Not So Massively: D3's auction house closing, Star Citizen salvaging, and new MOBA heroes

Not So Massively D3's auction house closing Star Citizen salvaging and new MOBA heroes
Blizzard revealed that Diablo III's real money and gold auction house will be officially shut down next March ahead of the Reaper of Souls expansion. The change comes as good news to players who found that the auction house undermined the core loot-hunting gameplay by providing a shortcut to get better items. Path of Exile revealed its new Lightning Trap and Smoke Bomb skills that will be introduced in patch 0.11.6 along with a few other surprises. Star Citizen revealed its $21 million stretch goal to be a new salvaging gameplay feature that has fans of Firefly a little excited, and developers clarified that they will continue to raise funds after the $21 million goal is reached.

Valve broke its recent silence on Dota 2 to reveal the upcoming First Blood update, which introduces local network play and a new Captain's Draft game mode. Third-person MOBA SMITE added new character Thanatos, the Hand of Death, and Heroes of Newerth added ranged intelligence hero Circe the Deceiver. And Blizzard All-Stars popped out of the shadows again this week when Blizzard put up a job listing for an e-sports director for the title.
Diablo III title image
Even before Diablo III launched, it caught flak from players for its controversial real-money auction house. Some gamers complained that letting players buy their way into the best gear breaks the loot progression of the game, but it later became clear that the gold auction house was far more destructive in this respect. The game was designed so that only those with the best gear could initially farm acts three and four in Inferno mode, where the best gear was most likely to drop. As a result, the auction house was full of items that were better than anything the average player could find himself. The Auction House became the primary method of acquiring new gear, and finding upgrades for your gear was an extremely rare occurrence.

Blizzard realised its mistake months after Diablo III's release but had limited success solving the issue with simple loot and itemisation improvements. This week Blizzard announced that it will be permanently shutting down both the real money and gold auction houses in March when the Reaper of Souls expansion launches. This update will also come with the Loot 2.0 upgrade, which promises to dramatically increase the rate at which upgrades will drop for players. If the loot changes had been pushed through in isolation, the auction house would have been rapidly flooded with all the best gear and the loot players are finding would appear poor by comparison. The announcement that the auction houses will be closing has been the cause for much optimism in the community.

Path of Exile title image
If you've been playing a trap-based build in Path of Exile, you're in for a few surprises. Patch 0.11.6 is due to go live this week, adding a new Lightning Trap skill, the Multiple Trap support gem, and several new unique items designed to augment traps. Check out the video below for a sneak preview of the new skill in action. To help trap characters to stay mobile, a new Smoke Bomb teleport skill will also be added in the patch.

Star Citizen title image
After reaching its $19 million stretch goal last week, developers revealed that the $21 million stretch goal is a new salvaging gameplay feature. If funding reaches this level, players will be able to salvage shipwrecks for valuable components and cargo, search the galaxy for secrets both in space and on land, and possibly even be the first to make contact with a new alien race.

Developers also clarified this week that while $21 million was the total originally quoted to make Star Citizen, the standard stretch goals will actually continue until $23 million to account for fulfillment of physical rewards and fees from Kickstarter, Paypal, and Credit Card providers. Chris Roberts put the question of what to do once that ultimate goal is actually reached out to the community in a web poll, with fans overwhelmingly voting to continue fundraising for extra features and development milestones.

Dota 2 title image
Valve has been a little quiet on the Dota 2 front since The International 3 ended, and this week we found out why. Developers have been working on the huge First Blood update, which introduces local network play, armoury improvements, and a new Captain's Draft game mode. Not to be confused with Captain's Mode, the new game mode creates a randomised pool of 24 heroes and asks each team's captain to ban two before taking turns to pick a team of five from the remaining selections. The lack of LAN play is the reason that Dota 2 wasn't available at the freeplay area in this year's PAX, so this update should ensure that it's there in future years.

SMITE title image
Third-person MOBA SMITE continued to grow its roster of deities and demigods this week with the addition of Thanatos, the Hand of Death. Wielding his signature scythe, Thanatos is literally the avatar of death; his ultimate ability lets him instantly kill enemies below a certain health threshold by leaping into the air and slamming down on top of them. Enemies above the health threshold just take damage and are stunned. His passive ability automatically reveals enemies within range of his ultimate and grants him a significant buff and health boost when he instantly kills an opponent.

This pairs well with Thanatos' other abilities, which help him chase down enemies and whittle their hitpoints down. He can throw his scythe to deal damage at long range and heal for a portion of the damage dealt, slowing enemies hit in the process. He can also buff himself with movement speed to chase down fleeing targets and swing his scythe in an arc in front of him to deal damage and silence all enemies struck. Once the enemy's hitpoints are low enough, he can activate his ultimate and swoop in for the kill.

Blizzard All-Stars title image
Back in 2011, Blizzard took Valve to court for its use of the DotA brand, claiming that since the original Defense of the Ancients mod was built in WarCraft III under license from Blizzard, that Valve didn't have the right to call its game Dota 2. Shortly before issuing the legal challenge, Blizzard announced that it was working on its own new MOBA named Blizzard DOTA.

The case was eventually settled, and Blizzard renamed its game Blizzard All-Stars, but the title then promptly disappeared into the ether and wasn't mentioned again for over a year. Now Blizzard appears to be taking the game seriously again, as it's put up a job posting for an e-sports Director to work on the title. The game sees players take on the role of iconic characters from Blizzard's other games, including Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, and StarCraft.

Heroes of Newerth title image
September 25th sees the release of Heroes of Newerth's latest hero, Circe the Deceiver. This ranged intelligence hero has been in development for over a year in the developer's spare time. Circe's abilities are all based on controlling the battlefield rather than just dealing damage. Entrapment fires a shadow bolt in the target direction that deals magic damage and roots the first enemy struck for several seconds. When the root effect wears off, Entrapment will spread to up to one nearby enemy hero.

Circe's Doppelganger ability creates an illusion of the enemy hero and slightly slows the target enemy to ensure the illusions can keep up with him. She can also create an illusion of herself with the Deceive ability that will follow the last movement command issued before the spell was cast. Circe herself turns invisible as part of the spell, making this a potentially useful escape or trap maneuver. Circe's ultimate ability transforms her into a duplicate of any selected enemy, with all of that player's items and abilities.

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This article was originally published on Massively.