The new patch is here and it is filled with new things to explore or re-discover. KawaiiSocks and Elevated are sharing their first impressions on the new hero and what the overall changes mean for the meta.
KawaiiSocks: funnily enough, a complete opposite reaction, compared to Hoodwink. Like the hero mechanically, dislike the looks: slightly too “sci-fi exo-suit” to seamlessly fit into the Dota world. But that’s subjective.
What isn’t as subjective is that Dawnbreaker should be tons of fun. An offlaner who can keep on farming and then join the ganking supports? Lifesteal for the whole team so that even if you go full DPS from the third position you don’t ruin your teams chance of winning? 60+ starting damage, 3+ starting armor, decent stat growth and regular BAT on a Strength hero? Sign me up.
Elevated: It feels pretty clear that there is some new influence, at least thematically on hero design in Dota. Dawnbreaker’s art style, somewhat reminiscent of Mars, feels quite different from the old core of heroes in the game. It’s never a bad thing to have some new ideas and the concept of a true, anti-gank hero is really cool.
At the moment, her skills feel pretty underwhelming in terms of damage but the utility is all there. My initial guess is that we will see some experimentation mid to unlock the quick level six ganking potential of the hero. Primarily though Dawnbreaker feels like a tanky offlaner or potentially brawler position four. It’s possible that this is the first new hero in a while that needs to be tuned up to really impact the game but I love the idea of some sort of Spectre, Nature’s Prophet and Dawnbreaker global gank squad.
KawaiiSocks: More passageways and more juking potential is theoretically great. It is probably great in practice as well. What slightly worries me, however, is how an already great in the right hands subtype of “vision heroes”, such as Night Stalker, Beastmaster, Zeus etc. are now even better. Still think it is definitely an improvement, but might require some extra hero balancing in the future, at least when it comes to the competitive scene.
Elevated: From the few games I’ve played, I really like the new map layout. More juke spots are always great and they have made teleporting to towers much more safe and sneaky. I also like the more centralized location of the outposts as it rewards taking the safelane tier one more heavily. One area of concern is how the camps are spaced in the Dire primary jungle which seems extremely efficient to farm compared to the Radiant side.
KawaiiSocks: Attributes being back as an option is potentially a massive boost to heroes like Anti-Mage and Juggernaut. A bit like returning to the old days of Dota. Probably other significantly affected heroes, but these two are the first to come to mind.
Don’t yet know how I feel about the economy changes. It feels like map control and early game should matter slightly less and comebacks are slightly more probable, but I might be wrong.
The turn rate changes will need some time before we understand the impact. On one hand, they aren’t massive. Heroes still have weight and for the most part it didn’t heavily influence the way the game looks. Mounted heroes do feel a bit off, but that’s not a big issue. What can be a bit of an issue is that now ranged heroes on average should be better, while melee heroes should be slightly worse: kiting is easier with faster turning. Given how the mobility and movement speed has been nerfed across the board as well tells us it was the intended effect, but won’t it be a bit too much?
Elevated: Thank GabeN above they have done something about the mobility creep in the game. Reducing some movement speeds, capping the max movement speed and generally trying to force better positioning are all good changes. I also like that they have tried to make the game a bit more fluid to control by reducing cast points and turn rates on most heroes.
As KawaiiSocks mentioned, it will be a bit before we see how the economy game plays out. My initial impression though is that the game is meant to ramp up a bit slower but then accelerate into the mid and late game. The XPM, GPM and comeback mechanics indicate that there will be a bit more parity between all roles and heroes in the game.
My gut also says that roaming is going to be back in a big way thanks to seemingly constant rune spawns (2, 3, 4, 6 minutes). This could really throw off how the lanes work and drastically affect the hero pool. Usually it’s these under the radar timing mechanics that reshape how pros play the game and define the meta.
KawaiiSocks: RIP Necronomicon. On one hand, I feel for all the Lycan players. Actually, on second thought, no, I don’t. It is not an elegant solution, it doesn’t feel right and I am almost certain Necronomicon will make a comeback reworked some time in the future, but for now I am completely fine with it being absent from the game. As a support, there are few things worse than Necronomicon 3 when it comes to warding. Or surviving.
Abyssal becoming melee again is also great. There was way too much mobility in the game, we didn’t need a Blink Strike + BKB-piercing stun as well. Again, it is a way to find a balance between ranged and melee heroes, but unlike turn rate changes, this one I can fully stand behind.
Elevated: Overall it feels like a pretty tame patch in terms of item balance. The biggest winners are definitely Witch Blade (already very strong), Force Staff (now makes you tankier as a support item) and Satanic (dispel Spirit Vessel upon activation). The biggest losers are Necronomicon (yeeted from existence), Abyssal Blade (losing the gap close means carries may now need to buy a Blink Dagger again) and Divine Rapier (like Abyssal Blade, now requires two item slots for the same effect).
KawaiiSocks: Heroes we wanted to see buffed and nerfed got buffed and nerfed, but Io might still be a problem. His damage talents are weaker now and the hero is weaker overall as well, but that doesn’t feel enough.
Broodmother changes are weird, but they seem fun. The hero didn’t lose her identity, I actually feel it was enhanced: Broodmother should theoretically no longer use her children just to farm and then ignore them for the rest of the game. They are now a very important part of her kit. It will take time to balance the hero and I feel the hero is much weaker now, but the general concept behind the changes is solid.
Finally, Lifestealer is finally back to being Lifestealer and while I am not sure how much it will matter for the hero’s viability, it is certainly a welcome change theme-wise.
Elevated: Like the items, the Hero changes were fairly low impact. A few of the very overpowered heroes have been brought down a few power levels and some lesser played ones have gotten buffs. A lot of the changes centered around Talents and Aghanim’s Shards which seem to be the easiest way to tweak heroes without changing their core identity too much.
I’m definitely a bit worried about the former Necronomicon buying “zoo” heroes being completely annihilated but it could also force further innovation for them. A lot of the standard support heroes got some nice buffs and heroes like Bane, Lion and Crystal Maiden seem like some of the biggest winners in the patch. I think that the meta will probably continue to be dominated by fast pace mobile heroes (the Spirits and Puck) but should get more diverse as well. Tiny carry also stood out as a potential return to form now that you can have permanent Tree Grab with the Shard upgrade.
KawaiiSocks: The initial impression is very good. Far better than the last patch. The new hero looks easy to use effectively and will be a great fit for pubs. The mobility and economy changes should slow the game down slightly, both in terms of tactical teamfights and overall strategy. Ranged carries should theoretically make a comeback along with Lifestealer. Zoo will take a break for a while, as it should have done some time ago. Pretty exciting things, if we are at least partially correct in our first impressions.
Elevated: Overall, it’s a good patch considering there is a pro season starting in just a few days. Not too many earth shattering changes but definitely a lot of little things to now play around with and shift the course of the game. This feels like one of the first big patches in a while that didn’t completely shake up the core gameplay. The balance team has instead added a much more subtle reward for dedicated players to experiment and find new weird ways to exploit the game’s mechanics for advantage.