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Valve was making a Dota 2 RPG starring Axe

Valve Software reportedly once had plans to create a new role-playing game starring none other than Dota 2 hero Axe.

The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx is a “25,000-word multimedia experience” that pulls back the curtain on Valve, one of the video games industry's most popular and secretive companies. It brings many different things to light, including some scrapped projects that Valve has discussed in the past. Included among that lot is an action RPG which would have featured Axe.

According to The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx, the project was discussed as far back as 2013. The game itself drew inspiration from a number of popular titles including the Monster Hunter, Elder Scrolls, and Dark Souls series. 

“People wanted to make an RPG game modularly in public, like shipping smaller parts of an experience over time and add features,” Valve developer Tejeev Kohli said.

Different approaches to the game were considered, with one iteration being a single-player RPG starring Axe. 

What happened to the Dota 2 Axe RPG spin-off?

Large video game development studios often see new game concepts pitched, discussed, and then left behind. That’s essentially what happened with the Axe-based RPG, as the game never progressed past the early development stage as Valve instead moved onto other projects while ceasing any development of single-player games until Half-Life: Alyx.

While an episodic single-player title as described would have been well ahead of its time if it was realized in 2013, great concepts being abandoned is standard fare for the industry. Other spin-offs to noteworthy esports titles have also famously been chopped, with one of the biggest recent examples being a Starcraft-themed first-person shooter scrapped by Blizzard in order to dedicate more resources to the development of Overwatch 2.

Oother Dota 2 spin-offs have been received. Since Dota 2’s official launch in 2013, the MOBA title has received two direct spin-offs in the forms of Artifact and Dota Underlords. 

Digital card game Artifact has been an unqualified disaster since its release, launching to modest fanfare which evaporated completely in a matter of just weeks.

Dota Underlords came out as Valve's official standalone version of Drodo Studio’s popular Dota 2 mod Dota Auto Chess. Dota Underlords has been on a steady decline since its launch and has settled into third in popularity among auto battler games, behind Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics and Drodo’s Auto Chess mobile game.

Valve’s inability to successfully realize a Dota 2 spin-off has been frustrating fans of the MOBA, especially when compared to its competitors. Riot Games’ efforts in League of Legends have only just begun, but the company is set to deliver on a mobile version of the game in League of Legends: Wild Rift, a platformer in CONV/RGENCE: A League of Legends Story, an unnamed fighting game, and more. The company's own digital card game, Legends of Runeterra, also saw a far more successful launch than Artifact.

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