Dota 2: State of the Game
Dota 2 is the follow up to the Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients. For those unfamiliar, Dota is considered one of the most popular game mods of all time, with success comparable to Counter Strike, and there’s a good reason.
What is it about?
The premise is simple enough, two teams of five people fight through lanes of towers and creeps, all to eventually destroy the other team’s Ancient. If that sounds confusing, it gets a whole lot more complicated when you introduce the HUGE roster of playable characters, each with their own unique skills and abilities, as well as levels, stats, equipment and classes.
Dota 2 is a standalone release from Valve, and is currently in a (Sort of) open beta. People can access the game by having it gifted to them from a friend who already owns it, and buys a giftable copy from the in game store for roughly $40. While some may consider this a high asking price for a Beta of a game which will be released as free to play, the gift package also includes several in-game items and packs, which must be purchased with real money otherwise.
Despite being only in Beta, Dota 2 has already made some big waves in the gaming scene. Games which derive from the original Dota’s gameplay formula are known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games. The most noteablely successful of these being League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth. MOBA games are renowned for their dedicated and passionate community, and are often featured at gaming tournements world-wide. However, as seen with games like Blizzard’s Starcraft, this sort of community can result in an inaccessable game to newcomers as a result of the dedicated community. MOBA communities are especially recognised as one of the more elitist gaming types, where a lack of skill can see new players harrassed by their own teammates.
The reason for this is clear in the gameplay. Each team must allocate it’s resources (Player controlled heroes) between the three lanes, while accompaning ‘creeps’, NPCs spawned from each team’s base which constantly spawn in the lanes, and if left unchecked, can often decide the outcome of a game. If one hero on the team doesn’t know what to do, it can often mean disaster for their own team. Deaths are to be avoided at all costs, since they reward the opposite team’s heroes with a relatively huge stack of experience, and the early kills will really dictate the direction of the game. This is also amplified by the length of the games. Some games go well above the 50 minute mark, meaning that earlier mistakes are often harshly punished later on.
Every MOBA game since the original Dota has tried to make the game more accessable and intuative, mainly through player abuse reporting systems. However, this does not always net results, as sometimes an entire team will get behind a report, and will grief people with threats of reports. However, after a few games players will start to grasp the nuances of the game, and realise some of the deeper mechanics, such as counters and classes. Dota rewards its players by allowing them to experiment with their heroes and playstyles through opening up the entire hero roster to everybody. This contrasts the system imposed by League of Legends where heroes must be bought, otherwise players may only choose from a rotating weekly roster of free heroes. Obviously this opens up Dota 2 to the more curious player, and encourages players to find a class that best suits their play-style.
As a result of this level of complexity Dota 2 is constantly being updated, and new features and heroes are being added on a regular basis, each mixing up the established gameplay by bringing in new skills and abilities, and forcing players to create new strategies towards these characters. This constantly keeps players on their toes, and while these updates probably won’t be as prevalent in the final game, they are a very good feature for the time being, and they keep the game interesting and exciting, and you will feel compelled to play whenever a new update launches, just to see what is new and how it affects the game as a whole.
More on the way.
Dota 2 is set for release sometime within the year, with updates currently on hold due to the upcoming Dota 2 tournament ’The International” which is happening August 31 to September 2. Valve have stated that they wanted the game to stay the same on the lead up to the tournament, to give teams the time they need to train with the game and the characters as they are. After this we can expect only a few more updates before the game will have most of its features and be ready to release. It’s going to be an exciting couple of months and you can expect a lot of coverage of both “The International” and Dota 2 from Valid Gaming.
Are you involved in the Dota 2 beta? What have you thought so far? Are you excited by the upcoming updates? Leave a comment with your thoughts.