Not So Massively: Dota 2’s $18m main event, Hearthstone’s expansion

    
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This week, third-person MOBA SMITE revealed its new support character Khepri, the ancient Egyptian scarab god. League of Legends pushed its HUD overhaul to the ranked queue and temporarily killed off champion Gangplank with the opening of a new Black Market Brawlers game mode. Heroes of Newerth released the first of its new Paragon avatars designed to raise money for its competitive scene, and Blizzard announced its plans for Heroes of the Storm competitive play at Gamescom next week. With the Dota 2 world championship prize fund hitting $18,000,000 US, the brackets have now been finalised for this week’s main event.

Star Citizen revealed details of this year’s event at Gamescom and fixed a hilarious bug in the FPS module causing items to teleport around its levels. Elite: Dangerous gave players an inside look at the game’s ship damage model and how exactly damage is applied to individual subsystems. Path of Exile gave us a sneak peek at its upcoming patch 2.0.1 content update, and YouTube channel ZiggyDGaming published an updated Path of Exile survival guide. Hearthstone announced a new expansion named The Grand Tournament, and Splatoon is preparing a month packed full of big updates.

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 showed off its latest and largest new character this week with a full lore and gameplay reveal of Khepri, the ancient Egyptian scarab god who was fabled to move the sun underground during the night. In SMITE, Khepri is a giant scarab beetle with abilities that use the power of the sun to damage enemies and control the battlefield. His Solar Flare ability damages and roots enemies in a small area for a few seconds, and Rising Dawn literally rolls the sun through enemies to deal some damage over time and reduce the physical protection of any enemies struck.

Khepri is a strong supportive character, giving off an aura every few seconds that grants him and his allies a small shield. He can also grab an enemy with his Abduct ability and drag him backwards for a few seconds, strategically separating an enemy from his team and allowing your allies to pile on the damage. Khepri’s ultimate ability is Scarab’s Blessing, which removes all crowd control effects from a single selected ally and gives that ally bonus power and movement speed for a few seconds. Allies who die while under the effect of Scarab’s Blessing are instantly teleported to Khepri and revived with a small portion of their maximum health.

League of Legends’ extensive HUD overhaul has been in action on the live servers for two weeks now, and developers have finally pushed it onto the ranked queues. A few improvements were made before the patch, but some players are still so resistant to the change that they’ve been putting together their own HUD mods.

If you’ve been following the Bilgewater storyline, you’ve probably heard the news that champion Gangplank is officially dead. Gangplank’s death in the LoL story has opened up the Black Market Brawlers game mode that sees players fighting over warehouses filled with the late pirate’s plunder. Players earn kraken tokens over time during the game and as rewards for killing other players and enemy jungle monsters, and can spend them to summon and buff special brawler minions. Developers have even temporarily disabled Gangplank in-game as part of the event as he’s supposed to be dead, but he’ll be back after the event.

hon-titlenewHeroes of Newerth has released the first of its Paragon avatars designed to raise money for the new competitive season of HoN Tour. The Emerald Paragon is a skin for popular support hero Empath and can be upgraded to add various cosmetic effects to the character, including a kill counter that appears beneath your feet every time you get a kill. The avatar has been on sale for only a few days and has already raised $6,053 in prize money for the current cycle of the HoN Tour League and $1,513 for the world final grand prize.

heroesofthestormWe all know that Blizzard plans to announce its new World of Warcraft expansion at Gamescom next week in Germany, but Heroes of the Storm will also make an appearance at the event. The company is planning four days packed with competitive gameplay, appearances by the game’s most prominent YouTube stars, and words from the developers. If you aren’t going to be at Gamescom, some of the action will be livestreamed from Thursday, August 6th, to Sunday the 9th. Blizzard is also running a promotion for Heroes of the Storm right up until the end of Wednesday the 5th that promises new players a free pack of in-game goodies for signing up.

With the group stages completed and the two wildcard spots in this year’s Dota 2 world championship tournament being snapped up by CDEC Gaming and MVP Phoenix, the brackets have now been decided for the main event. From today through to Saturday, August 8th, 16 teams will battle it out in a double elimination format for a place in the grand final and a shot at the top prize of $6,460,489 and growing. At the time of writing, the total prize pool is now just shy of the $18 million mark and even the absolute losers in this tournament will walk away with $53,837 in prize money.

If you’re a Star Citizen subscriber and plans to be at Gamescom next week, be sure to drop in on the 2015 Star Citizen event in the late evening on August 7th. For those of you not in attendance, the event’s main presentation will be livestreamed on the official Star Citizen twitch channel. This week’s progress on Star Marine has been explained, with significant progress on the game’s netcode and fixes for hilarious bugs like items teleporting around the levels. The majority of the work still to be done involves improving animations, working on the HUD and other UI elements, and fixing strange bugs like weapon magazines staying in place after reloading.

elitedangerousElite: Dangerous developer Mark Allen delved into the details of how damage is applied to ships in a recent devblog. Those of you who have had your cockpit windscreen shot out will know that the location of weapon hits counts, but you may not know that every internal and external module on your ship has a specific location on the ship. When you target an enemy’s subsystems, your weapons simply lock onto that point rather than the ship’s centre of mass. We also learned that shields take an additional 20% damage from thermal weapons like lasers, but are resistant to kinetic damage and highly resistant to explosive damage. The devblog is a very interesting look into the nuts and bolts of Elite’s damage system.

Path of Exile’s expansion added a ton of new skill gems, unique items, and passive skill tree jewels, so naturally players have come up with some fantastic new character builds. Grinding Gear Games recently highlighted four of the community’s most innovative new builds, including one using the new Ice Crash skill gem and a cheap dual Flame Totem build. We also recently got a look at this week’s 2.0.1 content update for The Awakening, which introduces a series of new Divination Cards to collect, difficult new endgame maps, new enemies added to the Warbands league, and more. Finally, popular Path of Exile channel ZiggyDGaming has released its new and updated survival guide video:

hearthstone

Hearthstone announced its next big expansion this week with the reveal of The Grand Tournament, a new card set themed around a tournament in Northrend dating back to the events of the Wrath of the Lich King era.

splatoonSplatoon‘s first few Splatfest events went off without a hitch, and it looks as if August is going to be a big month for Nintendo’s quirky shooter. Players will soon be able to enter the ranked queue as a group or clan, and players will be able to create private servers with between two and eight players competing in a custom tournament format. August’s update will also increase the level cap from 20 to 50 for Turf War and add the S and S+ ranks to Ranked Battle mode. If that isn’t enough, over 40 new items and weapons will be rolled out over the coming month along with new maps and a whole new game mode called Rainmaker.

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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That video is now old(ish) for Path.  They released a new one with 4 builds today.