Dota 2’s New Frontiers update completely shakes up the game

Valve launched the massive New Frontiers update for Dota 2 yesterday, which exceeded all expectations for what would come next for the almost 10-year-old, free-to-play MOBA. The most notable change (among many others) is that the map is now 40% bigger than before, and Valve has retooled the layout of the map’s jungles. This will force players to adapt their strategies for juking to break line of sight with opponents, farming for XP and gold, and more. It has huge implications for shaking up competitive play, since pros know the ins and outs of the map — at least, as it used to be.

The patch notes for most Dota 2 updates are notoriously long, as the game has dozens of heroes and countless things to balance (and sometimes, bans to lay down on players). However, the notes on New Frontiers are, ahem, a new frontier in terms of length and depth. In case you were wondering, yes, people do read all of what’s in the patch notes. For instance, PurgeGamers on Twitch streamed for 14 hours straight just to read through the patch notes and get first impressions on the exhaustive amount of changes.

A GIF of Dota 2’s map expanding 40% in size. This is a new feature introduced in the New Frontiers update.

Animation: Valve

Along with the expansion, there are other major changes to the map that returning players will notice. Valve claims to have made improvements to its matchmaking, so skilled players can be evenly matched. There’s also a completely new hero type, called Universal, which some of the game’s heroes have been re-assigned to.

As for what’s changed on the map, Roshan, one of the game’s neutral creeps that either team can take on, can spawn in one of two new pit locations in the northwest and southeast corners, and he’s much stronger than before. And there are twin gates: portals that can be used to zip across the map (Roshan can use them, too — thanks, PC Gamer). But that barely scratches the surface.

Looking through the patch notes, it’s a delight to see the joking, self-aware tone that Valve takes in its notes to introduce fan-requested features and quality-of-life fixes that it’s only just now getting around to putting in. For instance, the ability squares in the HUD will now show a health cost, if they have one, not just a mana cost. The copy reads: “Not bad, huh? Actually kind of crazy nobody thought to put it there before. Anyway, it’s there now.”

On the Dota 2 subreddit, it’s clear that fans are happy, or at least interested, about what’s in New Frontiers. And last night, the game peaked at over 1 million players, its highest concurrent player count since March 2019. As someone who has appreciated Dota 2’s growth, yet doesn’t play the game, I’m always tempted to jump in when a big patch like this arrives. Perhaps, I’m ready for new frontiers, too.

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