DotA 2 Release DateDotA 2 is scheduled for a full release in 2012, with a public Beta scheduled for the fall of 2011. The action fantasy strategy game is being developed by Valve. Are you ready for it? DotA 2: The Return of The King...
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When Can You Play DotA?
The 2010s seem to be one of the best for competitive gamers: we recently saw the comeback of Quake in the form of the free-to-play browser-based Quake Live; the long-awaited StarCraft II shook up the competitive gaming world, becoming a spectator sport (this time both in and outside Korea); Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is set for a 2012 release; and then there's DotA 2.
Dota 2 by Valve is a beast of the kind that, while still lurking in the shadow of juggernauts like Counter-Strike and StarCraft II, has a large competitive scene of its own, a scene that grows steadily and should be watched out for.
The mentioned games are called "Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas" or, as the old-school crowd refers to them, "DotA clones" (I found it hard not to reminisce about the old days when every new FPS game was called a DOOM clone).
Is DotA 2 close to release? At the beginning of October, DotA 2 developers decided to throw the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) out the window so that even those not in the beta can rejoice at seeing the weekly patch notes and learn about the heroes from the original DotA such as Juggernaut, Bloodseeker, Huskar, Skeleton King and a few others.
On October 31, developers announced that they have finished implementing the first significant expansion of DotA 2 server capacity around the world. To celebrate this event, Valve launched the first part of the official DotA 2 comic, Tales from the Secret Shop.
DotA 2 Update 1: November 10, 2011
The development team invited those interested in joining the DotA 2 Beta to fill out a survey on Steam to secure their place in the upcoming invitations, the first part of them sent out on November 3. If you're among those few lucky players invited to join the beta and test out the Source engine with the classic DotA gameplay, congratulations!
If you played "League of Legends" or "Heroes of Newerth" already then you can stay assured: Dota 2 by Valve will not disappoint you!
A Very Short History of DotA
The original DotA (Defense of the Ancients) was a WarCraft III map (that's right, a simple map; not even a full-fledged MOD) based on the "Aeon of Strife" map from StarCraft. The first version of the map was developed soon after the release of WarCraft III by a team of then amateur modmakers, lead by IceFrog.
The objective of the game is quite simple: you have to destroy the opposing team's "Ancients" (structures that are heavily guarded by both player controlled "Heroes" and AI controlled monsters known as "creeps"). While doing so, you are encouraged to kill these creeps in order to level up your character via an RPG-like leveling system.
The simple-to-pickup yet difficult-to-master MOD quickly gained a lot of attention from the gaming crowd, ultimately settling as the third biggest Real Time Strategy game played in eSports (after StarCraft and Warcraft III). While it never got the privilege of being an official discipline of grander tournaments such as the World Cyber Games, smaller gaming leagues weren't as hesitant to add the new team-based RTS as a standalone discipline.
Soon enough, gaming teams began to sign contracts with the best players, birthing the professional scene of the original game.
Games Like DotA or DotA Clones
After the success of DotA other developers, such as Valve, began jumping on the bandwagon (some even hiring the original "DotA team" to help make their games feel authentic), birthing the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre.
The gaming world saw the first big player in the MOBA market in 2009 when Riot Games' League of Legends (LoL) hit store shelves. LoL was essentially a re-imagining of DotA on a brand-new engine with a few new concepts thrown into the mix. The game was met with mediocre reviews due to lack of content and the obvious "bang for the buck," leaving a lot of gamers unimpressed and the servers lowly populated.
After a few months Riot, in a praise-worthy attempt to popularize the game, adopted the free-to-play model, making the game absolutely free with optional in-game monetization. This had terrific results! Soon after, the game servers were overloading with traffic of players. Not long after, League of Legends developed its own professional scene, consisting mostly out of ex-DotA players.
Another big player addition to the genre came in 2010 when the world first saw Heroes of Newerth, another standalone MOBA game. What set HoN apart from games like LoL was its grittier atmosphere and unforgiving game mechanics, resulting in a more competitive, sports-like gaming experience.
Heroes of Newerth was praised by the old-school DotA crowd and soon found a niche, consisting of gamers who had the urge to move away from the already-ancient (ancient, get it? ) DotA, but disliked the casual nature of the newer LOL. After a year HoN also adopted the free-to-play payment model.
Right now, the MOBA genre is split in two:
There are, of course, other good MOBA games (Bloodline Champions is the first to pop into mind) but there's too much of a playerbase gap between them and the "big players" are completely shadowing them.
Is DotA Worth The Waiting?
As we eagerly await the second game of the DotA franchise, it's hard not to think what will become of the genre after its release. Will the game outshine all others and unite all MOBA gamers like StarCraft II did with the traditional RTS? Will it flop, because of players unwilling to move away from older titles (a known pattern for competitive gamers)?
Or will Dota 2 by Valve suffer the fate of Counter-Strike: Source and split the community into two camps that hate each other? Only time will tell.
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