There are a few immutable constants amongst gamers. They like to blow stuff up. They enjoy playing with their friends. They also love to see their favorite characters mashed up in unexpected ways, particularly for comedic effect. Blizzard DOTA is the strange intersection of the Venn Diagram of these three immutable constants. Soon(ish, this is Blizzard, after all) you'll be able to jump online with your friends, blow each other up, and all the while use a strange confluence of Blizzard characters from every franchise through the years.
Available on the show floor of BlizzCon 2011 was the five-on-five match for Blizzard DOTA. Characters are divided into four categories: DPS, Tank, Support, and Siege. I chose Kerrigan, a highly-recommended DPS character, easy for first-time DOTA players. The map was fairly wide, offering many towers for each side to defend and attack. Each side had a starting area in which upgrades and equipment can be purchased using gold accumulated over the course of the battle. Near the starting area, friendly AI units would drop in regularly, heading down one of three lanes in standard DOTA style. As always, following these AI units and sticking with your live human teammates are always the best strategies. In DOTA, there's strength in numbers.
The controls should be familiar enough for StarCraft, WarCraft, and DOTA fans. Blizzard DOTA is being built as a mod for StarCraft II. Right-clicking on the map tells your character where to go. Left clicking on an enemy tells your character to start attacking; an action which will continue so long as there are enemies within range. Each character has four abilities that are uniqe to them. One ability can be learned at the beginning of the match and gaining experience will allow the abilities to level up and give you more abilities to learn. Abilities are activated with a keyboard command, then clicking on the enemy or location you want it to go off on. Using Kerrigan, I began with Chain Lightning and worked my up to Maelstrom, leveling up my abilities and really ripping into the opposition by the end of the match.
Now, there are many versions of DOTA and spin-offs out there. Blizzard DOTA most closely resemblesLeague of Legends (based off the original DOTA mod for WarCraft III), but sans items. There is talk that items will be included in the final build, so it may resemble League of Legends even more when it's done. As for how the game will roll out, that's still up in the air. According to the official Blizzard FAQ onBlizzard DOTA, they're planning free-to-play option like including it in the StarCraft II: Starter Edition, but they've yet to determine what, if any, content restrictions would be placed on these free-to-play accounts. Also being kicked around is the idea of giving special characters to Wings of Liberty or Heart of the Swarm owners.
Admittedly, I'm a DOTA noob, but quickly got into the action and ended up being a valuable asset to my team as we marched to victory. Several of my teammates were hardcore DOTA and League of Legendsplayers, well-versed in the combat and tactics. We spoke at length about DOTA and all its incarnations. While I came into BlizzCon 2011 not knowing much about DOTA, I leave it very excited about Blizzard DOTA. The game is a perfect blend of challenging gameplay and unbridled fun.