Blizzard DOTA Preview
We charge into battle with Blizzard’s latest gem
What would you think of a game where your one goal would be to team up with your fellow players and rush an enemy base zerg-style? If that sounds like your kind of game, welcome to Blizzard: DoTA.
DoTA (or Defense of The Ancients) was originally a custom scenario made for Warcraft III, in which you chose a hero and defended a structure known as an Ancient in the middle of your base. Rather than worry about resource management or unit production as in a regular match, the AI would continuously spawn friendly units that would troop across the map towards your enemy’s base. It was a game that quickly amassed a huge following, and even spawned professional tournaments and similar games such as League of Legends and Demigod. Blizzard quickly realized the pull of DoTA, and to the delight of fans announced Blizzard DoTA at last year’s BlizzCon. This year at BlizzCon, Blizzard confirmed that development on the title was still underway, and allowed gamers to try their hand at a quick 5v5 match with some of Blizzard’s most well known heroes.
I slid into my seat, donned my headset, nodded to my teammates, and dove into the game. We were given twelve heroes to choose from, divided into Tank, Siege, DPS, and Support categories, with three heroes in each. There are familiar faces from both the Warcraft and Starcraft universe, and I opted to play as a Support hero and chose Tassadar. As a support unit, he was able to cast a protective shield, throw up a temporary force wall, generate an electric storm to slow enemies, and create clones to distract units. Gameplay is very straightforward – AI controlled units rush towards the enemy base at the other corner of the map, attempting to destroy guard towers and other enemy units they come across. The more enemies and heroes you defeat, the more experience you gain, and as you level up you can unlock more powers or upgrade your current ones. If you die, you simply wait for 30 seconds and respawn at your base. You also have access to a little shop at your base that sells all kinds of trinkets and potions to aid you in battle. Everything from health potions to regeneration rings are available, and can be bought for gold earned through the game. The shop interface is simple and easy to navigate, with each item’s benefits being clearly spelled out. Also scattered through the map are mercenary camps – capturing these camps will add new units to your army, so controlling these spots are crucial to winning the match. Your heroes also have access to their own unique mount to quickly rush back into battle – my ‘mount’ was a spherical vehicle that instantly dismissed when I began attacking.
While DoTA sounds like quite a casual game, the result is very different. The action is very hectic as the heroes move around the map, and you are always in a race to quickly level up your hero to turn the tide of battle. The variety of heroes available ensures that there’s a character that appeals to everyone, and even favorites like Kerrigan are a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. And while your AI units are more than capable of taking care of themselves, they become more effective when accompanied by a hero for extra firepower so they can press forward. The various defense towers of course take time to break through, but there’s an innate feeling of satisfaction in watching an enemy tower crumble to the ground.
Graphically the game looks great – the heroes are all modeled well and the various special abilities are all animated well. Even with several heroes duking it out and units swarming the screen, the action never stuttered or got choppy, which is crucial when playing such a game, as even a second of delay or lag can result in you being wiped off the map. The in-game audio features a discrete soundtrack and plenty of character voice-overs, and a handy narrator occasionally quips in to update you on the status of your battle.
With Blizzard: DoTA being an official mod for Starcraft II, it will tap into Battle.net to connect players and match up both veteran and new DoTA players. It’s an ambitious little project that Blizzard has been working on, and the results so far look very promising. Stay tuned for beta information, as this is one Blizzard game you want to get your claws on!