Dota 2 is by far my most favorite game (technically) released in 2013. It's brilliant, but an absolute pig of a game and one I cannot recommend you play. You should, because it's the best game. But you won't like it, so don't. But honestly, do.
Dota 2 is hugely hostile to new players. The game boasts 104 characters who each have at least four abilities (and no two abilities in the game are identical), 128 items (many of which are formed through combinations of other items), and a whole bestiary of NPC monsters. Though Dota 2 only has one single map, this is filled with oodles of tricks, nooks, and secret paths (not to mention destroyable walls of trees). Very little of this is explained.
To be competent at Dota, you need at least recognize most of these heroes, items and tricks, and the ways they can combine. To be good, well, I'll let you know when I get there. Even after 987 games, and a few hundred more of the original DotA mod, I'm not that great. I haven't even played every character yet, favoring the same dozen or two favorites. I'm learning constantly, and this is what brings me back. Dota 2 is hugely rewarding. I can lose a 50-minute round and be overjoyed that for one single fight, for 20 seconds, I played cleverly. Those 20 seconds were glorious. Good job, Alice. Good game, everyone. And if I can play well for an entire round? Oh my!
Like most people who take to Dota, I play with friends. I've learned a lot about my friends playing Dota. The long round times, the difficulty, and the ability for one person to ruin everything for everyone means you learn a lot about your team mates. I, for example, am unwilling to truly commit or try but use my bountiful charm to get along well on a superficial level. And in the game.
Also, I spend more time choosing outfits than I'd care to admit. The wizard dress-up minigame included through cosmetic customization is awfully good fun.
Grab some friends. Be rubbish. Get better. Have fun. It's great. Or don't. Maybe don't. Probably don't. I honestly can't recommend Dota 2 to you. But for me, oh, Game of the Year, absolutely.
The Shacknews Best of 2013 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Stay tuned all this week as we reveal all our winners.