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Dota 2's 6.87 update: stronger, faster, sillier

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Gif by Gunpoint/Heat Signature artist John Roberts

Three Lane Highway

Documenting Chris’ complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2. To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.

Dota doesn’t evolve by increments. There are adjustments and hotfixes from time to time, sure, but this is a game of dramatic shifts. Even after all these years, Dota patch notes have retained their power to shock—perhaps because this is such a complex game, requiring thousands of hours of slowly-acquired knowledge with little hand-holding. When the underlying rules of this complex competitive sandbox get changed, years of ingrained intuition get thrown out and need to be replaced.

That is what has happened over the course of the last 24 hours with the release of the 6.87 update. It’d be hyperbole to call this ‘the biggest patch ever’, or anything like that—after all, I felt that way when they moved Roshan, when they introduced magic lifesteal, and so on. New patches are always the biggest patch ever. 6.87 feels like a particularly big one, however. We’ll be figuring out its ramifications for a while, and there’s loads left to be discovered.

There are an enormous amount of changes in this update. Many heroes have been changed in variously subtle and dramatic ways, and it’d take an extensive essay to go through the impact of every subtle mechanical change (like the alterations to creep aggro), the changes to the map, and the impact of every new item. If you’d like a thorough overview, put aside a couple of hours and check out this reddit thread. You’ll find a bunch of long Twitch analysis sessions by professional and high-ranked players, which is a good way to get a sense of the patch as a whole.

In this article, then, I’m going to run through a couple of specific changes to highlight notable buffs, nerfs, and silly sideways shifts. It’s too early to say what 6.87 is going to do to the top-level meta, but here’s a taste of Dota 2 in the immediate aftermath of this huge update.

Strength is stronger, intelligence is… different

There are a lot of top-level changes in this patch, but here’s one you need to be aware of. Hitpoints now scale more from strength, and a hero’s basic health pool is larger. It’s not enough to make a huge difference in the opening minutes of the game, unless you end up in one of those close-fought early teamfights around a bounty rune: expect most characters to be one or two auto-attacks tankier.

Later on, though, it amounts to a chunky buff to strength heroes. Given that the previous metagame was dominated by intelligence and agility, this is the start of a shift back towards Dota’s beefy frontliners that will continue elsewhere in the patch. If 6.87 had a theme song, it would be this.