Heroes of Newerth Preview: Like DotA, But Better
With an increase in popularity on the “Warcraft 3″ custom map “Defense of the Ancients” over the past few years, many game developers have decided to create their own spin-off version; Stardock made their attempt with “Demigod,” and Riot Games is currently working on “League of Legends”. This isn’t much of a surprise, as there are millions of players around the world who play “DOTA” and is the only reason why “Warcraft 3″ is still selling after so many years. S2Games, the folks behind the FPS/RTS hybrid “Savage” series, are about to throw their hat in the ring with their recreation of “DOTA” called “Heroes of Newerth”. While other companies derive their methods on the “DOTA”-style gameplay, “HoN” does not shy away from the fact that it is “DOTA” 2.0 and even has the blessings from “DOTA”’s current creator, Icefrog.
For the uninitiated, “DOTA” is a tower defense game where each player takes on a role of a powerful hero in (usually) a 5 on 5 skirmish. Your objective is to destroy the enemy’s main structure and this is done by destroying towers, barracks, and your enemy’s creeps. Creeps are grunt AI units which spawn every 30 seconds and follow a pre-determined path called a lane. The camera angle and controls are similar to a RTS game, but you only control one unit for the vast majority of the game. Your hero will have four skills that are updated via an RPG style system where you kill enemy heroes or creeps for experience. Along the way you will gather gold from your slayings, which will be used to buy items, and as your character grows stronger you’ll be able to take on the enemy more effectively, destroying their towers, and finally pushing into their base to win the game.
So what are the differences between “DOTA” and “HoN”? Surprisingly, both “a lot” and “not much” are acceptable answers. S2Games’ goal is to take the “DOTA” custom map and put on its own engine, leaving most of the characters, skills, items, and map intact. The ever powerful Zeus in “DOTA” is now called Thunderbringer in “HON,” while the painful Butterfly is renamed to Wingbow. However, there are new heroes and content in the game as well, such as Puppet Master who will make you hang around with his strings or force you to put on a show by making you attack the nearest unit while he finishes you off. There are even two new maps, one called Darkwood Vale that is a 3-on-3 map, and the less defensive 5-on-5 Watchtower.
While this might sound like a rip off of “DOTA,” the reality is that S2Games wanted to retain what made “DOTA” great, but break free from “Warcraft 3″’s engine limitations. To succeed at this task, S2Games is using their homebrew K2 engine, the same engine used to create “Savage 2,” and, with my three month experience in the beta, it shows. The graphics are top notch for the genre, sporting detailed maps, great character animation, and perhaps the smoothest netcode in a RTS game. The netcode isn’t like a typical RTS, as there is no peer to peer connection, so the possibility of playing with someone in Japan or Europe is more than a likely possibility. The secret behind this is each game is hosted on S2games’ servers, so no worries about opening ports or other technical complications.
One of the biggest problems with “DOTA” is people leaving the game, either by accident or on purpose. “HoN” has implemented a reconnect feature which gives a player five minutes to reconnect to the game. If they fail to reconnect, their items are dropped at their base, and the player’s gold is split up amongst everyone else in the game. This would be considered a leave, whether intentionally or not, and after a certain times that they drop out, they will be marked as a “leaver.” Having this mark will force you to join games that aren’t marked with No-leavers, thereby decreasing your game options. Players will also have the option to kick out unwanted players during a match, remake within the first five minutes of the game, or concede a game when all hope is lost.
Besides all of these features, S2games plans on implementing more features that could not work with “DOTA” on the “Warcraft 3″ engine, like quick ranked games, custom league implementation, and clan matches. Although these features are not included in the current version of the beta, competitive fans of “DOTA” will have something to look forward when “HoN” is released. There is currently no release date, although you can try to grab beta keys from their Facebook group, or right here on TrueGameHeadz tomorrow where we will be releasing another 300 codes.