If you want to watch the biggest Dota 2 tournament, you can now do so via virtual reality.
The arena battle game is now available to users of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset following an update that enables a “spectator hub.” Players can now watch on a massive virtual screen, or move around the arena watching as different players battle each other, according to the BBC.
HTC Vive owners can watch The International tournament on VR
The spectator hub has been activated before the start of The International e-sports tournament, which sees Dota players battle it out for a share of $18 million in prize money. Dota 2 is made by developer Valve, and pits players against each other in arena-based battles between two teams of five players that compete for control of a map. Valve is also involved in the development of the HTC Vive headset.
The hub system developed by Valve uses a virtual lobby in which players can select to watch a saved match, or take in a tournament game in real time. It also lets owners of the HTC Vive headset make their own private lobby for themselves and 16 others.
Once inside the lobby you can move around and communicate with other users on voice chat. Each user is represented by a disembodied mask, while their hands are shown as gloves.
Get inside the Dota 2 battle arena
In order to watch a battle you can choose from overhead mode, or swoop down to the arena floor to watch as players battle each other and computer-controlled characters.
According to Ars Technica report Sam Machkovech, those who want to watch Dota games in virtual reality face a steep “learning curve,” as the camera moves around rapidly. However he later said that he had an “absolutely comfortable” experience using the system.
“People have dreamed about this kind of crazy, in-game viewing scrutiny in professional sports leagues for years,” he said. “But instead of having total control of how we watch Lebron James or Lionel Messi, viewers can do just that for the likes of Dendi and Admiral Bulldog.”
The 2015 edition of the tournament saw U.S. team Evil Geniuses win the tournament and walk away with over $6.6 million.
Future possibilities are exciting
You can get your hands on the update for free, and it takes up around 300MB of storage space. Valve says that it is still working on ironing out some kinks.
“We will continue to improve the Dota VR Hub as we approach The International,” the company says, “so try it out and let us know what you think.”
Another point to consider is what the hub could lead to once The International is over. While the development is targeted at spectators as it stands, it could suggest that Valve is working on something much bigger for multiplayer gaming in virtual reality.
As Machkovech points out, there have been no other 2D video games that have included a spectator mode like this. The fact that the game allows you to adjust the camera angle of your spectator mode, and in virtual reality, is mighty impressive.
With the increasing popularity of e-sports, there could be some seriously interesting developments to come. For now, settle down with your HTC Vive and get inside the Dota 2 spectator hub as The International unfolds before your eyes.