Quantcast
Impressions: Dota 2 beta - Destructoid




Dota 2  



Impressions: Dota 2 beta


4:00 PM on 02.08.2012
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo



The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre has been fascinating to watch grow. Like many popular independent works, it started from humble beginnings with a little mod for a well-known game. I can only imagine that few could foresee just how popular the mod would get.

This appeal resulted in full retail releases of multiple games, taking the same basic gameplay and adding original spins to the formula. Some tried to refine and improve the base to be more accessible, while others went in different directions to have less-than-stellar success. A lucky few have become popular enough to find a spot within competitive gaming.

What of the original source? What of Defense of the Ancients, the mod map for Warcraft III that started the whole genre? Some still consider it the best of the bunch. For the most part though, it still remained in the realm of Warcraft mods, never seeing its own conversion to retail like Counter-Strike.

Thus, Valve shocked many when they announced Dota 2, which skips over the entire process of making a real "DOTA 1" to simply go for the sequel. The big question is, what makes this Dota 2? Is it merely Defense of the Ancients with a nice coat of paint, or is there something bringing it into a new generation of gaming? Read on to find out what I think after spending time with the ongoing beta.

DOTA 2 beta (PC)
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release: TBA 2012

Those who follow my writing know that I'm a frequent player of League of Legends -- arguably the most popular current-running MOBA game -- and have covered it around the site frequently. I have never played the original DOTA though, so while not completely blind in walking into the beta for this game, I would not be able to tell you for certain what all of the aspects are maintained. From what I could tell, much was held over from the original.

The basic elements of the gameplay remain the same. There are three lanes connecting two bases on opposite corners of the map: one that curves at the top-left corner of the map, one that curves at the bottom-right corner of the map, and the third that crosses the center diagonally. Mindless and automated minions walk along these lanes, attacking the towers and enemy minions as they fight their way into the enemy base. Two teams of five players, each player controlling one hero character of their choosing, help these minions along in an attempt to skew each skirmish to their team's favor.

Dota 2 plays like any other MOBA. It retains the same overhead perspective, and controls much in the same way you would expect an RTS game to. It also offers some RPG flavor as your chosen hero can level up during the match, and you can allocate points into attributes and skills. Finally, there's an obligatory shop where you can buy items to equip using gold gained from kills.

Despite so many similarities, Dota 2 still has some good things going for it. The graphical fidelity is magnificent. Valve certainly has a solid track record of making detailed-looking games that manage to have a simplicity about them, and this is no different here. There is also a matchmaking feature for automatically setting up teams of people, which works really quickly, and seems to set up fair matches.

Should there be someone who quits your team after a match has been made, a helpful rule can save you from wasting time on a loss. If five minutes have passed since said person left, then you can leave as well, and you won't incur a penalty for doing so. Until that point, you could actually deselect your own hero and take over the one that person left behind to try an compensate for the lost player. It's something that I'm sure could be greatly helpful for experienced players if one member of the team has a momentary lapse in their connection, or some other unfortunate circumstance.

There is also a fully fleshed out Spectator Mode, in which any number of people can click on an in-progress match to watch it live as it happens. Perhaps the neatest thing about this is the inclusion of an automatic camera director, which will move your screen around to watch all the areas where the action takes place. There is also a spectator-only chat in this mode, allowing you to talk with other viewers watching alongside you. When making a private room for a game, you can disable the ability for people to watch in on you as well.

Unfortunately, there are also parts in Dota 2 that don't feel quite so good. While the graphical quality is really nice, the general art style and the color choices feel rather bland -- even borderline generic. There are a lot of dark colors, and even on the side of the map that's supposed to be vibrant, there is drab coloring much in the same vein as first-person shooters from three to four years ago.

The character designs also don't ring of any distinct uniqueness to them. Other MOBAs that have drawn inspiration from or pay homage to more famous icons, but here the characters all feel like they could be interchanged with anything from fantasy story-hood. This is also reflected in the lack of naming for each hero. While each character may have a name in their lore, the selection screen opts instead to name them by the closest thing to their "class."

This also hurts the gameplay to some extent. Targeting specific enemies can become hard as they clump up randomly with each other in skirmishes. Targeting enemy heroes can be just as bad considering there is little that distinctly makes them stand out from the minions. Sure, there is a floating health bar that is a bit bigger than the ones over the minions, but there are still plenty of times where lots of minions and screen-obscuring special effects make conditions where you could lose track of all the players engaged in the same skirmish.

The interfacing also hurts the game as well, taking up way too much of the screen for comfort. Given the level of zoom on the action, this can lead to situations where you end up clicking on your HUD instead of a spot on the playfield in an attempt to run away. The ability to deselect your hero is also problematic, as it makes the basic controls of your character slightly more complicated than they really need to be. Although there is a button you can hit to instantly re-select your character, miss-clicking can screw you over. Thankfully, you can bind the command to select your champion to any button, but the camera command only ever remains pressing the selection button twice.

The shop system is something that has also been inelegantly handled. There are multiple shops scattered about the map, each with different items in them. It's a holdover from DOTA that was supposed to help separate the different skill level of players, with more "advanced" players knowing what items are bought from where. It feels unnecessary in Dota 2, when the mini-map will ping which shop has the item you're trying to buy. The organization of the items in the shop is also very lacking. The categories are by the type of item, but this makes finding items that affect specific statistics a hassle, requiring you to read all the tool tips and data for each one as you search.

Dota 2 is still a beta product, and it shows. There are a variety of options that are unimplemented, or half-implemented. In private games, you can set up bots to play with, and they feel very reminiscent of how the bots are in Valve's other games. Not many of the characters have bots to play with, and even on the easiest setting, most of them are annoying and hard to play with and against. Bot matches could still become something useful for training and practice, but as they are now, they just feel incomplete. 

An option for a tutorial is visible, but remains unimplemented at the moment. There is stat tracking, and you can see what characters you like using, as well as success or failure rates with each. Some form of level tracking is shown, though it's non-functional at the moment, which will probably be used for better skill assessment in matchmaking.

All in all, Dota 2 is a much slower affair than some of the other established MOBA games to have come out in the past couple of years. It feels like an odd mix of a modern game and an antiquated game. It's clunky, and I would not say that it feels very friendly to new players looking to start playing a MOBA in its current form. Depending on how some of these unimplemented features turn out, they could make the game significantly more accessible for new people who are unfamiliar with the genre. A number of the problems I've found are things that can be fixed by the time the game goes out of beta.

As it stands, Dota 2 feels highly aimed at fans of the original, who would claim that the other popular MOBAs are too simplified or too casual. For the most part, I would say that they will be happy seeking a new home in the sequel.

For everyone else, I feel that it is a wait-and-see situation. As for which MOBA game the famous Basshunter will choose as the best, and make a new song about, only time will tell.

Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo
Impressions: Dota 2 beta photo




Techies officially coming to Dota 2 next week photo


Video tips on how to be a better Dota 2 player photo


Valve releases Dota 2 mod tools and possibly Source 2 (or parts of it) photo


This is it: Watch Dota 2's The International grand finals live photo


The biggest esports tournament in history continues photo


ESPN3 will carry Dota 2's The International photo


Dota 2 International: There can be only one (but right now there's eight) photo


The Dota 2 International 2014 wildcard round is underway photo


Dota Dash is Dota 2 mixed with Mario Kart photo


There will be a newbie-friendly stream for Dota 2's International tournament photo


Dota 2 Updates, Screenshots, & Videos







Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.






timeline following:
Dota 2



1:00 PM on 08.30.2014
Techies officially coming to Dota 2 next week

Techies, the explosive and suicidal Dota 2 Hero, is finally coming to the game next week, as detailed in the latest Dota 2 blog update. I've never played Techies in DOTA, but here's what I've gathered so far: Techie...more



5:15 PM on 08.26.2014
Video tips on how to be a better Dota 2 player

Believe it or not, in all my time spent in Dota 2, I've never played a single solo matchmaking game. I've played plenty of team games, but the anxiety that comes with playing alone with strangers gets to me while playing Dot...more



3:15 PM on 08.07.2014
Valve releases Dota 2 mod tools and possibly Source 2 (or parts of it)

Valve has released an alpha build of its Dota 2 Workshop Tools which will enable folks to create, share, and play custom maps and game modes for Dota 2. That's going to be huge and if you played custom games in Warcraft III, ...more



12:00 PM on 07.21.2014
This is it: Watch Dota 2's The International grand finals live

[Update: It's over! Newbee has been named champion of The International 4 and will take home $5,028,308 in prize money. For reaching second place, ViCi Gaming will bring home a still-impressive $1,475,699. Watch the final mat...more



1:15 PM on 07.20.2014
The biggest esports tournament in history continues

Note: there will be no spoilers in this post for day one or two, but expect them in the comments!  Yesterday was as exciting as it was heartbreaking for some, but that's just the way things go when over $10 million is on...more



2:45 PM on 07.17.2014
ESPN3 will carry Dota 2's The International

You can watch the $10+ million Dota 2 tournament The International on Twitch, or in-game, or, huh, even on ESPN. Valve is collaborating with the sports network for coverage this weekend. Notably, ESPN2 will have an exclusive ...more



9:00 PM on 07.15.2014
Dota 2 International: There can be only one (but right now there's eight)

Eight teams are left fighting for the $5 million first prize in Dota 2's International tournament. The grand final will be played Monday, July 21. Among the teams fighting for it are ViCi, NewBee, Evil Geniuses, Team DK, Cloud9, 2011 champions Natus Vincere, 2012 winners Invictus Gaming and LGD Gaming (the China qualifier winner).  Patrick was dead wrong. Team MVP didn't come close.more



1:00 PM on 07.08.2014
The Dota 2 International 2014 wildcard round is underway

The day has finally arrived! The biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year is about to officially begin! Today, four wildcard teams will battle it out for one remaining position in the tournament and their shot at a pri...more



8:00 AM on 07.07.2014
Dota Dash is Dota 2 mixed with Mario Kart

Have you ever been in the heat of a good Dota 2 teamfight, enjoying yourself as you're blasting away your enemies, and wondered -- you know what would go great with Dota? Mario Kart! Well, you're in the right place...more



9:00 PM on 07.04.2014
There will be a newbie-friendly stream for Dota 2's International tournament

The 2014 website for The International Dota 2 Championships is now live, and with it comes some great new information. The best of which is that there will be a specific stream for players brand new to the esport. This s...more




Free-to-play

5:00 AM on 08.29.2014
New Deep Down footage, beta delayed until 2015

Deep Down, Capcom's free-to-play PS4 action game, was meant to get a beta in Japan this summer, but producer Kazunori Sugiura has announced the beta test will be delayed until 2015. Localization details have yet to come...more



4:30 PM on 08.27.2014
Loadout devs tease update 5.0, PvE Campaign beta incoming

Austin-based studio Edge of Reality has just recently announced that a new four-player PvE Campaign beta will be available prior to releasing update 5.0 for its twerktastic free-to-play competitive shooter Loadout....more



5:15 PM on 08.26.2014
Video tips on how to be a better Dota 2 player

Believe it or not, in all my time spent in Dota 2, I've never played a single solo matchmaking game. I've played plenty of team games, but the anxiety that comes with playing alone with strangers gets to me while playing Dot...more



View all Free-to-play






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more