MOBA’s explained (hopefully)



There has been a lot of talk on the site about “MOBAs”, however following a comment on a blog I realised that some people out there don’t really know what they are, particularly our more console gamer readers. So I figured I would take a stab at explaining them. MOBA means Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (yes I know that is bloody awful term), and while there are lots of them out there now (and more coming), they all have loosely the same basics, which stem from the original DOTA mod (see here for a bit more of the history).

So to explain how MOBA’s play, oh this is going to be tough. As you have probably guessed from the name, the game is played with 5 players on each side. And before going into each game, the players chooses a character from one of a selection. When the game starts the players avatars spawn in the opposite corners of a rectangular map. Next to the spawn point will be the opposing teams objective, an object to be destroyed. To win the imagesgame the team must destroy the enemy teams base object (LoL calls it a Rift, Dota an Ancient etc).

Each map has three paths, commonly known as lanes, which will have defensive towers (like towers in a RTS) dotted along, and in between the lanes is called the jungle. The jungle is used to cross between lanes and usually have neutral enemies in, that give buffs and money when they are killed. Also from each of the bases, AI controlled soldiers spawn and they walk down each of the lanes, colliding in the middle. These AI minions (often referred to as creeps), have a few functions. Players kill enemy creeps for money and xp, and they are used to destroy the towers, as towers will always hit creeps first, over players. The exception being if players are fighting under a tower.

As for your actual character, they have various abilities that they can use to attack creeps, towers and other players. Just like a rpg they gain experience and level up, each time either unlocking a new ability or improving an existing one. There are, as a rule, 4 abilities, with a possibly additional passive ability. The first three abilities can be any number of things, from buffs, heals, slows and bigger than normal attacks. These should be easy to understand by anyone who has ever played an rpg. The 4th ability is the ultimate ability. They have a long cooldown but far greater effects, such as an large area damage or temporary invulnerability. Ultimates, if used well, can be devastating in a player fight. As mentioned you get money for performing tasks in game, such as killing the enemy team. This money can be spent at the shop, usually at the spawn point, on items that make your character more powerful, giving you better stats, such as increased attack speed or more health.

images (1)And that’s about the basics, though there is a lot more nuance to it, such as which character counters which. Or map vision, as you can only see on the map what your side’s unit can see, unless you buy temporary vision items, called wards. So while I have explained the rough basics there is a lot more to know, regardless of which MOBA you choose to try.

This is the MOBA’s strength and weakness. The complexity they offer means that there is always something new to learn and each victory feels like an true achievement. The downside being that if 1 player in a team of 5 performs badly, then that will usually mean that side loses. And it is this that causes some players to become, well, assholes, hence the reputation that MOBA’s have. They are still worth preserving with, you will struggle to find a multi-player experience as satisfying as a decent MOBA. Oh also they are all free, so you try them and fine one you like.


Here are links to some MOBA’s to try, though there are even more coming from the likes of Blizzard.

Dota 2

League of Legends


Infinite Crisis


Twitter: @hangmansj0e

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