Twitch, the Amazon-owned streaming service that hoists the careers of many a streamer, has launched what it is calling “the best way to experience the 2019 Overwatch League season.” The Overwatch League All-Access Pass is a single purchase Twitch members can make, that will remove ads, provide a “command center” of unique features, and provide several other bonuses for Overwatch League fans.
You can pick up an Overwatch League All-Access Pass for $14.99 right now, and Twitch Prime members who are active will also receive a 500 Bit bonus with their purchase. The marquee feature here is the command center, which gives viewers control over their Overwatch League viewing experience. Viewers will be able to choose between player POV on demand, able to swap at will. An “overhead map” is also available.
Pass-owners will get a few bonuses, such as a discount on Overwatch League merchandise, and 200 Overwatch League tokens they can use in-game towards League-themed Hero skins. They will also be able to choose a set of three team emotes for Twitch chat. The Pass also includes two exclusive chat badges, for further flexing opportunities.
Additional features include ad-free viewing when watching official Overwatch League channels, a Passholder-only chat channel, and Q & A sessions with professional players.
This year’s season of the Overwatch League is right around the corner. Things get started on February 14, 2019. While everything will be streamed, some matches will also be broadcast via ESPN/Disney XD/ABC including opening week matchups Hangzhou Spark vs Shanghai Dragons, Houston Outlaws vs Boston Uprising, and Philadelphia Fusion vs Atlanta Reign.
The Year of the Pig is upon us, and so is the Overwatch Lunar New Year event. Technically starting on February 5th, 2019, the Year of the Pig features an earth element this year, and the lucky colors yellow, gray, brown, and gold. You can see these colors highlighted in many of the event skins Blizzard designed for the Year of the Pig event.
In this Play of the Fortnight, we’re giving an Overwatch Lunar New Year Event guide, letting you know all the skins and achievement unlocks you need to get before the event ends.
When is the Lunar New Year event?
The Overwatch Lunar New Year event already began on Thursday, January 24th. As usual, the event lasts three weeks (just over that, in fact) and will end on Monday, February 18th. This means the event will run throughout the real life Lunar New Year celebrations, which are on Tuesday, February 5th, and give players some additional time to get their unlocks.
Festive Capture the Flag
First appearing in the Year of the Rooster event, Capture the Flag has been a relatively popular Arcade game mode. This year, Blizzard has added a festive twist with the Capture the Flag: Busan map. Players can access this by simply queuing up from the Arcade menu for the duration of the event.
On top of that, Season 2 of Competitive Capture the Flag has started. Players can earn an icon, spray, and competitive points. They can also climb the ranks as in regular competitive.
Lunar New Year Achievements
Players can unlock two exclusive sprays through achievements in the Lunar New Year event. The first of these achievements, “Delivery Interruption”, is unlocked when players kill an enemy flag carrier. Unsurprisingly, it awards a spray called “Interrupted Delivery.” Capturing a flag earns the next achievement, “Captured”, and awards a flag spray.
Unfortunately, there is a bug with these achievements. Blizzard accidentally added the achievements before the event began, and players who unlocked them in regular Capture the Flag weren’t given any rewards. Now that the rewards have been added to the game, those players weren’t given them retroactively. Blizzard will likely fix this soon, but there’s been no update so far.
Exclusive Overwatch Lunar New Year event skins
This year, Blizzard added six Legendary event skins. Five of these skins are named after famous Chinese generals: Huang Zhong (Hanzo), Lu Bu (Reaper), Guan Yu (Reinhardt), Zhang Fei (Torbjorn), and Zhuge Liang (Zenyatta). The sixth legendary skin is Hong Gildong (Tracer), named after a hero from a Korean novel, who has often been compared to Robin Hood for his exploits of stealing from the rich and corrupt.
Blizzard also added two new Epic skins: General Brigitte, and Sanye Orisa. Both of these are a lot more detailed than previous Epic skins have been, and it’s lovely seeing Orisa getting some attention.
Of course, the skins aren’t the only unlocks players can earn. We have two new emotes: one for Ana, and another for Soldier-76, the latter of which features a Rattle Drum. Players can also pick up six new victory poses, mostly featuring fireworks, but also Lucio’s excellent Drumming pose, which pairs nicely with his Drumming highlight intro, also added in this event.
Blizzard also added ten new voicelines, for Ashe, Brigitte, Hanzo, Junkrat, McCree, Winston, and Wrecking Ball. And finally, there’s six new non-achievement sprays to unlock. There’s plenty to pick up in the Lunar New Year loot boxes over the next three weeks, so make sure not to miss out.
What’s Up Next?
Blizzard doesn’t host an Easter event for Overwatch, but we do have an event around the same time. Originally called Uprising, the Archives event is due to run around April. Archives, assuming it keeps its name, brings with it a PvE brawl that so far has changed slightly each year, and always highlights an event in the Overwatch roster’s past.
There’s a lot of heroes who haven’t received any skins in a long time. D.Va is a great example: she’s only had four event skins in total, spanning three events. Redditor Foxy_Jr posted a detailed recap of the event skins, which gives us a bit of an idea of which heroes may be selected for the upcoming events.
The Overwatch Lunar New Year event is a beautiful nod to a real life seasonal celebration. The skins have been tied to historical or legendary figures. As has become tradition from Blizzard, a lot of care has been put into their designs.
The Tides of Vengeance have risen again for Azeroth, and the Alliance has begun its movements upon Dazar’alor, capitol of the Zandalari Empire. The arenas have been emptied and its champions awarded with the spoils of war. Season 2 for Battle for Azeroth has officially begun! This week we’ll be diving into everything that’s new with the release of Season 2.
The Battle for Dazar’alor
“Talanji… Forgive me…”
First and foremost is the release of Battle for Azeroth’s second major raid tier, The Battle for Dazar’alor. Drawing the Horde forces away from the seat of the Zandalari Empire, the Alliance mounts a daring offensive to assassinate King Rastakhan and sever any potential political hopes the Horde might have. The Battle for Dazar’alor will feature nine separate bosses in a linear fashion, with each faction assuming the other’s role in the story as things progress. When the Alliance moves to besiege the temple proper, Horde players will temporarily become Alliance races and vice-versa for later segments. The boss breakdown will look something like this:
1st – 3rd Bosses will be flavored over the enemy faction, but each version will have identical abilities.
Besieging the Temple; The Alliance moves to attack King Rastakhan’s seat of power. Horde players will temporarily become Alliance races for three bosses culminating in a fight with King Rastakhan.
Pursuing the Alliance; The Horde returns to Dazar’alor with a vengeance and seeks to kill the Alliance invaders. Alliance players will temporarily become Horde races for three bosses, culminating in a fight with Lady Jaina Proudmoore, who is the last boss of the raid.
During the ‘Neutral Wing’ players will play as their own characters but the second and third wings are story-type encounters written for one faction. Both factions will have nine bosses to defeat in a linear order, just with the added bonus of you get to see what you’d look like with that faction change…
Looking for Raid Wing 1 and Mythic Difficulty will open the week after your region’s particular launch of Season 2.
Step Into The Arena!
“More bones for the arena!”
Battle for Azeroth Season 2 brings a new and darker title to the mix, “Sinister Gladiator.” With the rollover into the next season of Rated PvP both personal and matchmaking ratings will normalize and return to zero. This means a fresh-start for all players seeking to carve their name in the halls of conquerors. Returning to Season 2 is the graduated Elite Gladiator system, rewarding players who advance their rating with progressive unlockables for your Elite Sinister Gladiator set and the seasonal Tabard and Cloak. Those looking to claim the Gladiator Title and the Sinister Gladiator’s Proto-Drake must also win an additional 50 games in the Elite bracket (2400+). Those looking to claim the “Sinister Gladiator” title must place in the top 0.1% of rankings, as well as claim 150 victories in Season 2. The Gladiator’s Dreadflame enchantment appearance will still be attainable for those who hit 2100 rating in Season 2.
New to Season 2 are temporary “Elite Class” titles. These seasonal titles will be awarded to players who reach the Elite bracket. Players who earn a Conquest Chest each week will now also find a Quartermaster’s Coin among their winnings, ten of which can be turned in for a piece of Gladiator level equipment.
Returning to the Rated PvP circuit are Vicious Saddles. Used as a currency for those wishing to purchase one of the Vicious Racial Mounts, the saddles were mysteriously absent in Season 1. For Season 2 players can obtain their Saddles after claiming their first mount, the Vicious Black Warsaber and Vicious Black Bonesteed for the Alliance and Horde respectively. Players will earn an additional saddle each time their bar caps out for wins over 1400 rating.
At this time Gladiator PvP sets from Season 1 will be unavailable to purchase until a later date.
Seasons don’t fear the reaper.
With the start of the new season comes a new host of adjustments for Dungeon Delvers in Azeroth. To follow the curve of player gearing, Heroic and Mythic dungeon difficulty has increased by 30% across the board, with Mythic+ Keystone levels decreasing by three (Mythic 5 Keystones in Season One are now Mythic 2).
With the defeat of G’huun, and the rise of Bwonsamdi, a new Mythic affix has been introduced as the Seasonal Affix: Reaping. Added to every Keystone that is level 10 or higher, Reaping affects non-boss enemies throughout your Mythic+ Dungeon. Whenever the group completes 20% of the Enemy Forces Bar (20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100%), Bwonsamdi will ressurect every enemy defeated in that 20% span. They will then traverse the dungeon to assault your party. While they do not possess True Sight or stealth detection, they have a gigantic player aggro radius. These enemies have set abilities between dungeons (depending on what type of mob they were in life), posses 50% of their original health, do not aggro other monsters in your dungeon, and are not affected by other Mythic+ affixes (like Bursting). If players run out the timer on their Mythic+ dungeon they may barter with Bwonsamdi to, “Serve him in life and in death,” and receive a 20% buff to health and damage until the completion of the dungeon.
Players banking up their Titan Residuum for the Ethereal Traders will be pleased to note that Titan Residuum does not reset between seasons, meaning you can continue to save it for upcoming gear in Season 2. The amount players gain through looting their weekly chest and scrapping higher levels of Azerite Gear has also increased.
Upgrading Gear Tables!
“Show her no mercy. She will show you none.”
Along with the the Battle for Dazar’alor, players will find new loot with increased item levels in their weekly activities. Baseline rewards in Normal, Heroic,Mythic and Mythic+ dungeons have been increased by 30 item levels, bringing them on par with Uldir raid rewards.
Gladiator PvP gear will now begin at item level 375 in both the Conquest Chest and regular rewards from Rated Player vs. Player activities. When the Chest rewards fall under Azerite Gear pieces, players will now have 4 pieces of gear to choose from. On weeks when the gear rewarded is neither a piece of Azerite gear, trinket or weapon players will be able to choose between two different item slots of gear (e.g. Legs and Wrists week 1, hands and rings week 2, etc.).
Item rewards in the Battle for Darkshore Warfront have been increased by 15 item levels. Consequently the new requirement to enter the Battle for Darkshore is iLvl 335, and enemy difficulty has been increased by 15%. Emissary rewards for World Quests have likewise been increased and items may reroll their stats or update with the start of the Season.
Starting January 22nd for the US and January 23rd for EU servers, Azerite Knowledge will begin scaling once again for your Heart of Azeroth. This means levels for your necklace will get easier to obtain each week.
Some of the biggest draws for any Overwatch seasonal event are the exclusive skins you can get. These skins are only available during the duration of the event and tend to be some of the most elaborate looks in the game. The Lunar New Year event, which celebrates the Chinese holiday of the same name, is no different. We had already gotten a glimpse at how some of the heroes are celebrating this year, but now, on the eve of the event’s kickoff, more looks were revealed.
While the Overwatch Twitter account has generally been the home to skin reveals, a couple of new outfits were revealed, of all places, on the Korean YouTube channel.
To start, the Overwatch Twitter account revealed Zenyatta is getting a new skin, known as “Zhuge Liang.” See it in action here:
Embrace the Year of the Pig as ZHUGE LIANG ZENYATTA!
However, the reveals don’t end there. A video posted on the Korean Overwatch YouTube channel also reveals three previously-unseen skins. The video is exclusive to the Korean channel and, as of right now, none of the skins have appeared on the Twitter page. But fans should be excited to see the new looks Tracer, Orisa, and Brigitte are getting for the 2019 event.
Tracer got plenty of skins during Overwatch’s infancy, but Blizzard recently cooled off on giving her new looks as of late. Orisa, on the other hand, hasn’t gotten very many new skins, so fans should be pleased that she’s getting one that’s pretty fearsome-looking. This is also only Brigitte’s third skin, after previously getting new looks for the 2018 Summer games and Overwatch’s 2nd anniversary.
The 2019 Overwatch Lunar New Year event will kick off on January 24, 2019 and last until February 18th.
With Battle for Azeroth’s first season of content drawing to a close, now is no better time to take a moment and reflect on the story of this expansion so far. For those that have played through each of the major War Campaigns, things are certainly getting interesting in the war between the Horde and the Alliance. This week I wanted to take a look at an incredibly muddy conflict and ask one question: Who are the bad guys in World of Warcraft Tides of Vengeance?
Most players would immediately point their fingers at the Horde and their current Warchief, Sylvanas Windrunner. She is more colloquially known as the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken, a nation of Undead who have been rejected by their nations and found solace in each other. Whether through means of vengeance or simply finding companionship in those that share their struggle, the Forsaken endure simply because there is no where else for them to go. With their population dwindling, the Warchief has seen fit to create new Forsaken by the means of the Val’kyr, raising the dead into life. Some choose to join willingly, others are told that if they are not Forsaken then they can deal with those who seek to destroy the Undead.
On the other side of the equation sits the main race of the Alliance: the Humans. These are a hardy, adaptive people who in just two generations have been reduced from Seven Kingdoms and a population in the potential tens of thousands to just two nations and a few hundred between them. Humanity is quite literally backed into a corner and is strung together in an alliance of necessity for their survival at the core. Headed by High King Anduin Wrynn the Alliance hopes to take a virtuous path towards the future with the Light in hand.
Separately these two nations are the current driving force of both the Alliance and the Horde. Both of their leaders want the best for their people and both have incredibly big shoes to fill now that the Burning Legion has been routed. How did two factions that, at one point, had a serious ceasefire, come to full-out war?
The answer is simple: Azerite. When the Burning Legion was defeated its master, Sargeras, plunged his weapon into the world of Azeroth, wounding it greatly. Azerite rose to the surface in response, a literal scab over the blood of the world. A new mineral rising from the surface of the world is something that is hard to miss, and both factions readily jumped on it. Despite Azerite first appearing exclusively on Kalimdor both factions were quick to jump into researching it; so quick that it is incredibly difficult to reliably form a timeline on the situation. While the Alliance was reportedly first to send an expedition to investigate in the novel Heart of the Storm, traces of their presence would not appear until long after the launch of Battle for Azeroth, after Horde forces had already begun mining the rare mineral. Both groups were met with lethal hostility by the opposite faction and few survivors on either side.
The War of Thorns
Saurfang attacks from the North.
In an effort to control the continent of Kalimdor, and fearing an Alliance built on Azerite power, Sylvanas Windrunner laid siege upon the island-nation of Teldrassil in an attempt to slaughter their leadership and hold the Night Elf homeland hostage against the Alliance, effectively breaking the native people and severing their ties with the enemy. In the final aspects of an utterly brutal campaign the Warchief came toe-to-toe with Malfurion Stormrage, Archdruid of the Cenarion Circle and defender of the Night Elven people. In their battle High Overlord Saurfang intervened, hurling his axe at the back of Malfurion Stormrage and mortally wounding the druid. Sylvanas departed leaving the Overlord with one command: kill the Archdruid and return to her side to claim their victory. Instead Saurfang made an unprecedented move and defied his Warchief’s orders, believing his coming to his Warchief’s defense in such a manner was an incredible mark of dishonor.
To put this in perspective, High Overlord Varok Saurfang has never outwardly defied an order from his Warchief, even when the threat of death has been involved. Despite friction between past Warchiefs, and even superior commanders in Northrend, he has not once deserted his duty to the Horde, even when his son was slain at Icecrown and the Wrathgate. He could in fact be one of the more moderate voices among the leadership of the Horde. As noted in the novel War Crimes, at the trial of Garrosh Hellscream, who Saurfang defected from to join the Siege on Orgrimmar, the Overlord was one of a handful of people who did not believe that the deposed Warchief deserved a death sentence. Instead he believed that Garrosh should be tried by Orcish Customs and face the Overlord in mak’gora, a duel to the death to determine whether he would live and repent or perish for his crimes against the world.
When held at bowpoint by the High Priestess of the Night Elves, Tyrande Whisperwind, Saurfang gave her an ultimatum to either take her beloved and flee or try to stop the Horde and die. When the Elven commanders fled, Saurfang returned to his Warchief’s side. In response, Sylvanas performed the only thing that could potentially break the Night Elven people and set Teldrassil to the flame, murdering thousands of civilians, priests and Sentinels in the blaze. Despite how it galvanized the rage of several main Night Elven heroes, such as Warden Maiev Shadowsong, its clear this tactic worked on members of the Night Elves both who still live and who have been raised as Forsaken, including Delaryn Summermoon who now believes that Tyrande, Malfurion and even her goddess betrayed the Night Elven people.
“Burn it… BURN IT!”
Despite hoping to end a war long before it began, Sylvanas now found herself embroiled in a savage conflict that brought itself right to her doorstep. Soon after the Burning of Teldrassil, the Alliance besieged the Undercity, burning a swath through the Tirisfal Glades in their assault and rendering the land uninhabitable, even by the Forsaken. Rapidly devastating and routing the Horde forces, the Alliance savaged their way up to the front gates of the Undercity led by High King Wrynn. In an attempt to drive them back, Windrunner unleashed the Blight, a necromantic biological weapon that slaughtered the Alliance wholesale. Sending heroes of the Horde, armed with chemical masks and suits, she saw that her wounded were returned to the Undercity before raising the fallen as Undead, stripping the Alliance of their foothold on the region.
It was only due to the timely arrival of Archmage Jaina Proudmoore that saw a moderate victory for the Alliance and broke the defenses of the Horde. Abandoning the city, Windrunner and her retinue blighted the remains of the Undercity, refusing to let it be used as an Alliance stronghold in the region. With their fleets decimated by the Legion and their forces diminished from two bloody battles, the Horde and Alliance then turned to the Zandalari Empire and the Kingdom of Kul Tiras respectively for aid, both commanding the greatest naval fleets the world has ever known.
The War Campaigns
Both War Campaigns go into detail over what each side is willing to do to win, and who really has the upper hand in this conflict. The Alliance discovers that Sylvanas has recruited more of the Scourge’s top lieutenants into her fold, promising the vampiric San’layn that if they can control their hunger and prove their usefulness, they can have a place in her Horde. The rest of the Horde, ignorant and unknowing of this dark move, instead attempt to work on dismantling the Kul Tiran fleet, the only true force that could potentially rival the Zandalari Empire’s navy and challenge their rule over the seas. In both cases the lines here become incredibly blurred and indistinct when it comes to why each commander in this war truly wishes to be involved. Sticking around after talking to the heroes of both the Horde and the Alliance paints a telling story of the conflict.
In looking at the Horde their commanders are incredibly diverse; Nathanos Blightcaller, Champion of the Banshee Queen leads her expeditionary forces and the war effort in Zandalar. Garona Halforcen, infamous assassin of High King Llane Wrynn has become the Horde’s Mission Specialist because she claims to see the hubris of the Alliance, stating that, “Perhaps it is time to fell another King.”
Nathanos Blightcaller echoes her statements, though with the darker tone Forsaken are known for. Believing humanity has become hypocritical in their quest of following the Light and their abandonment of the Forsaken, an entire nation of people, Nathanos (and Horde Champion Lillian Voss) believe that the only method to prove them otherwise will be the killing and raising of the Alliance to force their perspectives to change. While fatalistic to the extreme, he certainly isn’t wrong. During the Horde’s War Campaign players will come across a tidesage by the name of Thomas Zelling; he is a native of Kul Tiras, who has become deathly ill and will soon die. After proving his power to the Horde he begs Lillian Voss to see he is raised as a Forsaken, so that he can protect his family even after his death. Raising him from the grave with one of the Val’kyr, Zelling returns to life as a Forsaken and rushes off to meet his family who immediately reject him as a monster. Left alone with no one else to turn to, Zelling resigns himself to his life as a Forsaken with a promise from Nathanos Blightcaller; as long as he serves the means of the Horde his family will remain unharmed.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Alliance, with High Commander Halford Wyrmbane leading the 7th Legion forces in Kul Tiras. Aided by Spymaster Mathias Shaw, both share stories about their career in the Alliance if the hero wishes to stand around and listen. Wyrmbane, a career soldier, has fought the Horde all of his life. Mathias Shaw sees himself more as a tool of the king, stating, “… If I had to choose between satisfying honor and getting the job done, I’ll pick the latter every time. For the Alliance, of course.” This results in them using tactics time and time again that others would see as utterly dishonorable: from the trapping of the San’layn to kill them to the hit-and-run bombing of Horde forces at sea, much to Falstad Wildhammer’s delight.
This paints the conflict in two vastly conflicting ideals. For the Horde this is a war that has long since bubbled beneath the surface of the world; in fighting through the Darkshore Warfront introductions members of the Horde’s races fight side-by-side against raised skeletons. Even Orcs, who wholeheartedly revile unnatural magics like fel and necromancy, fight against the mutual threat of Tyrande Whisperwind. Much like Sylvanas’ original promise with the War of Thorns, this is a fight not just for their security but for their vengeance. The Horde is tired of feeling as, ‘the Other,’ in Azeroth and will now take any efforts to protect their home, perfectly illustrated by King Rastakahn’s bargain in the Zandalar Forever questline.
For the Alliance this war is less a war of ideology and the continuation of a long, tired crusade. While willing to fight tooth and nail to the end, this is a war the Alliance feels they’ve fought before and are still in the right on. To Wyrmbane and Shaw this is just another day in the life in pushing back their life-long enemy. In planning movements against the Horde Shandris Feathermoon, the General of the Sentinel Army, talks more about purging the Horde and the Forsaken in your quests together than simply seeking vengeance. The Dark Irons brought on board to strike a foothold in Zandalar unleash horrific elementals and fire magic to burn the Bilgewater Cartel’s forces alive, effectively glassing the beach.
The Tides of Vengeance
“I have a plan to ensure that the Proudmoore family pays dearly for Rastakhan’s death…”
This isn’t to say that neither Faction acts what most players would ascribe to them as, “typical.” The Forsaken still use and raise the dead of the Alliance as tools in their war for the psychological value. Nathanos even tells his forces to, “Blight it from shore to shoreline,” in the Battle for Darkshore, though the Forsaken do not use this recklessly. Even in their War Campaign after finding the body of Derek Proudmoore, the Crown Prince of Kul Tiras, they use his corpse to draw out the elite forces of Boralus so that a small group can infiltrate the heart of the capitol.
The Alliance follow much in suit, from Humans to Night Elves. High Commander Wyrmbane is often the voice of reason throughout the War Campaign, bringing his experience and knowledge of the Alliance to temper the attitudes and plans of his peers. His long-term plan in besieging Dazar’alor works to minimize casualties across the board, instead looking to shatter the Zandalari fleet and draw out the Horde forces from the civilian Zandalari Empire. Even Tyrande Whisperwind, Avatar of Elune, stays her bloodthirsty blade when faced with the gibing of Deathstalker Commander Belmont (though this is more of her opinion that he isn’t worth the effort).
The entire war, in my opinion, can be summed up in one daily quest. During an assault on Vol’dun there is a quest, Vulpera for a Day, where the Alliance seems to have assaulted a roving caravan of the native Vulpera. However, upon attacking the interlopers, several members of the 7th Legion will instead say that the Horde is responsible and they will slay them for their attack on the defenseless creatures. Despite two warring factions attacking each other for incredibly justified reasons, there are other forces at work driving them together like rabid dogs in the same kennel. This is a conflict that has been brewing for both the Horde and the Alliance for some time but undoubtedly there are whispers at the edge of the world, hoping to capitalize on the burning of empires.
So here’s the question, Who is the villain in this war? And who, or rather what, wants to see the world aflame?
It’s time to finally start getting back into our normal routines for the new year. That means it’s time for another look at the business side of the MMO industry. This week we’ve got lawsuit news, acquisition news, and a $7,000 bundle for Shroud of the Avatar.
Funcom Acquires Zona Paradoxal (ZPX)
Funcom announced that it had acquired a 50.1% majority stake in Zona Paradoxal, a work-for-hire studio based in Lisbon. They have previously worked with the company on Conan Exiles, Mutant Year Zero, and other games.
ZPX will remain independent from Funcom and continue to work with other clients. However, Funcom is set to be their primary client going forward. Thanks to the acquisition the studio is also planning to double in size from where they are currently with 15 employees.
For Funcom, this means having more developers on hand to help them with their upcoming titles, of which they have 5 in the works. Conan Unconquered, a top secret game being released Halloween 2019 being made with RockPocket, a Heroic Signatures game, a Conan single player game, and an open world multiplayer game.
Do you remember 38 Studios? They were the studio that made Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and were working on Project Copernicus that shut down in 2012 after running out of money and has since been the subject of a long legal battle. The studio was moved to Rhode Island after being promised a $75 million loan then failed. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) argued that the studio was destined to fail after it wasn’t disclosed that they would receive only $50 million of the promised $75 million. This resulted in a lawsuit between the SEC and Wells Fargo and the Commerce Corp. That lawsuit has now been settled, however, the details have not been revealed and it seems pretty unlikely that they ever will be. We may not know how it ended, but it is nice to finally see the final chapter of 38 Studio’s story come to an end.
Though it is the end for the studio it may not be the end for the Amalur IP. In September 2018 it was bought by THQ Nordic. This means that yes, there is the possibility for Project Copernicus to be brought back to life. However, with the state of the MMORPG genre, it is far more likely that they will use the IP to create other games. Still, we have our fingers crossed for Copernicus.
While the Blizzard/Netease partnership has been received somewhat poorly in the West it is doing fantastically in the East, specifically in China. So much so in fact that they are extending their partnership until 2023. The partnership began in 2008 with Starcraft II and the Battle.net platform. Now they’ll be working together to bring World of Warcraft, the Starcraft series, the Diablo series, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch to Chinese audiences for 4 more years. This seems to be leaving room for new games in the Starcraft and Diablo series. Does that mean we can expect more in the future? That does seem somewhat likely, or maybe they’re just leaving themselves open to possibilities. We will have to wait and see.
Source: Press Release
Tencent Gets Minority Stake in Vermintide Developer Fatshark
Vermintide and Vermintide 2 are quite easily the most popular multiplayer Warhammer games to have been made in a long time and that is paying off for their developer Fatshark. Tencent has now acquired a 36% share of the company worth 500 million kronor, approximately $56 million.
Fatshark has said that the investment will strengthen its position as an indie developer and help facilitate future growth. CEO Martin Wahlund spoke to Games Industry saying, “We are excited to announce that Tencent has chosen to invest in Fatshark. Tencent is known for investing in market leading top rated companies. With the investment, Fatshark is in a strong position to continue to grow while staying independent. Our unaltered mission will be to bring high-quality games to our fans around the globe.”
We can’t wait to see what this means for Fatshark and Vermintide 2 in the future.
A law firm is currently investigating claims that Activision-Blizzard committed securities fraud or other unlawful business offenses following the news that Bungie would be parting ways with Activision. In its press release, the law firm offered very few details but did specifically mention Bungie and the sharp decline in Activision’s stock price following the announcement. They also offered a link to join a possible class action lawsuit.
This is clearly only the beginning of this story. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the story and Activision’s share price, which has been slowly recovering since all of this took place on January 11th.
Source: Press Release
Shroud of the Avatar Offering $7000 Bundle to Fund Episode 2
Shroud of the Avatar is getting a bit of a change in its business model, moving to what is now considered a more traditional one. However, they’re also offering 8 people who happen to have $7000 laying around the opportunity of a lifetime. The Lord of the Island: Episode 2 Bundle costs $6,999 and includes a ton of amazing in-game and real-life perks. What do those perks include? A silver ring crafted personally by Lord British himself and an in-game version of it. A tour of the Portalarium offices. Finally, dinner with Lord British, Darkstarr, and Atos either in Austin or New York City. This offer is only available to 8 people total and one of them has already been sold.
Of course, the majority of us don’t have $7,000 that they can spare but that’s okay! We can still buy items in the cash shop which is about to change. The cash shop will be available in game, while the website will only have currency and maybe one or two things available in it. This is coming after the company has had a lot of feedback about the cash shop. This will also mean that the cash shop can be localized, something that hasn’t currently been possible.
Players have been able to backfill in non-competitive Overwatch matches since the Dawn of Time. Or, you know, at least since the game launched or thereabouts. There’s been a lot of back and forth on why backfilling is not possible in competitive, and whether or not it should exist at all. Either way, we need to talk about the issue of Overwatch backfill.
In this Play of the Fortnight, we’ll discuss how Overwatch backfill affects players, why it’s important, how it could be improved and more.
Backfill might help hold a match together
The primary reason for backfill in a non-competitive match is to stop the match completely falling apart as soon as one person leaves. If one person left and was never replaced, their team would likely follow suit, and eventually the winning team would either finish out the (very dissatisfying) match, or they’d leave as well. Unsurprisingly, most players don’t enjoy completely stomping an empty team. It’s not fun.
Player A gets mad and leaves. Player B joins, and if it’s early enough in the match, maybe they can help turn things around for their new teammates. Then again, perhaps not, but at least it’s better and less demoralizing than being down a player and knowing you’re more than likely going to lose.
However, backfill feels really bad for the backfiller
The player filling in for the leaver generally has a pretty awful experience, though. You’re more often than not joining a losing game. Sometimes, you’re joining it with only 30 seconds to go before the match ends. Regardless of whether you’re rewarded for very little effort, it doesn’t feel good to join a match and barely get to leave spawn before it’s over. Even a free victory after a backfill feels hollow.
The rewards are also pretty lackluster considering you’re effectively bailing a team out of almost certain doom. Or at least, almost certain loss, which is practically the same thing to most players.
Even so, backfilling is a necessary evil
It may feel like a bad experience, but backfilling serves a really important purpose. It’s not just about saving the one match that had rage quitters and disconnects in it. In fact, more important than that is what comes after that terrible, good-for-nothing, no good game. With rage quitters and leavers, players who do remain in the match have to wait for people to rejoin, or simply get dumped back out to requeue themselves.
With backfill, you get one awful match that has a bunch of people join halfway through or later. But, assuming they stick around, everybody gets to go into a fresh match next time. The games get to continue seamlessly as if nothing went wrong. In theory, this is the ideal scenario for players. Blizzard wants to keep the downtime between matches low so players don’t get bored waiting around.
The rewards for backfill should be increased
Since backfilling is necessary for a healthy game, and is also a horrible experience at least initially for the filler, the rewards are poor at the moment. We’d love to see Blizzard adding additional rewards for backfilling to prevent the fillers from having a bad experience and also to stop them from immediately leaving when they join a losing game.
Players have suggested a few different things: increased XP rewards to allow faster unlocking of loot boxes, achievements or endorsements, or even separate reward tracks that again allow speedier loot box unlocks. While it’s unlikely Blizzard will go too far down the route of providing loot box rewards, we’d like to see a better nod to the people actively saving matches, not to mention other players’ time.
Allowing players to opt-out of backfill wouldn’t work
Some members of the community have suggested allowing an opt-out of backfill. While this idea sounds nice in theory, even with increased rewards as mentioned above, most players would opt-out. This would mean a few things: backfillers would be fewer and farther between, and worse still the players who didn’t opt out would only ever get put into a backfill.
While it’s nice to think that players would do the right thing and stay opted in, it’s unlikely. Give players a choice, and they’ll choose the easier, less frustrating route. An almost guaranteed loss and an annoying experience for a few measly XP? No thanks, I’ll take a brand new game with an undetermined outcome.
Ultimately, we’d see increases in queue times across the board, and backfillers would be even more upset than before.
Why it wouldn’t be good for comp
We’ve established why backfilling is important, but what about competitive? Surely it’s necessary there, too? Again, this would be great for teams already playing, but incredibly frustrating for the person having to backfill. If this were ever an option, the backfiller would need to lose no SR for a loss, which would make this a somewhat abusable situation. If the backfiller would join a game that was already being lost, without having contributed to the beginning of the match, losing SR would feel like a massive punishment. However, the alternative just doesn’t work.
Also, if backfilling competitive was optional, no one would want to do it. Some players have suggested that if they neither won nor lost SR but got the same XP bonus or better from quickplay, they’d backfill competitive matches for warm-ups, but that’s very easy to say. In reality, most players wouldn’t choose to backfill.
It’s also worth mentioning that competitive matches don’t roll into one another like quickplay. Players have to queue up manually each time. This would mean the backfill isn’t saving the following game, and is potentially just joining for a 30 second stomp. On top of that, it leaves players open to getting stuck in a backfill chain where they don’t get to start a brand new match.
There are other ways backfilling could be improved
Apart from rewards, there are a few different ways backfilling could be improved. At the moment, a backfilling player has no idea what the enemy team comp is, so their first pick is blind. It’s feasible that everyone on the team (including the leaver) knew at that point what the enemy comp is, so it’d be great if a backfiller could see the comp and pick accordingly.
Another change could be giving some amount of ultimate charge to the filler. As ultimate charge is based on a points system and then represented as a percentage, the filler could be given the same number of ultimate charge points that the leaver before them had. This would then translate into a variable percentage based on which hero they choose. This way, the team with the backfill doesn’t necessarily get an instant-ult on their new player, but they also don’t lose the ultimate charge that was being built before the leaver left.
Backfilling is an important service every player provides when they play quickplay or arcade matches. It’s not always pretty, but it helps keep the game ticking along and gives players overall less downtime between matches by preventing them from having to requeue. However, it’s certainly not perfect, and we’d love to see some changes to make backfilling more rewarding.
What kind of changes would you like to see for backfilling? Are you a believer in competitive backfilling?
With the Holidays behind us there’s only one big thing on the minds of adventurers in the World of Warcraft. Looming on the horizon comes the big additions for Patch 8.1 Tides of Vengeance; The Battle of Dazar’alor raid and the change-over to Battle for Azeroth Season 2. A whole host of changes have already made landfall with the releases of Tides back in December but end-game content will drastically change with the opening of Dazar’alor. This week we’ll be giving you the checklist to make sure you’re ready for January 22nd, when Season 2 of Battle for Azeroth begins.
Time Is Running Out!
Rated PvP Players will see their ratings returned to zero on the launch of Season 2.
With the change over to Season 2 a ton of content will become unavailable to players who haven’t participated in Season 1. While most Hall of Fames have closed worldwide, there is still plenty of time to claim your hard-earned Feats of Strength in Uldir! Both Ahead of the Curve and Cutting Edge for G’huun, the Raid’s final boss and the Old God of Undeath will become unavailable with the start of Season 2. Keystone Conqueror and Keystone Master for Season 1 will also become unavailable with the rollover, awarded for completing every Mythic +10 and +15 within the time limit respectively.
As always, a change of Seasons means that rewards for Player vs. Player gameplay will also be retired. Both the Seasonal Ranking Feats of Strength such as Challenger: Battle for Azeroth and onward will no longer be available, including various seasonal rewards. Players will no longer be able to grind for their faction’s Vicious War Mount, obtain the Dread Gladiator Mount, fight for their Seasonal Titles and the Elite Gladiator set for your armor specialization will no longer be obtainable (however recolors through the Warfront Caches will still be available). Ratings will also be returned to zero on your region’s respective weekly reset, meaning that any further progression for Rated Titles will be unobtainable.
RRRRREADY FOR RAIDING?!
Right now is the best time to get your character ready for the release of Dazar’alor! While Looking For Raid difficulty will launch one week later, it’s believed that the item-level requirement to enter will be approximately 350, making that the low-bar goal to prepare your character for its launch. Normal and Heroic raiders will be looking to score at least 15 item levels higher due to increased difficulty scaling.
While many players are already far ahead, it’s also recommended your Heart of Azeroth should be around level 35, making most pieces of Uldir gear unlockable.
If you find your main or alts are a little lacking on the gearfront, consider jumping into the Warfronts! Winning in the fields of battle will guarantee a piece of item level 340 gear. Two additional pieces of 370 gear will also be available throughout your warfront cycle, one from the quest to win the particular warfront and the second from quests available once the warfront has closed. Mythic+ dungeons can also be a quick way of obtaining item level 350 gear and can serve to supplement your gains.
The Horde War Table, planning for the Assault on Stromgarde.
For those looking to power-level your Heart of Azeroth start by hitting all of your daily Warfront contributions. These daily quests not only offer a substantial amount of reputation but 500 Azerite as well, meaning you can easily cross one full level PER DAY of turn ins. The weekly Island Expedition and daily World Quest faction rewards can result in 1000 Azerite, a titanic amount for anyone, even in the late level twenty range of their Hearts.
For anyone leaping right into Dazar’alor on launch day, make sure your guild is well equipped with supplies. As always flasks, war-scrolls, runes and more can be vital to your raid’s success. Ensure your cooks have their feasts well and ready! For scribes entering Dazar’alor, a new Vantus Rune has the chance to drop from an unknown boss in the raid. Ensure you come equipped with enough parchment and inks in case your recipe drops that week.
If your main characters are already set for Season 2, consider chipping away on some of your more vital grinds. Reputation is a huge one to consider for those looking to fill out their profession recipes, as every new faction on Zuldalar and Kul Tiras has several vital recipes for your professions. The Honourbond, 7th Legion, Proudmoore Admiralty and Zandalari Empire are also reputations you should consider exalting, as they are tied into current or upcoming Allied Races.
Vindicator Jaelaana, the 7th Legion’s representative for Alliance players in Kul Tiras.
If you find that you are twiddling your thumbs waiting for new content, consider changing up your gameplay until Season 2’s release. For PvE players consider taking up some battlegrounds and work on grinding honor. Rewards for honor levels include unique mounts, toys, titles and more! Likewise PvPers can work on grinding away at several Mythic+ Dungeons for unique mounts and transmog pieces.
If the end-game doesn’t appeal to you, consider taking up a new character to tour throughout Azeroth! While you may not remember it, there’s quite a bit of the world most players don’t get to see due to the curve of leveling. With the new implementations in experience point reductions, leveling is now far more painless than it was at the launch of Battle for Azeroth.
Tour The Old World!
For the Player who only wants to focus on one character, look at exploring the wider world of Azeroth! Every player still has quests left uncompleted, storylines left unfinished, and secrets left undiscovered in the wide world of Azeroth. Consider working on several of the game’s more difficult Feats of Strength, which we’ve covered previously here on MMOGames.
Several players may also not be aware of the Glory of… meta-achievements tied to particular raid tiers. Since Wrath of the Lich King many players can now complete difficult challenges or manipulate boss mechanics to increase the difficulty of the encounter and earn achievements. Most of these are collected under the Glory of… series. All of these meta-achievements reward unique items, which are often mounts and titles.
Are you ready for the Battle of Dazar’alor? What are you doing to prepare for Season 2 of Battle for Azeroth? Let us know!
Amrita Ahuja, former CFO of Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard has been having a rough time lately, with lots of changes happening along with some controversies. Most recently, changes to their staff have taken place, most notably with the termination of Activision Blizzard’s CFO, Spencer Neumann. He was fired due to “violating his legal obligations to the company,” leading many to believe this is in reference to his new position as CFO of Netflix. Former Activision Blizzard CFO Dennis Durkin will be taking the place of Neumann, at least for the time being.
While Activision Blizzard hasn’t commented further on Neumann’s termination, it’s possible that the company found out about his interview with the streaming company and considered that a violation of legal obligation, or failure to provide proper notice. It’s also possible that Neumann violated legal obligations unintentionally due to the complexity of some contracts. Whatever the case, Netflix seems happy to have him, saying, “Spencer is a stellar entertainment executive and we’re thrilled that he will help us provide amazing stories to people all over the world.”
The troubles don’t stop there for Activision Blizzard, though. The CFO of Blizzard Entertainment, Amrita Ahuja, has left the company, too, heading to the merchant and payment company, Square (not to be confused with video game developer and publisher Square Enix). In contrast to Neumann, Ahuja will be seemingly leaving Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard, in an amicable way. Square, too, is happy to have her, with the CEO of the company, Jack Dorsey, stating, “Amrita brings the ability to consider and balance opportunities across our entire business, and she will help strengthen our discipline as we invest, build, and scale.”
It’s unclear if these two departures are related to one another, or just a string of bad luck for the company, but we will be eagerly awaiting any further updates and will let you know if we hear anything.
An idea that has been fired around the Overwatch community for some time is the concept of Blizzard adding an Overwatch role limit. While it would probably only be applied to competitive games, what would a role limit mean for the game and its meta? In this Play of the Fortnight, we discuss potential pros and cons that a role limit could have on the state of Overwatch.
First of all, what’s a role limit?
Proponents of the Overwatch role limit suggest that there’s either a minimum or maximum number of tanks, damage, and healers. Some players want both a minimum and maximum, others want just a limit on a specific role. In an ideal world, a role limit would likely mean there has to be at least one of each role on the team (or at least one tank and one healer). Another suggestion players have proposed is that there’s a minimum of one tank and healer with a maximum of two.
There are various reasons players suggest a role limit. The biggest one for there being a minimum of each role is that frequently tanks and healers are seen as key to the game but also undesirable for many players to actually play. Having a minimum of one per team would mean, in theory, more viable team comps.
However, the request for a maximum number means preventing team comps that players find tough to go up against. For example, a team comp known as “GOATS” has been lamented by the community lately. This comp involves three tanks and three healers, usually Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Lucio, Brigitte, and Moira. The team will charge down the opponents and single out one enemy at a time. A role limit would most likely prevent this kind of comp from flourishing.
What would be the pros of an Overwatch role limit?
Obviously, having a minimum of one tank and one healer on the team would mean having a balanced comp. Most comps have this as their backbone; it’s very rare to see team comps that don’t have at least one tank and one healer.
Having a maximum of two tanks and two healers would, in theory, prevent arguments between players who try to select roles when they’re already filled. It would also mean no crazy team comps to go up against like GOATS or the former four tank two support meta. There’s still some flexibility in allowing teams to drop one tank or one healer to fill in an extra damage dealer.
However, with all of this said, there seems to be more cons than there are pros to a role limit.
Team comp creativity would disappear
One of the exciting things about Overwatch is being able to come up with weird and wonderful teams. That could be a new way to obliterate the enemy team or just an interesting counter to the meta. It’s fun seeing new comps emerge as patches change the balance between heroes. Dive comp and GOATS are just some examples of the fun combinations players have come up with.
If we have a role limit that effectively strongly encourages a 2-2-2 comp, we would lose out on all of that creativity. There would still be combos between heroes, and a little flexibility with changing out a tank or healer for something with more punch. Ultimately, though, players would be much more restricted.
Would this mean less troll compositions? Probably, but is that worth losing out on all of the interesting ways to build a team? We don’t think so.
Disconnects in hero select would soar
Picture this: a Genji main connects to the game now. Genji is already selected. He considers leaving, but at least he can pick another damage dealer. So he does, and while his team might complain at him, he can ignore them and play what he’s used to.
Now role limits are in place. He joins the game and not only is Genji already selected, but all the damage dealer slots are taken. He now has to tank or heal. What does he do now? It’s not a sure thing that the player would disconnect, but it’s significantly more likely. Players are creatures of habit, and even if they’re not one-trick ponies, they’ll have a role they play almost exclusively. Taking that away from them won’t make them more likely to branch out. It’ll make them disconnect. If they do, we can only hope they do it early enough to cancel the game without wasting anyone’s time.
Couldn’t they make a new queue system to fix this?
Blizzard could certainly add a queuing system similar to the one in League of Legends now. Allowing players to queue up as a specific role means that they know they get what they want. There could always be an additional “flex” role that means players would fill. However, this already somewhat exists in the group finder tool.
Adding another layer seems unnecessary. Queue times would likely go up for damage, while tanks and healers would get queued up right away. Sure, that might encourage more people to play tank and healer in the first place, but it’s still going to make the experience quite unpleasant for at least a large portion of the community.
Our thoughts on a role limit
We don’t think a role limit is the best way to counter issues with team comp in Overwatch. While it’s true that players often don’t pick what’s “needed” and instead lock whoever they want, a role limit would impose too much of a restriction on the creativity most of us have grown to love in Overwatch.
It would, however, be nice to see Blizzard doing more to help prevent the trolling that many players complain about in competitive. Proactively helping the community by providing them with tools that allow them to prevent it in the first place would likely be easier and make more sense than simply banning people for picking the “wrong” hero. Who decides what is a “bad choice”?
We don’t think Blizzard is likely to impose an Overwatch role limit any time soon. Even so, it is certainly something members of the community have requested often. There are a few positives to having a restriction like this in place, but we feel these are significantly outweighed by the negatives. One day we’d like to see more changes to the way queuing works to improve team synergy, but for now there are just some downsides players are always going to be faced with in solo queue.
Do you want to see a role limit in Overwatch? Let us know in the comments below!