Heroes of the Storm Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Heroes of the Storm RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Warcraft 3: Reforged's Custom Game Policy is Bull https://www.gameskinny.com/n68xr/warcraft-3-reforgeds-custom-game-policy-is-bull https://www.gameskinny.com/n68xr/warcraft-3-reforgeds-custom-game-policy-is-bull Thu, 30 Jan 2020 15:30:13 -0500 Ashley Shankle

The launch of Warcraft 3: Reforged has been rocky to say the least. The game has launched without a ladder, the promised UI is pretty much exactly the same as the original game, and those promised dialogue and cutscene updates are really something. 

These issues are all minor in the face of the largest of them all. It's one that Blizzard themselves wouldn't consider a problem but custom map creators have to suck up: Any Warcraft 3: Reforged custom games are property of Blizzard.

This claim isn't being hyperbolic or an exaggeration in any way. The exact phrasing of the section of the EULA is as follows:

Custom Games are and shall remain the sole and exclusive property of Blizzard. Without limiting the foregoing, you hereby assign to Blizzard all of your rights, title, and interest in and to all Custom Games, including but not limited to any copyrights in the content of any Custom Games.

If for any reason you are prevented or restricted from assigning any rights in the Custom Games to Blizzard, you grant to Blizzard an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, unconditional, royalty free, irrevocable license enabling Blizzard to fully exploit the Custom Games (or any component thereof) for any purpose and in any manner whatsoever.

What this means is Blizzard is able to claim any custom game modes and content as their own and use it however they wish including taking content creators' hard work and claiming it as their own.

Punishment for Missing the Boat

It's not hard to see why Blizzard has decided to take this stance if you understand the history behind Warcraft 3 and DotA. Well-before League of Legends smashed onto the scene, there was the Warcraft 3 custom game DotA.

Despite being a Warcraft 3 custom game, DotA dominated a large part of the competitive gaming scene for nearly a decade and eventually became more popular than the game that housed it. In time, DotA-likes such as League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth led the charge into the full-fledged MOBA genre that continues today.

Eventually, Valve wrangled in DotA developer IceFrog to create Dota 2 as a full-fledged titled, before Blizzard could get to him themselves. And so Blizzard was left to cobble their own MOBA together in Heroes of the Storm, without the characters that were so well-known to the community and without the vision of the original game.

DOA

It's no mystery why Blizzard has decided to grasp onto any potential massive hits within Warcraft 3's custom game sphere you would, too, if you were burned by being too slow on the draw to lock down an emerging genre.

The objective failure of Heroes of the Storm doesn't help, either. (Hey, don't shoot the messenger here. I played HotS daily for over a year. Nothing changes the fact its competitive scene has been gutted and development put on the backburner.)

This isn't just a slap to the face to the vast majority of content creators for the Warcraft 3 scene that dump hundreds of hours into working up new and creative game modes, it's a glaring example of just how far the Blizzard of today is from what its fanbase imagines it to be.

It's no one but Blizzard's own fault that they didn't get on the Dota 2 train in time, but content creators for this new half-baked Warcraft 3 remaster will have to suffer for Blizzard's own inaction all those years ago.

How anyone could possibly defend this decision is totally and utterly beyond me, but one thing is for certain: this EULA ensures Warcraft 3: Reforged's custom game scene is dead on arrival.

]]>
This Was the Best Decade in Gaming History, and I Can Prove It https://www.gameskinny.com/w33ve/this-was-the-best-decade-in-gaming-history-and-i-can-prove-it https://www.gameskinny.com/w33ve/this-was-the-best-decade-in-gaming-history-and-i-can-prove-it Sun, 29 Dec 2019 14:27:56 -0500 Ty Arthur

The decade is coming to a close, and while there was controversy — and a few franchises flopped  the last 10 years provided some of the best moments in the history of gaming.

If you lived through the 2010s, you witnessed new, powerful console launches, new developers knocking it out of the park, and new, exciting tech releases from the ill-fated Kinect to the still burgeoning VR field.

All of that and more led to an unforgettable 10 years in gaming that rivaled much of what came before. Don't believe me? Let's take a look back at the industry's defining achievements over the past 10 years.  

The Early 2010s

Certain moments will live forever. Lady Gaga's meat outfit. Rebecca Black's Friday. Kony 2012. The color of that stupid dress. Marriage equality. "But her emails." Leo finally getting that damn Oscar. 

For me, the decade began in earnest when I put GLaDOS into a potato in Portal 2. The combination of humor and disturbing horror sold it as much as the game's top-notch voice acting and rock solid gameplay. That overall package had me sitting in awe, thinking: "Did modern video games just become amazing right this second?" 

Aside from the hilarious legacy of Portal's sequel (which itself will never be a follow-up since Valve sadly can't count to three), the 2010s kicked off in earnest with notable returns from major series featuring big changes. Mass Effect 2 ditched the extraneous RPG elements and somehow came out better for it; Dead Space 2 ramped up the horror and gore of the first game; and, of course, Starcraft 2: Wings Of Liberty arrived with a makeover and revamped multiplayer.

The early 2010s proudly brought the gaming universe a re-tooled horde mode in Gears of War 3, and it's one that stood the test of time. Aside from still holding the title of "one of the least toxic cooperative multiplayer modes" ever made, horde in Gears of War 3 remains the gold standard of multiplayer. Horde is one of the primary reasons why fans return to the Gears series even after the IP switched developers.

While those big-name AAA franchises made their marks, Minecraft became a phenomenon. Mojang's smash hit created an enduring legacy that can't be denied, even if the survival/open-world LEGO mashup has been endlessly emulated. Somehow the pop phenomenon still has hundreds of millions of active players, showing Mojang's vision wasn't just a fluke. 

Between an insane number of skins, seeds, maps, and mods, Minecraft has to be one of the most expansive gaming experiences of all time, and it will probably still be up and running long after we are all dead and gone. As we move into the next decade, we're preparing for Minecraft Dungeons, which could possibly be a game we'll still be talking about in 10 years. Who knows?

      OK, maybe it wouldn't have been the worst
thing if we didn't know about this guy...

Another low-key title that had a bigger impact than many realize — though not Minecraft big — came in the horror genre. 

Amnesia: The Dark Descent kicked off the "defenseless" horror subgenre that has seen the likes of Outlast, Layers of Fear, and Alien: Isolation follow in its footsteps. Although the Amnesia series is now quaint when compared to what came after it, it brought the horror genre to the masses. Why? Because big-name streamers loved it.

Reaction videos to Amnesia's scarier scenes caught on like wildfire, and it's partly to thank for the sudden spike in video game streaming personalities in the early part of the decade. Without Amnesia, it's possible that the likes of PewDiePie and Markiplier might remain relatively unknown.

       It is an absolute tragedy that this didn't catch on.

Despite all of the unexpected successes, there were some "sure things" that ended up nosediving in the early part of the decade. Nintendo — normally a pillar of stability — saw the Wii U ultimately flop, even though the hardware itself had some fantastic applications.

If you haven't experienced Rayman Legends local multiplayer using both the Wii U pad and your television screen, then you missed out on a critical piece of amazing gaming history.

While the Wii U has been consigned to the dust bin, other parts of the early 2010 gaming landscape caught on like wildfire and still haven't gone out.

Though I point blank hated Skyrim, credit must be given where it's due. Bethesda captured the imagination of a generation with that particular Elder Scrolls entry, and Skyrim managed to remain popular enough to see re-release some dozen or so times across multiple consoles throughout the decade.

Without question, Skyrim played a large role in the success of the 2010 console cycle, but it had an even bigger impact on the PC landscape. Simply put, Skyrim is the king of mods, and has born an entire generation of modders that have created some truly fantastic experiences. 

To date, Skyrim has more than 56,000 downloads available on Nexus Mods. Yeah, a lot of them are nude mods, but between the total conversion mods and extremely clever gameplay tweaks, Skyrim can be an amazing game with the right modding.

The mod effect went well past Bethesda's fantasy baby this decade. Other open world games like Red Dead Redemption 2 are getting a slew of mods, but everything from XCOM to the Resident Evil 2 remake are finding extra play time through some pretty genius mods.

While story took a back seat to open-world exploration in Skyrim, storytelling as a whole wasn't left in the dust in this early period of the decade. Plenty of games weren't afraid to go with more mature or unexpected themes, from the devastating opening of The Last Of Us to the mind-bending twist in Bioshock Infinite

Story rich or story lacking, open world or linear, the early part of the 10s was drowning in genre-defining games... but things would take a turn just a few years later. 

The Mid 2010s

         Telltale looking at Telltale and getting ready to pull the trigger       

Has a developer ever risen so quickly and then fallen so far as Telltale? The Wolf Among Us and the first season of The Walking Dead are still hallmarks of interactive storytelling, but sadly, the development team, under immense pressure, faced insurmountable hurdles.

A badly aging engine, lack of new ideas, and overspending on major franchises weighed the dev down by the time Game Of Thrones Season 1 ended. Sadly, things did not improve, and the company shuttered later in the decade. We never got to see the heights this style could have reached if material like Stranger Things, Hellraiser, or True Detective had been made available.

While the Telltale name is currently clawing back from the dead, it appears this new version of the company won't feature the same people (which may be a good thing) and will work on a much smaller scale. Will we ever get anything as compelling as Bigby's murder mystery or Clementine's journey to adulthood? Probably not, but at least we've still got our memories. 

       Goodbye old friend. You will be missed.

Another amazingly bittersweet moment arrived in April 2016 as the beloved Xbox 360 finally met its end. While Games With Gold is still offering up free titles each month and a handful of games are still hitting the platform, production on this console legend officially stopped. If you've still got a 360, be sure to keep hold of it -- because no more are being made! Microsoft managed to bring out the longest-running console cycle in gaming history, lasting more than 10 solid years. 

The next-gen got off to a rocky start not long before the 360 ceased production (remember the horror that was Assassin's Creed Unity?) but the decade's trend of disappointing trilogy conclusions with Dead Space 3 and Mass Effect 3 would come to a shattering and conclusive close with The Witcher 3.

Without question, The Witcher 3 put CD Projekt Red on the map and showed that an open-world RPG could be story-rich and offer more than just endless fetch quests and following map markers. Even more impressively, The Witcher 3 remains one of the very few titles to feature DLC that is easily as strong as the base game.

Considering the many amazing ladies of the series (oh, and Geralt too, I guess) just made the leap to a Netflix Original Series, it seems The Witcher franchise is going to live on for quite some time.

The same time period didn't just see the arrival of some truly great games it also saw a change in how games are developed and the ways in which developers interact with players.

Although the method had been around for some time, it was around the mid-2010s that Early Access started to become a vehicle for on-going development. 

Though Early Access has seen its fair share of hate and has been legitimately abused, it gave us titles as diverse and satisfying as Darkest Dungeon, Slime Rancher, and later, Subnautica. Early Access has shown that supporting developers along the way and allowing tweaks to be made from fan feedback can result in better-finished products.

      Should have called it Baldur's Wind Dale: Temple Of Elemental Torment.

Rising alongside Early Access, the crowd-funding revolution also emerged in the 2010s, giving us an amazing crop of old-school RPGs like Pillars of Eternity and Wasteland 2

Fans wanted classic isometric games utilizing tactical real-time-with-pause or turn-based combat, but publishers just weren't willing to take the risk. They couldn't see that nostalgia equals money. Kickstarter and Indiegogo stepped in.

While Obsidian and InXile got snapped up by Microsoft in 2018 and it would seem are now cranking out some very off-brand console titles we still had a good number of years where fans had the final say on what would get released in those instances.

Kickstarter would later grow to feature revitalized classics such as Shenmue 3 and the Castlevania-adjacent Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Whether you asked for a refund and still think its a scam or are eagerly playing along, Star Citizen showed just how massive a crowd funding campaign can become. Somehow its still earning crowd funding revenue, having raked in more than $250 million from fans who know what they want and are willing to pay to get it.

Outside the realm of the typical gaming sphere, a surprising new genre would emerge and make a bigger impact than anyone suspected: absurdist games meant entirely for Let's Plays, reaction vids, and water-cooler talk.

"Classics" like Goat Simulator and Octodad: Dadliest Catch saw gamers re-thinking what truly makes a game great, while also laying the foundation for newer entries like Untitled Goose Game.

The Late 2010s

      Welcome back, Nintendo!

Breath Of The Wild was exactly what Nintendo needed to retake its position near the head of the pack. A major shift in gameplay towards an open-world style gave the Zelda franchise and the Switch a serious shot in the arm.

A brand new design for Nintendo's latest console didn't hurt either, as the combination of permanent home base console and mobile device re-captured the imaginations of gamers. While the controller and movement-based games like 1-2 Switch don't seem to have caught on, Nintendo is still very clearly back into position as console innovator. 

Another open-world game that defined this same period, but on the PlayStation 4, was Horizon Zero Dawn. The combination of old and new styles with a gripping mystery of humanity's past pushed forward by a fiery main character gave many players a reason to stick with the PS4. 

Considering the lauded Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010 and Red Dead Redemption 2 was one of the most highly anticipated titles of 2018, it's clear that the open-world trend has reigned supreme this decade.

One game refutes that claim, though, is Fortnite.

You might love to hate it, but you have to ask yourself: has any other title done more to bring gaming into the public consciousness? When Star Wars and Avengers hold in-game events in Fortnite, I think it's clear we've surpassed fandom boundaries and hit the big time.

The concept of Battle Royale has been around for quite awhile, and one could argue it hit its stride with PUBG not long after getting popular through the DayZ mod to Arma 2. That being said, it wasn't until Fortnite that the term became a household name and a genre giant in its own right. 

The resurgence of Battle Royale aside, Fortnite still plays a major role in live streaming, catapulting it to a previously unknown level of popularity with celebrity appearances and major eSports events. Fortnite managed to hit just about every platform imaginable, including mobile phones, and that's another area of gaming worth looking at that made a huge splash in the '10s.

      Not only is this peak 2010s, I'd argue it was also the
reason the internet was invented

Forget Angry Birds and Candy Crush, because there was an absolute explosion of mobile gaming covering every conceivable genre this decade. Aside from the clear cultural significance, Pokemon Go's launch started the AR craze meant to get gamers off the couch and out into the world of sunlight and exercise.

Even if you didn't care for the change in mechanics from the other monster-collecting titles, Pokemon Go was the gift that just kept on giving, from Pokemoan dildos (yep, they exist) to a Chuck Tingle erotica book, to a news cycle that kept bringing up new insanity every, single day.

While some games got smaller and more mobile, others got larger and more tethered VR broke into the mainstream. The PSVR brought true virtual reality to console gamers for a (sort of) affordable price for the first time.

Meanwhile, a number of dueling PC VR platforms are now pushing the boundaries and getting the tech where it needs to go. Vive and Oculus are currently duking it out, with the Oculus Quest now ditching wires and even the PC entirely for a more liberated experience. We haven't seen the best VR has to offer yet  that's for sure  but what's available today is already impressive.

If virtual worlds are less important to you than the interactions that occur within them, the late 2010s were a time when communities really started coming together through platforms like Twitch and Discord.

While the former popped up in 2011 and the latter in 2015, it hasn't been until recent years that they've really come into their own. Whether a mobile gacha title or a graphics-intensive PC shooter, pretty much every game worth playing has its own Discord community where players help each other out and forge new relationships.

New consoles, new tech, new ways of communicating, and new and returning franchises made this is a decade to remember in gaming history.

Looking Forward to 2020 and Beyond

That all about brings us to the present: 2019 was filled to the brim with major gaming news. Bungie parted with Activision but kept the Destiny series; Blizzard stepped in it with their poor handling of eSports players discussing Chinese democracy protests; and Xbox Game Studios snapped up Double Fine back in August.

On the release front, the tail end of the decade hasn't slouched with top-notch new games in a number of surprising genres. Disco Elysium came out of nowhere, and yeah, it deserves the hype. If you miss Planescape: Torment style text-heavy experiences, you want to play this one. The movie snippet experimentation with Telling Lies is also well worth experiencing and shows gaming can be just as interesting and story-rich as cinema. That's not to mention Netflix's Bandersnatch.

As the year ends, we're seeing more changes to the gaming landscape with monthly game services like Game Pass, PS Now, EA Access, and more coming into prominence. Even the mobile gaming crowd is getting in on the monthly subscription action with Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass. If you want to try out a bunch of games for a low monthly price, there's never been a better time to explore what's available on console, PC, or mobile devices.

Of course, the obvious next step of this digital revolution was the advent of the all-streaming Stadia and XCloud. The effect of those changes is still anyone's guess, but it sure looks like we're barreling towards a digital future with a Netflix style library of games.

As Google and all-streaming services come into the spotlight, the console wars still raged between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. The PS4 managed to become the fourth best selling console of all time this gen, and some killer exclusives likely played a big role there. How the PS5 and Xbox Series X stack up against each other still remains to be seen.

Far more happened in this decade than we ever could have covered in one article, and I'm sure you'll be happy to tell me which games and events I missed that made this the best 10 years in gaming history.

For now, it's time to look toward the future, as next-gen consoles are well into development and are expected to arrive next holiday season. Major titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Baldur's Gate 3, and The Last Of Us 2 are mere months away, and we can't wait to see what the next 10 years have in store! 

What were your favorite video game moments from 2010-2019, and do you agree that it was the best decade in gaming history? Sound off in the comments below!

]]>
What Blizzard's Recent Heroes Of The Storm Announcement Means For Everyone Else https://www.gameskinny.com/62viu/what-blizzards-recent-heroes-of-the-storm-announcement-means-for-everyone-else https://www.gameskinny.com/62viu/what-blizzards-recent-heroes-of-the-storm-announcement-means-for-everyone-else Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:09:38 -0500 QuintLyn

Late last week, the gaming sector of the Twitterverse blew up with news from Blizzard regarding its MOBA Heroes of the Storm. The game, largely considered a "love letter" to all the games the company has created throughout its long history, would be going through some changes in development -- and in the esports arena.

These changes, announced in a recent blog post penned by Blizzard President J. Allen Brack and Chief Development Officer Ray Gresko, include pulling developers from Heroes of the Storm to work on other Blizzard projects while also cancelling both the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm.

While fans were obviously upset at the restructuring of the staff, what caught the most attention on Twitter was the cutback on esports. Immediately following the news, my feed was filled with fans, players, commentators, and casters bemoaning the change -- and in some cases, wondering what they were going to do now that the thing they'd built their careers around had been pulled out from under them.

The Players and the Teams

One player tweeted about how he'd given up his college career so he could dedicate the 8-plus hours a day needed to go pro. And he'd just recently been picked up.

Even the team that brought him on was shocked by the news.

Now, some teams may move on to other games. There are a lot of MOBAs out  there. However, not all MOBAs are created equal, and skill sused in one don't necessarily translate easily to another. 

First, not all MOBAs are as popular as another, meaning they don't have the fan base for real esports activities. Second, despite their basic structure being the same, players will need to spend time learning the ins and outs of the new game, as well as ranking up so that they can play in tournaments (ranking doesn't happen overnight after all). 

Third -- and this is a biggy -- a lot of the bigger organizations already have teams in all the most-played games. If you're team Cloud 9 in one game, you can't just move over to another game and continue to play as Cloud 9. That position is already taken. So, you either break up and find other teams to bring you on individually, or you form a new organization.

And it's not even as "easy" as I just made it sound.

The Personalities

And what about all those people involved in esports that aren't employed by the game development company and aren't part of a team? I'm talking announcers, casters, personalities. These people are part of the big esports machine. They're independent workers that developers or esports organizations hire to help make their games accessible and exciting to spectators.

What happens to them?

Well, Twitter over the last few days is any indication, they're scrambling to find new gigs with other organizations. But again, there's only so many of those positions to go around and as a general rule, each company kind of prefers that the personalities they bring on not only play their games, but have a following within their game community. 

This means that just like the players, a lot of these personalities are going to have to switch gears and learn about other games. They won't just learn the mechanics of the games either, but also familiarize themselves with the intricacies of a different community -- and their current followers may or may not come with them.

Luckily, some of these personalities have other things they can fall back on.

A few tweets I saw mentioned things like voice acting, general hosting, and -- the good ole standby -- streaming. One individual even opened up his Patreon again, something he said he really didn't want to do, but needed to for the time being.

But at least it and his supporters are there when he needs them. Not every individual has that.

So, What Does All This Mean?

At the moment, it means that a lot more people are currently looking for new jobs.

It also showcases the dangers of tying your career to one project made and controlled by someone else. Very few, if anyone, expected Blizzard to cancel those two tournaments. But it's obvious that despite how much players enjoyed them, and despite how many people made a living from them, they weren't meeting Blizzard's expectations in some way.

More importantly, I think, it's a warning to all of us who make our living based around other people's projects -- especially those who focus all of their energy on a single game. You're relying on a lot of people to keep a lot of things in place to keep that sustainable.

If one of the cogs falls out... well, we end up where we are now.

There Needs to be Some Fallback Plan

For players, this is definitely going to be more difficult. Most players spend 8-plus hours a day training for one game. Adding another to the mix "just in case" probably isn't going to work.

Instead, what needs to happen here revolves around better communication between the developers, organizations, and team members. Teams shouldn't bring new people on only to find out right after that their tournaments no longer exist.

For personalities and everyone else not holding a controller in their hands, it's still difficult, but building an audience outside of your primary game is the best way to go. Be versitle, introduce your fans to new things, and always be aware that you don't own the game your career is based on.

Unfortunately, the rug can be pulled out from under you at any moment should the developers decide things just aren't working right, or even if interest in the game dwindles.

That said, I know most people -- players, teams, casters, and streamers -- do this not only because they can make a living at it, but also because they actually love the games they're involved in. I understand how a lot of them are feeling right now. Most online gamers have felt something similar when a game they loved was taken from them for business reasons. It sucks. It sucks even more when you've based your living on it.

]]>
Play World of Warcraft: Classic When You Buy The BlizzCon Virtual Ticket https://www.gameskinny.com/anw6j/play-world-of-warcraft-classic-when-you-buy-the-blizzcon-virtual-ticket https://www.gameskinny.com/anw6j/play-world-of-warcraft-classic-when-you-buy-the-blizzcon-virtual-ticket Fri, 28 Sep 2018 10:44:20 -0400 Zack Palm

Planning to check out BlizzCon from the comfort of your own home? Not only will you get the chance the watch the show from your house, but you'll get the chance to try out a demo getting shown on the show-floor: World of Warcraft Classic!

The World of Warcraft class demo stretches across two specific Horde and Alliance Classic zones. You'll have access to the demo up until November 8, with the purchase of your BlizzCon virtual ticket.

Want some build up to the event? Blizzard plans to upload a video series leading up to BlizzCon where they show off some phenomenal coplayers, the secret of the Blizzard Vault, and more yet to come. This series will likely get uploaded to their YouTube page, or follow them at @Blizzard_Ent to receive more updates.

Before BlizzCon official kicks off, Blizzard is making the 12th annual BlizzCon Goody Bag available in their store. The bag contains:

  • Diablo vinyl figure
  • World of Warcraft faction keychain
  • Hearthstone magnet set
  • Overwatch challenge coin
  • Heroes of the Storm Raven Lord crest magnet
  • StarCraft 20th Anniversary pin
  • BlizzCon hardcover book where the developers share about their amazing community.

If you grab your virtual ticket, you can save $10 off your Goody Bag purchase. These items remain in the store while supplies last.

The BlizzCon event kicks off on November 2. You can go to Blizzard's online store to reserve your seat now for $49.99. For die-hard fans, make sure to download the free BlizzCon 2018 mobile application for iOS or Android to receive announcements, video content, and access to the live streams that come from the event.

]]>
BlizzCon 2017: Heroes Of The Storm Devs Highlight Upcoming Content And Game Changes https://www.gameskinny.com/osplb/blizzcon-2017-heroes-of-the-storm-devs-highlight-upcoming-content-and-game-changes https://www.gameskinny.com/osplb/blizzcon-2017-heroes-of-the-storm-devs-highlight-upcoming-content-and-game-changes Sun, 05 Nov 2017 11:49:05 -0500 QuintLyn

It's been a pretty busy year for the Heroes of the Storm development team, as I'm sure any of them will be happy to tell you. Over the past year they've released a slew of new content and changes, including two maps and enough Heroes to bring the current total to double what the game launched with. Overall, it's been pretty impressive. But they're not stopping there.

Adjusting content releases

In the Heroes of the Storm "What's Next" panel at Blizzcon, the team revealed plans for upcoming content, as well as changes to how that content will be rolled out. Taking a look at how content releases worked over the past year, wherein they dropped a slew of new content and features at once, the dev team noticed several issues that they wanted to address.

The first issue the Heroes team took note of was that when releasing content in a batch like this, individual pieces failed to stand out. The second -- and perhaps more important -- issue is that dropping a ton of content at once can cause some instability, disrupting how the game plays.

To combat this, the development team is planning on spreading out the content, dropping individual pieces at different times. This not only allows each piece of content to make an impression, but it also allows them to offer more support to each release with things like additional artwork, effects, and sounds.

Small quality-of-life additions

Keeping this plan in mind, the team went on to highlight some of the things they have planned for the game in the near future, such as the introduction of a target info panel. This will provide players with a variety of statistics on "battlefield entities:" minions, mercenaries, structures, and other Heroes and obtain more information about them. This information includes things like health and mana, attack damage, movement speed, and more.

Another useful change is the addition of indicators that reveal when Heroes are hiding in things like vehicles or other objects. It's a small quality of life change, but one that should make a difference in combat.

Integrated voice chat

As for bigger changes, the team announced integrated voice chat. This system will pull Blizzard Voice directly into the game client, negating the need for players to set up their own chat systems and streamlining the whole system. The voice chat system will add two channels to the game. The first will be a party chat. This one automatically adds players when they join the party.  The second channel is for teams. This one is opt-in and players will be given the option to join the channel when they join a game.

The system seems fairly robust for an in-game addition. It offers indicators as to who is speaking and also give players the ability to adjust volumes for their chat-mates, as well as make other tweaks for a better experience.

Performance based matchmaking rating

Another big adjustment the developer team is working on is improving the accuracy of the matchmaking system. The goal of the changes being made to this system is to improve the accuracy when placing individual players by getting the system to take a player's performance in a match into account when doing adjustments.

The current system attempts to match players of similar skill (but not as accurately as the development team or players would like) by giving every player a matchmaking rating based off of games won or lost. The problem is that while winning and losing can be an indicator of how well someone plays, it doesn't take into account their personal contribution on the field. 

Granted, if a player is really good, the current system will eventually rank them appropriately based just on the amount of games they have won. But it will also take them a long time to get there.

To fix all this, the Heroes team has decided to make use of systems they have added to the game over time. The MVP system, personalized statistics, and the On Fire system will be used to get a more detailed view of how players perform as individuals when calculating MMR adjustments. Other information used in the new system include what Heroes are being played in a match, what battleground it's played on, and even the region being played in.

The new system is fully dynamic, so stats will be updated at the end of every match. In addition, because of how quickly players will now rise through the ranks if they're appropriately skilled, the new system will help prevent both griefing and smurfing. For players hoping to get this system in as quickly as possible, hey can expect it when the next ranked season hits in December. 

2018 gameplay update

Following the reveal of the the MMR system, the panel moved on to discuss gameplay updates set to arrive in 2018. These will be core updates that will change how players go about their business in game, and again, improve the quality of life for players across the board.

Camera changes

The first is a rework of the game's camera system, making it easier for players to see what's going on on the map. To achieve this, the developers have pulled the camera out some -- but not too much -- and expanded on how much of the map is visible .

Stealth Heroes

The next update is to stealth Heroes. Stealth Heroes are a tricky thing. They're supposed to be kind of hard to see, but how hard is too hard? As the developers note, the current stealth hero system functions more or less like an eye test. If your eyes are really good, you might actually be able to see faint movements on the field, meaning that you'd have the advantage over someone with less adept vision. 

This issue also results in stealth Heroes really only being popular in quick match play, while they make fewer appearances in competitive play and are rarely seen in esports.

With the new system, the stealth Heroes will be easier to see as ghostly silhouettes on the play field. However, to still make combating stealth challenging they have been made to disappear whenever they stop moving. These Heroes will also still be invisible on the minimap and an enemy hero will still be required to at least land a skill shot in order to pull them out of stealth. 

Lane updates

Since the lanes are where games generally start out, the Heroes team decided to give them another look in an effort to make them more interesting. As noted, the lane phase of a match ends pretty quickly -- it only lasts a few minutes into the match. In addition, the lane phase doesn't really mean much in regards to the outcome of the game. It carries very little weight compared to other aspects. 

One of the first things the developers looked at was the tower ammunition system, giving them an infinite number of ammunition that can no longer be drained by simply throwing minion after minion at them. Of course, this did result in balance changes in regards to minion health and other aspects.

Continuing with towers, the Heroes team went on to look at fortifications. One of the things they noted was that the towers found at the back of fortifications -- known as "standalone towers" -- have little to no meaning in the game. In fact, it's often the case that by the time these towers start firing, the rest of the keep has been destroyed. As a result, the developers decided to do away with them.

Of course, balance changes had to be made, so stats from these towers have been moved to other structures. In addition, the development team revisited characters that have been known to make use of standalone towers decided to add truesight -- a feature that reveals stealth Heroes -- to keep areas.

Map mechanics

Finally, the Heroes of the Storm team took a look at map mechanics. At present, the game features 14 different battlegrounds, each with their own set of mechanics. This means that players effectively have to learn 14 different sets of rules based on timing and other features withing each. The team has decided to fix this and simplify things so there are less rules for players to deal with.

Effectively there will be two rules for players to deal with.

1. In early battlegrounds the first map mechanic will spawn in at 1 minute 30 seconds.

2. Later battlegrounds will spawn in at 3 minutes.

The developers have also decided to provide information earlier, offering players 30 second warnings on these spawns and offering earlier alerts about where new map mechanics will spawn. 

Don't worry, these changes are not designed to increase game length. The developers are going out of their way to keep games around 20 minutes long.

Mercenary Camps

Various changes are being made to camps as well, to make them more viable. These changes include:

  • Night Camp: The night wizard will emit a spell armor aura that benefits all nearby allies, minions, and mercenaries
  • Hellbat: Deceases enemy armor with every basic attack. This is stackable
  • Seige Giants: Attacks will be telegraphed so they can be dodged better

As you can see, there are quite a few changes in the pipeline for Heroes of the Storm. Hopefully, these will improve the game for fans -- and possibly make it more appealing to new players. While the panel was going on, the audience seemed fairly enthusiastic about the changes that are being made. That said, we shall see once the changes hit the server.

]]>
BlizzCon 2017: Opening Ceremony Announcements Recap https://www.gameskinny.com/bsk4k/blizzcon-2017-opening-ceremony-announcements-recap https://www.gameskinny.com/bsk4k/blizzcon-2017-opening-ceremony-announcements-recap Fri, 03 Nov 2017 15:05:57 -0400 Jonathan Moore

BlizzCon 2017 started off with a bang. Making some big announcements for some of the most-celebrated games in their catalog, such as StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch, Blizzard opened the ceremonies in Anaheim, California with some big news. 

Here's a rundown from BlizzCon 2017 so far. 

StarCraft 2 is Going Free to Play

You read that right. The Blizzard RTS is going completely free-to-play beginning November 14. This F2P version of the game will give players access to the Wings of Liberty single-player campaign, as well as all co-op commanders until Level 5. 

Players who already own Wings of Liberty will be given Heart of the Swarm for free. Access to StarCraft 2's multiplayer component will also be free to all players who achieve 10 "First Wins of the Day" against CPU opponents. 

New Heroes of the Storm Characters

WoW's Alexstrasza and Overwatch's Hanzo are confirmed to be the latest characters joining the Heroes of the Storm roster in a 2018 gameplay update.

For those who don't know, Alexstrasza is a ranged support character that can transform into a dragon, as well as use her own life force to heal her allies in combat. Hanzo will be a ranged assassin and perform scout duties, similar to those he is able to perform in Overwatch

On top of that, Blizzard announced that Heroes of the Storm will be receiving major updates, such as stealth reworks, evolved battleground mechanics, refined camera mechanics, voice chat features, and reworked matchmaking mechanics. 

Hearthstone Expansion Announced

Kobolds & Catacombs, Hearthstone's upcoming expansion, is a self-proclaimed "love-letter to that famous fantasy dungeon-crawling experience" found in games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Set to release in December, the competitive card game's newest addition will focus on adventuring through dungeons and finding precious loot. This expansion is now available for pre-purchase. 

New cards featured in the BlizzCon announcement were Marin the Fox, Crushing Walls, Recruit, and Dragon Soul. Marin the Fox will be free for anyone who logs into Hearthstone starting Monday, November 6 -- and anyone who attended BlizzCon or holds a BlizzCon ticket will receive a gold version of the card for free. 

In addition to those announcements, Blizzard also revealed that Hearthstone will be receiving a new single-player experience called Dungeon Run. According to Blizzard, this mode is: 

All about defeating bosses, collecting loot, and leveling up your character. You'll defeat eight random bosses, and each time you defeat a boss, you'll earn new cards for your deck. 

And if you lose, you lose all of your cards and start over, adding a rogue-like element to the competitive card game's Rolodex. Dungeon Run will be completely free upon its release in December. 

New Overwatch Map and Hero Announced

Blizzard also announced a brand new, amusement-park themed map for Overwatch called "Blizzard World". Sporting all things theme park, from arcade areas to rides and more, Blizzard World is a part-assault/part-payload map that will go live sometime next year. 

But what is Overwatch without its heroes? Blizzard knows the answer, so to shake things up in the Overwatch meta, the company announced a brand new hero: Moira. The game's newest support/healer, Moira is mage-type character that is highly mobile and able to dole out loads of damage in conjunction to her healing abilities. Part of the Blackwatch and having a history with Talon, Moira is described by Blizzard as "OPAF" ... and we're sure you can figure out what that means ... 

World of Warcraft Classic

In one of the biggest announcements of the day, Blizzard revealed World of Warcraft Classic. This new "addition" to the game comes in the form of a throwback, "vanilla-WoW" server.

As of this writing, there is no word on when this newest WoW feature will launch. You can read more about WoW's upcoming vanilla servers here

World of Warcraft Expansion: Battle of Azeroth

Set to release sometime in 2018, Battle of Azeroth sees the horde facing off against the Alliance for the very soul of Azeroth. The expansion will introduce new continents in Kul Tiras and Zandalar; new allied races, new zones, and increased level cap (now at 120), and more. 

You can read more about the upcoming WoW expansion here

---

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for continued coverage on BlizzCon 2017. 

]]>
Heroes of the Storm Guide: How to Build and Play Stukov https://www.gameskinny.com/pahrt/heroes-of-the-storm-guide-how-to-build-and-play-stukov https://www.gameskinny.com/pahrt/heroes-of-the-storm-guide-how-to-build-and-play-stukov Thu, 14 Sep 2017 15:49:55 -0400 ESpalding

One of the latest characters to be added to the Heroes of the Storm roster is Alexei Stukov, a well-known face from Starcraft. Although he's been around a while, Stukov is still a very popular choice when it comes to support heroes -- not far behind Rehgar and Uther.

But how do you play and build Stukov effectively? In this guide, we're going to go over his playstyle, abilities, and some popular builds that are compatible with a number of different situations. Hopefully these tips will help you get your grip on him sooner rather than later!

How to Play Stukov in HotS

Stukov is a melee healer, which would normally mean that he has to be right up in the front with the tank if he wants to be useful. But thanks to some impressive abilities, the majority of his healing and attacks can be used from a distance and have a pretty decent range on them. The one place you don't want Stukov to be is in the thick of a messy fight, because he is incredibly susceptible to crowd-control abilities.

The majority of Stukov's abilities are classed as viruses, which means they can spread. So his heals spread to other allies, and his attacks spread to other enemies. This makes him incredibly mobile and useful in a number of positions.

Healing Pathogen
Stukov's Abilities in HotS

As with all characters in Heroes of the Storm, Stukov has four normal abilities and two heroic abilities.

Normal Abilities
  • Bio-Kill Switch: Activating this detonates all of Stukov's Viruses. Each Healing Pathogen active on a friendly target heals for 500, and each Weighted Pustule on an enemy target does 100 damage and slows the target by 70% for 2 seconds.
  • Healing Pathogen: Infects an allied Hero with a healing virus that heals the target for 240 Health over 4.5 seconds. It will then spread to nearby friendlies every 0.75 seconds. It can be cast on yourself, and it can also spread to you. It will only spread to targets who are not already affected by it.
  • Weighted Pustule: Stukov hurls a pustule that impacts all enemy Heroes in its path, dealing 20 damage and slowing targets by 5% which increases to 50% over 3 seconds. Weighted Pustule will also deal an additional 80 damage when it expires or if it is removed.
  • Lurking Arm: This is a channeled ability that creates an area that silences enemies inside and deals 144 damage per second to them. It deals 50% reduced damage to non-Heroes. It lasts until canceled or interrupted.
Lurking Arm
Heroic Abilities

Stukov will be able to choose between these two abilities at level 10.

  • Flailing Swipe: This is Stukov's only real "up front and personal" attack. He will swipe 3 times in front of him dealing 50 damage to enemies hit which knocks them away. Each swipe is larger than the previous. It does have a long cooldown so you must judge when is best to use it to get maximum effect.
  • Massive Shove: As the name implies, all Stukov does with this ability is push someone -- hard. His whole arm extends to shove an enemy until they collide with terrain. It deals 200 damage and stuns them for 0.5 seconds. Because Stukov is immobile during casting, this ability will give him a bonus 50 Armor while shoving an enemy.

Stukov's Talents

The following are all the talent options available for Stukov. Level 10 talents have been left off as they are the heroic abilities above.

Level 1
  • Spine Launcher: Basic attacks become ranged, slow enemies but deal 50% less damage.
  • Fetid Touch: Reduces cooldown of Weighted Pustules.
  • Growing Infestation: Expands Lurking Arm's area of effect.
  • Poppin' Pustules: Weighted Pustules creates an area of damage.
Level 4
  • One Good Spread: Restores 40 mana and reduces the cooldown of Healing Pathogen by 2 secs.
  • Top Off: Increases heal-over-time effect by 50%.
  • Biotic Armor: Grants 50 armor as well as heals initial target.
  • Vigorous Reuptake: Increase Bio-Kill Switch's healing by 40%.
Weighted Pustule
Level 7
  • The Long Pitch: Increase the range of Weighted Pustule by 100%.
  • Within my Reach: Increase the range of Lurking Arm by 50%.
  • It Hungers: Reduces cooldown of Lurking Arm and restores mana.
  • Targeted Excision: Reduces cooldown of Bio-Kill Switch.
Level 13
  • Reactive Ballistospores: Instantly spreads a Weighted Pustule when on low health.
  • Low Blow: Lurking Arm deals 150% more damage to enemies on low health.
  • Lingering Spines: Lurking Arm persists for 1.5 secs when canceled.
  • Virulent Reaction: Roots enemies for 2 secs.
Level 16
  • Superstrain: Instantly heals a stunned ally with Healing Pathogen for 250.
  • Universal Carrier: Healing Pathogen can continually spread through Stukov but with reduced effect.
  • Pox Populi: Healing Pathogen is no longer removed when detonating Bio-Kill Switch.
  • Eye Infection: Increases the final damage of Weighted Pustule.
Level 20
  • Controlled Chaos: Greants two additional charges to Flailing Swipe.
  • Push Comes to Shove: Massive Shove travels faster.
  • Bio-Explosion Switch: Bio-Kill Switch also detonates Lurking Arm.

How to Build Stukov in HotS

Depending on your in-game circumstances and who else you have on your team, there are a few different builds you can use effectively with Stukov. Below, we'll go over one build that's heavy on healing power when you need to take a more pure support/healer role, and another that's focused around his Weighted Pustule ability when your team needs you to be more aggressive and damage-heavy.

Best Stukov Healer Build

When you've got plenty of damage on your team, and need to support more fragile characters with a ton of healing power, this is the build you'll want to go for. The amount of sustainability packed in here will let you and your teammates stay in fights longer, and will beef up your squishies' health bars while they hunt kill after kill. 

Here's the breakdown of this build:

  • Spine Launcher increases the range of your attacks so you have even more positioning options.
  • Vigorous Reuptake will give you a really big healing spike that can help your team survive.
  • Targeted Excision reduces the cooldown of Bio-Kill Switch -- which is a must for both burst damage and burst healing.
  • Massive Shove is great for putting the enemy tanks at the back of the pack so the squishier enemy damage dealers are exposed.
  • Reactive Ballistospores totally resets the cooldown on Bio-Kill Switch so you can use your viruses (and healing pathogens) much more often.
  • Pox Populi keeps your Healing Pathogen around longer -- and more heals means more survivability. 
  • Push Come to Shove is really the only choice for the end talent tier if you have taken Massive Shove at level 10. It'll buff up your Massive Shove ability to give you even more crowd control. 

Best Damage Build for Stukov (Weighted Pustule)

If your team is weighted more towards tanky characters and is sustainable enough to benefit from extra damage rather than healing, this is the build you'll want to go with. The focus on burst damage and crowd control here will make you a force to be reckoned with on the front line -- allowing you to more aggressively poke the enemy team and better control team fights while your other heroes finish them off. 

Here's the breakdown of this build:

  • Fetid Touch will reduce the cooldown of Weighted Pustule and remove the mana cost, giving you more damage to throw at the enemy.
  • One Good Spread will restore mana so you always have your abilities on hand, whether it's CC or damage.
  • The Long Pitch increases the range of Weighted Pustule so you can slow and damage opponents at even longer distances.
  • Massive Shove should (once again) be your heroic ability choice, since it offers some valuable crowd control that can take frontliners or aggressors our of the equation and help expose the more vulnerable parts of the enemy team. 
  • Reactive Ballistospores will fire off a weighted pustule when you take damage below 50% health. This will allow you to deal damage even when you're fighting from the back foot, and punish nearby enemies who might be collapsing on you or trying to take you out.
  • Pox Populi will modify your Bio-Kill Switch so that it doesn't remove your healing spores, but sets them to 3s. This isn't a damage or CC buff like most of the other choices here, but it will give you a little bit of survivability and extra healing when you and your team get into a sticky situation.
  • Push Comes to Shove is once again the only viable choice if you have taken the Massive Shove ability, and will increase your CC.

Pros and Cons of Playing Stukov

One of the big positives about playing as Stukov is his ability to produce a high and sustained healing output through Healing Pathogen and the spike heals courtesy of Bio-Kill Switch. His multi-target style of healing makes him stand out from the rest. He can remove troublesome enemies or aggressive frontliners in a flash with Massive Shove, and has an AoE Silence from Lurking Arm that is sure to cause problems. His CC and sustain give him a lot of positioning options and a powerful presence in fights. 

On the flip side, Stukov does suffer from a slow attack speed -- and some of his abilities have ridiculously long cooldowns. Without taking the relevant talents, misusing Bio-Kill Switch is almost unforgivable and can throw a fight or detract from your team's performance.

In spite of his CC abilities, Stukov is also very susceptible to crowd control because he has no counters of his own -- so even though he is a melee character, having him in melee range is quite risky. Because of that, this is a difficult character to master, and you'll want pack in a lot of practice and attention to get the playstyle down perfectly.

Is Stukov your go-to character in Heroes of the Storm? How do you play him? Maybe you have a build you'd like to share with us? Either way, we'd love to hear your opinions of this great hero! If you want more build suggestions and character breakdowns, check out our other Heroes of the Storm guides for more tips.

]]>
Bored of League of Legends? Here Are 5 Similar Games You'll Love https://www.gameskinny.com/re29v/bored-of-league-of-legends-here-are-5-similar-games-youll-love https://www.gameskinny.com/re29v/bored-of-league-of-legends-here-are-5-similar-games-youll-love Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:55:37 -0400 RichardHeimer_3915

It's no secret that League of Legends is a highly popular game with more than 100 million monthly active players. But sometimes, everyone needs a break.

As good as League of Legends might be, sometimes it's good to play some other games. Maybe you've lost a few games in a row or can't bear to be up against another smurf account player. Whatever the reason, alt-F4 LoL and download some of these awesome games!

Games Like League of Legends

DOTA 2

If you've been playing League of Legends for a while, chances are you've heard of DOTA 2 at some point. Also known as Defense of the Ancients, DOTA is the original MOBA that spawned an entire genre of games -- including League of Legends.

The original DOTA might be very dated by this point, but DOTA 2 gives the franchise that modern touch. Unlike LoL, DOTA 2 is often considered a lot harder due to its advanced mechanics. In the game, players have the ability to "deny" minions to their enemies, meaning enemies don't receive gold and their life lane is much more difficult. With quality graphics, smooth gameplay, and lots of champions to choose from, DOTA 2 is a great alternative to LoL

SMITE

If you fancy something a bit different from League of Legends, then why not try SMITE? Instead of your usual birds-eye view of the battlefield, SMITE allows you to get a much closer look at the action. With it's unique behind the shoulder camera angle. you'll get to experience the fierce battle from the eyes of your champion.

Unlike LoL, SMITE gives players a blind spot due to the 3rd person view. This means players can take advantage of other players who are too focused on killing minions. This field of view unlocks a whole range of new tactics for players, including stealth attacks and ambushes. With plenty of champions to choose from and a large community, SMITE might be the new game you're looking for.

Paragon

Similar to SMITE, Paragon is another MOBA that uses the same third-person, over-the-shoulder view. Unlike SMITE, however, the game is fairly new and is still in open beta. With just a few playable champions to choose from, the game is still in its early stages.

Featuring graphics from the Unreal engine, the game is most certainly a thing of beauty. But that's not all: with its close-up of the battlefield, you'll experience much fiercer battles and a lot more action. One of the most unique things about Paragon is the cards available in game. During matches, you gain amber, which can be used to purchase cards back at your base. By using these cards, you can follow unique and complex decks that offer a whole new level of customizability. If you want to become part of the community before the game becomes big, then now is the perfect time.

Heroes of the Storm

Developed by the creators of big titles such as Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm is one of the newest titles from the developers at Blizzard. Featuring plenty of characters from the Blizzard universe, the game incorporates champions from StarCraft and Overwatch into an awesome MOBA mash up. 

If MOBAs have become too serious for you, then this game is perfect to restore the balance. No one in the game takes it seriously, and it's all good fun. Compared to League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm has an impressive 13 maps to choose from. Each map varies in size, lane separation and jungle encampments which helps make the game even more interesting. 

If you're sick to death gritting your teeth while waiting to re-spawn then Heroes of the Storm will be a breath of fresh air.

Awesomenauts

If you're sick of 3D games and want something a bit hipper, then Awesomenauts is the perfect game for you. With an 88% rating on Steam, we can only say good things about this game. Due to the simplicity of the game, Awesomenauts is really the only MOBA you can play on consoles. The lack of 3D makes using a controller possible and opens up a whole new genre to console gamers.

Similar to the old school Worms games, this fast-paced 2D platformer is full of action and excitement. With more 20 champions to choose from and lots of ways to outsmart your opponents, you definitely won't miss League of Legends at all. In fact, you could go as far to say this is an "awesome" replacement.

---

As you can see from our list, there are plenty of excellent alternatives to League of Legends. No matter if you're looking for something completely new such as Paragon or another MOBA with a competitive ranking system, these games will make you forget LoL exists as you're transported into a new online arena.

With countless gaming communities out there, you'll never have to worry about not having any friends to play with. Head on over to their individual Reddit threads or post on their official forums, there are plenty of people who are up for a match.

Now you know five League of Legends alternatives, what are you waiting for? Get out there and give them a try!

]]>
5 Heroes We Wanted in Heroes of the Storm Yesterday https://www.gameskinny.com/mun9w/5-heroes-we-wanted-in-heroes-of-the-storm-yesterday https://www.gameskinny.com/mun9w/5-heroes-we-wanted-in-heroes-of-the-storm-yesterday Fri, 16 Jun 2017 16:20:51 -0400 Michael Dellapi

[{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-placeholder-1600-56acf.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/e/a/header-placeholder-1600-56acf.jpg","type":"slide","id":"162248","description":"

The Heroes of the Storm roster is only going to get bigger as time goes on, and we hope to see a few of the most requested characters eventually find their way into the Nexus. Each addition has brought something fresh and exciting to the way players traditionally approach MOBAs.

\n

While retaining the essence of the source characters, Blizzard is able to find characters that always feel like they belong in a strategic environment. And the developer has been very responsive towards player feedback since the game's inception, so it's only a matter of time before we see more fan favorites join the fight. 

\n

What heroes do you want to see make their way to HotS? Let me know down in the comments!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/a/r/earthwarder-d48f5.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/a/r/earthwarder-d48f5.png","type":"slide","id":"161773","description":"

1. Deathwing

\n

Without a doubt, Deathwing has been one of the most requested additions to Heroes of the Storm since the game was released. With every teaser for a new hero, we find ourselves desperately hoping that Blizzard will surprise us with The Destroyer's introduction. 

\n

Deathwing was the primary antagonist for the Cataclysm expansion in World of Warcraft, and his impact on the game is still being felt by players to this day. Deathwing is one of the most formidable threats in the World of Warcraft universe, capable of changing the landscape of the entire world with every flap of his wings. 

\n

If Deathwing makes an appearance in Heroes of the Storm, his presence would have to be completely devastating. Deathwing is known most for his ability to cause enormous, overwhelming damage that strikes fear into the hearts of any that might oppose him. Being able to harness the power of this malevolent dragon would be an opportunity that any Heroes of the Storm player would readily enjoy. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/e/l/kelthuzad-full-cf319.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/e/l/kelthuzad-full-cf319.jpg","type":"slide","id":"161753","description":"

2. Kel'Thuzad

\n

The Lord of Naxxramas is an iconic character from World of Warcraft, with a rich history that spans numerous expansions and key moments in the MMO. Fans of WoW have memories of their encounters with Kel'Thuzad to this day, and now they hope to see him join the roster. Kel'Thuzad has been a long-requested character to appear in Heroes of the Storm, and was even picked as the most desired character in a fan-made survey that came out in May. 

\n

Kel'Thuzad is a powerful lich that worked under the Lich King Arthas to spread disease and destruction to all that oppose his master. Formerly a human mage, Kel'Thuzad now uses his powers to raise the dead with his powerful necromancy. While Heroes of the Storm does feature a necromancer with the Diablo character Xul, Kel'Thuzad's unique brand of dark magic would make him a very popular choice for the MOBA. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/i/reinhardt-gameplay-a2422.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/i/reinhardt-gameplay-a2422.jpg","type":"slide","id":"161752","description":"

3. Reinhardt

\n

Reinhardt stands as one of the most likable members of the Overwatch cast and an equally good candidate as a Warrior in Heroes of the Storm

\n

Based on his kit alone, Reinhardt seems like he would be a perfect fit within any Heroes of the Storm team composition. His wide-reaching hammer can devastate clumps of minions and heroes alike, and his shield would be an entirely unique ability in the MOBA. His defensive and offensive abilities would allow him to protect his allies against an onslaught of projectiles before he dives hammer-first into the enemy team.

\n

Although Reinhardt's dash at first seems similar to Diablo's existing Shadow Charge, Reinhardt's boosters would give an interesting effect to how he would join a fight. Rather than target a hero directly, Reinhardt would be able to adjust who his target is on the fly as he barrels toward the enemy. Out of all the characters in Overwatch, Reinhardt is the most desired character to join the fight -- and it isn't hard to see why. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/i/cain-face-dd4e8.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/i/cain-face-dd4e8.jpg","type":"slide","id":"161751","description":"

4. Deckard Cain

\n

Deckard Cain is simultaneously one of the most recognized names in the Diablo franchise and the most unlikely face you would expect to see in a 5v5 brawl. However, this does not stop fans from desperately wanting to see the scholar in the Heroes of the Storm roster.

\n

Deckard Cain is most known for his near infinite wisdom throughout almost all of the Diablo games. Cain dedicated his life to studying the nature of the angels and demons that found themselves at odds with the mortal plane. As such, players could visit Cain for any additional insight into the rich lore of the game. While he lacks combat abilities, Cain uses wisdom as a weapon.

\n

In terms of his role in Heroes of the Storm, Deckard Cain would be a decidedly interesting character to see act as a support. Due to his lack of fighting experience, Cain can likely use his research abilities to aid his allies. Whether it be giving insight into the weaknesses of adversaries or offering improved "loot" to friends, Deckard Cain would be one of the most unique additions to the Heroes of the Storm roster. 

\n

 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/j/u/n/junkrat-gameplay-6a87c.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/j/u/n/junkrat-gameplay-6a87c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"161599","description":"

5. Junkrat

\n

Junkrat is a loud-mouthed demolitions expert with a penchant for mayhem, madness, and above all: explosions. In Overwatch, Junkrat's primary role is to zone opponents off key points with his vast array of traps and explosives, making him a perfect candidate for being the next "Specialist" in Heroes of the Storm.

\n

Each hero in Heroes of the Storm is designed to stand out, and Junkrat's grenade launcher is full of opportunity for completely changing how players approach MOBAs. Junkrat's primary firing ability in Overwatch sends out a grenade in an arc that either detonates on impact or explodes after a short delay. An auto attack with a delay -- or even a potential to miss -- would fit perfectly with Junkrat's chaotic playstyle. 

\n

Junkrat's absurd personality and erratic mechanics would ensure that no game that features him feels the same as the last, providing unbelievable entertainment for those playing him, and even those playing against him. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/s/hos20-logo-hots2-a33f8.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/h/o/s/hos20-logo-hots2-a33f8.jpg","type":"slide","id":"161861","description":"

With the release of Heroes of the Storm 2.0, Blizzard has been pumping out new characters to join their MOBA's roster faster than ever before. With each teaser, fan speculation reaches new heights trying and predict who the next hero will be. While assumptions and prognostications may not always reach reality, there is still potential for dozens of characters that we would want to see appear in the game next.

\n

This list catalogs five of the most desired characters from Blizzard's rich game library that we hope to see join Heroes of the Storm next. 

"}]]]>
Malthael Confirmed for Heroes of the Storm https://www.gameskinny.com/ysy0m/malthael-confirmed-for-heroes-of-the-storm https://www.gameskinny.com/ysy0m/malthael-confirmed-for-heroes-of-the-storm Sun, 04 Jun 2017 14:34:59 -0400 Michael Dellapi

Blizzard has officially announced that Malthael, the Aspect of Death will be the next playable hero in Heroes of the Storm.

Malthael is a melee assassin that behaves differently to many of the other assassins in the Heroes of the Storm roster. Instead of bursting down priority targets, the Aspect of Death looks to wither down his opponents over time. Malthael’s kit is based on his trait “Reaper’s Mark,” a debuff triggered by each of the hero’s basic attacks. Reaper’s Mark depletes a percentage of the enemy’s maximum health every second for four seconds, and it looks like it will be an excellent way for getting through tank characters with ease.

The bulk of Malthael’s survivability comes from his ability “Soul Rip,” dealing damage to all enemies afflicted by Malthael’s trait and healing the hero based on the number of targets hit. To close the gap with fleeing foes, Malthael can use his “Wraith Strike” to teleport through a marked enemy and reapply the debuff again. Finally, Malthael can mark large groups with his “Death Shroud,” a wave of deadly mist that affects everything in its path.

Malthael’s choices for Heroic Abilities “Tormented Souls” and “Last Rites” provide the hero with additional survivability or immense finishing power, respectively. “Tormented Souls” surrounds Malthael with a wave of souls that applies Reaper’s Mark to everyone hit while granting him additional armor. “Last Rites,” conversely, deals 50% of the target’s missing health in damage after a 2-second delay. What makes this ability particularly potent is that the cooldown is reduced each time a hero is killed by the ability, down to a possible 15-second cooldown.

With this information alone, it looks like refreshing Reaper’s Mark on your enemies will be an essential part of Malthael’s kit, ensuring that his sustained damage is distributed to all members of the enemy team. With the assassin’s combination of survivability and mobility, Malthael looks to be a formidable asset to any team composition.

To learn more about the Aspect of Death, you can look at the full hero announcement on the official Heroes of the Storm site.

 

]]>
D.Va Receives New Skin From Playing Heroes Of The Storm https://www.gameskinny.com/1d57p/dva-receives-new-skin-from-playing-heroes-of-the-storm https://www.gameskinny.com/1d57p/dva-receives-new-skin-from-playing-heroes-of-the-storm Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:47:55 -0400 Dan Roemer

To celebrate the launch of its massive Heroes of the Storm 2.0 update, Blizzard just released a trailer that showcases new content for both HotS and Overwatch -- plus a fresh skin for D.Va that players can get for trying their hand at the revamped MOBA.

The trailer shows Genji fighting a Diablo, when suddenly D.Va appears to help him out. This video doesn't give us any information on when the event is happening, or how D.Va plays in Heroes of the Storm. But in order to take part, you'll have to boot up the game and enter the "Nexus Challenge 2.0" in order to participate once the event has started.

 

The event itself will last four weeks, with different rewards each week -- including loot boxes for both games, the potential to earn previous awards from the last Nexus Challenge event, and plenty of other rewards as highlighted in the trailer above.

Once dates are announced, we'll be sure to let you know. But for everything Blizzard related, stay tuned to GameSkinny!

]]>
Heroes of the Storm 2.0: Hanamura Map Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/so3iy/heroes-of-the-storm-20-hanamura-map-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/so3iy/heroes-of-the-storm-20-hanamura-map-guide Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:37:38 -0400 Sergey_3847

With the release of Heroes of the Storm 2.0, Blizzard has introduced a new map that was adapted from Overwatch -- Hanamura. It’s a two-lane Battlegrounds map that utilizes mercenaries and objectives to gain victory. Each team will have a payload to defend, and thus use it to destroy the enemy’s core.

Hanamura is quite a challenging map -- and since you can’t attack the cores directly, a new kind of approach is required. This guide will help you take advantage of the most important strategic points of the map, and choose the best heroes for effective assaults.

How to Escort Payload in Hanamura

Payloads usually spawn on each team’s side locations, and they have specific paths to follow. You must escort your payload until it reaches its destination, and the more heroes that escort the payload the faster it’ll move.

If three allied heroes manage to stay close to the payload, it will move really, really fast -- and this will provide a massive advantage over the enemy team. As soon as it reaches the platform, the payload will make one shot at the enemy’s core, and then it will retrieve itself. But don’t worry, the next one will spawn just a couple of minutes later.

Each core has 7 HP, so you need to make seven shots in total. But getting the payloads to shoot the cores as quickly as possible is not your only way to win in this Battleground. We'll talk a bit more about other tactics you can use later in this guide.

There are a few tricks that you need to be aware of...

First, each team can escort up to two payloads at the same time, so try to take advantage of this mechanic. 

Second, try to destroy enemy forts on the opposite sides of the map. Each destroyed fort will add extra shot to your payload -- so instead of shooting just once, it will be able to do two shots in a row.

Lastly, as soon as you’re done delivering your payload, you can try and prevent the enemy team from delivering theirs. Just go at them and provoke a fight in order to prevent their payload from moving any further.

The Mercenaries and the Mega Enforcer

There are three new mercenary camps on the Hanamura map, and the big boss that stands in the very center. If your team captures one of the merc camps, instead of attacking the enemies they will grant you special power-ups:

  • Dragon Spirits: Seek out enemy heroes for 5 sec.
  • Turret: Grants a turret that can be set on your payload for protection.
  • Healing Pulse: Restores health and mana of your team for 15 sec.

The big boss of the battleground is the Mega Enforcer that spawns every five minutes after the match starts. The only real danger that you should be aware of when approaching the merc boss is his purple AOE attack that can really mess you up.

But other than that it shouldn’t be too hard. And if you defeat him, he will produce one point of damage to your enemy’s core. So it is another cool tactics that you can use to win the match-up.

Best Heroes for the Hanamura Map

Genji

Genji, the new hero from Overwatch, will be extremely effective on this map. He is very mobile and has tons of abilities that are based on speed of movement. He can quickly get to the payload by using his Pathfinder talent, or swiftly get rid of the enemy heroes with the help of Swift Strike and Dragon Blade abilities.

Global Heroes

Another set of heroes that would be the number one choice for Hanamura are Global Heroes -- Falstad, Brightwing, or Abathur. All of them can quickly teleport through the map, which will allow them to gain better control of their own payload, and check on the enemy’s payloads as well.

The Lost Vikings

As for supporting heroes, it would probably be a good idea to involve The Lost Vikings. They can take a good care of the payload’s pathway and clear off the unwanted guests that may create obstacles on your way.

Rexxar

If you’re looking for one effective hero to play with, then consider Rexxar. He is literally the only hero in HotS that can make the payload move twice as fast with the help of his companions, such as Misha and Spirit.

---

Hanamura can definitely get a bit chaotic at times, but there are many points of return involved in it as well. So after some practice it should be easier for you to get your first wins on it.

Have you had the chance to try out the new map? Have you enjoyed the experience? Share your thoughts on Hanamura in the comments section.

]]>
Use These Heroes of the Storm 2.0 Level Calculators to Plan Your Update Loot Boxes https://www.gameskinny.com/6gkwx/use-these-heroes-of-the-storm-20-level-calculators-to-plan-your-update-loot-boxes https://www.gameskinny.com/6gkwx/use-these-heroes-of-the-storm-20-level-calculators-to-plan-your-update-loot-boxes Sun, 16 Apr 2017 15:33:22 -0400 ReverendShmitty

In a recent update on their blog, Blizzard announced Heroes of the Storm will have a new player progression system after their big 2.0 update.

"As a result [of the update], the XP you’ll earn by completing games will now only affect your Hero progression. Whenever you gain a new Hero level, your overall Player Level will increase as well."

Players have been scrambling for answers, with many hypothesizing how their player levels will be affected. Others went to forums to compare theories and craft calculators, both to estimate where they will be, how many loot boxes they will get, and how to min-max to get even more.

Discussed in detail here, Blizzard explained how loot boxes will be awarded post-update and upon leveling up. Combine this with the level adjustments and players could gain as many as 70 loot boxes on day one.

The blog post went on to say:

"After closely examining the rates that Heroes were leveling-up in the previous progression system, we found they were commonly progressing through the lower levels far too quickly... On the flip side, climbing through the upper Hero levels in the previous system could take hours and hours of play to earn a single level. Leveling up feels great, and we want to make sure that happens much more often for your high-level Heroes."

To address this issue, Blizzard "slightly increased" low-level XP requirements while cutting high-level requirements by "75-80%."

This means heroes above level 5 are expected to gain a level or more, while heroes below that will never drop levels; instead remaining where they are with 50% of the required experience to get to the next level.

Where this really gets interesting is the high level heroes. Level 10 heroes are expected to climb to level 15, while level 20 heroes will have an astonishing leap to level 55. That's a lot of levels.

Which means a lot of loot boxes.

Now that you know what they're changing, take a look at your own levels, and the fan-made calculator below to get a good estimate on what your payout could be:

And don't worry too much about them not being 100% accurate. A Blizzard employee stated on Reddit that some of the calculators he's seen around the Web were pretty close to their own. It's amazing what the gaming community can do when they work together.

What do you think of the Heroes of the Storm 2.0 update? Do you have other calculators you like more? Let us know in the comments below!

]]>
Heroes of the Storm 2.0: Pre-Launch Overview of All Upcoming Changes https://www.gameskinny.com/8iibn/heroes-of-the-storm-20-pre-launch-overview-of-all-upcoming-changes https://www.gameskinny.com/8iibn/heroes-of-the-storm-20-pre-launch-overview-of-all-upcoming-changes Thu, 13 Apr 2017 11:35:51 -0400 Sergey_3847

Heroes of the Storm is not the usual MOBA. It gathers all of Blizzard's famous characters and makes them fight each other on the Battlegrounds. This is a great idea, but it couldn’t make HotS the most popular MOBA on the market… yet. Blizzard is fully aware of this, and that is why they decided to deliver lots of new content that will revolutionize the formula.

Recently the developer announced Heroes of the Storm 2.0, which incorporates years of research and design decisions that should make the new iteration of the game much more attractive to its audiences. The team behind HotS looked outside the box in order to strengthen the weaker sides of the genre and bring something new to the table.

With all this we can now look at what’s coming on April 18, when the launch event for Heroes of the Storm 2.0 will begin just before the full release of the playable update on April 25.

Introducing Heroes of the Storm 2.0

The biggest change that comes to Heroes 2.0 does not touch the gameplay aspect -- instead, it influences the systems that make up the gameplay. The first and most important is the progression system that will remove the player level cap, and instead gives you the sum of all the levels you’ve gained previously.

The next one will make many people happy. The new loot system will open tons of cosmetic rewards to all players. Now with every new level, all players will get loot chests with rare, epic, or legendary items. This reward system also introduces a new type of currency, Gems, which can be purchased with real money.

During the launch of Heroes 2.0 we will also have the chance to play as the new hero -- Cassia, the young Amazon that first appeared in Diablo II. But first, let’s take a deeper look at all the upcoming changes in the progression system.

New Progression 2.0 System

The new level up system allows you to progress indefinitely! There are no limits to your journey, and the loot chests will never stop coming if you keep leveling up your hero. But the best thing is that you don’t need to gain more XP after each level -- as soon as you reach player level 12, every level after that will require the same amount of points as the previous one.

All this means that you don’t need to grind more XP for each new level, and the progression will be quick with tons of fun. If you gain bonuses, then the progression becomes even faster and may only take up to several hours before you reach your next milestone.

If you have more than one hero, then your player level will consist of the sum of all of your heroes’ XP points. This system will better showcase the skill of each individual player rather than of every separate hero. On top of that, you will get a hero-specific item as a reward every time you cross 10 levels.

New Loot 2.0 System

Loot chests with four random items are coming to Heroes 2.0! They can be either earned through leveling up or through purchases made with gems. Such loot chests may even include an entire hero, so you never know what’s coming inside one of those.

There are certain milestones that guarantee items of certain rarities. For example, every 5 levels you will get a Rare item, every 25 levels you will get an Epic, while Common items will be present in every single chest you earn.

If you don’t like the contents of your loot chest, then for 250 gold you can re-roll the chest and get new items. You can do this up to three times -- so be sure that you re-roll stuff that you really don’t need, as it will be gone for good.

If you unlock duplicate items, they will be converted to shards that can be used to craft items you’re missing in your collection.

New Collections 2.0 System

So where do you keep all this stuff that you open from the loot chests or craft with the help of shards? Blizzard introduces a new tab in the Heroes 2.0 menu -- Collections. It will contain every single item that you own or would like to buy.

There are six types of items that you can get from your loot chests and save in your collection:

Announcers

Some of your favorite heroes can now announce your achievements on the Battlegrounds in a fancy way.

Voice Lines

These lines can be used to either cheer up your allies or taunt your enemies during battles.

Banners

A banner can be set on the battleground of the fallen enemy, which will showcase your dominance over their territory.

Sprays

This feature was inspired by Overwatch sprays, and can be used to mark your ground with some fancy symbolism.

Emojis

All heroes will now get their own collection of emojis that can be used in chat to better express the players’ emotions.

Portraits

Each hero also gets an individual portrait in your profile screen.

As you can see, there is a boatload of new and exciting cosmetic content coming to Heroes 2.0. For this reason, Blizzard added a Loadout panel that will help you configure your hero’s appearance, mounts, sprays and more.

New Currency 2.0 System

As I've already mentioned,players will now have access to two new currencies in addition to gold -- Gems and Shards. Gold keeps serving the same purpose as before. You can buy heroes and re-roll loot chests, while gems serve as a virtual currency that equals real money.

You can use gems to directly purchase not only heroes and loot chests, but also separate items and stimpacks. All new players will get 1000 gems when they reach level 5, and there will be other rewards included during your heroes’ progress.

Shards, on the other hand, can be earned only through duplicates from the loot chests, and can only be used to craft cosmetic items for your hero.

New Hero: Cassia

Why Cassia, you may ask? This is Blizzard's way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Diablo series by introducing a new hero -- the young Amazon warrior from Diablo II.

She is a powerful Assassin that can withstand huge amounts of damage due to her hero trait, Avoidance. It allows Cassia to withstand up to 65% of damage against any basic attacks. However, there is one condition -- she must be moving unmounted.

This hero has two heroic abilities and three primary abilities. Here they are:

Ball Lightning (R)

Cassia shoots a ball of lightning that bounces up to 6 times off of each of the enemy targets, dealing 200 damage in total.

Valkyrie (R)

Cassia summons a rushing Valkyrie that hits all the enemies on its way, deals 190 damage to the first enemy hero hit, and stuns that hero for 0.5 seconds.

Lightning Fury (Q)

Cassia shoots a lightning javelin that hits the first enemy for 175 damage, and then splits into two and deals another 175 damage to all other enemies on its way.

Blinding Light (W)

This ability allows cassia to blind enemies for 2 seconds, and they become more vulnerable to her attacks by 15%.

Fend (E)

Cassia charges at enemies and deals damage to each of them every 0.25 seconds, although the non-hero enemies receive only 50% of that damage.

Gameplay Basics

Cassia is not an easy hero to play and will probably not suit completely new players. One of her best abilities is Blinding Light. She can use it on nearby enemies so your teammates start dealing a lot of damage to them in that short period of 2 seconds. It can also be used defensively, so having Cassia in co-op would be really useful.

In case you need to finish off a group of enemies, her Ball Lightning ability will come in very handy. It can quickly kill damaged heroes and grant you a victory.

---

That's all for the upcoming changes in the Heroes of the Storm 2.0. If you can’t wait to play the game, you can join beta servers that are currently available for playtesting in your Blizzard client.

Do you like the changes of the Heroes 2.0? What do you think about the new hero Cassia? Leave your feedback in the comments section.

]]>
Diablo II Amazon Cassia to Join Heroes of the Storm https://www.gameskinny.com/nzt9z/diablo-ii-amazon-cassia-to-join-heroes-of-the-storm https://www.gameskinny.com/nzt9z/diablo-ii-amazon-cassia-to-join-heroes-of-the-storm Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:26:02 -0400 Perchance to Game

Alongside the unveiling of Heroes 2.0 update, Blizzard also announced its next champion for Heroes of the Storm -- Cassia. Hailing back to the Amazon character from Diablo II, this highly-requested champion will be joining the fray later this month.

Back in 2015, Blizzard tried to assure players that an Amazon-themed skin for Nova didn't mean that a standalone Amazonian hero would never be in the game. Cassia's release should finally lay to rest the fear that certain skins can mean a hero's exclusion from Heroes of the Storm.

Cassia Combat Style and Abilities

In Blizzard's Hero Spotlight video for Cassia, we learn that she'll be a ranged assassin who excels against auto-attacking heroes. Her kit grants her a strong laning presence, as well as some powerful maneuvers that will let her pressure and disrupt enemies. 

Passive: Avoidance

While moving unmounted, Cassia gains 65 physical armor against Heroic basic attacks, reducing the damage taken by 65% 

This hero trait lends itself well to trading attacks in lane, which will allow Cassie to potentially outlast opposing heroes whose damage primarily comes from basic attacks -- like Raynor, Valla, or Illidan.  But you'll need to be wary of poke damage spellcasters such as Chromie, Jaina, or Azmodan.

Q: Lightning Fury

Hurl a lightning javelin that deals 175 damage to the first enemy hit and splits into two lightning bolts that deal 175 damage to enemies in their path.

This will be your primary source of poke damage, keeping you at a safe distance from melee ability damage assassins (like Kerrigan, Greymane or Alarak).

Lightning javelin

W: Blinding Light

After 0.5 seconds, Blind enemies in the target area for two seconds. Passive: Cassia deals increased damage to Blinded targets.

This is another ability made to shut down auto-attackers, but it will do next to nothing against long-range casters if you are unable to capitalize on the damage increase.

Blinding Light

E: Fend

Charge at an enemy, and upon arriving channel for up to 1.5 seconds, dealing damage in front of Cassia every 0.25 seconds.  Deals 50% reduced damage to non-heroes.

Despite the damage reduction to non-heroes, this sounds like Cassia's primary method of wave clear.  It's an adequate fallback when enemy mercs and minions are closing in on your fort or keep. But really, you'll want to leave the farming to better suited allies.  

For optimal use against enemy heroes, have a tank body-block for you while you maximize your channel time in team fights.   

Fend

Heroic: Ball Lightning

Throw a ball of lightning at an enemy Hero that bounces up to six times between nearby enemy Heroes and Cassia, dealing heavy damage to enemies.

League of Legends players will find this attack similar to Ryze's Spell Flux ability -- bouncing between the player and surrounding enemies. Naturally, you'll need to use this ability to best effect in team fights, especially when a large component of the opposing team is relatively fragile (and lacking in spell armor).

Ball Lightning

Heroic: Valkyrie

Summon a Valkyrie that rushes to Cassia after 0.75 seconds, pulling the first enemy Hero hit, dealing 190 damage and Stunning them for 0.5 seconds at the end of her path.  The Valkyrie knocks back all other enemy Heroes in her way. 

This is a good hard crowd control ability, which will be best used to drag backline heroes out of position -- disrupting their team's formation in the process.  Try to make sure the rest of your team is ready to follow up, though, since Cassia seems more adept at sustained damage rather than burst damage.

This could also be good for securing a kill on an escaping foe.

Valkyrie

Cassia will soon enter beta testing for players who are interested in trying her out. Only time will tell if her kit and combat style lives up to the expectations of Diablo II fans. 

What are your thoughts on Cassia?  Which other Diablo II characters are you hoping will enter the Nexus?  Comment and let us know!

]]>
Blizzard Announces Heroes of the Storm 2.0; Beta Begins Today https://www.gameskinny.com/5o7d9/blizzard-announces-heroes-of-the-storm-20-beta-begins-today https://www.gameskinny.com/5o7d9/blizzard-announces-heroes-of-the-storm-20-beta-begins-today Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:56:04 -0400 Perchance to Game

Today, Blizzard announced the upcoming arrival of Heroes of the Storm 2.0 -- which will bring a boatload of new game content and changes. The beta for this update began today, so players who want to test it out before it hits full release can do so. 

The 2.0 update brings a new battleground, an overhauled player progression and rewards system, along with loot chests packed with new types of rewards (like announcer packs, voice lines, and more).  

Blizzard will be doling out more information throughout April regarding the new map and heroes -- including Cassia, who is based on the Amazon from Diablo II.  The developer has earmarked May 4th as the day for more details. While a precise date for the 2.0 update is not yet available, details for a launch event will be released April 18th.

So what's coming in the HotS 2.0 Update?

New Progression Systems

One of the biggest changes players will see is more rewarding out-of-game leveling for both the player and individual heroes. Player level will be the sum of accumulated hero levels, both of which are no longer capped.  Each hero level will add one to your overall player level -- allowing for bigger rewards every time you level up.

The rate of this experience gain has also been significantly adjusted to make progression more meaningful at lower levels, and less of a grind at higher levels. The requirements for the latter have been reduced by approximately 75 to 80 percent. So that master skin you've been chasing is suddenly way closer.

More and Better Loot

Master skins and portraits won't be the only thing players will have to look forward to when climbing the experience curve.  Aside from those two things, rewards were decidedly lackluster prior to this update. With the arrival of 2.0, though, all content in the game can potentially be unlocked through experience gain -- including heroes skins, mounts, and more. 

Banners, loot chests, and in-game currency will also be made available as player rewards. Banners are special animations you can activate when completing an objective in game -- taking a mercenary camp, destroying a fort/keep, or ruining an enemy's core.

Overwatch players will recognize the loot chests awarded at certain milestones, which contain some familiar content like voiceover additions and sprays. But these chests will also contain some items unique to the Nexus. On top of that, gems and shards (used for crafting) will begin appearing in loot chests as well. 

 

 

 

 

 

To join the beta, access the Heroes of the Storm tab in your Blizzard launcher and select/install "Heroes 2.0" in the region selector.

What do you think of the update? Is it as "game-defining" as Blizzard claims? Comment and let us know!

]]>
Blizzard Plans to Cease Support for Games on Windows XP and Vista https://www.gameskinny.com/aj0cz/blizzard-plans-to-cease-support-for-games-on-windows-xp-and-vista https://www.gameskinny.com/aj0cz/blizzard-plans-to-cease-support-for-games-on-windows-xp-and-vista Sun, 19 Feb 2017 10:23:01 -0500 Nam T. Bui

Blizzard recently announced that they will end support for all of their titles on Windows XP and Windows Vista, operating platforms that are currently entering their 16th and 11th years, respectively. 

In a statement posted to the Diablo III forum, the developer announced that they will no longer support World of WarcraftStarCraft IIDiablo IIIHearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm on those platforms beginning later this year. A definite date was not provided by Blizzard as of the time of this writing.  

With the release of three new Windows OS (Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10) over the last decade, the company believes the majority of their player base has already upgraded to these newer versions of Microsoft's operating system. Blizzard is currently planning for a staggered schedule (of which, again, there is no definite initiation date) to phase out Windows XP and Windows Vista support. 

Windows XP is considered to be one of the most successful operating systems in Microsoft family. Despite Microsoft ceasing support of the OS back in 2012, its popularity had helped the OS live on amongst adopters. Furthermore, Windows XP has been widely considered the most compatible OS for older Windows-based games than later operating systems like Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more information regarding Blizzard's roll-out plan for ceasing game support on Windows XP and Windows Vista. 

]]>
Never Played Online Games? Try These 7 to Get Started Off Right. https://www.gameskinny.com/4p2hp/never-played-online-games-try-these-7-to-get-started-off-right https://www.gameskinny.com/4p2hp/never-played-online-games-try-these-7-to-get-started-off-right Fri, 27 Jan 2017 05:06:28 -0500 Eliot Lefebvre

Let's face it -- online games can be intimidating to someone who hasn't played them before. It's easy enough to say that they allow you to interact with huge numbers of people from around the world. But for people who haven't played the games before that means that you're going to be teaming up with people who have more experience, predetermined ideas about how you're supposed to act, and (perhaps most importantly) who will not be happy if you don't do things correctly.

Still, everyone needs to start somewhere, and the bright side is that there are lots of great places to start -- more than there have ever been. A good introductory game should be accessible to new players and straightforward to play from the start. But it should also offer something unique to the genre, and provide a good teaching tool for something that players will need even if they choose to explore other online titles. The following games may or may not be your favorites, but they're a good way to bring your friends into online gaming.

1. World of Warcraft

Even if World of Warcraft isn't as big as it was a few years ago, it's still huge -- and the continued series of rolling updates the developers make to the game ensure that each given expansion is a good place to jump in. Players who join in now can easily boost up to 100, get an introductory tutorial, and start in on the most recent expansion content immediately. So you don't even have to worry about outleveling your friends if it's your main game. And there's still a lot to like here, along with a low difficulty curve for early content that slowly introduces you to the concepts you'll need for later.

The biggest drawback to introducing your friends here is, well, there's a lot of critical mass that's been built up in WoW over the years. More than any other game on this list, the culture of this game has become deeply entrenched. Still, that's not something that should stop you, and you could do worse for your first stop on a tour of online gaming.

2. Heroes of the Storm

By contrast, Heroes of the Storm is not the "default" MOBA like WoW. But it offers something that League of Legends does not: a strong emphasis on teamwork. Unlike most other MOBAs, Heroes of the Storm makes most achievements collective goals, with experience earned as part of a group effort and most major battlefield objectives requiring a team to secure.

That difference is going to be felt. In LoL, a more skilled player might outright walk away from new players simply because they don't need to coordinate with the new player, and thus a newcomer is left feeling like they're left to their own devices. In HotS, that new player is a part of the team right away, and the team needs everyone to work in unison to be successful. Rather than leaving new folks as a sideline, they become a focus.

3. Marvel Heroes

At this point, roughly 150% of all films made are superhero movies, so odds are that pretty much everyone has at least passing familiarity with bits and pieces of the Marvel universe. That makes this free-to-play ARPG romp the sort of thing that almost everyone can jump into with minimal explanation. If you're fairly new to online games, you might need to be told what things like threat and healing are all about, but you don't need to be told what Captain America does. You've probably picked that up through cultural osmosis alone.

There's also a ton of content here and a lot of things for new players to cut their teeth on, so you can get an idea of what it's like to play one of these click-'em-up loot festivals while playing with other people. That definitely serves as a boon before moving on to more baroque titles or other points of interest.

4. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Did I say that 150% of all movies were superhero films? Because you have to allow for the now-yearly Star Wars movie (films which have, thus far, been remarkably good), so everyone has at least passing familiarity with that. And if you want to show how narrative can work in an MMO, you can do worse than playing a game which starts your new character off complete with a classic Star Wars narration crawl.

Yes, the game is set long before the movies during a wholly different era, and it's not exactly a perfect conversion. But this is the sort of game that introduces the idea that these worlds have people in them, and more importantly that you can have a character who matters and does neat stuff. That's not always easy to come by, and it provides a nice bridge to other titles with a strong narrative focus... or just a chance to lightsaber lots of Sith in the face. Either one.

5. Neverwinter

Action MMOs have become more and more common lately, and Neverwinter is a pretty good example of the type. It's straightforward enough that you don't need a grounding in Dungeons & Dragons to understand the broad strokes of the setting, and it gives a sense of what it's like to play a full-featured MMO with a more active combat system.

It also has some wonderfully straightforward options for characters. Want to be a fighter with a big two-handed weapon? Great Weapon Fighter, right there. You still have plenty of opportunities to customize your character, yes, but outside of Marvel Heroes no other game is quite as good at telling you exactly what a given character should be doing in play.

6. Trove

If you had asked me back when this game launched, I would have thought that a game that looked for all the world like a kid-friendly action-based Minecraft clone didn't have a bright future. But the thing is that Trove is far, far better than that might suggest. It's all of those things, yes, but it's also like a handful of delicious candy. It rewards you for picking up and playing, even for a bit, and it has never met a concept so silly that it won't pick it up and run with it.

Equally fun? It's not just action. You can play the game as nothing more than a run-and-gun romp, but you can also spend time making intricate creations for other players to enjoy. There's lots of cool stuff going down on all levels, tons of player creation to indulge yourself with or just admire from afar. You can play the game how you'd like and interact with others through means other than just beating up baddies together.

7. Grand Theft Auto Online

Here's a fun fact: odds are not bad that your friend already owns this game, since it's the online component of Grand Theft Auto V. And while that may not sound like much, there's tons of DLC, side activities, and stuff to do with others in a game world. It may not be a full-featured MMO, but in some ways it's the best way to show off what an online game can be.

Have you ever been playing Grand Theft Auto V and thought that a bank heist would be even more fun with all of your friends alongside you, causing chaos together? That's what Grand Theft Auto Online is meant to deliver, and while it's not perfect, it puts paid to the concept. That alone earns it a spot on the list.

That wraps up all the games that we'd recommend to players who've never entered the online world, but what about you? Got any others that you think are perfect for newbies? Let me know in the comments!

]]>
Dustin Browder Steps Down as Heroes Director; Alan Dabiri to Take Over https://www.gameskinny.com/3djxi/dustin-browder-steps-down-as-heroes-director-alan-dabiri-to-take-over https://www.gameskinny.com/3djxi/dustin-browder-steps-down-as-heroes-director-alan-dabiri-to-take-over Fri, 09 Dec 2016 04:42:14 -0500 Lydia M

With progression of major titles comes transitions.  And on Thursday, Heroes of the Storm director Dustin Browder announced he will be stepping down from his lead position. Heroes technical director, Alan Dabiri, will be replacing him. 

2017 will be a huge year for Heroes of the Storm, given the revamp of their eSports division, extensions from the newly introduced brawl mode, and more and more heroes added every couple of weeks. Dabiri is no stranger to these additions, as he was key component in the creation of the Heroes Brawl mode.

But Brawl won't be his only focus as he takes the lead chair. Dabiri tells Polygon he has big plans for the eSports scene as well.

We’re adding a tournament draft mode with draft observer support. It’s been a long time coming, and we’ll be glad to finally get this into the game. This also includes an early version of a ‘hero swap’ phase to support eSports in custom games.

Dabiri goes on to say the team will continue to look into in-game match spectating as well. 

Browder has been an important voice in the Heroes community as a strong connection between the corporate side of HotS and the true fans of the game. With Twitter response marathons for virtually any question under the sun, to game updates and a look inside the developer team, his shoes will certainly be difficult to fill. 

He took time in his announcement to show respect for the game he's been lead of for three years. 

The Heroes of the Storm team is one of the best game teams I have ever had the honor of serving on. I cannot believe how much work and love went into turning what started as a tiny mod into the epic experience that it has become today. And the team just continues to pour their passion, dedication, and expertise into patches, updates, and awesome new game features. 2017 is going to be a huge year for Heroes of the Storm, with new Heroes, Battlegrounds, a massive progression update, improvements to our ladder and matchmaking systems, new social systems, new Brawls, and more.

Browder will be staying in the Blizzard family, but it's unclear what project he'll be working on next.

]]>
3 MOBAs That Stole League of Legends Fans in 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/sayv1/3-mobas-that-stole-league-of-legends-fans-in-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/sayv1/3-mobas-that-stole-league-of-legends-fans-in-2016 Sun, 04 Dec 2016 04:00:01 -0500 Kris Cornelisse (Delfeir)

2016 saw League of Legends start out on the back foot, in a way. Changes to the ranked formula earned a lot of ire from players. Continual reworks to the jungle and questionable balancing decisions are nothing new, but it seemed that this year more people finally decided enough was enough.

As such, for the first time in a long time, the dominance of League of Legends seemed to waver briefly. The massive success and huge surge in popularity of Overwatch upon its release didn’t help matters, either. As a result, it seemed like a number of players chose to jump ship to Blizzard’s shooter, if not entirely other games. More than ever, some of the niche MOBAs were able to pull these departing players into their fold and show that yes, there’s more to the genre than Summoner’s Rift.

This might have been temporary, however, since once the dust settled, LoL was back at the top of the PC game hierarchy. Sure, there are still problems and questionable decisions going on, but that doesn’t stop the game from being in a much-improved state. Despite this, other MOBAs are looking stronger than ever following the exodus.

If you’re looking for an alternative to League, consider some of these games!

Battlerite

The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre is hardly able to be expressed more purely than it is in Battlerite. It’s all there in the genre title: this is an arena where you fight to the death purely based on your skills. No objectives. No lanes. Just raw skirmishes and all-out brawls.

For many who have come from League, the comparative simplicity belied by the mechanical expertise required is a breath of fresh air. With nothing else to worry about aside from your talent selection each round, you're able to focus on mastering your character and nothing else.

I’ve covered Battlerite before, and if you haven’t had a chance to play it yet, it’s well worth your time. If the price point is stopping you, keep in mind that it’ll be going Free to Play before too much longer!

Heroes of the Storm

My love for Heroes of the Storm is well documented, and I’ve been advocating for more people to give it a shot since the early days. What's more, 2016 has been a great year for the game, with a slew of interesting new heroes, new maps and solid gameplay improvements. Now more than ever, people are finally starting to sit up and take notice.

It might look a bit simplistic to League players at first, which admittedly it is -- few of the heroes are as mechanically intensive as their counterparts. But that doesn’t mean you can't outplay your counterparts; much of the ability to do so comes from the frequently occurring map objectives and making clever use of them at the right time.

The lack of farming and items means that the game is simple to access but hard to master, and talent choices still make sure that you can tailor make your character to fit the situation. Couple that with shorter game length and a push toward constant brawls and action, and you have an awesome MOBA that’s not afraid to do things differently. There’s never been a better time to play Heroes!

SMITE

Come on, who doesn’t want to be a god that unleashes their divine arsenal on unsuspecting foes? SMITE allows that power fantasy to occur with a wide array of different deities from a number of different pantheons -- all meeting to duke it out!

The key difference between SMITE and League of Legends is the over-the-shoulder camera, giving a much more focused feeling to the game, something akin to a third-person shooter. Having a smaller field of view and needing to aim and place your abilities much more precisely also adds an extra layer of depth to the SMITE.

And as far as “niche” MOBAs go, SMITE has existed for longer than just about any of its counterparts, quietly doing its thing and improving over time. It might never truly erupt to the levels of Dota or League, but it’s active and still growing with a thriving competitive scene.

If you want something that still feels familiar to standard MOBAs but adds an interesting spin on it, there are few better choices than this one.

And there you have it. League of Legends is a far cry from going anywhere or being considered dead, but the examples listed here show that there is definitely room to share the market. There's more than one way to make a MOBA, and people are finally learning that you need not play the one game to the exclusion of all others.

Couple that with the continued success of Overwatch and a number of other titles such as Battlefield keeping the shooter scene alive, and there's arguably never been a better time to be a competitive gamer.

Do you have a different MOBA you prefer than the ones listed? Perhaps you’re a League of Legends veteran that’s made the switch? Let us know about it in the comments!

]]>