The Essence of DotA is Not Dead in Dota 2's 7.00 update

Dota 2 isn't dead, no matter how badly the change-adverse want it to be after the total overhaul 7.00 patch.

From the outside looking in, Dota 2's 7.00 patch just seems like a big UI and quality of life update. But to actual players of IceFrog's long-running Warcraft 3 mod and its transition to the Source engine as Dota 2, 7.00 signals an end of an era more than just a substantial update.

Until this patch, the game was almost a full conversion of the original Warcraft mod with its own intricacies and small balancing changes. The original and Dota 2 even shared most of the same patches up to 2014 -- meanwhile, Valve's iteration grew into one of the world's leading eSports.

As of the 7.00 update, Dota 2 is its own beast and far separated from DotA itself. And as expected from a community that has been playing the game at 6.xx patches since 2005, many players can be described as nothing short of pissed off despite the changes being for the better. Adjusting to change is hard.

What exactly changed with 7.00?

To go into the extensive list of changes that happened with yesterday's update would take a lot more effort than someone like me could write up -- check out the update's numerous official pages for full changes -- but some things should be pointed out for those familiar and unfamiliar with DotA and Dota 2.

The first and most obvious changes hit the UI and map.

Map and UI changes

7.00 brought a total in-game UI overhaul, giving it a more modern and minimalist look. The bottom HUD is smaller and more compact, the new talent system's branches can be seen next to abilities, and when you click on another hero its inventory can now be seen on the left side of the screen instead of the focus being taken off of your hero.

The detractors to the UI changes are few, with the biggest being that custom HUD skins are now less discernible. A downside to those attached to their HUDs, but overall the new look is beneficial to new and experienced players alike even if it does need a scaling option.

The map changes are widespread and, for many classic DotA players, confusing. The full spectrum of changes would take a while to list, but here are some notable ones:

  • Roshan moved to the top side of the river, and Roshan's stats have been adjusted
  • Jungle terrain has been reworked so that each of the jungles have equal spawns and Ancients are no longer Spell Immune, but do have 70% Magic Resistance
  • Neutral camps and their spawn times have been adjusted as well as new Ancients being added
  • Tier 2 ~ 4 towers' damage has been adjusted
  • Huge Rune changes, including: Adding Rune Spots in each of the four jungles, no more Bounty Rune spawns in river, Powerup Runes will now only spawn in one spot in the river, and Bounty Runes will only recharge 2 Bottle charges
  • Shrines have been added to four spots across the map and inside both teams' bases. Shrines themselves give buffs with a 5-minute cooldown and can be teleported onto

This is by no means the complete list -- it's massive -- but it should give you an idea how big the map changes were. Dota 2's map is now almost completely different, with new ways to juke, new neutrals to farm, and new buffs via Shrines. With Bounty Runes popping in four total locations every two minutes, getting XP when supporting or jungling is easier than ever, provided you're staying safe and your team is on point.

The above map changes add more complexities to what was already a complicated game, but also makes gold and XP gain for non-laners less of an uphill battle. Does this make it "casualized"? No. But that doesn't stop a huge chunk of the community from crying about it.

Talent Trees

The map and UI seeing such big overhauls aren't what have so many players losing their minds, though. What's doing that is the addition of the Talent Trees and the removal of manual attribute leveling -- and it doesn't help that seeing attributes by holding the Alt key is currently broken.

The new Talent Tree system replaces the original, more free-form system of being able to choose between leveling a skill or pumping some beef into your attributes when you level up. This was a key component of a number of heroes' playstyles because some skills just aren't that useful -- but stats always are.

With this new system players are no longer able to forgo any skills for attributes. You now must pump levels into your skills until they are maxed, with additional attributes now coming solely from items, skills, and talents.

The talents themselves bring a new and more fresh scent to Dota 2, but even those with the worst eyesight can see the system was almost lifted from Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of The Storm.

Talents are certainly far more interesting than leveling attributes (+125 Cast Range on Jaki at level 15? Yes, please.) and it's incredibly difficult to say they don't add more variety to the game. The only real detractor to them is they are so similar to the system in Heroes of The Storm it's almost offensive. The system works, that's for sure, but Dota 2 is supposed to stand out from the pack.

The big complaints from the community at this point in time are in fact how much more similar this patch has made the game to its competition at first glance. It's a valid complaint, but it's not valid enough to want 7.00 and its new gameplay elements gone.

7.00 means Dota 2 is no longer DotA with a new coat of paint

The UI is easier to use, but "it looks like League of Legends". The Talent Trees are a million more times more interesting than leveling attributes but "don't have the essence of DotA".

DotA itself is an old game, having first made its way to the Warcraft 3 scene in 2004. Some sort of changes were bound to happen once Dota 2 finally finished adding all the DotA heroes and started adding their own. And here we are, 7.00, and we have the brand new hero Monkey King and the new vision of Valve and IceFrog to keep Dota not only fresh for players of all skill levels, but relevant in eSports scenes past our own bubble. To anyone on the outside, Dota 2 just seems like "a bunch of OP heroes doing a bunch of OP shit and also I have no idea what's going on".

There is now true distinguishment between DotA and Dota 2. If that means that Dota 2 has lost the essence of DotA, so be it -- it's finally time for the sequel to become an actual sequel and not a Source-engine conversion of an 11-year-old Warcraft 3 mod.

The changes in 7.00 are by no means perfect, not even counting the amount of confusion players are currently going through or the small bugs, but they've brought about a new and hopefully more fun age of Dota that will not only be able to keep longtime players interested but draw in new players to keep up that flow of fresh blood.

There's so much more to the 7.00 patch than I even bothered to touch on here, but it's still Dota 2. You're still going to play the game the same as you ever did before, just with the details a little different. The essence of DotA isn't dead, but it has changed to fit its more modern and high-earning eSport sequel.

You can say it's casualized if you want (but you won't be able to prove it), you can say the UI looks like League and the Talent Trees are right out of HotS. It doesn't matter. Because it's still Dota 2 and you're still going to come back to it because no other ARTS/MOBA is as complex nor as satisfying as Dota 2 is. And whether you want to admit it or not, that is especially the case with 7.00, which has effectively left DotA in the dust for good.

Published Dec. 13th 2016

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