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Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017

  

A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia Announced

SEGA and Creative Assembly announce A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia, the first game in the new A Total War Saga series spinoff of the original Total War franchise. The title had us initially thinking this may be tied into the classic RPG series Ultima, but this is set in the historical Britannia of the ninth century. This is coming next year, but its Steam page is already online keeping tabs on its progress. There's also an announcement trailer, but this is all cinematics and exposition. Here's the news:

SEGA® Europe Ltd. today announced the new historical strategy game Thrones of Britannia, the first title in the new 'A Total War™ Saga' series from its studio, Creative Assembly.

It is 878 AD, and the Viking Invasion of Britain is over. The Norse warlords are firmly established, but the ambitious kings of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have aspirations of their own – not least the great King Alfred of Wessex. Britannia is a furnace of possibilities, from which the template for modern Britain will be forged, across the most detailed Total War campaign map ever made.

"Our aim with Total War Sagas is to explore key flashpoints at distinct places and times in history", said Series Director, Mike Simpson. "Unlike our era-spanning titles, we're putting defined geographical areas under the microscope, building super-detailed campaign maps with a strong cultural focus and flavour that players can dive into. This will complement our broader-scope titles perfectly".

Continue here to read the full story.

StarCraft II Free-to-Play Launch

The StarCraft II website now reflects the start of the free-to-play era for Blizzard's sci-fi RTS sequel. This covers the Wings of Liberty episode, and as noted this morning, Blizzard is giving owners of that campaign a free copy of Heart of the Swarm. And for those who enjoy seasoning their games with a bit of salt, Polygon notes a series of tweets from Blizzard poking fun at the controversy surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II progression. These patch notes cover changes implemented today, and this previous post discusses the free-to-play plan:

Starting November 14, you’ll have free access to the original Wings of Liberty single-player campaign and every Co-op Commander, and will be able to unlock access to StarCraft II’s competitive multiplayer content for free. Here is a specific rundown of everything that will be available to you for free:

  • The original Wings of Liberty campaign. Experience the original epic campaign that kicked off the StarCraft II saga! If you picked up Wings of Liberty previously but haven’t come back to StarCraft II in a while, we’ve got good news for you too—if you purchased Wings of Liberty prior to October 31, 2017, you’ll receive the second installment in StarCraft II’s campaign, the zerg-focused Heart of the Swarm, as a limited time offer from November 8 to December 8. Make sure to log in during that window to claim it!
  • You will be able to access the ranked multiplayer ladder to compete with other players to become the best of the best, complete with all of the multiplayer units from Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void. All you have to do to unlock it permanently is earn 10 First Wins of the Day in Unranked or Versus A.I. play—our way to preserve the quality and integrity of the ranked experience.
  • Current and upcoming Co-op Commanders are available to play for free up to level five, and the level restriction for weekly mutations has been removed. You’ll be able to tackle these extra challenging missions with your friends right away. The Co-op Commanders Raynor, Kerrigan, and Artanis will remain completely free, meaning that you can keep leveling them to your heart’s content.

In other words, you can now play all of StarCraft II’s multiplayer, every Co-op Commander, and the entire first campaign in the single-player story, for free.

Play Rainbow Six Siege for Free This Weekend

Ubisoft announces a free weekend for Rainbow Six Siege will run from November 16th to November 19th, offering the chance to check out the shooter for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. They also announce Operation White Noise will deploy on their test server on November 20th, giving owners of the game the chance to play the latest content for Year 2 Season 4. This trailer celebrates all the news, and the announcement has more details:

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six® Siege will be available to play for free from November 16th to November 19th, 2017. Interested players can join the more than 20 million player Rainbow Six Siege community on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC via Uplay and Steam.

The game will be on sale up to 50% off from November 16th to November 27th, 2017. Players who try the game during the free weekend can carry over their progress and continue to play uninterrupted.

The latest content from Year 2 Season 4, Operation White Noise, will deploy on the Technical Test Server (PC) on November 20th, 2017.

Operation White Noise features a new map set in a sky high observation tower above Seoul’s skyline in South Korea. Three new operators are joining the fray, including two members of South Korea’s 707th Special Mission Battalion and a new Operator from Poland’s GROM.

Additional details for Operation White Noise will be unveiled during the Pro League Finals on November 19th, 2017. To get a first look at Operation White Noise gameplay, tune into the livestream at 8PM UK time on: https://www.twitch.tv/rainbow6

To get all the latest news on Rainbow Six Siege, please visit: https://rainbow6.ubisoft.com

Continue here to read the full story.

Killing Floor: Incursion Vive Version and Patch Released

Tripwire Interactive announces the release of Killing Floor: Incursion for HTC Vive, offering the virtual reality shooter that's already available for Oculus Rift. The Vive version also marks the release of a new DLC update that brings some of its additions and changes to the Rift edition. Everything is available on Steam, where this post explains what's new, and offers this launch trailer. Here's word:

Tripwire Interactive, developers of the award-winning Red Orchestra and Killing Floor franchises, announced today that Killing Floor: Incursion is now available for HTC VIVE and is available for purchase on Steam for $39.99 USD. In addition to today’s launch on Steam, a new downloadable content update is now available to current owners of Killing Floor: Incursion on Oculus Rift. The update highlights include a new Hardcore difficulty setting, Katana weapon, leaderboards, achievements, and the exciting new “Holdout” game mode, which finds players defending a random location in one of the game’s maps against increasingly deadly hordes of Zeds in a frenetic, arcade-like action experience.

Continue here to read the full story.

PC Injustice 2 Released

WBIE and DC Entertainment announce the launch of the Windows edition of Injustice 2, the DC comics brawler sequel. This is available from the Microsoft Store and Steam. The Injustice 2 website is where to go for everything you need to know about the game, and the announcement covers the release of the game as well as DLC availability:

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today announced that the top-selling and critically acclaimed videogame Injustice 2 is available now for PC via Steam and the Microsoft Store. Originally developed by NetherRealm Studios, Injustice 2 has been adapted for PC by QLOC and will allow PC players to experience the super-powered hit game featuring Justice League characters Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, as well as other iconic DC characters such as Harley Quinn and Green Arrow.

All DLC currently available for Injustice 2 on consoles (Red Hood, Sub Zero, Starfire, Black Manta, and Raiden) are available now for the PC version through the PC Injustice 2 Ultimate Edition, Injustice 2 Ultimate Pack, or Fighter Pack #1 and Fighter Pack #2. The latest Hellboy DLC, released today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One X, and Xbox One, will be available at a later date.

Developed by the award-winning NetherRealm Studios, Injustice 2 features a massive roster of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains and allows players to build and power up the ultimate version of their favorite DC characters. Players can fight their way across an epic Story Mode, ever-changing Multiverse and online multiplayer guilds - all while earning rare and valuable gear to fully customize their characters.

Far Cry 5 Shows off Virtual Montana

The Far Cry series is moving to Montana soon, though there is no word on whether Far Cry 5 will allow you to play as a dental floss tycoon. It will allow you to explore a virtual version of the state, however, and UbiBlog has details on the work going into the environment. The post includes this trailer on the project, and a lot of details. Here's an excerpt:

Far Cry is as much about capturing natural beauty as it is about explosive mayhem, and with Far Cry 5, the bar for re-creating the wilderness is especially high. Unlike the fictional Kyrat or Rook Islands, Montana’s forests, farmlands, and highways will feel familiar to a lot of players – and that means the developers needed to accurately capture every detail, from the wildlife to the logos on roadside shops to the bark on trees, to make Hope County feel like a convincing place.

“We needed to change the way we prepared ourselves,” says Isaac Papismado, graphic assistant on Far Cry 5. “In the past, we used the internet, we used a lot of secondary sources, books, things like that. Whereas now, we really want to go onsite with a team with cameras, and get as much as we can.”

That meant taking a series of trips to Montana, during which the developers trekked into small towns and wilderness locations. They got to know Montana’s ecosystem, wildlife, and people, and took thousands of photos, many of which were used to re-create the landscape in a process called photogrammetry. Using photogrammetry, objects like trees, vegetation, buildings, and even people are photographed from multiple angles and scanned to create lifelike 3D objects. This technique led not only to some of the most detailed environments Far Cry has seen to date, but to a few surprises that made their way into the story.

Continue here to read the full story.

Duelyst Immortal Vanguard Expansion

BANDAI NAMCO announces the release of Immortal Vanguard, a new expansion for Duelyst, their Windows and macOS virtual card strategy game. Like the game itself, the add-on is free, and it's available through the Duelyst website or Steam. This post details the new cards, emotes, icons, and gameplay changes this includes, and the announcement gives an overview:

Today, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. and Counterplay Games have launched Immortal Vanguard, the newest expansion for Duelyst, the ultimate tactical collectible card game with lightning fast matches and infinite depth. The expansion introduces new Generals, Minions, Spells and Artifacts, as well as a “Build” mechanic. Immortal Vanguard and Duelyst are available now as free downloads on Steam or on Duelyst.com.

Immortal Vanguard delivers six new generals for players to add into their collections, with one general being added per faction. This is the first group of generals to be introduced to Duelyst since the game launched in April of last year, and includes Lyonar, Abyssian, Magmar and Songhai, among others. Each general commands a new unique bloodbound spell, and has synergy with the more than 100 new cards being introduced into the game, which include new spells and minions. Additionally, Immortal Vanguard is adding new Mech units to the game for the first time since launch, and introducing the “Build” mechanic, which allows a minion to be built during a round.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Released

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is now available for Windows on Steam, offering the first PC game in the long-running farm simulation series. The 20 year history preceding this game and its release is interesting, and more than a little complicated, and there's an interview on PC Gamer that explains all the hows and whys. Back to the game itself, this launch trailer offers a look at gameplay, and here are details from the launch announcement:

In Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, players begin the game as they set out looking for a fresh start and new surroundings. During their voyage, their ship is hit by a monsoon and goes down. As they drift into a small harbor town, now in shambles from the storm, it will be up to the player to help rebuild the town and save the lighthouse...but it won't be easy! Nevertheless, with some hard work growing crops, tending livestock, and gathering materials for repairs, players will be able to make new friends, start a family, revive the lighthouse, and save the town!

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope includes new features such as repairing, which enables the player to repair destroyed homes and unlock new shops, characters, farming tools, and farming land. The Farming Friend is another new addition, which helps players grow abundant crops. The game has a retro plus feel, with classic SNES-inspired graphics alongside some modern features in honor of the 20th anniversary. There will also be some familiar faces from previous Harvest Moon titles!

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope let's players:

  • Collect important materials to rebuild the town and restore the lighthouse!
  • Complete requests from villagers to unlock new areas and items!
  • Attend new and unique festivals, including the Dog Racing Festival!
  • Learn to grow and mutate crops with user friendly UI and tutorials!
  • Play as a boy or a girl, get married, and start a family!

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Another Star Wars Battlefront II Progression Follow-up

A post on GameInformer explains why they are still crafting their Star Wars Battlefront II review, shedding additional light on the controversy over the game's grind/payment system to unlock characters (thanks GameWatcher). Yesterday EA announced they were reducing the credits required to unlock characters by 75%. This implies that these unlocks could be earned 75% quicker, but it turns out they also quietly made it harder to earn those credits in the first place, so it's not as straightforward as that. Here's word:

Due to last-second changes to Star Wars Battlefront II's hero costs, I decided to hold my review, and won't post it until I have firm grasp on the new flow of the game. Electronic Arts clearly heard the uproar from the gaming community about the inflated costs of heroes, and slashed their prices by 75 percent. This is not a small tweak. It completely changes my take on the game – moving from an evil time sink to potentially reasonable. I need to dive back into all of the modes to see if any other changes were made.

For instance, during my review, completing the campaign earned players a unique loot crate that contained 20,000 credits. That reward is now 5,000 credits. A big change. What else is different? I need to find out. One thing I hope EA is addressing is Arcade rewards; after completing five challenges, I was alerted that I could no longer earn credits in this mode and that more would be available in 14 hours.

COD Points System and Emblem Editor Delayed

The new Call of Duty: WW2 patch notes reveal a delay to the promised Emblem Editor for the military shooter sequel. Word is: "Because most of our players are using a mouse & keyboard we wanted to take advantage of that, particularly for the UX around Emblem Editor. Therefore, we are taking some extra time to apply some more polish into the feature before releasing it on PC. The Emblem Editor is planned to be released in December, but stay tuned for more details on what PC specific features we are adding." Also, Activision Support tweets about a delay to the launch of COD Points system for Call of Duty WWII (thanks MP1ST). It's not clear from the announcement whether this is because they are still addressing launch issues, if they are just staying in their foxhole while bullets are still flying over the Star Wars Battlefront II loot system, or something else. But they do say the launch will include some bonus spacebux when it launches a week from today:

As an update to an earlier announcement, the COD Points live date has been shifted to November 21. As a digital edition owner, your bonus of 1,100 CP will be awarded at that time. Thank you for your patience.

StarCraft II: How Wings of Liberty Owners Can Claim their Free Heart of the Swarm

With StarCraft II Wings of Liberty going free-to-play later today, the StarCraft II website has details on now those who already own the first part of the StarCraft II trilogy can claim a free copy of Heart of the Swarm:

If you are a Wings of Liberty owner, you can claim the Heart of the Swarm campaign for free as a token of our appreciation. You’ll find our special gift to you in the new My Gifts tab of your Blizzard Battle.net app.

To claim your free gift:

  • Open the Blizzard Battle.net desktop app.
  • Click the glowing Gift button located next to your BattleTag on the upper right.
  • Click Claim. A notification will pop-up when you have new Gifts to claim.

You can also claim through the Gift tab in the Blizzard Battle.net mobile app.

Make sure to claim your gift by December 8, before it disappears, and thanks for your continued support of StarCraft II!

Road Rage Peels Out

Maximum Games announces the release of Road Rage, a new open-world motorcycle racing game from developer Team6 for Windows and consoles. This launch trailer offers a look, and the announcement explains what to expect:

Leading video game publisher Maximum Games has launched Road Rage, the open-world motorcycle action game from independent developer Team6 Game Studios. It is available today as a boxed product at major retailers and digitally on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One and Windows PC for $29.99.

Road Rage is an over-the-top motorcycle racer and brawler in which players climb the ranks of an outlaw gang in a city run by crime. Beat down rival gang members with an arsenal of hard-hitting weapons while pushing your ride to the limit in high-speed competitions, leaving the authorities in your dust across over 90 story and side missions. Take your winnings and enhance your bike’s performance with a variety of customizable upgrades to cruise in style through this far-reaching and dangerous open world.

You’ll explore a variety of neighborhoods in the city of Ashen as you seek out ways to battle and hustle your way to victory. Take no prisoners in this knock-down, drag-out, high-speed joyride, available today on PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC!

Continue here to read the full story.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Matchmaking Changes

The Counter-Strike blog announces the end of Operation Hydra is nigh in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They outline a bunch of changes coming to the multiplayer shooter, saying some aspects of the event will remain in place, including the Wingman system and the War Games format. They also detail changes to the competitive map pool and casual map groups. They also announce changes coming to the game's matchmaking system. Here's a bit from that:

A Matter of Trust
So what if the Prime system was re-imagined using a wider range of factors? We started with that question, and have been experimenting with matching players using observed behaviors and attributes of their Steam account, including the overall amount of time they had spent playing CS:GO, how frequently they were reported for cheating, time spent playing other games on their Steam account, etc. We call this system Trust, and these factors considered together form a player’s Trust Factor.

The results of the experiment have been positive. In matches created using Trust Factor, most players ended up generating fewer reports regardless of their Prime status.

We wanted to keep the best parts of Prime and ditch the parts that cause problems in the CS:GO community. Starting today, players will, by default, enter matchmaking using their Trust Factor rather than their Prime status and in the short term, players with Prime status can still choose to match using the old system.

Wireless HTC Vive Focus Details

SlashGear has details on the HTC Vive Focus, a new version of the VR headset that eliminates the wires without the need for a mobile phone (thanks [H]ardOCP). This video shows us what this looks like, though there's no word yet on when to expect a release. Here's a bit on the plan:

The HTC Vive Focus features a high-resolution AMOLED screen alongside a Snapdragon 835 VR Platform. HTC boasts that its model is the first of its kind to feature an inside-out 6-degree-of-freedom tracking tech otherwise known as 6DoF. Focus uses an open platform called Wave VR and can access the Viveport VR content.

The HTC Focus aims to offer something like the best of both current VR worlds — you get a premium experience as with higher end virtual reality headsets, but with the same portability as things like Gear VR that use a phone to eliminate wires. By eliminating both the PC and the phone requirements, users aren’t dependent on any other device for their VR experiences.

Continue here to read the full story.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 Released

WBIE announces the release of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 for Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch. Here's a launch trailer, and here's word on the superhero/toy mashup and its season pass: 

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, The LEGO Group and Marvel Entertainment today announced the launch of LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes 2, an original, humor-filled sequel to the critically acclaimed blockbuster game, LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes. In this all-new, epic adventure, the time-travelling Super Villain Kang the Conqueror has stolen numerous Marvel cities and locations ripped from time and space to form the expansive Open Hub World of Chronopolis. To foil Kang’s diabolical plans, an elite team of Super Heroes must band together in cosmic battle that takes players on an exciting journey across the Marvel Universe. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developed by TT Games in partnership with The LEGO Group and Marvel Entertainment, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is now available for PlayStation®4, Xbox One®, Nintendo Switch™ and PC.

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Patches

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Op Ed

The Real Problem with 'Games as Service' Isn't the Microtransactions - WIRED.
"And yet I worry that the shift away from those open-world games to ones that try to keep players locked in with buyable weapons and power-ups will lead to fewer titles like Final Fantasy XI. (Final Fantasy XV is already becoming a type of a service game.) I worry that, in the push toward making games that can be broken up into a series of profitable chunks, game design that emphasizes sprawling geographies will be left by the wayside by major developers. I fear that big-budget places, with all of their majesty and complexity, might get cast aside. I worry that, one day, gaming might run out of travel stories to tell."

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

So there's a funny side to MrsBlue's not-funny injury I mentioned the other day. The purpose of her splint is to keep her middle finger pushed upwards compared to the surrounding digits (the opposite of clenching it), presumably to provide enough slack for her ruptured sagittal band to heal. This means while she's wearing it, which is constantly, she is basically always flipping the bird. And in spite of Jerry's famous "no hugging, no learning" mantra for Seinfeld, we know that there are many life lessons to be learned from show. In this case the lesson for her would be to be careful where she points her wounded mitt at gas stations, lest she end up being chased all over by an irate George Costanza and a mystified Danny Tartabull.

Flipping Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Dynamons Evolution.
Science: Bill Gates joins the fight against Alzheimer’s — and it’s personal.
FDA approves digital pill that tracks when patients take it.
Media: What To Do If Your Parachute Fails. Thanks Boing Boing.
Adam Savages Meets Real-Life Iron Man Jetpack Suit.
How do you film a tank shell in flight or nuclear bomb test?



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