I've been on a Witcher 3 bender all weekend. I'd played some 30 hours or so when it launched last year, but I took a lengthy hiatus. Personally, I'd burned out on epic open-world role-playing games, and The Witcher 3 ain't nothin' if it ain't an epic open-world role-playing game. It's safe to say it achieved peak RPG for an entire genre. We gave it our highest score.
But I mostly have Dead End Thrills to thank for my return to the Witcher's world this weekend. Out of nowhere, the in-game photographer—the aforementioned Dead End Thrills—went back in himself, snapping off a few more shots. It is stunning what developer CD Projekt RED has made. For a gameworld that's 95% trees and rocks and water, it's crafted scene after scene of eye-candy landscapes and face-melting depictions of grimy low-fantasy grunge mashed with endlessly picturesque countrysides.
Look at these pics—or visit the entire gallery—and try not reinstalling The Witcher 3. You fall in love, you lose.
Daily newspaper The Guardian is onto something. It's taking real-world issues and turning them into virtual reality experiences. The intention is to make known distressing issues in global politics by putting people—at least people's psyche—into a particular headspace. This is virtual journalism.
The first one (not sure yet if there will be more) is called 6x9: A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement. From the title alone, I think you get the idea. Are you ever going to be put into solitary confinement? I hope not. But does it sound so bad? Does solitary confinement sound like a terrible fate for a human being? What happens to a person that spends 23 hours a day in a six-foot by nine-foot cell? What if you're there for 90 days, say, three months? What if you're there for years? There's no way for the average person to know. And while 6x9 isn't going to strap your VR headset to our face for a decade of solitary, perhaps it only takes a few minutes for us to start to understand.
I'm going to admit: I don't understand. I can't grasp what it would mean to be in solitary confinement for 10 minutes, let alone 10 months, or 10 years. The Guardian enhances the experience with stories of people that were incarcerated in solitary confinement, and injects the 360-degree view with their reality-horror. Is that a genre already? Because if not, I'm making it one. Reality-horror.
Instructions for getting 6x9 are on The Guardian's website. Below is a 360 video for a sample of the psychological damage inmates go through. I watched it once, looking around the room. My chest is still pounding.
6x9 is available on iPhone and Android, best experienced, I'm guessing, with something like Google Cardboard to serve as a VR headset.
505 Games have released their Ghost World update for their voxel-based RPG Portal Knights. The update introduces new world events systems, recipes, trophies, customization options and, the island of the Ghost World with new environments, villains, dungeons and gear of its own.
You can check out our preview of Portal Knights, get more info on their Steam Page where the game is currently 20% off, and take a look at the Ghost World trailer below.
Fresh off the NFL Draft and in the midst of a free Madden 16 weekend for Xbox Live Gold members, the new additions to the League are already in rotation in Madden Ultimate Team. Soon to be stars like Carson Wentz, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott and first overall pick Jared Goff can be found in the game mode.
I've not played Madden in a few years now but have always loved Ultimate Team in the FIFA series and am happy to hear it is enjoying success across other sports titles as well. It is kinda crazy to see newly drafted players already available, but Ultimate Team is just the right kind of fantasy sandbox to introduce them. I actually hope they have a slight boost to their base stats because this late in the cycle it's worth making them a bit more viable in stabbed ultimate team lineups at the cost of a shade of realism. I love how EA's sports titles strive for realistic player rankings each year and would like to see them fairly critiqued as fresh faced rookies new to the league next year in the full game, but let em have a bit of fun at the tail end of this year. That's one of the things Ultimate team is so good for.
Nixon's upcoming FPS MMO, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, is going free for this weekend only. The promotion ends at 1pm Pacific Time on May 1st, but all participants until then will get immediate game access and a free weapon skin for their M4A1 rifle. During this special event, the Specialist Early Access Pack is also on sale at a 50% discount. The developers claim it's over $35 worth of content in Early Access to the game, the First Assault update, and other unlocks, weapon skins, and in-game currency, available for $7.50.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is based off the Anime of the same name that details a elite cyber crime and anti-terror until in a 2030 Japan where cyborgs and enhancements are everywhere. Go to the Steam Page to get on on the free weekend, and check out the gameplay trailer below.
2K and Firaxis Games have announced that Long War Studios, the folks behind the Long War mods for XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM: Enemy Within will continue their work on XCOM2. The mods will be available via the Steam Workshop for free over the coming months. The first in the series, Toolbox, is already out and opens up new options in the menu screen like being able to configure the camera rotation, change damage variation, randomize stats and level ups, and other UI and gameplay tweaks. More info on Toolbox or future mods are available at the XCOM2 website.
EA Sports has compiled the votes and the teams are finally being announced for the year-end Ultimate Team Team of the Season for FIFA 16.
The community votes every year for the TOTS by voting for players that have not appeared in a TOTW throughout the course of the world football schedule. It's amazing to think of how many players somehow slip through the cracks, especially in the top leagues, but when there are so many teams and divisions out there, it's quite easy to find the players who have been at their best yet never received the upgrade at any point in the season.
Without further delay, here is your Silver Team of the Season:
With the release just around the corner, 2K and Gearbox have released the launch trailer for their upcoming first person-MOBA, Battleborn. Battleborn is meant to hit the online marketplaces at precisely midnight Easter Time on May 3rd. So while west coasters will get it at 9pm on the 2nd, those of us in Europe will have to wait until the morning. Ah, time zones.
You can check out the trailer below, and catch up on motion comics detailing the Battleborn backstory in my previous post.
Footage from the Australian beta test of Pokemon GO! has surfaced on YouTube. This is a game (app?) that I've been hearing about for a long time, but never really seeing much information. Now you have a chance to see some of the actual gameplay.
The video below will show you the character creation process, as well as some of the actual on-the-street gameplay of catching the Pokemon. I've got to say, my inner child was captivated too. It looks a little goofy seeing a Pokemon awkwardly superimposed over a cellphone's camera footage of the street, but it's such a cool idea that I'm sure people won't have a problem getting past it.
Nintendo loves to pull videos from YouTube, so if you want, watch it soon.
To put it delicately, Steam reviews have been...unkind to the new Doom's multiplayer beta. That's probably owed to the fact that it was developed by Certain Affinity, a studio that has done a lot of work on Halo and Call of Duty multiplayer maps, and why Doom's multiplayer feels like...well a lot like Halo and Call of Duty.
Thankfully, Doom's single player campaign is shaping up a lot better. In this hour long stream id's Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin demo two huge chunks of the game--one early on in Mars operations and another halfway through the game in Hell. It has a real 90s feel to it and it looks incredibly fast, which is more than I can say for the multiplayer. In particular I like how creepy and cult-y the UAC looks to have gotten, as in Doom 3 they seemed more like inept corporate goons.
That said I'm still a little concerned that half of the good ideas in this new Doom look like they've been ganked wholesale from the superb Brutal Doom mod for the 93 original. In any case, I'm far more excited for Doom now than I was coming out of the beta. May 13th can't get here fast enough.