Dota 2 screenshot of the in-game assistant

Instead of releasing another Battle Pass as was expected, Valve has now unveiled a brand new subscription service - Dota Plus. For $4 the Dota Plus service offers the ability to collect cosmetics by either leveling your heroes, completing challenges, or purchasing them with Shards you earn after each match. These cosmetic items will consist of equipment sets, hero-specific chat wheel emotes, taunts, as well as a variety of other exclusive effects.

More interestingly, however, the Dota Plus subscription will also bring with it a rather comprehensive in-game assistant that will track your progress in real-time and offer suggestions based on your exact scenario. In other words, it will give you item suggestions based on which lane you're playing and who you're fighting against, ability suggestions designed to best counter your opponent, and even hero suggestions in order to help round out your team in the best way possible.

It is an interesting idea, and I can definitely see it being useful for new players, though I am slightly worried this will end up being a trap like most of the official Valve guides. Dota 2 is just too dynamic of a game to simply quantify, so blindly adhering to a computer's opinion is likely going to result in some very strange decisions that make sense statistically, but are actually a terrible idea in-game. Still, a variety of statistics and measurements is never a bad thing to have, so hopefully this will help some up-and-coming players rise up from the crowd and really make a name for themselves.

Dota 2 Death Summary screenshot from the Dota Plus website

However, Dota Plus does have one big problem - the Death Summary

I don't mind any of this being locked behind a paywall since it's all information that's readily available on third-party websites and in the player's own head, but what does annoy me to no end is that Valve has also decided to put a new and improved Death Summary behind Dota Plus as well. Knowing what events led to your death is an important part of growing as a player, so to completely abandon the currently mediocre in-game system in order to peddle one behind a paywall does not sit well with me. That said, Valve has been receptive to criticism in the past, so here's to hoping they'll change this as well since it's the only real 'pay-to-win' part of this update.

You can learn more about Dota Plus by heading over to the official website. Oh, and I'd suggest brewing some coffee before you dive in because you're going to be stuck there for quite a while!