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Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm's Cho'gall is freaking weird, but feels balanced

Rolling out today
Nov 17
// Chris Carter
Earlier this month, Blizzard announced a two-player hero in the form of Cho'gall for Heroes of the Storm. In essence, the primary player would control movement and their own set of abilities with Cho, and another would take care of Gall, who is attached to the former -- almost like a permanent Abathur hat. It makes for an interesting playstyle, but of course, it has its drawbacks.

League of Legends' Kindred sports a killer kit and beautiful design

Oct 28 // Chris Carter
[embed]317933:60896:0[/embed] "Kindred," a new jungler, is actually two characters -- Lamb and Wolf. Their dichotomy is rather interesting, as they symbolize aspects of death, with stark color contrasts to boot. While Riot Games could have half-assed the theme it really went all out, and the animations for Kindred are some of the best in the game, especially when it comes to Wolf's spirit tail effects. I also love dual characters as they have so much potential in terms of interesting skins. So what can they do? Well, Kindred is really more of an active Champion, more so than a lot of others currently on offer. Their W, which doubles as an area-of-effect attack, requires players to constantly move around to build stacks, which triggers health regeneration after attacking. Once you've launched a shot the stack resets, so you better be clicking a mile a minute to keep it up. Given the fact that their E is a slow and their Q is a vault that hits multiple foes, Kindred is a rather versatile Champion that can do a lot more than jungle. This goes double for the pair's ultimate, which creates an area-of-effect space where nothing can die (read: drop below 10% health), friend or foe, for 10 seconds. It's clearly situational and best used when losing a teamfight, but it can completely change the course of a match. By virtue of playing Kindred, players can select a Champion to "hunt" by clicking on their portrait. After killing that target, you'll gain a permanent stat increase, and a lengthy cooldown will be in place for the same player -- though you can switch it up at will. Jungling is also a ton of fun, as you can kite enemies with your range and vault ability, allowing for some interesting early game play. Their E is also perfect for setting up ganks while roaming. While Kindred is a beast, Riot might be gearing up for a nerf at some point. It's very easy to gain an advantage over lesser players by hunting them constantly, as all you need is roughly two or three people to pick on throughout the match to gain the upper hand, stat-wise. This stacks very well with armor penetration gear. In the meantime the Champion requires a ton of skill to play and relies on a good team to shine, so pick the duo up if you haven't already.
League of Legends photo
Two characters in one
It's getting to the point where I'm starting to get lost when selecting a Champion in League of Legends. Sure, the newest kid on the block, Kindred, has a giant floating mask for an icon and the list is in alphabetical order,...

Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

I'm not sold on Heroes of the Storm's Artanis yet

The game's first StarCraft Warrior
Oct 21
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm's Artanis isn't dropping officially until October 27, but those of you who pre-ordered Legacy of the Void can play him now, as part of an early access program. While Artanis might be a formidable foe within the confines of the StarCraft universe, I'm not sure I'll be using him to suit my Warrior needs.
Medic photo

Heroes of the Storm's Medic is the dedicated healer we needed

Not a hybrid
Sep 29
// Chris Carter
Kharazim is probably my favorite character in Heroes of the Storm at the moment, but it's about time that we got the StarCraft healer we've always wanted with Lt. Morales, the Medic. With a number of supports e...

Rexxar photo

Quick thoughts on Heroes of the Storm's Rexxar

Bear is driving! How can that be?
Sep 08
// Chris Carter
Heroes of the Storm is stepping away from the Diablo event as of today, and is focusing more on Warcraft and Starcraft in the coming months. The Treasure Goblins are out, and Rexxar, the half-orc half-ogre is in, with his partner Misha the bear (albeit with some launch issues for some). Here's some quick thoughts on whether or not he's worth your 15,000 gold.
Heroes new map/Monk photo
Heroes new map/Monk

Quick thoughts on Heroes of the Storm's Monk and new Infernal Shrines level

Currently on PTR
Aug 11
// Chris Carter
Blizzard has unleashed a host of new changes onto the public test realm (PTR) for Heroes of the Storm, including a new character (Kharazim the Monk) and a new map (Infernal Shrines). I had a chance to take them both for a spi...

Heroes of the Storm's Leoric is another unique addition to the entire MOBA genre

Jul 21 // Chris Carter
Leroic's Q is a simple bash called Skeletal Swing, and would be extremely boring if it didn't do double damage to minions and cause a slow. Because of this, it has a lot of utility in terms of clearing waves and chasing or escaping. It also has a much longer range than I thought it would with a giant modified cone (you can spec it to reach even more distance!), and can go through gates/walls. Not to mention the fact that it's perfect for clearing out smaller creeps in the mines and garden. Drain Hope (W) is a bolt of sorts that allows him to heal, which helps his viability as a warrior class and adds some range to his kit. It only works on heroes, just like Thrall's wolves, so he can't just heal himself in any circumstance -- plus, he needs to maintain a specific distance to channel. Wraith Walk (E) is a really cool teleport, which lets Leoric become unstoppable for a few seconds and phase shift a short distance. He's much more mobile than a lot of other heroes because of this, but his body is vulnerable while he uses it. As you can see, most of his abilities can be countered. In terms of his Heroics, Entomb is a good way in theory to guarantee a single enemy death (it literally causes an impassable tomb to appear), but after extensive testing, I'm going to say that it's just straight-up not very good. It's a little tougher to aim than Butcher's Lamb to the Slaughter, and it's easily countered with a quick Bolt of the Storm or any teleport right towards the open side. His other Heroic, March of the Black King, is likely going to be the top pick by most people. In essence, Leoric whacks everything in front of him in rapid succession, which causes him to heal while he's at it. It's an amazing initiation, as most enemies will likely have to run away from its fairly big area of effect, lest they allow him to heal. [embed]296386:59624:0[/embed] Ok, so it's a fairly easy-to-grasp kit, but his trait is really where he shines -- even when he's KOed, he doesn't technically "die," and can still persist on the battlefield as a wraith. He doesn't do direct damage, but he can use his abilities to reduce his death timer, and return to the board wherever you happen to leave his ghost. Because of this, Leoric has 100% uptime. Now, rising from the dead isn't a completely new MOBA concept -- it isn't even new to Heroes (Uther) -- but since the entire character is built around it and he can do it at level one, it makes for some very interesting gameplay. I love how a lot of his traits are built to work for both variants, and you can even hearth back to base while "dead." It obviously works best with specific objectives, like the Dragon Shire shrines, where you can come right back while the enemy is low on health. Since you can clearly see his ghost as an enemy, it's easy to plan for his resurrection, but the vision his death form grants is a huge factor. When I played the Butcher the day he debuted, I could tell he was fairly balanced with only 10 or so games under my belt. He has a pretty straightforward role, and there are a multitude of counters you can use against him so long as the enemy team is working together. With Leoric, it's much harder to tell where he fits in the current meta, and whether he will need buff or nerf tweaks long term. He's not particularly bursty until later levels and his deaths do grant full kill bonuses for the enemy team, so I can see a lot of players being reckless at low-level play to balance him out in Quick Match. Additionally, he's slow in general, doesn't quite feel as sturdy as some other dedicated tanks, and all his cooldowns take a while to recharge. Right now, I'm fairly happy with where Leoric is at, but again, it's too early to tell what plans Blizzard has for him and if he'll end up being a viable hero in the future. We'll have to keep a close eye on his win rates.
Heroes of the Storm photo
What is dead may never die
Today, Blizzard dropped Leoric the Skeleton King, the newest addition to Heroes of the Storm. He's a melee Warrior with one very intriguing trait, and has a heavy amount of lore to draw upon from the Diablo series. In short, he's a perfect candidate for the game, and Blizzard has been on a roll since debuting Kael'Thas, Johanna, and Butcher respectively.

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.

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...

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...

Some quick thoughts on League of Legends' Braum and Gnar

Aug 18 // Chris Carter
[embed]279768:55330:0[/embed] Braum is the latest mustachioed hero to hit League of Legends, and his design fits the game perfectly. Although his "dragonslayer" skin isn't really worth buying, his standard skin is one of the stronger models in League, and the fact that he uses his giant shield as a weapon is hilarious. Braum's moves are straightforward -- he has a slowing projectile, a shield dash (just like a few other support characters), a blocking ability, and a straight-line pop-up ultimate. On paper, all of these powers have been seen before, but in tandem, they all meld very well. A lot of people prefer to play as a carry for more glory by way of kills, but I think it's incredibly satisfying to set up teammates with kills instead. Braum has a lot of tools in his shed, including his passive stun, his Q slow, and his ultimate pop-up. One of my favorite new things in League is dashing towards a teammate with Braum's W, then putting up his E shield to block an incoming attack that would hit multiple players. Braum is a true support character, and definitely a fun addition to the game -- it helps to play him with friends though, rather than random people who may not gel with the support type. Having said that, I wouldn't expect a whole lot from Braum in terms of originality -- especially after seeing what Gnar brings to the table. I'd only recommend him to support junkies. [embed]279768:55329:0[/embed] Gnar is a unique champion, and one that I fell in love with after my first game with him. Billed as a yordle that was born a "millennia ago," Gnar was frozen in ice, and has a passive "Rage Gene" that allows him to transform into a giant beast. The catch: "rage" is the key word here, as he gains power by way of a separate bar to transform into said beast -- and he can't really control when the transformation takes place (although you'll see the bar approach 100/100 and you'll get a transformation imminent animation). As such, you'll have access to a Jekyll and Hyde character of sorts, one who is super fast but fragile, and the other who is slow but tanky. Gnar's standard form is quick, allowing constant speed boosts and even a "hop" move that lets him escape and pursue. His boomerang power is one of my favorite skillshots, as it allows him to "catch" the projectile to shorten the cooldown, or let it run to potentially hit more enemies. It's perfect for laning and harassing -- since it slows the first enemy it touches. The "Mega" version of Gnar has access to similar moves, but instead of a swift boomerang and an agile hop, he throws boulders and slams the ground. It's really fun to do well as the tiny version, then all of a sudden have access to Mega Gnar, run in, and wreck shop with all your new cooldowns. That's not to say that he's easy to play, as any player can run down the tiny Gnar (which you'll be playing as most of the time) and slice him to bits in seconds. You have to play conservatively and run in at the right times, sometimes with split-second decisions in tow, which makes Gnar a really fun champion to play, and a great unpredictable addition to League of Legends. He's also easy to pick up at first since his core form has two passive-like skills -- so you only really have to master his hop and boomerang initially.
LoL champion hands-on photo
The two newest champions
I've been covering every new League of Legends champion for over a year now, but ever since Braum dropped, I haven't had the chance to really get in and play as many ranked games as I would have liked due to a few other ...

LoL VelíKoz photo
LoL VelíKoz

Impressions: League of Legends: Vel Koz

The Eye of the Void vies for your Riot Points
Mar 14
// Chris Carter
Riot keeps introducing new League of Legends champions, and we keep trying them out. The newest addition to the Summoner's Rift is Vel'Koz -- The Eye of the Void. He's a bit out of place in many ways, with an aesthetic design that isn't normally utilized in in the game, and likewise, he's a bit unconventional in terms of gameplay.
LoL Yasuo photo
LoL Yasuo

Impressions: League of Legends: Yasuo

The Unforgiven vies for your Riot Points
Dec 16
// Chris Carter
Samurais -- am I right? In the world of gaming, the "ronin/wandering samurai" trope is one of the most overused character designs I can think of, especially in the early 2000s, with the host of samurai-centric games on the or...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

Impressions: League of Legends: Jinx

The Loose Cannon vies for your Riot Points
Oct 16
// Chris Carter
With the League of Legends 2013 Championship out of the way, it's time to get back to the grindstone and start testing out some new characters. The first post-Finals addition is Jinx, the "Loose Cannon," and she's...interesti...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

Impressions: League of Legends: Lucian

The Purifier vies for your Riot Points
Sep 10
// Chris Carter
The League of Legends train won't stop running anytime soon, as Riot Games is still keen on constantly updating the game with new champions. The gunslinging paladin Lucian is the latest champion on the block, poised to compet...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

Impressions: League of Legends: Aatrox

The Darkin Blade vies for your Riot Points
Jun 17
// Chris Carter
I wasn't blown away with the previous addition to League of Legends, Lissandra, but as soon as I laid eyes on Aatrox, I knew I had to take him for a spin. With a giant pulsing blade, demonic looking wings and mysterious past, the sky was the limit for Aatrox. Yep, he plays just as cool as he looks.
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

Impressions: League of Legends: Lissandra

The ice witch vies for your Riot Points
May 07
// Chris Carter
League of Legends has just launched a new champion, which means many of you are considering digging out your wallets and forking over the cash or in-game IP to have the chance to try her out. This time, it's another caster ce...

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