Not So Massively: Heroes of the Storm launches, Infinite Crisis gives up

    
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It’s been a week of mixed feelings in the land of MOBAs, with the thrill of a new game launch juxtaposed against the background of another’s impending closure. Heroes of the Storm officially launched with a series of events and celebrated with the release of new tank hero Johanna from Diablo III. Turbine announced that its DC Comics based MOBA Infinite Crisis will be officially shutting its doors on August 14th, just a few short months after launch. SMITE‘s furry little squirrel god Ratatoskr officially made his way out of the test server and into the wild, and Dota 2‘s compendium reached $12.5 million as players pump hundreds of dollars into it in attempts to win rare cosmetic skins.

League of Legends revealed plans to overhaul its user interface and revamp the skillshot code to eliminate hitbox bugs, and LoL commentator Martin “Deficio” Lynge was suspended pending an investigation of his deep connections with a pro team. Destiny increased the drop rate of Treasure Keys in patch 1.2.0.2 and fixed an exploit players were using to loot Ether Chests multiple times. And Path of Exile revealed that several new low-level unique items will be coming out with its upcoming expansion, The Awakening.

Read on for detailed breakdowns of the stories above and other news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively, and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed for weekly updates!

SMITE’s previously revealed character Ratatoskr has now officially released following a short stay on the public test realm. Ratatoskyr is a giant squirrel who focuses on rapid movement, area-effect physical damage, and looking adorable. His powers are augmented by a unique Acorn item that can be upgraded through the item store to add slows, bonus damage, a self-heal, and other abilities. A new God Reveal video delves into the furry character’s roots in Norse lore and explores each of his abilities.

Path of Exile teased players with a screenshot of a new encounter that can spring up in the Act Four area of its expansion beta. While the expansion includes a ton of new high-level items and enemies, developers also revealed that they won’t be ignoring its early levels or the levelling process. At least eight new unique one-handed weapons below level 40 will be added in the expansion, and developers will also be looking at the balance between caster and melee builds.

Dota 2‘s upcoming fifth world championship tournament is set to be the biggest one yet, with the biggest prize pool for a single event in e-sports history. Sales of the Dota 2 compendium and related microtransactions have pushed the event’s prize pool up to $12.5 million, meaning Valve has grossed over $43 million with this promotion so far.

The gambling-like nature of the compendium has been highlighted recently as several players revealed that they had spent hundreds of dollars to boost their compendiums by thousands of levels and still hadn’t unlocked some of the rare skins available.

leagueoflegendsLeague of Legends has overhauled practically every part of the game since its original release, and now it’s time for the user interface to get some love. Riot is about to push an extensive HUD update to the public beta server that it hopes will improve the tactical nature of the game. The redesigned UI puts vital information all in one place around the minimap, but players discovered that ult timers have been removed and it’s not possible to see teammate’s mana bar. Riot is also currently working on revamping the skillshot code to fix a number of rare bugs.

Following her recent overhail, champion Ashe has returned to competitive play and is now a viable champion according to professional players. Cloud9’s Sneaky believes that “Ashe with just Infinity Edge knows when she can win a duel,” while CLG’s Doublelift described the champion’s Hawkshot ability as “basically a maphack.” Elsewhere in the competitive scene, commentator Martin “Deficio” Lynge was suspended pending an investigation of his close ties with professional team Copenhagen Wolves. That’s not the only prominent staff change at Riot this week as fantasy writer Graham McNeill was hired as the game’s Senior Narrative Writer.

This week we heard the unfortunate news that DC Comics MOBA Infinite Crisis will be shutting down in just a few weeks. The game was first announced over two years ago at the end of March 2013 as a partnership between developer Turbine and publisher Warner Bros. Just a few days ago, Turbine made the decision to end development on the title immediately and to close the servers on August 14th. Developers expressed their disappointment with how the game turned out, saying that “the MOBA market matured around [Turbine as it was] building the game” and that the studio “simply couldn’t find enough of an audience.”

Though Infinite Crisis officially launched at the end of March, it had been in open beta for a full year and the size of the community had been dwindling for some time. The title now joins flopped Warner Bros. console MOBA Guardians of Middle Earth, which failed to gain an audience and slowly faded into obscurity before launching a broken PC version on Steam in 2013. Infinite Crisis will become unplayable on August 14th, while GoME no longer even has 10 players online worldwide at any given time to make a full match.

News of the closure has prompted much discussion in the Infinite Crisis community, with players hashing out the game’s shortcomings and wondering whether anything could have saved it from extinction. MassivelyOP’s Eliot Lefebvre also shared his thoughts on the shutdown and what it means for the games industry and the MOBA genre. If you enjoyed Infinite Crisis and want to give it a proper send-off, player Dycer has organised a final event schedule to make the most of the remaining time.

heroesofthestormHeroes of the Storm officially launched this week with a grand event in London followed by livestreaming shenanigans for those of us at home. In addition to the previously announced week-long XP boost and twitch dev streams, Blizzard is also celebrating with a fanart competition on DeviantArt and bonus rewards for anyone who plays World of Warcraft or Hearthstone.

The launch update also saw the release of new hero Johanna, a Crusader from Diablo III with a focus on decensive abilities. She can gain temporary damage shield with her Iron Skin ability while becoming immune to slows for a few seconds, and her Punish ability can damage and slow enemies with a swipe of her massive shield. Johanna’s other abilities include an area-effect stun called Condemn that pulls enemies toward her, and a blinding Shield Glare ability that causes enemy basic attacks to miss.

destinyDestiny‘s Patch 1.2.0.2 went live this week, addressing dozens of issues players were having with the House of Wolves expansion. In response to complaints of low drop rates for Treasure Keys, Bungie has greatly increased the drop rate from chests across the expansion. You’ll also get one guaranteed key on completing your first Wanted Fallen Bounty each week, and players can dismantle their spare Passage Coins and Tokens. An exploit that allowed players to loot Ether Chests multiple times has been fixed, and a number of other bugs have been resolved.

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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MetaDune
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MetaDune

schmidtcapela Yea tried so many moba and while HOTS is the best one I can tolerate (no annoying item system) its still a moba in the end. Wish they add some PvE to it too

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Heroes of The Storm had me intrigued, I even tried it despite not liking the MOBA genre as a whole.

Still can’t enjoy it, but should Blizzard ever release a proper single player mode for that game (and allow solo players to actually progress), I’m very likely to spend a fair bit on heroes. I almost purchased The Lost Vikings for nostalgia’s sake alone.

Scrambled0
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Scrambled0

All my friends are the exact opposite. Every single one of them was skeptical, myself included. And after a week it’s quickly become our most played online game.

Skyewauker
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Skyewauker

Greaterdivinity Sorenthaz I think they did the right thing suspending him.  They absolutely did the wrong thing by banning him from signing with any team for 2016.  Thats petty and thats riot pretty much ruining the guy.  They know he is a good caster, probably their best, so they go the petty route.  Its sad that Riot is doing something like that.

Skyewauker
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Skyewauker

Sorenthaz This is normal.  Most organizations have to give you permission first.  In the NFL and NBA you can get tampering charges if you talk to potential free agents before the offseason arrives.

Dope_Danny
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Dope_Danny

HotS wasnt my thing but i honestly expected my “blizzard can do no wrong, let me buy all the helms and mounts” friends to go apeshit for it based on the ip alone and after a couple of days? not a single one is playing it anymore. They all went “£15 for characters, i buy my games thanks”. Which after all the mounts in WoW surprised me, let alone that they last days.

But i guess you played one moba you played em all.

Oleg Chebeneev
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Oleg Chebeneev

What makes company work so hard to release game then close it just few months after release?

MorpayneRADIO
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MorpayneRADIO

Greaterdivinity
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Greaterdivinity

Damonvile Possibly. I mean, WAR was around for a while waiting for the license to expire.
Honestly, given what’s happened with DDO/LOTRO and other licensed games, I’m willing to bet that WB/Turbine negotiated a flexible license that allowed them to can the game if it was performing poorly. A poorly performing licensed game reflects back upon the IP it’s based off of, so DC probably wasn’t pleased with the small amount of revenue it was bringing in compared to how it simply languishing in relative obscurity was doing their brand no favors : /

Damonvile
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Damonvile

Greaterdivinity web2nr that or the licence was about to come up again and they just didn’t want to renew it because of the poor performance.  That’s generally why these big IPs don’t go into maintenance mode and shut down. Big fees need big revenue to stay active.