Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, once said in an interview that he had received angry letters from oldtimers that reproached him on the success of his book. Apparently, they had told him that he wasn’t inventing anything, that they had lived the exact same trip decades before. The writer replied: “Old man, all you had to do was name it and sell it. That’s all I did.”
Don’t rush into it then, classic Dota fans, to hold HoN’s existence against these enthusiastic producers. Nobody’s trying to trick you and you can’t really tag copyright infringement lawsuits on a concept that’s so ambiguous. They say it’s a genre on its own now – MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) – even if it’s got like three representatives.
And yeah, I know it’s an old issue. But the fact that Aeon of Strife clones are based on the same ruleset (rehashed to the point of being almost different) doesn’t mean anybody invented a three-wheeled bike just because they swapped the regular lighting with xenon enhancements. By that I don’t mean that these games are bad or don’t have the merit of certain innovations, the best argument being that I’m still one of the millions of people who yell at their monitors night after night, chasing some pink dragon all over the map.
What catapulted this concept on most Romanian Internet Cafe monitors and Scandinavian LAN Parties was the crazy thrill DotA enjoyed. Who would have thought that a mod (well, a custom Warcraft III map) which resembles a boyband showdown more than a war of reflexes and tactics would spawn its own genre? I can answer that. Anybody. DotA’s appeal manifested itself just like the previous enthusiasm that Counterstrike fans had showed. The principle is simple – we have a thrilling, simple dynamics system, the matches are short enough not to require long hour investments to feel right and, most importantly, this is about multiplayer.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that in multiplayer games, many of the elements we so harshly criticize in single-player just disappear. Play enough DotA and you’ll stop seeing trees, demons and fountains. You’ll start seeing dots, lines and backwater curses in the chat tab instead. You abstractive, you start forgetting presentation and glitter because the purpose is surpassing your adversary in a tactical brawl, not landscape admiring.
Truth be told though, Heroes of Newerth is much faster and much more fluent. Warcraft 3’s engine had a lot of animation and interaction limitations that allowed for numerous exploits and became slightly frustrating for beginners facing off veterans. It also lacked a decent lobby system – Battle.Net wasn’t conceived for DotA and suffixes like „noobs only” or „no dumbfucks” only suggested empirical notions. And ultimately, the graphic aspect and the models were taken off the editor’s mesh database. Not that it’s terribly annoying, as I mentioned before, but to whomever already saw all the fantasy zoo that made up Warcraft III’s model bank was slightly disappointed by the fact that they recognize every retextured model.
So we’ve established that HoN is not after innovation. Therefore, you really have no excuse to drop comments like „Yeh lame DotA clone go Dodgers it works on my system first coment (sic!) kthxbai”.
More to the point, Heroes of Newerth is a DotA worth its price tag. That’s because it has an active and constant support from the developers, because during the beta period a truckload of heroes got introduced, reconfigured and balanced. Because the latency doesn’t get any spikes from the server side and the matchmaking is coherent, fast and ergonomic enough not to get lost among the numerous options.
Plus, we’ve got a rating system that already made a name for itself and the player classification generally follows its value. Aside from the prerequisites expressed in the name of every hosted game, there’s an auto balance option that obviously, er, balances teams depending on the rating of the players. Furthermore, certain participants can be locked if they’re linked at the hip and want to stay on the same side not to rat each other out. And if you get disconnected because of the Internet connection, don’t panic, you can still get back into the fight if it’s only a glitch.
But how friendly is it for newcomers? I imagine there will be a few and I know what it means to go toe-to-toe with veterans in a game. Well, the overall concept is fairly simple to understand, and beginners have a set of recommended items, to understand the idea of an inventory build at least at a basic level. Then there’s the tutorial that will further explain the gameplay mechanics, which you can go through entirely or selectively, depending on how much you already know about the game.
It’s also a good idea to ask your teammates what starting hero you should choose out of the game’s pool that you can actually learn in one go. There are plenty of characters that are useful even in a newbies’ hands and they can teach you the basics of strategizing, ganking, farming and eventually winning the match. The voice chat in the game is pretty functional, and will spare you a lot of written explanations, if your allies can be bothered to mutter something in the microphone.