Posted by s0nicfreak on Feb 6, 2012
Dota 2 Beta

Dota 2 Beta

Note: This is a review of the beta. The final product may or may not differ.

Until recently, I wasn’t much of a PC gamer; I mostly stuck to consoles. However, Warcraft III was one of the pc games I was excited about. I bought it at launch, and for a short time, played it quite a bit.

But that was 10 years ago. I don’t remember much about how to play Warcraft III, and I was never very good at it anyway. I never played the DotA mod. But apparently Valve didn’t consider that an issue – or maybe they just wanted a fresh view on it? – and they let me play Dota 2.

Unfortunately, the game seems to assume you’re a DotA player. I was thrown into the game with no instructions, no tutorial, not even a manual (though perhaps that will be remedied when it is actually released). I stumbled around and found a familiar symbol – a gear, which the whole world has apparently agreed means settings, for some reason. Inside I found the controls, but with little idea of what was going on – What’s a group? What do the abilities do, and how do I use them once I learn them? What the hell is a Glyph? – they were of little use.

I thought things would become more clear once I started playing the game. But just figuring out how to get into the game was confusing. In the process of figuring it out I closed a chat, which saddened me because it was an active chat, and now I’m not sure which it was nor how to open it again. Eventually I figured out that you must click under the servers where it says “Inactive,” because clicking there will switch them to active and therefore be one of the servers from which you will choose a game. Or I should say, from which your client will automatically choose a game. The only games you get to choose from – aside from inviting a friend or a fellow chat participator – are 3 “Top Live Games.” And don’t think you can click on those to see more details, nor expect a “Do you want to join this game?” confirmation, because clicking just makes you join the game.

Before you join a game, make sure you go to the bathroom, put a drink nearby, etc. because you’re going to be sitting there for about 50 minutes. And that first 45 minutes or so are going to be spent grinding. But I’m getting ahead of myself – I didn’t realize that until after playing 2 games.

When I finally got into a game, I still had no idea what was going on.

I thought I was beginning to have an idea of what was going on by then. Surely the only reason the last game had taken so long was because I didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on, right? So I started another game. This team was strategizing through the chat – but they were using jargon I was not familiar with. My requests for clarification were ignored. So I stuck with what had worked in my first game – just go beat up the enemies. I headed towards the other team’s base, and was met by an enemy player. With my newfound skills, I attacked – and was killed. “It’s gg already!” someone cried, implying that I had just single-handedly lost the game.

I pressed on. I died some more. I got yelled at some more. “How do you get into a beta without knowing wtf you’re doing?” was one of the yells. Eventually I said back “well if no one will help me stop being a dumbass, I guess I’ll just keep being a dumbass,” and stopped trying to win. The combination of not knowing wtf was going on, my team being full of assholes, and my ass hurting because I had been playing for nearly 2 hours by that point forced me to just want the game to be over. We won anyway, despite the cries in the beginning of me having lost the game, and despite my giving up. It was at that point that I realized that it didn’t much matter what I did. All that mattered was which team managed to grind the fastest and level their skills to the max the quickest in that first 50 minutes. While there can be a bit of strategy involved in that, it can also be done with practically no strategizing and no interaction whatsoever with other playable characters. The final 5 minutes are spent destroying the slower team’s towers; and since they’re slower at grinding, they are weaker than you and/or out still grinding and can’t really stop you.

The graphics, while they aren’t bad, aren’t anything to write home about. They basically took Warcraft III and made it look like World of Warcraft – more cartoony. I’m not sure what they were going for. Consistency across the Warcraft series? Okay, they accomplished that. Reeling in WoW fans? I think most WoW fans like the game in spite of, rather than because of, the cartoony looks. And as for the story; if there was one, I couldn’t find it.

I didn’t fully begin to understand the game until after I found a fan-made wiki to read. If a game requires you to play a mod you may have never even heard of (I hadn’t) or read fan-written instructions, that’s poor design in my book. Maybe they will add an instruction manual and/or a tutorial mode before release, but from my understanding this game was suppose to be out last year and they’re just fine tuning. Those things should have been in there already.

Fans of DotA may enjoy this upgraded version of the mod, but it leaves a newcomer dazed and confused – and with a sore ass. You can check out the (nearly 2 hours long) video of me playing below; but be warned, it will probably be as long and painful to you as it was to me.

Watch live video from s0nicfreak on Justin.tv

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4 Responses to “Dota 2 Beta”

  1. dreta says:

    It’s beta, it’s nice that you can aknowledge that, but that doesn’t seem to change the fact that you expect a beta game to have tutorials. It’s beta, nobody’s going to be making tutorials for an unreleased product, this never, ever happens, it’s reasonable to expect people playing the beta to be familiar with one of the most peopular online games of all times, which you haven’t ever touched, ofcourse.

    As for the graphics, they’re there because competent people who made the game knew that for a game to be competetive, the players need to be able to parse information. It’s a competetive title, it’s not there to look pretty.

    You’d expect a journalist to understand the topic before writing about it. Views of complete scrubs are valuable, but not when they feel like they know better and try judging a product while having no idea about anything.

    • s0nicfreak says:

      I’ve played many betas – real betas. Beta actually means the last full pre-release in a software’s lifecycle. By the beta point, usually the tutorials are in there, as beta usually means the game is pretty much done and the beta testers are just finding bugs. In every other beta I have been involved in, I received either a print out or a PDF of the controls, and a basic summary of how the game is suppose to work – because how is one to know if something is working correctly if they have no idea how it is suppose to work? If I had played prequels to the beta in question, the printout or pdf may say something as simple as “It’s just like Super Whatever Game 1, except x, y, and z are different.” If I had no experience with the series, I was given a bit more detail. Either way, I always received helpfulness from the people that had already been playing the game.

      When they gave me the Dota 2 beta, they knew I had no experience with Dota. They knew the tutorial was not yet in there. Yet, I received nothing. I suppose they expected that the people with more Dota experience would help out, but as I said, they were all either unhelpful or just plain assholes.

      It is true that in recent years, “beta” has sometimes been twisted to mean an unfinished game; it is usually used this way by indie companies. I mistakenly thought that this would be more like a real beta, since this was developed by Valve. Perhaps this was their mistake in using the word incorrectly; perhaps this was my mistake in assuming they were using the word correctly.

      If you only get your game reviewed by fans, there are obviously going to be only biased reviews. Sometimes companies want a fresh eye to take a look at their game. This is important for getting new people interested in a game; if you’re new to something, you want to see the opinion of others that are new to it. Some of those competent people decided they wanted my opinion on Dota 2. Are you saying they aren’t as competent as you thought?

      My issue with the graphics is that they look too pretty. Or I guess I should say, too cute. Cartoony games graphics have their place, but I don’t expect it in this sort of game. For many years, people have been parsing information in games that don’t look like cartoons.

      I find it hard to believe that Dota is one of the most popular online games of all time. I’m not saying you’re wrong, it’s just hard for me to believe. But that’s largely because I never even heard of it before Dota 2 was announced, despite the fact that I was a Warcraft III player for awhile. It’s also because of Warcraft III’s sales numbers compared to other bestselling online games, – sure, it’s up there, but it didn’t even sell a 3rd as much as, say, Starcraft; not even half as much as Guild Wars – and the assumption that a relatively small portion of Warcraft III players would have played Dota. I guess that all depends on what we’re counting as “most popular”… if we’re talking about a top 10 list Warcraft III itself would not even be on there. I’d love to see some Dota player numbers, if you’d care to link some.

      I’m certainly not trying to imply that I know better! My whole problem with Dota 2 is that I know pretty much nothing about it, and the game itself does not help that, nor do the other players. Or at least, when I played it, it didn’t. I could not go into the future and review the finished product, sadly.

      I would expect anyone on the internet to know the difference between a journalist/reviewer, a news reporter, an advertiser, and a cheerleader. I’m not here to simply tell you games exist, nor to say only that they are great, nor to echo your opinions; I’m here to give my opinions. If Dota is as popular as you claim, I’m sure there are a fuckton of sites that sing Dota 2′s praises, saying it is perfect in every way, that you could be reading instead.

      • dreta says:

        Your perception of what a beta test is, is simply wrong, i’ve never came across anybody complaining about tutorials and introductionary content in a beta. Unless it’s a new game. DOTA2 isn’t a new game, it’s a remake.

        Valve can rely on the huge DotA fanbase to do beta testing without worrying about taking their hand and guiding them step by step. They’re constantly making tweaks to the UI based on constructive feedback, this is what user testing is for, it’s what beta is all about. Writing a tutorial at this stage is pointless because everything is in flux.

        Besides there are plenty of resources that teach DotA, availible on the official playdota site and on the forums, there’s a special service devoted only to guides. This game isn’t anything new and should be treated as such. If you want to learn, you can, there’s plenty of material out there, Valve doesn’t have to support anything at this stage. If you’re going to just get angry that people on the internet were mean to you and that’s the game’s fault, then this is all just a massive troll.

        • s0nicfreak says:

          Right, kid. How long have you been doing beta tests? And how long have you worked in the computer industry? Go look up the word beta as it pertains to software.

          If Valve wanted to simply rely on the huge fanbase to do beta testing, they would do an open beta instead of a selective entry beta where they choose people including those that have no Dota experience.

          I get pissed off when people that are suppose to be my teammates, and are suppose to be beta testing a game along with me, instead of being helpful and working together call me a noob and refuse to work as a team. But do you know what I do when that happens? I stop playing with those people. If I review the game, I’ll say that the other players are assholes, because the other players are a key part of a multiplayer-only game. I don’t go studying outside material in an effort to no longer be seen as a noob in a bunch of assholes’ eyes. I have better games to spend my time playing and better people to spend my time playing with. And really, you’re just perpetuating the belief that all Dota players are assholes.

          I don’t think you know what the word troll means, either.

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