Weekly News Recap – Week of November 3, 2014

Well, it’s officially November, which is usually the busiest month for releases in the year, and we started that off right away this past week. It might not have been the smoothest of launches, especially for me personally, but I think it’ll even out over the next couple weeks. There were a couple other stories worth mentioning this week too, so let’s get going.

Advanced Warfare Cover

CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE LAUNCHES
The big release for this week was the new entry in the venerable franchise, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It’s become a bit of a standard these days for shooters to have a little bumpy launch – and while this wasn’t Battlefield 4 bad, there were a couple issues that cropped up with the launch of Advanced Warfare. The biggest issue I’ve seen deals with people who bought the physical edition of the game – especially on the Xbox One. When installing the game, you’re also prompted to install a Day One patch – but players have found that installing that when prompted will instead hang the entire installation. The disc will spin up, then stop, then spin up again, repeating ad nausea. The work around for the Xbox One seems to be to tell the update you’ll install it later, and then it works fine. While I didn’t encounter that, since I got it digitally, I have had an issue where my digital content for the collectors edition isn’t unlocking on the One. It might have to do with my not playing the 360 edition I originally got yet, but I have seen that I’m not alone. It’s growing pains, and I expect Sledgehammer Games and Activision to deal with them over the next couple weeks.

Star Wars The Force Awakens

STAR WARS EPISODE VII GETS TITLED
While it’s not exactly a gaming news, I do still think it’s a relevant story to gamers. Yesterday, Disney and Star Wars, while announcing that principle photography wrapped on Episode VII, stealthily announced the subtitle for the movie as well. Episode VII will be titled – The Force Awakens. It’s a title that can provoke some thoughts as to what exactly the movie will contain within the story. We’ll just have to see what exactly is on the way.

Ubisoft Logo

UBISOFT PULLS GAMES FROM STEAM, GAMERS SCRATCH HEADS
One of the stranger stories this week came thanks to the folks at Ubisoft. In a decision that had many scratching their heads, Ubisoft pulled the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4 off of Steam, instead requiring PC players to get the games from their own UPlay system. They’ve been trying to make UPlay work for years now, and it really hasn’t caught on, perhaps primarily because it’s just not too user friendly. This is also coming on the heels of the announced system requirements for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which were beyond high end. It almost is as if Ubisoft is alienating the PC market, and banking on Consoles for this season. I can guarantee that’s not the case, but it really does feel like it.

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What Makes a Limited Edition Worth Getting?

Every year when we get to the fall release window, and the developers flood the market with awesome games, I always go through the same song and dance. Of the games I plan on grabbing, which ones do I want to upgrade to the special editions/limited editions/collectors editions. Publishers keep coming with different names for them, but the basic premise is always the same – charge more money for a version of the game with a couple extra stuff to go along with it. What always strikes me is the variety of items that publishers put in the collections. Some editions are no-brainers, others make me scratch my head a little bit. So today I want to take a quick look at what I think really makes a limited edition worth picking over the regular edition.

Destiny Ghost Edition

First thing – I still think that even in this day and age, a special edition should be a physical copy. As an industry we’ve really started the push toward digital distribution across the board. I might be a little old-school about this, but to me, the actual physical media and packaging is just as important to the overall experience. To that effect, I think that the limited editions should spruce up the actual casing too. I have always been a sucker for a nice looking steelbook case for my games. Beyond that, the more physical extras that publishers include with the packaging, the more likely I am to think of getting it. My favorite physical stuff I’ve gotten came from the Fallout: New Vegas and BioShock: Infinite limited editions – Fallout came with a really cool deck of cards and poker chips from each of the in game casinos; BioShock came with a nice print of the Devil’s Touch Vigor, and a awesome key chain of the Murder of Crows Vigor. But ultimately, little physical things like this don’t really sell me on the limited edition.

Advanced Warfare Pro Edition

The most important part of any limited edition is what digital content comes with the game. This is where the actual kind of game can dictate what they pair with the game. In general, I think the most important addition, regardless of style of game, is the Season Pass. Most games’ life spans these days tends to be at least a year with DLC, so adding in a Season Pass to ensure that the players get access to the DLC as soon as it comes out, and it’s included in the initial purchase price. Usually I find that the price increase is pretty much in line with adding in the Season Pass price to the game. I think that’s fine, since when that’s the case, the extra physical stuff is just that – extra. Often times, developers also include extra digital stuff as well, most often it’s cosmetic items, but as a player that enjoys customization, I’m totally fine with it.

Assassin's Creed Unity Limited Edition

So with that in mind, I was looking at the special editions for this fall – Destiny has two tiers, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare does as well and Assassin’s Creed: Unity only has the one collectors edition. Both Destiny editions have the same content – a smattering of nice cosmetic physical bonuses, plus a steelbook case and the Season Pass – but the higher level comes with a physical model of the in game Ghost. The problem with the difference to me is that the Ghost is apparently worth $50 extra. I don’t mind big physical models like that, but it always depends on the prices they assign them – Skyrim and Halo: Reach both had that problem for me. Awesome looking statues, but really expensive on top the normal price. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare comes with the typical CoD fare – in game digital cosmetic content, along with a bonus multiplayer map. That’s the basic $80 version – what annoys me this year is that to get the Season Pass, which is a big selling point for Call of Duty, you would need to go for the $120 version. Normally I’m fine with a $40 boost for a Season Pass – that’s probably pretty much what it would cost separate; but in this case, that’s a $40 boost from a special edition that already comes with bonus stuff that I don’t know is worth the initial $20 upgrade from the regular edition. Assassin’s Creed: Unity only is releasing one version – a $130 limited edition with a real strong physical collection of gear, plus two extra missions. Since it’s a primarily campaign driven game, there really isn’t quite as much need for a Season Pass, so I think I probably would go for it, were I caught up on the series.

Weekly Gaming Roundup for the Week of August 4, 2014

I’m going to start a new thing here at Infinite Lives, where on Friday, I’ll recap the major news from the gaming world for the week. Nothing ground breaking, but I didn’t get my degree in journalism to just write features every day.

Evolve Cover

EVOLVE DELAYED
On Tuesday we learned that the upcoming asymmetrical shooter from the team that gave us Left 4 Dead, Evolve would be delayed until February 10, 2015. Take-Two games announced the delay in a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying they want to give Evolve the time to be polished up to perfection. Publisher 2K games has a track record with somewhat out of the box games – publishing the Borderlands series as well; giving the team behind Evolve even more time to tweak and hone everything to perfection seems to point to their belief that Evolve can become a major market player. Evolve had a great showing at E3 this year, unveiling the new Kraken monster type as well as winning numerous “Best of Show” awards. Evolve‘s delay follows two other Triple A title delays – Battlefield: Hardline was delayed until 2015 as well, and Dragon Age: Inquisition was delayed until November.

Destiny

DESTINY PRE-ORDERS BEING CANCELLED
More bad news this week, this time related to Destiny, Bungie’s upcoming shooter/rpg/mmo hybrid. Turns out Walmart and Best Buy accepted too many pre-orders for the Ghost and Limited Editions of the game, and as a result have started to cancel people’s pre-orders. Bungie said from the day they announced the special editions that they intended for them to truly be limited, and it appears that they weren’t kidding. Best Buy is at least handling it in a pretty stand up manner, offering a $50 store credit promotion while suggesting the Digital Guardian Edition or Standard edition instead. With the release of Destiny only a month away, I wonder just how many more emails will be sent out, or if retailers did it all in one fell swoop.

Assassin's Creed Rogue

ASSASSIN’S CREED ROGUE ANNOUNCED
Switching gears toward news that isn’t about something being cancelled or delayed, instead we have the opposite – a new game being confirmed. There were rumors of a last-gen Assassin’s Creed game in development to pair with the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but nothing concrete had been seen until this week. Assassin’s Creed Rogue will be coming out on the Xbox 360 and PS3 on November 11, 2014. ACR features a different playable character – putting players in the shoes of a Templar, Shay, a former Assassin turned rogue and now tasked with hunting down other Assassins. Rogue will feature the naval gameplay that was in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and will be set during the Seven Years’ War, filling the gap between Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed III.

Those were the three biggest news stories I thought for this week. It was a relatively slow week, but I think that’s mainly in preparation for Gamescom coming up in Germany next week. Teasers are already out for games that will be at the show, so I expect a bunch of new info to drop about this fall’s strong lineup.

E3 2014 – Post-Show Best Of Thoughts

Now that we’ve had a full week to really digest what we saw at E3 2014, I want to pick a few games that I think really were the standouts from the show this year. I won’t be quite as direct as some of the more official channels with having “Best of Show” awards, but still – there were plenty of games that I think deserve a little bit more talk.

Evolve Cover

With that said, I do think that over the course of the whole week, Evolve managed to set itself apart as being the “Best in Show” this year. 2K brought a new trailer that revealed a brand new Monster type – the Kraken. Beyond that they also had a large booth that had a playable demo, with all impressions coming out of it seeming to feel that the game was as fun as the trailers would have you believe. I think just based around the strength of this showing, on top of the early trailers and info from the beginning of the year, Evolve has probably the most hype going into the fall of the next-gen new IP’s.

Sunset Overdrive is another game that had some good momentum going into the show that had to have a strong show to really ramp up the hype train going into the final months before release. Luckily, if any developer knows how to show the spirit and tone of their games – it’s Insomniac. They arrived to the show in style, and had a nice new trailer to show at the Xbox conference, with a pretty important role, being an Xbox One Exclusive after all. All that doesn’t mean much if the actual gameplay doesn’t measure up, but all accounts seem to indicate that the game is as fun as it looks from the trailers.

No game really took me by surprise and totally got me excited for it as No Man’s Sky did during the PlayStation conference. While I think it’s still a PS4 exclusive, that game did more to make me want to get a PS4 than any other major Sony release. The procedural generation of a persistent universe, where every new thing is randomly created really struck me as the kind of game that could be a one with a really long, unique lifespan, much like Minecraft. If it stays a PS4 console exclusive, I think there’s a real argument to be made for picking one up for it alone.

Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield: Hardline had a really unique position coming in to the show since it had leaked a few weeks before the show. This really put the pressure on EA to deliver a strong demo and “reveal” to really get the buzz going for the game. Showing a pretty long reveal trailer with nothing but gameplay was definitely a great first step, but the fact it was playable on the show floor, as well as announcing the PS4/PC beta that started that day really did the job. As we’ve learned a little bit more about the details of the actual gameplay, I think that Hardline has done a good enough job setting itself apart from the usual Battlefield fare.

Two more that I think really set themselves apart were Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity, from Ubisoft. Now, ACU had some disparaging feelings toward the end of the show, about the “difficulties” that would result from adding in a female assassin, but I still think that the game had a really strong showing, looking really good all in all. Far Cry 4 may have been the Ubisoft game that stole their lineup. Between the ability to have PS4 players that don’t have the game still able to join in, plus the actual gameplay and setting looking quite strong, I think this might be one of the bigger hits for the fall/holiday.

Borderlands PreSequel

The last game that I think really had a strong show is Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Coming in on a really good trailer that nailed the Borderlands tone and style, as well as a longer trailer that showed off the Pax East footage with developer commentary; 2K and Gearbox really had the right circumstances to have a strong showing. Having the game playable, while not having a trailer at either event really focused the tone directly to the game itself. I think that because this is a 360 game, it might have slid under the radar a little bit, but will end up being a big player this fall.

Beyond those games, I think there were a few other great games that were showed, but may have missed that one thing to put them over the top. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is one – I think having a playable build at the show would have helped a lot, but the hype is definitely high with this one. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare I think was just too much of the same for this year’s show – gamers I think are starting to drift away from the CoD formula, but the only way to know for sure is waiting to see the final results. Arkham Knight and Mortal Kombat X both had great trailers showing really good gameplay, but are so far out that we just have too long a wait. Finally, I think that Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain looked great, but didn’t have gameplay to show, plus I’m just so far out of the MGS loop that the trailer ultimately was just eye candy for me.

E3 2014 – Ubisoft Press Conference Impressions

E3 LogoThe final press press conference from this years show that I’m going to run through actually took place Monday evening. Ubisoft was coming into this year’s show on a high note with the success of Watch Dogs, and a strong line-up for the rest of this year into next year. Now I did miss about 10 or so minutes towards the beginning of the show, so I’ll toss that disclaimer out there, but aside from that, let’s run through the show.

Far Cry 4
Opening the show was a trailer showing off what appeared to be the beginning of the game, detailing the game’s main villain. I’m assuming that this was a cutscene from the actual game, but we’ll just have to wait to see.

The Division

Tom Clancy’s The Division
After my quick break, I came back in time to catch the end of what looked like a pretty downer of a Division trailer. It looked more like a CG trailer than gameplay to me, but with the new-gen consoles it’s sometimes tough to tell. Looking back at all the conferences now, I think the better showing of this game was during the Xbox conference, which showed off some actual gameplay, but we still have plenty of time to see all kinds of new footage until the game launches next year.

The Crew
Ubisoft’s answer to the upcoming Forza Horizon 2, The Crew is another large scale racing game, featuring two different coast-to-coast races in the U.S.A. The other cool thing I thought was that the game doesn’t have any loading while you’re driving those races. The other nice thing is that Ubisoft is launching a beta on July 23, in advance of the game’s November 11 release.

Assassins Creed Unity

Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Showing off what has probably become Ubisoft’s most popular franchise, we got a new trailer for the latest Assassin’s Creed title. The trailer was set on Bastille Day, further illustrating the French Revolution setting. Following that trailer we got another gameplay demo, set after the actual Revolution, during the Reign of Terror. The gameplay looks very much like the Assassin’s Creed we have come to expect, set in what Ubisoft is calling a “Systemic Open World.” We’ll be able to explore the French Revolution on October 28.

Shape Up
Next up, we got a stage demo of the upcoming Kinect fitness game, Shape Up. Overall it looked like a standard fitness game, just with a lighter tone and more “gamification” of the actual workouts applied. It’ll be out on the Xbox One this November.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War
We got a really change in tone after that though, in the form of a trailer for Valiant Hearts: The Great War. The actual game looks like a puzzle-platformer set during the First World War, but damn was the trailer a major downer, which I guess with a game set during such a heavy time in history isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We can judge for ourselves later this month, since the game is out on the 25th.

Rainbow Six: Siege
The show ended with a look at the return of the venerable Rainbow Six franchise, a series close to a lot of gamers’ hearts. Showing off what looked to be 5V5 gameplay of a SWAT team breaking into a home to rescue a hostage being held by terrorists, the game looked super smooth and beautiful. Walls and doors were essentially paper, allowing players to shoot through them with no issues. We learned after the show that Rainbow Six: Siege is the result of what used to be Rainbow Six: Patriots, which was cancelled and rebranded. I have a feeling that this will end up being a big player next year, with a strong showing at next year’s E3, but that’s a long ways off right now.

All in all, what I was able to see of the Ubisoft show looked promising – I think Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed: Unity and The Crew all look very good in their own ways, while 2015 should also be a solid year for Ubi with the two Tom Clancy games.

With that, we have gone through each press conference from this year’s E3, talked about a whole slew of games coming out this year and next, and I think we can go into the second half of this year fully hyped and ready for some really awesome games. Next week I’ll try to pick out a few “Best of Show” winners, and also talk a little bit more about some of the games I’m really hyped for now.