Having been invited to the alpha version of the game without an embargo on information, it is with utmost importance that I write a review of Defense of the Ancients (DotA). You savage Blizzard fans are probably going internally impatient wanting to know how Blizzard did creating their own MOBA game that was originally birthed some 15 years ago as a user map settings game within their Warcraft RTS game.

I won’t go over balancing because at this time it is unimportant, but I want to note all of the important things. This review might be hard to understand if you’ve never played “DOTA” or “League of Legends.”

The Basics

A player controls a hero and clicks to move with a team versus another team – usually on a multi-lane layout that has destructable structures that you need to get through to the enemy’s main base. In each lane, squads of non playable things come down those lanes from both sides and can’t “really” kill a player but are used as an avenue to gain control of the battlefield through skills and tactics.

Destroying the team’s main building results in a win; you always start at level one and hit some form of max level gaining specific skills along the way. The leveling process involves heroes’ talents or item customization that is intended to be thrown away after every game; advancement is easy for that reason.

The character has some form of level that is advanced in a permanent way and in these games new heroes are always added, resulting in a form of continual income for the game designer that does not charge for its game and service.

The game is highly competitive and team-oriented.

Items and Character Customization

There are none and I am not wanting of them either. In accordance with Blizzard’s views on “meaningful customization,” heroes are given up to four talents every set level up until 20, which can be exceeded level wise, resulting in 7 different versatile choices.

The problem with items is that you always buy the same ones based on the hero in League of Legends; in this game, if I am playing a character like Malfurion, I can customized him to match which hero I am supporting. The downside is if I set him up to support a mana using hero and the d-bag ditches my lane for another and doesn’t play as a group, it can feel like a wasted effort.

The specific point being at one point I am given 4 options on a talent and I personally stick to one of two choices, one choice allows my mana regen granting skill to refresh much faster or do I allow it to give 10% attack speed? If I am supporting the demon hunter I choose the faster refresh because she usually goes through mana like nobody’s business but if I am with the siege tank, whom I love, I will choose the attack speed because of her low mana use and insanely hard hitting basic attacks.

So far of the heroes I’ve played I have really enjoyed my choices.

Mercenaries

One of the jobs of a team member, based on skill set, could be to just kill the map creatures en masse to level up the team. In this version of Blizzard’s MOBA, that job has changed a bit. Maps have two groups of neutral Siege Ogres, an Undead Warband, and a giant Golem – they are Mercenaries. Once killed these neutral NPCs are flagged for your team and head down the appropriate lane. If you’re in a random group that isn’t playing well, lanes will be left open and these guys will actually start killing towers.

The Undead Warband is an advanced version of the groups that are constantly created by your side. Unhindered, they will kill off a section of structures but most likely die to the keep and tower behind the wall.

Siege Ogres have less HP but can attack out of the defensive tower’s range, so if they aren’t stopped they will actually clear the lane of defensive structures, and it happens because people aren’t watching lanes.

The golem is basically a boss creature and will just plow through an entire lane, dying eventually but doing more damage than that undead warband.

There’s a lot to be said about catching a lane off guard and tagging a bunch of mercenary camps as well as using them to push a lane.

Objectives

Objectives are map based and add another layer of intricacy to the overall mission of the team.

  1. A northern and southern shrine become obtaineble on a map, when one team owns both the center shrine becomes active and with a channel a player hero can gain the avatar of the Dragon Knight with super structure destroying power for a set time or until killed. The Dragon Knight is a pretty significant unit to control.
  2. Every X amount of time two mine shafts will become enabled, opening a second map that contains about 80 (?) skeleton NPCs. Players jump inside and collect the dropped item off the slain, after they die and the boss skeleton is dead a tally is created and each side gets a corresponding undead golem. The most important part is that when that golem dies somewhere on the lane his corpse stays at that location so the golems that are made will always get progressively closer to the end base structure.
  3. There is a pirate bay board where doubloons drop from pirate NPCs as well as chests. If your team hands in enough, first, to the undead pirate he will shoot cannon fire to the opposing team’s closest structures. Players with money drop it when killed and the price for the objective rises every time you are successful.
  4. A collectible object will spawn somewhere on the map and coming with it is a shout out to all players to get it starting in 12 seconds, once a team has collected, with a channel, 3 of them the opposing team is cursed for about a minute. Their defensive structures will no longer fire and army guys that are spawned only have 1 HP. One minute is a long ass time, people.

Do you think the addition of both mercenaries and objectives may be too much or not enough or even just right? It feels okay for me.

A player outside of the game has an account that has a specific level based on experience they earn while playing matches and completeing daily quests, which are play X type of hero for 2 games. X can be “warcraft hero” or a “warrior hero.” Each hero has a list of experience and skin dye rewards based on how many times they have been played in a game; this small reward system is called “Hero Quests.”

  1. 2 games  – 150K exp
  2. 4 games – 300K exp
  3. 10 games – Dye #1
  4. Dye #2
  5. 3 million exp

I haven’t done stage three because I am too busy farming rewards one and two with different heroes.

Account and Hero Stuff

As I go up in levels I make 700 gold coins to use to buy to unlock new playable heroes; outside of the random six I get to play a week, heroes cost 2,000, 4,000, 7,000 or 10,000, combined with the 500 gold you get for the daily quest this isn’t really bad. Or, you can pay real money in microtransactions for their unlock as well as new skins. Some of the skins are visually WORTH the money. There is a skin for Tassadar that turns him into a Gundam. Blizzard is not lacking in quality.

In terms of what team setup is considered the “best” or “Meta” I won’t touch on those subjects because of how they wax and wane between actual effectiveness and player abuse.

All in all, I am excited to farm daily quests with this and Hearthstone – and if I get some more time in my life I would love to keep up with Warlords of Draenor, but as a whole I need “hit and run” quality gaming.

 

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