The iPad version of Blizzard's all-conquering card-'em-up has just arrived on Apple's American and UK App Stores, having already been soft launched in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. You can get it by clicking here. But is the mobile version any good? And why, as PC gamers, should you care?
This Heartbleed stuff is no joke. The latest security flaw floating around the internet, which can compromise login information and super-secret data transmitted over OpenSSL protocols, has users terrified and content providers scrambling. Maybe you're concerned about your nightly Hearthstone arena runs or Malthael battles in Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls. But don't worry: Blizzard says you're in safe hands when you log into Battle.net.
"New interactive corners!" isn't a phrase you'd normally associate with an exciting announcement, but Blizzard's Hearthstone does have some proddable boards. The game's new corners are attached to a somewhat more significant announcement: a new singleplayer PvE mode. Curse of Naxxramas: A Hearthstone Adventure will challenge players to overcome five wings of the Warcraft dungeon—flinging their decks at a series of bosses, in order to earn brand new cards.
Diablo 3 is a game about clicking. If you see a place you want to go, you click. If you see an NPC you want to talk to, you click. If you see a goblin you want to incinerate with a cacophony of arcane effects, you click. With so much clicking, it'd be understandable if your frenzied fingers accidentally activated an unintended object. And if that object were a Nephalem Rift Obelisk, you'd waste some precious Keystone Fragments.
nightmare scenario mild inconvenience that no longer applies, thanks to the new 2.0.4 patch. It's a mighty update, that not only relocates the obelisks to a less mouse-attracting area, but also significantly rebalances every class.*
Blizzard's powerful Text Wall spell hit the Warlords of Draenor website late last week, conjuring a tome-sized post previewing planned class, ability, and content updates for the alpha version of World of Warcraft's fifth expansion. I would pull out the "too long, didn't read" excuse, but that got nerfed 10 press releases ago.
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls has already sold 2.7 million copies in its first week, a strong showing for Diablo 3’s first expansion. Though much-maligned as it struggled under spotty server connections and always-online DRM, Diablo 3 itself managed to sell around 6.3 million in its first week. In that context, Reaper of Souls has done quite well indeed.
I've entered into a strange love/hate relationship with Hearthstone over the past month, the upshot of which is I'm not sure whether I want to keep playing it anymore, and yet I find myself entirely incapable of stopping. Trying to improve my scattershot performance has drawn me into Hearthstone's 'meta game', where expert players create decks designed to beat the system. At least until the system changes and the cycle changes again.
I understand the desire for a lore-bending battle royale between Blizzard's various franchises. I also understand the desire for that all-star showdown to not take the form of a lane-pushing game. While Blizzard aren't about to create a 4X strategy, modders can certainly shoehorn their characters into an existing one. That's what has happened in Blizzard Allstars, which brings multiple of their factions into turn-based empire-'em-up Civilization 5: Gods & Kings.
Diablo 3 has occupied a substantial amount of my gaming time over the last couple of weeks. The loot 2.0 patch made all the difference, overhauling drop rates, item distribution and game difficulty in anticipation of the closure of the auction house. I liked the game on release but fell out of love with it due to well-documented problems with its endgame and economy. Now that they're gone, the game feels fresher than it has since launch.
Lead producer Alex Mayberry agrees. "It opens up the design for us, as well as the players" he says. "We have more options in our toolbox to design with. With Reaper of Souls, our designers are now looking towards the future and what more they can do with the game - having a new, open approach."
"Don't fear The Reaper," was the immortal advice of Blue Oyster Cult. And while perhaps that song was about coming to terms with the inevitability of death, it's also possible that they were instead advocating we attack Death's manifestation with a mixture of magic, piranhas, and magic piranhas. That's certainly a wish that can be fulfilled come today's release of Diablo 3's first expansion, Reaper of Souls.
The expansion is being rolled out in stages across the globe. Over the weekend, Blizzard announced the exact times that each region will unlock, giving you plenty of preparation for your dance with the reaper.
The heroes of Diablo 3 are preparing for the ultimate battle against the Angel of Death, and their terrible quest calls for blessed new powers. Those powers come in the form of mighty destructive abilities, like Vengeance, Epiphany, and, er, Piranhas? Yes, for all the bombast surrounding this new Reaper of Souls trailer, never forget that it's a game in which you can summon a pool of flesh-eating fish to deal with your enemies.
Going once! Going twice! Do I hear any final bids on this Stone of Jordan? Too late, because Diablo 3's controversial auction house has now closed. Blizzard have just posted to confirm the demise of both the Gold and Real Money Auction Houses. Their closure follows the release of the much-lauded patch 2.0.1, which added a new loot system specifically designed to "cut the legs out" from the game's marketplace.
While the Auction House window will remain in-game until June 24, it's only purpose now is to let former auctioneers access their "Completed" tab to pick up any previously listed items or gold. For details on the transition, and what has happened to any active listings, check out Blizzard's FAQ.
The impossible will soon come to pass: SimCity's offline mode is "almost there Mayors" and will arrive as part of Update 10, which is now in "final testing", according to the offical SimCity twitter account. The long, arduous journey of SimCity's offline mode (it's like The Hobbit but with DRM) will soon be over. With Blizzard finally ditching Diablo 3's stupid real-world auction house on March 18th, this is shaping up to be a particularly good week.
The prophets had warned us. They'd seen visions of planets aligning, of oceans running red with blood, of cats acting slightly crankier than usual. We ignored their cries, dismissing them as the deranged ramblings of fringe lunatics. And yet, it has come to pass: Blizzard have put a game on sale. It's a rare event for the developer, who tend to limit their discounts to the Black Friday Thanksgiving sales. But, with the impending release of Diablo 3's first expansion, the base game is getting a temporary reduction.
Blizzard announced you can now purchase a level 90 character boost in World of Warcraft for $60, confirming the price that leaked out last month. It’s the same boost you’ll get with a purchase of the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which Blizzard will sell for $50 (Standard Edition) or $70 (Digital Deluxe Edition).
I'm going to do an impression of the first minute of this Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls trailer. "Lore lore lore lore, Zakarum faith, lore lore." After the somewhat underwhelming opener, though, we finally get to the good stuff: an ability round-up of the expansion's new Crusader class. He's a tanking kind of character, with a taunt ability that will draw enemies' ire. That doesn't mean there's not plenty of power behind his mace-swinging arm.
Just a few days after Blizzard prophesized the impending end of Hearthstone's beta, it's decided to surprise everyone by releasing the Warcraft-ified online card battler after three months of testing. The game is free to play, and the only requirement to get started is to hit the giant purple Play Now button at the official site.
Blizzard could soon be giving the stamp of approval to their magic internet wizard cards. In a post on the Hearthstone forum, community manager Christina "Zeriyah" Sims revealed that the collectable card game's beta test was "drawing near to the end". While the free-to-play title is currently available to all in open beta, the approaching full release is a sign that the major fixes and balance tweaks are nearly complete, and should act as a good point for new players to jump on board.*
After 30 minutes with post-patch Diablo 3, Spyro the wizard is a new man. His new shoulder pads let him teleport back to town from the safety of an impenetrable energy bubble. The crotch slot of his new rare pants, called the "Bone Guard", is occupied by a radiant topaz that increases his intelligence. He'll be happiest with his new wand, though. The "Blackhand Key" boosts his arcane power, feeds him extra XP for every monster he melts, and looks like a glowing green animal spine. A coveted legendary spine, no less. Another juicy chunk of treasure, courtesy of the revamped loot system introduced by update 2.0.1.
The patch is great. This major update revamps the core loot systems on which the entire game runs, rejigs skills for every class, redesigns boss fights and adds new stuff, like cursed shrines and nephalem glory globes. The reams of changes are contained in lengthy patch notes on Battle.net, but the takeaway is simple. Diablo 3 is a much faster and more rewarding game than it was a week ago.
Uh-oh, we appear to have lost Tom to the siren song of gold and loot. Ever since the release of Diablo 3's latest patch, he's been furiously wizarding, reaping the benefits of targeted loot drops and an improved paragon levelling system. The patch, released in preparation for this month's Reaper of Souls expansion, has been further boosted with a limited time XP bonus event. Until March 24th, players will get a 50% boost to all earned XP.