Defense of the Ancients. You've heard of it. Known as the father of League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth, it’s the original MOBA, the one everyone played back in the day. Of course, it only started out as a simple mod for Blizzard’s Warcraft III.
I’m going to take a few liberties here, and assume you’re all familiar with the basics of MOBAs. If not, here’s a basic guide to DotA 2, written by the prestigious Purge, a professional DotA streamer/caster.
The first thing you ought to know is that bears do NOT give a fuck.
It's so clean I can practically see my reflection in it.
“Big deal,” you say. “They have a great client, so what? Tons of games have this.”
And the first thing I’m going to tell you is to queue up for a game. Fancy a casual game with any hero you choose? Go all pick. Wanting to play like pros, with drafting and banning? Choose Captains mode. Feeling lucky? Play All Random, and have your hero randomized. New to the game? Practice against bots with other people. You enter the game, the DotA logo appearing ominously as the client loads you and your teammates into the game. And the first thing that strikes you is how pretty it looks. The detailed map, the color, the clarity.
The level of detail in all of the spells and effects in the game is astounding.
Now, we get into the gameplay. I could write a novel just about the gameplay, but I won’t, because I’m sure you wouldn't want to spend your time reading it. But as far as MOBAs go, the game is very well balanced, thanks to Icefrog, the head designer, a man shrouded in mystery and anonymity. The gameplay itself is very dynamic and fluid, exciting and diverse. However, there is a fairly large learning curve before you can really understand the game. It takes more than 10 or so games before you can really get a feel of DotA 2. But once you start, you can’t stop.
The heroes you’re able to play are incredibly diverse and well designed. They’re all very distinct visually as well as mechanically, and all have their own unique personalities, backstories, and abilities, from Ursa, a fearsome bear who does tremendous damage with each swipe, to Lich, an undead frost mage who fires blasts of ice to slow and damage enemies. They also have great voice acting and humorous lines, as well as unique lines for when they encounter other certain heroes, giving the heroes their own charm and personality as they banter with their comrades or enemies.
Holy shit, it’s Viper! http://www.dota2wiki.com/images/5/59/Gyro_ally_01.mp3
They've also got a great cosmetics system. Much like the items in Team Fortress 2, each hero comes with items they can equip, and these items can be worn as a set, or mixed and matched to match your tastes. They don’t add any advantage to the player. For the most part, these items drop randomly after games, so you can either accumulate them over time, buy item sets from the store, or purchase keys to unlock random chests containing random items.
Tell me, do I look fabulous?
Being owned by Valve is a huge boon. There are weekly balancing and bug fixing patches that constantly tinker and fine tune the game, and as a result, the game is incredibly smooth and bug free. Content is also constantly being added, from new cosmetics, to ported DotA 1 heroes, to some new voice acting for your heroes.
What else does DotA 2 have? For one, if you’re into E-sports, DotA 2 is making great headway into that area. With a new ticket system fans can buy tickets to watch tournaments in the client, it’s incredibly easy to support your favorite players and organizations. If paying isn't an option for you, then you can even watch it for free on stream. The E-sports scene for DotA 2 is also quickly growing, with multiple big tournaments going on, and at least one or two smaller ones constantly going on. There are also tons of great streamers, from professional players like Liquid.Korok or Admiralbulldog, to more educational streamers like Merlini and Purge, to goofy streamers like Singsing.
There’s also a large community which outputs lots of content and takes advantage of the steam workshop, where tons of great content is constantly being created and voting on and added to the game. In addition, an integrated guide system makes it easy to pull up a guide on how to play your hero mid game, giving easy access for new players who need guides. There are also tons of websites hosting discussions, fan-art, hero guides, balance and E-sports discussions and the like. Looking to trade items? Check out the numerous item trading websites.
DotA is a great MOBA with lots of complexity, depth, and possibilities. The community is huge, and there are tons of other things to do aside from play the game. I've sunk over 400 hours into this game, and I can see myself spending even more time playing this game in the future. From the huge range of content available to the great gameplay available before the game’s official release, I’d highly recommend you try this game, whether you’re a veteran of MOBAs, or a newcomer interested in the complexity of ARTS/MOBA games.
For more information, check out these websites and streamers:
If you’re interested in playing it, get a beta invite here.
Or, buy one here for a couple of cents:
If you want to see an average level player, check out mystream (I stream at around 4-7 PST Monday -Friday)