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The Best MOBA Games For Android – December 2017

Posted by William Sattelberg on December 21, 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 with a quick guide to the basic guidelines of this genre (and for experts and legacy players out there, understand that this is a basic guide to MOBAs!). The MOBA, or multiplayer online battle arena genre, is a competitive team-based online game in which, in typical 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.

Map_of_MOBA.svg

In a standard, basic match of the average MOBA game, 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 respective 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,” depending on the game you’re playing—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 multiplayer sport, if your team falls apart, so do your chances of winning.

With its 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

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.

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.

If you're a resident of North America, you probably haven't heard of Arena of Valor, a relatively new release on the English version of a popular Chinese MOBA from developer Tencent. The game, known as King of Glory (and also occasionally referred to as Strike of Kings) in China, first launched in the country back in 2015, and since then, has more than 200 millions active players in its native region. With Arena of Valor, Tencent finally brings the game to North America mobile devices prior to a console launch on the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2018 or beyond, and it's safe to say the game is posed to become a massive hit over the next several months. Developer Tencent owns Riot Games, best known for creating League of Legends, one of the biggest games played all throughout the world, and one of two major games players think of when the term MOBA is used. Considering the ownership, you'll be unsurprised to learn that Arena of Valor looks similar to League of Legends in almost every way, redesigned for mobile and built primarily for touch controls. The game is played with a virtual joystick in the corner of your screen, as you control one of dozens of rotating champions that allow you free access to the game, in addition of purchasable champions with real money or in-game currency earned through playing the game. In addition to original characters, you'll also find sponsored champions filling in the game, including the likes of Batman put in place of characters based on Chinese folklore that would be unrecognizable stateside. You can even use Facebook to connect with friends, and with built-in online voice chat, you can communicate and plan strategies all while playing online. Unsurprisingly, there are a ton of in-app purchases available here, though they're mostly used for skins and other non-essential content. Still, this is essentially a mobile-friendly version of League of Legends, and any fans of that game will be foolish not to jump on the bandwagon with this one. Whether the US popularity will match what we've seen in China remains to be seen, but it's clear that Tencent is doing their best to find success in a previously-untapped market.

While Arena of Valor is a game from the company that owns League of Legends, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang—an admittedly terrible name—is so much like League of Legends that Riot Games actually sued Mobile Legends in July of 2017 for trademark infringement, thanks in part to just how close to League of Legends this game looks. But like with Arena of Valor, this might be a benefit to plenty of gamers looking for a mobile take on League of Legends, especially one with a more established fanbase than what we've seen from Tencent's new North American port. In Mobile Legends, you take up the role of one of several champions, fighting down one of three Rift-like lanes to reach the enemy base. It's all familiar stuff, reconfigured for shorter ten minute matches to help mobile users pick up and play the game a bit easier. Similarly, Mobile Legends and developer Moonton boasts about most players only having to wait up to ten second to join a game. A virtual joystick allows you to move around the battlefield, and thanks to the addition of smart AI control, it's easy to rejoin the game if you ever get disconnected without being completely slaughtered in the game. Mobile Legends has some interesting ideas on how MOBAs on mobile should work, and with over 50 million downloads, it also has a strong playerbase behind it. All that said, it's also worth noting that some MOBA fans have complained about the inclusion of pay-to-win tactics, including real-money skins that give actual, tangible in-game advantage to players willing to pay for it. Overall, Mobile Legends is a solid offering, but there are plenty of options on this list that might be worth your time—and very possible, money—over Moonton's take on League of Legends.

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 one of the newest titles from Rovio, the developing team behind Angry Birds, and in the months since launch has already managed to build 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 oversaturated with League of Legends clones (see our last two entries), Battle Bay is a great, relatively-new entry to the field.

2 thoughts on “The Best MOBA Games For Android – December 2017”

jungle_mole says:
btw, i like Twisted Treeline map in league of legends the most. actually i play almost only TT. 3×3 ftw. 5×5 without voice communication sucks balls
Reply
heynekko says:
Mobile Legends : Bang Bang is the best and the leader of Mobile MOBAs.. Vainglory has the biggest community? With only 5 million downloads? Seriously? That’s like 1/10 of Mobile Legends 50 million downloads.. Vainglory is limited to 3v3 and a SINGLE lane!! Mobile Legends captures the essential 5v5 3 lane essence and translate it beautifully for mobile game reducing the match time to within 15 minutes and simplifying the controls to on screen analog with assisted targeting.. Vainglory only works on iPads.. Impossible to play on compact devices.. Meanwhile Mobile Legends can be played on all devices big or small.. Hence Mobile Legends is KING hence the 50 million and counting downloads.. If you want to experience real MOBA go to LoL or DoTA.. If you want to play MOBA on the go go for Mobile Legends.. There is no point of Vainglory being somewhere stuck between mobile or full fledged MOBA
Reply
Ivan says:
uhmmm,… are you nut?
Reply
jungle_mole says:
i’ve played vailglory on xiaomi mi2 without any pain.. by dimensions it’s close to iphone 4

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