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New expansion takes Forza Horizon 2 off-roading in a storm

Open-world racing hit Forza Horizon 2 grows a little larger today with the launch of the Storm Island expansion, a DLC addition that adds new cars, new areas and new events to the already sizable racer.

Like the Rally Expansion Pack for the original Forza Horizon, the Storm Island expansion is decidedly focused on off-road racing, especially in bad weather and at night. In lieu of svelte Lamborghinis, the expansion opts for six new, more rugged vehicles, such as the Dakar Rally-winning Mini All4 Racing X-Raid and the 1985 MG Metro 6R4 Group B. The expansion also adds 90 new events and five new event types to Forza Horizon 2, including competitive midnight drives through the forest in the midst of a tropical storm that are just as tense as they sound.

The Storm Island expansion is slated to launch today at a price of $20. It is not included in the Forza Horizon 2 Car Pass, but Forza Horizon VIPs receive a discount and can purchase the expansion from the Xbox Live Marketplace for $10. Beyond the break you'll find a trailer highlighting the expansion's more dramatic moments.
[Image: Microsoft]

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EVE Online speeds up game installation and access

To "get people into the game quicker," CCP is smoothing out the download and installation process for EVE Online. This new method of deployment is scheduled to go into service at the start of 2015.

This means that the installation package will go from a 7GB download to a zippy 200MB one instead. Once that game client is up and running, it will then download the rest of the game's resources as needed.

"On a fast connection you probably won't notice much of a difference -– load times may be slightly longer at times. As you play more, more resources will be cached and fewer and fewer need to be downloaded. The client will be smart about pre-fetching resources it expects will be needed soon," the team said.

Joystiq Deals: 2-in-1 Lightning and Micro-USB charging cable

Joystiq Deals has a discount for you today that will keep your mobile devices fully charged and ready for action. Today's StackSocial-branded six-foot charging cable features both Lightning and Micro-USB plugs, making it an ideal all-in-one charging solution for phones, tablets, game controllers, and other electronic devices.

Normally priced at $40, our cable is available today for $21 ($22.99 with international shipping). Pick one up and keep your iOS or Android phone running at full capacity whenever you need it -- you'll be glad you did.

Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Guild Wars 2 kicks off Wintersday events

The event avalanche of Guild Wars 2's Wintersday has gotten up to full speed and is currently roaring down upon the game's population.

Today's update activates the previous years' Wintersday content as well as a few new additions. There's the Wondrous Workshop to explore, jumping puzzles, bell choir minigames, the Snowball Mayhem battle royale, and a quest to track down Grawnk to get a Wintersday tree for home instances.

The patch also activates a couple of PvP events, new Wintersday-themed cash shop cosmetics, the daily login rewards, and the latest overhaul of the daily achievement system.

Halo: Master Chief Collection patch aims at stability, matchmaking

Halo: The Master Chief Collection received another patch this week aimed at fixing the game collection's matchmaking, parties, roster and other issues. The latest update is expected to improve the "reliability" of matchmaking and also guarantee that split-screen, local multiplayer friends are always on the same team in Halo 2. Microsoft said that players should have fewer problems when joining or managing their parties as well. The Master Chief Collection's update should improve stability across the game's menus, campaign playlists, matchmaking and custom games. Full patch notes are available on 343 Industries' blog.

The four-game Halo collection launched in November for Xbox One and was met with a number of issues, primarily in the game's online components. It led to an apology from 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross, who said the developer did not deliver "the experience [players] deserve," and that the developer would "make this right" with its fans. 343 Industries also received criticism for a promotion earlier this month that gave Xbox Live Rewards members that purchased the collection $15 in marketplace credit. The developer says another update is in the works to fix a "Legacy" control option issue in Halo 2 and Halo 4, and will offer further content updates to improve the collection.

Joystiq Streams: Silent night, Dying Light

Do not go gentle into that zombie fight/shambling corpses should burn and rave at close of day/Rage, rage against the hordes of Dying Light.

Techland has been working on the zombie apocalypse train for years now, determined to make the best possible open world overrun with stumbling undead freaks they possibly can. What started as a third Dead Island game became something else entirely when they realized just how big and parkour-ready a world they were building. When Dying Light became its own beast, though, Techland was forced to delay it nearly a full year. While the game's still not done, Joystiq does have its hands on a preview version of the game, and we're ready to rage against the dying. Or the dead, as the case may be. is broadcasting Dying Light live at 4:00PM EST. Xav de Matos (@Xav) will be playing while Susan Arendt (@SusanArendt) and Anthony John Agnello (@AJohnAgnello) hang in the chat. broadcasts live every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM EST. Starting this week, though, Joystiq will be streaming at all hours, revisiting the games of 2014. Follow us on Twitch to catch us whenever we go live.

[Images: WBIE]

The Transformers Universe MOBA is shutting down

Bad news today, folks: MOBA Transformers Universe will close before it even leaves beta as part of Jagex's and Hasbro's efforts to "realign their plans and focuses for 2015." UK developer Jagex had posted about impending layoffs for the TU team back in November, but it appears that it's really game over now:
The shutdown period will begin from today. As part of the winding down we will be refunding all those that have purchased a Founders Pack, as well as anyone that has purchased relic bundles and starter packs. These refunds should be all processed in the next 30 days. In addition we will be closing the ability for new players to make accounts, those of you that already have accounts will continue to be able to use them until the closure date. [...] We will also be pushing an update live today that will switch off the ability for players to buy any more relic packs, or starter bundles.

[O]n 31st Jan 2015 @ 10am GMT we will be shutting down all servers and forums and will freeze all Transformers Universe related accounts. These accounts will then be live for another 60 days (approx.) for any final queries before deletion on 31st March 2015. Between now and the date of closure the Jagex CM team will continue to operate on the forums and we will provide relevant updates on the website as necessary.
Jagex asks players to contact the customer services team if they have not received their refunds by January 16th. Our hearts go out to the players and developers who hoped to see the title succeed.

Landmark visual novel Steins;Gate heads west on PS3, Vita next year

Acclaimed Japanese visual novel Steins;Gate will be localized and released in North America and Europe next year for the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, publisher PQube announced today.

Taking place on the streets of Japanese electronics shopping district Akihabara, Steins;Gate tells a sci-fi tale in which its characters can change past events by sending text messages through time. The mystery deepens when the cast receives replies from a dystopian future hinting at a world-changing conspiracy revolving around the Large Hadron Collider.

Steins;Gate topped PC sales charts in Japan for many consecutive months following its initial release in 2010, spawning multiple spinoffs and ports for the Xbox 360, PSP, and mobile platforms. While an English-language PC version premiered earlier this year via JAST USA, PQube's upcoming localization will mark Steins;Gate's first appearance on consoles in North America and Europe.

Speaking to Siliconera, PQube head of marketing Geraint Evans revealed that the company is pursuing a retail launch in addition to a digital release via the PlayStation Network. "I'm personally against digital-only releases, so I will do my very best to ensure a physical release happens," Evans stated.

[Image: PQube]

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WildStar's next big update and holiday surprise

Now if you'd jut say that Glory is available from shiphands, we'd be moving somewhere!
The first major WildStar update of 2015 is available on the test servers now. Yes, there's a little time before it actually goes live for everyone. Creative Director Chad Moore took the opportunity today to explain to the community everything contained within the new update, starting with the addition of two new dungeons (the Protostar Academy and the Ultimate Protogames), a new Shiphand mission, and the addition of veteran-level Shiphand missions that can still be cleared solo or in a group as you'd like.

This update also includes new housing options, cosmetic options for characters (including the ability to edit your appearance post-character creation), and the addition of the new Glory currency for completing dungeons and raids, which can be exchanged for high-end equipment. Last but not least, it's the update that includes the long-discussed drop of the Datascape raid down to 20 players, making it less of a challenge to assemble a roster for this content. While it remains to be seen how well the update actually plays, it looks to be filled with a number of positive changes for the game.

In other WildStar news today, the studio is running holiday promotion during December. "Carbine wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and spread some cheer by giving out 12 Days of Boom Boxes," wrote Community Manager Tony Rey yesterday. "Everyone that has logged into WildStar during the month of December (12/1-12/15) will receive these sweet little bundles of potential."

GTA Online heists breaking and entering 2015 with new trailer

Grand Theft Auto 5 will get its cooperative online heist missions in early 2015, Rockstar Games revealed today. The developer originally expected to add heists to GTA Online this past spring, apologizing for the delay later in June. As of November, Rockstar said online heists would surface in the game's online world following GTA 5's next-gen launch.

As the latest trailer for the game shows, the online heist missions appear to feature a number of vehicles, such as planes and helicopters; you can head past the break to sneak a peek. We deemed the updated edition of Grand Theft Auto 5 the "definitive version" of the chaotic open-world game in our review.

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Humble Bundle milestones: $50M to charity, $100M to devs

Humble Bundle has raised more than $50 million for charity since launching its first sale in May 2010 – the Humble Indie Bundle, as it was called back then. That bundle introduced the idea of "pay what you want" pricing and offered customers power over the allocation of their payments, plus the chance to do something good for charity. Specifically for that first promotion, it was the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play Charity.

"When my co-founder Jeff [Rosen] first contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play for our first promotion, no one knew who we were," Humble co-founder John Graham tells Joystiq. "After pitching the confusing idea, in probably too much detail, he was cut off: 'So let me get this straight, you are basically asking if you can give us money? Sure!'"

Humble Bundle now supports a roster of more than 50 charitable organizations and has expanded with weekly bundles, ebook bundles, mobile bundles and the Humble Store, which by itself raised $1 million for charity by June 2014. That very first Humble Bundle raised roughly $400,000 for charity – $200,000 each for EFF and Child's Play – at the time an "incomprehensible" amount to John Graham.

"It produced a lot of pressure to keep going," he says. "Our potential to raise another $400,000 for charity felt like a moral obligation. Raising more than two orders of magnitude beyond that goal was not something we ever considered."

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Countdown to 2015 Xbox sale starts: Dark Souls 2, Resident Evil, more

Microsoft kicked off its "Countdown to 2015" sale today on the Xbox Store, discounting a myriad of games with bigger price cuts for Xbox Live Gold members. This week's deals are good until December 22 and feature Lords of the Fallen at 40 percent off, Thief at 67 percent off, Wolfenstein: The New Order for half-price and The Evil Within at half-off as well for Xbox One, among a slew of other games.

Microsoft also discounted The Crew/Assassin's Creed: Unity as well as The Crew/Far Cry 4 bundles by 25 percent for the week. Two Xbox One games are also on sale for today only: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its season pass are each 33 percent off and Lego: The Hobbit is 50 percent off.

Among the many Xbox 360 games on sale this week, Dark Souls 2 is half-off, Tomb Raider is 67 percent off, Halo: Spartan Assault and Dance Central 3 are each 67 percent off and BioShock Infinite's price is slashed by 85 percent. A handful of games in the Resident Evil series are discounted this week as well, such as Resident Evil 5, Revelations and Code Veronica X by 67 percent each, Raccoon City by 75 percent and Resident Evil 6 by 50 percent. Lego: The Hobbit is also discounted by 67 percent on Xbox 360 for today only, and Lego Lord of the Rings is 75 percent off. The full list of this week's deals can be found after the break.

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Destiny goes dark below $30 (well, it's $29.99) on Amazon

If you've been patiently holding out on Destiny, if the Dark Below expansion is prompting a relapse, or if you've always fancied a picnic in space with Bill Nighy, then head on over to Amazon. PS4 and Xbox One copies are half-price there at $29.99, but that's for today only.

Bungie's galactic shooter kicks off another round of Iron Banner today, and that's scheduled to end on December 22. While the player-vs-player event won't feature Dark Below maps this time around, Lord Saladin has exclusive level 31 gear to tempt you back to the Crucible.
[Image: Activision-Blizzard]

Shadow of Mordor rings in Lord of the Hunt DLC today

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor today welcomes into its fellowship the "Lord of the Hunt," Warner Bros. informs Joystiq. The DLC will be available to purchase on its own for $10, or you can acquire it through the $25 you-shall-not season pass. Lord of the Hunt is already available on Xbox One, and should hit PS4 and PC in North America later today.

As previously detailed, the DLC offers new story content courtesy of Dwarven Hunter Torvin, as well a bunch of extras. There are Uruk Beastmaster Warchiefs to fight, new beast-hunting challenges to take on, an Ultimate Beastmaster skin for Talion, five new epic runes for mounts, and more. But, most importantly of all, you get a toxin-puking Wretched Graug to mount and make your friends sick with jealousy. Or sick with something, at least.

Hunt down the DLC's rather bloody, perhaps NSFW launch trailer below the break.

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Save the cheerleader later, watch Until Dawn's PSX demo now

When Sony debuted a new Until Dawn sequence at PlayStation Experience, the whole thing took on the surreal feel of a game show. As Supermassive's Pete Samuels walked through the choices in the teen horror game, the crowd yelled out their votes for what he should do next. It was almost like if he didn't hide under the bed, he'd miss out on the golden ticket and the chance to win $100,000 in pet food.

As shown by the full, crowd-less gameplay demo below the break, Until Dawn speaks to very familiar horror film tropes. In the video, Hayden Panettiere's character runs around a dark cabin in a towel, while a masked, blood-soaked assailant chases her. She also encounters a deep, distorted voice booming over a speaker, and the odd bit of gruesomeness to unsettle the squeamish. If that sounds NSFW and/or spoiler-y to you, consider yourself warned.

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 123: Persona Q, Tales from the Borderlands, Escape Dead Island

Latest episode: Friday, November 28th, 2014

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