Hearthstone Battlegrounds – Brutal Battalion Fun!

Hearthstone has always been a game of pick-up-and-play styled fun. From randomized Tavern Brawls and crazy solo challenges, the game has never taken its playstyles too seriously despite the heavily weighted Championship and World Tournament brackets. Often introducing new off the wall rules through seasonal words, changing the game with combo-building eldritch horrors and interjecting light-hearted tones into dramatic storylines. In line with this theme, the Hearthstone team have injected a new gameplay mode into the versatile online collectible card game. Enter the Battlegrounds, the new free-for-all auto-battler slaughterhouse for commanders and soldiers alike!

The auto-battle has seen a big surge in popularity. Similar endeavours such as Dota Underlord and Teamfight Tactics do just as the name suggests; line up your units and they’ll engage in card-based warfare of their own accord. Crossing cardboard, they’ll attack one after the other until one side no longer has any foes standing. Rooted in the Multiplayer Online Batter Genre, auto-battlers distill the complexity into making plays between massive slugfests. For Card Game veterans, Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds play more like Yu-Gi-Oh! than it’s Magic: The Gathering roots.

Battlegrounds start off at a breakneck pace. Eight players will load into a match, selecting one of two randomly chosen heroes to work with. Some, like Ragnaros, can deal tremendous damage by spending the mode’s currency, while others like Patchwerk have a passive Hero Power. Each round begins with you loading into the Battleground Tavern headed by Bob (who will do something, when asked). There you can spend Gold which is generated once every turn like Mana in regular play, up to a maximum of ten. From there you can pick one of several options.


The first, and most obvious, is buying monsters. Your playing field can hold up to 8 at any time, including summonables. While you can store other cards and monsters in your hand, they won’t be doing anything when they aren’t on the field. You’ll start off with weaker rank 1 monsters, but can upgrade the tavern over time through large sums of Gold. Each rank up will unlock a new pool of additional monsters to draw from, but will not replace those already unlocked. Ergo, the more you unlock the harder it is to find duplicate creatures you may be looking for. And you’ll want to find them.

Assembling three of one card will allow you to create a golden, more powerful variant of the card. While this usually just results in a flat stat increase, it may also increase the power of certain Battlecry abilities. Playing a Golden Card will also net you a token to unlock a random creature from the next available unlocked rank. Giving you a choice between three powerful cards, which are often legendaries, these can rapidly evolve your gameplay and are worth cherry picking certain creatures. One must be careful about choosing which cards to play, as your board can fill up fast.

Like the main gameplay modes, your Battleground board has a limit to how many creatures you can play at one time. Unlike the main game, however, that cap is set at roughly 8 total creatures. This includes any additional minions your cards might summon, but fear not. You can certainly clear up the board by assembling a Golden Variant, but you can also sell cards in play to Bob while you’re at the tavern for one gold each. This, on top of the 10 gold maximum cap, stops you from buying and selling minions until you have the MOST optimal field, encouraging salvaging smart moves from what is available. Sacrificing is key to optimizing what you have.


During your preparation phase, you’ll set up your board by purchasing minions to add to your hand. If you don’t like what Bob offers, you can refresh his recruiting page for a nominal fee to improve your chances, or freeze what he’s offering to purchase after your next battle when your gold resets. Playing minions from you hand will allow you to sort out their placement on the board, as well as manage their on-summon abilities. Creatures with Battlecry, for example, will not use their ability when the next battle phase begins but when you play them during your preparation time.

After your board is set (or the timer runs out) you’ll be ushered into a Combat Phase. After randomly selecting your opponent, your two teams will duke it out against each other following Hearthstone’s traditional rules. Unlike other auto-battlers, however, the Azerothian AI is a bit smarter, striking your opponent’s row from their left to right. After a brutal gladiatorial combat session, those whose minions have survived will deal a certain amount of damage. Starting with the rank of your tavern as base damage, they then add the value of their minions ranks together to calculate how much damage they’ll do to your hero. Losing all of your minions to three Rank 1 minions hurts quite a bit less knowing they will only deal 4 damage, but knowing that player has a rank 5 inn can be devastating to your play.


Unlike Ranked or Competitive Play, the Battlegrounds aren’t meant to be completely competitive despite their full-frontal rating on its main menu. After playing a few games myself, it’s hard to see how it really could be; there’s simply too much luck and random number generation to consistently take home massive wins, let alone place within the top half of your game. There are roughly 10 heroes to choose from in the game mode, and every currently allowed card in Hearthstone seems to be up for grabs when you visit Bob’s inn!

There is, however, a sense of progression in the Battlegrounds though it’s currently locked behind a pseudo-paywall. Successive wins and participating in the system will unlock more options and flexibility in your playthroughs. Winning just one event will allow you to pick from one of three heroes instead of two, with additional brackets making future runs easier. Unlocking this progression system requires purchasing a pack from Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion: Descent of Dragons. With Battlegrounds in Open Beta and this in effect, its safe to say this will find its footing and a live release on December 10th alongside the newest adventure for Azeroth’s eccentric heroes.

The post Hearthstone Battlegrounds – Brutal Battalion Fun! appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Australian Ratings Board Refuses to Rate DayZ

The Australian Ratings Board refuses to rate DayZ saying that the game has been refused classification because it depicts a variety of adult themes that might offend some players.

The official explanation reads, “[The game has been refused classification because it] deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.”

Why Steam Can Be a Terrible Thing For MMO Players - DayZ

These sorts of issues aren’t uncommon with the Australian Ratings Board. In recent years we’ve seen this happen with We Happy Few and Saints Row IV.. What makes this one different however is that DayZ has previously been approved multiple times.

It would seem that the issue stems from the planned physical edition of the game. Though really, how those differ is really anyone’s guess. However, State of Decay was also refused classification because of the game’s use of drugs to restore health. In DayZ you use morphine to restore health. To make matters even more confusing DayZ is still available for purchase in Australia, digital only though. Does this mean that DayZ will be removed from digital platforms in Australia? At the moment no, but that could change.

So far Bohemia Interactive and Five Star Games, the company that filed the classification request, have not made any statements about the refusal or what they will do next. But we will be keeping an eye out for those statements and update this post as soon as they’re released.

 

Source: Games Industry

The post Australian Ratings Board Refuses to Rate DayZ appeared first on MMOGames.com.

WoW Wednesday: The Gatekeeping of the End Game

World of Warcraft is a deceptively easy game to pick up and play. Despite all of its issues in pacing and progression throughout the leveling experience just about every single class is intuitive enough in Battle for Azeroth to quickly grasp. I myself can personally attest to that fact; despite maining a Priest for most of BFA, I’ve recently made the transition to a Hunter alt that I’m enjoying and slowly polishing my skills with. While I’m certainly nowhere near ready to begin pushing the arena rating I want with it, I’m more than prepared to start hitting for the lower aspects of the ladders. However, even with more skilled characters players can often find themselves facing down particular situations in Warcraft that can slow if not bar their progress in the end-game entirely. Gatekeeping is a problem in WoW.

Now what is gatekeeping? Gatekeeping is a method identified as barring or controlling people from participating in or using certain things. In Warcraft this occurs primarily in two major streams of the endgame both in Mythic and Heroic raiding, but also predominantly in Rated Player vs. Player content.

Why does gatekeeping occur? For one simple reason: content is hard.


In the Raiding scene Mythic (or Cutting Edge) raiding is the most mechanically difficult content in
World of Warcraft. A perfect example of the intensity raiders have to mitigate can be witnessed in the Gul’dan encounter in Mythic Nighthold from Legion. The encounter begins with Gul’dan’s fully powered-up state from previous difficulties at the beginning of the fight, further increasing already high damage numbers due to difficulty. Gul’dan then empowers himself to a further state over the course of the battle including a move that can instantly kill players during a phase transition at 66% health. After his defeat, the fight then continues with a unique encounter against a new boss enemy, with new abilities and difficult mechanics. All of this falls on top of increased boss health, enemy mobs spawning in, increased damage percentiles and people managing 20-man groups to pull off the encounter flawlessly.

It’s not hard to see why players involved in raiding want to settle for their best teams possible. This form of self-curation has existed since Vanilla Warcraft, where players could become both famous and infamous within their server community. Later during Wrath Gearscore became the mark that players measured each other’s skill level, as most classes were incredibly gear dependent to a certain extent. Up until Battle for Azeroth with the release of Raider.IO, item level became the big determining factor for player recruitment.

Rated Player Vs. Player content features similar issues across the board due to its reward systems and tiers. In Battle for Azeroth rewards are now gameplay oriented, however, throughout RPvP’s history impressive cosmetic rewards have been synonymous with elite status. Those rewards are tied directly to your Rating, a publicly viewable score that actively adjusts based on your performance. Your personal rating will go up and down as you win matches, increasing and decreasing at a higher rate depending on who you participate with. If you win games with players with a higher rating, yours will skyrocket. If you lose matches while playing with those who have a lower rating than yours, it will plummet.


As such, players naturally only want to compete and play with those of a similar rating and perceived skill level. Some will only want to play with particular, guaranteed proven compositions of classes. With RPvP rewards being restricted to the highest echelons of players, of course others only want to compete with the best of the best. At any moment you could find yourself on a losing streak and your rating could drop between fifty points or five-hundred points depending on your partners’ placement.


Thus comes an incumbent problem with these aspirations of the end-game. Whether you want to be the Gladiator or the killer of Mythic Jaina, players naturally only want to work with those on their skill level to minimize their wasted time. As such, the bar is set high to disqualify those without either the experience in completing lesser difficulties or the equipment and higher gear on their character. Some face fewer issues depending on their server population, some higher. Being based on an RP server, we have one super-sized PvP guild and as such I need to form pick-up-groups if I wish to progress in Rated Battlegrounds. A personal friend based on a PvP oriented realm faces a similar issue with only a handful of raiding guilds and none forming any additional teams.

As such, here’s where we find the problem with gatekeeping magnified. Is gatekeeping inherently wrong? Absolutely not. As a current player in the RPvP circuit, forced exclusivity has forced me to play better in compositions and learn as much as I can. Certainly, I just lost 20 rating with a bad team but now I can recognize the differences between a very good Rogue and a very bad one. Of course, my friend lost a night raiding a Mythic PuG and wiping on the first boss, but now they recognize what really doesn’t make a good raid leader. Failing is as good a teaching tool as playing beside higher-level competitors. Is it frustrating to want progression and effectively take three huge steps backwards? Absolutely.


So what is the solution to this issue, at least in the World of Warcraft? Surely its to get a team of your own together, and on the surface this is a good solution. However, for higher player content, such as Rated Battlegrounds and Mythic Raiding, this becomes innately more difficult. It’s a simple task to rally a few friends for Arenas, despite the fact that high-level rewards are now only afforded to top-tier 3v3 players. However, the often more expansive and broader gameplay is instead even more difficult to breach into due to sheer numbers. Cultivating a cohesive team in the long term is a task that most players simply do not have the time to engage with, nor the skillset to maintain.

 

So here’s my question to you: Gatekeeping seems to be a necessary part of culling the chaff from the wheat. But when that chaff is really some of the most eager and healthiest bushels of the plant, where do we as players have to go against our gut and give people a better chance?

The post WoW Wednesday: The Gatekeeping of the End Game appeared first on MMOGames.com.