Gaming has slowly become dominated by one genre more than any other. MOBAs. Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas. This genre first came to fruition as a custom game mode in Starcraft, called Aeon of Strife. But it was popularised by the warcraft 3 custom game Defence of the Ancients, otherwise known as DOTA.
You will be aware of the popular Valve game DOTA 2. And the most popular MOBA on the planet, Leauge of Legends. But these are only the biggest two of what is now an extremely saturated genre.
One of the great things about this genre is the games tend to be free-to-play. This is because both DOTA2 and LoL are f2p which means any game hoping to compete will have to match this or fail. Save for a few exceptions such as Overwatch.
So how do these free-to-play MOBAs actually make money? It often falls down to cosmetics. In-game skins that let players change the look of their characters and weapons. But which MOBA has the best In-Game cosmetics out of them all? Well, we are going to take a look and try to narrow down that question.
League of Legends
League of Legends is, without question, the most popular MOBA on the planet. Its E-sports scene attracts more viewers than any other, and its annual player base dominates the other games. And to go with that it is also one of the longest-running MOBAs. That also means it has amassed a large collection of in-game cosmetics for players to buy.
In fact, there are so many cosmetics that some have actually gone out of circulation, being classified as legacy skins. Within this massive catalog sits some of the most creative skins we have ever seen. You have everything from Gundam style robot skins to fairytale skins. Summer pool party themed skins to Halloween themed skins. If you can imagine it then LoL most likely has done it.
But quantity doesn’t always mean quality. Some of the skins are little more than recoloring, especially in the early days of the game’s life. But these days a lot of the skins are intricate and detailed, going as far as to change the abilities of the character as well.
DOTA 2 takes a different approach to their cosmetics than LoL. In fact, their approach was eventually copied by LoL and other MOBAs. Rather than having one skin for an entire character, DOTA lets you unlock different items and parts of a character’s look. This essentially allows the player to play dress-up with their favorite heroes.
But it doesn’t stop there. Where DOTA took it to the next level is in the ability to equip cosmetics that change everything from the UI to the announcer’s voice. Having guest voice packs such as Wheatley from Portal 2 or Rick from Rick and Morty has kept the DOTA cosmetic shop fresh where other games stagnate.
Valva has always been known for its incredible graphics and attention to detail, along with stunning psychics engines. And the skins for DOTA 2 follow this trend. The cosmetics are often fully animated and varied, making them more than simple re-skins. They can change a character completely, including the visual effects for their abilities.
Blizzard was dominating the MMO market for years. World of Warcraft was seemingly unbeatable. So it came as a shock when Blizzard tried their hand in creating a MOBA. Enter: Overwatch. A fresh take of the traditional battle arena genre, Overwatch is an FPS MOBA.
The biggest draw of Overwatch was the varied characters. Each with their own unique visual style and fun ability to match, the game broke a lot of the stereotypes of a traditional fps. But what about cosmetics?
Overwatch has a wide variety of different skins available for their champions. But aside from a few that add costumes parts or change visual effects, most are nothing more than simple recolors. In fact, most have guessed that the reason Blizzard adds so many simple recolors is to pad out their loot box system and force people to gamble more money to get the skin they want. A horrid practice that is currently being heavily debated in courts around the world
Smite is a lesser-known MOBA, but one of the oldest and most robust. It constantly maintains a consistent player base and some very unique cosmetics. The game stands out as it uses characters from real-world mythology such as greek and Norse gods.
SMITE has recently secured a deal with Nickelodeon to have skins from the popular Avatar series. With Avatar Aang and Korra now in the game, SMITE has seen a rise in their player base.
SMITEs skins are often detailed and well throughout. Featuring a lot of cosmetic changes and visual effects changes as well. And, unlike Overwatch, all of the skins can be purchased through normal means rather than loot boxes. It is no wonder SMITE has managed to thrive against the larger competitors where other MOBAs fade into obscurity and eventually shut down.
Overall, if it was up to us, we would argue that DOTA 2 has the best in-game cosmetics. We can chalk this up to Valves’ attention to detail and top-notch physics engine. But at the end of the day, it all falls down to personal preference. So, what MOBA has the best cosmetics in your opinion?