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Dota 2's big Outlanders Update goes live with new heroes and dramatically changed gameplay

(Image credit: Valve)

Void Spirit and Snapfire, the new Dota 2 heroes that were revealed in August, are now live in the game as part of the big Outlanders Update that rolled out today. Known less poetically as the 7.23 gameplay update, Outlanders also adds a new neutral building type called Outposts and neutral item drops, increases hero levels to 30, and makes major changes to core gameplay.

The first new hero, Void Spirit, is the fourth and eldest of Dota 2's "spirit brethren," which also includes Storm, Earth, and Ember. "Able to step into and out of the mortal plane at will, he easily outmaneuvers opponents to strike from wherever he desires, calling upon the powers of the aether to shield him in times of need," the update page says.

Here's what he brings to the fight:

  • Aether Remnant - Void Spirit dispatches a remnant aspect of himself to stand sentinel over a small area. The remnant peers in a single direction, waiting to pull in and damage enemies that cross its gaze.
  • Dissimilate - Void Spirit temporarily fades into the aether, creating a number of portals through which he can reassemble himself and cause damage to enemies in the area where he reappears.
  • Resonant Pulse - Void Spirit wraps himself in a protective shield that absorbs physical damage and emits a single damaging pulse around him. The shield gains increased damage absorption for each enemy hero the pulse hits.
  • Astral Step - Void Spirit consumes a charge to rip through reality into the astral plane, damaging all enemies along the rift path and inflicting a void mark that slows and detonates for significant damage.

More interesting, I think, is Beatrix Snapfire, a goblin grandmother on a dragon toad named Mortimer who will bake you cookies or blow your face off, as the mood strikes: "The Outlands are littered with the bones of bandits and ne'er-do-wells who thought to take advantage of her small stature and propensity for kindness."

This is what she can do:

  • Scatterblast - Snapfire unloads with a wide blast from her trusty scattergun that damages and slows enemies. Particularly effective at point-blank range.
  • Firesnap Cookie - Snapfire feeds a potent cookie to Mortimer or an ally, causing them to hop a short distance. The hopping unit stuns and damages enemies in the landing zone.
  • Lil' Shredder - Snapfire unleashes a volley of fixed-damage attacks with her lizard-mounted battle cannons, gaining rapid fire and bonus attack range while slowing the attack speed of enemies she hits.
  • Mortimer Kisses - Snapfire rears up on Mortimer, guiding his aim as he launches burning globs of firespit that damage on impact and linger on the ground to slow enemies and cause more damage over time.

Outposts, the new neutral buildings, are located where Side Shops used to be, and can be controlled by right-clicking for six seconds, although more players channeling will hasten the process. Capturing an outpost grants an immediate XP bonus, followed by further bonuses at five-minute intervals, and holding them also grants an unobstructed view of the surrounding area. They cannot be captured during the opening ten minutes of a game, however, so plan accordingly.

Unique new items may now drop from neutrals that can be shared with allies but not sold. Five tiers of items will drop over the course of a game, and each drop within a tier will halve the odds of subsequent drops: There's a ten percent chance that a Tier 1 item will drop during the 5-15 minute window, for instance, and if one does, the odds reduce to five percent for the next drop, and so forth. There are 62 unique neutral items in total, and only one of each item type will drop for each team.

Taken altogether, the changes represent a major overhaul of Dota 2, to the point that some fans, and pros too, have taken to calling it Dota 3.

Others had comparable reactions:

Yeah, Virtus.pro got two, I couldn't make up my mind. 

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the changes. Reactions on Reddit and to the Outlanders Update tweet express concerns about the extent of the changes, the heightened difficulty it presents for new players, and—as always—the general sense that the game isn't what it used to be (and thus isn't as good as it used to be). But the overriding feeling seems to be one of excitement for a major shakeup of such a well-established game.

Here's the full rundown of general gameplay updates. Full details on the Outlanders Update are at dota2.com.

Courier:

  • Each player now has their own courier automatically
  • Courier now gains levels when your hero gains levels
  • Courier movement speed reduced from 380 to 275
  • Courier health reduced from 75 to 70
  • Courier now provides 85 GPM while it is alive (this replaces the base 91 GPM that previously existed)
  • Courier passively gains +10 movement speed, +10 health and +2 GPM increase per level
  • Courier gains flying movement at level 5
  • Courier gains Speed Burst active ability at level 10 (6-second duration +50% MS, 120 CD)
  • Courier gains ability to use wards at level 15
  • Courier gains Shield active ability at level 20 (2s duration, 200 CD)
  • Courier gains ability to use items in general at level 25
  • Courier vision reduced from 350 to 200
  • Courier team bounty is now 25 + 5 * Level, xp is 35 + 20 * Level
  • Courier respawn time changed from 120/180 ground/flying to 50 + 7 * Level
  • Courier Return Items ability will now cause the courier to return home even if it doesn't have items

Economy:

  • Observer Wards no longer cost gold
  • Heroes now start with 3 Town Portal Scrolls
  • Gold earned from killing an Observer Ward will now always be given to the player that bought the true sight
  • Heroes that have recently applied damage or a debuff on an enemy hero that dies are now considered part of the area assist gold even if they are no longer alive or in that area
  • Assist gold distribution multiplier for Net Worth ranking factor in the area is changed from multiplying based on the heroes in the area, to globally.
  • Net Worth Ranking factor for Gold changed from 1.3->0.7 to 1.6->0.4

General:

  • Map layout redesigned
  • Heroes can now level up to 30. Once you get to level 30, you unlock the entire talent tree. XP requirement for the levels are 3500/4500/5500/6500/7500. Respawn time does not increase past 25. XP bounties max out at level 25 bounty values.
  • Spell Immunity no longer grants 100% Magic Resistance (this means that all spells that are able to pierce spell immunity now deal damage as well)
  • Removed Side Shops
  • Bottle has been removed from the Secret Shop
  • All Secret Shop items are now exclusively in the Secret Shop (this means Ring of Health and Void Stone are no longer in the base)
  • Tier 2 Towers HP increased from 1900 to 2000
  • Tier 2 Tower Armor increased from 15 to 16
  • Tier 2 Tower Damage increased from 152 to 175
  • Tier 2+ towers night vision increased from 800 to 1100
  • Tower Glyph multishot targets increased from 2 to 4
  • Glyph duration increased from 6 to 7
  • Improved input processing to feel snappier, as well as fixing some rare input drop bugs
  • Denied towers now give half of the bounty to the team that denies it and half to the other team (instead of 0 to both teams)
  • Siege damage against heroes increased from 85% to 100%
  • Fountain damage increased from 230 to 275
  • Fountain now has 20% Accuracy

Neutral Units Balance:

  • Neutral Cloak Aura no longer stacks
  • Neutral Harpy Stormcrafter: Max mana reduced from 400 to 150
  • Neutral Harpy Stormcrafter: Mana regeneration increased from 1 to 3
  • Neutral Mud Golem: Hurl Boulder damage reduced from 125 to 75
  • Neutral Ghost: Frost Attack move slow from 20 to 25%
  • Neutral Ghost: Frost Attack attack slow from 20 to 25%
  • Neutral Vhoul Assassin: Poison debuff now applies 35% Regen Reduction
  • Neutral Centaur Conqueror: War Stomp cooldown reduced from 20 to 12
  • Neutral Dark Troll Summoner: Ensnare cooldown reduced from 20 to 15
  • Neutral Dark Troll Summoner: Raise Dead cooldown reduced from 25 to 18
  • Neutral Ancient Thunderhide: War Drums Aura no longer provides attack damage bonus
  • Neutral Ancient Thunderhide: War Drums Aura now provides 40% Accuracy
  • Neutral Ancient Thunderhide: War Drums Aura attack speed bonus increased from 15 to 25
  • Neutral Ogre Frostmage: Armor bonus reduced from 8 to 6
  • Neutral Ogre Frostmage: Slow now works against ranged units as well
  • Neutral Ogre Frostmage: Attack slow increased from 20 to 30
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.