Valve has dropped Patch 7.26, the latest major balance update for Dota 2—just one month after implementing the last one. In what might be the shortest changelog for a numbered balance patch to date, it seems that lead developer IceFrog is scaling back the rampant power creep that has been growing in Dota 2 for years now.
There are only four bullet points present in the patch notes, with Valve noting that these systemic changes have been put in place ahead of specific item and hero tweaks that will come at a later date. Regardless of the brevity of the changelog, however, the adjustments themselves have significant implications on gameplay going forward.
The first change reverts the extra benefits that the primary attributes—those being strength, agility, and intelligence—provide in the form of magic resistance, movement speed, and spell amplification respectively. These benefits (called “perks” by Valve) were added to the game in Patch 7.07, which also introduced both Dark Willow and Pangolier as new heroes.
The removal of these perks is within the realm of pulling the throttle back on power creep. No longer will heroes take less damage or deal more just for having more stats, for instance, and stacking inexpensive stat sticks like Null Talismans or Crowns will be less effective going forward. Heroes, items, and abilities that scale accordingly will now have to rely entirely on things like spell amplification talents as a result.
Heroes that will be most affected by this reversion are those that have naturally high stat growth per level. Examples include Terrorblade with his 4.8 agility per level, Centaur Warrunner with his 4.6 strength per level, and Pugna with his whopping 5.2 intelligence per level. These heroes will now get less for their stats overall, while those with average to low stat growth won’t really feel the effects too much.
The second systemic change comes in the form of a ten percent decrease in gold bounties from killing units. This includes hero kills, creep kills (both neutral creeps and lane creeps), and buildings. Although small on paper, this adjustment will add up fairly quickly, particularly during the laning stage when killing ranged creeps for their relatively high gold bounty is important. Jungling will also be less valuable, at least in terms of raw farm.
Paired with this sweeping change is the cutting of kill streak bounties by half, which will curb large swings in momentum from now on. No longer will heroes that go on rampages early on give huge sums of gold for giving up kill streaks in single instances, which should definitely make instant comebacks much less frequent. Over the long term, this should cause the end of both the early and mid game to come at a later point.
The two changes in gold bounty values are likely in response to the sub-40 minute games in pro level matches as of late, which have been prevalent in online leagues like ESL One Los Angeles. The short average game length is exacerbated by the current “deathball” style metagame, which focuses on brawling early and snowballing into an unstoppable push fueled by tanky and fast-moving heroes like Lycan and Death Prophet.
Whether or not teams will follow suit, however, remains to be seen in future matches. We won’t have to wait long to find out though, as the patch will be used in official games starting immediately.