Sep 9, 2009

[Games] Defense of the Ancients (DotA)

Defense of the AncientsBlizzard has always been fairly supportive of its user community given they've been providing map editors for their WarCraft games. It gave the players a chance to create their own missions and maps for multiplayer use and that has become a standard for many other real-time strategy games.

With the evolution of the WarCraft series over the years, the game has progressed from being just another real-time strategy game to one that has all the trademarks of the Blizzard gaming experience - compelling storylines, complex missions and great cut sequences. To add even more to the game. WarCraft III was the first time that the game added in heroes, similar to games like Heroes of Might and Magic. These heroes act as generals with special ability and even level up with experience.

Now combine the elements of heroes plus the map editor and you get almost completely different gaming experiences using the WarCraft III engine. Even though WarCraft now seems to be focused on expanding in the MMORPG arena, that doesn't mean that this part of the game is lost to the gaming world.

Defense of the Ancients is essentially a custom map using the WarCraft III engine as a basis. However instead of the typical RTS gaming format, this actually feels more like an RPG or an adventuring game since the only unit you really have to control is hero.

A game of DotA Allstars in progressImage via Wikipedia

The premise is simple - The are The Sentinels and The Scourge as two opposing factions and your hero can start on either side. The goal is to destroy the other team's Ancient - essentially a very powerful structure that acts as the center of the opposing camp. To aid you, the map automatically generates supporting troops called Creeps at regular intervals provided the required unit-creating structures are still intact.

The real fun of the game comes into play when the heroes get involved. These are not the typical heroes from the original game but are highly edited and specialized versions that had some pretty powerful abilities. In support of these characters are a diverse inventory of weapons of differing kinds that one will need gold to purchase. Thus you end up with characters who can call down powerful lightning storms or summon hordes of the undead.

It's interesting to note how this basic map has evolved over the years and DotA (as it is abbreviated) continues to be one of the most-played WarCraft III maps around. There are entire gaming tournaments centered around the map and the continued development of the line, especially the DotA Allstars version by "Icefrog" remains highly popular among gaming fans.

The fun in the game is either continually refining the strategy of your chosen hero or to continually try other heroes in order to learn different strategies and tactics. Given you have heroes whose abilities are centered around the Strength, Intelligence or Agility attributes, there remains to be a wide range of possibilities for how the any game will go.

No matter how much time passes, I still find myself going back to this game time and time again. It's not much fun when played single player and it's really meant to be a multiplayer experience. There's just something about the challenge of fighting a human opponent with those kinds of abilities that really gets one going.

Defense of the Ancients gets 5 Necronomicons out of 5.


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