Ground Control to Major Tom: This week saw the launch of the first title in the rebirth of Frontier Development’s Space Sim genre Elite: Dangerous. Frontier Developments also explained a bit about the story underpinning the gameplay and how to find it. You can read our First Five Review here but the reaction has been pretty favorable and even the big kid on the block Roberts Space Industries makers of Star Citizen issued congratulations on the successful launch (showing more class than many of their fans) and welcoming the solid competition and saying it is also looking forward to the upcoming release of No Man’s Sky. This is a good time to be a fan of the Space Sim, now I have to go and price out fancy throttle and stick combinations. (Source PC Gamer, Gamespot, Polygon)
My Lady: Though last week saw the announced delay of CD Project RED’s highly anticipated The Witcher 3 this week saw them finally pull the veil back on the identity of the teased female playable character. Ciri is a woman of ancient elvish descent from a blood line thought lost to history which has for some reason turned the Wild Hunt on her. (Source Joystiq)
We also saw the leak of an image from the latest Windows 10 build that includes a new Xbox application which appears to combine the Xbox store, SmartGlass functionality, and friend functions. Now the only thing they need to add is streaming gameplay to your PC and they’d be set! But that’s not the only in development leak, eagle eyed game press spotted positions for cloud-based Operating Systems Group on a Microsoft project called “Arcadia”. ZDNet report the project is a game streaming service that will allow streaming across the internet to multiple devices. Could this be Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s PlayStation Now or something more? On top of all this there was also ANOTHER leak, this one from Digitimes indicating that “upstream supply chain” sources indicate there will be a Microsoft VR solution shown at the upcoming E3 and VRFocus and Techradar back this up with “sources” at developers indicating they’ve received VR development kits from the house that Bill built. Seriously, this is all great news, but someone in MS’s PR department must be furious at the leak of all this information!
In an attempt to get their brand image under control Microsoft have also taken action this week to launch lawsuits against those fake Microsoft support technicians who are calling old and ignorant people and screwing them out of their money. There’s not much they can do to stop the fake tech support calls so Microsoft are doing all they can with Trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, cybersquatting and deceptive trading practices charges to try and stop the practice from continuing. If it stops one more older person from being hosed by a deceptive call centre mores the better.
On the games front we saw more mea culpa type activity from 343 Industries who have released another patch for the Master Chief Collection but have also announced as a form of apology they will be giving free re-mastered versions of Halo 3: ODST and the Relic map pack in 2015. To be eligible you must have owned Halo: Master Chief Collection before December 19th. 343 Industries also launched the Arena beta for Halo 5: Guardians exclusively to members of the press and dashboard beta testers. This will be going on through the weekend so check out twitch to get a view.
Finally Microsoft had some stranger news, they are releasing a Telltale Adventure game based on Minecraft. This is going to be in collaboration with Mojang and will add a much needed story telling element to the sandbox to end all sandboxes. The most interesting part is they are honouring their commitment to multi-platform play ensuring the title will be coming to not just Xbox consoles and PCs but also to Mac, iOS, Android, and PlayStation. (Source Joystiq here, here, here, here and here, Polygon here, here, here and here, ZDNet, Gamespot, Tech Radar, VDFocus, Digitimes and Ars Technica)
It’s my IP and I’ll cry if I want to: Devil May Cry’s most recent reboot may have been received well critically but sales weren’t all that hot but that hasn’t stopped Capcom from wanting to try and get some more money out of their Demon Slaying combo driven brawler. This week they announced the sexually ambigious protagonist Dante will be coming back in Devil May Cry 4 as well as a release of his Emo alternate universe version in DMC for Xbox One and PS4. (Source Joystiq)
Patched up real good: This week saw Unity’s fourth major patch hit this week clocking in at 7GB for most people (though it has been seen clocking in at a whopping 40 GB sized file for some Xbox One users). This patch is supposed to be the one that fixes the majority of the problems so here’s hoping for Ubisoft’s sake they can now put this dog to bed and focus on their other commitments to fans (like the promised DLC and Chinese themed Assassin’s Creed game). This week we also saw the title go on sale for 30 dollars on Amazon so here’s hoping they were able to get some more sales of the title. (Source Joystiq here, here and here)
There is no education like the Classics: The Teens React series on You Tube has proven so popular it has actually become a TV Show on Nickelodeon (while at the same time they keep abusing the Avatar series proving it there is no logic behind being a network executive). This week saw the release of Teens reacting to Mega Man. Not Mega Man 2 or Mega Man X or one of the weird adventure titles on the Gameboy but the classic old school hard core straight up Mega Man. I remember playing Mega Man at my friend Steve’s house and that game was HARD! I don’t blame these kids for struggling for a second especially given they were raised on types of games that take entirely different twitch responses. This is like dropping a modern military pilot on to the Kitty hawk flyer and not expecting them to struggle. (Source Joystiq)
And this is where it gets ugly: The problem with “collectable” toys for kids is there are always more to collect add to this the fun of “exclusivity” deals and this is where it becomes a misery. Amiibo from Nintendo have started with their own deals with various vendors and the latest (Rosalina) will be only available at Target stores. So, if you can’t say no to your kid, prepare to be running around Hell’s half acre to get all these vendor specific toys. (Source Joystiq)
Decking the Halls: GX3 (the revitalized GaymerX convention) has set a date and a location. GX3 will be bringing its message of inclusive gaming to the San Jose Marriott December 11th to December 13th 2015 in San Jose California (pretty obvious due to the name of the hotel). Guests will include Jennifer Hale (femShep), Zach Weiner (creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cerial), Ellen McLain (GlaDOS), John Patrick Lowrie (Team Fortress2’s Sniper), Rob Jagnow (Extrasolar) and more to be announced. (Source Gamespot)
What a smile: Killer Instinct continues to grow with the inclusion of Riptor who’s had a few upgrades since we last saw her. With the addition of cybernetics this brings the body count of Killer Instinct’s season 2 up to 4 new fighters. (Source Polygon)
Valve maintains a discretionary clause in their TOS for the project that indicates they have the right to turn away any material that they consider offensive. This has to date been primarily sex based games like Japanese H titles, in this case though a game that will allow you to force an unarmed civilian to filatiate a gun while begging for mercy crossed that line. Doug Lombardi Valve’s VP of marketing indicated that it was not the kind of game they would be publishing. This was a fairly civil way of saying “not for us”. Of course the internet went ape shit and then Gaben decided to come in to the office, reverse the word of his VP and undermine his subordinates either due to a lack of backbone or a desire for money which he doubled down on by adding an “apology” to the developer.
I don’t believe the game shouldn’t be published but Valve were within their right to deny publication. They weren’t censoring, they were controlling their brand and the types of titles it’s identified with. There is an argument the satirical nature of Manhunt or Postal is not sufficient to differentiate it from this title, which is a valid point to make but I have to wonder given Valve’s successive failures to produce titles (Half Life 2 Episode 3) and the exodus of talent in addition to major projects where they have failed OEMs (SteamOS and Steam controller) if their flat management style is going to bite them in the ass sooner rather than later especially when the only man anyone seems intent on pleasing is rumoured to not even come in to the office any more. This is a title that even the developers of the engine using it demanded their name be taken off the project and refuse to support, Gabe may want to think about the kind of company he decides to associate himself and his company with because when that company includes people who support a group that goes around beating immigrants that can reflect poorly on oneself and one’s brand. (Source Polygon here and here, Eurogamer, Blues News)
Preach it Nic: Destiny continues to tweak their recently released DLC expansion due to issues with balance and exploits in the Crota end raid. Now they just need to add a party finder and that’ll make it playable for those of us who lack enough friends with next gen consoles. Anyhow I’ll leave it to my friend Nic Cage to sum up Destiny and The Dark Below. (Source Joystiq and Kotaku)
It’s a Blizzard of news: Blizzard’s seeing some success with their recent expansion to WoW but it would appear they are putting some thought in to the future. The MMO model is unsustainable and it is only a matter of time before their subscription numbers drop off again. One thought is the addition of a Subscription Currency model like Eve’s PLEX currency or Wildstar’s C.R.E.D.D. systems. This would allow players to buy time from others using in universe gold. How this would impact the in game economy now over 10 years old is hard to tell.
In other WoW universe news Hearthstone the runaway iOS and PC hit has made its way to Android. So now you can take on your friend who insists on that Android tablet as well as your buddy with a Surface or a home PC. Hearthstone for ALL! (Source Joystiq here and here)
Roll out: Unfortunately not all MMO titles have seen success this year, Transformers Universe (a pretty half assed MMO turned MOBA) is shutting down. The idea was a sound one, make your own Transformers and level them up. Unfortunately it never really came together and as such this web based turkey is turning off the servers on January 31st. For those who have spent money on this game at least they are issuing refunds (which is something a lot of companies in the same situation do not do). (Source Massively)
Sometimes it’s just better to leave well enough alone: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is making a return to the screen with updated visuals and an HD re-master, unfortunately it looks like it is being re-mastered by a blind person. Weird visual hacks, filters being stripped off that make Vampires appear in daylight (and in this universe they don’t sparkle), and reframing that lets you see the film crew have caused the fans to cry out. I mean, yeah, it’s Fox. This company disrespects the works of its creators more than a 3 year old hates Brussel sprouts but this is insane. Even Joss Whedon has spoken out against the re-masters with his tweet “Buffy was shot 4x3 cuz TVs were shaped that way. Widescreen Buffy is nonsense. (Firefly was shot wide - Fox cropped it.)” (Source The Verge)
Tis the season: Valve have launched their Holiday sale so get in there and start buying up all those Wish List items that you’ve been waiting for. You too can enjoy the gamey goodness with the help of a jolly big fat man. (Source Joystiq)
Seasons Greetings from Los Santos: Rockstar have some festive news this week for us, not only have they announced that heist missions will officially be a part of GTA V's online mode in 2015 so you too can have your own Oceans 11 moment but they’ve also added some festive masks, vehicles and snow ball fights to the game just in time for Santa. (Source Joystiq here and here)
Get ready to Evolve: On the heels of their successful Alpha Turtle Rock Studios are launching an Xbox One beta on January 15th and will run through to the 19th. This will include the Monsters Goliath and Kraken as well as the addition of four more hunters to those from their Alpha. In addition the story mode will be tested on the 17th through the 19th and any progress and unlocks made during the beta will carry through to launch. Add to that the announcement of the Wraith, a sneaky monster who has stealth and cloaking abilities, this has been a big week for Evolve! Let’s hear you roar! (Source Evolve website, Joystiq here and here)
What to say about Sony: Well this has been a mess of a week, first the FBI were saying it wasn’t North Korea behind the hack then they were saying it WAS North Korea behind the hack (either way the evidence is way too circumstantial to say for sure). North Korea have since said they did not do it (which is actually the most telling since normally they would be all over claiming responsibility for something like this) and offered to help with the investigation. All the meanwhile internal sources from Sony have been leaked as saying this is nothing to do with North Korea but internal strife due to layoffs.
Meanwhile, people anonymously posted on Pastebin that they were part of GOP and would launch “9/11” style attacks on theatres should they show the film. Sony did the only thing they could and release theatres from their obligation who (fearing lawsuits should something happen) promptly dropped the film. Many independent theatres (including the one owned by George R.R. Martin) offered to show it instead but Sony decided to cancel the release of the film and began purging all evidence of its existence from the internet (one of the demands of the GOP). Then mysteriously a couple days later another anonymous person posted to Pastebin saying they were from the GOP and that the film COULD be released with edits.
On top of this President Obama expressed disappointment in Sony’s capitulation to which Sony’s president Michael Lynton (the other president of Sony not the one who was making racist statements about Obama’s choice in movies she wisely stayed quiet) said they did not “cave”. It’s hard to view refusing to distribute your film and then lying saying no one would play it and no VOD service would run it (including their own VOD service Crackle which Sony own). Sorry Michael, you look up Cave in the dictionary find the entry regarding giving in and it’ll say “see Sony Pictures”. I think Doctor Evil on SNL this past week summed it up best for us. (Source TMZ, Ars Technica here and here, Polygon here, here and here, Engadget here and here and the FBI)
Stream away: Plex may have come to the Xbox One a couple of months ago but now we see a version of it for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4! This will still require a Plex Membership for the foreseeable future but this is at least a bit of an end run around no DLNA support (doesn’t help for music though since the client only supports video and any unsupported codec will need to be transcoded). (Source Polygon)
About time: Spiderwoman is a character with a long history in the Avengers but her costume has remained unchanged since her introduction. That’s about to change though, after 37 years Jessica Drew is getting some new duds. Drawing from the same well as the updated Batgirl outfit this is a far more practical outfit. (Source io9)
Virtual History Repeats Itself: During The Great War in many places along the front spontaneous Christmas truces popped up with troops from either side socializing and wishing one another a Merry Christmas, the historical shooter Verdun has done the same with holiday activities like snowball fights, soccer games and wishing one another happy holidays. In a world where games seem intent on showing new ways to kill one another it’s nice to see a game recreate one of the few moments where the madness of war gave way to a moment of humanity. (Source Kotaku)
SCIENCE: Okay, Science is really starting to catch up with imagination but Johns Hopkins have created a mount for robotic arms that can be directly controlled via the neurological impulses of an amputee! That’s right, cybernetic arms controlled by the brain. This is some pretty wild stuff! (Source Polygon)
Really, we’re going to court over this: Killzone Shadow Fall used some trickery to upscale the multi-player to 1080p so it wasn’t “True” 1080p but close enough most people wouldn’t notice. That’s not good enough for some who decided to launch a class action lawsuit, it also turns out that the court agreed and tossed out all but one of Sony’s objections and denied their request to dismiss the lawsuit. So it has come to this, we now sue over crappy design. (Source Polygon and Joystiq)
If it wasn’t Spacey enough for you: 2015 will see the release of DLC that includes “Exo-Zombies” in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It appears that getting Kevin Spacey wasn’t enough for Activision they are also pulling John Malkovich and Bill Paxton in to the mix. Game over man GAME OVER! (Source Joystiq)
Finally Final Fantasy: This week also saw a bunch of trailers for two Final Fantasy titles. The first being the HD re-release of Final Fantasy Type 0 for the Xbox One and PS4 so if you didn’t get it before you can get it now. As well there were two trailers showing a bit more of the story and gameplay for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV including all the stilted dialogue, bad voice acting and androgyny you could ask for out of protagonists. (Source Joystiq here, here and here)
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