Rahul is a video game addict who can't get enough of Battle Royales. You can find him skulking around in PUBG or Fornite.
Dota—A MOBA Giant
In 2003, Valve announced their entry into the MOBA scene after acquiring the rights to Defence of the Ancients, a community-made mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Valve then released several new entries to the Dota series, the most recent of which was Dota Underlords.
Despite that, Dota 2, released in 2013, still maintains the highest status amongst Dota games. The game boasts an active player base and a prestigious esports scene that rivals that of League of Legends.
The game pits two teams of five against each other in an open arena, where each team’s objective is to destroy the other team’s ‘Ancient’—a large structure at the base of each team. Players get to choose from a multitude of heroes, each with special abilities and traits that cater to every playing style. With a heavy focus on strategy and teamwork, diversity in the team is often a prerequisite to dominating the opposition.
Thanks to Valve’s continuous maintenance and updates, the game continues to garner praise from critics and players alike. Some players, however, find the game to be repetitive and the community around it to be somewhat toxic. For that, I’ve put together a list of games like Dota to scratch your itch for a good MOBA.
Games Like Dota
- League of Legends
- Heroes of the Storm
- Arena of Glory
- Heroes Evolved
- Heroes of Newerth
- Heroes Arena
- Heavy Metal Machines
1. League of Legends
If Warcraft and Dota are the godfathers of MOBAs, League of Legends is the more successful godson. Growing at a rapid rate since its release in 2009, it effortlessly toppled Dota in player count and popularity and cemented itself as the leading MOBA game, both casually and at a professional level.
The numbers LoL’s Esports scene generates, rival and often trump those of every other game, all thanks to its immense popularity. This is due to the game’s simple yet deep approach to MOBAs, offering a fairly newbie-friendly environment that rapidly progresses and gets more intricate as the player becomes more acquainted with the game.
Much like Dota, you choose a champion out of over 100 available picks at the start of every game, possessing different traits and roles that aid you in your objective. You can further adjust your champion’s abilities via pre-game purchasable items, allowing for further personalization based on your playing style.
League of Legends’ competitive mode is in tune with other MOBAs, with each team attempting to destroy the opposition’s base whilst defending their own. Where LoL differs from the rest, is in its more casual game modes ranging from co-op vs AI to the 1v1 mode, all set on a different map.
Thanks to the game’s simplistic look and highly tweakable graphical settings, League of Legends runs like charm on older hardware and doesn’t require you to break the bank on a new gaming rig. One gripe you might have with the game is the slightly toxic community that might get in the way of enjoyment.
All in all, I think League of Legends is a worthy replacement to Dota if you haven’t played it already.
Touted as a potential competitor to League of Legends and Dota 2, Smite drew a lot of hype from critics and gamers alike upon its announcement and gameplay reveal.
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Unlike most of the MOBAs, Smite ditched the isometric POV, adopting a third-person perspective, without straying from the formula that made the game genre so popular. The new style combined with action-heavy gameplay makes for some chaotically fun affair.
Players assume control of gods from various mythologies, each with distinct perks and abilities. And much like LoL, Smite allows players to further improve their god’s stats via items and potions, available at the start of every game. However, the game fails to strike the right balance between gods, leading to overpowered and overused gods.
Smite also boasts some unique game modes like ‘Mode of The Day’, which changes to a variant of other game modes on a daily basis. ‘Adventures’ was another one of the modes I found intriguing—an amalgamation of limited-time game modes, including ‘Nike's Valley of Victory’, ‘Apollo's Racer Rumble’, and ‘Trials of King Hercules’. Try them out and see if they fit your playing style.
Additionally, the developers have ensured a steady flow of updates and new content added to the game, with the hopes of keeping the game fresh and fun to play. They’ve also added cross-play, meaning that you can party up with your friends, regardless of their platform of choice.
With the game’s enjoyability and friendliness to newcomers, you would be remiss not to give it a try.
3. Heroes of the Storm
Developed by Blizzard, the same people behind World of Warcraft and Diablo, Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s attempt at taking a unique approach to MOBAs and trying to stand out amongst the rest of the games in the genre.
The differences between Heroes of the Storm and Dota are immediate, with a set of playable characters, taken from Blizzard’s other intellectual properties such as Diablo from the game Diablo, Sylvanas and Illidan Stormrage from World of Warcraft, Raynor from Starcraft and many others, essentially creating their own universe of characters. This kind of lore expansion adds a particular intrigue to the game, especially for the fans of Blizzard’s other offerings.
Gameplay-wise, Heroes of the Storm deviates from the standard map design and game sense. Each team is required to finish a set of objectives that lead to a more varied experience and more action-packed gameplay across its 7 maps available to players, each with different metas and strategies. The lack of individual player levels is another distinct feature, allowing everyone in the team to level up at once, as a group.
The only two peeving factors about Blizzard’s offering are the shortage of playable characters out-of-the-box, meaning that players will have to shell out considerable amounts of money for their favorite characters, and the scaled-back development. Here is hoping that Blizzard is listening.
In essence, Heroes of the Storm is a great choice for people looking to experience something new without deviating too much from the tried and tested formula of the genre.
Vainglory brings a mobile-first approach to the genre, similar to Dota Underlords. Despite that, the game is as full-fledged and featureful as regular MOBA titles, thanks to its perfect controls and polished look.
Since the game was initially developed with mobile devices in mind, the matches are shorter and more fast-paced when compared to other MOBAs. Still, Vainglory emphasizes the need for strategy, teamwork, and good use of items and abilities, so as to not fall prey to your opposition’s tactics.
Vainglory offers plenty of game modes, each with a 3v3 variant as opposed to the standard 5v5. Additionally, Vainglory sustains a variety in its matches thanks to the objective-based gameplay and wide range of champions to choose from, each with their respective abilities, roles, and customizable skills via the item system which consists of weapons, crystals, and utility items.
Despite the mobile origins and targeted audience, Vainglory ticks all the boxes and delivers a highly regarded MOBA title with near-identical game sense to Dota and other games of the genre. Cross-play is also a welcomed addition, allowing you to play with your friends on mac OS, PC, and mobile.
I highly recommend Vainglory, as it’s a lightweight, fun to play, and player-friendly game that rivals some of the genre’s best-performing titles.
5. Arena of Glory
As far as handheld MOBA games go, Arena of Valor is one of the best out there, only rivaled by Vainglory. It offers the best handheld experience on both mobile devices and Nintendo Switch, easily trumping Dota’s mobile counterpart, Dota Underlords.
The game sports the usual structure and game sense with simple map designs, reminiscent of the original MOBA games such as StarCraft. It also features a number of game modes, including, but not limited to, 3v3 for shorter and more fast-paced matches and 1v1 for practice and warm-up.
Much like the rest of the games on this list, Arena of Valor offers plenty of choices in terms of heroes, offering over 40 of them with each being part of one of 6 classes.
Gameplay is seamless and intuitive, thanks to the well-optimized controls, made especially for touch screens and handheld devices.
Surprisingly, the Arena of Valor enjoys a lucrative Esports scene with several high-status events and leagues, mainly due to the game’s obscene popularity in Asia as well as the continuous development and addition of new content on a regular basis, effectively maintaining the game’s fresh feel.
In short, the game is a great alternative for Dota players and more so for people either ditching PC gaming as a whole or getting tired of slower-paced games like Dota.
6. Heores Evolved
Heroes Evolved finds itself in an odd position amongst MOBA games. Initially released as a lightweight alternative to League of Legends, the game barely caught any traction, which led to its subsequent shutdown. It was then ported over to the mobile market where it garnered huge popularity and thrived massively.
The game is clearly inspired by LoL, perhaps suspiciously similar to the latter. Your task is to work within a team of five, each wielding different skills and abilities, thanks to the 50+ characters available to choose from.
Matches take place on one of two available maps, both extremely reminiscent of LoL’s map design. However, the latter employs the typical 3-lane design, whilst the former features a more unorthodox single-lane design and removes the hero selection in favor of a random assignment of Heroes, making for more diverse and action-packed gameplay.
Despite the game’s relative simplicity and slimmed-down gameplay, it boasts some unique features like the glyph system that sets it apart from the peck.
The simplicity of the game oozes into the stats and items with a rather simplified stats system and a much smaller set of items, opting to focus only on the agility, strength, and intelligence stats.
While Heroes Evolved gets the basics right, it takes a number of shortcuts to get there. Some elements in this game, for instance, feel blatantly copied from other MOBAs, many of which are pay-to-win. On top of that, the unbalance among heroes leaves a lot to be desired.
In summary, Heroes Evolved is a decent lightweight alternative to Dota that despite its small size and shortcomings, manages to deliver a somewhat unique experience to the palm of your hand.
7. Heroes of Newerth
As the spawn of the original Dota mod for Warcraft III, Heroes of Newerth had to make this list.
The game’s appeal is in its strategy and tactics-focused gameplay with a substantial emphasis on teamwork, driven massively by the polished and highly praised voice chat system. The pacing of the game also gets quite a lot of praise from critics and gamers, offering action-packed and fast-paced matches without compromising on the intricacies of the game mechanics or the strategy required to play the game.
The game offers over 100 playable heroes, all equipped with character-defining attributes designated to suit your playing style. As a team, it’s in your best interest to opt for a balanced selection of heroes for a better chance of winning.
Being newbie-friendly goes a long way in trying to retain newcomers, and Heroes of Newerth executes it perfectly. A wide selection of casual and vs AI maps allows new players to hone their skills, whilst in-game tutorial videos give them an insight into the inner workings of the game’s mechanics.
This free-to-play game received critical acclaim from gamers upon its release and even beat Dota to win the PAX East 2013 Best MOBA award. That initial attention subsequently led to a lively Esports scene with many big-name onboard. However, that quickly trickled down as the game’s appeal continued to evaporate. The community took a rather big hit as well, transitioning from a fairly active player base to a mere shadow of its former self.
Overall, it’s a great alternative to Dota, considering the similarities between the two and the ease of adapting to the game, especially for Dota players. The developers maintain a consistent rate of new updates and add new content to the game, keeping it fresh and enjoyable to play.
8. Heroes Arena
Heroes Arena is another mobile MOBA game, albeit with an interesting twist. The game boasts a play-to-earn model, powered by the game’s very own whitepaper and Dota-inspired blockchain metaverse. This concept brought much attention to the game, as it was one-of-its-kind at the time.
The typical mobile game modes expectedly make an appearance in Heroes Arena, with a more orthodox 5v5 mode and a further 3v3 and 1v1 modes targeted towards more casual gamers, allowing for faster-paced gameplay with little to no emphasis on strategy.
Players are offered a choice of over 20 heroes out of 6 classes with unique abilities and roles, attributing more importance to the player’s choice of character. Though some players find the number of heroes a tad underwhelming in comparison to the industry standard.
Customization options come in the form of NFTs collected by playing the game. The emphasis on the play-to-earn model takes form in dedicated features, such as daily token rewards, the ability to earn money whilst AFK, the ability to rent items for short periods before committing to the purchase, and finally, a PvP mode where each team puts money on the line.
All things considered, Heroes Arena is an ambitious game with good depth and plenty of value. Albeit, the infusion of NFTs might deter certain people from playing it.
Good console MOBA games are far and few between, but AirMech attempts to make the most out of the limited controls without compromising heavily on the complexity of the game or the grand appeal of the genre.
The game promotes tactical approaches, emphasizing the use of strategy and teamwork. Players assume control of a robot that can shift between an airborne and a grounded unit, which adds unique tactics and possibilities. AirMech also allows players to build and move their own units, adding further complexity to the strategy.
Players are offered a choice of multiple pilots and AirMechs with different stats and abilities. Astute management of the polished credits and power system is essential—something that will pay dividends to you and your teammates’ efforts. The goal is simple—the reach team has to destroy the opposition’s base whilst defending their own.
Other game modes, however, such as capture the flag, survival, and challenge modes provide an experience that is unique to AirMech. They range from co-op vs AI mode to versus mode to solo mode, where the players can hone their skill without running the risk of demoting their rank. Other competitive PVP modes give AirMech a more varied feel, especially when you bundle these modes with a substantial selection of maps to choose from.
Overall, AirMech is a viable option for people looking to shift from Dota’s gameplay, especially so for console players.
The Starcraft series took the rather primitive online gaming scene of 1998 by storm with its first release and was the spawn and inspiration of many modern-day real-time strategy MOBAs. So, it’s no wonder that Blizzard’s latest standalone addition into the series finds its way onto this list.
Starcraft II was received extremely well by critics and gamers as it adequately lived up to its potential and the legacy set by its predecessor. Certain drawbacks and game-breaking bugs were quickly dealt with by the developers who, to this day, release consistent updates and maintain a frequent and healthy injection of new content.
Esports quickly caught traction with Starcraft II with several pro leagues launched and preserved, with lucrative monetary prizes. The liveliness of the game’s Esports scene looked to be dying out at certain points but thanks to Blizzard’s constant updates, it continues to thrive.
Unlike most games on this list, Starcraft II features a well-written campaign mode that takes place four years after StarCraft: Brood War. Gameplay-wise, Starcraft II adopts the same mechanics as its predecessors, albeit with much-improved visuals and controls. A top-down perspective allows you to come up with intricate strategies to defeat your opposition, be it the campaign AI, or online rivals.
The game offers new features and improves on some pre-existent ones. The addition of a map editor, for instance, allows you to create your own maps and share them with the community, with full support for third-party assets and pre-available assets from previous Starcraft games.
However, the game faced many criticisms for removing certain features, such as LAN play, opting to focus solely on online play through Blizzard’s dedicated servers.
Essentially, it’s a true break away from the genre whilst still maintaining that same feel and look of games like Dota.
11. Heavy Metal Machines
Touted as “more than a MOBA”, Heavy Metal Machines aims to deliver a unique experience and set itself apart from the rest of the MOBA games.
The gameplay resembles other MOBAs while being vastly different in its own right. 8 players (4 each) are pitted against each other with the objective of delivering a bomb to the opposition’s base through the tight and windy race track.
The cars and heavy machines (who’d have thought) replace the usual playable characters present in other MOBAs. You are presented with a wide selection of pilots and machines, each with unique weapons that come with abilities, such as restricting your enemy’s movement or dealing damage to them. Depending on your playing style and perceived role, you’ll have to choose your machine wisely.
Alongside the normal game modes, you’ll find casual and vs AI modes that cater to newcomers or players looking to warm up before a competitive game. For a ‘driving’ game controlled by a mouse and keyboard, you’d think the controls would be somewhat unintuitive. Quite the opposite though, as Heavy Metal Machines comes with a polished and seamless controls system that’s very easy to get the hang of.
Give this free-to-play MOBA a shot.
Did I miss out on any other games like Dota? Let me know in the comments section.
© 2022 Rahul Pandey