Valve has finally taken the wraps off its much-anticipated sequel to the popular WarCraft 3 mod, Defense of the Ancients (DotA). Simply titled Dota 2, the standalone game is headed to the PC and Mac in 2011. Valve is promising to "take the unique blend of online RTS and RPG action that has made Dota popular with tens of millions of gamers and expand upon it in every way." GameInformer has more details on the game, including some very nice promotional art.

Valve has hired Icefrog, the gamer who currently maintains Allstars, easily the most popular original Dota mod. We can thus expect the core game mechanics to remain somewhat similar. The full roster of heroes from Allstars will be brought over, along with items, upgrade paths, and skills. The migration to the Source engine will however bring a few changes, including some graphical upgrades and added voice chat. The Dota 2 team is also reworking the visual style to accent important information, and more voice character lines will be introduced. Valve wants to keep the focus on multiplayer, but bots will fill in for disconnected players and for skirmishes.

Valve plans to add match-making, guides created and voted on by the community, and a new coaching system to help ease in new players. Veteran players will be able to log in and offer guidance to new players, and receive feedback for their good work.

I'm a huge fan of DotA so I'm particularly excited about this release. I just hope Valve won't butcher this great series. What are your thoughts and hopes for Dota 2?