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Tuesday, Feb 05, 2019

  

EA's "Difficult Quarter" Financials

Electronic Arts Reports Q3 FY19 Financial Results has the company's results for the period ending December 31, 2018. It can sometimes be difficult to tell whether such reports are positive or negative through the spin, but EA CEO Andrew Wilson comes right out and admits this was a "difficult quarter" for the company:

“The video game industry continues to grow through a year of intense competition and transformational change,” said CEO Andrew Wilson. "Q3 was a difficult quarter for Electronic Arts and we did not perform to our expectations. We are now applying the strengths of our company to sharpen our execution and focus on delivering great new games and long-term live services for our players. We’re very excited about Apex Legends, the upcoming launch of Anthem, and a deep line-up of new experiences that we’ll bring to our global communities next fiscal year."

"FIFA stands out as a robust franchise through a tumultuous year in the video game industry,” said COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen. “Elsewhere in the business, we’re making adjustments to improve execution and we’re refocusing R&D. Looking forward, we’re delighted to launch Anthem, our new IP, to grow Apex Legends and related Titanfall experiences, to deliver new Plants vs. Zombies and Need for Speed titles, and to add Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to our sports titles in the fall."

Left 4 Dead 3 Left for Dead?

A new video titled What Happened to Left 4 Dead 3 attempts to answer this question about the co-op zombie shooter sequel. The clip is the latest output of the Valve News Network, devoted to divining the mysteries of what Valve is doing to make up for the company's Sphinx-like communication skills. In this case, that tight-lipped nature means the game was never announced in the first place, so they first must recap all the leaks and other evidence that a third Left 4 Dead game was actually in the works. They also have details on what the new game was like, noting that gameplay was so different from the first two L4D games that it probably would have carried an entirely different title to avoid upsetting fans. This involved impactful character choices, a branching storyline, and asymmetrical multiplayer that mixed players using traditional monitors with those using virtual reality. Their understanding is that sometime in late 2016, early 2017 the project caused a split in the company between those who wanted L4D3 (or whatever they would have called it) to be the first true showcase game for Source Engine 2 and those who just wanted to, like so many other developers, just use Epic's Unreal Engine. The argument against completing Source 2 was that even if they put in the time and effort required to finish the new version of the game engine, it would still be so poorly optimized that the game would be too bloated to release on consoles. Word is this engine choice conundrum was the game's undoing, as no consensus could be found: "It's done. No one's working on it. They couldn't reach an agreement. And so the entire game just fell apart due to lack of any kind of help on this version of the game." Here's the sad conclusion they draw: "But Left 4 Dead 3 was cancelled in late 2016 or early 2017 because the team couldn't make a decision on exactly what engine they were going to continue developing. And so an almost finished game, only needing the final pass of art and voice acting, was cancelled, and never to be seen again. That sucks." Continue here to read the full story.

Anno 1800 Open Beta in April

Ubisoft announces an open beta test for Anno 1800 will run from April 12-14. Here's word:

Today UBISOFT® revealed that the Open Beta for Anno 1800 will take place from April 12 to April 14 on Windows PC.

Anno 1800 combines beloved features from 20 years of Anno history, delivering a rich city-building experience, including a story-based campaign, a highly customizable sandbox mode, and the classic Anno multiplayer experience. Anno 1800 will see the return of highly requested features such as individual AI opponents, shippable trade goods, randomly generated maps, multi-session gameplay, items and more.

Anno 1800 will release worldwide on April 16, 2019 on Windows PC. Players who pre-order Anno 1800 will receive the Imperial Pack containing extra content for the game. Digital Deluxe and Pioneers Editions owners will have access to exclusive content including the Anarchist character.

To get the latest information regarding the Open Beta click here: https://www.anno-union.com/register/

For more information about Anno, please visit: www.annogame.com

For Honor Players Get Free Wu Lin Trial

Ubisoft announces that all For Honor players currently have access to the four the Wu Lin Heroes from Marching Fire, even if they don't own the expansion for the melee action game. This trial lasts for a week, during which time the add-on is on sale for half-price for those who want permanent access to this Wu Lin Clan:

Marching Fire was the biggest update to For Honor since launch, introducing four new Heroes – Tiandi (Vanguard), Nuxia (Assassin), Shaolin (Hybrid), and Jiang Jun (Heavy) – as part of the new Wu Lin faction. Access to these Heroes is usually only given to players who purchased the Marching Fire expansion, or who chose to unlock them with in-game Steel, but they'll soon be available for everyone for a limited time. During the Hero trial, from February 5 at 8:00AM EST until February 12 at 8:00AM EST, all four Wu Lin Heroes will be free for all For Honor players.

If you're enjoying your time with the Wu Lin Heroes and want to unlock them all permanently – and get access to the ever-changing PvE Arcade mode – the Marching Fire expansion will available for a 50% discount during the Hero Trial period. For more on For Honor, check out our previous coverage.

Imperator: Rome in April

Paradox Interactive announces April 25th as the release date for Imperator: Rome, their upcoming toga-clad grand strategy game. You may have to wait that long to play it, but you can pay for it right now, as they are accepting preorders, though there are no incentives for doing so. The release date is part of a new story trailer, and the following announcement:

The consuls and eldest citizens, having gathered in the Temple of Saturn to seek the favor of the gods, consulted the college of augurs to determine the most fortunate date to launch the new venture. After making the appropriate sacrifices, the augurs decreed that that the Gods find ante diem octavum Kalendas Aprilis, ad urba condita 2772 to be the luckiest date.

For the more barbarian of you, this means that Paradox is announcing that Imperator: Rome will be available on 25 April, 2019. The game may be pre-ordered at the Paradox store and other major online retailers starting at $39.99.

Imperator: Rome is a new historical grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studio and Johan Andersson. Imperator drops you into the classical world a decade after the death of Alexander the Great. Govern hundreds of ancient kingdoms, tribes and republics, expanding your glory while keeping disloyal governors and unhappy subjects in their place.

Features of Imperator: Rome include:

Continue here to read the full story.

Rainswept Floats Out

Rainswept is now available on GOG.com and Steam, offering a murder mystery game for Windows and macOS that's not as noir as the title suggests. The launch trailer shows off the game's distinctive style, which is nostalgic without the use of pixel art. Here's word on the strange goings on in Twin Peaks Pineview:

Detective Michael Stone arrives in the small town of Pineview to assist the local police force with a seemingly simple case - A couple is found dead in their kitchen. The locals believe it to be a case of murder-suicide, their speculation fueled by rumors of the turbulent nature of the couple's relationship.

Is it just small-town gossip, or is there some truth to the rumors?

Help Detective Stone, assisted by the driven and empathetic Amy Blunt, discover the truth behind Chris and Diane's story. But be warned: the further he pursues the case, the more his own past shall come back to haunt him. And the closer his sanity will be pushed to the edge.

Featuring:

  • An emotionally captivating story set in an immersive and atmospheric game world.
  • A wide cast of characters with deep histories, meaningful motivations and distinct personalities.
  • A moving original soundtrack by Micamic (Downfall, The Cat Lady, Lorelai)
  • Pine trees, coffee and rain. Lots of rain.

Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Patches

On Sale

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

Evening Interviews

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Apex Legends Hits 1M Players Right Off

Vince Zampella tweets about the success of yesterday's launch of Apex Legends. Word is the free-to-play battle royale hit the one million player threshold within the first eight hours of its launch: "I’m so overwhelmed right now, @PlayApex broke a million unique players in under 8 hours. ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you so much for showing up and being part of this with @Respawn you are amazing!!" There's also a post on reddit where Respawn recaps the launch. Word is to expect a small server patch this morning to address stability issues. They are also soliciting feedback:

The support and excitement for Apex Legends has been more than we could have imagined. The whole team is thrilled to see people loving the game as much as we do. We love the praise, but we also want to hear what could be better. A few things for example we’d love your feedback on:

  • How do weapons feel? Distinct? Samey?
  • Do Legend abilities feel effective?
  • Are you finding loot quickly enough? Is ammo too hard to find? Is a type of ammo feel to scarce?
  • What areas of the game could be explained better?
  • What do you wish Apex had that it doesn’t
  • What are your favorite cosmetics?

The Walking Dead Episode 4 Next Month

A tweet from The Walking Dead Game says to expect the final installment in this episodic series on March 26th. This game is being completed by Skybound Entertainment after the demise of Telltale. The tweet points the way to this post on the topic which also mentions console gamers can expect physical releases at that time:

It’s hard to believe Clem’s journey is coming to an end. Just like you guys, we’re struggling to grasp the fact that the journey is almost over. But we’re so ready and thankful to have all of you alongside us as the story comes to a dramatic close. As you play through Broken Toys, the recently released Episode 3 of The Final Season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, we’re preparing for the concluding episode of the series and have some news to share…

We’re excited to announce that when Episode 4, Take Us Back, launches on March 26th, we’ll be releasing a physical boxed edition that includes the entire Final Season for Xbox One, PS4, and Switch. This version will be available at all major retailers, including right here in the Skybound Shop. So, for fans looking for a great gift to give, or to actually hold the final chapters of Clem’s story in your hands, well, you’ll soon have that chance!

New AMD Drivers

AMD Support now offers new version 19.2.1 Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition Windows drivers for AMD graphics cards. As seen in the release notes, these include support for Apex Legends, The Division 2 Private Beta, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Here's more:

Support For

  • APEX Legends™
  • The Division™ 2 Private Beta
  • Assassin’s Creed™: Odyssey
    • Up to 5% performance improvement with AMD Radeon™ Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.1 on a Radeon™ RX Vega 64. RS-285

Fixed Issues

  • Battlefield™ V players may experience character outlines stuck on screen after being revived.
  • Radeon Settings may fail to install while doing a software update on some Hybrid Graphics system configurations.
  • Some displays may experience a loss of video when launching a fullscreen application with Radeon FreeSync enabled.
  • Anthem™ may experience a white screen or corruption while playing or launching the game.
  • Radeon Settings may experience a crash if the user changes tabs quickly with a very large game list.
  • Fixed an issue where Radeon Settings update notifications may suggest older driver releases to upgrade to.
  • HDMI Underscan settings may not retain after system restart.
  • Radeon ReLive may intermittently experience captured recordings or Instant Replays with inverted colors.

Battle Brothers Warriors of the North DLC Announced

The Battle Brothers Website announces a new paid DLC pack called Warriors of the North is coming to this turn-based, tactical RPG. They say we should expect another blog post this week to discuss the project further. In the meantime they offer the following details, promising the premium DLC will be accompanied by a free update for the base game:

As the name suggests, the focus of the DLC will be on introducing a new human faction hailing from the north. This faction follows the old ways of raiding and sacrificing prisoners to cruel gods. They’ll bring more regional flavor to the northern parts of the map, as well as a different challenge to fighting brigands in the north at every stage of the game. This DLC will be focused on new content, and it will be smaller in scope than ‘Beasts & Exploration’. This also means that you won’t have to wait quite as long until you can play it!

Here’s the rough list of features we’re aiming for:

  • A variety of new human opponents with their own fighting style and equipment, providing a fresh challenge at every stage of the game, including the late game
    Different origins to pick for your company, each with different starting characters, equipment and circumstances, as well as special rules that impact your campaign from beginning to end
  • New nordic and rus inspired banners, armors and helmets
  • A new legendary location
  • New contracts
  • New events

In addition to these major features, the DLC will also include countless smaller additions. Just like in the past, we’ll explain all major features and most minor ones in detail in future dev blogs as we go along, so you’ll always know what we’re working on and why. We expect to be finished within the next few months and will announce a release date and final feature list once we’re closer to the finish line.

Alongside the DLC, which will not be free, the game will also receive a sizable free update again. This update will contain a whole bunch of improvements, quality-of-life features and balancing changes, as well as some minor content additions.

Beacon Early Access This Month

Monothetic announces we'll be able to bring home the Beacon this month, as their action game is set to enter Early Access on February 27th. The game is already available in extremely early access on itch.io, and they say there's a new patch today for owners of that version. The Steam release will carry a 10% launch discount, and they offer this trailer for a look at what to expect along with an Early Access roadmap. Here's word on the game:

Beacon follows the journey of space privateer, Freja Akiyama, on her endless search for her crashed ship’s emergency distress beacon. In your search you’ll not only find weapons and items to help you; you’ll also be collecting DNA from the enemies you defeat. When you inevitably die, you’re given the opportunity to integrate the DNA you've collected into your genome, allowing you to alter your statistics and gain gameplay-altering physical mutations for your next clone's life.

In the search for the Beacon, new questions arise; just how many clones of Freja are there? How long has she been stuck in an infinite cycle of survival? How much of her humanity will be sacrificed before escaping?

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

Op Ed

Ars Technica - Apex Legends, Anthem, and EA’s (possible) February disaster. "The news picked up steam over the weekend, and a tweet in the middle of the Super Bowl confirmed it: Apex Legends was a real game. Yes, it was a free-to-play battle royale shooter from the makers of Titanfall, set in the Titanfall universe. However, it doesn't have any of the series' trademark wall-running (what?) or massive robot-armor suits (WHAT?). Sure enough, this game was launching on Monday, February 4, for free on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. If you're wondering, that's less than three weeks before Bioware's sprawling, sci-fi team-combat game Anthem hits stores.

I've since put Respawn's new game through as many paces as I could in its single day of existence. Before getting into that, I'd like to dig into the absolutely bizarre fact that, yes, EA is once again positioning a major Titanfall-themed title within the launch window of another massive video game. What is going on?"

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Patches

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Happy Lunar New Year! Today kicks off the Spring Festival as the Year of the Pig begins according to the traditional Chinese calendar. Specifically it's now the Year of the Earth Pig as we bid a fond fondue to the Year of the Dog. Of course, it will be weeks before I stop writing Year of the Dog on my checks. That is especially appropriate, though. As I mentioned last year, it's always the year of the dog here at the BlueTower (the Gunnar-man approves this message).

Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: The Walking Dead Renewed for Season 10.
A Tourist Family’s Bad Behavior Has New Zealand Rethinking Its Welcome Mat. Thanks RedEye9.
Coroner: Fan struck in head by foul ball during Dodgers game died of blunt force injury. Thanks Reddit.
Science: Climate change will change the color of the oceans.
Inside-out dense iron planets probably the result of massive collision.
Media: GUESS THAT VIDEO GAME SONG CHALLENGE - FBE Staff Reacts.
The 2019 MarbleLympics Qualifying Round Is Just Stupidly Satisfying.
Groundhog Day — An Inescapable Premise.
Follow-up: People’s fears about vaccines aren’t just about vaccines.
The Funnies: Brevity.



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