Vainglory is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game in the style of League of Legendsand Dota 2 but designed for smartphones. As standard for the genre, two opposing teams fight to reach and destroy the enemy's base while defending their own in a tug of war for control of a path, the "lane", which connects the bases. In Vainglory, teams have three players who each control an avatar, known as a "hero", from their own device. Weaker computer-controlled characters, called "minions", spawn at team bases and follow the lane to the opposite team's base, fighting enemies and turrets en route. Lining the lane are turret towers that repel the flow of minions and enemy heroes. The player's objective is to destroy the enemy turrets and the "Vain Crystal" in the enemy team's base. If a crystal is destroyed, the team who destroyed the crystal wins.
As of May 2015, there are 14 hero options. The developers of the game continually add more, each with different skills but balanced for fair play. For example, a hero may have high damage but poor mobility, or strong melee abilities but no ranged options. Players choose between three attack skills that upgrade via a common technology tree, with the third ultimate ability unlocked after the other two have been upgraded a couple of times. There is a set number of heroes that are free to play, with the free to play roster being refreshed every week. Players can also choose to permanently unlock any character for a certain amount of Glory. The game uses two in-game currencies for in-app purchases: one that can be earned through play, known as Glory, and one that can be purchased with money, known as Immensely Concentrated Evil (ICE). Vainglory offers two main modes of in-game communication: team emoticons and strategic pings.