We continue our list of the best games for Mac. The next category is:
It was the original DOTA - Defence Of The Ancients - that really popularised the MOBA genre (multiplayer online battle arena), but this sequel has had a somewhat chequered history on the Mac. Someone once described the Mac version of DOTA 2 as a "cruel joke", because of its poor performance, and just when the Mac version seemed to sort out the worst of its problems, Yosemite came along and seemed to break it all over again. Recent updates from Valve itself actually seemed to make matters worse, and it's only recently that we've even attempted to dip our toes back into the murky waters of DOTA 2 once more.
Those waters can indeed be deep, dark and murky at times, as DOTA 2 is an extremely complex game. That's mainly due to the sheer number of heroes that you can choose from, each with their own different abilities, weapons and item combinations that can drastically affect the way that you - and your opponents - play. Fortunately, the current incarnation of the game now includes an extensive tutorial mode that introduces you to the basics of combat, as well as including bot matches against computer-controlled opponents that can help you to sharpen your skills. Even so, DOTA 2 remains a demanding game that will require many hours of practice before you even start to master the basics of online combat. It's rewarding when you finally start to get results, but there are more recent MOBA titles - such as Blizzard's Heroes Of The Storm, that offer a gentler introduction to online brawling. Cliff Joseph
Heroes Of The Storm (Heroes 2.0)
Where to buy: eu.battle.net/heroes
Requirements: Mac with OS X v10.10, 2.0GHz dual-core Intel processor, nVidia Geforce GT 330M or ATI Radeon HD 4670
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Heroes Of The Storm follows the same format as MOBA rivals such as League of Legends (below), with two teams of players fighting to control towers and other landmarks within each battle zone. However, HotS has a trump card up its sleeve as it allows you to play with familiar characters from other Blizzard games, such as Diablo, StarCraft and World Of Warcraft, making the same feel accessible even if you're new to the MOBA genre.
But online games need to provide a steady stream of updates and new content in order to keep players interested. Heroes Of The Storm has delivered an almost never-ending list of new characters for you to play, as well as new battle ground maps, and even entirely new game styles, such as the Brawl mode that was introduced a few months ago.
Heroes 2.0 - as it's being called by Blizzard - has arrived just as the game is celebrating its second birthday, and it does more than just adding a bit more content. There are the usual additions, such as the new cyborg assassin Genji, and an updated set of 'challenge' quests that encourage you to bring friends into the game by offering goodies such as skins and mounts when you work together to complete the quests.
More importantly, Heroes 2.0 also updates some of the game's core systems, such as the way your characters progress and gain new levels during each battle. It now takes your characters a little longer to progress through the early levels in the game, but the higher levels are slightly easier, which makes it less of a grind for regular players who want to level up their most powerful characters. The maximum level cap has also been removed altogether, so you can just keep on levelling and getting more and more powerful with every game.
Blizzard has also shifted some of the emphasis away from spending gold in the online shop, to rewarding players with Loot Chests that are stuffed with items (an idea borrowed from the hugely successful Overwatch). You get one Loot Chest every time you level up, with special Rare and Epic chests every five or 25 levels - ensuring that you've got even more reasons to keep on coming back for more. Cliff Joseph
League of Legends
Gamers always have room for a great real-time strategy title, and it's time to make room for League of Legends. Identical to its Windows counterpart, LoL for Mac divides its players into two teams, each attacking the other's base and attempting to dismantle their opponent's tower defences and win the round. You can choose from more than 110 Champion templates (characters), and customise their skill set with points earned from matches.
Beyond nifty graphics and sound, there's a near-infinite number of ways to play League of Legends, thanks to its large library of Champions, each with their own abilities: from warriors and mages to robots, pirates and ninjas.
Strictly speaking, the Mac version of Smite is still in its beta test phase, but we don't get too many MOBA games on the Mac - those letters standing for 'multiplayer online battle arena', by the way - and the beta seemed pretty stable during the time that we tested it. The game is free to play too, so there's no reason not to check it out and see if it grabs you.
The MOBA format is fairly straightforward, with opposing teams of players slugging it out for control of key areas and targets in the various online battle zones. Smite brings a mythological slant to the format, allowing you to play as a variety of gods, such as Thor from Norse mythology or Ra, the Egyptian sun god. The gods all have their own different powers - Thor has his hammer, of course, while Ra zaps enemies with laser-like beams of sunlight - so there's plenty of variety on offer. The basic free-to-play game allows you to choose just a handful of gods, but if you get hooked you can cough up £14 for the God Pack that unlocks dozens of additional characters.
Smite is quite a complex game to master, especially as the intentionally restricted viewing angles mean that you have to keep a close eye on the battlefield around you in order to avoid sneak attacks and ambushes. However, Smite does have an extensive tutorial mode to help you get started, and there are several different game modes that you can experiment with while you're learning the ropes. Cliff Joseph
World of Tanks Blitz
World Of Tanks has been around on various platforms since 2010, but there's never been a proper Mac version available (although it is possible for braver gamers to get the Windows version running on a Mac by using the CrossOver software from Codeweavers).
However, this mobile version called World Of Tank Blitz was released for iOS and Android in 2014 and has recently been converted for the Mac, so we can finally join in with the tank-busting fun as well.
The game itself is really quite simple. A brief tutorial lets you choose your first tank from a selection used by countries such as Britain, the US, Germany and Russia, and then guides you through the basics of steering your tank and firing weapons. You're then thrown into an online battle in which two teams of seven players compete to blow each other up first.
It's as simple and addictive as that, with games played on a variety of levels that range from the streets of Europe to rocky deserts and US industrial zones. Defeating enemies earns you experience points and bags of gold, which you can use to upgrade your tank and research new types of armour and weaponry. And, of course, as it's a free-to-play game, you also have the option of coughing up hard cash to pay for upgrades if you want. The combat can seem a bit simple and repetitive after a while, and Blitz definitely works best on mobile devices where you can dip in and out whenever you feel like it, but it's certainly addictive and it's good news that I can finally join in with my PC friends who have been bugging me about the game for ages. Cliff Joseph