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MOBA

League of Legend's Tahm Kench is hard to play, but rewarding

Jul 10 // Chris Carter
First off, his overall design is brilliant. He's billed as a southern gentleman with an acquired taste, which works perfectly juxtaposed to his horrid visage. The character is hilarious, spouting out quotes like "I refuse to resign to culinary degradation" while devouring enemies whole, and his standard getup (as well as his chef skin) just work. It's a good balance between absurdity and fitting within the confines of the League universe. While a lot of depth lies under the surface, Kench is fairly easy to pick up, as he sports a skillshot tongue lash (Q), close-range devour (W), a passive/shield (E), and a straightforward (R) ultimate. By hitting an enemy with auto-attacks you can apply "acquired taste," which buffs tongue lash (giving it a stun) or devour. Devour specifically requires you to apply three tacks of taste before gobbling an enemy Champion, forcing Tahm Kench to be more aggressive than most people may like. It's also limited, as his movement speed is severely slowed while carrying an enemy -- so you can't instantly dive back to your own tower unless they're really aggressive. Stacks of acquired taste are shown very clearly with a fish-icon overlay, and applying a slowing debuff with tongue lash while chasing is a great way to gradually earn said stacks while an enemy is running away. Devouring enemy Champions doesn't feel cheap, as it requires a bit of finesse to pull off, and again, you're slowed as a result. His grey health regeneration passive can also be activated as a shield to deceptively increase his tankiness.  Kench's ultimate allows for a certain degree of map control since he can instantly become a "hub," so to speak, for another ally to click on. Reactivating said ultimate employs a swift means of transport to a target location in a large radial area. It's really fun to find an enemy teleporting in plain sight on the map, ult over, and tongue lash them to prevent them from running off. Likewise, you can easily set up ganks at early levels by transporting carries in and allowing them to get a kill. It's not instantaneous, though -- it takes a few seconds to channel and you have a second or so of a delay after arrival. One thing to note is that devour is a bit buggy at the moment. You're supposed to be able to tongue lash into a devour, but it doesn't work a good deal of the time. This (presumably temporary) limitation highlights the fact that if you want to play Tahm Kench at a high level, you need to work for it. Since he doesn't do much damage, you need to complement your team more than a lot of other supports. With the right amount of communication, he can shine. [embed]295757:59457:0[/embed] Playing Tahm Kench is probably the most fun I've had with League of Legends in months. He's unique from a gameplay perspective, with a personality to boot, and I think that once people start getting the hang of him, he'll be a viable pick in ranked play.
League of Legends photo
A real southern gentleman
Despite its tenacity in the past, Riot Games hasn't added a lot of Champions to League of Legends' roster this year. You have Bard in March, Ekko in June, and now, Tahm Kench this month -- that's it. Having said all that, all three have been great additions overall, and the fishy Kench is no exception.

Tahm Kench photo
Tahm Kench

Tahm Kench looks like a beast in League of Legends


Probably because he is
Jul 09
// Chris Carter
Tahmn Kench (pronounced "Tom"), is the newest Champion on the block in League of Legends. His core ability involves devouring smaller creeps, and even allied or enemy Champions, which become untargetable in his stomach -- he...
SMITE photo
SMITE

No more code begging! SMITE enters open beta on Xbox One


You just need Xbox Live Gold
Jul 08
// Jordan Devore
Thanks to its third-person gameplay and familiar mythological characters, SMITE was one of the few MOBAs to win me over. That was years ago, and I've long since lost interest. But now that the game's closed beta on Xbox One h...
Blizzard photo
Blizzard

Blizzard: 'Butcher is fine at high level Heroes of the Storm play'


Kerrigan is getting a buff
Jul 08
// Chris Carter
The Butcher has been out for over a week in Heroes of the Storm, so it's time for win rates to come into play, and a balancing discussion. So far based on my experiences (I got him to a Master Skin two days ago) he is in fact...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

League of Legends gives Gangplank and Miss Fortune a makeover


That must be the hottest orange ever
Jul 08
// Joe Parlock
League of Legends’ favourite pirates, Gangplank and Miss Fortune, have had a bit of a facelift in the newest update to the popular Moba. Both have been in the game for quite a long time now: Gangplank having been around...
DOTA 2 photo
DOTA 2

Watch a pro DOTA 2 team's journey to the top


With Jimmy 'DeMoN' Ho
Jul 07
// Chris Carter
If you've been wanting a new eSports documentary, Red Bull is currently producing one centered on DOTA 2. The doc will focus on Jimmy 'DeMoN' Ho as well as his former Team Liquid (he's currently with Champions of Summer...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard offering one more apology bonus XP period in Heroes of the Storm


Now until 1PM PST Monday
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
Blizzard has been running bonus XP events for Heroes of the Storm for roughly a month now, but the last one ended a bit abruptly in the US  -- specifically, a day earlier than expected. To make up for it, Blizzard i...
League photo
League

Riot is selling skin variation packs again for League of Legends


These should be free character rewards
Jul 01
// Chris Carter
Riot Games is bringing Chroma Packs back to League of Legends. For those of you unfamiliar with them, you'll be able to basically recolor your Champions' skins with them. You can buy them for your champs (Zac, Morgana, Darius...
Fast-paced MOBAs photo
Fast-paced MOBAs

Matches in Gigantic should only take 15 minutes


'That's a goal of ours'
Jun 30
// Jordan Devore
I'm not much of a MOBA person, but I have really gotten into Heroes of the Storm as of late thanks to its snappy, streamlined design. Shorter matches are a godsend. I've also been eying Gigantic, Motiga's super pretty third-p...

Blizzard: 'We have the freedom to bring any character we want into Heroes of the Storm'

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
Destructoid: Let's start out with a simple question -- what inspired Blizzard to create Heroes of the Storm? Kaeo Milker: It all started out as just a cool way to show off what the StarCraft II Editor was capable of for BlizzCon back in 2010. We’d just launched StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and set a few very small teams of developers loose on creating fun mod maps for the show. These teams built several maps, and we selected four to bring to BlizzCon, including one that was an homage to Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients that we called, “Blizzard All Stars.” The expectation was that we’d release these maps to StarCraft II shortly after the show, but something special happened with Blizzard All Stars and the feedback we received changed the course of things.  There was so much excitement about the game from our team, from Blizzard, and from the BlizzCon attendees that we had to take a step back and reconsider how much additional work should go into the map before its release. We ended up holding it back and we assigned a handful of developers to continue working on it en route to BlizzCon 2011, where we showed it again as, “Blizzard DOTA.” There were new heroes, a redesigned map, and some different takes on game mechanics, and we got even more positive reinforcement on its potential. This growing excitement from internal folks as well as our community led to some very intense conversations about the scope of the game and how we should approach it.  Some serious discussions spawned where we started asking questions like, “What if we ignore the recent games in this space and approach this as a reimagining of what those early mods could have become?” Those conversations led to a decision to make a standalone game where we’d throw out the expectations and rules, and simply make the game we wanted to play. That decision was super scary in its departure from the norm, but also very liberating, and we ended up calling that game Heroes of the Storm when we re-announced it at BlizzCon 2013. D: Tell us a bit about the beginnings of the MOBA genre and its origins. How did the team react to this level of engagement out of a use map settings creation? K: The genre originated all the way back with our own mapmaking community’s Aeon of Strife UMS maps from the original StarCraft. Those maps set the stage for the now-familiar single-hero control and multi-lane map layouts that later inspired mapmakers in Warcraft III to create offshoots including the immensely popular Defense of the Ancients maps. Along the way, many of the RPG-like mechanics that were core to Warcraft III’s gameplay like individual heroes, unlocking and empowering abilities via hero leveling, and item-based stat manipulation were creatively used to evolve the gameplay from Aeon of Strife into that of DOTA and everything that’s come since. It’s inspiring to look back on the game genres that have incubated and spawned from the Blizzard mapmaking communities. The team responsible for Heroes of the Storm also made the original StarCraft as well as Warcraft III, and many of the people working on Heroes of the Storm today were either here at Blizzard or active in our communities when this all started. We’ve all watched this evolution with equal amounts of respect and admiration for everything our players have created. D: Can you give us a rundown of what to expect going forward after launch, both in terms of timelines and content? K: Historically for our team, launching a game has meant that it is “done,” but with Heroes, launch is truly just the beginning. The content and features in the game today represent the foundation of a game that we expect to be in constant evolution moving forward, and we have a growing team that’s been refining our tools and processes to allow us to create and deliver more stuff, more often. We’re moving into a phase now where we’ll be bringing new heroes into the game every 3-4 weeks and are planning for incremental changes and additions to the game even between hero releases.  We currently have several battlegrounds in development and we’ll continue to bring them into the game multiple times a year, starting with the Eternal Conflict release where we’ll introduce a collection of Diablo-themed battlegrounds, heroes, skins, mounts, and events over the next few months. There’s a lot more in store that I can’t talk about yet, but know that we have some amazing things in development and our team is just as excited about this game as our players are! D: What niche do you believe Heroes fulfills in the current MOBA scene today? K: Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s take on a genre that has been around for over a decade. We’ve set out to capture and accentuate the elements of these games that we found most compelling, while improving or eliminating the things that we found detracted from the fun. We approach this process with all of our games from the perspective of gamers, and again, we set out to build the games that we want to play.  The game we created features some pretty dramatic departures from the norm like action-packed 20 minute games, an ever-growing pool of objective-based battlegrounds, team leveling, per-hero talent trees that let players modify each hero’s playstyle, and of course, real Blizzard heroes and worlds – all wrapped up in the fun, light-hearted humor we’re known for. It’s free to play, so I invite everybody to check it out and see if it’s the kind of game they want to play, too. D: What is the current state of the MOBA genre financially as a whole? Is there room for more major releases? K: I’m much more of a development guy than a business guy, but clearly there is a ton of interest in this genre and there has been since the Warcraft III days. I’m excited about that interest not because of some potential financial opportunities, but because it represents players who might be open to checking out our game and I think we’re doing something really different with Heroes that can build on the things they’ve loved from past games, while also addressing concerns from players who may not have liked those other games.  Ultimately, I think there’s always room for great games. Our focus is to make the best games we possibly can, and history has shown us that if we stay true to that goal and uphold our commitments to quality and fun, success is within our reach. D: Who is your biggest competition currently, and what do they do right? K: We’ve always looked at other game companies less as competition and more as part of a community that’s pushing game development, technology, user experiences, gameplay, genres, and the industry forward together. Coexisting in a creative space like gaming can help lead to refinement and innovation, and that’s a very healthy thing for us both as developers, and as gamers.  We’ve clearly benefited from the things other developers have learned with similar games – the right choices as much as the wrong choices  –  and as we’re starting to see already, they will in turn benefit from the things we’re trying as well. D: What efforts are you going through in terms of growing Heroes as an eSport? K: This year will be a time where we establish Heroes as an eSport alongside establishing Heroes as a game. We’re off to an amazing start with Heroes of the Dorm, where we brought college teams together from across the US and Canada to battle it out for full college tuition. That event cemented the legitimacy of Heroes as an eSport given the intense competition and its undeniable strengths as a spectator event. The recently-announced 2015 Road to BlizzCon will be the professional extension of that path we’ve started down, and we’ll all get to watch the very best teams from each of our regions work their way through their regional qualifiers and semi-finals en route to the ultimate global showdown at BlizzCon. Like the game, our eSports support will be in constant evolution and I’m very excited to see what develops. D: Walk us through a basic outline of what it takes to create a hero from start to finish. K: Hero creation is a very involved, multi-month process that relies heavily on iteration tied to ideas and feedback from many people across our team, and even across Blizzard. It all starts with paper design, where a Hero Designer comes up with a written pitch for the hero, its playstyle, and its kit. After several rounds of feedback and refinement, that paper design gets approved for prototyping. Our tools allow our Tech Designers to stand up a first playable version of the hero with placeholder art, sounds, and effects very quickly and an exhaustive process of playtesting and iteration begins amongst our design team. This process can span several weeks, with constant reaction to feedback every step of the way.  Once the design team is feeling good about a hero’s progress, it graduates to team playtesting. These tests take place several times per week and several hundred of our team members and support personnel are invited to participate and provide feedback to help further refine the hero’s design.  Another multi-week reaction cycle begins based on that ongoing feedback, and only after successfully making it through the team playtesting phase does a hero graduate to full production where we unleash the full power of the development team on its finalization.  During production, our art, user interface, writing, sound, localization, and quality assurance teams begin their respective processes creating, refining, and testing the version of the hero you’ll eventually play in the game. Throughout the hero’s journey, each developer bolsters their part of its creation with a ton of polish and love, and that really shows in the final product. D: Can you give us an idea of potential heroes or kits you've been working on for future patches? K: Sure, up next is…wait a sec…nice try!  I can confirm that we’re spending some time with Diablo heroes for the Eternal Conflict before returning to heroes from other game worlds. Beyond that, all I can say is that anything’s possible – any hero from any Blizzard game, ever!  D: As a follow-up, are you concerned that certain franchises like Warcraft may be overrepresented? K: We currently have a disproportionate number of Warcraft heroes, but more than anything that is a function of the abundance of incredible Warcraft heroes to pull from when we started out. Our goal moving forward is to bring in excellent heroes from all of our games – past, present, and future. We value variety tremendously in this game and are trying to provide players with a dynamic experience where they have choices to make which give them the ability to directly impact that experience. This starts with selecting the hero they want to play and continues with choices in skins, mounts, team compositions, battleground strategies, and talent builds. Be on the lookout for an ever-increasing number of non-Warcraft heroes coming into the game with our Eternal Conflict event starting later this month! D: What is one hero from the Blizzard universe that will absolutely not fit in Heroes of the Storm? K: So far, this hasn’t been an issue. We have the freedom to bring any character we want into the game and enough flexibility in our game mechanics and design to re-interpret each one in a way that captures their essence while tailoring their gameplay for the best possible experience in Heroes. It’s an amazing space to play around in and we’re really enjoying this limitless potential. D: Finally, what is your favorite current hero? K: I love Kerrigan and have played her extensively since the first day of our Development Alpha. Her combo-driven, melee assassin kit brings out the overcommitting lunatic in me and I play her much more aggressively than perhaps any other hero in the game – for better or for worse. She’s incredibly powerful early game and can scale really nicely into late game, especially when paired up with another hero to complement her kit (Tassadar is one of my favorite partners). Beyond her gameplay, I have a personal connection to the character dating back to my passion for the original StarCraft and leading through my 8+ year investment in producing StarCraft II. And I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but my daughter is even named Kerrigan! While Kerrigan is my all-time favorite, I’ve been maining Nazeebo lately and have him on the cusp of hitting Level 20.  I relish the perfect Zombie Wall and am thrilled pulling off the well-timed Ravenous Spirit to clean up a team fight from afar after all of the enemy interrupts have been blown. Ayyyeeeee!!!
Heroes of the Storm photo
A Q&A with the game's lead producer
Heroes of the Storm has been out for almost a month now after a lengthy set of alpha and beta sessions, and I'm still enjoying it as much as I did at launch. Blizzard has vowed to constantly support and update the game w...

Heroes of the Storm's Butcher is another great inclusion

Jun 30 // Chris Carter
The Butcher is an interesting mix of styles, despite his labeled as an assassin. While he is big, he's not necessarily "tanky" in that he's an easy target while being focused. You also have to micromanage him at the start, as he needs to collect "meat stacks," power-ups dropped by enemy minions to charge up his attack power. Using the various talents acquired on your journey to level 20, you can reward yourself for constantly staying on top of your meat meter, with abilities like a higher meat cap and the ability to heal yourself from pickups. Or, you can simply build up your abilities. His standard "Q" is a straight line skillshot, and slows enemies in its path. It's very aggressive. You can chase down enemies, Q them, and a few seconds later, Q them again. Much like wandering with enemy stealth combatants unaccounted for, going solo with the Butcher roaming around isn't a great idea. This is exacerbated by his "E," which is a mad dash that grants him "unstoppable" status and stuns the enemy for a second after reaching his target. I actually found some neat ways to use this, like running away from enemies by targeting minions, or saving teammates who are being chased. It's also a dramatic move, with the target getting a demonic mark on their head and the Butcher giving in to his inner, terrifying bloodlust. It's powerful for sure, but it also has a long cooldown of 20 seconds. His "W" is probably his least interesting ability, as it can mark a target for a limited time which grants him health while attacking said marked enemy. I've found that for the most part in teamfights, the amount of healing involved isn't really sufficient enough to prevent you from dying, and it would have been more interesting if it gave teammates a low leech percentage (though you can spec it to heal more and grant movement speed). [embed]295040:59292:0[/embed] His ultimate (Heroic) powers are much more interesting. Furnace Blast is an area-of-effect (AOE) blast in a circle around him, and Lamb to the Slaughter chains an enemy to a hitching post for four seconds (it chains anyone in the radius at level 20). The first Heroic doesn't sound all that interesting, but it has a cool visual effect and can be used while charging with your "E," making it a bit more nuanced. The hitching post is my personal favorite, as it augments the Butcher's keen ability to kill lone heroes while they're hilariously chained in place. This works even better if you're ganking enemies with a partner like Nazeebo, who has enough time to set up his Zombie Wall. I also had a chance to test out the "Iron Butcher" skin as well as the "Butcher's Battle Beast" mount that's exclusive to his bundle. The mount isn't anything to write home about, as it's mostly just an existing Battle Beast with some iron armor added on top. It's exclusive to the bundle though, so some of you may want to spring for it. As for the Iron Butcher, it's a pretty safe choice, but it does fit the character and the fact that his face is covered does give him a new enough look compared to some of the other skins. While the jury is still out on whether or not the Butcher is balanced (it's the first day!), he certainly feels like it. To really capitalize with the hero you'll need to play your cards right, and with a distinct lack of escape abilities and the meat mechanic, players will need to master his ins and outs to truly perform. For now though, I'm happy with the results, and I'm tempted to work on my fifth master skin with him.
Heroes of the Storm photo
15,000 gold or $9.99
Heroes of the Storm has just kicked off its Eternal Conflict event, which will bring more Diablo-related content into the game over the course of the next few months. Characters, mounts, and a new level are a part of the cele...

Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm gets the Butcher today, after maintenance


Watch the awesome backstory video
Jun 30
// Chris Carter
The Butcher is coming to Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm today as part of the multi-month Diablo celebration, which start this week. He's a melee assassin hero, who has the ability to slow, mark targets to...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

League of Legends' latest champion is named Tahm Kench


He's a support who excels solo lane
Jun 24
// Chris Carter
The River King lives, folks. While some speculated that the creature in the water in the teaser video would be an ultimate of sorts, Tahm Kench is confirmed for League of Legends, and he will be a support character. Evidently...

Heroes of the Storm's Battlefield of Eternity may be the best map yet

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
[embed]294694:59216:0[/embed] The layout is extremely simplistic. It's the game's only other two-lane map, in addition to Haunted Mines, and sports a few extra hallways for mercenary creeps, as well as its main event in the middle (which I'll get to later). In short, I'm happy to see another smaller map in the fray, as Heroes is built on short matches and fast, frantic team fights even towards the beginning of the game. New minion and creep skins make everything feel fresh, as does the Heaven vs. Hell theme which permeates throughout the entire arena, and differentiates both sides more than any MOBA I've seen. Random Treasure Goblin events (which can happen on any map) featuring Deckard Cain as a guest announcer only drive this point home. The main gimmick (objective) is flashier for sure. In short, two immortals will be locked in battle after a certain period of time passes, and it's up to both teams to tip the scales in their favor. While your respective God is fighting, you can either defend it, or go after your rival, which will test your teamfighting mettle right off the bat. You'll have to do this while the other immortal is occasionally stopping to attack your team, so it can be a really risky affair (much like the Grave Golem) -- but it's worth it not only for the reward, but to see the badass animations that the immortals boast while fighting at certain intervals. It's a thrill, to say the least. Unlike some other objectives it feels paramount to help your God out, and constantly keeps you entertained. After destroying the other God your ally will jump into a lane and help you push, which usually destroys an encampment as long as most of your team is there to assist. The key is that the skirmishes feel like they matter, but they don't completely determine the flow of the game -- you can win some, and lose some. Another main reason why the immortals are a good idea is because they don't take you out of the game or force new players to learn a new strategy, like the Garden Terror and Dragon Knight do. Really though, it's just great to have another Blizzard franchise properly represented in Heroes of the Storm with an original work. Many complaints were levied against the current maps for being "Heroes of Warcraft"-esque, so adding in one that helps balance the scales a bit is a good move. It will be available on June 30, and a smaller map rotation will be implemented until July 7 so you have a higher chance to get Battlefield of Eternity.
Heroes of the Storm photo
Angels and Demons
The newest patch for Heroes of the Storm has hit the public test realm (PTR), which includes a number of character changes and reworks, in addition to the big piece of new content set to hit next week -- the Battlef...

Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

The Hearthstone card mount is now in Heroes of the Storm


You need 100 Play mode wins
Jun 19
// Chris Carter
Recently, Blizzard announced that a special flying card mount would be available for Heroes of the Storm players who completed a certain task in Hearthstone. What's do you have to do, you may ask? Only win 100 games in t...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

Riot is teasing 'The River King' for League of Legends


Interesting
Jun 18
// Chris Carter
Riot Games is currently working on two new champions (one was Ekko, another is a tank, and another is a support) for League of Legends, and everyone is clamoring for a tank sooner than later. As of today, they're teasing The...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Take a gander at pretty much every upcoming Heroes of the Storm addition


Characters and skins
Jun 18
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is getting some new content soon, starting on June 30th with a new Diablo level and The Butcher, and following up with King Leoric and the Monk a bit later on. In the meantime, you can take a look at...
Dota 2 Reborn photo
Dota 2 Reborn

The enhanced Dota 2 Reborn beta is out right now


Instructions within
Jun 18
// Chris Carter
Want to get in on Dota 2 Reborn? Feel free to chek out Valve's new landing page for it, which will provide the instructions for launching the new client. Changes include a new Source 2 engine, reduced input lag, better p...
PC at E3 photo
PC at E3

Diablo's Treasure Goblin, Monk, King Leoric confirmed for Heroes of the Storm


New map on June 30
Jun 16
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is going to get a major update later this month. Blizzard's Dustin Browder stated it plainly at the PC Gaming Show today at E3: "Heroes is all about Diablo for the next few months." Not only wit...
Heroes of the Storm, photo
Heroes of the Storm,

Heroes of the Storm's last XP bonus is in effect this week


Until 11:59 PST on June 24
Jun 16
// Chris Carter
Blizzard has flipped the switch to their final XP boost event for Heroes of the Storm's launch. Starting today until June 24, you'll earn a 100% extra XP boost, which applies to both your player level and individual hero leve...
Gigantic beta photo
Gigantic beta

Gigantic beta hits Xbox One, Windows 10 in August


Sign up now... or don't
Jun 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Motiga's upcoming MOBA Gigantic made an appearance at Microsoft's E3 presser today. Nothing huge was revealed, but if you're keen on checking it out, a closed beta is planned to take place this August across Windows 10 and Xbox One. You can sign up for a chance to test it here.
Dota 2 Reborn photo
Dota 2 Reborn

Valve announces Dota 2 Reborn, new engine, new UI, less frustration


Heroes never die, they just respawn
Jun 13
// Nic Rowen
Valve has announced a massive update for their mind bogglingly popular MOBA, Dota 2. Dota 2 Reborn will be a top-to-bottom overhaul, reworking and tweaking just about every aspect of the game. Chief among these changes is a b...
League photo
League

Struggling with jungling in League of Legends? This video clears things up


From foxdropLOL
Jun 12
// Chris Carter
One thing many new MOBA players struggle with is jungling. New kid on the block Heroes of the Storm basically eliminates this requirement, but in many games like League of Legends, one player at the start of the ga...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm's XP bonus event is boosted this week


Up to 50%
Jun 10
// Chris Carter
Blizzard was holding a launch event for Heroes of the Storm, where players would net an extra 25% extra experience boost for playing the week of release. Now, the publisher is upping the stakes with a 50% boost from June 9 un...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

League of Legends' latest patch focuses on Caitlyn and Twisted Treeline


Patch 5.11
Jun 10
// Chris Carter
Yesterday I posted a roundup for the five recent Champions to hit League of Legends, and it was just in time, it seems, for a massive patch in the form of 5.11. This one focuses on Caitlyn and the Twisted Treeline specif...

League of Legends roundup: Azir, Kalista, Rek'Sai, Bard, and Ekko

Jun 09 // Chris Carter
Azir's whole gimmick is that he summons Sand Soldier units, which are statues of sorts. They're not really their own entities with health bars, however -- more like extensions of Azir, who is a mage first, marksman second. His soldiers cannot be targeted, which makes him fun (or a pain against) in the laning phase. He's also great at chasing as he can dash to his soldiers using his E. One of the best things about Azir is his innate ability to summon Sun Discs in place of destroyed towers, which creates a mini-tower for a limited period of time. He's very hard to get used to, but a worthy addition to League. I have a lot of fun using him in ARAM, but I believe he is a viable competitive Champion with the right composition. Kalista is a weird character, with a variety of different ranged attacks as a marksman. She can become "Oathsworn" with another ally, essentially boosting her stats and her damage while they are near each other or attack the same target. As you can probably tell, this requires a ton of communication, or at least, a lot of trust with one other player. While winding up her standard skillshot, you can cancel with a quick click to lunge in a direction -- think of it like a free dash. She can also send a ghost out to sentry, and her ultimate can "call" her Oathsworn player to her if they so choose to answer said call (with a range limit), which is also a knock-up. All in all I wouldn't say that she's a particularly interesting Champion, but going in with another friend and laning as Oathsworn buddies can be fun. She's also considered one of the most competitive Champions in recent months, though I won't be using her consistently. Rek'Sai is a bug who fulfills the fighter role, and does what many bugs do best -- she burrows. As one of her chief abilities, burrowing will modify all of her other powers. For instance, an ability that would buff her next three basic attacks is now a skillshot, and she can create tunnel exits to burrow back to, but burrowing does negate basic attacks, and thus, your damage output. Where Rek'Sai excels is mobility. She can quickly get from place to place, allowing her to assist in teamfights, small skirmishes, and when necessary, jungle situations. I enjoyed her as a whole more than Azir and Kalista, and it seems as if the community has taken to her as well. She was re-balanced shortly after her release, and a new nerf is on the way that may take her down a peg overall. Bard the support has an awesome aesthetic to him that fits League of Legends quite well. His Q is a standard skillshot that slows, but the sound and visual effects have a real pop to them. As a support ability, he can drop shrines that boost movement speed and heal -- this simple move is pretty deep, as Bard can place them strategically behind towers to reduce time away from laning or just put them on the ground below him to immediately heal. You'll also need to pay a bit more attention playing as Bard, as you'll be required to periodically grab unique chime icons on the map to buff your auto-attacks. His coolest ability though is the power to create a portal through terrain, which both enemies and allies can use. It looks cool, and it's an effective way of crashing in on enemy creep kills. Bard's ultimate puts everyone in a circle in a stasis, including all heroes and minions -- much like Zeratul's Void Prison ult in Heroes of the Storm, or many other similar MOBA abilities. All told, Bard is by far my favorite champion that I've played in months, and I highly recommend picking him up for fun. It's appropriate that Ekko, the boy who shattered time, has most of his abilities linked to movement speed. As an assassin, it's Ekko's job to pick out individual targets and burst them down rapidly. His passive allows him to build up stacks on a foe, slowing them after three stacks and dealing damage. Like most new heroes these days he has a token skillshot (that creates a slowing field), an area-of-effect slow dome, and a dash. His ultimate is where things get more interesting. Chronobreak is basically an "oh shit" button, making him invulnerable and transporting him back to his location four seconds ago. It allows him to get out of a sticky situation and continue picking off other Champions as well as deal some damage at the location. Ekko is a pure assassin, no frills -- and that's a good thing. While all Champions aren't created equal, I'm excited to see what Riot Games has in store for us in 2015 and beyond.
League impressions photo
Time to play catchup
It's been an eventful past six months for League of Legends. While I've been covering new Champions since 2013, I slipped a bit since Gnar late in 2014, as a few other major MMOs as well as fellow MOBA Heroes of the...

Overwatch photo
Overwatch

Overwatch might appear in Heroes of the Storm, but only after its launch


I'd be up for it
Jun 09
// Chris Carter
Overwatch, the newest IP from Blizzard, looks like their biggest gamble yet. It's not banking on an established franchise like Hearthstone did with Warcraft, and the cast is composed of completely original character...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

League of Legends' fun Hexakill mode is going away again


Going, going, gone
Jun 08
// Chris Carter
Earlier last year, the folks over at Riot Games opened up the Hexakill game mode for League of Legends. The idea was simple -- take a five-player map and add an extra player to it, creating all sorts of crazy match-ups and te...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm goes Diablo-crazy with 'Eternal Conflict' event


New hero, level, mount, and skins
Jun 07
// Chris Carter
[Update: Blizzard has released a piece of key art for the event, and it looks like it teases a number of different skins, and even a potential new character, the skeleton king Leoric. Like The Butcher, he was also featured in...

Very Quick Tips: Heroes of the Storm

Jun 05 // Chris Carter
General tips: Regeneration globes drop from the mage minions in each creep wave. It took me forever to realize this, but you can use it to your advantage with characters like Kael, and the Mana Addict skill. Do you see the eye above your character when you're hidden? If it turns red, you've been spotted by some source. You do not need to kill creeps to get XP for your team, nor do you need to last-hit them for more rewards. You just need to be near them. Likewise, you don't always have to go after objectives, even though you should in most quick matches where you can't communicate. For instance, it's advantageous to lane for the first tribute spawn on the Cursed Hollow map, and have one player poke the enemy team while everyone else lanes. That way you're outleveling your opponent's team, and giving up one tribute isn't a big deal. Tactics like this require communication however. Ever wonder what the "Bribe" statement is for neutral mercenary camps? Only certain heroes can do this if they buy that ability when leveling up or at the start, like Falstad and Brightwing. Right clicking  on your profile in the top right-hand corner of the main menu can yield a ton of information that's worth reading, like win rates on certain maps and your affinity towards specific heroes. Additionally, you can sometimes locate hidden heroes that haven't launched yet in the Hero Collection screen. Abathur can  be tricky when controlling a stealthed unit. Almost nothing will actually break the cloak, but any ability, including the shield, will sort of show their location to enemies. Any skillshot or AOE can take a unit out of a cloak, and you can see said cloak a bit by way of a shimmering effect. Likewise, Rehgar's chain heal can jump to an "empty" spot -- be aware of every ability that can expose a stealth character. If you see someone with a flaming health bar, it means they're on a killing spree. Depending on that character's build, they may have the skill that adds ability damage for consecutive kills. Death with reset some of this progress. You can swap your active abilities (the bar right above your core Q through R keys) by holding down left click and dragging them. Destroying a keep (the big fort) in a given inner base will spawn super minions (catapults) in that lane. If you hold alt while left clicking, you can bring up an extended ping menu with options like "on my way" and "need assistance." If you want an idea of who top players use, check out the Heroes of the Storm Logs website. Players often use this to decide "tiers," but it's just one piece of data to use when choosing a main, or a new character to try. Want to try out a hero you don't own? Go to the shop, click a hero, and hit "try." For a better shop view, click the hero while in the "Play" section of the game to get an easier, bigger layout with gold and real money prices. "Random" may also grant you access to a hero that you cannot play yet due to your rank. On Quick Match, players will often fight over the "vision" points on maps at the start (especially in Blackheart's Bay). Be aware of this meta-skirmish and plan accordingly -- get behind your warrior/tank and be cautious. If your team looks like they're going for it, think about helping them out, or go to the very bottom and just start laning to get a head start on XP. Laning isn't always sexy, but it pays off, especially if you're outleveling the opposing team. Be patient when buying heroes. Buy ones that cost very low amounts of gold, and level them up -- levels one through five are extremely easy to do. You'll in turn have more chances to earn gold with those cheap character levels, which can buy you more characters as you level up your player level. Before you know it you'll have tons of gold. Exercise restraint and only try to buy heroes on sale with real money. Eventually, they will all go on sale. Speaking of XP, when you hit player level 10, you'll get a free 7-day Stimpack that boosts XP gain. Think about hitting this landmark when you'll have more free time ahead of you -- in other words, if you're about to go on vacation, don't pull the trigger on level 10 just yet. If you're redeeming the retail Starter Pack, redeem your Ronin Zeratul skin first, as it will unlock the Zeratul character. You can give your other unlock to a friend.
Heroes of the Storm tips photo
Make Uther proud
Heroes of the Storm might have some streamlined mechanics when it comes to the MOBA genre as a whole, but it's anything but "dumbed down." While I'll refrain from educating players on MOBAs as a whole (the 15-minute tutorial does a good job of that), here are some tips I've compiled over my long sessions of play.


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