The arrival of the First Blood update last year meant, among other features, the introduction of local play for Dota 2. Players since then have the ability to host and join matches within their local network. This guide will teach you how to participate in a Dota 2 LAN party yourself.
Important note: At its current state as implemented by Valve, the Dota 2 local play option still requires an Internet connection. But it’s only needed to log in to your Steam account and authenticate the game with the official server.The LAN match itself, however, is hosted by a computer which nine other players within the same local network can connect to. And so at the moment, there’s no true offline Dota 2 LAN gaming. When Steam is in offline mode, Dota 2 has many of its UI elements severely disabled, with only offline single play with bots the only game mode available.
How to Host a Dota 2 LAN game
If you want to host a local game, simply launch the game and:
- Go to the Play tab (found at the top of the game interface).
- Go to the Create Lobby tab under Private Games.
- Click the Create Local Lobby button (under Create Lobby).
- Click Create to confirm.
- Once the settings is set and all players have joined and taken a slot, click Start Game to begin the game.
As the confirmation box will tell you, the host is recommended to have a powerful machine in order to run the game smoothly while accommodating nine other players (plus up to 32 spectators). Whoever among all local players have the best hardware specs (CPU, video card, and RAM being the most important) should be the host. Better yet, a broadcaster/spectator should host the game.
Dota 2 LAN game settings
Once created, the host has a variety of settings he can make use of to further configure his local lobby.
Available Game Modes for Dota 2 LAN:
- All Pick – Players get to pick a hero they want to play; any chosen hero can no longer be picked by another player. Re-picks and random picks are available.
- Captains Mode – One player per team volunteers to become the captain, who gets to pick the heroes for his team as well ban/remove heroes from the pool/selection.
- Single Draft – Players are given three hero selection, each of which having a unique main attribute (Strength, Agility, Intelligence). No random picks and swapping are allowed.
- All Random – Players are given a random hero to play with. They can choose to re-pick another hero, but it’s still randomized.
- Random Draft – Players take turns in choosing a hero from a pool of 24 randomized heroes.
- Reverse Captains Mode – Available in LAN play only, the captain of the opposite team chooses the heroes for the other team.
- Mid Only – Available in LAN play only, creeps only appear in the middle lane. Players may choose the same heroes already picked by other players.
- Least Played – It’s similar to All Pick rules, although your hero selection is without your 40 most played heroes.
- Captains Draft – With a random pool of 27 heroes (9 per attribute), volunteer captains first bans 3 heroes of their choosing and proceeds to selecting heroes for their team.
- Ability Draft – Players are given a random hero, but they need to take turns in choosing the abilities (3 normal and 1 ultimate) from the pool.
A password is recommended when you host a lobby in a network that you’re not in total control. For instance, you can prevent strangers in a café network from joining your game and let your friends take up a slot without any hassle.
Advanced Competitive settings
- Starting Team – Lets you choose which team gets to be the first to pick/ban in Captains Mode or Captains Draft.
- Penalty – Lets you reduce the bonus time given for the Radiant and/or Dire team in Captain’s Mode. The less bonus time available, the faster the picking phase ends.
- Series Type – Lets you set the match as part of a series. For instance, the best of 5 option has the teams play up to a maximum of five matches, with the team earning most wins declared the victor. Teams alternate between Radiant and Dire, as well as take turns in choosing picks/bans, in a series match.
Advanced Gameplay Rules
- Enable cheats – Toggling this setting permits cheats in the game. It’s not recommended for competitive matches. It’s best for fun games instead.
- Fill empty slots with bots – When enabled, every slot not occupied by a player is automatically used by an AI-controlled hero.
- All Chat – When enabled, every player can hear other players’ voice chats regardless of their team.
- Bot Difficulty – Specifies how smart the AI players or bots are. From the dumbest to most sophisticated, the AI levels are Passive, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Unfair.
- Version – Specifies which version of the Dota 2 map will be used for the game. Tournament is usually the version that’s stable for tournament play, while Latest is the version that comes with the latest bug fixes, more hero selection, and features but not tested thoroughly for fair tournament matches.
How to Join a Dota 2 LAN game
To join a locally hosted game, simply launch the game and:
- Go to the Play tab (found at the top of the game interface).
- Go to the Find a Lobby tab under Private Games.
- Go to the Local Lobbies tab.
- Wait for the game to refresh the list of available lobbies.
- Click the Join button of a lobby you wish to enter. Type in the password if asked.
The lobby leader (aka host), along with other players who have already joined, is listed. That should make it easy to identify which lobby has your friends. Once you’re inside a lobby, you get to choose the following roles by taking up the appropriate slot:
- Team Coach
- Spectator (by remaining unassigned)
Where to Find the Replay for a Dota 2 LAN match
If you wish to share the full match replay, you can find it at the lobby host’s computer. Go to the Steam folder > SteamApps > common > dota 2 beta > dota > replays. The replay’s file name contains the match ID (which you can check in your player profile) and has the .dem file extension.
Non-hosting players can also save a replay file by entering the following command in the game console (click here to learn how to enable the console):
Local play / LAN mode advantages
- With a good, stable local network and a host with a powerful computer, the game should have very negligible delay. The latency should be close to 0 ms. Learn how to check your ping/latency here.
- You will be able to disconnect and reconnect to the game as you wish.
Local play / LAN mode disadvantages
- As mentioned above, Dota 2’s offline/LAN mode still requires the local network to have Internet access for Steam account logon and the game authentication.
- LAN games are the same as the private lobbies, which means players are not rewarded with battle points, wins on their matchmaking record, and possible item drops.
- There’s currently no support for Dota TV, which is the online form of spectating. This feature is reported to be added in the future.