I’m not a big fan of MOBAs, but Dota 2 was the first one I ever played, before I played League of Legends. I didn’t understand anything. At all. I’m pretty certain I spent the entire tutorial having no clue what was going on, back when the tutorial consisted of Dragon Knight wandering round a very non-Dota-2-esque map, completing quests and spending a long time repeating tasks because I couldn’t get the concept of couriers and last-hits. Eventually, I gave up, unable to get my head around anything.
League of Legends started on similar rocky territory, but their tutorial back then was a very basic movement one followed by an actual game with bots, which works very similarly to the tutorial Dota 2 has now. It took me four attempts to complete it, not because I kept on losing, but because I simply lost patience with the 20+ minute matches. I did eventually complete the tutorial with Garen (otherwise known as spinny lots of health man) then got upset that I couldn’t play him in normal matches until I bought him, fed awfully in a game as Volibear then didn’t come back for 6 months until my sister started playing. I spent a month grinding games as Nunu until I could afford Kog’Maw (first champion I got a good KDA ratio on) and Sona (a monkey could play her). There’s other reasons why I preferred LoL too.
But I’ve been getting annoyed at LoL lately. Too many insane changes. Not TF2-we-gave-the-Phlog-Uber sort of insane, where you can see where they’re coming from, but completely out of the blue changes. A Kog’Maw buff that made his winrate jump hugely. A giant buff to Xin Zhao that no one asked for, wanted or even ever mentioned since he’s always been a strong champion. Yet more nerds to Ryze. Reworks for champions who didn’t need them urgently while there’s still completely unplayable champions out there.
I’m getting off the point. My point is that I’ve decided to try Dota 2 out again.
Simply put? I actually don’t mind it that much. It’s got a very steep learning curve, and the tutorial didn’t even begin to mention how you deny enemies gold and experience, but Dota 2 is by no means a bad game. It’s a good game. It looks nice, got lots of choice, a good skill floor and skill ceiling, a reason to want to try and improve, and, most importantly, there are a few explosions. On the other hand, for a skilless noob like me, it can quickly become very overwhelming. I’m glad I had some experience from LoL which carried over, because the tutorial made much more sense this time around.
Speaking of tutorials, they have improved. It’s similar to the Howling Abyss tutorial on LoL, it only covers the bare basics, but it’s not too bad. The guided bot tutorial though is just as iffy as the guided bot tutorial in League of Legends, although LoL gives you a mage, a marksman and a tank, Dota 2 gives you a melee carry, a short-ranged carry and a long-ranged carry.
I picked Lina for the guided bot tutorial. All was going well until I died for the first time at 23 minutes in and realised I had a 55 second respawn. Worse, I’d died from something in the fog of war. Which is weird because I was running away from 3 of the enemy bots and none of them did any damage to me, it was some unseen hero. On top of that, my character would randomly stop moving even though I 1. was clicking to move, 2. my hero hadn’t reached the location I had clicked to and 3. I was not under the effects of any slows, stuns or any other sort of crowd control. On the plus side, I FINALLY FOUND THE SECRET SHOP!
I got bored of that and decided to just do a normal bot game and play as an actual dragon. Winter Wyvern to be precise. I kinda understood what I had to do as a support, but the game decided I should go in the middle lane and I didn’t know how to make a bot switch lanes with me. Still, Winter Wyvern made more sense to me as a hero, like a cross between Anivia and Amumu. After 31 minutes of running around and being attacked by turrets for no reason (there were three creeps in front of me, no enemy heroes and the turret was still attacking me rather than them?), I got a full build and Dire’s ancient was destroyed. I finished the game with an unimpressive score of 5/3/5.
So what do I dislike about Dota 2? Not much. The game does feel unresponsive at times, characters seem to move slowly and don’t react well to my commands. But the one thing that stops me playing the game is the UI. Both in the main menu and in-game. The main menu is a mess of all sorts of stuff I’m not interested in. Choosing a character brings up every heroes in a long ling, rather than defaulting to a nice grid. You can press CTRL to get the grid, but really that should be the default. I can look past the main menu, but I can’t look past the in-game HUD.
Why is my hero’s portrait so big? Why is there so much decoration around the edges? Why are the boxes for items so large? Why is the stash so large but the button for the courier to deliver them so tiny? Why is the shop so damn tiny and why can I not put it on the other side if I’m playing on Radiant side? The whole in-game HUD is HUGE.
Below are comparisons between Dota 2 and League of Legends. Dota 2’s one does look fancy, but I can change the size of parts of the LoL HUD. That’s not allowed in Dota 2. Alright, the HUD for Dominion is really bad, but that’s because Riot ignored the game mode for so long.
It feels like I’m playing the game through a letterbox. And as someone who hates scoping in because he feels claustrophobic, it’s really off-putting for me.
Shame, because Dota 2 has way more dragon heroes than League of Legends does.