The next patch should be coming some time soon and now is a great time to think about what changes we would like to see the most. While the current iteration of the game is quite well balanced and doesn’t have any glaring problems, it is still getting stale and some shake up feels slightly overdue.
The addition of neutral items was very controversial in the beginning and remains so among some players, but overall there is nothing inherently wrong with the system. It adds some randomness to the game, sure, but the impact of this randomness is limited, at least until 60+ minutes into the game.
However, there are several items that aren’t simple trinkets, but rather full-on qualitative changes, which can and at some point will turn a hero matchup on its head in a high-level professional game. We believe a preemptive strike towards some of these items is necessary.
Clumsy Net, Spider Legs, Flicker, and Minotaur Horn are all potentially problematic. We are not saying they are the most powerful items in their respective tiers, but their active abilities can, depending on the matchup, do too much. They are also useful in all other matchups.
Minotaur Horn or Flicker against Disruptor or Riki, Clumsy Net as a kill condition on a hero who relies on mobility, and many more other problems arise from the inclusion of these items. And it’s not like they are in any way inferior to other items without their actives: Spider Legs are essentially free boots, Minotaur Horn gives a lot of Strength, while Flicker gives a sizable MS bonus.
Sure, they are going to be truly game-breaking in a very low amount of games, but this amount is definitely non-trivial, and we firmly believe that some adjustments are needed.
A solution three years in the making. Patch 7.07 lowered the deny XP to 25%, but this value has steadily risen and is now 50%, which works decently well on paper, balancing the strategy and execution aspects of the game. We would like to argue that returning it to its original value of 70% or closer to it might be a step in the right direction, however.
Yes, outplaying your opponent in lane and taking control of it is an integral part of the game and the low deny XP is definitely a part of it. However, while it does allow more mechanically-gifted players to excel, it simultaneously lowers the pool of viable heroes. You need to be able to stay in lane and trade hits and creeps, otherwise your hero gets too far behind.
Over the years it resulted in a series of band-aid solutions of simply buffing laning stage for certain heroes. Extra starting armor, more attack damage, free damage block on melee heroes and so on have all aimed at solving the problem that the deny XP change created and it is still not enough in some cases.
We firmly believe that Dota is at its best when all heroes, regardless of their laning capabilities, are viable. There are still going to be good and bad matchups and there will still be a way for a team to take an advantage in lane, but the impact on the midgame isn’t going to be as pronounced. Taking a hit in the early game for a potentially better position later down the road should be an option.
Armor is slightly out of control right now. The problem is apparent only on heroes with exceptionally high values, but it is there and it must be dealt with. There is definitely something wrong when the Divine Rapier is getting outclassed by MKB in certain matchups, and while our initial impression was that MKB is overtuned, we now feel that it is not MKB, but rather physical resistance that is to blame.
On the other hand, the last several years were great for magic damage dealers: spell amplification and “Spell Immunity no longer gives 100% Magic Resistance” made sure they stayed relevant damage-wise until later portions of the match and was overall healthy for the game.
Perhaps a very small adjustment is all it will take to tackle the problem, but the adjustment, while not necessary, would certainly be welcome.
We deliberately didn’t discuss any potential hero changes, since most meta shifts in Dota are not a result of the power level of certain heroes in a vacuum, but rather a result of many small things working together.
Most Dota systems are currently in a pretty good place: the economy is working well, both in terms of gold and XP; the Radiant-Dire balance is in a very impressive state and the breadth of viable strategies is undeniably good. Small and accurate adjustments to some systems might be all it takes to make the game even better and we are excited about what changes Valve will come up with.
What are you hoping for the most in the upcoming patch?