There’s a certain mystery that surrounds Valve when it comes to Dota 2. There’s often little to no communication for a prolonged period of time, before out of nowhere they fundamentally switch up the game we all know and love. We supposedly knew that the Dueling Fates update would arrive on November 1 with two new heroes to boot. Nope: just a day after the conclusion of the ESL One Hamburg Major the patch notes emerged and just a day later the patch hit the public realms. And what a patch it is.
Professionals, coaches and talent alike all agreed that 7.06 left the game in a beautifully poised position, but change is mostly welcome considering the number of months played on the same patch. No one expected the magnitude of changes that would arrive in 7.07, but when it takes Kevin 'Purge' Godec over 10 hours to record his first impressions video, you know it’s big.
We had a look at some of the alterations we think will be the biggest factors in coming months.
1. Laning dynamics will change
We’ve seen the introduction of an extra creep to the mid-lane and a rework of creep experience that effectively meant the middle lane was extremely, extremely important. Dual-laning mid was often viable, with heroes like Lich arguably rising to the fore, due to their prominence in lane and outright ability to win a contest. The huge proportion of experience awarded for a ranged creep made it completely viable to use Hand of Midas on it over a large jungle creep, and should you have been able to deny the ranged creep, you'd fast accumulate a level advantage over your foe. The creep has now been removed, and the experience dynamics changed. There’s now nowhere near as much reason to dual or even tri-lane mid so, combined with other changes, we should see it revert into some good old-fashioned one-versus-one.
From 7.00 to 7.06 we’ve seen adjustments to shrines, leaving them inactive until five minutes and removing certain shrines from the base. Now, IceFrog has gone even further. Take a glance at the Dota 2 base now and there’s just a splattering of 'Filler Buildings' where shrines once lay. The Shrines left on the map have now been moved further away from the mid-lane, and further away from the Roshan pit. Now sat in the middle of each respective jungle, they’re arguably in significantly less convenient places for quick Town Portal Scrolls and counter-initiation. It’s less safe to farm ancients, yet harder to be inconveniently caught when pushing tier-two towers by a shrine behind you. Off-lane will likely revert to an extremely tricky role. With shrines more distant, less likelihood of a roamer sitting in the mid-lane and a nerf to jungling overall, putting extreme pressure on the enemy off-laner could reap considerable reward.
2. Skirmishes at the start of the game are going to be incredibly common
We’ve already mentioned that IceFrog decided to move the Shrines into a different location, well so too the Bounty Rune. In fact, in the case of the off-lane shrines and Bounty Runes, they’ve simply swapped places. Now there’s two sets of runes, just a short trip across the river away from each other. Should one team consider themselves to have a considerable early game advantage, there’s no reason that they won’t play aggressively and contest each and every rune. It’s genuinely plausible that a team could secure all four opening runes, which would give a considerable advantage before the game’s even got under way.
It should definitely make for some more exciting Dota 2. Equally, every two minutes there’s likely to be a big skirmish between supports and off-laners as to who can secure each rune. It almost seems an indirect buff to Alchemist with the short distance between them. Nobody really wants to see an Alch resurgence though, do they?
3. Reworked heroes left in Captain’s Mode could be intriguing
Normally when a hero is reworked substantially, it’s straight up removed from Captain’s Mode and professionals have no ability to pick it up. Heroes that received significant reworks include Wraith King, Viper, Beastmaster as well as Morphling. Wraith King can emerge from the jungle with an army of skeletons, while Viper's skill-set is barely recognisable from before. Morphling can turn into the enemy hero at level six and, should the player die during the ultimate, then they'll actually die. It’s a big change to a hero that has still received a moderate amount of love over recent patches.
Beastmaster’s stacking debuff Wild Axes, reworked Boar/Hawk and increased movement speed also marks a significant rework. With Boar and Hawk now maxed out, Beastmaster summons one of each, plus a random neutral (within a select few). It adds a different element to the hero and, when combined with his 25 talent of a further two hawks, he could be very strong. Professionals tend to utilise vision infinitely better than the average player and having three hawks on such a small cooldown could be huge.
Interestingly, of the above heroes only Morphling is out of Captain’s Mode. Techies hasn’t done enough to make it back in, either. Although we’re sure that with IceFrog adding just one to Techies level-25 damage talent, there’s no plans to make the explosive hero viable just yet.
4. Talents, talents, talents
All of the talents were reworked by Valve for this patch. When they were first introduced, there were a lot of generic talents such as XP Gain, Movement Speed, Damage and so on. They still exist in the game, but there’s a huge amount now that are tailored to specific heroes and their abilities. Talents were clearly created to add another layer to the game which IceFrog can balance at a whim. If one thing’s for sure, some of the new level 20 and 25 talents should make the game even more obscene.
Io granting an Aghanim’s Scepter to a tethered target at level 15? Invoker using Cataclysm at level 20? Bane stealing Enfeeble damage from level 10? Some of the changes seem on the verge of horribly overpowered. We’ve said that before though, and as everyone in Dota understands, IceFrog knows best. Time will tell.