What we're playing: Skyrim Injustice

by: Randy - - 0 Comments

Star Wars: Battlefront II had an eventful week. It went from owning the most downvoted comment in Reddit history, to pulling down all microtransactions hours before launch. Despite having a Jewish protagonist that kills hundreds of Nazis, Wolfenstein 2 is blocked from download in Israel. And Tesla CEO Elon Musk hires a lot of video game programmers; one of his latest is video game engineer Scott Simms from Microsoft, who worked on Halo 4 and Kinect Sports: Season 2.

What are you playing this weekend?

Sean Colleli, Staff Writer, @scolleli
Curse you, Todd Howard! I thought I had left Skyrim behind many years ago, and closed The Elder Scrolls to slumber until the inevitable sixth chapter. I assumed reviewing Skyrim on Switch would be a relatively quick "How does it run and look?" affair. But now I'm sucked back in all over again, compulsively transmuting iron ore to level my smithing, enchanting and alchemy. Y'all got any more of those blue mountain flowers?

I might be able to tear myself away long enough to continue my memorial playthrough of of Dead Space 2. If Dead Space was Alien: The Haunted House, then Dead Space 2 is definitely Aliens: The Roller Coaster. I forgot just how unrelenting the pace of this game was. It makes me even sadder that Visceral is gone and we'll probably never see greatness from this sci-fi horror series ever again. Press X to pay respects...and to stomp a Necromorph.

Dave Gamble, Staff Writer,
I'm currently running through High Hell, an ultra-short (well, for people other than me, who has been stuck on Level 10 for a longer period than it took me to get there) FPS done in a minimalistic style that puts run-of-the-mill minimalism to shame. At the end of Level 9, I would have described it as "fun." Now I'm not so sure. I'll walk away and pout for a few days before trying it again.

In the meantime, I'll get started on The Drone Racing League Simulator—note that this one is also bound to end up in ignominious surrender. I've taken something of an interest in Drone Racing, but I don't think a half century of seasoning is going to have done wonders for my reflexes or hand-eye coordination. At least if High Hell is a reasonable measure, anyway.

When not in review-prep mode, I'm thinking that it might be high time to start over with Elite Dangerous. I burned myself out on it last year after grinding away day after day as a miner, so I'll maybe pick a different specialty this time around. I would have tried it just as soon as I got the Oculus Rift because I fully expect it to be absolutely awe-inspiring in VR, but I had been long enough out of it that I would essentially be starting over. That remains the case, but this time around I will have a lot more patience since I no longer have a lengthy list of "I can't wait to see this in the Rift" to work through. It's also coming up on winter and real-world flying is going to go into semi-hibernation, so I'll likely spend some time doing instrument approaches in Flight Sim World, which I fervently wish was playable in VR like Aerofly FS2, which I fervently wish had clickable controls to the extent that FSW has.

Eric Hauter, Staff Writer,
I have been playing Mad Max on and off for a couple of months, but my wife finally put the hammer down on me playing it in front of our four-year-old. Something about her waking up with nightmares about the awful violence and the deformed mutants. As a result, I picked up Horizon Zero Dawn last week while it was on sale for $20 on Amazon (score!). I'm hoping that a pretty lady with a bow fighting robot dinosaurs in a nice forest will go over a little better with the Pre-K crowd.

I've also been crying softly to myself, rocking quietly in place, while wrapped in a blanket, as I try to make forward progress in the 8-bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One). This game hurts me. It makes me feel like a dumb-dumb. Move to the left. Die. Move to the right. Die. Go down the ladder. Die. Your torch went out! Die. Look at the lake. Die. Stand in place. Die. Pick up a shield. Live! Oh, the fire melted it. Die. It's kind of awesome in the way this game is willing to stomp on your head. I'm hoping to have a review up by the middle of next week sometime, once my emotions have recovered.

Randy Kalista, Staff Writer,
Wish I knew what to tell you. It's still nothing but Skyrim for me. In years past, as the weather cooled and leaves changed, I'd always find some MMO to dip into. I think this year, however, I just went with a massively single-player option. So, Skyrim it is. Survival Mode, of course. In my latest playthrough, I'm a Redguard "Spellsword." The Spellsword is a class that was last seen in Oblivion, but had been there since the very beginning in The Elder Scrolls: Arena. In this instance, it means I'm into swords, shields, spells, and light armor. That's nothing crazy, obviously. But it takes a little getting used to, since my usual build is heavy armor, two-handed weapons, and no magic. I just bought and fully furnished my home in Whiterun. Instead of an alchemy table, I installed a children's bedroom. As the dad of a seven-year-old, I apparently feel the need to get every kid off the streets in Skyrim, too.

To further sate my Scandinavian appetite, I'm looking at Northgard's Early Access. It's a real-time strategy with, to my untrained eye, quite a few board game sensibilities. Stuff like discrete regions of the board revealed all at once by scouts, or a maximum number of buildings that any one "tile" can support. Seems to tread the fine line between too much and too little info, which is the sweet spot for me. Still haven't figured out how to 4X my way into a winning position just yet. The winter, the wolves, and my unruly neighbors, so far, have all decided that I'm just not taking my responsibilities as a thane very seriously. My reign has met a bloody end every time.

Nicholas Leon, Staff Writer,
It's back at it again with the multiplayer in Call of Duty: WWII for me, this weekend. My favorite modes, War and Domination, are consistent bouts of chaotic fun. Sure, sometimes I'll get a team that seriously does not know what it's doing, but screaming at people who can't hear you is just half the fun of online multiplayer these days, am I right?

John Yan, Senior Hardware Editor, @TheJohnYan
I'm going to be spending time this weekend with Destiny 2 and Injustice 2. Destiny 2 is fun, but it hasn't grabbed me like a lot of others here. It's an enjoyable FPS and there are some gorgeous environments. I'll be playing some more to finish out my review.

Injustice 2 just hit the PC so I'm going to fight the good fight to take down Superman's Regime. Hopefully, the folks who did the port learned from Mortal Kombat X on the PC and we're able to have a good fighting game again on that side of things.

Naughty Dog celebrates 10 years of Uncharted with free themes and skins

by: Eric - - 0 Comments

On a post today on the PlayStation Blog, Naughty Dog announced a few free perks for Uncharted fans in celebration of the franchise’s 10-year anniversary.

Available immediately for download is the Uncharted 10th Anniversary character skin bundle for Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy multiplayer, which includes some classic skins for Nate, Elena, and Sully. Starting on Sunday, November 19 at 8:00 AM Pacific until 8:00 AM Pacific, Tuesday, November 21,  players will be able to download a special 10th anniversary Uncharted system theme and avatar. Other unspecified Uncharted themes will be free for a limited time as well.

The post also details some pretty cool sounding events the company is putting together for December’s PlayStation Experience in Anaheim. They are producing a puzzle room modeled after Nate's attic. Nice.

It will be a while until we see any new Uncharted games, so it’s nice to see Naughty Dog celebrating the series’ history. Uncharted games are some of my all-time favorites, and I am always happy to snag some free swag. Plus, I've been rocking the same Star Trek theme for over two years, so this will be a welcome change.

Frictional Games allows Xbox One players to “safely” play SOMA

by: Eric - - 0 Comments

Frictional Games announced today that their undersea exploration/horror title SOMA is coming to Xbox One on December 1st. The game will include a new “Safe Mode”. Using the untrustworthy tagline “There's no need to be concerned. You are always safe,” the new mode promises to keep players protected from the monsters of the deep.

I don’t want to engage in speculation, but based on my experiences with SOMA and the Amnesia series, I’m going to go ahead and speculate. I’m guessing that this “Safe Mode” is a ruse, and players engaging in it will be met with horrible, horrible fates.

Either way, this game is a spooky hoot, with a great deal of cool environmental story telling.  Xbox One players would do well to check it out, safe or not.

Star Control: Origins enters beta phase

by: Dave - - 0 Comments

Stardock released the first beta of Fleet Battles for the highly anticipated Star Control: Origins today. From what I can tell, Stardock is following a process similar to that of Star Citizen by releasing components of what will eventually be a large,multi-faceted science-fiction adventure game set in an open universe. The player gets the dubious honor of being the captain of Earth's first interstellar vessel on a mission to find allies to help save humanity from certain annihilation, which is really a way of saying "to seek out new civilizations and destroy them."

Sign me up!

The first component to go beta unlocks the Fleet Battles piece in which players assemble ships in a fleet and engage in battle with fleets controlled by either the computer, humans via the Internet, or even friends sitting at the same PC.

This will be a fairly deep beta in that it will include a lot of the underpinnings that are needed to create differentiation in your fleet. The beta will include the Ship Crafting system, in which players can literally design their own ships to use in combat, then share them online. Players can also download ships designed by others to play with as well. Ship Crafting not only allows players to decide what weapons and defenses a ship has, but allows total control of how a ship looks. Another way of describing this is "enjoyable time sink."

Again, sign me up!

The full and final version of Star Control: Origins is expected to release next Summer.

Users can pre-order the game now at a discounted price and receive instant access to the Fleet Battles beta. It's all available on Steam.

Teaser trailers for new operators Zofia and Dokkaebi in Rainbow Six Siege

by: Nathan - - 0 Comments

There is a lot going on this weekend in Rainbow Six Siege. First off the game is getting a free weekend event where anyone on PS4, Xbox One or PC can try out the full game and if they want to buy it, they can do so at a discount. This weekend is also the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League Finals in Brazil. 

Lastly we will get a full reveal of the final DLC content drop of Season 3 with "Operation White Noise". Operation White Noise will include a new map, Mok Myeok tower along with three new operators. Today, Ubisoft revealed teaser trailers for two of them.

First is Dokkaebi (doe-keh-bee), an attacking Operator from South Korea's 707 Special Mission Battalion. It appears that she will be able to hack electronic devices like phones and thus, give away a defenders position. Or she just makes everyone with a Nitro Cell explode immediately. Could you imagine? 

Next up was Zofia the attacking Operator from Poland's GROM unit and the older sister of Ela, the GROM defending operator. 

Zofia's special ability is that she brings a double barrel grenade launcher into battle loaded with both concussion and impact grenades. Impact grenades sound like they work just like Ash's grenade launcher where they can destroy walls and reinforced windows instantly. Concussion grenades will impair hearing and causes a dizzying effect. 

Check out the trailers below. To see the full reveal, check out the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League Finals on their official Twitch channel, November 18th and 19th

EA removes microtransctions from Star Wars Battlefront II temporarily

by: John - - 0 Comments

Star Wars Battlefront II  is only a day from launching and the past week has all been about the bad microtransactions and the pay to win setup that EA and DICE has incorporated into the game.

In a surprising move, EA has decided to temporarily remove the ability to purchase crystals leaving the only way to get more heroes and cards through playing the game. 

It's been a very, very long week for EA and DICE as they had misstep after misstep in handling this situation, culminating in a very awful AMA on reddit.  Of course, all the answers were pretty vague and many of the tough questions were left unanswered.

So today, we get a temporary suspension of microtransactions. There are still other problems in the game like the limits on Arcade points per day and the amount of grinding needed to get everything, although you can expect the latter to be adjusted with the removal of purchasing crystals.

It still leaves the door open for EA to re-institute the purchasing aspect of loot crates in the game for items other than those that are cosmetic. If they want to still have loot crates, they should incorporate the Overwatch system of only having cosmetic items and have no limits on characters or levels.

For me, it's too little too late with these changes. I've decided against purchasing the game and I've continued to decline purchasing an EA game or put money in their EA Access service because of what they've been doing the past few years. I appreciate the fact that they are suspending microtransactions, but again they are leaving the door open in their statement to put it back in. And with how they handled this in the past few weeks, who knows what else they are thinking of to try and squeeze more money out of you. There's nothing stopping them from doing something else after you purchased the game and well past your refund time.

I do give credit to EA for doing something about it right now, but they need to do a LOT to earn back my trust and it's not something that can change until they've proven themselves over time. Let's hope it's a start because we all really should be talking about the game itself and not how EA's trying to grab every little penny they can from us.

Farming Simulator 17 Platinum Edition now available

by: Kinsey - - 0 Comments

Fuel up your tractor and buckle up your overalls; Farming Simulator 17 Platinum Edition has recently rolled into stores, ready to bring to your home all the action-packed aspects of working your own farm.

Seriously, though. Joking aside, the game has a lot of content compared to previous installments, not to mention an entirely new South American setting. There's more variety in vehicles, gameplay, equipment, brands, and more—and since this is the Platinum Edition, there's more. There are exclusive features, of course, that you can get a glimpse of in the launch trailer below. 

If you're ready to harvest crops, tend to livestock, partake in forestry, and sell your spoils to expand your farm, here's what you have to do:

  • If you already own Farming Simulator 17 on PC or Mac, the Platinum Expansion is available in retail stores (PC) and for download (PC/Mac).
  • If you're a new PC/Mac player, you can buy the game in full in retail stores (PC) or via download (PC/Mac).
  • If you already own Farming Simulator 17 on PS4 or Xbox One player, you can download the Platinum Expansion from your console.
  • If you're a new PS4 or Xbox One player, you can get the full game at retail stores or as a digital bundle offer by buying the Farming Simulator 17 Premium Edition.
  • If you're a Season Pass owner on PS4 or Xbox One, you can download the expansion from your console.

Farm away, y'all. Farm away.

Russian Subway Dogs announced for PS4 and Vita

by: Eric - - 0 Comments

You know, I’ve been to Russia a few times. I was an exchange student in the late 80’s (when it was still the Soviet Union) and again in the early 90’s (when it was the wild west). My point is, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the Moscow Metro. I used it several times a day for months. The stations are beautiful, ornate and extremely well-kept. They are like underground jewels.

They are also sometimes filled with strange things. Russia can be a weird place, particularly to western eyes. And Moscow being a big city in Eastern Europe, there a lot of odd, Eastern European things going on down in those tunnels. I’ve got stories. But some of the more mundane things one encounters on the Moscow Metro are the animals. There are stray cats and dog (and pigeons and rats) that hang out down there to escape the cold. The critters beg, harass and cajole daily commuters for food and attention. Army dudes and cops shoe them out, and they come right back in again.

So I am aware of the Russian subway creatures. But never, ever, in all my times seeing animals in the Moscow Metro did I think “You know, someone should make a video game about these subway animals.” But some brilliant soul did have that thought, and here we are today with a strange, strange game.

Evolve announced today that they are porting their PC arcade game Russian Subway Dogs to the PS4 and Vita. Russian Subway Dogs is a pixel-art arcade game that challenges players to play as a variety of animals trying to survive in the Metro by interacting with a variety of elements and causing chaos for commuters. Take a look at the trailer above.  This thing looks nuts.

According to the official press release, players can “Fatten bears with pelmeni! Feed pigeons hot sauce so they’ll rain hot fire from the sky. Sit back and enjoy the resulting BearBQ! Experimentation will lead to success!” 

A variety of playable characters will be available, starting with the default characters “Proletaricat” and “Subway Dog”. There will also be a selection of bizarre-o guest characters from other games including Question Hound from KC Green's Gunshow, Ratcoon from Ruin of the Reckless or Nacho & Rad Shiba from VA-11 HALL-A.

No official release date has been announced, but the game will be available to try at next month’s PlayStation Experience in Anaheim. I wonder if Evolve are going to bring vodka for everyone. Nas darovia!


Detective work in Kingdom Come won't hold your hand

by: Randy - - 0 Comments

Any day that gives us more info about Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a good day. Today is one of those days. In a "The Good, the Bad, and the Sneaky" video, developer Warhorse Studios shows us the beautiful countryside of Bohemia 1403.

In a world where Destiny is celebrated for its skyboxes and The Witcher can shape every turn into a picture perfect portrait, it's sobering just how...sober...the land and sky is in Kingdom Come. I mean, looking at this video, there's no sprawling Hanging Tree to navigate by. There's no distant, lustrous castle on a mountaintop to guide your horse. This is historical fiction in a medium dominated by fantasy fiction. For exploration-heavy players (like myself), this is more like playing GeoGuessr while wearing plate mail armor. Historicity isn't known for racking up too many points on Metacritic. I mean, unless you're an Assassin's Creed rendition of a particular vacation spot you'd enjoyed visiting in the real world. 

But just look. The stonework on the buildings is practical. The lack of decor on the rooftops is practical. The armor and weapons are so practical they almost make you wonder what's so cool about medieval armor and weapons in the first place.

Except for the fact that medieval armor and weapons are, in the first place, awesome. That's that realness, son.

What unexpected in this video is how much of a murder-mystery Kingdom Come starts off as. But, as I'd hoped, the game isn't going to hold your hand a whole lot in solving this early-on mission. You don't get Witcher senses to point out some glowing footprints through the woods. You don't get a clairvoyance spell to highlight a sparkly breadcrumb trail leading you to the murder weapon. You get to open your eyes, question some witnesses, and do a little pixel hunting. This game may ask more of my patience than I was prepared for. I love it.

Also, lest I forget to mention, I want to highlight that menu/map screen. The map looks like an honest-to-God medieval pen-and-ink mural. I am going to just die now. I'm dead.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance will absolutely dominate the conversation in the RPG community when it launches in three months on February 13, 2018.

Getting dirty with iRacing

by: Dave - - 0 Comments

For those that aren't paying attention, pay-to-play iRacing is seemingly starting to feel the competitive heat from the ever-improving "buy once, play forever" racing sims like Project Cars 2.

While the AI in PC2 still has a bit of maturation to go before it can truly replace iRacing's model wherein you race against actual humans, it can probably be safely said that PC2's online multiplayer is getting pretty close to being just as good as iRacing too. PC2 needs tighter racing rules to keep the wreckers at bay, but there will come a time when people feel that PC2 is close enough when one factors in the subscription cost for iRacing. Now it's possible that I am simply projecting because this is the year that I will let my iRacing lapse - all it took was the change to 25% off on Black Friday from the 50% discount I (and my wife, who keeps control of the finances) was used to.

So, what is iRacing doing to try to keep pace with the competition? Most recently, it was the addition of dirt tracks. That may sound like a simple thing, but given that one of iRacing's biggest selling points is the high fidelity tire/track physics model they have spent years perfecting, and the huge difference in the way tires perform on dirt versus pavement, it is probably safe to say that they made the investment in a new type of racing out if necessity.

Having upgraded the physics modelling and and released a few dirt tracks, they are now turning towards creating a larger stable of dirt cars to use on the new tracks. The latest entry is a midget car. And not just any midget car; they are modelling Christopher Bell's midget car. Chris won the biggest midget race of the season when he beat the field in the Chili Bowl this year. Located in Tulsa Oklahoma, the Chili Bowl is pretty much the ultimate race of the season. You could probably call it the Super Bowl of Midget Car racing, if you weren't worried about lawsuits from the NFL.

Note: I am in no way worried about that.

What I would be worried about (if I wasn't lapsing) is trying to keep a 900 lb. car with a 400 hp engine on a tiny, cramped track with nothing more than dirt for the tires to grab onto. That sounds pretty tough to a guy that thinks iRacing tracks are too slippery already!

There's no word on when it will be ready, but if my experience with iRacing is any guide, it's typically a six month wait from the time they start openly talking about it until you can drive it. Maybe if they wise up on their Black Friday sale next year, I'll get a chance to try it out. And hey, I could be wrong - it happened once before.

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