HoN and Dota 2 – A comparison.
Hey folks, Airwave again. Tonight I wanted to sit down and a have a little chat with you on something that has been bothering me for a while, the differences between HoN and Dota 2.
Nobody has written a half-way decent and detailed comparison of these two games, so I brought it upon myself to do so. I’ll leave my rampant fanboyism and nutsuckery at the door and try not to hit my head as I get up from under Icefrog’s desk. It’s important to note that while I do play DotA almost exclusively, I still love HoN. Even after quitting i’ll continue to play the occasional game with real life friends. It’s a fun game (albeit one with an awful competitive scene and terrible management) that doesn’t get any of the credit it deserves. Heroes of Newerth has shortcomings, so does DotA2, and i’m going to point them out with as little bias as possible.
Both games have crisp gameplay and similar mechanics, but there is one huge difference between how the two games play out, and that’s the pace of the actual game.
The HoN engine encourages speed. Plays happen at a breakneck pace that can often leave a newer player confused, if not downright baffled. While the speed at which things happen can be difficult to follow at first, experienced players and viewers can easily decipher the action and comprehend what’s happening in almost any scenario. Furthermore, a player with exceptional reflexes can often correct a gameplay mistake the moment it occurs thanks to the fast paced HoN engine.
Dota 2 is a bit different. Mistakes are punished harder, while games play a bit slower and more methodically. Due to how easy it is to kill Roshan (Kongor) and push towers earlier in the game, one mistake can completely change the tide of a game. Consequently, teams are averse to taking big risks if they feel the game is still within arms reach. That isn’t to say comebacks don’t happen, but to make a comeback happen it requires more than your average pubtrain or throw coming from the other team. The point is, one reckless play will be relentlessly punished by good players in any game but the effect is greater in Dota 2 when compared to HoN.
While there are other differences between the two games, (animation canceling plays a bigger role in HoN, stacking is unlimited in DotA2 and ancients are unaffected by magic) the speed of the game causes the most noticeable difference. When I’m actively playing both games, I’m often amazed at how much is happening in HoN. It’s a busier game and while I think that gives the game a more exciting experience, I prefer the preciseness of DotA over the rapidity of HoN.
Slight edge: HoN
HoN has a very clean, distinct visual style. While the game can seem like a clusterfuck of colors to a new player, I personally find it easy to distinguish between skills in the game. The fact that big skills usually have an easily identifiable animation makes reacting easier and decision making quicker (compare epicenter to eruption). DotA, unlike HoN, has a plethora of seemingly ambiguous spell visuals that are very difficult to tell apart. Admittedly DotA’s graphics have grown on me since I’ve started playing, but I still prefer the vibrancy of HoN. In regards to character design (visually, not balance/concept wise) both games have basically similar designs since they’re both iterations of the origial DotA.
Edge: HoN, until they release another weeaboo animu hero like Pearl, who belongs in either LoL or a book about teddy bears.
Hero Design, Release and Balance
Both games have very interesting heroes with creative designs. Most DotA 2 heroes have spent years in the original DotA and have been carefully balanced before being ported to DotA 2, drastically reducing the potential for an unbalanced hero to enter the pool.
Heroes of Newerth has had a tendency to release heroes before being properly balanced, due to their “Early Access” system, which releases a new hero every four weeks and allows players to use real world money (approximately 5 USD) to gain access to the hero before the general public. While I disagree with the system, it does allow heroes to be extensively tested before being allowed in “Tournament Mode” games, though they’re usually broken as fuck for a few months when they first come out.
When it comes to hero design and balancing, there are two major components that differ between the two games and alter the landscape of the metagame accordingly. The first major issue is the prevalence and design of stuns/disables in Heroes of Newerth. In DotA 2, if a hero has an ability that disables an enemy, the ability usually has some sort of drawback or facet that adds depth to the ability. Juxtaposed against the careful balancing and tweaking that surrounds DotA 2 abilities, Heroes of Newerth tends to have simpler, more powerful skills that threaten the delicate balance of a game that can easily be taken over by one character at any given time. Furthermore, there have been times when an unbalanced hero was left untouched for months at a time, either being permabanned or completely unpicked for extended periods of time.
DotA 2’s largest tournament, the Internationals, had 72 of 92 heroes picked, compared to the maybe 30 picked during the last DreamHack event for HoN.
Huge Edge: DotA 2
The competitive scene of DotA2 has myriad amounts of sponsored teams from major gaming organizations, such as EG, Col, Dignitas, Quantic, MYM, Na’Vi, M5, Fnatic, Empire, aL, and a bunch of SEA teams. HoN has two, TT eSports and Complexity (we’re not counting Garena HoN, Garena =/= S2). HoNTour has basically usurped the entire competitive HoN landscape so we now have two major Heroes of Newerth events, HoNTour and Dreamhack. DotA 2 on the other hand has the annual 1.6 million dollar Chinese giveaway that is The International, while also having more than enough leagues and cups to entertain viewers. HoNTour is interesting and the presence at Dreamhack is always awesome, but the size and scope of the DotA2 casual and competitive scene dwarfs HoN in comparison.
Edge: DotA 2
DotA 2 currently uses a hidden matchmaking system that places players into one of three tiers, normal, high, or very high. Once placed into a tier, you’ll be matched with players who are in the same tier and queuing for a game at the same time as you. Essentially this means that each team has one BR, one Rus, one shitty American and two people who are relatively competent. If you want to fivestack in DotA 2, you’ll enjoy winning every single game for years, because the system will randomly put you up against the next five players that are ready to play, who are usually players solo queing.
The HoN MM system isn’t perfect and it’s easily manipulated, but it’s infinitely better than the approach DotA 2 is using. The only real option for decent players in DotA 2 who want to get better is to find a team of other relatively decent players and start scrimming, or play in the inhouse leagues (which are just as bad as HoN public games).
I like that HoN gives you annoying avatars that let you grief your teammates and friends. Chainsaw Moraxus and the “I’m charging whatshisface” Rampage skins are perfect examples of this. Unfortunately, skins like this are the exception and now i’m forced to look at glowing pieces of shit like Futbol Bubbles (I thought that bitch was Midas the first time I saw him) or the entire money grabbing seven deadly sins series (which look like shit, anyway). Now S2 is releasing avatars that cost 25 dollars that look like mother fucking mighty morphing Power Rangers. If anyone wants to spend 25 dollars on some different colored pixels, be my guest, but for five dollars more I bought my HoN account at retail. Oh well, at least in HoN I get to listen to my nigga Duke Nukem tell people they suck balls. On the other hand, DotA 2 gives me shit for free just for playing the game. Can’t beat that.
Edge: DotA 2, cause i’m cheap.
It’s not even a question that HoN and DotA2 are better than League, seriously, fuck that game. It’s shit, and doesn’t deserve the massive player base it has. Unfortunately, HoN and DotA 2 exist in the same realm of game where nerds think they’re good and people say they fuck your mom on a regular basis. We have to pick one over the other eventually, so…
DotA 2 wins until HoN gets their shit together, stay free HoNTrash.
-Written by guest writer Airwave