News

Sure, crossbows will be cool in State of Decay 2, but what I really wanted…

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I haven’t minded that State of Decay has never had crossbows. Because every single other game has a bow, or crossbow, or hand crossbow. When Arthur got his bow in Red Dead Redemption 2, I groaned out loud. Oh god, another archery weapon. Really, Rockstar? To be honest, I always felt a little silly using the bow as Arthur. Like I was playing a videogame. So I don’t really need to get my archery fix in State of Decay 2. I know, I know, Daryl Dixon in Walking Dead. I get it. But one of the many many silly things about Walking Dead is that Daryl Dixon would be far more badass if he just grabbed an assault rifle like everybody else. At this point, toting a crossbow smacks of hipsterism. Like listening to vinyl.

But I guess I wouldn’t mind a crossbow in State of Decay 2. Which is something that will happen with tomorrow’s update. It’s adding a crossbow. Actually, eight crossbows. Eight seems excessive. Three I could understand. Maybe as many as five. But eight? The update also adds a bunch of other stuff you can read about here. It’s mostly just bits and bobs, but it’s a free update, and there’s nothing like more bits and bobs to pull me into another playthrough.

The more interesting announcement is that there are two sets of DLC in the works. One will be an updated version of Trumbull Valley, the setting from the original State of Decay. If you played the original State of Decay as much as I did, a Trumbull Valley map will be like coming home. But the DLC that really grabbed my attention — but apparently not the attention of Undead Labs’ copyeditor — is this:

…we’ve got a new difficulty setting coming in 2019. This will bring you a more challenging player experience, and allow you struggle through increase difficulty in new or existing communities.

Since I’m fluent in poorly edited text, I think I know what they’re getting at. It sounds like the Breakdown DLC for the first game, in which you played on increasingly harder difficulty settings until you failed, which is how any zombie story is supposed to end. Currently, the difficulty in State of Decay 2 is a built-in dynamic system. As you clear more of the map, it starts spawning more special zombies, and the remaining areas get more difficult to clear. It’s a good system, but it doesn’t push back very hard. On the contrary, it sort of hangs fire and lets you muck around at your own pace. Which is fine for some people. But what I really want in my zombie apocalypse games is a prohibitively difficult survival challenge with the looming inevitability of despair, starvation, failure, death, and the annihilation of humanity. Is that too much to ask?

The crossbow update is out tomorrow. The Trumbull Valley map and difficulty settings will be out next year.

We were all cheated out of unlimited free games on Steam

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White hat hacker Artem Moskowsky earned $20,000 from Valve by pointing out a security flaw in Steam that potentially could’ve cost the company millions. The issue, a particularly nasty vulnerability in the Steam developer web portal, allowed anyone with an account to generate unlimited keys for any other game in the system. An an example, Moskowsky was able to generate 36,000 valid keys for Portal 2 using the method he discovered. He detailed the issue to Valve and only publicly reported his discovery after the vulnerability was fixed. Checking his HackerOne profile shows Moskowsky has racked up quite an impressive roster of hits for Valve, including an earlier bounty for $25,000. A salute for Artem Moskowsky, gunslinger hero of Steam security!

Make some noise for The Quiet Man

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The Quiet Man, Square Enix’s stealth release from the beginning of the month, may be one of the most puzzling games this year. Not in the Myst sense, but in the way the game’s very existence raises all sorts of questions. The main one being, who thought it was good idea to make a brawler punctuated by long live-action cutscenes with no audio or captions? The titular Quiet Man, Dane, is deaf, so in an attempt to convey that experience to the player, the creators made the game essentially soundless except for the muffled thuds of fists and feet connecting with enemies. The main character reads lips so he has no issues grokking the situation, but you get to sit there watching cinematics in which people say apparently important things to him, with no idea what’s being communicated. It’s an artistic choice that has hurt the game’s tiny reception.

In a world overflowing with words, can we really find something beyond them?

The complaints haven’t fallen on deaf ears. (I’m so sorry.) Producer Kensei Fujinaga has announced that an update will be released with sound and hopefully coherence. Dubbed The Quiet Man – Answered, the update promises to deliver a “story dramatically transformed” into a “completed experience” for players. Interestingly, the studio says there was a first version of the game that “threw words away” prompting another question. Did they really plan any of this at all?

Battlefield V marks a return to big honking manuals

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Battlefield V launches tomorrow for Origin Access Premiere and EA Access subscribers. To go with that early release, DICE has posted a 135-page document of launch notes. There’s a summary if you don’t want to read all the details, but dont wuss out! A big fat manual is what you’ve been crying for since games went to jewel cases and DVD boxes. This is as close as you’re going to get with a big budget game.

More dress-up doll options coming to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

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The free updates coming in November for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey include an option to apply a visual layer over your gear. That means your Kassandra won’t have to be seen wearing an hodge-podge of armor to get the stats you want. You’ll be able to drop a cosmetic look via a “visual customization” menu over your actual items. Secretly wear bandit gear, but look like a good Spartan.

The level max is increasing by twenty, there’s a new The Lost Tales of Greece quest series coming, and more high-end bounties will be available. All this, coming for free this month!

Is Path of Exile too easy? Make it harder by paying extra!

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Path of Exile is getting Private Leagues, essentially private server shards, that can be used to make the game more difficult. Grinding Gear Games announced that starting next week, players can pay about $12 to start a basic Private League for ten days for ten members, with options to add member slots and extra time. Private Leagues allow players to keep random folks from interfering with their game sessions, (perfect for streamers and guilds) as well as add modifiers that increase the challenge. The difficulty mods include ways to increase monster damage, remove player resistances, disable stashes or vendors, as well as turning off all the sweet loot drops. Imagine the look on someone’s face when they stumble into your nightmare world.

Private Leagues will be coming to PC first. Path of Exile is already available on Xbox One, but a PlayStation 4 version was just announced. Path of Exile has no mobile version planned yet.

Destiny 2 is almost free to play

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You can grab a free copy of Destiny 2 on PC right now. No strings attached. It’s the regular base game of Destiny 2 that people paid full price to experience at launch last year. You just need to go through your Battle.net account and claim your copy before November 18th. It’s yours to keep as long as you add it to your account by then.

You’ll want to pick up a copy of the Forsaken expansion if you want all the most recent high-level goodness, but free is a pretty good price for at least twenty hours of the base campaign and multiplayer. If you really need to give Activision money, there’s always plenty of in-game stuff to buy. PC players that actually paid for Destiny 2 will get a free in-game emblem to mark their sacrifice.

Claim your free copy of Destiny 2 on PC here until November 18th.

Deltarune is an Undertale Halloween gift

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You’re probably busy bobbing for apples, begging for candy, or watching TV reruns of classic horror movies tonight, but set aside a few minutes for Deltarune, a free game from the creator of Undertale. Creator Toby Fox has been teasing something for the past couple of days, and speculation that it was going to be an announcement for the sequel to the low-key 2015 indie hit has turned out false. Maybe. Fans of the original game find significance in the fact that Deltarune is an anagram of Undertale. Others point out that the secrets in Undertale took weeks to fully discover, so there might still be a chance that something more meaningful is going on. Even if it’s nothing but a freebie project, it’s a nice trick or treat surprise.

In Battlefield V, the economy is good for war

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Electronic Arts and DICE have announced some details of Battlefield V’s revenue plan. Unlike previous Battlefield games, a season pass or DLC map packs will not be sold to support the game post-launch. Where then, shall the money come from? Cosmetics, of course! Players will be able to earn in-game money called Company Coins (ugh) to unlock new weapons, vehicles, skills, and cosmetics by completing assignments and daily goals. They will also be able to purchase Battlefield Currency with real money that will only be good for the cosmetic items. DICE says the temptation of Battlefield Currency will not be available at launch so players can experience the Coin system first. It probably helps to give people a taste of the grind before you offer the money way out. Still, they promise to keep the real money offers away from items that give you a significant boost.

Balanced rock-paper-scissors gameplay has always been the foundation of the Battlefield series, and our belief is that real-world money should not enable pay-to-win or pay-for-power.

Battlefield V launches on November 20th, for all the peasants that decline to pay for the deluxe edition or Origin Access. Firestorm, Battlefield V’s take on Battle Royale will not be available until March 2019.

Electronic Arts promises a boot stamping on the face of pure single player forever

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Electronic Arts has announced Project Atlas, a “cloud-native future” for their games. The post from Ken Moss, Chief Technology Officer at EA, describes a vision of integrated cloud computing and artificial intelligence that will power their studios’ games. Examples given include using cloud-powered intelligence to dynamically supply commentary in Madden, or even writing and performing music as you play. The main benefit for EA being a framework that brings together the engine, like EA’s own Frostbite, and the revenue generating games-as-service features investors love.

This will be a fully integrated platform, capable of building the scalable, social, and large-scale experiences of the future. So, while in the past, features like cloud hosting, matchmaking, marketplace, data, AI, achievements, and social were separate from the development tools in the engine, the Project Atlas platform will be able to implement all of these services natively within a unified solution.

EA claims to already have over a thousand developers working on Project Atlas, across “dozens” of studios.

Scaredy-cats can now enjoy The Evil Within 2

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Bethesda has released a stealthy update for The Evil Within 2 that could make the game more appealing for children and yellow-bellies. The 1.05 patch officially contains two innocuous-sounding changes.

– New features for Bethesda.Net members
– Minor bug fixes

The new features includes a harder-than-hardcore “AKUMU” difficulty, an infinite stamina cheat, a ridiculous strength boost, and for everyone that wished for a super-wuss mode, an invincibility toggle. Sign in with your Bethesda.net login and cheat through the horrors of The Evil Within 2 just in time for Halloween. Spooky!

Hellgate: London rises from the pit

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Hellgate: London, the ill-fated 2007 online action MMO from Flagship Studios, (that some would argue was ahead of its time) is coming back as a standalone single player experience on Steam. Now managed and developed by T3Entertainment and HanbitSoft since Flagship’s liquidation in 2008, this single player only revamp is an offline version of the Hellgate: Tokyo 2.0 MMO available in Asia.

When Hellgate: London first launched in 2007, the sci-fi setting, procedurally generated environments, third or first-person action gameplay, and the optional online subscription were considered by many people as too far from the Diablo model that the audience expected. How times have changed! Additional criticisms included drab looks, bland gameplay, and the online features being a bit of a mess. Financial woes and player dissatisfaction led to bankruptcy for Flagship, but the game lived on in Korea as a free-to-play title.

The new version of Hellgate: London launches on November 15th.

Your gaming PC can’t handle Disgaea 5’s online features

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NIS America has explained the lack of online functionality in the Steam version of Disgaea 5 Complete. According to the publisher’s blog post, there are “irreconcilable platform differences” that prevent the network features from working. One of the features disabled in the inferior version of the game is the popular Map Edit Shop that allows users to share their creations. If only Steam had a kind of user sharing “workshop” built into it! Alas. Powerhouse platforms like the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch apparently do not suffer from whatever deficiencies plague the modern gaming PC using Steam.

Germany says video game racing is just as good as real racing

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The Deutsche Motor Sport Bund has officially elevated video game racing. As Germany’s official motor sport governing body, the DMSB’s recognition of professional sim racing includes the announcement of an eSport arm that will establish guidelines and standards. As translated by Jalopnik, “there’s little difference between real-world racing and sim racing – with some important caveats” like the presence of sponsors, and perhaps the threat of accidental injury or death. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of virtual racing, it’s that getting all the sweet sponsor money is mad important.