Switching Lanes, Or How I Learned To Love MOBAs

I’ve been playing games since I was ~5 years old, which means more than a quarter of a century. In all that time, I’ve played a lot of genres, but one never really stuck with me – the MOBA (or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena).

There are a few reasons for that, I suppose. Traditionally a PC-centric genre, I didn’t get a gaming PC until… uh… last year. Another is the traditionally unfriendly communities that complex titles tend to harbor. Once I got my PC, I checked into some big games I’d been missing out on: Rainbow Six Siege was like a new game on mouse and keyboard, I gave Rocket League another go, Escape From Tarkov absorbed me for a few weeks, but I still couldn’t bring myself to install one of the two big MOBAs, League of Legends or DOTA 2.

My good friend Nick has sunk more than a thousand hours into DOTA 2, but despite that, it’s been League of Legends that hooked me. Here’s how.

When Is  A MOBA Not A MOBA?

Bear with me on this tangent, but I’ve always loved card-based games. I remember spending family holidays glued to the Pokemon Trading Card Game on my Game Boy, and I spent a fair bit of Hearthstone before losing interest.

While Magic: The Gathering passed me by, I wrote an article about Legends of Runeterra in my early days at Gfinity. Something about the card art, the way the cards levelled up, and the overall polish of the beta left me hooked (find my review here).

I went from dismissing LoR as ‘the card game based on League of Legends’ to learning the characters and their abilities. Before I knew it, I could identify a good dozen characters from League of Legends without having even downloaded the game, and started checking out the banging official playlist on Spotify.

I started to consider downloading, and eventually did so last Summer.

You Want Me To Do What Now?

Garen is still one of my favourite characters to play

I’ll admit, early signs were good, but not great. On the one hand, I started playing as Garen, carving through minions and getting to grips with AI opponents. On the other, even the bots were too capable for my newcomer skills for much of the first few hours.

Slowly, I began to learn just some of the game’s intricacies. When to push, when to retreat, how to effectively take on turrets – all while playing alongside other newcomers.

Piece by piece, it started to click but I still found myself feeling bogged down by length of matches.

Rift Is Wild

Then, I got my dream MOBA: League of Legends: Wild Rift (check out my impressions here).

Wild Rift is the League of Legends game I didn’t know I needed

A mobile spin-off (not a direct port), Wild Rift is built for quicker, more instant hits of MOBA action. Everything is faster – levelling, traversing the map, and processes like clunky item menus are streamlined, too.

I often find myself laying in bed, and just jumping into matches alongside other players, even just against the CPU. Multiplayer matches are still there, but sometimes you just want to get some practice in. I also cannot wait for the game to land on console.

Aside from League of Legends, though, there’s a new kid on the block: Pokemon Unite.

Pokemon Unite is off to a solid start

Taking a franchise full of recognisable characters for any kid born in the last three decades, it’s an instantly accessible spin on the genre. Towers are swapped for Goal Zones, there are several match types (five minute ‘Quick Matches’ are perfect for getting straight to the action), and microtransaction controversies aside, it’s been great fun tearing through other players with my boy Lucario.

If you’ve ever had the itch to try a MOBA, either Wild Rift or Pokemon Unite are great places to start.

Thanks for reading!