When Valve published their blog post last October 15, 2020, it was clearly evident that the company is looking for alternatives to garner the interests of the DOTA 2 (Defense of the Ancients) community in this pandemic. It can never be denied that the absence of their annual curtain call tournament, The International, is affecting the overall scene and has forced Valve to re-think about their plans in the next few years. Their rivals, Riot Games have managed to edge past Valve with the introduction of Valorant and their crisis management skills as seen with how they were able to pull through in their yearly Worlds tradition.
The 10th anniversary of The International was supposed be a hallmark moment, celebrating the success of the game which has lasted beyond a decade if you include its early iterations using the Warcraft III engine. The fact that it was supposed to be held in Sweden, a country known for producing top caliber DOTA 2 talents as seen from Alliance’s championship run back in TI3, could bring some fond memories from the past. But given the current situation, fans are left to wait.
Under these dire circumstances, Valve decided to make some moves to maintain the community’s affection for the game. The popular event game Diretide made its return but it doesn’t just end there as Valve mentioned that they will release a new hero by the end of November.
Who could it be? Below are some potential newcomers in DOTA 2’s hero pool.
FORGOTTEN GEMS FROM ARTIFACT
Valve’s decision to tease their new card game back in 2017 were signs that the company was planning to make a massive statement by exploring other genres. They successfully made that leap of faith when they integrated and modernized IceFrog’s DOTA project after consecutive spells of first person shooter games like Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Team Fortress.
Unfortunately even if Artifact had some revolutionary elements such as the three tables system, the game was a disaster as its pay-to-win approach killed the entire fanbase. Within two months from its release, the game suffered a 95% decline in player database. The memes circling around Lord Gaben seem to look like an afterthought after this massive catastrophe.
But perhaps this pandemic could be an opportunity to salvage some parts of the game. There are characters in Artifact that could be given the spotlight in DOTA 2, like Sorla Khan and Rix who both have a history with Axe and Legion Commander. Even other characters could be given more depth like Debbi the Cunning or J’Muy the Wise.
Perhaps this could lead to Artifact’s redemption arc.
THE GANG LEADERS FROM UNDERLORDS
Wouldn’t it be fun to include the four bosses of White Spire in the game? Each of these mob leaders have distinct personalities and abilities. Anessix is good with secrets and intel, maybe she could be a solid support hero. Enno is a practical scavenger who could rely on his resourcefulness to give his team some added bonuses. Jull bears resemblance with The Godfather’s Don Corleone, as a man of honor who spends his time drinking whiskey and strategically formulating his next move while thinking of its consequence, and Hobgen could be Batrider or Ember Spirit’s rival in dishing out flaming attacks. They could be introduced as a new set of characters that could rival the spirits (Ember, Void, Earth, and Storm), the fundamentals (Io, Chaos Knight, Keeper of the Light, Enigma), the gods (Zeus and Mars), and other noteworthy factions. Their abilities as well as their influence might be the reason why the heroes from DOTA 2 don’t show any form of rebellion against their masters.
It would also be interesting to see the banter between these four gang lords and their undercards aka the heroes of the DOTA 2 universe. They could be exchanging personal blows on how a mafia operation failed, how someone cheated on whose love interest, delayed payments, other false promises not mentioned or casted by the Oracle, etc.
SOMETHING OUT OF THE BLUE
Valve’s ability to think outside of the box, which was clearly evident when they introduced new characters that have not been involved in DOTA: Allstars has proven how their innovations have touched the community. Every recent entry becomes a fan favorite not only for their abilities as their character models have been a talking point in social media.
Instead of introducing a traditional Western archetype where a character dons a long coat, a cowboy hat, with a rifle or revolvers, and a sexy looking horse, they introduced Snapfire who dons a fur coat, some cookies as weapons, and a sluggish yet cute baby dragon. Instead of a a god blessed with heroic instincts that will make mere mortals bow down to him in honor, they introduced Mars a demi-god that would make the player laugh at his battle cry or his hopscotch movements. Dark Willow has that mischievous personality who can attract newcomers to fall in love with the game due to her design but most importantly due to her annoying crowd control abilities that would serve as a thorn to anyone that stood against her. Let’s not forget the character design of Grimstroke that goes beyond the usual Eastern-esque vibe of a demon wearing a mask wielding a katana as he uses a paintbrush as his arsenal.
Where will they get their inspiration for their new character? From steampunk culture? A robot or a cyborg could be the missing piece. From sports? A character that kicks tumbleweeds like a soccer ball? A character that could mock someone from League of Legends similar to how Marvel introduced Deadpool to poke fun on DC Comics’ Deathstroke or how WWE ripped off WCW’s Goldberg by introducing Gillberg. Lord Gaben in his robes? We’ll never know.
One thing is certain which is Valve’s ability to surprise us on the final days of November.