For many people, their first experience with a multiplayer online battle arena-style game has been League of Legends. The game has become increasingly popular since its initial release, exposing thousands of new players to a new kind of competitive gaming experience. Valve's upcoming DOTA 2 (along with Blizzard DOTA) reaffirms the genre's popularity, but to its fans, League of Legends represents the standard by which these games will ultimately be judged.
We asked an avid League of Legends player--who asked to remain anonymous--to give his initial impressions of what it's like to go from LOL into DOTA 2, having never previously played the latter. Here's what he had to say:
On the DOTA 2 Roster:
As a newcomer, I will say that the list was not as daunting as League of Legends from a number standpoint, but how things were laid out--strength, agility, and intelligence--was daunting. In DOTA 2's current state, you have to come to it with preexisting knowledge of what these champs are or what they can do as opposed to LOL, which sorts characters by classes like tank, mage, and melee. Numbers-wise, it wasn't scary, but in terms of abilities, it was a little confusing.
My main character in LOL is Ashe, who is essentially Drow Ranger in DOTA, but even though they look the same, they actually play quite differently. I didn't spend a ton of time in the original DOTA, but I did see a lot of characters that were recognizable, so that's who I gravitated toward.
I like LOL's roster better. They have more character, for lack of a better way to say it, though I'm not saying in terms of skills, but rather how they look. There are a few that are kind of cookie cutter, but for the most part they have a lot of style. I think my view on that is a little biased since I've played so much more LOL, but the character design wouldn't stop me from playing DOTA 2 on and off at this point with friends.
On Character Skills:
Auto-casting abilities are definitely going to be different, or otherwise they would be ripping off LOL characters. But auto-casting was infuriating to me, and since there was no real documentation or videos, it took me a while to find it. One of Ashe and Drow's skills is a frost arrow. The frost arrow in LOL is turned on by hitting Q, and in DOTA 2 it's also Q, but in LOL when you hit Q once, the frost arrow starts and then stops when you hit it again--if you burn through your mana, too bad.
Apparently, in DOTA 2, hitting Q for my frost arrow only queued up one arrow, and it wasn't until I found an option in the settings that I learned I had to right click on the skill to get it to auto-cast and then right click it turn it off. Well, it turns out that pressing ALT and Q does the auto-cast. It's a pain in the butt, and I prefer LOL's way of handling it.
On What It's Like to Learn a DOTA 2 Character:
At this point I would say DOTA 2 [is a little harder], but it's not because of bad character design. Given that LOL has been around a while and Riot already has the infrastructure in place, you get videos called "champion spotlights" that essentially show you how a character plays. It also gives you suggestions on how you can implement your own build.
I would say DOTA 2 [is a little harder], but it's not because of bad character design.If DOTA 2 had that built into its UI the way Riot is starting to with LOL, it would be great and would take away from the "scariness" of using someone you don't know how to use, burning 30 to 40 minutes of your entire team's time because you are terrible. I wanted to try new characters, but had no idea how to use them, and the "learn" area just talked about skills but didn't give in-depth views, but again, LOL is a much more refined and older product at this point.
On DOTA 2's Maps and Their Structure:
DOTA 2 is much darker than LOL and the original DOTA even though I know both maps (they're essentially the same--although DOTA 2's map is closer to DOTA). It felt a little tougher navigating in DOTA 2 because of the look of the trees, if that makes sense--there were times I could squeeze through an area, but it looked like it was blocked off.
The "backdoor" opening right after the first tower is much closer to the middle of the lane than it is to the second tower in DOTA 2. It allows for more coordinated ganks that didn't have tower backup. Still, I could see new players getting irritated by ganks in that space because it takes a while to get that tower backup mentality into your head. DOTA 2's destructible map (with destruction of trees and whatnot) is interesting.
On Strategy in DOTA 2:
Last-hits; ganks; pushing towers; knowing when to pull back to yours--all of that's the same in LOL and DOTA 2. However, denying is something that I hate about DOTA 2. In one game, I was pitted against a burst mage and sniper. I was Drow and I kept getting denied on my last hit because the sniper has more range and he was doing it all day. I'd try to get close enough to get a lick in, and the mage would kick me in the face. If I had a premade team, I could have gotten around it by asking for a gank and keeping them honest, but randoms tend to do what they're going to do.
Denying is a big mechanic that LOL players who have never played DOTA would have to deal with. The other thing, and this might have been more character related than anything else, is that the game feels a bit more sluggish in terms of controls. I can last hit very well with Ashe, but Drow almost had visible lag when I'd press attack and when she'd let her arrow fly. It could have been related to animation time, but I wasn't looking that closely. Also, the viewpoint is far more locked in and tighter in DOTA 2 than the LOL viewpoint.
On What DOTA 2 Does Better:
The replay channel is seriously awesome. Valve has built replays and spectating into the game in a way that Riot must wish they were doing or could do. I think the user rating is much better as well since you can grade someone in different categories. I think that's really valuable, and I wonder if they will end up parlaying that into their matchmaking. In terms of communication, text is as good as LOL is, so I can't ding it there, but they really need to rework their voice codec. I don't understand how something like Mumble, which is free and on SourceForge, sounds so much better than everything else that is out there.