Nick Diamon

Are you ready to matriculate in Assassin’s Creed Origins?

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Assassin’s Creed Origins will get a peaceful free-roaming exploration mode. The Discovery Tour feature, will disable combat and allow players to travel through virtual ancient Egypt and learn about the true history of the setting. It’s an expansion of the series’ Animus Database that presented historical fact with a dash of snark from the in-game character of Shaun Hastings. The Discovery Tour will present interactive tours guided by Egyptologists that consulted on the game.

“It’s a more educative mode, so it’s clearly focused on education and on bringing to people actual facts, more academic knowledge.”

We’ll miss the dry sarcasm of Hastings, especially when it came to his opinions on Victorian era beer. The Discovery Tour feature will not be present at launch on October 27th. Ubisoft plans to add the mode in a free update to the game in early 2018.

Thrustmaster is bringing flight stick geekery to Xbox One

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Thrustmaster has taken the shroud of secrecy off the T.Flight HOTAS One, the first flight stick authorized for the Xbox One. It can be used with PCs as well as the console, and the hardware was designed with assistance from Frontier Developments for use with their Elite Dangerous space sim. (In fact, an update for Elite is releasing today with T.Flight HOTAS One support.) It’s all the thrusty throttley zoomy twisty flight stickery you could want on a console with a limited flight sim library.

The Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS One will hit store shelves on October 7th for $79.99.

The tie-in game for The Mummy is a faux antiquity, so it’s just like the movie

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Here’s the trailer for The Mummy Demastered, the upcoming licensed movie game from WayForward Games. That’s the latest The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella. Not the Brendan Fraser series, or even the Boris Karloff film. It’s got that side-scrolling retro pixel indie vibe, so props to WayForward for making frugal use of the license. It isn’t the first time WayForward has made a pixel-art game for The Mummy franchise. They made 2002’s The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris. That’s the one with Dwayne Johnson’s computerized head and torso grafted onto a giant scorpion’s body.

The Mummy Demastered is launching later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, and Nintendo Switch. You can check out how much Quarter to Three liked The Mummy here.

The Battle Royale between Battlegrounds and Fortnite has started

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Bluehole, the publisher of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is not pleased with Epic’s foray into the same arena. While Fortnite Battle Royale is going free-to-play, Bluehole is pondering their relationship with Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. In an interview with GamesIndustry, Bluehole’s Chang Han Kim pointed out that while they pay Epic for their UE4 engine license, Epic has suddenly become a competitor, including the use of Battlegrounds in their marketing.

“We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don’t feel that it’s right.”

Whatever the outcome, it’s likely that Fortnite won’t be the last copycat of Battlegrounds. To date, Bluehole’s multiplayer phenomenon has sold over 11 million units on PC alone.

You can be part of the simian committee in Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier

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There is a new Planet of the Apes game coming from Imaginati Studios, in partnership with Andy Serkis’ The Imaginarium. Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is a storytelling adventure game set between the last two movies. It’s reminiscent of Heavy Rain or Until Dawn, but there’s a multiplayer twist. Up to four people can play together and vote on the outcomes for the game’s choices. But it’s not just a straight majority vote all the time. There are crucial choices that will allow players to spend limited override tokens that will give their votes more weight, adding a bit of a competitive component to the proceedings. What better way to recreate the feel of the apes versus humans war, than with contentious committee voting?

On the PlayStation 4, the voting is done through Sony’s PlayLink system, allowing everyone to sit together and cast their votes via their mobile devices. Imaginati CEO Martin Alltimes hopes the feature marks a return to family couch co-op.

“We can have a social experience around the television that used to be part of console gaming and has now largely gone away with online.”

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier will launch later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Valve has a plan for review-bombing on Steam

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There’s nothing like seeing pitchforks and torches held aloft while a mob clicks a thumbs down button. Review-bombing is an issue that has been plaguing Valve’s digital store since user reviews were enabled. A developer says something controversial, or a popular streamer goes all in on a game, and the result can be thousands of negative reviews that drop the average score. Valve acknowledged that users will sometimes score a game based on factors outside of the game content. In the case of review-bombing, this skewed average score can mislead potential buyers if the issues at hand aren’t pertinent to their buying decision. Valve now thinks it might have a solution. Starting today, Steam will display a histogram of the positive to negative ratio of reviews for each game. Consumers will be able to easily see if reviews suddenly took a drastic downturn for a temporary condition, and then click to see a sample review of the time period.

All that Xbox gaming is going to come in handy during the hunt for Red October

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Xbox 360 controllers are being used to control the periscopes on Virginia-class nuclear submarines. Originally, the “photonic mast” periscopes were controlled with a $38,000 specially-designed joystick, but based on cost-cutting directives and complaints from testers that the controls were not intuitive and clunky, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy conscripted the ubiquitous console game controller to meet their needs. It’s a choice that’s proven popular with the personnel tasked with using the systems, and with the procurement officers on the project.

“I can go to any video game store and procure an Xbox controller anywhere in the world, so it makes a very easy replacement.”

The Xbox 360 controller will be bundled as part of the Virginia-class submarine packages starting in November, just in time for the holidays! Hopefully, the Lockheed Martin warranties on submarines will be just as good as Microsoft’s red ring support.

The pasta rule from The Campaign for North Africa was not actually a thing

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The macaroni rule is a lie. Richard Berg, the designer of the infamously detailed The Campaign For North Africa, admits that one of the much-beloved and odder rules of his World War II board game was not based on reality. In The Campaign for North Africa, the Italian forces have to account for extra water rations for their soldiers to boil pasta. If the pasta points aren’t properly managed, Italian troops may desert, reflecting the inability to feed hungry soldiers in the field. It’s a fiddly rule for a fiddly wargame. Unfortunately, in an epic board game brimming with technical detail, this one rule has nothing to do with history. In fact, it was a joke that Richard Berg included to lampoon the absurdity of his creation.

“The reality is that the Italians cooked their pasta with the tomato sauce that came with the cans,” he says. “But I didn’t want to do a rule on that.”

To add insult to injury, Berg has never completed a playthrough of his own game.

All the online jerks are making it hard for Blizzard to work on Overwatch

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The latest developer update from Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan is all about Overwatch’s toxic community. Despite adding a crucial feature to the console version of the game that gives players a way to report bad behavior, Blizzard is fighting a growing tide of cheaters, griefers, and generally terrible people in their game. The problem is bad enough that Kaplan admits that the team is spending a “tremendous” amount of resources chasing bad actors instead of working on adding content to the game. Blizzard is working on solutions, and warns that it will be an ongoing process that will require the community’s cooperation.

Online toxicity is a problem for any online game, especially if the game is competitive and popular. Overwatch easily qualifies as a magnet for unpleasantness and adds a few more wrinkles by leaning hard into its community’s fascination with the character lore. Take the normally aggressive and immature online multiplayer behavior and amp it up a few notches with a dose of social media politicizing, and the results can be breathtaking. But now you know why it takes Blizzard so long to release new heroes and maps.

You came this close to playing a ghoul or a super-mutant in Fallout: New Vegas

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The early treatment for Fallout: New Vegas included race selections for the player character that offered ghouls and super-mutants as viable choices. Speaking to Eurogamer, Obsidian’s CEO Feargus Urquhart spoke about some of the decisions they made during the 2010 open-world role-playing game’s development. Originally intended as a large expansion for Fallout 3, Bethesda Game Studios and Obsidian expanded the scope of the project so it became essentially a sequel in size and complexity. “Fallout: Sin City” would eventually become the Fallout: New Vegas we all know and love. That three playable races idea? It was nixed due to technical issues.

“It really had to do with how all the weapons and armour worked. Trying to have them all work with ghouls and super-mutants was just going to be – [Bethesda] felt like it was going to be a nightmare. It wasn’t like they said no but it was a very strongly worded, ‘We would really suggest that you not try to do that.'”

Feargus Urquhart and Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker also addressed the now-infamous Metacritic contract clause that made the studio miss a bonus payment by one point.

“You can’t get mad at somebody for a contract you signed. We signed a contract, it had very clear terms in it. ‘Oh we were really close…’ We didn’t hit it.”

Fallout: New Vegas may not have allowed you to play a ghoul or mutant, but it did give us iron sights on guns.

Electronic Arts is really excited about not letting you own any games

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Speaking to the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, Electronic Arts’ vice president of investor relations Chris Evenden, was bullish on the game-streaming concept. According to GamesIndustry‘s report, Evenden said cloud technology has been catching up to everyone’s ambition over the past few years with the infrastructure barrier shrinking rapidly. He cited a recent demonstration given to a major internet company for streaming Battlefield. The publisher has slowly been enticing customers to its services like Origin on PC and EA Access on consoles, and expects the transition to full-blown cloud gaming will happen someday.

“I think it’s inevitable that the gaming entertainment world will move in much the same way that the music and video entertainment worlds have already moved, in the sense that people have moved from an ownership model to an access model. And you’ll see that in gaming, just as you’ve seen it with Spotify and Netflix in other media businesses.”

Previous cloud gaming services like OnLive jumped the gun and got ahead of the technology curve, ending in failure. More recent services like NVIDIA’s GeForce Now and PlayStation’s Gaikai have found success with modest growth and investments in technology.

You shouldn’t pay more than $80 for the SNES Classic

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Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has some advice for fans preparing to pay outrageous amounts for the SNES Classic Edition. Relax and don’t pay more than the $79.99 list price. Speaking to the Financial Times, Reggie Fils-Aime said the company has “dramatically increased” production and that despite issues with pre-orders at retailers, there should be no shortage of stock.

“I would strongly urge you not to over-bid on an SNES Classic on any of the auction sites.”

Nintendo hasn’t actually said how many of the mini-consoles it will manufacture, but the company says it will be ship product from September 29th through the end of the year. Hopefully, we won’t see a repeat of the inflated prices the NES Classic saw during the holidays along with the abrupt stock sellout.

Activision figured out how to give away nothing for Call of Duty: WWII preorders

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Activision and Sledgehammer Games have announced details of Call of Duty: WWII’s preorder program. The preorder “multiplayer upgrade” features a token to unlock one weapon of your choice when you start playing, instead of unlocking it eventually in the normal progression scheme. You’ll also get a 2x experience multiplier good for four hours, and a collection of five gear sets that correspond to the Divisions system.

Previous Call of Duty games have been criticized by fans for offering exclusive multiplayer maps, (such as variations of Nuketown) or locking away cooperative zombie campaigns behind preorder bonuses. Some gamers are now criticizing the publisher for not making WWII preorders worthwhile because the incentives aren’t good enough.

Hey, Call of Duty players! Chill out. Activision could make your weapon and player camo skins consumable like Shaders in Destiny 2.

One does not simply walk into the high-def era with Battle for Middle-earth

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If you’re one of the lucky owners of 2004’s The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, you may know that there’s a fan-run outfit that stepped in to supply multiplayer capability to the game after publisher Electronic Arts shut down the servers in 2010. That’s all well and good, but the pre-HD textures and models haven’t aged well. Blowing up what looked good in 2004 onto a 2017 monitor is a quick way to reassess the rose-colored glasses you were wearing. Thanks to a couple of dedicated modders, there is now a way to get the game to look as good as Peter Jackson’s green-screen adventures. The HD Edition mod from “RiderOfRohan” and “Mathijs” gives every blocky low-poly model a sharp upgrade. No longer will Aragorn look like he missed second breakfast.