Are you ready to rock? Because it's time to dust off those old plastic instruments for Rock Band 4, which is set to release tomorrow. But there's a time to rock and there's a time for action and this Friday marks the release of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection on PS4. Civilization: Beyond Earth will get its first expansion with Rising Tide. The Incredible Adventrues of Van Helsing will get three adventures in one with its Final Cut. Chibi-Robo stars in his next handheld adventure with Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash. And finally, VR enthusiasts may want to look into Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, a game Shacknews first looked at back at IndieCade last year and is now set to release on Steam this week. Check out the full list of releases below.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Batman: Arkham Knight
Back in April of this year, the Batman: Arkham Knight $40 season pass was announced. The season pass provide access to six month's worth of additional post-launch content including, but not limited to, new character skins, AR challenges, and story DLC. We are now approaching the fourth of those six months and so far, the content Rocksteady has delivered is mediocre at best. Now that we know what’s on deck for October, let’s how Rocksteady can right this listing ship.
The string of woefully underwhelming Arkham Knight DLC actually began on the same day as the game’s launch. Two different pre-order bonuses (one for all buyers, and the other for GameStop customers only) allowed players to control different characters: The iconic Harley Quinn and the ruthless vigilante Red Hood, in one-shot story episodes set before the events of the main game. While it was a fun treat to play as these new characters and their unique skills, the story episodes themselves were disappointingly short, averaging out at about 20-30 minutes of playtime apiece. Even worse, they also didn’t include any sort of collectibles or other optional side content, which meant virtually no replay value.
Things didn’t get much better during subsequent months. The highly anticipated Batgirl expansion, A Matter of Family, was initially used to hype up the season pass. It wound up being a slightly longer and slightly less linear version of the Red Hood/Harley Quinn episodes, and a fun side story for longtime fans, but certainly not worth all of the attention it received. Add in a few new AR challenges for Batman and company, some new costumes, and a pair of new racetrack packs that let players turn the Batmobile into some of its famous movie incarnations, and that’s about everything the season pass has covered so far. Not exactly a collection that screams value.
To be fair, there are still several parts of the season pass have yet to released, not counting the GCPD Lockdown story, which featuring Nightwing. New post-game stories star characters like Catwoman (Catwoman's Revenge) and will offer glimpses of what a post-Batman Gotham City looks like. Heck, they might even shed some light on the mysterious cliffhanger players were treated to in the game’s “true” ending.
Then there’s the equally mysterious “Season of Infamy” DLC, which will apparently involve brand new villains invading Gotham (rumors point to six villains: Killer Croc, Ra’s Al Ghul, Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, Prometheus, and Black Mask as potential villains). This is the DLC that many players have been eagerly waiting for, and it is likely the best hope Rocksteady has of redeeming itself in the eyes of disappointed season pass buyers. Of course, since Rocksteady has previously confirmed there are no plans to make non-Batman characters playable in free roam, it will be interesting to see just how exactly the Season of Infamy DLC is implemented.
Personally, I’m confident my $40 season pass purchase won’t feel like a waste. Sure, it’s a bummer that we , but when all is said and done, Arkham Knight will be a much more expansive and hopefully better game once all of its additional content is released. However, just because I’m looking forward to what Arkham Knight’s DLC will be, doesn't mean I’m not somewhat disappointed in what it is out now.
Sure, it’s nice that Rocksteady is implementing fan-requested features like AR challenges that star characters other than Batman, and even an upcoming character-select feature for the entire AR challenge mode. But imagine what else Rocksteady could be working on if it wasn’t busy adding in functionality which, honestly, should have been in the game from the start. Obviously I’m happy that I’ll soon be able to pick which character I play as in the AR challenges, but that happiness is somewhat tempered by the fact that it means I probably won’t ever get to see a Court of Owls or playable Deathstroke DLC.
As I said before, I have no doubt that Arkham Knight’s season pass will wind up being worth its $40 asking price once the six-month period has come and gone. Whatever irritation I feel towards Rocksteady for its seemingly blatant disregard of player expectations will surely fade in time, especially once I’m distracted by the upcoming season pass content.
It’s hard to say at this point how exactly Arkham Knight will be remembered, especially since it’s still in the process of “settling in,” what with the ongoing PC issues and the DLC that still has yet to be revealed, but the optimist in me says that the final result will have been worth all of the pain. It may not have gone as smoothly as both Rocksteady and fans would have liked, but Arkham Knight is, slowly but surely, becoming a fitting tribute to the end to the Arkham legacy, and that is something which I’m definitely happy about.
This weekend at Firaxicon, Shacknews spoke with XCOM 2 creative director Jake Solomon and art director Greg Foertsch. We already heard their insights on the new enemies, but they had much more to say regarding Firaxis' approach to mod support, their new procedurally-generated stages, and more.
Mods are one standout feature of XCOM 2, and one major reason it's a PC exclusive. The studio plans to release the Unreal editor it used to build the game, along with 50 GB of art and design assets. With the designers opening up so much of its work to the mod community, I wondered if it would follow suit if any downloadable content was released. While the team was careful to note it couldn't confirm any DLC coming, it did suggest it would be just as open in that eventuality.
"We would do it that way, if we could authenticate it," Solomon said. "You bought the DLC so you can use mods that use the DLC."
It's worth noting, though, that the question had stumped the team at first, with Solomon even saying he wasn't sure, so an authentication model could still have technical hurdles to overcome.
One new feature promises increased longevity even without DLC: procedurally-generated maps. They come as a direct response to feedback from Enemy Unknown, by frontloading a much more difficult technical task to give players more content longterm.
"The feedback from EU was 'I want more maps,' and it was like, well, we killed ourselves making this many hand-crafted maps, and we still didn't have enough," Foertsch said. "We had a really nice handcrafted feel and we didn't want to step backwards from that, but procedural presents the potential to step backwards from that. There are a lot of little rules under the hood but I feel like we've come away with something that feels a lot like what we had in EU, but in a more dynamic way."
Those procedural maps will be filled with enemies using its own algorithm, but Solomon noted that even that will evolve over the course of time.
"The way our system works it's basically based on calendar time," he said. "We try to distribute that fairly evenly, so we try not to repeat certain aliens. At a certain point there's this idea that aliens are leaders so you're going to see a Sectoid right at the beginning of the game and it's going to be really hard. But then, two months in you see a Muton with two Sectoid followers, so alright, now they're showing up in multiples behind a tougher alien in front."
And just as the player is trying to complete the game, the aliens are too. XCOM 2 introduces alien win conditions, which can go so far as to end the game with a loss. However, the human and alien win conditions aren't always mutually exclusive.
"The player has a win condition and the aliens have a win condition, and they're not at odds," Solomon said. "You can push forward towards victory and not pull the aliens back from theirs. It's a race, which doesn't mean the player doesn't have ways to say 'wait, they're getting way too far ahead, we've got to go after them.' There is that element to it, but there is definitely the sense of a race for the player. And the aliens have ways to pull you back as well."
XCOM 2 is set to deploy on February 6, 2016.
Valve has announced it has partnered with GameStop, GAME UK and EB Games to launch dedicated Steam Sections this fall across each retailer’s storefront.
The Steam Sections will feature Steam Hardware devices, like the Steam Controller, Steam Link, and Steam Machines, as well as a variety of Steam prepaid cards. Steam prepaid cards launched across various retailers three years ago, and Valve revealed sales performance for them have increased each year.
"GameStop, GAME UK, and EB Games are leading retail destinations for core gamers and early adopters," Valve’s Gabe Newell said in a statement released today. "Creating a 'store within a store' across North America and the UK is a significant win for getting the first generation of Steam Hardware products into gamers' hands."
With the upcoming release of Steam Machines, like the one coming from Alienware, we expect there to be a huge increase in PC gamers this holiday season. Valve continues to prepare its Steam Big Picture mode with new updates, which we’ve found to be great improvements over the older UI.
To learn more about both the Steam Controller and Alienware’s Steam Machine, check out our hands-on from this year’s E3.
October does indeed sound like the month of the plastic instrument. Guitar Hero Live is set to release in just a few weeks, so Activision is taking these last few days to get the word out about its upcoming series revival. There are still some ideas about the game that need to be communicated to the general public, so Activision has turned on the James Franco signal for its latest trailer.
The latest Guitar Hero Live trailer illustrates one of its most distinct new features, that being the complete removal of fail states. Watch as James Franco and music icon Lenny Kravitz completely crash and burn as they try to keep up with the intense note highway, only to eventually turn things around and make a comeback at the end. Although, table dancing and couch jumping are not necessary (or recommended) actions.
Catch the full trailer below. Guitar Hero Live is set to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and mobile devices on October 20. An Apple TV version of the game is also coming soon.
Ubisoft announced it has acquired Ivory Tower, the development studio behind The Crew.
Ivory Tower has a total of 100 employees and will continue to support The Crew for the time being. With The Crew Wild Run releasing in November, we’re sure the studio has its hands full at the moment with the expansion.
In today’s announcement, Ubisoft has revealed over 3 million people have played The Crew to date, which would explain why the publisher would want to acquire Ivory Towers.
The Crew didn’t exactly wow us when it released last year, although we did enjoy its ability to let us roam across the US as well as its Spec and Car Level systems. We’re hoping the upcoming release of The Crew Wild Run will take an already great idea and improve it across a number of ways.
Over the summer months, developer Lab Zero Games announced its next project. The Skullgirls creator would take a step back from fighting games and put its artistic talents towards an action-RPG. Indivisible is a long way from completion, but those curious about how the game currently looks have an opportunity to check it out today.
Publisher 505 Games has released a working prototype for Indivisible, offering a proof of concept the game's crowdfunding efforts. Indivisible follows a girl name Ajna, who has developed mysterious powers. She ventures across the world to learn the origins of her abilities, picking up a party of heroes along the way and taking on powerful enemies. The hand-drawn Skullgirls art style is on full display, set against a soundtrack from Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kiruta.
Atlus has announced Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final is being developed for the Nintendo 3DS.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final will be a completely new game in the legendary Shin Megami Tensei series which will feature deicide, or the killing of a god, as its main theme, according to Famitsu.
It’s unclear at this point how this fame will relate to Shin Megami Tensei IV, but we’re expecting to hear more information regarding the game next week.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final is scheduled to be released in Japan on February 10, 2016.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition will be releasing on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on October 27, Larian Studios and Focus Home Interactive announced today.
The Enhanced Edition will feature both online and split-screen co-op, fully-voiced and remastered dialogue, new quests, combat styles, and changes to both its storyline and crafting system. The game will also include a new intuitive user-interface that’s been designed specifically for controllers.
Those who own Divinity: Original Sin on PC will be able to receive the Enhanced Edition for free in their Steam library. Just remember that previous save games won’t be transferrable to the updated version.
Focus Home Interactive recently released a trailer highlighting co-op mode, which you can check out for yourself below.
It's been years since the original plastic instrument era ended. Eventually, the games stopped coming and the DLC releases soon followed. Fast-forward to 2015, where Harmonix wasn't quite ready to hang up its instruments. And just months later, the comeback tour has begun with Rock Band 4.
The first thing to note about Rock Band 4 is that it goes back to the basic idea of just getting together with friends and having fun. In its later days, the series was more wrapped up with overly complicated mechanics or trying to create pro musicians. That's all well and good, but what made Rock Band so enjoyable was its pick-up-and-play element. That atmosphere returns fully intact, right down to the ability to drop in and out in mid-song.
On that note, one of the newest mechanics involves freestyle solos on guitar. On the surface, this looks fairly intimidating, since it introduces several new patterns to recognize. Fortunately, the game starts off with a detailed tutorial and it is highly recommended to guitar players of all skill levels. The tutorial explains the new system succinctly and in a straightforward manner, making it not only easy to pick up but also spelling it out in such a way that it's easy to communicate to a friend.
The one downside of freestyle solos is that it can be disruptive to score chasers. While solos encourage all-out freedom, the game does penalize users by breaking any streak for not following the freestyle patterns. To Rock Band 4's credit, however, this change is not forced on users at all. In fact, this feature can simply be turned off in favor of the old note-tracked solos.
Part of the joy of the previous Rock Band games was discovering new music, but even after a while, it was easy to just settle back into a pattern of just playing a handful of the same songs. Rock Band 4's new Shows mode changes the formula to include a degree of randomness. Players can start with a song selection of their choice, but as a show goes on, band members will be prompted to select from a multiple choice list of categories. They can include a song from a particular year, band, genre, or other random choices. After a selection is made, the game will pull up a random song from that category. It's a good way to throw more songs into a playlist and give bands a chance to discover music they might not have heard before.
Shows are also integrated into the standard Rock Band Tour mode, offering up the same voting system upon hitting various tour spots. The Tour mode also throws in another wrinkle, encouraging bands to change up their initial choices by taking fan requests. The option to walk away is also present, but the crowd will occasionally demand encores, offering up a chance to earn fans or cash good towards instruments or clothes. It's a fun way to mix up the old formula and keep sessions feeling fresh.
Part of what's making Rock Band 4 such an appealing option for those that own previous games in the series is its support of legacy DLC. Unfortunately, the rollout of previous songs hasn't gone smoothly at all. As noted late last week, the process of recovering old songs is a cumbersome one, requiring users to access the first-party digital stores to download each track one at a time. There are some major issues to be found here, since there's no easy way to organize song searches or sort out which tracks have already been downloaded. While that's mainly a first-party issue, it doesn't help that the in-game shop isn't prepared to make this process easier, only pointing players to bundles that can't be re-downloaded, since old tracks must be pulled up individually. Worse yet, certain songs, even when already purchased for previous-generation Rock Band games, are still showing up as full priced items. This is something that is expected to be sorted out over time, but there's no ignoring that it is a huge launch day issue.
This also puts the kibosh on exporting on-disc tracks from previous Rock Band games to Rock Band 4 for the time being, but that's another conversation entirely.
So how about the DLC tracks that do work? Those actually do go a long way towards helping enhance the overall experience and fit into the interfaces seamlessly. All DLC tracks get integrated into the Shows and the voting system, offering immense variety. Other new mechanics, like the freestyle guitar and vocal solos, are also integrated into these old songs. As much fun as it was to play freestyle on an on-disc track like The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love," these solos have been implemented brilliantly into older tracks like The White Stripes' "Icky Thump."
Like any band's reunion tour, it's easy to get caught up in nostalgia. But Rock Band 4 proves to be far more than that. It's a return to form, putting the focus back on four-player fun without any overly-complicated mechanics. The new additions all focus on just letting loose and having a good time and even those mechanical additions aren't forced. The DLC situation is something of a mess, but those willing to bear through it will have a sure-fire party gem on their hands.
This review is based on an Xbox One retail copy provided by the publisher. Instrument hardware was also provided by the publisher. Rock Band 4 will be available in retail stores, the Xbox Store, and PlayStation Store on October 6 for $59.99. The game is rated T.