Not So Massively: HoN’s fifth anniversary update; Dota 2 rakes in millions of dollars

    
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Heroes of Newerth received a colossal patch this week to celebrate its fifth anniversary, introducing a new intelligence carry hero, a capture the flag game mode, dozens of events and countless balance changes and improvements. League of Legends revisited two of its oldest champions with a full redesign of Ashe in the works and the recent Ryze overhaul being rolled into Patch 5.8. Upcoming MOBA Sins of a Dark Age got a confirmed free-to-play release date of May 8th following over a year in Early Access. Details of Path of Exile‘s new Divination Card system coming in its upcoming expansion were revealed.

Dota 2‘s digital compendium for the upcoming world championship tournament has raked in almost $14 million US in its first few days on sale, and Valve is prepared for it to gross as much as $53.6 million. Star Citizen hit $81.14 million in pre-sales after answering fans’ questions on the recently revealed MISC ship hull series. And Jagex‘s new online FPS Block N Load has now released and is being described by fans as “Minecraft meets Team Fortress 2.”

Read on for detailed breakdowns of all the above stories and links to more news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively.

 

leagueoflegendsIt’s been several years since League of Legends first released, and many of its older champions have really lost their lustre. Newer champions that fulfill the same roles have been created with more interesting gameplay and better visuals, causing players to universally ignore some classic characters. Riot Games periodically overhauls old champions with complete ability reworks, and this week it’s Ashe and Ryze that are on the chopping block.

The revamped version of Ashe is now heading to the public beta testing environment, while Ryze’s improvements were rolled into Patch 5.8. The patch also comes with balance tweaks and texture improvements for several other champions, better build paths for items like the Black Cleaver and Recurve Bow, and some great new Quick Cast features. This massive update also buffs minions and tower damage on the Howling Abyss map, and similar improvements for Twisted Treeline and Crystal Scar.

hon-titlenewIf you thought S2 Games had abandoned Heroes of Newerth in favour of its new MOBA Strife, be sure to check out this year’s massive fifth anniversary update. The colossal patch adds not just a new hero with its own introduction comic but also a whole new capture the flag game mode, major balance changes to 8 key heroes, and a huge series of events. Several items have been buffed, and a new item called Merrick’s Bounty will help roaming gankers and support stay out of lane for longer without losing out on gold farming time. The item charges up while you’re out of combat and then consumes the charges to grant you gold on your next creep kill.

The patch also comes with four major gameplay changes that are sure to shake things up for existing players. Smartcasting is now available for all ground-targetted spells, with quick self-cast due to be added in a future patch. Anyone with access to multiple units (either through summoning, hero abilities or items like the Helm of Domination) can now set those units on automatic and an AI will take control of them, following you around and duplicating all of your commands.

A new automated Leaver Strike system will give players escalating matchmaking bans based on how frequently they abandon games early. Strikes expire after ten days and the first strike against any player isn’t met with any punishment. Finally, players above 1800 MMR who have played less than 5 games in any 10-day period will now lose 1% of their MMR per day as part of a new MMR decay system, but the top 100 players each month will earn a unique name colour.

Grinding Gear Games published a lengthy devblog this week detailing the Divination Card gameplay in Path of Exile‘s upcoming expansion, The Awakening. Divination Cards are a new type of item that drop from Act 4 monsters, and each one is part of a set based on a particular item. Once you collect an entire set of cards, you can turn them into an NPC named Tasuni in Act 4 in exchange for the item named on the cards.

The cards will be designed by players as part of their rewards for purchasing support packs for the expansion. Path of Exile‘s Russia/CIS server has also now officially entered open beta, and Russian players can expect the Act 4 expansion to be released to them later this year.

sinsofadarkageUpcoming MOBA Sins of a Dark Age has been in development for a number of years and has now been in Steam’s Early Access programme for just over a year. This week developer Ironclad Games announced that the game will be officially launching as a free to play title on May 8th. As the Early Access had a small purchase price acting as a barrier to entry, the game’s free to play release is sure to cause an influx of fresh blood to check out a new take on the classic MOBA formula.

With the recent reveal of Star Citizen‘s MISC A to E hull series designed for hauling and industrial gameplay, players had a lot of follow-up questions to ask. So many in fact that Cloud Imperium decided to release separate Q&A articles on each of the five hulls all throughout this week. Developers revealed that all five hulls will come with built-in jump drives, that the larger hulls will have walkways or Jeffrey’s Tubes like ships on Star Trek, and that the extendable spindles on the MISC series hulls will be able to attach to any ship module that fits. At the time of writing, pre-orders of the ships have now bumped Star Citizen‘s pre-sales up to $81.2 million US.

The Dota 2 compendium for the upcoming world championship tournament, The International, went on sale this week and it’s already raised around $16 million US. The digital compendium grants Dota 2 players exclusive skins, cosmetic skill effects, coin boosts, and bonus item drops while spectating the tournament’s matches. A total of 25% of each sale goes directly into the tournament’s prize fund, with additional items and rewards unlocking for all owners as the fund hits various tiers.

The compendium has only been on sale for a few days and the prize pool has already reached around $5 million US, with stretch goals all the way up to $15 million marked out in advance. Since the pot started at $1.6 million, the compendium will have raked in $53.6 million US if it reaches its final goal. Part of the reason for this year’s huge influx of cash is that Valve is allowing players to buy points with which to level up their compendiums. Reception to the idea has been mixed, with some pointing out that you can still level it up by completing compendium challenges and others asking for more ways to earn points without paying cash.

Gameplay Update 6.84 also went live this week with significant changes to how gold is distributed after a kill, balance changes to practically every single hero in the game, and a full balance sweep on items. Lane creeps will now give around 7-8% less gold, while players will give an additional 10% and more of the gold from player kills will be distributed to nearby players rather than whoever got the last hit. AoE bonus gold is also now modified by up to 20% based on the relative power of the killed player to his teammates. Check out the axhaustive patch notes for the full details.

blocknloadWhat happens when you mix the creative building and destruction of Minecraft with the frantic team deathmatch action of Team Fortress 2? You get Block N Load, a new online game from RuneScape creator Jagex and Artplant that challenges players to build the ultimate base brick by brick and then defend it against the enemy team. You can tunnel under the ground to enter the enemy base, catapult yourself toward them, or just charge straight in the front door and hope there aren’t any carefully placed traps under your feet. The game launched this week on Steam and costs $15 US.

inothernews

Every week, Brendan Drain scours the net to bring you all the latest news from from the world of MOBAs, lobby-based games, and other online multiplayer games that aren’t quite MMOs in Not So Massively. If there’s anything you want to see covered here, post a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com to let him know!

 

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Esivo
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Esivo

Grey Goo is a RTS from what I know, not a FPS.

MikedotFoster
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MikedotFoster

AdeptusEnginus MikedotFoster The huge difference this year is that it’s extremely difficult to level up by playing games. The primary method for leveling the compendium this time around is just spending more money.

AdeptusEnginus
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AdeptusEnginus

MikedotFoster What’s different about it this year from last year? I bought in late last year and didn’t really get a chance to do much with it, but to my understanding it’s following the same setup it did last year, just with a higher max level range.

MikedotFoster
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MikedotFoster

I love Dota and spent quite a bit of money on last year’s compendium, but I’m not really liking the way it’s implemented this year. The cash-grab element of it is much more brazen and the rewards don’t seems as interesting. I’ll probably buy the base thing because I like supporting the International (plus I’m going this year!), but beyond that I’m keeping my wallet close.

MikedotFoster
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MikedotFoster

Ventreel Valve’s new series of Dota championships is designed to slow the rotations down. Also to sell compendiums four times a  year.

Ventreel
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Ventreel

Dota’s main event prizepools are becoming so unbelievably high. I’m normally against iron grip style of management that Riot does with LoL pro scene but I hope that Valve can add transfer window thingy fast enough. The amount of rotations in Dota teams is ridiculous, there is a lot of infantile people running it and raising constant feuds.

Dezmo
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Dezmo

Wow too many MOBAs

Damonvile
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Damonvile

I wonder how many cards there will be, It kind of smells like a fill your inventory space with crap system in a game that sells bag space….but… collecting cards to get rewards also sounds like something I’d like doing :/