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.
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 Pokemon Go, Conan Exiles, Warframe, Crash Force, Heroes of the Storm, Armored Warfare, Elder Scrolls Online, TERA, Avabel Online, Overwatch, Aion, Glory Ridge, Dragon Nest, all waiting for you after the break!
If you have a sweet tooth or diabetes, you may want to avoid the temptation that we’re about to put in your path with today’s headlining picture from the MOP community. It’s… the Candy Man, as delicious as he is deadly.
“On the topic of sweets, this screenshot from Heroes of the Storm is one of my favorite things ever,” writes Little Bugbear. “Sometime it’s difficult in MOBAs to find a character and skin that fit you perfectly. For me Kandy King Muradian’s pink beard and overwhelming decadence makes it the pinnacle of MOBA skins.”
Amen to that. I just want a small nibble, is that so bad?
Say what you will about Blizzard, but the studio knows how to make wordless bots adorable. Such is the case for Probius, the newly announced next hero for MOBA Heroes of the Storm — and yes, he’s really a Protoss drone from StarCraft. He’ll be warping and buffing and disrupting and making little Artoo noises on the PTR next week starting on March 6th.
I can’t wait to see what sort of funky porn people come up with for this lil dude. No, actually, I can totally wait. On second thought, how about a nice themed plushie?
Check out the video below!
The latest Heroes of the Storm balance patch isn’t going to give anyone a bunch of satisfying new tricks. It’s actually taking a lot of existing tricks away from various characters. Tychus, for example, has proven to be too darn good at not just tank-busting but assassin-busting as well, therefore making him too dominant against too wide a spread of heroes. Murky is clearly dominating, Malfurion is too good as support, and Varian isn’t unbalanced but did have a few abilities that were just not fun to play against.
As such, all four characters have received some major adjustments. Tychus has had his attack range dropped and several abilities tinkered with, keeping his power at his intended role but tuning him down elsewhere. Murky received a wide-reaching nerf to his control and reliability, while Malfurion loses much of the power on his Entangling Roots and associated talents. Last but not least, Varian’s Warbringer has been changed to a Slow effect, as the ranged stun was proving too easy to abuse and led to unenjoyable game states. There are a few other heroes with adjustments on a smaller scale as well; you may want to check out the full patch notes before diving in.
There’s a neat cross-promotion going on right now between Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft. Blizzard is encouraging its fans to give Heroes a try by enticing them with a free WoW mount. If you play 15 matches with friends on your Battle.net list by March 13th, you’ll get a Primal Flamesaber mount in WoW and a Judgment Charger mount and 10-day stimpack in Heroes for your troubles.
In other World of Warcraft news, the PTR just started testing out Patch 7.2’s long-awaited flying, as well as the new Cathedral of the Eternal Night and some reward changes to mythic+ dungeons.
Check out the new Primal Flamesaber mount after the break and see if it’s worth the effort!
Blizzard really, really wants its game launcher to be best friends with your Facebook account.
The studio has introduced a new version of the beta launcher that beefs up and adds several features that interface with your Facebook account. The big new one is being able to suggest friends will hook you up with your Facebook friends that also play Blizzard titles, but there are new streaming options and a different way of grouping your pals on your friends list as well.
“Suggested friends will provide users with new and easy ways to make new friends on Battle.net,” Blizzard said. “Facebook friend finder will allow users who have linked their Facebook account with their Battle.net account to find and add them as Battle.net friends.