As the confetti fell on the end of the Dota 2 [official site] Boston Major tournament its developers, Valve, announced a significant update to their MOBA: update 7.00. I scanned the notes yesterday (once the website was able to cope with the strain of the traffic) and had a couple of games on the test client and GOOD LORD, it's a doozy! There are Heroes of the Storm-ish talent trees, the jungle has changed so much I actually got lost, Roshan has upped sticks and moved to the northern bit of the river, Monkey King is a total (cool) jerk, the HUD has slimmed right down, illusions offer bounties and all kinds of other nonsense.
We'll have a proper thorough patch analysis a bit later as the update is going live today but here are a few impressions after playing on the test client:
1. Monkey King
Monkey King is so cool, but I already hate him. He's a melee carry with an enormous staff. He can enlarge said staff and slam it down in front of him to deal a stun and critical strike. I learned to avoid this one but goodness, being hit by it was painful. Tree Dance lets him leap along the treetops so it's a really useful escape or a setup for surprise attacks. To get out of the treeline he can also channel Primal Spring which is a leap which slows and damages enemies in an area of effect when he lands. Jingu Mastery charges his staff up when he hits things and offers bonus damage and lifesteal for a few seconds when it's fully charged. Mischief is his awesome contextual disguise - LOOK!
His ultimate is Wukong's Command which summons a bunch of monkey soldiers into an area and is a right pain in the bum.
2. Talent trees
I really like these. What they do is replace the bit where you upgrade your character's stats with a choice of two upgrades at levels 10, 15, 20 and 25. These are different for each character but essentially it lets you do a bit of extra tailoring to suit your hero to the game and then generally offers a really powerful boost at level 25. To take Witch Doctor (my bae) as an example:
Level 10: +200 Health OR +20% XP Gain
Level 15: +75 Damage OR -35s Respawn Time
Level 20: +8 Armor OR +15% Magic Resistance
Level 25: +150 Death Ward Attack Range OR +20 Voodoo Restoration Heal
So the level 10 choice of XP gain is useful if you've slipped behind in levels as a support. The level 15 choice of reducing the respawn timer is useful if you're playing defence - particularly if you're defending your base. The level 20 choice is about what kind of damage you're taking from the other team. Essentially this lot are about whether you're attacking or defending, really. Other heroes have more utility options or give you tanky versus agility options. There are still the regular abilities and items which also let you tailor your build but I think this talent tree stuff helps stop you getting lost in item builds or helps counter that thing where you always build the same items regardless of the specific game you're in.
3. The map
The map is bloody confusing. Everything has moved and there are a new kind of jungle creep and shrines which are kind of like wells in Heroes of the Storm in that they offer a healing boost over time when you activate them and also there are bounty runes all over the jungle and staircases everywhere and Roshan went up-river so he's sort of more in the Baron position if you play League of Legends and I couldn't find the Dire secret shop for a moment and the neutral creep spawn time is different and the jungle is more dangerous and what even are the rules of pulling a creep wave any more ARGH ARGH ARGHHHHHHH!
3.1 I feel like it's a decent idea for Rosh to move up-river because he'll get fresher water there.
3.2 Although maybe he was kind of a scavenger and would snack on whatever washed down from fights?
3.3 So maybe Roshan is on a diet?
3.4 Or maybe this was some kind of witness protection scheme and he's moved and changed his name and whatnot in an attempt not to get harassed by heroes all the time.
3.5 In which case he really shouldn't have let Icefrog mark his new location on the minimap.
There's a bunch more options including the ability to filter heroes by complexity so you know what you're getting into. There's also a new strategy bit where you get a window of time before the game to assign or predict lanes, purchase items and play with your cosmetics.
The last thing I'll mention here is the backpack. This is a bonus storage space with three slots which you can't use as active inventory space but you can use it to carry round things like recipes which you're building into other items so you don't have to micromanage space as much. You can also store some extra items in there if you're wanting to switch between them for different phases of the game. You just need to be aware of a few limitations (no Divine Rapiers in the backpack, pls) and there's a cooldown to take into account if you swap stuff into your main inventory from your backpack when you're not in range of a shop.
I'm going to leave everything else for the beefy analysis later on but let me know your thoughts if you've tried the new patch on the test client. I think it's the map and HUD changes which will take the most getting used to. I can't rely on my muscle memory for things like courier upgrades and opening up the shop right now. Everything requires that extra second of thought whilst I locate it. The timings for stacking and pulling are out of the window too. But the talent trees were pretty easy to get to grips with and the rest is kind of business as usual in terms of major patches bringing new heroes or hero reworks (Necrophos, Techies, Lycan and Treant). Treant's rework is mint, by the way. His tree-based invisibility is now a passive and he gets ridiculous move speed as part of it.
Wait, I was going to stop talking about the patch! I just keep seeing new things every time I read it. BUT YES. Stopping now. Tell me your thoughts if you've given it a go!