Astellia Announced as New ‘AAA’ MMORPG

Every time we think that we’ve heard the last of AAA MMORPGs another one gets announced. The latest is Astellia, being created by Studio 8 and published by Barunson E&A. The game is currently in open beta in Korea, being run and developed by Studio 8 and Nexon. Here in the West they have several beta events planned before they plan to launch later this year.

Astellia MMORPG

Westley Conner, the Producer of Astellia at Barunson has said this about the game in the press release announcing the game, “We know the fear that so many MMOs wind up as Pay-2-Win in this genre, and we’re committed to making sure that Astellia never veers in that direction. Instead, we’re all about Play-to-Win, and we can’t wait to explain how at PAX South.” Yes indeed, they will be at PAX South where players will be able to their hands on the game. They’ll also be hosting a panel which will be livestreamed on Sunday, January 20th at 12:30 Eastern in which they plan to reveal more details about the game.

Astellia MMORPG

As for what we know so far…well, here’s a list of features they provided:

  • The Astell Companion System
  • Dozens of Astels to acquire, level, and build effective support teams that can combo directly with your character based on classes and skills.
  • Customizable Skills & Combos
  • Player Skills have various facets that can be upgraded for different results; reduce cooldown, improved accuracy, increased damage etc etc
  • Holy Trinity Class System
  • 5 Unique Classes that each serve a purpose; Warrior, Ranger, Assassin, Scholar, Mage
  • Robust Dungeon System
  • Solo Dungeons
  • Group Dungeon
  • Scaling Dungeon Difficulty Levels
  • PVP Arenas
  • Competitive Arena between Players
  • Solo & Group Versions
  • PVE Arenas
  • Horde Mode Content
  • Solo & Group Versions
  • Large Scale PvPvE Content
  • Avalon is a persistent Tri-Faction Map where players vie for dominance each week.
  • In-depth & Rewarding Crafting System

 

It’s exciting to have a new MMORPG to add to our watch list. Check out the trailer below and let us know in the comments if you’re interested too.

Source: Press Release

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Heroes of the Storm Reworks Stitches and Sylvanas

It’s time for another set of character reworks for Heroes of the Storm. This time around, it will be two of the first characters introduced in the game: Stitches and Sylvanas. In addition to the hero updates, changes to experience gain, catapults, and armor will be making their way to the Nexus.

Heroes of the Storm

Stitches has been a core tank in Heroes of the Storm since its inception, but his talent tree has been lacking for quite some time. In this update, he’s receiving more of a facelift than a complete rework. The range of his Hook ability is being slightly reduced but additional talents are being added for it, and Slam is receiving the slow effect as a baseline to the ability. Additionally, his passive now applies Vile Gas to enemies attacked instead of releasing it after receiving damage.

On the other hand, Sylvanas is receiving a couple of core gameplay changes, which likely stem from the reduced significance of lane pushing because of the previous updates to tower ammo and now experience gains. First off, Withering Fire now expends all five arrows at once instead of building up charges. Her passive is now an active ability that lasts 10 seconds and stuns all minions, mercenaries, and structures for 3 seconds but it has a 40-second cooldown. Additionally, basic attacks infect enemies with Banshee’s Curse for 3 seconds and heroes with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse receive 25 percent bonus damage from Sylvanas. Finally, Mind Control is now a skill shot ability that forces the first enemy hero hit to walk towards Sylvanas while being silenced and slowed.

Heroes of the Storm 2019 updates

The rest of the changes were outlined in the 2019 gameplay update blog, but here is a quick overview. Forts and Keeps will no longer provide experience while tower experience has been decreased by 50 percent and passive experience increased by 15 percent. Destroying a fort will now spawn a catapult every third minion wave, killing enemy mercenaries will reward 100 percent additional experience, and armor will no longer stack with only the highest armor modifier being applied to heroes.

Additionally, a new toy-themed event will take place just in time for the holidays, which will include a slew of new mounts and skins.

Heroes of the Storm

 

Source: Blizzard Entertainment

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Sally Whitemane Enters the Nexus

Just a week after her official announcement, High Inquisitor Sally Whitemane has been released on the official Heroes of the Storm client. Whitemane is a support character that focuses on healing allies by damaging enemy heroes.

sally whitemane hots

 

Sally Whitemane is a World of Warcraft character that players encounter as the final boss in the Scarlet Monastery. Her famous “Arise my champion!” quote takes place as she resurrects Commander Durand during the final encounter in the dungeon. A comprehensive list of Whitemane’s talents, abilities, and traits can be found here.

heroes of the storm viper skins

In addition to the release of Whitemane, new cosmetics have been added to Heroes of the Storm. Ana, Genji, and Stukov have received Viper-themed skins alongside of the Viper Domination Mount. There are also new epic and rare skins for Muradin, Chen, Chromie, Lunara, and Murky. If you want all of the Viper skins at a discount, the Bow Before Viper Bundle is available along with packs for each specific hero.

Our Thoughts

Even though High Inquisitor Whitemane played a relatively small role in World of Warcraft, it’s always nice to see a new support character, especially one that offers a different play style than simply “heal the damaged heroes.” Oh, and the new skins look great as well.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment

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High Inquisitor Whitemane Joins Heroes of the Storm PTR

After being forced to destroy her parents after they turned into minions of the Scourge, Sally Whitemane has found comfort in nothing else besides cleansing the undead. Heroes of the Storm players are now one step closer to reliving their experiences in the Scarlet Monastery with the introduction of High Inquisitor Whitemane to the PTR. Whitemane is a support who specializes in healing characters by damaging enemy heroes.

Sally Whitemane Heroes of the Storm

 

Below you can find a list of her abilities and traits:

Trait:

  • Zeal: Whitemane’s Healing abilities apply Zeal for 8 seconds. Allies with Zeal are healed for 100% of the damage Whitemane deals to Heroes.

Abilities:

  • Desperate Plea (Q): Heal an allied Hero for 145 and gain Desperation for 4 seconds. Desperation increases Desperate Plea’s Mana cost by 60 and stacks up to 3 times. Mana: 30. Cooldown: 0.3 seconds.
  • Inquisition (W): Channel on an enemy Hero for up to 3 seconds, dealing 53 damage every 0.5 seconds and slowing them by 30%. Cooldown: 14 seconds.
  • Searing Lash (E): After 0.5 seconds, smite enemies in a straight line for 82 damage. If the first strike hits an enemy Hero, a second strike will occur after a short delay. Cooldown: 5 seconds.
  • Scarlet Aegis (R1): Bolster the spirits of nearby allied Heroes, healing them for 250 and granting them 40 Armor for 4 seconds. Cooldown: 60 seconds.
  • Divine Reckoning (R2): After a 1 second delay, consecrate an area for 4 seconds, dealing 50 damage every 0.5 seconds to enemies in the area. Cooldown: 100.

Tier 1 Talents:

  • [Q] Martyrdom: Each stack of Desperation increases Desperate Plea’s healing by 30%.
  • [W] Clemency: Activate to cast Inquisition on an allied Hero, healing them for up to 371 over 3 seconds while Channeling. Passive: Reduce Inquisition’s cooldown by 3 seconds.
  • [E] Righteous Flame: Searing Lash deals 50% more damage to enemies who are Stunned, Rooted, Silenced or Slowed.
  • Pity the Frail: Allies below 50% Health receive 25% more healing from Zeal.

Tier 4:

  • [Q] Unwavering Faith: Reduce Desperate Plea’s Mana cost by 30. Upon reaching 3 stacks of Desperation, gain a 250 Shield for 5 seconds.
  • [W] High Inquisitor: Casting Inquisition instantly removes all stacks of Desperation and restores 60 Mana per stack removed.
  • [E] Indulgence: Searing Lash’s first strike restores 10 Mana per Hero hit, and its second strike restores 30 Mana per Hero hit.

Tier 7:

  • [Q] Zealous Spirit: Upon reaching 2 stacks of Desperation, Whitemane gains Zeal.
  • Fanatical Power: Activate to gain 50% Spell Power and lose 25 Armor for 5 seconds. Cooldown: 30 seconds.
  • Intercession: Activate to make an ally Unstoppable for 1 second and gain 1 stack of Desperation. Cooldown: 60 Seconds.

Tier 13:

  • [Q] Self-Righteous: Casting Desperate Plea on an ally heals Whitemane for 125. Does not grant Zeal.
  • [E] Harsh Discipline: Hitting a Hero with Searing Lash while they are being targeted by Inquisition Roots them for 1.5 seconds.
  • Guiding Light: Whenever Zeal is applied to allies other than Whitemane, it grants them 20% Movement Speed for 2 seconds.

Tier 16:

  • [Q] Radiance: Upon reaching 3 stacks of Desperation, all allies with Zeal are healed for 200.
  • [W] Searing Punishment: Upon casting, Inquisition can chain to an additional enemy Hero near its target, dealing 35 damage every 0.5 seconds.
  • [E] Lashing Out: Searing Lash’s second strike deals 25% more damage and reduces Searing Lash’s cooldown to 1 second if it hits a Hero.

Tier 20:

  • [R1] Scarlet Crusade: Scarlet Aegis heals for 50% more and makes affected allies Unstoppable for 1 second.
  • [R2] Judgement Day: Divine Reckoning deals 50% more damage and pulls enemies to its center the first time it hits them.
  • Subjugation: Inquisition reduces all damage the target deals by 75%.
  • Purge the Wicked: Activate to blast an enemy Hero with holy fire, reducing their Armor by 25 and dealing 300 damage over 4 seconds.

 

Our Thoughts

Initially, Whitemane’s abilities looked a little lackluster, but her talents synergize well to create an interesting kit. Unfortunately, it seems like the best talent choices enhance her healing directly instead of focusing on increasing her damage. Furthermore, the Scarlet Aegis Heroic ability combined with Guiding Light and Scarlet Crusade looks to be strong enough to single-handedly turn around a team fight, and it only has a 60-second cooldown. On the other hand, Divine Reckoning looks like a weaker version of Starfall (without the slow), but it might be strong enough to provide decent healing when multiple teammates have Zeal.

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2018’s Biggest News Stories So Far

As I, personally, hide inside from the day star trying to turn me into ash because I hate summer, I’ve decided to take a look back at the biggest news stories of 2018 up to this point. As the guy whose job is to specifically follow said news, I think it’s high time I join in on the whole retrospective at the middle of the year thing that likes to happen on this site around this time.

Everyone Goes Battle Royale Crazy

Though H1Z1 was, arguably, the game that started the fire, PUBG was Prometheus stealing that fire and handing it out to the entirety of multiplayer gaming. The greatest of these games has certainly been Fortnite, which had an explosive debut late 2017 and whose stock just keeps on rising even to this day.

In between the tug-of-war between PUBG and Fortnite – which has included mobile releases and no shortage of courtroom drama – other games decided to leap on the freshly-built bandwagon. From Trove to Paladins, Dota 2 to Battlerite, we saw the sub-genre erupt in standalone games and modes.

Of course, it didn’t all end in smiles; case in point, Radical Heights, whose underwhelming performance combined with the faltering of team-based FPS LawBreakers joined forces to see Boss Key Productions shut down.

Daybreak Games Tries to Rewrite History

For about two weeks in April, the MMO world bore witness to easily one of the most confounding events. The Russian oligarch owner of company Columbus Nova, which was communicated for a long time to be the owners of MMO publisher Daybreak Games, was found to be part of an investigation by the FBI into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. That would be staggering enough, but Daybreak’s response was even weirder, saying in statements that Columbus Nova was never an owner of Daybreak and merely forgot to update press releases and communications.

Thus began an avalanche of developments. Numerous layoffs overtook the company, H1Z1’s arrival on PS4 almost appeared to be in jeopardy, and connections to the greater political story appeared to tighten further. There were even rumors that Intrepid Studios would buy up Daybreak – rumors that, so far, have borne no fruit.

For now, Daybreak Games’ strategy of keeping its head down and waiting for things to blow over appears to have worked and the MMOs under the publisher’s umbrella look to be pretty much safe. Still, it has wounded trust in the company. In myself, at least.

Loot Boxes in the News

While pushback against loot box practices were definitely part of a lot of 2017, 2018 saw a pretty big number of advancements in favor of those who call loot boxes gambling. It started in February when Sweden and Germany began to join other countries in investigating whether the monetization scheme violated existing gambling rules, while Hawaii’s Chris Lee continued his own crusade.

Later, the Dutch gaming authority ruled that loot boxes are gambling and Belgium drew a line in the sand. The gains against loot boxes didn’t end there; pressure from US lawmakers prompted the ESRB to adjust its tune slightly by releasing a label system that flags games with loot boxes.

That said, there’s plenty of folks who still feel that loot boxes aren’t the villainy many see. Notably, the president of the Entertainment Software Association offered his own two cents during a games conference. and Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime has even spoken in favor of the practice.

Esports Growth Marches On

Numerically speaking, esports continues to be big business and that story has certainly been part of 2018. In the interim, at least; it appears that the “normalcy” of esports being a huge thing seems to be par for the course now.

Certainly a lot of that is thanks to things like the Overwatch League, which came storming out of the gate and pressed on to be one of the most popular and most legitimate esporting events since The International.

It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be losing steam despite the assumptions of many that the bubble’s walls are getting thin. One of the largest pushes in the favor of more esports was Epic Games’ massive investment in making Fortnite Battle Royale a competitive event on par with the biggest games in esports. As someone who likes to watch these games way more than play them, I’m definitely all for this growth.

Crowdfunding Games Hold Steady

While Star Citizen’s endlessly ballooning crowdfunding costs still stands as the effigy for which to burn the practice, crowdfunded MMOs have not only held their ground but have seen some very steady advancements. Games like Shroud of the Avatar went live and Albion Online has pressed on after its 2017 launch with new updates and expansion into Steam.

There are also lots of other in-development MMOs that keep on keepin’ on. Among the most notable are Ashes of Creation, Rend, and Crowfall, who have had updates that have heartened my heart as someone who backed a couple of MMOs that ended up not being for me. In addition, new games of interest continue to arrive in the crowdfunding space like creature battler Temtem, whose own Kickstarter has absolutely skyrocketed.

 

As for the rest of the news, there’s plenty of other stories one can look back at: Destiny 2’s insistence on repeating history; the breathless arrival of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth; console MMOs making waves like TERA; the bellyflop (and hopeful recovery) of Bless Online; and sequel MMOs that raise interest like The Division 2 and Defiance 2050. All in all, it’s been a bang-up 2018 and I’m eager to see what’s next.

I’d also love to hear from you. What was one of your biggest news developments in 2018 thus far? Feel free to talk with us about any developments in this wild and wacky multiplayer genre of ours in the comments below. Until then, I hope to see you in the News section of the site.

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MapleStory 2 Closed Beta 2 Announced

It’s time for the sequel that no one was expecting… the second MapleStory 2 closed beta. While many MapleStory fans were expecting an Open Beta to be the next announcement for the upcoming Western release of the sequel, it seems that Nexon needs a bit more time to hammer out its servers.

Maplestory 2 closed beta 2

 

The announcement from Nexon was also more a teaser than an official statement about the MapleStory 2 closed beta as well because it hasn’t announcement an official date yet. Only to “keep checking our social pages and website for the start date.” Apparently Nexon identified some potential issues with server stability during the last Closed Beta test and they want to double the population for the upcoming stress test to make sure things are ready for launch, Open Beta, or Early Access (whichever title they decide to give it).

Nexon also revealed that players will be able to obtain access to the Closed Beta 2 via Founder Pack purchases, but keys can also be obtained through website sign ups and other giveaways or contests. The development team has also stated that they will be taking player feedback into consideration from the first Closed Beta and will continue to gather feedback to improve the gameplay experience and server stability.

An official blog post is expected to pop up shortly with more details including the roadmap to release for MapleStory 2.

 

Our Thoughts

Based on the last few MMO releases in the West, we feel it’s definitely better to make sure the servers are ready and the final product is polished enough to create a quality experience. There’s nothing more frustrating than poor optimization and servers that can’t handle a healthy population.

Source: Nexon

Articles Related to This Story

Battle Royale Mode is Coming to MapleStory 2
MapleStory 2 Western Launch Confirmed

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Bless Online Adding 70 vs 70 Siege of Castra

It was announced today that the next major update to Bless Online will feature a 70 vs 70 PvP mode. Siege of Castra will be a three-lane battleground with the Purifying Tree being the main contention point in the middle of the map.

Bless Online siege of castra

 

Once players reach level 25 they will be able to access the Siege of Castra through the System Menu under the War option. Each battle will last approximately 30 minutes and victory is claimed by slaying the enemy team’s commander. If neither commander is killed then the match will end in a tie.

The battleground is broken down into three lanes: right, left, and middle. The Middle Road is home to the Purifying Tree and taking control of it will release a Vindictive Spirit that will attack the enemy’s base. If a team claims the Purifying tree then a Guardian Stone will appear in the right or left lane for the opposing team. Taking out the Guardian Stone will also cause the Vindictive Spirit to disappear. Additionally, each base has 4 mobile artillery units in front of the faction’s headquarters.

Bless Online siege of castra map

Rewards for Siege of Castra are determined by the outcome, player activity points, and medals earned. A victory will reward 400 Combat Points and 100 Quest Performance Points while a tie or defeat will award 150 Combat Points and 35 Quest Performance Points. Completing the Siege of Castra Quest will award 700 Combat Points and 30 Crystallized Magical Power.

The release date for Siege of Castra has yet to be determined.

 

Our Thoughts

Despite the rocky start that Bless Online has had, it’s clear that the developers are dedicated to adding new content to the game. We still think the game was released a bit prematurely, and hopefully it will feel like a fully functioning MMORPG within a few months.

Source: Steam

Articles Related to Bless Online

Bless Online Early Access Preview
Bless Online to Address Nerfing Added in v1.0.0.4
Bless Online Adds a 15v15 PvP Battleground

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GoFundMe Setup in Memory of John “TotalBiscuit” Bain

As many of you have probably heard already, video game critic and internet personality John “TotalBiscuit” Bain passed away yesterday after years of battling bowel cancer. In order to help ease the financial stress for his wife and son during this difficult transition, family friend David Sievers has created a GoFundMe page.

John totalbiscuit Bain

Bain was highly outspoken in his commentary, and managed to ruffle more than a few feathers, but at the end of the day his goal was always to improve the video game industry. He was mainly known for his ‘WTF is…’ series where he gave a quick overview of newly released games, the Co-Optional Podcast where he discussed games with other influences, such as Jesse Cox and Dodger (PressHeartToContinue), and his World of Warcraft radio station.

Some would argue that the most significant impact he had on the gaming industry involved his criticism of unethical behavior, such as deals between publishers and media, loot boxes, and preferential treatment for positive reviews. However, he was also a major proponent for indie developers and often had the power to influence a game’s success (that might not have otherwise found its way to the masses).

In 2014, a precancerous mass was found in TotalBiscuit’s colon and chemotherapy treatments began soon after. The next year, the cancer had seemingly gone into remissions, but later it was discovered that the cancer had instead metastasized into his liver. On May 24, 2018, Genna Bain announced the death of her husband.

Family friend, David Sievers, has since setup a GoFunMe to help alleviate some of the financial burden on the family. For those who might not be aware, medical insurance, retirement plans and pensions are a rarity in the game journalism industry, and even with TotalBiscuit’s fame, fighting cancer is a costly endeavor. If you’re uncomfortable with donating, you can still support the family through the TotalBiscuit merchandise store or by simply watching old content on the official YouTube channel.

 

Our Thoughts

The loss of John Bain is very personal for me. He was, and still is, one of the very few YouTube personalities I ever truly connected with. His videos gave me something to look forward to during my deployment to Afghanistan, and he inspired me to get involved with the video game industry. I’ve tried to mirror his push for ethics in my own career, but I feel his standards are something I could only hope to live up to.

The industry is far worse off without you, and you will be sorely missed. My condolences go out to Genna and Orion.

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Boss Key Productions Closes its Doors

Earlier today, Cliff Bleszinski announced on Twitter that Boss Key Productions will be shutting down after LawBreakers failed to live up to expectations. The studio’s recent take on the Battle Royale genre, Radical Heights, was a last-ditch effort to save the studio that was ‘too little too late,’ according to Bleszinksi.

Cliff B Boss Key Productions Closes

 

Boss Key Productions is best known for the hero shooter LawBreakers that was a massive flop in terms of popularity. While the game had good production value, there were never more than a few thousand concurrent users and it had less than 100 peak players three months after its release in August, 2017.

Although more popular than LawBreakers, Radical Heights was still in ‘extreme early access,’ it received mixed reviews and was free-to-play. It also followed the same trend as LawBreakers by trying to chase another saturated genre that’s currently dominated by PUBG and Fortnite.

Cliff Bleszinksi stated that he will be taking some time off to reflect but hopes to eventually return to the industry to make games again.

 

Our Thoughts

Having personally played LawBreakers, it wasn’t a bad game, but it tried to enter the tail end of the ‘hero shooter’ phenomenon. Most fans of the genre had already solidified their games of choice by then, mostly dominated by Overwatch and Paladins, and having an upfront cost made it more difficult to give LawBreakers a chance. It’s rather surprising that LawBreakers didn’t attempt to go free-to-play before Boss Key decided to shutdown.

Source: Twitter

Articles Related to Boss Key Productions

Nexon is Writing Off LawBreakers
LawBreakers Concurrent Player Count Hits New Lows
Cliff Bleszinski Teases a Possible Radical Heights Xbox One

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North America to Receive Updated Black Desert Servers

Today, Kakao Games announced that Black Desert Online will be switching service providers to Level 3 Communications on April 25, 2018.

black desert servers

 

Typically, the service provider that an MMORPG utilizes is of little concern to its users, but the North American player base of Black Desert Online has been asking for a change since the game’s launch back in 2016. It seems that their requests have finally been acknowledged, and BDO will switch from LeaseWeb to Level 3 Communications at the end of April.

The change is expected to take place on April 25 during a 10-hour maintenance, however, there is always the possibility of delays or an extended maintenance period. Kakao made the following statement:

“Our goal is to increase the overall connection stability experienced by players for both Europe and North America regions. Measures were taken with the North America servers due to the inordinately high number of incidents causing disruptions to our service. We intend to apply further measures in the future in a manner that permits our team sufficient time to monitor and analyze the effects of these changes.”

Our Thoughts

We’re ecstatic about this news as an update to the BDO servers was one of the most frequent requests among players on forums and in-game. LeaseWeb has earned a fairly poor reputation among hosting services, and so far it seems like Level 3 Communications is going to be a tangible improvement. We just hope the transition is smooth and players receive a better overall experience.

Source. Kakao

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