League of Legends or Dota 2? That is a question that a lot of gamers have been debating since market analysis firm DFC Intelligence released what turned out to be a faulty report back in April which claimed Dota 2 actually had more players than League of Legends did. Although it turned out to be not even close to true (Riot Games has said there are over five million LoL players and Steam statistics show there are only around 300,000 people on Dota 2 each day), it did get a lot of people on forums arguing about which game was better. I had never played Dota 2 before that but have been playing it since the report came out.
After several weeks, I have concluded that League of Legends is a far superior game overall. It’s easy to simply blurt out that conclusion so here is a point-by-point comparison of each games advantages and disadvantages from my perspective.
Advantage: Dota 2
The reasoning behind this is obvious – all of the champions are free in Dota 2. You can select any champion from the roster you want to play from your very first game. Champions in League of Legends, however, will either cost you RP (which are obtained by spending real money) or massive amounts of IP. Many champions cost 6,300 IP which can take weeks if not months for casual players to accumulate. Depending on what game mode you play most, you can earn as little as 40 IP per game. Not adjusting for the one-time 150 IP bonus for your first win each day, that would mean you have to play over 150 games to unlock one new champion. Give me a break. Riot should really do away with this system and just make everybody free.
There are also no runes/quintessences or masteries in Dota 2 which I think make the game fairer. Say you have a low level account and want to play with a friend. You are already going into each game of League of Legends at a disadvantage because you have worse runes and fewer mastery points than your opponents do. If Riot wants to keep the runes and mastery systems, they should just have one tier and make them free to all players right off the bat. This would allow for players to customize a set of runes to their specific playstyle or champion, but not reward players for simply having played more games than someone else. The same should be done with masteries. Just unlock all 30 points from level one and use it as a means of player customization, not player rewards.
Advantage: League of Legends
League of Legends looks a lot more polished compared to Dota 2. I was literally shocked at how bad Dota 2’s graphics were when I first fired it up. The game’s sprites look blocky and undetailed even on the highest graphics setting. Just look at the screenshot comparison at the top of this article for yourself. It is obvious League of Legends is much more detailed. Playing Dota 2 feels like I’m back playing the original use map settings custom map on Warcraft III. Considering the first DOTA came out in 2003 and it is now 2013, that is a bad thing. League of Legends just looks much better. Period.
And why isn’t edge scrolling enabled by default in Dota 2 like in EVERY OTHER GAME EVER? (Edge scrolling is the ability to scroll around the map by bringing your mouse to the edge of the screen). There is no reason I should have to go into a menu and turn this very basic game function on.
Advantage: Dota 2
Dota 2 seems to have a more friendly community than League of Legends does. I was so lost in my first couple of games that I didn’t even know how to bring up the scoreboard. I eventually asked my teammates to help me. While asking for help in League of Legends gets you trolled, my allies in Dota 2 actually took the time to explain everything to me. One of them even plugged in his microphone just to walk me through what I should be doing.
I ran into surprisingly few trolls on Dota 2. Compare that to League of Legends in which every single game seems to have at least one or two toxic players in it. Why is it that the game WITH the Tribunal has more trolls than one without? This seems to be even more evidence the Tribunal doesn’t really work. Remember, this is based off my personal experience so maybe yours has been different.
Advantage: Dota 2
Dota 2’s map is a lot better than League of Legends’ Summoner’s Rift, in my opinion. First of all, Dota 2’s map is bigger. While this definitely slows down the gameplay, it also forces players to use a lot more teamwork because it takes longer to get to the next lane. Pulling off a gank is a lot harder because there is more of a chance of you being seen. Dota 2 also doesn’t have those ridiculous bushes that people hide in on Summoner’s Rift. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, ambushing someone from the bushes doesn’t take skill. A good rule of thumb is as follows: if your opponent did not have an equal opportunity of killing you as you did them, then getting a kill on them did not take any skill. Since Dota 2 doesn’t have those bushes, that automatically means it’s harder to ambush. You have to actually fight your opponents in this game.
Another cool aspect of Dota 2’s map is the environmental intractability. You can knock down trees with spells and items. Players can actually escape into the forest! That is awesome! Height of the map plays a role in your visibility so for example, going into the river will restrict your view of whats on the other side. There are also hidden items shops speckled around the map that sell more powerful items than the standard in-base shop does.
One other reason I like Dota 2’s map more is that the minions play a bigger role. The two sides actually have names: Radiant and Dire. The sides in LoL are simply referred to as the “Red” and “Blue” team. Snore. Minions also do a lot more damage on Dota 2. Even as a hero, you really don’t want to straight up engage groups of enemy minions in Dota 2 because they will hurt you pretty badly. Although avoiding damage from minions is something that players in League of Legends often worry about as well, they can easily clear enemy waves by themselves. You feel much more like part of an army in Dota 2 as opposed to feeling like a one man wrecking crew in League of Legends.
Advantage: League of Legends
The items shop in Dota 2 is a train wreck. It is very unorganized and hard to find what you are looking for because you can’t sort it by specific stats, only by specific categories of items. For example, say you want some items that have lifesteal, you can’t sort by that (at least to my knowledge). Dota 2’s recipe system is also a lot more confusing. There are some items you need an actual item called a “recipe” for which by itself does absolutely nothing. Others you can build just by obtaining all of their components but the way the shop is laid out, using a branching flow chart, can sometimes make it difficult to discern exactly what items you still need on the fly. When I’m in a hurry to just buy something and get back to the battlefield, I don’t want to waste my time reading flow charts. I often found myself standing around at the items shop trying to determine what to get. That is never a problem in League of Legends because everything is laid out right there for you.
Dota 2 also has a lot more items with active abilities. That is not a good thing because it makes the game needlessly complicated (some would argue that it is a good thing because it makes the game more skillful – I respectfully disagree). It is very common to go through entire League of Legends games without having any items that need to be activated.
Dota 2 is simply too focused on items and not the Champions or the players. If you don’t know what you are doing in terms of item builds, you will be completely useless. League of Legends actually allows players more opportunity to successfully experiment with different types of items. On the other hand, players in Dota 2 can become almost invincible once they get a certain item. One item will rarely give anybody that kind of power in League of Legends.
Oh, and requiring items such as the Town Portal Scroll just to recall back to the base is really, really stupid.
Advantage: League of Legends
League of Legends just seems more balanced overall. A lot of this builds on what I was saying in the items section earlier. There are many items that are just way too powerful in Dota 2. Others are a complete waste of gold.
The hero abilities are also quite ridiculous. I remember in one game I played, the very first confrontation I had with a level one enemy, he used a level one ability to deal 400 damage to me. I was almost dead from ONE HIT at the beginning of the game. That is pretty silly. Even hitting a Teemo with a spear from Nidalee at the start of a game isn’t going to drain 80% of his hp right off the bat. It’s not just a problem early on either, but getting instantly melted seemed to be very common later in Dota 2 games during team fights as well.
Another aspect of the game that I believe contributes to the lack of balance in Dota 2 is that different champions have different stats that do different things. For example, increasing the agility of one champion might also increase his attack damage whereas another champion will need you to increase his strength to do that. That makes sense from an RPG standpoint but makes things much too complicated in terms of a MOBA. First of all, that means items are going to do different things for you based on what champion you are playing. Something that increases agility might be an attack damage item for one guy but not for another. No wonder the items don’t seem very balanced!
Again, League of Legends is much more simplified and just has a stat called “attack damage” and then items that increase it. There is still a variety in champion roles because some champions rely on attack damage and other champions rely on ability power.
The different stats among heroes also makes it so players need to be intimately familiar with every single hero on the roster to know what their capabilities are. At the time of this writing, there are over 100 heroes playable in Dota 2. What are the chances that a casual player is going to have memorized the statistical effects for every hero? ‘
In League of Legends, players only really need to be familiar with which of the four main roles that each champion fits into to accurately determine their capabilities. In my opinion, the four main roles are AD, AP, tank, and support. I realize that there are lots of other roles like “assassin” or “jungler” but in terms of being able to predict what a champion is generally capable of, you need to look at whether they are AD, AP, tank, or support. That is a lot more straightforward.
In conclusion, League of Legends is a much more user friendly game. Some might try to argue that it is easier and “noobier” but not being overly complicated does not mean the game is for “noobs.” It just means the game has a better design. Keep in mind that Dota 2 is still technically in its beta phase so perhaps some of these issues will be addressed if and when it ever sees a full release.