Not So Massively: Diablo III shows signs of release

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Diablo III saw its clearest signs of release ever this week after a succinct tweet from Jay Wilson and the announcement that PvP is being cut from release in favour of getting the game out sooner. Firefall revealed its plans for attending events and trade shows this year and showed off its world-building tools and talent in an awesome new video devblog. Blacklight: Retribution continued its open beta with the release of a new map set in a laboratory during a virus outbreak. Developers also revealed the game's newest hero, Grendel the heavy weapons and explosives specialist.

It's been a slow week for news in the MOBA world, with developers pulling out all the stops for GDC 2012 and planning for upcoming events at PAX East 2012 and beyond. This week League of Legends announced that several of the game's classic skins will soon be retired and are available temporarily for a 75% discount. Riot Games detailed plans for its upcoming events at PAX East, and the IntelEM tournament finals went off without a hitch. The latest Dota 2 patch added a new passive bot difficulty mode that forces bots to stay in their lanes and introduced a series of balance tweaks.

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League of Legends retiring classic skins
Get your wallets out, summoners! Four classic League of Legends skins will be retired from the store as of Monday, March 12th. The skins in question are Emerald Taric, Unmasked Kayle, Nightmare Cho'Gath, and Butcher Urgot -- and who doesn't want his favorite slaughter machine dressed up as the friendly neighborhood butcher?
The Summoner's Guidebook: The game without a meta
It should be no shocker that the Crystal Scar is my favorite League of Legends map. Dominion is a more frantic and dynamic gametype, and it rewards tactical, free-thinking play more than the Classic game mode.
Rumor: Diablo III releasing April 17th
The rumor mill is churning fast and furious today as heavy speculation is swirling about a possible release date for Diablo III: April 17th. This comes from Italian website mmorpgitalia, which reports that retailers are clearing space for their shelves on the 17th after a tip from Activision Italy.
Diablo III shelves PvP to make launch
When a release date is nearing and a crucial game feature is falling behind, what is a studio to do? If you're Blizzard and you're looking at the fate of one of the biggest titles of the year, you yank the offending feature from the game so as to not delay the entire product.

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If you're planning to attend PAX East next month, there will be a League of Legends surprise in store for you. The event coincides with LoL's season two IPL Pro League Championship finals, and Riot Games will be streaming the entire tournament live at its booth in PAX. The PAX schedule also includes its own mini-tournament, art demos, a dance-off, a fashion show for cosplayers, and a Spin-to-Win wheel competition.

The LoL world tour visits Poland this week, which was the most active European community immediately post-launch and the first European region to have a localised client. Interestingly, the Polish community doesn't congregate at gaming cafes and LAN centers the way players in many other European regions do. Most Polish gamers play from home, staging only occasional LAN parties as organised events.

The League of Legends portion of the Intel Extreme Masters tournament finals went off without a hitch this week, with the entire event streamed live over the weekend and each match recorded. If you've ever wanted to see what LoL competitive gaming looks like at its best, check out the final match video embedded below. Skip to 24 minutes for the start of the match.

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This week's Dota 2 beta update contained mostly bugfixes, balance tweaks, and updates to the bot code. Bots now default to normal difficulty, and a new passive difficulty mode can be used to force them to stay in lanes rather than roam the map and gank as a team. This is sure to be good practice for newer players who are just getting used to the concept of laning.

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It seems PAX is on everyone's mind right now, and the Firefall team is no exception. Community manager Matt Dewald and e-sports director Morgan Romine got together this week to talk to the community about upcoming events. As Firefall will be delivered entirely online, the game's events package will focus on allowing players to interact with developers and play the game rather than just bringing corporate types up for previews. The team will be there at SXSW, PAX East, GamesCom, PAX Prime and other events throughout the year, where you can get hands-on time with Firefall and chat to developers about the game.

Red 5 Studios released an incredible video dev diary this week showing the awesome world-building tools the team uses and the design philosophy behind Firefall's open world. As players have jetpacks, they can go anywhere and see the world from angles that weren't originally intended. While most games design just for the on-the-ground perspective and then look odd from above, Firefall has been designed with wide open spaces and long-range visibility in mind.

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Players have been hoping for signs of Diablo III's release for years. Ever since that first gameplay video made the game look almost complete, we've had rampant speculation on the game's release date. This week, Blizzard produced the best indicators yet that release is close. Blizzard's Jay Wilson announced on twitter that "what is currently in the beta is what we intend for ship," adding that the team is still tuning the game and plans may change. Most of the recent beta updates have been balance tweaks and graphical updates to the game's launcher.

The recent announcement that PvP arenas won't be in at launch has also been cited as evidence of a nearing release, especially as the announcement post itself was tagged "Sign of Release." This follows several weeks during in which smaller features were cut from the game in an effort to bring release forward.

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Blacklight: Retribution's open beta is buzzing, with new content being released regularly and bugs being fixed every day. The latest map, Containment, is set in a laboratory that's trying to prevent the spread of a virus. Tunnels and doors make this a highly variable landscape where attackers can come at you from multiple angles.

Along with the new map, developers have released a new hero character that players can buy. Grendel is a heavy weapons and explosives specialist, with above average health but below average run speed and stamina. Players in the beta who reach level 5 before the end of March will unlock a special three-day version of Grendel so that they can try the hero before buying him.

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
This article was originally published on Massively.