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Tuesday, Apr 04, 2017

  

Mass Effect: Andromeda Patch This Week

The Mass Effect website outlines "The Journey Ahead in the promised update on plans for Mass Effect: Andromeda. They promise a new version 1.05 patch Thursday which will include quality of life improvements and gameplay changes for the space sequel as detailed in these patch notes. They are also addressing complaints about character animations, so they've brought in Hannibal Chew to work on eyes. They also discuss plans for more cosmetic fixes and gameplay changes to expect over the next couple of months. Here's word:

This Thursday, we’ll release a new patch that addresses technical fixes (crashes, improved performance), but also adds a number of improvements we’ve heard you ask for, such as:

  • Allowing you to skip ahead when travelling between planets in the galaxy map
  • Increasing the inventory limits
  • Improving the appearance of eyes for humans and asari characters
  • Decreasing the cost of remnant decryption keys and making them more accessible at merchants
  • Improving localized voice over lip sync
  • Fixing Ryder’s movements when running in a zig zag pattern
  • Improving matchmaking and latency in multiplayer

There are many more adjustments being made, all of which you can find in our patch notes.

Over the next two months we’ll be rolling out additional patches which will go even deeper and look to improve several areas of the game:

  • More options and variety in the character creator
  • Improvements to hair and general appearance for characters
  • Ongoing improvements to cinematic scenes and animations
  • Improvements to male romance options for Scott Ryder
  • Adjustments to conversations with Hainly Abrams

These upcoming patches will also address performance and stability issues. And we’re looking at adding more cosmetic items to single player for free.

For multiplayer, over the same timeframe, we’re going to continue to build on the APEX missions that have been running since launch. We’ll be adding new maps, characters, and weapons. On Thursday, we kick off the first of three new chapters centered around The Remnant Investigation.

This is just a taste of what’s in store as we continue to support Mass Effect: Andromeda. And as always, you all play an important role in that. We want to hear from you about your experiences, both what you love about the game and what you’d like to see changed. We’re listening, and we’re committed to partnering with you as we continue to explore the Andromeda galaxy together.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Continuum Announced

Activision and Infinity Ward announce Continuum, the second DLC Map Pack for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. This will come to the military shooter first on PlayStation 4 on April 18th, and to other platforms later, presumably in about a month. This will include new multiplayer maps, and the latest chapter in their ongoing zombies saga, featuring Seth Green, Ike Barinholtz, Jay Pharoah, and Sasheer Zamata. Here's a Shaolin Shuffle trailer and here's word on the pack:

Activision and Infinity Ward have released the first details for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Continuum, the second DLC Map Pack for 2016’s No. 1 top-selling console video game in the U.S. (excluding hardware bundle sales), Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Featuring four diverse, new multiplayer maps, and a new zombies co-op experience called Shaolin Shuffle, set in a ‘70s era New York disco-zombie fright fest, Continuum is scheduled for release April 18, first on the PlayStation® Network for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, with other platforms to follow.

Fans can watch a preview of Shaolin Shuffle here: https://youtu.be/JeiLqaPoExc

“We couldn’t be more excited to deliver a new co-op zombies chapter with Shaolin Shuffle, with an all-new setting and story, that continues the wild and increasingly twisted narrative,” said Dave Stohl, Studio Head of Infinity Ward. “For multiplayer, we’re creating a diverse set of maps from Turista and Scrap, to Archive, that cater to various play styles in cool ways and allow fans to experiment with different rigs and loadouts. And then there’s Rust, one of our all-time favorite maps from Modern Warfare® 2, re-imagined and now called Excess to complete the multiplayer package.”

Shaolin Shuffle, the next thrilling chapter of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare zombies experience, features the return of Willard Wyler, the mysterious movie director villain portrayed with voice and likeness by Paul Reubens (Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, Gotham). This time, Wyler has trapped the four protagonists inside a new horror film, set in the unforgettable 1970s. Players will face all-new zombie enemies across a variety of disco-era New York locations, including subways, flashy nightclubs and a martial arts dojo headed up by the “Shaolin Sister,” played with voice and likeness by Pam Grier (Jackie Brown, Foxy Brown). In addition to hallmark Call of Duty action, Shaolin Shuffle introduces four unlockable kung fu fighting styles, each with its own set of unique combat moves. Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Austin Powers) as “the Punk Rocker;” Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors, Suicide Squad) as “the Sleazebag;” Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live, Ride Along) as “the Street Poet;” and Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live, Inside Amy Schumer) as “the Disco Chick,” all return from the ongoing story in this all-new experience.

In addition to the Shaolin Shuffle zombies content, Continuum will also include four new multiplayer maps:

  • Turista – A plush spa and resort, Turista is nestled in the middle of a giant skeleton of an ancient creature. With sniper spots scattered across a majestic, central waterfall, Turista also boasts tight interiors for fans of close-quartered combat and a three-lane design that caters to a variety of play styles.
  • Scrap – Set in an abandoned junkyard on the Moon, Scrap features a combination of extended sightlines and tactical pathways that reward players who engage in both long and short range combat.
  • Archive – Fast, frenetic engagements set the pace in Archive, a post-futurist art gallery where tight engagements contrast with open exterior battlegrounds in this wide three-lane style map.
  • Excess – Perched atop a gilded penthouse in a sprawling future metropolis, Excess is a small, circular map re-imagined from the classic Modern Warfare 2 map, Rust, that retains the intense, fast-paced combat from the original.

Continue here to read the full story.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Visual Update

The Sins of a Solar Empire forums have details on a new patch that's now live in Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, updating the 4X space strategy game to version 1.9. This marks the fifth anniversary of the series, and takes the occasion to modernize the game's graphics a bit, and they further celebrate by putting it on sale on the Stardock Store and on Steam. They shows off how that looks in this trailer, and these patch notes outline all the changes. Here's a bit:

With the latest upgrade the game engine can now access twice the previous memory allowing for improved rendering, extreme textures, and more content. Modders can now focus on their creations instead of worrying about reaching the previous limit. Every existing mod will now benefit from all the rendering and performance improvements automatically.

Highlights include:

  • Improved rendering for 4K with extreme textures, shadows, and more
  • Scaleable User Interface for 4K monitors
  • Improved modding capabilities
  • Refined AI for better gameplay
  • Free update

Numerous performance enhancements make for better battles and a better late game experience. Adjustments to the AI make for more challenging and engaging gameplay overall, and support for user interface scaling has the game looking its best ever.

Continue here to read the full story.

LEGO City Undercover Released

LEGO City Undercover is now available for Windows and newer consoles, offering the chance to put on a blocky mustache and go on some stakeouts. A launch trailer is now here as well, showing off the games wacky action and familiar pop culture references. Here's the news:

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games and The LEGO Group® today announced the launch of LEGO® CITY Undercover™, an action-packed adventure where players must assume the identity of undercover police officer, Chase McCain, and track down the fiendish Rex Fury to finally put an end to his city-wide crime wave. Developed by TT Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, LEGO CITY Undercover is now available for the Nintendo Switch™, PlayStation®4, Xbox One® and PC.

LEGO CITY Undercover allows both longtime fans and newcomers alike to explore the sprawling, open-world metropolis that is LEGO® CITY with more than 20 unique districts to investigate, filled with car thieves to bust, vehicles to navigate, mischievous aliens to capture, lost pigs to rescue and of course, hundreds of collectibles. For the first time, LEGO CITY Undercover will feature a two-player cooperative mode for gamers to track down criminals as a team.

“Between solving crimes in the hilarious original storyline and exploring the vast open-world city, LEGO CITY Undercover is the perfect game for friends and families to play together,” said Tom Stone, Managing Director, TT Games.

As a man of many talents, Chase McCain has eight disguises to choose from, each with unique skills and abilities to infiltrate every corner of the city and access places only he can. Chase is joined by officer Frank Honey, Chief of Police Dunby and paramedic Natalia Kowalski, who are just a few of the more than 300 unlockable and playable characters that gamers will meet throughout their adventure. With 15 special assignments to complete, the game brings together witty, original storytelling with signature LEGO humor to create a fun-filled experience for players of all ages.

Continue here to read the full story.

Quake Champions Trailer

Bethesda Softworks offers this trailer from Quake Champions, showing off some raw multiplayer footage from id Software's upcoming arena shooter. They also offer some first details on the game's first major tournament at QuakeCon 2017 and how it is possible to qualify:

QUAKECON BYOC OPEN QUALIFIER
Bethesda will be hosting the first major esports tournament for Quake Champions at this year’s Quakecon in Dallas. We’ll reveal more details about the tournament at E3.

While we’re not ready to talk in detail, we are announcing that one of the ways players can qualify for the Duel portion of the tournament is by competing in an open qualifier that will be held in the Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) area of Quakecon, August 24-27, in Dallas, TX. Competitors who want a shot at competing versus the best in the world should make sure they secure their BYOC seat when they go on sale April 13 via the Quakecon web site.

OK, ON TO THE VIDEO!
Below you’ll find a video offering a sneak peek at raw gameplay, showcasing Anarki shredding Blood Covenant at insane speeds and making patently absurd shots. Shout out to ZeRo4 for showing us how it’s done.

Continue here to read the full story.

Prey Trailer

Weapons, gadgets, and gear in Prey are the topics of a new update on the upcoming shooter remake that also includes a new video covering those same subjects. Here's how they sum things up:

Talos I might be a dangerous place, but with these weapons, gadgets and gear at your disposal, you’ll have a fighting chance against the Typhon threat. There’s much more aboard the space station as well – from unlockable alien abilities to weapon/gadget upgrades to fabrication plans for a wide range of items – but that’s for you to discover when Prey releases on May 5, 2017 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Continue here to read the full story.

New Heroes of the Storm Hero; Loot Chest Updates

A new patch is now live in Heroes of the Storm, updating Blizzard's MOBA to version 24.4. This includes the new hero, Cassia, though none of the version 2.0 interface changes currently in testing on the PTR. This post outlines Cassia's talents and offers the spotlight trailer showing them off. Here's word on the game's new wonder woman: "After shattering the Worldstone, the young Amazon Cassia had changed. She had seen hatred, terror, and destruction firsthand. If the Askari were to survive the coming darkness, they needed an army. She would begin their training immediately." And speaking of the PTR, a separate post announces that in response to feedback, Blizzard is going to do some bench presses to build up their veteran loot chests. They're adding an Epic Loot Chest level and upping the ante for experienced players. Here are some details:

Loot Chest Adjustments
If you’ve finished at least one Heroes of the Storm match before 2.0 is released, you’re going to receive five Common Loot Chests—but that’s just the beginning. Additionally, we’ve replaced all of the Common and Rare Loot Chests awarded at every 10 and 25 Player Levels (as outlined in our previous announcement) with Epic Loot Chests. Each Epic Loot Chest guarantees at least one item of Epic rarity, or higher, and you’ll receive up to 55 of them based on your converted Player Level after the Heroes 2.0 release.

PLAYER LEVEL REWARDS
Completed at least 1 Heroes match: 5 Loot Chests
Every 10 Player Levels: +1 Epic Loot Chest (55 maximum)
Every 100 Player Levels: +1 Veteran Loot Chest (10 maximum)

Veteran Loot Chests
Our most dedicated players will receive special “Veteran Chests” that contain five coins, rather than four, and guarantee at least one Legendary item per chest. Veteran Chests are a unique type of Loot Chest we’ve created specifically for our most dedicated players as part of the Heroes 2.0 launch, and cannot be earned through progression in the new system. Like the Epic Loot Chest rewards above, the number of Veteran Chests you will receive is based on your total, converted Player Level in the new progression system.

30 Day Stimpack
In order to give you a boost heading into our newly revamped progression system, players who reached level 40 prior to Heroes of the Storm 2.0 will also receive a 30-Day Stimpack! The 100% XP bonus it offers means you’ll level up and unlock Loot Chests even faster!

Continue here to read the full story.

New Paragon Hero

Morigesh is the newest hero in Paragon after a new version .39 update that went live today in Epic's MOBA. In addition to the new hero this includes a revamped jungle and some new visuals. These notes have all the details on the patch, and this post has further details on the visual update and the new jungle landscape. Here's a Morigesh cinematic launch trailer, and here's more on some of the changes:

You may notice a few map changes coming to Monolith with the release of v.39. First, these are not the only map and visuals changes on the way. Improving the visual quality of Monolith will continue in the months ahead but you’ll notice these initial visual enhancements and changes in just a few days.

Some of you on high settings or PS4 Pros will notice foliage growing once again (yay, grass!) Everyone will be able to view the new structural texturing that is more in line with the direction we’re heading. These structural changes will replace the visuals we were temporarily using with the release of Monolith in December.

The other major changes you’ll notice are those in the Jungle. The layout has been redesigned to improve:

  1. Layout flow, jungle camp spacing, and the Amber Link location.
  2. Improve the entrance and exit location readability.
  3. Improve combat spaces, tight corners.

Continue here to read the full story.

League of Legends Champs on PBE

Rounding out the MOBA hero news, the League of Legends website has the reveal of two new champions, Xayah and Rakan. They are already live on the PBE, and there's a livestream on Twitch showing both characters in action and featuring commentary from the designers. There's no word yet on when they will launch in the live game.

GRIP Multiplayer Launches

Multiplayer play is now part of GRIP, the futuristic combat racer for Windows that's currently racing through early access on Steam. They offer a multiplayer launch trailer and invite everyone to join their Discord server as a way to find multiplayer games. Here's word from this post on some of the changes:

  • MULTIPLAYER!
  • NEW Car! Cygon Tempest. This is a tank class vehicle, and the fastest car in the game.
  • NEW Racetrack! Norvos Acrophobia. This track is high up in the mountains, and takes some serious skill to compete on. Hardest track in the game thus far
  • Improved vehicle handling, which allows for more natural drifting
  • Better vehicle stabilty and collision. Improved suspension model. Players should experience less general unwanted bouncing. Improved downforce calculation
  • Pickups rebalanced to have less EMPs spawn, less force/damage from Raptor bullets, less damage from mines, rockets
  • Improved resetting functionality
  • Improved vehicle damage effects as well as others
  • Added and improved various sound effects, including a "whoosh" sound when passing various objects on the track
  • Full 21:9 resolution (please let us know if you still cannot use your desired screen res)
  • Fixed skipping checkpoints and resetting across the map issues
  • Explodable barrels removed from Time Trial
  • The game now loads more quickly, taking up a bit more HDD space
  • Added preliminary support for light-up keyboards
  • Various fixes and improvements!

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

  • DARK SOULS III on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Dishonored 2 on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Golf With Your Friends on Steam. Save 35%.
  • Orcs Must Die! Sale on Steam. Save up to 90%.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion on Steam. Save 75%.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Cheat Maker Owes Blizzard $8.5M

TorrentFreak reports Blizzard Entertainment has won a copyright infringement case against German company Bossland over selling game cheats (thanks BBC News). The judgment awards Blizzard over $8.5 million in damages, though it's not clear if the defendant has the cash to pay that. The cheat maker is also now prohibited from marketing or selling products in the United States. Bossland did not defend itself, but has previously said it would continue the legal battle after the issue of a default judgment, as noted in this excerpt:

As a result, the court grants the statutory copyright damages Blizzard requested for 42,818 violations within the United States, totaling $8,563,600. In addition, the game developer is entitled to $174,872 in attorneys’ fees.

To prevent further damage, Bossland is also prohibited from marketing or sellings its cheats in the United States. This applies to hacks including “Honorbuddy,” “Demonbuddy,”
“Stormbuddy,” “Hearthbuddy,” and “Watchover Tyrant,” as well as any other software designed to exploit Blizzard games.

While its a hefty judgment, the order doesn’t really come as a surprise given that the German cheat maker failed to defend itself.

Bossland CEO Zwetan Letschew previously informed TorrentFreak that his company would continue the legal battle after the issue of a default judgment. Whatever the outcome, the cheats will remain widely available outside of the US for now.

Steam Discovery Changes Will "Fight Fake Games"

TotalBiscuit and The Jimquisition recently visited Valve to share thoughts with on Steam issues. Valve is continuing with their efforts to improve discovery and to stomp out what they call "fake games." They are looking to rely even more on community efforts to shape up the marketplace, planning a new layer of influencers called Steam Explorers. Kotaku has a summary of points made in case you don't want to sit through the videos, though this means you will miss out on TB's auction calling and Jim's der Führer impression. Here are some of the things they highlight:

  • Valve is about to overhaul Steam in order to ensure that good games are visible and lazily developed games created for the purpose of making a quick buck—which Valve apparently calls “fake games”—sink beneath a sea of algorithms. They’ve already laid the groundwork, which is why they recently announced Steam Direct.
  • The problem with this system, of course, is that it risks burying a handful of good games, as well. To combat this issue, Valve is going to introduce a program called Steam Explorers. Explorers will play through queues of games that haven’t been selling super well. If they dig a game, they can flag it. The more games get flagged, the more the algorithmic gods will smile upon them.
  • Anybody will be able to be an Explorer, much like Steam Curators. They’ll also get their own forum, so they can do things like arrange multiplayer matches in games that nobody else is playing.
  • Speaking of Curators, that system is getting overhauled too. Valve will be adding functionality like embedded videos, top ten lists, and different types of sorting. Developers will also be able to give game keys directly to curators within Steam, as opposed to doing so via email or other means outside Steam (which has led to confusion, attempted fraud, and other issues).
  • Curators will also be given more info about how their curations affect games’ sales, and Valve is considering ways to incentivize Curators to keep at it. Payment might even be an option.
  • Valve admitted that so-called “fake games” make the bulk of their money off Steam trading cards, something that’s been long theorized but never confirmed. As a result, Valve will be changing the trading card system so that doing so is no longer an option.

Gearbox: More Duke? No. More Bulletstorm? Maybe

There is an interview with Gearbox Publishing on DualShockers talking about future plans in a conversation from PAX East 2017 (thanks PCGamesN). The main focus is Bulletstorm, but the inclusion of Duke Nukem in the shooter inspired a question about future Duke games. Gearbox's Vincent Slaven answers that a new Bulletstorm game is a possibility, but he throws cold water on a new Duke Nukem game to follow Duke Nukem Forever. Here's the exchange:

DS: Is that also kind of a way that Duke could also come back in a new game of his? Is this a way for you guys to gauge interest in bringing him back for a new Duke Nukem game?

VS:
Not so much. It’s pretty much like Meredith said that we were trying to think of things we could add to give more value to the customer: Duke Nukem came about [in Bulletstorm] because they were so similar.

But, kind of in relation to your question, this Full Clip Edition is more or less a way to do that — because People Can Fly own the rights to the franchise fully — and they want to do more with it. And so they are kind of like — because game development is so expensive — they want to put this out to see like “Do people still want Bulletstorm?” Is there like a different climate now that would be more receptive? And if it is, there is definitely, probably gonna be an option for a Bulletstorm 2 following this.

So it’s kind of not related but — Duke Nukem 2… no, but Bulletstorm 2, I think: maybe.

Serious Sam VR: The Second Encounter Released

Croteam announces the release of Serious Sam VR: The Second Encounter, offering the chance to go through a bazillion bullets in virtual reality in a remake of the old school shooter. Here's the blurb from Steam News: "Serious Sam VR: The Second Encounter is a sequel to Serious Sam VR: The First Encounter - frantic arcade action FPS, featuring singleplay and co-op campaign, various multiplayer modes, all presented in glorious VR and with different locomotion movements." Here's more on the game from its Steam listing:

KEY FEATURES:
Serious Sam Fusion 2017 integration - receive free updates for this game through the central hub. Oh, and play cross-platform with players of the "flat" version to find out what's the ultimate combo: hi-tech motion controllers or good old keyboard & mouse

Moves like Jagger - Serious Sam VR: The Second Encounter features a built-in (blink) teleportation system that allows you to move quickly and avoid charging enemies with the help of Sam's translocator device. You can tweak and adjust the way you move through VR space to best suit your playing style by using our own Serious Warp (TM) locomotion. Feeling much more hardcore than that? Use the smooth trackpad/analog stick movement and go full locomotion.

Not another single-weapon game – Keyboards are for typing, so keep your fingers off. Grab a weapon, one for each hand, and boost your stopping power with Sam's new toys: Sniper Rifle, Flamethrower and Chainsaw! Use different weapon combinations or dual-wield two of the same to defeat Mental or use your arsenal in a deathmatch against "flat peasants".

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Congrats to redacted for beating redacted in the NCAA finals. Posting it that way not only allows me to avoid spoiling the outcome for anyone who DVRed the game, but it also means I don't have to look up who won, since March Madness isn't my thing. Of course last night would qualify as April Madness, but either way, I'm not mad, bro.

Mad Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Famous Movies Parodies.
Stories: Philip Baker Hall is your favorite actor whose name you can’t quite place. Lieutenant Bookman! Thanks RedEye9.
Science: Graphene-based sieve turns seawater into drinking water.
Brain cancer patients live longer wearing electric cap designed to zap tumors.
Would Neil deGrasse Tyson ever take SpaceX to Mars? Only if Elon Musk’s mom does it first.
Media: asdfmovie10.
Rogue One: A Tatooine Story. Spoilery.
This ≠ That.



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