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Blizzcon 2017 Round up

So Blizzcon is coming to a close once again, and our favourite developer hasn’t disappointed despite not having a whole new game to show off. So what did they have for us?

Warcraft

First up, it’s probably strange to most that the big news for Warcraft wasn’t the new expansion. Battle for Azeroth is the latest in a long line of expansion for the ever-popular MMO, but perhaps the fatigue is starting to set in and now news of a new pack is more like the start of a new season rather than something to really get excited for. That being said, we usually find the first few weeks of a new expansion to be the most fun while people actually get to explore and try new things out. Battle for Azeroth focuses on the war between the Horde and Alliance, taking place in whole new continents called Kul Tiras and Zandalar. It features new enemy types, a new level cap, dungeons, raids, new islands that looks like little procedural dungeons, 6 new allied races (new create-a-character options unlock once you have recruited those races in the story) but these are mostly variations of existing races, and a whole new levelling system that means you can choose from a lot more zones to level up. So now when you get to level 57 you don’t have to go Outland, you can head on straight to Northrend if you’d prefer and level up there instead.

Overall, it’s pretty standard for an expansion with nothing as exciting as a new class, but it seems to be setting up for what might become the real endgame of WoW, the war between Alliance and Horde. We wouldn’t be too surprised to see Blizzard abandon the expansion pack model after this one, instead supporting the game through content patches until they eventually move on to whatever will come next.

The big news for World of Warcraft was the announcement of official support for the vanilla version of World of Warcraft. We don’t have a timeline yet, but Blizzard will be making the original game available, complete with ammo counts, 40-man raids, having to walk to dungeons, LFG chat, and consumables for literally everything anyone ever wants to do. Seriously, if you didn’t play World of Warcraft before TBC, you might have a shock coming as to how hard and time-consuming the game used to be.

Starcraft

Starcraft’s surprise announcement was that the game is going free-to-play. Soon Starcraft 2’s multiplayer and Wings of Liberty Campaign will be entirely free, with the game being supported through micro-transactions connected to the popular co-op mode. The game is getting plenty of balance updates and more content for c-op mode too in order to keep the older players interested while the (hopefully) huge influx of new players find their feet. This could be a way to ensure the competitive scene stays alive by removing the barrier to entry for more casual players. As big fans of WCS, we’re hoping this works out well for them.

Heroes of the Storm

As expected, Heroes of the Storm is getting two new characters, with Overwatch’s Hanzo and the dragonflight’s Alextrasza joining the Nexus. We always want more dragons but couldn’t be more indifferent about Hanzo. He’s dull in Overwatch and he’ll be dull in Heroes, I can’t see what they could possibly do to differentiate his skillset from the other DPS assassins. Maybe Blizz will surprise me!

Other than that there’s not a lot new coming for Heroes, but considering the steady flow of content we’ve had over the year it’s hard to complain!

Overwatch

Overwatch is getting a new hero (of course) along with a brand new map set in Blizzard-style theme park. As massive theme park nerds we’re probably more excited about the map (and dreaming of it becoming real) but Moira (the new character) is fairly interesting too as a kind of shadow healer who can kick out a lot of damage while healing at the same time. Currently she looks like a Mercy who can also kill everyone, which sounds horrifically overpowered. Blizzard even joked about this, saying you spell her name ‘OP AF’ – but we’ll have to see what they can do to balance her or buff the other supports to fall in line. If you are having a hard time ranking up in overwatch then check out this Overwatch rank boosting.

Hearthstone

It feels like there’s something new every month for the insanely popular card game, but Hearthstone is getting another expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs, that’s themed around the idea of a choose-your-own adventure game. Everyone can get in on the fun with a free card out now and a quest coming later in the month.

 

And that’s your lot for this year! Sadly there was no news of Diablo 4 or any new titles like the rumoured Warcraft 4, but for the games you know and love there’s plenty to keep you occupied. We’ll be following the updates to Heroes of the Storm closely and potentially World of Warcraft if they can convince us to sign up (again)!

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Diablo 3 – Rise of the Necromancer Released

Today Blizzard has released another update to Diablo 3, reintroducing the Necromancer class from Diablo 2 into the mix. The pack costs £12.99 and comes with a few little extras like 2 more vault tabs, a pet, a sigil, a banner, some wings, etc.

Obviously the main attraction is the new class and we’ll be streaming some Necromancer gameplay tonight to try it all out! Read the full press release below:

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Blizzcon 2016 Updates

We’ve got our Virtual Ticket so we’re going to be following all fo the news and updates from Blizzcon, especially news for our favourite games Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Keep stopping buy to see our thoughts and opinions as the show progresses over the next two days!

Opening Ceremony: November 4th 6pm GMT

 

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Diablo 3 Console Review (Xbox 360)

Blizzard consoling themselves over the failure of the Auction House

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Diablo 3 originally came out on PC May 15, 2012 and we gave it a respectable 8/10. Changing up the classic Diablo formula to include a player-run auction house and end-game difficulties that flitted between impossible and a piece of cake depending on the patch, Blizzard faced a lot of complaints from the more hardcore side of the audience, but whichever way you looked at it, Diablo 3 provided a lot of entertainment for a £40 subscriptionless game. They’ve come back to launch the game on consoles (this is the current-gen launch, by all accounts it looks like the next-gen releases will simply be prettier ports) and rather than simply replacing the UI buttons with coloured icons, Blizzard have tuned up Diablo into something even more special, could the console version actually be better?

The first thing PC gamers will notice is just how faithful this port is. The menus look the same, the opening is exactly the same, the skills are the same. The console ports do benefit from a year’s worth of patches from the PC version, so there’s a new difficulty and the balance changes that fixed some more glaring issues with the original release, but other than that this is basically the same game.  This holds true throughout with enemies and bosses all functioning just how you remember them. Despite the lack of a mouse the controls feel very similar, using a combination of a button hold and direction on the left stick to aim certain spells and ranged attacks. The graphics are faithful too, running at 720p but other than that it retains all of the glamour of what is still a visually impressive title thanks to a strong art style and some spectacular spell effects.

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What has changed changes pretty much everything though. First of all, the most important gameplay change is the dodge. It’s incredibly simple, but now every character has a simple dodge controlled with the right stick that’s so responsive it makes for a very different gameplay experience. Every character stands a lot to gain from careful kiting and if you start on anything above normal difficulty you’ll find it essential to your survival, even in the early fights. The game might start off slow but once you have a few different skills to manage crowds of enemies the dodge allows you to be much more daring than you could be in the PC version. Playing as a barbarian it’s easy to stun, rend and then get a few attacks off before rending again and dodging out of the crowd to let them bleed to death. Every enemy has some kind of tell before its attack so you quickly learn when exactly is the best time to dodge and can outright avoid huge amounts of damage. It leads to a much more dynamic playstyle and after now it’s hard to imagine playing without it.

The other big change is local multiplayer. Of course online multiplayer is present, and works perfectly in much the same way as it did on PC, but local multiplayer seems to be what this game was made for. Being constrained to a single screen isn’t much of a problem and the increased communication and focus that comes from being crowded around the same TV allows for some amazing moments. You’ll cheer when you all dodge out of a boss’s attack just in time, and you’ll shout when someone misses a stun and leads to a wipe. Thankfully the death penalties aren’t harsh at all so you won’t be holding a grudge for long against weaker players.

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The final difference is the lack of the auction house. The auction house was my biggest problem with Diablo 3, completely defeating the quest for loot which is at the heart of what Diablo is. You could simply sell everything you got and buy the perfect weapons and armour for your skill sets, or even spend real money to buy them. With that gone on console, fighting a good piece of loot is much more exciting and you find yourself ‘making do’ much more in order to progress. No longer are you only held back by your wallet, now you need to play to find the items you need to take on the last few difficulties. It might be a longer process but it’s much more interesting when you feel like you’re earning it, rather than just grinding up a number until you can buy the ‘right’ gear. In online multiplayer or over LAN you still all get your own loot but in local multiplayer it’s all shared in true Gauntlet fashion so expect some entertaining arguments about who gets what.

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Other than those modifications, Diablo 3 still has the same positives and negatives. The combat is compelling and arranging your skillsets to work out what works well together is a huge amount of fun. The physics seem to be turned up to eleven and each satisfying hit, even with the most basic attack can often lead to corpses flying across the scenery and bouncing off walls. There’s nothing better than taking a fully-loaded character into a horde of tough enemies and surviving it all thanks to skill and ridiculous attacks. That being said, the game can be tedious alive once the power trip of the combat has worn off. You’re clicking your way through hordes of similar enemies, with incremental upgrades along the way. If you want to get to the maximum level you’re looking at a huge amount of time and multiple playthroughs and the story and setting is nowhere near strong enough to keep that interesting over such a length of time. If you’re playing multiplayer though things are very different and the fun doesn’t stop. The game copes well on current-gen tech and having four players tearing through dungeons is as impressive as it is exciting. Throw in some party chat and it’s always a lot of fun.

Diablo 3 has made the leap to console gracefully, and is even improved over the PC version thanks to the lack of the auction house and inclusion of the dodge mechanic. When the expansion hits, assuming it comes to all platforms at once we’ll be tempted to play it on the next-gen rather than PC, where we’ll get the best of both worlds with console controls and PC graphics. As it stands Diablo  is admittedly a slightly hollow single-player experience after the first few hours, but if you’ve got people to play with or don’t mind matchmaking it can easily last you 100 hours or more. It might not be endless and eventually gets repetitive but with an expansion on the way it’s well worth the money.

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Diablo III (PC)

If this game wasn’t so good I’d give it a 37

Diablo 3 is the latest game from the powerhouse that is Blizzard. After dominating both the MMO market and the RTS market, they’ve returned to claim their throne at the head of whatever Diablo could be considered to be. Adventure? RPG? Isometric Kleptomaniac Simulator?

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