Shacknews - Steve Watts

E3 is a time for new game announcements and debuting sequels--whether gamers want them or not. Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a follow-up to the critically panned Naughty Bear. Unlike its predecessor, the follow-up will come to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.

As the name implies, this title takes place on the exotic Paradise Island, where Naughty Bear sets out to brutalize bears that have wronged him yet again. The announcement promises a new combat system, the ability to level up, equipment customization, and 30 missions set across 11 areas.

"Following the success of our first outing with Naughty Bear, we really wanted to push the limits and give players a lot more freedom to be as naughty as they can and help Naughty Bear get revenge on the other bears who have been so mean to him," said 505 Games' Victoria Reeve, Senior Global Brand Manager, 505 Games. "With the first Naughty Bear game audiences responded well to the juxtaposition of cuddly innocence, with dark humor and over the top violence. We're really looking forward to seeing what they make of all the great new features we’ve packed into Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise."

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

The word "free" doesn't usually come into mind when thinking about Activision's wildly successful Call of Duty series. However, the publisher is throwing fans a bone with "Face Off," a new free mode for Modern Warfare 3. Originally available on Xbox 360 two weeks ago, Face Off and two maps will be making an appearance on PS3 next month.

Face Off features maps that have been created specifically for 1v1 and 2v2 battles. According to a tweet by Infinity Ward, the mode will be made free for all PS3 players on June 15th. Two maps will be included: Aground (above) and Erosion (below).

Two additional Face Off maps will be available for Call of Duty Elite members and purchasers of Content Collection #2. PS3 release dates have not yet been offered.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Aliens: Colonial Marines was recently delayed until Feb. 12, 2013, but to get over your disappointment, you can check out all the extra goodies in the just-announced Collector's Edition.

The $100 CE offers a laundry list of bonuses, highlighted by a "resin powerloader figurine in a Limited Edition Xeno Hive box."

Also included are in-game perks such as four playable characters from the movie (Private Hudson, Corporal Hicks, Private Drake and Sergeant Apone), three new weapons (including Ripley's flamethrower), customization options, and a special game level accessing the USCM Academy firing range.

If you don't want to pay the extra cash for the CE, GameStop pre-orders will include much of the same stuff. You'll get the four playable movie characters, customization options, and Ripley's flamethrower.

Shacknews - John Keefer

After a recessed hearing yesterday that allowed the parties to try to resolve their differences, a settlement has been reached in the case involving Activision, Infinity Ward co-founders Jason West and Vincent Zampella, and 40 ex-Call of Duty developers from Infinity Ward.

The settlement details are confidential, an attorney for West and Zampella told The Verge today. While West and Zampella wouldn't offer comment, The Verge's Michael McWhertor told Twitter that there was a "beaming smile" on West's face.

A statement released by Activision tried to allay any financial analysts' concerns, saying the one-time charges related to the settlement shouldn't impact the company's earnings outlook for the current quarter or the calendar year, citing "stronger-than-expected operating performance in the current quarter."

The deal brings a close to the contentious case, which started almost two years ago. The trial was scheduled to begin tomorrow, with billions of dollars at stake. Shacknews will stay on top of the story and add more details as they become available.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

You may be a hundred hours deep into Skyrim, but there's reason to come back. Bethesda has finally revealed what Dawnguard, the game's first DLC, is all about. And yes, there are vampires. Then, the new Humble Bundle is far from humble, featuring an incredible selection of games. It's $110 worth of games for a price you can name. Finally, even more pre-E3 game announcements today, including Gears of War and Injustice.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

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

Shacknews - Steve Watts

DICE has detailed a large upcoming patch to Battlefield 3, set to hit right in the midst of E3 festivities. It's scheduled to hit all three platforms on June 4, the same day as Battlefield 3 Premium. As usual, the patch will make a few key adjustments among a multitude of smaller changes. The biggest changes are a fix to an overpowered M26 loadout, slightly reduce suppression, icons for servers running custom games, and colorblind support for console players.

One of the main complaints fans had against rented servers were the custom rules implemented by its operators. Some servers would have tickets set to max, leading to "marathon games." DICE is addressing the situation by adding a § symbol in the server browser. That symbol will indicate the server is running custom rules. "Note that this can still be either a Ranked or Unranked server, as some rule changes will turn a server Unranked, while some (such as ticket counts) do not affect the server’s Ranked status," DICE notes. Oddly, use of the symbol is not mandatory, and those running custom servers will be able to opt not to display it.

No more marathon battles?

Other tweaks listed on the Battlefield Blog include improved VTOL performance, and various changes to other vehicles, gadgets, and more. It's a large-scale update, so you're almost certain to find something you love and something you hate about it.

DICE doesn't list a fix to the FAMAS bug in its patch notes, but has claimed that's coming soon. It will probably be issued as a separate patch, as we can't imagine the studio would wait until a big July update to fix the problem.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Author John L. Beiswenger had sued Ubisoft, claiming its popular Assassin's Creed franchise had too many similarities to his 2002 novel, Link. Both share chair-shaped devices that allow characters to relive memories of ancestors. Two days ago, Beiswenger backed away from the case, with the option of revisiting it later.

Ubisoft isn't sitting idly by, however. Instead, it's asking the court to declare the author's original suit as "without merit" to eliminate the chance the case is reopened.

The French publisher filed its own complaint against Beiswenger, asking the court to declare once and for all that the author's case was frivolous, according to court documents obtained by Gamasutra. Ubisoft said in its complaint that a declaration by the court would allow it to continue with its work on the Assassin's Creed franchise "free from the cloud that Beiswenger's meritless claims have placed over Ubisoft's right to do so." The company also wants the author to pay all costs and legal fees associated with the case.

Beiswenger previously settled a similar claim out of court on May 18 against GameTrailers, with terms undisclosed. The suit was based on footage of Assassin's Creed Revelations shown on an episode of GTTV.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Battlefield 3's "Premium" service is a real thing, EA has finally confirmed. The publisher promises additional information on June 4th, which coincides with their E3 press conference. June 4th is also the rumored release date for "Premium," which suggests the company plans on announcing and releasing the add-on at the same time.

The $50 "Premium" bundle should include access to all five expansion packs for Battlefield 3, including Back to Karkand, Close Quarters, and End Game. "Combined, the Battlefield 3 expansion packs include 20 maps, 20 new weapons, 10+ new vehicles, 4 new game modes, 30+ assignments, and 20+ dog tags," a leaked fact sheet revealed.

In addition, "Premium" users will get two weeks early access to add-on content, mirroring the release schedule of Call of Duty Elite. Additionally, "Premium" members also get "server queue priority"--a dicey proposition, given the criticisms surrounding the lack of official servers.

While many will likely balk at its price, Battlefield Premium does represent a savings over buying all the DLC separately. (Four expansion packs would cost $60, versus $50 for Premium.) Call of Duty Elite also offered similar savings, and it garnered two million paid subscribers.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Update: Added additional comment from Meer regarding DLC recording sessions.

The ending of Mass Effect 3 surprised many people, including the actor who played the male voice of Commander Shepard, Canadian actor Mark Meer. He has been working with BioWare since the inception of the Mass Effect franchise, giving vocal life to the many choices Shepard has faced throughout the trilogy. But even Meer didn't expect Mass Effect 3's controversial ending.

"As an actor, it's pretty much my job to help bring the vision of the writers to life," he said in an interview with Shacknews. "It wasn't necessarily what I expected, but then again, I didn't know what to expect."

Mark Meer

"It wasn't really my job to figure out where the story should go," he told us. "I didn't personally object to the ending, but Bioware's certainly aware of those who did, and the purpose of the upcoming Extended Cut DLC is to address some of the fans' concerns and desires for clarification."

Meer is reprising his role for the upcoming expansion, but due to an NDA, he can't reveal anything about the expanded ending. "If I break my N.D.A. to talk about E.C. D.L.C., I might be arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D.," he joked. He did add: "Actually, I have had a couple of DLC recording sessions thus far - one was done while I was in England for the most recent London Improvathon. Luckily, I did my recording BEFORE I stayed awake performing for 50 straight hours... Shepard might have sounded more like a Vorcha."

Although Meer has been with the franchise every step of the way, he has yet to play Mass Effect 3 and experience its original ending from a player's perspective. "I'm still waiting for a chance to sit down with the third game," he told us, after telling us he's played both ME1 and 2 on Paragon and Renegade playthroughs. "I tend to like at least an 8- to 12-hour window of free time for playing RPGs, and those have NOT been common lately. Soon, I hope."

Shacknews - Steve Watts

An odd bug has popped up in Battlefield 3, and it only seems to impact players in a very particular way. Players who use the FAMAS weapon run the risk of making stats and experience go unrecognized by the game. As a result, DICE is advising players to avoid using the weapon for the time being.

"In any game where the FAMAS is used there is a chance that player stats and experience will not be recognized after the game," DICE warns.

"We are aware that some players are experiencing a problem where their in-game stats and experience are not being recognized towards their progression on Battlelog or in-game," reads a post on the game's Facebook page. "We are temporarily recommending that players avoid using the FAMAS and spread the word to fellow players to avoid the problems this error can cause."

Some of the comments claim that their stats went untracked even without using the FAMAS, and the announcement sounds as if anyone in the game using the weapon can potentially ruin it for everyone. DICE expects to have the problem fixed soon, but in the meantime it sounds like one heck of a tool for griefers.