Valve is planning to relaunch Artifact, its once-maligned Dota card game, with a new build and beta. It's already resurrected Half-Life with Half-Life: Alyx, so what's one more IP saved?
Work on Artifact was canned just five months after it launched in November 2018, with Valve pausing to fundamentally redesign the game before moving forward with any changes. It seems those changes have nearly reached a point that Valve is comfortable letting players sample them.
"We’ve been focusing on gameplay changes first," Valve writes. "The biggest change is zooming out to allow players access to all three lanes at once. The majority of effects still work on individual lanes so they still maintain their identity, but it’s less likely that a player will get shut out in the same way they used to. We’ve also focused on making the game easier to pick up. We aren’t selling cards, so you won’t face an opponent with a stacked deck. We’ve also added a new draft mode, Hero Draft, that gives you a taste of constructing decks without all the pressure."
Artifact's card economy was its undoing, but its split-lane assault could also lead to frustratingly snowball-y games, so these sound like good changes on paper. It's worth noting that Valve says "cards are unlocked through play" now, and "individual cards are likely to have been changed, removed, or brand new, so old decks and stats wouldn’t be valid."
Valve says it's still testing stuff internally, but its next step will be to send out closed beta invites. Players who've played the original Artifact will be prioritized. From there, it will transition to an open beta and ultimately relaunch the game. It's unclear when and how this timeline will play out, but after nearly a year of silence, it's encouraging to see Artifact moving again.
Gabe Newell says Artifact has been rebooted so dramatically that the new game is internally referred to as a sequel.