Hey guys, I’ve got another piece from Mick Deakin over at the Game Scene, so enjoy! Also, check out his blog too, here’s a link to his new piece: http://thegamescene.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/moba-and-f2p/
Well, I say “buy” but both games are free. Don’t be fooled though, they may be of the same genre and be clones of the same game, but they are very different. I will also be writing a sister post over at the game scene, so once you’ve finished reading this review, head over and check it out!
In case you don’t know what parent game I’m talking about, here’s a quick history lesson. Once upon a time, there was this little game called Warcraft 3, and people could modify it. One day, someone made a little mod called Defence of the Ancients and it became one of the most successful game mods ever. It even spawned the whole genre that is now called MOBA, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena.
If you let them, these games can suck up a huge about of your time. The rules are simple, but mastery takes a lot of practice. There are 2 bases, top right and bottom left of a square map, and 3 ‘lanes’ between them, top, middle and bottom, with ‘jungle’ filling in the spaces. The goal is to destroy the main building in the enemy base but there are turrets along the lanes getting in the way. Fortunately, both bases spawn minions to help you along the way, and if you get into the enemy base there are buildings that, when destroyed, buff your minions. Your role in all of this is to control a hero or champion and deal the majority of the damage.
Each champion has their own unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses and you have to choose which one you will wreak havoc with before the game starts. Your hero earns experience, to level up through the match and acquire more of their abilities, by killing enemy heroes, enemy minions, enemy towers or neutral monsters, the beasts that call the jungle their home. Landing the killing blow on an enemy minion isn’t necessary to get experience, simply being near them when they die grants you a share of it, but it is needed if you want to get gold. Gold can then be spent on shiny items to buff your hero and get an edge over the competition. Gold is also rewarded when you kill and enemy hero or your team destroys a turret. Yeah, simple…
That’s just about where the similarities end with the two games. Heroes of Newerth (HoN) continued where DotA had left off, using the same stat system and keeping things like denial (killing allied minions to stop enemies getting gold or exp) whereas League of Legends (LoL) took a simpler approach, splitting apart the stats into more descriptive attributes and removing the gold penalties for dying. This means that LoL is a much more intuitive system for the beginner, but HoN is by no means out of reach if you’re a little more determined.
Riot games (the people who make LoL) are also releasing a new game mode soon, which should keep you entertained long after you’ve become bored of the same 3 lanes over and over again.
Lastly, one key factor I find is often missed out of reviews, is the community. HoN is on the back foot here too. Don’t play it if you don’t like being verbally abused, as it’s possibly the worst community I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering. I have even heard of people being quite viciously labelled as “noobs” on servers which advertise as being for “noobs” only. I’m not saying LoL is only full of saintly helpful people, but you may only get an abusive moron once in 10 or more games.
Of course, Valve’s Dota* 2 is coming out soon, and if you really like LoL or HoN you may be tempted to buy it. I know I am. However, it appears to be going along the same lines of HoN and sticking to all the original mechanics. Just something to bear in mind if you really hate HoN’s way of doing things.
* Interesting Fact: Note the ‘a’ not being capitalised. Someone filed a counter patent on the words “Defence of the Ancients” so Dota 2 is technically not the sequel to DotA.