Artifact, the new Dota-themed digital card game by designer Richard Garfield and Valve Corporation, is set to release on November 28 later this year and will be publicly shown for the first time in this year’s PAX West in Seattle.
The game has a base price of $19.99 and can be purchased on all Steam platforms, namely Windows, MacOS, and Linux. A mobile version for Android and IOS will be released later on in 2019. This also marks Valve’s first priced game since August 2013, when it released Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, currently one of the top esports titles.
The game will be shown to the public for the first time in the PAX West festival in Seattle from August 31 to September 3, where a small tournament will be held. According to Valve’s press release, “players will battle each other in a continuous single elimination gauntlet for the right to challenge a champion on the main stage.” Every participant will also earn Artifact merchandise, including signed artwork prints and two keys for free copies of the game.
It’s also fitting that Valve announced Artifact’s first showing exactly seven years when it announced Dota 2’s first showing, the first-ever International back in 2011. In keeping with the theme, Valve is also planning a million-dollar tournament to vault Artifact into the esports scene sometime in the future.
Artifact will follow in the footsteps of popular Trading Card Games (TCG) like Magic: The Gathering (MTG) and probably have to contest Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone as the top dog of digital card games and esports. To do that, Valve hired MtG’s creator, the American mathematician, inventor, and game designer Richard Garfield back in 2014.
Aside from graphic and lore elements, Artifact will also be borrowing heavily from Dota 2’s gameplay mechanics. Much like any TCG, players will build a deck of cards with various attack, defense, buff, and status-changing effects and then play them against an opponent doing the same. ‘Mana’-type cards, which were popularized by MTG, will also be present. However, Artifact will set itself apart by having three separate gameplay boards, much like Dota 2’s three lanes, instead of just one as in most TCG’s. The game’s objective will also be reminiscent of a Dota 2 match, as players need to destroy two of their opponent’s towers while preventing two of their own from being destroyed, with Dota-inspired ‘Hero’, ‘creep’, and ‘item’-type cards will be integral to achieving that goal.
To that end, the game will come with 2 pre-constructed decks, each containing 5 Hero and 9 Item cards alongside an assortment of 40 other cards, and 10 sealed card packs, each having 12 random cards that has one guaranteed to be ‘rare,’ upon purchase.
“The basic concepts we were working with [on Artifact] were very flexible. There’s a lot of art and science in matching up an IP to a game mechanic and having it feel correct,” said Garfield in an interview with Ars Technica.
Valve has a track record of almost quietly developing top-tier games and releasing them seemingly out of nowhere, as with their classic Half-Life series. Artifact could very well be the most ambitious TCG yet, given its scope, new mechanics, and close ties to a vaunted esports title in Dota 2.
“Artifact is to trading card games what Half-Life 2 was to single-player action games,” said Valve co-founder Gabe Newell.
There’s no telling whether Gabe’s proclamation will end up being true or not, but at the very least we won’t have to wait as long as those who have been waiting for Half-Life 3 to find out.