Defense of the Ancients 2 vs. League of Legends: Which One is Better?

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games grew from relative obscurity and are now the biggest sensation in PC gaming to date. They are celebrated for their seeming-simplicity but gamers will tell you that playing is a complex, challenging and competitive experience. Most MOBAs allow two teams of player-controlled heroes (usually with 5 members each) to fight each other on a map with three lanes which are connected to each team’s base.

Players must strategize and make decisions in real-time with the central objective of destroying their opponent’s base. Heroes work together to defeat the opposing team with the assistance of computer-controlled minions and turrets which advance along set paths. Gamers enjoy having characters with multiple abilities and advantages which improve over the course of a game and which assist in improving a team’s strategy. Along the way, players earn points for experience and new skills, gold and equipment. They also have opportunities to destroy certain monsters in the area between lanes for boosts.

Without a doubt, LoL and Dota 2 have helped make MOBAs one of the biggest trends in gaming but one big question looms in the minds of the most avid fans… Which game is better: Dota 2 or League of Legends? And while we would be hard-pressed to really try to change anyone’s mind, we can tell you some good reasons why we feel that LoL is, all-around, the better MOBA.

MOBA Back Story

MOBA games have been around for almost 20 years when Aeon of Strife was released by a modder named Aeon64. Since then, the video game genre has grown. By the time Defense of the Ancients (Dota) was released in 2002, a solid groundwork had already been laid for the MOBA genre and it had amassed a respectable following.

League of Legends (LoL) was inspired by Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and Defense of the Ancients and was released in 2009. Since its release, LoL has had a major impact upon the PC gaming industry and, in 2014; there were as many as 27 million active players each day. The same year that LoL was released, Defense of the Ancients 2 was also introduced, but, to much less fanfare.

LoL Wins in Terms of Player Count

Long queue times are a definite no-no for MOBA gamers and that’s where a high player count comes into play. There are so many MOBAs to choose from; so, why would anyone bother with one that doesn’t have tons of people playing? Both Dota 2 and LoL have millions of active fans and followers who play the game each month.

However, LoL easily emerges as the victor in this category. While Defense of the Ancients 2 enjoys a respectable 13.5 million active monthly players, League of Legends reports more than 100 million active players each month. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at! Because it has many more players that Dota 2, LoL is the pick if shorter queue times and more players is important to you.

LoL Wins in Terms of Accessibility

One of the major reasons that people tend to prefer League of Legends to Defense of the Ancients 2 is that LoL is more accessible that Dota 2. Overall, LoL loads more easily on poorer internet connections which is a plus for gamers in much of Southeast Asia. But that’s not the only reason that LoL wins in terms of accessibility.

On LoL, dying is not as big of a deal because you don’t lose much gold and even if you get smacked around two or three times you don’t have to worry about falling far behind your teammates.

Dota 2 is a lot more punitive in that regard. Unlike LoL, if you get killed or if you are forced to return to your base two or three times during the laning phase; you will find yourself several levels and tons of gold behind. At that point, it will be very hard to catch up. If you are a new player, it could be practically impossible to get back into the game. New players also find that LoL has helpful tutorials on every topic imaginable, including video tutorials.

Dota 2 Wins in Terms of Difficulty

Overall, Dota 2 is considered to be the more difficult game and it is often preferred by more experienced players. For newbies, LoL is much less complex and easier to learn and play. But there are other things to consider. For example, if you are a player with bad mechanics, LoL will actually be harder for you than Dota 2. But, if you are a player that struggles with positioning, map awareness or item optimization, Dota 2 will end up being more of a challenge for you. Most players of both games would agree that Dota 2 is a bit more difficult for the new player to learn because it is more complex and has more layers and options than LoL.

Another reason that Dota 2 appears to be more complex is that every hero has a different cast time and it really takes a lot of experience before you can remember every hero’s unique animation traits. Dota 2 also has more item variety which makes for complex build paths. Also, Dota 2 is a highly strategic game, especially if a player is in Captain’s Mode (used by professional players).

LoL Wins in Terms of Ease of Play

When compared with Dota 2, there are several things that make LoL easier to play. In LoL there is no lag in the cast time. Instead, all attacks and spells occur instantly for every champion. Gamers who play LoL may also enjoy the fact that there are simpler build paths and a smaller map which doesn’t have trees and bushes or hills and mountains to obstruct a player’s vision.

For new players, the fact that the game is highly role-specific with a smaller number of heroes to choose from when you first start out can be off-putting. However, having a heavier reliance on a team and less need for an individual to carry the team removes a lot of pressure from individual players. As newbies get more and more into the game and learn more about how to play, they are rewarded and become more successful at playing over time.

Both games’ level of difficulty also depends upon the skill level of your opponents, however, players of both games are quick to note that the burden of knowledge for Dota 2 is much higher and it takes years of experience before you can truly excel in the game.

Dota 2 Wins in Terms of Hero Design

Measuring hero design between the two games is actually pretty complicated. There is more to consider than just the visual effect and artistic styling of the heroes. It’s also smart to take into account the number of available heroes, the development of heroes and their skills and so on. While the visual design of heroes is a matter of what each person prefers, if you’re looking for something more colorful and a little more “out there,” you’ll prefer LoL.

But, if you like darker characters, you’ll find Dota 2’s approach to be better. While Dota 2 has far fewer characters than LoL, one big bonus is that they are all available to new players on day one.

In LoL, new players only have access to 10 heroes and they have to earn new ones as they go along. Also Dota 2’s characters give players many more highly specialized options and each character has its own unique style of play. While LoL has more characters, its champions are not as specialized as those on Dota 2 and so they don’t seem to have as much uniqueness when it comes to individual skills and game style.

Finally, champions in LoL go up to level 18 while Dota 2 goes up to level 25. This makes Dota 2 more challenging because it takes longer to complete a match and also to reach the cap of 25. Once players each the cap, they have full access to all of their champion’s skill set which is much less likely to happen in Dota 2. Players of Dota 2 complain that it is hard to grow in the game and you are severely punished if you fall a little behind.

Dota 2 Wins in Terms of Hero Skills

Players of both games will notice the similarities in hero skills right away, and this has a lot to do with the fact that some of them were designed by the same person. Success in both games is heavily based on hero skills like Amumus, Urgots Ultimates vs. Treants and Vengeful Spirits Ultimates. It kind of goes without saying that there is a greater variety of skills in Dota 2.

Skills cost more mana, have longer range, do more damage, cause longer silence effects and more. Players enjoy features such as perma-invisibility, teleporting, 5 second stuns and more. But players have to be careful because in Dota 2, a lot of skills are a double-edged sword. For example, there’s a skill that you can use which accidentally stuns your own team for 5 seconds if placed wrong (Void’s Chronosphere). Also, you can teleport yourself into a 5man gank without anyone noticing what you’re doing with Wisp’s relocate.

LoL and Dota 2’s Maps are a Draw

Most gamers would agree that both the Dota 2 and LoL maps are, in principle, pretty similar. They both feature 3 lanes which consist of top, middle and bottom. They both have a jungle which can be used during play, even though each game approaches this differently. In Dota 2, each team has one lane that allows pulling of creeps to neutral camps (which allows players to gain more XP by killing neutral camps early and denying some XP to your opponent).

Also, in Dota 2, there are two sides lanes of different lengths. The bottom (or top for Dire) is closer to the base and tower, while the top (or bottom for Dire) is further from both the base and tower. On the other hand, in LoL, the lanes are all equal in length. An advantage of having lanes that are equal in length is that there is balance during the laning phase. As such, your opponent doesn’t have an advantage just because of his lane. Instead, the person who makes the bigger plays wins the lanes which is slightly less true in Dota 2. However, Dota 2’s lanes make the game more complex and create some flexibility in lineups.

Another similarity that both games share is the fog of war. In League of Legends, players can manipulate vision in the fog to their advantage. In Dota 2, players have improved vision on higher ground. Dota 2 also has environmental intricacies such as trees that can be destroyed to improve vision or used to hide from opponents. Dota 2 players enjoy the day and night cycle, which limits vision during the night. Many players love Legend’s map because it has neutral camps that offer bonuses. The timing respawn of neutral camps adds an edge to the game and forces showdowns.

The Wrap-Up

All in all, gamers will find that both games are really good at different things. While Legends has more players and is a lot more accessible, Dota 2 has better character development and is more difficult, which may attract more experienced gamers who find that while it is more punitive, it can also be greatly rewarding.

Newbies opt for LoL which is much easier to learn because there isn’t a steep learning curve due to layers upon knowledge which are required to really do well in Dota 2. For those who are just looking to kick back and relax, LoL is the definite pick, especially if you crave more fun with more people and more creative graphics. For those who are really willing to put in the time to master a game along with the help of 4 reliable friends, your hard work could result in a well-deserved victory on Dota 2.

For sure, every little mistake will cost you dearly in this game and you will certainly pay every time, but, whenever you do succeed in beating the other team, you can punish them and reap numerous rewards! All in all, we feel that LoL is the better game but we’ll let you be the judge. Is Dota 2 better than LoL? Let us know what you think!