Dota 2 correspondent Cassandra Khaw dives into the game's holiday event to evaluate and explain it.
Greevils. Greevils everywhere. You knew the wide-bottomed children of Dota 2's Diretide event were going to be trouble. But still, you persisted in pouring essences into their eggs. Now look what happened: they've gone and destroyed Christmas .
Welcome to the Greeviling . (Well, "Frostivus," if you insist on being pedantic.) Much like the previous Dota 2 holiday event, this festive salute is one entrenched in chaos, comedy and consumerism. For reasons unknown, the entirety of Dota 2 is now infested with Greevils. Shops have been plundered, gifts have been ripped open and precious items have been scattered all across the woods. Needless to say, it's your responsibility to restore order and make off with stolen goods along the way.
Unlike Diretide, there is considerably less order involved in The Greeviling. Where the former required players to engage the game mode in three different stages, the Greeviling is a simple race to the finish: first team to obliterate 11 Greevil camps wins. To achieve this, teams will have wage battle against the nesting sites that routinely spawn throughout the match.
As elementary as that may sound, there are a few details to keep in mind. First and foremost, there are no shopkeepers to wheedle fine weaponry from. They've all fled, the cowards. The Greeviling provides just two ways to get items: by excavating the Christmas socks you begin each round with (these traditionally contain a Greevil whistle, a consumable and, in an instance of what might be called "Footwareception," a pair of boots) or by demolishing Greevil camps and picking up gifts from the ruins. What makes this somewhat challenging is the fact there is no guarantee that the items earned will, in any way, be of great use to your hero. To make things even more complicated, there is no guarantee that you will actually get an item—it's entirely possible that the game will randomly distribute your prize to the enemies instead. Ever wondered what it'd be like to play Sand King with nothing but a Ring of Aquila and an Ethereal Blade while facing off against a Life Stealer with a full armament? Now's your chance.
However, this isn't the primary feature. As the name of the event may have implicated, the Greeviling is all about these multi-colored, marauding pests. Before every match, you'll be asked to pick one of your domesticated Greevils to bring into the fray. If you don't own of one of these kleptomaniacs, a naked member of the species will be temporarily assigned to you. Each of these Greevils come with abilities and statistics of their own, both of which are dependent on the kind of essences that have been infused in their eggs. Unsurprisingly, the naked Greevils are usually bottom-of-the-barrel material—unless you get extraordinarily lucky—while those that have been enriched with a more exotic collection of essences tend to be potent opponents.
Like strange, organic Transformers, you'll be able to switch between your chosen Hero and pet Greevil at will—all it takes is a toot on the whistle. Is it worth morphing into one of those wretched beasts? Most of the time, the answer is yes. By and large, your Greevil is going to be significantly more dangerous than your Hero.
With snow everywhere, the river completely frozen over—nothing quite matches the hilarity of a Squiddles-wielding Tidehunter careening helplessly across the ice—and not a single creep in sight, The Greeviling can be a disorienting experience. Easily completed within the span of about 10 to 15 minutes, your mileage may vary. Some will like the unabashed silliness, others will not. Unlike its predecessor, The Greeviling won't allocate you additional cosmetic goods if you perform better than your foes. Everyone simply gets a box of shinies; it's merely a question of whether there is the opportunity for slighter better loot or not.
The Greeviling is not the finely-tuned juggernaut that base Dota 2 is. But I do see it as an opportunity to amass hoards of decorative accouterments for future usage or trade. After all, isn't this the season for wanton capitalism and bargains?