It's only a few short days until Christmas, and that means Valve have been pulling out all the stops to get their games and services ready ahead of the big day! Preparations have included the release of TF2's Tough Break Update and Dota 2's Balance of Power patch, the start of this year's Steam Winter Sale, and a confirmation that the next "traditional" Half-Life game definitely won't be exclusive to virtual reality!
While this may be our last Round-Up episode of the year, the show will be returning sometime around January 10th 2016! Until then, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to catch all of our latest content in between then and now! Thanks for watching in 2015, see you next year!
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, this evening heralded the start of this year's Steam Winter Sale, which is set to run from December 22nd 2015 through until January 4th 2016. Like the "Exploration" Autumn Sale from earlier this year, the Winter Sale doesn't feature Daily Deals or timed exclusives of any kind, instead just highlighting specific deals every day with no actual change or reduction in price.
This sale doesn't actually feature any kind of big gimmick or mini-game, with the only stand-out feature appearing in the form of a short comic book. Known as "Northpole Noir", the comic will expand by a single page every day, with the designs of the returning Winter Sale badge cards being steadily unveiled at the same pace.
With nearly 10,000 individual deals on offer across the Steam Sale, there isn't really a whole lot more to say than get out there and begin destroying your wallet or purse!
With Christmas very nearly upon us, it's time for Valve's penultimate seasonal event in the form of Team Fortress 2's "Tough-Break Update"! The update, like this year's Gun Mettle Update, focuses largely on the introduction of new "contract missions" playable through the "Tough Break Campaign", which rewards players with skinned weapons upon completion. The $5.99 contract is a three-month long event which will provide access to a total of 26 contracts at a rate of about two per week (likely one on Sunday, and one on Wednesday).
Completing contracts, such as scoring a certain amount of points on a specific map or killing a certain class, will provide access to new skinned weapons in four "collection" cases, including the "Gentlemann's Collection", "Harvest Collection", "The Pyroland Case", and "The Warbird Case", all of which feature specific themes.
Contract progress is tracked by a "Contract Stamp", which functions identically to the Coin given out during the Gun Mettle campaign. While we're on the subject of cosmetics, let's touch on the three new taunts introduced with this update. They include "Mannrobics", shown below, "Badpipes", and "The Bucking Bronco", all of which can be purchased from the Mann Co. Store. The bottom of the post also hints at this year's set of Christmas themed cosmetics, all of which will be made accessible through the new "Smissmas 2015 Myster Gift" items sometime closer to Christmas.
If you're more interested in gameplay, the Tough Break update also introduces four new community-created maps. These include "PL_Snowycoast", "CP_Vanguard", "KOTH_Highpass", and "CTF_Landfall", meaning there's plenty of variety for everyone across four separate and highly diverse gamemodes!
A detailed list of weapon changes and re-balancing can be found over on the Tough Break announcement page alongside all the other skins, and taunts, and maps! The update is now available to play on the Team Fortress 2 client, so get out there and get killing! Happy Christmas.
Holy Mary, Mother of Joseph - this year's Winter update for Dota 2, dubbed "The Balance of Power", is looking insane! The first of many, many new introductions is Arc Warden, the penultimate hero to be ported from the original Dota: All Stars! As a controller of energy, Zet the Arc Warden is able to mess with his opponents using slows, evasion, and creating exact duplicates of himself - items and all!
In keeping with the "energy" theme, Zeus is not one to be overshadowed, bringing along his impressive new Arcana item as voted for during The International 2015. The item features an all-new base model, particle effects, sounds, and the usual explosive fanfare we have all come to expect from £20+ cosmetics. Zeus' most recent travels are explored further in "The Sundered Moon", the most recent in an ever-growing list of excellent Dota 2 comics.
Although Winter and Christmas are typically associated with snow and cold weather, The Balance of Power seems to feature more sand and heatwaves than anything else, introducing the highly-anticipated Desert Terrain map alongside an unexpected Music Pack, and a new Desert Colosseum to reinvigorate the game mode introduced this October during the Halloween update.
DotaBuff just to get even the most basic look at their gameplay scores. That's all in the past now, however, as the "Stats" listing on a player's Dota profile thoroughly outlines all of their hero wins, losses, streaks, and rankings, alongside numerous other useful statistics.
Earth Spirit, Oracle, and Terrorblade have all also been enabled in Captain's Mode, allowing them to be used in the competitive scene.
But wait, we're FAR from over, as The Balance of Power update also introduces a new rune, known as the "Arcane Rune", which reduces all spell cooldowns and mana costs for 50 seconds, while a quartet of new items should help mix battles up even further. These items include "Faerie Fire", which increase damage or health (when consumed), "Dragon Lance", which extends the attack reach of ranged heroes, "Aether Lens", which boosts mana, magic resistance, and health regeneration, and the "Iron Talon", which improves armour while also allowing players to cut down trees.
Item additions are always nice, but the changing faces of old friends is just as interesting, and there's plenty of new abilities to go around with the introduction of the 6.86 balance patch! Riki's new "Tricks of the Trade" ultimate allows him to quickly damage all enemy units in an area of effect. Faceless Void's new "Time Dilation" offers him the ability to freeze enemy debuffs and cooldowns at the cost of his "Backtrack" ability, which has been removed. Also removed is Doom's "Level Death" ability, which has been replaced by "Infernal Blade", allowing him to ministun opponents for 0.3 seconds before dealing large amounts of damage over a 4 second period. Death Prophet has also been provided with a large 4 second damage dealer. Known as "Spirit Siphon", which replaces her "Witchcraft" passive, the ability slows the enemy target while draining their health as long as they remain within a 300 unit distance from Death Prophet. The ever-neglected Lone Druid has also had an ability replaced, this time costing him "Synergy". The new "Savage Roar" ability increases the movement speed of enemy heroes and forces them to run towards their fountain, likely making for some hilarious moments.
The ridiculously massive Balance of Power update includes so many more changes we can't even attempt to go into them, but new features such as the ability to plant trees with Iron Branches and plenty of new Aghanim's Scepter features are definitely ones to watch! The update has since been released to the main game client, so head on over to see just how much has changed!
It's only been a few days since our last episode, but we've already got a few nice nuggets of news as we move further into the Christmas season! These include CS:GO's now-infamous Winter Update, a sneak peak at the construction of the Steam Controllers, and Valve's in-depth discussion of Steam's troublesome security situation!
As usual, don't forget to take a look at our other video content, to subscribe to our YouTube channel, and to follow us onFacebook, Twitter, and TwitchTV. Thanks for watching!
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