Valve is probably the biggest troll when it comes to gaming. I say that in the most loving way possible, as they have always released a plethora of amazing games, yet kept Half-Life Episode 3 hidden away for the past few years. Is the game even happening? Hopefully. In the meantime however, if you’re a an action RTS
addict fan like myself, you are no doubt excited about Dota 2, which we know is confirmed and being developed by the giant gaming company we all love.
Perhaps you never knew, but it is possible to buy into the Dota 2 beta. For $29.99, you get full access to the game, as well as a full set of exclusive items (which I’ll discuss later on) for three of the in game heroes. This may be a cheap form of cashing in on Valves part, as this game will be free to play when it is eventually released. That and the items you get with the game will probably be worth very little as many other people have bought into the beta too. Regardless, I couldn’t wait to have Valve take my money.
So what can you expect from this franchise? I have next to no experience when it comes to the original Warcraft 3 mod. The only yardstick I have is that of Heroes of Newerth (HoN), which I have spent an ashamedly large percentage of my life playing.
Like any other game from Valve, you are required to play through steam. This makes things simple when it comes to inviting friends and making a party to participate in a game. Due to the fact that the game is still in beta, matchmaking can take anywhere from 3-10 minutes. This long wait time should decrease as more people get the game and when it is officially launched.
There are currently a whopping 86 heroes available, with more being released nearly every week. If you played the original, you will no doubt recognize your favourites with ease. If you’re a complete beginner, choosing and learning what each hero is capable of may be a little overwhelming at first, but there is a convenient “learn” tab in the main menu, which lets you read what each hero does, as well as has a short series of videos demonstrating their abilities.
A big gripe for many beginners is the complexity of purchasing items and what recipes go with which. This has all been remedied with an easy to use shop. Each hero has a recommended build that any anybody can follow. If you wish you alternate a little, you can either navigate through the relevant tabs, or simply search for an item by name in the quick search bar.
What is easily one of the best additions to the game, is a rating system that each hero gets which identifies the roles they best suit. For example, a hero can be classified as a carry, pusher, support, etc. Within each role, a possible 3 star rating is assigned, so you can see just how effective that hero is in that role. It is also possible to play a game with bots, a far better way to learn the basics of a hero as opposed to just reading what they can do, or being stuck in a game with possible elitists who have no room for error.
Valves other hugely popular franchise, Team Fortress 2, has a unique item feature in which you can customise your class with items you find within the game by chance. I know people who have gone to extraordinary lengths just to get a particular item that they really want. Dota 2 has a similar feature, in that after each game some people are rewarded with items with different rarities, such as common and mythical.
A hero can have a variety of items, ranging from different helmets and weapons, all the way to different animations for that specified hero. Although only a select amount of heroes currently have drops available, when the game launches there is potential for 86+ heroes to have unique items to themselves, and there will be dozens upon dozens as the game ages. Trading will be high, and bargaining will be the order of the day.
What’s nice is that although you can purchase set items through the Dota store, Valve haven’t held back on the sort of items you can find. I myself have stumbled upon a highly valued mythical weapon for Axe. A friend of mine has found a mythical courier as well as many other uncommon drops. If you’re the impatient kind then you can just whip out your credit card and purchase whatever item it is you want. With patience, you are likely to stumble upon a good item which can then be traded.
A fantastic feature to the game is the interactions that the heroes have for each other in game. A whole lot of lore goes with each hero (which can be read in the main menu). For example, you would read that Kunkka is the nemesis of Tide Hunter. Upon one killing the other in a game, a taunt dialogue can be heard. I haven’t been able to establish if each and every single hero has a taunt or comment for every other 85 heroes, but I have been surprised and often laughed at some of the comments that are passed in the heat of the action.
The above may all be good and well, but how does the game itself actually play? The graphics are not mind blowing, but that isn’t the point of this sort of game. The visuals fit the genre and its easy to keep track of whats going on (once you know what each hero does). What truly matters is balance and tight gameplay.
The heroes all feel balanced and their attack animations are fast and fluid (bar one or two in the early game; like Lina and Drow Ranger). Every action can help determine if your team is victorious or not. That being said, I experienced a lot of games that went incredibly well, and had me craving for another straight after victory. Then you get the typical games where nothing seems to go right, and make you want to run into the street and kick random cars out the way. Regardless, the game is addictive as ever, and will have you clicking away for longer than Diablo 3 most likely. Even though it’s still in open beta, Dota 2 really feels like it is a finished product. I have only encountered 1 or 2 glitches in my time with it, but they were merely aesthetic and not game breaking.
I’m happy to report that during my experience, the Dota 2 community generally seem better mannered compared to the HoN version. Although you are still likely to encounter some gamer that has anger issues, more often than not I have come across friendly people most of the time. This is helped along with a commendation and reporting system. Like somebody you had on your team? Commend them. Have some douche bag who is yelling at you in Russian for no reason all the time? Report him. It’s easy and simple, and can be done in game while you wait to respawn for example. The commendations don’t really serve any purpose as far as I know, but they remind me a lot of likes received on Facebook; nice to have, but nobody other than yourself really gives a rats ass about them.
If you have ever considered yourself a Dota fan, then I have no doubt that you eagerly await this title. If for some reason you are not looking forward to it, then I am 400% certain that this Dota 2 Top 10 Weekly video from DotaCinema will have you salivating a little. If you’ve never tried Dota but have an insatiable curiosity to try it out, there is no better time than when Dota 2 officially launches. Either way, you are more than likely to get hooked 😉
Last Updated: July 19, 2012