This week is packed with MOBA news as almost every major title released a new patch. Infinite Crisis introduced new champions Poison Ivy and Gaslight Catwoman and announced that the game's closed beta will start in two days' time on May 8th. SMITE introduced new Norse god Fenrir the Unbound, and League of Legends released a champion spotlight on new Ice Witch champion Lissandra. Dota 2 also released new hero Elder Titan based on the original DotA hero Tauren Chieftain, and Heroes of Newerth released several months of balance changes at once in its colossal version 3.1 update.
Star Citizen celebrated hitting $9 million US in its ongoing crowdfunding campaign, and to celebrate, developers controversially gave all current backers free lifetime insurance on their ships. The title's success has also spurred EVE Online developer CCP Games to show off its own virtual reality dogfighter called EVR that uses the upcoming Oculus Rift headset.
Diablo III's first anniversary is just over a week away; details of any celebrations haven't yet been released. Developers confirmed that the PlayStation 4 version will not be getting mouse and keyboard support and that the PC version won't be getting support for analog controllers. For those of you up for some oldschool dungeon-crawling, Diablo II also announced that its ladder will be reset on May 14th this week and all players will start the game fresh again.
Infinite Crisis closed beta starts May 8 Wednesday, May 8th marks the start of Infinite Crisis' closed beta test. The new DC-centric MOBA is accepting signups now on its official website, and Turbine has released a bit of new art focusing on various multiverse Wonder Woman variants to celebrate the occasion.
SMITE unchains the might of Fenrir After many years, we finally have the answer to a rhetorical question: SMITE let the dogs out. Well, one dog -- Fenrir. But he's enough dog to count for all the others.
Stick and Rudder: Star Citizen celebrates $9 million with Auroras, space suits, and LTI You know, Star Citizen occasionally seems too good to be true. Take this past week, for example. It saw not one, not two, but three major news releases focused on the fledgling space sandbox, all of which were well-received by most in the community and all of which generated even more buzz and positive word-of-mouth for Chris Roberts' crowdfunded juggernaut.
Most of this week's Star Citizen updates have been well-received, but one has fans of hardcore sci-fi sandbox gameplay a little concerned. In a thank-you message to fans for pushing the game's crowdfunding total over the $9 million US mark, Chris Roberts announced that all current backers will get free lifetime insurance on their ships while future backers will have to pay in-game cash to insure each ship individually.
Some fans expressed concerns that this could remove some of the consequences of ship death, and remove the need to build new ships. Others complained that giving everyone free ship insurance devalued a previously exclusive reward. Chris discussed the thought process behind the change in his latest producer's letter and promised further exclusive rewards for early supporters.
With the number of people throwing money at Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous, it's no surprise that CCP's new virtual reality dogfighter EVR has attracted a lot of attention. The game is set in the EVE universe but isn't actually connected to the wider world of internet spaceships; so far, it's just a tech demo in which two opposing teams of players take on the roles of fighter pilots in a battle between two carriers. A live gameplay demo running on prototypes of the revolutionary new Oculus Rift headset was shown off last week at the EVE Online Fanfest, and it absolutely blew attendees away.
The most interesting thing about EVR is that it wasn't an official CCP project and didn't use up any development time scheduled for other titles. The entire game was produced in just seven weeks by a handful of CCP developers working in their spare time. It's all thanks to a recent initiative in which developers who are meeting their deadlines at CCP are allowed to spend 20% of their work time on anything they want. This is the same strategy that led Google to produce Gmail, so we may yet see EVR built into a commercial game and pushed to market. The developers working on it are also gaining valuable experience with Oculus Rift that may eventually lead to support for the device in EVE Online itself.
Following the recent revamp of ice-borne junglers Sejuani and Trundle, League of Legends completed the trio with all-new champion Lissandra, the Ice Witch. Lissandra is a crowd-controlling mage with abilities that damage and slow enemy champions, but her extremely low defensive stats make her best when played at a safe distance. Hitting enemies with slows and freezing them in place at just the right time will help Lissandra stay safe in a teamfight and contribute significant damage.
Lissandra's passive is a unique ability that lets her occasionally cast a spell without paying its mana cost. This makes her deadly in a solo lane as she can repeatedly poke at enemies with the Ice Shard and Glacial Path skillshot spells without running low on mana. To help escape tricky situations or chase down fleeing champions, Lissandra can instantly cast Ring of Frost while moving to freeze nearvy enemies on the spot for several seconds. This may seem overpowered, but enemies trapped by Ring of Frost can still attack and use abilities. Lissandra can also use her ultimate ability to freeze a key enemy in place during a teamfight and deal massive damage around him or to make herself invulnerable for several seconds.
With just a few months to go until the Dota 2 world championship tournament gets underway, Valve will likely soon shift gears from releasing new heroes to just fixing bugs and balance issues. Before that happens, however, developers took the opportunity to release their new tanky melee initiator Elder Titan. Classic DotA players will recognise this hero as Tauren Chieftain, and most of the hero's abilities remain largely unchanged from its original incarnation.
Heroes of Newerth hasn't had a major balance patch in quite some time as developers didn't want to interfere with the HoN Tour league. All of the balance changes and gameplay tweaks the team wanted to make during the league were compiled into one mega-update, which was released this week as the HoN 3.1 Runic Shift patch. A staggering number of hero and item changes were brought in by the patch, which S2 Games hopes will re-invigorate the game and lead to more fast-paced action. Part of the update includes a change in the hero release schedule; the team will no longer force a new hero out every four weeks, and new heroes will now be available to all players for free on release.
As Diablo III approaches its one-year anniversary on May 15th, patch 1.0.8 is still being held up on the public test realm. This week's patch contained only a fix for the exploit that recently allowed a Witch Doctor's summoned pets to grant XP and loot in the Scorched Chapel. Developers also revealed that the console version of Diablo IIIwill not have mouse and keyboard support, nor are there plans to bring analog controller support to the PC. Separate teams will be responsible for the PC and console versions of the game when it comes to PS4 later this year, with separate content development cycles planned for both platforms.
If you've been itching for an excuse to play some old-school Diablo II, you may just have your wish. To celebrate the anniversary of Diablo III's release, its predecessor will be getting a ladder reset on May 14th. All ladder characters will be moved to non-ladder servers and players can start from scratch with a fresh loot economy. The ladder is usually reset only once every roughly six months, so if you miss this chance to start fresh, the next one won't be until around October.
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