Update 13 December 2013: The patch is now live.
I’d say “I called it“, but frankly, I don’t know that it comes as much of a surprise. 12 December (which is technically today for people in or east of the UK, but we’ll call it “tomorrow” anyway) will see the next Dota 2 patch, which has Frostivus being cancelled in favour of Wraith-Night… and which adds Legion Commander as a playable hero. And, obviously, more. Lots more.
Wraith-Night first. Skeleton King has resurrected too many times and is starting to crumble, but the Wraith-Night – a once-in-a-millennium event – gives him the opportunity to harvest the energy for his “next coronation.” Five heroes will have to defend his comatose body from beasts coming to destroy him; the more you kill, the more energy he gets. Hold them off until dawn and he’ll be reborn as Wraith King. This does mean he’s out of the game for the duration, but he’ll presumably be back when Frostivus ends – most likely in a new visual form, as Wraith King.
As for what you get out of this: the more successful you are in Wraith-Night, the more Phantom Fragments you get, and Phantom Fragments can be traded in for “lockless reliquaries” – presumably chests that don’t require keys. You can also purchase Wraith King’s Favour to get a hold of Shining Fragments as well; these can be traded in for treasure boxes containing unique gems and rare socketed items, or traded in for a recipe that’ll help craft a Relic of the Wraith King.
Of course, if you prefer basic Dota 2 to bonus game modes, you’ll likely be more interested in the addition of Tresdin the Legion Commander. This dangerous lady has the abilities Overwhelming Odds, Press the Attack, Moment of Courage, and Duel. The first deals damage and grants bonus movement speed for each enemy in the area. The second removes debuffs and disables from an ally and grants bonus attack speed and regeneration. The third causes her to counterattack with lifesteal whenever she’s attacked. The fourth – her ultimate – locks her into a duel with an enemy hero, with the winner receiving a permanent increase to bonus damage.
A rather interesting armour set will be going on sale for her, too. This set – the Blades of Voth Domosh – switches her polearm over for a pair of swords. This means a new set of animations; extra dialogue; an altered voice; a new base skin and ambient effects; a separate hero icon, portrait, loadout pose and minimap icon; new effects and a new spell icon for Duel; and it’s socketed with a gem that tracks your lifetime Duel victories, displayed whenever you win a Duel. Purchase it before 3 January and it’ll be Exalted quality.
That’s a hell of an armour set (and opens up quite a lot in terms of massively changing the appearance/animation/voices of other heroes, through cosmetics) but considering Fiery Soul of the Slayer costs £21 and all that does is set Lina’s head on fire (and change animations and icons), I’m going to assume Blades of Voth Domosh will be seven million pounds.
Speaking of Lina, she’ll be getting an Announcer Pack. And Battle Point Boosters are now 500 minutes, instead of set to calendar time. And there are new Frostivus Crates that – amongst other things – will offer cosmetic items for Earthshaker, Tusk, and Crystal Maiden. And you’ll be able to recruit friends and get a Battle Point bonus whenever you play together (up to them hitting level 10). And you can spectate tournament matches with your friends as long as one of you has a ticket. And the tutorials will be heavily updated, and will introduce players to items. And there’ll be “longer term goals” for more experienced players, which will guarantee higher-quality item finds.
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Oh, and Ranked Matchmaking mode will be added.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL. There’s also the usual slew of additions and fixes due to general patch stuff. There are quite a few hefty changes, but most pressing are things like the ability to display the minimap on the right instead of the left, the addition of a sound when teammates give you an item, you now get an abandon if one of your party members abandons, and… oh, look, just go and read the patch notes at the bottom of this huge announcement page.
I will no doubt write a breathless news story whenever this Dota 2 patch goes live, which I imagine will probably be late evening on 12 December. Do look forward to it.