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We’ve been sitting on one major patch for Valve’s titanic MOBA, Dota 2, for quite some time. We sit on it no longer: gameplay update 7.20 has launched, bringing with it the usual tidal wave of “wait, they did what?” that accompanies every single major Dota 2 update. There’s no new hero, but there are hefty reworks for plenty of old ones. And it’s not even Christmas!

I’m going to do my best to keep this brief, not least because the patch notes total about 8,500 words, and any summary at all I give will still be gargantuan. I’ll link to the full notes at the end – and you should definitely check them out – but let’s have a look at some of the bigger changes first. Which, in fairness, is very difficult, because pretty much every single thing has made me try to recalculate the entire game in my head.

Please note: if you don’t already play or understand Dota 2, this is going to be a huge wall of confusion. I apologize for nothing.

Dota 2‘s General Changes

This was the image for patch 7.06. How things have changed!

Let’s start with the general Dota 2 changes because I’m sure those don’t mean anything much. Except that the “map has been reworked” in ways I can’t fathom until I actually fire it up. And denying creeps now gives gold instead of XP. And there’s a dedicated inventory slot for Town Portal scrolls, with them no longer sharing cooldown with Boots of Travel. Oh, and Random picks from the entire hero pool again, barring your 25 least played heroes. And armor, hero kill bounty XP, and mana and HP regen have been reworked.

Also, Root now stops town portals, and a variety of Root abilities have been changed to remain more consistent. Black King Bar is more powerful than before, with 36 abilities no longer piercing spell immunity. All important structures have more health. Scan can see inside the Roshan pit. Intelligence heroes now have a higher strength gain across the board.

Good grief. And we haven’t even gotten to the big stuff yet.

Dota 2‘s Item Changes

Dota 2 Ring Of Aquila

Not, I fear, for pressing ceremonial reasons.

There’s a lot to unpack in Dota 2’s item changes, but first and foremost, Ring of Aquila is gone. On that note: Bracer, Wraith Band, and Null Talisman can no longer be upgraded into other items, but they have various other effects (+6% magic resist, +8 attack speed, and +3% spell amp) to compensate and give them some early game value.

Another big change is to Phase Boots, which no longer have an active ability. Instead, they appear to function a bit like Phantom Lancer’s Phantom Rush ability: when you issue an attack order, you passively gain the movement speed bonus, collision phasing, and turn rate. It dispels whenever you cancel the attack or move elsewhere, lingers for 0.5 seconds, and has no cooldown.

There are plenty of new items too, but before we address them, let’s look at an old/new item: the Kaya. While this remains basically the same, it can now be combined into Yasha and Kaya, or Kaya and Sange. No word of a Sange and Kaya and Yasha combination item, though, unless I’ve missed something.

So, new items! The Crown is a new basic item that gives +4 to all stats and is used in items that previously needed the Bracer, Wraith Band, or Null Talisman. The Ring of Tarrasque is a basic item that offers up +3.75 HP regen and +150 health, and it can be upgraded into the Heart of Tarrasque and the Holy Locket. And finally, yes, the Holy Locket is also new. This offers up health, HP regen, mana regen, +15% magic resistance. It also has a passive effect that amplifies all heals and HP regen you provide by 25%.

There are plenty more hefty changes in here too – Solar Crest has been reworked, Tranquil Boots are no longer disabled by attacking creeps, Maim has been removed from both Sange and Heaven’s Halberd, Gem gives ground sight to the team that dropped it until it’s picked up, and all item-based movement speed bonuses are now percentage-based rather than being flat addition – but we’ve talked items enough. Let’s talk heroes.

Dota 2‘s Hero Reworks

Dota 2 Quiz

I guess “all of them.” (The answer was Invoker, apparently.)

37 Dota 2 heroes have had abilities reworked or replaced. In alphabetical order: Abaddon, Ancient Apparition, Anti-Mage, Bane, Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter, Brewmaster, Centaur Warrunner, Chaos Knight, Chen, Clinkz, Dazzle, Drow Ranger, Faceless Void, Huskar, Keeper of the Light, Lich, Lone Druid, Lycan, Magnus, Meepo, Naga Siren, Night Stalker, Omniknight, Outworld Devourer, Pangolier, Phantom Assassin, Rubick, Shadow Demon, Slardar, Spirit Breaker, Sven, Tiny, Treant Protector, Troll Warlord, Tusk, and Undying. Interestingly, other heroes have had some additions or changes to abilities which aren’t counted in this (Queen of Pain’s Sonic Wave now knocks units back), so that’s not a full list of every major change.

Some of these are relatively minor reworks – Slardar’s Bash of the Deep now procs on every fourth attack rather than based on chance, for instance. Others, on the other hand, are massive, and I approve of quite a few. Replacing Tusk’s Icy Sigil with a temporary aura that makes enemies take more damage from attacks and be slowed is a simplified (and neater) ability that does similar, for instance. Outworld Devourer’s change to Essence Aura (now Equilibrium) restores mana based on the spell damage he deals, rather than being chance-based.

Let’s look at a few of the big ones. Bounty Hunter’s Jinada now steals unreliable gold from enemy heroes when it hits them, which is going to make him even more irritating in the early game, and judging by a level 20 talent change (+125% Jinada Critical Strike to +90 Jinada Gold Steal) he could be a thieving pain in the ass later on, too. Oh, and Track doesn’t break invisibility, and Bounty Hunter’s attacks crit for 1.4/1.6/1.8x damage on Tracked targets… but only Bounty Hunter gets the movement speed bonus.

GIVE ME BACK MY MONEY. I’m a support; I need it. Although at least now I get it from denying creeps…

Brewmaster’s Drunken Brawler is now a self-active buff, which grants a massive evasion boost and chance to crit, with movement speed alternating between a -20% debuff and a +40% buff while it’s active. Drunken Haze, meanwhile, has been replaced with Cinder Brew, which covers a target AoE with alcohol. Those hit with Cinder Brew are slowed, and they have a chance to hit themselves instead of their target. Not only that, but if a fire-based spell hits them during this, the duration refreshes and they catch fire.

Clinkz’s Death Pact is now Burning Army, which is a new ability that uses vector targeting (and alas, no, Jakiro still doesn’t). This spawns unmoving Skeleton Archers in a line which attack using Searing Arrows, have Clinkz’s base damage and attack range, and take two hits to kill. They last for 20 seconds, and they are going to make his ganks much more of a pain to escape if he uses them to wall off an escape route.

Shadow Demon’s Soul Catcher now causes all enemy units in the targeted area to lose a percentage of their current health, then gain half of it back after 10 seconds. Phantom Assassin’s Blur still provides evasion, but the other passive component is now an active which functions like Smoke of Deceit: it makes PA invisible until within 600 units of an enemy hero or building, and it lasts 25 seconds.

While I want to talk about every single one of these, we’ll just look at one more: Lich. Lich has had two ability changes. Sacrifice is gone, having been replaced with Sinister Gaze, which is a channeled spell that causes an enemy to slowly walk towards you. Ice Armor is also gone, replaced with Frost Shield. This… is a big one. This only lasts six seconds, but it reduces physical attack damage taken by between 30% and 60% (depending on ability level), and every second, all nearby enemies take damage and are slowed by 35%. And yes, it can target towers. Yeesh.

And The Other Heroes

I’m pretty sure our poor Queen is still useless, but maybe the item reworks will help her out. Her sole change – to Sonic Wave – certainly won’t.

Oh, and everyone else in Dota 2 has changed too.

Interestingly, I think most of us were expecting heavy nerfs to Arc Warden and Terrorblade – two of the heaviest hitters from the last patch, especially in the pro scene – but they’ve gone largely untouched. Sunder can’t go through spell immunity, which is a reasonable nerf (although Terrorblade can still steal health from poor supports or his own allies) and Arc Warden’s Tempest Double now offers a bigger bounty of gold and XP. Presumably, Valve thinks that all of the item changes and other hero changes will compensate and stop these two from dominating quite so heavily.

Some heroes without hefty reworks have had large changes too. Bloodseeker’s Thirst now gives attack speed instead of attack damage, while Rupture is no longer lethal, but instead deals 8% of current health as pure damage per 100 units moved. Dark Seer’s Surge now gives a percentage-based boost to speed, while also causing the target to ignore the movement speed limit, unit collisions, and any slows. Oh, and Wall of Replica now uses vector targeting! Hooray! More vector targeting in Dota 2, please.

At last, Mischief has a use, and Monkey King is even more irritating.

Doom regains health when Devouring a creep (but not from Scorched Earth), he can no longer only consume one unit at a time, and you can toggle whether or not he steals the creep ability. Elder Titan’s Astral Spirit has been buffed in terms of everything it provides, but it inflicts less damage. All of Juggernaut’s Omnislash strikes are now “real” attacks that can proc crit and items, and it hits at 1.8x your attack rate. Lifestealer’s Feast now heals based on the enemy’s max health instead of current health. Lion’s Finger of Death gets more powerful every time it kills a hero (or if that hero dies within three seconds of being hit). Ogre’s Multicast now also takes his items into account (if they’re targeted and offensive), so an Ogre with a Dagon can multicast it at different targets.

Vengeful Spirit’s Netherswap has two charges, and her Vengeance Aura now creates an illusion of her on dying as a base mechanic, with Scepter adding the ability for her to cast spells. And – good grief – Crystal Maiden now has +2 base damage.

Okay, that last one isn’t too huge, but I do love my Crystal Maiden. Absolutely zero changes to a number of my other beloved heroes – Lina or Windranger included – though, which is mildly interesting. Are they perfectly balanced? Well, no. I suspect we’ll see patch 7.20a within a week.

Anyway, yes. Everything old in Dota 2 is new again. Everything you knew about Dota 2 has changed. Go and read the full 7.20 patch notes over on the official website and prepare to go “Wait, what?” at every single line.

As a reward for reading through all of this: the obligatory Dota 2 kitten.

Tim McDonald
Tim has been playing PC games for longer than he's willing to admit. He's written for a number of publications, but has been with PC Invasion - in all its various incarnations - for over a decade. When not writing about games, Tim can occasionally be found speedrunning terrible ones, making people angry in Dota 2, or playing something obscure and random. He's also weirdly proud of his status as (probably) the Isle of Man's only professional games journalist.

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