Not So Massively: End of the year (and not the world) edition

Not So Massively title image
Diablo III players are sure to have mixed feelings this week as Blizzard announced that 1v1 dueling will be released in the new year but that the anticipated arena and team deathmatch gameplay has been scrapped. Path of Exile revealed the impressive winning entries in its recent fan art competition and has ended the year on a high note by winning the IndieDB Players Choice Upcoming Indie Game 2012 award.

SMITE celebrated the end of the Mayan calendar (and not the world) with the release of its new Mayan god Xbalanque, and Rise of Immortals gave its old immortal Kaos a graphical facelift. Guardians of Middle-Earth revealed its second DLC pack based on The Hobbit, introducing Thorin Oakenshield and Great Goblin as playable characters. Bloodline Champions may not be having a very good end to 2012 as its Russian servers are set to close in the new year, and Heroes of Newerth player stonefain ushered in the new year by finishing off his 21-video Tip of the Day series.

Diablo III title image
When Diablo III launched back in May, Blizzard promised that the PvP arena features cut from launch would be released later in a free patch. PvP accounts for a significant part of the demand in Diablo II's loot economy as players race to find the best items following each ladder reset. Though the sequel has no ladder system, it was hoped that PvP might provide a competitive endgame for players with good items who get bored of farming.

Blizzard finally released an update on Diablo III's upcoming PvP gameplay this week, and unfortunately, it isn't all good news. Lead Game Designer Jay Wilson did confirm that that 1v1 dueling support will be added to the game in patch 1.0.7, which is due shortly after the new year. But the team deathmatch mode that Blizzard showed off at previous BlizzCons has been scrapped as it didn't meet the high standard developers expected. Jay conceded that the deathmatch gameplay lacked depth and objectives and that it was plagued by class balance issues. Team-based PvP will be shelved while developers look at alternatives.

Path of Exile title image
Several weeks ago, Grinding Gear Games announced that its upcoming indie action RPG Path of Exile would be in the running for this year's IndieDB Player's Choice awards. The results are now in, and Path of Exile has been named as the top upcoming indie game of 2012. Developers have also revealed the impressive winning entries in their recent Path of Exile fan art competition, including some absolutely stunning paintings of the Witch class.

SMITE title image
To celebrate the fact that the world did not end when the Mayan calendar ran out, upcoming MOBA SMITE revealed its new playable Mayan God: Xbalanque, The Hidden Jaguar Sun. Xbalanque is a ranged hunter who specialises in dealing damage with his basic attacks. With his Branching Bolas ability, Xbalanque can empower his basic ranged attacks to deal bonus damage and then split to hit any enemies behind the target player.

He can also shoot out a cone of poisoned darts and use his Rising Jaguar ability to dash toward a poisoned target to deal bonus damage. Xbalanque's ultimate ability, Darkest of Nights, shrouds all nearby enemies in darkness for three seconds, stopping them from seeing more than a few feet in front of themselves. To help rack up kills during those three seconds, Xbalanque gets bonus movement speed and his basic attack range is increased. If he manages to kill an enemy while his ultimate ability is active, Xbalanque gains a permanent 5 bonus physical power. With good timing, this could stack up to a lot of bonus damage over the course of a long match.


Rise of Immortals title image
Rise of Immortals has been undergoing some serious overhauls since its Battle For Graxia update went into development, and now it looks as if it's not just the core game mechanics that are due for an update. With new immortal Ustat out of the way, developers have been able to go back and focus on revamping old characters based on player feedback. Kaos is the first immortal to get such an overhaul, and there may be others on the way.

Guardians of Middle-Earth title image
If getting to play as Bilbo Baggins and challenge enemies to matches in The Shire wasn't enough Hobbit-themed Guardians of Middle-Earth content for you, the game's second DLC pack has just been released. The pack contains two iconic characters from the novel and film as playable heroes: Thorin Oakenshield and Great Goblin.


Bloodline Champions title image
Bloodline Champions has been struggling with low player numbers for the past few months, and now it looks as if the problem may not be restricted to just the North American and European servers. It was revealed this week that the game's Russian servers will officially shut down next month and all players on them will be transferred to US or EU servers. The server closure doesn't seem to have dampened the developers' spirits, however, as they plan to run their usual New Year's tournament tomorrow with in-game prizes from the cash shop.

Heroes of Newerth title image
As the new year approaches, Heroes of Newerth player stonefain's holiday Tip of The Day video series has now drawn to a close. The 21 videos each explain a different trick that competitive players sometimes use to get an edge, from how to kill Kongor at level 1 and sell items without going back to spawn to the detailed guide below on good ward locations.


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.