Games

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nuk3town-returns

There’s a new Nuketown map in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 because of course there is. You can get access to it by pre-ordering the game. This time, Activision and Treyarch say they’ve tuned the map to account for all the wall-running, and double-jump boosting that Black Ops 3 offers. If the thought of running back and forth and respawning umpteen times a session in that cul-de-sac for a third Call of Duty doesn’t turn you off, consider the name “NUK3TOWN” and everything that implies.

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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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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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clicky_clicky_dead

Click. Click. Click. Clicker Heroes is a game about clicking. You click the screen to kill monsters, gain gold, and level up heroes to gain more abilities, to click bigger monsters, etc. It starts harmlessly enough with one click of your mouse doing one hit point of damage on a cartoon RPG beast. Click-click-click and the monster dies with a satisfying sound accompanied by a gold piece dropping out of its body. There’s no strategy. There’s no way to fail. Hoover up the gold and wait for the next monster to appear. How did four hours pass? Why am I trying to maximize click damage and calculate grind times to get to 100,000 damage per click? It’s dumb and simple and insulting, but you’ll sit there clicking away because stuff is happening and the lizard part of your brain feels good.

Clicker Heroes isn’t the first of its kind, but it’s likely the first in the genre to make the transition to Steam, complete with in-game app purchases. ($99.00 for a bunch of gems to help you click faster!) Cow Clicker by Ian Bogost is probably the genesis of this type of thing. If you haven’t checked out Mr. Bogost’s analysis of his own creation, you should. He goes into a lot of the reasons why it works and why you may want to look out for these tactics in “real” games. That’s if you get time between clicks.

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downgrade_amirite

It’s a little over a week before The Witcher 3 launches, and the biggest discussion right now isn’t the fact that you can have sexual relations with a sorceress while on the back of a stuffed unicorn. No, it’s the possibility that current video and images of the game do not live up to the media released over a year ago. It’s called ‘The Witcher 3 downgrade’ and nitpicky fans of game marketing say it’s indicative of the graphics being reduced in quality during development. While stuff like missing smoke from fires and pixel-counts in foliage are important, people shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they can have sex with a sorceress while on the back of a stuffed unicorn. To help put things in perspective, we’ve got a look back at some other games that suffered from a graphics downgrade.

After the jump, let’s tighten up those graphics on level three! Continue reading →

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modders_mushroom

Valve is disabling the ability to set pricing on mods. According to this official announcement, Valve is turning off the feature they rolled out on Friday that allowed modders to set pricing for their creations in the Steam Workshop. Even though modders have generated significant profit for Valve’s own Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2, gamers voiced their displeasure at the new revenue sharing system as soon as it was launched. Negatives cited by detractors included copyright concerns, sketchy future support of broken mods, poor quality control, and modders getting too small of a cut.

We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.

Earlier in the day, Bethesda had posted an explanation of their strategy on paid mods, but their reasoning did little to stem the arguments against the feature.

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Better_Call_Saul_Trevor

If you catch tonight’s episode of Better Call Saul, you’ll certainly remember the “Pimento” scene. But did you note the familiar voice or the vaguely familiar face? Steven Ogg, the voice actor and obvious visual inspiration for Trevor in Grand Theft Auto V, shows up in a small but memorable role, pretty much playing Trevor.

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Driveclub_replay

In the ongoing saga of Driveclub being a five-star racing game that was released two stars too early, it has finally gotten a replay feature. Now you can enjoy the truly gorgeous graphics without having to keep your eyes on the road. The replay mode lets you watch a race from a variety of camera views, with the option to enter a ridiculously detailed photo mode if you want to grab stills. It’s also a new way of looking at the tracks to learn how to drive them better.

The latest update also claims to make drift events less annoying. I’m not sure that’s possible, as I’ve yet to meet a drift mode in a videogame that wasn’t annoying. But with relaxed requirements for scoring drifts, at least it’s easier to get the stars you need to progress in the single-player tours.

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CS_arts

Citybuilders are among the most information dense games you can play. Any citybuilder worth its salt is all about the whys and wherefores. Why is traffic bad here but fine there? Why did I suddenly run out of power? Why is the garbage not getting collected? Why is raw sewage backing up into houses? Why are people leaving? Why am I in an economic death spiral? Why don’t I just start over?

Cities: Skylines gives you pretty much all the stats, map overlays, and information displays you could want. Let me show you one in particular.

After the jump, bring da noize. Continue reading →

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Sunless_Sea_PM_main

Failbetter’s Alexis Kennedy has a great post-mortem of Sunless Sea here. I particularly appreciate how he explains that some of his design decisions might not have resonated with a wider range of people, because he was staying true to a specific creative focus:

Ship speed is a good example. Sunless Sea is a stately game. You could reasonably call it a slow game. But we’ve resisted speeding up the ship, because it would reduce the tension, the sense of space and distance, and the menace of the dark. I think it’s quite possible that if the ship was 50% faster, the game would be more fun and less grindy – but I also think there’s an invisible line we’d cross, somewhere before that 50%, where the atmosphere was diminished without anyone quite knowing why. If we hadn’t had that iron creative focus from the beginning, I don’t think we’d have held our nerve, and Sunless Sea would have ended up a zippier, slighter experience.

Amen, brother. Some people have edited files to make the ship faster, which would be like fast-forwarding through the slow parts of a Stanley Kubrick movie. Sure, you could do it, but then you’re a philistine. I love how Kennedy tacitly concedes that game design doesn’t always have to worship at the altar of “fun”. If I want to have fun, I’d go outside and play tetherball. If I want a uniquely moving experience of exploring the unknown, I’ll play Sunless Sea.

Read the rest of the post-mortem for Kennedy’s confession that Sunless Sea is confused about it’s identity as a CRPG or a roguelike, how veteran players nearly ruined the early parts of the game, how early access saved us all from a terrible combat system (seriously, their first iteration at combat sounds godawful!), and how many bat skeletons Failbetter keeps in the office.

(You can read my review here.)

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886737

If you love numbers and stats, a good action RPG like Diablo III will happily oblige you with more numbers and stats than you can shake an abacus at. But I didn’t have the foggiest notion about the game’s concept of distance until I saw The Escapist’s breakdown of just what “one yard” means in Tristramiam measurement.

In related news, here are some upcoming changes in the next patch. Hey, Blizzard, Diablo III is already good enough! Stop trying to make me want to keep playing!

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awkward2

Total War: Attila brings back family management to the series. Amongst Total War: Rome II’s many failings, Creative Assembly took out the dynasty drama that made such compelling stories in previous games. In the time since launch, the developers worked hard to bring Rome II up to snuff, (they’ve done a tremendous job at that) but the character bits unfortunately never made it back in. As you can see in the screenshot above, Total War: Attila corrects that. Here, one of the less careful members of the tribe have complicated the lines of succession, possibly bringing doom on themselves, or creating a future branch of royalty. It’s not quite up to Crusader Kings 2’s byzantine politics, but it’s a dash of flavor that’s missing from Rome II.

Total War: Attila is available on Steam.

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