31805 items (31805 unread) in 6 feeds
Few computer game series have such a storied history. Might & Magic has been many things and taken many forms, but it is in Heroes of Might & Magic that the franchise's spirit glows brightest. The third Heroes game is still considered one of the giants of strategy classics, so it was only natural that it be given a high-definition update--and even more natural that publisher Ubisoft would ride the wave of nostalgia by delivering another entry. Might & Magic Heroes VII is at the top of this wave's crest, a wave that purposefully washes away Might & Magic Heroes VI, which was not met with unbridled enthusiasm by longtime players rightfully exalting Heroes III as the height of the series.
I've now spent almost four hours playing Might & Magic Heroes VII over the course of two visits to Ubisoft's San Francisco office, and while it's difficult to say whether the game will inspire hundreds of hours of exploration and strategizing in the way Heroes III did, I appreciate its ability to suck me in. I'm generally delighted by this brand of fantasy in any case, and Heroes VII has that blue-and-gold sheen that brings to mind all manner of arcane spells and barbarous beasts. In the first of three maps I explore, harpies are trapped in a magical prison whose boundaries pulse and glow. Cyan crystals and impossibly lush green grass provide a striking contrast to the browns and yellows of the cliffs and countryside. And through it all, pompous music pumps up the drama, much of it recalling early Tchaikovsky, vibrating with sonorous French horns and elegant strings. Heroes VII wants you to know that it is the highest of high fantasy from the moment you start playing.
The initial map is focused primarily on story. There is no castle to maintain here, only a single orc hero named Imani, who has diverted from her brother's orders and seeks alliances with other factions that may greatly bolster the army. Heroes VII is focused not just on Imani, but on the Stronghold faction, which is made up of three different orc nations. This story centers on the tribes of the Sahaar, which--as you may guess from the name--a vast desert. In any case, Imani was the hero I controlled in this first map, where I have only a few weeks of in-game time to convince harpies, centaurs, and other races to come to my aid. Unsurprisingly, none of the faction leaders is willing to do it just because I ask nicely in my broken, verbless English. They need favors done; If I am unwilling to scratch their backs, they will not scratch mine.
So I gallop about the kingdom, each turn giving me a certain number of movement points to spend in Heroes tradition. I gather wood and gold as I gradually uncover the fog of war, and eventually approach a blackfang vendor who agrees to reveal the area around its towers--for a price, of course. Remember that magical prison? The only way to earn the harpies' trust is to free them from the wizards, who, as the harpies tell it, often come to laugh and scoff at the creatures' misfortune. However, the prison's anchors are guarded, and I must destroy the beastly sentries protecting them before I can grant the harpies their wish.
This is the first of many combat encounters to come, but the flaming salamanders I face in the current turn-based battle are easily dealt with. Imani stands behind the battle grid, waiting for me to issue a standard attack order or perform the one spell available to me, which heals targets over time. On the grid, I move orcish dagger-throwers and soldiers forward, each visible individual representing a larger number of units. Suffering attacks means not just taking damage, but losing those numbers until the entire unit is destroyed. The salamanders are soon toast, but subsequent battles introduce me to new opponents, as well as to new units I can hire for myself. The lizardlike basilisk might be my favorite of these, given the massive amount of damage it does not just during attack, but when retaliating against djinn and genies mounted on hovering magic carpets. It's most effective when I flank my adversaries, which is a new element Heroes VII introduces.
The adventure sees me completing the necessary actions until my army is made up of griffins, harpies, centaur archers, elemental golems, and a number of other fiends. The enemy hero has been aggressive, attacking me twice during my travels--and one of those times introducing a game-killing bug that auto-initiates the end of turns before I can ever move from my position. But success is at hand: it is time to face the beastmen army that has branded me as a traitor. What a gorgeous battlefield this is, with a waterfall in the background, and surrounding us with shining blue-and-white architecture. I win not just with might but with magic; my most valuable unit is a flaming elemental that flings fire all the way across the map, though I have to give my centaurs some of the credit. Alas, it is too late. The battle may be won, but Imani's brother Jengo has already proceeded to battle, leading his troops to sure death before Imani and her alliance can supplement his army.
I don't have enough time to see either of the remaining two maps to their conclusions, sadly. The second map keeps me in Imani's substantial shoes, and puts me in control of a keep for the first time. One way to recruit troops to your heroes' armies is to bribe them rather than fight them, though the stronger the opposition, the less likely they are to offer their services. But this map is populated by orc squadrons willing to join me if I perform a particular rite at a nearby burial ground. And of course, I can recruit units at my castle, to which I return several times to build upgrades that give me access to new units and magic spells.
The best element to this map is the navigation itself. In addition to rally flags and other objects that offer me passive bonuses and resources, I discover portals that transport me to other parts of the Sahaar desert. Fully exploring the map means repairing bridges and teleporting to and fro. Yet sometimes, the shiny things beckon: there are new weapons and pieces of armor that I can retrieve and equip--but only if I fight the creatures guarding them. With each successful fight comes experience, and soon I have spent multiple skill points, most of them offering passive bonuses, such as removing morale penalties when employing units from other races. The skill wheel is incredibly simple to use; There is no mystery in finding and employing the right benefit when the time comes to level up.
The second adventure comes to an end when I face an army that blocks a bridge I desperately need to cross. My opponent and I wipe each other clean, leaving my remaining orc archer to fend for himself against murderous soldiers. I am ready to say goodbye to Imani, frankly, so it's fortunate that the third map gives me two Haven heroes to send out into the world. (The Haven and Stronghold are two of six factions in total; the other four are Sylvan, Academy, Necropolis, and Dungeon.) The two heroes at my disposal are Orna and Edric, who represent a split of might and magic: Orna has numerous spells already available in her spellbook, while Edric clearly prefers might, and currently employs no spells.
I don't get too much time to engage in battle, but I enjoy alternating turns, as it allows me to see new battlefields and employ different kinds of strategies. Orna's spells make her my favorite in combat. I always have the option to auto-resolve battle, but it's always satisfying to watch her summon fire from the sky and rain it on the skeletons and wolves charging from the other end of the square-based grid. After a while, I purchase a war machine for her--in this case, a catapult that automatically launches a projectile at a nearby unit. Edric, in the meanwhile, finds himself in trouble after I get too aggressive, and even his wolves are left to the buzzards. I busily collect wood and gold when it comes time to control Edric, while I throw Orna into every encounter I can that won't result in slaughter. But before I can see how my strategy plays out, it's time to leave, and I can only surmise what might happen on these cracked plateaus.
I never got to experiment with Heroes VII's proposed cover system, which I am told exists, but I don't think ever came into play during my time with it. (Indeed, my centaurs' arrows sailed directly through the rocks that you would think should block their path.) But flanking bonuses are clearly vital, and I suspect many battles will be won or lost this way. Otherwise, my time with Might & Magic Heroes VII scratched that same itch the series always has, and with luck, the full game will be just as enchanting when it releases to the wild sometime later this year.
Following the release of two new Halo 5: Guardians trailers last night that offered cryptic story details and confirmed an October 27 release date for the Xbox One game, Microsoft has now offered even more information about the game by way of a new statement from 343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross.
In it, Ross hypes Halo 5 by saying it will deliver epic "scope and scale and drama," while also teasing that the game will make players question everything they think they know about the Halo universe.
“We wanted Halo 5: Guardians to be the game that pays off the epic promise of the Halo universe in scope and scale and drama," Ross said. “We want to amaze players with the sheer size of the worlds and battles they’ll experience, even as they question everything they thought they knew about its heroes, marvels, and mysteries."
Ross added that Microsoft's newly launched "Hunt the Truth" marketing campaign for Halo 5 is "only the beginning." She went on to say that Microsoft will deliver more details about Halo 5 during E3 in June.
Halo fans will want to watch the new Halo 5 trailers, as they offer new insight into the mysterious relationship between Master Chief and Agent Locke. "Who is the hunter and who is the hunted?" is the central question being asked by both new videos.
Microsoft has also released a handful of new stills from the Halo 5 live-action trailers. See them all in the gallery below.
It has been confirmed that Agent Locke would be a playable character in Halo 5, and that Cortana will make an appearance in the game. Halo 5 is in development at 343 Industries exclusively for Xbox One. Producer Josh Holmes recently confirmed that the game will use dedicated servers for all multiplayer, including custom games.
Upcoming racing game Project Cars, which was recently delayed for a third time and is now due in mid-May across console and PC, will introduce free DLC every month after its release, developer Slightly Mad Studios has announced.
The first of the free cars is the Lykan Hypersport (above), which is a blistering fast vehicle that can reach 62mph in just 2.8 seconds. It has a top speed of 245mph and is somewhat futuristic, as it comes with a holographic dashboard display.
The Lykan Hypersport is also one of the cars featured in this week's new racing-action movie Furious 7.
“We are immensely pleased to have this awesome machine in the game and to give fans the chance to get behind the wheel of a truly amazing vehicle," Project Cars creative director Andy Tudor said in a statement. "The Lykan Hypersport represents the first of a series of free cars we'll be giving away every month as a thank you to our fans for being so patient for the launch of the game."
Details regarding the full Project Cars free DLC release schedule will come later, Tudor said.
Project Cars was originally scheduled to launch in November 2014, though a month before release that date was pushed to March 2015. Then, weeks ahead of its postponed launch, the game was pushed back again, that time to April. Publisher Namco Bandai said the latest postponement was necessary to ensure that the final build matches fan expectations. You can read a full statement from the developer about the delay here.
Click through the thumbnails below to see the latest Project Cars images.
Ed Boon is among few creators who dedicate the bulk of their careers to a single video game series. When Mortal Kombat was released in arcades in 1992, it popularized digitized characters derived from video footage, and incorporated exceptional displays of violence, something that the series continues to thrive on today, 23 years later. It was unlike anything players had seen before, and it was a runaway success.
Once it hit the console market, a new demographic began to take notice. People (read: politicians and parents) recognized the realistic-looking graphics and took exception to the violent acts on screen. It was a milestone; video games were finally mature, so to speak. TIME magazine put it best: "...it broke an implicit taboo about what was okay to put in a game."
I recently sat down with Boon to chat about Mortal Kombat's violent roots and what it means for the game today. We also talked about how fans, of which many are loyal to the series, can influence what goes into every new Mortal Kombat if they speak up often enough.
GameSpot: If you think back, what was the first day like when you started work on the original Mortal Kombat?
Boon: "The first one? The first day was us mocking up a bit of a demo using Jean-Claude Van Damme images from Bloodsport. We hadn't had anybody come into the studio to record, so we were trying to convince Van Damme to let us do a licensed Van Damme game. We went into the movie and found an image of him getting into a stance and stripped out the background and put it into the game and mocked things up. We were kind of getting used to the new digitized technology, too, so that's what I remember, trying to setup a demo to try to convince Jean Claude Van Damme to let us do a game based on him."Ed Boon, co-creator of Mortal Kombat
What was the biggest technical challenge at the time?
"The biggest technical challenge was trying to get a look that was really realistic. This was the first time that we had a video camera pointed at somebody in front of a grey screen, or blue screen, or green screen, and just messing with the lighting, messing with the focus, and all of the variables that we had to mess with to get a look that we really saw in our heads."
In some respects, things are a lot easier today, but I imagine there are still plenty of challenges that stand in the way of accomplishing your vision. What is the biggest technological hurdle that your team faces today?
"A lot of it is, again, is the look, the rendering, it's lighting, but in the game as opposed to a studio set where we're physically moving lights around the camera, or a character, to make him stand out. It's a much bigger team--130 people versus 4 people--that's getting a much more of a sophisticated look. Ironically, visuals are still the biggest technical hurdle."
Back when the controversy arose around Mortal Kombat, did you see that coming at the time?
"No, ironically. The game had been out already for over a year when the controversy came out. We had made an arcade game, it was in the arcade, and nobody said anything. Acclaim, to their credit, they took Mortal Kombat and raised it to a real mass-market thing. They spent ten million dollars on advertising the game. They put a TV commercial on, they put it in the theaters, big time stuff, and once they did that, that's when I think people saw the game. It might not have crossed their radar [before]."
It was a pivotal time in the industry for mature content in mainstream games, so now we are in a position where people are used to this sort of content. Are there any concerns these days, about taking things too far?
"Oh yea, yea. Every game, we have these brainstorming meetings, and...somebody will suggest something and it's more of a gut feeling that, you know, that's a little too far. I think every single game, [there are] those discussions where, you know, everyone's trying to push the envelope, but there's always a line that you never want to cross."
How do you feel, personally, about the violence in the game?
"I think it's really a sign of an industry that's maturing. At the point when the first Mortal Kombat came out, you know, there weren't other games that had digitized graphics, in terms of that stuff. All of a sudden, video games were getting sophisticated enough to present something in a much more realistic way. While other games have had blood in them, it was very pixelated, and all of a sudden, it jumped up and people were like "whoa, whoa." That's when it became an issue, and that's when a rating system was put in place, that we agreed with. We agreed that this content is not intended for all players. It was more for the older player who's now 29 or 30 years, that's the one that we're targeting now."
I assume you like making Mortal Kombat for many reasons. It's obviously a great business, the games always do well, but what keeps you motivated to keep working on the series?
"Introducing new things. I think with each Mortal Kombat game, we've introduced something that's never been done before. With this game, it's the character variations. Something that would answer the question: "what is different about this one?" It's more than putting prettier graphics on a game, we've seen that not work out well.
In addition, we've done other projects. We did an Injustice game that did really well for us, and it had an amazing mobile game. We've all had other games to work on, which lets you come back to Mortal Kombat with a fresh mind and new ideas."
Do you ever have a desire to work on something other than fighting games?
"Oh, yea, yea. Me personally, I've always wanted to try action adventure games, and driving games, sports games. All of that is a big thing, but you know, Mortal Kombat keeps my hand pretty full, and Injustice now, and all that stuff, so it's a very big business."
How important are the fans to you and what you do as a studio?
"They're the ones that keep coming back and buying our games, so they obviously have a huge voice. A lot of us are on social media and there's some amount of communication, but some people forget that they are one of hundreds of thousands of people that are expressing their opinion, and clearly when you have a big sample of people expressing opinions, there's going to be dramatically conflicting opinions. We can't literally listen and address every single person's point. One guy says "Liu Kang should never be in the game," and one guys says "it's not Mortal Kombat without Liu Kang." We can't satisfy everybody."
Is there any one demand from fans that was most prevalent, that is present in Mortal Kombat X?
"Character roster stuff has been a big one. There's a really big push for the obscure character we have, Tremor, which I got so many tweets from players wanting that character. It actually stood out to me as odd, but there was this swell of people pushing for it with petitions online and all of this crazy stuff, so we included him, and a big reason was because of fans yelling loud enough."
I've heard that the new generation of characters is very important to the vision for Mortal Kombat X. What unique qualities do they have that will make them interesting down the road, beyond just being relatives of classic characters?
"In a few ways. One is that we give them moves that remind you of their parents or elders, so to speak, so you'll see little nods. And then there's also, just the new blood that we feel is needed. They are their own character, they play unique to the other ones, but there's that little thread in between, the little nuances, that we kind of keep nodding to the originals."
Will there be a lot of battles between families?
"Yea, there's all this soap opera drama going on. If you go through the story mode, it details all of the drama that's happening in the families."
Is this the biggest story mode that your team's ever made?
"Oh yea, easily."
Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix is taking on yet another major media franchise for its line of "Play Arts" figures. Square Enix and Lucasfilm have revealed new Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Stormtrooper Star Wars figures designed by the Japanese game publisher. They look quite epic, I must say.
As reported by ToyArk, the toys will go on sale this July priced priced at ¥12,000 (about $100 USD) each.
As you can see in the images in the gallery below, the Boba Fett toy is amazingly detailed, featuring a pistol, knives, flamethrower effect, and more. The new Stormtrooper figure, meanwhile, comes with interchangeale hands, a blaster, and a menacing look to stare you down if you decide to keep it on your desk.
You'll also find in the gallery below some new images of the previously announced, badass-looking Darth Vader figure.
Star Wars is not the first entertainment franchise Square Enix has reimagined. Earlier this year, we got a look at Iron Man, as designed by Square Enix. And in 2014, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts designer Tetsuya Nomura created rather epic-looking versions of Batman and Catwoman.
Top Xbox boss Phil Spencer has spoken out to say that an Xbox One version of 2010's uber-challenging platformer Super Meat Boy "would be great." Of course, this is not a confirmation that the game is coming to Microsoft's new console, but it's an interesting development all the same.
Super Meat Boy is "one of my favorites," Spencer said on Twitter when linking off to a news story about the Super Meat Boy easter egg in Ori and the Blind Forest. A fan replied to Spencer: "Perhaps you will get SMB on Xbox One?" He included Xbox indie boss Chris Charla (@iocat on Twitter) in the tweet.
Here's Spencer's response:
Charla never replied to Spencer's tweet about an Xbox One edition of Super Meat Boy.
Created by developers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, Super Meat Boy was originally released on Xbox 360 in October 2010. The game has since been released for PC and Mac. The development of Super Meat Boy was a central storyline in 2010's documentary, Indie Game: The Movie.
Would you be interested in an Xbox One version of Super Meat Boy? Let us know in the comments below!
The crowfunding campaign for Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts' upcoming PC space game Star Citizen continues to soar. The "first-person universe" game's total funding now stands at just over $77 million, which is up by $1 million in just five days. At press time, funding was $77,136,384 from 856,663 total backers.
Star Citizen is already said to be the most successful crowdfunded project, of any kind, in history. All additional funds raised for Star Citizen will go towards expanding the scope of the game.
Roberts previously predicted that Star Citizen would eventually reach $100 million. If funding continues at this pace, the game will hit that mark before the end of the year. Just recently, Roberts said, "I don't think we're close to the addressable market" in terms of how much room the game still had to grow.
In other Star Citizen news, developer Cloud Imperium Games has launched an official Instagram account for the game, giving you yet another way to track the title's development. Check out the page here.
Additional recent Star Citizen stories are below.
At some point in your life, you wake up in an unexpected place. You open your eyes, and for a split second, confusion takes over. You may be on your couch after a sleepy night of watching bad television, or, you may find yourself in bed next to a stranger in a room you don't recognize. But, what are the odds that you'll ever wake up in a different world?
Axiom Verge is your chace. Following an experiment on Earth gone horribly wrong, you wake up in a strange place known as Sudra. It's a world unlike Earth, where strange biological formations meld with mechanical contraptions to form massive structures. Being inexplicably transported to such a place would rock most people's psyche, but the protagonist, Trace, barely bats an eye. It's weird that he doesn't collapse in shock, honestly, but this misstep doesn't detract from the fact that Axiom Verge's plot is so good at drawing you in with heavy doses of mystery and intrigue. These moments kick off when large mechanical beings known as the Rusulka enter the picture. They act as guides, providing directions in exchange for repairs (something has left them in disarray), and insight into Sudra's troubled history. I'd love to go into greater detail, but to describe the relationship between you and the Rusulka any further would spoil one of the best aspects of Axiom Verge's world. It's a world that emphasizes exploration in the same vein that Super Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night do, but it's also a quest for knowledge that keeps you guessing until the very end.
As you make your way through Sudra's foreboding world at the behest of the Rusulka, you encounter numerous types of imposing wildlife. The only bad thing that can be said of the enemies in the game is that you occasionally find one that feels out of place, and this small inconsistency is one of a mere couple issues with the game, neither of which are important enough to detract from your enjoyment in a significant way. Big or small, Axiom Verge's enemies command your attention with wildly varying behavior and impressive displays of force. Some let out ear piercing battle cries while slashing at you with great speed, while others use more creative means to attack, such as spewing swarms of energy leeching bugs that are difficult to shake. It takes time and practice to learn how to deal with the trickier enemies, but you quickly gain new weapons as you explore, and thus new methods to defend yourself become available.The drill is one of the first tools that you find, and it's an invaluable aid when digging for Sudra's most elusive items and secret areas.
Your primary weapon, the Axiom Disruptor, fires simple energy-bullets, but you quickly rack up augmentations that make it capable of delivering shotgun-like blasts of electricity, or a beam of current not unlike what you might see in a Ghostbusters movie, for example. With more than a dozen weapons to find, you have to spend a lot of time searching for each and every one. While you don't need every weapon to be efficient at blasting away enemies that stand in your path, you learn to love many of the weapons over time, and who doesn't like having options?
There are other tools to discover that make navigating Sudra manageable, let alone possible. A laser drill lets you plow through rock (and some tough-skinned enemies), revealing new pathways and potential secrets. You eventually find a grappling hook that turns you into a veritable Bionic Commando, allowing you to bridge large gaps and swing across ceilings. Like in Metroid, you can sneak through small tunnels that you find, but not by morphing into a ball. Rather, you find a drone that can do the exploring for you. It has its own life bar and some modest firepower, and while it's out and about, you get to rest inside an impenetrable force field. A quick press of a button, and the drone dismantles itself before zipping back to your location. Eventually, it becomes a remote teleportation device, allowing you to warp to its location.
One tool stands out as the most special of the lot: the Address Disruptor. This device can corrupt enemies or repair garbled matter, which has many implications and uses during your adventure. Sometimes, firing it at glitchy matter will yield a new platform that will help you get to a new location, while other times it can clear a path. The most interesting application, however, is using it to transform enemies. Every enemy has a different reaction to the Address Disruptor, and it's critical to pay attention to the particulars therein. An enemy that spawns laser firing bugs may suddenly spawn life energy once you've corrupted it, while another may start to gnaw away at rock, which you can use to your advantage when trying to access hard to reach areas. There are dozens of different behaviors associated with the Address Disruptor, and it's easily one of the most interesting weapons or tools that I've ever seen in a game.An experiment this dramatic is bound to go wrong.
One enemy's reaction in particular leads me to talk about the game's password system. Within the inventory and map menu lies a place to input passwords. Passwords can trigger different things, such as changing your outfit or allowing you to read previously indecipherable texts. All of the info in the documents you find are supplements to the story, but they also stoke your curiosity to dig deeper into the mysterious events of the past and present. Passwords aren't just given out, you need to work to find them. In one case, a hard to reach document contains a translation string, another reveals itself when you use the Address Disruptor on a glitchy area of the map. My favorite, and the basis of this segue, is the enemy that reveals a code, letter by letter, after it's been corrupted. This particular enemy is only in one room, and even though there are others like it to be found on the map, it only provides a password in this particular instance. Moments like this are when you realize that you must use every tool at your disposal if you hope to uncover all of the secrets that lie within Axiom Verge. It takes a lot of work to find some items, but you get a real sense of accomplishment when you overcome difficult situations by combining your skills in clever ways.
Part of the reason you want to find secrets and secret areas is because you may gain a new weapon or ability, but also because your speed, map coverage, and item percentage have an impact on the game's ending. No matter what, Axiom Verge's final third will satisfy your curiosity and surprise you, but you learn more about Trace if you get through the game with efficiency and an attention to detail.The Address Disruptor is Axiom Verge's defining tool. It can transform enemies into allies and reveal hidden objects, to name just a couple of its effects.
Accomplishing everything it takes to get the absolute best ending isn't easy, especially your first time through. It took me the better part of 14 hours to get through to the end, and even with all of that time, I only uncovered 92% of the map and found 70% of the items. It's not an impressive run by any measure, but it would have been far worse if Axiom Verge punished you for every death, which I experienced dozens of during the course of my journey. Thankfully, dying only sends you back to the last save point on the map with all of your progress kept intact. While this may mean that you're teleported back a significant distance across Sudra, any milestones you've hit are preserved, meaning you don't need to waste precious time repeating previous efforts.
Speaking of repeating previous efforts, once the credits finished rolling, I couldn't wait to jump back in and start Trace's journey all over again. Some games conclude and I'm happy to walk away, but Axiom Verge is such a joy to play, with dozens of tools to play with, and too many secrets to find. The skills and rules you learn inform your expectations and plans, and my second trip through became more about the gameplay than the story, which isn't entirely a bad thing. After all, the better I play, the better the payoff in the end. I'm still working through Sudra for the second time, occasionally going back to my first save to identify things I may have missed so that I'm prepared when I encounter them again.
Axiom Verge is a game that's easy to fall in love with because it hits so many high notes. It takes the Metroidvania model and adds layers of ingenuity that are in a league all of their own, the most notable being the Address Disruptor. Yes it's occasionally drab looking, and some enemies may not fit in with the rest of the world, but when a game is this good, these blemishes quickly fade into the back of your mind. The chilling sci-fi setting, mysterious plot, and a seemingly endless number of abilities keep your mind busy, and your curiosity at fever pitch. It's not a stretch to say that Axiom Verge is better than the games that inspired it, because it's so inventive and thoughtfully crafted. There's no excuse to hold onto the past when the present is this amazing.
If you're enjoying Form Software's recently-released gothic role-playing game Bloodborne, you might want to check out the developer's previous game, which gets a re-release this week in the form of Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin.
As the name suggests, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin includes Dark Souls II, as well as all of Dark Souls II's previously released downloadable content: The Crown of the Sunken King, Crown of the Old Iron King, and Crown of the Ivory King downloadable content packs. New content exclusive to Scholar of the First Sin will also be included which features a new boss, NPC, events, items, and updates to the game's lore.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin will launch for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on April 2. The PS4 version of the game is confirmed to output in native 1080p resolution at 60 frames-per-second. The PC version will be released digitally, with a rather convoluted pricing structure. For more details on the game, check out our interview with Bandai-Namco global producer, Atsuo Yoshimura.
If you prefer action your role-playing games to be a less painful and punishing, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D will be released exclusively for the New Nintendo 3DS this week. The game is a re-release of 2012's Xenoblade Chronicles which was originally launched on the Wii. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D was well-received in GameSpot's review, scoring an eight out of ten for its deep combat system, large world, and quality voice overs.
For more on the games out at Australian retailers this week, check out the full list below.
April 2, 2015
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)
Ride (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (N3DS)
April 4, 2015
Activision has released a trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Exo Zombies Infection, the second part of the first-person shooter's cooperative zombie experience.
Like the first part of Exo Zombies, included with Advanced Warfare's Havoc DLC, Infection stars John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan, and Jon Bernthal. After escaping the overrun Atlas research facility in the first part, the characters head to a Burgertown franchise where they must keep fighting for survival. Part two also introduces a new weapon, new traps, and a new, heavy zombie type.
Exo Zombies Infection comes with Advanced Warfare's Ascendance DLC pack, which releases on March 31 for Xbox Live, with other platforms to follow.
You can also still catch the end of the 2015 Call of Duty Championship, where some of the best players in the world are competing for $1 million in prizes.
Tetsuya Takahashi, director at Xenoblade Chronicles 3D developer Monolith Software says that he never imagined the game would be available to play on handheld devices when it was originally made for Nintendo's Wii, but now that it is, it raises the bar for portable role-playing games.
"Now we can play Xenoblade Chronicles on the New Nintendo 3DS XL, and...now, this may sound a little egotistical, but I thought, 'This is really going to raise the bar for RPGs on portable devices,'" Takahashi said in the latest Iwata Asks interview series, in which Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata sits down with different developers.
Takahashi said he was surprised the game found an audience in the West, and discussed the differences between protagonists in Western RPGs and Japanese RPGs.
"One difference is that [Xenoblade Chronicles] did a good job of incorporating the innate heroism of JRPGs...allowing the user to become the hero, to become the protagonist," Takahashi said. "On the other hand, games made in the West - and this is only my personal opinion - they are very well made, down to the last detail, but there's something stoic about them, and often the heroism aspect seems to take a bit of a back seat."
"In JRPGs, the protagonists aren't very strong," Iwata said. "They seem like people you could meet on the street who just happen to be born to a certain destiny, and are drawn by some force into doing things that they could have never believed possible... But if Westerners really didn't like that kind of story, Star Wars wouldn't have become such a hit. Because that movie is just this type of story."
Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is a re-release of Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles coming on April 10. It's the first 3DS game that will require the New 3DS in order to play.
Tekken executive producer and game director Katsuhiro Harada revealed three new characters for Tekken 7 during a 20th anniversary stream for the series on Nico Nico.
The three new confirmed characters are Jin Kazama, which you can see in the video above, Devil Jin, and a wholly new character to the series Josie Rizal, which you can see in the videos below.
Jin Kazama and Devil Jin, seem much like they did in previous Tekken games, while Josie Rizal, the series first Filipina character, uses a kickboxing fighting style.
Tekken 7 was announced last year. The game, which is powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 4, is already in Japanese arcades, but Bandai Namco has yet to announce when the game will hit other platforms in other territories.
For more on the game, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Tekken 7.
In September 2014 Valve released the Steam Discovery Update, which aimed to help users filter through the glut of new releases with improved personalized recommendations and Steam Curators, individuals or groups you can follow for more game recommendations. Six month later, Valve says that the update is generally achieving its goal, but could still improve in some areas.
Valve posted the update to the SteamworksDev group, which was reposted to Reddit with Valve's permission.
The good news is that the new discovery queue, which shows users a mix of new releases, popular products, and unique recommendations based on the users' tastes is driving users to view and buy new games.
"The Steam Discovery Update as a whole resulted in a sustained 30 percent increase in views of product pages across Steam, and the discovery queue has contributed almost 75 percent of that total increase in page views," Valve said.
"In addition to the raw increases in traffic, we’ve also carefully monitored sales data to make sure we’re growing the size of the pie, rather than just adjusting the size of the slices," Valve said. "Steam’s overall growth doesn't just come from the biggest hits (which continue to see great success), but also from the smaller titles that are now better able to reach the audience that is right for them."
Valve revealed that revenue for all apps outside of the 500 top sellers, has increased by 18 percent, and that daily earnings per app have increased by five percent.
The not so great news is that one of the biggest features of the Steam Discovery Update, Steam Curators, isn't having the desired effect.
"Unfortunately, the day to day interactions are not as high as we'd like, and we know we need to make some changes to better expose curators," Valve said. However, the company did say that 3.1 million unique users arrived at a store page via a curator, meaning they browsed a list of curators are noticed a curator's recommendation in their activity feed. "We think the general notion of editorialized and community-curated content has a lot of potential to help users discover new content and make better informed decisions, but we still have work to do to make better use of information generated by curators."
Overall, Valve says that the update helped expose users to more of the Steam catalog, and that it will continue to improve these new features with user and developer feedback.
Has the Steam Discovery Update impacted your Steam shopping habits at all? Let us know in the comments below.
If you like streaming yourself playing games on Twitch and don't already own a PlayStation 4, Best Buy has a great deal on Sony's console.
Another great PS4 deal this weekend includes one of the biggest exclusive games to hit the console yet. For $400, you can get a PlayStation 4, a copy of Bloodborne, a $20 Amazon gift card, and a copy of The Last of Us Remastered. You can find the deal on Amazon here.
If you're looking for more great offers, check out GameSpot's regular gaming deals posts, which round up the best discounts of the day.
Mortal Kombat X's gory fatalities are a gruesome sight, but have you ever thought about the work that goes into creating the sound effects for them? Turns out, that process is almost as gross as the fatalities themselves.
Yesterday, Mortal Kombat X developer NetherRealm held a live broadcast, "Kombatcast," where it offered some new information about the fighting game as well as a look behind the scene.
During the broadcast, NetherRealm showed some of the foley work (the process of recording sound effects) that went into the game. In the video, which you can see above, NetherRealm developers use green goo, a plunger, and some other tools to create the gross, goopy sounds you'll hear during Fatalities. NetherRealm added that it destroys a lot of vegetables, fruits, and nuts with hammers to create other sound effects.
NetherRealm also discusses how it created the game's music and other improvements it's introducing to Mortal Kombat X, so the video is definitely worth watching if you're a fan of the series.
Update: The second wave of tickets--equal in size to the first--went on sale overnight and was gone even more quickly. By 10:04 PM Pacific, all tickets to The International were sold out, meaning it took a total of just 10 minutes for all 2015 International tickets to be sold. Unfortunately, we're already seeing some people resell their tickets on eBay, though it remains to be seen if Valve will do anything to prevent this from happening.
Original Story: If you're the sort of person who takes six minutes to blink, you may have just missed your chance at the first wave of tickets for The International, Dota 2's wildly popular championship tournament.
After going on sale today at 10 AM Pacific, the first half of the tickets that will be available for the event were gone by 10:06, Valve has announced. Last year, it took an hour for all of the 10,000 tickets available to be gone.
The second--and final--wave of tickets for this year's tournament will go on sale later today, at 10 PM Pacific. You can place an order (or at least try) on Ticketmaster's website.
There are no assigned seats, and all tickets are available for the same price of $99. Buyers are limited to five per household, a limit that carries across waves.
This year's International takes place August 3-8 at KeyArena in Seattle, WA, the city that's hosted the last three tournaments. Last year, the prize pool eclipsed a whopping $10 million.
I'm not what you would call a veteran of From Software's games. I first played Dark Souls while livestreaming the entire endeavour, so I had a troupe of viewers offering me advice, and laughing at my literal pitfalls, as I crept through Lordran. I absorbed Dark Souls II in discrete chunks over a series of press preview events--a scenario too fractured to form a coherent picture of Drangleic. I feel as though Bloodborne is my first true Souls experience. I'm going in blind, and--as I'm playing before the multiplayer servers come online--there's no one around to help me.
That sense of isolation dictated my playstyle in the previous games. Even with a Twitch audience, Dark Souls' world was scary, and its combat pacing entirely foreign to me. My natural reaction was to equip myself with a sword and shield from the outset. After all, defence equals safety, right? I could hide behind my shield from any of the Undead Burg's lumbering residents, and catch arrows and crossbow bolts in its wooden frame. I crept forward slowly, shield always raised, and tended to take two steps back every time a skeleton took a swing at me.
You can imagine how this would make for slow progress through the game. However, it gave me time to study my enemies, learn their attack patterns, and use the shield bash to parry their strikes and follow up with a riposte. I could parry almost every strike. What resulted was a playstyle wholly focused on being reactive, rather than making the first move.
Imagine my horror when I discovered there was no shield on offer in Bloodborne's initial equipment choices. Imagine my double horror when I found out that the health regain system meant that survival encouraged aggressive action. In removing the sword and board, Bloodborne removed the only way I knew how to play the Souls games. From what I understand, it was a playstyle that was considered a somewhat amateur way to play, too. So, with threaded cane and blunderbuss equipped, I ventured into Yharnam with a timidness brought about by my assumed vulnerability.
In removing the sword and board, Bloodborne removed the only way I knew how to play the Souls games.
The first thing I needed to get past was my own fear. Dark Souls and its sequel have scary moments--such as the Capra Demon’s appearance in the former, or the pitch-black hallways of the latter--but I’ve never been particularly scared of its enemy designs. The fear in those games comes through the mechanics--it’s a fear of losing souls, and progress. That’s still present in Bloodborne, but the enemies themselves are far more monstrous. They scream at you with ungodly howls, and the beast-folks’ unnervingly detailed body hair accentuates every swipe of their sharp claws. Without a shield, my natural reaction is to run, but that’s the opposite of what Bloodborne wants. So I keep them at a safe distance by emptying my blunderbuss’ quicksilver bullets into them at fast as the weapon will reload.
The first time I stagger a half-man, half-wolf doing this is a turning point. He falls to his knees, and I follow up with a visceral attack that results in much literal viscera, along with massive damage. I have just learned that my gun is basically a shield with ammo. Dark Souls’ parry and riposte is there, just in a limited supply. In a way, the blunderbuss is actually safer than a shield--if you mis-time a shield bash in Dark Souls, you’re going to get hit by the enemy’s incoming attack. If you mis-time a stagger in Bloodborne by firing too early, you’re still going to interrupt the enemy. And here, the cost isn’t stamina, but readily-available quicksilver bullets. I imagine my character looking at her blunderbuss with a mixture of shock and awe upon this realisation.
Suddenly, Bloodborne’s enemies aren’t so scary. I’m no longer waiting for them to come to me, but I’m closing the ground--willingly, for a change--and baiting them into a strike. Those big ogres that try to squash you with a massive brick? Dead with one parry attack. Father Gascoigne? Straight to third form with a couple of parry attacks.
I’ve also learned to do something that I never thought I’d be capable of in the first two Souls games: run past everything. There’s a childish glee to be had upon realising that most of the game’s enemies aren’t all that quick on their feet. I figured out direct routes to the Cleric Beast and Vicar Amelia that don’t require me to make a single strike, or take a single hit. I’ve become more focused on identifying environmental constraints, such as available rolling space, than keeping an eye on my character’s stamina and health bars.
I feel now that I’m playing Bloodborne in the way that Souls veterans do. There’s a confidence and cockiness to my movements that I had never thought I’d be capable of exhibiting in these games. Central Yharnam is no longer a scary place crawling with crazed citizens; it’s where I go if I need to collect a few bullets and blood vials quickly. The scythe-wielding witches of the Frontier are just a roar of my blunderbuss away from no longer being an obstacle.
I begin to wonder if all this time my sword and shield build was weighing me down. It has taken multiple things to get to that realisation: the time to discover Bloodborne’s intricacies on my own, without a Twitch audience, without the constraints of a press event, and without walkthroughs to turn to. Most of all, it has taken a game that hasn’t just encouraged me to try a new play style, but required it. Bloodborne may just be the first From Software game that I truly click with. And you know what? I haven’t even used the wooden shield I found.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin's release is nearly here, as is its convoluted, tiered pricing system.
If you're planning to buy Scholar of the First Sin on Xbox One or PS4 (releasing April 7), the price is simple: $60. If you're on PC (releasing April 1), things are a bit more complicated, as there are four possible price points.
There are two different PC versions of Scholar of the First Sin: DirectX 9 and DirectX 11, each of which will have its own Steam store listing. The latter offers a variety of new features and--assuming your PC can handle it--is the more desirable version. As such, the DX9 version is priced at $40, and the DX11 version is priced at $50.
However, if you already own Dark Souls II and its DLC on Steam, and your computer can't handle DX11, there's no point in upgrading to the newer version, as an update released last month on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 will have already provided you with the full DX9 Scholar of the First Sin experience.
If your PC is DX11-capable, upgrading to Scholar of the First Sin costs $30. That is, unless you have all of the DLC already, in which case the price is $20.
As for transferring your save data over, that doesn't have a single answer, either. Players staying on Xbox 360, PS3 or the DX9 version can move their saves, whereas those going from any of those versions to the Xbox One, PS4, or DX11 versions cannot.
Additionally, these two groups of players (last-gen consoles/DX9 and current-gen/DX11) can't play with each other online due to changes that Scholar of the First Sin introduces, such as enemy spawns and item locations. For more about what's new, check out our chat with producer Atsuo Yoshimura.
Bandai Namco also provided minimum and recommended system specs for the DX9 and DX11 versions of Scholar of the First Sin, which you can find below.Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (DirectX 9)Minimum System Requirements:
Typing of the Dead: Overkill will now let you type zombies to death with words of your choosing, Sega has announced.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill plays just like a light gun game you'd find at an arcade, but instead of pointing and shooting at zombies you type in specific words that appear on screen in order to kill them. With the Custom Dictionaries update, players can create their own list of words that will appear in the game, and offer them to others through Steamworks.
Basically, all you have to do is create a text file with a list of words and add it to the game. You can find instructions on how to do this here.
Players are already adding their own dictionaries to the game, and as you'd expect, using them for nefarious means. One user has created a "Social Justice dictionary," which includes racist, sexist, and anti-semitic words. At the time of writing, the mod was still available to download.
Sega and developer Modern Dream has done a great job of supporting Typing of the Dead: Overkill since it was first released in 2013. They've released several pieces of DLC which let you play the game with different dictionaries, like the Shakspeare DLC, and the foul-mouthed Filth DLC.
The game is currently on sale for $5.
Three separate instances of swatting are being attributed to a 13-year-old boy who plays Minecraft, according to local police.
The name of the boy, who is from Southern California, is not being released due to his age. According to Ars Technica, he is now back in his parents' custody and is set to appear in juvenile court in April, where he's said to likely be put on probation.
Detective Gene Martinez of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, who spoke with Ars, said that the boy has admitted to being responsible, and that "he felt he was wronged." In one of these cases, he threatened to blow up a house with hostages inside.
"The Camarillo incident there were 20-plus officers there. I was at that call. We basically surrounded the house. The caller reported there were 10 hostages in the house and demanded $30,000 in cash or he would blow up the house," Martinez said. "Whenever there is a hostage situation, we activate specialized units to respond."
Swatting is the dangerous trend in recent years of making a prank call to police that results in SWAT teams being dispatched to a victim's home. We've seen this happen with gamers a number of times, including earlier this year with Twitch streamer Joshua Peters who later spoke about the experience.
"I had police point a gun at my little brothers because of you," Peters said in an online message to the culprit in February. "They could have been shot, they could have died because you chose to swat my stream."
The penalties for swatting are serious. Although probation sounds like a light punishment in this latest case, that's only due to the boy's age; 19-year-old Brandon Wilson was arrested last month on suspicion of swatting and faces up to five years in jail if he's found guilty.
Mortal Kombat X will introduce a feature that allows players to more easily pull off the series' signature finishing moves, Fatalities.
For many, Fatalities are the highlight of any Mortal Kombat game, but they can be tricky to pull off. At the end of a match, you're given a limited amount of time to get into the correct positioning and input a series of button presses to initiate a Fatality. Fail to do so in time and the match will simply end, or screw up the inputs and you're likely to end the match on a simple punch or kick, which I know I'm guilty of doing countless times.
That's where MKX's new "easy Fatality" feature comes in. During the most recent NetherRealm Studios live stream, community specialist Tyler Lansdown confirmed fans' suspicions that a small skull seen near the bottom of the screen in previous videos was related to easy Fatalities.
"Now, we've learned through years and years of study that there are a lot of people who just can't pull off Fatalities, or they get freaked out or they can't figure out the timing," Lansdown said. "So when the game launches, you'll have a couple of those--maybe three of them--day one. You'll have those just to use and do easy Fatalities on.
"There are certain places you can unlock those and things like that. So you'll always have access to easy Fatalities--if you want to use them."
Also during the live stream, it was confirmed that Goro--who is available as a playable character if you preorder--will be sold as DLC in the future. This was already widely assumed, as it's the standard route for DLC given away as a preorder bonus.
Housemarque's voxel-packed side-scrolling shooter Resogun is easy to love for it's stimulating visuals and soundtrack, but once your newfound fascination with voxels and dance music finally cools, it's the challenge to survive and the call of the high score that draws you back. This tradition is upheld in the new Defenders DLC, which contains two new modes: Protector and Commando. Protector mode is a more punishing and exciting variation of the standard game--you earn powerful upgrades at a rapid pace but typically die in one hit--while the Commando mode has you defend the last house on the planet as either Arnold Schwarzenegger or an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator, sans spaceship.
OK. It's obviously not Arnold Schwarzenegger, but while defending humanity's last home from incoming enemy spacecraft and environmental hazards, you do randomly spout some famous lines in his voice. It's a fun touch, but don't let the comedic side of Protector get in the way of what's most important: defending that house. You run along the ground, firing into the sky as enemies nosedive into frame. Although the house you're defending can withstand some damage, similar to structures in the classic game Missile Command, all it takes is one hit for you to die in Commando mode, and there are no continues. You do have a few of the same abilities as your spaceship, including bombs and speed boosts, and you can jump, which is useful when ground-based enemies eventually appear. Because you can fire in more than two directions with the right analog stick, Commando mode feels like it has more in common with twin-stick shooters than it does with Resogun.
Blasting through increasingly difficult waves of enemies in Commando mode is challenging and the Schwarzenegger impersonations are humorous, but fighting on foot isn't as thrilling as zipping around in a ship. You don't move particularly fast, and your gun is underpowered for what feels like too long relative to how fast the number of targets increases on screen. This new style of gameplay is intriguing because it's different, but it lacks the sense of speed and excitement that's typical of Resogun. That's not to imply that it's bad or even not fun--you still experience the wonder of voxels and the drive to earn higher and higher scores, and likely a bit of laughter--but Commando mode just doesn't compare to the rest of Resogun.
If you're looking for something more fast-paced and exciting, focus on Protector mode. It plays very similar to Resogun proper, where you zoom around a ring-shaped level, shooting down enemy ships and rescuing vulnerable humans on the ground, but you earn weapons and armor upgrades at a much faster rate than usual. The trade-off is that enemy swarms grow equally fast and you don't start with any extra lives; the only second chances you get are in the form of expendable shields that occasionally come as bonuses for saving humans.
Piloting a fully-upgraded ship is a treat rarely afforded in other modes, where extended boosts and more destructive overdrive cannons are reserved for the best players, so Protector mode is a great way to experience a side of the game that may have been out of reach before. It's oh-so-sweet to have a massively upgraded ship, and because the difficulty also scales fast, you still feel like you're being challenged, even with all of the added firepower.
If Resogun has already run its course in your mind, there's nothing in Defenders that's going to lure you back in for the long haul. Of course, it's hard to imagine how someone could ever get enough Resogun, being that it's one of the best arcade-game experiences in years. In that sense, Defenders is a worthy addition to an already great game that will no doubt please anyone with a fondness for fighting within an inch of their life while also blowing up everything in sight into tiny, beautiful pieces.
The Legend of Zelda is a cornerstone property for Nintendo. The combination of exploration, adventure, and puzzle-elements keep us coming back for more. Many of us have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next Zelda game, which will take the series in a brand new direction with an open world. We were previously told it would arrive in 2015 and expected to get some more information at E3 this year.
Today, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma posted a video explaining the freedom and exploration of the game have given the developers many new possibilities. Therefore, they have put more focus on making this Zelda the best it can be. This means the 2015 release date might not happen. Likewise, Nintendo has decided not to show the game at E3 this year.
What do you think of this announcement? Is it a good move? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
It's been about four months since I've spent quality time in the world of Thedas--nearly 70 hours' worth of it. This week's content release for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jaws of Hakkon, may have jump started my engine, reminding me what I love most about the core game: the sense of wonder, the thematic richness, a fantastic sense of place and personality. The new adventure becomes available in the second act of the game, taking your Inquisitor to the Frostback Basin, the foothills and valley near the mountain range at the southern end of Thedas. You've been called in to provide support for an archaeological survey of the region that is searching for the final resting place of the world's last Inquisitor, Ameridan. While piecing together the mystery of Ameridan, you'll have to navigate the region's complex geography and even more complex sociopolitical relationships.
The Frostback Basin is a deceptively big zone. What seems easily conquerable on the map screen is actually a sizable and intricate mix of environments. Foothills open up into plateaus, which feature deep, dangerous pits. A lakeshore runs into the bubbling, muddy shallows of the basin, and those turn into misty swamplands and damp jungles. It's all brought to life with vibrant color and fresh ambient sounds. The Frostback Basin feels distinct from the game's other zones, and it's mostly a joy to explore.The environments in Jaws of Hakkon really show off Inquisition’s lighting engine.
I say "mostly," because sometimes it feels like BioWare is trying to stretch out the available content in Jaws of Hakkon. Over the course of eight hours in the Frostback Basin, five different missions make you "follow the trail" across territory you've already explored thoroughly in the course of doing other missions. Most egregious is a mission that sends you around to flip a number of switches scattered across the northern half of the zone. For the previous six hours of play, these switches had been visible but inactive, and I knew that they'd send me back eventually. They did. This decision is particularly strange because Hakkon doesn't need to be stretched in any way. The Frostback Basin is packed with all of the elements that made me love Inquisition to begin with: smart characterization, interesting combat encounters, and carefully written lore.
The Frostback Basin is home to two rival tribes of the Avvar, a human society that briefly pops up early on in Inquisition. The development of these groups (and of the region's history in general) is the high point of Hakkon, and you'll get the most out of this DLC if you dig into the lore about these people and their culture and religion. Dragon Age has always been at its best when the stories it tells are multifaceted and mysterious, and the same is true here: Religious iconography blurs together; magical traditions are at once remarkably similar and fundamentally different; and the final, "true" history is often left unknown.What’s better than hanging out on a moonlit beach with some buds?
Best of all, the Avvar work to break apart the classic binaries that show up throughout the Dragon Age series. They share the Elven relationship to nature, but are human. They're human, but don't belong to any of the major political powers. They're deeply spiritual, but also incredibly practical. They have a strict system to govern the use of magic, but use terms and concepts to explain the magical world that are entirely different than those used by the Templars and Circle of Mages. All of this works to complicate the world of Thedas by providing yet another potential perspective to consider.
This makes it extra frustrating that so little of Jaws of Hakkon shares the cinematic sheen of the rest of Inquisition. Most other zones in the world of Thedas have a mix of two different sorts of quests. Firstly, there are the little, MMOG-style missions you complete for this or that character: kill ten bears, or recover a missing satchel, or perform some other small task. Secondly, there are the major story missions that take you out of the third-person perspective and into a cutscene view, where dramatic music supports characters who emote and animate as the plot unfolds. In Hakkon, only the very beginning and very end of the main questline offer this second sort of storytelling. Throughout the rest of my eight hours, I watched as world-shaking information was delivered without any pomp or luster.Learning about the Avvar culture is a highlight.
If you told me last week that this would bother me, I'd tell you that you'd be absolutely wrong. But here I am, missing the intimate close-ups and the sweeping vistas. (Maybe this shouldn't be be surprising: Imagine an episode of Game of Thrones that never shows the detail of a character's face.) Over the course of the previous 70 hours, Dragon Age: Inquisition had quietly taught me to expect a certain rhythm: I'd meander around a zone until I was ready to commit to one of the many "big" story events. There was a sort of storytelling grammar at work, and by reducing the use of that grammar, Hakkon rarely feels as substantial as it should. Thankfully, the final hour or so of Hakkon does utilize those storytelling tools to great effect, and it joins them with some new, unique mechanics in a series of major combat encounters that build momentum and velocity until an explosive climax.
Though I wish that Jaws of Hakkon was less bloated, and though I miss the cinematic flair of the rest of Dragon Age: Inquisition, I know that in a month I'll have forgotten these quibbles. Instead, I'll remember my time spent in Frostback Basin fondly. I'll remember the sharp wit of Svarah Sun-Hair, the leader of the local Avvar clan. I'll remember the holy symbols that blur the line between competing faiths. I'll remember the mist and the mountains and the sun's light through the trees. I'll remember confronting legendary foes, and the time I got to spend with some of my favorite characters in video games.
In a recent update, the post-apocalyptic MMO survival game Rust got a few unusual changes. The game now randomly selects player's skin color and faces, tying them to each player's Steam ID so that they cannot be changed.
Lead designer Gary Newman detailed the changes in a blog post last week saying "Everyone now has a pseudo unique skin tone and face. Just like in real life, you are who you are – you can't change your skin colour or your face. It's actually tied to your steamid."
Previously, players were all identical young people, but the developers wanted to shake that up. "There's a lot of skin colors in the world," Newman added. "It's really easy to appear racially insensitive when doing this. This is compounded by the fact that everyone is really used to seeing this guy as a white guy, so when you see him as a black guy it feels like he's just 'blacked up.' So we're spending a lot of time trying to lessen that effect."
So far, the response has been mostly positive, but as PCGamesN reports, comments on the game's steam forums have been pretty nasty (gallery below). Some people aren't happy about the fact that they aren't white men anymore. Apparently that's also been accompanied by a surge of racially-charged language. In an interview with Kotaku, Newman quipped, "It makes me wish I'd set up some analystics to record how many times the N-word was used before and after the update. It was used quite a bit from what I've seen."
Newman wanted to take action against the players using that kind of charged language, but other players began stepping in. "What we found was that when someone was being racist, they were always in the minority and more often than not the other members of the server stepped in and took action (i.e. they all worked together to hunt him)."
Newman hopes that this will teach people about empathy and what other people have to deal with on a regular basis.
"I would love nothing more than if playing a black guy in a game made a white guy appreciate what it was like to be a persecuted minority. There's still work to be done, so consider this just the boilerplate of an idea for now. It's quite pleasing to see different races working together in game, and makes you realize how arbitrary race is."
Sci-fi shooter Destiny will be getting the House of Wolves downloadable content pack soon, and Bungie has revealed more information on the patch players will be getting prior to its release. Detailed on the official Bungie site, the update makes a few tweaks to the game, including increasing players' in-game vault space.
Update 1.1.2 will increase the vault dimensions for armors and item to 24 slots and for weapons to 36 slots. Prior to this, all vault item spaces were capped at 20 slots each. The expansion of the vault was limited by "memory constraints on older generation hardware," which required a compromise to expand storage space. For Destiny players on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the item comparison feature will no longer function in the vault. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players will remain unaffected.
PlayStation 4 owners are getting the 2.50 Yukimura update today, which introduces a Suspend and Resume function. While Suspend and Resume won't immediately work with Destiny, the 1.1.2 Update will enable its function.
Patch 1.1.2 will be out in April, before the House of Wolves DLC hits. The update will also bring new audio options, a feature for colorblind players, and various gameplay fixes.
Life is Strange is at its best when it's letting you talk to people. Some of the best moments are between Max, the hero of this story, and Chloe, her new/old best friend. Others involve Max delicately navigating a verbal encounter with little to wield other than words...and if need be, her time-bending superpower. Life is Strange's first episode was a great setup for the world of Blackwell, where young adults struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives, but was ultimately a little too bogged down by its time-rewinding mechanic. The mechanic still gets in the way of some poignant moments in Episode Two, Out of Time, but it is here that the game slowly begins introducing the limitations to Max's power. This not only makes for some interesting encounters but drives the episode to an emotional high point that left me feeling raw, empty, and very impatient for the next installment.
Max's story is getting darker. Chloe has warmed up to Max, and the episode opens with our young heroine on her way to meet her old friend for breakfast. She's still dealing with the fallout of her run-in with Nathan Prescott in the previous episode, and--depending on choices you made in the previous episode and a few ones you'll make early in this one--has becoming a looming, omnipresent threat to Max's existence. She's doing her best to balance this danger with being a good friend; not just to Chloe, but to Kate Marsh, another troubled girl. On top of all that, Max is getting wrapped up in Chloe's problems, which turn out to be more sinister than having a militant stepfather. And as before, the adults in Life is Strange act like frightened children, completely inept at being helpful to these angsty teens and behaving in ways that no sensible real-world adult would.
In Episode One, I was bothered by the throwaway mentions of Rachel Amber, the girl who took Max's place as Chloe's bestie after she moved away, and who has since gone missing. Episode Two drops large hints that maybe we're looking at the wrong people; this might not be Max's story after all, but the story of an even greater mystery. There may only be just enough room for Max in Chloe's and her friends' world to solve these horrible problems. A missing girl. An approaching tornado. The one person with the power to stop it all may be the least important in the equation.Every encounter counts.
Adding to the uptick in narrative intrigue is the gradual introduction of the limitations of Max's power. Red splotches crowd the sides of the screen every time you rewind, indicating that Max is physically harming herself with her abilities. Out of Time slaps Max, and you, with the realization that these powers come with a price. This fragility, the knowledge that these powers don't make Max some infallible entity that can perpetually change her choices, gives the choices you do make more weight. Max is no longer balancing teenage problems with unlimited power; she's balancing teenage problems with a dangerous tool that can harm as well as help.
The tone of Episode Two is confusing to place, largely because of lengthy sequences that come across as too "gamey" and thus detract from the story. There are two instances in this episode where Life is Strange aggressively reminds you that it is a video game; the heartfelt narrative of a young girl's struggle to be a force of good takes a backseat to fetch quests and memory puzzles. These moments weaken the tension of Life is Strange and I felt frustrated, as these sequences seem to take up time for the sake of adding some kind of game element. However, I learned to tamp down my impatience, as these moments give limitless breathing room to explore. I learned more about Chloe's relationship with Rachel by scouring a junkyard and more about Kate Marsh's home life by lingering in her dorm room. It doesn't become apparent until the end of the episode that these tedious stretches have huge story impact. This is why I say the tone is confusing; Life is Strange wants you to stay tense and pay attention, yet simultaneously encourages you to stop and smell the roses, without much warning of when you're supposed to do either. The solution is to keep on your toes, look at everything, and talk to everyone, because you genuinely never know when something will be important later.Adults who behave like children, children who are trying to be adults.
This is never more evident than at the episode's end, when "make or break" becomes too light a description for what Max has to do. Every choice you've made in the first two episodes, every decision you made connected to someone around Max, comes to a head here. This is where it ends, and where Life is Strange becomes more than an episodic video game. It becomes a window into the world of the young, where it's either your oyster or it's ending, when you're too naive to think of the future. Bullying, drugs, wanting to be liked, feeling misunderstood, channeling emptiness into lashing out at others--this is why life is strange as a young adult. It's a rare person that doesn't wish she they could go back and get just one more chance with someone, with something.
Out of Time gives real meaning to the choices you've made. And by its conclusion, you'll know whether or not Max, your version of Max, is a bad confidante. The episode's turning point depends on how well you've paid attention to your classmates, how flakey or how helpful you've been for a certain friend. It requires you to have scoured every nook and cranny, poked into every room and fed your curiosity by examining everything. Because if you haven't, the outcome can't be undone under any circumstances. Life is Strange is actively testing how much you, the player, care. It's a subtle way to imbue a lot of power into the choice mechanic, and it sneaks up on you without warning.Is this the relationship that matters most?
Despite the great way Out of Time handles emotional payoff, it suffers from problematic dialogue. Characters will display conflicting emotions over the course of a conversation that ping pong between extremely positive and extremely negative, without cause. In one instance, a character warms up to you and comments how you've been missed, and when you respond positively she suddenly, nastily, ask if you're making up for something you did wrong in Episode One. Another instance has someone admit she knows you care about her, and when you say that yes, you do care, she suddenly shouts that nobody cares about her. It makes no sense and makes many of these conversations feel like uphill battles in the dark. It's harder to placate someone or do what you think is right when there's a good chance that no matter what you say his or her response is completely out of your control.
Life is Strange still has problems with its dialogue and pacing, but Episode Two reaches emotional heights that are worth the journey. Your choices as Max are finally beginning to take on meaning, and the trajectory of her role in this messy story is more unclear than ever. But that's a good thing; stories about people with infallible power are boring. Max is no superhero; she's just a girl trying to be just and do right by everybody. But like in the real world, trying to please everyone has consequences, and Life is Strange lets you know that with a shot right to the heart.
Speaking today during a post-earnings financial call, GameStop COO Tony Bartel said gamers should not expect to see as many new hardware bundles that come with free games in 2015 as they did last year.
"Based on our discussions with publishers and platform-holders, these pack-in programs will be significantly reduced in 2015," Bartel said.
In 2014, Microsoft and Sony offered various hardware bundles. Microsoft sold Xbox Ones with free copies of Assassin's Creed Unity (and Black Flag), Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Sunset Overdrive. Meanwhile, Sony sold PlayStation 4 bundles with free pack-ins such as Destiny and The Last of Us, among others.
Bartel said GameStop's overall new software sales took a hit last year due to these bundles. Citing an NPD study, Bartel said as much as $250 million was lost in physical sales as a result.
"We believe that new software sales were impacted in the latter part of 2014 as many games were given away as subsidized marketing incentives in next-generation hardware bundles," he said.
Microsoft just this month launched a new Xbox One Master Chief Collection bundle. So bundles aren't going away entirely (as evidenced by the number of bundles currently being offered at GameStop), but Bartel sees them as making up a smaller piece of the pie this year compared to last.
Currently, Xbox One and PS4 free game bundles--in the case of the Master Chief Collection and The Last of Us bundles--cost the same as a standard console. That's $350 for Xbox One and $400 for PS4.
Also during the presentation, the retailer shared some data from an upcoming DFC Intelligence report. It claims that, of the total number of AAA games sold in North America last year, 88 percent were physical and 12 percent were digital.
Of that 12 percent, 60 percent were given away through hardware bundles, while 40 percent were paid for.
Overall, when factoring in total unit sales of AAA games in 2014 (physical and digital), paid-for downloaded games made up just 2 percent of all units, according to the study.
The full DFC Intelligence study will be released later this year.
Earlier today, GameStop reported earnings for the fourth quarter and full-year. Check out GameSpot's full report for everything you need to know.
Whether it’s an in-joke between friends on the development team or a nod to a developers' favorite games, most games have some kind of easter egg, and Ori and the Blind Forest is no exception.
As a challenging action-platformer with plenty of backtracking and exploring, Ori's design has some obvious influences like Metroid and Castlevania. But dedicated fans have managed to track down easy-to-miss references to games like Super Mario Bros., Super Meat Boy, and The Legend of Zelda, as well as the infamous, non-game-related Wilhelm scream.
In the video above, posted by YouTube user Captain Eggcellent, you can see a quick rundown of four easter eggs fans have found so far:
We provided some screencaps of the easter eggs below, but have you found any that Captain Eggcellent missed? Let us know in the comments below!
If you're playing Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and noticed a dip in graphical fidelity, it may not be a problem with your console. Rockstar Games has now acknowledged that the open-world game's latest update, 1.08, has led to a deterioration of graphical quality.
Not to worry, though, as the developer is now working on a fix.
"We are aware of some graphical issues on the Xbox One and PS4 versions of GTAV after the most recent Title Update, and we are investigating a fix now," the developer said today in a post on its support site.
"If you would like to receive an automatic email notification as soon as there is more information, please log into the Support Site and click Subscribe at the top of this page."
GTA V recently introduced the long-awaited online Heists mode, which faced some struggles at release but should now be working just fine. For lots more on GTA V Heists, check out the video above and some screenshots in the gallery below.
Video game retailer GameStop today reported earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended January 31. While sales were down during the fourth quarter, yearly revenue was up, and--for both periods--digital was yet again a bright spot for the retailer.
In the fourth quarter, total GameStop global sales were $3.48 billion, representing a 5.6 percent decrease compared to $3.68 billion during the same quarter last year. Mobile, consumer electronics, and new software posted gains, but this was offset by a decrease in new hardware sales.
GameStop's digital sales rose 41.4 percent to $368.8 million during the quarter. Growth in this area was led by downloadable content and mobile digital sales, the company said.
Fourth quarter net income was $244.1 million, an increase compared to last year's profit of $220.5 million.
Switching to the full year, GameStop sales were $9.3 billion, compared to $9.04 billion last year. Consolidated comparable store sales also grew, rising 3.4 percent compared to fiscal 2013. GameStop said these results was primarily bolstered by "better than expected" Xbox One and PS4 sales, as well as growth in the company's pre-owned business.
Here's a snapshot of some of GameStop's full-year financial highlights.
Total net earnings for the year were $393.1 million, compared to $354.2 million last year.
GameStop CEO Paul Raines offered the following statement regarding the results.
“2014 was a year of continued growth, diversification, and expansion of the GameStop family of specialty retail brands," he said. "In our core video game business, we achieved our highest market share in history with 28 percent share of next-generation hardware, 46 percent share of next-generation software and an estimated 42 percent share of downloadable content."
"Meanwhile, our Technology Brands segment exceeded expectations, contributing 5 percent to our operating income and to our highest-ever annual gross margin of 29.9 percent, as we rapidly expanded the footprint of our AT&T wireless and Apple retail businesses. Together, core gaming and Technology Brands drove an 8 percent growth in operating earnings and 16 percent earnings per share growth. For 2015, we are focused on maintaining and growing market share in physical and digital gaming and, based on their superior returns, expanding our portfolio of Technology Brands by 350 to 550 stores."
While GameStop plans to open more Technology Brands stores (i.e. Spring Mobile, Cricket, SimplyMac), the company said it will close about 3 percent of its video game stores "as part of its ongoing sales transfer initiative." This won't be the first time the retailer has shuttered some of its stores.
GameStop will hold a call to discuss these results and answer analyst questions starting at 5 PM EDT. Check back soon for more.
Atlus has quickly become one of the biggest publishers for the Nintendo 3DS, thanks to titles like Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and Citizens of Earth (which we reviewed) released in the last six months and multiple games scheduled to launch very soon, including Etrian Mystery Dungeon. On May 5, we’ll have another game to add to the list, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker. We’ve got a new trailer that shows off one of the most important factors in the strategy RPG: Fate.
In Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker, building and maintaining relationships with your compatriots does more than just move the story along; it can be the difference between triumph or defeat in battle. As you spend time getting to know your allies, their Fate levels will increase and will give you bonuses to use against demons. These start as simple elemental resistances, but from there they grow to give you a significant advantage and opportunity with Joint Skill Cracking. Skill Cracking is how you learn new skills to use in battle, and once your compatriots’ Fate level grows high enough, they’ll be able to unlock skills for you to use from the demons they are targeting, doubling your chance of learning skills from these demons. Taking advantage of the bonuses Fate gives you is one of the greater strategies you’ll need to learn for Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker. The following trailer gives us a glimpse into how Fate is earned and applied in battle:
What draws me the most to the Fate system in Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is that it actually looks enjoyable to do. Too many RPGs rely on mindless grinding to level up and boost stats, but here you are gaining Fate by engaging in conversation that is meaningful to the story and to better knowing your compatriots. It makes the whole process worth it to me, similar to how I felt building relationships in Fire Emblem Awakening.
Along with the new trailer are several screenshots, which you can see below. Anyone out there interested in Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker? What do you think of these new showings?Click to view slideshow.
Source: PR Email from Atlus
The list is quite small for this week’s Nintendo Download. Dot Arcade, LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin, and NAMCO Museum. are among the top games. Sales include Zen Pinball, TNT Racers, Moon Chronicles, and more.
As always, you can check out the full list of all new releases, prices, discounts, and more in the list below. Below that, you will find some screenshots and the official press release from Nintendo of America. Be sure to share your thoughts on this week’s downloads, and let us know if you plan on downloading any of them.
New on the eShop for Wii U:
New on the eShop for 3DS:
New DSiWare on DSi Shop & 3DS eShop:
New themes for Nintendo 3DS (Prices TBA):
Featured eShop Sales and Discounts on 3DS & Wii U:
SCREENSHOTS:Click to view slideshow.
Nintendo News: Nintendo Download Highlights New Digital Content for Nintendo Systems
REDMOND, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:
- Nintendo eShop on Wii U
- Dot Arcade — When a video game is distilled to its simplest form, what sort of fun can be discovered? Dot Arcade answers this question in a set of three 8×8 light dot games, each with a unique game-play focus. Click here to view a trailer for the game.
- Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS
- LEGO Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin — There’s a new threat in Ninjago, and he goes by the name of Ronin. With help from his army of dark samurai, Ronin steals the Ninjas’ memories using an ancient weapon, and it’s up to the player to help them reclaim their powers. Click here to view a trailer for the game.
- Virtual Console on Wii U
- Namco Museum — Namco Museum features five arcade games that will make you reminisce about the old days: Ms. PAC-MAN, Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position and Dig Dug. In this version, you will be able to change the settings to control the number of lives, difficulty level and goals for advancing.
Nintendo eShop Sales:
- Nintendo eShop on Wii U
- Zen Pinball 2’s South Park Pinball table is 50 percent off (reduced from $4.99 to $2.49) until 8:59 a.m. PT on April 2.
- TNT Racers – Nitro Machines Edition is 37 percent off (reduced from $7.99 to $4.99) until 8:59 a.m. PT April 9.
- Rock ‘N Racing Off Road is 16 percent off (reduced from $5.99 to $4.99) until 8:59 a.m. PT on April 12.
- Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS
- Moon Chronicles DLC is 50 percent off until 8:59 a.m. PT on April 2.
- Funfair Party Games, 3D Game Collection and Murder on the Titanic from Joindots are on sale until 8:59 a.m. PT on April 9.
- Snow Moto Racing 3D is 50 percent off (reduced from $7.99 to $3.99) until 8:59 a.m. PT on April 2.
Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS:
- New themes this week include:
- NES: Samus Aran
- NES: Pit
- Etrian Mystery Dungeon — Available March 21
Also new this week:
- LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham — Demo Version (Nintendo eShop on Wii U)
- Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley — DLC (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
- Jet Dog (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
- My Pet School 3D (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
- Titanic Mystery (DSiWare on Nintendo DSi / Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
In addition to video games available at retail stores, Nintendo also offers a variety of content that people can download directly to their systems. Nintendo adds new games weekly to the Nintendo eShop on the Wii U console and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, the Nintendo DSi™ Shop for the Nintendo DSi system and the Wii™ Shop Channel for the Wii console.
The Nintendo eShop is a cash-based service that features a wide variety of content, including new and classic games, applications and demos. Users can add money to their account balances by using a credit card or purchasing a Nintendo eShop Card at a retail store and entering the code from the card. All funds from one card must be loaded in the Nintendo eShop on either Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems, but can be used in either Nintendo eShop if the systems are linked to a single Nintendo Network account.
The Wii Shop Channel offers games and applications and uses Wii Points™, which can be purchased via the Wii Shop Channel. The Nintendo DSi Shop offers games and applications and uses Nintendo DSi Points™, which can be purchased in the Nintendo DSi Shop.
Remember that Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS and Nintendo DSi feature parental controls that let adults manage some of the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo.com/wiiu or http://www.nintendo.com/3ds.
[PR Email from Nintendo of America]
Following a recent deal on PlayStation Plus, you can now get 12 months of Xbox Live Gold on eBay for just $36, which is about as cheap as the $60/year membership ever goes for these days.
Bloodborne might be brand new, but you can buy it and a $20 PSN card for $65 at Target, effectively giving you $15 in free PSN cash. Alternatively, you can pick up a PS4 bundle that includes the system, Bloodborne, and The Last of Us Remastered for $435 on Amazon.
Below you'll find the rest of today's best deals divided by platform:PlayStation 4
GameStop's excellent PS4 trade-in offer, which gives $175 for certain Xbox 360 or PS3 models, is available until April 5. The store's spring sale event is also ongoing.
A standalone PlayStation 4 system is currently $350 on eBay.
The fourth week of Sony's Spring Fever event is now on, and focuses on God of War, with God of War and God of War II's HD remasters costing $6 each for PlayStation Plus members. You can find the full lineup of the PSN games included in Spring Fever here.
Other PS4 game deals:
The Xbox One Master Chief Collection bundle is $350 from the Microsoft Store with a bonus copy of Titanfall.
Walmart continues to offer the Xbox One Master Chief Collection bundle with an extra controller for $350.
Microsoft's new Deals With Gold offers are now live. Xbox Live Gold members can get Forza Horizon 2 or Evolve on Xbox One for $48 each, Threes for $3.50, or XCOM: Enemy Within on Xbox 360 for $10. Find the full list of this week's deals here.
Other Xbox One game deals:
Dell has an Amiibo bundle with the Mario, Zelda, and Pikachu figures for $40 with a $25 gift card.
Green Man Gaming is currently offering discounts on preorders for some of the year's biggest releases. You can get Grand Theft Auto V for $46.79, Batman: Arkham Knight for $43.79, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood for $15.59, Battlefield Hardline for $50, Magicka 2 for $11.24, Offworld Trading Company for $30, and Mortal Kombat X for $43.79. You can find all the discounts in Green Man Gaming's VIP page, for which you can sign up for free.
You can get 20 percent off at Green Man Gaming with the code: JBTBG5-7GVTE8-W2YXRV
Other PC game deals:
Amazon is selling the Wi-Fi version of PlayStation Vita for $170.
Amazon prices are accurate as of publishing, but can fluctuate occasionally throughout the day.
GameSpot's gaming deals posts always highlight the best deals we can find regardless of retailer. We also occasionally use retailer affiliate links, which means that purchasing goods through those links helps support all the great content (including the deals posts) you find for free here on the site.
Halo is returning to PC.
Microsoft has confirmed that a new installment in the sci-fi series, a multiplayer-only title called Halo Online, will be released on computers as a free-to-play game. A beta will be available this spring only in Russia.2007's Halo 3
Halo Online runs on a "highly modified" version of the Halo 3 engine, and Microsoft says it is "optimized for smooth performance" on lower-end computers.
"While there's no campaign mode, Halo Online is set on a secret UNSC space installation called Anvil, where Spartan-IV soldiers train together in war exercises to sharpen their battle skills and test experimental technology," reads a line from Microsoft's announcement.
A closed beta for Halo Online kicks off this spring, and Microsoft hopes to gather feedback from the pre-release period to improve the final game. "We will continuously adjust and modify gameplay, features, and the in-game economy. We're looking forward to getting feedback from gamers living in Russia when Halo Online enters closed beta later this spring," the company explained.
Microsoft went on to confirm that it has no plans to bring Halo Online to Xbox One. And regarding a potential release in North America or Europe, the company didn't rule it out, but made no promises.
"Right now our focus is on learning as much as we can from the closed beta period in Russia," the company said. "Theoretically, any expansion outside of Russia would have to go through region-specific changes to address player expectations."
The game is being developed by Saber Interactive, the studio behind the TimeShift and Inversion franchises. The studio also worked on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Halo Online will be published by Russian MMO company Innova Systems.
The Halo franchise isn't the only blockbuster shooter series that has a version made specifically for an international market. Activision's Call of Duty Online, a free-to-play version of the military series, is now available in China.
From YouTube user Andy Front Films comes a new video (see it below) that shows what Frogger-style endless jumping game Crossy Road would look like from a first-person perspective. In short, it's terrifying from the character's view, although it seems like this could actually work as a real game mode.
Crossy Road launched late last year for mobile devices and is now available for iOS and Android. A new spin on Frogger, Crossy Road challenges players to dodge traffic and more in an attempt to reach the other side of the road. Your adventure usually ends, however, in getting splattered by a car or destroyed by a train.
The free-to-play game offers a variety of characters for purchase, and each has its own special effects.
For more on Crossy Road, check out GameSpot's in-depth interview with the game's Australia-based developer Hipster Whale.
The Kentucky men's basketball team, currently making a run in the NCAA tournament in pursuit of a National Championship and an undefeated season, really loves Super Smash Bros. They enjoy the Nintendo fighting game so much that the latest episode of Kentucky Wildcats TV is dedicated entirely to it.
In the video, they explain how playing Super Smash Bros. relaxes them and helps take their minds of basketball. They're playing the Nintendo 64 version of the game, which was released back in 1999 when some of these guys were probably too young to play it.
They say they play mostly in hotel rooms while on the road as they currently are for the Big Dance.
Popular characters among the Wildcat players include Fox, Pikachu, and Yoshi. The go-to characters for twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison are Mario and Luigi, who are brothers in the Mario universe.
Kentucky won its first two games in this year's NCAA tournament, where they are the No. 1 overall seed. They play again in the round of 16 tomorrow evening against No. 5 West Virginia.
Microsoft's Flight Simulator series may have come to an end, but gamers are keeping the franchise alive with a new mod for Cities: Skylines called "Flight Cimulator." The mod, created by Steam user Ulysius, is available now through Cities: Skylines' Steam Workshop page.
"What is this? A flight simulator inside a city builder? Yes! Follow your dreams!," Ulysius writes.
Players can press CTRL + A to enter flight mode, and then use WASD and mouse controls to fly through the sky. Ulysius cautions that the mod is a work in progress; future updates will introduce building collisions, engine sources, and overall "better simulation."
If the map looks familiar, it's because the Flight Cimulator mod uses the Grand Theft Auto V Los Santos map created by another player earlier this month. For a closer look at the Flight Cimulator mod, check out the image gallery below.
GameSpot's review of Cities: Skylines gave it an 8/10 for its realistic city-building game mechanics based on a sound understanding of zoning. The game sold 250,000 copies sold in its first 24 hours after launch earlier this month, going on to move more than 500,000 copies to date. Cities: Skylines is now publisher Paradox Interactive's fastest-selling game ever.
The eight-week Spring Fever event spotlights "unique" games, with Sony releasing a new PlayStation game every week through April 21.
In addition, Sony has marked down numerous God of War games and DLC. A variety of Spider-Man movies are also on sale this week. All deals are good through March 30, and PlayStation Plus members can save 10 percent.
The full list of Spring Fever deals are listed below. Don't see anything you like? Check back next week (and the three weeks after that) to see even more Spring Fever deals when they're announced.SPOTLIGHT SALE:
|PS Plus Launch Week Price||Regular Price|
(3/24 through 3/30)
|Metal Slug 3|
(PS4 / PS3 / PS Vita)
|Title||Platform||PS Plus Price||Sale Price||Original Price|
|God of War Anniversary Dynamic Theme||PS4||N/A||$1.00||$1.99|
|God of War: Ascension Ultimate Edition||PS3||$8.00||$12.00||$19.99|
|God of War: Ascension Ultimate DLC Bundle||PS3||Free||Free||$19.99|
|God of War: Collection||PS3||$11.99||$17.99||$29.99|
|God of War II HD||PS3||$5.99||$8.99||$14.99|
|God of War HD||PS3||$5.99||$8.99||$14.99|
|God of War: Origins Collection||PS3||$7.99||$11.99||$19.99|
|God of War: Origins Collection Ghost of Sparta||PS3||$5.99||$8.99||$14.99|
|God of War: Origins Collection Chains of Olympus||PS3||$5.99||$8.99||$14.99|
|God of War: Chains of Olympus||PSP / PS Vita||$5.99||$8.99||$14.99|
|God of War: Ghost of Sparta||PSP / PS Vita||$5.99||$8.99||$14.99|
|God of War: Collection||PS Vita||$11.99||$17.99||$29.99|
|Title||SD Original Price||SD Sale Price||HD Original Price||HD Sale Price|
|The Amazing Spider-Man||$9.99||$6.99||$12.99||$8.99|
|The Amazing Spider-Man 2||$8.99||$7.99||$9.99||$9.99|
Why did Nintendo finally announce plans to enter the smartphone market after years of holding out? It wasn't because the company felt "cornered," according to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. The English translation of a Q&A session with analysts from last week's presentation in Japan has been published, and in it, Iwata offers an in-depth explanation for why the company chose to make the dramatic move.
"A variety of media have written that Nintendo is cornered a number of times, but I do not think we were cornered at all," he said. "Needless to say, we are also aware that unless a company can deal with the rapidly changing world, it will face decline. But I would like to emphasize here that our alliance [with DeNA] is not the result of a lack of better options for a cornered company."
As for why Nintendo chose DeNA specifically as a partner for the new mobile venture, Iwata said, as discussions with the company progressed, it became clear that "DeNA knew so many things that Nintendo did not." Partnering with DeNA allows Nintendo to tap into the company's expertise in the mobile field and also develop games more rapidly than it could on its own, he explained.
"This is why I just said that this is not a decision made out of a lack of options," Iwata said. "In fact, Nintendo has received a number of proposals from a variety of companies. Among them, Nintendo has proactively chosen DeNA."
Iwata also responded to one analyst's concern that Nintendo entrance into the smartphone market (the company expects to launch its first mobile game this year) is too late. The executive doesn't agree.
"I think that whether it is late or not will be decided by what we produce in the coming years, and it could rather be described as the best timing," Iwata responded. "My personal view is that the time is ripe as many factors like various encounters with people, the ways our internal discussions have progressed and the ideas we have generated through that process occurred simultaneously. We will do our best to prove that our decision was made at the right time."
Nintendo has not announced any smartphone games so far, but has pledged it won't simply port its console games to smartdevices. The company is also considering a range of business models, including free-to-play, which Iwata actually calls free-to-start.
Nintendo's big move into the smartphone market has been received positively by investors, as shares of the company skyrocketed by more than 30 percent. The company also announced that it had started work on a new system, known internally as the "NX." This system, which Nintendo says it won't start talking about officially until 2016, aims to surprise and innovate.
For more on Nintendo's smartphone plans, be sure to read GameSpot's editor opinion roundup on the subject.
Just as watching a film at the cinema offers a different experience from that of watching at home, playing on a handheld is a different proposition than playing on a television. The fact is, certain approaches fit one form of play better than another. It may sound obvious, but this is a reality of consumption often overlooked by those with power over game design.
Screen size is the primary factor dictating which features do and don't work across handhelds and console-based games. It's this, amid all of its splendid and eventual intrigue that the classic RPG Xenoblade Chronicles 3D has either failed to understand or simply not tackled for fear of altering what made its original incarnation so great. While it remains the remarkable game that it was when it was first released on the Wii in 2011, the reduced screen size Xenoblade Chronicles 3D has been squeezed on to does sour the experience.
The sense of scale generated by the game's imposingly large environments has been retained, as has the wider visual flair and depth of battles. Similarly, character models when viewed up close are surprisingly expressive given the limited colors and lines used to draw them. However, it's the little details that have suffered from the transition from the large to small screen.
Icons indicating the availability of a new quest or the presence of a shopkeeper, for instance, alongside the directional area pointing you to your next objective are far from clear and easy to miss amongst the extensive buffet of other imagery typically filling the screen. The latter can be especially confusing at times, forcing you to slow down your exploration efforts in order to perform constant references of the full map.
Everything feels a little cramped and, as a result, messy. Simple visual cues that should be easily digestible at a glance take too long to figure out, reducing the simplicity of interaction that allowed the Wii original to stretch its wings and present its more complex nuances with precision and clarity.
The New 3DS' 3D effect doesn't help either, further complicating the issue of space by overloading the visual impact. It's most noticeable when trying to identify enemies at a distant that are painted a similar shade to their environment. While the 3D is gorgeous during cut-scenes and moments not requiring much (or any) interaction, it gets in the way when the action picks up. Having to constantly turn it on and off is a minor problem given the New 3DS' positioning of the 3D slider, but it remains a nuisance.
That's New 3DS with a capital 'n' by design, because Xenoblade Chronicles 3DS only works on Nintendo's latest handheld iteration. Yes, if you have an older model you will have to pull out your wallet and part with your cash. It's the first game to require the new model by default and, as such, much is riding on its success--particularly the overriding consumer view of the hardware.
It's a shame, then, that more care hasn't been given to the macro details; if it wasn't for those it would be tempting to award this experience something approaching top marks. In all other areas this is an RPG that delivers the same extraordinary experience it did four years ago. Such was the originality of its ideas back then that today it makes the majority of its younger genre peers look positively archaic by comparison.
The real-time combat system shines especially bright, offering a deceptively easy to learn set of rules that are continually enriched and diversified as you're drawn further into the plot and up the character levels. For instance, attacking from behind can cause extra damage, while attacking from the side can lower physical defense. Later you can chain character-specific moves between all three characters, adding more depth to already intricate combat. By opening the door to new tactical avenues so frequently, and providing a wide range of enemies to test them against, there's rarely an area or period of play in which battles feel stale or repetitive.
Considering the length of the game, some 70 hours or more, this should be considered a towering achievement. It's a shame that the visual restrictions do inhibit some of the combat's appeal in comparison to the Wii edition, but it's worth sticking with it to explore and appreciate the varied action during skirmishes. It's also worth checking out Xenoblade's many side quests, which--thanks to some deep subplots and character exploration--are far more interesting than the run-of-the-mill fetch quests you'd find in lesser RPGs.
Similar time and effort has gone into the narrative, a tale of giant titans and warring colonies that's rich and energetically presented thanks to a skilfully orchestrated English-language localization effort. While the voiceover work is most certainly pointed towards the sillier and more childlike end of the acting spectrum, the charm with which it has been carried out makes it difficult not to enjoy.
The style of acting provides an accurate barometer for the wider experience as whole; Xenoblade Chronicles is so unlike what most other Japanese RPGs have attempted over the past decade or so. Dialogue and character reactions rarely fall foul of the stifling conventional cliches that can plague even the most revered games in this genre, mirroring the degree to which you're pleasantly surprised by the scale of the world and the combat. Xenoblade might have been crammed into a smaller space, but that has certainly not diminished the well-rounded and varied characterization of its cast.
While it's an inferior proposition to its initial release in 2011, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D remains superior to the majority of RPGs. The move to 3DS has harmed the act of playing, but if you can look past the clunky signage and questionable 3D then you'll find a game that remains an amazing high point for the genre, one that'll absorb you right up to its glorious finale.
There's a special launch-week promotion available, too, meaning you can buy the game for $7 instead of $10. This deal is good only for Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus members, however.
Developed by Canadian company Blue Isle Studios, Slender: The Arrival offers an "incredibly dark and sinister atmosphere, a tense and mysterious plot, and one of the most shadowy and fearsome villains the video game world has ever seen."
Here's how Blue Isle sets up the story:
"Lauren is in search of her friend Kate, who has recently become increasingly obsessed with the folklore of Slender Man. Was Kate's disappearance the work of Slender Man? Use Kate's forgotten flashlight to explore abandoned houses, creepy mines, and dark forests to unravel the mystery--all the while being stalked by the menacing presence of Slender Man."
Blue Isle is also rolling out a special promotion for Xbox One and PS4 players. The game feature a hidden audio track that plays randomly as gamers explore the forest. Anyone who hears the track, records it, uploads it to YouTube, and sends the URL to firstname.lastname@example.org will have a chance to win prizes, including a Slender t-shirt.
Slender: The Arrival was developed alongside Eric "Victor Surge" Knudson, who created the fictional "Slender Man" character. Check out some screenshots in the gallery below.
Xbox 360 and Xbox One Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players will be getting a new DLC pack on March 31. In the meantime, Activision released a trailer running through four new maps and the next chapter of the Exo Zombies story.
Each of the new maps has a unique theme and stage hazard to spruce things up. Perplex, for example, is a posh, modern apartment complex with modules that move about, changing the landscape as you play. Another map, Climate, has toxic water that can instantly kill unsuspecting players. Also making an appearance is the the OHM-Werewolf, a 2-1 light machinegun/shotgun combo.
Fans of the Exo Zombies game mode will also get their next set of missions with actors John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan, and John Bernthal reprising their roles as they try to escape an encroaching zombie hoard.
The Ascendance DLC is the second in a set of four planned expansions. It will release for Xbox platforms first thanks to a timed exclusivity deal with Microsoft. Players that paid $50 for the Advanced Warfare season pass can download it on release for no additional charge, or it can be purchased separately for $14.99.
While you might normally think of a project titled TIE Fighter as a part of the excellent Star Wars space combat game series, but it's also the name of the exceptional fan film in the YouTube video above.
The film's art and animation is the work of one man, Paul Johnson, who created this side story "over 4 years' worth of weekends," according to the video's description. But he got some help on the music front from "the living guitar solo Zak Rahman and sound design by up and coming audio technician Joseph Leyva."
You can see a poster for the film from Johnson's DeviantArt page below, which draws inspirations from "those really classy oil/acrylic-painted movie posters by folks like Drew Struzan."
Despite the work and the amazing end product, Johnson isn't asking for money. He writes, "Don't support me on Patreon, because I don't have one! And don't donate to my Kickstarter, because I don't have one of those either. Instead, if you enjoyed this, give someone at your workplace, uni, school or whatever a random bar of chocolate or can or Coke or something. Seriously, it'll probably make their day. That would totally make my day."
If the game stoked your nostalgia for inside-the-cockpit action, the online storefront GOG.com released the original Star Wars TIE Fighter and X-Wing games last year. And we're expecting to hear more information on Star Wars Battlefront next month.