Multiplayer Online Battle Arena

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (also called "Massive Online Battle Arena" or "MOBA") is a relatively new game genre. It involves teams of players competing with each other, typically using the point-and-click interface of a Real Time Strategy; but, unlike RTS games, players control only one Hero Unit instead of a military-industrial complex.

The first MOBA game was Aeon of Strife, a map for StarCraft. It gained popularity and, when Warcraft III with its amazing map editor came out, spawned a lot of similar maps which were referred to as AoS style maps. Amongst others there were D-Day, various AoS's direct ports, and Defense of the Ancients, developed by Eul. One of its own spinoffs, DotA Allstars developed by Guinsoo, became the Trope Codifier by virtue of its astounding popularity.

Every game in the genre has its own permutations, but the formula popularized by DotA goes like this: there are two teams with an equal number of players. Each one has a base. The point of the game is to destroy the enemy's base before he does the same to yours. Each base has static defenses, and helps players attack by sending out squads of Mooks. Hero Units, controlled by players, are far more powerful than any mook squad and gain Character Levels. They kill the mooks (and each other) for Experience Points and gold, the former to learn new abilities and the latter to buy items. Apart from this tug-o-war, there may or may not be any other activities to participate in, such as killing off neutral monsters. And as to the characters themselves, there tends to be Loads and Loads of them, each with a unique set of skills, abilities and statistics.

Finding a Hero you're good at is a key step in development; learning how to work with and against whichever Heroes happen to be in play during this particular match is another. While Heroes may be One Man Armies, they are not (or shouldn't be) strong enough to carry the match single-handedly. Teamwork is essential. A single Leeroy Jenkins or Ineffectual Loner can spell your team's doom. As a result, the player base of a MOBA game typically Suffers Newbies Poorly, and treat the game as varying levels of Serious Business, with all the hostile corollaries you'd expect.

Not to be confused with the other MOBA, the Museum of Bad Art in Dedham, MA.

Games in this genre:
List of tropes prominent in the genre
  • Adaptation Displacement: DotA: Allstars is more popular and well-known than any of its predecessors. Very rarely people know about Aeon of Strife or Eul's DotA.
  • Ascended Glitch: some of Warcraft III engine limits and glitches made it into metagame and are copied in other games. Notably, Deny.
  • Can't Catch Up: Players intend to invoke this through "Deny", not allowing the other team to get experience.
  • Competitive Balance: you can have Physical Gods and Badass Normals in one setting, but they must be equal in power.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Being a PvP game, par for the course.
  • Dynamic Entry
  • Entitled Bastard: A lot of people will constantly ask you to help them out, refusing to help you back, and do not expect a "Thank you" if you do save them.
  • Excuse Plot: Some games just think "Pick these people, now go fight."
  • Fake Difficulty: In the form of Guide Dang It. If you're new to the genre, then don't expect the in-game tutorials to help since they rarely explain a little more than what the controls are. They do not tell you details of the metagame that the players expect you to know if you wish to start up. And given the fact the average community is terrible, this can be very off-putting.
  • Follow the Leader: However a couple games have decided to diversify the genre by adding different game modes....and have been criticized for not being a near carbon-copy of DotA, interestingly enough.
  • Game Breaker
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation
  • GIFT: In the form of "Stop Having Fun!" Guys, Serious Business Scrubs, Suffers Newbies Poorly, Unpleasable Fanbase, Small Name, Big Ego, Arrogant Kung Fu Guy, and Entitled Bastard. Basically, MOBA games have a terrible reputation for having communities full of people on their absolute worst behavior.
  • Hope Spot: thought you will get away with low health? HAHAHAHAH
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Given that some of these games show up in e-Sports and have official tournaments, you can definitely spot the people who are clearly not here to make friends, they're just here to win.
    • Even in standard play, people have pointed out the guys having the most fun are the ones who aren't there to win and don't give a hoot about their statistics; they're just there to play games because they think it's fun.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Prior to the naming of this genre, it was a common sight to see people refer to these as Tower Defense games.
  • Internet Tough Guy: Some people who take everything personally or can't cope with losing.
  • Item Crafting: Introduced in DotA: Allstars. Everything is sold in the shop, but high-tier items are built out of mid-tier items, which themselves might be built out of low-tier items.
  • It's Up to You: it's not. Nobody can win a game single-handedly if he is the only decent player on the team.
  • Level Grinding
  • Limit Break: the ultimate spell which is more powerful and unique than any other spells, and it can be afforded by reaching a certain level.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: DotA has 103 and counting as of this writing, League of Legends is nearing 100...
    • When a MOBA goes on enough, they get this. This is in fact one of the draws of the genre - unlike other genres with this trope, you can actually log on and see more than five characters being used.
  • Loophole Abuse: "Deny".
    • Aint No Rule saying you can't jump onto your opponent's stream and use it to spy on them. (You cannot get punished for this as it is not an exploit of game mechanics and is as avoidable as not streaming your games.)
  • One-Man Army
  • Pick Up Group
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: Being a multiplayer game; whenever a game attempts to have a plot, it's ignored.
  • Serious Business: This is par for the course in any PvP game, but practically a genre trait in MOBA games.
  • The Shepherd: Some people genuinely do want to help newbies get better, and will give them advice and encouragement.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Most of the jerks on these games really don't have the skills to back up their Trash Talk...
  • The Social Darwinist: Especially prevalent in the various playerbases of these games.
  • Suffers Newbies Poorly: Some people who treat you like crap when you're starting might be perfectly reasonable if you play them after getting better. And then there are...others.
  • "Stop Having Fun!" Guys: this too, though it's more endemic in "pro" environments like DotA or Heroes of Newerth. Course, if you manage to play any MOBA game and not run into these guys, then you are Born Lucky. The very conventions of the genre tend to encourage this behavior as any deaths will make the opposing team stronger ('feeding') and experimenting or fooling around can be lethal. This is why most newbies are encouraged to start with bot games when trying something unconventional.
    • League of Legends and Dota 2 are actually taking measure to avert this through systems to punish Jerkass players. League of Legends has a system called the "Tribunal" where players vote whether or not a player should be punished, and Dota 2 is adding a system to temporarily remove players' abilities to chat or voice-chat if they can't stop trash-talking. Both were incredibly Genre Savvy.
    • One person stated that "MOBA-types aren't the game for me - I like to play games to have fun. If you're having fun and are playing stuff like DotA or LoL, you're apparently doing it wrong."
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: These games tend to be patched often, leading to this reaction in fans often.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks: A strange inversion - it's not so much "They Copied DotA so they suck", moreso "They did NOT copy DotA, so they suck."
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Because of the team-based aspect of these games, this mostly happens with low-tier characters. It's not unknown for people to Rage Quit because somebody on their team chose a character perceived as being underpowered. Likewise, in DotA, which doesn't allow both sides to deploy the same hero, people might rage-quit when they saw that the other team had managed to nab the latest Game Breaker.
    • Developers of games are constantly trying to avert this trope so people actually will try to win with their favorites, not just picking a champion declared "OP"
  • Total Party Kill
  • Unstoppable Rage: The playerbase for just about every one of these games.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Double Subverted. Early-mid game towers are very dangerous and can kill heroes in a several hits, but they don't scale according to hero levels, so past a certain point towers stop being a formidable threat.
    • However, played entirely straight and justified gameplay wise with some heroes who may be able to summon turret guns.