Dota 2 recently received an update designed with new players in mind. Specifically, it makes a pair of changes to the way newcomers will play the game that should help them feel more welcome and less overwhelmed; keeping their hero options limited early on and pairing them with the best the community has to offer.
The MOBA landscape is pretty crowded these days. From SMITE to League of Legends, Paragon and beyond, there are new entries joining the fray on a regular basis. While most MOBAs try to do something a little different to set them apart from the pack, they're all basically competing for the attention of the same experienced player group.
When it comes to newcomers, though, there's no telling what one game will offer over the next that manages to hook a new devotee. According to a recent update on the Dota 2 blog, however, the folks at Valve seem to believe that first impressions are a major factor. To that end, they're making a couple of changes to the game that make so much sense, we're surprised they haven't been implemented sooner. They'll be limiting which heroes players can pick in the early goings, then pairing them with players who have proven to be solid members of the community.
MOBAs, at their core, are usually pretty simple games. Once you pick a character, you only have a limited number of abilities to utilize and a limited number of objectives to complete. Anyone who has played a game like Dota 2 long enough, though, will tell you that there is a ridiculous amount of complexity hidden under the surface. From team composition, to knowing when to use your abilities for the greatest effect, to how to partner with other players' abilities and how to best take advantage of your enemies' weaknesses, there's a ton of strategy and math going on under the hood.
Valve wants to make sure players discover that complexity naturally and over time. To that end, players new to Dota 2 will only be able to pick from a group of 20 heroes through their first 25 rounds of play. These heroes have been determined to be the easiest to learn and most engaging for new players, which means those newbies shouldn't feel overwhelmed by abilities they can't easily understand. As they play more of the game and start to understand the ins and outs of Dota 2, they'll eventually gain access to the full roster.
Possibly more important to keeping players hooked is a decent community, though. Players will leave a game they're enjoying if the community feels too toxic. To that end, Valve will be grouping new players through a new matchmaking system that will have them joining up with "appropriately-skilled" players that also have a solid track record of good behavior.
If all goes well, Valve hopes these minor tweaks will not only draw, but also maintain plenty of new players for Dota 2.