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Wednesday, Aug 27

PlayStation Plus in September adds Velocity 2X for PS4, All-Stars Battle Royal for PS3

12 comments Rory Young - 2:08pm (PST) Like Share

Another month, another indie debut on PlayStation 4

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Another month, another selection of delectable PlayStation Plus titles being added to each player's  growing library. September, as in months previous, will see two games added to each of Sony's platforms -- PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita -- with some crossover between multi-platform titles. Overall, there's likely to be some disappointment with September's line-up, but let's be honest here. We're all going to be playing Destiny anyway, right?

Let's get down to specifics. Here's the full line-up of PlayStation Plus titles coming in September, along with which platforms they'll run on. Keep in mind that all of these games will be made available starting September 2, which also marks when August's games will no longer be available:

PlayStation 4

  • Velocity 2X (PS4, PS Vita)
  • Sportsfriends (PS4, PS3)

PlayStation 3

  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, PS Vita)
  • Hoard (PS3)

PS Vita

  • Joe Danger (PS Vita)
  • TxK (PS Vita)

The Velocity sequel, much like other titles in previous months, will be launching as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. It's easy to say, "Oh, another indie game headlining PlayStation 4 this month," but these games are legitimately launching as free games for PlayStation Plus subscribers. That's a value that's hard to quantify. A game that no other person has played, but you're able to download and play through just for your subscription cost. Then again, if you could care less about Velocity then I guess that doesn't matter.

PlayStation Plus for September will go live on September 2. Make sure to check out the Sony Entertainment Network store before then and download all of August's great games. They'll be gone soon.


Destiny’s PlayStation exclusives detailed with Hawkmoon hand cannon and Monte Carlo auto rifle

2 comments Matt Newbould - 1:23pm (PST) Like Share

At least there aren't any exclusive planets yet...

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As has become the norm with exclusivity in the gaming market, even multi-platform game releases tend to contain an element of exclusivity. Extra skins, weapons, armor and so on, right through to exclusive or timed DLC missions are all fair game. The upcoming release of Destiny from developers Bungie is no different, with a series of timed exclusive content for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. A new shiny trailer shows it all off today, following on from the full game trailer

The majority of the exclusive content takes the form of armor and weapons, because what better way to catch the eye in a loot centric game than with some marvellous looking exclusive guns and gear:

  • "The Hawkmoon is an Exotic Hand Cannon that looks resplendent with its feather etched barrel design. It also comes with the potential to cause extra damage on random shots through bonuses." 
  • "The Monte Carlo Auto Rifle is also an Exotic weapon, though this gun comes with bonuses to hip fire and melee cooldown, plus a design that includes a fierce looking attachment/bayonet on the front end."
  • "Each class of Guardian also gets a full set of Rare gear too. With the Vanir (Titan), Argus (Hunter) and Manifold (Warlock) gear sets, though the Manifold looks a little too bulky for my taste."

With Destiny providing such a multiplayer targeted gaming experience it is no wonder a few of the exclusives are related directly to that aspect of the game. The multiplayer content comes in two forms: a Strike mission called Dust Palace for those players who want to team up and take on a mission co-operatively; a competitive multiplayer map designated Exodus Blue which bears a big resemblance to Old Russia.

It is worth noting that this content is a timed exclusive, meaning Xbox users will get a chance to check it out eventually. Unfortunately that timer endsin fall 2015 when I’m sure most of the content will have become largely irrelevant. Still, it’s a nice bonus for those who do have access to it when Destiny drops September 9 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. 

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Tuesday, Aug 26

Guild Wars 2 PVE improvements in September include removing instance 'owners' and updated UI

0 comments Lydia Sung - 11:57pm (PST) Like Share

It's not just about the PVP

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Guild Wars 2 is getting another Feature Pack next month, in September, and the changes really sound better and better. While ArenaNet has seen fit to highlight the PVP and WvW changes coming, PVE updates are also set to roll out, including the decision to drop dungeon instance "owners." Now that's something many players can definitely get behind.

Since launch, instances in Guild Wars 2 always had an "owner," that being the person who enters first and opens the dungeon for everyone else. Sounds fair, right? Well, the major issue with this system is that when the instance owner leaves (or gets kicked from party), the dungeon boots everyone else out too. Over time, the devs have tried to tweak this system to make it more forgiving, but rather than continue trying to improve upon it, they've decided to completely do away with it next month. So now if the player who started the instance is dropped for whatever reason, the remaining party members can simply continue through the dungeon without fear of being kicked. Awesome.

With the release of the September 2014 Feature Pack, Guild Wars 2 will also see an improved crafting UI. The idea here is to make the crafting interface more manageable and easier to navigate. For instance, the new UI will allow you to search for Ascended items only, then bring up all the subcomponents required for making said items.

Performance improvements will be coming soon as well, according to ArenaNet:

We‘re always working on the performance of the game with every update, but we have a big batch of improvements coming in this feature pack. We’ve changed the way many of the underlying systems work, making them more cost-effective, which will reduce how often players will be seeing issues caused by performance. This is most notable in large combat situations like WvW and at the PvE world boss events. These improvements affect both the server and client performance, so in these situations, you should see increased frame rates as well!

The studio plans to reveal the new items being added to each crafting discipline soon, so keep an eye out.

Categories: PC Games

Mario Maker levels can be shared online, Piranha Plant death traps from across the globe

8 comments Max Navarro - 9:07pm (PST) Like Share

Time to study the hardest levels in gaming history to prepare

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According to an interview with Takashi Tezuka, a video game developer at Nintendo, in EDGE magazine the upcoming Mario Maker will have the ability to share user-created levels online. This news isn't particularly groundbreaking (after all, how else could a maximum level of pleasure be reached in a Super Mario sandbox?), but it is exciting to know with complete certainty Super Mario Bros. levels made can be shared on the other side of the planet.

Mario Maker allows players to craft brand new levels in either Super Mario Bros. or New Super Mario Bros. style They can then play and now share those levels with users across the globe. Thanks to the online connectivity offered by the title, any random person can come across any random level and perhaps discover a new challenge. Consisting of Mario textures, custom-designed objects and music, Mario Maker provides the freedom that most creative fans have dreamed of since they were little. I can finally create my level of piranha plants and platforms that I've been longing to create for years. 

For those that feel restricted by only the two styles offered so far, worry not. Nintendo has also confirmed that other art and graphical styles are being considered, though top-down displays such as that found in The Legend of Zelda will not be present. Everything will be 2D, so don't expect any Super Mario Sunshine-esque levels on the web either. 

Mario Maker for the Nintendo Wii U will hit the eShop sometime in 2015. To tide over my admittedly silly urge to revisit and perhaps re-craft my childhood with updated textures, I'll just sit back and wonder -- how many piranha plants and cheep-cheeps could I fit in one level?


Mario Kart 8 DLC revealed, Link in Nov., more in May 2015 [Update: Pricing now available]

47 comments Rory Young - 6:29pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Update Details confirmed, now with pricing

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Update: Nintendo has sent us the official press release for today's Mario Kart 8 DLC announcements. We've already detailed what's included in each DLC pack, but the press release does include information on pricing which we previously didn't have. Pack 1, titled The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8, launches in November for $7.99. Pack 2, titled Animal Crosssing X Mario Kart 8, launches in May of 2015 for $7.99 as well. A bundle including both packs (as well as some Yoshi and Shy Guy coloring options) will also be available for a lower price for $11.99.

In a surprise leak via the official online Nintendo Store in the UK, two Mario Kart 8 DLC packs have been revealed. Each pack, titled quite timidly the Mario Kart 8 Pack 1 and Pack 2, will feature three new playable characters, four vehicles, and two new cups with 8 courses. It doesn't seem like players will have to wait too long for the first pack either, as it will be released November, with the following pack to be released in May, 2015.

Headlining the first pack will be the playable racer Link! Yes, the green tunic clad hero from The Legend of Zelda will be making his Mario Kart debut in November. He'll be joined by Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach, which aren't particularly inspired additions to the roster. Nevertheless, the real value will of course be the 8 additional courses which were unfortunately left undetailed. As for the vehicles, they too were not described, but the five screenshots that accompanied the leak should show a few of them.

Mario Kart 8 Pack 2 has three more fun roster additions, including Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing, as well as Dry Bowser. That's a Dry Bones version of Bowser, by the way, which may instantly become my favorite playable character. Again, we're only left with teasers as to what the vehicles and tracks will be, but an Animal Crossing themed track is quite obvious in the teaser collage for the DLC pack.

Those who buy both of the DLC packs in a bundle that Nintendo will be offering, or both packs separately, will instantly unlock a special surprise. Eight different-colored Yoshis and eight different colored Shy Guys will be available to play. They're not quite completely new roster additions, but it's better than nothing!

Just to go over the details again in summary. Two DLC packs for Mario Kart 8 are in the works, with each pack including three roster additions, four karts and two cups with eight tracks total per DLC. The price listed on the UK site is £7.00, which likely will translate to $10 in the USA. A bundle will be offered, though the price for that is unclear, which comes with some extra DLC featuring colored skins for Yoshi and Shy Guy. Pack 1 will be released in November and pack 2 will launch in May of 2015.

Mario Kart 8 is currently available exclusively on Wii U and let's just say the DLC announced up to this point has been underwhelming if not gross entirely. Speaking of which, that Mercedes Benz DLC should be available starting tomorrow.

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Next League of Legends champ is Azir, Emperor of the Sands, a mage who controls an army

11 comments Lydia Sung - 4:06pm (PST) Like Share

Also, if Nasus were a bird

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There's a lot going on in League of Legends lately, and through it all, Riot managed to sneak in a new champion reveal. Meet Azir, Emperor of the Sands, a new mage with a rather unique "minion-mancer" design.

Lore-wise, Azir ia apparently an ancient emperor whose name lingers in Shuriman history. He's back now, and commands the sands of the desert, along with a magical army that he seems capable of conjuring at will. These warriors do their master's bidding in the Fields of Justice, acting as a means of controlling the field and attacking his enemies. His spells go toward manipulating these soldiers, moving them around on the offensive or defensive. It all sounds really freaking cool.

Passive: Will of the Emperor

Cooldown reduction increases Azir’s attack speed.

Disc of the Sun: Azir raises a Sun Disc on the base of a destroyed turret (enemy inhibitor and nexus turrets are immune to this effect). Azir’s Sun Disc behaves like a turret, except that it deals increased damage and grants Azir gold on minion or champion kills. The Sun Disc lasts for a short while and if Azir is killed or moves too far away, it loses armor.

Q: Conquering Sands

Azir orders all Sand Soldiers to rush at target position. The soldiers damage and slow all enemies they smash through as they rush into the fray.

W: Arise!

Azir summons an untargettable Sand Soldier—a memory of a Shuriman warrior—from the ground. Azir uses his basic attack as a command, ordering soldiers to attack for him, piercing through their target and dealing damage in a line. Sand Soldiers attack even if Azir himself isn’t in basic attack range. The soldiers fade back to sand after a short while or when their emperor leaves them behind.

E: Shifting Sands

Azir feints, rushing to target Sand Soldier. If Azir collides with an enemy champion, he stops, knocking them up and gaining a shield.

R: Emperor's Divide

Azir calls forth a phalanx of shield-wielding soldiers who press forward, knocking back and damaging enemies. When the soldiers finish their charge, they stand as a wall, blocking enemy champion movement and dashes. Allies can pass through the wall and gain a speed boost when they do. These soldiers cannot be ordered to move or attack.

Obviously, soldier placement is a key component to Azir's gameplay. By moving these troops around, he effectively creates "shifting zones of power" for superior lane and zone control. In a teamfight, he will likely be in a fixed position and command his troops from a distance. His ult, in particular, sounds very handy for protecting his allies.

Riot also named Yasuo, Sejuani and Sivir as decent partners for Azir. Ziggs, Kassasin and Maokai might prove problematic for the timeless emperor, however. You can real a little more about the character's concept below; it's actually very interesting.

What does it mean to be the Emperor?

More than anything, an emperor has subjects. An emperor does not act; he commands. With that in mind, it made sense to focus gameplay on controlling the might of Shurima!

Internally, we call these champs “minion-mancers”. Once we knew Azir would take on this kind of kit, we knew it was time to look at what does and doesn’t work for these often-problematic designs:

Heimer taught us that auto-attacking, stationary minions tend to lead to defensive play. From the likes of Elise, Malzahar, and Yorick we learned that players do not appreciate minions that run off and do their own thing. Spiderlings ended up on a short leash and Voidlings follow Malefic Visions relentlessly. Finally, minions the player directly controls aren’t a great fit for League’s control scheme and lack the counterplay of “stay outside of this zone”.

Awareness around these problems allowed us to introduce appropriate trade-offs to Azir’s kit. With these weaknesses in place, we could make the soldiers very strong indeed; imagine if I told you that, given the right setup, your basic attack has 1200 range and hits units in an AOE.

Here’s how we approached the core loop of soldier generation and manipulation:

Arise! creates a sand soldier at a target location, from which the soldier projects threat in a circle--so far, so Heimerdinger. However, soldiers require an active input. Azir must right-click and go through a basic attack animation for soldiers to do anything. This makes both Azir and his enemy understand that a conscious command was given to the soldier. This also means that if Azir is stunned or running away, soldiers cease to be a threat. All of a sudden, Azir’s opponent can comfortably aggress.

Conquering Sands orders all soldiers to charge toward a target location, damaging and slowing enemies they pass through. This forces Azir to think carefully about when and where to send soldiers. Can Azir afford to use the spell for damage and slow or (Counterplay incoming!) will this allow the enemy to engage on Azir while his soldiers are temporarily unable to move?

Taken together, Arise! and Conquering Sands form a minion kit that gives enough control to make the emperor feel in control while leaving enough weaknesses to make enemies feel that aggression is an option.

Categories: PC Games

Ascension arrives soon on League of Legends' PBE server, 5v5 brawl on the Crystal Scar

0 comments Rory Young - 4:05pm (PST) Like Share

Xerath's Ascension will leave Shurima a wasteland

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The long-rumored Ascension game mode has now been confirmed and details for League of Legends. Riot Games announced today that the all new mode would be arriving on their Public Beta Environment server "soon" and is requesting those with access try it and provide feedback when it goes live. Located on the Crystal Scar, the 5v5 mode will have teams battling both each other and an ascending Xerath, but don't read too far into that before you get all of the details...

I said the Crystal Scar is the setting for Ascension, but that's not entirely true. See, for Ascension Riot has "restricted movement" on the map to just the very center. Players will spawn on the standard platform and then use a special trinket to teleport to the battle's location in the middle of the Crystal Scar. As such, there's very little, if any, reason to compare this to any other existing game mode or map. 

Point collection is the goal once the game properly starts. Points can be earned by killing your foes (one point each, capturing what are called Relics of Shurima (three points each), or killing an Ascended (five points each). To become Ascended one must kill the Ancient Ascendant Xerath in the very center of the map at the match's start. After that, whoever last killed the Ascended will then become the Ascended. Act fast though, because while Ascended get double points they have "dramatically reduced" healing.

While it's unclear just how large of a space the center area of the Ascension map on Crystal Scar will be, it's clear that Riot wants this mode to be unending action. Ten champions in an unending brawl, witch perhaps brief pauses when a team wants to meet up to make a push to regain control of the center area. Ascension may be the official name of the mode, but something along the lines of "Red Sands" or "The Arena" may be more apt in the end.

No word yet on when Ascension will hit League of Legends' live servers. Expect the game mode to pop up on the PBE within a few days, or even this evening. A new meta shall arise!

Categories: PC Games

Part Pokemon and part Tekken, Pokken Tournament coming to Japanese arcades in 2015

29 comments Rory Young - 3:14pm (PST) Like (1) Share

How do I throw the Pokeball?

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A Pokemon fighting game? Could this be real? To think that somewhere in the world Nintendo, Game Freak and Bandai Namco executives gathered and actually agreed that a Pokemon fighting game had to be made. It's hard to even consider. Yet here we are, with Nintendo and Bandai Namco announcing Pokken Tournament, an arcade fighting game planned to be released in 2015 -- in Japan.

Now featuring a full teaser trailer, as opposed to the brief glimpse players had of Pokken Tournament at the last Nintendo World event, the reality of the situation is rather clear. Machamp and Lucario are going head to head, comboing each other to death on a 3D plane. Nowhere are trainers to be found in-screen and no specific abilities for either Pokemon are especially notable either. While Lucario does appear to be powering up at the end of the match, it'd be a stretch to say he's Mega Evolving or using a skill of any sort.

The question now becomes, "Is this even a Pokemon game?" Sure, Lucario and Machamp are Pokemon, but there's otherwise no features to this trailer distinguishing other notable Pokemon features or mechanics. It looks rather like a cheap Tekken mod with Pokemon skins. Heck, some mods out there probably look better. The idea of a Pokemon fighting game is brilliant, but I think developer Bandai Namco has some work to do to prove this is a worthy response to thousands of fans' requests.

Pokken Tournament is currently announced as a Japan-only arcade game. No other platforms have been revealed, let alone a North American localization. Yes, it's developed by Bandai Namco and not Nintendo. Yes, it's quite clearly built off of their Tekken franchise, sort of like Hyrule Warriors is really more of a Dynasty Warriors than a Zelda title. I'm scared, everyone.


Categories: Console Games

Dragon Age: Inquisition will have 4-player co-op mode, combining dungeon crawler with free-to-play

19 comments Lydia Sung - 2:54pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Taking page out of Mass Effect 3's co-op book

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Looks like Dragon Age won't be a single-player affair anymore, as BioWare today reveals the addition of a four-player co-op mode. Dragon Age: Inquisition follows its sci-fi cousin Mass Effect in this respect, by dropping a free-to-player cooperative mode on the series' third installment. Don't worry, though, because Inquisition probably won't require grinding multiplayer influence to acquire a "perfect" campaign ending. 

So the way co-op in Dragon Age: Inquisition is set up makes it an F2P dungeon crawler, separate from the game's main campaign. This mode will feature its own set of characters, each of a specific class, and a storyline yet to be announced. Every mission should span 20 to 30 minutes, and each of the three multiplayer/co-op campaigns will auto-generate a level made up of smaller segments. Basically, the maps are designed to shift, and more of these campaigns will be released further down the road (presumably at no extra cost).

The loot system is a bit of a gamble. At the end of every quest, players can spend gold they've earned on treasure chests, and these chests will yield random rewards like new equipment, potions, recipes, and even new heroes and skins. Of course, players who would rather not spend the time earning everything they want or need can just throw real money at the game for Platinum, which BIoWare's Scylla Costa described as an "optional time saver."

Sadly, the loot can't be traded. If you end up with a bunch of stuff you can't use, those items can be broken down and made into crafting ingredients that might go toward other items.

Nine heroes will be available at launch, each with their own set of skills and abilities, and the story they're involved in will run parallel to the Inquisitor's. BioWare have yet to really detail any sort of connection between the single- and multiplayer.

See IGN's exclusive reveal video below. Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out November 18 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC.


New 'Tropes vs Women in Video Games' episode continues with topic of violence against women

38 comments Lydia Sung - 12:01pm (PST) Like Share

Pretty startling once the examples are pointed out

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Anita Sarkeesian is back with another episode of her video series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games, continuing the rather uncomfortable look into violence against women in games. Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 carries on the discussion from the last segment, and delves even further into how women are brutalized in games, bringing up the topic of sexual assault.

In many games, we see women victimized in very graphic ways for many reasons, ranging from story to atmosphere. This falls under the concept of women being used as decorations in games, which is the topic of this episode, as well as the last. Sarkeesian also points out that in so many instances of abuse in games are shown as scripted events, where the player can do nothing but observe as a passerby.

Rape is not an easy topic to discuss by any means, but that certainly doesn't make it any less valid. Are there reasons to keep using situations where women are brutalized in a video game? Definitely, but I'd wager they're not very good ones.

Categories: Console Games PC Games