For anybody that has played Defense of the Ancients or League of Legends, the term “MOBA” is as ubiquitous as “FPS” is for those who play Call of Duty. However to the average gamer, “MOBA” is not as familiar. That is bound to change with the rise in popularity of League of Legends and the imminent release of Defense of the Ancients 2. MOBA, which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, is gaming genre that dates back to the original Warcraft III mod. This style of gameplay has been around for a while, but right now it is really starting to take off.
League of legends has gathered such an impressive player base that the game is now featured in the Major League Gaming website. Tournaments are now held for LOL with thousands of dollars as the prize for the winning team. With so much commotion surrounding this game, I had to try a match of League of Legends; honestly, it was underwhelming. I can appreciate the intricate weaving of game mechanics and progression from the game design standpoint. However, I can’t get past the first 15 minutes of the game. They are slow and boring. You may certainly call me shallow, but the truth is, this game fell off the ugly tree and hit every branch on its way down. I can see this game being very exciting near the late half of a match, but the first half is a tough sell. It was quite unfortunate, since I enjoyed the MOBA formula. Fortunately for me, there are alternatives to several MOBA giants out there. Check them out, you might end up being pleasantly surprised.
I like to call this one the “gateway-MOBA.” It plays well, has great controls and it is very polished. Did I mention it is 2D? No? Well, it is! That gives this game a very multiplayer co-op/versus platformer feel. It’s great! It is highly stylized so it looks great in motion. Each character feels unique and full of personality. They arenas are nicely varied and stylized as well. The only draw back for this title is that there is only one character for each role. So there really is only one tank, one character that specializes in “gank-ing,” one healer, etc… Recently the game was updated to add two new characters. These proved to be worthy additions to the game and I hope there are subsequent updates.
Super Monday Night Combat
It is rather easy to say that you are “really into” a game. But after spending 300+ hours playing one, I can honestly say I’m really into Super Monday Night Combat. This is a third person shooter-MOBA hybrid that is quite a spectacle. SMNC follows the usual MOBA formula but makes some key changes that make it feel fresh, fun and familiar. Instead of having an isometric view of your character, you have full control of the character’s (or “pro”) movement and field vision. That is because shooting is the primary way to deal damage in SMNC. Basically, if you took League of Legends, Team Fortress 2 and Gears of War blended them together with a hint of over the top humor, you’d get Super Monday Night Combat. If you have Steam you owe it to yourself to download this free-to-play game. Yep you heard that right, it’s FREE. Go get it. Now.
Now if you like traditional MOBA purist you might be thinking: “2D Perspective?! Heresy! Third-Person Shooting?! Blasphemy!” Fine, fine! Then Smite might be the game for you. This game has not been released yet, but I’ve seen this one up and running at PAX and it is beautiful. Smite brings to the table everything that League of legend lacks. This game is fast, it is action packed and it is gorgeous. The game follows a mythology inspired theme; so various gods from different backgrounds will be available and ready for battle. Keep your eye on this one, it might be the next big thing in the MOBA scene.
So there you have them, three great alternatives to the tried and true. If you have an interest in finding what MOBA games are all about, these are all great games. Check them out and see you in the Battle Arena!