Not So Massively title image
It's been a bumper week for online gaming news, with an absolute flood of new information from the world of game development. Rock Paper Shotgun gots some hands-on time with upcoming online FPS Tribes: Ascend and delivered a cautious preview. Blacklight: Retribution's massive character customisation options were detailed in a new dev diary video, adding smiley faces and rainbows (yes, rainbows) to this dark and brutal FPS. Diablo III opened the floodgates on news this week with details on the three artisan NPCs, news of the new Battle.Net Balance system, a new cinematic video, and the news that the unattuned runestone system has been scrapped.

Heroes of Newerth released its complex new hero Shadowblade this week, while three other MOBAs discussed their own upcoming characters. League of Legends revealed gameplay details on its highly anticipated Nine Tail Fox champion, who will finally make an appearance in the game with the next patch. The Rise of Immortals team revealed further details on upcoming support damage-dealer Kavashiir, and Bloodline Champions developers gave us the low down on their electrifying new bloodline Stormcaller.

Skip past the cut for details of this week's biggest news from the world of MOBAs and other big online games that aren't quite MMOs.

Tribes: Ascend title image
If you're a fan of the original Tribes, chances are you're pretty excited for upcoming online FPS Tribes: Ascend, which promises to deliver Unreal Tournament style gameplay in a free-to-play team-deathmatch format. Rock Paper Shotgun got some hands-on time with the game's Not-Quite-Closed-Beta this week, and writer Richard Cobbett delivered a fairly muted and balanced preview based on his experience. After his initial excitement over the nostalgic return of jetpacks and the Spinfusor gun, Richard admits that "Hi-Rez still has some way to go before launch if it wants Ascend to match its predecessors." The core gameplay of skiing around the map is still a big part of the gameplay, but Richard believes it puts combat at such great distances that you're essentially fighting a team of little red dots.

League of Legends title image
Back in September, developers at Riot Games released a small preview of a new in-development League of Legends champion that they were just too excited about to keep to themselves. The Nine Tailed Fox is an iconic character in Asian mythology, and developers were understandably excited to be bringing it to life within LoL. It's been several months since that first preview, and this week Riot broke its silence to reveal that Ahri the Nine Tailed Fox will finally be released with the next patch. In a mechanics preview earlier this week, we received early details of the champion's gameplay style.

Ahri is designed to be a highly mobile mage who picks off squishy or hurt enemies with short bursts of damage. Her ultimate makes her dash to the target location, but interestingly the ability can be used three times before it goes on cooldown. Using all three charges at once will let Ahri chase down any fleeing enemy, but it can also be used to harass an enemy and then escape. Positioning is key to Ahri's damage, with her main nukes decreasing in damage with distance from the target. Her ultimate then becomes a tool to get right next to targets to maximise damage.

Diablo III title image
Following several weeks with very little news, Blizzard opened the floodgates this week with a series of reveals for Diablo III. Fansite DiabloFans had been digging around in the beta client's data files to extract information on the Blacksmith, Jeweler and Mystic artisans who craft and enchant items for you, and this week Blizzard responded with a full reveal of all the details on all three artisans. In addition to some lore for each of the three NPCs, a full list of their recipes and upgrade paths has been made available.

When we first heard about the Diablo III cash auction house, we knew it was only a matter of time before Blizzard added the option to pay for World of Warcraft subscriptions with the cash generated by sales. This week Blizzard revealed its upcoming Battle.Net Balance system, a cash balance that can be used to buy "services like World of Warcraft character transfers, digital products like pets and mounts, and more." The FAQ also confirms that WoW game time can be purchased with the balance. As predicted, Diablo III players will be able to charge their balance through sales on the cash auction house.

In a blue post on the Diablo III forum, developers revealed this week that the "unattuned runestone" system they had been working on has been scrapped. With its policy of only releasing games when they're ready, Blizzard is wiling to try out ideas and cancel them if they don't work out, and has been trying out alternate systems in its in-house testing.

Blacklight: Retribution title image
In a new Blacklight: Retribution dev diary, developers at Zombie Studios talk about customisation. Much of the previous game's customisation was in weapon modification, and for Blacklight: Retribution the team will be extending that customisation to the player. Everything about your character can be visually customised, from the shape of weapons to the colour of your armour, but there's more than just cosmetic alterations on the menu. Your primary weapon will be fully customisable; You'll choose a base weapon, magazine size, stock, barrel, muzzle, scope, and even ammo type.

You can even customise the contents of your weapon depots, providing you with the unlocks you want as each match progresses. If you're a flamethrower fan, you don't need to waste space on rocket launchers and machine guns. But what good is all this customisation if you don't get to show it off? Oh wait, you do get to show it off! At the end of each round, the top three scoring players will be stood together in an ending scene to show off their gear and weapons. Certain achievements will earn you items like medals that you can pin to your character. Players can even unlock taunt emotes to use during this scene; one emote gives your character a big happy face and makes a rainbow appear over his head. I'm not making this up -- this game is going to be awesome.


Heroes of Newerth title image
Heroes of Newerth's patch 2.5 went live this week, introducing incredibly complex new hero Shadowblade. With three different forms and abilities that decrease incoming damage, steal the enemy's damage, and copy a portion of an enemy's stats, Shadowblade is sure to be a difficult character to play. Each of his forms benefits from a different primary attribute, making item choices tricky. Shadowblade can be built on intelligence for huge ranged damage, strength to make him tanky for team fights, or agility for initiation.

The patch also contains a whole raft of new game systems, from live spectating of matches and new tree and creep models to a new mentoring system designed to help players teach their friends how to play. This is a real game-changer for a lot of players, so if you've played HoN in the past, now might be a good time to give it another try.


Rise of Immortals title image
In a new dev video, the Rise of Immortals team discusses upcoming immortal Kavashiir and what goes into the creation of a new immortal. Developers released details on Kavashiir's four main abilities this week, confirming that he's an excellent support for teamfights. His Auroral shield cancels enemy debuffs and DoT spells, Soul Eclipse slows enemies and cancels positive buffs on them, and Piercing Ray deals true damage to cut through enemy defenses.

Kavashiir's ultimate Light of Judgment marks a foe for teammates to attack, with each attack landing on the marked enemy causing bonus true damage. The more damage you can pile on top of the marked immortal, the better, as every few points of damage will cause the target to explode, dealing almost as much damage in an area around him. As we wait for Kavashiir's release, Petroglyph has released its latest in-character immortal spotlight on Tatiana, delving into the lore behind the character and showing off her abilities and alternate skins.


Bloodline Champions title image
If you were at Dreamhack Winter, you will have seen a sneak peek of Bloodline Champions' upcoming bloodline Stormcaller. This week Stunlock Studios released a gameplay introduction video for Stormcaller, presenting his abilities, alternate skins and gameplay style. All of his abilities are lightning based, with a primary attack that jumps between enemies, and a short range flash teleport. Even if you're not a fan of Bloodline Champions, you have to appreciate the incredible enthusiasm of developer Semmlar, who voices the gameplay video below.


Join us every Monday for Not So Massively, our roundup of the top news from popular online games that aren't quite MMOs. If you think there's a game we should be covering in Not So Massively or you've found some interesting news you think deserves attention in the next roundup, please mail the details to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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