In our first test for Dota 2, we particularly criticized the steep learning curve and the lack of entry aids. With the official server start Valve has meanwhile added an extensive tutorial. Highest railroad for a control visit. The counter on the official Dota 2 page shows us almost four million players. The multiplayer strategy game (the genre umbrella term “MOBA” for “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena”, coined by the rival League of Legends, is frowned upon in the Dota community) was in beta for more than two years – and even after its official release in July 2013, it really can’t complain about missing players.
The developer Valve does not reinvent the wheel at all: Dota 2 is basically “only” a very good clone of the first Dota with up-to-date graphics and meaningful detail improvements like the matchmaking system. However, the enormous tactical depth and the varied battles between hero five teams remain untouched. We always start from scratch, have to adapt individually to our opponents and adapt cleverly to our own team. Attention, flexibility, teamwork and the feeling for the right moment: You hardly find more dynamics in any other competitive game, even watching is fun.
We already tested Dota 2 in the beta phase because the real money shop was already activated. After the official start in July 2013 we have Dota 2 now in the control visit, by which also the rating changes. Here we go to the original test of Dota 2.
A heart for newcomers
But Dota always had to struggle with one problem: The learning curve is more of a learning cliff, and if you don’t spend hours studying Let’s Play videos or online tutorials, then you stand in front of the mountain like the proverbial ox. Just click on “Play” and hope that everything will be self-explanatory?
- When jumping into the cold water we can be sure that we will land painfully: The sometimes very unfriendly community hardly forgives mistakes and expresses its displeasure about “Noobs” accordingly, which often leads to new players preferring another hobby.
- Valve wanted to counter this problem offensively – and has partly managed to do so. With the official release, the developers have included a comprehensive tutorial that is intended to sand down the learning clip and ensure a relaxed atmosphere so that unsuspecting newcomers no longer stumble into multiplayer battles without a plan.
This tutorial is divided into six stations. “Mechanics 1” teaches us, for example, how to move, attack, use talents, procure items, or what the ominous “Last Hit” is all about. The second part of the mechanics tutorial explains how courier animals transport items, what defensive towers are for, and how we teleport ourselves.
The rough game sequence and the goal of the whole (“Destroy the enemy base!”) are presented to the newcomer afterwards in an overview video. Similarly small but pleasantly detailed, Valve lets us compete hero against hero on a single lane (one of the three attack routes of the Dota map) and teaches us how this lane principle works in Dota 2. Have we understood? Then off to a few practice matches.
With the Mid-Lane we learn to destroy enemy towers and to protect our own. With the Mid-Lane we learn to destroy enemy towers and to protect our own.
On the “Middle Lane” we train the attack on towers and the defense of our own. We continue with Bot-Matches, five of them are on the program, before we are thrown into special matches against players who are on the same tutorial level.
In spite of all the effort, the learning clip isn’t removed to such an extent that one could speak of a gentle introduction – Dota2 is too complex for that anyway. But: Who plays the Tutorial attentively and the Tipps heedfully, knows afterwards nevertheless, how it goes – and can now make itself on it to learn the subtleties. Because we don’t learn the really vital strategies in real team-versus-team battles through tutorials or Let’s Play videos: Dota 2 requires practice, practice, practice.
Theoretically, there would be a second possibility to turn newcomers into regular players much faster: the mentoring system originally announced by Valve. Old hands are supposed to reach beginners with live tips during the games under the hero arms. Newcomers, for example, often miss the right time for a so-called “tower dive” – if the mentor comes with the attack command at the right moment, the newbie learns the game’s crucial timing.
That would be more valuable than grey theory or relatively boring practice rounds against (by the way very good) bots. But what has been promised for a long time, exists even after the server start only as a grayed out button in the menu. After all, this button indicates that the topic is not completely off the table.
During the beta phase, further practical aids were added. The guide system offers the possibility to study all heroes extensively. Not only their values are given here, but also the roles they are suitable for – very helpful to make a preselection.
The item system will also become the location for our next ultimate hero: For example, we pack the witch Lina with mana regeneration and damage boosters and fire the creeps into the eternal hunting grounds – until we meet an enemy player who pushes us with Zeus in passing such a lot of magic damage that our equipment idea is simply pulverized.
- But once we’ve done our homework and put a lot of strain on the guide system, Plan B is already underway: We’ll saddle up for magic resistance items.
- Already friend Zeus is only doing a third of his damage and we’re celebrating revenge.
- By the way, if we are convinced that we have produced a particularly great build, then we can not only save it for ourselves, but also publish it in the Steam Cloud and make it available to other players.
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