WordFight! Dota 2 Edition

As we were discussing our Game of the Year, there was one game that came up again and again: Dota 2. Yes, many of the crew have invested literally hundreds of hours in to it, and it is taking money both for cosmetic items and access to the game, however it is still in Beta. Thus, it is technically ineligible for consideration as 2012’s Game of the Year. But what about when it finally exits beta and becomes a complete free-to-play game? Will it be in consideration for 2013’s GOTY, or, considering Valve’s track record, 2014’s GOTY?

Jason said his piece yesterday, but there are many others on the NG+ crew who want to contribute their two cents to this particular WordFight.

Shane, the Radiant

This year has been a bit strange for me, as I haven’t played too many new games. At the start of the year, I was accepted into the beta of a particular game, one that I have now become a drug addict to. This game is of course Dota 2, a very competitive game that, hopefully, should be released in full next year.

Dota 2 has a very mixed opinion in the NG+ group. Some have jumped onto the addiction with open arms, some have watched from a distance in horror as the few of us who do play get sucked into this massive black hole. The thing that grabs you nearly instantly is the massive competitive angle which this game holds; some are drawn to it, while some are repulsed by it.

It’s also such an emotionally draining game. If you are doing amazingly, but the rest of your team is terrible, it can be such a horrible feeling. And that’s one problem with this game, because it’s such a heavy team based game, you really need to have a five man party to feel even with the other team. And it is a very hard game to just pick up, as there is a large amount of mechanics and strategies that need to be taught before you have a simple understanding of the game.

Winning though, can be one of the best feelings ever, that’s why it is commonly referenced as a drug. It has its ups and downs. And getting a team wipe or doing a great initiation in a team fight that causes the winning push, that’s your up.

Although Dota 2 probably won’t win GOTY next year, for many reasons, you should give it a go when you have the chance. It is a game that many will dislike, due to the learning curve and very intricate mechanics, but if you do get a grasp on the game, it will stick with you for many years to come.

Jamie, the Dire

Dota 2 is the game of the moment here at New Game Plus. Night upon night, the more familiar first-person shooters or fighters are dropped in lieu of creeps and lanes, not to mention the discussions that inevitably turn to Dota talk. It’s a game that I both cannot wrap my head around, nor find anything interesting within it.

Let me clarify: I can appreciate competitive gaming as a whole. I’m not the biggest supporter or stream monster, but it’s something that I can get behind. And hell, it never ceases to amaze me that a game such as Dota 2, one that technically hasn’t been fully released yet, has become one of the most popular video games in the world, thanks in no small part to Valve, of course.

My problem with Dota 2 is that it may very well be one of the most intimidating games ever created, especially if you’re new to the genre. For those who don’t understand, allow me to explain. MOBA games are known for their rather large character rosters; Dota 2, in particular, currently features a roster of 95 selectable characters. And if you’re playing it for the first time, this screen flashes at you and you’re given a brief time to pick a character, none of whom you know anything about. How must that feel?

The closest comparison I can make is with, of all games, Marvel vs Capcom 2. Imagine this scenario: You’ve agreed to play the game with a friend of yours who has some experience with the game, but you’ve never seen it. The closest you’ve come to it is that infamous Mahvel Baybee video. You’re then rushed by the character select screen, and you have got no idea who to pick. You don’t know who’s an easy character to use, you don’t know the specifics of the assist system, all you might know is “that character looks cool, so I’ll pick them,” which is no real way to pick a character (I beg to differ –ed).

It’s the kind of game where you need to do a tonne of external reading to find the character for you, since the only real way to find a character that’s good for you is experimentation. And since it’s a game best played online, you won’t really know how well characters will do in specific situations until you try and try again, finding the character that suits you. Most people don’t have the time to do this. I know I barely do.

For a rather large mindset of people out there, Dota 2 is the game of the moment. And more power to ‘em. But for my money, I’d rather hear more about a Valve sequel with a ‘three’ in the title. That sounds more interesting to me.

Donald, the Creep Neutral

I want to try to get into Dota 2. The passion in which the community, and the NG+ crew in particular, speak of the game is infectious, and I have had fun with the few instances I’ve played of the game. But I’m not quite sure if Dota 2 wants me in.

Jamie hit it on the nail before: Dota 2, and all MOBA games really, are utterly impenetrable. Just listening to people commentate or even comment about it  feels like listening to a skipping audio CD of the English dictionary — I understand the individual words these people are using, but what they are saying makes no freaking sense.

But the same statement would apply to every other good competitive genre, from fighting games to first person shooters to e-mail chess. Each one is but a pile of mechanics, strategies and pre-fabricated moves that I can barely wrap my head around.

The difference with the MOBA community is that it is very quick to anger. Maybe it’s the emotional highs these games conjure, maybe it’s because games can go on for hour-long stretches, but there’s something about these games which make people even louder and abusive than the most foam-mouthed of talkback radio hosts.

But it is the aforementioned emotional highs that make me want to persist with Dota 2. Seeing your team band together to plow through your opponent’s structures — even if, in my case, those opponents are ‘Easy’ AI bots — is always satisfying. Even individual moments, like somehow escaping from four or five enemies with only a sliver of health intact, stick with me more than anything Black Ops II has so far provided.

I will continue to try to understand Dota 2 in spite of the numerous and vocal obstacles. I know it won’t be Game of the Year when it finally comes out of beta, but if Valve delivers on its promises of tutorials and coaches, and if the community can get of its high-and-mighty milk crate, then Dota 2 might very well place highly.

WordFight! is an opportunity for the NG+ crew to debate hot-button topics. If you want to see a particular issue debated, send us a Facebook message or send us an email.

[Image credits: ValveDemigod forums (User: Lyrad13)]