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How To Play Dota 2

Steven Rondina

If you’ve logged into Steam and searched through the ‘Free to Play’ games section or heard the term MOBA, you’ve probably heard of Dota 2 at some point.

Photo courtesy of Dotabuff.com.

Photo courtesy of Dotabuff.com.

It’s massive prize pools and global talent pool have made it insanely popular with fans. Meanwhile, its exciting, addictive gameplay has grown it into being one of the biggest PC titles of this generation.

But what the heck is it? And how do you even get started playing it? Read on and find out!

What is Dota 2?

Dota 2 is a game in the MOBA genre that is based upon the popular Warcraft III mod ‘Defense of the Ancient.’ In most ways, it has the look and feel of its RTS parent, but it adds extra RPG and tower defense elements that make it a unique experience from other titles.

How Do You Play Dota 2? How Much Does Dota 2 Cost?

Dota 2 is available exclusively on PC, where it can be downloaded through Steam. The game is completely free to play and nothing of in-game importance requires money. Unlike other MOBAs, there is no “pay to win” factor with Dota 2, as all heroes, items and abilities are available with the basic version of the game.

The game does have microtransactions but these are purely for cosmetic items or various other bonus content.

You can find out more, and how to get started, on the official Dota 2 website.

How Do You Win in Dota 2?

Victory in Dota 2 is achieved when one team destroying the other’s Ancient, the large structure which sits at the center of their base. But of course, winning a game isn’t quite that simple…

How Does the Dota 2 Map Work?

The Dota 2 map is largely comprised of three paths called “lanes” – top lane, mid lane, and bottom lane. Top lane is the path that is top most lane for the Dire and the bottom most lane for the Radiant. They are the longest lanes in the game and are home to where the Carry farms. The lane that runs diagonally down the middle is called the ‘mid lane’ and is home to the midlaner. The last lane is the ‘off-lane’ and it is the left most lane for the Ancient and the right most lane for the Dire. These are the shortest lanes in the game and are home to the offlane position. Each side, Radiant and Dire, home several sections of their map where Neutral Creeps reside. These sections of the map are called ‘jungles’ and they contain Neutral Creeps such as Minotaurs and Dragons. Either side can kill these Neutral Creeps to gain experience and gold.

How to Play Dota 2

The map of Dota 2 based on patch 7.27

Groups of small group of AI-controlled monsters called ‘creeps’ spawn for both teams once every thirty seconds in each lane. Their objective is to kill the opposite teams’ creeps in each lane and will fight until they are killed. These creeps spawn in the barracks at the base of the closest Towers to the base. The creeps will continue to spawn until the Barracks are destroyed.

What Are The Buildings on the Map?

The “Towers” are the large obelisks that shoot fireballs and protect the lane from enemies both creeps or heroes. There are three towers in each lane, and each needs to be destroyed in order, with each tower being invulnerable until the further tower is destroyed.

The enemy’s base barracks will be exposed once all three towers in a lane have been destroyed. Each tier three tower has two Barracks – Melee and Ranged. These hide behind the Tier Three Tower and need to be destroyed in order to stop the creep from spawning. Though the Barracks are not technically critical objectives, eliminating them strengthens one’s own creeps for the duration of the game. At the center of the base, meanwhile, are two more towers which serve as the final layer of protection for the Ancient.

Once those have been finished off the Ancient can be attacked and once it is destroyed, the game ends. So we know what the map is and what buildings are but how do you play Dota 2?

What are Heroes?

In every match, players select a hero to play based on the role they wish to perform. There are 119 heroes to choose from in the game, with each possessing their own unique set of skills and abilities.

Heroes are controlled similar to a real-time strategy game, with movement controlled by right-clicking the mouse and skills bound to keys. Each hero has a set of abilities that are unique to them and are bound starting to Q, W, E, R.

How Does Your Hero Gain Levels?

Heroes progressively gain levels throughout the game by acquiring experience from killing enemy units such as lane creeps, neutral creeps, enemy heroes or being within a certain proximity of these kills.

When an enemy unit dies, experience points are divided among each enemy hero in the vicinity. Creeps give off a set amount of experience that remains static while heroes give off more experience, which grows based on their level.

After a certain amount of experience points are gained, a hero levels up. Each level increases stats, and allows the player to upgrade one of their abilities. The maximum level for all heroes are 30.

Every hero acquires a small amount passively throughout the game. More can be obtained by delivering the killing blow to creeps and enemy heroes. Destroying a tower, barrack, building, fountain or Roshan grants gold to the entire enemy team.

In addition to leveling up, items are are an important part of developing your hero. Different items have different effects including boosting stats, granting new abilities, and adding additional effects to attacks. Items can be purchased from shops in exchange for gold.

What Types of Heroes Are There?

Every hero helps its team in different ways. Some are capable of efficiently killing enemies, some are capable of quickly knocking over towers, and some bolster the strength of allies. A hero can’t naturally fulfill every role, however, and as such, heroes can be categorized based on what they do best.

Here are some of the different hero types:

Tank – Tanks are naturally durable and often have skills that amplify this. They don’t do much damage, but their ability to distract enemies and give space for teammates makes them valuable.

Nuker – Nukers are heroes capable of quickly dealing massive damage. This power often comes with a tradeoff of being more fragile than other heroes.

Roamer – Roamers effectively travel between lanes in order to assist in killing enemy heroes.

Hard Carry – Hard carries are incredibly powerful as they progress through the game. They are known for being able to dish out massive amounts of damage very quickly once they have leveled up and obtained enough gold.

Disabler – Disablers are heroes who have abilities that can interrupt or hold enemy heroes in order for the Carry or Nuker to kill.

Pusher – Pusher heroes are heroes whose abilities quickly remove creep waves and take down Towers. Heroes that have tools to knock down enemy towers are called pushers. This can be done in a variety of ways including casting spells that deal damage to buildings, pressuring lanes from afar or empowering allied creeps.

What Roles do Players Have on a Team?

Generally speaking, there are three roles on a Dota 2 team; core, support and off-laner.

Cores tend to be the strongest heroes in the game…eventually. Often starting off weak, their strength grows exponentially as they level up and buy items. Cores usually inhabit the ‘safe lane’ or mid and can be incredibly powerful if they are given the opportunity to grow.

Supports are the opposites of carries. Effective with minimal resources and typically strongest early, they work to ensure the growth of cores by setting up kills, placing wards, healing or providing buffs. No support hero can do all of those things effectively, though, and choosing the right one for your team can be a tricky decision.

Offlaners, as the name suggests, work in the offlane. Playing in this lane tends to be more difficult, as the lane equilibrium ends up on the enemy side of the river. This results normally in a tricky two-on-one situation. This lane can provide either ample amounts of gold and experience or leave the offlaner working from far behind, making versatility and play-making skills critical.

In pro games, these role are often assigned numbers from one through five, based upon how much gold and experience they need relative to their allies. Carries are position one, Solo Mid is position two, Offlaner is position three, Roaming Support is position four, and Hard Support is position 5.

What Are the Best Carry Heroes in Dota 2?

Dota 2 is distinct from other MOBAs because the ability that heroes have to potentially fulfill more than one role.

Windranger, for example, has a very good stun and the ability to increase her attack speed while targeting a single unit or building. Players can make Windranger into an effective core or offlaner by building different items and leveling her in different ways,

That said, there are certain heroes that sacrifice versatility to excel past others in one specific role. The ones that stand apart as the best carries and supports in Dota 2 are:

Best Carries – Anti-Mage, Terrorblade, Phantom Lancer, Spectre, Chaos Knight, Juggernaut, Sniper, Medusa

Best Supports – Lich, Bane, Rubick, Omniknight, Dazzle, Io, Warlock, Treant Protector, Crystal Maiden

What Are the Best Heroes for New Players in Dota 2?

When you play your first games of Dota 2, seeing that Hero Select screen can be harrowing! There are loads of heroes and plenty of them require lightning-quick reflexes and sniper-like accuracy. So how do you pick the best hero for you? Here are some of the best options:

Wraith KingWraith King is easily the best carry option for new players. His intuitive attack animation and high damage make him easy to farm with. He also has one of the most effective, straightforward stuns in the game. And, of course, his ultimate lets him come back after he dies which is great for new players.

Lich– Lich is one of the most intuitive characters in Dota 2. His Frost Blast skill does a lot of damage early, Ice Armor is incredibly useful and his ultimate is powerful, even if it doesn’t get favorable bounces.

Lion– All of Lion’s spells are high-impact and easy to use. He has two no-fuss disables, an ultimate that reliably does huge damage and a Mana Drain skill that allows you to utterly spam spells early in the game.

Lion is one of the best heroes to learn how to play Dota 2

Lion is one of the best heroes to learn how to play Dota 2 with.

Tips and Tricks for How to Play Dota 2

Don’t overextend and get caught out of position. This might sound like a no-brainer but it’s incredibly easy to get rattled in Dota 2. You’ll die twice, get called out for it by your team and spend the rest of the game standing next to tower. You’ll then fall further and further behind as a result.

Don’t pass up opportunities to get at least a little bit of gold and experience. Stand behind creeps to get experience or stay close to a Carry while they farm the jungle. Every little bit helps!

Warding is the job of the support – but don’t be afraid to help out! Supports will generally provide the wards and grant vision for the team but once and a while – they might need support. Try to remain positive with warding and try not to aggressively ping the “We need wards” command if you die.

Cores require items and experience to be effective. Because Cores are resource-dependent, cores should remember to sit to farming, jungling, and ganking to continue their hero progression.

No hero is OP- At some point, you’ll feel like a specific hero is way too powerful to deal with. In reality, though, no hero is unstoppable! The best way to identify the weaknesses in a hero is to play it yourself! After just a few games, you should know how to handle playing against them.