Fraser Brown: Hots and cold
Heroes of the Storm is the best MOBA. This is the hill I will die on. It’s easy to pick up, the maps are brilliant and few other games can boast such a fun roster. The Lost Vikings let one player control three characters, while Cho’Gall’s a two-headed ogre controlled by two players---there’s a lot of odd stuff in between all the characters who hit things with swords. Unfortunately, it looks like the Blizzard’s scaling back support.
While new heroes and events are still on the cards, Blizzard’s moved some developers off the game. The Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm won’t return in 2019, either, so that’s it done as an esport. It doesn’t mean Heroes of the Storm is going anywhere, but it’s a shame to see a great game fall from prominence. Given how many MOBAs have fallen by the wayside, however, it’s impressive that it’s still going at all.
Tyler Wilde: No more heroes
Like Fraser, I'm disappointed to see Heroes of the Storm's esports scene go out like this. Not because I was a big fan of it—I've never played the game, actually—but because of the consequences for the players, coaches, and commentators who made the scene possible, and who are now effectively out of work. All their efforts to qualify and prepare for next years' season were for nothing. I don't know why Blizzard decided to discontinue the tournament (it has something to do with money, obviously), but whatever the reason, the way it's gone about it, right at the end of the year and with no forewarning, sucks.
Wes Fenlon: A slap on the wrist
The COO of Riot has been suspended for two months following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at work, going back years. The investigation found that at least some of those allegations had merit, and yes, he's being punished. But two months? Keeping his position as one of the most powerful people in the company? For someone who makes as much money as the COO of Riot does annually, that practically sounds like a vacation. It's no surprise that someone in a position of power gets little more than a slap on the wrist as punishment, but it's still disappointing to see it in action. I won't pretend to know the full details of the situation, but according to Kotaku's excellent reporting on the situation—which was only brought to light because of Kotaku's reporting earlier this year—there are people at the company far from satisfied.
Chris Livingston: Rinse and repeat
Oh dammit. Dammit, dammit. Viscera Cleanup Detail released new DLC this week where you clean up the volcano lair of a Bond-type villain. The Vulcan Affair plops you into the HQ of Dr. Hades after an international super-spy, Fox Huntington, has done his thing (by killing a bunch of underlings). While Bond films are pretty bloodless despite all the killing, this DLC is as gory as ever. As a longtime fan of Bond films I know I'm gonna be completely sucked in, which means I'll be spending most of my weekend carefully mopping and cleaning and disposing of corpses.
(This isn't a bad thing, really. I just had other plans.)
Samuel Roberts: Game of the Nier
Does the term GOTY edition have much meaning when the game in question had no notable expansions beyond a few combat-heavy sidequests and ludicrous outfits? That's my question for Nier Automata's Game of the YoRHa edition, which was confirmed as being real earlier this week. It apparently collects the memorably named 3C3C1D119440927 expansion, some new pod designs and, er, a couple of wallpapers.
The port doesn't seem to have been updated since July 2017—it was a little shaky on my first playthrough last December, with the screen freezing a few times throughout the game, losing me enough progress for it to be annoying. Maybe that'd be more useful to PC players than a new version of the game?
Tom Senior: Downmarket
I like the idea of Steam having some competition. It ought to be good for developers and, ultimately, us lot. From a customer perspective I was disappointed by the Epic Games Store however. The lack of a search or filter function, a library page that takes you to store pages when it should be launching your game, and inaccurate marketing materials all turned me off the store. If anything, my shopping experience there did remind me how good Steam is at the basic browsing/buying journey. I’m sure many features will come to the Epic shop eventually, but it’s got some catching up to do.