Let me start by saying Defense of the Ancients 2 is not a game for the faint of heart or the typical casual gamer. I grew up playing console games and always considered myself an experienced gamer, but nothing could have prepared me for the challenge that is DotA 2. I include my brief experience gaming just to give you a better understanding of my take on the game.
DotA 2 is a near exact copy of the original Defense of the Ancients. DotA began as an online battle arena mod of Warcraft 3. As you can imagine, anyone who knows enough about Warcraft 3 to design and create an entire spin off knows the game inside and out. This was a game made by dedicated gamers for other likewise dedicated gamers. Before the DotA 2 beta/testing phase became available players could, and still can, enjoy online variants with updated graphics such as League of Legends (LoL) or Heroes of Newerth (HoN). These were designed to be a bit easier to absorb for a wider gaming audience. LoL and HoN picked up on the popularity of the game but have taken off some of the competitive edge most DotA players love and crave.
The overall concept of DotA 2 is simple: there is an arena that has two bases in opposite corners and a five man team to defend each. There are three lanes to get to the opposing base and all you need to do is to destroy their Ancient (the heart of their base). The details are what make it much more difficult to reach this goal. Along these lanes are four towers, two for each team. Towers shoot any enemies within a certain radius. Creeps, small minions, spawn at each base at set intervals and march down each lane to fight the enemy. The role you get to have is Hero. There are 108 to choose from and with them you must pick and create a working team to face the other end. With so many Heroes to choose from the strategies are endless. Each Hero has at least 4 abilities which all have widely different effects and levels of usefulness. Even the terminology for the game was overwhelming at first.
As of yet there isn’t even a tutorial for anyone to use. The only way to learn by yourself is to create a game against bots or watch Pro games to glean some gems of precious knowledge. Attempting to learn by playing with the community puts you at risk for verbal abuse. The DotA 2 community is generally extremely unkind and the learning curve is high. If you thought Call of Duty players were abusive you’re going to need a good cry after a few rounds of DotA 2. This adds another facet of difficulty. It’s unlikely you’ll find someone who will be willing to teach you the basics or intermediate steps of the game and explain why each tiny movement or ability spent is crucial to victory. Ironically, the basis for doing well and winning is all about teamwork but it’s rare to find cooperative players unless you are playing with personal friends.
Despite my bloody uphill battle to learn the game, it does have a lot going for it and is worth a play. The challenge in landing a perfect kill or finally winning after 40 long minutes is rewarding and satisfying after spending hours practicing and learning. DotA 2 is still in testing but its popularity is already huge. There are professional DotA 2 players from across the world that will soon be competing in The International (tickets for the event sold out within hours). There will be sixteen five man teams from all over the world competing to be number one. The first place prize is a million dollars. These teams are sponsored by a variety of companies and are the Olympic Athletes of the PC gaming world.
I would strongly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a good challenge or knows the game already. Its release date is not yet confirmed but there are thousands of players testing it (myself included) and invites to the testing phase can be purchased and given to friends. When the game does release it will be free to play and the settings can be set to run on most computers. It will be available via the official website. So give DotA 2 a try and good luck!