Dota 2 - Best Game Ever (Part 4)
I've made dozens of friendships through Dota 2 — I also wonder how many it's ended. I've been stuck in matches I knew I couldn't win for more than an hour. My longest match was two hours and six minutes (at least I won that one, and in an exhilarating and improbable comeback). But this is part of Dota 2's biggest and most consistent problem, a problem that's arguably only gotten worse over time. Dota 2 is an intimidating, complicated game to new players and even existing players, and the manner in which Valve onboards new players is, frankly, inadequate (though Valve has acknowledged this before, and fairly recently even). Dota 2's biggest obstacle is the at times overwhelming amount of bullshit and opacity that stands between less experienced players and understanding the game.
In turn, it's fallen to the community to create an ecosystem of support for other players through a network of fan sites, and, perhaps most helpfully, an in-game build guide.
Essentially, players can make "builds" for other players to select for their hero in-game, which will populate a panel in the shop menu with suggested items, and highlight what skills and talents are suggested at each level. It makes some sense that Valve allows users to help one another. Dota 2's roots are in an entirely self-regulated community, and it will always live or die by that community. This is likely why Dota 2 is a game built to be watched almost as much as it is played, with easy watch tabs and painless in-game spectating of friends' games — of anyone’s game, actually. I've learned almost as much watching friends who are better play Dota 2 from their perspective as I have from any external guide. Dota 2's community also has some rather challenging elements. It can often be as toxic as anything you'll find in multiplayer gaming, and some memes relating to common player misbehavior have become legendary within the scene.
Dota 2's community also has some rather challenging elements. It can often be as toxic as anything you'll find in multiplayer gaming, and some memes relating to common player misbehavior have become legendary within the scene. That community has also become one of the most active, deliberative, productive fanbases any game has ever seen. It has spawned libraries worth of analyses and content, almost all of which has received Valve's tacit, hands-off blessing. It can be the worst thing about Dota 2, and it can be the best thing about Dota 2.
DOTA 2 IS THE BEST GAME, AND THE WORST GAME.
And this dichotomy is perhaps the best descriptor I can attach to Dota 2. It is frequently a game which occupies two opposite spaces simultaneously. It is the best game. It is also the worst game. No game has ever made me as miserable as Dota 2 has. But no game has made me feel so consistently rewarded for my time, and as consistently, wonderfully connected to the friends I play it with.