Dota 2 is one of the three premier MOBA games on the market right now, with League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm, respectively. It is currently the highest paid game in eSports history with last year’s tournament, The International 5, having a prize pool capping at a whopping $18 million dollars. Its daily active player base hovers around 600,000 to 1.3 million at its peak. What makes players continue to come back?
For one, the variety of heroes is enormous — 111 different heroes, each with unique abilities and different play styles. Each hero has a different role, those roles being carry, support, and jungler or any combination of those three. A carry hero needs a lot of farm (gold), but is very strong, hard to kill, and carries the team to victory; a support hero sets heroes up with easy farm, requires good decision making and buys items that highly support the team as a whole such as animal/flying courier, and sentry/observer wards; junglers are heroes that can focus on stacking gold in the jungle, but can also act as a support as needed.This makes for an incredibly diverse lineup and depending on how you set up your team, and some have the capacity to have dual roles throughout the course of a match. For example, I’ve seen matches where players use Omniknight who is a support hero that focuses on healing his allies, warding (giving vision throughout the fog of war). At the mid-match point, with the right items, the player can change her or his role to that of an carry, steamrolling the enemy with overwhelming strength using Omni’s slowing skills, and shielding skills effectively in team fights. The flexibility and inventiveness of a competent player can bring a team from the brink of utter defeat to an incredibly satisfying win.
In addition to the vast amount of heroes, there are easily over a hundred items to pick and build depending on what hero you play, and how you’d like to counter the enemy team. What best counters a magic damage based hero, do you want to go for a damage build or a defensive build, do you build an item that increases your critical percentage? All of these elements factor in creating an incredibly layered gameplay, and builds upon the flexibility of the heroes. It gives way for experimentation, seeing what best works for your play style and what helps lead your team to victory.
The skill involved in playing Dota 2 effectively at a competent level (and at high, professional levels) is what makes the game truly shine. The learning curve of the game is incredibly steep; mouse control, when and where to use your skills, laning properly, stopping the creep wave at the right juncture, even the minutia of when to run away from an enemy vastly helps your chances at playing well. Some would argue that the game’s steep learning curve drives accessibility out the window, but that is simply not the case. More and more players have come to enjoy the challenge of a difficult game, if Dark Souls and Bloodbourne are any indication of that.
Communication is a key part of playing well. This is simply not a game where you alone are the light to victory. Whether you have a headset, or simply want to type out to your friends or allies, it would do you well to not stay silent. Coordinating attacks, suggesting items to build, or simply complimenting a person’s play, all of this is necessary to win matches, and have a good time overall. Bringing all of these elements together make for an incredibly satisfying experience that many games claim to make, but never live up to the hype.
If you’re looking to get into Dota 2 and don’t know where to start, I highly suggest you to check out Purge’s vast informational guide website: Welcome to Dota, You Suck, and check out his YouTube channel. Personally, I’ve learned a lot watching his videos, and reading his guide. Pyrion Flax is another player that is just hilarious to watch on Twitch, and his YouTube guides to heroes are one of the funniest things I’ve watched. Watch pro-level matches, and really get a feel for what high level gameplay is.
Dota 2 is such a rewarding gaming experience; you would do yourself a favor to download the game (it’s free) play with bots, invite some friends, play a few matches in and join in on the fun. It’s worth it, I promise.