In March, Square Enix President Yoichi Wada stepped down and the company announced widespread restructuring that it expected to cost $106 million. Square Enix posted a net loss of $134 million for fiscal year 2013, citing "weak" sales of major console games, including Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider, the last of which sold 3.4 million in its first month.
The original press release for Need for Speed Rivals made no mention of a PC version; however, the PR has since been amended revealing the PC version will arrive on November 19 alongside the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game. Xbox One and PS4 versions will launch "later this year."
Other than differences in graphical fidelity and online player count, Rivals features differences in its new marquee feature "AllDrive" across current- and next-gen systems. AllDrive is the ability for the game to "seamlessly" adapt to player interaction as they cross paths in the open-world space. On next-gen consoles, players will have unspecified exclusive ways to interact with the game using other devices.
Nilsson would not detail if the PC version's feature-set would be based on the current- or next-gen platform versions.
Expanding on how AllDrive would work, Nilsson offered an example of how the game would react to friends in the same world engaged in separate chases that come across each other. With the new feature, Need for Speed Rivals would recognize player proximity and any current missions and automatically shift objectives and scoring to that of a traditional co-op encounter. Players can enter and exit each other's worlds to race and interact "on-the-fly." The core features of AllDrive will be available on all platforms.
For more on Need for Speed Rivals, read our reveal post with additional comments from the game's executive producer.
[Ed. Note: This post was updated to reflect changes to the announcement press release.]
Powered by Frostbite 3, Rivals aims to utilize the power of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to give players "the freedom to seamlessly go from single player to co-op to multiplayer" when it releases "later this year." [Update: This story has been updated for accuracy, removing mention of a release window for the next-gen versions from an outdated release draft.]
Need for Speed Rivals transports players to the fictitious Redview County, an open-world environment where players can take on the role as either street racer or police officer. Like Most Wanted before it, racers aim to become the most infamous person behind the wheel, while cops attempt to work together to drive the area's high-risk inhabitants off the road. Players can personalize the experience with custom license plates, paint, liveries decals and rims, and performance upgrades.
Current-generation consoles will also join the rivalry – powered by its own version of Frostbite 3 – on November 19. A PC version is also in the works.
The ruined-world game hinges on a realistic day/night cycle, as well as the agility and Parkour skills of the protagonist turned traceur. Day is pitched as a preparation phase, in which you scavenge a warmly lit urban wasteland for supplies and craft weapons to fend off undead walkers. The night requires a stealthier approach, if not a swift homeward retreat from deadlier monsters.
Combat in Dying Light appears to be largely based on upgradeable melee weaponry (eg. an electrified machete), with bone-breaking blows triggering an x-ray visual effect. Zombies can also be pushed into spiked walls with a jump-kick to the chest.
The frequency of fighting drops once night arrives and faster, more powerful creatures emerge. These can be detected via an on-screen pulse – one of the abilities you have by virtue of being an infected human yourself. When the monsters of the night do give chase, the camera can quickly flip 180 degrees to show their proximity, even while you dash and vault in the opposite direction. Movement certainly appears to be more fluid than in Techland's Dead Island, with which Dying Light shares a theme of smashing zombies in the tropical sun.
The openness of the environment, overall game structure and the true nature of nightfall, the publisher says, are details left for another day.
At first glance Shelter looks kind of cuddly; you play a badger mother looking after her cubs in some pleasant looking greenery. Pid developer Might & Delight is billing its next game as anything but. As this early footage shows, you'll have to hunt other animals for food, and avoid becoming prey yourself. That inferno at the end isn't too cuddly either.
Shelter, announced earlier this year, is still foraging on Steam Greenlight. Might & Delight's plans are to release it into the wilds of PC and Mac towards the end of this summer.
"That was the hardest ten grand I've ever made. And I was a paperboy," Creighton tweeted.
Pre-orders are still open, and the Kickender is now on goal two, which is "Act 3, Adequately Animated." Check out Creighton's pre-order pitch video on the Spellirium site, but be warned – once you open the page, it auto-plays some intense medieval folk music.
Spellirium is also up for a run on Steam via Greenlight.
It's not that there are too many indie games; it's that there aren't enough hours in a day to play all of them. The Joystiq Indie Pitch curates the best indies to play now and watch out for in the future.
Our game is called Jamsouls. We took inspiration from the famous tale of Pandora's Box to create crazy battles between naughty evil creatures in a vivid and colourful arena!
How have sales and visibility been on XBLIG? Is $1 a good price point for Jamsouls?
XBLIG has poor visibility compared to other games featured on the Xbox Marketplace. We feel that the platform is dying slowly, and that Microsoft is not really interested in this indie scene anymore, which is a shame.
We chose the price of $1 because we wanted the game to have maximum exposure. The price of 80 points is very reasonable for anyone wanting to try the game out.
Downtrodden horror author Alan Wake stars in the latest Humble Weekly Sale, which offers up downloadable Windows versions of Remedy's third-person shooter Alan Wake and its follow-up American Nightmare for a buyer-chosen price (minimum $1).
Bundle buyers will receive DRM-free downloads of Alan Wake: Collector's Edition and Alan Wake's American Nightmare, along with Steam keys for both games. The package features a bevy of bonus material, including digital comic books, a playthrough video, and standalone episodes of the Remedy-produced "Night Springs" fictional television series – new episodes of which Joystiq debuted last year.
Xbox Live hosts its own Alan Wake series sale this week. Through May 29, the Xbox 360 Games on Demand version of Alan Wake is priced at 400 Microsoft points ($5), while the Xbox Live Arcade follow-up American Nightmare is a dollar cheaper at 320 points. Alan Wake DLC and avatar items are also on sale through next week.
In the announcement video above, Remedy's Sam Lake (who you might recognize as Max Payne's face model) reveals that the Alan Wake series has sold over three million units to date, and addresses fan reaction to the company's decision to develop the upcoming Xbox One-exclusive title Quantum Break, rather than an Alan Wake sequel.
"We definitely want to keep on working on Alan Wake," Lake assures. "I definitely want to create something new for Alan Wake, when the time is right."
The Faction and Chronicle packs are the first listed, each aimed at continuing the single-player story of Metro: Last Light. Faction is due first, in June. The Tower pack will be aimed at Metro veterans, offering "a unique solo challenge." Finally, the Developer pack aims to offer some additional tools aiding in exploration. All season pass purchases will also unlock an exclusive semi-automatic shotgun rifle, while each piece of DLC will be available for individual purchase.
Metro: Last Light launched on May 14, with our review placing it in the company of another story-driven shooter, Half-Life. The game was originally set to be published by THQ, but after the studio's fall Deep Silver came in and acquired the game.
After clearing its $70,000 goal more than a week in advance, the A.N.N.E. Kickstarter has concluded at $100,272. The total is enough to unlock three of ANNE's stretch goals, namely Mac & Linux versions, gender swap mode and achievements, and New Game+. While stretch goals for Ouya, PSN/Vita and Wii U versions were not met, creator Moise "Mo" Breton promised in a previous update that these versions will still be made, though it will take longer.
Mo, whom we interviewed back in April, also posted an inspirational thank you video on YouTube, which retells the whole experience and, more importantly, heavily features his adorable children. "From now on, it's all about making the game," said Mo, thanking supporters for allowing him to develop full-time. He is planning to make monthly updates throughout development. ANNE is planned to launch in early to mid 2014.
Stompy Bot Productions and Mektek Studios have launched their Kickstarter project for Heavy Gear Assault, the return of the mech combat game originally introduced by Dream Pod 9, with later games published by Activision.
The multiplayer e-sports-focused, Unreal Engine 4-powered game is in development for PC and will be free-to-play with premium subscriptions options available for players. The development team is seeking $800,000 by June 29, with a dozen stretch goals already planned for the funding project.
As per the version released for consoles last year, Komplete Edition features all the game's DLC, with the expanded roster including a certain Freddy Kreuger (the regular creepy kind), Kenshi, Scarlet, and Rain. Conduit and Kinect Star Wars developer High Voltage Games, who've just released the "addictive" puzzler Zoombies for iOS, is handling the PC port.
The new Kinect features a 1080P HD RGB camera, 30 FPS color, Time of Flight technology, and microphone arrays. It has a greater sense of depth and field of view compared to the original Kinect, and thanks to infrared tech it can see in the dark. Microsoft showed us how the sensor can track two player profiles, each tied to a controller, and also demonstrated how it can estimate players' heart rates.
Each Xbox One ships with the device. The console launches later this year.
The Firaxis bundle headlines Amazon's Digital Mayhem promotion, with other discounts spanning Telltale's The Walking Dead, Battlefield 3, BioShock, Mark of the Ninja and many more. The sale ends on May 31, so feel free to take your time perusing the hundreds of eligible discounts.
"If you look at Call of Duty in general, you're on the high-tech, super-powered forces. You're America, you're strong, you're Britain, Germany," Rubin told Joystiq at a recent press event in Los Angeles. "It just felt like, what if we could reverse those roles a bit, what if we had America as the underdog and not the superpower? What if we had some other countries as the big superpower and we're fighting against this more technologically superior force. And so that is really where we got: now we've got this technologically superior super force, they devastate the western world, the US, with a weapon of mass destruction of some kind - I'm not going to go into that, it will come later, and what we did is we had that event start the game, but the story picks up ten to fifteen years later and you as a soldier grew up in this new changed world."
That soldier will be a focal point for the game, Rubin said, and won't contribute to the fractured, multi-perspective narratives for which the series has drawn ire in the past. "It's not like before where you have these multiple sides and trot around. You're pretty much the same person throughout."
You'll also be accompanied by a Navy SEAL dog (not to be confused with a Moreau-style seal-dog), which can sniff out dangers and aid the team in several ways as a companion AI of sorts. As you might expect from a production of Ghosts' caliber, Infinity Ward did full motion capture on a retired SEAL dog.
The latest Call of Duty, dubbed Ghosts, has drafted Syriana and Traffic writer Stephen Gaghan to provide its fiction.
Games don't get more Hollywood than Call of Duty, and Activision has shown little hesitance in acquiring composers and writers from the silver screen to aid in its ever bigger and brasher efforts. Gaghan's work on Traffic, a dour crime drama, and political thriller Syriana made him a standout candidate for Ghosts. The game follows the remainder of the US military in a world scarred by a weapon of mass destruction.
According to developer Infinity Ward, Gaghan didn't swoop in and drop off a script – he requested an office, and worked from one amidst the game's single-player team all throughout the game's production. That's a sterling gesture, but I asked Call of Duty: Ghosts executive producer Mark Rubin to explain why Gaghan was deemed suitable to write for players, not viewers.
"Basically, we looked at his work – he's a great writer, no doubt about it and that's fine, there are probably lots of great writers out there," Rubin said. "So what we did is we actually got the chance to talk to him a long time before we decided to go forward with it. And we realized he was getting it. We've had writers before, and they know how to write, but they don't understand the game aspect of it.
"And I feel like with Gaghan, he really understood what we were trying to do. He asked more questions than try to sell himself, and that was, I think, a really big selling point. He was asking how things work and how we do things, and was really interested in how we craft the story, not from a writing standpoint but from the visuals and gameplay. He was really asking more questions. Although he was a gamer – he knew it from that side – he didn't know it from the dev side. He really was asking a lot of questions about the dev side, he really wanted to know more. I think that interest in what we were doing is really what drove us to him."
Brave New World, the second expansion to Civilization 5, is due in July and will add nine new civilizations, several new wonders and modified mechanics from the base game. The first expansion, Gods and Kings, arrived last summer, adding new espionage and religious mechanics.
Other games on sale for up to 75 percent off this week are Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, Wasteland Angel, Lords of Football, Spectraball: Extended Edition and Steel Storm: Burning Retribution. In software (and Greenlight) titles, game design tool articy: draft SE is $67 during this week's sale.
The weekly Steam sale ends on May 27 at 10 a.m. PT.
Meanwhile, a hearing in the state's lawsuit against the architects of the 38 Studios loan is scheduled for this Wednesday, after studio founder and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was unable to get the suit dismissed in March.
The sale of the studio's physical assets net the state approximately $830,000. Following the sale of the IP, Rhode Island tax payers will have to pay off the rest of the debt.
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