League of Legends vs Dota 2 | All differences and Similarities

League of Legends is the biggest game in the genre, and yet DoTA created the genre itself. The question is, which is better?

League of Legends vs Dota 2
League of Legends vs Dota 2

When two titans of a genre clash, such as in a DotA 2 vs League of Legends case, it often ends in a lot of salt in the comments sections of the internet. Still, they are both titans for a reason, and hold numerous qualities, with differences and similarities sprinkled in. Here is a comparison of DotA 2 and League of Legends, the two best games of the MOBA genre on the market.

History of LoL and DotA 2

Starting off with the older of the two, at least when the franchise is concerned, we have DotA 2, the original MOBA. DotA 2 started out as a mod for the Frozen Throne Expansion of the fantasy strategy game, Warcraft III.

DotA 2

However, it gained enough popularity to be included in various gaming tournaments of its time, even as a mod. eventually, in 2013, Valve released DotA 2, as a standalone title.

On the other hand, we have League of Legends, a game that came out in 2009, developed by Riot Games, a small indie company at the time, and has popularized the MOBA genre by the time DotA 2 came out, to new heights, even overcoming a few rival games such as the, recently shut down, Heroes of Newerth.

League of Legends

League of Legends quickly rose to popularity afterward, with it becoming the biggest eSports in the world, and amassing hundreds of millions of daily players today.

Similarities

Seeing as the games are both of the same genres, with League of Legends developers, Riot Games, saying that they took inspiration from the first DotA when making their game, it’s obvious the games would have quite a lot of similarities.

Setting 

Both League of Legends, and DotA 2, are fantasy MBA games, with magic prominent in their Champions, that is, Heroes.

DotA 2 - Drow Ranger

The characters used in both games are, after so many iterations, becoming mirror images of one another in quite a few cases, the same way Marvel and DC found themselves having in their superheroes.

League of Legends - Ashe

Both games feature an array of classic fantasy classes, such as tanks, mages, and marksmen. The genre did, after all, originate from Warcraft.

Gameplay 

League of Legends, and DotA 2, both feature a 5v5 match as their most famous and popular game mode.

DotA 2 - Map

The goal of both games, for both DotA 2 and League players, is to reach the enemy superstructure, the Nexus in League’s case, and the Ancients in DotA’s, and destroy them, by cutting a bloody swathe through the enemies' towers, and players.

League of Legends - Map

The two games also use a map with the same general layout in these game modes, with three lanes where players do their early-game fighting, and a jungle in between, where ganking strategies are employed.

From their superstructures spawn creeps, or minions as they are called in League of Legends nowadays, which are farmed for experience and gold, to buy items and empower their Heroes, or Champions.

What we’ve listed, however, are the similarities that most MOBA games share, with some exceptions. This is due to the fact that, at the end of the day, it has been upwards of 10 years since these two games have looked similar to one another to anyone taking more than a passing glance, and have diverged from the similar games they were back when original DotA was a thing, and League of Legends had just been released.

Differences

To be perfectly honest, the differences between the two games are, at this point, too numerous to count. Instead, what we will do is list the defining characteristics of the two games, and the differences found therein should be able to paint the full picture.

Team Composition

The defining moment, when League of Legends solidified its own brand as a MOBA game, was when Riot Games created clearly defined roles for all of its Champions.

In League of Legends, all Champions have a clear primary role that they can play, and are useful at, with a secondary role where they may fill in a particular niche. This even reflects on the pre-game draft, where players know exactly which roles they are playing, having chosen it before starting to find a game, and picking from the champions suited for that role, resulting in a team composition solely of one champion in the top lane, mid lane, and jungle, and two champions, an ADC and Support exclusively, in the bot lane.

League of Legends - Roles

After this system has been established, they even design their champions with a single role in mind.

In DotA 2, the roles are far more loosely defined. Where, in League of Legends, a team composition must have the prerequisite champions, on each role, in DotA 2, the pre-game draft is constantly shifting depending on what the allies and the enemy team pick.

Not every team composition must have a jungler that farms neutral objectives, for example, and a 2+1+2 team distribution is an often seen thing with the main goal of the picked Heroes making a balanced team.

DotA 2 - Roles

This makes DotA 2 more unpredictable than League of Legends, but does it make it a better game though?

Lore

In League of Legends, there are a lot of factions vying for the control of the world or accomplishing their goals, with no factions being labeled as supremely evil, or supremely good, and the world is filled with splashes of gray.

As such, in League of Legends matches, the reams are divided into Blue and Red sides, with no lore interference in between.

League of Legends - Noxus

In DotA 2, things look a little differently. The Ancients are sapient beings which need defending, and the Radiant side are the good guys, with the Dire side the bad guys, and Heroes share these designations as well.

DotA 2 - Radiant

The lore has been reconned a bit since the original, though, with no side being the ultimate evil or good, just two opposites. The difference still remains, though, as in League of Legends the world is a mishmash of factions climbing on top of each other, while in DotA 2, there is an ultimate battle of Good versus Evil.

Gameplay Differences

While these two competitive games share a genre, the in-game gameplay differs tremendously after all these years. There are two main differences found in the games immediately upon starting to play, which confuse players trying to hop from one game to another:

  • Denying cs by killing your own creeps in DotA 2
  • Prevalence of skill shots in League of Legends

Farming is the main source of income in both games, and the best way to get your character stronger. Both use last-hitting as the way to get as much gold as possible, as quickly as possible, and it’s a hard skill to master.

In DotA 2 it gets even harder, as you can kill your own minions to deny the enemy players the rewards from doing so, while the same cannot be done in LoL.

On the other hand, in League of Legends, champion designs have gone down the path of skill shot abilities being the most numerous in their kit. Even today, Riot Games are actively turning the point-and-click abilities of old Champions into skill shots, as the game’s balance is tied around them.

In DotA 2, the prevalent abilities in the game are targeting ones and passive ones. That is not to say that there are no hard Heroes in the game to master, but that those Heroes are an exception in this game, rather than the norm they are when you play League.

Graphics

Immediately upon seeing both games in action, it’s obvious that the games have evolved to have vastly different graphics. DotA 2 focuses on cartoon realism, with gore and blood aplenty, and their environment looking more akin to the real world.

DotA 2 - In-game

in League of Legends, the characters and environment, as well as the gore and blood, are more suited to all audiences, including the younger ones. The game takes on a more simplistic approach, with realism not being a focus, making its own personal charm.

League of Legends - In-game

This reflects upon system requirements to play these two games, where the recommended requirements of LoL are the minimum requirements of DotA 2.

Community

There is a stark difference in the presences League of Legends and DotA 2 have in their communities. Where DotA 2 has a cult-like following of loyal fans, LoL branches out to those that may not be aware of the game at all, with songs, series, and live shows during eSports tournaments.

League of Legends - KDA

In essence, DotA 2 is the game with one of the most hardcore fanbases in existence, whereas League of Legends has cultivated a community that makes the game less of a game and more of a phenomenon.

Both of these games have, in time, developed their own brand of what a MOBA is. Where LoL focuses on pursuing the ranked climb religiously and has everything else as a secondary, DotA 2 actually offers numerous game modes to casual players that want to have different brands of fun while playing the game.

There is, however, one thing that both games need to change, and that is the new player experience, for any new players just starting out. Both of these games have a steep learning curve, that no other game in existence can match, with dozens upon dozens of playable characters, and strategies and neither do anything to lessen that burden for new players. From someone in love with the MOBA genre, though, both are still worth trying out!