Published on August 1st, 2013 | by APant10
Dota 2 Review
After two years in open beta, Valve’s newest game has finally been given a full and proper release. In these two long years, the game has gone through a ton of balances, tweaks, and improvements, but it’s still one of the toughest games to get into with a learning curve like a glacial wall. If you’re willing to invest the time and brainpower to learn the ropes, it’s one of the most satisfying games out there.
The game started its life as a mod for Warcraft III called “Defense Of The Ancients.” Valve later hired the creator of the mod to work on their own take on the game, which they quite simply called Dota 2. League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth follow a very similar pattern and fall into a subgenre of video games called MOBAs (short for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena).
Each game is played on an overhead map, a lot like an RTS game. The map is carved into three lanes that minions called creeps run down to fight automatically. Each lane has several “towers” that act as automated turrets, blasting enemies that get too close. The players consist of two teams of “hero” units, five per side and much stronger than the creeps. Heroes usually have a basic attack and four skills, magic spells, or other combat maneuvers. The goal is to sway the tide of battle using only your hero and destroy the enemy base.
What sets Dota 2 apart is that thick layer of Valve charm that gets spread over every corner of the experience. There’s a ton of info, but it’s crammed into smooth menus that are easy to navigate. There are plenty of options for spectating matches and watching live tournaments. Every character has a deep back story and fantastic voice acting. More than once I’ve found myself cracking up at incidental dialogue and general chatter between heroes
The real problem for newcomers is the fact that there’s about one million other systems stacked on top of that. You have to worry about mana, and skill cooldown, and leveling up, and the abilities of the other heroes, and buying items, and neutral creeps, and everything else. Since the game is so heavily team-based, one bad player can ruin a match even for a great team. Valve recently added tutorial quests that explain these mechanics pretty well, so it’s not too hard to jump in, but nothing beats having a friend to guide you through.
The game is free to play, and like Valve’s other free title, Team Fortress 2, you can have a blast and enjoy the game for hundreds of hours without spending a single cent. The in-game store features items to trick out your character and make them look cool, but they won’t affect the gameplay in any way. You can even find cosmetic items after matches randomly and trade with other players, so you don’t even need to shell out to dress up.
Dota 2 is available now on Steam for free for PC, with Mac and Linux versions currently being tested.