Do you get a kick out of playing cooperative strategy games? Do high stakes competitions thrill you? Then, like a massive part of the gaming population, you must be into MOBA.
MOBA games have been around since the 90s, and the interest for them doesn’t seem to be waning. The hype started picking up with the release of Warcraft III when players were finally allowed to incorporate user-based content into their gameplay and have a more interactive experience.
But what exactly does MOBA mean? It stands for “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.” So by definition, single-player games and those that involve battles outside of an arena type setting are out. MOBA games have different premises, but most of them include pitting you against enemy players in real-time. There’s usually a lot of strategizing that goes into it too.
MOBA games have gotten a lot more sophisticated as of late, letting players use mods and customize the maps that they play in. As a result, there has been a surge in the competitive video game market, and finding the right game to lose hours to willingly can be frustrating. So if you’d like a quick rundown on all the best MOBA games out there, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into everything that makes each game unique and worth your time so you can find out what your new game obsession is going to be.
Oh, and don’t worry – the following games are played across multiple devices. So whatever gadget you have, you’ll be able to get in on the fun.
Riot Games’ League of Legends
Hand’s down; this has got to be one of the most popular MOBA games that you can play on PC. Fondly called “LoL” by its loyal fans, it took a lot of notes from another huge game called Defense of the Ancients.
Just like most games, you start humbly. The player has to level up their skills and collect items to advance and challenge feared enemies. Your role as a summoner lets you control your chosen champion. You team up with other players and test your strength by trying to defeat opposing teams.
League of Legends sets itself apart from all the other MOBA games with is rich and immersive lore, which revolves around over a hundred different champions, all with their distinct capabilities. The game is intuitive enough for any novice to get into but can get complicated enough for more advanced players.
If you want to see what its gameplay is all about, there is no shortage of players streaming it on Twitch. Soon enough, you’ll find out that it’s a game that will eat up a lot of your time and dedication because it’s just so darn fun.
Valve Corporation’s DotA2
Believe it or not, DotA 2 started as a Warcraft III mod. Valve Corporation then took the reins and developed it into a pro-tier MOBA game, essentially making a sequel. It’s not quite as popular as LoL, but it still racks up about 13 million players every month.
This beloved game still has its spotlight in the eSports arena, where the very best players go against each other in the international world finals every year. Some of these folks earn millions of dollars.
In this game, you’ll be choosing two heroes (from a pool of 115) to control. Matches are 5v5, and you’ll get to test each other’s skills on a three-lane map. The premise sounds simple enough, but the developers have added some features to make the game more immersive.
For example, you can “deny” other players the chance to harvest gold by killing their own “creeps.” You can also do away with traveling back to your base to unload items and instead use a courier to ship items anywhere.
DotA 2 is not the most accessible game because of its intricacies. But if you’re willing to put in the time to learn the most efficient item builds, you’ll survive and even thrive in the game. If you have a more tactical brain, DotA 2 will suck you in with its tremendous challenges.
Hi-Rez Studios’ Smite
If old-worth mythology is your thing, Smite might be the right fit for you as it takes direct inspiration from the characters that we all know, like Thor and Zeus. You get your pick from over a hundred gods and create interesting storylines by battling in three-lane arenas.
What else makes Smite unique? Well, Hi-Rez Studios introduced the third-person view to the MOBA genre, offering a fresh take on battle gameplay and making it more like an MMO. Players have to be aware of their surroundings because the added dimensionality makes battling more complicated. For example, you have to look out for Thor as he bullets downward with his hammer.
Hi-Rez Studios holds the Rez Expo every year, where top players fight for hefty cash prizes. By all means, it’s not the most talked-about MOBA game out there, but it has a stable player community of all ages. If you’d like to play out your dream matches, say Medussa vs. Aphrodite, now’s your chance to make it happen.
Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard, the creator of hot titles such as Diablo and Overwatch, had to create their version of a MOBA. It’s a free-to-play game, but you have the option to progress quicker with in-game microtransactions.
If you’re a BIizzard fan, the characters in the game are ones that you’ll surely recognize. They hail from the Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, and StarCraft universes; all pitted against each other in an all-star lineup.
This game has been out for four years now, and you can currently choose from over 80 heroes – from D.Va to Zeratul. When the game was first published, it didn’t have the best reception. Then Blizzard came up with a better progression system and adopted Overwatch’s loot system to make the game more playable. Players were then able to re-roll their loot boxes if they were dissatisfied with what they got – for the price of in-game gold, of course.
However, this game doesn’t have a focus on items. It’s all about ranking up your abilities to inflict more damage on enemy players. Every hero has two unique skills, one of which you’ll be able to activate once a single battle commences.
Another distinct characteristic of this game is its maps. They all have different objectives, which affects how battles play out. It might be your task to man fortifications for your team or to focus on collecting plants.
Rogue Games, Inc.’s Vainglory
Vainglory was released back in 2014 to showcase how graphics have gotten so much better on the then-new iPhone. Now, you can play it across all devices, including PC.
The mechanics of the game were stripped down because the developers wanted to go back to basics. You have the standard two opposing teams, and your goal is to infiltrate and destroy each other’s bases. There is terrain to tackle between the bases where players can complete specific objectives like killing or capturing creatures.
To level up your hero, you have to play matches and earn mastery points. With these points, you get stars. You receive bonus points if you play 3v3 or 5v5 battles despite the outcome. There is also a ranked mode where players of the same skill level are matched. The higher your level is, the more challenging your opponents are. Simple.
You get to choose from 50 heroes, and the developers still plan to come up with more. All of them have different skills, so it’s interesting how matches play out. Vainglory is a free-to-play game, but you can make in-app purchases to speed your progress along.
Monolith Production’s Guardians of Middle-Earth
Do you know all the ins and outs of the Lord of the Rings Universe? Then this MOBA is right up your alley. It’s tied into the series that we all know and love. You can play as characters like Thorin Oakenshield and Sauron in the epic setting that is Middle-Earth.
This game is beautiful, and it’s worth playing on a large display. You’ll also have to buy the game if you want to play it, but it’s well worth it to be able to thrill your inner LotR fanboy/girl. The gameplay is pretty standard. You’ll play in teams of five, and you have to destroy the enemy base.
Official support for the game has ended, so you can’t expect any more updates. Still, it has a loyal following, and it will rack up your game time once you get into it.
Frostburn Studios’ Heroes of Newerth
Heroes of Newerth is another MOBA game inspired by the OG, Warcraft III. It started as a custom map and was thoroughly developed by the folks over at Frostburn Studios. Now, let’s get into the gameplay.
First, you have to determine what kind of hero you want to play, which is important because your team needs balanced functionality. You have to assign who heals, takes charge of farming, defends, deals damage, and scouts. Your hero may be better at one or two of these things than others. In other words, you have to create a specialist.
You level up your hero by collecting gold and XP, which is maxed out at 25. You can do so by killing enemy players and creatures in the game. Some heroes have pets and device assists, which can help a lot during battles. There are over 120 heroes to choose from, so you’ll be spending a lot of time figuring out who to pick.
Once everything is set up, the goal is to destroy the enemy base, World Tree, or Hellbourne. The gameplay can get quite intense, but it’s fun if you’re a strategy fiend.
Romino Games’ Awesomenauts
Awesomenauts stands out on this list because it’s a 2D game. That’s pretty unusual for a MOBA game these days, but it’s a welcomed offering. It incorporates the old-school fighting games on older platformers and gives it a fresh take.
Fans love this game for its distinct design, excellent voice-over work, and overall quirkiness. But don’t let the simplistic look fool you. The character attributes in this game are on par with the more complicated MOBA games out there. On top of your health, you’ll have to level up your movement speed and attack strength. Awesomenauts also each have their unique attack moves.
The game’s primary match mode is 3v3. Your team’s goal is to destroy the enemy team’s solar collector. But getting there isn’t going to be easy. You have to fight your way through drones, turrets, and obstacles. If you die, you’ll respawn back at your base.
During gameplay, you have to collect Solars, which you can use to buy upgrades or heal yourself. Overall, this is the game to pick if you’re more into side-scrolling features. The numbers of its community are slowly dwindling since the last update, but it’s a great game to play if you and your friends are online at the same time.
Carbon Games’ AirMech
Do you lose hours to Technosoft’s Herzog Zwei back in the 90s? Then prepare to spend hours more on Airmech. You’ll be playing as a massive robot that can transform to fly and aid battling units from below. As an intelligent assist battle bot, it’s your task to create and place units to defend your fortress.
The currency in the game is known as credits. You’ll have to collect credits from your fortress and all your outposts to build more units. With your credits, you can build tanks, traps, infantries, as well as healing and defensive units.
As a player, you can choose from nine Airmechs, all with distinct pilots and parts. There are six play modes, including solo, co-op, PvP, capture the flag, survival, and warzone. During any of these modes, there are available minor challenges for you to complete, like capturing outposts and winning stacked games.
If you like sky-based games and have a nostalgia for video games from the 90s, you can’t go wrong with AirMech. It’s a deeply engaging game, with its real-time strategy gameplay, straightforward MOBA mechanics, and in-depth tutorial.
S2 Games’ Strife
If you’re only starting with MOBA games and don’t want to play with rowdy 9-year-olds, Strife is worth checking out. The developers made it a point to host a friendlier community of more casual players. They also introduced external mechanics outside of battling, like crafting and taking care of pets. Pets have their skills to level up, which can be helpful to their heroes during battles.
The engine that the game uses is called Kodiak, which is a descendant of the K2 engine. As a result, the lighting and physics in the game are noticeably much better.
The gameplay isn’t any different from other MOBA games, though. Your goal is to destroy the “Crux” of the other team, a.k.a. their base. You’ll get to play as one hero during each match. Each hero has four abilities, all of which you can upgrade as you level up in the game.
As an introduction to MOBA games, there’s very little to ask for from Strife. You have 30 players to choose from, which is enough to keep you occupied just by reading stats and capabilities. Plus, the pet and crafting systems are hard to find elsewhere.
Stunlock Studios’ Battlerite
Bloodline Champions, created by the same developers, was the direct inspiration for Battlerite. However, they added more depth to the game by stripping away the unnecessary elements and focusing on what’s fun: the fighting.
In Battlerite, you’ll be playing in teams of three. Before every match, you’ll get to pick a champion with his or her particular defensive and offensive skills. Your team gets a victory if you win three games. Each match lasts for about two minutes. When the timer starts to run out, players are forced to battle in a smaller area.
If you don’t like item collecting or crafting, and want to focus more on fighting, Battleright might be your game. There aren’t enemy bases to destroy, and no neutral units to kill. To level up in the game, all you have to do is go head to head with enemy players. Out of all the MOBA games on this list, this one is the least strategy-focused, which can be great for those who just want in on the action.
Hi-Rez Studios’ Paladins
Another title from Hi-Rez Studios, Paladins, is essentially a shooter game. It takes place in a unique “Dungeonpunk” setting, where medieval elements meld with fantasy. For example, instead of swords, soldiers carry assault rifles. Doesn’t this sound like sci-fi at its finest?
The game’s story revolves around the conflict between Paladins (Resistance) and the Magistrate. Champions (you) were called upon to take action and prevent unnecessary foot soldier deaths. However, not all champions fall on either side of the spectrum. Some get hired by both parties and are considered mercenaries.
Players can choose different roles to play during battles. You can focus on damage, support, and flanking. There are four play modes, which are siege, onslaught, team deathmatch, and ranked. A lot of coordination is needed with your teammates to win against enemy teams. It also helps a lot to have a working knowledge of each of the 42 champions’ capabilities.
Tencent’s Arena of Valor
If you’re more of a handheld gamer, Arena of Valor is arguably one of the best MOBA game offerings on Android. You can also play it on Nintendo Switch and iOS. This game was developed in China, but it grossed over $100 million in other countries.
Since the quality of gaming on mobile devices has improved significantly in recent years, players are now able to enjoy 3D third-person titles on the go. Enter Arena of Valor. This game has three main modes – abyssal clash, valley skirmish, and grand battle. Each match runs for at least 10 minutes. Winning one will get you rewards like gold, which you can use to buy arcana.
There are 85 heroes in the game, all of which fall into six categories: marksman, mage, assassin, tank, warrior, and support. As you can tell, each category has its own specialty, which can be paired up with others to ensure victories.
It’s also worth noting that the music in the game is impressive and has gotten the game multiple awards. It also won in the Gamers’ Choice Awards for “Fan Favorite Mobile Game.” Now that’s saying something.
Uber Entertainment’s Monday Night Combat
Monday Night Combat is a futuristic third-person shooter game and was first released back in 2010. Though that might seem dated, fans of old-school shoot-outs still express love for this game.
The mechanics are simple. Your team has to wipe out the other team’s Moneyball and protect your own. Players can choose from six unique classes, so you can customize what kind of abilities you have and what weapons you’d like to master. Here’s a quick rundown of the classes:
Tanks and Gunners specialize in heavy weaponry. Support specializes in healing teammates and repairing turrets. Assault is the middle of the road class, considered to be the most well-rounded. Snipers specialize in long-range attacks. Finally, assassins specialize in stealth attacks. You need all of these classes to make a balanced team.
As you keep winning matches, you’re awarded cash, which you can use to improve defenses and buy upgrades for your character. “Juice” is another useful thing to collect. Once your meter fills up, your character will be able to unleash super-powered abilities. “Bacon” and “Churros” are other pickups that will give your character health and temporarily boosted capabilities. With the game’s wacky art style and tons of DLC, it’s worth the meager price.
Nival’s Prime World
In Prime World’s story, there are two factions that fight to assert dominance over the other: Dokht Imperium and Keepers of Adornia. They battle it out for the most precious resource: Prime.
There are 42 heroes to choose from, all of which can lead your chosen faction to victory is used strategically. Matches can last as long as half an hour. People love this MOBA game because of its Facebook connectivity, which allows players to play with their friends and family.
Supercell’s Brawl Stars
Taking notes from mobile games, Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, Brawl Stars is a great spiritual successor. Its Finnish developers specifically optimized it for mobile, so it runs smoothly.
In the game, you can play as a skirmisher, sharpshooter, thrower, healer – among other things. The style is a bit simplistic and targeted towards a younger (or young at heart) audience. It’s a great MOBA game if you’re looking for something on the lighter side.
Sunsoft’s Dark Eclipse
Dark Eclipse is a Playstation exclusive, and it’s one of the first attempts to bring virtual reality into the MOBA scene. It combines real-time strategy with fast, intuitive controls, and post-apocalyptic vibes.
The game is set in the realm of Oldus, where everything was once serene and thriving. But because of the Dark Eclipse that brought neverending darkness to the land, leaders have to fight against natural disasters and dark creatures.
Dark Eclipse’s graphics look fantastic on VR. It gives us an insight into what MOBA games can be in the near future.
MOBA Games To Watch Out For
Kybolt’s Rise of Winterchill
Inspiration from DotA seems to have no end. Here’s another title by an indie game developer from Ireland that started off as a DotA mod. Since the mod garnered excellent reviews, the developers decided to make it into a full-fledged game.
This game does away with randomness as much as possible. The player has significant influence over outcomes. There are new empowerment and mutual support systems that bring new mechanics into standard MOBA games. Developments on this game have kept interested players excited for over ten years, and the developers’ current progress seems to be paying off. Go on over to their site to check out what the dev team has perfected over the years. More popular titles should take notes.
Moonlit’s Ignis: Duel of Wizards
In Ignis, you play the role of a powerful mage with untapped abilities. But this not your ordinary run of the mill spellcasting game. You’ll be able to do things like summon allies and putting up magical defenses.
Ignis veers away from the regular MOBA setup as it focuses more on PvP gameplay. Without external enemies, you’ll have intense duels with other players from all over the globe. Because the fighting is one-on-one, you’ll need to be quick on your feet, ready to react to your enemy’s moves. Ignis’ design is very charming, and a lot of players are looking forward to its release.
C&S Studio’s Circuits and Shields
For those who think that every MOBA game is starting to feel the same, Circuits and Shields might be the breath of fresh air that you’re waiting for. C&S Studio has been studying MOBA games for the past decade, and they’ve implemented the elements that we all love about MOBA games into one master game.
That includes beautiful worlds and arenas, a new augment system, better item management, and champions with depth. If all this is making you tingle, you could give the team a helping hand by donating a few bucks to their Kickstarter.
Rampage Games’ Genesis
Genesis takes place in the future, 2332, to be exact. In the story, scientists at ZPT Corp found out that the universe is expanding at an alarming rate and will soon go in shambles in the next couple of centuries. People then have to join forces to keep this from happening. It’s a great premise so far.
Since this is a MOBA game, the familiar mechanics of assuming the role of a hero comes into play. You’ll have to work in teams to complete your objectives. This may be a little harder than you’d think because there are outside forces to deal with, like geomagnetic storms and other natural phenomena.
In the game, you get two play modes, PvP, and 5v5. It runs on Unreal Engine 4, so this game is going to look stellar. Because it’s on a powerful engine, there are distinctive elements like variable weather conditions that affect your game.
Lucid Games’ Switchblade
Lucid Games was the developer of Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, which received overwhelmingly positive reviews. So the potential for Switchblade is enormous.
It has the unique premise of being able to play ina futuristic racing championship. To give you a better idea, imagine if LoL had a baby with Rocket League. Instead of heroes, you’ll get to choose from special vehicles, all of which you can upgrade as you get further in the game. The game is set to be released in 2020.
The future of MOBA
Virtual Reality in MOBA is already starting to take shape. Soon, we can expect to have Augmented Reality elements adopted into the MOBA games that we love. With our gaming rigs becoming more sophisticated as time goes on, developers won’t stop trying to enrich our gaming experience. The current quality of games that we have on our tablets and smartphones alone would blow the minds of gamers from 20 years ago. Who knows? The MOBA genre is definitely one to follow, especially since eSports have made it possible to make competitive gaming extremely lucrative.
As you can tell from the wide variety of games that have been listed here, there’s something for everyone. If you’re into mechs, magic, futuristic settings, or even a combination of all those, you’re sure to find a game that ticks all those off. Hell, if you want to kick it up a notch and start gaming competitively, you might want to look into eSports. If you’re unsure about where to start, go for the classics like League of Legends and DotA 2.
All the games above have one thing in common: a social side. If you’re sick of playing solo, a MOBA game will let you feel connected to other players from all over the globe who enjoy the same things that you’re into. Healthy communities are made up of passionate fans who devote their time into playing, modding, and discussing how their beloved games could be better. There’s an exciting world of MOBA gaming out there waiting for you.