MOBAs here, MOBAs there; MOBAs Everywhere!
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Having been in the MOBA scene for just about a year now, I feel ignorant that I used to only know League of Legends and Dota 2 as the only MOBA games in the world, ever--which just isn’t true, as I’m now aware.

Granted I believe those two games are amongst the most popular titles in the genre, but I’m a little stunned that I’ve not come to know the other MOBAs that are out there or currently in the pipeline, except a few of the more recent ones.

Now that I’ve warmed to the genre, I can’t help but have a tuned ear for stories regarding MOBA titles, even if there are some headlines that make me want to cleanse the world with fire.

With my tuned audio receptor, I’ve picked up on a small handful of new MOBAs that have entered the fray during the past few months--some you may be already aware of and some you may not be.

I’ve already covered a few of these new titles before, and I’ve even played one (and one in particular I’m currently waiting to play), but it wasn’t until Borderlands developer Gearbox Software announced its own MOBA, “Battleborn”, that it clicked in my head that even more developers--and probably publishers, too--may likely dip their toes into the MOBA scene and develop their own contribution to the genre.

Aside my excitement to see new games in the works for the genre and track their respective development progress, I reflected a little bit on the new MOBAs I’ve covered since the beginning of the year, and was happily refreshed with about seven titles that have either entered Open Beta, have fully released, have been announced, or are currently in Alpha.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to piece together a little overview of all the recent MOBAs I’m personally aware of, and I’ll do so in chronological order to the best of my knowledge.

Traveling back a few months we have our first recent-MOBA, Blizzard Entertainment’s “Heroes of the storm”. Heroes of the Storm is where famous characters from across Blizzard’s franchises--Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo--come together to duke it out, with objective-based gameplay being the main focus of the title.

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You’re typical five-a-side, three-lane setup, instead of individual players excelling at the expense of the team, the team levels up as one, so no team member will be out-leveled by another during the course of a game. Furthermore, in place of having set abilities, you have the Talent System, which allows you to choose from a myriad of different abilities between levels, thus letting you customize your playstyle a lot more.

Heroes of the Storm went into its Technical Alpha back in March, and its doors have just recently been opened to European players as well.

Following Heroes of the Storm’s Technical Alpha comes the full release of Hi-Rez Studios “SMITE”, which also happened in March. Again being a five-a-side, three-lane setup, SMITE’s uniqueness comes from it being set in a third-person perspective, which is different from the typical isometric / top-down perspective.

To add to that, instead of fictional characters made specifically for the game, SMITE takes its characters from deities and gods, such as Ra or Zeus. In celebration of SMITE’s release, Hi-Rez will be holding a $600,000 eSports SMITE tournament in Atlanta, USA.

Next on the list is the Open Beta of Waystone Games’ “Dawngate” going live in early April. A refreshing title that’s specifically design to break the meta that MOBAs tend to have, Dawngate does without any sort of mana requirements and focuses on individual playstyle and teamplay.

Sharing a similarity with Heroes of the Storm in having objective-based elements included, Dawngate offers more than the odd thing to the MOBA scene, such as a large-ass boss in place of a team’s nexus that fights back against its attackers; different talents that replace character roles, and give subsequent buffs accordingly (so you can essentially have five passive players and still win); and an interesting honor system that rewards you based on your performance, teamwork and player interaction by giving you loot.

Another thing that’s interesting about Dawngate is instead of having Runes and Masteries (like in League of Legends), you instead have a Tetris puzzle where you can fit in X amount of differently shaped blocks to give your increased stats when in play. Further more, if you then put Y gems into said blocks, you’ll gain bonus stats and sometimes even a new passive. Oh, and the game only has two lanes instead of three.

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Next up is a title from Crysis developer Crytek, which was announced in late-May. Thematically similar to SMITE, Crytek’s “Arena of Fate” has you pit historical and fantastical heroes (of which there are currently 30) against each other in a fast-paced five-a-side, three-lane set up.

So, like how SMITE has Ra and Zeus, Arena of Fate has Robin Hood and Little Red Riding Hood. The game will be releasing for PC and console on a yet-to-be-announced date, but it’s slated to enter Early Access Beta testing on the PC sometime this summer.

Finally we get to the MOBAs that’ll be releasing on platforms I wouldn’t have imagined possible for that kind of genre: mobile! Both former staff of Rockstar Games and Riot Games, and CD Projekt RED will be contributing their own games to the MOBA scene specifically on mobile devices.

The former staff of Rockstar and Riot, whose studio is satirically named “Super Evil Megacorp”, will be developing a three-a-side iPad and iPhone game entitled “Vain Glory”. Last I checked (back in early-June), Vain Glory was being Beta tested in Southeast Asia, with a global rollout of Beta invites said to begin in the next few months. Interestingly, the game's targeted demographic will be League of Legends and Dota 2 players.

As for CD Projekt RED’s MOBA (which was announced in early-July), entitled, “The Witcher Battle Arena”, its contribution to the scene adds a fast-paced, fun and accessible six-a-side spin-off of the Witcher series, which is said to have been built from the ground up with mobiles in mind (specifically iOS,  Android, Windows Phone and Windows Tablet).

Furthermore, The Witcher Battle Arena is touted to have a balanced learning curve with complex tactics and a limitless array of skill-based strategies. The game will also be built wil fairness in mind, so there won’t be any pay-to-win elements featured in the title; players will have to unlock every piece of in-game content via gameplay only.

Also showing similarities to Heroes of the Storm’s objective-based gameplay, The Witcher Battle Arena has its players fight to capture and hold three conquests points across the game’s map. Additionally, the game boasts an intuitive character progression system that’ll allow for players to create their own tailored character builds and unique item configurations to give them the upper hand against their opponents.

That pretty much covers it for the recent MOBAs that I’ve covered since the year began, and I’m certainly looking forward to trying them out for myself. I hope this little overview of them all got at least some MOBA players excited for a new game to try out if they so desire.

Kieran Mackintosh
Kieran Mackintosh
@KingSongbird

Contributing Writer
Date: 07/10/2014

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