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- New Game Releases
- Yoshi's New Island
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Bound by Flame
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
- Grand Theft Auto 5
- Blizzard's HearthStone
- Kingdom Come: Deliverance
- Naughty Dog Studio
- The Last of Us: Left Behind
- Alienware Steam Machine
- Capcom on Gaming Industry
- Hearts of Iron IV and Runemaster
- Tribeca Film Festival
Here is what has been making news: New Releases, Yoshi’s New Island, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Bound by Flame, The Elder Scrolls Online, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Grand Theft Auto 5, Blizzard’s HearthStone, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Naughty Dog Studio, The Last of Us: Left Behind, Alienware Steam Machine, Capcom on Gaming Industry, Hearts of Iron IV and Runemaster, Tribeca Film Festival.
January 26th – February 1st
Tuesday, January 28th
Rekoil will be available for the PC.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition will be available for the Xbox One, PS4.
Broken Age: Act 1 will be available for the PC.
Dragonball Z: Battle of Z will be available for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PS Vita.
Tomb Raider: Game of the Year will be available for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Wednesday, January 29th
The Castle Doctrine will be available for the PC.
Rekoil: Liberator will be available for the Xbox 360.
Thursday, January 30th
Octodad: Dadliest Catch will be available for the PC.
Rymdkapsel will be available for the PC.
Arabians Lost and Doubt Twin Pack will be available for the PSP.
Friday, January 31st
Loadout will be available for the PC.
Blackguards will be available for the PC.
Estranged: Act 1 will be available for the PC.
Dark Lord (2014) will be available for the PC.
MeltyMoment will be available for the PC.
Alia’s Carnival will be available for the PC.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Full Burst will be available (in UK) for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition will be available (in UK) for the Xbox One, PS4.
Release date revealed
Nintendo recently announced that Yoshi’s New Island will be available for the 3DS in North America on March 14th The game was announced last April when it was described as having similar art style to previous Yoshi games. In the game, Yoshi has to carry Baby Mario safely across a host of new locations. So far there is no news on a European release.
Details about the game
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt seems to be one of the games that many gamers are looking forward to this year. The last open-world action RPG from CD Projekt RED won over 55 awards at last year’s E3.
Marcin Iwinski, the co-founder of CD Projekt recently spoke about Witcher 3, its game mechanics and other factors associated with the game. Iwinski did point out that you don’t have to have played The Witcher 1 or 2 in order to play the upcoming third game in the series. “The game has a great introduction that will make them [new Witcher gamers] feel right at home, and we’re working really hard to communicate this fact.” Iwinski explained that each Witcher game has its own story, he does point out that if you have played through the first two games or have read the books by Andrzej Sapkowski, you will have some insight into “a lot of stuff others may not get.”
When speaking of a novel, Iwinski reports that CD Projekt had recently engaged in a deal with Dark Horse comics and will be releasing several comics within a few months. Additionally, “we’ll also be releasing a Witcher-themed board game that’s designed by us and developed by Fantasy Flight Games. There’s also a digital version of the board game planned for iOS and Android.”
While Iwinski admits that it is challenging to develop games, especially those with large open worlds like Wild Hunt, they have a larger quest and design team this time. The team is spending a lot of time “populating the world with significant content, that by the way is all tailor-made.” Wild Hunt is said to be at least 30 times bigger than the former The Witcher game. “We’re looking at roughly 50 hours for the main storyline depending on your gameplay style and the difficulty level. If you do most or all of the side quests, you’re looking at anything between 100 to 120 hours of gameplay.”
Iwinski states he does not like to use the term ‘action game’ for The Witcher 3 because it is more heavily loaded on the RPG elements, “but we would like to give our players the feeling that there is more to this game than creating alchemy potions or sorting through your inventory.”
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be an exclusive next gen game, available only for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Iwinski explains why they will not be bringing the game to the Xbox 360 or the PS3. “It’s impossible. It would have to be a different game–a smaller game, not an open-world game, or with terrible loading times, with sacrifices in graphics.” In addition, Iwinski added that there is no truth to the rumors that the studio is working on a PS3 version of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. “We definitely would have loved to, but The Witcher 2 on PC was so big that making it work on Xbox 360 took us a year. The Xbox 360 was a more powerful and easier-to-code-on platform than PS3, so that would have taken us another year or year-and-a-half.”
We are still waiting on a release date announcement, but we do know we can expect the game sometime later this year.
Not open world but still an RPG must
There has already been a notable amount of hype regarding Bound by Flame. While it won’t be the next Skyrim, the game is an ambitious project by a small development studio named Spiders. The game takes place in a high fantasy world that is under siege by no less than seven ice lords. You play as Vulcan, a mercenary who is charged with defending the lands from rotting flesh golems, shambling cadavers and other evil minions.
Shortly after the story begins, Vulcan makes an attempt to bolster his strength by summoning a fire demon, and fails miserably. The demon possess him, giving him the power of flame but at the potential loss of his humanity. This duality becomes the focus of the game, most significantly when he faces his enemies.
Bound by Flame offers three skill trees you can specialize in, each having an Ultimate Ability at the top of the tree. The game hosts multiple endings depending on how you choose to play. You will remain fairly recognizable by pursuing quests and trying to preserve your own humanity as you help others. That would be the good path of course. Taking the demon path causes your armor to deteriorate as your body becomes wrapped in flames and eventually horns will develop out of the top of your head. You will be more susceptible to damage taking the demon path, but your magical powers will be very much stronger.
There is also a wealth of standard RPG features planned for the game, including crafting, companions, and side-quests. According to Spiders it should take somewhere between 20 to 25 hours to complete the game. However, the game is highly re-playable given the diversity of the story, the different endings, and the ability to pick up different companions and quests.
Walid Miled, producer at Spiders studio explained, “It’s not open world, it’s hub-like. So So you go to a chapter, you have the greatest level you can go to with various quests you can do in any different order. You can go from level to level inside a chapter until you’ve finished all the story-based quests and then you can go on to the next chapter and so on.”
Currently the game is planned for the Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, and the PC. While there is a chance we will see the game on the Xbox One, it hasn’t been announced as yet. We expect to see the game launch sometime during the second quarter of this year. As soon as a release date is specified we will let you know.
Gets an M rating
Younger gamers may well be excluded from playing The Elder Scrolls Online as it was awarded an M rating from the ESRB, not what Bethesda had been expecting. Pete Hines of Bethesda Tweeted: “ESO has been rated M by the ESRB, not the T we expected.”
In an explanation regarding why the game was rated M, Bethesda stated, “The ESRB advised us that it has given The Elder Scrolls Online a Mature rating,” their note reads, in part. “While we may disagree with the ESRB’s determination, we do not plan to challenge the rating, and we are unwilling to change the game’s content to achieve a different rating. The game was have created is the one we want our fans to be able to play.”
The ESRB, created by the gaming industry at the behest of the American government in 1994, doles out ratings for every game released. The “T For Teen” rating Bethesda was aiming for would allow the game to have greater access with younger players in particular; the “M for Mature” rating the game ended up getting means that it’s recommended for those 17 years old or older, and precludes minors from buying the game in stores.”
The MMO was officially announced back in 2012. Recently Hines had Tweeted that the game was expected to release on April 4th on the PC and then in June for the PS4 and Xbox One.
Recently Tecmo Koei tweeted announcing that the new release date for Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is now March 21st across Europe. The game was originally expected to launch on February 28th in Europe before hitting North America on March 4th. No explanation for the delay was provided.
Coming to PC?
A PC version of Grand Theft Auto V was recently posted by Amazon France suggesting that we can expect to see the critically acclaimed game from Rockstar Games coming to that platform. However, Rockstar has not made an official announcement regarding a PC version. It should be known that Amazon France does tend to have a history of leaking information on as-of-yet announced retail offerings. For example, it spilled the beans on details about Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Ratchet and Clank, Splinter Cell, and Prince of Persia games before anyone else. So it is safe to assume that we should be getting official information on a PC version of GTA 5 fairly soon.
It has been widely suspected that there will be a PC version of the game launching some time this year. An online petition hosted on Change.org calling for a PC version of GTA 5 just recently crossed the 650,000 signature mark, which makes it one of the largest petitions on the site. Has Rockstar heard the cry of its fans? Only time will tell.
Lawsuit in the works
According to Blizzard, developer Unico has created a copycat game of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and are in the process of suing. The game in question, titled Legend of Crouching Dragon, was actually introduced in 2013 as a copycat of Blizzard’s game.
The lawsuit seeks $1.65 million in damages and possibly a shutdown of the game itself on the grounds of intellectual property rights infringement. The images in the game, even the gameplay itself is very similar, if not very close to exactly the same, as Blizzard Entertainments upcoming free-to-play Hearthstone game.
Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s CEO, had addressed the issue of the copycat game during last November’s BlizzCon, stating, “I am aware of another game that is infringing on our Hearthstone intellectual property, and so our legal department is taking legal action against that to protect our intellectual property.”
Currently Hearthstone has moved from its closed beta phase into its open beta period and is expected to launch later this year for the PC and MAC. Sometime after that launch it will come available for iOS devices.
According to Blizzard this open beta is “still very much in the testing phase as we prepare for the official launch.” If you wish to give the game a try and offer up some of your own thoughts for improvements you can visit the official site. Blizzard does ask that any official reviews be held until after “the game has crossed that final finish line and we can properly celebrate!”
Magical even without dragons or magic
While Kingdom Come: Deliverance may be reminiscent of open-world fantasy games such as Elder Scrolls, this isn’t a game about necromancy, dragons, curses, magic or wizards.
Dan Vávra, Warhouse Studios’ creative director, states that he thinks about the game as “Braveheart the game, which means majestic castles, armored knights, large open fields, and political intrigue, set in a vast emergent world.” Rather than spell casting and monstrous ghouls, this game offers up thoughts of the real landscape of the Holy Roman Empire.
Perhaps role-playing through human history doesn’t sound all that magical to you compared to summoning lightning and zapping foes or conjuring skeletons. In Kingdom Come: Deliverance you can expect to slip into period-accurate armor and clothing, learn real fencing and combat techniques and venture into real-world castles with all the actual architectural detail that historians can provide. You will take on roles such as a thief, barb, or warrior and you will have the ability to direct your destiny by using a variety of skills and perks.
This game is so real-world-like that you will need to sleep and eat to keep your strength up. If you keep food hanging around in your inventory too long, it will spoil and go bad. Vávra explains, “We’re trying to mix the freedom and mechanics of Skyrim, the setting of Mount & Blade, the storytelling of The Witcher, and the combat dynamics of Dark Souls in a single gorgeous package.”
Kingdom Come has all the 14th-century beauty, majestic castles, large open fields, armored knights, political intrigue, and a wide open world to explore. The graphics are a thing of beauty, with flickering candles softly illuminating the crimson wallpaper in a room, stone paths that have that well traveled look of thousands who walked it before you, and expressive facial animation that remind one of Ryse: Son of Rome.
Just as in an Elder Scrolls game, the citizens all have places to live and daily lives to attend to. Vávra indicates that they hope to avoid the rigidity of, say for example, Skyrim citizens. ”If you try to mess up the poor people’s lives, for example, if someone goes to the pub every evening and you kill the bartender, they won’t be stuck or not know what to do. They will have a different routine, they will react to this event somehow, and everything should be very natural.”
A developer called Warhorse, should naturally feature a warhorse in its flagship game. In Kingdom Come you can fight your enemies on horseback and use your horse as a pack mule if you need extra inventory space. But the horse is also a competent combatant in this game, having its own AI.
With regards to the open-world, quests and exploration part of the game, Vávra explains that “Our goal is to not make the world as populated as in some other games, so there will not be a dungeon or a castle for 200 meters, or some fight or monster or something. We try to concentrate quests in hubs; in the city, there are several quest-givers, there are some quests around the city, and then you can move to some other location that is not so close. But on the way there, if you go from the main streets, you may find out something interesting, but it’s not that easy to find. That’s our goal.”
Vávra admits that the game was a little difficult to sell to publishers who seem to like the tried and true and rarely venture far from what is considered the norm. A fantasy game without magic or dragons just doesn’t seem all that fantasy to most. However, I for one think it is time for a more practical, down-to-earth, realistic, role-play fantasy game. The game may not feature magic, but I think this is gonna be one magical game when it launches at the end of next year for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
There is still about three weeks left in the Kickstarter campaign and they have surpassed their pledge request. If you want to learn more or support the game you can visit their Kickstarter page.
Microsoft gives glowing approval
Naughty Dog is a Sony-owned development studio and creator of The Last of Us and Uncharted franchises. The studio has recently received glowing approval from Phil Spencer, an executive at Microsoft Xbox when he tweeted “ND is a special studio with an amazing track record. I believe they are unique in our industry.”
That tweet was in response to a fan asking him, now that Bungie has re-gained its independence, which Microsoft-owned studio does he believe would be equivalent to Naughty Dog. Spencer added that “Great studios have unique culture. Creating a studio to be ‘like’ another isn’t a goal for us,” Spencer also strongly believes that, for long-term success, it is Microsoft’s ambition to have a steady line-up of strong first-party studios, rather than just one in particular.
This tends to match with what Microsoft already has for studios such as Lionhead Studios who gave us the Fable franchise, 343 Industries known for the Halo franchise, Rare Ltd who offers up Kinect Sports and Banjo-Kazooie, and of course Turn 10 Studios with the Forza franchise.
Offers “extremely challenging” fights
Speaking of Naughty Dog, the developer recently revealed that the upcoming single-player expansion for The Last of Us titled Left Behind, will be featuring some “extremely challenging fights.” The DLC will be putting a stronger emphasis on exploration and non-combat experiences, however, the combat that you will encounter will be .. well rather tough.
Jacob Minkoff, the lead game designer, stated, “You’ll have some extremely challenging fights. In fact, some of those fights will be showcasing some new features that we’ve added to the combat.” One of the new features he speaks of is called multi-faction combat and will allow protagonists Ellie and Riley to pit human enemies against the infected. One way to do this is to throw a bottle near a human enemy to encourage a Clicker to attack them.
Minkoff believes that from a narrative standpoint, Left Behind will match up well, perhaps even exceed the main Last of Us campaign. “With Left Behind, we wanted to make a single-player DLC that was as fully crafted as our main campaign,” he said. “There’s a great deal that we’ve done with the DLC that exceeds the level of narrative density that we had in the main campaign.”
In addition, when compared to the main game, the expansion will have a playful feel to it and will be introducing us to the “real” Ellie, focusing on her interactions with Riley.
The Left Behind DLC is the first single-play downloadable content that Naughty Dog has ever created for a game. It is included in The Last of Us DLC season pass and it can be purchased separately. Expect to be able to download Left Behind on February 14th.
Lack of upgradability explained
An earlier report claiming that Alienware’s new Steam Machine could not be upgraded stated that “there will be no customization options, you can’t really update it.” This seemed to have caused a bit of a stir resulting in Alienware issuing an explanation.
Frank Azor, Alienware’s general manager, explained, “Enabling customers the opportunity to upgrade components has been a core tenet for Alienware since the company was founded, and that remains true today. The Alienware Steam Machine, announced at CES, is designed to deliver a great gaming experience in the living room and we will enable customers to upgrade components. Considering we’ve purposefully designed the Alienware Steam Machine to be smaller than the latest generation consoles, upgrading the internal components will not be as easy as compared to other platforms, such as the Alienware X51, but we will not prevent a customer from upgrading.”
If this sounds like a bit of a reversal to their earlier statement, you would be right. Basically, he states that you won’t actually be prevented from upgrading your system, it just won’t be easy to do so. However, Azor believes that if you are that interested in upgrading your machine on a regular basis, you may want to choose a different Alienware product. “We feel we have multiple options for customers based on their individual needs. If a gamer wants more freedom to upgrade, we have the X51. If they would prefer a smaller, more console-like system, we will offer the Alienware Steam Machine.”
“Unprecedented magnitude” of change is seen
According to statements in an open letter recently, Haruhiro Tsujimoto, COO of Capcom, believes that the gaming industry is going through changes of “unprecedented magnitude.” He explained, “Our performance reflected the momentous shifts in the composition of the entire game market caused by changes of an unprecedented magnitude.”
Tsujimoto believes that the two main trends that are at the center of these changes include the popularity of smartphones and tablets as well as the “increasingly social” aspect of games. “Moreover, advances in networks are causing software sales to move from packaged products to digital distribution.” He does not view these changes as a reason to be concerned as he continues to believe that the industry’s outlook “is bright,” pointing toward the strong sales of the Xbox One and PS4 which cause “even more demand” for new software.
Capcom has plans to maximize their earnings by focusing on three main components of their sales plan. First, delivering content that will fit all types of hardware, then leveraging Capcom’s “Single Content Multiple Usage Strategy” where the publisher pushes to deliver product across all types of media, and finally they plan to grow their global market share. As part of this plan, Capcom is looking to hire at least 100 new software developers every year in effort to give them “an even more powerful development workforce.” This is good news given how many of the companies in the industry are laying off members of their workforce. We wish Capcom the best and hope they succeed in their plans.
Two new games from Paradox Interactive
During the Paradox Interactive Convention in Miami, Paradox Interactive announced two new games, an all-new fantasy RPG titled Runemaster, and a strategy sequel titled Hearts of Iron IV.
Like the previous game, Hearts of Iron IV is set in World War II era. The game was described as being the “most authentic real-time simulation of World War II to date.” Hearts of Iron IV will feature “authentic” figures from history battling on land, sea, and air. Armies, vehicles and weapons will all be period-accurate.
Parasox’s all new fantasy RPG, Runemaster, is a major departure from the typical historical strategy games that Paradox has offered. The game is based on Norse mythology and features an open world. Johan Andersson, Paradox development studio manager, admits that, “Creating an RPG is something new for Paradox Development Studio, and it’s been a dream project we’ve wanted to undertake for a long time now. We’re always playing RPGs in our spare time and discovering new things we love about them as a game genre; it was only natural that sooner or later we’d have to design our own. Runemaster is the result, and we know our fans will love it.”
Video games have bigger role this year
The organizers for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival recently announced a partnership with the annual Games for Change festival. Games for Change promotes the development and sale of video games that have either a social minded or educational focus.
Video games have been presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in the past, for example, in 2011 Rockstar’s L.A. Noire and in 2013 Sony’s Beyond: Two Souls, had been included. However, this current partnership represents a more formal combination of games and films.
Craid Hatkoff, one of the founders of the film festival, believes that gaming has grown beyond entertainment and such a partnership offers audiences, industry executives, and filmmakers to relate with a new form of storytelling. “Gaming has infused every aspect of culture. People are clamoring for more ways to tell stories, be it a two-hour film, a six-second video or a video game.”
Games for Change was founded in 2004 and has helped create and promote games that seek to improve society in some manner. It boasts the largest annual gaming festival in New York and has spotlighted speakers such as Sandra Day O’Connor and Al Gore.
Asi Burak, president of Games for Change, believes that ”The conversation about games could be much more sophisticated and nuanced than it is now. We want Games for Change to help prove that games have a wide appeal. We’ve done a lot with stakeholders, with funding — we even got into the White House. But the idea that everyday people will have a chance to see what we do is a big step forward.”
Burak added, “If I ask regular folks what educational games are, they don’t know. For them, video games are just the big, blockbuster titles they see advertised. I want to change that — I want people to think about games having the same diversity as any other medium.”
As part of the Tribeca Film Festival, this year’s Games for Change festival will be taking place at the New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on April 22nd through the 24th. There will be guest speakers, networking events, game demonstrations and an awards ceremony.