Monday, Mar 2
Net Articles Summary
You ain't never seen a Beat Blaster like this before
Harmonix, in case you missed their $844,000 Kickstarter project, is working on a reboot of the classic PlayStation 2 title Amplitude. In an era where rhythm games were dominated by odd Japanese localizations featuring dance competitions, rapping dogs and jamming lambs, Amplitude and its predecessor Frequency put the west on the map. The Harmonix that created Guitar Hero would never have existed without Amplitude.
Which is why it's so exciting to see Harmonix going back to its roots and rebooting the game. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Today the all-things-music-and-video-games developer released the first gameplay trailer for their hardcore rhythm title. We get to see the ship-shaped Beat Blaster in motion, hammering out rhythms on tracks representing individual instruments as bouncing between as each one completes.
It's not just a blast to the past, however. The trailer, and a corresponding developer blog, go into detail on an all-new game mode in Amplitude. Introducing the Team Play mode, where multiple players can operate their own Beat Blasters and hammer out tracks cooperatively or competitively. It looks like four players will be the maximum, though that's not official, but it can be played either 3v1 or 2v2... or hopefully 4v0, for casuals like myself.
Amplitude is planned for release on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. No release window has yet been revealed, but the end of the trailer sports the text, "Coming Soon." Hopefully that means Harmonix will drop it on us via PlayStation Plus like, tomorrow or something.
Plague Knight is kindly providing Shovel Knight with a well-needed vacation
Yacht Club Games may be hard at work on porting Shovel Knight to PlayStation platforms (PS4, PS3 and Vita on April 21), but they've also got something special up their aft's. Yacht pun there. Ahem. Introducing the "Plague of Shadows" DLC! For the grand price of free, Shovel Knight's DLC will provide a new story as Plague Knight looks to take on the Order of No Quarter and maybe pursues romance at the same time.
Yes, Plague of Shadows will be played entirely with Plague Knight. No longer will players be in control of the gallant Shovel Knight, instead pushing the misunderstood and likely malevolent Plague Knight into the spotlight. Using explosives, bomb jumps and alchemy, Plague Knight will fight through "brand new areas," "new paths through classic areas," and it wouldn't be great DLC without "new bosses" as well.
Plague Knight will also feature his own unique system of upgrades through crafting recipes. It wouldn't make sense to have him just buy armor like Shovel Knight could do. Plague Knight trusts his mask and cowl, along with his various potions. This Alchemy System will require a variety of recipes and reagents to utilize, but I'm sure Yacht Club will make the power-ups as plentiful as in the base game.
Shovel Knight is currently available on PC, Wii U and 3DS, with plans to launch on PS4, PS3 and PS Vita on April 21. The Plague of Shadows DLC has no current release date, but keep in mind that it will be absolutely free to all players when it does launch. A playable demo of the DLC will be available at PAX East, and hopefully a release date too!
Prepare yourselves, as Blizzard today announced the upcoming addition of a whole new economy to World of Warcraft. Soon, players will be able to trade gold for subscription time by way of the WoW Token.
Scheduled to arrive "in an upcoming patch," this new WoW Token will be added to the in-game shop as a real-money item. Once purchased, the Token can then be sold on the auction house for gold. If you're the buyer in this case, the virtual Token will become soulbound once picked up from the auction house and can be redeemed for 30 days of game time. MMO economies in action.
Blizzard did note in an extensive FAQ that the Tokens can only be sold once, hence the whole soulbound on pick-up thing. We don't currently know how much the Token will be priced at, but its in-game gold value will vary based on supply and demand.
Aside from offering the playerbase a free alternative for subscription fees, Blizzard also hopes the the WoW Token will "lead to fewer account compromises and a better game experience overall." This move isn't exactly new as far as MMOs go, with other major online games like EVE Online and Guild Wars 2 adopting similar economies to make money and curb third-party gold sellers.
So a thief, a wizard, and a knight walk into a bar...
Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power was announced today by indie developer Frozenbyte, with little more than some gorgeous screenshots and a gameplay-heavy announcement trailer. Consider that enough to get us excited for this cooperative action-puzzle game, however, along with its 2015 release window.
The thief, wizard, and knight will be returning for another round of adventures through one of the most 2D environments we've seen since Trine 2. No doubt the artifacts they're looking for or otherwise involved with come in a trio as well, but that's just my guess.
Those of us who have been fans of the series for a while now no doubt remember all the hilarious moments of passive aggression -- namely whenever the wizard player decides to drop a friend to their deaths. Besides, what's co-op without a few chances to completely screw your teammates over?
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3D Realms debuts isometric Bombshell gameplay, Shelly Harrison fights the Kyrr to save the President
Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison has received a 2.0 upgrade since we last saw her
When last we saw Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison she had half of a shaved head and a metallic tube top to match her random leather straps and short shorts. Not exactly the outfit you'd expect from a bomb technician turned mercenary. Today 3D Realms, a branch of Interceptor Entertainment, debuted an upgraded and updated version of Bombshell via gameplay trailer. I mean that as both Bombshell the game and Shelly are much different than last we saw.
The isometric action game, which is also apparently an RPG now, has quite clearly come a long way since its announcement. The action and gunplay is much more polished, seeing our protagonist dash and smash enemies with her bionic arm, bursting them into bloody pulp. Shelly herself is sporting quite a bit more armor, as well as a three-barrel revolver she's apparently nicknamed "Loverboy."
Shelly also received a bit of back-story going into the the Bombshell game itself. Following Shelly being reconstructed by alien technology following a bomb disarming gone wrong, she join a private mercenary group and is given a mission. Her mission? To save the president from aliens. Praise Duke, it couldn't be any more 3D Realms if it tried. Shelly will go face to face with the evil Kyrr alien race and Jadus Heskel, a psychotic scientist evolving the Kyrr into an even more destructive force.
Bombshell's gameplay, beyond looking sharper in every way, still looks about as expected. It's an isometric action game. There's omni-directional shooting and enemies pouring out of the woodwork. 3D Realms seems to know what they're doing in terms of using the camera to create highly cinematic framing of each environment. Plus, there's just plenty of cinematics in general as well.
It's ridiculous, it's over the top, it's a bit exasperating -- it's 3D Realms. Bombshell's looking better than ever and it's planned for release on PC and consoles later this year.
Taiwanese smartphone and tablet developer HTC has just announced that the company is developing a virtual reality headset named Vive. Made in partnership with Valve, the Vive will run on SteamVR and a consumer version of the headset is planned for release in late 2015. A developer edition of the headset is planned to be made available this spring. HTC is positioning the Vive as a high-end PC VR headset intended for taking "virtual worlds off your computer screen and into your home."
The Vive's specifications are considerably impressive given the current sparse market of headsets released as of yet. Vive will feature two screens, one for each eye and each sporting 1200 x 1080 resolution updating at 90 frames-per-second. Early reports claim the headset's field of view will be 110 degrees, which is a step up from Oculus' 100 degrees on its currently available Rift DK2 developer kit. More precise details, like pixel density or whether HTC is using a specific phone screen for the Vive, are as yet uncertain.
Vive isn't just settling for improving on specifications from a competitor's development kit, however. They've also revealed some very interesting bells and whistles for the device. Rather than including their own audio device, the Vive features an audio jack for users to hook up their own headphones or audio solution. Also included in the headset are a gyrosensor, accelerometer and laser position sensor to provide accurate head tracking which HTC says is accurate to 1/10 of a degree.
Two more very cool things were also revealed about the Vive. It will feature the ability, when paired with what HTC are calling Steam VR Bases, to offer full body tracking in spaces of up to 15 x 15 feet. Pair this with a controller which will be bundled with the Vive on release, a controller which will track the user's individual hands as they move, and HTC is quite clearly aiming at impressing with early "holo-deck" technology at launch.
Beyond the early Vive specifications, features and peripherals, much is still under wraps. Expect a ton of early impressions and more specific details to come out of GDC this week, where the Vive is being shown to the press. For example, an HTC representative has already said they're "co-operating with Half-Life" in a BBC interview. Whatever that means, we may know sooner than later, as Valve is hosting a rather mysterious GDC panel on March 3 starting at 3:00 PM. 3/3, 3:00. Terrifying.
Diagram of the Vive's inner mask.
Just to offer one last bit of perspective on the Vive, but it seems like HTC and Valve are aiming to one-up the Oculus Rift in every way they can before Oculus can officially announce their consumer model of the headset. For now all we can compare the Vive to is the Rift's second development kit, released in 2014. The Vive beats the DK2 on paper, with jumps in resolution, field-of-view and so on. However, early details and rumors all say that the Oculus Rift consumer release will be a step beyond even the Vive's specifications. For many consumers, however, the specifications won't matter as much as price and release date. For now, Vive can at least say they have a product and a release date. Oculus may have just lost their advantage in the upcoming VR wars simply by forgoing GDC.
The other point I wanted to touch on is the extent of Valve's relationship with HTC. At this point it's unclear just how significant the relationship between HTC and Valve is in the creation of the Vive. There's the potential that Valve is simply providing HTC with their SteamVR middle-ware, something they may be doing to many different VR headset providers. Hopefully more details on the partnership will come out soon. There's definitely the possibility that the Vive is just the first VR headset in a run of third-party headsets, similar to how Valve is running their Steam Machine program.
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Royalty agreement remains for commercial game releases
Epic Games transitions the business model behind Unreal Engine 4 again, this time going from subscription-based to outright free-to-download for just about anybody. That means there's no longer any fee to grab one of the most popular development toolsets in the gaming industry, and you don't even need to be in gaming. Future updates are also free, but the royalty agreement with Epic Games remains in effect for game software.
That means Epic Games is still entitled to 5 percent of gross revenue per quarter from any game released commercially and produced using UE4 (after the first $3,000 USD). This royalty does not apply to flim, contracting or consulting projects.
Schools and universities (and their students) have enjoyed free access to Unreal Engine 4 since last September. Developers who have already paid for UE4 subscriptions will receive a prorated refund for their last month, plus $30 worth of credit redeemable in the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
So I don't know about you guys, but some of us totally play Mortal Kombat X for the story. Recognizing this, the NetherRealm devs put together a story-focused trailer touching upon the upcoming fighter's plotline. Something about a magical talisman and lots of killing?
Going by the trailer, we can assume every character plays some part in the story, with Cassandra being somewhat of a leading woman. The fighters all seem to be driven by this search of a magical (and dangerous) talisman, which then leads to gratuitous violence and many painful Fatalities. Bless you, Mortal Kombat, for being the outlet many of us need.
Mortal Kombat X will be out for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC come April 14. Remember that the iconic Goro will be available at launch only to early adopters who sneak in a pre-order.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin is about a month away now, and From Software wants everyone to meet The Forlorn, a new NPC invader who has a taste for player blood. In a recent gameplay video, we can see the NPC and his daunting health bar in action.
A player is seen confronting several enemies, when the game informs him that his world has been invaded by a dark spirit, the Forlorn. That's when a large figure wielding a two-handed greatsword pops through the trees, joining the existing mobs in harassing our undoubtedly terrified player character. We can only assume that more hilarious mishaps would happen were the character in the video just your average Dark Souls fan, rather than someone at From Software demoing the content.
The visually-updated Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC for 64 bit OS systems. A last-gen version will also be released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 -- beyond just the recent game update -- as well as digitally for 32 bit OS PCs.
Friday, Feb 27
Net Articles Summary
It's for everyone, so long as you upgrade your PC to Windows 10
Fables Legends has gone through a transition carried out by many multiplayer-only titles these days. Fables Legends is now a free-to-play title, as in free-to-download and likely more expensive than a normal to get the full experience. Lionhead insists the change is in order to make their game accessible to a larger amount of players. They also insist that they want to ensure all gameplay content is accessible to all players. On paper it appears true, though folk will have to work for it.
Let's first take a look at what's free in the strictest sense of the word. Players will be able to download Fable Legends on both PC and Xbox One for no cost. From there, Lionhead says that all story, including quests added at launch and post, will be free for all players. That's it for completely free. Everything else is either bought with either premium or in-game currency, or strictly premium.
Content can then split into two different categories -- Hero and Villain content. No Heroes will be "free," though there will be a selection of them available on rotation so players can have something to play until they're able to pick one up for themselves. All progress unlocked on a Hero while they freely available will carry over until they're next available, or until they've been unlocked. Heroes will be purchasable with both the in-game currency and the premium currency.
Villain content is still a big ambiguously detailed. I believe Lionhead is saying in their press release that Villains will have access to a quest's wildlife for free and by content I mean minions and traps. If a Villain wants to use content as they please, they'll have to unlock it with either in-game or premium currency. That goes for both creatures and traps.
The only wholly premium content announced so far are outfit customizations for Heroes. Think of them as League of Legends skins. Alternatively, Lionhead says that other customizations, from outfits to different face variations, can be unlocked through in-game currency as well.
Was Fable Legends intended to be a free-to-play game from the very start? It's difficult to tell at this point, though I think going forward it's safe to say that any game claiming to be a multiplayer-focused title is either free-to-play or has some eye-gouging microtransactions. Unless you're Nintendo, that is, and DLC and free-to-play is a strange new future that seems different and uncomfortable.
Fable Legends is planned for release in 2015 for Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One -- for free. Details on how the in-game currency will be earned will be coming at a later date. Scientists expect it to be just slow enough that you'll be pushed towards buying the premium currency out of frustration. Science.
- Nintendo delays The Legend of Zelda Wii U out of 2015 
- League of Legends to be offered through Windows 10 store thanks to Microsoft-Tencent partnership 
- Xbox One April System Update to add Voice Messaging and Party Chat support servers 
- PlayStation 4 update 2.50 adds long-awaited Suspend/Resume feature, available now 
- Fear ye, Bloodborne hunters, a progress-barring bug looms while Sony works on quashing it 
- April's doubled Games With Gold adds Pool Nation FX and Child of Light to Xbox One libraries 
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel DLC Claptastic Voyage raises cap to 70, available March 24 
- Grand Theft Auto V PC looks as gorgeous as ever in new wave of screenshots