Just What the Hell Is Blizzard DOTA, Anyway?

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Posted by Brad (2903 posts) -

A new, fresher version of Blizzard DOTA was playable on the BlizzCon show floor this weekend, and it’s come a long way from where it was last year. It’s a much more focused, polished product now and quite a bit more fun. DOTA-like games (if you like, MOBAs) are all the rage right now, and Blizzard is attempting to stay in that market with their own take on a genre that grew from the mapmaking communities of their prior games in the first place.

For some context, I play a good amount of Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, and am eagerly awaiting access to the Dota 2 beta. I’m no pro, but I know my away around the genre and tend to prefer the complexity of DOTA/HoN to the relative simplicity of LoL. Blizzard DOTA is definitely on the LoL side of the spectrum, with a lot of the noise removed in favor of a more straightforward, accessible experience. The base game is the same. It’s five-versus-five on a three-lane map, with neutral creeps pushing toward towers placed deeper in each lane. The objective is simply to destroy the enemy team’s base while protecting your own. You’ll pick a hero and level them up, gain skills, and buy items.

This is where we get into the specific differences that, to the outside observer, might seem unimportant, but to the experienced player can completely change the metagame. To start out, Blizzard DOTA is really lenient on the early-game laning phase. That is, you’ll get experience and gold just for being near creeps that die. It doesn’t matter who kills them. There’s no last-hitting and no denying your own creeps to keep the enemy team from gaining gold. That makes it simple for new players, but to me it’s also a huge chunk of depth out the window. It’s the one thing I don’t really agree with here, as it lowers a lot of the potential skill ceiling that would normally separate out players of different ability.

Items are similarly simplified, but still quite enjoyable. Instead of complex recipes and items that are slight variations on each other, you’ll get items that boost your stats, grab some consumables (restore health, mana, or buff a tower), or grant you bonuses or new abilities. Each of the items can be upgraded three times for bigger and better effects. I do miss the payoff that comes from finally building that top-tier item that requires a ton of gold, but it’s also great to be able to buy an item that can stun an enemy as soon as you take your first trip back to base.

The heroes are put into four categories: tank, DPS, support, and siege. Each type fills their advertised roll quite nicely and the speed of the game makes them all enjoyable to play, even support. The only complaint I had about the abilities of the heroes is that each of the level-6 “ultimate” spells I used didn’t quite live up to the equivalents in other MOBAs.

Towers and the gameplay around them have also been changed heavily from the standard DOTA model. They are still powerful defensive structures that can drop a hero in a few seconds, but they have a finite amount of ammunition that will slowly regenerate. Now, the towers are easier to push and destroy since an extended siege can result in a tower that can no longer shoot, which is then easily overwhelmed without a defensive effort from the other team.

It remains to be seen how much Blizzard will be able to add to the back-end of Battle.net within StarCraft II to add features that have become standard in other MOBAs, like game reconnection, heroes guides, stat-tracking, and spectating. Blizzard DOTA will, however, have its own ladder, matchmaking, and progression through cosmetic unlocks for the various heroes in the game.

I think the inclusion of classic Blizzard characters will go a long way to help get people playing, and when you get into it, Blizzard's DOTA is a fast-paced, aggressive take on the genre. The matches are quick and much more focused on team-fighting and less about laning around towers for extended periods of time. It’s not going to shatter the MOBA market, but it should find a place with StarCraft and Blizzard fans. And though specifics haven't been confirmed, there will probably also be a way to try it for free without having to own Wings of Liberty or the upcoming Heart of the Swarm.

Staff
#1 Posted by Brad (2903 posts) -

A new, fresher version of Blizzard DOTA was playable on the BlizzCon show floor this weekend, and it’s come a long way from where it was last year. It’s a much more focused, polished product now and quite a bit more fun. DOTA-like games (if you like, MOBAs) are all the rage right now, and Blizzard is attempting to stay in that market with their own take on a genre that grew from the mapmaking communities of their prior games in the first place.

For some context, I play a good amount of Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, and am eagerly awaiting access to the Dota 2 beta. I’m no pro, but I know my away around the genre and tend to prefer the complexity of DOTA/HoN to the relative simplicity of LoL. Blizzard DOTA is definitely on the LoL side of the spectrum, with a lot of the noise removed in favor of a more straightforward, accessible experience. The base game is the same. It’s five-versus-five on a three-lane map, with neutral creeps pushing toward towers placed deeper in each lane. The objective is simply to destroy the enemy team’s base while protecting your own. You’ll pick a hero and level them up, gain skills, and buy items.

This is where we get into the specific differences that, to the outside observer, might seem unimportant, but to the experienced player can completely change the metagame. To start out, Blizzard DOTA is really lenient on the early-game laning phase. That is, you’ll get experience and gold just for being near creeps that die. It doesn’t matter who kills them. There’s no last-hitting and no denying your own creeps to keep the enemy team from gaining gold. That makes it simple for new players, but to me it’s also a huge chunk of depth out the window. It’s the one thing I don’t really agree with here, as it lowers a lot of the potential skill ceiling that would normally separate out players of different ability.

Items are similarly simplified, but still quite enjoyable. Instead of complex recipes and items that are slight variations on each other, you’ll get items that boost your stats, grab some consumables (restore health, mana, or buff a tower), or grant you bonuses or new abilities. Each of the items can be upgraded three times for bigger and better effects. I do miss the payoff that comes from finally building that top-tier item that requires a ton of gold, but it’s also great to be able to buy an item that can stun an enemy as soon as you take your first trip back to base.

The heroes are put into four categories: tank, DPS, support, and siege. Each type fills their advertised roll quite nicely and the speed of the game makes them all enjoyable to play, even support. The only complaint I had about the abilities of the heroes is that each of the level-6 “ultimate” spells I used didn’t quite live up to the equivalents in other MOBAs.

Towers and the gameplay around them have also been changed heavily from the standard DOTA model. They are still powerful defensive structures that can drop a hero in a few seconds, but they have a finite amount of ammunition that will slowly regenerate. Now, the towers are easier to push and destroy since an extended siege can result in a tower that can no longer shoot, which is then easily overwhelmed without a defensive effort from the other team.

It remains to be seen how much Blizzard will be able to add to the back-end of Battle.net within StarCraft II to add features that have become standard in other MOBAs, like game reconnection, heroes guides, stat-tracking, and spectating. Blizzard DOTA will, however, have its own ladder, matchmaking, and progression through cosmetic unlocks for the various heroes in the game.

I think the inclusion of classic Blizzard characters will go a long way to help get people playing, and when you get into it, Blizzard's DOTA is a fast-paced, aggressive take on the genre. The matches are quick and much more focused on team-fighting and less about laning around towers for extended periods of time. It’s not going to shatter the MOBA market, but it should find a place with StarCraft and Blizzard fans. And though specifics haven't been confirmed, there will probably also be a way to try it for free without having to own Wings of Liberty or the upcoming Heart of the Swarm.

Staff
#2 Posted by jonfresh (46 posts) -

yay!

#3 Posted by StrikeALight (1114 posts) -

Too much DOTA can make you blind.

#4 Posted by Morningstar (2147 posts) -

Blizzard is quality. Nuff said ^^

#5 Posted by Mikemcn (6967 posts) -

Too many MOBA's!!!

#6 Posted by Lugixx (65 posts) -

Sounds a lot like a "My First MOBA" type of deal.

#7 Posted by Acheron (54 posts) -

No Diablo in there?

#8 Posted by penINC (136 posts) -

Wait, did I miss something? Brain Leahy?

#9 Posted by phrosnite (3518 posts) -

What the hell is Blizzard DOTA? It's a joke. Decent at best.

#10 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

@Morningstar said:

Blizzard is quality. Nuff said ^^

Valve isn't? : (

#11 Posted by Morningstar (2147 posts) -

@Cloudenvy said:

@Morningstar said:

Blizzard is quality. Nuff said ^^

Valve isn't? : (

Valve is very much quality as well. I guess both of those developers only have released great games so far.

This one seem different enough though, to warrant its existence.

#12 Posted by TobbRobb (4587 posts) -

What the hell is up with some people's fetish for denying? It's just busywork which gives an advantage to fast players instead of tactical ones. I really don't see how it's good for anything other than APM practice.

#13 Posted by rmanthorp (3910 posts) -

Brian Leahy in my Giant Bomb? PLEASE GOD PLEASE I miss him so much at Shack I just want to hear his thoughts somewhere. Love you bro. No Homo.

Moderator
#14 Posted by Chaosx721 (12 posts) -

@penINC: He's doing some freelance work for Giantbomb. I guess Brad couldn't go to Blizzcon.

#15 Posted by CheapPoison (727 posts) -

Ow, cool. Thanks for the Article!

I was kinda curious about this.. in anticipation for Dota 2 and all.

#16 Posted by Chris2KLee (2332 posts) -

I'm definitely a LoL fan when it comes to MOBA games, so this sounds good to me. Also I like the comical tone the game seems to have, and I look forward to seeing what other Blizz heroes get added later.

#17 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

I don't want to play a Blizzard version of DTOA because Blizzard has sodomized their lore enough.

#18 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Why hasn't anybody commented on the fact that the guy writing this isn't a part of the core staff? Have we had guest writers before?

#19 Posted by Nonentity (233 posts) -

Brian Leahy is a great PC game resource, and he knows what he's talking about.

I dunno if Whiskey can do it, but more Brian Leahy please.

#20 Posted by pnevares (65 posts) -

Brian Leahy! Now that's a name I trust.

#21 Posted by MrMazz (945 posts) -

I'm intrigued by the growing three way MOBA war that is brewing

#22 Posted by Hansolol (394 posts) -

Woah, what? No last hitting? How does...? That's like... How do you...

WUT?

#23 Posted by spilledmilkfactory (1861 posts) -

Just what the hell is Brian Leahy anyway? Kidding, you wrote good stuff at Shacknews, it's good to see some work of yours popping up on GB

#24 Posted by avidwriter (667 posts) -

At least they are keeping a funny/not serious approach to it. I wonder if the whole game would be like that?

#25 Edited by theveej (822 posts) -

wow I really don't know about removing last hit and denying.... those are integral part of the game-play for me in dota, I mean i'v played a lot of dota and without last hitting and denying that game would be totally unbalanced. Same with the streamlining of item... I really like the payoff of getting an expensive item and saving up (a mechanic that is directly effected by last hitting and denying) but I am still excited to see what blizzard does, with these "MOBA" games I need to play it for myself before i make a judgment. Like while I appreciated some of the stuff LOL did i just preferred the way dota played, and it was all the little things that me me stay with dota; even though the matchmaking and stuff is still a pain in the ass.

Still very excited to play as Blizzard heroes.... but I think Dota2 might be my game of choice.

p.s this Brian Leahy guy seems kind of legit , at least he knows about his MOBAs

#26 Posted by Akia (38 posts) -

Great article

#27 Edited by slayergnome (122 posts) -

@Buzzkill said:

I don't want to play a Blizzard version of DTOA because Blizzard has sodomized their lore enough.

God forbid the lore(that they stole from warhammer) develop and take a personality of its own. No I much rather them make shitty games but stay true to the lore I totally agree.

Also two more things, I happen to like the warcraft lore and starcraft's is not bad either exactly where did they kill it, cause even in World of Warcraft they are pretty true to the WC3 lore. The only place it really changed is from WC2 on(but again WC2 lore was just stolen from warhammer)

Also I don't think this will contribute to any of the blizzard lore at all, if you watched the trailer it is going for a comedic style game, which is something I think Blizzard does very well.

P.S. God dammit I just read you name and I responded to a troll didn't I.....

#28 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

It's cool that Blizzard is doing one of these finally, I guess. Still doesn't make me want to play any games in this genre, though.

#29 Posted by transience (111 posts) -

Leahy?
whatcha gonna say-heee
on the front page-eeeeee

#30 Posted by CountYourBlessings (166 posts) -

Always be MOBA

#31 Posted by lacke (360 posts) -

At least Blizzard DOTA is trying something new. Whether it is fun or not remains to be seen. I mean, what's the point with releasing yet another DOTA clone with the exact same mechanics?

#32 Edited by Mexican_Brownie (201 posts) -

Is ridiculous how fast this MOBA/DOTA stuff is growing. Good to see that, while all of the MOBAs share the basic gameplay, there are meaningful differences between them which makes it possible for fans of the genre(?) to pick the one(s) that suits their preferences.

I don't really care about DOTAs and MOBAs, but would be lying if I said that I'm not enjoying enjoying all of these editorial pieces.

#33 Posted by Spoonman671 (4587 posts) -

So will the Siege Tank be a siege-type or a tank-type hero?

#34 Posted by SonofSeth (87 posts) -

Gameplay first, that sounds about right. Leave the spreadsheet to those who enjoy it.

Out of 2 DOTAs in the future, I know which one I'll be playing.

#35 Posted by RandomInternetUser (6789 posts) -

Yep, interested. However, I've spent around 60 bucks on LoL, so it will have to great to pull me away.

#36 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

Just... what the hell does DOTA and MOBA stand for/mean?

"The article! it does nothing!" (to clarify this)

#37 Posted by project343 (2816 posts) -

@Buzzkill said:

I don't want to play a Blizzard version of DTOA because Blizzard has sodomized their lore enough.

'Sodomized'? Really?

#38 Posted by iAmJohn (6114 posts) -

Wait, what? What's Brian Leahy doing here?

#39 Posted by NDN_Shadow (108 posts) -

There's a lot of unusual decisions Blizzard's done to their version. No last hitting? Siege heroes able to outrange towers? Neutral creeps that will push for you if you defeat them?

Will have to play it to really see. This seems much more simplified than even League of Legends.

#40 Edited by Jokers_Wild (208 posts) -

I was ready to write Blizzard Dota off as just a gimmick to get more people into Starcraft, but after reading about these changes my curiosity is piqued. I'm still more excited about Dota 2, but I'll definitely try this out.

Also, Weekend Confirmed just isn't the same without you, Leahy.

#41 Posted by TMThomsen (2071 posts) -

@Morningstar said:

@Cloudenvy said:

@Morningstar said:

Blizzard is quality. Nuff said ^^

Valve isn't? : (

Valve is very much quality as well. I guess both of those developers only have released great games so far.

This one seem different enough though, to warrant its existence.

I'm also important.

#42 Edited by Addfwyn (1917 posts) -

@Trylks: Defense of the Ancients and Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, respectively. Dota wasn't the first moba type map, but it made the genre popular. LoL's creators (some of who worked on the original dota) were the first to coin the genre-term 'moba' I believe.

As a result, games like Heroes of Newerth (HoN), League of Legends (LoL), and Defense of the Ancients (Dota) are often referred to as MOBAs.

EDIT: To clarify if you aren't familiar with that gameplay style at all, they are online multiplayer games where each player controls an individual unit on a team of (usually) 5 players. The goals vary a bit from game to game (League of Legend's Dominion mode and Bloodline Champions for instance) but are generally focused around building up a hero with levels and items, fighting the other team, and getting more kills than them (and in the process, often killing some specific type of building). They are distinguished from say...an MMO or other RPG by the lack of persistence: you pick a new hero every game and start every game from level 1. They range in duration and pacing, from fast paced games like Blizzard Dota and League of Legend's Dominion mode (averaging around 20 mins each for both of them) to more involved games like a standard dota or league of legends match that can go up to 30-40 minutes.

#43 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -
#44 Posted by Ashler (95 posts) -

You have the opportunity to make history here Blizzard. Give me a Tauren Space Marine...

#45 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

It sounds like Blizzard has a lot of the same design goals as Riot did when they made Dominion. Unfortunately, while I respect Dominion for being very well made, I don't personally care for it. Removing the laning phase (or in this case making it completely irrelevant) pretty much destroys the pacing that makes the game so appealing to me. It's like playing deathmatch in Counter Strike.

#46 Posted by Addfwyn (1917 posts) -

@nintendoeats: I agree fully, I dabbled in Dominion a little bit, especially since all my friends play nothing but that now. I think they did an outstanding job with art assets and music for it, but it just kills what makes mobas fun to me. Same for Bloodline Champions.

The idea of something very fast-paced that I can play quick games of that retains something like the traditional laning of a moba makes me pretty interested in blizzard dota. More than I actually thought I'd be.

#47 Posted by bovilexic (11 posts) -

Yeah, I also don't get why there is so much complaining about denying and last hitting - 2 of the most annoyingly repetitive and twitch-based aspects of the game, which they hope to remove. To each his own I suppose. The removal of last hitting and allowing gold and xp to pool up just from being in proximity to the battle makes it MUCH easier to play a support role and still stay viable. In fact, one of their main focuses is to keep tanks and support more active and give them more benefit from playing their respective roles well - and not just giving the DPS a chance to rack up a lot of kills. I'm all for the changes they are suggesting - but again, to the untrained eye this seems nothing like a copy of an existing game in a soon-to-be flooded genre. It is, in reality, actually giving players quite a bit of choice and more accessibility into this genre and making it slightly more casual, and dare I say, fun, to a much broader audience. I'm all for that.

#48 Posted by KillyDarko (1888 posts) -

Other than the dumbing down of the in-match item store, everything else about it sounds cool so far, especially the focus on an overall team score rather than on a personal one, which always leads to some people being more worried about themselves than the success of their own team...

#49 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

@Addfwyn: I just don't know how much of that laning this is going to retain. You can't really zone your enemies because they don't have to try and last hit. I suppose that what it will come down to is not letting your turret get pushed so hard that it runs out of ammo, but most of the time I would expect both teams to ignore creeps and focus on 1v1 or 2v2ing eachother, which just seems...WEIRD...

I know that Blizzard consists of smart dudes, but I don't know if they have any interest in preserving the essence that early game situation where you are trying to get creep kills, zone your opponents AND take them out. If that isn't one of their goals, then I guess this game is just not made for me. I would rather just play 3v3 for my short games.

#50 Posted by Detrian (1126 posts) -

That chessboard style they are going for is fucking terrible and Blizzard's characters are boring as hell so hopefully it'll at least play good (I have my doubts already).

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