The first time I came across the nascent modification to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos that would eventually become the template for all MOBAs to come I was in my first year of college. Warcraft III hit my dorm like a bomb, and I know more than one student who dropped out to pursue a life of gaming (much to their parent’s chagrin). Then Defence of the Ancients came out, and it was like that bomb never went off at all and was merely biding its time to truly cause mayhem. Assignments were forgotten. Midterms were missed. Some students stopped leaving their rooms, never to be seen again. To this day there are ghost stories of long lost undergrads, roaming the halls in search of food they’d forgotten to eat in life.
Fast forward a decade and a half and MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas for those not in the know) aren’t just killing academic careers - they’re at the very forefront of E-sports. All the biggest stables, like Fnatic, Team Liquid, and Cloud 9, all field teams that play in League of Legends, the biggest MOBA of them all.
While Blizzard (the makers of Warcraft III) had their hand in giving birth to MOBAs as a genre, they’ve been strangely behind the times while MOBAs took the E-sports world by storm. It wasn’t until 2015, with the release of Heroes of the Storm (HotS for short), that Blizzard took these multiplayer battle arenas seriously enough to warrant a game of their own. And while League of Legends (or LoL for short) is still top dog, it has a lot to learn from Blizzard’s upstart MOBA.
Here are 15 ways League of Legends is worse than Heroes Of The Storm.
15 A Toxic Community
League of Legends is a big deal. At peak periods there can be over 7 million players on Riot’s servers. Having this many gamers playing at once can make policing player behaviour a little tricky. The result is a community that is famous for its snark, saltiness and general unfriendliness to new players - and that’s putting it lightly.
Heroes of the Storm, on the other hand, is managed by Blizzard, who take player experience very seriously. Not only is there a swear filter and a 'report player' feature that can get a player banned for such infractions as griefing, but in HotS, each team doesn’t even have the option to speak to their opposite in competitive matches. It’s hard to spew toxic vitriol when you can’t get through to the enemy team.
14 No Map Variations
League of Legends is also pretty famous for having a serious lack of map variety. LoL has one map, Summoner’s Rift, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad. Go find another game.
Heroes of the Storm, on the other hand, has a colossal thirteen maps, each meticulously balanced to give each team a fair chance at victory. Each map has its own variations in terms of size, lane separation, and jungle encampments (called mercenary camps in HotS) that all feel very different, making each game fresh and exciting.
This variation also makes certain heroes more attractive to play on certain maps. You may want to opt for global presence of Dehaka on larger maps, allowing you to quickly be where your team needs you during team-fights, no matter how far you wander. Or on maps with tighter lanes, you may go for a slower assassin like Valeera, who can roam around to get quick kills on unwary players.
13 Lack of Map Objectives
On Summoner’s Rift, the objective is always the same - kill your opponents, push down their turrets, and then blow up their nexus. Just like the map itself, it’s the same game every time.
In Heroes of the Storm, things are a lot more interesting. Sure, there’s always the benefit of killing your opponents in giving your team experience, while depriving the other team of a crucial defender, but if you happen to be on the losing end of this scenario there’s usually an option besides killing your opponents to secure a victory. Each map will have its own objective, and if you can secure that objective before the enemy does it can lead to a massive, potentially game-changing advantage.
12 No Bots!
“Bots?” You ask, “How can AI controlled bots be a good thing?”
Don’t get me wrong, human controlled players are usually best to play against in competitive games, but there are a few cases where having a bot can be a great thing.
Let’s take the issue of leavers. In League of Legends if somebody leaves their character sits there like a lump and does absolutely nothing. In Heroes of the Storm if a player leaves then their hero is taken over by computer AI and continues to fight. The AI isn’t perfect, and it won’t respond the same way a human player would in any given situation, but it’s a lot better than being a man down just because some jerk decided that their house burning down was more important than their LoL game.
League is in the process of developing computer AI for players to play against, but they’re still in the early alpha stages and are a long way off from having the same kind of extensive bots that HotS has.
11 XP Is Shared
This one is sure to get me some angry emails from LoL purists, but the fact that experience gained isn’t shared among the team can warp games into bizarre scenarios where one player is level 10 while the rest of the team is level 6, or even lower. It can be terribly disheartening to be playing a tank like Rammus, or a support like Janna, the best they’ve ever been played and still be down in experience compared to the more damage oriented champions.
In HotS experience is shared between the whole team, making each player on that team the same level as the next. If every member of the team is playing well, then the team’s level will reflect that, making every role important whether or not that role is particularly great at farming experience or not.
10 Carry Roles Suck
Along with not having experience shared is another bizarre aspect of a team-based game - the carry role. League of Legends can reward a team that puts all their eggs in one basket, giving a champion with a high damage potential and the right item build the ability to completely dominate the late-game and “carry” their team to victory. The carry will inevitably end the game with much larger experience, and also tends to get a massively inflated ego while doing it.
Once again, HotS doesn’t have this problem due to the shared experience. There are certainly heroes that have a more potent role early on, or are more effective in the late game, but the role of the damage dealer is no more or less important than any other role on the team. Likewise, this helps to keep egos more in check in the Blizzard MOBA.
9 Character Balance
There’s one thing I will always give League over HotS: they have a massive roster of champions. At 134 and growing, players have way more selection in League to pick a champion that best fits their playstyle.
That massive roster has its downsides, as it’s nearly impossible to balance a game with that many characters. Of the 134 champions available, only 23 see pick rates above 10% in competitive matches. That’s less than 20% of the roster being considered viable.
Heroes may have a much smaller roster, but the developers clearly care more about making each one of them viable with the number of patches they release. Of the 64 heroes available, 43 have a pick rate higher than 10% in competitive games - that’s fully two-thirds of the hero roster, and way more than can be found in League of Legends.
8 Who’s Who?
That massive champion roster can be pretty hard to keep track of not just for the developers, but also for the players. Remembering what each of the 134 champions can do is a huge barrier for new players who can easily be ganked by a champion they’ve never seen before.
A smaller roster, like one found in Heroes of the Storm, makes it much easier to remember what your opponent can do, making it much better experience for new players. Not only that, but each hero is taken from previous Blizzard titles like Overwatch or World of Warcraft, giving each character a powerful, built-in backstory for a new player to identify with.
That’s not to say there isn’t a backstory for League champions. It’s there, you just have to dig for it.
7 Games Are Too Damned Long
There’s a reason why the majority of my gaming is done as a single player - I need a pause button. My life rarely goes longer than 15-20 minutes before my dog starts puking or something catches fire and needs my immediate attention.
In League of Legends, the average game lasts over half an hour, which is just too much time for me to invest. Some games can even go on into hour long odysseys that defy logic and explanation.
Heroes of the Storm doesn’t have that problem. If one team is getting particularly stomped, games can be over in as little as 10 minutes. Most games last about 20 minutes, with only the rare match reaching the 30-minute mark. This makes it much easier for me to put out the kitchen fire and still be back in time for my next game.
6 So Many Items!
I want you to guess how many items there are in League of Legends. Go ahead - throw out a number!
If you guessed 221, then you cheated and went to the League of Legends website just like I did.
If 134 champions is too many to keep track of then, 221 items is also going to be a headache. I’ll cop to the fact that LoL does have an item suggestion prompt that gives new players a handy tip as to what item they should be purchasing, but the fact that such a feature is even necessary is not something to applaud.
In HotS, item purchases are simple: there aren’t any. That’s right - not a single item can be purchased in game. Instead, Heroes of the Storm uses a talent based system to give each character some build diversity that would normally be provided by items. It’s a lot simpler to understand and doesn’t require the player to leave the game for a moment to go buy stuff.
5 Comeback Mechanics!
Everyone loves a good comeback. I’m not talking about taunts or verbal barbs - I’m talkin’ about the underdog rising up from a losing scenario to snatch victory from the jaws of certain defeat.
Both games certainly have mechanics baked in that allow for one team to come back from a stomping, but how they do it differs. Whereas HotS has a system that exponentially provides less experience the further down the opposing team is in terms of levels (until even hero kills are worth less experience than killing a mere minion), LoL has a cap at 20% experience for each champion kill achieved.
When you’re behind the entire game, that 20% cap can feel like an insurmountable cliff. Farming the opposing team for kills is always worthwhile in League, making a comeback far less likely.
4 Last Hits Are Dumb!
When Defense of the Ancients was first inventing the MOBA genre, the only way to get experience or gold was to be the last guy putting damage on something to secure the kill. If you missed your attack and some minion stole your kill, you get nothing even if you did 99% of the damage. Thus the concept of “last hit” was born, and remained a staple of the genre for a long time.
Eventually, players and developers alike realized this last hit business was stupid and changed things so that simply being present when a minion expires nets you that sweet, sweet XP. However, in League an artifact of the last hit era remained in gold farming. If you’re not the last thing hitting a minion,you get no gold, and that’s dumb.
As you likely have already guessed, HotS doesn’t have this problem because there’s no gold (at least, not in a match - there is gold to buy heroes, but that’s done in menus). You don’t even need to be the agent of destruction in order to ensure your team keeps accruing experience. In fact, certain heroes specialize in this behaviour, which is super weird. More on that later.
3 Team Fights Are Fun!
There’s no question that the most exciting part of any MOBA experience is the team fights. When all 5 players on a team come together and let loose, it’s like watching a fireworks display that eventually leads to a lot of dead players. Sort of like Victoria Day in my high school years.
One game has way more team fights than the other, and that’s Heroes of the Storm. In HotS maps usually, have objectives that will bring teams into conflict within the first 5 minutes. League doesn’t have that, and it’s even possible to have entire games where the only kills are solo-lane ganks that eventually result in death timers so long there isn’t even a climactic final battle at the enemy’s core.
That’s almost as disappointing as a Victoria Day without a fatality.
2 Hero Variation
I know I kinda go back to this a lot, but with 134 champions it can not only be hard to balance them all, but it can also be hard to make them unique. A lot of League heroes tend to blend together, with only a slight variations to give them some originality.
By comparison, HotS seems like a cultural melting pot of play styles, each with their own set of unique abilities. There’s also some truly bonkers heroes, like Abathur who never actually engages in direct combat, or Cho’Gall, the two headed ogre that is literally two players in one body. Or how about The Lost Vikings who’re like trying to play three tiny heroes at once?
The innovation seen in Heroes of the Storm leaves LoL in the dust.
1 The Early Game Sucks
Let’s go over the first 5 minutes of every League game: I waddle to my lane, micromanage my dude to get that all important last hit to farm gold, and I make sure I don’t push too close to a turret. Ho-hum.
Let’s do the same thing for Heroes of the Storm. I press z to mount my horse (so I can get to my lane quickly), and now I have to worry about a stealth characters ganking me while I push my lane up to the enemy tower to try and exhaust it before the object appears. Here's the best part: when that objective does appear I have to be ready for a team fight.
Which one sounds more exciting to you? I thought so.