Let's Shop!

Before we get into the blog, we wanted to share the results of last week’s poll. Arc Warden was the front-runner right out of the gate – his lead seemed insurmountable. Slow and steady, though, Nyx started to creep up. Then, right before were going to close the poll, he almost overtook the front spot. In the end it was close enough that we figured why not add both!

Now on to the shop!

Feedback about the shop has been a bit more scattered compared to other parts of the game and the suggestions have ranged far, from tiny tweaks to a huge Dota-scale item shop with item recipes. We've found we also have a mixed mind about the shop. We liked some parts and had other parts we thought needed improvement. There are some side effects of the original implementation that pushed optimal item-deck building into a narrow space.

It's a topic that we think would be good to delve into together. Let's break down what we did and didn't like, the goals we should have for the new version, and talk about the design trying to accomplish those goals. Remember to email us at ArtifactBetaFeedback@Valvesoftware.com to contribute to the discussion.

What we didn't like:
  • Players often felt compelled to stuff their decks with cheap items with the intent to buy them out so they had more control over the selection they saw.
  • It was easy to jump to top-tier items, limiting how cool those items could be.
  • Consumables could have a huge impact, but you could be unlucky with your selection.
  • Some of the items felt too important (Blink Dagger, Town Portal Scroll, etc.)
  • The wacky item prices required more math than needed.
  • Three different slot types caused confusion for new players.
  • It felt weird when the shop opened with no good options for the player.
  • The "hold" option wasn't well utilized.

What we did like:
  • Building up powerful heroes feels great.
  • The flow of adding abilities to your hero over the course of the game, ending with an exciting final board state without starting off overwhelming.
  • It was fun when players were able to adapt to their situation and make creative use of an item in the secret shop.
  • You could evaluate what to purchase fairly quickly.

The shop is one of the last things we've worked on, so it might see some dramatic changes still. The details of the implementation may be completely different in the end, but our goals should remain the same.

Goals for the new version:
  • We’d like you to have better access to your items compared to the original game.
  • Items, in general, should have their cost reflect when they are useful in the game. Early items should help build small advantages and late game items should help close the game out.
  • We’d like to keep the ability to find a random item that could help you out.
  • No class of items, early or late, should be too powerful as to skew the selection one way or another.
  • Less math.
  • Required tools (Town Portal Scrolls) shouldn't be available based on luck.

In the current implementation we've normalized item costs to 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30. If they seem too expensive it's due to the faster rate that gold is earned now. Items are grouped based on their tier and the shop is populated to have one or more items at each tier, plus your item deck. All slots in the shop follow the same rules for how the item for sale there is selected.

At the first shopping phase you have access to the 10-cost item tier plus a few other options. If you have some extra money, and don't like the items presented, you can re-roll for 2 gold. If you are a little light on cash you can choose to skip shopping and earn a little extra gold. The gold earned this way starts at 3 and increases by 1 each time you upgrade the shop. Finally you can upgrade the shop for 5 gold. This upgrade cost goes down to 3 then to 1 in subsequent turns and resets to 5 when you upgrade. When you upgrade the shop the next tier of items is added to the pool and you get a free re-roll.

Most consumables, including Town Portal Scrolls, have been removed from the game completely. You now get a similar item, the Blink Scroll, the first time you bring each enemy tower to half health. Blink Scrolls work like a Blink Dagger but are consumed on use (each let you move a hero to a slot in an adjacent lane).

Let's take a look at some of the new items from the first three tiers.

Force Staff
  • Displace is one of the few "random" effects we've added to the game. It pushes a unit randomly left or right 1 slot, but can only push into an unoccupied slot.
  • Since you can displace enemy units as well as your own, you can often work out favorable match-ups with a little creativity.
  • A few of our favorites are pushing a unit with a strong aura towards one of the edges of a lane, sliding any strong tower attacker into slot 1, or just pushing a blocker out of the way so you can smash a tower.

  • With its strong health buff this item can keep a fragile hero in lane for a long time.
  • Demonic Archers are a great way to build up a creep imbalance in a lane. Only one is needed to start the ball rolling.
  • Left unchecked, a lane full of Demonic Archers will make deploying heroes into a lane a painful experience.

Root Boots
  • The 20-gold item tier has several items that immediately change the texture of a lane, either by making strong localized effects, or providing a large stat boost.
  • Root Boots are great for deploying into a hero with mobility and exchanging favorably.
  • Decay effects ignore armor, so they are great at cleaning out a lane clogged by armor buffed creeps.
  • Root Boots are a great way to stop late-game lane hopping shenanigans.

Don't forget to send us your feedback!