Gigantic's Exile in the North patch and Pakko are live today

Live in Gigantic today is a patch PWE is calling the MOBA's "first major update": Exile in the North. Open beta players will get their hands on an adorable, slip-slidey new hero, Pakko, plus an array of winter gear and weapon skins.

"Exile in the North also features several gameplay and quality of life improvements, including more generous end-of-match Crown Boosts and the addition of Honor Bonuses for players who battle shorthanded to the bitter end despite teammate disconnections and drops. Hero Mastery Skins are also now available to unlock as you play and master each Hero."

Check out the patch notes, trailer, pics, infographic below!

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The Stream Team: Lots more SMITE-ing with Loki

Massively OP's MJ had so much fun playing Loki that she's diving right back into SMITE for another round. This time, she might even venture out of the AI arena and into PvP! She also has it on good authority that the SMITE skins fairy might just make a guest appearance to give away a skin or two. Tune in live at 7:00 p.m. to get in on the action and the giveaway.

What: SMITE
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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Atlas Reactor launches its fully free-to-play patch with a new freelancer

No more half-measures of being free-to-play for Atlas Reactor; with the game's most recent patch, the title is entirely free-to-play. Not just mostly free-to-play or sort of free-to-play. Get out of here with your "freemium" nonsense, that's not even a real word. The patch lets players purchase freelancers with Flux (earned in-game) or real money, and those who have already purchased the game will receive 50,000 flux along with a whole lot of other bonuses.

This patch also includes Brynn, the Skywarden, wielding a shield and lance as a front-line menace to enemy teams. There's also the start of Season 2 and a whole lot of incremental updates to the balance of various characters, so the metagame will shift slightly no matter what. And since the game is fully free-to-play now, you don't have to take our word for it; you can just jump in and try out the expanded and rebalanced game yourself.

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The Stream Team: Win a Rivals Loki for SMITE

Hi-Rez Expo 2017 is over, which means Massively OP's MJ is back and ready to stream! And Friday the 13th may just be your lucky day, because she brought back a handful of codes that grant a special SMITE Loki in honor of the newly announced SMITE Rivals. Maybe MJ will even give the trickster a try herself -- it is a pretty snazzy hoodie after all. Join us live at 4:00 p.m. as MJ goes back to the playground of the gods (and tries not to get pushed off the slide!).

What: SMITE
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 13th, 2017

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Hi-Rez Expo 2017: SMITE's specialty adventures, Paladins' first season, and SMITE Tactics' PvE

One of best parts of attending conventions is talking with the devs. And during my trip to Hi-Rez Expo 2017, I spoke with a number of them about a variety of topics, learning more about the games as well as witnessing their contagious exuberance for their projects first-hand. I spoke with lead designers AJ Walker, Rory Newbrough, and Scott Zier about SMITE's Season 4 changes, Paladins' Season 1, and SMITE Tactics' possible PvE mode respectively. President Stew Chisam also added a tantalizing tidbit, sharing news about the upcoming addition of more limited-time adventures in SMITE. Let's dive in!

SMITE

If you enjoyed the variety of the one-off arenas Xing Tian's Mountain and Fafnir's Winter Wonderland as I did, this next announcement should make you happy: New adventures will be a regular occurrence! Did you catch when devs mentioned them in previous notes? If not, you are in good company; Chisam noted that these new events were pretty much a hidden line announcement. But he elaborated on the topic for us.

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League of Legends looks at how it brought back a winter-themed map design

One does not play League of Legends in a quest for diverse play environments. This is kind of the nature of the MOBA; you have a wide array of different heroes to throw up against one another on a very limited number of very predictable maps. So it's all the more important that those individual maps feel fun and diverse to play on. LoL rose to the challenge with a winter-themed Summoner's Rift, but just like any good story, it almost didn't happen... until the team found a way to make a fast and convincing winter wonderland.

The remake of the Summoner's Rift took the better part of a year to implement, and the understanding had been that replacing the map with a winter-themed version would require the same amount of work for something only available briefly. However, a new procedure allowed the team to isolate specific portions of the textures, which allowed for a quick illusion of snow that took weeks, not months. You can see the process in short just below and read about the whole journey on the official site.

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Atlas Reactor opens up its public test server with a new Freelancer

Do you want to test out Brynn the Skywarden in Atlas Reactor? You can do that right now on the game's test server. You can even stream about her and sing her praises on every available forum. The developers are fine with it; it's a public test server, there's no NDA. But even if you don't want to play around with Brynn, you may want to check out the test server, as there have been extensive balance changes to a wide variety of characters.

Aurora, Asana, and Nix have all received some downgrades, as Trion felt all three characters were a bit too easy to play successfully; by contrast, Orion, Blackburn, and Juno have all gotten buffed up. And that's not counting the smaller tweaks to specific mods or other options to ensure that the game has a more balanced environment. You don't have to just read about the changes, though; as mentioned, you can try them out. Right now, if you're at a place where you can run the game (your work may be very accepting).

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Play any hero from Heroes of the Storm this weekend for free

Blizzard has a giant "ICYMI" for MOBA Heroes of the Storm players -- or maybe lapsed/future players -- this weekend: The studio is turning the entire hero roster free-to-try temporarily starting Friday.

"2016 was an incredible year for Heroes of the Storm. We introduced of tons of new Heroes, features, events, mounts, skins, and even more to the Nexus, but just in case you missed it, you can check out the video below that recaps all the epic content we added to the game last year. To kick off 2017, celebrate everything that has happened in the past year, as well as everything we have planned for the year to come, we’re inviting everyone to enjoy three days of a completely full Hero roster from January 13–16!"

The studio is also talking up its recent patch, which replaced the vulnerability/resistance system with the new armor system and followed up with a light balance tweak for multiple heroes. The video of all the heroes you can play for free is tucked down below.

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Atlas Reactor is going 'fully free-to-play' next week

Good things are on the horizon for Trion Worlds' plucky Atlas Reactor, which is getting ready to go into its second season next week.

According to the game's recent producer's newsletter, Season 2 is set to debut on January 17th with "a ton of major improvements and enhancements." Chief among these is the ability for gamers to now earn (in addition to purchase outright) freelancers by playing the game. The studio will be handing out special gifts to those who have already spent money on these playable characters as a thank you.

Trion said that this has been the most-requested feature since Atlas Reactor's launch: "By making the game fully free-to-play we give more players the opportunity to experience everything Atlas Reactor has to offer. Now, players will be able to play the game for free, earn some freelancers along the way, and at any time they can upgrade to a premium pack to get all current and future freelancers."

Among its features, Season 2 will include a new, unidentified freelancer, rotating game modes, balance tweaks, and a reworked tutorial.

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The MOP Up: A marriage forged in hell (January 8, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week, we read the heartwarming story of a couple that found love in Diablo III, of all places. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Black DesertLord of the Rings OnlinePath of Exile, and more, all waiting for you after the break!

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World of Warcraft's Zul'jin joins Heroes of the Storm

One of World of Warcraft's iconic warlords is now moonlighting in Blizzard's MOBA. This week, Heroes of the Storm released its first patch of the year that added the Troll Zul'jin as a playable hero, giving players a chance to unleash their berserker tendencies.

The update also added a new draft mode called tournament draft. "Tournament draft is a new draft mode added to custom games which allows players to swap their hero picks at-will at the end of a draft," the devs explained.

The team also recapped its achievements in 2016, which included 16 new heroes, 24 updates, 49 skins, 26 mounts, two additional battlegrounds, and ranked seasons. See it for yourself after the break.

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Hi-Rez Expo 2017: SMITE introduces Morrigan, Celtic pantheon, and massive plans for season 4

Hi-Rez will take the floor of Hi-Rez Expo 2017 today to detail everything coming to SMITE's fourth season of play, which is expected to "roll out incrementally over several patches in the first part of the year."

The most immediate feature is a brand-new Celtic pantheon and its first goddess, Morrigan, a shapeshifter. Players will take part in the Path of the Phantom Queen event to collect Celtic goodies in-game.

There's also a new Egyptian map with updated Clash gameplay and a new Apophis boss battle, new strategic consumables called Rituals, tweaks for the Conquest Jungle Camp, an overhaul to ranked play, multi-queueing, episodic events called SMITE Adventures, and an assortment of UI, item, and balance updates. Voice chat is also on the way for PC players. Check out the Morrigan reveal video below!

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SMITE and Paladins star at Atlanta's Hi-Rez Expo convention this week

Hi-Rez Expo (which I fully plan to keep thinking of as SMITECON in my head) officially kicks off tomorrow morning at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Can't make it to Atlanta? No big thing; the studio's streaming on Twitch for all four days of the event, covering everything from SMITE and Paladins game reveals to e-sports. Twitch Prime subbers will even pick up a special Janus JT-6000 skin.

"This year’s Hi-Rez Expo rings in the new year with more competitive esports than any previous Hi-Rez event. Twenty-two teams from across the world converge in Atlanta to determine the SMITE PC World Champion, the SMITE Console World Champion and the Paladins $150,000 HRX Invitational winner."

Massively OP's MJ Guthrie will be on the ground from the event, so expect more coverage through the weekend. In the meantime, check out the videos and teasers!

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