The StarCraft 2 mod Blizzard DOTA was unveiled a year ago at Blizzcon 2010 to mixed reviews and has since been revamped in to a fresh and fast-paced product with the same amount of care that is standard of Blizzard titles. If you want to know about the updated Blizzard DOTA then stay a while and listen, as we’re about to break down the top ten things you need to know about the new and improved version of the StarCraft 2 mod that was on display at this year’s Blizzcon.
Blizzard thought that the amount of stats within the original Blizzard DOTAwere a bit unintuitive so they’ve removed unnecessary math stats like armor and attack speed and replaced them with just three stats: health, damage, and mastery. Health is of course how many hit points your hero has, damage is how hard your Hero will hit others, and each rank of mastery gives your Hero 10% cooldown reduction and 10% more mana.
With simplified stats comes simplified items. Blizzard has completely removed the “recipe” aspect of Dota items and replaced the entire system with just one page of available items. In Blizzard DOTA, your character only has access to four items rather than the standard six, and most of the items can be upgraded twice to increase their power.
Blizzard has also introduced tomes that when used will increase one of your Hero’s three main stats. There are also items called Artifacts that can’t be upgraded, like the Cloak of Flames, that damages enemies around you based on your max health.
Blizzard DOTA is breaking away from the standard tank, damage, and support trinity by adding a fourth type of Hero role to the genre: siege. A siege Hero’s role is to destroy the enemy’s base and towers as effectively as possible. All of their abilities out range towers, so they’re great at pushing lanes by themselves while the other members of the team are off fighting against enemy Heroes. One example of a siege hero is the Witch Doctor. They have a zombie wall ability that is not only great at trapping enemy Heroes, but it can also fit perfectly around a tower to help bring it down quickly, or to help defend their own tower.
Aside from Siege Heroes, Blizzard DOTA does still maintain Tank, Damage, and Support Heroes. Tanks are strong with plenty of hit points and come with a lot of crowd control abilities. Arthas was my favorite Tank Hero. He could summon a ghoul that could be sacrificed to regain HP, use a strong area of effect damage spell called Death and Decay, freeze enemy Heroes in place with his Howling Blast move, or pull enemies toward him and regain HP with his ultimate spell, Death Grip. All of these moves will be familiar to anyone who played a Death Knight in World of Warcraft, and each Hero has their own signature abilities similar to Arthas’.
Damage Heros will be used for ganking and assassinating other Heroes the most. They have the highest burst damage of all the Heroes in the game but they’re extremely squishy with their low hit points. In most cases they’ll have to rely on their tank allies for defense. Characters like Nova and Kerrigan from StarCraft 2 are both damage Heroes.
Finally, there are support Heroes. These extremely essential Heroes dole out buffs, heal their allies, and can change the course of every battle. Uther and Thrall are great support Heroes with their healing abilities. Because the support Heroes offer so much when it comes to the big battles and there is no need to get last hits within Blizzard DOTA, it makes these types of characters much more fun to play.
To introduce a more team driven type of gameplay rather than team competitiveness, last hitting is gone in Blizzard DOTA. Whenever a creep, Hero, or tower dies, those in the area are rewarded an equal amount of experience and money. This leads to support and tank Heroes who don’t deal too much damage to still want to contribute and help out the team as a whole. It also stops the carry types from getting too cocky and ruining the game.
Territorial control is much more important in Blizzard DOTA than it is in standard DOTA/MOBA games. While having map control of the jungle and three lanes is advantageous, Blizzard DOTA also introduces things like Yeti and Ogre camps that add an additional layer to the game.
Killing off Yeti camps in the jungle rewards you with a runestone that you can use to summon one, two, ten, or more, Yetis to a tower to help push that lane back. For example, if you control the jungle for almost the whole game and acquire a ton of Yeti tokens, you can help out an ally Hero who is pushing a lane by throwing a dozen Yetis down. You can also help defend lanes in the same way.
Ogre camps are another new addition to Blizzard DOTA. When you defeat a mercenary camp of Ogres, during your next creep wave one ranged and one melee Ogre that are stronger than standard creeps will join your creeps to help push the lane. There are several ogre camps located on both teams’ side of the map, so whichever team holds more will have stronger creep pushes.
Blizzard DOTA is changing the way that the big boss battle works. Instead of killing a huge boss with your teammates and then getting a rare item, the boss will instead walk out in to the lane (!) and start dealing massive damage to anything in its path. It’s a brilliant addition to the game, and insanely terrifying when a huge boss with Colossus lasers is reigning down its fury upon either you or your enemies.
Towers in Blizzard DOTA act unlike towers in just about every other Dota-esque game. This time around they still do damage to nearby Heroes, but only until they run out of ammunition. The ammo does regen slowly, but once they use up all their ammo, they power down and Heroes can hit and destroy them freely until it starts regenerating which takes a few seconds. They also have less hit points than they do in standard titles, making them even easier to kill. This almost completely does away with the tower hugging aspect of Dota games and allows for characters to have more heroic moments.
Mounts are another new mechanic being introduced to the Dota scene by Blizzard. Replacing the entire “boots” mechanic of other Dota games, every character now gets a mount at the start of the game which they can use to get around faster.
Mounts take two channeled seconds to summon, like in World of Warcraft, and they allow your character to get from place to place on the battlefield much faster. If you get hit while on your mount you’ll be dismounted and stunned for a few seconds.
Since you can use mounts at any time as long as you can get the channel off for two seconds, Mounts add a whole new strategic level to Blizzard DOTA. Because everyone has one, it’s up to the players to use them to run from camp to camp in the jungle, to gank other players, to quickly run to their allies to help, to run away from other players, or anything else. Plus, let’s face it, they’re cute.
Blizzard DOTA will eventually introduce multiple maps. According to the developers, they have been coming up with a few interesting possibilities like changing the amount of lanes or where the big boss spawns. They also have been exploring ideas like introducing themed maps. For example, one map could potentially be themed after Onyxia’s Lair from World of Warcraft and Onyxia herself could be the big boss of the map. Neat!
When the Blizzard Arcade is released with StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard DOTA will have its very own ladder. Meaning, when you play Blizzard DOTA you’ll be matched up against people at your same skill level and will get points and a ranking based on your accomplishments.
The future of Blizzard DOTA is already being talked about by developers. They want to add some sort of reconnect feature to the game and are working on something to penalize people who leave the game early. They also plan on adding things like custom skins and mounts to the game at a later date, but no more information on that was available during our first playthrough of the new version.
Being the Blizzard fangirl I am, I know some of you might roll your eyes when I say that I really loved Blizzard DOTA. However, before you do so let me explain what’s so great about it. First of all, instead of going the standard route and rehashing the standard Dota formula again, they’re innovating and doing something different. With the introduction of mounts, tower ammo, and territorial combat, Blizzard DOTAis challenging the system and from the few games I played at Blizzcon it really seems to be working.
Sure a few things in the UI need tweaks, and some balance issues need to be addressed, but that’s standard for something that’s early in development. Ever since League of Legends‘ Dominion mode came out I’ve been thirsting for a fast paced Dominion-esque version of standard Dota play and that’s exactly what Blizzard DOTA delivers. Games last around 10-25 minutes each, and with so much to do within the map it’s guaranteed that each game will always be different.
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