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Have you played… Dota 2?

Mid pro quo

Because I have. Maybe too much. 2816.6 hours of Dota 2, according to Steam, and that doesn’t count the days I’ve spent flying out to watch more talented people play it in arenas. It’s easy to get lost in, is Dota, and not just in the bad ways – even after a series of crap matches, it’s so easy to sink further into its incredible depth, its neverending wizard fight nuances, that it could be hour number 2820 before coming back up for air.

Cover image for YouTube videoTrue Sight : The International 2021 Finals Trailer

By contrast, every other MOBA I’ve tried has ended up uninstalled in short order. Is it just Dota 2’s complexity that makes it special? It helps, I think – with expansiveness comes room to experiment, and heroes aren’t as forcibly pigeonholed into specific roles or meta item builds as you might figure. But there’s so much else that I couldn’t possibly articulate it all. Maybe it’s the length of the games; 40ish minutes on average is a big commitment, but leaves time for your own, memorable little narratives to develop across every match. Personalities, too, provided no-one says anything daft enough for a voice and chat muting.

Or maybe it’s the humour, which is laid on thick in both intentional (every hero is a pun-spewing comedy psychopath, something that’s sorely missing from the dour Dota: Dragon’s Blood anime) and unintentional flavours. Yes, it sucks when your team gets splatted 4v5 and you pan down to see your most powerful ally absentmindedly punching goblins in a forest. But… it’s also kinda funny, no?

All that said, I do recommend new players start off with some Easy-difficulty bot matches. Dota 2’s onboarding process is much improved since I started in 2015, but there's nothing like learning by doing where Dotes is concerned. And even if you only learn how to play a couple of heroes, that can be enough to sustain the drama, laughs, and achingly satisfying sorcery for weeks.

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Dota 2

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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.