PS2J 325 News – Shadow of Servers

Security PSA: Update your Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader software

  • There have been a bunch of new security threats patched recently, open up Reader or Acrobat and go to Help > Check Updates to make sure you have the latest version

Free games

  • PlayStation

    • Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (free 4K Cinematic Pack is also available)

      • 2017
      • Assassin’s Creed-style action RPG set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that has you continuing the story from Shadow of Mordor to forge a new ring of power and amass an army to fight Sauron, including an improved nemesis system that has you gathering followers and making lasting enemies
      • It initially had microtransactions and lootboxes, but they were removed about a year later.
      • There’s also a free 4k cinematic pack, and the DLC season pass is 80% off until the 21st
    • Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition

      • 2017 Metroidvania with some influences from the Soulsborne games, where you traverse an ancient plague-infested kingdom, fighting bosses and unlocking new abilities. It’s got great atmosphere and tight controls, and deaths aren’t overly punishing
      • Voidheart Edition is the 2018 port of the game to PS4 and Xbox One, including the four DLC packs
    • Bugsnax (PS5)

      • 2020
      • An indie adventure game where you explore a mysterious island and attempt to find and capture the titular half-bug-half-snack creatures, taking inspiration from Pokémon Snap, Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, and Viva Piñata
  • Xbox

    • Aragami: Shadow Edition

      • 2016
      • Action adventure stealth game with solid reviews where you take the role of Aragami, an assassin with supernatural abilities like teleporting between shadows
      • Shadow Edition includes the prequel Nightfall DLC
    • Maid of Sker

      • 2020
      • First person survival horror based on Welsh and British folklore, where it’s 1898 and you’ve been invited by your lover to uncover the mysteries of the Sker Hotel after she notices her family’s strange behaviour
    • Swimsanity

      • 2020
      • Multiplayer 2D underwater shooter with co-op and versus game modes, and both online and local play
    • Lego Indiana Jones

      • 2008
      • Lego-themed action adventure game that loosely follows the first three Indiana Jones films with the same kind of tweaks, humour, and classic drop in/out co-op play that characterizes Lego games
    • Full Spectrum Warrior

      • 2004
      • Squad-based real-time military tactics game where you’re commanding two fireteams to cover eachother and complete objectives
      • It was initially developed to be a simulator for the United States military in an experiment to leverage the original Xbox for training simulations, and then was retrofitted into a retail release with improved graphics and sound
  • Twitch

    • A Knight’s Quest

      • 2019
      • Action adventure game that puts you in the role of Rusty, a clumsy adventurer who accidentally sets about the end of the world. Solve mind-bending puzzles, fight challenging enemies, defeat huge bosses and platform your way through a fantastic open world.
    • Smoke and Sacrifice

      • 2018
      • Open-world narrative-driven RPG with hand-painted graphics that has you playing a mother forced to give up her son, adventuring into a grotesque underworld on a quest that will lead her to a darker truth
    • Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

      • 2016
      • Action RPG that was successfully Kickstarted in 2015 and is based on African mythology, it has you playing a prince betrayed by your future brother-in-law and forging alliances to bring him down, with real-time brawler-style combat that has an emphasis on making combos to defeat enemies
    • Victor Vran Overkill Edition

      • 2017 port of the 2015 PC release
      • Action RPG resembling a Gothic-fantasy fairy tale where both magic and science have a place in the world, and it’s up to you to help the city of Zagoravia fight off a demon infestation of unknown origin
    • Lethis – Path of Progress

      • 2015
      • Old school 2D city builder set in a Victorian Steampunk universe called Lethis, that has you building and managing cities to provide resources for the inhabitants and make your citizens happy
    • Extreme Exorcism

      • 2015
      • “A paranormal platformer where every move you make comes back to haunt you”
      • 2D pixel platformer that has you jumping around and taking down ghosts with a deadly arsenal from rocket launchers to boomerangs, but at the end of each round a ghost appears and mimics your every move from the round before. The longer you survive the more extreme the game becomes
  • Epic Games

    • Dungeons 3

      • 2017
      • A combination dungeon builder and RTS, you’re tasked with creating an underground dungeon for creatures to live in as well as defending it against invading heroes from the world above. You can also send units out of the dungeon and take over areas of the world map, RTS style

Epic slApple fight

  • Plans are in place to get Fortnite back on iOS and iPadOS using Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service
    • Apparently Nvidia has developed a version of GeForce Now that works in Safari on Apple’s mobile devices, likely similar to what Microsoft’s xCloud and Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming services are aiming to use
  • Though there’s been no official announcement of the Safari launch, if this is true then GeForce Now will be the one and only way to play Fortnite on iPhones and iPads
    • I’d be curious to see what the details of this deal are, if Nvidia is getting the 30% cut now or if they’re just happy with the subscription cost for the service

Apple’s released a bunch of software this week

  • iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 are here with new emoji, wallpapers, bug fixes, and more
    • There’s a fantastic new accessibility feature included specifically for people with impaired vision, and it sounds like an amazing idea
      • The feature is called People Detection, in your accessibility settings under the Magnifier, and it uses augmented reality and machine learning to detect where people and objects are around you
      • Particularly well-suited for the LiDAR sensor in the 12 Pro, it can help blind or low vision users understand their surroundings better, such as knowing how many people are in line at a grocery store or where the end of a subway platform is
        • It can even tell you if you’re within six feet of another person
      • Users can set up a minimum distance for alerts, and receive feedback though vibrations or through their AirPods
        • People Detection is fully compatible with VoiceOver, Apple’s screen-reader tech
      • This seems really useful on the iPhone, but with rumours continuing to mount of eventual AR glasses from Apple this could be a gamechanger for people with vision problems
    • Intercom is here, letting you send and receive messages between HomePods
    • HomePods can now be connected to the Apple TV 4K for wireless surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio
    • Built-in Shazam music recognition can be launched from the Control Center
  • WatchOS 7.1 is out now, with improvements and fixes like notifications if your headphone volume could permanently affect your hearing, and a fix for issues some people were having with their watch not unlocking their Max as expected
    • They’ve also added ECG support for the Republic of Korea and Russia
  • macOS 10.15.7 Supplemental Update is available for download, improving the security of your Mac

Cloud gaming on the Nintendo Switch has come west with two new games for the device

  • Previously the Switch saw games like Phantasy Star Online 2, Resident Evil 7, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey playable through the cloud, but only in Japan
    • They were using the Taiwan-based Ubitus GameCloud service so they could run the technically demanding titles on the portable hardware of the Switch
  • Now they’re releasing Control and Hitman 3 on the service as well, this time including the rest of the world in the fun
    • The games need a <100MB install on the Switch, then they stream gameplay to and from the cloud using checkpoint saves in case you lose connectivity
    • Control Ultimate Edition – Cloud Version is out now and includes the base game and the first two expansions, The Foundation and AWE. It also includes the Expeditions end game mode, photo mode, and all of the additional updates since the release of the original.
      • According to early reports, thanks to the cloud infrastructure it can get up to 30fps with ray tracing and 60fps without
    • Hitman 3 – Cloud Version is the conclusion of the World of Assassination Trilogy. The game is expected to be released on Windows PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive in January 2021. No launch date for the Switch version was offered. Expect the final product to include plenty of sandbox locations to explore, and creative ways to bring down your assassination targets.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be losing online features, and thus the access to come achievements, on December 31st

  • The 2014 title will be losing:
    • The Nemesis Forge, which means players won’t be able to transfer their nemeses from Shadow of Mordor to Shadow of War
    • Vendetta missions and leaderboard
    • And WBPay will no longer be available, but the epic runs “Orc Hunter” and “Gravewalker” will automatically be given to all players
  • Those vendetta missions being removed means that there will be some achievements that it’s no longer possible to get, so if you want to 100% Shadow of Mordor you have till the end of the year

Apple has launched a new service program for AirPods Pro sound issues, which had many users hearing static or crackling noises as well as problems with Active Noise Cancellation

  • I experienced this myself multiple times in a row, with replacements thankfully being smooth and relatively painless through the mail
    • The biggest issue I saw was when I had the AirPods in my ears and then anything somewhat loud happened, either me clearing my throat or listening to loud audio
  • The issue may affect AirPods manufactured before October 2020 (so, basically all of them), so if you’re having issues it’s definitely worth reaching out to Apple Support and having them replaced

This Day In Gaming History

October 31 – 1997 – Diddy Kong Racing – N64

  • It’s an island takeover when the evil space wizard, Wizpig, discovers Tiger Island!
    • After the islands prized racetracks become sealed up, Timber Tiger contacts his friend Diddy Kong to help him reclaim the racetracks and save the island before his parents return.
    • Along for the ride are the Kremling spy Krunch, Bumper Badger, Banjo (prior to meeting Kazooie in Banjo-Kazooie), pre-sweary Conker, Tiptup Turtle, and Pipsy Mouse.
  • Diddy Kong Racing is a racing game with similarities to Mario Kart 64, in that you race with a variety of cheery racers while using weapons.
    • However, the similarities end there.
    • DKR includes an adventure mode, which features bosses, an overworld to explore, many hidden secrets, the addition of hovercrafts and planes, and a unique way of racing called the “Silver Coin Challenge”. In this mode, in addition to coming first, you must also find the eight Silver Coins deviously hidden throughout the courses (some in alternate paths).
  • The game also features a strategic method of using weapons.
    • Each colored balloon on the track matches a specific weapon, and collecting the same type of balloon multiple times in a row powers it up (to a maximum of three times).
    • This gives the player the choice of snatching every balloon available and using it immediately, or storing the existing weapon, and using a more powerful version of it later.
  • Up to four players can compete in the races, but in order to play new tracks, they must first be unlocked in the single player game.
    • There are also four battle modes of play – two standard deathmatch maps, a capture-the-flag style battle where you must nab eggs and hatch three of them in your home nest, and another where you must be the first to return ten bananas to your treasure chest (with the limitation of only being able to hold two at any one time).

November 1 – 1994 – Donkey Kong Country – SNES

  • King K. Rool has stolen Donkey Kong’s banana stash, and Donkey Kong needs your help to get them back.
    • In search of K. Rool, the Kremling horde impedes your progress. Kremlings, crocodile-like creatures, include Kritters (they succumb to a simple jump on the head), Krushas (they are virtually indestructible), and others.
    • There are also other enemies that block your path, such as beavers, snakes, vultures.
    • Leading them are dastardly bosses, including Very Gnawty, Necky, Queen B., and Dumb Drum, and they all bar the way with their own special blend of villainy.
  • Donkey Kong is joined by Diddy Kong: these two primates differ significantly.
    • For example, Donkey Kong is generally stronger; he can destroy most enemies with a single jump and can lift barrels straight over his head to throw them farther.
    • On the other hand, Diddy is faster and not as strong as Donkey; he can run really fast and do cartwheels. Diddy carries barrels in front of him, creating a shield against frontal attacks.
  • The original Super Nintendo game was later released for Nintendo’s handheld systems.
    • The Game Boy Color version has an exclusive level (Necky Nutmare) and additional bonus games, Funky’s Fishing and five Crosshair Cranky minigames.
    • There was also the addition of collectible DK sticker packs scattered throughout the levels.
    • These sticker packs could be printed out using the Game Boy Printer.
    • The game also has two more difficulty options that become available after beating the game.
    • Beating the game once lets the player turn off DK barrels and beating the game a second time will let the player turn off checkpoint barrels.
  • The Game Boy Advance version also had additional bonus games.
    • It to has a version of Funky’s Fishing but instead of the crosshair themed games, there is now Candy’s Dance Studio, which hosts six dance games.
    • There is also the additions of a time attack mode called DK Attack, a harder difficulty mode called Hero Mode (can only play as Diddy Kong and the game no longer offers Donkey Kong barrels and checkpoints throughout the levels), and the sticker book idea from the Gameboy Color version was replaced with collecting scrapbook pictures instead.

November 2 – 2001 – Burnout – PS2, Later on Xbox

  • Burnout is an arcade style racing game in the mold of the Test Drive or Need For Speed series.
    • In this game, you are racing on realistic streets with real traffic to contend with.
  • There are 6 courses on which to race, 3 of which are reminiscent of Europe, and 3 from the USA.
    • There are several vehicles to choose from, ranging from compact cars to pickups.
    • However, they are not based on real makes and models.
  • One notable feature of Burnout is the “Burn Meter.”
    • The Burn Meter is a gauge that is filled by performing reckless stunts, like racing into oncoming traffic or power-drifting through corners.
    • Once the Burn Meter is filled, your car gets a super speed boost.
    • If you crash, the Burn Meter is reset and must be filled again to achieve a boost.

November 3 – 2006 – Nacho Libre – Nintendo DS

  • Based on the upcoming feature film starring Jack Black, Nacho Libre offers fans comedic wrestling mayhem–exaggerated moves, wacky props and lots of pratfalls delivered with a unique photo puppetry look.
    • Jack Black stars as Ignacio (friends call him “Nacho”), a cook by day in a Mexican orphanage, who moonlights as a lucha libre wrestler to raise money for the orphans.
  • Six play modes:
    • Story Mode (single player, tied to the movie plot)
    • Vs. Mode, Team Mode (2 vs. 2)
    • Battle Jam (2-4 player wireless brawls)
    • Quick Match
    • Championship Match (multiplayer only)
  • Wrestle in four different arenas from the movie
    • Play as 20 different luchadors based on characters from the movie.
    • Each has his/her own wrestling moves and special attacks.
    • Take on your opponents with headlocks, grapples, holds and pin moves or create combos for devastating, and comical, results
    • Use the Touch Screen to play eight themed mini games including Nachoball, Footrace, Bee Swat, Bullrun, Cliff Climber, Chariot Jump and more
    • Unique “photo puppetry” art style lends the game a distinctive, humorous look
    • Includes recreated cut scenes from the movie in between the action
    • Unlock bonus material after playing through Story Mode

November 4 – 2010 – Kinect – Xbox 360

  • The origins of the Kinect started around 2005, at a point where technology vendors were starting to develop depth-sensing cameras.
    • Microsoft had been interested in a 3D camera for the Xbox line earlier but because the technology had not been refined, had placed it in the “Boneyard”, a collection of possible technology they could not immediately work on.
  • In 2005, PrimeSense was founded by tech-savvy mathematicians and engineers from Israel to develop the “next big thing” for video games, incorporating cameras that were capable of mapping a human body in front of them and sensing hand motions.
    • They showed off their system at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, where Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, the general manager of hardware incubation, saw the potential in PrimeSense’s technology for the Xbox system.
    • Microsoft began discussions with PrimeSense about improvements in the capabilities of depth-sensing cameras, a reduction in size and cost, and a means to manufacturer the units at scale was required.
  • Nintendo released the Wii in November 2006, where motion control was the focus.
    • Microsoft felt pressure from the Wii, and began looking into depth-sensing in more detail with PrimeSense’s hardware, but at that time, could not get to the level of motion tracking they desired.
    • Microsoft also looked to create an equivalent of the Wii Remote, but it was discarded as it was still ultimately Microsoft’s goal to remove any device between the player and the Xbox.
  • Nearing the planned release, the problem of widespread testing of Kinect in various room types and different bodies accounting for age, gender, and race among other factors, while keeping the details of the unit confidential. Microsoft engaged in a company-wide program offering employees to take home Kinect units to test them.
    • Microsoft also brought other non-gaming divisions, including its Microsoft Research, Microsoft Windows, and Bing teams to help complete the system.
    • Microsoft established its own large-scale manufacturing facility to bulk product Kinect units and test them.
  • Somewhat recent Kinect news!
    • On May 7, 2018, Microsoft announced a new iteration of Kinect technology designed primarily for enterprise software and artificial intelligence usage.
    • It is designed around the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and is meant to “leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations”.
    • It has a smaller form factor than the Xbox iterations of Kinect, and features a 12-megapixel camera, a time-of-flight depth sensor also used on the HoloLens 2, and seven microphones.
    • A development kit was announced in February 2019.

November 5 – 1998 – Hey You, Pikachu! – N64

  • Hey You, Pikachu! is a Pokémon adventure game.
    • The game allows you to speak directly to Pikachu via the Voice Recognition Unit (VRU) included with the game, in order to tell Pikachu what to do and help direct the adventures the two of you embark on.
  • The game features 20 different minigames which you and Pikachu play together.
    • Some involve you catching water Pokémon, while another might send you search for ingredients for stew.
    • When the minigame is over, you go back home and sleep, waking up the next day to play another game.
    • As the game progresses more of the features and minigames are unlocked, and Pikachu’s friendship meter will grow.
  • Pikachu will understand around 200 different words or simple phrases like “come here”, “stop that”, and “eat it”. Voice communication is the primary method of interacting with the game, though the analog stick is used for navigation.

November 6 – 2012 – Halo 4 – XBox 360

  • The game sets the stage for a new story in which Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient awakened evil that threatens all life in the universe.
    • The main campaign also heavily explores the relationship between Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana.
    • Cortana is nearing the end of her life, before devolving into a state called Rampancy in which an AI begins to think itself to death.
    • The campaign features both first-person shooter and driving elements, and can be played either single player or co-cooperatively (either over Xbox Live or split-screen).
    • It features new weapons and an entirely new class of enemy characters called Prometheans.
  • And for some PS2J History
    • We did our first Live episode on Alan’s phone
    • I made the link ps2jshow.com/halo4 for anyone interested in some of our podcasting history

Tidbits

  • Development on Friday the 13th: The Game is coming to an end, with its last patch releasing sometime this month
    • The dedicated multiplayer servers will be shut down, but online play will continue with peer-to-peer hosting
  • The Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity demo is now up on the Switch eShop, and it looks pretty cool
    • It includes the first chapter of the game, and progress will carry over to the full release on November 20th
    • Without getting in to spoilers, they may be settings things up so that the story doesn’t end how we’re all expecting after seeing Breath of the Wild
  • There’s yet another Apple Event going on this year, scheduled for November 10th
    • Titled “One more thing”, there aren’t many clues about its focus but people are expecting AirTags (Apple’s new lost item tracking devices) and new computers with Apple’s fancy custom processors
    • We may also see more information on macOS 11, Big Sur
  • The new Apple One subscription bundles went live this week, offering a few different plans to save money if you subscribe to services like Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Arcade, and iCloud Storage
  • Apple’s also spinning up their new “nutritional labels” for apps, giving people a breakdown on each app’s product page for what data types they may collect, what data may be used to track you, and what data isn’t linked to you at all
  • 2K Games and EA are under fire for misleading info when it comes to NBA2K card packs
    • Apparently one of the players, James Harden, was completely missing from the gatcha packs that he was supposed to be included in for the first 23 minutes of release, and enough whales were trying to get him right away that thousands of dollars were wasted
  • The source code for Watch Dogs Legion has already leaked, leading the way for mods and cracks ahead of its November 10th release
  • Mark Zuckerberg is trying to make the case that Apple’s ad tracking blocks will damage economic recovery from COVID-19
    • He specifically pointed the out mandatory notification when an app or website wants to track users, saying that letting people know they can opt out will hurt “small businesses and economic recovery in 2021 and beyond”, though I’m guessing this is just a redirect for how hard Facebook itself will be hit by the changes

iPhone 12 Pro mini review

  • The Pacific Blue is very pretty, and makes me want to use my phone without a case
    • The frosted glass back feels very nice, but I worry about drops and scratches
  • The extra RAM (6GB instead of 4GB) is actually noticeable when resuming games
  • The overall performance has been great too, and according to PhoneBuff tests have it out performing the Samsung Note 20 Ultra (that actually has double the RAM)
  • The camera is a huge upgrade over the X, especially night mode
    • It automatically runs long exposures if needed, and if the gyroscope detects it’s attached to a tripod it offers even longer options
  • The extra size isn’t really noticeable
  • Magsafe is slick for chargers, especially if you already use a lot of wireless charging, but from what I’ve seen online accessories like the leather wallet don’t really seem to stick in day-to-day use

Dead by Daylight mini mini review

  • Asynchronous 1v4 slasher game
  • Bit of a cash grab with its DLC, but on GamePass it’s a lot of fun
  • Wraith is my boy!

 

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PS2J News 317 – Next Gen Gaming OAC

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Vostok Inc

      • 2017
      • Billed as The Wolf of Wall Street with lasers, this clicker with added shoot ‘em up elements has you playing a newly appointed CEO with the goal of becoming the richest space-capitalist around
    • Shock Troopers

      • 1997
      • Top down run and gun arcade shooter that has you fighting through mountains, jungles, and valleys to rescue a scientist and his granddaughter from a terrorist group
    • Metal Slug 3

      • 2000
      • Run and gun sidescrolling shooter that added more weapons and vehicles to the Metal Slug series, as well as introducing branching paths
    • Garou: Mark of the Wolves

      • 1999
      • The ninth and final instalment of the Fatal Fury series, it brought in a new feature where if you get down to a certain area of your health bar you can perform special attacks and recover health
    • The Last Blade 2

      • 1998
      • Arcade style weapons-based fighting game originally for the Neo Geo
    • Samurai Shodown V Special

      • 2004
      • The ninth Samurai Shodown title, it’s an upgraded version of Samurai Shodown V and the last official game for the Neo Geo
    • The King of Fighters 97 Global Match

      • 2018 re-release of the 1997 game
      • The fourth King of Fighters game and the final chapter in the “Orochi Saga” story arc
    • The King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match Final Edition

      • 2014 re-release of the 2008 re-release of the 1998 title
      • The fifth King of Fighters game with multiple releases bringing full balance overhauls, additional characters, and a new Ultimate mode
    • The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match

      • 2015
      • Ninth King of Fighters title that abandoned the newer 4v4 match format used in previous games and went back to the 3v3 fights previously seen in KoF 98
  • Epic Games

    • Railway Empire

      • 2018
      • A tycoon simulation game where you’ll create an elaborate and wide-ranging rail network with different trains, stations, factories, and attractions to stay ahead of your competitors
    • Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

      • 2018
      • Narrative-driven adventure game that has you exploring a Great Depression era United States, gathering and learning oral stories, and passing them along

Epic vs Apple

  • Epic Games is now asking the courts to force Apple to put Fortnite back on the App Store, saying that active users on iOS declined over 60% after removal
    • Their justification is that iOS is the biggest platform for Fortnite, with nearly a third of users having played on iOS and more than half of those using iOS exclusively
    • Now they’re saying that they may never see those users again, while playing their sad violin about how Fortnite is more than just a game and the social community is something that people rely on
    • End of the day, if the app is so important maybe you should just remove your direct payment option while the court case proceeds?
  • Apple has now counter-sued Epic Games for stealing the 30% commission with their direct payment option, accusing the company of “self-help and subterfuge” as it embarked on a plan of “commission-theft” by introducing the payment option that goes directly against App Store guidelines
    • With the legal term “self-help” meaning that Epic created the very circumstances that they started their lawsuit over, it kinda seems like an open and shut case

While we wait for any word on the PS5’s price, Microsoft has released that and more for their new consoles

  • The flagship Xbox Series X, the new mini-fridge of gaming, will cost $499USD with a $35/month Xbox All Access financing option from Microsoft
    • This thing is a solid rectangular obelisk that will run 4k 60fps, with some titles even hitting 120fps for buttery-smooth multiplayer in Halo Infinite
  • And the sleek little Xbox Series S has finally been officially announced, costing $299USD or $25/month with Xbox All Access
    • The S looks pretty cool, kind of resembling a flat speaker, but behind that speaker is a sizeable fan keeping the whole thing cool (and hopefully staying somewhat quiet while doing so)
    • It’s smaller than any other Xbox Microsoft has sold previously, but still packs in 500GB of storage and the performance apparently comparable to the Xbox One X
    • It’s also gone all-digital, meaning that there’s no disk drive for anyone still playing with physical game discs
  • Xbox All Access, for anyone not keeping up with Microsoft’s myriad memberships, is a two year financing program that gets you an Xbox with no upfront cost as well as Game Pass Ultimate (including Xbox Live Gold) for the contract period
    • With Game Pass Ultimate alone costing $15/month USD it actually seems like a decent deal, leaving your grand total for the Series S at $240 ($50 savings) and the Series X at $480 ($20 savings)
  • On top of that, EA Play is now included in Xbox Game Pass for PC at no additional cost*
    • The full library of 89 titles is available now for Game Pass PC and Game Pass Ultimate subscribers
    • Members will also get a 10 hour free trial for select games (most often the newest launches from EA Sports) and a 10% discount on EA DLC or microtransactions
    • At the same time, the standalone Xbox Game Pass for PC will be moving from $5USD to $10, but Game Pass Ultimate is unchanged so it’s just become a better deal since PC is included
  • On a related note, just a quick reminder for everyone- currently the best way to buy Game Pass Ultimate is to let it expire, load up your account with however much Xbox Live Gold time you can up to a max of three years, then upgrade that time to Game Pass Ultimate for a reduced fee (the first time you do it, it only costs $1)
    • The trick is you have to use the specific upgrade link for your region- https://www.xbox.com/en-CA/live/gold/upgrade
    • If you just buy Game Pass Ultimate it converts your Gold time but uses 4 months of Gold to equal one month of Ultimate, but using the upgrade link it’s currently 1:1
  • Now that Microsoft’s put all that information out there, we’ll see how long it takes Sony to undercut them (if they can, anyway)
  • Both Xbox Series consoles can be expanded with another terabyte of storage using an expansion card, and will launch this November 10th. Preorders open September 22nd

Apple’s officially announced their fall event, titled Time Flies, for September 15th, and we’ll have all the details in the next episode

  • People are expecting new Apple Watches and maybe iPad Airs, but iPhones seem less likely and may be delayed till October
  • We can also expect to hear some release dates on the upcoming iOS releases, but the new macOS (Big Sur) likely isn’t ready for primetime yet and will also wait for next month at minimum

Unfortunately it sounds like Apple may be delaying the privacy improvements to iOS that have Facebook and other advertisers concerned for their futures

  • The new privacy rules were slated to take effect with iOS 14, prompting users before allowing any kind of cross app tracking
  • Apple will instead give developers the option to use the prompt when it becomes available, including the ability to display why they’re asking for the permissions, but want to give developers time to implement the change before enforcing it early next year
  • Other new things like viewing which apps are accessing GPS, microphone, camera, and clipboard still remain on track for the initial iOS 14 release

The minds behind Hyrule Warriors, the Dynasty Warriors style brawler set in the Zelda universe, are making a fully canonical entry in the series

  • Titled Age of Calamity, it shows the story 100 years before Breath of the Wild and has you taking part in the original fight against Calamity Ganon
  • In some Halo Reach style story telling, we know where the story ends but playing through how it gets to that point should still be pretty dang fun
  • Best part here is that this time it’s not just Koei Tecmo doing their own thing, but it’s a full co-production with Nintendo’s Zelda team
  • The first Hyrule Warriors was fun but the story felt pretty disjointed, so getting them to work with the core Zelda team and having it link in smoothly to the rest of the universe should hopefully make things even better

This Week In Gaming History

September 5th – 2018 – Scythe: Digital Edition – PC/Mac

  • Scythe is a board game for 1 to 5 players designed by Jamey Stegmaier and published by Stonemaier Games in 2016. Set in an alternate history 1920s Europe, in Scythe players control factions which produce resources, build economic infrastructure, and use giant dieselpunk war machines called mechs to fight and control territory. Players take up to two actions per turn using unique player boards, with the game proceeding until one player has achieved six achievements, at which point the players receive coins for their achievements and territories controlled, with the player with the most coins winning.
  • The game was originally released via Kickstarter, raising over $1.8 million. Scythe received very positive reviews, with particularly strong praise for the game’s artwork, which was produced by Polish painter Jakub Różalski under the name World of 1920+. As of 2020, Scythe is ranked 11th among all board games on BoardGameGeek.
  • The 1920+ universe is also featured in the video game Iron Harvest planned for release in September 2020.

September 6th – 2008 – Chex Quest 3 – PC

  • Chex Quest is a non-violent first-person shooter video game created in 1996 by Digital Café as a Chex cereal promotion aimed at children aged 6–9 and up. It is a total conversion of the more violent video game Doom
  • Chex Quest 3 was developed and released as a service to fans by former Digital Café members Charles Jacobi (art director and lead artist) and Scott Holman (programmer). Former Digital Café sound design leader Andrew Benson, also contributed several songs for the game. Originally intended as a single standalone level, Jacobi announced the development of a full sequel at the Chex Quest Fan Page (Chexquest.org) in June 2008, and the full game was released in September.
  • Chex Quest 3 employs the ZDoom source port, and is considerably larger in size than the previous two games. Jacobi’s release of Chex Quest 3 also included ZDoom-based versions of Chex Quest and Chex Quest 2, with significant enhancements and noted problems redressed. Chex Quest 2 in particular had been remastered, with some levels significantly revised or completely overhauled.
  • Charles Jacobi credited the praise and compliments of fans, especially through fan-made projects such as one titled “The Ultimate Chex Quest”, as inspiration to complete this project.

September 7th – 2008 – Spore – PC/Mac

  • Spore is a 2008 life simulation real-time strategy God game developed by Maxis, published by Electronic Arts and designed by Will Wright. Covering many genres including action, real-time strategy, and role-playing games, Spore allows a player to control the development of a species from its beginnings as a microscopic organism, through development as an intelligent and social creature, to interstellar exploration as a spacefaring culture.
    • It has drawn wide attention for its massive scope, and its use of open-ended gameplay and procedural generation. Throughout each stage, players are able to use various creators to produce content for their games. These are then automatically uploaded to the online Sporepedia and are accessible by other players for download.
  • Spore was released after several delays to generally favorable reviews. Praise was given for the fact that the game allowed players to create customized creatures, vehicles and buildings. However, Spore was criticized for its gameplay which was seen as shallow by many reviewers; GameSpot remarked: “Individual gameplay elements are extremely simple”. Controversy surrounded Spore due to the inclusion of SecuROM, and its digital rights management software, which can potentially open the user’s computer to security risks.
  • I know Alan and I were really excited for this game, but it turns in to Galactic Babysitting Adventures.

September 8th – 2008 – Amnesia: The Dark Descent – PC/Mac/Linux

  • The game follows the amnesiac protagonist, Daniel, as he explores Brennenburg Castle while trying to solve various puzzles and avoiding monsters. Instead of fighting, Daniel’s main tools for survival include running and hiding.
    • The game was critically acclaimed upon release, and has gone on to spawn two sequels: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and the yet to be released Amnesia: Rebirth.
  • Amnesia is an exploration-based horror adventure game played from a first-person perspective. The player is able to interact with the environment in a wide variety of ways, such as picking up and moving objects, opening doors, closets, and drawers, operating valves and levers and lighting up areas.
    • There are no weapons and no combat mechanics in the game, making the player unable to fight the different monsters that he encounters. Thus the only way to get past the creatures is by running away and hiding from them until they lose interest.
    • The player can hide from monsters in a variety of ways, such as staying in the shadows, hiding in closets, barricading doors, etc.
  • Separate from the player’s health bar is an indication of the character’s sanity. Being in darkness too long, witnessing unsettling events, or staring at monsters will reduce Daniel’s sanity, causing visual and auditory hallucinations and drawing the attention of monsters, as Daniel begins to whimper.
    • Light sources help restore sanity, and if none are available Daniel may use tinderboxes to ignite candles in wall sconces and candelabra or deploy an oil-burning lantern found near the beginning of the game.
    • However, the number of tinderboxes and the amount of oil available are both limited, and standing in a light source also makes the player more noticeable to monsters.
    • Sanity is fully restored once Daniel completes an objective or progresses the game’s story. It may also be restored by staying in the shadows until Daniel passes out, but this leaves him extremely vulnerable to any nearby monsters.

 

September 9th – 1995 – Ridge Racer – PS1

  • Ridge Racer is a racing game developed and published by Namco. It was released initially on the Namco System 22 arcade system board and ported to the PlayStation console in 1995 in North America. It is the first title in the Ridge Racer series released for arcades and home consoles. The aim is to finish in first place in a series of races. The PlayStation version supports Namco’s NeGcon controller.
  • This controller is something I found really interesting
    • The NeGcon, is a motion-based video game controller manufactured in 1995 by Namco for the PlayStation. One of the first third-party peripherals for the system, the controller is connected by a swivel joint, allowing the player to twist the halves relative to each other. The controller also replaces the “symbol” buttons on the original PlayStation controller with two “A” and “B” buttons, as well as “I” and “II” buttons that allowed for analogue control.
    • The NeGcon was created to replicate the analog-stick movement used in the arcade game Cyber Sled (1993); the name comes from the Japanese word “nejiru”, meaning “to twist”. The controller was intended for use in racing games, including Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo and Wipeout. Critical reception for the NeGcon was highly positive, being praised for its responsive control in games and unique design.

September 10th – 2001 – Advance Wars – Game Boy Advance

  • Advance Wars is a turn-based tactics game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo.
  • It was released in North America on September 10, 2001 with a later release date in Japan and Europe, but the game release was put on hold in both Japanese and European regions due to the following day’s September 11 attacks.
    • Although the game was released in Europe in January 2002, neither GBA game was released in Japan until the Game Boy Wars Advance 1+2 compilation on November 25, 2004.
  • The game was originally intended to remain exclusive to Japan, like the previous entries in the series, which were kept in Japan due to Nintendo feeling that consumers would not be interested in turn-based games, or in such complicated games.
    • In order to alleviate this, the developers made the mechanics easy to understand, adding in an in-depth tutorial that didn’t require players to read the manual.
    • Designer Kentaro Nishimura commented that “Advance Wars’ success shifted Nintendo’s attitude over western tastes.”

September 11th – 2015 – Super Mario Maker – WiiU

  • Super Mario Maker is a side-scrolling platform game and game creation system developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U home video game console, which released worldwide in September 2015.
    • Players are able to create and play their own custom courses, based on Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U, share them online, and download and play courses designed by other players.
  • Reviews for the game range between near perfect, and perfect scores.
    • Even though, a bulk of the content was made by other players with a passion to make Mario levels.
    • My favorite being Ross O’Donovan, streaming on twitch as RubberNinja. He was contender and frequently a top creator on Super Mario Maker. Now with Super Mario Maker 2, he is making levels to be played in his Super World. He does make some tricks in his levels, but he does focus on good game design and fun, interesting game play.

Tidbits

  • Suda51 has officially announced that No More Heroes 3 will be delayed to a 2021 release date
    • On the plus side they’ve also brought on Darick Robertson, graphic illustrator for the comic The Boys, to do illustrations for the game
  • CDProjektRed has been under fire this week thanks to microtransactions that don’t even exist
    • People were lining up their pitchforks thinking that the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, a single-player game, would have microtransactions included, despite CDProjektRed repeatedly saying that’s not the case
    • Turns out it was all sparked by some confusion- there will be a separate multiplayer Cyberpunk game released completely separately next year that will have microtransactions, but they’re reportedly aimed at not being too aggressive
  • The Witcher 3 Complete Edition is coming to the PS5 and Xbox Series X this fall with faster load times, a bunch of visual and technical improvements, and ray tracing fanciness
    • Best part is that though it will be a standalone purchase, it’s also a free update to everyone who owns the game on PC, Xbox One, or PS4

 

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Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Kingdom Come: Deliverance

      • 2018
      • Story-driven open world action RPG with immersive, branching quest lines set in the kingdom of Bohemia, an imperial state of the Holy Roman Empire, with a focus on historically accurate content
    • Aztez

      • 2017
      • Hybrid side-scrolling brawler and turn-based strategy game set in the world of the Aztec Empire, developed by a two-person team and designed to play like an arcade game with the action of God of War or Devil May Cry

Security warning- if you have an Android device running either 8 or 9 you’ll need to be wary of using Bluetooth

  • A critical bug was found recently that allows anyone within bluetooth range to gain access to your phone’s storage, letting them lift personal files and install malware without any input from you
  • The February 2020 security patch includes a fix for this bug, so you’ll want to make sure you’re up to date as soon as possible by going to System > Advanced > System update
  • If you’re unable to get that patch for whatever reason, like your device is too old, you should consider turning off your device’s bluetooth entirely. You won’t be able to use your wireless accessories, but you’ll also be safe from the hack

FYI, if you’re playing the BioShock collection you’re going to need to manage your save files effectively

  • Apparently if you use all 10 available save slots in one of the games, it won’t let you save at all in the others- save space is shared between all games in the collection
  • This has been an issue since the collection was first released back in 2016, but there hasn’t been any patch or fix to either increase the save space available or separate storage for each game

The Pokémon Home cloud service for transferring Pokémon between games is now available, and Nintendo continues to baffle with their choices regarding connectivity

  • The app exists on the Switch, Android and iOS, and the idea is that you can transfer Pokémon from one game into another by linking your Nintendo account on each device
  • At the moment it’s a little one-sided though- you can take Pokémon from Bank for the 3DS, the Let’s Go games, and eventually Pokémon Go, but you can’t put them back
    • The only way to get Pokémon back out is into the new Sword and Shield games- those support bi-directional travel for Pokémon in Home
  • There are a couple of cool pieces though
    • The app supports trading via Wonder Box, the GTS, opening a Room Trade event with up to 20 people, or just one-to-one trading with a friend
    • You can also register Pokémon in Home in your National Pokédex, and get info on abilities and moves
  • But, since this is Nintendo and a mobile app, there’s a premium plan involved
    • With a Basic (free) plan you can’t remove any Pokémon from Pokémon Bank, you’re limited to 30 Pokémon in Home, and you can’t host room trades
    • If you want to pay $16USD a year you can get those missing features and hold up to 6,000 Pokémon, though it’s a tough sell for a recurring cost

E-cigarette maker Juul is being sued by the Massachusetts Attorney General for predatory advertising targeting children

  • The company’s early marketing used young, cool-looking models, recruited teen influencers, and bought advertisements on CartoonNetwork.com, Nick.com and NickJr.com
    • They also hit sites like allfreekidscrafts.com, dailydressupgames.com… places that are pretty specifically frequented by children
    • They even gave out advice over email on how to get around age restrictions to buy Juul products online
  • They even held presentations in schools by going in to mental health / addiction seminars and saying their products are “totally safe”, with no teachers present or parental consent
    • When approached afterward and asked about struggles with nicotine addiction, the Juul rep advised that people should switch from cigarettes to Juul
  • All-in, the company seems bent on singlehandedly reversing decades of progress combatting tobacco and nicotine use, especially in minors

Hitting a bit of whiplash, Nvidia’s announced that all Activision Blizzard games are going to be removed from GeForce Now at the publisher’s request

  • This will impact everything like Overwatch, WoW, Starcraft 2, and Call of Duty, though Destiny 2 is still streamable since Bungie split with Activision previously
  • Blizzard hasn’t publicly commented on the reason, but last month they entered into a partnership with Google Cloud to provide infrastructure for its games as well as switching their Overwatch League streams to YouTube, so there could be something in the works over at Stadia HQ
  • The worst part is that the games had been playable through the beta and after launch, so there could very well be people that bought them with the sole expectation of playing them on GeForce Now
    • This serves as another reminder that though subscription gaming is convenient it also means you’re giving up full ownership of the ability to use things that you’ve paid for. Access to your games only lasts as long as companies are willing to provide it

Games to play with your Valentine

Play Together!

  • Lego Games
    • You can play your favorite universe with your number 2!
    • Weather its Star Wars, DC, Marvel, Indiana Jones or whatever you have, its a fun casual collect-a-thon with low stakes.
  • Overcooked
    • Work together to make food for the hungry masses!
    • It requires communication and crisis management with your partner.
  • Portal 2
    • The Co-Op campaign has an interesting story and progression makes you feel smrt!
    • Since 2011 this puzzle game has been making pairs figure out complicated puzzles, with portals!m
  • Mario Kart
    • Everyone’s favorite arcade racer already
    • If you’re not into sabotaging each-other, compete in VS races on the same team!
  • Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime
    • Alan and I played this a while ago
    • The two of you take stations on a cute spaceship in this 2D adventure
  • Minecraft
    • Why not have fun in arguably the biggest sandbox game ever made
    • Go on an epic quest or settle down and build your dream castle
  • Borderlands
    • A game that only gets better with more people
    • Make it a digital double date and shoot and loot the night away!

Collaborate together

  • Kings Quest
  • What Remains of Edith Finch
  • The Station
  • Gone Home

Tidbits

  • Microsoft’s planned changes to Office 365 that we talked about in episode 285, involving installing a browser extension forcing people to use the Bing search engine, has officially been rolled back a bit
    • The option still exists but now it’s actually an option, and it defaults to Off
    • If your organization’s administrators turn it on though, keep in mind you’ll still need to go into the extension settings to change your search engine instead of your browser’s normal settings
  • Almost a year later, it looks like BioWare is aiming to resurrect Anthem with a “more substantial reinvention than an update or expansion”
    • General Manager Casey Hudson says the team will be halting new seasonal updates as it focuses on the overhaul, giving themselves time to test and iterate while focusing on gameplay
    • My favourite bit is how they want to “reinvent the core gameplay loop with clear goals, motivating challenges and progression with meaningful rewards.”
  • The one and only Nintendo PlayStation is up for auction until early March, currently sitting on Heritage Auctions with a bid of $48,000 USD
    • The device was the final collaboration between Nintendo and Sony before plans for a Super Nintendo CD-ROM system fell through over licensing, and hopefully it ends up in a museum rather than collecting dust in a basement somewhere

 

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