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Not So Massively: D3 approaches, HoN reveals MidWars game mode


With just over a week to go until Diablo III is released, Blizzard revealed the final details of the real money auction house, released some fantastic new class wallpapers, and launched a TV advertising campaign. Meanwhile, Torchlight II showed off the impressive final result of its earlier armour design contest and encouraged players to produce armour mods when the game is released.

Heroes of Newerth released a brand-new community-inspired MidWars game map this week to lend official support to the popular unofficial game mode. League of Legends revealed upcoming champion Varus with a full run-down of his abilities and a great art spotlight video. Dota 2 fixed some bizarre bugs and introduced classic hero Phantom Lancer. Rise of Immortals revealed details of its upcoming immortal Nauria, the Angel of Agony. Finally, Wrath of Heroes announced the controversial addition of health potions to its microtransaction store.

Not So Massively title image
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Like any competitive multiplayer game, League of Legends induces its fair share of rage. People hate to lose. When your team is only three to five people, each contributor has a distinct identity, making it very easy to single out that feeding Ezreal.

League of Legends title image
League of Legends has a tradition of revealing new champions with a short comic, with Riot even reeling in Penny Arcade's Gabe and Tycho to make a special comic for upcoming champion Varus. Players have been anticipating Varus since just before the Hecarim patch, and it now looks like he'll be released in the next update. This week Riot released a champion reveal with in-game screenshots of Varus in action and a full run-down of his abilities and lore.

Varus' passive grants him an attack speed buff after each successful kill or assist, with a much larger buff if the kill is on a champion rather than a creep. This means players will likely have the buff up while last-hitting in the laning phase, increasing a good player's lane presence. Varus' other abilities make him an ideal sniper who can deal massive damage in a teamfight from a safe distance. His first ability, Piercing Arrow, aims a shot that gains additional range and damage the longer it's aimed. Blighted Quiver adds bonus damage and a Blight debuff to Varus' basic attacks, and any of his other abilities will detonate stacks of Blight on the enemy for additional damage.

Hail of Arrows targets the ground with desecrating arrows, creating an area of movement speed slow that also reduces healing and health regeneration. Placing this well in a teamfight could make a massive difference, as the slow will let Varus chase fleeing enemies. Chain of Corruption is Varus' ultimate ability, a targeted immobiliser that spreads between nearby champions like a disease. This is the perfect ability for a teamfight as it stops the whole enemy team in its tracks and lets Varus place Hail of Arrows more effectively.

Dota 2 title image
This weeks Dota 2 beta update fixed several bugs and gameplay exploits that will leave you scratching your head wondering how on earth someone figured them out. It apparently used to be possible to identify illusions by pinging them on the map and to blink out of a root spell if the blink started casting milliseconds before the root hit. The patch also added classic hero Phantom Lancer and a number of UI and bot fixes.

Diablo III title image
Blizzard announced this week that the real money auction house won't be live until a week after launch, but the studio has finalised the rules surrounding the AH's operation. A maximum price limit of $250 has been included for security reasons, and the cash-out fee will be a flat 15% of sale price. Items such as armour and weapons will have a sale fee of $1 removed from the takings, while commodities like crafting materials that are likely to be sold cheaply will have a 15% fee. It's also planned to possibly sell characters on the auction house, but this feature won't be in at first. The real money auction house will be split up by region, with separate versions for Europeans, players from Asia, and those playing from the rest of the world.

With just over a week left until Diablo III launches, retail boxes are already making their way across the world in preparation. The Darkness Falls, Heroes Rise minisite is due to unlock the massive final prize any day now; it's sitting at almost 100%. The 90% unlock featured awesome new class wallpapers, and it's expected that the 100% unlock will be an incredible trailer. This week also saw the release of TV advertisements for the game such as the one below.

Heroes of Newerth title image
When DotA clones like League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth started appearing on the market, it became immediately obvious that each game would have to provide something unique if it wanted to stand out. League of Legends seamlessly merged capture point gameplay into the standard MOBA framework with its Dominion game mode, and this week Heroes of Newerth fights back with MidWars.

MidWars is a new map based on the classic three-lane Forests of Caldavar but with the side-lanes and Kongor removed and tweaks to make the map more symmetrical. All players have only the middle lane to fight over, concentrating the action into a small area for faster and more intense matches. MidWars as a gameplay style has always been popular in the HoN community, whose members have been playing ad-hoc "All Mid" games for years in private matches using the standard three-lane map.

In All Mid games, players are forbidden from pushing the side-lanes and are often disallowed the use of Kongor, runes, or neutral creeps. The losing team would often break these community-appointed rules in an attempt to win by cheating. With the new MidWars map, many of those rules are built in and the others are balanced so that they don't favour either team. There is now only one neutral spawn camp and the rune now spawns in the same position every two minutes. Hopefully we'll see more of this community-driven development in future, perhaps with Pink vs. Blue game mode added as a real option in the matchmaking system.

Rise of Immortals title image
This week the Rise of Immortals team revealed new immortal Nauria, the Angel of Agony. Her massive sentient sword can shoot out and grab enemy players at a distance, dragging them back into melee range. Nauria's Shroud of Despair ability deals damage to nearby enemies and heals her for 100% of the damage dealt. Sanguine Rites is an interesting charged ability that generates charges by healing allies and expends them to deal extra damage to enemies. Nauria's other abilities include ears you could hang Christmas tree decorations on and blue boobs popping right out of her gold-plated armour.

Torchlight II title image
Back in February, the winners of Torchlight II's armour design contest were announced. The two winning entries were given to the design team to produce the final models, and this week that team finally unveiled the impressive finished results. These full armour sets will be added to the 83 sets (including 24 class-specific ones) hidden around the game.

Runic Games isn't satisfied with just getting players into game development through isolated contests, however, as this week the team freely released the base character models it uses to design armour. Senior Character Artist Jamus explained the process he goes through in creating armour, encouraged players to develop armour mods for the game, and promised to release a tutorial for modders right after launch.

Wrath of Heroes title image
Wrath of Heroes has always tried to be a more fast-paced deathmatch than typical MOBAs, but found that players would often hide between fights to regenerate health. To solve this problem, developers announced new health potions that will completely regenerate health but that can only be used outside combat.

The announcement has sparked some complaints, as potions can only be purchased in the store. As some characters also have abilities that take them out of combat, the distinction between whether a player is in combat or not could also introduce exploitable loopholes. Players have also complained that premade teams tend to have dedicated healers anyway, making this item useful mainly for solo players who don't join groups.

Join us every Monday 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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