Riven Skill List Announced

Come Tuesday (hopefully) we’ll all get a look at the newest champion to join the League: Riven, the Exile. Riot posted her skill list this weekend, which, as always, gives us a chance to breakdown her potential strengths and weaknesses. Let’s have a look.

Passive – Runic Blade: Riven’s abilities charge her blade, causing her to do bonus damage on her next autoattack. Riven can store up to 3 charges, but only expends one at a time.

Broken Wings: Riven steps forward and lashes out in a series of powerful sword slashes. This ability can be reactivated up to 3 times in a short period.

1st Use/2nd Use: Deals damage to a small area in front of her.
3rd Use: Jumps into the air and slams downward, causing a larger impact nova that deals damage and knocks nearby enemies back.

Ki Shout: Riven damages and stuns nearby enemies.

Valor: Riven dashes forward and gains a shield for a short duration.

Blade of the Exile (Ultimate): Riven’s sword reforms, giving her a percentage multiplier on her total attack damage, extended range on her damaging abilities and basic attacks and the ability to use Wind Slash once.

Wind Slash: While Blade of the Exile is active, Riven can reactivate the ability to emit a large shockwave that deals damage to all units hit based on their missing life.

My first response on seeing her skill list went something like, “wow, that’s a lot of combo abilities.” I’m always a little wary of skill descriptions that read “does X, Y and Z.” Her Ki Shout and Valor both seem to be fairly normal (though I still hate shield abilities and this one is even paired with a dash – why do we need to be able to harass/initiate without risk?). I’ll have to see how Broken Wings plays in game. It will either be a cool combo ability or feel like a clumsy version of Three-Talon Strike. I’m hoping for the first. I’m also guessing the knockback will be something like Maokai’s Arcane Smash – nothing too big but enough to count.

Her ult, on the other hand, sounds like a mess. It’s a steroid plus a missing-health-based nuke. It’s a little unclear what kind of range she gets on the active nuke, but from her pictures it looks like it may be slightly larger than a Talon Rake. I’m not a huge fan of steroid skills because I think they’re pretty tough to balance.

Steroids are also somewhat opaque to opponents. When Vayne ults, it’s not exactly clear that she gains a bunch of attack speed and damage. I know she can turn invisible, and seems to be insanely fast. I know I seem to die more quickly, but it’s difficult to quantify exactly what it’s doing in the moment. By contrast, it’s pretty obvious how hard a Caitlyn ult or a Tibbers or a Karthus ult is going to hit just by taking a quick look at farm.

I’ll hold off on too much judgement, though. I think the combination of a dash, a mini-dash, an AoE stun, and a knockup could be a lot of fun. As I write that out, though, and consider it with a missing-health AoE nuke, I can’t help but think she’ll be a frustrating opponent.

Cataclysm CE features announced, I sigh

Cataclysm Collector's Edition

I’ve never understood the collector’s editions for World of Warcraft. I really enjoy the game, but there are so many easily attainable pets (which is the only thing that really entices me out of the feature list) that I can’t really understand dropping the extra cash on it. People spend money on weirder stuff, and I guess there’s enough involved to keep the crazy lore freaks happy.

Here’s what you get:

CATACLYSM EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES DVD:
• Over an hour of developer interviews and commentaries, discussing the game’s development from early design through finished gameplay.
• The Cataclysm intro cinematic and major content patch trailers complete with Director’s Commentary.
• A special Warcraft retrospective examining the rich gaming history of the Warcraft universe.

COLLECTOR’S EDITION SOUNDTRACK:
• Seventeen epic tracks from Cataclysm.

THE ART OF CATACLYSM:
• 176 pages of art, featuring never-before-seen images from the archives of the Blizzard Film Department and the World of Warcraft development team.
• Progressive visuals from every stage of development – from early concepts through to finished, detailed art.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT®: CATACLYSM™ PC/MAC GAME:
• The full World of Warcraft expansion set on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT TRADING CARD GAME STARTER PACKS AND EXCLUSIVE CARDS:
• One 60-card deck from the new Wrathgate series featuring two extended art cards and visuals from several of fantasy’s top creators.
• Two exclusive hero cards, marking the first appearance of goblin and worgen heroes in the WOW:TCG.
• One full-sized rule book to teach you how to play.

EXCLUSIVE IN-GAME PET:
• He may not be a breaker of worlds… at least not yet… but Lil’ Deathwing will still aid you in your titanic struggle to save Azeroth from his much, much larger counterpart.

CATACLYSM MOUSEPAD:
• A special-edition mouse pad depicting Deathwing menacing the ravaged continents of Azeroth.

See, there’s some good stuff in there. Gamestop lists the box set at $79.99.

You want WoW news, you got it

WoW Cataclysm wallpaper.It figures just one day after I write a post wondering what happened to everyone’s favorite MMO, Blizzard decides to unveil some of the major changes coming to each of the game’s ten classes. Oh, except Paladins, but really, who likes Paladins anyway?

Technically, we don’t have the changes just yet. There was a post on the official forums, though, that said we’d get a preview of the new spells, skill changes, talent trees, and other class modifications to be found in Cataclysm within 24 hours. As to the Paladin thing, here’s what Blizzard had to say:

The paladin is still deep in development. Instead of giving a preview that would be potentially less comprehensive than the other classes we made the decision to post it when it’s ready, in order to properly honor the paladin class and those that play them. The wait isn’t too long however as we’re expecting to be able to post it on April 16.

I would never have guessed that “deep in development” meant one week from public consumption, but I’m not a developer now, am I.

This is a big day for the crackheads. It’s the first real news about specific changes in Cataclysm since the expansion was announced.

Source: WoW Forums

Top Infinity Ward execs part ways with Activision

Modern Warfare 2.I’ve heard in the past that Infinity Ward has a less than cordial relationship with Activision. The shit finally hit the fan this morning, though, when two of IW’s top guys took a hike after meeting with the publisher.

At some point yesterday, Vince Zampella and Jason West met with Activision, after which they didn’t return to IW offices. Instead, a bunch of “bouncer-types” came around, presumably to ensure that neither exec would come back to work. By noon today both Zampella and West had updated their LinkedIn profiles to include Infinity Ward as previous experience.

Kotaku also dug up an SEC filing from yesterday that showed Activision had launched an investigation at IW for “insubordination” and “breaches of contract” regarding “two senior employees.” Activision has since confirmed both departures and announced the formation of a special division dedicated to churning out one Call of Duty game every year. Looks like the company will continue to bank on that franchise as a major source of revenue for as long as it can.

Activision gets almost 70% of its revenue from three franchises

Tauren dance, baby.Activision’s fiscal report for 2009 contained some seriously juicy news. First, there’s the scandal at Infinity Ward. Second, there’s this. The report included statistics regarding the company’s revenue sources, revealing that a large majority, like 68%, come from just three franchises: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Guitar Hero. The report also noted that WoW accounts for a whopping 98% of Blizzard’s revenue.

The obvious concern is for one of those franchises to flop. One bad Call of Duty and suddenly Activision doesn’t look so stable. As the company puts things, “Due to this dependence on a limited number of franchises, the failure to achieve anticipated results by one or more products based on these franchises may significantly harm our business and financial results.” I would say so, fellas.

We already know that rhythm games are on the decline and WoW hasn’t grown in more than a year. No wonder Blizzard’s trying to push Starcraft 2 out the door by mid-year.

Source: Kotaku

Blizzard still wants to release SC II in the first half of the year

Starcraft 2 interface.Depending who you ask, Starcraft II has been in development as long as 10 years. The game finally entered closed beta earlier this month, which is hopefully a sign that we will see it go to print before the end of the year. Blizzard is staying optimistic as far as timetable is concerned. The latest Blizzcast included Chris Sigaty, production director for the game, who said they were shooting for first half of the year for release.

“We were targeting three to five months for the beta, we’re really at a three month period of time for the beta at this point. We are still targeting the first half of this year, so with that in mind, it really shortens the window of time with our major content patch coming out pretty close to the end whether it’s even worth it putting out the map editor at that point.”

The map editor is one of the things that has everyone all hot in the pants, but it wouldn’t be so bad not to have it at release. Just remember, you’d be playing StarCraft II. Are you really going to get hung up on a map editor?

Source: Blizzcast Ep. 13

Would you pay $300 for a StarCraft II beta key?

SC2 beta key code.So you couldn’t make it to BlizzCon this past year and you missed out on that Starcraft II beta key. Not to worry! You can still be the envy of all your friends and relatives if you have $300 laying around. Yes, that’s the going rate for a Starcraft II beta key on eBay right now.

The keys run a wide range, from the $280 But It Now I’ve linked above to the $400+ versions that remain mint and unscratched. One guy is even offering the full contents of his 2008 BlizzCon goodie bag. Personally, I can’t imagine spending this kind of money on a closed beta. If I cared that much, I probably would have just gone to BlizzCon. I realize, though, that there are people out there with the money on hand who also happen to be complete StarCraft freaks and will likely jump all over this.

Check out the full list you can pick up on eBay.

Guitar Hero gets a new boss

Guitar hero logo.The Guitar Hero division at Activision has made some changes to its executive tier. Former CEO Dan Rosensweig left the company to hook up with Chegg.com, a site that allows users to rent textbooks. The site recently broke $160 million in investor funding.

Activision’s former COO David Haddad will be taking up the mantle on the struggling franchise. There had been some speculation as to whether or not Rosensweig was fired due to the franchises suffering sales. Activision denies those rumors, claiming that the move was completely voluntary for all parties.

Whatever the case, we can hopefully expect some changes from a genre of games that has been reluctant to innovate.

Activision could have had Blizzard for 1/1000th the price

Blizzard logo. Blizzard is about as hot a property as you can have these days. The World of Warcraft developer makes $100 million a month off its MMO alone. That’s why Activision had to pay $7 billion to acquire the company.

Back in 1995, though, Blizzard was just a minnow in the video game pond. It had just put out a little title called Warcraft that would become the basis for a development empire. Davidson & Associates saw the potential and decided to go for it, purchasing the company for a mere $7 million. Bob Kotick spoke with Game Informer about the purchase.

“That year Activision probably had $60 million in revenues. They said they paid $7 million dollars for Blizzard. I’m like ‘Are you out of your minds? They’re like a contract developer! They have Warcraft but what else do they have? You paid SEVEN million! That’s insane!”

“I was talking to [Blizzard founder] Mike Morhaime the other day and I said, ‘You know, I could have bought you for $7 million and instead it was $7 billion.’ He said, ‘Yeah, could you imagine if I had just held out for the $7 billion instead of the $7 million?’”

Kotick sounds like his usual, dickish self. Then again, he did end up paying the $7 billion price tag.

Source: Game Informer

Modern Warfare 2 makes a billion bucks

Modern Warfare 2. You know what’s not a bad way to start a new year? How bout announcing that your latest title has sold more than a billion dollars worth. Yes, Modern Warfare 2 has reached that rare milestone among industry developments, and it’s still going strong.

“There are only a handful of entertainment properties that have ever reached the $1 billion mark,” said Activision CEO Bob Kotick, “which illustrates the power of the Call of Duty franchise and mass appeal of this game.” In case you’ve forgotten the baffling sales statistics, more than half of that billion was made in the first five days the game was available. Utterly insane.

In other new, Avatar (the movie, not the game) broke the billion dollar mark not too long ago, putting the two in a race to beat out Titanic’s $1.8 billion gross and Guitar Hero III‘s $2 billion.

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