There are a whole variety of different eSports games around at the moment and those new to the world of eSports will probably be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing which games to play or watch. Want to know what eSport best suits you? Read on to find out.
It’s not as simple as looking at the genre of games when trying to find which one is suited to you. If your main intention is to play, things like the cost (this includes the game and necessary equipment), the time it takes to finish one game and whether the game is mobile compatible or not have to be considered. If you’re only interested in watching the competitive action, there’s still plenty to think about.
What’s the difference between watching and playing eSports?
Firstly it is important to understand the differences between watching and playing. The main factors that differentiate watching and playing eSports are; time constraints, location, dedication and focus.
Watching a game is something you can do from the comfort of your home or almost anywhere on your mobile. Watching doesn’t require a lot of attention (although this helps when keeping track of what’s going on) and whenever you want to stop, you can.
Playing is different in this regard. Committing a certain amount of time is a necessity, not only to finish a game but also to avoid cooldowns (a ban imposed if you quit an online game before finishing). Cooldowns are dependent on the server you are playing - if you’re only playing a casual game you don’t have to worry about it.
There is also an additional cost associated with playing different eSports games compared to just watching. Instead of watching for free on Twitch or other streaming services, if you want to play the games you will have to buy the game itself (although some are free-to-play) and also any required equipment if you don’t have it already.
Understanding the different eSports genres
At the moment, the most popular types of eSports games are MOBA’s (multiplayer online battle arena) and FPS (first person shooter) games. Some games combine a bit of both of these genres such as Overwatch and others are a bit more unique but still use elements from different games - the player versus player (PvP) game PUBG being one such example.
There are also games that are completely different to anything else such as Rocket League (soccer with cars) and Hearthstone (digital-only collectable card game).
In terms of playing, FPS games attract an entirely different type of audience compared to MOBA games. This is mainly because the two types of games require different skills, have different objectives and the length of a single game can differ greatly.
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You play MOBA’s in a team of five, from a third person type view. One of the main aims is to “last hit” creeps (get the last hit on an enemy minion) in order to obtain experience points (XP) and gold. You level up with the XP points and you can also buy items in the shop with the gold. Dota 2 and League of Legends are the most well-known MOBA games at present.
The sound is not as important in MOBA games as the only audible is also visual too – this means you do not need to purchase a headset in order to play.
CS:GO (the most popular FPS game at the moment) is of course quite different to the likes of Dota 2 and League of Legends. It has one similarity in that it is played five versus five but the game setting and objectives are completely different.
In a CS:GO match you play one half (15 rounds) as a terrorist (T) and one half as a counter-terrorist (CT) and you have to eliminate your opposition or plant a bomb (T side objective) or defuse it (CT side objective). Hand-eye coordination (for aiming and shooting) is incredibly important in CS:GO, as is patience and focus. A typical game in CS:GO will also usually last around 40 minutes.
Overwatch would technically be referred to as an MOFPS (multiplayer online first-person shooter) - although most people will know it as an FPS. It is a mixture of Dota 2, League of Legends and CS:GO. Unlike CSGO, it is played in teams of six, utilising different roles similar to MOBA games and lasts around 20 minutes per game.
With the vast amount of champions in the meta to pick from in Dota 2, new players can often struggle to know who they should take for certain team compositions.
In contrast to MOBA’s, the sound is one of the most important factors in FPS games. Listening to your teammates and communicating with them is a key component of playing together as a team. Being aware of where your opponents are and relaying this information is essential in achieving even minimal success in an FPS game and as such equipment is needed.
StarCraft 2 (SC2) is one of the few remaining real-time strategy (RTS) games with widespread popularity. Utilising many different skills than the other genres, such as strategy and planning ahead. More like a game of chess, this sort of game is more designed for people who enjoy outsmarting their opponent, rather than out aiming.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG is a player versus player (PvP) action game in which up to 100 players fight to the death in a battle royale type game mode where the last man or team standing are the winners.
Played mostly as an FPS game, using strategy and planning ahead is important in PUBG. This is because the unplayable zones later in the match do so much damage you need to have planned your movement well in advance of it closing in. If you survive until the end, a game can take around 40 minutes to complete.
Rocket League is entirely different to the rest of the games mentioned above. It is not dependant on sound, it takes five minutes to finish a game and you can play on your own or in teams of up to four people. It is quite relaxed and simple, you play soccer with cars. This simplicity and relaxed nature make it incredibly popular amongst casual players.
More like a game of chess, StarCraft 2 is more designed for people who enjoy outsmarting their opponent, rather than out aiming.
The ability to play the game cross-platform ensures if your friends only own the game on an Xbox or PlayStation instead of a PC, you still have the opportunity to play with or against them.
How much does it cost to play different games?
The cost of a game is also an important factor to consider when deciding what game to play. Different games use different models in attracting players. Some start with a high starting fee but are all-inclusive, while other games are free (LoL and Dota 2) but contain microtransactions in the game for things such as skins, although these are not essential for playing.
Overwatch and CS:GO have an initial cost if you want to play them (Overwatch costs around €35 and CS:GO €13). Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm (HotS) have a similar model to LoL and Dota 2 in that they are free-to-play, which is one advantage these games have over other games (you don’t have to invest to see if you like it).
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The equipment you need to play the majority of these newer games can be quite expensive. Hearthstone, for example, requires a computer with a much lower specification and price to play it than PUBG or CS:GO. Deciding what game you want to play can be heavily impacted by your budget if you do not own the equipment already.
MOBA games, in general, do not require top end machines to play as they are more focused on gameplay than graphics. Rocket League is similar in this regard. Older games such as SC2 will work on most machines, so long as you have a graphics card.
Using the right peripherals is important when playing eSports games as well as the right machine. CS:GO and Overwatch will require you to purchase a gaming mouse and a headset in order to play optimally, which can cost upwards of €100.
The ability to play Rocket League cross-platform ensures if your friends only own the game on an Xbox or PlayStation, you still have the opportunity to play with or against them.
League of Legends and Dota 2 can be played with cheaper equipment as the need for a decent mouse and headset is not as useful, due to sound and aiming not being as important.
Looking at the different eSports games in more detail
A person could argue Overwatch and CS:GO are both FPS games and therefore similar but even genres of games can be quite different. CS:GO is a lot slower paced due to the movement speed. Also, if you die then that’s it for the round, there is a lot more at stake on your life than in Overwatch, which someone could argue makes a game of CS:GO more tense and exciting.
In CS:GO, however, as there is an economy system when one side has little to no money they will be forced to take an eco-round. These rounds, for the most part, are entirely pointless which makes for a less than exciting viewing experience, as well as one for the players too.
When analysing MOBA games, Dota 2 can be more complicated to play than League of Legends for a number of reasons. With the vast amount of champions in the meta to pick from in Dota 2, new players can often struggle to know who they should take for certain team compositions.
It can also be harder for a newcomer to understand their positioning and why they should play in one spot instead of another in Dota 2 compared to League of Legends.
In summary, there’s plenty to think about when trying to find the right eSports game to play or watch. Hopefully, this article will help you make that decision but until you load up a stream or start playing, you’ll never really know.
Ready to watch some eSports? Check out the upcoming eSports events.