What is Dota 2?
Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that I have been playing regularly since 2013. It began as a community mod from Warcraft 3, made by fans for fans; it’s truly a game by the people and for the people.
It became so popular that Valve and Lord Gaben (Gabe Newell) actually purchased the mod and further developed it making it a standalone game for all. Today it is still popular, it’s Steam’s most played game (https://steamcharts.com/), with over 525,000 current players and a pro scene that offers prize pools greater than 25 million dollars!!! (http://dota2.prizetrac.kr/) Interesting right? But how much did I pay to play and learn? Nothing. It’s free to play for anyone.
Easy to Grasp the Basics
Dota 2 is free to play and so I started this new genre of game with no cost and nothing to lose. The mechanics seemed simple enough to understand; get gold if you can get the last hit on an enemy and spend gold on items to help make yourself stronger. Killing creeps and other players grants you XP also allowing you to level up and select the skill you want to learn or upgrade.
The goal of the game is to destroy the other teams “Ancient”, the largest structure in their base whilst defending your own (Defence of the Ancients – DOTA!). You play as an individual in a team of five heroes and try to outplay the other team of five and destroy their Ancient before they can destroy yours.
Choices & Freedom
The character selection is large, I had choice of over 100 (now there are 115!) different heroes to play as and each with their own abilities and uses. I could play as whoever I wanted or felt would be good for that game. With such a large roster there is a HUGE number of hero combinations that can work well together and can counter other heroes the enemies pick.
Each hero is unique and fun coming with the ability to influence how the game is played. The map is iconic for the game and doesn’t change (except for patch alterations or purchasable themes but the principle remains the same). It’s so iconic it’s actually used for the Dota 2 logo.
Getting in to the Gameplay
You don’t need to learn fine details to get started. You can focus on the main areas; each base is on opposite corners and there’s a river running though the middle to split each side of the map. There are three lanes total and simply referred to as top, middle and bottom and each side has its own “jungle” where neutral enemies spawn that can be killed for gold and XP. You are free to move as you please within the map but the closer to enemies the more dangerous.
There are also a large number of items that can you can purchase with that in-game gold with cheap useful items early to give little benefits, utility items to help your own mobility or to restrict theirs and certainly expensive ones useful late game to help you destroy your enemies and their Ancient. You can experiment with items on heroes or use recommended builds; the choice is yours.
With the number of heroes available and a multitude of play styles no game is ever the same and regular patches allow the game to always improve and refresh so it never stagnates. With over 5 years playing the game and over 7,000 hours clocked up playing on steam I’ve certainly never been bored playing it.
Dota 2 has a simple and clean user interface so the info you need is available to you but never obstructs the game itself, you can always see what you need to. The game engine is Source 2 which allows the game to look beautiful and run incredibly smoothly. Hero animations are incredible and the ambiance of the map and fine detail are gorgeous. Heroes don’t just have one appearance either but are customisable though cosmetics, through individual slots or an entire set, special outfits or parts alter particle effects also adding to the beauty of the game.
Why is it I play so much Dota 2? What keeps me coming back again and again?
The biggest draw for me is the challenge, the competition, the opportunity to out-think, out-manoeuvre and out-play someone. I relish the chances to push my own boundaries and compete with others at my level and above to learn and grow, becoming wiser and finding the best time to strike in a team fight. I love the huge roster of playable heroes with my personal favourites being Rubick, Pudge, Enigma and Crystal Maiden.
With every game comes a huge adrenaline surge, you hold on to dear life as you refuse to make a mistake defending your base not letting the enemies in. You jump into a massive fight and use your ultimate ability and can single-handedly turn the team fight into your favour. You feel all your hard work paying off as you destroy the enemy teams ancient as they call out “gg” and you know you’ve kicked butt.
For me Dota 2 is a roller coaster of emotions and a game where the heroes are made by you, you make them the legend. Some wins are so difficult you just want to yell to the heavens that you have conquered them and conversely some loses so miserable you put in all your effort to never feel so defeated again, striving for that addictively sweet victory once again. I play for the epic moments that can be found within every game of Dota.
Dota 2 has a simple concept and design that is easy to grasp, fun to play and hard to master with the skill ceiling being incredibly high but the floor low for anyone to play. It’s great to play alone but escalates the fun playing with friends. The combinations feel limitless and so the game may age but never feels old. I love gaming and I never feel like I’ve lost or wasted time with Dota, and that’s a lot of hours played, trust me. Oh, did I mention it’s completely free to play? It’s zero investment and yet it always holds a place in my heart.