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Shacknews - Steve Watts

While the Xbox One turning on with the sound of your voice made for an impressive stage presentation, it didn't take long for the Internet to notice: doesn't that mean it's listening all the time? Today, in a bevy of new information that also included online checks and game licensing, Microsoft attempted to put fears at ease with more detail about the new Kinect's privacy settings.

In a detailed announcement, Microsoft stated that you'll personalize your Kinect during start-up. That will let you pick which settings are on from the start, and you can turn the sensor on, off, or pause it. When the Kinect is off, Microsoft says, it's only listening for the command "Xbox on," but you can disable that feature as well. When the Xbox One is in use, Microsoft is careful to note that it's not recording or uploading any conversation. Finally, you can use other inputs if you just want to turn off or pause the Kinect.

Concerning personal data, Microsoft claims that nothing will leave your Xbox One without explicit, expressed permission. It uses examples like a fitness game measuring heart data or a card game that views your face to determine the strength of a bluff.

This is all much more specific than the information we heard late last month, which simply promised privacy settings without going into detail.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Almost as soon as the Xbox One announcement ended, we started hearing contradictory tales from Microsoft regarding the system's connectivity requirements. The last two weeks have apparently given the company a chance to get its messaging straight, as it finally clarified today just how often the system needs to check in.

As confirmed on the official site the system will require an online check-in every 24 hours on your primary console. If you're accessing your game library on someone else's system, that window gets narrowed to every hour. The page warns: "Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies."

This is similar to what Phil Harrison told Kotaku, which apparently let the cat out of the bag early. Microsoft quickly told Polygon he was merely describing "potential scenarios."

More mundane details include the recommended connection speed (1.5Mbps), and the ability to sign in and install games from your friend's house to play them there. That's certainly convenient, but the one-hour check-in time might make it less welcoming.

Shacknews - Steve Watts
Steam announced a new "Family Sharing" feature today, and is accepting beta applications to test it. When it launches fully, close friends and family will be able to play one another's games, while still earning their own achievements and saving their individual progress through the cloud.
Shacknews - Steve Watts

Nintendo's eShop update this week packs a surprising strategy from the House of Mouse. Disney Infinity, the initial release from last year, is a free download for Wii U.

The announcement notes that a figure and base are needed to play, so presumably Disney hopes to sell more figures by offering the game itself up for free. Of course, players who haven't bought the game on another plaform would need to purchase a used base, since it's not sold separately. The sequel, Disney Infinity: Marvel Superheroes, is due on September 23.

Other notable releases on the eShop this week include Mega Man 6 for Wii U Virtual Console, the new game Life Force, and discounts on Abyss, Chasing Aurora, and Nano Assault Neo, among others.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Hearthsone "Curse of Naxxramas" has opened up its fifth and final wing, the Frostwyrm Lair. This one includes only two new bosses to defeat instead of the usual three, but they're among the most challenging so far. Heroic Mode makes them downright unfair, with absurd abilities that will make even seasoned veterans struggle. Here's how to fend off the two remaining bosses in Heroic Mode to earn your snazzy new Heroic Naxx card back.


(Auto) 0 mana destroys all enemies that aren't frozen

In the Normal mode, Sapphiron is a neat little combat puzzle revolving around card placement. As long as you carefully place your minions around the Frozen Champion, you can breeze your way around its Hero Ability. In Heroic, though, there is no convenient block of ice to hide behind. It's just you and a beast that wipes your side of the board every single time. On top of that, it has a very cost-efficient "Pure Cold" spell that deals 8 damage to you for only 5 mana.

This might seem to lend itself to a rush deck with heavy use of Charge abilities, but the high health means it's difficult to find a combination of Charge minions that can deal enough damage to finish it off. Instead, the best decks for the job are built around controlling Sapph's side of the board and chipping away at the health meter.

You can accomplish this any number of ways. A control Mage with heavy use of Freeze spells can work, but the use of Spectral Knights makes any spell-reliant deck a bit touch-and-go. A Hunter is the best way to go for a deck with mostly common cards. You can use traps like Freezing and Explosive to keep his minions at bay, and a Misdirect to force them to do damage to each other. Your Eaglehorn Bow will keep earning more durability as it triggers traps, and the Mad Scientist is a good way to get the secrets out for free. You can also make liberal use of cards that benefit you when they're killed, like the Nerubian Egg. Make sure you pack some Kill Commands too, for when a secret isn't handy.

Near the end you'll probably have run through your secrets and Kill Commands, and Sapphiron will have enough mana to summon lots of minions. At this point, break out your Timber Wolf and Unleash the Hounds combo for just 4 mana and hit Sapphiron in the face. If any of the opposing minions pose a fatal threat, hit it with a Hunter's Mark and use one of your dogs to kill it. If you have them, a finishing burst like Leeroy Jenkins or King Krush can be handy to finish the fight.


(Auto) 0 mana deals 3 damage and Freezes enemy hero 8 mana takes control of random enemy minion

If you've been itching for that sweet card back, it all comes down to this. Kel'Thuzad is one of the toughest bosses in all of Naxxramas, which is fitting enough given that he's been mocking you the whole time.

Like any good final RPG boss, he comes with in two phases. In the first phase, he'll automatically hit you for three damage every turn, with a freeze effect that will prevent you from using weapons. Once you break his armor, or anytime after turn 8, he'll cut off your turn immediately and summon two 5/5 minions with Taunt. At this point his Hero Ability switches to its second phase, in which he takes control of a random minion. All the while he'll be playing heavy-hitters, Deathrattle-powered Taunts, and Spectral Knights.

The constant 3 damage will mean you're on a ticking clock, so you'll want to pack some healing spells to mitigate the damage. You'll also need Taunts of your own to keep the enemy minions at bay. Paladin and Priest have the best healing abilities. Similar to Grobbulus from the Construct Quarter, your best bet is to use a Priest to buff a minion with Divine Spirits and Inner Fire. You can use a cheap Taunt minion like Deathlord or Mogu'shan Warden, or better yet, buff up your Stoneskin Gargoyle and grant him Taunt. Defender of Argus works if you want a little extra health, but Sunfury Protector is even better for the cheaper mana cost since the relatively small stat boost will be a moot point.

You'll also want a Lightwell to keep yourself healthy, and combined with a Northshire Cleric it can be invaluable to drawing the cards you need quickly. Just be sure to sacrifice the Cleric once the job is done, because otherwise you run the risk of reaching deep into your deck too fast and suffering Fatigue damage.

A good deal of this will rely on luck. You need to make sure you have the tools in place within the first few turns, or Kel'Thuzad will kill the minions before you can buff them and just generally make you suffer. If you don't have at least one of your tools out by turn three, you might want to concede and start over.

Once you've triggered the second phase, Kel'Thuzad will likely be pretty envious of your overpowered minion and try to steal it away. Make sure you always have a few other minions on the board so his randomized effect might hit a scrub instead. As long as you can get his health into the danger zone, you can finish him off with a spell like Holy Fire. It doesn't hurt to keep a Mind Control around too, just in case you need to steal your bruiser back. Alternately, you could keep a Silence around to undo the buffs you gave it, in case you can't get it back.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Infamous: Second Son (and the forthcoming First Light) developer Sucker Punch is going through a number of layoffs this week, reports IGN.

Sony confirmed the move in a statement, saying, "SCEA can confirm a reduction in workforce has taken place at Sucker Punch Productions. Sucker Punch is appreciative of the tremendous work team members contributed to the Infamous and Sly Cooper series, and wishes them the best in their next endeavors."

An exact number of layoffs wasn't given, but the layoffs are a bit of surprise considering the success of the studio, which Sony bought in 2011 after years with the platform exclusive Sly Cooper franchise and the introduction of the Infamous series. These kinds of reductions are all-too common in the industry after completing a project, however.

We certainly wish the staffers the best of luck in landing on their feet.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The folks at publisher Atlus came down to the newly-renovated Super Arcade in Walnut, CA to christen its overhaul with Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. In addition to showing the game off on-stream and allowing arcade denizens to try the game out, Atlus also debuted a brand new trailer.

The trailer starred P4AU's duo of DLC characters: Tohru Adachi and Marie, going into bits and pieces of each character's individual stories. And of course, the trailer featured plenty of their attacks, showing off their Persona-based Bursts along the way. Both characters are set to debut as DLC, but will be available for free for the first week of launch. Watch the embedded Twitch stream below for an early look at P4AU and watch for the trailers at the 1:09:40 mark.

Watch live video from leveluplive on Twitch

But that's not all! Earlier today, Atlus also released another trio of trailers for three of the game's other characters. The evil Sho Minazuki (without a Persona), the just-as-evil doppleganger Sho Minazuki (with a Persona), and the even more evil Shadow Labrys. You can catch those trailers below.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is set to arrive on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 30.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

Most of the time, video game ads get right to the point, showing footage from upcoming games or a cinematic that relates to the kind of stuff you can do in said game. However, that's not the case with Madden NFL 15.

With its latest commercial for the forthcoming football game, EA Sports went all out with ridiculousness, pitting comedian Kevin Hart against actor Dave Franco in a series of acts, ranging from slapping him silly to causing his girlfriend to leave to invading his office with cheerleaders. All in the name of Madden Season, of course.

The trailer gets even more ridiculous when NFL players start rapping a "Blah Blah Blah" song, a violin-playing bear appears on the surface of the pool, and Franco's house catching fire. Of course, with him responding, "LET IT BURN!"

Check out the ad below, and prepare for Madden madness when it arrives on August 26th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Blah blah blah, indeed.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Ye olde war 'tis about to commence anew! The two-person development team at Turtle Sandbox is officially ready to release Cannon Brawl, a little over a year after it was first released on Steam Early Access. The 2D action RTS is now poised to release on September 19.

Cannon Brawl sees two sides duke it out with various RTS-style units, like pilots, airships, and war machines. Different cannons and towers will wreak havoc on the opposing side, as each player scrambles to raise enough resources to demolish the opponent. The game features a full 20-mission campaign, as well as local and online multiplayer.

For more on Cannon Brawl, you can check out the trailer below, as well as a more-recent video detailing the game's transition to beta. Those that would rather not wait for the full release can pick up the game in its current state on Steam Early Access.

Shacknews - Robert Workman

NHL 15 is just weeks away from hitting the boards on both current and previous consoles, but if you're going after the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, you may notice a couple of things are missing.

EA Sports has confirmed that the popular Hockey League mode won't be present and accounted for in the new game, although Xbox 360 and PS3 owners will still be able to play it in full.    

When it came down to it, EA Sports producer Sean Ramjagsingh explained it was a quality issue. "As a franchise, we're 100 percent committed to the EA Sports Hockey League," he said, speaking on the EA Sports blog. "We're a franchise built on quality." That still doesn't quite explain why it's missing, but here's hoping we see it make a comeback next year.

Meanwhile, Online Team Play mode will also be missing once the game launches, but EA Sports intends to include that as a future update for it down the road, although a specific date wasn't given.

That leaves such modes as Play Now, Be a Pro, Be a GM, Online Versus, Hockey Ultimate Team and NHL Moments Live to be included in all versions of NHL 15. Will that be enough to make you buy the game, though?

NHL 15 releases on September 9th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.


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