Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

This is how Adam will leave us next week. In a truck

Oh no. Somebody sound the journalists discussing journalism klaxon. Rattle it as loudly and furiously as possible, because the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, is talking about how being a critic changes the way we play. Don t blame us, blame listener Aleksei, who sent in the theme as a suggestion. But please also forgive Adam, because it s his last showing on the podcast (he s leaving RPS next week) so he deserves a bit of self-indulgence. (more…)

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

The International 2017

In the period of my life where free time basically equated to Dota time, I’d have loved nothing more than to go the International – especially if it was the one where my friends managed to get themselves trapped in a lift with Blitz. No doubt to avoid a repeat of that incident, Valve are moving this year’s main Dota 2 tournament to Canada, where every elevator comes equipped with a button that summons Justin Trudeau himself to sort things out.

So, Seattle is no longer the seat of the largest esport event in the world. Sorry, Seattle.

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Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Valve have launched a subscription service for Dota 2, named Dota Plus, which is replacing the old tournament-centric Battle Passes with gobs of ongoing statistics and cosmetic bits. Basically, paying 3 per month for Dota Plus member gives you a load of progression tracks and challenges to unlock new skins and voiced taunts and bits. It does have something for beginners too, offering access to an AI assistant giving advice across matches. But it basically continues Dota’s free-to-play philosophy of monetisation being optional and not changing the game. (more…)

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

“Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again,” studio head honcho Gabe Newell has exclaimed. During a recent press preview event for Artifact, cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer reports, Newell said that the upcoming Dota 2 card game spin-off “is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us.” What those others might be is a mystery, but this is the sort of quote that gets certain people all in a tizzy so I’ll say it at the start and you can sit here fizzing away.

For people who don’t go weak at the knees any time they see a crowbar, hey, this is hot: the Artifact team includes Richard Garfield, the designer behind such fine card and board games as Magic: The Gathering, the original Netrunner, and King Of Tokyo. Ooh! (more…)

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Valve are celebrating a big step in their push to improve gaming on non-Windows PCs after sponsoring an open-source release of software which lets devs use the zippy Vulkan graphics API on Macs. I won’t get too technical but: the MoltenVK tool runs the Vulkan API through Apple’s own Metal framework, bypassing Apple’s OpenGL drivers of ill repute. What do these acronyms actually mean for players? Valve’s own testing has seen the Mac version of Dota 2 run at framerates up to one-third faster with Vulkan than OpenGL. Obviously gains are situational and it mean nothings if developers don’t use the API, but it seems a firm foundation to lay. Congrats, Maccers. (more…)

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

dota2springcleaningheader

Dota 2 has cracked out its ‘quality of life’ duster and set about some spring cleaning. Yesterday’s patch was the first of the new fortnightly updates, and its focus is on improvements that make the game less fiddly. Dota can be more fiddly than an eleven-piece folk band, so this is good news. That’s especially true for newer players, who have enough to deal with without worrying about micromanaging the courier or figuring out which jungle camps are the deadly ones. Two of my favourite smaller changes target those issues, but there’s plenty more here besides. They’ve added in-game tips about recent hero changes, redesigned player profiles and thrown in a whole bunch of UI tweaks and balance changes – and that’s just scratching the surface.

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Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Matt Cox)

dota-2-duelling-fates

Ahh, how I miss Dota 2 patch note parties. They were glorious affairs that could go on for several hours, where me and my Dota chums would hop on skype and pour over literally hundreds of major changes to the game that formed a major part of our lives. Those mega updates would arrive a couple of times a year, and they’d mix the games up so much that much of it would have to be relearned. Dota would still get tweaked throughout the year, but those changes would typically revolve around balance adjustments rather than new additions or major reworks.

It looks like those patch note parties are a thing of the past, to be replaced with patch note… nibbles? Lead developer ‘Icefrog’ has tweeted to say that instead of huge twice-yearly updates they’re going to try smaller, fortnightly patches for the next 6 months.

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Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Valve have stopped supporting an upcoming Dota 2 tournament over concerns that the Philippines government would make “unreasonable infringements on the privacy” of players entering the country. Valve don’t elaborate on why they’re dropping the Galaxy Battles 2018 tourney, which was due to run January 15-21, but it seems mandatory government drug testing for esports players is likely to blame. The tournament might continue in some form, but it would be without Valve, not as an official ‘Major’ on the Dota Pro Circuit, and not with all the teams. (more…)

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We’ve already seen which games sold best on Steam last year, but a perhaps more meaningful insight into movin’ and a-shakin’ in PC-land is the games that people feel warmest and snuggliest about. To that end, Valve have announced the winners of the 2017 Steam Awards, a fully community-voted affair which names the most-loved games across categories including best post-launch support, most player agency, exceeding pre-release expectations and most head-messing-with. Vintage cartoon-themed reflex-tester Cuphead leads the charge with two gongs, but ol’ Plunkbat and The Witcher series also do rather well – as do a host of other games from 2017’s great and good.

Full winners and runners-up below, with links to our previous coverage of each game if you’re so-minded. Plus: I reveal which game I’d have gone for in each category. (more…)

Left 4 Dead 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Another year over, a new one just begun, which means, impossibly, even more games.> But what about last year? Which were the games that most people were buying and, more importantly, playing? As is now something of a tradition, Valve have let slip a big ol’ breakdown of the most successful titles released on Steam over the past twelve months.

Below is the full, hundred-strong roster, complete with links to our coverage if you want to find out more about any of the games, or simply to marvel at how much seemed to happen in the space of 52 short weeks.

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