Know your MOBAs–Dota 2, League of Legends and Heroes of The Storm

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MOBA

Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) have been around for years. The burst of popularity came from a Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne map called Defense of The Ancients (Dota) and flourished from there on out. After Dota became aesthetically outdated, Heroes of Newerth was born. HoN was almost a Dota clone on a better engine, but not long after that came League of Legends. League of Legends became extremely popular due to its simplicity and demand for complex plays, and builds.

During the intermission between Dota and Dota 2, League of Legends widened the gap in the market share and retains its number one spot today. In August 2012 Dota 2 was released, a remake on the Valve engine (previously a Blizzard mod map) and not to be left behind, Blizzard made their own MOBA called Heroes of The Storm.

A common question asked when people see a MOBA for the first time is the obvious “so it’s like Dota?” or “so it’s like LoL?” and so forth. While the simple answer is no, it’s not, today I’d like to educate the masses on the simple distinctions between the top three MOBAs, and hopefully clear a few things up. Unfortunately my play time in League of Legends is all but one lonely hour, while I’ve clocked 5500 hours in Dota 2, and roughly 50 odd hours in Heroes of The Storm.

Dota 2

As I alluded to above, Dota 2 is a remake of the MOBA which started it all. Dota 2 follows a very similar format to League of Legends, in that you have a map with three lanes with five-on-five combat. The heroes are categorised into three classes: Support, tank and carry. In Dota 2 your lane composition and roles are an extremely important factor. The composition is as follows: Solo middle (damage hero with mobility or sustainability), an offlane which is usually a slightly more tank hero with sustainability or an escape, two supports and a carry. The role of the carry and solo middle are your most prioritised roles when it comes to the progression of the game. The solo middle usually soaks the most experience, gaining a slight lead over teammates and hopefully the opponent, while your carry farms the lane while going through a naturally progression of carry items.

Items also directly affect the attack damage of the heroes (when looking at carries), as opposed to the inclusion of ability damage buffs in League of Legends gained from items. In the middle of the map is Roshan. Roshan is large monster where when killed gives one hero an Aegis of The Immortal. The Aegis of the Immortal grants one hero the ability to die and immediately come back to life, which does give the hero a somewhat tactical or defensive advantage. This is usually put onto a your solo mid or carry, depending on their abilities and whether expending them, dying, and coming back with full HP and Mana is an advantage.

Similarly to League of Legends, Dota 2 involved killing your opposing heroes, pushing down the towers/structures and destroying the Throne. Really, these two games are extremely similar but have a different aesthetic.

League of Legends

First things first, your characters are called Champions. This is the easiest distinction between the three MOBAs. Graphically LoL takes a more cartoony approach, with brighter colors and more vibrant characters. It’s easy to spot the difference between the three since League of Legends is best described as Dota meets Borderlands in terms of graphics, at least that’s what I thought. There are 120 Champions in total, each on a weekly cycle where you’re able to play as 10 random champions. Obviously you can buy the Champions with Influence Points (earned in game) or Riot Points (purchased with real money). These points can also buy cosmetic skins, but this does not alter the outcome of the game.

Roles are an important factor in most MOBAs. When looking at the layout of the map, in LoL your Champions each have a specific role. You have a jungler, a solo mid (usually spell caster/assassin) a solo top lane and a combo of support and Ability Damage Champion in the bottom lane. The road to victory involves defeating your opposing Champions, pushing down the towers and destroying the Nexus.

Killing minions, Champions and structures gives you gold which you’re able to purchase items which directly affect your ability power or damage. This is the main distinction as well between Dota 2 and League of Legends.

While this is the very brief overview of what League of Legends is, there are a few conditions which directly affect the pace of your game. The main map played in League of Legends is Summoner’s Rift. Summoner’s Rift has a main boss called the Dragon which teams are able to kill and gain a character buff. The Dragon has five stages of buffs, which naturally allow a leading progression for the team that kills him.

  1. DRAGON’S MIGHT: +6% attack damage and ability power
  2. DRAGON’S WRATH: +15% damage to towers and buildings
  3. DRAGON’S FLIGHT: +5% movement speed
  4. DRAGON’S DOMINANCE: +15% damage to minions and monsters
  5. ASPECT OF THE DRAGON: Doubles all previous bonuses and your attacks burn for 150 true damage over 5 seconds. This stack only lasts 180 seconds or until death.
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Dragon has a UNIQUE Passive called “Ancient Grudge“, which grants it 20% bonus damage to and 7% damage reduction against enemies with Dragon Slayer, per stack.

Source: LoL Wikia

The main difference between Dota 2 and League of Legends is that at times, the pace of LoL is nauseating. The action is very fast paced, and it seems like team fights are chaos.

 Heroes of The Storm

After losing out on the expansion of Dota from Warcraft, Blizzard answered with their very own MOBA. Heroes of the Storm takes the major characters from Blizzard lore and places them in the Nexus, a battle ground of different arenas. HoTS differentiates itself with objective-based teamplay. There’s no gold earned, there’re no items. The heroes abilities and levels are what gives them the competitive edge, as well as completing the map specific objectives. Experience is shared among all heroes, so soaking experience and winning team fights is what puts you ahead.

As with all MOBAs, Heroes of the Storm has specific roles: Tank, Support/Healer, Specialist, and two assassins (melee or range). The  role of the specialist is an interesting one as many specialists are map specific. Next is the most important part of HoTS, the maps (Battlegrounds).

There are nine battlegounds in total.

  • Infernal Shrines
    Throughout the game a shrine spawns which spawns minions. Once you’ve killed 30 minions a Guardian will assist you in pushing your enemy and dealing a lot of structure and hero damage. Only one shrine spawns at a time, so you have to fight your opponent to secure the Guardian. Once the Guardian has been killed, or his time has run out, a new shrine will spawn until there’s a victor
  • Battlefield of Eternity
    Two Immortals spawn in the middle of the map and begin the battle of eternity. The Angel and Demon fight as you and your opponents try to defeat your opponent’s Immortal or defending yours. The Immortal which survives joins your team until it is killed, or its time has run out.
  • Tomb of The Spider Queen
    Killing ranged spiders drops a gem which can be turned in. Once a specific amount of gems (growing from 50/55/60 and so on) have been handed in, three spiders will assists you. Theses spiders deal structure damage and push relatively fast, so joining them in the siege is optimal.
  • Sky Temple
    Every few minutes an ancient Sky Temple will spawn, once you defeat its guardians you are granted the shrines power which shoots a beam at your opponents structures. There are three Temples placed throughout the map and spawn with a varied number active at a time. You can either take control of one shrine, or fight your opponent and take control of them all. Throughout this map the number of shrines which spawn vary.
  • Garden of Terror
    When night falls you destroy the Garden Terror and his minions, picking up seeds to grow your own Terror. Once you’ve reached 100 seeds you spawn your own Terror which deals large amounts of structural damage.
  • Blackheart’s Bay
    Hand in doubloons and recruit the pirate mercenaries to shoot a canon at your opponents structures.
  • Dragon Shire
    Two shrines spawn on the opposite sides of the map, take control of both and summon the Dragon to fight by your side. Once both shrines have been captured you’re able to inhabit the Dragon and deal large amounts of structural and enemy damage.
  • Haunted Mines
    Enter the mines and destroy the minion collecting skulls. 100 skulls drop from the minions inside the mines, so collecting more skulls will spawn a bigger Golem which will fight alongside your team and deal structural damage.
  • Cursed Hollow
    Tributes will spawn throughout the map, one at a time. Once you’ve collected three tributes your enemies minions will have 1 health, and their structures will deal no damage. Use these opportunities to push.

While Heroes of the Storm may sound complex, it’s actually very easy. Your heroes abilities have different variations and upgrading them can take several different directions. Each upgrade gives you a selection of four abilities which can be upgraded, upgrading one of your abilities. For example if a hero had a stun, a heal and a damage ability, when you level up you’re able to either choose the following: Increase the stun damage, increase the heal amount or increase the ability damage. This allows a variation of ability types for all heroes, and adds a lot of depth to a really simple game.

I hope this clears it up for the most part. If not, my suggestion is we stick to FPS games where all we have to do is point and shoot, right?

Last Updated: September 9, 2015

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere - but my work here is independent of that.

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