DOTA 2 Winter Update: Wraith-Night
By Mohammad Abubakr
Similar to last year, Valve has gifted us with another Christmas event. However, they did not simply switch on The Greeviling from last year as they did for Diretide on Halloween. This year we have a completely new event ( at least to those that did not play Horde Mode in WC3 Dota) featuring its own story and even custom heroes. Valve has really outdone themselves this year and has raised the expectations for many fans for future updates.
These seasonal events are meant to be treated separate from the original Dota 2 5 vs. 5 game as they are played completely differently. Wraith-Night goes even further by changing the number of players and is played with only one team of five on the map. This team can be composed from a limited hero pool with the heroes having modified abilities (more on that later). The idea behind Wraith-Night is simple: defend your towers against waves of enemies. These enemies are very easy to defeat in the beginning but each individual wave requires a different strategy. One wave may allow simple nuking of waves using AoE spells while others require kiting of large boss like enemies.
All the waves are made up of entities that Dota 2 players are already familiar with. You won’t see any new monster or hero to leave you guessing. Instead, already existing jungle creeps and heroes are modified to form each individual wave. For example, one wave may consist of many tiny slarks pouncing towards you while another will have only two giant Pudges with giant hooks and force staffs.
Even the heroes played by actual players have been modified. You will still be playing heroes such as Wind Ranger (I still prefer her old name, Wind Runner…) but skills such as her Windrun have been tweaked to be better suited for this mode with a larger radius. Since a lot of work had to be done to individually modify and even add new skills (Drow Ranger can now multi shot to hit multiple targets), the hero pool had to be limited.
Finally, boxes you can open without keys.
It would not be a Christmas event if the players did not receive some gifts. The Wraith-Night does not include the traditional item drop system but it rewards players with Phantom and Shining Fragments which can be traded for gift boxes. These gift boxes can be opened for items of a guaranteed rarity, depending on the type of box. As expected, more expensive chests guarantee items of higher rarities.
Being a free to play game, there are optional items that can be purchased to increase the fragments gained during the event. The Shining Fragments are only rewarded to players who have an active Wraith King’s Favor. This 99 cent item lasts 500 minutes (in game time) and must be repurchased when it expires. For those that are into item collecting and trading, the Wraith King’s Favor is a must buy.
Once players defeat the waves of enemies, they must fight the Wraith King (new version of Skeleton King). This boss battle is very similar to the Roshan fights during Diretide and reminds me a lot of raid bosses in MMORPGs. The fight is not too difficult and consists of dealing damage while dodging the king’s spells. It’s a lot of fun the first time but can get quite repetitive.
To keep things interesting, there are two additional difficulties which will truly test teams’ coordination. New Game+ and New Game++ allow players to continue to enjoy Wraith-Night even after they have completed the original game mode. These two difficulties are really difficult to complete without a coordinated team so it is advised to get your friends together before diving into New Game+(+).
Valve just added 5 more heroes to the Wraith-Night pool!
Overall, the new game mode is amazing. It has brought a lot of new players to the game, players that just want to have some fun and not worry about playing competitively on the normal Dota 2 map. Being a programmer, the existence of Lua files has me most excited. Basically, the Wraith-Night game mode’s source files are present and have been coded using Lua. This means that the ability for custom maps should not be too far! I can’t wait to play some old WC3 maps using the Source engine.
This update not only includes Wraith-Night but also brought with it another long awaited feature. Ranked matchmaking has finally been added to Dota 2. Now competitive players can see how well they play by comparing their match making ratings. This mode is unlocked after approximately 150 games are played.
There are two different MMRs, solo and party. Solo is tracked when you are playing completely alone and party for a party of any size. The game modes are also limited to captain’s draft, captain’s mode, and all pick. It is important to note that since all pick is available, even the heroes not yet added to captain’s mode can be picked. While ranked match making is meant to be more competitive, I honestly haven’t found any change in the actual gameplay besides being able to see my ranking. Players still play with the same attitude as normal in my games.
Defeated the Wraith King!
Valve does not want players to become hostile because of each other’s MMRs. For this reason, only you and your friends are able to view your MMR ratings. I do agree with the decision to hide the MMR from the public as this can only cause hostility but I still feel players need some kind of measure to see how well they play compared to others.
As of now, you are simply ranked with a number. There is no easy (or accurate) way to determine where you rank on the ladder. It would be nice if Valve included features such as public MMR for top 500 (similar to Starcraft II’s grand master leagues) or the division system as seen in Starcraft II.
In conclusion, the Wraith-Night update is great. I’ve had a lot of fun playing the new game mode. It is a great way to relax and play Dota 2 when you do not want to play as seriously. However, I am slightly disappointed with the ranking system. It is great that we get to see the ranking but there should be some sort of method to determine where you stand.
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