Valve has finally announced that it’s working on a game called DotA 2 after rumors previously indicated that the studio was throwing its hat into the world of Defense of the Ancients, a massively popular action-RTS gameplay style that first popped up in a user-created map for Warcraft III.
DotA has been constantly updated and re-balanced by various creators over the years, including the release of DotA AllStars and DotA-inspired titles like League of Legends. Valve doesn’t plan on changing what DotA players are used to, with DotA 2 set to bring over DotA AllStars’s 100+ hero roster, the same map, items, skills, and upgrade paths. In DotA 2, these aspects will only be freed from the constraints put on them by the WarCraft III engine thanks to the use of Valve’s Source engine instead.
Valve is tailoring Steamworks matchmaking in order to help remedy the situation, and the game will also implement interactive guides, according to Game Informer: “Valve plans to allow guide-makers to tie their work back into the game by doing things like highlighting suggested item purchases or displaying useful information during a match.” The most notable new addition is a deeply integrated coaching system that will allow veteran players to log in as a “coach,” and team up with new players to help them learn the intricacies of Dota 2. While Valve is still working on the details of the system, the report said coaches will be able to see their companion’s screen and communicate with him or her via voice or chat, giving real-time tips.
Further, DotA 2 adds integrated voice chat, AI bots that take over for disconnected players, and new community-based features that not only reward participation, but should also ease DotA’s intrinsically created negative attitude towards new players. Valve is upgrading Steamworks so that it can provide in-game rewards for DotA 2 players that participate in the community outside the game. Though specific details weren’t provided, Valve says that bonuses like “unlocking new skins” or “unique titles for writing a strategy guide” are possibilities, while accruing points towards a “Gamerscore” is another.
There have been several DotA “clones” since the original mod which created the “action RTS” genre, as it’s been dubbed by some. The two most popular, League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth developed by Riot Games and S2 Games respectively, borrow heavily from the original mod in terms of hero characters, items and map construction. Both games attempt to bring DotA into the 21st century, so to speak, adding features like in-game voice chat, proper matchmaking and updated graphics which were downright impossible to do while working in the antiquated WarCraft 3 modding engine. While both games boast a solid player base, neither have been able to completely replicate the breadth of the original DotA which currently features over 100 different characters and a massive inventory of items both of which are constantly being added to.
Overall, it looks like Valve is putting together another huge game that has its origins in the modding community. DotA 2 will be released on the PC and Mac in 2011.