What is a MOBA game? Man versus man—a perpetual conflict across many forms of medium and real life. When there is a situation where a fight is needed, there will be a slugfest. If the fight requires the presence of many others, then a game is what you require.
A team-based video game is a hard sell anywhere in the world. Cooperation aimed at an enemy’s destruction is a fun way to spend your time playing video games.
Despite how it looks, cooperation is the hardest goal to come together on in a game. Multiplayer Online Battle Arena is a term coined by Riot Games to describe their game, League of Legends.
While Valve tags Dota 2 as an Action Real Time Strategy game, Riot’s tag caught on much better. The genre revolves around these two juggernaut titles, born from the same mod, that was a product of another mod.
MOBA Character Controls
MOBAs require the existence of two teams fighting for the goal of destroying each other’s base. This essential part of the MOBA was once limited to players fighting against a CPU-controlled opponent.
Aeon of Strife was a Starcraft mod that pioneered the idea of players fielding one character instead of an army. The idea of fighting other player-controlled characters came after AoS during the early days of DotA. MOBAs are a simplification of the RTS genre, and this enticed players who didn’t quite fit in Starcraft and other RTS.
With agency over one character, skill expression went from army movement to character control. Controlling other units still had a place in MOBAs but wasn’t the main component for most characters.
Knowledge of the character became essential, as well as their matchups against others. Counter-play had a more fundamental role in being able to win games, and with it, the macro perspective of the game.
The iconic shape of the MOBA genre came into popularity during the Defense of the Ancients era. With the rise of modern MOBAs, this shape became the map by which most MOBAs follow. One team in the bottom left, another in the top right, meeting towards the middle, top, and bottom corners.
A river separated the territory of the two teams, and within their territory reside jungle creatures. When a hero takes down these creatures, they get gold, experience, and other bonuses the game provides.
There are map gimmicks, as well, that are unique to each game. Dota has Roshan, and League has Baron Nashor. Dota 2 has periodic rune spawn in the rivers, and League has a host of tactical plantlife.
The gimmicks add a layer to the macro strategy that occurs in these games, and sometimes victory hinges on them. Then there are the main structures that serve as the win condition for both teams. Defensive towers line the lanes to make destroying the base structure longer.
The quintessential MOBA is not without team play at its core. Taking down a structure on the other side of the map protected by players can be a task. Getting the edge over the other team requires coordination from everybody.
If one person doesn’t do their part of the plan, the team can fall apart over the enemy. Not making an enemy out of your team is obvious, but is a reminder all the same.
When a team comes together to achieve goals like sieging or ganking an enemy, their advantage grows. After a certain point in the game, that advantage becomes irreversible and nets that team the victory. MOBAs are hard to play with a messy team—make sure to have everyone on the same page.