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.

Remembering the Founders

It’s President’s Day today, and you likely have the day off. I, however, do not. That said, the timing coincides well with a topic that’s been on my mind since the end of last week. If you’re unaware, last week saw the opening of the Original Everquest’s “progression server” which is a new server, fresh and sparkly, with no expansions created. It is the “base” game. We also saw the start of the last of Rift’s open beta event. We had the old big daddy, the spiritual founder (okay – popularizer, but let’s not split hairs) of the MMO nation going old-school on us, and we have the new up-and comer making its self known to the world. Rift opened its doors for all to see their home, and all the slick, polished things he it can do. I had bronchitis which forced me to stay home Friday, and I happily spent my time playing Evercrack.

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