Now, one of the most popular games in the MOBA genre, Defense of the Ancients has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Starting off as a mod for Warcraft 3 named DotA All-stars, the long awaited sequel-slash-reboot DotA 2 went into beta in 2011 and was finally released two years later in July 2013. Produced by Valve, and available through the Steam platform, DotA 2 boasts being one of the only MOBAs that's truly free-to-play, with none of the heroes or regular game modes costing a dime. With its main competitor being the famed League of Legends, DotA 2 sells itself as the choice for veterans of the original DotA, as well as being a game for those who are looking for a savage learning curve, or 'challenge'.
Even as a DotA player myself, I know that sometimes you get tired of the same thing every day, or perhaps that one terrible game pushes you over the edge and you fancy trying something new for a little. For those of you who feel the same way, or are even completely new to the world of MOBAs, we've put together a list of some of the most popular DotA alternatives for you to have a look at. So without further ado, let's have a look at today's offerings!
Similar Games to DotA 2
1. League of Legends
- System/Platform: PC
- Publisher: Riot Games
- Developer: Riot Games
- Release Date: Oct. 27, 2011
Currently sitting at the top of the MOBA genre in terms of popularity, League of Legends reached over 100 million monthly players during its peak, and although its position has recently been challenged by the arrival of Blizzard's FPS Overwatch, it remains one of the top multiplayer online games. Utilizing a free-to-play plus cash shop model, LoL has always been accessible to be newcomers, whilst rewarding players for their time spent in the game with the opportunity to buy more champions or skins. The game's overall accessibility is one of the major reasons why it's reached such absurd levels of popularity, with it having a much smoother learning curve compared to DotA 2's brutal uphill climb for new players.
Much of what makes LoL's learning curve smoother, is also what makes it heavily different to DotA 2. For example, creep denying mechanics have been left out completely, making early game LANing a very different experience. Items don't tend to have 'on use' abilities, their purpose being, largely, to provide stats and passive effects to boost your champion's overall effectiveness. But while the skill floor may be low, the skill ceiling remains very high, with LoL having considerably more 'skill-shot' abilities than DotA 2, and much shorter, more face paced games. Overall the League of Legends appeals to a different kind of gamer but, nonetheless, is worth giving a try.
2. Heroes of the Storm
- System/Platform: PC
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release Date: Jun. 2, 2015
Blizzard's entry to the MOBA genre, Heroes of the Storm features an array of characters from their various franchises, draw together to fight it out in the arena. Available to download from their Battle.net client, the game is free-to-play, with in-game purchases allowing you to unlock more characters and skins. Designed to cater to a more casual player-base, Heroes of the Storm does away with the more complex parts of MOBAs, such as last hitting and items, to focus more on the fighting itself, whilst also lowering the harsh learning curve that many games in the genre have.
With a focus on action, HotS aims to get you from one fight to the next as soon as possible, and so features colourful mounts for players to get around the map faster. In the same vein, maps have objectives besides destroying the enemy's Ancient, which encourages you to leave your cosy lane and contest the enemy team for bonuses spread around the map. Like LoL, games are generally shorter in HotS than in DotA 2 as well, with the target market being the more casual gamer as mentioned before. So if you aren't a big fan of the fiddly parts of DotA and just want to get right to ganking, take a look at Heroes of the Storm.
3. Heroes of Newerth
- System/Platform: PC
- Publisher: S2 Games
- Developer: S2 Games
- Release Date: May 12, 2010
Made very much in the image of the original Defense of the Ancients, Heroes of Newerth is perhaps the most similar game to DotA 2 and was popular among Defense of the Ancients players prior to the release of the sequel. The game features heroes based heavily on the DotA roster with a decent number of original heroes thrown in, such as Intellect carry Puppet Master and Agility semi-carry Silhouette. Despite starting off as what was basically a DotA clone, HoN has received a large number of updates over the years that make it now a unique game in its own right, even if the two retain similarities.
Looking more closely at the differences between the two, apart from the obvious hero changes and additions, there is a heap of minor and quality of life changes as well. For example, everyone in HoN gets their own private courier for delivering items across the map, and many stat and damage values are tweaked such that the game is balanced in a slightly different way. One thing to know about HoN is that it often gets a lot of flak for its elitist community, even by MOBA standards, so if you're a more casual gamer, you have been warned! But if you want a break from DotA 2 and don't want to leave your comfort zone too much, Heroes of Newerth could be a good choice.
Any Games Like DotA 2 ?
- System/Platform: XB1, PS4, PC
- Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios
- Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
- Release Date: Aug. 19, 2015
And now for something completely different (well largely different!) Smite made waves with its 3rd person approach to MOBAs, something which, as it turns out, actually works really well. The third-person perspective means you'll have to learn how to aim spells and abilities all over again but makes for some intense battles, with a very different feel to what most over MOBAs have to offer.
Smite offers several different game modes besides regular matchmaking, along with multiple maps, and a Match of the Day mode which provides a new challenge every day to mix things up. Another major difference with Smite is the setting which, rather than a generic fantasy world, is based on Gods from a variety of pantheons such as Greek and Egyptian. Currently Smite works on a free weekly God rotation system similar to many other MOBAs, with Gods being unlocked for permanent use via real or in-game currency. Quite a step away from the traditional MOBA, if you're looking for a big change why not give Smite a go.
- System/Platform: PC, PS4
- Publisher: Epic Games
- Developer: Epic Games
- Release Date: Mar. 14, 2016
Following the success of Smite, we've actually seen more third-person MOBAs being developed, one of which is the, currently in beta testing, Paragon. Developed by Epic Games, Paragon is probably the prettiest MOBA currently available, with it being powered by Unreal Engine 4 and having a more realistic visual than most. Paragon sticks to traditional 5v5 gameplay with three lanes, defended by towers, protecting a 'core'. Where it differs from other MOBAs, apart from of course the third person perspective, is in the use of a card system to choose your skills and abilities within the game.
Cards are gained from card packs, which you purchase using in-game currency, and can grant either general bonuses or hero based bonuses, potentially allowing for an unrivalled amount of customisation. One more interesting point about Paragon is that it's available on both PC and PS4, and will feature cross platform play so that you can have an easier time playing with your friends (unless they have an Xbox or Switch of course). With limits on what one can do with a controller compared to a mouse and keyboard, strategy games, in particular, are a rare sight on consoles, but Epic Games seem to be really pushing ahead with this one so we'll assume they know what they're doing. If some next gen fun is what you're after, then look no further than Paragon.
- System/Platform: Android/iOS
- Publisher: Super Evil Megacorp
- Developer: Super Evil Megacorp
- Release Date: Nov. 16, 2014 (iOS), Jul. 2, 2015 (Android)
A perhaps more casual alternative for MOBA gamers looking to relax or who's on the road, Vainglory incorporates much of what we'd all consider a standard MOBA game to be a smaller, more mobile package. Along with the rise of the MOBA genre, developers were quick to try and adapt such games for smartphones and tablet devices, and Vainglory is one of the best examples of just how successful such efforts can be. Utilizing entirely touch based controls, players can battle, strategise, and work together as a team to crush their enemies, just as you'd expect to in DotA.
Though the experience is designed to be roughly the same, Vainglory is simpler than many other MOBAs for the simple reason of making matches shorter. The map features a single lane, with towers defending both ends, and a Vain Crystal in each team's base which must be destroyed in order to win the match. There's also a small jungle below the lane with additional objectives and neutral creeps. Currently, both standard and additional game modes are all 3v3, but a new, larger 5v5 map is currently under development for more serious gamers looking to take their vanity to the next level. So if you're looking for a simpler MOBA to enjoy while on the train or lying on the sofa, take a look at Vainglory.
There are a huge number of excellent MOBA games now on the market, and while it can mean you have to try out a fair few of them first, you're very likely to find one that hits the sweet spot for you eventually. While I can't see myself leaving DotA 2 anytime soon, newer games like Paragon and Battlerite are looking polished enough to be worth a gander, and classics like League of Legends will likely be around for some time to come for those who can't tear themselves away.
So what MOBAs are you playing, or have you played? Any interesting (or toxic) experiences you'd like to share? We're all ears, so be sure to leave us a comment below!