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This week, Firefall developer Red 5 Studios revealed its impressive new suite of tools for scoutcasters and competitive gaming fans as part of its eSports Toolkit. Information on Diablo III's upcoming patch 1.0.4 was also released this week, detailing difficulty decreases for elite monsters, the long-awaited legendary item update, and some big changes for players stuck in the magic find grind. Path of Exile celebrated the first anniversary of its first closed beta release this week as it edges closer to open beta.

In the land of MOBAs, League of Legends revealed that some big buffs are on the way for Garen and Katarina and explained the recent hotfix that nerfed new champion Zyra. Dota 2 experienced some controversy this week when players discovered that a player-submitted weapon design had been lifted from MMO Aion. S2 Games released a new Heroes of Newerth development diary delving into new hero Rally and giving a look behind the scenes of the game's creation.

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Firefall's new eSports Toolkit allows better viewing of matches
Red 5 Studios knows that it's not always just about playing Firefall -- it's also about watching matches. Whether you want to check out your friends as they battle in the upcoming free-to-play shooter or you want to get a good look at your competition, the new eSports Toolkit will allow spectators to see the action as it unfolds.

Firefall title image
The e-sports scene has exploded in recent years, with League of Legends and StarCraft II tournaments securing more viewers than some real-world sports. Firefall revealed its commitment to competitive gaming this week with the announcement of its new eSports Toolkit. PvP matches will feature an observer mode that lets players watch the action from a top-down viewpoint, with an optional automated action-cam that homes in on flashpoints and areas of high action.

Observers can also flick between pre-set cameras placed strategically throughout each PvP area to provide a more cinematic experience. You can even follow individual players just by clicking on them, which provides a seamless way to get a close-up on the action. Perhaps most exciting of all is the ability for observers to pause, rewind, and fast-forward the match playback at will and capture key moments in slow-motion. All of those tools will be available to any player observing a match.

Professional-level shoutcasters will be even more impressed by the tools reserved for official match broadcasters. They'll get a free-fly camera, player stat scorecards, and a huge cinematic camera interface that uses a second monitor to show what's going on at other locations in the game. If the shoutcaster sees something more interesting happening on another camera, he can flick over to it instantly.


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Diablo III's patch 1.0.4 is still a few weeks away from deployment, but this week Blizzard revealed exactly what will be in the much-needed update. The Invulnerable Minions affix on elite monsters is being removed, and some of the more frustrating affixes like Shielding and Fire Chains will be toned down. Elites and champion packs are getting an overall difficulty decrease, while normal monsters will have their difficulty slightly buffed. Elites will also have their enrage timers removed and will no longer heal back to full health after killing you.

The magic find system is getting some love, with the averaging of magic find and gold find across all players in co-op mode being removed. Each player's loot will now roll separately based on that player's own magic find total. Normal monsters will now have four times the chance to drop magic and rare items, which makes skipping normal monsters on magic find runs a lot less attractive than it currently is.

The long-awaited legendary item buff will arrive in 1.0.4, along with an array of balance changes to every class. Finally, weapons of item level 61 and 62 will have a chance of rolling the same damage as item level 63 weapons to stop item level 63 weapons from being the only ones worth having.

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This week marks the first anniversary of Path of Exile's first closed beta test. To celebrate, Chris Wilson from Grinding Gear Games dug out the original beta client and took a look back at all the changes the past year has brought. The most striking changes have been in the passive skill tree system and user interface, both of which have undergone considerable development to arrive at today's polished versions. "We're very proud of what we've created," says Chris, "and look forward to continuing to improve it over the next decade."


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This week Riot Games released the official patch preview for League of Legends' upcoming mid-August patch. The update is set to buff Garen and Katarina and a serious nerf to Zyra. Garen is an underpowered hero who sees little use in competitive play as he doesn't scale well into the late game despite his early-game laning prowess. He'll be getting a series of buffs aimed at increasing his damage per level, and his Courage ability will now grant a percentage bonus to armour and magic resistance instead of a flat value.

Katarina is getting some serious buffs designed to improve her consistency and ability to contribute to teamfights. Her Killer Instincts ability has been replaced with a new area-effect damage spell to give more reliable damage. As a bonus, Katarina's hair now looks like hair instead of huge tentacles. New champion Zyra turned out to be so overpowered that Riot didn't even wait for the mid-August patch to nerf her. Her abilities were nerfed in an earlier hotfix in time for the upcoming regional tournaments.


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Controversy sprung up in Dota 2 this week as players noticed that a Steam Workshop item was produced using assets lifted from MMO Aion. The Timebreaker weapon was submitted to the workshop by a player who received a cut of the proceeds from sales related to the item. On discovering the copyright infringement, Valve immediately banned the infringing user, confiscated his cut of the profit, and removed the offending item from the store.

Players who bought the weapon were given a replacement item with a different model, and in a special apology, Valve announced that the replacement Timebreaker will become a rare collectible; no more will ever be sold. Given the status of such items in the Team Fortress 2 trading community, we suspect the value of Dota 2 Timebreakers is sure to go through the roof.

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S2 Games gave fans a glimpse into the Heroes of Newerth game development process with a new developer diary delving into the creation of Rally, the game's latest hero. While most heroes have abilities that target a location on the ground or another hero, Rally is the first to feature an ability with S2's new vector entity targeting system. Her Compel ability throws the target hero in a selected direction, much like the Tablet of Command but aimed with precision.


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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