Valve hopes the latest Dota 2 update will make it more 'welcoming' for new players

The multiplayer online battle arena is not the easiest genre in the world to dip a tentative toe into. There's a lot of information, and learning the ropes in the midst of a hyper-competitive online milieu that's not known for being forgiving to newcomers can be off-putting, to say the least. To help ease new Dota 2 players into the action, Valve recently made a couple of changes to the game that it says are intended to help them "face as few barriers as possible" when they start playing. 

First, the hero selection system has been changed so that players will only have access to a "curated group" of 20 heroes, out of a currently total of 113, for their first 25 games. "This introductory group consists of heroes that we’ve learned are very successful in helping new players learn and enjoy the game," the Dota team explained. 

Even more importantly (in my opinion, anyway) new players will now be matched only against others with "consistently high behavior scores," to ensure that they have "a good social experience while they are first trying to learn the game." 

That's a good idea—I'd go so far as to say it's an excellent one—but it's also a tacit admission that the Dota 2 social situation isn't consistently good, and is in fact so bad that people need to be protected from it. It's hard to be overly critical of the way Valve has handled Dota's evolution so far (it's quite the success, after all) but if you have to lock out a significant portion of your existing player base just so they won't chase away newbies, then maybe that's an issue that needs a more head-on approach. 

The International Dota 2 Championships, or just "The International" as it's better known, begins on August 7, with a total prize pool of more than $23 million. Pick up some practical tips on how to enjoy the spectator side of the game as a newcomer right here.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.