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Daeja's View: First Impressions of the International 8 Battle Pass

Posted by Chelsea "Daeja" Jack at 09 May 2018 11:30

The International 8 Battle Pass has arrived, serving up new modes, cosmetics, other assorted odds and ends, and the International Compendium. Read on for Daeja’s first impressions!



Actual Valve employees making off with our cash; isn't Baby Jade Roshan adorable?

For nearly twenty-four hours, a portion of the Dota 2 community worked itself up into a frenzy of anticipation. Those cheeky folks at Valve teased us with a single tweet on May 7th. A single, beautiful word of a tweet, “Tomorrow…”, with an eight-seconds-long video clip of a shining, green-tinged Aegis. Valve even used one of my favorite punctuation marks, the ellipsis, to make this promise to us. Tomorrow, we would get our beloved TI Battle Pass. We would hand over fistfuls of dollars to Lord Gaben in the annual wallet-cleaning rite that ensures the TI prize pool is impressively padded. All of this in exchange for digital “hats”, chat wheel lines, and whatever else the good folks at Valve saw fit to offer.

Fast forward to the morning of May 8th. I had an article on GESC: Thailand to finish up, and then loads of time to kill while I waited for the Battle Pass’ release. I sat in the MoonduckTV Twitch chat room for much of the day. DJ Andrew “Zyori” Campbell served up music and commentary, with Trent Mackenzie occasionally checking in. It wasn't until late in the afternoon, after 4:00 pm EST, when the Dota 2 coordinator went down that I started to get caught up in the hype.  

I admit it: I got caught up in reloading pages and restarting Dota 2 over and over. Even though I knew there’d be a tweet to let me know it was live, I was still swept up by the excitement.

That’s part of TI’s magic at work. The Battle Pass somehow makes it a little more real, a little more solid. We’re suddenly on the timer, counting down to the biggest event of the year.  It was impossible for me to resist, and judging by the number of people on my friends’ list who I saw closing and opening Dota 2, I was certainly not alone.

So what’s in the Battle Pass?

The short answer is: a lot.

If you want to check out the full list, check out the GosuGamers article on it or hurry on over to Valve’s official site. If you want one person’s opinions? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because I have opinions to share!

Before we get started, let’s take a moment to appreciate just how packed full the Battle Pass is. There’s all kinds of bits and bobs to explore and use. Some stuff isn’t online quite yet, which makes it impossible to give a complete opinion on the Battle Pass, but overall, I think there’s enough here to make the basic Battle Pass worth checking out.

Without further ado, my thoughts on the International 2018 Battle Pass:

What's Neat?

Custom Lane Creeps

Very clever, Valve. Another opportunity to sell us hats. These unlock at level 190, and fit the underground theme quite nicely. The real question is: will there be additional, future opportunities for custom creeps?

Pro Circuit Predictions

Aha! I hypothesized last week that we could see this incorporated into Dota Plus for next season, but this is definitely better. Because it’s now. Also, we have the chance to earn battle points. Predictions begin with MDL Changsha, so it’s time to figure out which team will win each potential match-up!

Mutation Mode

A new game mode with different modifiers each game. My first thought was that it might make for a more hectic pace in game. I’ve already seen a few tweets that give a sense of how “balanced” this mode is—definitely not for anyone who takes their Dota 2 games *too* seriously. I think it looks like fun, but it could be frustrating as well.

Role-based Matchmaking

This came up on Twitter a few weeks ago, so I’m guessing there are people who will be happy to see role-based matchmaking given a shot. I wonder how it’ll affect wait times for games though as it’s only for Battle Pass users who queue up in this way. Minimizing disagreements about who has which role is a good thing as far as I’m concerned, so it gets a solid “Neat!”

What's Meh?

Team Challenge

Being able to spend a token to queue a five-stack to a higher difficulty Ranked game seems like a really good way to lose MMR. This is definitely something I will not be using.

In-Game Tipping

Given that each level of Battle Pass costs 1000 points, being able to tip 25 per game is pretty minor. I like that the amount you can tip goes up as you acquire Battle Pass levels, but needing to go from level 337 to 1505 to increase from 100 to 200 points seems like weird scaling. We have about 15 weeks until we can no longer buy Battle Pass levels, so anyone buying a Battle Pass can be responsible for handing out nearly four levels at minimum..  Four. People who buy the 1505 levels right away can tip up to 30 levels worth. I hope you can hear my eye-rolling. It’s a nice bonus, but it’s very small. Unless you get tipped a lot, you’re not likely to earn many levels this way, so don’t count on it!

What's Coming Soon?

The Underhollow

Some kind of PVE/PVP mode with three-player teams, reminiscent of Siltbreaker, but obviously different because there’s a PVP element. Race to get the wheel of cheese (anyone else have flashbacks to players eating the wheel of cheese at TI after the all-stars game?), and maybe earn some battle points. This one’s delayed a bit from the Battle Pass launch, but I’m already thinking about who I’ll ask to play this mode with me. I’ve heard speculation it will be Dota’s Battle Royale mode, but since we have so many arcade modes of that type, I hope it’s more on the Siltbreaker end of the spectrum.

Cavern Crawl

Play normal games with designated heroes, try to unlock three special sets. Looks like there’s some kind of map-based game involved, with an inventory and everything? Not sure, but I bet it doesn’t work when I play versus bots. The Jade Baby Roshan, a “cosmically rare reward” is pretty darn cute; I’d like that right now, please and thank you. The three sets we can earn are pretty good; I think I like Legion the most, with Bristleback a close second.

Legacy Bundle

Available later this summer, this bundle unlocks at level 615 and will have five new takes on previous Battle Pass Immortals with unlockable styles to earn through play. I’m not sure how excited to be for this because 615 is fairly high in terms of levels, requiring the investment of about $260 US to buy the levels outright with your Battle Pass. But I’m sure once we know which items are being revisited, I’ll be hyped to buy them. It’s hard to resist shiny new cosmetics.

What About the Rewards?

Note: There’s also sprays, taunts, a Lion legacy item and more that I don’t comment on below. Most of them I just didn’t get too excited about; I’m sorry for skipping them if any happened to be your favorite thing in the Battle Pass!

Immortals

Only the first Immortals Treasure set is available right now, with ten different items, four of which are increasingly more rare. The descriptions of rarity amused me: Rare, Very Rare, Ultra Rare, Cosmically Rare. Of all ten, the Rare Lich item interests me the most. Phantom Assassin’s Ultra Rare is also pretty sweet, and of the common items, I wanted Vengeful Spirit the most. After opening five Immortals, it was the only common one I didn’t get, so I picked up an extra pack of levels to get a sixth Immortal I to finish up the set.

Chat Wheel Sounds (10 Different Levels)

For some reason, the chat wheel has always been pretty darn popular with vocal fans. I think it’s neat to hear the effects once or twice, but then it becomes part of the general noise of the game. Maybe I’m just not doing it right?

Announcer Pack (Level 75)

A Meepo announcer pack. Well, a new announcer pack is cool, right? I’m not sure about Meepo...but am I really likely to switch off The Stanley Parable announcer for any length of time anyways? Come on.

New Terrain (Level 160)

Last year’s terrain was cool, but made it really hard to watch the game because the terrain was so busy. One of my friends who only really watches TI commented on how it made the game too visually muddy for him to follow along. This year’s terrain looks much crisper and cleaner, which is awesome! I haven’t unlocked it yet; I’m pacing myself.

Courier

Eimer Hillburrow is this year’s courier, a mole riding a cart, and I have to admit I prefer last year’s crab with the changeable shell. I use the book version (no surprise to anyone who knows me), and I love it. Eimer’s upgrades change the look of his equipment so he becomes one badass burrowing buddy. But I’m not entirely sold. Thematically, it really fits, and maybe once I unlock the new terrain, I’ll find him adorably suited to it?

Returning Unlockables

River vials (does anyone use these?), eighteen seasonal effects to make your game even more green, mushroom wards (adorable, I need these), a music pack, and bonus shards and battle points for Dota Plus subscribers are all dotted along the various Battle Pass levels.

At level 1000, you receive your own real-world miniature Aegis, and at 2000, a Baby Roshan statue.

What's Missing?

There’s a few things missing; probably there's more missing than I've noticed so far. An obvious missing element is the hero quests, which are now a major component of Dota Plus. Cavern Crawl seems to take the place of the Paths we've seen in previous Battle Passes. Hopefully it delivers! Also missing is tower-levelling alongside your team’s compendium levels. I actually liked this, so I’m a little disappointed we’re not getting it this year. I guess we’ve got the lane creep cosmetic instead!

What's My Bottom Line?

So what’s my final verdict? It’s too early to give a strong, “Yes, this is awesome / No, it is not” opinion, I think. Knowing how the Underhollow and Cavern Crawl will work and seeing some more of the Immortals will help toward forming a final opinion.

Still, my initial impression is there’s a ton of stuff packed into this Battle Pass. While quests have been relegated to Dota Plus, there’s plenty of fun cosmetics to collect. Hopefully Cavern Crawl will provide players with an ongoing goal to replace the missing quests. In my original notes, I wrote “Dota Plus is gameplay product, Battle Pass is aesthetic delight.” Once the novelty of the new cosmetics wears off, we’re really going to need the Underhollow, Cavern Crawl, and Mutation Mode to do some heavy lifting.

Of course, Valve will release the new Immortals and other “later in the summer” cosmetics just often enough to keep us hooked on acquiring more Battle Pass levels. The deadline to buy levels is August 26th, so we have until then to pace ourselves.

What new Battle Pass feature are you most excited about or disappointed by? Tell me in the comments below!

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