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Best MOBA Games for PC – November 2017

Posted by William Sattelberg on November 24, 2017

As a genre, the MOBA has moved from an unknown niche community all the way to a worldwide phenomenon, responsible for sweeping along the entire competitive gaming scene and building eSports from an underground community to receiving championship 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 and MOBA-likes have arrived on the scene, on PC, MacOS, consoles, and even iOS and Android phones. As a genre of game, it’s quickly become one of the most popular—and controversial—game types on the market today, and it’s easy to see why. The MOBA scene is popular, competitive, and a whole lot of fun.

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 of the lesser-known MOBAs available on your PC.

While standard MOBA games can be difficult to learn and master, sticking to your guns when learning how to play each independent game is the best way to learn, allowing you to try out your skills as they grow and mastering each individual gameplay mechanic one at a time. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best MOBAs you can download for your PC. 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

All of that said, if you're entirely new to the genre, you might want to try out Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm. Though not referred to as a MOBA by Blizzard explicitly, the type of play or or less matches exactly what you would expect from something like a League of Legends or Dota 2, albeit with a bit more simplicity and straightforwardness that makes it ideal for both newcomers to the genre or anyone looking for something a little easier or less time-consuming to get good at. As with other MOBAs, HotS is a 5v5 team-based game, complete with different modes and the ability to select from different playable characters that are free to use on a weekly basis. There are 71 heroes available to play currently, with each unlockable through both microtransactions and in-game currency, along with 13 different maps that each have their own goal (similar to Blizzard's own Overwatch). HotS has a few quality of life improvements that really help the game's community; for example, in quick play, you choose which hero you wish to play prior to jumping into queue, which allows the game itself to form teams with a solid composition, eliminating the risk of "autolock" trolls. Overall, Heroes of the Storm is a great starter MOBA, or a great secondary choice for those looking for something to play in their spare time outside of Dota 2 or League of Legends. There are some really interesting modifications to the genre here, and it's refreshing to see a major company doing its own thing with the classic ideas of a MOBA.

Speaking of changing up the genre, that's exactly what we've seen from Smite, a game described by developer Hi-Rez Studios as an "action MOBA." Smite is a multiplatform title, with options to play on PC, MacOS, PS4, and Xbox One, and is the first non-isometric title on this list, with gameplay instead focused on a 3D third-person perspective. Smite has been around since 2012, and while it hasn't risen up to the same popularity of, say, Dota 2 or League of Legends, it's still a fairly-popular selection for folks who don't enjoy isometric games. The game does stay true to the majority of MOBA tropes, however, with two five-person teams battling it out in an arena throughout three lanes running through the map. There are 92 characters in Smite, each based on an ancient pantheon, including Greek, Roman, Japanese, and Celtic. Outside of the 3D perspective and the focus on ancient gods battling in a colosseum, however, much of smite retains the same gameplay we've come to expect from MOBAs. The standard mode has three lanes, a jungle, and a target to take out in each enemy's base, and while you might be playing from a different perspective, you'll still be pushing your character through a 20-level system with skillsets to unlock throughout the game. If isometric top-down MOBAs aren't for you, Smite is a great choice for something different.

Paragon hasn't officially launched out of beta yet, but it is playable on both Windows and PS4, and has been available to download on both platforms since 2016 (along with a physical retail PS4 version that you can pick up for about $30). Like most MOBAs, Paragon is a free to play game that focuses on the standard three lane, 5v5 gameplay of the genre. The game was developed by Epic Games, a developer largely known for their Unreal Engine 4 that powers plenty of modern titles, along with games like Fortnite and the original Gears of War trilogy. In terms of graphical powers, Paragon is by far the best looking game on this list. It's absolutely gorgeous, with high-res graphics available on both PS4 and PC. Like Smite, Paragon is played with a third-person view behind your champion, as you work your way down each lane to battle to the base of your enemy. Paragon's biggest change comes from the addition of loot boxes in each game, which gives you cards and allows you to build your decks. Loot boxes are having a moment of controversy throughout the gaming community as we write this, but it's worth noting that loot boxes here don't break the game; it isn't pay to win, according to Epic Games. Overall, Paragon is a great MOBA to pick up if you dig Smite but want something with better graphics, or something you can play with your friends on PS4.

Update: On January 26, 2018, Epic Games announced they were shutting down Paragon following the success of Fortnite. We'll replace this entry in our next update of the list.

Like Smite and Paragon, Awesomenauts is both a PC-based and console-based game, having first been released for PS3 and Xbox 360 in May of 2012 and Windows shortly thereafter. Over its five and a half years of existence, the game has also been ported to PS4 and Xbox One, and most recently, ended up as a free-to-play game on PC, which means anyone looking for a new MOBA can try out Awesomenauts without dropping a dime. As we saw with Paragon and Smite, Awesomenauts takes the typical MOBA styling and turns it on its head, with a fully-2D world inspired by fighting and platformer titles. In the game, two teams of three players work to reach the enemy's base and destroy the Solar Connector before their opponents do the same. With different maps available, it's easy to change up the game on the fly without it getting too boring. Awesomenauts is the easiest MOBA to dive into on our list, and it's also the only game with local splitscreen co-op play available, perfect for having some people over to your house. It definitely brings a different feel to the genre, while still being great for learning the rules and tropes of the game. With the free-to-play patch having been pushed out a few months ago, there's never been a better time to dive in and try Awesomenauts.

6 thoughts on “Best MOBA Games for PC – November 2017”

Martin says:
You described Dota and Lol quite deeply and rest only a bit, why?
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William Sattelberg says:
Partially because of the formatting of our site, partially because when I’m writing, I typically describe our two top picks in-depth and then give shorter intros for our other choices for games. Hope that makes sense!
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gab says:
Heroes of the Storm has 14 free heroes in rotation every week, and from Heroes 2.0 event game is free2play more than ever – you can get all skins (even most expensive) completely free via loot chests. You can get loot chests completely for free, only by playing the game.
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Timewinder says:
I am sorry, but this article feels like if it was written by a 10 yo kid, League is completely F2P, like you don’T have to spend literally a single $ to become a pro, all champions can be unlocked by playing, buying champs for real money is thing only smurfs do to increase their champ pool faster. And the game is pretty competitive at basically all skill levels, (not counting tutorial and Players vs AIs, which is probably the only experience of the author with the game…) Can’t tell a lot about the other games.
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Yess13 says:
+1.. I agree with this.. The same counts for smite.. Completely FTP and missing depth..? No dude not at all..
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An Angered Moba fan says:
Considering the lack of research clearly done here, League of Legends and Smite have always had 2 options to purchase champions/gods. Yes you can pay real cash or just simply play the free game to earn the free content. The bias in this review is abundantly clear considering you describe Smite, a new moba type considering the camera style, movement system, combat altogether, as having ”Simplistic gameplay” with no ranked scene….do you even bother to google your subjects before writing this garbage?
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The Author Doesn't Feel Like Signing In says:
Instead of shitposting, why don’t you leave constructive feedback? Or, you know, instead of acting like a child, go and write your own in-depth guide that fits your needs, instead of shitting on someone else’s work?

Course, you won’t do that, what with the fake email and all. Typical trolls.

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MRS says:
But this is not in-depth at all, is it? You haven’t really researched anything, even the simple stuff (LoL’ s business model, for instance). In addition, arguing whether a game is simple (no matter if it’s listed as a pro or con) must be done using arguments, not just “bad because simple”.

Overall, list achieves nothing and I would even argue that it’s misinformative

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Mr ANON2 says:
LOL, League trolls. All you LOL fans seem to be offended with any cons. League seems to have no cons. Whahahaha.. I hate lol, but just because it’s crap, no other reason needed. But hate their players even more.
LordPk says:
Sorry but in LoL smite and Hots, all champs/gods/heroes can be unlocked by just playing…you dont have to pay real money to get them soo…free to play done well
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The Author Doesn't Feel Like Signing In says:
Are you sure this was the case when I wrote this article? I noted the rotation-based model of each and I’m pretty sure back then the only way to stop it was to buy the heroes.
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Timdutch says:
This is still true, however you make in-game currency by playing, and many many champions are very cheap, and youll find yourself with a big roster after just a couple games. For example, starting out you make about 100-200 IP (the in-game currency) per game, and the cheaper champs are only 450.

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