5 Captivating MOBA games for Android and iOS

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It’s interesting to see how the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games, have grown, ever since they were born about 10 years ago. From an obscure WarCraft III modification, the addictive genre has come to life, starting with PC editions, currently dominated by titles like DOTA 2, League of Legends and Heroes Of The Storm, played by tens of millions of people every day.

As mobile devices are getting close to the traditional desktop computers, in terms of hardware capabilities, MOBAs have found their way on these platforms too. Succeeding in a classic PC MOBA requires both tactical knowledge and outstanding mouse and keyboard skills. Touch-based controls, offer a completely different experience, but developers have managed to build some pretty great MOBAs for both Android and iOS.

Vainglory (iOS, Android)

Price: Free to play (with IAPs)

Vainglory

Some would say the very essence of MOBA games is the player’s skill to make the best out of its character’s abilities using perfectly timed keyboard and mouse combos, but also his ability to take the right decision both in advance and in the spur of the moment. This would make it seem as a MOBA made for smaller touch-enabled devices like smartphones and tablets would translate into a failure.

The guys behind Super Evil Megacorp are convinced they found the perfect recipe for a mobile MOBA, and the resulting dish is Vainglory. This game simplifies some aspects of this game genre starting with the map, which is a 1-lane, plus a forest packed with monster camps, a few mines and a shop. Each character can only have 3 skills but you can further customize your heroes through item builds.

Crushing the opponents’ turrets and finally, their crystal means your team wins the game, but until you get there, a lot of the fight takes place in the forest – a vital place for gaining XP (especially in the beginning), strengthening your position (by gaining control over mines) and to initiate flank attacks on the enemy. As you can see, Vainglory retains the strategy and team-work elements very well, and requires players to be aware of their surroundings and work together as often as possible.

What some might dislike, is the fact that the 3vs3 matches can take up to 30 minutes, so the game requires commitment to a certain degree, at least far more than a time waster. Even so, the close battles in which the teams are struggling to tip the balance in their favor, almost until the end, is something specific to MOBAs, so perhaps it’s a good thing Vainglory doesn’t limit the length of matches.

On top of that, controls are incredibly responsive, and the graphics are absolutely stunning. The game’s free to play model is cleverly implemented: players can earn in-game currency, but also purchase bundles with real cash, starting from $4.99. Both can be used to buy and customize characters. The good news is, players get a rotating selection of free characters. This means you can basically play all characters, but have a limited selection at any given time. Because “growing” a character is a rather complex task, unlocking a few and focusing on them, seems to be the common standard.

It’s safe to say, Super Evil Megacorp have been quite adept at making Vainglory fit very well on small screens and offers a great experience despite the lack of mouse, keyboard or the usual PC communication methods teams normally use in such games.

The Witcher Battle Arena (iOS, Android)

Price: Free to play (with IAPs)

The Witcher Battle Arena

There are many reasons to like this multiplayer online battle arena game: maybe you’re already a fan of “The Witcher” universe or perhaps you’d like to try an easy to learn and quick to play MOBA, perfect for the first experience with this kind of game.

The game was released on iOS and Android at the beginning of the year and it became famous because it’s a casual MOBA – the 3vs3 matches last for about 10 minutes, so it’s not as time-demanding as classic MOBA titles for PC like Dota 2 and League of Legends.

There are two game modes – one in which the two teams try to cap and control 3 nodes on the map (whoever controls more nodes approaches victory faster) and one in which the first team that achieves 20 kills wins the match. Character customization is far more extensive: besides the three general types of characters (warrior, mage and ranged), each of them has three skills that can be adjusted to suit your personal play style. Most of the times a skill is made from a certain amount of damage and a (de)buff, and players can lower one of the effects to raise the other. It’s a brilliantly simple way of tweaking a character’s abilities, increasing its versatility to another degree.

Gear is earned randomly after each battle, and it can be either belts, boots or gauntlets in light, medium or heavy armor (each armor weight specific for a class type). There are also several gear rarity levels, specifically common, rare, epic and legendary. Furthermore, players can equip bombs and potions on their characters (one type of each) and their variety also doesn’t disappoint: bombs can be more crowd-control oriented, while others deal more damage and potions can be for healing or to increase damage output.

Match specific character progression is also in the mix (think Dota) so players can experiment with different builds from one battle to another. Communication is quite basic, as players can only ping their team mates, which practically offers no useful information as to what they wanted to share. On the bright side, you won’t be seeing any foul language, insults and the usual quarrels that happen all too often in MOBAs where text and/or voice communication is offered.

One of the best parts of The Witcher Battle Arena is its honest monetization model. Everything you can buy with real money, you can buy with grinded in-game currency as well. IAPs let players buy new characters or new skins, but like I said, you can also earn in-game currency and use it to unlock them. Each week you can play 3 characters for free, so the game is actually enjoyable without investing money into it.

Heroes of Order and Chaos(iOS, Android)

Price: Free to play (with IAPs)

Heroes of Order and Chaos

Heroes of Order and Chaos is one of the older MOBAs on the market, and Gameloft managed to develop a pretty complex game. For starters, the game features three different maps – one for 3v3 matches and two for larger 5v5 battles, plus a ranked system and guilds – this is not something you typically encounter in a touch MOBA.

Perhaps a downside of the 5v5 maps is the fact they are quite large so you may find yourself roaming for longer than usual to find an enemy. However, this is quite unique as well, at least for MOBAs designed for mobile, so having a larger battlefield can prove to be an interesting challenge.

The usual game duration goes between 20 and 30 minutes, but may go on for more during close fights. Depending on your personal taste this can either be too long or just perfect to get that sense of accomplishment after finally winning a long battle.

Like other titles of the genre, HOC gives you three heroes you can play for free every week. To unlock one permanently can be done using runes bought with real money or in-game coins you earn as you play. Heroes can be customized in a number of ways, for example by using talent points (for small bonuses) and the tablets. Furthermore, you can equip items on your heroes (which are not very hard to earn) and use consumable elixirs for added bonuses.

Communication is very limited, but this seems to be the standard right now.I’ve got nothing bad to say about the Warcraft-style graphics, that look great despite their lack of originality. Gameloft added a large number of heroes in the game, currently 50, so there are plenty of characters you can play (and unlock) to keep you busy for a long time. The controls are somewhat unusual – a combination of tap and virtual joystick – and after you get used to them, they work quite nicely.

The longer matches, especially during 5v5 battles which take place on the larger maps, might not be up your alley if you were looking for a light MOBA. However, experienced PC gamers and those who want to immerse themselves in a more elaborate game, will certainly be pleased by HOC’s complexity.

Fates Forever (iOS – iPad only)

Price: Free to play (with IAPs)

Fates Forever

Fates Forever is a MOBA exclusive for iPad – perhaps a limited subset of iOS users – but worth mentioning nonetheless. The graphics look cartoonish, but tastefully refined, so the fantasy scenario in which the action takes place goes easy on the eyes.

It retains a lot of the MOBA classic elements – the gameplay, hero in-battle progression, AI controlled minions for both teams, a wooded area with strategic elements and so on. The map has been somewhat condensed, using a 2-lane setting, instead of the classic 3 lanes, which is perhaps more suitable for the 3v3 PvP model that Fates Forever is using.

The controls are straightforward and work well for the most part: tap on a spot to move there, tap and hold with two fingers to recall your character to the base, tap on an enemy to get in range so you can attack them…..you get the idea. Abilities are displayed on the left side of the screen, so you don’t have to bring up a special menu to use them.

There are rotating sets of free characters, and you can permanently unlock them using real money or the in-game currency (which you earn even after playing matches vs. bots), so like most other MOBA games for mobile devices, Fates Forever is totally playable as a free game, and most definitely not pay-to-win.

A rather unique feature of the game is support for voice-chat – of course, not everyone will be up for talking with strangers, but it does come in handy when playing with friends. However, there are no text chat options, so if you want to communicate with your team mates, voice is the only option.

Fates Forever may not introduce any ground breaking features, but it’s a well-made game, with a decent hero selection, smooth controls and plenty of content, so you can easily play it for hours on your iPad and still enjoy it.

Heroes of SoulCraft (Android)

Price: Free to play (with IAPs)

Heroes of SoulCraft

This is a fresh Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game that launched just a few months ago, and it’s an exciting release from the already popular SoulCraft team which is naturally based in the same-named universe.

I especially appreciate the option to choose between 2v2 matches which last about 5 minutes and 4v4 matches that generally last somewhere around 15 minutes. The hero assortment is limited to 12 characters, but they do have a variety of attack types – melee, range, mage and so on. It also introduces a classic MMO element, specifically companions (or pets) which are called Titans and accompany your character during matches.

Also, to maintain a great game experience, should a player leave in the middle of a match, a new player will be able to join and replace him. A unique trait of the game is the fact that it can be played cross-platform with other players on mobile or on PC, and it also comes with Android TV and controller support.

Like in other similar titles, characters can be unlocked using both in-game and real cash. There are other IAPs included, but the truth is, players can easily succeed in Heroes of SoulCraft without spending any money.

The game is still new so expect to encounter some bugs, glitches and slow loading times. The matchmaking system also works in weird (and unpleasant) ways sometimes. I suggest you go easy on Heroes of SoulCraft for now, but do give it a try (it’s totally worth it) and if it doesn’t work for you right now, keep an eye out for updates – it certainly doesn’t lack potential.

What’s your favorite game from our roundup and what other great MOBAs for Android and/or iOS have you discovered?

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