Choose My MOBA: LoL vs. Dota 2 vs. SMITE

    
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And it's gone.

A while back I became a fledgling MOBA fan thanks to Infinite Crisis. Unfortunately for me, Turbine decided to kill its DC universe battler just as I was getting into it. I’m currently looking for my next lane-based addiction, and I’ve boiled my choices down to League of Legends, Dota 2, and SMITE. The easy answer is “play all three,” and I have, to the point that I can talk semi-intelligently about their strengths and weaknesses from a newbish perspective.

I need to pick one, though, because all of them are free time blackholes and I do enough game-hopping as it is in the MMO space. Join me after the cut to discuss some pros and cons, and let me know which you think I should choose!

Ashe_1League of Legends

League is of course the genre granddaddy, and even though it wasn’t the first MOBA — nor is it necessarily the best — it’s undeniably the most popular. This is a game that has so many players in so many locations around the globe that developer Riot felt compelled to build its own large-scale network solely to combat lag, ping issues, and the like. Riot doesn’t often talk about its otherworldly population numbers, probably because it’s too busy rolling around in the piles of money that result from 27 million daily players and 67 million monthly players.

In a nutshell, I’ll never see queue times in LoL like I saw in Infinite Crisis, so, yay!

In terms of gameplay and accessibility, my research thus far shows that LoL features a dizzying array of champions to master, nearly a dozen more than Dota 2 and nearly twice as many as SMITE as of press timeThat kind of depth will keep me playing for a while, with the caveat that grinding to unlock additional heroes beyond the 10 weekly freebies will likely impede my progress at some point. Then again, I can just skip the grind by unlocking the champions I want with real money.

slark_dota_2-wallpaper-1152x720Dota 2

Dota 2, on the other hand, gives you its entire champion roster for free right out of the gate. Unlike League, it has only one map, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s easier to master. On the contrary, conventional wisdom holds that Dota 2 is the deepest and most challenging MOBA around, and I’m hard pressed to disagree with that based on my limited experience thus far.

Valve’s tutorial is light-years beyond Riot’s in my opinion, and the basics are straight-forward, particularly if it’s not your first MOBA rodeo. But there seems to be more going on, the matches seem to last a little bit longer (though the few team fights I’ve witnessed happened so quickly that I was unsure of what actually happened!), and the community is far less forgiving than the folks I’ve encountered in League or SMITE.

Aside from being chastened in chat for being ignorant about denying — which is basically a tactic for killing your own minions in order to prevent them from being farmed for experience by the enemy team — I’ve yet to find anyone who’s willing to help a newb out with some solid advice, so I’ve spent most of my Dota 2 matches hanging back, watching what my teammates do, and trying not to feed kills to the enemy squad.

I’ve also experienced more waiting times in Dota 2 than in League of Legends, and it can be frustrating to see your match queue stuck on 9/10 when you’ve got limited play time. This isn’t particularly surprising given that Dota 2’s population lags far behind League’s (nearly 8 million per month in May of 2015 as opposed to LoL’s 67 million per month in 2014), but it’s definitely going to factor into my decision.

525475SMITE

I have several friends playing SMITE, and Hi-Rez’s use of mythology is quite appetizing in the absence of an IP-based game like Infinite Crisis that sucked me in by pushing my favorite character buttons.

Strangely, though, the game’s third-person perspective is somewhat bothersome. Everyone else seems to love it, but part of my attraction to MOBAs is the isometric look and the feelings of both order and quasi-nostalgia that gazing down on my character and his environment provides. I love the detached god’s eye feeling combined with the need to micromanage items and abilities, whereas in SMITE, I have a tendency to focus on aiming my attacks and to lose track of the larger battle due to the game’s in-the-thick-of-it view. If you’ll permit me an MMORPG analogy, it’s like going from EverQuest II‘s combat to TERA‘s combat, which some people will no doubt love. I, on the other hand, prefer the traditional approach instead of the action combat revolution.

Why no HotS?

You may be wondering why I didn’t include Heroes of the Storm on my list of possible MOBAs, and the reasons are two-fold. One, I’m simply not a Blizzard fan. Two, and more importantly, I prefer the slow-paced tactics and character-building gameplay found in League and Dota 2 as opposed to HotS’s instant action. I hesitate to use the phrase “dumbing down” since it’s likely to start a comment war, but it is what it is, and the fact that HotS does away with individual XP, items, and last-hitting is personally unappealing.

The winner?

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m leaning toward League of Legends as my MOBA of choice. Its huge champion roster, huge playerbase, and what seems like a reasonable learning curve are tipping the scales in its favor thus far.

I’m open to suggestions, though, so if you MOBA experts feel like talking me into Dota 2 or possibly even SMITE via some information that I haven’t considered yet, I’m all ears!

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JordanBurgett
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JordanBurgett

I play a lot of Smite. On my Steam, I have maybe 40 hours logged. Out of steam, however, I’m approaching the 2-and-a-half-year mark. And that 2-and-a-half-years in is hours. Not consecutively, but logged in total. I can see where you like League, and where you like DotA, but I prefer smite over the two. It’s less of a ‘gameplay’ situation and more of a ‘ community in addition to gameplay.’ 

In my first 20 matches of League (I have since uninstalled and left the community), I had usually died somewhat frequently. What was the usual response to this death? “Why are you so bad?”, “Don’t play League if you’re bad at MOBAs.” and, “Nobody wants to play with someone who can’t win in a competitive setting.” Mind you, that was in some of my first games, with other people about my skill level.

DotA was similar, but not quite. They were more helpful if I explained what I was trying to go for on my character. They would tell me I’m bad, but then they’d usually ask what I was trying to do with my character, what I should be doing, and what I should avoid doing.

Smite is, by far, the best for me. The community, in my very first game, had asked if I had played before. I had said no. They invited me to their Teamspeak channel. I gladly accepted, and began chatting with them. After about 3 deaths with no kills, they kindly and calmly explained what I had been doing wrong, why my attacks that were dealing damage weren’t killing (Even on my Ultimate Ability), and what items I should use, and the order of my attacks to make the most of the damage.
While yes, League has many more champions than Smite, and DotA is more intricate in detail than Smite, I believe Smite’s character roster is better than any others. There’s no overpowered characters that can’t be beat, no matter what. (From what I’ve seen, both League and DotA have exceedingly overpowered characters that take usually a team to beat) Smite’s characters all have abilities based on lore, with actual mythology taken into account. Not only that, the abilities do what the character would do. 

I usually play Sun Wukong (Pictured), and he has 5 total abilities, one of which is passive.

As far as I could tell, neither other game has a lore that applies to the abilities that the champions have. That is why i am drawn to Smite. I am a very, very big mythology fan, and although that does mean I am somewhat biased, I prefer Smite more of the interaction between the abilities, the characters, their passives, and, more importantly, the ability combinations with other champions. League and DotA? Teamfights are fast, and they end quickly and they very quickly snowball in one sides favor. Smite? The teamfights can go either way, either side can win, and snowballing is less from teamfights and more from accidental feeding from people trying a new strategy too soon. Feeding is accidental, and therefore, people (Excluding competitive players), are more tolerant of accidentally dying to another player. 

My conclusion here is that Smite is the better game, by a long shot, because the community is more willing to *teach you how to be better*, whereas in the other 2 games, the community tells you *why you shouldn’t be playing the game.*

CynicalSir
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CynicalSir

KevinDorland Mononoke123 So basically, from what I can see by reading through the comments, what you do is find comments that say anything negative about LoL, and you bash them? Grow a pair, kid! People have opinions, get used to it.

CynicalSir
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CynicalSir

KevinDorland MelboYouraunchgoob I agree with Mel, that Last Hit stuff is complete crap. That’s why Heroes of The Storm capitalized on it and finally did what all MOBA’S should have done; Gave everyone who assisted, CREDIT.

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

Nurot Still no clue of what you’re talking about. Removing every individual aspect does NOT make a game more skill-based. Quite the opposite actually. See my last tictactoe vs chess comment. It still applies.

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

Damonvile Weird though. Dota2 has about 25-30% more kills and teambattles than LoL according to actual statistics. So basically it’s less boring and has more action.

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

yolosw3g And LoL is filled with weebos that think they’re 25 and hardcore even though they’re obviously 11 and rage on anything but themselves.

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

Oleg Chebeneev Dota 2 does. Logically. It has more mechanics and variables to master. 
Denying, dynamic jungle, itemization skills, counter-picking, delayed movement and different auto attack animation speeds for last hitting. LoL was CREATED as a dumbed down ”core” DOTA clone. Remember that. It’s what Riot themselves say ;)

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

CloakingDonkey
That’s because even tic-tac-toe can be played up to a certrain high level… You and I can’t. But it’s possible. Doesn’t dismiss the fact that:
HOTS = TicTacToe
LoL = Checkers
Dota2 = Chess
Sure I’m not the best in any of them… not even top 10.000. But then again doens’t take a genius to see chess is the hardest game to master here ;)

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

Nurot exeeter Wow man you’ve got issues.
Fact is that Dota (1 or 2…) still is the most dynamic and diverse of all MOBAS. It’s balanced by being extremely unbalanced and relying on counter-picks in hero choices and itemization. Which, subsequently, leads to the greatest diversity in working set-ups and game metas. Thank God… LoL ‘s been using the same ADC meta for 5 (!!!) years now basically.

KevinDorland
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KevinDorland

Necro Mage No logic found here… You can show skill in HoTS how? Exactly? Winning team fights? It’s the only thing left… you don’t have to 
1. think about which character you pick, just pick the strongest one.
2. don’t have to last hit, so that’s one less thing to learn
3. buy items or even think about them and counter your opponent… not present in HoTs
4. manipulate creep waves by denying, out-zoning etc
5. decide on a certain build… just google whichever one is the best for your character right now. No dynamics here.
It’s all… teamfights… that’s not skill. That’s part of skill.