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International 2015 $10M photo
International 2015 $10M

The International 2015's prize pool is now over $10 million


Two-thirds of the way there!
May 30
// Patrick Hancock
Dota 2's prize pool for the upcoming Internaltional 2015 tournament has just passed $10M. The pool is increased each time players buy a Compendium, which allows players to make predictions and bask in the glory of all of the ...

Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III

May 30 // Patrick Hancock
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: NeocoreGamesPublisher: NeocoreGamesMSRP: $14.99Release Date: May 22, 2015  For anyone who has played and enjoyed the first two games in the series, the third installment is likely worth the investment, despite its issues. It offers a solid form of closure to the trilogy in terms of story -- but be warned, the rest of the game doesn't feel nearly as fleshed out. Van Helsing III starts off with a great summary of the events that have transpired so far, but there’s a lot assumed of the player in terms of game mechanics at play. The tutorial does a decent job of covering the basics, but it is very possible for new players to completely overlook entire portions of the game if they’re not observant. The story picks up exactly where Van Helsing II left off. The New Bad Guy is in charge now, and Van Helsing and his ghastly partner Katarina are out to destroy him.  During their new adventure, Katarina’s backstory gets more fleshed out, and this is easily the most interesting part of the plot. Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss because most of it is told through in-game dialogue between Van Helsing and Katarina. Her dialogue, while it is displayed on screen, is constantly moving and is hard to hear under the noise of killing monsters. It's often triggered right as the player is about to take on a large group of enemies, making it impossible to simply “stop and listen.” Gameplay remains largely the same as it was in the past. Players can beef up their skills by spending Rage to increase certain aspects of the skill, like damage or duration. Each skill has three different elements that can be increased with Rage, and players can spend up to three points of Rage in any way they like; they can distribute one point to each element, or all three into one element to really increase its effect. It’s a very unique system that really elevates Van Helsing’s gameplay above many generic ARPGs. [embed]292802:58734:0[/embed] There are six new character classes to choose from, however players cannot import their character from the previous game. They can import a file for "Glory Points," which act as extra buffs, but this element of the game seems completely broken and doesn't function at all. The classes play rather differently, and players can vary how they approach each class’s strengths. I played through the campaign as the stealthy Umbralist, and made sure that I spent as much time as possible being invisible, so I focused on the spells that granted invisibility, which forced me to forfeit some burst damage by doing so. The skill tree has changed this time around, no longer requiring certain skills to be owned before taking another one. Instead, all of the skills are available to be taken from level one. Modifiers like extra damage or a bigger area of effect do require a certain amount of skill points in the skill itself before leveling up, however. This makes it more of a skill “bush” rather than a “tree,” since everything is easily picked without needing something else to get to the “higher” abilities. It’s nice to have free range, but there’s also no feeling of finally unlocking some badass skill in the late-game and about half of them feel useless. Chances are, player will choose 3-4 skills and stick with them forever. Katarina can also be customized, though her skills do follow the format of pre-requisites. Her mechanics remained unchanged and can still be toggled between melee, ranged, and a passive form that buffs her partner. She can also hold inventory and go back to the Lair and sell items without Van Helsing needing to do so himself.  Both Van Helsing and Kat have had their max level reduced -- hers is down to 25 and his is down to 30, half of what was offered in Van Helsing II. The game is rather short, and there's not much for players to do after reaching the max level. The "Neverending Story" mode from the past two games, which was essentially a New Game+ mode, is missing. I managed to complete the story in six hours, which wouldn't be an issue if there were any way to continue to progress. Since the max level is so low and there's no Neverending Story, there is little to no replayability in Van Helsing III. The tower defense mini-game returns in the "Lair" area, though players can completely opt out of it and instead send NPCs out to take care of the problem. The game mode itself also remains unchanged at its core. Build towers and traps to help defend against waves of enemies. The NPC missions also make a return, where the player can choose one of four leaders with various skills and traits to go out on missions and come back with sweet loot (well, mediocre loot usually). The Chimera can also be sent on its own missions, but can no longer be summoned into battle. All of these elements are fine, if a bit uninteresting, but they never come together as a cohesive whole. While out on missions, players will receive radio transmissions from the Lair saying things like “Hey man you gotta get back to the Lair! Bad guys are marching in and it’s bad news!” But if the player never returns or never click on that NPC, nothing happens. There’s no urgency to these missions and makes them feel incredibly disjointed. If the player never goes over to the Chimera section of the Lair, then they miss out on some more mediocre loot and an achievement or two, but that’s about it. For people familiar with the series or ARPGs in general, I recommend playing a difficulty above Normal. Playing through on Normal was much too easy, as the Umbralist could kill some bosses in a single hit. There are plenty of difficulties to choose from and a Hardcore option for those who think they can avoid death permanently. There are some bugs that I encountered during my time with the game. Some were minor, like the fact that if the Umbralist swings at nothing, no sound effects play or that some achievements are still broken. Others are more impactful. At one point the map's ground simply didn't exist, even though it looked like it did. According to patch notes this is fixed, but others are not, like the aforementioned Glory Points. Multiplayer with up to three other players is included once again, and if you can find someone near your region to play with, it isn't too laggy, but again bugs rear their ugly heads. Player VS. Player  (PvP) is also available, but it's hard to find people playing it and most players will probably have taken skills that focus on killing large groups at once, since that's what the Campaign is made up of. Scenarios also return, allowing players to play through zones with different modifiers, like constantly taking damage, to make things more difficult. It’s a decent way to farm for loot, but it is unlocked at level 27, just three levels away from the maximum level, so there's no real gameplay incentive to ever play a Scenario. In many ways it does feel like a copy-paste job, but neutered to remove certain elements. A lot of the models and mechanics are exactly the same as the second game, but then things like Neverending Story or a higher level cap are simply gone. The banter between Van Helsing and Katarina is still as solid as ever, as is the voice acting backing them up, but it's possible to miss the banter because of combat noise. Its parts feel a bit disjointed, like a student who has copy-pasted the information from their research paper from various different authors with no detail given to the paper as a whole. Van Helsing III feels much more like an expansion of the second iteration than a game all on its own. It's nice to have a solid end to the story, but it's baffling that so many features were removed from the previous games for this finale.
Van Helsing III Review photo
Electric Boogaloo
When I heard that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III was on the horizon, I was taken aback a bit. Has it already been a year since the second game? I didn't expect such a quick turnaround, but after seeing that most of the assets are re-used, it makes complete sense.

Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard is holding an XP boost event next week for Heroes of the Storm


For launch
May 30
// Chris Carter
When Heroes of the Storm launches next week, Blizzard will be offering up a 25% XP boost event that will run from 12:01AM PST on June 2 until 11:59PM PST on June 9. It's not a whole lot on its own, but it will seemingly ...
Darkest Dungeon update photo
Darkest Dungeon update

Darkest Dungeon update adds two new characters, fresh terror


So good I almost had a heart attack
May 29
// Nic Rowen
Darkest Dungeon is my jam. I've been playing the hell out of the early access build and while I've had an absolute blast, I was reaching the bottom of the barrel in terms of current content. So it should come as no surprise t...
Dragon's Dogma Online photo
Dragon's Dogma Online

I love everything about this goofy Dragon's Dogma Online image


Sweep the leg
May 29
// Jordan Devore
So, Dragon's Dogma Online isn't ideal for a number of reasons -- it's supported by microtransactions and isn't even planned for release in the West, for starters -- but it is more Dragon's Dogma, and damn if it doesn't at least look cool. Especially the creature designs. After perusing the game's site, I saw this devilish beauty. Zulu, they call him. Zoom in. His expression is priceless.
Mighty Switch Force photo
Mighty Switch Force

It looks like Mighty Switch Force is heading to PC


June 2015 on steam
May 29
// Chris Carter
First on the 3DS, then the Wii U, Mighty Switch Force! is an amazing puzzle-platformer that I'd recommend to anyone -- especially on a Steam sale. Wait, Steam sale? Yep, WayForward has announced that next month, the Hyper Drive Edition of the game (which includes more levels and a sharper visual style, albeit sans-3D) will arrive on Steam. I'm in! Coming Soon to STEAM! [WayForward]
Friday Night Fights photo
Friday Night Fights

Friday Night Fights - Skynet is Coming


Game with the Dtoid Community!
May 29
// Mike Martin
The things happening at MIT are scary. Above is a picture from their robotics lab, and have you heard about the cheetah? Way to create our own destruction folks. Fucking hell. Moving along from our imminent doom, how is every...
D4 photo
D4

You can download a demo for D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die on PC


Go for it
May 29
// Chris Carter
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die was awesome on Xbox One, and it's looking awesome on PC. You can try it out starting today by way of a demo, which is up now on Access Games' official Japanese site. It looks like the English ve...
Witcher XP bug photo
Witcher XP bug

The Witcher 3's XP bug will be fixed next week


CD Projekt RED says to keep playing
May 29
// Jordan Devore
Players have encountered a glitch in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that's preventing them from earning experience points from certain quests. CD Projekt RED says it will resolve the issue "as soon as possible across all platforms ...
SOMA photo
SOMA

SOMA looks like a worthy successor to Amnesia


Releasing this September for PC and PS4
May 29
// Jordan Devore
A series of live-action videos and an alternate-reality game have led to this: 12 minutes of uncut footage from Frictional's next first-person horror title, SOMA. It's coming to PC and PS4 at long last on September 22, 2015....
Ekko photo
Ekko

Ekko, who looks like the Kid from Bastion, is out now in League of Legends


975 RP
May 29
// Chris Carter
If you've been itching for a new champion in League of Legends, Ekko has arrived. He's' described as the "Boy Who Shattered Time." He's an assasin, and his abilities include the power to stack resonance on enemies after hitt...
Lego Jurassic World photo
Lego Jurassic World

Lego Jurassic World isn't as 'completely safe' as they'd like you to think


Damnit, Newman
May 29
// Brett Makedonski
Look, Jurassic Park people. Just because you have this wrapped up in a Lego veneer doesn't mean the outcome's going to be any different. We've all seen the movies. Why should we expect vicious dinosaurs won't attack this time? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time, and I never should've watched Jurassic Park III.

Review: Adventures of Pip

May 29 // Chris Carter
Adventures of Pip (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, Wii U)Developer: Tic Toc GamesPublisher: Tic Toc GamesReleased: June 4, 2015 (PC, Wii U) / TBA (PS4, Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 When Pip kicks off you're introduced to a tiny kingdom fated to be saved by a princess who can create and control pixels -- a sort of Star Wars-esque "Force" that guides the universe. Of course, an evil villain (the Skeleton Queen) wants it all to herself, and captures said princess, crafting the world in her image. It's up to Pip, a lone pixel, to save the day. The premise is fairly cool because it's not overly-meta, at least, not obnoxiously so as some recent games tend to be. It embraces the theme just enough to be adorable, and the queen in particular sports some very neat looking animations. The actual game is a platforming romp, and it's very quick to start. Pip will have to make do in his pixel form at first, which can jump and float, with the ability to kill enemies by jumping on their heads like Mario. Levels are designed with an SNES feel to them, mixing retro graphics, 8-bit, and 32-bit styles, which remind me of classics like Disney's Magical Quest. The main gimmick of course is the aforementioned evolutionary procedure. Using "Bitstream enemies" (read: glowing blue things), Pip can evolve into a boy. His new found abilities include punching and wall-jumping, and can be best compared to getting a mushroom in a Mario game. You can also devolve at will, sparking an explosion that does damage to enemies, and opens up certain walls. To get back to your boy-state, you'll have to find another Bitstream foe -- levels are designed around this concept so you won't get stuck. [embed]292813:58703:0[/embed] What I really like about this system is that it freezes the game when you change forms, adding a bit of tactical value to the act. Sometimes you'll need to kill an enemy to evolve mid-air, jump over a bed of spikes, then blow up a wall to land safely. There's also other nuances like the fact that pixel-Pip can bounce higher off springs, and so on. After several levels you'll also earn the 32-bit version of Pip, which can now use a sword to deal more damage and break blocks. Interestingly, 32-bit Pip cannot walljump -- so you'll need to devolve to the boy to solve some puzzles, and in turn, evolve again, and then revert all the way back to a pixel. It doesn't really get old or tedious. It takes just the right amount of time to switch back and forth, and again, the levels are designed directly around this concept. It's great. As you progress, a bit of wear and tear will set in. You'll save citizens from danger as collectibles of sorts, an endeavor that I tired of after the first few stages. There's also a problem with the level layouts themselves -- they're generally not memorable. While there is a great deal of interesting puzzle-platforming situations, I really can't recall any of them after completing the game, which takes roughly five hours to do. There also came a point where I stopped even trying to locate and open jewel chests to earn the only currency available in the game. The main reason is that the item economy is completely off-kilter, as vendors charge an arm and a leg for everything -- some items will take you an entire playthrough to earn, and they aren't even gamebreaking or special, which is nuts. Don't expect a whole lot of extras or options either. The PC version just has a pair of sliders to tinker with the sound and music volume, the launcher has a few resolution choices and a windowed option, and it sports three save file slots. That's it in terms of functionality. Adventures of Pip is an inoffensive platformer that doesn't do a whole lot wrong, but it won't stand out in your mind a few days after beating it. While it does last though, it'll bring a smile to your face.
Adventures of Pip review photo
From pixel to hero
I've always been fascinated by games that tackle evolution. Not necessarily the scientific principle, but the mechanic -- though a few titles like the brilliant E.V.O.: Search for Eden have managed to address both. Adventures of Pip which features a tiny pixel that turns into a real boy, and then a hero, isn't quite as groundbreaking, but it's still fun to play.

Deals photo
Deals

Humble is bundling Relic's Warhammer 40,000 and Company of Heroes games


Step one: Play Space Marine
May 28
// Jordan Devore
There's a lot to love in this Humble Weekly Bundle of Relic games, but I have to give a special shout out to Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Years later, I'm still amazed it turned out as well as it did. Satisfying shooting, ...
Japanese indie games! photo
Japanese indie games!

Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser invades Steam next week


Let's go, giant robot of steel!
May 28
// Kyle MacGregor
A blast of '70s-inspired action is bombarding Steam next week in Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser. Announced for a western release nearly two years ago, the mecha shooter from doujin studio Astro Port (Gigantic Army) is fina...
Extreme Exorcism photo
Extreme Exorcism

Your ghosts come back to haunt you (literally!) in Extreme Exorcism


Four player fun
May 28
// Steven Hansen
You know that great feeling in life when you've fucked up? Maybe it's immediate, like when you drop your iPhone or accidentally dismember and decapitate your neighbor and dump his body piecemeal into the ocean. Maybe it's th...
AC Syndicate photo
AC Syndicate

Ubisoft: No second screen experience for Assassin's Creed Syndicate


Getting further and further from Unity
May 28
// Brett Makedonski
Plenty of publishers are high on the second screen experience, but Ubisoft's coming down from that -- well, at least a little. The next installment in the Assassin's Creed franchise won't come paired with a companion app...

Review: Hatred

May 28 // Chris Carter
Hatred (PC)Developer: Destructive CreationsPublisher: Destructive CreationsReleased: June 1, 2015MSRP: $19.99 To be clear, I don't have an inherent problem with Hatred. We've seen far, far worse in terms of the video game medium -- in this very generation with Grand Theft Auto V's playable in-game torture scene. Or even Ninja Gaiden III's new "cutting" system, where enemies scream in agony as they're sliced into multiple pieces of flesh. The obvious difference here is that a lot of the targets in Hatred are civilians, which put people on edge. But really, plenty of mainstream action titles have more nuanced takes, killing servicemen and women, officers of the law, and yes, plenty of civilians. Where Hatred partly fails is that it doesn't really make any meaningful statements in regards to its violence. That that it needs to, mind, it kind of just "is." The main character (who is not named) hates the world, so he's going to take down as many people as he can before he dies. That's basically it. He starts in his neighborhood, then branches out across the surrounding area, using various forms of transportation to do it. I suspect there are going to be thinkpieces spouting up across the 'net after release, but don't expect anything as interesting as the ones that were spurred by Hotline Miami playthroughs -- another ultraviolent romp. All the while, he's ranting pseudo-philosophical nonsense. The developers have noted that he isn't trying to quote or channel anyone in particular, and boy can you tell when he says repeats tired phrases like "dust to dust" and "the death is waiting." Half the time you can't even hear what he's saying over the sound of gunfire and explosions. Nothing about the presentation is memorable outside of the distinct visual style. [embed]292912:58710:0[/embed] As a shooter, Hatred is fairly impressive (outside of the sparing terrible vehicular controls). Destructive Creations clearly has a knack for the genre, which makes the fact that it decided to create this lifeless world more disappointing. Shooting feels responsive, and the control scheme is easy to pick up and play, especially on a controller. I don't like that there isn't a toggle option for sprinting (you have to hold it down, which hurts your thumb after a while), but aiming, including the precision-aim system that provides an imaginary laser sight while holding the trigger, is spot-on. Visually, Hatred is somewhere in-between unique and messy. The grey sheen generally looks great, but it does get old after a few levels. Plus, you'll want to jack up the gamma considerably, as the playable character tends to get lost in the fray. Individual objects are all rendered with care though, and the destruction system allows you to do things like craft new exits by blowing through walls. There isn't a whole lot to do in those worlds though. It's level-based, and most missions boil down to "kill [x] number of civilians, then kill [x] number of police, then escape." There's a few unique levels like a sewer chase with the SWAT team or a linear stage taking place on a moving train, but most of them follow this same principle. The train scenario in particular presents some interesting possibilities, in that random civilians on-board are armed. It's often hard to pick them out of a crowd, and if a gun drops, they'll run to pick it up. That mission only lasts a few minutes though, then it's onto the next generic hub. Seriously, that's about all the game has to offer.  I also encountered a few bugs while playing, including disappearing bodies, wonky physics that caused some deaths, and a few fatal game crashes. Several levels were also mislabeled in the level select screen and sometimes, mission objectives wouldn't calculate correctly. The crashes in particular really hindered my playthrough, as they were all at the very end of a level, which forced me to replay them from the start. If it weren't for these issues, it would be a decent twin-stick shooter. Developer tools are evidently going to happen which may allow more interesting levels, but haven't been provided at launch. If you're curious, here's a full video rundown of the options menu. There's nothing really special about Hatred. It's a twin-stick shooter. It has guns in it. It has objectives. Most of the time those objectives involve acting like a menace to society or blowing stuff up. It doesn't have anything new to bring to the table, or anything interesting to say about the genre. You can go back to yelling at it now if you want.
Hatred review photo
Do you hate it?
When Hatred debuted, I pretty much kept quiet. No one can really win in that situation, when the explosion of opposing viewpoints was at its loudest. I decided to wait until the finished product was out and play it for m...

Arkham Knight photo
Arkham Knight

Latest Arkham Knight video proves Batman always gets his way


Nature too
May 28
// Brett Makedonski
As a direct follow-up to the "Officer Down" video, WB's posted another seven-minute long Arkham Knight gameplay video detailing what Batman does best. There's some information gained via duress, a smooth 55x combat comb...
Synth photo
Synth

We could use more racing games like Power Drive 2000


Synth
May 28
// Steven Hansen
Racing games have flattened. There are still kart racers and there are still realistic racers (with mild middle ground for realistic-looking arcade racers, like Forza Horizon) and that's it. Why? Where are the horse racers a...
Terraria 1.3 photo
Terraria 1.3

Terraria 1.3 has mine carts and a release date: June 30


Terraria jumps the shark
May 28
// Darren Nakamura
Every time a new Terraria update trailer comes out, I find myself watching and rewatching it to try to pick out things that are new. The most obvious one in this 1.3 trailer is the mine cart. Now that it's here, it surprises...
he Phantom Pootie Tang photo
he Phantom Pootie Tang

Witcher 3 sex glitches out with stiff bodies, floating heads and phantom head


The Phantom Pootie Tang
May 28
// Steven Hansen
Geralt, why are you bald? Also, where is your body? Geralt, why are sniffing your own bum? I don't endorse ass play in fantasy settings without modern hygiene standards. The naked bodies have fused in unholy matrimony erupti...
Don't Starve photo
Don't Starve

Don't Starve on Wii U isn't quite a perfect fit


Out this week
May 28
// Zack Furniss
Don't Starve's whimsical world full of hungry horrors has been available to PC gamers since 2013 and later came to the PlayStation 4 and Vita, but it always seemed to me that it would find a perfect home in the Wii U. What be...
Bloodstained photo
Bloodstained

Deep Silver is most likely publishing Bloodstained


It'd fall in line with Mighty No. 9
May 28
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Doug Wolf, the attorney of record, called us back and confirmed that he filed the trademark on behalf of Koch Media. It looks like this rumor pans out, although Deep Silver has yet to respond.] When Koji Igarash...
Witcher 3 bug photo
Witcher 3 bug

Watch out for a potential game-wrecking bug in the Witcher 3


If you aren't getting XP, wait
May 28
// Steven Hansen
Here's another hazardous Witcher 3 bug to look out for, at least until it's fixed. This week's Witcher 3 patch brought with it an unexpected bug that makes it so players are not getting experience for quests. Keep doing enoug...
FIFA 16 photo
FIFA 16

FIFA 16 includes women's national teams (finally)


Four top players did motion capture
May 28
// Brett Makedonski
The FIFA video game series has been around for two decades, and in that time, it's been a boys only club. There's been outside pressure to reform, notably in 2013 when Spanish player Vero Boquete started a petition to u...
WildStar F2P photo
Here's all the details
For years, WildStar was touted as the next great subscription-based MMO. It was unveiled all the way back in 2011at Gamescom, and the hype kind of built from there. I had a chance to play multiple builds, and I liked wha...

Shooters photo
Shooters

Assault Android Cactus looks like the next solid twin-stick shooter


And there's co-op!
May 27
// Jordan Devore
Assault Android Cactus? Didn't that come out ages ago? No, that was merely the initial Steam Early Access build. Some of us -- myself included, now that I've seen this latest trailer -- are waiting for the finished release t...
Virtual reality photo
Virtual reality

You'll need about $1,500 to go all in with Oculus Rift


Still no price for the actual unit
May 27
// Robert Summa
While we're still waiting for a final price on the retail version of the Oculus Rift, the company's CEO Brendan Iribe said that users will need to pony up about $1,500 for both a computer that will run the device and the actu...






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