[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap]s most of you know, the MOBA scene really came to fruition with DotA (Defense of the Ancients). That debate around which MOBA game came first is viable, but not the reason for this post. From the DotA franchise (PC), we arrived at League of Legends (PC and Mac), and now VainGlory (iOS). As someone who has played all of these titles and can appreciate each of them in their own right, VainGlory brings a few things to the table that shouldn’t be so easily dismissed, and with its growing popularity it begs the question: Is VainGlory the future of MOBAs?
There are 3 main components to VainGlory that make it personally more enjoyable than League of Legends. This is not a post bashing LoL nor saying VainGlory is perfect.
The average match of VainGlory takes between 20-30 minutes. Despite similar claims from the LoL client, those of us who play League know the average game takes 45-60 minutes with the occasional 20 minutes surrender, with sometimes anywhere from 2-10 minutes being added while the match is loading and players’ hardware parsing the match info. This means, on average, you’ll be able to play twice the number of VainGlory matches as LoL matches in the same amount of time. Not only does this potentially double the amount of progression that can be made, it also creates a more dynamic experience, with the characters being played changing more often from match to match.
Another benefit of the shorter match length in VainGlory is the reduced number of mid-game leavers. Not that people in LoL would leave intentionally (…right?) but one thing I’ve noticed while playing my approximately 75 VainGlory matches is that I’ve had exactly 2 instances of a player leaving mid match. And one of those was AFK 3 seconds into the match. In LoL, the longer your match goes on the more likely it is to see ‘Hey guys, I need to leave…can we try to end this soon?’ followed by ‘Sorry guys, I gtg. GL.’ …Sometimes it’s not that nice, but we’ll look at positives here. That’s a bummer, and an unfortunate side-effect of longer battles, which VainGlory remedies by shortening match length.
There are benefits of playing a MOBA with the traditional mouse and keyboard, but we’ll get into that a little later. The fact that VainGlory can be played practically anywhere because it can be played over Wifi or Cellular Network expands the amount of time you can enjoy competing. If you meet a friend who plays the game as well, all you have to do is jump on your iPhone/iPad, add them, and even play a fairly quick (see above) match all in the same meeting. No more having to write down a username and saying “Okay, I’ll add you when I get home,” a small inconvenience but some thing that, once removed, opens the door to expanded community and match opportunities.
The other element mobility brings to the table is touch screen. While many players will opt for a QWER and Mouse set up for twitch reflex execution of combos, touch screen can add another level of complexity to matches. Now, executing those same combinations of abilities and enemy selection is even more difficult and impressive. Something that can be looked at as the challenge of another layer of complexity, or a nuisance that requires relearning. I choose the former.
I firmly believe that strong community is what allows any online multiplayer game to flourish. The in-game community of LoL is best described as toxic. While playing public matches, players are subjected to verbal abuse, taunting, and either are left by frustrated teammates, or leave themselves because it reaches a point where the game is no longer enjoyable. While this is not always the case, my 3 years of playing LoL has opened my eyes to this consistent nature of the game, either first hand when I’m having a bad match, or through watching other players go through a rough game.
VainGlory has dealt with this problem with the absence of a key feature: in-game chat. Whether the effect of not having in-game chat was intentional or unintentional can be debated, but what I have noticed while playing VainGlory is that I am having more fun because teammates or opponents aren’t berating or taunting each other. I feel confident saying that most cases of LoL ragequit begin in the chat box. A teammate calls out another for playing poorly, the player having a bad game retaliates, and things escalate until one of the players leaves the match. Riot has the Honor system and The Tribunal to help remedy these things, but the state of the community is proof that these measures are not achieving the desired effect of improving behavior. Removing the chat box in VainGlory simultaneously removes the mouthpiece for taunting and abuse, which in turn keeps things from ever escalating. The counter argument here could be: What about when I need to communicate with my team? It has been my experience in LoL that all of the collaborative communication that needs to be done can be accomplished with the in-game ping system, which VainGlory has.
I enjoy both games. Recently, I have found myself opting for VainGlory over LoL for these key reasons: shorter matches, equally fun gameplay with expanded mobility, and little to no toxic community environment. Ultimately, I’m happier after playing VainGlory. And isn’t this what gaming is all about? The enjoyment? Each game has its merits, though. As far as professional gaming goes, VainGlory is still too young to compare to LoL. But for the vast majority of casual, or unprofessional gamers. Fun and enjoyment should be key.
Respect each other in the comments.