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2K

2K Games is teasing some dystopian project called 'Advent'


Let the teases begin
May 26
// Chris Carter
Last night, 2K Games revealed a new teaser site for Advent, an upcoming project of some sort. It was announced by way of a tweet, but there's also a teaser website with a pamphlet involving in-game lore. Your guess is as good...
Civilization Beyond Earth photo
Civilization Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth getting an expansion this fall


Settle the oceans in Rising Tide
May 18
// Darren Nakamura
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth came out last year, and although I loved it, a lot of the series' hardcore fans picked it apart as being less complex than past entries. Though it doesn't nearly address every complaint,...
Deals photo
Deals

Green Man Gaming kicks off 5th birthday sale with 2K titles & indie games


Bulkin' up the backlog
May 12
// Dealzon
Gaming retailer hits an anniversary? Time for a sale. That's what's happening at Green Man Gaming this week -- the digital retailer is turning five this year. Prominent among the discounts are 2K titles up to 85% off instantl...
WWE 2K15 mods photo
WWE 2K15 mods

It's about to get weird in here: WWE 2K15 supports modding on PC


If you can imagine it, you can achieve it
Apr 29
// Brett Makedonski
WWE 2K15 wasn't the best effort of recent titles in the wrestling series. But, a current hot topic in the games community might change that and make it a better game, at least to some degree. Or, everything's just going ...
Deals photo
Deals

$16 Civilization: Beyond Earth in 2K Games sale at GMG


No, it's not Alpha Centauri
Apr 28
// Dealzon
Sure, it felt more like a skinned, lightweight Civilization V than a full-blown Alpha Centauri spiritual successor... but at $16, Civilization: Beyond Earth is worth a look for die-hard Civ fans. As of writing, it's the lowes...
Borderlands photo
Borderlands

Borderlands creator leaves Gearbox, abandons his baby


Left on the church steps, crying in the rain. How could they?
Apr 20
// Joe Parlock
It looks like Borderlands is going through a pretty rough time at the moment. Borderlands 2 writer Anthony Burch left Gearbox back in January, and Pre-Sequel developer 2K Australia closed its doors for good last week. I ...
2K Australia photo
2K Australia

2K Australia completely demolished


Complete closure, all jobs lost, nothing left
Apr 16
// Laura Kate Dale
Today is truly a sad day for the Australian game development scene as the country's final AAA game development studio, 2K Australia in Canberra, is being closed down. Most recently known for developing Borderlands: The Pre-Se...
Interior decoration photo
Interior decoration

A ridiculously gaudy living room set for one big Borderlands fan


Some of it's pretty neat, though
Apr 15
// Brett Makedonski
Avid Borderlands players thrive on the thrill of picking up a rare and unique gun. 2K's triggering that same dopamine effect for one lucky fan with a one-of-a-kind living room set. The winner better like the color gold....

Review: Evolve: The Hunt Evolves Update

Mar 31 // Nic Rowen
Evolve: The Hunt Evloves Update (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)Developer: Turtle Rock StudiosPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: March 31, 2015MSRP: $24.99 Hunting Season Pass (includes all four hunters), $7.49 individually, $14.99 for Behemoth (or included with pre-order Monster Expansion Pack) The update includes four new hunters, one for each class. These characters are included in the $24.99 Season Pass, or can be bought individually for a dubious $7.49. Of course they are included in the ridiculous $99 PC Monster Race Pack if you bought that. Each new hunter is a fully fleshed out character with fresh abilities, new lines of dialogue, and new ways to take on Shear's wildlife. The new Trapper, Crow, reeks of edgy mid-'90s design sensibilities. He's dark, broody, and has a pet bat-thing to help him track the monster. So spooky. Crow's massive sniper rifle can shoot rapid-fire bursts, or charge up a single power-shot that will bypass the monster's armor and rip into its permanent health. Very nasty. Similarly, his stasis gun can be fired willy-nilly to slightly slow the monster down or stop it in its tracks with a charged shot. Knowing when to charge and when to spam seems to be key to playing Crow well. 50% robot and 100% MANLY, Torvlad is the new Assault character. He sports a no-nonsense beard, tattoos over his shirtless chest, cybernetic limbs, and wears a gigantic twin mortar launcher on his back. The dude means business. Of all the new characters, Torvlad's play style jived with me the least. While his mortar launcher does tremendous damage, its indirect fire takes a moment to land which can be fiddly and difficult to aim on a rampaging monster. I imagine with some great teamwork and practice he could be a beast, but when compared to Parnell's point-and-click rocket launcher, Torvlad seems like more work than he's worth. Slim is the new Medic and I really love his design. The result of genetic experimentation, he's got a total Cronenberg thing going on, looking more insect than human. Despite his odd appearance, Slim acts and talks like a normal affable dude, setting up some of the funniest interactions in the game. Slim's whole gimmick revolves around his healing burst, which has a far greater range than the other Medics. Successful hits from his default weapon reduce the cooldown time on his burst, and because of its long range he can generally heal the entire group in a fight, encouraging him to play aggressively. He also gets a nifty healing drone that can tag along after a hunter. It's squishy, but can heal while on the run or revive downed friends remotely. I can easily see Slim becoming the new go-to Medic for random games. Lastly, Sunny, representing the Support class, is a real treat. Another character that seems to borrow abilities from other characters, but adds a fresh twist to make them her own. She has a grenade launcher similar to Caira but with a lot more oomph, and can generate energy shields like the Duck Dynasty dude, but has a drone to do it for her -- freeing her up to lob more grenades, yay! She can also supercharge her teammate's jetpacks with an energy beam, perfect for giving your Trapper the extra lift he or she needs to get the mobile arena up over the monster. Sunny seems super handy and is probably my favorite of the new hunters. Also, her extra robot arm/glove is adorable. The new monster, Behemoth, is a rock creature with a passion for squishing things and a serious aversion to heights. Unique among the monsters, Behemoth has no leaping or flying ability and must trundle his way around the map on foot. His mobility is supplemented by the ability to climb up almost any sheer surface, and by occasionally curling up into a boulder and rolling around like a giant petrified Sonic the Hedgehog. Still not super speedy by any means, Behemoth must rely on smart use of his attacks and other abilities to stay ahead of the hunters. Players hoping to get their money's worth out of Behemoth are going to want to learn how to use his rock wall ability ASAP. Slamming both fists into the ground, Behemoth can spontaneously generate a fairly large wall of rubble in front of him. This is good for creating an impassible barrier in choke points to get away from the hunting pack, or for separating one unfortunate hunter from the others for a beatdown. His lava bombs function on the same idea, allowing him to create damaging pools of fire that further restrict the hunter's movement. Rounding out his tool set is an area-of-effect shockwave attack that will travel up walls, and a tongue lash that can capture prey at a distance and drag them in close, Scorpion style. Overall, he seems like a monster that relies more on positioning and using the environment than raw force. While billed as the "tank" of the monsters, trading mobility for sheer tenacity, Behemoth went down disappointingly quickly in my games against him. That's not just a #humblebrag -- a TRS producer confirmed during a livestream that the beast is suffering from some bugs that are curbing his survivability at the moment. The leading theory is that the hitbox of his weak point is too big and is getting clipped by shots that should be striking his more protected areas. This is an issue that should be fixed in the near future, but is still disappointing for players who ponied up the cash for Behemoth expecting a fearsome monster only to get a broken bird. Personally, it was hard to tell if this bug was the problem, or if Behemoth's size and sluggishness was the real culprit. Hitbox and health issues aside, Behemoth's lack of mobility seems to be a real Achilles' heel. While most monsters are able to avoid the full brunt of an orbital strike or Torvlad's mortars, Behemoth, especially if hampered by tranqs or traps, just gets hammered by them. Smart rock monsters will definitely want to pick their battles inside caves and buildings to avoid the worst of these attacks and play to his strengths, but considering most map objectives are outside this may be difficult. Behemoth, surprisingly, is not included in the Hunting Season Pass. If you want to play as this new beast, you'll either need to have the pre-order bonus Monster Expansion Pack, or pay out another $15. I'm not an accountant, but shelling out almost a quarter of the cost for a full game for ONE character seems like a tough sell. In fact, this entire update is incredibly pricey. If you want to get everything (and didn't pre-order) you're looking at another $40 for a game that barely felt worth $60 at launch. There are some free bells and whistles included in this update as well. A new Observer Mode has been added that will allow players to spectate matches from a variety of angles and perspectives. It's a very robust spectator mode, with support for shoutcasting and variable HUD options to best keep track of everybody's condition. I'm sure there are some hardcore fans of Evolve who will love this mode, but for most of us it will be firmly relegated to the "oh, that's nice I guess" pile. There are also two new maps out apparently. However, they are exclusive to the Xbox One version of the game for now and will only be available for PC and PS4 players next month. Sadly, as a PC player, I haven't been able to test those maps out yet, and while the idea of timed exclusives makes me grumpy, it's great to see Turtle Rock Studios add content to the game for everyone and not fracture the community behind paywalls. Kudos where kudos are due. I love these new characters -- they're undeniably fun to play and drip with personality. I think Behemoth could be cool (when he gets patched at least). But at the cost they are commanding, I can't recommend them in good conscience. This entire pack, hunters, monsters, and all feels like it should cost $15, or be the first installment of the Season Pass, not the entire thing. If you're a diehard Evolve fan still playing regular matches, then maybe consider the new hunters. I wouldn't even think about Behemoth until he gets fixed, and even then I'd advise waiting, both to see how his metagame plays out and for a price cut. There is nothing here that should attract new players or even bring back lapsed hunters who have already moved on to other titles. I don't usually soapbox about prices for game content, but the cost-to-value ratio for these packs is borderline insulting. If you already bought the Season Pass at launch, chalk it up to a lesson learned and enjoy the new hunters. If you haven't, don't support this kind of fleecing. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Evolve update review photo
Caught in a snare
More than a month ago Evolve came out to tepid reactions and muted fanfare. Today's release of the game's first major content update, delivering on the Hunting Season Pass and the pre-order Monster Expansion Pack, might have ...

Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: Claptastic Voyage

Mar 29 // Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: Claptastic Voyage (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developers: 2K Australia, Gearbox SoftwarePublisher: 2K GamesReleased: March 24, 2015MSRP: $9.99 (included in Season Pass and The Handsome Collection)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit With the premise of entering the mind of Claptrap, The Pre-Sequel had a ton of freedom with where it could go and what it could do. As with the Dungeons and Dragons-esque setup for Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, the narrative hook allows Vault Hunters to leave the planet of Pandora (or its moon Elpis) in favor of even more fantastic locales. In practice, Claptastic Voyage takes players from the samey blue-gray moon surface and industrial complexes to samey blue-gray electronics (that look a lot like industrial complexes). At least, that's how the first half goes. It's immediately disappointing that the limitless setting produces such uninteresting environments, but that changes further in. A little ways into the DLC the Vault Hunters can access Claptrap's old memories, revisiting areas featured in previous titles like Fyrestone or Overlook. Eventually, the shooting goes deep enough into Claptrap's mind to find wholly original, diverse environments. The Escherian temple of Claptrap's subconscious is particularly fun to explore. One thing that Claptastic Voyage does especially well is to fill in gaps in the overarching story that have only previously been hinted at. It does this with the memory exercise in Overlook, illustrating the town's deterioration to the state players find it in Borderlands 2. It ends with a direct lead-in to BL2, showing how Claptrap meets Sir Hammerlock in the frozen tundra on Pandora. It even goes so far as to explain Claptrap's penchant for dubstep where it wasn't present in the original Borderlands. [embed]288904:57729:0[/embed] All that said, while the details are cute for fans of the lore, the main plot in Claptastic Voyage has been done several times in the Borderlands series. Perhaps it's intentionally self-referential, but the plot device that introduces the main villain early on as an ally who "unexpectedly" betrays the heroes is tired at this point. He is clearly designed to let the player know what's up, so watching the characters go along and be flabbergasted by the betrayal creates a sort of disconnect between player and protagonist. At a micro level, the writing follows what we have come to expect from the series. Though it isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as Tales from the Borderlands has been, it hits the right notes of dark comedy. It manages to get through its eight-to-ten hour campaign without making nearly as many pop culture references as the last few games in the series have done. Gameplay is largely unaltered from The Pre-Sequel's main campaign. It remains fast and frenetic to moon jump and butt slam between enemies. There are very few zero-atmosphere environments in Claptastic Voyage, so players are free to use the double jump without having to worry about running out of oxygen. Almost all of the enemies are new in some way, with viruses, bugs, and protection software given physical manifestations to explode. Even the old standby enemies like bandits and psychos behave a bit differently, able to phase in and out of existence occasionally since they are computer projections generated by Claptrap's memory. The theme of software given life extends to in-universe advertisement, with foes who do nothing but stream audio to the player until they are destroyed. There are also pop-up ads: chest-high walls that appear from the ground and can either be closed or serve as randomized mini stores for health or ammunition. The final boss deserves special mention, though not necessarily for the best reasons. It begins as an interesting fight, with a lot of different tasks the player has to juggle. There are jump pads, helpful "volatile bits" to trigger, lava to avoid, small enemies to keep at bay and use for revives, and the main boss who can deal some serious damage if he is ignored. It's exciting for the first 10 minutes. Then it keeps going. Then the boss transforms and recharges his shield. Then it keeps going. Then he transforms and recharges his shield again. I timed it; it took me 45 minutes to solo that one fight, and that was on my second try. (On the first try, I spent what felt like an hour, made it to his final form, died, and started back at the beginning of the fight. I quit for the night.) It illustrates how 2K Australia can get some aspects of Borderlands so right, but just miss the mark in other ways that bring the whole experience down a bit. The boss just has too much health, and that one element turns it from an interesting fight into a slog. It's almost as if it is intended to be a raid boss, except that it's required in order to complete the story. In fact, there is no optional raid boss like there have been in past Borderlands DLC packs, which is a little disappointing considering how phoned in the raid boss in The Pre-Sequel's main game is. That said, 2K Australia does its own thing for high level content. In addition to farming the end boss for Legendary drops, a special arena unlocks after getting through the story. It boils down to fending off waves of enemies in an arena, but it allows parties to customize various aspects of the battle. Players can increase or decrease the difficulty and add "mutations," like bonus damage for certain gun manufacturers or increased magazine size at the cost of decreased reload speed. Of course, more difficult settings yield more valuable loot. It's an interesting idea that I'd like to see explored further in future installments. Overall, Claptastic Voyage is an improvement to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. It seems like 2K Australia has been listening to a lot of the criticism of the base game. Aside from some invisible walls, I didn't experience any of the bugs here that detracted from The Pre-Sequel. The environmental design starts off disappointingly unimaginative, but soon goes to unexpected places. The core gameplay is as fun as it has ever been. However, Claptastic Voyage still suffers from some of the problems that plague the entire series. The main plot is average, lacking any real standout moments worth discussing. It exists as a vehicle to get players between gunfights or to the more entertaining optional missions. This won't go down in history as an example of exceptional DLC, but it does what it does well and it's worth the time to play through.
Claptastic Voyage review photo
PreSequel++;
With Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, I like and dislike different parts of it in almost equal measure. The combat is exciting and the characters are likable. On the other hand, the environments are a little dull and it suff...

Borderlands DLC screens photo
Borderlands DLC screens

Borderlands: Claptastic Voyage screenshots, we got 'em


Full spoilers ahead
Mar 29
// Darren Nakamura
The first and only big story piece of downloadable content released for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel earlier this week, and I just finished playing through it. As usual, I took a bunch of screenshots as I played through. Fair ...
Evolve patch photo
Evolve patch

One of Evolve's monsters gets nerfed in new patch


The Wraith sees significant changes amidst larger rebalancing effort
Mar 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Evolve is being rebalanced, Turtle Rock Studios revealed today. In response to player feedback, the developer is making a myriad of alternations to the asymmetrical shooter's cast of characters, the most significant of which ...
Borderlands Golden Keys photo
Borderlands Golden Keys

Celebrate Borderlands: The Handsome Collection by stocking up on Golden Keys


Why grind for loot when it's right there in a golden chest?
Mar 24
// Darren Nakamura
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is out today. One of the major selling points for those who have already played Borderlands 2 and/or Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel on last generation hardware is the ability to import save d...
Deals photo
Deals

2K Games anniversary sale across multiple retailers


Everything must go?
Mar 20
// Dealzon
If you haven't loaded up your Steam client in recent days, you might have missed the news on the big 2K 10th Anniversary Sale. The entire catalog is on sale for up to 80% off list price. If you're new to PC gaming and somehow...
Bug man photo
Bug man

Evolve's new bug man character is just the best


Because he's a bug, man
Mar 19
// Jordan Devore
What a magnificent specimen. Slim, a medic, is one of the four hunters joining Evolve across all platforms on Tuesday, March 31. There's also the "half-human walking tank" Torvald (assault), the hermit Crow (trapper) with his...
Borderlands screenshots photo
Borderlands screenshots

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2 screenshots, we got 'em


Over 100 Atlas Mugged screenshots
Mar 17
// Darren Nakamura
Another Telltale episode, another excessively large set of screenshots taken as I played through with an Xbox 360 controller while keeping my pinky finger on the F12 key. Tales from the Borderlands still looks great despite t...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged

Mar 17 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: March 17, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] To its credit, Telltale owns up to the long wait between episodes. The opening line is Marcus commenting on how long it has been since the last part of the story. Then he goes into a recap of the main events from Zer0 Sum, leading into the beginning of Atlas Mugged. Hyperion executive Rhys and Pandoran con artist Fiona have stumbled onto some unknown but hopefully valuable Atlas technology, just in time for a digital reconstruction of Borderlands 2 antagonist Handsome Jack to load into Rhys's mind. Jack comes and goes over the course of the episode, typically when Rhys suffers head trauma, and he often offers his brand of morally bankrupt help. Though he only appears during certain scenes, Handsome Jack sort of steals the show. Rhys, Fiona, and the rest of the gang have some good lines, but Telltale's treatment of Jack is on point. He is simultaneously deplorable and hilarious, which serves the concept of Telltale adventure games well. In Borderlands 2 he was a likable villain; in The Pre-Sequel he was a detestable hero. Here, he can be either, allowing the player to choose whether to heed his more outlandish suggestions or to risk progressing without his aid. [embed]288757:57654:0[/embed] Episode 2 has the two protagonists separating and reuniting again and it still works great as a narrative device. Seeing the what from one perspective and then the why from the other gives extra insight to events, though Atlas Mugged lacks some of the punchier revelatory moments that Zer0 Sum had. There are still some secrets set up for later, like the function of the Gortys Project or the identity of the paddy hat-clad character. Fiona gets an upgrade to her single-shot pistol in this episode, allowing it to deal an elemental damage of her choice among incendiary, shock, and corrosive. Knowledge of the shooters in the series seems to help with knowing which element to use in which situation. Another kink thrown in is in addition to having limited ammunition, each element appears to be usable only once, so players may be locked out of one they want for the future. It's the kind of inter-episode mechanic that may or may not pay off intellectually until later. Neither of the established characters who made cameos in the first episode show up again here, but a few new ones do. Scooter and Athena are among those who make an appearance, and I hope for the narrative's sake that this isn't the last we see of them. Given her background with the Atlas corporation (see: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx) Athena plays a particularly interesting role that brings up questions I hope to see answered. From a gameplay perspective, this runs by the standard of modern Telltale titles. It includes the unique Borderlands hooks like Rhys's bionic eye and Fiona's management of money, but they are less emphasized than in the previous episode. Tales still feels like a Borderlands game, but slightly less so now than before. Though puzzles have basically been expunged from Telltale's modus operandi -- and I have come to terms with it -- there is one section where it still stings a little to think about. In it, Rhys has to restore power to an electronic system and it skirts the edge of requiring just a touch of critical thinking, but it ends up being a simple exploration exercise. The setup almost begged for some sort of puzzle; it was disappointing that the solution was so mundane. Past that, the main gameplay is exactly what we all expect from Telltale. Dialogue trees, quick-time events, and the occasional big choice to make. Keeping consistent with the first episode, the writing is sharp, the jokes are plentiful, the plot is intriguing, and the action is over-the-top. What it lacks is easily forgiven because what it contains is really good. Visually, Tales from the Borderlands is as great as ever. The bright colors and hard edges still work well with Telltale's engine, and they juxtapose against the dark comedic themes in a way that never seems to get old. I did experience a couple of minor graphical glitches, but 99% of it ran like a dream. In the end, Atlas Mugged is not quite as good as Zer0 Sum. It had me chuckling five minutes in, but there were fewer laugh-out-loud moments. It maintained high intensity in its action sequences, though none quite compared to the earlier death race. It used the unique Borderlands mechanics just a bit less. Its narrative lacked any jaw-dropping twists or powerful moments of clarity, but it still remained engaging throughout. Though it is slightly less than excellent, it is still great, and I can hardly wait to see where it goes next. Telltale, please don't make me wait so long before Episode 3. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Borderlands review photo
It's here Atlas
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Tales ...

WWE 2K15 photo
WWE 2K15

WWE 2K15 tries face turn with free season pass for new buyers


And there are a few sales, too
Mar 16
// Brett Makedonski
When its entrance music hit last fall, WWE 2K15 was met with a chorus of boos from the audience. Now, it's trying to be the good guy and win a few fans over, and it's doing so with free DLC. 2K Games announced today that new...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's Claptastic Voyage trailer shows glitch guns, confetti


And 'irreparable psychological trauma'
Mar 11
// Darren Nakamura
Gearbox showed off the trailer for the upcoming Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel downloadable content to a select group of fans during its panel at PAX East, but it is now available for anybody to watch. Maybe even you? Yes, if y...
Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: Claptastic Voyage comes out March 24


Inside the mind of Claptrap
Mar 08
// Darren Nakamura
During today's Inside Gearbox panel at PAX East, Gearbox unveiled the trailer for the fourth piece of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel downloadable content. The story content picks up after the end of The Pre-Sequel and leads into...

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection shines in some spots, has problems in others

Mar 05 // Brett Makedonski
Having demoed both games in The Handsome Collection, The Pre-Sequel came off as simply unimpressive. Moving it to current consoles and harnessing the increased power of the PS4 isn't enough to make the four-player local co-op consistently work. Requiring the game to render everything four times over took a noticeable toll on game performance. Despite playing a level that was relatively unpopulated, the frame-rate dropped an annoying amount. It's likely that this won't be the case with fewer users, and there's always the possibility it'll be patched out through optimization in the coming weeks. Another niggling spot in The Pre-Sequel was the menu interface. It's oddly zoomed in by default, and the player needs to zoom out to see the full picture. Although it didn't present much of a problem in our brief demo with a throwaway character, players who actually care about their character builds and weapons will be in and out of those menus with great frequency. [embed]286397:56948:0[/embed] For as much as The Pre-Sequel didn't impress, Borderlands 2 absolutely did. Playing the Tiny Tina add-on, our group of four made our way through extremely busy sections with no dip in performance. That's where Handsome Collection players who look forward to local co-op are going to be most pleased with this package. Apart from those impressions, these are basically identical to the two games as they were on legacy consoles. Gearbox confirmed that nothing's been changed with regard to any overarching systems such as drop rate. It's the Borderlands you already know and (maybe) love. Actually, as far as The Handsome Collection goes, you might be better off not knowing Borderlands yet. It seems like it's a nice introductory package for those that held off on exposure to the series. Anyone that has an extensive history with it will welcome the ability to import characters from legacy consoles (including level, Badass Rank, and campaign progress), but nothing shown marks much of an improvement from what's already been played. Aside from four-player local co-op, it probably doesn't offer enough incentive to most people to convince them to re-invest.
Borderlands preview photo
Borderlands 2 impressed, The Pre-Sequel did not
Traditionally, Game Developers Conference is a very busy show. After what seems like a three-month hibernation, the game industry slowly creaks back awake and GDC is the first time everything's in full gear again. As always, ...

WWE photo
WWE

Minor league wrestler accidentally outs WWE 2K16's existence


Surprising exactly no one
Feb 26
// Brett Makedonski
After taking a proverbial steel chair to the back with WWE 2K15, the wrestling series seems poised to make a return to the squared circle. That's not shocking in its own right, but what's interesting is that 2K Games didn't g...
Sid Meier's Starships photo
Sid Meier's Starships

Sid Meier's Starships blasts off March 12 for $14.99


On iPad, Mac, and Windows
Feb 24
// Darren Nakamura
Sid Meier's Starships warped in out of nowhere. We had never heard anything about it until just last month, and it turns out that it will be launching on iPad, Mac, and Windows early next month. March 12, to be exact! It is r...

The first three rounds of Sid Meier's Starships are not enough

Feb 24 // Darren Nakamura
Sid Meier's Starships (iPad, Mac, PC [previewed])Developer: Firaxis GamesPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: March 12, 2015MSRP: $14.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit I don't mean to hate on Starships just yet. In fact, a lot of the design decisions make perfect sense from a gameplay perspective. It makes sense for a tactical combat game to begin with only a few units rather than an army. It makes sense to enclose arenas for the combatants to actually encounter one another. These elements make for a good game, but they run counter to the narrative of taking control of the Milky Way. Starships is broken up into two distinct sections that affect one another. Resource management and area control take place on the galaxy map, while combat occurs zoomed in to a piece of a solar system within that galaxy. By influencing planets on the galaxy map, players gather resources and eventually take control of sectors. The resources are similar to those found in Civilization: Beyond Earth, but with a few tweaks to their functions. Food is still used to increase population, which raises the overall resource output of a planet. Science is used to upgrade technologies to buff starship systems. Metal (formerly production) is used to construct buildings on planets, providing specific resource increases and other effects. Energy is used to add ships to the fleet or to install new or upgraded systems onto existing ships. Credits are a new piece of the puzzle, used to convert to any of the other resources, or to buy influence on a planet. [embed]286382:56944:0[/embed] By moving the fleet around the galaxy map, the player can initiate combat encounters. These take place on a two-dimensional hex grid centered around the planet of interest, sometimes featuring moons and filled with an inordinate amount of asteroids. On a turn, players can activate their ships in any order. For each ship activation, it gets some amount of movement depending on its component makeup, and one action that can be executed before, during, or after movement. A major selling point of Starships is the customization of the titular vessels. Energy can be spent to upgrade weapons systems, armor, stealth, sensors, and more. The more stuff a ship has piled onto it, the slower it will move, so engine upgrades are key for tactical maneuverability. One neat thing: as the ships are tweaked with new parts, their stated classes automatically update. The basic corvettes can eventually become cruisers, destroyers, or battleships with the right gear. There is no strictly correct setup for a fleet. In my first run through the preview build, I engaged in a few battles that emphasized sensors, and a few others that allowed only my flagship. For my second playthrough, I beefed up my flagship and neglected my others, but came across a different set of encounters. The variety in combat missions is an unexpected treat. The objectives range from simple (destroy all enemy ships) to complex (control three outposts at once) to just strange (navigate through an asteroid maze in a set number of turns). Each round on the galaxy map, players have a certain amount of fatigue to spend before being forced to take shore leave and end the turn. This usually amounts to about three combat missions per player per round. Combat missions can run quickly, with some taking as few as five minutes, though I can imagine that when larger fleets clash, it could draw battles out. Although there is a resource management aspect, it doesn't require nearly as much micromanagement as a typical Civilization game does. There are only a few types of upgrades for a planet, a handful of technologies to research, and marginal differences between the three Affinities introduced in Beyond Earth. Upgrades are purchased instantaneously rather than built up over time. It has a certain rhythm to it. The galaxy map is a strategy exercise, where influence over certain planets and adjacency to other players is important. These strategy considerations are punctuated by the tactical battles around each planet. The constant switching between the big picture and several small theaters is a little tough to get a hang of at first, but it helps to inject some variety into the experience. After the third round, just as I felt like I was getting the hang of it, the preview build ended. Three rounds played in less than an hour, and on my second playthrough I had covered about 20% of the galaxy. Though I can't say for sure how long an average game would run, a full Starships game is definitely meant to be less of an undertaking than a run through Civilization. Therein stems the one concern I have for Starships. From a pure gameplay perspective, the board game-like combat and area control work well together. As a followup to Beyond Earth, where the playground now includes the entire galaxy rather than a single planet, the simpler scope is counter to the conceit. Conquering the Milky Way should be an enormous endeavor, but everything here just feels small.
Sid Meier's Starships photo
A taste of what's to come
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth released to mixed reactions. I loved how it took the took the classic gameplay to alien worlds, and I especially appreciated its underlying narrative about the future of the human race. ...

Homeworld trailer photo
Homeworld trailer

Homeworld Remastered Collection trailer shows off sexy-voiced cultist or something


'If you will not join, then die'
Feb 19
// Darren Nakamura
All right, I'll admit it: I know almost nothing about Homeworld. After reading the plot synopsis on Wikipedia (yeah journalism!), I got the gist of how things go, but with all of the alien races involved I can't really place...

Review: Evolve

Feb 13 // Nic Rowen
Evolve (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)Developer: Turtle Rock StudiosPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: February 10, 2015MSRP: $59.99 Every multiplayer game is going to be somewhat dependent on who you play it with, we all understand that. But the gulf between an enjoyable match with a decent team and an unbearable slog when even one person doesn't hold up their end is so vast in Evolve that it's worth underlining in thick red ink. The hunt is for pack animals, not lone wolves, and Evolve won't truck with anybody thinking they can just go off and do their own thing for even a second. Separating from the party is an open invitation to be snapped up by a random man-eating plant or lurking swamp monster, with no help close enough to bail you out before you're digested. Due to the mutually essential roles each hunter plays, when any member of the team takes a dive, the situation rapidly becomes hopeless for the hunters. That may sound fun for the monster at least, but after playing several rounds where I was able to trounce hapless teams hamstrung by one particularly bad player, I have to say the thrill wears out fairly quickly. Every player in the match (including the monster) is responsible for creating a fun and memorable hunt. That means you need five diligent players working together to carve and shape an enjoyable time out of Evolve's rough granite, while you only need one chucklehead to mess it up for everyone. If you've played any online games before, you know how the odds work out on that. But that's when you're playing with randos -- what about playing with friends? I think it can be easy to overlook a flawed experience because “it's so much better with friends!” and it's tempting to apply that logic to Evolve. Because, in this case, it isn't so much a matter of being “better with friends” as it is “this is a completely different game with friends!” Getting on with a dependable group that's working together and taking turns with the monster reveals just how great a game Evolve can be. It's like taking all the best parts of your favorite multiplayer titles, dumping them all out on the floor, and collaborating with your buddies to build something new and wonderful out of them. A great match in Evolve can combine the nail-biting tension of the last round of a Gears of War horde match, the pleasing synergy of Team Fortress 2's overlapping class interactions, and the hangdog embarrassment of dropping a solo in Rock Band in front of everyone. Sadly, as amazing and exhilarating as those moments are, they've represented the minority of my time with Evolve. It's just unrealistic to think you will always have friends who are ready and willing to play when you are. I spent the last week buried in Evolve at hours all throughout the day and have a Steam friends list as long as my arm. Even so, I spent most of that time dropping into random matches, waiting through interminable lobbies and loading screens, hoping this time I'd luck into a good group. There are solo options for the antisocial among us that will pit you against computer-controlled hunters and monsters. But they're just a pale imitation of the multiplayer matches with functionally serviceable AI teammates. More of a way to test out various classes and monsters in an embarrassment-free environment than a real alternative to multiplayer. A co-op based take on the Evacuation game mode that squares four human hunters against an AI monster is the closest thing to a non-competitive, but still enjoyable, version of the game. Co-op Evacuation is a good way to easily grind out challenge requirements to unlock characters and have a more relaxed safari, but it wears out quickly upon repeated plays. If you're a loner by nature but are still kind of curious about giant monsters and cool-looking harpoon guns, this is your warning -- Evolve has nothing for you. The potential for a fun time is further hampered by a number of bugs and pressing balance issues that are still a problem in the retail release. I was hoping a day-one patch would solve some of these issues, but sadly they are still fairly common. Rubberbanding connection issues frequently wreak havoc on matches, resulting in frustrating occasions where a monster will slip out of a trapper's mobile arena when it looks like it should have caught him, or an imperiled hunter will miraculously glitch out of the way of a monster's would-be fatal charge. Terrain and bounding issues sometimes prevent hunters from being able to revive incapacitated teammates they are clearly standing right over, making you seem like the most incompetent jerkwad medic on the planet. Bizarrely, more than once I was dropped into a game already in progress as a generic soldier ripped from the Rescue game mode. He carried only two weapons out of the standard three (oddly enough taken from two different members of the assault class) and has no speaking lines. While it is an interesting curiosity the first time around, the novelty wears off when you realize you just deprived a team of the medic or trapper you replaced. “Thanks for the 'help.'” None of these bugs are game-breakers on their own, but they add up. When you pile these frustrations on the already long wait times between matches and frequent dud games that are lopsided one way or the other, it starts to feel like Evolve doesn't respect your time. Speaking of dud games, I would basically classify every match I had with a Wraith monster as one. Nobody wants to be the guy who publicly complains about balance issues; it's an open invitation to be told how bad you are at the game and how you only need to “git gud.” That said, I don't think I ever saw a single team win against a Wraith. By Turtle Rock's own reported telemetry, it had a 70% win rate in the beta. Even post-nerfs, its powerful combination of stealth, mobility, and devastating damage just seem completely out of whack compared to the other two monsters. Once a Wraith hits stage three, it's basically “GG.” I'm sure with a crack team of hunters, all playing the right character for their class, communicating and staying on point, the Wraith is beatable. But again, the average random posse is a far cry from dream-team status. Whenever one side has to play a near-perfect game to compete with another player's choice on the character select screen, it's hard to call that balanced or fun. To its credit, Evolve looks absolutely gorgeous. The environments are spectacular (the first time you drop into the biodome-esque Aviary is a real treat), and the character models for both hunters and monsters are great. Each class has its own color palette and unifying size/shape while still keeping a lot of individual style between each character in the class. It makes for a design that is easy to keep track of in the middle of a fight, and fun to admire during downtime. The characters are mostly stock types, but they play with the typical tropes in a few amusing ways to keep you guessing. The pre-mission pep talks between hunters can veer into standard tough-guy bravado, but they are often surprisingly charming as well. I particularly enjoyed a lot of the interactions with Lazarus, a medic who only applies medical care after his patients have died a violent death, and Bucket, an immortal AI contained in the body of an industrial worker-bot. Needless to say, he has somewhat unique perspective on the mission. The monsters look magnificently intimidating, radiating predatory menace with each careful movement. They feel every bit as tremendously powerful as they should, bounding vast tracks of land in a single leap, or snagging lesser beasts with powerful tentacle arms and claws. It can be remarkably satisfying to turn the tables on a group of hunters who have harried and harassed you all match once you hit stage-three evolution. There is a lot of detail paid to the other wildlife on Shear. If you take time out of your busy schedule of shooting or devouring everything you see, you can watch random animals snap at each other, or move out of the way of a more impressive predator. The pacified industrial areas where humans have set up shop are finely crafted and help put the fearsome monsters into scale. It's clear the developers devoted a ton of thought and care into the world they've built, and it's a damn shame the game doesn't come together as nicely as it should. If you can find four people who are willing to sign a blood pact to convene for a ritual night of Evolve once or twice a week, then by all means enjoy the hunt (and where do I sign?). If not, you have to ask yourself if you are really prepared to deal with the peaks and frequent valleys of the experience. Personally, I think there are better ways to spend your time than gambling on a decent match, hoping one or two of your friends can make it on sometime over the weekend. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Evolve review photo
A tamed beast
Trying to pin down my exact thoughts on Evolve has been trickier than pinning down any kind of prey the game has thrown at me. I was cautious with my initial impressions of the game earlier this week, noting an uneven play ex...

Evolve photo
Evolve

Evolve's launch trailer means hunting season's open


That goes for both sides
Feb 10
// Brett Makedonski
Some hunt for sport. Others hunt for sustenance. And, in the case of Evolve, everyone hunts because the other side is doing their damnedest to kill you. However, just because the hunt's starting today, it doesn't mean that w...

Review in Progress: Evolve

Feb 10 // Nic Rowen
Evolve (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)Developer: Turtle Rock StudiosPublisher: 2K GamesReleased: February 10, 2015MSRP: $59.99 In the far-flung future, man will have vermin problems. Probably because they insist on trying to colonize planets like Shear, which as far as I can tell is some kind of naturally occurring abattoir specifically designed to end human life. While the inhabitants of Shear are used to the garden-variety land-sharks, lizard-dogs, and carnivorous plants that make up the country side, a new terrifying breed of monster has recently popped up and is seriously imposing on their way of life. That's you. Enter the hunters, an assorted bunch of lovable stock characters and stereotypes contracted to eradicate the beasts and assist in a planet-wide evacuation. That's also you. Asymmetry lies at the heart of Evolve's basic premise. Four players control the hunters, each one representing a class that specializes in one particular aspect of monster slaying. Trappers are the most important for the actual hunt, bringing the skills necessary to track and contain the monster. Assault guys, predictably, provide the firepower needed to take the beast down. Medics keep the team going and provide some useful utility like sticking the monster with tranq darts. While support class members fill in the gaps and feature the most diverse range of skills, everything from shields to UAVs. Another player takes control of the monster, a solitary predator who has to not only fend off the hunters, but other hostile life on Shear. The monster isn't a pushover, but it isn't a powerhouse when the match begins either. To become a truly Godzilla-like force of nature, the monster needs to hunt and devour enough prey to evolve through three stages of power, gaining stronger abilities and growing in size at each stage.  The main game mode, Hunt, is a straight up fight between the two sides. Attrition is the name of the game as the hunters work to whittle down the monster's health bar and prevent it from evolving, while the monster does its best to covertly feed on wildlife and evade the hunters until it can muscle up to its final stage and overpower them. While the monster has no way of replenishing lost health outside of evolving (and even then it is a limited amount), eating wildlife will let it slather on armor the hunters will have to chew through before doing real damage. Similar to L4D, the human opposition can be incapacitated with enough damage, left to bleed out on the ground and die unless a teammate risks coming over to save them. Each time a hunter is knocked down, he returns with a smaller health bar. Three trips to the dirt and a hunter dies outright. Ideally, this should allow the monster to try to divide and conquer the hunters, isolate them one at a time, and either reduce their overall health for a final inevitable showdown, or stylishly dismantle the team with brutal animal cunning. Sadly, I've yet to see that happen. There is no reason for hunters to split up and the power dynamic between a monster at stage one and a monster at stage three is far too skewed to promote any other play style than rushing to stage three as soon as possible. The vast majority of matches end in one of two ways. In the first scenario, a stage one baby-monster gets caught in the trapper's mobile arena (a force field dome that traps the monster inside) and is unceremoniously slaughtered, or dealt such irrecoverable damage the end of the match is a given. In the second scenario, a monster will successfully string a team along for upwards of ten yawn-inducing minutes until it reaches stage three and utterly steamrolls right through them (unless the monster happens to be a Wraith, then it just does the same at stage two). Neither result is particularly satisfying. It's a shame so much emphasis is placed on the poorly balanced Hunt mode, because the game comes alive in its secondary game modes. Defend, Nest, Rescue, and the most elaborate of them, Evacuation, all provide interesting twists on the formula. Defend has the Hunters struggling to protect generators from a stage three monster and its minions, giving the action a tower-defense feel. Nest flips the relationship, tasking the monster with defending a clutch of eggs scattered over the map. The monster can hatch eggs early to give itself a mini-Goliath ally, but at the cost of doing some of the hunter's work for them. While Rescue litters the map with incapacitated survivors for the hunters and monster to squabble over, allowing both sides the chance to ambush each other. Evacuation is Evolve's campaign substitute, stringing together five random matches as a sort of mini-narrative. Victory in one match will have an effect on the next. For example, a hunter win might spawn mini-turrets to defend objectives on the next round, while a triumphant monster might cause a troublesome radiation leak at the ol' power plant. There are plenty of variations on the theme, and some of them feel more balanced than others, but they do a good job of establishing real stakes to the struggle. Giving the two sides something to worry about other than each other does wonders for the game. Even basic objectives give both sides the breathing room they need to explore strategies other than “RUN” and “CHASE,” resulting in more interesting matches. So far I've had more fun in any of the extra modes than I have in the premier brand.  It's difficult to say how I feel about Evolve at this point. I've had some real fun and I can see the potential for something great. But I've also had many moments of intense frustration. Just like L4D, you are so dependent on other people (both as teammates and as worthy opposition) that getting a good match can be a roll of the dice unless you're playing with friends. Combine that with long wait times between matches (north of three minutes) and you can easily waste an hour or more on fruitless and boring misfires. Another area of annoyance is the character unlocking system. Only four of the twelve hunters and one of the three monsters currently in the game (with more to come through somewhat nefarious DLC) are available from the start, the rest are locked behind challenge goals. Some of these goals can be fulfilled in the course of a couple of regular matches, others are grindy and seem like intentional time-sinks. Crappy progression systems are one thing, but it's another when all the best toys are being kept out of reach. Opinions may differ, but the unlocked characters seem like direct upgrades to the starter roster, and after getting access to a few of them I've never gone back to the defaults. As for the monsters, the flying Leviathan with its powerful ranged attacks certainly is more of a handful to deal with than the ground-bound Goliath, but manageable. The final monster, the Wraith, however, is downright broken. Combining speed, power, and the ability to spawn an AI controlled duplicate to double team the humans, it is leaps and bounds beyond the abilities of an average team of hunters. It's hard to say if these are legitimate balance issues that will persist and negatively impact the game in the long term, or just a matter of the community wising up and developing strategies to deal with them. Similarly, while I think the more objective based game modes are definitely more fun than the standard Hunt, I've had a distressingly difficult time finding matches for them. This could be the result of playing in a pre-release environment where there aren't enough players to go around, or it could signal a lack of popular interest in those modes, which would be a tragedy because that's where they hid the good bits. It's too early to render a final verdict on Evolve. I'm going to keep at it now that the game is out for the public, see how some of these issues play out and how the servers do under full retail strain. As of now though, my finely tuned animal instincts are telling me you might want to hold off on that $99 ultra-edition.
Evolve review in progress photo
Red in tooth and claw
If you didn't know Turtle Rock Studios was the brains behind 2008's Left 4 Dead, you could probably guess as much after a few hours with its latest game, Evolve. The zombies might be gone in favor of giant monsters and lethal...

Why are so few of Evolve's characters female?

Feb 08 // Kyle MacGregor
At one point this involved reworking a female character into a man. Markov, one of the assaults, started out as Nikola, but Robb says his character designers never quite realized their vision for her. Consequently, she was scrapped in favor of what would wind up a male form. Asked if Turtle Rock felt pressure from the outside to make those sort of changes, Robb said his team never discussed which demographics would be represented or in what capacity. Apparently, it was just about "making cool, compelling characters."  "One of things that was really important to the character team, we wanted to make the female characters we do have strong, intelligent, cool female characters," he said. "We kept all their clothes on. We didn't go for the whole Dead or Alive-- There's no boob jiggle or any of that bullshit." Robb said the team has many more character ideas kicking around, "a lot" of which are female. He hopes to explore them should the game do well at market. We'll just have to wait and see. Evolve launches this Tuesday, February 10 for Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.
Evolve female characters photo
The creative director responds
Evolve will launch with twelve hunters: eight men, three women, and a robot, though it's referred to as a "he." Of the three female characters, two are medics (Val and Caira) and the other (Maggie) is a trapper. There are cur...

Sid Meier's Starships photo
Sid Meier's Starships

Sid Meier runs through Starships' customization and a small battle


Does he make it despite an estimated 40% chance of success?
Feb 05
// Darren Nakamura
Last month 2K and Firaxis announced Sid Meier's Starships, a strategy game set in the Civilization universe, continuing the story that Beyond Earth set up. With an impending spring release, it looks like it is pretty far alo...






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