Tuesday, Jun 24
Rejoice, for Metro Redux has been confirmed for release on August 26 in North America. Considering we're almost at July, the wait really isn't much, and we'll soon be revisiting Metro 2033 in full HD glory with extra content -- or Metro: Last Light in Survival Mode.
More than just a bundle, Metro Redux throws in a version of Metro 2033 completely rebuilt using the newer Last Light engine, as well as the Survival and Spartan modes for two different styles of play. For fans who missed the more methodical, survival-driven gameplay of 2033, the two modes would mean you could play Last Light more in the style of 2033, or 2033 in the action-heavy atmosphere of Last Light.
Another improvement to Metro 2033 in Redux is the reduction in load screens, since the new engine allows 4A Games to expand zones and combine levels that were previously split up. DLC for both games and the high-difficulty Ranger Mode will also be included.
Metro Redux will be available as a download and via retailers come August 26. The remastered Metro games can also be purchased separately, but only as downloadable titles.
Final Fantasy XIV shows why it's worth playing, and worth sticking to
I am constantly impressed with how Square Enix's MMO team are evolving the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn experience. Their dedication not just to producing new content for all types of users, but also ensuring it's unique and beautiful on its own is a shining light in a company recently thought to have lost sight of its origins. Today's patch preview for Final Fantasy XIV patch 2.3, the Defenders of Eorzea patch, does a better job of that than ever. It's a good time to be an MMO player.
The eight and a half-minute long preview trailer is packed full of a huge amount of content. Each addition is only shown briefly, but players of Final Fantasy XIV should immediately recognize each bit as what it represents, whether that be story to experience, dungeon content, crafting fun, or any of a myriad of other additions. I've been only lightly following the patch, so I was impressed with the housing addition myself. That carpet, yo. That carpet.
Let's not specifically what Defenders of Eorzea will be adding to the Final Fantasy XIV world:
- Main Story's Next Chapter: With Leviathan defeated, something even more ominious looms
- Ramuh, the Lord of Levin
- Hullbreaker Isle Dungeon: Also, hard modes for both Tam-Tara Deepcroft and Stone Vigil
- Crystal Tower's Syrcus Tower: Following the completion of the Labyrinth of the Ancients
- Carteneau Flats Frontline: Bring on the PvP
- Hildibrand, Agent of Inquiry Side-Quest
- Delivery Moogle Side-Quests
- Chocobo Raising
- Private Quarters
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn's patch 2.3, Defenders of Eorzea, will be available starting July 8. It's now available on PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3.
This morning Carbine Studios unleashed the next details on WildStar's upcoming Ultradrop, the monthly content drops that Carbine has planned out for the next sixteen months. Month one's Ultradrop is known to be The Strain, revealed last week and releasing the week of June 30 -- a month after launch, give or take a day or two. Today's new details revolve around the game's two new zones which will be added: the Strain-overgrown and aptly named Blighthaven, and the tundra from down unda (under the Northern Wilds, that is) the Norther Wastelands.
I was able to spend a bit of time with Carbine and saw quite a bit of Blighthaven in action, so I'll try and share my own thoughts on the zone in addition to conveying the new information. Keep in mind that much of Blighthaven is designed for group content, whether that be 5-man or even an open 20-man dungeon. We won't ignore the Northern Wastes either, because the big reveal of the day is that players will be able to acquire Epic loot (ORANGE!) through some means or another.
Today's not the end of Carbine's big info-drop for The Strain, either. Come back on Thursday, June 26, for the first information on new housing plugs that will be included with the Ultradrop, as well as a bunch of customization content including: costume, emote, mount, hoverboard and dye information. All of this new content and everyone's probably busy getting to 50 and attuning for raids still! You treat us too well, Carbine.
Players leveling past 35 will recognize that this isn't the first time the Strain has been encountered. I won't go into detail, but this plague-like foe is all-devouring and hungry. It crawls over Eldan structures, turning the beautiful into purple sludge and pustules. Blighthaven will take this idea to the extreme, however, offering areas that are both Strain dominated and evolved in ways we've yet to see, plus areas still pristine and glowing -- but heavily threatened, naturally. Plus, don't forget the Eldan structures themselves!
The Strain dominated areas will be filled with the purple ooze and seafloor-like fauna we're used to, but also some new features. Giant green tubules and huge purple bubbles will be found within. These big purple bubbles are quite notable, as players can swim through them, like ants crawling into drops of honey. Only with more disgusting purple goo. New, more specific details reveal one of the names of these Strain-infected areas, the Cantankerous Swamps, as well as an enemy that's Strain-resistant, but still vile to the core -- the Globellum. Those giant purple bubbles are actually meant to be the Globellum's organs. Let's just hope the only way to defeat it is to eat it one spoonful at a time.
As players progress out of the more obviously Strain-infected areas of Blighthaven they'll discover the eerie haven of Sanctuary of the Keepers. The Pell here have protected the area, but that won't stop the Strain from attempting a hostile takeover. This area turns into a huge, 20-man public event tower defense game. The better teams do, the more risk they're willing to take, the better the rewards. Really though, win or lose I'm just a fan of the glowing golden environments.
And of course, Blighthaven wouldn't be complete without its Eldan secrets. Hidden in Blighthaven is the Genesis Chamber, the point of origin for the mysterious Genesis Prime's creation. Yes, WildStar's World Story will continue in Blighthaven where players will discover more than they're likely expecting at the heart of the public dungeon. Spoilers: Oh dear, is that an Eldan?
Unlike Blighthaven, I wasn't shown much of the Northern Wastes. Perhaps that was because this new zone wasn't entirely finished, or perhaps it was because there are mysteries here that Carbine wants players to discover on their own. The challenges may be a mystery, but the reward aren't so fuzzy. Today Carbine revealed that players will be able to earn Epic-tier loot in the zone, a loot tier previously thought to be exclusive to 20-man and up raiding.
What dangers then await in the Northern Wastes that could lead not just to Legendary loot, but Epics? Carbine isn't telling. All that's revealed is a bevy of new enemies including cannibals, necromancers and cybernetic monstrosities. Part for the WildStar course, no? Then there will be hidden locations, new quests and missions. I mean, yeah. That's expected right? We'll forgive Carbine the mystery for now, considering how much of Blighthaven we've been shown instead.
What Carbine's done is provided exactly what their game needs at the moment. Blighthaven and the Northern Wastes will provide a diversity of PvE content at level 50, but without the restrictions of instanced raiding that many current 50s are aspiring to. Blighthaven's mix of group-focused difficulty and even raid-tier content, all in the open world, is a blessing. I can't wait to see what sort of fun is to be had in the zone (especially on a PvP server).
Those at 50 may share my thoughts that being stuck doing dailies in the Crimson Badlands is a bit suffocating. Doing veteran adventures and dungeons is fun too, mind, but I'd love to keep that mind-set of exploring up as well. Bring on the Northern Wastes. Odds are it's going to take quite a bit of time investment to get that Epic loot.
Stay tuned for more WildStar Ultradrop info on The Strain in the days to come, concluding with an all-new DevSpeak on June 30 which will hopefully be followed closely by the patch's full launch. Until then, look forward to our updates!
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Guild Wars 2 finally kicks off a new Living Story next Tuesday, on July 1, and the first real story reveal comes in the form of a teaser trailer showing us Season 2 Episode 1, Gates of Maguuma. It's kind of a big deal, not to mention this is the same update that will add the Story Journal feature.
ArenaNet already teased some permanent content and a new zone, and that's very likely where we'll be headed in Gates of Maguuma. The teaser shows us a desert-like region, complete with sand storms and tumbleweeds. Oh, but the biggest surprise has to do with the Zephyr Sanctum.
As the peaceful Zephyrites prepare to sail off, they are attacked by any unknown enemy (perhaps Aetherblades), and the Sanctum is reduced to a massive flaming wreckage. See it all happen in the Gates of Maguuma video below. The entire Season 1 gang is back together again, too.
How does all of this tie into the whole Scarlet Briar arc and Mordremoth's awakening? Only time will tell, but if you missed all of that, ArenaNet has a pretty handy recap trailer for your viewing pleasure. Seriously though, Season 2 cannot come soon enough.
Monday, Jun 23
Net Articles Summary
- Thermaltake Massive Notebook Coolers (V20, SP, TM) Review - Overclockers Club
- be quiet Pure Power CM L8 Review - NikKTech
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Z Review - Guru3d
- Attitude One Almaz Review - techPowerUp!
- Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5 Review - eTeknix.com
Dig your head out of the sand and get prepared for dat Shovel Knight
Prepare thyself, for the Shovel Knight cometh. Today Yacht Club Games started their ship's engine a bit early by releasing Shovel Knight's release trailer, a few days prior to the game's full release on June 26. The trailer is appropriately epic both for 2D platformer fans and huge nerds that can appropriately revere a knight who wields a shovel instead of a standard sword. This sweet, hot retro action couldn't be better captured in two minutes of delightful gameplay if Trevor Belmont himself cut it.
Speaking of Trevor Belmont, fans of retro platformers should immediately recognize several throwback features and nods in Shovel Knight. There's that classic DuckTales pogo jump and attack, deadlier than ever, a Super Mario Bros. 3 map (roaming enemies will even spawn and jump around between movements), and just plenty of that classic Castlevania sentimentality. Yacht Club games obviously has a ton of respect for its predecessors, but really there's nothing like it.
I've been able to spend a bit of time with Shovel Knight (look forward to the review this Thursday) and I am more than comfortable saying that it's stellar in many ways. Through the early levels the gameplay is ridiculously crisp, a mix of Castlevania restrictions and more modern platformer controls that give players immediate response and control. I've had my Medusa's Head moments where I've yelled at the game, but so far even these bleak moments never feel punishing so much as challenging and wonderfully nostalgic. I can't wait to finish the game and share my final thoughts.
Shovel Knight launches on June 26 for the PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U and 3DS.
Most League of Legends players' first reaction to the Summoner's Rift rework is, "Darn, that sure is pretty." And it is! A spectacular display of Riot's talents, entirely focused on design princliples rather than the sales mind-set that drives much of their skin and champions design these days (maps can't have boob windows). Yet there are some particulars regarding that map's design that Riot thinks some players would be interested in, but would miss without some voice over. Ta-da! Here's a Summoner's Rift visual update preview video.
In the video Riot's voice-over gal talks about the priorities of the map, including clarity between ability the user interface, ability animations, champions and NPCs, and then the map itself. Clarity is Riot's core goal for the map redesign, so even though its priority is to blend into, well, the background, there are many important features meant to enhance that experience without being distracting. That includes seperating the different quadrants of the map into their own styles to help players recognize their location, as well as redesigning jungle camps to better convey their attributes. It's all very smart and very straight forward, while also being very damn pretty.
As an avid League player, though I'm on a bit of a break at the moment, I can't even begin to explain how sorely needed the visual update is for Summoner's Rift. As mentioned in the video, much of the terrain in the map is not actually representative of the borders and distances created as part of the map's design. This means that the only way to acclimate oneself to the map's eccentricities is pure muscle memory -- one death at a time. The new map both smoothes out the edges and conveys these edges in a much clearer way. Bless Riot's heart.
The sad revelation of the video is the closing words that there are still "several months of development" left on the Summoner's Rift rework. It's not surprising in the least, considering it would be highly unlikely for Riot to release the new map prior to the League of Legends World Championships. That's just Riot not wanting to shake up the meta prior to a big eSports event. Respect for that. Still, the map just looks so good right now, and could make the game so much more enjoyable. The sooner, the better.
Expect more information on the League of Legends Summoner's Rift rework in the months ahead, or for League players with PBE access they can try it out now.
Blue Byte still has hopes for their long-lived The Settlers franchise, it seems. Today Ubisoft announced The Settlers - Kingdoms of Anteria for PC, the latest release in the series and a reinvention said to be the most innovative Settlers title yet. That is to say, Blue Byte's The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, the free-to-play The Settlers Online, and Facebook title The Settlers - My City all disappeared in 2010, so here's something to hopefully bring some energy back to the franchise.
Christopher Schmitz, Director of Product Development at Blue Byte, released the following prepared statement filled with the usual buzzwords:
"By reinventing our approach to the franchise, The Settlers - Kingdoms of Anteria offers players a brand new experience full of new possibilities to explore. Without a doubt, this is the most innovative Settlers’ game we have ever created."
Unfortunately, there's an almost astonishing lack of information regarding the game released. Even the platform wasn't confirmed in the press release. Rather, it's only to be found as a "PC" logo buried in the title card at the end of the game's announcement trailer. Release date, gameplay details, price and so on, it's all a mystery. All we have to go on is the vague, insincere promise of "innovation" and "reinvention". Mmm, those buzzwords.
The Settlers hasn't been great in almost 20 years. That's the reality of the franchise, though Ubisoft has probably made money off of it due to its varied free-to-play and social endeavors. Now that those types of games have kind of died out, it's curious what Blue Byte and Ubisoft will do next. The lack of information likely says enough to read between the lines here, but we can hope for a return to the epic strategy roots, but with a glossy new shine.
Expect more information on The Settlers - Kingdoms of Anteria soon.
Because it’s not just Japan where you can buy a Mercedes GLA
Last month came the news that Nintendo would be bringing some free DLC to Japanese Mario Kart 8 customers. The DLC comes in the form of a new Mercedes-branded kart. As was speculated at the time the DLC is no longer a Japanese-only release. Nintendo has confirmed that he kart will also be made available in North America and Europe this summer.
The downloadable content seems little more than glorified advertising for Mercedes and their GLA-Class car. That comes as no real surprise given the GLA is being heavily pushed in Japan through an advertising campaign that features several tie-ins with Nintendo.
Mario Kart 8 is hardly the first game to feature product placement and real world brands, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Mountain Dew ring any bells? It’s something that has been done many times before. However, the introduction of real-life brands into games like Mario Kart does feel very bizarre. There is just something that doesn’t quite sit right about this wonderful escapist world they’ve created being populated by admittedly Mario-ified versions of real world products.
Still, despite my cynicism regarding the motives behind this move, it is still a nice addition for anyone who has ever dreamt of speeding around Rainbow Road in a Mercedes. Odd dream. I know, but nevertheless I’m sure most gamers won’t turn their noses up at a free piece of impactless DLC.
The GLA-Class kart will be powering its way to Wii U consoles in North America, Europe and Japan free of charge sometime later this summer. As of yet there are no specific release dates confirmed for any of the regions. With the aim of a summer release it should be expected that the North American and European versions will drop alongside or soon after the Japanese release.
Civilization Revolution 2 announced for iOS coming July 2 and Android later, Winston Churchill approves
Please pay $1 to upgrade to the next technology
It's not the Civilization Revolution 2 that we want, but it's the Civilization Revolution 2 that we deserve. Today 2K Games announced that the sequel to the DS strategy game is in development, well into development in fact, but that at first the game will be an iOS exclusive. Ahh, a strategy game designed with mobile as its leading platform. This is going to be grand. Bring on the microtransactions. Civ Rev 2 hits iOS on July 2, but has also been announced for Android at a later date.
To be fair, Civilization Revolution was well received due to its faster pace and simple concept. It was well-tuned for handheld consoles and translated well as a digital title on the big consoles too. Inevitably it reached mobile devices as well and yet again found success. Perhaps too much success. Given publishers love of turning bigger franchises into mobile games these days, Civilization Revolution 2 on mobile makes sense. Unfortunately.
While I'd love to give the benefit of the doubt to Civilization Revolution 2, after all it is still a Civilization title and 2K Games hasn't really dont the brand wrong in any significant way as of yet, it would be naive not be wary. Mobile ports or sequels are typically stripped of main features, turned into monstrosities designed to devour players' time and money. Look to Civilization Revolution's initial price, because those three little words should be terrifying: "free to play." Price has, fortunately, been left unconfirmed just yet.
Civilization Revolution 2 is planned for release on July 2 for iOS and then Android at a further date.. The 16 historical figure leaders of the original game will be returning, as well as the combat that made the first game a success. We'll see how it comes together though. We'll see.
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Sunday, Jun 22
Net Articles Summary
Summer Games Done Quick starts today, a week of live speed running to support Doctors Without Borders
Summer Games Done Quick may, in my heart, be my favorite live-streamed gaming event of the year. It's definitely up there with the excitement of E3 press conferences, the drama of the EVO fighting game championships, and the spectacle of the League of Legends World Championships. Summer Games Done Quick is one full week of the the fastest gaming speed-runners in the world doing what they do best live, streamed over the magic of the internet.
Best of all, however, is that all of these wonderful nerds are gathering at one locations just for charity. Yes, they each foot their own bills to get to SGDQ, but all donations from the stream will go directly to their charity of choice. This year's SGDQ will be supporting Doctors Without Borders, one of my personal favorite charities of the world. Doctors Without Borders sends doctors and nurses to areas of need, including war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases. It's a very worthy cause.
The biannual event raised over $1,000,000 this past winter with a mixture of donation challenges, opportunities for prizes, and goals for certain games. Donating for these goals will lead to the runner doing extra content, or playing the game a certain way they otherwise may not have. Or, sometimes there are competitive donation wars, where donators can vote for the player to pick one option over another. It's a clever system, turning donating to charity into a game itself.
Summer Games Done Quick will be starting literally any second now and will run, without pause, for 7 days. That's June 22 through June 28, starting with Super Mario 3D World and ending with a Legend of Zelda, Super Metroid and Final Fantasy VI spiral into nothingness. Make sure to tune in, at the least, but feel free to donate as well. It's a great cause, put on by a group of great gamers. Cheers, SGDQ runners! Start your timers now!
- Lords of the Fallen confirmed for October 2014, prepare for yourselves for a brutal RPG experience 
- Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire's goes Animal crossing, expands 'Secret Base' feature 
- Watch the epic new Dragon Age: Inquisition trailer, just don't expect any character reveals 
- BioWare showcases Josephine, new Dragon Age: Inquisition character romanceable by any gender 
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare behind-the-scenes trailer shows us what the future sounds like 
- Nintendo DS and Wii 'Wi-Fi Connection Service' discontinuation May 20, end of online play 
- Hearthstone expansion Curse of Naxxramas' final pricing and access details revealed 
- The Wolf Among Us - Episode 5: Cry Wolf is out, time to marathon livestream Season 1 
- Nintendo Direct at E3 2014 Live Blog: Which Nintendo franchise has earned the golden ticket? 
- Tropes vs Women in Video Games series talks violence against women in new episode 
- Pac-Man launches an old school attack on Super Smash Bros. to sate his hunger 
- Palutena crushes your Mii (and everyone else) beneath her heel in Super Smash Bros. 
- Neoseeker's E3 2014 Award Nominations: Trimming down 13 categories to just a few games 
- The Internet with Rory and Lydia: E3 2014's Thursday Wrap-Up, Smash Bros, Far Cry, Fable