Abilities are unique skills that Heroes have access to on the battlefield. They range from simple passive effects, to devastating explosions of energy, to complex, terrain changing feats. All Heroes have four abilities - three basic abilities and an ultimate ability, that they can assign ability points to every time they level up. Every level in an ability makes it more powerful, sometimes increasing its mana cost as well.
Abilities can consume mana, and may also be placed on cooldown when used. Abilities that are on cooldown can not be used until their cooldown timer is up, at which point they can be cast again. Abilities with low cooldowns are sometimes referred to as "spammable" abilities, because they can be used very frequently.
|Ability levels for most heroes|
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Every time a Hero levels up, they earn an ability point which they can use to upgrade any of their abilities or to learn a new ability. At the start of the game, Heroes know none of their abilities, but are given a free ability point to learn one. Abilities cannot be used and do not have any effect if they have not been learned. After an ability is learned, it can be upgraded several times. Basic abilities can be upgraded 3 more times, for a total of 4 levels, and a Hero's ultimate ability can be upgraded 2 times, for a total of 3 levels.
Upgrading abilities will make them more powerful or capable of doing more powerful things. Sometimes, upgrading abilities will also increase their mana cost.
Basic Abilities can be upgraded to a new level once every 2 or 3 levels. This means that a level 2 Hero cannot upgrade a learned ability to level 2. Ultimate abilities can only be upgraded every 4 levels, starting from level 5. These abilities are usually more powerful than a Hero's basic abilities.
A Hero's last ability, which can be trained at level 5, level 9, and level 13, is called an Ultimate.
Ultimates can be high-impact abilities that define a Hero's strengths and playstyle, they often have a devastating effect and a long cooldown. In some cases however, they are not the main strength, but just synergise very well when combined with the other abilities. Ultimate abilities can also be passive abilities.
Charge based abilities
Some abilities do not use the cooldown system, but instead have a number of charges and no cooldown. Each cast of such spell consumes one of its charges, which then replenishes over time.
An ability's type refers to how that ability's effects are applied.
Active abilities must be used in order to apply their effects. Active abilities can consume mana, have cooldowns, and usually have some method of targeting related to them. The majority of abilities are active abilities. They can be activated by pressing their associated hotkey.
Active abilities have a hotkey displayed at the bottom of the ability icon.
Passive abilities apply their effects either permanently as soon as they are learned, or activate by themselves if the ability is learned and its requirements met. Most passive abilities do not consume mana and usually don't have Cooldowns, exceptions include Greystone's Reforged.
Active abilities and autocast abilities are targeted in different ways, depending on the effects of the ability.
Abilities with the no target requirement are immediately cast as soon as its button is pressed. Many of these abilities do not have a cast time. They cannot directly target a unit or a point. They usually affect the caster, or units around the caster. They can affect an area around the caster, or have a global effect.
Toggle abilities are always non-targetable. These abilities apply a periodic effect and also commonly drain mana as long as they are toggled on. These effects can range from damaging or healing nearby allies, to switch between attack types. If the toggle ability drains mana over time, it turns itself off once not having mana to support it anymore. They cannot be forcibly turned off by anyone but the player by pressing their button again, or by dying. Like regular spells, they cannot be used (in this case, turned on or off) while affected disables which prevent ability usage. However, once they are toggled on, they persist through any form of disable, including silence.
Point target abilities require the caster to target a point or an area. Upon pressing such spell's button, the cursor turns into a crosshair with a beam pointing downwards that determines where the ability will be cast, or in which direction it will be cast. Point targeting abilities can have very varying effects. For some spells, it merely determines the direction to launch an effect, for other spells it determines an exact point where an effect will be applied.
Area target abilities work like point target abilities, with the only difference being that they require the caster to target a whole area, instead of a point. Upon pressing such spell's button, the cursor turns into a targeted area indicator which shows the area the ability will effect. Upon cast, these abilities usually affect the whole targeted area, or all units in the area. Some apply their effects once upon cast, some apply a lasting effect which affects units which enter the area after cast.
Unit target abilities require the caster to directly target a unit, and cannot be used on the ground. Most unit targeted abilities affect only the target.