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.
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.