Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (or MOBAs) used to be the sole realm of desktops. Ever since the original Defense of the Ancients (DoTA) user created mod opened up the floodgates, the MOBA scene has never looked back. It even managed to grab the attention away from the Multiplayer FPS king, Countersrike.
Today, the 5 vs. 5 team MOBAs are the eSports poster children. LAN parties and big money tournaments alike are built on them.
Until recently, the mobile MOBA had one undisputed champ: Moonton’s Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (aka Mobile Legends). But in 2020, that crown has a new challenger, which is Riot Games’ League of Legends: Wild Rift (or just Wild Rift).
Wild Rift is actually based on the main League of Legends franchise. Most of the gameplay elements, character choices, and team dynamics were faithfully recreated with the mobile gaming sensibilities intact. Now that the dust has settled on Wild Rift’s debut, how does it stack up vs. the big dog, Mobile Legends? Let’s take a look at the blow-by-blow comparisons between the two head on!
Mobile Legends is Better than Wild Rift
First, we will look at the reasons why Mobile Legends is better than Wild Rift.
Mobile Legends is Simpler than Wild Rift
In terms of gameplay, Mobile Legends is simpler. The roles are simply broken down to DPS, Tank, Nuke, and Support. Although there are subclasses like Assassin, Fighter, Mage, Marksman, and Jungler, there is not a whole lot of variation. If you can play one style, the other characters of that style will not be too difficult to learn and be comfortable playing with.
Furthermore, the skills are easy to grasp. Each character gets one passive and 3 active skills. These 3 skills will often break down to Buff, Damage, Blink, and Area of Effect (AoE). There would be slightly different effects for flavor, but they generally follow this aforementioned classification list.
The map is also not too complicated. It is just a mirror of each side’s own half. There are very minor variances, such as the positioning of the Jungle camps. But it is very easy to grasp which Jungle spawn point provides which buff. Every lane virtually has the same level of cover and potential for ambushes.
Simplicity is beauty. This makes even the newest player coming in to Mobile Legends right now will figure things out easily. That makes casual gamers more likely to stick around and play the game for a long while.
Mobile Legends Is Less Demanding
With the simplicity of Mobile Legends’ gameplay come lower hardware requirements. As Mobile Legends has been around since 2016, giving it the advantage of being on the mobile scene first. Because of this, development of the game itself has taken into consideration the available mobile devices for its audience.
Although there have been improvements made which depend on a certain degree of hardware advancement, the changes have not been too harsh. This allows players with moderately advanced hardware (i.e. mobile devices) to enjoy the game along with those with the budget to invest in higher end gadgets.
Although there are pundits regarding this point, the fact of the matter is inclusiveness is one of the driving elements of mobile games. Making a group of players feel left out has a negative effect on the bottom line. With Mobile Legends having a more accessible entry point, it will have an advantage in getting new players to join in.
Mobile Legends is Faster
With a lighter system requirement comes speed. If you have a good mobile device for it, Mobile Legends can run on max settings and still do so smoothly. That goes for the demand on the internet provider. A standard internet connection is adequate enough (assuming there are no other technical difficulties). Less lag is always a good thing.
Beyond the actual technical speed of Mobile Legends, the mechanics of the game itself is quick. The pace of the game is very fast. Characters gain levels faster and gold is acquired relatively easily. This is because all the Heroes generate gold per interval and do not need to last hit creeps and minions to gain gold.
With a quicker gameplay experience, players can enjoy it more readily. Popping in for a 10 to 15-minute game of Mobile Legends during your lunch break is perfectly doable. And you can have a series of games in just an hour or two with your best mates.
Mobile Legends Has More Characters
Because Mobile Legends has been around for longer, the character roster is far more extensive. Just looking at the roster of characters between the two games is quite telling. Mobile Legends sports 104 characters compared to Wild Rift’s 49 Champions. With over twice the number of characters (called Heroes), that offers up a huge attraction for players who like to switch up their gameplay options.
And these characters also have unique, regional identities. Notable examples include Gatotkaca, Lapu-Lapu, Lancelot, Sun Wukong, Hayabusa, and Yi Sun-Shin. These characters are inspired by legendary figures, giving a touch of flavor to a player’s character choices. That adds a sense of connection, particularly if you are a player based in the area referenced.
The available character skins are also more varied. Mobile Legends characters have anywhere from 5 to 7 or more skins to collect. On the other hand, Wild Rift currently has 3 skins for each character. These character skins also offer some minor gameplay benefits such as bonuses to health or attack power. While these bonuses are very small, they can make a difference in the long run. Another point of interest with Mobile Legends’ character skins is some have ties to crossover games, particularly SNK’s famous King of Fighters franchise.
As an additional incentive, Mobile Legends gives away free trial cards that allow players to choose Heroes that they do not have yet. These trial cards can be anywhere from 1 day, 3 days, and 7 days. Although it can sometimes go overboard with the trial cards, it still gives opportunity to players for testing out characters they might not have acquired yet.
Mobile Legends Has More Customization
Beyond the characters themselves, Mobile Legends customizations include stat development. The stat customization is far more extensive, which can reach upwards of player level 60 to maximize. Collecting emblems and Magic Dust allows players to build up specialized roles.
For instance, they can collect Physical emblems to add bonuses to ATK, DEF, Health Regen, and other physical centered stats. At certain milestones, they can unlock unique passive abilities, like a healing effect when killing creeps and minions. As these are generic, you can assign these bonuses to whichever character you play with. For example, if you want your Mage to be a bit tankier, you can give it the Physical or Tank tree.
Finally, we cannot forget that Mobile Legends has more cosmetic choices. These can be anything from the respawn animation, to the teleportation, to the sound and special effects when an enemy hero is defeated. Mobile Legends even has daily freebies that give temporary access to these customizations (i.e. skins, cosmetics, and characters themselves). While these are nothing more than aesthetic in value, looking good is part of the gameplay experience!
And we have not even touched on the customization for the minigames, such as Mobile Legends chess, the Arcade style maps, and so on. Due to the wide array of customization available, Mobile Legends gives more incentive for players to keep playing without going elsewhere for their fix.
Wild Rift is Better than Mobile Legends
While it seems like Mobile Legends is barreling through on a clear win over Wild Rift, that is mostly due to the advantage of being in the scene first. And now we’ll take a look at how Wild Rift beats it in other areas.
Wild Rift is More Strategic
League of Legends: Wild Rift offers a far more satisfying strategic experience. Where Mobile Legends is simpler, IT’S TOO SIMPLE. While simplicity can give more opportunities for new players to access it, it also means every game has very little variation. Wild Rift’s characters go beyond the types Mobile Legends use.
For instance, nearly all the Marksmen type Heroes play the same. Grab equips that boost Damage and Attack Speed, Raise Critical hit Chances, and Physical penetration. Rinse and repeat. The formula is pretty much the same for melee fighters and assassins.
Now let’s look at a Wild Rift’s Champion. Garen, The Might of Demacia is a fighter, but he can be easily built as either a tank, a chaser, an Assassin, a Mid Lane, or a Baron Lane. This comes from the choices for Keystone and minor Runes, as well as the item build. A smart Garen player in Wild Rift can modify his build based on the team composition and as the game progresses, without feeling like they sacrificed their role or utility.
On the topic of laning, laning is also more or less arbitrary in Mobile Legends. There is often little strategic importance given to laning, especially in PUGs (Pick Up Games, i.e. random game groupings). Because last hitting is not actually a thing in Mobile Legends, there is no denying tactic either. More or less, it just boils down to whoever gets the early kills and moves up the gold and XP ladder fast.
By comparison, Wild Rift offers a more strategic MOBA experience. As it retains much of the familiar mechanics from the League of Legends proper, Wild Rift offers more opportunity for actual strategy. Protecting lanes and towers are more critical to getting wins. Tower advantage can make a huge difference in the outcome, instead of simply who has the more powerful characters earlier. This is one of the reasons PUGs are often unsatisfying. If you actually take your lane seriously while the other members of the team do not, it is an experience akin to scratching a chalk board.
Because Wild Rift incorporates the last hit mechanic, players need to be aware of getting the last hit to get the bonus gold and experience from creeps. But because you will likely be fending off opposing Champions, you cannot be complacent. Teaming up is vital, and it is essential for players to be aware of their roles and how to maximize their skills during pushes and ambushes.
Other elements like having more grass to hide in, the use of wards for both vision and removing them, wild fruits that heal allowing you to stay in the lane longer or survive, a more varied selection of creep spawns that give different buffs, and even the boots with different active buffs all add to the strategic options in Wild Rift that Mobile Legends does not have.
Wild Rift is More Balanced
Part of the reason Wild Rift involves more strategy is how better balanced the characters are. This goes beyond the stats, roles, and applicable gear. The Wild Rift Heroes are simply better thought out from a design perspective. Front loading a Hero is still possible, but that is less of an ideal option in Wild Rift.
As noted earlier, you can build pretty much any Marksman in Mobile Legends the same way and it will be fine. In Wild Rift, that is not the case. You have to be more careful with the equips you choose, as the gear choices in the game have more variations. In Mobile Legends, nearly all the gear is focused on passively boosting the key stats. There are a few that give some minor active choices, but they are the exception.
Wild Rifts Items offer a more balanced range of choices. Consider the Twin Shadows. While it has moderate stat boosts, the actual draw to building one is the Unique Active called Spectral Pursuit. It summons 2 ghosts for 6 seconds that hunts enemy champions. While there are Champions that benefit from this more than others, any Champion can choose this without feeling like they messed up. Because the stat bonus to ability power, cooldown, and movement speed are generic, it works well on any combat or support role.
On that note… NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY SUPPORT HEROES IN MOBILE LEGENDS. Whereas Wild Rift’s support Champions can play multiple roles, very few support Heroes in Mobile Legends are self-sufficient. Generally, the Mobile Legends support have one trick (either a heal, a buff or debuff, or a disable) and are useful for nothing else. There are few dedicated support Heroes that are worth using like Nana and Diggie (simply because they have escape abilities). But even then, players don’t look forward to using them.
On the other hand, Wild Rift’s support Champions all have multiple roles. Take for instance Lux. The Lady of Illumination works both as a Mage and a Support. Her firs skill Light Binding acts as both damage and control to up to 2 enemies. Her second skill Prismatic Barrier is a great buff to allies vs. damage. Her third skill Lucent Singularity slows and can be detonated for an area of effect nuke. These 3 skills offer a wide arrange of damage and support (not even including her passive and ultimate). Other support Champions in Wild Rift display similar balanced design sense.
And here is another thing about balance: the emblem system of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang vs. League of Legends: Wild Rift’s Runes. The disparity between these systems is very wide. Whereas Mobile Legends players that have raised their levels and their emblems over time can have significant advantage over newer players, Wild Rift’s Rune system is available to everyone as soon as Level 10 player level is reached.
Wild Rift Just Looks Better
On a purely aesthetic comparison, Wild Rift just plainly looks better than Mobile Legends. Riot Games chose to stick to a more whimsical, animated look to the overall presentation of Wild Rift. Whereas Mobile Legends is inconsistent with the looks of the Heroes (ranging from cartoonish to realistic), Wild Rift stuck to a unified feel. The game looks like a storybook that echoes a Walt Disney production’s familiar trappings.
By following this principle, the game just looks great. Even at lower graphics settings, the colors are more vibrant and the details are clear. The shadows are also not as harsh, so keeping them on doesn’t take away the immersion. Mobile Legends is atrocious with shadows (whenever they are used) and most gamers just flat out prefer to not use them at all.
Moreover, the animation of the individual elements in Wild Rift is slicker. When you dive into the grass for cover, it feels more textured and moves smoothly. Riot Games did not scrimp on the animated actions of even the background. If that is the price of a higher hardware requirement, it is arguably worth it.
Wild Rift is More Competitive
Competition breeds attention. There is a visceral thrill to winning and losing when you know it took skill and dedication from both sides of the MOBA game. In that regard, Wild Rift offers a more satisfying experience.
Wild Rift has the advantage of having 1 more skill slot (1 passive, 3 standard, 1 ultimate) vs. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’s design (1 passive, 2 standard, 1 ultimate). Thinking out of the box is encouraged, and the passive and active skills, and the items, all offer a more competitive environment.
Take for instance, two superficially similar Heroes from Mobile Legends’ Chou and Wild Rift’s Lee Sin. The former is very popular for chasing and kill steals, thanks to Chou’s abilities that allow him to gain an advantage with movement. His first and second skills also boost survivability and avoidance, and his ultimate can flat out dominate a low health target.
On the other hand, Lee Sin requires more precision. Whereas his first skill can get a bead on an enemy Hero, it is more of a setup, giving his team an opportunity to focus. As Sonic Wave needs to be aimed, it requires quick twitch reflexes to execute the follow up Resonating Strike. His third skill is a useful disable and reveals stealthed enemies. Finally, Lee Sin’s ultimate works both on positioning enemy Champions and breaking formations.
Another factor is how items are purchased. In Mobile Legends, once you have enough gold, Heroes can buy the item from anywhere on the map. Meanwhile, Wild Rift requires the Champion to go back to the base and buy the item. Some say this is an inconvenience, but it injects a strategic element. Do you return to base while you are still at full health and mana to get that item? Or do you stay in the lane so you can push the tower and give your team an advantage? That kind of choice is simply not available in Mobile Legends.
Clashes are also an aspect of the MOBA game where Wild Rift feels more complete. The twitch controls are sufficiently frenetic without being simply a question of stat and numerical advantage. Thanks to a more balanced Champion and Item design, clashes are rarely a foregone conclusion. Team awareness and callouts matter. You will know the difference when the DPS Champions are not the only ones racking scores.
Now, this may mean a slightly longer game. The average Mobile Legends game would be 10-15 minutes whereas Wild Rift clocks an average of 20-25 minutes. Be that as it may, this comes due to having a more thought out and, ultimately, more competitive gameplay experience. To give an allegory, fast food might satisfy your hunger, but a better cooked meal is more worthwhile.
As both games are targeting the eSports community, this competitive advantage of Wild Rift becomes even more significant. Although Mobile Legends has the edge with more established tournaments, expect Wild Rift to catch up. The more versatile and surprising team and action choices in Wild Rift will definitely attract the attention of eSports enthusiasts.
And going back to PUGs, the accessibility of Mobile Legends is a double edged sword. Mobile Legends is notorious for having a LOT of noobs and troll players even at high tier games. The matching system of Mobile Legends is ridiculously inconsistent, which leaves a bad taste in players’ mouths. So far, Wild Rift has not experienced the same level of mismatched matchmaking. It might seem like a small thing, unless you are at the receiving end of a team wipe.
Wild Rift is Not a Ripoff
Let’s call a spade a spade. Mobile Legends ripped off from League of Legends. While it is no doubt in anyone’s mind that League of Legends totally ripped from DoTA, it eventually evolved into its own identity. Mobile Legends, on the other hand, is a blatant rip of LoL. There was even a lawsuit back in 2018 filed by Tencent and Riot Games, which Moonton lost for $2.9 million in plagiarism damages.
Wild Rift did borrow elements that are common in mobile MOBAs, of which, ironically, Mobile Legends inspired. But that is as far as it goes. Nearly everything in Wild Rift were either translated directly or simplified to mirror the requirements of being played on mobile devices with touch screen control schemes.
It can be argued that Mobile Legends: Bang Bang has also evolved from its League of Legends copycat roots, but looking at it closely, the changes are not substantial. It still comes off as an inferior version of the real deal. And now that the real deal is in its playground, this flaw becomes even more apparent. Perhaps it’s time for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang to inject more uniqueness? Time will tell if Moonton is going that route.
So Which One is Better?
In a very short span of time from its 2020 debut on mobile devices, Wild Rift has closed the gap vs. Mobile Legends. Although Mobile Legends: Bang Bang still has more users currently, it cannot settle on that by one bit. The pros and cons of both games are very even as of this moment.
You can say the crown is still settled on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang for now. But League of Legends: Wild Rift is setting its position to take it in a blink when the timing is right!