The Best MOBA Games For Android – June 2017

Even though they’re still a bit unknown to the general public, the last five years have seen the MOBA craze sweep the entire competitive gaming scene, building eSports from a niche, underground scene to receiving coverage on ESPN and awarding multi-million dollar cash prizes at the top conferences for both League of Legends and DotA 2. Since the rise of both titles in the late 2000s and early 2010s, dozens of different MOBAs have arrived on the scene, on PC, Mac, consoles, and even iOS and Android phones.

If you’re unaware, allow us to fill you in. The MOBA, or multiplayer online battle arena genre, is a competitive team-based online game in which, in standard matches, teams of five face off against each other on a large map. Each team member chooses a separate character, and that character fulfills a necessary role on the team. Like with any competitive game, most players have a standard character type they play, and MOBAs are no different; players usually fall into one of five archetypes. The AD Carry and AP Carry are typically the main damage dealers of the game, with the AD focusing on using melee and physical attacks, while the AP uses magic and spells. While these two character roles typically claim the most kills, they’re also susceptible to the most deaths in the game, as their defense is often quite weak. That’s where two more roles come in: the tank and the support. The tank is the opposite of a carry; while his attack and magic powers are often quite low, he specializes in defense and absorbing hits without dying. A good tank can defend his team in a face-off and live to tell the tale. The support, meanwhile, typically sticks by the AD Carry’s side for the first half of the game, healing and applying buffs to boost their carry’s power. For the second half of the match, the support extends their powers to the entire team, healing and buffing as needed. Contrary to popular belief, the support is one of the most important roles in the game, even if no one ever wants to play. Finally, there’s the jungler, but to explain their role, we’ll have to first explain how the game is played.


In a standard, basic match, each team of five begins on either the lower-left or upper-right corner of the map. The map is divided into three lanes, all spawning from the base. The tank typically goes to the top lane, the AP Carry heads to the mid lane, and the AD Carry and his or her support head to the bottom lane. Each lane has two “towers” per team (four total), represented by the dots above. The towers act as defense, damaging enemy team members that get too close to the tower. In addition to the lanes, there’s also a “jungle,” which is where the team’s fifth member, the jungler, comes in; they spend their time in the jungle destroying high-powered creatures for buffs, and sneak around to different lanes to help catch the enemy members in a surprise 2v1 or 3v2 match-up. Each team’s goal is simple: use your teams creeps—small creatures controlled by the AI and easily killed—to work towards destroying the enemy team’s towers in each lane. Once the lane is cleared, work toward getting to the enemy’s spawn area, and destroy the target—sometimes called the “Nexus” or “Ancient”—inside the base of your enemy. If you have a high-functioning team, with each player playing their role correctly and working together, you can almost always overcome your enemy and win the match. Of course, as with any team-based game, if your team falls apart, so do your chances of winning.

With the infinite replayability, high-stakes competitive plays, and the rewarding feeling of success when your team triumphs, it’s no surprise MOBAs have set the world ablaze. They’re easy to learn, difficult to master; quick to get into, but easy to feed thousands of hours of your life. The two established leaders of the genre, League of Legends and DotA 2, have been around for nearly a decade and feature some of the best, most experienced players in the game. If you’re trying to dip your toe into the genre without giving your life away or getting crushed by a player who understands the game better than you, you might be interested in checking out some mobile MOBAs available on your Android device.

While standard MOBA games can be difficult to learn and master, mobile MOBAs (try saying that five times fast) allow you to try the genre out for yourself from anywhere, without quite as much of the competitive nature or flaming that can be brought on by standard MOBAs on PC or Mac. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best MOBAs you can download on Android. For our comparison, we’ll be looking at the controls, graphics, and community for each title to bring you the best the Play Store has to offer. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Everyone else
Titan Brawl

For most players, Vainglory and Heroes will fulfill their need for MOBA gaming on the go. Of course, we don't want to only recommend two titles, so if you're looking for something a bit different from the usual MOBA, or you're tired of playing the above two choices, there are plenty of other selections available on Android to choose from. Titan Brawl, for example, was an unexpected, pleasant surprise. The game focuses on reducing the typical 20-40 minute game time matches down to 3—yes, three!—minutes, taking into account the idea that most mobile games aren't played on the couch or in bed, but rather on the bus or the subway. The map is shrunk down to minuscule sizes, contained in one cartoon-stylized lane with a fence splitting down the side of the map. The graphics are easy on the eyes, stylized similar to Disney Infinity's blocky-cartoon style; the game looks fantastic. Gone are the towers and intense strategies of less-welcoming MOBAs; Titan Brawl focuses on placing you in the final moments of every League of Legends match, when both teams are going back and forth to destroy each others' bases. It almost feels like cheating, skipping ahead to the most competitive, heart-stopping moments of a match, but Titan Brawl does it wonderfully. It probably goes without saying, but for those looking for complex strategy and gameplay, you won't find it here. For anyone looking for a great multiplayer mobile title with short matches and passable controls, you can do a lot worse that Titan Brawl.

Star Wars: Force Arena

Continuing our trend of MOBA alternatives for newer players to the genre, we have Star Wars: Force Arena. Far from a traditional MOBA, Force Arena combines elements from the MOBA genre with two additional gaming genres that have overpopulated the Play Store over the past half-decade: collectible trading card and tower defense games. The combination of the three game types and expensive in-app purchases makes this one of the most stereotypical mobile games ever to launch on Android, but don't write it off just yet. The simplified gameplay mechanics, featuring 1x1 and 2x2 team matches, along with the recognizable Star Wars characters make Force Arena one of the most accessible MOBAs on the Play Store. The controls are a take on Vainglory's touch-friendly tapping mechanism, and all of it is put together into quick three-minute matches similar to Titan Brawl, and the card-collecting mechanism of Hearthstone. Yes, it's a conglomerate of successful mobile ideas rolled into one Star Wars-flavored package, yet the game succeeds regardless. The three-minute rounds of battle are mobile friendly, and both the sound and graphics are pristine, and using Star Wars characters basically guarantees an audience—the game's been on the market for half a year and already has an audience of over a million. The collectible card mechanic is probably the worst thing in this game, pushing you to pay for cards unless you're willing to sink a ton of time into the title. But if you can ignore the worst of free-to-play—and you're in the mood for yet another star Wars game on your phone—Force Arena is a good beginner title for someone looking to delve into the world of MOBAs.

Battle Bay

Our final suggestion is one more MOBA alternative that's doing things a bit differently than your typical entry into the genre, and it comes from a mobile developer you've probably heard of. Battle Bay is the newest title from Rovio, the developing team behind Angry Birds, and despite launching just weeks ago, has already built an audience of millions because of its unique gameplay, fun and colorful graphics, and, of course, name recognition. But just like the dozens of Angry Birds spin-offs, Rovio knows what they're doing here, and they've built a mobile MOBA that isn't a direct take on League of Legends or DotA 2. Instead, Battle Bay reminds us more of Overwatch or Smite, the popular third-person MOBA alternative on PC. In Battle Bay, you control a boat on a team of five, and your fight takes place on the roaring sea, as opposed to another evergreen forest or scorched-earth battlefield like we've seen so many times before. The camera is set behind the boat, as opposed to over top the ocean, and controlled with a dual-joystick layout that, while perhaps not the most comfortable layout we've seen in the MOBA world, lends itself well to the gameplay. Rovio surprised us with this release: not only did they leave out their infamous birds, but there's actual depth to the strategy in their 5x5 arena. You build and equip your ship with weapon layouts, so much like more mainstream MOBAs, you can have different offensive or defensive classes for each battle. Most interestingly, the ocean-set battlefield has waves, making your attacks more difficult to land without proper consideration. If you're looking for something new and unexpected from a mobile genre quickly becoming over-saturated with League of Legends clones, Battle Bay is a great new entry to the field.

Posted by William Sattelberg on May 22, 2017

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