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Joystiq Weekly: Amazon buys Twitch, Madden 15 review, Early Access feature and more

Welcome to Joystiq Weekly, a "too long; didn't read" of each week's biggest stories, reviews and original content. Each category's top story is introduced with a reactionary gif, because moving pictures aren't just for The Daily Prophet.

PAX Prime 2014 is already underway, but as fun as joining a swarm of people buzzing around video game displays can be, you don't even have to leave the house to get this weekend's highlights. Well, unless your house is a black hole for Internet and phone reception ...

The point is, Joystiq is on the front lines of PAX Prime, ignoring sensible limitations to bring you a slew of news and previews. With this morning's proof that survival in numbers is a relative concept in Don't Starve Together and a reminder that thinking every MOBA is interchangeable is a mistake when it comes to Gigantic, the good stuff is already underway. There's always yesterday's reveal of Xbox One and PS4 versions of Saints Row 4 too, as well as a new, standalone expansion called Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.

Stick with us until PAX Prime's conclusion on Monday, September 1, and in return we'll tell you all about the show's highlights without subjecting you to the dreaded PAX Pox. For now though, we've got a full recap of this week's news, reviews and features. Amazon's surprise acquisition of Twitch, Nintendo's new 3DS models, reviews of Madden NFL 15 and The Walking Dead's season finale, an examination of what makes Early Access such a valuable space to developers ... it's all arranged neat and orderly-like for you after the break!

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Motiga's Gigantic makes a big first impression

In Motiga's Gigantic, a team of five players choose unique champions who must work together to effectively control a map and slaughter their enemies – another team of five players – with the ultimate goal of destroying the opposing team's Guardian, a valuable asset that lies in wait at the opposite end of the map.

On paper, it sounds like yet another MOBA, the rapidly-expanding genre pioneered by games like League of Legends and Dota 2. In practice however, while the game's DNA is undeniably colored by the m-word genre, you'd be doing the game a ... well, gigantic disservice to think of it as another imitator.

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Don't Starve Together is for people who 'just want to watch their friends burn'

Klei's cooperative Don't Starve expansion, Don't Starve Together, has the potential to bring you and your friends closer than ever before. That's when they'll least expect an axe in the face.

Don't Starve Together is unique in that it encourages both cooperative and competitive play. Plopped down in the middle of the unforgiving wilderness, up to four players team up to build a camp, hunt wildlife and eke out a meager existence, strengthened by their bonds of friendship.

The core Don't Starve experience can be much more forgiving, for instance, when you assign one friend to craft survival supplies while another goes and chops firewood. If you ran into any opposition alone and unprepared, you'd be in serious trouble, but with an armed buddy watching your back (and reviving you when you're overwhelmed), being stranded in the wilderness isn't so bad after all.

If one of your teammates decides to choose the pyromaniac character class, though, you could be in for a world of hurt.

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PAX Prime 2014: H1Z1's bears will end you

In most MMOs, bears are chunky cannon fodder: good for lowbie XP and a sad scrap of a pelt as loot. In H1Z1, bears are possibly more terrifying than zombies and gankers combined. At PAX Prime this weekend, Game Director Jimmy Whisenhunt explained that in this game, a bear attacked will run you down as fast as it does in nature and make a plaything of your skull. It's a good thing that they're relatively rare and give a warning roar before charging, otherwise the zombies would be coming to you for help.

Expanding the role of nature is essential to the immersion of H1Z1's survival aspect. Wolves, deer, and bear roam the countryside, getting into the occasional tiff with each other and the undead. They're useful if you can take them down quickly, since the harsh elements (such as rain and snow) will soon be programmed to degrade your well-being and those animal pelts could be made into clothes.

Whisenhunt walked us through the four essential stats to staying alive in this world. Stamina is for sprinting and attacks, and while it regenerates quickly, neglecting it will ensure your body will draw from your hydration and energy levels instead. Your health is also constantly ticking down and replenished by the food and water you drink, meaning that you'll always need to be looking for more to scarf up and quaff in your journeys. Stashing your food in your backpack is a good option, although the team is still tinkering with the style of inventory to make the limited storage another survival factor.

When H1Z1 goes into early access later this year, there will be one "vanilla" server on which no punches will be pulled (this is doubly true as all players will start with only their fists as weapons). Other types of servers, such as player-only or PvE rulesets, are possibilities once the team assesses how players are engaging the game in beta.

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GTA5's radio station getting with the times on PC, PS4, Xbox One

A scenic route through Grand Theft Auto 5's Los Santos will open up on PS4, Xbox One and PC this fall, but we might not be stuck blasting the same old programs from our totally-legally-acquired rides.

Cara Delevingne recently tweeted that she was "with @rockstargames to update my GTA[5] radio station Non Stop Pop FM" for this fall's ports, with Non Stop Pop being an adult contemporary station on GTA5's dial. Rockstar hasn't announced plans regarding radio content for the ports, so it's unclear whether we can hope for radio hosts other than Delevingne to swing by and freshen up their shows as well.

We're still waiting on a specific date for our returning trip to the San Andreas area, but in the mean time you can compare trailers from the original release and the upcoming port. Or you could join us at shaking our heads over Lindsey Lohan's latest leading role in ... a lawsuit with Rockstar.
[Image: Rockstar Games]

WRUP: PAX Prime 2014 is go!

Attending PAX Prime in Seattle this weekend? So is the Joystiq crew! Here's what we're up to.

What's everyone playing this weekend?

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Barely Related: Hello Kitty is not a cat and other nonsense

Deep breaths, everyone.

Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we're not stopping our focus on industry and gaming news. Think of this as your casual weekly recap of interesting (and mostly geeky) news, presented just in time to fill your brain with things to discuss at all of those weekend shindigs.

Grab a fresh drink, lean back in your armchair, and get ready to talk nerdy with us.

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Seen@PAX: The Behemoth's arcade

Above is the massive control panel that powers The Behemoth's untitled fourth game, currently codenamed "Game 4." After organizing their troops across a hex-based field, players confirm their selections with a tantalizing glowing green button, and send out orders by pulling an unusually shaped lever at their side, slot machine-style. After completing the PAX Prime demo, the screen instructs players to fill out a nearby comment card to rate the experience.

This isn't the only throwback hardware The Behemoth has on display at PAX, though. Hit the break below to get a look at some unique arcade cabinets created for Alien Hominid, Battleblock Theater, and Castle Crashers.

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Remasters of the universe: Obscure titles we want to revisit

It was no great shock when Sony released a PlayStation 4 version of its super-popular third-person title The Last of Us. Deep Silver bathing its new Metro franchise in the spotlight for next-gen consoles was no great surprise either.

A new generation seems to come with it a series of new versions of some of our favorite games. But what about the less obvious choices? Capcom bringing the original Resident Evil back makes sense, but what about Nintendo's cult-hit Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem?

The Joystiq staff has reached back into the last decade-plus for its obscure favorites to present a list of some games we would like to see make a return in remastered form.

Of course this is only a small slice of our favorite obscure games we'd want to revisit. Tell us your selections and why and they may be added to our gallery.

Hitman: Sniper evolves the downloadable pre-order bonus for mobile

Hitman: Sniper may carry a similar name as the Absolution pre-order bonus mini-game 'Hitman: Sniper Challenge' released in 2012, but the mobile and tablet device-exclusive is a new experience.

In the game first announced at E3 2014, players return to the scene of the crime as Agent 47 – the killer for hire anti-hero from the Hitman series. Players take up a perch and rid the world of 47's targets from afar. Though the game focuses on long-range sniping, earning a high score borrows from the tenets that make the main series a success. Even from a mile away and with a rifle, stealth and being creative are paramount.

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Peggle 2 pinballs, pachinkos to PS4

Peggle 2 is bouncing down to PS4 on October 14, PopCap Games announced today. The PS4 version includes classic and Xbox One version Peggle Masters.

Peggle 2 hit Xbox One at launch and the Xbox 360 in May, though in 2013 we learned that the game was bound for "as many platforms as possible," and a Korean rating for a PS4 version popped up that year. Surprise or not, Peggle 2 PS4 players can rejoice today (and again in October).
[Images: PopCap]

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Final Fantasy Type-0 launching within the next year

Final Fantasy Type-0 is expected to launch within the next year, Square Enix confirmed to Joystiq during a hands-off demo of the game at PAX Prime. The HD port of the Japan-only PSP game is a "speedy, action-oriented" spin on the series' formula, featuring real-time battles with 14 playable characters, three of which were shown in the demo. "We probably wouldn't age another year until it's released," the game's director Hajime Tabata said. Type-0's move to PS4 and Xbox One was announced at E3 in June.

Tabata stressed that Final Fantasy Type-0 is approaching a more mature tone in comparison to other games in the series, including magic and special abilities acting as "devastating attacks" that can cause enemies to burn to death, for example. Additionally, much of the feedback Square Enix received after launching the game in Japan revolved around its steep difficulty. To alleviate those concerns, the developer implemented four difficulty modes and tuned the combat balance so the HD port "makes sense for the big screen," Tabata explained.

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Titanfall Update 6 adds 8-on-8 combat with no 'bots

Developer Respawn has issued a new update for its flagship giant robot shooter, Titanfall, the highlight of which strips out said robots in favor of mano a mano gunplay.

Dubbed "Pilot Skirmish," the new gameplay mode removes both Titans and those pesky AI-controlled robots that most players view as vaguely intelligent cannon fodder. The result is a first-person shooter more akin to Halo or Call of Duty, but with the acrobatic movement and unique weaponry of Titanfall. Other changes include the addition of the "Marked for Death" mode to Titanfall's permanent roster of gameplay types, new UI options designed to aid colorblind players and the ability to win an "ultra-rare" Burn Card that allows players to access and use any Card from their stash during gameplay.

Game Update Six is now available to Titanfall players on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. For a full rundown of the update's tweaks, visit the game's official website.

Xbox One update adds Smartglass features, USB media playback

It's official, the Xbox One September update is poorly named, as it has already been released, days before September even begins. The update adds several new features, most notably the Media Player, which allows users to view and listen to media stored on a USB device. That includes pictures, music and movies. The player supports "dozens" of formats, according to Microsoft's Larry Hryb AKA Major Nelson. More formats will be added by the end of the year (including animated GIFs!), as will DLNA network playback.

SmartGlass gains the ability to post updates to your activity feed and read threaded messages. More importantly, SmartGlass can now be used to record gameplay clips. The party system gets some love as well, in particular the ability to require invitations and boot unwanted players. Users with limited internet plans will also be happy to know that the update now allows you to track your bandwidth usage. Perhaps the last noteworthy addition is the ability to have your Xbox One boot directly to TV when turned on.

Check out the video after the break for the full rundown of new features.
[Image: Microsoft]

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Game Show Night at PAX Prime: 3 hours of hilarious filth (and prizes!)

Is your life missing a deep, soul-warping sense of depravity? Could you use a few chuckles? Enjoy game shows? Has Joystiq got the PAX panel for you! As part of a long-running tradition, our own Managing Editor, Susan Arendt, will be hosting Blankety Blank, a disgusting but hilarious take on the classic game show Match Game.

Join Susan as she asks audience members to answer simple fill in the blank questions, in the hopes that their answers will match the answers of the five game industry panelists, including Russ Pitts of False Gravity, Kathleen de Vere and Graham Stark of Loading, Ready, Run, Chris Kohler of Wired and Ubisoft community manager Dan Amrich. The event begins at 9:00pm Pacific in the Hedgehog theatre at PAX. Fair warning (especially if you have kids): The panelists' answers will be filthy. Like, wash your mouth out with Borax filthy.

Blankety Blank is part of a massive, three hour long super panel, Game Show Night. The whole thing kicks of at 7:00pm Pacific with Pyramid, followed by Jeopardy at 8:00pm and, finally, Blankety Blank at 9:00pm.

If you're not attending PAX this weekend, you can catch all of Game Show Night on Twitch right here.


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Super Joystiq Podcast 110: The Walking Dead, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright, NHL 15

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