Artifact 2.0 closed beta is coming next week, as we reported earlier, rolling out to random players who purchased the original game before March 30, 2020. So far, Valve have only spoke about the game in blog posts and a handful of screenshots, detailing the new shopping phase, initiative, mana, and lanes, among others.
Today, we get the first footage from Artifact 2.0 beta.
An unlisted video on Valve’s official YouTube channel shows a quick Hero Draft game (this is the new mode made for novice players), as well as how the turns play out in this revamped version.
Hero Draft in Artifact 2.0
Artifact’s new mode is essentially a light version of a proper draft. Players only select their heroes, and the game generates a random deck based on the hero line-up.
Players start by selecting six total heroes, picking them in snake order: player 1 gets one pick, player 2 gets two picks, player 1 gets two picks, and so on until player 2 gets the last one pick. At any time, there are four heroes — one of each color — available to choose from. When a player chooses a hero from a certain color, a new one of the same color is revealed. Every two picks, the selection is completely refreshed.
Once all six heroes are picked, players choose one of those to be discarded and then select which rounds the other five will deploy in. This is similar to Artifact 1.0: the first three heroes appear in Round 1, the next in Round 2, the fifth in Round 3.
Deploying heroes in lanes
Before Round 1 begins, there is the familiar deployment phase — with a few twists. Players take turns deploying their heroes, and deployment is visible to the opponent. Round 1 deployment goes in turn of center-left-right lane.
This is already an improvement to how it was handled before. Artifact 2.0 trades the mind-games of its predecessor — which can be confusing and too difficult to solve for novice players — for a clear play-counterplay dynamic. You can see where everything is going and you can play to your deck’s strength’s whether it’s trying to kill heroes and control the board, or avoid heroes and go for direct tower damage.
Since you play in all three lanes at the same time, instead of consecutively like before, the game has become a bit simpler in that regard (also good). On odd turns (1, 3, 5, etc.), combat resolves left-to-right. On even turns (2, 4, 6, etc.), combat resolves right-to-left. This avoids the problem of right lane being always lowest priority, which forced most players to focus on left and middle lane most of the time.
Winning in Artifact 2.0
The win condition in Artifact 2.0 is the same as in the original game: take down two towers (or one tower twice). There are now tools that you get as you hit towers to make this easier: when you get a turret to half health or below, you get your Blink Scrolls, which allow for easier repositioning of heroes between lanes.
This is still very early, unpolished footage, but the game does look better than its predecessor. Unfortunately, the video does not show a game in in its entirety, including the new initiative system and how “every play takes mana” principle works. It’s possible that navigating a turn in Artifact and planning ahead has remained too complex and convoluted to attract a larger crowd.