The Importance of Character Design – Part 2

Even more interesting to me, however, is how incredibly similar these characters are in gameplay as well as thematic design. Obviously, DotA 2 and LoL have very different mechanics (destroyable terrain in DotA 2 is one important difference), so with each having their own restrictions or allowances, I would say that Rumble and Timbersaw are about as close as you can get to direct ports of each other. Let’s take a look at each of their kits to see why. Rumble’s abilities are based around “Heat,” a mechanic that allows him to spam his skills mana-free, and even see them increase in power if he has enough heat. Timbersaw’s hatred of flora empowers his abilities whenever he connects them with the map’s abundant trees. Because of this, both characters need to be crafty in their ability use to get the most of their kit. Rumble’s primary ability is his Flamespitter, which deals periodic damage to enemies in front of him (and deals amplified damage if he’s overheated). Its range is pitiful, but its damage is powerful – much like Timbersaw’s Whirling Death, which sees his saw do high damage in a small area around him, amplified if he also cuts down a tree. Rumble’s scrap shield and Timbersaw’s Reactive armor both see them gaining defensive capabilities, Rumble gaining speed and HP for a short time, and Timbersaw passively gaining armor and regeneration; both mechs are naturally tanky. And while Rumble’s harpoons slow enemies, Timbersaw’s hook allows him to zip around the forest, opposite sides of the same coin. Lastly, their ultimate abilities are virtual mirrors, both providing long-ranged area-of-effect damage that also slows their opponents.

It’s interesting to see how two games in the same market – the same fictitious real estate even – share so many similarities, even when designed separately. I’m happy to see both camps be open to a broad variety of characters and styles, especially branching away from what so many other games cling to, though it is rather funny that both come to slightly different interpretations of the same idea much of the time. I don’t have any deep social commentary on this topic, really. I love how both games incorporate multiple styles into their universe (go check out this somewhat dated video about how LoL designers look at their champs). Thanks for reading my musings on character design in MOBAs. Now after all this writing, all I want to know is who would win in a battle, Tiny or Malphite? Kunkka or Gangplank? Timbersaw or Rumble? What do you think?

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