Dota 2 is a notoriously hard game to learn. Figuring out how the game works will take more than a couple of games, and figuring out how to get good at it can take a lifetime. In time for the game’s annual International tournament (which starts next week), Valve is taking a few steps to help bring new players into the fold.
First, the game will now limit new players from selecting all but 20 of the game’s 113 heroes, all of which have simple abilities and mechanics and should emphasize learning the ins and outs of a the game itself rather than how a character works. Valve previously attempted something similar with its “Limited Heroes” mode, which had its own matchmaking pool but could also be played by higher-tier players. This hero limit will last for a player’s first 25 matches.
The game will now also attempt to find nicer players for newbies to play with. Over the course of a match (or shortly after), players can commend or being nice or helpful, or report them for being mean or intentionally playing poorly, leading to players who have higher “behavior scores” than others. New players will now be matched with players of their skill level who have consistently high behavior scores.
As a third prong in its strategy to attract new players, Valve will also have a newbie-friendly stream of the International, which will focus on explaining various characters’ abilities and the flow of the game.
[Source: Dota 2 Official Blog]
I think a more expanded tutorial could help even more, but the character restriction is smart. As a side effect, it may also curb “smurfing” (where experienced players make new accounts to play at lower matchmaking tiers), since anyone who wants to abuse a more complicated hero for easy wins will have to play 25 matches as other heroes first. If you’re thinking of jumping in now, be warned: even with this gentler slope, learning Dota 2 will still be quite difficult, but not having some idiot yelling at you the whole game should make things much more pleasant.