blizzard entertainment

Major gaming studio, responsible for World of Warcraft and the Warcraft franchise, Diablo III and the Diablo franchise, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch.

Overwatch promises to reduce duplicate item rewards in lockboxes

Since the only real form of progress in Overwatch involves skins, there’s nothing more frustrating than opening a few dozen lockboxes and seeing every rare skin be the same one… for a character you don’t even play. The latest development update from director Jeff Kaplan notes that the team is aware of the problem, and steps are being taken to ensure that the number of duplicate items received will be dramatically reduced in the future.

You don’t need to worry about losing out on the buy-anything credits, though; the credits you get from loot boxes will also be increased, so you should find yourself getting more credits even as you get fewer duplicates of things you already have. How well this will map out in particular remains to be seen, but it’s an effort to mitigate the randomness that’s always underpinned the game’s lockbox structure. Kaplan also discusses ongoing improvements to the highlights feature; you can watch the full development update just below.

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Hearthstone changes up card packs to make it easier to collect new cards

There’s nothing quite like opening up a new card pack in Hearthstone only to find multiples of the same rare you already have and didn’t want the first time. That’s why the game is changing how card packs work to make collecting a set easier. First and foremost, players will no longer have to worry about getting duplicate Legendary cards until they already have all of the Legendary cards collected; if you get a Legendary, it’ll be new. Second, you’re assured a Legendary within the first 10 card packs you open for each given set.

Thirdly, players will no longer get more copies of a card in a given pack than can be used in a single deck, so you won’t find yourself flooded with copies of cards you do not and will not ever need. There’s also a limited-time promotion on card packs, offering more packs for the same price, which seems like a perfect motivator if you’re still trying to get one or two elusive options.

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Blizzard is offering a third round of BlizzCon tickets, so don’t despair (yet)

Did you miss out on your last attempt at snagging BlizzCon 2017 tickets? Of course you did. Those things sell out faster than unicorn frappes (although not as fast as tickets to hunt Pokemon in a Chicago park, apparently). Anyway, the point is, you’re getting a third chance, coming at you on July 5th at 10 p.m. EDT.

“This third ticket sale will once again be hosted by Universe.com, and tickets are priced at $199 each (plus applicable taxes and fees),” says Blizz. “Until recently, we weren’t sure if the new hall at the Anaheim Convention Center would be ready in time for BlizzCon. Once we confirmed it would be, we worked quickly to determine how we’d use the space and how many more people we could accommodate while preserving the awesomeness of the BlizzCon experience.”

BlizzCon this year takes place on November 3rd and 4th.

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Perfect Ten: MMO grouping advice you shouldn’t bother giving

It’s time for a new expansion in Final Fantasy XIV, and that means for me that a lot of people are going to not know how to get through content. Heck, I don’t know how to get through all of the content; it’s new to me too. I’m still figuring it out, and while there are a few people who are progressing even faster than I am and know how to clear everything, they are in the decided minority. I mean, the expansion, counting early access, has only been out for five freaking days.

So that means I get to enjoy the old standby of offering advice when clearing group content. And some people are… let’s be polite and say that they’re better at it than others. An entire guide about how to give advice which will actually have a positive impact is a bit beyond the scope of this article, of course, but we can at least look at the advice that never, ever works. Or if it does, it is entirely by coincidence, not design.

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E3 2017: Hands-on with Dauntless shows it’s more than a Monster Hunter clone

Phoenix Labs’ not-Monster Hunter monster-hunting game Dauntless is obviously standing in a big shadow after E3 2017. I wasn’t yet fully aware of what Monster Hunter World was doing, but I’ve seen solid games lose to their larger rivals who are slower to innovate in the past. Capcom, while constantly disappointing Mega Man fans, is generally quite good with its co-op hunting series. RaiderZ, a Perfect World published not-MH game that also tackled the monster hunter genre, made minor changes to the formula and came as an actual MMO but still shut down. Though the Phoenix Labs guys weren’t aware of RaiderZ‘s failure, they seemed barely fazed by Capcom’s announcement, and maybe they’re right. Surprisingly, they’ve innovated a few things Capcom itself is doing while also adding a few things Capcom isn’t.

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Blizzard partners with Twitch for tourney coverage, gives away free Overwatch loot boxes

Two of gaming’s forces are partnering up, at least for the next year or so, and players might come out on top of the whole deal. Twitch announced that it has signed a deal to be “the exclusive third-party streaming platform for more than 20 Blizzard tournaments.” In return, Blizzard is going to be giving out some goodies through the platform and probably using the word “Twitch” in every fifth sentence of press releases.

To start things off on a good foot, Overwatch players who have access to Twitch Prime can enjoy a free golden loot box that contains a guaranteed legendary item. You do have to own Overwatch to redeem this loot box (which should be obvious, but hey, there’s always that one guy who doesn’t get it).

Twitch said that this is just the beginning of the Blizzard parade: “Over the coming months, Twitch Prime members will receive 10 more loot boxes containing more in-game content. Similar promotions for Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone players are coming later this year.”

Source: Twitch #1, #2. Thanks to everyone who tipped this!

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Overwatch is ‘go’ for moon landing with today’s patch

Super-intelligent apes and moon combat: What’s not to love about today’s Overwatch update?

The Horizon Lunar Colony, Overwatch’s newest map, is officially open for business. Players can enjoy the environmental storytelling while they fight through this moon base. According to the team, it’s the first map that the team has done that’s over 90% completely indoors.

“Built as a first step towards humanity’s renewed exploration of space, the Horizon Lunar Colony’s goal was to examine the effects of prolonged extraterrestrial habitation — on human and ape alike,” the team said. “The scientists’ research proved incredibly promising…until, suddenly, all contact and communications with the base were lost.”

The update also adds Officer D.Va and Oni Genji to the lootboxes, in case you were frustrated at not getting one of these yet. Read up on the finer points of the patch notes and refresh your memory concerning the Horizon Lunar Colony after the break!

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What’s it like when you stop being a gold farmer in World of Warcraft?

For a very long time, selling gold in World of Warcraft was a path to making money. It was unethical and against the terms of service, but it was still eminently doable. The addition of an “official” option in the form of the WoW Token changed that, and an article on Cracked talks with a former gold farmer about the path toward moving on with your life after you’ve spent time exploiting that virtual economy. It might not make you feel sympathetic for gold farming, but it’s still an interesting perspective.

Of course, if you’re farming gold, you’re probably not all that worried about playing the actual game (as the article even says), but people who are playing the game will be happy with the latest round of hotfixes, which clean up issues with the Chromie quest line, fix various balance issues, and fixes a few bugs here and there. None of them actually relates to gold, though, unless you consider a glyph recipe not dropping to be about gold. Which it sort of is, arguably.

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Diablo III’s Rise of the Necromancer launches June 27 for $14.99

Blizzard has just announced that the BlizzCon-announced Rise of the Necromancer pack is launching for Diablo III on all platforms next week on June 27th. It’ll run $14.99 on both PC and console, a bit cheaper than some folks were anticipating.

“From the crypts deep beneath Blizzard Entertainment today came a dark invocation proclaiming that the Rise of the Necromancer™ pack, which summons the much-anticipated necromancer class into Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, will be unleashed June 27 – available to those in the living realm digitally in-game on PC or through the online Blizzard Shop, PlayStation Store, and Xbox One Store.”

As previously leaked by the ESRB, the game package includes an in-game pet, cosmetic wings, two extra character slots, two new stash tabs on PC only, plus the Necro portrait, banner, sigil, and accent, and pennant.

And also as leaked by the ESRB, console players can grab a base-game-plus-expansion bundle Blizz is calling the Diablo III: Eternal Collection “at a special introductory price of $39.99.”

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E3 2017: Hands-on with Destiny 2

Like many readers, I was originally disappointed when Destiny wasn’t released for PC. I’m not even a Halo fan but could see that the title had promise. Release, though, sounded just OK. I fed my sci-fi MMO-ish need with doses of PlanetSide 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic and largely ignored the title, aside from the fact that major gaming sites seemed happy with the expansion. I figured it was one of those few decent console games not made by Nintendo that PC players just wouldn’t get. Whatever.

Fast forward to the announcement that Blizzard would add Destiny 2 to its launcher to ensure its PC release. PC fans freak out. World of Warcraft token values skyrocket. Massively OP writers and readers note its potential to define the genre. The chance to demo it at E3 put me on the hype train, but the reality has caused me to pump the breaks.

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One Shots: Summer camp

I ask for “camp” from all of you — and camp is what I got, although not necessarily what I envisioned. Sometimes it’s better than that! So what did Rees Racer immediately go to when I requested pictures of summer camp?

“There’s no pretending TERA is an open-world sandbox,” he said. “It is straight-up themepark. This means there are plenty of towns (large and small) along with various and sundry other quest hubs cleverly disguised as camps. I’m having good fun leveling the newest Valkyrie class, and here she is during a brief respite at the Desert Research Station in Val Aureum.”

May I float the suggestion that saddling a lion and pulling on its mane while shouting “GIDDYUP!” only has one logical and unfortunate conclusion?

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World of Warcraft loses its lead PvP designer to another Blizzard project

The man who pushed for World of Warcraft’s PvP scene to become bigger and better than before is no longer leading the team. Lead PvP Designer Brian Holinka announced on the forums that he is leaving WoW to work on an unnamed Blizzard project.

“A few weeks ago, I was offered a new opportunity at Blizzard that I’m really excited about,” Holinka posted. “Tomorrow is my last day working on World of Warcraft. As a longtime player, I couldn’t be more excited about what the future has in store for World of Warcraft. In particular, the PvP team remains hard at work on some incredible plans. I fully expect that the best years of World of Warcraft PvP are ahead of us.”

Holinka thanked both fans and the company, saying that working on World of Warcraft was a “dream come true.” The rumor is that he has been snatched up by the internal team that’s creating a top-secret game or expansion for the studio.

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Battle Bards Episode 100: Centennial spectacular!

After four years and over 700 MMORPG music tracks, the Battle Bards have arrived at their 100th show! For this centennial spectacular, Syl, Steff, and Syp reminisce about the most notable shows, their best soundtrack discoveries, and their favorite tracks. This super-sized show gets wrapped up with a bout of listener emails and a promise of another amazing hundred episodes!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 100: Centennial spectacular (or download it) now:

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