Elite: Dangerous released the second phase of its alpha testing this week, giving early adopters the chance to smash each other to bits or play co-operative horde-style missions. Star Citizen hit the $38 million crowdfunding mark to unlock a solar system with an interesting oceanic planet where terraforming is banned, and it showcased the talents of its modders in episode 1.2 of The Next Great Starship.
Turn-based MOBA Arena of Heroes asked for votes on its Greenlight campaign to help the game secure a free-to-play release on Steam. SMITE revealed the deadly and barely-dressed Greek goddess Nemesis in a new god reveal video. League of Legends made a change its ladder system that allows highly skilled players to actually skip the promotion series matches, and week four of the Legends Championship Series ended with further upsets for European team Fnatic.
Blizzard revealed that Diablo III's sales have topped 15 million worldwide on all platforms, putting console sale figures at somewhere below three million units. We also discovered that items dropped before Reaper of Souls will not be enchantable when the expansion hits, and several legendary and set items will be exclusive to Torment mode. And Path of Exile announced that its first mini-expansion will land in March and has promised teasers with more info all this month.
Elite: Dangerous alpha backers got their first taste of multiplayer carnage this week as Alpha Phase 2.0 got underway. This was the first rollout of the game's server technology and was a pretty big success. A few reported faults are being looked into, but on the whole backers seem impressed with the game. The video below shows the various game mechanics in this stage of the test, including the bounty system, targeting a ship's cargo bay to steal its loot, and both competitive and co-operative multiplayer gameplay.
Star Citizen passed the $38 million crowdfunding mark this week, unlocking the new Cano star system. Cano is a type-G star very similar to our own solar system's star and is home to the oceanic planet Cartyna. The lore provided on Carteyna suggests that its atmosphere is thick and unbreathable and that terraforming is now banned on the fledgling world. The next two stretch goals plan to introduce new solar systems, including a lost human system whose main jump point has collapsed.
Episode 1.2 of The Next Great Starship added five more finalists to the competition, bringing the total up to 10. Eight models from individuals and teams were showcased in this week's episode, including a team working with amazing Russian concept artist Alexey "Karanak" Pyatov.
Turn-based MOBA Arena of Heroes has put out a call for votes on Steam Greenlight after being passed over in the latest batch of 50 approved games. Valve has been steadily working its way through a near two-year backlog of titles on its community-driven Greenlight platform, selecting between 50 and 100 games to give the thumbs up to each month. Arena of Heroes launched its Greenlight campaign only three weeks ago just prior to adding Mac and Linux support, and it is already available for the PC. Your votes could help get it released into Steam's Free-To-Play game catalogue.
Hi-Rez Studios announced a new hero coming to third-person MOBA SMITE this week ahead of the game's upcoming official launch. The Greek goddess Nemesis is a physical melee warrior with a questionable dress sense and abilities that help her chase down fleeing heroes. Nemesis' passive ability steals physical damage from those she attacks and applies it to her own stats temporarily. A tricky character to master, Nemesis has an interesting dash ability that can be cast a second time if the first dash strikes an enemy character.
Nemesis can swing two huge swords out on either side with her Slice and Dice ability, dealing damage in a large area and bonus damage to those hit with both swords. If she gets in a tight spot, Nemesis can also create a temporary reactive shield that reflects damage back on attackers and heals her for a percentage of the damage dealt. Her ultimate ability targets a single enemy hero, causing massive health drain and stealing a portion of the target's protections and movement speed. This combines well with her dash ability to ensure that heroes caught on their own will be unable to escape.
After week four of the League of Legends Championship Series, some clear winners are beginning to emerge. Team SoloMid has continued to demolish the competition in the North American stage, taking the number one slot with eight wins and only a single loss. Across the pond, Fnatic has continued to lose ground in the European chapter and now shares the top slot with Gambit Gaming and ROCCAT, each of which has seven wins to three losses.
Riot Games released a hotfix to the competitive league system in LoL this week, a patch designed to help highly skilled players move up the ladder more quickly. Players were previously able to advance from one division to another only through a promotional series, leading many skilled players to get trapped and increasing the difficulty of the promotional matches. The new system will let players automatically skip their promotional series and progress to the next division if they play at a consistently high skill level. This happens only up until the Platinum I division and so shouldn't affect high-end play, but it will make it easier to get promoted up from lower divisions.
Developers have revealed that items dropped before the Reaper of Souls expansion will be considered Legacy items when the expansion goes live. The stats on legacy legendary items will not be updated to reflect changes made in the Loot 2.0 update, and legacy items will not be enchantable. We also learned that several of the best Reaper of Souls legendary and set items will be limited to dropping in the deadly Torment difficulty mode. Special legendary potions with effects like health regeneration and defensive stats will also drop in Torment mode, which is unlocked at level 70.
The past few months have seen a steady flow of content updates for Path of Exile, with new items and skill gems introduced in a point release every few weeks. Players will be extra happy to know that March's patch 1.1.0 will dwarf those updates in scale significantly: Developers are calling this a mini-expansion and state that it's the first major update since launch. The exact details of the update haven't been released yet, but Grinding Gear Games will be releasing teasers all throughout February.
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