Wednesday, May 13
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.
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.
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?
Insomniac's PS4 Ratchet & Clank 're-imagination' pushed to spring 2016, film hits theaters next April 29
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
It's basically the same Madden everyone remembers, just like fans want
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.
Just Dance will still be released on last-generation consoles
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.
Blizzard developers answer fan questions on Reddit regarding the patch
Another massive update hits Heroes of the Storm just before the game reaches open beta next week, adding Kael'thas, balance changes to existing heroes, and an improved user interface.
Kael'thas is a ranged assassin hero from the Warcraft series, with skills that specialize in area of effect damage and forcing enemies out of position. Like the other new additions to the Nexus, the Sun King costs 15,000 gold or $9.99 or unlock. A bundle that includes Kael'thas and his Stormpunk skin is available at a 25 percent discount throughout the week. Blizzard also created a hero spotlight video to demonstrate the Lord of the Blood Elves in action.
A major change was made to player level progression as well, one that was heavily requested by fans. Once players reach level 25, all talents will be unlocked for every hero. Previously, being locked out of a hero's talent selection despite being a high level player was a major complaint. Players will also now gain 1,000 gold upon completing the game's three tutorials.
17 of the game's 35 existing heroes have received tweaks with the recent patch as well. Characters like Tassadar and Nova only saw minor changes while Diablo and E.T.C have significantly reworked talent pools to choose from. Some talents that are available to multiple heroes have been changed as well. It's notable a few of the warrior-class heroes like Sonya and Muradin received buffs, as those characters have been underused competitively.
Blizzard developers also answered fan questions on Reddit, mainly concerning today's huge update. However, game designer Kent-Erik Hagman still responded to a question regarding StarCraft heroes and he assures fans that more characters from that franchise are on the way. Fellow designer John Hodgson gave some insight into the process of creating characters for Heroes of the Storm.
- What Hero are we excited about internally? Who do we really want to see in the game, and for what reason? Does the community really want to see this Hero? If we answer those questions, we've got a good start.
- We begin design. What's the fantasy behind this Hero? How can we deliver on that fantasy for players?
- We iterate on abilities based on lots of gameplay considerations and testing. What's fun about these abilities? Do they feel impactful? Does my moment-to-moment engagement with the game feel good by playing this Hero?
- We work on the Talents. How do we allow this Hero to progress? What are they allowed to do, and what are they not allowed to do? Are their options for different kinds of players and playstyles covered?
- All the while, we balance, lightly at first while things are coalescing together, then much more heavily as we near release. Does the character FEEL overpowered while not actually BEING overpowered? Are some Talents obviously better for the same purpose?
Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard's first foray into the MOBA genre with a heavy focus fast paced team fights and map objectives. The game enters public beta testing May 19 with a full release on June 2.
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Assassin's Creed Syndicate has only officially existed for a day, but already Ubisoft has four different special editions available for your pre-order pleasure. Assuming you either live in the UK or don't mind buying games off of Uplay.
Let it be known that Syndicate does come in a standard edition, for anyone who would rather not shell out any extra money for this year's release. From there, however, the prices only get higher and the content arguably better.
The first tier above standard is the Assassin's Creed Gold Edition, or "Special Edition" in some regions. Priced an additional $30, this version includes the season pass for a total of $90, though Ubisoft has yet to detail what the pass entails. In the UK, the special edition also comes with an extra outfit, though North American retailer GameStop has no such bonus listed. What GameStop does offer is a physical Shilling Necklace in addition to the standard pre-order DLC, the Darwin and Dickens Conspiracy add-on.
Three collector's editions are also available on top of the standard and Gold versions, so let's go through them from least to most expensive. Note that two have only been listed for the UK, while the third is a Uplay exclusive. The USD equivalents are also rounded up.
The Rooks Edition, priced at £60 ($95), comes packed inside a collector's box. This edition comes with a small artbook, a physical map of London, the Assassin's Creed Syndicate soundtrack, and two pieces of DLC, including the Darwin and Dickens Conspiracy mission and Runaway Train DLC.
Next is the Charing Cross Edition at £74 ($117). This comes with everything listed for the Rooks Edition and throws in a 10" figurine of Jacob Frye, Syndicate's main protagonist. Too bad Evie, his sister and supposedly playable female character, isn't featured in any way.
Although the Rooks Edition above was found only on UK retail sites, the Charing Cross Edition is actually a GAME exclusive.
Still with me? Good, because I'm moving onto the ultimate Big Ben Edition, at £115 ($181) and boasting the most stereotypical name ever. For the price, you'll be getting everything named in the Rook Edition and Charing Cross Edition, along with the season pass. Physical bonuses exclusive to the Big Ben Edition include a hip flask, numbered lithograph, and a 12" Jacob Frye statue. Two special boxes hold the game and the goods.
Sounds like a must-have for diehard Assassin's Creed fans still loyal to the franchise. Unfortunately, this version also happens to be a Uplay exclusive.
Now I haven't personally grabbed an Assassin's Creed collector's edition since Ezio's debut, but this might be the first time Ubisoft is offering two different statues based on exclusivity.
If you've digested everything so far, comes just a day after Assassin's Creed Syndicate was announced. The upcoming installment in Ubisoft's annual mega-franchise is expected to come out October 23 and boasts the first playable female character in the main series, if only for a small chunk of the entire game.
Assassin's Creed Syndicate will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The PC version, unfortunately, hasn't been dated yet.
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Let's hope the Wii U and 3DS line-up for 2015 is impressive too
Today Nintendo revealed their plans for E3, which wil lbe starting in just just over a month on June 16, which again reach beyond the event itself to better connect with their audience. That includes the second year of an all-digital E3 press conference, as well as a continued partnership with Best Buy to bring at least a bit of that E3 excitement across North America. This year Nintendo is adding something extra to the E3 mix though, announcing today that they're bringing back the decades-old Nintendo World Championships. The contest will start on May 30 at assorted Best Buy Locations within the USA, with the finals being held on June 14 before E3.
The Nintendo World Championships, for those unfamiliar, was a 1990 event where Nintendo toured North America holding a contest where kids and adults competed in three games: Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer and Tetris. Winners in each city, 30 in total, went on to compete in a grand finals event which resulted in three overall winners, one in each age category. While the details regarding 2015's Nintendo World Championships have yet to be announced, expect it to have a somewhat similar format. Expect different age groups to compete across several games for a chance at competing in a larger overall North American event.
That's just one part of Nintendo's E3 plans though. As mentioned earlier Nintendo's press conference will be all-digital again, airing at 9:00am PT on June 16 (which happens to be when Square Enix is airing their press conference). Then there's the Nintendo Treehouse, which will be airing interviews and hands-on demos throughout E3 online. Then, as another part of their partnership with Best Buy, Mario Maker will be playable at various locations. Then, just to reiterate, the Nintendo World Championships finals will air on June 14 prior to E3. It'll be a week-long affair for Nintendo. Let's just hope their Wii U and 3DS line-up is more exciting than their marketing surrounding the event.
Details regarding Nintendo's Best Buy partnerships, including locations for both the Nintendo World Championships and the Mario Maker Access events, will be released in the weeks ahead. Check out this goofy video made by the Nintendo of North America teams regarding bringing back the huge tournament. Oh Reggie, why is it so funny that you're not funny.
I'm betting Max and Chloe aren't just trying to get their yo-yo back
It took almost two months, but Square Enix and Dontnod have wrapped up work on Life is Strange's third episode. That's at least better than the near three months between episodes one and two! Episode 3: Chaos Theory will be released on the expected platforms, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360, starting May 19. With Episode 3's release, Life is Strange will be crossing the half-way point for its five-episode series. I'd say there's no better time to jump in than now, but the reality is it may be another four months before the final episode is launch so there's really no hurry.
What can fans expect in Chaos Theory? More Max and Chloe hijinx, more powers, and absolutely more mysteries:
"In this next installment of Life is Strange, Max and Chloe’s investigation into Rachel Amber’s disappearance lead them to break into Blackwell Academy after dark, to search for answers. Secrets will be uncovered and Max will find another use for her power."
Unfortunately there's no trailer for the third episode at this time, as Square Enix will likely release one next week closer to the episode's launch. Instead, we've been provided a single screenshot. I suppose that's a healthy middle ground between hyping the episode and avoiding spoilers as much as possible. In our screenshot we see misfit Chloe, who we know is a rebel because of her hair, piercings and bracelets, picking the lock on Principal Ray Wells' office. Picking locks is a skill all misfits have. What are Max and Chloe hunting for? Odds are it's not a confiscated yo-yo. Not unless it has some magical time-bending powers, at least.
Life is Strange is one of those really special experiences to come along that really surprises you. Sure, it's obviously a bit derivative of the adventure gameplay that Telltale has hammered out with The Walking Dead, but Life is Strange is free from the trappings of expectation that those games are limited by. Folk familiar with The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and so on know exactly what they're getting from the games. In many ways, the bravest moments of the games are already explored (and better explored) in their origin materials. Life is Strange is wonderful, original, and so refreshing.
Life is Strange Ep. 3: Chaos Theory will be released on May 19 for the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360.
Tuesday, May 12
Net Articles Summary
Guitar Hero Live tracklist expands to 24 with weekly reveal, including Rolling Stones and The Killers
Guitar Hero Live will be the first Guitar Hero game in over five years, and today we have the first 24 songs on its tracklist. Freestyle Games plans to reveal more in the coming weeks, of course, so rest assured that these songs aren't the only ones available at launch.
The initial list already starts off strong, including music from The Rolling Stones, Skrillex, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, and more. Seriously, you're bound to like something within these 24 tracks.
The Guitar Hero from ten years ago certainly isn't the same game we'll be getting with Guitar Hero Live, after all, thanks to the ever-shifting music scene. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Freestyle's creative director and studio owner Jamie Jackson described the studio's intention of exploring more than just one type of music for the newest Guitar Hero game:
"This is something we gave a load of thought to. Guitar Hero – by its name alone – has always been associated with classic rock tracks. And we know fans really love that type of music. So we wanted to make sure those fans weren't disappointed. But it's been 10 years since the first Guitar Hero game came out. When you think of it like that, and think about how much the musical landscape has changed since then – that's where we've been able to explore some new types of musical style as well. Guitar music is broader than it's ever been – so we're reflecting that in the range of music on offer."
Now without further interruption, here are the first 24 songs on the Guitar Hero Live tracklist. Expect the game to come out later this year for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and 3DS.
- Judas Priest - "Breaking the Law"
- Pantera - "Cowboys From Hell"
- Alter Bridge - "Cry of Achilles"
- Rage Against the Machine - "Guerrilla Radio"
- Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Higher Ground"
- Sleigh Bells - "Bitter Rivals"
- System of a Down - "Chop Suey!"
- Black Veil Brides - "In The End"
- The Pretty Reckless - "Going to Hell"
- Broken Bells - "Leave it Alone"
- Alt-J - "Left Hand Free"
- The Rolling Stones - "Paint it Black"
- My Chemical Romance - "Na Na Na"
- Fall Out Boy - "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)"
- Green Day - "Nuclear Family"
- Pierce the Veil - "King for a Day (feat. Kellin Quinn)"
- Blitz Kids - "Sometimes"
- The Black Keys - "Gold on the Ceiling"
- The Killers - "When You Were Young"
- Gary Clark Jr. - "Don't Owe You a Thang"
- The War on Drugs - "Under The Pressure"
- The Lumineers - "Ho Hey"
- Ed Sheeran - "Sing"
- Skrillex - "Bangarang"
Weird to think that The Division was meant to first come out in 2014, eh?
Ubisoft is still hard at work on the post-apocalyptic, near-future multiplayer shooter The Division, even bringing on another one of their internal studios recently to help spread out the workload. However, now it's become clear that the extra hands on deck is necessary because the workload may have grown a bit out of scope. Today Ubisoft confirmed that they'd no longer be able to meet their initial 2015 release date and that The Division would now be planned for early 2016.
Considering that Ubisoft has not shown The Division in any significant way since, well it must have been last year's E3, I doubt too many are surprised to hear about its delay. The game is more than Ubisoft has ever delivered in a multiplayer experience before, being fully online and perpetually multiplayer. Considering just how popular (and profitable) comparable experiences like Destiny have been, Ubisoft would be silly to waste the opportunity and release an unfinished product. Hopefully they'll bring the game around to this year's E3 so we can see just how progress is going, or whether the game's been scaled back in any significant ways.
As far as potential reasons why development might have hit a hitch, one only has to look back to the Assassin's Creed franchise. Considering how dependent many of Ubisoft's major titles are on other game and franchises within the company, it wouldn't be surprising to hear that The Division may have had similar content to say Assassin's Creed Unity. So after the backlash revolving around the property became rather overwhelming, or at least the server issues grew apparent, Ubisoft went back to the drawing board for some content or server implementation.
There's also a possible second reason for the delay that's unrelated to how development is progressing. After last year's Assassin's Creed title underwhelmed, and yes that's a gross understatement for the response to Unity, Ubisoft could thing that it has to get its feet back under it with this year's iteration. With Assassin's Creed being the back-bone of Ubisoft's year-to-year gaming schedule, there's only so many disappointing released before the franchise loses its value in the public eye. Well, more value than it has already lost with the past few games. Pushing The Division into 2016 gives Ubisoft the ability to focus a bit more on Assassin's Creed while also giving it the spotlight for the holiday 2015 season.
All of the above ramblings on The Division's delay are purely speculation of course, because publishers like Ubisoft rarely provide any reasoning or context for delays. Hell, they rarely even call them delays. One thing is for sure though, more development time means a better The Division when it's finally launched in early 2016. Expect more information on the online multiplayer shooter in the months to come.
- Steam, under community pressure, adds refund system 
- Bethesda just dropped a massive Fallout 4 teaser counting down to everyone's hopes and dreams 
- Next Destiny expansion 'The Taken King' might have just been outed by Red Bull promotion 
- Nintendo debunks Android for NX rumors 
- LEGO Worlds, a Minecraft inspired open world with brick building, is now on Steam Early Access 
- League of Legends to release Prehistoric skins, including a new dinosaur version of Anivia 
- Firaxis rearms with XCOM 2, 20 years after humanity lost to the aliens 
- Rise of the Tomb Raider CG trailer makes Lara Croft into a rising legend