Thursday, Mar 13
Explore both old and new worlds in this space journey
Matrix Games, long-historied strategy and wargame developer, has announced the next installment into their expansive gaming catalog, Distant Worlds: Universe. This series successor serves to combine the experiences of the four previous titles - Distant Worlds, Return of the Shakturi, Legends, and Shadows - as well as provide many more gameplay hours and features and much more content.
Distant Worlds: Universe is a massive expansion on all previous content in the series. On top of what was already given to players, Universe opens paths to an entirely new storyline and unlocked modding, leaving the entire game subject to change. Erik Rutins, an employee of Matrix Games, released a statement regarding the updates provided by the complete collection:
“We are very excited to announce Distant Worlds: Universe to the community and finally make the Distant Worlds series available in one package. As usual, it includes many small improvements across the game, but the most exciting feature is the new expanded modding support. Every part of the game is now open for modding and Universe will give all players a common starting point to create and share mods that allow you to customize and define your own universe.”
Players can look forward to traveling through the galaxy soon. Matrix Games informed audiences today that the entire sci-fi series will be available in one package in the form of Distant Worlds: Universe, coming to PC in May 2014.
February delivered a sugary sweet Valentine for the gaming industry, as the NPD Group confirms monthly US retail sales increased 9 percent year-over-year to reach $887 million USD. That's a change of fortunes from the 21 percent drop in total spending reported back in January thanks to slumping software sales.
To be sure, software sales remained in decline last month; new game sales fell 9 percent year-over-year to $318 million. It fell to hardware sales once again to save day, rising 42 percent to $347 million as the new PS4 and Xbox One consoles continue to be in demand. NPD reports that the gap between the two competing consoles narrowed considerably during February, with the PS4 leading by a "narrow margin." Microsoft already announced that it sold 258,000 Xbox Ones last month, so PS4 sales figures should be slightly ahead.
The software top ten chart sees a few newcomers including The LEGO Movie Videogame (based on... The LEGO Movie) and two from Square Enix; while the Tomb Raider reboot fell off the top ten, the all-new take on Thief makes a fine accounting of itself by landing in fourth place. The storied Final Fantasy franchise also makes it return thanks to Lightning Returns, becoming the eighth best-selling title last month.
Nintendo earlier today attributed a 180 percent increase in Wii U hardware sales to the launch of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which sold 130,000 copies (physical and digital combined). Unfortunately this wasn't enough to place Kong in the software top ten, but JRPG fans will be pleased to learn that Bravely Default barely did. According to Nintendo the 3DS title enjoyed combined physical and digital sales of 200,000 units across three weeks. Considering Bravely Default was actually developed by Square Enix, and February actually turned out pretty well for the JRPG giant.
|1.||Call of Duty: Ghosts||Activision||Xbox 360 / PS3 / Xbox One / PS4 / Wii U / PC||11/2013|
|2.||The LEGO Movie Videogame||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment||Xbox 360 / Xbox One / PS3 / PS4 / 3DS / Wii U / Vita||02/2014|
|3.||NBA 2K14||2K Games||PS4 / Xbox 360 / Xbox One / PS3 / PC||10/2013|
|4.||Thief||Square Enix||PS4 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC||02/2014|
|5.||Grand Theft Auto V||Rockstar Games||Xbox 360 / PS3||09/2013|
|6.||Battlefield 4||Electronic Arts||PS4 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC||10/2013|
|7.||Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag||Ubisoft||Xbox 360 / PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Wii U / PC||10/2013|
|8.||Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII||Square Enix||PS3 / Xbox 360||02/2014|
|9.||Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition||Microsoft Game Studios||Xbox 360||06/2013|
Dark Souls II has been out for a little over two days now, and player deaths have been climbing at a hilariously alarming rate. As the game actually keeps track of community deaths, we were able to capture the progress so far: over 11,600,000 deaths worldwide and counting.
Just a couple hours ago, that figure was actually around 300,000 less. So since then, so many more lives have been lost. Heck, by the time you've finished reading this sentence, that number could very well hit 12 million.
Now imagine the death count once Dark Souls II hits PC in April. Dead bodies and cryptic hints everywhere.
Honestly, the Crestfallen Warrior had the right idea giving up. The plaque you see is actually where players can check the worldwide death score, and it's attached to a fairly mysterious pillar bearing an illegible inscription. Dark Souls players have already begun speculating that the inscription may bear some meaning, but for now, let's just admire the DEATH PLAQUE.
Thanks for the tip and pic, Lorx!
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Heroes of the Storm is going to be entering its technical alpha stage soon. To help get ready, Blizzard shared a new walkthrough video that details various features for the MOBA. After all, someone's got to be ready to tell Illidan Stormrage that he is not prepared!
After completing the tutorial, quests will be unlocked that provide you unique challenges and help unlock different skins for some of your favorite characters. You'll also be able to party up with your Battle.net friends for more fun and bonus experience, then record and watch replays of your most epic battles from the main menu. Battles will be available in three modes: practice, cooperative, or versus. Practice is the initial gameplay mode, which is just you against the game's AI. Leveling up through quests and playing matches will eventually unlock the other two modes.
Formerly Blizzard All-Stars, Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA title featuring some of the biggest names from every major Blizzard franchise. If you've ever wanted to see Arthas Menethil or Illidan Stormrage fight Diablo himself, look no further. Everyone's favorite Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo heroes and villains are about to fight it out to see who the strongest one of all is. Much like League of Legends, some heroes will have to be purchased with real money or in-game gold, though each one will eventually be available to play for a limited time as part of a hero rotation. Unfortunately, The Lost Vikings will be sitting this all-star melee out.
Technical alpha testing will initially be restricted to US Battle.net accounts and a handful of international journalists in order to test server stability. Blizzard doesn't exactly have the best track record in that department when they don't have a rolling release schedule, as evidenced by their Diablo III launch in 2012. No date has been set for alpha testing yet, but enjoy this walkthrough video while waiting for more information.
A single piece of art and a paragraph of premise, just beautiful
Rarely can a single piece of art and a paragraph of premise create such a compelling announcement for a new game. Campo Santo, a recently formed studio of Telltale Games devs, Mark of the Ninja's lead designer and popular nerd artist Olly Moss, have announced their first game. Introducing Firewatch, a mystery set in the wilderness of Wyoming.
Henry is a recluse, escaping from a previous life to take up one in a lookout tower high in the wilderness of Wyoming, watching for fires that may or may not ever start. His only connection to the world as we know it is the voice of his supervisor, Delilah, over a handheld radio. When something strange leads Henry to leave the lookout tower:
"... you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have."
What sort of game Firewatch ultimately proves to be is yet to be seen, as the developers seem very tight-lipped about revealing anything. Perhaps they believe that the surprise, the intrigue, is significant to the experience they're creating. Whatever Firewatch may ultimately prove to be, it's hard not to be excited just based on the strips of info they've released today.
Already they've created these themes of isolation, being lost, searching for something, and fear of leaving or losing what you know behind. All of that just with a single image of a lookout tower and a brief introduction. It's surprisingly powerful, so it's difficult for me not to give huge props to the Campo Santo team. Make dat game, everyone! I want to play it.
Expect more details on Firewatch in the months ahead. No release window or platform details have yet to be announced.
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Also dig this folk song combined with Walking Dead
Telltale Games' much-loved series The Walking Dead is well into its second season, with the third episode, In Harm's Way, coming soon. That would be the developer's estimate, anyway: "coming soon."
Aside from that, the studio released a new trailer -- of sorts -- for the previous episode, A House Divided. Just a reminder of how much people love the ongoing series. The footage is set to the song "In the Pines," a folky rock tune that seems to fit rather nicely with Walking Dead.
Honestly, it's a nice video, but fans are past ready for episode three to come out. Seriously, more Clementine please. Heck, Telltale even has a hashtag for her: #IamClementine.
As always, expect the next episode, In Harm's Way, to be available on PC, Xbox 360, PS3 and iOS.
Wednesday, Mar 12
Net Articles Summary
- PNY GeForce GTX 770 OC2 Review - HardwareCanucks
- Asustor AS-204TE Review - Legion Hardware
- Tesoro Gandiva H1L Review - pcGameware.co.uk
- PowerColor LCS R9 290X Review - Tom's Hardware
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 vs AMD Radeon R9 280X Comparison - ocaholic
11 bit studios, known for the Anomaly series, is back with This War Of Mine. Gamers are used to Call of Duty's invulnerable soldiers, being the big guys with the big guns, but what about the smaller people who have their lives turned upside down when the military steps in? That's what 11 bit wants you to see. That's what This War of Mine is about.
This War Of Mine focuses on civilians diromg war. The town's been taken over by an invading army, leaving only a small amount of food and medicine for its citizens. Constantly on the lookout for snipers or other hostile scavengers, it's near impossible for to leave the hideout during the daytime. Stress, choice, and fear.
Michel Drozdowski, lead designer of This War of Mine, offered the following statement:
"This can happen in your city, in your country. While designing a new game, we came across an article that described how one man survived in a besieged city. We learned about his hardships and the horror of that experience. We decided to work around this idea and make something real, something that moves people and make them think for a second. It's about time that games, just like any other art form, start talking about important things."
More information on This War Of Mine will be available at GDC next week. The title is expected to release later this year for PC, Mac, Linux, and mobile devices.
Tales fans, rejoice! Namco Bandai has just released their next batch of news for Tales of Zestiria, the series successor to the upcoming Tales of Xillia 2. Meet Edna, or エドナ, the solitary member of the Divine living high in the mountains. Her name translates to Edona, but no official romanization has been released so far.
Edna, the stereotypically dainty heroine, was designed by Minoru Iwamoto, character designer from Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology. This young girl, standing just under five feet, has grown up distrusting humans, as evident by her belief that they are "selfish and so emotional". Edna is an Earth elemental character, which is reflected by her Divine Artes. Her weapon of choice is a parasol, a new introduction to the Tales weapon family.
Players will be able to slay evil beings, work suspiciously alongside humans, and train with the dragons in the fantasy world soon. Tales of Zestiria will launch worldwide for the PlayStation 3 in 2015. No word has been given so far on specific release dates among different regions.
Edit: Fixed incorrect year.
Now that all the commotion is over for WildStar's big coming out party -- launch date announcement, preorder information revealed, NDA for the close beta ends, press previews published -- I wanted to wrap up my thoughts in a more casual fashion. I've written my fill on specific features and content and now I want to provide a more general overview of the game, my impressions of it and what it's outlook is for the future.
What WildStar is, no matter Carbine tries to pitch it as or what the press tries turn it into, is an MMO made for MMO players. Virtually every system and feature in WildStar is grounded in the core gameplay experiences built by its theme park MMO predecessors, from EverQuest and World of Warcraft to more modern MMOs like Star Wars: The Old Republic and even TERA. With those fundamentals WildStar is able to do very interesting things, but that doesn't change the fact that at its heart WildStar is an MMO for MMO lovers.
Check out the rest of my extensive WildStar Coverage published earlier today:
- WildStar launches June 3
- WildStar preorders star March 19
- WildStar Preview: Warplots, Battlegrounds, and Arenas
- WildStar Preview: Raids, Dungeons and Adventures
Level 1 is going to be WildStar's make or break point, much like other MMOs. Players will be flooded with content as they're introduced to basic quest and story structure, paths, crafting, and early access to PvP, Shiphands and so on. The fact that all of this content is scaled so early game content is quite tepid and menial, building into the complex late-game systems meant to carry the game, compounds the fact that early game is overwhelmingly uninteresting.
Hopefully players quickly focus in on specific gameplay that they're interested in, allowing them to skip by things otherwise time consuming in favor of progressing in meaningful content. Personally, I found myself skipping the meaningful content in favor of simply question just so I could progress to more challenging and compelling content. There's no solution for this. It's part of the theme park MMO experience that time investment becomes growth in both progression and overall enjoyment. The roller coaster drops and spins don't mean anything without the climb... or the wait in line.
WildStar's saving grace is that it has the best combat that I've played since Final Fantasy XI's launch. It features the mobility and skill-shots of the growing in popularity Korean MMO market mixed with the sensibilities and visual conveyance that western MMOs perform exceedingly well. Most of all, WildStar's combat just feels good -- even at low levels. Thank goodness WildStar's Elder Game is well-tuned to showcase the combat system in a myriad of was, via Raids, Dungeons, Adventures in PvE and Warplots, Battlegrounds and Arenas in PvE. Early game, of course, lacks all of this content. It's Carbine Studio's burden, I believe, to do a better job representing their combat system before players give up on it due to the traditional MMO grind.
Should gamers manage to struggle past the early game, by far the weakest portion of WildStar, they'll discover increasingly exciting content and rewards. Instanced PvP and PvE content will unlock every so many levels and ultimately players will reach the Elder Game. If it wasn't clear to me before, after Carbine's press event it definitely rang true -- WildStar is an end-game focused MMO. Judging from what I've seen of said end-game, players have a lot to look forward to.
Whatever your opinion may be on the value of 40-player content due to it being inaccessible to most players, if anyone has the opportunity then they should try very hard to do participate. All of WildStar's complex systems come together for Raids and Warplots in ways that give a uniqueness to the game. It's not only exciting as a prospective player, but promising. If this is WildStar's launch content, then what do the developers have planned for their monthly content patches?
For players that won't ever reach Raids or Warplots, there's a ton of supplementary content that looks very cool too. Housing looks like an awesome time sink that's just straight fun, but also has huge rewards for min-maxers. Crafting, which is inherently a niche system, looks well supported by the dev team and thus should be viable even if it doesn't turn out to be fun. I'd be pining for Dungeons, where boss fights look like great fun, if I hadn't seen Raids already and thus have been drawn to the larger, brighter light.
I could list each systems and say why they're interesting, but the point should be clear -- these are all terms MMO players have heard of before. All Carbine has done is recognize their importance to this type of MMO and focused in on making them fun and cool in a WildStar way. There's very little new here for experienced MMO players. WildStar is just the next iteration on this sort of MMO -- which is a great thing. It's a game MMO players should be excited to play. Everyone else, well, never say never.
Personally I hope WildStar finds a substantial audience, a chunk of World of Warcraft's aging or retired population is most likely. I don't really think The Elder Scrolls Online's release will affect it in a dramatic way, though if it does I expect it to be a positive impact rather than a negative one. Nothing like an MMO trying not to be an MMO to remind gamers that true MMOs are still great gun. It's hard to tell these days, however, what with the growing wave of free-to-play demands, which grosses me out. They want free to play, they shouldn't be surprised when they get worse MMOs. I almost want WildStar to succeed beyond expectations just so I can know this type of MMO still has a livespan in the modern MMO market.
That's how I stand on WildStar -- wary, but hopeful. Hopefully at least 39 other courageous souls will join me in the Elder Game so we can do the 40-man Raid.
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One Piece: Unlimited World Red will be bringing Luffy and crew to North America. The fearsome pirate Straw Hat decided that Japan didn't have enough booty, so he's coming to loot and pillage the Western world on PS3, Wii U, Vita, and 3DS later in 2014.
Developed by Ganbarion and published by Bandai Namco Games, based on the One Piece manga, One Piece: Unlimited World Red will take you on an adventure with Luffy and company. Be prepared to fight Rob Lucci, Caesar Clown, and more of your favorite and maybe not so favorite One Piece villains. All while performing flashy combos and using quick reflexes to counter, dodge, and give villains a swift Sanji kick in the rear.
When the going gets tough, call some friends over for local co-op action. 3DS and Vita players can link up with up to three people for local wireless multiplayer action while PS3 and Wii U owners can enjoy some good old fashioned split screen multiplayer. Various mini games will be available too, because fishing and bug catching are more fun with friends than by yourself.
One Piece: Unlimited World Red will be available at physical retail locations and digital download for PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS later in 2014, while Vita and Wii U will be digital only releases.
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- RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile revealed, teases social features sure to make fans cry 
- EverQuest turns 15 this weekend and skips the cake for presents 
- Welcome Decapre to the Ultra Street Fighter IV roster, another of Bison's dolls like Cammy 
- The Walking Dead: Season 2 - Episode 3 'In Harm's Way' is coming soon, says Telltale 
- February NPD Number Crunch: Xbox One almost catches up to PS4 
- Ragnarok Odyssey ACE day-one DLC revealed, try these fancy new duds 
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn's 2.2 'Through the Maelstrom' patch teased, Leviathan stirs 
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate HD is headed to PC, screenshots show how it will look 
- Nintendo wants you to have Pokemon X or Y for free next month 
- Rumor: Final Fantasy VII remake could be a reality 
- Nintendo DS and Wii 'Wi-Fi Connection Service' discontinuation May 20, end of online play 
- Microsoft could offer targeted political ads on Xbox LIVE in the US 
- Limited Xbox One Titanfall bundle costs $499, Europe bundle drops price to Â£399.99 
- 5.3 million PlayStation 4 units sold, officially the fastest selling PlayStation console ever