A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dota 2 (or Defense of the Ancients 2) is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, available for download on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux-based computers. Players compete against each other in 5v5 fantasy combat to destroy the opposing side’s base while defending their own from attack. Violence is a steady occurrence, with characters fighting each other with a mix of fantasy weapons and magical abilities. While there's lots of combat, there’s little graphic violence or blood. The game's free-to-play, with its full roster of more than one hundred characters available to play from the onset, though players can spend money in-game to gain access to unique cosmetic skins and other add-ons. Parents should also be aware that, due to the game’s online and competitive nature, younger players could be exposed to offensive comments and profanity via in-game chat with other players.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
The fantasy battle for dominance continues in DOTA 2, the free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena where two teams of five face off against each other and the environment for control of the landscape. With more than one hundred different characters to choose from, each with its own unique set of abilities and specific role to play, you must work together with your patchwork team of other heroes and develop key strategies in real-time. Your objective? To push forward and take control of your opponents’ “Ancient,” a base of operation and the source of immense magical power. Of course, your opponents have the same idea. It’s a constant balance of offense and defense, of attacks and counter attacks, testing team strategy and skill in the heat of epic fantasy battle. Whose team will reign supreme and command the Ancients?
Is it any good?
There are all kinds of competitive online games on the market, but one of the biggest genres is the multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA, style. The first Dota (which stands for “Defense of the Ancients”) originally began as a mod for Blizzard’s WarCraft III and was one of major pioneers for the genre, but Dota 2 ditched the mod route in favor of a standalone game built from the ground up, improving on everything that came before. The result wound up being a highly polished, intricate strategy game that didn’t just cement the foundation of the MOBA genre, but also managed to stand the test of time and continue to thrive even years after its release. While Dota 2 might have helped lay to groundwork for MOBA games, there’s a lot in the game that makes it stand out from the crowd. It’s got a massive roster of characters to choose from, over one hundred in total, and yet each one still manages to feel distinct from the others in ability, function, and presentation. Best of all, there’s no restriction on who to play. Right from the start, all the heroes are unlocked, opening up a veritable buffet of options to play with.
The only real issue with the game is that it’s difficult to jump into as a newcomer, due to the established community. While it’s not nearly as toxic as some online games, there still seems to be an assumption that players have a certain level of experience already. And in the heat of a match, some players will occasionally lose their cool. Still, players can bypass this by grabbing some friends and learning the intricacies of the game playing against A.I. controlled bots and by trying out heroes in a testbed “demo” mode. It takes some time and practice to really understand the ins and outs of Dota 2, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the MOBA genre, but it’s well worth the investment. Working with a good team and finding the right mix of players makes for a great online experience and an exhilarating rush that’s hard to resist. And considering just how much players get without ever needing to spend a dime, Dota 2 makes for a near perfect way to get your feet wet before diving into the great big ocean of MOBA games out there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online competition and teamwork. What are some positive ways to act and behave in online competitive matches? What are some ways that good communication can help with teamwork?
How does the free-to-play model help to draw in a larger audience for games? How do these games encourage players to spend money within the game?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Valve Corporation
- Release date: July 9, 2013
- Genre: Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: June 24, 2019
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