This Week In Gaming – March 4th to 10th 2013
Every week in gaming is a busy week… but when you’ve got your head down, bullets and irate avians flying above you, falling blocks to the left and portals to the right, can you always catch everything that’s happening? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered…
Ubisoft officially announced Assassin’s Creed 4 last Monday. Following in the footprints of Assassin’s Creed 3, the game is pirate-themed, with a heavy naval theme (thus making the “footprints” metaphor immediately dubious). A lot was revealed… but that gave us a lot to say.
This wasn’t Ubisoft’s only reveal of the week – they also released a preview trailer for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Playing as bounty hunter Silas Greaves, the game promises to include real gunslingers to test your skills against, naming Billy the Kid and Jesse James among others. The game itself is due out new week on PC, Xbox Arcade and PlayStation Network.
A fourth title in the Thief series – mercifully no longer called “thi4f” – was revealed by Square Enix, seemingly after their hand was tipped by a leak of information about the game. Released between 1998 and 2004, the original PC series of stealth-based games was well received, though only time can tell if anything is lost in the reboot which will also have console versions. However, Square Enix did well with the reboot of Tomb Raider (released last Tuesday – except for the large number of copies that seemed to break street date), so hopes are high.
Commander Sheppard has been given an “emotional send-off”, according to EA as they announced the release of Mass Effect 3: Citadel, a DLC that is apparently the final part of the Mass Effect story. As well as the storyline missions, Sheppard can also fight alongside squadmates from all three games in the Armax Combat Arena; or try and relight a few flames with some of the romance options from the series too. Citadel was released last week for £11.99 on PlayStation Network/1,200 Microsoft points on XBL.
After almost being lost in THQ’s troubles, Company of Heroes has been confirmed for release on June 25th on PC and Mac. Now with Sega at the reins, having bought Relic Entertainment in the auction of THQ’s assets, the real-time strategy seems to be back on track. A closed beta is promised as coming soon.
Patches and Updates
A new patch was released for Skyrim, providing a fix for many things – not least the strip-o-gram messengers, bringing important news in a hat, loincloth, and not much else. As well as convincing them that the world outside is actually cold, the patch also fixed numerous random crashes, improved aspects of your companions’ AI, and added “Legendary Mode”. This lets you reset a maximised skill to 15, allowing it to affect your levelling again and thus removing the game’s level cap.
Lord of the Rings: Online received its latest update, Update 10 part 2, which added four new instances, updated several older ones to allow level-scaling, and adjusted the effect of certain statistics on the classes. Slightly more controversially, the update also added a new currency, Mithril Coins, bought from the cash shop for real money and providing a lot of functions in-game. And while these functions are largely conveniences (quick travel, various buffs, cosmetic outfits etc), they do appear in a lot of places; Turbine have until now managed to tread a better line than many free-to-play MMOs in terms of what is offered via the cash shop, and the hope is this isn’t a large step towards pushing convenience as necessity.
MechWarrior Online, still in open beta, also made an update last week, adding a training mode for players to become familiar with the controls to their mechs (previously, the game would drop players – new and old – straight into PvP combat). The update also added several other new tweaks, such as bonuses for killing enemy mechs that are destroying friendly units or capturing your team’s control points, and leaderboards tracking statistics. On top of this, there is also a new medium mech, the Ciccada, including a “hero” version (heavily customised, with more features than standard) available from the cash shop.
Bundle Stars have announced an indie gaming bundle, following the “pay what you like” method. Paying £1+ will get you two games from the bundle, while paying above £3.94 will get the complete pack of eight announced titles and two surprise bonus ones. As incentives to pay more than the minimum – and why wouldn’t you? Helping indie developers should be its own reward! – top contributors will be rewarded with further goodies; and to top it all off, 5% of the money raised will go to SpecialEffect, who do extremely good work helping people with disabilities play games, and we’ve mentioned once or twice before.
More and more, Kickstarter is proving a home for older developers to find their audiences – step forward Richard “Lord British” Garriott. Last Friday he announced Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, the title alone evoking memories of Ultima IV – one of the best received RPGs of all time. Given how the Ultima series was a success over two decades but ended on a whimper more than a bang (not including Ultima Online, one of the first MMORPGs and one of the few able to still run on a subscription), in principle returning to the earlier games – in spirit if not in practice – sounds welcome.
On the subject of bangs and Kickstarter, another spiritual sequel – this time to the criminally underappreciated Planescape: Torment – was announced on Wednesday… and hit its funding target in hours. Looking to raise $900,000, inXile Entertainment (the company also behind the extremely successful Wasteland 2 Kickstarter) have so far raised $2.3mil for Torment: Tides of Numenera, with another month still to run. However, as Planescape is an official D&D gameworld, this game is instead set in Numenera – a gameworld created for a traditional RPG project, also as a Kickstarter, by Monte Cook… best known for his work writing sourcebooks for D&D.
And another one – Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey ends its funding project tomorrow, having raised over $1.4mil despite only seeking $850,000. Following on from the two previous PC titles, the new game follows three protagonists across two worlds – the cyberpunk Stark and magical Arcadia. Oh, and we also told you about the trailer they launched for the title last week too, because we’re good like that.