'Dota 2' Battle Passes Need Quests (Or Other Goals) That Aren't Tied To Wins

Dota 2 - The International
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Valve continues to find new and interesting ways to make winning more exciting in Dota 2 , most of which are tied to the Battle Passes released ahead of each Dota 2 Major (and The International). But it would be nice to see the team behind the world’s greatest MOBA -- it’s science, don’t bother arguing -- find more ways to make losing less frustrating. And I think the Dota 2 team could learn a lot from the fantasy sports scene.

For many, fantasy sports are more than just a way to kill time or procrastinate on those Monday mornings when you definitely don’t want to be in the office. It’s like adding Powerball’s Power Play multiplier to your weekly regimen. Your favorite team won’t win every week -- just like 99.9 percent of us are never going to claim a lottery jackpot -- but winning your weekly (or daily, depending on the sport) fantasy game can take some of the sting out of a bitter loss in the real world. Sure, the Green Bay Packers are going to lose a game here and there. But the bad weeks don’t seem as bad when my fantasy team grabs the win my favorite team couldn’t. Just like the Power Play can transform that $4 1+1 slip -- for the non-gamblers out there: a 1+1 is a lottery ticket that matches one of the five standard numbers and the Powerball -- into a $20 score. It’s not much. You probably aren’t going to brag about those winnings to your coworkers. But it’ll cover the cost of a decent dinner.

I’ve been getting a similar feeling from Dota 2 recently, during my never-ending struggle to escape MMR Hell, courtesy of this year’s International Ranked queue. International Ranked is a queue that’s only available during the months leading up to The International -- the annual Dota 2 world championship tournament hosted in Seattle -- and gives players a chance to replace their existing ranked MMR. Players are paired with people a bit farther outside their own skill level, for better or worse, in International Ranked, giving you more frequent chances to prove you can (or can’t) keep up with players ranked higher than yourself. It also means there are more chances to roll through less-qualified opponents, provided you have the skills to do so.

Every win in International Ranked is exciting because it brings me a step closer to playing with more skilled competitors after International Ranked goes away in mid-August. I’m currently sitting more than 100 points above my existing MMR, and have been winning more than losing since the Battle Pass debuted on May 4. It’s even made it easier to accept the many occasions in which I’ve failed to complete a Battle Pass quest. Coming up short means it’ll take even longer for my digital guidebook to level up, and makes it that much less likely I’ll earn this season’s rewards -- like the underwater terrain or the new Io arcana -- but knowing my International Ranked MMR improved makes that fact easier to accept. I just wish Valve would find some way to make the opposite true.

Losses are an inevitable part of any MOBA. But the quests Valve includes with each new Battle Pass are the perfect opportunity to take some of the sting out of defeat without cheapening the experience or giving players an incentive to abandon their team. Sure, the goals put forth need to be a bit higher. Many of the quests associated with victory, like winning with fewer than five deaths, would need to be retooled before being attainable during a loss. You don’t want to give players any incentive to sit in the fountain while their teammates are still trying to scrape out a win. But why shouldn’t a member of the losing team receive a few Battle Points if they emerged from the match with the highest kill count and lowest number of deaths on the team?

I understand there’s a commercial aspect to Battle Passes and their ongoing support. Part of the reason Valve can deliver four digital guidebooks per year, along with all of the corresponding rewards, is because players frequently spend money on additional levels. And giving the community another means of earning Battle Points removes some of the incentive to buy those levels. But quests that can be earned during a loss would also give Dota 2 players a chance to minimize the sense of lost time and/or wasted effort that can frequently follow a loss. And who’s to say that an increase in Battle Point distribution wouldn’t lead to a similar increase in purchased levels?

It seems unlikely such a change would be introduced as part of the current Battle Pass, which will only remain active until the end of The International, but there’s plenty of time for the Dota 2 team to implement loss-friendly quests before whatever Major follows TI7.  And if Valve is going to keep requiring absurdly high Battle Pass levels for rewards that would typically cost much less -- we’re looking at you, Io arcana -- the least the company could do is make it a bit easier keep your Battle Pass progress going. Even when you’re saddled with a terrible team.

Dota 2 is in currently available on Windows and OS X.

Be sure to check back with iDigitalTimes and follow Scott on Twitter for more Dota 2 news in 2017 and however long Valve supports Dota 2 in the years ahead.

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