Codemasters has teased F1 2018 with the proclamation that the August 24 title (PS4, Xbox One, and PC) has renewed focus on the series’ career mode, but today the action is on the track. A new gameplay trailer has been released not only showing the iconic Circuit de Monaco, but you can see the track through the eyes of Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 driver Charles Leclerc.

Apart from Leclerc’s smooth driving, you can also take in the game’s revised lighting and atmospherics systems and player-managed Energy Recovery System (ERS), a new feature for this year.

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[Source: Codemasters] 

Beat Saber, a sort of Guitar Hero-meets-Jedi VR game has captured our attention recently, but YouTuber ragesaq is taking things to a new (and possibly more evil) level. 

With the shockingly simple idea of connecting the two controllers – electrical tape or PVC pipe are common suggestions – Beat Saber’s two swords turn into one long, double blade. In tightly coordinated routines that resemble a combination of EDM dance and the Star Wars kid, ragesaq has hacked and slashed his way through dozens of the game’s custom tracks. 

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is getting a little bigger today on Xbox One. The Miramar map, which has been available on PC since December, is coming to the console version of the game. 

The map has a desert theme, with rocky hills, canyons, and towns to navigate – and to hunt down your fellow players. The update also includes several new weapons, including the R45 revolver, a Win94 rifle, and a sawed-off shotgun. There are also a pair of new vehicles, including a van that seats six, and an offroad truck.

To see the PC version of the map, take a look at our episode of New Gameplay Today that focused on that very location.

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Anniversaries tend to sneak up on you, so mark May 31st on your calendar because it’s the one-year anniversary of Tekken 7. To celebrate, Bandai Namco is giving away a host of free DLC content across all of the game’s platforms.

Here’s what you can look forward to (text from Bandai Namco):

  • Story Mode Costume Set

    • Blood Vengeance Outfit

    • Final Battle Outfit

    • The Evil Eye

    • Vagabond

  • Aura Set

    • Arm Aura

    • Leg Aura

  • Female Hairstyle Set

    • Wave Ponytail

    • Bob Hairstyle

  • New Japan Pro-Wrestling Set

    • T-shirt (BULLET CLUB x Heihachi)

    • T-shirt (Kazuchika Okada x King)

    • T-shirt (Kenny Omega x Bryan)

    • Hiroshi Tanahashi x Lars costume, health gauge, panel, and plate

  • Kuma and Panda Set

    • Assorted costumes for both characters

  • Metallic Item Set (Silver)

    • Assorted silver accessory items for characters

[Source: Bandai Namco

As a society, we’re constantly turning to technology to relieve our burdens, and we become increasingly dependent on it. With the creation of self-driving cars and robots to attend to our needs, we have to wonder how these advancements will shape our society going forward – for better and worse. Detroit: Become Human explores this interesting question, presenting a world where androids seem more like human than machine, but they’re prisoners to our demands. The premise is engrossing, and the variety of choices is fascinating. They’re both compact and far-reaching; it could be how you develop a relationship, or which questions you ask, but what you decide always an impact and it is often unpredictable. The result is an experience you can’t look away from and leaves you thinking. Sometimes this narrow focus is also its downfall, as you begin to spot inconsistencies or unexplained information.

Detroit shows humanity at its worst – how we’re prone to greed, violence, and hate. Quantic Dream paints a horrifying look at the future, showing humans using and abusing machines at every turn. You experience this firsthand as you take control of three different android protagonists, all with different things at stake and relationships to consider. Kara must protect a child named Alice from her abusive father, deciding how far she’ll go to give her a better life. Connor must hunt his own kind – androids with errors making them display emotion – seeing firsthand the treatment that sparks these feelings. The weakest of the three arcs is Markus’, the leader of an android uprising. A look at Markus’ previous life as the caretaker of an elderly man is well done, but when he takes on his leadership role, it falls flat with predictable speeches and black-and-white decisions.

The writing is at its best in the little moments that develop relationships. Connor works with Hank, a police detective who hates androids, and their interactions are fun to watch. Connor’s objective to complete missions at all costs annoys Hank to no end, and Hank often busts his chops, trying to get Connor to see beyond the mission. In addition, watching an android like Kara having to decide what example she sets for Alice works well. Do you teach her about this harsh world where you sometimes have to do bad things to survive, or do you always do the right thing, even if it puts you in a dire situation? How you develop your relationships plays into what happens in the overall narrative, opening different paths and scenes based on your decisions, whether they’re hostile or warm.  Even small things like picking up a single, innocuous-looking item, such as a gun or photo, will open up unforeseen dialogue in future chapters.

Watching these bonds form is the highlight of the game, but the overall narrative has issues impossible to ignore. Its self-stated parallels to history, such as slavery and civil war, are too heavy-handed, making it come across as disingenuous. Quantic Dream beats you over the head with these comparisons instead of allowing you to make connections for yourself – whether through direct dialogue or in the world around you. I felt uncomfortable with how much it draws comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement; this fictional battle obviously doesn’t have the same stakes as the real-life oppression it mirrors, and the way it is used as a crutch further cheapens the struggle. One character even has a speech stating he has a dream to be equal, straight from Martin Luther King’s famous declaration. The world is strong enough on its own, and doesn’t need to rely on these ham-handed connections. The core message does a good job displaying how humans often fear change and the unknown, as our violent (and sometimes catastrophic) history shows. In many ways, it’s on you to change humanity’s trajectory, making choices that support how androids should be treated and if we should see them as new intelligent life or simply machines to help us get by.

The extremism also extends to the supporting characters, making them feel cliché, with plenty of over-the-top situations and one-note agendas. Much of the cast seems to always have the worst intentions, including Alice’s abusive and drug-addicted father, and another character who treat robots as his toys to experiment on. Detroit tackles complex themes and doesn’t shy away from violence. Scenes of abuse and brutal circumstances are omnipresent, and they made me uncomfortable – as they should. The scenes make sense in the context of the story, but they feel exploitive due to the over-the-top antics. These stories can certainly be told in video games, but the frequency they’re used here is high, especially in Connor and Kara’s arcs, which can go to dark places.

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When I played Detroit, I was captivated by it. But my disappointment grew as I hit some plot twists and realized how poorly certain information is explained – like how Markus has the power to convert machines and give them free will. You find plot holes regardless of the path you take, but especially in Kara’s arc.  I had to suspend my disbelief to enjoy Detroit for what it is – similar to previous Quantic Dream titles like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy. Some important details can be uncovered by making different decisions, but hiding basic plot information behind dialogue choices players may never see is frustrating. I felt strung along by some mysteries, only to see them amount to little in the end. Additional playthroughs provided some of the answers I wanted, but the reveals aren’t satisfying enough for how important these threads appear to be.

Even so, replaying the game and certain scenes gave me an appreciation for how far-reaching and different a playthrough can be. After you complete a segment, you are shown a grid of each variation, with the paths not taken left as blank boxes. Some chapters are more linear than others, and some choices only offer minor variations but still put you in the same place. The branching paths really shine in the latter parts of the game. Choice-driven games typically struggle with giving players enough satisfying variations, but Detroit acknowledges what you’ve done, like how you’ve built your relationships, and the split-second decisions you’ve made, like taking a risk during a chase scene.

This is a great achievement by Quantic Dream. To write a scene so many different ways and still have it work is not an easy feat, and the scope of choices and consequences in this narrative is one of its biggest strengths. It’s unlike anything I’ve played in that regard, and it makes me excited to see what Quantic Dream can do in the future and if other developers will follow. That being said, Detroit wants you to own your decisions, and sometimes that means grave consequences. The story ends in many ways, some more satisfying than others, but it is about learning the repercussions of what you did in this intense situation and accepting it. My only big knock on the choice front is that your interactions have few shades of gray; it really boils down to whether you want to be peaceful or fight fire with fire, and whether you want to treat androids like people or machines. The plot presents complex dilemmas, but usually only gives you these simple options to deal with them; I was left wishing for more nuanced ways to handle many situations.

The variance in choice is downright impressive, but the overall gameplay could use more variety. Detroit relies on quick-time events for every occasion, and sometimes this feels redundant. I can only experience so many fights, investigations, and chase scenes before they all start to bleed together. In addition, the touchpad and motion controls are unintuitive, and I hated each time they appeared, because I knew it could mean failing a sequence and having to deal with consequences for something that didn’t feel like my fault. Quantic Dream explores a new element unseen in their previous choice-based games, where you can use Markus’s special power to calculate movement ahead of time, seeing what success or failure would look like. I like this idea, as it lets the player determine the route and not have to face a fail condition based on arbitrary decisions like which way to jump.

Detroit made me think about topics I’ve avoided about humanity and our future, and that’s a good thing. These are hard issues to explore, and I’m glad Quantic Dream took on the challenge knowing it could result in failure. Detroit both succeeds and stumbles in that area. Its biggest assets are the relationship building and expansive branching paths. I keep coming back to explore its variations. Not only are they fascinating, but I cared about where I left these characters. The overall message about technology and our future lingers long after the credits roll, making me wonder how I’ll handle my relationship with technology as it takes us to new places.  

Ever since its launch in 2001, the proto-MMORPG Runescape has been a cornerstone of a lot of formative gaming moments. Sadly, that all ends this August as the servers are finally going offline.

Runescape was developed by Jagex in the early 2000s and is likely familiar to people who read magazines like Next-Generation or, well, Game Informer back in the day. The online PC game introduced a generation to what might be possible with online interaction in the future and shaped a lot of what the modern game industry takes for granted.

It is not like the game has been continuously supported for the last two decades, though. Jagex stopped supporting the game years ago, which has lead to the title running wild with bugs, bots, and cheaters. The developers feel this has gone too far and become game-breaking and need to put the game out of its misery.

“We’ve not fully supported RuneScape Classic for years, so why are we suddenly seeing it as a problem now?” Jagex wrote in a blog post. “The truth is that bots and lack of community safety tools are serious problems, however, we also feel that we can no longer offer long term service reliability due to the growing risk of unrecoverable game breaking bugs. The number of bugs is getting worse, and we’re gradually seeing the game breaking. It’s important to highlight that these are bugs which we can’t fix due to the unsupported nature of the game.”

The servers will shut down on 12:00 AM PT August 6.

 

Our Take
It’s a shame, but I was a little surprised it was still running. Seventeen years is a pretty good run.

We Happy Few, the fascist nightmare about oppressive drugs and the oppressors who distribute them, has been refused classification in Australia, leaving the developers baffled about what to do next.

The game appeared on Australia’s ratings board’s website yesterday, stating that the title was refused classification. This effectively means that the game can’t be sold in Australia, which is especially an issue since the game was crowdfunded. It isn’t clear why the game was denied classification, but the website states that the rating is reserved for games that “depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.”

We Happy Few is about a dystopian society where people take a drug called Joy to distract themselves from the horrors of society, but the drug use also mollifies people. Drug use has prevented some games from classification in the past, with Fallout 3 being the most notable example, where the Med-X item had to be renamed to Morphine due to the Australian ratings board’s ban on the use of real drugs. Joy, however, isn’t real, and it is impossible to know what the issue is without the board releasing a statement.

Developers Compulsion have released a statement also expressing confusion and asking backers not to seek refunds quite yet.

“As many of you may know by now, yesterday the Australian Classification Board chose not to classify We Happy Few, effectively banning We Happy Few from sale in Australia,” Compulsion wrote in a blog post. “We are looking into it, and have asked for more information on the decision. To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.”

Compulsion also slyly took an implied shot at the banning with a reminder of the game’s themes being somewhat ironic to this decision.

We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society, and the first scene consists of the player character redacting material that could cause offense to ‘society at large’, as part of his job as a government ‘archivist’. It’s a society that is forcing its citizens to take Joy, and the whole point of the game is to reject this programming and fight back. In this context, our game’s overarching social commentary is no different than Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.”

The game was originally scheduled for release in April, but was delayed into the summer for fine-tuning. The title is being published by Gearbox for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

 

Our Take
This is certainly odd, but I think the thing I find most odd is the board not effectively communicating their issues with the developers. You would think that would be part of the board’s function.

John Kodera, the new chief of Sony Interactive Entertainment, has been speaking his mind about the future of the PlayStation brand and has mentioned what he thinks of Sony and portable gaming.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Kodera broke with his predecessor Andrew House on the subject of portable gaming like the PlayStation Portable and the Vita, which House has said he believed to be limited globally. Kodera disagreed and wasn’t sure that abandoning the idea is a final decision for Sony.

“In my opinion, rather than separating portable gaming from consoles, it’s necessary to continue thinking of [portable gaming] as one method to deliver more gaming experiences and exploring what our customers want from portable,” Kodera said at a roundtable interview on Wednesday in Tokyo according to Bloomberg. “We want to think about many options.”

Rumors have been circulating about a Sony-made hybrid of a console and a handheld a la Nintendo’s Switch, though they appear to be mostly more in wishes than evidence that Sony is planning such a thing. Kodera himself avoided relating his comments to the Switch, but when considering how Sony has felt about the success of the Vita, it is likely that a dockable handheld is not far from his mind.

Sony established an internal initiative for mobile games two years ago called ForwardWorks, though it has yet to deliver the company any major hits.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 

Our Take
House was pretty firm in his belief that the Vita and the decline of the 3DS compared to the DS meant that portable gaming was dead outside of Japan, but Kodera is seemingly a lot more open to it. I think another device like the Vita is probably not going to do well, but I would be interested to see how they’re observing global trends and what they would build in line with that.

Konami has somewhat of a spotty history with HD remasters, so ZOE fans unsure about the newest update have a demo to take for a spin.

The Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner – M∀RS demo takes advantage of all permutations of your PlayStation 4 hardware. On the PS4 Pro, you can play the demo at 4K. With the PSVR, you can obviously play the game’s hopefully gentle VR mode. Both versions allow you to play with something called Pro controls, which allow you to have even more control over Jehuty and is designed for veterans.

The demo also has a training zone that you might want to spend some time in before heading out there. ZOE2 is hard to get the hang of and is designed to have a slow ramp from a very simple mech to basically being a god in mech form, so it doesn’t demo extremely well. 

Zone Of The Enders: The 2nd Runner – M∀RS releases on PlayStation 4 and PC on September 4.


Image Source: George R. R. Martin Blog

George R. R. Martin is working with Warner Bros. Animation to bring his 1980 children’s book The Ice Dragon to life on screen. The book follows a girl named Adara, who befriends a legendary ice dragon to save her world from destruction by fire-breathing dragons.

Martin announced April 25 that The Winds of Winter, the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, will not release in 2018. His book Fire & Blood, a history of the series’ Targaryen family, is set to publish November 20.

Publisher Tor Teen released an updated edition of Martin’s The Ice Dragon in 2014 with illustrations from Luis Royo. 

[Source: Deadline via IGN]

 

Our Take
I’m eager to see the movie, but I imagine A Song of Ice and Fire fans are confused as to why Martin keeps taking on other projects before moving on with his most famous series.