The wait is finally over. 6.88 was an amazing patch, filled with different strategies and a very wide pool of viable heroes, but it started to feel rather stale by the end of its lifecycle. Dota 7.00 is almost here and it will introduce an unparalleled amount of changes to the game.
Going over each change at this point isn’t going to be productive—there are simply too many of them, with massive changes to the core mechanics, and their interaction is guaranteed to be unpredictable. Embracing these changes might be hard, especially for veteran players and especially after what a gem of balance 6.88 was. Naturally, next several days and, possibly weeks, will be filled with overpowered and underpowered heroes, abilities and items.
To make at least some sense out of the ensuing chaos, we will look at some of the core changes to the game and speculate on their potential impact on the overall Dota 2 gameplay.
New HUD & UI-related features
Many of the new HUD elements are a part of the newly introduced features, but there is also a sizeable amount of quality of life improvements. There is an increased amount of visible space, ability to cast abilities on teammates through the top bar and general improvements to the user experience.
Each hero now has 3 extra item slots. You cannot use item actives from the backpack and they do not provide attributes and bonuses. However, they can be freely rearranged with your regular inventory, with a 6 second “mute” on the items after hot swap.
Items cooldown twice as long while in the backpack, but it still allows for certain degree of extra freedom. Hot swapped Refresher Orb and Black King Bar can definitely become a thing. Patch notes also include this line:
Late-game fights near the fountain, side shops and secret shops theoretically might have an added layer of depth to them.
The general life of supports will also become easier, since they can now have dedicated ward, smoke and dust slots.
Each game now starts with a 30-second period, where you can discuss the laning stage, the initial ward placement and even pre-purchase starting items. The last part is especially important, since it allows for a level playing field for people with slower PCs and weaker connections. Several lost seconds at the beginning of the match might not have been overwhelmingly impactful, but in certain cases they might mean the difference between making it out of the enemy jungle on time or getting in a better position with your team.
The Map has received a massive overhaul. Roshan pit is now in the middle of the river, putting an end to the Dire/Radiant advantage discussion. The pathways to it are numerous, with almost identical distances from the T1 and T2 Dire and Radiant Top and Middle towers.
Shrines have been added to the map, next to the secret shops and in the Primary (safelane) jungles. They provide a massive AoE boost to regeneration, but have a 5-minute cooldown.
Bounty Runes now spawn in specific locations in the jungle. There are also four of them, two for each side.
Finally, there are more neutral camps, with an extra ancient camp in the primary jungle and an extra medium camp in the Secondary (offlane) one. However, neutrals now respawn only on odd minutes (0:30, 1:00, 3:00 etc.)
Overall, the map now contains more resources, but they replenish much slower. It will undoubtedly be a nerf to the regular stack-farming heroes such as Luna and Sven and will also lead to some changes to split-pushing with heroes like Anti-Mage.
Contesting the enemy jungle will become a lot more important—making a sweep around it will prevent the enemy from getting its resources for longer. Leaving a single smaller creep in each jungle, if the odd minute is approaching, can also become a viable course of action.
Stacking is still possible, but it a lot less effective and is associated with higher risks—losing a stack is a bigger deal now. Passive jungling is also nerfed—there is not enough sustain in the jungle to afford a steady XP progression. Most likely it will lead to semi-jungling heroes, with heroes who can sweep the jungle relatively fast, but will also come out during the creep respawn to gank or push.
Shrines are a major boost to sustain and map control—they can be used as teleport points and grant massive regeneration over a short period of time. However, in proper games, it is unlikely they will be used as a way to quickly heal up during the laning stage—the opportunity cost is simply too high. Getting a healing salve is generally advised, while shrines should be primarily used for regeneration of multiple heroes.
Overall, the defense of the outer towers should be a lot easier. An extra teleport location means TPs will take less time and are less likely to result in a chain-feed. Having a massive regeneration advantage can also turn the fights around or prevent the enemy from chasing.
Levelling and Talents
A completely new core mechanic is introduced to the game, along with some changes to the levelling system.
Levelling is now slightly faster, with current level 25 requiring the same total amount of XP earned as previous level 23. The changes mostly impact the later levels and your hero will reach level 12 at the same time he would previously reach level 11.
You can no longer use a level up to get an attribute boost. Ultimates can now be taken at levels 6, 12 and 18. At levels 10, 15, 20 and 25, instead of using a skill point to upgrade an ability, you can get a choice from two hero-specific, mutually exclusive talents:
These talents are quite powerful, potentially rivaling some Aghanim’s Scepter upgrades. However, they also come relatively late into the game, so it is unlikely we will see a fully developed talent tree on each hero in every game.
The most probable outcome of the talent tree introduction is going to be timing pushes: teams, who managed to get ahead in levels in the early game, will try to use their advantage to push and force the enemy to fight. Stronger defensive capabilities, coming from shrines, should allow the losing team to have some sort of a counter-play or at least a choice, between farming up XP and Gold or engaging.
Overall, there is now more incentive to press the advantage your team might have gained in the early game, potentially resulting in higher action density. Snowballing might become a problem, with some talents granting massive boosts to DPS, making the drafting stage even more important.
Extra customization, often very unique to specific heroes, should further facilitate the viable hero pool, at least in the beginning. However, there is a high chance the meta will converge on a single “anchor” hero or heroes, so it is very important the changes to the patch are frequent.
Illusions have also received a major change—they now grant XP and Gold for the killer. It is a relatively small amount, however it should prevent silly things from happening unpunished.
The amount of damage illusions deal to structures has also been reduced, but their potential DPS has been significantly increased—they now get full benefits from the bonus Attack Speed items. It means that certain items are no longer completely wasted on illusion-based heroes, most notably the Assault Cuirass and Mjollnir.
Root, Dispel and Cleave mechanics have been slightly reworked. While for the latter two it will probably go largely unnoticed and has more to to do with quality of life and consistency improvements, the former one has received a major buff:
With the root mechanic now preventing the majority of mobility spells, certain heroes will re-emerge. Most notably, Crystal Maiden and Lone Druid might become very viable picks against certain lineups.
With the introduction of the talent tree, every single hero has been significantly changed and, as we stated in the beginning of the blog, going over each of them will not be too productive—there are simply too many variables in place. But there are definitely ones that stand out even in the changelog as radical as 7.00.
The Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade coupled with the proposed talent tree opens up a way for a support Chaos Knight. Reality Rift has received a rather massive nerf, losing a lot of extra attack damage, but the hero can now consistently reduce the armor of the target. Extra 7 intelligence at level 10 with a potential massive DPS boost/spell dodge for a teammate makes the hero one of the scariest roaming supports who can eventually snowball his team out of control.
Core Leshrac has a chance to become a massive nuisance once again. The slow from the Lightning Storm is incredibly powerful and extra 2s on it essentially means a 200% increase in duration. Granted, reaching level 25 might be problematic, hence as a support, the hero might not be as powerful, but in his former core role, he will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.
Riki will probably retain his popularity as a position 3.5 support and is likely to see more play. The “pocket riki” meme has actually resulted in a very powerful ability upgrade. Granted, the stats on the item do almost nothing for the hero, but the ability to reliably deal respectable amounts of damage should not be underestimated, when coupled with highly mobile heroes, such as Storm Spirit.
Core mid Rubick has seen some play during the last major and while the landscape will be very different in the new patch, the trend might actually be bolstered with the introduced changes. There are a lot of great abilities in the talent tree for Rubick, but come level 25, he can once again become a very powerful initiator—the last talent more than doubles the displacement from Telekinesis for up to 775 units. This value is larger than what Batrider can do with a single use of Force Staff.
The reworked ability makes the hero a rather capable offlaner but, more importantly, it gives the hero a stun. Even more importantly, it is classified as a “bash” and comes from the auto-attack, possibly meaning that it pierces spell immunity. The hero has already proved to be quite strong against certain strategies during the major, but with an extra reliable disable he can become a very powerful ally and a very annoying foe.
The talent tree for the hero pales in comparison to other ones, but the reworked Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade should definitely put the hero on the radar. It majorly increases the teamfight presence of the hero, allows flashy sniping plays and can completely destroy the back-line counter-initiators and supports. Granted, you will need vision for this tactic to be effective, but playing Zeus, vision is rarely an issue.
Closing Thoughts on Hero Changes
The addition of the talent tree will definitely shake things up a bit, but it will probably have a much smaller impact, than expected from the community. Yes, the leveling in the game will become slightly faster, but consider how many times you have actually managed to get level 16 on a support hero, let alone level 25.
When evaluating your support pick, take into account only the first and maybe the second talent upgrades. The level 20 and 25 ones should be an afterthought, a plan B and not a general gameplan. With the timing pushes that are almost guaranteed to come the games will become faster and the early game advantages will become more meaningful.
That said, as farming cores, keeping in mind the first three talent upgrades is a must. Knowing what talents your opponents have access to is also advised. And, as we stated numerous times in our previous blog posts: if you have an advantage—use it. The comeback against a lazy opponent is possible and the power levels of each team are more likely to fluctuate more frequently and to a higher degree.
We will take a similar approach to how we discuss the item changes in the patch, since most of the changes are cost/minor stats related. There are a couple of very interesting reworks, however.
Bottle and most other regenerating items are no longer dispelled with creep hits. The damage source has to be a hero or a Roshan, for the effect to stop. It makes lane regeneration a lot easier and tower dives slightly more possible. It will also make jungling a lot faster, but with the reduced respawn rate of neutrals, jungling will probably be very different.
Helm of the Dominator
The item went from the core category to semi-core/support one. The MS increase on the dominated creep can make for some very scary plays with the Centaur and Ursa neutrals. With the stacking nerf, it is also quite likely that these creeps will be used actively for fights and pushes, making the game slightly more varied.
Mask of Madness
The item has turned from an absolute mess it was for almost a year into a very scary early game upgrade once again. With typical “pre-buff and jump in” heroes, it can become a strong tempo play—Sven doesn’t need to press any buttons after using Warcry, God’s Strength and Storm Hammer and he doesn’t really mind losing 5 armor either. But he will certainly like +100 Attack Speed and +17% Movement Speed. Same can be said about a lot of heroes and the item will probably become one of the most popular pickups on the auto-attacking cores.
Rod of Atos
For the first time since its introduction, the item actually does something useful! We have already discussed how the Root-effect has become a lot more powerful and Rod of Atos will definitely become an incredibly strong situational pick. However, the fact that it uses a projectile will make timing it properly slightly harder. On the other hand, it will leave space for counterplay, so it doesn’t push the item into the OP category.
Finally, the weird relationship between Satanic, Helm of the Dominator and the Heart of Tarrasque has been broken. Satanic is now in a category of its own, as well as the HotD and both items turned out to be very interesting. Satanic is now a major DPS increase for Strength heroes with survivability coming in the second place, as it no longer grans armor, but increases the attack damage by an extra +35.
This patch introduces the biggest changes to the game since its Warcraft 3 days. Map overhaul, new buildings, new mechanics—there is so much new about the game, it will definitely take a lot of time to process and understand. The game will be very similar, yet very different.
At this point a lot of people are probably freaking out and it is understandable. But there are certain things we would like everyone to understand:
The game was definitely not “dumbed down”. If anything, the introduction of talents has only made it even more complex. It should also tighten the action and promote active play, resulting in better viewing experience.
The shrine system increases the strategic depth, since they can be used as teleport locations. They are also high impact-high opportunity cost, as is everything in Dota. With that in mind, comparison to other games is irrelevant—yes, the concept might be similar, but the amount of options it provides is a lot higher and varied.
The changes to the jungle do not mean that every team now needs a dedicated jungler. As with everything in Dota, it is an option. Sometimes this option will be viable, sometimes not, and it will all depend on how well you can read the strengths and weaknesses in the enemy draft. There is a chance the meta at some point will converge on dedicated junglers, but there will be a team who will try something different and succeed, starting the ever-changing meta cycle once again.
Finally, it is still the game we love and will play a lot.