They sure know how to play Dota 2 in Boston. Image source: Watbe [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Dota 2 is exceedingly intimidating especially if you accidentally end up playing your first game with random strangers. Things can get a little sweaty when you do not know which lane you are being told to switch to. This will be a comprehensive run-through the basics that one needs to know about how to play Dota 2 and a summary of how a single game unfolds.
Dota 2 is one of the most popular esports games, currently ranking at number 3. Dota 2, short for Defense of the Ancients 2, was released in 2013 replacing its prequel, Dota. It’s a multiplayer game, consisting of two teams with 5 players each, defending against each other in a battle arena. With ballooning popularity, more people are learning how to play Dota 2 every single day.
Comparatively, Dota 2 is equally popular amongst esports spectators as well as players. The International is one of the most prestigious esports tournaments and holds the record for the top 4 prize pools in esports gaming history. Therefore, it is no surprise that for TI 2019, Dota 2 was able to accumulate $30 Million, once again setting another monumental record.
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How to Play Dota 2: The Basics
Dota 2 is a free online game, available for download on Steam (digital video game distribution platform). The game has over a 100 heroes you can choose from, each with a distinct ability. Learning how to play Dota 2 heroes is a slow process, it will be infuriating but you will get through.
Two teams with 5 players each are spawn in their bases, Radiant and Dire. Throughout the game, each hero earns gold and experience by farming (killing opponent heroes or creeps), using them to learn abilities and make items. Each faction has towers which guard the lanes. The purpose of the game is to destroy all the defenses, exclusively the ancient, which will lead to victory.
However, Dota 2 is a lot more complex than it may sound. It has a steep learning curve which can become easier to understand if you have a friend to guide you through this.
Start with the In-Game Guide
Dota 2 has a tutorial which helps you get acquainted with the utmost basics of the game. Not to mention, this will be your first and last friendly guide on how to play Dota 2. Fundamentally, you will learn the controls to your hero along with your screen. Above all, understanding the map and moreover using it religiously will be one of the key lessons in the guide. You will learn about items and how to forge one that fits with the abilities of the selected hero.
Game modes and hero selection
Dota 2 has different modes of game, the most popular being Ranked: All pick, which allows players to choose a hero of their choice. Ranked games assign players MMR, Matchmaking Ranking, which regulates the skill level of players and pairs them up with players who have similar rankings.
Heroes have different categories, these are the following ones:
- Agility Heroes
- Intelligence Heroes
- Melee Heroes
Heroes can belong to more than one category which comprises of multiple skills which they possess. Hence, a strong team line-up requires heroes belonging from different categories. Support heroes are essential to a team for the reason that they can heal allies, buy couriers, place wards, etc. This acts as a great advantage for the rest of the team to level up swiftly.
The game starts with all 5 heroes crammed inside the only haven throughout the arena, the fountain inside the base. Players start by buying the initial items from the shop in the base and head off to their respective lanes.
Primarily there are 3 lanes which connect the bases to the river:
- Middle Lane
- Top Lane
- Bottom Lane
Mid Lane is essentially a solo lane which is guarded typically by the best player on the team, commonly using a carry hero.
As the name suggests, top lane, are the lanes located on the top left side of the map for both factions.
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Bottom lane is located at the bottom right of the map. The radiant’s bottom lane is referred to as safe lane whereas the dire’s bottom lane is called offlane lane, vice versa for the top lane.
Creeps are the basic units that are a small-scale passive defense mechanism of each side. Lane creeps spawn every 30 seconds and move in groups to defend lanes and fight alongside heroes against the enemy forces. The location of neutral creeps is in both the jungles. Heroes and items can sometimes grant control over them. When a creep dies on the last hit by a player, consequently they gain experience points and gold.
When gaining gold and experience points, the hero levels up and you can assign ability points to basic or ultimate abilities. Along with passive abilities, each hero has 3 or more basic and 1 ultimate ability. Abilities are distinct for each hero, for instance, some cause damage while others can cast a protection spell. However, all abilities require mana and when they are cast, it may result in cooldown. Upgrading them in some cases can increase the mana cost and cooldown time.
Items are an integral part of the game and are available at both the shop and the secret shop. Depending on the rarity, items can provide strength, more health points, a massive amount of damage and in some cases, invisibility. The same hero can require a different item build for different games, depending on the selection of enemy heroes. Furthermore, items can help make certain abilities more powerful and amplify their effect. For instance, all heroes have a unique ability that one can upgrade by Aghanim’s Scepter.
An average Dota 2 game can last from 30 minutes to more than an hour. After the initial bloodbath of first kills and ganks, the game progresses to the stage of taking down the foremost defense, the tier 1 towers. The operation is termed as pushing.
Farming should be consistent to survive in this exceptionally competitive game. Mid game is mostly about pushing through the enemies towers in each lane while making items which will conclude the late game into a victory.
The most intense and stressful time during the entire game is the late game. Late game is when all the heroes are the most powerful. In addition, in most cases, they are also maxed out. Things can become highly unpredictable in a very short period of time. Hence, it is customarily the prime time to go on a Roshan hunt.
Roshan the Immortal
Roshan, also known as Roshan the immortal, is a mighty and intimidating neutral creep. Often, it takes a village to kill Roshan, especially during early to mid-game. When Roshan dies, he drops Aegis of Immortality which if picked up by a hero, will reincarnate him/her upon death.
Immortality grants a team a stronger chance in winning a team fight. Meanwhile, if the enemy heroes have not yet respawned, it is the perfect time to take down their last defense line. Therefore, making it easier to enter their base with the purpose of destroying their ancient.
There are numerous ways to strategize a win, however strategizing requires exceptional team-play skills. Good communication is an integral cog in a team. Teams have to constantly strategize their attacks and defense, for which information flow is necessary.
Dota 2 may sound like an intimidating game, and to some extent, it probably is. Learning how to play Dota 2 may be a tedious task at times, albeit you are one good win away from falling in love with the game.