DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 is here, and it’s a significant improvement over show’s the first season. So significant is this improvement that Dota 2’s titular animated series may actually stack up favorably against rival MOBA League of Legends and Arcane.
Dota 2 has settled into being the less successful little sibling when compared to League of Legends. While LoL gets Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics, and K/DA, Dota 2 gets Artifact, Dota Underlords, and a one-shot webcomic every few years. The comparison isn’t a good one for Dota 2 fans.
The games’ respective animated series seemingly continued that trend. League of Legends’ Arcane has been heralded as one of the most roundly excellent animated series ever released. DOTA: Dragon’s Blood was fine, but it wasn’t pulling in that kind of praise.
Warning: Very light spoilers ahead for both DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 and Arcane ahead.
The first season of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, later rebranded as Book 1, was hurried by shortened runtimes in an obvious way. The show sprinted from one action scene to the next with no time being made for an explanation as to what happened, or any further character development in a battle’s aftermath. That hurriedness made the show prime binge-watch material, but also left it seeming mediocre on the whole.
While DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 doesn’t completely redeem the mediocrity of the first season, it does takes several steps forward and even compares favorably to Arcane.
Is DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 good?
DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 is a radical improvement over the first season. So yes, it is very good.
Though it still moves at a brisk pace, the strengths of the series’ first eight episodes were amplified in a big way. Meanwhile, the established relationships between characters from the first season allow a cohesive story to come together with all the exposition out of the way.
At first glance, one might not expect it to hold up against Arcane. A lot of this comes down to the simple fact that Arcane had some of the best 3D animation ever created with an excellent performance from its cast of voice actors.
DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 looks better than the first season of the show and has brought back its cast of seasoned voice actors with reinforcements from the likes of John De Lancie and Tara Platt. Despite that, few animated series will compare to Arcane in these areas due to its six years in development.
But DOTA: Dragon’s Blood can still measure up elsewhere with Arcane.
Is DOTA: Dragon’s Blood as good as Arcane?
While tastes will always vary, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 actually stands on even footing with Arcane in most regards. It might even be just as good.
Moving past the pure aesthetics, Book 2 is greatly aided by an increased focus on comedy. The first season suffered from imitating Netflix’s other animated series based on a video game franchise, Castlevania. Though there are still plenty of comparisons that can be drawn between the two series, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood differentiates itself in Book 2 by expanding its cast.
Davion’s squire Bram plays a significant role in the series after a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it showing in the first season and makes a much greater impact than one might expect. Meanwhile, a pair of new supporting characters are added to serve as comedic relief and are even more impactful in this regard than Marci was in the first season. The end result is a crew that does a strong job of balancing melodrama and humor, something the first season didn’t do as well.
On the villains front, Terrorblade shines more brightly with Selemene out of the way. Though a new secondary villain rises up to replace her, Terrorblade is the clear evil of the series. His presence looms over every character after an explosive start to the season in a way that wasn’t quite so meaningful in the last season. He doesn’t have that enigmatic aura of Silco, but the character is genuinely spooky and dominates the screen every time he pops up.
The one area that DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Book 2 suffers is the radical shift some characters go through between seasons. Luna was a genocidal maniac in the first season, but is one of the true heroes here. Meanwhile, the elves her forces brutalized have transformed into bandits that kill any humans they come across.
Still, when putting Dragon’s Blood head to head with Arcane, it’s hard to fault it when it comes to secondary characters being portrayed unevenly or experiencing radical shifts in personality.
Ultimately, a pair of plot twists in the second half of the season propels DOTA: Dragon’s Blood to new heights. While people may disagree on which show is better, the argument is much more close than one might have expected just a week ago. It also comes at a great time as the Dota 2 sphere grapples with another catastrophic misfire from Valve.