Battle Arenas: League of Legends

By Cara Ellison on August 14th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

Cara returns with the second instalment of her guide to/dissection of the army of Dotalikes that have lately taken over PC gaming. This time, it’s League of Legends – and you should catch up on the last column, which covered DOTA itself, if you missed it. Both contain profanity and sexy-parts references, naturally.

“CARARARARARARA” the lone Skype message read. “I heard a rumour that you’re going to play LoL with us.”

I could almost hear the anticipation at our reunion vibrating down my wifi connection. It had been five years since me and Col last played Defense of the Ancients together.

“Yes,” I said, with a needlessly dramatic pause. “I AM BACK.”

Several League of Legends matches commenced, with me wildly proclaiming things like:

“WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS INVISIBLE BUSH STUFF”

“HOLY BALLS I CAN TELEPORT ALL THE TIME”

“I HAVE ACCIDENTALLY BOUGHT THE WRONG ITEM AGAIN HOW DO I GIVE IT BACK”

“THEY ARE NOT TAKING THIS ITEM BACK FOR THE SAME PRICE IT IS A RIPOFF WHAT THE HELL IS THIS”

And further to that effect. I hate jungling and I dislike fiddly heroes (my micro is the worst), so often my choices of character on the select screen were Ashe (arrows and stuff), Garen (melee but he’s beefy so I stayed alive mostly) and Sona, and Sona is just a glorified healer that brings a musical instrument into battle. (I wonder if Riot could give her a keytar? I have always wanted to play a hero with a keytar.) So I got a bit impatient.

LOL EMASCULATION

“I want to play a different character – which one should I go?”

“Sona,” Deer Sperm says, unhelpfully.

“I’ve played her already,” I snapped. “She needs a keytar.”

“Ashe?” said Vexd.

“NO.”

So I clicked on a lady character that looked cool.

Do not do this. Lady characters that look cool are the total death.

There was a stunned silence. Our screens were loading. I looked happily at my cool lady character. Finally, just before the screen loaded up, Lufthast’s voice came over Mumble.

“Cara. That’s Evelynn The Widowmaker. Everyone hates her. She’s really hard.”

“She’s all blue like Smurfette,” I gargled happily in my brain.

I understood that Evelynn could spike people to hurt them but that was really the extent of it. I thought she was invisible like Rikimaru in DOTA for little while, but enemy heroes kept slicing me up like a nice honeyroast ham. It slowly dawned on me that hero proximity negated my stealth, but it was too late. I was feeding at a rate faster than my teammates could stifle their laughter.

“EVELYNN IS RUBBISH” I declare, and promptly die to four heroes two seconds later. Of course, we lose. No one is surprised, but then, no one really cares. We reload and play again.

As if to rub it in my face, next round Lufthast picks Ms Smurfette and turns her into an invisible killing machine whilst my Sona slowly heals her like an indentured lute-playing serf. Crying. No keytar.

Stupid Lufthast.

With that, I’d returned to playing games with the family I’d abandoned years ago, as if I were a shamefaced estranged mother reunited with her overachieving nerdly children. They embraced me like I’d never been away, and largely ignored the fact I was terrible. You are experiencing my resubmergence in real time: all of the people I’d played DOTA with for years had moved straight on to League of Legends, and made their home in it, leaving me dawdling behind, sampling DOTA 2 slowly, like one would a box of Milk Tray.

The last Battle Arena article dragged all those old DOTA teammates out of the woodwork: you may remember in the comments that several of them popped their heads above the precipice and pledged their support at my barefaced pimping of our shared memories and screenshots for cash. That was the first time I’d been in touch with some of those people in over five years. In the game industry, five years is like… ten years.

“We should be able to shine a LoL light in the sky to get everyone together,” Lufthast said to me, assembling a team. Epic music piped into my ears on the login screen. “We should have a direct line to people so that wherever they are, when there is a match on, they drop everything to get on the LoL train.”

This is exactly how we used to phrase things when we talked about DOTA in 2004. But how different are DOTA 2 and League of Legends from each other? It was something unavoidable I was asking myself.

“SCREW THAT!” I hear you scream at me, brandishing your keyboard to smash in my face. “WHICH ONE SHOULD I BE PLAYING DAMN YOU!”

Here I am teleporting

Well jeez. All right. It’s complicated, and to be honest, I’m not sure there is a definitive answer. Here is what I have learned about the actual framework of League of Legends in comparison to DOTA 2.

The first thing you notice is that you’re restricted to a small draft of rotating Champions to choose from, instead of the All Pick draft of 100 or so heroes you would have as standard in DOTA. Riot have designed to monetize: you accumulate ‘Influence Points’ from playing games (or ‘how much you can influence Riot to give you free stuff’ according to comrade Lufthast) – or you can buy ‘Riot Points’ (directly get things from Riot by throwing money at their face). This can be pretty annoying in the beginning – if you want to know whether the game is worth investing in you really want to be able to explore the variety of characters (which you can do, if you have more time and patience than I do, and you wait for the rotation). I guess this counts against in the war of comparison – in DOTA 2 you pick tactically to counter other heroes, whilst in LoL you simply cannot do that if you are starting out, and you compensate by drafting a Champion of each type to balance your team.

But then, playing LoL you realise that you are actually learning how to use the heroes well this way. The restricted draft means that you are forced to learn about your carries, your supports, your junglers, your assassins. You begin to learn about which Summoner spells to choose (these are an extra two spells you can augment your character with) and which skins supply your character with a rack from a Women Fighters In Unreasonable Armour tumblr.

Initially, these extra spells seemed daunting, but when you think about the sheer amount of information facing a new player learning DOTA 2, you realise that actually the most important thing that Riot have done with League of Legends is make it as approachable as a girl with freckles and a cupcake. (No doubt Riot will try and stick a push-up bra on her.) The Summoner spells are just standing in so that the items in League of Legends can then become less complicated.

And that’s a microcosm of what I have to tell you about League of Legends: it has simplified things. I’m primarily a DOTA girl with DOTA feelings and DOTA dreams. I am inherently biased, which is why it has taken me so long to even dip into League of Legends. It’s snobbery. I look down my nose at what I thought until now was a cartoony little cousin of DOTA – a garish young upstart with too much energy and not enough pizzazz. But after a few games of League of Legends, I was coming away with the opinion that LoL is better than DOTA 2 and hating myself.

This is because Riot have streamlined their model, it has given the metagame obvious rules, where Valve has taken the sprawlingly intricate DOTA blueprint and added a few features, a different interface, and a really fucking annoying donkey on top, and then left you in the middle of the clusterfuck to sort it out. DOTA 2 sits there and laughs at you, whilst League of Legends extends a hand keenly towards you.

When you die in LoL, you can even bring up a little helpsheet indicating how you could have countered what happened to you, even though it does make you feel a little like an ice-cream-smeared child being lectured.

Here I am teleporting at another time

Riot thought about what would make the original game easier to approach and implemented those ideas well. For example, most of the items you would use to improve your League of Legends Champions have passive abilities, meaning you will never really get to the stage where you will have 6 items and a need, in the middle of a frenetic and terrifying battle of 2 frames per second, to hammer buttons like a teenage boy trying to locate the clitoris.

It’s impossible to deselect your character in League of Legends, which eliminates that horrible moment in any DOTA 2 skirmish where all of a sudden you realise your hero is not on the screen and isn’t responding to your clicks and you are screaming “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHERE AM I” until you have the presence of mind to click on the icon of your hero in the top left corner. At which point you are dying, or are dead, and your team is stifling guffaws because you’ve kited into a tower and offed yourself. That is much less likely to happen. It is way less humiliating.

The map is much smaller, and the towers deal more damage with less health, which means that you can reach the base invasion stage quickly, and you can make more decisive wins. I’d say your average LoL game runs about 30-40 minutes, whilst DOTA 2 games are prolonged, agonising chess matches that can run much longer.

My favourite change to the DOTA mould has been something that I’d have brushed off before I’d used it in-game. Champions have a rechargeable teleport back to base – that – get this – you can use as many times as you like! From anywhere! It’s called ‘Recall’ in League of Legends speak. Hey, forgot that item? RECALL. Need a bit of health? RECALL. Shopping for shoes? RECALL. Forgot to floss? RECALL. Sometimes I Recall just for the fuck of it.

Sometimes I Recall from the centre of the base to the shop because I give so little of a fuck. Everyone’s like “where the hell is Cara?” and I’m all like “RECALL”. I sometimes start the game up just to Recall around a bit. It’s just the most beautiful mechanic after you have been subjected to a cantankerous donkey for so long.

Here I am teleporting into the base

The Recall, most importantly, means that you eliminate the bane of my life, the courier system for items. I really dislike that mechanic in DOTA – I am terrible at micromanagement, which not only makes me unworthy of living, but also makes me cranky every time I try and get stuff out of the courier without dying to some assassin jumping out of the jungle. Though DOTA 2 has tried very hard to improve the mechanic with the Automatic Donkey Call Button™ it still had me frustrated when I started out and it is still possible to get your items stuck in it, to get it killed, to get it lost, to click the wrong damn button on the interface. It’s a real pain. The answer, Riot has found, is Total and Utter Recall. Hooray for Recall! Press B to Recall.

Spells in League of Legends are, like the Recall button, joyfully spammable. You can tap that like it is legal, with the mana cost staying pretty low. In DOTA 2, I think it is much more likely that spells will take a great deal of mana, and as a result, do a lot more damage. In DOTA 2 they aren’t things you can mindlessly cast – you find that you panic much more in the moment about landing them, you fear them being blocked and you worry about being silenced. You long for the pretty colours they make when they fly across your screen.

In LoL, you spend those spells as much as possible whenever appropriate, making a Disney Fantasia of your screen. You touch up casting keys QWER as if they are keys on a piano. Play as Sona, the healer support, and you’ll spend all your time bashing W with the fevered enthusiasm of … well. A teenage boy trying to… oh never mind.

PEW PEW PEW

League of Legends is also heavily balanced so that it is more difficult to get an “OP” or fed enemy Champion – if your character is constantly being killed, the game lessens the money you are worth, until it really isn’t particularly worth killing that Champion – at least for any kind of monetary value. In comparison, DOTA 2 treats you brutally – nothing is adjusted to help anyone. DOTA 2 regards the world as savage and uncompromising. DOTA 2 is out to eat your children. You can’t deny creeps or towers in League of Legends, but you can in DOTA 2, because DOTA 2 is an evil old wizard who would rather you drink your own piss than give you a cup of water. League of Legends is a Pinko Commie, DOTA 2 is an all-powerful Ayn Rand.

As for the “metagame”, or, the strategy game that transcends the prescribed confines of the game, there seems to be very little movement between lanes in League of Legends in the early game that is useful, whereas you can afford to be more fluid in DOTA 2. DOTA 2′s heroes and metagame strategies are so complex that there are infinite iterations of play that can work out for your team: there are simply so many variables in play that you are always flying by the seat of your pants.

This means you can decide when to swap lanes or switch in and out. In LoL, there is a much more rigid structure, where your teammates will automatically understand by the loading screen exactly which lanes will be occupied by carries, supports and fighters, and your jungler is just that. In LoL, there is very little point in your whole team being mobile between lanes until you are truly beefed up and ready to go.

Garen sadly doesn't have a skin that displays his ass

It is as I consider the metagame that I begin to miss DOTA 2. League of Legends is beginner-friendly, it is made to be clearer, less stacked towards the endgame and more about the whole. It is less of a mindgame, and more of a perfunctory smash-and-grab. It seems to have rules. Clear, unavoidable rules. And sometimes I found myself getting impatient with them. I wanted to break out. I wanted to break free.

This is not to say that DOTA 2 doesn’t have some metagame rules. It obviously does. If you watch the pro players, their styles of play do have significant patterns. Of course they do. But DOTA 2 allows for more showmanship, for idiotic acts of bravery, for sheer moments of stupidity, and then a sudden saving grace. This is partly due to how expensive spells are on your mana bar – you just can’t spam them, making them more tactical – but it’s really that heady mix of everything overpowered that gives DOTA 2 its little moments.

There is an agreed approach to these sort of games, and it is this: the more you invest in them, the more rewarding they are. DOTA 2 is all investment all the time. It is so huge and complex that it is overwhelming, a sprawling cityscape made of hidden riches and people being beaten up, unseen, in backalleys. DOTA 2 hates you so vehemently; you can’t help but want it to love you.

League of Legends is the one that is better for you, more wholesome. I feel the same way about it as I do my hometown of Edinburgh: the topography is memorable and kind to me. It might even be more fun. But I also want to live in New York, where the streets are darker and the prizes are more glittering. DOTA 2 is the New York of the battle arenas. It’s a mess, it takes everything from you, it will take your time and your patience and pretty much all of your memory to remember all its details.

Each hero, each little strategy, how to make your team work together, what counters what. DOTA 2 is an endurance test with a face-searing payoff, much more so than League of Legends, because it requires more from you: patience and bombast and, occasionally, moments of insanity. It is by no means as measured as League of Legends. DOTA 2 is a reclining bloated old remnant: he has gout and sometimes he is loathsome, but boy, can he throw a party.

LoL isn’t all dimples and aw shucks either. We tend to play “best rack” on the LoL loading screens a lot. It’s like a bonus minigame. League of Legends is more obsessed with boobs than your average footballer. (Sona has an outrageous set. It’s a wonder she isn’t carrying around a wheelbarrow. I mean, she is seriously going to get back problems in later life.) (PS. Riot, please do away with the display tits unless you are going to have Garen get his bum out in various provocative ensembles, perhaps with a coy look over his shoulder. Assless chaps is what I am saying to you. The equalizer.)

I usually go into battle naked. These ladies are just wasting time with clothes.

Despite my misgivings and slight DOTA 2 cravings, I’m almost converted. My little LoL family is waiting. We play 4v4s late into the evening with a host of in-jokes, such as Jeto’s triumphant and recent return to the nickname of the previous article – “Deer Sperm”. They all tell me that League of Legends is truly better. I will carry on playing League of Legends for sure. But, sometimes, late at night, the sheer vast mysteriousness of DOTA 2′s complexities call me back like it’s a lonely ex-boyfriend.

You want a last word from me. You want me to declare sides. But now I am playing both games, and I am being pulled in both directions. In terms of gameplay, if you’re a beginner looking for a really nice understandable and refined iteration of DOTA, I’d put my cards in with Riot. But if you’re ready for something really challenging, difficult, crazy – I’d throw in with Valve’s DOTA 2. But these will probably not be the determining factors for you, unless you are the sort of player who loves to go it alone in team games.

The real determining factor will probably be your friends. If you have a great deal of friends on LoL servers, you’ll go all in with the LoL crowd, and you’ll love it. If you have a lot of friends pestering you for a game of DOTA 2, you’ll go with that. Both games are solid as hell competitive arenas. You might, like me, be happy playing with a group on each game – both games are totally free to play.

The deciding factor for me is always the people I play with, and not so much the game. You could be playing the worst game in the world and it would be fun as long as you have someone named ‘Deer Sperm’ to tell you that your face is bad and that he slept with your mum last night and then have him sing bad Swedish pop hits down your headset whilst he wades into a fight by your side. Those are the sorts of game moments that can happen when a large amount of friends play together, and, probably, the sort of moments that will come to make you giggle out loud at the bus stop and have an old granny tut at you.

Heh heh. You think Deer Sperm is weird.

I carry on my quest into the unknown. Next up: it’s the COMMUNITY episode, where I will talk about public games of League of Legends and Heroes of Neworth, and how completely lovely everyone was when I visited public matches. I’m sure they will be nice. I’m sure. I’m really looking forward to some strangers teaching newbie here how to play. Bet they’ve got some hot tips.

Keep your suggestions coming in for a replacement term for “MOBA”. It still sounds like a surgical procedure to me. Oh, and check out League of Legends storytime. It is LoL lore, read by a soothing voice! And a pro League player! Cocks eyebrow.

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124 Comments »

  1. GeorgeB says:

    Don’t forget to check out the other game modes that LoL provides. The 3v3 map, Dominion CP mode, and the new single lane map where All Random custom matches help spice up the play experience for vets.

  2. Magnusm1 says:

    But why do the characters look like they are from a Korean F2PMMORPG? And why is Warwick essentially skinnier version of Ursa?

    • Yuri says:

      Ursa is a bear, no?
      Warwick is a (were)wolf.
      But there’s also Volibear (armored bear) and the upcoming Rengar (werecat or whatever).

    • nonki says:

      I contacted this spell caster in regards of my lover. He no longer wanted to associate with me anymore. He was interested in working out his marriage with another woman, after begging and pleading with him I realized it was out of my hands, he really was leaving me. My co-worker went through a similar situation and told me that prophetharry@ymail.com had helped her. I can’t say how much I’m grateful she introduced me to prof. After discussing the resolution with prof, his get your lover back spell has done more than what I expected. My lover not only came back to me, but has left his present woman and now was engaged with me, we are getting married next month, I don’t know what I would have done without prof. I believe prof is my guardian angel. Nonki, Free State

  3. Eskatos says:

    I used to be incredibly into LoL before I discovered the awesomeness of Dota 2. By no means is LoL a bad game, but in two years of playing the metagame barely changed at all. Solo top, solo mid, duo bot, and a jungler is the only truly viable laning strategy and I don’t see that ever changing. LoL is simpler than Dota, and with that comes more ability to see a truly optimized style of play and stick with it.

    • mickygor says:

      There are ways to beat the standardised meta but they require such an increased level of coordination and skill that they’ve not caught on in the community proper.

    • Edradour says:

      I think this is once again a case of >personal opinion<
      Yes its easier to get into but once you figured out most of the differences i dont see this as a plus.
      In dota you could pick a strong carry and if the enemy wasnt premade and didnt work together very well you could >carry< the entire team to victory.
      With lol i find that very hard if not impossible sure you can pick an ap carry and pick of lots of enymys off before the fight but if your team sucks and has no damage youll still lose, you cant juke with the bushes like you could with the jukespots in dota and your char would be to slow for it anyways.

      On top of that the simplification makes the game more boring, the early game is way less action packed due to towers dealing too much damage and distances being shorter/and less places to hide and ambush from.
      The metagame is even more boring: jungle, solo top, solo mid, carry+support bot. You can pull different stuff off if youre premade and the enemys are bad and to be fair trilanes or roaming never worked in dotas public games either but thats still 2 different viable lane setups in dota ( 2-1-2 and 1-1-2 + jungle ) vs. only one in lol.

      Playing support in lol is infuriating because all you do is shield/heal/stun/ward to protect your mates and ocasionally engage with a stun/slow ( only excption being blitzcrank ) while in dota you could harass the enemy with autoattacks stack creepcamps for your carry pull creeps into the lane to push it back deny creeps and tp to other lanes to help out.

      Recall is nice and stuff but missing the ability to tp in at any time at any tower once again takes out a lot of the action.

      The runes! When i just turned 30 i often had to fight with my standard runes for ad/ap against an enemy who had specialized runes optimal for that one champion and the first few levels i was absolutly hopeless not because he played better but because he simply dealt way more damage than me.

      Last but not least: The client…5 gb of data with lower res textures than hon, which gets away with only 1gb. A stupid webinterface that sometimes takes ages to load the next page and having to load the entire engine every time you start a new game…

      Dont get me wrong i can totally see why it attracted such a ginormous fanbase and i think it will stay the largest moba game numberwise for a long time and i enjoy playing it if i want to chill out a bit but i dont think you can say its "better" than dota2 or hon.

      edit: after reading some of the other comments i think RPS should put a giant banner that reads ‘PERSONAL OPINION’ at the beginning of articles like this :>

      • Edradour says:

        The first passage is kinda borked since the comment system decided to eat half of it and after writing the sermon that follows it i cant remember what i wrote in the beginning >.>

        It was something about the squishyness and team dependence of ad carrys in lol vs the carrys in dota which lead into the first passage

      • Steven Hutton says:

        It’s RPS the whole site is assumed to have that banner.

      • Josh W says:

        And really, the only alternative is procedurally generated robospam.

    • innociv says:

      I only touched on dota ages ago. I really didn’t like the WC3 engine, and especially disliked how the lobby system worked with poor search/filtering.

      I got into LoL, sort of liking it. I hated it after 200 games, but I kept playing up to 3800 games simply because I was amazing at it and enjoyed being amazing. The skill ceiling on that game is so low.

      Now I quit it before dota2 even came out, because I was sick of all the glaring issues of it.
      LoL is basically the new WoW. It’s not the new dota.

      It’s sad to read the article, where Cara was saying how much she was into dota, to find out she’s actually bad at the game. If you were good at dota, you couldn’t settle for LoL. LoL has 10% the mechanics of dota.

      People will jokingly say dota is a “game of momentum” but in LoL that’s true. In LoL, at the top 1%, the game is decided by the picks and who accumulates the most gold. In dota you can have nearly half the other teams gold and turn the game around with a big play. There are no “big plays” in LoL. At the high skill level you’re just a robot pressing buttons correctly. You can’t pull something off amazingly to turn things around. The “pressing buttons correctly” in LoL is just too easy.

      But the worst is that it comes down to every game of LoL being the same. It’s all about picks and gold because there is no strategy. The only LoL strategy is farm for 20 minutes, win a teamfight, gain the momentum from that and keep winning 5v5 fights to take inhibs and the base. You can’t chose to pick an early game advantage, a carry advantage, to push, to rosh early, to trilane, to duo mid, to double jungle. It’s always AP carry mid, carry+babysit bot, tanky ad/ap top, and tanky ad/teamfight-support jungle. Always. 3800 games, every one of them the same.

      I decided to stop playing LoL when every game was the same. I’ll stop playing dota2 when that happens, but after 550 games it hasn’t. Even when you try the same strategy, things can go horribly wrong and flip all around in trying to adapt in dota.

  4. Yosharian says:

    DOTA versus LOL… this is gonna get messy.

  5. NathanH says:

    Col and I.

  6. Tei says:

    Thats why I play LOL. “the topography is memorable and kind to me”. I like cities that make sense, like Paris and the like. You can’t get lost in cities like that. Based in this article, New York has to be a horrible city :P

  7. jon_hill987 says:

    You can also use F1 to instantly select your hero in DotA2 I believe.

    • theleif says:

      The question I’m asking myself is why it’s at all possible to deselect your hero in a game where you control a single unit.

      • borso says:

        Mainly because you don’t control only a single unit. :)

      • jon_hill987 says:

        Chen, Enchant, Broodmother, anyone with Helm of the Dominator…

      • Vorphalack says:

        Dota is based on the Warcraft 3 engine. It’s an RTS at its heart, so you can have control groups and sub groups, and you can deselect everything.

      • Tau Psi says:


        http://www.dota2wiki.com/wiki/Chen

        Holy Persuasion (third ability): You can either send a friendly unit to base or gain control of up too three creeps (creeps from the jungle even have active abilities)

        Meepo is also interesting, although not implemented yet: Basically you have up to 5 units of him :)

        Or you can have illusions of yourself, which you can use too scout or confuse the enemy.

        I really should stop to edit. There are too many things you can do with multiple units in Dota.

      • theleif says:

        I know why you could do it in DOTA and I know there are some champions that have minions, it’s still imo a bad design decision. Minions could easily be controlled with a modifier key instead (ALT right click moves your minions).
        A game that’s (almost) all about controlling one hero, the fact that you can deselect that hero at all is perplexing.

        • oWn4g3 says:

          In fact there is a modifier key that does exactly what you want but it reduces the effectiveness of minion dependant heroes a lot. For example, if you got around 10 spiderlings at your command and have a good micro, you can easily surround your opponent and get an advantage.

          In DotA there is even a hero that can have up to 4 copies of himself. That would not work at all with a modifier key.
          http://www.dota2wiki.com/wiki/Meepo

        • Tau Psi says:

          One key to control every other unit who isn’t the hero would not work. LoL uses a system like that and it is very limiting.

          For example, Chen can “persuade” the creeps from the jungle: The Centaur has a low range AOE stun. The Wildkin can summon a tornado which can be controlled. The Satyr has a long range blast which does decent damage. You want and have to micro these units to get the best out of them and be a formidable Chen player. Heck, good Chen players even block the path of enemy heroes with their creeps to catch up.

          Such a hero is simply not possible in LoL.

          • Goldenspork99 says:

            + Enchantress is super cute, you don’t have that in LoL

          • Tau Psi says:

            She is my favourite hero in terms of graphics and sound design. Her voice work and the skill sounds are just awesome: “THUD (Impetus). Sproink!”

          • jon_hill987 says:

            You know what I love about Enchantress? Everything!

          • HisMastersVoice says:

            Nice rack, Leshrac!

            and my personal favourite

            Baaaa! (when getting sheepstick)

            also

            Carl, meet Sagan.

      • aspabd says:

        Not only because of the multi-unit heroes but because you select other heroes on the map to check their mana / items There is no way to check enemy heroes items without selecting them in Dota.

      • Savagetech says:

        Dude’s right. Even though you can technically control more than one unit in DotA2, there’s no good reason the game needs to let you deselect the only unit you currently have selected. You could still make control groups and switch between them just fine, but with the bonus of removing the possibility that you deselect and stand around like a tool while your enemy pummels you.

        It should be an option at least. That’s kinda the point of having a standalone version of DotA in the first place: to get rid of the ridiculous limitations of the Warcraft 3 engine and enhance the game. Selecting units to inspect them is one thing I thought they’d throw out immediately; even though it remains it would still work with a “1+ unit selected always” option.

        I’ve played a ton of DotA in my day and I can appreciate how close #2 feels to the original, but I doubt many fans will ragequit over a few optional usability tweaks.

  8. Vorphalack says:

    Interesting read, though I disagree with one point:

    > ”I’d say your average LoL game runs about 30-40 minutes, whilst DOTA 2 games are prolonged, agonising chess matches that can run much longer.”

    I’m about 180 games into Dota 2 and I reckon the average game length is…….30-40 minutes. At the time of the last international almost a year ago the games were really dragging out, but the kill experience and gold gain were buffed. There’s really nothing between LoL and Dota 2 in terms of game length now. You can get one sided 20 minute stomps or 1 hour Mexican stand offs in both, but the average is pretty much the same.

    • PodX140 says:

      You’ll find, or at least, I found, that the better you get the longer games will be. I’m at 740 games in, and average game length is now around 40-55 minutes, even had a couple that went for 80. I think it’s because it’s much harder to get that breakthrough the better your opponents are, you tend to not slip up and let someone get unstoppable.

      • GypsyMagic says:

        Yeah, Ill have to agree. LoL hits the ceiling much faster. Almost every game (unless someone surrenders) ends with you being level 18 and at 5-6 slots. Thats not as common in dota. (especially 6 slots. Even a 90 min game wont be a 6 slot most of the time)

        Also, as much as Riot tries to make LoL equal and balanced with room for a comeback. Dota has a greater comeback potential than LoL. In dota you have the room to counter with different builds or strategies. The more countering going on, the longer the game.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Games are also likely longer in DotA 2 due to the lack of a surrender function, which can shave a fair bit of time off averages.

    • jrodman says:

      Having watched an absurd number of both games, I would say the difference definitely exists, but isn’t that large. A 30 minute DOTA 2 game is pretty much a shutout. A 20 minute game is absurd. A 30 minute game of LoL can be legitimate, although it does mean one team did clearly pull ahead.

      Essentially the normal range of LoL games is 30-45 minutes, while DOTA 2 it’s more like 40-55. Not too pronounced, but definitely there.

      I will say there are more high-end outliers in DOTA 2 though. 80 minute games aren’t unheard of. An 80 minute LoL game would seem stupidly overlong.

      • Ringwraith says:

        I’ve played a 78 minute League match before.
        I was very much struggling things to spend my gold on. Although probably doesn’t help I did have the most money…

  9. Ricc says:

    From a LoL-player’s perspective I really enjoyed the article. :) I can’t imagine NOT being able to recall at any time in a regular match. ^_^

    Some of the bigger differences to regular DOTA (played that for a week, then gave up on it… ) lie in Riot’s other game modes as well, by the way. I’m sure you tried out Dominion already. It’s fun but ultimately not that deep, imo.

    The real awesome stuff is what’s called ARAM (All Random All Mid) in LoL, currently only being played in Custom games. (Can be hard to find. The map is called “Proving Grounds”.) It’s basically a map, that only has one lane, so it’s constant 5v5 teamfights. You automatically get gold and more XP than in Normal mode. I’ve been playing that for the last two months or so. Those occasional moments of insanity and glory actually happen a lot in ARAM, because it’s always on. Lots of fun.

    Also, you made me remember how idiotic all the cleavage in LoL is. When I started playing a year ago, I was shaking my head a lot, especially at Evelynn… Now I don’t even notice it anymore, which is a bit worrying.

    • Pony Canyon says:

      I found Dominion to be a cheap side game at the start as well. It felt light-weight and just kind of an arena of mindless killing. But as you rise in the ranks, you start to face people that are taking it seriously and employing actual tactics. And despite the faster pace to it, the community is actually a lot less… turd… on the Dominion side of things. I eventually made the switch from Summoner’s Rift to Dominion and never looked back. It’s a shame Riot won’t implement a ranked ladder for it.

      • RedViv says:

        I’d theorise that the lack of turdiness comes from the lower time investment. You can do really bad on SR and still have 30 minutes of pain, where Dominion would just accelerate once the enemy clearly stomps you into the ground.

    • oWn4g3 says:

      ARAM is a game mode that was available in the original DotA for WC3 so it is not like Riot invented it in the first place.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        I think the larger issue is that All Random is a much better mode when you can random any character out of the pool, whereas in LoL you’re only going to random one of the champs you’ve unlocked or are free that week.

        It is incredibly fun to know that everyone is running the risk of pulling a character they’ve never played before, and it’s a great way to see characters get play that are normally unpopular or forgotten by the community.

        Yet another way that LoL’s business model interferes with the actual game design.

    • MaXimillion says:

      HoN also has a single lane map, which is playable with matchmaking, and with either All Random or Blind Ban -> All pick modes. And unlike LoL’s map which is nothing but the lane, it has a bit more terrain elements that make playing it much more fun.

    • GypsyMagic says:

      Dota actually has A LOT of game modes. (Not many have been ported to dota 2 yet)
      To list some off…
      super creeps (spawns boss creeps for both sides at random lanes every few minutes)
      deathmatch (new hero upon death),
      no bottom, no top, no mid (yes, you can close all lanes and have a 5v5 jungle only game),
      same hero(everyone has the same hero,
      duplicate heroes(hero doesnt lock after you pick it, anyone could pick it again),
      mirror hero (teams have same heroes),
      forgot the mode name, but you pick heroes for your enemy,
      capture point (sort of like dominion, you have to stand on a point to capture it and get buffs)
      item drop (on death, you drop an item from a random inventory slot, could be an empty one)
      And thats just listing some of the many modes dota has.

  10. pakoito says:

    Cara, you WEAKLING!

  11. Sardonic says:

    I’m a casual LoL player, I tried to get into DoTA2 but it just didn’t click for me.

  12. TheAngryMongoose says:

    I’m still sitting with my hesitant mouse over the “Play” button for DotA 2. Ah well, I have friends that play LoL, I’ll stay there for now.

    (That said, I’ve had 5 games in as many weeks… something about the genre makes me very resistant to starting a match)

  13. Jesse L says:

    I don’t know anything about these games, but this is an excellent, very funny, very entertaining read. THANKS! I will subscribe to your newsletter.

  14. RedViv says:

    It’s the game that is less painful in case of messed up match, but remains at about the same level of polish. And I really do like the art and world, improbably armoured ladies and all. It’s the Frazetta, while DOTA/2 are doing their best to paint a big chapel.
    In the end I’m just having more fun. I don’t care if it’s seen as less challenging. I’ll just run my mixed marathon/archery competition, and leave mixed archery/marathon/chainsaw juggling to others.

    Well, not to say that I won’t play DOTA2. Once Valve finds a way to make it use my machine at its best, and not stop with 40% usage for some weird reason.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Interesting. I find LoL is much more frustrating when a match goes badly. People start whining and demanding surrender at 20 minutes, and if it doesn’t happen they begin feeding, complaining… And since most strategies for ending a game in LoL require direct team fights, the weaker team never really has the ability to do anything.

      In DOTA even if my team is losing, the raw power of spells means we can gank successfully, split push, win some poorly engaged fights, and take towers to try to stay in the game. And the lack of a resign feature, at least in my games, has resulted in players just playing through and having a fun time (joking about how we lost, etc.), rather than raging and trying to end the game ASAP so they can farm IP with max efficiency.

      • Talon says:

        Someone on teamliquid posted analysis of LoL matches and found out that the winning team never drops to 7% behind, and that 99% of games have been decided at the 12 minute mark.

        • innociv says:

          Yeah. As I replied elsewhere, LoL is entirely a game of momentum and picks as long as all players are adept.

          The skill ceiling is so low so only picks and gold matters.

  15. Rhin says:

    The big story in recent NA LoL tournaments is how Azubu Blaze’s “Korean meta” — focussed on duo lane swapping and aggressively taking early towers and map control — is dominating the standard 1/1/2 meta. Although who knows if that will ever trickle down to the plebs.

    • RedViv says:

      It’s certainly not as easy to pass down as the stupid “This build won a tournament, therefore I will use it!” idea.

    • Yuri says:

      The LoL metagame is so prevalent because it’s relatively easy to coordinate such a “formation” even with total strangers.

      Then again, there’s nothing stopping you from countering such a strategy. Say, taking two champs top and one of them having ranged attacks that can help take down turrets faster.
      A particularly disgusting and almost immovable duo-top combo would be Volibear/Yorick and Nunu.
      Only triple-ganks with mid will be able to nudge them.
      Or taking two strong champs with solid burst and crowd control to make bot lane a kill lane.(The double-bruiser meta).
      Or, even more ridiculous, giving mid to your bot+support and sending your mid as solobot(works with champs that can push creep waves effectively and keeps the enemy carry + support near your towers, making for easier jungler/mid ganks).
      Or send your bot lane top to 2v1 and deny farm to the solotop champ (what Azubu Blaze did).

      • Gnoupi says:

        Or even when you mix up the bot lane. The usual rule is “one ad carry (ranged, needs to farm to start dealing a lot of damage), one support (healing)”.

        But if you change that, you can have lanes with early bruisers or AP characters which are crushing the “classic” match from the other side.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Volibear/Nunu bot works, with Voli taking the gold and building tanky-on-hit while Nunu does usual support role. The result is a terrifying kill lane, which can easily take two towers in one go if left to their own devices. Being able to flip escaping foes into Nunu’s ultimate also helps. Although the team requires an AD carry to go mid or top to round out the team composition, as well as an AP jungler or AP top to make sure magic damage isn’t completely neglected. So it’s a bit trickier to organise.

          There’s also some silly things you can do like On-Hit Lulu top which wrecks a surprising amount of champions but requires the team’s tankiness to be elsewhere (usually with the jungler and support both being tanky).

  16. ancienthydra says:

    “It’s impossible to deselect your character in League of Legends, which eliminates that horrible moment in any DOTA 2 skirmish where all of a sudden you realise your hero is not on the screen and isn’t responding to your clicks and you are screaming “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHERE AM I” until you have the presence of mind to click on the icon of your hero in the top left corner. At which point you are dying, or are dead, and your team is stifling guffaws because you’ve kited into a tower and offed yourself. That is much less likely to happen. It is way less humiliating.”

    Err, that isn’t so with dota2. Any time your hero is deselected (or you’ve selected any other hero/creep/etc), and you click anywhere on screen, your hero automatically gets selected and moves/etc there. Does not happen with the bloody donkey, though.

    • GypsyMagic says:

      Remember to spam F1. (This works in LoL too) It will select your hero the first time, and move the camera to the hero the second time. Also, the automatically selecting your hero again only works when you have a unit selected that you can not control. Otherwise, F1 is your friend. :)
      (or tab around if you have a group selected)

  17. Asurmen says:

    I agree that the one thing abut LoL that bothers me is the meta game aspect. You must have a tough sustain hero top, you must have AP mid etc. No one has yet explained to me just why it has to be like this. I’ve lost count of the number of games that have been abandoned at hero select because someone didn’t go jungle. People would swap lanes all the time in DoTa.

    Quite a number of games I’ve been in have been won because the mould was broken and two people went top lane. Suddenly the opposing jungler has to baby sit top lane instead of helping the other two lanes. It’s just inflexible and sometimes makes an evening of LoL stale with people’s rigid enforcement of probably the 1st of the LoL Commandments.

    • Yuri says:

      Not necessarily. The duo top thing. Going 2v1 top means that your two enemies share exp and gold, which means that you’ll be at least 1-2 levels ahead of them if you can survive.
      And there are plenty of champs that can simply freeze a lane right in front of their turret and just happily farm their face off while the two enemies have to worry about jungle/mid ganks.

      Oh and, this brings me to the creep deny aspect from DotA2 – you actually can deny creep farm in LoL for your enemy if you “freeze” a lane near your tower. They can still kill creeps, but it’s the pressure from potential ganks that and the proximity of your turret that makes them reluctant to do so.

      • Gnoupi says:

        Works both way, actually. If you freeze the lane, pushed maximally, you will be more exposed to ganks, but you will also give the other team a harder time farming, since they have to fight with the tower to get last hits.

        Not as efficient as a good zoning of course, but still.

        In general, I’m glad there is no “denying” in LoL. Last hitting/farming is already a chore in itself, so at least having to do it only on one side is giving you some time to breath.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I used to feel this way until I started to play more DOTA, and realized that in the average DOTA game I spent far less time passively farming in lane (since I headed off to gank or deal with other strategic goals much earlier), and in fact paid much less attention to the creeps in general. By comparison, in League if I’m not in jungle (where I’m once again killing creeps) I routinely spend the first 10-15 minutes doing nothing but last hitting and harassing, often racking up several dozen creep kills before I really start thinking about leaving lane.

          Another thing I didn’t understand was that the last hit/deny mechanic in DOTA is hugely important in defining player roles. A supporting player will usually focus on denying and harassing, while the character they are babysitting will focus on last hitting and staying safe. Not only does this help more clearly delineate the roles, it also means that if I’m getting tired of denying for some reason, I can play a carry and ignore denying in favor of farming, or play a ganker and get most of my gold from player kills.

          I can certainly understand why some players find the denying mechanic unintuitive and frustrating for that reason, but I think mechanically it makes for a more dynamic and choice-rich laning phase. I don’t think it would feel at home in League, with its focus on ability-focused player duels, but I think DOTA would be poorer were it removed.

    • Safewood says:

      The reason for LoL’s lane setup is duo bot to ensure you won’t be at a numerical disadvantage in a fight over dragon.
      AP casters are great in early and midgame fights so they go mid, it is also much harder to gank middle (the distance between the towers are much lower than top and bot).
      Jungler is obviously just to ensure your team gets maximum amount of gold and exp, in addition to serving as a catalyst at the start.
      Because most fights should happen bot, because of dragon and the innate volatility of 2v2, you usually want to have a fantastic laner which is an immovable object. When bot and mid are set up this way the team also lacks often lack tankiness, that is then provided by top.

  18. Grey Ganado says:

    I’m still for calling them Lane Pushing Games.

  19. PhocsM says:

    I think instead of MOBA we should say RATS (Real Action Time Strategy). Or just mix the words and the acronym letters as desired.

  20. X_kot says:

    Great article, Cara – keep ‘em coming!

    …because DOTA 2 is an evil old wizard who would rather you drink your own piss than give you a cup of water. League of Legends is a Pinko Commie, DOTA 2 is an all-powerful Ayn Rand.

    …hammer buttons like a teenage boy trying to locate the clitoris.

    I bet I could use this piece to teach metaphorical language in a composition course.

  21. c4llum says:

    Loved this article but I have to say it defiantly reads as the thoughts of a newb (not necessarily a bad thing). When you say that spells in the game are spammable… for some champs yeah. But there are a number of champs that are very mana hungry and have long cool-downs, so you have to be very conservative. Also like someone above me stated games in lol actually go for about as long as dota 2 matches. I think if you continue to play that you will discover how much more tactical depth there actually is to it. But i do agree that it is maybe a bit more simplified than dota (streamlined really). I prefer it to dota 2 however (though a large part of that is the archaic design, stupid donkey, counter- intuitive store and ridiculously oversized ui of dota 2). Anyway as I said great read and I love the more… colourful language than is normally on this site, I hope you continue to write here. Look forward to the article about the community – easily the worst thing about lol, dota and the rest of them and the thing I think that keeps the most would be players away.

  22. NyuBomber says:

    I was big into LoL until a few months ago, but I’ve been keeping up with more recent news on it (want to try that plant lady so much).

    I’ve recently started trying Dota2 though, and…

    I just don’t know.

    On the one hand, I like LoL’s simplicity in some aspects but not others (Pro: Recalls vs. Con: Metagame)

    On the other hand, Dota2′s seeming needlessly obtuse for someone who isn’t a big RTS guy like me. (How the heck do i control this stupid donkey? How do I get back to my character?? Whya re items defaulted to the numpad as if to say “TAKE YOUR HAND OFF THE WAY YOU MOVE AND TARGET THINGS”???)

    I dunno, I may need to get back into LoL for a fair comparison.

    • Squirly says:

      The donkey’s controls are actually newly created specifically for Dota 2. Hit H to select him, F to call him to your hero. And some various other shortcuts for sending him to the secret shop or back to base or using his boost. Easy.

      And you can easily change your item shortcut keys. I made mine Z, X and C for the bottom row and I just make sure that any items with abilities I keep in there. The numpad shortcuts are a throwback to the warcraft 3 engine.

      • NyuBomber says:

        I’ve already changed the item hot keys to the number row above QWERTY. Feels intuitive. The problem is that for someone just getting into these games, they probably don’t have RTS-centric reflexes or hand-eye coordination, meaning that the numpad doesn’t come naturally for hitting such important things as Dota2′s active items.

        I still don’t like the donkey.

        I do like the meta and creep denying and graphical style and the map (runes, in-field shops, secret shops, etc.) and how everybody’s selectable.

      • Rivalus says:

        I actually dislike the NumPad. It render useless in notebook keyboard.

  23. Zyrxil says:

    You can deselect yourself in Dota 2? I mean, I understand where that’s from, Dota 1 being being built on top of an RTS engine, but that’s incredibly stupid that you can still do that in Dota 2. Dota 2 just sounds like a hipster game- you don’t get to be a cool MOBA player if you can’t put up with intentional bullshit.

    • Tau Psi says:

      Look at comments above. Deselecting makes sense in Dota.

    • stillunverified says:

      A+ comment if you were trying to create a tutorial on how to write worthless opinions.
      Don’t know anything about something? Insult it!

    • rabbs says:

      I hope this is a joke. There are many things that require multiple unit selection, i.e. Helm of the Dominator, Illusion rune, many hero pets, courier, the list can go on.

      It’s been a standard of RTS games since forever.

    • aspabd says:

      Needing to control multiple units at a time and having to check teammates items. There is also no menu to see everyone’s items and last hits.

      You select enemies heroes in order to check their items and mana, then make gameplay decisions accordingly.

  24. markcocjin says:

    Hey RPS, could you get a writer who can micromanage to play Dota 2 and review it? This lady despite her long history of Dota seems to be not good at it. I mean, she loses control of her hero and does not know where it is on her screen. She does not even know how to manage a courier.

    It’s like the only think she likes about Dota was that she finds it mysteriously difficult to play after years of experience with it.

    • Vorphalack says:

      This is not a review of Dota 2, it’s an opinion peace. Take it or leave it.

    • X_kot says:

      Ahhh, the stereotypical DOTA player: long on gaming prowess, short on social niceties.

    • Vando says:

      Everyone knows that people with good micro are incapable of stringing engaging sentences together.

      It’s like, a min/maxing thing, or something.

    • PodX140 says:

      Ok, that’s way too insulting and unnecessary, but to be completely honest? He may have a point. Dota is pretty large on the micro; item builds, last hitting, denying, jungling, smoke ganks, all that jazz, so to dislike micro so much that you don’t manage a courier is pretty large. Especially since the courier is simply “click icon, buy items, hit f”

      It just makes us players feel like we got neglected in an entire department. Though there is no need to be so brash about it.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Agreed, the initial comment was too harsh. That said, I find it very odd that on one hand Cara sings the praises of LoL where “You touch up casting keys QWER as if they are keys on a piano”, yet controlling the courier – which is basically done by practicing a couple of keyboard scales (in my setup “BDF”, “BDFR”, and sometimes “BWR” if I need something from secret shop) until they are memorized – is a hassle.

        Note to everyone who wants to try DOTA: Do not click on the courier button to control him. Go into options, and set the “select courier” key to something you can reach easily, or better yet put him in a set control group every time you spawn in, which will teach you how to use control groups consistently. He is your loyal friend and will serve you faithfully if you learn how to give him clear instructions, rather like a tiny sheep dog with wings. If you try to control him with the mouse, he will be more like the dog that stares at the cupcakes in the internet video.

  25. Radiant says:

    I understood maybe 20-30 percent of this article but it was still great.

  26. Codor says:

    Thanks for accepting random people who wanted to play too! I almost said that Eve may not have been a great choice but sort of wanted to see what would happen… I’m a long time LOL player who has quit multiple times over the community and the fact that I’m only moderately competent (ego disclaimer: not totally useless but I started playing with people MUCH better than me so my hidden matchmaking thinks I’m quite good when I’m not…), but come back to love it even more every time. Really great game, put a ridiculous amount of time into it, and I have heard the worst of the community is migrating to DOTA2. Definitely want to try DOTA2 at some point when it’s out to see the difference, I’m one of those who never played the original.

    • Rivalus says:

      I must say, DOTA 2 is much more forgiving than DOTA 1. It’s easier for you to play without knowing the item combination. But you really have to read a lot of guide and use beginner character in the beginning. Also avoid facing human opponent if you dont want to be slaughter. Play against bot for a month and see if you up to the challenge

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        As someone who is still learning DOTA 2, I want to offer a contrasting experience. Do play with bots enough to understand the basic mechanics of the UI, but personally I find human games far more interesting and much less frustrating than bot games after that first week or so.

        Players at the low levels are actually much more forgiving than bots. They tend to be less coordinated, don’t chain stun perfectly, do stupid stuff like standing into fights and feeding you kills, etc. Also in my experience everyone has actually been extremely friendly and fun to play with, minus a few AFKs. I’ve gotten some good advice from people and had some extremely fun pub experiences, despite almost always playing characters I don’t know well.

        But yes, play against bots until you have the basics down, like where the shops are, how to use them, the basic courier controls, etc. I also recommend playing Single Draft, because there seems to be less pressure to be good on your character, as everyone is gambling that they might pull 3 characters they don’t know.

  27. lexoneir says:

    Maybe you should have said: “like a teenage girl fumbling with her first blowjob.”

    But that would have been classless and crude.
    Good thing you didn’t say anything like that.

    • Douchetoevsky says:

      ell oh ell. Does it offend you, yeah?

    • c4llum says:

      Maybe you should have said “like a teenage boy fumbling for his first bowjob”

      Still makes perfect sense and communicates the point. From your comment i am assuming that you are a teenage boy who has recently being fumbling for the clitoris?

      • Soggy_Popcorn says:

        Actually, I believe he was trying to satirize and contrast the blatant hypocrisy displayed by internet white knights, which includes a huge portion of this site’s commenters (and one particular recent article…you know the one). Males sexualizing females in video games — dear Jesus, save us! But a female writer? Suddenly a crass article sexualizing both genders is totally acceptable! (A female can do no wrong — after all, she’s not capable of rape culture or whatever bullshit.)

        And for the record, I enjoyed this article.

  28. mrcalhou says:

    I was reading this and thinking, “Wow, Cara is making LoL to sound like the looters from Atlas Shrugged and DOTA 2 as some sort of Hank Reardon” and then I get to the end of the paragraph and see: “DOTA 2 is an all-powerful Ayn Rand.” I was like WOAH!

    But after having played a few games of DOTA 2, I have to say that I really don’t like it. It felt too claustrophobic compared to League of Legends, and sometimes I had a really difficult time seeing the champions or whatever they are called. But now I know why I couldn’t do anything; I didn’t know I deselect myself. I won’t say League of Legends is the better game, but it is the one I prefer playing.

  29. Vando says:

    I think it was brought up while these LoL sessions were going on (it’s me, I’m da Chased Singed in da OP), but it’s always going to be tough to make a definite suggestion as to which out of LoL or Dota 2 an individual should be recommended to play as the games are ultimately so similar. It would be like trying to suggest which is ‘better’ out of whist and bridge, for example.

    Cara has it right I think: go where your friends are. If you lack friends, or they play both: play both, and see which you prefer. Don’t get suckered by the labels of one being for pros, the other for noobs: both can be played at a casual or elite level, just in different ways. Sometimes two good games are just two good games. Play them! Experience the delicious freedom of not having to pick a side in some dumb bunfight! It’s really quite nice.

    • Tau Psi says:

      Honestly, if you like to play more casually, LoL might be the better game. There are way too many mechanics in Dota to have a good time as beginner without the patience and will to get better (watching some replays/guides). Friends who already play Dota can be of great help, but they have to be patient, too.

      If you are a LoL player with some experience who got bored of LoL (as we did), you can quite easily switch to Dota with minimal preparations (as we did) and you will be rewarded with a much deeper game.

      • Vando says:

        Hmm, good point. I think I’m too deeply ‘in’ with the genre, so I’m taking for granted things like people knowing the basics of how to lane and whatnot. It does feel like LoL might be easier for learning those basics, but I can’t speak from experience at all. I cut my teeth on Dota and it wasn’t ridiculously hard or anything, my most painful learning experience with the genre was HoN because ALL OF THE ITEMS AND HEROES ARE DIFFERENT BUT THE SAME WHERE IS MY MIND AAAAAAAAAAA

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I don’t want to come across as argumentative for the sake of it, but I don’t think DOTA and LoL are actually that similar. I’d argue that comparing these games is akin to debating whether ARMA 2 or Battlefield 3 is the best man shooting game; the simple answer is always that it depends entirely on what sort of experience you want (engine quirks or business models aside, since most people will be able to overlook those if they truly enjoy the game).

      Consider the TP Scroll/recall split. The assertion that the recall system in LoL is in any way “best” is meaningless without considering the surrounding design goals. Removing the TP scroll is a good choice in League, where the focus is on technical character control and lane action (this reinforced by the fact that skills in are overwhelmingly tuned to be used more frequently than in DOTA); but the article doesn’t mention the manifold tactical and strategic choices that are lost by removing the TP Scroll; in streamlining the system into an infinite B button, LoL loses, at minimum:

      * The strategic cost/benefit choices related to trading gold and precious inventory space for mobility
      * The tactical cost/benefit choices related to using the TP now to defend a tower or later to escape a fight/return to base for healing
      * Several tactical tools, i.e. TP’ing home under fire when the enemy is without a stun

      The same analysis could be applied to LoL’s transformation of utility tools such as flash/blink from items into summoner spells, the removal of the courier, and the homogenization of character scaling and roles into a more limited spectrum.

      In short, I think saying “they’re so similar, just play which one your friends play” is ignoring a lot of the important details of each game’s design philosophy and execution. DOTA seems focused on mind games, a series of bluffs and counter-bluffs with everything in play, from which character you choose (unimpeded by efforts to monetize characters) and basic utility abilities acquired on items, to which characters are run in what lane and what their long term in-game goal is. LoL seems to me a codified game of technical aptitude and with streamlined strategic progression, and both teams having roughly the same long term goals and paths to achieving them.

      I think both games do an excellent job of executing and realizing their respective designs; which you enjoy more will vary based on whether you want a brawling RPG-style action game, or a demanding RTS hybrid with all the complexity and sometimes fiddly controls such a game entails.

      Apologies for the dissertation; obviously I feel strongly about the ideas being discussed here.

  30. Rubyace says:

    I’ve come up with the term Fast Action Multiplayer FAM. It does not really interfere with anything else as other games already have their genres narrowed down. But that is just my idea.

  31. ChoppazAndDakka says:

    Just want to point out for all people talking about losing control of your hero in Dota 2: that only happens if you select the courier or a minion. Otherwise you never lose control of your hero. Even when another hero is shown in the UI, click any button to perform an action and your hero will automatically be brought back to the UI and you will perform that action. So say I click on a hero to check their stats, then right click to move somewhere. My hero will move there even though another hero was shown on the HUD. So “losing control of your hero” is not a valid excuse for having problems in a fight unless you are playing a hero with minions or were using courier.

  32. razorblade79 says:

    Cara, the genre is officially called Fantasy Action Real Time Strategy, or short FARTS, now. Seriously.

  33. Randomgerbil says:

    Shameless plug for the RPS DotA 2 group on steam/the forums:

    We meet reguarly (at least 2 events a week), and all skill ranges are welcome. Coaching is available for newer players, and for the most part, it’s a pretty fun group of people to play with.

    All you need to know if you’re intrested is right here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?5745-Rock-Paper-Dota2

  34. JackShandy says:

    Isn’t it true that League of Legends gives you a weak version of the hero, and you have to grind to get the normal one – even if you pay?

    That’s what I’ve heard, and it seems totally crazy to choose that over a game that gives you 100% free access to all heroes, fully powered, right from the start.

    • medwards says:

      this is not true. You might be thinking of runes, but you can grind a useable set of those for a wide variety of champions.

      • c4llum says:

        Like this guy said you might be thinking of runes but they are earned with ip (you can’t buy them with cash to get ahead) and since you will be matched with people of a similar level they won’t have a big rune advantage or anything. Also most people just don’t buy any runes at all until level 20 when you unlock tear 3 runes (because tear 1 runes give negligible stats and tear 2 runes, though decent, are just stop-holders for tear 3)

        • JackShandy says:

          League of Legends wiki says:

          “A rune is an enhancement that the summoner provides for their champion before a match on a field of justice begins to augment the champion’s abilities.
          Runes can be purchased with Influence Points from the Riot Store. Each rune grants a small bonus in a specific category, which stack upon each other to grant larger bonuses.”

          So, you have to grind to get these runes, and a hero is only at full power once he has every relevant rune? That’s what I thought was happening, and it sounds absolutely terrible. You shouldn’t have to grind to get better at a competitive game.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            I agree that at their core, runes and masteries (basically a WoW talent tree for you as a player) are tacked on systems that have no real reason to be in the game – other than to provide a source of persistent CoD style progression, that is.

            That said, they are not really connected to the business model in any way. I think Riot truly thought they would add some level of fun to the game, since all but the most hardcore gamers do tend to like having those micro progression goals to work towards.

            In practice, except on a few specific characters that are really rune reliant, you could play with no runes at all and not be at a significant disadvantage for hundreds of games. Further, getting a full set of runes will happen easily if you actually enjoy the game and play it.

            Now, I have a lot of issues with LoL’s design philosophy. But while I don’t like the runes and masteries, and think from a pure game design perspective they are extraneous and could be cut, I also don’t think they are really doing that much harm compared to, say, requiring you to spend money to unlock a reasonable number of champions.

    • c4llum says:

      That my dear, dear friend is absolute bullshit. You pay for the champ with ip or rp and that’s it. Champs do not get stronger with age.

  35. Rot says:

    Really love these articles even though I hardly touched LoL or the original DOTA myself. The isometric view doesn’t really work for me because I suck at clicking about, it’s why I play 2 different online arena games called Smite and Awesomenauts. Curious if you would explore those 2 MOBA games, I would recommend both to anyone even though Smite is still in closed/open beta(as most would have noticed keys of Smite are being thrown around all the internet).

  36. medwards says:

    I can’t find it anymore but there was a LOL or HON video that I watched to help me decide which to DL. Its LOL tilted a bit, so they add this bullet point near the end that went something like “Some people have pointed out that Riot really heavily sexualizes its women but this isn’t true because there are gnome people and their women have normal sized breasts.”

    I laugh about this every time I notice the fact that all normal-human shaped women wear high heels in the game. I think the new character Diana doesn’t based on the art which surprised me.

  37. RegisteredUser says:

    “Women Fighters In Unreasonable Armour”? “You can tap that like it is legal”.

    is what the article told me.

    *dons assless chaps and leaves after a last coy look over his shoulder*

  38. aldrenean says:

    The problem with LoL is that all those nice little touches that ease a new player’s game, like free base TPs and stronger towers and cheaper abilities, do have an impact on the game, and it is not a positive one. It makes laning much more passive, and as such makes the entire game much more set in stone. It’s why competitive matches in LoL follow the exact same formula almost every time, while any 2 games of DotA could peak at entirely different points depending on the team lineup.

    The differences are subtle and not noticeable to someone who is just picking up MOBAs, but if you spend hundreds of hours getting to a super high ELO on LoL, it will be as ashes in your mouth once you tire of the stale strategy and bland heroes. Riot balances for two things: accessibility and profit. A competitive game that isn’t balanced with the pinnacle of competition in mind is deeply, systemically flawed.

  39. ChocolateWaffle says:

    Great article! Also I personally call this kind of games like this very website: RPS – Role Playing Strategy. Fits like a glove all the things they contain.

    On the game: I’ve always found hilarious how LoL contradicts its own design:

    -Tries to be more simple, no “burden of knowledge”, but then adds masteries and runes that require the player to know which are best.

    -Tries to make the game casual, so even people with no spare time can have fun, adds rune and champion grinding that requires several hours a week to keep up with releases.

    -Tries to make the game more combat oriented, makes skills altogether weaker and less satisfying.

    -Tries to remove DotA mechanics so games are more fast paced and don’t drag on, adds regenerative barracks (inhibitors) a billion times stronger towers, and all the champions need to grind a ton of items to even do anything.

    -Removes denying to encourage PVP from the beginning of the game, makes skills a billion times weaker and depending on farmed items to do any considerable damage.

    -Makes regenerative inhibitors/barracks to allow comebacks, games are 99% of the time snowball stomps since everyone needs item farm and scaling to even do anything, can’t buy hexes or any other helpful items.

    And the list could go on with every and any change they did to separate from DotA.

    Other bad decisions include the original “All items are passive, old item actives are summoner spells”, later they made some of them active because everyone asked for them, but the summoner spell system was already in place: take your pick! You have a spell everyone had for free (Fortify), a Teleport that you could get with 135g, but here has a billion times more cooldown, or a blink skill that took ages of farming to buy. Tough choice, huh?

    Is LoL bad? Probably not. Do I hate it? No, but some of the decisions Riot takes in many updates make me wanna stab my eyes out. It still feels, especially lately, that Riot is only out there for your wallet, sexy boobies, sexy skins, cute little furry creatures, 30 buck legendary skins, and a steady bunch of 6300 IP releases so people that can’t play 100 hours a week feel forced to put cash for the bundle if they want the new shiny champion. Balance also seems to swing towards this: new assassin coming out that recycles skills from another 2-3? Nerf those, release new one op, wait for everyone to buy then restore balance to the force. Last summer the trend was to spam tanky dps, autumn was more of a “2.0 version of that other guy” trend, winter-spring saw a bunch of “we take concepts or just entire skills from DotA and add Riot trademark skills to them: a gap closer, a shield and an on hit effect”, and last 4 champions seem to start a trend of “one interesting gimmick, the rest of the design is stuff you’ve already seen a billion times”: Jayce changes forms, rest is unimaginative, Zyra grows buds into plants, rest of skills and effects not too amazing, Diana has a curved skillshot, rest reminds of Akali and Ahri, Rengar has the cool passive and his item, rest are generic hunter skills.

    Almost feels as if they were taking yesterday’s leftovers, reheated them, added some fancy decorations (and boobies) and sold them again to you, it’s a game that is AFRAID to innovate, to be radical, to release something crazy and changing, to try and see if people like it, instead they stick to what they know: average joe likes to play a durable guy that blinks, shields himself, “his next attack does bonus damage and extra effect” and ult is a big teamfight AOE? sure, release more of it, average joe will be happy, but maybe “Johnny” will start getting tired of your game and move on. No idea who this Johnny guy is? this article is an interesting read then: http://www.crocout.com/2012/07/06/why-league-of-legends-is-currently-unsustainable-as-an-esport/

  40. xotesi says:

    Well she said it herself. She said she sucks so she went into a more simpler game. Just Means DOTA2 takes more skills than she can comprehend.

  41. peripherys says:

    This is why Carachan prefers LoL.

    Because she’s horrible at DotA – Behold: her Dota Playerstats

    http://stats.dota2.be/player/83304768

  42. myhouse says:

    Please stop calling them MOBAs. Pretty please. It’s possibly the most nonsensical term for anything ever. If you can think of a multiplayer game there’s a good chance you could call it a MOBA. Quake 3 is a Multiplayer game played Online in which you Battle in an Arena. World of Warcraft has Multiplayer Online Battles in a literal Arena.

    Also I’m pretty sure you can’t out and out say that DotA2 is a worse game than LoL because you’re bad at DotA.

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