World of Warcraft Sets New Concurrent Viewer Record on Twitch

World of Warcraft Classic set a new record on Monday for the biggest ever game launch on Twitch with 1.1 million unique viewers concurrently. It’s not entirely clear who was the previous record-holder since this information has come from Blizzard and not Twitch. But still, it is impressive that a 15-year-old game can set a concurrent viewer record on Twitch.

One, of course, has to wonder if those numbers are so high because the server queues were so massive that first day. Will viewership remain high or is it just novelty and newness that is driving the game’s popularity on Twitch at the moment? Only time will tell.

At the moment World of Warcraft is the number one game on Twitch. As the record was being set an amazing 19,080 channels were streaming the game. Within the first 24 hours of WoW Classic launching, there were 6.1 million unique viewers. Over the last 7 days, WoW has had the highest average viewers with 212k viewers versus the next highest, a tie between CSGO and Dota 2 with 114k. WoW’s global share is 14.789% and is up 514% from last week. There have been 35.9 million hours watched in the last week, the next highest is CSGO with 19.3 million hours.

The most-watched WoW streamer this week has been Asmongold. At one point he got disconnected during a livestream and had 80,000 people watching as he slept, waiting for a queue that took 6 hours to get through.

 

Source: Press Release and Twitch Tracker

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Blizzard Sues Glorious Saga for Being a WoW Ripoff

Blizzard has filed a lawsuit against Chinese game developer Sina Games for their mobile game Glorious Saga which they claim is “almost entirely copied from the Warcraft games and related products.”

“Every monster, creature, animal, and vehicle in the Infringing Game was copied from the Warcraft games,” the suit alleges. “Weapons, amulets, and other objects were taken straight from the Warcraft games, without pretense. Audio cues and sound effects from the Warcraft games were reproduced for the Infringing Game.”

Glorious Saga is available in the Google Play store, though in the USA it’s called Glorious World. In the lawsuit Blizzard alleges that many of Sina Games’ games are based on well-known franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto, and WoW. One of the things that the lawsuit points to is the mobile icon which looks nearly identical to the Battle of Azeroth expansion cover, which was a throwback to the original cover for the first Warcraft game.

This is of course hardly the first time Blizzard has had to defend itself against companies trying to profit off of their games. This is especially common with MMOs released in China. It’s rare to see them get a global release.

We’ll be following news on this lawsuit as it goes forward but it will most likely be done quietly behind the scenes and we won’t know the outcome until it’s over and even then we may never get any details.

Source: Polygon

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World of Warships Submarines Preview: Hardly Sub-Par

Over the past few years, World of Warships has managed to grow into something special all its own. Hardly a World of Tanks on the high seas, the franchise has managed to create something significant with its naval battles and continues to grow each day with its available ships, online capabilities and strategies. Not to mention it’s performance on console, now that World of Warships Legends has a full release on PlayStation 4.

So what’s the next step for the PC release? How about a new layer of strategy, literally? For years, fans have been asking for submarines to be added to the game. We’re not sure if it’s just the idea of being able to attack destroyers from underwater, or just replicating the notion of being like Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October (or, like the game’s director tells us, the captain from the legendary film Das Boot, which is well worth checking out), but the team apparently decided they would make this key addition to the game. Soon players will be able to take them for a test run. Wargaming Austin invited us down to take them for a test run.

Since players have been requesting submarines for some time, and considering Warships’ base has grown to 30 million active accounts over the past four years, Wargaming has been paying very close attention to players aspirations for the game. With 300 warships to choose from above the water, the team decided to sink to the depths to see what else it can offer. This new class does change things up a bit, as players can do quite a bit both on the surface and beneath it.

For this new addition, the developers actually had to do a bit of rebuilding with the maps. That’s because, beforehand, they actually had everything set to go on the surface, but not beneath it. So they had to create the depths below on each individual map to make this happen. It makes sense since there was no reason to go beneath the water beforehand, but it’s necessary with submarines as you’ll want to see the destroyers you’re sneaking up on and prepare your attacks accordingly.

Over the course of the next few weeks, submarines will enter beta-testing within the game, across various classes. It will start in three key countries: the United States, Germany and the USSR. You can see the available classes below, as broken down by the publisher:

  •  The United States: the Cachalot (Tier VI), Salmon (Tier VIII) and Balao (Tier X).
  •  Germany: the U-69 (Tier VI), U-190 (Tier VIII) and U-2501 (Tier X).
  •  USSR: the S-1 (Tier VI), L-20 (Tier VIII) and K1 (Tier X).

Tiers vary depending on skill set, so those that are just getting the hang of them will want to start with something on the lower set, like the Cachalot. As they become more experienced, Warships vets will want to try their luck with the K1 and the U-2501, just to see what they’re capable of. They’re really something, based on our hands-on time with the models in the multiplayer tests.

When it comes to submarines being on the surface, there’s an advantage with conserving oxygen. However, that also makes you visible to not only enemy ships, but also attacking planes from the sky. You’ll want to make sure you’re doing this only when you’ve got minimal enemy presence around you, or you need to regather for a moment while you figure out your next move. Once that’s done, you’ll want to move down to the next level, periscope.

Periscope level does bring your speed down a bit, but that doesn’t sink you too far into the depths where your oxygen depletes too badly. This also gives you the access you need to target enemies and fire torpedoes, using an effective targeting system once you get someone in range. The targeting system does take a little bit of practice, as it’s not as typical as the firing range on a destroyer. However, you’ll see how effective it is once you get used to its range and timing.

Something to keep in mind; the game doesn’t have a mode where you can attack other submarines, at least not yet. For the time being, the beta that will launch over the next few weeks will simply have submarines going up against warships, and vice versa. Wargaming did note that, in the future, there’s the possibility of an update in which it could launch full-blown underwater warfare between ships. For now however, you’ll want to keep warships firmly in your sights. Keep your periscope firmly trained on targets above water, because it won’t do any good trying to fire at anything beneath it.

Now, back to torpedo firing. When you do use a targeting system, you’ll use what’s called an acoustic pulse. This enables you to see what lands within your range, though you’ll set up shots properly so you can hit something. It’ll take time to get this down, so be patient.

One other note about the acoustic pulse is that it makes you very vulnerable. By activating it, some enemy vessels will be able to see you on the map. It’s just for a short while, but it could be just enough time for them to figure out your position, so make sure you’re ready to move.

Speaking of movement, one thing you’ll want to keep in mind with water depth is how it can affect your speed. I talked above about how oxygen can be depleted depending how deep you are underwater and speed is affected as well.

If you’re right above the surface, oxygen doesn’t run out too quickly, and you can move at a pretty moderate speed. However, if you go deeper, the oxygen does start to run out much more quickly, and you’ll be forced to go much slower. If it’s stealth you’re going for this might be a good tactic, but you don’t want to stay underwater for too long, lest you run the risk of damaging your vessel and being forced to surface way too quickly, possibly setting yourself up for a counter-attack from enemies.

Once you get used to a submarine’s movement, it can make quite the team player in World of Warships. Not only are torpedoes effective to destroyers and other ships, but you can use it to “spot” other ships and report to fellow teammates above water. It can be used to “spy” from lower depths, as well as possibly set up damage for someone to come along to finish them off.

Ah, but that does not mean that the other team won’t be ready for you. Remember earlier when I mentioned something about depth charges? The heavier warships in Warships are more than packing for this occasion. If they know that submarines are in the area, they’ll have the option to drop a few of these. If they manage to hit your vessel, they’ll do a significant amount of damage to the hull. By reading “pings” in the water, they can gather a good idea of where to drop, so don’t think it’s going to be peaceful going on the hunt.

Some warships will also have anti-submarine mortars as well. These may not be as damage inducing as depth charges, but they’re highly effective once they have you in their sights. Be prepared to get out of the area quickly if you see one of these set you up.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about lighter ships attacking subs. The destroyers seem to be the ones that can do the larger amount of damage. Do keep a look out though. They can even ram submarines if they surface, and that can leave quite a mark, as we learned from one particular skirmish during a match.

You can go fully underwater if you want to creep along the ocean floor and there’s a positive and a negative to this.

The negative is you won’t be able to see your enemies. However, you will be able to use what’s called a hydrophone. With this, you can see which way the nearest enemy ships are going as well as objects and such. From there, you can determine what their trajectory is, and figure out your next move. That could mean sneaking up to the surface and firing a couple of torpedoes, or alerting your fellow teammates to prepare for an attack.

Again, this will take up a whole bunch of oxygen, but those who literally go deep with thier strategy, or those who want try something stealthy may want to give it a go to see what it offers. It’s a pretty neat trick, provided you don’t run out of breathing air first.

As far as control set-up goes, submarines handle pretty smoothly in Warships. Steering is about the same, and you can set up a pretty moderate speed on the same level as you could with destroyers and other vessels. The main difference here is that you can utilize the C button to dive and the F button to surface. Keep in mind that like the speed buttons, these are gradual so you won’t rise or drop right away. You’re going to go slow in these situations, so if you’re beneath the water and want to get up to the surface, it’s going to take a few seconds. Likewise if you’re looking to drop on some foes so you’ll need to plan ahead. This isn’t exactly like sinking a stone. A submarine requires some time to sink to the ocean floor in reality and in game.

Wargaming took its time redesigning the particular maps for the upcoming World of Warships beta that will utilize the submarines, and it shows based on the levels that we played thus far. The ocean floors look absolutely beautiful, and blend right in with the overhead action that took place with previous World of Warships sessions. It’s almost like it didn’t miss a beat, and considering all the rebuilding that had to take place, that’s really something. What’s more, the level of design on the submarines themselves, as you can see in the screenshots, is cool as well. Here’s hoping that the team adds some classic models over the next few months, including that Das Boot model that the director was talking about. (We’ll take a yellow one too please because, well, you get it!)

As far as when submarines will be fully integrated into World of Warships, the team expects them to arrive in 2020, once beta testing has successfully been concluded. They expect the game to go through that over the next few weeks, as well as make the rounds at a few trade shows, including this week’s Gamescom event.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like World of Warships: Legends will be getting submarines. The team does have a “never say never” sort of approach to the game, but considering they set up those versions of Warships with more of an arcade style, they’re likely going to stick with above-the-surface action for now. Still, you never know.

Wargaming has something special here. While submarines do require a greater deal of strategy to soak in, and a lot more balance when it comes to survival, it’s pretty cool stuff once you get things figured out. The visual style is great, adding a layer to the game that we never thought that we’d get to see. Fans are sure to love what it has to offer as it goes into beta over the next few weeks and into full launch sometime next year.

World of Warships is available now on PC. We’ll keep you informed once a full beta schedule becomes available.

(Wargaming Austin flew us down and provided accommodations for the hands-on preview. We thank them for their hospitality!)

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WoW Classic Realm Capacity Increased in Order to Tackle Queues

Blizzard has announced that it will be easier to get in the WoW Classic realms after a few hotfixes that will substantially increase the number of players that can be simultaneously logged in and playing. This should, according to the forum post, result in smaller queues for realms with large queues and some realms shouldn’t have any queues anymore at all.

Queues for WoW Classic realms have at some points peaked at 30,000 plus waiting to get in. Streamer Asmongold had to end a live stream early when he got disconnected and put into a queue 20,000 long that took 6 hours to get through. He didn’t actually turn the stream off though, he kept it going while he slept 80,000 people tuned in to watch.

But the login queue isn’t the only one you’ll find in WoW Classic. Reddit user artemsaetg posted a screenshot to r/gaming showing a line of people waiting to kill a quest mob in WoW Classic. This is something I remember seeing in the early days of Everquest.

Of course, all of these queues will go away before long. The tourists who were just there to see what all the hype was about will leave and the masses of people lining up to kill mobs will spread out. The challenge right now is getting through this time when the game is seeing incredible popularity. For now, expect the queues to be especially bad on the weekends. We may even see them make a return in the realms that are expected to lose them with this hotfix.

 

Source: WoW Official Forums

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Last Oasis Early Access to Begin October 1st

Last Oasis was one of the few new MMOs that were shown during E3 this year and now players are just a month away from getting to try it for themselves as the Last Oasis Early Access will begin on October 1st.

Last Oasis is set on Earth thousands of years in the future after the Earth has stopped rotating. This has created two extreme environments, one of razor-sharp ice and darkness, the other an arid desert wasteland. Between these two there is a thin strip of habitable land. To stay alive humanity has built a large walking city. Clans clash over resources and territory in this hellish future.

It is a woodpunk inspired open-world MMO being created by Donkey Crew, an indie studio from Poland. It first got attention in a big way during E3 2019 when it was one of the games featured in the PC Gaming Show Press Conference. It was also met with an impressive reception at Gamescom last week.

If you’d like to know more about Last Oasis you can find it on Steam where you can already add it to your Wishlist. This is a great option if you’re interested in the game because you’ll be alerted when it is made available on October 10th.

They’ve also released a new trailer for the game which features a deadly giant worm called the Legendary Sandworm. These sandworms are massive and have claimed the lives of many captains in the past.


Source: Press Release

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Esports Isn’t Mainstream Yet, But It’s Getting Close

We’re closing the gap! Esports is finally starting to be recognized by the mainstream as more than some stereotypical teenagers binging Call of Duty in their mom’s basement all night. You know, munching Cheetos and inhaling energy drinks? Esports is starting to be seen as a real sport. While we’re not there just yet, seeing the perception of media makes one thing very clear: esports is here to stay and they’re not just “playing” around anymore.

The Fortnite World Cup Surely Was, Well… Epic

Fortnite World Cup esports

Let’s take the recent Fortnite World Cup as a solid example. Epic Games are the makers of Fortnite and the Epic Engine that runs the majority of your favorite games. They put on a real spectacle in July! During the three-day event, 19,000 fans gathered at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City to watch a bunch of kids play video games. That’s no small feat, considering the stadium and event sold out, something very mainstream.

Back in February 2019, Epic Games announced that on top of the $100 million prize pool announced back in May 2018, they were dropping another $100 million for 2019. For comparison sake, the more mainstream horse race, The Kentucky Derby, had a prize pool in 2019 that was only $2 million, while the mainstream tennis-focused Wimbledon’s entire prize pool equaled over $41 million (34 million GBP) for 2019. 

 

The New Kids On The Block

We’re not talking chump change here. In fact, 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf took home $3 million from his first-place solo finals finish. During the duos finals, Emil “Nyhrox” Bergquist Pedersen and David “Aqua” Wang (aged 16 and 17, respectively) split their winnings of $3 million. These three kids won the combined spoils equaling three Kentucky Derbies. 

Let’s not forget about the viewership. What makes the more traditional sports so popular is that the average everyday person can root for their team both in-person and from home. This is the part where esports has some work to do. While the Fortnite World Cup finals peaked at the impressive 2.3 million viewers across YouTube and Twitch, the 2019 Kentucky Derby had 16.34 million at its peak, according to NBC. While the 2.3 million doesn’t include “fans watching in-game and on other streaming and social media platforms,” such as Twitter, Facebook, and within Fortnite itself, there’s no way they hit the same numbers as the horse race. Let’s not even try to compare that to the 98.2 million that watched the 2019 Super Bowl.

 

Esports Isn’t Just Another Sport, It’s Better

Esports has an evolutionary edge, though. While the aforementioned horse racing and tennis sports don’t generally change at all, video games do often, and they do so really quickly. A weapon in a game could get a buff (upgrade) or a nerf (downgrade) in the very next patch, or a new map could be released, changing the entire landscape for that game. Developers tend to make updates to their games to fix bugs, errors, or to change the way one plays their game! And what of sequels?

While Epic Games has created a truly adaptable game that doesn’t need a Fortnite 2, games like Call of Duty and Madden have yearly releases, keeping players on their toes to learn new mechanics every twelve months or so for the competitive market. The professional players at the officially sanctioned Call of Duty World League jump ship the second that a new game launches for the new season, for instance. Players that want the newest roster of NFL teams are likely to grab each year’s Madden. Even the incredibly popular Blizzard title, Overwatch, that harbors the seasonal Overwatch League is allegedly flirting with the idea of a sequel.

So, where does that leave us? Esports is still volatile, but expanding near daily. Each year, esports athletes are getting younger and younger, retiring in their 20s, and making names for themselves. It’s not going to help anyone to mince words here. Esports, as a whole, has three key points that need to be addressed to really make it big with the mainstream viewership: leveling off, camera views, and product options. 

 

What Esports Needs To Do

What I mean by “leveling off” is that the average viewer doesn’t want to learn all new rules every time they turn on the TV. The constant tweaks and patches to games are surely going to confuse fans that don’t play the game. Where football has remained unchanged for decades, a new map, mode, or changes to that sniper rifle over there would change the game entirely. 

If you’re watching a game being played, you want access to the action. That’s why camera angles and views are another key point to address here. In most traditional sports, the focus is on the player holding the ball or in a single area. In a game like Fortnite, where there’s 100 players all at once, that can get trickier if there are three big fights going on in three different areas.

As mentioned before, new games come out constantly and each have their own respective athletes. There’s no way to compare this phenomenon to classic sports either. A professional Halo player may not also be a professional Call of Duty player, even though they’re both of the same “first person shooter” genre. A pro at Street Fighter might not be any good at Mortal Kombat, even if both are considered fighting games. Each game has clear lines in the sand due to different mechanics. Sure, one could say the same about traditional sports, but we’re talking hundreds of games at an unprecedented scale, not a few dozen.

 

Where Will It Lead?

Needless to say, when I call it the “mainstream viewership”, I don’t mean the Millennials and Gen Z generations that already watch these things on Twitch or YouTube. Viewers that are used to watching know how to adapt quickly and easily. I’m talking about the main media outlets and the average everyday person. While some outlets have dipped their toes, such as the Overwatch League being presented on ABC or the TBS-backed eLeague, allocation is clearly skewed still. While we have an uphill battle still to go, it’s not all bad.

blizzard esports

More and more esports stadiums and physical places to play are popping up all the time. More schools are looking into the idea of adding esports to curriculum. Professional traditional sports stars are investing in pro gaming teams, such as NBA star Rick Fox and Echo Fox. Parents are embracing the idea that their kid may not be cut out to be a Varsity football player, but they still can be an athlete with the right training and focus. 

Plus, with big money moves like what Epic Games is working through, it’s only a matter of time before esports hits that mainstream. It’ll be no time before we start seeing the finish line. Until then, esports will continue to grow.

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Conan Chop Chop Delayed Until 2020

Today Funcom and Mighty Kingdom have announced that Conan Chop Chop has been delayed until 2020. While normally a delay would be cause for concern this one is actually a very good thing. After a very successful demo this summer the two companies have decided to increase their investment in the game, making it bigger and better.

“We had an absolute blast showcasing the game at E3 and Gamescom earlier this year. It was especially gratifying to see how much fun people had playing the game in co-op mode. The teamwork, the banter, the way people moved ever so sneakily towards their near-death companions in order to pick up their gold when they fall… We couldn’t have been happier with the reception,” says founder and CEO of Mighty Kingdom Philip Mayes.

“One of the things we get to do with the extra time is expand multiplayer from just couch co-op to also include full online multiplayer,“ says Mayes. “This has undoubtedly been THE most requested feature after we started showing off the game, so we’re very excited for the opportunity to bring that in.”

Now the game is due to release in the first quarter of 2020 on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch. Conan Chop Chop was first announced as an April Fools Day joke but it turned out not to be a joke at all. At E3 the game was formally announced and it was said that the game would launch on September 3rd. Which is of course just a little bit over a week away.

It might just be a silly stick figure Conan game, but honestly, it looks like it will be a blast to play and we can’t wait to see what else they do with it now that they’ve given themselves a few more months of development.

 

Source: Press Release

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World of Warships Legends Interview: Bringing the Hit Game To the Console Front

At this point, players have gotten a chance to dig into World of Warships on the console front with World of Warships Legends, Wargaming’s free-to-play version with modified controls. While a bit different from its PC brethren, it’s just as exciting, and offers up an abundant amount of content, including an exciting Hunt For Tirpitz campaign.

For those unfamiliar with the game, we decided to dive a little deeper and speak with Player Interactions Manager Filipp Glushakov, who’s also known in the community under the name “Philigula.” 

First, after having the beta in testing for the past few months, Glushakov talked about the feedback that came from it.

World of Warships Legends

“(It’s been) mostly positive,” he explained. “Whatever players have not liked yet, we’ve been pretty quick to fix or offer them something else. We were very tight knit with the community right from the very early alpha, when it was like a hundred people. And the beta was a couple of thousand. And now we have the live server, we have testers, we listen to feedback and collect every day, and I have documents to prove it.” He added a smile at the end.

Next, we discussed the changes that were made to allow World of Warships to run properly on the console front. There were some tweaks when it came to the player count, going down from 12 vs. 12 (the PC standard) to 9 vs. 9; and also some modifications to the controls so that they would operate with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller. We asked Glushakov how the team went into these changes, and if everything went through as planned, or if more work is intending to be done.

“Most definitely, we did make all the changes to make the game work,” he said. “I guess the scaling back of the teams for the purpose of perfect matchmaking is just what needed to be done simply because we have two platforms (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). And no matter what expectations we had, we needed to account for that, because it is a niche game. Just naval combat. I mean, ask your friends how many of them know about such a thing.

“So, thankfully, our scaling back did not impact anything and we have more folks than we expected.”

Then he got into a rather interesting factor about the game that could really play a factor with a future update. “Plus, we’re thinking about cross play (between the two platforms). That’s going to be helpful, I’m sure.”

World of Warships Legends

For the time being, though, “When you go to match nowadays, one platform at a time, Tier III to Tier VII, you should find one pretty much instantly and with full teams and have all the fun you can or just yellow, I’ve seen them do it a couple of times.”

For those jumping into the game for the first time, Glushakov provided a quick rundown.

“We have 15 maps, over 70 units of warships currently, spread across four nations, and I’m sure there will be one more nation before the end of the year,” he explained. “I can’t quite unveil what that will be (just yet). We’ll have several thematic events, we have campaigns in every update, which are essentially a set of tasks that you go through to complete that can earn you rewards. And you can double, triple those as well. 

The game is free-to-play, but he also talked slightly about Microtransactions. “If you invest a little bit in doubloons – it’s 2500 for a full campaign pass, so to speak, we call it Admiral’s Backing.”

But it’s completely optional. “If you’re willing to invest time, you can be rewarded handsomely for that time. Not only will you gain rewards, but how your skill will grow, how many different ships you will have, different nations and different classes, and so on and so forth. And, finally, Commander roster, yeah. You’re going to have quite a few of those. It’s now at 30.”

And don’t worry, “noobs.” If you’re a newcomer to the World of Warships saga, there’s no danger to giving the game a try. While the higher-up Tiers are best recommended to those that are seasoned with the game, there’s a good starting ground for you to learn what it has to offer, according to Glushakov.

“The rules are pretty simple, but sometimes you can get a little overwhelmed if you try to start it at hard tiers,” he noted. “But if you just follow initial progression of the game, you should be like a fish in water.”

He then talked a little bit about customization. While there aren’t too many full-blown features with this available in Legends just yet, there are things that players will be able to modify that they can have fun with.

Glushakov explained, “You can install upgrades on your ships, which will tweak their performance. When it comes to visuals, we have flags, both historical and we’ll have some flags for fun coming soon. We have different camos, again, something more based on history, and, I believe in the future, we might have something bright and in your face. But, of course you would be able to disable it.”

As for the future, “I dunno about any decals or anything like that, so for now it’s just the flags and the camo.”

So, no pink camos. “No,” laughed Glushakov. “Outside of the realm of possibility, I doubt it.”

However, he did bring up another fun factor. “But players ask me about giving names to their ships…we’re probably not gonna do that either. Because an Iowa is an Iowa is an Iowa.”

World of Warships Legends

World of Warships Legends is available now for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It’s free-to-play with optional microtransaction purchases.

(Wargaming did fly us down to the event to try the game out and speak to developers. We thank them for their hospitality!)

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Hand of the Gods: Smite Tactics, the Smite Tactical Card Game is Shutting Down

Its been a while since we’ve heard any news from Hi-Rez and now that we have it’s only bad news. The Smite Tactical Card Game Hand of the Gods: Smite Tactics is shutting down on January 1st 2020. This was announced via Twitter and fan reaction was sad, but not surprised. The game has undergone a number of changes throughout its development and many of the fans who enjoyed the game lost their love for it over time.

As a thank you for fan’s time spent, and to make the rest of the time the game is live more enjoyable Hi-Rez is giving everyone 100,000 runes.

Hand of the Gods launched February 20, 2018 which means that sadly the game won’t make it 2 years being live. It first appeared as an Early Access title in 2017.

 

There was also news about Smite, good news though. Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld has been added to the Smite pantheon. She’s the first God to be added to the game since April. From the sound of it she’s a pretty complex character. She’s a mage with powerful long-distance attacks, the ability to summon plants, and she can plant seeds that can revive her if enough are collected. As always to help you get an idea of how Persephone plays Hi-Rez has released a God Reveal video. It’s nearly 5 minutes long and has a lot of information to take in.

 

This Persephone is nothing like the one from Punderworld. She’s a dark and vicious fighter. So really, she fits right in with the Smite pantheon.

 

Source: Twitter, Press Release

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Steel Circus – Speedball for the Champion Generation

Steel Circus is described by developer Iron Mountain Interactive as Rocket League meets Mario Strikers. I silently nod in agreement, but the first seconds of gameplay are enough to come up with a more fitting inspiration: Bitmap Brothers’ Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe.

Kids nowadays don’t know what Speedball 2 is so they wont know how it defined a generation. The name alone wasn’t going to help market Steel Circus, but Speedball 2 instantly comes to mind. It was your go-to violent arena sports game if your computer happened to be a Commodore Amiga or an Atari ST, but Brutal Deluxe was released in several other platforms. “Insanely fun” somehow falls short to describe it, because it truly had this special something that very few games ever managed to replicate, and none of the sequels or remakes managed to even come close. Ubisoft’s upcoming arena sports game Roller Champions is another interesting alternative.

That being said, I can play along to the above comparison. Steel Circus borrows from different arena sports games and doesn’t score many goals for originality, but the core mechanics and gameplay are on the right track.

Steel Circus Preview Winning Team

No Rules, Great Scotch

Steel Circus is a fast-paced multiplayer game of teamplay and supreme player coordination. There is no room for luck, apart from the extremely rare events where the ball tends to hit the metallic bumper and end up inside the goal, in the best pinball style. These haphazard moments will often decide a match, so it’s advised that you have a decent notion of geometry and the perks of bouncing the ball off walls. There is a significant gap between newcomers and expert players that will take some time to bridge, proof that Steel Circus has a margin for progression and that skill and split-second reasoning is what ultimately matters.

Great team combinations and eye-catching goals are incredibly rewarding. When a play tricks your opponent and results in a goal, you feel tempted to cheer and celebrate – there are emotes for that, obviously. When your adversaries take the upper hand and you’re on the receiving end of a stunning play, you feel humbled and learn from your mistakes. Steel Circus is all about tactics, improving your game and making the best of what each champion has to offer. There is never a dull moment with all the tackles and abilities going on.

While Steel Circus pits three players on each team, each player must embody a different champion. You can’t pick the same character as your teammates, which makes absolute sense. This final closed alpha test offered a selection of six champions, each one with their own unique statistics and skills. The plan is to have over 15 champions for the full release in early 2020.

Each champion has their own power, speed, sprint and health stats, but it will mostly come down to their skills and how you use them. Skills have a long cooldown time, so make sure you’re profiting from their timely use.

Steel Circus Preview Explosion

The latest champion is Acrid, a monstrous being that seems out of the Predator school of creatures. While powerful, he is extremely slow, an issue that doesn’t make him the best attacker. His rampage skill will turn him into a devastating slapping machine for a few seconds, perfect for clearing the field for his teammates. Putrid discharge is more of a damage skill, as Acrid spits a corrosive fluid that takes one health bar from whoever steps on it.

Shani was introduced early in development, but she only made it into the game recently. Hailing from Republic of Africa, this brilliant bioengineer is weak but comes with a handy spear that she can throw and then teleport to its location. She is also able to jump high in the air and strike down like lighting, stunning her opponent.

Schröder is primed to become a fan favorite, with his ability to bend reality for his own personal gain. His origins are as mysterious as he is sneaky, being capable of diving into the floor for a significant speed boost. Entering the floor and switching places with an opponent is his other skill, something that will come in handy when a player feels tempted to celebrate a goal before it happened.

Cap-x02 is a machine that was built to last… and score. It’s an all-round player with no real downsides to speak of. It is also able to summon a temporary barrier to stop other players and the ball from going through. This is very useful for defending purposes if you manage to pull it at the right time. Cap-x02 also turns into a turret for some destructive firepower.

Ellika is a powerful Pacific League officer with large experience in law enforcement. She shines through her sheer power and physical strength. Her skills include throwing her shield in bold Captain America fashion to stun her opponents, and she is also capable of creating a circular prison to incarcerate other players for a few crucial seconds.

Finally, we have the bagpipe-wielding Scottish stereotype Lochlan. Tough as nails as his physique will surely let on, he is able to slam the ground thanks to the robotic fist which replaces the arm that was crushed by a large rock – don’t ask. Playing the bagpipes will affect the players within range, preventing them from moving at full speed.

Champions in Steel Circus are neatly designed and sport a range of skills that should be enough to complicate your selection. You should get used to different champions though, as the character selection is done in a random order, meaning that the first player to pick could eventually choose your favorite.

Steel Circus Preview Score

Welcome to Dodge City

Steel Circus plays a fast and mean game of futuristic handball. Goals come in thick and fast and you can either win a game if you score ten goals or if you are in the lead when the five-minute match is over. Since there is no fixed goalkeeper, it’s up to you and your teammates to coordinate your efforts, possibly leaving one of you further back to prevent any sort of counterattack.

Health also comes into play closer to the end of the match. Suffer enough blows and you will be knocked off the game for a few vital seconds. It doesn’t take long to respawn, but those seconds may prove to be enough to turn the tide of the match. Occasionally a couple of power-ups will show up in the arena, with the players who are lucky to pick them up getting a significant health boost or seeing their skill cooldown time reset.

Tackles are the name of the game, with every player resorting to this move to stun their opponents for a second. There is even an XP reward for the player with the most tackles at the end of the match. However, you also have a dodge button which allows you to feint your opponent and leave him befuddled if the timing is just right.

The single arena currently available is a beautiful mesh of cyan and neon lights, set against a futuristic cityscape backdrop that is more detailed than it has any right to be. It’s stunning and crispy clear at the same time, making me eagerly excited for the premiere of the promised second arena. I look forward to seeing the new setting and backdrop, and the developers are aiming for over six arenas at launch. The current arena usually features three bumpers on each side of the field, but occasionally it shows up completely devoid of any obstacles, promoting straightforward play and goals scored from afar.

Steel Circus Preview Close Goal

I still can’t quite get to grips with the passing and shooting system, but I know this is a personal issue and I realize that the more I play, the better I get at it. Running and aiming isn’t entirely intuitive, and you’ll fail a lot of goals before getting the hang of it. It requires pinpoint accuracy to pass the ball to a teammate, but the best players will make it feel effortless and natural.

I wouldn’t mind seeing the introduction of a mini map. It’s not entirely obvious where the ball is when offscreen, although there is an indicator giving you a vague idea. Knowing where your teammates are positioned is also essential to get a superior overlook on the arena, so a mini map would be extremely useful in this regard.

Steel Circus will be free-to-play, but you can purchase an Early Access package giving you access to all current and future champions. An in-game store also offers several options such as champion skins, emotes and more.

Steel Circus is a game that plays well and is at its best when two rival teams show a clear grasp of the core mechanics and mastery of the individual skills. It offers an equal dose of chaos and tactics, being brutal but never violent, and suited for both a quick match and a substantial dose of competitive tackling. Early Access will hopefully reward it with the player base that it both deserves and needs to evolve, turning it from a niche game into a full-fledged eSports contender.

Will it ever reach the heights of Rocket League or Mario Strikers? It’s quite a steep challenge, but these champions may have a skill or two up their sleeves.

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