You know, for one of the premiere esports titles today, Valve doesn’t really seem to care if people want to learn how to play Dota 2 or not. It is, as if, they’re deliberately sabotaging the game’s chances of appealing to the mass public. The lack of a proper tutorial, for example, and Valve’s rather nonchalant approach towards toxicity, creates a tall, hard wall that’s somehow built to be impossible for players who are new to Dota 2 to climb.
But, even so, Dota 2 still manages to attract its fair share of new players. This is especially true in recent months. The introduction of Artifact helped bring in players interested to learn more about the game it is “based” on. Additionally, Blizzard’s decision to stop supporting the competitive scene of their own MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, has forced many of the game’s players to look to either League of Legends or Dota 2 for their new gaming fix.
If you’re one of those who previously played Heroes of the Storm and want to learn how to play Dota 2, then you’ve come to the right place.
While breaking down every one of Dota 2’s one hundred or so heroes, not including the complex item system and the layers of mechanics borrowed from real-time strategy games, will no doubt take a lot of time, we decided to skim through most of the fat and give you a more general guide to help ease your transition from Heroes of the Storm to Dota 2.
1. Every hero in Dota 2 is unlocked for free
In Dota 2, every hero is available to you right off the bat. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should play all of them right away.
Much like in every other MOBA, every hero in Dota 2 has a different difficulty rating represented by a set number of stars — with 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest — assigned to them. Heroes with 1 star have mechanics that are pretty straightforward and simpler to understand, which makes them great for starters. Such heroes include Wraith King, Luna, and Bane, among others. Meanwhile, heroes that are assigned 3 stars are more complex and are reserved for players who are already familiar with the game, and in some cases, have a high-degree of mechanical skill. This includes heroes like Invoker, Visage, Meepo, and so on.
Keep in mind, however, that simpler doesn’t mean easier, nor complicated heroes more impactful.
Dota 2 is a pretty well-balanced title. Every hero, regardless of assigned difficulty, can always have an impact on the game. It all depends on how the hero is played.
2. Experience sharing among allies work differently
One of the biggest differences in Dota 2 from Heroes of the Storm is that heroes earn experience quite differently. Every hero, enemy, or neutral creep felled, gives experience points shared among allied heroes within a 1500 radius. If a hero is alone, the hero receives all of the experience points.
In Dota 2, you play around this mechanic, among others. Although roles are much more fluid in Dota 2, heroes typically played in the middle lane and hard carries often receive experience and gold priority. So, for example, if you’re playing as a support, your job is to stay out of the radius so as not to “leech” experience from your allies, while also being close enough to provide back up or harass the opponent.
It is this mechanic that allows carries in Dota 2 to end games at level 25 while the rest of the team can be at level 12 or even lower.
As much as you shouldn’t beat yourself too much about having a hard time adjusting to this, do try to keep on moving and doing something all of the time while in the game.
3. Practice how to last hit and deny
While you can earn passive gold in Dota 2 from destroyed towers, the Bounty rune, and from kill/assist bounty, you earn majority of your gold from last hitting — a term used to describe landing the killing blow — on creeps (the equivalent of minions in Dota 2). The more gold you have, the more items you can buy. You can slot these items into your inventory to help improve your stats or gain access to a passive or active ability or even both.
There’s a wide range of items available in Dota 2 and every one has a use for a particular situation, regardless of how “random” it may look. However, for starters, you’ll want to stick to the items recommended by the Default Guide by Valve. You can also switch over to the updated hero guides created by Torte De Lini.
Moving on, speaking of last hitting, denying is also extremely important in Dota 2.
Denying is a term used to describe landing a killing blow on a friendly unit. By doing so, you “deny” enemies a significant amount of experience gain and all of the gold bounty, while also gaining some in return as well. You can start denying allied creeps when they hit below <50% health by attacking them as you normally would, or by right clicking if you enable the “Right-Click to Force Attack” feature in the settings.
4. Always bring a Town Portal Scroll
As of the latest update, each player will now have a designated and separate item slot for the Town Portal Scroll. This means that players don’t need to worry about the item taking up space in their inventory and costing them a lot.
In any case, if you’re coming from Heroes of the Storm, one thing you need to learn if you want to know how to play Dota 2 is that there is no recall option here. The only way to teleport from wherever you are to the base or any other friendly structure/tower on the map is via the Town Portal Scroll, the Boots of Travel upgrade for the regular Boots of Speed, or via other hero’s spells and abilities.
Having said that, the Town Portal Scroll is extremely important. Always have at least one or two with you. It only costs 50 gold to buy and you can use it to teleport in to save a teammate or to teleport out to save yourself.
5. The objective is always the same
Although every Dota 2 game is different, your goal is always to destroy the enemy’s ancient — there are no other hard objectives to capture or payload to push.
As mundane as this may sound, the fun in Dota 2 is in all the different outcomes that could happen in every match. In one game, you could dominate, and in the next, you could play like absolute shit. Also, there are no other maps available in Dota 2, albeit you can change the terrain layout via in-game skins that you can equip.
If it’s any consolation, Dota 2 constantly receives updates every year where the developers change a lot of things on the map, making the latest map feel, look, and play noticeably different from the last one.
Kudos to you for wanting to learn how to play Dota 2. From here on out, you’re going to need all of the luck that you can get.
The truth is, Dota 2 is one of the most unforgiving titles out there. The community will turn on you as quickly as it will praise you. This is especially true once they find out that you’re a new player who’s trying to learn how to play Dota 2. But, if you keep at it, you’ll soon learn how to enjoy every game. Bit by bit, you’ll learn a new mechanic and a different way to apply it and so on.
Having said that, there’s really no way to learn how to play Dota 2 but to play. It doesn’t matter if it’s against bots, or you’re practicing alone, or with a friend, or if you’re jumping right into the thick of things and into a normal match right away. Dota 2 is a game that you’ll just have to keep on playing to learn. Otherwise, you will never get a feel for the game, which features widely different mechanics from other MOBAs out there.
Are you a former Heroes of the Storm player? What are other tips that you think are essential for those who want to learn how to play Dota 2? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.