Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016

Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016
HIGHLIGHTS
Sombra will be playable via Blizzard’s Public Test Realm (PTR) next week
The PTR will also have the new Arcade Mode for Overwatch
A new map, Ecopoint: Antarctica will be present too
At BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard finally announced the latest character to grace its hero-themed shooter, Overwatch.

According to the official Overwatch website, Sombra is a hacker with a base of operations located in Dorado, Mexico. She is affiliated with Talon and formerly Los Muertos – two of the game’s factions.

(Also see: Blizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI Research)

Overwatch Sombra ability list:
Machine Pistol: fully-automatic machine pistol fires in a short-range spread.
Hack: can hack enemies to temporarily stop them from using their abilities, or hacks first aid kits to make them useless to her opponents.
Thermoptic Camo: can become invisible for a short period of time, during which her speed is boosted considerably. Attacking, using offensive abilities, or taking damage disables her camouflage.
Translocator: tosses out a translocator beacon. She can instantly return to the beacon’s location while it is active (including when it’s in mid-flight).
EMP: Discharges electromagnetic energy in a wide radius, destroying enemy barriers and shields and hacking all opponents caught in the blast.
(Also see: The Original Diablo Will Be Playable in Diablo 3)
Sombra is the second new character added to Overwatch this year. The first being Ana – a sniper with healing abilities.
Blizzard hasn’t announced when Sombra would be available for all but has mentioned she will be playable as a part of its Public Test Realm (PTR) next week. PTR is a service to test patches before release to the general populace. Along with Sombra, the PTR will have a new arctic map, Ecopoint: Antarctica, which is designed around 1v1 and 3v3 play as a part of a new mode known as Arcade.

For what it’s worth, we found Overwatch to be one of the year’s best games. There are various heroes to choose from, near perfect gameplay, and the promise of extended support and free content, most of which Blizzard has made good on so far.

Tags: Sombra, BlizzCon, Blizzard, Overwatch, BlizzCon 2016, Xbox One, PS4, PC Games, PC Gaming, Sombra ability list, Overwatch Sombra ability list, Overwatch Arcade Mode, Ecopoint Antarctica, PTR, Public Test Realm

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Blizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI Research

Blizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI ResearchBlizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI Research
HIGHLIGHTS
The APIs for StarCraft II will be made open to AI researchers
This will assist in building better AI
Blizzard announced this collaboration with Deepmind at BlizzCon 2016
At BlizzCon 2016, it was announced that Blizzard would open up the APIs from strategy game StarCraft II to AI researchers across the world. It’s collaborating with Google’s DeepMind for this initiative.

According to DeepMind’s Oriol Vinyals, real-time strategy games such as StarCraft II would be a great test for AI given the hidden information and asymmetry constitute to elements of its gameplay which could end up helping in solving problems in the fields of science and energy among others.

(Also see: Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016)

“DeepMind is on a scientific mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be told how. Games are the perfect environment in which to do this, allowing us to develop and test smarter, more flexible AI algorithms quickly and efficiently, and also providing instant feedback on how we’re doing through scores,” a prepared statement on the company’s website reads.
“StarCraft is an interesting testing environment for current AI research because it provides a useful bridge to the messiness of the real-world. The skills required for an agent to progress through the environment and play StarCraft well could ultimately transfer to real-world tasks.”
(Also see: The Original Diablo Will Be Playable in Diablo 3)

Blizzard CEO and President Mike Morhaime simply stated that fans could “help by simply playing StarCraft II online.” An odd way of putting it considering playing online is the preferred way to play StarCraft II by many.

Tags: BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2016, StarCraft, StarCraft II, StarCraft 2, DeepMind, Google DeepMind, PC games, PC Gaming

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Blizzard Reveals Necromancer for Diablo 3 at BlizzCon 2016 as Paid DLC

Blizzard Reveals Necromancer for Diablo 3 at BlizzCon 2016 as Paid DLCBlizzard Reveals Necromancer for Diablo 3 at BlizzCon 2016 as Paid DLC
HIGHLIGHTS
The Necromancer will be coming to Diablo 3 in 2017
It will be a part of the Rise of the Necromancer Pack
Blizzard has not said how much it would cost
BlizzCon 2016 saw more Diablo announcements than usual to celebrate the series’ twentieth anniversary. Aside from stating that the original Diablo will be coming to Diablo 3 and Seasons Mode making it to consoles, Blizzard had one more trick up its sleeve, with plans to bring the Necromancer class to Diablo 3. But there’s a catch – it will be a part of paid downloadable content (DLC) referred to as the Rise of the Necromancer Pack.

“Necromancers can expect darker, more controlled gameplay centered around the raw materials of life: blood and bone. Grounded in a philosophical, pragmatic approach to life and death, they’re more like a calculated conductor of the darkest arts,” reads the description on Blizzard’s website. “ Deadly serious in their practice, they are the experts of curses and reanimation—and their pets obey their every command.”

(Also see: The Darkening of Tristram to Bring the Original Diablo to Diablo 3)
Though Blizzard are yet to detail the Necromancer’s abilities, a screenshot from BlizzCon 2016 has been doing the rounds confirming what you could expect when the class hits in 2017.

Diablo 3 Necromancer abilities: ​
Corpse Explosion: target an area exploding all corpses dealing damage.
Blood Rush: shed your mortal flesh and re-appear yards away, passing through most obstacles.
Siphon Blood: drain the blood of your enemies dealing damage and restoring essence.
Bone Spear: summon a piercing bone projectile that causes damage to all enemies it passes through
Decrypify: a crippling curse that reduces the enemy unit’s movement speed and damage done to you
Command Skeletons: command your skeletal minions to attack the target and increase their damage. The skeleton cap seems to be ten units ( seven melee and three ranged skeletons).
(Also see: Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016)
“In addition to unlocking the Necromancer as a playable character, players will also receive an in-game pet, two additional character slots, two additional stash tabs (on PC), a portrait frame, pennant, banner, and banner sigil,” the site claims in way of what else will make up the cost of playing as a Necromancer.

It will be interesting to see what else comes along with the Necromancer since it is a paid piece of content. Other Blizzard games like Overwatch don’t charge for new characters, making this an oddity of sorts. And it seems that Blizzard isn’t ready to say much else about it right now aside from well, it will be purchasable.

“We’re not ready to announce a price just yet,” states an official FAQ.

While there was little in the way of an announcement of a new Diablo game or expansion to mark two decades of the series, some fans are holding out, expecting a hint during one of BlizzCon 2016’s many panels. Though it seems unlikely given that the opening presentation would have been the perfect stage for such a reveal.

Tags: BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard, Diablo, Diablo 3, Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls, PC games, PC gaming, Xbox One, PS4, Necromancer, Diablo 3 Necromancer, Rise of the Necromancer Pack, Diablo 3 Paid DLC, Necromancer ability list, Diablo 3 Necromancer ability list

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Blizzard Unveils New E-Sports Overwatch League at BlizzCon 2016

Blizzard Unveils New E-Sports Overwatch League at BlizzCon 2016Blizzard Unveils New E-Sports Overwatch League at BlizzCon 2016
HIGHLIGHTS
The Overwatch League is Blizzard’s attempt to make e-sports acceptable
The Overwatch League will take place from next year
It is unlikely that India will be a part of it
A new hero for Overwatch in Sombra wasn’t the only announcement for Blizzard’s first-person shooter. At BlizzCon 2016 the company unveiled the Overwatch League.

According to Blizzard CEO and President Mike Morhaime, the Overwatch League “represents a true next-generation e-sports experience.”

Players would be evaluated during tryouts by team owners. There would be regular schedules, professional contracts, free agency, and a baseline salary for players.

(Also see: Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016)

“The Overwatch League represents not only the pinnacle of Overwatch competition, but also a genuine career opportunity for the most skilled Overwatch players,” said Morhaime. “We’re building a league that’s accessible to players and fans, sustainable, and exciting for everyone involved.”

In elaborating this it was obvious that the Overwatch League would ideally like to possess a greater degree of structure and stability versus what most e-sports leagues are seen as – fickle and lacking in transparency.

The Overwatch League’s maiden season will take place next year. Play well enough and you might be invited to join teams. In taking such a hands-on approach to Overwatch’s e-sports potential, it seems that Blizzard wants to build the EPL or IPL of Overwatch.

(Also see: The State of E-Sports in India: Untapped Potential but It Doesn’t Have to Be)

Right now, there is no clarity if the Overwatch League would be making it to India in its first year. Considering that Blizzard has a local distributor but chose not to release Diablo 3: Ultimate Edition or Overwatch officially makes the nation’s prospects seem unlikely at this stage. That hasn’t stopped other companies from cashing in on its popularity though.

For what it’s worth, we found Overwatch to be one of the year’s best games. There are various heroes to choose from, near perfect gameplay, and the promise of extended support and free content, most of which Blizzard has made good on so far.

Tags: BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2016, Overwatch, Overwatch League, Esports, Overwatch India, Overwatch League India, PC games, PC gaming, PS4, Xbox One

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Blizzard Announces New Hearthstone Expansion – Mean Streets of Gadgetzan

Blizzard Announces New Hearthstone Expansion - Mean Streets of GadgetzanBlizzard Announces New Hearthstone Expansion – Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
At BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard made tons of announcements that included a new Overwatch character and a content patch for Diablo 3. Among the announcements, Blizzard also announced a fourth expansion for free-to-play collectible card game. ‘Mean Streets of Gadgetzan’ is the latest major content addition that will bring 132 new cards to the game.

As the title suggests, Gadgetzan is a lawless land and a haven for criminals of Azeroth. Three crime families rule the streets here, each with a powerful figurehead. Each one of the families are associated with three of Hearthstone’s classes which comes with its unique benefits that rival families lack. Players will need to choose their family wisely while building their decks.
The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card packs can be won in Hearthstone’s Arena mode. The card packs is also purchasable with in-game gold or real money.
The new expansion will be available across Windows, PC, iOS and Android from early December according to Blizzard’s website. Players can also pre-order Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card packs in a special 50-pack bundle for $49.99 (approx. Rs. 3,300).

Apart from announcing the new expansion, Blizzard also revealed 21 of the the 132 new cards. One of the many interesting cards here is Kazakus, who happens to be one of the bosses of the three families and has the ability to create a custom spell if your deck has no duplicates. You can head to Blizzard’s official site to know more about the expansion and its cards.

Tags: Blizzard, BlizzCon 2016, Gadgetzan, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, Hearthstone, Gaming, PC, PC Games

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Blizzard Announces New Heroes of the Storm Heroes, Nexus Challenge, and More at BlizzCon 2016

Blizzard Announces New Heroes of the Storm Heroes, Nexus Challenge, and More at BlizzCon 2016Blizzard Announces New Heroes of the Storm Heroes, Nexus Challenge, and More at BlizzCon 2016
Blizzard at the BlizzCon 2016 added two new faces to its PC multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), Heroes of the Storm. World of Warcraft’s Varian and Ragnaros will be seen as the new heroes.

Varian is the first multi-class hero that can be played either as a deadly assassin or a shield-wielding warrior. Ragnaros has some fiery abilities that includes summoning lava waves to incinerate an entire lane’s worth of enemy minions.

Varian will be available for testing next week and as a fully playable character on November 15, while Ragnaros will join the Heroes in December.
Aside from announcing the new characters, Blizzard also unveiled a new Heroes Brawl called Blackheart’s Brawl. The brawl allows only one core while the defending team tries to help prevent Bleackheart from sinking. The new brawl will be available starting November 15.

That’s not all. The company also announced a new Nexus Challenge giveaway in Heroes of the Storm to the delight of Blizzard players alike. The Nexus Challenge will allow players to unlock in-game loot in both Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch.

“Complete 15 Heroes of the Storm games in Ranked, Unranked Draft, Quick Match, or Co-op vs. A.I. before time runs out, and you’ll unlock the Oni Genji skin, spray, and player icon in Overwatch, as well as Zarya and the Oni Genji Portrait in Heroes of the Storm,” Blizzard says.

Completing 30 games in Heroes of the Storm during the Nexus Challenge nets players new heroes, an new Orochi Hovercycle mount, and a 30-day Stimpack for the game. The Nexus Challenge begins from November 15 and ends on January 4.

Overwatch fans were also introduced to a new character, Sombra – a hacker with a base of operations located in Dorado, Mexico.

(Also see:Overwatch Review)

Overwatch is currently one of Blizzards hottest games this year, praised in both gameplay and production value.

Tags: Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard, BlizzCon 2016, Overwatch, Gaming, PC Gaming

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Blizzard Announces Big Hearthstone Expansion – Whispers of the Old Gods

Blizzard Announces Big Hearthstone Expansion - Whispers of the Old Gods

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has been growing in size since its release two years ago, and Blizzard announced a third expansion for the free-to-play collectible card game on Friday night. Titled ‘Whispers of the Old Gods’, it adds 134 new cards to the game.

(Also see: Hearthstone Introduces New Game Formats and More Deck Slots)

Alongside that, you will also be able to get your hands on four “Legendary Old Gods” cards featuring C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, Y’Shaarj, and N’Zoth. Yep, those really are their names.

“It is said that for millennia uncounted the massive Old Gods lay dreaming in ageless sleep deep beneath the surface of Azeroth,” Blizzard elaborated in a blog post. “Maybe noisy taverns full of laughter, shouts of triumph, and clanking tankards are like a snooze alarm you can’t turn off, and this whole Old-Gods-waking-up thing is entirely our fault.”

You can now pre-order a 50-pack bundle of randomly-generated Whispers of the Old Gods cards for $49.99 (approx. Rs. 3,300) before the bundle releases next month. And should you choose to do so, you will be rewarded with a new card back for your loyalty to Blizzard.

The company said to expect the release of the new expansion across all platforms – Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android – starting end of next month and latest by early May.

(Also see: StarCraft on Your iPhone? Don’t Rule It Out, Says Blizzard)

You will be able to put down gold you earn in-game (or real money if you please) to get the new card packs contained within the expansion. Blizzard is trying to involve the community further by doing a further reveal of the cards coming with Whispers of the Old Gods next Monday. If you want to know more, head to the official website for the expansion to learn more then.

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Tags: Blizzard, CCG, Hearthstone, Whispers of the Old Gods
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