blizzard

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.

World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm get into the seasonal spirit

‘Tis the season for so many Christmas events that you’ll have to forsake all family and tins of popcorn to get around to them all. Blizzard isn’t making it any easier on you, since pretty much all of its games are currently in the throes of holiday events.

World of Warcraft’s Feast of Winter Veil kicks off tomorrow with the traditional quests (say hi to the Abominable Greench for us!) and new holiday hats that can be found in dungeons. Overwatch is running its Winter Wonderland and challenging players to the new and ridiculous Yeti Hunt brawl.

Over at Heroes of the Storm, Winter Veil brings a quest chain with a special spray and mount as rewards. Then there’s Hearthstone, which is reskinning some of its game boards, tossing in seasonal emotes, and inviting players to a “Wacky Waxy Winter’s Veil” tavern brawl.

In non-event news, World of Warcraft had to delay an announcement of its 2018 plans but said that this info should be coming soon. And if you are deep into the new Hearthstone expansion, check out the following behind-the-scenes video of its making!

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Global Chat: Something fishy in these MMOs

Fishing in MMOs: You either really get it or you really don’t. Ancient Gaming Noob Wilhelm is among those who enjoys taking every opportunity possible to cast his rod and reel in search of slimy, scaly adventure under the waves — and he’s shared how he assigns an alt the joy and responsibility of fishing in each one of his games.

“If there is fishing in a game, I’ll be there. But fishing really only needs one character,” he writes. “I generally pick somebody to be my fisherman and send them out to fish around the world, following whatever plans the game happens to have for the vocation.”

Oh my cod, you say, this column has already started to flounder. Well, fear not, we have a porpoise for everything we post, and we’re sure that you’ll get hooked on one of these MMO essays and end up trouting its virtues.

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WoW Factor: The fate of WoW’s class orders post-Legion, part 1

In the lull between expansions, I’ve been hard at work bringing my alts up to the level cap, unlocking all of the class mounts, picking up the occasional appearance that I really want from the Mage Tower challenge… you know, the usual stuff. And the result is that I find myself asking a question that surprises me a wee bit in the context of World of Warcraft: What is going to happen to all of the class orders?

I neither had an answer nor cared about one when it came to garrisons. Presumably, they’d continue to sit there, a testament to what happens when designers try to make housing that isn’t housing and don’t understand why people like housing in the first place. But the order halls are different. They’re cross-factional, they’re important, and perhaps most importantly, they represent something that makes different use of the resources of the world.

So what’s happening to these orders? How are they changing? How does this play into the war between the Horde and the Alliance becoming properly hot? And might we get some extra lore about these things?

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Christmas happenings in DCUO, Overwatch, Worlds Adrift, and Neverwinter

Faster than the snow can come down and the heating bills go up are all of the holiday events that are streaming into, well, pretty much every online game out there. While we’re still a week away from posting our massive seasonal roundup of all of the events, here’s a preview to tide you over.

In DC Universe Online, heroes and villains can run quests to recover stolen gifts, and everyone is invited to grab a free daily gift in the marketplace through December 22nd.

Neverwinter’s Winter Festival of Simril is back, and from now through January 4th players can go on sled races, participate in ice fishing, or sit back and stargaze.

Overwatch added a slew of nifty-looking winter skins to chase this season, and Dot Esports has previews of all of them. Or maybe you want to give instead of get by creating the perfect rocket-powered sleigh for Santa in Worlds Adrift? It’s all up to you.

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Hearthstone alters its e-sports plan for 2018 while continuing to get more expensive

People who enjoy playing or watching competitive Hearthstone will probably be excited about the recently announced changes to the game’s competitive play circuit. The game is significantly upping the prizes for playing in official competitive events as well as instituting a point-based “Masters” program to keep solid players in the tournament circuit. If you’ve been around the competitive card game block before, the structure is more than a little reminiscent of some other card game that seems to have done all right for itself over the years. And it means more matches and more incentive for players to take part, which is all good.

Of course, if you’re not into the competitive scene but still really enjoy playing it, you may be feeling a bit more of a pinch for the game; the title is still free-to-play, but it’s also getting more expensive year-over-year as the title moves away from single-player adventures toward more card sets. Of course, that’s also the price of getting every card rather than just the cards you want… but then, you can’t really control which cards you get from randomized packs, can you? But you can choose which cards you craft as you open more packs. So it balances in several directions.

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Titan Quest lives on in current-gen consoles

To be completely honest with you, I never really thought that we would be reporting in 2017 about a Diablo clone that released in 2006, but here we are. Perhaps it’s Titan Quest’s willingness to adapt to new platforms that has kept this ARPG alive and kicking over the past decade or so.

The next stage of adaptation is coming soon, as Titan Quest announced that it is coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2018, with a Nintendo Switch version in the works for an unspecified future release. The console edition will contain the base game and Immortal Throne expansion.

Console players can check out this mythology-steeped title either online or off, with the online version sporting a two- to six-player coop mode. Titan Quest will be released in both Standard ($30) and Collector’s Editions ($120), with the latter containing a Greek war helmet replica and (drumroll) a notepad. Hm. Probably should have ended with the helmet thing.

Titan Quest recently released a Ragnarok expansion on Steam and was ported over to mobile last year.

Source: Press release

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Tamriel Infinium: Our 2017 report card for Elder Scrolls Online

All in all, 2017 has been a fabulous year for the Elder Scrolls Online, and although I have been light on talking about the game recently, I have jumped in regularly to explore Vvardenfell and Clockwork City. This year ESO saw its first expansion and dare I say its greatest addition to the game: Morrowind. But that shouldn’t diminish the other great stories in the Horns of the Reach and Clockwork City DLCs. Also, ESO introduced one of the best player housing systems I’ve ever seen with Homestead earlier this year. I really don’t know how ESO is going to top 2017.

Let’s pull apart the accomplishments of ESO this year into my standard for grading MMORPGs: The Bartle Taxonomy. MMORPGs are wonderful because of the breadth of different activities that players can participate in. They draw together many different kinds of players, and Bartle’s Taxonomy breaks these players into four different categories: Socializers, Achievers, Killers, and Explorers.

Most people will be a blend of two or more of these categories. I’m going to measure the merits of the game based each category individually using a scale you’ll often find in American schools: A, B, C, D, and F.

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Black Desert’s Mystic is fully playable today, just watch out for the yeti

Did ya roll your Mystic last week to get all your free loot in the MMO we just named most underrated of 2017? If not, then you should boot up Black Desert today as you can actually play her, not just play character customization. The game’s seeing the benefit of the client optimization Pearl Abyss has been talking up too.

“With the release of the long-awaited Mystic, please enjoy leveling this dazzling class while stacking up on cool rewards. Meanwhile, the abominable Yeti, Piku, has been sighted near Alejandro Farm. When the blizzard hits, that’s when you know Piku has appeared. Make sure to have a special Frosted Matchlock to take this monster down. In addition, a notable announcement we want to make is that our game client has tremendously reduced in size where its 27 GB now!”

Don’t forget that Kakao is running specific level-up events right now to make catching up with the new toon a bit easier and more rewarding. Massively OP will be streaming some Mystic gameplay tonight, so check back on OPTV at 8 p.m. EST this evening!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 148: Vampires, kobolds, and pirates

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree sort out the pile of expansions and updates that developers are scrambling to get out of the door before the holiday break. From vampires to kobolds, there’s something for everyone this month, and it only looks to get nuttier with the new year!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Leaderboard: Which MMO gameplay type encourages the worst player behavior?

One of the common tropes held by MMORPG players is that PvP, particularly free-for-all environments prone to ganks, generates the worst type of behavior. But while it may be more common for PvP, I have also witnessed absolutely wretched behavior from all types of players, including psychological abuse from roleplayers, to say nothing of plane-jumping, ninja-looting, and greed from PvE gamers. The problem in my mind isn’t PvP as much as it is conflict and competition, which is something most game types engender. I bet you’ve seen the same.

Making that point is a story from PCGamesN this morning, which reports on a World of Warcraft player who’s apparently been DDOSing teammates to ensure himself a raid spot in the well-known raiding guild Limit. Limit has since booted the player.

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SuperData says the e-sports industry grew to $1.5B this year alone

SuperData has a new report out this week that suggests e-sports haters will not be getting what they want for Christmas.

“The esports market has finally hit the mainstream,” the gaming analysis firm declares, echoing the argument it made in October. “Once only large in core Asian markets like Korea, esports have expanded worldwide and are now top of mind of every publisher, platform, and brand. As recognition of the importance of esports grows, the data and insights needed for strategizing become vital.”

The report estimates that the e-sports industry is on track to grow by almost a billion dollars per year by 2022, driven in part by a huge increase in investment and advertising revenue. It also recognizes the big four games: League of Legends, with its huge viewerbase; Dota 2, with its mega prize pools; Overwatch, which is laying the foundation with city-based teams; and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has drawn over 200M monthly viewers in just half a year during early access.

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World of Warcraft’s Celestalon moves over to Hearthstone team

He’s giving a sad goodbye to World of Warcraft but a happy hello to Hearthstone, as Game Designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig has switched teams over at Blizzard.

Nervig announced the move on Twitter late last week: “Classes, systems, spreadsheets, the occasional obscure questline… These have been the primary focus of my life for years now. I cannot thank the WoW community enough, for your passion, your friendship, the laughs, the excitement, for being able to do something I love. It has been an honor. But the time has come for me to adventure elsewhere within Azeroth, and tackle a different challenge… Cards! I’ll see you soon, Hearthstone fans!”

Speaking of Hearthstone, have you seen this truly hilarious Kobolds and Catacombs live action trailer? It may just sweep the Oscars next spring, but you can watch it now after the jump.

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Overwatch’s Tracer spotted in Ready Player One trailer

The official trailer is now out for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, and Overwatch fans may be pleasantly surprised to see a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Tracer herself.

The sci-fi movie, based on the hit book of the same name, takes place in the future where gamers battle it out in “The Oasis” to find an Easter egg that will allow them to take control of this virtual reality realm and $500 billion. As gamers can collect and use avatars from all realms of pop culture, including movies, games, comics, and TV shows, the end result is a film full of Chun Lis, Iron Giants, Battletoads, and (apparently) Tracers.

Interestingly enough, in the book the author specifically mentions World of Warcraft as being one of the “planets” that players can visit in The Oasis.

There are a lot of video game, pop culture, and ’80s references to be spotted in the trailer — if you have a quick eye. Check it out below!

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