Earlier this month, a tweet from Team Liquid’s creative director Damian Estrada about Dota 2 as a more rewarding game blew up on Twitter and the Dota 2 subreddit. The existence of both shows how the war between League of Legends and Dota 2 is still ongoing, with hardcore players from both games defending their choice of MOBA.
While the war between what game is better has been around since the birth of Dota’s rival games, both games certainly have their positives and negatives. Objectively judging whether League or Dota 2 is a difficult game is a heavy task, if not impossible. That’s because of several factors that are present in both games that have different implementations such as design philosophy, demographic, competitiveness, and much more.
It‘s time to answer the million dollar question: is it true that Dota 2 is more rewarding for players than League of Legends?
Same Genre, Different Visions
Dota 2 and League of Legends are both molded in the same multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, where you control a character and play with four other people to conquer the enemy base. The mechanics and design philosophy definitely differ between the two games.
Dota 2 sticks to its roots by rewarding tactical plays and strategic thought. There is a range of difficulty from heroes, but only few have mechanics that require hours and hours of practice. Mana pools are also quite small in order for players to only cast skills with purpose and intent. There also is a buyback system that allows heroes to revive for a steep cost, which can be a huge momentum shift if done correctly. Warding the map also requires smart placement and active guard to gain mileage and cover a wide area for the team.
League of Legends, however, aims to make the game flashier and require insane micro skills from the player. Ability combos are a common thing with most champions, and some have tricks that include buffering a point-and-click skill and then using a position spell like Flash to get them in range and instantly cast the spell. Mana pools are pretty generous, and some champions do not even require mana to cast their abilities. Finesse is heavily rewarded, but at times that’s not always the case.
Catering to Different Audiences
While both games have a thriving eSports scene, their general audience is quite different.
Dota 2’s competitive scene is huge, with millions of USD being rewarded in prize pools. For the teams that can showcase the best of what Dota 2 can allow in a game, one of if not the largest prize pools await them in The International tournament. Because the reward for such competitive play beats any other eSports scene out there, coupled with the game’s natural tendency to reward creative plays, it is clear that Valve and IceFrog heavily reward the highly competitive players who can figure out the ins and outs of the game.
While League of Legends doesn’t have the cash prizes that Dota 2 has, they still have great marketing and cater to a wide demographic. League is a game that can be played casually with friends, or competitively for those who want the glory of being Challenger, a rank that in the past could even let you eat sushi for free! The game’s skins are the main attractions that can pull even the most casual players into playing the game, even as unranked players. One thing’s for sure: outplays are what connects both competitive players and casual fanboys together.
Skill Floor and Skill Ceiling
Dota 2’s skill floor came from the legacy game during the Warcraft 3 days, and since then the game has committed to maintaining the same difficulty level and learning. The amount of information that needs to be processed in a few moments is a lot, and the burden of game knowledge and situation-based decisions lies on the newbie who is also dealing with pressure from flaming and harassing teammates.
However, the skill ceiling in Dota 2 is massive. Given that there are hundreds of different interactions, the ability to play heroes in different roles, the amount of item combinations, and the non-restrictive meta, there is no single way to win a game of Dota 2. Turning the tides on a 4v5 is absolutely possible when the cards are played right, and the playmaking and counterplay potential is huge in this game. Again, the game rewards tactical decision-making, so learning and mastering macro gameplay will get you far.
League’s skill floor is quite average, and there are a set of champions that are absolute simple to play, is low risk, but gives medium rewards. Champions like Garen, Annie, Ahri, and Miss Fortune are champions shown as beginner-friendly, but can definitely be mastered and brought to the upper echelons of the ranked ladder. Even a casual can pick up these champions as well as those whose aesthetics they like and have a grand time with their pals. If they’re not ready, the Coop vs. AI mode can be a place to practice fundamentals without the pressure from other players.
The skill ceiling in League is primarily dependent on the champion picked. After all, League is a game of outplays and flashy mechanics, which is why champions like Yasuo and Zed have thousands of outplay compilations found in various social networking sites. The micro skills needed to pilot a champion like Yasuo, who has the lowest base stats among the 150 champions, are plenty, on top of knowing macro skills and general game knowledge. At the hands of a capable player, even the most difficult champions have dedicated one-tricks sitting in Challenger.
Overall, there is no clear cut answer to the question because the idea of what is “more rewarding” highly depends on who you ask. Some players like to take the challenge, while others like to have the option to chill and have fun with friends. Some players play for the prestige of being the best, and some just want to have a good time but also have the option to get competitive when they’re ready.
Do you agree on the idea that either game can be more superior and more rewarding than the other, depending on the player?