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Blizzard DOTA First Look Preview - Playing with Stitches
Blizzard hopes to simplify the MOBA genre while staying true to its roots. We play a few rounds and see how much has changed.

"Hardcore games for everyone." That has been Blizzard's mantra, and at this year's Blizzcon they're sticking to it with their upcoming massive online battle arena game: Blizzard DOTA. This game stays true to the genre's established format, while also streamlining some of its more cumbersome areas. It also brings together an all-star cast of Blizzard heroes and villains. Thrall, Kerrigan, and even Diablo III's Witchdoctor are all included. We got the chance to play a few matches here at the show; read on to hear our impressions.

A relatively young genre, a MOBA game is about you and your team of allies leading individual heroes into battles. They level up, collect gold, equip items, and (most importantly) try to kill the enemy team's heroes. Along the way they must destroy enemy turrets and, ultimately, the enemy's keep--thereby ending the game. Waves of lesser units are deployed on both sides to support the heroes. Compared to the genre's other entries, the moment-to-moment combat in Blizzard DOTA is very familiar: Heroes have clearly defined roles and teamwork is a must to achieve victory. Where it differs is in the other mechanics--items, last-hitting minions for gold--that could be seen as cumbersome by new players.

In our first game we loaded up Stitches, a damage-soaking tank modeled after WarCraft III's abomination unit. Its abilities were hook, a skill-shot projectile that physically pulls the target towards Stitches; shockwave, a cone-shaped burst of damage; devour, which consumes an enemy minion (doesn't work on ally minions) and heals Stitches; and putrid bile, Stitches' ultimate skill which slowed and damaged enemy units near Stitches. We didn't see a passive skill for any character.

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