League of Legends vs. Heroes of Newerth. What are these games?
Both games are actually based on a classic Warcraft III gameplay mod called DotA (Defense of the Antients). The main premise is two teams of hero characters, each character controlled by players, trying to destroy the opposing team’s base; these teams are joined by computer controlled soldiers called creeps that are spawned at regular intervals and march stoically towards the enemy base, and often to their deaths. Maps usually consist of 3 paths to the enemy base, or lanes, as well as some smaller areas with additional neutral creeps spawned for the purpose of giving the heroes more XP. Heroes can be upgraded through earning XP, allowing for stronger and stronger special abilities, as well as upgraded through acquiring equipment that improve a heroes base stats.
Currently, League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth are the most popular variants of this style of game on the market, and unlike DotA, are stand-alone games, rather than mods. So what’s the differences between the two?
Well, initially, the bigger difference was that LoL was F2P with a cash store whereas HoN was a single retail purchase, but recently HoN has gone F2P with a cash shop as well, so their payment scheme is no longer their big difference and they’re more on a comparable level as opposed to before this change. I’ve had a chance to play a bit of both, and there are definitely some distinct differences, in both the games themselves and the communities.
LoL, graphically, has some great art style, but the graphics detail of the game is not as good as I’ve seen on the market, and is definitely weaker than HoN. I found it somewhat pixelated in comparison, and less detailed. HoN is definitely vastly superior in this regard; the texturing and modeling of HoN is clearly a cut above LoL in every aspect. I also find I prefer the “home” area design in HoN more; they use a pool of healing waters, whereas LoL just uses a stone platform. The spell effects are similar in comparison as well, with HoN coming out on top again. I have to admit, I preferred the look of the LoL health bars that show above heroes and I found it gave the info much more clearly than the HoN ones; HoN had a much better UI widget for displaying player’s stats, though. LoL has opted for a lighter, more cartoon-y style for their game, whereas HoN is grittier, and has darker themes to their tone and style. LoL may appeal to a younger or less hardcore crowd because of this, and HoN may be more attractive to the more “hardcore” players.
I of course had a good look through both types of in-game stores in each game. The one used for spending the gold gathered from kills etc on new weapons, armor, and other equipment for heroes is actually something I preferred the layout of in LoL. I found the one in HoN overly complicated and confusing, whereas the LoL one was very simple and easy to navigate. HoN put in several filters and layers which, I feel, were vastly unnecessary for the task they were made for, and detracted from the game quite a bit, taking up precious playing time. I also found that in HoN, I was unable to view this store at all unless I was alive and right at the store building with my Hero; in LoL, I was able to peruse this store any time, even while dead and waiting for respawn, which I was very glad of. The in-game cash shops are both pretty standard, but again HoN comes out on top here. I found the layout much cleaner, and info clearer than the LoL one, though not by as much as you might think.
As for the communities…
Here’s a pic that very accurately describes the HoN community at large, based on my (and others) experiences:
Yes, it’s that bad. I played through 4 matches in one afternoon, and in all but 1 I found myself being verbally abused and trolled through chat, and was purposefully ganked by players much higher than I was. And the game kept throwing me into matches with the same people 3 times in a row.
I seriously wanted to reach through my computer screen and beat the snot out of the immature asshats. Oh, and get this – I was not able to report them for abuse. At all. Apparently, only “verified” players are allowed to report abuse, and to be verified, you have to either spend real money, or get to account level 5, which takes a ton of XP, and you only get decent XP from winning matches. Oh, and did I mention that a lot of the really skilled players seem to be not only playing HoN, but they’re also elitist asshats? I got turned off of HoN pretty fast, despite my room mate loving the game. It’s a great game, to be sure; the grafics are awesome, the characters are fun and creative, and the gameplay itself is fun & challenging. But the real challenge of playing HoN isn’t the skill of the opponents; it’s dealing with the immature abuse of the community, who seem to be actually playing a different game; one in wich they win by pissing you the hell off, and that’s a game they’re damn good at.
LoL, in comparison, has been relatively quiet, and even a bit friendly; players wished each other luck and even when the team lost, they were constructive. I’ve not had any abuse playing LoL, let alone the kind of abuse I got in HoN. And as important as grafics and UI are to me, the 2 things even more important are story & community; those 2 will always rank higher.
So, it comes down to this:
HoN is prettier and more of a challenge to play, but partly because the community is a challenge to put up with.
LoL is more cartoon-y and slightly less polished graphically, but has a great community & is just fun to play.
Whether you’re up for the greater challenge of HoN or just want some fun from LoL, the choice is yours. I’ll probably still play both, but for now I’ll stick more to LoL until I’m better at this style of game. LoL also just released a new “Dominion” mode that I’m curious to try, and I’ll let you guys know how it stacks up to the Artificer in a later post.