Why I like but Don’t Love Dota 2

So as a writer, you have to be fairly good at research. That’s just a given. As a writer for an eSports website, you have to know a lot about Dota 2, which I sort of did. But I never actually played it. Until this weekend.

The tutorial

As a self-proclaimed awful gamer, I have to confess that if a game is even remotely complex it is a massive turn off for me. I know it’s not a very progressive approach but if a game is complex it better contain a tutorial of some kind. Fortunately, in the case of Dota 2, it does.

The first steps of the tutorial are pretty straightforward and teach you how to move your character. Once you have mastered that it progresses to your basic attacks and then talks you through using the shop. Once you have completed those simple steps the training wheels are off and your goal is to take out one of your opponent’s towers.

In at the deep end

I’ll admit that the tutorial does a good job of introducing you to the meat and potatoes of the game. But then you are placed into a bot match. Using the techniques you used in the tutorial and a small amount of gaming knowledge it is perfectly winnable. And I, in fact, did win this first training game, albeit with blind luck. Here’s the thing you see. For all, it’s great qualities when you have a multiplayer game its vital that players learn the ropes properly.


Learn by doing

Perhaps its churlish to be critical of the game for not holding the hands of new players. After all, we live in an era where educational establishments are espousing a growth mindset. Should we, therefore, be more open to figuring it out by ourselves? Well no, actually. This isn’t education. This is entertainment and there is nothing entertaining about playing with a noob who hasn’t properly learned the game.

Plans in place

Of course from what I understand there is a system whereby when you start playing in live matches it tracks your performances and puts you in with players on a similar level to yourself. Unfortunately, this has given way to smurfing. If you are unfamiliar with this process it has nothing to do with players dressing in blue body paint, mores the pity. Basically, it’s where a skilled player creates an alt account just in order to score easy wins against noobs. This makes it incredibly frustrating for new players.

Still good value

Here’s the thing though. Dota is free to play. And while certain players take advantage there is a system to try and make sure that games are balanced. You can’t well blame the game devs for people playing the system. And as for the tutorial…I personally feel they could add to their gamer base if they took their time to develop the early
stages of the game.

As a newbie, I was struck by the colourful graphics, the smooth and engaging gameplay. In many ways, it reminded me of some of my favourite strategy games from yesteryear, perhaps unsurprising given the routes of MOBAs. However, despite this, and despite it being easy to pick up wins against bots I’m not sold on it. I don’t want to have to research the more advanced features. I want the game to show me. And of course, I could just watch more Dota eSports tournaments, to be fair the game is incredibly watchable. But should I really have to? On this occasion, I’m going to say nay. I’ll stick to my classic Age of Empires. Thanks.

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