Brainwaves From Beta: Heroes of Newerth

Heroes of Newerth has been in Open Beta for a while now and the opinion-blocking NDA has now been dropped at last. As such, a perfect time for Beta-Boy Phill Cameron to SHARE BRAIN THOUGHTS via WORDS.

Man, I’m really impressively bad at Heroes of Newerth.

Outside of evil influences of sinister powers beyond our ken, I can’t really explain it. Sure, I was never great at strategy games, but I’m normally quite good at RPGs; figuring out the min-max, getting some pretty buffed out heroes and empathising with the problems of a half-elf sorceress in a society that just doesn’t understand her. So, in theory, a deathmatch type situation where I’ve got to be a towering dude with some sort of special attack, slowly leveling up and becoming more and more powerful, should appeal. Admittedly, not much use for my finely honed Half-Elf-empathising skills, but you can’t have everything. It’s just far enough away from RTS to appeal, while still remaining comfortably familiar. It should work fine.

Should being the operative word. It all goes to hell, and I go to hell, getting killed over, and over, and over, and over.

It’s essentially the spiritual successor to the enormously popular Defence of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III, as S2 recruited the current-”caretaker” of the mod – the mysterious Icefrog – to the team. [IceFrog says not, actually Phill – RPS.] It allows you select from a frankly astonishingly large selection of heroes, each with their own set of 3 different skills, and one ultimate attack. Some of these are passive, and just make your hero better, and others have a range from being Area-of-Effect damage attacks, heals, stuns – everything you’ve come to expect from a post-World-of-Warcraft online RPG of late. Once selected, you take your hero onto the battlefield, and attempt to fight your way to the opponent’s base, to decimate, pillage, and claim victory. A simple concept.

Before I go further, it’s worth pointing out the really impressive job S2 Games have done with the lobby system, giving everyone a public rating that dwindles with every defeat, and grows with each victory. Not only that, but you can see the breakdown of exactly why they have that rating, which lead to the embarrassing analysis of my perfomance from one of my teammates: ’17 deaths in one match? How is that even possible?” Needless to say, we lost that game too. 

Not only this, but there’s an autobalance built into the lobby, so you can create the theoretically most even match up, with the game placing better players with the weaker ones, and then giving you a percentage of victory. Connectivity, famously an issue with Demigod in its earlier days, seems to have nary a worry, with even the option to reconnect to a match in progress if you disconnect unexpectedly, preserving your precious status of having never quit a match before it’s through – because if you’re recorded as having done so, you can be blocked from joining some servers.

The problems arise just before you get into the game. With no obvious breakdown, there’s little indication of which heroes are easier for new players, and which have a slightly more specific play style in mind. And with such a huge number of choices (it seems to number well over 30), it’s hard not to get the impression that balance suffers, and that some guys are better than others. Over the games I played, I definitely saw a definite lean towards certain characters. 

Things simplify when you’re actually in game; there are three main alleys of attack, and down each run your side’s troops, desperate to reach the opponent’s towers and hammer their tiny fists against them, and eventually reach the enemy base. Problem is, the other side has just as many little men, and, left to their own devices, they’ll wipe each other out. So you step in, dispensing your godly power to push your troops forward, and earning experience to grow ever stronger. The desperate thirst for experience is the main reason the game lost its charm for me. Because it’s so pivotal to victory, leveling up takes precedence over all other things, to the extent where deviating from any of the alleys, or running back to base to heal, can place you on the back foot, losing the edge you need for victory. Dying, on the other hand, is not an option, as both the monetary bonus and experience rewarded from them killing you is far too great to ever be considered.

So you end up in a sort of pansy game of slaps, tentatively taking out their troops, all the while desperately looking for an opening to exploit – but, even if you do find one, the instant you start hurting them they run away as fast as they can. You do the same, and so the game becomes all about seeing who can run away fastest, until one of them sneaks around behind you and you get killed. As, indeed, I got killed. Over and over.

The real frustration sets in when you realise that they’ve got a few levels on you all of a sudden, and from then on it’s an uphill battle that you can’t possibly win. While it’s nice to have a concede vote so easily accessible, at the same time it’s treating a symptom, rather than the cause. It’s obvious that the game suddenly becomes unwinnable, and it’s easier to just throw up your hands and surrender, but really, it shouldn’t come to that. The moment I feel like I can’t win a game is the moment I stop playing it.

While I find it hard to say that I enjoyed Heroes of Newerth, at the same time it’s not a bad game. There’s obviously a genuine level of depth and interest there that, once mastered, can create a really intense and interesting type of tactical play. I mock the running away that runs rife in the battles, but at the same time it’s indicative of the way fencers feel each other out before going in for the kill. You’re testing your opponents, not actually trying to kill them. It’s just that, in my experience, I ended up getting killed by that test. Like I said, I’m really quite bad at the game. 

After playing Demigod, in all its streamlined glory, it’s hard to play Heroes of Newerth without comparing the two. Even with only 8 Demigods, there was a balance issue present, with some characters ignored almost wholesale. With 40, things get that much more complicated, and overwhelming for the newcomer. It seems that it’s a real improvement from Defence of the Ancients, and all those I played with seemed to have played both. The problem being, for all its success, not everyone has played Defence of the Ancients. I came to Heroes fresh, interested in the concept behind it, and it just deteriorated into an unfathomable mess of dos and don’ts that I was never told about. I ended up feeling bad for whoever played with me, because it quickly seemed like I was dooming them to failure, merely by being experience fodder for the other team. It simply doesn’t introduce itself well to newcomers. It’s not a team based game like World in Conflict where a player can sit towards the edge while learning how to contribute, effectively just not helping much – it’s a game where an inferior player contributes negatively. You don’t just not help the team win. You actively help your team to lose. That’s tricky.

The balance issues present in the wide array of characters are only going to get ironed out, and the fact there was only one map present in the game in this state obviously limits the options on how to play it, as everyone gets used to its paths and secrets. All the same, I can’t find the will to actually spend the time learning the intricacies.

That said, it does have a splendid Kraken, that oft-neglected by gaming mythological creature. So there’s always that.


  1. army of none says:

    I tried the beta, and the game did seem interesting (In particular, I liked the ranking system), but I don’t think I’ll be buying it. Demigod and DotA will keep me entertained quite well.

    … Could be because I was rather bad at Heroes of Newerth as well.

  2. Simon says:

    Well said, I agree completely.

  3. Sovietmudkipz says:

    Seems like this guy is only worried about new comers.
    I bet if S2 gave him an extensive tutorial, he’d be fine.

    Anyone else notice that S2 are the same ones who brought you Savage 2?

  4. zug zug says:

    Also, the community is full of horrible, bitter twats, even in the “noob only” games I joined I was berated from the get-go for not going to the correct lane or some other atrocity I committed, dooming my team. Although this is most likely a result of the “playing bad makes the other team better” nature of the game, it really makes me sad that my beloved RTS games have devolved to this. I’ll be happy when this genre has run its course.

  5. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Even with only 8 Demigods, there was a balance issue present, with some characters ignored almost wholesale.”

    That may have been the case at the start, with QoT and Sedna, for instance, but now that people have woken up to their survivability, that’s changed. I wouldn’t say any character is ignored now, although clearly there are a lot of Oak/Reg/UB players.

  6. JuJuCam says:

    I pretty much feel this way about most online games in any genre. The many years of my life spent playing and replaying lucasarts and sierra style adventures among other strictly single player games has resulted in a pathetically underdeveloped competitive skillset. Clearly I missed some foundational training that everybody else in the entire online world went through. Is there a remedial course somewhere that I can enrol into?

  7. mister k says:

    This pretty much exactly describes my issues with DOTA. Intense and stat centric, its horribly unfriendly to newcomers, and you feel bad for being so bad. Theres no fun to be had at being a bit poor, as you will just die and die and die and rarely ever get kills, and spend most of the game getting told off for what you do.

  8. Acosta says:

    “Noob, stop feeding” *Gets Kicked*

    That’s my experience with HoN.

  9. KikiJiki says:

    If you think with the current number of heroes it’s overwhelming and imbalanced, please bear in mind that Dota has about 70 to get ported over with/without reworks, rebalances or replacements with new heroes.

    The reason that some heroes tend to get picked a lot right now is either because they have minor issues making them better than they should be, or because the main counters to them have yet to be ported over (the silencer hero is a great example of this, as right now heavy magic based aoe teams will dominate mid to late game whereas a single silencer pick in the general area nullifies that strategy with a passive silence whenever any opponent casts a spell nearby)

  10. snek says:

    I got into the closed beta and have played about 10 matches but somehow I had the same problems as you did. It takes quite a while to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, and once you do know what to do it’s actually not that much fun. Having to run away that often is just not something I want to do in a game. I’d preferably go in “guns-blazing” and take as many suckers with me as I can. Guess that’s why I’m still a sucker for TF2 ;)

  11. Daniel Klein says:

    No one talking about League of Legends yet? Really?

    So I only know DotA and League of Legends. I’d like to hear from someone who’s played all three. From what I can tell so far, though, League of Legends has a few key attributes that might make it superior to HoN:

    1) Attribute power. A new stat that increases damage output for spells. Get an ability power item build and your damage dealing mage-type no longer has to become obsolete half-way through the match.

    2) The attribute system generally. Instead of War3’s Str/Int/Agi system (Str representing max health + health regen, agi attack speed + armor, and int max mana + mana regen, with the additional bit that depending on your hero type, one of the three also directly influences your damage output) Riot have decoupled these concepts from each other. For instance there is max health and health regen and you can have a lot of one without having much of the other. This makes for much more dynamic hero builds, less expectable same-ness, and some really weird and interesting strategies (high ability power melee dps character? Sure, if his name is Jax)

    3) Graphics. If anything, LoL is MORE cartoon like than War3. I find this greatly helps me parse what’s going on. Strong outlines, simple shapes, strong and simple colours. Not to mention I also happen to prefer stylized graphics over realistic ones.

    4) The summoner skills and that whole meta system around the game. LoL introduces the idea of a “summoner”, a meta character you play who gains experience between matches. Your summoner brings two spells into battle and has mastery trees and rune pages he can fiddle with. For instance I’ve been working on a rune page for maximum dodge in game. It’s nothing major, but it does introduce a new strategic axis.

    So, anyone here who’s played LoL, DotA, AND HoN?

  12. Sparvy says:

    A small correction, Im fairly certain Icefrog has not been recruited to the team, its more that they asked him if he would have anything against them making a complete remake of DotA; and he answered “whatever”.

    That said, yes, DotA and HoN are not very friendly to newcomers, which is not neccessarily a bad thing. All I can say is that when it all clicks, your on a good team, you play a hero you like and understand and you are racking up kills, then it is amazingly gratifying.

  13. TotalBiscuit says:

    News just in, DoTA clone like DoTA. More at 11…

    Seriously though, DoTA and as such HoN, are hardcore titles with steep learning curves. That’s the way they work. Demigod was a prissy, shallow piece of shit in comparison and it’s community is already dead in the water after a few months. Yes, you are going to get trashed and yes, this kind of game will attract elitist twats, that is the way of things. This is not a black mark against the game, it is simply something that comes with the territory, human nature in a highly competitive environment if you will.

    To be honest, being proactive yourself can solve most of these problems. Why play with pubbies when pubbies are universally awful in competitive games? Play with friends, get involved in a clan, or make your own. Play with those people as you learn who are going to be far more forgiving of your lack of expertise. If anything, should have taught you that pubbies are awful and should be avoided at all costs.

    At the end of the day, if you didn’t like DoTA, you will not like HoN. Even after the tutorials have been put in (yes, it’s a beta, tutorials are very low on the list of priorities when you have a massive group of people who are already familiar with DoTA to beta-test it for you and as such, don’t need the tutorials) you’re still going to hate it. It punishes you for mistakes, you can totally screw up with no chance of recovery, you can be trampled on the entire game and be a genuine albatross around the neck of your team.

    And some of us, like it that way.

  14. TotalBiscuit says:

    @sparvy – “A small correction, Im fairly certain Icefrog has not been recruited to the team, its more that they asked him if he would have anything against them making a complete remake of DotA; and he answered “whatever”.” –

    You’re both wrong. He consulted for them freelance, he was never officially part of the team, but he didn’t just smile and nod either.

  15. Oh Reginald says:

    Hmmm, well, you can’t like every game. Did you read the forums? What the game lacks in documentation or hints the forum guides pretty much make up for imo. This is definitely not a game to pick up if you don’t like getting pwned over and over until you learn how to actually play, though. Don’t buy Demon’s Souls, either.

  16. abhishek says:

    The game itself is pretty good. A nice, new Dota with some useful additions to the game. There are a couple of things that I find, for lack of a better word, strange

    This particular game and genre have a very steep learning curve. Not as bad as, say, Eve Online but significantly more than almost every other game that comes out these days. I know that accessibility is sometimes treated as a dirty word by PC gaming elitists (who associate it with the ‘dumbing down’ of their hobby). However, I really do think that it takes a lot of courage on the part of a developer to release a game where, I imagine, a lot of people will simply not buy it due to this being unable to scale this threshold.

    The second thing I find strange is how it is this particular sub genre of RTS gaming that seems to have (and probably with good reason) the most widely lambasted communities. What is it about this type of gameplay that attracts the people who behave so mean towards others?

  17. nine says:

    Nice game, shame about the players!

  18. TotalBiscuit says:

    @abhishek – The reason players act this way in games like that is that being a terrible player in HoN/DoTA doesn’t just drag the overall effectiveness of your team down, it actively makes the opposing team stronger. The term ‘feeder’ describes it well, a bad player ‘feeds’ the enemy team with experience and gold. He’s not just hurting his team by omission, he’s actively hurting them. It’s like a convoluted form of team-killing, you are causing your team-mates to die through your own lack of skill and knowledge.

    If you have any sense, you don’t play with pubbies. Pubbie DoTA is terrible, pubbie HoN is terrible. Either with a group of friends online or at a LAN party, is amazing fun that gives you literally hundreds of hours or more of enjoyment.

  19. Butler` says:

    The funny thing about this (and dota) is that the “skill” in the game is 1/10th being able to click your hero backward and forward and learning to stare at the minimap for at least a third of your time and 9/10ths just sheer knowledge of the classes and what to do any given situation.

  20. Sparvy says:


    Its pretty simple really, in most shooters even if you team is bad you can still do pretty good yourself, pulling of headshot like normal. In DotA/HoN/LoL if your team is bad you enemies will become stronger, making you weaker in comparison, so therefor everytime a teammate screws up (or, god forbid, leave) you chances of doing good diminishes, that coupled with 40min games that in the worst case scenarion is just you getting slaughtered and stomped on the entire time, tends to make people abit tough on new people.

  21. Chris says:

    It should be pointed out that along with the rating system, you have the option to play “noob only” or “pro only” games. As a new player, you can prohibit players above a certain rating from joining your game while you learn to play. That seems like a fair addition in my mind.

  22. MSR says:

    I don’t think DotA (and by association HoN) can really be defined by an existing game genre and this creates lots of little problems for people. My friend who introduced me to the game likened it to “chess mixed with football” which isn’t too far off the mark. It has been one of the most gratifying and interesting games i’ve ever played but also one of the most frustrating.

    What makes HoN so special in my mind is that it does away with a vast majority of the frustrations of DotA. Most notably the bronze-age match making of blizzards craptacular warIII (which still costs $40?!) and many GUI tweaks. Of course if you never played DotA then these changes are meaningless because the game is still brutally hard and played world wide.

  23. TotalBiscuit says:

    @Butley` Similarly, the skill in chess is 1/10ths being able to move the pieces backward and forward and learning to stare at the board for most of your time and 9/10ths just sheer knowledge of the strategies and what to do in any given situation.

    Not a perfect analogy, but gaming ‘skill’ does not begin and end at twitch and accuracy.

  24. Sparvy says:


    Not quite true, there is alot more to it than that, to synergise skill comboes between different heroes, setting up ambushes, controlling the map with wards and roaming heroes and not to mention the art of last hitting/denying or animation canceling, requires you to do a little more than you described.

  25. KikiJiki says:

    @Sparvy @TotalBiscuit

    Both of you are totally right, just add to that the ability to read the game into the mix and the skill cap gets even higher. It’s extremely satisfying to be able to predict what’s coming and avoid it, and just as frustrating to issue a warning and it go wasted, just as the guy you warned gets ganked.

  26. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I couldn’t agree more, I do believe there is a very good game hidden in there but for a newcomer to this kind of game to just be dropped into it and left to fend for themselves with a frankly twattish community as the only resource to your learning what the hell to do I don’t think it will endear itself to many.

  27. MasterTab says:

    Yea i’ve played all 3 Hon Dota and LOL, dota is one of my favs, but hon is so polished up graphically that it’s alot of fun, LoL is by far the worst of the three, allthough it does have some nice features to it such as your summoner lvls after a game, then you can pick a skill, allmost xactly like the talent trees in wow. Both Hon and dota are about equal, I love HoN lobby/game control/friend lists it’s really a great game once you get the hang of it.

  28. abhishek says:

    TotalBiscuit : I understand your point of course, and I agree that the game is best played with Friends (which game isn’t).

    I played Dota for a couple of years but it was on my college LAN. 10 friends used to get in, play random heroes on long games and no matter what the outcome was, we had fun playing it. If someone was weaker, we tried to balance the teams accordingly. If someone was just new, there were always 2-3 other friends sitting on his bed right next to him guiding him every step of the way. Over the course of that time, we came across all kinds of situations… Good players having bad games, weaker ones dominating and everything in between. Sometimes games were decided on pure skill, other times it seemed like dumb luck. And of course, a lot of hours wasted if the game got one sided or a computer crashed or whatever. But overall, we never stopped enjoying the game, and we never took out our frustrations on each other. I realize that we played in a closed ecosystem that was not subject to the the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

    But I still really don’t understand how making someone else feel bad over not playing well in a game is justified. I know it happens in all games, but Dota and it’s clones seem to have it more than the others. Wasn’t there some thread a few weeks ago in which Brad Wardell (CEO of Stardock) literally washed his hands off the Demigod community for being so toxic? I can imagine what levels of frustration would have precipitated such drastic words/actions.

    I honestly can’t imagine how anyone new puts up with both the steep learning curve and a hostile community long enough to become good at it.

  29. TotalBiscuit says:

    @abhishek – Well like you said, the greater internet fuckwad theory applies. Combine that with the aforementioned explanation of aggressive behaviour due to the way the game works and you have a recipe for a community of absolute dicks.

    Now as for how anyone new puts up with it, it’s very simple, they don’t enter the community. I learned DoTA with friends from my vent server. Those are the only people I will actively play with and I’m not losing anything by doing so since I have no interest in the tournament/league scene so why even venture onto at all? I would strongly recommend doing so, indeed, we have a very active community of players of our own at WoW Radio and blacklist unpleasant people.

  30. Phill Cameron says:

    In regards to the community of HoN, I have to say that whenever I stated that I was new, and didn’t really know how the play the game, at least one person on the team at least tried to give me a few pointers. That was far more the case than then being spiteful or malicious towards me just because I didn’t know what I was doing.

    At the same time, it did seem like they were far more concerned with doing well themselves than making sure I didn’t mess up too often, so I guess it could work both ways. Then again, I didn’t find the Demigod community particularly malicious either. I guess I just got the best of the bunch, from what you guys are saying.

  31. TotalBiscuit says:

    @Sp4rkR4t DoTA has millions of players and there is no tutorial to speak of. The full version of HoN will have extensive tutorials and tips. Again, it’s a beta, you are not going to get your hand held.

  32. Hecktar says:

    I play the beta and share many of these feelings. It’s just another game where there is a RIGHT way to play and all the other DOOMED ways. It’s rote memorization more then anything else. About 30 heroes to play with and I see the same seven heroes dominating the field. So many options and yet creative play will just get you killed. As said, no win situation crop up very early in the game. And you find your self playing a pointless charade of a match, looking for a turn-around that never comes. Once you started to lose, you will keep losing. And I find the similarity to Warcraft 3 disturbing. The art-style, the heroes themselves, even their powers seem to echo with it. It’s a shame because Savage’s setting (Newerth) was unique, and here it seems almost to meld with Blizzard’s.

  33. Xizor says:

    So I played alot of Dota and obviously I have none of the newbie problems that the author of this article has. So I’m a little sad that this article might potentially scare away new players.
    I think if you keep to the newbie games and actively try to ask for advice you’ll be fine most of the time. Also the game will be alot more fun if you play it with friends and maybe even use ventrilo or teamspeak for fast communication.
    There should be some tutorials on the forum for new players aswell.

  34. Sarre says:

    I have the same problem with Demigod – I enjoyed the demo and bought the game, but suddenly with experienced players I can do NOTHING right. If I play too aggressively I get slaughtered, if I run away too much I get berated. I just wind up feeling guilty for ruining everyone else’s game. It feels like if you didn’t start playing the game religiously at launch there’s no place for you in the community. The fact that it has NO tutorial at all doesn’t help. Even after researching my character’s builds and gameplay styles I really struggled. Now I’m just not really playing anymore. Being jerks about noobs is just a good way for the community to kill off its own game.

  35. Pat says:

    Having now played all four of these games – DotA, HoN, Demigod, and LoL – I can say that LoL is my favourite precisely because it addresses some of the issues that I most agreed with in this post: it is extremely welcoming to new-comers. Now, it still has a steep learning curve, and is a very difficult game, like all of them, to master, but it tries harder than all of them – you’re always presented with ideas for builds, recommended items, and so forth. Very kind.

    LoL also has a nicely presented metagame, with a few minor issues. That being said, I like HoN’s and Demigod’s assortment of options and gametypes – that was pretty refreshing.

    The thing that most disappointed about HoN, actually, was exactly how much it was such a DotA clone. It’s only barely hidden; the characters are the same, only the names have changed. Even the “useless” buildings in the base, a hold-over from building out of the W3 engine, are there. It’s all a little bit ridiculous, and targetted towards people who don’t know any better (and by “Better” I mean LoL)

  36. Scylla says:

    As been previously said the community is horrid.

    Joined for the first time in a “NOOBS ONLY GAME” in caps and all, din’t really know how to play the game died in the first time time i found a enemy player, it resulted in insults and a vote to kick me. I mean, is a game with caps saying NOOBS ONLY and peopels tart to kick after one death. That was my first game, the others were a little better but there was the general awfull community.

    On the game itself, there is explanation of anyting of how the game works, what peopel should do, or even a way to check your the various characters before you join a game, so you have the limited time to choose a hero of the enourmous selection there withotu havving no clue what they do.

    For me the biggest detractor of the game (besides having absolutly no explanation of how anything works and you cant even see the characters before you are in a game to know what they do) is the DO NOT DIE priority over everything else, not fighting anyone is better than fighting, if you see a enemy, you run away, if you get hurt you run away, never risk dying or you are gimping your team. Really a bad desing decission imo, focus should be to get there in the middle of stuff and beat each other, not stay at the ack and run away the moment someone sees you.

  37. Jayt says:

    The only reason I have continued playing this game is that I have a mate who played dota, and is teaching me the ropes. But word for the wise, be prepared for a pretty toxic community.

  38. JonFitt says:

    I played one full game of Newerth where we (no thanks to me) built up a wider and wider lead on kills (mostly by one or two players) until they could annihilate anything on the field and the other team largely quit and then conceded.

    The trouble was it was unwinnable for them for probably 20 minutes at the end, after another 20 minutes of, as you describe it, slaps.
    It wasn’t exactly an exciting battle, more like a slow tug of war where you drag the other team along the ground for 20 minutes after they fall over.

    Not a patch on the excitement of a CoH or DoW2 battle.

    I died a few times early on and ended up way below their best players so spent my time running away from the action to try and kills creeps in peace.

    It’s interesting to compare it to something like TF2 because with the death and respawn it has a multiplayer fps like feel.
    In an fps it’s clear to see that a system where for every kill you get your player gets more and more health and your weapon does more and more damage you would quickly have the situation where one person would dominate a map and everyone else might as well quit.

  39. bigblackjesus says:

    @Scylla: They are adding a feature into the game where you will be able to putz around with the heroes and try out their skills/item builds. Also the DO NOT DIE priority is what makes the game so strategic, Dieing isnt just a setback for you its a boon to the enemy. THere will be times when you are at half health and you have to make a decision wether its safe enough to run after the enemy or if its safe to try and bait them till an ally can come help you gank.

  40. CJohnson03 says:

    this game is so backwards. I never played DOTA, and I won’t play this any more.. you avoid attacking creeps? killing your own creeps to deny the enemy? Memorizing all 40 heroes to become a mildy competent player? Huh.

  41. Desoxy says:

    I also have to chime in with the crowd saying that LoL is a better game than HoN, though I first expected it to be the other way round.
    There are so many little tweaks in LoL that I’ve come to love, like the fact that you can buy stuff while you’re dead, you’re presented with recommendations if you don’t know what to buy, the “ability”-power concept, the graphics style with its sharp edges, the very helpful mini-map and and and..

    When I joined HoN I couldn’t make out where the creeps ended and the heroes started, everything was one big mash-up. Furthermore I had no idea what to buy for my hero and ultimately started feeding the enemy team that just killed me over and over again while I was trying to get the hang of the game. HoN is very unfriendly to beginners in that regard and I don’t know if I really want to make the effort, when LoL was fun from the first second..

  42. WantOn says:

    I’d take issue with some of the comments in the article, but I’d be guilty of picking nits the size of my own tackle. I agree with the sentiments though. It isn’t friendly to new players and frankly, it never will be. I don’t think you could design tutorials for a lot of the lessons you need to learn. The best way to learn is by reading and playing with someone you know. I am another in the ‘was taught to play by friends on vent’ camp and it made things a lot, lot easier.

    Having said that, games amongst friends can be inredible. I have seen late-game turn arounds, some of which have been extraordinary. Dying late game sees you out of action for over a minute, which can be plenty of time for the opposition to get well into your base. Again, some heroes (especially strength heroes) just get better as they level, whilst those who excel at lower levels tend to get ‘worse’ (e.g. the Pyromancers and Thunderbringers) at higher levels comparitively.

    I’d say that people who are interested should not be put off by this, but step into it with the knowledge that it will take a lot effort to get something out and is a whole lot easier with a friend to hold your hand along the way.

  43. Bossman says:

    I personally hate LOL because it has that whole grinding aspect. You have to play dozens of matches before you have unlocked everything and gained all stat boosts.

  44. Butler` says:

    I’m saying that vs. a normal RTS like SC/WC3 or an FPS or whatever the ‘doing’ is very much less than the ‘knowing’.

    A comparison to chess isn’t terribly helpful… degrees of complexity etc…

    […]just add to that the ability to read the game into the mix and the skill cap gets even higher

    That’s all still knowledge based.

    My point being it’s really not hard to get ‘good’ at HoN by simply learning the game from a single character’s point of view, learning it’s skill order, item order etc.

    And yeah, Sparvy, denying/last hitting and attack animations is about as good as it gets (and is again something that is easier to do if you practice with one hero).

  45. Scott Kevill says:

    As mentioned, “noob-only” games do nothing to solve a problem like this. All you end up with is “pro-noobs” that don’t consider themselves good enough to be “pro” and will still berate out the real newcomers. If you look at most of the comments around the web about newcomer experiences with these games, their tales of hostility have been in “noob-only” games anyway.

    This happens in all games with anonymous players, but it’s amplified in this case because of what is effectively a poor game design. A team is basically penalised twice for a weak team-mate. Once by weakening the team, and once by strengthening the opposing team. What’s worse, the gap widens and accelerates as the game progresses, so the designers shouldn’t really be surprised at the rage it induces.

    As always, but especially here, the best way to play is with friends. Be it LAN party or private internet games, differing skill levels don’t end up mattering as much as having a good time.

    That’s the whole reason I created GameRanger.

  46. Flappybat says:

    One of the few non simulators I’ve played which has a learning cliff instead of curve which it happily throws you off. It feels like counterstrike level competitiveness and player skill formed into an RTS, no bad thing but an ordeal on even a newbie server when you have no idea what the dozens of units, abilities and shop items do.

  47. Railick says:

    I find it strange that everyone is kind of missing out on the fact that this entire genre has already been done before (Long before) and better by games such as Dynasty Warriors :P I’ve always had a LOT more fun playing Dynasty Warriors than DotA. I think a game that combines that two (maybe a 3d person over the shoulder game where the soliders respawn and your character gains levels and gets skills and abilities unlocked ect durning the game play and allows for weapons and armour being aquired durning the game but in the end always comes down to personal skill not so much the stats ect)

  48. Marty Dodge says:

    Woah, very infrequently do I read a piece on a game that sums up my feeling to the letter. Well put mate and spot on.

  49. Jesse Dailey says:

    The truest line in the review:
    “There’s obviously a genuine level of depth and interest there that, once mastered, can create a really intense and interesting type of tactical play.”

    He should have continued, “that only previously existed in one precious gem of a game anywhere in the world, and now will exist in two.” :)

    Also, balance issues: Since they are taking DOTA’s numbers verbatim for almost all the heroes, they have a 5 year head start on balancing, unlike their competition League of Legends which will struggle through those first several years with major balance problems in the meta game.

  50. cyrenic says:

    I’m giving this game time almost solely because of how good the lobby and connectivity are. I liked Demigod’s actual gameplay a lot more, but the connectivity is a night and day difference for me. As far as I can tell, HoN uses dedicated servers while Demigod uses peer to peer, and it makes a huge difference when playing 5vs5’s.