Ever since Riot Games’ biggest title came out, a war between the MOBA games has erupted. And if we are to pin down the key differences between Dota 2 and League of Legends, we will need to consider all aspects of the genre.
LoL, and Dota 2 are the most popular video games in this field. Both of them have masses and masses of followers, although one surpasses the other. However, their style of play, their pace, their characters are nowhere the same. Anyone who has tried their hand at both League of Legends and Dota 2 can tell you how different of an experience they provide.
Here we will examine the key points that make the most significant differences between Dota 2 and League of Legends. So let’s start with their history!
The Key Differences Between Dota 2 and League of Legends
It might be well known that Dota 2 didn’t start as a standalone game. Back in the days when there was no League of Legends, Defence of the Ancients was just a game mode in Warcraft III. Now, WC3 was a big hit worldwide, so the mode quickly overtook the world. It introduced a 5v5 PvP arena with much complexity and “fairness” where friends can battle their way to glory through both strategy and skill.
Years forwards, Valve purchased the rights for Dota from Blizzard. They rebranded it into Dota 2 and removed every bit of Warcraft III from their game. New hero designs, new looks, new names… It launched on Steam and soon became one of the biggest Esports scenes. And even though the game has almost no similarity, the die-hard fans of WC3 can still spot all the similarities between Dota 2 and its former self.
On the other hand, League of Legends wasn’t created by random strangers that liked a challenge. Rumors are that many of the developers that worked on Warcraft III and World of Warcraft at Blizzard during that time transitioned over to Riot Games to work on LoL instead. Of course, Dota’s game mode wasn’t supported in any way by Blizzard, so it was only a matter of time when a team would want to flash out its potential.
So, LoL was created to provide a unique, authentic, and powerful 5v5 PvP experience. In the start, it had many trials and errors, but with time Riot Games and the community have made it to what it is today – the loudest name in the world of Esports!
When I say graphics, I mostly mean the entire technical aspect of the game. I start with this because you undoubtedly wonder if you can even run a game before downloading it.
League of Legends runs on a proprietary engine built by Riot Games themselves. It is notoriously easy to run on a variety of systems, even those older ones. Being a game released in 2009. this is a no-brainer, and though it did receive some graphical/technological updates, the game remains a non-demanding title that most people can play without much issue.
League of Legends recommends a 3GHz CPU, at least 4 Gigs of RAM, and a DirectX 9.0c GPU with at least 512MB of Video Memory.
DOTA 2 is a different story.
DOTA 2 runs on the Source 2 Engine built by VALVe. Despite the Source engine’s reputation of performing well on hardware that’s even a decade old, the upgraded Source 2 version is a bit more demanding than its predecessor.
DOTA 2 was initially built on Source 1, which is good news for people with older hardware who would like to check the game out. Other than some infrastructural things, DOTA 2 takes barely anything from the new and updated Source 2.
But even so, it is much more demanding than the alternative. Those who expect at least 30 to 45 FPS in League should expect a 30% decrease in performance in DOTA 2.
DOTA 2 has impressive graphics and a great map, making the FPS trade-off worth it for some eye candy connoisseurs.
DOTA 2 requires at least a dual-core CPU running at 2.8GHz or higher, 4 Gigs of RAM, and a DirectX 9.0c GPU or better. We can see that DOTA 2’s minimum requirements are that of what League recommends.
If you have the hardware, give both games a try and see which one performs better for you before making premature judgments.
3. Heroes and Champions
Now, the playable characters in both of these games are termed differently. LoL has its champions, and Dota 2 has its heroes. When you first start playing League of Legends, you’ll see that you have a limited champion pool to choose from. And you’ll have to work towards unlocking more and more characters. However, in Dota 2, you have all heroes unlocked at the start, so you can pick whichever you want to main right away.
But perhaps the biggest differences between the LoL champions and the Dota 2 heroes are their complexity. With an unbiased conclusion, we can safely say that the League of Legends characters are more challenging and difficult to play.
Why is this?
Well, the style of play in League of Legends is such that most champions are designed on one fundamental – skill shots. Skill shots are abilities that you need to aim, either at a targeted location or a chosen trajectory, rather than just pressing them directly onto the enemy. Think of Ashe’s R or Mirana’s arrow. And based on percentage, League of Legends has much, much more skill shots than Dota 2.
Another element that comes into play is the fact that more heroes in Dota 2 have passive abilities in the place of the active ones. Traditionally in LoL, every champion has an active spell on the Q, W, E, and R buttons, while all having a passive effect that defines their playstyle.
This, however, doesn’t mean that there are no difficult heroes in Dota 2. It merely shows that there are more straightforward picks there instead of League of Legends.
One of the biggest differences between Dota 2 and League of Legends are their rules on roles and builds.
In Dota 2, they exist only vaguely, though. Every team needs to have a carry and somewhat of a support. They’re helped by constant ganking of all the other members of the team and vice versa. The heroes are of either of the three categories: Strength, Agility, and Intelligence. Each has its own build path and ways to deal with its enemy.
But in League of Legends, there are fixed rules for every role! The top laner should almost always be a tank or at least a melee fighter who can endure many hits. The mid laner is responsible for doing as much damage as possible with a mage or an assassin style of a champion. In the bot lane, there is always a ranged carry champion and a supportive one. They both work towards the same goal of getting the carry as powerful as possible. And lastly, the jungler is responsible for roaming everywhere and enabling his lanes for success.
Okay, both of these games are MOBAs, sure, but their gameplay differs by a mile.
League of Legends is more or less a simplified version of the original DOTA All-Stars custom map. At first, it was chaotic, and roles were a lot closer to what was present in DOTA, but as time passed, League grew into an orderly game where everyone had a part to play.
This detailed development of roles and Riot’s active influence on creating a particular gameplay system in their MOBA alienated League from its alternative. Of course, the roles in League of Legends are Top-Mid-Jungle-Bot, a structure that Riot blatantly works on keeping, cutting down any divergence from it (i.e. Funnel, 3 Bot, etc.).
League of Legends is faster, the map is smaller, and the overall game lasts a lot shorter. The Champions are all structured around one of the roles mentioned above and, though there can be some versatility, most fall within a mold that Riot envisions for them.
DOTA 2 remained true to its predecessor and expanded upon the formula. The same developer who created the DOTA map – Ice Frog – is the lead developer for the map’s continuation, allowing for a more authentic experience.
DOTA 2 is built on chaos, and though there are roles, they are played in ways unimaginable to your average League of Legends player. There are usually two supports in the game, and many Heroes (the counterpart to Champions) can perform the role.
Ice Frog tends to design Heroes closer to specific roles than others, but there is no single role assigned to any Hero in the game. Some are just better at things than others, and versatility is universal for most.
The map is almost twice the size of that in League. The overall pace is slower (but does get fast towards the later points in the game). The games usually last about an hour or more, depending on the game mode you’re playing.
DOTA 2 offers many different game modes to play and even custom ones. League’s TFT was created as a custom game mode in DOTA 2, then called DOTA Autochess.
In terms of variety, versatility, and freedom of gameplay, DOTA 2 is the king. Keep in mind this can create incredible disorder and lead to unbalanced teams that can suffer significantly to even remain dormant throughout the game, let alone win it.
Take your time to evaluate what fits you better: order and pre-determined cohesion or chaos and variety/versatility of gameplay. I suggest you spend at least a few hours on both to experience all the games have to offer.
It is no secret that League of Legends has a bigger player base than Dota 2. It is also a more popular Esports scene, which additionally draws in more and more players to try out the game.
But generally, League of Legends tends to have a younger audience than Dota 2. As an older title, Dota 2 has amassed years and years of experience, so it’s a bit hard to get into right now. On the other hand, League of Legends is very accessible, easy, and fun at first sight, so anyone can give it a shot!
As the simpler one, League is much easier to get into and play. The roles are there to guide you into what you like to do, and there is a solid system in place to introduce new players to the game.
DOTA 2 is notoriously hard to get into. It is complex, the itemization system tends to be confusing, and there are barely any proper introduction systems to ease new players in.
Most of the difficulty in DOTA 2 lies in its complicated nature. The patches tend to change the game entirely, shift and move the map around, etc. It can be frustrating as a new player to start getting used to things only for Ice Frog to pull a 180 and revert/change everything put in place up to that point.
Though challenging, DOTA does offer a fantastic experience that League can barely replicate at times. Still, despite playing both games intensively, sometimes I want to relax and play a simple blind pick on the Rift and not worry about things.
It would be futile to say which game is better, as they differ enough to be their own thing despite the similarities in genre and some gameplay aspects. My advice to any new players trying out both games is: Slow it down, enjoy what is offered, and try out as many things as possible.
Do not make the mistake of rushing to slam or praise the games. They represent marvels of modern game design and the multiplayer concept in general, with millions playing them each day, with numbers only increasing as time goes on.
At any rate, both are great from my point of view. Some may disagree and look to start a war between the two (as is often the case with the internet), but I just like them both in their own way.
We love to hear your thoughts on all topics we write of, so don’t miss out on letting us know which one you prefer and why.