24 January, 2016

This Week In Videogames – 24/01/2016

There’s a sad lack of anime in the news I pulled this week, but there is beaucoup de Ubisoft, so I guess that makes up for it! No, you didn’t imagine the sarcasm – enjoy.

This Week In Videogames – 24/01/2016


What’s Old Is New


Developer 343 Industries outlined Halo 5: Guardian’s January update in full, Infinity’s Armoury will add three new armour sets, two new maps, three ‘new’ weapons, and a host of recolored fodder for the REQ Packs. While I described the new weapons in the sneeriest of sneer quotes, one of them is the Halo 2 version of the Battle Rifle, which is actually pretty neat.


A heads up, beneath the infographic, I’ve listed 343’s map descriptions, one of which contains spoilers for the Halo 5 campaign!

Here’s an infographic showing exactly what’s involved:

(Click to enlarge).
This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 halo 5 infinity's armoury armory infographic

The smaller of the two maps, Riptide will be added to Arena playlist, here’s the rundown:
"The Created have wasted no time in extending their influence across inhabited worlds, burrowing into Forerunner machinery and UNSC information systems to turn terraforming equipment and world engines to their own grand designs. Unbound by the limited foresight of mortals, the agents of Cortana can reshape worlds into verdant gardens teeming with life after only a few decades of manipulation, but at much short-term cost. Scarred by wars both ancient and new, the Created have judged this planet to be in need of significant remediation and remodeling; shifting continents and oceans after the AI constructs carefully balanced the drawbacks and benefits of both limited extinction events and damage to the existing colonial infrastructure."
This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 halo 5 infinity's armoury armory riptide

And Urban, a Warzone Assault map whose name positively oozes creativity:
"In the aftermath of the Human-Covenant War, the underlying fractures in humanity that had precipitated the Insurrection once more became apparent.  A dynamic combination of social engagement, reconstruction, and security operations was embarked on by the UNSC to disrupt nascent rebel movements, contain extremist politicians, and deny the Insurrection freedom of maneuver. The most difficult of these missions took place in the sprawling and densely populated urban metroplexes of worlds such as Andesia."
This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 halo 5 infinity's armoury armory urban

Infinity’s Armory is releasing sometime in the next week, my money’s on Tuesday but I couldn’t find a solid date!


Why Support The Game Yourself?


In a move I can’t help but feel strange about, developer Firaxis announced that XCOM 2 would launch not just with mod support, but with community made mods. Three of the modders behind XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within’s Long War mod, aptly known as Long War Studios, are creating multiple mods for the game’s February 5th launch.

Long War added a ton of goodies to the older game, including; new technologies, weapon classes, soldiers classes, and a ton more. You can find it on Nexusmods.

This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 xcom 2 andromedon


All The More Room For Genestealing


Spacehulk Deathwing, the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 first-person shooter by Streum On and Cyanide Studios, continues to look stunning in its new screenshots showcasing some of the larger, often neglected environments of Space Hulk.

(Click to enlarge).

This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 spacehulk deathwing chapel

This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 spacehulk deathwing chapel 2
This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 spacehulk deathwing engine This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 spacehulk deathwing engine 2

Crimson, Like Love, Or Blood?


Why spend Valentine’s Day with a loved one, when you can shoot the enemies you have been for last year and a half in Destiny? Destiny’s Valentine’s Day event, Crimson Days will last for one week, from February 9th onward and will celebrate a, “rare variety of companionship that can only be found in the heat of battle. “

 This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 destiny crimson days

Yup, a Crucible gamemode. Crimson Doubles is a 2v2 mode that apparently, “features a special twist, born of new gameplay and mechanics that only battle-tested star-crossed lovers will appreciate.”


Ubi Grindin’


The next piece, concerning Ubisoft and the development of their AAA games, was brought to my attention by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier – shocker I know – but was actually taken from a blog post made by the developer in question.

Maxime Beaudoin was formerly a Ubisoft technical architect, he left the company last year to work on indie projects. The blog post linked below casts a sombre and not at all unexpected pall over Ubisoft’s development environment, Beaudoin worked on last year’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Here are some of the quotes I find most telling:
“Syndicate was created with the collaboration of about 10 studios in the world. This is 24 hour non-stop development. When people go to sleep in one studio, it’s morning in another one.” 
“With so much people, what naturally occurs is specialization. […]when your expertise is limited to, let’s say, art, level design, performances or whatever, you’ll eventually convince yourself that it’s the most important thing in the game. People become biased towards their own expertise. It makes decision-making a lot more complicated. More often than not, it’s the loudest voice who wins… even if it doesn’t make much sense.” 
This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 assassin's creed syndicate evie frye
“No matter what’s your job, you don’t have a significant contribution on the game. You’re a drop in a glass of water, and as soon as you realize it, your ownership will evaporate in the sun. And without ownership, no motivation.” 
“[…]some people are motivated. Those are usually juniors and people who never got the chance to work on a AAA project before. But when you’ve done it a couple of times, the excitement disappears, and you’re only left with the sad, day-to-day reality. “
You can catch the full post on his new studio’s blog; a grim look at the reality of AAA Ubisoft development, but one with an uplifting ending – freedom. OpenBar, the studio’s first game is releasing on mobile next week.


Definitively Ended


Perhaps the most ill-timed press release came our way from Amplitude Studios, not the people behind Amplitude the game, but the Endless series; Endless Legend, Endless Space, and Dungeon of the Endless. On January the 21st the studio celebrated ‘Endless Day’, the first of its name, on January 22nd they sent the press release – no doubt they issued something weeks ago that I missed.

Nevertheless, players were and still are, for a little while, able to unlock the Endless Archivist hero in all of the above games, each comes with a special Steam achievement. You’ve got until Monday the 25th of January, they weren’t more precise than that. A link below will take you to a Steam page where the unlock criteria are explained.

More excitingly, Amplitude announced a new expansion for Endless Legend, and shed more details about Endless Space 2. The Expansion ‘Shifters’ contains a new major faction, The Allayi, who ‘shift’ during long winters. There’s also a new resource, Pearls of Auriga that unlock powers on the Altar of Auriga, which alter the effects of an impending winter. This decidedly chilly expansion is set to launch in April.

This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 endless legend the allayi


On the Endless Space 2 side, the Sophons were the major faction under the microscope, which is nothing too crazy from what I can tell, the Sophons were playable in the original Endless Space. Hit the second link below to read about the Sophons and get an interactive look at their transport ships.

This Week In Videogames 24/01/2016 endless space 2 the sophon


Thrilling


Ubisoft has two weapons in its arsenal, neither are great, but they apply them so readily that the company gets by. The first we discussed earlier; the endless, soul-mulching grind its dozen or so studios endure in the creation of AAA videogames, mostly Assassin’s Creed, or Assassin’s Creed-derivative titles. The second weapon is honestly more an extension of the first; it’s the old, ‘let’s ride the general buzz of new technology and make sales by virtue of low competition’ trick – I’m sure they have a better name. Ubisoft does the same with every platform to some extent or another, VR is no exception.

This week a partnership was announced between Ubisoft and Elijah Wood’s production company SpectreVision, to create interactive VR content. Ubisoft’s FunHouse studio will be ones collaborating, the studio was itself revealed in August last year, they are the team behind the previously announced Eagle’s Flight embedded below. 


SpectreVision CEO Lisa Whalen called out Zombi (no U) by name in her stock-corporate-announcement quote:
“We're thrilled to partner with an industry leader like Ubisoft to explore the innovative and burgeoning technology that is virtual reality […] The diversity of Ubisoft's portfolio of titles, from Assassin's Creed™ to Zombi™, makes for an ideal partnership with SpectreVision's varied creative vision, as evidenced in films such as ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ and ‘Cooties.’ Together, we can tell an infinite number of unique stories in a bold and original new format.”
Eljiah Wood at least sounded like a genuine human being:
“As a longtime gamer, I’m first and foremost a fan and admirer of Ubisoft […] So to be collaborating with them within the realm of VR is an incredible treat!”
Ubisoft Montreal’s Vice President, Patrick Plourde not so much, but at least he’s equally thrilled:
“We’re thrilled to be working with the team at SpectreVision on an interactive VR experience […] Their expertise in the horror film genre is exciting for us as a developer of interactive entertainment and we’re looking forward to a collaboration that will ultimately offer fans an unforgettable virtual reality experience.”
A horror game perhaps? One executive mentions Zombi, the other horror movies, both describing the news as thrilling… Coincidence?

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