Dota 2. © Blizzard Entertainment

Few games were as highly anticipated as Dota 2, the free to play multiplayer online battle arena published and developed by Valve. The original title was so successful, that people kept playing it for more than a decade despite the aging graphics. Valve released the game exclusively for desktop and laptop computers, with no version for consoles yet available.

The game has emerged as one of the most played on Steam with as many as 1 million people online at the same time. Two teams of five players each square off in a virtual arena and their goal is to destroy the Ancient building of their opponents. They get to choose between more than 100 characters, each with unique abilities and traits and purchase just as many combinable items.

Key facts about Dota 2

  • Dota 2 has more than 100 heroes, ranging from characters featuring in the original title and new ones introduced by Valve developers.
  • The game is generally regarded as the most difficult free to play multiplayer online battle arena title and more complex than League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm.
  • Dota 2 is hugely varied and it has a steep learning curve, with players supposed to learn the abilities of dozens of Dota heroes.
  • The second installment brings few changes to the gameplay and instead tries to improve the popular concepts while retaining the essence of Dota.
  • Dota 2 is the only free to play multiplayer online battle arena game where players compete on a single map.
Epic Dota 2 mid-lane fight. © Blizzard Entertainment
Epic Dota 2 mid-lane fight. © Blizzard Entertainment

The Dota 2 games

Dota 2 has a single map, therefore the games unfold in a similar manner, but due to the complexity of the game and the huge diversity of heroes and items, no two games are the same. The map has three lines were heroes fight each other while killing minions, but the jungle is riddled with tangling paths. Players can acquire items and elixirs only from their main camp, but also across the map from additional shops.

The high number of Dota 2 heroes makes it possible for players to assume different roles each game, to avoid monotony. While the Dota 2 games follow the same pattern, players need to perform different actions, depending on what type of hero they choose. Playing as the support, tank or damage dealer can be extremely challenging for those who are used with a single class. Even heroes belonging to the same class are difficult to master and they tend to work better in certain combinations.

Runes and special abilities add a new layer of complexity to Dota 2 games and players are allowed multiple combinations. A good pregame strategy goes a long way, but the tactics need to change as the game progresses, based on how opponents react. Participants need to divide their forces, push different lanes and also kill neutral creeps, to receive rewards and buffs. Dota 2 is the kind of game that allows players to claw their way back into the race but mistakes committed later on can be fatal.

What is Dota 2?

Dota 2 was expected to continue the legacy of the game based on the Warcraft 3 mode, but development only started a decade later. IceFrog was the one in charge with a new product, as he was the lead designer for the original title and Valve trusted him to come up with a worthy successor. The learning curve is every bit as steep in the second installment as in Dota 1, making it difficult for newcomers to close the gap separating them from veterans.

Since it was officially released in 2015 for the new Source 2 engine, players reported that the game runs smoothly and heroes are more responsive in late game. The widespread professional scene of the game led to the creation of numerous tournaments, including international events with prizes totaling millions of dollars. Valve is the main sponsor of seasonal tournaments that go by the name of Majors.

Gameplay of Dota 2

Dota 2 follows the same guiding principles of multiplayer online battle arena games, commonly referred to as MOBA. The 3D graphics offer a unique perspective of the battlefield and players can change it during the game. 111 Dota 2 characters are at their disposal and regardless of their choice, players always start with a level I hero. As they kill opponents, creeps and accumulate experience points during combat, the heroes level up until they hit the maximum level.

Screenshot of Dota 2. © Blizzard Entertainment
Screenshot of Dota 2. © Blizzard Entertainment

The method of combat depends on the primary attribute, with heroes being divided into categories based on strength, intelligence and agility. The decision of choosing one hero or the other is based on their strengths, but also the role they perform. Tanks are the ones that soak all the damage, while agility and the ability power damage dealers single out the weak opponents and eliminate them. Perfect planning is essential prior to a large-scale fine, especially late in the game when the stakes can turn deadly.

Win games one creep at a time

Creeps are spawn periodically from both bases and they advance towards the opposing corner of the map, but they are generally easy to be dealt with by heroes. Each base is fortified by walls and towers, while barracks are the ones responsible for spawning increasingly strong creeps. All over the map, there are units that both teams can kill for gold and buffs, with the ultimate one going by the name of Roshan.

Gold is the main currency in Dota 2 games and players earn it whenever they strike a killing blow on a creek or defeat the hero. When an opposing hero dies, all the characters around the area will receive experience points and gold, although less than the one striking the decisive blow. At the highest level, as well as in games played among savvy players, the practice of denying gold and experience is quite popular. Players do this by killing their own structures or creeps, when they got only a few hit points left.

Plot of Dota 2

Dota 2 was never intended to have a single player campaign, but simply continue the string of endless wars played on the official map. The 111 Dota characters have their own saga and a short description that sheds some light about their purpose and story. On the other hand, there is no pack of missions centered on any of these heroes and basically no plot. Dota 2 players can compete in single player games, but only against the artificial intelligence, to get familiar with the abilities of all heroes.

Development of Dota 2

Developers started working on Dota back in 2003 and it was initially intended as a mod for Warcraft 3 developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The popularity of the original was so great that it inspired several developers to work on a fully fledged game, culminating with the release of DotA: Allstars in 2005. For almost a decade millions of fans played this game, made it one of the most prominent eSport titles from 2008 onward. Valve picked up on the vibes and in 2009 recruited the top developers for a new project.

Development on Dota 2 started a couple of months later and it was officially unveiled at the end of 2010 and the update at the Gamescom 2011. Valve decided to stick to the Dota name due to its huge popularity, which brought them in conflict with Blizzard Entertainment who claimed ownership of the brand. The dispute was settled in Valve’s favor in 2012 and they have been using the brand ever since.

Where can I download Dota 2?

Valve sells all its games on Steam, so it was only natural for Dota 2 to also available for download here as well as on the official website. The game is free to play, which is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success, given that all multiplayer online battle arena titles can be played for free. So far, there is only one official map available, but developers are contemplating the possibility of creating a new one, which is also expected to be available on Steam.

What are others saying about Dota 2?

Dota set the bar so high that the sequel had huge boost to feel, but much to its credit Dota 2 met and even exceeded the optimistic expectations. The critics were thrilled with the new game and the vast majority of veteran players also gave Dota 2 the thumbs-up. Millions of players are enjoying the game on Steam and they don’t seem to be bothered by the fact that it has a steeper learning curve than other MOBAs.

Dota 2 tournaments

Dota 2 tournaments generate more interest and enthusiasm that virtually any other eSports competitions, while also having the biggest prizes. There are dozens of qualifiers for the major events and only the best teams in the world get to play in the international competitions. The Finals are broadcasted live and many of the players competing in Valve-sponsored tournaments showcase their performance online. At the time of writing, Dota 2 has more tournaments that any other game with a combined prize pool of $30 million.

My rating of Dota 2

I grew up playing Dota and the original game was the one that made me fall in love with the multiplayer online battle arena genre. It took me a while to learn all the abilities and skills of dozens of heroes, but I don’t regret spending all that time playing such a competitive game. I had insanely high expectations from Dota 2 and I’m happy to say that the developers met them all and some. A well deserved 9.5/10.

Overall Score