Just a few months ago the creator of immensely popular video game DOTA 2, Valve, introduced a paid subscription service to run alongside the game's existing free-to-play model. It gives hardcore players the opportunity to access extra features of the game for a monthly fee.
After three months of DOTA, we’ve stepped back to think about whether it was worth buying.
What is available, and is it worth it for the casual player?
The DOTA plus uses a three-pronged pricing model for their plans, offering:
A monthly subscription at $3.99
6 month subscription at $22.49, a 6% discount on monthly renewals
12 month subscription at $41.99, a 12% discount
The 12-month plan will save you paying for a month and a half’s worth, whilst the 6-month plan only saves half a month.
The best way to find the plan for you is to take a look at your Dotabuff activity. You can see your own gaming habits on the Dotabuff Activity tab for free after you sign in through Steam.
You can see from my activity history above that I take big breaks during my exam periods around April and November, amounting to two or three months of the year when I don’t need the subscription.
From that analysis, it’s better to for me to go monthly. I recommend you do the same to see which plan is best for you.
The first of what DOTA Plus has to offer is the hero progression system. Players with the DOTA Plus subscription have the ability to level up their heroes by playing matches and completing weekly side quests.
Levelling up earns them in-game currency, called shards, and provides access to the hero specific chat wheel, allowing them to communicate in the game with their favourite heroes' voice lines. Any shards earned can also be spent on hero gems that track your in-game statistics on the hero, allowing you to show off your prowess with any hero in the game.
The hero progression system is an excellent addition to the game overall, providing an incentive and more pleasure whilst playing your best heroes.
The hero chat wheel has a range of uses too. Many of the lines have been selected for their humorous qualities and some let you taunt your enemies. It’s a small addition, but it has hilarious results.
The next feature of the subscription is the Plus rewards. Players earn the in-game currency shards by levelling up characters and winning games.
These shards can be spent on the plus rewards store on exclusive sets, not available for puchase anywhere else in DOTA 2. The sets are of high quality, containing particle effects as well as interesting designs, and are generally worthwhile purchases with the shards.
Players who don’t play often enough can instead opt to purchase the cheaper assembly of older ‘legacy’ sets. If there is a past set you wanted, but didn't want to spend money on, you can purchase it with DOTA Plus if it appears in the store.
Plus rewards change the DOTA experience; collectible cosmetics to work towards gives a fun incentive to play more and complete quests.
Since the exclusive sets cost so many shards, few players will have every set. Further, the sets can’t be traded on the Steam Community market so other players can tell that you really earned your cosmetics.
The shard market is a brilliant addition to the DOTA experience for casual players. If you're not one to grind MMR, this might be what keeps you playing.
Dota Plus Assistant
The third feature available is the DOTA Plus Assistant. This feature works as a large statistics analyzer for your DOTA 2 games, providing you with statistics and suggestions to improve your play.
It includes the dynamic hero suggester, in game goals for your hero and suggestions of which lane you should play your hero in. If you enable the DOTA Plus Assistant in-game, you will also receive real time suggestions on levelling and items.
Outside of a game of DOTA, the assistant can also give you in-depth comparisons and statistics on how different skill levels play different heroes, allowing you to compare yourself to players of a higher rank and learn how to improve next time.
Unfortunately, the DOTA Plus Assistant is a lackluster in its game impact. Unless you’re a new player, you won’t see much benefit from the assistant. Item suggestions are not much better than Torte de Lini’s builds and drafting suggestions can be found for free with DotaPicker.
Outside of the game, the stats are insightful but are mostly the same as what is also provided for free on OpenDota.
What the Dota Plus assistant really does is make a quality-of-life improvement by bringing these tools into the client.
The final feature of DOTA Plus currently is free entry to the weekly Battle Cup tournament. Battle Cups pit 8 teams of similarly skilled players in an elimination tournament. The winners of each tournament gain a large amount of shards and an icon is placed next to the winners names for a week to identify them as Battle Cup winners.
You can enter the tournament with a group of five friends or use the team search button. Be sure to check the time of the Battle Cup in your region first to see if you can play.
This feature could make DOTA Plus worthwhile on its own. With battle cup tickets costing $1 per week for non-Plus users, buying the $4 a month subscription allows someone to participate in $4 worth of battle cups as well as enjoy the other benefits of DOTA plus.
The Bottom Line
At this point in time there isn't enough content in the DOTA Plus subscription to recommend it to everyone. Only pick it up if you really enjoy collecting new sets, grinding levels and positive statistics on your heroes, or if you plan on playing in all the battle cups.
$4 seems to be a reasonable price, but if you don't love every feature of the subscription you won't get your money’s worth out of DOTA Plus.