When I woke up this morning, I knew something was going to go wrong. There was an icy wind. Ravens gathered at my windows. Old ladies shrieked at the sight of me in the streets. (Okay, that’s not new.) Now I know why: We have the utterly gargantuan Dota 2 7.23 patch, The Outlanders, and I need to find a way to parse it and write about it.
It basically changes the entire game in ways that seem completely insane. As with all major Dota 2 patches, this isn’t about tweaking numbers. It’s about tweaking the game.
The headline additions for this Dota 2 patch are doubtless the two new heroes, Void Spirit and Snapfire. Void Spirit is a melee carry while Snapfire is a ranged support. That said, because players haven’t been messing with these two heroes for a while, their actual designations are subject to change. I expect we’ll be seeing Snapfire being played mid in every other game for at least the next week.
Void Spirit’s four abilities are Aether Remnant, Dissimilate, Resonant Pulse, and Astral Step. Aether Remnant sounds a bit like a vector-targeted Spark Wraith with some added disable: It keeps watch over a small area (facing one direction) and then pulls in and damages enemies that enter its vision. Dissimilate has Void Spirit fade into the aether, seemingly becoming untargetable and immune, and creates portals he can step through to reassemble himself. Nearby enemies take damage from his reassembly.
Resonant Pulse is a more defensive ability. This sends out a damaging pulse around him and then cloaks Void Spirit in a shield that absorbs physical damage. The more enemy heroes hit by the pulse, the more damage the shield can take before it breaks. Finally, Astral Step has Void Spirit “consume a charge” to effectively dash to a point. All enemies along the path take damage and are marked with a debuff that slows and then detonates for damage.
So he’s got some teamfight defense, some area denial, some tricky evasion abilities, and a damaging ultimate. A mobile carry, then, from the sounds of it.
The other new Dota 2 hero, Snapfire, is described as a ranged support. Still, I suspect we’ll be seeing her punted into damage roles every now and then depending on her stats. This dragon toad-rider has shotguns, cannons, and cookies and can use all of them (yes, even the cookies) to devastating effect.
Scatterblast is a shotgun blast that damages and slows enemies. As it’s a spread shot, you can either fire it at point-blank to hit one enemy with everything or fire it over a longer distance to pepper multiple foes. It looks like the shots might be piercing, but it’s hard to tell without playing.
After a shotgun blast, you may be surprised to learn that her next ability is Firesnap Cookie. Snapfire can feed a cookie to either her trusty steed or to any ally, letting her (or her ally) leap into the air and slam down some distance away. Any enemies in the landing zone are stunned and damaged.
Her third ability, Lil’ Shredder, is back to heavy weapons. This fires fixed-damage attacks at a target with gradually increasing attack speed and range, while also slowing the attack speed of the target. Finally, her ultimate is Mortimer Kisses. This has her dragon toad Mortimer rear up and spew firespit balls a long, long way. These damage on impact while also leaving dangerous zones on the ground that slow and cause damage to enemies within.
For most games, two new heroes would be enough to change things up. For Dota 2, that’s just the beginning; we haven’t gotten into the real insanity yet. Let’s move onto couriers.
As of patch 7.23, every player in Dota 2 now has their own individual courier. Your courier levels up along with your hero and gains abilities as it levels. At level 5, it starts flying. At level 10, it gains a speed boost. At level 15? It can ward. And at level 25, it can “use items in general,” so I’m guessing Dagon Courier is going to be a thing when games go ultra-late. And knowing Dota 2 players, also early game.
Your courier is also what provides you with your gold-per-minute. If your courier dies, you won’t be getting 85 GPM anymore, so you’re going to want to keep it alive. Thankfully, its respawn time has changed: It’s now based on the courier level rather than whether or not it’s flying.
Additionally, Observer Wards don’t actually cost money anymore. Supports should also get a bit more cash coming in from dewarding, too; the bounty for dewarding goes to whoever bought the source of vision used to deward, so whoever buys the Sentry Ward gets the money for the destruction of an Observer Ward.
Dota 2, now level 30
Dota 2‘s map layout has been changed slightly, with both Ancient camps now moved to the opposite side of the map to Roshan. While I expect that’ll have some heavy impact later, it’s not one of the most “wait what” changes. We can instead talk about, say, the fact that max level has been raised from 25 to 30.
XP bounties and respawn times still cap out at 25, but level 30 grants your hero the entire talent tree. It’s going to take quite some time to get there, but… yes, that’s crazy.
Side shops don’t exist anymore, and all items that are found in the Secret Shop are now only found in the Secret Shop (looking at you, Ring of Health). In place of Side Shops are Outposts; you channel for six seconds to take control of these. Doing so grants bonus XP for the capture, as well as an XP boost at five-minute intervals (based on the game clock, not based on capture time). It’ll grant unobstructed vision around it, and your team can TP to it — although that teleport will also take six seconds.
It’s yet another objective to keep your eyes on when playing Dota 2, then, though they only become active after the 10-minute mark.
Neutrals with Item-itude
Another huge change is that Neutral enemies now have a chance to drop items. This scales up as the Dota match goes on, and there are some restrictions to it — items of a specific type will drop only once for a team, the odds of a drop in a particular tier get cut in half after each drop, etc. Also, these items cannot be sold but can be given to allies.
These items are obscenely powerful. The best of them are definitely restricted to super-late game, though. The very best items will only start dropping after 70 minutes, and there’s only a 10% chance for the first drop in each tier. After the first drop, the chance of the next is 5%, and then 2.5%, and then…
Nonetheless, these are powerful. Take the endgame Book of the Dead, which offers +35 Strength and Intelligence and allows the summoning of six Necromicon 3 units. Or the Pirate Hat, which offers +250 Attack Speed and spawns a bounty rune between you and anyone you kill. Or, hell, the Force Boots, which give +50% movement speed, unlock maximum movement speed, and can be activated to self-dispel and effectively cast a Force Staff on yourself. There’s even a resurrection item in this tier.
I have a feeling these may get nerfed somewhat, if only because Icefrog has generally been dialing back on RNG in Dota 2, and these could genuinely swing a stalemated tournament game. One team getting lucky and getting some high-end Neutral drops while the other gets nothing?
Hilariously, these Neutral drops also see the return of Poor Man’s Shield and Iron Talon, which were cut out of the game a while back. That’s particularly ironic because of yet another change.
That change being the removal of Stout Shield. So, yes, we’ve regained Poor Man’s but lost Stout Shield. In its place, all melee heroes in Dota 2 now have a passive 8 Damage Block. I have no idea if this is a passive that can be broken by Silver Edge, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
There are lots and lots of number changes — Faerie Fires now offer an extra damage boost and heal for more but cost almost twice as much. Mangos, meanwhile, can stack three times in one slot “in preparation for the upcoming Mango season.” Plenty of recipes have changed, too.
A bunch of items have been reworked as well: Vladimir’s Offering, Helm of the Dominator, Drum of Endurance, and Bloodstone. Vlad’s now offers a bit less armor but gives a flat 25% lifesteal aura (as opposed to the previous 15% melee and 10% ranged), and it offers +6 to all stats. Helm of the Dominator gives a +20% base damage aura in place of attack speed and gives +7 to all stats instead of +2, though its health regen aura has been nerfed. Dominate Aura bonuses are now stronger on player units, too.
Drum of Endurance provides +20 Attack Speed aura in place of mana regeneration. Finally, Bloodstone is now a combination of Kaya and Soul Booster and provides the base bonuses of both, plus 200% mana regen. Each charge accrued in it grants an additional +0.2 mana regen and 0.35% spell amp, in place of the previous 0.3 HP/MP regen.
There are too many other item changes to mention in detail, but I will say that Veil of Discord now amplifies incoming spell damage rather than reducing magic resistance. This means that Pure damage is now affected by Veil.
It’s worth noting that there’s yet another change as to how spell immunity works in Dota 2. Previously, it granted 100% Magic Resistance. This meant that spells could sometime pierce spell immunity, but they wouldn’t actually do any damage because the target had 100% resistance. That’s no longer the case. Now, if something pierces spell immunity, it will inflict pain.
But okay, let’s quickly talk about hero changes. This is by far the lengthiest section (which isn’t “all the new items that Neutrals can drop” at least), so I’m not going into much detail. I will say that there are Scepter reworks for 25 heroes and ability reworks for another 21. There are some fairly hefty reworks in there, too. Riki looks like he’s been nerfed pretty heavily, with his invisibility now back to being his ultimate, so he’ll be laning once more. Clinkz has Death Pact again, with Strafe now effectively rolled into Skeleton Walk.
Some of the changes strike me as weird, but I’m kinda looking forward to seeing how they shake out. Some of the weaker heroes — Nyx and Ursa, say — have received some very marginal changes that I doubt will help much, alas, while others like Outworld Devourer and Lifestealer have seen some pretty hefty reworks. I’m definitely curious about the Enchantress changes, which will make her a lot more killable in lane.
For those, all I can say is to take a look at the full patch notes. I’ll be trying to dive back in Dota 2 soon, although I might wait a week or so until people stop picking Void Spirit and Snapfire in every single game.