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Articles on this Page
- 05/19/15--02:51: _Infinity Runner rev...
- 05/19/15--11:28: _Destiny's second ex...
- 05/19/15--13:41: _Xbox head says Kine...
- 05/19/15--16:18: _Beach Buggy Racing ...
- 05/20/15--06:28: _Hauppauge Digital T...
- 05/20/15--09:49: _Microsoft will offe...
- 05/20/15--11:41: _First impressions o...
- 05/20/15--12:30: _Windows 10 preview ...
- 05/20/15--13:53: _Battlefield Hardlin...
- 05/21/15--09:25: _Check out some hot ...
- 05/21/15--11:37: _Game of Thrones Epi...
- 05/21/15--11:47: _Xbox app for Window...
- 05/21/15--13:33: _Latest Xbox One pre...
- 05/22/15--01:46: _ID@Xbox Spotlight: ...
- 05/22/15--08:23: _Turtle Beach's newe...
- New Missions - Of course, perhaps the most anticipated thing House of Wolves brings to the table is a slew of new missions. The story has the Queen calling upon Guardians to help hunt down the Fallen who once served her. The Fallen decided to rebel... and the results play out over the course of the story missions included with the new expansion.
- The Shadow Thief - An all-new cooperative strike for three-man fireteams, The Shadow Thief has players hunting for Taniks, a Fallen mercenary living on the moon in House of Wolves' Ketch spaceship. Expect quite a challenge from this one!
- Trials of Osiris - A new multiplayer mode, Trials of Osiris provides players with scorecards. Players complete these by maxing out at either nine wins or three losses, at which point said scorecard can be cashed in for rewards. The multiplayer mode places two teams of three Guardians each against one another; these teams score a point for eliminating the opposing team, and the first team to five points wins.
- Prison of Elders - Prison of Elders is House of Wolves' new Fireteam-focused arena mode, which has players fighting their way through five rounds of enemies that progressively increase in strength. Each round sees three successive waves of enemies and a random boss fight. How long can you hold out?
- Performance-based Rewards - Completing multiplayer sessions will double rewards for Destiny players – and for the first time, players' performance will help in determining what rewards they receive. In other words: You get yours.
- New Arenas, Gear, Weapons, and Armor - House of Wolves adds three new Crucicle maps to Destiny, along with plenty of never-before-seen equipment. The ceiling for Guardians' levels has also been raised to 34, and players will be able to upgrade all of their exotic and legendary armor to match the new level.
- The Queen's Bay - Finally, a new hub area has been added to Destiny's universe. Until now, the only place that the game has offered for purchasing gear and getting bounties has been Earth's Tower – but House of Wolves allows access to The Queen's Bay, located in the Reef (which was seen briefly during the campaign). This zone features new vendors and missions, all relevant to the House of Wolves story and theme.
- 05/19/15--16:18: Beach Buggy Racing will speed onto Xbox One on May 29
- 05/20/15--11:41: First impressions of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox One
- 05/20/15--12:30: Windows 10 preview for Xbox One expected to land 'post-summer'
- Four fast-paced new maps – Backwoods, Code Blue, The Beat and Black Friday
- Two new rides
- Two new ammunition types for specific weapons
- A new gadget
- Three new weapons
- A nailgun battlepickup
- New Bounty Hunter game mode
- Six new masks: two animal masks, and four new police headgear options
- Avatars – You can now download and launch the Avatars app from within the Xbox app. After the app is installed, select Customize > Customize your avatar to launch the Avatars app and edit, dress up, and buy new items for your avatar.
- Friends updates – We're making it easier to add friends, designate them as favorites and share your name from the Xbox app. The friends list will also show you which of your friends are in a party, playing multiplayer games, or broadcasting. You can also report or block people from the Xbox app.
- Game hubs – Similar to Xbox One, you can now view the game hub for an Xbox One game and view the activity feed curated by the game's community manager. Click on any game tile, under Home > Recently played or elsewhere in the Xbox app, and you will be taken to the game hub.
- Game DVR – You can now alter the keyboard shortcuts used for opening the Game Bar, starting and stopping recording, taking screenshots, and more. Also, you can now view and manage your cloud-based game clips from the Xbox app by selecting Game DVR > Shared.
- Testing streaming – The Xbox team needs your help in providing information about your PC's performance and connectivity characteristics as we prepare to enable game streaming from Xbox One to Windows 10 PCs. To do this, connect your Xbox One to your Windows 10 PC using the Xbox app: from the Connect menu, select your Xbox One console then choose Connect. Once connected, click on Test streaming to anonymously send the team diagnostic information about your PC and network settings.
- Turn On/Off your Xbox One Console – The Connect menu in Xbox app has been updated to let you power your Xbox One on and off from your Windows 10 devices when they are on the same home network as your console.
- Xbox One Digital TV Tuner in 11 new European countries – The team will continue to test the Xbox One Digital TV with our preview audience in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland, with plans to make it available to all customers in these countries later this summer. Earlier this week, we announced the retail availability of an over-the-air TV tuner for the U.S. & Canada as well.
- Wireless Display app – We appreciate all the great feedback you've sent us and the team continues to make improvements to the Miracast functionality in the Wireless Display app based on that feedback. Keep it coming!
- 100% Fully Wireless -The Turtle Beach Elite 800X is completely wireless for game and chat audio, and uses intelligent channel-hopping for an interference-free wireless experience.
- DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound & Sound Presets - Experience DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound with incredibly accurate, unmatched spatialization. Additionally, the Elite 800X offers custom DTS Surround Sound modes combined with Turtle Beach genre-specific presets to further immerse fans in their favorite games, movies and music.
- Superhuman Hearing - From the faintest of enemy footsteps to weapon reloads off in the distance, Superhuman Hearing ensures gamers hear it all by amplifying soft sounds when switched on. This exclusive Turtle Beach audio processing gives players the competitive advantage of hearing enemies before they come into view.
- Noise-Cancelling -Eliminate unwanted background distractions with active noise-cancellation when connected to the Xbox One game console and mobile/tablet devices.
- Volume Control, Mic Monitoring & Dynamic Chat Boost - Gamers can set their preferred mix of game and chat audio levels right on the Elite 800X headset. Additionally, Mic Monitoring allows players to hear their own voice in the headset in order to avoid the need to shout, and the Elite 800X's Dynamic Chat Boost feature automatically adjusts chat volume during loud gameplay audio spikes to ensure players never miss a command.
- High Quality Hidden Microphones - The Elite 800X features dual hidden, high-quality noise-cancelling microphones, with environmental presets to ensure players are always heard, regardless of their surroundings.
- Magnetic Charging Stand & Rechargeable Battery - Whether gamers need a break from dominating other players in their favorite multiplayer game, or it's simply time to retire for the evening, just place the Elite 800X into its low profile, magnetic charging stand to store it and keep the headset powered-up without any cables. The Elite 800X features a built-in rechargeable battery that delivers up to 10 hours of functionality.
- Bluetooth Wireless Versatility - Enjoy wireless Bluetooth connectivity with compatible mobile/tablet devices. And gamers never need miss a call or text again, as they can pair the Elite 800X to their mobile phone to listen to music, hear text notifications and take calls while playing.
- Swappable Speaker Plates - Fans can customize their Elite 800X headset to their liking with easily swappable speaker plates that can be changed-out with new designs from www.turtlebeach.com/plates.
- Easy Setup - The Turtle Beach Elite 800X setup is made easy through its magnetic charging stand, which doubles as the wireless transmitter to the headset. Simply connect the charging stand to the Xbox One game console using the provided USB and optical cables, and start playing.
- Companion App - Gamers can download the Ear Force Audio Hub app to wirelessly change presets on the fly using their compatible PC, Mac and Android mobile/tablet device.
Endless runners – the genre originated on mobile, simplifying the controls and design of traditional platforming games to fit touchscreen devices.
We don't see a lot of endless runners on console, although Funk of the Titans turned out pretty well on Xbox One. Now the Xbox One has a second endless runner in Infinity Runner (also available on Windows PC and PlayStation 4) from Wales Interactive.
The aptly-named Infinity Runner is a level-based endless runner in which the player must escape from a gigantic spaceship and the genetically enhanced werewolf within it. Unlike most games in the genre, this one takes place entirely from a first-person perspective. With a somewhat intriguing sci-fi concept and the low low price of just $7, Infinity Runner is a tempting buy. But it's hard to enjoy a game when you can't see it. Read our detailed review with video to learn more!
Infinity Runner's Story mode starts out with our nameless hero, a naked man, awakening from a deep sleep within the spaceship Infinity. A British woman's head appears at the top of the screen and communicates to him via non-lip synced voiceovers, very much like the Guardian Angel in the Borderlands games. Her instructions: run like crazy, because everyone is trying to kill you.
The story unfolds through both British Lady's in-game narration and cinematic sequences that cap each of the game's 14 levels. These sequences betray a very low budget, as they look awful by modern standards. But they do contribute to the game's late 90s/early 2000s atmosphere, which lends a certain appeal. Lady's monologues make for an interesting story, even if it doesn't quite go anywhere by the end.
As the game progresses, it comes apparent that our hero is actually a werewolf. The scientists aboard the Infinity had been experimenting on him and others like him. Their reasons for doing so, and the identity of the female narrator and the super werewolf that chases the protagonist, will become somewhat clear throughout the course of the game. I became intrigued and wanted to know more, but unfortunately the game ends with an abrupt "To be Continued" that denies us a resolution.
Although Infinity Runner is a 3D endless runner, it plays fairly differently than Temple Run and games like it. Chalk that up to the first-person perspective and physical controls. It feels strange to always be running forward in a first-person game, but you'll probably get used to it after a few levels.
Our hero must run through a nearly endless series of corridors and walkways. He'll enter an open area every now and then, but he always beelines through it to the next hallway. Players still need to dodge left and right though, as many obstacles block a portion of the pathway. The left analog stick strafes horizontally.
Intersections can prove deadly to the lunkheaded protagonist, should he fail to turn in time. The right analog stick makes 90-degree turns. These actually killed me more than once. You have to start the turn awfully early; a more open timing window would better suit a game of this style. Also, it can be tough to see which way you're supposed to turn – we'll talk about that in a moment.
The Infinity contains a variety of obstacles that must be slid under or jumped over as well. The Left Trigger slides and the Right Trigger jumps. You can also grab onto ziplines by jumping in the correct spot.
Everyone who works on the Infinity wants to stop our runner, so he'll have to stop them first. Whenever he encounters one or more soldiers, a QuickTime Event (QTE)-style fight begins. These require a series of button presses. They tend to be easy, which is nice because nobody likes QTEs. But the fights become repetitive very early in the game, creating boredom instead of excitement. The game would be better without them.
At specific points throughout the game, our hero picks up an injection that transforms him into a werewolf. This doesn't change the gameplay much, other than causing him to automatically pick up collectibles and defeat opponents. He does get to break through a few walls and run through vertical shafts, mixing up the gameplay slightly.
Dark and difficult
Infinity Runner would be a mildly boring but inoffensive way to pass the time, if not for a couple of major design mistakes. First off, the game is obnoxiously dark. Oftentimes, you can barely see anything. The game even has several sections in which the lights go out completely!
The darkness seems to be a deliberate attempt to disguise the low-fidelity graphics. That would be fine in certain types of games such as horror, but it doesn't suit the twitch-based gameplay of an endless runner one bit. I can't count how many times I ran into a wall at an intersection because I COULDN'T SEE either the wall or which direction led to safety.
Easy Mode alleviates the issue somewhat by adding bright blinking arrows to the intersections. That does make the game more enjoyable and less punishing. But those arrows should appear on all difficulties. Not being able to see should not be a part of the game on Normal or Hard.
The final boss battle also proves frustrating at present. The protagonist has to duke it out with his super werewolf nemesis in a series of three QTEs. The third QTE requires players to alternatingly tap Left Bumper and Right Bumper like 50 times within a matter of seconds.
As designed, the QTE simply doesn't provide enough time to perform that action and you're guaranteed to die. The workaround is to start hitting the bumpers as soon as the second QTE ends, even before the third QTE prompt appears. The game doesn't tell us to do that though, so I nearly gave up before a friend told me what to do.
The Steam version of the game got patched just a few days ago, removing the third QTE entirely. Wales Interactive tells us that the Xbox One should receive the same patch within the next week or two, thankfully.
Arcade mode and Challenges
For a more traditional endless running experience, players can ditch the story and play as long as they want in Arcade mode. You get to select from the seven unique environments and even disable fights if you like. One big difference in Arcade mode is that players can store the werewolf transformation serum and activate it at will.
Endless runners often have missions that reward players for completing specific actions during their runs. Infinity Runner presents these as challenges. Complete three challenges to increase your overall Wolf level. Some of the challenges are standard stuff like running a certain distance or winning 100 fights. But they eventually require you to get all of the collectibles and beat the game without dying on each difficulty, all for no other reward than Achievements.
Infinity Runner offers 55 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. If you just want to increase your Achievement count without worrying about actual completion, the game is a great buy. You'll earn them constantly throughout Story mode.
Some of those easy Achievements involve pointless tasks like disabling subtitles and turning off the game's sound. I know the developer thought they were being nice by throwing in some gimmes, but fiddling with random options should not award Achievements. Use them to highlight specific things you WANT players to do, not turn off the freaking sound!
Most players will get around 40 Achievements and 600 Gamerscore from playing Story on Easy and dabbling with Arcade mode. The harder Achievements involve playing on Hard and completing all of the Challenges. You should only play this game on Hard if you don't like yourself.
As for the Challenges, remember, that involves beating each of the three difficulties without dying. You don't have to beat the whole game in a row this way, just clear each level individually with no deaths. The upcoming patch will add the ability to track which levels have been cleared without dying, which is cool. But still, Normal and Hard mode are such a pain that I wouldn't bother with it.
I really wanted to like Infinity Runner. The game has several cool things going for it, like the werewolves in space theme, the hard sci-fi atmosphere, and a thumping electronic soundtrack.
Problem is, Infinity Runner alternates between being frustrating and boring. We covered the horrible darkness already. And many of the game's obstacles give players no time to react, forcing you to memorize the segment or level in order to survive. You will die a lot, especially on Normal or Hard difficulty. Dying often involves repeating a bunch of unskippable story and fight segments.
I played through most of Infinity Runner on Normal before switching down to Easy, which did improve my experience. But I could never shake the feeling that Infinity Runner should've been an old-school first-person shooter or action game instead of an endless runner. The oppressive darkness could actually work in an FPS game's favor, building tension instead of hindering gameplay. And an FPS with early PlayStation 2-era visuals like Infinity Runner's would still achieve the retro appeal that the developers seem to have been going for. Now that's a game I'd enjoy playing.
Destiny fans have been waiting patiently for the game's second expansion pack, House of Wolves, to be released. Today, they got their wish as it is now available to download for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles.
House of Wolves costs $19.99 on its own or players can get it with the Destiny Season Pass for $34.99 that includes access to the first expansion pack, The Dark Below, that launched in December. Here's what Destiny players can expect when they download House of Wolves:
In addition, the multiplayer maps included in the first expansion pack, The Dark Below, are now free to access for every Destiny player. Plans have already been announced to offer "a major content update" for the game that will be released this fall but details about what will be contained have yet to be revealed.
Microsoft made the decision over a year ago to begin selling the Xbox One without the Kinect motion sensor, making it an optional accessory instead of a requirement for the console. In a new interview, Microsoft's Xbox leader Phil Spencer says that the company will continue to develop applications for the Xbox One that will work with the Kinect device.
In a chat with GamesRadar, Spencer says:
"The teams continue to look at ways that Kinect makes the entertainment experience better. I'd say the area that hasn't really landed – and I don't know if it will – is, 'Is Kinect integral to all of the core gaming scenarios on our console in terms of minute-to-minute gameplay?' There are genres where Kinect works really well, but if you're playing Halo or Call Of Duty, there's not really a scenario that says, 'Hey, I need a Kinect.' There is a lot of excitement, and there are still announcements to come about what people are doing with it. But [Kinect's] place will be earned through the experiences that are out there and the developers that show interest."
Spencer also spoke in general terms about their Windows 10 plans for gaming, admitting that their previous Games for Windows Live service was not a success. He stated:
"But GFWL, I don't want to dodge it, I'm not going to say it's not something we had before. But the Xbox team is fully committed to expanding what we're doing across all of the Windows 10 devices, and we're getting the response – at least from the developer community – that [it] means something."
In addition, Spencer commented on Microsoft HoloLens, saying that the company has not yet announced it as an Xbox accessory and that the plan at the moment is for it to work as a standalone device. As far as virtual reality headsets, Spencer seemed open to the idea for the Xbox One, saying:
"I look at VR as an interesting space. It's certainly different to the mixed reality we do with HoloLens, but there's nothing that precludes us from doing something in the VR space."
If you're a fan of pulling off some sandy burnouts in Beach Buggy Racing on your Windows Phone, but craving a console experience, you'll be happy to know that the game is coming to the Xbox One on May 29.
Beach Buggy Racing for Xbox One is set to bring all of the fun from its Windows Phone counterpart, along with some added features. In addition to the familiar power-ups, and car customization, players will also be able to take advantage of 6-player split-screen racing and an additional 1000 HP series in career mode.
As far as price is concerned, the game will run $9.99 when it hits consoles on May 29. To justify that cost, the game's developer, Vector Unit, notes that it has done away with the in-app purchases, timers, and ads present in the Windows Phone version, and retuned the game's economy to make earning upgrades and unlocking content faster.
Are you excited to pick up Beach Buggy Racing for Xbox One? Let us know in the comments, and happy racing!
Source: Vector Unit
As promised a few weeks ago, Microsoft has teamed up with Hauppauge to launch a new dedicated over-the-air TV tuner for the Xbox One console. The Hauppauge Digital TV Tuner for Xbox One is now on sale in the US and Canada for $59.99.
In addition, the Microsoft Store website, along with the company's physical retail stores in North America, are selling the Xbox One TV tuner with the Mohu Leaf 50 digital TV antenna for $99.99, which is a $30 savings compared to the cost of the two products separately. Microsoft says:
"With the Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One and an HDTV antenna, Xbox One owners can look forward to a variety of useful features, such as the ability to pause up to 30 minutes of live TV, watch TV on the right side of your screen while playing games with Snap, and navigate channels using Kinect voice controls. Additionally, users can stream over-the-air TV to other devices within the home using the Xbox app on Windows 10 devices or the Xbox One SmartGlass app on Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android, even while someone else is playing a game on Xbox One. Users can even change channels remotely using OneGuide without disrupting gameplay on the TV. Over-the-air TV integrates with OneGuide, storing all of your favorite content in one place."
Source: Xbox Wire
If you have been waiting to get your hands on a white edition of Microsoft's Xbox One, you have another chance. The company will start selling a limited number of Xbox One units in the US in a cirrus white color later in May. It comes bundled with a digital code to download a free copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the price of $349.
Microsoft previously launched a white edition of the Xbox One bundled with Sunset Overdrive, but that version is now hard to find, and is not cheap to buy. This new bundle, with both the console and the included controller with the white color, should be easier to purchase once it becomes available.
There are rumors that Microsoft may launch another Xbox One SKU later this year with a 1TB hard drive. The company previously launched such a version that was bundled with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Source: Xbox Wire
Well, it's finally here. I've hyped myself into some frenzy over this game, and if you follow me on Twitter you're probably sick of all my Witchery tweets (sorry about that).
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt culminates Geralt's story, but it also hopes to dethrone the likes of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Dragon Age Inquisition from the RPG throne.
I've played for around 2 hours so far. Our full review is in the works, but I wanted to offer some early impressions for those who might be curious and to kick-start discussions for those who have already picked up the game.
Minor plot spoilers for the first hour or so follow.
A living world brimming with death
For those unfamiliar with the series, to describe The Witcher as dark is probably an understatement. Dragon Age has its fair share of grimness but tends to place the emphasis on the fantasy of its highly magical world. The Witcher draws inspiration from an eponymous series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski, which in turn draws inspiration from historical accounts of medieval Europe. The Witcher offers a glimpse at why they named them The Dark Ages, albeit with a side helping of monsters and magic. Humanity's darkest aspects are laid bare in detail throughout the series, and even the first two hours of The Witcher 3 are brimming with violence.
The game starts innocently enough (nudity aside), but it smothers you with a foreshadowing reminder that Geralt's life is nothing but peril. Geralt dreams of The Wild Hunt, a mysterious group of wraiths who appear during wars and plagues, reaping the souls of the dead to add to their number. The Wild Hunt's ultimate motivations are unclear and are the subject of many rumours and legends. They've been an important plot point in both previous games and have hunted Geralt and those close to him for some time.
When Geralt wakes from his nightmare, he's back on the trail of Yennefer, both a sorceress and a former lover who was indirectly mentioned in both The Witcher 1 and 2. After a brief conversation, you're accosted by ghouls and thus begins your open world training. The prologue serves as a tutorial, which eases players into the world of The Witcher a lot more considerately than The Witcher 2 did.
After learning how to swing a sword, you hop on your horse, and it is then that the scale of the game hits home.
Mists are settling in the valley; sunlight is filtering through the trees, casting long dynamic shadows that hit every surface, every blade of grass, every chain link in Geralt's armour. The traversable terrain as far as the eye can see (and see far you will - the draw distance is insane). A vast ecosystem of wildlife interacting with each other with behavior design not seen since Red Dead Redemption. Just standing at the top of a small hill and surveying the expanse from your immediate vicinity serves as a strikingly telling labor of love. You will simply know that this game is special.
However, The Witcher 3 is let down early on by transitions from in-engine graphics to pre-rendered video cut-scenes, which cause the game to freak out. During a fight scene, I sliced someone's head off, only to see it spin hovering in the air for a few seconds while the game loaded a cut-scene. The cut-scenes themselves are choppy, which reminds me of jitter you sometimes get on Netflix when the connection isn't strong enough to stream in HD, but it still tries to anyway. The video encoding was apparently broken in the day one patch, so hopefully it's something CD Projekt RED can fix before I finish my replay of The Witcher 2.
Despite those problems, during open world play The Witcher 3 visuals are jaw-dropping on Xbox One, retaining many of the higher-end visual features you'd expect of an SLI PC gaming rig. I haven't seen a single instance of texture popping or loading in the open world, and the dynamic scaling between 900p and 1080p is completely unnoticeable. Even when swarmed by ten wolves during extreme winds in a forest, throwing rapid dynamic shadows all over the place, the frame rate was buttery smooth.
A living world that wants to kill you, horribly
The Witcher is a tale about a monster hunter, and all three games have placed an emphasis on the behavior of its creatures. Dynamic day/night cycles will change what types of monsters appear, and may even alter their combat patterns. Geralt is super-human, but he's not Superman - he's plastered with scars and old injuries. I feel as though CD Projekt RED have approached combat design to hallmark this vulnerability.
On normal difficulty, the combat mechanics sit somewhere between Assassin's Creed and Dark Souls. Your weapon connects on a physical basis rather than a targeted basis, making positioning more important than any AC game. In another lean towards Dark Souls, you're punished severely for failing to parry each and every monster's unique attack patterns - and there are limits to how often you can parry as well. However, Geralt is a lot agiler than your typical Dark Souls knight. He's able to roll and dodge with impunity and dive across large areas to land hits on creatures that surround him, which is more similar to Assassin's Creed or Batman: Arkham Asylum.
I find the combat system puts a lot of people off (myself included in The Witcher 2), but it's partially because they don't do a great job of explaining how to get stuck in. Pressing a directional button towards an enemy and pressing quick attack will very briefly stun most creatures if they're not already half way through an attack animation. Doing so in quick succession means you can dodge, attack and briefly stun at the same time when surrounded, making those swarms of drowners more easy to deal with.
You can prepare for battles using weapon oils and temporary potions which buff Geralt's damage and defense, and these items aren't just for those more treacherous battles. Particularly on the higher difficulties, you will be using oils and potions frequently - and that's by design. Witchers are essentially warrior alchemists after all.
Killing enemies with critical strikes not only reward you with, well, not dying, but insane execution animations and dynamic gore which adds further impact to Geralt's weapon swings. Heads will roll, as well as arms, torsos, intestines, you name it. When you understand that The Witcher 3 isn't your typical third person action game, it is incredibly rewarding.
A living world full of consequence and amazing little details
The Witcher 3 marketing campaign has placed a lot of emphasis on the fact it is a living breathing world. The vendor economy is inter-connected, NPCs banter with each other and animals well, eat each other, but what struck me in the first small village was the interconnectedness of seemingly unconnected side-quests.
Dragon Age Inquisition enjoyed a huge world, but Bioware failed to attach a lot of meaning to its expanses. Grinding quests that are essentially kill ten magic bears over and over becomes a chore, and the way they're presented in a totally random fashion plays like a checklist of content as opposed to role-playing. I blame World of Warcraft for popularizing these design mistakes but if what I've seen so far remains true, hopefully The Witcher 3 will bury them.
One of the early side quests asks you to chase away a ghost that is haunting a local well, as the piles of corpses from the war has made the river water undrinkable. I was expecting a simple case of go here, kill this, return prize, get ph4t l00t. The seemingly small side quest ended up going from engaging to amazing in a few simple steps and has me excited for what larger quest hubs will bring.
It turned out that a noonwraith is haunting the well, a ghost bound to a location due to a strong emotional connection. After being smashed by the ghost, the tutorial advises that you take a more analytical approach. Using your Witcher senses (similar to Arkham Asylum's detective mode), you can glean clues from the environment that would otherwise be hard to spot. I discovered that the wraith was likely the wife of a murdered man, thanks to a trail of blood, a dude's skeleton and a worn out journal. The woman had expected to meet with the local Lord to repair ties with her village following an altercation. She noted that there were rumors that he had become more amenable after the death of his son. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have worked out, as not long after you find her dismembered corpse hung in the well.
After researching noonwraiths further, you find that you'll have to recover a lost possession of theirs, and then burn it with the corpse to free their spirit from this world. After a swim in the well, you find the severed arm and a bracelet, and you're able to put finally the ghost to rest.
The investigation aspect alone gave the kill quest the flavor and context it needed to retain immersion, but what followed later excited me for the future of WRPG side-questing, providing other developers take note.
During the main story, you're tasked to kill a griffin in exchange for information on the whereabouts of Yennefer. It's similar to the noonwraith quest but on a grander scale. You're sent to track its behavior, taking you to meet a local hunter. While you're with him on the trail, the hunter notes that the village drove him away. If you press him to explain why, he mentions that he fell in love with the Lord's son and that they were caught in a barn. The village folk branded him a 'freak', and the hunter's lover hung himself from shame. This snippet of information has no bearing on the quest itself. But it connects itself to the noonwraith side quest - which had referenced that the Lord had become more receptive since his son died (only he hadn't, he'd just become a bit more murdery).
Why is this important? It's important because it creates the impression of a living, connected world. When other RPGs do this, it's typically part of a collection of main plot points or very direct references that are consequential to the story. The Witcher 3's smaller side quests thus far may not be entirely dependent on each other or consequential, but they've all contained references to the narrative of life in that particular area - which doesn't feature as a quest in of itself.
The inn-keeper who offers information on the Griffin notes that the beast attacked one of the villagers. Later on, you'll find her in the healer's house on her death-bed as part of another quest. You'll hear NPCs gossiping randomly about the innkeeper being in league with the invading Nilfgaardians, and see her mobbed later as a result.
CD Projekt RED seem to have given a lot of thought about how quests, no matter how small, can interact with each other. Also how quest contributes to each other's narrative, regardless of how directly consequential they might be.
It may seem like a small point to write about, but for me it breathes new dimensions into a genre that was in danger of heading down the Hemmet Nessingwary Kill 30 Space Boars route of side-questing. So far, it seems that CD Projekt RED have side-stepped this and have instead been able to realize a world that feels truly inhabited. They've spent extra time to give minor NPCs a chance to have their story too, and the game feels amazing for it.
Geralt remarks to the local healer that it all seems like a lot of misfortune for such a small town. She replies that even the smallest villages have a story to tell. I can't even begin to describe my excitement to go and discover those stories.
A living world that begs to be explored
If you're a fan of RPGs you've probably purchased The Witcher 3 already, but if you're a fan on the fence I cannot implore you enough to check it out. Besides what I've noted above the game features rich and complex crafting systems, a detailed character upgrade system and hundreds of settlements, caves and crypts in what seems like the richest open world setting in history. If the first two hours are any indication, the unprecedented NPC interactivity will probably change the industry, like Skyrim, and Red Dead Redemption did before it.
But I'm mindful that all this is just the first two hours of the game. If you're still skeptical, stay tuned for Paul Acevedo's full review to see if these early impressions pan out when the hype dies down. The early signs are promising.
We already have the Windows 10 preview in full swing on PCs and phones, but many are wondering when the Xbox One might be treated to the same. According to Xbox chief Phil Spencer, the answer is "post-summer." Spencer gave the timeframe in response to an inquiry on Twitter. While it's still a bit vague, we at least know that we're still several months away from a Windows 10 preview build landing for Xbox One owners.
In any event, it's looking like we won't see the Windows 10 preview hit Xbox One consoles until sometime this fall. If you're still craving more specifics, there's always a chance we could hear more about Microsoft's plans for Windows 10 on the Xbox One at the upcoming E3 conference, which kicks off on June 16 and runs through June 18.
Electronic Arts launched their latest game in the Battlefield shooter series, the "cops vs criminals" title Battlefield Hardline, in March. Now that the game has been out for a couple of months, it's time to look forward to its first DLC pack, Criminal Activity, which will be out in early June.
EA revealed some bullet points about what will be contained in Criminal Activity, but specific details have yet to be announced:
As you can see in the screenshot above, the two animal masks will be a rabbit and a gorilla. Make of that what you will. Pricing for Criminal Activity has not been announced but players who sign up for the Battlefield Hardline Premium subscription will get all four DLC packs for $49.99.
We have been waiting patiently for the next Need For Speed game, and today publisher Electronic Arts showed a brief teaser trailer for the upcoming Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC arcade racing game. It shows some nighttime street racing with some impressive visual that EA says was captured in the game itself.
The trailer shows cars driving around downtown Los Angeles with the cop hot on their heels. This would seem to suggest that the next Need For Speed entry will be similar to the popular Need for Speed Underground title that came out several years ago. EA will release the full gameplay trailer, and hopefully the game's full title, on June 15, which is also when the publisher will hold its E3 2015 press event in Los Angeles.
This will be the first Need For Speed game that will be made just for current generation consoles, and it's using the Frostbite engine that has been used by the recent Battlefront first person shooter games. The last game in the series, Need For Speed Rivals, was released for current and last gen consoles like the Xbox 360 in 2013.
Source: EA (YouTube)
What are the Forresters getting themselves up to in this episode? Telltale provided the following summary of the action:
In Episode 4, the fate of the scattered Forresters hangs in the balance, and no one allied with the family is safe. An unexpected meeting offers Rodrik a new opportunity to free Ironrath from its Whitehill stranglehold, but with young Ryon Forrester still held prisoner, his next moves are critical. Gared must abandon Castle Black and venture beyond the Wall in search of the mysterious North Grove, risking encounters with Wildlings and worse. In King's Landing, the population is reeling from a recent royal death, and Mira must step carefully in an increasingly complex game of politics where secrets are traded as currency. Far away in Essos, Asher infiltrates the slave city of Meereen at the behest of Daenerys Targaryen, but will the friendship he holds dear break under the strain of a mission that raises memories best forgotten?
Along with the release date announcement, Telltale also released a trailer for "Sons of Winter" that should stoke your excitement if you're an avid fan of the series. If you want to catch up on the series, you can snag each episode for $4.99 a piece on Xbox, or $24.99 for the whole shebang. On PC, you'll have to shell out $29.99 to pick up each episode as it is released.
Source: Telltale Games
Microsoft is now rolling out a new update to the Xbox app for Windows 10 Insider Preview PC users. It includes a test that will help Microsoft with their development of streaming games from an Xbox One console to a local PC.
Here are the change notes for the update:
Source: Xbox Wire
Along with today's update for the Xbox app in Windows 10, Microsoft is rolling out a small update for members of the Xbox One preview program. This looks to be a relatively small update with two main features, one of which is added support for its Xbox One digital TV tuner.
Here's the latest change log, again just for members of the preview program:
Microsoft will likely add these new features to all Xbox One consoles sometime in June.
Source: Xbox Wire
We're casting our ID@Xbox spotlight into outer space this week, joining Asteroid Base for a look at their co-op space extravaganza 'Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime', coming soon to Xbox One.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is all about guiding a huge ship through vibrant two-dimensional worlds infested with dangerous space monsters. If the swarms of neon nasties weren't enough for you, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime forces players to choose which ship controls to utilize one at a time. You and your co-op (or AI) partner will have to switch diligently between manning engines, guns, shields, and other upgradable gizmos in order to survive.
I caught up with indie video game outfit Asteroid Base to discuss Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, their inspirations, space battles, boss fights, working with ID@Xbox and much more!
JC: For the uninitiated, how would you guys summarise Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime?
AB: Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a co-op game about frantically flying a giant spaceship and shooting your way through the galaxy with your partner as you attempt to free your cosmic animal friends from the horrible forces of anti-love. As a player you only have control of your own character so the only way you can interact with anything outside of the ship is by platforming and running between the stations. It's a game about being overwhelmed, overstimulated and overworked, but at least you're doing it together
JC: Can you tell us a bit about how you guys got started? and what led to the game's creation?
AB: It's quite a simple story really, of boy meets boy meets boy. We've known each other for well over a decade now. In high school Adam and Matt were in a band together, then Adam got kicked out of the band and moved away to go to university. Matt and I met in college where we studied illustration and made zines. I became a graphic designer and moved to western Canada and learned how to snowboard. Matt became an animator and then took off to Europe and lived in a little flat in London. Adam got his Masters Degree in particle physics but then realized he didn't want to work in academia. Somehow we all ended up back in Toronto around 2010 when the local indie game community really started to flourish. We participated in some game jams together, learned programming, and the first prototype for Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime came out of the Toronto Global Game Jam in January of 2012.
JC: What sorts of games (movies? tv shows?) helped inspire Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime? I'm presuming classics like Asteroids and Space Invaders may have had a hand in there somewhere.
AB: Surprisingly enough, we didn't really look to those games when we started Lovers, although we did add actual asteroids to the game later in development as an homage. We went into the Toronto Global Game Jam with the idea that we were going to do a co-op game that had some asymmetrical gameplay to it. Two of our main inspirations were games made by some local devs that we played at various events around Toronto: Cephalopods Co-op Cottage Defence created by Spooky Squid Games and A Friendship in Four Colours, by Damian Sommer. The main inspiration for the game's high concept came from Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator. We liked the idea that each player had a role to fill in the micro-game that would in turn contribute to the macro-game. Finally we thought of that scene in Star Wars where Luke and Han run to the turrets and shoot at the TIE Fighters and yell at each other. We really wanted to capture that moment as the core experience of the game.
JC: From the gameplay trailer we can see ships with different weapons, defences and other features, could you take us through Lovers' ships? Are there pre-defined types of ships or are they customisable to a degree?
AB: For the ships themselves, we will have a few main "chassis" layouts that play a bit differently, as each one beyond the default ship has an extra gameplay element that changes the power dynamic between the players. For example we have a ship that completely rotates around based on where the engine is. So in a co-op game it gives the person piloting the ship immense power over their partner as they can dictate where each station is positioned.
On top of that, we have an upgrade system that involves finding three gem types: Power, Beam and Metal. You use them to upgrade each of the four station types: Turrets, Engine, Shield, and Super Weapon. For example, if you put a Metal gem into one of the turret stations you get this wicked flail that you can use to whale on a bunch of enemies in one strike. Then later on in the game you can unlock the ability to combine gems to create some fun weapons/defences, like a Metal flail that shoots Beam lasers as you swing it around. Each of the four station types has ten unique configurations, and every one has their own set of strengths and weaknesses depending what the current situation calls for.
JC: In co-op gameplay you have to work together to pilot the ship, manning different stations etc. but how will it work for losers who have no friends? (Not asking for me... not at all).
AB: In Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime you're never forced to fly solo, so if you currently find yourself forever alone, you can play through Lovers with a loyal space-pet--they're kind of like your Chewbacca. You can initially choose between a cat and a dog, and you communicate with them by issuing orders with a radial menu for which station you want them to go to. Then when they sit down at that station their AI takes over and they shoot or shield anything they need to. They can do everything that a normal partner could do, besides pilot the ship, because why would anyone in their right mind ever let a dog pilot a ship?
JC: I noted that each level enjoys its own theme, how many levels are you guys targeting in total for the game's release?
AB: There will be a total of four campaigns for the game's release, each themed around a different environment, and within each campaign the sub-levels all have variations too. We were really inspired by Left 4 Dead's format where each campaign is self contained and can be played in one sitting, but every time you play through it's different. So in Lovers, each campaign is themed on a constellation and is comprised of a number of procedurally generated levels that you will play through before battling that constellation in a final boss fight.
JC: Will each level have a boss fight?
AB: Yes, each campaign has a boss fight at the end, and to be successful it requires absolute teamwork from the players. We also tried to mix up the strategies, so the way you and your partner would normally play through a level might not work so well against the boss. The first boss you will encounter is Ursa Major, she is very hard hitting and can also be tricky as you wear her down. You need to be defensive. There are times when Adam and I can work together with such aplomb that we can beat her without even taking any damage, and then there are other times when we get smacked around like a little pink ball of yarn.
JC: Could you comment on working with ID@Xbox? Any cool stories there?
AB: It has been really great working with Chris Charla and the entire ID@Xbox team. They've been super helpful to us throughout this entire process and it really can't be understated, the amount of work it must take on their part for a tiny inexperienced three-person company to be able to interface with a corporation the size of Microsoft. Because of them we've been able to show the game to thousands of people at various shows around the world like E3, Gamescom, and the San Diego Comicon. We even saw a picture a Lovers kiosk right next to MightyNumber 9 at the Tokyo Games Show, and we were like "... Yup", because it's like your whole life up to this point is coming full circle.
JC: When can gamers expect to get their hands on Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime?
AB: We are wrapping up development now and we hope to have it ready for release by the end of the summer.
JC: And finally, how did you guys come up with the name? It's pretty rad.
AB: In Canada, there was a song from the 80s by Bruce Cockburn about young love, called Lovers in a Dangerous Time. Late at night while working on the game Adam was riffing on it singing "Cosmic Lovers in a Dangerous Time" but then I changed it to "Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime" since it had a better flow. Matt initially hated it because it was too wordy and didn't say anything about the game, but his suggestions were, uh, less than apt: Nav Run, Void Bros, Rocketpod -- luckily we outvoted him two to one. After that, the title Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime started to inform the kind of art and design decisions we made within the game, and in the end it was able to speak more about the game than anything else we could have thought up.
A huge thanks to Asteroid Base for saying hi!
If you're like me and you're desperately trying to get your significant other into gaming, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime could be a godsend. Either that or you'll end up hating each other for failing to pilot the ship to vaguely acceptable level, but hey, at least you'll be gaming.
Keep your eyes tuned to Windows Central for all the latest innovations coming out of ID@Xbox, and be sure to connect with Asteroid Base on Twitter and YouTube to get all the latest Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime updates.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime launches for PC and Mac (Steam) and Xbox One later this year.
If you want to get a headset for the Xbox One that has all the bells and whistles, the Turtle Beach Elite 800X might be for you. The company announced today that the high-end wireless headphone is now on sale for the premium price of $299.95.
Just in case you think that paying close to $300 is a bit much for some headphones, Turtle Beach is throwing in some extras with each Elite 800X purchase, including a free t-shirt, two more sets of speaker plates and a two year warrenty.
Source: Turtle Beach