Warcraft 3 was, and remains, a very popular strategy game. Part of what made it so successful was the way it embraced user-created content. There have been numerous maps, mods, modes and mini-games over the years, but one stands out; DotA.
DotA was originally created on Starcraft, but didn’t pick up speed until a fan of the original map took it over to Warcraft 3. As The Frozen Throne came out with updated features, DotA transitioned over. Here, DotA found huge popularity and a cult eSports following.
Many games have since been made emulating DotA’s basic principle, and an entire genre has been created in its honor. MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games have grown at a phenomenal rate, and an example of success is League of Legends.
Enter DotA 2. The first true successor to the original custom map is currently in-development by Valve and in closed beta. More people are added frequently, with online numbers reaching around 30,000 people at any time of the day.
The basic concept is simple. 5 players per side pick a hero from an ever-increasing pool, and then proceed to attempt to destroy the enemy base. There are several mechanics at play that will shape your victory, or hasten your defeat. Killing enemy heroes and minions yield both experience (max level: 25) and money, which can be used to boost statistics.
Each hero has four abilities, and sometimes one or more of these are “passive” – persistent abilities to add effects to your attacks or buff another aspect of your character. The final of these abilities is an “ultimate,” typically a powerful spell on a long cooldown.
As you see in the video, the basic game principle is built upon with a variety of tactical choices, which makes no one game in DotA the same as another.
You can choose to form your own “inhouse” game with 9 of your friends, or play against bots, or queue in the matchmaking system by yourself or with up to 4 friends.
There are a number of different game types for you to play:
All Pick – All heroes are available to everyone. Pick your hero and attempt to win!
All Random – You will be randomly given one of the many heroes in the game, as will everybody else.
Single Draft – Of all the heroes available in DotA, you are randomly given three to choose from. Coordinate with your team, tell them who you have, and build the best team you can together.
Random Draft – You, your team, and the enemy team is given 20 heroes. All ten players share the same pool, and you can choose anybody you want from the available picks.
There are four hero types you can play:
Carry – These heroes start out very weak, but scale very well with items. They need a lot of “farm” (gold – obtained by killing minions or heroes) to be successful. These heroes will “carry” a team to victory if allowed to get strong enough.
Initatior – These heroes have mass disable abilities that can devastate the enemy team. These heroes go in first and unleash mass destruction, and have their teams clean up after.
Ganker – These heroes have high-damage abilities that can take a single target from 100% to very low health (or dead) in one chain of spells. This is why they are ideal for roaming the map and “ganking” (killing unexpecting enemies.) However, once their spells are used, they’re typically very vulnerable.
Support – These heroes typically do not need a lot of farm to be successful or effective, and as such their gold is better spent supporting their team with items like a courier (carries items to and from heroes) and wards (reveals an area of the map when placed.) Often have single-target stuns or slows to help the carry hero secure kills and get “fed” (lots of kills = lots of items.)
DotA has proved to be a lot of fun for many years, for many people. DotA 2 promises to carry this tradition on with improved visuals, an updated game engine, and a fair matchmaking system.