Bored of DoTA 2? Growing tiresome of League of Legends? Pretty much sick of the same old map design and gameplay that have been permeating these Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games? Fret not: there is a whole wealth of games outside the of the mainstay MoBA selection that might just offer the refreshing take on the genre that you need.
Quick, what’s the biggest problem about MOBA games that every person hoping to get into will tell you? If you answered “Accessibility”, then you’re right on the money. Most MOBA games, especially DoTA and LoL, are so elitist and complex that it turns the newbie player away quicker than Rosie O’Donnell’s sock. Awesomenauts, by Dutch studio Ronimo Games, aims to solve that. The game is essentially the simplification of MOBA game mechanics – so simple that the game runs on a 2-dimensional plane rather than the typical top-down perspective. The mechanics are largely the same – it’s still about pushing forward with your creeps to take down defensive towers, but thanks to the simplified map battles are faster and much more chaotic. There’s no complicated item-purchasing mechanic here. All of your gold goes into purchasing your next upgrade, while your character’s level are tied more towards the amount of money they have, rather than experience. It’s easy to pick up, hard to master – exactly the sort of multiplayer game that belongs to everyone.
SUPER MONDAY NIGHT COMBAT
Before Awesomenauts came along, Monday Night Combat was the first game to try a more refreshing take on the classic MOBA game design. It basically mixes the MOBA game mechanics with a 3rd-person, class-based shooter. The mechanics are also largely simplified – you pick your hero from a large roster and you skirt around taking out creeps to earn cash and experience. Skill trees are much more simplified, as you only have 3 core skills along with some passive upgrades. No item purchasing here – your cash can be best spent purchasing more powerful robots that can help push into enemy territory. Super Monday Night Combat would be the F2P version, which is one of the few free online shooters that keep things balanced for both free and premium players alike. It’s also hard to dislike the colourful characters and the Superbowlstyle setting that comes complete with over-the-top commentators.
Created by the same studios that brought you Tribes: Ascend (which is a very good F2P MMO shooter, mind), Smite takes the more familiar complexity of DoTA and puts it in a more up-close-and-personal 3rd-person perspective. So, essentially, just imagine a traditional MOBA game as you would play it on the ground, with the characters. It’s a very different way of playing, as the perspective gives you a better, further view upfront but leaves your back more vulnerable. Anyway, Smite is undoubtedly complex, and it features an item-purchasing system that quite as complicated as DoTA. But the ability to customise the auto-levelling and auto-item shopping means you can take your brains off micromanagement, and new players can pick a few builds online, let it go to auto and focus on learning the ropes of combat first. Also, the mythology-inspired setting is much more engaging compared to the high-fantasy designs of the rest.