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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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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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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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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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Living Story Log: See Ya Never, Scarlet Briar

Guild Wars 2 Scarlet Living Story Finale Climax Breachmaker Lion's Arch

At long last, we reach the conclusion of season one’s living story. The four part climax has finally culminated in the end of the villain known as Scarlet Briar, who has tormented us in Tyria for over a year. However, in ridding Tyria of this twisted thorn, we have also planted the seeds of something far greater. If you have not played the events of this living story update, I am going to advise you not to jump below the break. For everyone else who does not mind massive story spoilers… See you there.

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Diving into DotA: It’s All the Rage: It’s a GAME People!

In case you missed it this last week, DotA had it’s first (alleged) real life death. In what can only be described as bizarre and sketchy, a 16 year old in the Philippines is in custody after it was alleged that he stabbed his 11 year old “friend” to death in an empty construction site. While details aren’t entirely clear, the initial statements by the police seem to indicate that the violence was incited by an account hacking episode. The 11 year old was found in the construction site with over 40 stab wounds on his body and his blood was discovered on a discarded pair of shorts belonging to the 16 year old. There are no subtitles in the above video, but the message is pretty clear.

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Warcraft Waypoint: How Will The Great WoW Slimdown of 2014 Affect You?

World of Warcraft, Ring of Peace, Monk

When the digit to the left of the decimal point in a World of Warcraft patch increases by one, you know you’re in for a whirlwind of changes when you log in. The upcoming patch 6.0 will be no exception. One of the first things you will notice upon logging in when the patch drops shortly before the arrival of Warlords of Draenor is that there will be several blank spaces on your action bars where spells and abilities used to be. The second thing you will notice is that your maximum health points will have gone from six or seven digits down to five and you seem to be doing hundreds of thousands less damage to that target dummy.

Don’t be alarmed. You weren’t nerfed that hard. After nearly ten years, World of Warcraft will be doing some long overdue slimming down. Last Thursday, Blizzard put up a blog on the official site highlighting some of the biggest changes coming in the patch without including much in the way of specifics. Still, they’ve consolidated information on details that will catch you by surprise if you go into Warlords of Draenor expecting the status quo. So, you log in on patch day, What will you see?

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A Galaxy Far Away: Orange is the New Black in SWTOR

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First of all this has nothing to do with that Netflix show. No, this has everything to do with Jedi, Sith, Bounty Hunters, and Smugglers. While browsing the comments in another recent SWTOR related article, I came across a troll who actually had a decent point. His complaint was something similar to, “OMG, SWTOR is so dumb. The only thing people care about is how their toon looks. Nobody actually does anything.” Pause. Rewind. Wait a minute. He’s right.

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The eSports Report: A Day at the LCS Studio

Hello again, eSports fans! This week’s column will run a bit differently, as I just got back from an awesome experience that I can’t help but share with you all. Over the weekend, I spent a day at the League of Legends Championship Series Studios, watching games and enjoying the presentation. I’ve been to a few eSports events before, but nothing measured up to the presentation put on by Riot.

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StarCraft Soapbox: Thoughts on the Recent Balance Patch

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Terran players rejoice! Maybe…

After extensive trials on the test map over the last weeks, Blizzard has implemented a long-awaited balance update. The patch went live on Friday, 28th Feb (Saturday the 1st in EU).  There is one significant change to each of the three races, although this round represents a clear nerf to Protoss, particularly in the Terran v Protoss matchup.  The changes, and my thoughts on the patch, are outlined below.

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Living Story Log: In the Wake of the Siege

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By now, players of Guild Wars 2 will have not only noticed, but participated in the events of the city of Lion’s Arch. While the city is still a war-zone, and will be for at least another week, questions abound as to what will happen in the future with the city, and its denizens. Your ever intrepid Bel Geode did some exploring around the surrounding zones to locate the key people that players know and love to patronize. We’ll identify them, right after the break.

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Into Exile: Sacrifice of the Vaal Preview

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Grinding Gear Games has been teasing us for weeks now about the new content update coming on March 5th. They have been showing a lot of cool stuff and assure all the players that there is even much more they aren’t showing us. It’s impressive that they are releasing a major update to the game after only four months and it really shows the developer’s commitment to keeping Path of Exile a relevant game for the next 10 years.. Even with the tiny teasers they have been giving us, there is still a lot to comb through. Here’s a quick roundup on what we might see from the upcoming content.

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