3 MOBAs That Stole League of Legends Fans in 2016

While still the most played game in the world, 2016 saw flaws form in League’s dominance, letting some other MOBAs fill in the cracks.

2016 saw League of Legends start out on the back foot, in a way. Changes to the ranked formula earned a lot of ire from players. Continual reworks to the jungle and questionable balancing decisions are nothing new, but it seemed that this year more people finally decided enough was enough.

As such, for the first time in a long time, the dominance of League of Legends seemed to waver briefly. The massive success and huge surge in popularity of Overwatch upon its release didn’t help matters, either. As a result, it seemed like a number of players chose to jump ship to Blizzard’s shooter, if not entirely other games. More than ever, some of the niche MOBAs were able to pull these departing players into their fold and show that yes, there’s more to the genre than Summoner’s Rift.

This might have been temporary, however, since once the dust settled, LoL was back at the top of the PC game hierarchy. Sure, there are still problems and questionable decisions going on, but that doesn’t stop the game from being in a much-improved state. Despite this, other MOBAs are looking stronger than ever following the exodus.

If you’re looking for an alternative to League, consider some of these games!

Battlerite

The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre is hardly able to be expressed more purely than it is in Battlerite. It’s all there in the genre title: this is an arena where you fight to the death purely based on your skills. No objectives. No lanes. Just raw skirmishes and all-out brawls.

For many who have come from League, the comparative simplicity belied by the mechanical expertise required is a breath of fresh air. With nothing else to worry about aside from your talent selection each round, you're able to focus on mastering your character and nothing else.

I’ve covered Battlerite before, and if you haven’t had a chance to play it yet, it’s well worth your time. If the price point is stopping you, keep in mind that it’ll be going Free to Play before too much longer!

Heroes of the Storm

My love for Heroes of the Storm is well documented, and I’ve been advocating for more people to give it a shot since the early days. What's more, 2016 has been a great year for the game, with a slew of interesting new heroes, new maps and solid gameplay improvements. Now more than ever, people are finally starting to sit up and take notice.

It might look a bit simplistic to League players at first, which admittedly it is -- few of the heroes are as mechanically intensive as their counterparts. But that doesn’t mean you can't outplay your counterparts; much of the ability to do so comes from the frequently occurring map objectives and making clever use of them at the right time.

The lack of farming and items means that the game is simple to access but hard to master, and talent choices still make sure that you can tailor make your character to fit the situation. Couple that with shorter game length and a push toward constant brawls and action, and you have an awesome MOBA that’s not afraid to do things differently. There’s never been a better time to play Heroes!

SMITE

Come on, who doesn’t want to be a god that unleashes their divine arsenal on unsuspecting foes? SMITE allows that power fantasy to occur with a wide array of different deities from a number of different pantheons -- all meeting to duke it out!

The key difference between SMITE and League of Legends is the over-the-shoulder camera, giving a much more focused feeling to the game, something akin to a third-person shooter. Having a smaller field of view and needing to aim and place your abilities much more precisely also adds an extra layer of depth to the SMITE.

And as far as “niche” MOBAs go, SMITE has existed for longer than just about any of its counterparts, quietly doing its thing and improving over time. It might never truly erupt to the levels of Dota or League, but it’s active and still growing with a thriving competitive scene.

If you want something that still feels familiar to standard MOBAs but adds an interesting spin on it, there are few better choices than this one.

And there you have it. League of Legends is a far cry from going anywhere or being considered dead, but the examples listed here show that there is definitely room to share the market. There's more than one way to make a MOBA, and people are finally learning that you need not play the one game to the exclusion of all others.

Couple that with the continued success of Overwatch and a number of other titles such as Battlefield keeping the shooter scene alive, and there's arguably never been a better time to be a competitive gamer.

Do you have a different MOBA you prefer than the ones listed? Perhaps you’re a League of Legends veteran that’s made the switch? Let us know about it in the comments!

Published Dec. 4th 2016

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