HoN and Dota 2 – A comparison.

Hey folks, Airwave again. Tonight I wanted to sit down and a have a little chat with you on something that has been bothering me for a while, the differences between HoN and Dota 2.

Nobody has written a half-way decent and detailed comparison of these two games, so I brought it upon myself to do so. I’ll leave my rampant fanboyism and nutsuckery at the door and try not to hit my head as I get up from under Icefrog’s desk. It’s important to note that while I do play DotA almost exclusively, I still love HoN. Even after quitting i’ll continue to play the occasional game with real life friends. It’s a fun game (albeit one with an awful competitive scene and terrible management) that doesn’t get any of the credit it deserves. Heroes of Newerth has shortcomings, so does DotA2, and i’m going to point them out with as little bias as possible.


Both games have crisp gameplay and similar mechanics, but there is one huge difference between how the two games play out, and that’s the pace of the actual game.

The HoN engine encourages speed. Plays happen at a breakneck pace that can often leave a newer player confused, if not downright baffled. While the speed at which things happen can be difficult to follow at first, experienced players and viewers can easily decipher the action and comprehend what’s happening in almost any scenario. Furthermore, a player with exceptional reflexes can often correct a gameplay mistake the moment it occurs thanks to the fast paced HoN engine.

Dota 2 is a bit different. Mistakes are punished harder, while games play a bit slower and more methodically. Due to how easy it is to kill Roshan (Kongor) and push towers earlier in the game, one mistake can completely change the tide of a game. Consequently, teams are averse to taking big risks if they feel the game is still within arms reach. That isn’t to say comebacks don’t happen, but to make a comeback happen it requires more than your average pubtrain or throw coming from the other team. The point is, one reckless play will be relentlessly punished by good players in any game but the effect is greater in Dota 2 when compared to HoN.

While there are other differences between the two games, (animation canceling plays a bigger role in HoN, stacking is unlimited in DotA2 and ancients are unaffected by magic) the speed of the game causes the most noticeable difference. When I’m actively playing both games, I’m often amazed at how much is happening in HoN. It’s a busier game and while I think that gives the game a more exciting experience, I prefer the preciseness of DotA over the rapidity of HoN.

Slight edge: HoN


HoN has a very clean, distinct visual style. While the game can seem like a clusterfuck of colors to a new player, I personally find it easy to distinguish between skills in the game. The fact that big skills usually have an easily identifiable animation makes reacting easier and decision making quicker (compare epicenter to eruption). DotA, unlike HoN, has a plethora of seemingly ambiguous spell visuals that are very difficult to tell apart. Admittedly DotA’s graphics have grown on me since I’ve started playing, but I still prefer the vibrancy of HoN. In regards to character design (visually, not balance/concept wise) both games have basically similar designs since they’re both iterations of the origial DotA.

Edge: HoN, until they release another weeaboo animu hero like Pearl, who belongs in either LoL or a book about teddy bears.

Hero Design, Release and Balance

Both games have very interesting heroes with creative designs. Most DotA 2 heroes have spent years in the original DotA and have been carefully balanced before being ported to DotA 2, drastically reducing the potential for an unbalanced hero to enter the pool.

Heroes of Newerth has had a tendency to release heroes before being properly balanced, due to their “Early Access” system, which releases a new hero every four weeks and allows players to use real world money (approximately 5 USD) to gain access to the hero before the general public. While I disagree with the system, it does allow heroes to be extensively tested before being allowed in “Tournament Mode” games, though they’re usually broken as fuck for a few months when they first come out.

When it comes to hero design and balancing, there are two major components that differ between the two games and alter the landscape of the metagame accordingly. The first major issue is the prevalence and design of stuns/disables in Heroes of Newerth. In DotA 2, if a hero has an ability that disables an enemy, the ability usually has some sort of drawback or facet that adds depth to the ability. Juxtaposed against the careful balancing and tweaking that surrounds DotA 2 abilities, Heroes of Newerth tends to have simpler, more powerful skills that threaten the delicate balance of a game that can easily be taken over by one character at any given time. Furthermore, there have been times when an unbalanced hero was left untouched for months at a time, either being permabanned or completely unpicked for extended periods of time.

DotA 2’s largest tournament, the Internationals, had 72 of 92 heroes picked, compared to the maybe 30 picked during the last DreamHack event for HoN.

Huge Edge: DotA 2

Competitive Scene

The competitive scene of DotA2 has myriad amounts of sponsored teams from major gaming organizations, such as EG, Col, Dignitas, Quantic, MYM, Na’Vi, M5, Fnatic, Empire, aL, and a bunch of SEA teams. HoN has two, TT eSports and Complexity (we’re not counting Garena HoN, Garena =/= S2). HoNTour has basically usurped the entire competitive HoN landscape so we now have two major Heroes of Newerth events, HoNTour and Dreamhack. DotA 2 on the other hand has the annual 1.6 million dollar Chinese giveaway that is The International, while also having more than enough leagues and cups to entertain viewers. HoNTour is interesting and the presence at Dreamhack is always awesome, but the size and scope of the DotA2 casual and competitive scene dwarfs HoN in comparison.

Edge: DotA 2

Matchmaking/Ranking System:

DotA 2 currently uses a hidden matchmaking system that places players into one of three tiers, normal, high, or very high. Once placed into a tier, you’ll be matched with players who are in the same tier and queuing for a game at the same time as you. Essentially this means that each team has one BR, one Rus, one shitty American and two people who are relatively competent. If you want to fivestack in DotA 2, you’ll enjoy winning every single game for years, because the system will randomly put you up against the next five players that are ready to play, who are usually players solo queing.

The HoN MM system isn’t perfect and it’s easily manipulated, but it’s infinitely better than the approach DotA 2 is using. The only real option for decent players in DotA 2 who want to get better is to find a team of other relatively decent players and start scrimming, or play in the inhouse leagues (which are just as bad as HoN public games).

Edge: HoN

In-Game Cosmetics:

I like that HoN gives you annoying avatars that let you grief your teammates and friends. Chainsaw Moraxus and the “I’m charging whatshisface” Rampage skins are perfect examples of this. Unfortunately, skins like this are the exception and now i’m forced to look at glowing pieces of shit like Futbol Bubbles (I thought that bitch was Midas the first time I saw him) or the entire money grabbing seven deadly sins series (which look like shit, anyway). Now S2 is releasing avatars that cost 25 dollars that look like mother fucking mighty morphing Power Rangers. If anyone wants to spend 25 dollars on some different colored pixels, be my guest, but for five dollars more I bought my HoN account at retail. Oh well, at least in HoN I get to listen to my nigga Duke Nukem tell people they suck balls. On the other hand, DotA 2 gives me shit for free just for playing the game. Can’t beat that.

Edge: DotA 2, cause i’m cheap.

Final Verdict

It’s not even a question that HoN and DotA2 are better than League, seriously, fuck that game. It’s shit, and doesn’t deserve the massive player base it has. Unfortunately, HoN and DotA 2 exist in the same realm of game where nerds think they’re good and people say they fuck your mom on a regular basis. We have to pick one over the other eventually, so…

DotA 2 wins until HoN gets their shit together, stay free HoNTrash.

Written by guest writer Airwave


22 thoughts on “HoN and Dota 2 – A comparison.

  1. Explain the balanced heros in dota 2 because I played dota until certain heroes started arriving then switched over to hon. Then when dota 2 came out I switched to that, but I felt everything was clunky and some of the heroes such rubic started coming in made me switch back to hon

  2. Well… actually Dota2 is in “beta”and I’m no1 to say if that makes it better or not because is beta and is like saying the next Bond movie will blow before it goes oficial. About HoN, if you can’t tell if the hero is bubbles or midas it doesn’t matter if you stay focused on abilities. So for me HoN still has the SLIGHT edge over Dota2.

  3. Indeed LoL is garbage that’s why it has such a huge loyal fan base and active tournament scene, troll much? Why even mention a game you aren’t reviewing except for the typical elitist bullshit that always comes out of the mouth HoN fanboys. I’ve played all three games and they all have their idiosyncrasies but HoN is unique in that every 12 year old ESL seemed to communicate only via permutations of the word ‘fag’ has seemed to make HoN their home. I can play LoL and DotA and actually have a useful productive discussion instead of stfu that’s what your mom said last night fag!

    HoN is an amazing game but they could benefit from a feature to just turn off chat, the player base is abusive at best.

  4. They quickly nerfed centaur, and I’ve yet to see something nearly as bad as pre-nerf Gemini come out. Phantom Lancer has a 4.2 agi gain, but he’s fragile as fuck all throughout the game. Drow’s ult is almost ridiculous, but faces the same problems and is easily shut down. I think DotA 2 is far more balanced than HoN is.

    And it’s starting to feel like every new HoN hero has some sort of stun/charge/CC skill now. Seems to me HoN’s becoming Game of Gankers…

  5. HoN is still more amazing because of:
    – all the taunts! 🎊
    – good graphics (game engine speed is faster the DotA – which I prefer better) (DotA’s game speed is ‘robotic’)
    – skins aren’t that bad! (see Flint Spellslinger)

  6. This is not complete at all.

    – Menu system –
    Easy to use and understandable but glitchy and slow

    DotA 2
    Confusing but smooth.

    – Gameplay –
    >Heroes are limited to 4 abilities which make controls easy but is starting to reach its limit in variety and difference.
    >The game itself is much more informative and easy to read whats going eg. hovering over a player clearly shows level, hp, mana, items and items give a clear indication when they are used. Information in-game like kills, creep kills, denies, gold p/m, xp/pm are all very easy to read.

    DotA 2
    >Hoeroes can get up to 6 abilities which brings in a much bigger variety of heroes and spells available but since you only have 4 – 5 quick reaction fingers people tend to struggle with the controls.
    >DotA 2 is more focused on the game itself and not the information given like the kills are in the right bottom corner and the font size is about 2 and a half. Hovering over characters only gives the hp level and mana. Spells are not really that clear to notice but if you are use to them, it’s no problem.

    – Graphics –
    >Graphics, although very colourful and childish for some players, are very clear to notice (if you recognize the alt avatars aswell). (personally I feel HoN has a better edge with graphics because if you play to win, the look doesn’t matter as much as being able to notice something before it happens or someone specific before it’s to late)

    DotA 2
    >Graphics are more smooth and painted and gives the aura feeling to the game.

    – Social –
    >Being social in HoN really is a breeze. Spectating, mentoring, monitoring, messaging or even giving a wisp in-game are all a right click away from the friends dropdown tab which is always accessible whenever you are in the menu.

    DotA 2
    >Steam gives a big edge to DotA in regards to achievements, account comparing, monitoring friends and messaging doesn’t require you to log into the game and search your friends list.

    This is my personal experience and I hope people agree with me.

    • Are you fucked? The graphics in hon are ten times better than dota 2’s. Dota graphics are just to cartoony hon is more serious.
      What im about to say will be hated but. I am a LOL player but I have only transferred because hon and dota are a baron wasteland
      Compared to it solo believe the characters are more balanced. Yes there are some very broken lol characters but riot is not slack
      I also feel that lol’s characters are more fun.
      In conclusion the pace of lol is better than home and faster than dotas.

      P.s the match making is like 1000000000000000000000x better

  7. Dear Airwave

    Never post a review with your personal emotional shit included then I just stop reading about how your day was


  8. For LOL i respect the game but when it comes to comparison they just shout it , to HON just play the game Trashtalk,but Trashtalking is Home for Ho Players,Dota/dota 2 they are history they get the no.2 no.1 is LOL but i agree that its supposed to be no.1 for dota no.3 for HON and no.2 for LOL

  9. I acknowledge that this is kind of low, but Daelon? Try using the english language in a way that doesn’t implicate that you’re a LOL-player.

    My take on the games, and I’ve played them all(LOL lv30, dota2 Very high skilled, HoN 1750+): HoN has a great feeling of responsivness and, until the 3.0 mapcrap, great design. If not for S2Games(greedygames) crappy support, balancing and whatnot this would probably be the game to play if you’re looking for a top edge competitive challenge, otherwise i would say Dota2 is your game. Dota2 is more of a brainthruster when it comes to tactics then HON, simply because it’s more balanced(imo) and it’s not focused on massive speed(MassTP and so on).

    LoL is a great game for playing casually with friends, since it’s easier to learn, it’s not so hard and frankly, because the people you face aren’t that good. It’s also less deep in tactics and lanecontrol which makes it a really great game for starters.

    I mean seriously, you often see newbies coming to hon and dota2 and they will just have their faces stomped for the first 50 games.

    Lately dota2 has been growing for me, mostly because i can play a good competitive game and still feel like its kind of casual.

    Sry for rant /Tengil

  10. I have played all 3 games, Dota2-classic, LoL and heroes of newerth

    HoN is nice, and is better than LoL in many ways. Though they keep making overpowered heroes/champions and a fairly 40% of all the skins are quite rubbish. The feeling that you’re playing perfection, and that it contains alot of quality. Doesn’t exist much as in dota2. Though the gameplay is faster, and it is easier then dota 2

    LoL is way too commercial. I have respect for Riot Games for taking initiation for making a “improved” dota.. But they failed, and there champions are inbalanced. and the gameplay simple. Afcourse there are skilled players, probably ones who can beat the shit out of me in MOBA games. But the simplicity is still there. The leveling system, with masteries and runes are a nice idea. But creates huge disadvantages to new players, and to have a hard time finding my favourite champions is not what I want.

    Dota 2 has the smallest community of all 3 MOBA kings at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it has few players. Dota is a legacy, from classic to allstars to Dota 2. The graphics in dota 2 turn a bit to “realism”, and do not look like made in paint like in LoL. The heroes ( or champions for LoL players ) are way more artistic and thought out. It is more balanced, and each hero has its big strength and weakness. But besides the graphics it plays tense, and every move you make changes the game. And it has so many possibilities. It feels like a real game, more then LoL or HoN thats for sure.

    Thats why I prefer dota 2, and it is better at some points. Though everybody has its own opinion, I find LoL pure commercial and desperate bullshit. But another might think that of dota 2 ( that would be innacurate though )

  11. Clearly this blogger’s hands are slow and have no money to buy EA heroes. Its so obvious that a faaster game shows a person’s reaction time and even precision. So Hon is the winner.

  12. hon and lol just a copy cat i just know about that~nothing to
    discuss about it~no dota thn this both rpg game sure wont come out

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