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Microsoft celebrates Xbox One's first year with gifts to lucky fans

Early Xbox One purchasers: Today might be your lucky day. A post on Major Nelson's blog explains that in celebration of the Xbox One's first year on the market, console owners will be "selected at random to receive a special gift from us." The blog post offers a full list of potential prizes, but highlights include the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Sunset Overdrive console bundles and a one-year subscription to Xbox Live Gold. Free copies of Limbo, as seen in the above image tweeted by Xbox's Jeff Rubenstein, are also planned as a thank-you to Day One console adopters.

Luck won't be the driving factor for everything related to the anniversary, however. Fans 17 or older that have used their console for more than 10 hours, reside in one of the original 13 markets for Xbox One and made their purchase between November 22, 2013 - November 11, 2014 will receive The Year One Celebration box. The bundle contains a Year One-themed gamer picture, dashboard background, desktop image and free rentals of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods. Those living in the US and Canada will also get a sampler pack of Dragon Ball Z episodes.

Aside from free stuff, Xbox crunched a few community-wide statistics to see what Xbox One owners accomplished in their first year. The communal Gamerscore total earned on Xbox One has surpassed 11 billion, which was earned throughout two billion hours of play. The year's four most-earned achievements include Forza Motorsport 5's "Welcome to Forza Motorsport," Titanfall's "Build Yourself," Destiny's "Ship Rite" and Call of Duty: Ghosts' "Spatial Awareness."

Happy birthday, Xbox One.
[Image: Microsoft]

Assassin's Creed: Unity title screen crash workaround: remove your friends

Assassin's Creed: Unity has been plagued with bugs and glitches since launch, and developer/publisher Ubisoft has already issued several patches to combat the game's problems. Still, not all the kinks have been ironed out. For example, if you're experiencing crashes at the main menu, according to a recent posting to the game's live updates blog - which details fixes and workarounds as Ubisoft discovers and releases them - you can blame your friends.

"We have discovered one of the issues that may cause the game to crash at the main menu after pressing the CONTINUE button. This issue affects all platforms," Ubisoft wrote on its Unity update blog. "For players who haven't experienced this issue, we highly recommend you take the following steps to prevent a crash: Do not add any IN-GAME RECENT PLAYER as a GAME CONTACT. If you already have GAME CONTACTS ... remove them."

Ubisoft writes that a fix is in the works. In the meantime, in the city of Paris, we are all strangers.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Buy Evolve, scare up game on its DLC maps for free

Evolve's initial monster hunts will be followed by extra safaris on DLC maps, but all players will be able to explore the game's additional hunting grounds for free. Developer Turtle Rock Studios' Creative Director Phil Robb shared the good news with IGN, explaining that the team wanted to avoid making players sit matches out just because they haven't bought the right DLC.

Furthermore, those who decline to buy extra hunters or monsters will still be able to partake in matches where other players are using them. Robb explained that beyond Evolve's base purchase, the team wanted to avoid making the community "feel like they have to buy anything in order to enjoy the game."

Robb reminded us that in addition to the Savage Goliath skin for one of Evolve's launching beasts, pre-orders will result in capturing Evolve's first DLC monster for free. If you're the two-with-one-stone efficiency type, GameStop will also have exclusive pre-order bonuses in the form of weapon skins for the Exterminator class.
[Image: 2K Games]

Unannounced Double Fine game canceled, 12 staff let go

Double Fine, the development studio behind games like Broken Age and Costume Quest 2, has been hit with a wave of layoffs. Gamasutra reports that 12 staff were let go after an unannounced project fell through with a publisher, though the studio will continue its work on other games unimpeded.

"Our remaining projects - Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Grim Fandango Remastered, were unaffected," studio founder Tim Schafer told Gamasutra. Neither the publisher in question nor the reason for the unannounced game's cancellation were disclosed.
[Image: Double Fine]

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U video review: Fight club


We concluded our written examination of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U last evening, but with a discerning absence of gifs within our review, we had to find another way to heed our fondness for moving pictures. The above video review offers a visually-oriented breakdown of Smash for Wii U's leading features, including eight-player battles, the Smash Tour board game and customizable special moves, but a general breakdown is also included for anyone just tuning in to Nintendo's hectic mascot fighter.
[Image: Nintendo]

Mini DayZ is what DayZ would have been like in 1994

You can now play DayZ for free using a web browser ... kind of. Mini DayZ, a fan-made tribute to Bohemia Interactive's zombie apocalypse survival game, has been posted to the publisher's website and is now free to play via Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera. It's missing a few features - namely 3D graphics and multiplayer - but if you ever wondered to yourself, 'What if we gave DayZ a top-down camera and retro graphics," now is your chance to find out.

Mini DayZ is the work of CannedBits, a Russian player of Dean "Rocket" Hall's DayZ (which, in case you need a history primer, is a standalone game that began life as a mod for Arma 2 and arguably boosted the multiplayer survival genre into prominence). In posting the news about the game's availability via Bohemia to Reddit, CannedBits even caught the attention of Hall himself:

"I have to say, I absolutely love Mini DayZ," Hall wrote. "I think it's awesome, amazing, addictive, and brings something really new to the experience. I'm so glad you've been able to make it even better! Ignore the haters, the vast majority of people think it's fantastic and I am one of those people."
[Image: Bohemia Interactive/CannedBits]

Get a closer look at final retail Amiibos

Image The taxidermy of fictional characters is big business, especially if you have a cast as colorful and as prone to pugilism as Nintendo's bunch. We've toyed with the retail versions of Nintendo's starting Amiibo lineup for our Smash Bros. review (now updated with a score) and took some shots for your... Continue Reading

Thomas Was Alone on Xbox One, then he wasn't

Thomas Was Alone, Mike Bithell's geometric platformer full of personality, is out on Xbox One today, courtesy of ID@Xbox and port developer Curve Studios. The folks at Xbox call Thomas Was Alone an "indie classic," and after winning a BAFTA and launching on PC, iOS, Android, PS3, Vita, and now Xbox One – with a PS4 launch incoming – that seems accurate. Or, as Curve Studios puts it:

Also on Xbox One this week via ID@Xbox is The Jackbox Party Pack, Never Alone, Pier Solar and the Great Architects, and Pinball Arcade.
[Image: Mike Bithell]

Real Racing creator developing Need for Speed: No Limits for mobile


Electronic Arts has tapped Melbourne-based developer Firemonkeys for its upcoming mobile-exclusive Need for Speed sequel Need for Speed: No Limits, the publisher announced this week.

FIremonkeys (formerly Firemint) established itself in the mobile marketplace with its sim-styled Real Racing series, later producing iOS and Android ports of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Electronic Arts acquired the studio in 2011, acting as publisher for the 2013 free-to-play sequel Real Racing 3.

Need for Speed: No Limits is due to launch next year for iOS and Android devices.

[Video: EA]

Nintendo delists homebrew-enabling 3DS game in Japan

Nintendo has removed AQ Interactive's Nintendo 3DS puzzler Cubic Ninja from Japan's eShop (the only region in which it saw a digital release) after details regarding an in-game exploit were revealed earlier this week.

The exploit, which requires a modified save file and a copy of Cubic Ninja, reportedly enables the use of homebrew games and applications on Nintendo's handheld. It does not currently enable piracy of commercial games -- a widespread issue that plagued the Nintendo DS throughout its lifespan.

After the exploit was announced, used copies of Cubic Ninja shot up in price on eBay, Amazon, and through other third-party sellers. The North American version of the game currently fetches prices in excess of $40 on Amazon, while several recent eBay auctions have ended at over $30. A similar phenomenon spiked Lumines prices when a homebrew-enabling buffer overflow exploit was discovered for Sony's PSP in 2007.

[Image: AQ Interactive]

Undead cyborg Raidou joins Dead or Alive 5: Last Round

Apparently not even death can keep fighters from joining Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, as the chrome-plated corpse of resurrected final boss Raidou will appear in the upcoming fighting game.

For those unfamiliar, Raidou is the uncle of series' stars Hayate and Kasumi, only he's been exiled from the family's ninja clan for being a bit too deadly. The ninjas approved of the killing itself, but the ensuing maniacal laughter and aura of darkness worried them. Kasumi killed Raidou at the end of the original Dead or Alive, but according to Team Ninja, Raidou's body has been recovered by evil industrialist Victor Donovan and repurposed into a cyborg for Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. Unfortunately, the procedure left Raidou with not only a patchy memory, but also an enhanced bloodlust.

Dead or Alive 5: Last Round launches on February 17, 2015. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game will be priced at $40, while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 releases will feature $30 price tags.
[Image: Koei Tecmo]

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Barely Related: Star-Lord's dance-off, comet sounds

We'd like to take this moment to clearly and firmly state our collective opinion of actor Chris Pratt: He's adorable.

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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WRUP: Reviews

OK, we're pretty much at the end of the road for reviews in 2014. There's more than enough to play at this point. Like, way more than enough. Now we get down to the game of the year conversations.

What's everyone playing this weekend?

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When AI goes mad: A Grand Theft Auto 5 traffic jam

Image Honestly? It's still not as bad as the traffic in LA. [Image: Rockstar Games] ... Continue Reading

Meet Killer Instinct's next fighter, the sorceror Kan-Ra

After weeks of teasing fans, developer Double Helix has unveiled the next fighter to join Season 2 of Killer Instinct, an ancient sorcerer named Kan-Ra.

"Didn't Double Helix claim Kan-Ra would not be a mummy? Wasn't there even a #notamummy hashtag in use for a while?" you wonder. Yes, the developer repeatedly said that Kan-Ra is not a mummy, and he isn't (technically, sort of). In lieu of revived Egyptian royalty, Kan-Ra is a 2,534-year-old sorcerer from Ancient Babylon who betrayed his king and was exiled for an assassination attempt. Instead of aging gracefully, Kan-Ra used dark magics to slow the decomposition of his body. Double Helix offers no explanation for the decidedly mummy-style bandages, so we're just chalking that up to a universal undead fashion sense.

Beyond the break you'll find footage of Kan-Ra in action. Be sure to stay to the end. There's a tease that should excite old-school Killer Instinct fans.

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Super Joystiq Podcast 122: Far Cry 4, GTA V, Assassin's Creed Rogue, WWE 15

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