Dota 2’s been out (closed to open beta) a while now. I think it’s about time I shed some light on how it’s treated me. The predominant factor is the shift from the Warcraft III custom game editor engine to an engine designed specifically for the game. For nostalgia fans, this might be too dramatic a shift. The visuals are completely redone (characters, items, enemies, and areas), along with the user interface, and all sounds.

Initial complaint: The recent addition to DotA 2’s character selection UI was more for flash than for function, but like all changes, it can be adapted to. Using a sliding “hero card” menu, you can categorize heroes by roles, levels of difficulty, or primary attribute. You can also search for your hero’s name, or press the control key to swap back to the typical “all heroes, one screen” selection menu. A slightly annoying change for people who don’t need help choosing who they want to play, but easily overcome.

The basis of DotA is deceptively simple. By team:

  • Three lanes. The map is a square; mid is the shortest.
  • Three turrets per lane per team.
  • Two barracks behind the third turret of each lane.
  • Two turrets defending the Ancient.
  • The Ancient itself.
  • Many chaff buildings for creep distraction and gold gain.

Defense of the Ancients 2

The endgame is destroying your enemy’s Ancient, but as your enemy team will have just as many heroes as you (probably), it’s best to come up with a strategy better than pushing one lane until the end. Perhaps a word on heroes is due.

There are three types of heroes, Strength, Intelligence, and Agility, each of which has a general sort of specialty. Strength heroes tend to be durable, heavy hitters with abilities meant to keep their opponent within striking range. Agility heroes are widely regarded as the auto-attackers, as Agility in itself increases attack speed. Intelligence typically falls to support and nukers, focusing on mana regeneration and spellcasting as opposed to basic right click attacks.

The variety of your heroes is particularly important. If you have too many low-HP spellcasters, a hard-hitting defensive enemy will tear your team apart. If you have too many tanky, defensive heroes, your team will lack any real damage output. Same case with too many supports. There are a wide variety of roles to be assumed, and simply having a broad selection of these should make your team more adaptive to scenarios put into play by your enemies.

Defense of the Ancients 2

It should be noted that there are exceptions all across the board, and that DotA isn’t a game that you can just pick up and play. It takes a little finesse and experience to figure this bad boy out, primarily because of the drastic differences between characters, and the myriad items that you can build to improve your character and subsequently your chances of winning.

However, unlike DotA the first, in which even the easiest bots could take you down without breaking a sweat, DotA 2 offers a wider variety of difficulties with notable differences between them. It even scales all the way down to passive, where bots will only attempt to auto-attack. Much more user friendly.

For now, DotA 2 remains in closed beta, meaning keys will be given to those who complete a survey on the DotA 2 website. You’re likely to get one, at least. It’s free and probably going to remain free (inevitable visual cash shop aside), so it won’t be a waste of your time to try it out. I played DotA the first, and I enjoy this installment regularly.

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