The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide.
In recent years, gamers have been divided over the rise of the multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA. Born from a Warcraft III mod, MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA2 now boast millions of players, and famously offer prize pools in the millions of dollars at esports events. Obviously, lots of people like these games a lot.
Yet a lot of game fans just can’t understand them. Console gamers, can’t get their heads around the mouse-and-keyboard play; “you’re just clicking on things! You’re not doing anything!”. Even PC gamers who might enjoy RTS games don’t always see the appeal of controlling one character at a time like that.
MOBA enthusiasts, of course, will refer you to the tactical metagame above the moment-to-moment pointing and clicking. The lanes, controlling the battlefield, picking off legions of minions between brief clashes with other champions. They’ll tell you how complex it is watching the whole battle, dashing from location to location and capturing points.
All of that sounds awfully familiar. I’d love to play a game with that battlefield complexity but with the kind of analogue controls with which I’m familiar. I’d be more involved if the camera was tucked in close rather than hovering over events. I’d enjoy the gameplay if I had button combos and action controls instead of moves picked from a list.
The Dynasty Warriors series also divides gamers, albeit more thanks to their misunderstanding the game than because they’ve played it and found it lacking. The game has an unfair reputation as a simple-minded button basher, but fans make the same arguments as a MOBA advocate.
Unfortunately, the Dynasty Warriors thus far haven’t embraced online multiplayer or, for the most part, competitive multiplayer at all. I still feel that if developers Omega Force decided to unite these divided kingdoms, they’d kick all kinds of ass.
People lose their minds over Amumu, Teemo and Ahri but Lu Bu and Cao Cao have had a fanbase in the billions for centuries. Financially, MOBA developers can never seem to decide how to sell their games, with free-to-play this and piecemeal purchases never fully satisfying fans. Warriors fans buy the same game every few years, with XL and Empires versions on top.
Omega Force don’t make MOBAs but if they did, they’d probably be the greatest MOBAs in the world.
By Luke Summerhayes