Soma on Xbox One will have 50% less scares

, | News

Soma is getting an official “safe mode” that removes monster attacks. Frictional Games’ lauded techno-horror game will land on Xbox One on December 1st, and the developers have added a mode that removes monster attacks so the player can freely explore and experience the psychological fear without worrying about running from clumsy automatons. According to Frictional, some mamby-pamby cowards have been too frightened of the monster attacks to play the game. This new version of the game should solve that problem.

Players on PC have had a Wuss Mode mod available almost since launch thanks to the Steam Workshop.

A bit of madness is key in Lovecraft Letter

, | Game reviews

Seiji Kanai’s Love Letter, a game about getting a princess to like you, has come a long way in five years. Back in the day, it was a shrewd little exercise in simplicity, featuring only eight different cards in a deck of sixteen cards. Your hand size was one. On your turn, you drew a card and then discarded down to the hand size, playing the ability of the card you discarded. In other words, all you ever did was decide which of two cards you’re going to play. It was over in minutes. After a few rounds, you moved on to play a Real Game.

But then came the rewrites. The latest rewrite of Love Letter has failed its sanity check.
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After 11 years, we’ll finally get to wear pants in Titan Quest

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Titan Quest, yes the 2006 action roleplaying game, has a new expansion. Today! Titan Quest: Ragnarok introduces Norse mythological creatures and environments. The expansion offers players a new Runemaster class that combines martial prowess with magical crafting, an increased level cap to 85, graphical and physics improvements, and new loot items including pants. Finally, pants.

Titan Quest: Ragnarok requires Titan Quest Anniversary Edition.

The next Assassin’s Creed Origins update includes the most important feature

, | News

Assassin’s Creed Origins update 1.0.5 will be live soon. Performance and stability improvements? Sure. Glitched quest fixes? Yup. The update even returns the Deluxe Edition’s Ambush at Sea quest which was disabled soon after launch due to a game-breaking bug. All that stuff is nice and you can peruse the patch notes here if you’re interested. This is all good, but standard stuff. The most worthwhile addition is something that will finally allow thousands of players to return to the game. There will be a beard and hair toggle, and your selected preference will remain saved. No more baby-faced Bayek when you return to the game from the last time you played it! Thank Ra!

Update 1.0.5 will launch today for the PlayStation 4 and November 20th for the Xbox One. The PC version doesn’t have a date just yet, but that’s likely because of the platform’s superior beard technology.

Prey is the opposite of American lives

, | Game reviews

(This review was written for one of my Patreon review requests. Since Prey has been out for a while, I wrote specifically for people who have finished the game. It contains spoilers. Lots of spoilers.)

When F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, he wasn’t talking about second chances. A guy who writes Great Gatsby obviously believes in second chances. He was instead talking about the traditional structure of a three-act story. The first act sets up the conflict, the second act develops how the characters will deal with the conflict, and the third act is the climax in which everything is resolved. Fitzgerald was deriding Americans for skipping past the important second act in which the characters develop. Americans, he implied, go straight for the payoff.

Prey, a solid entry in the tradition of Bioshock, is the opposite of American lives. It is almost all second act. Continue reading →

Electronic Arts alters the deal in Battlefront II

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Electronic Arts has partially backpedaled on Hero prices in Star Wars: Battlefront II. Reacting to strong negative criticism from gamers with early access to the game, EA has announced drastic changes to the in-game pricing of multiplayer hero characters. According to the post from DICE’s John Wasilczyk, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader will now be available for 15,000 in-game credits (down from 60,000 credits) while Emperor Palpatine, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia will now cost 10,000 credits (originally 40,000 credits) and finally Iden Versio, the main character from the game’s single player campaign, will only cost 5,000 credits instead of 20,000. It’s a welcome change for gamers that did not relish the idea of playing for 40 hours to unlock one new Hero.

But there’s a wrinkle. Game Informer’s Andrew Reiner reports that his post-campaign reward was reduced following the changes. Before the latest update, he earned 20,000 credits for completing the campaign, but after the update, his credit prize was reduced to 5,000. EA says the credit payout was reduced because the intent of the prize was that players should use it to purchase their first hero – Iden Versio. Since her price was reduced from 20,000 to 5,000, the reward was diminished to match. It makes sense on that level, but the fact that players get a credit reward and are prompted to purchase a hero instead of just being given one as an unlock illustrates the way a business model can take over a game experience. The goal here isn’t to reward a player’s accomplishment. It’s to get them to try the in-game store system and participate in the loot box economy. The first hit is always free!

There will be plenty of chances to kick more Nazi butt in Wolfenstein II’s DLC

, | News

Bethesda and MachineGames have announced the full contents of the season pass for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. There’s nine more hours of righteous Nazi killing coming in The Freedom Chronicles. If you pre-ordered the game or are a season pass owner, you may have already gotten a taste of the future content thanks to Episode Zero which launched on November 8th and introduced Joseph Stallion, Jessica Valiant, and Gerald Wilkins. On December 14th, we’ll get The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe, featuring the best sports hero since Augustus “Cole Train” Cole. On January 30th, we’ll see the stealthy secrets of The Diaries of Agent Silent Death. Finally, sometime in March of next year, the square-jawed action heroics of The Amazing Deeds of Captain Wilkins will be released. That’s three new murdering menaces on their way! Lieutenant Aldo Raine just might get his Nazi scalps after all.

The truth will out with less crazy in the L.A. Noire remaster

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Rockstar has changed the player’s interrogation options in the remaster for L.A. Noire. In the video for the upcoming Nintendo Switch version of Rockstar’s hard-boiled detective game, the old Truth, Doubt, and Lie choices have been replaced with Good Cop, Bad Cop, and Accuse. Rockstar has confirmed that these changes will also be present in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One remasters. Maybe Detective Cole Phelps won’t be such an accidental ass to witnesses now.

With Empire Divided, it may be time to return to Total War: Rome II

, | News

If you’ve had enough of orcs and elves, The Creative Assembly would like to remind you that they don’t just make cracking good games set in the Warhammer universe. They also make games based on history. I know that’s not as fun as lizard-men riding on lizard cavalry, but bashing legions of sweaty Roman warriors against one another can have its charms, too. 2013’s Total War: Rome II still has a dedicated fanbase that relishes the relatively simpler battles of Julia versus Junia with nary a vortex of chaos energy in sight.

Thankfully, parts of The Creative Assembly want to get back to man on man action. Empire Divided is an upcoming campaign pack for Total War: Rome II featuring the third century crisis and the dangers of cults, plagues, and banditry during a time of infighting and disunion. The DLC campaign will have ten playable factions, new victory conditions, and special story events. Empire Divided will launch on November 30th.

Even if you don’t feel like paying for more Rome II, there will be something new for you. A free Power and Politics update is also launching on the 30th that will revamp many of the game’s systems. It aims to make political intrigue more, well, intriguing. Poltical parties will have loyalty status properties that will influence their effectiveness on the campaign map. Parties will control provinces within the empire, and low loyalty can cause all sorts of problems, right down to a party seceding from your rule. The free update will also bring a user interface overhaul, graphical improvements, and balance changes.

Total War: Rome II Empire Divided is available for pre-order now.

How does a weapon from Fiji commemorate the launch of Battlefront II?

, | News

That’s the Totokia War Club. Originally created and used in Fiji, it can be yours in Battlefield 1 for free when you log into the game anytime after November 8th. The giveaway is part of Electronic Arts’ celebration for the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II. There’s all sorts of cross-game promotional stuff in there. FIFA 18 and NHL 18 players can get free Star Wars jerseys for their Ultimate Teams. NBA LIVE 18 fans can participate in Inferno Squad themed multiplayer events to unlock Star Wars uniforms.

But back to that war club. How, exactly, does the traditional “pineapple club” link to Battlefront II? Sharp-eyed nerds should notice the resemblance to the Tusken Raiders’ gaffi stick. There’s your connection. Add a few sci-fi doodads to the totokia and you get a Gaffi stick any desert bandits would be proud to lift over their heads.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ secret pyramid chamber is real

, | News

The normally accepted theory on how ancient Egyptians hauled the immense stones to the tops of the pyramids as they were being built is via humongous external ramps, some over a mile long, that allowed them to scoot up to the heights needed. The main problem with that theory is that no one has ever found any evidence of those ramps. An alternate, and controversial, theory put forth by French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin in 2007 is that the Egyptians built the pyramids from the inside-out using a spiral system of ramps and chambers that were repurposed into burial rooms as the builders worked up. Unfortunately, we haven’t actually mapped the interior of the pyramids enough to confirm or deny Houdin’s theory.

Last week, Nature published details of a newly discovered large inaccessible chamber in the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Although no one has been able to confirm what the chamber might contain or what its purpose was, its existence was predicted by Houdin’s construction theory.

Here’s where Assassin’s Creed: Origins comes into the story. The newly discovered chamber in Khufu’s pyramid is already in the game! Ubisoft’s developers consulted with Houdin and used his pyramid schematics as a spingboard for their in-game models. His inside-out theory lined up nicely with the team’s gameplay goals. According to what they told Kotaku, the developers bet on Houdin as “the most credible” of sources.

Say what you will of the game’s flaws, but that’s some impressive synchronicity. If the developers got that right, maybe we should watch out for mummies and giant serpent attacks in the future?

10 things missing from Pinball FX3

, | Features

Back in 2011, I wrote an article detailing the five Pinball FX tables I’d like to see. They were Star Wars, a Western theme, splatter horror, the Cold War, and Bioshock. Zen Studios must have been paying attention, because nearly half of those tables came out shortly thereafter! You’re welcome, world.

Really, it’s more than half, since there are about twenty Star Wars tables. The Western themed table, Wild West Rampage, is one of my favorites. Although they aren’t technically splatter horror, the Alien, Aliens vs Predator, Doom, and Walking Dead tables are horror enough for me. Which leaves the Bioshock and Cold War tables yet to be realized, so maybe they’re still working on those. Since Zen has already worked with Bethesda, I’ll accept a Prey table instead of a Bioshock table.

But a lot has happened since 2011. Pinball FX has come a long way. So it’s time for me to do my part in continuing to make it better. You’re welcome, world. Continue reading →

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is also its Destiny

, | Game reviews

“They’re just scavenger hunts,” my friend says. He’s dismissing big-budget open-world AAA games like Assassin’s Creed: Origins. He’s explaining why he doesn’t play them. I’m explaining why he’s totally missing out.

“Well, sure,” I agree. “But the idea is they’re scavenger hunts in really cool places. Imaginative places where you want to spend time. The scavenger hunt is disguised as gameplay, and it’s your reason for being there. The real point of the game is the place, the worldbuilding.”

Many many hours later, I will come to rue these words. Or will I?

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