What is DotA?
DotA began as a user made mod for Warcraft 3 and has become one of the most popular games in the world. DotA has a long (and complicated) history which can be read about in detail at GosuGamers. Dota 2 is Valve’s reimagining of the Warcraft 3 mod and is being led by Icefrog, who has been DotA’s main developer since 2005.
How does DotA work?
DotA is a member of the ARTS (action RTS) genre. DotA takes place on one map with three lanes and two jungles. The main goal of DotA is to destroy your opponent’s ancient located on the opposite end of the map. Teams of five players earn experience points and gold by killing NPC creeps and enemy players. Gold is exchanged for items that improve player stats and help the team.
Where can I get Dota 2?
Dota 2 is on Steam and available for the PC (and Mac in the future). It is currently in closed beta with invites going out every few days.
What kind of features will be in Dota 2?
Valve has promised to help ease new players into Dota 2 with an array of services including:
Coaching: Experienced players will be able to guide newbies while they are in game.
AI Bots: Computer controlled allies and opponents will help players learn in a non hostile environment.
Commend and Report: Players in Dota 2 can be commended or reported based on their attitude in a game. Constantly liked players will be rewarded with in game items such as skins, whereas toxic players will be punished.
Replays: Dota 2 will utilize Steam Cloud to allow players to easily access his or her replays (and see all those missed Mirana arrows). Players can also search for replays of top players or filter replays to watch certain heroes in action.
Live Spectating: Potentially the most exciting feature of Dota 2 is its live spectating system. Players can easily view games of their friends or tournament matches in real time.
Heroes in Dota 2
There are 104 total heroes in DotA. Valve is in the process of transferring all the heroes from the mod to Dota 2. Currently there are 58 playable heroes in Dota 2. Heroes are divided into three different categories (strength, agility and intelligence) and two different factions (Radiant and Dire)
Roles in Dota 2
Heroes in Dota 2 typically (but not always) have a defined role. They include Carry, Support, Ganker, Initiator, and Pusher.
Carry: Starts out pitifully weak, but through the accumulation of levels and items, is eventually able to be the most powerful character in the game. Examples of carries are Spectre and Drow Ranger.
Support: Support heroes are heroes who can function with minimal items. Supports usually buy items to benefit the entire team and help babysit carries in the laning phase. Examples of supports include Crystal Maiden and Vengful Spirit.
Ganker: Gankers are heroes who have spells that help pick off opponents. Gankers typically play in the middle lane to quickly level up and help kill enemies in the top and bottom lanes. Examples of gankers are Pudge and Clockwerk.
Initiator: Initiators are heroes who have strong crowd control abilities and are able to catch enemies off guard and force team fights. Examples of initiators are Earthshaker and Sand King.
Pushers: Pushers are heroes who have spells that will quickly destroy enemy towers. Pushers try to destroy towers as quickly as possible. Examples of pushers are Broodmother and Nature’s Prophet.
The Map of Dota 2
[MAP IMAGE GOES HERE]
Dota has a large and complex map Players start out at the bottom left (Radiant) or top right (Dire) section and try to destroy enemy towers with the ultimate goal of penetrating the opponents base and destroying the ancient.
There are three lanes in Dota 2:
Top: The Dire’s forest is located here and is considered .”safe” for the Dire and “dangerous” for the Radiant.
Middle: This lane is typically where heroes solo to quickly level up and assists the other lanes in ganks.
Bottom: The Radiant’s forest is here and is considered “safe” for the Radiant and “dangerous” for the Dire.
Runes are items that randomly spawn in the river in between the top and bottom lanes every two minutes. The runes that can spawn are: Invisibility, Haste, Double Damage, Illusion and Regeneration. Heroes in mid lane typically buy a Bottle to store the runes and save them for later use.
Roshan is a very difficult neutral NPC located slightly to the right of the middle lane. Roshan typically requires a full group of high level players to take down in a timely manner. When killed, Roshan drops an Aegis of the Immortal which allows a hero to resurrect shortly after being killed.
Items in Dota 2
There are over 100 items in Dota 2, many of which have special effects when activated. It is impossible to list every item in the game, but Dota 2 Wiki has a comprehensive list.
Item Combinations and Recipes:
Many items in Dota 2 can be combined to form more powerful items. Such items typically require a “recipe” to help complete the upgraded version. Recipes are worthless by themselves and should generally be the last component bought when upgrading.
Secret Shop and Side Shop
Side shops are located in the Dire’s top and the Radiant’s bottom lanes. Side shops have an array of items that can be purchased without having to use a courier to deliver them.
Secret shops are located next to Roshan and the Radiant’s ancient creeps. The secret shop houses very expensive, yet powerful, components for some of the best items in the game.
I heard the community in DotA is very hostile. Is that true?
Sadly, that is correct. DotA has one of the rudest communities in gaming. The mechanics of DotA are harsh and one bad player can ruin a game for the rest of his or her team. Dota 2 is attempting to improve the community by means of AI bots, a coaching system and player commendation and condemn features.
Fortunately, NeoGAF has community of players who are generally well mannered and typically eager to help players learn. You can visit the Steam community group here.
I play Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends. How is Dota 2 different from those games?
Heroes of Newerth
Heroes of Newerth and Dota 2 both have similar gameplay and share similar heroes. In the past year, S2 games has taken HoN in their own direction to differentiate themselves from DotA. You can check out GameReplays comparison of DotA to HoN heroes.
League of Legends
Although League of Legends and DotA both have the same end goal of destroying the opponent’s main structure, they have vastly different mechanics. Here are some of the major differences between the two games:
1) Denying: Denying is killing your own creeps (and in some cases heroes) to prevent the enemy from gaining gold and less experience. Denying is a very controversial mechanic and there have been many online arguments for and against it. Denying does not exist in in League of Legends, but is an important mechanic for the laning phase of Dota.
2) Teleports and the Blue Pill: League of Legends allows every player to return to home base via the B button. Players can not teleport any where else on the map, except with the use of a summoner ability that is on a five minute cooldown. In DotA, players are able to buy Town Portal Scroll, a 135 gold item that allows the user to teleport to any friendly tower and has a 65 second cooldown.
3) Gold Loss on Death: Champions in League of Legends do not lose gold when they die, whereas DotA heroes do.
4) Mana Cost and Cooldown of Abilities: Most skills in League of Legends have very low mana costs and cool down, allowing for skills to be spammable. Spamming skills in Dota will lead to an empty mana pool and frustration.
5) Lethality of Crowd Control Abilities: League of Legends has very few stuns and “hard” crowd control abilities, whereas they are common in Dota. Players caught out of position in Dota are likely to die due to the length of certain stun abilities and number of abilities. For example: Shadow Shaman potentially has three crowd control abilities (shackles, polymorph and ward trap) and can easily kill players out of position.
6) Summoner Abilities: League of Legends has a wide variety of abilities that players can use. Examples include a short distance blink (Flash) and a move speed bonus (Ghost). Dota does not have summoner abilities. Instead, many items in Dota 2 have activated effects that give the user the same benefit as summoner abilities. (Examples: Blink Dagger is like Flash, Mekanism is like Heal, and Phase Boots are like Ghost).
7) AP Scaling: In League of Legends, casters are able to increase the damage of their spells. Dota heroes are unable to do this and typically taper off later in the game.
8) Rune and Mastery System: League of Legends allows players to buy runes which give small stat boosts before the game starts and masteries, which allow players to customize their abilities akin to World of Warcraft’s talent trees. Neither of these exist in Dota.
I got into the beta and I’m excited! But now what do I do?
[SPOILER]Click the link.[/SPOILER]
It’s my first game of Dota and I have no clue what to do!
(As a note, every aspect of Dota cannot be described in a few paragraphs, therefore I am trying to give the most basic examples of what you are likely to occur in your first game)
Woah there, calm down. For your first few games of Dota you should play item indepent heroes who don’t rely on much gold to be successful. Good choices for heroes who fit this description are Lich, Crystal Maiden, Lina, Dazzle, and Lion.
After you have picked your hero, you will need to buy items. You begin with 603 gold at the start of a game, therefore early itemization is important. Always make sure that you have some form of health regeneration when making your initial purchases.
Vital items include Tangos (90 gold for a set of three, give 115 HP regen over 16 seconds and cannot be dispelled by enemy damage) and Healing Salve (100 gold, regenerates 400 HP over 10 seconds, and is dispelled by enemy damage). If you are a caster who is mana dependent then Clarity (50 gold, regenerates 100 mana over 30 seconds and is dispelled by enemy damage) is also a smart item choice.
Additional items to consider buying are Animal Courier (170 gold, summons a donkey that can ferry items to the team and can be upgraded for an additional 200 gold), Observer Wards (200 gold, gives the player two vision wards that last six minutes each and can help keep sight of an enemy) and Iron Branch (53 gold, gives +1 to all attributes).
Example: I pick Lich and buy Animal Courier, Tango, Healing Salve, three Iron Branches and a Clarity for a total cost of 569 gold.
After you have bought your items, go to a specific lane. One of the most important things to remember in Dota is to not mindlessly attack creeps in the laning phase. Blindly auto attacking creeps will push the lane and make you more vulnerable to ganks (being killed by opponents of whom you do not have proper vision). Gold is rewarded to players who get the killing blow on a creep, therefore you should try to properly time last hits.
Another important aspect of the laning phase is denying. Denying is killing your own creeps to prevent the opponent from earning gold and lowering the amount of experience they earn. To deny, you have to press A and then click on the creep you wish to deny.
Map awareness is one of the most important skills you can have in Dota. Be sure to constantly glance at your mini map and let your teammates know if any heroes have been missing for an extended period of time. For example: I am laning against an Earthshaker and Drow Ranger. Earthshaker has not been seen in the lane for a short while. I would let my team know he is missing in text or voice chat. If you use text chat, be sure to utilize acronyms (i.e. ES miss).
The time spent in the laning phase is variable, but after 20 minutes or so the game transitions to the team fight phase. Team fights usually consist of small skirmishes and eventually erupt into full 5 on 5 clashes. Positioning is one of the most important skills to have in a team fight. Try to make sure you can cast your spells on the enemy while at the same time trying to avoid enemy spells.
Your first few [spoiler]dozen[/spoiler] games of Dota will probably end in disaster. It is a very hard game to learn and master, but it becomes very rewarding once you get better at it.