After playing a couple of hours to both games, here is, in my opinion, a summary of the main differences between League of Legends and Dota 2. Both games are called MOBA, where two teams of 5 players battle on 3 lanes to take control of the opposite area of the team and have as final goal to destroy a building located in the middle of the opponent base.
Compared to League of Legends, Dota 2 brings the following elements of gameplay.
- The concept of denying. It is possible by attacking his own partner or tower to reduce the gold that the opponent team could earn if they would have destroyed the heroes or towers themselves. League of legends has no such concept of denying a team partner or building to reduce the potential gold gain of the opponent team.
- An item allowing a character to commit suicide. By doing that, the opponent team gains no gold. When using this item, it looks important to measure if the cost of this item is better than the gold opponent team would have gained. Perhaps it is interesting for a hero going for tower/barrack attack in a suicide attack.
- The concept of courier. There is no recall functionality like in league of legends. A single courier is enough for a team, and can be used by all the heroes. Its initial cost is 150 golds, so that’s pretty cheap. Bringing items to lines helps maintainability with the use of healing back potions or upgraded items.
- Heroes can go back to the base only by using a teleportation scroll. There is no recall functionality. Gameplay becomes more complicated, the courier being here to help the player maintain lane stability by bringing precious healing items that replace the regeneration possible at the base. Note that as I am not really an experienced player of Dota 2, I might be misunderstanding things, but this is at least the impression I get after a couple of hours spent on it.
- The camera cannot be locked on the hero. For people used to LOL, this might be annoying, but using for example WASD to control the camera really brings an impression of higher control of the universe where the hero evolves. It is possible to focus the area on where the action happens. Note that you can disable camera locking in LOL, just that Dota 2 simply does not allow it to force you get used to that. Honestly this is not a bad thing.
- On top of the abilities that can be upgraded at leveling, heroes can have their strength, agility and intelligence points upgraded as well. This brings more flexibility and multiplies the way a single character can be played. In LOL, only abilities can be upgraded with a maximum level of 18. Dota 2 heroes can reach a maximum level of 25
- There is one secret shop per faction, close to the middle lane. The courier can go there if possible.
- Possibility to buy back the time until resurrection when hero has been killed. This can be expensive, but has the merit to allow the player to come back at will depending on the circumstances
- All the heroes are accessible from the beginning. In LOL, getting a new hero can be pretty expensive as you might need Runic or influence points to put your hand on it, or wait for the free rotation of the week, hoping that the wanted hero will appear.
- No need to wait until level 30 to play ranked matches or to make a team.
- The in-game store has two main articles: items to customize hero, and tournament items allowing to watch past tournament matches. All those things have no influence on the gameplay. In LOL, runes need to be bought through the game shop (only with influence points btw). The problem is rune pages that can take a long time to get without Runic points (or use of real currency)…
- Leveling up a given player profile has as only effect to make the player get a new item randomly. As far as I understood there is no influence on the hero performance like rune slot unlocking in LOL
- No ligue system contrary to LOL since season 3 patch in the case of the latter. I imagine that such features would be added in future patches for Dota 2 though.
And that’s all that came to my mind…
So, what to think about that? Dota 2 is less influenced by its inner game shop and completely focuses the player on its gameplay, thanks to for example the possibility to be able to use all the heroes from the beginning and the fact that player profile leveling has no impact on the heroes used or its gameplay (like the rune system of LOL).
As a first impression after playing the two games, it is easy to note that Dota 2 is a game harder to apprehend for newcomers, and understanding all the details of its gameplay could really take quite a while. So if you want to get a first experience on a MOBA and want to focus on fun without thinking *too* much on gameplay and actions (LOL needs some strategy too, for lane positioning as well, and especially when playing in a team), you should go with LOL first. Dota 2 is a beast that can be tamed, but with far more patience than LOL it seems. On my side, I think that I am going to stick with Dota 2 just because it is focused on gameplay, and perhaps because it is natural for a MOBA to focus on that first in my opinion, and not player profile progression like what you can find with for example the runes system of LOL.