Dota 2: The Store Has Opened!
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
The release of the Dota 2 store did not come as a shock to anyone keeping up with the game. There has always been talk about the pricing model behind Dota 2 ever since it was first announced. After Valve officially announced that it will be a free to play game, the release of the store was inevitable.
Fortunately, the team behind Dota 2 at Valve have taken into consideration the balance issues that additional items may bring to the game. They have gone as far as unlocking all current and future heroes to all players for free! The items in the store are purely cosmetic and do not affect the game in any way.
There have been concerns about players being unable to distinguish between heroes because of equipped accessories but Valve is working to only allow items which match the game’s art style. As of now all the items blend perfectly with the game and hopefully this will remain to be true as the store progresses.
The most exciting feature in the Dota 2 Store is the integration of the Steam Workshop. For those that are unfamiliar with the Steam Workshop, it allows the community to contribute towards the game. Your creations get voted by the community and if they are popular and Valve approved, they will be added into the game to be used by the community.
The Steam Workshop will continue to bring in creative and well thought additions into the game due to the large number of users. You will undoubtedly see items that make you say, “That is so cool.” or “Why didn’t I think of that?” If the Steam workshop in Dota 2 is as successful as that in TF2, where Valve gave out over a million dollars in the first year to the contributors as their cuts of sales, we will see some great additions to the game.
Unlike other Action RTS (real time strategy), the cosmetic items in Dota 2 come in pieces. This is very similar to TF2 items and you have items for your head, body, weapon and back. You can mix and match any items from various sets to create your own unique look. These items are restricted to specific heroes to keep the heroes identifiable. There are also non-hero items such as couriers, taunts and announcers. I really badly want a GLaDOS announcer pack.
Dota 2 Loadout
To obtain said items, you simply play the game and have a chance to find items at the end of each match. This is very similar to the time based system used in Team Fortress 2. The chances are pretty decent to obtain items but there will be matches where you play for over an hour and end up finding nothing. It can be kind of confusing at first when you think you have found an item but it does not appear in your inventory, but keep in mind that the game displays all items found by all the players. Look out for your name under the items.
All of the items in the store are obtainable through simply playing the game except some tools such as keys. This makes it really easy to play the game without having to spend any money and still obtain all you need. You can always trade items for keys if you really want to open those chests.
The Backpack Menu
There are chests for each hero which can be opened by purchasing a key for a measly $2.49. Keep in mind that these small payments do add up quickly once you get hooked on opening chests. These chests give you a random item that is listed for each chest including strange items and couriers with effects.
If you have ever played Team Fortress 2, strange items work the exact same way. These are simply items which level up as you play the game. When they level up their label changes, however they are purely for cosmetic and stat tracking purposes. The requirements to level up the items range from kills to victories to trees summoned.
If you get very lucky you may end up opening a super rare item such as a courier with effects. There are various effects such as flame effects with random colors or nature trails behind the courier. Chests do tend to give many duplicate items and chances to obtain rare items such as couriers are very low. Once again, these are all cosmetic and are used to stand out in the game.
The battle point system has also been incorporated and acts as the leveling up system in Dota 2. For every game you play, you receive battle points. You require 1000 points for each level up which then awards you with a free item upon leveling up. This is a nice little system that allows unlucky players to have a guarantee of eventually finding an item. Battle Point modifiers may also be purchased to increase the rate of leveling from the Dota 2 Store. As of now the battle point system seems pretty useless besides showing how long you have played and receiving a free item upon level up. Maybe in the future this system will be used for level specific items. I am certain that this system will never be used to provide unfair advantages to higher level players in game.
Flaming Yak Courier
The market for Dota 2 has just begun to flourish and will hopefully evolve into the massive market present in Team Fortress 2. Even now the couriers with effects are going for over $60 each and these prices are bound to go up as limited edition items begin to enter the store.
I am personally very happy with the outcome of the Dota 2 store and cannot wait for new player contributed items. Eighty percent of the currently released items have all been community contributions. Hopefully everything will stay reasonable and fit in with the game.
Valve has also begun to sell Dota 2 Invite packages including an invite to the beta along with some items for $40 if you would like to play the game before release. I highly recommend trying this game but try to find invites elsewhere before committing $40 for this free-to-play action RTS. It’s not that it won’t be worth it, but invites can be found for less.