Esports Exploration: What makes Dota2 and LoL different?

Sun 20th Mar 2016 - 8:15am Gaming Esports Exploration

Ocean Esports gathered opinions from both sides and tried as much as possible to keep a true debate without biased arguments. Three people were involved in this article representing all sides: Bashiru Corbeek ‘Anansi’ who is an experienced Dota2 player and Thomas Dietvoorst ‘Zeltius’ who is an experienced LoL player. Yiri Guittin ‘Jamesdeano’ who is an intermediate player in both games, will be the interviewer and had the role of mediator. None of us are experts and pretend to know everything about the games, but our experience should be enough to have an accurate debate. Here are a few conclusions and reasons we agreed on which make Dota2 and League of Legends different.

First, it has been agreed upon that Dota 2 tends to be more appealing for ‘hardcore’ gamers and is not necessarily made for a mainstream audience. LoL and Dota have the same gameplay and a lot of similar characteristics will be found in both games. So what exactly makes it so that Dota has this hardcore reputation which LoL does not have?

As far as pleasurability and complexity are concerned, the two games are similar. The complexity in LoL is as detailed and specific to the game as it is in Dota. It takes a very long time in both games before having the knowledge and the understanding of all the mechanisms of the game. Skills such as communication, timing, consistency, team plays, and individual skills are as important for both MOBAs. The number of characters (heroes/champions) is incredibly high in both games, meaning that there are numerous spells, items, team fights, combos and team lineups to know and master before becoming good at the game. One difference in these mechanisms that makes Dota more ‘hardcore’ than LoL, is that it seems to be more punitive for beginners. The loss of resources is bigger when you die in Dota, and the deny mechanic can make you have a very hard time in the laning phase. LoL offers a better level of accessibility and pleasurability during the learning process of the in game mechanisms, which does not mean that it is easier to learn. It means that League will teach you the basics of the game faster and in a less punitive way than in Dota.  

We found out that the biggest differences between the two games are principally due to the interaction of the characters with their environment. LoL has catchy graphics, fantasy and cartoony oriented champions and minions. The game has many colors and is visually appealing for a majority of people. The details in the background of the map and inside the game transports you into a fairytale battlefield in which you feel comfortable. Dota 2 is darker, with more detailed and aggressive graphics and the jungle seems to be a real living forest. The animations of spells and fights are more violent and it provides a more intense experience to the game. Dota’s map is bigger, more hostile and transports you into the middle of a war zone that has no mercy.  

This can explain why the interaction with the environment is very different in both of the games. On the one hand, LoL’s map does not interact much with the champions; they cannot change the structure of the walls, trees or bushes. However, they will be able to jump or cast spells through them.

One the other hand, the map in Dota and how it is constructed adds a lot to the basic game strategies. The trees can be ‘eaten’, cut down or destroyed by items and spells. They are also a way to hide from the enemy as you can always blink into the middle of trees. Also, the cliffs and variations of ground levels are a huge part of the in-game mechanisms and strategies. This aspect is a prominent factor that differentiates the two games. Dota is built on different levels around the map. At some spots, the heroes have to go up ramps and stairs where they will be on high ground. It means that the heroes below on low ground, have a certain chance to miss their attacks and spells casted on heroes on high ground. Also, heroes on low ground do not have vision on high ground as long as they are not up there. This detail does not exist in LoL and makes a very big difference between the two games.

As far as the community of each game is concerned, we find again a lot of similarities. However, LoL is way more popular and therefore attracts more and also younger people. It has been mentioned that the massive number of young people makes communication hard in some cases as these people tend to be less communicative or present less composure than mature audiences. On the other hand, Dota is famous for being one of the games with the most ‘haters’ and ingame flaming culture. An argument not agreed upon by either conversation as it was said that both games had their fair share of flamers and haters.

To conclude, it appeared that the everlasting duel between the two games does not make so much sense. LoL and Dota present similar characteristics and are equally hard if you want to excel at the game. LoL has done a better job of making the game mainstream and popular across the globe, presenting the most widely played MOBA and game ever created so far with 67,000,000 monthly players. Dota is more intense and aggressive, by providing more variety and in game mechanics to the heroes, spells, items and the interaction with the map.




Your Comments

  • First of all thanks for the compliment! I've heard a bit about the fact that there are more skill shots in League of legends, but I honestly didn't know it was to such a great extent. I do see how they could make the game more appealing though, I'd agree therefore that there is less skill involved in dota in that specific aspect, but as a whole, I believe Dota is the more mentally taxing game. This article by quantic foundry shows quite well the two games that seem to be the most mentally taxing; I believe that this is one of the main difficulty in any esports; the ability of the mind to withstand the pressure the respective game is applying to it. It should be noted that LoL is still quite close, and just means that Dota players are a little bit masochistic. So to cap off about the skill shot dynamic, I believe it's simply different, but not more difficult either way. This may seem unrelated, but I believe the difficulty of a game comes from the players playing it at that point in time, they create deeper layers of strategy and difficulty than the developers of the game ever came up with. The enormous prize differential will be touched upon in a later article for esports in general. The ways in which they're funded makes a big difference in the way the competitive scene has to act, digitalization of currency is involved. It's all very interesting, hopefully that's a sneak peak.
  • Hey guys, Like the article, I had some thoughts I wanted to back and forth with a bit hope thats alright. 1) I have quite sime friends who play LoL, (im a DoTanian) and in my efforts to bring them to do the dark side they have -in varying degrees expressed their dislike of dota. The main theme that seems to come back is the lack of skill shots in dota, they consider target skills and click abilities less skill-full so to speak. Personally I disagree, where dota may minimise skillshots it excells in game depth, ergo there are counters to every spell which we need to be aware of. Frankly im a noob to LoL but maybe you can enlighten a bit. What do you make of the skill shot dynamic in both games? 2) One thing I kind of missed from the article was a reference to the enormous prize differential. How on earth is Dota able to gather such a pool even when it clearly is less mainstream as you say.

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