Expansion speculation is mounting after the Diablo III development team released a new teaser site linking the recently registered trademark "Reaper of Souls" to the franchise. Blizzard has also been the target of some fan backlash after showing off the first television advert for its upcoming console release. Path of Exile's load times will be cut significantly in upcoming patch 0.11.4 thanks to new artwork optimisations. And Star Citizen answered more fan questions this week and has released a new website showing the stats of all current ships.
Guardians of Middle-Earth pitched itself as the world's first MOBA developed specifically for consoles. The gameplay was adapted to be controllable with dual analogue sticks, and matches promised to be shorter and faster-paced than a traditional MOBA. With the PC market already flooded with similar games, it made sense to attempt to hit the consoles market before anyone else. Unfortunately for publisher Warner Bros., the gamble didn't pay off.
Guardians of Middle-Earth didn't embrace the free-to-play business model that has become the standard for MOBAs and ended up seling poorly, gathering only a small community. The official website stopped publishing blog posts at the end of May, and the last official update from developer Monolith was on June 19th, but it seems the game isn't disappearing just yet. It was revealed this week that Guardians of Middle-Earth will soon come to PC via Steam.
Zombie Studios was contracted to port the game to the PC and is now listed on Steam as the game's developer. Lord of the Rings fans hoping to try the game for free might be disappointed to learn that it still has an initial purchase price of $19.99 and six DLC packs priced at $14.99 each. It's also being reported that the PC version will come with a new co-op mode called Survival that pits players against oncoming waves of enemies, but this is the same mode released on consoles back in February.
Massively recently sent freelancer Gavin Townsley to get to grips with Infinite Crisis' new Coast City Marina map, which contains capture points called power relays and a giant doomsday device at the centre of the arena. The map will be on display at Gamescom 2013 along with the first hands-on playtest of recently announced hero Atomic Wonder Woman. Trading her lasso of truth for a more practical chainsaw, Atomic Wonder Woman is a melee assassin with huge burst damage and high mobility. Her attacks can be chained together for added attack penetration.
SMITE has been picking up steam for some time in open beta and has even developed its own competitive scene, but there's more to MOBAs than just clever heroes and competitions. This week developers released a major art overhaul of the Conquest map, and it appears to be time well spent. The map now looks very pretty and a lot less orange and brown than its previous incarnation. Everything from the skybox and buildings to foliage and dirt paths has been completely overhauled.
Heroes of Newerth, bringing in significant matchmaking improvements. All players in a persistent group will now have to click through a confirmation dialogue before the team can join the game, which should stop people from going AFK throughout the picking phase. The basic and verified account matchmaking queues have been replaced with new Ranked and Unranked queues. To prevent abuse, players will be unable to play in Ranked matches until their accounts reach persistent level 3.
Rather than start out at 1500 MMR, players will now be assigned a rating based on their performance in those first three levels. The Lockpick, Core Pool, and Grimm's Crossing modes will no longer be offered in matchmaking as they were unpopular and had long wait times. All Random mode has also been replaced with a new Balanced Random mode that selects well-rounded teams of heroes. Players can still access the removed match types by creating public games.
Diablo III team announced that it had some big Diablo related news to share at Gamescom 2013. We now know that this is likely going to be a reveal of the game's first expansion, which looks as if it will be named Reaper of Souls. Blizzard is also expected to show off its new Battle.Net desktop client designed to join together World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and StarCraft II.
Blizzard has been facing backlash from fans this week after publishing its first television advert for the console version of the game. Every advertisement so far has used the game's popular cinematics and taken a serious tone, but the new console advert has been accused of being crude and making sex jokes.
Grinding Gear Games has released preliminary patch notes for upcoming patch 0.11.4, and it looks to be a big update. In addition to the new Reave skill and five new unique items, the patch includes optimised versions of most of the game's art. It's hoped that this will substantially reduce load times for troublesome areas of the game by reducing the filesize of the game's artwork by over 20%.
Star Citizen launched a new ship page this week that shows all of the currently designed ships that will be available in the final game along with all variants of the base hulls. The page gives many players a first look at crew sizes, cargo capacity, and other important stats. All of the ships listed can be purchased now for real cash, but versions of them will be available with normal in-game currency when Star Citizen launches.
This week's episode of Wingman's Hangar revealed yet another expensive gift sent to the team by fans and saw Chris Roberts personally answer some questions from players. Topics discussed included boarding and stealing ships, the use of correct Newtonian physics, and what will happen if your ship's life support systems are damaged.