Dota 2 has cracked out its 'quality of life' duster and set about some spring cleaning. Yesterday's patch was the first of the new fortnightly updates, and its focus is on improvements that make the game less fiddly. Dota can be more fiddly than an eleven-piece folk band, so this is good news. That's especially true for newer players, who have enough to deal with without worrying about micromanaging the courier or figuring out which jungle camps are the deadly ones. Two of my favourite smaller changes target those issues, but there's plenty more here besides. They've added in-game tips about recent hero changes, redesigned player profiles and thrown in a whole bunch of UI tweaks and balance changes - and that's just scratching the surface.
There's far too much for me to cover, so these are just my highlights. You can read the full patch notes here.
First up is something that Dota could have done with for a good long while: in-game tips that tell you what changed with the most recent patch. "Now you can see which heroes have updates by looking at the top-bar portrait of a selected hero on the drafting screen", say the patch notes. You can also "hover over an ability or item tooltip to see if and how they've changed." As I mentioned yesterday, it's an especially important addition now that the game's getting more regular updates.
You can now hold down Alt to see which of your teammates is carrying a TP scroll and whether it's on cooldown, so now you can replace those cries of "HELP HELP BEING GANKED BOT" with "PETER I KNOW YOU CAN SAVE ME FOR GOD'S SAKE HELP".
I'm not sure what counts as the "extreme frequency" required to trigger this, but players who regularly misbehave - "feeding, abandoning, player abuse, etc" - will now automatically receive six-month bans. I have no problem with this.
The courier now shows when it's carrying items belonging to another player, which should serve as a neat reminder to let them know they can call for the courier when you're done with it.
Some of the most significant UI updates include a new effect that shows when a building is benefiting from backdoor protection, and you can now see the tooltips for Talents by pressing Alt. They've also added a "progress overlay" that shows the cast point of an ability when you use it, which is the short interval between when you use an ability and when it takes effect. You can be interrupted in that time, so knowing exactly how quickly you can fling out your spells should prove handy.
As for the "gameplay" updates, Valve have tweaked a lot but nothing jumps out at me as majorly game-changing. To caveat: I mean that by the standards of the old patches, where some changes would make me scream "What have they done, is this even Dota anymore?" and then I'd need to go have a cup of tea and a lie down. There are plenty of significant changes to cooldown times, ability damage scaling and whatnot - it's definitely worth checking the full patch notes to see what's happened to your favourite heroes and items.