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How the 'new' Diablo III brought me back in photo
How the 'new' Diablo III brought me back in
by Patrick Hancock

I never thought I would actually say this, but I am enjoying myself while playing Diablo III. Keep in mind this is without Reaper of Souls, and is entirely about the newest patch -- Loot 2.0. After spending countless hours playing Diablo II and its expansion, my friends and I were incredibly excited for the next installment in the series.

And then I played it.

I could not have been more disappointed. I felt that the inclusion of the Auction Houses fueled many of the other game design decisions (drop rate, loot rarity) and made the game incredibly frustrating. I spent a healthy chunk of time going through the game’s campaign and leveling up my Witch Doctor, but eventually uninstalled the game with no intention to return.

And yet here I am, actually looking forward to playing more Diablo III.

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Arkham Knight has the right playground for Batman's new toys photo
Arkham Knight has the right playground for Batman's new toys
by Brett Makedonski

Rocksteady Studios has found itself in a somewhat precarious position with Arkham Knight. The team's two previous installments in the series are so universally revered that it begs the question "What can it do to live up to, and surpass, Arkham Asylum and Arkham City?" Rocksteady's opted to take the path of increasing the scope of everything and changing the formulaic approach to some of the series' conventions. It remains to be seen how well it'll work.

Arkham Knight is the first in the "Rocksteady Trilogy" (this term kept coming up, presumably to distance themselves from Arkham Origins) to give Batman free rein of Gotham City. The plot device driving this iteration is that Scarecrow has threatened to release a fear toxin so the entirety of the city has been evacuated. Well, except for all the thugs, criminals, and super villains that refuse to leave. They'll be Batman's punching bags en route to finding Scarecrow.

If this version of Gotham City sounds like semi-familiar territory, that's because it kind of is. The cynically analytical might say this walled-off playground full of baddies smacks of Arkham City with skyscrapers. The optimist might suggest that this added verticality is a welcomed progression for the series.

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Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls photo
Review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
by Chris Carter

After the classic that was Diablo II, expectations for a follow-up were at an all-time high. Although it could never really meet those expectations, Diablo III was a fine hack and slash, and I ended up replaying it time and time again with every possible class.

But it wasn't perfect of course, since loot was designed around the ill-fated and ill-designed Auction House, putting a damper on long-term gear goals. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls may not reinvent the wheel, but it eliminates many of the problems from DIII proper.

And most importantly, the Auction House is gone all around!

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Facebook to acquire Oculus VR for around $2 billion photo
Facebook to acquire Oculus VR for around $2 billion
by Jordan Devore

Facebook announced today it has reached an agreement to acquire virtual-reality headset maker Oculus VR, Inc. for approximately $2 billion -- spread across $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock -- with an extra $300 million earn-out in cash and stock tied to certain undisclosed milestones. The deal is expected to happen in the second quarter of 2014.

"Facebook plans to extend Oculus' existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas," reads a press release. "Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg elaborated on the acquisition in a post, writing that "We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.

"But this is just the start. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform."

Unexpected, to put it mildly, but this makes sense given the long-term plans of both companies.

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Review: BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two photo
Review: BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two
by Chris Carter

BioShock Infinite had an interesting run, with player reception all over the board. Some loved it, some hated it, others reveled in its celebration of violence, some disapproved. It's probably going to be a long time before we get to debate the merits of another BioShock game again though, considering the fact that Irrational Games has dissolved, and is handing over the franchise to 2K.

So that leaves Burial at Sea Episode Two as Irrational's last hurrah, and I'm pleased to say it's a vast improvement upon the foundation that was built in Episode One.

[Be warned: there are minor spoilers involving Episode One below.]

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Review: Blackguards photo
Review: Blackguards
by Patrick Hancock

In many ways, I'm very glad that Final Fantasy: Tactics had such a big influence on my tastes. It's an incredibly well made game and put me on a path towards playing more games of its ilk like Phantom Brave or the more recent Expeditions: Conquistador. Now, it's brought me to Blackguards.

Blackguards is fantasy, its tactics, and it's difficult without being unfair. Boy am I glad I played FF:T.

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Review: The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville photo
Review: The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville
by Darren Nakamura

Fifteen years ago, The Powerpuff Girls was my jam. I used to watch it (along with Dexter's Laboratory) just about every day after coming home from school, but before firing up a videogame. A couple weeks ago, when The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville was announced, I approached it with a level of caution appropriate for a beloved childhood franchise resurrected with a new look. That is to say, I was prepared for the worst.

Previously, developer Radiangames was mostly known for a handful of decent, but perhaps uninspired Xbox Live Indie Games. Licensed titles are often sub-par, and especially those that are timed to release in the same window as the source material. Despite all of that, Defenders of Townsville ends up as a unique, genuinely entertaining metroidvania.

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Assassin's Creed: Unity confirmed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One photo
Assassin's Creed: Unity confirmed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
by Chris Carter

Ubisoft has confirmed the existence of Assassin's Creed: Unity, which was just leaked a few days ago. It'll arrive on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One platforms this Holiday season, making it the first true current-gen entry, and seems to take place during the French Revolution.

Despite what people may think about the oversaturation of the franchise, the fact is I've enjoyed most of the series, annual releases and all, with a few missteps here and there (Revelations and III). Black Flag showed that the series still has it, so to speak, so I hope Unity can deliver.

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Get your WildStar beta keys here! photo
Get your WildStar beta keys here!
by Mr Andy Dixon

[Update: Beta weekend over! Hope you had fun.]

NOTE: The rest of the codes are loaded and live! Click here to snag yours before they're all gone!

Our friends at NCSoft and Carbine Studios have hooked us up with 5,000 beta keys for their hot new MMO WildStar, and we've got the first 1,000 reserved just for our Huge members!

The beta weekend starts tomorrow at 7am and ends on Sunday at 11:59pm Pacific. To snag your code, just head on over to your Huge member perks page and click the button! Once you've got your key, go sign up for an NCSoft account if you don't already have one, then click the "Apply A Code" button at the top of a page. If you like what you see, head on over to the WildStar pre-order page and secure yourself early access to the full game in late May.

Have fun! Not already one of our Huge members? You should really consider signing up! They get automatic entry into all contests, early access to beta keys like this, ad-free browsing (that's also guilt-free), and more. It's pretty great!

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Epic Games announces new $19.99/mo Unreal Engine 4 subscription plan photo
Epic Games announces new $19.99/mo Unreal Engine 4 subscription plan
by Dale North

Anyone can gain access to Unreal Engine 4 now with a new subscription plan, priced at $19.99 a month. This was announced this morning in a GDC press conference by Epic co-founder Tim Sweeney. 

With this new plan, users can deploy to four platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Developers will pay 5 percent of revenues for full access to Unreal Engine 4. This fee gets you the tools, access to full C++ source code (via GitHub), documentation, and forum support access. This new plan is available today, letting new developers download tools and get started right now (or in a few minutes -- the site is down right now).

Sweeney calls today the start of something new for Epic Games. He said that they’ve been working quietly behind the scene on new technology for awhile now. The future of the engine is inspired by a lot of changes in the game industry. The assumption was that bigger and better was going to be the continual goal for the future of gaming, but things have changed since, with mobile and VR entering the scene in a big way.

The newest form of  Unreal Engine 4 was built to be highly usable for developers of all sizes.   Sweeney says that even if you don’t know how to program, you could build a game in Unreal Engine 4. He confident enough about its ease of use that noted that the engine could potentially be a new outlet for the motivated Minecraft player.

It used to cost many millions of dollars and lots of licensing paperwork for AAA developers to use UE4 to make games. Sweeney admits that this is an outdated plan now. They’re shooting for practicability and accessibility with their new business mode; every developer on earth will have access to all the tools Epic has when they develop their AAA games now. For $20, cancelable at any time. How great is that?

As an example, they showed off a game they made with the tools, called Tappy Chicken. It was developed in two days with Blueprint in UE4, with no programming. Other examples of the tools were shown -- more on these later today.

You'll find the full details on this new plan here.

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Review: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Review: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
by Chris Carter

I really didn't know what to expect from Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z.

On one hand, it has the Ninja Gaiden name (which, admittedly, doesn't have much sway these days) and Keiji Inafune attached. But on the other, you have Spark Unlimited and the so-so grindhouse setup that kind of fell flat with a series of dull trailers.

The end result is a game that attempts to try a lot of different concepts, and only succeeds at a select few.

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We've got 5,000 keys for this weekend's Elder Scrolls Online beta! photo
We've got 5,000 keys for this weekend's Elder Scrolls Online beta!
by Mr Andy Dixon

[Update: Beta weekend over! Hope you had fun.]

Bethesda is kicking off another massive beta weekend today for their upcoming MMO The Elder Scrolls Online, and we've got a bunch of codes to hand out to lucky Dtoiders!

The beta starts up again today and ends on Sunday, March 16 at 11:59pm Eastern. If you've previously joined in on another beta weekend, then you're already registered! For the rest of you, visit our beta code redemption page to snag your code before they're all gone! Then you just need to head on over the The Elder Scrolls Online site and sign up.

So what are you waiting for? DO IT NOW! Word on the street is this is a pretty fun game.

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Review: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft photo
Review: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
by Ben Pack

I never got into Magic: The Gathering. Plenty of my friends did, but I couldn't afford countless booster packs or starter decks, and my mom wouldn't drive me to the seedy local comic book store to play against frightening high schoolers.

I loved the concept of trading card games, though. I collected Pokémon cards like any other red-blooded American child of the ‘90s, and even dabbled in Yu-Gi-Oh for a very dark four months. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft isn't the first videogame to attempt to do the same thing as Magic, but it’s easily one of the best.

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Opinion: Titanfall's campaign failed to draw me into its universe photo
Opinion: Titanfall's campaign failed to draw me into its universe
by Chris Carter

I've been playing Titanfall quite a bit in the past week or so, to the point where I'm about ready to Prestige soon. It's an enjoyable multiplayer game with some flaws for sure, and as a general rule FPS fans will have fun with it for weeks to come.

But there's been one major polarizing aspect of Titanfall, even for fans -- the campaign. Rather than provide a proper story or solo set of missions, the campaign is built entirely into the multiplayer component. Meaning, you'll need to connect online, find a game, and essentially play a modified multiplayer match to "see" the story.

That would have been fine, if the story or the world were worth exploring. But they aren't.

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CD Projekt pushes The Witcher 3 to February 2015 photo
CD Projekt pushes The Witcher 3 to February 2015
by Jordan Devore

No Witcher 3 this year -- it stings, doesn't it? But we'll be better off. CD Projekt's board has written about its reasons for the delay to February 2015 in an open letter, viewable in full below.

"We could have released the game towards the end of this year as we had initially planned," reads the letter. "Yet we concluded that a few additional months will let us achieve the quality that will satisfy us, the quality gamers expect from us. Consequently, we have set the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for February 2015."

The studio intends to "expand creative boundaries, set new benchmarks, [and] develop the genre as a whole" with The Witcher 3. I'm usually happy to see a game delayed even if I don't realize it at the time and that's especially true here. To have something with such potential miss the mark in order to hit an arbitrary release date would be disappointing beyond words.

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Review: Dark Souls II photo
Review: Dark Souls II
by Chris Carter

My experience with the Souls series is one of my favorite memories of my entire gaming career. Playing Demon's Souls for the first time made me feel like a kid again, back when games didn't hold your hand and explain every single facet of the adventure -- leaving everything to your imagination.

Even though Dark Souls was mainly just a refinement of the formula on a technical level, it offered up all-new experiences that felt wholly unique, and raised the bar in many respects. But then something changed -- Hidetaka Miyazaki, the producer and arguably the heart and soul of the franchise left, passing the torch to Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura to carry on his legacy.

Once again, Dark Souls II remains relatively unchanged from its predecessors, and still offers up most of the same magic that you fell in love with the first two times around.

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