The latest update to Dota 2 is patch 6.86, and it's one of the biggest changes the game has seen ever. Adjustments to the map, heroes, new items and a new rune will have mammoth consequences to competitive play and it's almost assured that a new meta will be spawned as a result.
You can read the full patch notes on Dota2.com (there are a lot) but let's focus on what will influence competitive play leading up to the Shanghai Major, what the experts are saying and what most of us will like about this update.
New items: Faerie Fire, Dragon Lance, Aether Lens and Iron Talon
Of these four it's Dragon Lance and Aether Lens that will change the game the most. They both increase the attack range and spell range respectively, meaning that we could see less clumping in team fights and more early game aggression as a result.
Captain's mode additions: Oracle, Terrorblade and Earth Spirit
The competitive side of Dota will see three new heroes enter the fray. Oracle is the one to watch here. Offering an array of buffs and nukes, Oracle could become a go-to support hero in melee heavy lineups. The Fate's Edict ability is especially intriguing as it offers 100 percent spell immunity at the cost of disarming the target. This means we could see the ability used as a disable in team fights, or as an escape for friendly heroes against spell-heavy lineups.
New Neutral Camp locations
Positioned near the Secret Shop in the top and bottom lanes, this change will drastically reshape jungling in 6.86. It also offers a buff to the offlane.
New rune: Arcane rune
Simply put: This is bananas. The new rune offers a 30 percent reduction in spell cooldown paired with a 50 percent reduction in spell mana cost -- and it lasts for 50 seconds. This is immediately the most powerful rune in the game for cast-heavy heroes and the duration makes it a rune that not only influences a single fight, but can turn the tide for a long time.
Siege Damage increased from 75 percent to 85 percent
This seems like a minor change, but the adjustment to siege damage means towers will hit harder. This means the push-and-pull, especially in the early game will favor less diving beyond the tier one towers and change early game to be a lot more like League of Legends in tower damage.
What the experts are saying ...
"I would say this is a moderately-big patch. [...] Quite a few changes. A lot of little balance tweaks. Nothing too significant and everything that was significant got removed from Captain's Mode, so maybe something to abuse in pubs only."
"For me, the game is completely destroyed."
"There are maybe a half-a-dozen [sic] concepts that were introduced that are really kind of clowny, but I feel the majority of the changes are actually super good. In my opinion this is a super awesome patch.
"My advice to you guys for this new patch is there are a lot of changes. It's going to be a totally different game for the most part. Just play a lot of Dota. That's what I'm going to do. Play Dota until you understand the game in its current iteration -- not what it was."
For the rest of us ...
If you're like me and are not a super-hardcore player or just like a casual game of Dota here are some fun things you can look forward to:
- Typing "lmao" in chat will cause your hero to laugh.
- New desert-themed map with custom game type.
- Private chat channels to group with friends.
- Updated hero stats with graphs showing your performance over time on a specific hero.