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About the Game
While it is true that the popular Defense of the Ancients (DotA) custom map for Warcraft 3 still maintains a massive following, the limitations of the seven-year-old Warcraft 3 engine cannot be denied. Thus, the potential for fresh and new DotA-like games are exceptional. California based developer S2 Games capitalized on this idea with Heroes of Newerth.
But what is in MMO game? What actually defines and separates it from other PC based games of its kind? Is it merely a repackaging of games we've already known, or does it really have a reason to stand on its own. For more insights about this, check out this article defining What An MMO Is. However, regardless of what you call Heroes of Newerth does tend to have a style of its own, similar to older games like DoTA or even Warcraft games.
Currently in its beta phase, Heroes of Newerth or HoN for short is heavily based on the intensely popular WC3 custom map. Unlike other games which have only slightly emulated the DotA-style gameplay, HoN significantly mimics several of DotA's main characteristics, from almost carbon-copy map layouts to directly transferring heroes. The game is basically DotA with a brand new look, with its own distinct and unique characteristics of course, such as new heroes and items.
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Just like DotA, the game has two opposing factions that fight each other during each game. While DotA has the Sentinel and the Scourge which are based on Warcraft lore, HoN has the Legion battling with the Hellbourne, based on the lore of Savage, an earlier S2 game. Each faction gives players a a huge variety of heroes to choose from. Just like DotA, the heroes in HoN are categorized into three groups: Strength, Agility, and Intelligence. As of patch 1.5, there are currently 28 heroes for the Legion and 27 heroes for the Hellbourne. And again, like DotA, each hero has 4 unique skills. The default mode of gameplay in HoN is basically that of DotA: to control your hero and push lanes while destroying creeps, towers, and enemy heroes, and to eventually destroy the opposing faction's main stronghold.
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HoN currently has four maps to choose from: Forests of Caldavar, Darkwood Vale, Watchtower and a one-lane map for testing purposes. Tower, creep and shop locations in the Forests of Caldavar are almost identical to the DotA map, thus making it the most popular map for players. Items, as well as their gold cost and bonuses, are heavily based on DotA as well. So don't be surprised to see your good old Battlefury or Mask of Madness (Runed Axe and Elder parasite in HoN, respectively). Neutral boss creeps are also included. DotA's Roshan is a King Kong like monster in HoN called Kongor. The Watchtower map also boasts two new neutral bosses.
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While most heroes are directly lifted from DotA (Lina Inverse as Pyromancer, and Slardar as Pestilence for example), HoN tries to add its own hero characteristics to separate itself from DotA. There are heroes which are unique to HoN, such as Zephyr or Pharaoh. Some heroes in DotA have been somewhat "merged" in HoN, such as Scout, who is a combination of DotA's Gondar and Kardel Sharpeye. Other copied heroes may also have new or slightly different skills. Patch updates constantly change these characteristics to provide gameplay balance which is exceptional in DotA. Given HoN's beta phase, balance is of course not as polished yet.
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Currently Playing Method
Still in its closed beta phase, players may enjoy HoN by means o invites. S2 Games gives out beta keys, through the game's Facebook account for example, which players can use to create new accounts. Accounts are able to receive two invites after a certain period. Once you login, players create games or may view the list of games to join, because HoN's multiplayer capabilities are primarily pub based. Also, players may opt to purchase their beta account for a one-time fee of $30.00, thus keeping their username even after the beta phase, as well for for other aesthetic bonuses. Exceptional strategies and methods for pub based online playing, such as dedicated servers, allow players to enjoy games without worrying about high latency. Occassional lag spikes and low frame rates happen from time to time, but a player from Asia can join a player from Europe in the same game with almost latency problems.
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Even in its beta stage, Heroes of Newerth is attracting hundreds of thousands of players worldwide. The game's forums also helps the developers in addressing the game's concerns, by means of player feedback and discussion. Definitely, S2 Games is doing a lot of things right with this game. And it hasn't even started yet.
Inasmuch as it is good now, we're all really quite wondering how much better this game can go. A word to the wise: if you're already hooked to this game and believe that it stands to become much better once the final additions are placed in, then it would really be to your advantage to purchase your characters now. The one time buy assures you of permanent gaming usage. It could very well prove to be a wise investment in the future, should you choose to continue playing.
If you're interested in the game, or maybe you're unfamiliar with some of the terms used in this article, why not check out the MMO General Terminology article? It might be of use to you!