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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Elder Scrolls Online drops subscriptions, adds consoles

Posted by Stephen del Prado On Sunday 25 January 2015Comments Off
The heroes of Tamriel prepare to head out for bruch.

The heroes of Tamriel prepare to head out for brunch.

It was only a matter of time, if recent reports are anything to go by. With EB Games and other retailers pulling copies of The Elder Scrolls Online from shelves, speculation was rife that the disappointingly received MMORPG was finally moving to a free-to-play model. Bethesda Softworks has finally revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online is not only going free-to-play, but will also be available on PS4 and Xbox One worldwide on 9 June, the console release being consistent with the current PC release, which is good news for potential buyers.

Retitled The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unleashed, the removal of a traditional MMO subscription service doesn’t mean that Bethesda haven’t included alternate revenue streams in order for the title to continue receiving support and content. While all existing PC players will transition automatically to the new F2P system, anybody wishing to play this updated release on PC or console will still be required to purchase a copy at full retail price, much like the Guild Wars series. To complement this, Bethesda is also taking a cue from the model employed by Funcom with The Secret World by including a store which will sell cosmetic and ‘convenience’ items, as well as optional add-on content whilst still providing players who elect not to spend further access to regular content and gameplay updates.

But wait! There’s still more! ESO:TU will also include an optional subscription model dubbed ESO Plus which will provide players who front up a monthly fee with “a premium membership service, providing exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns to use in the store and access to all DLC game packs while a member.” PC players with active subscriptions by 17 March will automatically transition to the ESO Plus program.

With so many options to choose from, it seems as if Bethesda are catering to the widest audience possible, although how successful this move will be remains to be seen. History is encouraging however, as seen through the continued success of Lord of the Rings Online, The Old Republic, The Secret World and many other MMO’s after transitioning to a F2P model.

Hotline Miami 2 knocked back by Classification Board

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Thursday 15 January 2015Comments Off
An example of the stylized 2D violence in Hotline Miami 2.

An example of the stylized 2D violence in Hotline Miami 2.

Highly anticipated indie sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has failed to secure the expected R18+ rating. As reported by Player Attack, the game instead incurred the dreaded RC (Refused Classification). Unless the publisher of the game, Devolver Digital, is able to successfully appeal the Classification Board’s decision, Hotline Miami 2 will effectively remain banned from sale in this country.

According to the Board, the decision relates to some degree to a graphic scene in which a female character is overpowered and raped by a male character. Such a depiction would represent an escalation over the already brutal standards of the original Hotline Miami, released to widespread acclaim back in 2012.

In technical terms, Hotline Miami 2 was knocked back because it belongs to a category of 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.”

While numerous observers have expressed their discomfort with some of the themes of the game, Devolver Digital’s Chief Financial Officer has advised Australia to “chill the fuck out”.

Potential Far Cry futures revealed

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Tuesday 6 January 2015Comments Off
The world’s most badass boy band.

The world’s most badass boy band.

While many developers remain passionate about pursuing their own artistic goals, there are also creative (not to mention financial) incentives to respond to the demands of an increasingly engaged audience. The notion that players have a real role to play in determining the output of major studios was reinforced this week with the emergence of the latest Ubisoft user survey, this time centred around the future of the Far Cry series of open world action games.

Each game in the series has featured a different location and a fresh set of goons to overcome. As revealed by Eurogamer, Ubisoft is seeking user input on future settings and scenarios. If the options presented in the survey can be taken at face value, a future Far Cry game could take place in the old west or even a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Players could even be asked to take on hordes of zombies, vampires or dinosaurs.

The question is: will any of these options be part of a core Far Cry experience like Far Cry 4, or will they pop up in a downloadable spinoff a la Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon?

Xbox now boasting extra grunt?

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Monday 5 January 2015Comments Off
If you look closely, you can almost see the extra power.

If you look closely, you can almost see the extra power.

While the original Xbox was the 400 pound gorilla of the console world (both in terms of graphical power and physical size), Microsoft’s latest hardware offering is considered by some to be a relative lightweight. Industry insiders have long speculated that the machine’s focus on gesture and voice based usability left the Xbox One at a disadvantage. It has now emerged that Microsoft recently took steps to address this issue.

Xbox One developers have traditionally had access to six cores, with a further two allocated to the background operating system. It has emerged, via a Eurogamer report based on leaked documentation, that developers are now able to take advantage of 50-80% of one of the two system cores. In order to make use of the additional power, developers will not be able to incorporate certain gesture and voice based Kinect functions.

Given the lack of attention that the Kinect has received from the majority of developers, this news is likely to be well received by many.