Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Looks like the cat got out of the bag a bit early. CD Projekt Red was due to announce a new game today, largely believed to be a sequel to our 2011 Game of the Year. The newly-released digital issue of Game Informer has revealed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. As expected, it represents the series' move into the next generation.

According to the magazine, the upcoming sequel will be a "truly open world," with a world that is supposedly larger than the one featured in Skyrim. The new adventure will run on REDengine 3 and will be coming out on "all top-of-the-line" consoles, meaning this will likely make an appearance on both the next PlayStation and the next Xbox systems.

More details are sure to be revealed tomorrow, when the game is officially announced.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Arma 3 was chiefly set on the real-world Greek Island of Lemnos, but developer Bohemia Interactive was somewhat soured on the place after two members were jailed on suspected espionage charges whilst holidaying there. Bohemia has now renamed the island Altis in-game, partially to reflect that they have fiddled with the location a bit but also because, well, you wouldn't want to revisit it after that unpleasantness, would you?

"In view of recent events, the team no longer feels passionate about using the previous name, 'Limnos', and hopes that the new identity, 'Altis', will help emphasize the fictional nature of the game," Bohemia said in the announcement. The nearby island of Stratis, where nobody was arrested on curious charges, will still keep its real-world name.

The jailed Bohemians were released on bail in January after 129 days of imprisonment.

"As part of the creative process, our virtual environments are often rooted in real-life locations and, during development, they evolve and grow along with our design," project lead Joris-Jan van 't Land added. "The resulting fictional environment is often close to its inspiration, but it's never exactly the same - nor would we want it to be. For us, 'Altis' echoes the Mediterranean heart of our island, but differentiates it from any undesired real-life connotations."

Bohemia promises more details on Arma 3's delayed release "later this month." Bohemia is also working on Arma Tactics, a mobile game which may come to PC later.

Shacknews - Ryan Calavano

First up, The Last of Us is a refreshing retread against modern gaming conventions. While it may have the same presentation and mechanics of Naughty Dog's Uncharted games, the tone is completely different. You won't be making daring leaps of faith, nor will you be hiding behind cover, waiting for your health to regenerate. Heck, you'll barely use your gun unless you're fully aware of your surroundings. Playing it like Uncharted will--as various journalists and myself discovered--undoubtedly result in your death. Next, Double Fine let fans see the madness of their annual Amnesia Fortnight game jam session. Over two weeks, the developer creates new prototypes. And this year, the public was able to vote on which ideas should be worked on--and eventually got to play them all too. If you missed the Humble Bundle, or if you want a fancy boxed edition, Double Fine has announced a "Special Edition" box set of last year's wares. Finally, this week's game releases include Dead Space 3, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, and, you know, this and that.

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

Echoing very similar timing last year, Activision has registered four new Skylanders-related domain names. None of the projects have been detailed, but if it's anything like the reveal of Skylanders Giants, we should see more details soon as we approach the New York Toy Fair.

Fusible (via Joystiq) reports that the domains include Skylanders Kaos Alliance, Nano Force, Super Force, and Swap Force. Kaos is the inept, slapstick villain in the Skylander series.

Last year, we learned about Skylanders Giants in late January, which laid the groundwork for an official announcement just before the Toy Fair. This year, the same event is coming up next week, so we may hear something official on these Skylanders projects soon.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Sony has officially ended its agreement with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale developer SuperBot Entertainment, putting the future of both the studio and game in question. This comes just a week after the developer was hit with layoffs.

"Sony Computer Entertainment can confirm that the working agreement with developer SuperBot Entertainment has amicably ended," a Sony spokesperson told Kotaku. "We have had a positive working relationship with this talented studio, and wish them the best of success in their next endeavor. PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale and the title's forthcoming DLC releases will continue to be fully supported by Santa Monica Studio."

SuperBot responded in kind with its own statement. "SuperBot Entertainment can confirm that the relationship with SCEA has ended on good terms," it read. "We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work on with Sony on PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and are extremely proud of the work we have done. SuperBot Entertainment will continue working on projects that reflect our passion for games and our commitment to creating award winning titles. We are very excited about beginning the next chapter of our future and invite all of our fans and supporters to follow our journey."

Shacknews has reached out to both Sony and SuperBot for further statements, and will update as more information becomes available.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Worms has now officially launched on Facebook, offering the classic PC gameplay with some social and free-to-play hooks added in for good measure. The game boasts daily rewards, tasks and weekly challenges, online leaderboards, and customization options like 40 different hats and an island home for your Worms.

It only features two environments (Medieval and Hawaii) and 19 weapons for the time being, but that's likely to change since it's an online platform. In case it's your first time, the game offers a tutorial. Once you're ready, you can battle friends or strangers. Of course, being a free-to-play game, it also has purchases in the form of coin and credit packs. Check it out on Facebook.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

With the Oculus Rift getting people all hot and bothered about virtual reality once again, one canny modder has prepared for its launch by whipping up a VR mod for Half-Life 2 and its episodes. Able to track the player's head and any plastic weaponry they may be holding, the mod looks jolly impressive in a new video.

If you have some VR kit of your own, you can download it right now and get playing.

It's not as simple as adding tracking, oh no, as HL2 must be tweaked to better suit having the display fill your entire vision. The HUD is split into individual elements which fade in and out when relevant, and you can manually lower Gordon's gun so it's not always in your face. It also removes any head-jerking effects, like when shooting or hit by a shock baton, presumably because if your head snaps back in the game it also kicks back in real life and snaps your neck.

Creator Nathan Andrews himself controls the gun with a Top Shot Elite, a plastic gun controller which came with the Cabela's Dangerous Hunts games, with a tracker taped on top. Firing is entirely independent from where Gordon's looking, as you can clearly see later in the demo video. You can also use control it any old regular way, though he recommends an Xbox 360 controller over mouse and keyboard "because analog movement is an absolute must for a good experience with head tracking."

When the Oculus Rift APIs launch, Andrews will hook those into the mod. This isn't the only way to play Half-Life 2 with Oculus Rift, mind, as the open-source Vireio Perception also supports it and several other older games but lacks the fancy tailored touches.

I have no interest in wearing a VR headset myself, but the tracking and independent aiming do convey a fine sense of physicality, even just watching someone else play. Now, if more games would show you an actual body when you look down, that'd be gravy.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The psychedelic PlayStation 3 game Dyad is making the trip to Steam, and aiming to release in March. It will be available on PC, Mac, and Linux.

The game was accidentally discovered on a Steam database, which forced creator McGarth to announce the ports prematurely. "This was a rather interesting thing that happened," McGrath told Joystiq. "I didn't plan on announcing Dyad on Steam yet, but what can I do now?" While March is its target date, McGrath says "who knows when it'll actually come out?" He also noted he'd like to release all three versions simultaneously, but the PC version might come first. The ports will be based on the PlayStation 3 version that received critical praise last year.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

The Metal Gear series has a long history of PlayStation allegiance. Although Platinum Games' upcoming Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance will launch simultaneously on PS3 and Xbox 360, Konami has revealed a special bonus for PlayStation players.

The PS3 version of the game will include exclusive DLC VR missions. The PlayStation-only pack adds 30 new missions to the game, a bonus that should easily sway any multi-console owners.

Of course, while 30 is a large number, do note that these VR missions are bite-sized. As PlayStation.Blog points out, these are "inspired by the original Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions," and will feature "pure, uncut gameplay." Wait--isn't this game entirely about cutting?

"Featuring a mix of combat training, tactical maneuvering, stealth-based approaches and more, these missions will both provide practice in which to hone your skills in original stages not seen the in the game's campaign, and feature an eclectic mix of challenges that any veteran of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance or Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions would come to expect," the promo text details. "And, in an interesting twist, you’ll be able to take control of the much loved/hated Dwarf Gekko in the VR Missions."

Although the DLC will be exclusive to PS3, it won't be free. "The pricing for the VR Missions DLC pack will be released at a later date. Please stay tuned!" The game will be available on February 19th. Until then, here's a video of naked Raiden running around in an MGS2 VR mission:

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

After first garnering attention for its wins at the 2010 Independent Games Festival, Pocketwatch Games has given its crown jewel now known as Monaco: What's Yours is Mine roughly three years of polish. The long-awaited top-down cooperative heist game is finally set to release in April, and company founder Andy Schatz tells us the thrill is in the heist.

"I derive my game design inspirations from non-gaming things that I'm passionate about," Schatz said. "I like to take those things, break them down into their constituent parts, figure out how their systems work, and then figure out how a player might be able to interact with them. With Monaco I started with heist movies, a genre that I'm a big fan of, and childhood games of hide and seek. I tried to emulate the emotional arc of a heist movie, the character tropes, and the visual styles."

Those heist movie tropes can be seen in the game's eight classes--Locksmith, Hacker, Lookout, Cleaner, Mole, Gentleman, Pickpocket, and Redhead. If the cast looks like something out of Ocean's 11, that's because they're intentional homages to those types of films. "The original four classes all interacted with a specific type of environmental object," said Schatz. "When I expanded to eight classes, I drew most of the inspiration from heist movie tropes. The Mole, the Gentleman, the Pickpocket, and the Redhead all were based upon a vision of who the character was rather than what the character could do."

Anyone that has ever seen a heist movie knows that something always goes wrong. Monaco won't be any different, as Schatz points out that players will inevitably get caught, making it unlike a traditional stealth game. In this case, the thrill is in the chase. "Since the player doesn't have an expectation of ghosting it, I think the experience of being caught and chased is more exhilarating than frustrating," said Schatz.

Schatz also got the chance to work with Grammy-nominated Journey composer Austin Wintory, on Monaco's soundtrack. It's a collaboration that Schatz says stemmed from recommendations with his friends at thatgamecompany and also from his own love for Wintory's work. "Austin is the most enthusiastic person I've ever worked with," Schatz added. "The piano score is really unlike anything you will have heard in other games. Every level has its own unique ragtime score with dynamic layers and a huge amount of responsiveness to game events."

While the core design for Monaco remains the same as it was three years ago, today's Monaco looks grander and more polished. Schatz said the main additions include online play and a vector-based line-of-sight that's friendlier to four-player co-op. Monaco will be coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade, but PC players that want to get a look at the prototype that captured so many imaginations can get instant access to the original 2010 IGF-winning prototype by pre-ordering from Monaco's official site.

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