Weekly News Recap – Week of October 12, 2015

The busy season has been running pretty hard so far – with Destiny, Battlefront Beta, Rainbow Six Beta all getting some serious playtime. That said, we’re about to really hit the crazy time with five major releases in the next month coming out, along with others too. So news has been a bit on the backburner for me, as I would rather focus on writing about the games I’m playing. That said, I did see a couple headlines recently that I think are worth talking about.

Mass Effect

EA GAMES – NO HD REMAKES SOON
I saw this one earlier today, and I’m torn on it. EA has doubled down on their comments from E3 about HD remakes. Don’t be expecting to see an HD Mass Effect collection anytime soon, or any other last-gen EA classics. Now that we’re deeper into the current-gen of consoles, I’m starting to move away from wanting HD remakes to fill out my library. So in that regard I’m glad to see EA focusing on making new games. That said though, there are a couple games that I would really have liked to see get the sprucing up – Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Dead Space all jump to mind. We’ll have to see if they relent in the future, but for now, don’t expect anything like that.

Halo 5 Guardians

HALO 5 ROLLS OUT FOR STREAMERS AND PRESS
This week we started to see just how Microsoft plans on launching Halo 5: Guardians. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks a lot like a soft launch style event – Twitch streamers got the game, along with members of the press and community members. I also saw today that the launch event will be held online, as they see more and more players moving to digital releases. Again, I’m kinda torn here – in general, if there’s a game that I really like and want to support totally, I buy it physically. I know that makes no sense, but it’s just how I’ve kinda grown with gaming. We’ll see how it works out on the 27th.

Fallout 4 Box Art

FALLOUT 4 CONTINUES TO RAMP THE HYPE TO MAX LEVELS
Over the last month or so, Bethesda has been releasing a whole bunch of videos for Fallout 4. Each one has detailed just what each of the seven S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats actually entail in game, done in the style of old PSA safety videos. It fits so perfectly with the style of the game, and they act as perfect ways for new players to get some info on the game; and at the same time, series veterans have some great videos to dig through for details. This week they also put out the Live-Action trailer – not quite the same level trailer as say the Destiny Live-Action ones, but still really cool to see. It’s got both the humor of Fallout, while still showing off some action. Plus it’s got Dion’s “The Wanderer” as the soundtrack, so I’m all in on that. November 11 can’t get here quick enough.

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Weekly News Recap – Week of August 31, 2015

Well it’s finally here, the new releases have started to come our way. September has just barely begun and we already have two big titles out, in the first week. New launches usually means a few headlines worth talking about, and this week is no different. Let’s go over a couple.

Metal Gear Solid 5

METAL GEAR SOLID V – MICROTRANSACTIONS AND SERVER ISSUES
Probably the biggest new game that launched this week, Konami’s hugely successful tactical espionage thriller Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has had an interesting first week. While the reviews for the game have been super strong, and it seems like the public opinion is right in line with them, I have seen a bit about the microtransactions that are present in the game’s Forward Operating Base mode. From what I’ve read, it looks like the FOB mode pretty much requires you to spend actual money on in-game currency to succeed. The other issue that I’ve seen this week is the servers for the game have been spotty. It’s been playable, but there have been some online issues, which honestly seems like it’s pretty much standard for launches these days.

Mad Max

MAD MAX – POST APOCALYPTIC OPEN WORLD FUN
The other big game that launched this week is the licensed Mad Max game. While it’s not a direct tie-in with the movie from earlier this year, it’s clearly designed to take advantage of the success of the movie. I spent some time this week checking out some streamers playing it, and I have to say, while the game looks good, it also looks very much like a game with a high chance for burnout.  The map looks pretty damn big, and there seems like a lot of collectible type activities in the game. It’s the kind of game where I think you have to play this and this alone to really get everything out of it, and this fall is just too busy to me to do that. It still looks cool, but I just think there are so many games this fall that you really need to pick and choose your games carefully.

The Taken King Logo

DESTINY 2.0 PATCH INFO
In this week’s Bungie Weekly Update we finally got a few more concrete details about the upcoming 2.0 patch for Destiny. We already knew that the patch would be coming on the 8th of September, but now we know a little more about what is actually going to be in the patch. The changes to the character level are taking place on Tuesday, meaning that Light will be separated from Level, as well as the weapon balance. The Questification is taking place as well, along with the extra bounty space. The kiosks will also be installed, meaning that those emblems and shaders you’ve been wondering how to get will be right there to see. The other really big part pertains to the bounties. Any uncompleted Year One bounty will be lost – so make sure they’re finished up or you lose the XP. Eris Morn is losing her bounties as well, probably because she will be a big player in The Taken King. The House of Wolves targets are also disappearing, so make sure you’ve gotten all their Grimoire cards before Tuesday. But the biggest bounty news relates to those Exotic bounties. Any Exotic bounty you have will be automatically completed on Tuesday and you will receive the weapon from the appropriate person. That’s awesome on Bungie’s part. People who have been stuck at the Void kills for Thorn no longer need worry, you’ll get a Thorn very soon. It’s a good way to make sure that those Year One Exotics are put right into the kiosks immediately.

Weekly News Recap – Week of August 24, 2015

As we get closer and closer to the craziness that is the fall release window, we’re starting to see a bit more news drop. From details about the 2.0 patch for Destiny, to a major game being pushed back to next year, it’s very clearly the busy season.

The Taken King Logo

DESTINY WEEKLY UPDATE DETAILS MORE CHANGES COMING
Bungie has really been giving us the details on the upcoming second year for Destiny over the last couple weeks. Last week we learned all about the coming economy changes headed to the tower. This week it was a bit more mixed in its focus. On the stream we got to see the new Subclasses in a lot more detail – and the first real glimpse at them in PvE; as well as a good look at how the new strikes will look. In the Bungie Weekly Update we got a few more specific details to changes that I don’t think many of us saw coming. The Weekly Nightfall Strikes are getting a pretty serious looking over. They won’t grant a flat XP bonus anymore – Bungie saw that as dictating players time too much, meaning that they felt players thought they absolutely needed to play the Nightfall ASAP to really benefit. The other major part of Nightfalls being adjusted is that unique modifier – Nightfall – that made them the most difficult strikes in the game. Wiping will no longer boot your fireteam back to orbit, but that’s about all we know for sure. I hope to see that it’s still a full reset – bringing you back to the start of the strike, just without the menu downtime. Finally, we also learned when we can expect the 2.0 patch to land, really signalling the start of Year Two. The patch will be out on September 8, a week before The Taken King.

LawBreakers

NEW GAME FROM BOSS KEY STUDIOS UNVEILED
This week also saw the announcement of the first game from Boss Key Studios, the new development studio founded by Cliffy B – LawBreakers. Cliff has a track record of fantastic action games – Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, and Gears of War all bear his fingerprints. LawBreakers looks very interesting so far. It’s pretty rare to see arena shooters these days, but that’s very much what this looks like. Character driven mechanics should help breathe some life into the arena shooter formula, along with the really cool movement mechanics. Over the last two years or so, I’ve really started paying a lot more attention to the way that shooters address movement – and it does look like the cover-based shooters are pretty much gone for now.

X-COM 2 PUSHED BACK TO NEXT YEAR
Coming this week was also the news of the second major game being delayed this fall. Last week we saw Rainbow Six: Siege get pushed back to December, which Ubisoft has done well in lately. Today, X-COM 2 was pushed back into early 2016. They’re saying February now, which wouldn’t shock me – as a month that has gotten a few big games the last couple years. Seeing games get delayed is always a bittersweet thing – it always sucks because you have to wait longer, but you have to keep in mind that it’s for the best. This lets developers put more time and effort into polishing up the game to make them as best as possible. With X-COM 2, the delay could really help it – it was going to have to compete with probably the biggest RPG in years in Fallout 4 if it launched in the fall. Now Fallout will have about 4 months all to its own, and should let X-COM stand on its own. That’s why the push to December may help Rainbow Six out too – it’s not directly competing with Halo, Destiny, Battlefront and Call of Duty now. Instead it’s a Christmas launch – which really could help.

Weekly News Recap – Week of August 3, 2015

It’s been a pretty busy week of news thanks to Gamescom taking place over in Cologne, Germany. In addition to a big press conference from Microsoft showing off Crackdown 3 for the first time; Game Informer unveiled their cover story for the September issue, giving us our first real look at details for The Taken King.

Crackdown 3

CRACKDOWN RETURNS, ID@XBOX SHINES, AND 360 GAMES GALORE
During the Microsoft press event, they showed off the first look at the return of the Crackdown series. The game is still really early in development, but looks really good this early on. The original game turned out to be a pretty fun surprise – I, like a lot people, bought it for the Halo 3 beta. While the beta wasn’t live, it turned out to be a pretty fun game, if maybe a little simple. Microsoft has also been really pushing their indie studios to the forefront over the last year or so – that trend continues going into the fall. One of their big showcase games – Beyond Eyes – just came out this week as part of the Summer Showcase. The other big bit of news was some more details on backwards compatibility for the Xbox One. It’s already available for Preview Program members, but will be expanded through the fall.

The Taken King Logo

DESTINY YEAR TWO LOOKS LIKE IT SHOULD START STRONG
The Game Informer article detailing the first look at The Taken King – the new expansion for Destiny – really shows what I think should make Destiny fans happy. From what we’ve seen and heard from Bungie, they’re really taking the feedback from the community to heart. Just about every facet of the game is being looked at and updated and retouched. Quests are being restructured to tie together particular story threads; weapons and armor are being completely retooled – including adding the largest amount of gear so far; and Factions and Reputation is being streamlined. We should start seeing more variety in player equipment – both armor and weapons, as we move away from Year One gear. They’re also adding in a whole slew of new bounties. Classes will have their own bounties now; the Crucible is getting an overhaul on the bounty structure; and Factions will have specific bounties to earn specific gear. No more grinding reputation packages to try and earn that one shader or ship. Hell, even weapons will have bounties through the Gunsmith. All of that takes a lot of the RNG out of the grinding and puts more control into the players’ hands.

Black Ops 3

CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III eSPORTS REVEAL
This week was also the big Black Ops III reveal, showing off the new eSports rules. Treyarch is really shaking up the ruleset this year, putting a huge amount of control into the players’ hands. No more waiting for the leagues to dictate the rules, players will be able to ban or protect items before each game now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see certain items that are permanently banned, but for now, it looks a lot like a MOBA style system. Whether or not that system takes off for custom online games remains to be seen, but I honestly think it’s a good step forward for the series.

Weekly News Recap: Week of July 27, 2015

Sunset Overdrive Xbox Bundle

The news cycle continues through the summer, regardless of whether or not there’s any new games coming out. This week has been pretty standard fair – but then that makes sense because next week is Gamescom, the European E3. There’s definitely going to be a few big bits next week – the MLG reveal for Black Ops III (I’m assuming that will basically be the multiplayer detals), The Taken King details galore, and a bunch of Microsoft exclusives including Crackdown.

This week’s news really hit with the start of the Summer Spotlight on Xbox Live. I talked about it yesterday, so I’ll just reiterate that you should check out the games as part of it. You never know what you might find.

In other news, Smite got a pretty sizable update, and Call of Duty has been celebrating “Hammer Week” with double XP and rewards. So it’s been a pretty standard week of news, but pay attention next week – it’s going to be a busy week for sure at Gamescom.

Weekly News Recap: Week of July 20, 2015 – Fallout 4 Quakecon Edition

This weekend is the annual celebration of all things Quake at id software’s Quakecon. Things have expanded over the years, as id has been picked up by Bethesda, and as a result, this year we were expecting a few new details to emerge about this fall’s Fallout 4. And we got a pretty solid start to the news across the Bethesda board early on.

Doom 2016

DOOM ALPHA DETAILS EMERGE
Kicking off the Quakecon news flood, we finally got some details about the upcoming alpha for next year’s DOOM. Players who pre-ordered Wolfenstein: The New Order will either be emailed codes for the upcoming Alpha, or if they had it digitally, they’re already all set. The Alpha doesn’t have a solid date yet, but I would expect it to come out this fall/winter.

Fallout Anthology

FALLOUT ANTHOLOGY COULD BE THE BEST DEAL EVER
Yesterday Bethesda announced what could be the best deal I’ve seen in a long time. PC players will be blessed with the upcoming Fallout Anthology – containing Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout: Tactics, Fallout 3 AND Fallout: New Vegas. And those last two are the complete editions with all the DLC. All of those games, available in a pretty cool collectible Mini-Nuke case – for $45. Forty-Five Dollars – that’s less than any single modern game. Sure, it’s PC exclusive, and sure the games are almost 20 years old – but the timing is perfect and the first few games are hard to come by. Now, it is a true limited edition – so go pre-order it now if you want it.

Fallout 4 Box Art

FALLOUT 4 DETAILS COME FROM EXCLUSIVE DEMO
The big talking point today though was the exclusive, closed door demo of Fallout 4. There’s no plan as of now to release the gameplay footage, so only the attendees will have gotten to see it in action, but the media that was there did live-blog it, along with some quick posts after the show. From the looks of things, the content focused on showing off new companions – confirming four of the “about a dozen” options (Mr. Handy, Dogmeat, Piper and Preston); along with showing off more combat. But the more interesting things, at least to me, were things that Todd Howard talked about before the demo. They hit on the S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats – including showing a quick video talking all about Strength – a video that is the first in a series that they’ll be releasing to the public. After that perks finally got some press – which has been something I’ve been curious about since E3. They’re going with the Fallout 3 style, where you pick a perk at each level-up, and it looks like they’re going to be tied more to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats. There’s still a ton of stuff in the mechanics that I really am curious about, but for now this is good enough to tide me over.

Weekly News Recap – Week of July 13, 2015: Destiny 2.0 Edition

DestinyLittle different take on the Weekly News Recap here this week. We’re smack dab in the middle of the summer, which tends to be a slow time for news. This week we had the sad news of Iwata-San’s passing, and some news about Star Citizen‘s Kickstarter issues. But yesterday Bungie put out two new updates through the Destiny app/website – one the Weekly Update they always do, the other detailed a whole lot of changes coming for the weapons with the 2.0 Patch. There’s a lot to parse through with that so I want to talk about that today.

Shadow Price Destiny

The big focus in Destiny the last few months has been the current state of the Crucible weapon meta. Exotic Hand Cannons have reigned supreme more or less since December, while every other primary weapon type lagged a bit behind – especially the Auto Rifles. What we learned last night is that not only will those Hand Cannons be brought back more in line, but every weapon class available is getting some attention. Auto Rifles should be much more viable now – as long as you use them in their proper range, thanks to the change to damage drop-off. Pulse Rifles are getting a little tweak, mainly with the medium rate of fire archetype guns, dropping their base damage down a little. The big thing with Pulse Rifles is that in order to two or three burst, every shot needs to be a headshot now – which should reduce their quick kills, but generally keep them more stable. Scout Rifles are already in a pretty good spot – their generally the best long-range option now, and Bungie is reinforcing that role by reducing their close range effectiveness. Hand Cannons seem to be getting the most noticeable changes – the damage drop-off is being brought in to reduce effective range, pacing shots will be much more required for consistent precision shots, and their ammo is being reduced across the board. I think across the different primaries, this is the patch we’ve been asking for for months now. Weapons that have been behaving in ways they shouldn’t will hopefully be brought in line, and others that were left behind should be made viable again. That, in theory, should increase the amount of variety in the Crucible, which should help keep playing the PvP fun.

Destiny Felwinters Lie

Special weapons have been a sticking point lately as well – anyone who’s spent time in the Crucible knows all too well how strong long range, high impact shotguns are now, never mind when Blink is added to the mix. It’s been compounded by the fact that there are multiple longer range shotguns available now, and they can all be reforged to a perfect mix of perks. So to address that, they’re taking those perks that people look for – Shot Package and Rangefinder – and reducing their impact, along with some damage reduction, mainly for PvE. The Fusion Rifles have seen a lot less use, mainly because of the shotgun strength. So with 2.0, it looks like their making the changes based around archetypes – the long range Fusion Rifles are getting accuracy nerfs, while the close ranges get a slight boost. That should help put the Fusion Rifles back into their role as mid-range specials, especially with the shotgun nerf. Snipers have been more or less where they should be – long-range killers. However, the Final Round perk has been a pretty serious issue – it allows for one-shot body hit kills with a high impact sniper rifle. So to address that, Final Round will only impact precision damage now – which should already be a killshot, so really it’s only going to matter in PvE. The special weapon changes are again, more or less right what we needed. Shotguns didn’t need a flat range nerf, instead it was the perks that needed adjustment. Fusion Rifles needed something to help solidify their role to help counter shotguns. And Final Round was a serious issue that has been addressed.

Finally, we get to the heavy weapons. The only thing their even looking at here is Rocket Launchers – in particular it’s a blanket blast radius upgrade. However, much like Final Round, there’s a perk on Rocket Launchers that’s been a bit of an issue – Grenades and Horseshoes. In PvP it makes using Rockets almost a guaranteed kill thanks to the big radius for the perk to activate. So their reducing the range for the perk to trigger, which really should help keep it from being insane in PvP, but could end up being rough in PvE. That said, the changes here are good – it’s rare to see Machine Guns in PvP thanks to the ease of using Rockets right now, especially with reforging allowing any launcher to have Grenades and Horseshoes.

Normally, that would be enough for a weapon update. But that’s not all here – Bungie also addressed some particular Exotic weapons. it’s no secret that Thorn and The Last Word have been all but ubiquitous these days, for different reasons. Neither gun really fits into their intended design though, and so Bungie is looking at them. But we’ll start with two Exotic Auto-Rifles: Hard Light and Nechrochasm. Neither are particularly powerful now – their both the bullet-hose variety, which was hit hardest in February. Hard Light is getting some good attention – it’s getting a huge buff to stability, the bounce count for shots is increased and the gun will not have any damage fall-off. That’s a pretty substantial update, and combined with the Auto-Rifle buff, could make it a fun gun to use again. Necrochasm has its own share of issues – rarity combined with low effectiveness. So it’s also getting a stability buff, along with extra magazine and making that Cursebringer explosion more reliable and damaging.

Destiny Thorn

The two Hand Cannons though are really what we’re looking for. The Last Word, as Bungie said, is the fastest killing primary in the game, thanks to it’s insane Time to Kill. However, their intention was to keep it a close range monster; but thanks to a few little quirks, it’s been way more consistent at range. So they’re adjusting that appropriately – range is decreased, stability as well, especially while aiming down sights. On the flip side, the hip-fire bonuses are increased, pushing it into that role it was intended – and by fixing the bugs that triggered the extra damage while ADS helps it. And then there’s Thorn. Oh boy. Plenty has been said about the gun – here and just about everywhere else that talks Destiny. Through the Hand Cannon changes, the range shouldn’t be near where it was in the past. That leaves the Damage over Time to be tweaked – which they’re doing. Reducing it by about 1/3 of where it was, and lets it stack multiple times – it’s a good PvE tweak, and really shouldn’t make too much of an impact in PvP. Hawkmoon – the PS4 exclusive Hand Cannon – is getting some changes to reduce the chances for one-shots. Reducing the chances for the bonus damage perks to trigger should help keep it fair.

That’s when we get to the surprises. So far, every thing we’ve seen was more or less expected and desired. Bungie however is really making some changes to guns we didn’t expect. First up, Ice Breaker – in my opinion, the most important PvE weapon in the game. They aren’t really changing what makes it special, just reducing the effectiveness a little by slowing the ammo regen. It may sting a little, but I think it’s a fair move. No Land Beyond has basically been a joke weapon since it was added to the game. They’ve made a number of changes to help make it more effective – quicker handling, sight changes and changes to The Master perk. I still don’t see it being a particularly great gun, but could be slightly better. Black Hammer – a legendary Crota’s End sniper – is getting some tweaks to its White Nail perk. I don’t know a whole lot about this one, mainly because I don’t have the gun yet. Lord of Wolves, one of the new House of Wolves exotics is seeing a boost to the recovery perk it provides. And finally, the White Whale of exotics for most of us, Gjallarhorn is seeing a bit of a nerf – the Wolfpack rounds damage is being reduced. I’ve seen a lot of people crying about this one – here’s the thing: I really don’t think it’s going to be that huge a difference. It’s still probably going to be far and away the most efficient Rocket Launcher available, just doing a little less damage.

There’s a whole lot to sift through here, and it’s really hard to know just how much this will matter because we still don’t have a timeframe. In the past these major updates have come a few weeks before the actual DLC launches, so I would guess that we’ll see 2.0 sometime in August. Whether these changes will matter that much after The Taken King starts Year 2 remains to be seen, and I seriously doubt Bungie will say anything on that matter – if it won’t, saying that kills the player incentive to keep playing until then.