By Mohammad Abubakr
Recently Valve has been spoiling us Dota 2 fans with frequent big updates including new game modes, heroes, and game features. Once again, Valve has pleased its fans with a massive update for Chinese New Year; The New Bloom Festival. This amazing update brings with it a new game mode, two new heroes, and an event for the Chinese New Year. It seems like the delay for Diretide was due to other massive projects being worked on in the background.
When you first turn on Dota 2 after updating, you immediately notice the new Chinese look. The map looks beautiful and is visually appealing while not being distracting from the game play. Even the loading screens have been updated to use the emblem seen above. It is the little details such as fireworks at the beginning and end of matches that make the new look great. Valve has put a lot of work into the new map and I am glad it is not simply a recolor as is done for many events in other mobas.
Currently the New Bloom Festival has players earning Flamesalt Ingots and Jade Tokens simply by playing Dota 2. Jade Tokens can only be received if at least one player in the match has purchased Fortune's Favor. These tokens are similar to the premium tokens in past events and can be exchanged for prizes. However, this time you can even exchange these tokens for keys that can be used to open the event's chests! This feature has definitely been the selling point as you can increase your rate of receiving event currencies while still getting to open chests without having to purchase additional keys.
I love the new tower design.
Flamesalt Ingots are harvested by playing regular matches and can be used to purchase equipment when fighting the Year Beast. These items include Fireworks and Lanterns which can be used to help defeat the Year Beast by either distracting, disabling or damaging him depending on the type of item used.
At this point we do not know exact details about the upcoming game mode, “Battle the Year Beast”, except what we can see from community members digging into the game files. This battle will make use of the items purchased with Flamesalt Ingots and will reward players with loot depending on the damage done to the Year Beast. This loot will be parts of the Year Beast which can then be used with the event's crafting recipes. I assume the battle will be similar to the previous raid boss style battles we all have come to know and love.
Players may also notice a new My Offering tab inside their armory during the New Bloom Festival. This new tab allows players to offer their cosmetic items in hopes of getting something in return. “Twice your Offering will be collected, and wealth left in its place.” We cannot know for sure what items we will get but be sure to at least offer up all your duplicates or chests. Some players are even calling this the Chest Disposer.
The Year Beast is almost here!
My favourite addition brought with this patch is the new Ability Draft game mode. This chaotic yet fun game mode gives teams of five random heroes and pools their abilities along with two additional heroes' abilities into a pool. Then begins the drafting phase except you are not drafting heroes, you are drafting abilities! Ever wanted to play Sniper with fury swipes, blink, untouchable, and finger? Now you can! Well, if you get lucky... Players take turns picking out skills with no duplicates allowed, making this fun game mode also slightly strategic. You really need to think out your spells before you pick and have backups ready in case your first choices are taken. Go ahead, experiment, rage, and have fun! This game mode is meant entirely for entertainment purposes so don't expect it to be balanced.
It is important to note the Ability Draft only unlocks upon reaching level 11. This is reasonable as it would not be wise to overwhelm new players with so many choices before they even know all the abilities. Level 11 takes enough time to reach for players to recognize and understand most abilities in Dota 2.
Valve also introduced Replay Takeover mode, allowing friends to take control of any replay and change history. You and nine friends can answer all your “What if...” questions using this feature. Unfortunately, only replays created after the New Bloom update are compatible so we will need to wait until the next International to try and see if we could make better plays.
Grab your friends and rewrite history!
This update has also introduced Terrorblade and Phoenix to the Dota 2 hero pool leaving only five heroes remaining to be ported from WC3 Dota. Both heroes are a blast to play and each bring their own unique style to Dota 2.
Terrorblade is an agility hero focused on dealing damage through the use of images. His skills allow him to make illusions of himself and enemies that can be used to deal reduced damage. He is played as an agility carry building items to increase right click damage output through the use of items such as Drums of Endurance (which now has 5 stacks!) and Manta Style for even more illusions.
This hero requires some farm before he can make it into the fight due to his low survivability. While he does gain a massive damage boost through Metamorphosis and can melt enemies without any damage items, he still needs items to live through the fights. Any coordinated teams will lock him down to kill him within seconds. I can see Terrorblade being picked up in competitive games in the future and we might expect to see a nerf to Metamorphosis.
In a typical game, you want to be farming some items before heading into fights as it can be very difficult to get close to enemies and you can expect to be kited due to Terrorblade having no gap closing abilities. For this reason, items such as Drums of Endurance, Manta Style, and Sange and Yasha are recommended. As far as skills go, Metamorphosis is your strongest ability and should be given priority. Reflect is great to lock down kills but due to its short range, Conjure Image is preferred early on.
The Ability Draft UI makes drafting abilities simple and quick.
Phoenix is a strength hero who makes use of his ability to revive and deals damage by hurting himself. You would not expect an intelligence hero to rely on their health for spells but Phoenix is an exception. Phoenix is quite difficult to play and is a high risk low reward hero. I do not see this hero being picked up in competitive play in his current state. Phoenix could definitely use some buffs in the future.
Phoenix looks great and is a blast to play!
However, Phoenix is a lot of fun to play due to his unique abilities such as Icarus Dive which causes Phoenix to dive forward in an arc dealing damage over time and slowing enemy units. Without any input, he will orbit back to his original position but another spell can be cast to immediately cancel the dive. This is a great ability to initiate, poke, and even escape. All of Phoenix's spells take quite a bit of his HP to cast and with 0 armor, Phoenix quickly melts.
The idea is to use Phoenix's ultimate, Supernova, to end his own life for a chance to be reborn. However, the enemy can simply hit this burning sun, which looks amazing by the way, 5-10 times and cancel this spell. Any coordinated team can quickly finish off this egg. You can couple Icarus Dive to cast Supernova away from the battle but that defeats the purpose of the damage over time done by Supernova. I think Phoenix is a blast to play but could use some work when it comes to viability.
Players will want to focus on harassing enemies using Fire Spirits and build items to increase survivability. These items can include Mekansm, Heart of Tarrasque, and Shiva's Guard. With items increasing survivability, Phoenix can cast spells without fear of being melted to death. If you are ahead and want to deal additional burn damage, Radiance is not a bad choice on Phoenix.
In conclusion, Valve has once again pleased its fans. The New Bloom Festival update is great. I'm looking forward to fighting another raid boss in Dota 2, something you would not expect from an ARTS game. While this update did introduce two new heroes, surprisingly they were not the best addition brought with the update. Ability Draft has been a blast to play and I definitely recommend all players to give it a try. The main focus has yet to come... Let us all work to defeat the Year Beast and earn some rare loot!