Breaking up with Blizzard? Here are 36 Games to Replace your Library

Blizzard means something different to everyone. For some it could mean a war between orcs and humans carried out from a bird’s eye view, and for others it could be an intergalactic battle between the humans and the Zerg. Still for other players it might be the magical adventures of sword and sorcery curated by the World of Warcraft team. Maybe you recently got into Blizzard games and found them appealing, or maybe they’ve been a constant for the entirety of your life.

I remember my first foray into one of Blizzard’s universes; it was a CDROM version of Starcraft that I purchased at Best Buy and installed on a junk PowerMac that I dug out of the wreckage of an abandoned school. No, I’m not joking, my childhood was weird. Those were some great memories but I have to admit, things have soured over the years. Apart from subpar expansions to World of Warcraft, Blizzard has rocked the political stage and alienated many players by banning player Blitzchung from Hearthstone and revoking thousands of dollars in prize money over his pro-Hong Kong statements.

Where there are some who fall on the other side of the issue, many agree that this is a threat to free speech and a condemnation of Hong Kong’s people by Blizzard. Whether or not Blizzard meant it that way, it chose money over people, and chose to quash free speech. I’m not sure if an apology will even dig them out of the hole they’ve dug themselves but that does leave an interesting question: where are players going to go if they leave Blizzard and Battle.net behind? How are they going to get their hack and slash fix? What world will they move on to after Azeroth? Here’s some great news: we’re not living in 1996 anymore; we have access to a massive library of games, many of which are just as good or even better than the digital buffet that Blizzard has served up over the years. In this article we take a look at some of the options and explore just where you might go on your next digital adventure.

Diablo

1996 was a decent year for video gaming, especially given everyone’s favorite Hack N’ Slash, Diablo hit PC’s, Macs, and eventually the Playstation. It featured a beautiful dungeon crawling experience that allowed you to play through many of the same elements that you’d encounter in D&D without forcing you to move along at a crawl in order to gain the most miniscule amount of experience. Quite frankly, it’s a great game to come home to after work. The years were pretty good to Diablo; while the first installment featured only a multi-level dungeon and town, the second included more of an overworld, with the third finally bringing us an expansive world to explore and multiple dungeons combined with an epic storyline. Most importantly, like all Blizzard games, it features multiplayer whether you want to travel through the dungeons with a friend or go head to head in multiplayer. Diablo is a great series, but if you’re looking to ditch Blizzard for good, there are some decent alternatives out there that will scratch the itch.

Fate

For a game released by Wild Tangent in 2005, it certainly has picked up some steam. With three sequels and randomly generated dungeons, Fate is much closer to the original Diablo concept than some of the others on this list. There are some off-putting elements, the first being that the game is a bit cartoony. If you can get past that however, you have a great Diablo clone that allows you to descend infinite floors, at least until you get bored of it. Fate differs from Diablo in a few ways, the most important being that you now have a pet that will fight alongside you, and will carry items back to town for sale.

 

 

Multiplayer: No
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/246840/FATE/

Torchlight

This game is very similar to Fate, though the first multi-level dungeon in the game is not randomly generated. There is a campaign with a decent but highly predictable storyline and only 30’ish main dungeon floors. Once you beat the game you will be able to unlock a randomly generated dungeon, giving you the ability to play and replay as much as you like. Just as with Fate, Torchlight features a pet system with the same functionality. i.e., sending the pet back to town for item sales, and fish that will transform it into different types of monsters. Torchlight II changes it up to create a game more dependent upon the overworld and plays more like an isometric World of Warcraft with the quests visible on the right pane rather than in a Quest Journal that you need to pull up every single time. The interface for Torchlight 2 is more streamlined and will remind you a bit more of Diablo III rather than the previous installments in Blizzard’s series. In addition to having a more expansive world, Torchlight II improves on the inventory systems by giving you more slots and storing consumables in a different tab.

 

Multiplayer: Torchlight 2, LAN, Internet
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/41500/Torchlight/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/200710/Torchlight_II/
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/torchlight
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/torchlight_ii

Titan Quest

If the open world Hack and Slash model calls to you, then Titan Quest is probably what you’re looking for. Released in 2006 it’s a little older, but it does feature a vast world that is based upon Greek mythology. While it is old, it has been re-released as Titan Quest Anniversary on Steam with new expansions currently being released. For mobile users, a mere $7.99 can get you a version for your tablet, phone, or even your Chromebook.

Mutiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/475150/Titan_Quest_Anniversary_Edition/
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/titan_quest_anniversary_edition
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dotemu.titanquest&hl=en_US

Sacred

The original Sacred is a 2D open world Hack and Slash RPG with brings it closer to Diablo III, but really makes it a hybrid of Diablo and Diablo III. It takes place in the world of Ancaria and features multiple questlines. The start of the game will depend on the character class you choose, for example the Gladiator begins in an arena and is forced to fight for his freedom while other classes may simply start in town. Like Diablo, Sacred features hordes of monsters and tons of abilities to help you explore Ancaria in the most violent way possible. Sacred 2 continues the tradition and Sacred 3 takes it into an unexpected nosedive from which the franchise will never recover.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/12320/Sacred_Gold/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/225640/Sacred_2_Gold/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/247950/Sacred_3/
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/sacred_gold
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/sacred_2_gold

Grim Dawn

Like Diablo III, Grim Dawn is a dark fantasy Hack and Slash game with fast paced action and a crafting system much like in the original DOTA mod. The story takes place in the world of Cairn where humanity is on the brink of extinction and the story itself is much more involved than Torchlight. It is often compared to Titan Quest but it improves on it in many ways with better physics and even a dismemberment system, allowing you to specify just how you want your enemies to die. Grim Dawn does feature factions, meaning you’ll have far more to worry about than hacking through thousands of monsters, though that’s always going to be a defining part of these games.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/219990/Grim_Dawn/
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/grim_dawn

 

Path of Exile

Released around the same time as Diablo III in 2013, Path of Exile strives to recreate the general awesomeness of hack and slash games while rejecting some of the poorer decisions made by the Diablo III developers. A full featured online game, it is completely free and allows you to team up with your friends to discover the secrets of Wraeclast. The story for the game is intriguing in that you are an exile sent to live out your days on the continent of Wraeclast where the entirety of the game takes place. The game spans three platforms, PC, XBOX One, and Playstation 4, making it a great experience no matter which side of the console war you come down on.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/238960/Path_of_Exile/

 

Kingsroad

Okay, admittedly it’s odd to include a browser game on here, but why not? Kingsroad was released in 2013 and it’s very much a Diablo style game. I played it on Facebook initially but these days it plays on an external site and it can even be downloaded for mobile. Most importantly, it includes multiplayer and even a clan system, making for a more dynamic experience than most browser games. If you have an itch to scratch and need a low spec multiplayer experience, Kingsroad is the way to go.

 

Multiplayer: Yes
Play It:
Browser: https://www.rumblegames.com/kingsroad
Mobile: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rumbleentertainment.kingsroad&hl=en_US

Starcraft

Real Time Strategy games were nothing new in 1998, but with Starcraft Blizzard really managed to redefine the genre. The game was released for PC, Mac, and even Nintendo 64, making it one of the only console RTS games available. Alongside Command and Conquer 64, it really was a giant in its day. Unlike C&C however, Starcraft was still a 2D game. On the surface it appears to be extremely simple, but it is complex enough to have lasted through several decades and has been used as the foundation for countless video game tournaments. As one of the most popular games in South Korea and the world over, it is no surprise that it received a sequel that easily rode upon the success of the original. But, even if you have enjoyed the game over the years, where do you go next?

Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War

Released in 2004 and based on the Games Workshop tabletop universe, this game featured multiple expansions and in the beginning, Starcraft itself was slated to be a Warhammer game anyway. Set in a dark future, you can choose from multiple factions including the technologically advanced Eldar, the deeply religious space marines, the forces of Chaos, or even the near-invincible orcs. All the entries in this franchise feature the unit building that you came to love in Starcraft, but it also features a morale system and a terrain system that can completely change the outcome of a match if they are not properly taken advantage of. Dawn of War and its expansions mirror Starcraft in many ways, but Dawn of War II tends to take the path of a MOBA with limited building construction options and a focus on smaller squad incursions.

 

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/4570/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/15620/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/285190/Warhammer_40000_Dawn_of_War_III/

 

Supreme Commander

This is considered the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation and TA: Kingdoms, featuring a larger scale battlefield and the ability to deploy thousands of units. The combat is faster, the strategy more complex, and the multiplayer amazing. It throws out the resource rules of other real time strategy games by limiting you to two: Power and Mass. Mass is extracted from the ground while power is generated from a number of different sources. Typical power plants serve as a good start but you will move on to geothermal plants and other options that will serve to help you expand your base. The centers around the ‘Commander’ who serves as a mobile base, capable of creating basic structures. From there you will create more advanced structures and units, eventually moving forward to attack your opponent. The nature of the resource system forces you to keep a careful balance between Power and Mass, forcing you to think ahead and carefully consider the placement of each building. It’s a thinking person’s game but deeply rewarding.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/9350/Supreme_Commander/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/40100/Supreme_Commander_2/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/9420/Supreme_Commander_Forged_Alliance/

Planetary Annihilation

If this game looks similar to Supreme Commander and TA, you aren’t imagining things. It was designed by some of the same team members who worked on both and it completely expands the gameplay presented by Supreme Commander. Rather than focusing on a single battlefield, the game allows you to develop multiple plants and engage in interplanetary warfare. You can even destroy the celestial bodies that your enemies inhabit if you don’t want to fight them on the ground. It’s a far more advanced version of Supreme Commander and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/386070/Planetary_Annihilation_TITANS/

 

Act of Aggression

Real Time Strategy games have grown more and more complex over the years and one of the reasons players loved Starcraft 2 was its ability to be fresh while staying true to its roots. Granted, games like RUSE and Wargame are fun, but sometimes it’s good to return to the source. Act of Aggression is considered to be the spiritual successor to Act of War and combines classic RTS gameplay with modern graphics and multiplayer functionality. If you’re pining for the good old days but want a veritable feast for the senses, you have to pick up Act of Aggression.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/318020/Act_of_Aggression__Reboot_Edition/?l=latam&t=1441522800

Command and Conquer

The original C&C was released in 1995, long before Westwood Studios made complete fools of themselves and were subjected to an EA takeover. The first installment, later to be known as C&C Gold was a monumental success following Dune and Dune 2. It featured simplistic gameplay that was revolutionary for the time and found itself leaping onto several consoles. Most notably, it was ported to the Nintendo 64 where it became the very first 3D iteration of Command and Conquer, even preceding Generals itself. There have been multiple sequels spanning three different universes, but today you may want to check out either C&C 3 or C&C 4. In my opinion, 3 is one of the better options if you want to relive the glory days and get as close to Starcraft as possible. C&C 4 features a mobile base and works okay if you just pretend it’s not a C&C game.

Multiplayer: LAN

Buy It:

Origin: https://www.origin.com/usa/en-us/store/command-and-conquer/command-and-conquer-the-ultimate-collection

Company of Heroes

If you like your RTS to have a World War II theme, then this might just be right up your alley. The game runs on the same engine as Dawn of War and uses many of the same resource gathering techniques. Fuel, for example, can be harvested from what would otherwise be requisition points. Thanks to the physics of the DOW engine, you can expect to see an extremely gritty representation of World War II combat including advanced vehicle destruction, terrain usage, and much more. Company of Heroes 2 is a bit different in its base construction but still fun if you want to check it out.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/228200/Company_of_Heroes/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/231430/

Halo Wars

First released in 2009, Halo Wars has finally made the long journey from the XBOX 360 in the form of Halo Wars: Definitive Edition. Halo Wars serves as a prequel to the original FPS series and allows you to duke it out with the covenant from a bird’s eye view. The base building is tight, but the ground combat is a lot of fun and kind of has the Starcraft vibe you might be looking for. If you want to take it even further then you might have a look at Halo Wars 2 which is available on the Microsoft Store right now.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/459220/Halo_Wars_Definitive_Edition/
Microsoft Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/halo-wars-definitive-edition/9nblggh52xvl
Microsoft Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/halo-wars-2-standard-edition/c42kcjclx6mx

8 Bit Armies/8-Bit Hordes

Following the success of Star Wars: Empire at War and the absolute flop of Universe at War, Petroglyph, formed from the ashes of Westwood Studios released 8-Bit Armies which has a sort of ‘Lego’ feel to it. It’s a very basic RTS but it has one very important thing going for it: it brings back the feel of the classic Command and Conquer without the burden of a story. This game exists for skirmish and multiplayer, and if you want, you can also purchase 8-Bit Hordes to add a bit of sorcery to your military RTS. If you want to be spoon fed a raw RTS experience that will awaken the nostalgia centers of your brain, then here you are.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/427250/8Bit_Armies/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/497850/8Bit_Hordes/

Warcraft

in 1994 Blizzard threw its hat into the RTS arena bringing us a game that would define many lives over the years. Eventually, the franchise morphed into the 3D: Reign of Chaos, and of course the famous World of Warcraft, but that’s another story. What’s important here is that you find something to give you that Warcraft fix. We have five great games here that will whet the appetite and give you that medieval experience.

Age of Empires

The original Age of Empires came out in 1997 alongside many other amazing RTS games and it was quickly followed by Age of Empires 2 which improved on it in every way possible. Tech upgrades in Age of Empires 1, 2, and 3 are dependent upon you progressing through ‘ages’. To simplify this, in AOE 2 you start in the Dark Ages, progress to the Feudal Age, and eventually the Imperial Age. Each age brings new technologies and new building designs which can give you a significant advantage over your opponent. While Age of Empires III does feature great online connectivity, AOE 1 and 2 have recently been remastered on the Microsoft Store and Steam. If you want to go back in time at optimal resolution, now would be the time.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1017900/Age_of_Empires_Definitive_Edition/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/221380/Age_of_Empires_II_2013/
Microsoft Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/age-of-empires-definitive-edition/9njwtjsvgvlj
Microsoft Store: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/age-of-empires-ii-definitive-edition/9njdd0jgpp2q

Stronghold

Firefly Studios brought us Stronghold in 1997 and along with its sequels, it brings us far more than an RTS. The game gives you the classic birds eye view of combat, but there are also many castle building elements. If you have ever wanted to design your own kingdom, this definitely gives you the chance but there are many other resources that you will need to manage. The building of troops for example requires blacksmithing and leatherworking. Fletching is also required if you want to build archers. Stronghold Crusader 2 takes the burden off of you to an extent by allowing you to recruit mercenaries rather than making you harvest the raw materials yourself. Each of these games features a robust single player campaign, among which Stronghold 2 was my favorite.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/40950/Stronghold_HD/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/901735/The_Stronghold_Collection/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/47400/Stronghold_3_Gold/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/232890/Stronghold_Crusader_2/
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/stronghold
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/stronghold_crusader
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/stronghold_crusader_2

Empire Earth

From 2001 to 2007 the Empire Earth franchise has provided us sufficient carnage and empire building in the medieval era. It is similar to many medieval RTS games of the era but it has two hooks:

-Advancement from the Dark Ages to the Nanotech Age
-Space Battles

Another thing I absolutely love about Empire Earth is the use of Priests which are similar to the monks from Age of Empires. The difference between them is that priests are always extremists of a sort and capable of literally bringing down plagues or volcanos upon the enemy. As you progress through the ages the priest takes on different forms, eventually becoming a homeless fanatic wearing a cardboard sign stating: ‘The End is Near’. Empire Earth is a unique take on a tried and true genre and one you want in your library.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/empire_earth_gold_edition
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/empire_earth_2_gold
GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/empire_earth_3

Spellforce

The first entry to the Spellforce series came in 2003 and the latest in 2017. Under the guidance of JoWood and THQ Nordic, Spellforce has brought us an experience more like Warcraft 3 than anything else. The game centers around heroes that you directly control, though you can use WSAD and zoom all the way to ground level if you wish. Once you finish character centric quests you return to a birds eye view and the game turns into a standard RTS. The direct control element makes it unique and you can continue to take control of those characters during the RTS portions. There is nothing quite like being able to explore the town you build on foot, and it’s something you would never find in Warcraft.

Multiplayer: Yes

Buy It:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/39540/SpellForce__Platinum_Edition/

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/39550/SpellForce_2__Anniversary_Edition/

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/311290/SpellForce_3/

Overwatch

For FPS players the world over, Overwatch has been the center of attention for several years and with good reason. Like a few other games in the genre it breaks the typical shooter mold by introducing classes, each of which have their own unique purpose on the battlefield. The thirty characters in the roster all featured their own backstories, some of which have drawn controversy over the years. Overwatch set itself apart from other shooters by requiring teamwork and forging friendships. Competitive and casual gamers alike have been enjoying the game, but now that many are stepping away from Blizzard, there are still a few other class based shooters to turn to.

Paladins

Paladins is a free to play team-based shooter from 2018 that brings some serious magic to the table. Overall, the game is skill based but your characters can be augmented with cards and other upgrades that change the way they traverse the battlefield and perform. If I had to describe it, I would call it a steampunk fantasy game. The game can be downloaded for free via Steam or Discord as well as other platforms including the PS3, Switch, and XBOX One. With frequent updates, it’s going to keep you interested for years. Plus, as a free game, it requires zero commitment on your part.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Steam: https://www.paladins.com/play-for-free

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress started out in 1996 as a mods for Quake, but in 1999 it was released as a standalone product titled ‘Team Fortress Classic’. Finally, Team Fortress 2 was released and while it was once a buy to play game, it is now entirely free and brings a lot to the table. Like Overwatch it features several character classes including a sniper, the Heavy, Medic, and Spy. The game appears simple on the surface but each character brings different abilities that will hinder the enemy in varying ways. Getting to know the functions of each class will be vital to procuring victory for your team, but don’t expect to be an expert right out of the gate. The game is available via Steam, as would be expected from Valve.

 

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/440/Team_Fortress_2/

Dirty Bomb

You may remember this game as ‘Extraction’. Renamed to ‘Dirty Bomb’, this game is a free to play multiplayer shooter set against the backdrop of London following a radiological attack. Of all the shooters I mention, this is the most modern looking and probably one of the prettiest. It has more of a modern vibe and 23 different classes to choose from once you unlock them. No matter which you have unlocked, they will fall into a specific category which will include: Objective Specialist, Fire Support, Medic, Assault, or Recon.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/333930/Dirty_Bomb/

 

Heroes of the Storm

Everyone like HoTS because it took the best characters and settings from the Blizzard game franchise and turned them into an online arena. If you’re not too overly attached to Blizzard at this point however, then you probably won’t mind playing with some other heroes. There are three great MOBAS listed here that you can use to easily replace your HoTS addiction, starting with the tried and true League of Legends.

League of Legends

This 2009 game wasn’t the first MOBA by far; it followed Demigod and DOTA but somehow launched the genre to even greater heights. League of Legends has long stood beside DOTA and DOTA 2 as a competitive title for tournaments and more. If features a slew of heroes including many free ones, which allows free players to fully enjoy the game. If you have the extra cash to burn you can invest in different heroes and skins, making it a more customized experience. The game itself has been considered toxic, especially as far as chat is concerned, but players above a certain level are allowed to participate in a tribunal which gives it some self-policing.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Homepage: https://signup.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/a2/signup/redownload?page_referrer=index

Smite

This is a bit of a different take on the MOBA franchise in that it is not presented in an isometric view. Instead, 2014’s ‘Smite’ brings you the action from a third person perspective while allowing oyu to select among a roster of 106 characters. Each character will belong to one of the fourteen pantheons including: Arthurian, Celtic, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, Japanese, Mayan, Norse, Polynesian, Roman, Slavic, Voodoo, and Yoruba. While the goal of the game is certainly to eliminate the enemy team, you will need to traverse the ‘jungle’ in between which is teeming with computer controlled monsters. Cyclops and Furies will make their play on you and keep you from progressing if you do not work as a team. Killing these monsters brings a substantial reward in the form of buffs that can be picked up by the player and used against the opposing team. The third person perspective of the game changes it as a MOBA entirely as fighting from ground level is an entirely different situation. Try something different; you might just like it.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Homepage: https://www.smitegame.com/download/

 

Hearthstone

Competitive online card games have always been a thing. This trend even started offline with the likes of Pokemon and Magic the Gathering. In the online world, one of the original collectable trading card games happened to be Legends of Norrath which was an intrinsic part of both Everquest and Everquest 2. Hearthstone was much the same, originally titled ‘Heroes of Warcraft’. Today it is both a highly popular CCG and an enemy of democracy, so where do you turn when you want to get competitive online?

Elder Scrolls Legends

If you like The Elder Scrolls then you’re in luck: Legends is a competitive card game set entirely in-universe. You have the opportunity to build a deck comprised of allies from all over the continent and you will get to embark on extensive campaign, all teeming with lore. You do, of course, get to take on other players which makes it even more fun. As a multiplatform game it can be enjoyed on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Macintosh operating systems.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/364470/The_Elder_Scrolls_Legends/
Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bethsoft.theelderscrollslegends&hl=en_US
Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-elder-scrolls-legends-ccg/id1084019358

Magic the Gathering: Arena

Do you remember Magic the Gathering from your days in elementary school? You may have been one of those kids who had a massive portfolio of cards that you played with at recess. Then again, you might have been one of those kids all ticked off that your parents wouldn’t let you buy a deck. Don’t worry: you can play now. Arena is probably the third online iteration of the game and while it’s not available on mobile as of yet, you can play it on Mac OS and Windows.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Home Page: https://magic.wizards.com/en/mtgarena

Shadowverse

If you want to jump into some new territory and play it on your mobile, then why not give Shadowverse a try? This is an anime themed CCG published by Gygames, and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular in Japan. In 2017 the game made its way to the United States and we’ve seen it released on multiple platforms including Windows PC. If you played the developer’s previous game, Rage of Bahamut then you might recognize some of the assets but that doesn’t take away from the fun in the least. As someone looking to split with Blizzard, a fresh start is always welcome, and Shadowverse may be a game unconnected to any franchises you currently know.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/453480/Shadowverse_CCG/
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cygames.Shadowverse&hl=en_US
iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/shadowverse-ccg/id1091512762

 

World of Warcraft

We’re finally approaching the elephant in the room; the one that nearly everyone has at least dabbled in during the course of their lives. WoW has had an insurmountable impact on the gaming world, insomuch that even if you aren’t a gamer, you’ve heard of it. Celebrities and mortals alike have entered the world of Azeroth and fought against the Murlocks, cleared out the infested gold mines, and walked through the Dark Portal. The memories that have been forged in the town of Goldshire and the Horde lands beyond can never be replaced whether they are fresh in your mind from the last few years, or an intrinsic part of your childhood, but if it’s time to leave, then you have a few places you can land. There are plenty of MMORPG’s out there but we’ve handpicked a few that you might want to look at.

Final Fantasy XIV

Many who flee from the world of Azeroth often find themselves on the shores of Eozrea and it’s not a bad alternative if you can handle an MMO on rails. The game itself is amazing but one of the problems I’ve always had with it is that the content is locked behind story. In WoW you can travel wherever you please as long as you can handle the mobs, but in FFXIV you need to finish the main quest to progress through the world. That’s a little irritating for those who want to run around in a pseudo sandbox but it doesn’t take away from what the game is meant to be. It’s designed to be an engaging story with the ability to bring your friends along, and that’s exactly what it is. Though it’s from 2010 the game is beautiful, plays well, has multiple expansions, and dungeons that are second to none. To top all that off, it’s cross platform. Now, the problem with the cross platform play is that everything is platform specific, so if you purchase the game or an expansion on one platform you have to buy it on another. This also applies to the Steam and PC versions – if you buy an expansion as a standalone, not on Steam, then you cannot use the key on steam. Try not to make mistakes with purchases, but do enjoy the game!

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/39210/
Home Page: https://www.finalfantasyxiv.com/

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 takes us pretty far away from the original and into a world where the Charr have overtaken Ascalon and the majority of humans live in Divinity’s reach and the outlying settlements. The world is expansive and there are many beautiful environments to traverse as you progress through the main storyline. One of the most interesting features is the exclusion of a traditional quest system; the only thing even roughly similar to it is the personal story that carries you through a winding campaign, first culminating in the death of the elder dragon, Zhaitan, and then moving into a jungle based expansion. The game is action heavy and features an extensive crafting system that will satisfy every player looking to take a break from the combat. The game is more action heavy than WoW and it is driven by world events that include boss monsters and NPC driven gathering quests that will keep you busy for some time. With new content coming out regularly, it’s unlikely that the game will wind down anytime soon.

Guild Wars 2 - Ley line anomalies

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Home Page: https://welcome.guildwars2.com/en/play-for-free

Rift

In 2011 Rift was created to compete with World of Warcraft and while it fell flat on many fronts there is still quite a bit to like about it. Particularly, if you are a WoW player looking for a similar experience then Rift is extremely alike in controls and combat. The class system is also a little more complicated and gives you far more to play with than WoW ever did, so get ready to create a custom character. My biggest complaint about Rift is that the world itself isn’t very convincing; many of the major cities are simply buildings or platforms with NPC’s standing around offering services; it is in no way as immersive as WoW, so keep that in mind going in. As a free game today, much of it seems to be locked behind a paywall unless you want to pay the monthly fee, but it kind of looks like a used car lot if you don’t want to fork any money over.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get it:
Glyph: https://www.trionworlds.com/rift/en/

Elder Scrolls Online

Set a thousand years before the Elder Scrolls universe as we know it, TESO shows us a Tamriel where Vivec City is still under construction and one where we can finally see the entire continent in all its glory. Do you want to cross the border from Morrowind into Vvardenfell? Actually, do you want to see mainland Morrowind for the first time? Activision finally made it possible and the game is worth checking out. The housing options are superb and some of the storylines are extremely deep. If you aren’t familiar with the TES style of storytelling then you might be in for a bit of a shock as you realize just how much darker this MMO is from WoW, Guild Wars 2, or pretty much any other out there. Still, it’s well worth the price of entry and there is plenty of more content to come.

Multiplayer: Yes
Buy It:
Home Page: https://www.elderscrollsonline.com/en-us/freeplay

Archeage

This 2014 title from Trion brings with it many of the elements that made up classic MMORPGs including the action bar system but it also turns the entire thing into a sandbox. The premise of archeage is to create a world where every single person matters, with their contributions to the world being more than significant. A blacksmith for example could forge the swords used by the largest guilds in the game to defeat the latest raid boss, but you could also become a real estate mogul if you’re into that sort of thing. The game came out a while ago but if you want to start fresh then you might want to have a look at Archeage unchained, the new Buy to Play version of the game that forces everyone to start fresh and removes the pay wall that had previously inhibited many players. Starting at just $25, Archage Unchained is a great gateway into the remastered version of the game, especially as a new player. Still, if you want to try it out for free, you can always try the F2P version before you make a commitment.

Multiplayer: Yes
Get It:
Home Page: https://www.trionworlds.com/archeage/en/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1147660/ArcheAge_Unchained/

Aion

Admittedly, this one is a bit older but it’s still active and it’s still very fun. A very standard, action bar based MMO, this one adds flight mechanics and beautiful graphics. In addition to that there are massive raids that go far beyond the 25 players events we saw in WoW. The game is free to play now, giving you good enough reason to jump in and give it a try. As I said, it’s a bit older but if you’re looking for some mid-2000’s nostalgia to remedy the hole WoW left in your heart then you might as well give it a try.

Aion

Multipayer: Yes
Get It: https://www.aiononline.com/

For many of us, Blizzard has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember whether we fought the Zerg under the guidance of Jim Raynor, or descended deep into the dungeons below New Tristram to defeat evil itself. Then there are those who lost many years of their lives building a new one in the lands of Azeroth. If you have decided that it’s time to move on, then the memories will always be there, but you will find that there are greener pastures elsewhere. If you still feel the need to play, however, I would go so far as to say that enjoying their older titles won’t net Blizzard any revenue. You’ve already paied for Diablo and Starcraft, and even Warcraft, so continuing to have a blast with them really isn’t going to hurt anyone. At the end of the day it’s your decision, but I hope that this list has given you some ideas and can help you to continue to get your fix whether you are ready to move on, or want to linger a little while longer in the worlds that defined your childhood and your early gaming career. Perhaps it’s time to make some new memories and explore a new generation of games.

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PlanetSide Arena Hands-On Preview – Massive Warfare in Familiar Ground

PlanetSide Arena’s best sales pitch would probably include something along the lines of “strength in numbers” and “all-out warfare”. It’s not easy to get another battle royale game out there in such a crowded market, and so a few unique selling points are virtually mandatory.

Daybreak is trying to tap into the wide battle royale userbase with the identifiable PlanetSide brand as a starting point, but it’s likely that veterans of the franchise aren’t particularly thrilled with the new direction. However, this is a game that deserves to be played with a fresh mindset to properly judge its potential.

The long-term plan is to support up to 1,000 players in some game modes, but the Steam Early Access release is going to focus on 300-player battle royale matches. This is more than enough to give you a good taste of the sprawling map size and chaotic final minutes. The closing circle pushes everyone together, as a reminder that you are in the arena to eliminate other squads and proudly stand as the winner, not just to collect mods and power-ups ad eternum.

PlanetSide Arena Preview Drop Pod

Royale Pain Circle

During the short beta test anticipating the Early Access release, we spent quite some time hanging out inside the fleet carrier, wandering around and shooting our fellow players for some harmless fun, as we waited for the match to begin. These were the few peaceful moments in PlanetSide Arena, because as soon as we hit the ground running, it’s time to scour the land for anything that improves your build and your chances against the rival squads.

But first, you need to settle for one of the three available classes: Assault, Engineer, or Medic. Take your time to get acquainted to each one while in the headquarters, switching between classes in a last-minute bid to pick the one that will surely net you the win. Anyone familiar with battle royale and typical shooters won’t have any issues with this selection, or the customization options on offer. Everything about it is designed to get you to the battlefield in no time, including the diverse mods that you unlock and attach to your weapon, or the vehicles that you can choose while customizing your class.

The only game mode available in PlanetSide Arena during the test was the 12-player Squad mode. We could already see some hints of group strategies for the greater good of the squad, but as perfect strangers, our primal instincts told us to go forth and bravely venture into the unknown. The result was, unvarying, death. This is no game for a reckless Rambo approach, despite the temptation to break free from the slow tactical grip that your squad may force on you. Strength in numbers comes to mind once again, a motto that couldn’t ring truer when you are part of a 12-strong squad facing several teams sporting similar numbers.

PlanetSide Arena Preview Pain Circle

This streamlined gameplay approach is patent in the way that the weapon upgrades work when you are in the heat of the battle. There is no inventory to manage, you just choose to pick up or ignore the upgrades, weapons or abilities that you happen upon, always watching your back when it comes to those sought-after drop pods containing legendary items – there is no better time to be ambushed than when you are gazing at that legendary loot. You keep your primary, secondary, and pistol weapons throughout the duration of the match, upgrading them as you go, but there is a fourth slot that is saved for a special weapon. Nanites are the in-game currency that you pick up, but it is shared through the team, so it’s not a source of internal competition.

Mobility in the battlefield isn’t an issue, with so many means at your disposal. Jetpacks are your basic gear to propel you skywards and give you that edge over careless players who look no further than what’s in front of their nose. You can summon your personal vehicle when you want to move faster or, in some cases, when the team needs that extra firepower. Voice chat is of major importance for your team’s well-being, so if you don’t want to jeopardize your chances of success, setting up a team with a few chatty friends is crucial.

Part of your time in PlanetSide Arena is spent rummaging the battlefield for upgrades, while the rest of it is about spotting enemies in the horizon and shooting them before they shoot you. However, the pain field will constrict every few minutes, narrowing the active area and forcing players to come together. What started as a huge battlefield that no single player can accurately cover by himself, slowly but surely shifts into a compact space where several dozens of players have no choice but to blast away, hoping to survive the ensuing anarchy. Infantry units try their best to support the tanks, with the special weapons that you managed to grab minutes earlier possibly making the difference between victory and defeat.

PlanetSide Arena Preview First Person Shooting

Shooting from the Pocket

PlanetSide Arena feels mechanically sound, extremely responsive, fast, and fun, with a fierce competitive side to the matches. The initial minutes of a new match help convey a false sense of security, a feeling that is shredded to pieces as the shrinking circle enters the fray and urges everyone to the same area. Suddenly, there is a lot going on, shots are fired from inconceivable places, and if you manage to survive dangerous situations, you may end up with this rewarding but conflicting sense of exhaustion.

But there are a few concerns that need to be addressed. Against the initial blurb, Daybreak has decided to release PlanetSide Arena as a free-to-play game, just like its older brother PlanetSide 2. However, even with the pleasant last-minute removal of the price tag barrier of entry, it will still face the competition of extremely popular battle royale games such as Fortnite Battle Royale or Apex Legends. Perhaps players will also stick to PlanetSide 2 instead of making the switch to the new game.

If for some reason PlanetSide Arena fails to gain traction and convince a large share of players, the 300-player matches may become an issue. The massive scale of the battles is where the game shines, and if it fails to show them in all their glory, it may end up stuck in an inglorious loop. Match waiting times will be another concern in case the player base is less than satisfactory, with the subsequent addition of game modes dispersing players even further.

PlanetSide Arena Preview Quad Vehicle

Then there are the inevitable lingering doubts regarding monetization. PlanetSide Arena has a loot box or crate system where you can earn cosmetics, which is fine, but there are mods as well that affect your performance. Increased sprint speed, reduced time to revive teammates, or increased turbo regeneration for vehicles all sound like the kind of tiny advantages that may end up giving someone the upper hand. It’s the kind of mechanic that makes you wonder if the battles will be leveled, or if your skill is useless in face of your opponent’s deep pockets.

That’s a lot of “ifs” for Daybreak to consider, with the priority task of balancing gameplay and monetization in a way that pleases the community, while still being able to fund the game’s continued development. I enjoyed my short time in PlanetSide Arena and can’t wait to try more of its massive scale free form combat, but here’s hoping that I won’t have to face an enemy squad that shoots with its credit card.

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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.

The post Esports Isn’t Mainstream Yet, But It’s Getting Close appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Rocket Arena – Everybody Was Rocket Jumping

Rocket Arena is the latest game from Nexon and its inspirations are obvious. A first glimpse at the name brought back fond memories of long nights rocket jumping in Quake, quickly traveling across the map, leaping with unmatched poise and getting back into the fight in the blink of an eye.

But Quake isn’t the only source of inspiration for this hero shooter. Rocket Arena has a visual style that seems to channel both Blizzard’s Overwatch and Hi-Rez Studios’ Paladins. The comparisons are inevitable, but Rocket Arena has a confident style and visual substance that makes it difficult to dislike.

I couldn’t help but smile when I first saw the Rocket Arena characters. What a cheerful and colorful bunch that Final Strike Games designed for its 3v3 arena first-person shooter. It’s like they jumped out of the best Saturday morning cartoons for a quick and unpretentious brawl. A quick “Smash” brawl.

Rocket Arena Preview Amphora Rocketball Crater's Edge

All the Bros Were Smashing

In Rocket Arena, your goal isn’t to drain your opponent’s health bar. After all, everyone is using non-lethal rockets, if such a thing is even plausible. Instead of a health bar you have a Blast Meter and when you take significant hits you are “Megablasted” out of the arena, only to slowly float back down again and reenter the fight. Evidently, this makes you lose precious seconds and your team is weakened during this process.

It’s a mechanic that seems lifted from Super Smash Bros. or Brawlhalla. At this stage I can’t say for sure if it fits the gameplay, as the closed beta feels somewhat unbalanced and in need of further testing. I’d be hard-pressed to choose between this and a traditional health bar, as I don’t think that the Blast Meter adds anything worthwhile to the matches, feeling like a glorified respawn period that gets on your nerves as your hero slowly floats back into a random location.

The rocket jumping aspect needs more work, as it feels unfitting. For a game that is pretty much selling itself on this gimmick, there is a long way to go before it feels satisfactory and worthy of comparison to the mighty Quake series. The main problem with it is the strange physics system or lack thereof, with no proper correlation between the angle of your shot and the way that you are thrusted in the air. Most of the times you’ll simply be propelled upwards, even when you are aiming at a wall, something that should give you a boost and shoot you backwards across the map.

Rocket Arena Preview Izell The Wilds

It’s also odd that other players seem unaffected by the rocket impacts. As Quake has so deftly proved, skilled players can easily come up with amazing strategies that add layer after layer of strategy to a seemingly simple gameplay premise, so long as they are provided with the right tools. This would ramp up the gameplay of Rocket Arena, but right now it lacks that spark that would improve its competitive potential.

Rocket Arena has an interesting take on verticality and the ability to take the fights airborne. The maps are small but aptly designed, but to explore their full potential you will need a fully functioning rocket jump mechanic. You also have a double and triple jump which regrettably turn the game into a clay pigeon shooting gallery of sorts, as you try your best to hit those annoying jumping players from afar. Rocket Arena would surely gain from a more restrained jump feature and a focus on ground-based gameplay, as the matches are almost entirely spent airborne and may end up getting on your nerves.

I don’t mean to sound too jaded or overly critical of Rocket Arena as I understand that it is still in active development and welcoming player feedback. It is an occasionally fun game and it’s obvious that a lot of work went into making it look great and play decently, but I wish some of the issues above were fixed if it wants to stand a chance against other hero shooters. This is the time to do it, to balance the characters properly – a couple of them feel utterly overpowered – and adjust those physics. This could make or break the game.

Rocket Arena Preview Jayto Icefall Keep

Easy Like Saturday Morning

It’s not entirely fair to label Rocket Arena’s visuals as childish; this game is only as childish as a Toy Story movie can be, a Disney movie or some of the best Saturday morning cartoons. The flamboyant and jubilant art style isn’t there to be enjoyed solely by kids, as a keen adult eye will promptly notice the talented design and attention to detail that permeates Rocket Arena.

There are currently six characters available in Rocket Arena, and they are a wide-ranging bunch, both in looks and abilities. Amphora is a cute fighter with an underwater penchant that would make Aquaman proud; Blastbeard is a larger-than-life pirate that carries a massive cannon; Kayi is the Disney princess Elsa in everything but name and looks, sporting ice powers and hailing from the snowy Icefall Keep; Izell is a fearless jungle warrior; Plink is a creative kid and wannabee Inspector Gadget; finally, Jayto is the brash returning champion and acts as the poster boy for the game. Each character comes with their own loadout, with specific strengths and an ultimate ability, and soon you will begin to find a favorite or two among them.

In a nice touch, each contender comes from their own region, corresponding to one map per character, at least so far. It’s easy to see that Kayi comes from the lovely snow-covered Icefall Keep, a kingdom that wouldn’t be out of place in Frozen. Blastbeard has his own pirate-themed Crater’s Edge map, with lovely waterfalls and a shine to the whole thing that turns it into one of my favorite maps visually speaking. Izell naturally comes from Gemstone Jungle, a place filled with ancient temples and a distinct Mayan vibe. I won’t go through the remaining three maps, but each one of them has an inherent style that perfectly suits the respective character – well, maybe except for Plink, who seems at odds with a dino excavation site set in a desert.

Rocket Arena Preview Plink Mega Rocket Crystal Reef

Despite their small size, these maps are expertly designed and have enough elements as to feel unique and entertaining. As I’ve mentioned before, verticality plays an important role, for better and for worse, so you must get used to it if you want to succeed.

You level up each character independently, unlocking rewards such as alternative outfits, trails and artifacts, which provide buffs to certain characters. Extra damage while on the ground for Plink, gaining full health after knocking out an opponent for Amphora, or gaining a short speed bust after a rocket jump for Izell, among others.

As for game modes, there are three PvP modes available and one cooperative mode that pits players against waves of AI-controlled Rocketbots. Knockout is your basic team deathmatch, except that no one actually “dies” in this game, instead being thrusted into the skies and out of the arena. Each player has three badges, nine in total for each team, and when a team is out of badges, the match is lost. Megarocket is about territory control, with rockets falling from the sky and teams having to hold possession for a few seconds until a point is conquered. Rocketball tries to bring a sports twist to Rocket Arena, and you can toss the ball or carry it with you, something that is utterly not advised unless you have a well-oiled team by your side. Currently it feels somewhat frustrating – possibly a matter of easy to learn and hard to master, as I’ve witnessed some players flawlessly scoring goal after goal.

Rocket Arena Preview Amphora Gemstone Jungle

A Promising Start but Not Quite Ready for Lift-Off

My time with Rocket Arena so far has been both fun and frustrating in equal measure. I can clearly see the potential of a game that may give the misleading impression of being aimed at children, but don’t dismiss it on that basis alone; Fortnite isn’t exclusively targeted at adults either and yet it is played by different age groups. It is a long way off from the likes of Quake or Overwatch, with the physics in need of a serious redesign. The characters also feel slightly unbalanced, with occasions where you are blasted out of the arena in a couple of seconds because you looked at someone in a funny way… or because Izell, for example, seems overpowered.

Rocket Arena has an announcer to lend the matches a feeling of spectacle and he mostly delivers. The problem with this is the usual repetitiveness that quickly sinks in, as he seems content in announcing the important events such as goals or badges taken, without any extra flair or funny one-liners.

Despite its flaws and shortcomings, I had fun with Rocket Arena when I switched off my brain and kept my expectations under check. I couldn’t possibly hope for it to play anything like its inspirations at this stage, but it’s impossible to dislike its accomplished art style, cool characters and interesting maps. If all of the issues are suitably addressed, Rocket Arena could end up being a blast. A Megablast, in fact.

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Borderlands 3 Has a Stacked Deck Thus Far, and We Love It

For the longest time, we were waiting for Gearbox Software to confirm Borderlands 3. We knew it was happening at some point, but the company was taking its sweet time when it came to confirming it. However, this past weekend at PAX East in Boston, they finally caved and starting spilling the details, and fans have a lot to look forward to for the next time around.

Set to release this September, Borderlands 3 looks to bring a lot of the same goodness that fueled the previous games, but on a much grander scale when it comes to its open worlds. Plus it’s introducing a slew of new Vault Hunters that mean serious business, which is a good thing. That’s because a new threat promises to be even more dangerous than anything Handsome Jack had to offer.

So let’s break down what we know about the game thus far, leading up to its latest gameplay reveal, which is coming May 1.

 

The Story Thus Far…

The story for Borderlands 3 is shrouded in secrecy at the moment. But chances are players will be digging in deep to take on a number of adversaries as they hunt for that precious loot. This includes no shortage of psychotics, robots, mutants and other dangerous creatures that will stop at nothing when it comes to burying you.

Borderlands 3

But it’s who is leading these dangerous foes that’s the real deal. That’s because you’re going to run head on into the Calypso twins. Very little is known about this dastardly duo, but they mean business based on their hair alone. They’re attitude laden, perhaps even more so than Jack was in the previous games in the series. We’ll have to see what they’re up to, but chances are they might give Far Cry: New Dawn’s terrible two-some a run for their money, especially if they have powerful weapons at their arsenal.

That’s the rundown of the bad guys. However, Borderlands 3 also has its share of Vault Hunters to lead the charge, with four main faces introduced, just as in previous games.

First up, we have Amara, who works on the same level as previous Siren characters introduced in the series. She utilizes a set of ghost-like arms that can charge up special abilities, including a devastating ground pound that can shatter enemies surrounding her.

Then you have Zane, an eye-patch wearing Operative that can pack a gun and run like the best of ‘em, not missing a beat when it comes to jumping into combat. Next up is a beast master named Fl4k, the Beastmaster, that uses robotic abilities to his advantage, as well as calling in drones. And last but not least is Moze, a Gunner that specializes in calling in a giant mech for additional firepower. She’s a great support character that will back up the rest of the group.

We’re not done yet, as Borderlands 3 will play host to a number of familiar characters from the series. For instance, classic Vault Hunters make a return to lend a hand, including favorites like Zer0, Mordecai, Brick, Lilith and Maya. For that matter, we’re also bound to see others join the cut, including Tiny Tina (well, full-sized Tina now), Tina, Marcus, Sir Hammerlock, Ellie, and, of course, Claptrap, because he’s Claptrap.

Most importantly, we’re also going to see some lore fromTales From the Borderlands, as Rhys will make an appearance over the course of the game. Hopefully that means we’ll see some other characters from that side series pop up, just because it deserves a revisit.

 

A Whole New World(s) of Guns

It looks like the action will extend past Pandora for Borderlands 3, and that’s exactly what fans want.

Taking a cue from the company’s previously released Battleborn, the sequel will feature “new worlds beyond Pandora, each featuring unique environments to explore and enemies to destroy,” the company noted in its press release. “Tear through hostile deserts, battle your way across war-torn cityscapes, navigate deadly bayous, and more!”

This could set the stage for some epic encounters with the previously mentioned Calypso twins, as the trailer hints at such encounters as “Rupture Upon Us: Holy Is the Mouth That Bleeds” and “Children of the Vault: Give Your Flesh, Take Your Guns.” It’s going to be a wild ride to be sure.

Along the way, you apparently can unlock some great new gear for your weapons. For instance, you can purchase some attachments to extend the firepower of your already devastating goods. These include tasers (to shock an opponent long enough to finish them off), rocket tubes and other gun barrels. For that matter, you can also purchase specialized ammo to pack a punch, including reflective bullets that can bounce off walls and hit other enemies. This is particularly good if you want to mow someone down from behind cover, something that will be quite helpful.

Borderlands 3

There are also some “wacky” guns thrown in for good measure. A few, for instance, can unleash taunts as you fire them, and even go “running” after opponents if you let them. On top of that, you can also use a launcher for enemies to make them explode, which is a nice touch; and also use a tracker tag to hit enemies, even if they’re not in your normal rage. Clearly Gearbox wanted to take a cue from Insomniac Games’ Resistance series, which introduced a similar style of weapon.

The galactic spread of what Borderlands 3 has to offer is loaded with potential. It’s bound to keep you busy for hours at a time as you conquer each new area, while challenging what the Calypso Twins try to throw at you. And better still, there are options available when it comes to how you take them on.

 

Invite Your Friends, Online and Off

Previous Borderlands games have been excellent when it comes to multiplayer options. You could either hop online and get your battle crew together for co-op enemy shredding, or you could even do local split-screen co-op if you prefer.

Yes, Borderlands 3 will offer the same. Although we have yet to actually see it in action (we’re waiting for that gameplay video next month), it will come with multiplayer options galore. This includes hopping onto Xbox Live, PlayStation Network or PC network and having up to four players jump in to divvy up the loot.

What’s more important, you can also play in split-screen. Although an exact player count hasn’t been given just yet, we assume that up to four can jump in, making Borderlands 3 an ideal couch co-op opportunity if you feel like buddying up. Just don’t get too greedy with the loot, because your friend’s arm is easily within reach and they can hit you. Fortunately, it sounds like a new system will divide things up a little more fairly this time around, so one person doesn’t get everything that has to be offered.

If you prefer, you can also try going at it solo. However, judging by the strength we’ve seen some of the bosses have in the past, Borderlands 3 is likely to follow suit. As a result, you might want to have some friends on your side to help you out, lest you become a stain in the wake of the Calypso twins’ homicidal run.

 

There’s More Where That Came From

The general Borderlands 3 game will be stacked with content. We’re talking hours’ of gameplay across main and side missions, depending on what you and your friends decide to take on. So if you just stick with the core game, you’ll have a lot to do.

However, if you opt in for one of the special editions of the game or the Season Pass, you’ll find even more content where that came from. Here’s how everything breaks down:

Standard Version: If you purchase the general game for $60, you’ll get access to the general game, along with a handful of cosmetic skins and “Toy” guns. You’ll also likely get a few for pre-ordering the game, in case you feel like pouncing on it early.

Deluxe Edition: Along with the goods that come in Standard, you’ll score the following with this $80 edition:

  • Retro Cosmetic Pack: Vault Hunter head & skin, Echo Device skin, weapon skin
  • Neon Cosmetic Pack: Vault Hunter head & skin, Echo Device skin, weapon trinket
  • Gearbox Cosmetic Pack: weapon skin, weapon trinket
  • Toy Box Weapon Pack: 2 Toy guns, Toy Grenade mod, weapon trinket
  • XP & Loot Drop Boost Mods
  • Preorder Bonus: Gold weapon skins & weapon trinket

Super Deluxe Edition:For $99, you can get the above stuff, along with the following:

  • Four campaign DLC packs featuring new stories, missions and challenges
  • Butt Stallion weapon skin, weapon trinket, and grenade mod

I mean…A BUTT STALLION SKIN! Who wouldn’t want that?

Borderlands 3

And finally, if you really want to go Ultimate with collecting, you can grab the Diamond Loot Chest Collector’s Edition for $249.99. Along with the above goods, you’ll score these extras:

  • Diamond Loot Chest Replica: Featuring a functional retractable lid, this chest is perfect for storing your real-world loot
  • Borderlands 3 Character Figurines (x10): Make room on your shelf for the whole crew, including the four new Vault Hunters, the fanatical Calypso Twins, and some of your favorite characters from the Borderlands universe!
  • Sanctuary 3 Snap Model: Construct your very own Sanctuary 3 model ship and display it proudly on its included stand
  • Vault Key Keychains (x4): Because you never know when you might stumble across an unopened Vault
  • Cloth Galaxy Map: Discover new worlds beyond Pandora with Typhon DeLeon’s map of the Borderlands
  • Character Art Lithographs (x5): Unique character prints starring the new Vault Hunters and fanatical Calypso Twins
  • Borderlands 3 Steelbook Case: A gorgeous metal case for any collector’s shelf

Just a word of warning. This last edition is pretty much sold out everywhere. If you really want it, you might want to keep tabs with online retailers to see when they open back up. Good luck.

 

Something Old, Something New, All Great

Borderlands 3

We’ve only seen bits and pieces of Borderlands 3 thus far, as detailed with the premiere trailer that arrived last week. It does paint an interesting picture, though, especially for long-time fans of the series.

It doesn’t look to drastically change things as we’ve come to expect from Borderlands, but that’s fine. The fact of the matter is, Gearbox Software looks to be sticking what works (at least, thus far) with the series, in terms of lunacy, crazy battles, inventive weaponry, attitude-laden Vault Hunters and more.

The visual style thus far, though still in development, looks to be on par with other entries in the series. But it does obviously take advantage of current hardware on the market. No doubt those that own an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro may benefit the most, though PC owners should be all set based on the specs with their machine.

As for gameplay, it’s too soon to tell how the game will operate since we still don’t have a playable built. However, this is Gearbox we’re talking about. They’ve been used to dialing in their games a certain way over the course of the past few years. Even Battleborn felt familiar, as it stood apart from its previous work on the Borderlands games. So no doubt that Borderlands 3 should follow the status quo, based on what we’ve seen thus far.

May 1 is coming. At that point, we’ll get even more details about Borderlands 3, which we’ll break down for you here. But it’s going to be a day of excitement, just like that the reveal day in March was. I mean, we got all this Borderlands info along with the surprise announcement of Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition. What more could Gearbox have for us? A lot, actually.

As it stands, Borderlands 3 could be the biggest game in the company’s arsenal to date. It should pay loving tribute to those fans that have stuck with it thus far, while at the same time inviting newcomers to jump into this crazy, crazy world. Not to mention that the game will have multiplayer options galore between online and local support. Who knows, we may even get some customization options to go along with it, so we can distinctively make our Vault Hunter feel even more like our own.

Throw in a narrative that has the opportunity to launch like a rocket, and familiar elements from the universe, and you have a game that could easily conquer. We’ll see how Borderlands 3 comes through when September 13 rolls around, as the game will release them for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

In the meantime, everybody Wang Chung tonight!

 

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Splitgate: Arena Warfare Hands-On: Now You’re Playing With Portals

Considering how well the competitive gaming market has done over the years, it’s not a big surprise that a lot of companies want in on the action. However, just because you think you have a winning formula doesn’t always guarantee you do. Case in point: LawBreakers; a game that had a ton of potential but very little follow-through, and the developer Boss Key even closed down following the game’s release.

Splitgate

Even so, it’s always great to see a new and ambitious team give a new formula a try, and there’s something about 1047 Games’ Splitgate: Arena Warfare that truly stands out. Maybe it’s due to the fact that you can use portals just as conveniently as you can weapons.

That’s right, portals. Ever since Valve introduced these innovative little doorways with their self-named Portal series, they’ve been high on the wish list of players, and why not? They basically provide an exit to another portion of the map: a quick teleportation that can provide an excellent advantage. That is, however, if you don’t go flying off the edge of the map by accident.

The general rules of Splitgate remain intact from most other shooters: take down as many adversaries as possible and help your team win the match. The fact that players can open portals at will and use this newfound physics to their advantage provides a fresh spin on the proceedings. Can’t quite get an angle on someone that’s taking pot shots at you? Open up a portal, do a quantum-style leap from another part of the map, and hit them from the other side. It can’t be that hard, right?

At first, Splitgate takes a lot of effort to fully grasp. This isn’t one of those games where you “git gud” by accident. Instead, learn to embrace the physics from jumping through portals and mastering what your weapon has to offer. The way portals open requires you to do a deep bit of thinking as you try to get the jump on your opponents. Considering that they can leap around the map just as much as you can, it becomes tough to really get a bead on them.

The multi-dimensional build of each battle stage goes a long way in Splitgate. Once you get a grasp on what you can do with the portals and platforms, then you can really get things cooking.

Splitgate

The physics within Splitgate work as expected. For instance, if you want to build momentum going into a portal, you can do so by running on the ground. However, the real treat here is opening up a portal after falling off a ledge and opening it up on a new area where you float up onto a platform. This can take a bit to master, precision is everything, but once you do, you’ll find it’s a tactic that works wonderfully here.

Along with getting the jump on opponents offensively, Splitgate can also open them up to give you some defensive purpose. When you get ambushed and need an escape route they can provide a fresh perspective on how to take down your adversaries. A shooter like this depends on quick movement to avoid getting fragged, so you’ll need a few rounds to get into the mechanics and see all the options that are on the table for you. But once you do, you’ll find that you’re in for a treat.

As for the weapons that you can use within Splitgate, they’re the general variety when it comes to what you’d typically find in a shooter. But in no way is that a bad thing. For instance, SMGs and pistols can deliver bullets at a very good range, and there are battle rifles that mix things up rather nicely as well. If you prefer a sniper class, you’ll get that with the power of a railgun that can end someone’s run pretty neatly. Of course, those of you with an explosive touch will certainly make do with the game’s rocket launchers, and that’s just what we’ve discovered from the demo that was available at PAX East last week.

In other words, it takes the arena based experience and puts it into perspective with a neat new tactic. That’s not something that’ll guarantee instant success; we’ve seen innovation in shooters before, only for interest to fall by the wayside in favor of the “next big thing.” But 1047 puts its heart right on its sleeve with the game, and there’s some stuff here that comes together pretty nicely, especially on the creative side of things.

That said, I do hope the recoil gets tweaked a little bit. It doesn’t really feel like your weapons have much heft without it, but keep in mind that the game is still in beta (you can learn more about it on Steam here), and by the time the finished release comes around, we could see all sorts of tweaks to make its play sustainable.

As far as the game’s visuals go, Splitgate runs very smoothly. It utilizes Unreal Engine technology for each of its maps, which means the frame rate is pretty sturdy. But on top of that, the Tron-esque visuals really pop to life, almost to the point that you’ll want to stay in this world a little while longer. The animations can be stiff in some places, but as a whole the game runs very smoothly, based on the multiplayer demos I took part in over the weekend.

Splitgate

Now, one thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that Splitgate wasn’t really built as a massive multiplayer shooter experience. Up to 10 friends can take part in online multiplayer at a time. While that’s not as hefty a count as, say, Battlefield V’s 64-player set-up, it is quite good for an indie-based development.

Not to mention the fact that it can be quite overwhelming when you have a gaggle of players flying all over the place thanks to portal tactics. The lesser player count actually serves as an advantage when it comes to planning tactics, and it allows the game to run at a proper speed without having to worry about all the little animations that are coming together. So far, the game runs pretty smoothly, and we don’t see why 1047 would want to mess with that by adding more players. In this case, the lesser, the merrier.

However, let’s say you’re a solo player and you want to get the hang of the action before you jump through the portal with both feet. Fortunately, Splitgate will have something to offer here. The game will enable you to go up against AI bots if you prefer, letting you master the controls and some of the weapons before attempting to thrust you into the online action. This is a welcome option, mainly because some shooters just don’t provide it. With Battle Royale games, for instance, you have to “live and learn.” That is, if you can live. Here you can tinker around, master your placements and become a lean, mean portal-taking machine.

When you do make your way online, there are various options available. There’s a fun Oddball mode that takes a cue from Rocket League, to add some competitive flair outside the norm. But if you prefer, you can also hop into the usual gamut of match-ups in Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Domination. For those thirsty for an extra special challenge, there’s also a team SWAT based mode in which you’ll fight without armor. Think you’re good? Let’s see just how good you are when you can only take so many hits before going down. Time to put those portal skills to work!

Alas, there’s a catch. For the time being, it looks like Splitgate: Arena Warfare is only heading to Steam/PC at the moment. This could change in the future, depending on the success of the game. I hope it does because something like this would be welcome on the console front, especially for the low-end $20 to $30 price tag that the developers are going for once all is said and done with development later this year. Fingers crossed.

Splitgate

For the time being, however, I like the direction that Splitgate is taking in terms of its gameplay and design. True, the long-term value of the game has yet to be weighed, depending on how the modes hold up and how much content 1047 has in mind for future updates. Currently, it has enough going for it to give it a shot, and there could be additional betas in the future that will allow you to take a test drive with it. Keep tabs on the Steam page above, and we’ll keep you informed once more information becomes available.

In the meantime, who knew that there would be someone that could handle Portals as well as Valve?!

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Play of the Fortnight: The Precarious Future of Overwatch

We’re coming up on the two year anniversary of Overwatch’s launch. No one can deny that its first year was a massive success: the esports scene flourished, Blizzard added new content on a consistent schedule, and we saw people flock to the game even if they had never played shooters before.

However, as we come to the end of the second year, the future of Overwatch seems a little less certain. Updates have slowed, new content is sparse, and we’re wondering where the game is going.

No new Overwatch events

Future of Overwatch - Events

Overwatch events have always been a highlight for players. Whether you play the game the rest of the time or only come back for the event-specific content, there’s always something to do when an event rolls around. However, we haven’t seen a new event in a long time. In fact, Blizzard seems to have happily settled into a schedule with no intentions of doing anything new.

There is something to be said for knowing what to expect. Each year, many players including myself look forward to the Halloween Terror event. Unfortunately, it does feel like the events have got a bit repetitive. While Blizzard adds new skins to each event, and sometimes revamps the game mode or map a little (such as in the Archives or Summer Games examples), it’s getting all too familiar.

With their approach of bringing out an event every few months, on a fairly regular cadence, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough scope to weave any additional events in, either.

Lack of original content

Aside from events, we haven’t actually had anything new in a long time. The hero release schedule has elongated, new maps are infrequent, and even the regular patches seem to be spaced out a lot more than they were before. It feels a bit like Overwatch is in limbo: there’s still fun to be had, but the lack of a clear future is only going to hurt the game in the long run.

Even balance patches have suffered. In the Polygon article “Overwatch feels outdated in the era of Fortnite”, they talk about the meta and how Brigitte went practically unchecked for almost a year (article by Cass Marshall). Multiple balance patches happened, yes, but it took Blizzard a long time to get her to a more reasonable place.

At the beginning, Overwatch felt like a shiny new experience, with new and fun updates coming thick and fast, along with frequent tweaks to heroes and their abilities.. The events were something to look forward to, the story was constantly evolving, and the hero-based FPS gameplay was fresh. Where did they go wrong?

Trying to please too many people

Future of Overwatch - Esports

One of my theories is that Blizzard has spread themselves too thin. The major appeal of Overwatch was that it was a welcoming game for even a casual player. People who don’t normally play FPS games but are fans of Blizzard’s storytelling and world crafting were interested in the game and didn’t feel excluded. The colorful characters, the lore, the fun and not-too-serious gameplay were all major draws.

And then eports happened. Something that, when done well, usually serves to strengthen a game’s place in the gaming world seems to have done nothing more than weaken the one thing that brought so many players to Overwatch in the first place.

Try to please everyone, and you often end up pleasing no one. I worry that this is what is happening in Overwatch at the moment. This raises an interesting question: does every game have to be an esport? And how do you balance a competitive scene with a large but now ever-shrinking casual playerbase?

We need a PvE game mode

Future of Overwatch - PvE Game Mode

I’ve said it before, and this is definitely the hill I am willing to die on: Blizzard needs to bring in a PvE game mode. Junkenstein’s Revenge remains one of the most popular event game modes to date, and it seems strange that they haven’t added a permanent PvE mode already. Another suggestion players have made is a campaign mode, where players could explore the backstory of different heroes.

Ultimately, Blizzard needs to start doing something different. While I’ve talked before about a Battle Royale mode, maybe they need to do more to highlight their strengths rather than succumbing to the current flavour of the month genre. A PvE game mode would do this wonderfully, and would cater more directly to their more casual playerbase, perhaps even drawing some who’ve already left back.

Closing Thoughts

Overwatch isn’t dead, but it has certainly seen a decline in popularity lately. A large part of this impression is due to the fact that we aren’t seeing the game evolve any more. Is Blizzard trying too hard to please too many different types of players?

Blizzard faces a huge challenge in balancing its game for regular players, casual players, and its competitive and esports scenes. Whether or not this will be possible in the long run remains to be seen, but it’s definitely going to be difficult and they’re likely going to continue losing people along the way.

Will Blizzard strike a balance that works for the majority of the community? We’ll see what happens as we enter Overwatch’s third year shortly.

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Play of the Fortnight: 5 Tips for Overwatch Solo Queue

Playing as a team is incredibly important in Overwatch, especially ranked. However, sometimes solo queueing is unavoidable. Solo queue is a daunting experience for many players. What can you do to make your experience as positive as possible? In this Play of the Fortnight, we go through five tips for solo queueing in Overwatch. We’ve included general tips as well as some hero choice advice, so go forth and have a great time in solo queue!

Overwatch Solo Queue

1. Use voice chat for callouts

A lot of players avoid voice chat, especially in solo queue, because they’re shy or worried about toxicity. However, voice chat is key for receiving callouts, and can be useful if you get a player on your team who takes on a leadership role. You don’t have to use your microphone, even just being in voice chat and able to hear callouts makes a huge difference.

If you do feel confident enough to make callouts, voice chat is the easiest and quickest way to do so. Keep the information to a minimum, point out where enemies are and maybe even whether or not you’re pushing or falling back.

That’s not to say that toxicity isn’t an issue. Angry players can be even more difficult to deal with when they have direct and instant access to you through voice. We’ve talked about it before, and voice chat can definitely make a bad situation worse. That leads us into our next tip.

2. Don’t be afraid to use the mute button

In fact, to go further than “don’t be afraid to use the mute button:” use it liberally! There’s nothing worse than trying your best only to have your entire game thrown off by one overly mouthy, frustrated teammate. If your teammate is distracting you and not providing useful information whilst yelling about how Reaper just flanked them, use that mute button.

In fact, encourage your teammates to do the same. I’ve muted people in the past and had my teammates continue to engage with them and it defeats the purpose. The best thing you can do is ask your teammates to ignore or mute the offending person and focus on the game. You can pull it back, but it’s all the more difficult if everyone is focused on the tilted player instead of the game.

Overwatch Solo Queue

3. Pick heroes that allow you to carry

While you can absolutely pick whoever you want, there are certain heroes who will be more useful in a solo queue situation. Zarya, for example, is incredibly strong. Her shields allow you to protect teammates who are out of position whilst simultaneously charging up your own damage. She inflicts a lot of damage for a tank, and can shield herself to get out of harm’s way. On top of that, her ultimate can be an absolute game changer if you’re wise about when you use it. While I wouldn’t advise picking her as a solo tank, she can be fantastic for solo queueing and excellent when supporting another tank.

Moira is a great support to pick as well. She can deal out a lot of damage, has plenty of flexibility, and has an escape that gets her out of the way if her team don’t back her up. Zenyatta is another big game changer, as an accurate player will be devastating, and his utility is also extremely useful.

If you want to be a damage dealer, pick a flanker and practice with them. This one is a bit riskier as it can be easy to get shut down, but if you get good with a flanker you can ruin the enemy team’s day. It’s also worth noting that if the enemy team has someone in the backlines that needs taken out, if you’re playing the flanker you won’t have to rely on teammates you don’t know to do it. If you need something done well, do it yourself!

4. Focus on your own performance

While it may be frustrating when your team are underperforming, you cannot control that. The only performance you have any direct influence over is your own. For that reason, we recommend focusing on your own abilities. There’s always room for improvement, so after each match think about what you could have done better. Was there a mistake you made that you could try not to make in the future?

Obsessing over what your teammates did wrong is not only unhelpful to you, but can make you more frustrated which can directly influence your performance.

Overwatch Solo Queue

5. Finally, stay positive!

Never underestimate the power of staying positive in the face of an anger-inducing match. By this, we don’t mean don’t let a bad game affect you at all. Frankly, that seems impossible. However, if you have had a few losses in a row, take a break. Walk away from your PC or console, get a drink, and take a deep breath before you get back into it.

Repeatedly throwing yourself at the mercy of teammates you have no control over can be a frustrating experience. The more frustrated you get, the more likely you are to perform poorly yourself. Going into your next match with a refreshed mindset can make a huge difference to your performance and the outcome of the match.

Closing Thoughts

Solo queue can be a fun experience, and while challenging, it can be all the more rewarding when you start to see yourself climb. Using voice chat, picking the right heroes, and focusing on your own performance while staying positive are all so important. We hope the tips we’ve suggested above help you have an excellent solo queue experience!

What are some of your favorite ways to have a good time in solo queue? Let us know in the comments below!

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Play of the Fortnight: When Will We Get Overwatch Battle Royale?

In our last Play of the Fortnight, we talked about the potentially precarious future of Overwatch. Members of the community have speculated for some time about game modes Blizzard might release to keep things interesting. With that in mind, when will we get an Overwatch Battle Royale?

In this Play of the Fortnight, we talk about what such a game mode would look like, and whether it’s likely we’ll see it any time soon.

Apex Legends takes the BR genre by storm

Apex Legends, a game by Respawn – the same devs behind Titanfall – has been a delightful surprise to the gaming community. It’s also been repeatedly compared to Overwatch, with heroes who have varying abilities and ultimates. The art style is like a combination between Overwatch and something like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with its Battle Royale mode: Blackout.

It has people wondering: why isn’t there an Overwatch Battle Royale? As it turns out, Blizzard considered the game mode after its soaring popularity just over a year ago. Jeff Kaplan said in an interview with Kotaku, “There’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”

However, Kaplan also went on to say that Overwatch is specifically about its heroes, and that it would be difficult to implement a Battle Royale game with this kind of gameplay. That statement hasn’t aged well, seeing as Apex Legends has done just that. So what is stopping Blizzard from doing the same?

What would need to change for an Overwatch Battle Royale to work?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Maps

There are certainly a few things that do prevent an Overwatch Battle Royale from being a fun experience, though. Blizzard would need to make quite a few changes, the biggest of which is the current maps. All Battle Royales on the market have relatively large maps, giving players options for where to drop and loot. Overwatch simply doesn’t have that style of gameplay yet: the maps are very small, however, Call of Duty is similar. Black Ops 4 has smaller arena style maps for its regular gameplay and a larger one for BR. Blizzard would need to develop a map specifically for the BR game mode, but it would be a step in the right direction.

The Overwatch matchmaking system would also need a few tweaks, as obviously right now it’s geared towards much smaller matches. Overwatch seems like it would make for a better “small” BR. Apex Legends, for example, has 60 players at the beginning as opposed to the usual 100+. Overwatch would benefit from going a similar route.

With Overwatch being a team-based game, it would also be a good idea to take a leaf out of Apex Legends’ book and not have a solo game mode. Whilst it’s somewhat frustrating to need a group of three to play, otherwise being forced into a pick-up, the team dynamic is what makes Apex fun. This goes for Overwatch too; the heroes work well together, but alone they can be frustrating.

How would looting work?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Looting

The big question is how Blizzard would implement looting in a game like Overwatch. Is it necessary for a Battle Royale to be able to loot different weapons and armor? With the way heroes work in Overwatch, and the fact that their weapons are key parts of their kit, it doesn’t really make sense to have different weapons available. Though perhaps there could be upgrades for weapons that drop. Other loot could include armor, with everyone starting with no base armor and items to heal or regenerate shields.

Ultimately, we feel that looting is a fairly core part of the BR genre, but it doesn’t have to be implemented the same way every time. There is room for innovation, which Blizzard has never really shied away from before.

What challenges does Blizzard face for an Overwatch Battle Royale?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Resurrection

The biggest challenge is one mentioned by Kaplan in the Kotaku interview: balance. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters.” This is much, much shorter than engagement distance on a bigger BR map. Would Overwatch even translate well to longer ranges?

Another aspect of balance is that heroes are very specifically balanced for the state of the game currently. This may seem unimportant, but a Battle Royale game mode plays very differently. Blizzard would likely have to consider balancing heroes completely differently for BR and possibly even remove certain heroes from the mode entirely. For example, what purpose does Mercy have? Her range would be very limited and her resurrect would be unnecessary if everyone would be able to lift teammates.

Overwatch Battle Royale as a standalone game

One way to overcome a lot of the challenges Blizzard faces would be a standalone game. Perhaps a limited hero selection pool, one large map with loot spawns, and a separate balance pass would help immensely.

If Blizzard made the BR free-to-play, we’d likely see a rush of players giving it a try. We already know Apex Legends has driven up player numbers for Titanfall 2, so it’d have the added benefit of drawing attention to Overwatch’s main game.

However, this is incredibly risky. If Blizzard adds an Overwatch Battle Royale, regardless of whether it’s a standalone or built into the existing game, and it doesn’t do well it could only harm Overwatch’s popularity further.

Closing Thoughts

We think it’s fairly likely Blizzard is looking into the potential of an Overwatch Battle Royale. They were already thinking about it back when PUBG and Fortnite were the top dogs, but now that Apex Legends has shown a hero-based BR is possible and even incredibly popular, it’d be foolish for Blizzard not to consider the possibilities.

However, there are a few challenges to overcome first. Even so, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an announcement of an Overwatch BR in the coming year, assuming the genre maintains its current popularity.

Would you like to see an Overwatch Battle Royale? Let us know how you think it should work.

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Blacklight: Retribution Shutting Down

After 8 years Blacklight: Retribution is shutting down. The servers will officially shut down on March 11th which means that players will have one more month to enjoy the game. It is specifically the PC version of the game which is shutting down. This is because the PS4 version doesn’t have any game servers that are being hosted for it.

The PS4 version will still be playable but it will no longer be receiving any support. So if something goes wrong that’s the end, there’s nothing that can or will be done.

As for the reason Blacklight: Retribution is being shut down, it would appear that Hardsuit Labs have other projects in development that are at the point where they require the full focus of the development teams. This means that all tech support, updates, and patches for the game must come to an end. What the other projects are isn’t mentioned in the shutdown announcement, but looking around Hardsuit’s site it would appear they’re developing an unannounced single player game using UE4 based on their current job listings.

From now until the game shuts down all items in the PC store are free as is standard. PC account migration has stopped and the official support site has been taken offline. Basically, the game is just seeing out its final days, giving fans one last chance to say goodbye.

Blacklight: Retribution was originally developed by Zombie Studios and published by Perfect World Entertainment. In 2015 the Blacklight team split from Zombie Studios and created Hardsuit Labs while Zombie Studios shut down. In late 2017 Perfect World announced that publishing rights for Blacklight: Retribution had reverted to the developer.

According to Hardsuit’s website, the newly announced project is coming soon. So hopefully we’ll hear more about the game in the near future.

 

Source: Steam

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