News articles search results by Rory Young
I won't lie, Turbine's MOBA Infinite Crisis really only gets me stirred up because I'd love to see the Justice League beating the crap out of each other. Never mind the Joker, Doomsday or the other villains, after all we see them fight in comic books every day. Now it looks like I'll get my chance, in fact everyone will, because Infinite Crisis announced today that they are now in open beta. Gamers can sign up and start playing right now.
To celebrate the big occasion, Turbine is also unlocking three new playable characters to beat the crap out of. There's Green Arrow, whose rising fame is due to Warner Bros. leather-clad, 30-something-playing-a-teenager TV show, Aquaman, who is always hanging out despite his irrelevancy, and Mecha Superman. Don't mix up that last one for Cyborg Superman -- Mecha's a good guy.
There's also a pretty slick CGI trailer showing off what Infinite Crisis is really all about. Heroes and Villains fighting, but only finding victory when working together. It really is like a Justice League comic.
Check out Infinite Crisis right now on PC entirely free. In Open Beta three different maps are available, as well as over a dozen heroes and villians to pick from. I'm not entirely sure what the income model is for Infinite Crisis, but it's probably safe to say it's much like League of Legends. Not everything is likely immediately accessible, it's either earned through playtime or pay-time. Ha.
Just in time for the game's launch on PlayStation 4
Leviathan, Diablos, King Moogle, and is that Gilgamesh? Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is less than a month away from launching its patch 2.2, fittingly titled "Through the Maelstrom". Today Square Enix released a patch preview trailer showcasing much of the content to be released in patch 2.2. I don't believe I'm exagerating when I say it's a Final Fantasy nerd's dream come true and A Realm Reborn players will be very pleased.
In addition to the friendly faces I mentioned above, there are several big chunks of content being added to keep A Realm Reborn's end game healthy. Here are the main content focuses of patch 2.2:
- Main Scenario - "Ever do the mysteries of the Echo and the Ascians elude the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, while the beast tribes rally with renewed ambition, threatening to unleash the wrath of another primal upon the land. To stave off the encroaching darkness and pull the realm back from the brink of destruction, the Warriors of Light plunge headlong into the maelstrom..."
- Side Story Quests
- Hildibrand, Agent of Enquiry - "When we last saw Hildibrand─agent of enquiry, inspector extraordinaire─he had received a letter of challenge from a mysterious marauder known to duel his victims and claim their weapons as his own. What will this battle hold for Eorzea's favorite detective? Who is this furtive fighter, and will he be brought to justice? The answers to all these questions and more can be found by joining Hildibrand and Nashu on their next case."
- Gilgamesh - "In his never-ending quest for power and glory, Gilgamesh─self-styled warrior of legend and collector of fine weaponry─now roams the lands of Eorzea. When a series of events leads to confrontation with this formidable foe, you must prove your mettle or see your blade lost to his ever-growing collection."
- Leviathan - "The Sahagin, the reviled beast tribe native to the Indigo Deep, have succeeded in summoning forth their voracious god, the primal Leviathan. How will the Warriors of Light stand against the might of the sea's most diabolical denizen?"
- The Second Coil of Bahamut - "Having fully explored the depths beneath Castrum Occidens, Alisaie's findings have served only to raise more questions regarding the Calamity, and the disappearance of her grandfather, Louisoix. The discovery of a second entrance to the labyrinth has rekindled her desire for answers, and she would once again ask for your aid in braving its depths. Will she find the answers she seeks, or something darker still?"
- The Lost City of Ampador
- Halatali (Hard)
- Brayflox's Longstep (Hard)
- Beast Tribe Quests
- Glamours & Gear
- "Adventurers of Eorzea now have a way to alter the appearance of their attire independently of its attributes. Magick your gear with glamours to project the likeness of one garment onto another, allowing for heretofore-unseen freedom when choosing your wardrobe."
- Gerolt's Masterworks
As should be obvious, there's a lot of exciting content coming down the pipline at Square Enix. It's awesome to see that the developers of A Realm Reborn are really reaching back into Final Fantasy history and mixing it with the great style and themes of their MMO. A Realm Reborn truly is the successor to the Final Fantasy franchise of old.
Patch 2.2 of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is planned for release later this month on PC and PlayStation 3. Also, don't forget that the PlayStation 4 version of A Realm Reborn will be released on April 14. Console players should definitely keep their ears open for news from the ongoing PS4 beta.
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A single piece of art and a paragraph of premise, just beautiful
Rarely can a single piece of art and a paragraph of premise create such a compelling announcement for a new game. Campo Santo, a recently formed studio of Telltale Games devs, Mark of the Ninja's lead designer and popular nerd artist Olly Moss, have announced their first game. Introducing Firewatch, a mystery set in the wilderness of Wyoming.
Henry is a recluse, escaping from a previous life to take up one in a lookout tower high in the wilderness of Wyoming, watching for fires that may or may not ever start. His only connection to the world as we know it is the voice of his supervisor, Delilah, over a handheld radio. When something strange leads Henry to leave the lookout tower:
"... you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have."
What sort of game Firewatch ultimately proves to be is yet to be seen, as the developers seem very tight-lipped about revealing anything. Perhaps they believe that the surprise, the intrigue, is significant to the experience they're creating. Whatever Firewatch may ultimately prove to be, it's hard not to be excited just based on the strips of info they've released today.
Already they've created these themes of isolation, being lost, searching for something, and fear of leaving or losing what you know behind. All of that just with a single image of a lookout tower and a brief introduction. It's surprisingly powerful, so it's difficult for me not to give huge props to the Campo Santo team. Make dat game, everyone! I want to play it.
Expect more details on Firewatch in the months ahead. No release window or platform details have yet to be announced.
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Wrap-up thoughts from my time with WildStar
Now that all the commotion is over for WildStar's big coming out party -- launch date announcement, preorder information revealed, NDA for the close beta ends, press previews published -- I wanted to wrap up my thoughts in a more casual fashion. I've written my fill on specific features and content and now I want to provide a more general overview of the game, my impressions of it and what it's outlook is for the future.
What WildStar is, no matter Carbine tries to pitch it as or what the press tries turn it into, is an MMO made for MMO players. Virtually every system and feature in WildStar is grounded in the core gameplay experiences built by its theme park MMO predecessors, from EverQuest and World of Warcraft to more modern MMOs like Star Wars: The Old Republic and even TERA. With those fundamentals WildStar is able to do very interesting things, but that doesn't change the fact that at its heart WildStar is an MMO for MMO lovers.
Check out the rest of my extensive WildStar Coverage published earlier today:
- WildStar launches June 3
- WildStar preorders star March 19
- WildStar Preview: Warplots, Battlegrounds, and Arenas
- WildStar Preview: Raids, Dungeons and Adventures
Level 1 is going to be WildStar's make or break point, much like other MMOs. Players will be flooded with content as they're introduced to basic quest and story structure, paths, crafting, and early access to PvP, Shiphands and so on. The fact that all of this content is scaled so early game content is quite tepid and menial, building into the complex late-game systems meant to carry the game, compounds the fact that early game is overwhelmingly uninteresting.
Hopefully players quickly focus in on specific gameplay that they're interested in, allowing them to skip by things otherwise time consuming in favor of progressing in meaningful content. Personally, I found myself skipping the meaningful content in favor of simply question just so I could progress to more challenging and compelling content. There's no solution for this. It's part of the theme park MMO experience that time investment becomes growth in both progression and overall enjoyment. The roller coaster drops and spins don't mean anything without the climb... or the wait in line.
WildStar's saving grace is that it has the best combat that I've played since Final Fantasy XI's launch. It features the mobility and skill-shots of the growing in popularity Korean MMO market mixed with the sensibilities and visual conveyance that western MMOs perform exceedingly well. Most of all, WildStar's combat just feels good -- even at low levels. Thank goodness WildStar's Elder Game is well-tuned to showcase the combat system in a myriad of was, via Raids, Dungeons, Adventures in PvE and Warplots, Battlegrounds and Arenas in PvE. Early game, of course, lacks all of this content. It's Carbine Studio's burden, I believe, to do a better job representing their combat system before players give up on it due to the traditional MMO grind.
Should gamers manage to struggle past the early game, by far the weakest portion of WildStar, they'll discover increasingly exciting content and rewards. Instanced PvP and PvE content will unlock every so many levels and ultimately players will reach the Elder Game. If it wasn't clear to me before, after Carbine's press event it definitely rang true -- WildStar is an end-game focused MMO. Judging from what I've seen of said end-game, players have a lot to look forward to.
Whatever your opinion may be on the value of 40-player content due to it being inaccessible to most players, if anyone has the opportunity then they should try very hard to do participate. All of WildStar's complex systems come together for Raids and Warplots in ways that give a uniqueness to the game. It's not only exciting as a prospective player, but promising. If this is WildStar's launch content, then what do the developers have planned for their monthly content patches?
For players that won't ever reach Raids or Warplots, there's a ton of supplementary content that looks very cool too. Housing looks like an awesome time sink that's just straight fun, but also has huge rewards for min-maxers. Crafting, which is inherently a niche system, looks well supported by the dev team and thus should be viable even if it doesn't turn out to be fun. I'd be pining for Dungeons, where boss fights look like great fun, if I hadn't seen Raids already and thus have been drawn to the larger, brighter light.
I could list each systems and say why they're interesting, but the point should be clear -- these are all terms MMO players have heard of before. All Carbine has done is recognize their importance to this type of MMO and focused in on making them fun and cool in a WildStar way. There's very little new here for experienced MMO players. WildStar is just the next iteration on this sort of MMO -- which is a great thing. It's a game MMO players should be excited to play. Everyone else, well, never say never.
Personally I hope WildStar finds a substantial audience, a chunk of World of Warcraft's aging or retired population is most likely. I don't really think The Elder Scrolls Online's release will affect it in a dramatic way, though if it does I expect it to be a positive impact rather than a negative one. Nothing like an MMO trying not to be an MMO to remind gamers that true MMOs are still great gun. It's hard to tell these days, however, what with the growing wave of free-to-play demands, which grosses me out. They want free to play, they shouldn't be surprised when they get worse MMOs. I almost want WildStar to succeed beyond expectations just so I can know this type of MMO still has a livespan in the modern MMO market.
That's how I stand on WildStar -- wary, but hopeful. Hopefully at least 39 other courageous souls will join me in the Elder Game so we can do the 40-man Raid.
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Indie studio Yacht Club Games can confirm that game development is a rough gig. As awesome as it looks and as highly anticipated as it may be, even their game Shovel Knight can't be released until it's done. Unfortunately, the date that Shovel Knight will be done will not in fact be the previously announced March 31. Today Yacht Club made "an executive decision" and delayed the game a few extra weeks.
No new release date was announced for Shovel Knight, unfortunately, as the team really wants to ensure they'll be able to get the game to an ideal state before launch:
"We don’t want to announce another release date until it's 100% locked in with both Nintendo and Steam, so please sit tight… we’ll announce a new, final release date very soon. But the game is like… so done! Here’s what we’re working on in our feverish final hours:
- Dialogue and scripted events are being finalized
- Finishing touches put on level design for the final levels
- Overall game balancing
- Platform specific standards so everything runs smoothly on your system of choice!
- Testing, testing, testing… on all platforms!"
Shovel Knight is an awesome 8-bit 2D action/adventure game starring a knight in shining armor with only his trusty shovel to defend himself. Yacht Club Games asked for around $75,000 via crowd-funding and received well over $300,000 in return. Just five minutes with the game and the quality and loving attention to detail should be quite apparent. I'm really hoping Shovel Knight becomes an instant classic... just as soon as it launches.
Expect more information on Shovel Knight's new release date in the weeks to come, as the title readjusts its plans to launch on PC (Linux, Mac and Windows), Wii U and the 3DS.
Carbine Studios' space fantasy MMORPG that's set to add rocket boosters and wings to the theme park ride archetype is now planned to launch on June 3. WildStar launches June 3! Two factions, eight races, six character classes, PvP including Arenas, Battlegrounds and Warplots, PvE including Dungeons, Adventures, Housing and 40-man raids -- that's WildStar in a nutshell. WildStar would never settle for being stuck in a nutshell though, because there's a planet named Nexus that needs exploring.
Carbine Studios' executive producer Jeremy Gaffney was about as excited as an excited developer gets during crunch time when he offered the following statement:
"We’re stoked to launch WildStar. We’re looking forward to seeing the first players begin their journey on the unexplored planet of Nexus. Both noobs and MMO vets will have a blast with our fast-paced combat, while experienced guilds and groups will build complete battle-fortresses using our Warplot system and tackle some truly epic raids. We’ve aimed for fun and unique content for MMO gamers of all stripes from level one to level cap and beyond. WildStar is a brand new IP and new universe that has attracted more than 1.4 million beta signups already, so it seems like other gamers are also eager for something new and different in the MMO space."
I'm sad to say it, but unfortunatley WildStar will not have a collector's edition. I know several hardcore fans were really looking forward to supporting the game by buying a big box of WildStar related paraphenalia, but Carbine really just wants to focus on getting their game out without worrying too much about the other stuff. Plus, with all the rage around MMO subscriptions recently, I doubt offering a $100 CE would bring in too much positive press (though I'd still love to see it happen). Maybe as an expansion.
It is pretty easy for them to throw together a Digital Deluxe Edition of the game, however. For an extra $15, or $75 total, Digital Deluxe purchasers will acquire the following bonus loot:
- Eldan hoverboard
- Eldan-tech costume
- Eldan player title
- Limited-edition Eldan dye set
That's in addition to the content of the Standard Edition, which includes:
- Copy of WildStar for PC
- 30-days of play time
- 3 7-day friend passes
- Eldan-themed Housing Décor item
As should be apparent, it seems like the Digital Deluxe Edition of the game is more of an opportunity for fans to show their dedication to the game as opposed to providing a bevy of epic additional content. Sure, an early hoverboard is cool and exclusive gear is always appreciated, but for $15 you're probably going to want a little more substance for your money. Unless you really are just that psyched for WildStar.
Start playing WildStar on June 3, or 3 days in advance with pre-order, exclusively on PC. The Standard Edition of the game will cost $60, the Digital Deluxe $75, and can be acquired either through Carbine's personal WildStar shop or standard online retailers like Amazon or GameStop. Make sure to check out WildStar's preorder details for the opportunity to get beta access or early game access.
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MMOs have lived and died as a result of their PvP systems and WildStar doesn't plan to launch without a robust selection of options for gamers who love to get their ganking on. They start with all the staple PvP systems of a theme park MMO: PvP servers with open world PvP, dueling for all servers, Arenas where pre-formed teams face each other in pure combat, and Battlegrounds where more casually formed teams fight over map-specific objectives. Then there's something new: Warplots.
Warplots are huge 40v40 PvP matches where each war party builds their own fortress of battle and fights to destroy their opponent's. Winners move up the rankings and losers move down. There's also a whole secondary system for war parties, rather like a PvP version of a guild, with internal rankings and permissions related to building the complicated fortress. Or, if "people" aren't your specialty then players can queue for Warplots as a mercenary and get paired in matches based off of a personal Warplot ranking separate from full-team Warplot rankings. Boom.
Let's break it down.
Arenas weren't show during the press event! Oh well. While I wasn't able to get to try out Arenas by themselves they were detailed and the philosophy behind them was discussed. Basically, Arenas are WildStar's way of offering an environment for pure competition between players. Pre-set teams of 2, 3 or 5 go head to head on what I believe will be two different maps, of which only the Slaughterdome Arena was shown. At level 50 each player can be a member of a single team of each size and will be ranked on their skill. Arenas will, of course, be available much earlier in the game for players wanting to fight ASAP (12 and 17 for the two maps, I believe).
Rather than simply have each team destroy each other once and requeue, Arenas will feature a "respawn count" that will deplete with each death. The winning team is the one that kills enough team members on their opponent's team to deplete that respawn count and then clean up whoever is left standing. In other words, a team is only as strong as their weakest link.
Arenas are meant to be played competitively. Carbine specifically implemented them for the competitive crowd who won't be happy with dueling, for the crowd that demands to know how they stand up against other players in skill. Carbine's just building the arenas where the fights take place. Yes, they want this to evolve into something considered an eSport.
Does "Capture the Flag" and "King of the Hill" ring a bell? Introducing WildStar's Battlegrounds, Walatiki Temple and Halls of the Bloodsworn. The first is a tiki-mask stealing map of different elevations, random mask spawns and cursed bridges. Damn those bridges! Halls of the Bloodsworn will be focused around securing a single capture point, the more team members on the point the faster it's captured, though several smaller sub-capture points can be taken to increase progress gain. Options!
WildStar considers Battlegrounds to be a less hardcore form of PvP Elder Game, which means they're meant to be casually queued for and played as much for fun than for anything else. That means that these two initial maps, which unlock sometime after 20, aren't traditional "Capture the Flag" or "King of the Hill" game-types. They have fun rules like being able to steal opponents masks or the sub-capture points. Trust me, the floor still runs red with blood, but these 10v10 maps are meant for winding down after Arenas or winding up before Warplots.
I was able to play a really great round of Walatiki Temple during the press event. The map's elevation changes, random mask spawn points around the center, and round shape accented to extremely mobile aspects of the combat system very well. There was a ton of knockbacks, slows, jumping between areas to surprise foes and everything worth expecting from these types of game modes.
My team quickly jumped to a 3-mask lead taking masks as they spawned in the center. A developer playing a Medic sitting next to me and I were able to capitalize on our opponents' disarray and lack of familiarity with the map (but seriously, most of the press at the event were super unfamiliar with MMOs in general). Then a few key figures of the other team stepped up. It must have been other developers, because they started stealing our tiki-masks from our base while a majority of our team fought an endless battle in the center of the map. Suddenly we were down 4-3 and things looked bad.
Then, much to my surprise things went both extremely lucky and extremely buggy. An opponent picked up a mask that had spawned directly in the middle of the map and, thinking victory was at hand, ran towards the wrong base. We ended up killing him just a few steps from our capture point and a number of us attempted to pick up the mask at the same time. To my surprise two of us, myself and the developer beside me, both picked up a mask. The bug powers above had divided the mask so that I might win (still in beta, folks). We cashed in and walked out the victors. Heals are overpowered.
Warplots, Part 1: The Rules
Here's the topic everyone has been waiting for, right? 40v40 organized PvP with city-building and city-destroying. It's the type of competitive, end-game, organized PvP that's been found lacking in, well, virtually every MMO I've ever been a part of. Other MMOs may have open-world organized PvP, sometimes with sieging, but while I love that too Warplots is something unique to itself. Carbine has a real opportunity to make something special here.
Let's start out like a player would. I form a war party to play in Warplots, which is rather like a guild, and promote my friends and guildmates into it for a total of around 35 people. I won't need exactly 40, because those extra slots will be filled by mercenaries when we queue up. Before we can do that though we need to make our Warplot, otherwise the enemy team will walk into our base and destroy us.
Not just anyone in the war party can build out the war plot. Only those with the right rank and permissions can perform the necessary actions to get a plot ready. Now that the permissions are straight the editor can be opened and the team can consider what plugs to put where. Plugs! Those familiar with WildStar's housing may be familiar with this term. See, a WarPlot isn't just a free-form, place structures where you please sort of environment. Only specific types of "Plugs" can be placed in very specific areas.
For example, the Warplot my team eventually played on featured the following plugs: Two hazard/NPC spawn plugs, two buff plugs, one travel plug, one ultra weapon plug, and at the center was our boss plug. Yes, a boss plug, where the Warplot can summon bosses that we've previously defeated in PvE (as long as we have their token) and send them to attack our enemies. All of these plugs can be swapped out for a number of different specific options, but they always have generally the same organization. Enemy teams have to fight through the hazards and NPC spawn plugs to get to the stronger, less immediately dangerous or passive plugs inside the base.
Once the warplot is finished the team can queue at any time, but they should be aware of one additional rule. Depending on the plugs the team has used in its warplot, a tax will be levied on the team throughout the match. See, a Warplot battle is a battle of attrition where each team tries to deplete their opponent's resource reserve. They can do this multiple ways, killing players, controlling points in the center of the map, destroying warplot structures, and so on. The bigger the warplot, the bigger tax on the teams. That means teams shouldn't equip plugs unless they're using them.
Then comes the battle. The field is set, with each team's warplot at either end of the battlefield and in the center a barren and rocky landscape with the five capture points that slow resource attrition. The winning Warplot has its ranking increase and all if the players on that team have their individual Warplot rankings bumped up as well. They're then free to spend their resources on PvP gear or Warplot plugs for the future as they see fit.
Warplots, Part 2: The Match
Yes, we got to play a Warplot match, though there were only enough players to feature a 20v20 match instead of 40v40. Before we get into the details I think it's important to say that most of the press at the event were first, not experienced with MMOs, second, completely unfamiliar with WildStar, and third, bad at PvP. I believe by the end of the match I had near double the kills of the second ranked player and I spent a lot of time exploring the map or completely lost. The match was still interesting, but it was not what it could have been. Lastly, before we start, I need to say that for some reason the opposing team's warplot didn't spawn and their base was empty the entire match. Huge bummer.
Despite all of the above, the Warplot match was ridiculously fun. I'd equip my hoverboard and charge forward until I found a fight, or spot one on my map, and I'd shoot my way through the enemies until none were left standing. WildStar's combat system is perfect for creating a frenetic, action-packed PvP system. The warplots weren't even needed. There were chases through hazardous environments, epic fights that began at one point and ended across the map with action all the way, small 1v1 skirmishes where other players cheered on both sides, and not once during the forty minute event could any of it could a single player simply stop and spam skills. Everyone was moving constantly -- it was exhilarating.
In terms of overall strategy, well, there were a few surprises mixed in with the otherwise expected results. Our opponents found that twenty players on a map built for forty resulted in their team being unprepared for the defenses our base offered. They also found that a lack of defenses resulted in them being overwhelmed early on. It was a slaughter.
Our team pushed to hold all five of the capture points in the wastelands between the two bases. To my surprise, it seemed like holding these was actually not too much of a lead for me team. Attrition, likely due to the taxes associated with our plugs, kept us relatively close to our plug-less opponents. Our team experimented with pushing into the enemy base to try and destroy their "Generators" which would immediately end the game, but either due to imbalance or our lack of numbers this proved 100% impossible. Thus, we farmed the enemy team.
While our team had the opportunity to upgrade our base's plugs, each with three tiers of upgrades, or to use a number of other benefits available to us, most of us just preferred to fight. The potential complexity of a match, upon further consideration, melts my brain a little bit. It's hard for me to imagine, what with the epic confrontations that I did experience, a more complicated match with enemy NPCs, lasers raining from the sky, or even a 40-man raid boss leading the charge against my own base. Let's just hope there's enough time between matches for big PvP guilds/war parties to keep open-world PvP running too.
What I think is important to walk away from this WildStar preview with is an understanding that Carbine is doing a great job offering opportunities to players. These are options, nothing more. Some are highly tactical and competitive, like Arenas, or strategic like Warplots, while others are more casual but still high on action, like Battlegrounds. There's lots of choices, which is great for players of a wide variety. Everyone can participate to the extent they're comfortable with... and get rewarded. I didn't get into rewards, because it shouldn't be a big deal vs. the actual experience of PvP, but trust me everyone will get plenty of loot (through rather traditional means).
It's easy for me to say that each of these Player versus Player match types will be equally successful, because I know that they all revolve around one core feature that I'm enamored with -- combat. Carbine's really created a great system here, a system focused on movement sure, but more than that skill shots. It's not about tab-targeting and mashing buttons, it's about precision, prediction and performance. It's about playing the game rather than relying on underlying systems like gear and class balance.
I played four different classes in my PvP adventures and each of them felt viable and fun in their own unique ways. Certainly Carbine has their work cut out for them in terms of ensuring nothing feels overpowered, but for an MMO they've definitely got something great on their hands. That doesn't change the fact that WildStar is still a theme park MMO 100%, but if PvP is any indication then at least Carbine is recognizing what they are and ensuring the best of that is available to players constantly.
Note: This preview is a result of my attendance at a Carbine Studios press event where room and board was provided. The hands-on experiences were had on a closed testing environment where the only other participants were other members of the press and Carbine Studios employees.
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WildStar's PvE side of the Elder Game equation
PvE and PvP, like two sides of a coin. Ha, yeah right. Everyone knows PvE is where it's at. Carbine Studios agrees, which is why they slapped me in the face with WildStar's PvE awesomeness last week during a press event showcasing many the game's previously unrevealed core features. Here be the place where we talk about the big, Elder Game focused PvE systems, by which I mean: Raids, Dungeons, and Adventures.
For those unfamiliar with the terms, that's Raids as in forty like-minded players struggling against the biggest bosses and the most complex scenarios to have graced an MMO since that one time in Molten Core when Ragnaros bugged out and killed everyone in one swing of his hammer. Dungeons, which are party-based, story-driven experiences when leveling, which at 50 gain a veteran mode that turns them into precise, challenging encounters where every role must perform exceptionally. Then there's Adventures, something new that WildStar is doing, which are unique missions that have complex and dynamic structures for parties to explore and discover.
Hopefully this preview, some of which is hands-on and some of which is hands-off, will provide a broader look at WildStar's PvE Elder Game.
Let's start off with the show stopper. WildStar will start off with two Raids, a 20-person Raid named the Genetic Archives and a 40-man Raid named the Datascape. Basically, nothing I say from this point on is going to accurately describe the intensity and complexity of the fights the press were shown from either dungeon. I figure it's best that I say that now, before I move on and don't adequately describe how insane Carbine Studios is and how impressed I am with what they're trying to achieve.
We, the press, did not play a raid. That would have been quite the joke for everyone to laugh at. My group couldn't even beat trash pulls in the first dungeon in the game. We did, however, get a live display of a developer showing us the in-game mechanics for several bosses from both Raids. We also saw beta testers who are currently attempting the earliest of encounters in Genetic Archives play through a boss fight unaware they were being recorded. Plus, there were a good number of videos just to drive points home.
Raids are, like I said earlier, extremely insane. Here's part one of that insanity. Those familiar with WildStar will understand that its combat system is based heavily on movement, skill-shots, and avoiding or reacting to "telegraphs" or more specifically big red dangers zones where damage is either happening or about to happen. A majority of the boss fights, mini-boss fights and trash pulls (they call them "base population" because calling them trash is a gross misrepresentation of how terrifying they are) feature more red on the ground than safe areas to walk. My first though was, "SHMUP," because these fights seriously seem like a bullet-hell game in 3D... but it's an MMO.
Continuing with part one, here are some examples of encounters we were shown. There's a room full of columns, that when the fight starts each column lights up with lasers sticking out of its sides and starts rotating. The boss then turns invisible and players have to hunt through this timing-based puzzle of spinning laser columns to find her. She then ports back to the middle and the raid has to make their way back to . Another fight takes place on a grid of discs. A single player flashes and he escapes to a point away from the group, where the disc he stands on turns into a bomb. As he runs the disc explodes, but another player begins to light up. This time, the red circle around him grows to half the room. When it explodes it takes half the tiles, dropping half the raid into the abyss. Then another player lights up. We saw literal spinning mazes around bosses, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Part two of the insanity, as if the telegraph hell wasn't enough, revolves around the fact that many of the bosses we saw had completely unique mechanics designed purely for their fight alone. For example, this one fight that sticks out in my mind involves a boss fight on a grid of tiles, not unsimilar to the one described earlier. However, this time time the tiles are not connected, there's a distance of open air between each one. A distance that can't be jumped. Luckily the developers were nice enough to provide players with an electric grappling hook. This allows each player to individually swing between platforms, or even to target another player and pull them towards themself. It wouldn't be a fun mechanic, of course, unless the boss made sure to knock players off the platforms constantly and then destroy the platform itself. What a jerk.
I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I'm doing raids, but I can't help being fascinated by the idea of them. In the time that Carbine spent discussing raids with me there were several moments where I thought back to individual experience I had in MMO end game where I'd said, "This is a really cool moment, I wish the whole fight was like this. Carbine genuinely seems excited about creating raid fights like that, focusing on the cool stuff and cutting out the lame and the boring. If anything, just the effort alone is appreciated.
Oh dear, oh dear. Do I really have to talk about dungeons now? WildStar features 5-man parties, which means that a dungeon composition typically includes a Warrior tank, a Medic healer and three DPS roles to fill out the party. I could have, no, should have played one of the important roles, but when we started the level 20 (first dungeon of the game) dungeon Stormtalon's Lair it was immediately clear things had gone very wrong.
We wiped on trash, err, the base population almost immediately. Our Medic didn't know how healing worked in WildStar and our Tank, bless his heart, probably never heard of "agro" before in his life. I'm mildly ashamed to say our team had a developer grant us "God Mode" only 15-minutes into the run. From there things went great! Our party was able to play through the whole dungeon and I only died three times with invulnerablity turned on.
Dungeons are, for comparison's sake, just smaller versions of the raids that will come along down the line. They're extremely challenging, with mini-bosses and full bosses bring devious and complex. Veteran Mode dungeons add mechanics to encounters, doubling down on difficulty and ensuring that players are never allowed to simply sit on their hands and farm dungeons for free.
Considering Stormtalon's Lair is one of the first dungeons in the game, it will come as a surprise when I say that the boss fights inside of it were comparable to Star Wars: The Old Republic's Eternity Vault, that MMO's final boss at retail launch. In fact, there were several similar mechanics from Soa, the Infernal One, that I found in the first boss fight and were better implemented. Yes, I'm saying that the first Dungeon fight in WildStar recreated some of the epic moments I never experienced until the very end game of another MMO. That's how much action is involved in these fights.
Unforunately WildStar will launch with only four Dungeons total, but if all four Dungeons provide an experience like the one I had in Stormtalon's Lair then they're easily worth a handful of other easily forgettable MMO dungeons. Like I said before, the attention to detail that went into each fight's design is extremely impressive.
To flesh out party-based Elder Game content, in addition to Dungeons Carbine is also introducing Adventures. There will be six Adventures at launch, though one is faction specific to each side so most players will only ever experience five of them. These guys scale up all the way to 50, thus providing a unique type of Elder Game Content. See, Adventures aren't meant to be repeated in the same fashion as Dungeons, because every playthrough of an Adventure is meant to offer choices that make each run a completely different experience. Yes, they have Veteran versions that drop gear to prep for raiding.
The press was shown one specific Adventure in particular to showcase the ideas behind the PvE game-type. The Malgrave Trail features the party following and protecting a caravan through the desert. It's no the real zone of Malgrave, but rather a simulation that the character "Caretaker" has created as a... test environment. A map was shown showing the dozens, and I mean dozens, of alternate routes that the Adventures could split towards depending on an assortment of choices or variables. Adventures aren't meant to be played the same way twice, and reward players for trying new things.
Additionally, where "Paths" only support Dungeon and Raids in a passive capacity, they take a primary role in Adventures. For instance on Malgrave Trail, additional Soldiers make for more combat-focused paths and Explorers make for an easier time wandering the longer-distance paths. Each path contributes and the party composition will definitely lead to complicated decisions the further along the path that players get.
Unique gameplay means unique rewards, too. Adventures can provide any number of items, from housing items to crafting stuffs depending on which paths were taken. Veteran Adventures will definitely result in very high-end gear, too. That is to say, Adventures are 100% viable Elder Game option for player otherwise focused on min-maxing their characters. Or, you know, they're just a great change of pace.
Other adventures beyond the Malgrave Trail, which is meant to be an MMO/WildStar take on the Oregon Trail game, include a murder mystery Adventure, a wave-based defense Adventure and more. What I love about the idea of Adventures is they provide gameplay options to players, and this is reflected in all of WildStar's Elder Game content. Players don't have to just follow the one path to "finishing" an MMO. It's not just about getting the next piece of gear, it's about constantly having fun and keeping things interesting.
One key thought is captured, bouncing around my head as I think about the PvE Elder Game of WildStar. It's that first boss fight in Stormtalon's Dungeon, which captured a moment from a fight I'd long forgotten and turned it into a whole awesome boss fight. That's what WildStar is going for. It's like they're creating lists of awesome things they remember from other MMOs and focusing on spreading that awesome stuff everywhere they can.
They don't want 10 mediocre Dungeons with one piece of end game armor each, they want four awesome Dungeons that ar challenging and will pull players back for the fun of it alone. They want one epic 20-person Raid and one epic 40-person raid and then they will let the community decide which one was more epic and make more of that content. They want quirky, fun and complex Adventures to be available for the times when everyone's tired of playing Dungeons and Raids.
Never underestimate a community's ability to devour content and turn things that would otherwise be fun to try and experiment with into repetitive, boring trite, but WildStar's doing their best to create MMO content that doesn't just feel like the same old MMO content. At least, that's the impression I picked up from my time with the game so far.
I can't wait for everyone to see some of these WildStar Raid boss fights in motion.
Note: This preview is a result of my attendance at a Carbine Studios press event where room and board was provided. The hands-on experiences were had on a closed testing environment where the only other participants were other members of the press and Carbine Studios employees.
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Preordering is better than the Digital Deluxe Edition
WildStar is launching June 3, which means that Carbine Studios has about three months to get their stuff together and launch a game. Wasting no time at all now that the announcement is out there, preorder information for the subscription-based MMORPG is here. Starting March 19 gamers will be able to preorder WildStar for $59.99 or the Digital Deluxe Edition for $74.99.
In WildStar's case, however, preordering is something almost all potential players is going to want to do. Most of the bonuses typically included in a Digital Delux Edition are encluded as bonuses for preorders. It sounds like WildStar really needs folk to put their money where their mouth is ASAP. Show them what they get for preordering, list of bulleted points:
- Early game access beginning Tuesday, May 31 (three days prior to the game’s official launch).
- An exclusive Rocket House
- A mini-ship housing decoration, which grants players additional rest experience points.
- A 10-slot storage bag to increase character inventory
- The opportunity to reserve character and guild names prior to launch
Wow, list of bulleted points, does the kitchen sink come with that too? Ha. Ha. Ha.
In all seriousness, early game access, beta access, the ability to reserve character names and some cool junk too are all everything most MMO players love to get when they're buying an MMO early. These are typically things MMO love to charge more money for, like in a Digital Deluxe Edition, but WildStar chose to go the preorder route. Interesting choice if you ask me. A choice I will gladly take advantage of!
For more information on what's included in the WildStar Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions, check out the official June 3 launch announcement. Again, preorders for the subscription-based MMO open up on March 19 (next week) and the full game will launch on PC starting June 3.
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Update Both Xbox Live and PC servers are now back online
Update 3: Respawn's official Titanfall Twitter account has confirmed that PC connectivity issues have been resolved and players can now connect to matchmaking servers. Let me note here that the EA support page still lists the server issues as ongoing.
Our team has resolved the PC connectivity issues and you should now be able to connect to matchmaking servers. #Titanfall— Titanfall (@Titanfallgame) March 12, 2014
Update 2: Titanfall's PC servers, which had up to this point been running fairly smoothly, have now gone under. EA has confirmed that they are experiencing "unexpected downtime" for their Titanfall PC servers and currently have no further information at this time:
Titanfall is currently experiencing connection problems, which means you may not be able to connect to online play, or even might get dropped from an online match you're currently playing.
Rest assured that we're addressing this problem and will provide updates as soon as possible.
Thank you for your patience. Please stay tuned to this article for more information.
It was meant to be the most glorious of days, Titanfall's launch on PC and Xbox One. In the days prior several extremely high-scored reviews were released and to say marketing for Respawn Entertainment's online first-person shooter was excessive is one hell of an understatement. Everyone wanted launch day to go smoothly, all the way up to the point that it didn't.
For the better part of the day Microsoft's "Xbox Live Core Services" or their login servers to be more clear, have been listed as "Limited". That means that for many Titanfall launch day purchasers, the exact number of players effected unclear, Titanfall has been inaccessible. Titanfall is of course a game that requires an online connection through Microsoft's Xbox Live servers to work. In other words, another online game's launch has gone terribly.
Responsibility is easy assign in this case, however, as Microsoft quickly assured gamers that it was their personal servers having issues and not Respawn Entertainment's. Respawn and EA have repeated this sentiment, which is to be believed considering the PC version of the game is not experiencing similar server issues. They're experiencing different server issues, and additional technical issues on top of that.
Several now deleted Tweets from the official Titanfall Twitter account have mention issues including "longer than usual load times" and that "It may take a few attempts" to get into games as they're freezing with an "Initializing" message. Other problems include technical issues for gamers running multiple GPU PCs, for which Respawn states they're currently working on a patch. In other words, PC users may run into problems, but otherwise the game should be fully playable.
Unfortunately, Xbox One gamers aren't so lucky. Instead, we've received little to no updates on the situation at Microsoft. All user complaints that they are unable to login are being pointed to a server status page that has not been updated a single time beyond his lone message:
"We've received reports that some users are having difficulties signing in to Xbox Live. Our team is working hard to get this issue fixed as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience while we work. We'll have another update for you in 30 minutes."
When the issues will be solved is unclear, though reports are saying once logged into Xbox Live access to Titanfall works quite smoothly.
Should gamers be surprised that this is happening? No, because large online titles constantly fail to provide support for launch day. From Sim City and Diablo III's abysmal starts in recent memory, all the way back to World of Warcraft and beyond, online games rarely scale their technology to the point it needs to be at for launch day traffic. Login servers just happen to be the bottleneck where a majority of the issues happen.
Should it be okay that this is happening? Absolutely not. Launch purchasers of Titanfall deserved better service than this. Even if Respawn is passing the blame onto Microsoft, they should have done the extra work to ensure their server partner could adapt to the server strain. There is no more important day to ensure players can play their game than launch day.
Oh well, I guess.
Update: As I published this story, Microsoft released an update saying their servers were now up and running and pointed gamers towards these following directions:
Follow these steps to power cycle your Xbox One Console:
- While the console is on, press and hold the console’s Xbox button for 5 seconds.
- The console will power down.
- Wait 30 seconds, and then turn your console back on by again pressing the Xbox button.
Note: If your console is in Instant-On power mode, the above steps will shut the console completely off. Instant-On mode, or the ability to turn on your console by saying “Xbox On,” won’t be enabled until you restart the console.
Final Fantasy X was released almost fourteen years ago, back in an age where the PlayStation 2 dominated the console wars. Think about that, a whole generation of consoles has passed since Final Fantasy X was released, yet here we are again celebrating the game's remastered rerelease. Heck, the remaster may be just as anticipated as modern Final Fantasy releases by a number of gamers. Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2's HD remasters launch March 18.
To celebrate next weeks launch is, of course, a launch trailer showing off plenty of visual for both titles. It shouldn't be too surprising to see that many of the models look outstanding with their updated graphics. All of the colors are quite vivid and crisp and spell animations are better than ever. More than, however, is how impressive X-2 looks. Just goes to show how much of a difference the brief between X and X-2's release graphics improved. Dem Aeons.
Make sure to pick up the Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster package, available for both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita starting March 18. In retail the PS3 version will come on a single disc, where the PS Vita's 2-in-1 package will feature X on the game card and X-2 as a download via voucher.
Launch Trailer - Youtube
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TowerFall Ascension unlocks later today (around 2:00 PDT) on both PlayStation 4 and PC, setting free the once OUYA exclusive local-multiplayer arrow shooting game. Little do gamers realize what they'll soon have unleashed upon themselves. Easily the best game offered on the OUYA, TowerFall will undoubtedly find a very healthy audience of couch-coop fans. It's a beautiful thing, how TowerFall encourages us to game together.
What first left its mark on me is seeing TowerFall during a convention. I can't remember where I saw it first, but I do remember that I never saw a controller sitting idle. A horde of gamers surrounded the small four-person couch cheering and patiently waiting for their next round. Then I saw the exact same thing at the next event I visited, and the next and the next and so on. Never once was a controller idle. TowerFall is that kind of game.
Pick of TowerFall Ascension, now with a huge single-player or co-op "Quest" mode and dozens of new maps and features, for PlayStation 4 or PC. Oh and it's also available on OUYA still, too! Price hasn't been clarified yet, but I think this one is going to be hard to pass up no matter the price. Well, as long as you've got four controllers for your platform of choice already.
No spoilers, unless you didn't know a guy whose name rhymes with Boland is dead
Tales from the Borderlands is a great example of what kind of brilliant nonsense the gaming industry can come up with over a few drinks. Who would have thought that Telltale Games and Gearbox would find common ground with each other, ultimately leading up to plans for an episodic adventure game based in the Borderlands world of Pandora? Yet here we are, and luckily thanks to a recorded SXSW panel we have a better understanding of how something like Tales from the Borderlands came to be.
Booze. Booze started it all. A couple of drinks between friendly businessmen resulted in this game. That's it! Well, that and both companies being excited at the idea of what the other could do for them. Gearbox thinks there's a narrative edge to Borderlands that would never find voice otherwise, and Telltale thinks there's a depth and drama to the characters and world of Borderlands that only they can give voice to. Perfect match?
That's not all the panel is limited to, however. There are a ton of details that come to light, like where Tales from the Borderlands falls with regards to canon, who the game's protagonists are and plenty more. Thanks goodness the panel was recorded, which means everyone can see exactly what sort of ridiculousness to expect from this game.
Tales from the Borderlands is planned to be released in episodically starting in 2014. Odds are, knowing Telltale, it will be released on every platform they can get their hands on.
Now nobody has a good excuse not to play Gone Home
Gone Home was my personal game of the year for 2013, but it had one glaring issue -- it wasn't available on console. I didn't have the opportunity to share that experience with console gamers. Thank goodness that's now changing, as The Fullbright Company is bringing Gone Home to consoles soon care of a publishing deal with Midnight City. Soon no one will have an excuse as to why they skipped out on this game.
The Fullbright Company's co-founder Steve Gaynor couldn't help but share his excitement at finally bringing Gone Home to consoles:
"Ever since we released Gone Home on PC, we've had people asking us-- 'When's it coming to console? We've been looking and looking for the right partner to help us, and finally after much searching, Midnight City fit the bill. They have a great understanding of what an indie needs, how to get the word out about the game, and help us get the best versions of the game possible to all those players that have been waiting patiently to experience Gone Home in their living rooms. Viva la Midnight City!"
Unfortunately no specific console have yet been announced for the port. Obviously the hope is that it will reach both generations of Sony and Microsoft's consoles, but until Midnight City confirms that we'll have to sit and wait patiently. Gah, what a perfect game to include as the PlayStation 4's PS+ title of the month. It would be one of the best gifts Sony could give.
Expect more information on Gone Home soon, but I'd highly recommend picking it up on PC if waiting doesn't sound like a good idea.
All that delicious candy, someone has to eat it
Double Fine has many excellent original properties that fans would love to see sequels for. There's just something about the wholesome charm of Costume Quest and all that delicious candy that gives it priority over the rest, however. Thus, it fills me with glee to say that Double Fine, in partnership with Midnight City, announced Costume Quest 2 today for launch on Halloween 2014.
Costume Quest is a quirky, simple RPG where a couple of kids start out trick or treating on Halloween and, well, things get a little out of hand. The two are able to fight enemies much larger and terrifying than themselves using costumes they build and equip themselves, as well as recruiting other kids in the neighborhood to help then along the way. It's ridiculously cute and the perfect Halloween game for any game player.
It doesn't sound like Costume Quest 2 will vary much from the original game's formula. Wren and Reynold will return, hopefully together as opposed to lone protagonists out to rescue their siblings. Oh, and the combat system is said to be getting reworked in order to have more depth and complexity. I think everyone loved the idea of Costume Quest's combat, costumed heroes fighting big monsters, but it was a bit too slow moving an unstrategic to have much depth.
Costume Quest 2 will be coming out around Halloween 2014 on "consoles and PC." Expect a digital release for sure, likely on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 since Double Fine has experience publishing there and hopefully on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One too. I double Double Fine wouls skip a platform as any sort of political statement.
Some things change, some things stay the same
After much confusion over the past week, Respawn Entertainment has now confirmed and announced Titanfall's "Season Pass" of DLC. Yes, while Titanfall won't have microtransactions of any sort, the multiplayer-only game will indeed feature several "content packs". The Season Pass will include three such content packs and cost a total of $24.99. Note that Respawn specifically said "content" packs and not map packs or DLC in general.
Unfortunately Respawn did not announced the names or content of the three content packs at this time. This is likely because Respawn was forced to rush this early announcement as a result of several misleading stories published recently stating Titanfall would not feature a Season Pass. Odds are the packs will each feature multiple maps, as well as perhaps weapons, weapon mods, and the same variety of content we expect from Call of Duty. Or perhaps Respawn has grown up a bit and we might see something more substantial? We'll see.
Titanfall launches March 11 on PC and Xbox One, followed by March 25 on Xbox 360. PC gamers can purchase the Season Pass right now, or they can upgrade their Titanfall preorder from the standard edition to the "Digital Deluxe Edition" which costs $79.99. Basically, it's another $5 in savings on top of the $5 saved buying the Season Pass instead of each pack individually. Console Titanfall buyers can each pick up the Season Pass for $24.99 as their game launches on their respective platform.
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Summary: Titanfall, Titanfall, Titanfall, March 11, Titanfall
The Xbox One's March multiplayer update has gone live! With a focus on improving Party functionality as well as Friends List utility and more, the March "Titanfall Patch" has been highly anticipated by early Xbox One adopters since the console launched. To say some things just work right may be quite the understatement. Today's patch will go a long way to solve that, as well as prepping the console for the launch of both Twitch streaming and Titanfall on March 11.
For a full round-up of features from the patch, Microsoft CPO Marc Whitten wrote up a blog (or had someone else do it for him) with a handy bullet pointed list:
- Get to your friends list faster. The friends list is now front and center on the homepage of the Friends app. Click the Social tile on Home, or say “Xbox, go to Friends” to see who’s online and what they’re up to. From there you can quickly send messages and get into a party.
- Party chat on by default. When you party up, chat audio is turned on by default.
- Chat with friends playing different games. Party chat is now separated from people playing your game, so you can chat with your friends who are online or you can chat with everyone playing the game.
- “Invite friends to game” option available in your multiplayer titles. Similar to Xbox 360 titles, when you’re inside a game's menu you have a simpler and quicker way to set up your multiplayer battles. Selecting “Invite friends” lets you invite friends to your game and party.
- See a list of “Recent Players.” This is a simple list that shows you Xbox Live members you’ve recently played with, making it easier to stay in touch with people, add new friends after your multiplayer sessions, or report a player for bad behavior.
- Twitch live streaming support. The best broadcasting and spectating experience on any game console is on its way to Xbox One with the new Twitch app launching on March 11, just say “Xbox broadcast” to start sharing. Xbox One is the only next-gen console that allows you to archive your Twitch broadcasts and view live Twitch streams regardless of their original source.
- Dolby Digital sound. Optical out now supports 5.1 Dolby Digital, enabling devices such as sound bars and headsets with only optical in to be able to receive 5.1 Dolby Digital from Xbox One over optical. We’re also adding support for Dolby Digital surround sound over HDMI. Now you’ll be able to have the best sound quality no matter what speaker setup you are using.
- We will now support 50Hz output to Xbox One. You can set the live TV app to display at 50Hz for full or fill modes, fixing the frame rate issues some users in Europe have been experiencing while watching live TV on Xbox One.
There are several smaller tune-up patch notes as well that don't deserve their own bullet point. Things like the ability to adjust the volume with voice commands, view game clips in snap mode, SmartGlass nonsense, browser improvements and some other quality-of-life changes. Altogether, a good patch that should sate Xbox One owners for the interim -- unless something else is broken now.
Up until now I've completely avoided the friends list as much as possible, the thing is just unmanageable. It takes forever to load, makes no differentiation between followers and friends, and did I mention loads super slowly? I'd love to see what my friends are up to all the time, like on PlayStation 4, and perhaps now that will be easier. Ah, I could rant a bit on all of these patch notes. They're all just so insanely necessary. Thank goodness they're now available in time for Titanfall.
Turn on the ol' Xbox One and patch it up. There's no time to lose!
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"To all those wandering in the dark, may you be visited by a spark." Not exactly the most profound tagline Child of Light could have come up with, but certainly a fanciful way to introduce the concept of co-op to the RPG. Much like Mario Galaxy did in the past, Child of Light will feature asymmetrical cooperative play where the second player controls a floating, helpful spark. No motion controls though, thank Zeus.
In today's Child of Light trailer, which Ubisoft Montreal was kind enough to put together, we get a proper introduction to the spark co-op partner and how it can impact gameplay. The little spark can be directed to reveal dark places, open hidden passages, disarm traps, distract enemies, and apparently features a variety of interactions. The only missing aspect from the trailer is whether the spark can directly influence the RPG turn-based combat.
Very little is still known about what exactly the spark is, well, beyond a spark. There's now the quote I opened this article with, which gives a bit of lore to the spark. Perhaps it's more of a mythical guardian to the world's hero, sort of live Na'vi to Link? In previous Child of Light screenshots, we're also able to see that the spark has its own little face, rather like a Dragon Quest slime... though perhaps not as terrifyingly devoid of emotion.
Child of Light is Ubisoft's internal "indie" RPG, made by a small team at Ubisoft Montreal and planned to be released on April 30. Expect it to be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U as a digital relase for only $14.99.
Co-op trailer - YouTube
Uncharted without Amy Hennig is a different beast entirely
The Uncharted franchise and Amy Hennig inseparable, yet Naughty Dog is faced today with exactly that most unlikely of situation. Sony has confirmed that Amy Hennig has departed from Naughty Dog. Amy's current project, likely leading and writing Uncharted 4 as she did its prequels, will reportedly continue development with its timeline uninhibited. Neither Amy Hennig nor Naughty Dog have released a statement.
Early reports started the rumor that Amy Hennig had left Naughty Dog, after which Sony provided the following statement:
"We can confirm that Amy Hennig has left Naughty Dog. Amy has made significant contributions to the game industry and we appreciate all she has done for Naughty Dog. The development timeline of Uncharted will not be impacted."
Suspiciously, the earliest reports on the matter stated that Amy Hennig was "forced out" of Naughty Dog by fellow directors Neil Druckman and Bruce Straley. Both men were heavily involved in the development of Uncharted 2, as well as The Last of Us, but not as deeply involved in Uncharted 3 which Hennig helmed. IGN's sources apparently provided no other details, which makes for a rather unreliable and slanted portrayal of the situation. Unfortunately, those are the only details available currently.
Amy Hennig has up to this point built an extremely impressive resume, directing of course the Uncharted series but also working on the Jak and Daxter series as well as the Legacy of Kain franchise. There's no doubt in my mind that Amy will soon find a new home and whatever project she starts next will immediately become a highly anticipated title.
Naughty Dog, of course, will trudge on with Uncharted 4, potentially The Last of Us 2, and so on. Hopefully IGN's report proves untrue and Amy left Naughty Dog amicably to pursue other creative avenues.
Not a particularly shocking announcement
Microsoft announced earlier today that Team Dakota's unique Project Spark will be starting its beta up on Xbox One after previously being exclusive to Windows 8.1 platforms. For those unfamiliar, Project Spark is a unique experience that provides a robust, yet easy to use tool-set to gamers to create, play and share a variety of games. What sort of games? Judging from what's come out of the Windows 8.1 beta the sky really is the limit.
With the addition of the Xbox One beta, Windows 8.1 creators will now be able to test their creations on a console. Yes, Project Spark features both cross-play and cross-saves. That means creators can develop on their platform of choice and then bring it over to the other to experiment on. I'm not quite persuaded, however, that the tool-set will be as user friendly on console as on the PC. Hopefully Team Dakota can prove me wrong.
Those interested in Project Spark can register for the Xbox One beta via the game's official website. For some examples of what sort of gaming experiences can be created, Microsoft has also provided a trailer, a beta montage of sorts, with a dozen such games showing the breadth of what can be made. Hopefully the Xbox One beta is as productive as the PC one!
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