Tag: Blizzard

The Best Blizzard Games For Esports Competitions

The Best Blizzard Games For Esports Competitions

Blizzard Entertainment is a true titan of the gaming scene and it has understandably carved out an enviable position in the burgeoning world of esports. The iconic developer and publisher has been releasing cult titles since it was founded by a trio of UCLA graduates in 1991 and it is now part of America’s largest gaming company. Activision Blizzard boasted revenue of $7.5 billion in 2018 and Blizzard Entertainment games played a huge part in that strong performance.

Nowadays, it is hugely important for publishers to crack the competitive gaming scene as it is extremely lucrative and leading esports enjoy remarkable longevity. Blizzard Entertainment may have lost the rights to Dota 2–one of the world’s most popular esports–to Valve Corporation in a bitter dispute, but it still possesses a formidable stable of giants in the competitive gaming scene.

Here are its five most important titles:

Overwatch

Blizzard released this multiplayer first-person shooter to global acclaim in 2016, with reviewers praising its class-based combat, polished gameplay, and utterly magnificent artwork. Overwatch was hailed as fun, accessible and extremely well-made, and it became an instant classic.

It pits teams featuring soldiers, mercenaries, scientists, and adventurers against one another in the near future, and it is perfectly set up for the sort of intense multiplayer action that lends itself well to competitive gaming.

The Blizzard team did not initially set out to create a new esport, but they soon recognized its potential in this field. The first organized, prize-winning competitions were launched just a few months after the game’s release, and ESL quickly put together the Overwatch Atlantic Showdown. At Blizzcon 2016, Blizzard announced that it would launch the Overwatch League as a result of intense demand from fans. It began in 2018 and boasted a $3.5 million prize pool, instantly catapulting Overwatch into the top 10 most lucrative esports for gamers to compete in.

The first season proved to be a smashing success, as London Spitfire beat Philadelphia Fusion at the Grand Finals in New York’s Barclays Center to become the first league champions.

Intel and HP were the league’s first sponsors, before Toyota got on board, while ABC, ESPN, and Disney XDaired contests live. The prize pool was increased to $5 million for the 2019 season and new franchises joined from across the world, ensuring competitive Overwatch gaming as it continued to soar.

Hearthstone

This free-to-play digital card game dazzled critics when it was launched in 2016. Eurogamer gave it a perfect 100 score and said it was “overflowing with character and imagination, feeds off and fuels a vibrant community of players and performers, and it only stands to improve as Blizzard introduces new features”. The game builds upon the Warcraft lore, so it instantly appealed to a huge group of fans, and it reeled in all manner of gamers thanks to its fun, accessible, fast-paced gameplay.

It is also blessed with sophistication, subtlety and a high skill ceiling that has enabled it to become one of the world’s most popular esports game. It was behind only LoL, CS:GO, Dota 2, and Overwatch in Twitch viewing hours in 2018, with Heroes of the Storm in sixth and StarCraft II seventh in a strong showing for Blizzard.

Wagering on esports has become a hugely important factor in the growth of this nascent scene, as many fans love to grab a stake in the action. Dedicated betting sites like https://unikrn.com/bet offer a huge range of markets in esports, and Hearthstone is one of the most important titles in this regard. It now faces intense competition from the digital version of Magic The Gathering Arena, but Hearthstone has a loyal following and it should continue to flourish in future.

StarCraft II

This is the most established esport in the Blizzard roster, as there have already been more than 5,000 professional StarCraft 2 tournaments. A grand total prize money of $30 million has been dished out to 1,900 pros over the years, and it is another important esport for wagering purposes. The game was launched all the way back in 2010 but, like LoL and Dota 2, it has achieved fantastic longevity thanks to its popularity within the competitive gaming scene.

It is a real-time strategy game that continues the epic saga of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg as they wage battle across the galaxy. StarCraft II was released on a free-to-play basis as of November 2017, with microtransactions for skins, voice packs, and so on, making it a commercial success.

Professional play began upon its launch and, after a blip that lasted for a couple of years, it is going strong once more. The last three World Championship Series have carried prize pools of $700,000 and it also recently featured at IEM Katowice 2019, with a $400,000 contest.

Heroes of the Storm

This multiplayer online battle arena game sees legendary heroes and villains from WarCraft, StarCraft, Overwatch, and Diablo summoned to the Nexus to fight for glory. The MOBA genre is arguably the most important to the world of esports, thanks to the success of League of Legends and Dota 2. Since it was released in 2015, Heroes of the Storm has emerged as a serious contender to those leading titles in the popularity stakes, thanks to its varied gameplay and strong cast of characters.

It has already seen prize money in the excess of $18 million at its professional tournaments, making it the sixth most lucrative esports in history. However, Blizzard made the shocking announcement in December 2018 that it was canceling the Heroes Global Championship for 2019. An overwhelming sense of sadness and betrayal were the dominant emotions among pros, yet there is still hope that a competitive scene may be revived for this popular title someday.

Warcraft 3

The original Dota as a custom map creation within Warcraft 3, so that Blizzard execs could feel aggrieved at its success in esports with Valve. Warcraft 3 itself never enjoyed such a strong scene, although it has seen 1,300 tournaments and prize money reaching $5.4 million over the years.

The game was released in 2002 and it is now a grand dame of the industry, but Warcraft 3 Reforged will be released this year and that could give the title a fresh injection of life.

It will boast improved graphics, new dialogue, and better pathfinding, which could make it more appealing as an esport. There are still tournaments going on, but some fans would prefer Blizzard to stop spending so much time remasteringWarcraft 3 and instead channel its efforts into developing a fourth entry in the popular series. Warcraft 4 really could take the esports world by storm.

***DISCLAIMER***

This article is a Guest Post written by James Metcalfe from Unikrn.com

How the Storytelling of WoW Keeps Evolving

For over 14 years now, World of Warcraft has remained to only be active, but relevant as a whole in the gaming community. While it did not define the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) genre that we have today, it continues to be a part of it. More importantly, it continues to evolve with it. With the release of its seventh expansion, Battle for Azeroth, WoW boasts a thriving fanbase, along with tons of third-party marketplaces selling WoW accounts, WoW Gold and boosting services. However, there’s one thing that the players all agree on—the storytelling of the lore has definitely improved.

Storytelling in WoW: Then & Now

Game storytelling doesn’t get much more epic than the Warcraft universe. With the franchise turning 25 years old soon and having released the seventh expansion, World of Warcraft stories have been told as a fantasy world set in conflict. Epic struggles, each with grand heroes and vicious villains push players into the spotlight while these wars raged, with the players protecting the safety of the virtual lands they live on. And since then, players have been held in captive awe as to how Blizzard has told its stories since the early days. Mind you that they’ve managed to evolve their stories to keep up with the changing tastes and technologies of the time and to keep the players immersed and entertained.

How Battle of Azeroth Keeps Things Entertaining

Back when World of Warcraft launched Facebook, Youtube, or smartphones weren’t even in existence. WoW was the first MMORPG to have a social network, with the millions of players playing the game.  Since then, the newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, has taken place in the shadow of the opening act for World of Warcraft, the War of the Thorns. In this event, both Horde and Alliance players head to the Night Elf territory of Darkshore to take part in the battle. Eventually, the Alliance falls back and the Horde claims Darnassus, the capital city of the Night Elves. Sylvanas Wind runner, the Horde Warchief, then makes the decision to burn Darnassus down while still full of civilians in an unprecedented act of genocide. Whether you choose to be a member of the Alliance of the Horde is up to you.

Blizzard decided to mix things up on patch 8.1, Tides of Vengeance. A quest line called the Fate of Saurfangwill now have a rare player choice inside it. When players meet up with Zekhan, they’ll now have an option to either accept his quest or reject it. Accepting the quest will have it play out like normal, but a rejection leads players down a darker, more loyal path. Upon rejecting Zekhan, loyal Horde players will be given a quest to return to Sylvanas and tell her of this treachery. Sylvanas then reveals that she has “special plans” for Zekhan, which doesn’t sound particularly good for anyone.

Wrap Up

While World of Warcraft has offered light choices like this in the past, these quests usually revolve around the character (or an NPC) killing someone. The choice with Zekhan is far more involved than most other World of Warcraft choices, especially since it has the potential to drastically impact the narrative.

Ultimately, the ability for characters to choose which sides to serve, Saurfang or Sylvanas, is fantastic. It’s exciting, new, and may lead to a whole new avenue that’ll eventually open up WoW to more people. The question is what comes next? How will this new method of storytelling be used for both sides? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to take more than a branching story to create a satisfying ending for those who are hyped for the new expansion.

Classic PC Titles That Continue to Withstand the Test of Time

Classic PC Titles That Continue to Withstand the Test of Time

Timelessness is the one characteristic that separates a classic title from games that come a dime-a-dozen. For a game to truly stand the test of time, however, it needs constant innovation. Moreover, it needs to do so without compromising the core qualities that made it such a standout in the first place. It doesn’t matter if a game may seem dated because of grainy graphics or its mechanics are somewhat passé. It all boils down to the gaming experience that people can take from it. From niche crowds, right up to the mainstream, the world of gaming is strewn with titles that embody the word longevity.

Today, we’ll take a look at a few classic PC titles that continue to stand up to the test of time–80s and 90s PC games that embody versatility and longevity. While there are certainly others that fit the bill as well, we narrowed our choices down to the top three most relevant titles in terms of overall impact in gaming culture and current mainstream relevance.

Ultima Online

The Ultima series had already had numerous iterations—with each release proving to be more successful than its predecessor—under its belt before Origin Systems finally decided to hop on the online bandwagon. The result was Ultima Online which was rolled out way back in 1997 as one of the most highly-touted Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. To create a buzz, the game was kicked off with the assassination of (producer) Richard Garriot’s avatar during a stress test.

With multiple Guinness records and a rich history to boot, Ultima Online certainly fits the bill as a timeless masterpiece. While the initial subscriber expectation was set at a meager 15,000, it actually reached an excess of 120,000 subscribers after a year. With such numbers, it’s should come as no surprise that it still has steam.

Starcraft

Released all the way back in 1998, Starcraft is amazingly still being updated even two decades later. Though when you think about it, it really should come as no surprise. Gaining a solid fan base right from the get-go—to the tune of 1.5 million copies sold in 1998—it still rides high after 20 years. Starcraft’s appeal and cultural impact is undeniable as it is far-reaching.

A timeless game needs to change with the times while retaining the key components that made it appealing to the masses in the first place. With all the updates over the years, Blizzard Entertainment managed to make Starcraft as relevant today as it was back in the Nineties.

Genesis

Here’s the oldest of our trifecta of classics that refuse to succumb to Father Time: Genesis. In fact, Genesis is so old-school, it’s actually a text-based game! Back in 1989, very few people—if at all—knew about the internet. It was during such Jurassic conditions that a group of savvy Swedish students created the game. It didn’t stay a humble game, though. As the internet grew, so did the game. As a result, there are over 60 guilds for players to join, and a sprawling expanse of the world—including Middle Earth and the Forgotten Realms—to explore.

A great game can be found practically anywhere. You don’t even need to get in on the latest releases to enjoy a fully immersive experience. Do yourself a favor and indulge in these retro games before time finally catches up and snatches them away from us. Enjoy!

Path of Exile – A Challenger Appears to Diablo III

Path of Exile

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Diablo III has accumulated plenty of sins since it was first released in 2012. From the Auction House debacle to the seasonal resets, there has been no end to the criticism leveled on Blizzard. Despite all that, Diablo III remains the king of the isometric ARPG loot grind and no others have even come close. Things are different now, however, since Path of Exile has come into the ring and is proving to be a tough and true contender for Diablo III’s crown.

The Classic System with Modern Roots

Path of Exile is not ashamed to say that it took its core gameplay from Diablo; naturally, there’s no way around the loot crawl without acknowledging the original. However, the Diablo franchise has seen better days in the heyday of Diablo II and the original, despite the arguable relative success of Diablo III today.

Path of Exile comes from the same family of games, but it does more to separate itself from its cousins and ancestry. For one, PoE manages to stand out by making some very unique classes and combat mechanics; these focus on gem equipment in order to determine skills in combat.

There are six basic classes in the game; Marauder, Ranger, Duelist, Shadow, Templar, and Witch. These all ultimately have an analogue in Diablo III save for some unique differences. Regardless, the game is easy enough to pick up by the Diablo veteran or the genre newbie since each class performs a specific role akin to the holy trinity found in ARPGs like these.

The one thing that PoE does well is its ability to imitate the tropes and trends of Diablo, without becoming too much like Diablo. Enemies of the same quality are there with blue-named enemies being a “rarer” genus than white ones. Gold would be the enemies that may or may not completely destroy you. From the basic shuffling demon to the irreverent demon, many of these enemies will be familiar to fans of the genre. This is a good thing. PoE manages to replicate the same things people enjoyed in Diablo and other isometric ARPGs, while being able to keep it unique with its Dark Souls-inspired aesthetic and feel. This way, PoE does not manage to alienate a whole player base who may think that the original did it better, and it manages to be intriguing enough to draw in the genre newbie.

Perhaps the only downside to PoE is its Xbox One port. It is not awful in any sense, but it certainly could be better. Diablo III’s console ports are very fleshed out and polished, but this is the first time Grinding Gear Games went for a port of their flagship game, thus this was expected. There is not any cross-platform play, but that is also expected. This is due to the different balancing of the peripheral differences for controller and mouse and keyboard. Being out on the Xbox One for only a year, PoE will still find plenty of improvements on a console and, if Grinding Gear Games finds enough reason, even cross-platform play.

The best thing about PoE, however, is that it is completely free-to-play along with all seven expansions currently released. You do not have to spend a single dollar to be able to experience the breadth of content it has. It does have a cash shop as is standard in F2P games, but everything that could be purchased there is mere vanity items that do nothing to improve your game. Grinding Gear Games is one of those developers that took an ethical stance with cash shops, by maintaining that there will never be an advantageous purchase over another player that does not want to spend a dime on PoE. Perhaps the only somewhat essential item on the cash shop is the extra bank space that would not normally be purchasable with in-game PoE currency. However, many players would find this forgivable as it is not a game-changing thing. It will make your dungeon crawling considerably easier though.

Just Like Diablo But More

It is very similar in scope and size to the Diablo franchise with its sprawling, loot-laden dungeons and drop-in/drop-out co-op where enemies scale according to the number of players. However, there is much more content in PoE due to Grinding Gear Games’ penchant for releasing updates and expansions on a regular basis. PoE is already up to its seventh expansion in the form of War for the Atlas. There is a whole slew of things to do and explore – much more than Diablo III’s meager vanilla game and its single expansion, Reaper of Souls.

With an interesting storyline and hours upon hours of fun, Path of Exile is proving to be a serious contender for Diablo III’s crown as the undisputed king of isometric ARPGs. It is a wonder how PoE does not have the same level of fame as its predecessor. Grinding Gear Games simply does not have the advertising power Blizzard has since it is an indie company. If you would like a break from Diablo III’s seasonal resets, you may want to give PoE a try for a fresh take on the ARPG genre.