The first round of Star Citizen's Next Great Starship competition got underway this week, pitting 24 teams of artists and technical wizards against each other for a chance to get their ship design in the game and win the $30,000 top prize. The latest Elite: Dangerous newsletter clarified that there are three major alpha stages coming and that each stage will proceed onto the next only when developers consider it ready.
The League of Legends Championship Series is off to a great start with Gambit breaking Fnatic's undefeated winning streak in the EU circuit. On the smaller end of the competitive scene, Razer has come under fire for allegedly unfairly disqualifying a team in its own $1,000 tournament. Dota 2's New Bloom update has introduced a hilarious new game mode that lets players trade skills with each other and added a clever new feature that lets players jump into recorded games and take control of them.
Third-person MOBA SMITE introduced its first limited edition skin and has pledged to add $5 from each purchase to the prize pool of its upcoming launch tournament. Turn-based MOBA Arena of Heroes hit version 1.44 this week and got its official release on iPhone and Linux. Diablo III showed off the contents of its Reaper of Souls expansion collector's edition box, and a new Path of Exile video shows content update 1.0.6's awesome new summoning spells in action.
With its focus on open moddability, Star Citizen has captured the imaginations of 3-D modelers and modders everywhere. Fans have been designing and sharing some fantastic spaceship models on the Star Citizen forum over the past few months, and some of them have been on par with the official ship designs in the game. To take advantage of this pool of talent, Cloud Imperium started the Next Great Starship ship design competition that saw around 270 teams entered for the chance to have their ship designs put into the game.
Only the 24 best entrants from the pool of 270 were selected to take part in the competition, and new tasks will whittle that number down even further over the coming weeks until only one team remains to claim the grand prize of $30,000 and see its ship design put into the game. The first challenge round asked entrants to design a new weapon from Sakura Sun, model it, and import it into cryengine for testing. In this week's first episode of the series, eight of the 24 first-round entries were reviewed by developers and five finalists were pushed through to the second round.
The 16th Elite: Dangerous development newsletter was released this week, expanding on the details of the upcoming multiplayer alpha and the beta process. After the multiplayer alpha, developers plan to release an outfitting alpha stage and a build introducing the game's travel and trading gameplay. Developers confirmed that dates for these releases are not set in stone and that each phase will end only when it's ready to show.
Fnatic's European division broke its undefeated streak in the League of Legends Champions Series with a loss to Gambit Gaming this week. Both Fnatic and Gambit have stormed the competition thus far, taking the top two slots and scoring some impressive individual member stats. Cloud 9 HyperX and Team SoloMid have seen success in the North American division, each scoring six wins and one loss to take the top two slots.
Dota 2 celebrated the Chinese New Year with its New Bloom Festival, introducing tons of new cosmetic items to acquire and a hilarious new Random Ability Draft game mode. Unlocked at level 5, this mode assigns the players on each team random heroes and then places all of of the heroes' abilities into a single ability pool. Players then take turns selecting abilities from the pool, producing some hilarious combinations of abilities that ordinarily wouldn't be possible.
To further expand on the hilarity, the New Bloom update added an interesting new feature that lets you and your friends jump into a recorded game at any point and take control of the characters. This feature will allow players to relive past glories and help competitive teams train against each other by testing alternative strategies. The huge update has also introduced two new heroes: Demonic illusionist Terrorblade and the fire-based Phoenix.
As the days count down to third-person MOBA SMITE's March 25th launch, Hi-Rez Studios has revealed plans to allow players to help expand the prize pool for the game's launch tournament event. The company has put $100,000 US of its own money up for grabs in the tournament and will be adding an extra $5 for every copy of its new Poolseidon skin that's bought. The skin costs 600 gems (approximately $10 to $12) and will be on sale only until the game officially launches on March 25th. This is the first limited edition skin in SMITE and comes with hilarious alternate effects for Poseidon's usual abilities.
Turn-based MOBA Arena of Heroes took a big step forward this week with official release on both the iPhone and Linux as part of patch 1.44. The game is now available on the iPad, iPhone, Windows, Mac, and Linux and will soon be coming to Android and web browsers. Arena of Heroes features much of the same gameplay you'd expect from any MOBA but substitutes the fast-paced action of DotA for a potentially more tactical turn-based approach.
It's common practice to release a collector's edition box for new online games and MMOs, but Blizzard is taking the unusual step of releasing one for its upcoming Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls. The contents of the box were revealed this week, including a behind-the-scenes bluray, a soundtrack CD, an art book, a mouse pad, and cosmetic pets for Diablo III and World of Warcraft.
If you were excited to hear about the four new summoning skills coming to Path of Exile in its upcoming 1.0.6 patch, check out the video below for a preview of the skills in action. The patch has a strong summoning theme and introduces several new summoning-themed unique items and four new skills that synergise well with existing summoning spells in the game.
Of particular interest is the Desecrate skill, which deals chaos damage in an area and creates corpses on the ground. The resulting corpses can be raised as zombies, consumed for buffs with the new Flesh Offering and Bone Offering skills, and exploded with corpse explosion.
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