If you want the latest in breaking news, game announcements, industry rumors, and insider reports from anonymous sources, Kotaku is down the hall to the right! But if you want to hear about the stuff that's interesting to potential Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Diamon and occasionally his sidekick Tom Chick, you're in the right place.
Do you love grenades? You should love infinite grenades! Grenade spam made some modes and maps in Battlefield 1 matches intolerable. Choke points like the tunnel in Monte Grappa or the titular space in Ballroom Blitz had a tendency to devolve into explosions and gas on an endless loop. Buried within last week’s They Shall Not Pass update was an initiative DICE is calling “Ammo 2.0” meant to reduce these grenade standoffs. The solution? Take grenades out of the Support’s ammo resupply kit and make them an infinitely recharging power for everyone. It sounds counterintuitive, but the change seems to be working.
We’ve seen around a 7% decrease in grenade throws per second and grenade kills per minute across all base game maps since Battlefield 1 They Shall Not Pass was released.
The Ammo Box gadget that can be thrown out by Support players speeds up the cooldown for grenades, but by making players wait on a timer, DICE is able to reduce the kinds of grenade stalemates seen in the past. Previously, players would throw grenades, resupply, throw more grenades, and repeat. As with any big change, the Ammo 2.0 revamp has been controversial, but DICE maintains that it is working and they are collecting data and adjusting as needed.
EVE Online, the world’s largest economic experiment disguised as a space opera MMO, is changing the way its currency works. One of the attractions for EVE players currently is that the in-game economy is player-driven, risky, and easily converted to real-world money. Unfortunately, that same economic hazard can be off-putting to new players and CCP Games wants to change that.
It’s all a bit The Big Short, but Plex, one of the currencies for EVE, is being made more granular and safer, while Aurum, another kind of virtual funny money, is being done away with. The crux is that for the hardcore EVE Online community, the fact that Plex was an item in-game that had to be hauled in players’ ships as cargo was a feature of the player-driven economy. Attempting to shuttle around with a large amount of Plex was a gamble because if your ship was destroyed, you could lose all your money when it too was blown up or fell into the hands of looters. In fact, a few of the biggest events in EVE’s history were player-on-player piracy. The proposed changes to Plex include a virtual vault that will allow skittish players to move the money without risking it in their ships. While the risky old-fashioned Plex cargo method will still be available, it won’t be required. To concerned players, this new safe option for money transport is contrary to the spirit of EVE Online’s dynamic economy.
Players are encouraged to leave suggestions in the official forum. CCP Games says they will have more information on the proposed Plex changes in April.
Too cruel NCSoft. Too cruel by half. That’s the Statesman, one of the iconic superpowered characters from City of Heroes, repurposed for NCSoft’s upcoming Master X Master. It’s a MOBA, and NCSoft figured they could attract fans of their superhero MMO, (shuttered in 2012) to their latest venture by dredging up the corpse of one of the beloved main characters from Paragon City. A closed beta for Master X Master starts on April 6th and runs until the 27th.
This is Orisa. She’s the newest character added to Overwatch. Her appearance as a four-legged mech makes it easy to remember that she’s a tank-class character. Armed with a main weapon that deals large amounts of constant damage while slowing her movement, Orisa is the classic heavy. Being an Overwatch combatant means she also comes with an extensive backstory. She’s a Nigerian-made security robot that’s been adopted and reprogrammed by an eleven-year-old girl named Efi Oladele. Overwatch’s numerous porn fans are probably chomping at the bit to use Orisa in their creations. Good luck making that robo-centaur sexy.
Orisa should be live in Overwatch today, although Blizzard is keeping her off the Competitive Play roster while they work out her balance.
Train Sim, that internet meme machine from Dovetail Games, has finally upgraded to a new engine. Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul, their latest ode to locomotive fans, runs on Unreal Engine 4 and features a first-person mode so virtual engineers can simulate ambling around the train yard. While players have complained for years about Train Sim’s proprietary engine’s quirks and sometimes primitive graphics, the Unreal Engine changeover is not receiving unanimous praise. Longtime franchise players agree that the game looks quite a bit better than before, but criticism centers on steeper hardware requirements, inconsistent framerates, and some spotty rendering. While some issues were fixed in the beta program, the final release features some carryover and some new complaints. A reminder, perhaps, that progress comes with a cost – as most railroad tycoons could tell you.
Train Sim World: CSX Heavy Haul comes with the “Sand Patch Grade” route and three locomotives. There’s no word on DLC just yet, but based on Dovetail Games’ history, rail nuts can expect plenty of offerings to come down the line.
Rebellion’s glorious X-ray headshot simulator, Sniper Elite 4, will get its first chunk of DLC on March 21st. Deathstorm Part 1: Inception is the first of three “mini-campaign” DLC installments coming for the game. Set in Northern Italy, the expansion mission will task players with infiltrating a secret Nazi naval base to secure a mysterious MacGuffin codenamed Deathstorm. The mission is playable as a strictly single player affair, or snipers can team up for cooperative shenanigans. Additionally, the Night Fighter DLC pack will release on the same day, adding night-time camouflage skins, two new characters, and three new weapons. Both DLC bits will be available separately, or as part of the season pass at “around” the same time.
There’s free content coming as well! A new Night Woods multiplayer map, and an elimination mode are being released at no charge to owners of the base game.
Check out Tom Chick and Jason McMaster playing Sniper Elite 4 together here.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has been out for a few months and gotten some patches and DLC. It’s Civilization VI, so you want it, but based on some assessments, you may not be certain it’s for you. 2K and Firaxis have a partial solution to your dilemma. A sixty turn demo is now available on Steam. The sample will put you in charge of China’s Qin Shi Huang. Sixty turns may not seem like much, but that’s plenty of time for you to watch the AI-controlled units logjam into each other while national leaders bounce randomly between diplomatic states.
How do you beef up sales for a game that was overlooked when it launched? Update the game with a free horde mode. That’s exactly what’s happening with THQ Nordic’s The Dwarves. Unfairly or not, the real-time tactical battle hero game from developer KING Art was lost in the holiday shuffle of 2016 and the publisher is looking to remedy that with some goodwill support. The latest free update features three different challenges on six maps. There’s the aforementioned horde mode with wave-based enemy attacks, a timed challenge that encourages players to kill all opponents as fast as possible, and a chase mode that has the player running down a wayward orc. Leaderboards will add a competitive incentive along with persistent stats that can unlock the game’s 15 heroes for use in the new modes.
That’s all of 1996’s Pokemon Red recreated in Minecraft. That’s not just the environments, or the characters, frozen in Minecraft like a blocky Madame Tussaud’s. As impressive as that would be, this is the full original Gameboy game faithfully (some would say obsessively) programmed into Minecraft with no mods used. That’s 357,000 command blocks stamped out over 21 months for Reddit user MrSquishy to make his mark in history. You can grab the map yourself to try out in Minecraft. The creator warns people that his Pokemon recreation requires a bit more resources than the normal Minecraft map, and there may be some bugs, although some are intentionally recreating glitches from the original handheld game.
That image is from Big Star Games’ upcoming game based on the Reservoir Dogs. You remember the diner assault in Reservoir Dogs, right? What about the shootout at the docks? How about the time-bending powers? Well, you’re going to see them in Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days for the Xbox One and PC later this year. Take a dash of Hotline Miami’s overhead ultra-violence and mix with a dash of 2014’s Super Time Force and you get a Reservoir Dogs that gives the criminals the power to rewind time and do-over bits of their heists.
Say Mr. Orange holds up a car for the getaway and gets shot in the gut. Hit the “Time Back” power and the player can now control Mr. White, and armed with foreknowledge and a big gun, he can go around the other side of the car and kill the driver before she shoots. Tragically, that means the rest of the story will be very different from the one in the movie, but destiny will likely force Michael Madsen to dance to Stuck in the Middle With You no matter how much you mess with the timeline.
A new expansion has been announced for Victor Vran. The Fractured Worlds addition will send players to a plane existence formed out of the pieces of various planets that have collided and broken apart. The new narrative will four dungeons that change on a daily basis, The Fracture, an endless dungeon with new challenges, and an increased level cap from 50 to 60. Victor will gain an additional Destiny Card slot and a new item, Talismans, will offer powerful combat abilities.
Victor Vran: Fractured Worlds is scheduled to launch later this year. At around the same time, the previously announced Motorhead: Through the Ages DLC will also be released for Victor Vran. A bundle of the base game, the Motorhead and Fractured Worlds expansions called Victor Vran: Overkill Edition will be made available.
One of the most satisfying things about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was meeting some low-level scrub orc, Gutterbum the Wretched, barely good enough to wear rags and carry a stick into battle, then bumping into him ten hours later as Gutterbum the Almighty, encased in the finest armor, wielding a mighty sword, and commanding a throng of minions. That was your handiwork. You forged Gutterbum in the crucible of your making. You raised him up from a nothing to a somebody as you tore around Monolith’s open world brawler. There was an odd sense of pride in seeing that orc again, now made formidable thanks to your own choices. He might kill you, but you made him that good, darn it!
Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the upcoming sequel, brings back the vaunted Nemesis System that made enemies grow with the player, but Monolith has expanded the way it works. Captured and turned bad guys will also evolve depending on the player’s actions. That’s not always going to be a positive thing, however. As the game’s creative director, Michael de Plater explained to PC Gamer, these allies may even grow out of their relationship with you. Their stories will have more meat on them compared to the first game’s rather generic buddies.
“We’ll say what’s a good story: does that begin with burning someone to death, or failing to rescue them in a mission so it makes for a betrayal, or you revive them so they feel loyal? What’s a good story? From that story we can mix and match different elements, whether it’s the writing, or what his fighting style is, or if he’s going to betray you. We’re always trying to make these really emotional, powerful stories.”
Middle-earth: Shadow of War launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in August 2017.
The Curious Expedition, the 19th century survival and exploration game from Maschinen-Mensch, has more rugged content for aspiring adventurers. The Arctic Expanse adds the snowy doom of ice floes, polar bears, and dog sledding to its catalog of ways to expire. It’s The Terror in pixels. Mostly, the update offers players what they’ve always wanted.
– New things that will very likely cause your expedition trek to die a gruesome death.
The Arctic Expanse update is free for all owners of The Curious Expedition. You can watch Tom Chick play the base game here.
The game cartridges for the Nintendo Switch taste terrible. “Of course they don’t taste good,” you say. “They’re not meant to be eaten.” It’s more than the normal plastic flavor. There is an acrid bitterness to the little cartridges that was first reported by Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb when he jokingly put one in his mouth. Soon after, other people were trying the cartridge taste test and reporting similarly bitter results. Is it purposeful? Does the awful flavor have a reason? Nintendo has confirmed with Kotaku that they did indeed manufacture the cartridges to have a repulsive flavor.
“To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children. A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card. This bittering agent is non-toxic.”
Denatonium benzoate is the most bitter compound known to humanity. If you say Nintendo Switch games make you gag, you won’t be exaggerating.
Game engines being licensed to movie production companies isn’t a new thing. Whether it’s an actual game being shown in a movie, or a game engine being used to assist with special effects or pre-visualization, movie makers have been using the talents of game studios for years. It’s a perfect match. Game engines are fast, designed to work with off-the-shelf hardware, can produce great scenes, and are usually cheaper than higher-end tools. At this year’s Game Developer’s Conference, Epic Games had a new proposal for Hollywood: real-time special effects using Unreal.
In their GDC presentation, Epic Games showed off a number of ways their software could be used by film and television studios. By partnering with The Mill and their “Blackbird” stunt car, Epic demonstrated how producers could use Unreal to overlay a completely computer-created car into a scene and even change the car on the fly. Andy Serkis talked about how his effects company uses the Unreal Engine to render a virtual character in real-time in the The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Tempest. Epic even used a scene from Disney’s Finding Dory to illustrate how their Unreal Engine VR Editor supports Pixar’s Universal Scene Description toolset.
Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford also came on stage and showed off some bits of something called Borderlands 3.