Not So Massively: Open betas, antisocial players and graphical overhauls

Not So Massively title image
Path of Exile entered open beta this week as a peak of 56,700 simultaneous players piled into the servers to check the game out. Open beta brought with it the final character wipe, so for all intents and purposes, the game has now released. Upcoming first-person MOBA SMITE similarly opened its doors to the public last Thursday and released a series of new gameplay updates and graphical overhauls.

League of Legends issued permanent game bans to two extremely antisocial professional players, effectively removing Team Solo Mebdi from upcoming European competitive tournaments. Dota 2 moved to curb antisocial harassment behaviour this week by implementing new privacy features to stop players' stats from being tracked by third-party rating websites.

Heroes of Newerth announced some major upcoming graphical and gameplay overhauls with its massive Patch 3.0 update that will go live in just a few days. The update aims to revamp the map graphics and introduce bots for players to play against in a new co-op mode. Rise of Immortals continued development with the release of its new mage immortal Undine, and Blizzard announced that its upcoming MOBA Blizzard All-Stars is still in development.

Path of Exile title image
Path of Exile officially entered open beta this week and had its final character stat wipe. The servers struggled under the weight of 56,700 simultaneous players and countless thousands downloading the game. If you're not sure if you'd like Path of Exile, tune into the Massively Livestream this Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST to see what it's all about. I gave my first impressions of the game back in October 2011 before competing action RPG Diablo III was released, and I'm keen to see how Path of Exile stacks up against it now that it's in open beta.

League of Legends title image
League of Legends has taken a harsh stance against disruptive behaviour with its player-mediated banning tribunal, and even top professional players aren't immune from punishment. It doesn't matter how good you are at LoL -- if you can't keep yourself from verbally abusing the opposition, then you can't compete.

This week two competitive players, Khaled "StunnedandSlayed" Abusagr and Nicolaj "Veigodx" Jensen, were booted from the game for harassing other players. Both players have been permanently banned and barred from all tournaments for life, and all accounts they create will be killed on sight. The punishment forced Team Solo Mebdi to drop out of an upcoming European competition due to not having enough players.

On a lighter note, this week's LoL patch introduced new tanky support champion Thresh. We got our first look at Thresh's abilities last week and can finally see them in action in the champion spotlight video below. Thresh focuses on controlling the position of players on the battlefield, pushing and pulling enemies with Flay and Death Sentence and helping allies escape or join the battle with his Dark Passage ability.

Dota 2 title image
MOBAs are highly competitive by nature, and the team-based gameplay means that one player on your team underperforming can cause you to lose a match. This sometimes leads to players harassing their own teammates for poor performance, especially if players' previous match stats are made public. This became a serious problem for Dota 2 recently as player-built website DotaBuff began tracking the stats of every public game and compiling its own third-party rating scores for each player. This led to some in-game harassment as players started looking up their teammates' stats during the hero-picking phase.

In response, Valve added a new privacy option that stops matches being released to the public and enabled the option by default on all accounts. Competitive players still have the option of making their match histories public, and anonymous stats on heroes and items are still to be published as usual. The change is hoped to cut down on toxic behaviour in the game and help create a more tolerant gaming community. Third-party stat-tracking websites have been protesting the change.

Heroes of Newerth title image
Heroes of Newerth was one of the first in the new wave of MOBAs, and at over two years old, it's starting to look its age. Developer S2 Games revealed details of its massive upcoming Patch 3.0 this week, one that aims to revamp the entire game with gameplay changes and all-new graphics and animations. The map has been updated with high-quality textures, and the defense towers now look amazing. Heroes will also contrast better with the background, and their animations will be much smoother than before.

The biggest change in the patch is the introduction of bots and co-op game modes that have proven popular in League of Legends and Dota 2. It's difficult for new players to really get into MOBAs for the first time due to the steep learning curve, and playing against bots offers the ability to train before jumping right in at the deep end. The AI scripting will actually be released to the public so that modders can develop better AI routines and even run bot-vs.-bot AI modding challenges. To combat antisocial behaviour, new algorithms will streamline the abuse reporting feature to "make sure that jerks are getting the punishment they deserve."

SMITE title image
Upcoming MOBA SMITE officially entered open beta last Thursday, and to celebrate, developers revealed all-new content and features for the beta. The Conquest map has undergone some serious graphical overhauls, and players can test their skills on a singleplayer practice map. Multiplayer games now have a new draft mode tactical picking system, and players can create teams to enter competitive ranked matches. The spectator mode has also been upgraded to allow streamers and tournament organisers to show SMITE at its best, and the feature will soon be rolled out to the general public.

Rise of Immortals title image
Rise of Immortals continued its regular updates with the release of new immortal Undine this week. Undine is an aquatic mage with an array of powerful skill-shot nukes and area-effect spells.

Blizzard All-Stars title image
With so many new MOBAs being released lately and League of Legends becoming the most played game in the world, it's no surprise that Blizzard wanted in on the action. Developers first announced their new MOBA Blizzard DOTA shortly before a court case with Valve over their use of the Dota brand. Blizzard went on to settle the case with Valve, renaming the game Blizzard All-Stars and promptly falling off the gaming radar. Developers piped up this week to announce that the game is still under development and that a lot of the remaining work is for systems to handle a free-to-play business model.

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This article was originally published on Massively.