The animated series based on Dota 2 is now out on Netflix, expanding elements of the MOBA's backstory into eight gritty episodes. Expecting an influx of curious newbies who'd be horrified by how unfriendly Dota is, Valve last night updated Dota's new player experience to be less completely useless. They've added new playable tutorials and a New Player Mode which gently introduces players to low-stakes games, as well as improving bots. Plus they've made smurfing a bannable offence, to keep sharks out the kiddy pool.
For starters, the game's meagre tutorial section is now bustling with videos and playable scenarios introducing everything from basic play to techniques like stacking creep camps and the all-important last-hitting. Completing these tasks also gives cosmetic rewards to customise wizards, as an incentive all players can benefit from. I've had a look and played a few scenarios and yep, this stuff is useful. I like that it's all guided by the much-beloved "shitty wizard".
The new New Player Mode is part of the old new player experience's Limited Mode. It only has a small number of the game's squillion wizards and uses some of Dota's Turbo Mode settings to speed up matches. Players won't receive a leaving penalty for bailing on New Player matches either, and a bot will instantly step in to take over playing their wizard. Bots will also step in to fill out a match if matchmaking is taking too long too. And solo players will never face teams, because teams will be matched against bots.
Valve say they've improved bots too. And added pop-up tips warning new players when they're doing something they might not realise is silly. And added a friendly simpler shop interface for new players. And put in a Glossary section with written info and stats on loads of things. And expanded the coaching system for players who want support. And—ye gods!—launched a new website with lots of useful info including fancy new hero pages. New players will also receive a two-month free trial of Dota Plus, which offers additional advice.
Another change apparently made with newbies in mind but helpful for everyone is banning smurfs. High-skill players hopping onto new accounts to shed their matchmaking ranking and melt faces has long been a problem in Dota. It makes less-skilled players miserable, and empties the matchmaking pool at the higher end. So smurfing is now a bannable offence. Valve say they'll focus primarily on accounts created from now onwards, though they will occasionally manually ban pre-existing smurf accounts "that are clearly game-ruining". The in-game reporting tools now let you grass people up for smurfing too.
See Valve's announcement for more than everything. It's pretty impressive and long overdue.
This is more than I expected from Valve, and evidently more than many fans did. One group of fans were so keen for Dota to be more welcoming to newcomers that they raised $30,000 to make an unofficial playable tutorial, which they released on Tuesday as a mod. I guess Valve were quietly making all this in the background. Valve have at least slipped that tutorial into the new tutorial section, and say "If we see other similar activity in this space from the community, we'll look into adding it in the future as well."
Speaking of the future, Valve say they plan to launch update 7.29 on the Friday after the Singapore Major (that'll be April 9th). It will add a new hero and rebalance the game a bit.
Oh, the series. Dota: Dragon's Blood is on Netflix. Eight episodes, all out now. It's about boring old Dragon Knight, with other wizards including Mirana, Luna, Invoker, and Terrorblade. It's animated by Studio Mir, the South Korean studio known for their work on series including Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts and Voltron: Legendary Defender. Kipo was a pretty one.