Yesterday, Valve unveiled the 3rd premium cosmetic from the TI10 Battle Pass, the Anti-Mage Persona. Aimed to be a brand new re-imagining of existing characters, Wei is the epitome of everything a Persona should be, and here’s why.
Can We Get One Thing Out of The Way First?
The cool thing about these new designs, is that they have their own backstories, motivations, and lore. Often intertwined with that of the hero to which they were conceptualized. This isn’t a case where Valve is simply doing things for the sake of it, on the contrary. Immense care and effort were put into the background of these characters so that they could be considered as fundamentally separate entities to their originals. For example, the Invoker persona released last year was not simply “Child Invoker”. It was Invoker, when he was a child.
A child that we all know would end up as the badass maestro of a mage when he got older. Where he himself was still in awe of what he was capable of. Why does he hop around and perform cartwheels while he’s running? Why does his idle animation have him looking around, as though eager to prove himself? Why does he smile obnoxiously all the time? Because that is what a Child Invoker would do. Things that completely contradict adult Invoker’s slow and labored trot, his straight and relaxed stance, and where he holds a stoic facial expression. Yet still seem like a natural interpretation of what the early years of a character would look like.
Now at the current topic at hand, the brand new Anti-Mage Persona. Before trying to pass judgment on the design of the hero, we must first understand what this new character is about. Thankfully, Valve upheld the almost forgotten tradition of releasing a brand new comic with a major Dota related release. Now, I won’t go too deep into the Lore of the character, but I will quickly give an overview of what Wei’s personality is, as well as her general relationship with Magina (Original Anti-Mage). I will say this however, it is of my opinion, that this is the single greatest in-game Dota 2 model that we have ever seen.
Her Personality and Being
To start, we see that Wei is a rather headstrong individual. She takes her training very seriously, apart from the meditation that must be practiced with her discipline. She recounts that she loves doing push-ups, and reading books, but simply can’t stand sitting still and meditating. Furthermore, her relationship with Magina is that of a student/mentor relationship, where she is the latter. As time went on, Wei went as far as considering Magina a “father” (an easter egg where triple-clicking Wei in demo mode will have her recount more lore). Wei frequently recounts that in the heat of combat, she must trust her instincts, and not actively think. (It’s noteworthy to mention that we can attribute the skill of meditation as a major form of training to hone ones instincts in this context) It’s fitting that she also instinctively decided to try and help Magina resolve the problem that he found himself in.
So with these details, we can already form a few conclusions as to how her animations and model should look like. We know she likes to work out, so she must have a fairly muscular and toned body. We also know that she’s training to be rather instinctive in combat, but she is struggling with that skill because she cannot find the utility of “thinking about nothing”. As she is a student of the Anti-Mage, she would pose similar, yet unrefined statures and means of battle. And as a student, she should fittingly be rather clunky compared to Magina when performing basic actions, while also being eager to prove herself. But there is one distinct and fundamental conflict in the ideology of both these characters, and we will go over it shortly.
Let’s run a quick checklist to make sure that everything is up to standard so far. Wei does have a toned body, and is also very expressive in her movements and attacks, emphasizing her love of physical training. Her love/hate relationship with impulsivity is frequently recounted in her over 900 voice lines. “My life doesn’t matter, the mission does.”, “There is no Magi that I can’t track and kill”, and “I don’t look forward to bloodshed, but I’m not afraid of it either” are three lines that encapsulate this inner conflict of the character beautifully. Her animations right at the end of every major action, such as auto-attacking and Blinking, shows her sort of struggling to remain composed. It’s as though she is more wildly performing them, which is a contrast to Anti-Mages tighter and more refined actions.
She also frequently carries about her actions as though she is being watched by Magina, as though she wants nothing more than to prove that she is “ready”, for the title of Anti-Mage. We see this in voice lines such as “Ugh, the Anti-Mage is gonna give me hell for that!” upon dying. This is an authentic quality of how the stereotypical “student” rationalizes different situations. And this “student” label is solidified even further with the voice line “War of the ancients? Please, I’ve had to conduct an investigation at the Weeping Rose. There’s nothing scary about a couple glowing rocks!”. It shows that she is definitely a novice in the world of Dota, and that she is actively learning and establishing herself in it.
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With all of these voice lines and behaviors, we begin to find a clearer picture of what exactly Wei is supposed to be in Dota. We understand her ideologies and philosophies more, as well as her internal conflicts and inner demons that she is fighting. An entity that fits the bill of what makes a “good” character, where she is presented as an authentic result of the situations that she was presented with. Her design, her backstory, and her goals are correctly aligned and masterfully created. In this sense, she gets a 10/10 in the conceptualization of the character.
If you are not convinced yet, there is one interesting voice line I’ve come across, to solidify my point further. “The Anti-Mage and I are similar, but we have our differences. For instance, I know how to talk like a normal person.”. Earlier, I mentioned that there is a distinct and fundamental conflict in ideology of both these characters. I think that this voice line, in conjunction with all the other information that we know of, directly reflects this. Looking at Magina as an isolated entity, we know that the guy hates magic with every fiber of his being. It’s not that he is operating as though mages simply are another obstacle to what he is fighting for. It’s that mages are a fundamental contradiction to everything Magina stands for. So he holds a sort of maniacal, almost obsessive attitude towards his plight to destroy magic. My theory to why he is that way is that he is so in tune with the role of the Anti-Mage, due to his proficiency in meditation. He reminds Wei numerously to “meditate” as much as she can, but she doesn’t.
That is why the Anti-Mage has yet to fully grant her the title of Anti-Mage. She dislikes magic, in a sense that, she understands that it’s an obstacle. But she doesn’t hate magic, not with her very being. We simply don’t hear her say the iconic phrase: “Magic is an abomination”, because she hasn’t come to grips with that yet. And that is what is stopping her from achieving her goal. She hasn’t reached that maniacal point that Magina has, and that’s her eternal struggle. That is what solidifies my opinion, that this is a real character, that has a real place in the world of Dota. It’s why she is the single greatest in-game Dota 2 model that Valve has ever published.