The lines between eSports and real-world sports are being further blurred in Dota 2's latest update.
The hotly anticipated, highly demanded and slightly overdue "Diretide" update for Dota 2 has added a new way to play designed specifically for experienced or professional players to help newcomers get into the action.
The new "coaching" mode enables collaborative play between players. Coach players can view things through the eyes of their students and annotate their game screen by drawing on the ground, marking the mini-map and pinging elements on the game's interface. Both coaches and students can communicate directly with one another through a private channel.
The system enables coaches to take on up to three students at once, or combine any combination of coaches and students on a single team, and it's designed for use in both one-on-one training sessions or full-scale matches under the watchful eye of a Dota sensei. In order to cater to players who are just coaching and not actively playing, the matchmaking lobbies have been increased in size by one slot, reserved exclusively for coaches. You won't be able to use a coach as an "eye in the sky" to gain an advantage, however; coaches are considered part of their students' teams, so they cannot see anything their students can't see.
This sounds like a really good idea, and if adopted enthusiastically by the player base could be a good means of combating the Dota community's notorious degree of toxicity. Many of the disagreements and arguments in the community relate to experienced players becoming impatient with new players learning the ropes; the opportunity to be coached by someone who knows what they're doing presents a great opportunity for inexperienced Dota players to improve their game in a safe environment, so let's hope it catches on.
Aside from the coaching system, the update adds a couple of new game systems. A crafting system enables players to acquire recipes and create new items either by polymorphing two items into a single, different item of the same rarity, or augment two items into a random new item of the next best rarity. Meanwhile, a socketing system adds up to five sockets to items, allowing them to be augmented in various ways. Rather than these providing an advantage to players, they're more a means of customizing items -- you can even use the system to get your equipment "autographed" by pro players.
Finally, the headline feature of the update is the addition of two new hero characters to the mix. Joining the existing Storm Spirit are Earth Spirit and Ember Spirit, representing the elements of earth and fire respectively. Each of the three spirits feature their own unique abilities, one of which allows them to drop "remnants," which provide benefits. Storm Spirit's remnants act like proximity mines; Earth Spirit's remnants make his abilities more effective; Ember Spirit can dash between and detonate his remnants to damage nearby foes.
Valve believes the new update will significantly disrupt the market prices, so in an attempt to counter this are returning all items currently on the Steam Community Market to their respective players. While this process is taking place, no new items may be listed on the market, but once it's done you'll be able to list items directly from the armory by right-clicking on them.