I’ve always enjoyed multiplayer gaming experiences far more than single player ones, with some few notable exceptions. It is therefore my custom to try and stay aware of the current gaming community, especially on the net, since that is where the best gossip eventually becomes information.
So, when I heard that there was going to be a second Defense of the Ancients (DotA)installment, I was very excited to try it out. Sadly, I was not able to get ahold of a playable version yet, but there’s a wellspring of news on it and I set forth on the internet to scour and devour whatever I could find on the subject. Was it just a rumor or was it, in fact, something real in the works? I had to find out.
You may be sitting there, scratching your proverbial head and wondering why you should care about this DotA thing, whatever it is. That’s easy to understand, especially if you’re not much into playing games in general or PC games in particular. Perhaps you are a gamer and just, somehow, never played Defense of the Ancients. In either case, I will fill you in a bit on it before talking about its sequel. There’s actually a rich and detailed history behind it, as with anything worth one’s time and attention, but I will try to make this the short version…
Long ago, in the dark ages of gaming, a great new era began when a game called “Warcraft: Orcs & Humans” hit the gaming world and the general populace alike with a massive force. Many of the concepts in this game were new, many were polished versions of long held traditions, but the end result was an undeniable success, and the Blizzard gaming empire rose on the backs of the various characters and creatures featured in their slam hit game. It was a somewhat new thing, called a “Real Time Strategy” in which the player took the role of managing resources, troops, combat tactics, etc. All of this was wrapped in a neat, almost cute package that had just the right amount of gore represented (we gamers were far less voracious in our demands for blood n gore in our games back then) along with some very amusing points. There was even a well written story and a whole world’s history and mythology. It was, in short, a revolutionary success in the gaming world.
Warcraft spawned a sequel, then a spin-off called StarCraft that satisfied the gamer’s need for sci-fi alongside the fantasy slot fulfilled by Warcraft. Then, another sequel, “Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos” and there were expansions for that as well. A host of other games, like World of Warcraft for example, were also big hits for Blizzard. The rich world in which Warcraft’s games were played out allowed for great storytelling and this was a big pull for me, at least. The world was so rich, detailed and popular with more than the average gamer, that a South Park episode was devoted to the World of Warcraft game. With such a success, there was bound to be a big fan response, and the gaming community did not disappoint. A user-created level, scenario or “map” was eventually created, called “Defense of the Ancients” and it was a near-immediate underground hit. It gathered more and more fans and followers, and eventually was even recognized by Blizzard officially as a good thing, not an infringement (as so many user-made mods or additions can be with some companies). Defense of the Ancients was so popular, in fact, that the highly successful free MMO called “League of Legends” was inspired by it, and has been wildly popular to this day, relatively speaking. Both DotA and LoL have a way of mixing RPG and RTS elements, with a touch of tower defense type play as well, such that it is a delicate balance that works brilliantly, in the end result. DotA 2 can be expected to be similar, one would think, without even doing any research.
So, now you have a general idea of where this DotA thing started, and what this Warcraft thing meant to the gaming community. All of that taken into account, Defense of the Ancients II (working title?) has the power and promise to be a great and wonderfully fun success, or an equally abysmal and disappointing failure. It’s not one of those things that will fly in under the radar, it’s going to make a big splash one way or another.
So what can we look forward to in the DotA sequel? Well, the original DotA was created by the players and users of the Warcraft III game, by the sequel is being developed by the famed Valve company. Valve has brought us such major gaming gems as, “Half-Life” and “Team Fortress Classic”. As well as being big supporters of the online multiplayer world, valve is well known for bringing great stories to life in a unique way. This bodes well for the DotA sequel, in terms of the quality and playability we might expect to see. While the first DotA was basically a Frankenstein’s monster of a map, stitched and cobbled together, changed, edited and re-edited over and over again by the users (also called modders in this case), the sequel will be coming from a very experienced, successful, and talented professional company and will be available for both Windows and Mac based computers.
From what I can see in screenshots and other available media, the game looks quite nice, graphically. The images are sharply rendered without being overly complex and are pleasing to the eye. Not much else I can say about it visually, just yet, though. I am dying to get into the game, especially so I can see what the other aspects are like, but that will have to wait. At first, the news I found for DotA 2 seemed to indicate it is in a closed Beta testing phase, which means there aren’t any invites being given out, but the announcement of the project in 2010 was accompanied by a scheduled release date sometime in 2012. So, I kept digging. One site showed me a series of announcements about updates to DotA2 and news about tournaments as late as April 20 2012. This meant, to me, that the game must be available somehow, right? So, finally, on a much more official DotA 2 web site, I found the words: “DotA 2 is expanding constantly, fill out the DotA 2 Survey in Steam to secure your place in the upcoming invitations.” So, without an invitation, I wasn’t able to do an in-depth investigation… yet. However, given the news I have seen, along with the screenshots, I can safely believe that the overall game mechanic will be very close to DotA or League of Legends, right down to much of the details. This will change, obviously, over time but it is what we can expect, I think, initially.
So, It would seem that Steam must be installed before you can play or even be invited to play DotA 2. So I downloaded and installed Steam, since it didn’t cost anything to do so. Given that Steam is merely the platform for Valve games, I didn’t expect the final installation to be a as large a file as it was but the .msi opened and the download went at a decent pace with broadband, and was followed by an automatic update that took only a couple minutes. The account creation was quick and free, as well. Now, this is where it got a bit trickier. Currently, they don’t just let you click a link and automatically download DotA 2, from what I can tell. According to the quote, above and in the screenshot, you have to take the survey about your experiences playing the first DotA, and then, hopefully, get and eventual invitation to join.
They are looking, they say, for a wide range of people to invite and will be sending out more and more of them in the coming months, so get on the ball, and check out the survey. Just answer honestly, and you could very well get and invitation to the current version. It’s not technically listed as a Beta, as near as I could tell, especially since they are holding tournaments, but it’s not open to just jump in and play like League of Legends is, either. Of course, all of that is as of the time and date of this posting, and could be subject to change without notice. I will make updates, on this post, including as many screenshots as possible, as more news comes my way, and in the meantime I have a survey to fill out! Below, I have included the relevant link to get you there as quickly as possible.
Until next time, my friends, keep watching for DotA 2 updates!