Dota 2 update brings the Bristleback

Phil Savage at

Dota 2 has been updated with its first new hero in six weeks. Rigwarl the Bristleback is the phlegm chucking pig-hedgehog thing in question. He's kind of what I imagine a dark, gritty reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog would look like. Except yellow. An initiator, Bristleback can slow enemies with a stacked attack, has a 360 degree spike attack, and location-based damage resistance.

GDC 2013: Creative Assembly announces the all-multiplayer Total War Arena

Omri Petitte at

During a talk at GDC today, Creative Assembly revealed a new direction for its Total War series: Total War Arena, a completely multiplayer and free-to-play combination of RTS and MOBA elements.

Bat-ass: Infinite Crisis is a DC Comics MOBA from Turbine

Omri Petitte at

Just about anything can be turned into a MOBA these days—gods, sequels, and even Gandalf. The spaghettified web of comic book worlds and their classic hero vs. villain pairings seems like a natural fit for the teamwork and ability synergy found in those games, and Turbine agrees, bridging characters from the DC comic books with MOBA mechanics in Infinite Crisis, which will be free to play later this year.

League of Legends now exceeds 5 million concurrent players at peak

Omri Petitte at

I think it's high time Riot changed the name of its MOBA juggernaut to Legion of Legends. The game's colossal numbers keep getting bigger, and after throwing around multiple instances of the word "million" back in October, Riot announced last week that 5 million players regularly get their junglin' on during peak hours.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (March 15-21, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: MLG Winter is finally here! Heart of the Swarm has launched, and now is as good a time as ever to start eSportsing. Plus, competitive gaming has earned itself a spot at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference. Have a look at all of this and more inside. gl hf!

Dota 2 hero concept art pictures rescued from Valve's clutches

Phil Savage at

When Valve invited Dota 2 caster Kevin 'Purge' Godec to their studio last week, they made a crucial rookie mistake: feeding him. That gave him all the power he needed to surge past their defence towers and snap pics of some upcoming hero concept art. Or possibly they gave him their blessing to share their plans with the community at large. There's just no way of knowing.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (March 8-14, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: the Swarm approaches, and vengeance is upon us all! By this time next week, we'll have a champion for the GSL and IEM, Heart of the Swarm will be burrowed on our hard drives... and that's just StarCraft. Get off one last inject on your hatch, then 1-A your way down into this week's eSports news. gl hf!

Dota 2 breaks Skyrim's record for most concurrent players on Steam

T.J. Hafer at

Last night, the (still technically unreleased) Dota 2 beta registered a peak of 297,000 players. This broke the previous record, set by Skyrim, by almost 10,000, making it the most-played game on Steam by concurrent users in history. With the rate they're sending out free keys, this doesn't really surprise me.

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (March 1-8, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: the death knell sounds for IPL6, but an announcement from QuakeCon gives us something different to look forward to. Things have come right down to the wire in The Defense 3 and the GSL, and the next MLG is right around the corner. There may be no better time this year to 6 pool or gank your friends into giving eSports a look. gl hf!

What to Watch: The Week in eSports (February 22-28, 2013)

T.J. Hafer at

This week in eSports: EVE Online gets its first ongoing, competitive league. The IPL could be changing hands. And only the final four remain in the GSL Code S. Get ready to face-check your weekly helping of competitive gaming news. gl hf!

Dota 2 introduces Hero Builds to teach you how to play

Phil Savage at

Since their launch last month, Steam's user-guides have provided an invaluable resource for community help. Want to learn how to effectively punch shit in Skyrim? The guides have got you covered. There's some useful stuff in there too. Probably.

What those guides haven't done, until now, is integrate meaningfully with a game. Dota 2 is changing this with Hero Builds, subscribable character guides that you can overlay in your game, for a real-time lesson in the abilities you should pick and the items you should buy. And unlike your team-mates in chat, it won't surround each instruction with frustrated expletives.

Maddest PC rigs ever? Your best entries for our Vulcan's Craftsman Challenge

Andy Hartup at

Last week, we set you the challenge of snapping pictures of your mad, powerful, custom PC rigs with the aim of winning a brand new Alienware TactX keyboard and mouse. It was all to celebrate the release of new God Vulcan (no, nothing to do with Star Trek) in MOBA game Smite.

League of Legends Season 3 begins, first Championship Series match on February 7

Omri Petitte at

Riot kicked off the third season of League of Legends' Championship Series today with a special treat for enthusiast summoners: LoL eSports, a new hub site for streaming upcoming matches for free and keeping tabs on team bios, play-by-plays, and the latest standings.

League of Legends Buyer's Guide

Josh Augustine at

Free-to-play cash shops can be treacherous terrain. You've got to avoid the money-sink traps on your way to finding the best value items for your playstyle—whether that's content, skins, or features. That's why we've put together this colorful treasure map to help you find the best loot for your buck in League of Legends. We use $50 (7200 RP) as the base investment most players make into their games, but we've also included a budget tier.

The price is Smite: win Alienware kit and free in-game stuff in Vulcan's Craftsman Challenge

Andy Hartup at

You like free things, right? Well good news – we’ve got an Alienware TactX mouse and keyboard to give away, and all you have to do is show us how awesome your personalised PC rig is. It’s all to celebrate the announcement of new god Vulcan in up-and-coming MOBA, Smite. Turns out Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, was pretty handy at knocking up bespoke stuff.

Sins of a Dark Age trailer shows Realm Quests, walking arrow pincushions

Omri Petitte at

Ironclad hopes its mixture of RPG with RTS in its MOBA Sins of a Dark Age will help it stand out from competitors such as League of Legends and Dota 2. The crux of this approach are Realm Quests, optional side-tasks which players can complete for team-wide boons and powerful items. In an explanatory trailer, Ironclad Producer Blair Fraser describes how Realm Quests work and how they influence the Hero-on-Hero clashes on the battlefield.

Steam concurrent users growing 300% faster than start of 2012, Dota 2 players rising steadily

Phil Savage at

Buckle up, because we're about to combine the two most exciting parts of PC gaming news: exponential user growth and graphs! Last Sunday, Steam hit 6.6 million concurrent users. It's an impressive figure, but what's really surprising is how it stacks up against previous totals. Back in January 2012 the service was hitting a high point of 5 million, with them not reaching the 6 million mark until November. That means Steam is currently growing around 300% faster than it was at the start of last year.

Smite now in open beta, download and play for free

Omri Petitte at

Hi-Rez summoned forth the open beta of its gods-vs-gods arena rumbler Smite today, throwing open the golden gates for all players to sign up for an account and download the client for free. A number of graphical updates and menu improvements also arrive, and all character progress and unlocks won't be wiped leading into the official launch.

League of Legends' fiercest pro purge yet: two players issued with lifetime bans

Phil Savage at

Over the last few months Riot have been cleaning house of the more odious members of the League of Legends' esports scene. Pro players IWillDominate, enVision and Linak have all been squashed beneath Riot's banhammer for "persistent toxic behaviour" while playing the game.

Those bans were for specific accounts, and disqualified each player from league play for a year. Today, Riot have gone further, issuing unprecedented lifetime bans to two members of Team Solo Mebdi. A third member of the team has also received the now standard one year suspension, meaning Solo Mebdi are disqualified from the upcoming LCS EU Qualifiers, due to be held this weekend. Naturally, given the severity of the punishment, the affected players' behaviour was extreme to say the least.

Blizzard All-Stars MOBA will likely be stand-alone, free-to-play

T.J. Hafer at

With League of Legends dominating the MOBA scene (in terms of total players), Dota 2 trying to close the gap, and Heroes of Newerth... still existing, it's been a while since we heard anything about Blizzard's competitor. Renamed Blizzard All-Stars after Valve won the commercial rights to "Dota," things have been quieter on the subject than team chat in solo cue. Last week, however, Eurogamer put down some wards and was able to get some interesting info from StarCraft II production director Chris Sigaty. It seems Blizzard may be planning to release All-Stars stand-alone, with a free-to-play model.