DOTA 2 and I have history.
It’s 2011, and the long awaited sequel to the incredibly successful Warcraft 3 map mod makes its debut on Steam in beta form. I’m lucky enough to score an invite to it and play a few matches with…questionable hero choices and builds. It’s not until a year later that I really start to put some hours into the game though after a few of my long time OG DOTA buddies finally score invites. From there I’ve invested thousands of hours in the game, right up until about 3 years ago when I decided that I needed to put the game down for good.
You see competitive games and I are a…questionable mix most of the time. Sure, I enjoy them, but if I’m not winning at them I tend to turn into a rather unpleasant person and DOTA 2 was no exception to this. I can’t remember exactly what the breaking point was (heck it even looks like I was winning pretty consistently back then) but it was enough for me to swear off it entirely never to go back again. I kept tabs on the game’s scene though, even attempting to watch The International whenever it was on (although the grand final was always spoiled for me in one way or another) and I had friends continue to play in my absence. They’d ask me to come back from time to time and I’d refuse but when a mate who I hadn’t played any games with in quite some time asked I relented, figuring that running the risk of being a royal cockhead again was worth it to spend time with him.
This is where Turbo Mode comes in.
For those not in the know Turbo Mode makes some not-so-insignificant changes to the game which speeds the whole process up and makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. For starters gold and XP gain is increased significantly, so much so that for the first dozen or so matches I’d always end up hoarding far too much gold as I simply didn’t realise how quickly I was accumulating it. Secondly you can sell items from anywhere on the map and everyone gets their very own courier to use, reducing the inevitable courier fights that happen in PUGs. Lastly respawn times are reduced and the towers are weaker, further increasing the pace of the game. This means that most games are all done within 20 or so minutes, with the longest I’ve ever played being 49.
The changes might sound like window dressing on a game that’s renowned for its complexity but they are enough to significantly change the game from a long burn, strategic endeavour to a fast paced blitz match where you’re rarely out of the game completely. I’ve been in games where we’re light years ahead of the enemy team, easily winning each engagement only to have a couple bad team fights in a row and suddenly we’re on the defensive again. Similarly I’ve been in many matches where the opposite team thinks it’d be hilarious to try and fountain farm us without taking the base first only to end up being penned in their base 5 minutes later wondering where it was that they went wrong. To be sure these sorts of things can happen in normal mode, but they don’t happen anywhere near as fast as they do in turbo.
This also means that a lot of strategies that simply wouldn’t work in normal can be used with reckless abandon in turbo, often to great effect. This is amplified even more right now, with the new patch out that significantly shifted the meta once again. Basically everything is on the table as everyone tries to figure out which heroes are going to be the ones everyone will be playing in the months to come. In essence turbo mode both encourages and rewards experimentation, something that was definitely not a thing when you were playing ranked normal.
So why the review then, I hear you ask. Well it’s because these changes to the game took it from a heavily competitive, stressful game (one that often kept me up until the wee hours of the morning to get that “one win” before I went to bed) to a lighthearted slugfest that I thoroughly enjoy playing with my mates. Sure, we have those games where we get stomped and none of us feel particularly great about it but for the most part we’re able to laugh it off, queue up again and complete our redemption arc story in under an hour and call it quits. I’ve even enjoyed playing heroes I wouldn’t have touched in the past just because I know that, whilst hero selection does still matter, even if I completely bollocks it up I won’t be stuck in an hour or longer game with team mates raging at me the entire time.
It’s also probably helped that my mates and I are all in the “normal skill” bracket these days which has helped keep that competitive part of my brain down. In the past I used to play in the very high skill bracket (this was before MMR was a thing) and this unfortunately fed into my superiority complex around how good I was at the game. Now though? I’m just another normal skill scrub who enjoys faffing around in turbo mode, and there’s a lot of good company here.
Turbo mode managed to turn what was once the game that brought the worst out in me to one I can routinely enjoy without that burning competitive feeling. The pressure is off, experimentation is rewarded and the game isn’t over until your ancient is demolished. With none of the other competitive games I’ve played in recent memory ticking the box for me it’s been nice to have something I can drop into, play a couple games and walk away from feeling satisfied. Even better is that I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my mates, something that’s definitely been worthwhile with the dumpster fire of a year we’ve all had. All in all I never thought I’d see myself back in the DOTA 2 scene again, let alone singing its praises on my blog.
DOTA 2: Turbo Mode is available on PC right now for free. Total time spent in the game is now at 2,771 hours with 286 matches in Turbo mode.