MOBA games have been a massive pillar in the gaming community ever since it was created on a modder’s PC back in the early days of gaming. However, the sheer quantity of MOBA games available is daunting. Thus, we’re here today to show you 10 of the best MOBA games you can play on PC, either installed or emulated. But before we showcase our picks for the best MOBA games, let’s ask ourselves a little question, shall we? What exactly is a MOBA?
What Is A MOBA?
MOBAs, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas. They’re kind of, sort of, a subgenre to strategy games. Mostly because the genre was created from a strategy game, specifically Starcraft 1’s Aeon of Strife. However, the real start of MOBAs began on Warcraft 3, because when that game came out, someone had a pretty awesome idea. Take some of the units from the base game, give them abilities, get 2 teams of 5, and make them fight to the death on a 3-lane map. To win, they need to destroy the enemy Ancient located on their team’s base. Teamwork is necessary, and very much encouraged. After all, if you don’t work together, your team is sure to lose.
That map, called Defense of the Ancients, was one of, if not the most popular map ever made on Warcraft 3, spawning many iterations and versions. The map was created by Eul. However, he made it open-source, so a lot of developers added their versions of DotA. Eventually, it came to Guinsoo, who co-developed it with Pendragon to create DotA Allstars. A map that added many popular heroes, items, and other things from different DotA iterations into a single, awesome map.
All things would come to an end, however, as Guinsoo would eventually stop developing the map, giving the reins to IceFrog. IceFrog was an absolute beast of a developer, though very reclusive. However, it’s these constant updates and contributions that gave us the DotA we know and love today. The game became a massive inspiration to other MOBAs and formed the foundation of the genre.
Eul, Guinsoo, and Pendragon gave their contributions, don’t get us wrong. Guinsoo and Pendragon even made League of Legends thanks to their experience with DotA. Without those three and IceFrog, we wouldn’t have the MOBA genre as it stands today.
Changes To The MOBA Genre
However, MOBAs as a genre is an ever-changing thing, and a lot of games now bear the MOBA subgenre. Even if the gameplay similarities are superficial. After all, you have to separate yourself from the competition if you want to stand out. Examples of MOBAs that changed the formula that is on this list are Smite, Paladins, and Overwatch. All told, they took some of the things that MOBAs popularized and made them their own.
Overall, change is a good thing, and the more positive things added to the MOBA subgenre, the better off it would be. Only time would tell what these changes will herald though, and hopefully, they will be good ones.
10 Best MOBA Games To Play On PC
Now that we know what MOBAs are, let’s talk about MOBA games that we can play on PC. Do note though that we’ll also include MOBA games that can be played on emulators. They’re going to be separated on this list though, don’t worry. First, we’ll start with the MOBAs available on PC and not on Mobile.
Best PC MOBA Games
We’ll start with the MOBAs available on PC first. We’ll go from Dota 2, League of Legends, Smite, Overwatch, and lastly, Paladins.
The first MOBA game on this list that we’ll talk about must be DOTA 2, for good reason. Not only is it the most notable MOBA on this list, but it’s practically a global phenomenon at this point. Dota 2 is one of the games that elevated E-Sports to the next level, turning it from something done in internet cafes into a full-on system with advertisements, and other notable sponsors. Hell, notable brands sponsoring E-Sports teams to send to tournaments wouldn’t happen had Dota 2 not become so successful.
Dota 2 is considered to be the sequel to Defense of the Ancients. A mod of Warcraft 3 that took inspiration from the Starcraft 1 map, Aeon of Strife. It was created in 2003 and ever since its creation, was a hit amongst the Warcraft community. Dota 2 followed after its predecessor, not only in gameplay and overall vibe but also in popularity, as we’ve already mentioned.
Even after the initial hype of the game receded, and more MOBAs came into the fray, Dota 2 is still a premier MOBA and E-Sport. That’s not in question. Its influence and pull on the E-Sports world couldn’t be underestimated. The game’s one flaw is the fact that it’s pretty hard to get into. It’s chock full of mechanics and hero intricacies that need to be learned over months, and even years.
However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Dota 2 is a really good MOBA game, one of the best MOBA games available on PC no less. If you’ve dipped your toes in MOBAs, and you want something more interesting, try out Dota 2. Do the tutorials, find the hero you want to play as, and just play a few games with friends. Trust us, it’s well worth it. Oh, and the heroes are all free to use. So go ham.
League of Legends
Next on this list is League of Legends, which can be considered a spiritual sequel to Defense of the Ancients. This is because some of the developers of the original DotA map went and worked on League of Legends, making it more accessible to players. The streamlined nature of League in addition to a pretty intuitive interface is a big draw to a lot of fans.
As you can tell, League of Legends is almost a carbon copy of Defense of the Ancients, from some champions, all the way to the map. There are a few changes here and the
re, like monster locations, hero names, and specific layouts of course. But the map in general is intimately familiar to those that played the origin of MOBAs. Combine this with a robust gameplay system, consistent updates, and new heroes to spice up the Meta? Well, you have a great MOBA to try when dipping your toes into the genre.
However, the fact that the various Champions of Summoner’s Rift aren’t free and need to be bought is a bit of a letdown. As of right now, a newcomer would need to pay a huge amount of money just to unlock all of the Champions. Sure, the user can just get the champions that they want to get. However, the full experience would be locked behind a paywall, which can be annoying.
League of Legends stayed as the most played MOBA alongside the now-dead Heroes of Newerth (Which just shut down in June this year) until Dota 2 was released and took the crown. However, it’s still one of the best MOBA available on PC that players can reasonably go for.
Next on the list is Smite, which is a MOBA game if it went into a 3rd-Person Perspective. Smite is a pretty interesting MOBA due to this. However, this is in addition to the fact that the characters that players can use on Smite are taken from gods and goddesses. All taken from various mythologies around the world, and each with its unique abilities and skills. The 3rd Person perspective of the game might sound unappealing to some people due to being used to a top-down perspective that most MOBAs give. However, try out Smite for a bit, if only due to the gods and goddesses’ angle.
This is in addition to the fact that Smite has a lot of maps and game modes for some PvP action. Specifically, there are 5 game modes for Smite players to chew their teeth on. These are Conquest, which is the standard MOBA format. Assault, which is the All Random, All Mid option that League of Legends pioneered. Joust, which is like Assault, but has jungle camps for players to farm. Arena, which is Team Deathmatch in a MOBA. And lastly, Slash, which is a combo of 2 game modes removed from the game, which is Siege and Clash.
Overall, the game mode variety is a pretty nice way to keep things fresh on Smite. It also helps that the addition of new gods, goddesses, and even heroes makes the game even better. All in all, try out Smite. It does follow LoL’s lead of having to buy the gods and goddesses before you can play them, but it’s a good MOBA game nonetheless. Players can play Smite not only on PC. It is also playable on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Next on the list is Overwatch, which is a different take on the MOBA genre as it’s a first-person shooter. Some people call Overwatch an FPS MOBA as a result of this unique take on the genre. Something that got Blizzard some brownie points back in the day. However, some things that are typical of a MOBA game are omitted to put more emphasis on hero skills and player movement, and gameplay acumen.
As per usual in MOBA games, players are divided into 2 teams, though this time, there are 6 players for each team instead of the usual 5. Both teams will work to clear various missions according to the map they’re playing on and whoever finishes them in the time given wins the game. This means that Overwatch games tend to be pretty frantic from start to finish, leading to exciting games to watch on stream or to play.
Sadly though, the game’s current state makes it a bit hard to watch. Not only due to controversies but also due to things the developers added into the game that doesn’t address certain situations, like the GOATS meta. This doesn’t take away from its merits though, Overwatch is a really good MOBA game, don’t get us wrong. Enough to add this game to the list. However, its current state is a bit sad to watch, as it went from a high note to something not cool. However, Overwatch 2 is on the horizon, perhaps coming out in a year or two. Thus, we decided to add the game to the list for the promise that the sequel brings.
Next on this list is Paladins, created by Evil Mojo Games. Think of this game as a free-to-play version of Blizzard’s Overwatch, which just came before this entry. It has the same mechanics and gameplay, and overall, is pretty fun. Of course, the same Free-to-play stuff applies where players need to buy the champions before playing them, but that’s par for the course at this point.
The game has a few game modes for players to enjoy, which are Siege, Team Deathmatch, and Onslaught. You already know what to do on Team Deathmatch (2 teams, 40 kills to win), and Siege is pretty standard stuff. Onslaught, on the other hand, is a team deathmatch but doesn’t have a score limit. Whoever can score the most points in a time limit wins the game. All game modes also have a shop that sells several buffs to players to boost their chances of victory.
Unlike Overwatch though, Paladins only fields 5 players together in a team instead of 6. But the sheer frenetic action and skill importance in addition to good gunplay makes Paladins a really good MOBA to go with. Get Paladins even if it’s only to wait for Overwatch 2 to come out. You won’t regret it. Players can play Paladins not only on PC, but also on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.
Best Mobile MOBA Games That Can Be Emulated on PC
Now that we’ve talked about PC MOBAs let’s talk about MOBAs that can be played on PC through emulation. We’ll start with League of Legends: Wild Rift, followed by Onmyoji Arena, Brawl Stars, Arena of Valor, and lastly, Heroes Strike.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
We’ll start our emulated MOBA list on League of Legends: Wild Rift. Yes, we’re covering this here, and there’s a good reason for it.
Wild Rift is League of Legends if it’s put on a mobile platform. There are a lot of optimizations done for this to happen, but a lot of the things that made League of Legends great are still applicable. Players still need to go for 1 top laner, 1 midlaner, 1 carry, 1 support, and a jungler, that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the fact that you can play League of Legends on a Mobile, and that Riot hasn’t added all of the champions yet. Due to this, it’s not as heavy in terms of memory compared to its PC counterpart.
Last but not least, Wild Rift is perfectly capable of being played on PC thanks to emulators. It might be a better idea to play Wild Rift there. Not only is it lighter on the memory side of things, but it’s a perfect mobile version of League of Legends. Thus, we recommend playing League of Legends: Wild Rift, even if only casually. It’s one of the better MOBA to play on PC (technically Emulator) on this list.
Next on this list is Omnyoji Arena, which is pretty much a copy of Dota 2 and League of Legends, except it’s on Mobile. Not that it’s gonna stop us from putting this game here because we can just emulate it though.
However, the main reason why we’re putting Onmyoji Arena on this list is due to how cool it looks. It’s one of the better-looking MOBAs available on a Mobile and it shows, in all the good ways. One thing to note though is that it has quests that players can do on the side during matches to get more currency. It’s a pretty MOBA game overall and has a few crossovers with other anime like Inuyasha and Demon Slayer. All in all, definitely pick up Onmyoji Arena to play on either mobile or PC, it’s well worth it.
We follow up with Brawl Stars, another mobile MOBA that we can play on an emulator. In this case, however, Brawl Stars is a bit of a mixture between MOBA and 3rd Person Hero Shooter, making it a semi-MOBA game. It was created by SuperCell, which should be a familiar name since they also made Clash of Clans.
In Brawl Stars’ case, players can choose between different Brawlers and fight against other teams of players in several game modes. A few of these game modes are more of a Battle Royale rather than MOBA, but 2 game modes, specifically Siege and Heist, are MOBAs in all but name.
Their objectives are pretty simple: destroy the enemy safe, or make its HP lower than your safe. Whichever team has the lowest HP safe after the time limit passes wins the match. In the case of Siege though, players can create robots that can help them destroy the enemy safe. However, the bolts to do so are in the center of the game mode’s map. Thus, teamplay is essential in both of these game modes, especially Siege.
All in all, Brawl Stars isn’t the biggest MOBA on this list, but it’s worth a try nonetheless.
Arena of Valor
Another MOBA on this list is Arena of Valor, a Mobile MOBA game created by Tencent and follows similar trends that mobile MOBAs have. Arena of Valor is one of the biggest Mobile MOBAs ever created and is a really big competitor to Wild Rift. Not that it stopped Wild Rift from making quite a splash on the Mobile market but you get the drill. Arena of Valor has a lot of things going for it though, like being supported by its developers.
Arena of Valor has a similar gameplay loop to a lot of the MOBAs on this list and it can get a bit samey. But it does have a few surprises. An example of this is the DC collaboration which added Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash as heroes. Over since then though, Arena of Valor hasn’t added in new heroes from other series yet. However, they do have crossovers where characters gained skins inspired by other series like Asuna and Kirito from SAO, the titular Ultraman, and Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach as examples.
All told, Arena of Valor wouldn’t change the MOBA format, but it’s still a good one to go for if you’re itching to play some. This is the reason why Arena of Valor is on this list.
Last but not least on this list of MOBAs is Heroes Strike, a 4v4 NIBA created by Wolffun. It’s a bit of a standout on this list due to the colorful visuals and the fast pace of a game match. It plays similarly to Brawl Stars in that it’s a Hero-Shooter combined with a MOBA, but has its own identity. There’s more emphasis on the combat side of things as well, with each hero having cool abilities to utilize when leveled.
However, it’s not as comprehensive when compared to other MOBAs on this list like Arena of Valor and Wild Rift. However, the simplicity and easy-to-learn gameplay is a really big strength that Heroes Strike has.
All told, Heroes Strike is a good MOBA to play on both Mobile and emulated on PC. It might not be as hardcore as other MOBAs on this list but it does the job.
What Makes A Good MOBA Game?
The definition of a good MOBA game can vary a lot depending on who you ask. Some would say it’s a character, their looks, and yes, those play their part. However, the main thing that makes MOBAs great is the gameplay and the team dynamics involved, the synergies that characters have with each other melding into a fight. MOBAs are cool and fun to watch and play due to the way their gameplay works. It puts lots of emphasis on players working together to accomplish a mission.
Having awesome gameplay that stays true to the genre is what MOBA players want. The developers can have all the cool stuff like skins, lore, and everything else, that’s A-OK. However, if the gameplay isn’t up to par, there’s no way for MOBA players to even look at your game. They might play it for a few weeks, perhaps a month or two. But they’ll leave. Especially if you don’t consider their thoughts.