It’s time for a whole lot of new characters to smash into the fray in Blizzard’s various multiplayer offerings. Hearthstone doesn’t have characters, per se, but it does have deck types, and the game’s next expansion is delivering a whole new deck type with Odds & Evens. Yes, that’s where you have an entire deck consisting of cards with odd costs or even costs; you can check out the video below for more elaboration.
Overwatch, of course, does have new characters. Specifically, it has Brigitte, who as it turns out will be arriving in the game on March 20th. If you’ve been looking forward to playing the smashy warrior-healer on the live game, you’ll have your chance very soon.
Last but not least, the Heroes of the Storm team is promising another new hero in the form of Fenix, a character from StarCraft who got killed in the first few missions. Later, he came back in a giant spider robot carrying his dead body. (He was a Dragoon. It makes sense in context.) So that’s also fun, although we warn you that teams might not appreciate you saying “I return to serve” every time you respawn.
This week in Massively Overthinking, I want to talk about something out on the fringes of our genre: battle royale games. We’ve been watching BR take off, first with H1Z1, then the explosion of PUBG last summer and fall, and now Fortnite has taken the crown, becoming even more popular and raking in even more money, at least on console and potentially overall. And yet less than a year ago, we were embracing Fortnite as a PvE building game – see how blazingly fast Epic pivoted to catch this trend? I remember when PUBG started to plateau in the west even as it continued it climb in China, and I wondered then whether anything could ever dethrone it – and I have to say, I didn’t think it would be Fortnite.
So let’s talk about battle royale. Is it bleeding an online subgenre – MMOs, shooters, MOBAs, or survival sandboxes, or is it just something everyone’s tacked on top of existing gameplay? How will mobile keep up? And most importantly, is it a fad that’s destined to eventually fade away, or is it here to stay?
It’s been 20 years since StarCraft was first released to the world, and as a result, Blizzard is taking the time to celebrate the anniversary. Where? Everywhere. Basically every single title has some sort of anniversary celebration, even World of Warcraft.
Although considering the World of Warcraft celebration just consists of a feat of strength for saluting minipets based off of the game, calling that one a “celebration” might be a bit of a stretch. “Acknowledgement” seems more appropriate.
Overwatch players can pick up a Kerrigan skin for Widowmaker, StarCraft II players can get special UI skins based off of the original game, and even StarCraft Remastered gets a special UI skin. There are also rewards for taking part in a special brawl in Hearthstone and old-school portraits for Heroes of the Storm, so whatever title you play, you can do something to remember the game’s initial launch.
Here’s a message that Blizzard Entertainment wants to trumpet from the mountaintops: Heroes of the Storm is not, in fact, spiraling down to oblivion.
So why would this be a question right now? It seems that the combination of the recent MOBA shutdowns and a consolidation of Heroes’ merchandise store section from five to one page had some players concerned about the lifespan of Blizzard’s oft-overshadowed title. But the studio went on the record by saying that it isn’t downsizing the MOBA or preparing to give it a pink slip.
“Heroes of the Storm is not dying. We’re not giving up on it, nothing like that,” said E-sports Franchise Lead Sam Braithwaite. “In general, I think people are taking something that is very unrelated, at all, to the game’s health, which is some merch that we’re re-evaluating, and kind of putting a doomsday ticker on that, which is absolutely not the case. We have an incredibly jam-packed content schedule for the rest of this year, people are going to be really excited for the stuff that we have planned.”
The next patch for Heroes of the Storm is arriving on March 6th, but you can test the patch on the test server until March 5th. (At which point you can “test” it by just playing the game.) So what’s contained therein? Balance changes! Specifically, changes for Sonya and Medivh, neither of whom is in a terrible place before the patch but both of whom could use some development love.
Sonya, for example, has a pretty tried-and-true talent path that basically everyone picks, so the goal is to mix things up a bit with improvements to the AoE effect talents for Seismic Slam. Medivh, meanwhile, is a fun hero to play but also a challenging one, so the balance goal is to keep him fun and challenging while making him less frustrating to play against by reducing the uptime on Portals and Force of Will. Check out the full list of changes, or just look at the videos for both of these heroes just below.
When the toxicity topics just keep piling up in the news room and nobody wants to cover them, you get the Toxicity Roundup, your weekly report on who’s being a jerk in gaming this week! (We’re kidding. This is not really a thing. We don’t really want this to be a thing. Please don’t make this a thing.)
Let’s start with Overwatch. Kotaku has a report out on a stream sniper who was hassling popular streamer TimTheTatMan. The troll would show up in the streamer’s matches, refuse to play anything but Symmetra, and proceed to suck – meaning the team always lost. Apparently, TimTheTatMan wasn’t the only person this jerk had griefed. “To be clear this player is being banned, not for their hero choice, but rather for systematically ruining Overwatch games for thousands of players,” Blizzard wrote on Reddit. “We recognize that not finding this player faster is an unfortunate failure of our ever-developing reporting system and we’ve already taken steps to quickly eliminate outliers like this in the future.” So one down, how many more to go?
What else have we got here…
Warcraft III or World of Warcraft players should know well the name of Maiev Shadowsong. This Warden — best known as Illidan’s jailor — has built up a following across the two games she’s fought, and now Maiev brings her war to a new front in Heroes of the Storm.
The MOBA version of the character attempts to stay true to her roots as a fast-moving fighter who strikes out all around her. With her blink ability, she can dart into the fray and lash out with a fan of knives before anyone can react. Blizzard is obviously positioning her as a multi-target fighter who can get in and get out before taking too much damage herself.
Perhaps her most interesting ability is Vault of the Wardens, which allows Maiev to do a little flip in the air that dodges attacks and can cause an enemy to waste a move. If you like frustrating your opponents, this could be the class for you!
It is time to begin the great battle for the eternal fate of the Nexus! Hero Rehgar, Orc Shaman from beyond the Dark Portal, has come to seek true battle against the vile Abathur! Abathur’s unholy Xenotech Armor has made him an emperor of destruction, but Rehgar will not allow such unpleasant behavior to persist! Yet Rehgar’s sense of burning justice has blinded him to the aid of his companion, the noble Archangel Tyrael, also possessed of a mighty mecha suit able to cut a path of honor through Abathur’s hopeless soldiers!
Within the Nexus you may bring these powerful warriors beneath your command to create your own battles of endless warriors! Brave Rehgar, noble Tyrael, and scheming Abathur all posses multiple skins you may wear! Will you bring these powerful robots of battle into the fields of glory with you, or will you cower forgotten in the land of wind and ghosts? Demonstrate the spirit of a true warrior!
Below, you may see the oncoming Heroes Mecha Storm! For the forever brave Heroes of the Storm!
Considering the pedigree of StarCraft II and the MOBA genre in general, you would think that Heroes of the Storm would have featured heroes based on its iconic units in about four seconds. But it’s taken us this long to get Blaze in the game. What’s Blaze’s story? He’s a Firebat. His interests include fire, standing in fire, causing fires, and being a Firebat. His relationship status? Fire. You get the idea.
He may have a rich inner life.
Fortunately, Blaze doesn’t have to be an interesting person to be an interesting character, and if your idea of being an interesting character is setting fire to everything with concentrated abilities, Blaze is very interesting indeed. He bursts flame to nearby targets, sets fire to oil slicks he drops that also heal him whilst he’s in the flames, charges to targets, and unleashes fire even faster the more he burns his enemies. And one of his ultimate abilities lets you call down a bunker to fill with your allies to shoot flames everywhere, so he keeps that thematic connection strong. Check out the firebug’s full rundown just below in video format.
Enjoying your yeti hunts in Overwatch this holiday season? You can get a little more of the “backstory” of this event, such as it is, by reading a new animated comic book starring Mei and Mr. Yeti. Even without any spoken words, it’s seven kinds of adorable.
Over at Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard has teased the launch of Blaze next year and instigated a snowball fight among players. With both fluffy and heavy snowballs, each fight is sure to end in a hilarious mess. And when players complete three snowball fights, they will be treated to a loot chest.
Have a few extra bucks that Santa and his corporate elves haven’t pried from your wallet this month? Blizzard would like to tempt you to pick up one of its titles that are on sale from now through the beginning of January.
World of Warcraft’s base game is just $10, Legion is down to $25, and many of the MMO’s cash shop items are marked down. You can get Overwatch for $20 or the Game of the Year edition for ten bucks more. StarCraft II’s campaign collection is $30, and StarCraft: Remastered is $10.
Over in happy Diablo land, the base game and expansion are going for $20, while its Rise of the Necromancer DLC is down to $10. Finally, Heroes of the Storm’s Foundation bundle is being offered for 2,000 gems.
Source: Press release
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!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Outer Stories of Wulin, ArcheAge Begins, The Black Death, Wakfu, Dark Age of Camelot, RuneScape, Pokemon Go, SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Battlerite, Ragnarok Rush, Wild Busters, Final Fantasy XI, and Twin Saga, all waiting for you after the break!
‘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!