December 28, 2011

Thoughts from the Dota 2 Beta

Hel­lo, every­one. It’s been a good while since my last post­ing. Again, same old excus­es- social life, col­lege finals, manda­to­ry hol­i­day fam­i­ly time, and all of that good stuff. How­ev­er, I’ve def­i­nite­ly not let my gam­ing slip. Far from it- I got the invite I had been pray­ing for, and have spent the last week or so enthralled with Dota 2. While I’m def­i­nite­ly not expe­ri­enced enough to put out a full review yet (not even con­sid­er­ing the fact that the game is still tech­ni­cal­ly in beta), I can sure­ly pro­vide some per­spec­tive for those of you wait­ing who haven’t received invites yet.
Dota 2 is, unsur­pris­ing­ly, an incred­i­bly good and chal­leng­ing tac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence. It takes some dri­ve and desire to play, how­ev­er; for new­com­ers, DotA has always been more of a learn­ing cliff than a learn­ing curve. Dota 2 eas­es much of the pain that was caused by the lim­i­ta­tions of the orig­i­nal DotA with­out chang­ing the game too ter­ri­bly much at all. The graph­ics are excel­lent, and it’s far eas­i­er to dis­tin­guish between heroes and creeps (a com­mon novice com­plaint from the orig­i­nal) than it was pre­vi­ous­ly. All of your abil­i­ties fol­low the new “indus­try stan­dard” set­up of QWER, rather than the pre­vi­ous War­craft 3 sys­tem of “some ran­dom let­ter from the spell name”. The shops are amaz­ing­ly improved, stream­lined, and user-friend­ly (thank God, because DotA’s shop sys­tem left a LOT to be desired), and you can buy items into your stash from any­where on the map with just a few sim­ple clicks.
Rest assured, though, the chal­lenge is not gone. Last-hit­ting and deny­ing with most cast­ers requires impec­ca­ble tim­ing because they wind up their shots like a Looney Tunes char­ac­ter play­ing base­ball, and ani­ma­tion can­celling is an absolute must for chas­ing. Quar­ter-sec­ond reac­tions can decide entire team­fights, which in turn can decide entire games. If you don’t know what you’re doing (and unless you played DotA a LOT, you don’t), you will die at any giv­en oppor­tu­ni­ty until you get the basics down. Play­ing LoL does NOT trans­late into Dota 2 skill AT ALL.
I’ll speak to the LoL play­ers specif­i­cal­ly for a moment. In Dota 2, you don’t get your con­ve­nient cast range cir­cles, skill­shot mark­ers, or any of that good stuff. With the excep­tion of AOE spells, every­thing is tar­get­ed with a sim­ple cur­sor, and you have to know how your spells work. Last hit­ting is WAY hard­er due to the afore­men­tioned ani­ma­tions, and deny­ing is a thing. A cou­ple of spells can kill you even at lev­el one, and every­thing (except the lan­ing phase) moves a whole lot faster. Your health and mana are great­ly reduced, so every shot counts. Tur­rets can’t save you. Flash can’t save you. God can’t save you, because he’s Zeus, he’s on the ene­my team, and he’s going to kill you with his instant Karthus-like ult from across the map when you thought you got away. Play­ing Dota 2 will make you quite para­noid if you’re used to LoL. Learn the dif­fer­ence quick­ly.
How­ev­er, even with its stag­ger­ing chal­lenge lev­el and excel­lent user inter­face, Dota 2 is still in beta and as such, there are a few faults. The lack of an obvi­ous “invite to game” or “join game” option makes find­ing games an inter­est­ing task. Match­mak­ing search times range from the fair­ly instan­ta­neous to the unbe­liev­ably slow. Yes­ter­day I wait­ed a full fif­teen min­utes in game search before giv­ing up and play­ing with bots. On that note, the bot games are often­times more chal­leng­ing than play­ing against real peo­ple; the ene­my team is a tac­ti­cal hive­mind, and yours some­times has trou­ble acknowl­edg­ing your exis­tence. To the bots on your own team, you’re the bab­bling, unpre­dictable for­eign­er who’s off doing your own thing and ignor­ing com­mands. They gank seem­ing­ly arbi­trar­i­ly, and you have no real way of request­ing assis­tance oth­er than div­ing head­long in and pray­ing that they fol­low you (which is typ­i­cal­ly NOT a good strat­e­gy in Dota). Oth­er than these incon­ve­niences, every­thing seems to work fine. The game hic­cups and lags dur­ing game start and char­ac­ter selec­tion (which makes the sounds hang up and repeat to form a slam­min’ three-sec­ond tech­no beat), but this real­ly has no effect on the over­all game.
There ARE many things that Valve has got­ten very right with this game, though. The spec­ta­tor fea­ture is INCREDIBLY help­ful, as you can watch the pros (or your friends, or just ran­dom peo­ple) play and view their actions right down to each indi­vid­ual click of their mouse. This works pret­ty much flaw­less­ly, and is easy to jump into. Watch­ing a num­ber of oth­er peo­ple play a cer­tain hero is an amaz­ing way to learn, and you don’t have to wor­ry about bias, track­ing down VODs, or patch­es mak­ing metas out­dat­ed: you see every­thing in real time, and you get the kind of vari­ety you don’t find in online text guides. Doing just about any­thing I’ve not already men­tioned is pret­ty easy, because the menu con­struc­tion is incred­i­bly intu­itive. You’ll rarely hav­ing trou­ble look­ing for an imple­ment­ed fea­ture.
That’s about all I have to say right now, as I still tech­ni­cal­ly qual­i­fy as a “noob”. I’ll be sure to post back more fre­quent­ly with details on the beta and the com­pet­i­tive scene, and I look for­ward to doing an offi­cial review upon the game’s release. Until then, keep enjoy­ing your games, and remem­ber: ALWAYS have a Scroll of Town Por­tal handy.


  1. SuperEliteGames - December 29, 2011 7:56 pm

    I’ve been mean­ing to try out Dota 2.
    Thanks for the info! Def­i­nite­ly going to try it now.

  2. reppindawhalers - January 6, 2012 1:38 pm

    hey gamers if you like gam­ing then you should check out this

  3. reppindawhalers - January 6, 2012 1:41 pm

    and if you real­ly take your gam­ing seri­ous­ly and would like to get paid stacks this might be for you


Reply to AnonymousCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Archives - Powered by WordPress - A theme by