IceFrog’s Dota has been around for more than 10 years and yet it is still the most innovative and diverse “MOBA” in the scene. Each and every hero in the game is truly unique and fills a niche with little to no competition from the other heroes in certain aspects. Until recently this was achieved without overcomplicating the hero designs—a very impressive feat which separates Dota from its successors.
While many other games in the genre went for fancy mechanics like vector-targeting and simplified multi-unit control to create something new, our game remained true to its Warcraft 3 ancestry. However, with the last remnant of Warcraft Dota ported to the new client, are we going to see substantial changes to how the new hero concepts are handled?
When it comes to Dota hero design, there is no simpler hero than the Wraith King himself. He has gone through several changes over the years, with a second active ability added at some point, but returned to his former state shortly after. At its core, however, the hero remained largely the same.
Even this simple concept proved to have a lot of depth nonetheless. The hero can not only be played in different roles with relative success, but even within a single role his item builds may substantially vary.
The same holds true for the majority of other heroes in the game. Versatility and understanding of the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses allows players to overcome unfavorable matchups and come out on top even in the direst of situations.
Compare the King to the newest Dota additions, namely Oracle and Earth Spirit. Each of them has at least four active abilities. Moreover, almost all of these abilities either have multiple variants, or can be cast on both allies and enemies. Both of these heroes are a lot more complex when it comes to their overall design.
This complexity often came at a price—these heroes were tweaked and balanced in every patch since their release in the Dota 2 client. Their initial introduction into the game was followed by a community outcry—the cancer spirit is still fresh in our memories, while Oracle, with his previous “turn-anyone-into-Slark” ultimate, was widely regarded as one of the most annoying heroes in Dota 1.
Before the readers get the wrong idea—this is not a critique on the new hero designs, but rather a highlight of the major hero design philosophy change of the recent years, with the potential pitfalls during the process. These changes are not inherently bad and can even be looked at as a necessity for the game to develop and grow.
Both of these new heroes, as well as their predecessor, Arc Warden, have a place in Dota and their place in the current roster of available heroes is well-deserved. But the topic raises an interesting question—what kind of hero will the Monkey King be, especially given the removal of limitations of the Warcraft 3 engine?
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King is a well-established character in the Chinese mythology. There is very rich lore surrounding him and it is understandable why he became a staple in many games.
The character is attributed with high strength, agility and speed, as well as a variety of magical abilities:
“ Each of his hairs possess magical properties, capable of being transformed into clones of the Monkey King himself, and/or into various weapons, animals, and other objects. He knows spells to command wind, part water, conjure protective circles against demons, and freeze humans, demons, and gods alike.”
In the teaser trailer, it is possible to see some of these abilities in action.
There is almost definitely an ability related to the hair transformation, since it was one of the focal points of the teaser. Interestingly, the amount of created “illusions” far exceeded the current maximum of 8 for Phantom Lancer. It seems unlikely that these illusions will be player-controlled or will even follow the general illusions rules—in the trailer most of them are seen running in a single direction. Four of them, however, remained by the Monkey King’s side.
At one point we also see Wukong transform from a tree into his normal self, however there is a question whether this ability can be a viable design choice on a map where tree placement is very important. If there is an ability associated with the “trickster” segment, it will probably involve possession of an existing tree, rather than a creation of a decoy, but it still does not answer the question of level-scaling of the ability. There is a high chance that if it is an in-game ability, it will be a side-part of a different one.
Vaulting over the treetops is another concept which can be seen as either a potential ability or a cinematic-only feature, but somersaulting is a very common Sun Wukong skill in multiple other games. Potentially important, the creeps noticed Wukong, while he was running on the treetops. Other heroes who can go through trees without destroying them (e.g. Spectre) are generally unseen by the enemy, unless there is flying vision in the area.
The segment also ended with a well-defined slam on the creep wave, with Monkey King’s staff visually extended. The new items such as Dragon Lance already broke some of the Wc3 limitations, allowing heroes to have a variable attack range. Previously, it was only possible by changing the unit in question permanently, e.g. Enchantress could not drop Aghanim’s Scepter. The extended staff in the teaser for MK could indicate that the hero might have temporary >150 melee attack range from skill.
Returning to the design philosophy discussion, it is almost guaranteed that Sun Wukong will be more similar to the new wave of heroes, with “busier” gameplay. Given the character's lore and the teaser trailer, he is also likely to be a highly mobile elusive target. With that and extended melee attack range in mind, we might have the first melee kiting hero, which fits the theme of Monkey King very well.
There is also an old playdota image outlining the potential abilities of the hero. Some of them, however, have been incorporated into other hero designs, such as Phantom Lancer’s modified Cloud Dance/ Doppelganger and Naga Siren’s modified Echo Sweep/ Rip Tide.
The introduction of the first brand new hero in three years is certainly exciting. With the removal of Warcraft 3 engine limitations, the Monkey King has the potential of being so much more than just a new hero—he can introduce some concepts and mechanics not previously seen in any other hero and he is definitely going to be highly experimental.
Whether it is a good or a bad thing is up to the community to decide. There are always going to be dissatisfied Dota purists and given bumpy introduction of the last two new heroes to Dota there is a justified reason for worry. Yet, in the end, it always works out. What do you think of the way Dota is headed and what hero do you think Monkey King will be?
i hope they wont be just illusions i want something more complex like meepo
Nice! Well written but lacks more info and story about the other heroes and the new twesks and changes in hero design.
I think with manta and heroes like shadow demon and PL the game already have enough illusions.
"Earthshaker likes it"
i really hope icefrog doesnt forget about all the multitude of simpler concepts that have been thought of over the years that are still very good. theres still a lot of good abilities and hero concepts that arent "busier". im excited for the new stuff, but dont forget about the old stuff thats still good.
any guesses on the date of new patch?
Come on it's an Easy Spirit Arcana right :)
A go invisible skill, a march like ulty with illusions, probably agi hero since we had int then Str hero. I see this guy like pl/riki/earth spirit type lol he's Neo
SKELETON KING MUST BACK, the nasak goo "wraith king" looks pathetic.. also the FAT abyssal LIZZARD
So what about the old Naix? aka LifeStealer, when he was with all passives and a 10 sec bkb for ult? They change him a lot, and im not even talking about silencer who I do not remember if it was before IceFrog. I used to play a lot of w3 and they custom maps.
isnt ember spirit an melee kaiting hero?
This just reminded of the cartoon Monkey Magic. Haha, I never realized Sun Wukong was from Chinese mythology
there isnt gonna be aton of monkey king illusions surpassing 8 of PL's.
According to Chinese mythology wukong also has the ability to see through illusions. Though that may have niche uses does anyone think it will be implemented?
Monkey King so beyond godlike his legacy lived even in MOBA games.
Ironic thing is, Valve decided to have the same voice actor of MK as well in HoN's.
Awww man, the good times in HoN man. HoN could be such a great MOBA, it could almost surpass Dota 2 before D2 was out. But the S2 team decided to fuck it up so hard that I sometimes wonder if it was a sabotage by Valve. (You know how business works) Awww man, fuck business man.
No matter how OP the new hero will be, HoN's MK will always be the high and mighty strong statue in my thoughts.
Please release this thing already... We can handle it. And we want to see something that has not been seen before... In other words, were the hell is 6.89???
Judging from the rest of the video (also mentioned in the article), he may or may not have additional unique mechanics such as free-running over trees (Assassin's Creed III anyone?), extending his staff to increase range (completely lore-friendly), and a possible camouflage feature similar to Treant's invis in treelines (or probably the trailer depicting the use of the rather underused Iron Branch active ability).
ez for es
.. i bet one of the passive is inbuilt MKB (nerfed down compared to mkb item) .. i can see MK having agha upgrade on ulti where u can consume scepter at level3 ulti to gain MKB and save some cash on buying one... the game doesnt need another phantom lancer- like illu hero...
@Cheap Laugh Guy Aww man HoN was a Dota clone man before S2 reworked heroes man and "fucked it up" man
we have 3 kings now wrath king sand king and monkey king
@Abysswalker the extended staff to increase atack range was implemented on the Gokong from Strife the game, it was an skill that it increased his melee range and give bonus damage i think.
His main Item Must be Monkey King Bar.
Please NO! Make a real hero and scrap this garbage.
Good read, curious to see how they implement MK. Also interesting to note the trend towards more complicated heroes, which I hope continues.
69TH THX FOR THE SUPPORT GUIZ LULZ
I actually think this hero ain't gonna be different from Wukong (a champ some LoL players told me about). I do not like the idea of implementing such a hero, whose spells were given to other heroes, but i guess whatever, might still be a nice add
Is this before or after Fall Major? Also: BARF!
MKB main item pls
am i the only one who hopes for the return of old hereos, maybe balanced a bit and with different models, instead of new ones?(like the old pudge)
This hero remembers "The Forbidden Kingdom" 2008 Jet Li movie. :)
the owner of MKB
Gr8 Quop tiddies!
I have a bunch of old RoC and TFT custom maps. Silencer was in some early versions of DotA. I'd dare to say from the age of Eul.
He could channel a rain of infernals for ult and that's all I remember.
The more recent, stable version of silencer actually had an aura which would silence heroes when they cast spell close to you. Would completely destroy like half of heroes in the current version of Dota.
Спасибо за перевод)))
Ура на русском статьи подъехали)
АЛЛО ДАУНЫ . ПЕРВЫЙ ГЕРОЙ НЕ ИЗ ВКРФТ 3 , АЛЛО
when valve would release these hero?
I think it will be like a Warcraft 3 stamped skill, like tinker's March of Machines or the what do you called this weaver skill
Apart from arc warden i loved all the new heroes (ES,oracle,ww,underlord)
This hero is not of Warcraft 3, this is not nice.