Monthly Archives: November 2011

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Preview

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm Preview

By Umar Farooq (Kluey), OnRPG Journalist




Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm is the second expansion pack of Starcraft 2 that debuted at Blizzcon 2011. The first expansion featured the race Terran. This second much anticipated expansion pack will feature the swarm race, Zerg. Along with many new units there will be improved multiplayer and single player features. In this article we will go over only the multiplayer features as there are more than enough single player features for its own article.




Balance is one of the most important if not the most difficult thing about Heart of the Swarm. The most balanced way to add a new expansion pack would be to not add anything obviously. The only problem with that is, it’s completely useless and no one would buy it. To avoid breaking the game, Blizzard has avoided many types of units such as the tier one units since they are easy to mass.  These units were being used as the dominant unit in almost every strategic composition. The Marine was used in every match up except for TvT mech. This caused the game to look a bit repetitive and dull. Blizzard also decided not to make more of these units because of how the previous meta-game worked. Attack command and macro (producing more units and spending all your resources) was the way to play. Because of this, Blizzard is introducing many spell casting units that benefit from micro (the art of controlling your units to make them more cost efficient).


New Units and Removed Units:


Protoss is the race that is known for attack commanding, aka clicking, their massed army into the enemy army. Blizzard intends to change this by introducing many spell casters and positional units for Protoss. Another problem with Protoss was the early game. Early game, many players would die to a timing attack or all-in attack which is so much more powerful. I think that these units will help blend Protoss into a race that requires speed and agile fingers rather than just a sharp mind and a large map.



The Oracle helps Protoss harass as the warp prism was an unsuccessful unit until recently. Denying mineral patches for 45 seconds is absolutely huge as it nullifies the base almost entirely. The Replicator is good but has stirred up some controversy about the future of competitive Starcraft. In traditional Starcraft fashion, a strategy is beaten by good play not by making the proper unit. With the Replicator, any early push with a Siege Tank will require you to make a Replicator and you’re fine. While this is good for lower level players, it makes Starcraft less of the hundreds of actions per minute game and more into the chess-type game. The Tempest is kind of weird as it’s an anti-air unit but, besides Mutalisks, air isn’t really a problem for Protoss players. The Tempest does hit ground units too but does very little damage, making it extremely cost inefficient.



Now, the news that everyone has been sad about, the Carrier will be removed! The Carrier has been an all time favourite unit since Broodwar. Hundreds of interceptors being thrown out by a massive aircraft is just awesome in every way. The Carrier also added a lot of strategic gameplay as you can’t make a Carrier whenever you felt like. It took a long time and money to build so you had to fit that into your gameplan. In other news, the Mothership will be removed and replaced by spells on a Nexus. I don’t particularly like this as it rewards bad play in a sense. If you’re missing your chrono boosts you will have energy to recall. This seems a bit unlike Starcraft to me but I could see it working out fine.


Carriers releasing their Interceptors


The Terran is a human race that uses infantry and artillery to fight their enemies. In Wings of Liberty, the Terran race was considered the strongest race. Terran’s main problem was they were going with the same style of play in almost every game. In their mirror match-up, if the opponent Terran went for a mechanic type build, you would respond with the exact same build or go for a bionic build. Any mix of the two would put you slightly behind as you will have weak armies of both rather than one strong army. To counteract this, Blizzard has put some reactionary units in the Terran arsenal.



The Warhound will help against the mechanic style in Terran vs Terran and some Terran vs Protoss play as Stalkers and Sentries are both mechanical. The Battle Hellion is the anti-light unit but has some health. This will be extremely helpful against marines, zerglings and zealots as normal hellions were way too fragile. The Battle Hellion will also be slower to balance out the extra health it receives. The one unit that got everyone talking was the Shredder.


Shredders zoning out zerglings and banelings


The units that will be removed aren’t that huge for Terran. The Thor is being replaced by a ‘Super’ Thor that you can only have one of and does extreme amounts of damage. Apart from that, Reapers are losing their building attack bonus damage which is a bit weird as late game reapers were extremely effective because of how fast they were and how they could take out buildings really quickly. The Battle Cruiser is being ‘buffed’ and will be given a charge type spell that allows it to sprint quickly towards the enemy. This will be interesting to see because air units are typically supposed to stay close to their supporting units rather than charging in. It could be a good spell to get away from unwanted engagements but it still doesn’t fit the unit as the Battle Cruiser is pretty large.




Zerg is the swarm race that is being put in the spotlight in this expansion. Zergs are usually considered to be the middle race. They aren’t the strongest but aren’t the weakest. They have a good balance between making decisions and playing fast whereas Protoss leans towards the mental game and Terran towards the physical game.



A unit that wasn’t a big problem amongst the players but was to the developers is the Overseer. The Overseer is a unit that gives detection but also gives supply. A unit that has a use but also gives supply is extremely hard to balance. For this reason, the Overseer will be replaced by the Viper which has the ability to give any one unit detection for the rest of the game. It also has a spell that can reduce the sight range of units to 1 and a spell that will pull a unit towards it. The spell that will pull a unit is hard to balance because the strong fragile units are always a target and pulling it into your army makes it so much easier to focus down. The second unit is the Swarm Host. The Swarm Host is a siege unit that sends out 2 mini-units that do not take supply. It will help Zerg to put constant pressure on its opponent.



Vipers reducing the range of marines to 1


Apart from the Overseer being removed, all Zerg units will stay. There will be upgrades for Hydralisk Speed, Burrow Baneling Movement, and Ultralisk Charge. Corruptors’ corrupt spell will be removed (sounds correct, yes?) and will gain a channelling spell that gives you money and does 1 dps.




In conclusion, Heart of the Swarm will bring many new things good and bad. One thing to keep in mind for this game and usually any preview is that things will be changed or even removed totally. Also, new things will be introduced which weren’t released at the time of this preview. At the current state all things will be imbalanced. It will be interesting to see how Blizzard ends up releasing this expansion without throwing things out of whack. When this eventually goes live I’ll see about looking into the game and writing up my impressions.

Firefall Releases New Wave of Beta Invites

Firefall Releases New Wave of Beta Invites



Phobos, Community Manager for Red 5 Studios, the development studio behind Firefall, today made a forum announcement that a new wave of beta invites have been sent out.



For those that have been closely following this game, rush to your spam folders now and see if you are among the lucky few hundreds to be sent access! Those invited today will not only gain access but have the golden key to let someone else into the game to play as well.



And for those of us (like myself!) that do not yet have access to Firefall, fear not. If the beta testing goes well over the next couple days, more invites are promised!

ROSH Online: The Return of Karos


ROSH Online: The Return of Karos brings players into an updated world built off its predecessor. Based in a world torn by blood, the once peaceful ROSH council has fallen to the Ismaul clan. Now warriors around the kingdom are taking up arms to usurp the Ismaul and restore the council that once brought peace and democracy to the land.



Faster Leveling, More Rewards: ROSH offers tons of quests and fast leveling speeds to ensure players can access more job upgrades and power ups faster than your typical MMORPG.

Extreme Instance Dungeon: Experience a new competitive PvE experience in which players battle other players in their level group to kill the most monsters in an instance.

Crafting: Through hunting, fishing, and mining among other professions, players will obtain the raw materials to forge powerful armor sets.

Guild Warfare: Test your faction’s metal against your foes in both the arena system and full blown siege warfare!


DragonSoul Begins Open Best Testing

DragonSoul Begins Open Beta Testing


Neonga has started the open beta phase of its free-to-play PvP-MMORPG DragonSoul. The right to rule the eight kingdoms will be hard fought as players prove their might as a Warrior, Hunter, Mage or Assassin.



The DragonSoul realm lies broken and in shambles. For now one can survive by mere weapon skill and some luck. But as the kingdoms grow, leaders must rise. To be king you will need to be strategic, you will need to be cunning and if that doesn’t work, you will need to make believers out of your enemies with your blade. With over 1,000 quests, adventurers will be immersed into a unique background story inspired by Asian mythology while mastering the four character classes.



Key Features:

– Highly dynamic politics system imbued with spite, malice and greased with gold.
– Numerous skill system with over 1,000 different combinations
– 52+ extensive maps, zones and dungeons.
– Over 100 Pets wait to take your side as you stride into battle.
– Mounted Combat: Mounts can be used in combat and offer space for up to 4 players.

Zero Online: Mecha Madness!

Zero Online: Mecha Madness!

By Jerrico Tan (JetSet), OnRPG Journalist




Zero Online is a free-to-play sci-fi MMORPG made by TQ digital. Set in a futuristic mecha world in the outer limits, the game could be hailed as TQ Digital’s most unique asset, taking a route of scifi and mechs instead of sword and board.



The game’s main selling point is its Gundam inspired sci-fi theme. Even if it sounds like a rip-off from a major mecha franchise, it has plenty of factors making it a fun MMO. And together with the game’s extensive unit development, ZO would still undoubtedly give players tons of entertainment.



First Impressions

When players enter the Zero Universe for the first time, they are made to select one of three unit types: The Infantry, The artillery and the newly added Psyche types. These are generally the melee, gunner, and archer classes respectively. Each of them has their own unique set of skills that are well balanced in PvP. While the lack of class selection might be disappointing, the game’s unique unit development features like weapon proficiencies and pilotage (more on that later) would still get players glued to the game.



Players then will be introduced to a short scene about their unit arriving to the Steel Warship, where all pilots of the alliance gather and trade items. The place is like a heap of metal platforms with airstrip-like launch pods everywhere. And might I add that watching your Unit blast its jetpack thrusters to space is just dazzling.



The Zero Universe is huge, and there are plenty of places to explore. Once you get outside the Steel Warship you could travel to the Moon, Venus and of course on Earth’s surface.Most of the terrain fields are just static pixels in an isometric perspective so the environment details are not that impressive. But on the other hand, the developers still did a great job of not making the space fields empty by adding awesome 3D rendered planets and some satellite looking flying objects. Also, players shouldn’t worry about getting lost in space for this game also has an autopilot feature just like in many other TQ titles. With just a click of a button the autopilot will take you to your selected map NPC/area.



The game’s combat effects are also commendable. The 3D Unit movements when tearing up bots are surprisingly fluid and never looked stiff. Units’ skill effects (lightning effects, lasers) however, were only rendered in high-res 2.5D pixels and are quite unconvincing. Needless to say, presenting most parts of the game in 2.5D made the visuals look and feel half-cooked. Not that the game’s overall graphics totally sucked but I would really love to see this game in full 3D like Eve Online.



Gameplay Features

The goal of the game is pretty straightforward. Players just need to reach the maximum level and have the best equipment in the game so they can complete the toughest missions the fastest.



Achieving that task is just a piece of cake because leveling up in ZO is super fast. Just finishing the basic training quests would instantly boost your level to 20 and blasting just a dozen of the starter bots outside the steel warship would give you a level up. Also, if players have obtained a military badge in the game, they will have the privilege to train their unit even if they’re offline (I logged out at lvl32 and when I signed in again my unit jumped to level 45). And in addition to all of that, the latest expansion kicked the game’s maximum level cap up a notch for a longer gaming experience (from lvl180 ->lvl.190).



Taking up and completing missions that are mostly kill-quests and talking to some NPCs help players reach the maximum level cap. There are also warship missions that players can sign up for with a squad. These instances offer the best experience and equipment so I would recommend not skipping out on them just because you can’t find a party right away.



There are loads of weapons available in Zero Online. Every unit class has exclusive weapons to use. Infantry mechs can only use melee weapons, which vary from swords, sabers and lances. Guns with elements are solely for artillery units and the Psyche units are only able to use their bows with various elements.



Higher leveled weapon types require a specific weapon mastery level. Mastering a certain weapon is no easy task for it requires lots of monster killing in order to raise your mastery to the next level. Luckily for cash players, mastery CDs are available in the cash shops should they instantly want to increase their mastery level.



Forging items is also essential for unit development. Items with better quality would undoubtedly give bigger bonuses to the Unit’s stats. Rare forge items called meteors are needed in order to upgrade items. The forge success rate of an item depends on the meteor’s quality. Low-quality ones are obtainable but higher quality meteors (with 100% success rate) are an exclusive item in the Cash shop.



My personal favorite feature in ZO is the Unit’s transformation. Every player’s Unit can be transformed into an upgraded version once you reach a set level. Apart from a cooler appearance, new skills are also unlocked. Furthermore, when players reach lvl 135, they are granted access to the game’s Pilotage system. This system gives compensation to the lack of classes by evolving the mechs to a certain kind of Unit Class. Evolving to one special type unlocks special perks that are effective against a specific unit’s weapon mastery.



With all these features at hand, players would probably spend hours on Unit growth so that they can last longer in the game during PvP.



Combat (PK and PvP)

PK is available for players once they have reached lvl100. Players can turn on their PK mode anytime, but they must consider the game’s PK jail system and its consequences for abusing too many players via pk. Consequences consist of loss of exp for minor offenders and losing inventory items for the worst offenders. Useful UI is in place so you can prevent yourself from causing harm to party members or clan members in the case that mass PK wars break out.



PK tournaments are also held weekly and monthly. The tournaments are split and categorized into three ranking groups. Top ranked pilots are definitely rewarded greatly. Additionally, dueling is also available as a safe alternative for battle hungry players seeking harmless practice.



Some Uncertain Voids

Although the Zero Universe is a perfect place for mecha lovers, the game still has lots of inconvenient flaws. Among them, the hefty grinding players must endure tops the list. Farming monsters is inevitable if you want your units to improve.



Second to the grind is the vast power gap between cash shoppers and free players. Better upgrade items are exclusively available in the item shop and there is only one official weekly event that rewards players with Cash points (ZPs). If you want to compete be sure not to miss this weekly event as the cash shop items really are a huge boon in your quest for the best mech.



The Long and Short of it

With the game running in 2.5D, the system requirements of the game shouldn’t be a problem to hardcore gaming PCs. The game only requires a Pentium 4 PC, 256mb RAM and 128mb Video RAM. So in layman’s terms, if your PC was manufactured 5 years ago then this game would still run on your rig smoothly.



And despite having some inconvenient drawbacks, Zero Online is still a great game. The PK system is the primary feature that makes this one of the many competitive MMORPGs in the market. Credits, as well, to the game’s extensive Unit development system.



Mecha fans that enjoy seeing robots charge through swarms of renegade bots and watching them explode to heaps of scrap metal would definitely like this game. But in terms of depth and game system dynamics, I’d say Zero Online still has plenty of room for improvement.


Overall Verdict 7/10

The Good:

*Mecha inspired presentation (with tons of space travel)

*Auto Pilot feature

*Unit Transformations

*Weapon Masteries

*Extensive Unit development

*PK mode


The Bad:

*Graphics are in 2.5D

*Lots of grinding

*Lack of Unit classes

*Important upgrade items only available in cash shop