League of Legends vs. Heroes of the Storm

By David Piner -
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So, first let me start this by saying that League of Legends is a great game, but at the same time to me it's not a fun game. It's a great sport at this point, but it's no longer a game in the sense that it's fun to play for me. It's not an issue of skill or desire, but the games take a lot of setup and requires a lot of time and dedication. The community's skill level has reached a point that you really need to grind matches to get much of a clue and you can't creep into other heroes so easily anymore because you've got to super focus and dedicate to a few heroes or even just one in order to be able to not "suck" at a game, that for all intentions, with as many players, should be accessible to you. 

Blizzard's response to this is to of course, release a mass market MOBA aimed more at player's entertainment than their ELO, and I have finally had the chance to play it. Heroes of the Storm, for all intents and purposes, is shunned by the eSports community for being too "play-skool" in the sense that it's a boiled down version of a MOBA. Where there is a lot of setup, item selection, builds, and depth in LoL (or DotA2), there is literally nothing but actual combat in Heroes of the Storm. Strife goes and does some interesting changes to the formula to make it all more accessible, but HotS goes the full mile and removes gold, last hits, inventory, etc. and replaces it all with persistant hero talents that you unlock through playing the hero which carry over to other games. 

HotS is to League as Hearthstone is to Magic the Gathering. There is tons of depth in both HotS and Hearthstone, however, there is nowhere near the amount of technical depth that LoL and MTG have. There is strategy, but not the same type of strategy that is in LoL. Anyway, I promise to compare the two here and declare a winner based on my own bias. 

The major difference is literally the fact that HotS doesn't have an inventory system nor does it have gold, the entire game focuses on EXP gain, which allows you to purchase talents and have more than the standard QWER skills. Instead of buying potions, they're provided at healing fountains. Instead of buying wards you can unlock a talent to provide you with drones which act as wards. 

There is no income, nothing in the game is based on income, and the only thing gold works for is hero unlocks, which actually for some reason in the alpha aren't AS painful as they could be, you will get your first hero rather early on with the various rewards and such. Even though, 

Which system is better? Well - I think HotS is better, from a gameplay perspective. One of the big things that fatigues me is the investment into a specific game. The amount of choice you have to make, each item being so important to the fate of the game, and each bit of gold you earn having a serious impact on the game. Taking that away lets you focus on the game in of itself, which is part of the charm of Strife right, in the sense that the item system is way more simplified, making the entire process more simplified. 

Yet, I do see value in the way that League runs, and I don't dismiss the fact that a lot in the eSports community feel that the harder and more complicated something is, the better it is, right? Yet - if we think about it, many sports are super simple. Squash, Tennis, Volleyball, Baseball, etc. have rule lists that could easily be printed on a gum insert. Baseball and Football can get complex and they're considered top tier sports in America, but that doesn't mean that other complex sports like Golf are considered mainstream or really simple sports like racing (turn left a little for a few hours) where the rules are more about the cars than the actual driving where the rules are literally don't be a jerk and be first. 

The other major difference between the games, beyond semantically things like heroes and maps, is that HotS has a mount system, which allows you to return to battle quickly, versus League's lovable ability to either take a skill people will hate you for (Teleport), buy boots that people will hate you for depending on the hero (Boots of Mobility). Which again, is a great mechanic, but... 

In HotS you get into battle instantly quickly, you don't ever have to return too much about returning to town unless you really badly need to heal, each game you're more invested in your hero's experience than that hero in that game, and you get lost in just playing. Being your hero and fighting the other team and just, it's like an almost endless WoW Arena. 

Oh and some more advanced comparisons. In League, Support is either a class that can soak up the damage and help the carry get last hits or a healer who keeps the carry alive to last hit and suppress the enemy from last hitting, where in HotS in its current form, support classes are more or less heroes that can still kick ass (not that, depending on the patch, Sona couldn't kick some major rear), but are more debuffers / assaulters than something that sits around and has to literally be the team's bee eye tea see h. 

I think, again, both games are great. I got both installed, I've put enough of my life into League to be able to say that yeah I've played it, but right now I definitely see HotS being something more for the mass market players that just want to be entertained, and not specifically attempt to be working at being some kind of casual professional baseball player in the world of eSports.  

Now, the bigger question - is HotS an eSport? I think that's a question for another day, but remember that Karuta, which ruleset is simple. A deck of cards is shuffled, placed down half and half on each side, and the goal is to grab the card which is read outloud. If it's on your side, you'll need to cover it, if it's on the opponents side you need to grab it before they cover it. This is a big deal. Something more American is Poker, which the ruleset is literally printed with the card deck, and if you don't think Poker isn't a sport in America or across the world, then uh yeah, even though the terminology is technical and people say mind sport, it still shows up on ESPN. 

Anyway - the critical point here is that, I think as a game, HotS is superior in every form, but as something - more specific, something more nuanced, a game in a specific way if you will, then obviously League is going to scratch that itch. Let me put it out there this way - if you want a game where you can literally have no experience, take heroes down and/or assist towards the victory, then HotS is the game for you. If you want to be a true Internet hero and work your ass off to be good and understand the complex systems at play, then League is where you want to be. 

I think, honestly, both communities are probably okay with this idea, and I think I am to, although, again, this is my opinion and while yours may be different - that's okay. 

 

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About The Author

David "Xerin" Piner
Get in the bush with Xerin every week for his column, Respawn, as he analyzes the hottest trends, buzz topics, and absurdities in MMO gaming. In addition to his ongoing war against early access titles.

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