How to play Dota 2 - Starter Guide and Tips for Beginners

Dec 02 2019 9 min read

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Dota 2 is one of the most popular games in the world and also one of the biggest esports. The game origins from the legendary custom game in Warcraft III called DotA, which at one point became even more popular than WC3 itself. As a result, Valve teamed up with the creator of DotA (IceFrog) and created Dota 2, one of the most famous MOBA games in the world.

Every single MOBA is pretty hard to play, and Dota 2 is no exception here. With over a hundred heroes, each with four or more unique abilities, you can easily get lost while trying to figure out what's exactly happening in the game. As if that's not enough, this game is very famous for having one of the most toxic communities in the world. In fact, Valve took this very seriously in the last year and released a series of updates that aim to improve the quality of life in the game. However, there are still a lot of trolls, racists, homophobes, and so on, so you need to be mentally prepared for what is to come.

Let's take a look at the most important things that you need to know in order to learn how to play Dota 2. Keep it in mind that this will mostly be beginners' guide so that you might find some of the things mentioned here pretty familiar.

Dota 2 Tutorial - You Should Not Skip it

After you create your Steam account and download the game, the first thing that you will see when you first launch it is the tutorial. Even though it might seem pretty annoying, we advise you to give it a go because it will show the absolute basics. Without completing it, you will be essentially clueless about what to do, and it won't end well. You will be able to see different abilities and heroes, how to activate them, what they do, and so on.

However, if you have some experience in a different MOBA, you might find this tutorial not as useful. After all, the core mechanics of each MOBA game are more or less the same, even though there are a lot of specifics. 

Dota 2 basics - the ABC of this incredible MOBA

Like any other MOBA  out there, you have one "simple" task to do - kill the enemies' Ancient before they do the same. However, this is easier said than done, especially when you're new to the game.

There are two teams in the game consisted of five players each, and they all start from level one. Each one of them is controlling his very own hero that has a specific job in the game. Like we mentioned above, there are over 100 heroes in the game, but all of them are divided into three categories - Strength, Agility, and Intelligence.  The first attribute adds health, the second adds attack and movement speed, and the third one - mana and "spell power." The item choices that you make depend heavily on what type of hero you've picked, even though there is a lot of exceptions to this rule. 

In general, the Strength heroes are considered to be the frontliners and ofter referred to as "tanks." On the other hand, the Agility-based heroes are usually the carries, which can do a lot of physical damage, especially later on the game. Unfortunately, most of the agi heroes ( not all of them) are pretty weak early on, which makes them very vulnerable and susceptible to death. In other words, we don't recommend you to play carries in the beginning because you will just feed.

Lastly, we have the Intelligence heroes who are mostly supports and mid-laners, even though there are a lot of exceptions here. If you like doing a lot of magical damage, the Int heroes are the ones for you. In fact, some of the most "noob-friendly" heroes in Dota 2 have this as their primary stat, so feel free to give them a try.


You will see a small icon on the bottom left corner (or right, depending on the choice of your setting). This thing is called a minimap, and it shows the three lanes Dota 2 - Off Lane, Mid, and Safe lane. It is important to remember that, unlike League of Legends, there is no "strict" laning prosses here. On paper, the carry heroes should go to the safe lane (because it's safer for them), mid heroes go mid, and the offlane heroes go to the off lane. However, this order changes all the time because certain heroes are very strong or weak against individual matchups. That's why you can often see the carry hero being on the offlane and vice versa.

Each lane has its own advantages and disadvantages, but what sets them apart is the number of heroes on them. In 99% of the cases, you will only find one hero staying mid and two on the safe lane and offlane. Of course, this can change, but that's the general rule.


The item system in Dota 2 is very complicated, but after patch 7.23 came out, things became hectic. There are around 120+ items, ranging from 50 gold, all the way to 5000+. The vast majority of them provide a different bonus to the stats (str, agi, and intel) and/or an active or passive bonus. For example, if you by the Scythe of Vyse, you will get intelligence, strength, agility, mana regeneration, and an active spell that turns your enemy into a frog for 3.5 seconds.

Some items are mainly made for supports, whereas others work better on carries. Nevertheless, there is no strict differentiation between them, which means that you can often see carry players with support items, and so on. That's why we said in the beginning that Dota 2 is a very complex game, and you will need a  lot of time to get used to it.

Lastly, every single hero can have up to 10 items on him plus an additional slot for a teleport scroll. However, only six out of those ten items can be actively used. The others are placed in the backpack and can be switched. Of course, when you do switch them around, there will be a 5 second inactive period where you won't be able to use either of them. In the words, you need to be very careful when you're switching them because you might be without your most durable item just when you need it the most.


Once you start your very first Dota 2 game and pick your hero, you will notice that there are a couple of "monsters" that automatically move towards the enemy base. They are called creeps, and they have one primary function - to provide gold. Every single creep that you manage to kill will give you with a different amount of gold, which you need in order to purchase items. Besides, the creeps will also provide you with experience which is necessary in order to level up. However, keep it in mind that in order to get the gold from the creep, you are the one who has to kill it. If another creep or your enemy denies it, you won't get any gold for it. 

There are two prominent types of creeps in Dota 2 - the "regular" ones and the "neutral" ones. The first type spawns once every 30 seconds, and it contains one range and three melee creeps (at least in the beginning). On the other hand, Neutral creeps are many different kinds, and they are spread throughout the jungle. Nearly all of them have unique abilities that can be used if you get a hold of the creep using different items. 

Prior to patch 7.23, Neutral creeps were just another source of gold and exp, similar to the regular creeps. However, the new patch introduced individual items that can be obtained only from the Neutrals, which made them a lot more appealing to "farm." Of course, the drop chance is just 10% (in most cases), but considering the bonuses that you get, taking time to farm the jungle camps is definitely more rewarding now. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that you should only focus on them and leave everything else behind.  Always try to take maximum advantage of the situation, which in most cases means that you can farm the regular creep wave, as well as the neutral camps that are nearby.

Lastly, there is one "special" type of Neutral creeps called Ancients. Each side (Dire and Radiant) has one Ancient camp that consists of three powerful creeps. In most cases, you won't be able to take them down early on unless your team decides to kill them together. These creeps provide significantly more gold in comparison to the others, which makes them very appealing later on in the game.


The Radiant and the Dire have five towers at their disposal, and they are divided into four tiers - 1,2,3 and 4. Apart from their distinct job, which is to prevent the enemies from killing the throne, they also have other huge befits. For instance, each tower provides a lot of vision (including the ability to see invisible units, a.k.a real sight), and they can also be used as a place to teleport to. Even though the last part might not seem that important, it can make a night and day difference later on, especially when every single death might lead to a loss.

As you've probably guessed, each tower tier is stronger in comparison to the previous one. That said, you shouldn't rely on them to keep you save, especially after the first ten minutes of the game. There are many situations where the enemy team will just "dive" you behind the tower in an attempt to kill you.


The first encounter with this giant beast is always terrifying, especially if you're new to Dota 2. Roshan players a very important part of the game because he provides one of the most reliable items later in the game - the Aegis of Immortality. As the name suggests, this item basically provides the hero that holds it with one extra life. In other words, if that hero dies, he will respawn in five seconds in the same spot where he dies. 

Roshan spawns at the beginning of the game and ten minutes after he gets killed. After he dies for the first time, every single death onwards will grant another item in addition to the Aegis - Cheese. It is a powerful tool that will provide its holder with mana and health. Finally, Roshan will also drop either an Aghanim's Scepter or a Refresher Orb after his third death.

The Aegis can make all the difference in the world, which is why the Rosh pit (the place where Roshan stays) is often an arena of epic battles. 

Dota 2 - from beginner to pro

No matter what people say, there is no better way to become good at the game than just playing as much as possible. The vast majority of pro players have spent over 15,000 hours of in-game in order to be where they are today. Dota 2 is not a game that can be learned by reading about it or watching someone else play it. 

Nevertheless, watching better players than you is always a good thing because you will see a lot of new things that you didn't know before. Unlike before, there are a lot of very skilled Dota 2 Twitch streamers nowadays that offer great content. Of course, let's also not forget about the various tournaments that feature the best teams in the world. Once you find something new, go in-game and try to implement it in order to take full advantage. 

There are different leagues and smaller tournaments, which can also help you become a better player. That said, before you start looking for one, make sure to spam as many ranked games as possible in order to learn the game. Once you know everything about the heroes, items, and different combinations, feel free to search for a new challenge. 

Thank you for reading our Dota 2new player guide! Hopefully, we managed to help some of you get interested in this awesome game.


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