Playing Dota 2 for the first time is much like losing your virginity. You’re really looking forward to it, you’ve watched the videos and read all the articles and you think that it’ll be really, really good. But then you play it, and it doesn’t last as long as it should, everything’s happening at once, you're confused, disorientated and have no idea what’s going on. Afterward you have a strange feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on but you want to give it another try soon to see if it just went bad just one time. At least this was how my first game on Dota 2 went. I haven’t played Dota before and perhaps this is why I was so confused, but I have played a lot of League of Legends (LoL) and this did not prepare me in the slightest for what Dota 2 is like.
After several hours on the game it does start to make a little sense and you should be able to understand what’s going on and begin to contribute to the team you’re playing on, but the shop/secret shop and their internal working will always be a mystery to the player it seems. I can’t work out when it puts items into your stash even if there is room in your inventory. Although the stash is a useful little thing that wasn’t in LoL as it allows the player to store addition items. The difficulty and more complex system that Dota 2 implements, in comparison to LoL, is one of its strongest points as there is more to do, but also means that you can’t simply pick up and play the game. None the less if you are able to put some time aside to get to grips with Dota 2, and in particular if you find a Hero you like, then it is a very enjoyable game.
The game does look beautiful, the character animations are very nice, and the way that you are able to interact with the terrain is an excellent feature. There is already an extensive list of Heroes to choose from, and so far I’ve tried: Tiny, Dragon Knight, Doom Bringer, Skeleton King, Lifestealer, Sniper, Clinkz, Storm Spirit and Outworld Destroyer. All of these Heroes were equally fun to play as, and each as difficult to play. They all have their own special tactics that you have to implement in order to have a chance of winning. Once you have the basics down then it is easy enough to change to a different character, but due to the difference in abilities it does take a while to start to enjoy someone new. An important note about the Heroes is that although they do seem to be balanced, some of them are better at outright killing than others, but they all seem to play important roles and each have something that they can do well. Tiny in particular works very well late game, once he isn’t quite so tiny any more, and this does appear to depend very much on what items you have.
Going back to the shop again, assuming you’ve worked out how to use it, there are a vast number of items to choose from. This means that you are able to play most Heroes in which ever way you choose to. Naturally you can’t play and intelligence Hero and make him a strong attacker, but you can try - probably with moderate success. This does however have the disadvantage that I still spend a lot of time in the shop instead of paying attention to what is going on, which has led to many an unnecessary death. It also makes it difficult to decide which items would be best for your Hero but I guess this adds to the customisation of the Hero you choose, which is a good thing.
Back to the Heroes now, aside from the beautiful animation and general appearance of the Heroes, they also have reasonable voice work, and the general announcements that the game makes are very good; certainly more informative than other games of this genre I’ve played, which makes you aware of what else is going on. Whether a tower has been destroyed or a member of your team is on a killing spree, Dota 2 will let you know, and it sometimes uses bad language to let you know something exciting is going on. I think my favourite Hero so far is a tie between Sniper and Clinkz; Sniper is just great fun, I can think of nothing better to do in my spare time than role play a dwarven sniper with a fairly stylish pair of glasses. Clinkz on the other hand is a skeleton archer who I feel very attached too; his awful puns make me giggle, and I really like his third ability where he enters stealth-mode and has increased movement speed, which was particularly useful as my internet connection isn’t up to scratch and I was able to get away… sometimes.
There are a few wonderful features within the start menu, like being able to watch a game while it’s searching for a game. You can also access the main menu while in game, so if you have a few moments free you can read up on another Hero quickly. Which is another nice thing, it is very easy to go onto the learn page and read up on a characters abilities and, if you so wish, the lore behind them; it’s certainly easier to find than on League PLUS all the Hero are available from the off. I don’t know is this is just for the Beta but I really hope it stays that way. I like being able to play as any Hero whenever I like.
Controls! I presume that they are standard, abilities are assigned to Q,W,E and R for the most part. You right click to move, left click for the abilities (check that I get confused) and to look at stats of another character. One complaint that I have is the lack of a screen lock. You can’t stay focused over your character. There is a feature that allows you to focus on your character but the second you get close to the edge of the screen you go flying off screen lock and across the map which is a bit of a problem if that’s how you choose to play. We can only hope that this is something that will be included in release.
I’ve heard that this is going to be a free to play game, so it will be in direct competition with LoL. This is good for both games as they will need to cater to the community with regular updates and new maps. I’ve only seen one map on Dota 2; I don’t know if this is because there is only one map or because I haven’t been exploring the game types properly yet. Anyway, free to play and I have no idea how Valve intend to make money from this yet so that’s something to look forward to finding out, I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Overall I have to say that my encounter with Dota 2 was (is) an enjoyable one and one that I shall try and continue whenever the free time presents itself. The characters are wonderful and all great to try out and the number of them means that it will take some time to try them all. The graphics are the best I have seen for this style of game and it is just a joy to watch. I would say get this game, play this game, and be excited about Valve’s latest game, because once you get over the initiation confusion it is really good. If you are lucky enough to have a Beta key I hope you’re enjoying it, and if like be you were a LoL player and Dota 2 just confused you to the point where you shut it down never to be opened again, open it again and give it another go it’s worth it.