We neglected to do “Game of the Year” posts last year. Previously we used to do “Fun Game of the Year” lists where we’d talk about the games we had the most fun with that particular year. We’re going back to our roots and posting our “Game of the Year” posts this year.
For me, my game of the year did not come out in 2014. It actually went into beta in 2011. Heck, it’s conception didn’t even happen in this decade — it’s a revamped version of a Warcraft III mod that was popular almost ten years ago. It went out of beta in 2013. And yet it’s the game that has held my attention longer than any other game not named EVE: Online.
I could spend a month’s worth of posts explaining why Dota 2 consumed so much of my time. The short list includes:
- “Quick”, concise games – I know what I’m committing to when I hit “Play” in Dota 2. This isn’t going to be a marathon gaming session. It will be between 40-60 minutes. There will be no do-overs, no quick saves. Just me, my team and uninterrupted mayhem.
- Over 100 heroes to learn and love (and hate) – It takes a while to get used to any one hero and it takes HOURS to get “good”. I would say I am “good” with about ten heroes. There are some I don’t care if I ever play. There are probably another 20-25 I’d like to get better at.
- Never the same game twice – (Which is ironic to say because it’s the EXACT same game EVERY TIME) With two teams of five heroes each, the combinations are limitless. Add in varying skill levels and teammate competency and you’ve go the ingredients for infinite variety.
- Free to play, pay to be different – This is actually going to be the subject of its own post, but I used to think free-to-play games that offer character customization (flair, if you will) was no way to run a free to play game. After having spent more on Dota 2 than I would buying a triple-A title, I have to say that Valve got free-to-play “right”.
- The pro scene – I sometimes compare the pro Dota 2 scene to professional golf. Golf is a game that has a low enough bar for entry that just about anyone can play it. At the same time, the level of play of professionals is so advanced, no weekend warrior will ever be as good. But they are playing essentially the same game. Other pro sports are not like that. Your yearly Turkey Bowl with you buddies is not and will never be the Super Bowl. Dota 2 enthusiasts can watch a Dota 2 pro match and understand the strategy and gameplay and think “I could do that”.
- I am a collector and stats whore – See above about customizing your character for the collector part — I love my Dota 2 inventory. But if you’ve followed this blog since the beginning, you’ll know how much of a stats whore I am (Halo 3, for instance). There is a ton of data generated during each match of Dota 2, and there are great sites like dotabuff.com that will aggregate and present it so you can brag to your friends after that great 20-3-15 game.
Yes, the game has a community that is usually toxic but there are always pleasant little surprises sprinkled in among the dreck. If you find some dudes that don’t disparage your manhood nor question your ancestry (like the guys in the Buttonmashing Steam Group!), team up with them again. It’s safer to go into the Swamps of Sadness with some mates.
Even though there is a lot, this post is just scratching the surface. I’d really like to delve deeper into some of the games mechanics and concepts and the things that you can do around the periphery of the game as the year goes on. So I hope you like reading about Dota 2, because I sure like it as a game!