The term “MOBA” was initially coined by Riot games to describe their take on the original DotA. League of Legends was a huge success back when it was released in 2009. And Riot profited greatly from being one of the early pioneers of this genre.
However, MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas) as we know them originally started out with the very first DotA (Defense of the Ancients). In which each player controls a single character with unique spells, fighting on one of two opposing sides of a map. The concept of 3 individual lanes with a river dividing them in the middle was popularized with a Warcraft III mod.
This itself was derived from a custom Starcraft map called Aeon of Strife. Then, the Starcraft map was ported into Warcraft III by a mod creator and we got Defense of the Ancients. A unique mix of action RTS elements and tower defense combined with a vast selection of “hero” characters to choose from provides endless replayability.
Top 15 MOBA Games Of All Time For Android
League of Legends: Wild Rift
Riot Games wanted to make a version of League but optimized for mobile devices. And that’s how Wild Rift was born. It’s a slightly more streamlined MOBA that’s optimized for touchscreen controls while retaining the spirit and action-focused gameplay of the original League.
In terms of gameplay, you have the same old concept. There are 3 lanes, with an enemy Nexus which upon being destroyed wins you the game. However, the game’s pace is slightly sped up from the PC version to reduce match durations.
Objectives and experience are gained quicker. Plus, your champion will respawn faster since the death timer formula has been reworked. While a regular match of League can last anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes on average, a match of Wild Rift ends in just 15 to 20 minutes.
Arena of Valor
Way back in the day when mobile games were starting to gain mainstream popularity in China, a company released their very own League clone. It was originally titled “League of Kings”, but copyright issues with Riot made them rename it to “Honor of Kings”. A fun little MOBA with basic combat mechanics and simplistic character designs, Honor of Kings is ideal for being played on phones.
However, it is a game designed for the Chinese market. Arena of Valor is the international version of this game, created using the exact same engine and user interface. However, it’s more than just a cosmetic change to make both games look different on the surface.
Arena of Valor has some significantly altered hero designs compared to Honor of Kings. This is so it can appeal to a Western audience. There are all kinds of game modes for online competitive play- 1 v 1, 3 v 3, 5 v 5, etc.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 30 RTS Games Of All Time That You Must Play
It started off as a true competitor to giants such as Vainglory, and later evolved into its own thing. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (also referred to as MLBB) is often what comes to mind when you think of a generic mobile action RTS. You have well-endowed anime girls in skimpy outfits wielding random magical weaponry on the cover, with tons of greedy microtransactions filled within the in-game store.
However, the game is free and doesn’t force you to buy a bunch of stuff in order to have a good time. It’s cheap fun that you can have on the side while commuting between your office and home. There is a ranking system with various medals and rewards to be obtained, this keeps long-time players coming back for more each season.
For a very long time, this was THE premier mobile action RTS/ MOBA game that everybody and their mom played. It was originally unveiled at Apple’s 2014 presentation for the iPhone 6, to show off the capabilities of the Metal API. The one thing that made Vainglory stand out from the rest was its depth in gameplay and combat.
Vainglory offers its players tons of freedom when it comes to how they play the game. It also boasts a robust ELO system with matchmaking that feels a lot fairer compared to the typical Chinese phone MOBA. Plus, there is a wide roster of heroes with over 50 unique options to choose from at the start of each match.
Apart from the ranked ladder, you can also gain mastery points for the heroes you are most experienced with. And there is a technology tree that lets you upgrade skills, a system unique to Vainglory. Skins can be unlocked or crafted from blueprints using Essence.
Unlike many PC MOBAs, Onmyoji Arena completely leans into the whole cute anime aesthetic and isn’t ashamed of it. Plus, the characters are actually interesting and unique despite their generic appearances and boring lore. You get a real sense of joy when the gameplay mechanics finally “click” inside your head after spending dozens of hours on Onmyoji Arena.
Onmyoji has a wide cast of heroes belonging to various high fantasy races, including elves and orcs. You also have characters based on Japanese mythology and some really weird ones like Inugami who is an anthropomorphic dog ninja. The game constantly gets updates to its mechanics and new characters/ items in the form of patches.
Mages, ninjas, samurai, archers, warriors- all fantasy tropes are present and accounted for within Onmyoji. But there is a twist here and there to keep them from feeling too familiar.
There aren’t a whole lot of pay-2-win mechanics. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the main focus of this game seems to be on cosmetics rather than a good matchmaking system.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 40 Turn-Based Strategy Games Of All Time (PC, Android, Switch, PS)
Designed to be simple yet intensely engaging, Heroes Arena is tons of fun whether you’re playing solo matchmaking or with friends. It is designed with short matches and quick progression in mind, without tons of greedy microtransactions and UI clutter to sour the experience. Whether you’re a MOBA veteran or newcomer to the genre, you’ll find the mechanics of Heroes Arena to be quite intuitive.
One thing I really like about Heroes Arena is the way abilities are implemented for each hero. Of course, there is the ultimate that defines a hero and provides the most impact in fights. But alongside that there are 3 “leader abilities” that vary based on hero class- mage, tank, support, etc.
In recent times, reviews haven’t been showing Heroes Arena in a positive light. Long-time users are complaining that the game barely receives updates, and its matchmaking isn’t as good as it used to be. Still, short queue times can be expected for the most popular game modes.
Unlike your traditional 5 v 5 MOBA with 3 lanes and tower defense, Frayhem is a brawler that’s one of a kind. It manages to combine the survival aspect of Battle Royale with the action RTS elements of a MOBA. The result is a game that’s fun to play yet hard to master, with tons of playstyles and hero characters to choose from.
Frayhem doesn’t have the diversity in abilities showcased by games such as Dota or League. Instead, it features a specific set of abilities that each provide a certain effect- stuns, dashes, nukes, etc. And there are subtle variations on each ability depending on which hero you are playing.
Another nice thing about this game is its variety of modes and maps that keep people returning to try out their favorite heroes in a new context. Most MOBAs have one map, based on the original Aeon of Strife design. In Frayhem, you have several open-ended arenas that each contain unique terrain features that force you to switch up your playstyle.
Ever wondered what it would be like if you could play a MOBA in which all the heroes were replaced with military boats? Well, Battle Bay is exactly that- you can pilot your own floating murder boat loaded to the gills with guns and rockets. The game may not seem like a tactical RTS at first, but when you look a little closer you’ll see that it packs quite a few MOBA design elements.
First off, it’s a team-based brawler with boats that each have unique offensive and defensive abilities. You can collect and add new weapon systems to your boat. Plus, there are perks that further improve upon the base abilities of your gear.
There is a wide variety of maps to choose from along with various custom game modes in which you can have 2 teams of 5 players each. You can also do 1 v 1 duels to test individual skills, or try new weapon loadouts.
if you are interested to check out more all-time best games from different genres, check out my other post Top 40 JRPG Games Of All Time (PC, PS, PSP, Switch)
Much like Battle Bay, this is a game that may not seem like a MOBA at first. But once you examine all the “hero” abilities and team-based brawling combat it becomes clear that MOBAs were clearly the inspiration behind this game. Unlike a regular MOBA, there is no triplane map with a Nexus/ Ancient to destroy at the end.
Instead, you have several open-ended brawling arenas presented from a top-down perspective in which you control little cartoonish characters. Each of these characters can be equipped with a wide range of weaponry, alongside their unique innate abilities. The best thing about Brawl Stars is the variety in gameplay that exists between different game modes.
For instance, you can team up with some buddies to do a 3 v 3 tactical showdown in which you frag opponents to steal their gems. The first team to get 10 gems wins. If you get bored of brawling for gems, you can jump into the Showdown game mode which is basically Battle Royale.
Heroes of Order & Chaos
Heroes of Order & Chaos is a MOBA with some action RPG elements. Set in a high fantasy universe with wizards and dragons, this game has over 55 heroes for you to choose from. The heroes themselves span a wide range of fantasy tropes, from witches to warriors.
In terms of art design and gameplay, it isn’t as colorful or casualized as some of the Chinese MOBA games featuring generic anime characters. In fact, the world of this game is a grimdark place with hideous monsters and all sorts of evil forces. As for the gameplay, Heroes of Order & Chaos plays like a classic MOBA.
It has both 5 v 5 and 3 v 3 maps with some extra buildings thrown in that you don’t normally see in games such as League or Dota. The cosmetic packs for heroes range from realistic and beautiful to goofy and cartoonish.
Planet of Heroes
To be honest, Planet of Heroes isn’t a very streamlined or even fun experience at first. There’s a reason why it has such a low rating on the Play Store. But once you put enough time into this game, you might look past the glitches and connection issues.
Planet of Heroes is an excellent idea executed poorly, with a developer that doesn’t place enough emphasis on ironing out the little issues plaguing this game. It has classic MOBA gameplay, as in you get 3 lanes with jungles and a boss spawn. The boss acts like Roshan from Dota 2 and gives huge benefits to whichever team kills him.
If you liked Arena of Valor or Vainglory, chances are you’ll like Planet of Heroes too. That is, once you actually manage to get it running. This game is held back by terrible servers and matchmaking, not to mention a lack of updates.
Marvel Super War
It’s one of the most enjoyable action games, with Marvel superheroes instead of generic fantasy tropes such as wizards and elves. Marvel Super War stays close in art style and aesthetic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Character designs are taken straight from the movies in some cases, and that’s one of the best things about this game.
On top of that, each Marvel hero is equipped with a set of abilities derived from their superpowers as depicted in the comics/ movies. For example, Captain America can throw his shield and toss enemies in the air with heavy punches. He also has a passive ability that activates upon each shield throw, granting him bonus movement speed.
Every hero is designed to fit a certain class. For instance, Captain Marvel is an assassin/ fighter. The game also tells you how difficult or easy it is to play a certain hero. While some heroes have 4 abilities, others have 5 (including both passive and active powers).
Survival Heroes- MOBA Battle Royale
This is what would happen if the distribution of gears and resources was randomized. You move around, picking up items like PUBG instead of buying them with your gold. Because of this, not all fights are fair and balanced.
Apart from you, there are 99 other guys who are all trying to be the last man standing. This game has all the hallmark MOBA features such as fog of war and bushes that hide dangerous NPC creatures. When you combine the wide range of weaponry obtained from randomized drops with the fact that each playable hero has unique abilities, the result is truly incredible.
Much like PUBG, Survival Heroes lets you play any way you want. You can go out guns blazing Rambo style. Or you can sneak around between bushes and play the janitor who mops up towards the end of a firefight between two other people.
A hero shooter, and one of the earliest to be released for mobile phones. It’s basically an Overwatch rip-off with blatantly obvious copies of characters such as McCree and Genji. Much like Overwatch, the characters are all divided into various classes- tank, healer, DPS, etc.
And despite its rudimentary shooting mechanics, the map design and gameplay are actually not bad. You can engage in exciting 5 v 5 team combat with 4 of your buddies. Objectives vary from one game mode to another, and there is a large enough selection of unique-looking maps to maintain your interest.
However, don’t expect a solid matchmaking system or ranked ladder from this game. If you want that, Arena of Valor would be a better choice (plus it has classic MOBA gameplay). This is a fun, casual hero shooter that you play to spend some time when you’re bored.
Legend of Ace
What’s that? There are players who think this game feels a bit too much like League of Legends? Other than the character designs, gameplay, aesthetic, and UI I don’t see why this game would feel similar to League.
Ok, sarcasm aside- Legend of Ace is yet another League clone for mobile phones. You can draw many similarities between the two. And short of actually playing Wild Rift, this is one of the closest possible experiences to League on a phone.
Despite all these obvious influences, Legend of Ace actually plays quite differently from something like Wild Rift or even Arena of Valor. For starters, it’s extremely fast-paced meaning each match will be over in 10 to 15 minutes. On top of that, your hero uses cards instead of buying and equipping items.
Top 10 MOBA Games Of All Time For iOS
It’s basically Hearthstone combined with tower defense, wrapped up in a shiny MOBA suit. At its core, Clash Royale is one big online card game featuring characters from the extremely popular Clash of Clans. Take a deeper look though, and you’ll notice something- this game has towers arranged in a formation that looks suspiciously similar to lanes from MOBA games.
And there is one tower called the “King’s Tower” which upon destruction instantly wins you the game. In the game, you collect crowns as you destroy enemy towers and there is a timer that counts down till the end. Whoever has the most crowns will win, but if both sides have the same crown count the game will go into a tiebreaker mode.
To field units, you must play from a deck of cards that you choose before each game starts. And in the first round, you’ll be randomly dealt cards from your deck. Each card costs Elixir to play, and it lets you field various units/ defensive emplacements.
Despite being widely regarded as the best mobile hero shooter ever devised; this game was taken down sometime during 2019. It can still be played via emulation or by sideloading the app onto your Apple device (but that’s a whole other can of worms). Basically, this game is a version of Paladins designed for mobile phones, with slightly streamlined controls and mechanics.
Another thing that differentiates this relic of the past from PC Paladins is the fact that you see everything from an isometric viewpoint. And there are multiple game modes, but all anyone played was siege mode. In siege, your team of 5 heroes would try to force a payload into the enemy’s base who were tasked with defending their side from the invading forces.
Apart from the siege mode, this game also has a deathmatch mode in which you basically kill anything that moves to get the highest KDA score at the end. And when this game’s servers were still alive, its main source of income was in-game microtransactions. Each match would last between 6 to 10 minutes.
A collectible card game bolted on top of an action RTS, set within a future space fantasy involving space pirates and punk rockers. That’s Wild Beyond in a nutshell- insanely fun, quirky, and nothing like any other MOBA. It isn’t a true MOBA game in the sense that you don’t command a single hero character on a map with 3 lanes.
However, it features all the standard MOBA features such as unique playable characters with special abilities. And while it is a card game, the actual strategic depth present in each Battle is leagues ahead of most mobile RTS games. This game is essentially Hearthstone blended with Starcraft.
Wild Beyond is perfect for when you just want to pass away the time without boring yourself to death with overly casualized mobile strategy games. Is it as good as Vainglory or Wild Rift? No, but it offers a unique take on the MOBA formula without casualizing the strategic aspect.
Stormbound: Kingdom Wars
Stormbound is a slow-paced strategy war game involving 4 warring factions, but it also features many elements from both MOBA and collectible card games. And while the gameplay isn’t as fast as something like Wild Rift, there is a certain tactical edge to it. It really tingles the labyrinthian depths of your strategically inclined mind if you’re a fan of old-school RTS.
And the best part is that all of this feels natural, almost easy to learn. I say “almost” because there is a certain time period at the start during which you’ll be busy figuring out the basic mechanics. Each of the 4 warring factions encourages different playstyles and features unique cards to collect.
Is it Angry Birds? Is it Clash Royale? Try a combination of the two, with some epic explosive action mixed in, that’s Badland Brawl in a nutshell.
This game has some really impressive physics that results in hilarious moments, as you attempt to take down your enemy’s tower. The game has plenty of content to engage with outside of the core gameplay. For instance, you can join guilds and other communities to create your very own clan within the game.
If you think about it, the world of Pokémon is ideal for portrayal as a MOBA. After all, there are multiple Pokémon each with their own unique abilities. And each one of these pocket monsters is endlessly customizable based on their owner’s preferences.
Even two Pokémon that are of the same species will vary depending on their trainer’s personality and training habits. In Pokémon Unite, you have a 5 v 5 team-based arena combat system in which the team with the most points wins at the end. The game features both PvE and PvP combat, as you gather points by fighting wild Pokémon across an island.
The thing with Heroes Evolved is that it has a larger pool of player characters than any other mobile MOBA out there. With over 100 unique heroes comprised of everything from femme fatale assassins to steampunk robots, this game is positively oozing with style. And while it doesn’t have a small install base by any metric, I still feel it’s quite underrated.
While some abilities feel quite broken, the overall balance is done in a way that ensures fair gameplay. For instance, one hero will be way stronger early on while others scale better later in the game. Making friends and adding players to your clan is also extremely easy.
A top-down action shooter in which you brawl with other players in a PvP arena. The firing controls are quite rudimentary; however, the gameplay is quite engaging. That’s due to a combination of flashy-looking spells and increasingly ridiculous weaponry that is unlocked as you progress through the game.
Apart from all the amazing weapons, you can also unlock new playable characters (heroes). And each one of these heroes has unique skills, much like a MOBA. You can improve hero stats by unlocking cards.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Realm War
Warhammer Age of Sigmar is built on the fictional universe of the same name from the Warhammer universe. It has a mix of card and RTS mechanics with some tower defense thrown in. Basically, it’s Clash Royale with Warhammer units and lore.
And that honestly sounds awesome to someone who’s a fan of mobile RTS games. You command entire platoons of soldiers, robots, and tanks. And control generals with unique abilities who can be upgraded with cards.
Some cards are treated like ultimate abilities that are present in classic MOBAs. These are limited use only and create devastating effects on the battlefield.
From a gameplay standpoint, this might just be the single most creative experience you can have on a mobile phone. After all, The Machines features a weird blend of real-time strategy and AR. It’s like Pokémon Go, but with tactical action and highly trained special soldiers instead of cute pocket pets.
Your position in the real world affects how you view the in-game world. Plus, there is a global leaderboard that lets you compare your skills with that of others. Even the sound design has this awesome spatial effect that engulfs you and makes you feel like you’re actually standing on the battlefield.
Top 10 MOBA Games Of All Time For PC
In my opinion, the best MOBA ever created (and yes, there is a heaping truckload of personal bias involved with that judgment). Dota 2 is a truly faithful continuation of the original Warcraft 3 mod, created by Valve in collaboration with the legendary IceFrog- one of the original DotA developers. In terms of mechanical depth and balancing, this game is a step ahead of League.
Things like turn rates and cast points play a major role in Dota 2. Its high ground/ low ground dynamic has multiple levels to it, unlike League. And trees allow for some really amazing juke plays that leave your enemies dumbfounded while you dodge certain death from a 5-man gank.
Dota 2 has heroes that can stun you for several seconds, blow you up from invisibility, and magically teleport to any part of the map. In a sense, every hero seems a lot more “broken” than League because their spells are so powerful. Plus, there is a hero called Invoker who literally has access to 10 unique spells that you can “invoke” by combining 3 separate orbs in different ratios.
League of Legends
Now that I have talked about why Dota 2 is the better game, let’s face the fact that League is far more popular precisely due to its more casualized nature. Anyone can pick it up and start pawning some noobs within days. Sure, it’s no first-person shooter and there is still a significant learning curve.
This learning curve isn’t as steep as that of Dota 2 but still quite hard for the average gamer who has never played a MOBA before. And while League is quite easy to pick up and play, mastering it is a whole other story. Compared to Dota 2, League feels a lot “smoother” due to the lack of turn rates and cast points.
Plus, League doesn’t have CC spells that last several seconds, and nearly every champion has a dash or relocation spell. The map is also smaller which makes moving around a lot quicker.
Smite is one of the most popular MOBA games ever, and it puts an interesting spin on the basic formula. First, it gives you literal Gods and legendary deities to play as instead of regular mages or monsters. When you have heroes like Zeus, Atlas, RA, etc., it’s hard to not be impressed.
Egyptian gods, Greek gods, Hindu gods, Norse gods- this game has it all. And instead of presenting you with a top-down perspective, Smite features a 3rd person camera. This is because the game is more action-focused and plays like For Honor with magic spells.
Heroes of the Storm
Most MOBA games reward you as an individual for making plays on the map. You are given Gold and XP that make your hero character stronger. However, Heroes of the Storm takes a very different approach.
First, you have the characters- instead of creating new heroes specifically for this game, Blizzard instead took existing characters from their other game franchises. In a way, it’s like Super Smash Bros from Nintendo except this is a strategy-focused action brawler presented from a top-down perspective. There are characters from Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, etc., and like any other MOBA, you want to destroy a central building in the enemy’s base.
In Heroes of the Storm, you buy items and gain levels just like any other MOBA. However, there’s a twist- any XP obtained by one person from kills is shared by the entire team globally. Plus, buildings provide experience to players who destroy them (in Dota 2 they only give gold).
Heroes of Newerth
If we talk MOBAs that are the closest to DotA 1 in terms of gameplay, HoN is easily the winner. And since it was derived from the original DotA, it is also very similar to Dota 2. So similar that a lot of current Dota 2 pros started out as HoN players.
Nearly a decade ago when it became clear that HoN’s best days were behind it a lot of these high-level players transitioned to Dota 2. And when they transferred to Dota 2 a lot of their skills carried over too. The similarity can be explained by rumors that suggest IceFrog worked with S2 Games before he came to Valve and developed Dota 2.
Paladins is a hero shooter, one of the few truly revolutionary games of its kind after Overwatch. The game revolves around warriors with special abilities who also happen to be master gunslingers. And the entire world is set in a fictional universe with sci-fi versions of high fantasy creatures such as mages and elves.
A lot of the game modes in Paladins are similar to what you saw in Paladins: Strike, since both are the same game (only one is optimized for mobile). So you have Siege, Deathmatch, Onslaught, Ranked, etc. And before you go into a match you can customize your hero loadout like in Call of Duty, by using cards to unlock abilities.
If you want to challenge your buddies to a game of Battlerite, expect to have a lot of fun. It’s like a top-down shooter combined with a melee brawler, with tons of skill shots and devastating nukes. Battlerite is extremely easy on the eyes, there isn’t a ton of clutter on your screen to confuse you.
Each hero’s spells have clean animations that are easy to track, and I like that in a MOBA. After all, it’s hard to land skills when you have no clue what you’re even looking at. Plus each map feels unique in terms of looks and terrain.
What is Awesomenauts? It’s a platformer combined with turn-based strategy and MOBA-style heroes with spells and abilities. That’s a lot of genres packed into one 2D game but trust me when I say this game lives up to its namesake, i.e. it’s awesome.
And the best part is that it’s entirely free, at least if you get the base version without any DLC. There are creeps that spawn into the map, plus bases to destroy and turrets that protect your side of the map.
Another anime-themed MOBA, but this game isn’t as blatant of a cheap cash grab as some of the other ones that you see on Android and iOS. On top of that, this isn’t your average MOBA or hero action game. Instead, it involves survival on an island through exploration and crafting.
You fight against the environment as well as other players to see who is the last one standing at the end of it all. There are dozens of collectible items such as weapons, traps, animal parts, raw crafting materials, etc.
Arena of Kings
Imagine if you can, an MMO… that isn’t an absolute grind fest. Arena of Kings feels like a genuine effort to provide players with the thrill of an MMO minus all the cheap grinding mechanics. And it’s a fun action brawler, so you’ll be able to see the improvements your character goes through in real-time combat against other players.
You can choose from 10 unique character classes and gradually level up your hero with loot + experience. Eventually, you might even see yourself on the leaderboard as you win tournaments.
MOBAs have waned in popularity compared to the early 2010s when it seemed like every major game development studio wanted to get in on the action. Of course, the top dogs are still going strong to this day- namely, League of Legends and Dota 2. However, MOBAs have been put aside by gamers in favor of Battle Royale and open-world survival simulators.
The gaming industry has trends and each genre has a peak, after which it falls off. But the influence of MOBAs can be seen in a lot of other genres to this very day.
For example, take hero shooters ( Overwatch, Paladins, etc.). They combine MOBA style skills and abilities with first-person shooting action.
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