Dota 2 First Impressions: Valve Never Disappoints
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
I have always been a big fan of MOBA games. I have tried and switched between many that are available and have just come to love Dota 2. The game is still in its early stages so there are areas that can be improve but being backed by a company like Valve, I know the game will be great.
Valve has brought us many great games over the years including Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike and Portal 2. Unlike most game developers and publishers, they do not feel the need to release their games quickly because they have other sources of income allowing them to take their time. Knowing this, it is hard to know when Dota 2 will officially be released or what its payment structure will look like, but I do know that it will be a great game.
Community members have found signs of micro transitions in the game files hinting towards a model similar to Team Fortress 2. A free to play model would be most profitable and is the model I am predicting. I hope that hero unlocking is not part of the game. In a MOBA game this leads to many balance issues and offers many advantages to paying players. We can be certain of one thing, the shop will sell hats.
The game play is basically the same as Defense of the Ancients. In a traditional game, two teams of five fight in three lanes in hope of destroying the enemy ancient. These ancients are defended by three towers in each lane. Once any of the tier three towers have been destroyed, the two towers protecting the ancient become vulnerable. After destroying these final towers, the ancient may be destroyed.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, behind such a simple goal there are many mechanics and play styles to be discovered and mastered. There is no way to beat Dota 2; you are only working towards getting better.
Amazing art style!
Even in the early stages of the game, bugs are almost nonexistent. Sometimes the servers crash but after getting matched up with opponents I have never encountered any bugs. However, some bugs and glitches do exist but that is to be expected in a beta. My brother has occasionally gotten texture bugs but a quick restart or verification of files solves this issue. Players have also claimed to have missed skill shots because of bugs but that is debatable.
One by one the existing heroes in Dota are being ported over to Dota 2. The heroes are almost identical to the original heroes but some balance changes are occasionally made. There is not much to say about the hero design as they are simply ports from Dota, but I am looking forward to new Dota 2 heroes. Valve is a creative company with many talented developers so I am sure they will not disappoint.
The game is also surprisingly balanced. I say surprisingly because it seems impossible to be able to balance such a large number of heroes. This was possible because of years of tweaks from DOTA by the community and IceFrog.
The user interface is currently my favourite UI out of all the available MOBA games. It is easy on the eyes and simple to use. It is the little additions such as quick buy and labels for mana cost which serve as the tie breaker against other MOBA game UIs.
However, I feel that the shop can be improved. In its default configuration, purchasing items feels like a slow process. The number hotkeys do not help as it can be quite troublesome to reach for the number seven when trying to quickly purchase an item. Thankfully this configuration can be changed to display many items with smaller icons once players are familiar with all the items. In order to quickly purchase items it is essential to use the quick buy feature.
This is a very useful feature that allows an item to be displayed with its individual components right above your inventory screen allowing for easy purchases. You can either buy the item one by one or bind a key to purchase items in your quick buy with the press of a button.
You can watch games while you are in queue!
Transitioning to Dota 2 was a bit hard in the beginning. Coming from a faster paced MOBA game the slow response times and turn rates took a bit getting used. At first I did not like the slower paced game play but it grew on me and now Dota 2 is being played exclusively. If you are turned off by the responsiveness of Dota 2, keep playing. You will eventually get used to it. Every MOBA game has its own feel which you must get accustomed to.
My favourite part about Dota 2 are the little additions that are not game changing or very noticeable. Heroes react to what is going on around them with a variety of lines. They will comment on any big item pickups, missed skill shots and kills. The kill lines even go as far as featuring specific lines for all hero match-ups. Hero animations also change depending on their state such as limping while at low health. There are many of these little additions throughout Dota 2 that help to make it a great game.
Dota 2 is the only MOBA game which I like to play with the music enabled. In a recent update, all of the music is dynamic and changes based on what is going on. If you are simply farming creeps in a lane the game will play calm and relaxing music but changes to more epic music in situations such as fighting Roshan, the boss in Dota 2.
Being a big fan of eSports I am very happy about the competitive scene in Dota 2. Even now it offers many more opportunities for professional players than games that have been released for quite some time. The International gave a huge boost towards Dota 2's competitive scene with its 1.6 million dollar prize pool! This tournament was not just a one-time advertising gambit for Valve as they plan to host it again soon. I wonder what the prize pool will be this time?
Dota TV has great potential in contributing towards the competitive scene. Even in its early stages Dota TV offers features on par or even surpassing those in fully released MOBA games. You can watch any games live, obviously with some delay, with hundreds of other spectators. When this feature has been fully implemented you can use it to watch live competitive games with commentary and camera views from the casters also viewing the game.
The only problem with Dota TV is knowing if tournaments will actually utilize its features. Too many spectators can cause the game to lag for everyone, including the players, but this will most likely be fixed in the future. Aside from the chance of lagging your game, tournaments will lose a lot of ad revenue if spectators can simply watch the game without opening the streams. Therefore, I think that the full Dota TV will only be used by official Valve tournaments unless Valve offers incentives to streamers and casters.
The profile displays just the right amount of information.
As in most MOBA games, the community is very hostile during matches. This is unavoidable because it is a team game where one player's bad move can cost the entire team the match. However, I have had very good experiences in all of my matches so far. It may just be because of the game being in closed beta but I am very surprised with the community's maturity.
Outside of the game, Dota 2 is backed by an amazing community. I have seen the release of many articles, casts and art work which goes to show the love the community has on this game. Valve recognizing these community releases makes it even better. If this community continues to do what is it doing I can see this game going very far.
To conclude, I recommend Dota 2 to any gamer. The game is still in closed beta and is already on par with the top MOBA games on the market. Backed by Valve, my favourite gaming company, the game can only improve over time. Without a doubt Dota 2 is my favourite MOBA game.
Be on the lookout for a full review after Dota 2 is in a later stage of development.