Video Game Review: Dota 2

Details: Initially released in 2013, but constantly updated and patched. I have almost 1600 hours clocked into this game. You can play for free through Steam platform on the PC. Current patch is 7.06c. Internet connection is required.

A while back I wrote a lengthy post on Dota 2, but I never gave it a review. A few years have passed and I think it’s about time I gave it a score. Given the constant patches coming out, I’ll try to go a little into the current state of the game. I also plan to write reviews for the other MOBA’s where I’ll go into what differentiate each game from the others, but since this is the first MOBA review, I won’t really do too much of that here.

Dota 2 is a MOBA or a multiplayer online battle arena game. Like other games in this genre, you get two teams of (usually) five players each who play against one another on a map. The goal is to destroy your opponents’ base. Each player picks a unique character from a pool of characters with their own spells and abilities and attempt to push with continuously spawning waves of computer controlled units.

Like all MOBA’s, Dota 2 is incredibly complex. There are a lot of characters in the pool to choose from and the synergies, counters, and interactions between these unique characters differ in each case. For instance, one character has a spell where he freezes time in an area for a short time while letting him move freely in that area. Another character can turn themselves into a phoenix egg and a timer starts before they explode and are reborn, damaging and stunning all character in the nearby area. If the two spells from the two characters are used in conjunction the damage given out to any enemy character is enormous. If this sounds complex, then just know that this is the tip of the iceberg in regards to complexity in Dota 2.

Another aspect of Dota 2 that adds to its complexity is that it is a team game. You cannot win without cooperation from your team and, at higher level of the game, each team has required roles that need to be filled in order to be optimal and win. This isn’t unique to MOBA’s though. If you’ve ever played a sport or participated in any other group activity, then you can imagine the frustration as well as the elation you can get from either succeeding or failing in working with others.

Regardless of potential frustrations, this complexity is really the most attractive aspect of Dota 2 and other MOBA’s. I know of no other genre of video game that requires the level of memorized knowledge and teamwork that MOBA’s require. The only other game I can think of is Counter-Strike, but that game has arguably evolved into a kind of MOBA with a first person shooting focus.

Something else that needs to be mentioned is the price of this game. A distinction that Dota 2 has and other games in this genre do not have is that all gameplay elements are free to play. Dota 2 is completely free to play. Dota 2 only makes money off of cosmetics. This is a distinction that games like League of Legends or Heroes of the Storm do not participate in. Those games require time invested into the game or real money spent in order to unlock game features, forcing player who don’t pay or play many hours to play at a disadvantage. In Dota 2, the core game has remained free despite the many years that have passed. Everyone plays on equal ground form the start and has access to everything. The only distinguishing factor among players is skill… and the skill of your teammates.

Relatively recently Dota 2 has begun periodically releasing Battle Passes, which are unlockable cosmetic items that you have to pay money for, usually around ten dollars. After you pay money, you still have to play the game a long time in order to unlock those cosmetic items or pay more real money. This amount can be in the hundreds of dollars. It’s important to note that this is unnecessary to playing the game. Worth noting is that, with the most recent Battle Pass, actual missions which unlock unique cosmetic items have been bundled with the Battle Pass, which means that if you don’t purchase the Battle Pass, you won’t get these quests, which sucks. Additionally, one of the main draws of these Battle Passes is that a portion of that money goes towards the prize pool of professional Dota 2 tournaments. Dota 2 tournaments boast the highest prize pools of any video game tournament. The first place prize is often in the millions, causing a substantial number of Dota 2 players to actually be millionaires. It’s a nice attraction for those who enjoy watching professional Dota 2 being played.

There are ranked games as well and that’s where I spend most of my time, trying to increase my overall rank and score. In regards to technical aspects of the game the game looks pretty good. It is not a graphically taxing game, but it still looks pretty good. I don’t see them upgrading the game any time soon because the low system requirements of the game help with accessibility, allowing players with less powerful computers to play the game.

Additionally, the community that plays this game is notoriously toxic. Dota 2 is a free game that is one of the most popular games in the world. That means you are going to play with a lot of jerks from a lot of countries. This isn’t a game for people with thin skin.

Overall, Dota 2 is an incredibly complex game that is a lot of fun to play if you’re willing to invest the time. Dota 2 is also mostly free. At the very least, Dota 2 is more free than any of the other game in this genre, more free than any game that it competes with. The quests that are a part of the Battle Pass are not essential and you can easily live without them. It’s much harder to resist buying an outfit that makes a character look cooler. I’ve invested much of my life in this game and I know of no game that has taken as much or has given as much back. There is literally no other game genre that has been as rewarding as this genre or as this game. I recommend everyone give Dota 2 a try and if you don’t like, I wholeheartedly encourage you to walk away from it as well.

Score: 8.5/10

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