Dota 2 vs League of Legends (LoL)
Dota 2 or League of Legends?
That's the big question that every MOBA/ARTS enthusiast loves to argue over. In this page, I will dissect the different mechanics that define the solid gameplay each game offers. Although they share the same genre, once we start to the look at the finer details, we can see that these two are completely different games.
What you need to know about me before you read: I've played DotA for more than 6 years (on and off), League of Legends for 2 years since the beta, Heroes of Newerth for 1 year, and Dota 2 for almost 2 years. I am currently only playing LoL and Dota 2..
History of MOBAs
So I guess I'll start off small with the comparisons.
Both the Dota 2 and LoL map share the basic principles of a MOBA map, that is, 3 lanes consisting of top, middle and bottom. The jungle (although quite different in both games) can also be utilized in play.
The two sides lanes in Dota 2 do not share the same length, bottom (top for Dire) is closer to the base and tower, while top (bottom for Dire) further away from both base and tower. While in LoL, the lanes are equal in length. An advantage is that it creates a mutual balance to the laning phase. In LoL, you know your opponent has no advantage just because he/she is in a certain lane. This means whoever makes the bigger plays will win the lane. Although some may say this is the same case for Dota 2, I feel as though it isn't at the at the level League of Legends is. However, Dota 2's lanes creates complexity and flexibility on lineups. Rarely will you see the same lineup of lanes in matches in Dota 2.
Both games share the same mechanic of fog of war. To the addition of this, League has brushes which allows players to manipulate vision to their advantage. In Dota 2, there is the mechanic of high ground, which provides players with more vision if they are on higher ground. Dota 2 also has environmental intractability. Trees can be destroyed to provide greater vision or be manipulated to hide from (juke) enemy players. On top of this, Dota 2 also has the mechanic of day and night cycle, which limits the vision during the night.
In League of Legends, champions will always have 1 passive and 4 active (sometimes with passive components) abilities with an additional 2 summoner spells. This consistency does not exist in Dota 2. Heroes only have 4 abilities that vary from active and passive.
Having had experience from both games, I have noticed the early game/laning stage is much more exciting in LoL because there is simply MORE to do. Because there are so many active abilities with low mana costs, the early laning stage is a lot more fun. But because of this, LoL players need to be fast with their abilities to be skillful. While in Dota 2, timing and positioning with abilities (which comes from knowledge) is key to being a great Dota player.
Champions in LoL are much more balanced. This is a fact. Anyone that has had the slightest experience in both game will tell you that. But what Dota 2 offers is balance towards competitive play. This means you can't expect to pick a hero to counter another certain hero, but rather, have a team build a strategy around it. This is one of the many reason why Dota 2 offers more complexity. There is simply more room for bold and surprising team tactics to still be viable.
In terms of the competitive aspect, and to my surprise, hero/champion roles and farm priorities are quite similar. Top for instance, in LoL, would be the team's tank or bruiser (or assassin that is able to sustain, has an escape, or has both). In terms of Dota 2, this would be the 3- the offlaner.
Now, in terms of the availability of heroes/champions, we all know which one is better. Free vs limited? I think we know the winner here. Though, some may argue that the constant grind is adds to the enjoyment. Well, to each their own.
League has a lot more to offer in their shop. And in my opinion, items are sorted lot better in the shop. Dota 2's shop can be very confusing to newer players. I find it quite unorganized and hard to find specific items because you can't sort by specific stat, only by specific category. For example, if I wanted items that provide Strength (for some extra HP), I can't do that in Dota 2.
Items in LoL add more to the game in terms of stats. I noticed items provide more stats such as damage, HP, etc. and are much cheaper. This creates a greater emphasis on the early stages of the game. There is also a lack of active components to items. In Dota 2, items provide less, but offer more. An item such as a blink dagger offers nothing in stats, but grants you the ability to blink (flash) a great distance.
Graphics and aesthetics
So I've searched far and wide for a reputable source of the engine of League of Legends. I have yet to find one. But from what I've seen, LoL's engine is underestimated. Some of League's newer champs and skins have a lot of detail in them. But I feel as though some of their older champs and map terrain (trees, brush, etc) needs a polish.
Dota 2 runs on the Valve developed Source engine (Team Fortress 2, Titan Fall), so we know what the game can offer graphically and the limitations. But because we don't know what engine LoL runs on, we can't compare the two.
Technically speaking, both games graphics CAN be on the same level as each other. But as of now, Valve's level of polish in each hero (low health walking animations, voice lines between enemy and ally heroes, cosmetics for different part of the hero) and overall graphics is by far superior to Riot's level of design. Even comparing minions/creeps we can see the different levels of graphics each game offers.
And so it should be. League of Legends is almost 4 years old! So I suspect Riot to have a major graphical update (such is what Heroes of Newerth did with HoN 2.0 and 3.0) up their sleeves.
Example Dota 2 clip made using the Source engine
Store and cosmetics
In my opinion, Dota 2's store offers more in quantity and quality. There is so much more room for customization, such as custom HUDs, announcers, cosmetic parts. There is also a community workshop which allows players to create their own cosmetics and have it be approved by Valve to be sold in Dota 2 store. Players will also receive 70% of the earnings.
What LoL offers, is an MMO feel to the game. Aspects outside of the game such as masteries, runes, and a summer level system creates this MMO feel which a lot of players (such as myself) find, to some extent, addicting.
Apart from this, the LoL skin store can be very misleading. Skins in League are displayed as artwork and don't represent what it looks like in game.
Which do you prefer?
Which is better?
Dota 2 is simply more complex. It has more layers of gameplay than LoL does, and as such is demonstrably and objectively a more complicated game.
If you took LoL, cloned it, and added creep deny to one version and left it like it is now for the other version, which would be more complicated? Obviously the one with creep deny.
But does this make it a better game? No. Yes it makes it a harder game, but the question is subjective to what YOU enjoy in a game. So play the game YOU enjoy and ignore what everyone else thinks.