Not So Massively: Release all the MOBA heroes!

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Not So Massively: Release all the MOBA heroes!
Not So Massively title image
It's been a huge week for MOBAs, with several new characters being released and one game closing its doors for good. League of Legends finally revamped underused champion Karma and released new character Zac, a strange green blob who drops parts of himself all over the battlefield and can even revive after death. Dota 2 released classic hero Bristleback, a spined boar who slows enemies with a disgusting snot attack and slowly peppers them with spiked quills.

SMITE released god of music Apollo, who can deal damage by playing his lyre, sing enemies to sleep, and even power-slide like a rock star. Heroes of Newerth is in between hero releases, but its recent HoN 3.0 update has earned it the title of Best MOBA at PAX East 2013 by gaming website RTSGuru.

Warhammer-themed MOBA Wrath of Heroes officially closed its doors on March 29th, and its website has now been replaced with a message by producer James Casey. Finally, Diablo III's former Game Director Jay Wilson gave a talk at GDC 2013 in which he blamed many of the game's downfalls on both the gold and cash auction houses.

League of Legends title image
The winners of the League of Legends Off-The-Clock comic contest have now been announced, and Riot has put together a webpage showcasing the best entries. Patch 3.5 also went live this week, adding hilarious new champion Zac and revamping 2011-released champion Karma.

Zac is a green blob of sentient goo who fills the role of melee tank and is best in the jungle or a solo lane. Abilities cost Zac a percentage of his current health, while picking up blobs heals a percentage of his maximum health. This allows Zac to survive for a long time on low health by spamming abilities and picking up the blobs that drop.

Zac spends health to cast abilities, but each attack he makes causes blobs of himself to fall off that can be picked up to regain health. This ability also causes Zac to split into four blobs on death, which then try to get back to the point of death and recombine. If at least one blob makes it back to his body, Zac will revive with a small amount of health.

Dota 2 title image
Dota 2 added another classic DotA hero to its roster this week with melee initiator Bristleback entering the fray. Bristleback is a tanky boar with the ability to shoot spines and snot at his enemies. These abilities are individually quite weak, but they have very short cooldowns, and the effects of successive casts will quickly stack up to great effect. He can fire a Quill Spray every three seconds, dealing a small amount of damage to nearby enemies plus stacking bonus damage to enemies recently struck with quills.

The disgustingly named Viscous Nasal Goo spell launches a glob of snot at the target enemy, reducing his armour and slowing him slightly. Not only do multiple casts on the same enemy stack up to four times, but each cast refreshes the current stack timer to a fresh five seconds. The ability itself is on a cooldown of 1.5 seconds and costs only 30 mana, making it perfect for chasing down fleeing heroes.

Bristleback's third ability is a passive that reduces damage taken from the sides or rear and causes a free Quill Spray to be released for every 250 damage received. His ultimate ability, Warpath, is another unique passive that grants him a stacking bonus to base damage and movement speed with each attack. All of these abilities combine to make the hero extremely effective at chasing down enemies without making him difficult to play.

Heroes of Newerth title image
While League of Legends has become a global phenomenon and Dota 2 continues to smash Steam gaming records, RTSGuru recently named Heroes of Newerth as the best MOBA at PAX East 2013. The site was impressed with the recent HoN 3.0 game overhaul, which not only improved the graphics throughout the game but also added bots and other gameplay elements to help new players get into the game.

SMITE title image
Game developers draw inspiration for their characters from a variety of places, and for third-person MOBA SMITE, that inspiration comes from gods and mythological creatures. The latest god to be revealed is ranged physical assassin Apollo, God of Music. Apollo's passive ability triggers after he makes 10 basic attacks and adds an attack speed buff to his next five attacks.

Apollo can play his lyre to deal physical damage to all enemies in a line or sing a serenade to mesmerise nearby enemies for a few seconds. He can also power-slide across the ground on his knees, dealing physical damage to enemies struck and knocking them out of his path. Apollo's ultimate ability puts him in his chariot and launches it into the sky. The chariot rides across the map until Apollo decides to land, plunging the chariot to the ground and dealing physical damage to all enemies in the target area.

Wrath of Heroes title image
EA and Bioware's first foray into the MOBA genre ended this week as Warhammer-themed game Wrath of Heroes officially closed its doors. The servers were shut down on March 29th, and the website has now been replaced with a final message from producer James Casey. The tone of the message is somber but not regretful. Casey explains that he relished the weekly developer-vs.-player fight nights, the opportunity to test new server technology, and the chance to experiment with the free-to-play business model.

Diablo III title image
As part of a talk at GDC 2013 this week, former Diablo III Game Director Jay Wilson admitted that both the real money auction house and the standard one "really hurt the game." Developers vastly underestimated the number of players who would use the auction house, the server load that would cause, and the devaluing effect it would have on item rewards.

One of the big problems with Diablo III's auction house is that it makes gear from later stages of the game significantly more accessible, to the point that the easiest way to progress is to grind up some gold and buy gear from further along in the game. When you then make further progress, the gear you find on your own won't be any better than what you're already wearing, and this can make the loot quality feel underwhelming.

Jay said that he thinks the devs would disable the auction house if they could but that they have no idea how many players like or hate the feature. Developers are reportedly working on a viable solution to the problems caused by the auction house, but no details have been revealed. We already know that Blizzard is trying out some new features that could solve this problem with its upcoming itemisation patch, but there could be other changes in the works.

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