Shacknews - David Craddock

Drips, drabs, and dumps. Those are the three Ds of information dissemination around E3 time. This morning, we learned Dishonored 2 would infiltrate consoles and PCs on November 11, and it'll do so backed by several big names in Hollywood.

The news comes from Game Informer, whose editors traveled to Arkane's crib in France to check out Dishonored 2 firsthand. Vincent D'Onofrio, best known for playing Wilson Fisk in Daredevil and Detective Robert Goren on Law & Crime: Criminal Intent, will play Luca Abele, Duke of Serkonos. Rosario Dawson also makes the jump from Daredevil as well as Sin City to voice a character named Meagan Foster.

Been wondering what Pedro Pascal has been up to since playing Prince Oberyn on Game of Thrones? You'll see him (or, uh, hear him) in Dishonored 2 as Paolo, Howler Gang Leader. Robin Lord Taylor waddled off the set of Gotham, where he plays the Penguin, to voice still another character.

Game Informer's got a sizeable cast list going, so check it out to see how many other names you recognize.

Shacknews - David Craddock

It is a period of unrest in your monthly budget. Valve, striking from its Steam base, has discounted a fleet of Star Wars games in celebration of May 4th, one of the Internet's favorite holidays.

During the sale, Rebel spies managed to uncover early plans to Steam's ultimate weapon: the Star Wars Collection, 14 games including Dark Forces, Knights of the Old Republic, Empire at War, The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, and more—a $99 value priced at $22.99.

Not to be outdone, PSN has discounted titles such as Battlefront from $60 to $30, Jedi Starfighter from $10 to $5, and Super Star Wars, a cross-buy title normally priced at $10 and on sale for only $5.

Pursued by sinister sales, your banking information cowers in a corner of your wallet, custodian of the soon-to-be-stolen funds responsible for buying your family food and paying bills necessary to keeping lights on and toilets flushing...

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Shacknews Pax East content is lingering just like a PAX flu cough. We got to chat with Twitch streamers Not_Jenn, CobaltStreak, and iNtense003 on the show floor. Please take a look.

For more, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Be sure to check out Not_Jenn on Twitch here.

Be sure to check out CobaltStreak on Twitch here.

Be sure to check out iNtense003 on Twitch here.

Shacknews - Cassidee Moser

Star Wars is one of the most recognizable properties on the planet, and has been licensed out to create everything from detailed action figures to printed mugs. And of course, it has been used as the base of many video games, a majority of which are remembered favorably, whether it was the excellent shooter Battlefront II or the engrossing RPG Knights of the Old Republic.

But not every idea is able to get off the ground, and there are sadly several projects that never made it past even the pitching room floor.  It’s important to celebrate, but it’s also important to honor the memory of things as they might have been. In honor of Star Wars day, let’s take a look back at some of the great Star Wars games that never quite came to be.

Imperial Commando

The follow-up to 2005’s Republic Commando, Imperial Commando was at the very least in its early concept days before getting axed. Like Republic Commando, players were placed in charge of a squadron of soldiers within the Delta Squad. The twist was that you played as the commander of these squads when the infamous Order 66 was issued during the Clone Wars.

So, Imperial Commando was basically a search and destroy mission for members of the Jedi order. But, it never came to fruition. Which is a shame, because the subject matter dug into a part of the Star Wars canon that often goes unexplored: the moral alignment and obligations of the Clone army.

Rebel Warrior

Rebel Warrior was another proposed Star Wars game that dove into a more obscure angle in the galaxy: the life of an enslaved Wookiee.

Taking place during the Empire’s takeover and capturing of the Wookiees on Kashyyk, Rebel Warrior was a game in which players engaged in guerilla warfare to drive Imperial soldiers out of their home. It’s a bit darker than we’re used to seeing from a Star Wars game, but its subject fits nicely with a lot of the other themes explored in the Star Wars universe.

First Assault

A victim of the LucasArts closure and liquidation, First Assault was a first-person shooter intended to release in 2013 and serve as a sort of prologue to the eventual Battlefront III.

It was deep into development at that point, deep enough to yield trailers and videos of actual captured gameplay, like in the video below.

Star Wars: Smuggler

Lightsabers and the Force are cool and all, but one of the most interesting aspects of the Star Wars universe is its more colorful characters, particularly bounty hunters and smugglers.

Smuggler was presented conceptually in the mid-2000s as a game in which players customized their own characters and crew, chose jobs to take, and conducted business with other players online. Basically, it was an opportunity for people to run their own underground operation, without fear of one day owing a debt and being frozen in Carbonite.

Episode VII: Shadows of the Sith

Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the many branches within the Star Wars family is one major reason why several of these games never released in a playable state, including this one. Meant to coincide with the then-recent announcement of a seventh film, this game was called “Shadows of the Sith” and focused on Ben Skywalker, the son of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade in the now non-canonical old expanded universe lore.

A lot would have been riding on this one. It was in its conceptual stages shortly after Disney took an eraser to much of the Star Wars expanded universe, and their secrecy surrounding these films makes it likely they wouldn’t have been allowed to put anything related to The Force Awakens in there without any major oversight, if there were even any solid details at all. Of course, it’s all speculation at this point, since the game is now a distant memory.

Star Wars: Rogue Leader Wii (Enhanced Edition)

Developer Factor 5 had big plans to bring the beloved Rogue Leader series to the new platforms by remastering the original Rogue Leader trilogy and releasing it on the Wii as one bundle with additional features playing to the Wii’s strengths, like motion-controlled lightsaber duels and vehicle operation.

Money troubles eventually led to Factor 5’s shutdown, which effectively killed the remaster project. Not all was lost, however; some of the design for the Rogue Leader bundle was eventually used to create the PlayStation exclusive Lair. You’re welcome.

Darth Maul

The Force Unleashed, but more mature content and with dismemberment. That’s a decent way to explain the Darth Maul game that never came to be.

Called Darth Maul: Battle of the Sith Lords, this character action game was meant to be a possible origin story for the red and black striped Dathomirian and how he came to be. It had several prototypes and made it as far as releasing gameplay footage via GameInformer, but business between Lucasfilm and Disney led to its unfortunate demise.

Star Wars: 1313

Taking place in the most violent and dark place of Coruscant, Star Wars: 1313 was the action game rumored to star a young Boba Fett as he rose to prominence as a deadly bounty hunter.

1313 was sadly far along in its development when it was axed, even going so far as to have an E3 demo filled with impressive set pieces and blazing firefights. There’s still hope this one might come back eventually, but it’s not a likely possibility.

Jedi Knight III: Brink of Darnkess

The third in the popular first-person Jedi Knight series, Jedi Knight III would have been the ending to the story of Imperial-turned-Jedi Kyle Katarn.

Little else is known about this one, as it never proceeded past its initial conceptual phase. It’s a shame, too; Kyle’s story was an interesting one, and the Jedi Knight games did a great job of adding in gameplay that felt distinctly Jedi-like.

Knights of the Old Republic III

Knights of the Old Republic is still held up as one of the greatest Star Wars games of all times thanks to its combat, presentation, and brilliant storytelling. Its sequel was slightly less favorable, although it remains a solid entry in the series.

A third KotOR game was in its conceptual stage at one point, but was eventually axed for little-known reasons. BioWare developers have since voiced an interest in making Knights of the Old Republic III, and EA’s ownership of the Star Wars video game license makes this a surprisingly promising possibility. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, we can always speculate about that hopefully awesome Star Wars game on which Amy Hennig is hard at work

Shacknews - David Craddock

Destiny's latest Crucible event came to an end yesterday, but today held a few small surprises for players. In an update to the Destiny slice of Bungie's blog, the developer confessed that nagging issues had been nagging, as nagging issues do, so Bungie smoothed them over.

The hot fix, available now, targets quests, activities, and items. Faction Class loot should now allow proper quest progression, and chests dispense lots of gear in Prison of Elders challenges.

Oddly, this update, referred to as "The One About Melee Attacks," has little to do with melee. Changes to melee attacks will be manually triggered on May 10 at 10a Pacific / 1p Eastern.

Full patch notes follow:

CharacterThe following changes to the melee ability will be manually toggled on Tuesday, May 10th at 10AM Pacific. For a review of the changes read the last "This Week at Bungie."• Fixed a bug that would start a melee target search from an incorrect position, frequently coming up short and causing the melee attack to whiff• Adjust melee strike validation logic and player position networking during melee attacks to improve reliability across the network

Activities• Fixed an issue in which chests in the original Prison of Elders challenge modes (Level 32, 34, 35) did not properly give loot• Fixed an issue in which the Weekly Nightfall did not drop Ghosts above the player's Light correctly Quests• Fixed an issue that prevented completion of the quest "With Finesse and Speed"• Fixed an issue that allowed purchase of Dreadfang before the player had completed the quest to obtain it Items• Fixed an issue in which some of the Faction Class items did not properly allow quest progression for Factions• Fixed an issue where the Hunter "Spektar Grasps" item did not properly display all geometry on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360• Fixed an issue in which Cryptarch Rank Up packages were incorrectly giving Year 1 Engrams• Fixed an issue that would allow Universal Remote to decrypt from Special Weapon engrams when it is a primary weapon

Shacknews - John Keefer

There be dragons coming to Heroes of the Storm, at least that is the speculation. Or could it be a new battlefield?

The official Twitter for the game revealed a GIF showing a dragon shadow flying over the battlefield with the tease of "Keep your eyes on the skies, Heroes." Ozzie seems to think it's a new battlefield with the dragon as an NPC. But overall speculation seems to be a playable dragon. Guesses range from Deathwing to Malygos. But reddit user Ultrasilvaus said that Alexstrasza may be more likely. The reasons:

  • It appears to be a "reveal ability" such as Far Sight and more, with a dragon flying overhead.
  • These abilities are mainly in the talent trees of supports (Rehgar, Brightwing, etc).
  • We haven't had a support hero since Morales (several months).
  • Alexstrasza is the Aspect of Life, and her flames have been known to even bring back to life certain characters (Bolvar Fordragon comes to mind). Also, she's basically the leader of the Aspects.

At the same time he said other Dragon Aspects wouldn't fit:

  • Deathwing could never be a support. Warrior/Assassin.
  • Nozdormu would probably be an Assassin or Specialist, but he can't be the next hero because we just had Tracer added into the game, with her time manipulation powers and they'd be too similar.
  • Malygos/Kalecgos would most likely be an Assassin with all the magic they have at their disposal.
  • Ysera will most likely be a support but I doubt it's her because she'd be a bit similar to Brightwing in terms of lore and abilites (Emerald Dream and such).

Interesting analysis.

So who's right? Ozzie know's his stuff, but I guess we will know for sure soon. What do you think it could mean?

Shacknews - David Craddock

As long as you're loading up on Battleborn games, you might as well add Battleborn Tap for iOS and Android to the pile.

A free-to-play title spun off from the first-person shooter available today for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, Battleborn Tap gives you control of a squad of heroes, just like its console counterpart. You'll unlock more heroes and arenas as you progress, as well as loot dropped by defeated enemies.

"Grow and customize those heroes by collecting and spending gold shards to upgrade your heroes’ skills and abilities to give your squad the best fighting chance against increasingly difficult waves of enemies," according to the game's official website.

Loot is grouped into categories known as Rarities. There are five in total, and loot from higher Rarities bestows greater benefits on your party. Unlocking achievements earns rewards, several of which are exclusive to owners of Battleborn on console or PC.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Humble Bundle's panoply of titles for Wii U and 3DS just grew by three. Until May 10, you can pay what you want for a curated selection of third-party games, including Nano Assault EX on 3DS, and Runbow and Swords and Soldiers 2 for Wii U.

Of course, you only net those and select other games if you pay more than the going average: $9.75 as of this writing.

If you're pinching pennies, you can get Affordable Space Adventures (Wii U), Retro City Rampage: DX (3DS), and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (Wii U or 3DS) for only a buck. The real jackpot, though, comes when you pay $13 or more. Not only will you get all the $1 and average-price games, you'll get Darksiders 2 for Wii U and Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition for 3DS.

That's quite a lineup, and thousands of people have taken notice. According to Polygon, this Humble Bundle has already earned more than $1 million in revenue as of yesterday, May 2, making it an even bigger success than last year's inaugural Humble Friends of Nintendo Bundle.

Remember, you've got one more week to get in on the bundle.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Since Nintendo's announcement that it would move into the mobile space with the help of DeNA, it's been hard not to view its handheld offerings through that lens. Every microtransaction strategy and touch mechanic seems primed for a steady transition toward iPhone and Android games. As a twist on solitaire, Pocket Card Jockey appears as if it could almost be a straight mobile port: a classic with a charming little veneer put over it. But it's actually the mechanical complexity that makes this latest game from the Pokemon studio a strangely hard-to-put-down gem.

In most ways, Pocket Card Jockey defies easy categorization. Yes, it is mostly based on the familiar tropes of a lonely card game, but it builds in fundamental layers of strategy and simple RPG mechanics on top of that foundation. 

Cards on the Table

A typical race consists of three to five quick, simplified solitaire games. Your performance during them determines how much stamina you burn and how much energy you can spend on positioning or banking for the final stretch. Especially poor performance will make your horse go berserk, and burn all of your stamina in one go. Each horse also has its own position preferences which grant bonus energy, and a highlighted comfort area gives bonuses as well. You can also pick up special experience and skill cards on the track that are then obtained by making sure to match them during the next game of solitaire, and it all culminates in the final stretch portion where your energy is converted to an "enthusiasm" rating and you can burn extra energy cards for slight boosts. Plus you generally want to stay close to the edge, so as to not get penalized for taking an overwide turn.

If that sounds strange and complicated, it is. Pocket Card Jockey is not an especially intuitive game, despite the lengthy tutorial that frankly overwhelms with information. It took me several races to piece together what did and didn't work. This was aided somewhat--though not much--by the tutorial horse character Off Course popping up after every race to tell me what I did wrong. He quickly grew obnoxious, but he's thankfully skippable. 

The weakness of all these interlocking systems is that they ultimately rely on a game of chance. It's frustrating to have your perfect strategy ruined by a last minute issue on the final lap because you were dealt a bad hand, and doubly so once Off Course pops up to lecture you on running out of stamina when it felt like you couldn't help it. 

Out to Stud

Ultimately, though, you win some and you lose some. As players we're conditioned to expect to perform to perfection, but tht simply isn't possible here. Sometimes races don't go your way, and that's life. It's a game of incremental progress. You race one horse to completion, or retire a real clunker early, and then adopt a new and usually slightly better horse to begin training them. Skill points lead to random buffs that occur when you need them, and you can always purchase some equipment before an especially big race. 

If you do find and train up a mighty steed, you can use it to breed at the farm, and the offspring will be better than the average horses. Such is the life of a solitaire horse trainer: through several generations, you can make a real competitor. The little love balloons that signify a pairing are delivered with a wink and a nod, as if the game means to make sure we all understand the subtext. 

In fact, that wry sense of humor is present throughout. The entire plot conceit, that playing solitaire impacts your performance in horse races, is developed at the beginning when your character mounts his or her first horse and is immediately thrown off and killed. Or almost killed, at least, as an ostensible guardian angel offers continued life in exchange for a promise that you'll fulfill your life's ambition of winning horse races. That your character insists that winning horse races isn't actually his passion is irrelevant. The angel grants you horse-riding abilities tied to the one thing you actually are good at: computer solitaire. 

The premise is goofy and charming in a way that we don't always see from the studio, Game Freak, which usually plays it straight and earnest. It does have the thumbprint of Nintendo's recent Treehouse all over it. Lest we forget this is the house Pokemon built, though, the trophy case is adorned with the words "Gotta Win 'Em All" and you'll often find yourself racing against horses with names like "Bulba Soar." 

Jockeying for Position

Make no mistake, Pocket Card Jockey is weird. The plot is ridiculous, the systems are obtuse, and the reliance on luck can be incredibly frustrating. Despite all that, though, I kept promising myself just one more race, and then another, late into the night throughout my play sessions. Its complexity can be overwhelming, but once you hit your stride, it's entertaining all the way to the home stretch.

Shacknews - David Craddock

With just over a month and a half to go until E3, more publishers are keen to reveal their plans for next month's annual extravaganza. Several companies including EA, Bethesda, and Microsoft have announced dates and times for their press conferences, and Microsoft has gone into even more detail on the official Xbox blog.

As noted, Xbox's E3 2016 briefing will take place on Monday, June 13, at 930a PDT / 1230p EDT. Microsoft will focus on "in-depth looks" at previously announced games and trailers for unannounced games due out this year and even later. "You can watch the Xbox E3 2016 Briefing live beginning at 9:30 a.m. PDT on June 13 on Xbox.com, the Xbox Twitch Channel, via the Xbox Live Events Player on Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles, or on the big screen at your local Microsoft store," per Xbox.com.

Microsoft's broadcasting schedule only heats up from there. On June 14 and 15, Xbox Daily: LIVE @ E3, a one-hour show hosted by Microsoft personalities including Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb. The show will feature interviews with developers as well as announcements. Look for it at 4p PDT / 7p EDT on Tuesday and Wednesday of E3 week.

That's all the stuff everyone expects from console manufacturers at E3. But reports surfaced last week that Microsoft would announce new Xbox hardware at the conference—an upgrade to Xbox One, or a proper successor, teased by console chief Phil Spencer, who stated explicitly that he doesn't like the idea of moving consoles forward in half steps. If that's going to happen, it'll go down during the briefing on June 13.

...

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