By now, the MOBA genre (multiplayer online battle arena) is probably well-known among the wide gaming community. The most famous progenitor being Defense of the Ancients, the long-time Warcraft 3 map, and the next competitors were Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends – similar to varying degrees. Then we got Zynga’s Solstice Arena (very casual) and Guardians of Middle-earth (Lord of the Rings characters).
I’ve been a longtime DotA player, perfectly casual in my own right (mainly play against bots, as I would rather avoid too much contact with any of the communities). I consider DotA to be one of the most difficult, rewarding, and teamwork-oriented out there. There is not enough I can write about (or know, even) about the depth of hero synergy, the science of counterpicking, and finally the incredible split-second-decision-making skills and inhuman reflexes. I mean, if you’re skilled enough, you can dodge incoming spells if you’re a certain hero or with some items. Escape a group of heroes chasing you. Or use your abilities so well that your team owns the other one.
Valve’s DotA 2, the spruced-up, modern version of the W3 map, strange things have been happening. The game is free-to-play, and while you never have to pay a dime to access anything that impacts gameplay in the least, Valve keeps pumping out costumes, skins, and vanity equipment for the large hero cast. You can get some as random drops or just purchase them. In the past few months, in the fairly-frequent updates for the game, there’s been nothing but vanity items, but not that much game-affecting content. There are still about 20 heroes who haven’t been ported to new DotA. The last one was seen around this summer. Players have been calling the game stale, accusing the company of just milking money.
What’s more, the company, for the first year in DotA 2 history, missed the Halloween event, DireTide. A website like this popped up, displaying the fans’ dismay over Valve’s lack of action. Threads like this show up on the official forums. Jokingly, the players call the company Volvo, which actually led to confusion on social media:
— Volvo (@volvocarsglobal) November 2, 2013
Obviously, big props to Volvo for taking this in stride. What’s going on with Valve remains a mystery, which isn’t that often. DotA 2 is free, but fans have been pampered with a steady flow of content and patches. It would be great to finally see all the heroes come out. DireTide, described as an annual event, just didn’t happen without any explanation. Does Valve owe an explanation? I think so. Fans are right to complain, though there certainly are civil ways to do so.
So instead, over the past few days, I “stumbled” into playing League of Legends instead. I tried it about three years ago and haven’t touched at all, until now. I’m having some fun, but I sure wish I had more heroes. To get Ahri, this nine-tailed-fox lady, I have to get around 6300-in game points (or for 975 money-converted game currency, which I only have 400). That’s one thing that sucks. Other than that… well, LoL is fine. I still think DotA is better. Abilities in DotA just feel like they have much more impact, heroes seem more distinct and fleshed out. Themes are clear between heroes in LoL, but there’s, for instance, just so many blaster-casters hardly differ from each other. Almost everybody has some kind of escape mechanism or aoe snare. A nuke. Between types, sure, they vary plenty. I don’t know what it is. LoL is definitely slightly more casual than DotA (no need to deny, for example). It’s somewhat more accessible, which of course gives it a much larger fan base. I suppose DotA has been feeling stale to me. There are a few heroes that I like that haven’t been ported yet. The AI in DotA also sticks to the same, fairly small pool of heroes. I wish that was expanded for me.
I’ll probably play LoL for a while longer, at least until I try out a few more heroes I like. If you want to play and help me learn a little, that would be great too.