Elevated: Full disclosure, heading into patch 7.28 I was expecting sweeping changes to core game mechanics and a totally reimagined metagame. When I read that Icefrog barely nudged the economy, ignored the map entirely and only minorly tweaked most of the heroes I was pretty disappointed and this may affect my initial thoughts.
KawaiiSocks: First thing I checked was whether they nerfed MKB. They did. Good patch. The new Aghanim’s Shard mechanic is certainly complicating things even further, but unlike neutral items it feels like it adds some depth to the game as well as cool new options. New items will take some time to figure out, but we finally have cast point manipulation from items, which opens a new, exciting set of doors.
Elevated: Hoodwink is an interesting combination of skills from other heroes. As a result, she feels kind of uninspired, basically borrowing several of the more annoying aspects from Windranger, Sniper and Witch Doctor. That being said, she is very strong and like most new heroes will need her numbers adjusted quite a bit. At the moment, it’s possible to flash farm, evade ganks, execute ganks, team fight, solo kill, push wave and scale into the late game as a right clicker. These are way too many strengths with basically no weaknesses. Every time a hero can seemingly do everything well and play in most roles it usually means the hero is way too strong and Hoodwink is no exception. Despite borrowing a lot of the kit, everything about the hero is well made and so overall I’d have to give Hoodwink a 7.5/10 for fun and execution. I can definitely see some fun combos with her.
KawaiiSocks: Really don’t understand the reasons for the hero's existence. I might sound like an old grouch, but there’s nothing unique about her. A more annoying and probably more powerful Windranger and Sniper hybrid isn’t something the game needed. Let’s also slap 3.6 Agility growth on the hero for some reason, why not, right? At least her starting and per level Strength make sure she won’t be too much of a nuisance. Though forest phase-walking and built-in evasion might disagree.
Elevated: The big story of this patch is the introduction of the Aghanim’s Shard. Somewhat playing off the lore of the Aghanim’s Labyrinth custom map we now have a consumable upgrade to every hero in the game (aside from Hoodwink). The 20 minute time restriction is a little awkward as many of the Shard upgrades are either really powerful or really memey, creating a pretty diverse impact at that moment in the game.
Some heroes will likely be defined by their Shard upgrade while other will pretty much just play as usual. All in all, it’s a pretty cool change that will give hardcore fans of the game even more to tinker with an optimize on every single hero. This also means that there will be a lot of really terrible builds and anyone relatively new to the game will struggle mightily with learning everything.
Personally, this is the first time I have read a patch and felt like I just don’t really care about learning half of the changes. I don’t really foresee much of the current meta shifting once people figure out that most of these creative builds are losing them MMR. In the long run, there will definitely be some hidden gems and cool interactions but the economy continues to slow the game and force carry-centric play around massive team fights.
KawaiiSocks: Found myself being weirdly optimistic about Aghanim’s Shards. This looks like a gameplay mechanic with player agency and the potential for counterplay from the enemy, rather than… you know, what we got with neutral item introduction.
Speaking of which, it looks like neutral items are now in some form of rotation. Some items are getting “cycled out” and it is distinctly different from the only correct option of “deleted Neutral Items from the game after realising how terrible of a game mechanic it is”, which is a shame, but we will get there eventually. Especially after players will see how unbalanced minute seven Chipped Vest and Possessed Mask can be.
The new actual items are kind of interesting though: the Armor mechanics weren’t touched, but it feels like there are a lot more scaling magic damage options. Eternal Shroud is just a masterclass in game design elegance. Witch Blade is theoretically very cool and can even bring some heroes into meta on its own. Mage Slayer on the other hand is kind of unconvincing. It should be renamed to “Tank Slayer”, since the best use for it I can think of is against heroes like Bristleback and Axe, not your typical Zeus, Lina, QoP who are going to die anyways, if you close the gap to them.
Elevated: Aside from the Aghanim’s Shards, most heroes got nothing or very minor tweaks. A few received significant work but a lot of it was reworks to a prior era of the hero (Lifestealer from Dota 1 anybody?). Several new items were introduced and a couple of them look pretty fun. For the most part though, the new items tend to be late game upgrades and fairly uncreative combinations to free up slots. The new Neutral items are probably the best designed parts of the 7.28 additions but most are either utilitarian or on the supremely wacky side (Giant’s Ring????). Item development seems to be where the Dota devs have taken the most creative liberty of late but a lot of them feel like the team just wrote down whatever made them laugh the hardest.
KawaiiSocks: Hero changes were definitely quite minor, Aghanim’s Shard aside. Several things did stand out, however: Elevated talked about Alchemist being one of the most important heroes in the game, and he did receive some pretty crazy buffs. Not to actual power level, but rather late game scaling, so it could be really fun. Bloodseeker can now be a DPS core once again, it feels. In some specific matchups, certainly, but the option is great. Vector-targeting Ice Wall on Invoker is probably going to be bigger than people think, while Leshrac got a very scary new Aghanim’s right after players finally started experimenting with the old one. Overall: many new things to consider and first impressions are probably wrong. Though while the balance of power didn’t change drastically, there are many, many new things to test out, which is a perfect holiday present.
Elevated: Overall, the patch provides some fun theory crafting and plenty of room for experimentation but is significantly less earth shattering than most of the recent post-TI updates.
KawaiiSocks: Ditto. Agree that the changes aren’t as drastic as we are used to getting around this time, but for some reason I feel like it’s a good thing. Even in the previous patch, after almost six month of it, we saw professional players finding something new to play with and abuse. Maybe longer patch cycles with clear communication is the future of Dota? I certainly wouldn’t mind, as long as neutral items are deleted somewhere along the way.
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