Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Capcom is preparing the next big installment of the Street Fighter series, but that's a long way out. So in the meantime, they're preparing to release Ultra Street Fighter IV on Sony's next-gen console. The most recent installment of the long-running franchise has been given a release date on PlayStation 4, with the game set to arrive on May 26.

"All the characters, all the levels, and all of the DLC that have been launched so far will be included in the PS4 version of the game," SCEA Third Party Production Director Gio Corsi said on PlayStation.Blog. "Also, a few of you hardcore Street Fighters out there said that there was minor input lag in the controls of Ultra Street Fighter IV for PS3. Well, don’t worry: we’ve eliminated it to make the PS4 edition the ultimate version on any platform, so it’ll be good to go for all your tournament needs!"

Corsi's statement on tournament use is an interesting one to note, as the annual Evo tournament gets closer. A number of tournaments are utilizing either PC builds or Xbox 360 builds (despite some hiccups, as seen during the recent NorCal Regionals). It'll be interesting to see which tournaments, if any, decide to adopt the PlayStation 4 build of Ultra Street Fighter IV for future tournaments.

As for the general public, they'll be able to pick the game up on May 26 as a digital download for $24.99. Retail disc versions will not be made available.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Spring is rolling on and that means online retailers are getting ready for their spring sales. UPlay, GamersGate, and GOG.com have kicked off their rotating deals, with the latter offering up games by the bundle. Meanwhile, Steam is offering the full Far Cry franchise (including Far Cry 4) and the Amplitude library. That includes games like Endless Legend and Dungeon of the Endless on sale and available to play for free this weekend. Check out the full list of this week's deals below.

Here's our selection of this weekend's PC deals:

Amazon

Bundle Stars

Pay $29.99 for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its DLC packs. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $2.99 for Guns of Icarus Online, The Ship: Murder Party, Dino D-Day, Pool Nation, Murder Miners, Orbital Gear, Eador: Masters of the Broken World, Super Toy Cars, Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages, and Muffin Knight. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $1.99 for Mystery Masters: Psycho Train Deluxe Edition, Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island, House of 1,000 Doors: Family Secrets, House of 1,000 Doors: The Palm of Zoroaster CE, Nearwood - Collector's Edition, Brink of Consciousness: Dorian Gray Syndrome CE, Brink of Consciousness: The Lonely Hearts Murders, and Space Legends: At the Edge of the Universe. These activate on Steam.

Direct2Drive

GamersGate

  • GamersGate is in the middle of their big Spring Sale. Look for daily deals on games like Tropico 5, BioShock Infinite, Warframe, Remember Me, and more. For today's sales, be sure to check out GamersGate.

GameStop

Get Games

GOG.com

  • GOG.com is in the middle of their Bundle Tower sale. New bundles of games and movies will go on sale every couple of hours. For the full list of deals, visit GOG.com.

Green Man Gaming

Use the code SAVE20-APRILD-EALSON to get 20% off your purchase. Some exclusions apply.

  • Tales from the Borderlands - $18.74 (25% off)
  • Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series - $22.49 (25% off)
  • The Wolf Among Us - $8.49 (66% off)
  • Other games in Green Man Gaming's Telltale Games sale, including The Walking Dead and Sam & Max, can be found here.
  • Deus Ex Collection (Human Revolution Director's Cut + The Fall + Deus Ex GOTY Edition + Invisible War) - $8.24 (75% off)
  • Metro Redux [Steam] - $24.99 (50% off)
  • Saints Row: Gat out of Hell [Steam] - $16.99 (15% off)
  • Other games in Green Man Gaming's Deep Silver sale, including Risen and Sacred games, can be found here.
  • The Typing of the Dead Overkill: Complete Collection [Steam] - $6.49 (75% off)
  • Valkyria Chronicles [Steam] - $6.79 (66% off)
  • Other games in Green Man Gaming's Sega sale, including Binary Domain and Alpha Protocol, can be found here.

Humble Bundle

Pay what you want for Dragon Age: Origins, Peggle, Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault War Chest, and Command & Conquer Generals (w/Zero Hour expansion). Pay more than the average $4.93 to get Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Dragon Age II, Bejeweled 3, Mass Effect 2, and more games to be named later. All games work on Origin, but Steam keys for Dragon Age: Origins, Dead Space 2, Bejeweled 3, and Mass Effect 2 are available with a $1 minimum.

Or pay what you want for Frozen Synapse Prime, Shattered Planet, and Skulls of the Shogun. Pay more than the average $3.73 to get Castlestorm and Bloodsports.TV. Pay $12 to also get Endless Space: Emperor Edition. All games work on Steam and Steam keys are available with a $1 minimum.

  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition [Steam] - $4.99 (75% off)
  • The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II: Complete Pack [Steam] - $6.79 (66% off)
  • Divinity: Original Sin [Steam] - $26.79 (33% off)
  • Other games in the Humble Store's RPG Weekend sale can be found here.

Origin

UPlay

Steam

As well as regular discounts, Steam has a couple of additional weekend deals.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft's Blackrock Mountain adventure continues, as this week's wing double-crosses Nefarius and starts taking down his own right-hand minions. You can collect all of the new cards by finishing the Normal and Class challenges, but to really secure your bragging rights, you need to finish each boss on Heroic. The Heroic bosses get ratcheted up with outrageous difficulty spikes and unbalanced hero powers.

Fortunately for you, we've rigorously tested our decks and found how to take them all down. With a heavy dose of strategy and a little luck, you can earn the Heroic card back for beating every Heroic boss in Blackrock Mountain.

This wing pits you against Highlord Omokk, General Drakkisath, and Rend Blackhand. As always, these strategies are formulated for their Heroic incarnations, but you should be able to handle the Normal bosses with the same strategies.

Highlord Omokk

Normal: 1 Mana - Destroy a random damaged enemy minion Heroic: 0 Mana - (Automatic) Destroy a random enemy minion

Omokk's power is hobbled on Normal difficulty, but it gets a big upgrade on Heroic. He'll start each and every turn destroying a random minion, which tends to give him a big tempo swing. It's also notable that this is the power to outright destroy minions, so elements like Divine Shield won't protect you.

The solution, naturally, is to flood the board with worthless targets. We found Paladin best for this, thanks to his hero power and the Muster for Battle spell that creates three 1/1s instantly. Plus, Paladin has some of the best cheap buffing spells in the game, like Blessing of Might and Avenge. Cards like Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg make for good trades when they happen to get crushed too. Just keep your board constantly flooded and don't put too many buffs on any one character. He'll keep taking down your minions, but you can keep pumping out more and hitting him in the face until he goes down.

Recommended Class: PaladinRecommended Cards: Muster for Battle, Haunted Creeper, Blessing of Might

General Drakkisath

Normal: (Passive) All cards cost (1). Players are capped at 1 Mana crystal.Heroic: 0 Mana - All cards cost (1). You are capped at 2 Mana crystals, and opponent at 1.

Drakkisath is tough. At first glance he seems very similar to Coren Direbrew from the first wing, with a Hero Power that encourages favorable two-for-one trades. However, Drakk is packed with spells that can instant-kill your minions, and since he has two mana to your one, he'll often be able to clear your board and then bring out one of his own. That leaves you at a severe disadvantage, and once the tempo of the match starts to get out of hand it's hard to reverse.

There's really no way around this: the best solution is a mixture of luck and Legendary minions. Specifically, Sylvanas Windrunner and Kel'Thuzad are an incredibly valuable combination. If you can get out Sylvanas on the first turn and then Kel'Thuzad on the second, you'll likely be able to steal one of his big minions while still retaining your own. Chances are he'll destroy Kel'Thuzad eventually, but by then you may have swung the match in your favor. Packing a Faceless Manipulator or two will help protect you from having either of your MVPs wiped out. Other than that, pack the deck with Giants, Force-Tank MAX, and value minions like Sneed's Old Shredder.

Occasionally, if the match gets out of hand, he'll use Twisting Nether to clear the board entirely. If you have a good enough tempo lead, you can use Loatheb to keep him from using it. More likely, you'll just have to rely on luck to make sure he doesn't draw it.

Since his passive ability renders your Hero Power unusable, and since the must-have combination for this match are both neutral Legendaries, picking the right class is less important in this bout. Multiple classes have positive features in their class specific cards: Mage's Counterspell can counteract a Twisting Nether, Warlock's Twisting Nether can reset the board if he gains too much ground, and Paladin's class Legendary Tirion Fordring comes with a Divine Shield and a weapon benefit. Play with the one you're most comfortable with.

Recommended Class: N/ARecommended Cards: Sylvanas Windrunner, Kel'Thuzad

Rend Blackhand

Power randomly changes after each useNormal: Summon three 1/1 Whelps / Summon Glyth (8/4) / Summon a 3/1 Dragonkin / Summon two 1/1 Orcs with TauntHeroic: Summon three 2/2 Whelps / Summon Glyth (8/8) / Summon a 5/4 Dragonkin / Summon two 2/2 Orcs with Taunt

Rend Blackhand seems intimidating, and to his credit he can flood the board with several minions or one big 8/8. Unlike Drakkisath (above) who all but requires Legendary minions that you may not have in your deck, Rend is pretty vulnerable to a standard, low-cost, mostly common aggressive Hunter deck.

Though his powers are randomized, he'll almost always summon 3 2/2s with its first use, and 2 more 2/2s with Taunt in his second. Since his minions are explicitly instructed to go for your face, a simple Explosive Trap will take care of them handily. For this reason, you should mulligan aggressively for an Explosive Trap (or a Mad Scientist to trigger it) within the first couple of turns. Even if you deal with his flood of minions without using an Explosive Trap, they'll have done enough damage that you may not withstand the continued assault later in the match, so it's really important to start the match off on the right foot.

By the time he begins summoning his 8/8, you should have a minion out that can take him down in conjunction with a Hunter's Mark. The 5/4 Dragonkin can be a pain, but you should have established enough board control by then. If he starts to flood the board again, you can take the pain back to him with Unleash the Hounds. Mix those in with some other standard aggro-Hunter cards like Wolfrider and Eaglehorn Bow, and he doesn't stand much of a chance. He's playing a very aggressive style, so this match comes down to a race. Using the proper Hunter tools, you can kill him before he kills you.

Recommended Class: HunterRecommended Cards: Explosive Trap, Hunter's Mark, Unleash the Hounds

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

This was a big week for PC owners, as they got their chance to pick up Grand Theft Auto V, at last. But console users have had the game for quite a while now, which is why Sony is taking this weekend to offer the best of Grand Theft Auto at a significant discount. Meanwhile, Nintendo's Super Spring Sale continues and Microsoft is offering its Gold members a chance to grab Metro Redux for cheap. Check out the full list of deals below.

Here's our selection of this weekend's console deals:

Xbox One

The following games are a part of Xbox One Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

PlayStation 4

Nintendo Wii U

Xbox 360

The following games are a part of Xbox 360 Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

PlayStation 3

Nintendo 3DS

PlayStation Vita

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Video games, just like any other entertainment medium, can tell us a story that has such an unexpected twist, we can’t help but sit in complete disbelief. That’s why Greg decided to highlight some of the most shocking moments he’s ever experienced in video games.

A word of caution, though. A lot of what is discussed in this video can be considered spoilers, so if you see a clip from a game that you haven’t played or complete, you may want to fast-forward past it for your own safety.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

It’s been a long, arduous road for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V, but as of April 14, the game is actually available for sale across a number of digital marketplaces. It was rumored and delayed for so long, it kind of feels surreal to play the game on a PC platform. But here I am, running from the cops of Los Santos for “accidentally” running over a cyclist with unwarranted road rage fifteen times while cursing “NO ONE FLIPS ME OFF BUT ME!” I know, I’m terrible at insults.

A Feast For The Eyes

For the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5, I decided to hook up the Area 51 Alienware loaned me for review, and I’m happy I did because playing the game with all of its settings maxed out is an experience fans need to witness for themselves. Character facial animations never looked so detailed, the atmosphere never looked so rich, and the world has never felt so expansive. That’s because Rockstar has given PC players a slew of controls over the game’s visuals which includes being able to improve the quality of several graphical features, including textures, shadows, and shaders, distance scaling, and population density, to name a few. The game looks even more impressive when accessing its first-person perspective.

Don’t have a souped up PC rig? No worries as Grand Theft Auto 5 still looks good on PCs that aren’t as powerful. I also tried playing the game on some gaming laptops and they ran well, although I had to limit just how hard I was able to push them considering they didn’t have nearly the same horsepower. Thankfully, Rockstar includes a GPU meter when you’re changing the game’s graphics options that helps in figuring out just how far you can go with your current setup.

PC / Keyboard And Gamepad Play

Considering Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto 5 on consoles first, it’s a no-brainer to learn the PC version has gamepad support. I found this to be a very good thing considering the PC controls aren’t as intuitive when compared to how Rockstar mapped the game out on a gamepad. For example, to bring up the cell phone, the “Up” directional key is used which isn’t as user friendly as slipping your left thumb down to tap “Up” on the D-Pad. But that isn’t to say the controller is better at everything in the PC version as I’d be downright insane to consider a gamepad can perform better than a keyboard and mouse when shooting mechanics come into play.

By default, your aiming style is Free Aim considering PC players will most likely be playing with their mouse and keyboard. I found using the Assisted Aiming style to be the best when playing on a controller and Rockstar warns you this mode is best for gamepad play. If you play Assisted Aiming on your keyboard and mouse, you’re going to be at a disadvantage when accessing GTA Online. Thankfully, the game will attempt to put you up against others who play with similar control mechanics to keep things even.

Tap Into Your Inner Scorsese

Grand Theft Auto 5 shares many of the same improvements that were made to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, but one feature it has that no other versions does is the Rockstar Editor. The Rockstar Editor allows players to create their own videos directly from within Grand Theft Auto 5 that can then be shared on YouTube and on Rockstar. I played with the Rockstar Editor for around 30 minutes and I’m amazed just how much you could do with it.

The first thing I did was record myself pummeling random pedestrians. Because what else would you do in Grand Theft Auto 5. Anyways, recording my rampage was done just by pressing the F1 key, which causes clips a little under 30 seconds to be created. Once I was done, I could access the Rockstar Editor from the in-game menu which allows me to add clips to my project, a radio track, score track, and text.

When editing my project, I could change the camera angles in a number of ways, use a number of filters, dictate when a piece of music or score come into my piece, and add a piece of text anywhere at anytime in my film. The options Rockstar presents in its Editor is impressive to all be available at launch, and I’m sure the developer will continue to add new tricks to help would-be directors create amazing content.

Welcome Home, GTA

The Grand Theft Auto series originally released on the PC platform, and with each iteration, that platform always seems to be the last one to get published. Regardless of how long it took Rockstar to release Grand Theft Auto 5 onto PC, it’s here now and it’s by far the best version based on my experience playing all of its console versions.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

A capacity crowd filled the Anaheim Convention Center, with all attendees aching to see the first footage of Star Wars Battlefront. The full reveal came earlier today, released just moments before the panel started. Here's what emerged from this special presentation from EA, DICE, and Lucasfilm.

The panel kicked off with the premiere trailer revealed earlier today. It was the gritty battle between the Rebels and the Imperial forces. There were Stormtroopers on speeders, AT-ST and AT-AT walkers, X-Wing bombing runs, and Darth Vader choking the life out any Rebel soldier that walked. The crowd erupted at every part of the trailer, especially once the Star Wars title theme kicked in.

The panel continued with representatives from Lucasfilm and DICE taking the stage. A talk with the DICE developers showed their excitement for what's ahead, revealing the early days of the DICE/Lucasfilm collaboration. They talked about visiting Skywalker Ranch and reminisced on their experiences watching the original films for the first time, before getting their hands on the archives for the first time. The models include the original Death Star, the droid models, the walkers, and the many starships, which include the Imperial Star Destroyer. As part of the pre-production effort, DICE took photographs of the archived props from all angles, while also traveling to the original film locations.

DICE followed this up by pointing out to the crowd that all footage shown to the crowd was in-engine footage. That segued into the gameplay portion of the panel. DICE confirmed that players will be able to switch from first-person and third-person views. They addressed Darth Vader and Boba Fett's appearances in the trailer, noting that players will get the opportunity to play as their favorite characters at various points. They further dissected the trailer, noting that Battlefront would be the first opportunity to visit the volcanic planet Sullust for the first time. DICE notes that they're aiming to flesh out the whole worlds, offering just as much of an opportunity for exploration, as well as combat.

DICE then revealed the November 17 release date to the crowd in attendance, noting its proximity to this year's "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens." They pointed to the planet Jakku, revealed in yesterday's movie trailer. For those that don't remember, it was the one with the fallen Star Destroyer. DICE pointed to a pivotal battle that took place following the Battle of Endor in "Return of the Jedi," noting that Battlefront players would get to play out this battle as free DLC on December 8, a news bit that was also confirmed earlier this morning.

The topic then turned to PlayStation owners and a previously unrevealed item. A special Star Wars Battlefront PlayStation 4 box was shown to the crowd in attendance. Only five of these are in existence, with three given away to random panel attendees. Two others are slated to be given away on Twitter at a later time. The box contains a PS4, as well as a download code for Battlefront.

The panel closed with word from DICE, which could hardly be heard over the shouts of "Show it again!" The crowd wanted a second helping of the trailer and the panel obliged.

No other major news was revealed at the panel, but it was not needed for this Star Wars Celebration crowd. Just like the first time, they were captivated with just about every scene.

Star Wars Battlefront is set to release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on November 17.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

During yesterday's opening day of the Star Wars Celebration convention, a closed-door presentation began with a notice that all footage revealed was taken from in-game footage on PlayStation 4. The camera pans over the forest moon of Endor, one of the iconic settings from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. As camouflaged Rebels carefully tread forward, they're quickly discovered by Stormtroopers on speeder bikes. The John Williams score kicks in the fight begins. The Rebels are able to ward off Imperial troops, some even giving out a classic Wilhelm scream as they fall off a high ledge. Suddenly, the Rebels are stopped in their tracks when faced with the mechanical AT-ST walker.

That's the first footage revealed of Star Wars Battlefront, the revival of the classic multiplayer series and the first collaborative effort between Electronic Arts, DICE, and Lucasfilm. Just as the with the games in the old series, this game will pit teams of Rebels against the evil forces of the Empire. And players will get to live those battles anew starting on November 17.

The presentation continued with Rebels using high-powered weaponry to take down the AT-ST before going up against growing numbers of Imperial Stormtroopers. The infantry was soon flanked by even-larger AT-AT walkers. With the Rebels outgunned, the player on-screen dodged enemy fire and approached a call station that allowed him to call for reinforcements. As the AT-AT shuffled closer, backup arrived in the form of an X-Wing bombing run, which destroyed the massive walker in short order. The number of Imperials kept growing, though, and the Rebels quickly retreated to a nearby station. A teammate ran ahead and was quickly Force choked and thrown to the ground, as a familiar labored breathing could be heard around the corner. The player turned the corner to find Darth Vader, who easily deflected all blaster shots and struck the player down to end the demo.

Much of the battle unfolded like a child's fantasy, an atmosphere that DICE is intentionally shooting for. After months of bringing the developers' children into the office to play with their Star Wars toys and taking notes, DICE is looking to craft a multiplayer experience that allows players to live out their Star Wars fantasies.

"That became the vision for Star Wars Battlefront," DICE design director Niklas Fegraeus told the attendees on-hand. "It became to immerse players in an authentic Star Wars experience, creating their own Star Wars battles. So with that vision established, we flew over here to take it to Lucasfilm. Fortunately, they loved it. They loved it very, very much and what they did was even better. They opened up their sacred vaults to us. We got access to the holiest of the holy: the archives. The Death Star, all the props, and all the stuff we loved from the films."

The challenge for DICE quickly became how to take advantage of the props they now had at their fingertips. That's when the studio looked to photogrammetry, the process of making measurements based on surrounding photographs. This process will allow the studio to create fully accurate images of vehicles, blasters, droids, characters, and many other aspects of the Star Wars universe based on the actual props. Likewise, DICE has been touring the real-world locations used to shoot iconic series scenes, such as the aforementioned Endor moon, the desert landscape of Tatooine, and the icy world of Hoth.

DICE's unprecedented access also extends to the realm of sound. Skywalker Sound eagerly provided the Battlefront team with all sound assets used from the movies. That includes the John Williams score, but it also includes the many recognizable sound effects from across the two trilogies. To capture this sound, DICE is aiming high for PC users, in particular. Star Wars Battlefront will be the first PC game to utilize Dolby Atmos sound.

As for gameplay itself, Battlefront games will center around multiplayer, in which players can switch between first-person or third-person perspectives. The game is set to offer 40-player online games. The Endor session shown at the start of the presentation was a part of a mode called Walker Assault, which will allow the Imperial side to access walkers, while the Rebels try and fight back with their array of tools and their available backup. More details on this game mode are expected to come soon. Other competitive game modes will introduce dogfights that utilize the Rebel and Imperial fleets, as well as recognizable vessels like the Millennium Falcon.

Players will be able to level their character up individually, as they would normally do in a multiplayer game of this type. However, Battlefront will also introduce a Partner system that allows players to form a tag team with a friend. The key component of this feature is that partners will be able to share unlocks, so if one person specializes in one kind of weapon and another partner dives into another, they can both share the unlocks from their respective weapons.

In addition to unlocks, players will find power-ups along the battlefield. These pickups will includes shields, explosives, vehicles like X-Wings or Imperial walkers, or a Hero transformation power-up that turns players into some of the greatest legends of the Star Wars movies, like Darth Vader or Boba Fett.

Those looking to practice their skills before jumping online will also be able to fly solo for special Missions. These challenges will all be based on recognizable scenes from the Star Wars films. A single player can participate or they can join up with a friend online or locally via split-screen.

Of course, with a certain Star Wars movie set to release a month after Battlefront's release, DICE is also being given special content related to it. The Battle of Jakku, the key battle with Imperial holdouts that takes place in the immediate aftermath of "Return of the Jedi," will be added to Battlefront as free DLC. Players will get to see Jakku as it was before they see it as it eventually becomes in this December's "The Force Awakens." Those that own Star Wars Battlefront will be able to pick this DLC up free of charge on December 8. Anyone that takes the plunge and pre-orders will be able to pick it up a week early on December 1.

DICE looks to have the building blocks for something special, assuming they can follow up on what's been given to them. There will be plenty more to see from Star Wars Battlefront between now and its release date. The Force will awaken on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 17.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Microsoft has confirmed Phil Harrison is no longer with the company as he chose to leave in order to seek out a fresh challenge.

Confirmation of Harrison’s departure comes from a statement Phil Spencer released regarding his leaving. “Following a successful tenure as Corporate Vice President in Xbox in Europe, Phil Harrison has chosen to pursue business interests outside of Microsoft,” Spencer said in his statement. “Phil has been a distinguished leader for our European Xbox team - overseeing production at our award-winning European studios and making a substantial contribution to the Xbox business globally.”

The statement goes on to praise Harrison for his creativity and leadership throughout his time as corporate VP of Xbox Europe. Harrison, in return, had only nice things to say about his time at Microsoft. “I have enjoyed the last three years at Microsoft enormously and it has been a privilege to lead and work along side the incredible talent within Microsoft Studios in Europe, including Rare, Lionhead, Lift, Soho and Press Play. I wish them and my many friends throughout the Xbox world every continued success.”

It’s yet unknown where Harrison moved on to, although that information is expected to be made available on Monday.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

InXile Entertainment announced they would be bringing its critically-acclaimed PC RPG, Wasteland 2, to both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this summer in a special Game of the Year Edition. The game will feature a number of improvements to the PC version, including further squad customization options and the addition of Precision Strikes.

Seeing how PC players couldn’t stop talking about Wasteland 2, we thought we’d chat with InXile Entertainment project lead Chris Keenan about what makes the upcoming console release so special, what drove the studio to consider releasing it on consoles, and if PC owners of Wasteland 2 will receive any benefits from the its console release.

Shacknews: Wasteland 2 received much critical acclaim last year, even earning our #10 spot in Shacknews' Game of the Year awards. Was critical and fanatical response to the game the reason why inXile decided to bring the game to consoles?

Chris Keenan:  It certainly was a major reason why we chose to work on console versions.  After the game was released, we were consistently getting messages from people who had heard about the game and had friends playing it, but either don’t have a gaming PC or only play games on consoles.  Since the game was developed using the Unity engine, we decided to spend some time exploring what it would take to do a proper console version.  The engine handled much of the under the hood tech needs and we felt we could make some solid changes to the UI and controls to make a great experience.

SN: There's a strong possibility console gamers may not have heard of or played the original Wasteland. For those who may not have heard of Wasteland, or played Wasteland 2 on PC yet, how would you best describe the game?

CK: Wasteland 2 is a party-based, turn-based tactical RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world.  That’s the high-level one liner.  You play as a group of Desert Rangers, who are tasked with trying to keep order in the crazy Arizona and California desert.  The original Wasteland (created in 1988) was the game that spawned the Fallout series.  Our CEO, Brian Fargo created Wasteland and couldn’t get the rights back to make a sequel, so he instead made Fallout.

Wasteland 2 harkens back to the more choice and consequence, turn based nature of Fallout 1 and 2.  Our game world very heavily reacts to the choices that you make and changes your experience.  With over 80+ hours of gameplay, it’s almost statistically impossible for two players to have the same experience.  Within the first 30 minutes, you make a choice that can cut off a 2+ hour level. 

In Wasteland 2, we committed to the idea of the world changing around you.  Even to the point of you missing out on the second half of the game in California based on your choices.  As a ranger, you’re supposed to be following a set of loose laws set up by the rangers, but you don’t have to listen to the general along the way.  If you go rogue and start killing innocents, General Vargas will start to show his displeasure.  If it keeps happening and word gets back to Ranger Citadel, Vargas strips you of your ranger star and sends a hit squad after you.  Now in order to survive, you need to lay siege on Ranger Citadel.  This has its own proper ending just as if you finished the game in a “normal” way. 

SN: In your announcement, you said Wasteland 2 has been ported over to Unity 5 for the console version. What improvements should we expect from the game because of this?

CK: We’ve got a pretty nice list of new additions for the GOTY console version.  First off, Unity 5 allows us to use a new shader called Physically Based Rendering.  The short description is that it helps to simulate real world lighting situations better than the previous art pipelines.  In order to use it properly, we’re going back over all environments and adjusting the materials of the objects to work properly.  At the same time, we’re improving the meshes and textures so all scenes are getting a nice facelift.  We’re also redoing all humanoid character models in the game.  Combined, these two elements have a massive impact on the visual quality. 

As for gameplay systems, we’re adding a precision strike system (similar to aimed shots), quirks and perks, cleaning up enemy AI, additional crafting of each combat zone, visible armor and a UI overhaul to support controller inputs.  Adding all of this new content requires a full balance pass as well, so we’ve taken player feedback into consideration and will be making those adjustments along the way.  As you can see, it’s not simply a quick console port. 

SN: Will PC owners be able to receive the improvements you're making to the Game of the Year Edition of Wasteland 2? For example, the Perks and Quirks feature and Precision Strike?

CK:   Yes.  All new improvements will be in the GOTY PC version.  We’ll have more news in the future on what that means for those who already own a PC/Mac/Linux copy of the game.

SN: What kind of work are you putting behind improving the voiceovers?

CK: The plan is to add VO for all companion NPCs that journey with you in the world.  Right now, they’ll bark dialog text but most of them don’t have an actual voice.  Along with the CNPC’s, we’ve been going over the list of major characters in the game and working on casting for NPCs that we feel should have more of a voice.  As of right now, we’re at over 4000 new voiced lines and it’s still growing. 

SN: How does the PC point-and-click experience translate over to consoles?

CK:   The honest answer is it doesn’t without a good deal of work.  The thought of having to click around the world with a controller as you would with a mouse sounds absolutely horrible.  We’ve been working on creating console controls that give the best experience possible, which means making adjustments to many of the systems when on console.  As we look at each major gameplay element, we discuss what it would play like on a controller and if it doesn’t feel like a seamless transition, we modify it.

SN: Did you or have you run into any issues translating a game that's primarily interfaced with a mouse and keyboard to be used with a controller?

CK: Oh yeah.  While we were making the PC version, we only trying to make a great PC game.  There were no considerations for “if we put this on Xbox in a few years, this system won’t work”.  We were razor focused on delivering what we promised to our backers.  While that makes our job harder now, we have a very good design and engineering team looking at each of these issues and changing what needs to be changed.

Outside of UI modifications, some underlying systems like using a lockpick skill on a door needs to work differently.  In the PC version, you would click on the lockpick icon on your hotkey bar, then click on the door you want to pick.  We don’t have that option on console.  Now, you can bring up a radial menu of your skills while pushing the thumbstick in the direction of the door.  This highlights the object and assuming you’re close to it, activating that skill will unlock the door.  It feels very natural while using a controller. 

SN: Will the PC get controller friendly controls added in? (from Chatty member Horn)

CK:  Yes.  We’re adding an option you can check if you’re using a gamepad on your PC.  This will update the UI to use the more console focused systems as opposed to fumbling around the PC UI with your controller. 

SN: Considering all of the work that went into Wasteland 2 on PC, and now its console version, will it take another 16 years to get another sequel?

CK:  Hah!  16 years?  Wasteland 2 was 25 years after the original!  That’d put us at the year 2040.  What I can say is that if it’s going to take that long, the next interview will be with the new project lead at inXile as I’m pretty sure I’d be canned. 

SN: No questions, but as an original backer I'll say huge kudos once again. As an original Wasteland / Fallout 1&2 player, this game scratched an itch for me that Fallout 3/NV (both of which I enjoyed immensely) didn't. (from Chatty member jimmy-buffett)

CK:  I love that.  To me, it’s the best type of comment we can get from a backer of the game.  We set out to tap into the nostalgia of the original Fallout games so hearing that is as good as it gets!

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