, | News
Butcher

The Eternal Conflict updates for Heroes of the Storm is live, adding a new Diablo III-themed map into a newly stunted rotation. For the next week, the catalog of nine maps has been reduced to just four maps to make sure you see the new heaven vs. hell map more often. Be prepared to have your team run off after treasure goblins and waste their time killing fallen who are just going to be resurrected by their shaman. The Butcher is now available as the first of the three Diablo III-themed characters, to be followed shortly by the Skeleton King and then the monk. For some reason, you don’t see a lot of people cosplaying The Butcher.

Today’s update also changes a whole mess of things. For instance, if you thought you knew The Lost Vikings, Brightwing, Malfurion, or Rehgar, better check the patch notes. The healing column in the score screen, which was useless for anyone who didn’t use a healing support character, is now called the role column. It also shows how much damage your warrior soaked up.

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, | Movie podcasts
Face_of_an_Angel

Michael Winterbottom considers the Amanda Knox case in Face of an Angel, a meta-mess about Italy, murder, the media, and picking up random barmaids. At the 46-minute mark, we assume the identity of people discussing masks in movies for this week’s 3×3.

Next week: Closer to God

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, | Game reviews
Homeland

“Tom’s the terrorist,” Tony declares loudly, slapping the table and leaning back in his chair as if he’s just issued a legally binding decree and there’s nothing more to be said. “He’s totally the fucking terrorist,” he says anyway.

“Why would you say that? I’m suggesting something that’s perfectly reasonable because you can’t possibly know the intel cards that have been played. Maybe you’re the terrorist.”

I mean, he’s right. I am the terrorist. But there’s no way he could know that, is there?

After the jump, a royal playboy and an affluent politico can’t get me out of this mess. Continue reading →

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, | News
Driveclub_replay

Hey, look who finally showed up to play!

Starting [today], all PlayStation Plus members can download Driveclub PS Plus Edition and begin playing the offline mode. Also starting [today], we will be rolling out online access to the Driveclub PS Plus Edition and will steadily bring more and more players online while continuously ensuring that all game systems are running smoothly. We want to make sure we dont overload the servers as we invite millions of PS Plus members to download the game… We have to take this precaution because Driveclub connectivity is demanding for a multiplayer game, with countless ever-growing social connections across clubs, challenges, multiplayer, and hundreds of thousands of dynamic leaderboards and activity feeds.

After its rough but promising start, Driveclub became a superlative racing game and a real jewel in the Playstation 4 catalog. With an emphasis squarely on driving instead of upgrading and grinding, with fewer cars that matter more, with evocative handling and physics, with tracks brimming with personality and style, and with absolutely gorgeous graphics and sublime sound design, this is the game Forza hasn’t been for a very long time. Developer Evolution Studios even finally added weather and replays. I can’t recommend it enough.

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, | News
504

Modularity to the point of not having an actual design is a terrible idea for a game. For instance, here’s the description of an upcoming boardgame called 504, announced today by publisher Stronghold Games.

504 offers the game enthusiast 504 different games in a single box, achieving this via the use of nine game modules, which can be merged together to form 504 unique play experiences. The nine modules are Pick-up & Deliver, Race, Privileges, Military, Exploring, Roads, Majorities, Production, and Shares. Players use the spiral bound “Book of 504 Worlds”, selecting three different modules in any order from the nine available, and thereby creating a unique “World”. For example, the selection of three modules for a World may create a game that is:

A racing game that expands through exploration with technology improving the racing or exploration (World “253”).

An 18XX-style stock game with network building for income and production sites to provide workers for the road building (World “968”).

A wargame with a pick-up and deliver economy and bonus scoring from majorities (“World 417″).

Okay, maybe it’s an intriguing idea, assuming worlds 253, 968, and 417 are enough flavor for you. The fiction is something about scientists creating alternate worlds to study for something something something. The designer of 504 is Friedemann Friese, known for the classic Power Grid. I don’t like Power Grid because it locks my brain up with too much math, but I certainly respect the design. Friese knows what he’s doing. And Stronghold Games has published a few intriguing games in the last year, including Kanban, a soup-to-nuts abstraction of all elements of an automotive company, and Panamax, about managing the actual Panama Canal.

504 is slated for release November of this year.

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, | Game diaries
Massive_Chalice_GD_6_boom

On year 271, less than 30 years before the final battle, a random event arises. Someone calling herself the Commoner Queen has been riling up the people. I can meet with her, refuse to meet with her, or send one of my heroes to disappear her.

Although the results can vary for each choice, I feel like I’m hip to this trick by now. The good choice, the bad choice, and the choice that risks a hero. But Doublefine gets really, uh, playful with these random events. You should see what they do when you start throwing things into the chalice! They’re more than happy to allow bad results for good choices and good results for bad choices, so I’m going to risk a hero. Hopefully, this will avoid one of my territories being put one point of corruption closer to slipping into the sea. Besides, I have heroes to spare. I’m awash in Gaffney girls! So I chose the third option and send a Gaffney girl to deal with this Commoner Queen.

After the jump, yet another Sagewrights Guild sinks into the sea. Continue reading →

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, | Movie podcasts
Inside_Out_podcast

This week, you get two movies in one podcast! We are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about Pixar’s latest, and partly enthusiastic about what some of us hope is the first in a long line of Larry Gaye movies. At the one hour mark, we deposit into your ears a discussion of our favorite scenes in banks.

Next week: Face of an Angel

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, | Game diaries
Massive_Chalice_GD_5_breathless

As my game moves into its third and final century, I’ve suffered a couple of serious setbacks. I’ve lost two of my five keeps. When a keep is overrun and its territory falls into the sea, it takes with it the regent who presides there, his or her spouse, and all of their children. But you don’t just lose the territory and the heroes. You lose all the heroes they would have brought forth in later years. It is, quite literally, the end of the line for that family.

After the jump, let us tell sad stories of the deaths of keeps. Continue reading →

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, | Game diaries
Massive_Chalice_GD_3_house_Gaffney

Ainfean Gaffney, a hunter in Massive Chalice, has never been in a battle. She would have been good at it. Being nimble, she has a dexterity bonus that’s extremely valuable to hunters. But when it comes time to found a noble house of hunters, I choose her as its regent, hoping she will pass down to her children the nimble trait. I marry her to Daniel Flink from my house of alchemists because Daniel is bountiful. Bountiful is a trait that increases the likelihood of having kids. They will provide me with a line of trickshots, which is the hunter subclasses that results from marrying a hunter to an alchemist.

After the jump, Daniel’s trickshots hit their target, if you know what I mean. Continue reading →

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, | News
Yoshis_Wooly_World

I guarantee you won’t see anything out of E3 as adorable as Nintendo’s presentation for Yoshi’s Wooly World, in which the developer Emi Watanabe sits in front of a table of goddamn adorable plushy yarn Yoshis, cheerfully explaining the inspiration for the game, intercut with gameplay footage. Unless someone is developing Puppies Snuggling Kittens 2015, that’s it for the cute factor at E3. Yoshi’s Wooly World will be out on October 16th.

A new Starfox, co-developed with Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2 director, relies on a gimmick in which the TV shows you the cinematic view and the gamepad shows you the cockpit view. Along with Splatoon, Nintendo is counting on us to aim with our gamepads. The universal gesture for this control scheme is to clutch both hands in front of you and pivot your torso around at awkward angles as if you were a malfunctioning robot. But to be fair, those of us who’ve played Splatoon can attest that it kinda sorta works.

Skylanders and amiibos have formed an unholy toy alliance by offering Skylanders for the WiiU version of the upcoming Skylanders that will work as Skylanders and as amiibos. This holiday season might be remembered as toymaggedon among the parents of Wii-aged children.

The rest of the presentation was a lot of trailers without comment, and sometimes even without coherence. I still have no idea what that Atlus game was. It looked very Japanese. It might have been called Mirage, or Mirage Master, or even just FE. I’m not sure. All I know is that it’s a tale of youth and heroes guided by destiny. That’s a direct quote, by the way. Never mind that it applies to, like, every single JRPG ever. Also shown were trailers for a co-op Zelda game about standing on top of your friends for the 3DS, a Hyrule Warriors for the 3DS, a Metroid co-op game for the 3DS, a Fire Emblem game for the 3DS, something from Level 5 called Yo-Kai Watch about gesture gimmicks on the 3DS, and a Mario and Luigi Paper Jam thing for the 3DS. Hey, Sony, why can’t you support your Vita the way Nintendo supports their 3DS?

Finally, Xenoblade Chronicles X will be out on December 4th. Boom.

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, | Game diaries
Massive_Chalice_GD_2_empty_SG

This is my second game of Massive Chalice. I’ll be writing an update every 50 years or so up until the year 300 finale. In my first game, I got to the finale easily enough. But because I didn’t know what to expect, and because I was figuring out the bloodlines as I went, I failed spectacularly in the end. I’m convinced that’s how you’re meant to experience Massive Chalice: once to discover it, a second time to actually try to win it. The third and successive times are either for fun or at harder difficulty levels.

My plan this time is science. Just science. Science, which is also how you build buildings, was such a precious commodity in my first game. By the time I reached the 300 year time limit, I had so much cool stuff left unresearched, so many buildings still unbuilt, so much territory ununsed. Science is even how you recruit new blood when your old blood gets tired. Science does all these things. So my plan this time around is science.

After the jump, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids. Continue reading →

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, | Games
Last_Guardian

Sony gleefully thumbed their nose at Microsoft’s floundering Xbox One for much of the press conference, with a number of exclusives, including timed exclusives snatched directly from Microsoft. The latest Call of Duty beta and map packs will be on the Playstation first, ending their long cozy relationship with Microsoft. That’s not much of a surprise given Sony’s hardware lead. Disney Infinity’s Star Wars releases this holiday season will have a timed exclusive on the Playstation. Sony’s streaming TV boasts a la carte availability for viewers with selective taste.

As for actual permanent exclusives, Sony ran down a list of stuff, showing substantial gameplay in each case: The Last Guardian made an appearance after being AWOL last year, Guerilla Games’ robot dinosaur hunting game Horizon, Street Fighter V, Spore-a-like No Man’s Sky, whatever the heck Media Molecules’ Dreams sandbox is, and Uncharted. The Uncharted demo belched and called a do over, at which point it trundled frantically along an uninterrupted look at a canned car chase that you’ll have to restart from myriad checkpoints when you actually play it. There’s also some Final Fantasy hoo-ha that I’m sure some people care about. Sony also provided glimpses of indies alongside the usual multiplatform franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, and Star Wars: Battlefront 3.

Sony even let Shenmue 3 unveil its $2 million Kickstarter campaign, which seemed to be a nice way of saying, “Well, we’re not going to publish your niche forklift and toy collecting revenge drama, but since it’s a Playstation game, we will help you publicize it.” Before the presentation was over, the sequel had accumulated a half a million dollars in pledges.

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, | Games
Star_Wars_Battlefront_3

Electronic Arts screened a bunch of cinematic trailers today, giving us glimpses of how various games won’t play. Mass Effect: Ascension proves it’s not over until EA pulls the plug on the servers. You might be surprised to learn Star Wars: The Old Republic hasn’t been shut down. You’ll be even more surprised to learn it’s getting an add-on called Knights of the Fallen Empire, a title ripped from the Star Wars random game name generator. Unravel is a platformer in which a creepy little yarn demon poops out yarn. Need for Speed: Need for Speed feels the need for speed in “police-infested urban districts”. Way to pander, EA.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 showed gameplay because it consists of the rest of the stuff that should have been in Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 1. Namely, bot support for split-screen games and the option to play cooperative games with the zombies.

Then sports sports sports with a brief “let’s talk about mobile” interruption. The highlight of the sports sports sports section was when Pele, one of the actors from the Sylvester Stallone sports movie Victory, came out to promote the FIFA International Corruption Simulator 2016. Finally, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will be open-world. Think Assassin’s Creed, but with a female protagonist, but in first-person so you can’t really tell. Star Wars: Battlefront 3 will be carefully staged, with the X-wings and TIE Fighters flying super low to make sure they’re in the shot and Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader recreating their iconic battle in front of the AT-AT on Hoth.

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