There is a new gaming genre on the horizon, attempting to carve out a niche of its own. And when I say on the horizon, I mean now. What is a MOBA, you ask? Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, of course! If an RPG, a strategy game, and an action game all had a baby together, the result would be a MOBA. Impossible? I think not.
The heritage of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre may be traced to a game some of you might be familiar with…Defense of the Ancients! DotA, as the MOBA veterans fondly refer to it, started as a custom map for Warcraft III. With the release of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, DotA became one of the most popular custom games on Battle.net.
“I don’t have Battle.net and I don’t have Warcraft III…why are you telling me this?” Excellent news, friend! Currently, there are two more major players in the MOBA genre: Heroes of Newerth (HoN) and League of Legends (LoL). They have similar foundations: The player selects one from dozens of available heroes as their Champion. Two teams square off in a 5v5 or 3v3 matchup, starting in their respective bases on opposite sides of the map. Each base will periodically spawn waves of minions that travel down the open lanes in the map. Eventually, the minions (aka creep waves) collide and have cute minion skirmishes with each other.
This is where the player comes in; early on, the Champions will hide behind their respective creep waves while gaining valuable experience and gold. One critically important technique a beginner will struggle with is the ‘last hit’ concept. When a champion performs a killing blow on an opposing minion, additional gold is gained to purchase items from the shop. This involves a fair amount of clicking and button-pressing, so warm up your fingers and sharpen your motor skills before you begin!
Before you dive in, there is the issue of game availability. HoN recently went fully retail after several phases of closed and open beta; you will need to make a one-time payment of $30, but this gives you unlimited access to all current and future content. LoL relies on microtransactions to keep the revenue flowing; you can play for free, but you have to purchase ‘Riot Points’ to access character skins.
MOBAs are still in their infancy and will likely only grow in popularity. If you haven’t seized the opportunity to explore this new genre, I would highly recommend it! In the near future, I’ll help prepare you with more info about LoL and HoN specifically, since those two games are doing battle over the same customer. You!