There are two opposing teams whose goal collectively as a team is generally to destroy their enemy’s base to win, though some games have the option of different victory conditions. Each team most typically consists of five players. Typically, there is one main structure which must be destroyed to win; destroying other structures within the opposing team’s base may confer other benefits. Defensive structures are in place to prevent this, as well as relatively weak computer-controlled units which periodically spawn at each base and travel down predefined paths toward the opposing team’s base. There are typically 3 “lanes” that are the main ways of getting from one base to another; in between the lanes is an uncharted area called the “jungle.”
Typical map of a moba genre game. Yellow lines are the “lanes” where action is focused; blue and red dots are the defensive “towers/turrets” that defend them; light-colored quarter circles are the teams’ bases; and blue and red corners are the structures whose destruction claims victory.
A player controls a single powerful in-game unit generally called a ‘hero’. When a hero stands near a killed enemy unit or kills an enemy unit, it gains experience points which allow the hero to level up. When a hero levels up, it has the ability to strengthen its abilities, of which it typically has four. When a hero dies, it has to wait a designated time, which generally increases as it levels up, until it revives at the team’s base.
Heroes typically fall into one of several roles, such as tanking, damage-dealing, or healing & support. Each individual hero is unique, with its own abilities that it does not share with any other character, even those which share its role(s). Also typically, there is a large starting pool of heroes; League of Legends, for instance, began with 40, and has added at least one new one every month for its entire lifespan, reaching 100 in 2012. This adds to the learning curve of the game, as players must not only learn the game’s goals and strategies but also find at least one hero they excel at playing, not to mention familiarize themselves with the remaining roster. Additionally, each hero is deliberately limited in the roles they can fulfill. No one hero is ever (supposed to be) powerful enough to win the game without support from their team. This creates a strong emphasis on teamwork and cooperation.
Each player typically receives a small amount of gold per second during the course of the game. Moderate amounts of gold are rewarded for killing hostile computer-controlled units and larger amounts are rewarded for killing enemy heroes. Gold is used by heroes to buy a variety of different items that range in price and impact. For the most part, this involves improving the combat viability of the hero, although there may be other items that support the hero or team as a whole in different ways.
As the heroes of each team get stronger, they can use multiple strategies to gain an advantage. These strategies can include securing objectives, killing enemy heroes and farming gold by killing A.I. units. The stronger a team gets, the more capable they are at destroying the enemy team and their base.
Members of the genre do not generally feature several other elements traditionally found in real-time strategy games, notably base management, and army building. Some video games have certain heroes which control a few specialized units. The moba genre has more resemblance with role-playing games (rpg) in gameplay, though the moba genre focuses on multiplayer battle in an arena while rpg typically revolve around a single player story.