[Review] Defense of the Ancients 2 – Beta

 

Port needs to vent about something he’s been playing like a crack addiction. Thanks to the mighty all-knowing Sheriff (reading this boss man?), I got my greedy hands upon an invite to play some Defence of the Ancients (DotA) 2 beta, and I’ve to say, I am quite excited.

I played DotA for a while back in the day, and sad to say I was only mediocre at it, but got into a similar game Heroes of Newerth fairly early and play that compulsively, some would say obsessively.

For those who don’t know or need a little clarity, DotA is an action-real time strategy (RTS) game with strong RPG elements. It involves 5 versus 5 hero orientated gameplay where the object is to defend your base, and destroy your opponents’.

Unlike other RTS games, all the control you have is your hero; you control them, kills enemy units, heros and buildings for money and use that money to purchase a wide variety of equipment to own some n00bs with. Simple, and dangerously addictive!

 Some Technical Stuff

Bearing in mind that the game is still in its beta stage, but so far it’s looking pretty…pretty. Graphically it’s a huge leap from the old Warcraft3 engine; gone are the cartoonish designs and bright colours. Its all about realism.

The colour palette, especially for the ground and environment is focused more on natural looking colours and textures, as opposed to “grass is green, water is blue,” and comes across with a much more modern look. The big issue I have with this is that it brings a relatively seamless transition from the lanes into the jungles, and while this looks really good, I find myself curious as to sight and attack ranges from the lane to the jungle or vice versa.

Not having the clearly defined “this is where the lane ends” has led to a little bit of confusion. I’ve both over and under-estimated things several times now leading to much cursing and rage-filled vitriol.

 Servers

Something very interesting and a bit of a double edged sword, is the fact that DotA 2 boasts quite the wide array of server locations. It covers the (standard) US and Europe, but then also includes China, Hong Kong and south-east Asia. This is great news living in Australia, as you never run into issues with latency or frame rates, but at the same time, the majority of Asia, do not have English as their first language, and this is a problem sometimes, at least for me.

The other thing that got my proverbial feathers ruffled was that due to the awesome server variety, there’s no overlap on the timezones. Being the Cheetos-loving, Mountain Dew-swilling nocturnal creature that I am, I’ll often play until the wee hours of the morning but that becomes a little inconvenient on the SE Asia server.

Allow me to elaborate; in the hours of say, 4 until 9, lots of people are at home and there’s virtually no queue for a match and everything is fine. Come around 2am and most people will be in bed so the queue can be quite lengthy. It’s not a huge thing, but when you’re forced to play on US West as the best option available, you get both the people from where you are, and then the overlap from the States as well.

Waiting fifteen minutes for my DotA2 queue…First world problems right?

  Hero Selection

Another nice thing they have worked upon, is the hero selection process. Once everyone has loaded into the match, it then brings up the hero select screen, which is a welcome change as opposed to many other games selecting everything and then loading the game, which more often than not leads to people picking a hero, and then leaving or failing to connect, resulting in you having to play a team member down.

Granted, the game is still in the beta stage and they are still in the process of porting across all the heroes but how they’ve done the whole selection process remains overall a success. If someone fails to load or connect properly, you simply return to the main menu in the highest priority so there’s no wait time again.

The shop also got a rework and now its one menu with various tabs, instead of the absolute mess of three different vendors that it was in the original. Basically, what it should have been at the start; user friendly.

  Reconnection

Some small issues I did have though, included their reconnecting option. It’s great that they have included it, ’cause the original just plain sucked balls when you lost a player – but not so anymore!…If it actually worked properly. All the times I’ve disconnected, it’s never once been able to find the game to reconnect, and that’s assuming it does try after I click the option for it.

My one other problem I have, is the leaver problem. It was a huge thing in the original, as I just mentioned, but let’s face it, we do all have lives and things to do. Sometimes an emergency arises, there’s a power outage, whatever. If you “abandon” a game, you get branded with the Mark of the Leaver (nothing too sinister, really), but it essentially means you get placed into the lowest priority matchmaking.

For a twenty-four hour period. Now that’s just plain annoying. I had some real world stuff to deal with, and had to AFK in a game. Granted, the game was well and truly unwinnable at that point, but the fact that I abandoned the game, in their eyes, and got booted, means I was literally unable to play the matchmaking for the next day. Here’s hoping they tone that down a little, seems a bit severe to me.

 Verdict

7 / 10 stars           

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised, it’s nice to see the heroes of old brought back and looking awesome. The real thing is still a far way off, it’s been stated that the game won’t be released until all the heroes are ported over. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Obviously, I’d like to see the technical issues fixed, and maybe that leaver business addressed a little less dramatically, but it will be exciting to see how it does as it gets closer to that finished product!

ManBeast out!

Follow MrPort on Twitter here. For more MOBA games check out our interview with BreakyCPK from HoNcast.com over here.