Rahul is a video game addict who can't get enough of Battle Royales. You can find him skulking around in PUBG or Fornite.
League of Legends—Still Going Strong
Multiplayer online battle arena games usually catch traction from their launch day, with games like Dota and League of Legends breaking all sorts of records. League of Legends is the leader of the pack when it comes to MOBAs. It has amassed a mammoth number of active players that continues to rise by the day. The game’s success can be attributed to several factors, such as the game’s accessibility to new players and appeal to both casual and competitive gamers.
Esports and competitive play were always major aspects of LoL since its release back in 2009. Unsurprisingly, League of Legends is still the face of esports, with online viewership and in-person attendance numbers that rival major real-life sporting events.
Despite the game’s tall-standing presence in the genre, there are other MOBAs like LOL that continue to rival the titan. Several ambitious titles come with unique features and game mechanics to stand out among the torrent of MOBA games flooding the market.
In this list, you’ll find hand-picked titles that stand out from the rest. Let’s take a look.
Games Like League of Legends
- Dota 2
- Heroes of The Storm
- Heavy Metal Machines
- Heroes of Newerth
- Heroes Evolved
- Heroes of Order & Chaos
1. Dota 2
Initially a WarCraft III mod, Dota caught the eyes of many gamers for its innovative game mechanics and the mammoth potential on display, leading Valve to acquire the game title and release a sequel that took the gaming world by storm. Dota 2 has since reigned supreme in the MOBA scene alongside League of Legends.
Dota 2’s prized Esports tournament, The International, is one the most highly regarded Esports events in the industry. It pits the best Dota 2 players against each other annually, for a chance to win a monstrous cash prize. The International generates viewing figures that rival some of the world’s highest-profile events.
As the sequel to the first-ever MOBA game, Dota 2 sticks to the proven and tested formula of the genre. Players control their characters from a three-dimensional isometric perspective (top-down view). They are separated into two teams of five and pitted against each other on a map, with the sole objective of destroying the other team’s base while defending their own.
Dota 2 offers players a choice of over 100 playable characters, each with individual abilities and roles, such as support, jungler, initiator, durable, nuker, and so on. I’ll suggest trying a few characters before sticking to one.
You can also purchase items mid-game through gold gained from killing AI-controlled units. Use it to further customize your character’s abilities and stats, which adds an extra element of strategy.
Thanks to Valve’s constant updates and content injections alongside the active community, Dota 2 cements itself as one of the best games like League of Legends and carries the flame that was ignited by its predecessor with pride.
This free-to-play offering from Titan Forge Games adds a simple yet unique element to the MOBA genre—an element that saw Smite receive accolades and favorable reviews from critics. Smite sets itself apart straight away by deviating from the standard isometric perspective and migrating to a third-person perspective while retaining the core gameplay of the genre.
The game sticks to the formula of 5v5 matches on maps to promote a strategic approach. Aside from the standard Conquest 5v5 game mode, Smite offers several other game modes. In the game mode ‘Joust’, for instance, teams are limited to three players and only one lane. Clash mode, on the other hand, retains the standard 5v5 structure but with only two lanes. Combine these mods with a number of unique Gods to choose from and you have a recipe for some chaotic mayhem.
Esports-wise, Smite has its own annual World Championship and lucrative monetary prizes. Although, the game is not as popular in the Esports scene as it once was.
Despite the game’s free-to-play model, the developers deploy no predatory mechanics or pay-to-win mechanics. Instead, they make money through skins and visual customization items.
Are you new to MOBAs? Don’t fret. Smite is quite newbie-friendly, thanks to the in-depth tutorials and training modes. If you’re on the hunt for a League of Legends alternative, Smite is the game for you.
3. Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard announced its entry to the MOBA scene with the release of Heroes of the Storm in 2015. In order to set themselves apart from the competition, Blizzard took assets and characters from some of their most successful intellectual properties and implemented them into Heroes of the Storm. Various characters from games like WarCraft, Diablo, StarCraft, and Overwatch made an appearance while many of the assets from those games were used to create the maps and battlegrounds.
The gameplay is where Heroes of the Storm really shines. Two teams of five take on each other with the aim of destroying the other team’s base. Apart from that, there are several other game modes to keep you engaged for a long time, including mixes of game modes from other MOBAs and real-time strategy games.
Many of these game modes further simplify the game mechanics, which, paired with the training, tutorial, and versus AI modes, deliver a newbie-friendly and easy-to-grasp gameplay without compromising the intricacies of the game.
Unfortunately, Heroes of the Storm disappoints with its pricing. The steeply-priced heroes deny many players the chance to play as their favorite characters. If you want to try out unique characters, shell out some bucks.
On top of that, Blizzard’s disregard for the Esports side of the game is deafening. Here is hoping that the recent acquisition of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft changes things.
All in all, Heroes of the Storm is a complete MOBA experience. If you don't care about esports and just want to have a good time, Heroes of the Storm will not disappoint.
Released in 2014, AirMech is a unique free-to-play MOBA game that creates a homogenous mix of real-time strategy and MOBA gameplay.
While players can place and build units in tactical formations, there is no way to control the units. Instead, they assume control of a giant robot that can be airborne or grounded. You build fortresses, outposts, and money-making units to generate credits, which can in turn be used to build new units.
Players get to choose between nine different AirMechs, each with individual abilities and stats that can be altered via pilots, items, and parts. However, each boost comes with some downsides, such as slower credit generation or unit caps, adding yet another variable to manage.
AirMech has no shortage of game mode either, with an assortment of 7 game modes, each offering a unique experience compared to the other. Thanks to these modes on offer, newcomers can try their hand at casual game modes, hone their skills, and get familiar with the game mechanics before embarking on competitive play.
Additionally, the game continues to receive regular updates and constant maintenance from the developers, which results in a timeless game.
As one of the first games to bring the MOBA genre to the mobile market, Vainglory received generally favorable reviews and was praised heavily for properly adapting to mobile platforms. It was so adored that the developers followed up with a PC and Mac release.
One of the major challenges of porting a handheld game to PC is the controls, but Vainglory nails that department, sporting smooth and intuitive controls. The core game mechanics are also altered, with typical 5v5 matches making way for faster-paced 3v3 battles.
However, Vainglory does not compromise on the core game mechanics. Teamwork and cooperation are still needed to deter your opponents’ offensive forays while squandering their defensive efforts.
Players have a vast roster of champions to choose from, each possessing unique abilities and skills, molded to fit specific roles and cater to every playing style. The stats and abilities can be further customized via the item system, allowing you to tinker with weapons, crystals, and utility items.
Despite Vainglory’s niche appeal and small fanbase, it's a highly competitive game that deserves your time. If you're looking for a lightweight premium game like League of Legends, Vainglory is the game for you.
6. Heavy Metal Machines
Like AirMech, Heavy Metal Machines is a free-to-play MOBA with several striking deviations from the traditional formula of the genre. For instance, there are no towers, lanes, or minions in the game. For the uninitiated, these elements were thought to be essential for a MOBA.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Heavy Metal Machines pits two teams of four heavy armored machines against each other. The goal is to deliver a bomb to the opposition’s base while preventing their team to do the same to your base.
Players have to maneuver their machines through a circuit-like arena with acute corners and many hazards. Undoubtedly, these maps are difficult to navigate for the first time. Thanks to polished mouse and keyboard controls, however, traversing the map soon becomes a fun exercise.
Over 15 pilots are on offer for the player to choose from, each pertaining to one of the three roles in the game: interceptor, support, and transporter. Choose the right pilot based on your playing style.
While Heavy Metal Machines doesn’t have an established Esports scene, it hosts a competitive tournament with a considerable monetary prize of €5,000 for the winners.
All in all, the fast, action-packed gameplay of Heavy Metal Machines makes for a highly enjoyable game.
Released in 2012, this 2D MOBA game veers away from the traditional isometric perspective we’ve come to expect from games of the genre. Instead, Awesomenauts strikes a close resemblance to 2D platformers and fighting games like Super Smash Bros.
Despite the game’s age, it still retains a lively player base and continues to attract newcomers, owing to the developers’ continued support of the game through updates and new content. Not to mention the game’s friendliness to newbies, thanks to the accessibility and streamlined nature of the MOBA elements of the game.
Two teams of three are pitted against each other on a long obstacle-filled platform with the common objective of destroying the opposing team’s base. Strewn all across the map are hazards like automatic drones and turrets. Steer Clear of them if you want to get to the enemy base.
Just like any other MOBA, there is a roster of unique characters to choose from. Of course, they differ vastly from each other, both visually and statistically. These characters can be further customized through solar units, acquired by eliminating enemy players and turrets.
The developers of Awesomenauts have done an excellent job of creating an original MOBA game that prides itself in its simplicity, compared to the usual esports-oriented MOBAs, without compromising the complexity and strategic aspect of MOBAs.
One downside to the game, however, is the lack of dedicated servers for online multiplayer. Instead, players have to host their own servers, which could not only prove unstable but also insecure.
In conclusion, Awesomenauts is a player-friendly twist on MOBA games with heaps of value on offer.
Sporting impressive visuals, thanks to CryEngine 3, Panzar is a third-person MOBA like League of Legends, ditching the usual isometric perspective in favor of something new and refreshing.
Panzer can be described as a quirky mash-up of MMO and MOBA genres, offering team-based game modes like Domination, King of the Hill, Siege in order to accommodate your preference. Apart from the variety in game modes, the race and class-based characters ensure that the gameplay will always be a chaotic delight. Of course, it means that you’ll have to spend some time with these classes and races to find out what you like, but it’s well worth it.
Unfortunately, this free-to-play game is PC exclusive as of the time of writing with no plans for a console or mobile port. If you’re looking for a game like League of Legends, Panzer should be right up your alley.
9. Heroes of Newerth
Inspired by the original Dota mod for WarCraft III, Heroes of Newerth’s release in 2010 was met with universal praise from critics and gamers alike.
Heroes of Newerth pits two teams of five against each other on a multi-lane map with the common objective of destroying the other team’s base through the use of tactics and team coordination. In comparison to League of Legends, this MOBA feels more seamless and better-paced, adding to more engaging gameplay.
Players take command of one of over 100 heroes, each with varying characteristics and roles. It’s paramount to a team’s success that they coordinate their choice of heroes before getting into a session. Communication is the key here.
Retaining newcomers is of the utmost priority for MOBA games, and Heroes of Newerth nails it to a tee, thanks to the abundance of casual and custom game modes that allow new players to practice against the AI and hone their skills before embarking on any competitive gameplay. In addition, digestible in-game tutorial videos help teach newcomers the intricate mechanics of the game.
Heroes of Newerth enjoys a lively community, a dedicated player base, and ample attention from the developers who continue to release new content and updates that keep the game fresh and exciting to play.
In short, Heroes of Newerth is an ideal alternative to League of Legends, offering a distinct experience without deviating too much from the traditional formula.
10. Heroes Evolved
Heroes Evolved has amassed striking popularity following its release on mobile, after falling short of success on the oversaturated PC market. What started off as a lightweight MOBA experience on desktop, ended up cementing itself as one of the leading MOBA games on mobile devices.
Heroes Evolved takes great inspiration for League of Legends, be it the aesthetics or the game mechanics. Just like LOL, for instance, two teams of five unique player-chosen heroes are pitted against each other on a three-lane map.
Despite the game’s scaled-back depth, Heroes Evolved still sports most of the traditional MOBA systems like versus AI game modes, the polished ranking system, achievements, custom nameplates, and the glyph system.
Unfortunately, certain elements seem to be blatantly copied from other games, which speak volumes of the developers’ work ethic and creativity. Not to mention the pay-to-win aspects of the game and the overpowered heroes, which often spoil the experience.
To conclude, Heroes Evolved is a decent alternative to League of Legends for players seeking a handheld MOBA experience. Though an otherwise pleasant experience is often marred by its shortcomings.
11. Heroes of Order & Chaos
As one of the first games to bring the MOBA genre to the mobile platform, Heroes of Order & Chaos unsurprisingly makes this list.
The game attempts to simplify traditional MOBA elements while including as many features as possible without compromising on the overall complexity and competitiveness of the genre. You can expect the same 5v5 gameplay present in other MOBAs. Alternatively, you can play the 3v3 game modes.
Tailored towards both casual and competitive gamers, Heroes of Order & Chaos can be played online as well as offline. Players have a choice of over 30 playable heroes with differing stats and abilities. Unfortunately, however, an overwhelming number of heroes are locked behind a paywall—a deterrent for many players. If you don't want to shell out any cash, you'll be limited to a very tiny selection of pre-bundled heroes. Additionally, the featureful nature of the game means that the controls interface is quite congested and takes some getting used to.
Nevertheless, Heroes of Order & Chaos still enjoys a considerable number of concurrent players, thanks to the constant maintenance and updates.
In essence, Heroes of Order & Chaos provides an excellent MOBA experience on mobile devices. Even if you're someone who doesn't like mobile games, this MOBA might sway your opinion.
Did I miss out on any other LOL alternatives? let me know in the comments section and I will be sure to take a look.
© 2022 Rahul Pandey