This pair of roleplaying games are developed by Obsidian Entertainment who have also worked on Star Wars, D&D, and Fallout in the past. Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny will definitely keep you playing for hours during the festive period if CRPGs are your jam.
In the meantime, you can redeem a free copy of all-time indie classic, Cave Story.
Below we've published the full list of Epic free games, complete with their availability dates and review links.
In anticipation of Rune II: Decapitation Edition launching on Steam last month I had the opportunity to virtually sit down with Matt Candler and the team at Studio 369 to play some multiplayer Viking action and chat about the unholy saga that they have faced in turning the game around from its frankly disastrous and cursed initial release on the Epic Games Store last year. If you aren't familiar with the story then you can check out our coverage here and here.
Alongside beating up vicious Draugr with their own detached limbs and avoiding talking about the US election that was taking place at the same time, we had a wide ranging and enjoyable conversation that covered everything from the Liverpool match against Atalanta that evening to the best Shakespeare quotes to accompany the onscreen action. But, mainly, of course, we talked about Rune II: Decapitation Edition.
TSA: Obviously, the whole Zenimax saga sounds like a complete nightmare. What was the sequence of events that saw Studio 369 take over RUNE II?
Matt: After Nov 13 2019 we repeatedly requested the final source code, and they repeatedly refused to return our property. During the first few weeks, we spoke to about six top Unreal Studios about the opportunity to take over RUNE II, the immediate work we wanted to tackle (Bugs, Optimizations, Localisations) and then future plans for the game. Every studio inquired about the status and quality of the codebase and assets.
Unfortunately, because we didn't have source code and raw assets getting a work proposal and agreeing to a statement of work/schedule was impossible, because the scope could not be fully evaluated. Hiring a replacement studio would be very difficult because of this.
However, one of the teams was Symmetric Gaming. We had worked with Dan Nikolaides and Vic Lopez on other projects, and they are very, very good in using the Unreal engine. We started addressing the Core Systems that needed priority attention – Combat, Loot, Enemy Spawns, and we delivered this patch in April and May of 2020 (Lazarus Update).
Studio 369 was incorporated in March 2020 when it became clear that the team was working really well together. We were very effective being a distributed studio, we were having a lot of fun with the game, and we wanted to have a long-term plan for employees (benefits, stock) and the community.
TSA: Could you tell us a little more about the studio? What size is it, what prior experience did you bring onboard?
Matt: Most of the team has worked together on other projects at Phosphor Studios and Paramount Studios and Activision. Most of the team is in Vegas and Chicago, but also in a handful of other locations. Everyone was pretty much working from home offices at the start of the year so there was no impact [from Covid 19] to us whatsoever. We're up to 18 people now and continuing to grow. Our prior experience is Unreal expertise: action, RPG, survival, building/crafting, online multiplayer games and operations, alongside F2P and premium monetisation.
TSA: The initial Epic Store release was a mess, although it has been improved since then; will current owners receive the Decapitation Edition or is this just a Steam release?
Matt: RUNE II: Decapitation Edition will be available on both platforms so the same version of the game will be in every Store. We initially made a custom Armor set for Steam User; but came to our senses and that Armor will be available to everyone who has previously bought the game and for a limited time after Nov 13 2020.
TSA: In some senses, the Epic exclusivity means that this will feel like a brand new release when it hits Steam. Has this given the team encouragement that they will be able to reach a new audience for their hard work?
Matt: The exclusivity expiration certainly gave us a definitive 'target' for us to focus on, and we had a lot users reserve RUNE II: DE on Steam Wishlist, so that made the goal very tangible as there was a clear demand for the game on Steam. We also looked at the one year anniversary with a grim reminder of what happened to us on Nov 13, 2019 and there was an intense desire to fix that. We've been updating the game on EGS throughout the year and this has been super helpful to receive that customer feedback and confirm that we're on the right track. The RUNE II Community Discord has really grown and developed into a very good resource for us.
TSA: I guess the elephant in the room is the convergence of release dates with Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. What does Rune II have to offer for gamers looking for an alternative to Ubisoft's title?
Matt: Well, RUNE II: Decapitation Edition is extremely loot and level focused, we are way closer to an open world Diablo or Skyrim experience than we are to Assassin's Creed. We're quirky and wild; an out of control action adventure that you play with your friends and have a great time, kill a lot of shit and get a lot of loot.
A few other direct feature differences include: Our skill system focuses on the 3 Gods and the Godless (heathen). You can swap and re-spec your skills out at any time (while not in actual combat). We have Cooperative Campaign with a variety of difficulties so you can find that sweet spot of fun. We also have updated our PVP Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes. We don't really see this as the 'Elephant in the Room' as we have been laser focused on Launching Nov 13, 2020. We don't have any cutscenes either, our dialogue and quests are pretty hilarious and meant to just be entertaining and fun. And well, we're going to be on Steam.
TSA: What are your hopes for RUNE II in terms of player base and reception?
Matt: We hope players say, "hey this is a fucking awesome game and I'm having a wild time," and "holy shit, you can do WHAT in the game" and "this is a great example of not abandoning and walking away and doing what is right for the customers." We're already seeing a lot of positive feedback and thumbs up on our discord and other channels. The reception has been fantastic and exactly what we hoped for.
TSA: After a hard-earned break, what's next for Studio 369 (aside from the inevitable bug fixes and patches)?
Matt: We have a patch planned for before Thanksgiving that is based on community and streamer feedback. We also have a December patch planned with a new dungeon, new loot, and new enemies.
We'll probably be looking at a few other big ticket items that we've been working on and the community asked for (i.e. UI changes, dual wielding, TBD). We also have a new game design and concept that we've been pitching to investors/publishers and has been picked up; we will start production on in January 2020.
Rune II: Decapitated Edition is available now on Steam and Epic Games Store.
We love a good gaming headset here on TheSixthAxis – by 'we' I mainly mean me and my continuing attempts to make my tinnitus find new and exciting tones to fill my ears with – and just in time for Christmas we've had word that Japanese audio specialist final are set to unleash their first gaming headphones onto the public in the shape of the VR3000.
final have been in the audio business for over 50 years, and throughout that time they've continued to innovate in the space, continually pushing cutting edge technology and design out to an appreciative audience.
The VR3000 is final's first pair of earphones created specifically with gamers in mind. Taking the form of an in-ear monitor they're designed to be small and extremely lightweight so you can listen and play for hours without any of the regular signs of fatigue that over or on-ear sets might cause.
They've been designed to deliver headphone-like spacial sound with pinpoint accuracy and clarity, while the in-ear design allows for improved mobility and device compatibility when you compare them to some of the unwieldy, power-hungry sets you find out there.
The VR3000 connects via 3.5mm jack, meaning they're compatible with nearly everything from your Oculus Quest 2, PS5 and Xbox Series X thought to your trusty old Nintendo Switch. They're built from sturdy ABS, and feature an in-line mic and a 3 button controller, while boasting an impedance of 18 ohm and a sensitivity of 101dB.
final have aimed for a design that manages to deliver deep resounding bass as well as top end detail, which they've aimed to achieve through their own in-house designed 6mm dynamic driver. It certainly sounds like they've put a lot of thought into the design and we can't wait to put them through their paces.
The VR3000 will retail for £69.99/$79.99 and releases on the 10th of December 2020.
The VR space is currently enjoying another resurgence after the arrival of the Oculus Quest 2, bringing the medium ever further into the mainstream. Amongst the big hitters this winter is Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister, a VR FPS based on Games Workshop's iconic and brutal science fiction universe. Having had a chance to go hands on with it in the run up to release we've definitely been impressed with what we've seen, and now you can take a gander at the work that the team at Pixel Toys have put into it!
Battle Sister sees you become a member of the Adepta Sororitas, the military wing of the Adeptus Ministorus – humanity's state church. These Battle Sisters head into combat in a smaller version of the power armour you see the huge, enhanced Space Marines wearing, and they share in much of the same technology. Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister allows you to wield it for yourself. You can grab Bolt Pistols and Boltguns, while getting up close and personal with Chainswords and Power Swords, with a host of Chaos-worshipping ne'er do wells to dispatch along the way. It is, as the world demands, brutal, weighty, and ever so satisfying.
The Oculus Quest 2 launched in October, and improved on its predecessor in every way, bringing the cable-free standalone VR to the next level, with higher quality lenses and screens, the ability to hit a 90hz refresh rate, while, most importantly, reducing the size and weight of the headset. In our review I said, "the Oculus Quest 2 is the next step in home VR that builds on the foundations of the original Quest's genre-defining standalone setup. This is a truly next generation VR console that's beating Sony and Microsoft to the punch." If you're interested in VR, the Quest 2 should be at the top of your list.
Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister releases on the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 on the 8th of December 2020.
Arrowhead Studios, the developers behind Helldivers, Magicka, Gauntlet, and The Showdown Effect, has announced that it is now working on a third person co-operative shooter for the new generation of consoles. Previously, the studio has released games on PC, PS4, Vita but never on an Xbox platform. Whether that will change for this yet unnamed title remains to be seen, but we can almost guarantee a PS5 release considering the studio's track record.
We are incredibly excited to create a new, next-gen, co-op experience for our fans and community. We are looking for talented developers to join us on this journey and are looking forward to sharing more details about the project at a later date." said Johan Pilestedt, Game Director and CEO.
There is no more detail really about this game aside from being third person, co-op, and ways to alter the story. It will also feature satirical humour. A screenshot from the new project has been released, showing what appears to a view from the ground in a desert landscape. You can check it out below.
We will just have to wait and see what other reveals the studio will give over the next couple of years.
It's really felt a lot like winter the last week or so as temperatures have really taken a dive, even in the southern reaches of the UK. Another reason to stay inside and play video games, not least because the new consoles and high-end PCs can churn out plenty of heat when they're running at full tilt!
There's not one, but two huge Ubisoft open world titles that we've delivered a verdict on, as Jim finished his long journey through Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and Aran soared through the original take on Greek mythology of Immortals Fenyx Rising.
In the rest of the features, Nick returned to Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate to sample the game's three new fighters and the next-gen upgrades to the game as a whole. He said it's "a great jumping on point for a new generation of console."
Tom dove into the dino-blasting co-op of Second Extinction, but found that the Early Access title has some way to go before it can reach its potential, while the potential of Everspace 2 was clear to see being realised in its closed beta by Miguel.
Here's what you in our community has been up to this week:
hornet1990 has dropped the difficulty down to Story Mode for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and found it far more enjoyable.
Also enjoying something more than he expected is MrYd, who's been playing Worms Rumble from PS+. That's alongside Wreckfest from PS Now and a sale purchase of Two Point Hospital, which is "just too much fun."
Andrewww played The Bunker on PS4, but also managed to sneak in the Astro's Playroom platinum once he was able to play his shiny new console after his kids had gone to bed!
TSBonyman has returned to Bloodborne after 2 years away and managed to beat the Celestial Emissary!
Another week another platinum for Crazy_Del, who didn't actually have much fun with Bugsnax. Then there was a lot of Call of Duty Zombies and Worms Rumble.
And it was a platinum trophy for doomsday6109, who played through Miles Morales on PS5. He was also convinced to play Fortnite after months of his kids pestering him.
And with all of that out of the way, I'll let you crack on with your weekends! Have fun fiddling with the radiators and playing video games!
There have been some changes in personnel at the the top of Naughty Dog, Company President Evan Wells has announced. Well, that is now Co-President Evan Wells as Neil Druckmann has been promoted to the same role. That is not the only change as Alison Mori and Christian Gyrling have been confirmed as Vice Presidents of Naughty Dog. Both have a history with the developer with Alison previously being Naughty Dog's Director of Operations, while Christian was the Co-Director of Programming. Evan Wells said in the announcement post:
As we close out a year that has seen its challenges as we all live through a global pandemic, there have been bright moments too. One exciting moment for Naughty Dog was the long-anticipated release of The Last of Us Part II in June. Another moment comes today as we wanted to share some other terrific news about the studio.
We have such an incredible team at Naughty Dog and being able to work alongside each and every one of them is especially meaningful these days. I feel proud of the team when I'm able to recognize their accomplishments and contributions to the studio. Please join me in giving them all a big congratulations!
Naughty Dog's most recent release was The Last of Us Part II, which received a new trailer this week. In our review for The Last of Us Part II, Jim wrote:
The Last of Us Part II is a remorseless epic delivering in its masterful storytelling, nail-biting gameplay and unrivalled production values. Naughty Dog have truly surpassed themselves yet again, crafting a heartfelt sequel that will leave you gasping as they continue to raise the bar for the video game industry. It's yet another must-buy for PlayStation 4 owners, supercharging Sony's unstoppable stable of exclusives.
Deadline is reporting that Sony has found who will be playing Solid Snake in its Metal Gear Solid movie, and that actor is Oscar Isaac. Oscar Isaac has been prolific recently having starred in the recent Star Wars movies Poe Dameron, be a major part of the upcoming Dune movie, will be starring as Moon Knight in the show of the same name, and has also been in the recent Addams Family movie. Previous work also includes Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year, and Inside Llewyn Davis.
The Metal Gear Solid movie is being directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts who counts Kong: Skull Island and The Kings of Summer amongst his directing resume. Derek Connolly is handling the scriptwriting duties. His previous work includes Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Kong: Skull Island, and Detective Pikachu. Producer Avi Arad, who worked on Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, Venom, and a lot of other Marvel properties will be producer on Metal Gear Solid too.
A production start date for the Metal Gear Solid movie is not yet known due to the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, as well as Oscar Isaac's own filming schedule. So I would not expect to see any trailers for this movie for a couple of years at least. Currently, Sony is working on the Uncharted movie which is expected to be released in October 2021, having faced a number of delays over the years due to the change in directors over the years. Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg will be starring in that.
NACON and Big Ant Studios have confirmed that their latest tennis game Tennis World Tour 2 will be released in March for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. The game was released for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch earlier this year. Alongside the announcement of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S release the publisher also announced details of Tennis World Tour 2's annual pass upcoming content. Today, two new players in the form of Sofia Kenin and Karolina Plíšková were released.
The next batch of content will drop in January which will include Juan Martin Del Potro and Victoria Azenrenka. Then in March 2021 six more players will be added along with a new tournament, new stadiums, new equipment, and new uniforms. In our review for Tennis World Tour 2, I wrote:
Tennis World Tour 2 is a solid all-round tennis game, and the inclusion of the wildcard system offers an additional and entertaining tactical layer to consider as you play. It's just a shame that some minor issues hold it back from being great.
Activision have decided to push back the start of Season One of Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War's multiplayer and the new Cold War inspired era of Warzone by one week. The updates will now drop on 16th December, instead of the previously planned 10th December.
As I'm sure many an eagle-eyed gamer will note, that means that Activision have dodged out the way of a Cyberpunk 2077 shaped bullet, though they obviously won't admit that's a factor.
Instead they're keen to stress just how big these updates are, stating that they're the largest fee content drop that a Black Ops game has ever seen.
Black Ops Cold War will see the return of 2v2 Gunfish from Modern Warfare, which will come with four new maps for the mode, while there will be a new Fireteam map set in the Hollywood Hills. Yup, the popular Black Ops II map Raid will be returning for this update.
Season One will see a string of rewards to chase after through Season Challenges, new Zombies modes and a cross-title Seasonal Prestige system.
Of course, this will also be when Warzone receives its major overhaul to match. There will be a brand new Warzone map and mode at launch, with 30 Black Ops Cold War base weapons and a number of Blueprint variants thrown into the weapon pool. They're also mixing up how the Gulag works.
So yeah, there's a lot of moving parts, and Activision say that "For this to occur, we're taking a few more days to finalize everything before unleashing this massive drop of new, free content to the community."
To assuage fans that might for whatever reason feel slighted by this, they will be flicking the switch to enable Double XP and Double Weapon XP for Black Ops Cold War, starting at 6PM GMT on Saturday 12th December and running through to the start of Season One.
Additionally, there will be two free bundles that you can grab between 6PM GMT on 8th December and 7AM GMT on 16th December, which include:
Slightly Mad Studios has released the third update for Project Cars 3, and the main addition is the new track Bahrain International Circuit. Aside from the new track addition the update also fixes some online issues including players moving at different times, fixes car unlock issues in the career mode, fixed some of the issues on tracks including holes in Mojave's terrain, and slowed the AI Legendary lap times on Sakitto National by 2-3 seconds. You can check out the full patch notes below.
Issue with online players moving at different times during rolling starts fixed with automatic race delay countdown
New lobby browse flow
New post-race flow in MP
Fixed host assist settings for all MP participants
Fixed an issue that caused MP options to become inactive after reconnecting ethernet cable
Fix for Photo Mode vignette effect
Fix for pressing the "Hide HUD" button during the post-race spectating sequence
Fix for when you hit "0 attempts left" in Rivals Mode and the Race button wasn't greyed-out
Fixed button to toggle between loaner and owned cars being labelled as "0" in vehicle select
Fix for decals being replaced while applying decals in certain slots and scrolling through decal placement options
Fix for highlighting the GT Open tab causing the Road E class picture to appear
Disabled the "Resume" button when Photo button pressed
Changed sort order of proximity arrows
Added number of attempts left in Rivals to pre-race menu and pause menu
Fixed the track loading screen background flashing at the beginning of the "Welcome to" screen
Improved framerate during video playback
Fixed a crash exiting replays
Updated to the latest Nissan logo
Missing skip tutorial label in Brazilian Portuguese and Neutral Spanish added
Fix for cars not unlocking when user levelled up without leaving post-race screen, interrupting Career progression (this fix retroactively corrects any profiles which were affected by this issue).
TrueForce initial implementation. Implementation uses haptic thread to provide high-frequency procedural waves for the rumble effects
Modulated TruForce slip rumble based on surface wetness
Fine tuned slide threshold for TrueForce
Fixed TrueForce curb rumble at speed
Fixed rolling start discrepancy when TC is enabled
Fixed female character 1
Willow Springs Horse Thief Mile: Removed "rallycross" tag that was making cars pick the dirt tyre option in all-weather conditions
Mojave: Fixed various holes in the terrain
Fuji: Sponsor updates for the track
Azure Coast Full: Fixed the AI turning abruptly after the finish line in the post-race screen
Knockhill National: Fixed the AI contacting the edge of the barrier when attempting to squeeze past slow or stopped cars
Sakitto National: Slowed AI lap times 2-3 seconds at Legendary
Zolder: Fixed a flickering glass window issue
Monument Canyon B: Fixed the 32nd grid spot being slightly in front of the 31st
Yas Marina: Fixed various LOD popping on track
Zhuhai: Fixed some tree rendering on the track
Hockenheimring GP Classic: Fixed some trees popping
Added Bahrain to the track list
Fixed crash when user applied a racing conversion kit to the last car in their garage
2015 Ford Mustang GT Racing: Made interior dark grey instead of white
Honda Civic Racing: Made interior dark grey instead of white
Mercedes A45 TCR: Made interior dark grey instead of white
Caterham 620R + Racing: Tyre update to stop colour popping when selecting factory livery
BMW M6 GT3: Tyre fix to stop logo popping at distance
Removed exceptions for McLaren P1 GTR, now all custom rims can be chosen
Honda 2&4: Fixed missing animation for accelerating and braking
Audi R8 LMP900: Edited front suspension to avoid clipping with bonnet
In our review for Project Cars 3, Thomas wrote:
Project CARS 3 suffers from a case of mistaken identity. Once you adjust to the new direction, you can get into a fun flow of ticking off objectives, drifting around hairpins and purchasing upgrades. However, while the series' existing platform means you get a great variety of circuits, cars and weather conditions, it also shackles this game from being a great arcade racing experience.
It's such a lovely time of the year, as we're able to legitimately refuse to go outside and can instead curl up in front of our brand new consoles. This week has remained a busy one, but I've still snuck in some more Dirt 5 and Sackboy, both of which are already amongst my favourite games this year. Other than that I'm hoping to get in some time with Fenyx in Immortals Fenyx Rising this weekend, while wondering about whether adding my to my backlog with Cyberpunk is a good idea.
Tom Harrison-Lord was first in line this week and he's been playing Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered on PS5 and "getting into the swing of things (ho ho)." He's also been playing Liftoff Drone Racing which "is very tricky so far."
Steve meanwhile has been a busy bee playing games for review on his PC, telling us, "I clocked the terrifying Visage which left me somewhat scar(r)ed, Morbid The Seven Acolytes which was more than just alright, enjoyed visual novel ALTDEUS virtually on my lovely Oculus, was a pretty grumpy sod about Twin Mirror by DontNod, and then finally, began to play The Call of the Sea."
Aran played Immortals Fenyx Rising for review and enjoyed his time with it. That's not all he told us though; "I've also been playing Miles Morales, and just need to complete the game on NG+ to platinum it. I've really enjoyed it and excited to see what the next game in the series will be like."
While he had high hopes for it, Nic B was unltimately a bit disappointed by Phogs, thanks to "how buggy it is and how repetitive the puzzles are." Gareth finished Watch Dogs Legion, "which was fun", and some Rocket League. Sadly he always says "I've also been playing the "Got the Money for a PS5, but no PS5″ game, which gets 0/10."
Rolling his way through the week, Jim's either been on four wheels in the superb Dirt 5, or a growing ball of nonsense in Katamari Damacy Reroll. He says, "Dirt 5 has been great fun, straddling the line between arcade racer and racing sim. There's an obvious smack of MotorStorm to it and although I probably won't throw myself into the online crucible, I'm having loads of fun simply dipping in for a few career races at a time. Katamari has been just as enjoyable. A joyfully silly remaster that everyone needs to play. There's something extremely therapeutic to rolling your Katamari around each stage, consuming as many objects as you can and watching it balloon into a kaiju-sized monster."
Reuben has been sharing his time between Miles Morales on PS5, "which is gorgeous and such a heartwarming game," and NieR on PS3, "which is less gorgeous and has combat that is so clunky I want to hurt myself. Loving them both though."
Nick P has mostly been playing Demon's Souls this week, saying he's "enjoying it a lot so far. I also got the plat on both Spider-Man games as well as putting in some time into MK11 Ultimate – really enjoying Mileena and her awesome face."
Ade has been throwing all his free-time at the unbelievably massive Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, saying, "It is totally Thorsome and probably my favourite Assassin's Creed yet." while Miguel meanwhile has been playing a lot of Black Ops Cold War. He then played some Apex after being away from it for a few weeks and had a very rough time readjusting. He continues "I'm also getting a bit back into Fortnite now since the new season has started up, but I've been falling off of Yakuza Like A Dragon a bit because I'm really not a fan of the combat, but I did plow through the entire Management minigame over the weekend, aaaaand I've been getting back into Genshin Impact after the new update introduced a very "explicitly designed for Miguel Moran" character in the form of Xinyan the fire guitarist."
Tef spent most of the week playing Per Aspera, which is a really cool management sim about terraforming Mars that's just let down a bit by how easily the dialogue can get jumbled up and out of order. Finally, Tuffcub has been playing Destiny 2 and Valhalla, and says we should expect this to be his new default. Hooray for variety!
Update 15.10 has rolled out today for Monster Hunter World: Iceborne with the big addition being a new quest related to the upcoming movie. Capcom has confirmed that you will need a Master Rank 1 or higher to take part in the quest. Aside from the movie quest there are some changes and bug fixes to the main game. That includes player scaling in the Red Dragon siege event, and an issue in the Black Dragon quest where players could not return to camp. The full patch list can be seen below.
Artemis "Monster Hunter" Movie Quest has been added, and is available as event quests for a limited time. * To participate in the Artemis "Monster Hunter" Movie Quest, you must be Master Rank 1 or higher. * For details on the availability of the event quests, please check event schedule available on the official site, etc.
New BGM can now be played in your room in Seliana.
The Red Dragon siege event will now feature 1 and 2 player scaling difficulty.
You will no longer be able to send or approve squad join requests. (If you are in the same Gathering Hub as a player, you can still join squads and send invitations.)
The following items can now be melded at the Elder Melder: – Spring Blossom Tickets, Summer Twilight Tickets, Autumn Harvest Tickets, Winter Star Tickets, and Appreciation Tickets. The following items can now be melded at the Elder Melder: – Full Bloom Tickets, Sizzling Spice Tickets, Fun Fright Tickets, Joyful Tickets, Gratitude Tickets. – VIP Full Bloom Tickets, VIP Sizzling Spice Tickets, VIP Fun Fright Tickets, VIP Joyful Tickets, and VIP Gratitude Tickets.
In line with the event quests being available indefinitely, mentions of availability for the quests "The Evening Star", "Dawn of the Death Star" and "Fade to Black" have been removed.
Fixed an issue where if you set comments for certain gestures from "Off" to "On", the setting would change back to "Off" unintentionally if you go back to the title screen and load the data again.
Fixed an issue where item order would change unintentionally when equipping a loadout.
Bug Fixes and Balance Adjustments
Fixed a rare issue during the quests "The Black Dragon" and "Fade to Black" where guest players couldn't return to camp.
Fixed an issue where after completing the special assignment "The Black Dragon", if you don't speak to the General while on an expedition afterwards, an exclamation mark would appear indefinitely on the mini-map when descending to Castle Schrade when joining the special assignment as a guest player.
Fixed an issue that caused a space to appear on the base of the Fatalis monster figure's right wing.
Fixed an issue that occurs when playing offline in your Seliana room where an exclamation mark would appear next to the name of a decor category even if none of the individual decor items in that category have an exclamation mark.
Fixed an issue that caused Scarred Yian Garuga to become trapped or unable to land on certain terrain in the Ancient Forest.
Fixed an issue where if Fatalis is on top of a trap, the monster would not be affected by the clutch claw's claw attack, parts could not be broken, it would not flinch from parts being damaged, it could not be knocked down by heavy weaponry, nor could it be afflicted with paralysis or sleep.
Updated the model of the Deathbow Vaal Velos bow and Blackveil Vaal Hazak layered weapon parts, as they were using the normal Vaal Hazak model and not Blackveil Vaal Hazak.
Fixed an issue that caused the Safi α+ Layered Torso to stretch when it was equipped along with the Passionate Body α+ or Passionate Layered Chest armor on female characters.
Fixed an issue on male characters where the black pupil in the Dragonhide β+'s eye would disappear when the armor was equipped at the same time as other specific head armor.
While Bungie launched Destiny: Beyond Light in November, their work wasn't done last month, and they've been busily preparing to roll out the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S optimised version of the game.
Ahead of the free new generation upgrade, Bungie have revealed that it will require a full re-download of the game, albeit handled through the regular update process. This won't affect the PS4, Xbox One or PC versions of the game, but will be a big old install for the new machines.
The estimated patch sizes for Update 3.0.1 based on platforms are as follows:
Xbox Series X|S 3.0.1's patch download size: ~70.0 GB
PlayStation 5 3.0.1's patch download size: ~67.0 GB
Xbox One 3.0.1's patch download size: ~2.35 GB
PlayStation 4 3.0.1's patch download size: ~2.09 GB
Steam 3.0.1's patch download size: ~1.5 GB
Additionally, you won't be able to pre-load the update as you could for Beyond Light's launch, as Bungie say that pre-loads are typically reserved for major expansions.
The download will be worth it though. Xbox Series X and PS5 will both run at 4K, while Xbox Series S will be at 1080p, but all will now run at 60fps, with PS5 and Series X both supporting 120Hz in the Crucible. Then there's the Field of View slide and even faster loading times with the full download enabling to adapt the file storage to the SSDs.
Update 3.0.1 does more than that, though. Here's the abbreviated patch notes, with full details set to drop on 8th December when the patch becomes available.
Dungeons – Prophecy
The Prophecy Dungeon will be returning to Destiny 2 on December 8, 2020.
This endgame activity is free to all players.
Powerful rewards may be earned from each checkpoint once per week.
Players may complete the dungeon once per week to obtain a pinnacle-powered reward.
Previously featured weapon and armor rewards are available once more.
Destiny Companion App – Bounties
Beginning next week, players may acquire bounties from Destiny 2 vendors using the Destiny Companion App.
Bounties may only be acquired when players are Offline, In Orbit, or in The Tower.
This will be introduced through a Companion App update, which is planned for December 8, 2020.
Stay tuned to @BungieHelp for more on this Companion App update.
New Light – Resolved Issues
Fixed an issue with the New Light subclass quest where Ikora's waypoint was suppressed.
Fixed an issue where veteran players with two characters of the same class were blocked from acquiring their subclasses.
Fixed an issue where a step on the New Light pursuit was not granting experience.
Fixed an issue where players who skip the Shotgun chest in the first mission did not receive Special ammo when the Shotgun was granted.
Monument to Lost Lights
Fixed an issue where the waypoint on the Exotic Archive Vendor continues to flash for players who own all Exotics.
Badges and Armor in Collections correctly select player's class.
Fixed an issue where the UI would forget which page the player was on after previewing an item in Collections.
Fixed a bug where some new armor mods had incorrect sources listed in Collections.
Updated the mercy rule for Control and Clash to prevent it from triggering too early in the match.
Fixed an issue where the "Survivor" medal could be awarded to players who were defeated during the round.
Fixed an issue where the "Untouchable" medal could not be earned.
Beyond Light Exotics
Fixed a bug where the Icefall Mantle's description did not mention the slow field it generates when activated.
Mask of Bakris
Improved the readability of the visual effects when another player wearing Mask of Bakris shifts directly toward you.
Updated the description string of Mask of Bakris's perk to correctly describe its damage bonus, which applies only to combatants and affects all Arc weapon damage and all damage against slowed or encased enemies.
Additionally, fixed an issue where this damage bonus was applying to players who are slowed or encased in Crucible and Gambit.
Fixed an issue where being killed by the effects of Necrotic Grip would show as being "Killed by the Architects."
Ever aware of a spot of nostalgia-tickling, playing Ikenfell constantly took me back to playing the Mario & Luigi RPG games. Ikenfell is it's own game and its differences outweigh its similarities by far, but there are several elements that I found reminiscent of those Nintendo classics. In this 8-bit style tactical RPG, you play as a girl recruiting friends to go and adventure around a school of magic in the hope of finding your sister who has mysteriously disappeared.
The first comparison to those plumber RPGs comes in with the turn-based battle system. Battles take place on a small grid where up to three characters can traverse the board, but you're able to avoid taking some incoming damage through some timed button presses.
Of course, there's the possibility of you getting the timing wrong, and you sometimes have animations pop up to aid with your timing or might have to rely on sound cues. There was the odd moment where I felt cheated out of a button press but, for the most part, the timings were accurate. That said, there were also times where the patterns were too convoluted and just too much to even begin figuring out where the button press was. As you can imagine, that leads to a grumpy gamer.
In general, Ikenfell is a very user friendly game to dive into. The controls are easy to learn through the tutorial and the gameplay gets more interesting with the introduction of additional characters. Then it stops evolving. After getting used to to having three characters, the game settles into its groove and battles start to become a chore of moving chess pieces around a particularly long, thin board. You'll find yourself starting to avoid combat, but when the story doesn't progress particularly fast, you can start to run out of reasons to play this game. That leads me however to one of its best features.
It's weird to say, but one of the best features of the game is the ability to skip battles, letting you focus instead on the story. You can also disable the timed button mechanic, and if you're a fan of tactical RPGs that might be your preferred way to play. It deals with smaller numbers in its health, damage and things of that nature, which is great for numerically challenged like myself and doesn't trail off in thousands of points of damage instantly. This is definitely a game made to be understood quickly and much like its story's themes, invites people of all gaming abilities to play.
Personally, this freedom was great to have. As the game progressed I found myself questioning the battle system a lot and drifting off into thought while mindlessly getting through fights. Grinding is one thing, but the enjoyment you will have in this game really depends on what you want to get out of Ikenfell. Story? Battles? Artistic value? Maybe a combination of these elements?
The music is a winner no matter which of those you choose. A combination of acoustic instruments and 8-bit chiptune sounds, it sounds incredible and really suits the vibe of the game, but it doesn't make for particularly exciting battle themes. Subjective opinions on music aside, the overall presentation of the game is stellar and perfectly suits the atmosphere of this grandiose adventure taking place on a small scale.
Happy Ray Games have absolutely nailed the visual style they were going for. Although mostly taking place in a Hogwarts-like school, the landscapes somehow manage to vary and seem different enough without going overboard. The characters are chibi-like and cute in the overworld, but gain a more distinct look to them when you transition into a battle. One slight bugbear is that the chibi characters don't have faces, which instead are shown when text is on screen. It's very hard to add personality onto small sprites without faces, and just leaves them feeling oddly blank.
Still, it's the story that will be the tipping point for many people. The main character, Maritte, has come to the world of Ikenfell to look for her witch of a sister – no seriously, she is a witch. The game feels very progressive and Steven Universe-esque, which isn't a complaint in the slightest, but won't be everyone's cup of tea. It's also cutesy as hell, and some of the monster types are very interesting but always have a bit of cuddliness to them for the most part.
The main cast of characters has to be commended for its inclusivity and stepping away from the norm, but while inclusive, it's not really that diverse. It's an atypical lineup with no cis-gendered males to play as, but of six playable characters four are white girls, and the remaining girl and non-binary person are both black. While a bit restrained, it's still a great cast and feels progressive.
I personally found it hard to engage with these characters and what was happening in the story. Most parts were fetch quests in order to find clues to the missing sister's whereabouts which isn't a problem, but when there isn't much fun to be had on the way, things can get a bit too serious and sometimes dull in places.
It's difficult to express emotion and tell a story through an 8-bit, top down, retro game without voice acting. You're constantly reading text from barely moving chunky sprites, and that can become tiresome. This is why games like the Mario & Luigi RPGs rely heavily on slapstick humour and over the top silliness to keep a smile on the players face and keep them interested. There's a deep story that the developers want to tell in Ikenfell, but it could do with a bit more levity and fun along the way.
As a remaster of a ten year old game, don't expect new features or content for this Hot Pursuit remaster. However, "Update 1" does make a shopping list of fixes and improvements following the game's rerelease last month on PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
The new patch will roughly weigh up to 500MB depending on which platform you're playing on. Criterion and developers Stellar Entertainment have mainly be working on audio and visual fixes while also improve online stability. You can view the full changelog below.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered Update 1 Patch Notes
Fixed an issue that could cause audio stuttering during races and cinematics.
When you change the VOIP / Microphone settings, it should now persist to the lobbies you join going forward.
VOIP system is now working as intended if a headset is plugged in after joining a multiplayer lobby.
Speech to text should now be functional for players on the same platform.
A similar issue also affected the text to speech audio being distorted, this is now resolved.
Interceptor lobbies should now be limited to two players, as intended.
The "Change Access" menu now properly disappears after a selection is made.
Fixed an issue where players wouldn't transition from the lobby to the race.
Visual / UI
Players should no longer see voice icons from other platforms. In-game voice chat is available when cross-play is turned off. When cross-play is turned on, voice chat is restricted to each platform's party chat system. This hint is now also shown in the privacy settings.
You should no longer be able to get stuck on the driver details menu.
When a friend beats your time, the correct date should now be displayed in the Autolog notification.
When busted as a racer in a Hot Pursuit multiplayer event, the player list is now only shown once on screen.
Autolog notifications should now display in the respective language if you change the console language and local settings.
Trophies you should receive (for Cop / Racer ranks) should now unlock correctly, even retroactively if there are any you should have received, but haven't.
When using custom colors, the color displayed in the "last/recent" slots should now display correctly. It did most of the time, but there were a few scenarios where it wouldn't.
Fixed an occlusion issue on a mountain along Boulder Road.
The Porsche Boxster Spyder now allows you to recreate "Speed Yellow" using the custom color palette.
Some events were missing Speedwalls, these are now present and visible on the career map.
The "Beauty and the Beasts" summary screen now shows the bounty earned for placing 3rd.
When losing connection and reconnecting, the player avatar is shown correctly on the Speedwall.
Notifications that a friend beat you in an Intercept event will no longer be cut off when scrolling at the bottom of the map screen, nor should they display random question marks.
During the Most Wanted event intro, the correct names and symbols should now be displayed above vehicles.
You should no longer encounter a short black screen when going to submenus from the pause menu during a multiplayer race.
The car shadow should no longer flicker in the Police Station parking lot on Cascade Terrace Road.
When you are viewing your own profile on PS4, the game you're currently playing is now correctly shown.
After sending/receiving a game invite request from a friend, a confirmation notification will now show as intended.
When you're in a single player race, the correct game mode is now reflected in your friends list and dashboard.
The player avatar frame now disappears after the first loading screen.
Player avatars should now be better aligned with names in result screens.
When cross-play is enabled, the platform identifier should now also show next to the name during a race, not only on the leaderboard.
With cross-play enabled, all platform identifier icons have the same shade / opacity of white.
The VOIP icon no longer overlaps player names in cross-play multiplayer race outro screens.
Players can now be added to the friends list from the "Recent Players" tab.
In Photo Mode, the top part of the police car sirens is no longer blacked out when the "Show Damage" toggle is set to "on".
Removed a redundant line from the User Agreement.
After changing the resolution multiple times, the intro cinematic to "My Career" should still render at full screen now.
As some if you had pointed out, there was a Rank 21 shown as next rank. This was unintended and has now been fixed – Rank 20 is the highest rank.
Traditional Chinese: The "Jammer" text in the HUD is now in the right place when all charges have been exhausted.
All languages: Updated the localized Technical Support files in the Support folder of the game installation.
Spanish: Long player names should no longer be overlapping in the "autolog recommends" section.
When the "Most Wanted" quits during an ongoing race, all players should return to the menu as expected.
Fixed an issue that could cause the game to crash when selecting career events.
Restarting an event multiple times should no longer cause the game to crash.
Fixed an issue that could cause the game to crash when selecting the Autolog Recommends menu.
When joining a friend's lobby while in photo mode, you should no longer encounter a black screen.
Fixed an issue that could cause a crash during an arms race session.
Fixed two issues that could occur during the "Unreasonable Force" event.
Resolved an issue that could lead to the game hanging when sharing your time on the wall.
You should now be able to frictionlessly join a friend after your game has been suspended on your console for a while.
When switching controllers while the Xbox menu is open, the game should now behave as expected when hitting the "back" button.
When disconnecting a controller while on the title screen, the button prompt to continue to the next screen should still be displayed.
Fixed an issue that could cause a crash when you started the game without being signed into your profile.
From the wall, you can now access other players' gamercards.
"View Player" prompt no longer appears on the friend list screen if your friend list is empty.
When using "instant sign-in" and having the console powered down to stand-by, rebooting and resuming the title should now work smoothly.
Other Xbox players are now identified as such before and during races.
Online status of friends is now showing correctly in the friends list.
Improved visual performance on Barnstormer, Awe Inspired and Under Pressure.
The Steam client should now show the "Badge" section for Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered (not related to the client update, but might as well mention it here).
The game doesn't show "pre-purchase" anymore instead of the normal buy option.
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered is the perfect reminder of what Criterion brought to the franchise, with a blisteringly fast arcade racer that's made all the better if you've got the ability to play it at 60fps. The main downside is that your Autolog wall is more likely to splashed with your solitary achievements, rather than the consistent flow of competition you experienced a decade ago.
There are no firm details on exactly what we can expect from EA's racing franchise though we do know the keys have been handed from Ghost Games to Critertion. A recent EA teaser gave us our first look at an untitled Need for Speed planned for current-gen systems.
Atlus has itself leaked that Persona 5 Strikers will be released in western territories on February 23rd, 2021. The leak came via an unlisted video on the company's YouTube channel. That video has since been made unavailable. However, this being the internet mirrors of the trailer have appeared on online to confirm that Persona 5 Strikers will release for PS4, Switch, and PC in early 2021. The game released in Japan earlier this year as Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers.
Persona 5 Scramble is a collaboration between Atlus and Koei Tecmo and it shows. In the brief footage shown, we see Persona 5 protagonist Joker and his friend laying the smackdown on hordes of enemies. Persona 5 Royal released earlier this year worldwide adding more content to the base Persona 5 experience. In our review for that, Nic wrote:
Persona 5 Royal is a stunning game that takes something which has already captured millions of hearts, and makes it even better. This is the quintessential Persona experience. If you're new to the franchise, this game is for you. If you're a seasoned veteran, there is enough new and improved content that this game is still for you.
Motion Twin has announced a brand new piece of DLC for Dead Cells, and it is called Fatal Falls. The studio has stated it is aiming for a Q1 2021 release and that Fatal Falls will cost $4.99. It is available to wish list now. The new DLC will add two extra areas which will continue Beheaded's journey while outside of the Castle. There will also be a new boss to challenge who is not actively hunting the player, but instead just minding their own business.
This is not the first piece of DLC to be released for Dead Cells. Earlier this year, the Bad Seed DLC was released. That added the add new territories including The Swamp, The Arboretum, and The Nest. Prior to that The Bad Seed's release the Rise of the Giants DLC came out for Dead Cells.
In our review Jason wrote:
With incredibly satisfying gameplay, a constant stream of unlocks, and a world that challenge every cell of your being, Dead Cells is a must own for anyone who likes even one aspect of what has been mentioned here. Every success will fill you with endorphins, every failure will inspire you to get better. When you finally take out the final boss you will be elated. It is here that Dead Cells lets you know that it is just the beginning, there are a few more go around yet, and each one gets harder and harder. This is the kind of game that can last you forever, you just have to let it beat you in the head a few times.
It looks as though the breakout battle royale sensation will be making at splash at this year's Game Awards. The big end of year show, once again hosted by Geoff Keighley, will likely be crammed with new game reveals and announcements. It's expected that Fall Guys will make an appearance, giving us our very first look at Season 3.
If you're hoping to get your MMO fix on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S then you're in luck as two long-standing entries in the genre are headed to current gen systems.
Following the recent acquisition of Daybreak Games by Swedish company, Enad Global 7, an investor's presentation has been shared online and it's full of juicy details about the firm's portfolio of online games. The Daybreak stable includes multiplayer titles such as PlanetSide 2, DC Universe Online, and the EverQuest series.
What's perhaps most interesting to console gamers is EG7's plans to bring both Lord of the Rings Online and superhero MMO, DC Universe Online, to next-gen systems. With DCUO having previously launched on systems including the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, it's not hard to imagine a new edition with spruced up visuals coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.
However, for Lord of the Rings Online – a well-established MMO that has been running since 2007 – this will be the game's first leap from PC to console. Here's what was said about LOTRO in the investor presentation:
Planning visual and technical updates for LOTRO for PC and nextgen consoles to capitalize on Amazon's highly publicized large investment (~$500mm) in LOTR TV series.
This update is planned for some time in 2022 and while a visual upgrade for LOTRO seems like a natural step to take, translating its traditional style MMO gameplay for consoles sounds like a huge undertaking, even if the game does get buoyed by the potential popularity of a LOTR TV show.
In the years since launch the game has catered to a small yet active hardcore fanbase. According to the presentation, it boasts 108K monthly active users with 41K subscribers. Developer Turbne have been delivering numerous expansions, taking players from The Shire all the way to Minas Morgul.
Speaking of numbers, DC Universe Online stands out as Daybreak's best performing game. The unique action-MMO has 419K monthly active users with 40K subscribers, followed in second place by PlanetSide 2 with 198K/25K.
Second Extinction is a game that sounds great on paper. Developed by a small studio of veterans from within Just Cause creator Avalanche Studios, it's a Left 4 Dead style co-op shooter that pits players against an army of vicious dinosaurs.
There's a lot to get excited about, but unfortunately, Second Extinction has yet to live up to what it could be. Fortunately, it's still an early access title, so there's still plenty of time for Systemic Reaction to unlock its full potential.
Let's dive into what's available so far. The base game comes with six missions at the moment and four operators. Each operator has a unique set of weapons and abilities, ranging between a heavy character which carries a machine gun to a nimble sniper geared towards stealth. These distinct characters are well balanced and provide an indication of how Second Extinction is geared toward team play.
The game's six missions are all set across one large map, which features areas with varying difficulty. Each mission plays similarly to a Left 4 Dead mission, with an evolving number of objectives that take players across a large area. However, while Left 4 Dead creates suspense through the AI Director massaging the pacing of its campaigns, Second Extinction falls flat and relies too heavily on hordes of dinosaurs to challenge the player while having them run between a number of objectives.
My first big issue with Second Extinction came from its balancing. While clearly a co-op game, there is the option to play alone instead of partying up with other players. That's what I tried first, to play with the game's mechanics and get an understanding of the basic gameplay systems before jumping into multiplayer. This was a big mistake. Second Extinction is entirely designed with cooperative play in mind, and playing on your own is near impossible as the dinosaur hordes massively outnumber you. It's something that could easily be remedied by balancing the dinosaur numbers, but right now the option is effectively redundant.
That leads to my second issue, which is that the player counts are already dwindling. Through November, Second Extinction's have dropped; the peak of concurrent players in November was 404, down from the peak of 2,000 in October. At the rate Second Extinction is losing its player base, it will soon become virtually unplayable – extinct, if you will. While Early Access games go through peaks and troughs with the number of active players, this is a genuine issue that could well be difficult to remedy with the co-op multiplayer focus.
Weapon upgrades and a contract system add some depth to the game, providing players with additional goals and motivation to repeat missions. Unfortunately, I don't think these systems do enough to make the game itself interesting. The missions themselves feel like uninspired busy work against a mostly unremarkable environment that does little with an excellent premise. This isn't to say Second Extinction doesn't have potential though.
The dinosaur designs are excellent. There are some genuinely intriguing enemies that present varying challenges to the player, while also looking pretty great. With balancing, I think the dinosaur engagements could be a lot more fun and much less frustrating. The character designs are also noteworthy, bringing four distinct characters and builds to the mix with a great amount of diversity as well. Each character has their own passive, tactical and special ability which help even the odds in battle.
As it stands, Second Extinction is an interesting concept that falls short of what it could be. Fortunately, Avalanche Studios past experience with the Just Cause series could be just what the game needs to bring it inline with player expectations, but only time will tell.
Empire of Sin's Game Director Brenda Romero has released a statement regarding updates and DLC for the criminal organisation strategy title. The game has been getting average reviews across the board due to gameplay issues and the content of the game not quite being up to scratch.
The statement by Brenda Romero does not give too much away as to what issues the upcoming updates will address, nor does it give any concrete information about what the DLC will be aside from adding new areas and characters.
The statement is below.
Hello Empire of Sin Players!
Thank you so much for playing Empire of Sin! We are so excited to finally let you loose on the streets of Chicago and look forward to hearing all about your criminal empires and exploits going forth. But first, I would like to take a moment and talk about what the future holds. It's two things mainly. First, we have some updates coming your way. We are dedicated to making this game as great as it can be and that's why the feedback we have been getting from you is so important to us. Over the upcoming weeks and months. we will be working on delivering patches to improve your experience with the game. Second, it's no surprise that there will be DLCs coming down the road! You're going places and meeting new people. I can't share much more than that at the moment, but we think you'll enjoy it. From the entire team. thank you so much for your support of this game.
It feels like it might be a little while before some of the game's many issues are fixed, but Romero Games have already released a quick hotfix for the PC version of the game that addresses a save game corruption issue. Hopefully that can be brought over to the console releases sooner rather than later.
Version 1.02.38741 for PC contains these here fixes:
Save corruption bug is now fixed
Free building upgrades bug is now fixed
In our Empire of Sin review in progress, Nic wrote:
If you take one thing away from this review in progress, it's that you might want to treat Empire of Sin like you would an early access title for now. Everyone's got their own personal tolerance for bugs, just as everyone has their own personal tolerance for bathtub-brewed moonshine. There's definitely a good time to be had in Chicago's foggy, bloody, liquor-drenched streets, but there are big, noticeable, sort of heartbreaking flaws here as well.
Two of BioWare's and the industry's most recognisable names have announced that they are going to be leaving the Mass Effect/Dragon Age/KOTOR/Jade Empire/Anthem studio. Those two individuals are Casey Hudson and Mark Darrah who have both spent over 20 years at BioWare.In both of their statements they both say they are retiring from the studio, but that does not necessarily mean from the industry. However, this means that the new Mass Effect and Dragon Age games will be handed over to the next generation of BioWare developers. Laura Miele, Chief Studios Officer of EA, had this to say about the change:
Samantha Ryan, who came to Electronic Arts after leading Warner Brothers Games, is one of the strongest leaders in the industry. She will continue to oversee the studio. I'm also excited to announce Christian Dailey, who joined BioWare from Blizzard, will be leading our Dragon Age project currently in development. Christian is a fantastic creative leader and I look forward to you all getting to know him in the coming days. We recently announced Mass Effect: The Legendary Edition and Mike Gamble is leading a team hard at work on that franchise's future.
The search for a new general manager for BioWare is underway though no names have yet been made public. It was just last month that BioWare officially confirmed that the original Mass Effect Trilogy was coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC as the Legendary Edition. Alongside that was the confirmation of a new Mass Effect title, though whether that will be set in the Milky Way or in Andromeda is unknown. BioWare also gave a behind the scenes look at Dragon Age 4 earlier this year, or more an aspirational video of what the studio wants to achieve. BioWare is also still working on sorting out Anthem to overhaul it and bring players back.
Ah, the Soulslike. Nowadays it feels as if every other game is likened to FromSoftware's series in some way, but some games hew closer to the formula than others. Morbid: The Seven Acolytes is a game that's cut from Dark Souls' cloth in terms of atmosphere, setting, and the need for careful, considered approaches to its combat heavy world. It even takes clear visual influences from the Souls series, albeit transforming them into a top-down retro pixel aesthetic. Yet a review by comparison can only go so far, so how does Morbid stand up on its own bloody stumps?
Morbid's visuals are probably going to be divisive. For some, pixel art is as overdone as the Dark Souls comparisons, but Morbid is one of the more effective faux retro games I've played. Rather than limiting themselves with a lower pixel count, Still Running use the overall effect to create a sinister and twisted world full of foul beasts and flowing in blood. Everything looks and feels corrupted by the pseudo-Lovecraftian presence of the titular Seven Acolytes and there are plenty of enemy types to discover and defeat. Your journey will see you move from the opening coastal region to swamps, a corrupted city, a graveyard and beyond, all of which have a distinct style and specific enemies to match.
Story-wise, Morbid is nothing new, but the world lore is interesting and delivered through books that are scattered around the environment. You can safely ignore everything outside of the central go here and kill things plot if you wish. You play as the last surviving Striver of Dibrom, washed up on the shore of a land under the tyranny of the Seven Acolytes, accursed beings possessed by the evil Gahars. It's a fairly standard horror-fantasy setting which Still Running have dubbed Horrorpunk.
To begin with, your Striver is relatively weak and weaponless. You quickly pick up a basic sword and then regularly find new weapons as you progress. At first I thought these were random drops, but backtracking and farming for items showed that there were in fact set places for both weapons and items. This is useful for farming, but means that about 80% of the destructible scenery is purely decorative and offers no rewards.
The weapons range from spiked gloves to giant hammers and all offer different risks and rewards as you might expect. I found that certain weapons seemed far more useful than others, but this could be down to my playstyle rather than balancing. The heavy hitting two handed weapons felt too slow and took too much stamina to swing, but your mileage may vary.
Combat, as is typical of the genre, is a cat and mouse affair. Your initial health bar is small and going blow for blow will quickly see you put down, while a familiar feeling dodge roll will sap your stamina if you use it too much. Obviously your attacks drain your stamina as well. Alternatively, you can defend and parry, which can prove essential in cramped spaces, but as is my usual experience, I sucked at the parry timing and found rolling away to work better. You also find secondary ranged weapons, but these have very limited ammo and are often best saved to help out in boss fights.
The weapons you find can be improved through the use of runes, mysterious glyphs found along your adventure. These offer benefits such as increased attack speed, elemental damage, and health draining abilities. Once you set these runes they are fixed unless you use a rune removal tool, which in turn destroys the runes, so there is some strategy in play to find the best balance for your approach. This is helped out by having two weapon loadouts available, though I didn't see any way of switching between them other than going into the inventory menu. There is also plenty of room in your inventory to hold a few different weapons until you find the one you like best.
A whole host of items will help restore your health, stamina, and sanity bars. Some of these are simple recovery items whilst others trade off attributes against another, so that your sanity bar will rise at the cost of stamina. There are four quick item slots but one of these is always taken up by the Soul of Dibrom, a health replenishing item that is Morbid's equivalent to the Estus flask. This is upgradeable if you find the right corpses in your explorations, but is only refilled when you meditate at the shrines that replace the genre's typical bonfires. Structurally, you can see here just how closely Morbid follows the Souls formula.
The highlight of the combat is clearly battling the seven Acolytes themselves, huge bosses with uniquely grotesque appearances and challenging attack patterns. These will quickly kill you if you rush in carelessly, but aren't as formidable as they first appear. I managed to finish the game in around 8 hours even with my old man reactions, so this is a refreshingly doable Soulslike.
If Mankind is to reach the stars beyond our solar system, we need to learn the interstellar equivalent of crawling and walking before we can run. We've been to the Moon a few times, but our ambitions have to be greater, first to establish a base on our Satellite, and then to reach for Mars and settle upon our closest neighbour.
It's an almost unimaginable feat, and yet it's one that's been romanticised countless times in science fiction, and planned for through thought experiments, isolation tests and robotic adventure (and misadventures) to the red planet. Per Aspera is the latest game to put a plausible spin on how we might achieve that goal, but as ever, it comes with some fascinating sci-fi twists and an engaging narrative to accompany your colony building endeavours.
You don't play as the human settlers, nor some formless god-like overlord, but rather as AMI, a freshly awakened AI. You've been designed by the human mission controllers back on Earth to accrue knowledge, understanding and effecting sentience over time, while building and acting as the custodian to the colonisation and terraforming project.
It's compelling way to view all of your actions through that lens. You'll start off placing factories and mines wherever they need to go, but will soon start to understand how you can do this in a more efficient manner – having played the first few hours for a preview, I was keen to plant my structures to create a more sensible road network on my second attempt. However, as I expanded to making a second base and landing spot, I fell into another trap. I started to queue up the building of advanced mining rigs when really I needed to be more conservative. Machine learning is all the rage these days, and while my process wasn't quite as destructive, I still learnt through iteration.
You're welcomed to Mars and guided through the game by interactions with various humans like Dr. Foster from the ISA back on Earth and Commander Valentine who leads the humans of the colony that you help settle on the planet. Sometimes you're given conversational prompts, where you can role play while being taught about the game with a decision, though they lead to the same place and ask you to follow up your words with in-game actions instead. Similarly, as your character grows, you'll have AMI's moments of reflection that can also pop up conundrums about its role, how the humans will view its contribution, the consequences of actions, self-determination and more.
It's compelling and can throw a few curveballs to change your perspective at times, but the pacing of these interactions don't quite hang together. New gameplay mechanics trigger pop ups to explain what they do, and these are often then followed by communications that also introduce them, make one or the other feel a little redundant. AMI will always present a little missive about a new research technology's advantages… randomly around half way through the research process instead of at its successful completion. It's also all too easy for communications and moments of reflection to arrive in a jumbled up order as the story tries to keep up with your progress.
Despite the overlapping guidance early on, there's also some elements that simply aren't explained all that well. You might think you can tackle any and all planetary actions once you've built your first spaceport, and you seem to be able to engage with things like repairing satellite arrays, sprinkling temperature capturing black dust around the place, or opening up new sectors of the planet to explore, but you can't. You actually need to build a second spaceport in order to do so, but again, there's no clearly marked upgrade or research that does this – Hint: you need to research Space tier 2.
But there's twists coming, and one that will widen the eyes of any sci-fi fan as it emerges. It's not enough to simply set up some habitat domes and mine your way through the resources of the planet, you will also have to manipulate the planet to be truly habitable, to have an atmosphere, to have enough air pressure for human life to expand and flourish, for that air to be breathable. There's several methods you can use to achieve this, from nuking the poles, to importing greenhouse gasses from Earth, to dragging asteroids through the thin atmosphere to deposit their frozen resources.
And then there's, out of nowhere, the prospect of needing to fight for survival, building armies of drones to take on enemies that appear out of nowhere. You do find numerous known and secretive remains of previous expeditions and colony attempts that were sent to Mars by various Earth governments. Is it another rival space agency to the ISA? Is it aliens? Colonist sabotage?
Either way, combat is a surprising element to have to suddenly deal with, forcing you to build defensive platforms and drone factories to defend your fragile industrial network. A single meteor strike in the wrong spot can already take a long time to recover from, so a roving droid army is not going to be pretty. Droid combat is a simple case of building enough defences and also growing your own droid army into a doom stack that can overcome the other base.
It's with combat that the game presents another issue, though. The speed of the resource harvesting, manufacturing and the little drone network shuffling things around was such that I set my game to 8x or 16x speed almost exclusively. I was blissfully unaware of the first drone attack ravaging my offshoot base in another sector because I simply wasn't really warned about it. The notifications are just a bit too small in the bottom right corner, and honestly, situations where a building has been destroyed by adverse conditions, meteors, or hostile drones, or even just a mine running completely dry really should drop you back down to 1x speed and give you a heads up.
Still, despite the flaws, there's a compelling game here. You'll initially agonise over if and when you'll find vital resources mine to feed your hungry industrial machine's growth, turn your focus to building up offshoot bases, overcome enemy forces as they mysteriously appear (and puzzle your way through the increasingly mysterious plot) and eventually pushing the planet's atmosphere and temperature over the edge toward habitability and what comes next.
Dauntless has only gotten better in 2020 with loads of new and revised content. So, what better way to round out the year than with a huge new update that reworks many of the game's core pillars?
Dauntless Reforged will launch today across all available platforms including PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch (as well as PS5 and Xbox Series X|S via backwards compatibility). Update 1.5.0 is designed to completely change the way you interact with Dauntless, swapping out brief boss battles for more of an open-world structure.
Instead of joining matchmaking queues to battle specific Behemoths or Behemoths of a certain rank/element, you will now drop into one of 18 islands known as "Hunting Ground". Each one is packed with creatures and resources, allowing six Slayers in one online session. This significant change in design encourages exploration, allowing you hunt multiple Behemoths while also making use of gliders to travel each biome.
Developer Phoenix Labs are also revamping character progression with The Slayer's Path which offers a more nuanced and rewarding way to developer your online avatar. Gear progression has also undergone a makeover, allowing you to craft new armour and weapons that are immediately useful in a loadout. Previously, even when farming endgame content and Behemoths, you'd need to craft a weak piece of gear first before upgrading it – a time consuming, repetitive process.
For those Slayers dropping into Ramsgate after the Reforged 1.5.0 update, don't worry, your progression will carry over. You'll earn the appropriate amount of aethersparks and aetherhearts needed to power up you existing arsenal of weapons and armour. As for your Mastery rank, Dauntless will let you remap these using the game's new Slayer's Path.
It's another exciting update for Dauntless, a game which continues to go from strength to strength. We recently posted our up to date 2020 review of the game, scoring the free-to-play Monster Hunter rival a stellar 8 out of 10:
Although hardly original in its premise, Dauntless offers an extremely fun and accessible take on the monster-hunting roleplaying game. It wastes no time in throwing you straight into the action and while easy to pick up there's plenty of depth there for fans of the genre. What's more Dauntless is completely free to play, gracefully sidestepping those annoying monetisation pitfalls we're so used to seeing.
A fresh update has been pushed out for Watch Dogs Legion on all platforms, fixing plenty of crashes, bugs and issues through the game, but one frustrating issue remains for players on Xbox Series X|S.
The issue is a real game-breaker, with the game auto-save function simply not working, meaning that any progression is lost if you ever close the game and reopen it. When Watch Dogs Legion was a game for which Quick Resume was disabled, that means if you ever wanted to play something else, you'd lose your progress.
Ubisoft acknowledged the issue in November, saying that they hoped to have it fixed in early December, but it's still a real sore point for those affected, who might have owned the game for over a month now.
There is some good news though, as the dev team have now identified the underlying issue and are working on an additional update to fix this.
Aside from that, though? Well, let's dive into the patch notes.
Watch Dogs Legion Title Update 2.30
Fixed an issue that allowed players to change game difficulty and permadeath options while in the main menu.
Fixed an issue where a black screen could occur when opening the door to hidden rooms.
Super Game Over: Fixed an issue where, after getting Game Over in Permadeath Mode, players would spawn without any player characters when starting a new game.
Players can no longer defy space and time to open an ETO safe an infinite amount of times.
Fixed an issue where operatives would sometimes fall through the water on builds with AMD GPUs.
Fixed an issue where players could get stuck on saving after exiting the game.
Fixed a crash that could occur when loading the team menu.
Fixed a crash that might occur when using the inventory.
Fixed an issue where lightning could get overblown during the day.
Optimized loading time when quitting to the main menu.
Fixed a crash that could occur when the game autodetected input devices.
Fixed an out of memory crash.
Fixed a crash that could occur when enabling or disabling Ray Tracing.
Further optimizations made to save games to reduce the likelihood of corruption and lost progression.
Added Arabic subtitles to the English and Russian version of the game.
Fixed an issue where voice over would sometimes get auto muted.
Fixed an issue where a crash could occur when recruiting an Albion guard in the mission "Inside Albion".
Fixed a crash that could occur after longs periods of play.
Fixed a crash that could occur when exiting the drone point of view during the "Into the Void" mission.
Further optimizations made to save games to reduce the likelihood of corruption and lost progression.
Xbox Series X
Fixed an issue where the game launched in English when the console language was set to Arabic.
Improved graphics in instances where corruption occurred.
Fixed a crash that could occur when exiting the game.
Fixed a crash that could sometimes occur when spawning into a new area.
Further optimizations made to save games to reduce the likelihood of corruption and lost progression.
Fixed a crash that could sometimes occur when resuming the game from the main menu.
Fix a crash that could occur when quitting the game.
Fixed a black screen that could occur when playing the "Inside Albion" mission.
Fixed an issue where lightning could get overblown during the day.
Optimized loading time when quitting to the main menu.
Not exactly timely you might think, but it shows off portions of the game that were mostly absent from all pre-release media leading up the game's launch back in June.
This new trailer for The Last of Us: Part II has a much heavier emphasis on Abby as a character, showing the game's story play out partly through her eyes.
The video is chock full of spoilers so if you've yet to play the game yourself and want to go in blind then stay well clear of this one.
As those who have played TLOU2 will know, around half way through you will switch from Ellie to Abby, replaying the days leading up to their confrontation. This came as a huge surprise – just as we thought the The Last of Us: Part II was about to wrap up, it near enough doubles in length, and then some.
With awards season on the horizon, Sony are no doubt keen to thrust their flagship game of 2020 back into the spotlight after a very drawn out year.
As with most PlayStation 4 games, The Last of Us: Part II is playable on PS5 thanks to the console's backwards compatibility feature. Those playing on Sony's shiny new console can expect improved loading times as well as enhanced haptic feedback which also makes use of those DualSense adaptive triggers.
As for what comes next, Naughty Dog have yet to make any announcements. We know that TLOU's Factions multiplayer is due to return so hopefully we'll get some news on that soon.
EA's sporting debut on the new generation of consoles has come a little early as FIFA 21 and NFL Madden 21's PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions have released today, instead of tomorrow.
If you own a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S and also own a copy of FIFA 21 and/or NFL Madden 21, you should now be able to redeem the new generation version on the respective PlayStation and Microsoft stores.
Most players who've purchased #FIFA21 on current gen consoles can now download & play the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S version. Worldwide availability will follow as we ramp up towards official launch on December 4.
EA have gone a different route to other cross-gen releases, particularly those on Xbox, cooking up a scheme of their own that they're calling Dual Entitlement.
The end result is largely the same, though there's a limit to when you can unlock the upgrade from now until the launch of the '22 games in each series.
For both games there are also limits on what player progress carries forward, limited primarily to online game modes like Ultimate Team, and there's some data that can have a one way trip to the new generation.
For NFL Madden 21:
Your acquired content in Ultimate Team and your progress in The Yard will transfer. Push your progress from Franchise and Face of the Franchise to next gen consoles to continue your Next Level NFL journey.
All progress you make or content you acquire within FIFA 21 Ultimate Team (including players, items, coins, FIFA Points, match record, and leaderboard placement), as well as all progression in VOLTA FOOTBALL will transfer from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5 and back, or Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S and back. Progress within all other modes including Online Seasons, Co-Op Seasons, Career Mode, Pro Clubs, etc. will be specific to the console you are playing on and won't transfer between consoles.
Oh, and in other good news, EA have used the power of the next generation to remember what language you want between play sessions:
For some reason it took a new generation of consoles for EA to figure it out… But FIFA no longer asks what language you want to play the game in every time it starts
A number of sources have suggested that PlayStation icon and the God of War himself, Kratos, will be coming to Fortnite. He will be joined by Xbox icon, Master Chief, so the two can finally duke it out.
Both leaks have come from data miners and have been posted by various sources. Sony themselves have also teased that Kratos is joining the game by posting an audio log.
"The next guy you're picking up literally has vanquished multiple gods with his bare hands in a fit of uncontrollable rage," yep, that's Kratos. There are also rumours of Fortnite getting skins from The Mandalorian.
Epic have just launched the new monthly subscription service, Fortnite Crew, which bundles together each season's Battle Pass, 1,000 V-Bucks per month and a monthly Outfit Bundle that will be exclusive to subscribers.
The bundle costs £9.99 / $11.99 / €11.99 per month, so a few pennies shy of £120 across a whole year, though you can stop and resume whenever you wish without losing access to anything you've paid for at that point.
That does leave a question mark over its comparative value. 1,000 V-Bucks is now sold for £6.49 after Epic gave a permanent 20% price cut on all platforms except iOS and the Google Play Store – we'll come back to this point – and a battle pass costs 950 V-Bucks, with a new season coming along roughly every 3 months. Since you can earn the value of a Battle Pass through its reward chain each season, that's potentially an extra 4,000 V-Bucks for players to spend.
A little napkin math puts the battle pass and monthly V-Bucks at a value of £102.54.
The real value for players will come through the monthly Outfit Bundle, though. Epic state that these are only for subscribers and "will never be sold or given away to non-Crew members." That will be particularly alluring for fans when skins in the Items store cost 800, 1,200, 1,500 or 2,000 V-Bucks depending on how highly Epic decide to rate their rarity. Source: Twitter