8 of the Best and Worst MOBA Games of 2019
Today I am going to be listing off the hottest and most popular MOBA games from 2019. Not only that, but I am going to be highlighting MOBAs that aren’t doing so great right now. This list isn’t in any particular order, and just because a MOBA isn’t listed as hot doesn’t mean it was bad, just that it is less popular. Well, let’s get to it!
1. "League of Legends": Hot
Developer: Riot Games
Release Date: 2009
We can’t talk about MOBA games without bringing up League of Legends (LoL). It is one of the many offspring of the Warcraft III mod Dota (not to be confused with Dota 2) and has successfully separated itself gameplay wise and thematically.
Ever since its initial release in 2009, this 5v5 battle arena has been one of the front runners, not just in MOBAs, but also in eSports.
Although it wasn’t the first, it has been one of the most lucrative and stable of all MOBAs for professional gamers. With over 1b in revenue yearly, LoL has quite the money to shell out. That’s why, unsurprisingly, the average salary of an LoL professional player is $320,000. On top of whatever they make from tournaments, which can have shockingly high prize pools.
As a spectator sport, it is rather entertaining to watch, even if you don’t fully understand what’s happening. If you’d like to see upcoming LoL games, check this page out.
In terms of gameplay, it is a rather standard MOBA. Boasting over 144 playable “champions” (don’t confuse this with heroes or risk being deemed a filthy casual) league has several roles for players to fill such as support, jungle, ADC, and mid. Each game takes about 30-60 minutes and, as with most MOBA’s, you will have a chance to pick and ban characters before hopping in the game.
Besides that, it is completely free to start. However, you will have to pay to unlock heroes with either in-game currency or your credit card.
What really makes it stand out from other MOBAs is how much work Riot Games has put into it. Not only do they consistently update LoL, but they also create engaging backstories and cinematics for those who care just as much about lore as they do the combat. Just take a look at this compilation and you’ll see just how much work goes into the game.
2. "Heroes of the Storm": Not Hot
Release Date: 2015
Oh boy. To say this game is not hot might be an understatement. I guess we can start with what this MOBA is.
Heroes of the Storm (HotS) is a unique take on the MOBA genre in which a lot of standard mechanics are either removed or changed.
Firstly, there is no currency in HotS and therefore there are no items. Secondly, because of the lack of items in the game, the most important resource is exp, which is shared across each player. Finally, each map has a mini-objective the players are incentivized to complete in order to take the enemies buildings quicker. For example, one map has you capture raven talismans in order to cause the enemies buildings and minions to stop attacking temporarily.
Now, the game still has a player base, albeit a very minuscule one at best. You can expect the game's population to become even more sparse after they announced the cancellation of the HotS pro scene and redistributing of developers to other projects.
Needless to say, if the game’s own developers are being relocated, many of the players will do the same. Quite a shame too, I enjoyed the simplicity and art style more than many other MOBAs.
3. "Dota 2": Hot
Release Date: 2013
Dota 2, or Defense of the Ancients 2, is one of, if not the largest MOBAs out there. Every year the game manages to smash esports records for prize pools and boasts an incredible number of monthly players.
One of the things that make Dota stand out from the other MOBAs on this list is how it changes over time. Every year, a couple of months after the International (Dota’s Superbowl), the developer adds new characters and changes mechanics for others, sometimes going so far to change how the game mechanics work in general. Add talents to heroes? Sure! Add random healing buildings throughout the map? Sure! Genderbend a character? Not yet….
Of course, all of this is only possible due in no small part to the Ice Frog aka Le Frozen Toad, aka the arbiter of our destiny, aka the developer. In what is likely the greatest mystery of all time, Ice Frog’s identity has remained a mystery throughout his reign as Toad king of Dota, or has he….
Besides all of that, one of the greatest things about Dota is the pro scene. Out of all the pro scenes out there (yes, even LoL, come fight me), Dota has to be one of the best. Featuring minor and major tournaments and a point system to determine who goes to the final and largest tournament of the year, the International. The International deserves its own article, especially considering it is THE esports event and has held the highest prize pools in the history of esports throughout its almost decade of existence.
Previously, many of the major tournaments were actually hosted by Valve, but sadly, Valve doesn’t like doing work so that ended after one year. There are, however, several Valve made documentaries covering some of the best moments from these events. Personally, my favorite is “Free to Play” which covers some of the legendary players from the early days of the pro scene, a must watch for anyone.
Interestingly, Dota was also the first game that I know of that popularized the battle pass, a now often used F2P monetization method. The community buys battle passes and contributes to prize pools, which is how the ridiculous amount of prize money at the International is possible.
Gameplay wise, Dota 2 is similar to both League of Legends and HON, since all of them are offshoots of the original Warcraft III mod, Dota. The reason that this specific game is Dota 2 and not the rest of them is because Valve hired the people who made the original and together they made Dota 2. Boom, history lesson.
Seriously, I can’t say all I want to say about Dota 2 here. It's a tremendous game and has kept my attention for nearly 10,000 hours. If I were to recommend any game on this list, it would be this one.
This game is free to play and can be downloaded on steam.
4. "Heroes of Newerth": Not Hot
Developer: S2 Games
Release Date: 2010
Oh Heroes of Newerth (HoN), the Dota that burned itself out.
HoN is one of the games that spawned from the Warcraft III mod, Dota. Similar to the other two, it is still around albeit in a much less comfortable position.
From what others are saying the player base of HoN is around 2-4k in the NA/EU regions while even less in many others.
Not only that, but the game stopped supporting Linux and mac altogether, further shrinking the already dwindling population.
Suffice to say the game isn't bad, or should I say, wasn't bad. In fact, many of the pro players in Dota 2 come from HoN, Fly, Notail, Moonmeander, PPD, etc. However, the game is far from where it started and is definitely not a player in the MOBA genre.
If you don't care about any of that you can download it here.
5. "Smite": Hot
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 2014
Ah yes, Smite. Can I call it the swiss army knife of MOBAs? Probably a bit better than calling it the MOBA with a DOGE. Very much wow.
Besides Smite being available on nearly every platform out there (VR doge would probably kill me) it also uses a unique camera angle than most MOBAs. Although this might seem inconsequential, it actually creates some interesting gameplay. This third-person camera perspective also shifts how you would normally bind your hotkeys, as you would be using WASD to move (and if you use WASD to move in any other MOBA I will hunt you down).
Other than that, the game plays out much like any traditional battle arena. 5v5, kill creeps, push towers, and take final objective to win.
In terms of lore, Smite draws its characters from mythology. You will find Zeus, Odin, Skadi (and her Doge?), Loki, Bacchus, and more, are all playable. So for all of you lovers of mythology, you have plenty of choices.
6. "Demigod": Not Hot
Developer: Wargaming Seattle
Release Date: 2009
Not a lot of people know about this classic MOBA. More or less it slips under peoples radar, despite it being one of the earlier MOBAs to come out and was a MOBA before the term MOBA was even coined.
Did it beat Dota to the punch? No. The original Warcraft III mod actually pre-dated Demigod.
In terms of gameplay, you will find a lot of similarity between Demigods and Dota. The Demigods are the hero units, the small minions are fodder, and even the objectives such as destroying the citadels mirrored Dota's ancient.
Sadly, for the people who created Demigod, putting a price tag on something that you could get for free (Dota) and the connection issues that plagued the game, ultimately led to its downfall.
Can you still play it? Yes. You can buy the game on steam here ($9.99), although the player base is nearly nonexistent.
7. "Arena of Valor": Hot
Platform: iOS, Android, Switch
Release Date: 2016
Some of you might not have even heard of this game, yet, it is referred to as the "world's most profitable game." Quite a moniker for a game that, until a month ago, I hadn't even heard of.
Regardless, to say Arena of Valor is popular would be an understatement. Before Fortnite became the Goliath that it is, this game was pulling in 200M active players monthly. Compare that to Dota, one of the most popular MOBAs out there, that has a meager 11M active players.
So what's the big deal? Why haven't you heard of it? Well, it all comes down to mobile players. I can hear you snort in disgust even while I'm writing this.
Despite how much PC players tend to rip on mobile games, this one is rather solid, which is likely why it has become so popular. I mean, how couldn't it be solid, it is essentially a mobile version of League of Legends.
In terms of gameplay, Arena of Valor plays nearly identical to LoL, and games last around 20 minutes. Honestly, that makes a lot of sense considering this is a mobile game.
Arena of Valor is free (surprise!) and you can download it on your mobile phone (iOS or Android), or your Switch here.
8. "Awesomenauts": Not Hot
Awesomenauts is a fun game. There I said it. Sadly, sometimes fun games just don't survive.
Awesomenauts is a 2-D MOBA that is available on a plethora of devices such as Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Wait a minute, go back a bit, did you just say 2-D MOBA? Yessir, I certainly did.
Basically, Awesomenauts manages to be a 2-D MOBA by embracing an interesting concept of layered lanes, aka top lane is literally on top of the other lanes. Another thing to consider is that the game is 3v3 rather than the ubiquitous 5v5 game modes. This makes for less hectic battles (although they are still quite interesting).
Although, as I said, to begin with, the uniqueness and entertainment provided by the game don't mean a thing when nobody is playing it. The game developers don't seem to market Awesomenauts and I believe most people learn of the game through word of mouth, rather than from any advertising strategy.
Players who have enjoyed the game have actually left their own suggestions on how to boost the player base.
Thanks for reading my MOBA list! If you feel I missed a MOBA, feel free to drop it in the comments and I'll gladly take a look. Cheers!
What Is Your Favorite Moba?
© 2019 Charles