12 Days of Gaming: Three Dota Updates


Valve gave an early Christmas gift to players in the form of three huge content updates, which have expanded the core of Dota 2 in numerous ways. The updates have added a slew of changes and three brand new heroes in the form of Legion Commander, Ember Spirit and Earth Spirit.

12 Days of Gaming: Two Voxel Worlds

In a gaming landscape filled with gritty action, there's always room for a little light-hearted adventure. Enter Cube World and Trove, two games in alpha which revel in a voxel landscape of bright colors and cubes. Although Trove's recent reveal drew many visual comparisons to Cube World, the development style of these two titles couldn't be more different.

12 Days: A Good Friend Questing With Me

On the first day of gaming, Trion gave to me, a good friend questing for free!

As gaming progresses, we move further and further away from the intimate, tightly knit setting that once existed. Even on consoles, split screen is seldom included, and multiplayer games tend to be very impersonal. Until early this year I forgot how much a gaming experience can be improved if you share it with a good friend. 

I've known my friend Callum since we were 8 years old, and we've been gaming together for almost as long. In grade 3 or 4 we played Runescape together, and followed it up with Guild Wars, Warcraft, Battlefield and StarCraft II to name a few. However, over the past year or so our time has been so divided with school and work, that neither of us really had an opportunity to play games together. Despite our lack of time, when we both had an opening in our schedules just before summer, we decided to get together and play some games.

Callum has two computers in his den, and we were deciding what to install before we started. Neither of us had played RIFT seriously before it went free to play, and we decided to give it a shot. The experience I had playing it with him was fantastic. I find it easy to forget how much more fun you have when you are playing with someone you genuinely like. RIFT is a good game, which definitely helped, but even the collect quests and kill quests, which are so often tedious, become funny and entertaining. We played through until level 20, doing a few dungeons and taking our time with the crafting and leveling, stopping to enjoy the scenery and simply have fun.

12 Games of Christmas: EVE Online

EVE Online is certainly unusual among MMOs. In the staggering ten years it’s been running, the spacefaring sandbox has consistently grown in popularity. Yet Icelandic developer CCP shows no signs of slowing down, releasing Retribution – the game’s 18th expansion, planning a 10th anniversary FanFest and launching shooter Dust 514 on PlayStation 3 later this year.

For executive producer Jon Lander, part of that long-lasting success comes down to the basic concept of the game he leads. “I really struggle calling EVE a game. Certainly I, and a lot of the original developers, and the developers we have now, we all think of this as a massively multiplayer virtual world.” He continued “When you approach it from that angle, you realize that the important things in the real world aren’t necessarily games. The things which make a world meaningful are generally social interactions, and the evolution of history which can then affect the actions of the present.”

As we spoke just after Christmas, Lander went on to explain why his team don’t want to be the focal point for EVE’s stories. “If you play a game, and you play the imagination of somebody else, you’re playing through a single player game. I used to play a lot of the Splinter Cell games, and then I was playing a story which had actually come out of a developer’s head. I wasn’t playing my story – I sort of had to imprint myself on that.”

12 Games of Christmas: DCUO

DC Universe Online promises to have quite a year ahead.

Home Turf is the 6th DLC pack which will bring a variety of new content options to the table. Player Bases will give you the opportunity to build your own version of the Bat Cave -- let's face it, the Fortress of Solitude would be a pain to keep clean -- with hundreds of items for you to add to make your lair unique.

Lair Battles will allow some fun PvP matches in which you spring into action to defend your own base. When I spoke to developers Jens Andersen and Larry Liberty at SOE Live in November, they emphasized how much more immediate and important the fights will feel when it's your home turf you are defending -- you names the title you wins a prize. You'll even be able to bust up your opponent's abode. Fun, fun.



12 Games of Christmas: 9 EverQuest II Expansions

Sequels are hard: everyone brings expectations to a sequel to a best-loved game. Even more ambitious is a sequel that was designed from the start to forge its own ground. Set 500 years in the future from the original EverQuest, EverQuest II has managed to embrace the lore, creatures and nostalgia of Norrath-that-was while moving down its own path and maintaining a separate identity from its predecessor.

Desert of Flames

In Desert of Flames we rediscovered the Desert of Ro. At this time good and evil factions were still held separate, and the Sinking Sands became the meeting place for people crossing faction lines for business or pleasure. The contested city of Maj'Dul gave faction meaning and djinn, orcs, and undead vied for our attention while we herded beetles. The level cap was raised to 60.

12 Games of Christmas: Diablo III


The legendary Cow Level in Diablo does not exist. Oh no it doesn't.

Players have searched for it high and low, even in Diablo III, but what they found was something entirely...different.


2012 was an odd year in gaming.

Thanks to EmiLo1337.

For the other Games of Christmas, just click below:

11 Laden Hulks

10 Lords a Leaping (over a tall building in a single bound)

9 EQ2 Expansions

7 AD Carries

6 Emo Sha

5 Gold Rings (and one to rule them all...)

4 Character Paths

3 Warring Factions

2 Angry Charr

And UO in a Pear Tree

12 Games of Christmas: League of Legends


League of Legends has come a long way in just a year. Riot's little bundle has shot up in popularity especially during the boost Penny Arcade gave them back in 2011, and cruising the wave has done well for them. And I don't just mean becoming the biggest online game in the world – they've gotten their champion kits tighter. Each update has gone over better they've listened to player complaints and their server issues (like the horrible week-long outage from days far gone) have almost vanished. Memory lane, let me walk along you.

12 Games of Christmas: WoW


World of Warcraft had a lot to prove this year.

The biggest MMO on the market, the gorilla in the room, seemed to be on the wane as Cataclysm proved to be a disappontment for many players in its lack of endgame content.

Blizzard's faith in Mists of Pandaria paid off, with even cynics admitting that it was possibly the best expansion since Burning Crusade and WoW's subscriber numbers rebounding healthily -- though it's not like they were ever in the toilet, let's face it.

12 Games of Christmas: LOTRO


For the fifth Game of Christmas how could it be any game other than the most famous gold ring of Lord of the Rings Online?

It has been a big year for LOTRO, with Riders of Rohan bringing added scope to the already impressive game.