Shacknews - Steven Wong

Continuing from where I left off, I managed to find Yennefer (sorceress and Geralt's lover), but our reunion just means that I have to find someone else. Namely, a girl named Ciri, who Geralt helped teach at Witcher school when she was a child. Now she's grown to be a warrior. She also happens to be the emperor's daughter, and he's offering a lot of incentive for me to help find her. Geralt has his own reasons for wanting to locate the girl, the least of which being that the Wild Hunt appears to be after her too. So, I agree without any fuss.

Out in the emperor's courtyard, there's a hustler who teaches people how to play the card game, Gwent. From what I can gather, it's a strategy game where each player lays down cards on the table to form an army. If played well, the combined might of the army and abilities should be enough to overwhelm the opponent's. Despite how straightforward the rules are, I lost every match I had with the guy, practically guaranteeing that I wouldn't be interested in gambling with cards again.

Moving on from cards, I set off to meet with the emperor's informant, who could lead me to Ciri. The griffin head is tied to the side of my horse, and it looks fantastic. I really want to make a bigger show if it to intimidate anyone who wants to mess with me. However, it doesn't work that way. It also looks like the Wild Hunt got to the informant first, and I have to analyze the clues he left behind. I'm getting the sense that The Witcher 3 is actually an open world detective game, since you always come across crime scenes and dead bodies, and the only way to figure out what happened is to use your Witcher senses and keen observational skills. You also conduct more than a few interrogations.

I also get the feeling that the lengthy tutorial left me woefully unprepared for real world combat. Although the game teaches you how to fight a single opponent, but single enemies are extremely rare. More often you have to fight two drowners at a time, or a pack of wolves, or a whole bunch of heavily armed bandits. The game throws you a bone with a couple bar room brawls, but they don't adequately prepare you for what's out there, especially when bandits carry heavy axes, fire crossbows, and sometimes have a red skull icon over their heads denoting that they shouldn't be messed with. My characters in the peculiar position where he could go toe-to-toe with a giant bear, but has trouble with a camp full of axe-swinging bandits. I wish the game had more stealth elements so that I can thin out the herd before going into battle.

Areas also unevenly distribute different enemy levels. At one point, you could slaughter a huge mob of corpse eaters (ill-named because they eat the living, too), then ride down the road a few yards and you'll come across a group of "don't mess with me" bandits. There are a number of confrontations and moral choices I had to walk away from because there was no way for me to win. Furthermore, experience isn't necessarily tied to killing. I don't gain experience by running up and down the shore, killing every monster I see. The only way to gain experience is to complete quests and contracts. In other words, I actually have to do the job of a Witcher to be a better Witcher.

This is a more realistic approach to leveling up a character in role-playing game, but players should be prepared to spend a lot of time doing odd jobs while looking for your main objective. The informant's clues lead me to the Bloody Baron, who resides in a nearby keep. There's a nice story about how he got the title, and how he and his men are actually deserters from the local army. There are a number of moral decisions to be made, depending on how I think Geralt should react to the ongoing war. It's clear that the emperor's attack, although unprovoked, will succeed. Plus, he doesn't live here, and he's currently in the employ of the emperor, so I don't see any profit in being judgmental. But I do have to wonder if my ambivalence will come back to bite me.

Anyway, back to the quest. The Baron tells the story of how he met Ciri, and for the sake of the take, I get to play as her. She's much faster than Geralt, and carries only one sword instead of two. She also has showy dash to dodge attacks, but doesn't have access to Witcher powers. I guess she didn't graduate from Witcher academy after all. It seems her speed and dodge were exactly what I've been missing, because I make short work of the local wolves and their werewolf leader. It almost makes me wish I was playing this game entirely from Ciri's point of view, since I'm terrible as Geralt.

But the Baron is only willing to tell me half the story. As expected, nothing in the world of The Witcher comes free. An ongoing theme of this game is that I often have to find people to find people, and this situation is no different. I do have the option to turn down jobs, but somehow I don't think that tactic will get me very far. The Baron's wife and daughter have disappeared, whisked away in the night, with no witnesses with a clue to where they went. After I use some Witcher investigative prowess, I determine that there was a struggle and that one of the women left behind a charm of protection.

I seek out the charm maker, who might have information about who or what has the two women, but he is being threatened by a group of unhappy customers as I ride up. Given how I'm not very good at group combat, I decide to solve the situation with diplomacy instead of whipping out my sword. I listen to their problem, tell the men the proper way of helping their friend get better, and they leave, giving me some experience in doing so.

Again, nothing is free. In order for this guy to tell me where the two women might be, I first have to locate Princess... his pet goat. More finding things for Witcher Investigations. Going into the woods, killing wolves, locating the goat, and leading it back with a bell (seriously, nobody uses a leash?) is a bit of a pain, but it pays off. The man contacts the spirits, who inform him that the Baron is actually a wife beater and that he pretty much forced his family to flee the Keep.

I return to the Keep to find that the stables are fire, and the men are apparently too scared to help put it out. No wonder they deserted the frontline. I rescue the man trapped inside along with the horses, and the Baron comes out to congratulate me. Instead of accepting his compliments, I issue a beatdown. After a good pummeling, the Baron admits to everything. How he flew into drunken rages and is directly responsible for his wife's miscarriage. I'm not exactly inclined to help this guy find his family, but I need information on Ciri, so what choice to I have? There's no option to beat it out of him.

Anyway, the violent miscarriage might have been a good thing... well, as good as terrible things can be. The Baron's mishandling of the fetus caused it to become a monster called a botchling. This angry little beasty feeds off fetuses from expecting mothers, then attacks its parents when it grows strong enough. I could either kill the abomination, or the Baron and I could rehabilitate it so that it becomes a household guardian spirit. I'm not in the practice of killing babies unless they attack first, so I tell dear old dad to give the botchling a big old hug so we can save it.

It turns out, transporting a botchling across the keep is a lot of trouble because its presence lures in malignant spirits. Out of all the monsters I've faced so far, spirits have got to be the worst. They teleport all over the place, and the camera doesn't always swivel around to track them. Now I need to fight two groups of four, each teleporting in to take cheap swipes at me. Eventually, I make it through the fights, get the Baron to accept the baby as part of the family, and give it a proper burial. A day later, I have a nice little guardian spirit leading me across the countryside.

The mother is still missing somewhere, but I get a location on the daughter. Although the Bloody Baron is willing to give me some more information, he won't tell the whole story until I actually speak to his daughter and find out where in the world his wife is. He seems reformed now that he's taken responsibility for being an awful human being. Still not sure how far I'm willing to go to help him find his family, but I have a mission, and I could really use the money and experience. So, off I go to meet to the runaway lady on behalf of her sucky dad.

Shacknews - Tad Huempfner

Shacknews will be featuring a new streaming show called Show Important. The pilot episode will premier today at 5PM EST. Today’s episode will feature chatty member Nick Dimucci, creator of the game Demons with Shotguns, which was recently green-lit on Steam.

Demons with Shotguns is a fast paced, retro-style, multiplayer arena shooter scheduled for an October 2015 release.  Players can access the four player web demo here.

Shacknews - Tad Huempfner

Shacknews will be featuring a new streaming show called Show Important. The pilot episode will premier today at 5PM EST. Today’s episode will feature chatty member Nick Dimucci, creator of the game Demons with Shotguns, which was recently green-lit on Steam.

Demons with Shotguns is a fast paced, retro-style, multiplayer arena shooter scheduled for an October 2015 release.  Players can access the four player web demo here.

Watch live video from Shacknews on www.twitch.tv

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

After days of teasing, Electronics Arts has finally unveiled this year’s Need for Speed in a new teaser trailer.

Need for Speed is said to feature deep customization, authentic urban car culture, a “nocturnal” open world, and an immersive narrative. In other words, it sounds like we’re getting a new Need for Speed Undergound game, even though EA has yet to call it such.

The teaser trailer that was released today shows a number of vehicles racing across various streets with law enforcement chasing after them. This leads us to think the new Need for Speed will offer the vibe of an Undergound game, while also giving the thrilling police chases of recent iterations.

The full Need for Speed gameplay trailer will debut on June 15.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

Are you a huge PlayStation fan, but can't attend E3 this year? Well, don't fret, because Sony has got you covered. Sony is hosting the PlayStation E3 Experience, which will be broadcast live to over 75 movie theaters across every state in the United States, plus some in Canada. Fans will be able to watch the entire Sony E3 presentation on the big screen and get a preview of what's to come while surrounded by other PlayStation fans. Not to mention, attendees will get to take home a special PlayStation surprise.

The broadcast will take place on Monday June 15, 9pm EST/6pm PST. Tickets are free, and will be available starting May 27th from the PlayStation E3 Experience website.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

When you combine the creativity of an indie developer with the intense action of stealth action, you sometimes end up with thrilling games that test your mind, patience, and endurance. Here are six games where a pulling out a gun won't always solve your problems. Do you have the skill it takes to move like a ghost?


Republique Remastered

Inspired by today's surveillance culture Republique takes place in a dystopian, totalitarian, country. It's up to you to help a young woman named Hope escape. To do so, you need to hack security cameras, instruct Hope on how to move, steal information, and then sell it in exchange for better hacking abilities. Apart from the fact that Hope is generally defenseless save for a stun gun, Republique is practically the template for the Watch Dogs stealth sequences, right down to using a cell phone as the hacking tool. Ported and remastered from the mobile version to PC and Mac, and divided across 5 chapters, Republique tells a sci-fi tale that is full of intrigue - and not even an all-seeing police state can know what's coming.


Signal Ops

We go from being watched to being the watchers. This first-person espionage game gives players control over a team of six operatives. You'll need to customize your agents, switch points of view between them, then move strategically to complete operations. The trick is, you're given third-rate equipment, and your agents aren't exactly top of their class. In fact, it's surprising they survived to adulthood. Signal Ops features a mix of combat, stealth, and puzzle solving, so when sneaking around fails, you always have the option of applying violence. Whatever it takes to get the job done. However, keep in mind that agents don't magically regenerate health. Luckily, spies are cheap, and you can call in reinforcements to replace the fallen so long as you keep at least one of them alive.


Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

Metrovania action puzzle platforming and several other buzzwords come together in Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones. You play as a lone escaped clone in one of the most deadly toy testing facilities in the world. Your job was to test out the toys to see if they're fit for kids, which means a lot of clones end up being squished, burned, devoured, chopped up or otherwise splattered. Have your pathetically weak clone make his way through the facility, acquire new equipment, and use them to solve deadly test chambers while freeing your fellow clones from captivity. But always stick to the shadows and don't get spotted, or you'll end up as another test failure casualty.


Outlast

Stealth action meets survival horror in Outlast. You play as investigative journalist Miles Upshur, acting on tip from an anonymous source that tells of all sorts of weird goings on happening at the Mount Massive Asylum. Now you're trapped inside an asylum where horrific experiments are being conducted. Unarmed, all you can do is run, hide, and find a way to escape hell's basement.


Invisible Inc.

In a dystopian future, the megacorporations control everything, and they rule with a ruthless efficiency. They all but crush the rebel spy agency called Invisible, forcing its leader and a handful of agents to flee with little more than an artificial intelligence named Incognita. Now it's your job to get Invisible back on its feet by hitting the corporations back. But there's a catch: You only have 72 hours to do it before Incognita's battery runs out. Steal technology, steal money, and grab up anything else you can before escaping. Incognita can hack into systems for you, but choose your moves carefully, because one mistake could cause the entire mission to fall apart.


Amnesia: The Dark Descent

From the makers of the Penumbra series, Amnesia is a horror survival game that puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on atmosphere at terror. Make your way through darkened corridors as Daniel, a man who awakens inside a desolate castle. You have to uncover the castle's mysteries while escaping threats that could be lurking around every corner. The only options you have for surviving are running, hiding, and using your wits. Keep an ear out for strange sounds, and always check over your shoulder. It's the only way you can hope to get out in one piece. It's games like Amnesia that helped take survival horror in a new, intense, direction fraught with fear and despair. The game will also help prepare you for SOMA, a sci-fi psychological thriller expected to release later this year.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

Are you a huge PlayStation fan, but can't attend E3 this year? Well, don't fret, because Sony has got you covered. Sony is hosting the PlayStation E3 Experience, which will be broadcast live to over 75 movie theaters across every state in the United States, plus some in Canada. Fans will be able to watch the entire Sony E3 presentation on the big screen and get a preview of what's to come while surrounded by other PlayStation fans. Not to mention, attendees will get to take home a special PlayStation surprise.

The broadcast will take place on Monday June 15, 9pm EST/6pm PST. Tickets are free, and will be available starting May 27th from the PlayStation E3 Experience website.

This isn't the first time Sony gives fans the opportunity to experience its E3 press conference from the comforts of a public movie theater as they offered this very experience last year. At least with this year's presentation, the list of movie theaters has expanded from 40+ to 75+ movie theaters, hopefully making it a little bit easier for its fans to find one close to their home rather than having to travel for hours just to get a better E3 experience.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

The fourth episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series will be continuing next week with Sons of Winter.

The fourth episode of this six-part series has the fate of the scattered Forresters hanging in the balance, for both its family members and those allied with them. With young Ryon Forrester still held prisoner, Rodrik comes across a new opportunity to possibly free Ironrath from its Whitehill stranglehold. Gared, on the other hand, abandons Castle Black to venture beyond the Wall in search of North Grove.

The rest of the Forresters have their own unique situations they need to be wary of that include people and locations fans of Game of Thrones will recognize. These include King’s Landing, Wildlings, and Daenerys Targaryen.

Sons of Winter will be available on May 26th on PC/Mac, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3. Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners will get their chance with the new episode the following day on May 27th, while iOS and Android users get theirs May 28th.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

After days of teasing, Electronics Arts has finally unveiled this year’s Need for Speed in a new teaser trailer.

Need for Speed is said to feature deep customization, authentic urban car culture, a “nocturnal” open world, and an immersive narrative. In other words, it sounds like we’re getting a new Need for Speed Undergound game, even though EA has yet to call it such.

The teaser trailer that was released today shows a number of vehicles racing across various streets with law enforcement chasing after them. This leads us to think the new Need for Speed will offer the vibe of an Undergound game, while also giving the thrilling police chases of recent iterations.

The full Need for Speed gameplay trailer will debut on June 15.

Developing...

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Techland’s Hellraid is being sent back to the drawing board, and as a result, will no longer be expected to be released this year.

The development of Hellraid has been put on hold after Techland found internal analysis of the game, in its current shape and form, was not meeting the studio’s own expectations for the project. As a result, it decided the best course of action would be to send it back to the drawing board and invent their dark-fantasy title anew.

In the meantime, Techland will consolidate its development resources and focus on further expansions for Dying Light.

Hellraid was first announce back in August 2012 as Project Hell, which was then renamed to Hellraid in 2013. The title was hit with a number of delays that first pushed it back to 2014, then to 2015. Now, it appears the entire project could be in jeopardy if Techland isn’t able to deliver the kind of game they want it to be.

Even though Hellraid has been put on hold, Techland consolidating its resources to help create additional content for Dying Light can be seen as the only positive in this story. The game has already received new skins, a new hard mode, and it’ll soon be unleashing the Bozak Horde on survivors next week. With the upcoming consolidation, we could be getting more content in a much shorter time.

...

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