Valve's secret Defense of the Ancients project has officially been announced. Dota 2 is a "sequel" to the WarCraft III mod 'Defense of the Ancients: Allstars', and will be essentially the same game developed in Valve's Source engine. Expect to see DotA: Allstar's cast of over a 100 playable characters return in Dota 2, along with what's said to be an exact copy of the map as well. Dota 2 is scheduled to be released in 2011 for both the PC and Mac, over Steam.
What changes are being made to to the Defense of the Ancients formula for Dota 2? Nothing mechanically, according to GameInformer's exclusive first Dota 2 details. What will be changed though, is the addition of Steamworks and a robust, community-centric support and rewards system. Dota 2 players can expect to find a number of new background systems ingrained into their experience such as guides, something akin to achievements, voice chat, matchmaking, and a coaching system for new players.
The first, unspecific community system details are said to reward players who write guides for the game, are active contributing posters in forums, and various other community building tasks. The rewards include skins for your characters, a la League of Legends, forums titles, and likely other treats we aren't privy too yet. Valve wants to take extra efforts to improve what can only be considered on the the harshest, most competitive communities in gaming culture. They have their work cut out for them.
GameInformer has provided a number of images showing the first Dota 2 characters, which you can check out in this gallery:
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It's difficult not to be excited for any Valve announcement, but it's also a bit disheartening to see what kind of product they're creating. This isn't a new game, this isn't something Valve has developed, this is the same Defense of the Ancients game you played in WarCraft III. Valve is simply paying Icefrog, current developer of the Warcraft III mod, to create a clone in an effort to take the already existing community for DotA: Allstars. It's evident in their branding; it's evident in the lack of changes to the original mod; it's evident in the language of GameInformer's exclusive details.
Defense of the Ancients deserves all of the recognition it gets, that's the truth. Is taking what is and always has been an independent, community run mod and selling your game an official sequel really the best way to show your respects? Demigod, Heroes of Newarth and League of Legends are all Defense of the Ancients-style games. Each has its faults, but at least each went out of their way to create something original.
Despite the implications of what Defense of the Ancients was, is, and will come to be, hopefully Valve will handle the situation appropriately. Anything less than a free-to-play model, akin to League of Legends, would be astonishing.
What do you think, Ranters? Are you a Defense of the Ancient player, or have you moved on to one of the new generation of DotA games like Heroes of Newarth of League of Legends? Are you interested in Valve's Dota 2? What sort of expectations do you have for the game?
Dota 2 is planned for release in 2011 for the PC and Mac, via Steam.