Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Best MOBA Games in 2018 – Games like DotA 2 and LoL

The multiplayer online battle arena genre has taken the gaming world by storm. If you are quite familiar with the genre and its two most popular games namely DotA 2 and League of Legends, then there are many other games that spawned from the genre and with wildly different mechanics.

However, if you are not well-versed with this new genre then let me give you a short introduction:

The genre first appeared in the classic Blizzard real-time strategy game Starcraft in the form of a custom map named Aeon of Strife. The bare basics of MOBA were found there, from the spawning creeps to the selection of hero characters. Warcraft III soon followed, and its highly complex map editor allowed the creation of better maps including the next generation Aeon of Strife.

Aeon of Strife inspired a modder named Eul to create a similar game on Warcraft III’s editor. The map was Defense of the Ancients, and it offered the same basic mechanics of Aeon but with massive improvements. Many other modders made their own version of the map, but it was Steve “Guinsoo” Freak who came up with the best incarnation out there named DotA Allstars. Eventually the map was handed to Icefrog, and the constant release of updates sealed DotA’s popularity.

MOBA games put the player in control of a unique character, usually called a hero, equipped with a set of skills that fit the said character’s purpose. The objective of a match is the destruction of the enemy team’s primary structure, and aiding the players on this is the regularly spawning group of computer-controlled forces called creeps. The teams of opposing heroes engage in a tug-of-war battle composed of skirmishes, ambushes, and decisive clashes through multiple lanes guarded by towers, and these said heroes are strengthened with the use of different items or customizations.

The exciting and action-packed gameplay of the genre paved the way for the creation of many other games. DotA 2 and League of Legends (or LoL / League) are the two reigning juggernauts of the genre, retaining most of the basics that made MOBA a great genre but adding their own twists to it.

If you want to read an article that details the differences between DotA 2 and LoL, click here.

The Best Games Like Dota 2 – Top MOBA’s in 2017

Here are some of the other games in the genre that you might find interesting, along with what makes them different from the familiar DotA 2 and LoL:


AirMech is different from DotA 2 and LoL as it incorporates mechanics from other game genres namely real-time strategy and shooter games. Aside from the usual creep spawn, players can reinforce their numbers by purchasing units from the fortress which also serves as the team’s primary structure. The AirMechs, or heroes in this game, can transform into an airborne form that allows them to fly around the map and engage enemies in dogfights which obviously warrants a fast-paced gameplay focused on strafing and performing evasive maneuvers. AirMech lacks an item shop during a match; instead players have to customize their AirMechs prior to the start of battle by equipping them with pilots, items, parts, and customizing the loadout of units that can be deployed. The in-game currency Kudos is earned after matches and used to purchase AirMechs, pilots, parts, and other needed items. Diamonds are the ones purchased with real money and are used to buy unique items.

AirMech focuses mainly on action with some strategic positioning thanks to proper unit combination and deployment. Players earn credits passively through their fortress, by controlling outposts, and building MoneyMakers, hence there is no need to “farm” for credits by staying in lane and killing creeps,  instead players are encouraged to focus on deploying units, securing strategic positions, and actively engaging enemy AirMechs. A match only supports up to 3v3, while other game modes like survival and capture the flag are available as well.

If you are into the fast-paced combat of shooter games with a bit of team play and strategic flavor then go for AirMech.




Awesomenauts is a 2D platformer / MOBA / fighting game presented in wacky cartoonish graphics. Players choose from a roster of silly heroes (or ‘Nauts) ranging from the gangsta toad Froggy G to the smooth womanizer Leon Chameleon. Instead of items, the ‘Nauts can be augmented with upgrades purchased using Solar which are earned by defeating enemy ‘Nauts, units, and towers, or picked up on the map. Players fight on two “lanes” namely top and bottom with two turrets each and the usual creep spawn, and their respective primary structures called cores are on the opposing ends of the map. Players gain levels through experience earned after every match which leads to unlocking more game content like additional ‘Nauts and available upgrades.

The side-scrolling perspective of Awesomenauts only allows movement of up, down, diagonal, and sideways, making the gameplay a lot different than the common top-down MOBAs. A match supports a maximum of 3 players on each team. The game is not free to play with a $9.99 price tag on Steam.  Its expansion Starstorm offers new content for $8.99. For new players, Awesomenauts is a quite simple game that is easy to pick up and learn, without the complex mechanics seen in DotA 2 and LoL.

Awesomenauts is the game to go if you want the thrill of a MOBA on a well-designed side-scroller with truly unique characters to choose from.



Heroes of the Storm

The MOBA for fans of games released by Blizzard, Heroes of the Storm features a roster of heroes coming from the game developer’s past installments like Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft. However, probably aside from the creeps and the objective of destroying the enemy core, Heroes of the Storm is very much different than your usual MOBA game and might make DotA 2 and LoL fans scratch their heads.

The entire team shares a unified experience bar, so they all level up in unison. This ensures that you and your team are on equal footing, with no one being on the lead and carrying the entire team. There are absolutely no items in this game and no shop in the map. Instead of consumable regeneration items, healing wells provide the needed temporary rejuvenation in select areas of the battleground.

Speaking of battleground, the team’s core is protected not only by towers with limited ammo but walls as well on the lane. The core can shoot down enemy heroes with unlimited ammunition. The game has a good selection of maps each with different objectives that will be of immense help to the team that completes it. For example, in the battleground Dragon Shire, the secondary objective requires a team to activate two obelisks found at the top and bottom lanes. Once done, a powerful Dragon Knight will emerge and help the team that accomplished this objective. At times this can turn the match into a one-sided stomp, with very little chance of a comeback. There are no neutral creeps, instead mercenary camps linger on specific areas of the battleground and swear allegiance to the team that defeats them.

There is also no currency during matches, so there is no need to farm creeps on a lane or focus on last-hitting and denying, but certain heroes have talents that benefit from killing creeps. Since there are no items in the match, heroes are customized with the use of unlockable talents that become available when that said hero levels up not in-game but depending on how many times you used him / her. There are also mounts that a hero can use to boost movement speed. Heroes also have four abilities that are already usable at the start of the game, and two powerful heroic abilities that become available later in the game. This early availability of abilities usually leads to heated confrontations between the opposing teams at level 1. Aside from the weekly free five heroes, players use the in-game currency to unlock new heroes and purchase cosmetic items.

Heroes of the Storm might be a good choice if you’re looking for a MOBA that encourages getting to the thick of battle without having to mind farming and item builds, and if you happen to miss Jim Raynor or Diablo.



Heroes of Newerth

Heroes of Newerth is probably the MOBA that is closest to DotA 2. In fact, many of its heroes and items are directly ported from the original DotA, only with different names and models. The game is also seen to be more fast-paced than DotA 2 and LoL, allows the doomed team to concede and the kicking of AFK players, and now has a great addition of new unique heroes and items. For the maps, Forests of Caldavar is the map similar to DotA 2 and Summoner’s Rift in LoL, Grimm’s Crossing supports 3v3 on two lanes, and the action-packed Mid Wars clumps all ten heroes on one lane.

Initially having all heroes available for free, the game now follows a free hero rotation system as well. The in-game currencies gold and silver, topped up and earned after matches respectively, allowed players to buy heroes, cosmetic items, announcers, icon packs, couriers, and many other customizations.  Unfortunately, the playerbase has taken a hit after the release of DotA 2, but the game is still active these days with a new hero released last December.

Try Heroes of Newerth if you want an experience that is similar to DotA 2. Its new heroes and items put new and interesting strategies on the board that you might want to try out.




Fans of fast-paced action games and mythological figures rejoice! Smite delivers a unique perspective on the
usual MOBA recipe of creeps and towers by bringing ancient mythological deities and creatures from different cultures to the roster, and all of this are seen in a glorious third-person view.

Conquest is the name of Smite’s usual MOBA map. It has three lanes with two towers each, neutral creeps in the jungle, and finally the team’s base with regenerating towers known as Phoenixes. The primary structure for each team is a Titan, a hulking monstrosity that actually fights back and even chases enemy heroes to a certain range. Smite also has other game modes with different rules if one needs a break from all that pushing.

Killing creeps give gold to each allied god in the area, thus encouraging aggressive play instead of static farming on a lane. Players can configure the automatic purchase of items for their gods to eliminate the need of having to scroll through the shop and interrupt your momentum.

As this is a third-person view game, the gods are controlled using the W, A, S, and D keys. The view also leads to a more complex combat system as everything needs accuracy, from a melee attack to a basic skill. Dizzying turns and fast movement is prevalent in this game as well, and some gods even have the ability to zip around by teleporting or flying in the air. If you are used to Dota 2 and LoL with its static view, then you might need to get used to Smite’s fast gameplay and camerawork.

Do you like mythological gods? Balls to the wall action? Smiting other deities? Try Smite!




If you are itching for the MOBA experience on your mobile phone, then Vainglory is the game for you. Available on Android and iOS, the game offers 6 free heroes out of the 20 on a rotating weekly roster and the option of permanently unlocking heroes with in-game currency or real money. Teams are only composed of three players, and the map only has one lane with five turrets. A jungle is located beneath the lane with neutral creeps, a shop, and mines that provide bonuses for your own creeps.

For newbies to the MOBA scene, Vainglory has a tutorial that teaches the basics of the game coupled with challenges to help sharpen skills. The game has a low learning curve, so neophytes need not worry.

Communication is a critical part of a MOBA game, and unfortunately Vainglory has a very limited way of doing this. Players cannot type in words as there is no chat box, instead they can only send pings with respective messages to alert the team. Sure this may be a good way to not see insults from the trash-talking enemy team, but this lacking feature might prove to be difficult for those who are used to relaying instructions to their teammates.

Vainglory has a UI that might force players to play using their index fingers and with their device set down on a flat surface, but the game is very responsive to touch.

Install Vainglory on your device and enjoy the mobile MOBA experience virtually anywhere.

Do you have other MOBA games aside from DotA 2 and LoL? Have you tried any of the ones mentioned above? Let us know in the comments section.

Anthony Coyle
I write about anything and everything that catches my fancy, but mostly I try to provide the answers to the questions our readers ask every day. I'm also the guy who's always glued to an LCD screen of some sort.


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