Summary: The original Defense of the Ancients , a custom map for Warcraft III , became a hit almost instantly. Chances are, if you were playing Warcraft around that time, you've played a round or two of DotA . Since then standalone games like League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth have risen up, following the basic idea that DotA popularized way back when. Finally, after some legal issues and a very long beta phase, Dota 2 has been officially released.
Conclusion: DotA 2 is a bit of an interesting title. As the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre has gotten larger, almost every title in it owes some form of respect to DotA 2, or at least the original DotA. It’s the game that started a genre (despite what those bastards who still play Aeon of Strife try to tell you), but that doesn’t mean it’s good.
Conclusion: Dota 2 deserves its intimidating reputation, and it probably won’t suit you if you’re looking to play casually. There’s a huge time investment before you can even enjoy a game, let alone feel competent at it. But once you start to learn its secrets, there’s a wild and exciting variety of play here that’s unmatched, even by its peers. It’s a challenge of knowledge as well as reflexes, and success is a rush.
Summary: Dota 2 is hard, but there's a huge reward for those who commit. On the surface, the game is a like-for-like reproduction of the genre-creating (and still updated) Defense of the Ancients modification for Warcraft III , now transferred into Valve's Source engine. The game's punishing design is sometimes enough to drive you up the wall, but it's worth sticking the hours in: success in Dota 2 is about learning to effectively juggle both the broad strokes and finer details.
Pros: Deep and rewarding team action, Matches are incredibly exciting and unpredictable, Fair free-to-play business model, Brimming with style and personality, Intricate map offers a wealth of strategic possibilities
Excerpt: Two teams of five fight across three lanes. Three specific types of shop sell sixty different magical items. There are more than a hundred characters to play, and an unknown quantity still to come. Eight types of specific role that you can play as part of your team. It’s safe to say that Dota 2 is a game of numbers. Despite Valve’s best efforts to ease players in gently, Dota 2 is an inherently overwhelming game.
Excerpt: Dota 2 has just officially released. It’s been in Beta for over two years now, and I’ve been on board right from the start. Over the past couple of years Dota 2 has evolved quite substantially: new heroes are regularly added, new features and modes get introduced, and the menus and hero models get revamped. This has been, for all intents and purposes, a complete game for some time now, but one that has been (and continues to be) constantly updated and improved.
Excerpt: DOTA 2 is Valve's newest addition to the lane pushing genre, which include games such as League of Legends (LoL) and Heroes of Newerth (HoN). The genre was basically founded by the prequel, Defense of the Ancients, which is a user-created mod for Warcraft III and has been reported to be one of the the most popular mods in the history of gaming.
Pros: Interesting mechanics, possibility to improve, team-work orientated multiplayer experience
Cons: Appalling online community, very intensive gameplay
Excerpt: Of the half-dozen people I started learning Dota 2 with, three still play regularly. Though there are hundreds of thousands of players of our approximate skill level populating the matchmaking queues, the four of us are more like each other than we are like anyone else playing Valve’s isometric wizard-’em-up.
Conclusion: If there is one thing Dota 2 sparks more than anything, it is the perfect implementation of competitive and cooperative gameplay, so sublime that even PvP fanatics are enraptured by the addiction to play just one more round. I don't doubt tournaments will be easy to find, and hopefully online ladders and remote tourneys will be plentiful as well.