overwatch

Official Site: Overwatch
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: May 24, 2016
Genre: Team-Based OFPS
Business Model: B2P
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Blizzard eyes mobile development, player-created content, and faster updates for the future

When you think mobile gaming, chances are that super-casual (and extremely cheap) titles come to mind. Blizzard might be looking to change that stereotype, as its execs are publicly mulling over future mobile development with deeper, more serious titles.

In an interview with Venture Beat, President Michael Morhaime, Senior Vice President Frank Pearce, and Senior Vice President Chris Metzen hinted at some of the paths that the studio might take in its upcoming titles. The execs said that “conscious evaluation” was being given to bringing deeper titles like StarCraft to mobile platforms.

“I feel like there’s still a big opportunity in mobile beyond just casual games,” Morhaime stated. “I’m not sure we’ve figured out what that is yet.”

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Massively OP’s sneak peek of Atlas Reactor, Trion’s turn-based strategy MOBA

I first experienced Atlas Reactor just before Trion made its big announcement at the PAX Prime party last summer. At the time, I didn’t really know what to think of it. First, it’s clearly set in some futuristic timeline, but then it has come fantasy elements like gremlins and cat-people. I’m on board with that. I’m frankly tired of high fantasy. The characters, which Trion calls Freelancers, are similar to what we find in League of Legends or maybe closer to the upcoming Blizzard shooter Overwatch.

So far, so typical, except it’s turn-based. What? Yes, turn-based. I was thrown, too.

Senior Producer James Karras and Lead Designer William Cook called us up to talk about how Altas Reactor works and what makes it stand out, and then they demonstrated a few rounds of the game over a private livestream. One thing I’m sure of is that Atlas Reactor is an interesting concept definitely worth a second look.

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Betawatch: Gigantic’s developer undergoes further layoffs (February 12th, 2016)

This week has brought some pretty terrible news for fans of Gigantic, as developer Motiga has had to lay off a significant portion of the development staff due to a lack of funds. The studio claims that it’s aggressively negotiating for more capital, with the intent being to rehire those laid off, but only time will tell if this plan comes to fruition.

Depressing, huh? Yeah, let’s move on to other beta news from the past week.

That was a wild tour, but there’s still a full list on down below if you’d like to check that out. Did something slip into a new testing state whilst we were paying attention to other things? Well, please let us know in the comments, then.

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WoW sees ‘growth’ in Q4 2015; Legion still on track for summer

ActivisionBlizzard has posted its Q4 2015 financial report, touting record digital revenues up 20% year over year, thanks in part to game exports to Chinese audiences, but revenues were down quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. CEO Bobby Kotick says that once the company’s acquisition of King Digital is complete — and isn’t yet, so it’s not reflected here — “[Activision] will have the largest game network in the world, with over 500 million users playing [its] games every month.”

According to the investor call, 2015 was the first year more than 50% of Blizzard’s revenue was derived from sources other than World of Warcraft. Mike Morhaime told investors that WoW saw quarter-over-quarter growth for the game following last fall’s BlizzCon. It is unclear how growth is defined in this context.

We aren’t hearing hard numbers on a World of Warcraft subscriber bump or dip today, thanks to Blizzard’s decision that Q3 2015 was to be “the last quarter [it planned] to provide subscriber numbers” because of other metrics (like “engagement” metrics) that it claims are “better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance.” The game dropped 100k subs in Q3 2015, 1.5 million subs in Q2 2015, and 2.9 million subs in Q1 2015 following the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion in November 2014. At last known count, it stood at 5.5 million subs, down from its 2010 peak of 12 million.

The Legion expansion is still expected to launch this summer following the franchise’s movie.

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Overwatch’s beta revs back up next week

It’s been a long while since fans have been able to duke it out in Overwatch’s beta. The game’s test went offline on December 10th and remained steadfastly so throughout the holidays and first month of the year. After a restart delay that led into February, Overwatch will resume its beta testing on February 9th in North America and Europe.

This round of testing will feature an improved build that contains a fresh progression system, two additional maps, a new game mode, tweaks to hero balance, and private game updates.

Previous testers can jump right back into the game as if the last two months hadn’t happened, and Blizzard hinted that it would be expanding its testing pool soon. The beta will commence for Asia on February 16th.

Source: Overwatch

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Endemic cheating in CS:GO prompts record number of bans

In every competitive online game, there will always be people who are willing to cheat to get an advantage over other players and companies willing to develop those cheats for a profit. Developer Valve has waged a constant war against cheaters in its first person shooters since the days of Half-Life 1, using its regularly updated VAC (Valve Anti Cheat) system to detect hacks and ban those using them. A constant arms race has developed between the companies developing undetectable hacks and the efforts of Valve to detect them, and it seems that this war is seriously heating up right now in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Players are reporting that they’ve been running into cheaters at an alarming rate in recent months. Website VAC-Bans.com has reported a sharp rise in VAC bans over the period, with just over 9,000 players getting banned in December and almost 12,000 accounts already banned in January. As this number includes only cheaters who were detected by VAC and later banned and the website only tracks about 5% of players, the real number of people cheating in-game is likely much higher. The rise in cheating has been widely attributed to sales of the game during the Steam Winter Sale and to players attempting to gain back the ranks they lost when developers recently reduced player ranks across the board.

Players who are reported for hacking but aren’t detected by VAC can also be banned through the Overwatch system, which asks players to watch a replay of the suspect match and decide if they think he’s cheating or not. Other attempts to limit cheating in CS:GO have included blocking new accounts from being used in competitive games until they reach level 3, which helped temporarily but was quickly circumvented by the creation of a black market for pre-levelled accounts.

Source: VAC-Bans.com

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Blizzard delays the return of Overwatch’s beta to February

Blizzard has delayed the return of Overwatch’s beta, according to a post on the official forums today.

Game Director Jeff Kaplan says that the tentatively planned resumption date of mid-to-late January isn’t happening because the team isn’t ready and wants to add “one more big feature to the next beta patch”:

“After looking through all of the feedback from last year, one of the things we noticed players consistently mentioning was their desire for more game modes in Overwatch, in addition to Point Capture and Payload. Without getting into specifics, we are working on a new game mode. And we’re very excited about it! And we have some great new maps to support it, too, but we need a little more time to get everything just right.”

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Paladins aims for more MOBA-like gameplay, less customisation

When Hi-Rez Studios first revealed its upcoming online shooter Paladins, people immediately started comparing it to Overwatch and the slew of MOBAs on the market today. Paladins definitely seems to derive many of its core ideas from MOBAs, with team-based objectives and iconic characters with abilities that unlock and improve over the course of a match. The main difference is that players in Paladins put together decks of power-up cards that unlock throughout each match rather than just levelling up their character’s core abilities.

In a new interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, developers revealed that the original design of the game was actually more like Team Fortress 2 or Global Agenda, with relatively few character classes but plenty of customisation via the card system. Feedback from testers has since shown that gamers much prefer a MOBA-style system with a larger number of characters that each has its own iconic identity and fills a particular role and gameplay style.

Developers now plan to limit the amount of customisation that’s possible using the card system so that each character’s playstyle is more consistent and predictable and wacky builds are less feasible. “The element of understanding the enemy and their capabilities is important to flag up here,” CEO Erez Goren told RPS, later adding that “People don’t seem to appreciate the variation on a character as much as they do having a new character that does things that particular way.” Paladins is currently in closed beta and is scheduled for release at some point during this year.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best pet class in an MMORPG?

I hated pets when I first got started in MMORPGs. Pets in early MMOs had such terrible AI and were such a nuisance to control that they gave their masters bad reputations for years to come.

A couple of games changed my mind along the way, though: Guild Wars 1 and Titan Quest, and maybe Hellgate London too. While not all MMORPGs, they all had extremely powerful summoning classes that basically made the game into a steamrolling experience where the player had to do very little but keep the summons coming. By the time City of Heroes added Masterminds, I was actively seeking out a class I once looked down on.

What pet classes and summoning classes have you enjoyed in MMOs? What’s the very best pet class in an MMORPG?

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The MOP Up: Titan Siege debuts (January 17, 2016)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week players were invited to roleplay a Guild Wars 2 Quaggan (“ooOo”), the humans vs. supergods MMO Titan Siege hit open beta, Cabal Online released on a new platform, the Ultima Online community bought out Stratics, and more!

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The MOP Up: Age of Wushu Dynasty launches (January 10, 2016)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week we’ll cheer on the launch of Age of Wushu’s mobile spin-off, listen to EVE Online’s new theme, get into some Overwatch cosplay, and more!

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Massively OP’s guide to choosing an online ARPG

Bored of MMOs, despondent about the industry, or simply looking for something a little different? Turning to something similar to MMOs, yet offering a new experience, is what’s attracted many people to online action RPGs.

MMOARPGs, or ARPGs for short, are a booming segment of the online games industry for their fast gameplay, bite-sized sessions, and ease of play. They’re distinguished by features not generally found in MMOs, such as click-to-move, an isometric viewpoint, time-to-kill that is often lightning fast, simple controls, heavily instanced worlds, and loot exploding out of corpses like squishy piñatas. Still, they offer many of the same qualities that are found in traditional MMOs, most notably persistent characters and multiplayer connections.

If you’ve ever been curious about trying out an online ARPG but don’t know where to start, here’s our quick-and-dirty guide through four titles that are bridging the gap between MMOs and single-player ARPGs (such as the excellent Torchlight II and Titan Quest).

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