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News articles search results of Rory Young

Evolve opens the Thunder Dome, free 'Arena Mode' update has all of the action with none of the hunting

1 comments Rory Young - 11:53pm (PST) Like Share

The eSports struggle is real

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Evolve isn't done yet, as today Turtle Rock Studios put out a huge update for their 4v1 asymmetric multiplayer shooter. Stop holding your breath, because this update is 100% free. Don't hold me to that if they latch on paid DLC to the mode later, though. Introducing "Arena Mode," a free update which strips down the game to three rounds of monster on hunter action. None of the hunting is retained, as the mode takes place entirely within a Trapper's "Mobile Arena" Thunder Dome. In a best of three, hunters will go up against a Stage 2 monster and only the strongest will survive. Best part? It's out now.

This isn't just something Turtle Rock threw together to try and build new interest, either. They've created 70 total arenas to be played in their Arena Mode, with five arenas created for each map in the game. Every individual match will be played on a single map with each of the 2-3 round taking place in a different arena within that map. They've basically created a mode that's impossible to have mirrored experiences on, a common flaw of the standard modes where players start to see frustrating monster paths being taken over and over. Consider Arena Mode Evolve at its arcadiest.

Here's Turtle Rock boiling down the mode to its bullet points, for those wondering just how Arena Mode will work out mechanically:

  • The new Arena Mode places five fixed domes on each of the 14 maps in Evolve. For those not up on your math, that’s 70 locked-down venues, ready for brawling.
  • At the start, you select a map, then you’re in for a best-of-three series of hardcore firefights. The Monster and Hunters are locked in that dome until one side is eliminated. After that match, you immediately jump to another dome on the same map for round two – that continues until there’s a victor.
  • All the Hunters and Monster begin each match with one perk.
  • Monsters start at Stage 2 with 50 percent armor, but can feed on wildlife in battle to regain armor and even evolve to Stage 3. (Though the size of the mobile arena makes this a tough task.)
  • The dome isn’t coming down. So, for all you Trappers out there, your job got a little easier.
  • There is no dropship timer. Once a Hunter dies in battle, they have to sit it out until the next fight.
  • Players can’t change their character or perk selection between rounds, but Monster players can change their abilities.

Considering Evolve's community started to die off after launch, it's not surprising to see Turtle Rock trying to find something to reignite some energy. It still feels a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face though, doesn't it? Hunting and the process of evolution was a key part of the core Evolve experience. While I can see how cutting out the hunting might make the game a bit more consumable for audiences with short attention spans, if it means the death of the core Evolve modes in favor of Arena Mode then I'm not sure I'm fully behind it. I'm basically saying I'm worried that Arena Mode will end up an all around more enjoyable and competitive experience, when I'm already a fan of what came before it.

No need to worry just yet, I suppose. Turtle Rock wrapped up today's announcement by saying that this was just a portion of some larger plans the studio has for Evolve in the near future. "That's just a taste of things to come," were their exact words. Some rumors have been going around about a free-to-play version of Evolve, but that's a big step for a $60+ console game to make in the face of people who spent that money up front.

Evolve's Arena Mode DLC is available now on all platforms, according to Turtle Rock. That's PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for those unfamiliar. Check out the trailer accompanying the announcement which has "Official eSports Commentary" of the supposed first match of Arena Mode.


Mad Max game's story trailer drops the fury, takes on the 'Savage Road'

1 comments Rory Young - 9:51pm (PST) Like Share

Gas may be rare, but cars are still filled with enough to explode outrageously

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Avalanche and Warner Bros. are building off of the ongoing Mad Max: Fury Road excitement with a new story trailer today, and who can blame them? Mad Mad: Fury Road is one of the best action movies to come out in years and it looks like the team at Avalanche is trying to create an authentic take on the film that really capitalizes on the intensity of the action, the post-apocalyptic grittiness and the explosions the team is already known for from Just Cause. Today's Mad Max trailer is a little less subtle about the connections between the film and the movie though. Today's story trailer is named "Savage Road" -- bit on the nose, eh?

Doesn't matter what they name the trailer, however, because the trailer is all sorts of awesome in many of the same ways that Fury Road is too. Sure, there's some exposition between main charactetrs, but most of the content in the trailer is focused on car chases, wrecks, explosions, and how to get out of situations where action isn't happening as fast as possible. Basically, the game points out how mess up the world is, how messed up of a situation Max has gotten himself into again, and how messed up it's going to be getting out the crappy situation. And the whole damn thing is lined with scary looking mutants and gladiator-looking dudes. Was that a dude with a cat's head? Too much story, fellas. Blow up another car for me. Thank you.

Anyone who has planed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has to start asking questions now though, because there are moments in the trailer which could be mirror images of Talion chatting with, say, Gollum. Warner Bros. isn't ashamed of taking portions of their successful games and putting them in others. Shadow of Mordor is built on Batman combat, after all. So if Mad Max turns out to be Batman combat, Shadow of Mordor cinematic storytelling (which admittedly wasn't its forte), and Avalanche's vehicles and explosions then don't be surprised. Heh, as if anyone could even  manage surprise with such a bad-ass combination of ass-kickery. Bring it on, dudes.

Mad Max, that's the game and not the movie, will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One starting September 1, 2015. It makes you wonder -- do you think Avalanche, having seen Fury Road now, is adding or changing anything after being inspired by something so awesome? Doof Warrior Easter egg? More women characters? I only saw one in the trailer. Will some of the Gas Town fellas from the movie show up in-game? It's exciting to hope for, though I doubt there's as much connection as I'd love to see. Should still be great.


More free The Witcher 3 DLC out this week, 'Contract: Missing Miners' and a Yennefer outfit

5 comments Rory Young - 9:13pm (PST) Like Share

Bet Yennefer's wishing she could download a jacket for the cold

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Who can say no to more The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? CD Projekt RED is delivering on their promise of 16 free post-launch DLC packs, confirming today that two more pieces of DLC will be available this week. Nothing too extravagant, but free DLC is free DLC. Today's two pieces of DLC include an all new quest, "Contract: Missing Miners," which almost certainly implies dark places and even darker mysteries. Second is some more cosmetic DLC. Nothing as glorious and beautiful as a Geralt facial hair pack, but an alternative Yennefer costume is certainly nothing to shrug at. Still, lacy stockings in the world of The Witcher? It's a good thing Yennefer can stab people in the eyes with magic crows.

As mentioned before, the two pieces of DLC will be available for download starting this week. As for exactly when, well, that depends on which platform you're running on. Reports are already coming in, unverified of course, that the DLC is already out. A quick browse on my GOG Galaxy client shows that it isn't quite available to download, but maybe Steam players might be more lucky? PSN typically updates on Tuesdays, so I'd bank on it being online on PlayStation 4. Xbox One players should see it tomorrow, if it's on the standard store update schedule that is. Don't quote me here; this is just an educated guess.

I've heard some DLC critics dismiss the content as insubstantial, which is true I suppose. The natural response would be to dismiss that immediately considering it's free, so what' the big deal? Yet it is worth at least considering a bit further as all DLC conversations usually deserve but rarely get. CD Projekt RED could just bundle all of the DLC together in one big free pack when it's all done, but I think I prefer it this way. Why? Well, for CD Projekt RED it keeps players coming back every week until they have their expansions ready to buy. For me, it's more like an adventurer hearing some new, exciting gossip in town. Oh, there's some trouble in a mine? Hadn't heard of that, so I guess I better check it out. A hairstylist in the city? What's a hairstylist? Interesting if true. Yennefer came through town wearing what? Oh, my. It's only cool, however, because it's free. The free price is the enabler for more fun, which only gets players excited for big pieces of content like the expansion. It's a give and receive agreement between CD Projekt RED and the player that is well worth agreeing on.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The two pieces of DLC out today will join the previous two for a total of four out of the sixteen planned. Consider them a bread trail until the first major expansion for The Witcher 3 is released later this year. I'd expect to hear more on that at E3. Still, I'm sure everyone playing is still neck deep in all of the open world and side content in the disgustingly large RPG. Even then, go get a haircut, ya hippie.

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Resident Evil 0 to be remastered for 2016, Capcom brings back director Koji Oda

16 comments Rory Young - 9:54am (PST) Like (1) Share

At least it isn't an HD updated Umbrella Chronicles

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After Capcom's not so surprising success with the HD rerelease of the Resident Evil HD remaster, because who would have thought game players were excited for classic Resident Evil Action, Capcom's doubling down on nostalgia. That's right folk, we're going back to that retro age of the... Gamecube? And remastering that other Resident Evil classic... Resident Evil 0? Yes, Capcom has brought back original director of Resident Evil 0 Koji Oda, also known for directing... 2014's Strider? Koji Oda and his team at Capcom will bring Resident Evil 0 HD to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC in early 2016.

At this point, if anyone is much like myself, folk are probably wondering why Capcom isn't updating some of the more meaningful Resident Evil classics including Resident Evil 2, Nemesis, or Code: Veronica. In the grand scheme of Resident Evil, it was was 0 that marked the decline's worst moment before reinventing itself with Resident Evil 4. Obviously things have gone worse in recent years, but if Capcom was trying to rediscover their Resident Evil mojo then it seems logical that they'd go further back, right?

Then all the lights line up and everything clicks. Oh, so this isn't a move by Capcom to revisit the classic days of Resident Evil, thereby reinvigorating both developer and fan excitement for the franchise. This is just Capcom updating post-2002 GameCube Resident Evil titles because they're simple to retexture without having to do much behind-the-scenes work.Oh. I guess that means it's more likely that after Resident Evil 0 is released we'll see Capcom revisit Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One before they go back to those PlayStation-era classics. Weskeeeeeeeeer!

Perhaps I give Resident Evil 0 too hard of a time, though. After all, it did introduce us to playable tiny Bravo Team cop with anime eyes, Rebecca Chambers, and American convict that is oddly more like a Japanese high-school thug, Billy Coen. And of course they both went on to star in, err, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. Okay, that's enough of this. You made me mention Umbrella Chronicles after I told myself I'd never do that again. Congratulations, Capcom.

Resident Evil 0 HD is being remastered for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC for release in early 2016. Expect more information in the months ahead.


Game of Thrones - Episode 4: Sons of Winter available May 26, with great risk comes great reward

0 comments Rory Young - 2:04pm (PST) Like Share

This is when everything goes all to hell, isn't it?

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After a lengthy wait, which I suppose is the status quo for Telltale these days, Game of Thrones -- Episode 4: Sons of Winter now has a release date. Pick up the fourth of six episodes starting on May 26, or over the next few days depending on your platform. Conflict is coming to a head for House Forrestor's inheritors and it seems like Episode 4 will see many of our protagonists committing themselves to large events decisions which will either end in their ruin or glory. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen don't mess around, especially when the Wall and dragons are concerned.

In Episode 4, Rodrik will struggle to free Ironrath, Gared ventures beyond the wall, Mira is near drowning in the game of thrones, while Asher takes orders from Daenerys herself. No one is safe, but inaction is deadlier than the risks they face otherwise. And hey, Telltale doesn't tease or imply any sort of nudity or sexual controversy at all, which puts them a grade or fifty above their television show licensee

It seemed like there for a while Telltale was trying to speed up its process to get Game of Thrones out faster to players. After a two month span between the first and second episode, the third was closer to a month and a half. Yet here we are again seeing Telltale pushing Episode 4 back to two months post-Episode 3 -- from March 24 to May 26. It sucks, really, because while Telltale's quality writing and narrative structure continues to deliver, it's so difficult to maintain hype for any of their individual series when they can't put out chapters monthly. Hell, monthly is even slow than I'd want if I could get my way. But two months? Maybe Telltale will reach a point of comfort eventually where they can finish a game before starting to release episodes, so they might hammer out a schedule of their own choosing.

As with all Game of Thrones episodes, due largely to their digital nature and how quickly Telltale pushes them live after finishing them, not all platforms will get Episode 4 on the same day. It will arrive on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3 on May 26. Xbox One and Xbox 360 will pick it up on May 27, with iOS and Android cleaning up on May 28.

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The Witcher 3 artist dismisses downgrade, 'unfair' comparing early trailers to gameplay demos

16 comments Rory Young - 2:47am (PST) Like (1) Share

An issue quite clearly more complicated than one headline can describe

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Recently there's been somewhat of a stir regarding potential The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt visual downgrades. Several Youtube videos and screenshot comparisons, sourcing early looks at CD Projekt RED's highly anticipated RPG and recent recordings from early impressions, purport changes in lighting, textures, and tessellation in both specific and general ways. The downgrade accusations have had difficulty finding footing, as CD Projekt RED has only just recently released footage of the game running on "Ultra" settings and reviews until now have all been from the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

That's not to say that CD Projekt RED has been unreceptive to their community's feedback. In specific cases they responded, noting that certain rocky wall textures may have been changed for better or worse and will look into what happened, or noting how shaders changed in development had affected the game in different ways -- but much more for the better. All comments on the matter thus far have insisted that fans will find The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to be nothing but one of the best looking games yet made.

Recently, CD Projekt RED's visual effects artist Jose Teixeira took to the issue head-on in an interview with Youtuber docm77. Teixeira obviously is rather passionate about the issue, but it's significant that his perspective is of an artist and a developer first and foremost:

"We didn't downgrade it. We didn't downgrade, because it's impossible -- it's impossible to downgrade a game that didn't exist before, or wasn't playable before. There was a guy on the internet who commented that, or something like that, that you cannot downgrade something that -- there was no grade to downgrade. Comparing a final product with a product that wasn't playable, that wasn't a game yet. There are two things that people have to separate, downgrade and optimization. Optimization is necessary to make the game run. Downgrade is when you deliberately make the game worse for some, for whatever reason. I mean, that's totally not what happened.

"There also something that people probably have to understand, is that it's very unfair to compare trailers and gameplay demos. A trailer is a beautiful shot. A trailer is this prepared -- you take one location, you put the perfect lights and the perfect camera angle and the perfect set-up. It looks set-up so it is beautiful and it is captured at super high definition and you post-process it and -- it's a trailer. It's a trailer and we pick beautiful shots."

Teixeira provides the perspective of someone intimately tied to The Witcher 3's development from day one. The idea that trailers made prior to the game even being playable must seem audacious to somehow who has seen how the game, piece by piece, grew from nothing to what it is today. The idea that those trailers might create inaccurate expectations from community members doesn't seem to cross his mind. Instead, he attributes the idea of a "downgrade" to community members believing developers are intentionally making the game worse. Whereas the reality is more akin to community members believing they were tricked into thinking the game looked better than the developers knew it would.

The difference, the distance between game players and the developer, being a view of marketing. Or at least that's the way it seems. Game players see marketing and advertisements and believe the trailers they put together, the post-processed screenshots and manufactured pre-alpha trailers, and believe them to be a product of the development team as a whole. Teixeira, on the other hand, sees this marketing and advertising as a subset of the company detached from the realities of the game itself. To him, comparing that game players see from initial trailers and media to the actual game, which is first shown in gameplay trailers and demos, is entirely "unfair."

The discussion moves on from that point, dealing further with what Teixeira views as the legitimate changes that the development team made to the game. Things that he believes might legitimately be worth discussing in regards to what's changed since the game was first shown and now:

"Gameplay demos, that's when you see the real game, when you see what the real game looks like. And we had three or four videos, gameplay videos. We had one in 2013, which was a demo in Skellig (sic?), which was a really long time ago and shortly after that demo we completely -- if you look at that demo, the graphics look totally different. They look totally different because at the time we were using a very old shader system. It wasn't this physically based shader with all the reflections and the shining metals and everything. It was very -- it was a little bit flatter. Some things were very sharp, or too sharp even. We had some problems with the vegetation that they had a sharpening filter that didn't work. After a while it was uncomfortable for the eyes. It's very hard to describe. When walking through the forest very sharp vegetation was terrible. So we changed the whole shader system, we put in the PBR (sic?) system. Then one year later we did this 35-minute demo in Novigrad.. (muffled) demo and so on walking through the forest. And it just keeps getting nicer and nicer. It's one of the most beautiful games ever made, probably."

Given the opportunity, I'm certain that Teixeira would go through early gameplay trailers and demo recordings second by second discussing how the game has changed in specific detail. These areas fall into the "optimization" category, according to him. As for the "downgrade" category, he quite clearly dismisses it as irrelevant. Would a member of the team who put those initial non-gameplay trailers agree? It's difficult to say.

Thus, the issue of The Witcher 3's "downgrade" doesn't come to a fruitful conclusion. The issue of whether it's fair to compare trailers created before a game even existed to the final game would likely be controversial both within a studio and within the greater gaming community. And even if all agreed that it was fair, who would then be at fault? The team behind early trailers for doing their best to make gamers excited for a game just beginning development? The developers for failing to make a game mirroring a trailer based off of early designs? Put that way it all seems rather ludicrous, but this growing issue of managing expectations is only being more and more relevant with modern games. 

The scope of that question, "Hype vs. Managed Expectations," is well beyond this article and definitely more than Mr. Teixeira likely wanted to answer. Judging from his interview, all he wanted to do was share how excited he was about his game. "One of the most beautiful games ever made, probably," were his exact words. I have a feeling that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will speak for itself on the matter.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Life is Strange Ep. 3: Chaos Theory out May 19, secrets lie within the Blackwell Academy

2 comments Rory Young - 11:04am (PST) Like Share

I'm betting Max and Chloe aren't just trying to get their yo-yo back

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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. 


The Division delayed, now planned for early 2016 launch

4 comments Rory Young - 1:00pm (PST) Like Share

Weird to think that The Division was meant to first come out in 2014, eh?

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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.



Lego Dimensions level packs for Portal 2, Doctor Who, Back to the Future and more confirmed

1 comments Rory Young - 7:48pm (PST) Like Share

If only one could import whatever Lego creation they wanted

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Lego Dimensions is about as exciting as a toy/game hybrid title can get without having actually debuted gameplay at this point. Last week rumors began swirling about certain unexpected properties being attached to the game, but today saw those properties and many others officially confirmed. Yes, due to the release of instruction booklets for upcoming Lego Dimensions merchandise being released early, we now know that the following properties will be part of Lego Dimensions: Portal 2, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, The Simpsons, Jurassic World and Scooby Doo. That's in addition to The LEGO Movie, DC Comics and The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz and other Lego franchises.

What's extra exciting is that Portal 2, Doctor Who, Back to the Future and The Simpsons will all be features in "Level Packs." That means that purchasing their in-store packs including a single character and two bonus Lego figures will also unlock additional content in-game. Players will be able to play through all new Portal content exclusive to Lego Dimensions, or maybe it's Portal content we've seen previously only in Lego form? Plus, I don't think I've ever played a Doctor Who game before, so it'll be exciting to see what kind of experience TT Games can put together for the outstanding British sci-fi show.

Here are the officially confirmed buy-able Lego Dimensions packs to be offered alongside the game when it launches later this year:

  • Base Game
    • DC Comics (Batman)
    • The Lord of the Rings (Gandalf)
    • The LEGO Movie (Wyldstyle)
  • Team Packs
    • Jurassic World (Owen Grady, Takashi Hamada (?))
    • Scooby Doo (Scooby Doo, Shaggy)
    • Ninjago (Cole, Kai)
  • Level Packs
    • Back to the Future (Marty McFly)
    • The Simpsons (Homer)
    • Portal 2 (Chell)
    • Doctor Who (The Doctor)
  • Fun Packs
    • 18 packs from The Lego Movie (Bad Cop, Benny, Emmet, Unikitty), The Wizard of Oz (Wicked Witch of the West), Legends of Chima (Laval, Craggar, Eris), Ninjago (Jay, Nya, Zane), The Simpsons (Bart, Krusty), The Lord of the Rings (Gimli, Gollum, Legolas), and DC Comics (Cyborg, Wonder Woman)

That seems to be the whole collection available day one for Lego Dimensions, though it's possible some of those level packs or fun packs could be pushed back to later waves. Whether TT Games, LEGO and Warner Bros. will push out smaller waves of toys pack by pack like Skylanders and amiibo have done, or if they'll only launch them in large waves with each new (and likely annual) game release is yet to be clear. This list of figures and packs certainly seems like plenty to collect for some time, though.

Lego Dimensions is currently planned for release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U starting September 27 later this year.