With Chinese New Year nigh, Valve has launched a honking great Dota 2 patch heralding a new special seasonal event. Yesterday's patch brought over two new heroes from the original DotA mod, Terrorblade and Phoenix. More weirdly, it added an astonishing new mode named 'Random Ability Draft,' where players take turns to pick abilities for their heroes, resulting in some absurd combinations.
Terroblade's a pretty old Agility hero from DotA, able to create duplicates of himself and others, and blessed with the ultimate to swap health with an enemy. Phoenix is relatively new, as DotA heroes go, a ranged Strength hero with solid nukes and, naturally, a rebirth ability.
As part of the New Bloom Festival, the Year Beast is due to surface next Wednesday for players to battle, hoping to earn fancy loot. Until then, however, players can prepare by earning 'Flamesalt Ingots' as they play Dota 2, which will let them get fancier weapons to wound the beast. And, of course, the more you hurt it, the shinier your prize. The game's also dropping Jade Tokens, which get you cosmetic items.
Random Ability Draft is as strange as it sounds. Each players is given a hero at random, stripped of its abilities. All their abilities end in a pool for everyone to draft from, taking turns. It leads to terrifying situations like a Gyrocopter armed with Drow's Marksmanship, Sand King's Caustic Finale, and his own Flak Cannon, exploding creeps and heroes like nobody's business.
The patch also adds 'Replay Takeover' option, letting players take control of the game from a certain point in a downloaded replay, stepping into the Phase Boots of pro players or simply trying to figure out what they could have done differently in a game they lost.
It rebalances an awful lot too, bringing the game to version 6.80. A grand 76 heroes have their abilities tweaked, some more than others, as do many items. So long, dozens of Necronomicons!