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Why Heroes of the Storm is the MOBA Blizzard always wanted to play

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Why Heroes of the Storm is the MOBA Blizzard always wanted to play

Playing Heroes of the Storm at PAX, it doesn’t feel like any other MOBA I’ve ever played. For one thing, I’m actually winning.

For another, it just feels less like something derived from an RTS and more like something I’d expect to play on an arcade cabinet somewhere back in the 1980s, or on a console in a friend’s basement in the late 90s. It’s Blizzard’s Smash Brothers, their Gauntlet and it’s a fresh take on the MOBA that steps out Dota’s long, long shadow.

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Hearthstone on iPad exits "soft launch", goes hard for worldwide release

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Hearthstone on iPad exits "soft launch", goes hard for worldwide release

Blizzard soft launched Hearthstone’s iPad version earlier this month, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But after weeks of imploring Blizzard to get a room with its favourite territories, or perhaps marry them if it fancies them so much, the PC behemoth has relented. Hearthstone on iPad - the CCG you can eat with your fingers - last night launched worldwide on the App Store.

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Hearthstone review

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Hearthstone review

There’s an elegance to Hearthstone. 

It’s a fantasy collectible card game that feels simple and yet, when you dig into the mechanics, feels extraordinarily deep. It uses characters and artwork from World of Warcraft and transmogrifies them into little cards, making them fight with fizzles, crackles and pops. 

I adore this game. It’s simple, fun and addictive: a truly astonishing feat considering the size of the development team. Thanks to an extended and open beta, there’s a good chance you’re already playing it. If not, allow me the pleasure of telling you why you should.

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Azeroth Choppers: World of Warcraft does American Choppers, and nothing makes sense any more

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Azeroth Choppers: World of Warcraft does American Choppers, and nothing makes sense any more

It can’t be real, but it is. Azeroth Choppers is a bizarre reality web show that pits two teams, one led by Blizzard wordsmith Chris Metzen, the other led by art director Sam Didier, against each other as they build custom choppers. 

That shouty man from American Choppers will be helping them. What chopper is the best chopper is up to fans, as they’ll vote on which bike ends up in World of Warcraft. 

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Blizzard reveals four new, mostly nuts, Heroes of the Storm characters at PAX East

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Blizzard reveals four new, mostly nuts, Heroes of the Storm characters at PAX East

Before Heroes of the Storm, I honestly can’t say that any MOBA characters interested me all that much until after I’d spent at least a few hours playing them. But Blizzard seems intent on creating heroes that sound absolutely bonkers. Even on paper, some of these characters demand to be played. 

With PAX East underway, Blizzard’s making all sorts of Heroes of the Storm-related announcements and reveals - the most recent of which is the unveiling of four new characters. And none of them are remotely alike. 

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"It's not easy being queen": StarCraft 2's Kerrigan trailered for Heroes of the Storm

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"It's not easy being queen": StarCraft 2's Kerrigan trailered for Heroes of the Storm

Kerrigan is the perfect candidate for the game formerly known as Blizzard All-Stars. A major presence in all four StarCraft releases to date and subject of numerous tie-in novels, she’s as much coated in lore as she is spindly insect bits. 

Consequently her every word is now fan service - a fact Blizzard seem to have begun to recognise. Hence the very silly introductory reference here to that other great Ker - Kermit the Frog.

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We can rebuild him: Blizzard showcases the new and improved male tauren

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We can rebuild him: Blizzard showcases the new and improved male tauren

The extensive surgery on the population of World of Warcraft continues, as the march to Warlords of Draenor progresses. 

Blizzard’s thrown up an extensive look at the changes to the fun-loving cows, the tauren. The studio’s animators chimed in, breaking down how they updated the male tauren’s animations, emotes, facial expressions and overall look. He’s shaping up to be a handsome fellow. 

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Overwatch: is this the game Blizzard have Left 4 Dead's lead designer working on?

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Overwatch: is this the game Blizzard have Left 4 Dead's lead designer working on?

Overwatch is the thing you do at the end of a turn in XCOM if you’re too afraid to stick your head above the parapet. It’s tactically sound, but a cop-out. Blizzard’s Overwatch sounds like anything but: a multiplayer experiment built in the wake of Hearthstone’s small team success, if recent job listings are anything to go by.

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Pull up a chair by the hearth: Battle.net desktop app now supports chat with friends

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Pull up a chair by the hearth: Battle.net desktop app now supports chat with friends

Hearthstone with Friends has been a slightly complicated process since launch - more often than not involving an external meet-up via Skype, followed by an exchanging of numerical game IDs from a main menu determined not to minimise under any circumstances.

That’s to change - and in WoW, and Diablo, and StarCraft - with the introduction of direct chat to the battle.net desktop app.

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Slower healing and "squished" character stats: WoW is changing for Warlords of Draenor

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Slower healing and "squished" character stats: WoW is changing for Warlords of Draenor

Where Mists of Pandaria was a step forward into a previously uncharted territory inhabited by furry priests, Warlords of Draenor is a step back in time. Not just in its plotting, which involves a dose of interstellar time travel, but in its RTS-style garrisons that recalls ‘90s Blizzard.

If these preliminary patch notes are anything to go by, the change has meant a pruning of some decade-old systems, and a simplication of some of those big numbers. Here's what we've gleaned so far.

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What you sow: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls sells 2.7 million copies in first week

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What you sow: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls sells 2.7 million copies in first week

Blizzard took a risk with Diablo III’s first ever expansion: they separated Loot 2.0 out into a free update, and let Reaper of Souls stand by itself. And it worked: a new campaign, Crusader class and adventure mode proved enough meat to pull in current and relapsed players alike, to the tune of 1.5 million thwarted Malthaels - and 2.7 million copies in the first week.

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DDOS attacks disrupt European servers for Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Hearthstone

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DDOS attacks disrupt European servers for Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Hearthstone

Somebody told me yesterday that April Fools' Day is for people with no sense of humour; that its jokes leave only the teller laughing, and are therefore the opposite of comedy. I’m still not convinced, but a morning of DDOS batterings certainly makes the argument persuasive.

A series of attacks against certain European online services have triggered a wave of disconnections and latency issues across Blizzard’s four pillars of connected PC gaming - Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Hearthstone.

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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls review

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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls review

The Reaper, in Reaper of Souls is Malthael, an angel, and death incarnate. But Malthael brings new life to Diablo III. An action-RPG mired in controversy for over year suddenly feels fresh, exciting, and relevant. Diablo III is alive. Reaper of Souls is essential. But like the Angel of Death, Reaper of Souls feels a bit gaunt when it comes to new content.

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Another rung closer to perfection: Diablo III to get ranked ladder support "in a couple of months"

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Another rung closer to perfection: Diablo III to get ranked ladder support "in a couple of months"

For the last couple of weeks, Diablo III game director Josh Mosqueira has collapsed into winks and nudges at any mention of a potential ladder system for the interconnected RPG. Nobody’s been sure whether he’s hinting at an imminent release, or displaying an involuntary reaction to a much-requested feature he knows he can’t deliver.

Turns out it’s the former: Diablo’s worst kept secret, season play, will come in Reaper of Souls’ first big content patch in a couple of months’ time.

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Join our Diablo III clan as we tackle Reaper of Souls tonight

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Join our Diablo III clan as we tackle Reaper of Souls tonight

In just a few hours Diablo III: Reaper of Souls will be unleashed onto the heroes of Sanctuary. If you call the EU region your home and want a clan of lovely folk to help spearhead your way into the new expansion, then PCGamesN has you covered. Our clan has grown to 40+ members strong, from both softcore and hardcore walks of life. Many of us are twiddling our thumbs as the launch grows near, and everyone is looking for some slaying buddies.

If you’re interested, then find out how to join just after the break!

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Here is the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls release schedule, region by region

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Here is the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls release schedule, region by region

Blizzard are almost ready to unleash the thematically unusual latest chapter in the Diablo III saga, Reaper of Soles: about the the hooved demon, Maltheus, driven to bring the world to heel by jealousy over the human capacity to wear shoes (don’t ever mention heels while he’s about, mind).

It’s a story we’ll all know first-hand by tomorrow. But precisely when? Here’s the expansion’s ever-so-slightly complicated release schedule, which begins rolling out across the world later today.

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Diablo III servers in Sydney make for "smoother, more responsive" looting in Australia and New Zealand

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Diablo III servers in Sydney make for "smoother, more responsive" looting in Australia and New Zealand

Say what you like about Malthael, the Silent Angel, the Guardian, the Angel of Death, Architect of the Eternal Conflict, former Archangel of Wisdom, ex-leader of the Angiris Council. Say what you like about that bloke, but he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to eradicating humanity and the nephalem.

New servers have been deployed ahead of the release of Reaper of Souls on Tuesday. They should result in a “smoother" looting experience for players in Australia and New Zealand.

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