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Speedrunning charity marathon Summer Games Done Quick is barrelling towards us at top speed, and it ll be here in just a few hours. Raising money for Doctors Without Borders, players will be rushing through more than a hundred games for a non-stop week. If you ve never seen a speedrun before, imagine how fast you could get through your favourite game. Now throw that idea away, because these people get weirder and glitchier than you could anticipate.
Defying all we thought we knew about Valve Time, the studio have just simultaneously titled and launched Dota Underlords. It’s Valve’s take on ultra-popular Dota 2 mod Auto Chess, which they had been teasing for a while now. While the game will eventually be free-to-play, with an open beta due in approximately a week, they’ve just opened the floodgates to anyone with a Dota 2 2019 Battle Pass. It supports eight players online and has AI bots to play against too. Below, a video from YouTuber “Kripparrian” giving it a quick peek.
Not only are Valve making a standalone version of mega-hit Dota 2 mod Dota Auto Chess, the mod’s creators yesterday announced they’re releasing a standalone Auto Chess on PC too. And this came mere hours after Riot Games announced an Auto Chess clone mode for League Of Legends. It’s rare to see a mod attempt to bloom into a full genre in real time.
Riot Games have announced a new League Of Legends mode named Teamfight Tactics, which is heavily inspired by Dota 2 mod Auto Chess. Y’know, the turn-based mod about buying and melding AI-controlled heroes, which has grown so popular that Valve are making an official standalone spin-off. Teamfight Tactics looks like that but in LoL and with a few tweaks to make it fresh and friendlier. It’ll first launch on June 24th. This seems the point that Auto Chess goes from a mod to a genericised mode, which I suppose is fitting considering MOBAs are a genre grown from autocannibalism.
Half-Life 2 is nearly fifteen years old now, and despite Valve’s sequel plans seemingly fizzling out, it doesn’t look a day over ten thanks to the efforts of modders. Chances are that Half-Life 2 and its expansions have been gathering dust on your Steam account for years now, so here’s a quick refresher — mostly focused on the past five years — on what’s available, single player-wise. Want to turbo-charge the original game, or send Gordon Freeman on a whole new adventure? We’ve got you covered both ways, plus a trio of Silent Hill-inspired spookfests. Below, a hand-picked basket of goodies, and a crowbar to open it.
While Valve work away on their own standalone version of Dota Auto Chess, they’re helping the original Dota 2 mod by making it one of the select few selling paid premium features in the game’s store. Launched over the weekend, the Auto Chess Pass gives a month of fancy cosmetic bits and bonus rewards for less than a quid. It’s mostly just fancybits, with the mod still free for everyone to play in full. This is pretty rare for Valve to do, especially given their caution following the Steam paid mods fiasco.
Valve are joining all those great internet thought-leaders and telling you to clean your room, or at the very least to play the games that you’ve bought on Steam. Running this weekend until May 28th, 6pm GMT, the Steam Spring Cleaning Event provides a front-page checklist of games to try or return to, and rewarding the diligent with goodies to decorate their account page with.
All fluff, really, but as good an excuse as any to dust off something you might have picked up a few sales back. Of course, undermining this push, there’s also a bunch of free weekend trials open on discounted games which also count towards your total. The list includes action RPG Grim Dawn, four-on-one competitive horror game Dead By Daylight and stylish 4X sci-fi strategy game Endless Space 2.
Dota Auto Chess, the most popular mod in Dota 2 these days (and which has nothing to do with chess), is becoming a standalone game made by Valve themselves. I had not predicted that this would be Valve’s next game. Valve say they talked with mod creators Drodo Studio about working together and, while dreams of collaboration fell flat, they did agree to each work on their own versions of it. Presumably some money is changing hands too? So Valve are now making a standalone Dota Auto Chess while Drodo are continuing to work on the mod as well as their own mobile game that basically just replaces the characters. So that’s a game based on a mod for a game based on a Warcraft 3 mod based on a StarCraft mod.
Dota 2‘s International 2019 Battle Pass has plenty of issues. As Matt wrote earlier this month, alongside a waterfall of cosmetics and a special mode, the pass will unlock an in-game assistant that seems to give owners an advantage over those who haven t forked over at least 7.50/$10. But (as reported by The Verge) the pass is paywalling another key feature the ability to avoid players.
Obviously, you shouldn t have to pay to access the ability to not group up with abusive players. Valve calls this an experimental feature (by many accounts it s not working well), suggesting that it could be extended out to all players after this test on Battle Pass owners. More surprising, then, is the fact that Dota 2 has been out for six years without the option to not have to play with someone ruining the fun, whether it be throwing games or yelling slurs. And yet, even though how other people act is a huge part of the experience of many online games, giving players the ability to regulate their interactions often seems to be a secondary concern for developers.
Are you looking to meet heavily-armed and available men in your area for hot action… and maybe more? Someone who won’t flashbang you then run? Or fancy a group of like-minded murdermen for chat and banter? Pick up your mouse and click on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which has added a looking-for-group system to help players party up and party down. The game already has matchmaking but this lets players investigate each other and have a chat before they commit to anything.