Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games (aka MOBAs) have taken the app gaming market by storm. In fact, that might be underselling it a little bit. As MOBA app games (or at least, two of them) make up four of the top most watched esports tournaments in the world. And with them raking in mountains of cash so high it would make Smaug blush, you can bet your bottom dollar that devs are capitalizing on this addictive gameplay formula en masse.
It could be argued, in fact, that MOBAs are more at home on the mobile screen than their original PC platform. And the ability to take part in a quick 10-minute bout of arena 3v3 or 5v5 wielding skill and strategy in a high-octane environment is a thrill that not many other app game genres can boast.
But with so many on the market, it might be hard to figure out where to start. So here’s our list of the 10 best MOBAs for mobile which covers just about every preference.
What better place to begin than with the beginner’s MOBA? If you’re a MOBA noob who’s unsure where to dive in, then Frayhem is a good springboard. Especially for those that are more accustomed to the battle royale formula.
Frayhem limits bouts to 3v3 rather than the more commonplace 5v5 format and prides itself on being ‘easy to learn and hard to master’. Greenhorns may even find themselves winning their first match or two. But once you’ve got to grips with the MOBA mechanics, it’s time to play with the big dogs.
From one extreme to the other, anyone who cut their teeth in Frayhem and fancies themselves a MOBA aficionado may find themselves drawn to the apt title of this MOBA app game. But they should also take heed of the developer’s name, Super Evil Megacorp, and prepare for the slap in the face that is the learning curve.
Vainglory has been criticized for its new player inaccessibility. But that’s pretty much where the criticisms end. This masterful MOBA has drawn praise for its graphics, level design, characters and strategic gameplay, while providing MOBA masters a chance to indulge in a spot of vainglory themselves.
One of Vainglory’s most appealing features is its cross-platform compatibility, allowing app gamers and PC gamers to settle the debate on which platform is better in the arena. Do us proud, app gamers.
We don’t have any studies to prove that characters are what comprise 90% of a MOBA’s appeal, but we’re willing to bet on that hypothesis. Especially when it comes to the zoo-themed MOBA/Battle Royale hybrid that is Zooba.
Zooba’s manic menagerie of heroes comprise creatures from across the breadth of the animal kingdom, each wielding a special set of skills akin to their heritage (as well as massive foreheads). Betsy the beaver, for instance, is an ‘ingenious builder’, whilst Bruce the gorilla is an ‘unstoppable warrior’ and Fuzzy the penguin is a ‘frosty shafter’…whatever that means.
But there’s no doubt each bestial brawler is as lovable as the last. And, aside from Smash Bros. Ultimate’s fearsome Isabelle, is about as close as we’ll get to watching Animal Crossing characters whale on one another. Which is something the gaming community (read: me) has been crying out for for decades.
If you’re a self-confessed weeb who only likes anime-flavored app games, then you might be limiting yourself a little too much. But also, you’re in luck. NetEase Games spotted a gap in the MOBA app games market and filled it swiftly with Onmyoji Arena. Thankfully, it’s far more than an anime gimmick.
In fact, Onmyoji has a rich history as an IP, starting out as a novel that was turned into an award-winning series of games by NetEase. The series is famous for its distinctive anime artstyle, and Onmyoji Arena retains that charm in spades, whilst offering up a solid strategic MOBA plus a slew of other modes including Mahjong chess, Shikigami Defense, and a 3v3v3 ‘Royal Battle’.
A MOBA from industry aficionados Supercell that may not feature its recognizable troop of Clash characters, but boasts the same amount of charm regardless.
And with that whimsical appeal comes a more casual gameplay loop that doesn’t go full-throttle on the MOBA mechanics, with just a single lane to play with in 3v3 bouts that puts strategy on the backburner in favor of all-out brawls. The clue’s in the name, after all.
And while MOBA app games are already easy to pick up and play for ten minutes, Brawl Stars goes one step further by offering 3-minute matches. Meaning that we can now occupy literally every spare minute of our day with app gaming. What a time to be alive.
Marvel Super War
Marvel’s whole deal is having its 10 million heroes and villains kill each other over and over again in every setting imaginable. So it’s no wonder that they soared into the MOBA market and stuck the landing, hero-pose and all.
Flying in the face of the tradition that is terrible movie-inspired video games, Marvel Super War is one of the best MOBAs for mobile in its own right, joining forces with the likes of Marvel Future Revolution to help prove the Marvel IP can make for some excellent app games.
Marvel Super War sees characters from the comics go toe-to-toe in classic 5v5 bouts, with an abundance of skins for that extra layer of fanservice. Nevermind that Falcon didn’t have dragon wings in the comics… they look wicked cool and I’m buying them anyway.
Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor should be lauded for helping to make mobile a successful esports platform. And it even capitalizes on the distinct lack of DC MOBAs by counting Batman himself amongst its heroes. Luckily for DC fans, however, Arena of Valor is one of the best MOBAs for mobile on the market.
In truth, Batman is just one of over 100 heroes that cover vast swathes of mythologies, fandoms and subgenres including Lovecraftian horror, steampunk and KFC.
No, seriously, you can play as Colonel Sanders and give your foes a finger lickin’ kickin’ in the arena. It seems Tencent took the task of appealing to a western audience to the extreme. But if the thought of watching Batman and Colonel Sanders duke it out in a 5v5, 3v3 or (best of all) 1v1 bout doesn’t warm your beans, then we’re not sure what will. Unless you’re a Pokémon fan, of course.
Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise in the world, and it’s not hard to see why when The Pokémon Company makes such savvy moves as turning Pokémon into a MOBA app game. Pokémon Unite is just another in a long line of money-spinning Pokémon games that span just about every genre. Still holding out for that Pokémon-themed survival horror game, though.
Pokémon Unite is a must-play for fans of the original as it offers satisfying MOBA gameplay while keeping many mechanics for which the series is known, including catching, evolving and unleashing devastating elemental attacks that would kill a normal human ten times over yet only works to merely render the hardy pocket monsters unconscious in-game. Never change, Pokémon
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang is the king of mobile esports, boasting millions of worldwide viewers across multiple events, with the vast majority coming from Asian countries. It was also quicker to land on the app gaming market than the PC-dominating League of Legends. We’re not saying that’s why Riot Games sued Moonton for copyright infringement. We’re just saying it must have stung.
Since its launch in 2016, however, Moonton has made several changes to help distance itself from the MOBA OG and rise like a phoenix to be counted among the best MOBAs for mobile in its own right. And à la Arena of Valor, MLBB has harbored its own fair share of wacky collaborative skins, counting Darth Vader, Optimus Prime and Hello Kitty among them. Turns out Arena of Valor doesn’t have the monopoly on crazy collaborations.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
League of Legends is the game that needs no introduction. It is the undisputed ruler of the MOBA genre as a whole. Which is why it was so surprising that it took so long for Riot to make the move to mobile. However, if it was so that they had enough time to perfect the mobile port, then it would seem that it was time well spent.
Wild Rift is a stripped-back version of the original in many ways, but allows obsessive fans to get that sweet, sweet fix wherever they may be while also offering newbies a great starting point. It is both far more forgiving than its PC counterpart but just as rewarding all the same.
There will, of course, be plenty more MOBA app games to come. With news that console powerhouses like Sony are looking to expand into the mobile gaming sphere significantly by 2025, it’s really only a matter of time before we see Kratos duking it out with Aloy in the arena. That is, of course, unless Arena of Valor gets to them first.
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