06 March, 2016

This Week In Videogames – 06/03/2016

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a rocky week on the games front; we’ll launch into some Nintendo goodness and smiles, and shrink away after the tumultuous initiatives of Microsoft… Do dig in.

This Week In Videogames 06/03/2016 banner

Bill Trinen Notice Me

Let’s kick things off with Nintendo’s latest Direct. A longer, more substantial affair than last week’s Pokémon-centred stream, it featured numerous announcements including a European release date for Fire Emblem: Fates.

Fates will launch the 20th of May, with Birthright, Conquest, Revelations all available, potentially on one cartridge if you pick up the limited edition seen below.

Naturally, Star Fox Zero was a card, given its impending April 22nd release date. The campaign’s branching paths were discussed, with alternate side levels and new bosses added in to spice things up – Zero being a reimagining of the older Star Fox games.

Alongside Zero launches Star Fox Guard, a smaller title eShop at $14.99 (with a $4.99 discount for Star Fox Zero owners) Guard, is a kind of tower defence game, which sees players setting up twelve cameras around a map to shoot encroaching enemies. There are apparently around a hundred levels, but what makes Guard genuinely interesting is that players can edit enemy patterns and share them only, a little like Super Mario Maker, though it doesn’t sound like full level creation.

Here’s the full Direct, running for forty minutes there’s a lot in there including; Monster Hunter Generations, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and far more. 

A Little On The Nose

Torn Banner Studios, the team behind Chivalry: Medieval Warfare announced a new project called Mirage: Arcane Warfare. As the name suggests, Mirage will a multiplayer first-person ‘shooter’, with a heavy emphasis on melee and magic. Unlike Medieval Warfare, this game looks great, both artistically and technically, it’s running on Unreal Engine 4.

Mirage is slated for 2016, with a full trailer releasing this coming week.

This Rioter Came From The Moon

As if to completely ape Destiny’s style, Ubisoft revealed The Division’s ‘Year One’ plan, consisting of three expansions, bolstered by free updates. Underground is the first expansion, slated for June, and I’ll admit it’s got me a little puzzled, the description reads;
“…uncharted underworld of New York City. Players will chase deadly enemies with up to three other Agents through an endless maze of tunnels and subways.”
I don’t doubt that’s what is in it, but I spent a good half hour jogging through the surprisingly expansive sewer systems in the Closed Beta some weeks ago. Are the two separate? Or is that part of the expansion, meaning it’s going to be inaccessible or at least unused until June? Doubtless my questions will be answered in part very soon; The Division launches this Tuesday.

Here’s the schedule:

This Week In Videogames 06/03/2016 Division year one schedule

And the launch trailer:

They’re Cool And All, But Lando Had Actual Lines

Battlefront’s first paid expansion is set to hit sometime this month – alongside countless other expansions – and this week EA shared details and art of what we can expect. Outer Rim will add new maps to Sullust and Tatooine; factories and industrial platforms, and Jabba’s Palace and sail barge respectively. Additionally, there’s a new game mode called extraction, which sounds a lot like a one-sided capture the flag.

(Click to enlarge).

This Week In Videogames 06/03/2016 star wars battlefront outer rim art sullust
This Week In Videogames 06/03/2016 star wars battlefront outer rim art tatooineThis Week In Videogames 06/03/2016 star wars battlefront outer rim greedo nien numb

It will also add new heroes and villains; Nien Nunb and Greedo – not exactly the equals of, well, and of the other named characters, but hey, in alternative reality Greedo probably did shoot first and rise to the rank of grand moff, and Nunb always was crushed beneath the egotistical shadow of Lando Calrissian… There are a couple of new blasters and Star Cards too.

Through The Hololens, Darkly

Microsoft made a few announcements this last week, and in some regards may well have managed to besmirch their name and services in ways unseen since that ill-fated E3, when then-boss Don Mattrick told the world those without infallible internet should buy an Xbox 360.

Microsoft went somewhat public with its plans to ‘unify’ the Xbox One and PC platforms at the Xbox Spring showcase, the press conference was later published online despite being solely intended for press consumption. In short first-party titles are now built as Unified Windows Programs (UWP), from what I understand UWP is a set of APIs (Application Program Interface), allowing such programs to be ran on any Windows 10 device; Xbox, PC, or tablet – assuming the devices have sufficient hardware. This led to the immediate release of Gear of War: Ultimate Edition and Forza 6 ‘freemium’ offshoot Forza Motorsport 6 Apex on the PC. Such releases continue to draw the ire of a vocal group of Xbox owners, who for myriad reasons believe them to weaken the position of the Xbox – I don’t necessarily disagree.

This Week In Videogames 06/03/2016 windows 10 uwp tim sweeneyUWP programs like the Windows 10 version of The Rise of the Tomb Raider and upcoming Quantum Break, are subject to limitations; a lack of SLI/Crossfire support, mandatory v-sync, and more. Epic (developer and Unreal Engine provider) head Tim Sweeney believes they are minor problems easily fixed in future iterations, but he does worry about the broader implications of UWP and the Windows 10 Store, expressed in an open letter to Microsoft published by the Guardian. I have not read the letter in full and won’t presume to regurgitate it here. I did however, listen to a follow-up interview with Polgyon, in which Sweeney discussed his concerns that Microsoft are implementing a walled-garden and may continue to take further steps to disadvantage developers not using the Windows Store, on which they assume a 30% cut. Sweeney cites a US legal dispute, presenting the positiion that Microsoft may build whatever services they wish, so long as they do not seek to disrupt other markets.  Due to majority market share they are, the interview suggests, forbidden from enacting market-shifting changes, little different from utility and infrastructure companies in that regard.

I by no means fully understand the entire situation; in the interview Sweeney clearly expresses distaste in Microsoft’s corporate leadership in some very coherent and understandable ways. He also pointed out the Unreal Engine is quite capable of running on UWP, such is the choice of the developers, and even discussed the advantages of the API. If you’re interested I would urge you to give the Polygon interview a listen, both that and the Guardian piece are linked below.

In somewhat brighter news – somewhat – Microsoft announced the release of the Hololens Development Edition, costing $3000 its set to release March 30th to selected developers in the US and Canada only. Three games will be packed in, at least two I believe developed by Asobo Studio, renown for Monopoly ports.  These include Young Conker, who will apparently interact with whatever is on hand; bouncing on a couch or teetering on the edge of a table. Fragments, a kind of adventure game featuring poorly animated characters that look right out of a Mass Effect game – I wonder if that was Casey Hudson’s doing… And Robo Raid, previously a demo by the name of Project X-Ray, which makes robot scorpions pop out of your walls.

Here are the trailers:

Yes you saw correctly, that is more than twenty thousand dislikes (at the time of writing) on that Conker video, because some gamers refuse to accept the hand fate has dealt Conker – did you learn nothing from Project Spark?!

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