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.
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