Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2) ReviewBy: Zanpakutou posted at Nov 10, 2012 5:08 am
So I finally got around to playing some Dota 2 after my friends had been talking about it for several months. Dota 2 is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game more similar to Heroes of Newerth than League of Legends. It certainly has a lot of depth and complexity compared to League of Legends, which is simplified and lacks as many strategic elements. Unfortunately, you have to learn many of these mechanics as you go as there are no guides to really help you with the game.
EDIT: I will probably be redoing my League of Legends review once Season 3 starts. The changes to Twisted Treeline and the addition of All Random and The Proving Grounds has made the game quite different.
EDIT 2: It seems that Dota 2 will be getting a bunch of seasonal game modes for events. Diretide was for October and there is a new one for December. Unfortunately, I do not find this one as fun.
Something about 2 groups known as the Radiant and Dire are fighting it out for control. It does not really matter because it has no effect on the actual gameplay overall.
In terms of the overall graphics, Dota 2 actually looks fairly nice. The champions are quite detailed and their appearance can be modified by items that you obtain in game. You can buy complete sets of modifier items on their item mall or try to win them in Diretide matches. Spell effects are varied and diverse with even the minions looking very nice. However, I feel that the trees and the buildings could use a little more work. The main problem I have with the game's graphics is that even though the potential is very high, the game client is not optimized. The highest settings do not match up to the newest games yet demand an immense amount of resources in comparison.
Like most MOBA games, both sides pick their 5 respective champions before fighting it out on the battlefield. There are currently several dozen champions with about 1 added every month. There are 3 lanes where minions clash it out and your goal is to destroy the enemy base. Each side also has a jungle on their map with runes on certain parts of the map that give temporary power boosts. As you kill minions and enemy heroes, you will gain experience to level up and gold to buy items with. The longer the game goes, the more powerful each team gets. At first you might have trouble with minions, but by late game, you can probably one shot them. It is also possible for you to kill your own minions and towers to deny your enemy the rewards of it if you do it properly. As you play games, you get battle points. By collecting 1000 points, you level up, but that does not do anything yet. It says you get more items and such, but so far that has not been implemented.
The difference with DotA is that it has a few different map features. The trees in the terrain can be destroyed. It is possible to control other people's champions so you might not be screwed if it is a 4v5. Things like altitude affects your vision. These are some of the new mechanics that are not in other MOBA games. The map is definitely different from previous MOBA games and uses it to add new mechanics and different strategies.
There is also a second game mode based on the Halloween event called "Diretide". In this mode, siege minions are replaced by mini Roshan and they have a chance of dropping candy. Jungle minions also have a chance to drop candy. Candy lowers your max HP as you hold it. You have to return it to your basket. If the enemy attacks your basket, they can steal candy from you. After 10 minutes, Roshan appears and he will take turns randomly targetting people on each side. You have to feed him candy to get him away otherwise he will kill you. After 10 more minutes, whoever has more candy wins. Then, both sides are given 15k gold to build up items to fight him. By defeating him, everyone gets either a essence for their egg or an item that can be used to modify the appearance of their heroes. There is a bug with this game mode. If a game is very one sided, the game detects the players as "cheating" and denied the first reward. There is also a bug with a giant Roshan that seems to triple in size.
Compared to other MOBA games, Dota 2 actually has a much more diverse selection of champions with different types of abilities. Normally, you only have 3 types of skills. One that hits what you target, one that is fired in a general direction and you have to aim, and one that auto targets. However, in Dota 2, there are champions that have different abilities based on what you used last. Some even have the ability to summon and control additional minions. There is just a much better overall selection of champions and you are more likely to find one that is suited for your style. Unfortunately, a majority of the champions are not used much in competition. Players often stick to about 30 or so much like the other MOBA games with only a few of them being niche picks.
Dota 2 is more like Heroes of Newerth than League of Legends. Cooldown on abilities are much higher and they are much more of a deciding factor in a game. Many normal abilities have a cooldown of around 8 seconds with very few abilities having lower cooldowns. Ultimates vary greatly with some as low as 20 seconds with others going as high as 2 minutes. While heroes and abilities are that much more powerful, it also means that minions and towers are quite useless in comparison late game. A tower is fairly useless for protection late game and many heroes can dive under them and just tank it to kill you. Stuns last a very long time and it is possible for them to be chained together making it easy to kill people. All it takes is one good usage of your abilities to instantly turn a fight around. However, items are a big deciding factor due to limited use of abilities. Most your damage is from auto attacks and items simply add to auto attack damage.
I find that most match outcomes are decided by the early farming and lane phases. If one side obtains more than a small advantage, the game turns around quickly due to death penalties and the ability for you to deny your enemy last hits. Due to them missing experience and minions, it is easier for you to last hit than it is for them so you can actually last hit them at a higher HP than your enemy can allowing you to essentially shut down your enemy. Turnarounds are not as common as they should be.
My main complaint about the game is that matchmaking takes forever. On average, it takes about 3 minutes for me to find a game that is either in US East or US West. If I queue up with my friends, it takes even longer due to our level difference. Then, everyone has about 2 minutes to connect to the game. If someone fails to connect, everyone is moved back to queue and you have to do it all over again. The longest I ever had was around 15 minutes of this before I actually connected to a game. I waited for 30 minutes to start a match once simply because the rest of the team could not connect to the game.
My second complaint is that Dota 2 is a "learn as you go" sort of game. There is no proper tutorial and the best you can do is probably play against the highest difficulty of bots for practice. That will at least let you learn the game to a decent extent. However, there is no tutorial to teach you all of the more advanced mechanics. You have to learn to build each hero on your own and look at guides or figure it out through trial and error. Even though denying minions is a great part of the game, most people do not even have any idea how to do this and new players will have an even harder time trying to figure it out. The controls also made it hard for me and they felt unresponsive. I often click in one way, but a mess of minions block my path or my champion decides to turn around to run to that point. I guess that is the problem when you have different terrain heights.
Dota 2 is a nice MOBA game and probably the best of the ones that are available. The game is by far the most visually impressive of the MOBA games. In Dota 2, heroes are extremely powerful and their abilities and late game items allow them to easily just push through everything if given the chance. There are numerous strategic elements that definitely makes the game more complex and rewarding to those who learn the game mechanics, but at the same time it makes it complicated and hard for new players to enjoy. I really like the Diretide game mode where it is almost like a capture the flag game where it ends with both sides teaming up on Roshan. However, I like League of Legends more due to the lower cooldowns and them downplaying the power of their champions.
5/10 - Only 1 map, but I really like Diretide. It is a difficult game to learn if you are starting with MOBA, but there are many strategic elements that makes it complex and rewarding for those who actually learn it.
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