As many are finding out, the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) gaming genre is growing in popularity as time goes on, which in conjunction with this, means more and more games are appearing on shelves flaunting the goods to get us to either pick up the genre or swap over existing players to their game. When the term first came about from the Starcraft map AoS (Aeon of Strife), it spawned two main contenders which are still going strong to this day, which is DOTA and LoL (League of Legends). So with these two battling it out, in sneaks HotS (Heroes of the Storm) from Blizzard. Note that for your game to be a fully classified MOBA, you need to abbreviate the title, and still maintain some sort of phrase. It’s MOBA law.
So I am here to discuss having played both free to play DotA and HotS (Free to play in inverted comma’s for HotS) a tad, is well, what one is best? Being the two closest in comparison (I.e both have sole objectives to take the enemies tower Vs multiple game modes i.e LoL).
To break this answer down is fairly easy to see one you look into the individual player wants and needs within such a game. They both as expected are similar in the terms game play in line with the MOBA format. There are two teams of 5 player controlled heroes (available from a vast selection), 3 main lanes (top, middle and bottom), a constant stream of enemies to have at each others walls, and a main base to which you must take down the main structure.
However, that’s where I would say the similarities end, and will split the player base that plays it as to their preference. To start with, DOTA has a single map and that’s all you’ll be playing time in, time out. This has allowed balancing ironed in with the years to back it up. For those who have a preference for a single map because they are used to it and thus would rather stick with it and play it each time because you know it best, means DOTA is more up your alley. The same AI positions, the same Roshan will be there every time you boot up to play. Which is fair enough to most, but this is where HotS comes in and (personally gets my preference). Each time you play HotS, you’ll most likely play a variance of the map (there’s 9 in total), each with it’s own theme and thus mini objectives to complete that will give you the edge in battle. For example, one MAP is the Battlefield of Eternity, which for those familiar with Diabalo will be impressed by. It consists of the two main forces of Heaven and Hell commencing eternal battle, where it is up to help assist your immortal in victory over the other. One point to HotS
Within both games, heroes have abilities and talents to which makes each character unique in their own way, and also sets them up for the role they have within the game. I.e a Nuke / Support. So no difference there I’m afraid, these abilities will of course simply be to suit your play style, and is advised to play those that you either want to master, or know the best. Going for the “who looks coolest” card is not going to get you further than dead unless you know how to play them.
In connection with the abilities/ talents, these can be improved/ new ones learnt as your character levels up within the game, this in game levels than reset with each new game. The vast difference here is that DotA goes by individual level basis. Meaning that if one player is doing very well, they will shoot up the levels, and can become substantially higher, thus stronger than the other players. This than brings in the role of carry i.e a player who carries their team to victory. On the reverse of this, if a member of your team is new or not so skilled, they can commit “feeding” to which causes much annoyance, and also the creation of many funny complaints.
This doesn’t happen as such in HotS, as the levels are done by the teams success, meaning you’ll likely only be a few levels ahead of the opposing team if it’s one sided, this stil gives a large advantage, but not as much as a single player taking out the entire opponents team, whilst they type in caps lock “OVERPOWERED &%!$”.
Unlike DotA, HotS has no items for your hero to purchase with the in game gold you’ve earned from your hard work killing enemies/ heroes/ towers etc. What this means is that IMO, HotS becomes a much simpler game, and less complicated to play. As the items within DotA can either make a hero great, or simply unstoppable. Quite a large difference. The items with DotA can either be actives. i.e to give you health, or to add stats to your character to improve their damage, mana regen etc. As your gain more gold, you can afford the higher tier items which have some very impressive abilities, and make a massive difference in hero performance. The lack of items in HotS is both a positive and a negative, but more so the later for me. I would of loved to of seen the incorporation of items to just add that character diversity within HotS.
As context to the similarities on the Hero front, DotA 2 (although made by Valve) has a blend of heroes that are similar to the World of Warcraft lore in terms of appearance and abilities. So you’ll find the likes of a werewolf and sprite, to a dragon transforming human and troll warlord. HotS on the other hand, contains actual heroes you will be familiar from within the Blizzard fantasy world. Where you are able to play as famous characters (you in fact may have always wanted to be) across their 3 Flagship games (Diablo, Starcraft and World of Warcraft). This is the likes of Diablo, Arthas and Raynor. Each games heroes are very distinct in terms of their skill set, and both have heroes that can be seen as easy to play for starters, to hard to play due to a wider in-game mechanic knowledge. The big difference one needs to note, and is probably down to Blizzard’s money hungry executives, is that whilst DOTA allows you full access to play all the heroes from the off, HotS only gives you a select bunch of heroes for free (which are on a timed rotation). Meaning you’ll only permanently have the heroes you want by either paying for them with in-game gold (which will take months and months to buy the majority), or by paying for them with real money. This to me is a real shame, as DOTA has it perfectly right by giving players the full access, but paying for costumes to differentiate themselves.
There are a lot more factors that could be gone into, but then we could still be here next year. So the final verdict has to come down to what you the player wants in the game. Do you want more maps for variety and a simpler game mechanics to get your head around? Or a single map, but the items within the game create the variety. Of course, with both games being free, it’s not like you have to play to play them to find out (cough *Blizzard *cough*).
For my two cents, having played DotA 2 first, and then HotS, my preference has turned to HotS recently (taking the money hungry executive emotional debate out of the question), because it gives each game that little spice of variety that I look for in a game. As opposed to rushing to play the same character, and rinse and repeat similar tactics game in, game out. Now if only Blizzard felt like being charitable and give heroes away for free…