With all the recent fuss over Diablo III, the game's predecessor Diablo II has gone largely unnoticed. This week we discover that the Diablo II ladder will be reset at the end of the month to give players a chance to experience the online game from the start before its sequel hits the shelves. We also introduce upcoming online FPS Hedone and invite all of our readers to tune into an exclusive Path of Exile closed beta livestream on Friday 14th.
Heroes of Newerth this week released new ranged support hero Monarch, who is a giant butterfly and therefore awesome. League of Legends enjoyed the release of ranged ganker Xerath, a champion who can practically turn himself into an electric mortar cannon. Rise of Immortals delivered early details of upcoming immortal Talia, the dual-wielding vampire queen. Finally, upcoming online FPS Blacklight: Retribution released its closed beta schedule this week, announcing that the game will be playable for selected individuals starting October 27th.
Skip past the cut for details of this week's biggest news from the world of MOBAs and other online games that aren't quite MMOs. Diablo III on the way, fans of the upcoming game have been reinstalling its predecessor Diablo II in droves to get the itch to play temporarily out of their systems. I've picked up Diablo II again twice since the announcement that a sequel was in production, and along with a lot of other fans, I may soon be going back for another bash at the title. Blizzard announced this week that the official ladder will be reset on October 25th, with all ladder characters moved to non-ladder and a fresh start for all players. This may be the last new ladder to hit the game before Diablo III's release, but Blizzard hasn't made any announcement to that effect.
Hedone, a free-to-play team-based online FPS set in a run-down industrial landscape. There's certainly no shortage of online shooters out there, but Hedone's relatively new development studio has certainly delivered at least high-quality graphics. There are no videos of gameplay available, but if screenshots are anything to go by, the game will at least look good on launch. Gameplay has been compared to popular FPS Brink, and the game will be using a free-to-play payment model in which players can earn every weapon through normal gameplay or pay cash to shortcut the wait. Hedone is currently gearing up for its second closed beta; keep an eye on the game's official website for a chance to get involved.
Diablo-style dungeon crawler Path of Exile last month, taking a look at its impressive visuals and innovative skill system that itemises skills as gems players put into socketed gear. The game is currently in closed beta, but the developers at Grinding Gear Games aren't shy about showing the game off; in fact, they've given us permission to livestream the Path of Exile beta this week. Tune in to the MassivelyTV livestream channel on Friday 14th at 6 p.m. EDT to find out what Path of Exile is all about.
Patch 184.108.40.206 hit Heroes of Newerth this week, bringing with it brand-new ranged intelligence hero Monarch. This oversized butterfly is designed to fill a support role, with a protective cocoon and useful assist abilities. Her first spell, Blinding Pollen, is a single-target damage over time spell with a long immobilise and silence. The attack starts with a mini-stun to break channels and cast animations, making it a potentially very powerful ability in both the laning phase and teamfights. Players silenced by Blinding Pollen will be unable to cast abilities but can still autoattack. It's best used against any melee hero or against a ranged hero with poor autoattack damage.
Chrysalis is definitely Monarch's most useful ability, encasing Monarch or an ally in a cocoon for four seconds. Players inside the cocoon receive damage reduction and a heal-over-time buff but are unable to move or autoattack. Spells can still be cast, making this an incredibly good spell to combine with channeled abilities like Glacius' or Rhapsody's ultimate. Monarch's third ability, Noxious Cloud, creates an expanding cloud that damages enemies inside its area and applies a slow. If you can target the spell directly below an enemy, combine it with stuns and immobilises to keep him within the area of effect for the full duration.
Monarch's ultimate is the purely supportive Cleansing Wind, an area-effect ability that removes all disables and debuffs from allies in a line. This includes stuns, making Cleansing Wind a very fast reactive spell that can turn practically any bad situation around. The spell also grants allies a short movement speed buff, so it's perfect for chasing down enemy heroes. Monarch is unfortunately in the early access system and must currently be bought before you can use her, even if you have a legacy account. On the bright side, this week Master of Arms and Midas leave the early access system and are available for general play. To see how Monarch plays in a game, check out her hero spotlight video below.
Rise of Immortals developer Petroglyph released a sneak peek this week of upcoming immortal Talia, the Queen of the Dead. The scantily clad dual-wielding vampire queen can switch from attack to defense mode at any time, reducing her damage and attack speed but adding a self-heal to every hit. Petroglyph will be unveiling Talia's other abilities each day in the lead-up to her release.
League of Legends Harrowing Masquerade costume contest. Twenty-two thousand Riot Points are up for grabs, in addition to a pair of Gunnar glasses and a $50 J!nx voucher. For the official contest rules and details of how to enter, head over to the official contest webpage.
Riot Games released a champion spotlight video this week on brand-new ranged nuker Xerath, the Magus Ascendant. Xerath focuses on long-range attacks, with his second ability, Locus of Power, granting bonus range on all of his other abilities. Locus of Power immobilises Xerath for its duration, turning him into a kind of stationary artillery cannon. His second ability, Mage Chains, marks an enemy but doesn't cause any effects immediately. If Xerath hits the marked enemy with any other abilities, the mark is consumed and stuns its target.
Xerath's two main damage abilities are Arcanopulse and Arcane Barrage. Arcanopulse is a delayed skill-shot nuke that hits everyone in a line after a short channel. Arcane Barrage is Xerath's ultimate; it allows him to place a targeted area effect nuke anywhere in his vicinity. For a few seconds after the initial cast, Arcane Barrage can be re-cast twice for free at different locations. If you fail to cast all three shots before that time expires, the additional shots are lost. For more information on Xerath and to see him in a game, check out his official champion spotlight video below.
Blacklight: Retribution captured our imaginations with talk of features normally associated with MMOs. This week publisher Perfect World Entertainment posted a schedule of the game's upcoming closed beta. The first beta phase will begin at the end of the month, running from October 27th to October 30th. Following that, a second phase will run from November 10th to November 13th. For a chance to get in to the beta, head over to the Blacklight: Retribution website and sign up for an account.
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