Before we tell you about the actual game, there’s another bit of news you’ll probably find very interesting – after a long period of primarily developing and investing in hardware and VR technology, Valve Corp is about to start shipping games again. That’s right, after a long break from publishing actual games, Valve will start making more.
Artifact is the first of those – a DOTA 2 based card game. According to world-famous Gabe Newell, the co-founder of Valve, “Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that’s sort of good news. Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again.”
He certainly seems quite excited at the news, and we were too – Valve’s games are always pretty good, and since so many of them are free-to-play (or dirt-cheap), it’s no surprise that gamers are looking forward to whatever is coming. We say ‘whatever’ because other than Artifact, we don’t know what these announced games are going to be.
Valve might be saving the announcement for E3 this June, but it’s still too soon to speculate much – not that that has stopped fans and excited gamers from guessing what could be next.
Here is another quote from Newell that really makes us hope that their next few games will change, well, the game:
“We’ve always been a little bit jealous of companies like Nintendo. When Miyamoto is sitting down and thinking about the next version of Zelda or Mario, he’s thinking what is the controller going to look like, what sort of graphics and other capabilities. He can introduce new capabilities like motion input because he controls both of those things. And he can make the hardware look as good as possible because he’s designing the software at the same time that’s really going to take advantage of it.”
We already know that there are three full VR games in the works – these were announced last year – but with no further info or anything even close to a release date, we’ll probably see a few other things first. One of these things is Artifact.
When it comes to gameplay, there are some pretty standard elements in the game. Each deck will consist of 40 cards and include 5 heroes – just like a DOTA 2 team. There will be some 280+ cards and 44 heroes.
Each card can be included no more than three times, and much like we’ve seen in Magic:The Gathering, there will be four colours with different personalities and themes. The colours are red, green, black and blue.
Since it’s Dota-themed, it’ll be no big surprise that in the game you have to control three lanes at once – essentially, you play three games at once, and each lane is essential for your overall success. This is a pretty clever way to expand on Valve’s DOTA 2 map and the lane-system. At first glance it might seem like it could cause some issues with players being a little overwhelmed, but if the learning curve is anything like the actual game, we have high hopes.
From what we’ve seen, the game features nice graphics and well-made effects as well as some pretty neat cards. A card game like this lives and dies with the designs and abilities as well as the variety of the available cards and additions, and it seems like Valve Corp isn’t going to be stingy in that regard.
Other elements will be like DOTA 2 too – there will be creeps spawning every round, there is a tower to be protected, and losing too many towers means game over. When a tower is destroyed, it is replaced by the Ancient, which has twice as much health as the tower – if one of those is destroyed, you also win the game.
A dead hero can respawn after sitting out for a round, so even your dead cards can still be helpful for you. One green hero can come back without sitting out a round, but that’s all we know. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing is round-based and each player gets to deploy one card before the other player can – when all cards are where they need to be, combat plays out.
There is even a gold mechanic – as you kill enemies and creeps, you gain gold – you can also use a black card titled ‘Day at the Track’ to double what you have – and in between rounds you can spend it on some sweet loot and equipment in the Shopping Phase. Equipment is only for heroes and each hero has three different slots – weapon, armour and accessory.
It’s unknown what exactly the cards are going to be, but we do expect some familiar faces – or at least something close to the heroes we know and love (and the ones we loathe) – this is Valve after all.
The game is in closed beta on Steam already. If you’re curious about the design of the cards, or the art style seems familiar to you, there’s a reason for that – Valve got one of the best designers there is in on their project. Richard Garfield, the designer of Magic: The Gathering has played an integral role in the game’s development. Magic: The Gathering is still one of the most popular card games out there, so his involvement all but guarantees some pretty epic cards.
Oh, and there is another thing that gives us hope that this game will be epic – one more quote from Newell:
“From a really high level perspective, we really want to stay away from pay-to-win. We think that that actually has a pernicious impact on the design of the game and the evolution of the community over time… There are plenty of very common cards that are going to be super powerful. The whole point is to steer away from pay-to-win and that kind of approach. We always want to reward investment. You always want to feel like, as a player, that the more time you spend on it, you’re getting better and you’re enjoying it more. We’ve all played plenty of games where you put in the hundred hours and you really are done.”
Forget ‘I love you’, THAT is what we really want to hear!
Either way we can’t wait to play this three-lane, Dota-themed game. It sounds like everything we could want from a new Valve game. Well, almost everything. It isn’t Half-Life 3 after all, and that is what we want from Valve more than anything.
Let’s call Artifact a close second-best, shall we?