Hacknet, the popular game about computer hacking, now has Steam Workshop support so players can hack new adventures together and share them with other hackers. The Hacknet Extension update is free for all owners of Hacknet. You can’t hack the planet Zero Cool style, but the update allows players to create their own scenarios, themes, and in-game programs. True to the nature of the game, the update comes with instructions not meant for the faint of heart.
Monarch’s Reign, the next free DLC update for Titanfall 2, features a new multiplayer mech that players of the single player campaign should recognize. The Monarch is a “reverse-engineered” version of the Vanguard Titan, the same model of robo-buddy the player character bonds with in the story. Will the Monarch be as lovably snarky as “BT” is in the solo game? Likely not, but players can always recite deadpan lines in their heads if they’re feeling lonely. The update will also come with the usual array of cosmetic items to buy, a revamped version of the Relic map from the first game, and fixes for existing maps.
Monarch’s Reign will be released on May 30th, just in time to miss the long weekend!
War in Crusader Kings II is a complicated thing. New players are usually shocked to discover that despite the reputation of the time period covered, monarchs can’t just declare wars willy-nilly. Casus Belli is needed. That is, you must have a justification for warfare. Thankfully, there is a loophole for leaders that want to beat the drums. Players can fabricate a claim which will eventually give them the support they need to levy troops and get folks marching, but it takes time. Time they may not have before alliances and strengths shift on the map.
According to Paradox, players expressed frustration with the way Fabricate Claim currently works, so the studio is coming up with a different way to get on war footing.
We’re going to deemphasize the “Fabricate Claim” job by giving all playable entities (including Christians) a form of “Unjustified War” Casus Belli that will allow you to seize a single County for an upfront cost of Piety, Prestige or Gold.
As the Hottentots said to the Dutch, this could be really big. Assuming Paradox doesn’t muck it up, being able to declare war with just a bit of an upfront cost has the potential to upend gameplay. There’s no word on when this change will occur, but it’s a likely bet that an update of this importance will accompany the release of a major expansion, like the next one which is supposed to cover the Himalayas.
Hand of Fate is one of the great videogame explorations of how to use cards to spin out a game, to tell a story, and to create a sense of progression. I can’t say enough good things about it. Actually, I guess I already have.
It is no longer content being inside your computer! The developers have teamed up with some boardgame developers to make a tabletop version. As was the case with the videogame, they’re not mucking about with nonsense like publishers. They’re doing what all indie developers do with their boardgames and hoping you’ll buy it before it’s actually available. So today they launched a Kickstarter campaign and more than doubled their goal on the first day. If you want in on the action, it’s a straight-up $60 buy-in. No deluxe editions with a ton of tiny plastic figures, or stretch goals for cobbled-on gameplay elements that they had to think up, or even T-shirts or mousepads or oversized bonus cards. Just the game. Due to be delivered in November. Which is Kickstarterspeak for early 2018.
So, can I be that guy and say it looks weird to see so much color on the cards? In the videogame, the cards are black-and-white, as if they were woodcut prints, like you might find in a volume of Blake poetry. But now they’re all sorts of gaudy colors like you might find in a comic book. I don’t like it and I think they should have–
Okay, who am I kidding? I’m not going to be able to hold out for another 29 days no matter what rationale I invent.
In bad movies, the villain tells the hero, “You’re just like me!” The hero tends to disagree, or at least get upset about being in a movie with moral ambiguity. Now the hero is less of a good guy and/or the bad guy is less of a bad guy. Now the moral ambiguity is laid out for everyone to see.
I don’t mean to imply that Lady Bloodfight isn’t dumb, inconsistent, and familiar. It kind of is. The basics are nothing that haven’t been done a thousand times with everyone from Jean Claude van Damme to, uh…who’s doing these kinds of movies these days? John Cena? I haven’t been keeping up.
But for this kind of dumb, inconsistent, and familiar, Lady Bloodfight is as good as it gets.
Heck, better!Continue reading →
Besides being a whip-smart fighting game with an almost embarrassing amount of content, Injustice 2 is a high water mark for character models and animation. One of the biggest draws for fighting games are the campaign stories. (A lesson painfully learned by Capcom and Street Fighter V.) In a genre that must jump through hoops and twist logic to a painful degree to make sure each fighter battles against as many characters as possible, NetherRealm Studios leans on great facial expressions and cinematics to sell the various face-offs. Mind control! Kryptonite poison! Double-cross! Triple-cross! But how and why did the studio spend so much time and care on the faces of Injustice 2? A casual look at Injustice: Gods Among Us or Mortal Kombat X shows that while NetherRealm weren’t slouches at crafting mugs before, the work in Injustice 2 is leagues ahead of the competition.
Motherboard asked NetherRealm’s Brendan George, the Character Art Lead on Injustice 2, the very same question. According to George, fan feedback of early footage played a pivotal role in upping the studio’s face game. Rather than ignoring the criticism or becoming dispirited, the team used it as motivation for changing the lighting model, honing in on troublesome model areas, and fixing animation issues. With regards to the female characters specifically, NetherRealm made careful, minor adjustments that included the digital make-up they applied to the faces. The next time Harley snarls at you, keep in mind that there was probably a lot of discussion about exactly how much face paint and lipstick she should be wearing.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is far better than it should be, given that it’s the developer’s Guerilla Games’ first time making an open-world game. Previously, Sony has shackled these guys to whatever Playstation is currently missing its Halo. Hence the long line of Playstation-exclusive Killzones. But it’s clear from playing Horizon that Guerilla has done their homework, studying what it takes to make an open-world work.
The PC version of Destiny 2 will be exclusively on Blizzard’s network. For the first time since its inception as Battle.net in 1996, Blizzard’s back end will be used to host a non-Blizzard game. In their statement, Blizzard explained that creating a new networking system for the PC version of Destiny 2 “would needlessly extend the development period” of their sister company’s game. Blizzard noted that they have no plans to add any other Activision titles to their platform, but they are “potentially evaluating” other opportunities for synergy.
In related news, the PC build of Destiny 2 will support an uncapped framerate, 4K resolution, and configurable controls. By being integrated in Blizzard’s network, Destiny 2 players will also have all the cross-game social features people get in titles like Overwatch, StarCraft 2, and World of Warcraft. Plus, they’ll be able to use their Blizzard Balance to purchase Destiny 2, and presumably that will extend to the in-game purchases as well. Destiny 2 will be available worldwide on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 8th.
You probably don’t remember James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game from Lightstorm Entertainment and Ubisoft Montreal. No one really does. Despite using the same engine as Ubisoft’s more recent Far Cry games to serve up otherworldly visuals, the game was kind of a dud. It sold 2.7 million copies, but it never rose above its throwaway movie tie-in reputation. It was quickly dismissed and disappeared from everyone’s consciousness. When Ubisoft announced earlier this year that they were working on a new Avatar game, reactions were mixed. Partly, this was because the idea of four more Avatar movies sounded bonkers. Interest was piqued when it was revealed that Massive would be developing it and they were using Snowdrop as the engine – the same one currently powering The Division. If anything, The Division does some interesting things with co-op gameplay. Perhaps it could be good?
Alas, the next Avatar game will not be coming any time soon. Savvy analysts noticed that Ubisoft’s investor report included no mention of the game. There was news about the next South Park game, the upcoming sequel to The Crew, and there was even a new logo to herald the next Assassin’s Creed. For Avatar? Nothing. When asked by IGN, Ubisoft explained the omission. The Avatar game won’t be released before the next movie, and since Avatar 2’s premiere was pushed back to 2020, we can’t expect the game before then. That leaves plenty of time for Massive to model floating islands and ill-fitting loincloths.
When the major studios option a franchise, that doesn’t mean much. It just means they paid someone for the privilege to say “we call dibbs!” Screenwriters might be hired, talent might be courted, directors might be talked to. But in the end, an optioned property is just as likely to sit on a shelf as it is to become a movie. That’s Hollywood for you. But Netflix isn’t exactly Hollywood. So when they announce they’re producing a Witcher series, I’m inclined to think it carries more weight than the usual videogame adaptation announcement.
Consider that Netflix dumped a boatload of money into their international Marco Polo production. I suspect they see The Witcher as having a similar international appeal, but this time with some Game of Thrones cachet because it’s fantasy instead of boring ol’ history. They furthermore announced the participation of a couple of partners that suggests money is already moving beyond just licensing deals. For instance, this Polish effects studio and these guys who helped shepherd a Tom Cruise mummy movie to the big screen and The Expanse to the small screen. Seems to me a Witcher series might actually be happening.
For Geralt, I’d like to suggest anyone but Vin Diesel.
One of the cases to be made for Better Call Saul being better than Breaking Bad is consistency of tone. Breaking Bad frequently strayed from family soap opera, to hard-hitting crime drama, to wacky character comedy, to drug cartel intrigue. You could argue that was one of its strengths, because it allowed for episodes like the one with the fly and the magnet heist. Breaking Bad went wherever it felt like going. From Mr. Chips to Scarface, as Vince Gilligan is on record as saying. But with multiple layovers.
Here at Quarter to Three, we try to keep our heads above the fray and not report on rumors or baseless stories. So what if Ubisoft told investors that they can expect “the exciting returns of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, The Crew and South Park” this year? Maybe the next Assassin’s Creed will be a prequel called Origins and use ancient Egypt as its setting, but we can’t know for sure. Not even if we’ve been seeing this rumor since last year. What we do have is a spiffy new Assassin’s Creed logo, and that’s good enough to start some discussion.
Let’s do a deep-dive into the new Assassin’s Creed image after the jump!Continue reading →
Microsoft is giving away a remaster of Phantom Dust for free. That’s free for everyone, starting today on the Xbox One and Windows Store.
The 2004 Xbox game from Yukio Futatsugi and Microsoft Studios was based on deck-building and multiplayer third-person arena action. If that sounds like a bit of a puzzle to you, then you weren’t alone. While Phantom Dust got some critical nods, it just didn’t sell well. It remained a bit of a cult hit, so fans were delighted when a remaster for the Xbox One was announced at E3 2014. Nothing is ever simple though. The remaster by Darkside Game Studios was cancelled in February 2015 due to monetary issues and miscommunication between Darkside and Microsoft. While the cancellation resulted in Darkside’s liquidation, the project was quietly moved to an internal team at Microsoft. The only indication that the project was still alive in some form came from a quick blurb at E3 2016, but most took it as an optimistic projection.
That brings us to today. Microsoft is releasing the HD remaster for free to download and keep. Upgraded assets, new networking code, and widescreen support come with the re-release of the niche green machine original Xbox title.