GamesRadar - PC Features, 28 Jan 2015 07:50:45 -0800Why Sonic should be retired - by the last person who cared, 28 Jan 2015 07:50:45 -0800 out GR+&#39;s newest show: First To Five!, 27 Jan 2015 16:00:00 -0800 of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC kicks off with Havoc <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If you're a series fan, you know <i>exactly</i> what you're in for with <a href="" target="_blank">Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare</a>'s slate of upcoming DLC. That's not really a bad thing, mind - the heavyweight shooter series knows how to make a map pack sing, with oodles of new score streaks and timed events to keep players guessing. Not to mention the indispensalbe Exo Zombies mode, which furthers CoD's fine tradition of cheesy undead survival... this time, with super-powered exoskeletons. <p>As per usual, each pack will hit Xbox One and Xbox 360 first, with release on all the other platforms expected about a month later. Each of the four packs is available on its own for $14.99/£11.59 or as part of the $49.99/£34.99 season pass - which includes a few other bonuses such as the Atlas Gorge map and early access to DLC weapons. Click on for more details on each pack as we get them, and make sure to check back in as the season rolls on!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You want more competitive maps? Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's Havoc DLC has more competitive maps. Four more, to be exact: Core, Urban, Drift, and Sideshow, and you can click on to see screenshots and brief synopses for each one. But what good is a bunch of new stages without some new guns to carve them up? Thankfully, Havoc also drops in the AE4 directed energy assault rifle and its customized variant, the AE4 Widowmaker. <p>Advanced Warfare's first DLC pack also includes the first episode of the Exo Zombies campaign, which sees four civilian employees of the Atlas corporation struggling to survive against an outbreak among the company's elite soldiers. And yes, it amps up the now-standard camp factor, complete with face-captured performances from John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Rose McGowan, and Jon Bernthal that will leave you asking "Kevin Spacey who?"</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>That's all we know about Advanced Warfare's DLC plans so far, but we'll update this article with all the details on Havoc, Ascendance, Supremacy, and Reckoning as we get them. Until then, what are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments! <p><b><i>Looking for more Advanced Warfare? Make sure not to miss our <a href="" target="_blank">review</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">8 tips to help you dominate in multiplayer</a>.</b></i></caption> </div> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0800 awful AI archetypes we never want to see again <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Until humanity devises a way to build the lifelike robot version of a young Haley Joel Osment, artificial intelligence will always be a work in progress. I'm no programmer, so I can't speak to the complexities of making a machine act like a real person, or seemingly take up an agenda of its own. But I do know a thing or two about what makes for a good gameplay experience - which AI behavior can make or break, given the crucial role it plays in believability of the world and enjoyment of the combat. But too often, some form of decidedly <i>less-advanced</i> AI rears its ugly NPC face to ruin everyone's fun with positively inhuman or insane behaviors. <p>Certain kinds of wonky AI seem to crop up all over the gaming ecosystem, across all kinds of genres and generations. But these nine AI archetypes are so common, you'd think their faulty algorithms would've been worked out by now. Let's take a look at some of the stupidest types of game AI to ever rip us out of any immersion like a [humorous metaphor] [sentence punctuation] [continue to next slide]</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>They say it's dangerous to go alone - but forcing you to buddy up with a Thickheaded Teammate is more hazardous to your health than solitude ever could be. With their endless parade of flagrant idiocy, you'd think that they were a double agent, set up as part of your squad to sabotage your efforts at every turn. When they're not shooting you in the back of the head, they're stepping in your line of fire. Giving them a health item means they'll either waste it on the most minor wounds imaginable, or completely forget they have it when they're fatally bleeding out. As you watch in disbelief while your Thickheaded Teammate struggles to navigate stairs or bypass an open door, you'll suddenly find yourself testing the game's capacity for friendly fire. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Resident Evil 5, Halo: Combat Evolved</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's a wonder that the Helpless Companion can wipe their own butt without your step-by-step assistance. Rescuing someone from a deadly situation isn't supposed to be easy, but the Helpless Companion seems determined to get the both of you killed on account of their ineptitude. Instead of running away from danger, they either sprint towards it with open arms or stand perfectly still, neither of which is super helpful when your success depends on their survival. The Helpless Companion is the type who would run headlong into a burning building - not in an attempt to rescue anyone inside, just out of sheer confusion. Maybe it'd be best if you just 'forgot' to rescue them this time. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Ico, Dead Rising</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Is it clairvoyance? The ability to calculate every possible outcome and thus see into the future? No! It's just the game bending the rules to its advantage, leaving you hopelessly frustrated in the process. The Blatant Cheater seems to think that neck-and-neck competition is the only thing that makes gaming worthwhile, and if your skills are upsetting that balance, then you deserve to be punished. Their methods are many: conjuring up the exact item that ruins you, reading your button inputs, exploiting limitless resources, and so on. But the end result is always the same: you, the player, questioning what you're doing with your life, because the computer seems to be scornfully orchestrating your every loss. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Give the Tireless Worker a task, and they'll do everything they can to please you. They've got no problem constructing buildings or gathering resources for five days straight, just to see their job through to the end. But once that job's complete, they become utterly useless. Without some kind of constant directive telling them what to do, Tireless Workers are content to simply stand in place until death or a new assignment, whichever comes first. The only outside influence that can jolt them out of an unproductive stupor is getting caught in the line of fire - a hazard that they seem to forget all about after running roughly 20 feet. <p><b>As seen in:</b> StarCraft, Command & Conquer</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Yes, this design is often integral to old-school gameplay, but it's such an existentially terrifying notion that I never want to see it again. The Unthinking Drone lives a tragic, typically brief life, as it cannot deviate from a set of basic directives. If you are to walk forward, then you walk forward - even if that means marching trance-like into a bottomless pit, or staring directly at the gun that's about to blow your brains out. Has the Unthinking Drone's free will been suppressed by <i>Nineteen Eighty-Four</i>-style indoctrination? Or does it internally scream out in an attempt to command its unresponsive body? <p><b>As seen in:</b> Super Mario Bros., Mega Man</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>No matter where you are in the world, a properly functioning compass will always point north. The guns held by Armed Compass soldiers work in much the same way: no matter where you are on the map, their barrels will always be pointed directly at you. If you reveal so much as an errant nose hair from behind cover, the Armed Compass will immediately and continuously unload clip after clip in your direction, no matter the range or visibility. That's about all they're capable of, though. Things like flanking your position, calling for backup, moving away from a live frag grenade at their feet, or backpedaling when you charge at them with a knife in hand are all actions that seem to elude the Armed Compass. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Titanfall, Battlefield 3</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Sometime in the past decade, developers realized how infuriating it is to get a Game Over just because your Helpless Companion teammate bit the dust. So why not go the other direction and make your plot-centric companion nigh-invincible? The problem is that believability <i>kinda</i> takes a hit when your partner can soak up bullets like a Kevlar-brand ShamWow, or skips daintily in front of enemy's faces without ever getting their attention. You're the hero of this game, so the Superhuman Aide can't move the action forward without you. But given their incredible abilities and borderline immortality, it seems like they're <i>far</i> more deserving of the spotlight than your sorry, Medkit-needing ass. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Half-Life 2, The Last of Us</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>As you go about your day-to-day life, you typically don't see many people standing on chairs, walking into walls, rotating in place, or synchronizing their movements with those of a stranger for no apparent reason. But in the virtual world, such bizarre, inexplicable activities are commonplace, all thanks to Abnormal Citizens. They go about their daily routines like any normal person might, making sure to spout the appropriate lines whenever you walk by and/or threaten their lives. But leave them to their own devices, and you'll quickly realize that the Abnormal Citizen has a very limited grasp on spatial awareness or social norms. Then again, you seem to be the only one who thinks what they're doing is weird - so maybe <i>you're</i> the one with a problem. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Assassin's Creed, Fallout</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If your comrade enters a room only to be immediately gunned down, our basic instincts for self-preservation tell us that following him is probably a bad idea. But the Slow Learner approaches that same situation a bit differently. Watching as their ally takes a shotgun blast to the skull directly in front of them isn't a sign of impending doom - it's an invitation to step right up, now that it's <i>finally</i> their turn to waltz through the door. It doesn't matter if they have to step over a steadily growing pile of allied corpses. The Slow Learner has to see what all the commotion is about with their own two eyes, before a bullet is inevitably lodged between them. <p><b>As seen in:</b> Bulletstorm, GoldenEye 007</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>What's the most annoying AI archetype you're sick of seeing? Any particularly good stories of allied NPCs driving the both of you off a cliff, or enemies who can't seem to see what's directly in front of them? Share and share alike in the comments below! <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more, check out <a href="" target="new">14 custom characters that will haunt your dreams</a> and <a href="" target="new">The 15 types of characters you meet in every RPG</a>.</p></b></i></caption> </div> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:00 -0800 7... Laziest storytelling cliches in gaming <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Video games can tell some amazing stories. Their ability to mix audio, video, and interaction together into a single work can really draw participants in and have them connect with the piece on a deep, emotional level. Games can make us laugh, cry, or even give us the ability to create new stories on our own that we can share with others. At their best, they give context to our actions within the game. Those actions then influence the how the story plays out, and the two compliment each other to form one cohesive whole. </p><p> For some games, however, the story feels like more of an obligation. Developers figure, 'well, we gotta have <i>some sort of a reason</i> why Shooty McMurderPants is running around shooting stuff and murdering people all day long, so here you go!' Inevitably, this can lead to shortcuts and sloppy storytelling, where your actions in the game feel almost completely disconnected from the plot, creating what critics call "a giant clusterfuck." Here are some of the laziest storytelling cliches for when you feel like just phoning the whole thing in.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This one is a classic, as well as a personal favorite of mine. I don't care if we're talking books, games, or whatever else - if there's a character with amnesia that always equals a good time because it means everything is not as it seems. And let me tell you something, there's nothing better than having everything be not as it seems. Friends can be revealed as enemies. Characters can tap into long-forgotten powers. Secret identities can become not-so-secret identities. Nothing is off the table, all without having to write a word of opening exposition. </p><p> Even so, you can have too much of a good thing. A twist doesn't feel like much of a twist when you know the twist is coming - just ask M. Night Shyamalan - and when amnesia is on the table then you KNOW a twist is coming. You never see a character with amnesia that just turns out to be a normal dude, or better yet never recover from the amnesia ever. Imagine that: amnesia with no payoff, now there's a twist.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>This is a apex of video game power fantasies. You're the Master Chief. You're the Inquisitor. You're the one the prophecy spoke of. You're better than everyone else. Congratulations! Now get out there and start saving the universe because dammit that's what you were born to do. And everyone else knows it, or will be made to know it in short order. </p><p> But does <i>literally the entire universe</i> need to revolve around you? There are plenty of heroics to be found in the everyman as well. It's easy to be brave when you're a genetically enhanced super soldier or blessed with some ancient and mysterious power. If you're just some random person - like you or me - then it's a lot harder. But isn't that struggle against such overwhelming odds part of what makes someone heroic in the first place?</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You're a game developer. You've spent months - maybe even years - developing this amazing new world to serve as the backdrop for your game. You've got Word documents coming out your ears detailing the rich history, the triumphs, and the strife of this world and its people. But how are you going to fit all of it into your game? Two words my friend: audio logs. Just fill your world up with old recordings made by <i>some person</i> for <i>some reason</i>, and PRESTO you've got yourself some backstory. </p><p> It's just too bad audio logs are so boring. There's no getting around it. No one wants to stop blasting dudes in the face and listen to a dead guy's answering machine for five minutes. I don't care how interesting his messages are. While audio logs (or journal entries or whatever) are efficient at conveying a lot of information, they hardly take advantage of the medium's visual and interactive strengths. Especially if they're the kind that make you REMAIN STATIONARY or SIT IN A MENU to listen to them. They're the most infuriating, and completely miss the point of being an <i>audio</i> log in the first place.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Bad guys just <i>love</i> calling heroes on the phone to tell them how unimpressed they are with the whole situation. Why do they feel the need to do this? Why does Azmodan in Diablo III hop on the demonic Skype every time I kill one of his lieutenants or destroy one of his siege engines just to let me know he really doesn't care that I just killed one of his lieutenants or destroyed one of his siege engines. If you really don't care that much, don't pick up the phone. </p><p> Having a bad guy call you up on the phone just to taunt and tease the player doesn't accomplish all that much, other than remind us "oh yeah, that's the bad guy." The nastiest, most memorable, and downright coolest villains are never the ones that spew empty threats at you all day. They're the ones who <i>get shit done.</i> They don't have time to chat because they have an evil plan and they're sticking to it. And when they do finally give you their attention, it's because you royally screwed up said plan. It's because you earned it.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Sometimes it can be hard coming up with a reason for players to actually like, or care about, your hero. Think about, say, Kratos, or Talion from Shadow of Mordor. They're basically dudes who are angry all the time and run around killing people and/or monsters day in and day out. So, why should I care about his person? Because his family is dead. Not only that, they were <i>murdered</i> right in front of <i>his eyes</i>. </p><p> It's the perfect motivation, really. You free your hero up from his parental responsibilities while also giving him a reason to want to straight up murder a bunch of dudes in cold blood. It's a win-win. Except now it's been done so much it's become comical. The moment you see a nice, happy-looking family in a video game, you KNOW they're on the way out. Especially the wife. Holy crap, if you're some dude's wife in a video game your part might as well be played by a skull and crossbones because you're living on borrowed time.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Being stranded in hostile territory sucks. It doesn't matter if you're in Silent Hill or Rapture, or that island in Tomb Raider. The result is always the same: <b>everyone wants to kill you</b>. It's really just a convenient excuse for having you <b>murder everything in sight</b>. And because you're in an enclosed environment, there's no need to worry about the ramifications - or even the reasoning - behind your actions. This is a fight for survival, dammit, and you're just doing what needs to be done. </p><p> Of course, since everyone and everything is trying to kill you all the time, there's not much room meaningful, non-murder-related interactions. Sometimes you meet a companion or two, and maybe you help one of them escape, but at the end of the day your only real meaningful contribution was putting shotgun shells in the faces of your enemies.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Nothing invalidates your gaming accomplishments more than seeing the villain from the previous game show up unexpectedly in its sequel. All that hard work. All those hours of strategizing and preparation. All of it rings hollow when you see that same villain inexplicitly return from the dead. Plus, since it's the same villain all over again you know how the song and dance plays out. Their personality, weaknesses, and master plan, all the jazz has already been established. Here we go again. </p><p> This is really one of the most lazy entries on this list. "Quick, we need a surprise twist that won't take a lot of explanation, nor require us to set up a new character right before the end of the game. Solution: bring the old villain back from the dead!" It's perfect. Players already know the old villain, but <i>who would have suspected</i> they'd see said villain again in this new game? Who needs new ideas when we have all these old ones to fall back on!?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>What’s disappointing about this is list is that, at one point or another, every entry was a really cool and original idea. Then everyone started doing it. And it became <i>too mainstream</i> and it started to suck. Now everyone does it and it's basically ruined. Everyone ruins everything. Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive. I'm sure you all can think of even more storytelling cliches everyone has managed to ruin. </p><p> <b><i>And for more great reads on GR+ click on over to <a href="">What game did you love that everyone hated?</a> and <a href="">9 games you probably won't get to play until 2016</a>.</b></i></p></caption> </div> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:21:55 -0800 most ludicrously impractical fighting game weapons <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's a pretty impressive feat that the one-on-one fighting game, despite theoretically being one of the most constrained genres of the lot, has managed to evolve and expand its scope so consistently throughout the last 30 years. Two characters, a closed arena, and a lot of punching until someone falls over. That's the set-up you have to work within. So it should come as no surprise that in the aim of keeping things fresh within such a tight framework, more than a few developers have gone a bit weird along the way. <p>Weapons were an obvious step forward, but the novelty of melee would only suffice for a certain period. Hitting someone with a bat is one thing, but how to push it further? What kind of flamboyant fighting gear could crank up the possibilities yet again? And thus you end up with this stuff, which, while undoubtedly looking cool, would be next to useless in a fight. In fact it would be so self-defeating that it would negate the need <i>for</i> a fight. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>So DarkStalkers’ Bishomon has this sword, right? It’s a really good sword. Cursed, but good. You see while all other swords, in accordance to the laws of physics, blunt up really quickly when struck hard against metal and bone, this one doesn’t. In fact, repeat impacts actually make it sharper. Best sword ever, right? <p>Well no. You see logically, it would only be great up to a (pun unintended) point. The thing about a sword that gets endlessly sharper is that in the hands of a regular cleaving fan such as Bishamon, it’s pretty rapidly going to get <i>too</i> sharp. First it’s carving opponents in two, but then it’s lopping Bishamon’s coffee table in half every time he puts it down without immaculate care and attention. A few months later, it’s carving air molecules apart. A little further down the line, it’s inadvertently hacking holes in space-time <i>just by existing</i>. There’s such a thing as being too efficient. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Anchors. They’re big, they’re hard, they’re heavy, and they’re hooked. That should make them the ideal melee weapon. But consider the other, fundamental, inalienable element of an anchor’s nature. <i>It is designed to keep gigantic, metal ships stationary against the relentless force of the tide</i>. <p>Guilty Gear’s May, as you (pun unintended) may have noted, conforms fully to the Small. Lightweight Female archetype of the fighting game character handbook. That means that she is considerably less heavy and sturdy than a ship. And <i>that</i> means that taking this thing into battle would result only in around a two-foot range of movement and a total inability to hit anything. Less a weapon, more a masochistic free-punch facilitator. Unless, like Street Fighter’s Oro, she’s just so damn hard that she needs a handicap. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>No, that’s not a perspective trick up there. And yes, that’s theoretically a gauntlet. A gauntlet the size of a large child. No-one has ever espoused the virtues of small children as effective melee weapons. Particularly not small children strapped to one’s arm. If you swung one hard enough – an Olympic hammer-throwing technique might <i>just</i> work, but you’d need a pretty slow opponent and a pretty skinny child – you might just get one good hit in, but otherwise, children are next to useless in a life-and-death combat scenario. Famously so, in fact. <p>Tangential, but relevant point about heavy medieval armour: it was a fucker to wear. Wearing a full suit, you’d have been less a prancing, leaping, blade-whirling dervish of death, and possessed a countenance more akin to an arthritic sumo trying to powerlift on a high-gravity planet. With movement barely possible, balance was key to that stuff’s feasibility. Strap it all to one arm, and it will have roughly the same effect on one’s mobility as a light stroke. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>On the surface, Axl’s Kusarigama looks like an ideal, medium-to-long range melee weapon. It has a lengthy chain for swinging, a sickle on either end, and on the whole looks just weighty enough to build some nasty momentum while remaining lightweight enough to be viable. Hell, kusarigama are real, historical weapons, so this thing has to get a pass, right? <p>Well no. You see real kusarigama don’t work like Guilty Gear’s version. Axl’s model subscribes to the video game rule of cool, rather than the traditional wisdom of learned historical quartermasters. Real Kusarigama have only one blade, with a weight at the other end. The weight is actually the bit you swing, and you use it not for direct offence, but to ensnare and tangle your opponent’s weapon before moving in for a stab with the sickle. That’s a system that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is using the blades as a flail. They’d be much harder to control than a sword, nigh-impossible to land accurately, and let’s face it, having a giant, unruly metal spike sticking out of the side of a weapon’s handle while trying to negotiate an acrobatic street fight is only going to result in accidentally slashed forearms and inconveniently severed tendons. More trouble than it’s worth. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p><i>It’s a giant stone pillar. </i> </p> <p>Enough said. </p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Cool thing about metallic, robot arms: they’re really good at lifting heavy things and crushing squishy opponents into an even squishier configuration. The theory is great. <p>Crap thing about metallic, robot arms: unless the surgical techno-boffins who kitted you out with them gave you a reinforced, metal skeleton at the same time, the sheer weight of the things would tear them out of your shoulders the second you stood up. The reality is a flesh-ripping, sinew-snapping, cartilage-twisting, blood-squirting nightmare. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Last Guilty Gear one, I promise. I know we already have a couple on this list, but this one is so ridiculous that I couldn't let it go. You know why keys are shaped the way that they are? It’s so that they’ll fit into keyholes and, when rotated, manipulate the tumblers of the lock in order to free up the mechanism and release the door or lid in question. You’ll note that this simple, everyday function does not have much requirement for weapon balance, manageable weighting, or ergonomic comfort. That’s why keys are not designed for any of that. Thus, they are not designed, in any way, to function particularly well as weapons when ludicrously oversized. <p>Also, more worrying point, WHO THE HELL NEEDS A DOOR THAT BIG? </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Nothing about this is practical. BlazBlue’s fighters are pretty notorious for the ludicrous nature of their weaponry, but this thing is off-the-chart stupid. First up, that amount of solid metal will weigh as much as two rather portly ponies. Just as importantly though, there’s a reason that every melee weapon in history, from katana to baseball bat, has a handle. Swinging anything heavy enough to crack a skull hard enough to crack said skull makes gripping said thing a pretty tough proposition indeed. Doubly so when you take into account the inevitable sweaty hands that come with 60 seconds spent jumping madly around trying not to get beaten unconscious. A perfectly cylindrical piece of smooth metal does to tie in well to that situation. <p>But more disturbingly, WHO THE HELL NEEDS A NAIL THAT BIG? AND CAN YOU IMAGINE THE SIZE OF THE HAMMER? Why not use <i>that</i>, Bang? </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Aaand suddenly you’re engaging in a heated duel using an oversized stick of butter. <p>Typical SouCal fighter. Always brings butter to a knife fight. </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>So, those are the most ridiculously unhelpful fighting game weapons I came up with, but surely there are loads more self-defeating implements of battle-nonsense floating around, maiming their users willy-nilly on a nigh-daily basis. If you have any you think should share the spotlight, push them awkwardly onstage by way of the comments section. <p><strong><i>And while you're here, why not check out <a href="" target="_blank">The most ludicrously impractical RPG weapons</a>, and then maybe <a href="" target="_blank">the equivalent, FPS-focused feature</a>? If you liked this one, you'll probably like those two, as they're almost exactly the same.</strong></i> </caption> </div> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 07:20:32 -0800 The Pre-Sequel DLC adds frosty sniper Lady Hammerlock <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>When it comes to meaty DLC packs, the Borderlands series doesn't mess around. The first two games extended the shootin'-and-lootin' action with sizable themed campaigns and even additional classes - and <a href="" target="new">Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel</a> continues this tradition with its substantial post-release content. Wondering what kind of moon-based DLC is on tap, exactly? You've come to the right place. <p>We'll continue to update this article as we learn more about The Pre-Sequel's numerous add-ons, so keep checking back here if you're fiending for more of Borderlands' trademark gunplay and madcap sense of humor. Until then, click on to see all the Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel DLC currently on offer!</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>As fierce in the boardroom as she is on safari. Lady Hammerlock brings high-powered business dealing (and sniper rifles) to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as its sixth DLC character. She's the sister of the posh and jolly Sir Hammerlock, and the heir/matriarch of the Hammerlock family fortune - and as you may have guessed from her dearth of cybernetic prostheses, she's a bit less danger prone and a lot more deadly. <p>Hammerlock's stare isn't the only icy thing about her - she can also use her Cold As Ice action skill to throw out an enemy-seeking Frost Diadem Shard, which will move from one to the next as its targets succumb to frostbite/bullets. Her Cold Money skill tree focuses on this angle, ultimately letting her kills add cryo damage to all weapon types (or bonus cryo damage if that's already their shtick). Her Huntress and Contractual Aristocracy skill tree focus on boosting sniping and letting her collect kill bonuses from her co-op partners, respectively. The Lady Hammerlock Pack is available starting January 27 in North America and January 28 in Europe.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Much like Agent Smith of <i>The Matrix</i> fame, Handsome Jack is the kind of guy who's vain enough to make copious copies of himself. And what's the next best thing to actually playing that misguided, unforgettable loudmouth? Why, playing as one of his Doppelgangers, of course! Even better, this class is basically the <i>Inception</i> of Jack body doubles, since even his Doppelganger gets to summon minions made in his own narcissistic image. <p>Yep - the faux-Jack can create back-up at any time with his Expendable Assets ability, which creates two Digi-Jack holograms that are equally as handsome as you are. The Doppelganger's talent trees let you buff up those Digi-Jacks to Badass status, on just focus on your own firepower and make your Digi-Jacks more like meatshields. Because let's face it - that's totally what the real Handsome Jack would do.</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>If you've played The Pre-Sequel - likely, since you're reading all about its DLC - then you know about the game's awesome framing device, where Athena is retelling the story of what happened on Elpis. Those lovable Vault Hunters Gaige and Axton showed up late to the party, and now they want to hear Athena recap all over again. But they don't have all day - so they want the abridged, way-more-difficult version. <p>The Holodome Onslaught is like a greatest-hits of The Pre-Sequel, bringing back tons of memorable bosses (and a few newcomers) for you to fight with amped-up difficulty. The Holodome is essentially an arena, where you'll have to fight off increasingly challenging waves of enemies; a bit like Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot from the first Borderlands. Additionally, this DLC comes with the Ultimate Vault Hunter Upgrade Pack, which bumps up the level cap to 60. More levels, more skill points, baby! While you're here, why not check out a few more screens...</caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>That's all the Pre-Sequel DLC we know about so far, but keep checking back for more as it's announced! And try not to get yourself killed out there. <p><b><i>And if you're looking for more, be sure to read our <a href="" target="new">Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel review</a> and our list of <a href="" target="new">The best co-op games ever</a>.</p></b></i></caption> </div> Sun, 25 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0800 podcast 123: Behind The Minecraft, 23 Jan 2015 16:59:24 -0800 game did you love that everyone hated? <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>We all have that <i>one game</i>, that misunderstood gem in the back of our collection that's still close to our heart. The same one that, when mentioned to friends (or judgemental coworkers) gets us nothing but eye-rolls and cries of "Wait, you actually LIKE that game?" Yes, we do like it, dammit, and we're proud about it too! It's not our fault the rest of you don't see the genius - or just goofy fun - found in these games. </p><p> Nonetheless, we'll give it a shot. Each editor has selected a game he or she feels has been universally panned but still has plenty of entertainment to offer. Dive into this list with an open mind, and you might just find a new favorite for your collection. Just be cautious about who you talk to about this new purchase.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>At first blush, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon is a Super Mario 64 clone on a system with far too many Super Mario 64 clones. And if you looked at it as such (like many reviewers at the time did), that's all you saw. The jumping was imprecise, the camera even worse, and the entire game was plagued by an encroaching layer of fog - you know, just like every other Nintendo 64 game out there. But if (like me), that system was all you had, you were likely starving for something, anything (seriously, <i>anything</i>) to play. So, armed with my trusty Nintendo Power, I rented it from Blockbuster and plowed through it. And oh, boy, am I glad I did. </p><p> See, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon isn't just a Super Mario 64 clone, it's one of the most surreal, bat-shit bonkers games you're likely to find on the N64. In it, Goemon is trying to stop the Peach Mountain Shoguns from turning feudal Japan into a Westernized theater with a giant laser beam. A laugh track plays over every single bad joke in the game. Many boss fights culminate in a showdown between two screen-sized mechs - oh, but first you're treated to an <a href="" target="_blank">entire theme song</a> every single time. Yeah, Mystical Ninja starring Goemon may not be a 'good' game in the traditional sense, but I guarantee that it's unlike everything you've ever played.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Which game do I love that everyone hates? Lollipop Chainsaw. Apparently it's dumb, clunky, poorly-written and all the rest. But I really do like the partnership between Nick and Juliet. There are some fantastic lines in there. The one about being racist towards cows, the one where Nick does a really sarcastic cheerleading chant, and - of course - the timeless classic: "What the dick?" </p><p> It sounds awful on paper and it probably is. And it certainly isn't what you would describe as 'classy'. But I really enjoyed playing it. And the 'sparkle hunting' rainbow-spewing multiple beheading chainsaw moments are beautiful. And yes, dammit, now I want to play it again. Yeah, tut all you want. OK, ready for the in-joke about three people will get? "Oh wait, I fucked up. It's Sonic 4: Episode 1." Ithankyaw.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You know when you pick up a delicious cake, stuff it merrily into your mouth, and thoroughly enjoy it, knowing full-well that it’s not exactly a nourishing piece of sustenance but who cares, because it’s cake and that’s sort of entirely the point? Yeah? Thought so. And you know when someone comes along later, sees the crumbs, and says “Oh, cake? You were eating <i>cake?</i> What were you thinking, you idiot, no-one likes cake. It’s well-known by all to be disgusting." No, of course you don’t. Because that would be madness. But that’s exactly what happens every time I mention enjoying Quake 4. </p><p> Does it have the bona fide, groundbreaking classic status of Quakes 1, 2 and 3? No. Is it fun? Is it a decent, grimly satisfying, sci-fi horror FPS, with great weapons and some rather cool ideas? Yes it is. Yes it is that <i>all the way</i>. Hell, the nightmare Stroggification sequence is worth the price of admission alone. It was a groundbreaking use of first-person storytelling at the time, and the way the game uses it to overhaul the gameplay - after holding back on Quake’s more kinetic excesses for the first part of the game - is pretty damn smart indeed. My Quake cake. I shall have it, and I shall eat it, and I shall thumb my nose at you, Revisionist Popular Internet Hivemind.</p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It may seem odd to claim love for a multi-million dollar franchise starter that 'everyone else hated', but this one's all about the timing. While the first Assassin's Creed game was incredibly popular when it first came out, I didn't get into the franchise until after the release of AC2, and by then people were singing a different tune. After Ezio hit the scene, it was agreed among the fanbase that newcomers should skip Altair's tale and save themselves the torture of an endless fetch quest stream and repeating the same mission over and over again. Luckily, I went charging into the first Assassin's Creed before anyone could convince me not to, and it's still one of my favorite in the series. </p><p> I won't deny that the gameplay is relatively simple and repetitive, but that's part of what I loved about it: missions were very similar with <i>just</i> enough differences that using what you knew in a new set of circumstances became a fun challenge. Without ten million sidequests to complete, the mission was your primary objective, and every target I took down felt like a big step toward my goal. AC1 also gave me my favorite AC protagonist, Altair, who I've always adored far and above the wildly-loved Ezio. Sure Ezio has swagger, but Altair's very human flaws and his ability to overcome them made him cheer him on through every bit of sarcasm. Plus, this game introduced him to his soon-to-be wife. How can you hate their adorable, snarky love?</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Analytically, scientifically, I know that the Mario Party games are random, messy affairs that take far too long to play and can be quite frustrating. I know the pain of losing a hard earned star to an impossible twist of fate, and how very unfair its unbalanced gameplay can feel. I know <i>all this</i>, but if you asked me to play a round of Mario Party with you right now, I'd instantly say yes. </p><p> What's wrong with me? Well, I'm a big fan of real life board games, with the friendly (and down right vindictive) spirit of competition taking hold, and the Mario Party series is a fitting venue. I also tend to enjoy the goofy minigames included, and some are way more inventive than they’re given credit for. Hate on it all you like, but I’m more than ready to give the amiibo-centric sequel a try. I’d play it long before another round of Monopoly.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>I'm a firm believer that as long as you're playing with friends, any game can go from being god-awful to a grand old time. Take Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, a misguided attempt to adapt Capcom's survival horror franchise into a multiplayer co-op romp in the same infected vein as Left 4 Dead. But instead of exploring tense environments as iconic zombie killers like Jill Valentine or Leon Kennedy, you trudge from one bit of ho-hum cover-shooting to the next with a squad of random Umbrella agents. </p><p> And yet, I had the time of my life playing it with a certain Greg H. Every glitch, failed firefight, or instance of idiotic AI incited a laugh riot, and the original characters' banter and bizarre designs (like the <a href="" target="new">comically giant goggles on Vladimir</a>) actually became quite endearing over time. Rather than eliminate the undead with maximum efficiency, we were more focused on who could snag collectible data packets first (Greg always won). If you're looking for dumb RE fun with up to four players in online co-op, then I highly recommend what Greg and I lovingly refer to as "Operation Raccoon Shizzy".</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>No, I'm not talking about the awesome TMNT arcade game that everyone loves; I'm talking about the red-headbands-on-the-cover, glitchy TMNT side-scroller with the God-forsaken dam level. Yeah, <i>that</i> TMNT game. I love that game. Everything about it is awesome. I mean, in what other TMNT game can you play as any of the Turtles at any time, fight iconic characters like Bebop and Rocksteady, <i>and</i> actually drive around a Turtle Van that shoots cannonballs? Not many, my friends. </p><p> Look, if you hate it, that's fine. I'm not going to claim that it's a perfect game. But, if you gave up and never beat the dam level, you're just not a true TMNT fan. You're just not trying very hard. There are way harder levels in other games. The dam is actually pretty easy if you give it more than one shot. Give me the unwieldy controls, instant pit deaths, and randomly respawning enemies. I'll play this game any day.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>There was one thing - one crucial thing - developer GRIN had to nail when developing the 2009 reboot of Bionic Commando: the swinging. And they <b>crushed it</b>. I'm talking home run grand slam power bomb boom shaka laka hit this one out of the park (and into low orbit). Zipping between high beams and tree branches in this game is a blast, from the rush of speed you feel as Spencer dips into the arc of his swing, to the way he floats in midair <i>just long enough</i> for you to line up your next shot. You can almost feel the wind whipping through Spencer's oily dreadlocks. </p><p> And that's where the problems lie. The dreadlocks. The all-too-serious tone. The <b>wife arm</b> (don't ask). Bionic Commando was not without some controversial design decisions, but they're only skin deep. After three completed playthroughs (and counting), I can assure you the game's swing-and-shoot action soars above its plot, and creates firefights that are far more interesting to navigate than the typical, cover-based action of other third-person shooters. The game is a wild ride, the swinging feels easy and exciting, and for crying out loud it's dirt cheap on Amazon. Spend some time with it this weekend.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The games found in this list aren't for everyone, and that's a good thing. Often times, whether you're talking about games or movies or books or any other creative work, your favorites - that ones that really stick with you - aren't going to be the most popular. They're not going to have that mass-market, something-for-everyone appeal. Instead, they're going to focus on something that connects with you specifically, and that's what makes them special. What personal treasures are in your collection? Let us know in the comments below. </p><p> <b><i>And if you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out <a href="">Backlog backed up? Here's how to conquer it in 2015</a> and <a href="">Your A to Z guide to the '90s raddest gaming mascots</a>.</b></i></p></caption> </div> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:00:01 -0800 games you probably won&#39;t get to play until 2016 <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Shigeru Miyamoto once said: "A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is forever bad". While he's not wrong, it's still a bummer to see that game you've been waiting forever to play get pushed even further away from your grasp. And when I take a look at the list of games coming out, with their tentative '2015' release dates, I can't help but sigh and think how adorably optimistic everyone seems to be.</p> <p>Whether the scope is too ambitious, or the developer has a history of delaying games until they're just right, or that particular game has been stuck in development hell for far too long, these are the games of 2015 that we'll likely be playing in 2016 instead. I'll be really excited if all of these games come out this year, but I wouldn't put money on it.</p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>North Americans are lucky we even got Xenoblade Chronicles in the first place (especially considering the game was eventually fully translated and released in Europe), let alone its upcoming Wii U sequel, so I'm going to preface what I'm about to say with my appreciation for Nintendo's willingness to bring niche JRPGs to Western shores. That said, there's no way in hell this game comes out in 2015.</p> <p>Every single trailer Nintendo shows off for the sprawling mecha-infused RPG seems like it has 2015 slapped on the end of it, as if to say, 'Hey, no, seriously, it's actually coming this year! You can believe us!' And sure, it's currently slated for an April release in Japan, but that didn't prevent the first game from taking years to reach Western audiences. I'm a patient man, and I'll wait with bated breath for the day we get it. But I'll believe it when I see it.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>It's fair to say that Hideo Kojima is one of the few true <i>auteurs</i> working on AAA games right now, and as such, he's a bit of a perfectionist. I mean, I can't think of a series other than Metal Gear that allows you to shoot a glass full of ice cubes, then watch those ice cubes melt into puddles on the ground <i>just because</i>. That's the absurd level of detail Kojima is known for, and it usually means we have to wait a little longer to get a chance to play his games.</p> <p>While the glorified demo Ground Zeroes gave us a taste of what Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to look like on next-gen consoles, it was <a href="" target="_blank">a mere fraction</a> of what Kojima is planning with the open-world stealth game. That kind of shit takes time. And I wouldn't be surprised if it gets nudged into next year to make sure it's up to Kojima's exacting standards.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Mad Max has travelled a long and storied road. <a href="" target="_blank">Originally announced in 2008</a> as a collaboration between a new studio helmed by God of War 2 director Cory Barlog and Mad Max writer/director George Miller, the new game was actually going to be inspired by an idea for a movie called Mad Max: Fury Road that had been on the backburner since 2003.</p> <p>Well, something must have happened, because Mad Max: Fury Road is actually getting made (with a May 2015 release date, to boot) and a <i>different</i> Mad Max game was announced at Sony's 2013 press conference, to be released in 2014 by Avalanche Studios. 2014 came and went with no Mad Max game, and there's still no official release date other than a nebulous '2015'. The movie's out this year, so hopefully they can get that locked down at some point, but it wouldn't be the first time a high-profile tie-in got delayed until well after the film's release.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Between the over-hyped Watch Dogs and the technical mess of Assassin's Creed Unity, Ubisoft had a rough 2014. So it's even more surprising to hear that Ubisoft's ambitious action-RPG The Division was supposed to come out the same year. It wisely decided to delay the game until 2015 and hopefully put some distance between itself and the lackluster performance of those other titles.</p> <p>But is that going to be enough time? The Division is supposed to be a large-scale squad-shooter with all of the MMO trimmings, and having all of those moving pieces to consider - and get working right - takes time. After some high-profile missteps from the massive publisher, The Division needs to be flawless at launch if it ever hopes to recapture our trust. I'm hoping it's as awesome as Ubisoft is saying it is. But I swear, I better not have to climb another tower to reveal more of the in-game map.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>EA's 2014 E3 conference was something magical, as having actual smoke and mirrors on stage would've been more substantial than what they showed. 'Oh, hey, we've got a new Mirror's Edge! Here's a video of a guy parkouring up some stairs. Yep, a new Mass Effect is coming… What, you wanted to see the game? Uh… look over there, it's a new game from those guys that made Burnout! It doesn't even have a name yet!" </p> <p>I'd love to believe that Star Wars Battlefront is going to hit shelves by the holidays and that balance will be restored to the Force, but considering the massively bungled launch (and subsequent year after) of Battlefield 4 and the delay of Battlefield Hardline, I'm guessing that the highly-anticipated return of Star Wars Battlefront won't be coming until the first quarter of 2016, at the very earliest.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Making games is hard (<i>that's</i> an understatement) and it's very easy for a game's development to get bogged down by excessive features, technical hangups, staffing issues, or even <a href="" target="_blank">Acts of God</a>. Development hell is a very real thing, and Team Bondi was so buried in it, it was looking like it would never make it out. Its first game, L.A. Noire was first announced in 2004. It finally came out in <i>2011</i>, largely thanks to Rockstar Games' involvement. Hey, at least it released before Duke Nukem Forever.</p> <p>Its second project, Whore of the Orient (wow, what a name, huh?), was revealed back in 2012, but practically nothing else is known about it other than a couple of leaked screenshots and the fact that it's set in 1930s Shanghai. And despite the fact that I probably know more about astrophysics than I do about this game, it's still set with a tentative 2015 release date. Even with a new owner heading up the company and Warner Bros. Interactive publishing, I highly doubt we'll get to play this game before the end of the year, if we even get to see it at all.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>Coming out of nowhere in 2013 to surprise the spaceship-adorned underoos off everyone, No Man's Sky has many people excited for different reasons. Some people want to set off in their spaceship and explore the great beyond. Others want to explore individual planets until they have fully conquered them. And people like myself want to find out what secrets await those who reach the center of the galaxy. It's a hugely ambitious game with a massive scope, and it's made by a grand total of eight people.</p> <p>But I can't help but wonder if developer Hello Games might have bitten off more than it can chew. The team has stated that its targeting a 2015 release date, but No Man's Sky seems like the kind of game you throw on Early Access and slowly patch to a full release, rather than simply dumping out fully finished. But this is a high-profile PS4 release (in addition to PC), and that kind of thing just doesn't happen on consoles. Time will tell if we'll get to see what No Man's Sky is all about this year. I know I'm rooting for them.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>You'll notice that 'development hell' seems to be a recurring theme for many of the games featured on this list. Well, the Rainbow Six series has been in a weird limbo ever since Rainbow Six Vegas 2 came and went a mere 14 months after its predecessor. The next entry in the series, Rainbow Six Patriots, was supposed to be a combination of tactical gameplay and the gripping drama of TV shows like <i>24</i>, but after years of delays and the removal of several key developers, Patriots was eventually confirmed dead in 2014.</p> <p>In its place is Rainbow Six Siege, a more multiplayer-focused title that will pit players in high-octane online battles between terrorist and SWAT teams. We got to see a proof-of-concept gameplay video at Ubisoft's press conference at E3 2014, but little else has been shown. If this game is actually coming in 2015, we'll need to know more than a handful of conceptual ideas.</p> </caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>The Legend of Zelda series is certainly, well, <i>legendary</i> for its prolific delays. Ocarina of Time was supposed to hit in the fall of 1997, but didn't see daylight until a year later. Twilight Princess was similarly delayed a year from its original 2005 release date so Nintendo could simultaneously release a Wii version at that system's launch. Skyward Sword was slated to come out at the end of 2010 but was (you guessed it) also delayed another year to iron out its motion control gameplay.</p> <p>So yes, I'm insanely hopeful that I'll get to play the new Legend of Zelda game this year as promised, and Lord knows Nintendo needs this thing to come out on time to hold on to whatever small amount of momentum the Wii U still has. And who knows? Maybe a Nintendo in relatively dire straits is a Nintendo that gets games out on time. Still, I'm not holding my breath.</p></caption> </div> <div> <img src=""/> <caption><p>I'm more than willing to eat my fair share of humble pie with a side of crow if any of these games end up coming out this year. And I wouldn't be surprised if any of these titles gets a solid release date mere minutes after this article goes up. Still, it's probably wise to temper your expectations. Is your gut telling you that your favorite game is going to get delayed? Let me know in the comments!</p> <p><b><i>Looking for more to get your hopes up about? Here are our <a href="" target="_blank">100 most anticipated games</a>. And <a href="" target="_blank">if these 14 games get announced, we'll eat our controllers</a>. </b></i></p></caption> </div> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:00:00 -0800