Reviews: Dota 2

A lumbering, archaic dinosaur in a flashy, blinged-up suit.

I finally got to play Dota 2 after several years of playing League Of Legends as well as other games like Smite. And it wasn't that hard to reach a simple conclusion about the game- it's COMPLETELY obsolete and has been utterly surpassed by other games in the MOBA genre to the point where there's simply no point in playing it instead of a better game (like, oh, League Of Legends).

Valve set out to make a warts-and-all translation of the original DotA Allstars mod to the new game engine and they did. The game's infamous community of hard-to-please fans would have screamed They Changed It Now It Sucks at even the simplest changes. But the game had a LOT of warts to be translated. Most of the changes Riot made to the MOBA formula when they made LoL were improvements and playing Dota 2 now it's staggering how big a difference they made.

The Unstable Equilibrium factor in the game is insane; a game can be basically over in less than 10 minutes with minimal chance for a comeback, but still take about 40 minutes to finish even if you're getting utterly stomped every step of the way. Regardless, Valve failed to add a surrender function, even though a losing game is a horrifically joyless experience. Balance is farcical, with heroes balanced around the concept of "if everyone is OP, no-one is". There is little to no counterplay beyond direct hard counters (almost no way to cleanse the insane amounts of CC for example). Mechanics are obsolete and clunky, control is awkward and fiddly, the shop layout is embarassing, denying really adds nothing to the game apart from an extra layer of frustration and there are far too many pointless gimmicks that have been retained just because. It's The Pennyfarthing Effect deliberately included in a supposedly modern game.

Of course, you're not allowed to have these opinions. Stating them will bring out the usual responses of "go back to your casual easymode game, scrub" or "get better, noob" from the blinkered and blinded defenders of the game who refuse to admit that "more complicated" does NOT mean "better". Comparing Dota 2 to other MOBAs, ESPECIALLY LoL, is like comparing a blinged-up version of the original Doom to Crysis- it was a good game in its time, but its time is LONG past.

A game for the thinking man.

I'll not beat around the bush. Dota 2 is a time investment. It takes a lot of practice and dedication to learn the content of its gargantuan depth. To play it and play it well, you'll need to do your research, practice the mechanics, and develop your decision-making. All in all, you'll need to be a dedicated smart cookie.

Of course, these days people don't want to be smart cookies. They want to be spoon fed. They want things to go their way without any semblance of them earning it. They want to jump in and be the best off the bat, but like any game that offers depth, this is folly.

These people, unfortunately, still play the game. Unfortunately again, you will have to play with these people; they're at the bottom, and that's where you'll start. They'll be insufferable. As you gain more game knowledge, the extent of their stupidity will only grow even more apparent.

But as they scream for the thousandth time "invisibility is fuckin' stupid OP, this game is shit" you'll be buying dust of appearance to make the unseen seen. As they scream "omg Phantom Assassin noob OP hero can't win gg" you'll be working on your blademail to turn the assassin's strength against her. As thousands of idiots whine and shriek, you'll be getting better and better and learning more and more.

And eventually you won't be at the bottom. You'll have left behind the stupid people, because you decided not to be stupid. You decided you wanted to learn how to play the game.

And it's at this point that things become clear to you. What to do, what items to buy, who to play, how to win. You'll know all these things, and as the idiots give way to others like you, everything you worked for pays off. You'll be free to immerse yourself in the tactics, the strategies and the power that comes with knowing how to play well... and Dota 2 is second to none when it comes to the breadth of options available.

But most importantly... the game is fun. You're a lord of the battlefield, and you feel as such. Nothing feels weak if you use it right, and no foe is insurmountable. Find your niche and get to splitting heads with Axe or pulling meteors out of the sky as Invoker. Just take your brain along for the ride and don't listen to the idiots. Dota 2 is a great game... the fact it's kicking around a decade onwards from it's origin is testimony for that.

As pleasant as eating razor blades.

So, I got this game as a gift on Steam. I knew very little of it aside from the very basics of the gameplay. Still, a gift's a gift so I decided to play it. The good points are that the graphics are nice, voice acting is decent, the core mechanics are all solid and there are plenty of characters to choose from and items to use.

Now with good points like those, why is my review title so negative? Well the answer is simple: Dota has the single worst community I have ever seen in a game to date. They make Call Of Duty players seem like friendly and rational human beings.

For even the smallest mistake, these people will try to rip you to shreds and curse the day you were born. They will harass you endlessly with their nasally whining. It's not exactly easy to become good at this game either, because it has a difficulty curve akin to a 90 degree angle and you have to have an understanding of EVERY single champion in the game to know how to deal with them.

It's a gruelling process to adapt to the difficulty of this game, not helped by the previously mentioned community of wankers and the fact that the game won't sort out matches based on the skill level of players. I put in 30+ hours on this and I was still having difficulty with it.

I was turned off the game entirely after being harassed by one particularly obnoxious neckbeard. No skin off my nose, I wasn't having fun at all with the game. I don't know how ANYONE could have fun with this unless they have some sort of ASBO.

The best MOBA, but not perfect

So I wrote a rather Dota fanboy-ish review on the Lo L page so I thought I'd write why I like Dota 2 here, particularly in comparison to Lo L.

First of all, the graphics are better, which is not a very big deal for me. However, they have a lot of Valve polish: for example, all the characters have unique sillhouetes and such that make it very easy to tell who's who. In Lo L I often got confused by who was who with the models because a lot of them looked samey and lacked definition. In this game, Valve went to the effort to make everyone recognizable, which is appreciated in chaotic teamfights. Also, the particles are distinctive: I can always tell which characters are casting which spells, even in a chaotic teamfight.

The characters more personality than characters in other MOB As. They aren't deep or anything, but they mock rivals and greet allies, and some of the lines are hilarious (Jakiro: "Puck, you should have had more dragon, less fairy. Not that there's anything wrong with that.")

The gameplay is very smooth. I can't really describe it, you have to play it. One of my favorite things is that all the spells have a huge effect. Fissure's sound is a huge, satisfying rumble, Sand King's ult shakes the screen, Kunkka slams a big-ass boat. It's a lot more visceral than other MOB As. And also more hard, but a lot more rewarding if you do well.

However, the game does have flaws. The community, as in all MOB As, is horrible. There's not enough communication systems, you can only ping or type things in (though the recently implemented chat wheel should fix that a bit). The shop UI is pretty bad; unlike Lo L, where you can just look up "health regen" if you want regen, in this UI items are seperated into weird trees, like "Advanced caster" or "basic stat items." It also engages in the usual MOBA "sexay" pandering shit; I can only think of two human-like women who aren't sexualized.

The game will be completely free to play once it comes out. All the heroes will be free. The only things you have to pay for are cosmetic items.

This is my favorite MOBA. Unfortunately, a lot of the things that I like about it over the others can't be expressed in writing very well. But I played Lo L for two months and prefer this a lot. Play both and pick the one you like most before blowing money.