Dota 2. First impression.. then the Second.. And now Mine..

First off, you may be wondering what the hell is this.. another Dota2 critic? HoN Lover? LoL Hater? another review? and what the hell does the header picture have to do with anything??

Believe me, those are the things I’m still wondering still while I write this but hey this isn’t why you’re here and this is definately not why I’m writing this SO!

Having finally obtained a Beta DotA 2 key I was locked and loaded and ready to go and eager to test drive this new baby game that suddenly plopped into my crappy apartment in California so lets begin! And of course… I will assume that the reason you’re reading this is because you know what DotA 2 is… you don’t? wait what??

Ok… OK no problem lets see – WHAT IS DOTA 2?

The hottie that shoots flaming balls of fire when you make her mad...

You just laid eyes on a hottie that shoots flaming balls of fire when you make her mad… but despite that this lady would definitely get 10/10 if I put it up on, and I can assure you that’s one lady you would not want to get on the wrong side of…

DotA 2 can basically be categorised as an action RTS. It has a super funky real-time strategy view and you control a super single hero like the bad asses down there . The game does have a small RPG experience as your “hero” starts from level 1 from the start and as the game progresses you become like super powerful and super attractive with lots of different items that you can make. Games usually consist of picking the best combination of Heroes as a team (matches are 5 v 5, this means 5 players against 5 players or alternatively DotA 2 has a feature where you can play by yourself against computers aka AI) so when the action starts going you’ll probably feel like you just dropped into a kiddies playground all high from eating too much candy.

We first got treated to a saliva dropping “special sneaky peaky look” at DotA 2 at the event called Gamescom in Germany which I believe is a funkytastic country and gave millions of people in Europe and trillions of people in China of people their first look at the new product Valve was investing so much in along with the highly prestigious and shady character that is IceFrog. Although not having the best of starts with maximum delays from the streams after weeks of anticipation up to the event, I did feel like It left us a good impression that DotA 2 will be a well developed game, which will after its final polish stand beside the top products in the gaming community considering just how well its predecessor DotA did.

User Interface [4/5]

Before I start lets do a quick comparison between the biggest players in this genre right now!

               Heroes Of Newerth                                 League of Legend


                              DotA                                                                  DotA                                                                                    

So what we see here is 4 interfaces for the 4 big players in this genre, at first glace you will probably realise that hey they all look similar, so why the hell couldn’t all 4 game developers just band together to make 1 c’est SUPERB game and dominate the market? Well we all have dreams don’t we?

But lets delve deeper, the interface shown above is basically the screen you will see for the duration that you play the game. On the bottom left (or you can put it on the right at your preference) is what we cal the mini-map, so you see all the little blue and red dots? That basically tells you where your allies are, where your home is, where your little minions  (called creeps) are and most importantly it lets you keep track of where your enemies are, but of course that’s if you stare at that mini map for the whole game! So in short I like to call my mini-map the map hack, if you’re aware and smart enough, you will notice when 5 big dots are missing and come to the realisation that oh wait, MAYBE… JUST MAYBE they’re coming to kill you so that you don’t end up with 99999 gold per minute!

In the middle you have essentially a little picture of how mean (or hot) you look along with the skills that come along with your chosen hero (every hero has different skills), your health/mana (why does word correction have MAMA instead? LOL)  bar and the usual canoodle.

Then you have the bottom right which is where you spend the other half of your time in the game doing, this little box of 6 available slots is where you purchase items, now take a moment and think – so you have 1 mean and hot looking hero that has some world destroying abilities, what better than to be able to give you a better option of earning gold (by killing heroes, enemy creeps, towers) and spending that gold on buying yourself items that turns your world destroying hero into a UNIVERSE DESTROYING HERO!?

Sounds attractive and your cup of coffee? Fantastic! Now lets look even deeper – personally as a former HoN player I felt that the so called “new and improved” interface on DotA 2 was a massive improvement compared to it’s former game, it looks better, it runs smoother and hell it doesn’t feel like I’m playing a game so ancient that my grandpa’s computer from 1984 can run at a 100 fps (if you don’t know what that means you should stop reading here as I will be getting very technical now!).

Personally I would have preferred if the interface was more user friendly and showed more information about your allies such as their abilities cool downs, this not only helps with the flow of the game but it also helps to influence your actions as you can coordinate small scale wars with your allies, and if League of Legends is anything to go by, small things like this help to attract and persuade more noob friendly players to stay but other than that I have no qualms about the rest of the interface.

Gameplay [5/5]

When DotA 2 was first announced there was a lot of speculations that were made about the game-play. However as promised by Valve and IceFrog the gameplay is more or less the same to the original DotA as planned. Almost all heroes were imported from the old DotA with many more in the works as the beta continues. While it is true that the gameplay remains the same, the problem I have with DotA 2 is that the creeps are GIGANTIC… I mean what the hell, I have trouble distinguishing the difference between a Hero and a Creep, that’s just DUMB… Why make a game that has a steep learning curve even more difficult? This is one aspect I would love to see changed although having said that, it’s really not that big of a deal I just like to play an easy game :).

Graphics [4/5]

Many say this is a LoL clone, I say this – Its DotA. Those who complain, moan, whine, cry, and rage at the graphics is either:

  1. Silly
  2. High
  3. Plays far too much HoNThis game is exactly what Counter-strike Source should have been for Counter-Strike 1.6. Just an upgraded version with better graphics and features. DotA 2 has gives its players a very  unique experience. The Battles are well detailed, the game engine is magnificent which all sums up to a better gameplay experience. The overall design goes with the eerie and dark atmosphere that DotA represents and really gives me the impression that somewhere out there… A universe of crazy ass heroes are just battling it out.

As a Beta game still there might not be as many animations and attractive boom boom explosions but DotA 2 gives you a clean, crisp look at detailed animations to tease us into knowing that there’s more to come. With this, comes to mind that team battles are much less confusing and you can tell that Valve has really put great thought and effort in attention to detail compared to DotA where team battles felt like the food I make when i’m cooking my dinner and throw every single meat, vegetable, sauce and rice into a pot and hope something good comes out of it.

There are also many little quirks about the game still such as the problem of issuing commands from shortcut binds, there is a slight delay and sometimes huge frustration when you want to use the item you spent 20 minutes farming at a key moment to not be used at all because the game engine delays your action by 2 seconds, and no this is not the servers that you play on. However I will assume that this problem will be fixed when it comes out of beta so I can comfortably give this area a nice shiny score.

Sounds/Music [10/5]


Shop Menu [2/5]

OK this is one of the areas where I feel like I just threw myself into the dumpster every time I had to press ‘B’ or click on the Shop menu. No seriously, I am physically sick at the thought of having to have to pull up an instruction manual when navigating through the shop and while I can understand the reasoning behind the noob friendly menu system, I just completely find it unfathomable that such a travesty could occur on this game.

The shop is basically split into 2 categories, basic and upgraded items, and the idea behind it is that it helps steepen the learning curve except for me I found the menu to be even more complicated and long gone are the days you can just have all the menus categorised into it’s simple view back in DotA and HoN. Its clunky, hard to navigate, and hard to buy the actual things you need and more often times than not you will find yourself clicking on the same item several times before realising you actually need to make the components you need to make that item in the first place. Long story short, MAKE. IT. SIMPLE.

Conclusion – A Solid 4.5/5

Quite simply games will either blow your mind, or… really… just blow your mind. It goes both ways, in this case, it is more of a “I can blow your mind, but I just don’t feel like it, and maybe if I felt like it then I will” so we will have to see, at this stage in time all I can say I come up with is that this game definitely has the potential and with big names such as Valve and Icefrog, I really cannot see it going wrong when its finished, but so far? I’m impressed.