Dear MOBAs, I Tried

Dear MOBAs,
I tried.
I really did. I tried back in the day when the original Defenders of the Ancients map was big in Warcraft III. I tried when League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth (is HoN even a thing anymore?) were in open beta. I’ve tried hybrid games like Smite and Marvel Heroes’ Fire and Ice PvP. I’ve been in to two different MOBA alphas (Heroes of the Storm and one that’s still in NDA) and barely played either. I just can’t seem to find the appeal of the genre (and I use the term “genre” loosely here, as it’s basically just one game with a bunch of different skins on top of it). I feel like I should–I know a lot of people who used to have the same tastes in games as I did who now think LoL is the best game since Tetris–but I just can’t.

There are other genres that I don’t like that I can find one or two redeeming titles in. Take shooters for example: I don’t really like shooters in general, but I love the Mass Effect series, the the Metroid Prime games, and I even played my share of Star Wars Battlefront back in the day (not that I was good, but it was fun). With MOBAs, despite my best efforts, I just haven’t found anything that really draws me in.

One of the biggest factors barring my entry is that I’m not very good at MOBAs, and MOBA isn’t a genre that lends itself to learning slowly. In MMOs, we have tutorials, skills are introduced to you slowly as you level your character, and those skills are usually learned while you’re in a town, or at least out of combat. MOBAs are, by their very nature, pure PvP arenas where your character is already built, except for some small “level up rewards”–which amount to buffs–that last only for the length the match. Then there’s the whole character rotation thing. Unless I shell out some cash, I can’t play the same character from one day to the next. All in all, not very conducive to learning.

Another prohibiting factor is that the MOBA community isn’t much of a “community” at all; it’s extremely competitive and negative, even within your own team. I thought my friends’ WoW raid leaders were bad, harassing their own group for not doing good enough; some of the MOBA players I’ve seen are even worse. If we were talking championship eSports level I’d understand, but we’re all just average players here. It’s like that guy that thinks he’s hot stuff because he’s the starting quarterback at an NCAA division three college (holy hackers, I just make a sports metaphor?). It’s worse in some of the bigger games like LoL and DOTA 2, but even some of the more niche games are pretty hostile if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The worst part is that I really don’t understand why I don’t like MOBAs. I’m not very good at StarCraft II, and it has a very competitive fanbase, yet it’s one of my favorite games. I like ARPGs and RTSes, and MOBAs are basically just a fusion of those two genres. Maybe some day I’ll find a game that clicks with me and shows me what I’ve been missing (probably about a year after everyone has moved on to something else), but until then, I’m a little mystified as to why I can’t seem to enjoy MOBAs.