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Killing Floor 2 is hectic and gory, and will be on Early Access this month

Apr 07 // Alessandro Fillari
Killing Floor 2 (PC [previewed], PlayStation 4)Developer: Tripwire InteractivePublisher: Tripwire Interactive Release date: April 21, 2015 (Steam Early Access)MSRP: $29.99 Set sometime after the zombie pandemic that swept England, the virus has now crossed over to Europe, creating chaos and destruction in its wake. Returning from their exploits in England, the survivors travel to Europe in order to continue their fight against the swarms of the undead and the mutated scientists that gave rise to such horrid creations. As you battle waves of foes, you'll acquire the cash to expand your arsenal and skills to take on greater challenges that await. For those unfamiliar, Killing Floor 2 continues with its predecessor's focus on fast-paced cooperative action set on several maps across zombie- and monster-infested locales. Starting off with the basics -- pistols, knives, and healing and welding tools -- each kill earns you dosh (in-game currency), which can be spent at stores in between waves. As you clear waves, the challenges become far more difficult, as common zeds will be in greater numbers, and special elite monsters will also come into the mix (beware the Sirens and Flesh Pounds!). You'll have to learn the layout of the levels to know certain choke-points to take out the hoard, and which doors to keep welded shut in order to slow their movement throughout the map. With the announcement of Early Access, the devs wanted players to get their hands on KF2 to not only experience a sizable taste of the eventual final release, but to also allow for hardcore fans to give their thoughts and feedback, which they hope to implement into future updates. At launch on April 21, players will have four classes to choose from -- such as the melee-focused Berserker, the assault class Commando, the back-up unit Support class, and also the Field Medic. Each class focuses on the core functions of the team, and ranking them up will unlock special perks and upgrades that can be chosen to create builds. Though keep in mind, there will be another six classes to choose from in the final release. Many of the characters from the original game, such as Mr. Foster, DJ Skully, and Reverend Alberts have returned, along with a new set of characters joining the struggle. Not only is there a stronger focus on diverse characters of different genders and nationalities, they're each far more fleshed out and given more presence. Instead of just flavor text accompanying their character art like in the original, each character has detailed dialog in-game, which sees the survivors have banter with one another during battles. I stuck with the gas mask wearing Mr. Foster for most of my session, and I was pleased to see that there any many different clothing and accessory options for him. Which is reassuring, as he's one of the most popular characters and the different options will be sure to help players differentiate. "For the characters in this game, we wanted to give each of them their own unique personality," said art director David Hensley while discussing the roster. "We also wanted to add in female characters from the start, so every character has their own unique voice and script. We put a lot of time into concept art, developing their character and back-stories." Unfortunately the one character than many loved to hate, The Trader, didn't make it over the course of the epidemic. After realizing how reckless it was to have traders keep shops open in heavily infested battle zones, weapon manufacturers have sent several 3D printing pods down to the warzones, which allow for easy and quick access to their merchandise. The shop menu feels much more refined. Not only that, the selection of gear feels way more diverse. Of course, you have your selection of pistols, shotguns, rifles, and melee weapons. But the arms dealers have some new toys to show off to the humans battling the horde, such as a medic machine gun that will heal allies and kill zeds with the same rounds, and a heavy weapon that fires off buzzsaws. The developers took a lot of notes over the years from the KF community, which they applied to its sequel. In many ways, this is a culmination of years of work from Killing Floor and even the Red Orchestra series. Many tweaks and upgrades made to the game and its engine are from direct feedback they've gotten, and with the Early Access build, they plan on adding another layer of refinement. For instance, the difficulty modes have been tweaked. Beginner mode has been removed, placing Normal as the lowest setting, while a brand new mode called Hell on Earth is now the highest difficulty to choose from. In the latter, swarms are increased and they take more damage. While the gameplay is very much the same, it feels far more polished than in the original title. For instance, the visuals on display are a massive upgrade. Not only is combat chaotic, and incredibly gory -- seriously, the levels were caked with blood and guts during the later waves -- the pace feels much faster and to the point. No more having to travel great distances to the battles, as the layout feels tighter. Moreover, the super stylish but somewhat jarring slow-mo Zed Time (which triggers when players get a critical hit) has been slightly reworked, and only comes into effect when you trigger it or are within range. Furthermore, the melee attacks have be upgraded somewhat. Not only are there new melee weapons to use, there are also situations where your character will be grabbed by enemies, either boss characters or common zeds, and you'll have to use your melee moves to free yourself. In addition to these upgrades, server browsing has been upgraded, allowing for easier searches through the browser, and will even work with the brand-new Party feature. This was in response to the original's server listing, which the devs admittedly said wasn't all that great, and they also wanted to stick together instead of coordinating outside the game to find a place to play. With the party option, a group of six can join as a party, which will keep you together while looking for servers to play your next game. During our session, we played on several maps on a variety of different difficulties. On the Burning Paris map, we took to the streets of France's capital city to fight off zeds from a number of semi-secure locations. With the Support class, I was able to help weld doors much quicker than other players, which only served as a temporary solution to an overarching zed problem. I was cleaning house with the AA-12 shotgun, which allowed me to mow down foes quickly. And yes, activating Zed Time with it was super satisfying. After surviving the final wave, we managed to make it to the final round against the boss monster. Though the Patriarch was the recurring boss monster in the previous title, Killing Floor 2 aims to switch it up with several randomly-chosen boss characters to battle against. This new one, which unfortunately I am unable to describe specifically due to the developers wanting to keep it as a surprise, was certainly different than the Patriarch. The fight was brutal and rough, and I'm sure many fans who've longed for a new boss to fight will enjoy it. But as you could probably guess, we didn't make it. The new boss overpowered us easily, and we only got him whittled down to half health before he took us all out. We had quite a bit of time with the Early Access build, and I'm inclined to think that many fans are in for something special once this is out on the market. Thankfully, the folks at Tripwire listened to the community and didn't stray too far from what the made the original such a blast to play. And not only that, the developers have been keeping an eye on modded content from the original game, which prompted them to incorporate official Steam Workshop support for Killing Floor 2. So go nuts, modders! I've played quite a bit of the original Killing Floor, and I had a blast experiencing what the developers have in store for the next installment. Initially, I was pretty worried that it would be exactly the same game with just a fresh coat of paint, and while that's true to an extent, it truly doesn't need all that much change to make it a solid follow-up. At its core, it's a game about shooting stuff up and working with a group to take down impossible hoards in gory over-the-top fashion. And Killing Floor 2 definitely succeeds in that. With Early Access, there will be three maps, four classes, eleven unique monsters, eight playable characters, a new boss monster, and also mod support for custom levels and the like. With their "Early Access done right" mantra, Tripwire feels that giving players a good chunk of the game along with the tools to reconfigure and customize it to their liking is what fans want. I'm definitely excited to see what's next for Killing Floor 2 in the coming months.
Killing Floor 2 photo
Dosh! Grab it while it's hot!
It's been a good while since the release of the original Killing Floor back in 2008. Over the years, its been sitting on the Steam best-sellers list for quite some time, and built a loyal and dedicated following. While hoard-...

Space Sluggers photo
Space Sluggers

Space Sluggers is chaotic and so incredibly cheesy


Everyone fights, no one quits
Mar 27
// Alessandro Fillari
I'm quite a fan of old-school action shoot-'em-ups. Back in the day, I used to venture off to an arcade at my local pizza place and just chill out. With particular titles like Ikari Warriors, Smash TV, and Commando focusing o...
GTA V photo
GTA V

The GTA V update turned my character black


#RaceTogether
Mar 26
// Robert Summa
Okay, I admit: sometimes I do wish I were black. However, that desire never translated into the virtual gaming space because, I don't know, I guess I felt it didn't really represent me? Well, thanks to the recent Grand Theft ...

Dirty Bomb aims high with its focus on hardcore FPS action

Mar 26 // Alessandro Fillari
Dirty Bomb (PC)Developer: Splash DamagePublisher: Nexon Release date: March 26th 2015 (Open Access) "For us, we were kind of accustomed to shipping packaged products and retail games, so that within itself was a different mentality to production,"said Splash Damage co-founder and chief branding officer Richard Jolly while discussing their transition to developing a free-to-play title. "So you essentially get the game to what is considered open beta, which is pretty much the final game in most cases, and then the players will play it, release a few updates and a bit of DLC, and then you walk away from it. But with Dirty Bomb, we're kind of back to mod-making. It's constantly evolving, and the game we had in the alpha with our fans is completely different than what we had now. It's interesting to have that level of transparency with our fans, and that's really helped us because we're still actively developing the game." [embed]289520:57922:0[/embed] Set in near-future London, the city had been plunged into chaos after a mysterious "dirty bomb" released toxic gases and large amounts of radiation. In the years since, London is now an abandoned husk of its former self, and the only ones willing to venture into the decaying remains of England's capital city are mercenaries who see the opportunity where others do not. With valuables and other fortunes to find in London, those crazy enough to set foot inside will have to fight for their riches in order to make it out on top. While on the surface it feels like a grittier and more mature take on Team Fortress 2, there's certainly a lot more going on with Dirty Bomb than at first glance. In total, there are several unique characters with their own arsenals and backstories. While many of them share a similar archetype, such as the sniper, medic, and assault classes, they each have access to their own particular set of skills and weapons that are specific to them. There's a lot of humor and humanity found in Dirty Bomb, and the accompanying flavor text that describes each character and their motives for merc work did a lot to bring me in. When in battle, you can select a squad of three characters. These three are the characters you can switch off from during the game, so you'll have to choose wisely. I mostly stuck with Phoenix, Vassili, and Arty, a medic, sniper, and support group. Though I initially was confused on how exactly I could switch off between the character gear, I quickly picked it up after a few minutes of play. Essentially, the members of your squad are loadouts, similar to those in Call of Duty or Battlefield, and you'll have need to switch between them in order to stay ahead of your foes. During a match in the game mode Stopwatch, a neat mix between the standard demolition and capture the flag modes, I was able to switch off between the characters when they were needed. Set on the map Terminal, the attackers have to plants charges on a wall within the quarantine zone in order to gain access to the train station that houses valuable documents that the attackers need to destroy -- but of course, the data is being protected by another group of mercs who aim to keep them intact. Playing on both sides, I found that I needed to switch up my classes more often, as when I was attacking I had to stay healed more often. While on defense, I needed to pick off the oncoming threat from afar. I was really impressed with how the flow of the game motivated me to switch things up more often, as I usually just stick with one class in other titles. I felt I experimented more often in this title than in most other shooters. This aspect of experimentation was something that the developers wished they players would explore. "Games are always an evolution, right? Especially since we were making this for ourselves, before the publisher stepped in," said lead designer Neil Alphonso. "We wanted to really bring out the characters of the mercs. They look really cool, and we wanted to reflect that in the gameplay more. So far it's worked really well, we've had players come up with combinations that we would've never expected in closed testing that we never would've expected, and of course we're gonna have to keep adjusting to that." When you win matches and collect cash, you can purchase cases that yield merc cards that offer a different variation for each character. Spanning across different rarity types, each type of card will offer that specific character a new loadout and special perks. For instance, I found a found a bronze card for Vassili, which not only gave him a new sniper rifle with higher rate of fire, but also gave him the ability to throw his melee weapon. As you find rarer cards, you'll gain access to new abilities and weapons for your characters. Though lead and bronze cards are very common, silver and gold cards really change the game for your characters, as they turn your merc into an elite badass decked out with perks and other special gear. While it's possible to the find much of the content on your own without ever spending a dime by combining junk cards and turning them into rare ones -- there are many different options to take advantage of if you feel as though you want get content quicker. As credits can be acquired pretty easily, you can always be comfortable with what you have, and the developers were clear that Dirty Bomb is a game that will not be "pay-to-win." "If you're making a competitive shooter, something that's hardcore, then the first thing people want is a fair playing field," said Alphonso. "The way I look at it, and it's a bit idealistic, but you just have to make a game that people enjoy enough, that they want to give you money. Rather than they feel like they need you to in order to compete." It's not too often that we see a F2P title with so much openness and transparency from the developers. Generally, the free-to-play genre has somewhat of a bad reputation because of poor practices from certain titles. And while it's understandable that many players feel a bit apprehensive for upcoming ones, I can say that Dirty Bomb was a pretty rad title in the hours I spent with it. Though I kinda wished that the developers stuck with Brink's traversal system, because that'd be such a welcome fit for this game, I found the action in DB to be pretty hectic, bombastic, and super satisfying to take part in. Not only did I feel like I got in some great action moments, going on a seven-kill streak was pretty damn great, but I also felt like I was a pretty integral part of the team as a healer and support unit. With the game available on Steam, now's your chance to get involved with the game that's been in the works for quite some time. And since it's still an on-going process, the developers have continued plans to roll out new features and content in the coming months, such as new maps and other cool content. I had a blast (no pun intended), and the folks from Splash Damage haven't lost their touch for fast and frenetic FPS gameplay.
Dirty Bomb photo
Rule 1: Don't be a dick
The folks at Splash Damage have been busy over the last two years. Since the release of Brink and a stint on Batman: Arkham Origins' multiplayer, they figured it was time to return to their roots with a heavy focus on PC...

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online resorts to time travel to boost recruitment in April


Because war is coming
Mar 24
// Josh Tolentino
Ah, time travel. It's a staple of science fiction, and Star Trek has played host to more than a few yarns about tripping the light chronologic. Thus it's not unusual to see a few time-travel quests lodged into MMORPG Star Tre...

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void seeks to conclude the trilogy with an exciting finale

Mar 18 // Alessandro Fillari
StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void (Mac, PC [previewed])Developer: Blizzard EntertainmentPublisher: Blizzard EntertainmentRelease date: TBA 2015 "Not only is this the conclusion of the StarCraft II trilogy, but also the conclusion to the StarCraft story," said lead game producer Tim Morten. "It really ties together the storylines we've had over the years, and this particular installation will focus on the Protoss." With the previous campaigns focusing on the exploits of the Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan of the Terran and Zerg factions, Legacy of the Void shifts the point of view to the Protoss and its leader Artanis. With the looming threat of the fallen one, Amon, the Protoss and the other factions must ready for battle as the malevolent being seeks to corrupt the galaxy with its powers. As the conclusion to the StarCraft II trilogy, everything has come to this moment, and the upcoming battles will decide the fate of the entire universe. Much like the previous installments, Legacy of the Void is a standalone release that won't require the other entries to play. Though players who've invested time in everything that is StarCraft II thus far will surely have a greater experience, Legacy is a title the developers at Blizzard hope will be accessible for newcomers as well. Though rest assured, Legacy of the Void has every intention of maintaining the high-level play and nuance the series is known for. However, the developers wish to offer newcomers a way to ease into the experience rather than take the trial-by-fire approach. With the new expansion, there's a larger focus on team and cooperative play this time around. Debuting in the expansion are two new gameplay modes called Archon and Allied Commander. For the former, two players will work together to build a base and defend it against enemies. This is essentially co-op mode for the standard competitive mode. While it's exciting for high-level play -- there's twice the efficiency and output -- the developers also hope it'll prove to be an effective learning tool for new players. With an experienced player working as a helping hand alongside a newcomer, they'll be able to learn the ropes much faster. In Allied Commander, players will be able to control the various heroes of the StarCraft universe including Jim Raynor to Sarah Kerrigan. The mode, which lets you take them on a unique campaign as they level up and boost their forces, seems to pull in the best parts of the story mode with the hectic action found in multiplayer battles. Of course, with the new expansion Blizzard has added a whole slew of tweaks and additions. Given such a sizable time between releases, the team was able to gather a lot of player data and make necessary changes. For instance, each faction has new units and upgrades to existing stats and attributes. As the community manages to push the game to its limits, the developers have to try and experiment with new upgrades and tweaks to gameplay. The in-game economy has been altered to encourage expansion and movement, for example, which will yield greater rewards for your base. Moreover, attack damage and range have been tweaked a bit to allow players to use existing and new units in different ways. And speaking of the new units, the folks at Blizzard went all out with upgrades for the factions. The Terran now have access to the Cyclone tank, which can link up with other like units to deal bonus damage. The Zerg has a long-range unit called the Ravager that can deal poisonous area-of-effect damage and disable Protoss shields. And finally, the Protoss can now call forth the Adept, which focuses on close-range combat. The unique thing about the Adept is its shade ability, as it allows the unit to summon a player-controlled ghost of itself to move around the battlefield. After a set amount of time, the Adept will teleport to the position that the shade was in previously. There's impressive potential for these units, and it'll be interesting to see how players experiment with new strategies. Admittedly, I'm a novice when it comes to StarCraft, but I've been an admirer of the series for a long time. I've found a lot to like with this brief taste of the expansion, which will have some of the biggest additions the series has seen in a long time. The changes I've mentioned only scratch the surface for what's been added, such as movable Siege Tanks, new abilities for the existing units, and tweaks to movement and attack damage to name a few. With the upcoming beta, Blizzard hopes to test the waters with these new changes in order to get player feedback on what they would like to see happen in the expansion. Obviously, the series owes much to its fanbase, so it's great as always to see the developers open up with invites to the beta on March 31 to give them a deep and thorough look. Although the official release date is still unknown at this point, it'll be exciting to see how the game evolves from here.
StarCraft II finale photo
Invites for beta on March 31
Where were you when that debut trailer for StarCraft II popped up online? It made its announcement all the way back in 2007 at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in South Korea. Much has changed since then. With the release ...

My Little Pony avatars photo
My Little Pony avatars

My Little Pony avatars available for PS3 at $3.99 each


More expensive than the classic horse armor
Mar 18
// Jed Whitaker
Grown men who feel connected with female ponies from a cartoon aimed at young girls are currently celebrating and throwing money at their TV screens as five My Little Pony avatars are now available for the PlayStation 3 ...
PS free photo
PS free

Another dose of free PS4 online multiplayer drops this weekend


'North America only for now'
Mar 16
// Jordan Devore
PS4 owners resisting the siren song of PS Plus can partake in free online multiplayer from Friday, March 20 at 12:01am Pacific through Sunday, March 22 at 11:59pm Pacific in North America. That's the beginning and end of this news story, but how 'bout that face-stretching header image? King Star King, everybody. Free Online Multiplayer This Weekend for All PS4 Players [PlayStation Blog]

Mortal Kombat X brings back some familiar faces for Story Mode

Mar 12 // Alessandro Fillari
Mortal Kombat X (PC, PS4 [previewed], PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360)Developer: NetherRealm StudiosPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentRelease date: April 14, 2015 I think we were all pretty shocked by the culling of the majority of the Mortal Kombat roster in the last game. Many of the central characters that have been with the series for the long haul were killed off unceremoniously during the story, which was crazy because it was permanent. And although descendants and new variations of the characters are set to return, the cull was about giving Mortal Kombat a fresh roster for its next installment. During our hour spent with MKX, we saw quite a bit of the game's content, and even a few surprises that we can't share at this point. But I'll let Abel explain his thoughts on the future of MK. Abel: So let's get the big news out of the way: Johnny Cage is back! NetherRealm hasn't lost its touch with Story Mode. Like Mortal Kombat before it, Mortal Kombat X breaks its story into chapters, each following a specific character. It's absolutely the best storytelling in the genre, allowing you to play with most of the roster while delivering a cohesive narrative. We've come a long way from beating arcade modes with every fighter and trying to piece together the events. During our preview, we only got our hands on chapter one starring Johnny Cage. It was a great chapter though, packed with character reveals -- we got to fight against Scorpion, zombie Jax, and Sub Zero, as well as Shinnok. Oh, and Fujin is back, tearing armies up with his bestie Raiden. If I had to pick a gripe though, I was not a fan of all the choreographed fights in this chapter, some of which dragged on to the point of annoyance. I'm all for kicking back and watching Johnny Cage beat the stuffing out of Scorpion as a helicopter goes down, but there came a point where these scenes would drag on so long as to actively annoy me that the real fight hadn't started yet. The quick-time events didn't help much either, especially considering that success or failure in them had no bearing on the real fight, like they did in Injustice. Here's to hoping Johnny's chapter is the only one like this. [embed]288771:57744:0[/embed] Alessandro: I was a big fan of the previous MK's Story Mode, so it was exciting to see them continue on with that. What surprised me most was that chapter one with Johnny Cage essentially served as the epilogue for what happened in the ending with Shinnok and Quan-Chi in MK9.  It only takes place about a year or so after that story, and by the chapter's end it seemed to have the MK9 storyline wrapped up for the most part, which will lead the way for MKX's central story (which is set over the course of 25 years). But I suppose this goes along with this game being a somewhat clean break from the mythos into something new.  Abel: A new mythos will definitely be welcome, and from the recent story trailer and what we've played, it seems headed firmly in that direction. If I had one fear before playing Story Mode, it's that MKX would retread the stories of MK4 through Deception, the same way MK9 covered MK1-3. Alessandro: After Deadly Alliance, I felt that the series maybe got a bit too away from itself, and just went for a more 'kitchen-sink' approach. As in they threw in everyone from past and present into the story at once. A lot of the content and characters felt like filler, and catered more to the ridiculous side of Mortal Kombat. That's not necessarily bad, but I appreciate that the series is going for a more leaner and refined approach now. MK9 did a lot to help bring it back, and I'm really pleased with MKX following suit with its gameplay. Abel: HEY!!! I liked Chess Kombat, but you're right, combat is king in MKX. This was my third time playing MKX, and what struck me most was how comfortable the combat felt. None of the combos you spent time mastering in MK9 will translate, but familiarity with those games will be a leg up. With returning characters, a lot of the special moves either have the same input as MK9 or a similar logic. Down-back-something for a teleport, down-forward-something for a projectile, etc. What has changed the most though are projectiles and teleports, both of which feel much more punishable. Projectiles in generally all feel much slower than MK9, with lots of telegraphing to boot. Make the mistake of missing with your opponent nearby, and you're open for a big punish. Same goes for teleports which, when thrown out in a pinch, more often than not led to me and Alessandro trading hits.  Alessandro: I basically stuck with my favorites, Sub-Zero and Ermac. The variations system made them feel familiar, but still pretty fresh. I think this system will add a lot of nuance for the characters, as each style will completely change their modus operandi. Interestingly enough, the variations were locked during Story Mode, so it seems like they'll switch between the styles during the chapter's narrative for specific moments. I also really dug the fact that it's taking cues from Injustice for the meta-leveling system. You got experience and koins for completing matches in Story Mode, which could be invested towards factions and other rewards. I appreciate that it's all connected together. Abel: Speaking of connectivity (SEGUE!), NetherRealm announced a Mortal Kombat X iOS version, not unlike what was done for Injustice. By "not unlike" I really just mean "the exact same thing." Combat is the same tap for light attacks, swipe for heavy attacks, then build up meter to unleash a super move or X-Ray attack. Characters all come as cards and fight in teams of three with bronze, silver, and gold variations of each. You upgrade your cards, improve their stats, and fight your way up increasingly difficult ladders. Again, it's exactly the same. The monetization plan is the same too, offering a store to purchase new characters cards or energy to fight. The most interesting thing are the unlocks you can get by linking your WBID to your app and full game. The Batman Beyond suit in Injustice was amazing, so here's to hoping MKX will have similarly cool rewards. ----- Our time with the MKX came to a close after our hands-on with the mobile devices. We definitely wanted to give the versus mode another shot, as we obviously only scratched the surface of the game's content, but it's probably best we left at that point. Thankfully, the game is not too far off. I'm hoping that NetherRealm keeps a tight lid on what's in store for Mortal Kombat X till release. With new characters being shown off so often, I worry they're likely giving away too much. Regardless, we're plenty excited about what MKX has to offer. Abel totally geeked when Fujin appeared with Raiden to fight off Quan-Chi's forces, and I can tell that there will be plenty of those fan-service moments that diehard MK players will enjoy. For me, Story Mode in MK9 was the best the fighting game genre has ever had, and with the upcoming game pushing that even further, it's looking like we're in for something really special next month.
Mortal Kombat X photo
Heeeerrre's Johnny!
It's been less than a year since its reveal, and we're already rapidly approaching the release of Mortal Kombat X. After its predecessor essentially rebooted the franchise with a return to 2D-style combat, many fans got a new...

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online establishes in-game memorials for Leonard Nimoy


In Memoriam
Mar 08
// Josh Tolentino
Leonard Nimoy passed away last week. Though his legacy is broad and varied, most people know him best as Spock, Star Trek's most recognizable Vulcan. The same goes for the MMORPG Star Trek Online, as developer Cryptic Studios...

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide goes all in with hectic co-op action

Mar 03 // Alessandro Fillari
Set during The End Times, Warhammer's take on the apocalypse, the world has been plunged into chaos as war breaks out, forcing the many factions and groups to take up arms and fight back. Set within the city of Ubersreik, five heroes must defend the massive metropolis from the hordes of Skaven, a race of quasi-rat creatures, that wish to sack one of the remaining bastions of the world. As a co-op action brawler, players will be able to select a class of hero and take them through several stages throughout Ubersreik. Each with their own weapons and abilities, the characters feel unique from one another. Some classes can jump into the fray, while others might be better off at a distance. The four classes that have been announced so far -- the Witch-Hunter, Imperial Soldier, Wood Elf, and Pyromage -- have an individualized backstory and arc, which unfolds as you move across the city. During my session, I got to play as the Soldier and Wood Elf, and each had their own banter and point of view regarding the End Times. [embed]288516:57596:0[/embed] In case you haven't quite picked up on it, Vermintide channels a lot of Left 4 Dead, which is actually a really good thing. Gameplay-wise, players will travel from one end of the level to other while using melee and ranged abilities to fight off waves of foes and complete objectives -- and on a narrative level, the story happens in real time. While on one hand it feels a bit more subdued and smaller in scale than what Warhammer tends to dabble in, the focus on these characters in such a smaller setting creates a greater connection to them, which was also one of Left 4 Dead's greatest strengths. I'm looking forward to exploring the city with these characters, some of whom don't seem to get along that well. As you travel though the city, you'll come across many different variations of Skaven that seek to eliminate those remaining in Ubersreik.  Often times you will come across the common types, which can be killed with a single blow but can easily overwhelm; there are tougher variants, such as the gatling rat and heavy-armor Skaven, and rats wielding poison bombs that aim to separate your group. What's impressive about these encounters is that the A.I. will randomly spawn enemies and special hordes. During my two rounds of play, the types of encounters were different, and we even got ambushed much earlier than expected. This dynamic aspect of Vermintide is very interesting, and will definitely keep repeated play exciting. As you clear levels, you'll be able to acquire loot for your characters, such as new weapons and trinkets. Each class has their own type of drops, which encourages experimentation. If you're especially adventurous, replaying stages on higher difficulties will lead to much greater rewards -- though be warned that the encounters are much more perilous and the foes are far more cunning. It's refreshing to experience a Warhammer game with a deep focus on action. While the strategy and online games were fun, I always kinda wanted a game set in the universe that allowed you to get up close and personal. Though there's definitely still much work to be done here -- what I played was in pre-alpha -- there is certainly lot for Games Workshop fans to look forward to in Vermintide.
GDC 2015 photo
Warhammer: Apocalypse Edition
I've long been an admirer of the Warhammer franchise. While a lot of people seem to put more of their attention towards the 40K universe, the high-fantasy setting of the former is so rich and features such...

PS free photo
PS free

Lonely Valentine's Day? PS4 online multiplayer free this weekend


Remember when it was free every weekend...
Feb 09
// Steven Hansen
PlayStation Plus, what with its 11 million users, was an effective long con when it comes to making people feel okay with not-so-suddenly having to fork over cash for multiplayer privileges ("I'm already subscribed anyway..."...

Battlefield Hardline goes all in with final beta release

Feb 02 // Alessandro Fillari
Battlefield Hardline (PC [previewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Visceral GamesPublisher: EARelease date: March 17, 2015MSRP: $59.99 "It's challenging in the sense that with making videogames you kinda open yourselves up to a lot of feedback," said Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis while recalling the reaction from fans after the release of the previous beta. "Some of it warranted, others just hypothisizing about what you're doing, but our approach was from day one was to give the players the game and let them try it -- and with their help, build a better game." Coming off of their official reveal back at E3 2014, the developers at Visceral Games unveiled the release of a playable beta for all to play. While a lot of people were excited to see a different and pretty unique take on Battlefield, there were definitely concerns with seeing another title so soon after its predecessor. And with the reaction to their beta being a bit mixed to say the least, the information and affirmations they acquired from fans proved to be highly beneficial for them. The following month, they decided to delay launch for several months to fine-tune the game, and get it to where it needed to be. In light of what happened to the launch of Battlefield 4 back in 2013, which a lot of people still remember and hold a grudge for, it's certainly respectable, if bold, for the massive giant that is EA to hold off on releasing its next tent-pole title. But Papoutsis cites current leadership at the publisher and the developer's desire to go beyond what was expected as a major source for their decision to hold off on releasing. [embed]286881:57095:0[/embed] "When we announced at E3, we did something pretty different and we were pretty adamant about showing and letting people play it," said the executive producer. "Instead of just announcing it, we wanted to put it in people's hands, because we knew there were just a ton of Battlefield players and there were would be a lot of questions and skepticism. [....] And honestly, I kinda look at the feedback with a lens of these are passionate people about what the team is doing -- and that's really special to have people out there who are really invested in what the team is doing." "We got a ton of great feedback  [from the first beta], and we got so much feedback that when we sat down as a team and look at it all, we quickly realized that we wouldn't be able to action upon it at all with our original ship date (back in October)," said Papoutsis. "And when we realized that, we had a great conversation with Andrew Wilson (CEO of EA), and part of his vision for EA right now is to really put our players first. So once he understood that we as a team didn't have time to action on that feedback, he and the company were very supportive in giving us more time." A number of these changes are both sweeping and subtle. For instance, movement is much faster, vehicles are a bit more vunerable, weapons have more weight to them and damage output has been tweaked, class and perk abilities have been tweaked for balancing, and entire gameplay modes (such as Heist) have been given revisions to find an even stronger element of fun. And now on the eve of their final beta release, Visceral Game certainly feels confident that its title has gotten 'there'. 'There' being the place that all Battlefield players want the game to be. During our time with the new beta, we got the opportunity to play through several 32 player matches set across three modes, Hotwire, Heist, and Conquest.  In the four hours I had with Hardline, I found Heist and the tried and true Conquest modes to be my favorite. Like past BF games, Conquest pits players against each other on large maps as they battle for control of territories. This mode feels great with 32 players (and even better with 64), and the new style and personality that Hardline goes for really shines. Set on the Dustbowl map, which is a large desert community that occasionally gets hit with sandstorms, police were raiding the criminal's meth operation and had to secure the territory. There's a stronger narrative context to missions, which is something I really dug. With the Heist mode, you can finally recreate the same thrill of Heat's bank heist scene. Set on the Bank Job map, the crooks obviously have to plan out their attack and raid a bank, while making it to drop off points and securing them for helicopter pickup. Of course, the cops have to make sure they don't succeed. Heist was a real blast to play. I got a serious rush from blasting open the vault doors, while covering my exits from the police. And the other side is an entirely different experience. With police having the outside of the bank to mostly themselves, they can organize and keep an eye on the drop off points to take out wandering crooks. It definitely felt like the most complex mode in the beta, and it'll be interesting to see how heists turn out for different players. Unfortunately, I didn't find myself enjoying Hotwire too much. In this mode, you have to secure vehicles, which serve as mobile capture points that give teams respawn tickets. In theory it seemed cool, and I was excited to get into chases, but in my experiences I often found myself making laps around the map in the stolen vehicle without anyone on the enemy team coming after me. The dynamic seemed to focus around the hot spots and choke points on the map, and if you stay away from the action, then they'll likely ignore you for closer targets (and there are plenty of cars to go for). Don't get me wrong, there were definitely fun moments and I certainly had a rush t-boning an enemy controlled vehicle and having my teammates pump it full of lead, but the 'down time' during Hotwire felt really weird and a bit awkward. One aspect of Hardline that feels especially unique is that there is a stronger difference between the two factions. Stylistically, cops are far more by the book and stoic in the line of duty. While the criminals use harsh language and exude more attitude while on the job. Moreover, the type of weaponry and gear they use differs from the other side. The cops use high-tech weaponry and military-esque gear, while the criminals use makeshift gadgets and black market gear to get the job done. Of course, one side isn't at any particular advantage over the other, the differences here show of a greater level of personality not found in previous Battlefield that featured generic soldiers. "The idea of cops and robbers is something that a lot of people play, so we had a goal when developing this game was to make it feel very different.," said the executive producer. "A traditional military game takes place in military engagements, and they often put players at very far distances from each other, and there's no communications between opposing sides. But a lot of the interesting cop movies and TV crime dramas, a lot of what makes them interesting is the dynamic between the two factions [Police/Criminals]. It creates interesting dialog, sometimes humorous, sometimes really tense, but that shows an inherent difference between the settings." Customization is a staple of Battlefield, and Hardline definitely keeps with the tradition of allowing players to model and define their own character loadout. One of the criticisms from the previous beta was that factions could use weapons from opposing sides, as in a police officer could bring an AK or molotov cocktails to a fight. Which doesn't make too much sense considering the type of firepower they have. To remedy this, the developers introduced the Weapon License feature. As you rank up and gain proficiency with gear, you'll be able to unlock the right to use weapons from opposing sides and other rare guns for your character. You want your criminal to be decked out in SWAT weaponry? You can do it, but you gotta earn it. Another returning feature from previous games is the Commander mode. Now called Hacker mode, players can take position as an overseer within the battles, helping their team with boosting scores, hacking control points, spying on the enemy from security cameras, and even hindering the opposition with jamming skills. Playing Hacker wasn't really my thing, nor was it in the previous games, but anyone who's comfortable with Commander will feel right at home here, as the challenge of balancing skills and keeping an eye on your team is still there. Just make sure you know what you're doing. There's nothing worse than having a newbie on overwatch. With the beta period lasting only six days, this week is your last chance at giving Hardline a shot before its release in March. The folks at Visceral Games have certainly put in the work, and with the amount pressure on them now, especially considering it's coming after the ill-fated BF4, they certainly feel the need to deliver. I had a blast with the beta, and I definitely would've put in more hours if I could. Hardline feels much faster, and far more tighter than previous titles, while still retaining the scope and 'epicness' that the series is known for. And no, this doesn't feel like a mod or re-skin. Perhaps its first beta did, but now it certainly feels like a title that can stand on its own. While I wished I would've liked Hotwire more, since its one of the original features that's coming with Battlefield Hardline, the remaining modes certainly live up to the series' pedigree. Playing Hardline's conquest mode with 64 players was an incredible rush, and experiencing the map specific changes was incredibly fun. If you were one of the many who just couldn't get down with the original beta, then this new and improved take might just win you over. The changes were like night and day compared to the original, and it's very reassuring to see the game in pretty polished state. And that's a lot more than could be said about Battlefield 4's launch state.
BF Hardline preview photo
Here comes the fuzz
It's not too often we see a major publisher humbled. With the announcement of Battlefield Hardline last year, EA and Visceral Games were ready to release another entry in the epic and grandiose Battlefield series. But soon af...

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Username changes coming to Minecraft


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Dungeons II takes a humorous approach to being the bad guy

Nov 14 // Alessandro Fillari
Dungeons II (PC [Previewed], Mac, Linux)Developer: RealmForgePublisher: Kalypso MediaRelease Date: Q1 2015 Set in a Medieval-fantasy world full of humans and orcs on the brink of war, you play as the Dungeon Lord. Due to a magical spell, you are bound to your throne in a cave, and must rely on your minions to do your bidding. With the humans drawing closer to your realm, you must break the spell by expanding your resources and your army in order to fortify your dungeon, while retaking territory from the humans on the surface. While this may sound as generic as it gets, and it certainly does at first glance, Dungeons II takes great pride in defying expectations and subverting them. During my first hour, I found that Dungeons II felt very much like a parody of generic fantasy/adventure games. Many of the tropes and cliches are mocked and made light of, despite adhering to them in humorous fashion. Moreover, Kevan Brighting, the Narrator from The Stanley Parable, offers his talents here by breaking the fourth-wall to mock player's slow progress, and even going after the video games ratings system. I was always entertained throughout, and a lot of that had to do with the game's comedic tone.[embed]283823:56328:0[/embed]As the sequel to the original Dungeons, you're tasked with expanding the scope and scale of your dungeon, while keeping your minions happy. As you send your lesser underlings to create rooms for resources, and digging for gold, you have to monitor their happiness levels or else they'll revolt. By building breweries, you can keep them drunk and content, while paying for their services as well. As you build your base of operations, you'll eventually be visited by humans from the surface, looking to see what all the commotion is about. From here, you'll have to set traps and send out stronger minions to confront them and protect the Dungeon Lord.But here is where things get a little different. Once you've built the necessary resources and have a sizable force, you can send your minions up to the surface to retake territory. Switching over from Dungeon Keeper gameplay to RTS style mechanics similar to WarCraft or Dawn of War, the pacing changes up considerably. From here, you can battle your foes and sack their villages, turning the whimsical and lush environment, to barren and scorched wastelands.I was very impressed with how seamlessly Dungeons II transitions between the two different styles of gameplay. You can switch between the two on the fly with no loading whatsoever, which makes alternating between battles on the surface and making sure your minions in the dungeon are collecting resources very simple. Though be sure not to divide your forces so readily. If your send all your offensive minions outside, you can potentially leave yourself open to attack, as the lesser minions in the dungeon cannot defend themselves or the Dungeon Lord.Eventually, the Dungeon Lord and his forces will grow in power and come into conflict with other foes of the fantasy world, such as Dwarves and Elves, and they'll utilizes skills and tactics that will put abilities as the lord of evil to the test. During my session, I came into contact with a tribe of goblins hiding out from the Humans. Realizing that their resources would be put to better use elsewhere, the  Lord recruited them and used their tinkering skills to build devices to defend the dungeon.Even though my time with the game wasn't as long as I would've hoped, I came away pretty pleased with what I experienced. Though I'm generally not a fan of RTS titles, I did enjoy my time with Dungeons II. I was very much impressed with the sense of humor on display. It's always great to play a medieval-fantasy game that doesn't take itself seriously, and even makes some light-hearted jabs at the genre.With much more of the game in store, and including four-player online mode, Dungeons II looks to be a very solid and unique take on the classic Dungeon Keeper gameplay. If you're eager for a game where you play as the bad guy, then you'll want to keep this one on your radar.
Dungeons II photo
Make way for the villain
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Play online without a PlayStation Plus subscription
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Her turnip is possibly mistaken as an item
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RollerCoaster Tycoon World is a return to form, features robust online modes and offline play

Sep 02 // Alessandro Fillari
"It is a challenge to try and stay ahead of the game, if you will, to create new and exciting content for our users that expect something great," said Atari CEO Fred Chesnais. "One hand, it's a challenge -- and we love a challenge, and if we make mistakes we fix them. The other hand we have this community that's support is so communicative, so we can talk about it and give us input." As with the previous games, you’re in charge with building and managing an amusement park. It’s your job to make sure the attractions are fun, the visitors are happy, and all the while making as much profit as possible. This time around, players have more options to make their own park unique. Everything from the park environment’s setting, stylistic aesthetic (such as Americana, Sci-Fi, and Western styles), and arrangement can be freely altered and shifted without any wait. The way people play simulators has changed since the last RollerCoaster Tycoon game on PC 10 years ago. And with the return to the PC, the developers wanted to incorporate online features. Online play is robust and very extensive. Players can observe the creation and management of another player’s park, acquire blueprints for rides, and they can even engage in four-player co-op and create an amusement park together, with each player manning their own section. But of course, if you’re not interested in playing online, you can build and manage your park in solitude offline. "We thought it was super important to be playable offline and to offer more than just a simple sandbox mode," said Chesnais. "We understand that people want to play this game at their own pace, when they have the opportunity to play it. Additionally, we thought it was important for us to include co-op play. The competitive nature of so many of these games now is we see that so many people stay engaged, whether they can play co-op play environments. So we thought it was very important that they had that choice." One of the core goals of RollerCoaster Tycoon World was to streamline the attraction building, while at the same time giving players more options to customize and refine the park to their liking. For instance, building rides now uses a node-based construction system. Placing a node will set the first piece of the track, and each node gives players the option to lay or remove tracks, raise or lower height, and increase pitch for turns. This allows for players to create rides quickly, but is also deep and intricate enough to give the hardcore builders enough options to make something incredibly ambitious. Moreover, when connected online, you can visit another player’s park and request the blueprint for rides that you like. With the blueprint you can recreate and tweak their ride to your liking. And yes, you can ride the coasters in first-person view to see the death-defying results up close. While the game is still fairly early in development, the developers at Pipeworks are making good progress so far. When it'll be released is anyone's guess, but what I've seen showed that this new RollerCoaster sim is a return to what fans expect from the series.
RollerCoaster Tycoon photo
CEO of Atari talks lessons learned and getting the series back on track
Back at gamescom, Atari announced RollerCoaster Tycoon World, a new installment to the much-loved amusement park series. However, after a 10-year series hiatus from the PC and the debut of the polarizing RollerCoaster Tycoon ...

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DDoS attack on Sony servers?


Blizzard, Riot Games, and Grinding Gear also victimized
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See some new screenshots for LittleBigPlanet 3


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How would you feel if your online opponent was secretly a bot?

Jul 27 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]278687:55038:0[/embed] Most art, including videogames, is about tricking the audience into thinking something is "real" when it's just a construction from the artist's imagination. The catch is, the audience is usually given full disclosure that they thing that they are about to witness is fiction. They're told upfront that they're about to be tricked, which keeps them from feeling taken advantage of, at least in theory. Wondering if my online experience with Wii Sports Club Boxing was "real" or not took me back to when The Blair Witch Project was first released. A lot of people who hadn't researched the movie before going into it came out thinking it was "real" too. They thought the footage was all legit; that someone really edited together what a snuff film starring a witch and some dead college students and put it in theaters. When they found out later that is was all made up, some were impressed that the film had suspended their disbelief so effectively, while others were outraged that they were made to think that the movie was "better than it actually was". This conversation ended up being more interesting than the movie itself, and probably did a lot to contribute to its financial success.  Which side of that fence would you end up on if it turned out that not all of your online gaming experiences were "honest"? If a game's publisher manufactured online opponents give you a better experience, would you care? Does it matter if you're told that some aspects of the game aren't as "real" as you might otherwise believe?
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