The next title from Frictional Games (Amnesia) has a release date and a shiny new trailer. Ok, maybe 'shiny' isn't the best word, but 'dark & frightening' trailer lacks eloquence. In any case, you'll be scaring yourself to sleep starting September 22 on the PC and PS4. You have been warned.
We're been talking for the Oculus Rift for quite a while, but sometimes I forget it has yet to receive a full public release. You can buy dev kits from the company, but they're not the same as the consumer models which will ship next year. Yet I assumed that the $350 Oculus was charging for the dev kits would be roughly in line with the cost of the consumer unit. And it seems I was... mostly right. Although a lot of other headlines would have you believe differently.
Speaking at Re/Code's Code Conference, CEO Brendan Iribe said that it will cost you ďin the $1,500 rangeĒ for both the unit and a PC to run it. But the Rift needs a beefy machine to operate - you can see the specs here - the parts for which are estimated to run $1,200 at the low end. Accounting for inevitable downward drift of component costs by next year, that likely puts the cost of the Rift hardware right around the $300 mark.
So why come out and say the Rift would cost $1,500? Normally this would be the result of a clueless executive who is out of touch with consumer reality. But I don't think that's the case this time. The hardcore enthusiast PC user will likely already have such a powerful machine, and they'll surely make up a lot of the early audience. But Facebook didn't drop $2 billion on a company which only caters to people with Moore's Law tattooed on their chests. They want this to be something regular consumers buy, and prepping them now for the real cost is a smart move, and will likely cut off some of the "I paid $300-$400 for a device I can't even use on my computer" stories which would result if he did otherwise.
The consumer version of the Oculus Rift will be in stores early next year.
A busy day prevented me from posting this yesterday, but you should know that Magicka 2 is now available on the PC and PS4. The first Magicka was one of my favorite multiplayer games, with an inventive take on magick-ing and a healthy dose of real humor. It's a great party game, even if your party is distributed across the globe. Early reports have the sequel being just as good, and you can grab it now for the reasonable price of $14.99.
Weíre not completely optimized at the following link.
Witcher 3 was released and at the time of this showís recording (Saturday), I couldnít really tell you much about it. It doesnít work for me. Well, it didnít work for me for a good part of the week but testing it as of this writing (Monday), itís working fine. And thatís good, but Iím far too distracted now with a much smaller (and cheaper) game.
Seriously, I know Witcher 3 is the big beautiful game right now, but if you love exploration and the Metroid-vania style of gameplay (heavy emphasis on Metroid) then do yourself a favor and play Axiom Verge. I talked about this game last week, this past week and Iíll be talking about it again this coming week. It is a fantastic game and no matter how much time I put into it whenever I sit down to play it, I always discover something new. A new power up, a new hidden item or area. Something new is always found no matter if I play for an hour or just 5 minutes.
Which is more than I can say for Witcher 3 at the moment.
We're less than a month away from E3, and consequently we're in a bit of a news desert. But now the teases are starting. Today's tease is from 2K, with the tag Advent, and a link to the Advent Future website. So we're getting a sci-fi future, with a healthy dose of conspiracy theory thrown in. This doesn't immediately seem to connect with any of 2K's other properties. XCOM is more aliens than biotech conspiracies. Could this actually be the long in development Agent? Or is this an all new property? I presume we'll learn more at E3 next month.
Blizzard has released a quartet of videos showing off full matches from their upcoming FPS, Overwatch. This will be the company's first new property since they launched Starcraft in 1998, so it's immediately a big deal. Overwatch will be a free-to-play shooter that's a cross between Team Fortress and a MOBA, with colorful visuals, fast gameplay, and a large roster of heroes. In the embedded video you see a full match from the perspective of Mercy, a healer with angel wings. Hit the link below to see more characters, each on a different stage.
Blizzard is already swimming in money from Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo, but the recent launches of Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm has shown the company capable of a nimbleness not seen in recent years. Overwatch is a part of that change, taking much of it's setting from the canceled MMO Titan, but becoming it's own game in relatively short order (at least compared to the time scales Blizzard used to operate on).
I could snark that EA will shockingly be releasing a new Need For Speed this fall, but there actually is a little surprise here. 2014 was the first time since 2002 that a new NFS wasn't on store shelves, as even EA seemed to realize the franchise needed a re-think.
Unfortunately, based on the press release, that realization didn't penetrate. The press release is a plethora of vague marketing-speak that doesn't indicate anything new, even though they use the word "reboot" multiple times. "[D]eep customisation", "authentic urban car culture," "open world" and an "immersive narrative." All of these could be said to describe every Need for Speed of the last decade. That's not a reboot, it's an annual sequel which skipped a year.
NFS is in an odd place. It's a very well known brand, but one which lacks a distinct identity. EA tries to place it on the spectrum somewhere between 'hardcore racing sim' and 'lets do fun, crazy crap', but never quite finding the sweet spot. They can make iterative improvements to the game all day long, but until they find something to make it stand out from the crowd, it's not going to be burning up the NPD charts.
Rockstar Games and their parent Take-Two Interactive are suing the BBC over their docudrama chronicling the rise of the series and their conflict with censorious lawyer Jack Thompson.
The currently in-production drama is titled Game Changer, and was set to air this fall as part of a greater BBC initiative of "programmes focused on the importance of coding." Rockstar founder Sam Houser will be played by Daniel Radcliffe, while Jack Thompson will be portrayed by Bill Paxton.
The development of the GTA franchise - one of the most valuable properties in the industry - is really quite fascinating, and Game Changer sounds like an interesting project. Rockstar's statement to IGN indicates that they're simply not cooperating with the production, and suing to stop the use of their IP in the production.
Developer Techland has put their fantasy-horror FPS Hellraid on the shelf for retooling. I will not repeat the awful pun I used in the headline.
Techland has been around since 2000, mostly cranking out forgettable racers, but they struck gold with 2011's Dead Island. Soon afterwards they announced Project Hell - which would become Hellraid - as basically Dead Island with skeletons and castles instead of zombies and a tropical resort. But somewhere along the way they were convinced to go back to zombie-land, and developed Dying Light for publisher Warner Bros (the Dead Island IP is owned by original publisher Deep Silver). I, frankly, had forgotten all about Hellraid in recent years, and the success of Dying Light seems to have shown Techalnd where their future lies. They can shift the bulk of their staff to working on new Dying Light content, be it DLC or a sequel, while continuing to try and come up with a workable gameplan for Hellraid.
Weíre not at all doing anything illegal at the following link.
It might be because of the games coming out or just me doing research as of late, but it really feels like PC upgrading is in the air for us. James just upgraded to a 970 while Matt and myself have been looking into doing upgrades on our machine. Well, Iím just looking at graphics cards while Matt seems to be building a dream machine. Since the show ended heís scaled back a bit on his build, but has assured us heíll keep us informed on the progress of what heís going to go with.
One of those games coming out that has given some of us this upgrade bug is Witcher 3 and almost a month later both Batman Arkham Knight and the expansion for FF14. But when we look beyond that, we donít see much else on the horizon. I think we normally have some idea of some holiday releases and we do in the sense of the tried and true fall schedule (CoD, AC, etc), but nothing that stands out. We hope E3 might change things but we arenít too confident thatíll happen. Hereís hoping however.
A lot of people seemed a bit disappointed by Civilization: Beyond Earth when it launched last year. I was not among that group. While I thought it could be better, it gave me the Civ fix I was craving, with enough new mechanics to keep me hooked. But a lot of other fans seemed to be "waiting for the expansion." Their wait will be over in the fall.
Firaxis today announced Civ Beyond Earth: Rising Tide, an expansion with a partial focus on the seas. One of the major additions is the ability to construct floating cities, and better exploit the resources of the sea. Other additions include
- 4 new factions
- Hybrid unit upgrades for investing in multiple affinities
- New planet types: volcanic and glacial
- Some alien artifacts can be combined into more powerful forms
- Revamped diplomacy system
Some of these seem really nice, but none jump out at me as major changes. I absolutely understand the reticence other fans had with the game, and their desire to wait for the inevitable GOTY edition.
Civ Beyond Earth: Rising Tide will be released this fall for $29.99.
The past few months of public chaos at Konami seems to point to an impending change in focus for the company. As with many other publishers, they see the future is in your hands. Literally.
Gaming has spread to a number of platforms, but at the end of the day, the platform that is always closest to us, is mobile. Mobile is where the future of gaming lies.
Right now Konami only has one title scheduled for release this year - Metal Gear Solid V - although a new installment of their Pro Evo Soccer series isn't out of the question. So the transition has already begun.
What does this mean? I cannot see them withdrawing Metal Gear from the console/PC market completely. The property makes too much money on those platforms. But that doesn't mean they can't do mobile games in that universe too. But they could be positioning their other franchises for a dedicated future on mobile devices.
I think this also means - at least for now - that Konami is not looking to sell off their gaming unit or IPs, as we had previously speculated was a possibility.
I really do try and not be the stereotypical jaded, sarcastic gamer. But when a big publisher makes multiple announcements of an announcement, all to reveal the annual installment of a game whose central conceit was leaked six months ago.
So, being a bit less negative, the new Assassins' Creed will be dubbed Syndicate, and will be set in Victorian London. There will be a pair of playable characters - siblings Jacob and Evie - who were raised as Assassins and come to London in 1868. The devs say this will be the first installment of the series to move to the modern era, and with it comes more modern tech, including a grapple line, trains and carriages.
Weíre taking turns being stealthy at the following link.
Stealth games. Some games get it right and some get it wrong. I think one that we universally agree gets it right (almost to perfection) is Mark Of The Ninja. So when Klei, the company who made Mark Of The Ninja, tell us they have another stealth game on the way, our ears, eyes, and whatever else perk up with interest. Invisible Inc. doesnít scratch the itch left by Mark Of The Ninja, but it fills the hole plenty of other stealth titles just couldn't do. Honestly, I donít think Iíve played a stealth game where I had to think as much as I did playing Invisible Inc.
In this episode we talk with James Lantz from Klei Entertainment about Invisible Inc. and a short bit about Mark Of The Ninja 2. Plus, R.J. gives us a rundown on Jason from Mortal Kombat X and Matt tells us of his time with the new expansion for Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Whatever Kickstarter* was meant to be at one time, it's clearly now a way for beloved Japanese game creators to return to the genres and themes which made them famous, absent the controlling publishers. This time it's Koji Igarashi (aka IGA), creator of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, returning to the genre he calls "IGAvania" with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
You are Miriam, an orphan scarred by an alchemist curse which slowly crystallizes your skin. You must battle your way through a demon-filled castle summoned by Gebel, your old friend whose body has become more crystal than flesh.
Miriam even wields a whip in some of the concept art, so if you've played Symphony you know what to expect.
The game is being developed in conjunction with Inti Creates - who are also working on Mighty No 9 - and an all-star team of Japanese devs. This means the game is already largely funded, hence the Kickstarter's very modest goal of $400K. The game is slated for release on the XB1, PS4 and PC, with a tentative release date of March 2017.
* CoG policy is to not do news posts on projects that haven't yet been funded. We're making an exception here, since after only 6 hours it has surpassed 80% of their goal. We also want to remind everyone that any Kickstarter pledge is a donation, and not truly a pre-order, and non-delivery of the agreed upon rewards is always a possibility.
I have to give it to new indie dev Studio Wildcard, they're not lacking in ambition. Their first title - Ark: Survival Evolved takes a ton of different things and throws them into a pretty, Unreal Engine 4-powered sandbox. Survival and crafting. An open world. RPG elements. PvP. Oh, and Dinosaurs. And what appears to be a dragon. I know some people have been pining for a open world survival game where you do something other than battle zombies. I think this qualifies. Here's how the dev describes the game.
ARK: Survival Evolved takes on the survival genre with a unique blend of emergent multiplayer cooperation and competition. Players awake naked and starving on the beach of a mysterious island among a herd of other confused humans. On ARK, they must then hunt, harvest, craft, research technology, and build shelters to protect against scorching days, freezing nights, volatile weather systems, dangerous wildlife, and potential enemies.
Use cunning strategy and tactics to tame and ride the many dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the dynamic, persistent ecosystems across land, sea, air, and even underground. Build your characterís strengths and gain items, skills, and pet creatures using in-depth role-playing systems. Start a tribe with hundreds of other players to survive and dominate competing tribes...and ultimately discover the ARKís true purpose.
So it's ambitious as hell. But from a new developer with little track record on which to judge them. On the other hand, it lets you tame and ride dinosaurs while building your own fortress.
Ark: Survival Evolved (free advice to the dev: drop the subtitle!) will eventually be released for the XB1 and PS4, but it will hit the PC via Steam Early Access on June 2 (price still TBD).
We're still four months out from the launch of Lego Dimensions, and thanks to some leaks we're learning about the first wave of add-ons for the game.
A leaked pdf shows what appears to be the first wave of post-release figures. The wave includes The Simpsons, Doctor Who, Scooby Doo, Portal (Lego Companion Cube!) and Jurassic World. Sets available at launch include Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, Ninjago, Lego Movie, Back to the Future and The Wizard of Oz. You can assume that pretty much any property not already tied into another figurine-based game (Nintendo, Marvel, Star Wars & Disney) has a chance of ending up in Lego Dimensions eventually. Hopefully how far WB and Lego go down that rabbit hole depends on the game's performance at retail.
I've done a couple of op/eds in the past touching on the death of the movie tie-in game. For the most part I think that's a good thing, partly because most tie-in games stunk, and partly because publishers (and IP owners) realized games are better when they don't have to hew closely to a movie. But there are casualties of this change. We haven't had a console Avengers game in a very long time (excepting Lego games and Disney Infinity), and there is so much potential in a big budget Avengers game.
So lets hear it. What movie/story/character/property would you turn into game, and what sort of game would it be? A Daredevil game that plays like Assassins' Creed? Battlestar Galactica turned into a Telltale-esque adventure game?