MOBA games are all the rage nowadays, with League of Legends causing an uproar in the free-to-play segment. The genre is gaining more and more fans each day and several studios are betting on it, with more games trying to claim their share of players. We chose the hottest Top 10 free MOBA Games to Play in 2012!
10. SmashMuck Champions (In closed beta)
Published by Kiz Studios and still in closed beta, SmashMuck Champions begins a look at MOBA games. Currently, there are 16 zany champions for players to lead into battle, each a little bit more psychotic and strange than the last. The game runs like any other MOBA but it approaches the genre at a bit of an angle by providing a series of different game modes from capture the flag, control points, and resource war alongside the standard tower-defense style.
As what might become a claim to fame is the interesting style that SmashMuck intend to bring to the playing field.
Play Now: SmashMuck Champions
Huge monsters stomping down lanes like giants and colorful spells splashing across the battlefield like fireworks rings in the colorful MOBA extravaganza that is Avalon Heroes by Alaplaya. It’s an all-out fantasy game that provides a fast-paced arena action with a great deal of spirit. In order to promote the game and the foundation behind it, Alaplaya holds eSports championships and even has veteran teams who take their heroes on the road in grand tournaments with their reputations on the line.
With a set of different modes, players can go head-to-head head in the Battle mode, fight against a legendary monster in Arena mode, or co-op with up to eight friends in Adventure mode to take on boss monsters.
Play Now: Avalon Heroes
Alaplaya sets themselves a eighth place with an extremely unique offering to the MOBA genre with a game that combines a third-person shooter aspect instead of the click-to-move approach. As an arena game Land of Chaos Online has the looks of an Asian-themed fantasy setting and some pretty fair graphics to boot. In order to keep the battles flowing, players can take three champions onto the firing range, this makes it possible to switch in and out when waiting to respawn after dying. Players receive ten talents for all their heroes; but can only bring five talents with them to the battlefield.
There are two game modes, one of which is the standard DotA, lane-pushing, tower defense and the second one is a battle royale of no-holds-barred fight to the death between multiple opponents.
Play Now: Land of Chaos Online
7. Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes
The fantasy world of Warhammer is probably best known to tabletop RPG players but it extends nicely to the online gaming market because it contains every fantasy fiction trope to ever grace the pages of a genre novel. Bioware Mythic Studio developed this game with that as a foundation and distilled down many of the elements of MOBA and DoTA-style games but then came away with something slightly different.
Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes adds a 6x6x6 (three-way) PvP game style that isn’t seen in other MOBAs and gives it an interestingly unique quality amid its brethren. It includes elements such as allowing players to change hero before the next spawn (allowing teams to change their loadout and tactics mid-game) and a mastery point system that adds experience not to individual characters but to players. It also provides the usual game play modes such as all-out PvP, capture-the-flag, and another variation on capture-the-flag that involves picking up resources (runes) and running them home.
Play Now: Wrath of Heroes
Petroglyph Games developed and published this MOBA title and snagged distribution on Steam. Heavily inspired by the DoTA model, Rise of Immortals provides both PvE and PvP styles to allow players to find all the competition and gameplay that they need. RoI takes the character-based leveling model and eschews account-leveling, meaning that players can focus on one hero (or “immortal”) and bring them up personally through the ranks with an extremely complex character trait system.
Like a few other MOBA games on the market, Rise of Immortals features a social region that allows players to bring out their avatars and show off their rankings and their enhancements in an avatar-chat setting. Both PvP and PvE game types model themselves off DoTA and involve mutli-lane maps, towers, minions, inhibitors, and gameplay that anyone who plays a MOBA will know well.
Play Now: Rise of Immortals
5. SMITE (In closed beta)
Hi-Rez Studios (also known for their shooters Tribes Ascend and Global Agenda) is getting into the MOBA market with their soon-to-be-released SMITE. According to the developers, the game is heavily based on the DoTA-styled gameplay and leverages the advantages of the Unreal 3 engine to produce beautiful graphics and provide a fast-paced, blazing-glory MOBA game for the players.
The game will have a strongly mythology based presentation and looking at many of the characters there’s representations from Greek, Hindu, Northern European, and Western folklore. The Unreal 3 graphics engine makes every video from this game a beautiful sight to behold and demonstrates the game as an in-close-and-personal into-the-fray style of fighting (where many MOBAs play best zoomed out and seeing the map.)
Play Now: SMITE
4. Super Monday Night Combat (In closed beta)
One Monday Night Combat wasn’t enough, so Uber Entertainment saw fit to produce a free-to-play MOBA version in this incarnation as Super Monday Night Combat (Super MNC). As a sort of combination of third-person-shooter with battle arena, MNC hearkens back to the concept of to-the-death gladiatorial combat sport, fought by clones for the love and adulation of bloodthirsty television watchers of the future. Players are thrust into a class-based arena battle and pressed to fight for cash, fame, and endorsements.
While it’s class based (and there will be six classes available) there’s also a feature that allows players to unlock their own set of upgradable skills, providing essentially a custom class. However, most players will probably fit well with the six pre-existing classes.
The game is available across both Steam and Xbox LIVE Arcade and brings with it a lot of nostalgia about the original Monday Night Combat. Science fiction movies and games about bloodthirsty future-based gladiatorial combat have been played out in numerous times but as usual MNC takes the cake with a particular brand of brutality combined with the ring of the bell and brutally intense combat.
Play Now: Super MNC
This MOBA comes to us with a series of accolades, developed by Sweden-based Stunlock Studios and published by Funcom, Bloodline Champions made “Game of the Year” and “Winner XNA” in the 2009 Swedish Game Awards and eventually released in North America in 2011. There are three game modes fought between two factions of up to five players each: team deathmatch arena game, a capture-the-flag game called “Capture the Artifact,” and a map control point game called “Conquest.”
Being a class-based MOBA there are four archetypical champions who provide melee attack, ranged attack, healing/support, and tank defense. Amid these there are 25 bloodlines with six champions in each category. Each bloodline provides a set of abilities and this benefits from the skill and choice of the player. Once a champion goes down, they stay down until the end of the round.
Play Now: Bloodline Champions
Heroes of Newerth is developed and published by S2 Games and it has seen a lot of critical acclaim and a great deal of popularity. As a MOBA it reached over 100,000 concurrent players as of March 2012, and it has seen over 12.3 million downloads. As a game, HoN started out buy-to-play but turned into a proper free-to-play online game as of July 2011. It has all the elements necessary to be a high contender in the MOBA market, with over 101 heroes, a DOTA style of gameplay, and a vast player base to meet on the battlefield.
This MOBA runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux making it a highly accessible game. It’s touted as a science-fantasy archetype due to the immense array of heroes available for play. Many of them also have skins and alternate looks that can be bought via microtransactions. Like the usual DOTA it has a few maps which players can test their might against one another.
Play Now: Heroes of Newerth
1. League of Legends
As the undisputed king of the MOBA market, League of Legends by Riot Games stalks the dark jungles of the online gaming community with pride. Since it’s open beta in October 2009 (which it remained as such until it transitioned into full release) it has received accolades and adulation from a multitude of players. In 2011, LoL received a Golden Joystick Award for Best Free-to-Play Game; in 2010 the 1st Game Developers Online Choice Awards Audience Award from Gamastutra (among many); and an award from IGN and Gamespy in 2009.
Cutting a chip right off the old block of DoTA, League of Legends is still today the MOBA to beat for any contender looking for the top of the market. LoL uses a microtransactions freemium model to draw in users who want access to the champion of their choice and to customize their look. This choice has seen Riot Games a lot of favor and done them extremely well.
League of Legends boasts lots of champions to choose from, multiple game modes, and a familiar DoTA game style and maps. As an online game they have also gotten into the eSports arena with ladder rankings, providing a chance for excellent players to complete in “$100,000 Global Finals” at the end of each season. They participated in the 2010 World Cyber Games in Los Angeles and the Dreamhack World Championships in 2011. Further future tournaments are planned.
Play Now: League of Legends
Like any emerging genre, MOBA games are still finding their stride. Looking at the bold array sighted above, the fierce competition near the top of the charts, and the introduction of yet new games, we can probably safely say that 2012 will see a lot of development.
We hope you enjoy our Top 10 free MOBA Games to Play in 2012 and don’t forget to share your own top MOBA Games with us!
*This page will be updated from time to time so don´t forget to share your top 10!
By Kyt Dotson