Hello and welcome to Nubtrain's blog about DOTA vs LoL: The Unending Battles. We'll be taking a look at the differences in both games, whether X game is better than Y and company design principles. So enjoy the read both new and seasoned players!
Disclaimer: I will try my best to be as non-bias as possible!
Note: Will add more pictures when I have more time.
Borrowing the concept from Aeon of Strife gave birth to Defense of the Ancients which in-turn spawned games like League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Demigods, etc. The most successful spawn of DotA is League of Legends which had about 1.3 million active players at its peak (at the current writing time). League of Legends was very successful thanks to its easier accessibility and free2play model while DotA suffered in countries other than Asian countries mainly due to Warcraft 3 being needed to play. Since DotA was a mod in another game, it was very limited to what it can offer to players like the reconnect feature, while being very in-accessible to new players and the graphics became very dated which pushed away potential gamers. With the aid of some Valve employees that love playing DotA, Icefrog was hired by Valve and started developing a sequel free from any limitations called DOTA 2. Even in BETA, DOTA 2 is doing very well in the eSPORTS scene with sponsered tournaments like The Defense, joinDOTA Masters and The Internationals. With teams like Na'Vi, M5 and Mousesports taking their chances, the future of DOTA 2 is secured since competition is the driving force in any business.
What's The Feature
You'll be paired against other accounts at your level range and you'll be at an even footing with other low level accounts(until level 20). If you pair up with a high level friend, you'll also pair up with other players doing the samething. There's even a tutorial tab under the big red PLAY button on the main menu that guides you to understand the basic gameplay and mechanics of the game.
You can also spectate a live game that your friends are playing in the friends list and shows the current status of both teams in that specific match. You can see the gold advantages and have vision of everyone's champion. Not only that you can "go back in time" in the spectate mode and see what happened previously. To counter cheating there is a 3 minute delay so friends don't hop on the spectate feature and tell everyone what the enemy is doing.
Unfortunately an official replay system was not developed (yet) for League of Legends and players have to use a third party software to record older games. Riot did mention that they'll implement one but for now we'll be relying on a buggy system from leaguereplays.
To understand what spells a champion uses and their pro/cons, you can inspect that champion which holds information on ways to play correctly play and tips to beat to that champion.
User interface is minimalistic with the option to turn off the wall that blocks the lower screen so that you can get as much information as possible visually during the match.
Currently, League of Legends has four maps available to play which cater to all types of gamers. Those who want something short can play Dominion, a capture the flag type of game. There is also ARAM (All Random All Mid) map where players can dish it out in one lane and a 3v3 map where the map is much smaller making gameplay much shorter while retaining a somewhat competitive community. Then there is the standard 5v5 map where all balance changes are focused heavily on and the most popular.
DOTA 2 is still in BETA but offers a lot of features that supports both the competitive and public scenes for example an INGAME MIC SYSTEM. When completed, DOTA 2 will offer a tutorial system by having other players coach newer players on how to play. Guides will also be offered in the client written by players to help new DOTA players get started. Though this system is not offered yet it is currently in development with examples like the HEROPEDIA and the videos showing each spell use.
DOTA 2 also offers a replay system which allows anyone to look up your exact name and a list of games will be shown. You can also watch live games from strangers under the [WATCH] tab or spectate your friends in the friends menu.
Valve is also heavily supporting competitive tournaments by allowing players to spectate all matches of that specific tournament for a small price.
In each tournament there are 4 possible broadcasters like joinDOTA|Tobi-wan to cast epic battles which can be heard ingame so for people will weak/unstable internet connections, you don't have to go watch a stream.
In addition, you can buy team pennants to support the team that is currently playing so that they can make some money in the process. In both games, making a good income in esport is very tough and Valve is doing a great job supporting them. Not only can you help your favorite team make an income, you also have a chance to win free cosmetic items when witnessing a first blood, triple kill, etc.
Though DOTA 2 only has the classic 5v5 map for now, it still retain it's popularity through both competitive and public scenes. DOTA's map allow funny moments that otherwise won't happen (or rarely) in LoL's 5v5 map. For example:
Here's the DOTA 2 mini-map to look at :)
Though it's still in beta, DOTA 2's GUI is very clunky and has a lot of wasted space. Unlike LoL's minimalistic GUI, Valve has yet to implement any option to remove the wall that blocks up a good portion of the screen(which many have stated they didn't like). GUI however is never final since DOTA 2 is still in BETA and we will have to wait and see what it will be like when the final official version of DOTA 2 is finally released.
Company Design Principle:
The Free-to-Play Business Models
Older champions tend to be much cheaper as more players get them and/or the current demand; for example: Ashe for 260 IP points or 450 RP and Vayne for 6300 IP or 975 RP. You can also buy runes which are powerups that affect the stats of the champion and you would of buy the bunch you need to complete your champion. Though you cannot buy with real cash, you can boost the amount of incoming IP with boosters by spending a bit of cash.
This system adds a bit of customization and adds an MMORPG progression element as your account levels up, instead of farming boars, you're farming games. You get more IP when you've successfully completed a game and it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, you still get IP. If opposing team surrenders and you win (or vise-versa), you get less IP than if they didn't surrender which is the case in most games. You'll also get more IP if that specific game has been playing longer.
So the question is, does this affect you at all? Yes it does, Riot's system has a huge influence which greatly determines the structure and its building blocks of League of Legends. Though you'll eventually get everything if you play more games but progression of IP is extremely slow. You'll have to play about 10-15 games (including first win of the day) and with games averaging about 35 mins that's about 6-8 hours of gaming for ONE champion.
In this genre, knowing how each hero/champion operates is a must in any ARTS/MOBA game but to actually have the champion in your arsenal is another story. To sustain this type of business model Riot has to design champion(s) every month and with each new hero a balance change will happen, a strengthen or nerf patch. (Note: Zyra was released a patch ago)
This business practice results in champions having similar type of spells, feel or overall design choices for the role they're in(especially the newer champions), i.e: Viktor vs Ziggs. So as champions become more similar, it's causing some champions to be rarely played since this X champion has similar spells/role and does a better job at it, i.e: Wukong vs Xin Zhao.
Another issue with gameplay is that you have to have the runes for that champion to be at an even footing with other level 30 players. You'll most likely lose your lane if you're a fresh level 30 going against seasoned players simply because s/he got more power-ups than you. Solution? Play a lot of games or spend some cash and that all ties into your level of patience and supply of cash.
If you're an impatient gamer but love playing LoL or someone who doesn't have time to play but have money, you're the main customers Riot target. From the bottoms-up League of Legends is designed to be a casual version of DOTA by removing all the "dated" or "anti-fun" mechanics and replacing them with a streamlined experience.
All heroes are unlocked with no cost and you're given a similar type of account progression with Battle Level/Points. You steadily progress in "Battle EXP" and upon leveling up you're given a free item, that's it. At the end of each match, you also have a chance to win one item with different levels of rarity, higher the rarity the cooler it looks (usually).
The Workshop, another feature in Valve's f2p model, gamers are given a chance to "craft" items for each hero and when models are approved by Valve, you're given a percentage of the money earned. Valve's thinking is that there are a lot of smart people outside the company so why not open the market to those amazing designers. This system relieves stress from Valve's own employees and opens for more awesome designed items.
In addition to their free to play model, the skins in DOTA 2 are sold as individual parts with prices that depends on the level of design and rarity. Gamers are able to view unapproved item/sets and rate them according to the level of design which in-turn shows a quantitative number of demand. Customization for the look of that hero is limitless since Valve is able to create a self-sustaining system that have free-lance designers model for them and that works for everyone, the broke/asain/working/rich people. This speeds up the development of DOTA 2 to be released officially much quicker since Valve's designers can worry about modeling heroes and ui instead of skins, etc. This model is does very well that S2 Games changed their method of payment by switching from LoL's f2p model to DOTA 2's f2p model.
What does this button do?
An alternative to juking with Fog of War are bushes, they're to cover champions from unsuspecting preys (unless there is a ward to reveal them). This makes early action in public games at top/bot a bit intense if players are aggressive since bushes help you get the first hit in. If you die in LoL you will not lose gold upon death which in-turn helps you get your items much faster than in DOTA especially if you were on the losing side. Some DOTA abilities are summoner spells in LoL. For example, Flash is a Blink Dagger on a very long cooldown or Ignite which is a single target Ancient Apparition's Ice Blast. All in all, the gameplay features are to make the gameplay experience much more streamlined for all players.
Though not losing gold upon death is probably the biggest influence on how the gameplay runs in League of Legends. This makes roaming much less effective since there is no point in having that roamer be so far behind in levels if it's not successful. Only a few champions like Evelynn can make use of roaming successful since one she has a passive invisibility that only breaks upon combat and the other viable option is Alistar who do not need much levels to be effective. This forces gameplay in competitive matches to be very passive unless the chance presents itself in high ELOs. Players rather farm than risk losing out on EXP and potential gold if isn't worth it. That's why jungling is very effective since it causes disturbance in the free-farm flow and technically allows 3 solo champions in each team. There is also counter-jungling to slow down the other jungler in levels and that means less ganks from them. Though counter-jungling is now less effective since Riot nerfed the jungle twice(or three... forgot) making it easier and faster to clear through.
All of these gameplay choices forces a standard metagame of 1 bruiser top, 1 AP mid and 1 AD carry with support champion bot. The viability of each champion for their role depends on the balance changes Riot makes for example, why choose Viktor mid when you can choose Ahri who is much more mobile and harder to kill. Another example is Olaf vs Garen at top, Olaf has better sustain with Vicious Strikes and damage than Garen since Garen relies on his passive Perservance to continue fighting; Garen's damage is also heavily based on his cooldowns and they're pretty long.
In competitive play there is also a lot less ganking compared to DOTA since towers deal a lot more damage to champions early game and is harder to avoid wards unless you go into their jungle entrance near the middle lane. There is no item similar to Smoke of Deceit in LoL and because of that, mid game doesn't happen as quick as DOTA. To kill the ward, someone has to spend money on a vision ward which is the support job but to be a good support you cannot steal farm from AD carry. So it takes a while to destroy the standard two wards the support carries. It's easier to gank blue team bot and red team top since there is a way to intersect opposing enemy if they're pushed far but that's the only option if ward is still up. In most good teams, lane equilibrium will be steady unless one is being aggressive and the current metagame have not changed in about a year. Causing some players who play LoL on a regular basis bored unless played with friends, even then that will eventually get boring.
Unlike the system in LoL however, there isn't an account level bracket that pits you against other accounts of the same level range. Newer players in DOTA will sometimes(maybe it's because the current player-base is smaller) be put against veterans of DOTA and get stomped so they'll have to find ways to learn the game by other means. Valve knows this and that's why they want to include in-game systems where veteran players teach new or less experienced players on how to play more effectively by watching replays together and have an incentive to help the community. If new players are having trouble, they can play BOTS with difficulties that match their skill level, BOTS in DOTA 2 are pretty good compared to LoL's.
Juking in DOTA is much more dynamic than LoL's overall system. Other than using their hero abilities to keep stayin' alive, players in DOTA abusive Fog of War and line of sight to take advantage of the situation in hope to stall for allies, live or get a kill. Trees in DOTA serve as the basis for the jukes as they act like barriers, blocking both path and vision. You're able to destroy trees which allows for awesome moments to happen.
Learning how to position yourself is game breaking in either forms of DotA games. If you're positioned terribly and died, not only did you give gold to the enemy and lose time on farm, you also lost gold based on your level. This single mechanic allow roaming to be much more effective since you're essentially destroying a player's income. Added to the fact that ganking becomes much more frequent since you want to shut down that lane completely. Since the game allow people to buy Town Portals that teleport to friendly structures, counter-ganking/retaliation happens very often too.
Towers don't do as much damage compared to LoL's tower so tower diving (but very still risky) is not as punishing if it was solely just taking tower damage. Since you can teleport to a friendly structure, other players can assist that "being ganked" player(s). DOTA's tower are much more tanky to compensate the damage and smarter too. If there are no creep minions attacking the tower and you're the first to attack it. The tower will redirect its attack towards you. The tower shoots fast and has a long range so you will take a significant amount of damage if you run out of range. If you're ganking or being ganked, there are areas next to your tier1 tower where you can juke to try to stay alive as long as possible for reinforcements.
DOTA's gameplay also revolves around a lot more on counter-picking, team composition and building the right items for the current situation. Foe example, Windrunner is good at surviving against auto attackers with Windwalk and can fill in many roles from mid laner, support, semi-carry, etc (That's because of Windrunner well designed). Another example is Mekansm which is a mandatory support item, effectively adds about 250 hp to all heros or Pipe of Insight which counter heroes like Sand King or Zeus from doing as much damage to the team. DOTA also has multiple metas stretching from pushy strategies, aggressive strategies, standard 1 hardcarry/semicarry/initator/x2support, turtle, etc. Each strategies have their pro and cons, for example, heavy push strategies lose their strength if their pushing is successfully stopped and heading towards late game since a majority of pushing heroes are strong mid-game heroes.
Many heroes have more than one role to play like Crystal Maiden who is a great babysitter can also become a good roamer. Supports have more than one job to do that just babysit which allow for more dynamic plays in mid-high level games. Shadow Shaman is a good example that has strong pushing power, decent babysitting power at early game(depends on skill-build) and has strong control in teamfights. Take a look at Leshrac who is a strong pusher and becomes an AoE nuke carry late-game, effective at both pushing, ganking if able to land Split Earth and teamfights.
In general these examples point for a more dynamic and fast-paced game than League of Legends at mid-high level games while low-skilled games might feel slower than League of Legends.
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What Both Share
Core basics are fundamentally the same
Free to play
Have good and bad communities
Both companies are supporting the eSPORT scene
Easy to learn, hard to master
Frustrating to play at times
Fun(which is subjective)
Both games at it's core are fundamentally the same but other than that it's totally different. For LoL, it's designed at it's core for the casual crowd while in DotA it's designed at it's core for the competitive scene. Both games are subjective to what fun is but there are definite worries for LoL and DotA. The steep learning curve for DOTA 2 might turn off newcomers especially those coming from LoL so Valve has to do a good job with their tutorial system and features to keep them to stay playing(especially LoL players). In LoL's case, the biggest drawback is the F2P model, it's not self sustainable like DOTA 2's workshop and totally affects gameplay; one bad move and it'll lose players. Either way both companies have good marketing so I won't worry that much.