Yesterday, Ubisoft announced new plans for Rainbow Six’s upcoming event, Outbreak, the details of which made a lot of longtime fans incredibly unhappy. Today, Ubisoft finds themselves in the position of having to slightly walk back some of their earlier decisions.

In yesterday’s blog post, Ubisoft explained how they plan to shepherd the popular multiplayer shooter into its third year of content. Along with these plans, Ubisoft unveiled character items that only drop from lootboxes, which themselves are only attainable through paying money for a virtual currency dubbed R6 Credits. In what appeared to be an attempt to mitigate the issue, the developer assured fans there would be no dupes, so anyone who buys all 50 boxes will get all 50 new, cosmetic items.

Each box, which Ubisoft calls Outbreak Packs, costs 300 R6 Credits, which itself works out to $2.50. That works out to $125 for cosmetic items for the event, which is expensive, but there is no element of gambling for people who want it all.

Alongside this update, Ubisoft announced they were eliminating the $40 version of the game and making the new base Rainbow Six: Siege a bundle called The Advanced Edition, which includes the base game, 600 R6 credits (a $5 value), and 10 Outbreak packs (a $25 value). This is where longtime players begin to feel treated unfairly.

Fans who had purchased the game at $40 or $60 before but wanted some or all of the cosmetics would be paying more than someone just now buying in. Ubisoft also introduced $90 and $120 tiers that included Year 3 and Year 1 and 2 content, respectively, but those did not carry discounts relevant to existing fans.

Today, Ubisoft tried to walk back the community outrage a bit on the game’s subreddit. “Our passionate and dedicated fans are the reason why Rainbow Six Siege is a success, especially the ones who have been with us from Day 1. Following yesterday’s announcement, we have seen the frustration from our veteran players rise to the top of the discussion.”

While not doing anything about the Operation Packs or costs themselves, Ubisoft is trying to make good with the veteran audience. Anyone who logs in between now and March 6 gets an Ash Sidewinder Elite skin, which shows up in player inventories at the start of Year 3. Additionally, Ubisoft is keeping the Standard $40 edition in addition to the ones revealed yesterday, as fans complained the price hike made it more difficult to bring in new players.

The developer also plans to ease the burden of obtaining the various operators in the game, but will share details of that at a later date.

When it first launched, Rainbow Six: Siege was mired in controversy based on excessive microtransactions and what players felt was an interminable grind. Ubisoft has been able to right the ship over the last few years and make the game one of the most popular multiplayer titles being played online.

Rainbow Six: Siege is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

 

Our Take
It seemed unlikely Ubisoft would completely walk back the announced changes, as they’re likely core to a new monetization solution to keep new content pumping for a game in its third year. Still, the cosmetic situation got out of hand fast there, so hopefully they carefully consider how far they take it.

2018 Video Game Release Schedule

If you’re wondering what games are coming up in 2018, we’ve put them all in one convenient location. This list will be continually updated to act as a living, breathing schedule as new dates are announced, titles are delayed, and big reveals happen. This should help you plan out your next several months in gaming and beyond.

New additions to the list are in bold.

As the gaming calendar is constantly changing, we highly recommend you bookmark this page. You’ll likely find yourself coming back to this to find out the most recent release schedule for the most anticipated games across PC, consoles, handhelds, and mobile devices. If you notice that we’ve missed something, feel free to let us know! Please note that games will not get assigned to a month until they have confirmed release dates.

January
The Escapists 2 (Switch) – January 11
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (PS4, PC) – January 16
Forged Battalion (PC) – January 16
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory (PS4, Vita) – January 19
Kirby Battle (3DS) – January 19
Lost Sphear (Switch, PS4, PC) – January 23
The Inpatient (PSVR) – January 23
Iconoclasts (PS4, Vita, PC) – January 23
My Time at Portia (PC) – January 23
Celeste (Switch, PS4, PC) – January 25
Dust and Salt (PC) – January 25
Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – January 26
Monster Hunter: World (PS4, Xbox One) – January 26
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (PS4) – January 30

February
Batallion 1944 (PC Early Access) – February 1
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PC) – February 1
Night in the Woods (Switch) – February 1
Steamworld Dig (Switch) – February 1

UFC 3 (PS4, Xbox One) – February 2
Shadow of the Colossus (PS4) – February 6
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall (PC) – February 8
Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) – February 9
The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia (PS4) – February 9
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] (PS4, PS3, Vita)
Dynasty Warriors 9 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – February 13
The Fall 2: Unbound (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – February 13
Kingdom Come: Deliverance (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – February 13
Owlboy (Switch, PS4, Xbox One) – February 13
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS) – February 13
Monster Energy Supercross: The Official Videogame (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – February 13
The Longest Five Minutes (Switch, Vita, PC) – February 13
Secret of Mana (PC, PS4, Vita) – February 15
Bayonetta 1 + 2 Collection (Switch) – February 16
Fe (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – February 16
Long Gone Days (PC) – February 18
Metal Gear Survive (PC, PS4, Xbox One) – February 20
Age of Empires: Definitive Edition (PC) – February 20
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus (Switch) – February 22
Past Cure (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – February 23
Yume Nikki: Dream Diary (PC) – February 23
De Blob 2 (PS4, Xbox One) – February 27
Payday 2 (Switch) – February 27

March
Bravo Team (PSVR) – March 6
Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 6
Frantics (PS4) – March 6
Scribblenauts Showdown (Switch, PS4, Xbox One) – March 6
Devil May Cry HD Collection (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 13
Golem (PSVR) – March 13
Kirby Star Allies (Switch) – March 16
Assassin’s Creed Rogue: Remastered (PS4, Xbox One) – March 20
Attack on Titan 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch) – March 20
Sea of Thieves (Xbox One, PC) – March 20
Titan Quest (PS4, Xbox One) – March 20
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (PS4) – March 20
A Way Out (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 23
Detective Pikachu (3DS) – March 23
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PS4, PC) – March 23
Pure Farming 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 23
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (PS4, Switch, PC) – March 27
Far Cry 5 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 27
MLB The Show 18 (PS4) – March 27
Agony (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 30

April
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (PC) – April 3
God of War (PS4) – April 20
Nintendo Labo Variety Kit (Switch) – April 20
Nintendo Labo Robot Kit (Switch) – April 20

Trails of Cold Steel II: Kai (PS4) – April 26

May
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Switch) – May 4
Conan Exiles (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – May 8
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (3DS) – May 15
Dark Souls Remastered (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) – May 25

June
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle (Switch, PS4, PC) – June 6

The Overwatch League, the Blizzard-run season of competitive Overwatch games, has fined London Spitfire’s DPS position Park “Profit” Joon-yeong $1000 for an obscene gesture on camera.

The incident happened during a broadcast yesterday when the London Spitifre faced off against the San Francisco Shock. Profit raised a middle finger to the camera during the match, which made some people in the viewing audience raise an eyebrow. He went to social media after the match and apologized, explaining that he was making a joking gesture to some friends and did not realize he was on camera.

The OWL was seemingly not concerned with his reasons, though, and fined him $1000 for the gesture. The London Spitfire are not scheduled for another match until next week, February 1, against Seoul Dynasty.

[Source: ESPN]

 

Our Take
This honestly seems reactionary and might have more to do with the overall confusion on Blizzard’s lax code of conduct than the incident itself. Still, in a vacuum, it’s probably not a good idea to be flipping people off, even jokingly, when there are cameras around.

Blizzard has made it clear that player toxicity in Overwatch – harassment, non-cooperation, insults, slurs, etc. – has become one of their major focuses. In September, director Jeff Kaplan even said it is becoming their priority and is actively diverting from development of new content. Now, Kaplan is updating the Overwatch base on their progress in this endeavor, and explaining how they’re getting it done.

In the latest developer update, which you can watch below, Kaplan reveals that reports of bad behavior have gone up 20 percent, while incidents of abusive chat have gone down 17 percent. A decent portion of this might have to do with in-game reporting systems being added to consoles since the last update.

“We know those numbers are not as great as they could be,” Kaplan admitted. “We know that the problem is not solved and things aren’t perfect, but it’s getting a lot better and a lot of the initiatives that we’re doing here at Blizzard are starting to make a difference.”

One of these initiatives is Blizzard going outside the game to social media to find people showing off toxic game behavior on places like Youtube. The team then tracks down the accounts and takes action, regardless of whether or not there has been a report about the incident. Kaplan says the initiative has “proven very positive” in helping to reduce toxicity within the game.

You can watch the developer update here. Overwatch is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and is currently broadcasting the Overwatch League, a showcase of competitive Overwatch.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

 

Our Take
I’ve been going back and forth between the practical good qualities of this and also the pseudo-dystopian vibe I get from it, but I think it does more to help Overwatch than hurt it. As the Overwatch League has its own brushes with toxicity over the last few weeks, it is probably important for Blizzard to show they’re taking this seriously and they won’t allow for anything to slip through the cracks.

Epic is closing down their action MOBA Paragon on April 26, finalizing weeks of speculation that the game was not long for this world.

The studio announced today that they would be shutting down service for the game in the coming months after being unable to find a path to success for it. The forthright blog post on the subject describes the situation for the game in dire terms, indicating that there is no feasible solution to maintaining the player numbers the game would require to keep going.

“We didn’t execute well enough to deliver on the promise of Paragon,” the post from the Paragon team reads. “We have failed you – despite the team’s incredibly hard work – and we’re sorry.”

The news follows a story from less than ten days ago, where Epic explained that development on Paragon was slowing down as team members moved to the far more successful Fortnite. Even at the time, the consternation over how to make Paragon more popular was evident within the team’s community discussions and it appears to have finally reached a head.

In a rather unprecedented move, Epic is supplying refunds for Paragon for both PC and PlayStation 4. Unlike normal refund methods, the refund is coming from Epic itself, rather than through, for example, Sony. Those seeking a refund will need to link their Epic account first and, after that, access the refund page here.

Paragon first went on sale in March 2016 and went into free-to-play early access almost a year later in February.

 

Our Take
It’s definitely a shame, but from a business perspective, it absolutely makes sense for Epic to shift all their resources to Fortnite. Hopefully the studio finds a good balance later on and can manage multiple successful projects at once.

In the crowded field of board-game design, sometimes the best way to capture attention is with a concept that stands apart from everything else on the market. I suspect that might be part of the formula that has led to the success of Photosynthesis. Though simple to learn and play, Photosynthesis is an incredibly sophisticated strategic affair. It demands lateral thinking and careful planning, all while balancing numerous variables, including the likely moves of your competitors and a board that is constantly shifting beneath your carefully laid plans. Add in a potent ecological theme and beautiful components and layout, and Photosynthesis emerges as a standout release. The game was one of our Best Tabletop Games of 2017, but this week I wanted to take a closer look at what makes Photosynthesis so special. It has rocketed high on my list of games I like to share with friends at my table, and I suspect it will do the same in your gaming circles. 

Publisher Blue Orange has an explicit ecological bent to its business, including the practice of tree planting to balance the creation of its wood-dependent games. Photosynthesis follows through on the company’s green agenda with a game that explores the way forests grow, the nature of competition between species, and the way time and movement affect that constant conflict. Two to four players each take up a single color/species of tree. Whether you choose oak or blue spruce, your goal is to take control of as much of the forest as possible, ensuring that your color has the best opportunities to spread. Trees grow from seeds and into towering behemoths, until eventually those trees reach the end of their life cycles, clearing a space in the forest for new plants to grow. 

This is all accomplished on the board through differently sized trees represented by vibrant cardboard standees. Seeds are replaced by small trees, which grow to medium size, and eventually towering large trees, which loom over everything else on the board. Your first trees begin play on the edge of the board/forest, but the especially lush land is near the center, so each player is constantly throwing seeds further toward those fertile spaces, in the hopes of claiming the best plots. As the game progresses, nearly every space is filled with colorful tree pieces, making for an attractive tableau. 

The real magic of the game comes through the presence of an ever-shifting sun. A cardboard segment represents the current angle and light of sunlight as it enters the forest, and to represent passing days and seasons, that sun segment constantly rotates around the board. Light becomes a currency used to grow your trees. And the only way to capture that light is to have your tree in the path of the sun. Every tree casts a shadow relative to its size, and trees beneath that shadow don’t capture any light. 

Consider the strategic implications. There are six directions the sun can be shining down onto the hexagonal layout of the board. Your trees don’t move, but the sun does. When placing a new seed of a tree, you must consider the light you might get on each upcoming turn. Moreover, the size of that tree at any given time also determines its value. It’s like if the Boardwalk space in Monopoly presented six variations for how much money it could earn each round, all affected by the placement and size of the properties nearby. It makes for a fascinating and evolving board layout, and one that strategic thinkers really puzzle over as each turn passes. 

Photosynthesis is smartly balanced to keep one player from immediately running away with the game. Earned light points must be spent for almost any action, including buying different seeds and tree sizes before they can be placed on the board. Your limited supply of any given tree size prevents any given player from dominating; at some point, you must complete the life cycle of your biggest and most productive trees, as that’s the primary way to earn victory points to win the game. Moreover, you need to reclaim those pieces to use in other spaces on the board, so you can continue to gather points. There’s a satisfying symmetry and cyclical nature to the game flow as the forest shifts with the passing of seasons. 

I’m also fascinated by the board layout. Those coveted center spots on the board are more fertile and yield higher victory point totals when you finally harvest the trees you’ve planted there. And yet, as the forest continues to grow, the outer spaces suddenly take on special value, as they can more easily capture light from certain directions, without the worry that another species of tree will block that light. The effect is one of a battlefield where the deciding conflict appears to be unfolding in the center of the scrum, until suddenly it’s not, and the flanks of the battle decide the course of the war. 

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Photosynthesis gets better the more you play and understand it. Smart visual representations on the player boards don’t require any reading, and only very basic arithmetic, so the game is playable by kids. And while it’s a great family game, I’ve found that its strategic implications are just as likely to capture the attention of veteran board gamers. I’ve played several sessions of the game with dedicated hobbyists, all of whom have found the strategic depth and potential for variation to be surprising and engaging. The abstract play and great-looking components give Photosynthesis a high replay value, and the unusual concept captures the eye as soon as it goes out on the table. It really is one of those releases that is hard to go wrong with; broad appeal and a deceptively deep gameplay add up to a big win. 

If you’d like some additional ideas of board, card, and role-playing games to share with family and friends, I’d encourage you to explore the backlog of Top of the Table, where I try to offer recommendations for a broad range of different types of gaming groups. If you’d like more personalized suggestions, the door is also always open to drop me a line via email or Twitter, where I’ll do my best to respond and help you find the right game for your situation. Good gaming!

Monolith Soft director Tetsuya Takahashi revealed news about the next update
for Xenobalde Chronicles 2.

 

Update 1.3.0 will fix a bug from 1.2.0 where “in certain instances
during and after Chapter 7 … a Blade linked with a specific Driver disappears
from the Blade List (it only disappears from the list, the Blade itself does
not disappear),” Takahashi says. The bug is a result from the process of adding
“Advanced New Game Mode,” which allows players a second playthrough option that
launches with the update February 13.

More information about the update will be shared leading up to its
release. Until then, read our Xenoblade Chronicles 2 review here, and see Takahashi’s
production note here.

[Source: Gematsu]

 

Our Take
It’s always nice when a developer makes necessary updates to a game, especially when it’s a huge RPG like Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Advanced New Game Mode also sounds like an enticing way to reel players back into the world of Alrest.

In a fit of what we can only hope is unfortunate timing, PlayStation Network is currently down.

The outage came this morning as players tried to log in, only to be greeted with a system level message stating that the PlayStation Network is down. A quick perusal of Sony’s PSN status site also confirms that most major functions of the network are not working at the moment, except for PlayStation Vue.

The AskPlayStation twitter has confirmed that there are issues, but has not gone into any more detail. For right now, there’s not much that can be done besides sitting and waiting it out and hoping it gets fixed today.

 

Our Take
Hopefully it’s just a network congestion issue with the launch of Dragon Ball FighterZ and Monster Hunter World last night, but it’s still unfortunate players can’t use the online features of those games on PS4 right now. Ideally, by the time you read this, it will all be fixed.

Stellaris: Apocalypse, the latest expansion for Paradox Interactive’s strategic space opera, is set to release on February 22. Along with that release date, Paradox has also launched the first story trailer for Apocalypse, which showcases an epic space battle as a fleet of fighters attack what appears to be a weapon that has the capabilities to destroy entire planets.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Here are some of the new features that Apocalypse brings, according to the expansion’s webpage:

  • The new “Colossus” planet-killer weapon – a technological terror that eliminates entire worlds from the universe.
  • New enormous “Titan” capital ships can lead your fleets to conquest, offering tremendous bonuses to the vessels under their command. Meanwhile, fortify key systems with massive orbital installations and secure your homeworld as an impenetrable bastion among the stars.
  • Marauders – space nomads who raid settled empires and carve out their lives on the fringe of civilization. Hire them as mercenaries in your own conflicts, but take care that they don’t unify and trigger a new mid-game crisis!
  • New Ascension Perks and Civics are added in the expansion, along with new Unity Ambitions that provide new ways to spend Unity and customize your development.
  • Three new musical pieces have been composed by Andreas Waldetoft for your listening pleasure.

In addition to that, Apocalypse’s YouTube page also mentions that there will be several free features released in an update when Stellaris: Apocalypse goes live for PC, Mac, and Linux on February 22.

Spring is just around the corner, and Out of the Park Developments has just announced Out of the Park Baseball 19, which is not only evolving the MLB-licensed baseball simulation series you know and love, but is adding a new online fantasy feature after launch.

The game comes out on March 22 (PC, Mac, Linux) and you can get it at 10 percent off for $35.99 if you pre-order it on the OOTP website. Pre-ordering also lets you play it early on March 19.

While at launch players can dive in and control all aspects of their clubs – as well as play in custom tournaments and the Arizona Fall League, among many other options – after launch they can enjoy this year’s new mode: Perfect Team. This is a card-based fantasy sports mode similar to a Diamond Dynasty (MLB The Show) or Ultimate Team (EA Sports). The standalone mode features microtransactions like others of its ilk, but it can be played with no money spent as well. An open beta in the spring is planned for Perfect Team with a summer release.

We’ll have more on this new mode as well as the rest of the game in an upcoming installment of The Sports Desk.

Here are the game’s preliminary list of features (text from OOTP Developments):

  • New 3D stadiums and player models with improved on-field movements, including running, sliding, jumping, and throwing.
  • New in-game screen design for an optimized virtual dugout.
  • 2018 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A to rookie leagues as well as the Arizona Fall League. All major league (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings will be based on the popular ZiPS player projection system. The 8 international leagues, as well as independent minor leagues in the U.S., also return this year with accurate rosters.
  • Rewritten scouting reports that give a more detailed and realistic look at players.
  • New tournament modes! Create a standalone tournament bracket and draw any teams in history into it. The possibilities are endless!
  • Ultra-realistic AI roster management and in-game decisions.
  • A reworked ratings module.
  • User voting for end-of-season awards
  • Many more improvements, including: 
    • Redesigned interface, with the ability to choose between 6 different fonts
    • 800 custom team logos for fictional leagues
    • Improved Manager Home screen, with a more customizable layout and new widget options
    • A new stat – RA9-WAR (WAR based on runs allowed) – for pitchers
    • Delayed substitutions for injured players
    • And more to be announced prior to release

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