11.17.2017

THQ Nordic Releases Titan Quest: Ragnarok: A Whole NEW Expansion Pack

     In a completely surprising move, THQ Nordic has not just announced, but released a brand new expansion to the action-adventure RPG classic game Titan Quest today called Ragnarok!


     The last new expansion for the game came out just over a decade ago with March 2007's release of Titan Quest: Immortal Throne.  Now, Titan Quest's new fifth act, Ragnarok, brings our heroes into the cold and harsh lands of northern Europe, from the dark forests of Germany all the way to Asgard.  We'll encounter the Celts, Northmen, and even the Asgardian gods themselves in the largest act so far.  The glorious world of antiquity can be explored

     Players will have a plethora of new quests to complete featuring new weapons and gear, new enemies and bosses, a new 10th mastery, and even the most important cold-weather ability- wearing pants!
SOME KEY FEATURES:
Become a Runemaster, a magical warrior fighting with both, spells and weapons.
Combine newly learned with existing masteries for a total of 45 combinations.
Reach level 85 and maximize your character’s potential.
Find new and powerful gear, from colorful Celtic shields to famous weapons of Germanic legend.
New relics and charms for crafting, and a new option to improve even legendary items.
New thrown weapons strike the balance between range and speed!

IMPROVED CHARACTER CUSTOMIZATION:
A wider variety of regional styles and color dyes.
Finally: wear pants!

TECHNICAL AND QOL IMPROVEMENTS:
New shaders and graphical effects.
Improved ragdoll physics.
Improved UI and combat feedback for total information.
Improved control customization.
Improved modding tools.
     This is certainly a wonderful surprise for fans of Titan Quest.

     Note: the Ragnarok expansion requires Titan Quest: Anniversary Edition to be played.

     Play Titan Quest: Ragnarok via [ Steam ]
          It 's 25% with a current price of $14.99 (regularly $19.99) Offer ends Nov. 24th.

Marvel Heroes Omega: My Thoughts on Disney Officially Shutting it Down

THE OFFICIAL NEWS

     After 4 and a half years of having some serious ups and downs, Marvel Heroes is finally being closed.  Over the last month many of us long time players have been speculating about this possibility on the forums, the first news broke from Kotaku letting them know Disney/Marvel is parting ways with Gazillion.


     As a Marvel representative stated in an email to them:
“We regret to inform our Marvel Heroes fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the Marvel Heroes games will be shut down. We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available.”
     Later AgentPilot posted an official statement from Gazillion on their forums:
"We’re sad to inform our players and our entire Marvel Heroes family that Marvel Heroes Omega will be shutting down. The Marvel Heroes servers will stay on until Dec 31, 2017, and we’ll be removing real money purchases as soon as possible. Players will be able to play the game entirely for free once this sunset period commences. We will share the exact date things go completely free as soon as we can. 
We’ve had the privilege of entertaining and collaborating with our players for over four years. We’re extremely humbled by that privilege and wanted to get this message out: Thank you. Thank you to our players, our tireless employees, and everyone involved in the life of Marvel Heroes, Marvel Heroes 2015, Marvel Heroes 2016, and Marvel Heroes Omega."
THE PROBLEMS

     Gazillion has been in a very turbulent times ever since David Brevik (of Diablo 2 fame) departed the company in January 2016 (check out these threads, the tone of the forums drastically shifted), and having other Gaz employees like Doomsaw and Ryolnir go was another huge hit- resulting in a quick downhill slide of the game.  Former long-time Gaz Community Agent Fenixion posted his own decision to leave on the forums on Halloween definitely gave us more worries, as well as Agent Vapor's departure.
     Really, the only good to come out of this was the surprise return of former Gaz employee Doomsaw to the forums.  He swung through and found he still had moderator privileges, but they were quickly stripped even with no other Gaz members posting anything.  Since no Gaz employees were doing or saying anything, he voluntarily went and tried to raise hope and bring levity to the forums.
     Much more recently is the highly inappropriate sexual misconduct issues concerning Gazillion's CEO Dave Dohrmann, and the fallout it's having on the rest of the staff and company. [ More references: 1, 2, 3, 4 (at about the 1.5hr mark) ]  And then Gazillion going completely silent shortly after this. [ Great video by DisKingdom about companies (Gaz particularly) going silent. ]  The long awaited and promised Omega patch, along with numerous other things like the costume closet, the Halloween event, and Thor Ragnarok tie-in pack, never arrived for the scheduled Oct. 27th date.

MY THOUGHTS
   
     It's extremely disappointing to hear, but honestly the PC player base had been dwindling from being essentially neglected for the console ports after the "Biggest Update Ever" shit all over the game (the BUE essentially prepped and simplified the game to be ported)- while it made a lot of good starts, it completely ruined the way a great many of the characters could be played, eliminating the vast variety of character play styles and shoe-horned them into essentially only one viable build for each character.
     Gaz pretty much ditched the extremely loyal PC player base for the potential for new console players and it was an absolutely terrible choice.

     I'd previously written that, "It's the only game I've made an effort to play at least a half hour a day for the last year.  It's just amazing and it keeps getting better.  Thank you Gazillion.  Marvel Heroes 2016 is a must play for fans of any Marvel properties."  In all reality, I probably put in a thousand plus hours.  The original launch was a mess, but the game progressively made it amazing by the 2016 iteration, and until the Biggest Update Ever, was easily, without-a-doubt the best Marvel game ever made.  Sadly, after the BUE (and the changes in leadership and direction) the game never got back to what it was and what it could've been.

     It'll be very sad to see this game go, but honestly they could still make a few bucks by compressing what they can and makingthe game able to play on disc or download with private servers.  Sell the game as old games were, a whole item, playable without an internet connection.  Hell, just the Danger Room section itself could be sold (obviously we'd need to be able to keep all the crap we've already unlocked/bought) as a game in itself.  It'd also need to have the Hydra damage bugs toned WAY down, which should've been fixed a year ago.
     Though it makes me wonder if Disney and Marvel will still hold all the programming and assets and whatnot, and if they might bring in a new team to possibly relaunch the game somewhere down the line.
     As for me, I'll probably get a good couple weekends of play in on this, and go back to hyping the only other Marvel game I play every day- Marvel Future Fight.

     My own Marvel Heroes account link [ MrJRB ]

     Related-ish posts [ Future Fight ]

     Sources [ Massively OP & 2, 3 ] [ Kotaku ] [ HiMyNameIsLeo ] [ MMORPG ]

Morphite: Finally Arriving on Android Next Week!

     I've been following and reporting on Morphite since the beginning, nearly a year and a half ago.  Posting on it both here, and over at Droidgamers (1 & 2), and when they announced the release date I was overly excited!  But that excitement was quickly quashed when Crescent Moon Games said that it was only hitting the Nintendo Switch, X Box One, PS4, and Steam in September, then in October for iOS users, and is with the curse of Android gaming, we were going to have to wait a while longer after that.


     Considering it was originally hyped as game for the mobile market, it's been a long, long wait for this glorious game.  If the reviews on all the other systems are any indication, Morphite's arrival on Android will be well worth the wait.  We will finally have a decent combination of Metroid Prime and No Man's Sky in the palms of our droid gaming hands for some action-packed space adventures.

11.10.2017

Slaughter 2: Prison Assault NEW Trailer

     The first Slaughter game was a genuine surprise for mobile gamers.  It came out of nowhere from creator/developer Ray Spark (aka Venomized Art).  He brought us a truly sublime 3rd person shooter for mobile.  I've said over and over that Slaughter had great controls, tons of action, loads of fun, and even some oddball Borderlands-esque humor all crammed into our pocket.
     Then I found out he announced a sequel and was downright ecstatic, and with each new teaser my excitement grew.  Now, as we inch ever closer towards launch day, we've received yet another great new trailer showcasing some awesome footage featuring new locations, hints of the story, and even a peek at some of the improved combat- and it certainly looks amazing


     Where the first game put players in the shoes of a mercenary named Russel fleeing a town populated with hordes of madmen, the sequel places you on the opposite side of things and into the role of one of the Special Forces soldiers that crossed paths with Russel.  It has also been confirmed that Slaughter 2 will at some point cross-over in terms of story with the first game.

     Spark has said the game will have better graphics, animations, and a bunch of new weapons and enemies.  Slaughter 2: Prison Assault is set to be about twice the length of its predecessor in terms of gameplay, along with a bunch of additional trivia, texts, and in game secrets to uncover! 

     Slaughter 2: Prison Assault will be available "SOOOOOOOON!"*

     The first Slaughter is currently available for $.99 on [ Google Play ] [ iOS ]

*This new trailer was listed as being for a Google Play technical preview.

11.06.2017

DC Unchained: Delayed to 2018

     After it was revealed at Comic Con Seoul, the upcoming mobile action-RPG game DC Unchained has been oddly missing from the news.  In late October however, the developers released some potential bad news for the title.


     Due to some financial woes, DC Unchained developer FourThirtyThree, Inc (4:33 Creative Labs), a one time top South Korean developer, has reported massive net losses since 2014 with  great competition from mobile game giants like Nexon and NetMarble (who make the Marvel comics equivalent game called Marvel Future Fight).  Since the announcement 4:33 has had to make huge alterations to their business model after having no break out titles in years.  They had an emergency board meeting to discuss and plan a new business strategy, which includes a move away from creating 3rd party and move towards more self-developed IPs and titles, as well as reductions in manpower in marketing and publishing roles.  While 4:33 have said there's been no restructuring, they have offered employees the opportunity to retire from the company.

     The company has stated that any games that already have 3rd party deals will remain unaffected.  With that, they've got Blade 2, Boxing Star, and DC Unchained on the way to hopefully alleviated the financial troubles.  Part of the announcement mentioned the fact that DC Unchained will not hit the expected release of late 2017 in time for the release of the Justice League film, but rather the game will be released in 2018- and it has been confirmed to be coming to western markets for certain.

     Sources [ MMO Culture ] [ NewsNews ]

11.03.2017

Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Voice Cast Announced & Worrisome Changes

THE CAST

     Yesterday, Nickelodeon announced the voice cast for their upcoming 26 episode 2D re-imagining of the TMNT series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.



     The cast all sounds pretty good so far.  We'll be getting Omar Miller as Raphael, Ben Schwartz as Leonardo, Josh Brener as Donatello, Brandon Mychal Smith as Michelangelo, Kat Graham as April O’Neil, and lastly TMNT vet Eric Bauza as Splinter.  I'm particularly pumped for Brandon Mychal Smith's Michelangelo, and curious to hear Bauza as Splinter after he voiced Nickelodeon's current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Tiger Claw.

     And with the cast comes the official plot summary:
     Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follows Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo on all-new adventures as they seek to unlock the mystical secrets of New York City. From the tallest skyscraper to the dankest sewer drain, the Turtles will encounter absurd new mutants and battle bizarre creatures all while enjoying their favorite slice of pizza. 
     Tapping into mystic, ninja powers they never knew existed, the four brothers must learn to work together and navigate the perils of the modern age and hidden realms in order to fulfill their destiny to become a team of heroes.
THE WORRISOME CHANGES

     Now comes the parts that worry me.  With the re-imagining of the Turtles, comes the changes.  With all iterations some changes can be great, and there shouldn't really be problems with those, but there are always some that don't really quite make sense.  Such is the case with the fact they are seemingly altering a piece of the brothers' foundation of their relationships. That part is a little irksome to say the least.
     While Michelangelo, Donatello, Splinter, and April all remain in their archetypal roles, Leonardo and Raphael are apparently being swapped which makes little sense. 
     From Nickelodeon's source article, they say, "Raphael, as the oldest and physically biggest brother, he is now the leader and his enthusiasm and bravado puts him front and center for most of their bizarre adventures; Leonardo, the self-professed ‘coolest’ brother possesses irreverent charm and a rebel heart." 
     What bothers me is the fact that Nickelodeon is completely changing the foundation of these two.  Since the beginning, I've always seen all four brothers as representing very distinct archetypes, and with the alteration of two, that changes the team's entire dynamic.  Raph has been the fire of passionate emotion, Leo was the more level-headed water, constantly flowing and seeking a true balance, Don was the stable Earthly, logical mind, Mikey is the airy heart, wild and free- and Splinter connected them all as the spiritual core. 
     Think of how these fundamental character principles effect the group's relationships- and for a great reference, look at how Avatar: The Last Airbender uses the same core ideas with their own characters as elemental Benders.  This shift will put the emotion in the role of leader instead of the less turbulent flowing of water and that goes against, not just the TMNT's own history and precedent, but flies in the face of mythological/archetypal basis- Raph's pure emotion shouldn't rule, in the same way that Mikey's heart or Donatello's pure logic shouldn't lead the team.  It'd be the equivalent of having an instinctually Id driven person, without the guidance of the Super Ego (Leo), balancing the pure unconscious (Mike), Id (Raph), and rational Ego (Don).  This is something that will eat at the back of my mind for a while, and is definitely something more for me to ruminate on to possibly flesh out more and explain better.

     As a lifelong Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, but I'm going to be very, VERY skeptical going in to the show.

     Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to premiere in 2018 on Nickelodeon.

     For related posts [ TMNT ]

     Source [ Nickelodeon ]

10.31.2017

Disney TOYBOX Action Figures: Lineup, Price, and Packaging Revealed!

     About a week ago Disney Infinity fans received a small bit of good news.  The Disney Store teased the release of new action figures featuring the extremely distinct Infinity art design style.


     Now, it must be stated for clarity- these are NOT Disney Infinity extensions and don't have anything to do with the game- they are only action figures based on the art style.  The designs were taken from Infinity and re-engineered into a completely new toyline, with added articulation, and will be launched under the "Toybox" as an homage to the game, as was confirmed by former Disney Infinity VP of Production John Vignocchi on twitter.

     The launch lineup will include figures from Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar franchises.  There will be Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Jessie from the Toy Story films as the Pixar Toybox figures, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man from the Marvel Toybox, and lastly, Rey, Kylo Ren, and a First Order Stormtrooper from The Force Awakens in the Star Wars Toybox.
     They all look amazing and have great packaging, and I really hope they continue the Toybox line with many more to come.

     The figures will be available EXCLUSIVELY on ShopDisney for $12.95 each on Nov. 3rd.

     Source [ Jason Inquires ]

10.25.2017

Disney INfinity Returns via TOYBOX Action Figures

INFINITE POSSIBILITIES

     Last year was a bad year for Disney INfinity.  Small problems began began to emerge with the announcement that the Marvel Battlegrounds play set would ship with a single figure, then there was news that there would not be a 4.0 release, but rather 3.0 would be getting updates to continue the Infinity line.  In March Disney Interactive said they'd be dropping out of E3 without a reason giving, and then they officially announced in May of 2016 the video game series would be cancelled.


ENDLESS FUN

     It was a shock to fans, and there were a slew of problems that could've easily put off the toys-to-life game's closure- such as adding far more actual game content, more replayability, and even the simple feature of resetting a figure's data more than twice could've gone a long ways to it selling better.
     What the series did right, however, was in the art design.  The Disney INfinity design style was absolutely superb, and now fans of it are in for a treat.  Disney INfinity focused Youtube channel Infiniteer Adventures spotted an intriguing ad on the Disney Shop- showing that on November 3rd, Disney is releasing action figures that look exactly like they are ripped straight from the game's gorgeous designs.  Making the case even stronger, is the fact this toy series appears to be named directly after the specific Disney INfinity game feature called the TOYBOX as can be seen from the image above, featuring Rey and a Stormtrooper from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens playset.

     It's great to see that such wonderful toy designs are being salvaged for an even better use, bringing us articulated versions of the INfinity toys from Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar properties.  This also offers the opportunity for fans to potentially obtain some of the previously cancelled figures such as Spider-Gwen, or the truly stunning looking Doctor Strange toy.  This is some truly exciting news coming a year and a half after the closing of the game and someone was smart enough to have held on to the game's slogan and put it to great use- "Infinite Possibilities, Endless Fun-" and we can all be thankful for it.

     Related posts [ Disney INfinity ]   

     Source [ Infiniteer Adventures ]

10.23.2017

TMNT: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Return to Arcades with a WHOLE NEW GAME!!!


     The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a long history in video games, loaded with many ups and downs, with occasional oddball gems that really stands out.  In recent years there's been some decent attempts to regain that special something that the old arcade quarter-munchers had and the home ones did not.  It's been nearly 30 years since Konami's original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game first hit arcades and Raw Thrills, Inc is looking to bring back those beat 'em up glory days with an all new adventure featuring our favorite heroes in a half shell.

     Modern arcade game developer Raw Thrills has been hard at work on reviving an old fan-favorite arcade genre staple in the form of a brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brawler beat 'em up, and hopefully proving to us that there are still turtles games to look forward to.  This completely original TMNT game is based on the look of the extremely popular Nickelodeon cartoon, which will be finishing up season 5 in November.
     "This new version of TMNT is a completely new re-imagining of the brawler concept. There are more moves, more environmental interaction, cool Turtle Power special attacks, voiceover from the entire cast (including Seth Green and others)… it’s really amazing."
     Many fans will be quite excited to have this TMNT nostalgia returning to the coin-operated gaming for the first time in decades, and Raw Thrills, Inc plans to have a demo at this year’s International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expo in November.

     This could possibly be the game I've been asking for for years, in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows game review I wrote:
"I think a bigger and better studio may have been able to truly pull off an open-world 4 player co-op beat-em-up much better than this- a game to match the ambition this one so desperately strove for.  We just haven't found the right company to do it justice yet.  Maybe Activision can find a group to do it with the Nickelodeon series on a larger scale. 
     As a lifelong fan since I was about 5 years old, that is what I would want.  A huge action RPG brawler, maybe even a hack-n-slash, in a fully open world of Manhattan, complete with sewer system.  The world should be as large as any of the GTA games by Rockstar, and it should be filled with plenty of baddies and mini-missions.  Take note Activision- Traveller's Tales' Lego Marvel Superheroes did it right with the large cityscape full of fun mayhem to be had with a couple hundred characters to swap around.  Copy that and improve on it."
     Now, I know Raw Thrills' game won't be expansive enough to encompass a huge open world for a beat 'em up, but the mere fact they are returning to the roots of TMNT gaming is a wonderful thing.  I'd even consider the fact that they may steal the crown for best turtles game which I personally believe to be 2007's TMNT for the Nintendo GBA.  This could be the start fans of the franchise have been waiting for to point the following games towards what we've been wanting for years.

     I can't wait to play this at an arcade cabinet soon. And pray to the reptilian gods that this game may find a port to home consoles or mobile devices.

     For related posts [ TMNT ]

     Source [ Arcade Heroes ]

10.17.2017

EA Delays Star Wars Project & Shutters Visceral Games

OF MIDICHLORIANS...

     Everyone's least favorite company EA has brought us a double dose of great news today- not only is Visceral Games being closed, but their current Star Wars project is being "revamped and moved to a different studio."


     EA's Executive VP Patrick Söderlund released this news in a game update post, including the unfortunate shuttering of the developers behind the tremendous Dead Space series, which declined in popularity after EA started implementing its own monetizations and the like- and thus diluting the sci fi horror roots that made the first game so damned good. 

...AND MICROTRANSACTIONS

     Through game test concepts and feedback through development, and after hearing "what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace," EA's decided to make these changes.  EA claims to be "reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore."
     They say they wanted to pivot the way the game plays in a broader, more varied experience, allegedly offering players "more agency" in a way that will give us a greater depth and breadth to the exploration of the Star Wars universe.  Though that might sound great, it also sounds like it really means the core of Visceral's initial plot and design will be plucked from its dying body and replaced with an emotionless, dead loot box heart- presumably to be filled with vast and shitty Midichlorian-filled load of microtransactions and a multiplayer focus.

THE FORCE ASPHYXIATED

     This doesn't bode well for the Star Wars game as it sounded like the game was "shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game," under Visceral's good hands, but now it may be becoming something much closer in alignment with EA's push towards a "games as service model."  Meaning it might wind up like Battlefront, being all hype and no substance, and completely riddled with preposterous microtransactions for every little thing, of which we can only expect more of this same old shit from with the release of Battlefront 2 soon.  It's the same thing for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars: Force Collection, and Star Wars: Force Arena, they are cheap games designed to siphon money off of players instead of creating a unique and memorable story in a beloved franchise.  All the really good Star Wars games have been cancelled or shut down- Star Wars: 1313,  the mobile game Star Wars: Uprising, the Untitled Darth Maul Project, and the amazing potential of Disney Infinity.
     So when EA says, "We want to take the time to get each game right, to make it unique, to make it amazing," I don't believe it.  When the game arrives we'll see if they really want a good story and experience, or if it follows the path of the Dead Space games, getting worse with each new installment, getting worse with each step away from a great single player experience, and closer to the large multiplayer messes.  We even know that Dead Space 3's original plan was great, and EA flubbed that up in the name of the almighty dollar, proving that they've become the money-hungry monsters worshiping a Marker with a big green S spray-painted on its front.

     A team from EA Vancouver will lead devs from EA Worldwide in picking up and working where Visceral left off.  The Star Wars game was expected to release in the late fiscal year end of 2019, but has been delayed and awaits a new anticipated release date to be announced at another time.

     On a lighter note, here's a fun, old Star Wars: Tiny Death Star post.

     Source [ EA ]