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Respawn Entertainment has shed light on how critical cloud servers are to the recently-launched Titanfall, and explained why it chose to power significant elements of the game using Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure.
Speaking in an interview with Engadget, Respawn Entertainment engineer Jon Shiring discussed the necessity of cloud servers in running Titanfall.
Microsoft's Azure cloud server is not only responsible for hosting dedicated matches, but controls the behaviour of Artificial Intelligence in-game, including that of un-piloted Titans. According to Shiring, a lot of publishers were initially "terrified" at the prospect of using cloud servers to power the game.
All of Titanfall's AI is reportedly handled by the Azure servers, freeing up processing power of the Xbox 360, Xbox One or PC to "achieve more detailed graphics and the game's silky-smooth frame rate."
However, Titanfall's dependency on dedicated servers allegedly account for why the game will not be launching in regions where Microsoft's Azure data centres do not exist, such as South Africa.
But how will the servers handle Titanfall's initial launch wave?
"We're trying to figure out how many people will be playing and trying to make sure the servers will be there for that," Shiring said.
"We just say [to Microsoft], here are our estimates, aim for more than that, plan for problems and make sure there are more than enough servers available--they'll know the whole time that they need to bring more servers online."
Titanfall launches for the Xbox One and PC on March 11 in North America, with worldwide launches to follow in over the next few days. An Xbox 360 version--developed externally at Bluepoint Games--will arrive on March 25. Check out GameSpot's full review for more on the game.Zorine Te is an associate editor at GameSpot, and you can follow her on Twitter @ztharliGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email email@example.com
How much of your humanity are you willing to give up for even the slightest chance of victory?
Dark Souls II asks this question of you at every turn, encouraging you to press onward in spite of imminent death. And with each death, you lose a little of your humanity and become more hollow. Your maximum health slightly diminishes each time as well, eventually sinking to 50 percent of its full value, and yet as each sliver of humanity is sliced away, you heed the call to move onward. Eventually, you overcome the obstacle that stood between you and victory--that quartet of gargoyles swarming you on a rooftop, that arachnoid demon plunging poisonous pincers into your flesh, that disgusting mound of meat that defies description. You have triumphed! But your gain does not come without sacrifice. You have sworn, you have gasped, and you have sweated. You have forfeited your own humanity so you might collect the souls of the damned.
Like Dark Souls and Demon's Souls before it, Dark Souls II is not just a fantasy role-playing adventure, but a cloud that hangs heavy over your head whenever you so much as think about it. These modern classics developed by From Software have rightfully earned a reputation for being brutally difficult, but their beauty is derived not solely from difficulty, but also from dread. Dark Souls II is not a survival horror game in the normal sense, but few games can make you this afraid to peer around the corner, while simultaneously curious as to what awaits you there. Death is so very beautiful in this game, for it comes at the hands of amazing beasts and warmongers: hulking armored knights, shimmering otherworldly invaders, and tendrils that rise out of black pools of poison. Sure, each death punctures your heart, but one of Dark Souls II's many gruesome pleasures is discovering new ways to die.Embrace the darkness, lest it consume you.
The eerie blackness is front and center as you start up the game and enter the mysterious abode in front of you. Three old crones await you inside and ask you to customize your character and choose a class before venturing into the unknown. Like most of Dark Souls II's characters, these women offer vague advice and refer to events and concepts without filling in the details. The anxiety mounts as you weave in and out of the nearby caverns that fill you in on the basics of movement and combat. This area may teach you the fundamentals, but it also raises a number of questions. What are those odd voices you hear when you stand near the bird's nest that rests on a narrow ledge? What is the significance of the flame sconces scattered about that you are meant to set alight? How do you survive encounters with the monstrous ogres on the beach below that squish you like a measly bug when you draw near?
Welcome to Drangleic, a world that is not quick to whisper its secrets to you, in a game that trusts you to find the answers for yourself.Welcome to Davy Jones' locker.
This introduction is not as soul crushing as the original Dark Souls' opening, but that's just fine, for Dark Souls II offers you an early taste of hope, a feeling that was quite rare in its predecessors. That hope arrives by way of Majula, a gorgeous oasis that's as close to a home as you will find in the game. My first glimpse of Majula was a revelation. As I emerged from the nearby shadows, the glowing sun blinded me, and I stood in awe of the world opening up before me. Whenever the bleakness of Drangleic at large overwhelmed me, I was glad to return to this hub for an emotional refresh.
Majula is more akin to Demon's Souls' Nexus than to Dark Souls' Firelink Shrine. It is your central hub of operations, and while it's mostly devoid of life when you first come upon it, it slowly fills out with the vendors you meet upon your travels, many of whom set up shop there. Your most important contact there, however, is the cloaked woman who allows you to level up in exchange for souls, the game's currency. But even Majula is not immune to mystery. There's an impossibly deep hole in the ground here, one that spells certain death if you fall into it. (Don't let it fool you; the boards that crisscross this passage may look high enough to provide a safe landing, but you will not survive that fall.) What's down there? Surely something valuable must lurk down there. Or something horrifying. You eventually make your way down, but Dark Souls II doesn't tell you when or how that may happen.
Death is so very beautiful in this game, for it comes at the hands of amazing beasts and warmongers: hulking armored knights, shimmering otherworldly invaders, and tendrils that rise out of black pools of poison.
Instead, Dark Souls II trusts you. As in its predecessors, there are no waypoints, and there is no quest log. Instead, you simply head out into Drangleic seeking to light primal bonfires and thus restore some dignity to this decrepit land. The only way to defeat the defiant creatures that guard the bonfires, however, is to grow stronger by murdering enemies and collecting their souls, which you then spend on new levels, new armor, and other trinkets that strengthen your resolve in battle. If you've played the earlier Souls games, you should take to the combat quickly. You feel each swing of your axe, each stab with your spear, and each fireball you lob. Timing is key: every action leaves you vulnerable, so you must pay close attention to the rhythm of your enemies' attacks and strike at the opportune moment. Managing your stamina is also vital to success. Every attack you launch uses up stamina, as does successfully blocking an attack. You can't simply flail about with abandon; this is not that kind of game, and not taking care during every encounter will get you killed.Watch your step: that undead soldier is not your biggest threat.
Not that you shouldn't expect death. Dark Souls II is built around your repeated demise. When that inevitable moment comes, you drop all the souls you were carrying and must retrieve them if you don't want to lose them permanently. You get only one chance to get them back, for dying before you reach them eliminates them from the world forever. Of course, this mechanic is nothing new: it's the same concept that powered both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, after all. But just as Dark Souls represented a structural change over Demon's Souls, so too does Dark Souls II over its predecessor.
Some of the differences are noticeable early on, though their benefits aren't always immediately clear. I was not sure how I felt about one such change: the limited enemy respawns. Each time you die or rest at a bonfire, the world is refreshed and the standard defeated foes respawn. Or at least, that's how it used to happen. In Dark Souls II, there comes a point when many local enemies don't respawn anymore, allowing you freedom to progress with fewer obstacles in your way. It's true that infinite respawns encouraged grinding, particularly when the enemies you faced dropped important items. But that repetition also instilled a bizarre connection between player and game. I can still clearly remember, for instance, exactly how to progress through Dark Souls' Undead Parish--where each enemy is, what attacks it will use, and what precarious drop-offs I must keep a lookout for. When I first encountered the limited respawn system, I worried that the sequel had lost a vital element that would keep Dark Souls II from commandeering my waking and sleeping thoughts.
How much of your humanity are you willing to give up for even the slightest chance of victory?
As it turns out, I shouldn't have worried. The grinding opportunities are still there, and there are in-game items that force enemies in a given region to begin respawning again (and make them more powerful, to boot). Dark Souls II's hook isn't the endless cycle of enemy death and resurrection, however, but the promise of new and exciting places to explore, and new and exciting foes to face. And that hook is supported by any number of subtle changes to the formula. For example, once you activate a bonfire, you can warp to it from any other bonfire without having to pass through perilous places over and over again. Again, I didn't immediately take to this change, but once I discovered just how vast Drangleic was--it's decidedly bigger than Dark Souls' Lordran--I embraced the structural tweaks.Even playing offline doesn't immunize you against invasion.
These changes might not have worked had Dark Souls II not made discovery such a thrill, but with each new area comes a new wondrous vista and a new challenge to overcome. The early forests and ruins are very Dark Souls, but the intricate architecture and carefully planned enemy locations make even familiar-looking environments fresh and unique. The more progress you make, however, the more unusual the settings become, and the more you need to consider new methods of approach. Suddenly, undead freaks are flinging themselves to the ground and exploding, and so you must hasten your rhythm. You walk through an archway and into the thickest fog imaginable, where you cannot lock on to the ghostly shimmers that attack you. Poison rains from the sky, bedeviled urns curse you when you linger near, and anthropomorphic tortoises stop, drop, and roll all over your puny body. Dark Souls II wants to kill you, but the cycle of death and rebirth is worth it if it means finding the royal ring that lets you open that giant door and discover what new and wonderful lands lie beyond it.
Those lands are incredibly striking. Given reports of Dark Souls II's new engine, I was disappointed by the game's lighting, which was flatter than I had hoped, thus rendering my torch less vital for providing dynamic light than it might have otherwise been. But to fixate for too long on this single visual element sells the fantastic art design short. Make your way past Harvest Valley's poisonous pools--and the fantastic monstrosities that fire orbs of darkness at you--and you can only marvel at all of the windmills that lie before you. Of course, this is Drangleic and not the Netherlands; those windmills are not quaint landmarks, but harbingers of disease and death. Then there's Iron Keep, which takes lava levels to a whole new height of fiery doom. There are very occasional frame rate issues that intrude on the grim elegance, but nothing on par with Dark Souls' Blighttown struggles.
Poison rains from the sky, bedeviled urns curse you when you linger near, and walking tortoises stop, drop, and roll all over your puny body.
And so Dark Souls II is hard--but is it harder than the original? No. I certainly did my share of shouting while playing through Dark Souls II, pitting my bastard sword against Drangleic's powerful protectors, but nothing caused me controller-flinging frustration the way Dark Souls' Ornstein and Smough did. Nor did I ever snarl and growl the way I did when making my way through the original game's Sen's Fortress, let alone facing Demon's Souls' red dragon. But don't overestimate any rumors that Dark Souls II isn't a great challenge. Trudging my way through shin-deep water while avoiding nearby mages' magical homing missiles was not easy. I yelled when I slipped into a drop-off while focused on the mean wizards, and cursed when sea dwellers swiped me from behind while I blocked oncoming attacks. And then, finally, when I reached the foggy door that led to a new area, I was able to breathe--at least until I realized there was a gross boss monster behind that door.
I must give credit to Dark Souls II for making combat feel as fair as it does. The Souls games have always given you the tools to succeed, but while playing the newest entry, I was impressed by how it balanced new challenges with subtle ways to help you succeed. Sometimes, the path to success is relatively obvious, like using a lever to dunk baddies in boiling lava, or luring an armored turtle under a blade and watching the makeshift guillotine slice the half-shelled villain in two. Other possibilities are so subtle as to be obtuse, rewarding thorough investigation with an unexpected boon. Is poison complicating a battle against an evil queen? Is darkness inhibiting your ability to lock on to a pouncing behemoth? There might be some help out there, just hidden from view. Dark Souls II trusts you to find it--or if not, to overcome without it.Burn, baby, burn.
Just as before, help comes from other players as well as from the game itself. Every Dark Souls II player is intertwined in a comforting web of ambiguous communication. As before, you see the spirits of other players as they journey through their own copies of the grotesque wilderness. You teach them (or mislead them) by forming messages out of predetermined phrases and leaving them on the ground for others to spot. You even teach them with the mere act of dying, leaving a bloodstain that others might touch to witness your ghost reenact the last precious seconds of your life. And if you feel truly cooperative, you can offer your services to other players, who can then summon you in for assistance with a troublesome boss.Bigger isn't always better.
You can also hinder other players by invading their worlds, just as before, though certain additions to online play keep battles more dynamic than ever. The notification that you have been invaded is still a stomach-churning event, as is the first sight of the red phantom that represents the other player. But your invader is not necessarily invulnerable to the undead soldiers that populate Drangleic--not if you use a particular item designed to make monsters turn on your human enemies. Luring an invader into a trap--look out for the creature with the scythe!--is an absolute delight, though you need to make sure you have your wits about you: the only thing scarier than seeing your evil intruder is not seeing him.
There's so much more to talk about with Dark Souls II. There is the fantastic stretch near the end of the game that fleshes out the story by involving you in grander battles than you would expect from this series. Then there are the covenants--fellowships that bond you with other players and give you more tools to assist or annihilate each other. Joining one covenant allows other players to come to your aid should you be invaded; joining another lets you battle against characters from the original Dark Souls. How some of these covenants may change the very feel of the game is still unclear at this early stage, but having joined the Bell Keeper covenant, I look forward to being summoned to other worlds and preventing others from reaching the tops of their belfries and sounding out the bell that sways there.
Dark Souls II is loaded with secrets and surprises, and even though I have finished the game once, there are so many elements I am still uncovering. I may not have yet unveiled all there is to know about this beastly game, even after 80 hours of play, but I do know this: I will be adventuring through Drangleic for many months to come, sure to be haunted nightly by the disturbing gazes of the faceless titans that tenderize my flesh with their two-ton hammers.
You will face plenty of hardships as you travel through the grim world of Dark Souls II. But did you know there are several important items just lying around the opening areas of the game that could make your early hours slightly easier? You can find everything from a handy shield to lifegems and homeward bones, so check out our handy guide to see what items you should search for in Dark Souls II before you even get into your first fight.
1 Rusted Coin (temporarily boosts luck)
You can find this item near the start of the game. From where you first appear, head up the hill to where the strange monkey-like creatures are congregating. Turn to your right and follow the path around. At the end, you'll find a corpse with one rusted coin that you can pick up.Your first pickup in Dark Souls II is right here.1 Gold Pine Resin (apply lightning to weapon)
Before you cross the drawbridge leading to the crones' house, you'll find a narrow path between some bushes to your left. Walk through the bushes and follow the path as it leads upward. You'll eventually come across a large cyclops with its back turned to you. In front of it is a gold pine resin that you can grab without having to get into a fight with the big one-eyed fella. Just dash in and grab it before he reacts. Easy.This big fella packs a wallop, but he's slow.1 Small and Smooth Silky Stone (?)
Look down and to the left as you're crossing the bridge to the crones' house. See that glow near the base of the waterfall? Believe it or not, it's pretty easy to grab. Simply head left once you're across the bridge and walk through the bushes. There's a short path leading down and to the left where you can pick up the mysterious smooth and silky stone.Look down there!1 Human Effigy (reverses hollowing)
Before you leave the three crones' house, check upstairs to find a chest with one human effigy enclosed within.Head upstairs at the crones' house for a human effigy.1 Soul of a Lost Undead (use to acquire souls), 1 Torch (lights your way)
These are pretty easy to spot, being located just outside the crones' house (not the wooden bridge side, but the other side once you walk through). Destroy the wagon parked over these items if you want (although it's not required), and once you deal sweet justice to that inanimate object, the goodies are yours.You can, if you want, attack this wagon to get at the items.1 Divine Blessing (fully restores HP and cures all status effects)
Once you get through the narrow passageway beyond the crones' house, you'll find yourself in an area with several mists that you can walk through. Ignore all of these for now (most of them are "training" areas that are used to get you up to speed in Dark Souls II), and walk straight through to the other end, where you'll eventually find yourself on the path to the scenic--yet mainly desolate--coastal town of Majula. On the path heading down, make a left past some boulders, and you'll see a corpse with the telltale glow of an item.Free Divine Blessing right here!
3 Lifegems (slightly restores HP), 3 Homeward Bones (return to last bonfire rested at)
From the corpse you just picked up the divine blessing from, go up the hill, where you'll see another narrow path between some rocks. Head through the rocks and past the ruins until you come to a weary-looking warrior with a large sword sitting in front of a circular fort. Just past him on the left is another corpse with the lifegems and the bones.
If you want to avoid fighting for now, don't go inside the fort just yet. There are two enemies in there behind some wooden doors (in one of those rooms is an item called Lloyd's Talisman, which blocks estus recovery within a limited area). Turn around and head back to the path leading to Majula.Don't go inside unless you're willing to fight.1 Rusted Coin
Once you're back in Majula, find the bonfire (it'll be to the right near the cliff). Along the cliff face leading back away from the bonfire is the entrance to some ruins. Walk in, and to your right on the other side of a shoulder-high wall should be a chest holding the aforementioned coin.Rusted coin inside.1 Human Effigy
Head further into the ruins. You'll quickly come to a small hallway to the left that features a large lever set into the wall. Pull this lever, and the large door in front of you will open. Head through this (be quick--it won't stay open for long), and you'll eventually find yourself in a cave. Walk across the wooden bridge, down the planks to the left, and open the chest on the tiny island to find a human effigy.Don't fall in the water.1 Homeward Bone, 1 Soul of a Lost Undead
Whatever you do, don't walk off the island toward the corpse with the glowing object, because you'll immediately drown. You can make it across by running and then leaping from the island, or if you're not confident, you can leap from above (near where you first entered this cave), but you will take some damage.
Once you grab the bone and soul, you'll have to keep moving forward. Follow the stream to the left, where you'll eventually find yourself in an open area with enemies. Unless you want to engage them, you can head back the way you came via a small path that leads back to the watery cave. Make your way back to Majula.You can make that jump. I believe in you.Your Estus Flask
Once you're back in Majula, hanging around the bonfire should be a mysterious woman. Talk to her to score your estus flask.She has your estus flask. Go get it.1 Soul of a Nameless Soldier (use it to acquire souls), 3 Lifegems
To the left of the bonfire is the blacksmith's house (and the blacksmith, who seems to have locked himself out). To the right of his house, you'll find three very handy lifegems and one soul for the taking.To the right of the blacksmith are some lifegems.1 Lifegem
Next to the blacksmith's house and in front of the cathedral-like building is a small tent leaning against a wall. Inside is a corpse that holds one precious, precious lifegem.Take this Lifegem. This poor fella won't need it.5 Homeward Bones
Before you enter the cathedral, head up the path that's to the right of it. At the top is a corpse next to Victor's Stone that has a load of bones just sitting there for you.You can also sign up to a covenant here.1 Crimson Parma Shield
Enter the cathedral, and you'll eventually find yourself heading down a winding staircase. About halfway down on the left is a chest containing a crimson parma shield, which is super handy if you're playing a class that doesn't have a shield as starting equipment (which is most of them). Head back up and into Majula.The shield can be found in this easy-to-miss alcove.1 Estus Flask Shard (grants additional estus flask uses)
Once you're back in the "town," look for a small well in front of a building that has a stone conveniently perched on top of it. Knock the stone down, and a corpse will be raised featuring a handy item that lets you increase the amount of health your estus flask regenerates. Be careful around this area, though: just around the corner are three small enemies that look like giant, hairless rats, and they pack a mean wallop considering their size.Knock this rock down for a surprise.1 Titanite Shard (reinforces equipment)
On the other side of the huge well-like hole in the ground is another hut, where the armorer lives. Go inside and climb up the ladder near the back of the hut. In a chest on the next level is a shard for the taking.There's a ladder at the end of this house.So what's that huge well?
In the middle of this hub area is a large circular tunnel that leads straight down. Peek into it, and you'll see some corpses, with items perched precariously on some wooden planks. The jump down to the first plank may look survivable, but it isn't. You'll have to get an item to survive that fall, so leave those mystery goodies alone for now.It's a trap!And that's it! You're now ready and considerably better stocked up for the challenges that await. Did we miss any other goodies that can be obtained before entering the main combat areas? Let us know in the comments below!
When you think about making a Pokemon in real-life, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not a sharp-bladed sword crafted by a master blacksmith. But that's what swordsmith Tony Swatton has done in the latest video on his Man at Arms video series.
Swatton has forged a true-to-life version of the sword Honedge from Pokemon X and Y (minus the sentience or ability to evolve into an even more frightening creature). You can check out the full video below for a brief making-of, or skip to about 3:48 if you just want to see the finished product and watch people cut things with it.
Justin Haywald is a senior editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @JustinHaywaldGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sony has gone "back to the drawing board" in an effort to make PlayStation 4 racing game Driveclub the best it can be, according to PlayStation Worldwide Studios executive Scott Rohde. In an interview with IGN, Rohde explained that Sony would only be doing fans a "disservice" if the company shipped Driveclub in its current form.
"What I will say is that it all comes back to that fundamental principle, and that's that we want to build great games," Rohde said. "And we really don't want to release a game before it's ready. And sometimes, this happens in the normal course of business, where we think we're on track to deliver what we think is going to be a great game, and when we get closer, we realize that we'd be doing everyone a disservice if we shipped it before it was ready."
"So, I think that at PlayStation, perhaps more than at other places, we're willing to kinda eat that [cost] and go back to the drawing board and make sure the game is great before we ship it," he added. "And that's what's going on right now with that game."
Pressed to say if Driveclub would be released in 2014, Rohde would not offer any insight. However, a PlayStation PR person said more details about the game will be announced soon.
Driveclub is in development at Motorstorm creator Evolution Studios. It was originally a PS4 launch title, but Sony delayed the game in October to spring 2014. At the time, Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said the extra months will allow developers to improve the game's visuals and overall experience.
"We can assure you that it will be worth the wait," he said at the time
Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuchGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email email@example.com
Blizzard Entertainment announced today that World of Warcraft level 90 character boosts are now available to purchase from inside the MMO's store. The developer even released a step-by-step walkthrough video (below) explaining how to complete the process. Included with every level 90 character boost is the following:
- 150 gold
- 4 Embersilk (22-slot) bags
- A stack of 20 food items
- Full set of spec-appropriate Item Level 483 gear
- If a boosted character was already level 60 or above, their existing Primary Professions and First Aid are bumped up to level 600, as mentioned above
- A faction-specific flying mount--a traditional Wind Rider for Horde or Gryphon for Alliance
- Artisan flying--that’s one rank below max flight speed
- Northrend, Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms, and Pandaria regional flying skills trained
The level 90 character boosts cost $60 because Blizzard did not want to diminish the value of leveling.
The Irvine, Calif.-based Blizzard also today announced that pre-purchases for upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor are now available through either the $50 standard bundle or a $70 Digital Deluxe edition. Both come with a level 90 boost, which is redeemable immediately.
The Warlords of Draenor Digital Deluxe bundle includes a copy of the expansion, the level 90 character boost, Dread Raven mount, Dread Hatchling pet, two StarCraft II portraits, and a Warsong Pennant for Diablo III. The digital bonus items are available immediately. The standard edition, meanwhile, includes the expansion only and one level 90 character boost.
If you purchase the standard Warlords of Draenor expansion and then later decide you want the Digital Deluxe content, you'll be able to buy the items at a discounted rate, Blizzard said.
A special $90 retail-exclusive Warlords of Draenor Collector's Edition will also be available. It includes all the Digital Deluxe items as well as a full-color hardcover artbook, a behind-the-scenes Blu-ray/DVD set, a CD soundtrack, and a Warlords of Draenor mousepad.
Finally, Blizzard announced today that Warlords of Draenor will launch on or before December 20, 2014. We already knew it would be available this fall, but now we know you'll be able to play for sure by Christmas.
Warlords of Draenor is the fifth expansion for World of Warcraft, which is entering its 10th year of continued operation. The game had 7.8 million subscribers at the end of 2013.
Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuchGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The wait is (nearly) over. Titanfall comes to Xbox One and PC tomorrow, March 11, in North America, but should you buy the game or hold off? To help you out, we've rounded up what the critics are saying about the new IP from Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment.
Something to consider: Titanfall is an online-only title and the integrity of the battlefield could change from what it was when reviewers critiqued the game. Should anything go wrong tomorrow, we will of course make this known. Titanfall is also coming to Xbox 360 on March 25 courtesy of Bluepoint Games. We'll have a review roundup for that version of the game when critics have a chance to finally play it.
Right now, Titanfall boasts an 87 metascore on GameSpot sister site Metacritic. That number only includes Xbox One scores.Polygon -- 9.5/10
"Titanfall is the rare game that feels like it came out on top of the few compromises Respawn has had to make. Sliding the spectacle and holy shit moments of an epic campaign among bold, fast multiplayer that steals unlikely elements, Respawn has made them shine like they belonged there all along. Titanfall may not mark the same kind of sea change that Modern Warfare started but the pieces are all there in a game that delivers on its potential as the next big thing." [Full review]Joystiq -- 4.5/5
"When it's not all a clash of the you-know-whats, when there's a volatile mix of scampering boots and earth-rattling bipeds on the battlefield, Titanfall truly excels. It subsists on imbalance and the race to bear big arms first. It feeds on the fallout that results when equality means the other guy gets a robot too. Titanfall isn't tuned to perfection for everyone yet, but it starts as a smart, swift, and startling movement in well-traveled space." [Full review]Official Xbox Magazine -- 8.5/10
"A consummate multiplayer shooter, Titanfall has little to offer those interested in story--but for everyone else, it's a must-play." [Full review]Electronic Gaming Monthly -- 10/10
"Titanfall lives up to all the expectations established when it was first revealed, in a way that so few games are able ever to accomplish, and represents nothing short of first-person shooter multiplayer taken to new heights." [Full review]GameSpot -- 9/10
"The overarching experience of playing Titanfall is one of rejuvenation and reinvigoration. The sprint speed, the arsenal, the game modes, and more are all firmly derived from some of the most successful online shooters of recent years. But by reinventing the way you move, Titanfall reinvents what it feels like to play a competitive shooter. The high-flying action intertwines beautifully with the brutish, tactical titan battles, creating battlefields that crackle with possibility. Titanfall is a leap forward for shooters, a game that combines the vibrant and new with the tried and true to create something special." [Full review]The Globe and Mail (Toronto) -- 7/10
"The total lack of single-player capability is at odds with most other FPS games. If the likes of Call of Duty or Halo can provide both single- and multiplayer modes for the same price tag, it doesn't seem right that Titanfall can't. While Respawn and EA are cutting down on the price of development by foregoing single-player, those savings aren't being passed on to gamers, which is the concerning part of the game. At the very least, including an offline AI bot mode would seem to be a no-brainer, but it's not here for whatever reason. So, while Titanfall delivers amazing next-generation action, its next-generation business plan isn't nearly as impressive." [Full review]Videogamer -- 8/10
"But for all its strengths, its reliance on tried and true modes and rigid maps stops Titanfall achieving its full potential. Capture the Flag, Attrition, and Domination are the best gametypes, but none of them show the same invention that's occurring elsewhere in the title, leading to a feeling of natural fatigue. Some of the maps also feel too similar to each other, lacking in distinction, and campaign multiplayer is sadly non-dynamic. A very good first installment then, but the best is yet to come." [Full review]VentureBeat -- 8.2/10
"For a multiplayer-only game, Titanfall should have some amazing options and ways to play. But it doesn't. It has a very healthy number of maps (15), but the lack of interesting new modes will make you feel shortchanged for not getting a single-player campaign. Hell, even shooters like Halo 2 from two console generations ago offer more in the multiplayer-options department. A lot more. It all feels like a temporary stop for Respawn on the way to Titanfall 2. But what is there is so incredible, assuming you're already into such games. (Don't like shooting things? Nothing here will change your mind.) After almost 20 hours of playtime, my hands are cramped from gripping the controller so tightly--and I'm going back for more." [Full review]
For more on the critical reception for Titanfall, be sure to read Metacritic's full coverage of the game.Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuchGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email email@example.com
Majesco Entertainment's indie publishing arm Midnight City, also behind the just-announced Costume Quest 2, is bringing Gone Home to consoles.
It's not clear which platforms specifically Gone Home is coming to. But on Twitter, Midnight City released this statement: "Nothing specific yet. We'll be sure to let everyone know when we can."
GameSpot awarded Gone Home a 9.5 in our review from August 2013. The game tells the story of a young woman who comes home after a year in Europe to find an empty house and must then unravel the mystery of why she is now all alone.
For more on Gone Home, check out GameSpot's review.Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuchGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
You might not have known that publisher Majesco has an indie label called Midnight City, but they're working hard to get your attention. In addition to the news today that they're helping the Fullbright Company bring Gone Home to console, they're also working with Double Fine to publish Costume Quest 2.
A sequel to the Halloween-themed RPG Costume Quest, the game was originally created by Double Fine's Tasha Harris during the company's Amnesia Fortnight game development event. She left Double Fine in 2011 to work at Pixar as the lead franchise artist.
We'll update this story with more details as they become available, but be sure to check out the announcement trailer below!
Justin Haywald is a senior editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @JustinHaywaldGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email email@example.com
Ubisoft Toronto currently has five unannounced projects in development, studio boss Jade Raymond said this weekend at SXSW.Jade Raymond
"There are definitely a lot of plates spinning," Raymond said, as reported by The Star. "None of them have been announced."
That's not a lot to go on, but Raymond also said two of these projects are co-developments with other Ubisoft studios, which tallies with what Raymond said last year.
At the time, Raymond confirmed that one of Ubisoft Toronto's collaborative projects is a new entry in the Assassin's Creed series, while the other is for one of Ubisoft's "biggest" franchises. This project remains a mystery, but it's possible that Ubisoft Toronto is working on the all-but-confirmed Far Cry 4.
In addition to the two collaborative titles, Raymond said last year that two additional projects are new IP, while the fifth is related to the Splinter Cell franchise.
She also said that Ubisoft Toronto had completed work on the multiplayer component for the long-dormant Rainbow Six: Patriots.
Ubisoft Toronto's Current Development Pipeline:
- New Assassin's Creed
- Two new IP
- New Splinter Cell game
- Mystery game based on one of Ubisoft's "biggest" franchises
Also during her talk at SXSW this weekend, Raymond said she hopes to expand Ubisoft's library to include games built specifically for smartphones and tablets.
"A good game on those devices is different from a good game on consoles, so I definitely believe they deserve their own franchises," Raymond said. She went on to say that games with a strong "social" component will become more prominent in the future.
Ubisoft Toronto's most recent title was last summer's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuchGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Real-time strategy games have never had much trouble breaking into the online arena. From StarCraft to Company of Heroes, this genre has given the competitive scene some of its fiercest competition. However, the same cannot be said for its turn-based counterparts. Games such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions may have multiplayer modes, but they've never garnered the same sort of rabid dedication. Keith Lee and the team at Counterplay Games think they know the reason why, and are hoping to put that knowledge to work making their squad-based strategy game Duelyst a hit with competitive players.Defeating a player's general, such as the one highlighted on red's side, is your primary goal in Duelyst.
As long-time strategy fans themselves, the team at Counterplay Games designed Duelyst to be their solution to a lingering problem in the turn-based strategy genre. "We’ve always loved tactics-style games and squad-based combat," Lee explained, "but have noticed nearly every game out there focuses solely on the single-player aspect. A lot of these games are missing a [comprehensive], competitive multiplayer mode. So the vision for us became, 'Let’s marry squad-based tactical combat with a focus on ranked, competitive play. Let’s build the very best in that field.'"Each faction in Duelyst has a distinct style.
In Duelyst, you and your opponent each control a small army. These two armies take turns waging war on each other with the ultimate goal of defeating the other player’s general, a of similar importance to the king in chess. Unlike in chess, however, the troops on this board must be drawn from a deck of cards first. This is where the game’s card game inspirations come into play. In addition to commanding an army, you also have a hand of cards. Some of these cards let you summon new units to the field, while others are magical spells that can further augment your fighting strength.
Of course, all this unit summoning and spell casting doesn’t happen for free. Almost everything you do in Duelyst--from moving a unit to attacking to casting a spell--costs a little mana, and all your mana comes from a single source. This means if you have four mana points and spend them all on some flashy spell, you can't move or attack with any of your troops that turn. Thankfully, your mana refills completely at the start of your next turn, and the maximum amount you have to play with increases as well. This means at the start of a game you can only issues orders to some of your units, but by the end you will be ordering units and casting spells all across the board.
As Lee described it, this shared mana pool is to help prevent Duelyst from becoming a war of attrition. Since the game was designed with ranked, competitive play in mind, the team wants matches to proceed at a brisk pace and hopefully not take more than 30 minutes to complete. Having a 90 second time limit per turn during ranked play also helps keep things moving along. The game has two ranked modes in the works: a custom mode where you battle using your pre-made deck, and a draft mode where you and your opponent take turns building a deck from a shared collection of randomly-selected cards. For those who would rather not have to worry about a time limit, there will also be unranked match types as well.Here, yellow player has four mana points to spend on new units and spells (bottom) or on moving and attacking with some of his troops.
Regardless of which mode you play online, the team at Counterplay wants to keep you engaged in the battle even when it’s not your turn. To do this they’re taking a page from Hearthstone’s book by letting you see what the other player’s cursor is doing during his or her turn. This could give you some insight into what your opponent is thinking--whether they’re confident, flustered, or otherwise. Duelyst is scheduled for release sometime later this year on PC and Mac, and is currently seeking additional funding through Kickstarter.
Battlefield 4 players on PC already have the ability to rent servers for the multiplayer shooter, and soon console users will have the same access, developer DICE has confirmed.
Writing on Battlelog, an Electronic Arts representative said, "Indeed, it is coming. I'm afraid we don't have any information on this quite yet, but it is coming soon!" Details on console server rentals will be shared at a later date through Battlelog.
PC players can currently rent Battlefield 4 servers for a fee that varies depending on duration and provider. Similar server rental functionality was available for Battlefield 3 across PC and consoles.
Why pay for a Battlefield 4 server? As a server administrator, you can configure game rules like making your server private/public, determining which maps and modes are played, and more. You're also able to manage players on your server and can kick, ban, and mute them at will.Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuchGot a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email email@example.com
When you look at Titanfall, it's easy to see the familiar. Most of the weapons, grenades, and abilities fill well-worn niches. Many of the environments are like the grimy villages and industrial complexes that have hosted countless online battles in dozens of other games. The competitive modes are bog standard. And yet, when you play Titanfall, it's impossible to shake the feeling that you're playing something special.
The key is mobility. Titanfall gives you the ability to leap, climb, and wall-run your way around the map, and these simple actions create an exhilarating array of possibilities. No longer constrained by corridors and stairwells, you and your foes engage in high-flying, freewheeling combat in which the sheer joy of movement makes the familiar feel fresh and vibrant. This novel brand of warfare is enough to heartily recommend the game, but that's not all that this multiplayer-only shooter does well. You also clash with your foes in lumbering battle mechs called titans. These powerful brutes fuel a weightier, more tactical type of combat that intertwines beautifully with the light-footed action, and herein lies Titanfall's triumph: two distinct kinds of combat blending seamlessly together to create chaotic and dynamic battlefields unlike anything you've ever experienced.
So how does this mobility work? As a jump kit-equipped pilot, the stunts you can perform all stem from two abilities: the double jump and the wall run. The first one is self-explanatory and allows you to surmount shipping containers and leap into second story windows with ease. The second one is dependent on the angle of your approach. If you run straight at a wall and leap into it, you're stuck trying to double jump your way to a window or a roof. If, however, you come at a wall from an acute angle, you automatically start running along that wall horizontally. Once you start wall running, your double jump capability resets, and then the fun begins.
If you spot an enemy down an alley, you can wall run straight at him, bouncing back and forth between parallel walls to make yourself a tougher target. If you're trying to cross a courtyard, then double jump off the rooftop, wall run along a billboard, and double jump again to another rooftop. And how did you get on the roof in the first place? Perhaps by wall jumping upwards, back and forth between two buildings, or perhaps by leaping out of a top floor window and double jumping back on to the roof. Though the moves you can eventually perform are complex, the root of every maneuver is those two simple abilities. A solid tutorial puts you through the initial paces, and though it might take a few matches to get a good sense of how your pilot sticks to walls, it's easy to start chaining together impressive feats very early on.
This makes simply moving around the map both a continual pleasure and a constant challenge, as you gleefully try to exploit every billboard, building, and zipline to your advantage. The 15 maps are all rich with opportunities for creative locomotion. Titanfall takes place on distant colonies in the space-faring future, where the polished steel of well-established settlements contrasts with the rusty metal of frontier outposts. Dense urban areas play host to daring rooftop acrobatics, while a corporate enclave provides curving architectural lines for pilots to exploit. Many buildings have open interior spaces as well, so weaving in and out of windows and changing elevation rapidly is par for the course. It's always empowering to learn the maps in a competitive shooter, but this satisfaction is heightened in Titanfall because your expanded mobility means there is so much more to learn.The hunt is on.
It also means that your enemies can come at you from almost any direction. Pilots move at a brisk clip, so there's a lot of potential for quick flanking runs and rapid pursuits. They are also fairly fragile, succumbing to a few well-placed shots much like their military-shooter counterparts. This encourages you to be even more aware of your surroundings and to take advantage of one of the more disruptive maneuvers in the game: the wall hang. At almost any time you're running along or jumping onto a wall, you can stop and hang, take aim, and fire. Being able to switch quickly from wall running to guns blazing helps ensure that a mobile pilot is not a vulnerable pilot, and the potential for ambushing players by hanging in unexpected places is nearly endless.
Fortunately, one of the tactical abilities allows you to temporarily see your enemies' skeletons through walls and spot any potential ambushes. The other two--turning nearly invisible and boosting speed and regeneration--round out a trio of powers that have been extensively utilized by other games and aren't initially very exciting. But like so much in Titanfall, these familiar abilities take on new life because the extensive player mobility allows you to employ them in new ways.
A mobile pilot is not a vulnerable pilot, and the potential for ambushing players by hanging in unexpected places is nearly endless.
This applies to the weapons as well. Titanfall gives you a few options for close-quarters, mid-distance, and long-range engagements, and almost all of them are straightforward variants of the weapons commonly featured in military shooters. Making the best of them while leaping this way and that is a fresh challenge for the old standbys, but there's one newcomer that feels purpose-built for acrobatic firefights: the smart pistol. As long as you can keep an enemy pilot in the large bracketed targeting reticle, this pistol locks on with the three shots necessary for a kill, and fires them all with one pull of the trigger. It takes a few long seconds though, so if they get out of range or spot you, the lock-on is no longer a sure thing. It's a neat twist on the humble sidearm, especially when you go hunting for grunts.
Grunts (and their slightly tougher robotic counterparts, spectres) are AI soldiers that deploy into battle in every match. They're not programmed to approximate the skills of human players like bots in other multiplayer shooters. A group of them can kill a wounded or reckless pilot, but they're more effective at making the 12-player battles feel more lively and populated. Sometimes they'll just deploy and stand around stupidly, but often you'll seem them behaving more naturally by clearing buildings of enemy grunts, engaging in pitched firefights, dragging wounded allies to safety, or duking it out in hand-to-hand combat. Killing them can give you points towards victory, progress towards unlocking weapon attachments, and reductions in how long it takes to build your titan.Smart pistol, dumb grunts.
The faster you kill enemy pilots and grunts, the sooner you can call down your titan, a two-story battle robot with a cockpit that only you can enter. These behemoths appear on the battlefield early on and they are forces to be reckoned with. Primary weapons that include rocket launchers, chainguns, and lightning cannons combine with shoulder-mounted ordnance to pack a huge offensive punch, and titans can also throw huge offensive punches. These weapons are complemented by defensive abilities that enable titans to block incoming fire, release an obscuring cloud of damaging smoke, or catch all incoming projectiles and throw them at an enemy. You haven't lived until you've played catch with a deadly salvo of explosive rockets.
Who catches the rockets and who gets hit depends on who times their abilities properly and maneuvers correctly. Titan battles are much more tactical and drawn out than pilot skirmishes. Managing your regenerating shield and dashing in and out of cover play heavily into the outcome, as does your loadout choice. The three titan chassis are light, medium, and heavy variants, with speed and armor strength inversely related, as they so often are. Each has a special power core that charges up and can be activated to tip the odds in your favor by temporarily boosting shields, damage output, or speed. Titan fights are as tense and exciting as pilot fights, though they move at a slower pace, but don't make the mistake of thinking the two occur independently of each other.
On the contrary, the thing that makes Titanfall's combat so chaotic and thrilling is that pilots and titans are both a threat to each other. All pilots are armed with anti-titan weapons that make them significant threats, and they can easily jump on top of enemy titans, rip open a protective panel, and start blasting the mechanical innards. If the titan isn't properly equipped and doesn't have an ally nearby, this so-called rodeo attack will quickly turn deadly unless the pilot hops out and deals with the attacker on foot. This doesn't leave the titan helpless, however, as it has an on-board AI of its own that kicks in as soon as its pilot jumps out.
Between pilots and titans, there are a lot of different elements that come together in Titanfall matches, and they do so with remarkable fluidity. Each map is designed to let both pilot and titan thrive; some areas are only accessible to pilots, others are the domain of titans, but large swathes accommodate both in the struggle for dominance. You could be pursuing an enemy pilot on foot only to have them leap inside the protective shield of their freshly-summoned titan and turn the tables on you. Perhaps you're lumbering after an enemy titan and they dash around one corner while another titan emerges and a pilot starts to rodeo you; what do you do? Charge after the ailing titan or take on the new threat? Exit the front of your titan to deal with your unwanted passenger or sacrifice your titan by ejecting yourself and your attacker up into the sky for a mid-air duel? These are the kinds of decisions you are regularly confronted with, and they often result in the kinds of stories you can't wait to tell your friends.
These stories can play out in either campaign multiplayer or classic multiplayer, with the former having a story of its own to tell. It's one you've heard before: a struggle between an overbearing government and the frontier people that want the freedom to live their lives. Campaign multiplayer can be played from either side of the conflict, but either way, the nine scenarios are always the same. Each one is a specific multiplayer match type on a specific map, bookended (and sometimes padded mid-mission) by voiceover describing who is trying to accomplish what and what is standing in their way. The narrative elements are very minimal, but there are customization unlocks you can only get by finishing the campaign, so you might as well see it through to the end (it's just a series of multiplayer matches, after all). This isn't to say Titanfall's setting won't pique your interest; the maps are rich with design elements that create a gratifying sense of place, like dirty neon signs and strange alien creatures. It's a shame that the campaign doesn't elaborate on these intriguing bits, but as it stands, the best stories are the ones you create yourself.If your titan's ready when you respawn, ride it into battle!
Titanfall adds a little extra spice to those stories with burn cards, which you earn by completing challenges. These one-use power-ups bestow a range of benefits, including souped-up weapons, longer-lasting abilities, and bigger bonuses that might convert enemy spectres to your side or show you everyone's position on the minimap. Yet for all the wonderful variability of the actual combat, there are only five game modes to choose from in the more-traditional lobbies of classic multiplayer. Attrition is Titanfall's take on team deathmatch, with victory points tallied for titan, pilot, and grunt kills. Making grunt slaughter a viable way to contribute to the team makes this one of the most strategically flexible modes in the game, as you could conceivably never target a human player and still be an asset to your team. Pilot hunter strips this strategy away, awarding points only for pilot kills, though of course, titan and grunt kills still earn you experience points that go towards unlocking new weapons and customization options.
Hardpoint domination focuses on control of three specific points and capture the flag is, well, capture the flag. Tired as these two modes may sound, it's a lot of fun to wall hang near a point to catch enemies unawares or to flee with the enemy team's flag, leaping and running off of walls until you snag a zipline to speed off towards your base. And if you happen to lose, all is not lost. An epilogue phase challenges the losing team to escape to an evacuation ship to save face and gain a nice XP bonus. Meanwhile, the victors try to add insult to injury by preventing the enemy's escape. This extra contest ends matches with a novel flurry of activity in which everyone has one last chance to make good.
The final mode is last titan standing, in which everyone spawns in a titan. Battle rages until one team's titans are all eliminated, and then it's on to the next round until one team has four victories. This mode shines a spotlight on titan tactics and teamwork. Having a heavily-shielded, projectile-catching bruiser lead the way while others bombard from afar and a speedy titan skirts around for a flanking run can be effective, as can a variety of other maneuvers. Parking your titan in one corner of the map and harrying the enemy as a pilot is also a viable move, and though the action is less freewheeling in this mode, it works well as a more focused kind of fight.
The best stories are the ones you create yourself.
Of course, an online multiplayer-only game like Titanfall is only as good as its servers, and how they fare when the eager hordes descend on them remains to be seen. The About the Author section of this review contains more information on the circumstances in which I played it, which weren't always ideal. I experienced a few laggy matches and occasional frame rate issues, but these in-game hitches were the exception to the rule during the many hours I played.
The overarching experience of playing Titanfall is one of rejuvenation and reinvigoration. The sprint speed, the arsenal, the game modes, and more are all firmly derived from some of the most successful online shooters of recent years. But by reinventing the way you move, Titanfall reinvents what it feels like to play a competitive shooter. The high-flying action intertwines beautifully with the brutish, tactical titan battles, creating battlefields that crackle with possibility. Titanfall is a leap forward for shooters, a game that combines the vibrant and new with the tried and true to create something special.