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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

There's a lot to be excited for in 2013, and the Shacknews staff each have five games on their radar. The editorial team at Shacknews outlines their most anticipated games of 2013 individually. Next up, we've got cuss word expert Alice O'Connor's list of next year's titles.


Dota 2

I was keenly anticipating Dota 2 this time last year, and I still am. Yes, though you and I may have played hundreds of hours of Dota in the semi-public beta, it's not finished and out yet so on the list it goes. Valve still has 15 heroes to bring over from the original Warcraft III mod DotA Allstars, not to mention a tutorial to finish, general polish to apply, and other jazz. At the pace it's improving and expanding, a 2013 release looks likely.

As Dota 2 is already the best video game, having it complete and open to everyone will be jolly exciting. The pro scene, which is pretty great fun to follow, can only benefit too.

Oh, what is Dota 2? It's a multiplayer, team-based, objective-oriented, competitive, tactical action-RPG with 129 items, 94 characters, and 1 map, with each round lasting roughly 30 minutes to an hour. It's beautifully intricate, hugely rewarding, and so punishingly uninviting that I hesitate to recommend it to anyone. It is the best video game, though.


Sportsfriends

I'm not boasting, right, but I am pretty great at shoving. I really am not boasting, honest, but I've been remembered and recognised months later by strangers for how well I shove people, a reputation mostly earned for playing the amazing first-person shover Johann Sebastian Joust.

Joust is one of my absolute favourite games but has been one of those fabled 'indie event games' like Nidhogg, which most people only ever get to play a few times each year. It's finally getting a proper release next year in the Kickstarted collection Sportsfriends, which also includes crackers BaraBariBall, Super Pole Riders and Hokra. These are all wonderful. This is exciting.


Gone Home

I am some kind of monster, yet I cried when I first played an early version of Gone Home. Not tears of joy cheated out of me with sappy soaring orchestral strings and a melodramatic death, as video games so often attempt, no--tears of joy cried at a beautiful point in its story. That's uncommon.

Environmental storytelling is one of video game narratives' greatest tools, and Gone Home runs wild with it. The gang at Fullbright Company, who worked together at 2K on BioShock 2's fine DLC Minerva's Den, have crafted a sprawling family home where each room has purpose, and each item is placed in a practical and meaningful way. As we rummage in drawers, read diaries, scan VHS collections, and observe the careful placement of everyday objects, we come to know the family and uncover their mysteries.

The story is beautifully written, told and acted, and offers a slice of life far more terrifying than any alien invasion or undersea uprising: teenagehood. Tears rating: 7/10.


Proteus

Booze is all that can really revive flagging interest at the end of any day-long conference, so They say, but Proteus is more special than any amount of gin. Last year, Proteus creator Ed Key closed out an indie games conference in London that, lovely as it was, took place in a flipping freezing hall and its attendees had all woken up far too early. Rather than talk about his struggles and successes in developing the first-person explore 'em up, lead a rallying call for indie games, or rag on Big Video Games, he simply ran Proteus projected onto a screen and left a controller at the front.

People wandered aimlessly across bright landscapes, pausing to tease singing flowers, watch stars bubble, and chase frogs, and we all watched, rapt. Proteus is a lucid dream where we it never occurs to us to fly into space or hold hands with Tilda Swinton, because a stroll in the countryside is just so beautiful. My friend and I rested our heads together as the craving for mother's ruin drained out of us. Special stuff, that game.


Dragon Age 3

As the only game on this list I haven't already played of enough to know I adore, Dragon Age 3 is a bit of a shot in the dark. Basically, I would quite like to make a lady person, dress her up in pretty clothes then kill hundreds of men, monsters, or animals, and Dragon Age 3 seems like my best shot at this in 2013.

I'm not very good at being excited about games in advance based on the tiny details publishers decide to release, see. I'm jolly excited about all these games I've played because, you know, I know they're jolly exciting, but no marketing campaign has yet captured my imagination for 2013.

Sure, Dragon Age is a pleasant series and I honestly enjoyed 2 more than the original so it'll be nice to see how this all pans out. Chiefly, though, ladykills.

Shacknews - Kat Bailey

The biggest addition to Relic Entertainment's Company of Heroes 2 has to be winter. Braving the elements in a bone-chilling Russian winter will force players to approach online multiplayer in a new way.

"Tactical RTS is about being a smart commander and making smart decisions on the fly," communication manager Simon Watts told Shacknews at a recent multiplayer event. "If they're a great player, it shouldn't be just about having one build order. If a blizzard blows in, they should be ready to adapt to that. If they don't have a contingency, they aren't a great player. That's what strategy is all about."

Watts said winter effects make CoH2 a different type of game, and that playing between summer and winter will force different strategies. "You see that the match is winter, so you think, 'Alright, I was going to go heavy infantry, but maybe I'm going to go more mechanized.' Or vice versa. One blizzard could also be your savior because it forces an opponent to kind of hunker down and wait for it to end. We think that it could be something really exciting for the competitive game."

We'll have the full interview with Watts soon. Company of Heroes 2 is scheduled to come out in March for PC.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Happy 2013. Well, not yet, soon. Hopefully your holidays are all going well, filled with cheer and lots of eggnog, as you prepare to ring in the new year with games aplenty. The Shacknews staff is bustling away in preparation for a new round of awards, playing and re-playing noteworthy titles from the last year as our deliberations come to a close. Check out what we're playing, and tell us how you plan to celebrate a brand new year!

(Click any editor's name to visit their Twitter page. Follow Shacknews on Twitter for regular updates.)

  • Garnett Lee: Got to the part about six hours into Persona 4 Golden where all its systems are open. This is going to be awesome. So many variables to play with.

  • John Keefer: I’ve been spending a lot of time with FTL. I can definitely see why a lot of people have it on their Game of the Year lists. I’m also preparing to dive into Far Cry 3, and I still need to play Mass Effect 3 for our GotY selections. It will be a long, but busy weekend.

  • Andrew Yoon: What am I not playing? Like the rest of the Shack team, I’m trying to get through many of the games of 2012 that I’ve missed. On the top of the list: Halo 4.

  • Alice O'Connor: Now that I have returned home from visiting family, I shall play a spot of Dota 2 this weekend. It is a video game of which I am quite fond.

  • Jeff Mattas: This week, it's all about trying to finish up some games in time to decide on GotY. On that note, I'll be trying to wrap up Dishonored, Halo 4, and Darksiders 2. A copy of Guild Wars 2 also made it into my possession, so I'll be giving that a proper go this weekend as well. Happy New Year!

  • Steve Watts: I've been working my way through Borderlands 2's next bit of DLC, and toying with Retro City Rampage on my Vita. Plus I have an iPad in my future, so I'll be looking forward to trying some games out on a much larger screen than my phone. App recommendations are welcome.

  • Ozzie Mejia: I passed the Christmas holiday by watching dozens of people die horrible deaths in The Walking Dead, so maybe I'll ring in the new year with Dishonored and Halo 4.

  • Tyler J. Smith: 2013 is just about here, and with it comes a cavalcade of new titles. But for now, Assassin's Creed III looks to take up most of my free time. Somehow, I've managed to play through the entire Assassins saga in just under three months, even with a thirty-hour Far Cry 3 pit stop.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Vostok Games is going back to school in a new Survarium video dev diary to teach the history of the MMOFPS's Black Market faction. And to show off a school environment you'll get to scavenge. Oh! Dual meaning! That's right. Versatile things, words. The video also has a little to say about gun types and upgrades, and locational damage too.

"For example, if you get your arm wounded your shooting and gun control will be affected," project lead Ruslan Didenko explains. "If you get your leg shot, you can't move fast. In case you had bad luck and got both legs injured, you won't have much to do but sit in one place and shoot back. A headshot would still yield instant death."

"The damage of one body part does not at all mean instant character death," game designer Vasiliy Prorok adds. "There can be fractures, bleeding and so on."

Survarium is due to launch as free-to-play on PC "by the end of 2013." Come, watch, learn about the Black Market and the school's tragic history:

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Persona 3 is getting an official anime movie adaptation in 2013, and from the looks of it more will follow. The official site teases "Movie #1" in 2013, which implies that we can at least expect a second to come some time afterward.

The film's official site (via Siliconera) is sparse, but fans have already started speculating on what the other movies could mean. The story of Persona 3 is dense, and didn't have its own animated series like Persona 4, so it could be split into multiple films. Alternately, it could be offering similar movies with separate protagonists, similar to how P3 Portable had a selectable female hero.

This movie is planned for Japan, obviously, but Persona 4: The Animation is set to be released in North America early next year. A Persona 3 film would likely get a similar treatment.

Shacknews - Ryan Calavano

We continue the look ahead to 2013 with even more games, from The Last of Us, DmC: Devil May Cry, Beyond: Two Souls, Pikmin 3, Star Trek, Nuclear Union, Dead Space 3, and Marvel Super Heroes. And, the whole first season of The Walking Dead is currently available on XBLA for only 10 bucks. For Xbox 360 players, this is probably preferable to the notoriously buggy retail disc.

This is our final show of the year. We'll be back on January 2nd, 2013.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube. And, don't forget to subscribe to get the latest episodes as they go up.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

When the New World Order seizes power in 2013, all your old money will be useless, replaced with Citidollars. Pre-empt the blighters by blowing everything on downloadable PC games this weekends, with deals including XCOM: Enemy Unknown for $18, Just Cause 2 for $4, Hotline Miami for $5, both BioShocks for $5, Batman: Arkham City GotY for $9, Arma 2: Combined Ops for $13, Dark Souls for $18, and Borderlands 2 for $30.

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

GameFly

GameFly's end of the year sale includes:

Amazon

Amazon's festive sale includes:

Blizzard

GamersGate

GamersGate's huge festive sale includes:

Get Games

GOG

GOG's huge holiday sale has discounts on a bajillion games, and bigger savings in daily deals.

Friday:

Green Man Gaming

Get 30% off almost every game with the voucher code GMG30-DPLIM-DN831. This makes many video games cheap, including these, some of which come from the end-of-year sale:

Friday:

Weekend:

Humble Bundle

Pay what you want for The Binding of Isaac plus its expansion, Closure, Shank 2, and Snapshot. You also get Indie Game: The Movie and some soundtracks. Beat the average to get Legend of Grimrock, Dungeon Defenders, The Basement Collection, Offspring Fling and Cave Story+ too.

Impulse

Impulse's holiday sale includes:

Origin

EA's holiday sale includes:

Steam

Steam's colossal holiday sale includes daily deals, flash sales, discounts you can vote on, and a million games. Here, the daily deal highlights:

Ends Saturday:

Ends Sunday:

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Vblank's homage 'em up Retro City Rampage ploughed into PC, PlayStation 3 and Vita back in October, but the Xbox 360 edition has taken a while longer. Fear not, retronauts, as the taste of all things past will arrive on Xbox Live Arcade in the future, in the distant year of 2013, on January 2.

Vblank made the announcement today on Twitter, with a post which handily doubles up as an opportunity for you to win a free copy if you're a jerk to your followers and retweet it. According to Joystiq, the WiiWare version will also come later in January.

RCR will cost $15, though if you'd rather play on PC you can snap it up now in Steam's holiday sale for $9.99.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Last Story has quickly become the biggest game yet for its publisher, XSEED Games, which made its name on importing Japanese cult favorites. But it was a struggle to bring it to the west at all, since concerns about releasing a $50 RPG on a "dead platform" made some people, even inside the company, skeptical of its success.

"It was a constant fight even within our own organization," XSEED's Ken Berry told Kotaku. "To our external sales reps, we'd be saying, 'No, like you guys don't understand. There's tons of fans out there that are asking for this. There's a huge fan movement.' I mean, so yeah. In the end, I think we were right."

He says the fans "put their actions and their wallets where their mouths were" to the surprise of the marketing department.

It's a good thing they did, because even as a company known primarily for publishing niche titles, past failures come into play when deciding what to take on next. Berry said they take "flack from our fans" for not bringing over sequels to games like Retro Game Challenge or Half-Minute Hero, but those games sold poorly. Regarding Half-Minute Hero, the company's worst seller to date, Jess Chavez remarked: "Just imagine our hypothetical threshold and then cut that by five."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Blizzard is preparing 2013's first major patch to World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and has issued a change-log for players to pick over. While the patch includes the usual bug fixes and balance changes, the most striking additions come in the form of a brand new raid dungeon and a daily quest hub.

The notes detail the "Isle of the Thunder King" hub, which will let players unlock daily quests and special events, assault the Lei Shen stronghold, earn reputation rewards among the factions, and an unlock the "Lightning Forge." Both Alliance and Horde can participate in the new hub, and pick quests that are PvE- or PvP-focused.

Those seeking to put those new skills to good use will have a raid dungeon, the Throne of Thunder, with a dozen new raid encounters. If you defeat Lei Shen in Heroic Mode you can earn an additional raid to boot. It will also add two more world bosses, some new pets, and tweaks to the Pet Battles system.

Blizzard didn't mention an exact date for the patch, but says to watch for it in January.

...

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