That’s Electronic Arts’ SEED (Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division) showing off their tech demo for Project Pica Pica, a game built with real-time ray-tracing technology. Ray-tracing has been around for decades, but mostly as a way to render light on surfaces for static images or in motion only via very powerful and expensive systems. We probably won’t see consumer games built with this tech for a bit, but it’s an interesting look at the ever-evolving world of computer graphics.
What happens when a music superstar with 36 million Twitter followers hops into a session of Fortnite with one of the most popular videogame streamers in the world? You blow out all the records for Twitch viewership. Late last night renaissance man Drake popped into a game with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and hit a peak of 607,000 Twitch viewers, easily surpassing the previous high of 388,000. Drake performed well, telling Blevins at one point that he’d only got into the game a “month or two” ago.
If that wasn’t enough of a pop-culture confluence, by the end of the night, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver John “JuJu” Smith-Schuster, rapper Travis Scott, and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom joined the game. It all sounds so amazing that one might think it a prearranged marketing stunt, except for the way the group’s in-game meetup was plagued with technical issues for a good part of the stream. (Drake’s PlayStation tag was apparently too full.) Most of the issues were eventually resolved thanks to judicious use of cross-play between the PlayStation 4 and PC versions of the game. Basically, this may have been the best advertisement for Fortnite ever.
You can check out an archive of the gaming session here.
Sam Barlow, creator of the much-lauded 2015 Her Story mystery game, has released his interactive media update to WarGames. #WarGames, from Barlow and production company Eko, features scrappy young “hacktivists” cracking Gibsons and using hashtags for the forces of good. The player (media interactor?) gets to help the crew and do a lot of passive observation.
Jeff Goldblum will appear in Jurassic World Evolution. It’s no Cooking with Jeff Goldblum, but this announcement that he will be present in one form or another as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Frontier’s upcoming dino-theme park sim is almost too cute for words. It’s not clear why Dr. Ian Malcolm would help the player build a new amusement park filled with murderous dinosaur facsimiles from InGen, but with Frontier behind the game we can expect lots of Planet Coaster goodness using the popular Universal Studios license.
Jurassic Park Evolution will release later this year, probably around the time Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits theaters.
There is now a subscription option for Dota 2. Dota Plus is an ongoing, uninterrupted evolution of the Battle Passes that Valve would sell during the Majors and The International tournaments. Now that there’s a Pro Circuit featuring games all year long, the Battle Pass concept has changed to keep up. For $4 a month, subscribers will get the ability to level heroes and gain Shards, a new in-game currency, which can be traded in for goodies. They’ll also get access to special challenges for their heroes, and their subscription will allow a “free” entry to each weekend Battle Cup tournament that will otherwise cost $1 per admission ticket. Perhaps the most intriguing offer for subscribers is access to Plus Assistant, a new tool that gathers and analyzes everyone’s build decisions in real-time and offers suggestions for the user’s own build. It’s like having a personal meta-game counselor.
Dota Plus is available now.
Treyarch and Activision have confirmed Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII. That’s a four to you normal people. In fact, let’s agree to nip this in the bud. We’re going to write that as “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” or “Blops4” from now on because we’re not crazy.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will launch on October 12th.
Game developer Playdead, boutique media company iam8bit, and sex toy manufacturer RealDoll have teamed up to create a limited collector’s edition of Inside. The twist is that they’re not telling you what they’ve actually created. For $375, you’ll get the PlayStation 4 version of Inside and “several” other items, with at least one of them presumably being the mysterious thing from RealDoll.
If you’re wondering whether or not you can do with this what you’d normally do with a product from RealDoll, the creators are playing coy. They do note that the package “weighs a surprising amount” and based on the box image featuring silhouettes of the multi-limbed Huddle, we’ll leave the kink-shaming to others.
March marks the twentieth anniversary of the StarCraft franchise. That’s two decades of gathering minerals and constructing additional pylons. Starting today, players can get special StarCraft loot in their Blizzard games. Logging into Overwatch will give you a nifty Ghost skin for Widowmaker. Pop into Diablo III to get a miniature battlecruiser pet. StarCraft II players can get a bunch of skins, a special portrait, and a decal. Old school fans of StarCraft Remastered can get an anniversary user interface skin. Later in the month, playing Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, or Heroes of the Storm will give you celebratory prizes as well. It’s like finding a free cache of vespene gas or an unguarded expansion location.
This time in live action theater, it’s Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5. The bad guy Father Jerome leads his parish and shows how he can hold his own with the likes of Pagan Min and Vaas Montenegro. He so crazy! Someone once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over while expecting things to change, but I guess this is a case of not messing with a winning formula.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board wants to protect kids, inform parents, and keep their partners rolling in revenue. To that end, the ESRB is proposing a special box label warning customers that a game may have in-game purchases. ESRB president Patricia Vance said the label would be separate from the normal ratings box and content points.
The new label would apply to loot boxes, cosmetic skins, subscriptions, season passes, music, DLC, and in-game currency. Basically, any optional purchase for a game that is done from within the software. According to Vance, the label doesn’t differentiate between offers because parents need simple information.
“It’s very important for us to not harp on loot boxes per se, to make sure that we’re capturing loot boxes, but also other in-game transactions.”
The ESRB feels this is a good first step in addressing the concerns against loot boxes. The organization also does not want to increase a game’s age ratings due to in-game purchase options.
The Konami versus Hideo Kojima drama continues. Someone on the Metal Gear Survive development team apparently has some feelings on the matter. Seen above is a shot of a clipboard that comes up during character creation. Starting with Hungry Komododragon, taking the first letter of each surname reveals “KJP Forever” presumably a nod to Kojima Productions, Hideo Kojima’s post-Konami studio. Below that, the titles are Bastard Yota and Cunning Yuji which may be directed at Survive’s lead developers Yota Tsusumizaki and Yuji Korekado, although it’s not clear if that’s a good-natured joke or a sincere insult towards them.
Blizzard is updating Warcraft 3. Patch 1.29 is being tested now, and once it’s released to the general audience, the classic real-time strategy game will finally have widescreen support for modern resolutions. Along with widescreen options, Blizzard is giving the game a blance pass, increasing the player count in lobbies to 24, and improving the game’s editor. For the Horde!
To celebrate, Blizzard is sponsoring a special tournament. The Warcraft 3 Invitational will be broadcast on Twitch on February 27th to the 28th. It will feature old-school Warcraft 3 champs as well as new esports stars clicking madly on peasants and peons.
The violence-free “edutainment” Discovery Tour feature for Assassin’s Creed Origin is out now. It opens up the whole game map for exploration, disables any conflicts like angry Roman soldiers or crocodiles, and presents 75 walking tours of virtual Egypt. But there’s a problem. Sharp-eyed porn hounds have noticed that all the game’s statuary have their naughty bits covered with seashells in this mode. Scallops everywhere! “How can you censor art boobies in a piece of software meant for classrooms?” countless nerds ask. Don’t fret. There is still brazen nudity in paintings and wall decorations. Also, there may be a rock formation in Giza that looks a bit like a wang if you squint hard enough.
Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt is a $19.99 standalone title available for PCs, but owners of Assassin’s Creed Origins get it for free as an update to their game.
Electronic Arts has announced Burnout Paradise Remastered. It’s an all-in-one hi-def 4K version of Burnout Paradise for the newest generation of consoles. You can get all the vehicular assaults, billboard smashing, Avril Lavigne, and Guns N’ Roses you can handle from a time when a dynamic in-game online score chase in an open-world format was an amazing new idea.
Burnout Paradise Remastered will launch on March 16th.
Look out, legions! It’s going to be girls night out in Total War: Rome 2’s next DLC. The Desert Kingdoms Culture Pack features the Kush, Saba, Nabatea, and Masaesyli factions, each with new units and cultural traits. Teuta and Cleopatra join the game as new leaders free for everyone’s use. In fact, the free portion of the update enhances women’s roles throughout the game. There are now female generals in some factions, women can wield political influence, and marriage now has wider political ramifications. Shout out gals!