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Dota 2 beta invites disappeared from Steam Inventories everywhere this morning, and now we know why. After a lengthy beta during which it became the most-played game on Steam, Dota 2 has launched and is available on Steam for free.
After a long period of secrecy, Valve have finally revealed the new game they've been working on with one of the key developers of Defense of the Ancients community: it's Dota 2. DOTA was the common abbreviation of the original game type: fan-made maps where players control and level up a single powerful hero, while lesser AI troops fight alongside them. But Valve are using it as the full title here: it's just Dota 2. Read on for the first details.
Huskar get CANCER.” I was Huskar. A small incarnation of Zeus was shouting at me in text chat. “HUSKAR NOOB UNINSTALL GAME GET CANCER DIE IN A FIRE.” Why he was shouting these things takes some explaining. Dota 2 itself takes some explaining.
Valve’s main goal with Dota 2, says producer Erik Johnson, was “to build a sequel to a game that 20-odd million people around the world are playing”. That’s Defence of the Ancients, a free player-made map for Warcraft III. It set out the template for a strange genre of game that’s since inspired a series of massive commercial releases. League of Legends alone has over 11 million active players, more than World of Warcraft. Dota 2 sticks to the template closely: two teams of up to five players each pick a hero, and control it from a top-down perspective. But there’s already a war going on, between computer-controlled soldiers called creeps. Players are far more powerful, so creeps mainly provide easy kills to boost their experience and gold.
Of the half-dozen people I started learning Dota 2 with, three still play regularly. Though there are hundreds of thousands of players of our approximate skill level populating the matchmaking queues, the four of us are more like each other than we are like anyone else playing Valve’s isometric wizard-’em-up. Spending a year learning to shuffle a gaggle of fantasy heroes up Dota’s teetering stack of rules and game mechanics will do that to you: we’ve developed a secret language of our own, one that runs parallel to the talk of creeps and lanes and farm and rax common to everyone who plays the game. “Whack a ward on the donkletron I’m going to stick one up their jungle” is a sentence I can say out loud and be completely understood by at least those three people. For some reason, there’s also a lot of singing involved. It’s a lot like being a sailor.
I know, I know. There's no gameplay. But we'll be seeing plenty of that later this week when Dota 2's debut tournament, The International, is streamed live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
Valve has announced the third annual The International tournament, the most prestigious competition in competitive Dota 2. The competition returns to Seattle's Benaroya Hall August 6-11, where the 16 top Dota 2 teams in the world will compete to be named world champions. A prize pool has not yet been formally announced, but considering both previous iterations of The International posted pots in excess of $1 million, we think it's safe to say that it won't be chump change.
The first day of the $1 million Dota 2 tournament is drawing to a close. The matches that have been streamed live throughout the day have given us our first look at the game, and Valve's brilliant e-sports spectator features. Here's a brief overview of how the tournament is progressing so far, with links to the latest replays and results.
Dota 2 has been updated with its first new hero in six weeks. Rigwarl the Bristleback is the phlegm chucking pig-hedgehog thing in question. He's kind of what I imagine a dark, gritty reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog would look like. Except yellow. An initiator, Bristleback can slow enemies with a stacked attack, has a 360 degree spike attack, and location-based damage resistance.
I don't like playing with others in Dota 2. I find team fights deeply stressful. I get way too nervous while ganking, and unless I have a huge level advantage, I don't like even getting too close to enemy heroes if I don't have to. You might think that kind of attitude is a little against the spirit of a five-a-side team game. It's a bit like the winger in a football team just playing keepy-up on his own on the sidelines. But in Dota, there's a place for me. A place where I can be alone. That place is the jungle.
One of the reasons why the MOBA genre sits so far away from the rest of the games community is that it's full of skills that don't have much crossover with other game types. A veteran FPS player, with thousands of hours of Counterstrike under his or her belt, will be as flummoxed by a game of Dota 2 as someone who's only ever played the Sims. One of the weird skills inherent to the genre is pulling. This isn't like MMO-style pulling, where you aggro a group of monsters and run back to your team who rip them apart. Instead, it's the process of dragging your creeps into the jungle to be killed by neutral camps of monsters that'll attack anything that moves.
The art of the tower-dive is a noble one. Exposing yourself to mortal danger in the hope of gaining a little gold and experience -- it's like sleeping with Lindsay Lohan. Tower diving is the process of running under one of the opponents' towers to try and kill an enemy on low health before they get away. It's one of the situations where new players, and even some experienced players, die because they don't understand the risks involved. When tower-diving, the odds are stacked massively against you for three reasons. The first is that you're taking a lot more damage than normal from the magical projectiles being fired at you. The second is that towers have 'true sight', meaning they can see through any invisibility skills. The third is that there's a big stack of enemy creeps heading your way, with none of your own creeps to distract them.
Valve's DotA sequel will ditch its closed beta status and become 'free for everyone' later this summer, Erik Johnson told me during a visit to the developer earlier this year. We mentioned Valve's comments on the Dota 2 release date in PC Gamer issue 254, and community-run Valve news site ValveTime have since confirmed the release window via an e-mail exchange with Valve.
MOBA games have been around for a long time, but Dota 2 and League of Legends are the first to regularly pull numbers like the 329,977 concurrent users on Dota 2 and the supposed "Over 500,000 peak concurrent players every day on just the EU West" server of League of Legends. You'd think that with the sheer popularity of MOBA games, they'd be easy to break into, but that's usually not the case. Fortunately, this guide is here to help! We've written up a huge wall of pictures and text that explain the basic concepts that are common to both games as well as the overarching differences. Already a veteran, but looking to make the switch to LoL or Dota? Find out just what makes the two games so incredibly different.
Dota 2 tournament The International has released its prize pool breakdown for this year's event, with more than $2.7 million now on hand for the competition that begins August 7 in Seattle. While the competition is already well-funded, the prize pool continues to grow as more copies of developer Valve's Interactive Compendium are sold.
Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here. One glance at the Steam player statistics will hint at the popularity of our E-sport of the year. At one point today 609,248 were playing Dota 2 concurrently, more than five times times more popular than the second runner. The International proved that Dota 2 has tremendous potential as a spectator sport, but beyond the realms of professional competition Dota 2 has collectively absorbed more hours of our time than any other game this year, and it's only set to grow in 2014 and beyond.
Dota 2's Windrunner leads the charge on our cover this month in PC Gamer UK issue 254. We visited Bellevue to get inside development at Valve HQ as the Dota community prepares for The International tournament and Dota 2's long-awaited launch. Dota can be baffling to the uninitiated, but with a bit of knowledge anyone can enjoy the spectacle, chaos and depth of competitive play. That's why, in addition to our six page preview, we've created a six page guide to watching Dota 2 that will help demystify this fast-moving and famously complex esport. But that's not all, of course. We've also taken an early look at The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, revisited some of the great old sim games kept alive by their amazing communities and put to paper Rich and Graham's two-year 300+ game Fifa rivalry. That's as well as our normal brace of previews, reviews and more. The issue is available now via the App Store, Google Play or Zinio. If you prefer the weight of a glossy tome in your hands, you can subscribe to get each issue delivered to your door. Read on to find out what else lies within.