Shacknews - Steven Wong

The "Tales of" games represent a long standing series dating back to the 1995 release of Tales of Phantasia for Super Famicom. Similar to Final Fantasy, each Tale tells an individual story that (with the exception of a few direct sequels) have no connection to the other games. To mark the 20th anniversary of the series, we're getting Tales of Zestiria this year, which is a medieval fantasy game that looks to get back to some of the roots of the first game.

Since each game tells a self-contained story, you don't have to play any of the previous games to understand what's going on in Tales of Zestiria. The story takes place in a fantasy world being torn apart by war, and only a prophesized Shepherd can save everyone from evil. Players take the role of Sorey, a young man who grew up in a small village dreaming of adventure. He also happens to be one of the few humans able to see and communicate with an ethereal race called the Seraphim. He also happens to be the storied Shepherd who will deliver humanity from evil, evidenced by how he is able to pull a sword stuck in a pedestal in a true Arthurian Sword in the Stone style. However, there are those who are skeptical of Sorey's abilities and the role of the Shepherd, so there may be critical points where players will need to make hard choices about what to do.

With artists and designers with a background in manga and anime, like Kosuke Fujishima (creator of the Oh My Goddess! series), Tales of Zestiria has a distinct, brightly colored, quality to its environments and characters. Zestiria has the largest world of any Tales game, and players explore it in a traditional JRPG way. The world is generally open, with moving icons representing monster encounters. In this way, players can more-or-less choose how many fights they get into so that they can balance between gaining experience and progressing the story.

Tales of Phantasia made a big impression in the 90s by having a real-time combat system, while most other JRPGs were turn-based. Since then, real-time combat has been a key feature that has been refined with each new addition. Generally speaking, combat involves switching between party members to hit an enemy creature with a series of melee attacks and spells until it drops. Tales of Zestiria adds an additional layer of complexity with a system that strategically fuses to characters together into a more powerful form for bigger attacks. Furthermore, combat sequences have been streamlined compared to previous games, with shorter transition animations, so that players can jump straight into the action without staring at repetitive cinematics.

The game also has a limited degree of 4-player cooperative play. Although Tales of Zestiria is essentially a single player game, three friends can join in the battles through local co-op play. I'm not convinced that a system where nearby friends can only join in during battles - and must watch one player explore the world the rest of the time - is a necessarily useful feature, but I suppose the game should get points for trying. Especially since the game promises massive environments with plenty of ruins, forests, and mountains to check out. Perhaps that means there will be a lot of fighting to do.

You can tell, just by looking at Tales of Zestiria, that it's a game that's deeply rooted in classic gameplay. There's a high degree of familiarity with its characters and presentation. Perhaps it's because Tales games have been releasing for 20 years across a multitude of platforms. Or maybe it's because it's the bright anime art style and a story that is heavily influenced by classic Western literature and mythology.

We'll find have a chance to follow Sorey's adventures when Tales of Zestiria releases on October 20th for PS3, PS4 and PC.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Just as was the case for PlayStation 4 users last week, the Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer beta has opened up to everyone. This time around, it's open to all Xbox One and PC users.

And just like last week, the level cap has been upped the level cap to 34. Plus, the Uplink game mode is playable, the new Stronghold map has been thrown in the rotation, and the mechanical Specialist known as Reaper is now available.

The Call of Duty: Black Ops III beta is set to run through the end of the day on Sunday.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Telltale Games is showing off the beta for Minecraft: Story Mode at PAX Prime 2015 this weekend. And as they open the door for attendees to give it a look, the first bit of news surrounding the game has emerged. Minecraft: Story Mode will represent a lot of firsts for the developer and that includes the first chance to select a playable character.

Players will get to select from various appearances of protagonist Jesse. This includes different skin colors and even female variations of the character. Telltale did not make clear whether the voice will change upon switching to a female character... unless lead voice actor Patton Oswalt can pull off an amazing female voice.

(Update: Telltale Games has since informed Shacknews that the lead female character will be voiced by Catherine Taber.)

Minecraft: Story Mode is set to come this fall to the usual Telltale platforms, which includes PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS, and Android. It is also set to hit Wii U at the same time, which not only represents another first for Telltale, but also marks the first official Minecraft game to hit the Nintendo console.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The end of the month is here and that means it's the last chance for the monthly freebies before they get rotated out. In particular, Xbox One owners will probably want to grab Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes to help prepare themselves for next week's The Phantom Pain. As for this week's sales, Xbox celebrates the indies, PlayStation celebrates the old-school, and Nintendo is offering a big Capcom sale on 3DS. Check out the full list of deals below.

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

Xbox One

The following games are a part of Xbox One Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

PlayStation 4

The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

Nintendo Wii U

Xbox 360

The following games are a part of Xbox 360 Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

PlayStation 3

The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

Nintendo 3DS

PlayStation Vita

The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

PAX Prime 2015 is this weekend, but let's face it. Many people probably aren't there. Those people will be home this weekend, hearing about everyone else having fun in Seattle. Well, this post is for them. This post is to pick up some new PC games and forget all about whatever's happening up there. Amazon is offering up Evolve, Bundle Stars has some amazing bundles on Mortal Kombat and the LEGO games, Green Man Gaming is offering 40% off pre-orders for Mad Max, and the Humble Store is kicking off its End of Summer sale. Catch the full list of deals below.

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

Amazon

Bundle Stars

Pay $9.99 for LEGO Lord of the Rings, LEGO The Hobbit, and its DLC packs. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $14.99 for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its DLC packs. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $4.99 for theHunter: Primal, A Story About My Uncle, Godus, Overture, Sudeki, Of Guards and Thieves, Lemma, The Silent Age, Hero of the Kingdom II, and The Sun and Moon. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $19.99 for Mortal Kombat X and its DLC packs. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $9.99 for LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and its DLC packs. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $1.99 for Ninjahtic, Ninjahtic Mind Tricks, samurai_jazz, Jump/Boxer, Shin Samurai Jazz, An Imp? A Fiend!, and The Way of the Pixelated Fist. These activate on Steam.

Direct2Drive

GamersGate

GameStop

Get Games

GOG.com

  • Doom II/Final Doom + The Ultimate Doom + Quake: The Offering - $17.31 (33% off)
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition + The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard + An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire - $21.37 (33% off)
  • Fallout + Fallout 2 + Fallout Tactics - $9.99 (66% off)
  • Purchase any of the above bundles to also get The Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall for free.
  • Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum - $5.99 (70% off)
  • Alone in the Dark: The Trilogy - $1.79 (70% off)
  • Other games in GOG.com's Atari and Codemasters sale can be found here.

Green Man Gaming

Use the code PAYDAY-22PERC-OFFNOW to get 22% off your purchase. Some exclusions apply.

  • Use the code MADMAX-SAVE40-MADMAX to get 40% off a pre-order for Mad Max to bring the total down to $35.99
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt [GOG.com] - $27.99 (53% off)
  • Skullgirls Bundle [Steam] - $4.99 (75% off)
  • Sorcerer King [Steam] - $29.99 (25% off)
  • Offworld Trading Company [Steam Early Access] - $29.99 (25% off)
  • Galactic Civilizations III [Steam] - $37.49 (25% off)
  • Enemy Front [Steam] - $11.99 (60% off)
  • Other games in Green Man Gaming's The Great Indoors sale, including X and Risen games, can be found here.
  • Deep Silver is offering 24-hour flash deals. The latest games on sale can be found here.

Humble Bundle

Pay what you want for Crimsonland, Neverending Nightmares, Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians, and Fotonica. Pay more than the average $3.04 to get TinyKeep, Crowntakers, Monster Loves You, Secret of the Magic Crystals Complete, Strata, and Doodle God. All games work on Steam and Steam keys are available with a $1 minimum.

Or pay what you want for Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut, The Marvellous Miss Take, and Tulpa. Pay more than the average $2.80 to get Kromaia and Cloudbuilt. Pay $8 or more to also get TRI: Of Friendship and Madness and Ratz Instagib [Steam Early Access]. All games work on Steam and Steam keys are available with a $1 minimum.

  • Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones - Humble Deluxe Edition [Steam] - FREE!
  • A large selection of Telltale Games are on sale, but you can save even more by picking up 3, 4, and 5 games at a time. The selection includes Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and more. Find the full list here.
  • A large selection of Codemasters are on sale, but you can save even more by picking up 3, 4, and 5 games at a time. The selection includes Dirt 3 Complete Edition, Grid Autosport, Overlord II, and more. Find the full list here.
  • Rogue Legacy [Steam] - $2.24 (85% off)
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons [Steam] - $2.99 (80% off)
  • Zombie Army Trilogy [Steam] - $15.29 (66% off)
  • Terraria [Steam] - $2.49 (75% off)
  • Over 1,000 games are on sale as part of the Humble Store's End of Summer sale, with new games going up each day. Find the full list of sale items over on the Humble Store.

Origin

Steam

As well as regular discounts, Steam has a couple of additional weekend deals.

  • Company of Heroes 2 - $9.99 (75% off) (FREE WEEKEND until 8/30 at 1PM PT)
  • Mount & Blade: Warband - $6.79 (66% off) (FREE WEEKEND until 8/30 at 1PM PT)
  • The full Daedalic Entertainment catalog is on sale this weekend, including Deponia: The Complete Journey, Valhalla Hills, Blackguards, and more. Find the full list here.
  • Endless Legend - $17.49 (50% off)
  • Trine 2: Complete Story - $2.99 (85% off)
  • The Typing of The Dead: Overkill - $4.99 (75% off)
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend - $14.99 (50% off)
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

It isn't enough that Studio Wildcard is offering a free weekend of ARK: Survival Evolved to Steam users. The developer is looking to add a little something extra to this weekend's proceedings. But what else can a studio add to a game that has massive dinosaurs, gorillas, and armadillos?

The answer? Poop-throwing monkeys!

No, really!

The Mesopithecus is the latest creature to join ARK: Survival Evolved. This is a small monkey, capable of riding a player's shoulder. While it can be used to pick locks or fit in tight places, it can also be used to literally throw its own feces at objects. If that fails, then just have it go for an enemy's face. If feces-flinging simians aren't enough, ARK is also introducing smoke grenades in today's update, to add an entirely different way to offend your olfactory senses.

ARK: Survival Evolved is currently a part of Steam Early Access, but if you need to try it, remember that there's a free weekend going on right now.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Once upon a time, Mortal Kombat X was in line to come to more than just PC and next-gen consoles. The previous generation of consoles were supposed to see some love, too. Then the delays started happening and the prospects of an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version of NetherRealm's fighter didn't look so good. Today, Warner Bros. finally delivered a Fatality to these versions of the game, announcing that they are officially cancelled.

"After months of development, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has come to the regrettable conclusion that we cannot release Mortal Kombat X for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360," reads the Mortal Kombat X forums (via Shoryuken). "Please know our teams worked diligently to meet the quality standards set by the current-gen versions of the game. We were not able to get the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions to the quality expected of a Mortal Kombat game and are very sorry for not being able to deliver the products as originally planned."

The previous generation of Mortal Kombat X games were being handled by High Voltage Software, but it appears that developer's work was to no avail. Warner Bros. is prompting anyone that pre-ordered to return to their retailer to receive a full refund.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Marvel Heroes 2015 is looking at another rebranding in the near future, with the first details on the newly-dubbed Marvel Heroes 2016 set to be unveiled this Sunday at PAX Prime. But if the "2015" moniker is going away, it's certainly going out with a bang, with Gazillion's MMORPG getting a handful of new arrivals today.

First and foremost, Marvel Heroes now has its 50th character. James Rhodes, better known as War Machine, has joined the battle with his array of superior military tech. War Machine may look like he plays just like Iron Man, but remember that Rhodey hates being labeled an Iron Man derivative as anyone else. As such, he plays less with repulsors and more with just hardcore weaponry, like chainsaws, flamethrowers, and a whole lot of missiles. His signature attack, a tongue-in-cheek move called "Sidekick," calls Iron Man down, as they both fire a concentrated blast to create a massive explosion. The explosion will also leave War Machine with extra residual power that remains for a short period.

More on War Machine can be seen below, but we'll get back to him in just a bit.

Meanwhile, Gazillion continues to review each of the Marvel Heroes roster, one upgrade at a time. The latest character to get a review is Cable. The time-traveling mutant from the future now has some new moves at his disposal, which can be seen below. On top of that, his Marvel Now! costume has been added to his available wardrobe.

There's also a new Team-Up character and it's not who many would expect. It's the murderous symbiote known as Carnage. Carnage's killing sprees are things of legend in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, so much so that it was the center of a huge 90s event that eventually got its own video game adaptation. He's one of the few villains to join the Team-Up roster, after Doctor Doom, and his symbiote powers look to be a boon to any superheroic effort, as the video below shows.

These changes are all hitting Marvel Heroes 2015 today. Shacknews also has five War Machine codes to give away to our readers. To enter the giveaway, answer the following question in the comments: Gazillion will enter Marvel Heroes 2016 with exactly 50 playable characters, but who should be next to join the playable roster? Winners will be drawn and notified via Shack Message on Saturday.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Earlier this month, ArenaNet kicked off the first official beta for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. And it appears that all went well with the first public hands-on for the new expansion. So now the developer is ready to unveil a release date.

The Guild Wars 2 account offered up an October 23 release date on Twitter earlier today, while also noting that pre-purchases are now open. Heart of Thorns will continue the Guild Wars 2 story in an entirely new area, while also introducing a new class, character specializations, and a new 5v5 PvP mode called Strongholds.

Meanwhile, the expansion's second beta is set to go live next weekend. More information on the second Heart of Thorns beta, set to go from September 4-6, can be found on the Guild Wars 2 website.

Shacknews went hands-on with Heart of Thorns' new PvE earlier this year. Check out that preview here.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The Humble Store has had a busy week. Earlier this week, Humble announced that customers would now have the option to put their money towards the charity of their choice. Today, the company is putting up Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones for free.

The free offering includes the Humble Deluxe Edition of developer Carbon's 2D stealth game. This includes the DRM-free version of Stealth Inc. 2, a Steam key, the Special Edition soundtrack, and a handful of wallpapers.

This is one of the highlights of the Humble Store's End of Summer sale, which includes a sale on many of publisher Curve Digital's games. Look for a more detailed list on this weekend's PC deals later this week, as Shacknews returns with the regular Weekend PC Download Deals post.

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