This article is brought to you by StatBanana, the best Dota 2 strategy tool.
The long-anticipated 7.23 patch for Dota 2 has finally dropped.
As usual, the first day of the patch has been chaotic and there are several hot takes coming from pros and casual players alike. While the dust hasn’t fully settled, it’s time to take in some of the changes and figure out what’s hot and what’s not.
New heroes are unique and interesting
Once again, IceFrog, Dota 2‘s main developer, didn’t disappoint in this department. Both new heroes—Void Spirit and Snapfire—have unique pros and cons. They represent a departure from the typical playstyle of heroes in their department.
Void Spirit is the third melee Intelligence hero. Likewise, Snapfire is the third ranged Strength hero. While Void Spirit looks like an Agility carry, he turned out to be a spellcaster that relies on delays and stalls to confuse enemies. Meanwhile, Snapfire looks like an Intelligence support but plays more like a utility core that’s fully capable of dealing damage from screens away.
Both heroes represent a departure from the more conventional game design of older heroes and it’s always fantastic to see how new mechanics and creative thinking can catapult Dota 2 into a new age of heroes.
Dota 2 might play like an action-adventure RPG, but it’s really an area control game. At the highest level of the game, map control is perhaps the paramount indicator in judging a team’s advantage, rather than gold lead or kill score.
With Patch 7.23, Valve has introduced yet another objective that rewards map control. By giving everybody their own couriers and thus removing the side shops, IceFrog has used the space for an Outpost, a building that rewards players with experience.
With Outposts, support players will also be able to gain even more experience, reducing the experience gap between supports and cores in the late game. Now that heroes are able to get to level 30, experience has become an even more powerful resource that pros will undoubtedly fight over.
Rather than just buffing numbers or adding new skills, Aghanim’s upgrades that actually modify a skill and allow an alternate playstyle of the hero are great. Are they competitively viable? No one knows for sure yet, but they’re fun.
Dota 2 is a game where razor margins can mean the difference between life and death. But it’s still a game and it has always been a crazy one. Once Valve committed to giving every hero an Aghanim’s upgrade, there was no doubt that some of them wouldn’t be very viable—or just a secret buff to Rubick.
But they look absolutely hilarious, and in the right hands, probably terrifying. Who wouldn’t love to be a Shapeshifted Sven launching themselves at enemies and destroying them?
Needs some work
To put it in simple terms, neutral items are ridiculous.
Sure, we can look at neutral items as a way for additional comeback mechanics to be introduced. After all, the first item will drop almost immediately, but the later ones will become rarer and rarer. Or it could be a way to actually close out games by introducing powerful items that can’t be bought like Aegis of the Immortal, Cheese, or Refresher Shard.
The biggest problem? Sixty-two new items, locked behind RNG, with literally no ability to choose what you want to get. At face value, it looks like an antithesis of competitive Dota 2, removing the huge itemization aspect of the game. Roshan, Shrines, and Outposts all reward map control, patient maneuvering, and skill. Neutral items seem like a blatant disregard for all that.
This isn’t a new concept by any means. Killing monsters and taking dropped items existed before video games were born. But having it in a competitive esport seems like a tremendous oversight.
To that end, Valve and IceFrog are developers that listen to community feedback. There’s a precedence of them removing updates before, such as when they removed Brewmaster’s Cinder Brew interactions with “fire damage” after the community and they realized that forced interactions were a bad idea. After all, Keeper of the Light and Night Stalker are shining proof of Dota 2‘s contradiction. In-universe, the Keeper committed genocide on Night Stalker’s entice race—in the competitive scene, it’s a broken combo that warrants a first-phase ban.
But if IceFrog believes it’s a good idea, it just might be here to stay. Much like how talents, shrines, and god knows what else changed the game, neutral items might become an integral part of Dota 2.