Game talk

Buying Dota 2 skins and cosmetic items the right way

Who doesn’t like great sets, skins, and cosmetic items for their favorite heroes in Dota 2? Here’s the guide to making the best of it.

This guide is for purchasing cosmetic items and skins for Dota 2, and not purchasing inventory items during battles on your heroes.

So, you’re at that point of your Dota 2 journey when you think of all the possibilities that come with new items. Well, technically there’s no impact on the gameplay no matter what item you buy. However, the cosmetic effect is something players learn to appreciate once they’ve moved past the “beginner” stage.

When you purchase and equip an item, everyone will be able to see that item in the game. Music packs are a notable exception.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at everything that there is to purchasing Dota 2 items.

How to buy

Within the game, you can open the Store and sort items by various filters to get what you want. You must have enough money added to your Steam wallet. Also, on the Hero tab or the hero picking screen, you can see all the skins and taunts for that hero. That’s also a window to make a purchase.

In general, however, I’d recommend you buy from Steam directly. That way, you can bargain a little and save some money especially when you’re on a shopping spree. The Community Market is a place where people sell their own items, so you get those items at a lower price.

This is how you do that:

  1. Open the Steam client.
  2. Click on the Community tab and then choose Market.
  3. Here, you can find a list of games on the right-hand side. Choose Dota 2.
  4. Now you’ll find a list of all the items. Dota 2 has tons of them. It’s better if you have a specific set or item in mind. That way, you can directly type its name in the search box. You can also open Dota and find that set if you’ve forgotten the name.
  5. You can also click on “Show advanced options…” here too. Sorting can be done by Hero, Slot, Type, Quality, and Rarity.
  6. Now, once you’ve found your item, you can see its popularity and current price. You will also see buying requests at a lower price than the current price. Pay attention to that. Let’s say an item is valued at $105. You’ll see a section that goes something like this: “504 requests to buy at $99.58 or lower”. That’s the normal price people are bidding for the item. Click on “Place buy order…” next to this section.
  7. Here, you can add your own price (or bid, technically). Let’s make it 99.99. Now, agree to the Steam Subscriber Agreement and click on Place Order.

This process is not instant. But as long as you maintain your price slightly higher than the average bid, you’ll get the item in the next few hours. On my shopping sprees, I usually save 20-30% through this method while still getting the same items delivered to my game.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get an item even if you place your order at a much lower bid (let’s say $85 for the above example). But if not, you can always open Market and see your pending bids. You can cancel and then re-bid.

Types of items

My Juggernaut has multiple Immortal-rarity items among some 5-6 other rarities, and as a result, has effects in all four core abilities. Funny thing, all of these items are free drops.

You can buy a number of different items in Dota 2.

  • The most popular choice is hero customization. Hero skins are either standalone cosmetics or entire bundles that greatly change the look of the character.
  • Global items like wards and couriers are pretty popular among support and utility players.
  • You can purchase emote sets that either work in the ally chat or the global chat. They add a touch of much-needed entertainment to the chat. The same goes for chat wheel messages. Many chat wheel messages are voice lines along with the usual text. For example, there was a moment in TI9 when caster Owen “ODPixel” Davies could say nothing but cry a “Ceeeeeeeeeeeb” (the OG player Sebastien “Ceb” Debs made a two-man Call with Axe that changed the game’s fate). That’s quickly become a popular chat wheel expression that many bought and used almost every game.
  • You can purchase Taunts for specific heroes. When you play that hero, you can initiate the taunt for everyone to see. It could simply be a dance move by Leshrac or a bombardment of ammunition by Sniper.
  • Many items are shared among players. When the match begins, you can open the scoreboard (~ key by default) and in the bottom right corner of the window that slides into view, choose “Shared Content”. These are essentially user interface items purchased by others that you can use too. They include HUD skins and Announcers. HUD skins are what you’d expect: they change the layout and design of the HUD. And Announcers are special voice lines that replace the default likes such as “Your top tower is under attack” or “The Radiant’s courier has died.” Some Announcer voice lines are really funny while some extremely grave. Most Announcers are hero-based, meaning the lines are spoken in the voice of a hero.
  • There are some items that only you see and use. They include cursor packs, loading screens, music, and terrain. All these items are pretty self-explanatory.
  • There are other items in the game too, like Emblems, Emoticon Tools, Gems and Runes, Heroic Effigies, Leagues, Pennants, Recipes, Player Cards, Retired Chests, Tools, Treasures, Treasure Keys, etc. Not all of these items are purchased and talking about these will take a while so we’ll skip that for now. They are not very integral to the gameplay. But there’s one thing you need to know about: Treasures. Treasures are essentially collections of hero skins and other miscellaneous items. Each treasure that you purchase has a chance to include one of the items from the collection.

Are all items equal?

No, they’re not.

Items are classified based on rarity. There are seven levels of rarity:

  1. Common
  2. Uncommon
  3. Rare
  4. Mythical
  5. Legendary
  6. Immortal
  7. Arcana

There is only one Arcana-level item for a hero. Currently, only 20 heroes have Arcanas.

drow ranger dota 2
Drow Ranger’s Arcana is the latest Arcana in Dota 2. With the next TI soon to happen we’ll be getting another.

Let’s have a look at Pudge and an item from each rarity level.

  1. The Gladiator’s Revenge Armor is a nice addition to your default Pudge. This is a Common rarity item.
  2. The Champion of Nurgle bundle amplifies the image of Pudge. The grossly-cut belly is the cherry on the top. This is an Uncommon item.
  3. The Iron Hog set is admittedly more elaborate and fancier. It’s a Rare class item.
  4. Surgical Precision. Enough said. This is Mythical.
  5. Chains of the Black Death transform Pudge into a truly menacing presence on the battlefield. It’s a Legendary item.
  6. The Golden Scavenging Guttleslug, like other Immortal Guttleslug items, is a true feast for the eyes whether you’re in action or just idle.
  7. Feast of Abscession is the Pudge Arcana. It’s loaded with characteristic animations and detailed cosmetic effects.

More about getting items in Dota 2

You also have a chance to get items as drops after each game. However, these items are generally Common or Uncommon. It’s my experience that during your first few months of Dota 2 gameplay, you’re very likely to get at least one Rare bundle which will be a full set of a hero. The more you play, the more your chances. I’ve received some really amazing Rare and Mythical sets as drops, but I’ve also been playing for thousands of hours so that sort of justifies it.

Usually, Common and Uncommon items cost very less.

You can also get drops or buy items based on slots. Each hero has multiple slots where items go. These slots are Armor, Arms, Back, Belt, Body head, Gloves, Head, Legs, Mount, Neck, Offhand weapon, Shoulder, and Weapon. There’s also a Misc slot.

In drops or purchases, you can get any slot’s item. It can be a part of a set.

Now, not all heroes have all slots. For example, Invoker has no “Weapon” slot simply because he doesn’t wield a weapon. Chaos Knight has a weapon slot and also a “Mount” slot. Most heroes don’t have a mount (something they ride on).

A full set includes items for all (or most of the) slots. Let’s see an example.

templar assassin dota 2
Templar Assassin’s Concealed Raven set.

This is my Concealed Raven set for Templar Assassin. It includes Armor, Shoulder, and Head. Templar Assassin has one more slot: Weapon, which is not included in this set. This set also comes with a loading screen (in the background).

If you have a full set, you can click on the little down-arrow under “Default Set” when you open a hero’s page and choose the set. If you have multiple sets or slot items from different sets, you can make your own unique hero.

Let’s say you have two Head slot items for your hero. You can pick any one of those. And then you have some Shoulder slots. You’re free to pick any. So, it’s possible to have a Head from Set X and a Shoulder from Set Y, and so on.

The Shard Shop also has some good sets, for example the Silver Fox (Sniper):

Sniper’s The Silver Fox set, purchasable with Shards and not real money.

Some sets are event-specific, such as those you can unlock in Cavern Crawl.

Slardar’s Cavern Crawl-specific items.

Special effects

Many hero sets come with special effects. With Pudge’s arcana, he puts one of his tentacular hooks on the ground from time to time, leaving a blood-red mark on the group for a while. In Phantom Assassin’s arcana, wherever she kills a hero there’s a dagger dropped for the entire duration of the game.

Sets or items can also have particle effects. One of my favorite heroes is Chaos Knight and I love the item Chaos Fulcrum. Basically, it’s his shield personified into reflecting his power to penetrate alternate dimensions. It warps space and takes in smoke that never ends.

Chaos Knight equipped with Chaos Fulcrum (Immortal shield) and Chaos Arbiter (Immortal weapon).

Items can also provide special effects to heroes themselves. The item I mentioned above changes the second skill of Chaos Knight, Reality Rift. When you cast Reality Rift with Chaos Fulcrum equipped on your Chaos Knight, you will see that the visual appearance is completely different.

These are Immortal rarity items. All Immortal items change an ability’s effect. Items (including Fulcrum) that change an ability’s visual appearance also come with a unique ability icon.

Latest posts by Santiago Vargas (see all)

By Santiago Vargas

Santiago is a humble gamer from Peru who brings in the much needed breathing space amid all the hardware talk here at Spearblade. We liked his blog so much that we had to onboard him. You'll find Santiago publishing game-related articles.

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