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Living Story Log: Interlude In The Winds

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It has been a while since ArenaNet has published any updates to the living world story, and while the latest update of May 20 DOES offer some new content, this is putting it loosely. The new patch brings two of the player-base’s favorite content from season one back for another round, with some noticeable changes that have been both lauded and loathed in this short span of time. Let’s look past the jump to see what is going on these days in the world of Tyria.

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Summoner’s Sanctum: League of Legends’ Burden of Blame

League of Legends is billed as a team game, with two squads of five dueling to the death in a variety of locales. However, a few games spent in the Solo Queue highlights the fact this is really only a team game in name – matches will quickly descend into bickering, infighting, and insult-hurling before the First Blood is spilled. New players are lambasted for their inexperience, and left to their fate. The frequent chant of “KS!” – kill steal – further illustrates the individualistic nature of the game, with teammates only there because a 1 v 5 game would not be pleasant. The toxicity of the game in the solo queues may now be an engrained part of the LoL culture, and the fixes for this are worth exploring in a different debate. What is often an interesting insight into the mind of the average LoL player is the post-match debriefing, where players from both teams can interact with each other for the first time.

After most matches a round of “gg”s – good game – are traded between players as a salute to their team for playing hard, and their opponents for providing suitable competition. But in cases of a rout, when one team surrenders early or an opposing player has caused pandemonium for example, the blame is quickly flung in every direction.

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Diving into DotA: The International is coming. Hide yo kids!

Sometimes you just can help people, no matter how hard you try. © Jazza Studios

Had an interesting conversation last week with a guy who was trying to convince me that games like DoTA and League of Legends are not that big of a deal. While he admittedly didn’t play any MOBA’s, it didn’t stop him from voicing the opinion that they are not in ascendancy and that the culture we have in America will never support these types of games. Especially compared to Asian communities with games like Starcraft. “Those guys are rock-stars” he said “and we’ll never have anything like that here.” As an avid DoTA fan, I told him as politely as I could that he was nothing but wrong.

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Living Story Log: Guild Wars 2 Season One Wrap-Up

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All’s quiet on the western front…

For now, Tyria is enveloped in an eerie calm, as the world heals the wounds inflicted by the recently defeated Scarlet Briar. Now is the time to bury the dead, and begin the mammoth repairs to the zones utterly decimated by the recent campaign. Of course now is also the time that the questions and speculations arise, and answers to most seem to be in short supply.

Let’s look at what facts we know so far, in order to better prepare for what is to come.

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Warning to Diablo III Crusaders: Shattering Throw is Bugged. You Will Die.

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Blizzard Entertainment released an urgent note today warning all players of the game’s new Crusader class of a game-breaking and rather infuriating little bug.

Apparently, if any Crusader uses a combination of his or her Blessed Shield ability combined with Shattering Throw, the character will die. Immediately. For no reason.

This includes all hardcore characters as well.

You read that right. A game where an entire mode is built around the idea of permanent character death now has a bug that can instantly kill you with no warning. Ouch.

Blizzard is obviously working overtime on getting this particularly nasty bug fixed, but for now, it might be best to keep your holy smiter of evil on the sidelines.

Diablo III’s Reaper of Souls expansion was released last month to great reviews and has already sold more than 2.7 million copies.

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Wildstar Releases Patch Notes for Class Balance and UI Changes

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As we move closer to the release of Wildstar this June, developer Carbine continues to tinker behind the scenes to get the game running on all cylinders.

The dev team has released the notes for its latest beta patch which includes an extensive array of changes.

Most notable is all of the fine print behind the much discussed UI 2.0 change.

But the game’s classes also received a balance pass and another healthy helping of bug squashing.

You can read about it all over on Wildstar’s official forums.

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Voting for EVE Online’s 9th Council of Stellar Management is Underway

EVE Online launches new player guide

Voting for EVE Online’s 9th Council of Stellar Management has begun.

Polls will be open until April 22 and the voting system features a new interface detailed in a blog post released today.

One of the great things about EVE Online is how the players have unprecedented control compared to most other MMOs over what happens in game. It’s a philosophy that developer CCP has embraced from the very beginning.

The Council is a group of players elected from within the player base and serve as the main liaisons between the players and the developers. Council members get to go to CCP’s headquarters in Iceland among other perks.

Players are being asked to vote for 14 different nominees, in order of preference.

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New Video Details First Adventure Zone, End Game PvE Content for The Elder Scrolls Online

Zenimax Online Studios has released a new video providing details on the first post-launch expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online. It features the game’s first Adventure Mode, called Craglorn. Adventure modes are part of ESO’s end game content and provide players additional objectives to conquer once they reach the level cap.

Craglorn will provide group content for varying sizes of players. At the start, an adventure zone run  is tailored for a group of four players. That said, there is additional content for groups of up to 12 players called Trials.

Trials are the closest thing  that ESO has to a traditional MMO raid. You’ll fight challenging monsters and new bosses with interesting mechanics that you haven’t seen before.

ESO is putting its own twist on the raiding concept though by giving players a limited amount of time to complete each trial as well as limiting the number of available player resurrections. What’s more is that if a player has to use a resurrection it will leave you with less time to complete the trial.

Finally, Trials have leader boards that will allow players to compete against all other teams on their server. The top teams receive in-game rewards.

You can check out the video above. The Elder Scrolls Online is out now for PC and Mac and will release on Playstation 4 and Xbox One this June.

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Summoner’s Sanctum: Staring Down Eye of the Void; Ladies Progress in Korea

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Patch 4.3 for League of Legends offers numerous game changes that are sure to keep players busy for quite some time. Among other various tweaks and changes to both characters and items, the latest version of LoL includes an exciting new champion that provides a new challenge for veterans and new players alike.

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Next Stop, Nexus: A Primer on Upcoming MMO Wildstar’s World and Races

 

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Wildstar, a crazy, fun MMO from Carbine Studios and NCSoft will be bursting onto the scene this June (June 3rd to be exact.)  Pre-orders are currently in process and Open Beta weekends have kicked off, so if this is a title that interests you don’t delay in getting in on the ground floor!

Needless to say, I am excited about this game; probably the most excited I’ve been since I was waiting for Skyrim to drop.  What has drawn me to it has been how well it’s put together and presented to the public.  Visually, the stylization reminds me of a tongue-in-cheek graphic novel featuring breathtaking art, witty emoticons and a pleasing color palette.  Lore-wise, it is incredibly friendly to a new player who’s interested in learning about the world they are entering.  Spend twenty minutes on the Wildstar website and you’ll have all you need to know about the basics of what the game and the universe it takes place in are all about.  But if you want a quick breakdown, I’ve got you covered after the jump.

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Animals of Tamriel: The Elder Scrolls Online Top 10 Animal Appearances

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The developers of Elder Scrolls Online have gone to great lengths to create a highly detailed and delightfully immersive universe for players to explore. This attention to detail makes for a rich game texture and gives the environment a more realistic, substantial feel. One of the most prevalent (and charming) details is the in-game biodiversity of non-enemy animals. These critters are both wild and domesticated, and can be found all over the map. Here’s a countdown of my top ten favorite animal appearances. Just some animals going about their animal business while the chaos of war and the threat of daedric invasion ensues around them…no big deal. Click the images to enlarge them for detail.

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The eSports Report: 2014′s Spring eSports Finales set, TI4 Sold Out

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Hello again eSports fans! The LCS’s Pre-playoffs Super Week has just wrapped up in Europe and North America, The GSL finals have concluded, and the WCS America and Europe are set for their playoffs as well. Oh, and TI4 tickets just went on sale, but I can’t seem to get one. All that and more, right now on The eSports Report!

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A Galaxy Far Away: Star Wars Galaxies vs. The New Republic (Worlds at War)

AroundTheCampfire-SWG

Why do SWTOR players constantly bring up Star Wars Galaxies? Was it really that good or is it pure nostalgia? Let’s take a look back and compare the last Star Wars MMO with the one left standing today.

For those unfamiliar with Star Wars Galaxies (SWG), it was an open world MMO set in the time period immediately following the destruction of the first Death Star (ABY).  Players could choose from a long list of Star Wars species , which included Wookies, Humans, Trandoshans,  and even Ithorians. The classes were just as varied; they ranged from dancers, medics, snipers, to bounty hunters, smugglers, and merchants. Each server was it’s own unique universe with different economies and player built cities. But it was far from perfect. The combat system was dull and there wasn’t much in the way of story. There was the infamous “Combat Upgrade” which drastically changed the core of the gameplay, crippled the game’s fan base, and ultimately began the downward spiral into the game’s demise.

Now let’s take a look at the Star Wars The Old Republic. It’s an “on rails” MMO with various classes, each with their own unique storyline. Players can extensively customize their characters visually and pick from two styles of play per class. The game is fully voiced and has some truly incredible story driven content. Arguably, the only similarity between the two MMOs is the banner under which they call home: Star Wars.

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Warcraft Waypoint: Can Leveling Be Saved?

World of Warcraft, Level Boost

It’s finally happened. For the first time in World of Warcraft’s history, you can now skip most of the leveling process on any character you wish at the press of a button. Granted, access to that button is set behind a $50 purchase (or pre-purchase) of Warlords of Draenor or a separate $60 purchase for the service, but there it is.

A somewhat controversial move on Blizzard’s part, the option to skip directly to the end game has received some mixed reception from the player base. The question on everyone’s mind seems to be, what is the future of leveling going to look like?  Will players still find it fun and engaging enough to grind to 90 with the carrot of a LEVEL 90 NOW button just one click away?  Let’s take a look at the new level 90 boost feature and what it could mean for the game.

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Review: Valve’s New DotA 2 Movie “Free to Play”

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Valve took another step forward this week in their apparent quest be in the vanguard of all things video game related with the release of their new movie “Free To Play”. This seventy-five minute documentary, available to all through the Steam client, covers the lives of three players during the first edition of The International gaming competition in 2011.  I have to admit that I was predisposed to like this movie from the start and because I didn’t really get into DotA until 2013, the story was completely new and exciting to me. But this movie stands up well as both a primer for someone new to competitive gaming and as a retrospective for those who have been there from the beginning.

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The eSports Report: The Everything IEM Edition

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Hello again eSports fans! Last weekend featured one of the largest events in European eSports: The Intel Extreme Masters World Championships. Held this year in Katowice, Poland, it featured high level competition in League of Legends, Starcraft II, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, and Hearthstone. Here at Elite Monster, we’ve got IEM covered for this week’s eSports Report.

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StarCraft Soapbox: Post-Patch Widow Mine Play in GSL

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Despite being underdogs in this season’s Korean Global StarCraft League, the two surviving Terran players made a strong showing in this week’s Round of Sixteen. The 2013 Season 2 GSL Winner Maru found himself in terrifying group of death that included Soulkey, Zest and Dear (all previous GSL winners in their own right.) Widely predicted to place last in the group, Maru broke straight through with two strong TvP best of three victories against Zest and Dear.  Bbyong, who scraped through the Ro32 and has been dice rolling his way through TvP with desperate and predictable SCV pull all-ins, was eliminated from the Ro16, but not before an impressively diverse showing in his first match against CJ-herO.

Both players employed a variety of strategies, but each of them found success with an aggressive ‘parade push’ style of play of Marine/Marauder/Medivac, working in significant numbers of Widow Mines.  This seems like a clear metagame response to the recent balance changes, which I talked about last week.

Given that Maru is one of the strongest Korean Terrans around, it’s too early to tell whether this play style will find a lasting place in the metagame. Certainly, I’m not proposing it as a cure-all for every Terran woe in the matchup. Maru used it in three of the six games he played in the GSL this week, and lost one of them. He won two other games with only limited Widow Mine use, overpowering his opponents through excellent multitasking and peerless micro with a standard bio composition.  Nevertheless, the strategy is effective and fun to watch, and it’s good to see one or two Terran players asserting themselves in the difficult matchup. Read on for a look at the strat and Maru’s execution.

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The eSports Report: IEM, Studio Shutdowns, LCS Super Week and TI4

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Hello again, eSports fans! This week in eSports was packed full of action and news, many changes, upcoming events, and the end of some cherished relationships. The LCS continued on with Super Week in North America and Europe, and IEM Katowice will commence this upcoming weekend. The International 4 dates are announced, NASL and Blizzard end their WCS agreement, and Free To Play the movie is just on the horizon. All that and more, right here on The eSports Report!

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Warcraft Waypoint: How Healing is Being Redefined for the Better in WoD

World of Warcraft

The art of making your allies not die is about to change drastically be it in a raid or an arena. In a Developer Watercooler last Thursday Blizzard dropped a series of bombshells that still have the healer community buzzing.

The watercooler does a good job of explaining what the changes are and why they were made. What every healer must be wondering, however, is what it will mean for them in PvP and PvE. Were the changes made for the wrong reasons? Wasn’t the old system fine? Am I being horribly nerfed?

All good and valid questions. Making a major change to healing doesn’t affect just one class or one specialization, of course. A significant portion of Warcraft’s population is understandably uncertain about their future. Some are quick to throw in the towel already. I’m here to say that the forecast for healers in the near future isn’t all doom and gloom. Blizzard hasn’t moved the goalposts for healers in order to make it harder on them, they’ve simply changed the rules of the game.

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Independent Games Festival Chairman Denied Coverage for Cancer, Raising Funds on GoFundMe

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One of my favorite moments during PAX East is the Q & A with Penny Arcade founders Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. The questions are anything goes and it’s always a fun time, but it also tends to create the most poignant moments at PAX. Plenty of people tell “Gabe” and “Tycho” every year about how PA and gaming in general have helped them through difficult times. It always reminds me that when you get away from the Internet trolls and get everyone in the same place, the gaming community is filled with awesome people who care about each other.

I was reminded of this again upon reading this story on Polygon about Brandon Boyer, the chairman of the Independent Games Festival. You can get the fine details over at Brandon’s blog but he was diagnosed with cancer last year, had to get parts of his liver and intestine removed and his health insurance company refused to cover the bill, which came in at over $100,000.

Brandon has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for his medical bills, and as usual, the gaming community has once again stepped in for one of its own. As of this post, the campaign has raised almost $74,000 of its $100,000 goal.

Brandon is thankfully in recovery at this point but he will continue to face ongoing medical bills for the treatment needed to keep him alive. You can stay up to date with Brandon through his Twitter.

This year’s Independent Games Festival is later this month in San Francisco.