|Release: TBA 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Sean Engemann
Dota 2 is a game that's certainly able to maintain a presence in the mainstream. Any RTS or RPG buff worth their salt knows exactly what Dota 2 is, and has been watching the gaming headlines every day for a release date, keeping those skills honed with the mod that started the craze. With new information hitting the game's official blog weekly (sometimes more often), tournaments popping up, and legal issues keeping our teeth clenched, there's certainly no shortage of drama with this highly anticipated title.
In an attempt to separate itself from copyright battles, it wouldn't be entirely accurate to call Dota 2 a sequel at all. The original DotA, or Defense of the Ancients, was a mod built off Blizzard's Warcraft III. With head designer IceFrog of the original game working for Valve, Dota 2 is attempting to keep the gameplay intact, only branding it differently, thus we have things like the factions changed from Sentinel and Scourge to Radiant and Dire.
Everything else you love about the format will find its way into this new title, with a bunch of crucial social tools and extra nifty perks to be included. A full slate of at least 108 heroes will be in a pool for you to choose from. However, in order to hustle the release date, not all may be available at launch, but there will still be a sizeable chunk.
Each hero is part of the Radiant or Dire faction, and is stationed in a particular attribute category, either Strength, Agility, or Intelligence. You can level up your hero to a cap of twenty-five, gaining skill points in exclusive abilities and ultimate powers. Collecting gold and arming your hero with items will also heighten the customization available.
Of course, you could easily say that the game structure is simple, the goal being to send your hero on a journey from one corner of the arena in order to destroy the enemy's Throne. But if that's your expectation when you finally sit down with Dota 2, then you're in for a rude awakening. The amount of strategy and teamwork required for you to be even competent on the battlefield will have you yearning for sagely advice.
Fortunately, Dota 2 is far less intimidating for newcomers than its predecessor. First, Matchmaking will place you against opponents close to your own skill level. There are also many options for spectating matches, such as following heroes, suggesting items, and even commending other players. Looking for some personal help? There will be a robust tutorial filled to the brim with basic and advanced strategies, and even a coaching system that allows recruiters who see sparks of talent in newbs to guide them to victory.
The playing field will also be one of familiarity, with a choice of three lanes to march towards your goal, all fraught with creeps and enemy towers that you'll destroy to claim a gold and power boon. With a team of up to four other players for support, ganking will still be an applauded approach, and nearby allies will receive experience when an enemy is defeated. Last Hitting and Denying your opponents will also weigh heavily on the outcome of the battle, so I suggest you brush up on your slang and how to best implement these strategies before diving into the fray.
Fortunately, Valve's Steam network (where the game will be exclusively available for digital download) will free players from having to use third-party voice chatting, as it will have its own social tools available. Dota 2 will also look much better thanks to Valve's Source engine, going the extra mile with elements like cloth modeling to give materials a natural flow onscreen. Even Warcraft III composer Jason Hayes, along with Tim Larkin (another great composer in the video game field), has been enlisted to bring a full orchestral score to the game.
If there is one thing Dota 2 sparks more than anything, it is the perfect implementation of competitive and cooperative gameplay, so sublime that even PvP fanatics are enraptured by the addiction to play just one more round. I don't doubt tournaments will be easy to find, and hopefully online ladders and remote tourneys will be plentiful as well. We are all praying that the closed beta ends soon, and that the legal scuffle with Blizzard does not halt that official release. For now, though, we are keeping our fingers tightly crossed until we hear the good word.
CCC Contributing Writer