When it comes to industry practices we despise, "On-Disc DLC" is right up there. Ever since Capcom came under fire for including content on retail discs, locking it off and then selling it back to us, gamers became aware of what was essentially a scam and dredged up the whole sorry mess, and quite right too.
So you'd expect that publishers and developers would do their best to stay well clear of this nasty business, but you'd be wrong. On-disc DLC has just evolved into a new form over the last few years, and is more insidious than ever.
Though technically, we now ought to refer to it as 'on-disk DLC.'
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There's an article titled "Destiny: The Dark Below Review... from someone who uninstalled the game months ago" sat in my Drafts tab right now, containing a 400-word rant about how mind-bogglingly cynical Destiny is as a game, and how offensive their first content drop is given the wealth of recycled material that you get for your £20 in The Dark Below.
For twenty of your British pounds, you can delight in three new missions, two new Strikes (sorry, one if you don't have a PlayStation), a new Raid, three new PvP maps, and a smattering of new weapons and armour.
Listing it all like that actually makes things sound a bit better than most DLC packs. But most DLC packs don't cost £20, or take place largely in areas of a game you've gone through time and time again. Don't expect Bungie to have suddenly learned how to match their gunplay up to decent level design, from what we've seen the AI is as dumb as before, and boss battles are still just a case of standing in a small room while mobs try and distract you from a lumbering, idiotic bullet-sponge that takes between 10-30 mins to kill by dogged attrition.
I played Halo 3 again over the weekend and remembered that Bungie used to actually be pretty good at this sort of thing. How I wept.
Destiny has now left my PS4, uninstalled to make way for games that are actually good and don't sucker me in with slot-machine mechanics and deeply cynical, borderline lazy design features geared towards fuelling grindy addiction rather than actual enjoyment.
With that in mind, we're going to perform a public service today and give you ten alternative ways of spending that £20 of yours. Don't buy The Dark Below and make yourself miserable as you wonder where the hell all that time you've wasted went. Spend your money on these things and be awesome instead.
This is an end, after all, but also... a beginni... no. Can't do it. Stupid f@#$ing pile of vague bulls#! t. Let's get to the better ways of spending £20...Click here to read more...
Didn't we already go over this with Dead Space two years back? Or Forza last year? Or Ass Creed a couple of weeks ago?
Another week, another example of Ubisoft trying to copy the EA of several years ago. I'm going to get around to the excellence of Far Cry 4 eventually, which will surely balance out some of the skewering we've been doing of Ubisoft over the past few weeks, but it's difficult to ignore things like sticking big, fat microtransactions in full-priced games.
Jon noted that The Crew is rocking a premium unlockable option for £39.99, dishing out 600,000 Crew Credits to parties willing to stump up enough cash to buy the game all over again (but not from Uplay). This isn't the first time that we've this from Ubisoft this winter -- Assassin's Creed: Unity, a game that somehow felt the need to have four different kinds of in-game currency, had an option to buy 20,000 Helix Credits for the low, low price of £64.99.
"Microtransactions are usually smoking-gun proof that a game's economy is designed specifically to delay, annoy and otherwise tempt you into reaching for the credit card, or that the company deliberately withheld content or cheat codes to sell post-launch. They kill immersion by reminding you that you're just consuming an incomplete product. They encourage developers to turn their games into operant conditioning chambers. The idea of full-priced games offering them is genuinely insane, if not insulting, when you think about it. And it's big news when a game avoids them. What an age we live in."
"Dual currency" and "microtransactions" are phrases that I absolutely loathe seeing when talking about full price games. They are, in essence, admissions of defeat: "We couldn't be arsed to create a meaningful way for you to earn this in-game, so here's a pay option because we're admitting that the game we made is unbalanced." The bottom line is that microtransactions exist in fully priced games simply because they can. There's simply no defence for them, it's just yet another example of game design being sabotaged in the name of profit.Click here to read more...
Yesterday, in the wake of 343 Industries' heartfelt apology for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Ubisoft's management finally owned up to the errors of Assassin's Creed: Unity.
Before we get onto ripping the message apart, though, let's look at what the publisher actually did do. The failings of Assassin's Creed: Unity are well-documented on this site, partially-hidden on launch day by a time-gated embargo that was so idiotic and publicly slammed that Ubisoft say they have revised their approach to reviews going forwards. People bought the game in the US at launch to find no reviews published, with many players angrily reporting a plethora of bugs and technical issues. In a statement from Ubi Montreal's CEO, Yannis Mallat, Ubisoft "sincerely apologized", suggesting that "the overall quality of [Assassin's Creed: Unity] was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues", and offering compensation for those who'd bought an Assassin's Creed: Unity Season Pass:
"To show our appreciation for your continued support, we’re making the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC free for everyone," wrote Mallat. "For Season Pass holders, we will also offer the choice of one additional game from a selection of Ubisoft titles for free. More details on the offer for Season Pass holders can be found here: AC Unity FAQ."
Those free games are not to be sniffed at either, including Far Cry 4 (it's excellent), The Crew (hmmm), Assassin's Creed: Black Flag (much better than Unity), Watch Dogs (bloated, but still better than Unity), Rayman Legends (10/10), and Just Dance 2015 (it's Just Dance).
It's sort of the same move that EA pulled with SimCity, which sort of lends credence to my hypothesis that Ubisoft are actually just copying EA at this point. Things is, just like in the SimCity situation, this damage control is just a seemingly classy move that does nothing but paper over the cracks.Click here to read more...
Picture the scene. Having drifted off following a marathon LEGO Batman 3 session (stay tuned for the review, by the way), I found myself roused from my sleep by an mysterious light. "Is it dawn already," I thought as I groggily opened my eyes, only to discover that it was three in the morning and pitch black.
Pitch black, at least, were it not for an eerie glow emanating from my bedside table, mere inches from my head, bathing the room in an unnatural otherworldly radiance. A ghost, surely. An angel. Aliens. The rapture, perhaps. My still sleep-addled mind boggled at the nightmarish possibilities as I slowly, tremblingly, reached out to discover the source of that baffling and terrifying glimmer.
Long story short, it turns out that my Wii U GamePad had switched itself on to flog me Mario Kart 8 DLC.
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We love you CD Projekt!
I can't wait for the Witcher 3. It's actually keeping me up at night. And no matter how I end up getting the game, whether I pre-order or pick it up weeks after release, I'm going to be eligible for the sixteen pieces of free DLC that CD Projekt will be dishing out to everyone who buys a copy of the game.
It's sort of sad that such basic generosity and goodwill requires a press release and a news post, but frankly it's worth shouting from the rooftops in this world of Season Pass pre-orders, day one paid DLC, and other anti-consumer bullshit.
Here's the official blurb:
On February 25th, CD Project RED will release the first bundle of DLCs (2 of the planned 16) -- the Temerian Armor Set (horse armor included) and a Beard and Hairstyle Set for Geralt, the game’s protagonist. After this date, a DLC bundle consisting of two DLCs will be published every week, entirely for free. Gamers are entitled to the free DLC regardless of obtaining the game via pre-order or after launch. Instructions on how to obtain DLCs on specific platforms will be provided at a later date.
I mean, free DLC doesn't necessarily mean it'll all be must-have material, but CD Projekt don't muck about when it comes to trying to do right by their customers. If only other publishers we could think of would follow their example.
CDP RED's CEO, Marcin Iwinski also answered a few further questions in an open letter FAQ of sorts.Check it out after the jump >>
Titanfall is an utterly superb shooter. Partly it's the robots, partly it's the parkour, but it's also due to the impeccable map design that presents you with enormous, detailed, vertical canvasas with a near-infinite skill ceiling. All three map packs have been superb, and better yet, they'll only cost you six quid so long as you're an Xbox Live Gold subscriber. Which you obviously are, because this is a multiplayer game.
If you haven't logged on in a while, you've missed quite a bit, including some massive new updates. An article on why Titanfall still deserves your time will be going live in an hour or two. Many thanks to heatlight @ HUKD!
I'm quite excited for Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault. I must admit that I'm more of an offline player than an online one, having had my backside handed to me on numerous occasions, but that's what this expansion is all about. Just like Western Front Armies, Ardennes Assault will be a standalone slice of strategic action, but one that eschews the linearity of COH 2's campaign for something a little more dynamic.
My preview for Ardennes Assault went live yesterday, and here's what I had to say about my time with the game in my closing paragraph:
The bottom line is that Ardennes Assault finally brings the feeling of grand strategy and broader tactical thinking to bear on a game that has been renowned for tactical gameplay on a smaller, more individual scale. Company of Heroes has long been a series that is all about making the best with what you have, realising the importance of different individual units and the ways in which they can complement one another. Now, added to that formula, there's more of an opportunity to be a true armchair general, as well as a major on the field. It looks like it truly present the best of both worlds, and that's very exciting indeed.
As well as going hands-on with the game, I also had the opportunity to sit down with campaign designer, Mitch Lagran, to have a chat about the changes that Relic have made and the ambitions that the studio has going forwards.Check out the interview after the jump >>
It's always a good sign when a preview event starts wrapping up and the first thing you think is 'Nooooo, please let me take this game with me'. It was nice to place the latest standalone expansion pack for Company of Heroes 2 in context, with our gaggle of assembled European writers given a tour of the Bastogne barracks -- the operational heart of the Allied war effort during the Battle of the Bulge -- before checking out the game inspired by that bloody piece of history.
Inspired is certainly the word, as Relic have used the events of the battle to bookend this particular experience. Essentially, Ardennes Assault gives players the freedom to plan out their own military machinations in the region by way of a 'meta map'. If The Western Front Armies provided a multiplayer introduction to this newly explored theatre of war and the factions involved, the Ardennes Assault pack is the singleplayer counterpoint -- an expansion that zooms in on three individual companies and their commanding officers, struggling to take control of a region filled with constantly shifting German divisions. The idea is clear -- to present a relatively open ended canvas, framed by history, upon which we armchair generals might paint our personal tactical masterpieces.
Our two-hour session with the game consisted of playing the same mission multiple times. Set not far from Bastogne in the town of Houffalize, the skirmish in which we were involved saw us trying to join up with an allied column to the north, cutting through German-controlled territory, overrunning the enemy's artillery stations, and co-opting the massive guns for our own purposes. By focussing in on this single mission (there will be 18 in total we're told -- seven rather broad encounters and eleven more scripted scenarios) several times over, we were able to see how the different companies performed, and how the map changed depending upon what stage of the campaign we were at when we took the plunge.Click here to read more...
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
For many, Titanfall was the vanguard of a year of games that didn't live up to their hype. I am not one of those people.
Titanfall has kept me coming back week after week, month after month, because its gameplay is evergreen. I'm not just throwing myself through the grinder for randomised loot or arbitrary metagame levels, rather I'm playing simply because the thrill of snapping necks, dropping mechs and effortlessly traversing an entire map without touching the ground is nigh-on perfect, and worth every minute. The small yet dedicated fanbase clearly feels the same, enjoying the fact that the skill ceiling is as high as the lofty maps themselves.
So the third and final map pack is Respawn's opportunity to go gonzo; to create a crazy, visually diverse and utterly innovative last hurrah before presumably concentrating on a multi-platform sequel.
This didn't happen, sadly, but IMC Rising is still an excellent expansion that subscribes to a familiar template: two undeniably brilliant maps and a third that reveals a unique edge after a few matches.Click here to read more...
Busy collecting Grimoire cards and Emblems in Destiny this week? Well, allow us to help you out. Through promotional trading cards for the game, affiliate websites, and the emergence of limited edition codes, 26 codes have been uncovered that can be used multiple times and redeemed on Bungie.net for rewards.
All you have to do is register on the site (sign up the Dealspwn Destiny clan while you're at it), link up you PSN/Xbox LIVE accounts to ensure maximum benefit, and then enter in the codes by clicking "Redeem Code" in the drop-down menu from your account name.
You can see your Grimoire cards immediately on Bungie.net once you've unlocked them, but you'll need to take a trip to the Tower and visit the Postmaster to nab your Emblems and Shaders. Don't expect to be able to to use the latter until level 20.Hit the jump for the free list of Destiny codes >>
GAME have dropped their price for Skyrim: Legendary Edition on console down to £13.99 for today only. The PC crowd will be giggling with glee at the game having been half this price recently for them, but if you're a console gamer, this is a cracking deal that'll save you a couple of quid or so. Already a leviathan of a game, the Skyrim: Legendary Edition also bundles in the Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn DLC.
We'd recommend the X360 version over the PS3 for stability reasons.
Thanks to Bure11 at HotUKDeals.
Infamous: First Light is out in the US today, and our review went live earlier. Here's what we said about the game:
Infamous First Light packs a whole bunch of content in at a decent price, and fleshes out Second Son's most interesting character in fine fashion, with a sibling story that tugs at the heartstrings thanks to another great performance from Bailey. It's an extension, perhaps, more than an expansion -- more of the same sort of thing, but with a slightly different flavour -- but given how much fun Second Son was, that's no bad thing.
But if you're still uncertain whether or not to buy the standalone prequel to Second Son, here's a little look in more depth at some of the changes you can expect to find playing as Fetch rather than Delsin, along with a video of the game's opening 10 minutes.Click here to read more...
I had a blast with Infamous: Second Son. For me, it was probably the best game in the series thus far, a polished experience that did the basics incredibly well, delivered some cracking performances from its leading stars, and dazzled the senses with a gorgeous Seattle sandbox and plenty of interesting abilities. It didn't seek to really break new ground or reinvent the wheel, but Second Son was supremely satisfying because Sucker Punch managed to nail things where they counted -- combat, traversal, scale, story. Would it have been nice to have Seattle live and breathe a little more rather than simply being an obviously gamified sandbox? Perhaps. But frankly I was having too much fun to really care.
Given the hot topic of female protagonists in the gaming industry, it's not surprising really that Sucker Punch were asked in the run up to Second Son's release about the possibility of a female playable protagonist. That questioning only became stronger when we were introduced to Abigail "Fetch" Walker -- a Neon-powered Conduit with some serious baggage in her past and a heavy chip on her shoulder. That Sucker Punch followed through and have given us a fat slab of Fetch's backstory to play through here in First Light is admirable.
More importantly, it's pretty damn good.
Laura Bailey is back to voice Fetch, and once again, the strength of Sucker Punch's performance capture really comes through. Anyone familiar with her story in Second Son will already know the end state of this prequel, set two years before the events of the original game. Fetch is making a living on the streets with her brother in First Light, making ends meet by doing unsavoury jobs for unsavoury people. By the time we meet her in Second Son, she's lost a huge deal, not least a sense of control, and First Light tells the story of how she goes from being a woman trying to hide her powers to being a Conduit fixer and assassin, to eventually becoming a powerful renegade filled with rage and anger.Click here to read more...
EA have slashed prices on Titanfall and its DLC over on Origin for a day, meaning you can pick up the base game for just £13.49. The individual map packs have also been discounted, and EA have shaved a third off of the price of the Season Pass. Additionally, ifd you've not gotten into the game yet, you can pick up the Titanfall Digital Deluxe Edition, which contains the base game and the Season Pass, for just £23.99.
It's a cracking game, we're still playing it, and the latest map pack, Frontier's Edge, is an absolute winner. Thanks to shahidali47 @ HUKD!
Alien Isolation is shaping up nicely. Having spent four solid hours playing the latest Steam build, I can report that its adaptive AI and terrifying unpredictability makes for a very different kind of horror game.
However, the fact that sections starring the original Alien voice cast are only going to be available as pre-order DLC -- or paid DLC down the line -- has got many a hackle up across the internet. I naturally asked lead designer Gary Napper exactly why they'd taken the controversial move.Click here to read more...
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Be advised: I'm still playing Titanfall and loving it. Though many players have departed over the last few months, angrily citing the lack of a metagame and arbitrary unlockables, the evergreen gameplay and superbly designed maps of Respawn's shooter ensure me a fresh and exciting experience every time I scamper along a rooftop or crush fleeing infantry into bloody smears under steel heel.
Mind you, Titanfall dropped the ball hard post-launch, which I've poked and prodded at relentlessly. From dwindling player numbers on objective gametypes to long matchmaking times and the lack of cosmetic customisation, there's been plenty to moan about. Thankfully Respawn have managed to patch things up in any sense of the phrase, resulting in a sharper, faster, more engrossing and customisable experience after a sequence of updates. Update 5 brings a new economy into the mix that adds a new dimension to Burn Cards, alongside extra fixes and tweaks that improve and expand the gameplay experience for free.
Frontier's Edge feels like the last piece of the puzzle: three thematic stages that lack the obvious gimmicks of Expedition's trio, designed to tempt players back onto objective gametypes with smart scalable design. Come back for the update, then stay for the maps. We'll discuss both over the next few hundred words.Click here to read more...
Call of Duty: Ghosts Season Pass PS3/PS4 | 365 Games | £11.99
This is a fantastic deal for any fans of Call of Duty's multiplayer. For £11.99 you get all four map packs for Call of Duty: Ghosts. With each pack usually costing £11.59 on PSN, this is an incredible saving. The standard digital price for the season pass is £34.99 and prices are around £25 on eBay. The pass is for both the PS3 and PS4 versions, so if you upgrade you won't have to buy the maps again.
Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII at HotUkDeals.
Been holding off on Ghosts DLC in the hope of finding a good season pass deal? Well you're in luck as CDKeys are currently offering the pass for £12.59, which drops down to £11.99 if you use the site's 5% off Facebook voucher.
The four packs include Onslaught, Devastation, Invasion, and Nemesis, the last of which isn't out on PSN just yet, but will probably cost more than this deal when it finally arrives.
Cheers to Jas10 for the tip.
The Sims 4 has gotten itself a new 20-minute gameplay video showing off a whole host of content for the upcoming bundle of virtual puppet-mastery.
But the video also mentions something about a "Premium Membership" too, and that sounds rather familiar.Click here to read more...