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Thursday, May 14

April NPD Number Crunch: Mortal Kombat X marks the spot

2 comments Leo Chan - 4:51pm (PST) Like Share

Xbox One also steals hardware sales lead from PS4

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Turns out April's showers were the bloody kind, as the NPD Group confirms that Mortal Kombat X was the top selling game at U.S. retail last month. Critics hailed the tenth official installment as a fine return to form for the long-running fighting series known for its over-the-top and darkly humorous depictions of violence, but Mortal Kombat X also got to lead a month of improved spending from consumers.

Physical game and hardware sales for the month of April were slighty up three percent year-over-year at $595.7 million USD, and much of that was attributed to game sales this time around. Software sales leapt 13 percent to $256.7 million from the same period last year. Unfortunately, total console hardware sales at U.S. retail would fall 4 percent to $183.9 million in April, continuing the trend from last month though the year-over-year drop was not as severe.

PS4-exclusive Bloodborne fell off the NPD software top ten completely after a second place finish in March, but the spirit lives on with Dark Souls II making a comeback through the multiplatform release of Scholar of the First Sin. The rest of the software chart would be occupied by old faithfuls like Grand Theft Auto V, and even Super Smash Bros. gets another opportunity to shine.

Microsoft confirms that the Xbox One manages to end the PS4's streak as best-selling console once again, with hardware sales jumping 63 percent year-over-year last month. Sony maintains its eighth-gen console commands the better lifetime-to-date sales by far, and PlayStation platforms as a whole still led software sales during April 2015.

April 2015 Top Ten Software Sales
  Game Publisher Platform Release
1. Mortal Kombat X Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment PS4 / Xbox One 04/2015
2. Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar PS4 / Xbox One / PC / Xbox 360 / PS3 11/2014
3. Battlefield: Hardline Electronic Arts Xbox One / PS4 / Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC 03/2015
4. MLB 15: The Show Sony Computer Entertainment PS4 / PS3 / Vita 03/2015
5. Minecraft 4J Studios Xbox 360 / PS3 / Xbox One / PS4 / PC 11/2014
6. NBA 2K15 2K Games Xbox One / PS4 / Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC 10/2014
7. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Activision Xbox One / PS4 / Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC 11/2014
8. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin Bandai Namco Games PS4 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 / PS3 04/2015
9. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS / Wii U Nintendo 3DS / Wii U 10/2014
10. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection 2K Games PS4 / Xbox One 03/2015

Destiny Expansion II: House of Wolves official trailer touches on everything from Shadow Thief to PVP

3 comments Lydia Sung - 12:32pm (PST) Like Share

Who needs a new raid anyway?

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Destiny Expansion II: House of Wolves is less than a week away, so to make sure Guardians stay sufficiently hyped, Bungie has a new trailer. Apparently it's the official trailer, too.

Opening with a segment from the first teaser cinematic, in which we hear a very angry Queen of the Reef explain her people's situation, the video then goes on to highlight every major addition with House of Wolves. While the expansion won't be adding a new raid, it does contribute plenty of content, including the all-new "Prison of Elders" cooperative mode.

Of course the Reef appears in this summary trailer as well, giving a brief preview of the new upcoming social hub. PVPers will have new maps added to their playlists, on top of the Dark Below multiplayer maps, which will be made available for free once House of Wolves drops. For the truly dedicated PVP fans, the "Trials of Osiris" will be a true test of skill and teamwork, pitting teams of three against one another in an Elimination mode.

A new Strike, "The Shadow Thief," will be part of the new content. Guardians are tasked with tracking down a vicious Fallen mercenary, one likely connected to the traitors in the Reef.

Expansion II: House of Wolves arrives May 19 for all consoles. Hold onto your butts.


Konami officially shifting focus from consoles to mobile gaming

114 comments Andy Lau - 10:59am (PST) Like Share

The company sees mobile as the "future of gaming"

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Konami has dropped home consoles as its main focus in favor of mobile devices. While console revenue continues to decline for the Japanese developer, Konami president Hideki Hayakawa believes there plenty of opportunities in the mobile sector.

The Metal Gear publisher sees smart devices as its primary platform moving forward. In an interview with Nikkei Trendy Net, translated by a user on NeoGAF, Hayakawa detailed the company's huge shift.

"Gaming has spread to a number of platforms, but at the end of the day, the platform that is always closest to us, is mobile. Mobile is where the future of gaming lies. We hope that our overseas games such as Metal Gear Solid V and Winning Eleven continue to do well, but we are always thinking about how to push our franchises onto mobile there too. With multiplatform games, there's really no point in dividing the market into categories anymore. Mobiles will take on the new role of linking the general public to the gaming world."

The announcement follows weeks of significant changes within Konami. The company had recently cancelled Silent Hills, a highly-anticipated collaboration with film director Guillermo del Toro. Veteran game designer Hideo Kojima, who previously created Konami's long-running Metal Gear series, is expected to depart from the company.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the only global console release scheduled this year for Konami. Compare that to 2012, where the company released six new titles, not including two HD collections of Silent Hill and Zone of the Enders. Konami Digital Entertainment saw a seven percent decline in revenue last year. Meanwhile, its mobile titles like Power Pro and Winning Eleven are thriving.

Mobile gaming has an enormous market around the world, but especially in Japan where it has outgrossed console games by a large margin. Japanese-developed mobile titles like like Monster Strike and Puzzle & Dragons each generate an estimated $3-4 million in daily revenue. Even Nintendo, which previously had a stance of avoiding smart devices, will be releasing mobile games beginning at the end of this year.


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launch cinematic is a brutal showdown between Geralt and seductress

7 comments Lydia Sung - 10:55am (PST) Like Share

NSFW on account of undead nudity

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A Witcher's job is never easy. In a new launch cinematic for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt faces down a dangerous creature that goes from seductress to naked-feral-undead monster in about two seconds. And interestingly enough, this might be the first time we see a cinematic trailer effectively and accurately reflect what a game is like.

Intense camera angles aside, "A Night to Remember" can actually be a real mission from any of the Witcher games. Geralt takes a job from some frightened villagers, hunts down his quarry, and must make a quick decision on whether he should attack. If anything, the trailer is probably more straightforward than this hypothetical quest.

The resulting monster looks somewhat like a drowner but acts more like a siren. She's also incredibly dangerous, evidenced by her remark that Witchers past wouldn't have taken on a job to hunt something of her nature. Geralt must use all his combat prowess to come out victorious.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes out on May 19 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Note that the trailer below does feature some undead nudity.


Wednesday, May 13

Overwatch's robo-support Zenyatta gets an introductory video

1 comments Rory Young - 11:04pm (PST) Like Share

Zen + yatta = floating Buddhist robot, got it

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Fun fact, but Zenyatta is the name of a racehorse that won 19 out of 20 of her races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic of 2009. It's also the name, or at least part of Zenyatta Mondatta, an album from The Police in 1980. Either or could be the inspiration for Blizzard's newly introduced character in their FPS, Overwatch. Personally, I like to think that it's just a combination of the words "zen," a Buddhist principle, and "yatta," a Japanese celebratory exclamation meaning, "I did it!" It's the kind of oddball creative process fans expect from Blizzard these days. But it's probably from The Police.

Zenyatta is a floating Buddhist robot, at first look. Okay, Zenyatta is still a floating Buddhist robot all  of the time -- not just at first look. As a support character, Zenyatta is tasked with playing from the backline in order to find better value from his healing and debuff skills. Similar to how other characters need to stay alive in order for them to output damage, Zenyatta must live so that his buffs remain consistently up. That is why Zenyatta's ultimate ability makes him impervious to all damage, while refilling his health to full. Yet don't disrespect Zenyatta's damage. As shown in his gameplay introduction, his buffs make him better able to be a constant pain in the enemy team's side.

Let's get into specifics about Zenyatta's abilities. Keep in mind that playable characters in Overwatch have a sort of base attack alteration or booster, two activatable skills, and an ultimate ability that in Zenyatta's case charges over time. Here's all four of those abilities' descriptions:

  • ORB OF DESTRUCTION - Zenyatta projects his destructive energy orbs either individually, or in a rapid-fire volley after a few seconds spent gathering power.
  • ORB OF HARMONY - Zenyatta casts an orb over the shoulder of a targeted ally. So long as Zenyatta remains alive, the orb slowly restores health to his ally. Only one ally can receive the orb's benefit at a time.
  • ORB OF DISCORD - Attaching the orb of discord to an opponent amplifies the amount of damage they receive for as long as Zenyatta lives. Only one opponent can suffer the orb's effects at a time.
  • TRANSCENDENCE (Ultimate) - Zenyatta enters a state of heightened existence for a short period of time. While transcendent, Zenyatta cannot use abilities or weapons, but is immune to damage and automatically restores his health and that of nearby allies.

Zenyatta isn't exactly brand new, as all Overwatch characters up to this point were revealed when the game was initially announced. Still, it's great to hear the specifics about the floating robot monk that's always hanging around in the background throwing glowing balls at everyone. With 14 characters revealed so far, but concept art around the internet showing off over 40 different potential additions, there's a lot to look forward to in Overwatch's future. For now though, I'm happy with my monk robot. No promises that I'll remember to write about all of these crazy heroes and villains. Maybe just the support roles!

Overwatch is Blizzard's free-to-play FPS coming exclusively to PC in the next year. Expect a beta to go live this fall, at the least, followed by a likely expanding beta inevitably leading to a launch whenever it's ready. Get hyped, Team Fortress 2 fans.

Categories: PC Games

PS Vita/PS3 tactical RPG Lost Dimension arrives bearing gifts July 28

3 comments Rory Young - 10:24pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Only a few gifts though, the rest will cost extra

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Atlus' localization of Lancarse's tactical RPG, Lost Dimension, now has a release date. The PlayStation 3 and PS Vita title will be another breath of fresh air for fans of Japanese RPGs, especially the wave of newer sci-fi, anime-styled RPGs that seem to be in otaku-culture's eye these days. Lost Dimension even features visual novel elements, so don't all rush out to pre-order at once, now. The game is still a few months away from launch, as it'll arrive on July 28 and not a day before. To help with the wait Atlus put together a trailer along with a special DLC announcement.

For two weeks after launch, meaning not tied to a pre-order or any other sort of purchase beyond the game itself, Atlus will make a large amount of DLC for Lost Dimension completely free. There will still apparently be other microtransactions still available -- consumables that boost  experience, gold or event stats, and status boosters which help raise stats allowing for more usage of skills in combat. Whoa, who even cares about the free DLC. What's with this paid DLC? This is like they opened the book of "Gross DLC" and took all the options. It sounds more like a mobile game at this point, but it definitely costs $39.99 up front. Oof.

Back to the free DLC, I guess. The "$20 of free DLC" will include the following:

  • 9 Character Costumes
  • 12 PSN Icons
  • 3 DLC Quests
  • Map Set w/ Story

Remember, remember that the DLC is only available for two weeks after launch. After that point, I expect the price on all of the above to jump back up to absurd levels.

Just like Atlus will be giving each of us a gift with their free DLC in the midst of ugly, terrible microtransactions, so have the characters of Lost Dimension been given gifts. As shown in today's new trailer, each character has a power of sorts. Magnetism, telepathy, they're all unique and should be fun no matter what the player's party composition. Be careful though, because there's a traitor in your team's midst and it'll be up to you to figure out who. Don't worry about spoilers though, because the traitor is randomly generated with each playthrough.

Lost Dimension will be available starting July 28 for PS Vita and PlayStation 3. Free DLC for two weeks after launch. New trailer. Disappointing DLC. Video games, everybody.


Newest League of Legends champ Ekko detailed with gameplay footage, revealed to be a skirmisher

2 comments Lydia Sung - 8:22pm (PST) Like Share

Gotta go fast! GOTTA GO FAST!

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Today, Riot dropped the full details on Ekko, the latest League of Legends champion. He may not be in the game yet, but anyone who enjoys a fast-paced play style might enjoy what the devs have in store.

Ekko won't bring the burst some champs can, but he has a very quick and tactical style about him, making this young citizen of Zaun an effective skirmisher. Of course, as his teaser trailer noted, the kid boasts some pretty cool time manipulation skills. Step aside, Zilean, there's a new Doctor in the making.

His kit reflects a very movile champion who relies heavily on slow fields, and you can see them below in full glorious detail. One ability can grant Ekko a shield, but overall, he looks to be a rather squishy fighter. His passive is also remarkably similar to Braum's.

Passive: Z-Drive Resonance

Ekko's damaging spells and attacks build up Resonance stacks on his enemies. Every third attack against the same target triggers Ekko’s passive, dealing bonus damage and slowing his enemy. If he triggers his passive on an enemy champion, Ekko also gains a strong movement speed buff.

Q: Timewinder

Ekko throws a device in a target direction, damaging all enemies along its path. Once it reaches max distance or hits an enemy champion, the device expands, creating a field that slows all enemy and neutral units. After a moment, the device contracts and rushes back to Ekko, dealing extra damage to all enemies in its path.

W: Parallel Convergence

Passive: Ekko’s basic attacks deal bonus damage to low health targets.

Active: Ekko opens a time rift, creating an alternate reality copy of him that tosses a device to a target location. After a delay, the device expands into a broad slowing zone. If Ekko enters the sphere, it detonates, granting him a shield while stunning all enemies inside.

E: Phase Dive

Ekko dashes a fixed distance towards a target area. Once his initial dash has ended, Ekko gains greatly increased range on his next basic attack, and blinks to his target to deal damage and apply on-hit and spell effects.

R: Chronobreak

Ekko rewinds time, briefly turning untargetable and invulnerable before reappearing wherever he was a few seconds ago. Once he reappears, Ekko recovers a portion of the health he lost over those few seconds while dealing tons of damage to all nearby enemies.

The first thought that comes to mind? Ekko isn't the most straightforward champion when it comes to execution, and timing seems more important than usual. Riot has already named Gnar, Vi, and Draven as effective teammates; LeBlanc, Fiora, and Graves are his potential nemeses.

A more detailed rundown of Ekko's gameplay can be found on his official League of Legends page. Think this is a champion you'll be buying day one?

Categories: PC Games

Insomniac's PS4 Ratchet & Clank 're-imagination' pushed to spring 2016, film hits theaters next April 29

6 comments Rory Young - 7:28pm (PST) Like Share

Great voice acting casting news for the film, too

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Insomniac Games has delayed the release of their forthcoming "re-imagination" of the original Ratchet & Clank game, pushing it out of 2015 an into spring of 2016. The delay comes alongside a similar push for the CG Ratchet & Clank film currently in production at Rainmaker Entertainment, which will arrive in theaters care of Focus Features on April 29, 2016. To help make the game's delay a little more palatable Insomniac confirmed that not only would Ratchet & Clank feature entirely updated visuals specific to PS4 hardware, but also additional levels and content.

Ryan Schneider, Chief Brand Officer of Insomniac, provided this prepared marketing spiel on what sort of updates Ratchet & Clank fans can expect from the update:

"While you might have to wait a bit longer than expected, rest assured we’re using the time wisely to further polish the game to a spit-shine level, with dazzling shader response, awe-inspiring effects, velvety smooth animations, and spectacular new gameplay segments. Really, we can’t wait to show it to you."

Keep in mind that the game, along with being an origin story for Ratchet & Clank, will now also have to complement the film. I'd say that we can expect much of the new content to work towards that goal, either introducing content the movie will then further elaborate on or refocusing on themes that are better captures in a non-interactive environment. Hopefully Insomniac doesn't deviate too far from the ideas that made made the original Ratchet & Clank so dear to so many in favor of building up the movie. But if Insomniac can pull off something that makes both the movie and game better, then more power too them.

Speaking about the movie, there were also some additional details shared on that which might appeal to the gaming side of the equation. Part of the voice acting cast for the movie has been shared, including such stars as Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rosario Dawson and wait for it -- Sylvester Stallone. Pretty astonishing cast, no? But the best news, and a hugely admirable choice from the film's creative team, is that all four of Ratchet & Clank's stars from the game will be voiced by their original game actors. Ratchet, Clank, Nefarious and Captain Quark will retain their dulcet tones.

Ryan closed out by ensuring fans that more would be shared about the Ratchet & Clank PS4 re-imagining later this year. There were no promises that the game would pop up at E3, but I'm personally keeping my fingers crossed. Expect the Ratchet & Clank game to be released in spring 2016, with film arriving in theaters on April 29, 2016.


Madden NFL 16's first look 'Be the Playmaker' trailer accompanies Odell Beckham Jr.'s cover confirmation

3 comments Rory Young - 6:06pm (PST) Like Share

It's basically the same Madden everyone remembers, just like fans want

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EA Tiburon is back, another year and another Madden. Today they shared their first look at Madden NFL 16, a first look trailer titled "Be the Playmaker" which shows off some of the stars of recent NFL past. The obvious focus for Madden NFL 16 being the recreation of those memorable, live-forever moments that happen every year in the NFL. The reveal accompanies another announcement, that none other than Odell Beckham Jr. has been voted Madden NFL 16's cover star. His win was no stretch, unlike his best catches, as he beat the competition with a close 52.5% of the vote.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Patrick Peterson, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were all up for the prestigious Madden cover (now curse free). Each is shown briefly in the "Playmaker" trailer released today, part of EA's push to advertise its new "Playmaker" technology. This includes systems meant to more accurately portray pass and catch scenarios in-game. This includes quarterback mechanics such as "body-relative" throws and improved "touch and roll out passes." On the receiving end, a new "risk/reward catch and pass-defend system" has been built to create opportunities like Beckham Jr.'s now legendary catch of the year from the 2014-2015 season.

Other features include "Playmaker Broadcast" technology to improve edits and cuts for those uploading their plays online, or just excited to see their best plays post-game. Connected Franchise mode will allow players to play the role of GM and control their team's every decision, adding more simulation options for fans of the genre. Then there's Madden Ultimate Team, the online, microtransaction-rich mode that lets players build their teams and send them off to play against others with the winner decided at least partially by who spent the most for their team. It'd only be audacious if it was surprising anymore. Still, with games like PES Manager being startlingly popular, it's impossible to fault EA here. There's still plenty of game to play in other areas.

Madden NFL 16 will be available starting August 25 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. Pre-orders for the game are currently available, with preorderers earning 10 "Pro Packs" and a "Playmaker Pack" for use in Madden Ultimate Team. The Playmaker Pack includes an Elite player. Fans can also update to the Deluxe Edition of Madden NFL 16, raising the cost from $59.99 to $69.99 and granting 36 Pro Packs and a Playmaker Pack. I have no idea what any of what I just said means, but I'd recommend waiting to launch to figure out whether Madden NFL 16 is worth picking up at all.


Ubisoft ceases development for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

14 comments Andy Lau - 5:25pm (PST) Like Share (1)

Just Dance will still be released on last-generation consoles

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Ubisoft will not be releasing any more games on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, with the exception of the Just Dance series. While this may be sad news for gamers, this means future Ubisoft titles will no longer be held back by hardware restrictions of the older consoles.

More developers are ditching support for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to focus on getting more from curren-gen platforms. Ubisoft premiered the first footage of Assassin's Creed Syndicate yesterday and its upcoming MMO The Division was recently delayed to early 2016.

During a recent company’s earnings call with investors, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot confirmed the company would be focusing on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC development in the future. In Guillemot's own words:

"On Just Dance, we will continue to bring old-gen console versions. But on the other products like Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six, The Division, and the unannounced franchise, we will not have old-gen versions."

2015 will mark the first year without an Assassin's Creed title being launched on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 since the series began in 2007. The Wii U was not mentioned in Guillemot's statement and Ubisoft's support of the console remains unclear. Watch Dogs was the last Ubisoft game released on Nintendo's home console.

Additionally, Ubisoft says the "unannounced franchise" mentioned by Guillemot will be revealed later this year, but not at E3. The mystery title is scheduled to be released during Ubisoft's current fiscal year, which ends April 2016.

Categories: Console Games PC Games