Valve has announced a new way for Dota players to support the game in the form of Dota Plus.
Dota Plus is a monthly subscription service that replaces the sporadic Battle Passes that were sold in the build up to the Dota Majors and the big tournament The International.
“We’ve replaced the Majors Battle Passes with a new type of service that doesn’t depend on a specific start and end date, and one that we can continually add features and content to over time,” said Valve in a blog post.
So what does Dota Plus offer? Quite a lot and nothing at the same time.
The subscription unlocks hero levelling which allows players to earn XP every time they play a hero. When a player levels a hero up they get a new icon, a new Hero Chat Wheel response and something called Shards – which we’ll get to in a minute.
Players can also unlock relics which display “statistical milestones”. Basically it’s a way for you to show off the highest damage done with Phantom Assassin or something useless like that.
Valve is also bringing back the voice chat wheel that we saw in The International in 2017 but this time around you can only hear hero voices.
Now on to Shards.
This is the new “currency” in Dota 2 which allows players to buy “exclusive” cosmetic items. Valve is giving subscribers over 20 000 shards for completion of the Welcome Quests. You can also earn Shards by winning three games every week. You can’t buy Shards and aside from a weekly victory challenge it isn’t all that clear how one can earn shards.
The machines are watching you
Subscribers to Dota Plus also get access to Plus Assistant.
This feature uses machine learning to digest all of the data Valve gathers from across the millions of Dota games played to offer real-time insight into a match.
Which items you should buy, which skill you should level up and event which items you should buy next are all featured in the Plus Assistant.
There are some cool features such as lane strategy. An integral part of Dota is setting the right hero out on the right lane but its not ever really explained to newbies outside of deep strategical analysis by professionals. Plus Assistant can help newbies out in that regard so long as they are willing to pay up.
And that leads us nicely into the cost of all these exclusive hats, hero leveling and analytics powered by machine learning.
One month of Dota Plus will cost you R56.50 which isn’t actually all that bad until you add it up and realise you’re paying R678 a year for Dota 2.
Valve does over a discounted package for those willing to put money down for the long run. Pay for six months up front and you’ll pay R319 (5 percent discount) and a full year subscription will cost you R590 (12 percent discount).