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Not So Massively: How many Monkey Kings do we really need?


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 Monday, the column covers games such as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Rise of Immortals, Bloodline Champions and more.

Last week we got a first look at League of Legends' upcoming champion Wukong the Monkey King and heard two awesome LoL parody songs. We also brought you the news that the price of Heroes of Newerth had dropped to $10, a deal that is currently still active and has no closing date. We got to grips with Realm of the Titans' new Titan's Eye map, HoN's latest hero Revenant, and a new tournament structure with prizes for Bloodline Champions. We also briefly introduced World of Battles: Morningstar, a fresh mix of MOBA and RTS gameplay where large armies clash on the battlefield.

In this week's Not So Massively, we reveal the closed beta date for Realm of the Titans and introduce the incredibly unlikely online game Family Guy Online. We also hear more from the Rise of Immortals team about the game's ongoing open beta, and I give my first impressions of the World of Battles: Morningstar open beta. This week seems to be an accidental Monkey King special, as both League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth reveal gameplay details of their surprisingly similar upcoming Monkey King characters. League of Legends also launched a new contest this week, offering players the chance to win prizes by writing and performing their own LoL theme songs.

Over the past few months, the Realm of the Titans team has released a series of teaser videos showing off new characters, maps and gameplay modes for the upcoming MOBA. The videos focused a lot of time on gameplay suggestions and strategies even though the game is not currently playable. People have been anxiously awaiting the beginning of beta since these videos started being released, but until now we didn't know when that would be.

This week Aeria Games revealed that the RotT closed beta will launch in two days on Wednesday 27th July. If you're interested in getting a head start on this upcoming MOBA and providing feedback that will make a real difference to the game, Massively will be handing out a series of beta keys in a giveaway tomorrow. Stay tuned to the Realm of the Titans tag page or Massively's twitter feed for your chance to get into the closed beta.

If you haven't yet been convinced that it's possible to make an online game out of anything, Family Guy Online is here to change your mind. The title joins a growing list of intellectual properties that don't really make sense as online games, and Family Guy Online is due to start open beta some time this year. The game is being called an MMO, but until we get some conclusive hands-on time with its gameplay we can only confirm that it's a web-based multiplayer online game.

To help judge interest levels for the open beta, the developers behind Family Guy Online have released an early version of the game's character creator to the public. Rather than having players take control of the iconic characters from the TV series, developers have reverse-engineered each character to produce a class. Peter class characters will fulfill a tank role, for example, while Lois types will be healers and Stewie will be a ranged DPS class. If you're a fan of Family Guy or just curious about this upcoming title, head over to the official website and sign up to start playing with the character creator.

The big news for League of Legends fans this week is that champion Kayle is soon to be completely redesigned. In addition to new models, animations and sounds, Kayle's abilities have been reworked to reduce her dependence on items and balance her late-game potential. This week's Summoner Showcase features a spooky Orianna doll, some awesome LoL themed manga and a parody song called "I Just Got Ganked."

Following the recent rash of LoL parodies and original songs, Riot Games is launching its second Song of the Summoned contest. To be in with a chance to win, players have to write and perform a new League of Legends theme song. After the successful turn-out of last year's Song of the Summoned contest, there are sure to be some great entries this time around.

Last week Riot Games gave us a sneak peek at upcoming champion Wukong the Monkey King. Following that up this week, summoners were treated to both a Wukong art spotlight and a gameplay preview. If you'd like to find out more about this new champion's abilities ahead of his upcoming champion spotlight, check out the Wukong gameplay preview, embedded below:

In the midst of newly released details on League of Legends' upcoming Monkey King champion, S2 games has announced its own plans to create an almost identical hero in Heroes of Newerth. S2 answered cries that the company was simply copying LoL by presenting publicly available concept art on their Monkey King hero dating back to before the LoL beta.

It was also further emphasized that both characters were inspired by the character of the same name in the ancient Chinese epic Journey to the West. Considering the popularity of this story, which was also the inspiration behind Dragonball and other popular works of fiction, it's not surprising that both studios decided to base a character on it.

Rise of Immortals went into open beta two weeks ago, and so far impressions of the game have been largely positive. In a new dev podcast, the Petroglyph team responsible for RoI talks about some of the changes happening in the open beta based on player feedback. Balak was proving to be incredibly overpowered with certain items and has been reworked, and the PvE map difficulty is being decreased to help players learn new characters. Developers also mentioned an experimental 10v10 mode heading to the game, which may end up with extremely long matches.

Last week I introduced World of Battles: Morningstar, a new multiplayer online game that mixes MOBA gameplay with traditional RTS army control. MOBA players will be familiar with the game's matchmaking system and global powers but may take some time to get used to controlling multiple army units. Fans of traditional RTS games will find their usual resource gathering and base building mechanics replaced by a system in which armies can be customized out of battle and spawn anew each game. This week I've been playing World of Battles to get some first impressions of the upcoming title, which is currently in open beta.

The tutorial mode takes around five minutes to acquaint players with the basic game controls, and before you enter multiplayer games you're required to complete at least one quick single-player mission. All in all, I was through these tutorial stages in around 15 minutes, which was extremely quick for getting used to a game so fundamentally different than the MOBA norm.

I'm not sure what I was expecting with WoB's multiplayer, but I liked what I found. Matchmaking throws you together with several allied armies against an equal number of opponents in a fight to the death. Language barriers were an issue here as the game has a large Russian following.

The pace of combat was very much slower than MOBAs like League of Legends, and yet I still found myself clicking frantically as I reacted to enemy troop movements and predicted how the battle would unfold. If games like Heroes of Newerth are part strategy and part action, World of Battles is definitely all strategy. You can hide your ranged units behind trees, then use a battalion of fast cavalry to bait enemy troops into an ambush. You can even coordinate with teammates to set up classic tactical maneuvers that wouldn't find themselves out of place on a real life battlefield.

I found the default graphics settings to yield surprisingly poor results for a new game, but after turning all the settings to maximum the game actually didn't look too bad. The camera is locked to a low height off the ground to limit sight distance, but once I got used to moving around the screen with the cursor keys this didn't feel like a big restriction. In contrast to the drawn out hour-long matches you can sometimes expect in HoN, WoB battles typically take between five and ten minutes. Players also get some gold and XP rewards for losing, which can be used to upgrade your army with new equipment.

All in all, I found WoB to be a surprisingly fun and quick game to get into. You can pick it up immediately and within 20 minutes you'll be working your way through multiplayer games or singleplayer challenges and customizing your army. The one thing I'm not sure about is how well the game will function as a platform for high-level competitive tournament play, but the potential for it is definitely there. If you're interested in giving WoB a try, head over to the official website to sign up to the open beta.

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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