Hello Games announces No Man’s Sky

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Hello Games, developer of Joe Danger, has announced today on VGX the next gen title No Man’s Sky.  The game will be a science fiction featuring a huge universe that encourages exploration with multiple planets to explore from top to bottom.  The game promises that the stars in the sky are suns featuring planets that can be explored with a “living” persistent world.  It looks like a game with a lot of promise and I’ll be sure to post more regarding this game when more details become available.

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Tomb Raider : Definitive Edition announced for next gen

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Tomb Raider was released earlier this year and was well received.  Personally, I found the game to be the best I’ve played this year and easily one of the best on this current generation of gaming platforms.  It had some of the best action platforming I’ve ever experienced and was a much-needed reboot to a stagnating gaming franchise.  Needless to say, I’m ready to get stranded on a hostile island with Lara Croft again with the power of the new game consoles.  The game will feature improved graphics with some of the highlights being a completely reconstructed face for Lara as well as more realistic hair effects.  From the trailer that was shown on VGX, it wasn’t terribly mind-blowing with the graphical improvements, but the hair does look good.  The game will be released on Xbox One and PS4 and will be available next month.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 trailer is live

The second season of Telltale’s award winning The Walking Dead is coming to consoles, PC, and mobile soon and to drum up some excitement for what is sure to be a heavily emotional experience, they’ve released this brief teaser.  The first season was easily some of the finest adventure gaming I’ve ever experienced with some incredibly heavy moments (the season finale was just brutal), so I’m really looking forward to what this next season has to offer.

Feast your eyes on the new The Evil Within trailer

Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is bringing a new vision of survival horror to consoles and Windows PC next year.  From the trailer below, it looks like it’s shaping up nicely.  In a disgusting and terrifying sort of niceness.

Diablo III console edition impressions

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I can’t really label this a review since I haven’t completed the game yet and don’t really have a fully formulated opinion of it.  But, I have spent several hours with the console release (specifically the Xbox 360 version) of Diablo III and have some thoughts I’d like to put down on digital paper.  The game is over a year old on PCs now and so it doesn’t really warrant a review in that sense.  It’s Diablo – the king of dungeon crawlers.  It’s awesome.  Yada yada.  But how does it play on consoles?

Pretty great, actually.  Honestly, for several years now I’ve been favoring console dungeon crawlers over their PC counterparts.  There’s not always a whole lot of ports, but since the days of the Dreamcast, I’ve been doing most of my killing and looting with a controller in hand.  This isn’t to spark a PC vs. Consoles debate, this is just my preference (and you’d damn well better respect my preference).  PC gamers tend to have a bit of apprehension when it comes to ports of their beloved mouse and keyboard exclusives.  Sometimes they’re right to be worried (typically, real-time strategy games (RTS) don’t translate well to console controls), but sometimes their apprehension is unfounded.  Thankfully that’s the case with Diablo III.

diablo-3-demon-hunter-02Personally, I wasn’t worried about the transition.  I had enjoyed Torchlight immensely in its console release (and sincerely hope that its sequel gets some new life on consoles) and knew that Bilzzard was more than capable of delivering a high-quality port.  They did, too.

I think the biggest selling point for me on the console version is the couch co-op.  I can be old school at times and so I’d much rather be playing a game with my friends in the same room as me than as disembodied voices over the internet.  It’s a much more enjoyable experience.  That being said, killing, questing, and looting is so much more rewarding to me when I can sit back on the couch and maybe throw back a couple of drinks with my pals while making clever or not-so-clever quips.  It’s great to have that social interaction mixed in with my favorite hobby.  It also helps that the translation to consoles didn’t affect the fun factor of Diablo.

It would be insulting to say that there’s not much to the game on PC, but in playing games like Diablo it has a missing sense of control.  With playing the game with a controller in hand, I feel much more like I’m playing a game.  My character moves where I’m leading him and reacts to my every move – I’m not just telling him what to do and he follows my commands; I’m given a much greater sense of control.  That is what I like about playing Diablo III on my console.  Does the console version have its drawbacks?  Sure.  It’s not perfect, but it offers to me as a gamer more of what I’m looking for in a game than the PC version does.

The biggest disappointment I have with Diablo III is less of something the game did wrong and more of a hugely missed opportunity.  Couch co-op is great.  I love sitting with my pals and playing this game on the same screen.  However, sharing the screen during inventory management sessions sucks.  Only one player at a time can view his or her inventory or have any interactions with merchants.  This breaks the flow of the game and results in several sessions of checking facebook or playing games on your phone while you wait for your pals to finish up their shopping, crafting, and customizing.  This is something that could have been easily remedied with SmartGlass.  Let’s say that you’ve got 3 friends over and you’re all looking to score some epic loot.  Well, while Johnny McSlowshopper is browsing the shops, you can connect with SmartGlass and interact with a shop keep or examine and manage your inventory on your phone while the television is occupied with someone else’s menu.  This would have been a great solution in keeping the game moving at all times rather than making every trip to town a 20+ minute ordeal because you have to take turns managing your inventory.  With that said, it’s a relatively minor complaint.  It’s not a broken gameplay mechanic or a fatal flaw in the game, it’s just a painfully missed opportunity.

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Diablo III on the console is a blast.  It’s pretty much everything you can expect from a Diablo game while giving you a little bit more joy with couch co-op.  It’s a welcome addition to my gaming library and I’m sure I’m going to sink many, many hours into its loot-filled world.

 

Diablo III is currently available on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.  A PS4 release is planned and in development.

Win/Lose – Commentary on the Xbox One policy change

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Microsoft employees have gone on to say it after all the bad press regarding their next game console’s policies and I’ll say it myself, I think it comes down to people misunderstanding the policies where all the hate stems from.  People reacted about as warmly to that statement as one would expect; the statement was essentially misinterpreted as Microsoft calling consumers “stupid,”  that’s not really the case.  What they’re saying is people made immediate and biased assumptions about the system’s policies and this perpetuated ignorance and hatred for the system.  Paranoia and unwillingness to change have, ultimately, had a negative impact on the future of gaming.

Microsoft was all sorts of elusive when confirming anything regarding Xbox One’s used game/always on policies.  This wasn’t really a good move for the software giant, but understandable given the huge amount of backlash received after they made any confirmations.  With some things cleared up, Microsoft went on to show off some astounding games at this year’s E3–which I thought gave the system the upper hand.  Sony showed off some great games, too, but not a whole lot new, and not nearly the number of exclusives that Microsoft had.  To win E3, Sony went for the throat and proudly undercut the Xbox One’s price by $100 and proclaimed that there will be no used game restrictions or always on policy.  The audience erupted and immediately declared Sony the winner.

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleFrom there, the internet and her high-class citizens went on about damning the Xbox One and its restrictiveness.  The assumption that gamers wouldn’t be able to buy, sell, trade, or lend used games was a major misconception in destroying the Xbox One’s reputation.  The necessity to connect your system to the internet daily was another point counted against the system.  The rampant disregard to purpose behind those systems is what screwed us all in the end.

I made my decision to pre-order the Xbox One immediately after E3.  Why?  Primarily because of the games.  Beyond that?  I knew what Microsoft’s policies meant.  I highlight all of that wonderful stuff in my now outdated article on why I pre-ordered an Xbox One.  I liked the idea of a game being linked to my account so I can play it without a disc.  Why?  Because it meant that no matter where I was or whether or not I had the game disc with me, I could download the game on any Xbox One and enjoy the game I purchased.  The license granted to me from purchasing a game on Xbox One was good beyond the game disc, I had access to the game on Games on Demand and could continue enjoying the game even if I didn’t have access to the game disc.  Pretty wonderful idea, if you ask me.  I loved the family sharing plan.  The fact that I could grant access to my entire gaming library to 10 of my Xbox Live friends was awesome.  Rather than having to be local to lend games, I could give full access of my games to friends of mine out of state.  Borrowing and lending games would be better than ever before because it wasn’t grounded strictly in real-world media.

I’m still a traditionalist–I love physical media.  I’ve got a huge collection of games spanning 15 or so game consoles and they’re some of my most prized possessions.  Gaming is a huge part of me and that tangible media is an important part of that–I love to collect.  Having the option to enjoy owning and collecting the physical media while maintaining access to my games in the digital world is pretty awesome.  Being able to borrow and lend games online is pretty awesome.  The fact that our world is pretty much always online just makes me wonder, why on earth were we all afraid of the Xbox One?  The DRM?  The DRM incorporated in the Xbox One was simply to check to make sure that the game was attached to your account or you had legitimate borrowing access.  That’s not a bad thing and it is, in no way, restrictive to what you can do with your game.  Microsoft confirmed that used games and borrowing would continue without issue as they do now–the main difference is that third-party publishers would have the capability to earn money back on game resells if they so chose.

Xbox-One3With all of that, the gaming community still complained.  Harassing comments wherever they could be posted and ensuring Microsoft know that you’d much rather have the PS4 than the Xbox One because of its “less restrictive” approach to gaming.  Your dollars spoke and, Microsoft being a business, had to react.  Making money is pretty important for a corporation, so they have to make sure you’re willing to give it to them.  Microsoft retracted their online spot check and DRM policies for you, but also for them.  Why?  Because you hated everything the system promised, so they had to make it more like the system you wanted to prevent the investment from being a total loss.  Win.

I’m not trying to say any one system is better than the other.  I have no doubt that I will own a PS4 before too long, but what I saw of the Xbox One made it my platform of choice at launch.  It is frustrating, to me, that some of the reasons I chose the platform are being taken away from me.  I made an investment in the system and now I’m losing the functionality I was so looking forward to.  I’ll still have the games, sure, and that was, ultimately, the top reason I selected Xbox One as my Holiday 2013 launch system, but it is saddening that I’ll have to give up some of the system’s most promising features because of you.

The removal of these policies may seem like a big win for the gaming community, but we’ve really just put a halt on some groundbreaking features.  Digital borrowing/trading was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that.  Switching games without switching discs was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that.  Access to our entire gaming library no matter where we are was a huge win for us, but we didn’t want that.  It may have seemed like all these policies were put in place to restrict us, but they really promised a pretty bright future for gaming, but we didn’t want that.  The next gaming generation could have been a huge leap forward, but, after eight years, we only wanted a small step.  So, let’s celebrate because we won the battle.  So, why then, does it feel like we’ve lost?

The next Dragon Age and Mass Effect built on same core system

I’m a long-time fan of BioWare.  I’ve been playing their games for the better part of my whole life.  Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, KotOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect–all of these games have had a lasting impact on me and I’m always tempted to go back to re-experience the greatness of those gaming classics.  I can’t express the disappointment I felt when they were bought out by Electronic Arts and the changes that came with that acquisition.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great games from BioWare since the acquisition, but the practices and tone of the games have changed drastically since the studio gave up its independence.

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Even though it’s published by EA, Dragon Age: Origins is, in my humble opinion, the last classic BioWare game.  Production on DAO began long before EA’s purchase of the Canadian developer and it’s undeniable that it feels everything like one of their older titles.  A spiritual successor to their Dungeons & Dragons licensed games, Dragon Age was a love letter to their fans and hardcore gamers.  It was an in-depth tactical RPG with branching stories and great characters.  I loved it, as did pretty much every other loyal BioWare fan.  It was a game that gave me hope for the future of the studio under EA’s umbrella… until we got Dragon Age 2.

Among the many things bad with their fantasy RPG sequel, Dragon Age 2 can easily be considered Mass Effect with swords… and a much smaller world.  Dragon Age 2 was everything DAO wasn’t–everything a Dragon Age game shouldn’t be.  Despite Mass Effect being a great gaming franchise, it’s successful in that its mechanics work within its game world–those mechanics don’t belong in any sequel to a tactical fantasy RPG.  With that said, I can’t help but be a little apprehensive about the upcoming Dragon Age 3, which will lay the groundwork for the next entry in the Mass Effect franchise.

I can see the positive side of this as it will cut down development time for the next Mass Effect, but it also indicates that the next DA will not really distance itself from the “ME with swords” identity established with the second game.  If BioWare proves me wrong in this assumption, I’ll be thrilled.  Until then, I’m going to remain cautious about the next Dragon Age.

 

Source:  VG247

I preordered an Xbox One, and here’s why…

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I’m a gamer.  I’ve spent countless hours hunched over keyboards and slouched back in a couch holding a controller; I’ve even done my fair share of time flailing with Wii remotes.  It’s a great hobby and it’s something that’s really come to define a part of who I am.  Over the years, I’ve grown attached to certain properties.  Games like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid helped to shape my childhood along with Sonic and Sega’s band of misfits.  Sega, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have all had a part in shaping me, my imagination, my interests, and even my sense of humor.  Gaming is more than what I do, really, it’s a part of who I am.

With E3 just wrapping up, there’s a lot of hubbub going on about which of the two new consoles to get.  There was a huge, and I mean huge, negative outcry against Microsoft’s Xbox One with gamers responding to Sony’s less restrictive PS4 with thunderous applause.  The Xbox One requires a daily internet connection, it locks games to users’ accounts, there’s the possibility that publishers can block or profit from used game sales; these are all, obviously, awful things.  These horrible things are all things that Sony’s last bastion of hope for freedom in gaming doesn’t do, so why pick the console that does?  Well, the games.

New-Xbox-One-ConsoleI watched the E3 press conferences for Microsoft and Sony and even the Nintendo Direct.  I saw a few reasons to get a Wii U in the future, but nothing that made me want to run out right now to get Nintendo’s already dated home console hardware.  From Sony, I saw them promise a less restrictive platform with a lower price point than Microsoft’s Xbox One.  And from Microsoft, I saw games.  Games I wanted.  Games I cared about.  All the reactions I’ve seen regarding who won E3 come back to Sony in that they announced a cheaper and less restrictive system.  What I really wanted to see was games.  I didn’t really feel like Sony delivered on that front.  A large portion of what they showed off was stuff we’ve known about for quite some time.  Sure, Sony has some great franchises in its library and I’ll no doubt be buying a PS4 when Quantic Dream (one of my all-time favorite developers) releases their next title after Beyond: Two Souls, but I didn’t see anything at their conference that made me want to have the system at launch.

Microsoft, on the other hand, showed off Ryse: Son of Rome in its latest, controller-based iteration.  It was damned gorgeous and captivating–something I’ll definitely want to play.  They showed off a new Killer Instinct which will be available on Xbox One at launch.  They touted some beautiful footage from Forza 5.  They showed a little more on Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break–and I can’t miss a Remedy game.  And, probably most importantly to me, they teased a new Halo game.  Since the first title, I’ve been attached to the Haloverse–I’ve read the books, the comics, watched the anime, watched Forward Unto Dawn, and played all the releases on day one since Halo 2.  It’s a story I care about and I was thrilled to see that 343 Industries actually cared about telling an epic space opera with Halo 4, so I’m more than a little excited to see where the franchise goes moving forward in this new trilogy.

KI_LogoIn addition to that, there’s some really exciting stuff in the “other” media features on Xbox One.  While not gaming per se, there are two original television series in the works for Xbox One that I’m interested in following:  Halo: The Television Series with one Stephen Spielberg being involved and Remedy’s extension to Quantum Break with episodes being tailored depending on decisions in-game.  I love stories and that’s one of the most important things, to me, when it comes to what games I want to play.  If the developers expand on the universe in interesting ways, I’m all for that.  I’d love to see more of the Haloverse outside of the games (but inside canon).

Now, I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled about everything regarding the Xbox One.  It is baffling that Microsoft would think it’s a good idea to move forward with some of their restrictions (specifically the locked games and daily online access requirements), but these are things that, I don’t think, will affect me.  Microsoft has confirmed that borrowing/lending as well as selling/buying used games will still be supported on the system.  They’ve also made it sound like there’s going to be some great new ways to borrow and lend games with a sharing library where 10 users can have access to your library.  What this means is that I can be lending out games to friends in a different state without having to give them my disc–they simply install the game and enjoy it based on my sharing settings.  Pretty great.  The downside is that these friends do need to be on your friends list for a minimum of 30 days and… well, that’s all I can really think of.  I’ve got friends and family several hours away and being able to share games from my account is pretty awesome, in my opinion.

Xbox-One3I’m not strictly a console gamer; I’ve got a decently sized gaming library on my PC which is primarily thanks to Valve’s Steam.  While I’ve always been a fan of how consoles worked differently than PCs with no needing installs, keys, or being able to easily lend your games as physical media, I can’t really complain about Microsoft’s system requirements when I willingly subject myself to similar or stricter restrictions on my PC.  I can’t lend games on my PC, they’re locked to my account.  I need periodic internet access to get on Steam.  I don’t have a problem with this on my computer, and it really should have been expected that the console market would move in this direction sooner or later.  I’m not defending the Xbox One’s restrictions, but I am saying that they’re not as ridiculous as everyone is claiming.  If Microsoft has a solution for if and when Xbox Live is down, good, because that’s really the only problem I can see with the system.  Really, my biggest concern is longevity.

I still have all of my classic consoles.  I’m really quite proud of my gaming collection (as I said earlier in this post, gaming is a part of who I am).  I love going back to play some of my favorites in the best way possible–authentically.  Sure, I can easily boot up an emulator and enjoy classic games that way, but there’s something special about holding the proper controller and taking it in the way I did 10 – 20 years ago.  It’s a great feeling.  So, since I’m such a nostalgic sap, what’s going to happen to my Xbox One library 10 or 15 years from now when Microsoft stops supporting the system?  Will I no longer be able to go back and enjoy my favorite Xbox One games like I do with all my other classic consoles?  That’s what I really want to know.  Not that there’s much I can do about it, but I’d like to have my worries comforted as we move forward into a new console generation.

So, the Xbox One… I’ve made my big day-one decision and I’m sticking to it.  It’s got the games I want, and that’s the most important thing to me.  It’s nowhere near a perfect console and some of the restrictions are downright depressing, but I’d rather play the games I want to play than buy a PS4 simply to send a message to Microsoft.

Mirror’s Edge 2 coming when it’s ready

Another EA reveal was the highly anticipated Mirror’s Edge 2.  The teaser is composed entirely of in-game footage and it looks absolutely stunning.  The DICE-developed sequel will be released “when it’s ready.”

PS4 design unveiled

A first for Sony, the PS4’s design managed to stay under wraps until today’s E3 reveal.  Honestly, it’s kinda ugly.  I think both systems this coming gaming generation are pretty unspectacular in their physical appearance, but, hey, it’s the games that matter, right?  It kinda looks like a smaller, slantier Xbox One with a cutout in the center.  Image below:

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