Score one for Blizzard: The gaming giant managed a win in its long struggle against German bot-maker and plague-on-honest-gaming Bossland GmbH.
The German Federal Court of Justice this week overturned earlier lower court rulings to determine that Bossland's HonorBuddy bot program for World of Warcraft is in fact in violation of anti-competition laws.
You'll recall that Bossland creates, distributes, and sells bots for Blizzard's games, which Blizz has ardently argued violates its copyrights and costs it exorbitant amounts of money to fight in-game and out. In May of 2015, Bossland convinced a German court to deny Blizzard's request for an injunction against it, which prompted Blizzard to sue Bossland's American contractor in a California federal court. That suit was ultimately dismissed, but when said American contractor cooperated with the authorities, Bossland absurdly accused Blizzard of copyright infringement for its acquisition of the Heroes of the Storm StormBuddy bot's source code. Let that sink in for a minute.
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.
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.
Did you know that it was 20 years ago this week that the original Diablo released? Well, if you're playing any Blizzard game at all, you will be made well aware of this fact soon enough.
Blizzard is rolling out an anniversary celebration across its entire library, with special events and gifts in Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Overwatch, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft.
Among the festivities include the recreation of the classic Diablo dungeon in Diablo III, a new challenger in Hearthstone's Tavern Brawl, and Diablo III sprays in Overwatch. Blizzard also hinted at special encounters in World of Warcraft: "Strange things are afoot in the world of Azeroth as denizens of Sanctuary cross over into an unfamiliar world."
As the Horde pushed north following the destruction of Stormwind, the Alliance dogged their forces and conspired to push them back. But the Horde found allies as well, starting with the Forest Trolls led by Zul'jin, a group that hated the High Elves and the humans enough to gladly ally with the Horde's forces. It is that Zul'jin that is showing up in Heroes of the Storm as the newest hero in the game, rather than the half-blind one-armed maniac who later would show up as a raid boss. The years were not kind.
This version of Zul'jin happily dishes out damage with his twin axes, snaring and marking enemies or calling down massive axe strikes. He's also difficult to kill, capable of regenerating health or even becoming briefly unkillable. So he's an assassin, but he's the kind that can take a beating without folding completely. Check out the full rundown if you're looking forward to taking the original Troll allies of the Horde for a spin.
There will be no Rogue One spoilers in today's podcast. There will, however, be copious leaks and previews for Rogue Two, which involves some farmboy learning the Force and making friends with a smuggler and a Wookiee while getting the hots for his sister. Oh, and the co-hosts might be talking about the year-end holidays and what MMOs are coming in 2017.
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.
It's time to get all snuggly in front of a crackling fire, roast up some chestnuts, down a gallon of hot chocolate, and log into your favorite online RPGs for seasonal festivities! Or you could "bah humbug!" your way through the season and ignore all of the silly, free, and rewarding events if you so desire. We're not here to tell you what to do, after all!
With extra time off of work and school, many gamers have the opportunity to take advantage of all of the winter holiday events that are running across MMORPGs, MOBAs, and other online games. Feeling at a loss about where to start? Board the Massively OP sleigh and join us as we take you on a tour of all of the Christmas events going on right now!
Does it seem like Heroes of the Storm is still struggling to find its niche? On the one hand, that question is ridiculous at face value; the game is very clearly meant to fall into Blizzard's now common model for games with online-only play, allowing plenty of casual players to thrive while also pushing the competitive side. But a piece on Gamasutra examines why HotS has failed to take off among the competitive scene, which might bode ill for the game's long-term viability.
The short version of the argument is that while the game is far more accessible to new players and players not interested in the hyper-competitive aspects, it also shuts down the competitive aspects that can lead to narratives and emphasize individual performance. The game's heavy emphasis on teams working together and fighting together means that there's less chance for individual players to shine, and the relatively shorter ranges and smaller areas means that things are frequently jammed into smaller parts of the screen. It's left as an exercise to the reader whether "more focused on casual players" is a bad thing or not.
The holiday season is rolling out in many of Blizzard's games (although that Diablo guy is being a real Grinch about it), so as you peruse the launcher, here's a handy guide to what to expect in the studio's games.
Overwatch is introducing its Winter Wonderland event for the first time this year. In addition to cozy decorations, the team shooter is adding winter loot boxes (with 100 seasonal items) and the new Mei's Snowball Offensive 6v6 brawl. The event will conclude on January 2nd.
Over at World of Warcraft, Azerothians are preparing for the return of the Feast of Winter Veil. Quests, toys, and even kissing is on tap for this annual event, and you'll want to make sure to log in on December 25th to grab your free presents from underneath Greatfather Winter's tree!
Finally, Heroes of the Storm welcomes Winter Veil through January 4th. New skins can be purchased, but for those wanting freebies, a snowflake portrait and goblin mount is yours for participating in 25 games. Additionally, a 25% XP boost will be running for the duration of the event.
Heroes of the Storm Game Director Dustin Browder announced this afternoon that he's hanging up his hat and moving elsewhere within Blizzard to work on a new project.
"The Heroes of the Storm team is one of the best game teams I have ever had the honor of serving on. I cannot believe how much work and love went into turning what started as a tiny mod into the epic experience that it has become today. And the team just continues to pour their passion, dedication, and expertise into patches, updates, and awesome new game features. 2017 is going to be a huge year for Heroes of the Storm, with new Heroes, Battlegrounds, a massive progression update, improvements to our ladder and matchmaking systems, new social systems, new Brawls, and more."
Taking over is Blizzard's Alan Dabiri, a migration that has apparently already been underway for the last few months.
Getcher credit cards ready, folks. It's time.
(New additions are at the bottom!)
King Varian Wrynn in Heroes of the Storm is a Warrior. Not just in the MOBA-specific terminology, either; he's a Warrior in the classic World of Warcraft style. Players will determine Varian's spec by making a choice between three different talents at level 10, whether you want a version of Varian focused around soaking damage, slashing through things with auto-attacks, or outputting huge burst damage. Unlike the characters who can always do one thing, Varian can do three different things, and he can change based on the needs of your team and the battlefield.
The spotlight video below shows off Varian's ability layout; regardless of his spec, he can charge, use a ranged snare, make use of Heroic Strike, and parry incoming attacks. It's up to you whether you want to focus on Varian's ability to use Colossus Smash to quickly kill an enemy target, Taunt to soak up attacks and prevent enemies from hitting more vulnerable teammates, or Twin Blades of Fury to turn him into a swift and powerful attacker. It's all about the flexibility.
BlizzCon 2016 was really hit-and-miss from my perspective. On the one hand, there was some really great stuff in there, like the discussion of World of Warcraft's next patch. On the other hand, there was some astonishingly weak stuff as well, like how badly the Diablo anniversary panel felt like a flub; it landed with a remarkably weak impact. And then there were parts like the Legion design retrospective that seemed to be saying decent stuff in the worst possible way, or the final release of Sombra for Overwatch that was presented in a really cool way... after being far, far too drawn out.
However, it's not just about what I thought; we want to know what your feelings were. What was your favorite part of BlizzCon? Do you feel like the convention lived up to your expectations without a major announcement, or did it feel superfluous without one? Did your favorite game get the highlights you wanted? What worked and what didn't? Did you enjoy our liveblogs? And perhaps most importantly, did you buy a shirt? It's a cool shirt.