Single-player sucks, but our first four-person party in Sea of Thieves goes pretty okay

by: Randy - - 0 Comments

We set sail on a Sea of Thieves last night. There was myself, Kinsey Danzis, Dan Keener, and John Yan. I’m the husky fella without a coat because the other three yoinked the only pirate jackets onboard. Kinsey is the red-haired lass with the undercut fade and neck tattoo. Dan’s got a bandana and looks Most Likely to Star in a WWE Special. John is Old Man Winter, though you won’t see his face because he was the guy filming last night’s session.

These are all things that happened on our maiden voyage.

  • Kinsey immediately teaches Dan and John how to imprison a fellow shipmate: Me. I spend my first 10 minutes of the game wrongly imprisoned in the brig on the bottom deck. I toss buckets of storm water at them from inside the jail while they draw their swords and take swings at me through the bars.

  • “Sails! We’ve got sails!” I yell from the crow’s nest. “Dan, turn! They’re kind of right ahead of us!” I mean for Dan to turn the ship starboard (right). But since I don’t say which way to turn, Dan takes a guess and turns to port (left). Now we’re almost on top of the other ship. John and Kinsey man the cannons. “Do not fire! Hold your fire! Dan, hard to starboard, now! Now!” “Hold your horses,” Dan says. “It’s a ship, not a Ferrari.”

  • We turn, our broadsides coming within one or two ship lengths of the other pirate. For several quiet, tense moments, nobody fires. We each go on about our business. I spend 30 minutes in the Gaming Nexus Slack channel later that night after logging off, explaining how noble and “in control of the situation” we were for just intentionally passing by that ship rather than firing on them. In Slack, I omit the fact that we only got that close on accident, and that I ordered us to hold our fire because I was just as scared of them as they were of us.

  • Our first time pulling back into port, we come in hot, since Dan likes to aim the ship a little too close to his destination, and John is not so good with lowering the sails. (Notice how I do not come into the picture here.) We slowly drive the ship up and onto the pier. Then we back up off the pier. That is the prelude to the video you see above. Just moments into the video, you can hear a rushing water sound, and Kinsey quietly saying in the background, “We’re taking on water. Rapidly.”

  • Whenever disaster strikes, John like to say, “It’s fine.” He’s a walking talking This Is Fine meme, if you replace flames with ocean water.

  • Kinsey steps out on the bowsprit, the long, pointy part at the front of the ship. “Kinsey, careful, you’ll fall off,” I say, forgetting that the quickest way to get Kinsey to do something is to tell her she can’t. That's the only thing predictable about her behavior. So, she turns around, looks at me, then starts backing up further and further along the bowsprit. I turn away. Next thing I hear is Kinsey saying, “Oh. I’m overboard.”

  • “I hear you can get drunk in this game,” John says. “Yep, I’m gonna get some mead.” Kinsey follows him. They fill up their mugs and start chugging. “We’ve got water on the deck,” Dan says. “We’ve got water on the deck? Well I’m drinking,” John says. He's drunk almost immediately. Out of his control, his character wobbles side to side. He drinks more. “Why is everything wavy? I am so wavy,” he says. From the helm, I watch John and Kinsey sway back and forth on deck. John pukes on Kinsey. Kinsey falls down the stairs. Unable to get back up topside, Kinsey says, “I don’t know who’s fault it is, but someone messed up the lower deck.” John grabs his bucket and heads below. There are piles of Kinsey's green puke everywhere.

  • We were basically on a pacifist run, which probably made us jumpy when we did hear cannon fire. One time it was thunder. Another time it was Dan firing off a round at the pier we were parked at. And another time, I watched everyone load themselves into cannons and shoot themselves off toward a nearby island (yes, you can do that), and it still made me flinch.

  • But, ending things quietly, John and Dan logged off for the night while Kinsey and I played a somber tune on our sea shanty instruments. The sun slowly sat behind a nearby island we were anchored offshore of, and the waves gently rocked the boat left to right. Kinsey emoted as I sifted through the menus trying to figure out how to wave goodbye.

Being in a crew of four affords you a lot of luxuries in Sea of Thieves. Other pirates tend to leave you alone. At least the one or two other small sloops we spotted.We were the only galleon for miles around, which, presumably, made the other players keep their distance when they could. Both Kinsey and Dan, on separate occasions, tried out the single-player side of things earlier. It went horribly for both of them. Kinsey was relentlessly chased and repeatedly sunk by bigger ships for about 30 minutes before she gave up and logged off. Dan was spawncamped on a hub island, having his ship blown out of the water and getting sniped, all while he was just trying to learn how to pull out his saber. He logged out with a bad taste in his mouth, too.

But, again, that all changes when you're in a bigger ship with a full complement of mateys. It's early days for Sea of Thieves, but developer Rare appears to be naive of typical online player behaviors. The fact that there's not a single safe zone across the entire map, not to mention a minute's worth of tutorial to help you get your sword out, many players will simply sign up for a 14-day free trial of the Xbox Game Pass, then let that run out as they never log into Sea of Thieves again—due to the poor new-player experience.

I know that Rare has something special here. I know that Rare wants to keep players around for as long as possible, too. But it's going to take some deft maneuvering in uncompromising seas if they want anything resembling player retention. Otherwise, there will be a good time for all if you're in a three- or four-person crew, while the single-player game turns Sea of Thieves into a cesspool of grief.

Survive Evolvedly on Nintendo Switch (ARK: Survival Evolved is coming to Nintendo Switch)

by: Nicholas - - 0 Comments

Announced at GDC 2018 during Epic Games' "State of Unreal" speech, ARK: Survival Evolved is coming to Nintendo Switch for digital and retail release in Fall 2018. 

The Switch release will include all of the features in the base game, so you can now ride your T-Rex on the go, for real. 

Here's Epic Games' "State of Unreal" speech. ARK gets its showcase around fifty-seven minutes in. 

ARK: Survival Evolved launches for Nintendo Switch in Fall 2018. 

The Summerset Isle is coming to Elder Scrolls Online

by: Nicholas - - 0 Comments

Accompanied by a teaser trailer, which you can watch below, Bethesda has announced The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset, out June 5th, 2018. While plot details are light, the overview states that Queen Ayrenn has opened Summerset to foreigners, but that a Daedric threat looms over the island. Players will subsequently uncover a conspiracy "that threatens all of Tamriel". 

  • The features and challenges, are as follows:
  • A game area larger than Vvardenfell from ESO: Morrowind
  • A conclusion to the Daedric Saga that started in ESO: Orsinium
  • Skill line based on the Psijiic Order, a mysterious group that have been mentioned, but never exactly detailed, in previous Elder Scrolls games. Skills include new combat, and even the ability to control time
  • Jewelry Crafting: So you can run those magic jewels, that enhance you and stuff
  • New PvE Challenges for Groups: New Delves and Bosses, and now featuring the Cloudrest, a 12-player Trial, and also Abyssal Geisers. 

New players can start Summerset right away, without having to have played previous expansions. Veteran players can play the game with their original character, or create a new one. 

A FREE PLAY WEEK starts today for PS4 and PC, and tomorrow for Xbox One. It lasts till March 27th. 

And of course, there are pre-order bonuses. Like the fire-cat at the end of the trailer. Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset releases June 5th, 2018. 


CD Projekt RED launches a new division to assist with Cyberpunk 2077 development

by: Nicholas - - 0 Comments

CD Projekt RED announced today the establishment of a new division in Wroclaw, Poland, aptly named CD Projekt RED Wroclaw

The studio, which currently consists of eighteen industry veterans from a Wroclaw-based developer, Strange New Things, is located in one of the "most technologically advanced cities in Poland", President and Joint CEO Adam Kicinski of CD Projekt RED Capital Group is quoted as saying. 

Strange New Things, whose website you can visit here, was established in 2017, and is made up of developers who have worked on various AAA games, including Hitman (2016), Dying LightThe Witcher Series, and others. My favorite aspect about their site is a secretive tab called Project (      ). If you click on it, you'll see a generic plot synopsis, only with a few details scrubbed out. Whatever their Project was, it seems it'll now turn into helping CD Projekt RED develop Cyberpunk 2077

Pawel Zawodny, head of Wroclaw, had this to say: "We're pretty hyped to be on the spearhead of this new office. We know Wroclaw inside and out and it's an amazing place to make games. The team is strong, and I'm sure we have both the experience and creative firepower to make Cyberpunk 2077 an even better game". 

Let's hope for the best. Cyberpunk 2077 does not currently have a release date. 

Check out this new trailer for the Persona 3 and 5 dancing games

by: Nathan - - 0 Comments

Atlus has released a new trailer for Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night showing off all of the characters, stages, costumes and of course, the music which sounds amazing. We also get a glimpse of the VR mode where you can explore the rooms of the characters in the game. 

No word yet on when the Western version of the game will be released. Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night launches on May 24th 2018 in Japan. 

Makers of Oxenfree are going to hell for the Afterparty

by: Randy - - 0 Comments

Afterparty is the second console game from Night School Studio, makers of the excellent Oxenfree [GN score 9 out of 10]. It looks so good. This teaser shows lifetime pals, Milo and Lola, freshly deceased, getting flown down to hell on the wings of some minion of Satan. You're looking at an eternity of eternal damnation—unless...

...Unless you can drink the Devil under the table. That somehow gets you out of your doomed status. 

So Afterparty has got the fantastic, almost Gorillaz-like illustrations of Oxenfree, which also carries forward the naturalistic dialogue choices that slide smoothly into the point-and-click adventure gameplay, coupled with great young-adult-fiction voice acting. In the video, you're taking the newly dead duo into a drinking establishment called the Schoolyard Strangler. The place is hopping with lots of other demons and humans. You order from a menu of drinks with names like Bloody Stool, Famous Last Words, and Dead Orphan. Satan, the Lord of the Flies, is featured on a poster advertising "the eight hundred millionth hellcoming dance," with a wry grin on his face and a drink in his hands. This must be a hint at the final boss stage where you'll hopefully have the alcohol tolerance to finagle your way out of your endless sentence in the underworld.

Oh, and bystander demons—who refer to you as a "skin puppet"—will be live tweeting your janky moves on the dance floor at the Inferno House, as you make your way through crowds of other hell dwellers grabbing your butt, while you deliberate from one bad idea to the next, trying not to throw up. At least you still get reception in the vast wasteland below, with Milo and Lola texting each other with messages ripe for Damn You Auto Correct!

The Afterparty begins in 2019. Nothing is baked yet, but hopefully, like Oxenfree, it'll appear on any and all platforms, from your PlayStation to your Pixel phone.

I play Plants vs. Zombies Heroes more than any other game

by: Eric - - 0 Comments

Friends, I have a seemingly incurable habit. At least four days a week, I go eat lunch by myself. I order some chicken and vegetables, sit down in a booth, and play Plants vs. Zombies Heroes for at least a half hour. If my work schedule is light, I have been known to stay and play for 45 minutes. On days that I go to the gym, I play while I circle the track. This has been going on for at least a year.

Plants vs. Zombies Heroes is a free-to-play collectable card game, similar to Hearthstone, but much lighter in tone and quicker to play. Though the game is bright and charming, there is still plenty of deep strategic fun to be had. There are also tons of quality of life features. Matchmaking is fast and easy. The UI is clean and fun, and players are not constantly bothered to buy stuff. Most importantly, the game will construct a decent deck for you out of your existing cards. There are plenty of premade decks players can collect towards, but the game will dynamically fill in the blanks with other cards in your collection if you don’t feel like poring over the options.

I have never spent a dime on PVZH, relying instead on winning matches to deliver a steady stream of gems (or whatever they are) to my account. Seasons in the game last a month, and I typically earn enough each season to buy between ten and twenty new card packs. Most of my purchases don’t matter though, as I have settled on a deck that I am comfortable with, using it with success about 70% of the time.

There’s a ton of free single player content in PVZH that can be used by new players to learn the game. Each hero (players can play as either plants or zombies) has a run of quests that players can use to build a basic deck. Playing through this stuff also gives you a better understanding of possible strategies your opponent might use.

If you are in a Hearthstone rut, or you are interested in checking out a CCD that players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy, Plants vs. Zombies Heroes might be worth a look. Just beware. Lunch habits have been known to form.

Will Wright's next game is made up of your own memories

by: Randy - - 0 Comments

Will Wright, creator of The Sims and SimCity, is making his next game. It will be mobile, and it involves harvesting your memories. Yes, your personal memories. It's called Proxi. According to the website, "In Proxi, memories are the building blocks of the world. They're represented by piecing together 3D models to create different environments." In the video, Wright says:

Now, this is, in some sense, a game of self-discovery. A game where we actually uncover the hidden you, your subconscious, your inner id, and bring it to the surface, bring it to life, so that you can interact with it. You can play with it. You can learn from it. And it can learn about you. We do this, primarily, by pulling out memories from your past; those unique things that happened in your life that make you who you are.

To get there, Will Wright is looking for one special 3D game artist to craft these procedurally generated (?) memory-digging scenes. It's a contest, so if you're the right artist for the job, apply for the Proxi Art Challenge here.

I'm only speculating, but to harvest your memories, Proxi will likely require access to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al, in order to build these playable dioramas. Which could prove interesting. If you've posted only about the good things in life, then Proxi will have to reflect that. But if you're like my Facebook friends? Wow, your Proxi could be drawing up scenes of divorce, loneliness, alcoholism, and Russian bot Trump memes. I, for one, am not interested at all in Proxi recreating my high school talent show failure where I played the wrong side of Tha Dogg Pound's "Let's Play House" instrumental tape and I jumped off stage and ran out of the lunchroom. 

Ugh. Good thing social media didn't exist in the '90s. There's no record online of that all happening. Unless Proxi is going to google up my name and find this particular news post and craft a diorama from that. I'm deleting this post.

Then again, perhaps it won't be so prying. Perhaps you'll just type in a few key words and, like a Scribblenauts battle, it'll gin up those words in a 3D scene. Maybe I'll type in "fishing trawler," "dad," and "projectile vomiting" to create one memory from my past. Or "Navy," "guided missile cruiser," and "it's September 11, 2001, and this commercial airliner is not responding to our hails" for another. Wow. Sorry about that. Memory banks store scary stuff sometimes. Maybe I should just stick with things like "newborn baby girl," "sleeping on my chest," "Skyrim on the 360." There, that's undoubtedly real, but less hardcore real, maybe.

No official word when Wright will launch this episode of Black Mirror, but he's picking a winner from his art challenge on or around May 14. Proxi is going to be quiet, contemplative, and utterly wild. This is some next-level stuff, which is the only way Will Wright does things.

Ataribox officially renamed the Atari VCS

by: Sean Colleli - - 0 Comments

Well, this is a thing. The suspicious mysterious Ataribox, Atari's ostensible revival of their past glories during the 70s and 80s, has been renamed the Atari VCS. Long-minded gamers will recall that VCS was the original name for the Atari 2600, and stood for Video Computer System. The new console will support both classic controllers based on the original CX40 Joystick, as well as a more modern gamepad that looks a lot like an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch Pro controller. Both controllers are apparently wireless. The freshly minted Atari VCS will go on pre-order in April...which you might remember was supposed to happen way back in December. If you're a member of the press you'll be able to get a closer look at the VCS at GDC later this month.

I'm still extremely skeptical of the Ataribox project. They're throwing around a lot of words like "legendary," "iconic," and "retro," which usually means very little substance and a lot of shameless nostalgia pandering. I want to know what this thing can do and why it will apparently cost around $300. Playing the entire 2600, 5200, 7800 and 800 series computer game libraries at a budget would be a good start--remember, most of these games are over 30 years old. Atari will have to cover the vast library of their classics at the bare minimum to make this thing an attractive purchase.

Beyond that, what else can it play? Why is it priced to compete with the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch? Why pay the same amount as I would for modern day hardware? What's under the VCS hood? If it's another glorified Android box like the Ouya, I'd rather just plunk down for a PS4 and emulate dusty old Atari games on a Raspberry Pi, which I can do for pennies on the dollar. They might also end up competing with themselves and the Atari 2600 Flashback plug n' plays they've been cranking out for years.

Atari will have to start showing something of substance about this retro-modern console if they want anyone to take it seriously. Time and time again history has borne out the maxim that It's All About The Games, and any publisher ignores this stubborn fact at their own peril. It's been nearly a year since they announced Ataribox and facts are still very thin on the ground, and most of the people I talk to are just tired of hearing about the thing. Atari has a lot to prove at GDC. It's going to take a lot more than CG renders of faux-wood paneling to sell the VCS, that's for sure.

Titan Quest has finally arrived on consoles. Grab your tunic!

by: Kevin - - 0 Comments

Titan Quest first arrived on PC in 2006 and right away it was a hack-n-slash fix that Diablo 2 fans needed. Set in ancient times, Your quest was to destroy the various Telkines and titans was complemented by the numerous classes and treasures you could use. There were some 36 combinations of characters in both male and female that you can try out and all of them are worth looking into. Now.. all of that is available on consoles!

  • Explore the Ancient World - Unlock arcane mysteries as you journey to legendary locations
  • Conquer Monsters of Legend - Battle mythical beasts in a story-driven campaign that will determine the fate of all existence
  • Highly Customizable Characters - Build and customize your characters with 28 classes and over 1000 pieces of unique and legendary items to create the ultimate champion
  • Online Multiplayer Gameplay - Challenge others to experience the story in fast-action, 2-6 player online cooperative gameplay
  • Console controls & UI – Tailor made UI and controls for a perfect ARPG experience using a gamepad
  • Remastered graphics – Fully reworked textures for an up to date Titan Quest experience

The price is a very reasonable $29.99 for the standard edition and $119.99 for the Collector's Edition (filled with memorabilia and collectables) and is available NOW for PS4, and XBox (coming soon to Switch).

Now where did I put my Nagblade??

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