The launch of the Xbox One is looming, and so we pause for a moment to take stock of a couple of Microsoft's launch offerings. First up? Ryse: Son of Rome. The first-person game that became a third-person game. The third-person game that became an Xbox One game. The Xbox One game that defied Kinect.
Well, sort of.
Ryse's journey has been one of constantly changing design focuses, conceptual rock jumping, and constant delays. It's finally arriving this November. But is it actually looking any good. We've been hands-on with a small portion of the game a couple of times since it was unveiled in its newest, QTE-stuffed form at E3 this year, and here are a few thoughts ahead of the game's next-gen release.Click here to read more...
You can get a fat rundown of my initial impressions of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag here, but basically it would seem that things are looking up for the series. For a franchise that has always really only ever been as good as its time-travelling setting, taking the series deep into the Golden Age of Piracy and combining the core mechanics of Assassin's Creed with a vast, open, naval sandbox reminiscent of Sid Meier's Pirates!, looks to be a masterstroke.
Following on from my conversation with lead writer Darby McDevitt at Gamescom last month, we sat down with producer Martin Schelling at a recent preview event to have an all-encompassing chat about Black Flag. If you're interested in the nature of this piratical open world, if you're wondering why and how music came to be such an integral part of the experience, if you're itching to find out what's going on with the world outside of animus in this game, hit the jump and watch the video. It's a good one.Click here to read more...
Steam tried to dominate the news this week by promising not one, but three revels. Well, they re-iterated that they would be letting other companies make Steam Machines, then announced their own operating system and finally unveiled a new controller. It's fine, we're all still playing GTA, so I doubt many people even noticed. We have a few new trailers for you from TGS including MGS, The Evil Within and more. There are also links to numerous dev sessions from the Eurogamer Expo.
Headlining our reviews section is Matt's extensive GTA V review. We also have verdicts on PC shooter, Alien Rage, pixelated horror title, Lone Survivor and last and probably least, Mechwarrior Online.
In our features there's a new report on SP and MP in COD: Ghosts, a preview and interview for Mad Max and also a report on the progress of the long-awaited Gunz 2. Jon takes another look at his dusty Ouya console and reports that you should probably still hold off buying one for yourself. I spent a few days at the Eurogamer Expo to get my hands on some new games and of course some new consoles. First up is my hands-on preview of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, with more on the way too.Click here to read more...
X Rebirth has issued a new trailer explaining how its trading and mining economies will work - and how they've been slightly streamlined without losing any of that tasty space sim depth. If you're a fan of the genre, it'll be more interesting than it sounds.
The anticipated space sim sequel launches in November, at which point I hope that a hopeless storyline and characters don't get in the way of all the sandbox mercenary loveliness.Click here to read more...
Last night, the crowd-funding effort for upcoming space sim Star Citizen hit the $20,000,000 milestone, further smashing all records for crowd-funded projects, but it turns out that regardless of the success of the crowd funding campaign and generosity of the community, Star Citizen was always designed to be a game with the scope we see today.
Speaking to Dealspwn at this year’s Gamescom, Chris Roberts explained that while the community have helped to ensure the game’s freedom from private investors and publishers, it was always going to be a triple-A game in terms of its budget. Hit the jump to see what Roberts had to say, and to learn about the “What If” scenario that will never have to be.Click here to read more...
Developer: MAIET Entertainment
Publisher: ProSibenSat1 Games
Back in 2004 I spent a lot of time playing GunZ International. It wasn’t the most polished of games, but its third person action with over-the-top gunplay and wall-running swordplay had a rather addictive quality about it all. Arcade-style numbers playing everywhere as players ran across the walls, kill-streak notifications appearing on-screen in colour letters, and all hell breaking loose as teams of player charged at each other – it made for quick fun bouts of high octane carnage. As time went on though, it became apparent that, while the idea for a great online action game was there, it clearly needed refinement and balancing.
You see, many dismissed GunZ 1 because of the ability to grief players with ridiculous combos, using what became known as K-Style. With that in mind, it creators at MAIET Entertainment decided to give it another go by taking the essence of the original GunZ and making it a better game overall. To learn more about how they were going to accomplish this, I was invited to a press session at this year’s Gamescom as Product Manager Christian Schönlein gave the lowdown on what we can expect with GunZ 2.
Before we got into the meat of what GunZ 2 is about, we quickly covered who exactly the Korean developers are. In Schönlein’s own words – they’re total nerds. “No, seriously!” he insisted whilst showing a picture of the developers hard at work, “I always like to show this picture because when you think Free To Play from Korea, you immediately think guys in suits milking online games, and these guys are just not that.” He admitted that that sounded rather cliché, but with a ten year gap between the release of the original GunZ and now, Schönlein felt that “with Gunz 2 you can feel that these guys are putting their heart into this. They’re not just developing two games per year – they’re really trying to get things right.”Click here to read more...
There's one thing that you need to know about Mad Max straight off the bat: Fear not. It's not a movie tie-in. In fact Avalanche have gone to great pains to separate the game from the film reboot coming next year. The curse of the licensed game tie-in is well documented, but Avalanche and Warner Bros. are keen to avoid any potential pitfalls with this one (hence why Max now sports a slight Australian accent following the outcry at E3) and, after catching a look at the game in action at Gamescom this year, it's easy to see why.
Avalanche have proven their pedigree when it comes to open world games. Just Cause 2 was an absolute leviathan of a game, packed full of points of interest and enormously entertaining systems. But whereas Rico Rodriguez's stunt-filled sandboxes have leaned towards anarchic fun, there's something a little (dare I say it) grittier about Mad Max. And that's not just because the post-apocalyptic, dystopian world in which it's set is a sand and dirt-filled wasteland.Click here to read more...
We caught up with Emil Kraftling, senior game designer at Avalanche Studios, at Gamescom this year to chat about Mad Max and find out how the developers are going about packing their desert wasteland full of interesting things to see and do, how their bringing the crucially important customisation mechanics to the fore, and how strongholds -- bastions of humanity out in the dune sea wastes -- will work.Click here to read more...
For some reason, it was a quiet week in the news, almost as if a gargantuan game had been released and everyone was scared the internet would be empty of readers eager for the hottest news. So yes, GTA V is finally with us. Hey, if you're an amazon customer you may have finished it by now thanks to some enthusiastic warehouse staff. Elsewhere we saw a bevvy of new trailers emerge from the Tokyo Game Show. In sadder news, let's not forget to take a moment to remember the passing of the legendary former Nintendo President, Mr. Yamauchi, who died this week aged 85.
Just the four reviews for you this week in the form of the skinny-looking Arma 3, top-down RPG Aarklash: Legacy. Jon also finally got his 3DS-loving mitts around the enjoyable Soul Hackers, while Chris took some time to play the point-and-click Memoria.
Matt and Carl continue to bring you top content from their trip to Gamescom with interviews and previews for the likes of -the thankfully still on form-Batman: Arkham Origins, Wasteland 2, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved and EverQuest Next. Ahead of our review for GTA V we've got an opening scenes video and a few diary entries detailing our first three days in Los Santos. There's a Sunday Seven too looking at why you need the PS Vita TV device in your life right now. I'm off to the Eurogamer Expo next week, so expect a few hands-on previews from myself along with more Gamescom previews from Matt and Carl for Mad Max and more during the week. If I'm not here, I've probably been nicked for trying to fit a PS4 down my jacket. Maybe I should put a crew together, if only there was a game that could teach me the skills...Click here to read more...
It's not every day that a Hail Mary pass in the form of a Kickstarter project aiming to get a 20-year project off of the ground wins out, but for inXile Entertainment and Brian Fargo, it really did. In a big way. I caught up with Brian at Gamescom this year to find out just what it means to the industry veteran to finally have the chance to bring Wasteland 2 to fruition, how the Unity engine and its Asset Store have made the process faster and efficient than the developers might have otherwise imagined, the nature of Kickstarter and answering to consumers and fans rather than publishers, and why player choice and player agency is such a big deal.Click here to read more...
Developers: inXile Entertainment | Obsidian Entertainment
Publishers: inXile Entertainment
Brian Fargo has been waiting a long time for the opportunity to create a true sequel to Wasteland. True, we've had Fallout and Fountain of Dreams, but those were spiritual sequels more than anything else. The Desert Rangers have plenty more stories of their own to tell yet.
Wasteland 2 is something of a modern take on retro stylings with its aesthetics enormously reminiscent of the Infinity engine's heyday. Instead of some big-name Kickstarter projects with lofty ambitions that far exceeded their crowdfunding budget (*cough* Double Fine), inXile have had a plan and stuck to it. When I caught up with Brian at this year's Gamescom, he explained how fashioning the game using the Unity engine, and leveraging Unity's expansive Asset Store allowed the team to move much more efficiently than they might have otherwise, both in terms of expenditure and time management.
Being a game constructed around deep, tactical, turn-based combat, the isometric view works marvellously, and players will have the opportunity to work out the perfect party combinations for their groups of four player-created Rangers, and up to three other NPCs. A familiar-looking attribute system makes a return, with CLASSIC comprising Charisma, Luck, Awareness, Strength, Speed, Intelligence, and Coordination. Thre'll be 32 skills in which to specialise, across three disciplines: Combat (e.g. Blunt Weapons, Bladed Weapons, Anti-Tank-Weapons etc.), Knowledge (e.g. Picklock, Safecrack, Alarm Disarm, Demolitions etc.) and General (e.g. Detector, Outdoorsman, Evasion, Leadership, Folklore etc.).Click here to read more...
Having sat through a press presentation of the game in action earlier that day, I was given the opportunity to have a chat with John Drake, director of communications at Harmonix, to learn a little more about the upcoming music game tie-in to one of Disney's most iconic feature length animations. If you haven't read our preview of the presentation, you can catch up on it all here.
When asked about platform exclusivity, Drake was quick to point out that while Fantasia is coming out to Xbox One and Xbox 360, the game isn’t contract exclusive so it may end up coming out for other consoles with a camera peripheral in the future (but Harmonix aren’t ready to talk about that just yet.) Drake admitted that Fantasia was Harmonix’s most ambitious game to date, with 120 people working on the game currently in an effort to get to fill the game with new characters and even greater potential for crazy remixes.
On the topic of remixes, I asked Drake whether Fantasia would include some sort of community hub that will allow players an one-stop place to hear remixes or vote for which ones are the best, but he explained that, at least for the moment, there wasn’t a plan to include one. “I’m not sure if we’re going to do that in-game or not. Right now, a lot of that super-server depends on Disney to be all like “Oh hey, what’s your back-end technology going to be?” Disney’s work with Infinity, and the idea of players being able to share their creations online, is something the developers are watching to “see what [they] could apply from that,” but while Harmonix are working with Disney to include things like YouTube uploading (and ensuring artists get paid for their original work) the developers were waiting for all of the main work to be finished first before looking into the server-side features. Drake did finish by stating “I would like to see something like that. I think it’d be really cool.”
Click here to read more...
Platform: Xbox One | Xbox 360
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Going into the press session at Gamescom, I had limited knowledge of Disney Fantasia other than the fact it was being made (oops) but it was hard to ignore the talent behind the development – Harmonix. The team responsible for bringing Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central to life have more than proved their ability to create a unique and, more to the point, fun music-based experience for years now, and so to learn that they were approached by Disney to bring one of their most famous music-focused films to the world of gaming was no surprise.
We were invited to join John Drake, director of communications at Harmonix, for a press presentation of the game in action to learn more about what the game will be about, how it ties into the Fantasia brand, and how the developers plan to take motion-scanning to the next level with their latest project. We also had to chance to ask Drake a few questions after the presentation was done, but with this preview being as giant as it is, we’ll be posting his responses later today. So, let’s begin with a bit of a history lesson…
Drake began the presentation by letting us know how the project started, when Disney Interactive approached the music game genre pioneers to bring the world of Fantasia to life, “Disney came to us two and a half, three years ago,” Drake began, “and they wanted to make Fantasia The Music Game and they wanted us to do it, and we were like ‘That’s awesome.’ And then we spent like a year trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do because it’s a really weird movie.” The 73-year-old film is definitely a hard one to pigeon-hole in terms of what it is exactly, but Harmonix were given a helping hand by Disney to overcome this problem – by being granted access to Walt Disney’s personal archives for the film. “Walt Disney had a lot of money after Snow White, which he made all its money in the theatres, so he hired this army of secretaries to follow him around and write everything that he said down,” Drake said.” So, for Fantasia we have all these notes about story, and art style, and music, and technology, so that was a huge inspiration when trying to figure out what we would be making that [fit with] Walt’s vision.”Click here to read more...
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
At this year's Gamescom, I was invited to join a press session hosted by Terry Michaels, Senior Producer on EQN, to learn a bit more about the upcoming MMO EverQuest Next, which was announced last month during SOE Live. Admittedly, a lot of the information that was shown was already fairly common knowledge, and so if you have yet to learn about what EverQuest Next involves, or just fancy a recap, you can do so by taking a gander at our reveal round-up from last month. Or, for those of you in a hurry, here’s the short version: Everquest Next is a Free-to-play sandbox MMO where players can mix and match class abilities, rip apart the world with spells and abilities to explore four levels of world depth, with each server potentially being unique depending on how players react to its story arcs. Alongside this is EverQuest Next: Landmark – a stand-alone game where players can create their own buildings and landscapes using the same tools as the developers which can then be placed in the main game (or, alternatively, players can sell them as blueprints to others for real money.) There’s a lot more detail not covered in that brief summary (and it’s certainly worth reading up on) but those are the main points.
So with that in mind, we’re going to focus on the new tidbits of information about Landmark that were revealed at Gamescom.
During the reveal we got to see two classes – the Wizard and the Warrior – but up until now we had no idea what class players would be assuming during their time in Landmark at the end of the year. Well, Michaels announced during the press session that it will be the Adventurer class that will be playable in the creation sandbox, and that any progress earned whilst playing (or creating) will transfer over into EQN. This means that, because of the multiclass setup to mix and abilities from various classes, most players should have a strong line-up of actions to perform right off the bat when EQN does go live in the future. Michaels implied that although the main focus of Landmark will be creation and a way for the community to help build the world of Norrath with the developers, it would also be the entry point for the entire EQN experience when it launched later this year.Click here to read more...
Batman: Arkham Origins is shaping up very nicely indeed. The game will see Batman attempting to survive a murderous spot of bounty-stuffed devilry as Black Mask puts a $15 million price on the Dark Knight's head and invites a bunch of the world's finest assassin's to eliminate the Bat on a blizzard-stricken Christmas Eve.
Here's what we said in our Arkham Origins preview:
For fans of the series and of the character, it’s a tantalising prospect. We won’t be certain of the final game’s quality until it’s sitting in our hands, but it certainly looks like WB Montreal are on the right track, and if they can manage to pull together the dynamic, systemic elements together with this mouth-watering narrative proposition and character study through conflict, we’re in for a real treat.
I caught up with creative director, Eric Holmes, at Gamescom this year to have a bit of a chat about how Warner Bros. Montreal have gone about appropriating Rocksteady's award-winning legacy and taking it to the next level; why making a prequel might equate to a fascinating study of Batman's character as he finds himself challenged properly for the first time in his career, given the timeline; and what new elements the team are bringing to the open world, in a Gotham that hasn't quite figured out the Batman just yet.Click here to read more...
Developers: Warner Bros. Montreal
Publishers: Warner Bros. Interactive
The infamous conservative pessimism hit Warner Bros. Montreal square in the jaw when it was announced that Rocksteady would not be making the third game in the Arkham franchise of action-adventure Batman titles. The vocal despair was palpable, and only got worse with the announcements of prequel pretensions and the lack of Kevin Conroy as a titular character. The benefit of the doubt, it would seem, was nowhere to be found.
Still, after getting to grips with Arkham Origins at Gamescom this year, there's no way we're going to be missing out on this one later this year, and if you count yourself as a fan of Rocksteady's games thus far, we rather reckon you're going to want to check out what WB Montreal are bringing to the table.
"It's been a huge responsibility to follow in Rocksteady's footsteps," acknowledged creative director Eric Holmes. "But I think that any trepidation we felt has really been overruled by our enthusiasm for the property. You won't find any bigger fans of those Arkham games than the guys on our team making this one."
There are parallels, certainly. The combat is largely unchanged, and that's a damn good thing. In fact, if anything, it feels a little more robust and impactful. There's a smidgen more crunch in the hits, a little more whomph in the sound of Batman's fists flying through the air in violent slow-motion. And he'll have plenty of fighting to do. It's Christmas Eve, there's a blizzard about, and the number one crime boss in Gotham -- Black Mask -- has put a $15 million bounty out on Batman's head. Given that there's some serious moolah up for grabs, eight of the deadliest assassins in the world have arrived in town, looking to take down the Bat.Click here to read more...
Sony were out in force at the Tokyo Game Show this week, announcing a slimmer PS Vita and the intriguing PS Vita TV micro-console. Elsewhere, Microsoft got a bit annoyed and precious around the 'Xbone' name their new console has attracted. Fans of brilliant multiplayer shooters were rewarded with the news that the Timesplitters project has moved that little bit closer to reality, and Ubisoft announced a slew of new titles at their digital event in Paris.
Jon made the trip across the channel to bring us first-hand reports on some of those new titles including Child of Light, Valiant Hearts: The Great War and the mobile ctOS companion app for Watch Dogs. Elsewhere amongst our features, Matt brings us an interview and dev demo impressions for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which looks like it's going to put Skyrim's buggy head in a bag and toss it off a mountain. Another Gamescom piece sees him chat with the team behind the upcoming XCOM: Enemy Within, that's the good one, not the meh shooter from a few weeks ago.
We've been scrambling to get our reviews finished this week too, as we're pretty sure next week's Grand Theft Auto V is going to shut down all forms of productivity. Speaking of which, we're giving away copies of the game tomorrow night, right here. You can also find links below to our verdicts on Lost Planet 3, Mirror Moon EP, the console version of Diablo III, Puppeteer and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | Xbox One | PS4
Developers: CD Projekt RED
Publishers: CD Projekt
The world is in chaos. The Empire of Nilfgaard ravages the kingdoms to the North and, worse still, there's talk of the Wild Hunt -- a ghostly, ghastly, spectral, deadly force of myth and legend -- being seen, though few have lived to tell of its sighting. The trail goes colder by the day and a grizzled Geralt has little time to tarry or delay. The renowned monster hunter leads are slipping away and the hunt for the Hunt is becoming more and more difficult.
He comes across a cluster of armed men preparing to string up a frail, seemingly innocent woman. His companion urges that they push on. Geralt has other ideas. The men die quickly; the woman is set free. Geralt's response to his questioning companion is simple: "I'm killing monsters," he growls.
Choice and consequence, the uneasy balance balance between morality and necessity, these are the foundations upon which CD Projekt RED's outstanding RPG series -- The Witcher -- has been built. That means choice in combat, choice in exploration, and choice when it comes to dealing with problems, interacting with characters, and often deciding the fates of those you meet, shaping the world around you with your decisions. CD Projekt understand the unique potential of this medium far better than some.
It is for this reason that I was almost shivering with excitement as I sat down to receive 40-minute presentation on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Three-quarters of an hour later, I had dubbed it my game of the show in spite of it being one of the first things I actually saw at Gamescom. In the end, it was only beaten by Titanfall, and that's only because I couldn't get hands-on in this case.Click here to read more...
We love CD Projekt, have we mentioned that before? We love them for their approach to pricing models and battling DRM, for selling us nostalgic offerings that work on modern PCs and for supporting indie development. But we also love them for the games that they make.
CD Projekt RED's Witcher series has given us two exemplary games -- experiences that understand the unique opportunities that our interactive medium can afford, that thrive on player agency, on choices and consequences on binding the player to the narrative experience by delivering a cracking story and allowing players to influence it.
As such, we've been awfully excited to learn more about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so I took some time at Gamescom this year to have a chat with the game's producer Marek Ziemak, to find out how CDPR are really pushing themselves to top the game's critically-acclaimed predecessor with a vast open world, and a greater focus on choice and consequence than ever before.Click here to read more...
If you weren't able to make it over to Cologne for Gamescom last month, CD Projekt RED have helpfully released a video designed to give you a taste of the event. Expect cosplay, pranks, swag, crowds and a few seconds of tantalising The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gameplay to help tide us over until 2014.
Matt and Carl also delivered their own video postcards from Gamescom, one of which lavishes praise onto CD Projekt's upcoming RPG. Be sure to check it out here.Click here to read more...