Why I stopped playing LoL in favor of DotA2

Of these two games, I would not say that the gameplay of either is superior to the other. Each play with their own style and have things I like/dislike about each. As far as the actual game goes for either, I’m Switzerland. Neutral. Gray like Gandalf. I’m pH7 you might say. However, I stopped playing LoL on a regular basis months ago in favor of DotA2. It wasn’t some concrete decision, where I had a moment of choice that I can point to and say, “There, that is why I no longer play”. It was just a gradual subduing of my time spent in game. This weekend, after watching a YouTube video from Riot about the history of their champions, I decided to go give the game a whirl again. All I got was one game before the stark contrast between the total experience of the two games slapped me in the face and reminded me why I never went back – the community.

It started off badly. Within seconds (literally), my 4 teammates were bitching at each other. Calling each other noobs, criticizing choices on champion, spell selection, calling what lane they are going to take, and then being yelled at for going there. Within the champion select, before everyone was locked in, someone even threw out the “GG”. It wasn’t friendly banter; it wasn’t joking humor; it was bitter, vitriolic condemnation of their own teammates and fellow human beings. Did I mention this wasn’t even a ranked game? Just a standard match for fun. The attitude didn’t improve during the length of the game. Not surprisingly, the match didn’t go well. I lasted 12 minutes in game, reading condemnation, proclamations of superiority, and demands of subservience from half of my teammates, before I finally ignored them. That’s a two-edged sword sadly, because once ignored, communication is gone, and a game that relies on teamwork is basically lost. The game finally ended at about the 30 minute mark (the surrender was no-voted). I left the game, closed LoL, and doubt I will return any time soon.

I’m not saying that the community of DotA2 is the gold standard. I wouldn’t even call it the bronze standard. However, it’s not complete shit, and the average interaction is light-years beyond my experience yesterday. Not every game in LoL occurs like mine did, but it’s an indicative example of the aggregate. I talked about it on the forums at Inquisition, and one of the leaders commented something along the lines of “This is the norm in hyper-popular games.”.  The norm is not acceptable, and if it’s bad enough to drive away a veteran of online gaming like me, chances are, it will do the same to others.

From Chaos

Chaos Knight is ridiculous. Anti-Mage isn’t too bad either I guess.

Sequel to the Original

Just before the start of 2012, I got an invite into the “beta” for DotA 2. As you can probably guess, I was quite excited. I played the original DotA via Warcraft 3 more than I would care to admit, and had recently been immersing myself into its spiritual successor LoL (sorry, never actually tried HoN). LoL is a fabulous game, it’s fun, it’s competitive, and it has a lot of light, whimsical aspects that keep it from being some oppressive entity. DotA 2 feels, in many ways like a different game from LoL. Which fits, since it is, you know, a different game. I can boil down the differences between the two in one word: Unforgiving.

DotA 2 is definitely for the far more hardcore player-base. There is no going to a lane, and auto-attacking creeps to get the kills and push the tower. Though that still happens in a general sort of overview.  Where in LoL, focusing on last-hits is something you find in ranked games, and is ignored in every single PUG game I’ve played (ever), auto-attacking in a lane is almost sure to generate a comment every time in DotA 2.

Of course, you also have the return of denies.

Oh, sweet, sweet denies, how I have missed you. If you missed the original, in DotA you could attack your own units, your own towers, even your fellow teammates. What that lead to, is a strategy of denying kills. When you kill your own unit, it stops the gold for the kill from being divided to the opponent AND the miss out on the experience from its death. This can add up very quickly. A person who is good at denying creeps, especially in the early game, can easily create a level plus gap between themself and their lane opponent. It hurts to receive, and makes you laugh with glee when you accomplish it.

Level gaps are hard to overcome, and the gold gap is just as unforgiving. One big contributor makes the situation even more desperate than any other MOBA I have played: when you die, you lose gold. Significantly. So, if your opponent is denying you hard, uses their advantage to jump you in an unforgiving moment, you get to sit there dead not gaining any experience, and weep a little inside as the stockpile of gold you had been saving just dropped faster than the U.S. employment rate. Poor play is rewarded brutally and is very unforgiving. What can seem like a simple mistake can quickly cascade into catastrophic failure.

You may be thinking to yourself how terrible this makes the game sound, but it doesn’t. In fact, just the opposite. I’ve been going to DotA 2 nearly every time I would have gone to LoL in the past. It’s eating up the majority of my gaming time this month, and poor Skyrim has been feeling ignored because of it. If you enjoyed the original DotA, you will love the hell out of this. If you get easily frustrated, your beginning here will be painful. The learning curve for those new to the genre is tremendous, and becomes shallower the closer you move to DotA familiarity. Even I had to get back in the groove so to speak, and remember how different the gameplay is, and what gear does what.

Of course, it has some issues, every game does. But nothing that seems game-breaking. The progression system isn’t involved yet, and I haven’t found a good reporting system. A lot of the heroes aren’t implemented yet (Phantom Lancer, k thx?), but there is a very robust selection available. I feel as if the UI, and particularly the item shop could use a bit of tweaking to fine-tune and smooth out the experience, but overall, it gets my rocks off.

Not sure what else there is to say about it.