A New Approach to Helping Players Learn Dota

Tomorrow marks the launch of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood on Netflix. With the surrounding excitement, it’s a good time to introduce a comprehensive update to the new player experience to help guide any potential newcomers as they join up to play.

As the community knows, depth and discovery are hallmarks of Dota. They're why we play. However, that depth also brings a vast number of new things to process and absorb, and the first steps of Dota discovery sometimes feel overwhelming. It's true that the highs of Dota are surprising and joyous, but for new players it's often difficult to sift through all the information and find clear paths to positive results. Today's update aims to help with that.

Because the roads to victory in Dota are many, there are tons of different ways to learn and play. Some players benefit from learning the ropes with friends from the start, while others love to absorb as much information on their own before joining the multiplayer fray. Overall, different players have different needs, and we've found that linear tutorials alone aren't effective at helping people learn the game. Instead, we think a mixture of diverse tools and resources have the greatest potential at helping new players learn based on their specific needs.

With this approach, we can offer a system of steady engagement that provides gradual learning opportunities rather than relying on a single dump of complex information. This includes a variety of changes to help both new players and returning players alike. It's a lot to unpack, so let's dive in below.


No matter how long they spend in a tutorial, browsing all the choices in the shop is one of the most daunting aspects of Dota for a new player. So we decided to not make them do that. Instead, new players will now see a streamlined version of the shop that limits the complexity of choices presented and helps avoid information overload.

The shop will display a guided experience on exactly what to build, and once a player builds each item shown, it will unveil new choices, guiding them step-by-step along the way. With a curated shop telling new players exactly what to buy, they can focus on impacting the game with their hero instead of losing time shopping.

This update also includes new default guides for all heroes, with an eye specifically towards helping new players more easily execute an effective game plan for the hero they want to play.

Players can opt to use the normal shop whenever they feel comfortable with choosing items, but until then, they can trust that the items shown are the most appropriate for a new player to execute, and spend time focused on mastering other elements of play.


Everyone learns at their own pace, and the tools at a new player’s disposal need to have the flexibility to match their individual needs. Players benefit from a variety of options and will learn the game more effectively in the long run if they can choose and focus on the areas they want to improve.

To provide a resource for them to lean on whenever they feel the need, we've implemented a new quest-like system of objectives that let players explore aspects of the game in a controlled, scripted environment. Featuring four tiers of progression, it contains a mixture of tutorial-like scenarios for specific elements of the game, how-tos on features of the client, and different tasks to help you learn the ins-and-outs.

Some objectives focus on a concept like warding, teleporting, or courier control. Others touch on teamfights, lockdown, or initiation. And some introduce you to things like Demo Hero, playing with friends, or spectating. The first one is a crash course video on the basics of Dota, and you can choose where you want to go from there.

We've also been encouraged by the community's own efforts and progress in this area and will be including a section in the objectives for the new community tutorial spearheaded by SirActionSlacks. If we see other similar activity in this space from the community, we'll look into adding it in the future as well.


Nothing pairs better with accomplishment than reward, so to go along with the new player objectives, we’ve compiled a rewards line that players will earn as they complete tasks in each of the four tiers. If they stick with their studies, they'll be kitted out and looking good for the lanes in no time.


Dota features a ton of mechanics and details that are impossible to impart or absorb all at once. The good news is that you don't need to learn everything right away, because your Dota knowledge will grow as you play. With the help of the new Glossary and aforementioned player objectives, you'll always have a resource available to help fill any gaps that open along the way.

Filled with information about the game, the Glossary breaks down different aspects of Dota into digestible chunks. You can learn about the basics of heroes and items or towers and creeps, or dig into mechanics ranging from leveling and experience to abilities and status effects.

There are also sections covering all the units and items in the game, important features of the battlefield, a crash course on Dota-specific teamwork, and a rundown of some more advanced topics. There's a lot to take in, but you can go at your own pace.



It's helpful to limit the amount of information a player has to absorb while first learning a game. In a normal game of Dota that's a difficult task. So we've created a New Player Mode based on the concept of our old Limited Mode, featuring a small and stable hero pool that will let players learn the basics without encountering new heroes and abilities in each game.

To give new players flexibility while they learn, this mode will allow them to leave a match at any time without penalty. We want new players to feel safe sampling different heroes or trying to learn a few things in free moments even when pressed for time. To support this, if a player in New Player Mode does leave the game, a bot will immediately take their place.

To keep an even field, solo-queue new players will always play with and against other solo new players when queuing in this mode. They won't meet any parties or Dota veterans. Because fast matchmaking time is very important to new players, we've implemented a max queue time for New Player Mode to ensure a quick start while protecting the player pool — meaning the match will begin even without a full lobby, using bots to fill any empty spots.

We do recognize that some players will want to play with friends before they're ready for normal matchmaking, so if you queue in this mode with a party, you'll instantly be placed into a match with bots. This will allow new users to play with friends of all skill levels while still ensuring a safe and controlled environment for others to learn without the presence of a veteran player dominating the game.

Bots in this mode utilize a more forgiving behavior, and rules for the match are based upon the Turbo Mode modifications, which should provide space for players to get an understanding of the basics while encountering fewer sharp curves along the way.


The ability to play Dota in a stress-free environment on your own schedule — and more importantly, at your own pace — is one of the best ways to overcome early barriers in learning the game. Bot games are ideal for this, offering a stable platform on which to build game knowledge and apply the things you're learning.

To make sure Dota's bots are up to the task, we've implemented various improvements to the default set. We've updated these bots to support gameplay changes like outposts, neutral items, and new abilities; improved their behavior for things like laning, farming, rune pickup, ability use, and item use; rebalanced their strategy; added a new bot difficulty level custom-built for players learning the game; and — with a tear shed for a decade of nostalgia — given the bots some fresh names.

The default bots are tuned with newer players in mind, so players will encounter them in solo games as they start learning and continue on their way. Needs change with experience, however, and we've found community bots to be a more appropriate fit for players on steady footing. Once someone feels comfortable queuing for co-op mode, they'll face off against the top-rated community bots to ensure their Dota curriculum evolves in line with their skill level.


Some players famously love to play against bots, but many are eager to jump into live matches against human players for the true Dota experience. To help those who feel ready to match into real opponents, we've crafted a volume of helpful suggestions to guide them through common pain points faced by the uninitiated.

Whenever the game detects a new player doing something in a match that may not be wise, a helpful wizard will appear to impart some timely life-saving advice. So when someone spends too long hovering at low health, goes for a stroll under an enemy tower, or thinks they can 1v1 Roshan right out of the gate, the wizard will be there to help steer them back to safety.

Ready to inform and warn players about things like tower damage, crossing the river, ability counters, backdoor protection, vision, wards, dust, and loads more, the wizard’s advice will offer reliable support as people transition into real matches and expand the skills they learned in their games against bots.


To help newcomers dip their toes into the resources offered by the Dota community, we've added a dedicated chat channel for new players that can be accessed upon completion of the first set of new player tasks. To foster a welcome environment, the channel admins consist of trusted community leaders from around the world who will help us select moderators.

We'll extend access to the channel to experienced players with high behavior scores to help answer any questions newcomers have and encourage their progress in the community.

Moderators will be tasked with making sure experienced players in this channel are helpful and well behaved. Experienced players will only have access to this channel with a high behavior score and long history with many games played. Bans from this chat are final, so keep it friendly.



The best way to learn is to play, but sometimes you're in the middle of a game when you realize you need help. As part of the wider set of tools in this update, we're introducing new ways for players to request that help — and for experienced players to offer it — with a flexible coaching system that can be called on even in the middle of a match.

Players that need help can now request a coach to join them either in-game or from the dashboard. On the flipside, experienced players can see a list of folks seeking coaching and choose to help those in need. Coaches are limited to interacting with specific players, so coaches can text chat, voice chat, ping, and draw for students all without disturbing others in the game. Coaches who feel particularly skilled with a specific hero can filter the lists of potential students to find players who are learning that hero.

Just like friend coaching, these coaching sessions are private, and they can be as short or as long as both sides want. Once complete, both the coach and players rate the session. Coaches will gain and lose rating based on how their players rated them, and both players and coaches may lose the ability to interact with the system if they get too many bad ratings.



Not sure who any of those 100+ hero pictures in the roster even are? Much less what they do or what the ramifications of choosing them might be? Fear not. Each hero now has a focused overview breaking down core aspects of how they play — and you can browse these rundowns at your leisure by checking the bottom-left of each hero’s loadout page.

These easy-to-parse descriptions will come in handy when you’re pressed for time, so we’ve also included them on the bottom of the hero info pane during the pick phase. You can also see examples of similar heroes here to help find other fun choices based on what you like to play. This should help you build out an understanding of the strengths and roles of different heroes, naturally expanding your hero pool as your experience grows.


The Dota dashboard is filled with useful tools and information for the trained eye, but it's a lot to process for a newcomer launching the game for the first time. So it's important to help familiarize them with the core elements without raising any barriers to play.

When the client detects a new player, they'll be shown a slightly-tailored version of the menu, with different default tabs and contextual tips intended to help navigate everything on display. This should help guide them to the tools they need to hero-up and get out into the lanes.


Dota Plus is filled with great tools that enhance the daily Dota experience. To help new players better acclimate to the game, they'll now receive two free months of Dota Plus when they start playing, giving them access to Plus Assistant, Hero Progress, Chat Wheel shenanigans, and all the rest.


Even the most fairly-matched games of Dota can spiral out of control. And no one wants the extra burden of playing against smurfs. In the past, we leaned heavily on attempting to detect smurf accounts and move them to their correct MMR more quickly, which has helped somewhat but still causes damage along the way in cases of extreme smurfing.

Starting today, smurfing will be a bannable offense. We will primarily focus on new accounts created after today for which we have high confidence in their smurfing and game-ruining behavior. Moreover, we will also occasionally manually ban old pre-existing accounts that are clearly game-ruining. Furthermore, if you are found to be selling accounts, boosting or engaged in similar game ruining behaviors, your primary account may also be subject to a ban. To go along with this, we've recently increased our ban rate for boosters and purchased accounts.

For cases where we don’t have extremely high confidence, but do have cause for smurf suspicion, those accounts are more likely to play with other suspected smurfs until we gain confidence to judge one way or the other.

If you do suspect someone of smurfing in your game, use the new post-game report option included in this update to flag them. This will help us track legit offenders and gather data used to inform our anti-smurf efforts moving forward.


With Dota's constant evolution, you don't have to be new to feel new. Sometimes players have to step away from the game for months or even years, and there will be a bunch of new things to catch up on that require an adaptation period upon return.

To help, when you return to Dota after not playing for a while, your account will be placed into a special new calibration mode that takes into account how long you've been gone when analyzing your games. It will be more sensitive to monitoring how your skill compares to when you last played, placing you into good games so you can have fun catching up on everything that changed while you were away. Because past accomplishments shouldn't feel like a punishment to returning players — or worse, a barrier to returning at all.


The Dota 2 website is happy to announce that it's finally leaving beta!

With today's update, we've begun our revamp of the site. This includes a rework of the Heropedia and the blog to better steer players towards the info they want. The hero pages have been redesigned to present a clearer understanding of a hero's playstyle and mechanics at a quick glance, while offering more comprehensive information for those who dive beneath the surface. Featuring new videos for all the hero abilities, the updated layout makes it easier than ever to gain a fast understanding of how a hero looks and functions in a game.


This update covers a wide array of tools all focused on a specific task — to make playing Dota more approachable to new and returning players. We hope everyone will find these tools useful in both the short and long term. We expect to be addressing bugs associated with this update and fine tuning in the coming days, and we look forward to hearing continued feedback on what we can improve to help you learn and have fun as you play.

Don’t forget to check out the premiere of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood on Netflix tomorrow. We’re excited to share in the journeys of Dragon Knight and Mirana as they explore this all-new vision of the Dota universe crafted for fans and newcomers alike.

After that, we’re aiming for the Friday following the Singapore Major as the day the next update ships. The 7.29 update will include the next hero as well as a balance-focused gameplay update.

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