Dota 2 - Review

Author: Alessandro De Luca
Date: 2020-03-03 03:03:57
The beta of Dota 2 is one of those that will probably remain in the history of video games. The development of the game began at the end of 2009, while the limited access beta started in August 2011, the month in which, on the occasion of Gamescom, the first invitations began to be distributed to users registered on Steam. Since then, the number of participants in the beta has grown steadily, as well as the amount of heroes available in the game, which initially were thirty to reach more than 100 today. I played Dota 2 intermittently during these two beta years, which I had access to when Valve finally selected me and sent me an invitation, but now that the game is officially available to everyone, I decided that the time had come to devote myself to it more seriously (and then to write this review).

The tutorial explains the basic mechanics and how to use the menus, but the game is much more complex ...

For those who still don't know, Dota 2 is the official, but not too much (for legal issues related to the name then resolved) sequel to Defense of the Ancients, an amateur mod developed for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne. This mod is generally considered the father of the MOBA genre, which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. In Dota 2, two teams of five players each face off on a single map with the aim of destroying the opponents' Ancient. This objective is located at the south-west and north-east ends of the map, which is framed with the isometric view typical of strategists in real time. Each player controls a hero chosen from the hundreds available and must coordinate with his teammates to get the better of the opponents. Described in this way, Dota 2 would seem rather simple, but the reality is very, very different. The two ends are connected by three lanes, one central and two lateral, while a river divides the map in half. Lanes have six defense towers each, three per team, which attack any enemy units that enter their range. These units obviously include the heroes controlled by the players, but also the so-called creeps, of the creatures controlled by artificial intelligence that start from their Ancient at regular intervals and advance like automatons towards the enemy one, engaging any opponent they encounter along their path.

The player-controlled heroes start every level 1 game (the maximum is 25), there are no permanent statistics and equipment that are kept from one match to another, and to gain experience and money you have to eliminate opponents and learn to give the coup de grace to enemy creeps. This last operation is one of the fundamental basic mechanics of the game because, without money and experience, it doesn't go very far in Dota 2. This aspect of the game is comparable to role-playing games and, although personal skill is always very important being better at playing is no longer enough when the difference in terms of experience and equipment between us and our opponents becomes too pronounced.

As said, the heroes available at the moment are more than 100, 102 to be exact, but in the future the total will reach 112. Each hero has four skills, three common with four degrees of enhancement and a "final" with only three levels (selectable at hero experience level 6, 11 and 16); some are passive while others are active. Although the heroes can be broadly classified according to their role and function in battle, a bit like a common role-playing game, each character's four abilities are unique, so each one offers mechanics and very different gaming experiences. Even learning about their animations and attack speed to deliver creeps a hit takes time and effort. This not only makes Dota 2 extremely varied, but also decidedly complex, more than the average of modern games is nowadays. Fully mastering a hero is already in itself a process that requires a not inconsiderable amount of games (which varies from our individual ability and the complexity of the individual hero), but knowing your character is useless if you do not have the slightest idea at the same time of what other heroes do, whether they are on our team or among our opponents. The amount of possible combinations between 102 heroes is enormous, so it is easy to imagine how each game could potentially hold huge surprises, and this makes you quickly forget that you are always playing on the same, unique map.