DC Comics And 'Lord of the Rings' Are Invading MOBAs, Who Else Deserves A Shot? [OPINION]

By Trevor Ruben , Updated Apr 13, 2013 08:31 AM EDT
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"League of Legends" and "DOTA 2" may be the big dogs in the MOBA universe right now, but developers are starting to realize the staggering potential in the new genre for intellectual properties with huge casts of characters. The coming DC Comics MOBA "Infinite Crisis" from Turbine and WB Games includes versions of Batman and the Joker, among many other DC characters, from other universes. "Guardians of Middle Earth" released to consoles as the first "core" MOBA on those platforms, albeit "Monday Night Combat" and "Awesomenauts" would beg your already split attention on that subject. The point is, anything with a whole lot of varied characters already plays perfectly into the competitive MOBA-style of play, it's just a matter of picking the right ones at this point and hoping it comes out before the market becomes oversaturated.

Transformers

Perhaps a bit obvious, considering the explosion of popularity in Transformers since Michael Bay had something to say about it, transforming robots still make perfect fodder for any kind of video game violence. There is another reason, however, which makes the Transformers IP perfectly primed for the MOBA treatment, and that's High Moon Studios. "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron" and "Transformers: War for Cybertron" were both perfectly tuned third-person shooters (on the campaign side of things) with the unique gameplay twist of allowing the player to turn into vehicles any time they wanted. Couple that with the excellent, minion spawning horde mode, Escalation, and you've got the groundwork for the best third-person shooter MOBA since "Monday Night Combat."

It would also be at the least the third third-person shooter MOBA since "Monday Night Combat" and "Smite", but who's counting? You've got great big transforming robots with personalities as unique as their combat roles and abilities. High Moon Studios even dabbled in microtransactions in "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron," setting the franchise up as a potential free-to-play powerhouse with cosmetic and character transactions ready to go. The deathmatch-style multiplayer never really took off originally, but repurposing those impressive assets for a MOBA (loved the transforming animations) and giving the metal robots some actual health might finally empower players as Transformers should.

NBA/NFL

The MOBA franchise leads eSports for a reason. That reason has nothing to do with physical, reality sports, but who cares? Could the two mix together in some diabolical way?

Alright, let's set up a little context here. Mario, Luigi and Peach balled with Carmelo Anthony and other NBA stars in the "NBA Street" franchise. "NBA Baller Beats" is a game that exists. It's a rhythm game about dribbling. Jay-Z was apparently a producer on the latest NBA 2K game and "NFL Blitz" was the greatest football game ever created, including all of "Madden." Video games can make anything happen, especially when it comes to sports. So replace bases with hoops or end zones, turrets with linemen or centers and champions and heroes with sport stars and legends. It could work. Every player you know in either the NBA or NFL is analyzed and identified for their strengths and weaknesses to the point of insanity, NBA squads of five are carefully crafted to balances various weaknesses and strengths of its individual players and teams are forced to push from one end of the court of field to the other to score points. That could just as easily be a MOBA. Throw in a little violence, some respawns and you've got a video game. We've already got the trash talk.

And that's how you make something sound way easier than it ever could be. Did I mention that entire websites and forums are dedicated to discussing and analyzing players in great detail for the purpose of crafting the perfect "fantasy" team? That happens too.

The Matrix

Admittedly, I just went through "The Matrix" trilogy. Yes, the latter two movies included, judge me later. Here me out first. Beyond the initial threesome of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus, "The Matrix" actually has quite the cast of characters to draw from, especially when you expand past that first phenomenal film. Agent Smith, of course, makes for a solid number four, but when you look beyond pure combat capabilities, you've got supporting roles in the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar hovercraft, that hunky dory cast of villains during the Merovingian fight in "The Matrix Reloaded (twin ghost dudes included) and even the Oracle herself.

But beyond champions and heroes, "The Matrix," much like it did with movies, could introduce a new visual direction for MOBAs from the already-tired fantasy setting. C'mon people. We seriously can't get past "World of Warcraft" in a brand new genre? "DOTA 2" did moderately good work in this area, but the kitchen sink approach isn't really doing it. Let's get some cyberpunk going.

"The Matrix" never did get a good video game. Perhaps it's time to try again in the MOBA genre.

Cereal Mascots

Like "My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic" an unsanctioned 2D fighter playing with the all-too-happy world of ponies, any game pitting cereal mascots together in arena battle is bound to stay in the imagination or stay off the books. Either way, we can dream. Tony the Tiger's fearsome yet friendly roar simultaneous causes nearby enemies to scatter while temporarily empowering teammates. Captain Crunch can call in his ship for an ultimate attack to push enemies in a certain direction while causing damage and Fruit Loops' Tucan Sam can fire off his bits of cereal, each color a minor yet varied effect on his opponent. The potential is definitely there. We just wouldn't know what to do with things like Cheerios or other "healthy" snacks too good for a mascot.

Perhaps most importantly, we'd need a joke champion to represent all generic grocery store knockoffs. The joke? It's more powerful all other mascots combined, it just doesn't have any personality.

X-Men

Because duh.

I was totally serious about the NFL and NBA thing too.

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