Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is as accurate as Clash of the Titans

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There is always a compromise between being historically accurate and serving the needs of a game. Soldiers did not resolve battles via capture-the-flag in World War II. Pirates did not ballroom dance to further their careers. Rey did not fight Boba Fett on Naboo.

Ubisoft dares to ride that line between history and gaming consistently by having their marquee Assassin’s Creed franchise bounce around time like a sightseeing tour. They even released a standalone version of Assassin’s Creed Origins that was essentially an educational virtual museum romp through Ptolemaic Egypt.

How accurate is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey? Did Ubisoft get their rivet counts right on their staue of Achilles? Our very own forum member, Josho Brouwers, editor-in-chief of Ancient World Magazine, is taking an academic look. In his latest article, he comments on the game’s depiction of Cephalonia, the plausability of Kassandra being a freewheeling mercenary, and notes inspirations from Clash of the Titans. It’s as accurate as it needed to be to offer “exotic” travel while depicting a recognizably popular version of ancient Greece. Good enough for me, except I’m still bitter that Kassandra can’t pick up a shield.

Rainbow Six Siege players can rest easy. Strip club decor will still be in the game.

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Ubisoft is reversing course on cosmetic changes to Rainbow Six Siege. Earlier in the month, Ubisoft had announced that they were making some minor aesthetic adjustments to the game to conform to the Asian market’s censorship rules. Images of skulls, map assets like slot machines and pole dancer signs, and objectionable interface icons were all being removed or swapped with less culturally offensive alternatives. This did not sit well with current fans. A review-bombing campaign resulted in accusations of Ubisoft “pandering” to censors or even facilitating China’s draconian government.

Now, the developers are backing away. Ubisoft is rolling back the adjustments and returning to the “original artistic intent” of the game. Players can have their go-go dancing neon stripper signs and enjoy the blood-splashed paintings that existed previously.

The Monster Hunter film has everything a Resident Evil fan wants

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That’s Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa filming the live-action Monster Hunter movie. If you’re wondering why Milla Jovovich looks like she just stepped out of a Resident Evil movie instead of being wrapped in monster scales, that’s because director Paul W.S. Anderson’s movie will take some liberties with the franchise’s story. In this take, a team of our Earth’s modern hardened combat vets get magically sucked into the Monster Hunter universe. Wacky shenanigans ensue. We just need Ryan Reynolds to voice the Palico and we’ll be all set.

How The Walking Dead suddenly got good again

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The dirty little secret about hate-watching is that you’re not just doing it because you hate a show. That’s certainly part of it, but it’s not the main part. If you simply hated the show, you would stop watching. But what none of us will admit, and what drives all of us who hate-watch, is the secret hope that the show will get good again. That it will show some sign, even a glimmer, of what made us watch it in the first place. We call it hate-watching so we don’t feel dumb for watching a show that’s no longer good. But really, there’s no such thing as hate-watching. There is only hope-watching.

And sometimes it pays off. Continue reading →

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.