Blizzard has released a quartet of videos showing off full matches from their upcoming FPS, Overwatch. This will be the company's first new property since they launched Starcraft in 1998, so it's immediately a big deal. Overwatch will be a free-to-play shooter that's a cross between Team Fortress and a MOBA, with colorful visuals, fast gameplay, and a large roster of heroes. In the embedded video you see a full match from the perspective of Mercy, a healer with angel wings. Hit the link below to see more characters, each on a different stage.
Blizzard is already swimming in money from Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo, but the recent launches of Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm has shown the company capable of a nimbleness not seen in recent years. Overwatch is a part of that change, taking much of it's setting from the canceled MMO Titan, but becoming it's own game in relatively short order (at least compared to the time scales Blizzard used to operate on).
I could snark that EA will shockingly be releasing a new Need For Speed this fall, but there actually is a little surprise here. 2014 was the first time since 2002 that a new NFS wasn't on store shelves, as even EA seemed to realize the franchise needed a re-think.
Unfortunately, based on the press release, that realization didn't penetrate. The press release is a plethora of vague marketing-speak that doesn't indicate anything new, even though they use the word "reboot" multiple times. "[D]eep customisation", "authentic urban car culture," "open world" and an "immersive narrative." All of these could be said to describe every Need for Speed of the last decade. That's not a reboot, it's an annual sequel which skipped a year.
NFS is in an odd place. It's a very well known brand, but one which lacks a distinct identity. EA tries to place it on the spectrum somewhere between 'hardcore racing sim' and 'lets do fun, crazy crap', but never quite finding the sweet spot. They can make iterative improvements to the game all day long, but until they find something to make it stand out from the crowd, it's not going to be burning up the NPD charts.
Rockstar Games and their parent Take-Two Interactive are suing the BBC over their docudrama chronicling the rise of the series and their conflict with censorious lawyer Jack Thompson.
The currently in-production drama is titled Game Changer, and was set to air this fall as part of a greater BBC initiative of "programmes focused on the importance of coding." Rockstar founder Sam Houser will be played by Daniel Radcliffe, while Jack Thompson will be portrayed by Bill Paxton.
The development of the GTA franchise - one of the most valuable properties in the industry - is really quite fascinating, and Game Changer sounds like an interesting project. Rockstar's statement to IGN indicates that they're simply not cooperating with the production, and suing to stop the use of their IP in the production.
Developer Techland has put their fantasy-horror FPS Hellraid on the shelf for retooling. I will not repeat the awful pun I used in the headline.
Techland has been around since 2000, mostly cranking out forgettable racers, but they struck gold with 2011's Dead Island. Soon afterwards they announced Project Hell - which would become Hellraid - as basically Dead Island with skeletons and castles instead of zombies and a tropical resort. But somewhere along the way they were convinced to go back to zombie-land, and developed Dying Light for publisher Warner Bros (the Dead Island IP is owned by original publisher Deep Silver). I, frankly, had forgotten all about Hellraid in recent years, and the success of Dying Light seems to have shown Techalnd where their future lies. They can shift the bulk of their staff to working on new Dying Light content, be it DLC or a sequel, while continuing to try and come up with a workable gameplan for Hellraid.
Weíre not at all doing anything illegal at the following link.
It might be because of the games coming out or just me doing research as of late, but it really feels like PC upgrading is in the air for us. James just upgraded to a 970 while Matt and myself have been looking into doing upgrades on our machine. Well, Iím just looking at graphics cards while Matt seems to be building a dream machine. Since the show ended heís scaled back a bit on his build, but has assured us heíll keep us informed on the progress of what heís going to go with.
One of those games coming out that has given some of us this upgrade bug is Witcher 3 and almost a month later both Batman Arkham Knight and the expansion for FF14. But when we look beyond that, we donít see much else on the horizon. I think we normally have some idea of some holiday releases and we do in the sense of the tried and true fall schedule (CoD, AC, etc), but nothing that stands out. We hope E3 might change things but we arenít too confident thatíll happen. Hereís hoping however.
A lot of people seemed a bit disappointed by Civilization: Beyond Earth when it launched last year. I was not among that group. While I thought it could be better, it gave me the Civ fix I was craving, with enough new mechanics to keep me hooked. But a lot of other fans seemed to be "waiting for the expansion." Their wait will be over in the fall.
Firaxis today announced Civ Beyond Earth: Rising Tide, an expansion with a partial focus on the seas. One of the major additions is the ability to construct floating cities, and better exploit the resources of the sea. Other additions include
- 4 new factions
- Hybrid unit upgrades for investing in multiple affinities
- New planet types: volcanic and glacial
- Some alien artifacts can be combined into more powerful forms
- Revamped diplomacy system
Some of these seem really nice, but none jump out at me as major changes. I absolutely understand the reticence other fans had with the game, and their desire to wait for the inevitable GOTY edition.
Civ Beyond Earth: Rising Tide will be released this fall for $29.99.
The past few months of public chaos at Konami seems to point to an impending change in focus for the company. As with many other publishers, they see the future is in your hands. Literally.
Gaming has spread to a number of platforms, but at the end of the day, the platform that is always closest to us, is mobile. Mobile is where the future of gaming lies.
Right now Konami only has one title scheduled for release this year - Metal Gear Solid V - although a new installment of their Pro Evo Soccer series isn't out of the question. So the transition has already begun.
What does this mean? I cannot see them withdrawing Metal Gear from the console/PC market completely. The property makes too much money on those platforms. But that doesn't mean they can't do mobile games in that universe too. But they could be positioning their other franchises for a dedicated future on mobile devices.
I think this also means - at least for now - that Konami is not looking to sell off their gaming unit or IPs, as we had previously speculated was a possibility.
I really do try and not be the stereotypical jaded, sarcastic gamer. But when a big publisher makes multiple announcements of an announcement, all to reveal the annual installment of a game whose central conceit was leaked six months ago.
So, being a bit less negative, the new Assassins' Creed will be dubbed Syndicate, and will be set in Victorian London. There will be a pair of playable characters - siblings Jacob and Evie - who were raised as Assassins and come to London in 1868. The devs say this will be the first installment of the series to move to the modern era, and with it comes more modern tech, including a grapple line, trains and carriages.
Weíre taking turns being stealthy at the following link.
Stealth games. Some games get it right and some get it wrong. I think one that we universally agree gets it right (almost to perfection) is Mark Of The Ninja. So when Klei, the company who made Mark Of The Ninja, tell us they have another stealth game on the way, our ears, eyes, and whatever else perk up with interest. Invisible Inc. doesnít scratch the itch left by Mark Of The Ninja, but it fills the hole plenty of other stealth titles just couldn't do. Honestly, I donít think Iíve played a stealth game where I had to think as much as I did playing Invisible Inc.
In this episode we talk with James Lantz from Klei Entertainment about Invisible Inc. and a short bit about Mark Of The Ninja 2. Plus, R.J. gives us a rundown on Jason from Mortal Kombat X and Matt tells us of his time with the new expansion for Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Whatever Kickstarter* was meant to be at one time, it's clearly now a way for beloved Japanese game creators to return to the genres and themes which made them famous, absent the controlling publishers. This time it's Koji Igarashi (aka IGA), creator of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, returning to the genre he calls "IGAvania" with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
You are Miriam, an orphan scarred by an alchemist curse which slowly crystallizes your skin. You must battle your way through a demon-filled castle summoned by Gebel, your old friend whose body has become more crystal than flesh.
Miriam even wields a whip in some of the concept art, so if you've played Symphony you know what to expect.
The game is being developed in conjunction with Inti Creates - who are also working on Mighty No 9 - and an all-star team of Japanese devs. This means the game is already largely funded, hence the Kickstarter's very modest goal of $400K. The game is slated for release on the XB1, PS4 and PC, with a tentative release date of March 2017.
* CoG policy is to not do news posts on projects that haven't yet been funded. We're making an exception here, since after only 6 hours it has surpassed 80% of their goal. We also want to remind everyone that any Kickstarter pledge is a donation, and not truly a pre-order, and non-delivery of the agreed upon rewards is always a possibility.
I have to give it to new indie dev Studio Wildcard, they're not lacking in ambition. Their first title - Ark: Survival Evolved takes a ton of different things and throws them into a pretty, Unreal Engine 4-powered sandbox. Survival and crafting. An open world. RPG elements. PvP. Oh, and Dinosaurs. And what appears to be a dragon. I know some people have been pining for a open world survival game where you do something other than battle zombies. I think this qualifies. Here's how the dev describes the game.
ARK: Survival Evolved takes on the survival genre with a unique blend of emergent multiplayer cooperation and competition. Players awake naked and starving on the beach of a mysterious island among a herd of other confused humans. On ARK, they must then hunt, harvest, craft, research technology, and build shelters to protect against scorching days, freezing nights, volatile weather systems, dangerous wildlife, and potential enemies.
Use cunning strategy and tactics to tame and ride the many dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the dynamic, persistent ecosystems across land, sea, air, and even underground. Build your characterís strengths and gain items, skills, and pet creatures using in-depth role-playing systems. Start a tribe with hundreds of other players to survive and dominate competing tribes...and ultimately discover the ARKís true purpose.
So it's ambitious as hell. But from a new developer with little track record on which to judge them. On the other hand, it lets you tame and ride dinosaurs while building your own fortress.
Ark: Survival Evolved (free advice to the dev: drop the subtitle!) will eventually be released for the XB1 and PS4, but it will hit the PC via Steam Early Access on June 2 (price still TBD).
We're still four months out from the launch of Lego Dimensions, and thanks to some leaks we're learning about the first wave of add-ons for the game.
A leaked pdf shows what appears to be the first wave of post-release figures. The wave includes The Simpsons, Doctor Who, Scooby Doo, Portal (Lego Companion Cube!) and Jurassic World. Sets available at launch include Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, Ninjago, Lego Movie, Back to the Future and The Wizard of Oz. You can assume that pretty much any property not already tied into another figurine-based game (Nintendo, Marvel, Star Wars & Disney) has a chance of ending up in Lego Dimensions eventually. Hopefully how far WB and Lego go down that rabbit hole depends on the game's performance at retail.
I've done a couple of op/eds in the past touching on the death of the movie tie-in game. For the most part I think that's a good thing, partly because most tie-in games stunk, and partly because publishers (and IP owners) realized games are better when they don't have to hew closely to a movie. But there are casualties of this change. We haven't had a console Avengers game in a very long time (excepting Lego games and Disney Infinity), and there is so much potential in a big budget Avengers game.
So lets hear it. What movie/story/character/property would you turn into game, and what sort of game would it be? A Daredevil game that plays like Assassins' Creed? Battlestar Galactica turned into a Telltale-esque adventure game?
In a story which screams "why didn't this happen sooner," Nintendo has signed a deal to bring their characters and concepts to Universal Studios theme parks.
The announcement didn't say what sorts of attractions the collaboration would produce, but the most obvious one would be some sort of real live Mario Kart. Maybe digital power-ups which cause real karts to spin out, or stop, or slow down. Who among us wouldn't want to play that? I'd wager we could come up with a ton of ideas for attractions based on Zelda, Metroid and Pokemon.
One note of caution: it took five years from the announcement of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the actual attraction to open, so don't plan your summer vacation expecting to meet characters in Tanooki suits this year. Universal currently operates parks in Florida, California, Singapore and Japan.
Oculus today announced that the consumer version of their Rift VR headset would ship in the first quarter of 2016. It had been widely expected - although never confirmed - that the headset would be available this holiday season, so this could be considered a delay.
A developer version of the Rift is already available for $350, and it's expected that the consumer version will be similarly priced. Oculus didn't give any details on the hardware specs of the consumer headset, with a separate announcement for those coming next week.
I somehow completely missed that Bethesda is dropping Wolfenstein: The Old Blood today. This is a standalone expansion for last year's Wolfenstein The New Order, set for release digitally on the current gen consoles for $19.99. It's a prequel to The New Order, set in the actual Castle Wolfenstein in 1946, where you play as a younger, pre-coma BJ Blazkowicz as he kicks Nazi ass.
We made an important announcement at the following link.
So I want to tell you about this weeks episode. Well, I want to bring up two things about this weeks episode. First, we had a great chat with Gareth Coker who did the music for Ori & The Blind Forest. Weíll never turn down talking to video game music composers, regardless of having played the game or not (we havenít). In fact, all the music in this episode is from Ori & The Blind Forest. We hope you enjoy it (seems a lot of you did).
Secondly, we finally launched our Patreon page. Thereís a post at our site weíd like you to read that explains a lot of things about this whole Patreon thing and even more of an explanation directly at our page. I donít need to rehash all the reasons and go into it again. Itís all there for you to read, but what I will say is that even though we were asked to make some way people could give back to the show, it still surprised me, personally, to see that take place. And so quickly after we launched. It can honestly never be said enough, but, as always...thanks for listening.
One camp was enthused by the move, believing that allowing mod makers to profit off of their creations would produce a better class of mod. Another camp saw this as another example of the creeping cost of gaming, in which content you would previously get for free is now locked behind a paywall. To the surprise of few (at least few outside of Valve HQ) the discussions went from 'heated' to 'thermonuclear' very quickly.
Eventually the controversy got so heated that all parties involved agreed to pull the plug on the system, and anyone who bought mod content would be refunded. The paid modding era was over, for now.
Let me say up front that I'm all in favor of paid mods. No one is required to charge for their mods, and no one is forced to buy them. But the move from free to paid also brings with it a ton of legal baggage. While modding was a purely enthusiast pastime, you had a lot of sharing of content from one mod to another. This could be controversial even in the best of situations, but once you throw money into the mix, you get a whole new ballgame, and this caused problems. Mods which were quickly put up for sale were pulled from the store after evidence was produced that much of the content was pulled from other mods. Mods which clearly included copywritten or trademarked content (eg, a Witcher mod for Skyrim) were similarly put on sale and later pulled.
Ultimately, all of these issues will be resolved, because it's in the interest of all parties involved to do so. A mod marketplace gives Valve yet another way to get money out of the PC gaming community, and publishers will sign on to get their piece of the pie, too. But the mod community has to do a better job of documenting the creators and contributors of all mods - free or not - going forward. No one wants to spend a hundred hours lovingly crafting a mod for their favorite game, only to see someone else co-op their work without so much as a thank you. But I think a system in which creators can get paid for their work will be a boon to the industry, both the consumers and the publishers.
A bundle of free multiplayer DLC for Dragon Age Inquisition will be released this coming Tuesday. The 'Dragonslayer' addition lets you battle dragons for the first time in multiplayer. It also adds a new map and trio of new agents to the MP mode: the Avvar warrior Skywatcher, Isabela from DA2, and Zither the Virtuoso (who was teased as an April Fools joke).
So...is the multiplayer any good? I tried a match the week the game came out, but I haven't returned. I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 MP quite a lot, is it similar?