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Dota 2 Guide: Your Introduction To Valve's Redesigned eSports Masterpiece -- Part 1

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Posted October 14, 2011 - By Leah Jackson


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DOTA 2: Your Guide To The Game

EXACTLY WHAT IS DOTA 2?

Dota 2 is the upcoming fantasy strategy game being developed by Valve, the makers of Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Half-Life. Dota stands for Defense of the Ancients and the game type originated as a user-created mod in Blizzard's WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos in 2003It's the original multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that started the entire craze over seven years ago.

Right now, Dota 2 is in closed beta mode so that Valve can work out all of the kinks. Nevertheless, the company is so confident in their product that they debuted the game by throwing a $1 million tournament at Gamescom this year featuring 16 of the most accomplished Dota teams. The tournament was a huge success and was a great way to get the hype train rolling for Dota 2. However, with so many MOBA games out now we wanted to give you a bit of a 101 on what’s sure to become one of the most competitive video games out there once it’s released next year.

DOTA 2 Gameplay Preview »


HOW DO YOU PLAY DOTA 2?

The objective of competitive Dota 2 is to work within a team of five players to destroy your opponent's base. If you're a fan of League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, or any other type of MOBA game then you'll understand the basic components of Dota 2. You start the game on opposite sides of a symmetrical map with three lanes in between the bases called top, middle (mid) and bottom (bot). In order to get to the other team’s base to destroy it you have to go through a series of three defensive towers per lane. It's kind of like tower defense, except this time you're playing the invaders.

To destroy your opponent’s base you take the role of a hero. There are currently 47 heroes available to play with in the Dota 2 beta, but there will be 105 heroes total when the game is released according to developers. Dota 2 is played at a ¾ isometric angle (think Warcraft 3 or StarCraft 2) so that you can get the best visibility of both your hero and their surroundings. Heroes are controlled via right mouse clicks and each of them have access to four abilities that can be used with the Q,W,E, and R keyboard keys respectively.
 


 

A major component in Dota 2, aside from the vast amount of heroes, are the items available in the game. Many items in Dota 2 can be combined with one another to create even stronger items. Since heroes in Dota 2 receive stat bonuses through items based on their primary stat, each hero has their own set of recommended items that they should use to maximize their potential. To differentiate which items will be the best on each hero, the heroes are all characterized as one of three types: Strength, Agility, and Intelligence.

DOTA 2: Your Guide To The Game

  • Strength: Strength heroes are primarily melee characters who can both deal and take a lot of damage. For each point of strength on an item they get a hit point bonus and faster regeneration on their hit points. They generally also have a stronger base attack damage which is increased via strength weapons as well. An example of a great strength hero is Earthshaker: he has the ability to use a huge totem as a weapon, Earthshaker can slam the ground and cause it to crack open leaving a huge fissure that other heroes have to run around.
  • Agility: Agility heroes are both melee and ranged characters that are great at dishing out damage but not as good at taking it as strength heroes. For each point of agility on an item, agility heroes gain more base attack damage as well as the standard agility benefits of more armor and faster attack speed. Since agility heroes gain more attack speed and get exponentially stronger as they level up, they’re often called “carry” characters since they help the carry the team through the endgame. Anti-mage is one of the best agility heroes in the Dota 2 beta at the moment. With the right items he can attack extremely fast, deal tons of damage, take down intelligence heroes with ease, and can teleport away with his blink ability if he ever gets caught in a tricky situation.
  • Intelligence: Intelligence heroes, like agility heroes, are superb at dealing tons of damage and offering their allies great support but they generally can’t take too many hits as they don’t have many hit points. Intelligence heroes gain more base attack damage for any items with intelligence on them, on top of the standard bonuses of more mana and faster mana regeneration. In the early stages of the game intelligence heroes can deal tons of damage with ranged abilities, but as they level up towards the endgame their spells which could have been used early on for major damage tend to not be as effective since strength and agility heroes have a lot of hit points by then. Crystal Maiden is an example of an intelligence hero who can deal a lot of damage early on in the game with her Crystal Nova spell and who becomes more a utility hero later on in the game with her ability to freeze enemy heroes in place with her Frostbite move.

Each type of hero has their own sets of strengths and weaknesses which are all accentuated by the items that you equip on them. As is with League of Legends, each hero has a set of recommended items which you can purchase with gold acquired by killing creeps, towers, or other heroes. However, if you're killed then you lose a significant amount of money. With the correct items and strategy, many heroes can become ridiculously strong and can really change the tide of any game.

Dota 2 Gamescom 2011 Trailer »


When the game begins you and your team spread throughout three lanes on the map. Generally two people go to the top and bottom lanes, and one hero goes to the middle lane. With the help of creeps, your objective is to push the other team back towards one of their towers and their base.

Creeps are minions that periodically spawn for each team. They don't deal too much damage and when killed they yield both experience and gold. When it comes to creeps there are two things to keep in mind. First, you should always try to aim to get the last hit on them. You only get gold from a creep if you're the one who actually lands the last hit and kills it. More gold means more items, so you always want to try to land the last hit.

Second, in Dota 2 you can deny creeps. If one of your creeps is about to die, you can get the last hit on it and deny your opponent both the money and experience that they otherwise would have received if they had killed it themself. You can also deny towers in Dota 2. Denying creeps and towers is an extremely important strategy in Dota 2 and if you can deny the other team enough experience and resources it can put you in a great lead.

Towers themselves deal a lot of damage and they're the first lines of defense against enemy heroes. Fighting near an enemy tower isn't advised as the tower damage combined with other heroes dealing damage to you is generally a recipe for failure until mid or late game.

HOW CAN YOU PLAY DOTA 2?

If you're interested in getting your hands on Dota 2 then you're in luck as Valve has recently pushed up the closed beta. By the end of their testing phase they hope to have hundreds of thousands participants playing Dota 2. All you have to do to get your hand on a key is sign up on the Dota 2 website and wait patiently for a key.

Valve has also promised that they're going to be having an open beta before the game is released as well. Meaning sometime next year most likely anyone who can run the game will be able to test it out for free.

DOTA 2: Your Guide To The Game

Hopefully with this guide you’re now a bit more familiar with what kind of game Dota 2 is. Let us know about the type of Dota 2 coverage you’d like to see from us next, but what we’ve already got planned is doing a piece on how Dota 2 differs from other MOBA games like League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth. We’ll also go in to how Dota 2 is different from the original Dota on the WC3 engine and what these differences mean for competitive players. Finally, if you’re interested, we’ll also speak to a few professional Dota players to find out some of the best strategies that we should keep in mind when playing.

Have something to share? Sitting on a news tip? E-mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter!

Dota 2 Guide: Your Introduction To Valve's Redesigned eSports Masterpiece -- Part 1
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