Man! I’m Crap At MOBAs

This is another in my Blaugust series of posts. For the others, you can find them at the tag page here.

A few months ago, on a whim, I decided to try out some games in the MOBA genre. I downloaded League of Legends, Smite, and the newly released Heroes of the Storm over a period of two or three weeks.

Each of those games has a distinct way of playing. There are similarities: they’re all lane based battles, they all have a collection of heroes or gods (in the case of Smite) that you can select from, and they’re all multiplayer (in that there’s no progression when playing bots.)

And while the bots are there for practice, man I found them hard, with no way to tone down the difficulty. And the bots had nothing on the human players. I was smashed time and time again. The biggest problem I had, apart from inexperience, was confusion. So much happening on the screen with explosions, minions, and visual effects, that it was hard to keep track of what was going on half the time.

I’m sure, that if I kept playing, then I would have improved. No one gets anywhere without at least a small amount of practice, and that goes with any game, or real world activity. But when I’m playing a game I look for more than just doing the same thing over and over. If I have to grind, I need other things to do as well.

Ultimately, I felt that this kind of game isn’t what I’m into. It’s not so much that I was beaten down on each game I attempted, even though that was discouraging. It’s just that I’m not a PvPer by nature. I’m really not all that competitive, I don’t feel the need to be better than anyone else. I don’t mind some PvP, but I kind of want it on my terms. That doesn’t mean I care if someone is better than me, I just want to choose when and where I PvP, if I happen to be in a competitive mood.

And I discovered something else about MOBAs while I was there. There’s only one map. Maybe some variations. There’s three lanes, surrounded by jungles, with towers and bases at predefined locations, and you play that every single game. What varies is the role you play using the selected hero. Now I know a lot of people like this. A lot of people like tennis too, where the court design hasn’t changed in two hundred years. But this is also why I’m not a raider in MMORPGs.

I like going on a raid. A few times. But then I want to do something else. I don’t understand how raiders do it, running the same dungeon dozens sometimes hundreds of times in order to kill the boss and get the loot. To me that’s tedious. And that, from what I can see, is the MOBA. Doing the same map over and over and over again.

So yeah. I’m crap at MOBAs. How about you?


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  1. Jeromai

    I really want to learn to enjoy MOBAs, despite a general lack of competitive nature. I enjoy -watching- pros go at it, and how little nuances can swing a match from favoring one side to another, despite it being the same map every time.

    Two things always end up in my way. One, the toxicity of the community – it’s commonplace to trash talk, it attracts a type of asshole that think they can do no wrong and always place the blame on others, which in a ten person match means there’s usually one, if not more, busy ruining the game for everyone else.

    And two, how time-consuming MOBAs tend to be – each match takes 30-40 minutes, that’s a really long investment of time to see results.

    1. Stropp (Post author)

      I did watch one match, and enjoyed it, but I was trying to see how the pros played it. I’m not really a sports watcher (except for the V8s) so tend to do other things instead.

      I was fortunate in that I didn’t encounter any overt toxic behaviour. There were a couple of times when I was queuing for a game, and the game kept getting cancelled. I think players were joining, realizing there was a total noob on their side, and dropping out. That went on for about 20 minutes. Other than that no-one got nasty in the game even if I played badly.

      The time thing, maybe. There are not a lot of competitive or even multiplayer games where a match is over quickly. Starcraft, WoW Battlegrounds and the like tend to take at least 20 minutes often more. Still I take your point. Perhaps some shorter quicker matches would be better, especially for new players who need to get experience a lot more quickly.

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus

    I am probably crap at MOBAs, but I found the game play so uninteresting that I stopped playing long before I had gotten past the basic new player badness. My own level of badness had not yet been revealed. Basically MOBAs feel like a one-unit RTS to me. Dull both to play or to watch.

    1. Stropp (Post author)

      If you’re going to invest all that time to get good at something like that, it ought to be fun and interesting to play too, right?

      I’m just guessing, but I reckon there’s so much money in the competitions that players see the dollar signs and are willing to grind to get there. Or is that a bit too cynical?

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