Official Site: Overwatch
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: May 24, 2016
Genre: Team-Based OFPS
Business Model: B2P
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Blizzard roundup: World of Warcraft lore, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm balance, and Overwatch LEGO sets

Who’s ready for some news about Blizzard? Because boy, there’s a lot of it! Want some new World of Warcraft lore about Jaina? There’s a new comic out to explain why she is the way she is (this expansion, anyhow, because how the writers want her to act changes with the weather). Those of you who would like a more magic-happy version of Jaina, though, should just hop on over to Hearthstone… after checking out the newest balance changes incoming to the game.

Meanwhile, Heroes of the Storm has a new patch out which brings with it a brand-new event, Nexomania! (It’s a luchadore reference, for those unclear.) And Overwatch is going further in the toy field than we even considered, with upcoming LEGO sets featuring minifigures of several well-known characters. So you can play with them all the time!

Oh, and Diablo III is about ready to end its thirteenth season. Yes, that’s the Diablo life these days.

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Overwatch’s second anniversary event, new FFA Deathmatch map, and new lootboxes are live

As promised, Blizzard is dropping a big anniversary event for Overwatch starting today as the game turns two, complete with sales and new loot. And yes, new lootboxes. The first one’s free!

“What better way to mark the occasion than with a new FFA (free-for-all) Deathmatch map and more than 190 Anniversary items, including new Legendary skins? We’re also making past seasonal brawls available to play in the Arcade. Earn Anniversary Loot Boxes as you play, plus pick up one Legendary Anniversary Loot Box if you log in from May 22 through June 11, 2018. Each Legendary Anniversary Loot Box comes with at least one guaranteed legendary item and can contain loot from past seasonal events or other classic content. Anniversary Loot Boxes are also available for purchase—but they’ll be locked away after the event ends.”

The event runs through June 11th, so you’ve got some time even if your Memorial Day weekend is already booked. If you’ve never bought the game before, the new Legendary edition ($39.99 on PC and console) is probably a decent deal, as it includes the whole base game and toons plus some special skins and goodies for Blizzard’s other big titles too. There’s a cheaper version ($19.99) if you just want the basics, though. Those deals run through June 5th.

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Overwatch unveils ancient Petra map, has fun with stop-motion animation for its anniversary

It’s the start of an exciting run of Overwatch with the team shooter moving into an anniversary period. First up? A brand-new match called Petra that looks like it was recently the subject of an Indiana Jones adventure.

“A group of archaeologists have begun an excavation and preservation project among the ruins of Petra, a new Deathmatch map that puts all heroes on their own, facing off against one another until one hero scores enough eliminations to win the match,” said Blizzard. “Take in Petra’s majestic views, from high vistas to twisting passageways and deep caverns. Travel along deadly cliffs, but be careful to not fall off! A dilapidated bridge stretches across the map, and the ground underneath it can crumble away to reveal a lethal pit. Hopping on a green jump pad will boost you up to Petra’s higher levels and unlock new strategic possibilities for you.”

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Paladins Strike admits to unwittingly using Overwatch art assets for promo

Someone done goofed up over at Hi-Rez.

Players noticed that background artwork for the studio’s mobile title Paladins Strike bears a striking resemblance to Overwatch’s Lijiang Tower. And when we say “striking resemblance,” we mean “it’s the exact same piece of art.”

According to the studio, this was the result of poor quality control and outsourcing: “Thank you for your diligence in pointing this out. This art was created by a overseas partner studio for Paladins Strike and had not much in the way of oversight in its content creation by anyone internally at Hi-Rez. We will be looking into this immediately.”

See the comparison for yourself after the break!

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Overwatch is getting official Nerf guns next year

It may be that your biggest irritation is that there are times in the day when you cannot play Overwatch and thus have no way to shoot people with Overwatch firearms. Fortunately, that shan’t be a problem next year, as Blizzard is partnering with Hasbro to bring a line of Overwatch-themed blasters to the Nerf Rival line. (That’s the “upscale” Nerf assortment so that you can pretend you’re not playing with a toy made for five-year-olds, for people who like toys but are insecure about buying or owning them.)

No word on what the assortment will include, but you’ll be able to officially carry a gun modeled after your favorite characters! Assuming your favorite characters have a traditional gun, anyway. So probably nothing for Doomfist, Genji, Bastion, Hanzo, Junkrat, Mei, Reinhardt, Brigitte, Orisa, Torbjorn, Moira, Zenyatta, or Lucio. But everyone else can get something! (Slap a sticker on one of the few dozen Nerf bows for Hanzo, it’ll work.)

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Overwatch plans second anniversary festivities, legendary edition, and freebie weekend

Dang, can you believe Overwatch is almost two years old? Actually, I can – I’ve definitely been listening to my husband gripe about Blizzard’s algorithms while continuing to play, and it definitely feels like longer than two years in that context!

Blizz sent ’round the deets for its anniversary celebration today; beginning on May 22nd and running through June 11th, the festivities will land on all platforms. Expect the studio to drop 50 new items (including eight legendary skins and three epic skins), plus new dance emotes, the new Petra deathmatch map, a new competitive mode, a rez on the old seasonal brawls in the Arcade, and of course, legendary lootboxes. In fact, you get one of those for free just for logging in.

There’s also a freebie weekend – even on PS4 – running May 25th to 28th. If you don’t already own the game, you’ll want to consider the new “Legendary Edition” releasing on the 22nd; it’ll include 15 skins with the game in a bundle.

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Belgian Gaming Commission releases full report barring gambleboxes in video games

Back in 2017, at the height of mainstream outrage over lockbox shenanigans, Belgium became one of the very first countries to take the problem seriously (instead of just passing the buck). The Belgian committee assigned to investigate concluded in November that “the mixing of money and addiction is gambling” and pledged to ban them. At the end of April of this year, the country effectively did just that. Its Gaming Commission spent several months investigating multiple games, ultimately finding that OverwatchFIFA 18, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive are operating in violation of its laws specifically because of their lockbox mechanics.

At the time, we had only a few scattered quotes from a translated press release, but this week the Commission has released its entire report (and there’s even a version in English). Its goal is clear: to examine “whether the use of loot boxes in video games constitutes a gambling operation in the sense of the Belgian Gaming and Betting Act. ”

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Tamriel Infinium: Deep-diving the mechanics of Elder Scrolls Online Summerset’s Psijic Order skill line

Many MMO gamers – including me – are a bit underwhelmed by the next chapter of the Elder Scrolls Online. Although Summerset is not a bad bit of content, I have concerns about the amount of content that is coming with this expansion compared to the last expansion, Morrowind. The island of Summerset is a nice size, probably bigger than Vvardenfell, but there seem to be fewer things to keep people interested for longer than maybe a couple of weeks.

That being said, what it does, it does very well.

I’ve already mentioned in a previous article how gorgeous the island is, especially the extra zone of Artaeum. I was blown away by that. But I didn’t go into depth about Psijic Order skill line. At the time I wrote that article, I really hadn’t had a chance to play around with it. But now I have, and although I can’t say that everything about that skill tree is perfect, there are more than a couple of skills that I will be considering for my live character when the expansion launches.

I’ve broken up the Psijic skill line into three categories: utilities, healing, and passives. Keep reading and I will break it down further. And I would like to caveat before I get into the details, that if I give specific numbers, that those might change before launch, and that my character was Champion Level 750 Sorcerer without any CP spent.

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Overwatch fights breast cancer with a pink Mercy

I hope that we can agree that pink is, hands down, an awesome color. It’s saucy, it’s edgy, and it goes so well with black. Pink is also the color that represents the fight against breast cancer, which I also hope we can agree is a worthy cause.

You know who else likes pink? Overwatch’s Mercy, who is sporting the color this month to do her part to bring healing to the real world. From now through May 21st, players can buy Mercy’s limited-edition skin and have all of the proceeds go toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“Blizzard Entertainment will donate 100% the proceeds that it receives from all Pink Mercy skin sales to BCRF, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000 (USD),” the studio promised. “The total donation amount will be disclosed after the campaign concludes on May 21st.”

Players can also become involved this month by buying an actual Mercy t-shirt, logging in to unlock a free BCRF icon, and watch charity streams for sprays.
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Overwatch hackers see jail time in South Korea while competitive season 10 begins and Rialto goes live

If there was any remaining question, let’s make sure you know that you really do not want to be an Overwatch hacker in South Korea. A group of 13 suspected hackers were investigated and arrested in conjunction with hacking the game, with one such hacker getting a two-year suspended sentence, according to MMO Culture. It may be a suspended sentence, but it’s a pretty harsh penalty for hacking the game. So, you know, just don’t do that.

Meanwhile, players elsewhere who are not getting jail time for hacking the game can enjoy the 10th season of competitive play including Brigitte and the upcoming Rialto map. As always, competitive play is unlocked at level 25 and offers players a new competitive ladder to climb and/or slide down, depending on skill and some measure of luck. If that’s your jam, it’s a new season, so it’s time to do your best.

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ActiBlizz Q1 2018 financial report: WoW is actually outperforming expectations – time for a fourth yacht or no?

Reporting on Activision-Blizzard’s endless piles of money is about as much fun as reporting on how fifty-bajillion-zillion people are playing fork knife. No, I said that wrong; it’s about as much fun as taking a fork and a knife to my own eyeballs. But hey, it’s tradition, so here goes: Bobby Kotick and the gang have announced new records, measured in said piles of money; the company acknowledges it was a quarter “without large content releases” that nevertheless produced enough piles of money to surpass its own guidance, leading it to raise its outlook for more piles of money for the year.

“For the quarter ended March 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were a Q1 record $1.97 billion, as compared with $1.73 billion for the first quarter of 2017. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were an all-time quarterly record $1.46 billion. GAAP operating margin was 30%. GAAP earnings per share were an all-time quarterly record $0.65, as compared with $0.56 for the first quarter of 2017. […] Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 39% and earnings per diluted share were an all-time quarterly record $0.78, as compared with $0.72 for the first quarter of 2017. […] Operating cash flow was a Q1 record $529 million, up 29% year-over-year.”

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Massively OP Interview: Dual Universe demo shows off advances in city building, space travel

When you work in video games, you often get asked what new titles you are looking forward to. While experience has been teaching me to temper my enthusiasm, I do have one that I’m excited to play. I first got to experience Dual Universe in-person at PAX West last September, and since then I’ve been eagerly anticipating its release! Why? That title pretty summed it up well: It’s a persistent, seamless, sandbox universe. More than that even, it is a hotbed of creativity thanks to its voxel foundation. So I’ve had a taste of what can happen in a world that customizable, and I hunger for more!

That meeting with Jean-Christophe Baillie, the president and founder of NovaQuark, was seven months ago. How has development been coming along since then? How does the game look today? I got to sit down with Baillie for an update on progress and a new tour through the universe a few weeks ago. In my first demo, I saw promise. This time, I saw more of that promise realized.

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The Daily Grind: Do you make an effort to be positive and friendly in MMORPGs?

Despite concerns about the pervasiveness of toxicity in gaming, most gamers are not toxic. Outside of extremely social MMOs, I suspect most people probably just play their games peacefully in their own little bubble and don’t really interact much with other players at all, either negatively or positively. Ever run a PUG five-man in World of Warcraft? Yeah, most people are just playing along, not making a big effort to socialize, just teaming up when they have to, answering when spoken to but not going beyond. I’m not judging anybody for this, mind you; if you’ve been playing online games for over two decades as some gamers have, you can kinda see why the shine of being everybody’s friend 24-7 has worn off.

And then, I hear stories like this one. Game dev @MotleyGrue recently tweeted, “There’s a kid across the road who clearly plays Overwatch with his window open. You can hear him calling strats down the block. Thing is, he’s totally supportive and wholesome. ‘YOU’RE DOING GREAT REIN!’ ‘YO TRACER THAT WAS SIIIICK.’ You go loud kid.”

And I wish I were that kid! I love this kid. I hope my kids grow up to be this kid. It’s such a little thing, being kind and supportive. It costs nothing and makes all the difference in the world.

Do you make an effort to be positive and friendly in MMORPGs?

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