Let freedom rule as The Division adds real-money cosmetic purchases

, | News

Today seems like a good day to talk about Ubisoft’s The Division. The dystopian shooter MMO set in a future New York City, broken by plague and economic hardship, streets made into a war zones thanks to roving gangs and totalitarian police, somehow seems fitting now. The good news is that there is a plan to make The Division great again. Premium Credits, a new in-game currency, will be implemented in the upcoming patch 1.6 for purchase with real-world money. Those Premium Credits will be used in a new in-game vanity store. Cosmetic items only, so if you want to get anything more than snazzy new paint schemes, emotes, or clothing textures, you’ll have to grind for it the old fashioned way.

According to Ubisoft, they will not be selling anything for Premium Credits that gives anyone an advantage over other players. Additionally, players will still be able to earn vanity items as normal mission rewards and loot drops. It should be noted that almost exactly a year ago, Ubisoft’s Magnus Jansen told VG247 that they would not have microtransactions for The Division that gave any players a competitive edge.

Alien Shooter TD lives up to every single word in its name

, | Game reviews

I don’t play tower defense games. They’re beneath me. They’re for people who want to turtle in an RTS, but they don’t want to actually play an RTS. They don’t even want an AI. At least MOBA players, who want to play an RTS without actually playing an RTS, are going up against other players. Tower defense players just want to shoot stuff that runs at them to get shot.

So I don’t play tower defense games. But when I do, they have to get four things right. Alien Shooter TD gets those four things right, plus a fifth thing. So if I played tower defense games, I would play Alien Shooter TD.

So for the sake of argument, let’s say that I do play tower defense games. Continue reading →

Wondering what the director of Die Hard has been doing? It’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands!

, | News

John McTiernan, the celebrated director of Die Hard, Predator, and other smart action films, directed a Ghost Recon: Wildlands commercial. The Red Dot live action trailer above was quietly released last week by Ubisoft in the European market, but it’s only now coming to light that it was helmed by John McTiernan. According to Vulture, it’s the director’s first gig in 14 years.

What happened to McTiernan is a convoluted tale involving a corrupt private investigator, federal wiretapping, and literal plastic explosives. The short of it is that John McTiernan wound up spending about a year in prison, making him persona non grata in many Hollywood negotiations because he was uninsurable as a director. Apparently, that’s changed or he’s found a back door to return to directing. Either way, yippee-ki-yay!

Presenting the winners of 2016’s annual Quarter to Three Quarterlies

, | Games

Way back in 2007, the Quarter to Three community voted on the best games of the previous year. The numbers were tallied, the winners declared, and the awards weren’t handed out in an extravagant ceremony hosted by Geoff Keighley. It was our own Peoples Choice Awards, decided by the folks who hang out in the virtual spaces of our forum. We’ve been doing these annual Quarterlies ever since.

So what game is the big winner after ten years of Annual Quarterlies? Continue reading →

Injustice 2 will boost your power, if you purchase it the right way

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Injustice 2, the sequel to Injustice: The Gods Among Us, will continue the story of a Superman gone insane. In this universe, a grief-stricken Superman decides to up-end over 80 years of comic history by becoming a murderous tyrant. True to its dystopian premise, the game will have pre-order bonuses and alternate editions that offer a larger roster of fighters to savvy or richer buyers.

NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have revealed that Darkseid, the DC Comics uber-baddie, will be available as a preorder bonus, and Reverse-Flash, Power Girl and John Stewart Green Lantern will be “premier” skins for The Flash, Supergirl, and Green Lantern if you pick up the more expensive Deluxe or Ultimate editions of the game. Comic nerds need not get upset by the flip from Supergirl to Power Girl. According to the developers, these premier skins include new voices, costumes, and dialogue, making them a bit more substantial than the normal fighting game color swap. The Deluxe edition of Injustice 2 will also give owners three planned DLC characters, and the Ultimate edition will grant access to nine future DLC characters. Excelsior!

Injustice 2 launches on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 16th.

Marvel Heroes is getting the equivalent of a comics universe reboot

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Civil War, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Flashpoint, The Infinity Gauntlet, and That One Time Peter Parker Sold His Marriage to the Devil. These are all milestone events in superhero comics that forever changed the makeup of their respective universes. Powers changed, origins were rebooted, and new readers were given an easy way to jump in to the fandom. Like these crossover events, Marvel Heroes’ big update will refresh and redesign almost every aspect of the game.

While the free-to-play superhero Diablo-like from Gazillion will remain an action slugfest, the developers intend the “biggest systems update ever” to update every single hero in one massive patch. The item system gets a thorough shuffle. The way characters move was reviewed. Even the endgame gets an overhaul with the new Infinity System. It’s like when Uncle Ben turned out to have been killed by Sandman all along. Everything you thought was wrong!

Marvel Heroes’ Biggest Update Ever will launch on Thursday, January 19th.

Is the Last Roman DLC for Total War: Attila too limited, too small, and too real?

, | Game reviews

Total War: Warhammer is the pinnacle of what Creative Assembly has been doing for over 17 years. But with orcs. That last bit is important. A lot of the appeal of this Total War is that you have monsters and wizards and spells and ogres and things that fly. You have stuff you never had in Total War. You do things with them that you never did in Total War. You capture elf strongholds and sneak through orc tunnels and stave off the taint of chaos corruption. You equip legendary magic items, level up various flavors of fireball spells, and build a reliquary so you can recruit ghost soldiers who ride on ghost horses. Queue up some waypoints for your dwarf gyrocopter to drop bombs on hapless minotaurs.

How can you go back to mere history after that? How can you go back to something as mundane as levies with nothing but a tunic, a spear, and a pair of sandals, whose most dramatic upgrade will be heavy armor and some sort of halberd?

Actually, the more pertinent question is “how can you not?” Continue reading →

Nintendo presents gun-fingers, cow-milking, and eating as the Switch’s killer launch game

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What unique games will the Nintendo Switch have available on its March 3rd launch? There’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it’s still a cross-platform game that will also be available for the Wii U. The same goes with Just Dance 2017. Arms, the spring-fisted fighting game is slated for “Spring 2017” so it will likely miss launch day. Super Mario Odyssey isn’t coming out until the holiday season. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is slated for April 28th, and it’s a remake of the last Mario Kart anyway. No, the two completely Switch-only games confirmed to be available on March 3rd are Super Bomberman R and 1-2-Switch. Bomberman is Bomberman, but 1-2-Switch is something else entirely.

Remember Wii Sports and how everyone immediately grasped the concept of waggling a controller for bowling or boxing? Nintendo sure hopes you do, because they want you to have the same thought process for 1-2-Switch. Using the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers as pretend cow teats, pistol grips, tennis racket handles, and a bevy of similar phallic objects, players square off in minigame waggle contests the likes of which haven’t been seen since Lando Calrissian and Han Solo shimmied their hips in an epic dance battle. It’s Wii Sports again, but instead of being a pack-in to demonstrate the fun and versatility of the hardware, Nintendo wants $50 retail for the experience. Doubtless there will be buyers if only to have something other than the new Zelda game to play, but is this really the push for the Switch?

Worst thing you’ll see all week: The Monster

, | Movie reviews

The best horror movies have the quality of an allegory. But being an allegory doesn’t excuse you from the task of telling a good story. The Monster sets up its allegory and then morphs into exactly the horror movie you’re expecting. So far, so good. But it keeps going. And going. And going. Eventually, you’re watching a bog-standard creature feature that has lost its allegory. It’s as if writer/director Bryan Bertino forgot what he was doing. The Monster has the quality of someone wandering into the kitchen, forgetting what he was there for, downing a beer at the sink real quick, and then belching. Roll credits.

Before it starts shotgunning its horror movie trope beer, The Monster is fairly riveting. Partial credit to Bertino’s experience with slow creepy set-ups, as he demonstrated in The Stranger, a movie about how home invasions can really rekindle a romance. But most of the credit goes to the achingly effective performances from Zoe Kazan and especially the young Ella Ballentine. The actresses connect unflinchingly, spinning out the sort of relationship you almost never see in movies, and certainly not in horror movies: an abusive parent choking on her own shame and a terrified child who has no idea what to do. These aren’t the usual villain and precocious victim. This is a real horror movie.

But once The Monster forgets where it was going and literally careens into creature feature territory, it unravels under the weight of bad decision after bad decision. On the part of the filmmaker and the characters. It goes from suggesting to brightly lighting, almost never a good idea in a horror movie. It leans heavily on characters doing stupid things like, oh, not leaving when there’s a monster in the woods. And it creates a Cujo-like situation without understanding what made Cujo work. If a mother and child are trapped in a car by a rabid Saint Bernard, they’re just going to wait until they’re rescued. Boring. But if a mother and a diabetic child without his insulin are trapped in a car by a rabid Saint Bernard, you’ve got a real horror show. But The Monster forgets about the diabetic child without his insulin part, which means it’s ultimately about a couple of people who didn’t have the sense to wait in the car. But at least you get some good backstory about them, and at least you get to appreciate a child actor who hopefully has a long career ahead of her.

Another stage of responsibility has come to The Sims 4

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Ever since its launch in 2014, there’s been something missing from The Sims 4. While previous installments of The Sims featured toddlers, that precocious time between infancy and childhood, The Sims 4 didn’t. That absence has been a sore point in the community, but Maxis is finally correcting the issue. Toddlers are now in the game thanks to a free update. According to the developers, it’s been on their to-do list for a while.

I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve been talking about this particular update for years.

Toddlers in The Sims 4 come with hundreds of new animations, objects and Sim interactions. Just like real toddlers, Sim parents can get them addicted to videogames on their tablets, deal (or not) with their tantrums, and raise them to be ungrateful monsters. The Toddler update is available now on PC.

The drums of war haven’t started beating in Elite Dangerous, but the drummers are here

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Is Elite Dangerous headed to war? Last week, players of Elite Dangerous were stunned when alien ships began showing up in the galaxy. Some pilots cruising in secluded sectors of space found their ships temporarily disabled while ominous alien ships scanned them before shooting into the void. It was a surprise to most fans because Frontier’s space sim MMO has featured only humans, with rare evidence of a long-gone alien presence. Longtime fans of the Elite games assumed the alien artifacts belonged to the Thargoids from previous games in the series, but up until last week’s encounters, the remnants were harmless Easter Eggs.

Aliens in a previously human-only galaxy would be scary enough by themselves, but the latest update for Elite Dangerous features a rather distressing (or exciting) increase in the galaxy’s military power. Some trading ships have had their hull strength doubled. Attack craft have been given additional component slots. The Viper, the ubiquitous fighting ship, now has increased maneuverability. Although aliens aren’t mentioned in the patch notes, it seems obvious that humanity is gearing up for something.

Here’s what happened to The Banner Saga 2

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The Banner Saga, Stoic’s Kickstarter success story, made a big splash when it launched in 2014. The stylish Viking journey game combined roleplaying with turn-based combat. As part of a planned trilogy, the tale of Rook’s caravan proved emotionally compelling and gamers eagerly awaited the continuation. But did you know there’s already a sequel? The Banner Saga 2 launched in April of 2016, but sales have been notoriously low compared to the first game. John Watson, co-founder of Stoic, partially blames their decision to not run a Kickstarter or engage the community for the sequel. Because sales from the first game were good enough to fill the coffers at the studio, Stoic decided to forego the crowd-funding and finance development themselves. Unfortunately, this disconnected them from the core fan supporters.

“I think we dropped the ball there,” Watson admits. “We thought that audience would still just be there. We really neglected our community during the development of Banner Saga 2, because we were focusing on our work. I think that was a mistake. We all agree that was a mistake.”

Stoic insists the tale will continue in The Banner Saga 3, and Watson says the lessons learned from the first two games will benefit its development. Whether or not the third game will be crowd-funded is something the studio is still considering.