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Not So Massively: What are all these games doing on my internets?


Welcome to Not So Massively, our weekly roundup of the top news from popular multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) and other multiplayer online games that aren't quite MMOs. Published every Saturday, the column covers games such as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Defense of the Ancients, Bloodline Champions, and more.

In the past few years, we've seen a virtual revolution in online gaming. MMOs have taken off in a big way, but the latest online games to really capture our attention have been a little less than "massively." Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas and other session-based online games feature regular development updates and offer a form of persistence by tracking stats and characters, making them a lot closer to MMOs than traditional online games.

Last week we looked at the updated Engineer in Heroes of Newerth (who I can confirm is now hilariously broken and fun to play), League of Legends' new champion Brand, and the first details of Rise of Immortals character Ichorr. In this week's bumper edition of Not So Massively, we look at upcoming HoN hero Silhouette, the adorable LoL Cottontail Teemo, LoL's 24th summoner showcase, Easter updates for Bloodline Champions, Darkspore's new hero Skar, Hi-Rez Studios' new MOBA Smite, and much more.

Players of Bloodline Champions will be pleased to know that if they log on before April 25th they'll receive one of three free "Eggniter" costumes. This comes as part of the week's massive patch, which itself comes with a few much-needed updates to the tournament and matchmaking systems. The majority of the changes in this patch are changes to the user interface, removing small annoyances and adding some new functionality for players. Twelve new achievements have also been created, and as usual the patch comes with a series of balance tweaks and champion updates. Also in the news is the revelation that Funcom and Stunlock Studios will be sponsoring gaming convention TooManyGames 2011, scheduled for May 6th to May 8th at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.

Vlogger Katersoneseven was invited to play Darkspore before the game's official release, publishing an interesting behind-the-scenes look at Maxis. This week we also stumbled across a new hero spotlight video on the upcoming hero Skar, the Shadow of Death. With both his main attacks and his combo attacks hitting targets twice, Skar makes great use of any effects that proc on hit. Skar's unique attack is a high-damage melee strike that increases the damage of any further melee hits on the target, making it a good combat opener. The debuff can stack multiple times, which is sure to come in handy on tough enemies.

Skar's passive ability increases the damage he deals when behind a target, meaning he really begins to shine in multiplayer when another hero has aggro. Continuing with his rogue-like setup, Skar's squad ability is a short stealth which causes aggro to move onto other heroes. Skar becomes immune to damage during the first second of the stealth, and his first attack after it is guaranteed to deal critical damage. This stealth can be used on other heroes in multiplayer for some epic damaging combos. Watch the hero spotlight video below to see Skar in action.

The developers on Heroes of Newerth have been releasing a new hero practically every other week recently. While new content is always a blessing in any game, it does take a few weeks for players to fully test out new heroes, figure out how to play them and provide useful feedback. Adding to the chaos this week, S2 Games gave IGN a first new look at Silhouette, the knife-toting female ninja. She's a ranged agility hero focused on fast movement and burst damage and with a long-range finisher, making her a potentially fantastic early- to mid-game ganker. Silhouette went live in-game yesterday.

Silhouette's first skill, Death Lotus, creates massive knives that rotate around her dealing magic damage to anyone they touch. On activation, the knives will be shot out at their current vector to deal a large-damage nuke, making them perfect for sniping escaping heroes or low-health players hugging a tower. Her second skill, Tree Grapple, is an incredibly useful trick for escaping, chasing or initiating fights. It hooks a selected tree within a 1200 range with a rope, and Silhouette can then pull herself toward the tree or pull the tree toward herself, in either case stunning and damaging heroes caught in between.

Silhouette's third skill adds a stacking debuff to her normal attacks, which increases the damage further attacks deal. This isn't a huge deal on its own, but the skill also gives Silhouette ludicrous attack speed for the two attacks following any other abilities. This lets you stack up the debuff rapidly after pulling off a good hook or alternatively use the hook and normal attack as a finisher against a fleeing hero. Silhouette's ultimate skill creates a duplicate illusion of herself with which she can swap places instantly. Watch the hero spotlight video below to see how this all adds up in actual gameplay.

League of Legends is getting into the Easter spirit this week with the release of the adorable little Cottontail Teemo skin. It launched alongside a not-so-easter-themed Battleborn Kayle skin. Also in the news this week is a sneak peek at the upcoming champion Rumble, the Mechanized Menace. Rumble is a cute little guy sitting at the controls of a massive death-spewing robot. He has a harpoon gun, a massive spiked fist on a piston, rockets, and a flamethrower. No gameplay of the upcoming hero has yet been released, but there is another art spotlight video showing the creation of a piece of Rumble concept art.

The big news piece this week is the release of Summoner Showcase issue 24. In each edition of its Summoner Showcase, Riot Games looks at the creative works of LoL players. Presented by a confident Nikasaur, this issue has a focus on player-created art. Players have been creating My Little Pony-style versions of LoL champions, with some impressive results. LoL player Armorbreak continued the trend of impressive artwork this week with his complex origami champions. To see this and more, watch the Summoner Showcase video embedded below or head over to the official news announcement.

The first details were released this week on Nysuss, a new in-development character for Rise of Immortals. The guys over at Big Download were given a first look at the character and its abilities. RoI is still in closed beta and due for launch some time this year. In a new producer's letter, Petroglyph's Trovoc explained the next step for the closed beta programme. Thousands of players have already been accepted into the beta, and that number is set to rise. Three new immortals will hit the beta soon for play-testing before details of them are released to the public.

With the rising popularity of MOBAs, it's not surprise that more developers are jumping on the concept. Global Agenda developer Hi-Rez Studios revealed this week that the company has been working on a new MOBA named Smite for the past few months. Using the same format that HoN, LoL and many other popular MOBAs have seen success with, Smite will be heavily DoTA-inspired. The game boasts a third-person viewpoint as opposed to the currently successful RTS camera viewpoint. Smite's characters will be based on the gods of ancient mythology, with examples like Zeus and Anubis having already been revealed. No solid details of the game or its gameplay have yet been released, and there are no screenshots of the game in action.

Join us every Saturday 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

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