Betawatch: April 24th, 2015

Rather than languishing in beta for all eternity, Heroes of the Storm is launching on June 2nd! Sure, there will be no further wipes and the game goes into open testing on May 19th, but that’s not the same as launching. Why? I’m glad you asked!

Here are other testing news stories.

Oh, hey, we never did explain how an open test with no wipes and a cash shop is different from launch, did we? Check out our full testing list just past the break!

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Echo of Soul offers several different flavors of founder’s packs

So Echo of Soul is an upcoming free-to-play title. You probably already knew that it was going to feature founder packs which include instant access to the beta, because of course it would. But did you think it would feature a variety of different styles of founder’s pack based on what you want out of the packs? Quite possibly not!

While there are several games that offer tiered founder’s packs, aside from the base “starter pack” pegged at $20 each of the different Echo of Soul packs offers different items not found in the other packs at the unified $50 price point. It’s up to you whether you consider this a nice opportunity to only buy the features that you want for $50 or a cynical cash grab forcing you to drop $150 for all three if you want all the items. Heck, it could even be both.

[Source: Echo of Soul Founder’s Packs; thanks to Dystopiq and Kyle for the tip!]


Cabal 2 video focuses on plate classes

ESTsoft has released a new Cabal 2 video that focuses on the free-to-play fantasy MMO’s plate classes. The Force Shielder is a prototypical tank, sporting heavy armor and wielding both a sword and a shield.

The Warrior is a high-damage class that boasts a slow attack speed in comparison to the Force Shielder but will nonetheless inflict “serious pain” on the enemy. The 13-minute video features plenty of gameplay footage as well as advice related to abilities and rotations. You can view it after the cut.

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The Secret World’s Issue 11 is launching on May 6

The Secret World’s Issue 11 content now has a release date. Lead designer Romain Amiel tweeted the news this afternoon, so mark your calendars if you’re a fan of Funcom’s horror-conspiracy MMO.

Issue 11 drops on May 6th and it’s slated to conclude the game’s Tokyo-centric story arc. It will also allow players to explore the huge Orochi headquarters in the middle of the city.

[Source: Twitter; thanks Vikaernes!]


ArenaNet is hosting a Guild Wars 10th anniversary contest

Do you fancy yourself a Guild Wars expert? If so, you should enter ArenaNet’s new Guild Wars 10th anniversary contest. There are 10 questions that need answering, and 10 winners will be randomly drawn from the pool of people who submit correct answers to said questions.

ArenaNet hasn’t spelled out the prizes in detail, but a quick scan of the contest rules reveals that “each winner will receive a piece of Guild Wars swag such as a t-shirt or pin, not to exceed $25 USD each.”

[Source: Announcement, Trivia questions]


French MMO DOFUS heads to tablets and the big screen

You might think a game launched in 2004 not named World of Warcraft might be curbing its ambition here in 2015, but if you’re talking about French MMO DOFUS, you’d be mighty wrong. Ankama and Wizcorp this week announced that the game is due for a tablet version with a refreshed mobile UI. The downside is that it won’t be “synchronized with the desktop and streaming version, available on dedicated servers,” meaning tablet players will be starting fresh.

Desktop players have a new update of their own to look forward to; Raiders of the Temples of the Twelve launched this week and infested the game with brand-new bounty monsters.

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Crowfall reaches its graphics programmer stretch goal

Like many big crowdfunded projects, Crowfall didn’t stop reaching for stretch goals just because the game’s main Kickstarter project ended. The project has hit its first post-Kickstarter stretch goal this week, so the team will be hiring a dedicated graphics programmer to make the game extra-flashy and satisfying to play.

Players will also be able to take advantage of backer badges on the game’s official forums from this point onward, with different designs available for those who pledged during the Kickstarter campaign and those who jumped on board afterward. The next stretch goal for the title is localization in several languages, and after that… well, there’s a video just below that outlines what comes next.

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The Crew publishes ‘Raid Live’ update video

Ubisoft has announced that a new update and new car DLC for its racing game The Crew are now live. The Raid Car Pack, “the last of four themed packs,” comes with exclusive cosmetic bits, livery, and three new cars: the 2012 Cadillac Escalade, the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg NF, and the McLaren F1. Vroom.

Don’t want to buy DLC? You’ll still get something out of today’s update in the form of some new freebie turning specs and faction missions:

Four new faction missions are now available for all players, free of charge, with the Raid Live Update. Smash crates in Treasure Hunt, go back to America’s prehistoric past in Jurassic Raid, saddle up for a roller-coaster of a dirt race in the Black Hills and race against the clock in the harsh conditions of Let It Snow.

We’ve got the DLC’s new trailer below! More vroom!

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GTA Online: All the open world feels, none of the MMO grind

Any minute now I’m going to log out of Grand Theft Auto Online so I can finish this not-a-review. Seriously, I’ve played this game for, oh, 65 hours since it launched on the PC last week? At least that’s what Steam says. I’m not sure I believe it, though, because it feels like five minutes, and the few times that I’ve managed to log off and go outside have been sweet, sweet sorrow.

Say what you will about Rockstar’s fondness for smutty protagonists and its penchant for dialogue that would make Joe Pesci blush, but no company does action sandbox gameplay better than these guys. And hey, most of the really objectionable content lurks in GTA V’s story-driven single-player campaign, which leaves GTAO as a sort of virtual playground for adults, the likes of which most modern-day MMOs can only dream of providing.

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Bungie reveals the Reef and more for Destiny’s House of Wolves

House of Wolves is the next big update for Destiny, and the team at Bungie is ready to start revealing what it’s all about. Said reveals have already started, in fact, with a video tour of the Reef available below. There’s discussion of your new primary story agent, new factional gear, and reforging new Crucible and Vanguard gear for different perk sets. And another reveal is coming up soon, with a reveal of the Trials of Osiris slated for April 29th at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

With all of these changes, players have wondered what’s going on with commendations, and the answer is simple: They’re going away. Players who already have a stack of them can use them for reputation gains, but they’re getting removed as part of the upgrade path. You can check out more extra details about the update in the most recent community news, or you can just jump on down to the video below.

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Neverwinter’s new lead designer takes a ‘hard look’ at Elemental Evil

Neverwinter‘s Elemental Evil update had some issues that extend beyond some ill-distributed reward codes. A letter to the community from new lead designer Scott Shicoff outright says that mistakes were made; the design team’s goal is to take a hard look at the update and determine what was done well and what needs improvement. This includes experience gains, overall difficulty, hourly quests, invocation, zone re-use, removed dungeons… the list goes on.

Shicoff stresses that he’s still investigating the issues and determining an action plan, but the game’s next weekly update will start out by reducing the experience gained in the campaign areas of the last update, Tyranny of Dragons, so that it’s more in line with other areas. The letter ends with an apology and a request for more player feedback; while it’s obviously not an update that everyone at Cryptic is content and happy with, the team wants to fix mistakes as efficiently as possible.

[Source: Looking into Elemental Evil]


Warcraft movie delayed once again

If you were making plans to head to theaters in March of next year to see the Warcraft film as soon as it opened, your plans were apparently rather premature. Not just because that’s 11 months away, but because the film has been delayed again by three months. It’s now slated to come out in June of 2016.

This is the film’s second delay, with the first delay pushing it back from a December release to avoid competing with some film or another called Star Wars. No word on whether this latest delay is to avoid another film or just because more time is needed in post-production; it’s possible everyone just really liked the marketing phrase “summer of Azeroth.”

[Source: Blizzard Watch]


The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best hybrid classes?

I didn’t know hybrid classes were a thing, really, until I picked up classic EverQuest way back in 1999. Most of the roleplaying games I’d played until that point, including pioneering sandbox MMO Ultima Online, were skill-based, and so I more or less picked skills that I liked without worrying about hybrid penalties. (In classic UO, pretty much everyone was a mage, after all!) EQ introduced me to those stock Dungeons and Dragons concepts, however, and the majority of subsequent MMORPGs have clung to classes to make life easy on the designers tasked with balancing player power.

Hybrid penalties or no, a lot of people really still love the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades, of having a variety of skills and playstyles all on one character, and penalizing players for picking non-pure roles has long fallen out of fashion. Skill-based sandboxes, of course, still allow players to pick up swords alongside their shovels, but themeparks like RIFT and Skyforge and Final Fantasy XIV also let you swap around your subclasses so much that pretty much everyone in the game is a hybrid.

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