In videogames we all have our favourite franchises. As much as we crave the new and different IP, there's something reassuring and fulfilling that comes from a franchise. Previous instalments have allowed us to form a love affair with characters, mechanics, plot and gameplay that have created a melting pot of an experience that appeals to us as an individual gamer. From Angry Birds to Zork, there's a franchise out there for everyone.
But it's perhaps easy to forget when we clamber over the latest Mario or FIFA game that franchises themselves are a poisoned chalice, that hang on a knife-edge (or indeed insert over-used metaphor here) for developers, because they present a bit of a headache. And it's not a headache that simple painkillers can cure. Because franchise development is a bit of a paradox. Fans love your franchise for what it is, so you need to stick to that formula. But heaven forbid of course if developers don't progress the idea in future instalments. Because as fans, we always demand more, and never more so than when we are talking about our beloved franchises.
But how did we create this problem in the first place?Click here to read more...
UPDATE: Please note that the weekend beta keys we are giving away will only work with EU NCSOFT accounts. If you do not have an EU account, there are other websites that will be giving out keys that will work. You can find a list of all the sites giving away codes here. Apologies for the confusion here folks, and if you have any other issues please let us know so we can help you out!
ORIGINAL POST: Looking to get in on the action of the upcoming WildStar weekend beta, which is set to take place between 18th - 20th April? Well, if you haven't put money down for a pre-order (with which you will gain automatic access to every beta weekend between now and the release on June 3rd) you may want to hit the jump to find out how to snab yourself a key, as we have 2000 weekend beta keys to give away.Click here to find out how to get one!
Psyonix and Square Enix's free-to-play, asymmetrical PvP shooter Nosgoth is in closed beta right now, and we had a chance to check out some of the new classes and muck about in the game last week.
You can check out my Nosgoth preview here, and here are a few thought I had following my hands-on:
I had a blast with Nosgoth but I want to see more. We were only playing 4-v-4 team deathmatch. I want more modes, inventive game types. I'd love to see bigger maps and more combatants. Beacham mentioned the War For Nosgoth mode, which is basically the ranked tournament mode for the game that'll become available at regular time intervals, but I'm still curious as to how Psyonix and Square are planning on keeping players hooked for the long haul. I had fun, sure, but I'll need more if I'm going to invest time, let alone money, in the long term. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring you an update on that soon as we jump into the game's beta for an extended stint.
Afterwards, I sat down for a chat with Square Enix game director Bill Beacham to talk about Nosgoth, how important its been to the dev team to leverage the extensive lore that the universe and the Kain IP have to offer, the challenges faced in creating a game that has two tyeams with very different playstyles, and how Square Enix are looking to make a F2P game that is all about growing the community first and monetising second.
Developer: Neocore Games
I can't wait for Van Helsing's next adventure.
Neocore Games came out swinging with a fantastic idea: a massive loot-grinding RPG delivered in three episodes, each lasting 12-15 hours apiece with save file compatibility. We therefore get an enormous slab of gunslinging, swordswinging, swashbuckling and teh phattest of lewtz delivered on our terms, allowing us to test the waters for £11.99 apiece and buy the whole thing for the same price as Diablo III's expansion pack. The first episode was solid, versatile, challenging and off-kilter; a real rip-roaring adventure that didn't take itself too seriously yet was deadly serious about its gameplay.
Now the legendary monster hunter finds himself defending a city under siege by the villainous General Harker, who throws an army of steampunk horrors at the grim defenders. It's time to don the floppy hat, grab our ghostly companion and unleash our inner Van Helsing... with a little more strategy this time around.Click here to read more...
Nosgoth is a free-to-play, third-person, asymmetrical PVP arena shooter set in the Legacy of Kain universe.
Frankly just typing that sentence feels weird; wrong, almost. But for all of the scepticism I had about Nosgoth, it plays pretty damn well and is underpinned by an absolute truckload of lore. Psyonix and Square Enix have their eyes on an untapped niche in the free-to-play, competitive market. They're gunning for the e-sports scene and are determined to make a splash, not by copying the successes of those games such as League of Legends or Warface that have gone before, but by trying something rather different.
Nosgoth is certainly that. Pitting Humans against Vampires, the game sets teams of four players against one another, before changing things up at halftime and swapping teams over to the other faction. We've seen that most recently in games of Capture the Flag in Titanfall, forcing players to attack and defend both sides of the map, but here the implementation is designed to showcase the two very different playstyles of the warring factions.
In order to be good at Nosgoth, you need to be adept with both Humans and Vampires.Click here to read more...
This was the week for new game announcements in the shape of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, the Day Z-esque H1Z1 and a PS4 port of The Last of Us. And they say originality in gaming is dying a death, I wonder why. We also saw the Xbox 360 version Titanfall in action and it made us question the need for a next-gen console, it's that good.
In the reviews section Jon's been busy with hammering out verdicts on Age of Wonders III on the PC, Strike suit Zero: Director's Cut on the PS4, Episode 3 of The Wolf Among Us, Battlefield 4: Naval Strike and Invizimals: The Alliance. Matt took his addiction out of the house for Football Manager Classic 2014 on the Vita and I reviewed the previously handhelds-only game Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition on PSN.
The Rezzed coverage wraps up this week as Carl and Jon bring you a mix of articles and interviews for Broforce, Private Eye, Biome, Concursion and Sniper Elite 3. Elsewhere you can find pieces on XBL's 'Games with Gold' venture, Battlefield: Vietnam's birthday, the Naval Strike DLC for Battlefield 4, Square Enix's promise to shift their focus, an Elder Scrolls Online journal, a SingOn preview, a look at Nintendo's 'casual' audience and finally a look at why Matt thinks it might be worth holding off buying a next-gen console.
Click here to read more...
In the second part of the team's adventures in Naval Strike expansion, the trio take the fight to the Nasha Strike map for more boat-based shenanigans. Expect more death on the high seas, before a failed attempt at playing on Wave Breaker.
At this year's Gadget Show Live, Carl got a chance to speak to Christopher Payton of Rebellio about the upcoming shooter Sniper Elite 3, which was on show to the public for the first time. The pair discuss the improvements over V2, the various options players can taken in the new expanded environments, and the transition developing on the current crop of consoles.
Stay tuned for a hands-on impressions piece onsite soon!
The trio return to Battlefield 4 this week to check out the latest addition to its multiplayer - the Naval Strike map set. In the first part of two, the trio head to the Lost Islands, play around in all of the boats, and experiment with various flying techniques in the helicopter. Stay tuned for Part 2 and our full review tomorrow!
In case you haven't noticed, we're big fans of karaoke here at Dealspwn.com. There's little more enjoyable than thoroughly embarrassing ourselves by tipsily belting out awful versions of classic songs from the diaphragm, and videogames have long been on hand to scratch our itch; from SingStar and Lips to the likes of We Sing and even Rock Band.
But there's a problem. Every time a new karaoke game comes out, we find ourselves gravitating to three or four songs in the track list, restricted by the 20-40 tunes on the disc. There's always filler material, there's always bumf that literally no-one likes to sing, while themed sequels and track packs leave fans of other decades or genres sitting glumly on the sofa and wishing that they'd gone to that other party instead.
SingOn aims to change all that. We've seen so many games trying to become "services" over the last few years, usually with disastrous results, but for Karaoke games this new startup makes perfect sense. It's effectively a free client that grants players access to a continually-updated streaming roster of hundreds of songs throughout numerous genres, on their own terms. Whether charging a couple of quid for a night, a few Pounds for weekend access or spending the price of a regular game for a year's unfettered use, SingOn is all about letting us choose exactly when and exactly what we want to sing.
The passionate developers describe SingOn as the "next generation of Karaoke games," and though it's rolling out on PS3 first, PlayStation Network is just the very first step in a plan for global domination across multiple platforms.Click here to read more...
Titanfall on Xbox 360 is great fun. It's not as sharp as its Xbox One sibling, nor is it as impressive in terms of framerate, but at its core it's still the same fast-paced, exhilarating experience that we've come to find on the other platforms thus far.
Put simply, I'm not entirely sure that the difference between the Xbox 360 version and the Xbox One version is worth forking out £400 for.
We're nearly five months on now from the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, and we've seen prices fall a little in that time, but I'd still posit that there's little reason to invest in the advent of this new generation of video game consoles, and the Titanfall situation perfectly illustrates why: we're not ready to let go of last-gen just yet.
We speculated that the delay of the 360 version, and the fact that no-one had seen or heard anything much about it until a couple of days before release, might have been because it was crap. That's a fairly tried-and-tested strategy in the games industry: if you have a crap game it's either vertical slice time (hello Aliens), or you follow that old adage of if you haven't got anything good to say, don't say anything at all. It's all helped along by the fact that 2014 has seen some of the most hilariously overblown scrutiny of games and visuals and technical specifications and comparisons that a tiny, tiny, very vocal niche care about. As soon as you put something out there in the virtual ether, it's going to get torn apart, and so we often jump to the conclusion that no news is probably bad news.
But in this instance it would seem that the reverse is true: that the Xbox 360 port is good enough to have probably posed a challenge to the more expensive, pleasebuyaconsoleforthis Xbox One version of Titanfall, and that says much about the fragility of this first year of next-gen gaming. With third parties going for an expansive approach, and hamstringing the potential of current-gen versions to allow for feature-complete last-gen games, the exclusive big hitters matter more for Sony and Microsoft, and it makes sense to try and make things as easy for the likes of Titanfall and inFamous: Second Son as is possible. Given the choice between forking out forty quid for a really enjoyable version of Titanfall on Xbox 360 and ten times that for Titanfall on Xbox One, many might have gone for the former over the latter.Click here to read more...
The more I inspect the world of Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls Online, the more I'm filled with a sense of slight unease. It is as if instead of romping across the mountains of Skyrim or wading through the marshes of Vvardenfell as in previous games, carving out a niche for myself in a living, breathing world, I find myself in a museum or sorts, or a grand theatrical historical experience, surrounded by actors and other tour audience members. Tamriel in TESO is beginning to feel more like a showroom (a very big one) than a world that's actually alive.
The presence of other characters is beginning to grate when it comes to PvE, being out in the big wide world. It just doesn't really fit, and I'm having to suspend an enormous amount of disbelief. Having played WildStar for hours on end, I have to say that NCsoft's game made sense -- you're on a frontier world, scrambling to do everything that you can to carve out a niche. It would follow that certain pillars of the community would be in demand, and I could more easily ignore multiple characters swarming about the place. There are obvious benefits to having fellow adventurers alongside you for certain areas that absolutely require a group, but on a moment to moment level, it's sometimes a little disconcerting.
Part of that has to do with the fact that the game seems to not know exactly what it wants to be. Exploring the frozen tundra of Bleakrock, having persevered with the Ebonheart Pact, occasionally feels a lot like playing Skyrim, and there are moments when I've found myself wandering the wastes in relative solitude. But often the constructs are a bit of a lie, with objects and bodies that might otherwise be interactive rendered inert here, like window dressing -- serving the showroom vibe rather than contributing to the world.
That said, I rocked up to an abandoned fishing camp and got out my rod and stayed for ten minutes or so, catching fish to later sell. By the time I left, five more people had arrived, and there we were, angling in snowy serenity. Then we teamed up and went off to deal with the Frozen Man and his riddles, only one member of our group glitched out and couldn't complete the quest and wasted half an hour thanks to a bug.
There's so much I'm enjoying about TESO, but it always seems like there's a caveat just around the corner.Click here to read more...
Simple ideas are often the best, and Biome is onto a winner. As I walked through the Leftfield Collection during the first day of EGX Rezzed, having experienced the oppressive horror of Alien: Isolation and reeling from Oculus Rift simulation sickness, I was suddenly and inexplicably drawn to a distant monitor on which beckoned a lonely little low-poly cube.
Upon further investigation, it was a chunk of nondescript land suspended in space, with only a cursor acting as a clue of what I was supposed to do. I clicked it, and the terrain deformed around my cursor, thrusting hills and mountains upwards as I continued to click around. Seawater rushed in to fill the gaps, creating lakes and levees, all while rain and clouds swooped in. Grass gave way to rocky crags, then lava, oceans and ice, all responding to my simple inputs. I was mesmerised, in fact, I could have happily sat there all day.
Biome is a fascinating little curio, then, an addictive timewasting distraction and streamlined god game rolled into one - and doubly impressive considering that it's being developed by a clutch of university students.
Click here to read more...
I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD of late, and it's impossible not to do so without remembering a time when Square knew who and what it was as a company, where its strengths lay, and what it was truly best at.
A week or so ago, Jon reported on a few telling quotes from Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda, as he talked about the company's desire to pursue mass market appeal with their games.
"If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you're actually making the game for," Matsuda said. "For example, if you look back at 2013, we've had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled."
He pointed to Hitman: Absolution in that regard, before holding up Bravely Default as an example of a game that stuck to its guns and delivered an outstanding JRPG that refused to compromise, and sold well because of it.
But why did Square Enix go down this path in the first place? Why try to fix a problem that wasn't broken to begin with? To take a look at the recent instalments in their flagship series -- Final Fantasy -- is to see a process of paranoid tinkering, desperately trying to make the series more streamlined and action-oriented, to the point where, in Final Fantasy XIII, all you had to do for the first fifteen hours was push "Up" and "A". Now, with Lightning Returns, we have a game that's barely recognisable by the standards that made Final Fantasy a household brand name.Click here to read more...
BROFORCE is utterly outrageous in all the best ways. This rambunctious sidescoller puts us into the boots of over a dozen legendary action heroes, homages to everything from Judge Dredd and Commando to Men In Back, Machete, Rambo, Robocop, Terminator, the A-Team and Die Hard for starters, then runs us through an orgy of huge guns, massive explosions and gore aplenty in a quest to bring peace to the world through gloriously over-the-top ultraviolence. It's outstanding - and it isn't even finished yet.
Having caught our eye ever since its reveal, we made a beeline for BROFORCE at EGX Rezzed... where it managed to turn two bro-fessional games writers into fist-bumping, whooping, hollering reprobates in only a few short minutes.
Now that it's available on Steam Early Access, it's high time we took a closer look Free Lives' patriotic blast'em up and explain why it's handily one of our most anticipated games of 2014.Click here to read more...
We all love getting something for nothing, so seeing that many of us already pay for Xbox Live Gold membership, we're big fans of Microsoft's Games With Gold scheme. Getting to download and keep games forever is a fantastic idea, but as we've seen over the last few months, the service has increasingly come under fire for its somewhat lacklustre selection compared to PlayStation Plus' engorged rental smorgasbord.
So, in the spirit of useful feedback and because it's a fairly slow news day, here are the ten games we'd love to see make an appearance on Games With Gold - across both Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Some of these games would be easy to offer, others might just be the unrealistic pipe dreams of a deeply ungrateful hack, while more are examples of Microsoft missing some fairly obvious opportunities. Let's go!
Gears Of War: Judgment was pretty nifty for a boilerplate stopgap. Having run the series to conclusion, this entertaining if somewhat unnecessary prequel still managed to do the business in cooperative multiplayer, and I daresay plenty of people didn't pick it up last year.
Plus, it would be nice to get one of the only big exclusives of 2013 for free. Can't imagine it's exactly flying off the shelves now.
As we discussed earlier today, all manner of XBLA games deserve the chance to shine, especially those with sadly dead or dying multiplayer communities. From the exceptional dogfighting of Snoopy Flying Ace to the underrated jetpack multiplayer of Hybrid and even Madballs in Babo Invasion's surprisingly excellent online modes, there's a wealth of potential left untapped here.Click here to read more...
Xbox Live's Games With Gold initiative was a great idea. Giving Xbox Live gold members free games every month as part of their subscription provides a welcome extra perk, but now that PlayStation Plus has levelled the playing field, the service finds itself at the sharp end of many a criticism. However, we reckon that Microsoft might be missing a fairly obvious trick, at least in terms of what games to give us.
No, I'm not talking about big blockbusters. Games with Gold definitely needs more in the way of juicy triple-A titles to give Sony's service a run for its money, but Microsoft already knows it. We already know it. Considering that making a huge pricey game free to download and keep forever requires an enormous amount of financial finagling behind the scenes, it'll be interesting to see how Microsoft goes about their unenviable task, but there's not much point retreating old ground.
Instead, I'd like to point out another interesting use for Games With Gold, and a potential new avenue for the service to tap into alongside its big hitters. Namely: underrated XBLA games with dead or dying multiplayer communities.Click here to read more...
At this year's EGX Rezzed, there were plenty of indie titles on show that take slight spins on existing genres to create new experiences, but one title on show took matter the extra mile in that department by blending several genres together in an experience that changes at a moment's notice. That game is Concursion - an upcoming indie title from Puuba studios - and I was invited to talk to one of the key players behind the game, developer Daniel Garfield, on the show floor. We'll have a hands-on impressions piece landing later this week, but in this interview we learn about the influences Garfield had, the challenges of balancing a game that at first glance probably shouldn't work, and its notable musical direction.
You can learn more about Concursion by heading over to its Steam Greenlight page. Stay tuned for our preview later this week.
Virtual Reality has the power to immerse us in brave new worlds, to make our gaming experiences infinitely more powerful and personal. As such, a new wave of VR adventures are currently in development for Oculus Rift and other platforms, designed to take advantage of its intimate and overwhelming new perspective.
Private Eye is one such project, currently being developed by Jake Slack. This investigative thriller casts players as a wheelchair-bound detective who has to recall pivotal events from his past and scrutinise clues from a first-person perspective, exploring a gritty 1950s setting in full 360 degrees. Originally developed during a Game Jam, it's now vying for mainstream exposure on Steam Greenlight.
Having tried it out at EGX Rezzed (and being thoroughly mindblown in the process), naturally we grabbed Slack for a in-depth interview. Discover how Private Eye plans to shake up the adventure genre, what Oculus Rift can do for the genre and what real developers think about the controversial takeover in the video above. Subscribe to Dealspwn for more gaming videos.
I'll never forget the first time that I hopped into an AH-1, heard the rotors whirr and felt the Huey shudder, as the radio sparked to life and began to blare out Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son". I couldn't fly the damn thing at that point, of course, and I ended up crash landing in the jungle miles away from any of the capture points after a rocket zipped out of the dense jungle and smoke began to billow out everywhere. As I went down though, I saw two other helicopters start a bombing run...
'It ain't me...it ain't me-eee...'
To many, Battlefield: Vietnam is the forgotten child in the Battlefield series. It didn't kick on mechanically from its acclaimed predecessor, the singleplayer AI was utterly awful (to the extent that they'd actually sometimes not react even when you were shooting their knees off), and at times it felt more like a mod or an add-on pack than a new game. But I loved it, and I found that it grabbed me significantly more than Battlefield 1942.
I know it's a little late, but happy tenth birthday, Battlefield: Vietnam.Click here to read more...