In this episode of Dispatches From Warcraft we have not one but TWO artwork announcements.
For a while there, it looked like our US counterparts would be getting to grips with the Overwatch [official site] beta before us humble Europeans. Now, we’re on equal footing and will be marching towards October 27 in unison, after Blizzard got their beta servers for Europe and the Americas up and running sooner than planned. It’s bad news for our Asian friends, though. You guys still need to wait. Sad face.
So Activision Blizzard’s creating a new division “devoted to esports” within the company. It’s going to be chairman-ed by the former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network, Steve Bornstein, and senior vice presidente-ed by a co-founder of Major League Gaming, Mike Sepso. There’s a press release and everything.
I’ve been a bit down on what we’ve seen of Blizzard’s upcoming FPS Overwatch [official site] in gameplay videos – it looks too spammy with a cacophony of sound effects and more flash than a Flaming Lips gig – but I’m still curious. If anyone will rework and revisit a game until it’s all shiny and fine, it’s Blizzard.
So sure, I’ll toss my name into the hat for beta access, which Blizzard have announced will begin on October 27th – in North America, anyway. They’re planning weekend stress tests inviting everyone too, with the first coming after November’s BlizzCon.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
No, seriously, have you? And when? And for how long? And did you return? I ask because I have played World of Warcraft [official site] but only for two months, years apart, and treated it more as any singleplayer RPG. I’m interested playing MMOs as non-ongoing things, but realise this is uncommon, so I’d like to ask folks who have played it for long stretches: once you’d seen it all, was it for hanging with cyberpals or a timesink or…?
RPS Feature Shooting, swapping and strike teams
Overwatch [official site] was rather a highlight of the recent European Road to Blizzcon event for me. It’s Blizzard’s foray into first person shooters and has provoked a lot of TF2 chat and comparison from colleagues. A build of the game was playable in two demo zones so I had hands-on time with a clutch of characters. I found it to be an intriguing proposition despite having been lukewarm at best about the trailer videos. Progressing on the two maps available felt like problems to solve using heroes and their abilities as well as an exercise in shooting characters successfully.
It’s still very much a work in progress and there were elements I was less sure of so game designer Geoff Goodman stepped up to answer my resultant questions. Questions like “Is it hard to make tanks?”, “How do you even start designing matchmaking?”, “When’s the beta?” and “Can’t you just cheat in your office Overwatch tournament?”
Read on for his replies:
RPS Feature How to HotS
The finals of the Heroes of the Storm [official site] European Championships were mere hours away as I huddled on a sofa with match caster Manuel ‘Grubby’ Schenkhuizen. He’s a former Warcraft 3 World Champion and StarCraft 2 pro player but this weekend he was dispensing wisdom on the subject of Blizzard’s all-star hero brawler. Meanwhile I was stealing his expertise and putting it in my game journalist pouch so I could feed it to you later.
What I wanted to know was this: how to make the jump from playing HotS with more enthusiasm than expertise in a pool of friends and strangers to watching a competitive HotS match and knowing what on earth is going on.
You need to be more like an anxious parent at a music recital. Read on to find out why!
This weekend, Prague was flooded with Blizzard fans for the Road to Blizzcon EU regionals. Players in the Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and World of WarCraft tournaments competed for a slice of the $300,000 USD prize pool, as well as the chance to play in the World Championships at BlizzCon in November. Pip was at the tournament and will have more in-depth coverage later, but check out the winners below.
Heroes of the Storm [official site], perhaps detecting that I had headed off for a few days, deployed a new patch for public testing and included a new character as well as a bunch of other twiddles and tweaks. At the time I was too busy working out how to say different ice cream flavours in Italian (and occasionally lapsing into Spanish, English and French) but now there is no ice cream, only scoops of Lt. Morales.
I guess that’s probably a good thing because Lt. Morales (in theory) increases your chances of survival what with being a medic and a support character. Ice cream wouldn’t care if you were being ganked.
We’ve got 1000 beta keys for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void to giveaway. This is the third and final installment in the StarCraft 2 trilogy [official site], bringing the story to a close and focused on the Protoss race. Naturally, it also comes with new units, maps and modes for the series’ multiplayer, and that’s what this beta gets you access to. Hop below for instructions on how to enter.