HOTS Versus LOL
Like a lot of gamers out there I have spent A LOT of time with League of Legends.
And why not? It’s the most popular MOBA! So it must be the best one, right?
Well, I’m here to convince you that it may not be the case.
In fact, I believe that most people would enjoy Hots more than League if they would try it. The issue is that Heroes of the Storm have a horrible stigma among other MOBA communities, so few people give it a shot.
Even though I was an avid League of Legends player and knew of the bad reputation, Hots had, I just had to try it out. As a lifelong fan of all the different Blizzard titles.
Before I even knew it, I was hooked, and today I struggle making it through just one League of Legends game with my sanity intact.
In this article, I will go over the objective pros & cons of both games in an attempt to match them up in a fair way.
2019 UPDATE: Blizzard has slowed down support for Heroes of the Storm and stopped their support for the professional league entirely. So while I personally love Heroes of the Storm it is important to factor in the reduced support of the game.
There is A LOT of myths and bad stigmas surrounding Hots. So let’s start out by taking a look at the 3 most common myths about the game.
1. It’s for noobs!
This is probably the most common argument, you hear from LoL players when talking about Hots. So is it true? Well, that depends if you find last hitting minions and soaking lanes for 20 minutes to be a challenging and engaging experience. If yes, then sure.
Due to the objective based maps of Hots, you generally don’t spend a lot of time in your lane. Instead, the team fighting usually starts a few minutes into the game. So if you think soaking and last hitting is a real challenge compared to team fighting, then LoL is genuinely more challenging. However I find that team fighting is the most significant test of skills in a MOBA, so this myth is far from the truth.
I will give League of Legends this though. Since it’s been out for so long, it has an enormous pool of champions, which also mean that there are more champions with a higher skill cap than in Hots. Hopefully, Heroes will catch up soon as they release new heroes at a much faster pace.
It is worth noting that Hots has 15 completely different maps to offer, which means that due to the considerable variation and importance of objectives, there is a lot of skill involved in learning to play the maps correctly.
2. You cannot carry
This myth is partly true. Because of the shared experience and reliance on your teammates, it is a lot harder to carry in Hots. But it is also far from impossible.
The way you carry in the two games is just so vastly different. Whereas in League, you have to get some early kills so that you can out gear your opponents. In Hots you must take leadership of your team, carry the team fights and play the map correctly.
It comes down to personal preferences, which kind of carrying you enjoy more. Carrying in League is bound to give you more attention as you can become outrageously overpowered. However, if you learn to carry in Hots, it is very consistent and more reliable.
3. You cannot carry a bad team
A follow-up to the second myth, but essential to talk about nonetheless.
This can be true if your team are genuinely insanely horrible. But is it very different in LoL?
If you have a team-mate in LoL that keeps feeding your opponent’s AD Carry, It is pretty much game over, unless if the other team has 1 or more players feeding as well.
The big difference is though: It is considerably easier to make a comeback in Hots due to objectives and late game experience gains, which means early feeding etc. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over.
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Top 5 Reasons HOTS is Better than League
Let us start out by taking a look at the 5 biggest ways that Heroes of the Storm is better than its competitors.
1. Talent System
League of Legends uses the same system as the original ‘Defense of the Ancients’ from Warcraft 3. You earn money from last hitting minions, killing monsters and players. This causes an endless stream of problems.
First of all, it screws up balancing. When Riot has to adjust the meta in LoL, they cannot ignore items as a part of it. This means that tweaking an item may completely ruin 1 hero, just so that another hero isn’t too overpowered anymore. This problem is absent in Hots because hero specific talents replace items.
It also makes your power gap in between games feel unbearable. When you finish a game, you’re used to having a full set of items and all abilities, and generally feel really powerful. So when starting over at Level 1 in a new game is a horrible feeling. You suddenly find yourself without any attack speed, movement speed, abilities, etc.
It is not because the power gap isn’t significant in Hots between early and late game. It’s just less noteworthy. This is because you start off with all your abilities and talents generally don’t alter your heroes base power (attack speed etc.) in the same way items does.
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2. Team Fighting vs. ‘Last hitting’
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that team fighting is more fun than farming minions for 20 minutes. I’d even argue that the reason most people enjoy Moba’s are because of team fights. So why wait 20-30 minutes when you could get straight into the team fights?
In league is it crucial that you last hit minions to gain that precious gold for your items, however, since Hots maps are all objective based you are forced into a team fight after a few minutes if not earlier.
It is also worth noting that last hitting actively makes your teammates into competitors. Which is probably one of the reasons League is known for having the most toxic community in all of the gaming.
A lot of League players argue that last hitting is one of the reasons LoL are more skill based than Hots, which can be true if you think it is hard a hard mechanic to master.
3. Innovative Hero Design
Blizzard has endless lore rich characters to choose from when making new heroes. The Warcraft, Starcraft, Overwatch and Diablo universes, all have a rich lore and fantastic characters. This means that most heroes have a deep background story, and Blizzard fans are excited whenever a fan favorite is announced.
This is all great, but not what is really important. What really matters is the actual hero design, and this is where the Blizzard development team really shows off their creative capabilities.
Most champions in League has a tendency to be quite similar. Most Champions has one gap closer, 1 Area of Effect ability and one single target burst, etc. This doesn’t mean that they are all the same, it just makes them a bit similar.
The developers behind Heroes of the Storm have time and time again proven they aren’t afraid to mix it up. Here are a few examples of innovative hero design in Hots:
Cho’gall: 1 colossal hero, being controlled by two people. One person is the caster/assassin type, while the other one controls the movement and functions as a tank.
Abathur: The fan favorite slug, never have to leave his base. Instead of directly fighting his opponents he instead manipulates his teammates, minions and the battleground to his team’s advantage.
The Lost Vikings: Brought in from one of the first Blizzard franchises ‘The Lost Vikings’. This 3-in-one hero is controlled by one person, and roam together or are split apart to soak up all lanes.
And these a just a few examples of the creativity and love, which goes into Heroes of the Storm hero development.
4. Maps & Talents: Replayability
This was the big selling point for me. As much as I enjoyed League of Legends back in the day, after a couple of games, it quickly started to feel very repetitive. Same map, incredibly weak early game, etc.
The talent, wacky heroes and map system in Hots is the games biggest advantage over other MOBA’s and keeps it fresh for endless hours. Not only is the early game engaging and filled with intense team fights. But all 15 maps are hugely different and forces you to change up your play style. And Blizzard is far from done with adding in more new and exciting maps. Hopefully, we will see some Warcraft specific maps added somewhere shortly.
On top of this, there are also weekly brawls. This is a game type which varies each week, one week it’s all-random-all-mid with a couple of preselected heroes that all start with their ultimates and are just straight out team fighting from beginning to finish. Next week it’s a map where you play against the environment to defend a base from endless zerg waves.
5. Hots 2.0: Better Progression & Reward System
This update included endless level progression, loot boxes, sharding and more.
While loot boxes undoubtedly have a bad reputation in the gaming community, and with good reason. I’d say Heroes is more of an exception to the rule.
First off, it is entirely free to play, and the content of the loot boxes do not affect your in-game performance.
Secondly, they are exceptionally generous with their loot boxes compared to most games. You gain one for each time you level a hero up which really don’t take more than a few games, even at the high levels. Additionally, you can reroll the chests with in-game currency in case you are not happy with the content.
So regardless if you play around in Quick Match or if you try to climb in Ranked Mode you will be rewarded for your efforts with plenty loot boxes.
The only real downside to this system is that skins are no longer purchasable alone for real life money. Which is quite annoying but the upsides of this progression system heavily outweigh the few negatives.
Honorable Mention: Very Consistent Content Drops
If you play Hots for just a little while it becomes clear that the developers really put a lot of love into it, The game is ever-changing and has hotfixes and balance patches every 1-2 weeks while bringing in a new hero each 3-4 weeks. This again helps to keep the game consistently fresh and exciting.
Update: Heroes of the Storm is no longer releasing heroes every 3-4 weeks, at least not right now. The developers are taking a small break to focus on reworking old heroes, balancing the roster, and adding requested features. Such as the Third Ban for ranked play, Match Making and Rank decay, and more coming in the ranked update coming with 2018 Season 3.
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Top 5 Reasons League of Legends is Better than HOTS
Now to take a look at the things that make League of Legends the superior MOBA.
1. Bigger Esports Scene
Whether you talk about viewers, the casters or the prize pool, League of Legends are difficult to compete with as an Esport. League has some of the best casters in all of Esports, if not the best. They have an insane amount of viewers and crazy prize pools.
You could argue that it is because League has been around for so long, which is partly true but I don’t think it’s just age alone. It is only natural that a game that held the title as the ”most popular game in the world” for so long will attract great casters, talents, and sponsors.
2. Huge Player Base
More players bring a lot of great things to the game. More players, mean more money, which in turn give Riot the resources to spend that much more money on the tournaments, promotion, and Esports in general.
It also means that there most likely will be an endless amount of players at your exact skill level. So matchmaking will feel smoother and generally better.
Lastly, rising to the top is that much harder and thus, more prestigious.
3. More Champions, More Bans
League has been around for so long now that they hardly need to produce any more champions. The champion pool is almost at 140, which is insane compared to Heroes of the storms that are around 80 or so heroes. So even though ‘Heroes’ does a fantastic job at bringing new heroes way more often, there is still a way to go.
More champions mean more choice, which is always great in any game. The huge champion pool also means that every player in League gets their own ban in ranked mode. Which mean that in Ranked League of Legends play each team has 5 bans(6 in Professional tournaments), Compared to Heroes of the Storm that only have 2 per team.
Update: Blizzard is implementing a third ban in ranked and professional Heroes of the Storm play with the upcoming season.
4. Great Streamers
In the MOBA genre, Twitch and streaming are a big deal. So it is a big plus that there are so many great League streamers that play League of Legends, whereas Heroes only have a handful of talented ones.
5. Easier to Carry
The most common argument against Hots is that you cannot carry. While I don’t think that is true, I cannot argue against the fact that it is easier to carry in League. If you are a great player and learn how to get an early lead, you’ll have a pretty easy time carrying. The power spike you gain from an initial level/gold lead is just insane, but also pretty damn fun if you are the one who is fed.
Update: Heroes of the Storm has since added the ‘Quest’ mechanic. Which to a certain extend lets you get relatively overpowered if you play well with certain heroes. Now, these bonuses gained from ‘Quest talents’ are not nearly as big as the bonuses you gain from being ”fed” in League of Legends, but it brings the two games a bit closer. Riot even borrowed from this idea and added Support specific items with the same ‘Quest’ mechanic.
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Other Noteworthy Differences Between Hots & LoL
Mounts is one of the core differences between Hots and other MOBA’s. This allows players to increase their running speed which further increases the intensity and decrease downtime.
Lore & Story
Heroes of the Storm characters have always had more in-depth lore and story than any other MOBA. However, Blizzard recently doubled down on this and will begin to focus on lore and stories specific to the Nexus and Heroes of the Storm. This is done through in-game events and Heroes of the Storm comics. Most recently the ‘Dark Nexus’ patch that brought new skins, mounts, and an event-specific in-game UI. All the while the Lore of the event was covered in the first official Heroes of the Storm Comic: Rise of the Raven Lord.
On top of the talent system in Heroes of the Storm, there are also specific ‘Quest talents.’ These require you to perform specific tasks, such as hitting 20 Heroes with an ability without dying. Upon completion of Quest talents, the hero receives a considerable bonus to reward higher skilled players.
Update: League of Legends has taken a bit of inspiration from this and added support items with the same sort of ‘Quest’ system.
Heroes of the Storm has an additional game mode, known as Brawls. The Brawl will change up every week and is widely different from regular games. It can be anything from ”All-random-all-mid” maps to something as wonky as a Dodgeball brawl or even ”Player versus Environment” Brawls that let you and four friends hold off waves of Zergs or rush through a horde of enemies and bosses.
Instead of jungling for gold, in Heroes of the Storm, you gain control of the camps once they are defeated. This causes them to push down the nearest lane and put pressure on the opposing team. Also, this makes it so that camps become a significant tactical element, and further add depth.
Update: League of Legends did eventually find inspiration in the way that Heroes of the Storm camps work. Now the top lane mini-baron, The Rift Herald, will drop an item that lets it push down the lane with your team.
In League of Legends, you can queue with a single friend in the ranked solo queue. Whereas in Hots you are forced into Team League if you wish to duo queue with a friend.
League of Legends has an out of game progression path that slightly increase your in-game power. These so-called ‘Runes’ function very much like a talent tree in MMORPG’s and lets you talent into specific bonuses. Such as increased ability power, true damage, etc.
In Hots you have the choice between two distinct ultimates(more in a few rare cases. In League, you have 1 per champion.
Start with all abilities
Apart from your ultimate, you start off with all core abilities in Heroes of the Storm. Whereas in League you choose a new skill or ability to upgrade each level.
Supports in Heroes doesn’t just provide a few buffs, but actively heal and mitigate dmg.