With the hype surrounding The International 2015 continuing to grow, Valve have revealed which 10 teams have been directly invited to the tournament due to their recent performance in the professional scene or their past glories. These 10 teams have automatically made it into the main event at KeyArena in August 2015 and will not need to do anything else to secure a place. The teams include Vici Gaming, Evil Genuises, Team Secret, Invictus Gaming, LGD Gaming, Cloud9, Team Empire, Virtus Pro, NewBee, and Team Malaysia, as shown below.
As you can see, the direct invites include TI2 Champions "Invictus Gaming" and TI4 Champions "NewBee", both of whom will return to defend their honour. TI1 Winners "Natus Vincere" and TI3 Winners "Alliance" have not received direct invites and must instead fight through the European Qualifier due to poor performance and multiple roster changes over the past year.
The remaining 6 slots in the tournament will be filled by 4 winners of Regional Qualifiers and a pair of Wild Card Winners, who will be selected from a potential 4 runner-up teams who will fight it out after the conclusion of all regional qualifiers. While most of the participants for the Regional Qualifiers have already been decided, each mini-event features an extra slot available for more teams to participate should they win any of the Regional Opens. Teams looking to participate in these Opens must sign up via the Invite Announcement page, so be sure to head on over and check it out if you're interested.
Following a brief hint last week, Valve and Zen Studios have today revealed "Portal Pinball", a Portal-themed pinball game (duh). The game, created by Zen Studios, features Portal 2 assets, its distinct visual style, and a series of themed gameplay mechanics as you "guide Chell and Wheatley through test chambers" by playing pinball on various specially designed tables.
The game will ship on Zen Studio's pinball platforms sometime during the week of May 25th 2015, with no price point currently available. While it certainly isn't quite "Portal 3" or the direct sequel/prequel many would have hoped for, I'm personally pretty happy to see the Portal brand expanded in this manner without it having any canonical effect on Valve's established universe.
Take a look at some screenshots from Portal Pinball below and let us know what you think!
After three extra years of development since its original release back in 2012, the total Half-Life conversion mod "Black Mesa" has finally been released on to Steam, albeit in early access. While still extremely similar to the original version, the updated singleplayer campaign features improved visuals, new voice overs and dialogue, updated gameplay encounters, improved stability, and more. Unfortunately, the final few chapters of the game set on the mysterious Xen borderworld are still not complete and are therefore not included in this early access Steam version.
While the Xen chapters are still missing, one major feature that is included in this new release is a fully functional multiplayer mode supporting Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, with more promised in the future. The multiplayer mode is supported by the Steam Workshop and a more stable version of Valve's Hammer Editor which players can use to create and upload their own custom maps. As revealed last week, the Steam version of Black Mesa also features trading cards, backgrounds, emoticons, and achievements as part its Steamworks integration.
Black Mesa is currently available for £14.99 on Steam Early Access, so be sure to let us know what you think of this new, and hopefully improved version of the game should you decide to check it out!
As promised, the Interactive Compendium for the International 2015 Dota 2 tournament has been released. Like previous years, the virtual book stands both as a guide for the tournament and as a way for Valve to generate a larger prize pool. Available for $9.99 or £6.69, the compendium provides players a huge variety of new items that are exclusive to The International 2015 as well as opportunities to unlock even more rewards as the prize pool increases. As always, 25% of all compendium sales go to increasing The International's prize pool.
There's a ridiculous number of potential rewards available for purchasing this year's compendium, including three different Immortal Treasures containing 8 new items and a whole host of other benefits, which we'll list in the spoiler tag below. The list is definitely worth checking out as it features some totally new stretch goals unique to this year's event, including a brand new "Desert Terrain" map skin, a comic, an even a Saxxy-like community short film contest with $20,000 being offered to each winner.
- $1,600,000: Compendium Coins - A new way to earn more items, you earn Compendium Coins by completing Coin Charms, finishing challenges, earning trophies, random drops, and predictions. Increase your Compendium Level to boost your earnings.
- $2,000,000: Cursor Pack - Point your way to victory with The International 2015 Cursor Pack.
- $2,500,000: All-Star Vote - Vote for who you think should battle it out at The International in the All-Star Match.
- $3,000,000: Immortal Treasure I - All Compendium owners get their hands on new Immortal items when they open their Immortal Treasure I. Increase your Compendium Level to earn additional Immortal Treasures.
- $3,500,000: Arcana Vote - Vote for which hero you think should receive the next Arcana.
- $4,000,000: Compendium Effigies - All Compendium owners receive their very own Effigy Block of The International. Increase your Compendium Level to receive a Reforger Pack, allowing you to rebuild an effigy, and have a chance to earn a rare Golden Effigy Block of The International.
- $4,500,000: Loading Screens - Peek behind the scenes of Dota 2 with the Portfolio of Heroes Envisioned, containing loading screens showing concept art for several heroes. Increase your Compendium Level to earn additional Portfolios.
- $5,000,000: Emoticons - Express yourself with new emoticons to use in Dota 2 chat.
- $5,500,000: The International HUD Skin - Celebrate The International with a new Compendium-themed HUD skin.
- $6,000,000: Taunt Treasure - Provoke your foe with the Manual of Fearsome Moves, containing Taunts for several heroes. These new Taunts can be used while moving, and feature all new Hero sound effects. Increase your Compendium Level to earn additional Taunt Treasures.
- $6,500,000: The Watcher Below Ward - Spy on your foes with new The Watcher Below ward.
- $7,000,000: Immortal Treasure II - Everyone receives another batch of new Immortal items with the Immortal Treasure II. Increase your Compendium Level to earn additional Immortal Treasures.
- $8,000,000: Dota 2 Short Film Contest - Nominees for the best videos will be selected by the community through the Steam Workshop. Winners will be chosen by Valve, showcased at The International and receive $20,000 each. Submission and entry guidelines can be found here.
- $9,000,000: Wyvern Hatchling Courier - Receive your very own Wyvern Hatchling courier to carry your items in battle. Increase your Compendium Level to unlock additional courier styles.
- $10,000,000: Immortal Treasure III - Still want more Immortal items? Unlock this goal and everyone receives the Immortal Treasure III. Increase your Compendium Level to earn additional Immortal Treasures.
- $11,000,000: Desert Terrain - A new look comes to Dota 2's battlefield with this new Terrain item.
- $12,000,000: Music Pack - Ride into battle with new music from an exclusive music pack.
- $13,000,000: Announcer Pack - Let the rough-and-tumble wit of Bristleback lead you to your next victory with the Bristleback Announcer and Bristleback Mega-Kills items.
- $14,000,000: Weather Effects - New, exclusive weather effects come to the field of battle.
- $15,000,000: Special Axe Immortal & Longform Comic - Join Axe on an exciting adventure in a brand new comic, then chop your enemies to pieces with his new Immortal item.
Other rewards are also available for those willing or able to increase the level of their interactive compendium, such as a custom Black Hole effect, Coin Boosters which multiple the amount of virtual currency earned for completing challenges, and "Almond the Frondillo", a new pet available to equip on a number of mostly-strength heroes. Leveling up a compendium will also provide a number of additional bonuses, such as extra Immortal Treasures, loading screens, courier styles, and virtual effects, among others.
According to the Compendium announcement page, the prize pool for The International 2015 has reached over $3,000,000 in just over 12 hours, meaning this year's event definitely has a chance of being as big as the last! That said, one question remains: Will it surpass last year's total of $10,930,698? Who knows.
It's been a hectic couple of weeks for Valve fans! The past fortnight has seen Valve add (and then remove) paid mods from the Steam Workshop, the announcement of the 6.84 balance patch for Dota 2, the most recent attempt to quell Steam phishing bots, and Warren Spector reveal one of Half-Life's long-dead scrapped weapons! And that's not all, so go ahead and click the video below to learn more!
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