Valve's taking eSports to the next level with Dota 2's VR spectator mode

HTC Vive

Watching games being played by others is becoming an increasingly popular activity. Valve is looking to capitalise on the trend by introducing a VR spectator mode for Dota 2, the company's long-standing MOBA which is big on the eSports scene.

So what's virtual reality spectating like in Dota 2? You're stood in a virtual space with a large cinema-style screen in front of you showing the game as you'd see it on your monitor. Turn to the sides, and you can see full 3D models of the player's avatars complete with names (and pop-up info such as abilities and cool-downs).

And in front of the main screen there is a 3D mini-map showing the state of play on the battlefield, with floating charts appearing in the air detailing the usual raft of game stats. Check out the video here – it's under the 'What You Need' link.

VR trickery

It looks rather neat indeed, and the clip also mentions that more VR features will be "coming to your favourite games", so we may see other novel features being added to existing titles opening up new tricks for the early adopters of HTC's Vive (which SteamVR was built for).

In other recent VR news from Valve, we heard that the company is working on a plugin for the Unity game engine which will help with more efficient rendering, thereby potentially letting lower-powered graphics cards cope with the demands of virtual reality.

While the recommended spec for the GPU in a VR-ready PC was initially revealed as a GeForce GTX 970 or Radeon R9 290, Valve reckons the new tech should lower the bar to around the GTX 680 level. The system will keep overheads down by using clever rendering shortcuts that shouldn't be particularly noticeable to the player – or at least that's the theory.

Removing the cost of a graphics card upgrade from the VR experience is important, because the headsets are so expensive in themselves.

Via: SteamVR

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).