By Kushan Dodanwala
Heroes of Newerth is a Real-Time Strategy/Role Playing/Arena/Tower Defense game developed by independent game developer S2 Games. Why so many genres you ask? Well the game is actually a blend of all of them and is based on the Warcraft III mod; Defense of the Ancients. The game is the third by S2 games to feature their trademark Newerth Universe, the first two being Savage: The Battle for Newerth and Savage 2: A Tortured Soul.
For those new to this genre, let’s look at the game that started it all. Defense of the Ancients (DotA) is a custom scenario for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, based on the “Aeon of Strife” map for StarCraft. The objective of the scenario is for each team to destroy the opponents’ Ancients, heavily guarded structures at opposing corners of the map. Players use powerful units known as heroes, and are assisted by allied heroes played by teammates and AI-controlled fighters called “creeps”. The game is played out in a 3rd person strategy view as in a typical Warcraft RTS game and As in role-playing games, players level up their hero and use gold to buy equipment during the mission. The game was easy to learn, but unless you were prepared to down and get into the roots of the game, it was impossible to master.
DotA being a mod, it carried its fair shares of obstacles and glitches. It also required the original game to be installed and didn’t allow for a player to be reconnected in case of a disconnection. Even though the game is still immensely popular, by now the eight year old Warcraft III engine was beginning to show its age and its limitations could be ignored no longer.
So let’s get to the basics. S2 Games have taken the whole idea of DotA and put it in a new standalone game with better graphics and a gameplay engine, so it’s technically not a brand new game, rather a remake of a classic. The game features a remake of the original DotA map, as well as ports of many favorite heroes from DotA, tweaked to fit into the Newerth Universe. However, the game does feature original content as well, including two brand new maps and new heroes. According to the developers, the new K2 engine used in the game has enough flexibility to accommodate new maps and new map types as well as a number of new heroes and abilities.
The other plus point of the game is that it features dedicated online servers for better gameplay. DotA could only be played online by connecting via a third party LAN client such as Garena. HoN features a number of dedicated servers located around the world to offer players better connection and matchmaking options. However, the game is for online only and doesn’t feature a LAN mode, so you will have to login via the internet to play.
The best thing about the game is that even though there is over three months for the official game release, you can get your hands on the game right now! HoN had been in closed beta testing for six months and on 31st March, it went into open beta testing. Anyone interested in playing can simply go to www.heroesofnewerth.com and create a free beta account and play by downloading the beta client which is only around 350MB. Your account will be valid until the beta expires and the game is released to retail. The game is available for pre purchase at US $ 30 which is said to be a onetime fee only. This means that all updates/server facilities will be provided free of charge for those who buy the game.
During the beta period, the game has proved to be a massive hit among gamers worldwide. The inherent competitiveness of the genre which made DotA so popular stays true in HoN as well, with many competitive tournaments being carried out even before the game is released. The Sri Lankan gaming community had their own little HoN mini league, GCHL, to test the waters. You can read all about it in the GCHL wrap-up in the local scene section.
As in many remakes, HoN has its fair share of controversies. Many avid DotA players criticize the game for being a rip-off with nothing more than shiny graphics to entice casual gamers. However, it has to be said that many of these claims are baseless and merely outcries of die hard DotA fans who don’t like to accept the fact that there can be a superior remake of their beloved game. Its Agreed that HoN does have its shortcomings, but it’s still in beta testing and expect all glitches to be ironed out come the retail release. From what we see of the beta, HoN takes DotA to the next level by bringing better graphics and physics while retaining the original gameplay and it improves the player experience by adding more variety to gameplay.
Whatever the naysayers may say, one thing is pretty clear. Heroes of Newerth is here to stay! Watch out for a more in depth review of the game closer to the release. Until then visit www.heroesofnewerth.com and start playing now!
|Game||Heroes of Newerth|
|Release Date||Q3 2010|
|Operating System||Windows® XP / Windows Vista® / Windows® 7 / Linux / Mac|
|Graphics||128 MB GeForce FX, ATI 9×00, OpenGL 1.2 compatible (Linux and Mac)|
|Network||256Kbps connection recommended|