On the whole, Dota 2 has always been more of a macro game. While a player’s choice of hero is important, it’s never a decision made in a vacuum. Skilled players will know when and how to use each hero, depending on the situation. While heroes have always been the main attraction, they have never been the sole factor in victory. Lately, however, it seems Valve have changed their design philosophy when it comes to new heroes. Looking at the latest releases, it seems Dota 2’s heroes are getting more complex.
[Related: What’s Wrong With Dota 2 Primal Beast?]
While almost all games suffer from feature creep eventually, they usually do it at different paces. While games like LoL have been moving forward at breakneck speeds, Dota is historically more reserved. With so many aspects to the game, Valve has been able to keep a steady supply of updates going. New additions have typically added depth or clarity to areas of the game without trying to wildly rework them. But recently, it feels like Valve’s new heroes are starting to tip the balance. Heroes like Marci and Dawnbreaker pack a lot of tools into one kit, potentially overshadowing other game mechanics.
Dawnbreaker is very popular in the meta and is just over a year old. Thus, she’s a prime suspect for evidence of feature creep. Looking at her abilities, it’s clear that something is different. Her Q is a chain of three swings followed by a final slam, something very reminiscent of LoL. While LoL obviously isn’t a direct comparison to Dota, they are siblings, with LoL having far more complex characters. Her W is also very reminiscent of a LoL ability. Dawnbreaker throws out her hammer, pulling it back later to create a fire trail. While this on its own isn’t damning evidence, it is another mechanically complex ability. Most heroes derive much of their complexity from the items they buy, which shore up weaknesses and augment strengths. Dawnbreaker’s more complex abilities allow her to have more general options than most, even when items are factored in.
One of the most noticeable forms of feature creep is increased mobility. In a game like Dota, mobility and positioning are very powerful. There are several measures in place to balance out the power of mobility. TP scrolls have a long cooldown, and Blink Daggers are expensive, for instance. With that in mind, looking at Dawnbreaker’s ultimate reveals some worrying signs. Solar Guardian allows Dawnbreaker to teleport to allies wherever they may be, healing them while damaging and stunning enemies. While its starting cooldown is 120 seconds, this decreases to 90 seconds at rank 4. With her level 15 talent, Dawnbreaker can have Solar Guardian on a 70-second cooldown by level 18. While this ability on its own is extremely powerful, players should remember that they still have TP scrolls. By staggering the cooldowns of them and Solar Guardian, Dawnbreaker can be almost omnipresent.
While Dawnbreaker has an incredible map presence, Marci has tremendous close-range mobility and utility. Her abilities work best with a friend and allow her to set up allies for kills while staying safe herself. Her Q, Dispose, allows her to toss around units, whether enemy or ally. This means she can not only fling allies to safety but also toss enemies into her team. Combined with her W, it allows her to control the battlefield while staying out of danger. Rebound, her second ability, allows her to leapfrog off units, dealing damage and slowing enemies when she lands. These two abilities can combine in numerous ways to get allies where they want and enemies where they don’t. Like Dawnbreaker, her E isn’t too outrageous but is certainly powerful. Both Dawnbreaker’s Luminosity and Marci’s Sidekick help keep them and their allies healthy through sustained offense.
Also like Dawnbreaker, Marci’s ultimate lets her leap into the thick of the fight. Unleash turns Marci’s attacks into bursts of hits, which slows enemy attack and movement speed in an area. This can replace an escape option in the right situation, allowing Marci to Rebound into the fray. While it doesn’t grant Marci as much control as Dispose or Rebound, it is a very complex ability. Compared to something like Omniknight’s Guardian Angel or Wraith King’s Reincarnation, Unleash feels out of place.
While Dawnbreaker and Marci definitely seem to toe the line, they may just be a fluke. With only them and possibly Primal Beast to look at, it’s really too early to tell. Some may take these as a sign that Dota 2’s heroes are getting more complex. Others though may see these as merely an experiment on Valve’s part. Whatever the case, the fact remains that Dota is still around, and likely isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
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