Modern art is all about finding the meaning in a collection of abstract shapes, so games are pretty much a perfect match. It's fitting then, that from March 2013, New York's Museum of Modern Art will install an exhibition of 14 games as a precursor to an intended collection of 40. Paola Antonelli, the Senior Curator for the museum's Department of Architecture and Design, has written a lengthy blog post to explain the selection process.
"Are video games art? They sure are," writes Paola, settling that argument. "They are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design — a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity."
The game's selected range from extremely complex simulation, to quick, fun bursts of action, but they all share a singular, driving focus of intent. Unsurprisingly, the majority of them originated on the PC. Here's the list of titles relevant to our interests:
Myst (1993) SimCity 2000 (1994) The Sims (2000) EVE Online (2003) Dwarf Fortress (2006) Portal (2007) Passage (2008) Canabalt (2009)
The museum is planning to display each game in a way that can do justice to its particular type. For short games like the Passage, that means a playable version, but more in-depth games like EVE and Dwarf Fortress require a different approach. "To convey their experience, we will work with players and designers to create guided tours of these alternate worlds, so the visitor can begin to appreciate the extent and possibilities of the complex gameplay."
The museum hopes to bolster their collection over the coming years, eventually planning to add Minecraft, Grim Fandango and NetHack, among others. You can see the full list at the MoMA website. Any games that you'd like to see immortalised as works of art?
We love games like Dota 2, League of Legends, and Smite, but the myriad skills needed to master their complex gameplay can scare new players away. That’s why, twice a month, we pick a key skill and teach you how to master it, using a character that particularly excels at or relies on that skill in-game.
This week, we’re tackling the most basic and rewarding skill, last hitting NPC creeps. And there's no better hero to learn the ropes with than Dota 2’s long-range, kill-master Sniper.
THE SKILL Last hitting is the most fundamental skill in games like Dota 2, often called ARPGs or MOBAs. Like any mechanic worth its bytes, it’s easy to understand—deal the killing blow to NPCs by timing your attacks so that you're the last person to hit it—and yet impossible to execute perfectly 100% of the time.
The ideal we're striving for is getting the last hit on every single NPC creep (those little minions marching down the lanes) that we encounter in every match. Perfectionists beware: you will never achieve this lofty goal. Instead, this week we're focusing on simply getting closer to the ideal than we were before.
Every worthwhile skill needs a good motivation for learning it. In the big three—Dota 2, LoL, and Smite—nearby players get a pump of XP every time a creep dies. But you don’t score any of the delicious gold coins stuffed inside that pixel piñata unless you're the last person to hit it. That means last hitting is the fastest way to boost your character’s power.
In Dota 2 specifically, it’s also the most reliable way to stunt your opponent’s growth, thanks to the unique deny mechanic that allows you to last hit friendly creeps as well. Killing our own troops may go against every international treaty, but it denies our rivals XP and gold, so we do it happily.
THE HERO It’s not really surprising that a hero named Sniper is really good at taking pot shots at minions. His Take Aim passive ability gives him the longest auto-attack range of any hero in the game, letting him finish off minions from a safe distance, so enemy players can’t harass him very easily.
He also has a 40% chance to score a Headshot on each of his attacks, adding bonus damage that can make up for your mistake of accidentally shooting a bit too early. And, trust me, that will happen a lot as a you try to master last hitting this week.
Usually, ranged heroes are more difficult to last hit with because you have to account for the time it takes for their attack projectile to travel as well. It’s a big enough of a challenge that I normally recommend a melee hero for learning to last hit, but Sniper’s shots are near-instant, thanks to a quick wind-up and super speedy projectiles.
On top of all that, Sniper is a Carry hero, meaning that he scales well with gear and will need a lot of last hits to earn the gold he’ll need to be effective. There’s nothing more depressing than a gold-starved Carry, so you absolutely need to last hit if you want to pull your weight.
Setting expectations Wouldn't it be great if you could be a pro at last hitting just by reading this article? Well, you can't. Sorry. Even professional players miss at least one last hit in every game they play.
For your first game as the Sniper, let’s keep the focus simple and the goal low. Aim to last hit 50% of the creeps in your lane (start with 30% if you’re new to Dota 2). Sniper is better than most heroes at last-hitting, which is why the percentage is so high—even on your worst days you should be able to get 1 or 2 per creep wave. As Sniper, you'll usually be in middle lane by yourself, so the only player you’re competing with for last hits is the enemy carry.
Remember that you can kill your own creeps in Dota 2 by attacking them (hit A then left-click) to deny the enemy the gold that it drops. That means you have twice as many health bars to monitor as you do in League of Legends and Smite, both of which do not have a shoot-your-friend deny mechanic.
Our ultimate goal for the week is to last hit 80% of the minions in our lane. We’re going to build up to that, but keep that long-term goal in mind when starting to practice.
Also worth keeping in mind: lightning attacks look awesome. Style points matter, people!
Getting started As Sniper, we’ve got a few advantages in our corner. The biggest is that our attack range is outrageous, so make sure you hang back as far as you can behind your troops. There’s no need to get close and expose yourself to potential ganks when you can safely last hit from a mile away.
Start off by making last hitting enemy creeps your top priority, and deny only when you have free windows of time in between. However, if the enemy hero is melee, they’re going to have to run into the danger zone to score their own last hits. When you find yourself in this situation, definitely take free potshots at them whenever they rush in to make them have to think twice about whether getting that last hit is worth it. In the extreme, your quick shots can even force them back to base to heal, giving you time to farm without opposition.
Even against ranged heroes, you will always out-range them if you need to harrass. But for now, play it safe and hang back against anyone that can engage you easily. Remember, we’re just focused on improving our last hit skills at this point.
At the start of the match (and then whenever you buy a new item), it’s a good idea to take a few practice shots at full-health creeps to get a feel for how long your hero's animation is and how much damage he or she character is doing.
These dead triceratops say my damage output is doing just fine.
On the next page: builds and items, micro tips, and your homework.
Builds and items I’m not going to walk you through an all-purpose build guide for Sniper here. There are plenty of sites for that if you’re interested. This guide is about learning to last hit well, so I'm going to give you a basic gameplan for building Sniper to practice last hitting in casual environments: co-op matches vs. AI or practice maps by yourself. This build is not meant to be your new secret to success in PvP games.
Put your first ability point into Headshot, and then work on maxing out Take Aim as soon as possible (level 7), while dumping the leftovers into Headshot. This will maximize your auto-attack range and damage, allowing you more wiggle room when last hitting. Don’t even worry about Shrapnel (an AoE DoT and slow) until later—the damage is negligible for our purposes.
Attack speed is a huge help when learning how to last hit on a new hero, because it reduces the punishment for attacking too early and will often let you swing a second time before the follow-up minion attack hits.
You want to balance it out with attack damage as well, though, which gives you a larger health margin to aim for. Start with Slippers of Agility to boost your low base damage and a Boots of Speed to help you duck in and out of harassment range while last hitting.
Build up towards Power Treads (switch it to Agility stat, unless you’re facing heavy pressure and need the Strength), and go for Butterfly as your first big item. It’s a beautiful blend of everything you want: attack speed, attack damage, and survivability. Shadow Blade is another very fun Sniper item that’s incredibly useful in teamfights or in situations where you really need an escape tool, but you can leave it in the bin during solo practice.
Wishing I had bought the Shadow Blade right about now...
Making adjustments Sadly, you won’t be able to simply sit in place and blast at minions all day. The battlefield is constantly in flux and you need to react to it.
If you find yourself trapped under a friendly tower, don’t try to outshoot it. It will kill most creeps in 3-5 hits. Watch the amount of health it’s taking off the creep it’s targeting and wait until you know the creep won’t survive the next tower hit to shoot it. It’s impossible to give a catch-all solution for how to beat a friendly turret, but the easiest mistake is to simply blast it willy nilly. If you’re really worried about it, just last hit minions that the turret isn’t currently focusing. It’s not too bad to burn down half-health creeps at that point because you can push the lane a bit without getting into enemy territory.
Likewise, it’s tough to deny your allied creeps under an enemy tower, but keep in mind that you don't necessarily need to get the last hit—you just need to make sure the enemy hero doesn't. It also doesn't hurt that you outrange turrets by level 7, so just keep the auto-attack pressure on any enemy melee heroes to let the turret eat the minions and be content with the draw.
If you find yourself under heavy pressure from constant ganks, narrow your focus to only getting last hits and run back towards your turret when there are none to be immediately had. There’s no reason to stand in the open waiting for the next creep wave when the enemy team is roaming.
By the time you realize you're surrounded by enemy heroes, it's too late.
Master tweaks Once you feel like you've got the general hang of last hitting and can regularly amass 50% of the lane creeps in last hits, it's time to add some finesse to your play.
It’s easy to put yourself out of position while last hitting. Left untouched, the creep waves will hover near the middle of the map. But if you’re making bad last hits and sniping every enemy NPC two times before it dies, the flow of battle is going to shift towards the enemy base. And, contrary to your gut impulse, that's bad because it means you're going to be fighting on their home turf, where every tree hides a ganker hungry for your delicious dwarven flesh. A good rule of thumb is that you want to keep the creep conflict on neutral or friendly ground so you don’t overextend yourself. If you need a guideline to follow, make sure that you take a shot at one of your own creeps for every shot you take at an enemy creep.
There will often come a time when you have to choose between last hitting the enemy’s creep or denying your creep. There can be a lot of factors involved, including where the enemy is, what abilities they have at their disposal, and which direction you want to move the creep wave, but my default preference is that I will always take an enemy creep kill over a deny. The reason is straight greed: killing an enemy minion nets me gold, denying doesn’t.
Outside of practice matches, it's just as important to last hit enemy heroes to score the sacks of gold and XP that comes with their bounty. Thankfully, Sniper excels at that as well courtesy of his death-summoning ultimate ability, Assassinate, which locks onto a target and puts a bullet through their head/shell/membrane/metal casing from long range.
Now here comes the tricky part. All of the hundreds of heroes in all the many MOBA games have different ranges, animations, and particle speeds that will affect the timing of your last hits. You may have mastered Dota 2’s Sniper, but you’ll need to learn each hero individually and practice them until it becomes a sort of muscle memory. You’ll know you’ve truly mastered a hero when you aren’t constantly thinking about last hitting while playing them.
Go forth and poke towers until they crumble!
Your homework Good luck out there this week, Snipers! As always, you can download Dota 2 on Steam, although you'll need a beta invite if you aren't already in. Hopefully some friendly folks can help out by offering friend invites in the comments below. Once you're in, all of the heroes, including Sniper, are 100% free, so there’s nothing stopping you from joining the PC Gamer community in-game this week.
Five goals to aim for as you learn to last hit with Sniper: 1. Hit level 6 without using any healing items or returning to base to heal. 2. Deny an entire creep wave by yourself while laned against enemy players. 3. Don’t let your opponents deny any creeps in a single wave. 4. Get 200 creep kills in a game. 5. Have the most creep kills on either team for two games in a row.
If you walk into New York's Museum of Modern Art in the near future, you might discover that its curators have taken a stance on the issue of "Are games art?" And that stance, it seems, is "Yes." Fourteen games including player-driven space MMO EVE Online, perplexing puzzle shooter Portal, and ASCII graphics-based breakdown of civilization simulator Dwarf Fortress will serve as "the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks in MoMA’s collection that we hope will grow in the future."
Other PC titles in the initial collection include Myst, SimCity 2000, The Sims, and Jason Rohrer's Passage. The games will be on display and presumably playable in the museum's Philip Johnson Galleries starting in March. You can read more about the collection on the MoMA official site.
Do games belong in art museums? Let us know what you think.
Team Fortress 2 is no stranger to crazy boss fights, but a Nolan North-voiced bomb spamming wizard is one thing, a floating skeletal head that shoots ubercharged spies is quite another. That's what you'll face in this insane TF2 community map, highlighted by Isaac creator Ed McMillen on his blog.
The map contains multiple levels and bosses from the game, and uses Blu team mercenaries in place of Isaac's varied cast of monsters. The video shows fights against Husk, Mom and Mom's Heart, as well as a representation of the Wrath of the Lamb expansion's super-final boss fight.
To play it you need to visit the Super Zombie Fortress server of the map's makers, the unfortunately named SLAG gaming. Annoyingly it's in rotation with the server's other SZF custom maps, meaning there's no guaranteed way to ensure a game. But you can still enjoy the absurdity of this boss fight round-up video.
Hollywood studios have approached Valve in the past to explore the possibility of adapting Half-Life for the silver screen, but before you could spit out "Uwe Boll," Valve declared that any sort of movie involving Freeman and Friends® would be created by its very hands. What-ifs persist, of course, and in an interview with New Rising Media (via VG247), Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw named Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro as a good fit for a hypothetical adaptation.
"Guillermo del Toro has the horror vibe that I think a lot of people miss out on when thinking about a Half-Life movie," Laidlaw said. "Half-Life is essentially horror after all. The science in it barely passes as hand-waving, but when a headcrab jumps at your head, it’s a precisely engineered jolt."
Laidlaw also thinks Total Recall and Starship Troopers director Paul Verhoeven could concoct something "insane" for a Half-Life film, and pointed to The Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson as a "purveyor of faithful adaptations." "There are probably a lot of good potential directors, but I think most of them are busy pursuing their own visions," he added.
Regardless of who would come aboard for the supposed project, they'd need the thumbs-up from Valve boss Gabe Newell, who holds a rather soured opinion of what Hollywood offered him so far. "Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story," he told us. "And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of."
Combating Thanksgiving food comas with the awe-inspiring power of the gaming binge, over 6 million gamers logged into Valve's digi-hub over the weekend after enduring the motions of spending "time" with "family." Undoubtedly spurred on by the Autumn Sale and its many wallet puns, the surge also rode the waves of numerous major releases such as PlanetSide 2, Assassin's Creed 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
The ballooned player count peaked around 11:00 a.m. PST Sunday with 6,045,912 users logged on, Kotaku noticed. Notice that's concurrent logins, not active game sessions—while games define the vanguard of Steam's excellence, the chart gathers numbers from simply having the program launched and running. That's where the always-handy Steam Graph service steps in with more numbers for your numbers.
Plugging in a few top releases into Steam Graph for the Thanksgiving weekend shows a fair spread across PC gaming's most popular genres. Dota 2's un-beta boasted a little over 170,000 simultaneous players on late Saturday, while soccer-sim Football Manager 2013's surprising strength topped at around 60,000. On Sunday night Black Ops 2 spiked at 51,000 soldiers, and PlanetSide 2's fight for Auraxia swelled to 30,000 Steam conscripts last night. Lastly, as many as 15,000 stone-faced killers were concurrently shoving sharp metal objects into various people in Assassin's Creed 3.
Conclusion? I'm really tired of turkey sandwiches, but Steam's powerful presence on the PC only increases with each passing year.
"Who needs a big brain when you've got teeth like mine?"
That line, plucked from Tidehunter's stable of bassy, boastful voice-over, tells you everything you need to know about him. The disenchanted former champion of the Sunken Isles is big, green and—relative to certain other Heroes—straightforward enough to play with your brain turned off. He’s a mana-efficient, no-frills initiator and a loveable lug all-around.
You can blame his ultimate for this. Screen-wide, tentacle-driven stuns that last for a sweet 2.77 seconds have a way of making everyone —ally and enemy alike—stop in their tracks.
But let's take a step back and examine Tidehunter through a more technical lens. The melee, strength-focused hero is part Aquaman, part Hulk. He’s a team player, a Hero who shines brightest when he's with his posse. Almost everything in his armament reflects this. Gush? Slows, damages and reduces armor. Kraken Shell? It provides marginal damage reduction, sure, but it lets him shed unfortunate debuffs. Anchor Smash? Injures and adds insult to injury by reducing enemy damage output. Both from a traditional and a practical standpoint, Tidehunter is built for initiating combat and soaking damage. Page 1 - Skills Page 2 - Items, How To Play Tidehunter Page 3 - Tidehunter Wallpapers
SKILLS Occasionally dismissed as a one-trick pony, Tidehunter is not without his intricacies. In the hands of a competent player, he’s is more than a simple bludgeon—he can be a work of art, and a percursor to bigger, badder things. And while that is excellent, this doesn't change the fact that a hammer to the face, regardless of whether it's being wielded by a novice or a veteran, is still a hammer to the face. GUSH Summons a gush of water to damage an enemy unit, reducing their movement speed and armor. http://youtu.be/68728IYAiok
Gush is, quite literally, Tidehunter regurgitating bilgewater and stomach acids on an adversary. What else would cripple and eat through dense armor? Filtered Avian? Please.
With that taken into consideration, it’s an unexpectedly lovely ability. The armor reduction from Gush isn't really comparable to the havoc that Dazzle's Weave can wreck on the enemy team but for a skill that comes with a touch of damage and a 40% reduction in movement speed? It works. It really does.
Because it works in so many possible ways, it's easy to forget that Gush comes with an exorbitant price tag. Compared to the other skills in Tidehunter's arsenal, Gush is expensive, so much so that, in the earliest stages of a hypothetical match, it's the only thing you'll be able to cast before you have to chug down a mana potion.
Much like in real life, careful budgeting is essential here. Make the mistake of overestimating how much mana you have after that initial Gush and chances are you'll find yourself in the midst of your enemies with nothing but a sheepish grin to protect you.
KRAKEN SHELL Creates a thick armor shell that reduces physical damage and removes negative buffs when damage received reaches a critical threshold. Kraken Shell does not stack with items that provide Damage Block. http://youtu.be/mbIfRCkRM6g
Of all of Tidehunter's abilities, Kraken Shell is probably the one with the least immediate value. But that doesn't mean it's irrelevant. Kraken Shell can be great. Regardless of whether we're talking about 28 or 2000 base damage mitigation at level X , any means of cushioning the impact of a hit is amazing and while it doesn't quite scale into late game, that early 15% reduction (on average, most heroes will be dealing roughly 150 to 175 damage per basic attack by the time you have Kraken Shell maxed) in incoming damage is still pretty darn sweet.
More importantly, however, much like the safety belt we so often take for granted, Kraken Shell will save your life. Take this story as an example.
A friend of mine and his team had cornered an enemy Tidehunter in the river near Roshan. Doom seemed inevitable for the unfortunate Leviathan. As Tidehunter's health dwindled away, the Mirana on his team made one last desperate attempt to save her comrade. She hit her ultimate. Tidehunter became invisible. Just as quickly, my friend's teammate responded with Dust of Appearance.
“Pro,” my pal thought approvingly. The fish would die.
For a split second, Tidehunter returned to view before, just as abruptly, he vanished from sight again.
“You did get dusted, right?” A hesitant inquiry over all-chat.
ANCHOR SMASH Tidehunter swings his mighty anchor to damage nearby enemies and reduce their attack damage. http://youtu.be/30uJcLr3ttA
While Tidehunter is normally picked for that outrageous ultimate of his, Anchor Smash is what puts him completely over-the-top. His third ability is what separates leviathans from bottom feeders, what anchors him as one of the best initiators ever.
Even after taking the maritime menace's shallow mana pool into account, Anchor Smash, with its low cost and near-negligible cooldown, is still delightfully spammable. Four seconds? 60 mana? It doesn't really get better than that.
But wait, it does: Enemies caught within Anchor Smash's generous radius of effect will receive a 40% reduction to their base damage for up to six seconds. In a game so often dominated by hard-hitting, autoattack-loving carries like Anti-Mage and Drow Ranger, Anchor Smash is a godsend. At the cost of a measly 60 mana, it allows you to almost halve the damage output from any given hero. Sure, it does nothing against, say, Lina's ultimate, but it can certainly make Night Stalker less of a reason to wet your pants.
RAVAGE Slams the ground, causing tentacles to erupt in all directions, damaging and stunning all nearby enemy units. http://youtu.be/BZBsiD9wuWQ In a perfect setting, you'd be equipped with every item that you need, be blessed with phenomenal, catlike reflexes and no lag whatsoever. The enemy will be bunched in a group. You'll blink in, a watermelon-patterned behemoth of death and destruction, and hit R for Ravage. Ecstatic screaming ensues. A disgruntled enemy will sullenly announce ”GG.” “Good game,” you'll think to yourself, as you let a smile unseen curve your lips as the team marches onwards to enemy's last bastion of defense. Yes, this is the sort of MOBA memory you’ll stow away as a future story for your grandchildren.
It doesn't always happen like that.
In fact, it usually doesn't. Generally speaking, it's more likely to go like this:
Your Naga Siren will decide it's high time to sing the song of her people. Why? Because she is the prophesied carry, because an ultimate that temporarily emasculates both teams (enemies will neither move nor take damage during Siren's performances) is apparently far more effective than a damaging, screen-wide stun. Because she damn-well wanted to.
"But I thought I was initiating!" She'll remark as your head sinks against the keyboard.
No one ever said it was easy being green. That said, Ravage still rocks. It's one of the reasons that Tidehunter sees so much play. Even at level 1, his ultimate boasts of an impressive 885 radius and a sizable 2.02 stun. As you might have guessed, it isn't too hard to hit your mark with Ravage – all it really takes is the ability to be within the same general vicinity as the enemy. Hit 'R' to win, idiot teammates notwithstanding.
TIDEHUNTER CORE ITEMS (Buy these items or we can't be friends.)
Arcane Boots For all of his stellar qualities, Tidehunter's almost painfully mana inefficient, a gas guzzler if there ever was one . Consequently, no other form of footwear better complements Tidehunter than a pair of Arcane Boots. To provide a bit of perspective on the matter, Arcane Boots will bolster Tidehunter's existing mana pool by an additional 250 points—that's more than enough for two extra Gushes. Once you throw in Arcane Boots' active ability—it feeds you and allies within a certain radius 135 mana—there's really no other reason to opt for different shoes. Blink Dagger Blink Dagger is Tidehunter's little black dress : simple, perfectly suited for every occasion and an absolutely essential part of his wardrobe. Though a somewhat costly investment—2150 gold isn’t exactly lunch money—it's one that is worth its weight in precious metals, primarily because it circumnavigates Tidehunter's biggest weakness: his lack of maneuverability. With a Blink Dagger, Tidehunter won't have to worry about his torpid turn rate or his minimal talent at crowd control. Instead, he'll be able to pretend to be a freakin' ninja albeit one that has more in common with sashimi than the folk who eat it.
HOW TO PLAY TIDEHUNTER Early game is an interesting beast. Depending on who you talk to, the correct method for playing Tidehunter can differ drastically. For some, like a friend of mine who routinely engages in high-level games, Tidehunter's natural habitat is either the offlane or the aggressive trilane . In the former, his role is to harvest as much gold and experience as possible, to disrupt his opponent's attempts at creep-based agriculture and be as much of a pain as possible without compromising his safety. If he's part of a three-way, Tidehunter's role changes a bit. Here, he often finds himself instigating contact between neutral creeps and his own or aggressively spraying bodily fluids of some variety on the enemy.
For others, like Loveless and this errant League of Legends player on DOTAfire, Tidehunter can be more of a supportive character or an aggressor in a two-man show. It varies, really, especially in public games where nothing is really impossible.
Depending on the setup of the match, Tidehunter's skill build will change as well. Should Tidehunter be positioned in the solo offlane or in any other similar scenario, Anchor Smash will take priority over Gush. Inversely, if the Hero ends up responsible for catalyzing kills, Gush often gets maxed out first. Regardless of the situation, however, Kraken Shell is usually left for last. Though it offers increased damage reduction, its importance is far outweighed by the other skills in Tidehunter's repertoire. (Needless to say, Ravage is leveled at every possible opportunity.)
Once mid-game approaches, things become less ambiguous. Ultimately, Tidehunter was created for one purpose and one purpose only: to initiate fights and to mitigate all incoming damage, something that becomes all too easy after the introduction of a Blink Dagger. With the aforementioned accessory, Tidehunter will be able to catapult himself into the center of his unsuspecting enemies to cast Ravage before following up with an Anchor Smash and the usage of Gush on anyone attempting escape.
The rest of the game generally follows the pattern: Blink. Ravage. Anchor Smash. Gush. Rinse and repeat. What usually varies toward end game are the items that you purchase after that all-so-crucial Blink Dagger. If the other team is heavy on stuns or magic damage, it's not uncommon to see a Black King Bar or a Pipe of Insight fitted into Tidehunter's shopping list. Shiva's Guard, however, is frequently the tertiary purchase of choice, thanks Tidehunter's normal placement in any team fight. Should the game drag on long enough, a Refresher Orb can make an appearance as well. More eclectic picks such as Vladimir's Offering, Assault Cuirass and even Radiance have all been made to work—it's largely up to the individual. So long as you don't deviate from the core formula, Tidehunter can be a swimmingly easy Hero to captain.
Cassandra Khaw is a street dancer, an entry-level audiophile, a voracious reader and an itinerant freelance journo for places like Tech Hive, PC World, Indiegames Blog, PC Gamer and more. When not otherwise working at a weird hour, she can be found chasing down confederates in DOTA2 is a desperate attempt to keep them healed. Like every other hipster Asian out there, she started playing DotA about a decade ago and still misses Riki's original Ultimate.
Next page: Tidehunter wallpapers
The original Tidehunter art featured in this guide was illustrated by Lisa Cunha. Check out Lisa's portfolio. Tidehunter wallpapers 2560x1600 1920x1200 1920x1080 1600x900 3840x1080 (dual-monitor) 1024x1024 (iPad) 640x960 (iPhone)
From December 12th, trading through the Steam inventory will be restricted to accounts that have had Steam Guard, Valve's account protection system, activated for 15 days.
Steam's trading service lets users exchange items from different games, as well allowing for the swapping and gifting of the games themselves. Mostly, of course, it's used to facilitate Team Fortress 2's strange hat-based economy.
So what's brought about the change of policy? For starters there was the recent allegation that Russian mobsters were using TF2 to launder money by purchasing keys in bulk, trading them for earbuds, then selling them at a slightly reduced price. Perhaps more tellingly, the change is being made just before Christmas, when Valve traditionally likes to perform weird experiments with sale achievements and tradable items. As this Reddit thread points out, last year crafty users were able to exploit the coal promotion to get more favourable trades.
Steam Guard is a free service that forces an additional email confirmation every time you log in from a new PC. Tying an extra layer of protection to virtual economies is becoming an increasingly common practice - Blizzard already require Battle.net Authenticator for Diablo III players looking to use the real money auction house. If you're a regular Steam trader who's yet to enable Steam Guard, you've until tomorrow to make the switch and ensure uninterrupted service.
In other trading news, TF2 recently doubled the size of its maximum backpack size to 2,000, provided players are prepared to spend the £47.43 it would take to purchase enough Backpack Expanders to reach the limit. That might seem overkill right now, but in the future, when all goods and services are purchased through a Bill's Hat bartering system, you'll be glad of the extension.
Good news, everyone! Steam, Amazon, Blizzard, and more have kicked off Consumer Season by booby trapping the web with potent spending bait such as 33% off XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 50% off The Walking Dead, and 66% off StarCraft II. We spent the morning stumbling through the minefield to compile a list of some of the best seasonal discounts, but stay vigilant: more surprise server-busters are bound to go live as we approach the spendiest weekend of the year.
Steam: Like the Summer Sale, the Steam Autumn Sale rotates deals daily, with even more fleeting Flash Sales lasting only 10 to 15 hours, so serious shoppers should check in at least twice a day. As a bonus, you get to follow Steam's adorable doodle story: currently, it seems a turkey is being forced to enter a Felix Baumgartner-inspired high diving competition.
But don't just look at the front page: Steam isn't promoting most of its deals, so scan the full list now and then. Here are some of the better discounts at the time of writing:
33% off XCOM: Enemy Unknown - $33.49 / £20.09 50% off The Walking Dead - $12.49 / £10.49 25% off Borderlands 2 - $44.99 / £22.49 75% off ARMA II: Combined Operations - $17.99 / £14.99 25% off Dishonored - $44.99 / £22.49 50% off Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - $11.24 / £8.99 33% off The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - $40.19 / £23.44 75% off Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - $2.49 / £1.74 75% off Limbo - $2.49 / £1.74 25% off Torchlight II - $14.99 / £11.24 75% off Cave Story+ - $2.49 / £1.74 More Steam Deals
Amazon: (Some deals are region-specific) Amazon hasn't been quite as liberal as Steam with the big games, but it has conjured a storm of Lightning Deals on desktop PCs, components, and peripherals. The scattershot selection below should give you an idea of what to expect.
17% off iBuyPower AM699 Desktop - $579.99 18% off CyberpowerPC GUA890 Desktop - $499.99 39% off Dell S2330MX 23" Ultra-Slim VGA Monitor - $139.99 40% off Samsung Series S24B30BL 23.6-Inch Screen LCD Monitor - $119.99 33% off Corsair Vengeance C70 Mid Tower Case - $97.45 31% off Logitech Optical Gaming Mouse G400 - $34.49 19% off Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse - $64.62
50% off The Walking Dead - $12.49 (Steam code) 80% off Dungeon Defenders - $2.99 10% off Hitman: Absolution - $44.99 75% off all Assassin's Creed games (excluding Assassin's Creed III) More Amazon Deals
Blizzard: Blizzard has joined the party with Diablo III for $40 / £33 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for $20 / £17.
GOG: GOG's current sale nets you five games from a list of 20 for a mere $10 (just over £6). The list is loaded with some great indie adventure and puzzle games, so if you don't already own them, now's a good time to prepare for that "it's cold outside, so I'm going to drink tea (whiskey optional) and not leave my screen for the next forever hours" feeling.
Green Man Gaming: While Green Man doesn't celebrate consumerism with a morbid-sounding Friday, it is offering its usual voucher code. Enter GMG20-1FYLZ-EDG8R when purchasing a PC download for 20% off any game, except those already on sale. At the time of writing, GMG's daily deal (North America only) is Mass Effect 3: N7 Digital Deluxe for $15.99.
Newegg: (US and Puerto Rico only) Newegg has taken this whole "Black Friday" thing awfully far. Not only has it preempted Black Friday with "Black November," it's re-preempting it with a Pre-Black Friday Frenzy sale. How about a 500 GB Western Digital WD Blue hard drive for $50? A Samsung B350 Series LED monitor for $180? Keep in mind that if you visit Newegg from now until December 1st, you should not expect to then purchase other things, like food.
If you find any great deals as the weekend progresses, we'd love it if you shared them in the comments. And if all these sales combined with a poorly-timed lack of funds has you feeling down, remember that buying stuff is only briefly thrilling, while instead you could be continuously thrilled by PlanetSide 2, MechWarrior Online, Tribes: Ascend, or many of the other new free-to-play games we're thankful for this year.
Caring, sharing types rejoice: Valve have released a patch which enables two-controller splitscreen play for Portal 2, making it all the easier to give your co-op buddy a purple nurple when they "accidentally" mis-time the placement of an Excursion Funnel. Again.
And you aren't restricted to squinting at a fraction of your desktop monitor, either: the update adds support for Big Picture mode, allowing you to bicker over who gets to hold the Discouragement Redirection Cube in the comfort of your own living room.
All you have to do to activate splitscreen is to press X on the second controller inside the first co-op menu, and then a whole new world of same-screen squabbling is available. We recommend you fuel your newfound fractious fellowship with our recent guide to the top 10 Portal 2 co-op maps.
The patch also fixes a couple of controller support glitches: previously the ‘quick ping’ button caused the player’s movement to stop and it was impossible to exit Robot Enrichment or Create Test Chambers menus using the controller alone. No longer!