Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Halo 4's multiplayer side is wrapped up in an "experience" set about the starship UNSC Infinity, Microsoft revealed today, also announcing the FPS's $100 Limited Edition. Yes, only the Limited Edition, as there will be no Legendary Edition this time. Sorry, helmet fans.

Microsoft says that 'Halo Infinity Multiplayer' will have you "surrounded by the sights, sounds and crew of the biggest vessel in the UNSC fleet," with multiplayer "embedded in the fiction of Halo like never before." The story-based Spartan Ops mode ties into this, delivering missions for singleplayer or co-op that overlap with the campaign.

Microsoft also talks up adding loads of new modes, armour abilities, weapons, and vehicles to multiplayer, and a 'Specialisation' system which sounds a bit like perks in the Call of Duty series.

But enough of that, what's in Halo 4's Limited Edition? Packed into a very nice box is the UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet, with blueprints and schematics, but most of the goodies are digital.

Your $100 gets you access to three DLC multiplayer map packs, each with three maps, plus instant unlocks of six specialisations before regular players get them. To decorate yourself in-game, there are unique in-game assault rifle and Spartan-IV armour skins, and a unique emblem. To adorn your Xbox Live Avatar, you get a Halo-y prop and Spartan-IV armour set. Then there's also an extended 90-minute cut of the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn live-action series, and exclusive videos about making the game and whatnot.

Halo 4 is headed exclusively to Xbox 360 on November 6. Here's that shiny LE box:

Shacknews - John Keefer

The road to hell is gradually getting more difficult. In the first installment of my monk's Diablo III diary, Darkartiste may have gotten a bit cocky as early enemies were relatively easy. Exploring and killing were entertaining, but the norm.

Then it happened. I died. I sprung a trap in the crypts below the cemetery while searching for the crown of the Skeleton King Leoric. My monk seemed so powerful with his Deadly Reach and Lashing Tail Kick, able to dispatch as many as 16 enemies in a single fight. But even powerful characters get overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and in this case, lousy tactics (hint: don't fight in the middle of the room). When I revived at my last checkpoint, I was better able to handle the waves of skeletons from a corner.

That was a few levels ago, and as of this writing, I am level 10 and deeper into the Cathedral. I have unlocked my first passive skill and my first two runes for my primary and secondary abilities. I have also unlocked my first technique, Dashing Strike, which allows me to rush headlong in the enemy to damage and root him. While I can change to a new secondary ability now (Tempest Rush), I have yet to use it as I am finding that Dashing Strike seems to offer a bit more benefit, while allowing me to keep the incredibly fun Lashing Tail Kick bound to my right mouse button.

So far the game has been explore and kill, break barrels and overturn corpses for loot, and occasionally kill the wandering random rare monster for random magical loot. The are obviously plenty of monsters to kill, as my kill count is more than 1,600. There was one room I entered that I thought was empty, when suddenly at least 10 skeletons crawled through the windows in the room. Nice touch.

The game is peppered with tomes and writings that are read to me as I continue to play, offering some nice back story on the monsters or events of the game. I also found my first follower, a Templar, who requested help in finding his gear, before offering to join me. Being a solitary soul, I declined, but I still see him in New Tristram, waiting for me to change my mind.

I find that I also need to keep reminding myself to get to a checkpoint so that my progress will be saved. A few times I have logged out and all of my exploration maps are wiped clean, including dungeon entrances and accesses to the next dungeon level. It's not that big of a problem, since I get to kill more monsters for experience and grab more loot, but it does tend to slow down the progress a bit.

An interesting part of the game has also opened up with crafting. After discovering that the blacksmith's assistant had come to a rather gruesome end, he opened up his shop to me offering me the chance to make my own armor and weapons. It also allowed me to break down all of the magical items I had been keeping in my stash (Diablo III's version of a bank) into components for new items. Training is rather expensive at 2,000 gold a pop, but each training opens up more items I can make. I have crafted a new tunic for myself, but not everything I craft is worth using. Recipes imbue items with random stats and while I can wear those exquisite looking gloves I made (picture above), Intelligence is a useless stat for me. Sadly, I've made gloves with intelligence three times now. The good news is that I have found some nice magical gear and am finally magically delicious in each armor and weapon slot available for my level.

The good news is the server issues from launch day have not been a factor since. I also have not run into the achievements problem or the ERROR 3003 connectivity trouble.

Tune in tomorrow for another installment when I can report on my battle that concludes Act I. I also plan to check out the in-game auction house to see how unreasonable prices are.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Dragon Age: Origins was a beloved throwback to classic PC RPGs, and fans rallied around it. Dragon Age 2, not so much. Many fans felt the game had changed too much. So as BioWare prepares for Dragon Age 3, it's soliciting feedback from its vocal audience.

A post on the BioWare Blog says the team is going to be asking a series of questions about what fans would like to see from the series. "Consider this a conversation between fans, the community team, and the developers," it reads. "Everyone at BioWare is incredibly excited about the future of the franchise but we're interested in what you have to say." Questions will be posted monthly, and fans will have a week to reply. The post states this feedback will be used for the universe as a whole, so that could include things like novels or animated features.

The first question, which starts today, is very lore-based: "What kinds of things would you like to discover and learn about the Dragon Age world?"

"However, it's worth reminding that we're not making promises, we're talking about ideas," the blog states. "We won't guarantee that things we discuss will materialize and we’re not showing anything until we're ready."

We don't know much about a potential Dragon Age 3, but BioWare did cancel a Dragon Age 2 expansion to explore "other opportunities." At PAX East 2012, BioWare hinted at more open spaces (without repeated assets) and bringing back full equipment options for party members.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You may, this very day, start downloading a Steam game on your computer at home by loading up your web browser at work, to have it ready to go when you arrive back home. Valve introduced remote downloads in a beta build earlier this month, but the feature was officially patched into the regular Steam client yesterday.

To download a game remotely, simply log into the Steam Community site in your browser and poke around your games library. The PC you're downloading to needs to be turned on and online, obviously, and you need to be logged into Steam Friends too. One imagines this will be added to the Steam mobile app soon too.

Yesterday's patch also added support for redeeming the newly-launched Steam Wallet gift cards, and a smattering of fixes.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The dreams of every hardcore Jagged Alliance fan have come true, with the launch of new Jagged Alliance: Back in Action downloadable content based upon the tie-in novel 'Shades of Red.' For people who merely enjoy the turn-based tactics game, hey, more JA!

The DLC adds one single new mission based upon I.M. Wong's book, which was included with the German Special Edition. In it, the excellently-named Ivan Dolvic, Kyle 'Shadow' Simmons and Cynthia 'Fox' Guzzman are off to stop a naughty terrorist from nuking the world's leaders. But wait, surprise twist! Fox is captured before the mission starts, so you'll have to free her first before stopping the bad men using your bullets. Ah, techno-thrillers!

For $4.99, Shades of Red will give you an estimated hour of extra playtime. It's available now from your friendly neighbourhood digital distributor.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The promised Mac edition of Dear Esther launched yesterday, accompanied by a hearty 50% discount bringing the celebrated indie explore-a-story down to only $4.99. Those curious about why it's so divisive would do well to pick it up at that price.

Dear Esther won an IGF 2012 award for Excellence In Visual Art and has been lauded by many, but others have deemed it boring, pretentious, or not even a game. To see what you make of it, head on over to Steam for the sale.

Developer thechineseroom is now working with Frictional Games on Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Their combine powers should produce something truly horrific.

Demonstrating how strange and wonderful PC gaming is, Steam's top sales chart is currently topped by Dear Esther and Arma II Combined Operations, thanks respectively to this sale and the sensational Day Z mod. Happy days.

Shacknews - Tyler J. Smith

Shacknews receives a slew of new screenshots and trailers for upcoming games everyday. The most anticipated titles receive their own post, because we know you're eager to see that content. For the rest, we have the Daily Filter, a place to feature all of the media we add to our enormous database on a daily basis.

Today's Filter features a launch trailer for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, a Sniper Challenge launch trailer for Hitman: Absolution, and much more!

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier


Hitman: Absolution


We also have an assault rifles trailer for Max Payne 3, a launch trailer for PixelJunk 4am, a multiplayer trailer for Heroes of Ruin, a developer diary for World of Warplanes, a live-action trailer for Disney Princess: My Fairytale Adventure, a beta 3 preview for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, a DLC trailer for Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, and new screenshots for Battleship, Rainbow Moon, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. Be sure to check out additional trailers and screenshots on each game page!

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

The hardcore military simulation ArmA 2 has seen its sales spike to five times the norm, thanks to the recently-released mod called Day Z. Why such a big jump in sales? Well, it seems that as much as folks like realistic military shooters, throwing zombies into the mix--at least according to developer Bohemia Interactive's Marek Spanel--"creates an experience so addictive that I believe it can stand as a gaming experience on its own."

"There's no doubt that the thrilling Day Z mod currently drives Arma 2 Combined Operations sales on Steam," Spanel told Kotaku in a recent interview. "Sales have increased almost fivefold from how they were before Day Z's Alpha release!"

Bohemia Interactive will also be supporting Day Z in the next ArmA 2 update, something that the creator of the mod (known as Rocket) is sure to appreciate. "We're more than happy to assist DayZ in any suitable way and considering the mod's popularity we are committed to do some related work in the next Arma 2 update (1.61)," Spanel said. When asked about the extent of the support the developer would provide he noted that the zombie mod is still in a relatively early state. "DayZ was released just a few weeks ago as a tech demo/proof of concept and it's still at Alpha status so until we know where the project intends to go it's hard to commit to anything specifically," he said.

With ArmA 3 already in the works, Spanel was also asked if Day Z would also be playable using the new game's engine. Though it's certainly a strong possibility, he estimates that Day Z support in ArmA 3 could be "one year or more from now." "There are many aspects involved, for example the environment and different assets in Arma 3, new engine features etc.," he said. "It's important to understand that there is still a long way to go even after Arma 3 is out until mods are properly configured, ported and matured onto the new platform."

Those interested in the mod can get more details (and download the alpha test) from the official Day Z website. Just remember, you'll need a copy of ArmA 2 to play.

Shacknews - John Keefer

With the Covenant out of the picture for Halo 4, a new enemy is coming, and thanks to the quick work of a forum poster at NeoGAF, fans now have the cover of the next chapter in the saga of Master Chief and Cortana.

Xbox Live members received an email from Microsoft offering "a piece of the Halo 4 puzzle." NeoGAF member spawn031 took the 32 pieces and assembled them into the expected box art for the first game for 343 Industries. The image offers another hint as to what the Spartan team may be up against when the game is released on Nov. 6.

McFarlane Toys let slip two new figures coming in its Halo series, the Watcher and Crawler. Could it be the Flood has returned? It is an "ancient evil" promised in the story line. We'll probably know more after we see the game at E3.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

Top stories for today's episode of Shacknews Daily include the announcement of FIFA 13, which will sport an improved career mode, and the announcement that Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be getting some DLC in the near future--including the final battle that probably should have been included in the first place. Diablo III also officially launched last night at midnight, but server issues prevented many from successfully logging in.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

You can also catch today's episode on YouTube.

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