Taking a more humorous angle with their official Defense of the Ancients, Blizzard pits their various iconic characters like Thrall, Kerrigan, Arthas and the new Diablo III Witchdoctor against each other for the amusement of two gods and “ladder points”. The full FAQ is after the break:
Q: What is Blizzard DOTA™?
A: Blizzard DOTA™ is a new official custom game for StarCraft® II, inspired by the Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) custom map for Warcraft® III. Much like other DOTA-style games, Blizzard DOTA is a team-based competitive game in which each player controls a powerful hero with unique abilities, and works with his or her team to invade and destroy the enemy team’s base. We’re taking a fun approach to Blizzard DOTA and hope that players enjoy battling each other with heroes from across the various Blizzard universes.
Over the course of a match, waves of computer-controlled creatures for each team advance automatically across the map along different pathways. Players fight alongside these creatures to advance the battlefront, destroy enemy towers, and eventually push into the enemy base. Other points of interest are guarded by neutral hostile creatures; capturing and controlling these points grants bonuses to your team.
As your team kills computer-controlled creatures and other players, your hero will gain experience and levels to strengthen his or her special abilities. You’ll also earn gold which you can use to purchase upgrades and items to customize and improve your hero over the course of a match.
Q: What makes Blizzard DOTA stand apart from other DOTA-style games?
A: We’ve always enjoyed the original DOTA and other DOTA-style games, as they’re known for deep and compelling team-based gameplay. One thing they’re also known for, however, is a demanding learning curve. We’re excited to do our own take on the genre, with the goal of applying Blizzard’s “easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master” philosophy to the overall design. We’re also adding gameplay elements to encourage more aggressive, fast-paced gameplay, as well as team fights all over the map.
One example of how Blizzard DOTA handles things differently is how towers work. The towers in the lanes are powerful entities that can quickly decimate enemy heroes that wander into their range. But unlike many other DOTA-style games, the towers in Blizzard DOTA have a limited amount of energy that slowly recharges over time. This means that a team making a concerted push against a tower can force that tower to run out of ammo, making it easier to overrun the position. This encourages more team-based aggression and reduces the amount of defensive, tower-hugging play in the early-mid game.
The “jungle” (the neutral area between lanes) is also handled a little differently in Blizzard DOTA. Many traditional DOTA-style games offer neutral creep camps that confer individual bonuses to players that clear out these camps. In Blizzard DOTA, the primary features of the jungle are power nodes, guarded by neutral creeps. Teams that take control of these nodes will add strength to their team’s creatures in the lanes. This means that gaining control of the jungle will push the battlefront in the lanes into your team’s favor, thus making the jungle nodes key points of interest on the map, ripe for team fights.
While those are just a couple features of Blizzard DOTA that we hope will encourage more aggressive gameplay and more team-based play styles, we also have an eye to making the learning curve easier. We don’t think players should feel compelled to spend an inordinate amount of time researching game guides and item builds before they’re even comfortable trying a different hero. Primarily, we’re interested in adding clarity by eliminating redundancies in hero abilities and items, and we think players will find this reflected in the design of the heroes and in-game item shop.
Q: How many heroes are included in Blizzard DOTA, and what roles do they play?
A: The version we’re showing at BlizzCon includes 12 different heroes that fall into one of four different class types: tank, damage-dealer, support, and siege. Tanks function as advertised — they tend to be heavily armored and are designed to soak up damage as they initiate battle and try to control fights. Damage-dealers are the hardest-hitting heroes, but they tend to be more fragile — teams will need to keep them protected. Support heroes have abilities that can do a wide range of different functions in team fights such as healing, stuns, and other methods of crowd control. Siege heroes have a unique role. They can attack from long range, making them ideal for destroying enemy towers. They also tend to have abilities that affect a wide area, making them useful for controlling space in team fights.
We plan to add more heroes before we officially release Blizzard DOTA. One thing to keep in mind is that we want to ensure every hero and ability feels truly unique — we want quality over quantity. One of the pillars of our design philosophy with Blizzard DOTA is that the heroes should fit their roles very strongly and contribute from a team perspective. Not every hero needs to be a high-damage killing machine to be valuable to the team, and our game design is informed by that philosophy.
Q: What kind of achievements and rewards will be included?
A: When Blizzard DOTA launches, you’ll get access to a small group of heroes to start with. As you play matches, more heroes will unlock. When you’ve earned all of the heroes, you can begin unlocking cosmetic “prestige” items by winning games with specific heroes. Prestige items can include alternate weapons, crowns, and other accessories.
Q: Will there be stat-tracking of any kind, such as ladders, skill ratings, and so on?
A: Initially Blizzard DOTA will include an automated matchmaker based on skill, similar to the regular StarCraft II ladder. We’ll also track various stats such as number of player takedowns, towers destroyed, and average gold and experience gained per match.
Q: Will it cost money to play? Will Wings of Liberty™ or Heart of the Swarm™ be required?
A: Currently we plan to offer a way to play Blizzard DOTA for free, possibly by including it as part of the StarCraft II: Starter Edition. However, we have not yet determined what type of content restrictions would be placed on those playing for free. We’re also discussing the possibility of offering exclusive content to players, such as special heroes for owners of Wings of Liberty™ and Heart of the Swarm™ (in regions with standard box business models, just for example), but this is also still to be determined. We’ll announce more details once those decisions have been finalized.
Q: What kind of post-launch support is planned? Will there be additional skins and heroes available for purchase or unlocked in some other way?
A: We haven’t made any decisions at this time about what types of content and updates we will provide post-launch or how those would be made available. Right now we’re focusing on creating the best game we possibly can, and we’re looking forward to seeing what players think.
Q: Will there be a beta test? When will it start? How can I apply for the beta?
A: Yes, we do intend to run a beta test for Blizzard DOTA sometime within the next few months. We’ll announce more details about how to participate at a later date.
Q: When will Blizzard DOTA be released?
A: We don’t have a release date we can share at this time. We’ll have a better idea for a release window after we start beta testing.