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World of Tanks photo
World of Tanks

World of Tanks is coming to PS4

What a tanker
Sep 16
// Vikki Blake
In its continuing quest for world dominance, is bringing the free-to-play World of Tanks to the PS4, with a beta launching "in the coming months". "We’re all very excited to be bringing this massively mult...
XCOM photo

XCOM: Enemy Unknown free to play this weekend on Steam

Buy the full game for 75 percent off
Sep 11
// Vikki Blake
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is free to play on Steam this weekend. The preview is available now and will end at 6pm (BST) on Sunday, September 13, 2015. If you enjoy your trial and fancy jumping into the game for reals...
Tribes Ascend photo
Tribes Ascend

After two years, Tribes Ascend is finally getting a new update

Praise the mighty Shazbot on this day
Sep 08
// Joe Parlock
Plenty of people (myself included) have been upset about Hi-Rez’s treatment of the pretty damn excellent FPS Tribes Ascend. Development was abandoned a few years ago, and ever since Smite has been the developer’s ...

Bleszinski: I never said LawBreakers wouldn't come to consoles

Sep 07 // Brett Makedonski
But, Bleszinski's adamant that his studio, Boss Key Productions, is too small to handle a console version. Someone else would have to do it. "We're 40 people. Even if we wanted to do a console version, we couldn't right now," Bleszinski commented. "If one of those potential console partners (Sony or Microsoft) reaches out -- and they reach out all the time -- we meet with them, and let's keep the dialogue going. It's just that we wouldn't be able to do the port ourselves. We'd need a really great partner that could knock it out of the park, keep it 60Hz, nail the controls, and make it fantastic." Consoles might seem like an odd destination for LawBreakers, as its roots are firmly planted as a keyboard and mouse shooter. Bleszinski originally thought so too, but realized that there may not be many necessary concessions for it to come to consoles.  Bleszinski elaborated on this realization by saying "Some of the Epic engineers came over and we had a conversation where I was like 'Good luck porting this to consoles.' One of them looked at me and said 'Titanfall's crazy wall-jumping, wall-running, and verticality, and that works on PC and console.' With the right amount of aim-assist and the right amount of little tricks, I could see it working. I wouldn't want to do the cross-platform play, though. I don't think the effort's worth the outcome there." Any amount of success for LawBreakers doesn't seem like it'll be enough for Bleszinski and Boss Key to take on any sort of console port. He wants to stick to that size of 40 employees. "I want to keep the company as small as humanly possible. There may be a time where if this becomes League of Legends big, fingers crossed, where we would need to grow, but that would be a few years out. That would be a best-case scenario. That would be a very good problem to have, but if that's the case, the first 40 to 50 employees will be very happy because we will have crushed it. But, we're going to stall as long as we can on that." Bleszinski justified this mindset by saying "The bigger a company gets, the more accountability happens, the more things get overthought. When that happens, creativity suffers. I'm not saying great things can't come out of big companies, but I'm saying that it's harder than in small companies."
Cliff Bleszinski photo
But Boss Key won't do it
Ever since Cliff Bleszinski announced he was working on an arena shooter, it has had "PC-only" in most people's minds. It's definitely PC first and foremost, but that doesn't mean that it's restricted to PC. Bleszinski's very...

Pokemon Shuffle Mobile photo
Pokemon Shuffle Mobile

Pokemon Shuffle Mobile squeezes more out of players

A mathematical analysis
Sep 04
// Darren Nakamura
When I started playing Pokémon Shuffle Mobile earlier this week, I noticed a weird discrepancy between it and the 3DS version. When the option to use a Great Ball came up, it was asking for 3500 coins, up 40% from 2500...
Pokemon Shuffle Mobile photo
Pokemon Shuffle Mobile

Here's how Pokemon Shuffle Mobile stacks up to the 3DS version

Pros and cons
Sep 04
// Darren Nakamura
After about my 50th hour into Pokémon Shuffle for the 3DS, I regretted getting into it late. When it released, I did what most people do when they hear "free-to-play;" I tuned it out without giving it a second thought....
Free-to-play WildStar photo
Free-to-play WildStar

You won't need a WildStar subscription starting September 29

That's when it goes free-to-play
Sep 03
// Jordan Devore
Before WildStar released, I planned on playing it. Really, I did! But like so many other MMOs before it, when the big day arrived, I was preoccupied with other games and lost interest. With the relaunch closing in, I suspect ...
LawBreakers photo

Here's a long video showing what LawBreakers really looks like

22 minutes, if you want all of that
Sep 02
// Brett Makedonski
We sat down with Cliff Bleszinski at PAX Prime last week to talk about his studio's new game LawBreakers. We chatted about the gameplay mechanics and the free-to-play model. There's still more to come from that intervie...
PlayStation 3 game ending photo
PlayStation 3 game ending

Namco shutting down Soulcalibur: Lost Swords

'Gods, please forgive me'
Sep 02
// Steven Hansen
Roughly a year and a half after its launch, Namco is ending its free-to-play PlayStation 3 experiment Soulcalibur: Lost Swords. It was apparently not great and coupled with a bad microtransaction scheme.  Namco even mad...
Moshi Monsters photo
Moshi Monsters

The UK Advertising Standards Agency isn't happy with Moshi Monsters or Bin Weevils

'Members are going to be super popular!'
Sep 02
// Joe Parlock
Moshi Monsters is pretty popular with kids here in the UK. It’s been around for a few years now, and has managed to gain toys and shows alongside the website and games. Bin Weevils has been around for a bit longer, but ...
EndWar Online beta photo
EndWar Online beta

Tom Clancy's EndWar Online closed beta starts today, runs through November

'War never ends'
Sep 01
// Darren Nakamura
I had forgotten about Tom Clancy's EndWar Online. It was originally announced just about two years ago, took on some alpha playtesters, and went dark to everybody else. Today, it is coming out of alpha and into a closed beta ...
Evolve photo

Who wants to try Evolve for free?

PS4 players are excluded. Sorry!
Sep 01
// Vikki Blake
If you've been on the fence about Evolve, here's your chance to try-before-you-buy -- developer Turtle Rock Studios is making the game free to play on PC and Xbox One this coming weekend (that's September 4 and 5, 2...
LawBreakers photo

New footage has surfaced for Cliffy B's LawBreakers

Skill shots and domination streaks
Aug 31
// Laura Kate Dale
Oh hey, are you itching to see more footage of Cliff Bleszinski's upcoming futuristic sci-fi shooter LawBreakers already? Well, thanks to the official LawBreakers Twitter account this weekend, we have a whole bunch of new pie...
Atlas Reactor photo
Atlas Reactor

Trion announces turn-based strategy game Atlas Reactor

'Turn-based game... but competitive!'
Aug 31
// Joe Parlock
Rift developer Trion Worlds has announced its newest project: Atlas Reactor. A free-to-play, simultaneous turn-based strategy game, all players carry out their turns at the same time, meaning there isn’t hours and hour...

Cliff Bleszinski: 'I respect that core gamers see free-to-play as a dirty, dirty thing'

Aug 30 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]308383:60188:0[/embed] At this point, LawBreakers co-developer and Killzone series director Arjan Brussee chimed in "If you have a small barrier of entry like an early access fee, then I think that can work. For us, if you look at the game, it's definitely a triple-A type of experience. We don't want to charge $60, but our fans are used to paying money to play games with the Killzone and Gears of War stuff. So, I think we can leverage the free-to-play thing and do cool stuff in that space." Brussee's right in saying that this is a segment of the gaming population that doesn't have a problem coughing up some cash for games. The challenge comes in getting them on-board with free-to-play -- especially those who are distrustful of the model. But, Bleszinski wouldn't want to go back to the traditional sales metrics. "Yeah, for me, that's completely dead. That's pre-orders, that's 'how many do you get in the first two months' and then it's an exponential curve downward after that," Bleszinski said about the idea of his metrics for success suddenly shifting. "People who are still doing that: have fun. For me, that's old. For us, it's about a ramp." Bleszinski continued "We may not make a lot of money in the first couple months. But, in the first year, we may start to ramp up. These games are like a locomotive where they get going and going. Once they get momentum, you look around and say 'How did this game get so damn big?' The marking is a steady launch over the course of a bunch of different beats throughout the year as opposed to blowing the wad at Christmas while everyone else is blowing their wad. Or, the Super Bowl where you try to get Liam Neeson and Kate Upton to do goofy ads. We're in it for the long-run here."
LawBreakers free-to-play photo
But he's done with the traditional model
When Cliff Bleszinski formed Boss Key Productions to create the game now known as LawBreakers, he always knew that free-to-play was the model he wanted. That statement's not as black and white as it sounds. There's a lot of i...

Guild Wars 2's base game goes free-to-play today, no purchase needed

Aug 29 // Chris Carter
Opening up the conversation, O'Brien talked a bit about how the core message of the game is staying the same, despite the move to free-to-play. "We don't want to ask for more money, and all of the additional purchases will stay the same" he stated. Going on, Mike noted, "What we looked at after the release of the core game, is things like 'how can players catch up with their friends' and this new model makes that easier to do. We've always said 'if you wan't Guild Wars 2, just buy the game, and we'll provide free updates for it for months.' We'll continue to do that for Heart of Thorns: just buy the expansion, and you'll get every update for free." Another big new change is the addition of raids, which will make their debut in Heart of Thorns. Speaking on this new adventure, Colin Johanson, keeping with the spirit of the game, insists that "this is our way of doing things differently, even with the traditional format of raids with other MMOs. We're getting rid of barriers to entry. The way Heart of Thorns is built is by way of masteries, which will upgrade your character beyond the typical gear-based setup of other games. In that regard, raids will still be relevant six months later, and won't be completely replaced by a new tier of gear." Going on, Johanson stated that "although you can't necessarily PUG (pick-up-group) these raids, they are skill-based. In other words, you can use any combination of characters to complete them." Upon probing him a bit, asking whether or not it was difficult to design raids around the lack of a trinity (healer, tank, and damage), he responded with, "it's not necessarily tougher but balance them within our game, but they will be more fun since everyone can fulfill any role. You don't have to wait 40 minutes for your healer to get online, and you can use any class you want to play. It really is all about skill." If ArenaNet and their team can follow through with these promises, an accessible yet challenging raid scheme would be an enticing prospect for players old and new. I'm anxious to see what they come up with when Heart of Thorns finally comes out.
Guild Wars 2 F2P photo
Heart of Thorns still a paid expansion
Nearly three years after the release of Guild Wars 2, the base game is going fully free-to-play. Instead of following a method where users are required to purchase the core package before they are greeted with a subscrip...

Viridi photo

Grow your own virtual succulents with Viridi

And play with your own virtual pet snail
Aug 29
// Ben Davis
Viridi is a free-to-play gardening simulator which released on Steam last week in which you grow and care for a pot of succulent plants. The plants grow in real time even while the game is closed, so this isn't the type of ga...

The best video game trailer ever that I can't stop watching

Aug 29
// Jed Whitaker
I was browsing through the latest releases on Steam when I came across Let the Cat in, a free-to-play game about helping kittens get into a house and was ported from mobile devices. That isn't important though, what is is it...
LawBreakers trailer photo
LawBreakers trailer

LawBreakers features a few different aerial movement abilities

Gameplay trailer shows four classes
Aug 28
// Darren Nakamura
Two days ago we got the first reveal for Cliff Bleszinski's new arena shooter LawBreakers. Today we get a brief look at the gameplay and if I had to describe it with one word, that word would be "motion." Each of the four cla...
LawBreakers photo

Cliff Bleszinski's arena shooter is LawBreakers

Releasing next year
Aug 26
// Jordan Devore
Cliff Bleszinski (Unreal Tournament, Gears of War) and Arjan Brussee (Guerrilla Games co-founder) have been off building something called Project BlueStreak at their new studio Boss Key Productions. It's a futuristic first-p...
Dragomon classes photo
Dragomon classes

Dragomon Hunter shows off monster hunting character classes

Chibi, colorful Monster Hunter-like
Aug 26
// Steven Hansen
That Monster Hunter-styled MMORPG Dragomon Hunter has put out a new video focusing on the available characters classes. All the classics are there: scout, mercenary, mage, buscemi, cleric, substitute teacher. The free-to-pla...
Clicker Heroes photo
Clicker Heroes

We're doomed: Clicker Heroes hits iOS, Android

Be strong
Aug 25
// Jordan Devore
It's a good thing I swore off Clicker Heroes. It was bad enough playing the game on a desktop computer. Now, the perpetual time-waster is available for iOS and Android. There's no escape. For the uninitiated, this is an idle ...

Review: Alphabear

Aug 22 // Darren Nakamura
Alphabear (Android [reviewed], iPad, iPhone)Developer: Spry Fox, LLCPublisher: Spry Fox, LLCReleased: July 8, 2015MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) The core mechanic in Alphabear is easy to pick up, but it bears an elegance upon close inspection. Letter tiles are placed on a variable-sized grid, and players are tasked with forming words with those letters. Using a letter clears it from the board, replaces it with a bear, and reveals new letters in any adjacent spaces. Bears can grow in size as long they have a full rectangle of cleared tiles to fill. Each tile has a countdown on it, decrementing by one for each turn taken. If any countdown reaches zero, that letter turns to stone, removing it from the pool of usable letters and taking up valuable real estate where bears could live. The end goal is to score the most points, which come from two main sources: words formed during a game and bear size at the end. Each letter's value decreases with its counter, so word values are calculated from both length and how close each individual letter is to expiring. For bear size, the aim is to create the biggest bear possible; one full-board bear is worth more than two half-board bears. [embed]307196:60082:0[/embed] All of these mechanics come together to make a game that isn't just about showing off vocabulary and anagram skills. For one, there is focus and direction. Tiles with low counters are shown in increasingly alarming colors, where those one turn away from fossilization pulsate with a deep red but those with four or more are a placid green. Instead of dumping upward of two dozen letters on the player and saying, "make some words," it makes using certain tiles more urgent, bringing them to the forefront. Maybe I could make a ten-letter word with these tiles over here, but I really need to use this J that's about to expire. It also causes the player to think ahead: not only does one want to use all of the tiles showing a one this turn, but he should also make sure he can deal with the tiles showing a two for next turn. Another important result of the base mechanics is the idea of spatial importance. The tiles all have a location, and clearing a tile in a certain area might be more beneficial than doing so in another. Some spaces are marked with a star or a skull, signifying the letter set to appear there will either have an unusually high countdown or an especially low countdown. Setting off a skull when there are several twos left in play is a bad move. The mechanics make the center of the board more important too, because a stone in the way there will prevent having a screen-filling bear at the end, but a stone along the edge or in a corner will only decrease its size by a small amount. The boards aren't all the same; the layout of a particular board affects how players will attack it. The last bit of significance that emerges from Alphabear's mechanics is a strong risk/reward scenario. Forming long words is worth more points right away, but it opens up more tiles at once. It brings more opportunities for even larger words but also more opportunities to miss using a tile in time. Play it safe, unlocking only a few new tiles per turn and banking on a large bear at the end, or go big on word scores at the risk of losing out on bears? There isn't a definite answer. In a word, Alphabear brings strategy to a genre that has severely lacked in it in the past. Considering the countdowns, board layout, and the available letters brings much more nuanced decision-making than the typical directive of "make the biggest word you can think of." Sometimes it's better to make a weaker word in the moment in order to pull ahead in the end. Every single turn presents this mental exercise. Outside of the main meat of the gameplay, there is also an almost Pokémon-esque collection mechanic. Completing a level above a par score nets the player a bear; completing it above a gold score gives a chance for a powerful rare bear. Each of these bears has its own costume and consistent with Spry Fox's modus operandi, they are all adorable. Look at Milky Bear (below)! It's a bear dressed up as a carton of milk. So cute. Each bear has its own powers to bring to the levels. Some only affect score, some have a noticeable impact on gameplay. By collecting the same bear multiple times, it levels up, increasing its multiplier. This makes high scores for future runs of the same board easier to attain. Not only does Alphabear inject strategy into a word puzzle, it also uses these light role-playing game elements to keep me playing. A particular level might be too hard now, but I can come back to it later with some beefed up bears and try it again. At the end of a level, the newly hatched bear will form a series of phrases using the words played during the game. You might have seen these on social media already. It's a silly little touch, but it adds another bit of meta to the experience. Not only do people go for high scores, they also go for words that would make for funny sentences to share with friends. The one big sticking point for many is Alphabear's free-to-play scheme. It uses an energy mechanic (honey), allowing for only a couple of games before honey is depleted. It builds up over time or can be accumulated by watching ads. Personally, I loved the gameplay so much I paid the five bucks for unlimited honey and haven't regretted it. Even then, the bears each have cooldown periods and the other currency (used to wake up sleeping bears and to play special levels) suffers from diminishing returns over the course of a day, so players who buy unlimited honey may still feel stifled. Spry Fox wants players to come back day after day; I'm fine with that, but I know there are many out there who aren't. Indeed, I'm still playing Alphabear on a nearly daily basis. I couldn't say how many hours I've put into it already (I'd estimate maybe 20?), but I'm not even halfway through all of the chapters. The injection of strategic concerns to a word puzzle is such great design. I would like that enough on its own, but the collection aspects, cute bears, and social media meta elevate it further. [This review is based on a free game with microtransactions purchased by the reviewer.]
Alphabear review photo
If you had told me three months ago there was still untapped potential in the genre of using letter tiles to form words, I probably wouldn't have believed you. If you would have told me a word puzzle game would end up being o...

Rick and Morty Dota 2 photo
Rick and Morty Dota 2

Now Rick and Morty can nar-*belch*-rate your Dota 2 matches

Radiant just wiped out the Roshan guy!
Aug 21
// Patrick Hancock
The announcer packs for Dota 2 are easily some of the best purchases available within the free-to-play game. Personally, I go back and forth between the Stanley Parable and Bastion announcers. Not only are the...
Sploot photo

Be a seagull and poop on people in Sploot

What more could you want out of games?
Aug 19
// Ben Davis
"You are a seagull. A beautiful, fragile seagull. You poop uncontrollably. Your purpose is to poop on things." Fantastic! I'm always clamoring for more games where you get to really feel what it's like to be an animal, and th...
Team Fortress 2 update photo
Team Fortress 2 update

Team Fortress 2 gets the ball rolling with a new sports-themed game mode

Created by Bad Robot, of all companies
Aug 19
// Ben Davis
Ready for another off-the-wall Team Fortress 2 update? After the addition of bumper cars from last Halloween, it seems anything is possible with this game. Now the multiplayer shooter is getting another shot in the arm with a...
Hearthstone update photo
Hearthstone update

Hearthstone version 3.0 is out, hints of upcoming co-op mode

Grand Tournament launches next week
Aug 19
// Jed Whitaker
Blizzard's ever-popular free-to-play digital card game Hearthstone just got a major update ahead of the release of its next expansion, The Grand Tournament. Blizzard just recently revealed all 132 new cards included...
New Skylanders photo
New Skylanders

Skylanders Battlecast is a brand new game in the Skylanders franchise

Free-to-play mobile 'adventure'
Aug 18
// Chris Carter
Activision has announced a new Skylanders game called Battlecast, and it's a free-to-play mobile card game. I'm guessing they want to get in on that sweet Hearthstone money (which funnily enough, is part of the sam...
Bling Bling for Blizzard photo
Bling Bling for Blizzard

Wowzers, Hearthstone pulls in $20 million per month

How much of that is you?
Aug 11
// Jed Whitaker
Research firm SuperData is reporting that Blizzard's free-to-play Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is making $20 million a month; more than any other digital card game. When compared to other popular free-to-play games, Hearth...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online goes post-war in Season 11: New Dawn

A New Hope?
Aug 11
// Josh Tolentino
For the five years it's been running, Star Trek Online's story has been one of a galaxy at war. First it was a war between the Federation and Klingon Empire, then between an alliance of the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans...

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