Play
Please use a flash video capable browser to watch videos.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Review

Dota 2 Review

  • Game release: July 9, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Dota 2 is complicated, exhausting, and sometimes cruel, but its many complexities form an incredibly satisfying and exciting multiplayer game.

by

Dota 2 is hard, but there's a huge reward for those who commit. On the surface, the game is a like-for-like reproduction of the genre-creating (and still updated) Defense of the Ancients modification for Warcraft III, now transferred into Valve's Source engine. The game's punishing design is sometimes enough to drive you up the wall, but it's worth sticking the hours in: success in Dota 2 is about learning to effectively juggle both the broad strokes and finer details.

If you're not aware of the basics of the burgeoning MOBA genre, two teams of five players spawn on corners of a map. Each team needs to work together with the goal of ultimately destroying a central structure--in Dota 2's case, the Ancient--in the opposing team's base. With most games lasting around the 40-minute mark, and occasionally edging past an hour, watching the enemy fortress dramatically crumble and sink to the ground feels like an exhilarating payoff.

Aiding these two teams, named the Radiant and the Dire, are waves of AI assistants, called creeps. Batches of creeps spawn at 30-second intervals and charge merrily up the map's three pathways. In the clumps of remaining land lies a jungle, where numerous AI opponents spawn, offering lucrative benefits to players who take them on successfully. Finally, and in a bid to stop both teams from simply marching into one another's base, each team gets three powerful towers on each lane that easily shred through enemy players at the start of the game.

Your individual ability to control and affect the rhythm of the game comes from how well you handle your hero. You mostly control a single unit in Dota 2, though there are exceptions: some heroes can summon controllable allies, such as bears, gargoyle babies, or wolves; one exceptionally versatile hero can split into three; and one item lets you take control of certain creeps. For each rule in Dota 2's impressive house-of-cards design, there's usually at least one character who completely ignores it, or finds a way around it via one of 130-odd items available from the in-match shop. For instance, try negating magic attacks with the black king bar, returning damage with the blade mail, or pounding out two ultimate abilities in quick succession with a refresher orb.

Watching the enemy ancient collapse is incredibly satisfying.

The aim for most players is to accumulate as much gold and experience as possible, with income being delivered mostly by scoring the killing blow on enemy creeps and players. It's almost always easier to gang up on stray enemies as a group, which is why it's rarely a good idea to run about on your own. Then it's a case of splashing all your hard-earned money on some ultra-powerful items from the shop, while levelling up your base stats and abilities, and then clobbering the enemy team into submission via a few five-versus-five team fights. Rarely does it feel that simple, however.

At the time of writing, 102 of the original Dota's 112 heroes have made their way into the sequel. Each hero has a handful of unique abilities and generally works best in a specific role, such as supporting other players as Omniknight, roaming around the map looking for opportunistic kills as Spirit Breaker, or evolving throughout the course of the game into an all-powerful vehicle of carnage and destruction as Phantom Assassin.

There's only one map, unlike in many other MOBA titles, although Valve has not ruled out the addition of more over time, and has previously offered game-changing modes with seasonal events at Halloween and Christmas. But Dota 2's single sprawling map sets itself apart from the competition by being larger, more intricate, and packed with greater detail than the rest of the genre. Unlike in League of Legends, the jungle area is riddled with far more tangling pathways, the lanes feature additional shops selling exclusive items, and savvy players are given more opportunities to use the environment to hide, flee, and ambush their opponents.

There are multiple layers of additional information that become increasingly relevant as you invest more time in the game. How do you effectively divide your forces? When should your team attempt to vanquish Roshan, the map's most powerful creep? What are runes? What's the significance of the fact that creeps get slightly stronger every seven and a half minutes?

Dota 2's client also allows you to watch eSports matches.

Often the game's dizzying scale is seen as off-putting or simply too complex, but the truth of Dota is that it can be entertaining as a new player to just sit down and let all those extraneous factors play out around you. Getting down to the brass tacks of the game with a group of like-minded friends is a lot of fun: start by buying your characters' recommended items, try your best not to get caught out of position, and get into the habit of buying observer wards. And watch out for Riki.

As you'd expect from Valve, this is a beautifully presented game, with the Half-Life and Portal maker running victory laps around its competition in terms of UI, voice acting, and showing how to deftly add real personality to its characters. Only recently has the developer turned its attention to gently easing new players into the proceedings, however, and even now, mastering the basics feels like learning to swim by jumping in at the deep end. Efforts are being made to remedy this, though: right now there are a couple of tutorial levels, some well-designed AI bots, and a newbie playlist that restricts hero selection to just 20 of the most frequently picked characters. And with community-created hero guides now built directly into the game itself, Dota 2 is much easier to get started with than it has been in the past.

Play a match every evening for a couple of weeks, and you start to see how Dota 2's wealth of disparate systems and mechanics combine into their own harmony, and you begin to understand how there are hundreds of elements that affect the game. Dota 2 is a tense war of accumulation and attrition. The biggest problem, which is coincidentally where the real excitement of the game lies, comes from struggling to process and interpret dozens upon dozens of mitigating circumstances while simultaneously trying to keep your cool.

It is a complicated and exhausting game, and for the first few weeks, it's challenging just keeping up with the general rhythm of a match. But invest enough time into Dota 2, and you develop an almost unconscious ability to keep up with the game--performing actions such as sending the slightly fiddly in-game courier over to the faraway "secret" shop to get some rare items, for instance. After a couple of hundred hours of Dota 2, what once felt like spinning plates just happens automatically.

Late-night Skype calls, drawn-out conversations down at the pub, and lost lunch breaks follow. Very few games can withstand so many emotionally charged discussions. When everything goes south, the psychological toll can be surprisingly intense, and this is very much a game with the power to both start and end close friendships. Dota 2 is an overwhelming, intoxicating, and emotionally dangerous game that can quite easily take over your entire gaming life.

While Dota 2 has transferred the core of the original Dota into a cleaner, modern engine, the fact remains that losing is uniquely painful. Death in Dota 2 not only gives your opponent money, but robs you of some of your own and leaves you waiting up to a minute to respawn. By the time you've trudged back across the game's massive map--or spent money on a teleportation scroll--your opponent is now stronger and richer. Die two or three times in quick succession, which is easily done, and a match of Dota becomes a painful experience where you spend the next half hour getting bullied by an increasingly superior enemy. Other games in the genre have tried to mitigate this punishment, but Dota 2 positively revels in its complexities. The rich just get richer.

Any opportunity to safely accrue gold and experience should be taken.

Occasionally there are big, beautiful reversals that turn into plucky underdog stories to be shared on forums and between friends, but for the most part, a team that starves its opposition of money and experience wins the game. Dota 2 ups the ante even further by featuring the concept of denying--one of its most divisive features, and one of the chief distinctions between Dota 2 and Riot's League of Legends--which is when you purposefully kill off your own creeps, allies, and structures so that the enemy team doesn't get the experience or gold.

A tense game is always going to be exhilarating, of course, though the game's matchmaking system often feels like a weak link. The gargantuan task of bucketing groups of players into balanced matches in a game that requires both individual and group skills is understandably challenging, but too many matches feel a bit lopsided--either an effortless stomp or a painfully inevitable defeat. Hopefully the influx of new blood over the coming months will help smooth out these bumps.

Valve has poured considerable effort into building Dota 2's powerful client, however, and this impressive platform can sometimes help take the sting out of defeat. This is a free-to-play game, but it's one which sets itself apart by being an unquestionably fair one: every hero is immediately available to all players, unlike in League of Legends, and real-money purchases of weapons, hats, and armour are purely cosmetic. Following Team Fortress 2's lead, the game also regularly drops tempting crates that can be unlocked with keys costing a couple of bucks. At the end of each game, players are subjected to a showering of random loot drops, and it's easily possible to notch up hundreds of items just by playing normally for six months.

Knowing when to push your advantage is crucial to success.

Dota 2's extensive customisation offers new taunts, announcers (Half-Life 2's Dr Kleiner is a particular highlight), and HUD skins, with many of these items created and voted into the game by the community. Passes to watch pro matches live from the in-game client can also be purchased, and Dota 2's suite of options to spectate matches (with incorporated commentary) are undoubtedly the envy of every other MOBA developer on the planet. This is a free-to-play game that feels generous, with profits being dished out to item creators and the eSports teams, and Valve is already in the habit of running seasonal events that award you with heaps of new items.

The original Dota was an unexpectedly powerful blend of clashing genres and disparate elements that ended up taking over the world, and Valve's successor retains the original rules and characters while adding in a cheery free-to-play model and slick production values. The experience of playing Dota changes day by day--some evenings will be exhilarating, while others will kick your morale to the curb--but there are few games as worthy of your time investment as this. Those who choose to commit to Dota 2 will find many happy hours within this immaculate update.

The Good
Deep and rewarding team action
Matches are incredibly exciting and unpredictable
Fair free-to-play business model
Brimming with style and personality
Intricate map offers a wealth of strategic possibilities
The Bad
Will take over your life
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Martin Gaston has absolutely never at all had the song from Beauty and the Beast sung to him at any point during his life, ever.

Discussion

1210 comments
vadagar1
vadagar1

if u hate difficulty, team play, and using ur brain, and the occasional Ahole players this game IS NOT FOR U

vadagar1
vadagar1

2000 hours of dota :<


HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

WillyWynn
WillyWynn

This is far away the best moba around! Dota 2 is the best one, i used to play LoL and after i start play dota 2 i never played LoL again. Valve did a great job with the game,of course its valve what you expect! Dota 2 is the best Moba and one of the Free to play games from the market. The only money you spend is only cosmetic! The people who says LOL is better probably they played like 2 3 matchs of dota 2 or never player and are just haters, because dota 2 is much better then LoL... For dont say dota 1 was the first moba of this type and LoL is made by the people who made dota 1!!! Thats why the game is so smiliar to each other. 

joanxtb
joanxtb

True, my life-time no loger belongs to me.... it belongs to Dota.! 

GuillermoX
GuillermoX

Ok I'm really curious, I played Dota 2 a while back and it was basically a harsher death penalties version of LoL with (opinion here don't freak out) kinda ugly graphics and interface.  Reading this review it sounds like they are even closer to the same game than I thought.  The graphics and interface have been cleaned up a bit but still aren't anything special.  So what does this game have that LoL doesn't?  From the facts all I can find is that league has more modes, more characters, and more players.  So why is it inferior?

vickyvk86
vickyvk86

one of my fav game.. but some of the systems should be changed and i also get e pin for this game from Gamemela   .... google it.. any players can alos buy e pin through online .. 

PowerDingALing
PowerDingALing

Unbelievable some people still play this kind of game. I've used to play games like this 10, 15 years ago. These people reminds me of my mother, playing Solitaire year after year after year after year...

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

I love this game soo much. the only thing i hate is the report system. people gang up on you for no reasons alot of the time because you didn't listen to their dumb strategies so they all report you for feeding then you get banned for a certain amount of days. its a terrible system and valve needs to fix it.

blackeagle84
blackeagle84

why do I have to post a comment in order to expand the comment section? this is freaking ridiculous. Gamespot FIX THIS SCHIT

blackeagle84
blackeagle84

LOL is garbage,Dota 2 stay true to its original, it's best of this kind.

Zekethompson22
Zekethompson22

Oh...I though DOTA was something else. Im Interested 

FallDark
FallDark

This game would have been great 10 years ago. Do people seriously play crap like this in 2013?  Graphics don't make the game but it looks like this company re-used the Warcraft 3 engine from 2002. A good story and gameplay can make a game with sad graphics into an amazing game, unfortunately this game doesn't have either.

FallDark
FallDark

This game would have been great 10 years ago. Do people seriously play crap like this in 2013?  Graphics don't make the game but it looks like this company re-used the Warcraft 3 engine from 2002. A good story and gameplay can make a game with sad graphics into an amazing game, unfortunately this game doesn't have either.

Noborou
Noborou

1. Graphic - Its blured as hell. Ppl with bad vision (like me) after playing some time eyes start hurt and start feel dizzy.

2. bad comunyti and lots of beggers. If you got rare companion thei gona beg for it and inv to friends. That anoyng and pathetic.

3. Play vs bots if wona be good at game. Man its MMO for wtf is ther bots in moba game? 

4. in'' pick all'' mode all time used same 15 heroes from 120. All other 105 is way weaker or just taking the space in pick screen.

5. No player lvl balance. You can just download game and play it 1st match and you can fight vs player who got 2k wins 200lvl and other usles stuff. 

6. 1st time playing you feel disepointment, anger, and confusion.

you can find lots of good in this game but i show onlie bad things. This game is for G-nerds. If wona play something fun not requiring from you to lern it like math or other shit from school better play some FPS. Played 40h and wona get that 2 days back :D


lovetose
lovetose

1500 hours playing this -0-

Prats1993
Prats1993

LOL is rubbish compared to this.

pattythebratty
pattythebratty

i live in china and i know tons of ten year olds that play lol....lol

k3ck
k3ck

@GuillermoX DotA 2 is more complex and polished and is updated constantly by arguably one of the best developers on Earth.  It basically comes down to if prefer and easier game where you have to pay for everything (LoL) or harder, deeper game that's 100% free (DotA).  Mostly anyone who played both LoL and DotA that isn't a troll will tell you DotA is better, which it is.  Every pro player that plays both games will tell you the same thing as well.

myrkulftw
myrkulftw

@PowerDingALing you sir, have no idea what you're talking about, or maybe never understood the in depth qualities and complex elements this game has to offer. A comment like yours is totally irrelevant. It's like asking who plays World of Warcraft as of today, not me, but a lot of people still do, because it gets constantly updated with expansions and new content, something similar happens with Dota, but in this case Dota has been reborn with Valve developing the project. Dota has been and still is one of the best experience rewarding games that has ever existed on PC. Period.

Majd_Abdulqadir
Majd_Abdulqadir

I've never been falsely reported even though many times I played bad or against the team's strategy. On the other hand I have encountered many obnoxious players who intentionally abuse/feed or ruin the game experience with abusive communication. I've reported those myself, and many times they've been punished. IMO the system works well against those kinds of players.

Minomol
Minomol

@FallDark Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of fans that watch and play Dota 2 daily.

ShaMana999
ShaMana999

@FallDark Looks like you have no clue what graphics actually is. Shaders, geometry, textures, post processes and quite a bit more that seem quite unfamiliar to you. Dota 2 is a superior graphically to LoL, no question about it. The SOURCE engine used, makes quite a few nice additions to the visuals. Other than this they both have a Lore, both have good balance for its own purposes and the rest is simply down to choice. Do you prefer the more difficult and various Dota or casually oriented LoL.

electron-1
electron-1

@FallDark  LOL seriously!!! how old r u pal?
u know nothing about Dota 2, 
arent you?
remember, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing
go home and play LOL or buy a new powerful pc and play Dota 2
Dota 2's graphics, gameplay, hero balance >>>>> all moba
and all heroes are free
unlike LOL in wooden PC u wont get its full graphics.

electron-1
electron-1

@Noborou LOL, seriously!!!! don't embrace yourself
One of the stupidest things I've ever read.

Dota 2 
Graphic>> all moba, its darker its better, its full of blood and gore, its not a f*cking cartoon and i'm blind as a bat and my play time is 400+ h.

bad community, yes. But, its still better than LOL or other moba  community.

"No player lvl balance" , BAHAHAHA......seriously?????

"
Man its MMO for wtf is ther bots in moba game? ">>>>>> LOL

"in'' pick all'' mode all time used same 15 heroes from 120. All other 105 is way weaker or just taking the space in pick screen."....did you really play this game? how many times? Tell us the truth. please. Whats your ID?

You've just made my day pal, we really need more people like you. :)

Noborou
Noborou

Get a life. 63 days in that 1m x 1m map. Dude that sad

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@Prats1993 I agree. I played LoL first, didn't like the game after 15 matches or so. played Dota 2 and was like 'oooooohhhhh I see what LoL was trying to do. This is great!!!!"

Noborou
Noborou

I thinc Riot games duing good job. Adding maps, skins fixing and balancing heroes. I dont see that Valve do this. Thei just add skins from steam work shop that thei get for free from fans or free lancers. Thei just making turnaments for beta testers and other old players.

so LoL for new ppl is lots better then dota2.


GuillermoX
GuillermoX

@k3ck@GuillermoXThis is the kind of thing I'm talking about. If you had tried both you'd know that you don't have to pay for anything in LoL either, unless you HAVE to have a skin for some reason :P  I'm not here to start some kind of argument about which is better, I'm asking specifically, compared to LoL, what is in Dota 2 that makes it so much of a better game?

GuillermoX
GuillermoX

@electron-1This is actually pretty untrue from my Dota experience.  Graphics are not better, especially character abilities.  Balance per character, I can't say much for Dota because I didn't play it long enough, but LoL does fairly well with balance.  Having friendly system requirements is not a bad thing. 

You can't say something is better in one game without experiencing both.  Don't do exactly what you're telling him not to do.

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@Noborou I have about 700 hours and I just got laid about 40 mins ago. its not hard to manager your time if you do it properly.  :)

ShaMana999
ShaMana999

@Noborou not exactly, thats 126 nights in that 1m x 1m map. I can relate to that. Not time to play during the day or weekends. Only nights. You can have a life and still have an absurd amount of play hours and not that much sleep though :)

and after all the review says it:

THE BAD Will take over your life


ShaMana999
ShaMana999

@Noborou LoL is out officially for 4 Years now. Dota is officially out for few months. Let's compare:

MAPS: LoL 4 vs DOTA 1 (+ tutorial maps are not counted)

Heroes: LoL 116 vs DOTA 102

Skins: LoL (how ever you look at that, its limited) vs DOTA quite a lot (content is not only from workshop do your research)

Ballancing and fixes: Equal 

All in all both games are equal, but only one is the original from which the other comes from ... :) guess which one

RpgGamer23q
RpgGamer23q

@Noborou No balance? do you even read patch notes? love the LOL fanboys dissing a game they know nothing about...

electron-1
electron-1

@Noborou  how about?? LOL is for noobs.
LOL is actually for noobs you know. No balance, cartoon heroes, bad gameplay, no deny, you have to buy hero, bad community, bad graphics, LEAVERS, AFK...etc..etc

do you want to know how i know all this?
well, I have 540 wins in my LOL acc and i've also deleted LOL from my PC. Waste of HDD space.

Noborou
Noborou

Not quite free. You need invite from some one who got game.

lightleggy
lightleggy

@GuillermoX@k3ck

You're not going to lose a game in LoL just because you don't have Aatrox or Yasuo or Jinx...every character in LoL is great when played correctly, one of the strongest characters right now is Nasus and he costs 1350 points (you get that in about 8 games) , that is the 2nd cheapest price tier in the game, and he still kicks ass.

Also, there are weekly champs rotations, so yes you can try a more expensive character if he happens to be on that week's rotation.

GuillermoX
GuillermoX

@gabi098@GuillermoX@k3ck

Thank you :)   I personally like being able to do more risky stuff and still have a chance to come back, so Dota is probably not for me, but it's good to hear some actual info about it :)  

 On a side note for accuracy, they rotate free characters every week on LoL, so you don't have to pay to try anyone of you were patient. Also, they recently made comebacks more feasible(which they're still tweaking), so that sort of thing seems to be the real major difference.

gabi098
gabi098

@GuillermoX@k3ckDoes over 500+ hrs in each game suffice?
Lol is theoretically completely free to play but lets face neither you or me have all the "champions" nor are we anywhere near that, trying out a new champion involves either saving up about 20 games or paying cash.
From that stand point alone DotA offers a better F2P model.

Down to the actual game:
You don't like dota's HUD? You can change it. 99% of games at least one other players offers a different HUD.

It comes down to the mechanics in the end, DotA punishes bad plays a lot more that LoL, as a result many players become fustrated and abandon hopes of mastering the game, for the same reason those who stick with it will eventually feel more accomplished by beeing able to control and understand every little trick in the game.

Also DotA has a more active early game with more aggressive behaviors and gonks.

In the end I believe DotA is the better game if you stick with but it does take some time to get better and like all MOBA communities it's not a pleasant one most of the time but there are exceptions.

E-Major
E-Major

@electron-1 @ShaMana999  YOU on the other hand I AM calling a douchebag (See other post) :) Seriously dude you like DotA 2. WE GET IT. Ya don't have to prove it by insulting LOL. And to clarify, you BUY LOL heroes with IP which you get for FREE for playing games. No money is involved. Unless you are impatient anyway.

I do agree that a new champion in LOL is stronger. The fans complained about this and the dev team responded that it is hard to perfectly balance a champion pre-release. So what they usually do is err on the side of strength rather than release a too-weak champion whom everyone would then forget about and never give half a chance (Like Wukong at release). A champion should be able to make a splash at release. Currently the worst case of this was Volibear who could bite an Annie to death one shot and was supposed to be a TANK/Bruiser. They balanced him within 2 days (If i remember correctly). They are CONSTANTLY re-balancing and even RE-MAKING heroes (something I hope they start to do more often in DotA). Not long ago Nasus was OP and he is a VERY old cheap hero.

Point is, don't complain just for the sake of bitching.

E-Major
E-Major

@ShaMana999 @Noborou  Actually DotA has been out for a LONG time its is DotA2 that is new. LOL was the one that had to play catch up as DotA had been doing this a lot longer. Guess what ....... they caught up. I'm still waiting for DotA2 to catch up to DotA and THEN it might get good. As it is DotA 2 has been a disappointment so far as I believe that a sequel should go beyond the original and not just copy it. I was and still AM a HUGE DotA fan. Back in the day when games were about fun and the internet hadn't made being a douchebag the new official global sport (FYI I am not calling ShaMana999 a douchebag.....just generally 90% of the internet.). I like BOTH games i.e DotA and LOL, BOTH have good points. I agree DotA 2 has better graphics but graphics alone won't float a game. 

P.S. This wasn't a comeback, putdown or insult. Just adding some facts and my opinion to the mix.

electron-1
electron-1

@ShaMana999

Who gives a FLUCK about maps. I'm playing in the original map for 7 years and i still dont know all the tricks. On the other hand, those other 3 LOL maps are completely garbage. 2 lan map, SERIOUSLY!!!????

Yah, lol has more heroes than dota 2. But, the question is are they ballanced?????
NOPE, new heroes are stronger (u know!!! business policy)
And the most annoying thing is they are not free. Yes, you have to buy them. You have to buy hero in a free to play (!!!) game.
On the other hand in dota 2 we have 102 balance heroes. And u can take any of them any time.


"Ballancing and fixes: Equal." Dude!! WTH r u talking about.
LOL is a complete imbalance game.

PS: DONT EVER TRY TO COMPARE Dota / Dota 2 WITH OTHER GARBAGES like LOL.

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@RpgGamer23q @Noborou people with bias opinions ate hilarious. I understand that they love their game but to blindly state inaccurate facts just for the sake of being a fanboy is hilarious.

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@Noborou No you dont, that was only when the game was in beta. Now that it's released anyone can download it.

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

@Noborou I don't think that's true. I just saw it on the homepage once and downloaded it. Simple as that.

Dota 2 More Info

First Release on Jul 09, 2013
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • Unix/Linux
Dota 2 features the characters and factions from the original Defense of the Ancients title with new features.
8.1
Average User RatingOut of 761 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Dota 2
Developed by:
Valve Software
Published by:
Valve Software, NEXON Co., Ltd.
Genres:
MOBA, Strategy, Free-to-Play