Say Goodbye to Loot Boxes in Heroes of the Storm

Until The week of March 26, Gems were the only in-game currency that players could purchase with real currency in Heroes of the Storm. That option has been removed.

In recent years, Loot Boxes have become a fixture in the most popular games (Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Objective, Apex Legends, etc.). But Blizzard Entertainment has decided to make changes to how players can purchase loot chests in HotS.

Since the controversy with the loot boxes of Star Wars: Battlefront II, developers have been eyeing options to remove loot boxes or improve their loot box system so as not to be seen as creating “pay to win” games. The March 18, 2019 patch does not go into detail about why Blizzard is making changes to loot boxes. They only make it clear that players will no longer be able to use real currency to purchase loot boxes.

Starting the week of March 26, all Loot chests earned through progression (except Hero-specific Chests), Heroes Brawl, or by spending Gold will be Caldeum Complex Loot Chests. These loot chests guarantee at least one item from the Caldeum Complex or previous years’ Lunar New Year Spring events. Carve out your place among the infamous gangs and score yourself some sweet loot before the streets calm on April 30!

HotS players will still be able to use real currency to buy Gems, Heroes, Bundles, Stimpacks, and Featured Items. But because the randomized loot boxes are seen as a form of gambling, Gems cannot be used to purchase them.

The changes could be influenced by recent concerns about paid loot boxes being a form of gambling and politicians both in the U.S. and the EU have proposed legislation to remove loot boxes from games. And to comply with the Belgian Gaming Commission, Blizzard removed paid loot boxes from both Overwatch and HotS in 2018 from their games in Belgium.

Has World of Warcraft Lost Its "Wow" Factor?

Has World of Warcraft Lost Its "Wow" Factor?

After playing World of Warcraft for 14 years, Battle for Azeroth is the first expansion where I took a break from the game for more than two weeks. Did “Battle for Azeroth” kill World of Warcraft?

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Another Long-time Blizzard Employee Exits Activision Blizzard

Another Long-time Blizzard Employee Exits Activision Blizzard

World of Warcraft’s in-game cinematic director, Terran Gregory writes a heart-wrenching good-bye to a very dear friend and close work colleague, being careful not to reveal the person’s name.

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Bungie's Destiny 2 is Free Until November 18

What’s better than free games? I can’t think of anything.

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the release of Destiny 2, Bungie and Activision Blizzard are allowing the free download of the complete Destiny 2 game. Players who already own the game will receive an in-game gift reward that will be available in December.

PC users will need to download the Blizzard launcher if they do not already have it. You an redeem your anniversary gift in the on the Battle.Net gift page.

For more information visit www.DestinyTheGame.com.

Blizzard's Tom Chilton is Working on Something HUGE!

Blizzard's Tom Chilton is Working on Something HUGE!

Tom Chilton headed Blizzard’s World of Warcraft for 13 years. For two years, he’s been leading a super secret project that is drastically different from anything Blizzard has ever done.

Speaking with GamesBeat, J. Allen Brack, Blizzard Entertainment’s new president, told Dean Takahashi that Chilton is working on a passion project. From the sounds of it, this project has been in the works for a very long time. “He and I started up a new project that was not something like Blizzard has ever done before.”

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Finally! New Info About Blizzard's Classic WoW Development

"Wanna know how you can tell someone played during Vanilla? Don't worry, they'll tell you." Yes, we will tell you! 

After careful consideration, we have decided on Patch 1.12: Drums of War as our foundation because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience.
— Blizzard Developers

Blizzard developers have finally given us a little bit of info on what to expect with WoW: Classic. Classic will be centered on Drums of War, Patch 1.12.0 for a complete a "vanilla" experience. Drums of War was originally patched in August 2006 and was the last major patch before the release of The Burning Crusade expansion.

Drums of War was basically a PvP patch. It introduced Cross-Realm battlegrounds or Battlegroups. This was Blizzard's answer to players having to wait literal hours to get into a battleground because battlegrounds, once upon a time, were relegated to players from the same realm. Although the wait was shortened due to having new players to play with, this was a sad day for me because cross-realms effectively ruined inter-realm, PvP guild rivalries (wanna know how you can tell someone played during vanilla...I told you we'd tell you). Patch 1.12 also introduced World PvP, turning Silithus and Eastern Plaguelands into PvP zones where players would battle to control the land for their respective faction. For those of us who were born and raised on PvE realms, this was pretty exciting and gave us a bit of a taste of PvP-realm life.

Blizzard developers settled on Drums because it was the last patch before Vanilla became TBC. In my personal opinion, Blizzard should use June 2006's Patch 1.11.0: Shadow of the Necropolis as its base. Shadow of the Necropolis was the last time Classic felt like the classic WoW that so many Vanilla players reminisce about. Patch 1.11.0 introduced the last 40-man instance raid, Naxxaramas, the floating necropolis above Eastern Plagueland's Stratholme.

But the developers do have their hands full with this project. They're on a journey to "recreate an authentic classic experience with modern engineering" to deliver to players a beautiful classic experience

Our initial runs exposed a few (expected) issues: the game sometimes crashed, didn’t recognize our modern video cards, and was incompatible with our current login system. That first pass also couldn’t support any of our modern security and anti-cheating capabilities.
— Blizzard Developers

We're confident Blizzard devs will give us fans another glorious WoW experience. But for now, this is all we know. Do you think Patch 1.12.0 is the best starting point to deliver a Classic WoW experience? Will you be playing when it's finally released? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.

 

Blizzard's Badass Bonuses for Overwatch's Anniversary

Celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Overwatch starting May 22.

May 24, 2016, Blizzard turned up the jams (yes, we know Lucio came a little later) with the release of Overwatch featuring 12 heroes (and villains). In case you've been in a coma for the last few years, Overwatch is Blizzard Entertainment's team-based, multiplayer, first-person shooter. Players are placed on two teams of six where each player one of the following roles: Tank, Defense, Offense, and Support. Since its release, Overwatch has added 15 more playable heroes, bringing the total to 27 playable heroes. And I don't think they're done!

Since then, Overwatch has grown to include web comics and video shorts. Blizzard always goes all out for their anniversary events and Overwatch's 2nd anniversary will be no different. Here's what you can look forward to come May 22.

  • A brand spanking new free-for-all deathmatch called Petra.

  • Free-for-all COMPETITIVE deathmatch season starting on Petra and Chateau maps

  • Special 2nd Anniversary Lootbox: in addition to 2nd anniversary event loot, players will also have a chance to get loot from ANY past, seasonal event!

  • Unlock past unlockables, including re-releasing Overwatch Legendary Edition which includes sets of Legendary, Epic and Origin skins for a total of 15 skins.

  • Return of select fan-favorite brawls from past events

  • 8 Legendary skins

Oh! Did I forget to mention that Overwatch is free to play on the weekend of May 25-28? So you have a friend who STILL hasn't played Overwatch? Or are you someone who wants to test the game out before purchasing? Head on over to Play Overwatch on May 25-28. 

Celebrate Overwatch's 2nd Anniversary with us on Facebook!

#BlizzCon2018 Has a Date: November 2-3

Source: Blizzard Entertainment

Source: Blizzard Entertainment

Our bodies have been ready since BlizzCon 2017!

Blizzard Entertainment finally released a date for BlizzCon 2018, beginning Friday/Saturday November 2-3 2018 at Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA.

BlizzCon Ticket Sale #1: Wednesday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. PDT

BlizzCon Ticket Sale #2: Saturday, May 12 at 10:00 a.m. PDT

BlizzCon Benefit Dinner Ticket Sale: Wednesday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m. PDT

Tickets will cost $199 per person (plus applicable taxes and fees) through the ticketing service Universe. The tickets are for the main events at Anaheim Convention Center on both days. And, as usual, attendees will receive the coveted loot cache full of Blizzard goodies.

Virtual tickets to BlizzCon are to be determined. For more information details, head to the BlizzCon2018 page.

Will you be going to Anaheim or attending virtually? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Love is Alive in the World of 'Warcraft'

WHO IN THE WORLD--OF WARCRAFT DO YOU THINK WOULD RISK IT ALL FOR JUST ONE KISS?

World of Warcraft's Azeroth is known for its lore-based questlines, beautiful scenery and bad ass villains who are always trying to conquer or destroy it. The storylines are always about heroics, defeating the enemy and one-upping the opposition faction. But what about romance? With so much war and tragedy, isn't it about time we had a good love story?

The Warcraft novels and shorts have given us quite a few love stories, though most are riddled with sorrow and death. In the game, however, romance is a quick side note for a quest line. If you play on the Alliance, you will, no doubt, encounter the Romeo and Juliet-esque quest line in Elwynn Forest beginning with Gramma Stonefield. In Pandaria, the Horde encounter the "Regroup!" quest line and get a glimpse of Shademaster Kiryn and Riko the Hozen's blossoming romance. Now let's explore some more of the relationships that can be found in Azeroth.

THRALL & AGGRALAN

family man Thrall.jpg

On the Horde side, the most well-known romance is that of Thrall and Aggralan. Aggra, as she is called, is an Orc Shaman. She was tasked to train Thrall in the ways of the Shaman. Even though they butted heads at first, they grew close and quickly fell in love. Aggra has been Thrall's guiding light from the beginning, helping him to understand what Greymother Geya told him--that he cannot fully embrace the elements of being a shaman and lead The Horde.

On the Alliance side, the most well-known romantic entanglement is the super love triangle between Illidan, Malfurion, and Tyrande. Illidan "My Demon Hunter's Future Baby Daddy" Stormrage harbors a yearning for his twin brother, Malfurion Stormrage's wife, Tyrande Whisperwind--a burning love that has lasted over 10,000 years. Illidan was arrogant and obsessed with magic. He tried to impress Tyrande, but she saw him as family and cared for him like a brother. Malfurion, however, was humble, focused on his scholarly duties became the "first mortal druid on Azeroth." Tyrande's admiration and love for Malfurion was so strong that during Malfurion's 10,000-year slumber in the Emerald Dream, she waited, patiently. In the Black Temple raid instance, Illidan drops a trinket called "Memento of Tyrande".

While there are other romances throughout the lore, they aren't explored to the extent that they could be. Granted, the game is called World of "War" craft, not World of "Love" craft. But sometimes love is a nice distraction from war. And throughout the lore-based books, there are a few characters where romance was "alluded to" but not quite confirmed. Here are a few romantic relationships that could be explored.

LADY LIADRIN & LOR'THEMAR THERON

World of Warcraft: Paragons

In World of Warcraft: Paragon's "Blood of the Highborne", Liadrin and Lor'themar Theron become very close. Although they were never romantically linked, their esteem for each other goes beyond mere friendship. Highborne often hints at mutual attraction between Liadrin and Lor'themar. It may not seem like much of a big deal, but when Liadrin was contemplating how she could sense that Galell, her apprentice, may have feelings for her that she does not reciprocate, Lor'themar shows up, interrupting her thought and she gets all warm and fuzzy. This is definitely a relationship that Blizzard could explore more. King and Queen of Silvermoon, instead of the constricting regent titles--that'd be lovely. And romance on Azeroth isn't so different from romance on Earth. Instead of sending flowers, send your love some "mana crystals" by messenger. 

 

 

WARCHIEF SYLVANAS WINDRUNNER & NATHANOS BLIGHTCALLER

From the very beginning of Nathanos' time as a ranger under, then Ranger General Sylvanas' leadership, the two have been very close. They share a very special bond of respect. Nathanos has always been Sylvanas' right-hand man and I suspect he wants to be much more. Their relationship spans life and undeath. 

Lest we forget the Windrunner sisters have a thing for Human men: Alleria with Turalyon, Vereesa with Rhonin. And before Sylvanas and Nathanos were killed and reanimated, it was alluded to that they had a secret romance. That could still be the case. 

KOLTIRA DEATHWEAVER & THASSARIAN

koltira and thessarian.gif

Koltira, a high elf, and protector of Quel'thalas died by Thassarian's hands and he was promptly reanimated under the control of the Lich King. But that did not stop the two from forming a very close bond. Thassarian, even though he chose to serve the Alliance once more, his fondness for Koltira never wavered. When Sylvanas punished Koltira for being too soft on Thassarian, imprisoning him in hopes to purge his compassion for Thassarian, Thassarian devised a plot to rescue Koltira from Undercity. It's true, their bond could be nothing more than that of wartime buddies endured much while both serving the Lich King. But there seems to be something more. Thassarian risked it all to venture into Undercity and rescuing Koltira from the Banshee Queen and new Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner. The love is definitely there, defying race, faction and even death.

ILLIDAN & MAIeV SHADOWSONG

illidan and maiev.jpg

Maiev guarded Illidan's cell after he was arrested for trying to create another Well of Eternity. When Illidan escaped, thanks to the help of his beloved, Tyrande (who is married to his brother, Malfurion), Maiev made it her mission to recapture him, hunting him until his capture at The Black Temple. Could the two have become close during his extended stay in jail? Did Maiev's duty of guarding Illidan include a conjugal visit or two? Anything is certainly possible. And they say there's a thin line between love and hate. Could Maiev's hatred for Illidan be masking a desire for him? It's certainly a relationship that would be interesting to see develop. I'm sure there's enough room for Maiev on Argus.

 

Special Mention: Alleria Windrunner and Turalyon

Their love story is beautiful. For years Turalyon and Alleria's whereabouts were unknown. But this story is beautiful. With Turalyon being fierce defender of The Light and Alleria controlling The Void, it's exciting to see how this will play out. 

We don't have to wait until Valentine's Day. The realm of possibilities is infinite when it comes to WoW love. We never know what could happen. And love can make for a pretty exciting story. Are there any other possible relationships in Azeroth that you would like to see develop? Let us know in the comments, or talk to us on Facebook!

When Raid Lives and Real Life Intersect

The relationships you develop when you play any online game can leave an indelible mark on your life. Often, these wonderful moments and memories are attributed to such random names as Sundown, Viszerban, Boot, Sarutobi, Narutotwo, etc. Because, honestly, how often did you find out their real names?!

Twelve years later, I still remember with fondness Sharina’s /huggles; that my mage Kochanski, who was named after Lister’s love interest in Red Dwarf, was very similar to the Polish words for “I love you” thanks to Merlina, my warlock friend of Polish descent living in Canada; that Tiggy /bites and would often demand sandwiches once he found out I was a woman; that Coolcat lived freakishly close to us, yet we never got together; and that Alenassin worked in coal mines in Virginia.

Seltaeb and Quill questing long before Fusion.

Seltaeb and Quill questing long before Fusion.

I remember drunken shenanigans with several guildies in Massachusetts one night during the Burning Crusade days. For the life of me I cannot tell any of their real names, but I can tell you that my husband and I had a lot of fun partying with Alterya, Watz, Steelfury, Tuon, Hegram and one or two others that night. And Watz? She could cook one seriously badass skirt steak and that bacon corn dish she made? I’m still trying to recreate it to this day.

Yet, of all these experiences nothing has, or will ever, hold a candle to traveling across the ocean and receiving a guided tour of my personal Mecca from our guild leaders. On our honeymoon.

Yes. We met our WoW guild leaders and they gave us a tour of their hometown and my musical holy grail - Liverpool, England. My Macca Mecca, if you will.

Life doesn’t often get more random than that. Then again, isn’t that the beauty of the relationships we develop through our online avatars? Fleeting, and if you’re lucky, enduring relationships that change us (hopefully) for the better. Even the brief moments where we allow someone to touch our lives via a game without ever meeting in-person change us: the late night chats where you get a glimpse into someone else’s life halfway around the world or when you’re having a woeful stretch IRL and someone online provides the words of comfort you didn’t realize you needed.

And when you’re at your luckiest, you get to travel around the world and connect in-person.

It was 2006 and we’d been playing faithfully on the Dalaran (US) server since a few months after release. We were members of The Windriders, the top guild on the server through C’Thun. It was enjoyable being in the upper echelons, but as time went on, we suffered raid burn-out and discovered that we also enjoyed the slower track. It was a fun challenge of going through the raid instances with a brand new guild. Seeing Molten Core with new eyes.

Some old school Fusion fun. Heading to the Quartermaster.

Some old school Fusion fun. Heading to the Quartermaster.

It started with us occasionally joining MC raids on alts, but ultimately we became members of Fusion - a guild led by married couple Peculiar and Alyssandra (Pec and Aly). We got along well with them and since I wear my musical passions on my sleeve, or in this case, my hunter - Seltaeb, they knew my love for The Beatles early on and we discussed their hometown often.

Along with a healthy dose of daily WoW and work, we were in the process of planning our wedding and our honeymoon. We knew from the start we’d honeymoon in London - it was a city that held great meaning to both of us individually that we wanted to share together. And, since he is a saint when it comes to humoring my musical obsessions - the trip would involve a side trip to Liverpool so I could see the place that birthed The Beatles. It was definitely an added bonus we’d be able to meet Pec and Aly! As the trip neared, we began to solidify our plans with them.

We would take the train early one morning, meet up with them, spend the day sightseeing and then take a late train back to London. Of course, travels never work out quite as planned and the train schedule flipped from Summer to Fall a few days before our trip - which left us with far fewer options. After FINALLY finding a car rental shop that had an available car - we were on the M1, several hours later than planned.

Checking out THE Penny Lane with Pec and Aly.

Checking out THE Penny Lane with Pec and Aly.

Our day trip was turned into a two-day trip and saw us arriving in Liverpool and at Pec and Aly’s doorstep in the evening. There was something surreal about pulling into their driveway that night, ringing the doorbell, coming into their home and seeing them raiding with all our guildmates, the majority of whom were back in the states. We hung out for a bit, but didn’t want to disrupt the raid too much.

We made our plans to meet up in the morning and headed into town to find a hotel and start taking in the sights. As it turns out, when in England, you need to take football matches into consideration when traveling. There was a Liverpool-Manchester match in town that night and hotels were booked up solid. Between drinks at the Cavern Club and The Grapes (another known Beatles hangout), we went from hotel to hotel in ascending price point looking for a room. Finally, when we thought we’d hit the last hotel in the city, the concierge tipped us off to a brand spanking new boutique hotel back downtown. He called down for us and got us the literal last hotel room in the city around 1 a.m. It was a gorgeous hotel and ended up being cheaper than the room we had back in London. We lucked out completely!

THE Strawberry Fields! My mind is blown in this picture. (That's why the photo is so damn fuzzy.)

THE Strawberry Fields! My mind is blown in this picture. (That's why the photo is so damn fuzzy.)

The next morning we met up with Pec and Aly (AKA Adam and Louise) at PanAm, a restaurant on the Albert Dock alongside the River Mersey. We ate lunch, chatted guild and game and then hopped into our cars. They drove us around to all the sights: Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, St. Peter’s Church where John met Paul. All these magical sites that I’d spend my life dreaming of that were part of their everyday world. Sites made all the more special because we had friends showing them to us.

All too soon, it was time for us to hop back in the car and head back to London. We said our goodbyes and “See ya in game”s and headed out.

As time went on, we all took breaks from the game and sadly lost track of each other. Yet, they are still in our hearts for sharing that special day with us.

 

 

 

So, Alyssandra and Peculiar of Fusion on the Dalaran server circa vanilla WoW (AKA Lou and Adam of Liverpool, England), Seltaeb and Quill thank you for your hospitality, your friendship and one amazing addendum to our honeymoon!

Have you ever had an in-person experience with an online guildmate? We’d love to hear your story!