Tag: Diablo

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

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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.

PoE Currency and the Skill System Set It Apart

PoE Currency and the Skill System Set It Apart

Path of Exile (PoE) is an MMO that’s highly inspired by Diablo II. It borrows gameplay and graphical elements, but ultimately, it’s a different game from Diablo. Choose from six different classes and one unlockable class. Players control their character through mouse clicks from an overhead view. Then they can explore Wraeclast and its various dungeons. Encampments, the game’s analog to towns, are hubs where players can meet and see each other, while dungeons are instanced to a player or group. While the storyline appears as somewhat dull, certain gameplay elements set it apart from other MMOs, especially the skill system, and the game’s economy.

The Skill System

Skills are earnable through crystals that players can put in equipment slots. As long as the crystal can be attached to an item socket, any class of character can use any skill. One caveat, though, is that slots and crystals are color coded. If the colors don’t match, then the crystal won’t fit, and the skill isn’t usable. The color variations force players to choose their equipment and abilities carefully because a better piece of equipment could be unsuited with the current skill set. Also, these talents are modifiable with support gems and passive skills, to an extent.

Passive skills are the general proficiencies earned through leveling up, and in some cases, as a quest reward. However, the passive skill tree is massive. In the spirit of player freedom, any character can potentially learn any ability. The problem is that there’s only a limited amount of skill points achievable. Trying to specialize or capitalize on one kind of playstyle could result in a character that’s not well-rounded. Skill resets are rare too, further hammering the importance of good decision making in choosing skills and equipment.

The Economy

There is no PoE currency (i.e., no in-game monetary system). Trade revolves around bartering certain items. These things are not random pieces of junk. Instead, stuff functions as equipment enhancers. Some effects are randomized, and results may vary when using them. Anyhow, items range from orbs, scrolls, shards, and fragments. They are easy to collect and useful as a major bartering resource.

With PoE’s financial system in place, there’s bound to be differences in prices. Let’s say Player A trades 3 orbs for armor, while Player B trades 5 orbs for the same armor. Both transactions are legal with a rate that both participants agree on. Some might think this is unfair, but as long as players are savvy and track the relative prices of items, good deals won’t be too hard to find.

Even though it’s highly discouraged, there’s a PoE currency trading market that utilizes real money, which makes it a convenient source for orbs, scrolls, and so on. With convenient, in-demand items and money, comes honesty and fraud. Anyone who gets caught with those unsavory individuals online is likely to lose money. Luckily, there are strong trading platforms. In fact, PlayerAuctions is the top dog for buying, selling, and trading online gaming products and services.

Path of Exile Leaves a Thumbprint

Many gamers are calling PoE as the “spiritual successor” of Diablo. No wonder why the game is still going strong in the MMO community. Building on what was established and putting a new spin to it makes PoE a great game. With its lush graphics, solid gameplay, and unusual skill system, any type of player can find something to enjoy. Besides, it’s free-to-play game to download. Let’s save the best for last: PlayerAuctions has some offers for PoE coins. Select what works best for you!