So unlike League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth wasn't just designed to feel like DotA, but to actually be DotA. From Heroes, to items, right down to the default map, it is very much a DotA
clone... and S2 was really OK with this. So if you're looking for a gameplay difference, then they're few and far between.
- There are 22 "new" Heroes, many of whom share only an ability or two with DotA heroes
- The map is smaller/faster, depending on your perspective, the map is either smaller or things move faster
- Players can rejoin games they disconnect from, if you've ever played DotA you know why this is gameplay related
- 8 Unique Items
- Some orb effects stack
- Move modifiers stack via multiplication
- Players can forfeit during a game
- All abilities are bound to qwer
- The HUD is constantly focus on your Hero with the option to examine other Heroes
- Shops can be used at all times via the b and are sorted for easier use
- You can even buy parts of a recipe from that recipe
I admit this list is a little strapped for items, but when you design a game to be the same... don't be surprised when its the same.
On the other hand, if you're willing to look outside of gameplay, the major advancement HoN has over DotA is a ranking system and matchmaking. For those people who didn't resort to third part products, you are probably familiar with how frustrating finding the game type you want is with DotA or finding people with equal skill to play with. HoN solved both of these problems exceptionally, using an Elo system to rate and allowing the searching of games types and restricting certain games by rating.
Finally, HoN allowed for the creation of new maps to aid in different game play style (one bizarre example is a map that has everything cleared out of it, and only 1 lane).