How To Play Dota 2 – Ultimate Dota 2 Beginner’s Guide

Dota 2 is the second most popular MOBA game in the world after League of Legends, and has developed substantially over the last 10 years. Today, this competitive video game is one of the pillars of esports and has a player base of 10 million.
In this short guide on how to play Dota 2, I will take you through the basics of what it means to play and why it’s such a challenging and rewarding experience.

What is Dota 2

Dota 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA, type of game, which means that it’s a mixture of two types of games: RPG and RTS. It’s an RPG because it involves heroes and many of the elements of RPG games, like experience, items, skills, gold, talents, etc. And it’s an RTS because it’s played in the real-time strategy format. You need to make quick decisions, respond to attacks, plan your own offensive, take objectives on the map, and so on. Think Warcraft 3 plus Diablo 3 and you will get a better picture of what Dota 2 really is.

How To Play Dota 2 - Ultimate Dota 2 Beginner’s Guide
Roman Kosolapov/123RF

Of course, you won’t fully appreciate Dota 2 until you’ve played it for a while. The thing that makes it so addictive is the mixture of complexity, replayability, and freedom. In this game, you can be as creative as you want to be. Many of the heroes are highly sophisticated and the better you get at playing them, the higher your impact will be on each of your games.

The Basics of Dota 2

Learning how to play Dota 2 is far from easy, but the process goes a lot faster if you have some RPG and RTS experience. In terms of its basic game structure, two teams of five players each compete on one unique map (you don’t need to learn an entire map pool like in Overwatch or CS:GO, which allows teams to focus on game play, such as heroes and items). The ultimate goal of the game is to destroy the enemy team’s Ancient, which is the core structure of each team’s base. When the Ancient dies, the game ends and victory is gained by the team whose Ancient is still alive.
Prior to each game, the two teams get to choose heroes from a list of over 100 options. Each hero is unique and can be played in one or more roles within a team. These roles separate into two categories: core (midlaner, offlaner, and carry) and support (roamer and support). Most heroes excel at one particular role and are not well-suited for the opposite one. For example, you can’t play Templar Assassin (midlaner) as a support. She would have almost nothing to offer to your team from this role, simply because she is built to be a right-click damage dealer and is heavily item-dependent.
After the 10 players have picked their heroes – ideally two supports and three cores per team – the match begins. The map is divided into two sides and consists of structures, three lanes, and a large forest portion called the jungle.
By this time, the players have used their initial gold to buy some items and consumables and have gone to their lanes. The Radiant-side offlaner goes top or to the left of his base, the midlaner goes to the middle lane, and the other three players usually go together to the safe lane. Of course, this isn’t always the case; in Dota 2, there are no fixed rules and it’s all about gaining an advantage.
Watch for lane creeps, which spawn every 30 seconds and attack everything that stands in their way. Their behavior is simple, though, and can be eliminated easily. Go down the lane, attack all enemies along the way, and then all enemy structures when no other enemies are around. On each lane, there are three sets of towers, nine in total on each side of the map until you get to the barracks. If the barracks are destroyed, stronger lane creeps will spawn every 30 seconds, giving the opposing team (the one that destroyed a barracks) a significant lane advantage.

How the game evolves

When learning how to play Dota 2, notice the evolution of each game. Initially, you start with almost nothing: very little gold and a level 1 hero. But as you gain gold and experience by killing enemy creeps and heroes, you advance in level and can buy more powerful items from the shop. The maximum level you can reach is 30 and the maximum number of item slots you can fill is six, plus the one reserved for Teleportation Scrolls.
In Dota 2, heroes evolve very rapidly and some of them get really strong. The key is to grow faster than your enemies in level and gold, so that you can buy better items and impose your own rhythm on the game. At the professional level, you will often see teams trying to gain a small advantage and then snowball out of control.

Dota 2 Ranks

Like any esport, Dota 2 has a ladder that you can climb in order to compete with better and better players. These ranks go from Herald to Immortal and are eight in total. Each of them has five additional subranks, symbolized by stars. Every time you win a game, you get around 25 points. Every time you lose a game, you lose around 25 points. And the better you get, the more games you will win at any given rank.

Radu Muresan

Radu Muresan