Late last year I read an article about seven franchises that “need to be” MOBAs. It was a fun article that spurred a lot of cool conversation around the net. Though I don’t think every AAA franchise should venture into battle arena territory, there are a few that would make great MOBAs, I think.
Here are three games that would make great MOBAs.
Gears of War
Imagine you are Marcus Phoenix, pushing through the ruins of a tired metropolis. Dom flanks to your right and huddles behind a car. The rest of your unit–Baird, Cole Train, and Barrick–are pushing alleys to the north, approaching an enemy hub three blocks to the east. After about thirty seconds, a wave of Locusts rush down the alley, followed by a couple Locust Horde leaders. You and Dom suppress the wave and wait for COG reinforcements. The troops arrive and meet the Locust minions head-on. They’re young and squishy. A handful of them die.
Dom throws a smoke grenade. It hisses and sputters. You move to flank one of the Horde officers, and he fires at you. The bullet buzzes and craters the wall over your right shoulder. Dazed, you fire back. His head jerks and makes a thud sound. Then his body slumps against the alley wall. You hear a chainsaw in the smoke cloud. It makes a grating, gurgling noise. Dom is screaming. You take aim at the cloud and wait for a clear shot. When the smoke dissipates, you see Dom standing over a pile of Locusts, his face and gear covered in Horde. Blood drips from the blade on his gun. You grin. He winks. This is Gears of War: the MOBA.
In a world where third-person over-the-shoulder MOBAs like SMITE have already attracted large, competitive followings, a Gears of War MOBA would seem to fit–perfectly. The games’ existing camera and mechanics would need little tweaking, and the setting would add a new level of depth yet untapped in contemporary MOBAs. Aside from jungle camps, there are few arena games that make use of functional, dynamic set pieces. A game that forces players to seek cover behind walls and cars would add something fresh to a seemingly stale product pool. Granted, the number of characters currently available in the Gears of War universe is limited–but this is not necessarily a problem. By allowing players to customize characters’ abilities and load-outs, the small pool of PCs can become incredibly dynamic.
And, most importantly, a Gears of Wars MOBA would be incredibly successful on consoles. Currently, there are only a couple console MOBAS–SMITE for Xbox (which is still in alpha) and Invokers Tournament, Awesomenauts, and Guardians of Middle Earth for PSN. None of these games, at the moment, are nearly as popular nor as competitive as DotA 2 or League of Legends. Gears of War has an incredible budget, a built-in following, an all-star cast, and a compelling story. Who wouldn’t want to play another one? Even as a DLC, a MOBA version of Gears of War would be an immense success.
Tennis, golf, soccer, car races, board games, and cage fights. What do all these things have in common? If you said “a day in the life of Gary Busey,” you would, sadly, be only half right.
The Nintendo crossover franchise is home to over a dozen games that cover nearly every genre. From Mario Kart to Super Smash Bros, Nintendo seems to have done everything–everything except a MOBA. Imagine suppressing waves of Goombas and Koopas while toppling towers full of Shy Guys. Picture jungle camps full of Boos, Thwomps, and Piranha Plants. Instead of a Dragon, visualize Chomps; instead of The Baron Nasher, think of King Bob-Omb. Instead of Dire and Radiant bases, imagine Peach’s and Bowser’s castles. And this could be just one map of many.
The greatest strength of the Nintendo crossover franchise is its unparalleled diversity. Like Super Smash Bros, a Nintendo MOBA could sample characters and locations from any of its IPs–which means dynamic gameplay across the board, from character selection and maps to items and buffs. Players that claimed Peach’s castle one game could save Zelda the next game and defeat Andross the game after that. Gameplay possibilities are endless.
Currently, there are no MOBAs on any Nintendo consoles, and there are few casual, family-friendly MOBAs in general. A Nintendo universe MOBA could scratch both of those itches. And I would love to play that game. Wouldn’t you?
My partner and I were sitting on the living room couch brainstorming ideas for this week’s column. I was in mid-rant, describing my cinematic idea for a Gears of War MOBA when she cut me off.
“You know what would be really cool?” she said. “A Disney MOBA. Think about it. Disney has a huge range of intellectual properties, from classic Disney to Marvel and Star Wars. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Maleficent face off against Boba Fett and Star Lord?”
“You know what would be even better?” I said.
Her jaw dropped. Her face turned red. “You don’t mean–”
“Yes,” I said. “I do mean. Let’s write about a Kingdom Hearts MOBA.”
Aside from the copious spin-offs and mobile sequels, there has not been a solid Kingdom Hearts game since 2005. In the last ten years, Disney has acquired rights to some of the biggest franchises in entertainment, including Pixar, The Muppets Studio, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Due to this, any future Kingdom Hearts sequel could sample some or all of these properties. This, when coupled with settings and characters from the Final Fantasy series, would make an incredible MOBA. Imagine clearing waves of Heartless or Moogles. Or, better yet, imagine riding a Chocobo into battle and using it as an item courier.
Square Enix is one of the biggest names in gaming. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the company’s most recent MMO, was a success, despite its initial slump; it is currently one of the most popular MMORPGs on the market. Imagine the MOBA Square Enix could build on a Disney budget. Imagine items, maps, and rosters forged from the biggest properties in the world, crafted by the grandfathers of the modern RPG. The resulting game might be incredible. I would definitely buy it.
Update on MOBA Monday: Vainglory
Last week, I listed Vainglory’s lack of in-game communication as my only major complaint regarding game play. It has since come to my attention that Super Evil Megacorp has revamped the communication system completely. In update 1.2.0, the development team addressed the problem directly. On their blog, they wrote:
“Communicating with your team is now much more fun and tactically effective without being cumbersome. Just being able to indicate ‘It’s OK’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thank You’ has been transformative for our games in the Lair. “ —Kraken
- There are now 5 tactical pings above the mini-map, including new pings for “group up,” “caution” and “enemy hero missing.”
- Tap and hold the new social pings button in the upper-left corner of the screen to reveal new ways to communicate with teammates.
Since I write reviews and articles for several publications, I often do not get a chance to play games as much as I would like. Due to this, I typically write rough drafts several weeks in advance. Since I had written most of last week’s article before my two week hiatus in late February/early March, I had not had a chance to play Vainglory post-1.2.0.
That said, I enjoy the new communication system. Communicating with teammates is much easier; I take back my statement about players needing to sit in the same room to win. I think the time for competitive mobile gaming has arrived. I would not be surprised to see Vainglory’s popularity skyrocket in the coming months.
For more on MOBAs, stay tuned to MMOGames.com.Related: Column, MOBA, MOBA Monday