It’s been eight years since the launch of StarCraft II, which is cause for celebration due to the… amazing competitive gaming moments? That’s what the anniversary announcement opens off with, and there’s nary a mention of story or characters or game mechanics or anything else. Eh, celebrate the competition, we suppose. You can do just that by logging into play before July 30th to get a cake-based portrait in the game. Celebratory!
The game itself is also doubling experience gains in co-op mode as well as in single Versus matches, so you can level up there if you’re so inclined. Last but not least, the home base structures of each race will be flying anniversary banners during the event, just as a little extra celebration. That has no in-game effect, although it will look bafflingly ironic if your base is being blown to pieces while celebrating the anniversary.
The StarCraft II map editor offers a lot of power, and there are countless examples of using the basic functions of the editor to make something completely different. For example, there are… well, the two maps being sold to players with the launch of patch 4.3. Both maps run $4.99 to purchase, with a portion of the price going to the map creator and the map going to your collection of maps.
Direct Strike might be more described as a variant of the game’s usual gameplay, as you build units into waves to send out at the opponent’s base in what amounts to a tactical tug-of-war. ARK Star, on the other hand, is an entire tactical turn-based RPG based in the game, including leveling, loot, NPC dialogue trees, and everything else you could expect. You can check out brief trailers for both just below if you’re interested in picking up a StarCraft II map that turns the game into something completely different.
It’s been 20 years since StarCraft was first released to the world, and as a result, Blizzard is taking the time to celebrate the anniversary. Where? Everywhere. Basically every single title has some sort of anniversary celebration, even World of Warcraft.
Although considering the World of Warcraft celebration just consists of a feat of strength for saluting minipets based off of the game, calling that one a “celebration” might be a bit of a stretch. “Acknowledgement” seems more appropriate.
Overwatch players can pick up a Kerrigan skin for Widowmaker, StarCraft II players can get special UI skins based off of the original game, and even StarCraft Remastered gets a special UI skin. There are also rewards for taking part in a special brawl in Hearthstone and old-school portraits for Heroes of the Storm, so whatever title you play, you can do something to remember the game’s initial launch.
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!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Conqueror’s Blade, MapleStory Blitz, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, Skyforge, Path of Exile, Armored Warfare Assault, Aura Kingdom, and MechWarrior Online, all waiting for you after the break!
Turns out that World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is already setting records well before it releases. How? Well, it had a very nice diorama at BlizzCon. A very nice, very big diorama, one that featured a huge number of attendee characters individually printed in 3-D and arranged on the sprawling battleground between the Horde and the Alliance. And said “very big diorama” apparently qualified as the largest video game diorama ever at 1,300 square feet. That is a lot of individual characters in a single diorama.
No, your characters were not in the mix if you were not at BlizzCon. We’re sorry.
Meanwhile, StarCraft II has gone more or less completely free-to-play, and the team behind it has decided to take the opportunity to rather thoroughly troll the people behind Star Wars: Battlefront II’s notably less-than-free business model. This segues nicely into the game’s newest commercial, which couldn’t possibly have been made just to joke about that… but is still pretty funny all the same.
From zombies to demons, game designer Harrison G. Pink is no stranger to bizarre apocalypses. Pink formerly worked on Telltale Games’ hit Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands titles, but nowadays he has a new address: Blizzard Entertainment.
Pink announced on Twitter this week that he was snapped up by the studio to work on Diablo III as a senior game designer. The action-MMO could certainly use a shot of new blood as it dealt with a shaky Patch 2.6 rollout and questions about the game’s future in the studio’s portfolio.
Meanwhile, Gamasutra reports that Blizzard’s in-house senior audio director has been let go by the studio after 12 years of service, apparently in favor of freelance contractors. Russell Brower explains that “as the company has grown, the topography of the Sound team has adjusted accordingly, and the last couple of years have been no exception. With the success of a ‘sound de-centralization’ initiative, my current position of overall Sr. Audio Director/Composer is no longer relevant and is being eliminated.”
Everyone’s favorite gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter announced that his firm Wedbush is “skeptical that the Overwatch League will achieve much success,” noting that Blizzard’s multiplayer online shooter is “difficult to watch,” too expensive to buy, and unapproachable compared to other games. It gets worse: He also argues that “investors are overly optimistic” given the huge expense for running teams in a league like this one, the fact that Amazon got to Twitch first, and the likelihood that Blizzard will eventually collide with antitrust law (and the lack of relevant international law).
“The major sports leagues in the US are allowed to ‘collude’ with one another to some extent in order to limit player salaries; it is not clear that OWL will be subject to such an exemption, suggesting to us that a determined owner with a large pocketbook may be able to capture the world’s best players by guaranteeing large salaries.”
BlizzCon 2016 was really hit-and-miss from my perspective. On the one hand, there was some really great stuff in there, like the discussion of World of Warcraft‘s next patch. On the other hand, there was some astonishingly weak stuff as well, like how badly the Diablo anniversary panel felt like a flub; it landed with a remarkably weak impact. And then there were parts like the Legion design retrospective that seemed to be saying decent stuff in the worst possible way, or the final release of Sombra for Overwatch that was presented in a really cool way… after being far, far too drawn out.
However, it’s not just about what I thought; we want to know what your feelings were. What was your favorite part of BlizzCon? Do you feel like the convention lived up to your expectations without a major announcement, or did it feel superfluous without one? Did your favorite game get the highlights you wanted? What worked and what didn’t? Did you enjoy our liveblogs? And perhaps most importantly, did you buy a shirt? It’s a cool shirt.
Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.
It’s been a week of solid development for online gaming, with Hearthstone releasing its League of Explorers adventure and StarCraft II launching its standalone Legacy of the Void expansion. We got development previews of Diablo III‘s next big patch, Heroes of the Storm‘s new battleground, Splatoon‘s new maps and items, and Path of Exile‘s Talisman league. League of Legends revealed its next champion and details of some huge buffs on the way for six champions, SMITE revealed its next character, and Star Citizen just has a few issues left before Alpha 2.0 can be released. We also heard the latest from Dota 2, Chronicle: RuneScape Legends, The Division, Elite: Dangerous, Grey Goo, and others.
If there’s a game or story you’d like to see covered in next week’s Not So Massively, please drop us a tip and let us know.
Do you have a deep need to grab some rare Blizzard memorabilia? Do you have a large amount of disposable income? Do you want to support a charity? Do you like piña coladas? The last one isn’t terribly relevant to the BlizzCon Charity Auction that kicks off on November 4th, but the first three are super relevant because that’s what it’s all about: Blizzard memorabilia auctioned off with all proceeds going to charity.
The auctions will run from November 4th until November 13th and include original art from World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and StarCraft II along with a number of signed books, rare plushies, and limited edition laptops. Fans will need an eBay account to bid on the items up for sale; in fact, there’s a full listing of the auction items already available. So go ahead and get your hands on some rarities while supporting a children’s hospital. It’s enough to make you feel warm and fuzzy and get new stuff.
Any uncertainty over whether Blizzard was going to throw a convention this year is now over, as the studio announced that BlizzCon 2015 will be arriving on November 6th and 7th.
The convention will be held once again at the Anaheim Convention Center and will cost $199 to attend. Additionally, the studio will be selling virtual tickets and invitations to a charity benefit dinner on November 5th. This will be the ninth BlizzCon since it began back in 2005.
The first wave of tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, April 15th, at 10:00 p.m. EDT. As Blizzard expects the tickets to sell out quickly, it has prepared a ticket purchase guide to smooth the process and make sure that fans know exactly what to do to grab one of these passes.
[Source: BlizzCon announcement
, ticket purchase guide