Trading card games are social, exciting, imaginative, tactile, and have been enjoyed by groups of friends in libraries and school cafeteria’s since postmen rode Veloceraptors to work. That all changed when the internet came along, basically making them turn based combat games with the graphics of solitaire. Yay!
On the forum dedicated to the trading card game, Valve stated that content pertaining to the sport would be released on June 26th, along with “an event we think everyone can be excited about…”
That event is certainly not anything to do with Half Life 3, which, history states, cannot happen – so we’re going with the date of the Steam summer sale, a time where wallets are subject to sadistic sexual abuse for prolonged periods of time, and families are torn apart because college funds are turned into expansion for Train Simulator 2013 because it’s ironic and not even slightly child abuse.
What are you looking forward to purchasing in this years Summer sale? Are the heads of your favorite Team Fortress 2 characters feeling a little chilly?
For those who bought the Alpha access, which includes the full game, your game will be upgraded to Beta on June 25.
New content includes 10 vehicles, 7 weapons, 4 showcase missions, 2 multiplayer scenarios and 4 challenges. Check out our video below for our walkthrough of the Arma III infantry mechanics and scenario mission in the Alpha.
Bohemia Interactive said in their press release: ”Having just showed off the Beta for Arma 3 at E3 2013, we are keen to get it into gamers’ hands quickly. Bringing some heavy firepower and additional transport options will allow for more diverse scenarios in both singleplayer and multiplayer. We also can’t wait to open up the Steam Workshop scenario publication, which will make content-sharing with other players much more convenient.”
A poster outside LA’s convention center clearly suggests Dark Souls II will be coming March 2014, because, well, it literally says that.
Being one of the first advertisements raised before the E3 show, it’s not clear whether or not a scheduling issue messed up the fact that Namco Bandai now have no release date to announce.
Releasing in 2014 means Dark Souls 2 comes a long while after their much criticized PC port of the original game, which Namco Bandai had never intended to make, instead succumbing to fan requests to produce the PC release.
This title will be developed by Infinity Ward – the Modern Warfare 3 developer, with Treyarch traditionally developing the Black Ops series.
Ghosts is also coming to next-gen consoles, but it’s not yet known exactly how that release will differ to the PC version, coming the same day as the 360 and PS3 versions. It isn’t, however, coming to the Wii U, in an embarrassing miss for Nintendo.
Infinity Ward‘s Mark Rubin said that ”Everyone was expecting us to make Modern Warfare 4, which would have been the safe thing to do. But we’re not resting on our laurels.” Although we’re not so sure just how safe that would have been, with general consensus being a gradual decline in quality over the Modern Warfare series.
“We saw the console transition as the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter for Call of Duty. So we’re building a new sub-brand, a new engine, and a lot of new ideas and experiences for our players. We can’t wait to share them with our community.”
“Ghosts delivers an all-new story, all-new characters, an all-new Call of Duty world, all powered by a next generation Call of Duty engine, which is a leap forward for the franchise.
“Infinity Ward is going all-in to create the next generation of Call of Duty worthy of the world’s greatest fans.”
As an incentive to purchase today, you’ll get a weapon skin for Black Ops 2 if you pre-order Ghosts, letting everyone in Call of Duty know you’re a fan of Call of Duty.
I don’t think anyone in their right mind thinks launching an illusive new spin-off is riskier than a fourth iteration of Modern Warfare. “Have you tried the new Call of Duty, Ghosts?!” “No dude, not yet, I have no idea what it could possibly entail. If only they had followed up with Modern Warfare, then I’d have some idea of what to expect.” And so it begins.
This is no mere rumor, confirmed by Major Nelson (Larry Hryb) himself, the next Xbox console will be revealed on Tuesday May 21st.
“We’ll mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment. On that day, we’ll be holding a special press event on the Xbox campus and we invite you to join us via the live global stream that will be available on Xbox.com, Xbox LIVE and broadcast on Spike TV if you are in the US or Canada.”
He added that they are “We are thrilled to pull back the curtain and reveal what we’ve been working on.”
That means that in 26 days, most – if not all – of our questions about backwards compatibility, the next Kinect device, and of course, always on DRM will be answered.
This comes mere days after developers had said that the Xbox 720′s innards were “no big surprised,” indicating that they’re probably near identical to the PS4, with perhaps some technical differences in memory management. It seems likely that since Sony surprised everyone (including developers) by doubling the memory from 4gb to 8gb, Microsoft may do something similar to avoid an obviously exploitable marketing difference between the two systems.
Maybe that’s why it took them so long to announce the reveal? Who knows.
A member of DarkZero revealed how an interactive widget on the Assassin’s Creed 4 website shows the date of release for the new Ubisoft title, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag.
Assassinscreed.com has a count-down timer which is set up to count-down to a new trailer, but a hacker named DarkZero figured out that simply adding the letter “v” to the URL will trick the site into revealing further information. Since then, the exploit has been removed, but not before the aforementioned writer took a screenshot of what was revealed:
This also confirms that Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is coming to next generation consoles, as well as the current generation.
The official reveal is due in only a few days, though, so this isn’t a huge one-up on Ubisoft.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Alexis Le Dressay, the co-founder of Eugen Systems, to talk about the sequel: Wargame AirLand Battle at the Focus Home Interactive Showcase in London. We discussed poor tactics employed by players of European Escalation, what they can do to prevent people buying multiples of a single unit, and if there is a fix for ‘indestructible supply trucks’ and rushing with the BMP’s. I’m happy to report that Le Dressay had answers for all of these questions and more.
The closed beta for Wargame: AirLand Battle is coming in “maybe a couple of weeks.”
In AirLand Battle, we went even further into our core principles
What we saw was a beautifully rendered and richly detailed map, similar to European Escalation, but different in that we now have a much more dynamic, three dimensional terrain. On top of that comes new graphical features differentiating the fields with flowers, wheat, grass, and anything else you’d expect in the Scandinavian region. According to Le Dressay, the largest map in AirLandBattle is “4x larger” than some of the maps in their 2012 hit – but this is because they wanted to “potentially create a 10 player map” whilst at the same time trying to stream-line combat, avoiding long travel times and awkwardly sparse micro-management.
This time, there’s also a proper campaign featuring an entirely new non-linear dynamic, allowing the player to play from both sides. Le Dressay expressed a little disdain for European Escalation’s campaign, saying that “the solo campaign mode was a very different experience to the multiplayer game. The campaign was much slower and not very strategic.”
“The solo part of the game is composed of several new dynamic campaigns, during which you will manage all aspects of the battle. Lead each squad of the Theatre of Operation, and make good use of your reinforcements and strategic support. Each decision you make has an impact on the tactical outcome of battles, and also impacts the evolution of the global conflict. Wargame: AirLand Battle still allows you to customize your own army in solo and multiplayer modes, thanks to the ‘Deck’ system, which is now being enhanced with an integrated ‘viewer’.”
The idea is to have an RTS – it’s not a simulation
Included of course is more content, where in European Escalation “we had more than 300 units, and now we have more than 700 units.” Whilst Le Dressay expressed concern over the complicated ‘Deck’ system, he went on to demo the new ‘Deck’ system, with an enhanced user-interface, showing each unit as an upgradable tree similar to an RPG. Another interesting change is Eugen’s views on partisan playing. For instance, Le Dressay stated that many players would only play with units from their country, which ultimately meant that some ‘Decks’ were underpowered. Because of this, subjecting yourself to a handicapped ‘Deck’ allows you more points to spend on units, since some units which do a similar job are objectively better at it.
“The idea is to have an RTS – it’s not a simulation – an RTS that is… we wanted something very different where it is about thinking, it’s about taking a decision. It’s not an “action RTS,” Le Dressay explained. “A lot of our players say there is a problem with the game: I should not be fast. There is a risk that someone beats me because he plays faster than me? It’s not about this, it’s about thinking, knowing the units, and having an RTS that is extremely rich in terms of mechanics.” The co-founder said that Wargame AirLand Battle is made for people “who’d like to have something of a different flavor” [than the usual rock-paper-scissors mechanics based micromanagement experiences.]
IRISZOOM Engine (improved game engine over European Escalation).
750 vehicle and combat units.
Four new nations.
War planes with many different munitions.
A new Urban Combat Interface (UCI) which makes buildings block the field of view of anything behind them.
New dynamic single player campaigns
New Deck user interface and upgrading system
Fallout of munitions effectiveness – for instance, the distance at which point an AP (armour piercing) round will no longer penetrate.
Larger, more detailed and fully realized maps with dynamic terrain.
30 different maps – some from European Escalation.
150 planes (including variations of each class).
We tried to push the feeling of authenticity
Focusing on the terrain, “the landscape – the mineral elements – are in exactly the place in Norway, where we took this geographic blueprint from, to make a realistic place to fight.” The new zoom creates some breathtakingly beautiful landscape shots that quite literally made myself and the guy next to me look at each-other, thinking “I’m gonna’ need a new PC,” so Eugen’s focus on an increasingly realistic game world on a much larger scale has produced geographically vibrant and hyper realistic maps that out-do European Escalation‘s sense of authenticity.
When I asked about any changes to the physics or animations of the title compared to last years, Le Dressay said that “we improved the physics of the helicopter, and we changed the way the cars and vehicles can all together get into each-other, and it’s more… it works better. Otherwise, there are a lot of improvements [to physics and animations].”
On the multiplayer front, Le Dressay said that “we are proposing a 10 vs 10 game. We think it could be massive, very epic. For making this map, we thought how could we make it? But then we realised that: the game starts, and blam! You don’t need to have a map that is so big that your reinforcements take ages, and that there is a lot of boring moments,” implying an emphasis on more instant action, even on the large player games, than European Escalation.
Le Dressay also demoed the inclusion of clarity when it comes to the ability of units to destroy other units. For example: placing a Challenger tank in the open, Le Dressay had a T34, from a hedgerow, attack the Challenger. Because of the poor turret on the T34, at such a long range, the T34 didn’t have a chance to hit. Moving on, we learned that even if the tank did hit (based on chance, as everything is variable) the AP round lost effectiveness about 60% of the distance away from the Challenger tank. This means that the authenticity of the units, position, placement, and the rounds being used is as realistic as could be, despite the title not being “a simulation”.
players were using the supply truck, and they were resupplying the infantry, and it was like a bug
You can now see the effectiveness of your ammo range based on a thickening of the line drawn between your target and your unit. The point where the line thins indicates ineffectiveness of ammunition. Hell bent on ruining the T34′s reputation as a reliable tank of the Soviet Union, Le Dressay showed us that the 85mm round couldn’t even penetrate a supply truck (although there was “about a 16% chance” to do so at that range).
Done with the T34, Le Dressay fired the Challenger and exploded the Russian tank with a single shot, showcasing its superior turret and ammunition. This time round, you can also differentiate between rounds by the color of the round as it’s fired on the map – for instance, AP rounds are visually red tinted.
What we hated in European Escalation, was that you had to move your infantry unit from building to building
I asked Le Dressay if he was aware of “tactic employed in multiplayer regarding supply trucks, and rushing with the infantry BMP’s,” adding “that was almost game-breaking for me,” to which Le Dressay replied “yes, absolutely,” acknowledging the multiplayer ‘exploits’ employed in European Escalation. “I thought it was very boring, because you didn’t understand a thing, it could be very messy, and players were using the supply truck, and they were resupplying the infantry, and it was like a bug.”
Explaining the new way in which urban combat is orchestrated, we’re shown that buildings are now clustered as a group, rather than each specific building in a block of buildings being its own structure.
“When you were using infantry in the city, it was a mess because what happened in the city is – you see those buildings? Every building hid the line of sight… so if your infantry unit is in the building on the opposite side of the closer building, he will be blocked by the other buildings. So when you are playing like this [scrolls out to the large map] where is my infantry? I don’t see the houses. The map is too big. So we had to fix this.”
We’re shown that infantry will now occupy a cluster of buildings, facing the necessary way to fire on targets. This means that units can attack from a 360 degree angle, meaning we no longer have to micromanage tanks at such close range in order to get them within line of sight of enemies using towns to hide. Of course, the infantry can also attack/defend from this 360 degree angle, making it also easier to manage the infantry side of things whilst keeping an eye on the over-all war.
Aircraft in Wargame AirLand Battle are both stored and repaired off-screen, which means they do not dock in, or near, any forward operation base. Each player is allowed up to 9 aircraft, and repairs or resupply (always off-screen) on any aicraft takes “a huge amount of time,” according to Alexis Le Dressay.
“Depending on how many you put in one category it costs more and more.”
We were shown a demo of a Harrier attacking the Challenger with Maverick missiles. The AI is fully independent in terms of the turning arch required for second-runs, but the size of the arch depends on the size, speed, and maneuverability of the plane. There is of course a risk of planes being shot-down by infantry and anti-air who spot them, but players can call back the plane to the off-screen base at a push of a button, allowing the pilot time to try and escape enemy fire. It wasn’t made clear whether or not players can purchase planes if they are destroyed, but Le Dressay explained “you can have up to 9 maximum [aircraft] in one deck,” and unless anything has changed, that means you can purchase units so long as you’ve less than 8.
Tactically, it is “not good to make two passes,” emphasizing the strategic importance on keeping your aircraft alive. The aircraft we saw in the demo was able to sustain one rocket attack, but not a second one, indicating that a close eye on AA ground-troops is of vital importance in this release.
I asked Le Dressay if it was possible to drop napalm on infantry units in forestry, or in a town, at which point the developer did just that. Showing us a napalm drop on a cluster of buildings, a thick foggy atmosphere was created around the location of the strike. Interestingly, this fog and fire blocked the field of view of anything behind it – meaning that anything trying to fire either over, or through, the srike-zone, couldn’t see their targets any more.
I explained that, previously, killing Spetznaz in forestry was very troublesome given the only two real options: the T55 flamer, and artillery. Le Dressay replied “exactly, I remember,” showcasing some of the uses of aircraft strikes on forests, thereby setting alight all of the forest and units hiding within it. likewise, smoke artillery has been revamped, hindering vision much more, providing a greater strategic advantage to your allies for immediate effect and relief.
Le Dressay also shone a light on preventing people from purchasing too many of one unit, ruining the authenticity of multiplayer matches:
Me: “Did you do anything to stop… there are a certain demographic of player who simply purchase all of one unit in their deck – for example artillery – which ruins the dynamic and authenticity of some multiplayer matches, have you implemented anything to stop people doing that?”
Le Dressay: “Yes. Yeah – well, we stopped it, but in a particular way. I’ll show you a new way to create the decks. I believe it will stop this kind of thing. [Le Dressay goes on to explain the earlier complicated deck system, and how it confused people, making it "harder to get into it"] This time, when you purchase a unit, every time you purchase it again the price of the unit will slowly increase.”
This means that there should be no more Apache only, or Artillery only players in Wargame AirLand Battle.
“This time, there is a more dynamic campaign – where you will have to defend, or invade, Scandinavia. We have tried to re-create the strategic elbow… you know… where you are able to [on the tactical map, visually] block the UK, and block the US from reinforcements. So a major offensive from USSR would have been there [points north] with a major army there, and also, perhaps, in Germany [in the 60's and 70's]. So you decide whether you want to play NATO, or Warsaw PACT.”
Talking about the nationalities army division, Le Dressay said “each side, there is roughly 20 different divisions [referring to NATO's use of Canadia, French, British troops, etc,.] Sweden, US Navy, and so on.”
The revamped ‘Deck’ system makes it easier for players to pick and upgrade units. For instance, when you pick a tank – you get a “pack of tanks” which unfolds, revealing its upgrades. “Depending on how many you put in one category it costs more and more.”
“If you decide you want to have a national deck, you need a bonus, because you can only select British [example], so you have more activation points. If you select British, Germany, France, it’s not the same – so it’s not really fair, so you will get a smaller amount of activation points.”
Asking the important questions revealed that Eugen Systems really understood the problems the original game faced. The introduction of 450 new units increases the interest and play-ability of the title phenomenally, but it remains to be seen exactly how players will come to terms with so many units even with the new ‘Deck’ system. This time however I’m ensured the title will have a proper tutorial, and the introduction of pricing units per-type in the ‘Deck’ means that players have no choice but to learn how to play properly. This title was never intended to be an e-sport, but it wasn’t created to be a mess, either, so Eugen have clearly thought long and hard about how to get players thinking more, rather than rushing with luke-warm tactics, or whatever they think is the strongest unit.
The title didn’t seem entirely focused on aircraft battles, and by that I mean that a great many of the improvements brought to the game have been about making the European Escalation dynamic much better. Because of this, it feels as though the title runs the risk of feeling like a mere content patch (albeit with a hell of a lot of improvements), but I’m satisfied for now that there are changes enough to merit the additional cost. There is certainly a lot of new content, but it’s not all about the aircraft. This is probably a good thing. There’s a very “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” feel to this installment, and it seems as though Eugen Systems have put their resources into improving and perfecting Wargame the franchise, rather than taking it in a new direction. This is a good thing, in my opinion, and fans of the series will find it very difficult to object to many – if any – of the new features and tweaks. This is a product of user-feedback, and a success story by and large.
Wargame AirLand Battle reaches closed beta “maybe in 2 weeks”, and releases sometime in 2013.
If you head to Amazon in the UK you’ll see that Grand Theft Auto V is listed as a product, although you cannot yet purchase it. Shoppers can sign up for notifications as to when the title will be available. The page features a box-art mock up, and ostensibly indicates that Amazon – like we are – are fairly certain the title will ship on PC at some point.
Amazon in France listed the release date for the PC version of the title as “Soon”.
Rockstar hasn’t yet confirmed a release for the PC, or the Wii U, and have said that they are still discussing if that’s something they want to do.
If GTAV doesn’t see a PC release date, it will be the first in the series so far (other than the PSP releases), which will be a massive blow to PC gaming and the PC community.
It may be one of the biggest releases in niche gaming for the entire year, but the product, like Metro: Last Light, has been pushed back substantially into 2013.
The decision was made to allow for more development time to polish the title. As any Arma player knows, bugs are probably expected, but it looks like Bohemia want to go further than simply introducing a physics engine into the military simulator, actually bringing about the least amount of bugs possible. Good news for fans!
“We’ve been in the process of implementing changes that will help us innovate as a studio under unexpected circumstances – facing problems we simply couldn’t have imagined” said Bohemia, ostensibly referring to the detainment of to of their developers in Greece.
“We’re still trying to make sense of the situation and hope that our colleagues will be released soon. Although their plight has certainly affected us on a personal level, we continue working on the tasks identified as key to the release of Arma 3.”
Arma 3 will be released on PC only in 2013, to a fit of giggles and happy tears from the PCGMedia team.