Lessons WoW PvP Could Learn From DotA

29 07 2009

While I was on vacation, I downloaded Warcraft 3 and The Frozen Throne to play some DotA, or Defense of the Ancients if you’re not in the loop. Playing DotA (a game made based almost completely on PvP) got me thinking about how WoW’s battleground system could be improved if Blizzard took a few lessons from DotA creator Icefrog. It might seem far-fetched or even pointless to compare a WC3 custom map with WoW, but think of it like a battleground. Each play-through of DotA takes around 45 minutes to an hour and a half. It’s a fun way to pass the time, and I realized that if battlegrounds could be as fun, varied, and complicated I might play them more often.

Instead, running battlegrounds often feels more like a long, tortuous grind, especially if you’re not playing with your guild or even a group of people you know. So what does DotA have that BGs don’t?

Variety: the spice of online violence


Each DotA game lets you choose between a large number of heroes and, as the game progresses, items. While variety like this can’t be directly translated into WoW (you only get the gear and abilities available to whatever character/class you’re playing), maybe a similar effect could be achieved. Battlegrounds are already moving in this direction, what with the addition of vehicles, seaforium charges, etc. To go further than this, though: what if a new battleground revolved entirely around vehicles, and allowed you to choose one at the beginning of each BG (or on respawn) such as the Flame Leviathan fight?

This would bring vehicles closer to the way heroes are used in DotA while giving BGs a bit more replayability due to the ability to choose different vehicles each time.


Both BGs and DotA have powerups that you can pick up to buff your character in some way for a short period. WoW has movement speed, damage and regeneration. DotA has double damage, haste, invisibility, illusion (creates two controllable copies of your hero) and regeneration. The difference between the two is that these runes (as they’re called in DotA) are central to successful DotA play, while their equivalents in WoW are nothing more than afterthoughts. Speed buffs are usually wasted (except in twinking and WSG) due to the existence of mounts. Making these short buffs strategic rather than near-useless could add new elements of play to battlegrounds.

There could even be powerups for vehicles, such as armor upgrades, speed boosts (more useful for vehicles since they usually move slower than mounts) and extra siege damage.

Map interactivity

DotA is a lot like the old Alterac Valley, but back when people actually did the quests and captured rams or wolves and turned in armor scraps. In DotA, there are neutral creeps that you can farm for gold, a neutral boss (Roshan) who drops a special item, and neutral shops scattered around the map. This means that there is more to do than solely capture enemy objectives and kill enemy heroes. For example, it offers the choice between “laning” (staying in one of the three lanes present in DotA and fighting the creeps the opposing side sends) or “jungling” (running around in the forest killing neutral creeps, usually unopposed by enemy heroes).

Some ideas to translate map interactivity into WoW are: the ability to pick up items unique to specific battlegrounds; perform tasks other than capturing objectives and killing the enemy; and maybe even teleporters or items that allow you to teleport around the map (not entirely new to WoW either, see this item).

Killing enemies

In DotA, killing an enemy hero gives you gold and experience while simultaneously denying the dead hero time in the lane, experience, and taking a bit of gold out of his coffers. In WoW BGs, killing an enemy doesn’t give you anything, aside from eliminating the competition on the way to capturing map objectives. In Wintergrasp, you gain rank (the only way to get vehicles) but it’s often easier to simply kill the NPCs scattered around the map. This is especially true if, as on my server, tenacity is often fudged up at the beginning of a game, giving one side 20 stacks for a short time.

In 3.2, Blizzard is changing the way honour works in BGs, giving bonus honour for defending objectives and capturing flags or bases. I applaud this change, but also think it should be accompanied by a different one. If there is some in-BG penalty (i.e. something that does not affect your character outside of the current battleground) for dying, it might make you think twice about rushing off headlong into a crowd of enemies, which is a popular style of BG play. In DotA, part of the punishment for death is a long respawn time, which gets longer as you level up your hero. While I don’t think WoW BGs should take on this same method (people, including me, would complain) perhaps dying repeatedly could leave debuffs, akin to resurrection sickness (but with a variety of different negative effects) and killing enemies could leave behind buffs.

This is similar to a mode called “item drop” in DotA, which, as the name suggests, causes your hero to drop an item from his inventory at each death, allowing opposing heroes to pick it up.

A 5-man battleground

People, including me, love small teams of people. I love Warsong Gulch for this reason — it’s really the only battleground that I can play with a full guild group, rather than playing with pugs. If a 5-man BG were introduced, as opposed to a new 40-man, it would make premade BG play a lot easier. It might even allow for a more serious BG, akin to arena, rather than the spray and pray approach taken in most other WoW BGs (which typically rely on large crowds of people running around attacking lone opponents). Playing with strangers generally reduces the amount of teamwork and fun available in a given BG, so a small one might make people take BGs more seriously.

Obviously not all of the features in DotA can translate successfully into WoW since the games are so different, but I certainly think that WoW could do well to craft a BG based on DotA’s successful model.




17 responses

29 07 2009

Blizzard have recently said that they have bigger plans for BGs and hopefully some new rewards will be the one of the answers. Its hard to make BGs in to more of a team game when you talk about charging in to a large number of players, however for teams things theres a couple options in premades and arena.

Also thanks for the big up man, I’m just trying to spread your wonderful seed. Yes, I did have to say it like that. Mucho love bro<3

29 07 2009

TERRIBLE. you want a game like dota, then go play dota. period

29 07 2009

I don’t think you get the point.

This was well written, and something that Blizzard should really consider.

Most of the elements in the World of Warcraft battlegrounds are already there, but need a revamp.

Also, responding to your “you want a game like dota, then go play dota. period” comment, he’s not asking for Blizzard to make the game like DoTA. I’ve never played it, but I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like World of Warcraft. DoTA sounds like it’s a RTS, while WoW is a MMO. So, he’s not asking Blizzard to make a game like DoTA, but incorporate elements into battlegrounds that DoTA has. He doesn’t want them to put in controllable units, he doesn’t want them to put in like a hero that levels, he just wants them to incorporate elements into the battlegrounds.

All in all, this was a well written article, and they really do need to revamp BGs, because they are more like a chore.

Hasseo, of Cenarion Circle

29 07 2009

Some of your ideas like the penalties and powerups could be good mechanics to take into thought but the other suggestions like a 5-man BG.. It’s not a battleground anymore if it’s just 5 people.. We have arenas for that…

I think the writer meant about using mechanics culled from DoTa, not making BGs Dota itself..

29 07 2009

Obviously you have never played Dota, to show you how good it is I’m going to take a true example off of me.

I once QUIT WoW for 4 months to play it exclusively, of course like any bg you get sick of it after a while, and i returned to WoW to do the Raiding, Questing, Loring, and QQing about how 20 alli just jumped me.

Seriously i would never quit WoW again if they had a bg that worked like DotA.
This game has been refined, retuned, and balanced to as close as you can get to perfection, not to mention it has been out WAYYYY longer than WoW has.

To sum up, Learn from your elders?

29 07 2009

I understand how BGs seem horrible. But I personally don’t think it’ll be possible to add the aspects of Dota into WoW’s BG. The two things are too different.

You can’t really implement a death penalty as in Dota, it’s a reduction of gold (used to buy gear to get stronger) and everyone starts off with no gear, but in WoW gear is already had beforehand. This would make a larger portion of less geared people get constantly owned and just getting worse and worse.

And I don’t think it would be possible to add the same amount of “heroes” to WoW as there are in Dota. Blizzard would need to do a lot of balancing of the “heroes” and In the end, people may just choose the same few heroes over and over again. However, I do like your idea of using different siege engines.

I agree that Alterac Valley is a bit like Dota, but Blizzard has messed it up after they introduced reinforcements and cut the duration of the game down as nobody wants to go for the side quests. I mean I loved the side quest. They gave me loads of rep! I think what you’re looking for lies in Blizzard fixing up this BG.

Anyway what you can do now is hope the new BG is epic.

PS: The 5-man battleground is called the arena. = p. jk

29 07 2009

@shoot201: I wasn’t suggesting that Blizzard use the exact same death penalties, since they obviously don’t function (gold, experience, items) but simply think of implementing some kind of penalty upon death. I agree with you that AV is not what it used to be, though the old version wasn’t perfect either (24hour+ AVs anyone?)

As to the 5-man BG idea, I am aware that we have arenas, but a 5-man BG could be very different from the arena. Just as DotA only has 5 people per team and remains very complex in strategy as well as map (not to say that arena isn’t difficult/interesting, strategy-wise), a 5-man BG could be an interesting experiment, something that hasn’t been done before. It would also have to be suitably different from 5v5 arenas (which wouldn’t be difficult for a BG, since solely having objectives and a larger map would separate it from the arena).

Just as some people (including me) prefer 10-man raids to 25s because of the close-knit feel, etc., some might prefer smaller BGs to larger ones.

30 07 2009

No no. Don’t water it down. Give us DotA, not some half-breed. 😉

I wanna be in there, running the lane, ducking behind an npc to take the hits for me. Damaging the towers long enough to know someone is on the way, then duck out to another lane.

I do not want to be doing that in Blizz’s semi-responsive vehicle system.

First time I played WSG, I thought how they could make DotA.

That would be cool enough for me, without any skillups, gold, weapons, etc. But they could even implement something along those lines with marks given each time you kill an opponent (like with jousting), redeemable at a neutral npc for scrolls, or pots, or something like that, granting temporary (1hr?) stackable buffs. (Marks and buffs would be destroyed upon leaving the BG.)

Keeping size limited would also be crucial to prevent zerging (and maybe give te towers some (minor-to-moderate?) splash damage. 10 man sounds perfect…and maybe even 5.

Brings back memories. 🙂

30 07 2009

a 5 man BG could be accomplished by giving each person their own NPC party of 5. Each time a person dies they need to choose one of their NPCs to loose(there is your penalty for death). Get 3 people moving as a group with their NPCs and you have an incoming army, a single person with their NPCs can be used to secure side objectives. All 5 working as a team and coordinating their actions can take over the world. This would make it a little more like the squadron based shooters, but in the end you would have a very rich BG that even I(a PvE purist) would play.

30 07 2009

I’d love Blizz to rip of… errrr, Use the idea of BloodBowl as a new BG. I think the concept would work Really well in WoW.

30 07 2009

> What if a new battleground revolved entirely around vehicles, and allowed you to choose one at the beginning of each BG (or on respawn) such as the Flame Leviathan fight?

That would sound awefully similar to several multiplayer FPS, where you can switch your “class” on respawn.

30 07 2009

I never thought about this. I think the WOW PvP system could be improved by taking some of the dota factors such as penalizing someone for making a poor decision and dying.

I wrote a post about how DOTA relates to the sport of basketball: http://gambledandlost.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/basketball-juxtaposed-with-dota/

I also think the 5 man team is a good idea because it makes everything more intimate.

Lemme know what you think

31 07 2009

You do realize that basically, u want 2 play another game entirely, right?
Imho it looks like u are asking for what I like to call JUMP and RUN elements, or in short Sonic. I think it is against “the spirit of PVP” =)
Player versus Player shouldn’t mean that its same for all, because everyone has the same skills and stats or everyone drives one out of a choice of three vehicles. I am not blind and on top of it i play allisided PVP on 2 realms. I do know the problems, but i also know that most problems result from the lack of a certain “teamspirit”, experience, dedication and more often than not skill.
( I know I’am going to be bashed for the last one… ^^)
Let me “elaborate”: by writing skill I do not mean to belittle others, but to question their flexibility. Most people only have access to one tactic, for reasons quite understandable. If you found the one working tactic in PVE u probabbly do not change it. Never change an winning team , right?
That is quite correct and okay in the semi-static raid environment we have. Semi static because of only one side that really acts. The player side. The mob side reacts always the same. That is why there are many tactics and sub tactics which can be applied in PVP. the opponent isn’t static. ( okay sometimes they are which results in 5 minute long BG’s – instant win^^)
from my point of view this is not about more interesting maps, it is about teambuilding. like u said as soon as u ride to battle and have a variety of 2-10 fellow fighters with u PVP is fun. if not u are likely to fail.


31 07 2009

@Ba’al: I’m not asking for an entirely different game, or for PvP to be the same for everyone, merely to incorporate new elements to make BG strategy more complex and interesting.

27 08 2009

thank you for this information. I hope u ll go on helping us to learn this kind of important issues

12 11 2009

nice reading ,thanx
will link it to my site :

12 11 2009

cool reading..thanx

will link it to my site :

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