Wednesday, Apr 1
Also, vote for who Nintendo should add next
After Mewtwo was announced as a DLC character for Super Smash Bros. on Wii U and 3DS last year, we knew Nintendo had released the kraken. And brother, once you release the kraken you don't get to put it back in its cage. During a special Nintendo Direct today, one Nintendo went out of their way to clarify is not an April Fools' Day joke, Nintendo unveiled plans for their next DLC character -- please welcome Lucas back onto the roster.
Yes, Lucas of Mother 3 fame, an RPG never officially in North America, is back. Lucas was originally added to the Super Smash Bros. roster with Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. Lucas' move-set is similar to Ness' in many regards, not being an entirely built-from-the-ground-up character, but not being a full mirror either. In fact, Lucas' physical attacks are all particularly unique in comparison to Ness. Unfortunately he wasn't balanced particularly well and found little competitive success as a result.
It's not too surprising then to see Lucas making a return as a DLC character. Nintendo will be able to take many of Lucas' animations and effects directly from Ness, cutting down on the overall work for the DLC character. Plus, since everyone expects him to be poorly balanced in the first place, there's no pressure on Nintendo to make him stronger than any standard baseline character on the roster.
Lucas will be joining the the Super Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS rosters this June. On the other hand, Mewtwo is now confirmed for release on April 28. Those who purchased and registered both versions of the game will get him for free as promised. Otherwise, everyone else will be able to download Mewtwo for the price of $3.99 for either platform respectively, or $4.99 for both platforms. It's not clear if this pricing will carry on for Lucas as well.
Nintendo has also published a website where fans can submit their votes for who should next be added to the Super Smash Bros. roster (vote Shovel Knight).
Blizzard continues its April Fools' Day tradtions with jokes spanning almost all their major franchises. Last year we were introduced to Pajamathur, which later became Abathur's alternate skin in Heroes of the Storm and intentionally poor quality Draenei models for World of Warcraft. Now let's take a took at what Blizzard has in store for 2015.
First off, World of Warcraft's prank takes on the dating app Tinder with a Garrison feature called T.I.N.D.R. Followers with T.I.N.D.R Boxes will no longer follow commands and spent hours swiping left and right until they find a companion.
Just because you’re stuck on Draenor fighting a constant, desperate battle for survival doesn’t mean there isn’t time for love. Coming in Patch 6.1.4, we’re introducing a new feature designed to help your Followers locate the perfect complement to their Abilities and Traits—the T.I.N.D.R. Box!
Find companions for your companions, and steer the boat of love to safe harbor.
Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard's new MOBA, sees all characters sporting big heads for the day. This mode makes some characters even more adorable, like Li Li the Pandarean, while other more serious heroes like Arthas look absolutely hilarious with a giant head. Some fans even want this to be a permanent feature that can be toggled on and off.
Although Blizzard didn't make an official blog post for Diablo III, developers snuck in a big head mode for the action RPG as well. Captured by YouTube user Mads Lund, logging on to the public test realm will grant enlarged craniums to the characters of Sanctuary -- even NPCs.
StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void is now in closed beta, and Blizzard took the opportunity to offer a full-sized replica of the Spear of Adun. This massive Protoss flagship features a celestial GPS (though it's noted that Abathur's voice is not included), Solar Core power outlets, and even backseat DVD players. But the best part? The ship is already available to order at a special price of $9,999,998, down from the regular $9,999,999!
The new B'Motes feature was also "announced," offering Battle.net users a new way to converse with friends. It includes emoticons and an Automated Chat Optimization Overlay (AChOO) so you can sound just like your favorite Blizzard heroes.
Finally for Hearthstone, Blizzard takes a jab at the recent trend of HD remasters. Fake patch notes indicate that developers have given classic cards an "HD update" that requires a player rank of 20 to unlock.
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Bard update includes: "bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah"
Prepare yourselves, League of Legends is celebrating April Fools' 2015 with an updated Ultra Rapid Fire mode, now with less healing and more Kassadin and Ryze. Oh, and the store has a new icon priced at 99,999 RP.
With the popularity of last year's U.R.F. mode, Riot brought it back for more hilarity. To keep things interesting, healing and shielding have been scaled back to ensure games go by quicker in this mode. Both Kassadin and Ryze are available this year as well, after sitting 2014's U.R.F. mode out.
Here's a breakdown of this year's Ultra Rapid Fire:
Awesome Buff of Awesomely Awesome Buffing
Because we can.Ultra Rapid Fire is all about turning players into play-makers. Resource costs are thrown out the window (or tuned down dramatically), with concepts like 'Cooldowns' and 'Boots' becoming a thing of the past. Spell-slingers aren't the only ones going Ultra - Attack Speed and Critical Strike multipliers take those wimpy 'hyper-carries' and turn them into Basic-Attacking Beasts as Urf intended. We've also boosted gold gains and tenacity to keep things Rapid Fire while dealing Tons of Damage™.
Removed Mana & Energy Costs: Everything is free.
Health Costs: Reduced by 50%
Cooldown Reduction on EVERYTHING: 80% (Runes, items, masteries and abilities no longer grant cooldown reduction)
Movement Speed +60
Attack Speed Multiplier: +50% (+100% for ranged champions)
Critical Strikes: 200% base damage ⇒ 225% base damage
Gold Gain: 500% the normal amount on Summoner's Rift
TONS OF DAMAGE: Everything deals tons of damage
TONS OF HEALTH: Everything has tons of health
As for that healing nerf, players will find heals less effective early on, with all direct healing effects made 50 percent less effective at "at teh beginning of the game," increasing one percent every 30 seconds to reach 100 percent effectiveness at 25 minutes.
Non-ultimate shields have been scaled back by 50 percent in U.R.F. mode, with the exception of Udyr and Diana (for no real reason). Champions that are affected by the shield nerf are:
- Janna: E - Eye of the Storm scales with 0.7 ⇒ 0.35 ability power
- Karma: E - Inspire scales with 0.5 ⇒ 0.25 ability power (Doesn't affect Mantra Bonus: Defiance)
- Lulu: E - Help, Pix! scales with 0.6 ⇒ 0.3 ability power
- Lux: W - Prismatic Barrier scales with 0.35 ⇒ 0.175 ability power
- Morgana: E - Black Shield scales with 0.7 ⇒ 0.35 ability power
- Nautilus: W - Titan's Wrath scales with 7/9.5/12/14.5/17% ⇒ 3.5/4.75/6/7.25/8.5% of maximum health
- Orianna: E - Command: Protect scales with 0.4 ⇒ 0.2 ability power
- Riven: E - Valor scales with 1.0 ⇒ 0.5 bonus attack damage
- Rumble: W - Scrap Shield scales with 0.4 ⇒ 0.2 ability power
- Shen: W - Feint scales with 0.6 ⇒ 0.3 ability power
- Skarner: W - Crystalline Exoskeleton scales with 0.8 ⇒ 0.4 ability power
- Sona: W - Aria of Perseverance scales with 0.8 ⇒ 0.4 ability power
Junglers will find Smite more fun to use, with the cooldown dropping from 15 to 10 seconds, and the charge rate from 75 to 30 seconds.
The entire list of changes from the April Fools' update is worth checking out, and just about every champion has some hilarious notes attached. Bard's can be summed up with a simple, "bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah." Hecarim apparently requires little more than "helicoptor noises."
Oh, and that 99,999 RP icon of a golden spatula? You can also grab it for 2000 IP.
As Guild Wars 2 powers toward its third anniversary this year, ArenaNet is continuing efforts to combat growing concerns of account fraud. This week, the studio implemented a limit on the amount of gold players can receive and send, both by in-game mail and Guild Vault withdrawals.
The new limit is account based and works on a weekly schedule, resetting every Sunday at 12:01 AM UTC -- that's 5:01 PM PDT or 4:01 PM PST on Saturday. The Trading Post won't be affected by the limit.
So how much gold will you be able to send by mail? The limit is currently 500 gold, with that same amount being the maximum you can accept per account in that week (thus applying to Guild Vault withdrawals as well). If you happen to be sent more gold than the limit allows, you will receive the 500, while the rest will be held until the week resets. Any dedicated Guild Wars 2 player can likely tell you that the game has its share of spammers and phishing attempts. This entire system is meant to curb some of those problems as much as possible, "designed to prevent rapid and abusive transfers of gold that may be part of account takeovers, fraud, and RMT (gold selling)."
Of course, the current 500 gold limit may be changed in the future if ArenaNet deems it necessary. However, the devs based their decision on historical data, and ArenaNet's Gaile Gray notes that this shouldn't affect "the normal transfer of gold between players."
Tuesday, Mar 31
Net Articles Summary
- SilverStone Kublai KL05B-Q Case Review - Benchmark Reviews
Batman: Arkham Knight is going to be one of 2015's biggest multi-platform titles. I think we can all agree on that. Thus, it's no surprise that Sony's already hooked up with publisher Warner Bros. to set up some glorious exclusives. These include two launch day bundles for PlayStation 4, one a Limited Edition (not to be confused with the separate $200 Batmobile Edition) with exclusive painting and faceplate. Then there's also some launch day DLC exclusive to PlayStation 4 as well. Basically, Sony wants Batman: Arkham Knight on PS4 to be the best option come June 23.
Two PlayStation 4 bundles will be out on launch day for Batman: Arkham Knight. First is the standard bundle including a PlayStation 4, DualShock 4 controller and of course a boxed copy of Batman: Arkham Knight. This standard edition bundle will run for the normal PlayStation 4 price of $399.99. For $50 more, a total of $449.99, Batman fans can upgraded to the Limited Edition. This bundle comes with an exclusive Steel Grey PS4 and controller, as well as a special Batman: Arkham Knight faceplate. The rest of the box's contents are otherwise the same.
As for PlayStation-exclusive DLC, allow me to introduce the Scarecrow Nightmare Mission Pack. As a throwback to Batman: Arkham Asylum's memorable Scarecrow nightmare sequences, apparently a new version of them is being reintroduced in the latest game. A trailer teasing the missions has been made available, but they seem less like tricky puzzle or platforming sequences rather than more typical action gameplay. The Batmobile seems a little overpowered for what should be a nightmare? Scarecrow looks incredible, at least.
Sony's word on the exclusice DLC so far is rather mixed. The text on the box for the bundles says "Only on PS4" while the wording of the press release says, "access to content before it's available anywhere else." Perhaps they imply early access to DLC other than the Scarecrow missions. DLC is too complicated these days, which is probably the goal.
Batman: Arkham Knight is scheduled for release on June 23 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. On PlayStation 4, at least, it will launch in a console bundle including a fancy Limited Edition. It will also launch with exclusive Scarcrow Nightmare Missions DLC for all PS4 players.
Please play Never Alone so we can gleefully chat about how great it is
This ain't no April Fools! Sony is back with April's PlayStation Plus titles and all that really needs to be said is they continue to deliver a package of great games, as ever. Some PlayStation 4 gamers may be disappointed at the lack of big, AAA releases this month. Hopefully they'll be assuaged by a bonus indie, care of a PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 cross-buy. All in all that's 6 games total, three that work on PS4, three that work on PS3 and two more of the Vita's best remaining library not yet in PS+.
PlayStation 3 gamers get the best of all worlds. They'll be picking up the awesome AAA release of Dishonored this month, on top of two great indie titles. It's actually good to see Dishonored on the docket, after a lot of confusion made the rounds regarding the game potentially appearing in the March PlayStation Plus line-up. Rumormongers claim it's because Bethesda is ramping up to a Dishonored 2 announcement at E3. I'll believe it when I see it.
- Tower of Guns (PS4, PS3)
- Never Alone
- Aaru's Awakening (PS4, PS3)
- Killzone Mercenary
For those unfamiliar, Never Alone is an outstanding 2D platformer made in partnership with an indigenous Alaskan non-profit group. It's a beautiful, quiet game and I'm excited that more PlayStation 4 gamers will be able to try it. Aaru's Awakening is another 2D platformer which folk should be excited for, a challenging title filled with really amazing art and action. Then we have a Tower of Guns. It's a Tower. Full of guns.
April's PlayStation Plus titles will unfortunately be off-set a bit due to the delays from March. That means that all of these games won't be downloadable until next Tuesday when the PlayStation Store updates. That's April 7 for those without a calendar handy.
Journey to China, India, and Russia as new Assassins
Ubisoft today announced plans to release three new Assassin's Creed games as a part of the newly unveiled Assassin's Creed Chronicles, developed by Climax Studios. Each standalone side-scroller will take place in a different country, starring a different Assassin.
The mini-series kicks off April 21 with Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, to be followed by two separate releases Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India and Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia. Shao Jun will step into the spotlight once more in China, which was already previously announced with Assassin's Creed Unity, and bear witness to the fall of the Ming Dynasty. Chronicles: India will feature Arbaaz Mir and take place during the Sikh Empire's reign after the Red October revolution; Chronicles: Russia will tell Mikolai Orelov's story.
The games are designed with "living paintings" in mind, each with its own unique style. The announcement trailer and debut screenshots give some idea of what to expect, so they're worth a look (below).
Assassin's Creed Chronicles will begin April 21 with Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China. All three releases will be available digitally for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
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An early look at just which Steam Machines are delivering value
Futuremark, creators of the widely used PC benchmarking software, 3DMark, have done quite the favor for those interested in Steam Machines. Today the company published an updated site cataloging all currently announced Steam Machines, indexed both by their 3DMark scores and their "value" based on the price and score. The result is a list designed to help potential Steam Machine owners get the most for their money -- or more honestly, not be taken advantage of.
Anyone who both knows a thing or two about building a PC and also has been following the manufacturer announcements regarding Steam Machines could tell you not all Steam Machines are created equal. Many hardware manufacturers are clearly taking advantage of the brand to try and turn a quick buck. It's one thing for me to say it and another completely for a trusted brand like Futuremark, utilizing their 3DMark tech, to step forward and do this.
The results are readily apparent. Of the 17 Steam Machines which have their specifications already announced, only three rate above an 8.0 on Futuremark's "Value" index. Meanwhile, ten rate at a 7.0 or below. The highest rated Steam Machine, and the only one above a 9.0, is Syber's Steam Machine K. The $999 box runs an Intel Core i5-4690K with a GeForce GTX 970, putting it as the fourth most powerful Steam Machine on the list as well -- according to its 3D Mark rating.
It's worth it to take Futuremark's reporting with a large grain of salt, however, as they did not run their tests on the individual boxes themselves:
"3DMark scores are based on 3DMark Fire Strike scores from Windows systems with similar hardware. Higher is better. Performance under SteamOS with Linux drivers may be different."
Until Futuremark is able to run 3DMark on each Steam Machine's hardware, until each Steam Machine's hardware and pricing is finalized, it's best not to take this comparison as a buyer's guide. Instead, see it as I do as a warning. Just because Steam is lending its branding to these many partners don't not imply a seal of approval. Some of these boxes are not worth their price tags. Luckily, they still have time to step up their game.
I'd recommend perusing Futuremark's "Steam Machines Comparison" for yourself and deciding whether or not it provides some valuable information at this stage before the Steam Machines officially launch. The first wave of Steam Machines will be released this November.
Let's be honest, the game should have launched with these physics
As a gaming news reporter, April Fool's Day is my single favorite day of the whole year to cover. That's why I'm so excited that the festivities are starting a day early this year, apparently. Techland's got plans for Dying Light which they just couldn't wait to share their plans. They released a trailer today detailing how on April 1 there will be a 24-hour infection in-game which will alter physics. Specifically, the player's strength will be altered.
Many folks' initial response will be to see the trailer, to laugh at the extreme zombie punching and kicking, and to dismiss it as just a funny video for April Fool's Day. Heck, the video alone is a pretty great joke alone. However, I think Techland full intends to seriously patch the game. The closing moments of the video tell players to upload their videos and share them on social media with the hashtag "#BadBatch".
I, however, would not be surprised if this "Bad Batch" patch for April Fool's Day was limited only to PC players. Steam let's these sorts of patches go out for free, but console manufacturer's charge a healthy tax on every content drop the last I heard. I'd like to be wrong, and maybe it's something small that Techland can alter for the day without issuing a patch, but let's not count our chickens before they hatch.
Happy April Fool's Day on March 31, everyone. Ah, I can't hardly wait, which is why Techland providing this great and so wonderfully early video is exactly what I needed this morning. Thanks, Dying Light. The fun begins at the stroke of midnight on April 1.
Monday, Mar 30
New Inhouse Articles
The Cooler Master Hyper D92 offers great performance at a very reasonable price.
Net Articles Summary
Warner Bros. Interactive is partnering up with the Electronic Sports League to bring the upcoming Mortal Kombat X to the eSports scene. The tournament circuit is officially titled "Who’s Next? Mortal Kombat X Worldwide Competitive Program" and consists of two major events.
First off is the The Fatal 8 Exhibition Exhibition Tournament, taking place on April 11 at ESL America's Burbank studios in California -- three days ahead of the game's official release. Eight pro players will duke it out in a single elementarion, best of five tournament for a $5,000 grand prize. The invited players are:
- Malik “MIT” Terry
- Christian “KiT Forever King” Quiles
- Elijah “Tyrant” Williamson
- Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean
- Carl “Perfect Legend” White
- Ryan “Ketchup” Neal
- Tony “TONY-T” Pert
- Ryan “Prodigal Son” Hart
The Mortal Kombat X ESL Pro League Tournament season begins on May 3. Xbox One players from North America and Europe will be able to enter weekly tournaments, each with a $1,000 prize pool. Players in the CIS region will be competing with the PC version.
The season concludes with a grand final event , also held at ESL America's studio in Burbank. Come that time, 16 players will qualify for the global finals and compete for a prize purse starting at $50,000; sales of Sub-Zero's Blue Steel skin will go towards increasing the prize pool. Rest assured that a events will be broadcasted on NetherRealm Studios' Twitch channel.
Mortal Kombat X will be released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Android, and iOS on April 14. Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will see a release later this year. It was recently announced that Liu Kang would be returning as a villain.
- Rumor: Super Smash Bros. update 1.06 hides files for Street Fighter's Ryu and Fire Emblem's Roy 
- Star Wars: Battlefront debut trailer drops into the Battle of Endor, featuring in-engine footage 
- Project CARS dated for release once more after many delays, now expected to arrive May 6 
- Hoopa Unbound discovered in Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby, mythical Pokemon's true form 
- Star Wars: Battlefront release date leaked in official site's source, battle begins November 17 
- League of Legends chroma packs headed to PBE, letting players customize their favorite champs 
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited goes live, making TESO officially free to play 
- EA drops Star Wars: Battlefront teasers in the form of Stormtrooper armor, split into three parts