|Genre(s)||Multiplayer online battle arena|
Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed by Valve Corporation, and the stand-alone sequel to the Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack, The Frozen Throne. Initially announced on October 13, 2010, via Game Informer, the game is currently available for early test access and will utilize a free-to-play business model when released. Dota 2 is exclusively available via Valve's content delivery platform Steam. Dota 2 is currently compatible only with Microsoft Windows though Mac OS X compatibility is anticipated in the future.
Dota 2 consists of session-based online multiplayer matches in which two teams of five attempt to destroy the opponents' fortified strongholds. Each player controls a player character called a "hero" and, over the course of each game, will improve their hero's abilities, acquire items, and attack the enemy team whilst applying pressure on their base defenses.
Dota 2 combines the real-time strategy elements of traditional top-down perspective, while also incorporating the leveling and itemization functions of a role-playing video game. Players are pitted against each other as two factions called the Radiant and the Dire. The Radiant faction is based at the southwest corner of the map, while the Dire faction is based at the northeast corner. Utilizing one of six hero selection modes, players select one of 101 "heroes" – strategically powerful units with special abilities, who, through combat experience, may progress to a maximum level of twenty-five. The heroes' methods of combat are heavily influenced by their primary property, which can be strength, agility, or intelligence. The basic setup of Dota 2 places two strongholds containing critical structures called "Ancients" at opposing ends of a geographically balanced map. These bases are connected by three main paths (referred to as lanes), which are guarded by defensive towers and groups of units commonly referred to as "creeps" which traverse their lanes, attacking enemy units and structures upon sight. Players are split into two teams, each consisting of up to five players, to compete as the primary defenders for each Ancient.
The overall objective of each match is to battle through the opposing force's defenses, and destroy the opponents' Ancient. Because Dota 2 is highly team-oriented, players must coordinate with their teams in order to achieve victory. The towers and stronghold defenses are invulnerable to attacks, so long as the towers nearest to the enemy side still stand, and must be destroyed sequentially – a team cannot destroy the enemy's Ancient without first destroying all towers leading up to it in any one lane.
The currency of the game is gold, which is granted steadily at a slow rate. Gold can be accumulated at a much higher rate by killing enemy units, destroying enemy towers, or killing heroes. Killing units grants gold solely to the player who killed it; killing heroes grants gold to the killer and any nearby allies; and destroying towers gives gold to all players on the team. Killing enemy creeps, heroes, and towers also provides experience, which allows the player's hero to level up, granting access to more powerful skills and abilities. "Denying" is a feature of the game which allows players to inhibit the enemy's ability to accumulate gold and experience by killing an allied unit or destroying an allied structure before an enemy can do so. Denying reduces the amount of experience and gold the enemy faction can receive for the kill. Allied heroes may also be denied if they are on critically low health and have a fatal spell applied to them.
Featured across the map are units referred to as "neutrals", which are not aligned to a faction, primarily located in the forests. Located on the southeast side of the river is a boss called "Roshan" who typically requires multiple team members to be killed. Following his death, Roshan will drop a powerful item which allows for a hero to instantly respawn at the location of their death if they are killed.
According to Valve's founder and managing director, Gabe Newell, the company's investment in Dota was sparked from the collective interest of several veteran employees, including Team Fortress designer Robin Walker, programmer Adrian Finol and project manager Erik Johnson, all of whom had attempted to partake in team play at a competitive level. As their interest in the game intensified, they began corresponding with DotA's developer, IceFrog, over a series of emails, inquiring what long-term plans he had for the mod. The emails eventually culminated in an invitation from Erik Johnson, offering IceFrog a tour of the company's facilities and as a result, hired him to develop a sequel. The first public notification regarding the development of Dota 2 was a blog post made by IceFrog on October 5, 2009, stating that he would be leading a team at Valve. No official word was given until its official announcement on October 13, 2010, when the website of magazine Game Informer revealed specific details about the game and its development, creating traffic on the website to the extent of crashing their servers. Erik Johnson addressed the confusion over the written form of the brand name, citing it as "Dota", rather than "DotA", due to its increasing context as a concept, rather than an acronym for "Defense of the Ancients".
Shortly following a questions and answers session by IceFrog on PlayDotA.com, the Defense of the Ancients official website, elaborating upon his recruitment by Valve, a trademark claim was filed by Valve on August 6, 2010. Steve Feak, the original developer of the DotA Allstars variant and Steve Mescon, the creator of dota-allstars.com, both employees of Riot Games, expressed their concern that Valve did not maintain the right to a trademark for the DotA name, due to their views that it was a community asset. On August 9, 2010, Mescon filed an opposing trademark for "DOTA" on behalf of DotA-Allstars, LLC, (a subsidiary of Riot Games), in order to "protect the work that dozens of authors have done to create the game". Rob Pardo, the executive vice president of Blizzard Entertainment, the developer of Warcraft III, expressed a similar concern, explaining that the DotA name was an asset of the Warcraft III community. Blizzard acquired DotA-Allstars, LLC from Riot Games in 2011, to enforce their claim as not only the creators of the World Editor, but to have the rights from the company that made a claim to the mod previously. During the game's unveiling at Gamescom 2011, Gabe Newell explained Valve's perspective on acquiring the trademark, which was that IceFrog desired to develop a direct sequel to DotA and that players would likely recognize it as such. Blizzard filed an opposition against Valve in November 2011, citing the Warcraft III World Editor and their ownership of DotA-Allstars, LLC as a proper claim to the franchise. On May 11, 2012, Blizzard and Valve announced that the dispute had been settled, with Valve retaining the commercial franchising rights to the term "Dota", while Blizzard would change the name of their map from Blizzard DOTA to Blizzard All-Stars.
As the sequel to Defense of the Ancients, the development cycle of Dota 2 has been concentrated primarily upon fully transferring the aspects of its predecessor to the Source engine, as well as building upon the core gameplay. Dota 2 recreates the factions of the Sentinel and the Scourge from Defense of the Ancients as the Radiant and the Dire respectively, with cornerstone features of the characters' alignment reserved, while ultimately re-establishing the familiar qualities in a new form. Warcraft III composer Jason Hayes was contracted by Valve to collaborate with Tim Larkin for developing Dota 2's musical score. Character names, abilities, items, map design and other fine details remain virtually unchanged, but the integration of these features to the Source engine allows for continued, scaled development to bypass limitations from the Warcraft III World Editor. Further support for the competitive experience is developed through the use of Dota 2 account matchmaking, which scales a player's automated placement in accordance to their estimated skill level. Non-computed and unranked practice matches are made available through the use of either human players, AI bots or solo games. In the debut Q&A, IceFrog stated that Dota 2 will serve as the long-term continuation of the mod, building upon the original gameplay without making too many significant core changes that may alter the overall experience. According to Valve, the company contracted major contributors for DotA's popularity to assist in developing Dota 2, including the mod's original creator known as "Eul", as well as loading screen artist Kendrick Lim of Imaginary Friends Studios. IceFrog has stated that in order to further emphasize Dota 2's premise as a continuation of DotA, contributions would remain consistent from sources outside the main development team.
To accommodate Dota 2, Valve has worked to upgrade the Source engine to include new features, such as high-end cloth modeling, improved global lighting, as well as improvements to Steamworks, which includes a wider expansion of utilities, such as player guides and the coaching system. Dota 2 utilizes Valve's Steam software in order to provide social and community functionality for the game. Steam accounts save personal files and settings on the online accounts using the Steam Cloud. Dota 2 also features multiple options of live spectating, in tradition of competitive Valve titles. The game host has the option to fill open slots with AI bots. Another option allows the host to determine if AI bots or other human players will be used to fill the vacated slot of a disconnected player. Valve is introducing a coaching system to allow for more experienced players to tutor newer players. The game will also feature tutorial sessions for further assisting players to mount the steep learning curve before competitive play. In addition to the online platform established by Steam, Dota 2 will support local area network (LAN) multiplayer connectivity.
To coincide with Dota 2's public debut at Gamescom 2011, Valve opened the sign-up for invites for the beta, with invites being sent out following the conclusion of Gamescom. During the debut, Gabe Newell revealed that Dota 2 would likely ship in 2012, despite original plans for a full release in late 2011. On September 23, 2011, Valve scrapped its previous development and release plans for Dota 2, which would have kept the game in its beta phase for over a year, in order to accommodate the full transfer of creative materials developed for the original DotA. The new plan described by IceFrog looked to release the Dota 2 beta at the nearest possible date and to implement the remaining heroes afterwards. Simultaneously, Valve announced that the non-disclosure agreement for the beta was being lifted, allowing testers to discuss the game and their experiences publicly.
Beginning with the second edition of The Defense tournament hosted by joinDOTA in June 2012, Valve implemented the tournament support feature. Tournaments may be available for spectating in-game via the purchase of a tournament pass in the Dota Store, which provides an alternative to viewing live streams online. This feature supports previous and live matches from tournaments. In addition, teams may be formally identified by the game's software, which automatically recognizes games with players as being team matches and catalogs them as such.
As part of a plan to create a social network based around Dota 2, Gabe Newell announced in April 2012 that the game would be free-to-play, with an accentuation on player contributions to the community. On June 1, 2012, the Dota development team at Valve formally confirmed that the game would be free-to-play with no added cost for having the full roster of heroes and item inventory readily available. Income for Dota 2 would be maintained, however, through the exclusively cosmetic Dota Store, where players could purchase in-game items. Until the game's release, players may still purchase an early access bundle, which includes the game, along with several in-game cosmetic items. The Dota Store is composed of custom creations developed by Valve, as well as products from the Steam Workshop, which is a system in which users may submit creations for review by Valve and if successful, would be permanently incorporated into Dota 2. The market model was fashioned after Team Fortress 2, which became successful in June 2011 and had reimbursed cosmetic designers with $3.5 million of income as of the free-to-play announcement.
Publishing and distribution
In order to abide by the standards set by the economic legislation of individual countries, Valve has opted to utilize nationally-based developers for publishing. On October 19, 2012, the leading Beijing-based video game developer and publisher, Perfect World, announced the acquisition of the exclusive rights to publish and distribute Dota 2 in China. On November 9, 2012, a similar deal was made with the Tokyo-based developer and publisher, Nexon Co. Ltd., with publishing and distribution for Japan and South Korea being provided by the company.
|PC Gamer (US)||85/100|
Following the first public showing of Dota 2, the game won IGN's public opinion-based People's Choice Award, defeating other anticipated games, including Battlefield 3, Diablo III, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Guild Wars 2. In December 2012, PC Gamer listed Dota 2 as a nominee for the 2012 Game of the Year award, as well as the best electronic sports title of the year.
PC Gamer reviewed the game in September 2012, stating the game was "an unbelievably deep and complex game that offers the purest sequel to the original DotA. Rewarding like few others, but tough", giving it a rating of 85/100.
In May 2013 it was reported that Dota 2 had reached almost 330,000 concurrent players and holds the record for the game with the most concurrent users in Steam history, breaking its own record set in March the same year.
In a 2008 article of video game industry website Gamasutra, editor Michael Walbridge cited Defense of the Ancients as the most popular mod in the world, as well as one of the most popular competitive titles, with its strongest presence in Asia, Europe and North America. To ensure the transition of DotA players to Dota 2, Valve invited and sponsored 16 of the most accomplished teams to compete and showcase the game's capabilities with its public debut at The International, a global championship hosted at Gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Germany, with a grand prize of one million dollars. The International became an annual championship tournament, with the venue changing to Seattle, Washington, United States. Via the sales of interactive compendiums, The International reclaimed its previous title as the largest prize pool in electronic sports history, exceeding the two million dollar prize pool from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship. Erik Johnson commented in an interview that the implementation of the game's LAN feature would be intended to promote smaller, independent competitions and local tournaments.
Following the inaugural event of The International, several electronic sports tournaments began to transition from DotA to Dota 2, including the Electronic Sports World Cup. DreamHack would also support Dota 2 in 2011, following a year without support for the original, on account of the other multiplayer online battle arena titles Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends. By the end of its first year in its beta phase, Dota 2 was one of the highest-paying eSport titles of 2011, second only to StarCraft II. Dota 2 began as an official title for the World Cyber Games annual event in 2012. The Electronic Sports League began a seasonal tournament for Dota 2 called the RaidCall EMS One in 2013, which was the largest independent tournament for Dota 2 by the beginning of 2013.
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