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Destiny review: Loot Loops

Ask people what Destiny is and you'll get plenty of different answers. It's an MMO. Or a cooperative shooter. An action-filled space opera. If you believe the marketing, it's an aggressively bold interactive experience that's never been attempted before. If you ask me, it's a dungeon crawler. Full stop.

If you peel away its well-oiled shooting mechanics, look past its social ambitions and set aside the grandiose affectations of its universe, you will find Destiny's loot-driven heart, pulsing with a familiar rhythm. Meet friends in town, visit a dungeon, slay monsters, gain loot and level up, regroup in town, repeat.

In many ways, Destiny makes this old rhythm feel vibrant and fresh, though not without missing a few beats.

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PSA: Destiny's Vault of Glass open for raiding

Once I had Destiny and it was a gas, soon turned out had a Vault of Glass. 80s flashbacks aside, the Vault of Glass raid is live in Bungie's shooter as of this morning, meaning teams of six players can take on what the studio says is "the most elaborate mission" it's ever created.

Bungie recommends you're level 26 or more before taking on the Venusian Vault; "while you may be able to access the raid before you reach Level 26, such acts would be very foolish," says the dev. You'll need to have a team of friends as raids don't support matchmaking, and Bungie warns it's unlikely you'll complete the mission in one go, so be prepared to progress in portions. While you can enter the vault at any time, if you do take a break during the raid your party has a one week limit to resume the mission, and you have follow the same team leader back into the vault.

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Disney Infinity's Toy Box 2.0 offered as standalone download

When Disney formally unveiled Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes in April, the publisher announced that the power discs and base from the first game would be compatible with the one slated to arrive next week. Instead of buying a starter pack for Disney Infinity 2.0 with a new base, returning players will have the option to download the new game's Toy Box mode separately starting on November 4.

The Toy Box mode has improved since the first game, offering options for procedurally generated content and themed templates.

Priced at $19.99, the standalone Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 game will be available for PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U players. The developer opted for a November release date to time the digital launch with its physical 2.0 Edition Play Sets as well as the game's Disney Originals series. North American players that download Toy Box 2.0 will receive both the Stitch's Tropical Rescue and Brave Forest Siege game discs for free, with details on the limited-time offer on the way from Disney Interactive as November approaches. Disney Infinity 2.0 launches September 23 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U.

Far Cry 4 trailer weaponizes the mighty elephant

Image This is either a new trailer for Far Cry 4, or it's the entry for "elephants" found in the actual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.... Continue Reading

PSA: Today's Destiny update causes interruptions

Destiny is getting an update today, meaning players may see the above alert in their games. This warning popped up for us on PSN while our ship was in orbit. Bungie.net offers the following message: "Pardon our dust! Destiny is being updated. You will be returned to the title screen to install a title update and will be able to continue playing afterwards."

With the game running in the background, we also received a message to exit Destiny and apply the update, and for more information to search "cat" on Bungie.net. The cat error means there's an update ready to roll.

See our ongoing review of Destiny's online functions in the State of Service series.

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Chivalry: Medieval Warfare dashing onto consoles

The knightly carnage of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is coming to PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year, with Activision on publishing duties. Torn Banner's melee-heavy multiplayer game is set for the consoles' digital storefronts, but prices and release dates are yet to be announced.

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare passed two million units sold in July 2014, which isn't bad for a game that started life as a Half-Life 2 total conversion mod. Back in 2007, Age of Chivalry thrust pikes, clubs and bows into the hands of its Middle Ages warriors, and its first-person, close-combat multiplayer proved a hit. Realizing it was onto a winner, Torn Banner Studios followed it up with the Unreal Engine-based Chivalry: Medieval Warfare which, following a successful $86,000 Kickstarter campaign, made its debut on Steam in 2012.

The two consoles may not be the only platforms welcoming the game in the near future, with Torn Banner seemingly teasing Mac and Linux ports "soon." That or penguin paladin DLC. Also, head below the break for a rather brutal new trailer.

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Xbox chief: Minecraft will continue on PlayStation, mobile

When word spread last week that Microsoft was considering a purchase of Mojang and its gaming titan Minecraft, fans were concerned about the game's future. Would Minecraft become an Xbox exclusive? Would it be locked to Windows Phones going forward? In a video discussing the acquisition, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that Microsoft would continue to help develop Minecraft on all the platforms that made it a $2.5 billion brand in the first place.

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Why did Microsoft pay $2.5 billion for Minecraft creator Mojang?

Microsoft confirmed its $2.5 billion purchase of Minecraft developer Mojang today, with Microsofts's Head of Xbox division Phil Spencer noting that the acquisition "adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms."

It's a big chunk of change to spend on an independent studio founded in 2010, but its juggernaut product has since sold over 15 million units and spawned a merchandising empire. Minecraft earned a reported $326 million in revenue last year, continuing its year-on-year trend of increased profitability.

Creator Markus Persson expressed a desire to move away from Minecraft earlier this year following a notable shift in indie development culture, however. "The current indie scene is as new for the people making games as it is for the audience," Joystiq editor Jess Conditt wrote. "Indie developers don't have trained PR teams to guide them through the drama; many don't know that the press and public will take their tweets seriously; some of them aren't even sure what an embargo is. They receive death threats and then react like candid humans when the audience expects them to behave like detached professionals."

"As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately," Persson said in reference to the Microsoft purchase.

Here's a quick rundown of the events that led up to today's deal.

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NBA 2K15 wonders "What if?" in MyTeam trailer

2K Sports recently offered a new trailer and details for NBA 2K15's MyTeam mode. Similar to EA Sports' various Ultimate Team modes, MyTeam has players building a squad of basketballers from across the sport's history, improving their team gradually over time.

One of the ways they'll be able to build their team this year is through a real-time auction house, seen in a few of the game's screens provided by 2K. Players will also have a challenge mode to put their team through its paces in several "What if?" fantasy scenarios. 2K Sports plans to add both multiplayer and weekly challenges to MyTeam throughout the year as well as user-created content. NBA 2K15 will launch October 7 for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
[Image: 2K Sports]

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Destiny claims biggest launch ever for new IP in UK history

Destiny sold more at launch in the UK than any other new intellectual property in gaming history, following Activision's claim it shipped $500 million worldwide last week. Bungie's shooter is the second game to break the new-IP record this year, the first being Watch Dogs in May. The most successful UK launch of any game ever still belongs to Grand Theft Auto 5, but Destiny now boasts the biggest launch of 2014.

Not that any of that's surprising, frankly, and we're still waiting on hard sales figures from Activision. It's maybe more revealing to dissect Destiny's UK sales-by-platform percentages, especially since they offer a 50-50 cross-generation split between PlayStation and Xbox. While PS4 leads the way with 46 percent, Xbox One and Xbox 360 come in second and third with 36 and 14 percent respectively, and PS3 makes up the remaining 4 percent.

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'Modder' tweaks Destiny to feature infinite ammo

Whether you want to call it a mod, a hack, an exploit or a cheat, the fact remains that the players seen in the videos below the break have found a way to slay moon wizards in Bungie's recently-launched open-universe shooter Destiny with the aid of unending bullets.

Before you get too riled up, know that this stunt does not seem to be very widespread. The comments following each of the below videos lack any sort of information on how to accomplish the feat, and most responses left by the people behind these clips are too busy justifying infinite ammo as anything other than cheating to explain how they made things work. "Since I modified the amount of ammo I have in my clip, it's a mod," wrote impressively self-assured YouTube user 0neThatsExiled in lieu of any word on how the game was "modified."

Happily, since existing examples do not explain how to duplicate this tweak, it's unlikely that you'll encounter the issue within Destiny before the quality assurance team at Bungie has time to obliterate this unintended gameplay issue. Hopefully these self-described modders are enjoying their brief moment of online infamy.
[Image: Activision]

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Destiny State of Service: Day Three

This is State of Service, an ongoing review of the online service of a recently launched game.

Friday, September 12 | T-minus 27 days until final verdict
Current State of Service:
Summary: Destiny continues to enjoy a clean launch, with glitches hitting a small number of players.

Destiny is holding up well across PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in its first week online, with the most prominent server issue being the Boar error on PS3. Bungie offers a workaround for the bug: Install Destiny, create a new PSN account designating the same region as the game, and then launch it and sign into your original PSN account. If that doesn't work, try deleting and reinstalling Destiny. Inelegant, but effective, apparently.

The Joystiq staff hasn't encountered any connection issues since launch, though Feature Content Director Xav de Matos has received a PS4 UI error noting he's lost connection to the server. Oddly, he hasn't dropped connection to the game itself, even when the notification appears in the middle of matches. Destiny's first weekend events kick off today, and Bungie promises that public events will appear more frequently in the game "very soon."

If you encounter any connection problems while playing Destiny, let us know in the comments, or on the Joystiq Twitter or Facebook accounts. Use the hashtag "#sos" and specify your platform, please.

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This weekend's Destiny event goes 3-vs-3 in the Crucible

Bungie's freshly-launched Destiny is more than just a first-person shooter, it's an MMO-like game with planned community events for players to pepper with bullets. The developer unveiled the next set of missions in a blog today, starting with the 3-vs-3 Crucible event, Salvage. The playlist spans this weekend and has players fighting to "claim and salvage relics on small to medium sized maps." Players earn Crucible reputation, marks and gear by taking other teams of three on in the mode.

Then starting on September 16, the Vault of Glass level 26 raid opens. Set in a mysterious area beneath Venus, players take on "your greatest challenge yet," which happens to be long division for us. Vault of Glass champions receive raid set gear and ascendant materials. The last three sets of challenges are without description at the moment. Two of them, Combined Arms and Queen's Wrath, are planned for September, with the Iron Banner event set for October. These online events are playable as long as Destiny's servers are stable, which are in good shape as of our initial State of Service update.
[Image: Bungie]

Dying Light to rise in January 2015

Dying Light, the free-roaming zombie apocalypse survival game from Call of Juarez and Dead Island developer Techland, will launch January 27, 2015. The game was delayed to February back in May, and was previously expected to arrive on March 31 of this year for PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the game splits players' activities among day and night cycles, the latter featuring much more dangerous and aggressive zombies. The best options for survival during the noctural hours is usually to run, encouraging players to partake heavily in Dying Light's parkour-like urban traversal mechanics. Players will also hunt for supplies to dig into a weapon crafting system and take out the undead enemies when the opportunity arises.
[Image: WBIE]

Paul McCartney didn't receive a check for his Destiny work

Paul McCartney contributed to Destiny's soundtrack, but he didn't do it for the money – because there was none, Bungie Community Manager Eric Osbourne told Vulture.

"There was no check involved, big or otherwise," Osbourne said. "He's in it for the creativity. He got a wonderful opportunity to reach an audience that wouldn't typically be immersed in Paul McCartney. They might hear the name – of course he's everywhere, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, obviously he's touring and recording nonstop – but he sees it as a way to reach a new audience that might not otherwise hear his music."

McCartney contributed orchestral elements to Destiny's soundtrack and he wrote the single that plays over the credits, though a team of composers scored the game and they "put in a lot of work," Osbourne said.

Osbourne also touched on Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's claim that the company is "making a $500 million" bet on Destiny. "None of that is true," Osbourne said. "You really have to get a quote from Bobby to fully understand it, but I suppose what he was getting at was what Activision was willing to invest in the project and the IP over its life. There's no P&L statement anywhere where all these numbers add up to $500 million. It's not even close at this point, for development and marketing." As we noted when that number first emerged, Activision has a 10-year plan for Destiny and the company is proficient at cultivating long-standing franchises.
[Image: Activision]

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