Dota 2's Christmas update arrives today, and oh! what an update it is. Along with bringing over a new hero from the original DotA, the long-awaited Legion Commander, it adds a wave survival mode which pits heroes against hordes of creeps, trying to defend Skeleton King so he can be reborn as the Wraith King. And there shall be... such... prizes.
Old Skellypants is crumbling to dust, Valve explains, and is performing a ritual on Wraith Night to become, well, not flesh again, but perhaps ectoplasm. And he needs heroes to defend him until dawn. He was removed from the game in a patch earlier this week, and it seems he'll return with a new look once this event is over, which is a very clever way to slip through a character redesign.
The Wraith Night mode, then, is a co-op wave survival mode for five players. It only has a handful of the full game's heroes, but their skills have been tweaked or expanded to work better against hordes of enemies. Drow Ranger now has a split shot, for example. Some items have been boosted too. Collecting treasure from monsters murdered can get you special festive prizes.
The patch also brings Legion Commander into Dota 2, a strength hero whose ultimate skill forces an enemy hero to duel her. She was added to DotA in December 2011 (well, technically he was, as LC is a mustachioed chap in DotA), but only now is coming to the remake.
Patch 6.79c also adds the promised Ranked Matchmaking mode, lets parties watch tournaments together if at least one of them has a ticket, fixes that awful bug of item icons getting stuck on screen, and revamps the new player experience to better ease newbies in. On the balance front, it notably nerfs the currently-ubiquitous Hand of Midas and Necronomicon, tones Venomancer down a bit, and thankfully hits Elder Titan's Ancestral Spirit skill. Do check the notes for more. The test client has already been updated, and it'll roll out to the main client later today.
Here, check this archived Twitch stream of some folks playing Wraith Night in the test client.