Valve casually upends the Dota 2 meta by adding innate powers to all 124 heroes

Foour characters fromo Dota 2. Axe, Tidehunter, Lion, and Underlord.
(Image credit: Valve)

Dota 2 has gotten a particularly game-bending update this month. Despite its simple name, Gameplay Update 7.36 has changed how all 124 heroes in Dota 2 play by fundamentally tweaking the structure of a character: Every single hero now has an innate ability of some kind, up from a mere... 7 heroes before. To boot, every single hero now has two Facets, a  binary choice of gameplay styles or bonuses that you choose before the match even starts.

The changes are a range of twists: From near-complete reworks and daunting shakeups to how a character plays to the return of abilities removed from Dota ages ago or fairly simple tweaks that just reinforce how the character already played.

Characters with fairly iconic playstyles have seen their most characteristic ability—the one most anyone buys at level 1 or 2—become an innate with a lower-powered extra "level 0" of sorts to start from. Others are entirely new stuff: Hoodwink can make you hit a tree instead of herself! Centaur Warrunner just gets free bonus max health every two minutes! Between innate and facets, Morphling is even more complicated in a way that I find difficult to convey in a single sentence!

The innate abilities are of course just layer one of the new tweaks. Each character now has two facets that you can pick between before the game starts, either to customize toward a playstyle you enjoy or to counter-build the heroes your opponents have chosen. Fan-favorite Pudge, for example, can boost his hacking-smacking Dismember or make his grabbing hook deal damage based on how far it drags enemies.

That's a pretty simple example. Other characters' facets offer comparable major tweaks: Wraith King can choose between becoming a potent skeleton summoner or making his cursed sword echo its damage against enemies after a few seconds.

This is the second game-shaking update in two years for Dota 2. Last year's 7.33 New Frontiers update changed the entire map by expanding its boundaries by about 40% and adding new base gates, new structures, and teleportation portals. It was a huge change that we called "basically Dota 3 now" and while I can't take that statement back for Jody MacGregor I can say that if that was the start of a change to Dota 3, then patch 7.36 is the real end of making this game something quite new.

You can read the entirety of Gameplay Update 7.36, with all the innates and talents, on Valve's Dota 2 website.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.