Tuesday, Apr 28
Another Halo 5: Guardians teaser came out today in the form of Red Team, the final piece in 343 Industries' latest "Hunt the Truth" puzzle. Following yesterday's Blue Team reveal, featuring Master Chief and his squad, today we get a closer look at Locke's Red Team.
A few days ago, Microsoft and 343i released an incomplete wallpaper of Master Chief and Locke facing one another. The sleuths over at Reddit were quick to piece at least part of the image together, thus revealing Master Chief's Blue Team: John-117, Kelly-087, Linda-058, and Frederic-104.
Dedicated Halo fans might recognize the names from several novels, as well as the Forward Unto Dawn live-action series. Their rivals in Halo 5 will be Red Team (also known as Fireteam Crimson) lead by Spartan Locke, who appears to be hunting Chief for unclear reasons. Both squads complete the wallpaper.
Crimson has also been mentioned in expanded universe material, though right now it's unclear whether the team members previously serving under Locke will be returning. Note the difference in their armor, as well.
Halo 5: Guardians will be out for Xbox One on October 27.
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Explosions on motorcycles! Explosions on jets! Explosions in helicopters!
What does everyone want from Just Cause 3? Like, really, really want? Because everyone can say they'd love an improved story and more complex gameplay systems to added better depth to the overall experience, but is that what they really want? I have a feeling that Avalanche Studios gets what fans really need from Just Cause 3. I'm talking about action -- bigger, flashier, more ridiculous action than ever before. Check out today's gameplay debut trailer, all the proof fans need.
How peaceful the trailer begins, our hero Rico Rodriquez flying gently through the sky with a beautiful skyscape behind him. It' rather serene, and portrays a type of game that's more aware of atmosphere than Just Cause 2 ever hinted at. Boom, boom, boom, Rico takes over a jet fighter mid-air, and queue the John Woo montage of our hero positively blowing the hell out of the island of Medici.
Mini-guns, attack helicopters, machine guns and so many explosions. Oh yes, Avalanche knows exactly what they're doing. They're creating an action-movie playground with bigger, flashier and more ridiculous action than Just Cause 2. And man, they're making it look better than ever along the way. You guys saw that sunflower field, right? Them were some pretty sunflowers.
Just Cause 3 is planned for release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One later this year.
Warner Bros. new trend of offering $99.99 games which can be bought with less content at $59.99 continues today, as the Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass and Premium Edition were announced today. While we know the base price of Batman: Arkham Knight as $59.99, the base price of the Season Pass as $39.99, and the Premium Edition's price being $99.99 which bundles the two together, little else was revealed about the game's post-launch DLC.
And yes, technically that pricing means the Premium Edition costs a penny more than the game and Season Pass separately.
The Season Pass for Batman: Arkham Knight, as expected, includes content. Batman content, specifically. Without getting into specifics, here's what Warner Bros. was willing to say would come in the Season Pass:
"The Batman: Arkham Knight Season Pass will deliver regular new content for six months post-launch including new story missions, additional super-villains invading Gotham City, legendary Batmobile skins, advanced challenge maps, alternative character skins, and new drivable race tracks."
Basically, there's almost no purpose to this news piece. Everyone could have assumed Batman: Arkham Knight, being a Warner Bros.-published game, would have a Season Pass. Still, I think there's an important point to be made here. This isn't about announcing Season Pass content anymore. This is Warner Bros. standardizing a $99.99 price point for a full game, but also offering a less complete version for cheaper. We know that this is even Warner Bros. intent, because 12 months from now, they'll offer this whole package in a single box for standard retail pricing. That's the Game of the Year Edition so many more gamers are waiting for from Warner Bros. these days.
Without delving further on the subject, that's an article on its own, let's clarify that this isn't just Warner Bros. status quo anymore. There isn't a multi-platform release these days that doesn't have a post-launch Season Pass, often announced months before the game's actual launch. It's just that Warner Bros., with Mortal Kombat, Evolve and now Batman, seem so disappointingly efficient at it. It is what it is.
Batman: Arkham Knight will be available starting June 23 on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game and the Premium Edition are, as expected, now available for pre-order.
Monday, Apr 27
Net Articles Summary
Company says they still think the feature can be useful
Valve has announced that it will be removing paid mods from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim workshop, less than a week after going live. This controversial addition to Steam initially introduced a payment feature that allowed content creators to sell their mods through Valve's platform with Bethesda's permission. Only 25 percent of the profits would go to the modders, however, and the Internet effectively exploded over the course of several hours.
The fallout resulted in Steam moderators closing threads to commentary, which then pushed angry PC gamers to voice their rage on Nexus and Reddit instead. Things got so out of hand that Valve CEO Gabe Newell took to Reddit over the weekend as a futile form of damage control.
That brings us to today, after a weekend full of drama, with big-name modders like Chesko offering their two cents. An announcement from Valve confirmed the company's plans to discontinue paid mods, and anyone who bought one of the 19 mods through the Skyrim workshop will be given refunds.
Valve's official statement does bring up the possibility of paid mods returning in some form or another in the future. The company claims that their experiment with paid mods was meant only to improve the PC gaming scene, so it's not a totally lost cause.
We're going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we'll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree.
We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing. We've been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different.
To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.
But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim's workshop. We understand our own game's communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here.
Now that you've backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we'll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.
Go figure, just when we were starting to see editorials claiming devil's advocate in their defense of the payment feature.
Switch between Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman
Rocksteady Studios premiered a new trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight today, titled "All Who Follow You." Along with the return of villains like Two-Face and Scarecrow, the video also gives a glimpse at a new feature that developers are calling "Dual Play."
Players will be able to switch between Batman and his allies Nightwing, Robin, and Catwoman with the Dual Play feature. This allows Gotham's heroes to execute tag-team style combinations in the game's FreeFlow combat system. Azrael was also spotted in the trailer, but he wasn't shown actually teaming up with the Dark Knight in combat.
Batman: Arkham Knight is the conclusion to Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy, which began with 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum. Arkham Knight will be the first in the series to see an M-rating (Mature) and was originally slated for a 2014 release, only to be hit with multiple delays. The finale will now launch June 23 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A PS4-exclusive limited edition was announced last month, with no word of the other two versions receiving the same treatment.
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Call of Duty stepping up to compete with other modern FPS titles
It seems like Treyarch's Call of Duty: Black Ops III has been in the media for months now, with trailers and teasers and even previews posted everywhere online. But it's today and not previously that Call of Duty: Black Ops III is officially official, coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting November 6. Consider everything else and "Early Access Announcement," or basically Activision recognizing that they couldn't have prevented leaks related to the announcement and rolling with it. Let's all just roll with it. Hooray for annual Call of Duty games not being surprising anymore!
With Call of Duty: Black Ops III, don't expect Treyarch to recreate the wheel. Still, with Activision granting each studio three years of development time instead of two, fans should expect a stronger experience overall from previous games. What type of improved experience? How about feature additions to story, multiplayer and also zombie mode? How about stepping up the quality and polish of gameplay in general? Treyarch thinks they've got something special with Black Ops III.
Treyarch's studio head Mark Lamia provided the following prepared statement:
"Black Ops III is without a doubt, the most ambitious project ever in the history of our studio. Since the launch of Black Ops II, we have been pushing ourselves to develop the best Call of Duty game we can for the millions of fans that continue to play our games, even to this day. We've been taking advantage of the three year development cycle by pushing our game design forward in every way imaginable, crafting all-new experiences, mechanics, systems and characters, all in the deepest Call of Duty that we've ever made. This really is like getting three games in one."
As for specifics, there are a couple of thinks Treyarch pointed out right off the bat. First, Call of Duty: Black Ops III's story campaign will now be playable both as single-player and as 4-player co-op, taking a page out of Halo's book. Players will jump into a "future world, where bio-technology coupled with cybernetic enhancements has given rise to a new breed of Black Ops soldier." This was teased in a very Deus Ex-style trailer last week, but means just as much for gameplay as it does story methinks.
The next announcement is also pretty big news, that "Zombie Mode" will be getting its own progression system with XP and leveling separated from standard multiplayer. Treyarch is so excited about Zombies in Black Ops III that they're saying it's like three games in one -- single-player, multiplayer, and zombies. Without revealing too much more, Treyarch insists Zombies will be, "the most immersive and ambitious," version of the mode yet.
Since Treyarch sees Call of Duty: Black Ops III as three games, we've got one more area to tease a new feature for, right? Multiplayer in Black Ops III will see the addition of the new "Specialist" system. Players can rank up nine customizable soldiers, perhaps replacing the previous loadout systems of prior games with something more like MMO's character slots. There will also be an all new weapon customization system improving on personalization, if not gameplay options.
The most important part of Call of Duty: Black Ops III was unfortunately left undetailed. How will the game's near-future setting and adoption of mechanical limbs, bio-tech implants change gameplay? Are we likely to see the slider lean farther away from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and further towards Titanfall or even Halo? Or in an entirely new direction? This is the announcement that's sure to get fans excited, though either in a positive or negative way is yet to be seen.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III arrives on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 6. Pre-orders will earn access to an exclusive multiplayer beta across all platforms, but make sure to check in with your retailer to make sure they have them before preordering. You never know if they'll drop the ball on these things.
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Benchmarks, making PC gamers feel all warm and fuzzy inside
Bless the developers behind Final Fantasy XIV, for they've always provided benchmarking software leading into each of their releases to help PC gamers prepare. Not only are they great opportunities to test out our PC hardware, but they're fun introductions to upcoming content too. This weekend saw the release of benchmarking software for the Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward expansion, which is available to download right now.
The benchmark will give players a tour of Heavensward's news content, showing off each of the three new jobs from the expansion, giving an up close and personal look at dozens of flying mounts, guiding us through new areas, and of course taking us into the action of Heavensward's dungeons. All the while showcasing the various DirectX 11 visuals of the game, so long as one's video card supports it.
Gameplay isn't the only thing showcased in the Heavensward benchmark software, however. It also comes bundled with the MMO's character creation system, including the all new playable race of the Au Ra. These horned humanoids are rumored to come from the far eastern continent of Othard and yes, if you were wondering, they are part dragon. Fullfill all of your dragonkin fantasies. Final Fantasy. It's all connected.
Of course, MMOs and benchmarking aren't for everyone, plus Final Fantasy XIV has plenty of PlayStation players as well who will want to join in on the fun. Luckily Square Enix released the benchmark teaser as a trailer too. That way everyone can join in on the authentic franchise fun.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward will be released on June 23.
Codemasters willing to get a little dirty to get this game out as fast as possible
*Somewhere deep in Codemasters' headquarters* Developer 1: Sir, I know we have other projects, but the guys all want to make a rally racer! We call it... DiRT Rally! CEO: We don't have the time, but that does sound awesome! How soon can we have a prototype? Developer 2: Sir, we've already finished an alpha-quality product, but... do you think people will play it? CEO: You guys need to sleep more! Quick, get press relations to send out an announcement and put the game on Steam Early Access!
I'm pretty sure the above is a direct retelling of the events that have lead to today's announcement and release of DiRT Rally. Yes, Codemasters have both officially announced their new racing game and released it via Steam Early Access on the same day. The game will focus on off-road realism, multiple driving surfaces and a variety of weather conditions, all packaged in a game only a bit more than half the price of a standard racer.
Here's what Codemasters will offer as part of their Early Access package for DiRT Rally:
- 17 CARS OVER 6 NEW AND CLASSIC CLASSES - Including BMW M3 Evo; Audi Quattro S1; Lancia Delta HF Integrale and Subaru Impreza
- DIVERSE LOCALES - 36 challenging stages set across Hafren, Wales; Monte Carlo, Monaco and Argolis, Greece
- TEAM MANAGEMENT – Hire up to four engineering staff to work on your car between stages
- RALLY ASYNC – Daily, weekly and month-long challenges against fellow players from around the world without the need to be online at the same time
- RALLY SEASONS – Compete in a succession of events with the aim of gaining promotion to the next rung on the driving ladder
- CUSTOM RALLY EVENTS – Take any car on any track and configure and compete in single or multi-stage events against the AI’s times
- UPGRADES – Unlock the full potential of your car with meaningful improvements to its handling and performance
- TUNING – Tweak your car set-up based on car, track and weather conditions to best suit your racing style
- PHYSICS-BASED ASSISTS – DiRT Rally allows players to experience cars in their purest form. It also offers a selection of real world assists similar to those seen in race and road vehicles as traction control and ABS
- DAMAGE & REPAIRS – Wear and tear is faithfully recreated with a comprehensive and realistic damage model. Damage can be repaired by hiring Engineers to work in the team’s Service Area between stages but with a finite amount of time available
As for what's coming to the game in the future, Codemasters says they're planning multiple "free" updates including cars, locations and game modes. Which makes me think this is less an Early Access game and more of a release that Codemasters wants to earn money on without doing all of their QA up front. It doesn't really sound like they have any real plans as far as bringing their game from Early Access to full release, that is.
Nevertheless, Early Access is whatever a developer wants it to be. If Codemasters thinks their game is ready for drivers to race in, then it must be so. Let's just hope they didn't put out a broken game for full price, stamped with Early Access so they don't get as much criticism over it.
DiRT Rally is available now on Steam via Early Access for the price of $35. Check out the trailer and the provided screenshots to see if this rally racer is up to your speed.
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An exciting project silenced before it even found its voice
"Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.
In terms of Kojima and Del Toro being involved, discussions on future Silent Hill projects are currently underway, and please stay tuned for further announcements."
This followed a weekend where Guillermo del Toro spoke at the San Francisco Film Festival. A member of the audience was tweeting his reponses to a Q&A session, where he answered what it was like collaborating with Hideo Kojima on Silent Hills. Guillermo del Toro's answer was that he longer was collaborating with Kojima. This led to an immediate wave of incorrect articles misquoting del Toro as saying the project was dead, though he was really only commenting on his collaboration and not the state of the game.
However, as a result of one of these articles which quite literally said Silent Hills was cancelled in the headline, another rumor began. Norman Reedus, who was confirmed to star as the protagonist of the game, retweeted the headling saying that he was, "super bummed," about the news and that hopefully, "it'll come back around." Again, yet another out-of-context quote, as it stemmed from a mis-quote itself, but nevertheless someone confirmed to be associated with the game saying it was dead.
Konami's official statement this morning simply confirmed what everyone had already realized by now. If the project was healthy, these statements would not be made in the first place. As twisted as they were by the press, they were still symptoms of a project having been cancelled. Some sites just jumped from point A to point Z without being willing to double check their work.
In all likelihood, the cancellation isn't simply a business decision being made by Konami. It's not a heartless cancellation of a project highly anticipated by the gaming community just because they're a heartless publisher -- as many gamers might frustratingly claim today. Rather, it's likely this is a result of the relationship ending between Konami and Hideo Kojima earlier this year. Kojima was quite clearly the lead on the project, with his team working in his engine to make the game. No Kojima, no Silent Hills. At least, that makes the most sense to me.
What comes next? Well, unless Konami is able to work out a partnership with Kojima to continue development of Silent Hills as a third-party, we'll all just have to wait patiently for them to find a new future for the franchise. I wouldn't hold my breath, if I were you. It may be a while.
Sunday, Apr 26
Net Articles Summary
- ECS Z97-PK Motherboard Review - PC Perspective
Guillermo del Toro spoke at the San Francisco Film Festival today, part of early press work for his upcoming movie Crimson Peak. However, as us gamers are very familiar with, del Toro is also involved with an in-development project that has some controversy swirling it around it right now. del Toro, as ever, was more than willing to speak his mind on the current situation regarding Silent Hills. The news is not good.
According to photo-journalist Matt Hackney, who was live-tweeting the event, del Toro announced that his collaboration with Hideo Kojima on Silent Hills would no longer happen. His exact words were, noting that he's talking about collaborating with Kojima and not the status of the game:
"It's not gonna happen and that breaks my greasy heart."
For those unfamiliar, Silent Hills was announced late last year as part of the P.T. (Playable Teaser) horror demo released by Konami. The short and mysterious demo was released to much viral online excitement and only after its completion was Silent Hills officially unveiled. Also revealed was that it would be a project led both Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima. The quality of P.T. itself, as well as the names attached to the project, made Silent Hills one of the most highly anticipated games in development.
Then came one of the oddest events in modern gaming history. Konami began to remove Hideo Kojima's name from all of his digitally available previous works, including material related to the upcoming release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Word eventually came that Kojima was no longer a part of Konami, instead working as a contractor in order to finish his work on MGSV. He'll leave Konami fully later this year.
The status of Silent Hills was questioned, but no further details on the project followed. One might assume that gamers preferred to just close their eyes and hope that Silent Hills was still in production. That security blanket disappeared this past week when news broke that P.T., the demo that started all, was to be permanently removed from the PlayStation Network soon. Today's confirmation by Guillermo del Toro, while still not confirming the game's cancellation, does not paint a pretty portrait.
Silent Hill, in one form or another, will certainly return eventually. Will it be a Silent Hills project unassociated with Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro? Who knows, but the dream that began with P.T. is certainly in stormy waters. You should probably download that if you have a PS4 before it's gone forever. As for Guillermo del Toro, hopefully he's not too busy for the next 20 years with Pacific Rim sequels to try again in video games. Third time's the charm, right?
- Need for Speed returns Fall 2015, teaser cinematic and screenshots definitely feels like Underground 
- Konami officially shifting focus from consoles to mobile gaming 
- The Witcher 3 artist dismisses downgrade, 'unfair' comparing early trailers to gameplay demos 
- Assassin's Creed Syndicate comes October 23, see the first screenshots and gameplay walkthrough 
- Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon announced, super-sized dungeon crawling starts this winter 
- Nintendo's mobile focus to avoid games designed for a 'limited number of generous consumers' 
- Doom E3 teaser is a scant few seconds of skeletons and metal, gameplay reveal on June 14 
- Yooka-Laylee crosses £1,000,000 and will come to PS4, X1, Wii U, now eyeing an orchestral score