It’s a catch-all, catch-up episode for the Battle Bards as they dig through new soundtrack releases from MMORPGs that they’ve covered in the past! You may be prepared for an eclectic and enjoyable mix of music — but there is no way that you can steel yourself for the raw and heartfelt confessions that take place on this show.
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 124: Old MMOs, new music (or download it) now:
Starcraft Remastered really didn’t have to do anything else after release. That’s not to say that no one would have wanted more, but it was already an update of a classic game onto modern hardware. But the team has still been active, and the latest much-delayed developer update is here looking back at the 20th anniversary celebration of the original game and the last few patches. More importantly, it’s looking to the future, and the future is ramps.
Yes, ramps. Mapmakers have managed to hack together ramps with northern facings and with extra width, but they’ve never looked very good (because they’re being hacked together in an engine that doesn’t really support it). No longer; the game’s next update will feature a new mapping system to allow for better ramp art along with its new ladder ranking system. The video also promises that group matchmaking is coming soon now that solo matchmaking is working as intended. Check out the video just below.
You probably have enough of Diablo II in Diablo III at this point to satisfy any urges you might have to play the classic game in a more modern engine. But if that’s not enough for you, why not take a hop and a skip over to StarCraft 2? Because someone is literally remaking the game via the real-time strategy title’s map editor.
Yes, this is a thing that’s happening. User egod123 is rebuilding Diablo II in this wholly different game. Sometimes life is amazing.
The project has been in the works since 2014 and is aimed at recreating the game faithfully while also adding in two additional challenge game modes, with an option for fans to start testing the maps as of today. Hopefully this one won’t attract the banhammer from the Blizzard legal team, although given that it’s being made as a mod of another Blizzard game anyhow, that might be an interesting case to see happen.
Oh, it’s Diablo III! Remember that game? Probably you do if you want to play a roguelike hack-and-slash on console. The good news for you today is that the game’s latest console patch brings the console version up to parity with the PC version, meaning that both versions now have the same content and options available. The only difference is the control scheme, which you can’t get on the PC because of reasons at this point. Important reasons, probably.
As for the actual patch, it’s not terribly large; it adds in the StarCraft anniversary celebration content and fixes a number of bugs, although comments on Twitter suggest that some of those bugs haven’t exactly been fixed just yet. But the important thing is that both version of the game are now in harmony. Now let’s see if that lasts through the next PC patch.
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.
If we judged MMOs by their numbers alone — and I’m not suggesting we do so — then the original Lineage would be the crowing rooster strutting about the hen house. It’s also been one of those games that I’ve always intellectually acknowledged was a huge hit for some reason but never gave much attention. I think it’s because, contrary to many western MMOs, Lineage is primarily an Asian phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it should be shunned, of course, but just that it may be difficult to understand when you’re on the outside of it.
So let’s back up the memory truck to September 1998, when a then-fledgling NCsoft rolled out a Diablo-style isometric MMO and struck virtual gold in South Korea. At the time, gaming rooms were becoming a huge thing in the country. A recession had hit, giving people a lot of time with nothing to do, and the government was rapidly expanding the broadband network. In the face of this perfect storm, titles like StarCraft and Lineage became overnight household fixtures — and remained so for decades to come.
Even if you haven’t played Lineage and you don’t know anyone who does, trust me: Millions and millions of players have. As former Senior Producer Chris Mahnken once said, “Lineage keeps going because it’s just plain fun.”
Blizzard fans, this year’s BlizzCon has a date, and that day is November 2nd and 3rd, almost three months after the launch of World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth, meaning you won’t even be missing much grinding time to attend, and you can count on lots of post-mortemy-type panels rather than endless teasers. On the other hand? E-sports, e-sports, e-sports.
“This year’s event will again commence with the esports action of BlizzCon Opening Week, taking place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles from October 25 to 29, where the initial rounds of the StarCraft II World Championship Series Global Finals, the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals, and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship Finals will unfold. The competitions will culminate in Anaheim on November 2 and 3, where the champions of these tournaments along with those of the Overwatch World Cup and Hearthstone Global Games will be crowned.”
Last year’s event was sold out, so if you’re aiming to go, jot down these even more important dates: May 9th and 12th, when tickets will go on sale.
I love stories. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I love stories not just for their raw entertainment value, but for their ability to teach. It’s not heavy-handed like being in class, but stories teach culture, customs, and character. We visit the past, the present, the future. We experience things through stories we might never get to experience for ourselves. War, I hope, is one of those things.
Andrew Barron, Director of Design at Bohemia Interactive Simulations, has seen war. And war stories. He’s also been in the game industry for awhile, both before and after his time as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. He knows war, but he also knows war simulators. It’s actually his job to help build them. So when he says our games our violent, he knows what he’s saying, but the context for that may not be easily understood. However, once it is, you’ll see that not only do we have some games getting war “right,” but that there’s room for us to grow, and some people are already working on that in a way that sounds, well, fun.
The anniversary of the original StarCraft is getting celebrated in multiple games, and Heroes of the Storm is outright bringing one of its major characters to the field. Fenix is now available in the live game, alongside a balance pass aimed to bring his numbers down slightly from where they had been on the test realm. Don’t worry, he’s still just as flexible a Dragoon as he’s ever been, and his shields will still be hard to cut through while he barrages the enemy team. Just as always.
Balance changes also arrive for Tracer and Varian Wrynn in this build, with Tracer getting slightly retuned to lose some mobility while needing to stay closer to enemies for longer while Wrynn has his Heroic abilities moved lower. There are also the usual bug fixes and quality-of-life changes in the patch, so even if you have no interest in anniversaries or the heroes with balance changes, it’s still a worthwhile patch.
War. War never ends. Especially if it was designed and encouraged to wage forever.
One of the most popular computer gaming genres of the late 1990s and early 2000s was real-time strategy (RTS). Players found the combination of resource collecting, base building, and mass combat a heady mix, and titles like Dune 2, the Warcraft series, and the Command and Conquer series did extremely well both as single-player and limited multiplayer titles.
But with the advent of the MMORPG, game developers looked at the RTS and wondered if this genre would do well in a massively multiplayer environment. Well, there was only one way to find out, and that’s where Shattered Galaxy came in.
Even if your knees are too weak to think about venturing into Hearthstone’s
expansion, you might want to venture out of your hidey-hole to snag the many free card packs that Blizzard is handing out.
Starting on March 27th and continuing through April 10th, you will be able to secure a free card pack every day for completing a daily quest. This will add up to 16 free packs in total if you’re diligent about doing them! The studio is also handing out three free packs to anyone who wins a match in this week’s Tavern Brawl in honor of StarCraft’s 20th anniversary.
Blizzard posted its full Witchwood card reveal schedule for 55 cards from the expansion. The reveals start on March 27th.
If you’ve been waiting for the day when you could have a Dragoon storming the battlefield in Heroes of the Storm, the time has finally arrived with the addition of Fenix to the game’s roster. He’s available on the game’s test server now as a ranged assassin, offering shield-based durability, teleportation, and some nasty abilities to punish overconfident targets. Best of all, you know that his death really is just a minor setback; it wasn’t a big one the first time, either.
There’s more coming to the game to celebrate 20 years of StarCraft, though, including new sprays, discounts on skins for existing heroes, and even a nice big bundle to award you with a bunch of thematic goodness all at once. Jump on below to see Fenix in action if you can’t hop on the test server right now, and don’t let yourself be distracted by instincts about how much vespene gas you require.
It’s time for a whole lot of new characters to smash into the fray in Blizzard’s various multiplayer offerings. Hearthstone doesn’t have characters, per se, but it does have deck types, and the game’s next expansion is delivering a whole new deck type with Odds & Evens. Yes, that’s where you have an entire deck consisting of cards with odd costs or even costs; you can check out the video below for more elaboration.
Overwatch, of course, does have new characters. Specifically, it has Brigitte, who as it turns out will be arriving in the game on March 20th. If you’ve been looking forward to playing the smashy warrior-healer on the live game, you’ll have your chance very soon.
Last but not least, the Heroes of the Storm team is promising another new hero in the form of Fenix, a character from StarCraft who got killed in the first few missions. Later, he came back in a giant spider robot carrying his dead body. (He was a Dragoon. It makes sense in context.) So that’s also fun, although we warn you that teams might not appreciate you saying “I return to serve” every time you respawn.