With Dota 2's huge annual tournament, The International, drawing near-ish, Valve have launched a new Battle Pass to help boost the prize pool. Dota 2's Battle Passes are multi-faceted doodads including access to new modes, challenges, a sticker album, progression tracks to grind through, and oh so very many cosmetic pretties to unlock and collect. This year, it includes a battle royale-soundin' mode. Battle Passes cost £7 to start, though you can pay extra to skip ahead in the unlock grind, and 25% of the proceeds go to The International 2018's prize pool.
So! Buying a level 1 Battle Pass for £7/€8/$10 will get you in and started. You'll get to join in the Cavern Crawl challenge, which takes the usual 'win games as this hero' and wraps it in the dressing of a dungeon crawl, picking heroes/branches through a dungeon to find treasure including cosmetic doodads and, of course, Battle Pass progress.
Mutation mode will let Battle Passers queue for games with a random modifiers, "ranging from global Rupture events to the ability to resurrect your teammates." That'll change daily, always keeping it weird.
The Battle Pass will also grant access to The Undercrawl, a "multi-team dungeon clash" mode, when it launches "soon." Three-player teams will venture into a dungeon to win cheese, fighting other teams and NPC beasties as cave-ins push them closer together until one team is left standing and claims the Roshefort Wheel. Sounds battle royale-y, yeah?
As for shinies, the level Battle Pass will give three International loot boxes containing random cosmetics from pools, a new courier that's a mole in a minecraft, cute snail wards, a new Phoenix taunt, new cursors, new music, some pro player trading cards, and a vote in which hero gets the next mega-expensive 'Arcana' cosmetic set.
Levelling up the Battle Pass by completing challenges or just plain paying unlocks more taunts, cosmetic effects, item boxes, chat wheel sayings and sprays, and so on.
Towards the ludicrous end, way past the point one could reasonably level to by playing, the Pass unlocks the cavernous map style named 'The Emerald Abyss' full of mushrooms and stalactites and stalagmites, unique creep models, mega-fancy items... all the way up to a gleaming golden style for Roshan at level 2000. That will cost so very, very, very much money ($846 if you didn't grind for levels at all). Please don't encourage Valve by buying all this.
The Battle Pass also include the curious option to force your team into matchmaking against a team ranked as better than you, by redeeming Team Challenge Tokens earned along the levelling track. Beat 'em and you'll get a bigger amount of MMR than usual.
I dislike the Battle Pass being required for role-based matchmaking, a feature that many have been requesting for yonks. Here's how Valve explain it:
"Now Battle Pass owners can set their Lane Preference before they even enter the queue. Just match into the new Ranked Roles mode with a lane selected—either Safe, Mid, Offlane, or Support. The matchmaker will build a complete group, and show each player's position to your team during pre-game. You can still choose whichever hero best fits your needs, but now you'll be able to build your strategy knowing exactly which roles your teammates want to play."
Sounds good, dunnit? Sounds like something that'd be great as a feature the game just has rather than something to pay extra for, dunnit? Or heck, included with the Dota Plus subscription service. Bah.
Anyway. The Battle Pass is out now. The International 2018 runs August 20-25th, with a prize pool already past $4 million.