Dota 2 received a mysterious update yesterday which looks to have information on a brand new feature coming soon. Fans have been very vocal to Valve implementing some way to decrease the barrier of entry to Dota, and it seems like Valve is finally doing it.
A Blog Statement
Months ago, Valve released a blog statement dictating their plans for Dota in the future. In it, they talked about their plans for improving matchmaking quality, which they have already been actively improving over the past few months. At the very end of the blog post, they finally acknowledged the elephant in the room. Fans have continuously discussed and theory crafted how matchmaking could be improved. However, the reality of the situation is that the volume of players is just too low to have a perfect system. This conversation eventually led to ways of introducing new players into Dota. Fortunately, it seems that Valve is woefully aware of this, and have put their efforts to try and remedy this.
At the very end of the blog post, Valve mentioned that they are working on the ‘New Player Experience’. What exactly that meant wasn’t completely clear. But just so you understand the whole picture, Dota 2 did have some sort of tutorial in its early years. In its inception, players had the option of playing a mini-campaign that introduced them to the fundamental concepts and mechanics of Dota 2. Check out this video if you’d like to see what it was like. Unfortunately, Valve decided to get rid of the feature. It’s speculated that every new gameplay update increasingly made the tutorial unstable; eventually forcing Valve to abandon it entirely.
A Reddit Post
The true consequences of such a decision seem to have only recently resonated with fans. Dota 2’s player numbers have been steadily dwindling over the years, and players are rushing for solutions to this. Fortunately, Valve is looking to introduce a similar concept to act as a sort of tutorial for the game. Reddit user u/kindxx brought a few interesting bits of data that hints at a possible tutorial mode. Check out his full post to see the data for yourself.
Today, there is an incomplete and barebones concept of a tutorial that can be used. However, it’s just that, incomplete. The tutorial will show you the extremely basic concepts, such as movement, and pushing. It also introduces a handful of different heroes to explain these concepts. Overall, its pretty underwhelming, and insufficient for a game as complex and difficult as Dota 2.
The New Player Experience?
The first mysterious file is named “The Basics”, which players have speculated to be some sort of introductory combat sequence. Perhaps a simulation of the early moments of the laning stage, where your hero will be asked to grab last hits from a creep wave.
These next few files detail some other new concepts that give us an idea of how this tutorial will shape up to be. The first segment of the tutorial will be focused on “Farming & Items”. The first mission is titled “Alchemist, The Farmer”. For the uninitiated, Alchemist is a hero in Dota 2, who’s main mechanic is his ability to rack up crazy amounts of gold or farm. Valve has opted for a thematic and lore-friendly approach to this game mode it seems, as no other Hero embodies greed as much as Alchemist does. After all, Greed is Good!
The “Last Hit Trainer” will likely reuse the already available Last Hit Trainer in the game. The game mode focuses entirely on your last hitting capabilities. Launching the trainer prompts you to select any one hero of the entire pool. Two Faerie Fire’s in hand, you are challenged to get as many last hits and denies out of 6 creep waves, or 3 minutes. After you are finished, you will be awarded a bronze, silver, gold or diamond tier. This is definitely an excellent tool for newer players to build good habits in laning situations. However, it also had room to be improved and was greeted with criticism from the professional and casual community alike.
Following the Last Hit Trainer, is a Neutral Farming Challenge, which will get players introduced to jungling and neutral creeps in general. After that, players can begin to explore stacking and pulling jungle camps, which is an extremely invaluable skill to have in Dota. Currently, being a subscriber to Dota + will give you specific timings for when stacks can be made. However, having a tutorial to properly train you in this skill is a much better solution. Finally, a “Shop Keepers Quiz” will attempt to teach players on items. Until just recently, you could try out the official “Item Quiz” here, but some of the items were outdated, and the game was pretty bare bones. Hopefully, Valve will expand on this, and make it more engaging and useful for newer players.
It seems that the tutorial becomes increasingly more and more challenging as you complete missions. The first mission in the “Taking Objectives” part, prompts you to ignore fights and take objectives. The appropriately named mission introduces a more advanced concept of split pushing and evaluating your options in a situation. Next “Roshan” will have everything about Rosh being explained, from its abilities to its timings, to the Aegis and other rewards it reaps. After that, players will be introduced to Rune mechanics and utilizing the bottle.
And finally, it shows that the next part of the tutorial details other important buildings on the map and their nuances. It will likely outline the use of “Barracks”, and the rewards and penalties for destroying one. Then “Backdoor Protection” which is a mechanic used to discourage split pushing. The final mechanic mentioned is rather curious. “Shrines” were buildings that provided AoE healing to your team, but have since been removed from the game in the last update. Perhaps they just haven’t removed the file from the latest patch.
This next sequence is one of the more exciting ones. It looks like players will be trained on team fighting abilities. What better hero to showcase the thrill of a teamfight than Earthshaker? The first mission is titled “Echo Slamma Jamma”, which is a throwback to the legendary casting moment (volume warning) and voice line. Earth Shakers ultimate is Echo Slam, which is as devastating as it is satisfying if executed well. Another important concept for players to understand is “Counter Initiation”. The next tutorial will look to explore this concept, and when to use it.
The last 2 missions are more defensive measures that are used in teamfights. The first mission titled “Saves & Healing” will likely prompt you to use fissure in a way to save a teammate getting ran at by enemy Heroes, and subsequently use a “Mekanism” (AoE healing item) to heal them. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that Valve is taking such an approach, where teamfights are broken up into these segments. The final mission is titled “Disables & Interrupts”, which will have your hero cancel an enemy’s spell (Black Hole?) with some sort of stun.
The first mission on this segment is labeled “Hero Mastery”, and is described as “4 matches on every hero”. Players already have some form of this in the largely forgotten “All Hero Challenge”. The concept is fairly self-explanatory, however, the task will take hundreds and hundreds of hours to complete. The final segment continues to highlighting more micro-skills such as specific hero skill shots and combos. “Pudge Hooks” and “Mirana Arrows” are notoriously difficult to hit, but can be incredibly impactful in a game. The mission could possibly have you try and land it on an enemy near a creep wave while having hap-hazard movements.
The sequence finally ends with 2 missions labeled “Lina Euls Combo” and “Disruptor Combo”. Both these heroes have very strong spells that can be hard to land without some sort of set up. Similar to the previous segment, players may be asked to land these spells on heroes running away from you. It will be interesting to see if Valve decides to add more of these missions later on, as although this group of heroes do set a good basic understanding of the concept, it does not give a player a complete view of them. Perhaps a Euls into Requiem of Souls combo, or even some sort of Invoker mini game? It will be interesting to see how the finished product will look.
Before wrapping up, the Reddit user mentioned that players will be periodically given “Creep Cards” as the game goes on. At the moment, it’s not completely clear what they are, but he speculates that they are some sort of Neutral Creep Encyclopedia that players can use to understand what abilities and stats certain jungle creeps have. Currently, there is not an in-game feature that does this, so it’s a pretty good guess.
Months ago, Valve added the “Last Hit Trainer” to the game. It was their first revision of some sort of training tool that a new player could make use of. At the time, it seemed like an actual push towards revamping the New Player Experience. As you can see, there are placeholders for 4 other challenges, and it’s still a mystery to this day to what those could have been. Although we will probably never know, it finally seems like Valve will put in the effort to revitalize the experience for a newbie trying out Dota 2 for the first time. Even veterans will have a crack at it, and hopefully find it somewhat challenging! Whether this new game mode will revitalize the player base is unknown. On its own, it’s probably not sufficient unless some marketing campaign is introduced. Possibly one during TI10? Only time will tell.