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Dota 2 beta ‘a few weeks’ away, release planned for this year

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Dota 2, Valve‘s upcoming sequel to the popular Warcraft III custom scenario, Defense of the Ancients — can you call that a “sequel”? — is very close to release now. The game is the subject of a much-publicized tournament at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany this week, a Valve tells Joystiq that the release is currently planned for later this year, though early 2012 is also a possibility.

The good news is that you’ll still be able to sample Dota 2 this year even if it isn’t out until after December. Valve is planning to launch a public beta “a few weeks following GamesCom,” which means we’ll probably get to dive in with a portion of the game before the end of September.

You’ll need to first sign up if you want to get into the beta, which will of course be run through Valve’s Steam service. To claim your place, head over to the Dota 2 website and sign into your Steam account from there, then click the “Get on the list” link. That’s how it WAS at least. The GamesCom tournament seems to have overtaken the website for the time being; best to check back after GamesCom.