What I’m playing: Action RTS games that I’m bad at
Action real-time strategy games (action RTSs) are the latest genre-fad in the gaming world. Its a genre that’s been around for some time in the form of the original DotA mod for Warcraft III and has morphed into full-fledged games like League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and DOTA 2. Some have even been inspired by the concept for other genres (see: Monday Night Combat or Demigod). Right now, its booming in popularity and I think its only a matter of time before its recognized as its own major genre rather than just some mod off-shoot.
I’ll be frank with you guys, I suck at these games. I always have and at the current rate I’d have to say I probably always will suck at them. They’re teeth-grindingly frustrating, but I keep coming back to them again and again.
There’s still just something very enjoyable about them. There’s not a lot of games that have you level-up consistently over the course of an hour, gaining more powers and items and competing against other real-life players. Then you take out the enemy base and start it all over again. That’s such a crazy idea compared to what else is going on, especially in RPG games. Nobody else with an RPG game resets your levels and stats after each match. I just love that. I love the idea of battling and leveling up over a short period of time and doing it with all sorts of different characters and skills, but also doing it on a level playing field, constantly restarting from square-one. It really makes you think twice about the often ignored early levels of most RPG games.
But let’s not forget: I suck at this. The core concepts of the game I get, but there’s so much that doesn’t get discussed, but is still expected of you. For instance, knowing where to position your character at any one time can be easy for those who don’t need to think twice about an enemy’s powers, but for me I constantly die from being only a few feet out too far. Its crushing to hear, after every death, what it is you did wrong from your friend’s mic, but probably much more crushing to me to realize I’ve done it over and over again, yet I still don’t quite “get it”. I’m not really sure when its suppose to sink in, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just naturally bone-headed at it.
I find a lot more solace in games like Super Monday Night Combat, where the characters are much easier to learn, the skills easier to grasp, and for me at least its a much more familiar shooter setting. I have an easier time wrapping my head around a 3D map than a 2D one for some reason, maybe because the exploits are much more obvious. I also think its more to do with awareness. I have a tendency to turn around and be aware of what is going on around me, whereas action RTS games typically have you in a top-down view that is locked very close to your character, its difficult to see everything happening around you and awkward to do most of it through clicking.
For my own tastes I do prefer to be at least marginally good at a game that I’m playing, even if I tend to lose. Unfortunately this genre is just not like that, so I’m constantly in a love-hate relationship with it.
For now, my dabbling in DOTA 2 and LoL has been a fun distraction from my usual fare of story-centric games. And even more-so they’re a great distraction from the typical shooter games I find myself in for competitive multiplayer. Will I ever get good at them? Maybe, but for now let’s just say it makes me sort of a masochist gamer.