E3 2015 – Hellblade

Hellblade is the newest game from Ninja Theory, sponsored by Wellcome Trust, announced last year at Gamescom. Ninja Theory gave several more details about Hellblade for E3 this year, preparing for the games release in 2016. Hellblade is a heavily stylized action game, based in “ninja-style” melee and Celtic lore. The story takes the main character, Senua, to the underworld of her mind. The game is heavily focused on the psychology of Senua, who suffers from anxiety and hallucinations. Beyond typical tropes with mental health, Ninja Theory has worked closely with neuroscientist Dr. Paul Fletcher to ensure a level of realism, in addition to several people who experience real mental health issues.  Dr. Fletcher hopes that the game, and perhaps video games in general can better portray mental illness to the general population, to reduce stigma and increase awareness.

The story goes that Senua, a Celtic warrior, was a part of a Viking war (based on a true historical war) which left her with psychotic hallucinations and severe depression and anxiety. Senua travels through her own mental illness to “defeat” it, and free herself from her fear and trauma. Because of the dream-like setting, Hellblade uses a very unique and haunting art style, which is featured prominently in their advertisement. The atmosphere spreads to the enemies also, consisting mostly of demons, many taken directly from Celtic legend. In the game, these demons seem to be the manifestation of Senua’s fears and hallucinations. The focus on the mental extends beyond the story, it would appear, even into design elements, as the blog discusses how artists working on the game were inspired by the neural way we understand color, shapes, and art.

Hellblade does not have a quarter release date yet, but we know it will be released for Playstation 4 and PC sometime in 2016. Ninja Theory said in an interview they’re hoping the PC release would be able to support mods and 4K resolution. Unlike other Ninja Theory games, Hellblade is fully independent, and will be self-published by Ninja Theory. This is with the help of Wellcome Trust, a global charity organization dedicated to improving health by promoting education.

E3 2015 – No Time to Explain

The popular indie platformer No Time to Explain is coming to Xbox One, tinyBuild announced at E3 this year. No Time to Explain began as a flash game on Kongregate. After the game became quite popular, the creators made a Kickstarter to fund an extended version, which was released on Steam, where it is available for purchase. Recently the developers announced they would be rebuilding the game on the Unity engine, and implementing several new features. In addition to the Steam rebuild, tinyBuild will also be releasing the newly remastered version on the Xbox One. No Time to Explain is a comedy platformer in which you must save your future self by traversing several different time lines, altering the reality around you. Rather than jumping through the platforms, you use a missile which launches you, allow you to hover and maneuver through more dangerous landscapes.

Reviews for the Steam version have been mixed, despite considerably popularity on YouTube, largely due to technical issues. The developers hope the remastered version will alleviate those problems and make the game more enjoyable for players, stating “tinyBuild built up enough internal development capacity to do a proper release of the game”. No Time to Explain was the company’s first game ever made when it was released on Kongregate.

The remastered title on Xbox One will allow local multiplayer for up to four players. Both the Steam and Xbox versions will feature a redesigned soundtrack, upgraded graphics, redesigned boss fights, and of course, technical upgrades to the game and level designer. Players who already own the current version on Steam will get the remastered version for free. The remastered No Time to Explain will be released on Steam and Xbox on July 17. The developers have also said in their Kickstarter that they plan to make versions for iOS, Playstation Vita, and Playstation 3.

E3 2015 – Dead Effect 2 coming to iOS and Android

The sequel to the critically acclaimed Sci-Fi game, Dead Effect, is getting a sequel and it is coming to iOS and Android called simply Dead Effect 2. Dead Effect was released on iOS, Android and Steam by developers BadFly Interactive in late 2013 for mobile and early 2014 for PC and has since then sold over 8 million copies. Dead Effect 2 is planing to be released early September this year.

Dead Effect 2 is going to be a direct sequel to the previous game and  pick up at the ESS Meridian where there is still trouble to be dealt with. You need to grab your guns and face to hordes of monsters to figure out who is the mastermind in this operation to control your mind. This game is also being released specifically for use of the recently announced 4K TV-Shield console with X1 chip so that you can play this mobile game in as high a quality as you can.

Some big features that BadFly has said we can look forward to is fantastic graphic, an exciting and clever story, three playable characters, large variety of enemies and bosses, plenty of upgrades and over 40 unique types of upgradeable weapons. If you want to check out more info about this game then you can head over to the Dead Effect 2 website.

Are you excited for the sequel to Dead Effect? Were you a fan of the original game? Are you excited to see mobile games in use these kinds of NVIDIA accessories?

E3 2015 – Ratchet & Clank

Insomniac is bringing back an old classic with their remake of Ratchet & Clank (2016), announced at E3 this year. Ratchet & Clank first appeared on the Playstation 2 over a decade ago, spawning several sequels. The last game, Into the Nexus was released on the Playstaion 3, making this Ratchet & Clank the first for the new console generation. The upcoming title is not a sequel, but rather is based on the upcoming film to be released about the same time, of the same name. Both the game and the film have been delayed once, originally to be released in 2015. At this E3, Insomniac said the game would more likely come out next Spring 2016.

While the game is stated as a re-imagining of the first, it will feature elements and mechanics from several of the games in the Ratchet & Clank series, and cinematics taken directly from the film. Ratchet & Clank will feature familiar characters such as Captain Qwark as well as a variety of new characters made specifically for the film. As well as implementing mechanics from the former games, Insomniac promises all new gameplay experiences. Fans who pre-order will also get access to an exclusive weapon called “The Bouncer”, originally from Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. The animated film on which the game is based will be released around the same time will feature the same voice actors of Ratchet in the games, James Arnold Taylor, and an all-star cast including Sylvestor Stallone and Rosario Dawson.

Of course, the new Ratchet & Clank will also have completely updated graphics, taking full advantage of the Playstation 4’s hardware. Some have taken to comparing the upcoming title to its earliest roots, with the original Ratchet & Clank, as a testament to the graphical advancement games and consoles have made.

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Ratchet & Clank will be released April 29, 2016, alongside the film, on Playstation 4.

E3 2015 – Dungeon Defenders II Coming to the Playstation 4

Dungeon Defenders II, the sequel to the popular co-op tower defense title Dungeon Defenders, will be coming to the Playstation 4.

Dungeon Defenders II will be brought to the console through a collaboration between Trendy Entertainment, the developer behind Dungeon Defenders, and Human Head Studios. Human Head Studios has worked on titles such as the Rune series, Prey, and the Wii U version of Batman: Arkham Origins.

According to the press release, Human Head Studios will be working closely with Trendy Entertainment’s internal development team to “bring their vision to life on the PS4.”

Dungeon Defenders II is an action-based tower defense game with heavy RPG elements, where players must work as a team to defend a castle treasury from invading forces. Players will be able to select one of four classes, gain experience for taking out enemies, and set up defenses to slow down, or downright kill, as many bad guys as possible in a given round.

Players are an active participant in the battle, using special abilities and collected weapons to take down enemies.  The sequel to the game will showcase new areas, abilities, and challenges, as well as new loot to collect and enemies to fight.

Dungeon Defenders II was playable at E3 this year, although most of the game is still in pre-alpha stage for the console. Trendy Entertainment has also announced that closed beta testing on the game will begin later this year for Playstation 4 players.

Prior to the PS4 announcement, the game was already available on early access on Steam, and will fully launch as a free-to-play title later this year on both the PC and the Playstation 4.

 

So are you looking forward to more Dungeon Defenders? Are you glad it is coming to the Playstation 4? Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

Everything wrong with Batman: Arkham Knight PC port

In yet another case of a PC port not getting all of the attention it requires, players are left wanting more out of Batman: Arkham Knight. While the game only released today gamers have been plagued with frame rate issues, frame rate caps and some even missing DLC. Batman: Arkham Knight is the last game in the popular Arkham series of Batman games and features the return of Rocksteady Games as the company developing it.

In case you want to stay up to date on all of the news there is currently a NeoGAF post running where people can list all of the issues that they are having with the launch of Batman: Arkham Knight. The game also currently has a mostly negative steam review currently with 1720 negative reviews received against the 760 positive, it’s also worth noting that you can only make a review for a steam game after you have purchased it. This is the first case of a AAA PC port having this many issues since the introduction of Steam refunds, through this only applies to those who purchased the game via Steam.

  • The first issue was one that fans were made aware of even before the release of the game when a new patch came out with a worrying message for those planning to play the game on AMD graphics cards. As also stated in the earlier post both nVidia and AMD have released updated drivers specifically to ensure that the running of Batman: Arkham Knight will go as… smoothly as possible.
  • A lot of PC gamers are still reporting that whether they play the game in 30 FPS or 60 FPS they are still getting plenty of instances where the frame rate is dropping dramatically, users are reporting particular problems when driving the batmobile.
  • It hasn’t taken fans long but the hard lock on the 30 FPS, surprising as the benchmark has no max FPS, that the game has shipped with has also had a work around implemented so if you want to be able to play Arkham Knight in 60 FPS you are required to go into the games installation folder and follow the path Batman Arkham Knight\BmGame\ Config\BmSystemSettings.ini and search for the setting that reads “MaxFPS=30″ and simply change that 30 into a 60, or whatever other number you would like your max frame rate set to.
  • Some users have also had issues where when checking the game cache causes the entire game to redownload, even one case where the game deleted itself entirely.
  • Denuvo DRM is apparently also active in the game, this has been known in the pass to hinder performance of games and was present recently in titles like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Lords of the Fallen.
  • Finally some of the specific nVidia game works features such as fog and smoke are causing many frame drops but it seems enhanced rain and hairworks aren’t causing issues.

Moving away from technical aspects, it seems that a PC release like this explains why review codes for this game were being sent out to the press for PlayStation 4 but PC review copies have only been distributed today. It was also changed yesterday that those who were to get free copies of Batman: Arkham Knight because of nVidia card purchases were initially meant to have preorder key 56900 that included the base game, Harley Quinn story and the Gotham’s Future skin packs but had that switched to 71669 which removes the Harley Quinn story pack from that grouping.

On their forum Rocksteady has made the following comment

We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.

TechRaptor has contacted Iron Galaxy Studios, those responsible for the PC port, and Warner Brothers and will update this article when more information has been made known to us.

What do you think of the PC launch of Batman: Arkham Knight? Have you had any of these issues or even more that we’re not aware of? Might this be the first change people get to try out Steams digital return system?

E3 2015 – The Solus Project

Earth is on the brink of destruction but you alone may have the answer.

However, there is one issue. You are stranded, alone on an alien planet as your spaceship has crashed. A merciless world full of danger, hazards and difficulty, you must figure out how to send a signal home for help, and survive the danger.  As you begin to look about, you find while it may have been abandoned, you are not the first to be here. Someone has lived here before, and you can search through what appears to be the remains of the civilizations – tombs, living areas, and more while dealing with the dangers around.

Welcome to The Solus Project a first person science fiction survival game set in the far future and the sequel to The Ball. Developed on Unreal Engine 4 by Teotl Studios along with GRIP Digital it appears to be an absolutely gorgeous game exploiting that engines power if the early trailer is anything to go by. Planning right now for an early 2016 release, it will be coming to PC and Xbox One via ID@Xbox.

Unlike many such survival games, The Solus Project has been in the works for over two years and doesn’t appear to be a game heading to early access – instead one planning on a full launch. They have said there will be ‘unique social features’ allowing people to share experiences with friends and help each others – but it is rather vague. It is possible they are looking at something like a Dark Souls esq message system where hints are left around or you can summon others to aide on parts of the game.

“The Solus Project is a work of love for us. Two independent teams set out to build their dream game, with the goal of building a truly unique experience and with an ambition to match the visuals of AAA games. After more than two years of development, we are now ready to show ‘The Solus Project’ publicly for the first time. We hope that the players will enjoy our atmospheric world full of mystery”, said Jakub Mikyska, CEO of GRIP Digital when speaking on the title.

Perhaps though I should let the games trailer speak for itself, and it is pretty impressive:

What do you think of The Solus Project? Does it interest you? Are you realized to hear a survival title is NOT going into early access? Share your thoughts below!

E3 2015 – Godzilla comes to PS4

The new Godzilla game from Bandai Namco was showcased at E3. Godzilla: The Game will be coming to PS4 in North America July 14, 2015. The latest trailer reveals a full lineup of Toho film creatures from the original 1954 Godzilla to the latest 2014 version called “Hollywood Godzilla”.

Godzilla features everyone’s favorite Kaiju. From Mothra to Mechagodzilla the game has an impressive roster of monsters to play as or to fight against. Play Godzilla in single player on PS3 or with versus mode and online multiplayer on PS4 in addition to single player.

The story of the game has scientists harvesting the endless source of energy known as G-Energy from Godzilla. Then 60 years later the King of the Monsters returns. G-Energy turns out to be a power-up for the monster as well as a way to stop it.

Destroying things in Godzilla will give players G-Energy and destroying the energy generator in each stage will allow you to proceed to the next area. Destroying structures will also build up your Hazard Level. A high Hazard Level will trigger legendary monsters to come out and players must defeat them.

Godzilla features a movie-style camera angle system which will move the camera to pre-set locations on the map during the game to give it a more cinematic feel. For those not interested in a cinematic style this camera mode can be turned off. There is also a diorama mode that allows players to create their own scene to destroy.

Gameplay modes in Godzilla include a classic destruction mode with over 20 stages to rampage through. King of Monsters mode will offer a time trial to challenge players. The PS4 version of the game will include more monsters than on PS3 all of which you can play as in the online multiplayer mode.

E3 2015 – Star Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire

BioWare’s MMO StarWars: The Old Republic is getting another major expansion.

As revealed at this year’s E3, Knights of the Fallen Empire is the next planned expansion to The Old Republic, giving players a more story-driven experience than the previous expansions released for the MMO.

Knights of the Fallen Empire will “introduce a new personal story arc where player choice will shape the journey,” according to the press release. “The expansion puts the player at the center of their own personal saga, playing as the Outlander, a veteran of the Great Galactic War. The player will come face-to-face with a new enemy, the Emperor of the Eternal Empire, only to discover that his dark destiny is tied to their own.”

Since the expansion will allow players to play as a whole new character, more goodies are planned as major features for the new campaign, including new companions to recruit, planets to explore, and a raise in the player level cap to 65. Knights of the Fallen Empire will also include a level 60 character, so players can jump right into the content without grinding it out.

One major change is the release schedule for the content. A digital only expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire will be released episodically, with the first nine chapters ready to go at its launch. Subsequent chapters will be released with the promise of “new challenges, fresh storylines, and an expanding cast of new characters to meet and join – or betray.”

For those who are already enjoying The Old Republic, EA and BioWare are also planning to revamp current story content as well. According to the press release, “The original eight class stories from Star Wars: The Old Republic will be enhanced to deliver a more immersive and engaging single-player story arc for players old and new.” Added to this promise is more end-game content for players at the 60+ level as well.

There is also a new promotion with The Old Republic. From now until October 19th, subscribers will be able to earn collectible rewards for the game, including a new companion, Niko Okkar, Nico’s costume and weapons set, and a Knights of the Old Republic-themed Swoop Bike. Players who collect all four rewards will receive early access to Knights of the Fallen Empire a full week before the expansion launches.

Knights of the Fallen Empire will be released on October 27th, and will be free for subscribers to The Old Republic.

So what do you think, is Knights of the Fallen Empire worth a subscription to The Old Republic? Leave your comments below. 

E3 2015 – All We Know About Rock Band 4

Music games fell on hard times in 2010. What was once a profitable quasi-yearly money tree along the lines of the twitch FPS or sports genres dried up for a number of reasons, among them oversaturation and the still-wan economy of 2009. Both Guitar Hero and Rock Band saw their last major titles. Now, in 2015, both franchises are back to see if the gaming market is ready to sync up plastic tab-strums once again. New features are being named right and left, but the most welcome announcement of Harmonix’s upcoming release, Rock Band 4, might be backward-looking: all previously purchased songs will be compatible, and Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 legacy controllers will also be integrated with the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, respectively (although the Xbox One requires a “low-cost” adapter).

This is a remarkable contrast to the upcoming Guitar Hero Live, which, in part due to a redesign of the guitar peripheral, is not compatible with either previous songs or controllers. Rock Band 4 has chosen to innovate in other areas, instead. An improved user interface promises “seamless” difficulty switch without interrupting the song, as well as creation of multi-song sets. The crown jewel is “Freestyle Mode,” an open-ended mechanic that allows guitar players to create their own solos. Another feature will reward vocalists for improvisations of their own.  Rock Band 4 also promises a co-op campaign mode accomodating up to four players – a complete band – and their customizable in-game avatars.

Rock Band 4 also upgrades the infrastructure of the game. Controllers will be made by Madcatz, and the game’s sound will be generated with Positive Grid’s BIAS software, a digital amp designed to replace familiar tube-based counterparts. While Madcatz has received mixed reviews for some of their offerings in the last few years, Positive Grid’s product has generally enjoyed a warm reception in the real-life rock community. The new controllers will include several durability improvements, an area in which Madcatz has received high marks.

Rock Band 4 will release with a base track list of 60+ songs sampling a number of eras, with artists including Elvis Presley, Scandal, Jack White, and Avenged Sevenfold. Harmonix promises the song database will eventually be over 1500 tracks, presumably including legacy carryovers. Release is set for October 6th on Xbox One and Playstation 4.  There are two bundles available for preorder: the “Guitar Bundle,” which comes with a guitar controller and a copy of the game, and the “Band-in-a-Box Bundle,” which includes the new drum kit and the USB microphone. 

Which would you prefer – backwards compatibility or new controller innovation?