I can’t quite figure out which tables are missing from Pinball FX3 for the Switch

, | News

Today Zen Studios announced what everyone with a Switch hopes will be announced for every game ever made: a Switch version of Pinball FX3 is on the way!

Pinball FX3 hits the system on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. In addition to evolving the groundbreaking approach to community gaming that has come to define Zen’s series for a full decade, Pinball FX3 takes full advantage of the Nintendo Switch console’s revolutionary capabilities with exclusive features like vertical play orientation and HD rumble support. Thirty tables are available at launch, with more playable content and features to be added in the months to come.

The vertical play feature will be particularly welcome to those of us who Zen Pinballed on the Vita, where the rectangular screen was ideal for a full-frame top-down view of the table. But then comes the bit about 30 tables. I have 68 tables in my PC version of Pinball FX3. Why are fewer than half making the cut? Hmm, let’s peruse the list of announced Switch tables:

Universal Classics™ Pinball (Back to the Future™, E.T.™, Jaws™); Aliens vs. Pinball (Aliens, Alien vs. Predator, Alien: Isolation); Balls of Glory (Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, Archer, American Dad!); Portal; The Walking Dead; Sorcerer’s Lair (free); Zen Classics (Shaman, Tesla, El Dorado, V12); Core Collection (Pasha, Rome, Biolab, Secrets of the Deep); Medieval Pack (Epic Quest, Excalibur); Sci-Fi Pack (Mars, Paranormal, Earth Defense); Iron & Steel (Wild West Rampage, CastleStorm)

There seem to be some conspicuous omissions in there, all properties belonging to a single entity. For what it’s worth, on the Nintendo Wii, the Star Wars tables were released as a separate game with its own progression based on building up your choice of Light Side points or Dark Side points. Maybe there’s something like that in store for the Star Wars and Marvel tables? Or maybe they’ll be sold separately later? Or maybe Disney is taking their balls and going home, so to speak.

Pinball FX3 is also getting a new carnival themed table and a Greek mythology table on November 14th. Both of which be available for the Switch.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is for cat people. Dog people need not bother.

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You can pet cats in Assassin’s Creed: Origins. There is no button to “pet cat.” Just crouch next to one and your Bayek will automatically reach out and give the feline a good rubbing. Good kitty! You cannot, however, pet dogs in the game. Crouch all you want next to a canine and Bayek will just sit there hunched over, ready for assassinating, while Fido runs off. Bad doggy!

Chickety-china the Chinese chicken dinner isn’t happening for Battlegrounds

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is facing an uphill fight in China thanks to a negative recommendation from a leading censorship advisory group. The China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association, working in conjunction with the official Chinese government’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a statement on Battlegrounds that accuses the game of being too violent and “deviates from the values of socialism” according to a translation from Bloomberg. It is an early sign that the game will not likely get an official license for sale in China.

“This basically spells the death sentence for PUBG in China,” said Benjamin Wu, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy Pacific Epoch.

The SAPPRFT previously recommended that lone survivor multiplayer games not be allowed in China and discourages local development of such games. Honour of Kings, a Korean multiplayer survival game published by Tencent, is the most popular game in the genre in China. It slipped into the country before the SAPPRFT ruling and remains on sale with little to no competition in the country.

The ragtag Star Wars game from Visceral we’ll never play

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Visceral Games was shut down by its owner and publisher Electronic Arts on October 17th. The Star Wars action adventure game they were working on, code-named Project Ragtag, was canceled and workers either went to other EA positions or looking for employment. Visceral’s Star Wars game was going to be modeled after Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, but until now the public has never known much about it other than a quick snippet of video during EA’s E3 2016 presentation. Kotaku spoke to former and current EA employees, including Visceral sources, and uncovered some details. The ambitious single-player game put the player into the shoes of Dodger, a Han Solo styled rascal, and his ragtag (get it?) crew of ne’er-do-wells. Set between the movies A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Ragtag would focus on the seedier criminal elements of Star Wars. Heists, Hutts, and hand blasters.

What killed Ragtag? A little bit of this and a little bit of that. According to Kotaku’s sources, game director Amy Hennig’s project design was maybe too ambitious for the understaffed studio, while simultaneously being too conservative for EA’s strategic plans. The game was just too expensive, too complicated, and EA wasn’t going to see the kind of monetary return they needed to keep their shareholders happy.

“EA executives are like, ‘FIFA Ultimate Team makes a billion dollars a year.’ Where’s your version of that?”

After Star Wars: Battlefront shipped and EA shifted to the more profitable games-as-service model, the writing was on the wall for Ragtag. Dodger and company were done. EA’s announcement of both the game’s and the studio’s demise included a note that EA Vancouver had taken over the project and shifted the design to a “broader experience” for players.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins goes from PC to PS4 in 37 minutes

, | Games

I’ve already invested a fair amount of time in Assassin’s Creed: Origins on the PS4, but I couldn’t resist taking a gander at how it looks on the PC. Hoo boy! What a difference a GTX 1080 makes! “So much for playing on the PS4,” I decided, hunkering down to catch up with where I’d gotten on the PS4. But then three things happened in the 37 minutes I’ve logged on Steam: 1) Bayek doesn’t actually whistle when he whistles for his camel. I just press a key and the camel shows up, as if we have some sort of mind link. I’m uncomfortable with a camel inside my head. Plus, as someone who can’t do that cool pet-summoning whistle in real life, I want my power fantasy avatars to be able to do it. 2) I slew a leopard. Then it’s body melted about a foot into the ground. Which would be no big deal except that the twinkly loot point was also a foot under the ground. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the loot prompt to appear. The upper twinkly bits of the “loot here!” effect danced tantalizingly on the ground, like the leaves of a half-sprouted tuber. But the leopard pelt that I hunted fair and square was beyond my reach. 3) Bayek walks and runs in complete and utter silence. He even swims in silence. There is not so much as a gentle plash. While I concede this is a useful trait for an assassin, I kind of prefer the ambient shuffle of feet as Bayek’s boots pad across the sand. Visual immersion is all good and well, but it sort of falls apart when the sound is messed up.

So it’s back to the PS4, begrudgingly, where none of these three things happens. But now I’m having second thoughts because it’s so much easier to get headshots with a mouse. What’s more, the Destiny inspired inventory and quest screens aren’t so clunky when you’re driving with a mouse. And did I mention how much better it looks? I just have to accept the sad fact that no matter what platform you decide to play on, it’s always going to be an imperfect choice.

LawBreakers wants to be the RC Cola of hero shooters

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LawBreakers, Boss Key Productions’ multiplayer hero shooter, hasn’t exactly set the gaming world on fire. Despite already releasing two new maps, adding a competitive mode, and jiggering with mechanics in some pretty drastic ways since its August launch, Boss Key just hasn’t been able to attract the players that some other new multiplayer games have garnered. According to studio head Cliff Bleszinski, it’s all part of the plan. He wants steady growth like Rocket League or Warframe – games that built their healthy communities over extended periods. As he explains to GamesIndustry, his studio knows the hierarchy of gaming and isn’t looking to fight that particular battle just yet.

“I want to carve out my space and be Pepsi or RC Cola of that market – I’m not going to be Coke because Overwatch has too much of a stranglehold.”

While acknowledging some early mistakes in marketing, Bleszinski feels the best way to grow his game’s audience is to keep plugging away at updates, continue to produce content, and concentrate on promoting the game correctly. You can find a copy of the LawBreakers content roadmap here.

Thaumistry: In Charm’s Way put a spell on me

, | Game reviews

When do you give yourself permission to look up a hint while playing an adventure game? You can’t do it each time a difficult puzzle gets in your way, because you’ll deprive yourself of the endorphin rush when you come back the next morning and solve that doozy on your own. Puzzles are weird that way. Even when you put them down, something in your brain keeps doing the work.

But you also can’t never look up a hint, unless the game just “clicks” with you, like Myst did for me in college, when I finished it over the course of a single day, hint-free. That’s the only time I’ve ever done that, and yes, I am bragging about it.

Here’s my personal hints policy: Continue reading →

Watch someone open loot boxes on Twitch while you open loot boxes on Twitch

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Twitch is now offering loot boxes with temporary emotes as prizes. Every time you spend 250 Bits on a Cheer, you will unlock a Halloween crate with one of six zombie emotes that can be used through the rest of the year. Collect all six, and you’ll unlock a permanent Zombie Lord Kappa emote, but you’ll probably need to wade through more than six crates since repeats aren’t worth anything. It’s time-limited crate availability coupled to the variant chase mechanic. Imagine it. You could spend Bits on Cheers to get Twitch loot boxes while watching your favorite streamer spectate in Call of Duty: World War 2 viewing other people opening their in-game loot boxes. If infinite regress is real, the cosmic voyager might say “It’s loot boxes all the way down!”

Twitch’s Halloween Crates will be available until November 3rd.

Best thing you’ll see all week: Wheelman

, | Movie reviews

Locke is a tough movie to pull off. Just a guy in his car, on the phone, dealing with a personal crisis. Watch him make difficult decisions. Watch him take responsibility for his own bad choices. Watch him troubleshoot his own life. Baby Driver is an easy movie to pull off. A kind-hearted getaway driver getting into car chases, meeting a cute chick, and going on a heist. Watch him drive really fast. Watch him listen to catchy music. Watch him brood furiously into the camera. That Locke works and Baby Driver doesn’t speaks volumes about the difference between Tom Hardy and Ansel Elgort.

Wheelman is a little of both. It accepts the challenges of Locke, but embraces the simplicity of Baby Driver. One of its smartest choices is putting Frank Grillo in the driver’s seat. Visually, he’s ideal leading man material. That immaculately unshaved jawline, those intense sunken eyes, that wild hair refusing to behave. As an actor, he’s got just the right mix of hardened tough guy and soft-hearted dad. He’s the city and the suburbs, Hollywood and Sundance, drinking buddy and heartthrob. And he’s finally got a whole movie to himself, literally in the driver’s seat. A lesser movie would have made this about a tough criminal. But Wheelman insists on also being about a father, which gives the movie a lighter touch and ultimately a ton of heart. By the time it’s over — about ten minutes too late, but it’s earned a lot of goodwill by then — Wheelman is more Locke than Baby Driver. Daddy Driver.

First-timer Jeremy Rush shows fine instincts by shooting the movie with the same intimacy as Locke. Contrast this to a structurally similar movie called Getaway, which stays with Ethan Hawke as he drives through a souped-up thriller, which gets splashier and sillier the longer it goes on. Selena Gomez is along for the ride, which tells you all you need to know about Getaway. But Wheelman knows a car going fast is never as cool as a car going fast driven by someone you care about. Add someone who matters to the passenger seat and now you’re giving Locke a run for its money.

Hitman’s next season of stuff is more season one, plus clown shoes

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There’s a Game of the Year edition of Hitman coming. IO Interactive’s announcement brings good news for late adopters and current players. The new edition comes with all of Season One’s content, plus new suits and weapons, a new Patient Zero campaign based around stopping a viral infection, and some new escalation contracts that ramp up the difficulty. The Game of the Year edition is launching on November 7th. If you already own the first season, there will be a $20 upgrade DLC available so you don’t miss out on the clown suit.

The big reveal for people that missed some of the time-limited content is that they’re repeating Season One’s Elusive Contracts. It’s part of the free update to the game for all owners that includes a redesigned user interface, lighting upgrades, and new social features for missions. The encore of the Elusive Contracts will also be time-limited and if you already failed one, you will not be permitted another try. Sorry. No do-overs allowed.

You’ll need to make some allowances when you see original Xbox games at 1080p

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A few original Xbox games will be available tomorrow for the Xbox One. Microsoft confirmed through IGN that thirteen old-school Xbox games, including Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, will be added to the backwards compatibility list on the newer console. As with the current Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles, you can either pop your old disc into your Xbox One and download an update to allow play, or you can purchase a new digital copy through the Xbox Store. You’ll soon be able to enjoy BloodRayne 2 or The King of Fighters Neowave on your gigantic TV in glorious 1080p.

In related news, the Xbox 360 backwards compatible games Halo 3, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Assassin’s Creed are getting Xbox One X enhancement updates on November 7th.