Friday, 2 August 2013

Dota 2 : state of play


I've now clocked 300 hours of Dota2, which I hope is enough to garner at least a sense of what the game is about and some of the intricacies.   So I thought now was a good time to jot down some thoughts on the game and then possibly revisit them when I hit around another 300 hours and see what has changed and what has inevitably stayed the same.

The game itself:
There is infinite amount of choice in the game, which in itself makes it good and bad at the same time.  What your team mate chooses, what your friends (if you're lucky enough to play with some friends) choose and how you want to approach the game.  This brings me to my first and major gripe with the game.

Skill Matching - or lack thereof.  The amount of games I can count where the skill matching is so far out that it's laughable.  I've had 15-16 minute games (very, very short and decisive victories for Dota2) more times than I care to mention), in which I/we get invariably stomped into the dust by a 5 man team that have uncanny coordination for supposedly a public game.  My first suggestion now that there is a large pool of players is to separate out the 5man pre-built teams to a separate playlist than those using 2-4 person teams and again for the single pickup players.  I don't know if this is an effect of so-called smurfing (an experienced player using another steam account to start over playing what amounts to be totally new players just to stomp them into the ground and get some sort of sad gratification) or just really bad algorithyms for player matching but instituting some sort of leagues/ladder or just some sort of skill banding would help a tonne.

Balance - For public matches there are some balance issues, sure with the pro games or higher tier public matches you can counter and counter-counter certain picks with other picks, but low down there is no such thing.  It results in certain characters being ALWAYS picked by someone (pudge, drow ranger, luna, sniper and bounty hunter being the most common).  Usually picked because a) they are a class that can have almost guaranteed kills or b) that are so simple but powerful to play that are seen to be the best characters out there.  Now I'm not a balance expert but people will gravitate to the easiest/most effective way to get kills and win, so I think these characters will need a balance pass at some point.  And the fact that they are regularly voted to be blocked in pro games also says something about the power of these characters. Sure there is no simple fix but it's just another irksome thing about the game.

Variety - Infinite character and team combinations but only one map?

Overall - Playing Dota2 is like living with a mal adjusted Rottweiler, Sometimes he seems really nice and friendly but every now and then he tries to rip your arm off and beat you to death with it.  I have a love hate relationship with the game,  I think about playing it every day whilst at work but then I come to play it and get so heavily beaten, that I am so tempted to unistall the damned game.  Combine this with the fact that I just don't feel like im getting any better after 300 or so hours of playing than I did in the first 20, I'd have to say it's for the die hard moba/rts crowd really.

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