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Not So Massively: Exclusive reveals, Diablo III, and HoNiversary


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 recent years, the online space has been invaded by countless small-to-medium-sized development studios producing some awesome online games. Some of the games have included MMO elements, using an ongoing iterative development strategy and marrying a form of character or stat persistence to what would otherwise be just a match-based game. In last week's Not So Massively, we got a first look at Aida Arenas, introduced the first Rise of Immortals developer podcast, and announced the massive League of Legends Your DreamHack contest. We also got to grips with the new HoN's hero Flux.

In this week's absolutely colossal multi-part Not So Massively, we've got our hands on an exclusive reveal of Rise of Immortals' creepy necromancer The Netheurgist. We go on to look at the new LoL champion Vayne in patch and the major Honiversary one-year update to Heroes of Newerth, which has decreased the learning curve significantly and turned the game free-to-play until Sunday, May 22nd. We also take a look at a few new games this week, including Prime World, Realm of the Titans, Karma Online, and Blizzard's highly anticipated Diablo III.

The developers at Petroglyph have been hard at work creating new characters for their upcoming MOBA Rise of Immortals, with a new immortal being revealed almost every week. With open beta rapidly approaching, this week it's Massively's turn to reveal a new RoI immortal whom you'll be able to play when the game goes live. Sporting an eerie Edward Scissorhands look, The Netheurgist flays enemies with his necromantic abilities. The lore surrounding The Netheurgist suggests that he was once mortal and made a dark pact with some dark forces for his powers.
"[As he is o]ne of the most mysterious Immortals to journey to Graxia, next to nothing is known about The Netheurgist. It is rumored that he was once mortal, an elf sorcerer who made a dark pact with unholy abominations and was cursed. Other rumors claim that he was once a nobleman who sacrificed his soul to save the life of his true love. Regardless of where the truth actually lies, The Netheurgist justly deserves the terror and fear his legend inspires.

"Named after the unique form of magic he wields to torture his victims, The Netheurgist is an unrelenting agent of misery and pain who torments his enemies with nightmares made real. The most telling example of The Netheurgist's power is the curse he placed on Lord Vezin's people; in one moment, he damned an entire culture to spend every moment of their lives tormented by living, never-ending nightmares."
If that lore has piqued your interest, the gallery below contains details of The Netheurgist's abilities, a few pieces of concept art and some screenshots of him in action:

Gallery: Rise of Immortals | 34 Photos

In recent years, MMOs and other online games have helped transform the games industry into a profit-making machine to rival the television and film industries. The online space has seen countless blockbuster hits, and yet some of the most financially successful games haven't been high-budget titles. The success of Facebook games and the viral nature of social media have prompted many developers to see social networking as the next stage in online gaming.

Produced by Los Angeles-based developer Nival, Prime World is an upcoming online game that will attempt to merge classic MOBA gameplay with social media. Elements of the game will be available on the PC, mac, Facebook and both iOS- and Android-based smartphones. Using the Unity 3-D game engine, Nival will be able to publish the same game to all of the above platforms without expensive or time-consuming redevelopment.

Prime World will focus on both competitive PvP matches and co-operative castle-building gameplay, with social links through Facebook. As the game will be free-to-play and supported through a cash shop, it's hoped that the social side of the game will encourage people to buy their friends gifts in the game and spend time helping them out. The game will be first demonstrated this year at E3 , where we'll find out more about exactly how all of this cross-platform gameplay ties together.

Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo III is probably one of the most highly anticipated titles of recent years. An entire generation of gamers grew up on its predecessors, providing many of us with a really good first taste of multiplayer fantasy action. While there will be a singleplayer campaign, Diablo III will have a familiar focus on team-based cooperative multiplayer via Blizzard has already revealed several classes and some solid gameplay videos, and we expect to see some new information revealed over this year's E3.

In the Activision Blizzard conference call to investors this week summarising first-quarter results, Blizzard co-founder Michael Morhaime revealed some more information about Diablo III's closed beta schedule. "I am pleased to report that we began internal, company-wide testing last week," Michael told listeners. "The game is looking great, and we're currently aiming at a third quarter launch for external beta testing." If this beta schedule holds up, there's a distinct possibility that the game might arrive in time for Christmas.

Happy Honiversary! On Thursday, May 12th, 2011, Heroes of Newerth reached the magical mark of one-year since release. Not just surviving but absolutely thriving in the online market, Heroes of Newerth has seen countless updates and overhauls since it was first released. There are now dozens of heroes in the game, ensuring that no game ever plays the same way. Despite its initial purchase price and the fact it has free-to-play competitors, HoN still manages to draw in an average of 30,000 players at the same time, with daily peaks of 50,000 players during prime gaming time.

To celebrate HoN's one-year anniversary, S2 Games has made the game free to play until Sunday, May 22nd. HoN normally costs a one-time purchase price of $30 US, and ongoing development is funded through a cash shop offering alternate skins, announcer voice packs, chat icons, and other cosmetic effects. During the free-play period, players will also receive a free HoN account with a purchase of $40 US worth of gold coins used to buy premium items in the cash shop. If you've got a friend you've always wanted to get into HoN and wanted an excuse to buy some gold coins, it doesn't get much better than this.

As if that weren't enough, the developers at S2 have pushed live the biggest usability patch to date. The steep learning curve of HoN and its community's lack of tolerance for players making bad choices with items and skills can really turn new players away from the game.

Traditionally, new players have been pointed to guides on the forum describing item and skill builds for particular heroes. With the new patch, however, full professionally made hero guides are available in-game for free. New simple tooltips for abilities have also been introduced to help new players understand what each of their skills does in a very clear manner.

To top it off, players are now given recommendations on skill builds to take, with the community voting on which recommendations will appear in-game. The item shop has also received a huge overhaul, including a search feature that even recognises the old DotA names for items that HoN has an equivalent of. Item recommendations are now split into early-game, mid-game and late-game suggestions, and it's now much easier to see what items build into other items. With this patch, it really seems that S2 is trying to attract both newbies and hardcore DotA players alike.

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