UPDATE: The DOTA 2 International Championships officially begin today, August 8th, and run until August 13th. The tournament features a record-setting community-funded prize purse of over $20 million. You can watch the event via livestream right now and also in VR using the new DOTA 2 VR Hub, detailed below.
ORIGINAL: Valve’s next virtual reality compatible game has finally arrived… sort of.
The SteamVR creator and Half-Life developer has today launched an update for one of its most popular titles, DOTA 2. The update is entirely based around this year’s edition of the multiplayer online battle arena’s (MOBA’s) official e-sports championships, The International, which kick off early next week and run through to mid-August. There are new features like the ability to make predictions about how the tournament will go, earning you Battle Points. The most intriguing new addition, however, is support for the HTC Vive.
No, you can’t actually play DOTA 2 within VR, it would seem, but Valve has added what it calls the DOTA VR Hub. This is essentially a spectator mode that offers two options. The first is to meet up with other fans and watch matches via a VR Theater on a massive screen. That sounds fairly standard, but more exciting is the ability to actually enter the game world itself by jumping through a minimap. From there you can watch full games in VR from a bird’s-eye view and even head down closer into the action and get a full view of the carnage as if you were standing in the middle of it.
As you can see from the footage above, the mode looks pretty competent. You can teleport around the arena using the Vive’s position-tracked wands and get a view of the action with a massive map in front of you. Heading into the world brings it to life like never before. This makes DOTA 2 the second Valve game to get HTC Vive support, the other being its free collection of minigames, The Lab.
According to an FAQ, the mode supports up to 15 friends and will also allow you to browse through the game’s army of heroes and items and look at them in full scale. This sounds somewhat similar to the DOTA 2 VR experience that Valve showcased at last year’s finals for the International. The spectator mode itself has also been teased at several points over the past year. Presumably the company will have another such showcase for the Vive running at this year’s event, which will again be taking place at the Key Arena in Seattle from August 6th – 13th.
That’s not the only DOTA 2 VR news this week; Valve has also launched a special edition of the Vive itself that branded with the game, though all that’s really different is a new headstrap. We don’t yet know what will become of the VR support once the championship is over, though hopefully it sticks around.
Could some sort of playable VR support be implemented down the line? We’d certainly hope so.