What is it? Classic 4x strategy game and spiritual successor to Sid Meier s Alpha Centauri. Price: $50 / 30 Release Date: Oct 24, 2014 Publisher: 2K Developer: Firaxis Games Multiplayer: Up to 8 players for traditional or hot seat multiplayer Link:Official site
Beyond Earth begins with the very sci-fi premise of What if? What if you took Civilization, the classic turn-based grand strategy game, and made one of its signature endings the beginning of a whole new game?
In Civilization, you can win the game by building a spaceship to launch your civilization into space, in search of a new world. Beyond Earth takes that ending and makes it a beginning. You are now on that new world: Go.
The result is a game that succeeds in almost exactly the same way as it fails; a major case of cognitive dissonance. Beyond Earth, while bearing many attributes of a brand new game, is based in Civilization 5 s engine and mechanics. It is in many ways exactly the same game as Civ 5, just spacier.
Is that a problem? That depends on how much you like Civ 5, and how willing you are to take the ride and give Beyond Earth s new space look a shot.
For me it was a problem all through my first game. I played as the Brazilian civ, with its bonus to melee combat. Being a Civ veteran, I, without even realizing it, ported over my go-to Civ strategy of focusing on strength in the early age to build the foundation of a strong late-game civilization. And then, turn-by-turn, I played the game almost on auto-pilot.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn t enjoy the experience. And it took me losing that game and having to step away and reassess how I was approaching it in order to learn how to love it.
Beyond Earth has a lot of new looks: new units, new victories, a completely new tech tree (actually, it s a web), new leaders, new civilizations and a handful of things under the hood that are also completely new. But the experience of cracking it open, watching my colony ship settle onto a completely dark map and then setting foot onto this alien world felt just like playing Civ 5—at first.
On the one hand, there are many worse 4X strategy games to emulate than Civ 5, and as that game s expansions have proved, while it redesigned much of the original Civ formula, it left a lot of room on the table for reinventing itself. Beyond Earth brings some of the better reinventions along with it. Trade routes feature prominently in Beyond Earth, for one thing, as does a new strategic component much like Gods & Kings s religions, called Affinities.
Affinities allow you to evolve your Beyond Earth civ beyond its human origins, focusing research on technologies that will play to how you want to interface with your new world and its inhabitants.
The Harmony affinity is what it sounds like, allowing you to meld with the new planet s lifeforms and create new alien units. Purity focuses on genetic manipulation of the human genome to build better versions of your civ. Finally, Supremacy lets you make your civ s humans into cyborgs with giant robot friends.
Each affinity allows for slightly different victories and affinity-only units, and can have a dramatic effect on your overall game. Specializing in Supremacy will unlock robot soldiers, for example. Whereas the Harmony affinity will grant you access to alien-based units and the ability to tolerate the new world s harsh alien environment. Other civs will respond to you (or not) based on your affinity, and actions you take in the world can impact your affinity score.
on alpha centauri
It s impossible to play Beyond Earth without comparing it to the 'other' Civ-in-space game, Sid Meier s Alpha Centauri.
One of the first games developed by Firaxis following its founders departure from Microprose, Alpha Centauri had the benefit of the expertise of Civilization Creator Sid Meier, but without the Civilization IP. Firaxis has since regained many IPs from now-defunct Microprose, but due to the vagaries of the game business, Alpha Centauri resides with its publisher, EA.
I played Alpha Centauri extensively during a long Late Winter in San Francisco. I was taken in by the living world aspect and the deep narrative with elements pulled from science fiction of the day. I enjoyed the experience greatly.
That said, if I had come to Beyond Earth looking for a direct sequel or a modern update to the 1999 game, I would have been wildly disappointed. Although it does have narrative elements, and certain signature aspects of Alpha Centauri have crept in, Beyond Earth is very much its own game.
This is most noticeable when dealing with the planet s indigenous creatures. Instead of Civilization s barbarians, Beyond Earth has a variety of alien lifeforms, some more aggressive than others. On the surface, these seem to be more bug-like versions of the barbarians, but they play and react quite differently from their hairier, Earth-bound cousins. Whereas barbarians will more or less attack whatever is in range at random, the aliens will frequently not attack unless provoked. I was able to send Explorer units carefully into heavily alien-infested territories without earning so much as a scratch. Still, other times, aliens would attack me at random, either provoked by the presence of one of my military units or by the aggressive actions of my civ neighbors. Over-aggressively terraform your new world and your Harmony attributes will be for naught, as aggro aliens force you into conflict. Whereas attempting to clear out the new world s alien lifeforms (instead of attempting to harmonize with them), can lead to them becoming even more aggressive, eventually luring more powerful aliens toward your cities.
The other big newness is the orbital layer. You can build and launch satellites in Beyond Earth, and these will impart benefits to specific tiles. Some are quest- and victory-based, and others are magnificent weapons. The Planet Carver, for example, shoots a massive beam of weaponized energy from space and it is glorious. You can toggle between the planetary and orbital layer with a button, and you can knock enemy satellites out of orbit with certain ranged units.
The Orbital Layer adds a fun, new twist and an engaging tactical element to Civ 5 s already finely tuned tactical game. I found myself chuckling at the misfortune of civs that crossed my path when I had Planet Carvers at my disposal. And deploying Solar Collectors and Miasma Repulsers (to clear away the alien planet s harmful, natural vapors) made me feel like I now had a new, more direct tool for improving my cities.
Besides, who doesn t like launching stuff into space?
Now for the bad news: It s easy to feel like Beyond Earth is just an expansion to Civ 5, albeit spacier than those that came before. For Civ 5 fans like myself, this is a loaded proposition.
If you like Civ 5, then more Civ 5 equals more Civ 5, which is great! But there s no denying that even as much as I love Civ 5 (and I do love it, quite a lot), I was expecting something more from Beyond Earth than Civ 5 with a sci-fi skin. And in spite of the dramatic opening cinematic, the rocketing descent of my landing craft and the stirring opening text about how my civilization had traveled the stars to start anew and blah, blah… as soon as that first turn started and my explorer unit stared across the landscape dotted with hex grids and covered with the fog of war, I felt a rush of disappointment.
My newly founded city needed to produce things, and although those things bore new names, they seemed to me the same, old buildings in all but name alone. And although the alien landscape was littered with seemingly-unusual resources, the deadly miasma and resource pods containing goodies for home, all that, too, felt same old, at first blush.
So I set about methodically slogging through the familiar in search of the new, and without my even realizing it, I found it.
Beyond Earth s many similarities to Civ 5 mask, to its detriment, a game that is remarkably new and different, and once I was able to see past those similarities, the newness and wonder of playing in a future Civ sandbox washed over me like a slow boiling pot of water. I was engrossed before I realized it.
As the Brazilians, I was aiming for a Purity affinity, but fumbled my way through the research web willy-nilly and eventually lost the game without ever realizing one of my enemies had been close to victory. Not great, but that s when it finally dawned on me that Beyond Earth, in spite of its heavy foundation in Civ 5 s mechanics and rules, is actually a completely different game.
So I started again, this time as the Slavic Federation. I would specialize in Supremacy and after a bit of research on what the new victories actually were (pro tip: read the f-ing manual), I decided to shoot for the Contact victory, but build a strong enough civ that, should all else fail, I could at least take over the world.
Beyond Earth offers five victory conditions, although two are similar, differing only in which affinity will unlock it.
Contact involves discovering an alien signal and unlocking the secret of your new planet s Progenitor species, an ancient alien race that left mysterious ruins behind. It is by far the most narrative of the victories, although its attempts at narrative don t always mesh well with Civ s UI.
One specific portion of the road to the Contact victory, for example, called for sending a military unit to a recently discovered alien ruin. I located the ruin and dispatched a rover… and waited. And waited. And waited. The instruction dialogue said the ruin itself had summoned a civilian from one of my cities, then asked me to send a military unit, presumably to escort that civilian. Which I had done, but I wasn t sure if I had skipped a step. After several turns I finally noticed a new button had appeared in the rover s action panel. I pressed the button and the quest concluded anti-climactically, with a text box and a ding. Wheres Firaxis s other sci-fi game, XCOM, uses cinematics to impart such momentous advancements, the Beyond Earth solution felt more than a little hollow and frustrating.
Domination is what it sounds like, giving you the win if you capture all of the opposing civ s capitals. This is the most Civ-like of the victories, although it does require some mastery of Beyond Earth s new technologies and units.
Emancipation and Promised Land are two sides of the same coin. You must research the technology to eventually open either an Emancipation or Exodus gate back to Earth, bringing those left behind either salvation or dominance. If you are Purity or Supremacy, this is your Affinity-scientific end game.
Transcendence is the Harmony victory. It involves researching alien technologies to create a mind flower that will unite your consciousness with that of the alien planet. City buildings can aid in this victory, shortening the amount of time it takes for the mind flower to bloom.
In addition to the end game victory, Beyond Earth also brings along smaller quests. Occasionally new technologies or improvements will offer a choice for how they are used, adding additional money or food, for example, or presenting a moral or philosophical choice. Eradicate aliens or domesticate them, for example. It s a nice new twist and they gave me a stronger connection to the decisions I was making, and gave an aspect of the game that has typically been ho-hum, more drama.
Quests will occasionally also be simply fun things to experience. There is a massive 'siege worm' in Beyond Earth, for example. A late-game Harmony technology will eventually allow you to control these worms, like Paul Atreides in Dune, but an early-game quest with no affinity restriction tasks you with killing one. If you can pull it off, it s a hoot.
Playing as the Purity Brazilians, I eventually corralled a siege worm and with the help of one air unit, three ranged units, a melee soldier and a satellite buff, I took it. It had already destroyed two settlers, half a dozen military units, countless trade convoys and an entire outpost. The quest reward didn t nearly repay what I had lost, but it was a glorious struggle.
Beyond Earth ran smoothly at 1080p, hovering at 60 FPS with all settings maxed, occasionally dipping to 45 at the start/end of a turn. There's a noticeable improvement from 2X-8X AA and shadow and texture settings from medium to high. Animations and particle effects need the high-end to shine. Testing briefly on an AMD HD 6900 GPU, my framerate maxed out at 45 FPS and dipped as low as 10 with all visuals set to medium.
As the Supremacy Slavs, I slaughtered alien lifeforms with abandon, reaping monetary and technological rewards and tried to focus my research on Supremacy techs to grow my military force. When the ARC civilization landed on a plain I had planned to colonize myself, I decided to go full tactical and take them out.
What followed was an, at times, tedious, but overall successful campaign to take over the ARC land and, in the process, clear an alien infestation from a mountainous jungle that would eventually form the production center of my empire. Using Brawlers, Rovers, and Gunners, I first attacked ARC s capitol and was repulsed, and then withdrew into the jungle to wage war on the aliens while earning upgrades and improving my equipment with scientific research. Dozens of turns later, I emerged from the jungle with a seasoned army and conquered the ARC one city at a time. They were but the first.
As my neighbors inched toward various victories, I invaded their lands to secure my dominance, building a robot empire on the bones of their fallen civilizations.
For my third playthrough, I wanted to win without firing shot. I almost succeeded.
I picked the Franco-Iberian civ and focused on the Harmony affinity. Instead of clearing the alien miasma, I left it alone and eventually developed immunity to its effects through technology.
Focusing on trade and science, I built a civ on an archipelago-like planet that spanned two large islands. I traded with every other civ, giving both them and me a boost to income and science. I made deals for resources I had in abundance. I made friends. Meanwhile I used my trade vessels to boost my own productivity and growth, and built city and tile improvements that gave me a scientific edge.
When war broke out between the Polystralians and the PAC, I took no sides. When the Brazilians edged closer to their own Transcendence victory, I made trade routes to beef up my science output and closed the gap.
Above: Gameplay footage we captured from an earlier preview build.
When I pulled ahead, and Brasilia began massing troops near my border, I formed alliances elsewhere and quietly poured money at my military and defenses.
Ultimately, war never came. Although I was forced to kill a handful of arbitrarily aggressive aliens, I dominated my fellow civs with science and trade, with my guns silent. And when my mind flower bloomed, I felt like I finally understood everything Beyond Earth had to offer. And, just like for my Harmony civ, with understanding came a deep appreciation for my new world/game s many complexities.
This is how Beyond Earth succeeds in spite of its similarities to Civ 5. It offers a game steeped in the traditions and mechanics of Civilization, that s nevertheless surprising and new in often unexpected ways. I ve conquered countless civilizations on the planet Earths of each various Civilization game, and each time it s felt like reinventing a fantasy version of the past. In Beyond Earth, victory feels like living in—and forging—humanity s future, and I can honestly say I ve never had more fun building a civ to stand the test of time.
More Valve; more Halloween. Team Fortress 2 feels more suited to the festivities than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and already has a back catalogue of five previous scream-filled events.
In preparation for the sixth, the TF2 team are now reprising these events. "If we threw you into the 900-mile-an-hour hellride we've got planned this year without warming you up first, you'd essentially be going from an idle state of terrorlessness to a shrieking nightmare of solid 100% terror almost instantly," write Valve, who write this sort of thing. "It would be the equivalent of going from seeing zero skeletons to seeing a thousand skeletons at once."
As a result, you can now Quickplay any of the five previous events—providing easy access to terrifying scares comedy bosses. Expect details of TF2's sixth Halloween event to surface later this month.
The ever-vigilant NeoGAF has found what could be the official system requirements for Assassin's Creed: Unity. The specs are reportedly from IntraGames—the South Korean publisher of Unity and other Ubisoft titles. But if IntraGames had released the requirements, they've since taking them down; and no amount of searching for cached versions of " " has produced anything from an official source. Here, though, is a cached version of the (now also removed) original report from the site Ruliweb.
Caveats in place, here is what might be the system requirements for Assassin's Creed Unity:
Operating System : Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 / 8.1 (64 -bit version only supported)
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.3 GHz or AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz or higher (Intel Core i7-3770 @ 3.4 GHz or AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz or more recommended)
RAM: 6 GB or more (8 GB or more recommended)
Graphics Card : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 or AMD Radeon HD 7970, graphics memory 2GB or more (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290X, graphics memory 3 GB or more recommended)
Sound Card : Direct X 9.0c compatible sound card and the latest drivers
HDD: 50 GB or more
Yup, that's a minimum requirement of a GTX 680—effectively restricting the game to the last few years of GPU tech.
Of course, that's only if a) the information is real, and b) is system requirements have any bearing on reality. Increasingly, it seems, they don't. Shadow of Mordor's highest system requirements asked for an absurd 6GB VRAM. I've yet to have a problem with 2GB.
Essentially then, system requirements are increasingly a crapshoot. Even if these ones are confirmed, you'd be better off waiting for the benchmarks.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is certainly at the more serious end of Valve's multiplayer services—being about guns and terrorism, rather than gravel or wizards. Nevertheless, they're getting in on the Halloween spirit with the temporary addition of masks, ghosts and zombie chickens.
"Each of our hardened operators have decided to have a little Halloween fun by wearing masks," explains the CS:GO blog. Masks are coming across from Payday 2 and Team Fortress 2.
In addition, there's a chance you'll see fallen teammates as ghostly figures haunting the map. And, of course, there's the chickens. "For too long the chickens of CS:GO have idly watched as their brethren were slaughtered by the droves," Valve write, "and on All Hollow s Eve there is no more room in Chicken Hell." Basically, if you kill a chicken, it will resurrect—but green.
The changes come as part of a more general patch—filled with spooky notes like "fixed wallbang inconsistency through closed window in apartments near Bombsite B."
World of Warcraft turns ten next month. Think about that for a second: not only have people been playing World of Warcraft for ten years, but Blizzard has actively supported it for a decade. While there's no lack of statistics pointing to a declining subscriber base, the truth of the matter is that even in decline, World of Warcraft is head and shoulders above its competition. Not to mention that subscriber numbers tend to peak in the lead up to a new expansion. With the promise of expansion releases at a steadier rate into the future, it's hard to imagine World of Warcraft going away soon.
Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas joined Blizzard in 2008. I caught up with him during a trip to Sydney where he appeared at an event celebrating the game's tenth anniversary, alongside the November 13 release of Warlords of Draenor. We chat about what the ten year milestone means to Blizzard, and what the studio has in mind for the future.
PC Gamer: World of Warcraft hits ten years next month. Is there another ten years in it?
Ion Hazzikostas: Yes, without a question. I can t tell you exactly what our 20th anniversary celebration event is going to bemaybe new content which hasn t been createdbut I can tell you there s going to be one.
PCG: Has there been any notable shifts in the way both Blizzard and the community approach the series, since you joined in 2008?
IH: Yeah. There hasn t necessarily been a clear cut point where things suddenly changed, it s just a series of gradual changes among our community but also among us, as we respond and listen. Part of having a game which has run for ten consecutive years is that your fans and your players lives are changing, and you need to evolve with them. A lot of players who first adopted WoW in 2004 were students then, but now they have families and careers. Maybe previously they liked to stay up raiding, but now they re trying to fit in 60 to 90 minutes after the kids go to bed, trying to keep in touch with this passion of theirs.
At the same time we don t want to make the game exclusively like that, because new players are coming in all the time: people who are looking to be the best, to climb to the top of an arena ladder in PvP or to be the best raiders in the world. What we ve seen over the years is a continuing broadening of our reach and focus. We re not trying to focus on one play style versus another, but trying to focus on all playstyles.
If you like collecting, getting mounts and pets, then you can build a whole experience around doing that. If you just want to log on and see to the end of the story, you can hop into the raid finder and experience content which, seven or eight years ago, you d need to organise 25 to 40 friends and dedicated blocks of time over the course of weeks and months to see. Now if you feel like it you can get the story payoff there. Really it s about accessibility wherever possible, but not at the expense of depth.
PCG: Over the course of all the expansions, and given that some people have played for ten years, does it get more difficult to balance the needs of newcomers with the old school?
IH: Sure it does. I think the challenge there is giving existing players something that feels new and fresh to them, and giving them evolution. Particularly with classes, the characters they play, the new toys they want and new abilities, but without letting the game get to the point where it s overwhelming and frankly bloated for someone coming in from scratch.
What we did in Mists of Pandaria we ve gone further with in Warlords of Draenor. That is, where possible we've consolidated and streamlined those elements from the past. We want to keep the elements that are the best, strongest and most pure, while getting rid of the ones that are redundant, less used or less needed by the player base. A lot of the class changes that we re making in Warlords reflects that philosophy. We re looking back at ten years worth of class development, where often classes would get abilities just because other classes were getting new abilities (even if they didn't need them). As class designers we would sit around thinking to ourselves well okay, does the Death Knight really need four new abilities? They re kinda well rounded, they can do everything as it is, but oh well, I guess everyone s getting new abilities so let s come up with some stuff. Some of them were good but some of them weren t really needed. You layer enough of those on top of each other and you get to the point where a new or returning player is overwhelmed with the amount of options.
But it also means when we want to give you something newsomething that is valuable and is meeting a gameplay needthere s no room. People s action bars are full and their keybinds are all tied up. So we re constantly having to go back to do periodic housecleaning, streamlining, getting rid of things that are less used in order to make room for exciting new things.
PCG: Has that thinking influenced making the previous expansion sets free? What was the motive there?
IH: I think that s in the same vein as the level 90 boost: trying to remove the obstacles that come with having ten years worth of content. We want to keep that richness and the depth, because it s a ten year old game and there s an amazing amount of content in there. But we don t want you to feel that if you want to check out Draenor you have to buy this box and that box, or that you need to jump through all these hoops in order to play the content with friends. If you see an advertisement and you want to check it out, or if you have a friend who says come raid with me or come join my guild we don t want people to jump hurdles to get there.
PCG: The new character models have been well-received. Are there plans to upgrade other angles of the game from a cosmetic point of view? Maps for instance?
IH: I think certainly in Cataclysm we did a large scale overhaul of the old world. We increase the level of fidelity that we design the game to in each expansion. We support newer features from the newest graphics cards and so forth. I think that s something that we continue to push. I don t know that we necessarily have plans to go back and retrofit and update old portions of the world. To some extent it s a living timeline and history of the development of WoW which you can play through and which stands as a record of that time.
Part of the charm of what Outland, Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King content entails is that the way they look reflects how the game looked back then. As always where it makes sense and when it s the right thing for the player we re not going to shy away from something due to resources, but it also comes to the question of where we allocate that resource. Would it be better served if we took all that art time and instead used it to make extra zones in our new expansion content? The answer to that is probably yes.
PCG: But in terms of practical and appealing upgrades, has the studio discussed any possibilities?
IH: Well we have more work to do with the character models, and there s also the things that players transform into: like the Moonkin for the Druids, things along those lines that are in the same vein, and are things you see on the screen all the time. Other things we ve been exploring is adding additional visual depth to our armour systems, whether it s cosmetic attachments like the hunter who can have a quiver, or more geometry to the armour to help you distinguish your silhouette from other players.
PCG: Have there been any recent MMOs you ve enjoyed or taken inspiration from?
IH: Yeah, lots. All of us on the team are fans of the MMO genre: we ve played all the games and not just for market research, but because we re excited to see what people are doing with the genre. Whether it s Guild Wars 2, Aion, Wildstar, Elder Scrolls or Destiny - if it s in the genre we re playing it, we re talking about it and we re enjoying it. There s certainly things that we look at. We make sure that if they re doing something better than we are then we ask what can we do to fix that, how can we improve, what elements could we adopt to make our player s experience better. It s not about copying or keeping up, it s more about keeping pace with the industry as a whole, the way the MMO genre evolves and doing the right thing by players.
PCG: World of Warcraft is head and shoulders above its competition. Why is the paid model not working for some competitors? We ve had Star Wars: The Old Republic and Elder Scrolls Online struggle of late. Are players shifting away from the subscription model or is it a problem with the genre?
IH: It s tough. It s hard for me to really speak to other games and their particular stories. I know that for us, we feel like the subscription model continues to be the right one for us and our players. We deliver high value for the monthly subscription because it allows us to provide a steady stream of content, and we don t have any plans to move away from that any time soon.
PCG: Blizzard has a good track record launching stable expansions. What s the mood in the office when it ticks over?
IH: Always anxious, always tremendously excited. There are few greater joys as a designer than sharing what you ve created. It s always this excitement at seeing people run off into a world, and the excitement of playing it ourselves. We ve obviously played it extensively internally, but the game is so big that it s hard for any one staff member to see it all, so there s always tonnes of surprises to experience for the first time. It s always incredibly high energy and a fun week.
PCG: It s been mentioned a couple of times that Blizzard hopes to release expansion content on a more frequent basis. A yearly basis has been suggested. Could these be as big in scope as Draenor or Mists, for instance?
IH: There isn t a specific template that we try to fit every time. We re pretty happy with the number of dungeons and raids for example, and the scale of a Pandaria or a Draenor I think is something we d try to stick to. Clearly talk is cheap and action is what counts, and we ve been talking about wanting to release more frequent expansions forever: they date back to 2008.
That runs into both production realities and our inherent perfectionism. We don t want to just push the game out there because we said we d hit a date: we need to make sure it s the right thing for our players and the right thing for us. That said, the WoW team has grown significantly in the last year and a half. We re trying to be capable of meeting some of those goals and of course you have to walk before you can run. Things slow down a little bit as you bring a tonne of people on as you need to train them up. You need to integrate them into your culture and into your environment, into your workflow, and so those are some of the reasons why there was a large gap between Mists and Warlords. But we feel like we re not going to repeat that, but of course again: time will tell.
IH: It grew from a couple of things. We had this very small feature in Mists, which was the farm. You received a small plot of land where you could plant crops and unlock a few additional rows and fields. It was a tiny aspect, but players loved it. There was a lot of attachment and joy in the sense of owning a piece of the land to yourself. We saw that unexpected success and thought about how we could build on that further. It also dovetailed with the themes of Draenor: it s sort of a return to the series RTS roots, both in terms of the franchise story, but also the idea of building a base and having the iconic looks of the old barracks and the blacksmith and the armoury, in addition to the storyline of needing to raise an army. All of that came together and now the story of Draenor is the story of you and your garrison.
It s a very Warcraft version of player housing. Many MMOs have done it and many have asked for it, but we could never square the idea of player housing with our universe. Does your Orc warrior come home and decide what kind of drape they re going to have or how the couch is going to look? No, you come home and decide whether you want a barracks or an armoury. That s Warcraft.
PCG: Are there any ideas to expand Garrisons beyond the Draenor expansion?
IH: There aren t specific plans, but you never know what the future holds. If it turns out that players are so attached to their garrisons then it s a problem we ll happily accept and find solutions for. Right now we re envisioning it as something that s very integrated into the Draenor experience. As part of the ten year anniversary and the scope of the game, it s important how we approach features like this, to try to keep them focused where possible on specific expansions. We re never going to release expansions quicker if every new addition creates a new maintenance process. That would mean having to create new garrison buildings, or 50 new followers etcetera. Where it makes sense we ll do that, but we d like to try to focus things so that the experience from one expansion to another is more varied.
IH: It s definitely cool, it s just emergent gameplay. Some people try to do things in unconventional ways. In this case clearly you were supposed to have to pick a side, it was designed that you would join an alliance, but this was a loophole. In retrospect if someone in our QA team entered a bug that it s possible to level indefinitely by collecting herbs in the starting zone we would have fixed it before the game shipped, because it s clearly not intended. But once someone is out there doing that, it would be terrible to undermine that person s efforts. It s not something that s for everybody and clearly they had fun doing it because they had random people logging on just to have a chat, and it became a spectacle. In general we like to let people have fun unless it s coming at the expense of someone else s fun. We always get a kick out of that stuff.
The long-awaited v1.2.0 patch for rogue-like platformer Risk of Rain is finally here. Announced two months ago, the patch brings two new classes, ten new items and six new challenges, as well as a long list of big fixes and gameplay improvements. The patch notes are low on detail regarding what these new classes bring to the game, though grappling hooks appear to be involved, which is nice.
Changes have been made to the existing Huntress, HAN-D, Acrid and Mercenary classes, while the newer version of the game now runs on an entirely new engine. You'll want to check out the full patch details over here as they're quite extensive.
In terms of bug fixes the list is similarly large, with a few highlights including fixes to the Bighorn Bison hit box, adjustments to the Enforcer class and, luckily for Golems, no more spawning inside of walls.
It says a lot about the good health of games when The Stanley Parable, a strange narrative-driven adventure with origins in the modding community, can sell over 1 million copies. Developer Davey Wreden revealed the sales figure on Twitter earlier this week. "A few years ago no one had any idea who I was," he wrote. "Today The Stanley Parable has sold a million copies. Thank you."
So much for seeing the high-end "Extreme" Broadwell processors anytime soon—or anytime in 2015 at all, in fact. The VR Zone (a Chinese tech site) reports that Intel s high-end desktop Broadwell-E CPUs, the successor to Haswell-E which was released back in August, will supposedly come out in the first few months of 2016 rather than fall 2015.
After Broadwell has been delayed several times due to manufacturing issues, it s not surprising to hear that we ll have to wait a long while for top-end parts. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich promised to deliver Broadwell CPUs in 2014, but those will be lower-power Core M chips. The more powerful desktop Core i5 and i7 chips ideal for gaming won't be out until sometime in 2015.
The VR Zone report doesn't specify the exact reasons Intel's pushing the Extreme chips back to 2016, but it does give us a glimpse at what Intel s next high-end chip will entail. VR-Zone confirms some previous reports that Broadwell-E chips reuse the existing LGA2011v3 socket and stick with the X99 chipset.
The big draw of Broadwell chips is that they will be made with a new, smaller 14-nanometer silicon fabrication process, which should reduce power consumption and in turn cooler running CPUs. Compared to the 22nm process used to create Haswell chips, Intel will be able to produce boards that are 25-percent smaller.
Broadwell should be an very heat and power efficient line of processors, but similar to the way Ivy Bridge was a shrunken down version of Sandy Bridge, Broadwell is only an incremental update from the Haswell. Skylake, meanwhile, will represent an all new architecture with a new chip design and possibly introduce wireless charging and data streaming.
The origins of new indie studio Edge Case Games are a bit confusing. Its website says its the team that developed Strike Suit Zero, completely intact, now operating under a new name, since Born Ready Games "was set up with the sole intention of bringing Strike Suit Zero to fruition." But it also implies that Born Ready continues, adding, "We are two companies working together with common history and DNA." Whatever the details, the easy-to-follow version is this: The Strike Suit Zero guys have announced their new project, a tactical combat game called Fractured Space.
Fractured Space will feature massive capital ships engaging in team-based, five-on-five online combat. There will be various manufacturers and classes of ships, and they can be further customized through the use of "Galactic Coin" earned in battle, meaning that every engagement will be different.
"Above all else we want to transmit a sense of scale to the player—the feeling of participating in a massive space battle inside their own titanic capital ship, blasting apart enemy ships and working together with other players to achieve a common objective," Edge Case CEO James Brooksby said in a statement.
There aren't a lot of details at this point but it sounds quite similar to Dreadought, the game currently in the works at Spec Ops: The Line studio Yager Development. That game features fleets-based capital ship combat as well, but where its action (all we've seen of it so far, anyway) is atmospheric, with ships that "hover," the promise of "massive space battles" in Fractured Space suggests that it will actually take place out in the void.
Edge Case says it's committed to an "open development ethic" for the game, meaning that it will share assets and plans, and accept input from the community, as it goes. It will launch on Early Access later this year before going into full release in 2015 as a free-to-play game, with various perks being reserved for Early Access "founders." In the meantime, you can find out more about what they've got cooking at fracturedspace.com.