Product Update - Valve
- Full parties can select their captain in Ranked Captain's Mode and Captain's Draft.
- Fixed Ursa's Fury Swipes damage increment happening after the attack is finished.
- Fixed Crystal Maiden's Arcane Aura not applying the self value when illusions are present.
- Fixed Bloodthorn not applying bonus damage at the end of the duration if multiple Bloodthorns are used on the same target.
- Fixed Dragon Knight and Tiny having slightly too large of an attack range.
- Fixed Fury Swipes not incrementing on Bloodthorn debuffed units.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

I was in a long distance relationship for over two years and gaming was incredibly useful for keeping in touch with my partner*. But not every game was a good fit, either because of relative game experience or temperament or any number of other things. So here are some of the games which worked and some of the games which didn’t. I’m going to explain them from my point-of-view because I don’t want to presume to know exactly what his experience was!

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Half-Life 2 turns 12 this year, and thanks to its powerful, if a bit creaky Source engine it remains as popular with the modding community as ever. Over the years we've seen all manner of excellent mods emerge, adding co-op or competitive multiplayer, shiny graphical updates, new story content, and even full conversions that bear little or no resemblance to the original game.

It's the latter two we're going to focus on today, as we round up the best single-player Half-Life 2 mods. We've chosen mods that stand up as separate adventures, sometimes set in worlds far removed from Combine Earth.

The Stanley Parable

This is the story of a man named Stanley. Or rather, it's the story of the story: a deviously clever, reactive adventure that second-guesses your every move. As Stanley or, perhaps more accurately, as the player controlling Stanley you're free to follow or ignore the various instructions the wonderful narrator bellows over you, resulting in a tangled, branching story that rewards your curiosity, imagination, and defiance. The original Source mod was later expanded into a full game, one our Phil thought extremely highly of in our review.

Download: ModDB, Steam.

Minerva: Metastasis

Adam Foster's Minerva comes close to the quality of Valve's own Half-Life 2 Episodes in fact, Valve was so impressed Foster joined the company. It's a sizeable story, about the length of an official chapter, with considered level design and a high level of polish. You begin the game strapped to the underside of a helicopter, before being dropped on a mysterious island with a sinister secret.

Download: Steam.

Mission Improbable sends you on a mission to repair a Resistance radio tower.

The Citizen

Gordon Freeman ends the Half-Life series as a crowbar-wielding superhero, a figure of legend in the Half-Life universe. Two-part mod The Citizen provides a new angle on the world, casting you as an ordinary oppressed citizen of City 17. Obviously, said ordinary man soon acquires a gun and starts killing people, but you might snap too if you called that dystopia home.

Download: ModDB.

Get a Life

This lengthy, ambitious mod swings from horror to all-out action. Occasional cutscenes tell the story of a subway technician suffering from leukaemia, but Get a Life's unlucky hero Alex also has to contend with the mod's new limb damage system, which causes effects like dizziness and limping, depending on where he's hit by enemies.

Download: ModDB.

Mission Improbable

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to step into the sneakers of Gordon Freeman and set off to repair a Resistance listening post. This impressive Episode Two mod begins with Gordon rowing to a distant coastline: a coastline that reminds you just how pretty the venerable Source engine can look in the right hands. The right hands in this instance are a couple of established game devs, and their experience shines through pretty much every crevice of this slick, well-paced adventure.

Download: ModDB.

Looking for a good laser puzzle? Try Research and Development.

Research and Development

Thanks to its then-revolutionary ragdoll physics, a lot of time in Half-Life 2 was spent throwing chairs at NPCs, or flinging teacups with the gravity gun. In that spirit, Research and Development does away with offensive weapons altogether, leaving just a couple of secondary tools to let you manipulate gravity or order Antlions about. Puzzles are the order of the day here, and it's surprising just how easily Half-Life 2's toolset translates to this new focus.

Download: ModDB.

Nightmare House 2

Where there are modding tools, horror mods are sure to follow. You don't need to have played the original in fact, it's included as a prologue, giving you the chance to explore both a haunted house and a spooky hospital. The horror on offer here is mainly of the jump scare variety, so if you were hoping for the psychological horror of Silent Hill, move on to the next item in the list. Nightmare House 2 is basically FEAR it even features its own creepy ghost girl but more FEAR is hardly a bad thing.

Download: ModDB.

Silent Hill: Alchemilla

The impressive Alchemilla drops you in the world of Silent Hill, endless fog, Dark World and all. Not only have the developers nailed the grimy aesthetic of Team Silent's classic series, they've matched its colour palette, borrowed its sound effects, and recreated its lonely atmosphere. It's such an uncanny representation that it may take you a while to notice there are no enemies traipsing around, but then those games were hardly known for their satisfying combat.

Download: Alchemilla mod.

Water

Until now everything we've featured has been strictly first-person, but Water bucks that trend. In fact, it bucks a lot of trends, given that it's a third-person puzzley adventure starring a mermaid. Yes, a mermaid. While you're (initially at least) limited to a fantasy city's waterways, this smart mod soon finds ways to get you exploring land too, using a number of innovative systems. The developers of Water went on to make From Earth, another, similarly inventive Source mod.

Download: ModDB.

Black Mesa

Well, we couldn't ignore Black Mesa, could we? For the unaware, this recreates the original Half-Life in its sequel's shinier engine, and it's been in development since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Much more than a simple port, Black Mesa updates Valve's game with fancier assets, new voice acting, a reworked campaign and more. The team have also excised Half-Life's much-maligned Xen section, albeit only temporarily until it's been remade to be, somehow, good. While the older mod is free, you'll find the newer version on Early Access, accompanied by a price tag.

Download: Official site.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Valve have announced the teams getting a direct invite to its Dota 2 competition in the Philippines; the Manila Major [official site].

The Manila Major is the final Valve-sponsored uber tournament for Dota 2 before the massive annual event that is The International. It’s the first year the Majors have taken place and some have worked out better than others but they’ve been a big deal and mark an attempt by Valve to be slightly more hands-on in terms of guiding the development of the pro scene.

So here’s who’s definitely off to the Philippines:

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - SZ


With The Manila Major just weeks away, we're pleased to announce the teams that will be invited to the event. Congratulations to all of the players, we are looking forward to seeing them there.

We know that there will always be a talented team that doesn't make it, which is difficult for both the fans of that team and the players themselves. Deciding on how to handle the direct invites to our four tournaments is a difficult process, and we don’t take a specific formulaic approach to which teams are invited or how many we invite.

A lot of things change during the year, from team compositions to new results in LAN tournaments, so we tend to take a more holistic approach to how we do invites. We try to always invite the teams that we think have demonstrated their ability to perform well, either from very strong recent results or from a longer history of top finishes. We also think it's very important for the ecosystem as a whole if third-party LAN tournaments during the year are able to have a lasting impact on the Major invites, rather than largely depending on qualifiers.

For this Major, there will be 12 teams directly invited and 4 teams coming from the qualifiers. Head over to the team announcement page to find out who will be joining us in Manila.

We are always thinking about the mechanisms that create a healthy competitive environment in the long term, and are interested to hear what you think.
PC Gamer

The looming Manila Major is on course to be classic Dota with a twist. Valve has announced the 12 invitees who will be joined by four victors from the regional qualifiers. Among them are stalwarts like Alliance and Na Vi, joined by the power-players of South East Asia in Fnatic and MVP.

This year s selection process has been enigmatically described as a more holistic approach . Valve considered a history of greatness in addition to recent success in making its picks. Consideration was also given to the outcomes of third-party LAN tournaments to reduce emphasis on the qualifiers.

In full, the teams who made the cut are:

  • Team Secret
  • Team Liquid
  • Evil Geniuses
  • MVP
  • Wings Gaming
  • Vici Gaming
  • Fnatic
  • OG
  • Complexity
  • Alliance
  • Na'Vi
  • LGD

The Manila Major kicks off June 7, with qualifiers for all regions taking place May 3-6.

Product Update - Valve
- Fixed a bug with lobby invites happening during a game.
- Fixed a bug with Arc Warden's Tempest Double which caused tab selection, Auto Select Summoned Units and the minimap icon to be incorrect.
- Fixed the interaction of Ursa's Overpower and Fury Swipes with Evasion.
PC Gamer

Gif by Gunpoint/Heat Signature artist John Roberts

Three Lane Highway

Documenting Chris' complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2. To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.

Dota doesn't evolve by increments. There are adjustments and hotfixes from time to time, sure, but this is a game of dramatic shifts. Even after all these years, Dota patch notes have retained their power to shock—perhaps because this is such a complex game, requiring thousands of hours of slowly-acquired knowledge with little hand-holding. When the underlying rules of this complex competitive sandbox get changed, years of ingrained intuition get thrown out and need to be replaced.

That is what has happened over the course of the last 24 hours with the release of the 6.87 update. It'd be hyperbole to call this 'the biggest patch ever', or anything like that—after all, I felt that way when they moved Roshan, when they introduced magic lifesteal, and so on. New patches are always the biggest patch ever. 6.87 feels like a particularly big one, however. We'll be figuring out its ramifications for a while, and there's loads left to be discovered.

There are an enormous amount of changes in this update. Many heroes have been changed in variously subtle and dramatic ways, and it'd take an extensive essay to go through the impact of every subtle mechanical change (like the alterations to creep aggro), the changes to the map, and the impact of every new item. If you'd like a thorough overview, put aside a couple of hours and check out this reddit thread. You'll find a bunch of long Twitch analysis sessions by professional and high-ranked players, which is a good way to get a sense of the patch as a whole.

In this article, then, I'm going to run through a couple of specific changes to highlight notable buffs, nerfs, and silly sideways shifts. It's too early to say what 6.87 is going to do to the top-level meta, but here's a taste of Dota 2 in the immediate aftermath of this huge update.

Strength is stronger, intelligence is... different

There are a lot of top-level changes in this patch, but here's one you need to be aware of. Hitpoints now scale more from strength, and a hero's basic health pool is larger. It's not enough to make a huge difference in the opening minutes of the game, unless you end up in one of those close-fought early teamfights around a bounty rune: expect most characters to be one or two auto-attacks tankier.

Later on, though, it amounts to a chunky buff to strength heroes. Given that the previous metagame was dominated by intelligence and agility, this is the start of a shift back towards Dota's beefy frontliners that will continue elsewhere in the patch. If 6.87 had a theme song, it would be this.

People who declared that 'we LoL now' when Octarine Core and Aether Lens introduced scaling damage and utility for spells might need to hold on to something, because spell damage scales with intelligence now. Not a huge amount, mind, but enough to keep spellcasters competitive for longer into a match. This is a profound philosophical shift for Dota 2, which for years was about the tension between powerful spells and scaling auto-attacks. Now, those lines are fuzzier—expect perceptions about roles to change, particularly when it comes to intelligence heroes.

Even so, the amount of mana gained per point of intelligence has been reduced. This is a big part of the nerf to previous pubstompers Outworld Devourer and Invoker, who have both, in various ways, had their mana pool axed: Invoker has undergone a flat intelligence reduction, while OD has had his costs increased and intelligence steal nerfed. Magic scales better but heroes that rely on it need to be more careful with their usage, at least until they pick up a big item or two.

This is offset a little by the boost in hero base mana from 0 to 50, but I'd argue that this is a bigger buff to strength heroes anyway. On average they gain more proportionally from the change, and the way their spells fit into their playstyle means that this extra mana opens up their options more. Dragon Knight has jumped from 195 to 230 base mana, for example, allowing him to get more use out of his freshly-buffed laning skill Breathe Fire.

With these buffs to strength heroes in mind, let's address the big red elephant in the room:

Axe is an extremely good Dota guy

With a 7.46% positive winrate swing in the first hours of the patch, I'm both happy and sad to report that my most played and probably favourite Dota hero is now flavour of the month. He's been made competitive, particularly in pubs, by two sets of changes in addition to the general strength buffs outlined above.

The first regards him directly. Counter Helix, his passive, now does pure damage and as such isn't mitigated by armour. It has had its damage slightly reduced to compensate, but in effect this makes him scale much better: level 4 Helix will now always do 180 damage, whereas previously it would steadily decrease as enemies stacked up their defenses.

Axe hits harder, scales better, and is one of the few heroes to be unaffected by the armour aura that has been added to towers. These punish dives by characters that rely on physical damage, but Axe isn't one of those characters any more. Axe doesn't care.

The second factor responsible for the rise of Axe is the change to Blade Mail, which now returns damage before Axe's damage mitigation is applied (meaning it stays effective even if Axe is tanked-up) and goes through spell immunity (meaning that it synergises brilliantly with Berserker's Call, which also goes through spell immunity.)

Blade Mail is one of those Dota mechanics, like Undying's Tombstone and the entire character of Omniknight, that requires enemies to play around it. As such, it is the bane of pubs and anywhere where coordination is in short supply. Axe is now the best carrier of an item that is uniquely able to turn a player's own farm against them, and this is what I'd attribute his spike in winrate to.

It's worth mentioning that the Blade Mail buff is also a big help to characters like Centaur Warrunner, who has also had a couple of nice buffs in this patch. It remains to be seen just how big an impact it has, but I wouldn't surprised to see Blade Mail tuned back down fairly shortly.

Arc Warden is an actual hero now

There are a bunch of nerfs in this patch—Invoker, Outworld Devourer, Death Prophet, Earth Spirit, Enchantress, etc—but Arc Warden feels like the one that has come closest to a proper rethink. Dota 2's newest hero didn't make a great first impression thanks to a cheese strat that is now well and truly dead. Having been stripped of his ability to teleport around the map with a Divine Rapier that he has no danger of losing, he has to actually use his abilities in synergy with one another.

I'm not an Arc Warden player and I don't feel fully qualified to explain how his playstyle will change, but its clear that the patch raises his skill ceiling and potentially increases his utility a great deal. His Spark Wraith ghost-mines are much easier to spam and now purge, which is a big buff, while Magnetic Field needs to be used more thoughtfully—it's not enough to just stick it down on top of whatever you're trying to kill.

He's now more interesting than cheesy, which will probably devastate his popularity but makes him a much more positive presence in the game. Whether or not you believe he's been dumpstered or rescued from the dumpster is down to your definition of trash.

Earthshaker is the hero Dota deserves

There's no Dota 2 update party like a Dota 2 crazy Aghanim's Scepter changes update party. There a few notable ones in this patch—Mirana and Gyrocopter, Winter Wyvern and Oracle—but none of them do this:

That's from my first post-patch ranked game. Mirana believed that she had survived the Rosh fight. Mirana was wrong. You can try to run from the slam; the slam does not care. The slam will find you. I've had a lot of reactions to solo Dota, but laughing maniacally in the office has never been one of them. Aghanim's Scepter, Aether Lens, Octarine Core Earthshaker is the most fun I have had in this game in years.

To explain: Aghanim's Scepter now enhances Enchant Totem rather than Echo Slam, giving it the ability to be cast anywhere within a 900 AoE. This causes Earthshaker to leap into the air and cast Enchant Totem at the target location, which never stops being funny. It's an initiation and an escape, as well as an 'I must go, my people need me' button to be used during slow moments.

I'm 90% sure this got added first and foremost because it is funny. Earthshaker's itemisation was a little set in stone before, sure, but he wasn't necessarily broken. He didn't need this—but I'm delighted that he got it.

Let's all celebrate the age of Jumpshaker with another round of this amazing gif:

This change is also, incidentally, a nice little buff to Rubick (who otherwise got a bit of love this patch.) Rubick loves stealing Earthshaker's stuff, and Enchant Totem was previously the spell of choice for preventing the Grand Magus from getting Echo Slam. If you're using it to initiate, that's harder. And if Rubick has his own Scepter, then getting Enchant Totem is its own kind of reward.

Icefrog is a Markov Chain

There's a lot more I could say about this patch, and a lot more I want to experiment with. Storm Spirit's Aghanim's upgrade, for one—a 450-range AoE Electric Vortex! Plus: Skywrath Mage's 12-second ultimate! You'll see a lot more Skywrath/Clockwerk, Skywrath/Axe, and Skywrath/Legion Commander in the days to come. And I'll do my best to cover the best/silliest/worst new combos as they emerge.

To wrap up, however, I'd like to address 6.87's dumbest change:

Puck

Illusory Orb speed increased by 1

If you don't play Dota 2, a speed increase of 1 is not very much—at all. This is this update's joke change, a reference to a Reddit thread from last week which generated Dota 2 patch notes by feeding previous updates into a Markov chain text generator to create a machine's idea of what a Dota 2 patch might look like. There were a lot of brilliant and impossible things in that post ('Lone Druid dies', 'Torrent now give less experience with all heroes in the Forest') and one that was funny because it was so inconsequential—increasing Puck's Orb speed by 1. So that's what Valve and Icefrog have done: implemented an idea that comes directly from a joke. They definitely read reddit, is the takeaway here.

I love the idea that in a few months we'll see yet another International won by a hairs-breadth Puck play, and we'll wonder: did a a Markov chain text generator just win somebody millions of dollars?

PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

Dota 2 is about to undergo significant changes in the form of the 6.87 gameplay update revealed by Valve earlier today. Foremost among them is a change to Ranked All Pick that incorporates the addition of a 15-second “voting phase” which will take place ahead of the picking phase. Each player will vote for a different hero, half of whom will be selected at random and banned.

"Two players cannot vote for the same hero. The game displays heroes as they are voted on, but not who voted. The number of bans is equal to half the total number of votes. If there is an odd number of votes, the number of bans is randomly rounded up or down," the Dota team explained. "The random ban selection will choose at most 3 heroes from one specific team's votes, so it's more evenly split."

The update also adds a new Scan function to the minimap, which scans a selected area for eight seconds and indicates whether or not it contains any heroes. The scan “does not consider units inside the Roshan Pit, but does consider Smoked units,” and the results are a straight-up yes/no: No indication of how many enemies are present is given. On the plus side, enemy teams won't know when you've performed a scan, so your surveillance efforts won't raise any alarm bells.

Other notable points include an increase of starting HP from 180 to 200, HP per strength being boosted from 19 to 20, an increase in Hero base mana from 0 to 50, and mana per intelligence reduced—whoa, quick change of pace there—from 13 to 12. Of course, there are quite a few other changes and balance tweaks on the menu, and a small handful of new items.

The Dota 2 6.87 update will be rolled out to the main client within a couple of days, barring unforeseen disaster, but if you want an advance look at what's coming, you can take it for a spin with the Dota 2 Test client right now. Our resident Dotaphile Christ Thursten is preparing his thoughts on the patch from the penthouse of his mind palace, and will post those on PC Gamer Pro tomorrow.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Big Dota 2 [official site] patches are exciting for me. Even small changes can have huge rippling effects in the butterfly effect ‘em up that is Dota, so big patches rebalancing and reworking and adding loads are… I don’t even know. Looking at the patch notes for Dota 2 v6.87, I have no idea what shape the game will take now. Along with new items, nerfs and buffs, map layout changes, and all that, it gives teams a long-cooldown scan ability? I don’t know, man.

… [visit site to read more]

...

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