Pillars of Eternity 2 switches genres for its latest update

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One of the things that’s prevented me from really enjoying the Pillars of Eternity games is Obsidian’s insistence on maintaining the “real-time with pausing” combat mechanic. It’s a design from the Baldur’s Gate days that’s always frustrated me. Who just hit my fighter? Where did that spell come from? Why is everyone clumping up like that? Argh! Stop rushing there!

Thankfully, I’m not alone. A fairly vocal contingent of fans have been steadily making their preference for a pure turn-based combat mode known since before the first game was even fully funded on Kickstarter. There have been rumors for weeks, especially after the option was accidentally revealed in December, but turn-based combat is officially happening for Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. PCGamesN has the scoop on the amazing free update that adds this option. Designer Josh Sawyer even mentions the very issue I encountered in my time with the game.

“Because of my tabletop background, and because I prefer closer examination. When I play real-time with pause, I micromanage so much that it might as well be turn-based.”

Glorious vindication! The turn-based combat option is coming to Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire on January 24th.

Can you kill someone with a snowball? Hitman has the answer.

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Agent 47 has new toys to play with. In Hitman 2’s latest update, the Hokkaido Legacy Pack location is being graced with a time-limited Snow Festival setting, and Season Pass owners will be able to access a Winter Sports Pack.

The Snow Festival event involves killing an unscrupulous fireworks manufacturer in the Hokkaido medical facility. The level is decked out in multicolored lights and glittery snowflake ceiling hangings, but it’s all very tasteful as befits the jet-setting Hitman universe. The free limited event is actually available now for Hitman 2 Legacy Pack owners and will continue until February 12th. People that don’t own Hitman 2 will also get to try the level for free, starting on the 22nd. That progress will carry over to the main game once you upgrade.

The Winter Sports Pack will also become available on the 22nd of January. It’s the first installment of the Season Pass and gives owners access to a sporty cold-weather outfit, a gaudy arctic suitcase, a stabby piton, a set of climbing gear that also kills people, and the deadly snowball. It’s supposed to just be “annoying” but we all know that everyone is going to try to kill people with it as soon as they get their hands on it.

Everything’s coming up Destiny, even without Activision

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The future is bright for Destiny 2, according to Bungie’s Luke Smith. The latest weekly update from Bungie features a post from the game’s director addressing the news that Bungie is parting ways from Activision. Smith stresses that the studio will continue to work on the Destiny universe and that Destiny 2’s content updates are continuing as planned. In a separate announcement, Blizzard assured fans that the PC version of Destiny 2 will continue to live on the BattleNet launcher for the foreseeable future.

Bungie also thanked partners Vicarious Visions and High Moon Studios for their work on Destiny content. Since both studios are owned by Activision, it’s unlikely they will continue their relationship.

“We’re thinking about what it means to be truly independent, what it means to self-publish, and crucially, what Destiny’s future can now look like for our players.”

What happens with Destiny 3? Where will Bungie find development funding outside of Destiny 2’s revenue? Speculation has been running rife since the breakup announcement. Whatever the company decides to do, players are keen to see what a “truly independent” Bungie looks like.

The Easter Egg game in Watch Dogs 2 is dead

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In Watch Dogs 2, there was a cool meta-mission that had the player infilitrating a fictional Ubisoft office in San Francisco and stealing video of a work-in-progress game. That was Pioneer, a project later confirmed by Ubisoft sources as being real and set for a 2017 E3 showing. Even at that early date there were reports of it hitting some snags in development, but the video was a nice bit of viral marketing and a cool little Easter Egg. According to Alex Hutchinson, Pioneer may never see release. While the designer of Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3 may be wrong since he’s no longer with Ubisoft, he’s probably got sources that are in the know. Besides, we definitely did not get a 2017 or 2018 reveal for Pioneer.

Rocket League brings together all gamers

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Rocket League is now fully cross-platform compatible. Psyonix has announced that their arena multiplayer phenomenon is now part of the PlayStation Cross-Play Beta, meaning gamers on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions can play together in random match-ups. According to the studio post, a cross-platform party system is coming soon, so pals on different systems can stay together.

Rocket League’s full cross-platform play has been a long time coming. Psyonix thanks their fans and their “generous partners” for making this happen, but Sony resisted cross-platform play since it was first floated as a possibility. It was the additional pressure from Epic’s gargantuan Fortnite audience that likely supplied the main push for Sony to open PlayStation’s servers.

Dozens of Rocket League Sony drivers that don’t hold their platform against the other, lesser, hardware versions will now be able to team up and create a beautiful world of cross-platform gaming.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is in a tussle with lawmen

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Take-Two is suing Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations. The company, founded as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1850, filed a cease-and-desist letter against the makers of Red Dead Redemption 2 in December for the use of their name in association with the characters Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross. Take-Two is now suing to have the use of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in their game declared fair use, arguing that the investigative firm’s name is part of the historical setting.

The Pinkerton complaint accuses Red Dead Redemption 2 of capitalizing on the “goodwill” associated with the storied security agency’s trademark, and creates the false impression that the game was made with their approval or assistance. Pinkerton demands ongoing royalties from sales of the game, or a one-time payment based on projected sales.

Take-Two asserts that the use of the Pinkerton name in their fictional setting is covered under the First Amendment. They also point out in their lawsuit that there is a long history of popular fiction using the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s name including BioShock, Deadwood, and The Long Riders.

Playing Battle Royale may get you drafted in South Korea

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Conscientious objectors in South Korea may have their claims denied if they played “online shooter” games. About a dozen men are being investigated since the country’s courts declared in November that the government can no longer jail people that refuse to enter the military based on religious grounds. (Generally, all South Korean males between the ages of 18 and 35 must perform at least 21 months of military service.) The government can investigate objectors’ claims, and prosecutors told CNN that one of things they will look into is whether or not the young men played violent video games. The implication being that if you’re okay with shooting people online, then South Korean officials may not believe your anti-violence stance.

Worst thing you’ll see in 42 years: The Car: Road to Revenge

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Although the 1977 horror movie The Car belongs in the killer car genre, the template was Jaws.  Move Amity from a coastal town into the desert. Change the shark to a demonic driverless car. Otherwise, pretty much everything else is the same.  A small-town sheriff, mysterious casualties, Fourth of July celebrations interrupted by a public attack, an old man with unique insight enlisted for a third act hunt, and everything resolved by an explosion.  The Car ended with the car vanquished. Or did it? The credits played over footage of the car driving around a city. Hmm. So it wasn’t buried forever in a desert canyon?

That’s where I come in.

Continue reading →

This is how At the Gates almost broke Jon Shafer

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Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Civilization V, started working on At the Gates in 2012 and it almost ruined him. In a long, and very open, blog post, Shafer details the harrowing journey he took in the seven years since he started working on the game. Medical and financial issues mounted until he hit rock-bottom midway through the project. In a November 2015 Kickstarter update, Shafer confessed that things were not on track and that he’d resorted to selling his house and emptying his retirement fund to pay for development.

“And it finally sunk in. It was over. Everything was over. I had destroyed everything. There was nothing left. Of the game. Of my career. Of my life. Anything. It was all gone.”

A pause for reassment, a side trip in 2017 as a Paradox hire, and a “reboot” of his life habits put him back on the right path. Thankfully, Jon Shafer is doing much better now, and with At the Gates almost ready to launch on January 23rd, he’s got something to look forward to.

The God of War expansion that will never be

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Cory Barlog, the director of God of War, revealed to Kinda Funny that his ideas for an expansion were “too ambitious” to be produced. Barlog admitted that his pitch would’ve resulted in an expansion that may have rivaled the size and complexity of the Left Behind standalone product for The Last of Us. Why that would’ve been an issue is unclear, as most God of War fans would enjoy more Adventures of Kratos and Boy, but perhaps Sony and Santa Monica Studio will save some of Barlog’s ideas for the sequel?

“I had a really fun idea for a DLC that I only regret because I would love to have done that.”

God of War was somehow not on any of the Quarter to Three Top Ten Games of 2018 lists.

Don’t panic over Alien: Blackout. There’s an ‘MMO shooter’ coming too.

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The announcement of Alien: Blackout, a mobile title from D3 Go! and FoxNext, being a continuation of Amanda Ripley’s story from Alien: Isolation was met with a collective shrug from gamers. This is where Ellen Ripley’s daughter is going to go after escaping a station filed with killer androids and a tenacious xenomorph? Would it be possible to get back to Jonesy’s adventures instead?

In all the back and forth over how mobile games are getting all the good franchises, people are missing the silver lining. Buried in the Blackout press release, is an interesting bit of information for those looking for a meatier Alien game.

FoxNext Games’ studio, Cold Iron Studios, is also currently at work on a massively multiplayer online shooter set in the Alien cinematic universe for consoles and PC.

FoxNext acquired Cold Iron in January of last year, but no one knew what kind of shooter they were working on. Now we know it’s going to chase that massively multiplayer money.