DotA 2 For The Uninitiated


What's this DotA 2? Why does it have the 2 in it? Why is is constantly being compared to LoL and vice versa? I have the answers to these questions and more!

So enlighten me, what is DotA 2?

In a nutshell, DotA 2 is the sequel to the popular Warcraft 3 mod called Defence of the Ancients (Hence DotA) that is currently in developement by Valve.

It's a mod! How'd it end up being turned into a full-fledged game?

DotA was so popular that Valve contacted Icefrog, the main developer behind DotA since 2005, and offered him a job as lead designer for DotA 2.

Enough about its origins! What's the gameplay like?

In simple terms, two teams of five players each, the Radiant and the Dire, set out to destroy the opposition's Ancient. The game is won when the Ancient is destroyed.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Not exactly. To reach the Ancient, the teams must penetrate several tiers of powerful towers, all while on the lookout for enemy Heroes.


The unit the player controls. Unlike an RTS, the player only can control their Hero and affiliated units like summons. Each Hero has four spells and/or passives that for the most part are unique to the hero only. Heroes grow stronger by leveling up, which grants them access to new spells/passives or upgraded versions, and by spending gold on items from the various item shops scattered throughout the map.

Well how do they get gold and experience to begin with?

The Radiant and Dire continuously send creep waves down three lanes to push towards the base and Ancient. Gold is acquired by killing enemy creeps, killing neutral creeps in the camps on the jungle, or by slaying enemy Heroes. Experience can be gained as long as an allied unit kills an enemy unit (including Heroes) while you're in the area.

To incentivize player killing and teamwork, Heroes drop far larger amounts of gold and experience on death. If a player manages to string together multiple kills without dying, the game declares them to be on a Killing Spree (3 Kills without dying), Dominating (4 Kills), Mega Kill (5 Kills), etc. The bounty on Heroes with sprees is far higher than Heroes without sprees, which can influence who players target.

A screenshot of DotA 2 in action. Things can get hectic.

OK, I got the basic gist of how the game works now. Where does teamwork kick in?

Besides the obvious fact that you're working with four other players, each Hero generally falls into at least one category, such as carry, support, initiator, ganker, etc. Perfect teamwork involves having a balanced team composition that maximizes the abilities of all Heroes on the team. Also, a single player can throw the entire game for their team by over-extending into enemy territory or using abilities at the wrong time. Without teamwork, one has no chance of winning a game.

Well how many heroes are there?

As of this post, there are currently 91 heroes in the roster. However, it is still in the beta phase, as Valve plans to release the game once the complete hero roster from DotA 1 is ported over to DotA 2.

How do I get into the beta?

You can sign up for an invite at or purchase one from the DotA 2 store for $30. However, for the patient, it has been announced that DotA 2 is going F2P. To justify DotA 2 going F2P, Valve instituted a DotA 2 Store, similar to TF2's Mann Co. There, one can buy cosmetic items for heroes. But no worries, the cosmetics have no effect on gameplay!

Why is there so much comparisons between DotA 2 and LoL?

DotA 2 and LoL are variations of the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, except obviously LoL has its own sets of heroes and game mechanics. It is often criticized that LoL is basically DotA for casual players, due to its simplistic gameplay compared to DotA 2.

Why is Valve wasting valuable time and money developing this when Half-Life 3 hasn't been released yet?

I don't know, go ask Gabe.