So this article is about the 3 most popular games in the MOBA/Action RTS genre. It's just about my opinion of these games and a comparison and why I play them. I started with HoN when it was in Closed Beta and I played LoL later when it was released. Recently I got a Betakey for DotA 2 which I already played on my friends account. So I got 2500+ games experience in HoN and about 1500+ in LoL. Because I jsut recently got my key and played some times on an other account to I only have about 30-40 games on DotA2 and about 50 in DotA, thus my opinion about DotA2 is not complete yet and well it is still in CBT.
Let's start with LoL, which is I think the easiest of the 3 to get into and to learn. The gameplay is simple, there is not as much strategy involved as it is in the other games. This may be seen as weakpoint, but I think this is also one of it's advantages compared to HoN/DotA. There is less frustration for casual gamers when they start out because there is less to learn. There is also a motivation to play with the summoner's level system unlocking new Masteries/Rune Slots/Summoner Spells. It actually feels like a kind of RPG where you have to level up to become stronger. A positive sideeffect is that players need to play many games before they can actually join ranking matches, thus you won't meet complete beginners (unless they bought the account).
In HoN you don't have a system like this, it feels more competetive. They gameplay is nearly the same as DotA2 and if you want to play it succesfully you will have to read many guides, watch tutorial videos and learn from other experienced players, else you will have to learn it by losing. If you never played DotA/HoN/DotA2 then it will be hard to start with one of these games. You have to pay attention to more things than in LoL.
There you only have to concentrate on Lasthitting, be careful of being ganked, initiate when the enemy has bad positioning and at times go gank. But laning in HoN or DotA2 means you have to do the same things and in addition you need to deny creeps, buy items via courier or in Sideshop/Outpost and look for the rune every 2 minutes. But the biggest difference is probably the penalty for dieing, you don't only lose time which you could farm gold and exp like in LoL, but you will also lose gold. That makes it possible to shut down the enemy carry easier.
Which brings me to my next point: the importance of the items. What I always missed in LoL were true anti-carry items like a Eul's Scepter (Stormspirit), Scythe of Vyse (Kuldra's Sheepstick) or a Ghost Scepter (Void Talisman). But as a small "compensation" there are also nearly no defensive Items which give a real advantage to the carries like a BKB (Shrunken Head) or a Shadow Blade (Assasin's Shroud). In the end it feels like in LoL you just stack as much damage output and Hp/Armor as possible to win.
Till now i referred to HoN and DotA 2 as the same because by all means both games are so similar regarding strategy, but S2 has tried to make HoN a bit different (easier I think). They introduced new items, heroes and also changed the Gameplay. Major changes are the courier which every team gets at the start of the match by default plus the changes regarding the secret shop. All previous items from Secretshop are now available in the base and it now sells wards and potions. I think these changes make the gameplay slightly easier because you don't have to run/send courier to Secretshop for items and at the same time supporters don't need to go back to base for wards or potions. Midlane can also easily buy potions via flying/courier and receive them seconds later. The new heroes which were introduced are often not balanced and the overpowered ones are referred to as S2Heroes (being too strong and thus ruining games). As a result of those heroes some competitive players left and went to play LoL/DotA2. Another difference is the pace/speed, I don't know why but when I play HoN it feels faster and with more action compared to DotA2.
All in all I come to the conclusion that LoL gameplay is easiest and I have most fun when I play it. But when I want to play serious I tend to play HoN or DotA2. Of those 2 I slightly prefer DotA because of the Secret shop and the missing default courier make it more strategy intense (the timing of all your actions and the choice of your starting item).
I won't add DotA2 in this because the game isn't finished yet and well Valve is a experienced company and rather successful. The finished game will probably have a Itemshop but the contents aren't known yet. And DotA wasn't a standalone game so I think there's nothing remarkable to mention here.
Let's put our focus on LoL and HoN Ingameshops. Well both shops sell cosmetic items such as Skin or Rename service and stuff like that which is not really important to me but one thing I appreciate in HoN is the possibility to get those Skins without paying real money (even though some require you to play about 1 month to gather the coins needed...). I also want to mention that I think the HoN skins are "better" because the team put mroe effort into creating them isntead o jsut changing Color patterns like many skins in LoL.
The biggest difference here would be the runes sold in LoL IngameShop. They influence the gameplay and can give a advantage. Well HoN also has something unique: the Early Access heroes only available for real cash. New heroes will be in early access for one month and during that time only people who pay real money can play them. This can be kind of unfair when they release another "S2Hero" and the fix to balance that hero usually comes after the Early Access month for him is already over.
Next would be the two companies. I believe Riot Games' first game was LoL so one could say this gaming company was founded to produce LoL. S2 has developed other games in the past for example Savage 2. While LoL started with the F2P model with a Ingameshop, S2 decided to make HoN a B2P game with a price of 30$. Because of this they limited the amount of people who could play the game. Some may say this was a mistake and the reason why HoN is slowly falling apart these days, but it also held back some trolls and griefing palyers. Unfortunately S2 decided to introduce the F2P model. This idea wasn't liked by many HoN players and I think this is the point were the downfall of HoN started.
I always had the feeling that the producers must be greedy with all the stuff they did with the ingameshop. On the other side I always thought that RiotGames was more concerned about their customers, seeing many RP giveaways nearly regularly and also the possibility to earn RPs by referring friends (in HoN you only get silver coins no matter what). There are many payment options available in LoL, at the same time HoN only offers payment via Credit Card or PayPal. Small hint to S2, maybe get Paysafecard or other payment options to earn more money instead of Early access and increasing Silvercoin Prices for Skins and heroes.
My conclusion is that RiotGames seems much more concerned about their customers (or a least they know how act so) and thus I never spent money on HoN besides the 30$. In LoL I invested about the same sum and I had more fun with it.
This was the first Part of my comparison between those games. This contains only my opinion and if you don't agree feel free to comment and correct me, but by all means don't start insulting/flaming. Next Part will be about Ingame options (Pause/Concede/...) and the community of those games. Stay tuned and I hope you enjoyed reading this article. :)