Thursday, Dec 18
A labyrinth of shifting walls and monstrous creatures? Probably my worst nightmare
PlayStation 4 gamers got a look at Bloodborne's Chalice Dungeons during the PlayStation Experience keynote a bit back. Something along the lines of replayable dungeons was mentioned and many of those looking forward to Bloodborne cheered and were otherwise still a bit confused. Today Sony and From Software released a bit more information on just what these Chalice Dungeons are and why they're worth looking forward to.
In more technical terms than were previously offered, it can now be said that Chalice Dungeons are indeed procedurally generated content. Bloodborne players will be able to acquire items named "Holy Chalices" which can then be used to open a portal to a new Chalice Dungeon. As each portal opens, the structure of the dungeon shifts, adding or removing new traps, enemies, twists and turns. Of course, the rewards for completing said dungeon will change as well.
These dungeons, once summoned, can be played alone or with the help of other hunters cooperatively. More details on how Bloodborne's multiplayer will work are needed, but it's clear From Software is changing up the standard Souls formula of semi-confusing rules for multiplayer. There's also a feature mentioned by which players can share their dungeons, uploading them for others to try out. These shared dungeons can be shared with friends, or players can peruse dungeons uploaded by other players. Will these dungeons require Holy Chalices to unlock? It's unclear.
Finally, From Software shared several screenshots and details regarding what kind of... things can be found within the halls of a Chalice Dungeon. The setting of each dungeon can take on different themes, including subterranean ruins, swamps and gothic halls. Pale white monsters lurk the halls, including "ritual masters" who perform "ancient ceremonies." Then of course there's the fire-covered "ancient guard dog" boss. It's unclear whether the dog is meant to be the boss of all bosses within the Chalice Dungeon, but I wouldn't be surprised if other terrifying monsters just as large awaited within those shifting walls.
Bloodborne's planned for release exclusively on the PlayStation 4 starting March 24 in North America, March 25 in Europe. It's a bit later than we were hoping for a few months ago, but odds are Bloodborne's going to be worth the wait.
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Square Enix in recent years has shifted more and more of its development power towards mobile devices, the new leading game platform in its home country of Japan. They still prioritized large-scale development for their console title, including the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. This past week, however, it seems the balance has shifted once more. Square Enix has revealed Mevius Final Fantasy, a mobile-exclusive RPG the developer claims is of "similar quality to a numbered Final Fantasy" title.
Fully unveiled in this month's issue of the Japanese magazine Famitsu, Mevius Final Fantasy currently has no announced plans to be released in the west. Still, it's unlikely that western fans won't be interested in the details of the game's development. It's also unlikely that Square Enix won't eventually bring the title overseas, should it prove successful.
Mevius Final Fantasy only has a few official details at this point. The theme is "Warriors of Light," a throw-back theme to the original Final Fantasy as well as several sequels since. It's latest been used in both the MMO Final Fantasy XIV as well as satirically being referenced in Bravely Default. Square Enix is perhaps using this theme to give it more credence as a true Final Fantasy title.
Again, Square Enix insists the mobile game will be of a similar quality to a numbered Final Fantasy game. This includes a development team Square Enix says has an "exceptional" number of people involved -- for a smartphone game. As a result Square Enix expects the game to be on par with its console predecessors and nowhere near inferior due to its smartphone origins.
As for the world, story and RPG features, well, there's a lot left to be discussed. Square Enix has noted that map movement will be limited, which should immediately throw up red flags with RPG players. Square Enix can say this is a big RPG all it wants, but we can all understand that when they say it's a smartphone game they mean it will limit the amount of content players can access via resources and microtransactions. At least they provided this quote which stirs all of those old Final Fantasy feelings:
"This country is the land of Paramatia, a place bereft of any hope. Its people wander in melancholy, their hearts untouched by the Light of Hope."
Expect more information on Mevius Final Fantasy in the months to come.
Wednesday, Dec 17
Net Articles Summary
Grand Theft Auto V's online 'Heists' planned for early 2015, trailer teases some of over 20 missions
I can finally live out my Keanu Reeves in Point Break roleplaying fantasy
Grand Theft Auto Online's all about that "easy money" in more ways than one, but Rockstar's newly announced plans to release "Heists" in early 2015 are perhaps more so. Yes, Rockstar has once again brought up Grand Theft Auto V's most wanted feature for its mostly popular online mode. A specific release date has yet to be revealed, but Rockstar wants everyone to know Heists are still in development and are coming soon. Seriously, they've got a trailer to prove it.
Heists are structured missions where you and a group of your buddies pull off robberies for big moolah. Well, big moolah for the ones that make it out alive. Anyone should be able to tell you that even robbing a gas station in Grand Theft Auto Online can result in serious and dramatic consequences. Nevertheless, nothing could be more exciting than a co-op robbery experience with car chases, gunfights and almost certain betrayal from your teammates. It's something Rockstar wants done right, too, which may be why it's taking so long.
According to early Heist details revealed in an IGN interview, there will be five unique "strands" involving over 20 missions released with the update. This should total up 20 hours -- 20 hours! -- of gameplay. Of course, Heists are designed to be replayable too, and so dynamic that no one run-through will be like another. Basically, this is an all-new game for players to experience unlike anything else already available in Grand Theft Auto Online.
Some exciting ideas Rockstar is implementing includes rewards for running all of the heists in order with the same group of friends, or running all of the heists in first-person mode. There are also "Elite Bonus Challenges" which are extra requirements for a mission and can award big money too.
Grand Theft Auto Online's Heists sound like an outstanding, larger-than-life feature added to an already larger-than-life game. Grand Theft Auto V continues to remain relevant over a year after its initial release. Expect more information on the release of Heists in the months to come.
This is not the single-player story DLC you're looking for
BioWare's first round of DLC updates for Dragon Age: Inquisition have rolled out and odds are folk are going to be rather underwhelmed. Neither of the two packs are anything to flip out and rush to download over. Still, they're both nice additions to discover exist. The first piece of DLC is a small multiplayer update adding variety to what players will find in each level. The second is a standalone download of the "Deluxe" upgrade for Dragon Age: Inquisition, running in at $9.99.
Dragon Age: Inquisition - Destruction adds a modicum of new content for multiplayer adventurers too discover. It's not a large amount of content, but it should be enough to keep things fresh and to encourage players wandering off to come give it another go. The Destruction pack adds new "paths" to the already existing levels in multiplayer, so players should discover this content dynamically as they play. In addition to these newer areas, players will also stumble upon assorted new animal foes -- attacking both friend and enemy.
BioWare has also made their Deluxe Edition content available to those who missed out at launch. Players used to be able to buy Dragon Age: Inquisition at around $10 over retail pricing and earn all of this content, but those who purchased the standard edition had no opportunity to go back and remedy their mistake. Now that's changed, though the price is still $9.99.
Here's what's included with the Deluxe upgrade DLC:
- Skyhold Throne – Every ruler should sit in a place of high honor, but as the Inquisitor you will have the greatest throne of all, fashioned from an ancient dragon skull.
- Red Hart Halla – Navigate the perilous, living world atop this great-horned beast.
- Bog Unicorn – Once belonging to an evil marauder, this unique mount has returned to inspire fear into those who would oppose you.
- Bring the world of Thedas wherever you go with the digital soundtrack.
- Dragon Age Multiplayer Deluxe Edition chests!
The Deluxe pack also includes the Inquisition armor, a unique set for each class including a weapon of each typing. That also includes a mount in matching armor -- no Inquisitor should go about without riding in style.
Both the Dragon Age: Inquisition - Destruction DLC and the Deluxe upgrade are available for download now. The multiplayer DLC is entirely free (and probably downloads automatically on start-up) and the Deluxe content will cost about $9.99. All platforms, including PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, have the content available.
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Come 2016, City Interactive will be bringing Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 to PC and current-gen consoles, basically confirming that the Sniper series is still alive and well. Steve Hart, former senior producer of Sniper Elite V2, has also been brought on board to work on Ghost Warrior 3.
The Sniper: Ghost Warrior series, for those unaware, is a franchise that tends to focus on more tactical gameplay than most action shooters you'll find these days. In the upcoming Ghost Warrior 3, players will be taken to Eastern Europe as a sniper "caught between three warring factions," and survival isn't exactly guaranteed. That's where the Ghost Warrior DNA comes in handy, essentially giving you the perfect edge to overcome your enemies.
Not much else is known about Ghost Warrior 3 at this point, beyond what can be gleaned from the teaser art (above). CI did mention the release falling somewhere "in the first half" of 2016, for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Tuesday, Dec 16
Net Articles Summary
WildStar's teases content forthcoming in 2015, adds Ultimate Protogames dungeon and shrinks Datascape
Carbine working harder than ever to make WildStar a more accessibile experience
Carbine Studios has been hard at work in the past months splitting their time between both new content and optimizations designed to improve WildStar's quality of life. It took sacrificing a monthly content release schedule to do it, but the newly focused content team is finally rolling out early changes. Of course, there are many promises left to deliver on. Today Producer Chad Moore took to the MMO's blog to detail their next big content drop -- the first of 2015.
At the top 2015's content drop list are two new dungeons. The first is a low-level training dungeon named the Protogames Academy, which is designed specifically to train new players in general team mechanics so that they can succeed in later group-based content. The second dungeon returns to the Protogames with Ultimate Protogames, a max-level dungeon that adds to the already substantial challenging content meant for players just reaching end-game.
Basically, the agenda is to smooth out the edges where players would either stop playing or have trouble progressing into the next "tier" of content. This is reflected in many of Carbine's content plans revealed today:
- There are now Veteran versions of all Shiphand Missions, giving max-level solo and group players additional content once they reach level cap.
- We have enhanced the LFG tool, which now includes access to all Shiphand Missions - allowing players to queue up whether they want to play solo or with a group.
- We made significant adjustments to the quest experience in our early zones, focusing on things like quest flow, objective counts, and group accessibility.
- We've improved the Dungeon Medal system, providing greater insight into how you are progressing through a dungeon's objectives, and rewarding you every step of the way.
- We’ve added a new currency type called Glory which is earned by completing dungeons and raids. Glory can be exchanged for high-quality gear in the capital cities.
And perhaps most significant of all of the changes:
- We are adjusting the group size requirement for Datascape from 40 to 20 players, allowing more players to experience this awesome raid!
Datascape was the 40-man raid that was the pinacle of WildStar's end-game content. We can assume that of the tens of thousands of players in WildStar, perhaps a scant few hundred have seen the raid at this point. Personally, I blame the insane challenge of jumping from dungeons to raiding in the first place, but apparently Carbine wants more players experiencing this content faster. There will be some disappointment from hardcore raiders at this change, but ultimately it's the better choice for more players.
Check out the full list of changes to WildStar, which Carbine is currently testing out on their Public Test Realm, over at the official website. No release date has yet been announced for 2015's first content drop, but I'm sure Carbine is just as excited as the players are to get this stuff live. Keep on keepin' on, Carbine. WildStar's got a lot of great content that we'd all love more people to experience.
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Who doesn't want ride on the back of an acid-puking graug?
It feels like, in the midst of the holiday fervor, many have forgotten that Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor exists and is a pretty damn fun game. Luckily, if DLC is your sort of thing, Monolith Productions and Warner Bros. have a special treat for those willing to return to Mordor. Today saw the launch of the "Lord of the Hunt" DLC, a pack of fun new assorted single-player content that should keep players' swords swinging for a while yet.
In context, Lord of the Hunt continues the side-story missions revolving around the dwarven hunter Torvin from the main Shadow of Mordor game. Torvin helped the player conquer the non-orc bestial presence in Mordor, but in this DLC he appears to be joining the fight against Sauron to a larger degree. Sauron has dispatched Beastmaster Warchiefs to "exterminate the monsters of Mordor." Talion, however, sees use in these monsters. Perhaps he'll use them to his advantage. Perhaps he'll use the Beastmasters too.
Here's the official list of content to be added in Lord of the Hunt:
- Story & Lore – Discover more tales from Torvin, the Dwarven Hunter, as you work together to tame the beasts of Mordor and fight Sauron’s minions.
- Nemeses – Face off against the Beastmaster Warchiefs, powerful new Uruks who have the ability to ride monsters and engage in perilous mounted combat.
- Monsters – Ride into battle on the Wretched Graug to vomit toxin at your foes, stalk your enemies on the predatory Caragath and attack from the shadows or raise an all-consuming Ghul Horde.
- Missions & Challenges – New Beast Hunting challenges and collectibles open up new trophies and achievements.
- Epic Runes – Make your Mount unstoppable with five new epic Runes that make you the ultimate hunter.
- Test of the Wild – Test your skills against the Beastmasters and mount your trophies on the leaderboard.
- Character Skin – Lord of the Hunt skin transforms Talion into the ultimate Beastmaster.
Odds are there's not a large quantity of narrative-driven content included in the DLC pack. Instead, there seems to be a good amount of fresh dynamic content added to help freshen up the non-linear gameplay of Shadow of Mordor. More monsters roaming the land, new warchiefs to encounter, and interesting new ways to start fights with everything is much more valuable than another bland side-quest.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its DLC is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The Lord of the Hunt DLC costs $9.99 by itself, but can also be purchased as part of the game's Season Pass for a total of $24.99.
Lord of the Hunt DLC Trailer - Youtube
Starting today, Guild Wars 2 is celebrating its third Wintersday with another offering of holiday events, PVP modes, and rewards. Of course this means a new outfit in the Gem Store, special Wintersday Black Lion weapons, and more knitted clothes to collect.
On a less festive note, daily achievement system has also been overhauled. Now, players will only need to complete three dailies of their choosing, instead of the previous five, in order to accommodate the newer, more specific daily achievements. ArenaNet refers to this as a more "content-driven" alternative, focused on all three major aspects of the game (PVE, PVP, WVW) for greater challenges. Additionally, this is the last month we'll have monthlies to finish.
As for all that Wintersday stuff, Tixx is back along with the Infinirarium instance, something long-time Guild Wars 2 players should already be familiar with. A new activity this year involves a Grinch-inspired character known as "The Grawnk," a grawl who stole ornaments from the Divinity's Reach orphanage. Successfully tracking down all of the stolen goods will earn you a Wintersday tree for your home instance.
The Gem Store hasn't been updated with anything new except the Arctic Explorer Outfit, which will run you 700 Gems (well over 100 gold). Thankfully, just about everything else you could want this Wintersday is perfectly attainable just by playing the game.
Be sure to stop by the Wintersday jump puzzle and go crazy, as well. Happy Wintersday!
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Monday, Dec 15
Net Articles Summary
CD Projekt today confirmed that the other playable character in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will in fact be Ciri, which many fans have no doubt already guessed. A couple weeks ago at the first Game Awards 2014, the studio debuted their "Elder Blood" trailer for the upcoming RPG and teased that Geralt would not be the only playable character. A few hints already pointed to Ciri, but the night continued without any confirmation.
Today, we learn a bit more about Ciri and her role as an actual playable character in The Witcher 3. Players will be able to control her at one point or another in the campaign, essentially allowing the devs more room to play around with the narrative and how it's presented. That said, the game is still very much focused on Geralt, whose choices will shape the events of the story.
So Ciri ends up being a sort of storytelling device, but a very integral one, as the descendant of an ancient Elven-blood lineage and the wielder of great power. From a gameplay standpoint, the girl is quick and agile, a skilled swordsman capable of some unique abilities including blink (teleportation across short distances). CD projekt also teased Ciri's dormant, mythical power, but don't seem keen on telling us much more than that.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be out May 19 for Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4. It was originally slated for February release, but was pushed back after the studio needed more development time.
Oh Naruto, your passionate rivalry with Sasuke will battle eternally. It's a good thing CyberConnect 2 and Bandai Namco will be there right by your side delivering fighting game sequel after sequel to chronicle every second of their journey together. Luckily, despite their... exuberant release schedule, CyberConnect2 really does push the brand. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, newly announced, will be no different.
Bandai Namco describes Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4's updated look as "beyond anime-quality." Considering these past years were spent trying to bring the franchise up to the visual quality of the anime, it seems like CyberConnect 2 is looking to go out on their own. If they can replicate the intensity they've shown in the two screenshots provided with today's announcement, then they certainly have proven they're capable of it.
Beyond that detail, nothing more was revealed about the latest iteration of the series. No other new systems or mechanics were announced. What was confirmed to be returning includes one-on-one multiplayer modes for both online and offline. That's it! Otherwise, I'd say it's safe to expect a huge story mode and a ridiculously large roster of everyone's favorite Naruto Shippuden characters.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is planned for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It's planned for 2015, which likely implies a summer or later launch. Expect more information on the game (and hopefully new feature announcements) within the next few months. Until then, take in these two beautiful screenshots and cross your fingers.
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- Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 announced, more Naruto on Sasuke action 
- Xbox Live and PSN both down for Christmas, reportedly hit by DDoS attack 
- Bloodborne's ever-changing 'Chalice Dungeons,' procedurally-generated hell holes detailed 
- See Red and Blue fight it out in new Halo 5 Guardians multiplayer beta teaser trailer 
- January's Games With Gold add Dark Dreams Don't Die to Xbox One, The Witcher II to Xbox 360 
- Minecraft: Story Mode is Telltale's next episodic series, mixing 'new characters with familiar themes' 
- Capcom gets an Unreal Engine 4 assist for Street Fighter V 
- Outfitting a Total War: Attila general's household with weaponry and a wife in 'Army Management' spotlight