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Titanfall 2’s 6v6 Pilot only mode Live Fire releases tomorrow with double XP

22 Feb

Live Fire, the 6v6 Pilot only mode for Titanfall 2, will be released tomorrow.

titanfall_2_live_fire

The news was posted by Respawn Entertainment on the official Titanfall 2 website.

It will feature two mode-specific Live Fire maps, Featured Playlists, a new execution, an additional Coliseum map, mixtape-style matchmaking, balance patches, and more.

Balancing was touched upon last week via the preliminary patch notes found here.

Here’s more information on the content included in tomorrow’s drop, straight from Respawn:

  • Mixtape Matchmaking: You’ll notice a complete overhaul of the matchmaking menu. Thanks to hard work from the team and feedback from the community, this new feature will allow you to create your own “mixtape” of modes.
  • Featured Playlist: Here we will be swapping out new modes each week that we think you should play, and for some of them we’ll reward you with Double XP events for checking them out.
  • Live Fire Maps: There will be two maps, Stacks and Meadows, that will support Live Fire mode only. Live Fire will be a limited time mode that will show up on Featured Playlists. We’ll be rotating this with other modes that we want to feature.
  • New Patch: There will be a large patch included with this update that will bring a plethora of game changes and fixes among many other things. We will provide patch notes online at release as well as in the Multiplayer menu FAQ.
  • New Execution: Inspired by the Stim, Last Hit packs a punch and you’ll see it show up with the rest of the executions in the Pilot customization options.
  • New Coliseum Map: Go mano e mano in a brand-new map called Columns that adds a twist to the existing formula.
  • New Factions Intros: We’ve added some new dialogue for faction leaders, so enjoy the new pep talk as you drop into that next match.

If you want some pointers on playing the new Live Fire mode, Visceral Games community manager Jay Frechette has you covered over on the PS Blog

To celebrate, the studio is also hosting a double XP weekend from tomorrow, through Monday February 27. The bonus XP will be granted only for playing in Live Fire mode.

Borderlands 2, Evolve are two of your Xbox Games with Gold for March

22 Feb

Microsoft has announced the four freebies Xbox Live Gold members can download during March.

On Xbox One, Gold members can download Layers of Fear for free during the entire month of March. Evolve Ultimate Edition, will be available as a free download March 16-April 15.

Xbox 360 users can download Borderlands 2 starting March 1. It will be free until Heavy Weapon takes its place on March 16.

More information is available on Xbox Wire.

As usual, all four games are available for Xbox One users thanks due to backwards compatibility.

Overwatch: is it time for a new map?

22 Feb

Better yet, how about something a little different…

Screenshot-3---Capture-The-Rooster

“Clever level design can lift unused heroes to new heights. Where many Overwatch players seem happy to have a new hero once every three months, the arrival of a new map between these vacant periods could comfortably satiate the need for something more.”

Regardless of how good the gunplay is in a first person shooter, the maps that its players play on are an incredibly important part of ensuring the overall experience is enjoyable. Poorly designed locations that lack a cohesive theme, layering or verticality, can often result in play feeling dull and lifeless. Well designed maps not only transform a game, but they often remain memorable for years to come.

Overwatch has 21 maps in total if we’re to also include seasonal variants and Arena. 14 of those are set across Assault, Escort, Hybrid and Control and the last to be released, Oasis, was in January 2017. I’d consider it a relatively large number in total but there’s also an imbalance right now, with Hybrid and Control having four a piece and Assault and Escort only three.

There’s no suggestion that Overwatch has to have an equal number of maps across its game modes, but it’s fair to say that Assault and Escort have a great deal of potential. Although they’re incredibly simple in design, there’s an immediacy to the playstyle they offer that’s moreish. Volskaya is a particular favorite of mine simply because the nuances of its design create a challenging ebb and flow of combat. Its mix of bottle necks, open spaces, flanking routes and mobile platforms – wrapped up in a beautiful snow setting – allow it to stand out.

To be entirely fair to Overwatch, all of its maps are strong. I’d argue however that the lineup of Control maps are the weakest simply because it’s a game mode with so few transitions. Fundamentally, success or failure on all of them revolves entirely around one set area and everything on the outside is largely irrelevant.

The addition of any new map to Overwatch can massively affect the meta and while it might not push change as far as the arrival of a new hero, clever level design can lift unused heroes to new heights. Where many Overwatch players seem happy to have a new hero once every three months, the arrival of a new map between these vacant periods could comfortably satiate the need for something ‘more’.

Screenshot-2---Volskaya-Industries

With Overwatch drawing its map inspirations from the real world, albeit a future one, it did get me thinking about how Blizzard could improve on their existing game modes, but also what map could be next. Considering we’ve already been to most ecosystems and world locations that have a clear theme, there’s inevitably a risk of overlap. It’s when looking back over past first person shooters then, that my favorite ever map sprang to mind: AS-Convoy from Unreal Tournament.

The map in question see players fight across a series of moving vehicles and as it hurtles forwards, players have to undertake a variety of objectives, whether attacking or defending. Objectives include opening the transport panel to create a closer spawn point for the attackers, opening the rear door of the convoy to allow a plane to perform a bombing run or bomb the doors for access to the repair vessel.

With the Convoy constantly in motion, combined with its multiple objectives, there’s an unquestionable excitement to the entire map. There’s not only the risk of falling from the moving cars and the transport carrier, but the dynamics of the map changing in real time – depending on the success of the attackers or defenders – makes for nervy and exciting play.

Even after all these years I’ve still yet to play anything that comes close to AS-Convoy and in many ways it would be amazing to see something similar in Overwatch. With all existing maps largely static, anything with motion to this degree would instantly stand out, especially as an Assault map.

Screenshot-1---Oasis

Choosing a setting for something of this kind would be rather difficult, but I did wonder whether the Orient Express could be a possibility. Although Overwatch is set some time in 2070, I suspect retention of key landmarks is very much the norm and considering Hollywood and Route 66 still exist, it seems sensible to suggest the Orient Express – an iconic train – absolutely could.

“Dynamic maps that change direction based on the success of the attacking or defending team could drastically alter the design approach to Assault and Escort, to the point where they’d not only have more originality, but potentially greater longevity.”

My thought surrounding the train and this map is that it would be more akin to the Snowpiercer but on a much grander, futuristic scale. Glass carriages, multiple floors, wide balconies and open decks as well as a variety of holds would make up the train. These layers would add verticality, close quarter play and variety. Not only this, but as the train sped along – levitating above the rails below – hover vehicles would pursue the train and regularly change formations. These would provide hazards for the player but would also grant further width to the map as players would be able to freely move across them.

I suspect an initial reservation may be the prospect of repeated deaths for anyone who lacks shore footing when playing from a first person perspective, but this would largely be balanced by the fact everyone would spawn on solid ground and access to the Orient Express would be guaranteed. Using the flanking routes on the outside of the train (technically the surrounding vehicles) would be high risk, high reward paths. Despite these risks, there would still be some reliable paths to pass over.

The lore surrounding the map would see the differing Overwatch factions all attempting to intercept and/or protect a dignitary on board the train. Widowmaker would be attempting to assassinate, while heroes such as Winston and Tracer would be hoping to extract the target. Roadhog and Junkrat would simply be along for the gold bullion in the hold.

overwatch_year_of_the_rooster (23)

In many ways the map would play out like the multi-stages offered by those in Brink or Powerstone 2. It would undoubtedly be technical and no doubt a challenge for Blizzard to implement something of this scale, but many of the objectives of the map would be Capture Points that resulted in a significant change to the map.

If Blizzard is to continue as it is by simply implementing fixed location maps of a traditional nature, irrespective of game mode, I suspect things may get stale quickly and the desire from players to have more maps delivered at pace would grow louder. Ensuring that new maps retain their simplicity, but with greater layers to their delivery (such as my hopes above), would not only keep things interesting, but add life to game modes that are already growing stale.

The reaction to Capture the Rooster, another traditional game mode that uses existing maps, perfectly highlights the player base’s desire for something new. Dynamic maps that change direction based on the success of the attacking or defending team could drastically alter the design approach to Assault and Escort, to the point where they’d not only have more originality, but potentially greater longevity. They effectively become an evolving game tug of war where the maps are constantly changing: to me, that sounds a very good thing.

What would you like to see from new Overwatch maps? Would you like more dynamic alternatives? Are you happy with what we already have, as long as a new setting is provided? Let me know.

Overwatch in-universe “interview” with robotics genius Efi Oladele may provide hints to next hero

21 Feb

If Doomfist isn’t the next Overwatch hero, maybe 11-year-old robotics prodigy Efi Oladele can provide us with some sort of hint.

overwatch_efi

In the latest blog entry on the Overwatch website, an in-universe interview with Numbani native Efi Oladele has been posted.

According to the post (thanks PC Gamer), Efi Oladele won a genius grant from the Adawe Foundation for her work in artificial intelligence and robotics.

In the interview, Efi discusses how she became obsessed with creating small drones after receiving her first robotics kit. In the future, her goal is to “build something that can keep us safe, like the new OR15,” and as far as how she’s going to use the grant money, “it’s secret for now,” but she is “taking a trip to celebrate” her achievement first. And it will be her first time flying. We can only assume she will fly somewhere outside if the current Numbani locations in the game, but you never know with Blizzard.

Also, what is the OR15? Speculation is running all over the place on that end, but one interesting theory pointed out by reddit user andygb4 is rather intriguing.

As he points out, the third Doomfist in the poster which was shown in the original Overwatch cinematic has Omnic text underneath instead of the normal font on the other two.

“Maybe she builds a robot that eventually becomes Doomfist?,” he suggests.

doomfist_overwatch

If you aren’t familiar with Overwtach lore, an Omnic is a type of robot with artificial intelligence – both are subjects Efi seems to have plenty of knowledge on. Omnics were “originally designed and built by humans,” mostly notably the Omnica Corporation, to serve the economy. Eventually, the Omnic Crisis occurred when the machines became infected by God Programs, developed militarized Omnics of themselves and started attacking humans (see Overwatch wiki link above).

Numbani, where Efi lives, is one of the few places in the Overwatch universe where omnics and humans live in harmony and equality. Formed after the Omnic Crisis, it’s “one of the world’s greatest and most technologically advanced cities.” This is also where as part the Unity Day festivities, the gauntlet of Doomfist is exhibited at the Numbani Heritage Museum.

So. Even though the 24th hero coming to Overwatch is apparently not Doomfist, unless Blizzard is messing with us, it’s quite possible Efi may have something to do with his story, or will possibly introduce some sort of new Omnic hero into the game. Or, she could transform into a hero or even be the hero. Only Blizzard knows.

We’re just speculating on all of this obviously. Hopefully, we’ll know more soon.

Xbox Live deals: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Don’t Starve, Forza 6, GTA 5, more

21 Feb

This week’s Xbox One Deals with Gold include three Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare options, a bundle including Forza 6 and Forza 5, and other games on sale for up to 67% off.

steph_don't _starve_day_149

Other Deals with Gold discounts include a collection of add-on packs for Forza 6, King’s Quest: The Complete Collection, Shadow Complex Remastered and more.

Discounts included in the Xbox One Spotlight sale are available for all Xbox Live users. The GTA 5 offerings were available during last week’s Deals with Gold sale, but only for XBLG members.

Below, you will find the entire list of Deals with Gold. As always, more information is available through Major Nelson.

Xbox One Deals with Gold

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – 35% off
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Digital Deluxe Edition – 20% off
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Digital Legacy Edition – 25% off
  • Deadpool – 60% off
  • Don’t Starve: Giant Edition + Shipwrecked Expansion – 40% off
  • Doodle God: Ultimate Edition – 33% off
  • Dovetail Games Euro Fishing – 50% off
  • DUCATI – 90th Anniversary – 60% off
  • Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Motorsport 5 Bundle – 50% off
  • Forza Motorsport 6 Complete Add-Ons Collection – Add-On – 67% off
  • Hand of Fate – 67% off
  • Hunter’s Legacy – 25% off
  • King’s Quest: The Complete Collection – 50% off
  • NASCAR Heat Evolution – 35% off
  • Shadow Complex Remastered – 50% off
  • Toby: The Secret Mine – 20% off

Xbox One Deals with Gold – Spotlight Sale

  • Attack on Titan – 50% off
  • BLAZBLUE CHRONOPHANTASMA EXTEND- 50% off
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 & Great White Shark Cash Card – 50% off
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 & Megalodon Shark Cash Card Bundle – 60% off
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 & Whale Shark Cash Card Bundle – 60% off
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 – 50% off
  • WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate – 40% off

Resident Evil 7 players on PC, Xbox One can download Banned Footage Vol. 1-2 from today

21 Feb

Resident Evil 7 players on PC and Xbox One can now download Banned Footage Volumes 1 and 2.

resident evil 7

The DLC for Resident Evil 7 will also be made available for Windows 10 at a later date. When is not known at present, only that it’s “coming soon.”

Banned Footage Vol. 1 contains the episodes “Nightmare,” “Bedroom” and “Ethan Must Die”, while Vol.2 includes “Daughters”, “21,” and “Jack’s 55th Birthday”.

If you need help with the main content for each, we have guides on Vol 1: Nightmare and Bedroom along with Vol. 2’s Daughters.

Episodes 21 and Jack’s Birthday are bonus episodes and pretty straight forward.

If you need help with entire game itself, here is the main Resident Evil 7 guide.

Both volumes are available for those who purchased the Deluxe Edition or Season Pass. Each can also be purchased individually for $9.99/£7.99/€9.99 and $14.99/£11.99/€14.99, respectively.

The DLC is already available for download on PlayStation 4.

Fallout 4 VR: “You can play it start to finish right now,” says Howard

20 Feb

Fallout 4 in virtual reality is coming along nicely. A release date? Ha ha, don’t be funny.

fallout_4_dlc_nuka_world_new_shot_4

Fallout 4 VR is “going great”, according to Bethesda Softworks studio boss Todd Howard.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s super exciting. We are doing the whole game,” he told Glixel of Fallout 4 VR.

“You can play it start to finish right now, and the whole thing really works in terms of interface and everything.”

Howard made some further comments about how well Fallout 4 works in VR, especially the Pip-Boy interface and V.A.T.S., which Howard decribed as “awesome” in VR.

He also said that Fallout 4’s less-twitchy gunplay works better in VR than more frantic action shooters, but the reason you can’t have Fallout 4 right now despite it being fully playable is that Bethesda is still tinkering with some of VR’s problems – notably player movement.

“Locomotion is definitely the hard part, I will admit. Given the size of the world and the amount that you’re moving in Fallout 4 that part is tricky because you’re doing it a lot,” he said.

“Right now we’re doing the teleport warp thing and that’s fine, but we’re experimenting with a few others.”

Some of these “others” will be available when Fallout 4 VR releases; you’ll have your choice of movement methods. Good news for the motion-sensitive among us, who can select the least nauseating one, while those with stronger stomachs won’t be held to the slower options.

“It’s going great. It’s definitely the right game for us to do,” Howard concluded. Do hi the link above for the full interview as there’s a lot more to unpack than the brief snippets quoated here.

Fallout 4 VR was announced at E3 2016 and was expected to release within 12 months of announce. Given Bethesda’s recent fondness for very short PR cycles I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it pulled a Fallout Shelter on us and released Fallout 4 VR during E3 2017.

Last time Howard spoke about the Fallout 4 VR project he said Bethesda believes the VR market will sort itself out. It’s kind of funny that the publisher is apparently so enthusiastic now; the narrative painted when John Carmack left id Software was that Zenimax wasn’t interested in VR. (That all ended in tears though, so who knows what the real deal is.)

Anyway. Fallout 4 VR: still a thing, again.

Battlefield 1 video gives a look at the new Frontlines mode coming next month

20 Feb

Battlefield 1’s new mode is a mix of Conquest and Rush.

Battlefield 1‘s upcoming DLC pack They Shall Not Pass delivers a new game mode called Frontlines.

As you’ll see in the video above, Frontlines brings a sort of tug-of-war mechanic to Battlefield 1. The maps is broken up by a linear series of objectives, only one of which is active at any time, starting in the middle. In order to advance through this phase, one side needs to capture all the objectives on the way to the enemy base.

When one side reaches the other’s base, their objective changes: they need to destroy two telegraph posts inside the base. Unfortunately for them, during this phase the defending team can use the telegraphs to summon artillery strikes.

This second phase ends when the telegraph posts are destroyed or the attacking side runs out of reinforcements. In the latter scenario, the game reverts to the first phase, and players start fighting for objectives again. The round ends after a successful attack on both telegraph posts or when time runs out.

They Shall Not Pass brings new maps as well as a class, vehicle and stationary weapon to Battlefield 1. It’s expected sometime in March on all platforms.

To prepare yourself for the DLC, make sure you have the Winter Update which dropped last week, buffing, nerfing and adding new features and progression systems. Check out the Battlefield 1 Winter Update patch notes, or opt for a more concise rundown of Battlefield 1 Winter Update major changes and features.

Battlefield 1 is available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Resident Evil 7 was the best-selling game of January 2017, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, other heavy-hitters play musical chairs

17 Feb

The NPD group has released hardware and software figures for January 2017 and it should come as no surprise that PlayStation 4 and Resident Evil 7 topped the respective sectors.

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videogames

January 2017 NPD at a glance

Resident Evil 7 tops software charts

PS4 was best-selling console

PC software spend declined 12% year-over-year

All categories – accessories, hardware, software – down 4% year-over-year

Compare month-on-month: December 2016

Compare year-over-year: January 2016

While hardware sales declined, software was up 14% to $313 million. NPD attributed the increase to Resident Evil 7’s release, especially when comparing the year-over-year (yoy) release slates.

It’s also worth noting Resident Evil 7 was only on the market for five days when the NPD reporting period ended.

“With only five days in the market, Resident Evil 7 was the best-selling game in January,” said NPD analyst Sam Naji. “The last time Capcom had the best-selling game of the month (in dollar sales) was in March 2009 with Resident Evil 5.”

First-person shooters Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 were still two of the best-selling games for the month, and neither title has fallen off the chart since release in fall 2016.

Overwatch also returned after dropping off the NPD software list in October.

The rise in sales could possibly be attributed to various discount offers or the Overwatch Year of the Rooster event; however, that’s just conjecture on our part as NPD didn’t elaborate on why Overwatch was once again charting. It was, however, one of the best-selling games of 2016 per NPD’s yearly report in January.

Action titles Grand Theft Auto 5 and Watch Dogs 2 also remained on the chart, while sports titles Madden NFL 17 and FIFA 17 remained popular with US consumers as well.

PC software came in at $16 million, a 12% decline yoy from $18 million.

PS4_console_big

NPD Software Top Ten January 2017

You’ll notice not much changed on the chart since December 2016, as the heavy hitters played musical chairs and that’s about it.

The biggest changes were the entry of new releases Resident Evil 7 and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – the second best-selling PS4 title for the month.

Pokemon Sun and Moon and Final Fantasy 15 fell off the chart, and again, Overwatch reentered it.

The full NPD software chart is below, but keep in mind not all digital stores report sales data. Some publishers who sell through the PlayStation and Xbox Stores report data, but others do not. For example: Microsoft, Sony and Blizzard (Battle.net) do not report first-party sales.

  1. Resident Evil 7 (PS4, Xbox One)
  2. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  3. Grand Theft Auto 5 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  4. Battlefield 1 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  5. NBA 2K17 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  6. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (PS4)
  7. Madden NFL 17 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  8. Watch Dogs 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  9. Overwatch (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
  10. FIFA 17 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

This month, NPD also started reporting catalog sales of titles from the first six months of availability – starting with month seven (thanks, MCV). The winning publisher in the category for January 2017 was Take-Two and it was also the top publisher for 2016. NPD attributed this to continued sales of GTA 5.

NPD Hardware January 2017

Last week, the initial NPD report had PS4 topping hardware followed by Xbox One – which according to Microsoft enjoyed year-over-year (yoy) growth compared to January 2016.

PS4 sold the most units, with Xbox One coming in second place, and Nintendo’s Nintendo Classic Mini: NES in third.

“The PlayStation 4 was the best-selling hardware (in units sold) during January 2017,” said NPD analyst Sam Naji. “And for the fourth consecutive month, PlayStation 4 Slim System 500GB Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Bundle was the top-selling PS4 sku in terms of units sold.”

For the month of January 2017, hardware totaled $127 million, a decline of 19% yoy compared to $157 million in 2016.

Accessories declined 17% yoy to $155, with toys-to-life skus (ex: Skylanders, amiibo, Lego Dimensions) showing the biggest decline.

Total spent in the US on accessories, hardware and software for the month January hit $611 million. While that’s indeed as large figure, it’s 4% less compared to $637 million spent in 2016.

NPD said the lower figure was due to a decline in hardware sales and general lack of growth.

Payday 3 development has kicked off, but don’t hold your breath for it: “you simply don’t rush” Starbreeze’s most important brand

16 Feb

Payday 3 is the “most important” thing on Starbreeze’s radar, so expect it to go slow and careful.

Payday_2_art_cover

Payday 3 development has formally kicked off, Starbreeze told investors in its most recent financial releases.

“It is with great satisfaction that we also can announce that Payday 3 production is officially initiated and at a full design stage,” CEO Bo Andersson Klint said.

Klint stressed that Starbreeze isn’t setting any timeframe right now and Payday 3 will be in the works for “as much time as we deem needed” and “will be done when it’s done”.

“This is our single most important brand today and the cornerstone of our business and we will treat it accordingly. Updates in the near future might be scares and far between. You simply don’t rush Payday 3,” he emphasised.

Payday 2 has been an enormous success for Starbreeze and its Overkill studio. Continuous content and support from the team has overcome stumbling blocks like hugely unpopular microtransactions and abandoned console ports, enabling a lively community – which obviously coughs up money in huge dripping wads given Starbreeze’s description of the IP as its cornerstone brand.

Starbreeze gave some figures regarding the Payday franchise’s earnings this quarter, but as it wasn’t immediately clear which was GAAP (the one we care about) and which was non-GAAP (useless to us), we’d better not randomly regurgitate them.

We did get an update on the 505 Games situation, though. Since Starbreeze regained the rights early last year 505 Games is not providing any extra funding, but is still taking console revenues as it hasn’t yet received the $5 million it is entitled to.

“We expect 505 to have reached their $5 million recoup in Q1 2017 as we see impressive Payday performance through digital distribution on consoles following the latest update,” Klint added.

Starbreeze receives 100% of all PC revenue on the Payday franchise, and describes this revenue source as “healthy”.

Destiny update containing changes to shotguns and rifles is live – here’s the patch notes

14 Feb

Bungie has released a patch for Destiny, which as previously reported, makes some changes to shotguns and rifles.

destiny

The update to Destiny also adjusts various attacks and counter attacks in the Crucible. You’ll notice some changes to Elimination Gametypes along with Special Ammo in that section.

We’ve posted the notes for hotfix 2.5.0.2 below to save you a bit of clicking.

Destiny Hotfix 2.5.0.2

Crucible

Special Ammo

  • Adjusted Special ammo economy in all gametypes
  • Players start Crucible matches with Special ammo
  • Special ammo is now lost upon death – Sidearms are not affected by this change
  • Special ammo crates now appear every 60 seconds (initial spawn and respawn)
  • Special ammo crates are shared with allies within 75m (down from 100m)
  • Special ammo timing in Mayhem is unchanged

Elimination Gametypes

  • Round time limit has been reduced to 90 seconds (down from 2 minutes)
  • Players only start with Special ammo for Round 1 in Elimination gametypes
  • Special ammo timing is 30s initial, then 45s respawns
  • Special ammo is wiped at the beginning of subsequent rounds

Weapons

Hand Cannons

  • Significantly increased initial accuracy (returns to Launch / Year 1)
  • Reduced base range to 35m from 40m
  • Reduced Aim Assist and Magnetism at longer ranges
  • Reduced minimum damage after falloff from 50% to 33%

Auto Rifles

  • Increased Precision Damage modifier to 1.3x (up from 1.25x)
  • Increased base damage of low rate of fire Auto Rifles by 2.5%
  • Increased in air accuracy

Pulse Rifles

  • Reduced rate of fire for very high rate of fire Pulse Rifles by 7.7%
  • Increased rate of fire for low rate of fire Pulse Rifles by 5.3%
  • Reduced Magazine Size of Clever Dragon and Grasp of Malok by 6
  • Reduced the effect of High Caliber Rounds for Pulse Rifles
  • Increased in air accuracy

Scout Rifles: Increased in air accuracy

Shotguns

  • Shotguns no longer deal precision damage
  • The Chaperone and Universal Remote are unaffected by this change
  • Note: Universal Remote only deals precision damage when ADS
  • Shotguns now have significantly less magnetism when fired from the hip
  • Shotguns now have significantly less in air accuracy
  • Shotguns no longer have a movement penalty
  • Shotguns now deal 20% more damage to combatants
  • Rangefinder on Shotguns now increases ADS time by 25%
  • Reduced Universal Remote’s Magazine Size to 3 from 5
  • Universal Remote now takes longer to reload

Exotics

  • Young Wolf’s Howl – Reduced “Howling Flames” ammo cost from 10 to 5
  • Truth – Reduced Magazine size from 3 to 1

Classes

General

  • Reduced Health of Guardians with Armor values above 10
  • Increased damage of Flux Grenade, Magnetic Grenade and Shoulder Charge to ensure effectiveness across all Armor values
  • Blink now disables your Radar and HUD for a short time after activation

Hunter

  • Throwing Knife now deals Solar Damage on impact Bladedancer’s Quick Draw Perk no longer readies your weapons instantly, but now grants a large increase to weapon handling speed

Hungering Blade

  • Immediately starts Health regen
  • Restores more Health per kill
  • Gives a flat amount of Health/Shield per activation
  • Does not immediately start regenerating Shields

Warlock

  • Viper Totemic on Ophidian Aspect no longer readies your weapon instantly, but now grants a large increase to weapon handling speed
  • Stormcaller’s Thunderstrike melee range reduced to be consistent with other Warlock Subclasses
  • Amplitude will continue to grant small range boost to new base range
  • Landfall now reduces the total time in Stormtrance

Titan – Juggernaut is now disabled after being in the air for a short time and cannot be activated while in mid air

General

  • Outbreak Prime no longer triggers The Corruption Spreads by shooting at Ward of Dawn
  • Shinobu’s Vow no longer adds an additional seeker to Skip Grenades
  • Removed intrinsic Perks Kneepads and Icarus on some Talent grids
  • Fixed an issue where High Caliber Rounds were not functioning properly on Hand Cannons, Scout Rifles, Machine Guns and Sniper Rifles

Hungering Blade changes were also “inadvertently applied to the following Perks –  for more information check this post:

  • Transfusion (Striker Titan)
  • Cauterize (Sunbreaker Titan)
  • Lifesteal (Voidwalker Warlock)
  • Red Death Perk
  • Suros Legacy Perk (Suros Regime)
  • No Backup Plans
  • Ward of Dawn cast
  • The Ram
  • Apotheosis Veil
  • Embrace the Void (Voidwalker Warlock)

Battlefield 1 Winter Update: gas grenade nerf, ribbons, map voting and more rental server features coming tomorrow

13 Feb

Battlefield 1’s Winter Update drops tomorrow. Here’s what’s coming.

Battlefield 1 fans don’t have long to wait for the promised Winter Update: it releases tomorrow, February 14. We don’t have exact times yet but for those of us living in the future and therefore already enjoying the delights of Valentine’s Day, look for the international date line to hit the US before getting too excited.

If you missed the livestream earlier, Westie has all the details on Battlefield 1’s winter update. A quick disclaimer: this video was sponsored by EA, which is why he was able to get it together so quickly – and even show off some of the things we’ll talk about below.

New progression systems for Battlefield 1

Kicking things off with new progression systems, ribbons are coming to Battlefield 1. These ribbons will work just as in past Battlefield games, meaning you earn them automatically as you hit requirements, and can do so as many times as you like. Each is worth 300 XP.

DICE is also adding elite codices. Each is worth 25,000 XP and is unlocked for 500 kills with the matching weapon, starting from after the patch drops. Eight will be added to Battlefield 1 with the Winter Update, but more are expected with every major patch from now on.

Class ranks will increase from ten to 50, and to make the grind more fun, DICE players can now earn class-specific dog tags and class rank icons for their kill cards. Bronze is unlocked at level 20, silver at 30, gold at 40 and platinum at 50, so you should be able to see immediately how experienced a Battlefield 1 player is in the class that just killed you.

DICE said it plans to add more stuff to Battlefield 1’s progression, and is also taking a look at the existing medal system, which isn’t super popular.

Battlefield 1 Winter Update balance changes

The biggest change to Battlefield 1’s balance in the Winter Update is a nerf to gas grenades. Although inventory and buffs have not been changed, the gas durations has been dropped from 22 seconds to 15 seconds. Hopefully this will mean less time in masks.

DICE is also changing Battlefield 1’s suppression mechanic: it won’t come into play at the exact moment someone starts firing on you. Essentially that means you’ll have a very small window to return fire without accuracy penalties if you’re quick enough to take advantage of it.

Cavalry sabre attacks are being nerfed slightly so that Battlefield 1 players should no longer find themselves being killed from outrageous distances. Finally, Elite classes are getting a tidy up: you’ll no longer be able to spawn in with extra grenades, and your health will regenerate at the correct pace.

Battlefield 1 server updates

The patch contains a small number of fixes and improvements to Battlefield 1’s netcode, which have not been detailed as they’re relatively minor.

A map voting system will be added with the patch. It will be available on select official Battlefield 1 servers, and as an option on all rental servers.

Speaking of which, DICE is adding a few features to address some pretty glaring omissions in Battlefield 1’s rental servers program. An in-game kick and ban UI is being added, and server admins will have priority access to their own servers.

Battlefield 1 server admins will also be able to toggle behemoths on and off, and to enable squad leader only spawning for that nostalgic touch.

Overwatch: what can be done to balance the 13 rarely picked heroes?

13 Feb

No one wants to be left on the sidelines.

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“Despite the meta fluctuating since launch, the core lineup has seldom shifted. Although the introduction of Ana has displaced Mercy into the realms of obscurity, there are still 8 Heroes who are rarely chosen competitively.”

Last week I wrote about the delivery of new Heroes to Overwatch. It generated a great deal of discussion, with a relatively even split between those who wanted more, and those who were happy with the current delivery rate. What was evident however was the general consensus that many of the existing Overwatch Heroes not only needed improvements to their kit, but some who have remained “must have” for so long, they may need rebalancing.

Having played Overwatch since it opened its doors, parting with my cash like many millions of others, it has been apparent from day one that certain Heroes were vastly superior to their counterparts. While there have been ups and downs as Blizzard find their feet for balancing, Heroes such as Reindhart, Lucio, Winston, Zarya, Roadhog and Tracer have remained constant. In total, 12 of the existing roster have always done exceptionally well and whether played competitively or casually, they’ve rarely strayed far from player pick lists.

Despite the meta fluctuating since launch, with team compositions often changing (double Winston, Fan the Hammer McCree as a few examples) the core lineup has seldom shifted. Although the introduction of Ana has displaced Mercy into the realms of obscurity, there are still 8 Heroes who are rarely chosen competitively and 5 who have a usage rate above 5 percent, but below 20 percent.

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Knuckling down on the statistics, courtesy of Overbuff, the likes of D.Va, McCree and Pharah are chosen only 16 percent and 15 percent of the time, while Mercy and Reaper are 5 percent and 6 percent respectively. Heroes such as Sombra, Bastion and Junkrat have pick-rates of less than 1 percent.

The fact 13 of 23 Heroes rarely see competitive play is worrying, especially when you consider 8 of those 13 have always been considered poor. Not only that, but relatively new arrivals to the “5 Percent Usage Club” are D.Va and McCree, two Heroes who were hit with the dreaded nerf bat.

While it’s fair to say the meta of Overwatch is in flux right now, especially after the changes to Ana’s Biotic Grenade and the rebalancing of D.Va, it remains highly unlikely to think that those Heroes who were already picked less than 5 percent of the time will suddenly find their fortunes revised. I suspect it will simply see Heroes once considered strong (McCree, Pharah and Reaper) rising ever so slightly instead.

My question then: what can Blizzard do to help those at the bottom?

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I would argue that there is only so much any developer can do to aid a Hero within the constraints of its kit. If a kit is poorly designed or considered lacklustre in relation to its proposed role or the pace of the game itself, tinkering with its numerical values will do little. It may stem short term complaints, but it will eventually stumble in the long term. On that basis, reworking a Hero’s kit might seem an obvious solution to the problem but it’s evident, certainly where Symmetra is concerned, that this isn’t always the case.

Having received a variety of changes to her kit in December, not only has it had little impact on her competitive selection, but she still remains poor. Her static nature of play, the superiority of Ana and Lucio, combined with the shielding of Reinhardt, render her largely redundant.

“A major part of the difficulty Overwatch faces is that when designing and releasing Heroes, Blizzard has attempted to find so many unique roles across its existing roster that kits are diluted as a result.”

She remains redundant not just because of her kit or that of her peers, but because of the role Blizzard have attempted to have her fill. While she is considered Support, her kit could easily be interpreted as defensive, certainly when you factor in her stationary Sentry Turrets, Teleporter and her Photon Barrier. On that basis, it’s also interesting to find that every Hero also suffering a selection crisis are categorized as Defence, with Bastion, Hanzo, Junkrat, Mei, Torbjorn and Widowmaker falling into this area.

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I must stress at this point that I’m fully aware that many players do in fact play these Heroes; I’m certainly guilty. I rarely play anything other than Mei and Junkrat, simply because I enjoy their kits so much. I’m acutely aware however that for general play it’s largely acceptable, but for ranked? Not so much. I feel I’d be doing my team a great disservice and doing more harm than good selecting, say, Hanzo, or Mei, when I could simply choose Soldier 76 or Reinhart.

Unfortunately for Blizzard, adjusting numbers or reworking kits isn’t a guaranteed solution: there’s every potential for it to do more harm than good. Were Torbjorn to have his kit revised within its existing framework we’d be back to square one of players complaining about an AI lead Hero being carried by a turret that happens to do all the lifting. To digress and for what it’s worth, I’ve always felt Torbjorn should have followed the Team Fortress 2 Gunslinger approach.

Is there a solution, besides nerfing the most popular Heroes? I think so.

A major part of the difficulty Overwatch faces is that when designing and releasing Heroes, Blizzard has attempted to find so many unique roles across its existing roster that kits are diluted as a result. For all intents and purposes, Widowmaker and Hanzo could have comfortably had their kits merged while the same could be said for Torbjorn, Symmetra and Bastion. I appreciate this would have resulted in the loss of some wonderful characters, but they could have – arguably – been stronger for it. Those character designs could have then been retooled at a later date.

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Were Torbjorn able to erect a barricade (similar to what Symmetra projects), while offering six small turrets and an “armor” generator, he’d likely be in a much better position. Especially if these abilities were further bolstered by his Molten Core. The exact same could be said for Widowmaker, who could easily absorb Hanzo’s Wall Climbing, Sonic Arrow and Scatter Arrow (the latter two as alternative fire modes on her Widow’s Kiss).

You’re probably thinking at this point: “What you’re suggesting goes completely against your article where you wanted more Heroes, more often!” and while I do believe Overwatch would benefit from more Heroes, not less, Heroes need an identity that suits all areas of the game. Many Heroes have been placed into such niche roles, in a game where the best defence is offence, that they’ve been relegated to the sidelines.

When a Hero is at the design stage, the first question Blizzard should be asking themselves is whether or not that Hero is not only unique, but brings enough to the table to compete against those already in the roster. I’ve no doubt that they do (they’re a brilliant studio) but even on paper, Ana was always going to oust Mercy, whereas Sombra would clearly struggle to wrestle a place from Tracer.

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“The arrival of Doomfist will likely see another tank enter the roster. If it is a tank, he needs to squeeze between the mobility and AOE shielding of Winston, the pure sponge of Reinhardt and the aggression of Roadhog.”

If Overwatch is to rescue its Heroes, a culmination of buffs and reworks is the only answer but one that still, potentially, leaves them undesirable. Barring total reworks (which no Hero has yet received) the easiest solution is to simply ensure a Hero “fits” into the game right from the get-go, across all game modes.

The arrival of Doomfist within the next few weeks (months?) will likely see another tank enter the roster. If it is a tank, he needs to squeeze between the mobility and AOE shielding of Winston, the pure sponge of Reinhardt and the aggression of Roadhog. There’s undoubtedly design space for it and I’m hoping for a kit something not too dissimilar to Gigantic’s Margrave. I’m just hoping he arrives in a better position than Sombra, so we won’t have yet another Hero in need of intervention.

What are your thoughts on the Hero balance of Overwatch? Does it bother you that some aren’t seen as competitively viable? Do you think some defence Heroes are too niche? Do you find balance largely irrelevant as long as a Hero is fun? Let us know.

“Fucking bananas”: Wolfenstein dev’s new game either over the top or some sort of fruit love sim

13 Feb

Wolfenstein developer MachineGames is working on something that probably isn’t about getting your favourite protein shake ingredient into bed.

May 21st, 2014 @ 23:45:55

Bethesda boss Pete Hines has made a comment on the new project in the works at MachineGames, developer of Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

“MachineGames has been hard at work on something, which I can tell you I have played,” Hines said during the Kinda Funny Gamescast, as transcribed by Gamespot.

“It is fucking bananas. And I can’t wait to show what it actually is.”

Whatever it “actually” is, we confess a moment’s disappointment that it’s not about having sex with fruit. That’s un under-leveraged niche, probably.

Levity aside, Bethesda is generally pretty locked down PR-wise, so Hines commenting now probably means we’ll hear something about the new project in the near-ish future – possibly at E3 2017, after Prey releases in May and the publisher is ready to ramp up its next big thing.

Although Bethesda tends to take it one thing at a time these days, we have been expecting a Wolfenstein reveal thanks to a an E3 2016 tease.

Shown just before the Quake Champions E3 2016 trailer, the tease showed a C:/ file directory with a bunch of filenames related to games in iD Software franchises. Of particular note were three entries in a row – New_Order, Old_Blood and New_Colossus. The release dates for Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood were shown next to their respective entries, while New_Colossus was the only filename with an empty release date field.

So this copulating foodstuff game may well be Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. Both previous MachineGames Wolfenstein releases were well-received and contained content you might describe as pretty intense, even if The Old Blood did go under the radar a little bit.

It could also be something entirely new from the Swedish team, but as Gamespot noted, “The New Colossus” is the title of a sonnet recited by Wolfenstein protag BJ Blazkowicz in The New Order – and also famously partially inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

Overwatch – more Doomfist hints have popped up on the PTR

11 Feb

With the latest Overwatch patch up on the PTR, those testing upcoming changes to the game have found what looks to be additional teases for Doomfist.

While the rumors and hints surrounding Doomfist have yet to reach Sombra proportions, the buzz around the possible inclusion of the character in Overwatch is gaining steam. Thanks, Terry Crews.

In the video above, Arekkz goes over the various Doomfist hints found by players on the PTR, the main reference being a new model of the Numbani Payload depicted by a wire mech file. Here, the glass on the payload containing Doomfist’s gauntlet is broken, as we previously reported.

Along with the file, the menu music in the PTR has also been changed to Doomfist’s theme, which was first heard in the original Overwatch cinematic, and the Hero Gallery UI has changed slightly as if to make space for another Hero card.

So, do all signs point to Doomfist coming to the game, or a Doomfist event of sorts? If an event, maybe the goal is to find out who stole the gauntlet. Or he’s indeed the next hero. We can only speculate at this point.

The Year of the Rooster event ends next week, so it’s unlikely new content will be added so soon. But, as Arekkz notes, with PAX East coming up in March, it’s possible we will hear more then or at least get a cinematic. Maybe. You know how things work with Blizzard.

Anyway, give the video a watch.

The Battlefield 1 February update is coming next week

11 Feb

The winter update for Battlefield 1 will be released next week, according to DICE.

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While the notice didn’t include information on what was contained in it, due to being a tweet and all, it’s expected the update will contain content currently available on the Battlefield 1 Community Test Environment.

DICE confirmed back in January  it was working on a new update for February. It’s said the update won’t include new content, just changes and improvements.

Invites to the Battlefield 1 CTE went out at the end of January, providing testers with early access to forthcoming balance changes, fixes, new features, etc. before being released to the general public.

Participants are likely testing  the They Shall Not Pass DLC as well, which comes with a new Elite Class, tank, a new stationary weapon, the Frontlines game mode and more. It’s out in March.

Once DICE provides a release date and more information on the February update, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Destiny 2: Activision call clues point to PC release, focus on “great cinematic story” sounds promising

10 Feb

Destiny 2: everything Activision let slip talking to investors overnight.

Destiny 2 is on track for late 2017, Activision re-confirmed in its financial briefings overnight.

But that’s not all Activision had to say about Bungie’s next big thing, and since you might not want to sift through a full financial report just to get the sweet Destiny 2 details you’re after, here’s Arekkz to the rescue.

To summarise the details, a “full Destiny sequel” is coming in 2017 to “broaden the franchise’s global reach”. There are “followup content plans”, of course, and although that’s not surprising, Destiny’s notorious content droughts are something Activision wants investors to know it is aiming not to repeat.

The other interesting thing from this statement is the global appeal bit. From other comments in Activision’s investor briefing it’s clear the publisher is targeting markets like Russia and China, where Overwatch has been hugely popular – but if you’re taking a game over to those markets and expecting it to go back, you virtually have to come out on PC. This matches up with earlier rumours that Destiny 2 is coming out on PC.

Activision also said that Destiny 2 will please fans of the original while providing an easy entry point for new players – and being accessible to more casual players.

The bit that may really interest detractors of the original Destiuny is that Activision said a focus for the sequel is to ensure destiny 2 has a “great cinematic story” with a memorable cast of characters.

Destiny rapper returns with a tongue-twisting rundown of every single Exotic armour piece

10 Feb

Destiny is all about dress-ups – don’t kid yourself – so let’s celebrate the best costumes in Bungie’s closet.

Destiny rapper Duba has put together a loving tribute to the shared-worlds shooter’s enormous array of Exotic armour – helmets, gauntlets, boots and all.

From Titan gauntlets ACD/0 Feedback Fence to the Warlock helmet Astrocyte Verse, the rap runs through the entire collection, showing off each piece in turn. A huge stack of Destiny players make appearances in this video; our good pal Arekkz is in there somewhere, almost certainly as one of the Hunters.

This is a sequel to the Destiny Exotic weapons rap from June 2016 – before Rise of Iron arrived to add a few new boomsticks to the arsenal.

Everyone’s feeling the Destiny love today, what with glorious rumours floating around and Activision reiterating its 2017 Destiny 2 release plans.

There’s a lot to criticise in Destiny (although it has improved a great deal as time went on, and I always loved it anyway) but the breadth and variety of its weird and wonderful weapon and armour names is something I sure hope Bungie retains for the sequel. I don’t think I’ll care if Bungie throws the whole lot out the window for Destiny 2; it just means there’ll be a new stack of Exotics to collect.

Rainbow Six Siege’s cheap but grindy $15 PC Starter Edition is back, for good this time

9 Feb

Rainbow Six Siege welcomes those short on cash but rich with time.

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The Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition is back, although this time it is exclusive to Uplay and won’t be withdrawn from sale after a brief visit.

The $15 package offers a cheap way into Rainbow Six Siege, a frequently updated and lively scene it’s definitely worth checking out – but it’s worthwhile noting how this version differs from the one with the standard price tag.

Although Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition allows access to all content and has no level restrictions, it puts the brakes on collecting Operators via the in-game currency, Renown. Each of the original batch of Operators goes for 12,500 Renown – a serious increase on the 500 to 2,000 Renown paid by those who own the full game. It’ll cost you an additional $35 to buy them all if you can’t be bothered grinding.

You do get two Operators to start with, randomly chosen from a newb-friendly pool of Rook, Sledge, Ash, Fuze, Mute and Smoke, and enough credits to purchase two more Operators or whatever other in-game content you please. Also, post-launch Operators cost the same for everyone, regardless of whether they’re playing Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition or a full-priced version.

Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition debuted in June 2016 for a limited time, and popped back up again briefly in September; it has never been made available on consoles. It’s become permanent right as Rainbow Six Siege Year 2 kicks off with Operation Velvet Shell.

Destiny 2 rumour: November 2017 release window, Bungie made a new engine from the ground up

9 Feb

Destiny 2 rumours have been swirling around for months. Here’s another one to throw on the pile.

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A sequel for Destiny has been confirmed and we know a few details about it already.

Guardians will be apparently be fighting the Cabal in the Tower, there will be a steady stream of content, and as well a bit of a reboot we might even see the game come to PC.

Considering the amount of information floating about in the ether already, it’s best to take the latest rumour with a pinch of salt, as it builds on what we already know, and may just be a fanciful load of old todgers.

Popping up over on Reddit, a user claims to have a source at Bungie “within the Administrative ranks”.

According to Inside_Leaks, Destiny 2: Forge of hope is going to be the sequel’s title, although considering how the names of the expansions usually work, that seems to be an odd choice, but if they’re giving the series an overhaul, it’s not entirely out of the question.

The story details are in line with what we’ve heard so far, so again, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to flesh out the info.

“The sequel will heavily focus on chronological events set after the Fall 2015 Expansion The Taken King. The cabal forces attack the city leaving the civilians and mentors of the tower defenseless. It is the guardians job to fight back the cabal and reclaim the city.

“While doing so the guardian will discover the long lost stories of Queen Mara Sov and The Exo Strangers motives. The story will culminate with the tower and city fighting back the Cabal empire resulting the guardian defeating the leader of the Cabal in the new Raid.”

The tipster echoes the plans for a regular content schedule, saying, “Bungie is planning to release a substantial content updates for each quarter (Similar to the April Update).

“Bungie already have a small team working on the first major expansion to be released in Fall 2018. Details are limited but it is aimed to be centred around the Vex and the Origins of Kabr and Praydeth.”

They continue, “Bungie is scheduling for an event release every 1-2 months centering around a theme similar to Overwatch while also delivering new narrative paths and new game play mechanics.”

They also state that the overhaul will scrub any existing Destiny characters, but that the “upside to this is the new release will have a more customization character creation including facial hair and class themed face paint and tattoos.”

We even get a launch date cited, so we’ve progressed from a pinch of salt to a whole bucket load.

Destiny 2: Forge of Hope is supposedly slated for a Q4 2017 release with a window of November 4 – 18 if the OP is to be believed.

And finally, the game will be available on PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox Scorpio, and PC, with three editions to choose from.

The basic edition will have a pre-order bonus of some kind, the second one will have the pre-order bonus as well as an in-game cosmetic, and the third will have the pre-order bonus, in-game cosmetic and a “1:2 Scale of the Exo Strangers Relic of Necessity”.

That’s a big old dump of info. Some of these points have been covered previously, so again, stay skeptical.

Does any of this sound legitimate to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.