As MOBAs continue to gain favor and increase in popularity (proportionally, it seems, with eSports), people are craving more options. It seems right now all we have to choose from are League of Legends, DOTA, Heroes of the Storm, and Smite. Of course, if you’re hardcore and underground like I am, you’re all about Magicka: Wizard Wars. Be that as it may, 2016 is really going to shake things up for competitive players and aspiring eSports stars. There are three games coming out this year that all MOBA fans have their sights set on and one of them, from Blizzard, isn’t even a MOBA. All three look great, but if you’re on a budget, you’re going to have to choose. So which one is for you? Earn to die 5
Battleborn is a game I’ve had my eye on for a while. I was a huge Borderlands fan when the game first came out, so anything Gearbox does I usually pay attention to. Battleborn really excites me because it’s something different from Gearbox, but it still feels familiar in a lot of ways. Obviously this is primarily an FPS experience, but it still feels very much like a MOBA in a few ways. There are 25 heroes here to choose from, and they’ll get stronger and take advantage of various perks the more you use them. You can play in various PvP or story modes, some of which (Incursion specifically) are more MOBA than others. In every match your hero will continually level up, and with each level you’ll choose one of two upgrades available, constantly tailoring your character to serve your play-style more perfectly. It’s a great formula, and it keeps things fresh. Of course the classic Gearbox humor is ever-present, and that makes a big difference during the story missions, all of which play out like some kind of dark Saturday morning cartoon episode. The open beta is now live, and it’s a ton of fun. If you love Gearbox, this one is a no-brainer. earn to die
Overwatch is without a doubt Battleborns’s biggest competitor, and will likely be one of the biggest games released this year. Blizzard knows how to make a multiplayer game. Hell, MOBAs were borne from Starcraft mods, and Heroes of the Storm is one of big MOBAs actually broadcast on major networks. Now, true fans will tell you that Overwatch isn’t a MOBA; it’s an arena shooter. It’s more Team Fortress 2 than Heroes of the Storm. Yes, there are many classes that perform different roles (tank, DPS, healer, etc.), but you won’t be fighting off waves of minions to level up or any of that nonsense. This is more geared for the competitive FPS crowd. The fact that there are so many characters, all with fantastic personalities, is just a bonus. If you’re looking for the purest run’n’gun experience, Overwatch is for you. Check out the open beta on May 3, which is actually the same day Overwatch comes out, but that’s probably just a coincidence (or not).
If you’ll notice, I started off the article with Battleborn, which is kind of a mashup between an FPS and a MOBA. Then we have Overwatch, which is more of a straight-forward shooter. Now we have Epic’s Paragon, which it unapologetically labels a MOBA plain and simple. Paragon is arguably the most mature game of the batch as well, aesthetically speaking, and takes impressive advantage of Unreal Engine. If Smite just didn’t do it for you, Paragon is the game you’re going to want to check out. Three lanes, endless minions, towers to destroy, a base to conquer, lots of classes, tons of upgrades… and did I mention free to play? Epic has stated and emphasized that this won’t be a pay-to-win game; all of the cards you need to properly upgrade your favorite heroes you’ll be able to unlock through regular play. Cross-play between PS4 and PC will be enabled, and there are built in tools for sharing, exporting, and creating gifs from your better moments.
So which game are you most excited about? Honestly I’ll be playing all three, especially since Paragon is free-to-play. If I had to pick one I’d probably go for Overwatch because I’m a bit of a MOBA noob. I spent ample time playing the Battleborn beta, though, and its hybrid style was welcoming as well as novel. Decisions, decisions!