The asymmetrical nature of the hero design in DotA 2, as much as I love the idea of it, rarely works out in public match making. As explained in my previous post, there are heroes that have no business being on the field by themselves, but when combined properly they become a force multiplier which really unbalances a match when not countered. Then there are other heroes, such as Ursa or Lycan, that when played well singlehandedly destroy the other team (often referred to as “pubstomping” heroes).
This leads to one-sided games and the more I play DotA 2 the more I realize the public matchmaking games at my level are terribly lop sided. In fact, I went back over my history of recent games and found only a single game that was competitive. All of the other games were steam rolled by one of the teams and were decided within the first 15 minutes.
I must note that this is actually part of the game design for this genre. It is also what gives these games such high skill caps and great competitive scenes that are quickly taking over eSports. However, I can’t help but feel that it really damages the casual scene and in the case of DotA 2, so far, it seems to be a much bigger issue than other games I have played.
In comparison, in my time with League of Legends, I have certainly seen my fair share of lop sided victories and losses. Yet, I have also been involved in far more competitive matches via public match making than I have in DotA 2. Not nearly as often did I feel like a match was a complete wash and in games that were a wash there was the forfeit vote or the dominating team could easily and quickly push to finish the match which brings me to my next two gripes about DotA 2: the length of matches and the lack of a forfeit feature.
Length of Matches
DotA 2 matches last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, more often than not leaning towards the hour mark. Combined with load times and match making time, I would estimate a player averages one game per hour. This is just too long, especially when considering that many of the matches are pretty much determined by the 15-20 minute mark and the rest of the time is spent just waiting for the towers and base to fall. Unlike League of Legends, DotA 2 does not really have anything that speeds up the inevitable push so to avoid leaver penalties many players end up just AFK in the fountains for 30 minutes waiting for the match to be finished.
DotA 2, by its mere design, should have a way to concede a match. Currently the only safe way out of a match is if someone makes the first move and disconnects, allowing all others to drop out without penalty. After the 15 minute mark, a team should be able to call a vote to concede.
This is a minor complaint, but may in the long run be the biggest problem for DotA 2 with its Free 2 Play business model. The customization items for heroes are not distinguishable and I don’t see how they make someone feel unique. Other than looking good on a player’s profile page, I do not see as nearly as successful a market around customization items as there is in Team Fortress 2 (where the customization items affect game play as well as are clearly distinguishable when playing). This may change as more items are added to DotA 2, but to say that I was less than impressed by what was already out there is a massive understatement.