It was many years ago with Warcraft III that the original Defense of the Ancients mod was conceived, and its popularity exploded within the community. So, it was interesting to see how Blizzard was working to follow up on that success with their official Blizzard DOTA mod, being designed for Starcraft II.
The design they went for with the mod is similar to that held by their other products: easy to play, difficult to master. Right as soon as I jumped into the game with my other four teammates, I noticed the ease of access the game mode allowed. All the commands I had at my disposal were shown on the UI, clear as day, with their appropriate hotkeys labeled on top of them. Your four abilities for your character are conveniently located on the Q, W, E, and R keys, with items on the four numerical keys above. You also have the obligatory Return command, for getting back to your base, and each character also has access to a mount, to get to the front lines faster. Of course, my main problem was hitting the keys for my items when I wanted to use an ability instead, but that’s more of a human error area. Damn clumsy fingers.
Now, mind you I’ve only played a grand total of two individual games of League of Legends, and that was on some other guy’s laptop. Regardless, I was able to pick things up fairly quickly with Blizzard DOTA in regards to how to progress, where to go, etc. Important landmarks such as towers and creep camps are clearly marked on your map, so you don’t have to go searching for them for very long, and the maps themselves are fairly easy to maneuver around, while still maintaining enough paths to launch surprise assaults on unsuspecting enemies.
Blizzard also put in some other factors to make the game more accessible. For example, games work under a 30 minute time limit, a decision they clarified on during the respective panel. The reasoning is largely because they didn’t want individual rounds to last for extended periods of time. Anyone who saw the DOTA 2 tournament a few months back and noticed matches lasting for longer than an hour likely know about this. Our match ended up going the full 30 minute duration, and even then we ended up getting a tie game. It really was that close.
One of the other things I noticed is how characters don’t need to necessarily focus on killing enemy players in order to support their team. When I was trying to figure out what I should be doing, I ended up going out into the center field and finding the mercenary camps that were in various locations. Soloing these camps was no trouble at all for me, and capturing them allowed some of our minion units to be replaced by more powerful ogre ones. I also took out a couple creep camps, obtaining some interesting Yeti summon items that added for lane control. Both actions helped to give us an edge. Since I don’t necessarily aim for having high kill counts when I play these kinds of games, it was nice to know that my efforts to be a team player weren’t being ignored. And, like the time limit, these tactics are also intended to help bring a quicker end to games, rather than risking getting stuck in a stalemate.
On my playtime, I picked up the Witchdoctor, who comes over from the upcoming Diablo III. In BDOTA, he’s been converted to a Siege class, one that focuses on destroying groups and towers, but is fairly fragile in close quarters combat. Indeed, Frog Swarm and his zombie circle attacks did their jobs in dealing a healthy amount of damage to minions, and his normal attack gives him a lot of range. Against other players, though, I ended up needing some support from my team. Even against enemy towers, despite being a siege unit, he felt a bit weak, since the frogs had a limited range they could travel in, and the zombies did less damage to structures. His health draining move was also subpar, as the health/mana gained from its use seemed negligible, and Locust Swarm, despite being his supposed best attack, wasn’t as damaging as it should be, even against minions.
Meanwhile, my teammates for the game were talking about how incredibly strong Nova, a DPS class character, was. I definitely recall seeing one of the guys playing as her wiping out the entire enemy forces at one point in the match. I may have missed a couple ways to boost my own damage capabilities, but, it might not hurt to take another look at how balance is coming along once everything else is set.
All in all, the game is really shaping up nicely, with the similar snarky Blizzard humor fans know and love, and the accessibly the company has made themselves known for. And if a DOTA newbie like me can be able to grasp things fairly well, then I imagine veterans should be able to create some intense matches in the foreseeable future.