MOBAs are multiplayer online battle arenas, PvP-centric, non-persistent online games that share some but not all mechanics in common with traditional MMORPGs. We formerly categorized MOBAs as “Not So Massively” games. You may also be interested in our Multiplayer category for other multiplayer online games that aren’t fully massive. [Follow the MOBA category’s RSS feed]
It’s that wonderful time again, ladies and gentlemen, when a long-awaited title goes into open beta. The Division has opened up its beta today to everyone playing on a supported platform, which means more or less every platform that isn’t a Mac or, I don’t know, a ColecoVision. You’ve even got some open beta challenges to take on. There are also hints that the game may well be getting endgame raids after all, so it’s probably for the best that your ColecoVision isn’t supported; you know that would be a whole thing.
Speaking of divisions, let’s go into the not-getting-intro-space-but-still-getting-a-mention division:
- You do know that Black Desert is launching next month, yes? Because its second and final closed beta is running right now. If you didn’t know it before, it sort of follows.
- You do know that SMITE is coming to the PlayStation 4, yes? That’s totally happening, with closed alpha beginning today and closed beta is kicking off in March. Not quite yet. Here’s a hint: If you want to know what the game will be like, it will be very much like the game you can already play on your computer, but with a controller.
- You do know that Atlas Reactor is having an alpha sneak peek week, yes? Please phrase your response to that question in a way that allows Seussian rhymes with “sneak peek week.”
- You do know that Paladins has a new glacier map to head through, right? Well, congratulations, you keep up on the beta news on this site. Thank you for still reading this feature. It gets lonely.
- Last but not least, there’s Asta‘s open beta hitting early in March. At the same point as The Division and Black Desert launches. Did you know about that? More importantly, do you know why?
Speaking of horrible segues, we’ve got our full list of games in testing just below, and as always we’d like your help in letting us know about anything we might have missed. We’re not omniscient, and sometimes things just launch. It’s weird, but it happens.
Epic Games‘ upcoming third person MOBA Paragon has been getting some attention lately with its fluid gameplay and undeniably high-quality graphics. The studio has been releasing informational videos and sneak peeks on the game for the past few months, and this week’s trailer looks at some of the abilities the game’s heroes can use. We can see new hero Gideon using portals to summon damage-dealing rocks and teleport around a 3D battlefield, and Dekker’s Containment Fence force field locking enemies in place. The video was reportedly created using the game’s match replay feature and was recorded during actual gameplay.
Ever since Paragon‘s card system was revealed, some fans have been concerned that these gameplay-affecting items may end up in some kind of microtransaction store and that this would disrupt competitive gameplay. There was also some worry that the game’s planned cross-platform play between PS4 and PC would create a competitive disparity as PC users will be using more precise controls. Epic reassured players in a statement to Eurogamer today that it “will never sell card packs for Paragon” and that the studio is “very aware that pay-to-win is a bad thing for competitive play,” but so far there has been no comment on the potential cross-platform gameplay issues.
Blizzard wants Heroes of the Storm to be accessible to everyone. That can’t happen if your first match of the game sees you pitted against expert players who defeat you so thoroughly that your realistic input in the match ends after you choose your character. Thus, a number of changes have been made to the game’s matchmaking engine, which have resulted in notable improvements to the fairness of matches. But the team isn’t finished yet.
Further updates to matchmaking are planned, starting with a restriction against having multiple particularly complex heroes such as Abathur in a quick match. Queue times are also being looked at, although the developers are all right with the current length of queue times for quality matchups; any longer would be unacceptable. While further updates to matchmaking are still in the pipe, a balance patch has already come out to power down Li-Ming, Stitches, and Rehgar slightly, while Anub’arak is getting a bit of a survivability buff.
The Atlas Reactor
alpha is speeding along with the occasional squeak, but this week, information need not be leaked. You can just try out the game you seek, as it’s the title’s alpha sneak peek week, and no NDA is in place for this week. The testing restrictions are not oblique but are outlined in an official post
if your interest is piqued.
All testers will received temporary credits to spend in the game’s cash shop, with additional credits for each login over the week. Permanent rewards can also be added to your account for winning 1 match or winning a number of Versus mode matchups, including banners to keep your history unique. If you can take part in the sneak peek, seek the starter guide out, but check out the system requirements to be sure you can eke by – you wouldn’t want your machine to creak.
How I mine for MOBAs? In its latest Paragon video, Epic is going to assume you have no idea how a MOBA works, which would make more sense if it weren’t likely that if you have no idea how a MOBA works, you’ve also never heard of Paragon.
In between action shots riddled with goofy nameplates, the studio recaps the basics, like picking a character, teamwork, leveling up, upgrading cards, teamwork, taking advantage of friendly minions, teamwork, laning and busting towers, and teamwork.
Or as an MMO player would put it, fight on the node, not in the road.
The vid’s below.
One advantage to owning multiple properties under one roof is the ability to do crossovers at your pleasure. Hi-Rez
is certainly taking advantage of this, as it’s sending SMITE’s
Grover on a foreign exchange program to Paladins
In Paladins’ closed beta 14 update, Grover the Wild joins the champion line-up for this fast-paced multiplayer brawler. Grover is a melee fighter who wields an axe to great effect. He also can shoot vines out to pull himself to distant objects and activate auras to help allies and harm foes.
The patch included a reworking of the match system and lobby UI, as well as many balance tweaks to the characters. You can see Grover in action and get an overview of the closed beta 14 update in dev videos after the jump.
This week has brought some pretty terrible news for fans of Gigantic, as developer Motiga has had to lay off a significant portion of the development staff due to a lack of funds. The studio claims that it’s aggressively negotiating for more capital, with the intent being to rehire those laid off, but only time will tell if this plan comes to fruition.
Depressing, huh? Yeah, let’s move on to other beta news from the past week.
- How do you feel about giant combat robots in hot pink? A Japanese squad-based tactical third-person shooter, Figureheads, will be entering open beta later this month, and you can indeed have a giant combat robot in hot pink. The world is a wonderful place at times.
- “Oh, I don’t want to have a third-person shooter in a robot,” you say? Well, perhaps you’d like to catch up on Eternal Crusade‘s discussion of the Eldar faction.
- “No, I prefer shooters in a more modern era.” Aren’t you picky? At least you can look forward to taking part in The Division‘s open beta once it kicks off on February 19th.
- “That’s a little too modern for me.” What do you want? Do you just want to play Overwatch, is that it? Because that title has just returned to beta with new modes and progression systems.
- “Actually, I think I’d just settle for a foreign traditional MMO.” Fine, then, check out what Bless Online looks like with its current beta endgame.
- “But why aren’t you mentioning Pumpkin Online?” I’m glad you asked, hypothetical reader. This is what’s going on with Pumpkin Online.
That was a wild tour, but there’s still a full list on down below if you’d like to check that out. Did something slip into a new testing state whilst we were paying attention to other things? Well, please let us know in the comments, then.
Are you a big fan of Dominion in League of Legends? If so, we recommend you get in some matches with that gameplay mode while you can. The queue is being permanently disabled on Monday, February 22nd, with players who have at least 100 wins in matchmade Dominion battles receiving a special icon to commemorate its existence. The map will possibly be repurposed at some point in the future, but the days of Dominion support are over.
Why the removal? According to the announcement, less than 0.5% of players actually play Dominion regularly, and the team had already tacitly stopped developing and supporting the game. What remained was a game mode that had bugs with no one to properly address them, so the best option was to shut the whole thing down. If you yourself had moved away from the mode until it was more supported and developed… well, we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news.
Activision–Blizzard has posted its Q4 2015 financial report, touting record digital revenues up 20% year over year, thanks in part to game exports to Chinese audiences, but revenues were down quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. CEO Bobby Kotick says that once the company’s acquisition of King Digital is complete — and isn’t yet, so it’s not reflected here — “[Activision] will have the largest game network in the world, with over 500 million users playing [its] games every month.”
According to the investor call, 2015 was the first year more than 50% of Blizzard’s revenue was derived from sources other than World of Warcraft. Mike Morhaime told investors that WoW saw quarter-over-quarter growth for the game following last fall’s BlizzCon. It is unclear how growth is defined in this context.
We aren’t hearing hard numbers on a World of Warcraft subscriber bump or dip today, thanks to Blizzard’s decision that Q3 2015 was to be “the last quarter [it planned] to provide subscriber numbers” because of other metrics (like “engagement” metrics) that it claims are “better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance.” The game dropped 100k subs in Q3 2015, 1.5 million subs in Q2 2015, and 2.9 million subs in Q1 2015 following the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion in November 2014. At last known count, it stood at 5.5 million subs, down from its 2010 peak of 12 million.
The Legion expansion is still expected to launch this summer following the franchise’s movie.
MMOs have a longer shelf life than other games do. We talked about this not so long ago, even, and you can see it when you think of the big online games out there. World of Warcraft is over a decade old, Star Wars: The Old Republic is four years old, Final Fantasy XIV is five years old, and League of Legends has been around for six years. I rarely see any of those titles brought up as “old” games, yet contemporary single-player titles are often listed as being “old” titles.
What’s even more amusing is that titles seem to age at different rates in matters of perception. I’ve seen people talking in World of Warcraft about how EverQuest II is an “old” title, despite the fact that the two games launched in the same month of the same year. Some titles just feel older or newer than others regardless of actual dates. So what do you think, dear readers? What makes a game move over the threshold from “new” or “contemporary” to “old”? Is it a matter of time, of active design, of communities, or some combination of all three?
Before the season arrives, League of Legends
has one or two final things to say in how the game is run. Today the MOBA released its “fat” Patch 6.3
that contains many adjustments at the tail end of the preseason as well as a change to how the game stores art.
One of the biggest changes that arrives with the update is the addition of an Assassin-specific weapon, the Duskblade of Draktharr. “By clearly calling out ‘Hey, this one’s for you!’ we can start to set an expectation around how an assassin can act in fights, as well as the kinds of power-curves they should have long-term,” Riot Games said.
Patch 6.3 tweaks Dragons’ stacking effects, fixes Alistar’s headbutt skill, nerfs several champions (Corki, Poppy, Graves, and Ryze), and buffs a couple of characters (Ziggs and Xin Zhao). Players will also no longer be able to see enemy champion picks before matches.
Classic MOBA Heroes of Newerth released the massive new Dragon Wars community event today, launching a series of community-wide achievements and challenges with rewards for the entire playerbase. Some of the challenges are simple things like enough people following the game’s official twitter account, while others include people streaming the game for 24 hours or just playing enough hours of the game. A series of creative challenges have also been added covering everything from fan-art and music videos to cosplay and even baking HoN-themed cakes.
Heroes of Newerth‘s player activity levels in North America and Europe have waned in recent years, but the game is still very popular in South East Asia. Many of the event challenges were originally designed for that audience, so challenges such as cosplaying on top of an elephant and getting a photo with 2,000 HoN players are unlikely to be completed. The players who contribute to completing each challenge can earn bounties such as gold coins to spend in the cash shop, and many challenges will reward all players with bonus gold coins when completed. All players have also been given a dragon egg that will hatch and upgrade as the challenge completion bar progresses.
has announced another round of layoffs for the staff working on MOBA Gigantic
. “Our financial situation is such that we are unable to continue supporting the entirety of the studio at this time,” Chris Chung writes
, explaining that the layoffs are both temporary and significant. As for the game itself,
“While we intend to continue supporting Gigantic game services for as long as we are able, the reality is that a decision of this magnitude will impact all departments across the studio, an impact that will be felt by our community of beta testers as the services they depend on will operate without the key staff on hand to support those services.”
Chung says that negotiations with investors are continuing “aggressively,” with the aim to rehire employees furloughed.
The studio laid off 16 people in early December, saying that it felt it needed to delay the game into 2016 and lay off employees in order to stretch its development budget.
We extend our sympathies to those affected.