Overwatch is turning one year this month, so bust out your hipster camera and baby confections for a cake smash! Just kidding. Actually Blizzard is kicking off a huge promotion next week starting with a free play period over Memorial Day weekend and ending with the conclusion of season 4:
“In addition to Overwatch Anniversary, we will be holding another free-weekend from May 26th-29th. For this free weekend, we’re making Overwatch’s full roster of heroes and maps available for play in a variety of modes, including Quick Play, Custom Games, and the latest Weekly Brawl. Players will also have the ability to level up, earn Loot Boxes, and unlock a variety of different customization options. If players decide to purchase a copy of Overwatch after the free-weekend they will get to keep any progress made during the weekend.”
Wanna buy it after that? Maybe hold out for the GOTY edition, which launches the same day as the promo event for PC, Xbox One, and PS4. In it, you’ll find 10 loot boxes, plus Overwatch skins, Tracer in Heroes of the Storm, Baby Winston in World of Warcraft, Mercy’s Wings in Diablo III, new portraits in StarCraft II, and a special card in Hearthstone. ALL the cross-promotions. The new anniversary trailer’s down below.
D.Va fans now have a choice of two games to get their cute girl-in-a-mech fix. The Overwatch fan favorite made her way over to Heroes of the Storm yesterday, becoming the fifth import from the team shooter to Blizzard’s MOBA.
The playstyle of this character is split into two modes. When D.Va is in her mech, she can bully her way across the battlefield with boosters and punishing attacks. If her mech gets destroyed (by the enemy or herself), she switches into pilot mode to savage foes while building up a meter to call down a replacement mech.
Interestingly enough, foes only get half-experience for killing either D.Va or her mech, suggesting that these two parts make up one complete hero.
Check out D.Va in action after the break!
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 have stories and videos from MapleStory, Heroes of the Storm, Ingress, Wurm Online, DCUO, Hellion, Life is Feudal, Skyforge, Overwatch, H1Z1, Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!
At this point, Heroes of the Storm really should stop pretending and just rename itself Heroes of Overwatch.
Blizzard’s underperforming MOBA is certainly capitalizing hard on the roaring success of Overwatch these days. Shortly after introducing Genji to the game as a playable hero, HOTS has started to test D.Va as the game’s fifth import from Overwatch.
D.Va is the popular South Korean character who drives a mech and fights cosmic threats in her spare time. In keeping with her theme, Heroes of the Storm allows D.Va to fight as both a mech and as a pilot if the mech is destroyed (by enemies or by D.Va herself). There are abilities specific to one mode, such as bunny-hopping the mech or firing a big shot as the pilot.
Heroes of the Storm is currently running a promotion for players to earn a police officer skin for D.Va in Overwatch.
Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.
But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.
So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!
Blizzard has just announced that Overwatch has just counted 30 million players. That’s buyers, mind you, as the game is buy-to-play.
However, a limited free-to-play Overwatch is actually happening, albeit with two caveats: It’s only going to be for the month of May, and it’s only rolling out in China. Blizzard announced that all heroes and all maps will be available for free from May 1st through the 31st in China. The only exception is competitive mode, which will not be available for the F2P crowd. Players can take the game out for a spin and even keep their progress if they purchase the game after that month.
Meanwhile, Overwatch fans who are a little peeved at having to play Heroes of the Storm to earn special skins should be consoled by the word that these skins will eventually come to Overwatch’s lootboxes in the future. Anything else Blizzard can do for you? Fluff your pillow? Tell you a bedtime story? OK then.
It is an absolutely massive week for Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm, so let’s dig into all of the news. Yesterday, the game launched its Patch 2.0 overhaul, which contains an improved progression and rewards system, the Hanamura battleground, a collections page, the introduction of gems as the premium currency of the game, and a brand-new hero: Overwatch’s Genji.
As part of the patch fun, Heroes also kicked off a multi-week quest chain called Nexus Challenge 2.0. By completing each of the four quests (which conclude on May 22nd), players can earn rewards in both Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm, such as a new D.Va officer skin, loot boxes, and motorcycle mounts. D.Va will most likely be the next hero to come to the game, according to a new cinematic.
If those aren’t enough freebies for you, Blizzard is giving away two score of free heroes to anyone who logs in: “All players who log in between April 25 and May 22 will receive 100 gems, which can be used to permanently unlock one Mega Bundle of their choice. Each Mega Bundle contains 20 Heroes and has its own theme: Assassin, Flex, Support & Specialist, and Tanks & Bruisers.”
Is there a Blizzard franchise you want to carry around in your pocket? Obviously, you can already play Hearthstone on your phone, but perhaps you’d like to play a version of Overwatch where you’re tracking down and shooting Omnics in the real world, or perhaps a version of Diablo allowing cross-client progression. Whatever the case may be, we don’t know that another mobile title is on the way, but considering the company is hiring for a new mobile software engineer, it seems likely.
While it’s unlikely to be a completely new title, there have been rumblings for a while that either Overwatch or StarCraft would lend themselves to mobile offerings. That could mean it’s one of those two, or it could be another crossover property like Heroes of the Storm. Or even a mobile port of the original StarCraft (stranger things have happened). It’s all speculative at the moment, but if you enjoy playing on your phone, it’s all positive speculation.
A fourth Overwatch toon is coming to Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard revealed today: The assassin Genji will join Lucio, Tracer, and Zarya in the MOBA, confirming earlier leaks.
“Genji is an augmented cyborg ninja whose agility and skill make him an exceptionally lethal threat. In Heroes of the Storm, this new Hero is an opportunistic, highly-mobile Assassin who can tear apart a weak backline.”
He arrives on the PTS today and is destined to go live with the massive 2.0 update that Blizzard has hyped as a “whole new era” for the game as it nukes the crap out of level caps, locks more systems to accounts rather than characters, and improves progression speed and rewards.
Maybe more interestingly, Japanese-themed Overwatch map Hanamura will also make the jump to HOTS as a two-lane battleground. “Much like Towers of Doom, Heroes will not be able to directly assault the opposing core, but must instead find victory through use of the map’s unique mercenaries, taking down the Mega Enforcer boss, and actually escorting the Payloads,” Blizz says.
Whether you’re a big fan of the e-sports scene or you would be quite happy never hearing about it ever again, you are no doubt aware that a lot of companies are sinking quite a bit of money into it. It’s not just limited to existing e-sports darlings like League of Legends, either, as Blizzard is very clearly targeting the field with Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, and it’s pretty obvious that Guild Wars 2 wanted a slice of that pie. But a new piece by Joost van Dreunen, CEO of Superdata, brings up a relevant point that is often getting overlooked: With all of these companies investing in the field, where is actual business model to make money off of e-sports?
Van Dreunen points out that the long-term impact of e-sports, both in terms of viability and engagement, has yet to be understood in anything more than the broadest terms and may in fact be part of a shifting of culture. The current emphasis on a very narrow appeal isn’t helping drive long-term engagement, and it raises questions about whether the long-term goal of e-sports is to serve as a business model unto itself or if the goal is basically to use these events as an advertisement for the games in question. It’s well worth reading even if you’re not a fan of the field, as it brings up some interesting points about where the idea of competitive video games will go in the next few years.
Congrats are due this week to the University of Texas at Arlington, whose Heroes of the Storm e-sports team pretty much walked away handily with the Heroes of the Dorm trophy given at the Las Vegas National Championships on Saturday. UT Arlington finishes its competitive year with a 29-0 record and blots out its huge loss to Arizona State last year.
The five students pick up free college tuition for up to three years (up to $75,000 total) as their prize, so not a bad deal at all. Google says tuition at UT Arlington is just under $10,000, which is dirt cheap in the States, in case you’re wondering, so Blizz got away easy!
In other Heroes of the Storm news, Kotaku has a whimsical report out on two lovebirds who met while playing Heroes of the Storm, and against really all the odds everywhere, married each other last week. They didn’t cosplay at their wedding, in case you’re wondering, but they considered it!
German bot company Bossland has lost another battle in its war with Blizzard, though that’s to be expected since it didn’t even show up for the fight.
Bossland creates, distributes, and sells bots for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, HearthStone, Heroes of the Storm, and Diablo III, which Blizz argues 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 led Bossland to absurdly accuse Blizzard of copyright infringement for its acquisition of the Heroes of the Storm bot’s source code. Last year, Blizzard sued Bossland again in a California court over its many hacks, as of March seeking the minimum $8.5M in damages, and this past January, Blizzard scored a win against the botmakers in a German Supreme Court ruling, which overturned lower court rulings to determine that Bossland’s HonorBuddy bot program for World of Warcraft is in fact in violation of anti-competition laws.
“It’s a whole new era for Heroes of the Storm,” Blizzard has declared in its new HOTS dev video today. That’s because the game is currently in the midst of a month-long test of a huge progression patch the studio is calling Heroes 2.0. Level caps are being nuked; your level cap will now basically be account-wide, and leveling will be much more quick across the board. Blizz is also adding loot chests out the wazoo as you level and meet certain accomplishments. It’s going to look pretty familiar to other games across the MOBA genre and in Blizzard’s own stable.
The studio has also introduced a new hero today: Cassia, the Amazon, brought over from Diablo II. The best class! In HOTS, she’ll function as a ranged assassin with high defenses while moving, flung javelins and lightning plus cone javelin stabbing. Sorry, bowazons.
Check out the pair of intro vids down below.