The Potential of Dota Reborn

While a large majority of the games media and fans had their eyes drawn to the oohs and aahs of E3’s megabucks and bright lights, Valve quietly released the beta of Dota Reborn, a massive update to Dota 2. While the update certainly was afflicted by the usual ‘Valve time’, as its been announced for well over a year, been kept well under wraps since, and has only just been released in beta form. But what a beta.

The beta currently runs Dota 2 in Source 2, Valves latest iteration of their rather well known engine, giving the base game graphical enhancements and performance improvements, many of which are continuing to be tweaked at the time of writing. Valve have also massively overhauled the menu and UI, giving the whole game a smoother feel and a slicker look from the moment you load up the main menu. As its a beta, expect some bugs, both in game and in the menus, but hopefully Valve time won’t apply to fixing these.

The UI and graphical improvements are impressive, but the main meat of the update comes in the form of full custom game support, and the tools to create these custom games. It is basically a direct competitor to Blizzards world editor for StarCraft 2 and Warcraft 3, but with the power of Steam and the Workshop behind it, and the massive userbase it provides.

The world editor is also getting slow but meaty updates. The tool that was merely a map editor last year has had a great community document its innermost workings and already there is an excellent bunch of game modes available to download and play right now. Hero defence, arenas, minigames, miniature RPGs, singleplayer games and even the start of some small scale strategy games. It’s highly likely we’ll see a spiritual Warcraft sequel right here in Dota2’s custom games. For anyone who was around at the time of Warcraft 3’s custom maps, this is hugely exciting, and opens up Dota 2’s appeal to the masses even more, especially those who simply aren’t a fan of the original game mode.

Its detractors may say that the best custom games will get lost in the writhing mass of rubbish, and they probably aren’t wrong. Steam itself shows the problems of a community driven store, as great games struggle to find visibility, popularity, and the sales they deserve to keep great developers going. This time, however, getting lost at the bottom of this pit, while unfortunate, doesn’t have quite the same horror.

The funny thing is, Valve’s system for custom games getting visibility also allows an odd joy. The excitement of finding a real gem, barely played and rated even less, for you and your friends to download and play. The fact that all of this is free for anyone to download and play on Steam right now means that I recommend anyone who has access to Steam download it and get stuck in looking for their own gems, or even creating their own. I will be keeping a close eye on how the beta evolves over the coming months.

Dota Reborn will probably stay in beta for some time, as there has been no official release date. Valve time still applies.

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