Tag Archives: expansion

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Gets Release Date; Pre-Orders Available Now

Blizzard has officially announced the release date of their upcoming StarCraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm, as well as opened up digital pre-ordered at battle.net. This new expansion makes a great deal of changes to the multiplayer game and UI elements of StarCraft as well as continuing the epic single-player campaign that began with Wings of Liberty.

Players of other Blizzard titles will also fine additional incentive to pre-order the Digital Deluxe edition of Heart of the Swarm, by unlocking a Baneling minipet for World of Warcraft, additional profile pictures and a new Ultralisk skin for StarCraft II and Queen of Blades hero wings and sigil addons for Diablo III. Players who pre-order the digital deluxe will also unlock many of these features immediately, except for the expansion itself.

The standard expansion will be available on March 12, 2013 nationwide.

GKick Review: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

It’s been two years since Blizzard announced their previous expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm. The expansion that was eagerly anticipated and highly regarded at the start gradually became one of the most slow-paced and, to many, disappointing expansions ever released. To say that WoW players are approaching Mists of Pandaria with apprehension is an understatement. However, after exploring the land of Pandaria and all of the content currently at my disposal, I can safely say that Mists of Pandaria is off to a far better start.

Mists of Pandaria is the 4th expansion for the World of Warcraft series and invites max level players to tackle a brand new continent of challenges known as “Pandaria”. The expansion also introduces the land’s local species and new playable race, the Pandaren, a species of Asian-inspired humanoid Pandas who serve not only as the majority of NPCs throughout the world but are also playable for both Alliance and Horde, the first time such an option has ever been allowed or introduced.

In addition, players can now choose a new class, the first since Death Knights in Wrath of the Lich King and the first new class to begin at level 1 since the game’s launch in 2004, the Monk. Monks are a hybrid class with the versatility to specialize in melee damage, tanking or healing. All this and features such as Pet Battles, farming, Challenge Mode dungeons, Scenarios, new dungeons and raids and much, much more. These features give players from 1 to 90 a plethora of content to explore and compete in, making Mists of Pandaria one of the most versatile launches in World of Warcraft history.

When I first dove into the new expansion, it was midnight Pacific, the instant the servers went live for the North American realms. At that moment, me and several thousand of my closest friends all tried to turn in the first quest and begin our journey to Pandaria. Things were off to a rough start as the initial quest, which puts you in an on-rails style shooter behind the wheel of a gyrocopter, was clearly shown to have weaknesses as a launch night bottleneck. The quest, which requires you to use the rockets on your copter to kill Horde, destroy machinery and sink two warships was plagued by slow respawns of key destroyable targets and hundreds of players attempting to do those quests at the same time. Even a built-in queue system couldn’t help and it took some players upwards of several hours to complete just this first – and only – quest.

However, once we were past the first quest, I could safely say that I was – and have been – impressed by the flow, quest design, rewards and more of Pandaria. Climbing my way to 90 has been fun and the new continent and race has provided an incredible amount of flavor and color to a world that has needed something beyond “scary dragons and fire” for a few years. Quests are typical fare for WoW – go here, kill X amount of this, find this, discover this, and so on. But the rewards system has been overhauled to a method very similar to modern MMOs, where instead of offering the same variety of gear to every player, the rewards are tied in specifically to your active specialization. While this does make off-spec gearing a bit challenging at lower levels, it’s nice to always get a decent reward – or at least a functional reward – from a quest.

One of my favorite elements of the reward system has been the collection of fun, flavor items. I’ve already earned a handful of items that do playful little things such as paint other players orange or spawn turnip punching bags, rewards that may take up a bit of bank space but still provide something more interesting than a helm or cloak or bracer that I can’t even use. Beyond that, the functional rewards have been great and versatile enough to help build my stats in a specific way.

Blizzard tried something a little different by directing every player into one quest hub at level 85 and only splitting them apart in the next zone, where players can choose from one of two hubs (or do both, if they desire). It seemed to me that, even with the massive amount of players, the only real hiccup was with the starting quest. Most of the other quests were easily manageable due to dynamic respawn timers on quest mobs and item spawns.

Aside from Pandaria, I also experienced the new class and race as I rolled out a new Pandaren Monk. The starting hub for Pandaren is quick with rapid-fire questing, easy levels and a good introduction to your type of Pandaren. The evolution of the starting quest chain leading to your decision to join the Horde or Alliance is well-designed and at least I didn’t get any rotten fruit thrown at me when I travelled to Stormwind to see the King. The new class should be incredibly interesting and fun, and while I still have a lot more to explore with it, I think folks may have a lot of fun with it going forward.

But beyond all that, with all of the Patch 5.0 changes, there’s a whole new game out there to explore. But let’s take a much closer look at the game.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Closed Beta Begins

The invites are beginning to roll out for the upcoming StarCraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm, as Blizzard has begun the closed beta session for the upcoming RTS title.

Players should be receiving notification in their Battle.net emails or will find the beta already added to their Battle.net Account Management page. In order to be entered into the beta, players should make sure their Beta Profile is up-to-date on their account page and some players who participated in the StarCraft II Arcade Beta will also receive early access.

This new expansion to StarCraft II adds a handful of new units to all three races as well as general gameplay and UI changes to improve the overall experience.

Stay tuned to GKick.net for more information on the Heart of the Swarm beta as it develops.

World of Warcraft: All Races Available With Patch 5.0.4, Regardless of Expansion

Blizzard announced today that, with the release of their upcoming major Patch 5.0.4, all current races will be available to any and all new players regardless of their current expansion status. This means that even players who only own the original World of Warcraft game will still be able to create new Blood Elves, Draenei, Goblins, Worgen and Pandaren (starting September 25th).

This change does not effect leveling zones or classes, however. That means in order to create Death Knight or Monk characters - or level beyond 70 - you will need the proper associated expansion pack (Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm or Mists of Pandaria).

World of Warcraft Patch 5.0.4 is scheduled to launch on Tuesday, August 26th during the regular weekly maintenance cycle. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will be available starting September 25th worldwide.

The Last 1%

Blizzard has said in a new report recently that the new Starcraft II expansion pack ‘The Heart of the Swarm’ is on the verge of being ready for a beta test, with the programming almost complete.

Lead designer Dustin Browder is quoted as saying: “We are 99% done,” he says,  “but that last 1%’s a bitch.”

The units are in place, ready to go and the game missions are playable, but that last bit is very much the spit and polish. This is where the company very much reaches into the unknown and where things can pop up. But this is what beta tests are for, and I’m pretty sure that our very own Steve Perry is excited to be one of the lucky people in the test.

Dustin continues : “Like we could do a play-through next week that we’re like, ‘Wow this is really great.’ Or we could do a play-through and we still have 250 items we wanna fix. You know, historically speaking we’re doing pretty well. We’re getting there. But I don’t know for sure yet when we’ll be done.”

So as we all know, Blizzard is famous for their time. As we know, Soon™ 😉

Blizzard’s Heart of The Swarm Multiplayer Preview

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about Blizzard’s two HoTS Multiplayer VODs. Casted by Day[9] and Rob Simpson, the two go through a full ZvT and ZvP with most of the new units. There are definitely a lot of new tactics and strategies avaliable, with Zerg even getting what appears to be a new late-game unit composition.

One thing to keep in mind is that the balance team has decided to start the units off really strong, and then scale them back as need be as opposed to starting weak and scaling up. This means the damage, ranges, or even abilities could be changed or removed. It’s still in the testing phase so anything seen in the video might not be there or might be changed once HoTS finally drops.

Here are a few of the high-lights from the videos:

Hydras: These things are fast. It’s kind of ridiculous now. Once you hit Hive Techyou can research a movement speed buff that makes them just as fast off creep as they are when they are on it. They are now really easily micro-able, reminiscent of how they were in Brood War. They look really powerful, doing hit an runs with their amazing DPS and escaping easily when the enemy arrives. Looks awesome.

Vipers: The new Zerg caster unit. Abduct looks awesome, able to pull key units of your opponent into the jaws of your swarmy army and take them out. It works especially well with Lings and the new faster Hydras, preventing the units from retreating back to their friends. The Blinding Cloud ability is only usable against biological units, but it’s going to help a lot when Terran starts massing up Marine balls.

Swarm Host: This is the new Zerg siege unit. It’s an interesting take on the role, as this thing does slow sustained damage by spawning small, free ranged units rather than doing bursty damage like the Siege Tank or Colossus. If you can get enough of them together, combined with spines they seem like they’ll be able to lock down positions really well.

Widow Mine: This thing looks a little ridiculous right now. It can one-shot queens, they do AoE damage, and they are only 75min 25gas. Luckily there is a 10 second or so delay before the mines actually explode, so microing your army to make the mines less cost efficient shouldn’t be too hard. Still, if you aren’t careful you can lose valuable units like Queens or Infestors to a cheap factor unit. You can also build them 2 at a time with a Reactor.

Oracle: Protoss’s new economy harassing unit. It’ll be interesting to see if they change this one. Right now they can move into range of mineral patches, and use spell to lock them down with a shield, forcing the opponent to break them down before the mineral patches can be used again. In the ZvP video, spines were used to that the player didn’t have to manually tell his units to break the shields. It looks a bit powerful right now if you aren’t paying attention. It can also cloak your units, but it has to stay stationary to work.

Tempest: It’s a flying 22 range siege unit. And it flies. \ o.O/

Over all it looks pretty awesome. More units means more options. Excited to see what changes and what stays the same!

ZvT VoD

ZvP VoD

E3: Frogster Releases Cinematic Trailer for Runes of Magic: Chapter V

With all the E3 buzz floating around, one of the highlights of this week  amidst all of the chaos has to be this new cinematic trailer that Frogster has unveiled. It’s actually one of the most beautiful trailers that has been released this past week and a lot of work has definitely gone into it. The guys over at Runewaker Entertainment really deserve a applause.

 

Runes of Magic: Fires of Shadowforge is slated for a June 12 release with a new playable race, two new playable classes, three new high level dungeons and much, much more. You can expect this new chapter in Runes of Magic to be packed full of extra content and new environments to explore.

On another note, I wonder if Blizzard is going to sue over this?

Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard Legendary Edition On Sale

If you were looking to purchase Turbine’s latest expansion, Rise of Isengard, for their hit game, Lord of the Rings Online, today your in luck! Right now from lotro.com you can order the Rise of Isengard Legendary Edition for half off it’s pricey $50 price tag. I purchased it as soon as I heard about it and am very pleased with the amount of content I got for 50% off.

Ordering Rise of Isengard Legendary Edition will unlock the following items for you:

  • Three Rohirrim styled mounts
  • Three Rohirrim styled armor sets
  • An in-game title, Guard of the Isen
  • Path of the Fellowship Quest pack, including five other pricey quest packs
  • 1,000 Turbine Points to spend in the Lord of the Rings Online Store

This is a limited time sale, so I would get your copy as soon as possible!

Turbine Release More Info on Riders of Rohan

If you had been wondering what’s been going on with Turbine’s, Riders of Rohan, expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, just yesterday they released a trailer while also letting players pre-order the game. There are three types of Riders of Rohan you can pre-order with each one offering different pre-order and content bonuses. They are as followed:

  • Base Edition $39.99
  • Heroic Edition $49.99
  • Legendary Edition - $69.99

 

Riders of Rohan is the next chapter in the game’s epic and thrilling story based off of Tolkien’s critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy. The trailer in my opinion, is one of the best they’ve done to this date and is very much worth watching. I’d give it a look or two if I were you.

Lord of the Rings Online is a free-to-play MMORPG that originally released in 2007 and is still going strong. The game is open and available to everyone on lotro.com. No purchases are necessary to play the game.