So a lot of people ask me, “Hey Obe, do you like MOBAs? They’re really fun and challenging and you-”
And that’s when I politely stop them there, because despite their recent popularity, no, I don’t like MOBAs. Not in the slightest bit. The typical MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena if you’re not familiar with the term, consist of players controlling one unit battling over the control of multiple lanes guarded by towers of the opposite team. Whoever manages to overpower the enemy’s tower and destroy the enemy base wins the match. There are some more details, but that’s usually the general gameplay in most MOBAs. Players can customize their “hero” with different item loadouts and utilize different strategies like farming minions or gaining experience from mobs hiding in the environment to gain an advantage over their opponent.
So it sounds pretty detailed, right? What’s not to like about it? Well, probably the fact that it’s a boring rip of a single portion of their parent genre, Real Time Strategy Games (RTSs). Giving two shits about MOBAs is something I’ve tried long and hard to do. I’ve played all of the popular MOBAs, like Dota, League of Legends, Smite, ad some others, and found that I couldn’t play more than twenty minutes before wanting to do something else.
To me, you pick a hero, kill some minions, run away from a tower, run forward to kill some more minions, fight off another player, run away from a tower, and continue a mind-numbing game of back and forth minion slaughtering. It’s not engaging, and it certainly doesn’t feel investing to me. Matches usually last longer than 30 minutes, so I’m certainly not getting a huge sense of fulfillment like I would in a different genre. Sure, a StarCraft game might last about the same time, but I get better sense of accomplishment from an RTS’s resource management, squad coordination, and strategic forethought than something like knowing when to use what ability when a Hero is standing near a tower.
And speaking of genres, let’s talk about MOBAs’ link to their parent genre: real time strategy. There are two generally accepted parts to an RTS that make up a big part of the gameplay. How you effectively control large groups of units is called macro management, and how well you control smaller squads is called micro management, and both are referred to as a person’s “Micro” and “Macro”. For example: In a standard RTS like StarCraft II or Age of Empires II, I control larger squads better than I do smaller squads, so I have better macro than micro. Managing huge armies and coordinating attacks between small groups is a huge part of the enjoyment of RTSs, so why someone thought it’d be a good idea to cut out the micro aspect and throw it in to a lane fight with towers is beyond me.
The only time I’ll play a MOBA is if a friend asks me to, and I’ll usually try to duck out of it. The gameplay is just too boring and monotonous, and dancing back and forth between towers and minions is a pretty lame concept when you consider the MOBA genre started off in custom RTS maps from games like StarCraft I and WarCraft III. If you like MOBAs, then I’m not harping on you, but just don’t expect me to fall in love with it a la Dark Cloud, mk?
Honestly, I’d rather play a StraCraft II LAN match with some friends. Being the guy who makes nothing but Banelings in the back of your friend’s allied base is pretty hilarious, especially when he doesn’t notice the huge ball of acidic death, finally finds it, doesn’t know which team they belong to, and nukes them and half of his base along with them just to be sure.