Without a doubt, one of the most vivacious and well-loved personalities at Blizzard Entertainment has been Ben Brode. The Hearthstone
game director injected a lot of his fun-loving personality into all of the videos and appearances that he did, which is why it’s going to crush many to hear that he has decided to leave the studio
after 15 years.
“I have made the incredibly difficult decision to embark on a new journey,” he announced on the forums. “Man, that was a hard sentence to type.”
Brode had spent a decade working on Hearthstone, and in his farewell letter, he states his pride in both the game and the team. “I have loved the silly memes, engaging in spirited debates, or even just being held accountable to our shared high standards for the game. We try to be highly available on social media, and I think our team helped push the envelope in this regard,” he said.
So what’s next for Brode? He’s helping to start a new company that will “probably make games.”
When a new expansion arrives in Hearthstone
, there will be balance issues. That’s almost inevitable; you know it’s going to happen, it’s part of the nature of the beast. What seems a little bit unusual is the fact that this particular card is causing balance issues simply due to animation locks
. The legendary Shaman card Shudderwock is causing problems due to the nature of its special abilities, which replays every single Battlecry effect on your side of the board through the whole game.
This is obviously powerful, but this can also wind up cycling through an extensive and long animation cycle that ultimately leaves your opponent unable to actually play, which is clearly not an intended function of the card. The functionality will be revisited next week, so hopefully players will not long have to suffer a strategy of winning via animation locks. There’s a charming meta nature to it, but it still feels cheap.
Are you surprised to be hearing about Bossland again? We’re surprised to be reporting on it. The German-based botmaker made headlines for the last few years thanks to ongoing litigation provoked by its sale of cheat, bot, and hack programs for multiple Blizzard games. Blizzard had pursued Bossland across multiple continents in an attempt to shut down the cheat programs, which Blizz argued violated its copyrights and cost it significant amounts of money to fight – money it was therefore not spending on its own games and customers. The drama finally culminated in 2017 with victories for Blizzard in a German Supreme Court ruling and a California federal court case that awarded Blizzard $8.5M in damages.
Though the German courts recently ruled not to enforce the US court’s decision (on the grounds that it considered the minimum statutory damages awarded to be excessive and punitive), Bossland ended sales for almost all of its hacks at the end of last year; as of today, the only ones remaining are for non-Blizzard games, specifically Final Fantasy XIV and Path of Exile, though according to the group’s latest newsletter, there’s a PUBG one tucked on the forums too.
While the existence of a mobile game set in the EVE Online
universe isn’t a secret at this point — having been revealed all the way back at EVE Vegas
last October — the name of the project was. Now the veil has been lifted, and what was once simply known as “Project Aurora” has been revealed to be EVE: War of Ascension
CCP is developing the game in conjunction with Kongregate and PlayRaven with the intention of releasing it to iOS and Android devices later in 2018.
EVE: War of Ascension isn’t linked to the main MMO but will lift its aesthetics and themes. Players will mostly focus on social alliances and conflicts using the game’s strategic, hex-structured board. If you’re the type of player who loves helping his or her corporation fight, climb, and backstab to the top, this might be ideal for you.
The reveal of the mobile title’s name does leave one tantalizing piece of info dangling. Apparently CCP filed a trademark for something called Project Foundation, which some players had previously thought would be the name of the mobile game. Now, all bets are off as to what this may be.
The next Hearthstone
expansion approaches very quickly. It’s arriving tomorrow, as a point of fact. Of course, the patch for the 135-card expansion is taking place today
, so you’ll be all patched and ready when the cards are actually usable. This also means that you should make sure to do any pre-purchasing today rather than tomorrow, since the associated pre-purchase goodies fade away at midnight.
Along with the Witchwood expansion, tomorrow kicks off the Year of the Raven, rotating the cards available for play in standard formats. It also brings in a new Druid hero, updates to the game’s daily quests, and a number of new card backs that you can earn for various challenges. So you still have to wait just a little bit longer to really get in on the card-slinging fun, but at least you won’t have to wait for a patch tomorrow.
Blizzard fans, this year’s BlizzCon has a date, and that day is November 2nd and 3rd, almost three months after the launch of World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth, meaning you won’t even be missing much grinding time to attend, and you can count on lots of post-mortemy-type panels rather than endless teasers. On the other hand? E-sports, e-sports, e-sports.
“This year’s event will again commence with the esports action of BlizzCon Opening Week, taking place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles from October 25 to 29, where the initial rounds of the StarCraft II World Championship Series Global Finals, the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals, and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship Finals will unfold. The competitions will culminate in Anaheim on November 2 and 3, where the champions of these tournaments along with those of the Overwatch World Cup and Hearthstone Global Games will be crowned.”
Last year’s event was sold out, so if you’re aiming to go, jot down these even more important dates: May 9th and 12th, when tickets will go on sale.
Is it Halloween already? In Hearthstone
, it might as well be, as Blizzard is about to unleash the game’s creepiest expansion to date in just a week.
The Witchwood is coming out on April 12th, bringing players to the haunted realm of Gilneas, where a nearby witch has cursed the city with all sorts of doom and gloom. The expansion set is to be the first of three that Blizzard will roll out this year and includes 135 new cards, the “echo” card mechanic, and a new solo dungeon run called Monster Hunt.
Don’t forget to log into Hearthstone next week when the expansion launches to get three free card packs. Get caught up on The Witchwood with our extensive GDC preview and the cinematic trailer!
Fortnite isn’t just a hit for Epic: It’s a hit for the whole industry. That’s according to SuperData’s latest report, which ranks PC, console, and mobile games according to their global revenues in the month of February.
“Fortnite Battle Royale’s dominance in the Free-to-play Console segment drives the segment’s 359% year-over-year growth,” says the analytics firm. “Epic’s Battle Royale title showed no signs of losing steam. Fortnite earned more additional content revenue on console than any game other than Call of Duty: WWII and now has more monthly active users than Grand Theft Auto V.”
Pay-to-play MMOs shrank again this month, continuing the trend identified in previous months. On the PC side, Crossfire and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II switched places, and Hearthstone rejoined the list to bump off Overwatch, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same list as last week, with World of Warcraft hanging in there at #7.
One of the best reasons to follow Hearthstone
is that the devs are willing to do try about anything, including a seven-minute Blair Witch video
talking about video game cards. Blizzard Senior Designer Peter Whalen’s Hearthside Chat this week dives into some of the other wacky things the team came up with while brainstorming the upcoming Witchwood expansion, including one of its earliest concepts, when it was still called Murder on the Gilnean Express. Choo choo.
That version of the expansion would’ve had some fun card mechanics, like investigations, mysteries, and ghostly switchups and replications. Of course, that theme, and some of those cards, were lost along the winding roads of development, but the “Ghostly” concept survived: as Echo cards.
Massively OP’s Andrew Ross sat down with the Blizzard devs at GDC earlier this week to hear all about the work behind the expansion, so don’t miss that before clicking onward for the vid.
Even if your knees are too weak to think about venturing into Hearthstone’s
expansion, you might want to venture out of your hidey-hole to snag the many free card packs that Blizzard is handing out.
Starting on March 27th and continuing through April 10th, you will be able to secure a free card pack every day for completing a daily quest. This will add up to 16 free packs in total if you’re diligent about doing them! The studio is also handing out three free packs to anyone who wins a match in this week’s Tavern Brawl in honor of StarCraft’s 20th anniversary.
Blizzard posted its full Witchwood card reveal schedule for 55 cards from the expansion. The reveals start on March 27th.
Massively OP is at GDC 2018 this year, and like Hearthstone
, we’re kicking things off with a bang: with monster hunting! No, not the dino-esque kind
Matt and I have been doing, but the kind Gilneas are doing in HS
‘s upcoming expansion, The Witchwood
. I got to sit down and talk with Lead Mission Designer Dave Kosak and Associate Designer Dean Ayala about the new expansion, RNG, and more.
What the Witchwood brings
First, the best part: Just logging in after Witchwood launches grants you not only three free packs, but a random legendary card as well. In fact, we’ve seen a few new cards and card mechanics in the past week or so. The Rush mechanic, essentially Charge without letting creatures attack players on their first turn, isn’t exactly new, and I was told it wouldn’t be retroactively added to any cards, including the warrior move “Charge,” which essentially just adds Rush to a creature. Echo is kind of cool, allowing the player to cast an Echo card as many times as they can afford that turn. And then there are the Worgen cards, which switch their attack and HP each turn add some flexibility to your decks depending on what you need. The latter two feel more interesting for an old CCG fan like yours truly since those are the kinds of things that are hard to do in a physical CCG.
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.
Speculate no more: Blizzard
just announced Hearthstone’s
next expansion right smack on Twitter. It’s called The Witchwood
, and it launches in April.
“Be warned, the footage you are about to watch may fill you with fright and leave you with a sense of joy,” the devs tweeted a few minutes ago. “It was recovered from the last known location of three developers who were designing the latest Hearthstone expansion.” Yes, a Blair Witch Project-esque shakycam video is on order, and as always, you should watch the trailer-within-the-trailer part even if you don’t care for Hearthstone because it’s just that good, especially for the twist, which any good World of Warcraft player familiar with the Worgen will see coming. Also it’s worth it to see the devs maintain their conceit for a full seven minutes of card descriptions. Enjoy!