Friday, Apr 24
Net Articles Summary
Three different versions, and guaranteed access to a closed beta
Might & Magic Heroes VII may not have a set release date yet, but pre-orders have opened up, with a number of options available to prospective players. A standard edition alone just wouldn't do, after all. As for a pre-order bonus, Ubisoft and developer Limbic Entertainment are offering guaranteed access to the upcoming closed beta.
Now the three versions you can pre-order include the standard, "deluxe," and collector's editions. Reserving any one of these will get you that beta access, though the pricey collector's bundle is a uPlay exclusive -- to no one's surprise.
Below is a more detailed rundown of what each edition comes with. The big selling point for the collector's version lies in the physical content that comes with, such as the Ivan figure and miniature artbook, plus the two lithographs and novelty tarot cards. All that stuff is going to run you a hefty $100 though, which is a significant jump from the $60 Deluxe Edition and the $50 standard edition.
Note that the Might & Magic Heroes VII Collector's Edition comes with everything from the Deluxe Edition (above) as well.
The Standard Edition includes the full Might & Magic Heroes VII game experience.
The Deluxe Edition includes the full game experience, as well as:
- The official soundtrack in digital format
- Might & Magic Heroes III HD Edition
- Additional in-game content including a new Hero and extra scenario-map
The Collector’s Edition is available exclusively on the uPlay Shop and contains the full game experience, as well as:
- A Collector’s Edition box
- A 26-cm Yvan figurine displaying Yvan proudly posing after a brilliant victory on the battlefield
- An artbook
- The official soundtrack in digital format
- Two lithographies
- A full-customized tarot game
- Additional in-game content including a new Hero and an extra scenario-map
When ordering from uPlay, bear in mind that the beta access will appear as a $9.99 item in your checkout box, but the amount isn't actually factored into the total. So don't freak out.
Might & Magic Heroes VII is currently set for September release on PC. And because every bit of development news ever requires a trailer, here's the cinematic released for the pre-order/beta access announcement.
Thursday, Apr 23
Net Articles Summary
- Fractal Design Define S Review - Guru3D
- Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-2400 4x4GB Kit Review - Vortez
- Gigabyte GA-X99-SOC Champion Review - LanOC
- Cougar 500K Review - Modders-Inc
- Lian Li PC-O7S Review - Guru3D
Heads up Wii U fans, Nintendo has a quick Nintendo Direct event coming up tomorrow. Yes, they've snuck one in to surprise us. This one will focus entirely on the upcoming Wii U exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles X, which after the delay of Zelda Wii U will now be the major platform release of 2015. Tune into the Nintendo Direct starting tomorrow, April 23 at 11:00am PT.
Nintendo has actually done quite a few Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Directs in the past few months, but they've all be exclusive to Japan. That's because the game will be released on April 29 in the Japanese region. Meanwhile, a North American release date has yet to be announced. My guess would be that we won't see it arriving until this holiday season, due to the Wii U's thin release schedule, but maybe we'll be surprised tomorrow.
As for what we should expect, well, there's a lot of the game that has yet to be shown to the west. The event will likely jump around to all sorts of content, but I'm certain they'll touch on just how big the open world is, the giant mechs that the player can battle in, or perhaps a closer look at the Earth's obliteration, or maybe the huge multiplayer battles. Or maybe Nintendo will just delay the game onto the next console. Now that would be a surprise.
Check out the official Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Direct tomorrow at 11:00am PT over at the official Nintendo Direct website. Maybe we'll have a live-blog if there's enough interest!
First collegiate eSports event to be broadcast by ESPN
Blizzard announced the grand final of its Heroes of the Storm collegiate tournament will air this Sunday, April 26 on ESPN2. The tournament, dubbed "Heroes of the Dorm", features teams from colleges all over the United States and Canada as they battle for $450,000 worth of prizes. Each player on the championship team will recieve $25,000 in tuition per year, until the end of their college career.
64 colleges qualified at the start of the tournament, and now it's down to the top four teams. The semifinals will be streamed live at ESPN3, just hours before the grand final.
The matches will be played at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles, starting at 2:30 PM Pacific. Arizona State vs. Boston College will kick off the action, followed by Illinois Urbana-Champaign vs. Cal Berkley. As for the the finals, those are scheduled for 6:30 PM.
Blizzard will be giving out special goodie bags to fans who attend the live event, containing a Heroes of the Storm beta key and in-game portrait, as well as a Hearthstone cardpack. The venue will also have demo stations, along with giving attendees a chance to meet Blizzard developers.
Competitive gaming isn't new to TV, as events like League of Legends' World Championships and Dota 2's The International have made their way onto mainstream channels. However, this will be the first collegiate eSports event to air on ESPN. Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard's first official MOBA, featuring characters from its iconic franchises as they battle across various maps, each with different objectives. The game is still in closed beta but will be released on June 2.
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Please don't be Howard the Duck, please don't be Howard the Duck
As if Telltale wasn't getting around enough already, today at an event in San Francisco Marvel announced a partnership with the adventure game developer. The wording around the announcement implies that Telltale will be working on multiple games across multiple Marvel properties. The first of these games will be released in 2017, but any further details were held back.
Other early details from the event involve Marvel Games creative director Bill Roseman describing his goal of helping to create authentic games that are both "exquisite" and "sexy." Peter Phillips, executive VP and general manager of interactive and digital distribution described how Marvel is focused on storytelling. To sum up, a lot of Microsoft executives said a lot of boring marketing schlock with very little value, perhaps implying they had no idea what a partnership with Telltale really meant.
So, we must make some assumptions on our own. First is that we won't be seeing any Marvel adventure games until 2017 because Telltale has such a large back-log. With The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones performing so well, Tales from the Borderlands building an audience and an upcoming Minecraft game in the works, Telltale's freakin' set. They have to be very happy both creatively and business-wise. Either Telltale would have to drop some of those properties to make way for Marvel, which is doubtful, or they've got some expanding to do. That in itself would explain the 2017 release window for a first game.
The second thing we can assume is that Telltale's Marvel games will continue to be adventure titles. Not only is Telltale getting no room to breathe and iterate on their gameplay, but the reason they're bagging these huge partnerships is because properties like Marvel and Game of Thrones like what they're already doing. And why not -- I'd personally love a Spider-Man, X-Men, or Avengers story in adventure game format.
Expect more information on Marvel and Telltale's partnership in the months to come -- maybe not even until 2016. Let's focus on getting Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands out this year, right guys?
Steam launches controversial 'Paid Creations' system for Skyrim, only 25% of revenue goes to creators
Today Valve launched a new Workshop system for Steam allowing content creators to sell their "mods, items, or maps" on the platform. To kick off the new feature, Valve has partnered with Bethesda to support mod sales for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. No other games currently support mod sales, though Valve says they are working with other partners and will support the service on other games soon.
However, unlike Valve's previous efforts to support the sale of content created within the community, the sale of mods has come across as highly controversial. Steam's system seems unfairly balanced towards benefiting Bethesda and Valve themselves, rather than the content creator, and the system itself is easily susceptible to misuse. Specifically, here are the provisions which content creators and the Skyrim community take issue with:
- 25% of Each Sale - According to the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Workshop Terms, content creators will earn only 25% of revenue from each sale. The remaining percentage is split between Valve and the game's publisher or developer, based on undisclosed terms.
- $100 Payout Minimum - Before a content creator will see even a penny of the money they've earned, they'll have to earn a sum of at least $100. Anything lower and Valve will not be able to cash out the content creator's earnings.
- DMCA Only - Should someone's work be stolen and listed, Valve has only a rudimentary DMCA notice system in place to handle complaints. There appears to be no system in place to repay content creators for stolen work, nor even a guarantee that their work be removed at all.
- Non-Removal - Even should a content creator send a DMCA notice and have their stolen work taken down, Valve's FAQ implies that the work will continue to remain on their service for anyone who purchased the item.
- Valve Encourages Build on Others' Work - Despite having no system in place to verify a content creator's ownership, nor a way to request stolen content be taken down, Valve does encourage modders to build on others creations -- so long as they allocate revenue with no oversight.
- Q. Can I include someone else's mod in my mod?
- A. The Steam Workshop makes it easy to allocate and approve portions of your item’s revenue with other collaborators or co-authors
- 24- Hour Refunds - Valve will offer refunds for content bought, but only for 24 hours. No mention of possible refunds is made should a game update breaks the mod, or if a mod update breaks the mod either.
- Q. What happens if a mod I bought breaks?
- A. Sometimes one mod may modify the same files as another mod, or a particular combination of mods may cause unexpected outcomes. If you find that mod has broken or is behaving unexpectedly, it is best to post politely on the Workshop item's page and let the mod author know the details of what you are seeing.
- Pay to Whom? - With Skyrim, for example, content purchasers know that 25% goes to the content creator. As for the 75% remaining, it is unclear how much Bethesda takes for itself, how much Valve takes for maintenance, and how much Valve takes for profit.
Several petitions have already popped up online requesting that Valve end the service, as well as several boycotts within the community for both Bethesda and Steam products.
That said, 19 mods are already available for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the service, with more likely to follow very quickly. How many sales have already taken place? It's impossible to tell, especially because items can only be rated by someone who has purchased them and apparently no ratings can go through until after the refund period of 24 hours ends. At least, that's the only reason I can imagine why there are no ratings.
Will Valve respond to the criticism? Will the community's fears of the service exploiting content creators prove true? Or will the community, unable to help itself, buy into the hype and start buying mods in quantity.
Just to do the math for an example, the Blazing Ringsword by Fido is currently available for $.25 on the Steam Workshop for Skyrim. In order for Fido to get the $100 necessary to cash out his profits, he'll have to raise a total of $400. That's $300 or 75% for Bethesda and Valve, and $25% or $100 for Fido. At $.25 a sale, that's 1600 Blazing Ringswords that need to be sold for Fido to get paid. Interesting to think about, right?
Overwatch will be playable for the first time in Europe
Blizzard will be attending this year's Gamescom in August with its largest exhibition in the history of the convention. With three upcoming games and others receiving recent updates, Blizzard is going to be showcasing just about every one of their current titles, from Overwatch to StarCraft II.
Attendees will have more than 500 game stations at their disposal to see what Blizzard has to offer, and this will be the first time European fans have a chance to play the highly anticipated team shooter Overwatch. The game was first revealed at BlizzCon 2014 and made playable for the public at PAX East this past February. Heroes of the Storm, which will be released June 2, StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor will also have playable booths. Legacy of the Void will likely still be in its beta phase during Gamescom, as Blizzard previously stated it expects a longer testing period for this release.
Blizzard will also be hosting competitive matches, live entertainment, costume contests and other activies at the convention. Announcements regarding the five games featured are also expected. Gamescom 2015 will take place at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany August 5-9.
Treyarch and Activision have a new teaser trailer for the next iteration of the Call of Duty franchise today. Call of Duty: Black Ops III's "Ember" teaser trailer is a mood builder, a video dedicated to connecting us, the players, to the core ideas behind the upcoming shooter. It's, well, it's already more than some Call of Duty titles ever did to build up their premise. The odd thing about the "Ember" trailer is that it feels oddly familiar, like Black Ops III might be taking some inspiration from a certain recent Deus Ex title.
Human augmentation is the name of the game, err, well, not literally. The teaser jumps from the doping, wearable technology and various medical breakthroughs of modern day before jumping into a near-future fiction. Human augmentation, including bionic limbs and retinal chips, beginning to improve of what we consider to be human. Strife is apparent as protests grow over this idea of becoming more than human. Then, the payoff -- super soldiers voluntarily sacrificing limbs and life for evolution via technology.
Black Ops III seems to be growing into the setting of what happens before Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The space where humanity is just learning about what we're capable with augmentation, but it's the military that first takes the steps that would otherwise not be taken. I'm sure this will open up some interesting storylines regarding secret wars between super soldiers. Maybe we'll get a returning character or two from Black Ops II, only now become cyborgs.
Gameplay-wise, the opportunities are clear as well. Black Ops II can build off of the exo-suits that Advanced Warfare found so much success with. Bionic limbs, implants and who knows what other kinds of bio-weaponry can begin to be plugged straight into the player-character. Stealth and longer jumps are certainly just the starting point. It's more about how willing Treyarch will be to break the shooting experience that has carried the Call of Duty franchise up to this point.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III is planned for release later this year. Expect a full reveal for the shooting game on April 26.
Scavenging meat from a dead dude's chest -- just Mad Max things
Avalanche Studios' Mad Max is... crazy. It's difficult thinking about what to make of the odd game and the latest trailer, while impressive, doesn't help very much. Today Avalanche Studios released a "Gameplay Overview" trailer which shows what Max does when he's not brooding or providing deep-voiced monologuing. Cars, cannibalism, crashes, and other wasteland shenanigans are plentiful, as expected. Can I say that cannibalism is ever expected? On Mad Max it is.
Customization is really the core of Mad Max, according to this gameplay trailer. The player will spend much of their time picking a car, which Avalanche says is named the player's "Magnum Opus," customizing said car for combat, hunting down additional components for the car to further upgrade it, and using those upgrades in action. Mad Max can be "upgraded" in similar ways it appears, strengthening his fighting skills, but how you upgrade Max isn't as clear as how you upgrade his car.
Unless that's where the cannibalism comes in. Survival is also a key component in Mad Max, considering it takes place in the middle of a post-apocalyptic desert where crops can't grow and things like petrol are dwindling. We see Max eating from at least a couple sources in the trailer -- he eats from an open can of beans, as well as grabbing something chewy from the decaying chest cavity of a long-dead corpse. Maybe this is how Max upgrades himself, by partaking in the delicacies of the desert. I'm sure they're all very hearty.
Other systems touched include a Batman-style close-combat system. We see Max surrounded by crazies, each fighting Max one at a time, with Max blocking attacks and responding with various attack combos. We also see a fancy weather system, hearkening to George Miller's highly cinematic film coming to theaters soon. There's also just a smidge of story teased, naming a bad-guy for instance (Scotus?), as well as showing various locations including the Thunderdome.
What is Mad Max? That's still pretty up in the air. It looks like a good mix of Just Cause, Fallout 3, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Road Rash. All I've got to say is... if you're not getting Mad Max on PC then it ain't gonna look anything like the trailer, that's for sure. Those sand and storm visuals, man. That's impressive stuff. Mad Max will be coming to PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 1.
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All is not as it seems, but that's to be expected
CD Projekt and Microsoft released a gameplay video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt showcasing one of the quests players will encounter, "Precious Cargo." The name is fairly innocuous, but as any experienced Witcher fan knows, things are rarely as they seem.
In the Precious Cargo quest, Geralt encounters a merchant, who requests that he search through nearby swamps for a box. Not exactly a small task, considering just about everything in this game's massive open world wants to kill you -- and has the means to do so. In the video, Geralt accepts, and we see the results play out based on his choices.
The gameplay is displayed in full 60fps and captured using the PC version, for those who are curious. For many of us, achieving the same visual results might be difficult, given the hefty hardware requirements.
Following a number of delays, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is now sticking to its new release date, May 19. The final installment in CD Projekt's Witcher trilogy will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Today marks the start of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited Xbox One and PlayStation 4 beta, just over six weeks before the game officially comes out. This invite-only affair will run through the upcoming weekend and wrap up Monday.
Tamriel Unlimited will be hitting consoles on June 9, and while none of your beta progress will carry over upon release, the full game is actually featured in the test phase. No "slimmed down version" here. Megaservers are split into four between the two consoles, as well as North America and Europe.
Invites have begun to go out, so if you're signed up, make sure to check your email for said beta invite. Participants have until April 27, 10:00 AM Eastern, to try out the game. Keep in mind this is also the only beta Tamriel Unlimited will go through before release.
Check out the FAQ below for more information about the console beta. The new screenshots are also rather nice, though the beta doesn't have an NDA attached, so expect plenty more from the players.
Q. What is the ESOTU console beta test?
A. This is a limited, closed public beta. You must receive an invite to participate. We are sending invites to some of those who signed up for the ESOTU console beta (not everyone who signed up will get an invite).
Q. When is the ESOTU console beta test?
A. The ESOTU console beta test opens on Thursday, April 23rd, at 10AM EDT and ends on Monday, April 27th, at 10AM EDT.
Q. When will invites for the ESOTU console beta test be sent out?
A. Invites start going out today, Wednesday, April 22nd, at 10AM EDT, so check your inbox. Don't forget to check your spam box, too (just in case!). We strongly advise that those invited start downloading the game as soon as possible.
Q. Is there an NDA in place for the ESOTU console beta test?
A. Nope! There is no NDA in place for this beta test, so we encourage participants to share screenshots and livestream until your heart's content.
Q. Will my characters from beta carry over to the live version of ESOTU on PS4 and Xbox One?
A. Unfortunately, no. We will be wiping all characters from the ESOTU console beta before the official worldwide launch on June 9th. If you are eligible for the PC/Mac to PS4 and Xbox One transfer, your characters will be waiting for you on the PS4 and Xbox One megaservers at launch. Otherwise, you will be creating new characters on launch day.
Q. Is this a cross-console beta test?
A. No, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players will have their own megaservers—one for North America and one for Europe, respectively. For the beta (and at launch), you will be able to choose which one you want to play on. Characters are unique per megaserver.
Q. How many megaservers are available during the ESOTU console beta test? Can I choose which one I want to play on?
A. We will have two megaservers for PS4 and two megaservers for Xbox One—one for North America and one for Europe, respectively. You may choose which one you want to play on.
Q. Will we be playing the full game during the ESOTU console beta test, or only parts of it?
A. Everyone participating in the ESOTU console beta test will have access to the full console version of the game, not a slimmed down version.
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- Need for Speed returns Fall 2015, teaser cinematic and screenshots definitely feels like Underground 
- Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon announced, super-sized dungeon crawling starts this winter 
- 'Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer' coming to 3DS this fall alongside scannable 'amiibo Cards' 
- Assassin's Creed Syndicate comes October 23, see the first screenshots and gameplay walkthrough 
- Heroes of the Storm video walks through Muradin's talent system in Blizzard's all-stars MOBA 
- League of Legends has artwork for Order of the Lotus Irelia, Knockout Lee Sin, Nightmare Tryndamere 
- Life is Strange Ep. 3: Chaos Theory out May 19, secrets lie within the Blackwell Academy 
- EA teases next Need for Speed game with picture of a car and the name 'Speedhunters'