Welcome to Not So Massively, our weekly roundup of the top news from popular multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) and other multiplayer online games that aren’t quite MMOs. Published every Monday, the column covers games such as League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Rise of Immortals, Bloodline Champions and more.
League of Legends officially launched its new capture-point Dominion game mode today, following a short and successful beta and bringing fresh gameplay to a genre still largely dominated by standard DotA mechanics. And this week Heroes of Newerth released hilarious new tank hero Cthulhuphant, a highly mobile jungler with the ability to use enemy creeps as stunning projectiles.
Diablo III has never really had a firm release date, but developers at Blizzard have been aiming for a 2011 release. This week we learned that release has been pushed back to a rough window of early 2012. Bloodline Champions also revealed details of a new avatar design contest this week, and Blacklight: Retribution released the first in a new series of dev diaries.
Skip past the cut for details of this week’s biggest news from the world of MOBAs and other online games that aren’t quite MMOs.
The big day has arrived for League of Legends fans as League of Legends: Dominion officially launched today following a short beta period. Developers promised a 2011 release for the new game mode, but I doubt anyone expected release before the end of September. Dominion turns standard MOBA gameplay on its head by introducing capture points, super-powerful creeps and buff-giving relics.
To celebrate the release, Riot Games has released a new Dominion spotlight video explaining the game mode’s main gameplay concepts and the differences between it and the standard DotA-style gameplay. If one team controls more capture points than the other, the losing team’s Nexus will continually take damage. Each team’s Nexus starts the game with 500 health, and the game is over when one or the other reaches zero hit points.
Dominion’s fast-paced gameplay calls for altered game balance, with some items removed from play, several new Dominion-only items introduced, and a map-wide aura providing stat tweaks. Players start with a few free levels and a much greater amount of gold than in a standard game, and players constantly gain gold and XP over time at a high enough rate that getting killed or taking time out from farming won’t make you fall significantly behind other players. For more information about this new game mode, check out the full Dominion spotlight video below:
Heroes of Newerth released a new hero this week based on the winner of a design contest at webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del. The hilarious Cthulhuphant is a melee tank focused on jungling and turning the tide of teamfights. His second ability, Hook ’em, acts as a free Alchemist’s Bones, instantly killing a creep for its normal level of gold and experience. A 30-second shield is erected on Cthulhuphant based on the health of the creep killed, reducing damage from creeps and heroes in the direction it faces. This makes Cthulhuphant a fantastic jungler right from level 1.
Trample is a directional stampede move similar to Kraken’s charge, except that creeps hit by the stampede are thrown forward as projectiles that each stun enemy heroes for one second. Cthulhuphant’s third ability, Mortifying Presence, applies a movement and attack speed slow in a 500-unit area around him. The slow increases in strength for a short time when enemy creeps or heroes are killed, making Cthulhuphant the perfect initiator for fights near creeps.
Cthulhuphant’s ultimate, Obliterate, makes a series of area-effect nukes appear in front of him every second. He can move while the ultimate is active and aim each blast individually, making the move perfect for shutting down a team fight when combined with Mortifying Presence.
Unlike the previous few heroes, Cthulhuphant has been released immediately to the free player pool rather than going through the typical early access purchase period. Check out the hero spotlight video below for more details.
With all the recent news coming out on Blizzard’s upcoming online action RPG Diablo III, fans have been expecting a December release in time for the holiday season. This week Blizzard disappointed fans of the series with an announcement that the 2011 release target had been pushed back to a rough target of early 2012. Developers got together to ask the important question of whether the game would be ready for a December release, and ultimately they decided that the game demanded more attention than that would allow.
The up-side of delaying launch is that Diablo III will spend much more time in beta, giving more people access to test the game and allowing players to provide more feedback before the game is launched.
Last month we introduced Blacklight: Retribution, a new online FPS featuring MMO elements like classes, experience gains, customisable skill trees and a full gear system. This week, publisher Perfect World Entertainment released the first of an ongoing series of video dev diaries to introduce people to the game. Check out the video below for new information on character customisation and the weapon depot system:
Following last week’s colossal Dawn of the Relics overhaul, this week Bloodline Champions launched a new avatar contest giving players the opportunity to get a character featured in the game as an alternate avatar for a current Bloodline. A total of 75,000 blood coins are available for the prize fund, with a top prize of 20,000 coins. For full details of the contest, check out the official contest post on the Bloodline Champions website. Three winners have been chosen for the recent replay contest; check out the video below to see the winning contributions:
Rise of Immortals released its second spotlight video this week, featuring popular ganker Kyrie, the Blade of Vengeance. Petroglyph also released a video of the new in-game tutorial this week, explaining everything from basic movement and combat mechanics to classic DotA gameplay.