traditional MOBA genre, making even vetted MOBA players look at the genre in a new light.
Awesomenauts is not considered an easy game for new players to get into. The game has a level system that locks certain items, putting newcomers at a disadvantage. Additionally, it features a long and unskippable tutorial that has been criticized as a barrier to entry. While the game has a passionate community, these factors make it less welcoming for those who are new to the game.
Released back in 2009 on Windows, Demigod is a title developed by Gas Powered Games and published by Stardock. Much like Awesomenauts and Heroes of Newerth, the game’s title derives from the name of the player characters in the game—Demigods going to battle against one another.
The Demigods are classified into two different groups—the Assassins and Generals. These two categories are vastly different in terms of gameplay. Assassins are suited best for the player that wants to outright defeat their opponent in brute combat, while the Generals are much more nuanced in strategy and support.
The Generals populate the arena with minions and demigods to stop the opposing team. Overall, there are 10 demigods available to play, with the specific choices being narrowed down to whether you play Assassin or General.
I like this unique setup with the two types. It allows for a more strategic and more carefully planned action of attack, much like the standard RTS games that MOBAs derive from.
What Makes It Great
Time as a Resource: In Demigod, time is your most crucial resource. The choices you make on how to spend your time in the game can determine victory or defeat. Whether it’s retreating to heal or capturing a flag for a special bonus, every decision counts.
Tactical Choices: The game forces you to make dozens of choices that could turn the tide of battle. Whether it’s deciding which part of the battlefield you can make the most difference at, or choosing to upgrade your citadel, the game keeps you on your toes.
Online Experience: Despite initial networking issues, the game aims to offer a fantastic online multiplayer experience.
For Demigod, the absence of tutorials and poor documentation make it particularly unwelcoming for newcomers. Unlike some other games that might offer straightforward gameplay or community support to ease the learning curve, Demigod seems to throw players into the deep end without much guidance.
Monday Night Combat
Uber Entertainment and Microsoft Game Studios released Monday Night Combat on PC and Xbox 360 in 2011. Presented in an amusing ‘Monday Night Football’ spoof of the future, Monday Night Combat is a third-person team shooter. The main goal is to destroy the other team’s Moneyball within the arena.
The teams are made of players of clone soldiers duking it out in the arena. This game blurs the lines, in a good way, of what it is. It borrows heavily from RTS games, tower defense titles, and MOBAs, creating a nice mixture of the genres. Teams of 6 players engage in ‘Crossfire’, the game’s standard mode of play. Each clone soldier has its unique look and stats.
It reminds me a lot of Team Fortress 2 in its personality and design choices.
What Makes It Great
Blend of Genres: Incorporates elements of third-person shooting, tower defense, and MOBAs, offering a unique gameplay experience.
Turrets and Bots: Includes various types of turrets and bots, providing an additional layer of tactical decision-making.
Class Diversity: Offers six unique classes, each with distinct weapons, skills, and upgrades, enhancing replayability and strategic depth.
In the case of Monday Night Combat, the unique twist is its time-specific gameplay window. This means you’re not just learning the game; you’re racing against the clock to get your playtime in.
While the community seems to love the game, this time constraint could be a real hurdle for newcomers who need more flexible hours to get the hang of things.
Realm of the Titans
Realm of the Titans broke onto the scene in 2010 in China and 2011 in North America on Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Ningbo Shengguang Tianyi, a Shanghai-based studio. The developers had gone to Australia to study, becoming giant fans of the best MOBAs out there, igniting the fire inside them to make their title.
There are 168 heroes in the game and 5 skills that can be used by each. The developer also keeps adding more heroes to play, increasing the playability and replayability of the game.
A cool feature included in this MOBA is four bosses that lurk in the corners of the game maps. Players can kill these bosses, triggering the other bosses to turn into the ‘creep’ AI.
What Makes It Great
Phases and Adaptation: The game allows players to adapt their skills to different phases of the match, such as laning or team fights, making the gameplay dynamic.
Adaptable Skill System: The game introduces a unique Titan Skills system that allows players to choose an additional skill at the start of each match. These skills can be swapped every 3 minutes, allowing for adaptive strategies.
Skill Variety: Realm of the Titans offers a whopping 25 external abilities that can be used on any hero, providing a wide range of tactical options.
The gameplay is straightforward but offers depth in terms of strategies and mechanics.
Prime World is a unique blend of MMO and MOBA. Released by developer Nival in 2014 on Windows, Prime World frames the MOBA gameplay through an interesting narrative. The two main nations, the Keepers of Adornia and the Dokht Imperium, are warring for dominance over the main resource in the game world: Prime.
From the comforts of their castle, players vie for victory over a map versus other players for the mysterious and godly substance of Prime. I love this fantasy story within a MOBA, something that I feel is missing. You could have the best MOBA, but for me, I need a little meat on the bones, some backstory or motivation for my actions.
You have 42 heroes in the game, with the two unique units to the nations being the Ha’ka and Da’ka. This MOBA allows for Facebook connectivity to give you the ability to battle your online friends and family. The match length is usually around 30 minutes. The game won multiple awards, including the ‘IGN Best Strategy Game 2011’.
What Makes It Great
Castle Building: The game incorporates a castle-building element where you can gather resources and build structures.
Multiple Match Types: Prime World offers a variety of match types, including standard 5v5 MOBA-style matches and unique single-player missions.
Terrain Control: The game introduces the concept of terrain control, where players receive buffs when they are on their home turf.
Deep Talent System: For more experienced players, the game offers a deep talent system that allows for a variety of hero builds.
The game is designed to be accessible for newcomers, offering a simplified item shop and predetermined talent abilities for heroes.
Another Stunlock Studios MOBA, this game was released in 2011, 6 years before Stunlock’s other MOBA, Battlerite. You can see where they got their practice. The standard 5v5 players apply, with teams being either on team ‘Warm’ or ‘Cold’. You have different gameplay modes, like Arena, the standard MOBA mode, and Capture the Artifact, this game’s Coat the Flag mode.
This game includes a unique feature—the fog of war. You can’t see certain enemy areas due to ‘fog’, obstructions in the players’ eye line. There are currently 29 heroes that you can play as.
What Makes It Great
Balanced Arena Combat: The game is designed to be a balanced arena combat experience. There is no character leveling, equipment, or loot, ensuring that all players are on an even playing field. All characters have their abilities available to them at all times.
Simplicity and Variance: The game features four archetypes of characters: tanks, melee damagers, ranged damagers, and healers. While the characters within each archetype are similar, they each have subtle differences in abilities, allowing players to easily switch between them without a steep learning curve.
Skill-Based Gameplay: The game relies purely on player skill for attacking and determining damage. There are no mathematical bonuses or penalties, making the game accessible to those who don’t want to delve into complex statistics.
Game is accessible for beginners who can quickly understand the basics, while also offering depth and complexity for those who wish to master it.
A recent release, Paladins was developed by Evil Mojo Games. It was released worldwide on the main consoles and PC, and later on the Nintendo Switch. Paladins put you in the role of one of 40 champions. You and your team are locked in battle with the opposing side, relying on heavy strategizing to take home the victory.
Your team is divided into the front line, damage, support, and flank. This isn’t a game where you can just choose the character you like best for aesthetic reasons; this game makes you choose your character wisely for the most optimal gameplay experience. There are three game modes: Siege, Onslaught, and Team Deathmatch.
Siege is the standard MOBA equivalent in this game. Players must engage in an intense game filled with capture points, gaining, and losing ground, and mayhem. Onslaught is a point-based mode, where teams try to score as many points by performing certain actions like capturing a point or killing an enemy.
Team Deathmatch is your classic multiplayer bloodbath that we all know and love. You fight to 40 kills to claim your victory.
What Makes It Great
Player Choice and Customization: The game allows you to dictate your playstyle through in-depth card and item customization systems. Players can pick five out of 16 cards to create a preset loadout tailored to the champion they choose, enhancing stats and moves during a match.
Dynamic Gameplay: The game’s depth lies in its flexibility. You’re not pigeonholed into a specific role by your choice of character because of the heavy customization options. This allows you to adapt to different team compositions and maps, providing a greater sense of control.
Even after over 300 hours of gameplay, Paladins continues to offer new experiences, making it a game that players are likely to stick with for a long time.
- Competition with Overwatch: Paladins has been competing with Overwatch for over years. Despite similarities, the game’s inspiration was not Overwatch but Team Fortress 2.
- Total Players: As of December 2020, over 45 million people had played Paladins since its launch in 2015.
- Cross-Platform Features: Paladins supports cross-platform multiplayer, parties, and progression.
Paladins is generally considered accessible for newcomers, making it a welcoming gateway into the world of shooter games. However, if you’re aiming to become highly skilled, the game presents a steep learning curve.
Last but certainly not least by any measure, Dark Eclipse is shaping up to be one of the Best MOBA Games. This MOBA was released in late September 2018 by Sunsoft, veterans of the video game industry. They have titles near and dear to my heart to their name: Batman and Lemmings on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and countless others in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
They’ve primarily shifted their focus to mobile gaming, and that makes way for more player-friendly experiences, and perhaps more competitive ones, like MOBAs. The Dark Eclipse website briefly lays out the aim of Dark Eclipse, in a pretty cool way:
“Play in VR without the boundary of a 2D screen. Control three characters, called Leaders, build towers and destroy the enemy base. Developed by a team of MOBA and RTS lovers. This is a game by MOBA gamers for MOBA gamers.”
You read that right: a VR MOBA. I was curious, and a bit skeptical. As soon as I started reading about it, however, I became intrigued.
The site states:
“You can grab and move the characters (called Leaders) directly.No need for a mini-map…you just look around and you can see the whole battlefield. Feel the game with haptic feedback on your fingers, and listen to enemy movement with 3D audio.”
It gives the player better control over their characters and truly immerses them in the game.
Fear not–you can still use your DualShock controller to play if VR isn’t your style or disorients you.
What Makes It Great
Genre Fusion: Dark Eclipse successfully combines elements of MOBA and RTS genres. You control three heroes, direct them around the map to collect resources, build structures like in an RTS, and fight random monsters to gain XP, similar to a MOBA.
VR Implementation: The game is designed for PlayStation VR and offers a unique point of view and control scheme. It simulates a tabletop experience where you look over the board and move your heroes and soldiers using a floating hand, controlled via the DualShock 4 or PS Move controllers.
Strategic Gameplay: The game is slow-paced, requiring you to think strategically. You need to collect resources, build towers, and gain levels by killing random monsters. The fog-of-war effect adds another layer of strategy, as you can only see enemies near your bases or heroes.
Dark Eclipse is a game that initially appears complex but becomes increasingly enjoyable as you understand its various elements. It’s a MOBA/RTS hybrid available on PlayStation VR, featuring a blend of base destruction, character leveling, and strategic tower building.
I can’t wait to see the future of Dark Eclipse, and what other MOBAs will follow in its footsteps. Will the best MOBAs be in VR? Only time will tell, but this is a good step. I also like the emphasis on the development of MOBA gamers.
This happened in Dota’s case; people came together who loved WarCraft III’s world builder and created a craze that doesn’t show any signs of stopping.
What Makes It Great
Familiar Yet Fun Characters: While the characters in Heroes Evolved may seem familiar to those who have played other MOBAs, they are still fun to play. For example, the character Nosferatu is similar to Vladimir from League of Legends but offers a unique take on gameplay.
Competitive Scene: Unlike other MOBAs, Heroes Evolved doesn’t have “placement matches.” Instead, you play through each skill catchment one by one. Winning five matches allows you to play a match for promotion, but losing at higher ranks can also demote you.
Fair Monetization: The game is described as “balanced without P2W” (Pay-to-Win). The only items purchasable with real money are cosmetic items and characters, which can also be earned through in-game currency.
Heroes Evolved is a MOBA game with a variety of heroes and gameplay modes, making it a dynamic and engaging experience. While the game does offer a training session and daily tasks to help newcomers, it can initially appear overwhelming due to its complexity and variety of roles and strategies.
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