Did you miss it? Artifact's back, and it's not quite how you remember it. After a year of tinkering following that disastrous 2018 debut, Valve are ready to re-introduce the Dota 2 card game to the world. This week's brief demonstration runs through some of the promising changes arriving with Artifact 2.0 - and if you're lucky, you may be able to try the beta yourself starting next week.
Details on Artifact's upcoming reboot have been trickling out of Valve for months - from its hard pivot away from Artifact's card marketplace to word the card-shuffler will have a singleplayer campaign. This week, we got our first look Artifact 2.0 in action, courtesy of this condensed gameplay preview from Valve.
In the vid, two Valve devs run through a round of Artifact's new Hero Draft mode, a new addition that'll build a deck for you based on the heroes you draft up. After a back and forth featuring some of that delicious placeholder cart art, we jump into Artifact's extremely work-in-progress new "frankenboard" (with the assurance that a much nicer 3D board is currently in production).
While it's been streamlined somewhat, much of Artifact's original design remains. You'll still need to burst two towers (or take down a single lane, twice), and combat still plays out one lane at a time - playing out in alternating directions each turn. I do feel it loses something in the single-screen overview, removing much of the sense of fighting across three fronts, but it's inarguably much easier to keep a track of things in this new format.
Removing frustration points seems to be a priority for the Artifact reboot. As gestured at by the removal of random creep deployment, you can now choose precisely where to deploy your heroes. The between-round item shop has also been renovated, letting you upgrade the shop to access higher tiers of item cards or invest for some extra gold should nothing catch your eye.
Artifact 2.0 might look a long way off from completion, but Valve are keen to start bringing in beta testers as soon as possible. "The Beta for the original game started too late and was too short," the devs posted on the Artifact blog earlier this week. "We’ve decided to approach things a bit differently this time around by gradually inviting people to join us while we are still 'Under Construction.'"
They'll be trickling out invitations starting with folks who've had the original Artifact in their Steam library (installed or not) earlier than March 2020. If that's you, keep an eye on your inbox - invites will start rolling out from next week.