Shacknews - John Keefer

Overwatch's Play of the Game system has been pretty popular, patting players on the back for exceptional kills and crazy strategies. Blizzard has taken notice, and will be implementing a similar system in Heroes of the Storm.

MVP and Commendations will be making its way into the game as part og HotS's next major patch. The way it will work is that after each non-custom match, the game will list a player as the MVP based on in-game performance, whether they were part of the winning team or not. In addition, there will be four other awards passed out to players for exceptional team play:

  • Headhunter: Most Mercenary camps captured.
  • Bulwark: Most damage taken by a Warrior Hero.
  • Cannonneer: Most Core damage done on Towers of Doom.
  • Moneybags:  Most coins turned in on Blackheart’s Bay.
  • Stunner: Longest combined Stun time against enemy Heroes.
  • Dominator: Biggest killing spree
  • Painbringer: Biggest percentage of team's hero damage
  • Siege Master: Biggest percentage of team's structure damage
  • Experienced: Biggest percentage contribution to team's XP

There may be more when the patch finally hits, but the idea is obviosuly to reward teamwork rather than stand out on your own.

Also, opposing players will be able to jump in and offer commendations to your team. By clicking on an arrow under each player, a vote is cast for the commendation. Voting should take no more than 15 seconds.

So what does all this get you? According to Blizzard, "Players who receive enough commendations at the end of the match will be elevated to Epic or Legendary status and may even receive a little extra fanfare," although they don't offer what that fanfare might be. I guess we'll just have to read the patch notes closely whenever the next major update hits.

No word on whether Overwatch's "poor winners" system will also be implemented.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Never pass up a photo op with a huge bollard painted to look like a Pokeball. At least, Target is hoping Pokemon Go players feel that way.

In a move to catch them all - players, no Pokemon - the retail chain has painted the huge red concrete balls outside more than 400 of its stores in the hopes of grabbing trainers hunting for an elusive Dragonite to pause for a photo, and then perhaps enter the store and buy some Pokemon merchandise. This could also be a precursor to some sort of deal down the road between Target and Niantic to turn the all the stores in Poke Stops.

Of course, Target isn't the only one trying to capitalize on the wild success of the mobile game. Restaurants, fast food chains and even churches have referenced (or targeted) the game in ads or get-togethers aimed at players. And even though Pokemon Go player numbers are dropping, any sale coming from pandering to eager trainers is better than no sale, right?

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Hearthstone's "One Night in Karazhan" adventure is nearing its conclusion, and already having a big impact on the meta. Shacknews spoke with lead designer Dean Ayala and senior software engineer Rachelle Davis about the adventure's most controversial card, the plans to shake up Arena balance with a more personal touch, and why Secrets aren't likely to expand anytime soon.

Purify was just released this week as part of the Menagerie, and it's been savaged leading up to release, including in our own review. Ayala echoed lead designer Ben Brode's public statements, suggesting that the team saw the sentiment change as they were nearing release. 

"I was pretty happy with Purify going in, because a lot of people were really excited about building that deck," Ayala said. "Going in, about a month before release, the conversation really began to set on, 'Priest isn't a powerful class,' at least from a community perspective. So to get a card where the power level isn't reaching 8-10 internally, I think maybe Karazhan may not have been the right time for perception."

Given the long lead times to finalize art for adventures, though, it's likely that the team couldn't have pulled Purify if they'd wanted to. Plus, Ayala said, it's not as if they have lots of readymade cards just waiting in the wings.

"I wish there was a list of thousands of cards to pull from," he said. "The reality is that it's hard to come up with designs that make sense for each particular set. We're really iterating up to the last minute."

If Purify seems to be dominating the conversation surrounding this expansion, that's at least partly because the outcry led to an unprecedented move: excluding the card from Arena entirely. In his comments on the decision, Brode had revealed that the team is actively working on having more control over Arena, with a greater degree of specificity as to how often a card appears. Pulling Purify was a stopgap measure until it can implement this. Ayala expanded on the team's plans. 

"We could pretty easily go in and say 'Warrior's not as powerful as Mage so let's make Death's Bite show up, you know five times more,' or something. I think that that's something we would not do," Ayala said. "If we wanted to make it so Mage was less powerful, I think we would keep in cards like Unstable Portal that are high winrate cards, but maybe we might pull back on something like Flamestrike that isn't really the most fun thing to play or play against.

"So it's really about finding the cards that people are the most upset with. It's not exactly super fun to lose to a deck that has six Flamestrikes in it, but if you have a deck that has six Unstable Portals--or, I even think Firelands Portal is a pretty fun card to utilize in the right circumstances. If we want to make Warrior more powerful we want to make sure that we're adding cards that are more fun and not necessarily just more powerful. And when we're taking cards away from classes we want to make sure aren't the really iconic fun things for those classes too. We have the tools right now to remove cards completely so that's something we're investigating as well."

Davis added that the plan is to generally "improve the tools we give our team to tweak what goes into the Arena and the frequency, and that's a pretty large endeavour that I'm pretty excited about because I get to code it."

This adventure also introduces a new Secret card, after the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion oddly didn't include any at all. At the time, Blizzard told us they were taking a break from Secrets to reevaluate how best to utilize them. Now that we have a new one, Ayala indicated that the retirement of Mad Scientist from Standard meant the team wanted to introduce new Secret synergy, rather than just new Secrets themselves.

"There's a lot of Secrets right now," he said. "So I think that when you're designing [Secrets], I think a good place to start is a card like Cloaked Huntress, which allows you to make a deck where you can put a bunch of Secrets in there. So the fact that we made a new Secret, you could make a deck with Cloaked Huntress and the Secret card. I think going forward, we're just going to make sure it's a build-around that makes you want to put Secrets in your deck. I think a card like Cloaked Huntress might be the right place to start instead of just adding a bunch of crazy powerful Secrets."

So is there any hope for a new class getting Secrets? Only three classes in Hearthstone use the mechanic natively, rendering some neutral cards like Secretkeeper limited in scope. The community has noted that in terms of flavor, Rogue seems primed for using Secrets. But that doesn't seem likely, due to the sheer card investment needed to kick it off.

"Adding to a new class is hard because there needs to be a critical mass of Secrets," he said. "If we were like 'Rogue could use Secrets, let's give them one,' it's not really a Secret. So to add Secrets to a class you really have to go all-in. Five Secrets, two build-arounds. And if you don't really enjoy playing a Secret deck, that's all your class got in an expansion." 

Meanwhile, the design team has to keep up with several different environments all at once. Not only do you have the Standard and Wild formats, the team also has to plan ahead for next year's set, when some of the prior ones will cycle out of rotation. 

"It's an insane juggling act and there are a lot of moving pieces, but I can tell you the way the team thinks about adding new cards to the environment has definitely shifted because this is new to us, across the board," Davis said.

As for the here and now, the meta is still in the kind of slow fluctuation that always comes with the progressive release of new cards during an adventure event. Ayala says he's glad to see Onyx Bishop and Priest of the Feast making some waves among the community despite the concerns about Priest's power level before the adventure. He also predicts one much-maligned card will find a home eventually.

"I think Moroes is actually not terrible," he said. "If youre a deck that can afford to wait around, a ton of tokens can be really strong in the decks it can survive against. I think Moroes will find a place."

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Corsair has announced its new LUX range of mechanical keyboards is now available worldwide.

For the Corsair LUX range, the company has built on the foundations its K70, K70 RGB, and K65 mechanical keyboards by adding a host of new features and improvements. In addition to its enhanced lighting, USB pass-through and back-lit optimized key cap font, the Corsair LUX range adds an internal lighting controller that allows for finer color adjustment and more patterns and effects.

The Corsair LUX range of mechanical keyboards offers six different Cherry MX keyswitch types, two different sizes, and three different lighting options.

The Corsair LUX range starts with the K70 LUX priced at $119.99, then moves upward toward the K65 LUX RGB for $129.99 and the K70 LUX RGB for $159.99.

We reviewed a version of the K70 RGB earlier this year, called the K70 RGB Rapidfire. While there appear to be some differences between it and the LUX brand, such as the switches and its new lighting features, it appears to have the same design and core elements.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Leaks are fun. You scramble to get the info before it is pulled down, taking screencaps as needed. Such is today's tale of Resident Evil 7 Biohazard and the ESRB.

The ratings board apparently has slapped an M on the game, then went into great detail about why it did so (via Wario64) in the ratings summary (oh, SPOILERS):

"This is a survival-horror game in which players assume the role of Ethan, a man searching for his missing wife in a derelict mansion. From a first-person perspective, players explore the environment and use pistols, shotguns, flamethrowers, explosives and chainsaws to kill mutant creatures. Combat is accompanied by realistic gunfire, screams of pain, and exaggerated blood-splatter effects. As players progress through the story, cutscenes can depict instances of gore and intense acts of violence: a character's arm dismembered by a chainsaw; a man's leg taken off at the knee with a shovel; a character impaled through the face with a shovel. Some areas also depict mutilated corpses with exposed organs/viscera. The words “f**k” and “sh*t” are heard in the dialogue."

Such a wonderful array of weapons. And we have run into the name Ethan before, as it was mentioned by a woman exploring an old dilapidated plantation in Dulvey, Louisiana, during footage of the game from GamesCom.

Capcom obviously was not happy, as the rating has since been pulled. But the truth is now out there, people, so p[repapre yourself for the game's release on January 24 for PS4 (and VR), Xbox One and PC.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Sega has announced Valkyria: Azure Revolution will launch in Japan on January 19 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

The all-new game within the Valkyria series was first revealed back in November 2015, and since then, we’ve learned some of its brief story details as well as its story-changing permadeath feature.

Day One versions of Valkyria: Azure Revolution will include a redeemable code for a fully-voiced additional story that takes place before the title’s main storyline, called “Judgment Chapter: Vanargand Formation.” Another fully-voiced story is also available to those who pre-register their purchase on the game’s official website.

There’s currently no word if these additional stories will make their way to the eventual North American release of Valkyria: Azure Revolution.

Those attending next month’s Tokyo Game Show will be able to experience Valkyria: Azure Revolution’s latest demo, as well as witness the reveal of an all-new trailer. Those who attend the show will receive a redeemable code for Battle Demo Ver. 2.0, which will become available to download in early October.

Valkyria: Azure Revolution currently has no North American release date set, but considering the popularity of the Valkyria series in the region, we have a feeling it’s only a matter of time until Sega announces its upcoming availability.

To supplement today's release date announcement, Sega has released the following trailer for Valkyria: Azure Revolution:

Shacknews - John Keefer

Agent 47's next elusive target will be a bit more difficult than usual. He will have no knowledge of what his mark looks like, and it is likely that our assassin friend may be spotted long before he even gets close.

The newest target is The Black Hat, also known as Owen "Protagonist" Wagner. He is with his long-time partner who is only known as Whitecap. They are located in Paris, somewhere around the Palais de Walewska. Players may recognize the locale from a previous mission The Showstopper, where spies Viktor Novikov and Dalia Margolis were the target. Margolis is back, having hired Protagonist and Whitecap for a high profile hack.

Players are advised to stay away from cameras, with the only other tip being that the target likes to jam a lot, a reference to his using a cheap fruit marmalade only available in Alabama.

As usual, no minimap icons, no instinct mode, 72 hours to complete, and only one chance before he is gone for good. The target is now active, and will be out of the area on Monday, August 29, by 8 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. PT. 

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

After several months of delays, Halo Online has been canceled.

Halo Online was originally expected to release as a free-to-play first-person shooter for PC specifically in Russia. But a post on social media platform VK has confirmed Microsoft has outright canceled the project.

"Over the past six months, our colleagues from Microsoft failed to make decisions on the future of the project," the posting reads. "Now we know only one thing. The current form of the game will not be released."

As sudden as the news of cancellation was, its August 30th closing is even more sudden as players will only have a few days to redeem any of their in-game rewards. Although considering Halo Online will be no more in a couple of days, the last thing players will want to worry about is redeeming in-game items.

This entire experience doesn’t appear to be a waste of time as a Microsoft spokesperson tells Shacknews the company was able to learn from it. The Halo Online closed beta test represented a great opportunity for us to learn how to deliver a great Halo experience to PC players," the spokesperson tells us. "We recently concluded the closed beta and are grateful to all the players who participated in Russia. We look forward to applying the beta learnings to future Halo PC experiences."

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

It appears Duke Nukem’s big surprise may have been outed as a remastered version of Duke Nukem 3D may be announced soon.

A teaser website popped up yesterday that counts down to the 20th anniversary of Duke Nukem 3D. The site features a “Happy 20th Anniversary” banner along with a countdown clock, but nothing else.

The remastered version of Duke Nukem 3D, which is expected to be called Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour, was revealed by Reddit user Tezla55. The user says the information was leaked to them by someone familiar with the project, who says the game is being developed by Nerve Software and even included several screenshots.

Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour is expected to feature the classic game along with some new and original content. The title may also feature co-op and online deathmatch, although that information isn’t completely accurate as they’re not 100% sure of these features.

Here are the screenshots as well as an image of the game’s logo:

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

2K Games has released a new extended gameplay video for its upcoming BioShock compilation, BioShock: The Collection.

While 2K has shown us what Rapture will look like with improved graphics, even going as far to compare BioShock’s opening sequence, today’s video is a straight playthrough of the first 13 minutes along with some commentary.

Within this time, we can see Jack surviving his plane crash, find his way into the lighthouse, and enter the underwater utopia of Rapture. Once Jack arrives in Rapture, we can see him face off against Splicers and come face to face with a Little Sister and Big Daddy.

BioShock: The Collection is scheduled to release on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on September 13.

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