Not So Massively: Battle of the online action RPGs

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Blizzard addressed Diablo III's poor launch in an open letter to the community this week and detailed plans for development going forward. If you're stuck in the magic find grind, an impressive new guide also surfaced this week to demystify the hunt. Upcoming free-to-play action RPG Path of Exile released a video of its updated passive tree this week, demonstrating some of the game's incredible character customisation options. Torchlight II developer Runic Games also released some statistics this week showing just how big the game is compared to its predecessor.

In MOBA news, League of Legends released updated champion spotlight videos for its recently overhauled champions Evelynn and Twitch, and Heroes of Newerth surprised players by releasing all of its heroes for free to every player. Dota 2 added classic hero Naga Siren and updated the spectator UI with a much-requested gold-per-minute table.

Hi-Rez Studios released a new SMITE video featuring Hindu demon Bakasura, a character who can eat enemies to regain health and later vomit them up on the battlefield. Wrath of Heroes also revealed ranged assassin Korith Bitterborn this week, and Guardians of Middle-Earth published its first battle profile video showing some of Gollum's and Gandalf's attacks.

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League of Legends tourney to be streamed live, $10,000 prize at stake
If you've been curious about the competitive gaming scene in League of Legends, you'll want to mark your calendar for August 3rd. Major League Gaming is hosting a three-day event that features four of the planet's best teams.
Firefall ramps up for its summer milestone
The upcoming milestone update to Firefall is a big one that revamps several core areas of the game based on player feedback. That includes multiple frames seeing a large-scale revisions.
New Firefall dev diary discusses special effects
When asked what you do, do you get to answer "I blow sh** up for a living"? The folks in special effects do, and that's the best part about working in the gaming industry according to Adam Kupratis, visual FX artist for Red 5 Studios.
Blizzard acknowledges Diablo III always-on is DRM
Despite weeks of insisting that Diablo III's internet connection requirements were all about improving the experience for gamers, Blizzard has finally copped to the fact that the feature was actually designed to prevent piracy.
All heroes in Heroes of Newerth will be free as of tomorrow
The free-to-play fantasy MOBA Heroes of Newerth just got a little more free. Starting tomorrow, all of the heroes in the game will be free to everyone.

Diablo III title image
If you're one of the many people settling into the magic find grind in Diablo III, players over at DiabloFans have you covered with the most comprehensive magic find guide there is. Players have pooled their data to work out the game mechanics behind magic find and produced enough graphs to make an EVE Online player cry. The guide covers everything from the maximum obtainable magic find to the drop rates of treasure goblins and proves that magic find doesn't affect the item level of loot.

Blizzard's Mike Morhaime released an open letter to the Diablo III community this week looking back on the game's tumultuous launch and answering questions on where the game goes from here. Patch 1.1 will bring in PvP arenas and updates to the auction house and social tools, and previous announcements suggest it will arrive some time this year. The next patch is 1.0.4, which will introduce new and improved legendary items and will tweak abilities that are underused or are so good that they're considered mandatory.

Path of Exile title image
Path of Exile has shown off its incredible customisation system several times now in its build-a-week series, but this week Grinding Gear Games took the time to publish a video all about its upcoming passive skill tree revamp. The passive skill system crams more customisation options into Path of Exile than there are grains of sand on a beach, but it became overwhelming for new players and it was possible to make poor choices that could make your character weak early in the game.

The skill tree has now been simplified for new players, starting with initially just two choices and gradually branching out. Grinding Gear Games has been careful to ensure that a lot of the old builds people had figured out were still possible in the new system. You can also still cross the skill tree and pick up passives from the areas normally used by the other classes, which leads to some interesting potential builds.

Torchlight II title image
If you've been patiently waiting for Torchlight II and are wondering why it's taking so long, this week's development update from Runic Games may shed some light on the matter. We already knew that Torchlight II would be bigger and better than its predecessor, but this week's update shows just how much bigger with some comparison statistics. Torchlight II contains almost four times as many monsters as the previous game, hundreds more areas, and thousands of additional items. In terms of game assets, developers estimate that the game is about four times the size of the original.

League of Legends continued to delve into its newest champion this week with two new interviews all about Zyra, The Rise of Thorns. Riot Games' CertainlyT joined lead champion designer Morello to answer questions on the design process and the unique challenges Zyra presented during development. Similarly, the artists responsible for Zyra discussed the challenges encountered in developing her graphics and sound effects.

This week also saw the release of two new champion spotlights on recently revamped champions Evelynn and Twitch. The updated videos are designed to help fans of the champions adapt to their new post-patch playstyles. You can check out Evelynn's video below, and don't forget to check out Twitch's new spotlight over at the Riot Games' YouTube channel.

Finally, Major League Gaming will be streaming the Arena North America qualifier final live tonight starting at 7 p.m. EDT. The four remaining teams are competing for a trip to New York City for the final the first weekend of August. The first-place finisher will also win $10,000. Watch it live tonight!

Heroes of Newerth title image
Heroes of Newerth switched to a LoL-style free-to-play business model some time ago, complete with a rotating pool of free heroes and the option to buy heroes for cash or silver coins. This week S2 Games changed this model to make all the heroes free to all players. S2 is calling the new model free-to-own, and the response from the community has been mostly positive. Legacy players who bought the game before it went free-to-play already had all the heroes for free, however, leading some to complain that this cheapens their legacy rewards.

This move comes not long after Dota 2 announced that all of its heroes would be free to all players in order to help support the game's competitive gameplay style. HoN has always had a big competitive scene, and this change should help lower the barrier to entry of competitive games. HoN will now make its money from other store purchases such as alt avatars and early access to new heroes.

Dota 2 title image
This week's Dota 2 beta patch added powerful classic disabler Naga Siren to the hero pool in this week's update and saw the release of the community-made Pirate Captain announcer pack. The rules of co-op games were also brought in line with those of normal games, so players can now earn Battle Points and items at the end of games against AI. This should be a welcome change for casual players and those who want to practice before pitting their wits against other players.

Tournament broadcasters will be happy to know spectator mode now displays a list of every player's gold per minute. This stat is a solid indicator of how well each player is doing in the game; its inclusion in the spectator UI has been highly requested by the community.

Wrath of Heroes title image
Wrath of Heroes revealed its latest hero this week, the physical ranged assassin Korith Bitterborn. Korith has five abilities, but all of them appear to just deal damage, and so far there are no details of significant tactical variation between them.

Smite title image
Hi Rez Studios unveiled its latest SMITE god this week too: melee assassin Bakasura, The Great Devourer. Based on a Hindu demon with an insatiable hunger, Bakasura can eat enemy minions to heal himself and get a speed boost. His passive ability also applies a stacking attack speed buff every time he makes a kill, and he can leap toward targets to deal damage in an area while also reducing the damage dealt by affected enemies for a short time.

Bakasura's ultimate ability causes him to regurgitate all of the minions he's eaten. The ground is covered in a slowing vomit, and the regurgitated minions will fight for Bakasura. For a short duration after casting the ultimate, Bakasura can eat multiple enemies at once and all of his attacks are widened from single target hits to area-effect cones. This can be combined with his Butcher Blades ability, which adds true damage to every hit in order to devastate teams or push lanes with ease.

Guardians of Middle-Earth title image
Guardians of Middle-earth released its first battle profile video this week showing off the abilities of Gollum and Gandalf. Gollum is a hit-and-run assassin who can deal massive damage to lone targets. He can drain the health from his enemies, perform a short-range leap attack, and cower to remove negative effects while escaping battle with a speed buff. In contrast, Gandalf is a tanky mage with area-effect fireworks and a fiery shield spell.

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This article was originally published on Massively.