-Plethora of fun heroes
-Excellent team builder
-Large replay value
The pounding of war drums, the clashing of swords, the constant flaming from the player community; this is the sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). After a fairly lengthy Beta, DOTA 2 has finally been released and currently totes one of the largest active communities on Steam. Combining both Roleplaying and Real Time Strategy elements, this free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is a shining achievement in advancing this fairly new and vastly growing genre.
The object of this MOBA is to destroy a series of defensive towers before toppling over your opponents' Ancient building. The static map is divided evenly between two opposing factions called the Radiant and the Dire. Both teams are comprised of five players each controlling a unique hero. Each team's base is connected by three primary pathways, called lanes, where a timed generation of computer controlled foot soldiers, called creeps, traverse and mindlessly attack the nearest enemy. In addition, there are three defensive towers per lane that serve as heavy defensive outposts.
The enormous assortment of 102 playable heroes is quite overwhelming and can be a bit intimidating at first. Each of these fine champions have a unique backstory that does nothing more than give you a brief glimpse into their lives and offer some context to the fun in-game banter; like the troubled history between the seafaring captain Kunkka and the dreaded abomination of Tidehunter. Your character gains experience whenever they are in the vicinity of a dying enemy. Leveling up grants you skill points to unlock new abilities or increase your base stats. Most characters have a total of three basic skills and one powerful ultimate. Gold is accrued overtime and whenever you land the lethal blow on an enemy called a "last hit". This currency can be used at various shops on the map to buy a wide assortment of offensive, defensive, and supportive items.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each hero and whether they complement the team dynamic or counteract your opponent's picks is essential. Team chemistry and having a well-balanced group of roles ensures that you aren't lacking in the necessary tools for victory. These roles include many types like nukers, carries, disablers, etc. The team compositions are endless and trying out new heroes/combinations is extremely fun while keeping things fresh.
DOTA 2 is very situational and team oriented game. Teamwork is paramount because the well balanced hero structure ensures that no one character is too overpowered. The ebb and flow of the gameplay is a constant tug-of-war battle where the momentum can switch at any time throughout a match. Having a success path for one game may or may not work for another. This is the main reason that makes DOTA 2 so addictive and highly strategic. Making adjustments on the battlefield, coordinating with teammates, and outsmarting the enemy is such an adrenaline rush.
Matches typically take between 30 to 60 minutes to finish so you'll always want to consider your schedule before jumping online because there is a huge time commitment. Leaving your team high and dry by disconnecting prematurely gets you temporarily blacklisted and finding future games will become increasingly more challenging. Furthermore, it would have been convenient to have some "all-quit" feature to allow a severely beaten team wave the white flag without suffering a penalty. This kind of option currently does not exist so you are basically at the will of your opponent as to whether they finish you off quickly or have you suffer a slow and agonizing death.
Winning in DOTA 2 feels like an amazing triumph making you forget about the fact that you've been playing the same match for about an hour. Remember spending countless hours in that difficult boss battle? Well, winning is just as euphoric making you feel like a gaming god. Losing on-the-other-hand feels like you just wasted time off your life that you'll never get back, ever. It's the defeats that really bring out the worst for a majority of the player community because after battling a long, close contest tempers will flare. This is where the many players in the community feel the need to express their rage with a constant barrage of hateful words. You ether need to develop thick skin or utilize the mute and report features because most DOTA 2 gamers are ruthless.
The matchmaking system still has a few kinks to iron out. With hundreds of thousands of people playing you would think that finding a game would be easy. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. On top of that, finding an evenly skilled match can also be a tossup. Another annoyance comes when you finally find a match and nobody speaks the same language. The current filters allow for English, Russian, and Chinese. With communication being a large portion of a team's strategy and servers located all over the world, this language barrier is quite a nuisance.
DOTA 2 is a roller coaster ride of emotions. The myriad of things to think about while trying to be strategic and successful in battle can be exhausting. Whether you are a veteran to MOBAs or fresh off the block, you are going to run into a rather large learning curve. Understanding the lingo and tactics is going to take plenty of patience and practice. DOTA 2 is not an easy game to just pick up right away and many players will find it absolutely frustrating. However, to those that stick it out you'll find an immense sense of accomplishment and reward like the video games of old.