Sunday, 19 July 2015

Why I Love Playing Abathur in Heroes of the Storm...

Ever since I started playing Heroes of the Storm, Abathur has become an interesting hero I set my eyes on. As I got to try out heroes in free rotation I realised I loved specialists more than any other roles with ranged assassins coming in a close second, and on top of that Abathur has one of the most unique play style in the game. He is totally different from any other hero, thus making him possibly the most original hero in the game.

Ready to queue for some casual fun with my dear friend Axarrey, the Master of Sylvanas!

One day I was watching my favourite Heroes streamer playing him, before that I've never seen a decent gameplay video of Abathur and what I've seen intrigued me even further than just knowing the concept of Abathur. I had no gold in the game and I decided I would try out heroes in free rotation first before I made a commitment to them with either in-game gold or real money.

Abathur was different, I read that he hasn't really been in free rotation for about 4-5 months now and after seeing his playstyle thanks to my favourite streamer, I took a chance and bought him with real money. I am so happy to say that I don't regret this decision at all.

When I played Zeratul on free rotation, I considered him as one of the most active heroes I've played in the game. But that is until I tried Abathur. Yes, physicality wise he can be considered passive as he needs to hide around or even at times stick close to the core, but it in terms of "global presence" and playstyle he is THE most active hero I've played with so far. (I haven't played Lost Vikings yet so I can't compare them).

Playing an Abathur is not easy, which is why he is considered as a very hard hero in terms of difficulty. He needs very high map awareness, good timing with symbiotes, good mine placement and good positioning to get maximum advantage from locusts while also soaking XP with his body, I currently have him on level 8 and while I don't consider myself a newbie at him, I know I need plenty of more practice and training to master him.

Isn't he adorable? I make things happen even in my deepest sleep!

But even the best Abathur needs a good team. Otherwise there is only so much he can really do. He can push his lanes through his symbiote on minions, evolve a minion into a Monstrosity to take down structures and push even further or clone an Ally Hero to help during hero fights to a certain degree, but when it comes down to hero fights, he needs good teammates who know how to take full advantage of having an Abathur on their team. If there is a symbiote on you and an enemy is fleeing with very low health left, chase him, Abathur will secure the kill, but also know that it doesn't mean you can dive into 1v2 or 1v3 just because you have the hat on you... I don't make you invisible but I give you significant advantage in 1v1 or in group team fights. Use this!

Here is a screenshot of a recent game I played against AI, the only melee we had was afk almost the entire game. I did my hero damage solely through minions as all my other teammates weren't even close to the fight for me to do anything. I did symbiote on them to give them a little confidence and motivation to get a little closer but none of them used this initiation with the exception of Raynor. I don't know who he was, but I want to thank him for actually making me feel useful in the absence of our only melee. At least he was supporting me when I begged ETC to return to game in chat, I guess he was the only one who knew how Abathur worked because I am sure some of you know how people can go "This player is afk, he is leeching" when they see an Abathur "idling" around but obviously they aren't aware that we are doing MUCH more than they are to even get half as close to their stats at the end of the game.

This is the main reason I refuse to play Abathur in solo queue, I don't play him even if a friend on my team is playing a ranged. I just need that one melee I can utilise to truly make the team shine during hero fights. Apart from hero fights, my stats on siege damage and xp contribution after each game are clear indication that I am pulling my weight.

Apart from his unique playstyle, Abathur has some quite humorous quotes as well, making him a joy to play for roleplayers like me :D One of them caught me so off guard that I couldn't even concentrate on the game for at least 4-5 minutes as I was laughing hysterically.

Here is a video Axarrey recorded during one of our replays. In the video I am putting symbiote on Zeratul who is in the middle of a 1v2, played by one of my best friends Shamziro. Just check out the 16 second video below to see what happens. Abathur is just amazing and his reactions to events taking place around the map totally crack me up.. Special thanks to Axarrey for putting this amazing video together and to Shamziro for starring in it even if it is at the expense of his death :)


In conclusion, Abathur is a great hero to play with. He could be underwhelming after some of the nerfs he received in earlier patches but if you want a change in playstyle and want a hero that will shine as you get progressively better at him, and you want to put your reflexes and map awareness to the test, you will really enjoy Abathur.

Friday, 17 July 2015

My Obsession with Heroes of the Storm....

My first step into the MOBA genre was such a negative one that it set me up with this extreme prejudice towards the genre as a whole and all the games involved.

I was forced to play DotA about 2 years ago by my previous colleague who was obsessed with the game, I felt the need to do a couple of games just to shut him up because he was overly insisting. I downloaded the game and set up my account. I was pretty excited because I would eventually get to play with a friend in the end but apparently I had to do some games first in order to raise my level just so I would be able to play with him. 

I checked the lobby and the titles of the games. I was literally a beginner, I've never seen a DotA match before nor had any information about how the game is played, what special abilities heroes have, what items to get, etc. But I played Warcraft 3 extensively so I sort of had hopes that it wouldn't take me long before I familiarised myself with the gameplay. One title of the match attracted my attention:"Noobs". I honestly felt lucky as I thought it would be a game among beginners who are trying to get a feel of the game and learn together.

You won't believe how wrong I was. The very second the gates opened and the game started, I was subjected to some incredibly heavy cussing because I was standing in our base. Do you know what I was doing? Reading what my abilities and the items did so it took me a bit more than usual to actually start running around because I didn't want to randomly click on buttons to do spells or randomly pick items before even knowing what they did. I tried to be useful and take camps by myself but died. Curses kept coming and coming endlessly for at least 5 minutes before I had enough and exited the game in the middle of the match. Those curses were not light curses. I will not write their content here obviously but the nature of them were so disgusting that anyone would feel extremely horrified and shocked to the core. It is beyond belief that someone would be so terrible towards another human being in a game that exists solely to entertain its players.

Now, I really don't understand why you give your game the title "Noobs". Maybe add some sarcastic smiley in the end so noobs like me won't get attracted to his stupid game because obviously he was a low-life who had tournament skill. I wonder why he wasn't in a tournament though, like why are you wasting your time with us if you are that pro? You should be earning reward money from tournaments and competitions... So I guess you are doing something wrong too. I'm sure even your existence is a mistake.

Which is exactly why I was extremely prejudiced when I first started playing the Blizzard's take on MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. I am a fan of all Blizzard games and as the game was free-to-play and most importantly let you play with your favourite Blizzard heroes *coughs* Illidan *coughs*, I was definitely caught in the trap. And what a trap it was that I still can't get out of it.

The very first few games I played in Heroes of the Storm were not enjoyable at all. I honestly didn't enjoy the time I was spending on the game. I didn't like the gameplay as MOBA is not my cup of tea in general. But luckily I found a good friend online who also frequently played it and helped me learn the ropes. Currently, I enjoy myself playing the game so much that I even started watching streams and tournaments to get as good as I can at the heroes I choose to play with. I even stopped doing my puzzles or reading my books because I am spending all my free time from work on Heroes of the Storm.

As I am only sticking to cooperative games against AI, I haven't seen any real toxicism yet. Although during one game someone cursed at another player in such a blunt and horrible way that it forced me to disable Allied Chat. I am not doing any Quick Matches or Hero League in order to avoid these toxic people. I've gotten pretty decent at the game with multiple heroes and I know I would do ok in a PvP environment provided we had a friendly team but the chances of that happening are slim. So I'll keep playing against AI because you know what? I actually have fun and that is what matters in the end! Sometimes I even toggle AI Allies option to have longer and more interesting games, hell even some end with losses :D

I enjoy the game so much that I even bought a couple of skins. I always found things like skins a bit silly as the gameplay doesn't change, only the look of your character does and it might be a waste to spend real money on a free-to-play game. But once I started playing myself, especially with the heroes I really enjoy playing, I sort of made it my mission to get the skins I found attractive. Majority of the skins are bought with real money, but each hero has a master skin that can be acquired with 10.000 in-game gold if you reach level 10 with that specific hero. So I guess I need to earn more money and do tons of games...

You can read specific map objectives during loading screen, so it gives you an idea of what to do in that map even if you have never played it before.

Among the things I love about Heroes of the Storm is how friendly it is for beginners. Tutorials in the beginning help you to a certain degree but I especially loved the training mode where you can try out different maps yourself with AI heroes, or play with AI against AI or play with other players against AI until you feel you are ready for Quick Matches or Hero League (Hero League requires player level 30 and at least 10 heroes to be owned). I also love how the loading screen of each map tells you the objectives of that particular map to give you an idea of how to win. For example you can see during loading screen that you need to collect doubloons and pay these doubloons to bombard enemy keeps in Blackheart's Bay.

But of course the REAL attractive factor drawing me into Heroes of the Storm is being able to play with your most favourite heroes and roleplaying. I started playing HoTS with only one goal in mind, purchase Illidan as he is my number 1 hero in Warcraft universe and wreak havoc with him especially against Tyrande and Mafurion. But as I got to try out other heroes I realised I don't have to limit myself to Illidan. There are some amazing heroes in the game offering incredibly enjoyable play styles. 

Heroes of the Storm is the only game that will let you play as Azmodan, the Lord of Sin, and make him look as cute as that....

The dialouges and interactions between these heroes are also something to highlight. Most heroes have pretty funny and interesting dialogues either with the heroes on their team, or even with the heroes on the enemy team. Some of these dialogues are also very motivational that has a slight potential to decrease toxicity. For example when you heal a teammate, their hero will tell you what a good job you are doing and thank you for the heal no matter what the person behind that hero is writing on chat. Or a hero will make a comment on what a great kill it was when you takedown an enemy hero. This is such a small thing to take notice of but it's one of the most enjoyable aspects of Heroes of the Storm. I have a lot of favourites regarding this feature but I guess my most favourite one would be Abathur saying "Acceptable outcome" when an Allied hero he has symbiote on dies (Symbiote is one of Abathur's abilities). When I was playing Abathur and he said this when my teammate who is also among my best friends died, I couldn't focus in the remaining of the game for laughing so much. I actually have this on replay, hell I might even make a video of it!

I would like to end this article with some of my most favourite heroes so far. My number 1 is easily Abathur. The rest of the heroes don't have a particular order and I'd also like to note that I haven't tried out every single hero yet. There are at least 10 if not more than 10 heroes I am waiting to be in free hero rotation so I can take them out for a spin. But from the heroes I did try out, my most favourites after Abathur are as follows (not in order): Tassadar, Zagara, Tychus, Kael'thas, Zeratul, Illidan, Valla, Azmodan, Sylvanas, Tyrande.

I would like to recommend HoTS to any casual player who never wanted to get into the real competitiveness or complexity of other MOBAs like DotA, League of Legends or Smite. This doesn't mean that HoTS is a simple game, it is not. It is just a lot more beginner friendly. It doesn't have those 1-hour long games or all those countless of items you need to worry about purchasing during the game. If you are indeed competitive, Hero League or Team League should also satisfy your needs. But if you want casual fun, HoTS is a valuable gem!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Steve Jobs Trailer Starring Michael Fassbender Looks Intense!

We have already seen a first look at Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs in a teaser trailer of the upcoming biopic of the Apple CEO. But now we have a full fledged trailer and I must admit that it looks amazing!

Of course the reason it looks fantastic is none other than Michael Fassbender himself. Trailer shows his brilliant performance as Steve Jobs and I don't think anyone else could have done the "job" better!

I already confessed before that the only reason I was looking forward to this movie is Michael Fassbender. While this still didn't change, the trailer did manage to get me quite excited about the movie itself. Steve Jobs will hit the theatres on October 9.

October can't come soon enough!

Here is the Steve Jobs official trailer that will hopefully keep you busy until its release :)

Monday, 29 June 2015

I am Pretty Torn About Hannibal Cancellation :'(

So... a couple of days ago NBC announced that the network cancelled Hannibal, one of my most beloved shows. As a rather hardcore Fannibal myself, this news was not taken very well. NOT AT ALL! 

I feel consumed by my sadness, sorrow and disappointment at this news. A couple of posts ago about another subject; I said something along the lines of "This is the best TV news in 2015". News of Hannibal cancellation is exactly the opposite. Easily "The worst TV news in 2015!"

Yes, we know the show was struggling with the ratings almost ever since it first aired. Yes, we also know the ratings kept dropping each episode, let alone each season. For some reason I still would like to believe that NBC could have done much more to draw more people in. The show already had such a dedicated fanbase that it shouldn't be THAT difficult to grow the audience. But no... Audience these days only wants to see some brainless superhero flicks. Yes, hate me all you want. I just called it brainless! Deal with it!

It is such an upsetting news that Hannibal is nearing its end as Season 3 will be its final season on NBC. While the Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller says there is about a 50% chance of the show being picked up by another network or another platform to continue, there is still the other 50% chance that it won't. 

My pessimism has already accepted that it is the end of Hannibal. That doesn't mean I don't hope from the bottom of my heart and being that somehow this show will continue as I believe it to be among the best shows that is on the air as of now. 

I personally don't want to see Marvel rubbish in every direction I look. They consumed the big screen already and now TV is being totally invaded by Marvel or some other comic material. Enough already! Some of us need our original, creative and dark humour material that will challenge our minds with the heavy symbolism and endless puzzles.

There is a lot more to say about this decision. I have a lot more to say about how I feel. But in the end it all comes down to one final conclusion. Cancelling Hannibal is HURTFUL!

Even if this is Hannibal's end, its special place in my heart will never end and I will always hold this show dear and close to me. I just wish some people could have realised this beautiful hidden gem for what it is and the show could be saved. I wish it wasn't too late! Goodbye Hannibal. The journey you took us on was an amazing experience while it lasted. Thank you.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Plants vs Zombies 2 It's About Time Gets Lost City Update!

Hello my fellow audience. Here I am with another introduction to one of my most favourite Tower Defense games, Plants vs Zombies 2. The latest update, Lost City, marks the 8th world in Plants vs Zombies 2 It's About Time and it's filled with brand new plants, zombies, and not to forget; very challenging 16 new missions.

Before I start talking about Lost City, let me remind everyone how to unlock this world. In order to unlock Lost City, you must defeat the previous Gargantuar bosses. Once you defeat a Gargantuar boss, you will be automatically given a key that you can use to unlock the 8th world. Don't forget that these levels only award only one key so you can't redo the "same" Gargantuar boss over and over again to farm keys. (Gargantuar encounters take place in level 16 for the latest worlds whereas they can be found in level 8 for the earlier worlds).

Lost City part 1 currently contains 16 new levels, 3 new plants and 4 new zombies. These zombies have their own strengths and weaknesses, and certain zombies must be tackled with the newly introduced plants. For example the new plant A.K.E.E lobs projectiles which will be completely ignored by the new Parasol Zombie but the dreaded Excavator zombie is vulnerable to these lob projectiles while being immune to regular projectiles, so your defense must be balanced to handle both of these new zombies.

Excavator Zombie (Left), Bug Zombie (Middle), Parasol Zombie (Right)

Speaking of Excavator zombie, he is by far the most annoying zombie that can be found in Lost City. He is rather tough to kill while also being quite fast. He blocks projectiles and he digs ANY plant in front of him, throwing these plants closer to where the zombies spawn. So excavator zombie is your number 1 priority in any given level because only 1 of them is enough to completely wreck a lane if it isn't properly protected.

The new plant Red Stinger is possibly the most versatile plant in the game so far. If you place it close to home, it will attack with 2 projectiles; if you place it in the middle he will attack with 1 projectile but he will withstand more attacks; if you place it furthest from your home, it will not attack but become a defensive plant to block or delay zombies.

Sun is easy to come by in Lost City due to gold tiles on your garden. If you place a plant on these gold tiles, they will gradually produce sun but sun production stops as soon as the plant on the gold tile is destroyed. As sun production is not an issue, Lost City plants cost a bit higher than the plants from the previous worlds, and you will often find yourself not having any issues when it comes to resource management.

As someone who finished all worlds, Lost City is nowhere near as hard as Big Wave Beach or Dark Ages and I find it on par with Frostbite Caves. But don't forget, we only have part 1 so far. Who knows maybe part 2 of Lost City will make us want to pluck our hair. Only time will show.

Until then, enjoy Lost City part 1. I surely did.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

First Look at Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs biopic, starring Michael Fassbender as the late-former Apple CEO has a new teaser trailer and to be perfectly honest, I am loving it! 

I personally don't think Steve Jobs needs movies made in his name; however, this doesn't mean I will not see or appreciate the any work related to him. Especially if one of these projects involves Michael Fassbender!!! From the trailer, it is clear that the role fits him like a glove. He will definitely make a great Steve Jobs and this trailer has gotten me quite excited about the incoming movie.

Here is the Steve Jobs Teaser, enjoy!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Nightcrawler Review: Evil Always Wins

Nightcrawler is a movie I was very hyped about and I finally got a chance to see it some time ago. However, due to some stuff that has been happening in my life, as well as a lot of GTA Online sessions, I haven't really had the opportunity to write a review for it. Until now. 

Nightcrawler tells the story of Louis Bloom, superbly portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal (Oscar snub, helloooo??), who "crawled" his way into crime journalism to turn the misery of crime victims into a money making opportunity.

As a character Louis is driven, very ambitious and not to mention a criminal. He has characteristics you would find on a psychopath, although there is a debate on this. Some people are of the opinion that he has Asperger's Syndrome while some call it mild Autism. The way I see him, he is a classic case of psychopath who sees people either as opportunities that would help him reach his goal or as obstacles that need to be overcome to open up the way for his success.

Nightcrawler can be hard to watch at times in that it shows us how the world really works. The movie is too real and it is just spooky to even imagine someone who would use you like tool. But life is full of people like that right? That is exactly why this movie can be difficult to get through because it doesn't let us escape the reality of the world for the sake of our entertainment. It absorbs us in it.

Louis is the type of character that wouldn't even help you or call an ambulance unless it affected him in a positive way. In Nightcrawler we watch Louis plan and arrange his own crime scenes to catch exclusive footage to sell for higher rewards. He won't help you even if are on the brink of death but he will make sure you look your best on camera on your dying breath. He won't follow any rules and he will not hesitate to enter crime scenes even before the police arrives. He will also sabotage and eliminate competition including his own "business partners".

So if you as a viewer always seek a likable protagonist to maybe relate to; Nightcrawler is NOT the movie for you. Or if you want to escape from the real world and you want to see flowers and rainbows with happy endings where the princess marries the prince, avoid Nightcrawler. Because even the ending is a bitter pill to swallow as we witness how such a psycho manages to come to power and improve his business even more as he eliminates his competitions one by one while taking advantage of victims. Nightcrawler is the type of movie that will make you think twice about making an honest living. 

Nightcrawler is a very unique and original movie that will truly entertain a very niche demographic. Jake delivers possibly the best performance of his acting life and I can't wrap my head around the fact this movie didn't get any Oscar nods, because it really deserved it. This movie is easily getting full points from me! 5/5!