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Shack News
Shacknews Recent Articles http://www.shacknews.com/rss?recent_articles=1 en-us Nintendo Switch Beats PS4 to 500,000 in Japan http://www.shacknews.com/article/99562/nintendo-switch-beats-ps4-to-500000-in-japan http://www.shacknews.com/article/99562/nintendo-switch-beats-ps4-to-500000-in-japan <p>Nintendo Switch is doing quite well in its home territory as well, having sold more than 500,000 units according to the data analysts Media Create.</p> <p>That figure, compiled from the first four weeks of launch, means it reached the half-million mark faster than the PlayStation 4. Sony's console took seven weeks to reach 500,000. Keep in mind, though, its sales performance in Japan was less speedy than many other parts of the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>This also signals an increase week-by-week, since last week's sales in Japan were nearly 80,000, up from 50,000 in the previous week. We know that Nintendo has been working to get more stock into stores as the console has been consistently selling out, and recently announced it would be <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99450/nintendo-switch-is-not-the-wii-u-as-the-company-doubles-production-of-the-console">doubling&nbsp;its production</a>. Nintendo has also said that it broke internal sales records in North America and Europe.</p> <p>Part of that is no doubt due to word of mouth over The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which stands in&nbsp;a <a href="http://www.metacritic.com/browse/games/score/metascore/all/all/filtered?sort=desc" target="_blank">multi-way tie as the third-best reviewed game of all time on Metacritic</a>. Our own review called it <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99249/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-review-the-legend-lives-on">an instant classic</a>&nbsp;on par with other landmark entries like Ocarina of Time. SuperData has found that it has a whopping 89% attach rate, despite being available on another platform.</p> <p>Of course, all that success has a downside too. Scammers are offering the console at rock-bottom prices on sites like Amazon, only to <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99557/psa-scammers-offering-nintendo-switch-consoles-at-half-price-on-amazon">take the money and run</a>. If you're still looking for one, best to stick with reputable retailers, rather than go looking for a deal that seems too good to be true.</p> <p>[Source: <a href="http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2017-03-30-nintendo-switch-reaches-500-000-sales-in-japan" target="_blank">GamesIndustry</a>]</p> Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:15:00 PDT Steve Watts Shack's Arcade Corner: Fantasy http://www.shacknews.com/article/99561/shacks-arcade-corner-fantasy http://www.shacknews.com/article/99561/shacks-arcade-corner-fantasy <p>We take a look at Fantasy, an old school arcade game from 1982, on this week's Shack's Arcade Corner. The game was developed by SNK and published by Rock-ola, a company who's specialty was in coin-operated jukeboxes, slot machines and pinball machines. Fantasy was one of their first attempts at creating an arcade cabinet and it shows. The game&nbsp;also featured some of the first real voice work seen in the arcade. The soundtrack in Fantasy&nbsp;was mainly a midi&nbsp;loop&nbsp;of the 70's hit song <em>Funky Town</em>. The story was pretty simple. Pirates capture your girlfriend, and you have to get her back. Please take a look at this episode for more info about Fantasy.</p> <p><span>For more&nbsp;videos, including gameplay and interviews, visit the&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/Shacknewsgames" target="_blank">Shacknews</a><span>&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWdXbx28xPxbotxGIQDjIbA" target="_blank">GamerHub.tv</a><span>&nbsp;YouTube channels.</span></p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zCgsA6KB_5w?ecver=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><span>If you have a suggestion for a future episode of Shack's Arcade Corner, please let us know in the comments section or tweet&nbsp;</span><a href="https://twitter.com/shacknews" target="_blank">@shacknews</a><span>&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;</span><a href="https://twitter.com/GregBurke85" target="_blank">@GregBurke85</a><span>&nbsp;with #ArcadeCorner.</span></p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 18:00:00 PDT Greg Burke Battlefield 1 to Add Premium Friends, In Case Regular Friends Aren't Enough http://www.shacknews.com/article/99560/battlefield-1-to-add-premium-friends-in-case-regular-friends-arent-enough http://www.shacknews.com/article/99560/battlefield-1-to-add-premium-friends-in-case-regular-friends-arent-enough <p>EA has a new service for lonely Battlefield 1 players called Premium Friends. Don't have enough real-life friends with the best maps? Let EA hook you up with some uber-elite buddies who do have access to play with for free.</p> <p>The new program, based on feedback from the Battlefield 1 community, allows&nbsp;players with a Premium Pass to invite the premium-less into groups to play on all maps, even if they don't have the content. However, while those players can play on the maps, only the "Premium Enabled" get extra perks, such as XP, weapons or vehicles from the DLC the map is associated with. and tracking toward unique medals and codexes.&nbsp;</p> <p>The goal is "<span>to make sure all maps of the game have as many players as possible to secure a good experience for everyone," Battlefield 1 producer&nbsp;Andreas Skoglund said in <a href="https://www.battlefield.com/news/article/introducing-premium-friends-a-word-from-our-producer">a blog post announcing the feature</a>. Of course, if you are in a group with one Premium Friend, and they drop out, access for the premium-less friends ends.</span></p> <p>A trial run of the feature will be unveiled at Battlefest starting tomorrow. The dev team will continue to take feedback through the test phase and make changes as needed.</p> <p>Battlefield 1 Premium Pass players got the first round of DLC, They Shall Not Pass, <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99258/battlefield-1s-they-shall-not-pass-dlc-coming-in-two-weeks">two weeks ago</a>, introducing the French Army, a new elite class, new weapons and four new maps. Everyone else got the DLC yesterday. <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99212/battlefield-1-season-pass-dlc-revealed">Three more DLC packs are planned</a>&nbsp;by the end of the year.</p> <p>So buddy up with a Premium, mon ami, if you want to jump into those new maps. It's a great idea, but the name needs work.</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:20:00 PDT John Keefer Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Will Be at the Star Wars Celebration http://www.shacknews.com/article/99559/star-wars-battlefront-2-will-be-at-the-star-wars-celebration http://www.shacknews.com/article/99559/star-wars-battlefront-2-will-be-at-the-star-wars-celebration <p>In a shocking reveal of standardized game naming conventions, EA has officially announced that the Star Wars: Battlefront sequel we have all known was coming is called ... drumroll, please ... Star Wars: Battlefront 2. And in typical teaser fashion, everyone will get a look at the first trailer at the Star Wars Celebration on April 15.</p> <p>EA had already <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99507/new-star-wars-battlefront-need-for-speed-revealed-for-ea-play-2017">revealed that the game would be at EA Play</a>, but they covertly called it the sequel to Star Wars: Battlefront. But this will be a month earlier, with the trailer being part of &ldquo;The Galaxywide Premiere of Star Wars Battlefront II&rdquo; panel discussion at the Star Wars event, starting at 2:30 p.m. PT / 5:30 p.m. ET. The talking heads will be from the three EA Studios&nbsp;involved in the Star Wars license: DICE, Criterion and Motive. If you can't be there, the panel will be <a href="http://www.starwars.com/star-wars-celebration">streamed live</a>&nbsp;on&nbsp;the official Star Wars Celebration site.</p> <p>EA first&nbsp;<a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/94595/ea-confirms-battlefront-2">confirmed a Battlefront sequel in May last year</a>, and promised that all of the <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/97902/star-wars-battlefront-2-has-taken-fan-criticisms-of-the-original-to-heart-ea-exec-says">criticisms leveled on the first game</a>&nbsp;would be taken to heart. The game is expected this fall, likely for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:25:00 PDT John Keefer How to Charge Nintendo Switch on the Go http://www.shacknews.com/article/99558/how-to-charge-nintendo-switch-on-the-go http://www.shacknews.com/article/99558/how-to-charge-nintendo-switch-on-the-go <p>When it comes to charging the Switch, Nintendo supplies you with a dock, but there are already ways to charge your system when out of the house. Third party adapters are a viable option so long as they support USB power delivery and are Type-C cables.</p> <p>We&rsquo;d recommend the portable power banks currently on sale from <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012NIQG5E?ref_=ams_ad_dp_ttl">RAVPower</a> or the ones by <a href="https://www.amazon.com/20000mAh-Portable-Charger-External-Nintendo/dp/B01191S0VY">iMuto</a>. The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Type-USB-C-Black/dp/B00S8GU2OC">Type-C cables</a> along with the previously mentioned power packs can all be found on <a href="https://www.amazon.com">Amazon</a>.</p> <p>In order to match the capacity of Nintendo&rsquo;s stock power adapter&rsquo;s, you&rsquo;ll need at least a 15V adapter. Be aware that the Switch tablet will charge at max, 10W; so there is no need to try and find an even larger adapter.</p> <p><span>Several Nintendo Switch owners have reported that their consoles have a faulty charging dock, scratching the face of the tablet when they dock and undock it. If you suffer from this issue, a third party charger may be a great temporary solution until you can get your dock replaced.</span></p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/nintendo-switch-power-brick.png" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:00:00 PDT Donovan Erskine PSA: Scammers Offering Nintendo Switch Consoles at Half Price on Amazon http://www.shacknews.com/article/99557/psa-scammers-offering-nintendo-switch-consoles-at-half-price-on-amazon http://www.shacknews.com/article/99557/psa-scammers-offering-nintendo-switch-consoles-at-half-price-on-amazon <p>Several third-party sellers on <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B01LTHP2ZK/ref=olp_twister_child?ie=UTF8&amp;mv_edition=0">Amazon list Nintendo Switch</a> for as low as $148, a price cut of more than half the console's retail price of $300 and change. Don't get your hopes up and your one-click-purchase trigger finger ready: it's a scam.</p> <p>A user on <a href="http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1354335">NeoGAF</a> reported that his girlfriend jumped on a $199 price for a <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/topic/nintendo-switch" target="_blank">Switch</a>&nbsp;on Amazon. She pulled the trigger&nbsp;out of curiosity, wondering what, if anything, would arrive on her doorstep. Other users have likely been less fortunate, and less aware.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/SwitchScammers.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="452" /></div> <p>Users who get taken can go through the refund song and dance with Amazon support, but it's better to know what to watch for ahead of time. The Switch is a hot-ticket item and will remain in demand until Nintendo's increase in manufacturing translates into a steady stream of supplies. Given that, most legitimate sellers are looking to flip it for double or higher its standard retail price of $300.</p> <p>A high price isn't a guarantee that your prospective purchase is on the level, but it is a strong indicator. Scammers are likely underpricing their nonexistent Switch consoles to take advantage of consumers excited at the prospect of getting a great deal.</p> <p>Scammers are targeting buyers interested in Switch Pro Controllers as well. The peripheral, also in short supply, retails for $70, yet there are numerous listings lower than $10.</p> <p>We've reached out to Amazon for comment. Until the retailer figures out a way to weed out frauds, exercise caution.</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:30:00 PDT David Craddock MLB: The Show 17 Review-in-Progress: Extra Innings http://www.shacknews.com/article/99556/mlb-the-show-17-review-in-progress-extra-innings http://www.shacknews.com/article/99556/mlb-the-show-17-review-in-progress-extra-innings <p class="p1"><i>MLB: The Show 17 </i>opens with the dulcet tones of Vin Scully over a live-action video of classic baseball moments like Lou Gehrig&rsquo;s famous &ldquo;luckiest man on earth&rdquo; speech and last year&rsquo;s Cubs World Series win drawn by an artist in time-lapse on a chalk scoreboard, creating a mosaic of baseball history. It&rsquo;s subtle and poignant, a reflection on the sport and the franchise as the latter enters its second decade. Watching it, it&rsquo;s clear that the people who work on this game love baseball and care about it, and that care is evident in every bit of <i>The Show 17 </i>as it pays tribute to the past and future of the world&rsquo;s greatest non-scripted sport. This is the most complete, well-crafted <i>Show </i>yet. &nbsp;</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/mlb-the-show-retro-1.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <h2>The Kid Stays in The Picture</h2> <p class="p1">Considering its choice of Ken Griffey, Jr. for cover athlete, it&rsquo;s no surprise the most-ballyhooed addition to <i>The Show 17 </i>is the new<i> </i>Retro Mode, evocative of the games that used to feature the Mariners legend. This mode tosses the complex simulation of <i>The Show</i> aside in favor of a high-angle camera and simplified control setup &ndash; fielding, batting, and pitching are all accomplished with combinations of the analog stick and the X button. With era-appropriate music, pixelated chyrons, and even Griffey himself commenting on the plays, this mode is undoubtedly charming and fun. After a few innings, though, I found myself sorely missing the depth of the main game and thinking they might have scaled it back <i>too </i>much. While it&rsquo;s kind of shallow to be the key addition this year, as a side attraction it adds a lot to the overall package and reinforces the game&rsquo;s implicit nostalgic themes.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><i>Road to the Show </i>remains the best part of the game, and every year Sony San Diego inches closer to making the mode a full-fledged baseball RPG. New this year is the Pave Your Path feature, which adds to the mode&rsquo;s narrative by portraying key moments in your player&rsquo;s career &ndash; being called up to the majors, deciding whether to enter the draft, being traded &ndash; and giving dialogue options and choices that theoretically impact said career. While not all of these options have a meaningful impact on your player&rsquo;s career, some occasionally added surprising emotional heft. In particular, an unexpected post-season trade to the Blue Jays farm team hurt both my pitcher Bubba Bottomley and myself more than I expected.&nbsp;</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/mlb-the-show-five-three-twenty-six.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <p class="p1">That said, these cutcenes are played out with awkward animations and a lack of voice acting, save for the intonations of a documentary narrator that sounds more like he&rsquo;s narrating a middle school biology filmstrip than discussing a young baseball player&rsquo;s experience. While budget may have been a factor, it&rsquo;s hard not to feel like this mode could use higher production values, particularly in light of the<i> NBA2K </i>series&rsquo; theatrical-quality presentations. <i>Road to the Show </i>remains the best campaign mode in sports games so it&rsquo;s a minor gripe at most &ndash; I still spent most of my time in this mode this year and I&rsquo;ll likely continue doing so going forward. I have to see how Bubba turns out, after all.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">Across the board, every major mode got some love this year. Franchise mode has struggled to keep my attention in the past due to the astronomical time burden, but I appreciated the new modes designed to ease that burden. Franchise players can now either choose Player Lock, which only asks the player to play out at-bats and defensive opportunities for a particular player, or Quick Manage, which turns <i>The Show </i>into a simple text-based management sim with a menu of options for each at-bat. These modes are not without quirks: Quick Manage is kind of boring, and the Player Lock mode can feel disorienting because of the locked camera angle and alternate control scheme &ndash; I lost more than a few routine plays as a result. Neither mode is quite as clean a solution to speeding up gameplay as the Quick Counts introduced earlier in the series, but they&rsquo;re welcome and useful attempts anyway.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The Beautiful Game</h2> <p class="p1">This is the first year in a while Sony San Diego hasn&rsquo;t had to split development duties between the PS3 and PS4 and they made the most of it. <i>The Show </i>looks and plays better than it has since the current-gen leap, with better lighting and improved player animation that was noticeable even when I was playing in lower-resolution Remote Play mode on my laptop. Those animations contribute to smoother, less finicky gameplay than years past by improving the overall speed of in-game actions &ndash; outside of the aforementioned Player Lock issues I felt like I had fewer unforced errors than before.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><iframe width="700" height="394" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/b2D7SfO5Bgk"></iframe></p> <p class="p1">While the game does offer some significant visual upgrades for PS4 Pro users it also still looks outstanding on the standard model, with surprising amounts of detail like wear on the ball and texture on the uniforms you&rsquo;ll only notice if you zoom in on replays. The player models and textures also look substantially better this year, though quality does seem to vary in terms of their fidelity to the real-world athletes and they generally lag behind the likes of <i>NBA2K </i>overall. The game&rsquo;s broadcast presentation also got a noticeable upgrade, with cleaner menus and graphics during gameplay that match up to real MLB Network broadcasts as well as a new announce team that&rsquo;s both insightful and pleasant to listen to. I&rsquo;d much rather hear these guys call the World Series than Fox&rsquo;s team.</p> <p class="p1">The most welcome changes in my time with <i>The Show 17 </i>were those aimed at the user interface. Everything from load times to menu clutter feels overhauled and improved, and it&rsquo;s nice to see the trend toward greater ease of use continue year-to-year when other major sports franchises seem bound and determined to do the opposite. New this year is a better stat-tracking system, keeping track of your batting average, ERA, and other stats across all modes and tying unique in-game achievements and milestones to your on-field performance. In a particularly cool addition, the achievements compare your in-game stats to real-world players &ndash; it&rsquo;ll take a while to reach 14,053 at-bats like Pete Rose but now you can see how you stack up. This year&rsquo;s game also ditches the Captain system from <i>The Show 16</i> for a ticket-based reward system where tickets accumulated across all game modes allow you to select from a progressively better suite of rewards.&nbsp; Everything you do feels like it matters in some way, whether it&rsquo;s unlocking rewards in the vastly improved Missions or just watching your virtual stats tick up, and it&rsquo;s fun just to click around and see how you&rsquo;re doing. Baseball <i>is </i>a numbers game, after all.&nbsp;</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/mlb-the-show-17-rizzo.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <h2>Sending in the Closer</h2> <p class="p1">It&rsquo;s always easy to recommend <i>The Show, </i>and even easier on its best years. While there are still a few graphical issues and rough presentation edges in certain modes, it&rsquo;s hard to look at this year&rsquo;s edition and not come away impressed by the sheer amount of content and modes, as well as the polished gameplay and player experience improvements. <i>MLB: The Show 17 </i>is a love letter to baseball and its fans, and proves further the franchise remains one of the very best reasons to own a PS4.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"><em>Editor's Note: While the developers did provide a special server for reviewers to sample the online features of the game, the reviewer had issues connecting until late in the review period; because of this we have elected to wait until the consumer servers are live to dive deeper into Diamond Dynasty&rsquo;s new features and the online multiplayer modes. A final score will be posted later this week.</em></p> <hr /> <p><i>This review is based on a PlayStation 4&nbsp;download code provided by the publisher. MLB The Show 17 is available in retail and digital stores now, for $59.99. The game is rated E.</i></p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:00:00 PDT Bryan Carr Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City - How to Find the Ring of Steel Protection +3 http://www.shacknews.com/article/99555/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-find-the-ring-of-steel-protection-3 http://www.shacknews.com/article/99555/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-find-the-ring-of-steel-protection-3 <p><a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/93912/dark-souls-3-walkthrough-collectibles-and-unique-items">Dark Souls 3</a> carried over the concept of +1 and +2 rings from Dark Souls 2. You can't find those enhanced rings until your second and third playthrough, respectively, but +3 rings can be found in any New Game playthrough&mdash;if you know where to look. Follow our guide to locating the Ring of Steel Protection +3 in <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99533/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-access-the-ringed-city-dlc">The Ringed City</a> DLC expansion.</p> <h2>Where to Find the Ring of Steel Protection +3</h2> <p>Like its counterparts, the Ring of Steel Protection +3 boosts your resistance to physical damage. You'll be happy to know it's sitting out in the open near the beginning of the Dreg Heap, ripe for the taking. Be careful, though. The path to the ring is treacherous.</p> <p>Start out at the Dreg Heap, the first bonfire you light in The Ringed City DLC. Proceed forward and drop off two ledges until you see a ramp on your left. Follow the ring across the courtyard, ignoring the murkmen that bubble up from the ground around you. Head toward the spellcaster, then sprint for the nearby broken stone bridge&nbsp;where a body lies. The stone&nbsp;will give way, and you'll plummet through the glass ceiling of a cathedral.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/20170329075444_1.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" style="undefined" /></div> <p>Take a moment to get your bearings. Make your way toward a gap in the wall on your left. Murkmen spawn as you go, including one right in the center of the hole; veer around him so he doesn't grab your legs and wrestle you to the ground. Outside, turn right, then right again. You'll see a specter pointing down, indicating that you should drop. Do so quickly: there's an angel nearby who will be happy to spike laggards with a hail of golden projectiles.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/20170329075543_1.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" style="undefined" /></div> <p>Sprint forward and take cover behind the broken bell until the barrage ceases. The angel should forget about you after a few seconds. Take a few steps forward than hang a left to hug the fall building. It's connected to a wooden bridge. The bridge curves around to below where the angel hovers.</p> <p>Wait for the angel to cease its blitzkrieg, then follow the bridge to a body at the end. Loot the corpse to claim your Ring of Steel Protection +3. Immediately turn around and run for cover; the angel unleashes spells at a fast enough clip that you'll almost certainly die unless you can get out of its line of sight.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/20170329075827_1.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" style="undefined" /></div> <p>Ready for more walkthroughs? Take a bonfire to our <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/93912/dark-souls-3-walkthrough-collectibles-and-unique-items">Dark Souls 3</a> guide, where you'll find tips, strategies, and guides such as how to acquire <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99544/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-get-lapps-armor">Lapp's armor</a>, a new piece of gear given to you (after a fashion) by an old friend.</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:45:00 PDT David Craddock Mass Effect Andromeda: Mining Minerals and Upgrading Your Nomad http://www.shacknews.com/article/99554/mass-effect-andromeda-mining-minerals-and-upgrading-your-nomad http://www.shacknews.com/article/99554/mass-effect-andromeda-mining-minerals-and-upgrading-your-nomad <p>Starry-eyed spacefarers won't get far in their mission without understanding the fundamentals of mining for materials in <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/topic/mass-effect-andromeda" target="_blank">Mass Effect Andromeda</a>. From mineral nodes to motherlodes, our guide will help you get the most out of mining as well as teach you how to upgrade your nomad vehicle.</p> <h2>The Basics of Mining in Mass Effect Andromeda</h2> <p>Materials earned through mining can go toward upgrading and crafting gear for your characters. On any planet, look for rock formations that stick out in the environment like the proverbial sore thumb. These formations consist of minerals, and are usually brighter than surrounding rocks. Collect them by picking them up.</p> <p>Once you pick up your Nomad, your aptitude in mining will increase dramatically. The Nomad brings nearby deposits to your attention by way of an icon that appears on your map. These icons signify larger clusters of minerals than those you come across while traveling on foot.</p> <p>Head toward a mining icon on your map until the computer icon in the upper-left-hand corner of your screen begins flashing. Pull up your mining computer by pressing right on your d-pad and take note of the graphs. Those readings communicate the relative size of elements in the deposit you're chasing.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/MassEffectAndromeda-mining1.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <p>You may not see any lines on your graphs at first. Don't worry; that's the game's way of telling you that you need to push forward. Drive around and keep an eye on the readings; they'll begin to appear. Larger lines indicate larger deposits. No numbers accompany the graph, so you'll need to grow wise in the ways of reading graphs.</p> <p>Once you notice a suitably large supply of the element you want, deploy a probe to retrieve it. Take notice of the orange line that encircles probes. You cannot launch other probes within that radius, which means you'll have to settle for putting one probe to work per deposit.</p> <h2>Upgrading Your Nomad</h2> <p>Your Nomad is good for more than sniffing out mineral deposits. A bevy of modifications facilitate tighter movement on terrain as well as defensive measures that may come in handy should you bump into any hostiles while exploring unfamiliar planets.</p> <p>Nomad upgrades require materials, and each one carries a steep price tag. All upgrades are nonessential; they're strictly quality-of-life improvements. Consider putting materials toward gear first, Nomad second.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/MassEffectAndromeda-nomad1.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="343" /></div> <p><em>Improved Suspension</em></p> <p>Boosts the Nomad's top speed while in driving mode. Good for climbing hills faster.</p> <p><em>Defense Fortification</em></p> <p>Adds 25 percent more shielding to the vehicle's exterior.</p> <p><em>Vertical Thrust</em></p> <p>An increase of 40 percent to your ride's jump jets. The most superficial of the bunch.</p> <p>Need help deciding what to upgrade once you're swimming in materials? Visit our <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99478/mass-effect-andromeda-guide-and-walkthrough---tips-collectibles-all-planets" target="_blank">Mass Effect Andromeda</a> guide hub for tips, strategies, and detailed walkthroughs.&nbsp;</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:15:00 PDT David Craddock Heroes of the Storm's Kaeo Milker on Going From 'Great Game' to 'Great Free-to-Play Game' http://www.shacknews.com/article/99553/heroes-of-the-storms-kaeo-milker-on-going-from-great-game-to-great-free-to-play-game http://www.shacknews.com/article/99553/heroes-of-the-storms-kaeo-milker-on-going-from-great-game-to-great-free-to-play-game <p>Today Heroes of the Storm kicks off the open beta for its <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99548/heroes-of-the-storm-20-update-gives-a-new-free-to-play-foundation">"Heroes 2.0" Update</a>, a massive overhaul of the underlying systems with a big emphasis on letting players earn all the cosmetic items they'd like with the addition of Loot Chests. I talked with Heroes of the Storm producer Kaeo Milker about the changes, and how the company is focusing on turning Heroes into not just a great game, but a great free-to-play experience as well. Check out his&nbsp;thoughts on where that distinction lies, as well as the esports scene and cross-pollination with other Blizzard projects.</p> <p><strong>With the 2.0 update it seems like there's some cross-pollination between teams&ndash;ideas like loot boxes, sprays, things like that.&nbsp;How does that happen? How does the culture work?</strong></p> <p>It's really rooted in the fact that we're a bunch of gamers. We're all playing games, we play all games. We've been very fortunate in the last couple years to have added a couple of really awesome Blizzard games to the mix in the form of Hearthstone and Overwatch. We all play a lot of them. Hearthstone is our other free-to-play game and it has some mechanics in it that are specific to free-to-play games that they got to explore some spaces that we hadn't done before.</p> <p>While Heroes is a free-to-play game, when we first went out, we kind of scraped the surface of free-to-play, and we learned a lot from them about how to be a better free-to-play. Some of the choices that we made in Heroes 2.0 is about making sure that people have access to all the cool stuff that we make whether they're spending money or not. That's what I'm really excited about, this reward system of loot chests&ndash;which again, it's kind of a hybrid of card pack from Hearthstone and loot box from Overwatch, there are things borrowed from both of those.</p> <p>We tried to give the best of both worlds, where we gave you this surprise and delight of opening something cool and hoping you get something fun and unique, and being able to give that to you very often, so it's not something you have to wait for but something you get showered with and get to enjoy. We looked at all of those things and thought, what's the best parts of that we can bring into our game?</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/heroes-skin-selection.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <p><strong>You said one of the priorities was making it feel like there's more frequent rewards, something a loot box really plays into that. Is it like, you also play Hearthstone and Overwatch and you think, 'oh that's a good idea' or is there some kind of Council of Elrond situation?</strong></p> <p>It probably feels like that but it's not, really. A lot of these mechanics and ideas are things we've wanted for a really long time&ndash;some things we wanted at launch. Some of these things we didn't have time to implement and some we weren't quite sure how we wanted to go. We got to have Hearthstone and Overwatch blaze a trail and say, cool, I like that, that works well, I want to do that, or leave that part out, or pivot it this way. I think more of our experience as players comes into play here than any kind of behind-the-scenes decision at Blizzard. It's much more about what feels good, what do we enjoy, what feels good.</p> <p><strong>One thing you have to balance more than a lot of other games is the esports scene. You're constantly adding new stuff to your game, but you're also constantly having esports competitions. How do you manage that to make sure you don't throw things into chaos too often but you also reward players?</strong></p> <p>Our priority is doing what's right for the game, so sometimes that means doing something that might be disruptive to esports. We have one little buffer which is that esports generally plays on a tournament realm, so pro players and esports can be played on a version of the game that might be a version or two behind. There's a little lag there. So if we're in a mode where we're rapidly changing a bunch of things because the game just demands them at that moment, it doesn't have to throw esports into upheaval. They have a little time to catch up and then it will update once we stabilize from the live game.</p> <p>Something very different about this game though is that we do constant evolution. We do patches every 3-6 weeks, we do major patches on the 6-week mark. We can do balance updates as often as every week and we do them when the time is right. It is changing a lot but that's part of the fun of this game. Something we value in our players is the adaptability. Teams make strategic choices, composition choices, the way they choose to execute&ndash;we like to see how they roll with that. So we stabilize enough that they don't feel like they have no ability to focus in and get good at something, but on the other side, the game is moving, and you got to move with it.</p> <p><strong>Do you loop them in when you're planning? I also follow Hearthstone closely and I know that they've at least once in a while looped in pro players to say, "this is what we're thinking about, what do you think?" Have you done anything like that?</strong></p> <p>We've reached out to individuals like that. We also try to front some of the ideas that we're kind of kicking around, either on our forums or on Reddit or whatever. We also use our PTR a lot to test things. Actually for Heroes 2.0 it will be a four-week actual beta, where everything from the beta will come into play so they'll be able to check out all the progression changes and balance changes. We're really big on getting that feedback, it's valuable to us.</p> <p><strong>It feels like you aren't overreacting to the current meta, per se. When you introduce new heroes, it isn't necessarily a response to this other hero that's very popular.</strong></p> <p>No, no, that's not the world we want to live in. We come from&ndash;our team made StarCraft 2, WarCraft 3, some&nbsp;made the original StarCraft, so we have this long history of making very tightly balanced competitive games. The lesson you learn is that knee-jerk reaction is going to throw you into total chaos. And if you listen to that kind of outpouring of sentiment about something being unbalanced, if you immediately just react-react-react to that, you miss out on everything else that happens.</p> <p>There's a moment of confusion and rejection and then they start embracing it and then they start doing amazing things with it. And we'd never get to that amazing thing if we were always like "okay fine, we'll fix it, we'll fix it." It's a very measured approach we take to this stuff. There's a big difference between something that's broken and something that players just haven't figured out yet. We try to make sure we're approaching it delicately and not undoing the work that we've done. We make all these things knowing that there are things that are going to happen that we haven't imagined yet. It could be amazingly good things, it could be amazingly bad things, but our preferred method is to watch that with minor course corrections rather than sweeping changes. Especially sweeping changes before things are settled.</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/NZkdtQ1fOZY"></iframe></p> <p><strong>That's one of those things we were talking about [during our play session]. Cassia's pull from the back-row is going to be something that everybody calls overpowered&nbsp;for the first weeks until they figure it out. Do you have those discussions? You know, "I bet this will make the meta do this," or "I bet this will make people think this."</strong></p> <p>We try to have those conversations but it's so weird how, when you get this to scale with tons of players&ndash;even with our team, we have hundreds of players on our team, playing this constantly, all about playtest&ndash;and then that barely touches on what happens when we take it to the company at large playing. And then that barely touches when we have one day of PTR on our game. It's just crazy how surprising it is, and we've been doing this long enough to know that we don't know.</p> <p><strong>So you find it hard to predict.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, our thing is that we want to make these tool kits to hand players and watch what we do with them. And we're watching at the extreme ends of that stuff, to make sure there's nothing bad coming out of it. We're constantly surprised by the good that comes out of it. I'm more surprised by the good things than the bad things. You kind of know when you get into bad territory, but when someone combos something or they do something amazing you didn't anticipate or wasn't by design. This game keeps growing every 3-4 weeks and we add new heroes, which gives you one extra thing in their tool chest. Watching the meta shift is really fascinating and rewarding.</p> <p><strong>From a branding or marketing perspective&ndash;my background is in marketing, so I'm fascinated by that side of the industry&ndash;this feels like a soft relaunch. Get new players, get back lapsed players, that sort of thing. Was that an objective or was it, while putting these tools together you thought, this is enough stuff that we should put a name on it?</strong></p> <p>It's a combination of those things. As we've gone along, this is a game we've been working on constantly and we've made massive improvements to, and I think the people who have been here the whole way, they see this as practically a relaunch moment. They give us this feedback. And we think, oh, that's cool, there's a lot of good stuff coming in.</p> <p>But for us, Heroes 2.0 is where we finally felt like these core components, most notably for this free-to-play stuff, was like: let's be good at free-to-play. Let's actually give them access to the stuff in our game, and so they don't have to pay money for it. Let's have progress that rewards all the time. That was something that was valuable to us and as players we weren't getting that out of the game, we knew that. We were looking for an opportunity to do it. I'm someone who plays the game every single day for hours a day. I do that without this stuff right now, but this adds an extra layer on it where I always feel like I'm accomplishing something, getting something back.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/heroes-chest-purchase.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <p><strong>And it feels nice, to unwrap a little gift.</strong></p> <p>Yeah, I mean, it's fun. There are people who stream just opening card packs in Hearthstone or opening loot boxes in Overwatch because it's fun to watch, hey, what did I get? That surprise is a cool experience, especially when you get stuff that's actually cool, good stuff in the game. This is a really cool moment for us, the game is in such a better place than what it was. So we are taking this moment to say, hey, check us out. If you didn't before, check us out now. And if you ever did check us out along the way, come look at it again, see all the amazing things we've done. It really is a different animal than it was at launch. It's exponentially different now. It was always a great game, it was always a fun game, it's just building all the things around it now that make it a great free-to-play game.</p> <p><strong>I think that's a key takeaway here. Now it's a "great free-to-play game," specifically. I want to pick your brain about what you see as the distinction and how you've seen the free-to-play market change since Heroes launched.</strong></p> <p>My team, and Blizzard as a whole, have predominantly made boxed products over the years. As a team, we would work on a product, for many many years as Blizzard fans know. It takes a <em>long</em> time to make a Blizzard game. We'd work on them, we'd release them, and then, whew, we're done. Then in two years we'll release an expansion, and that will be something that augments and adds new content and it's a big level up. Depending on the game, maybe there's multiple expansions, maybe there's only one, and then you go on to another game.</p> <p>We knew that Heroes was going to be free-to-play, we were going to spend a considerable amount of time transitioning from a boxed product to a games as service, which means we're always adding new stuff. That was a huge shift for us, it took us a long time, and I think we're just getting good at it now. This is three years after we really went to alpha, where we were operating it like a live game.</p> <p>That's a big shift, but the next thing is, what's a free-to-play game? Well, you can play it and you don't have to spend any money. We had that, you didn't have to spend any money. But there's this whole other world to it, where like, the vast majority of free-to-play players don't spend any money, because you don't have to. That's what brings in these huge numbers of players. So for us looking at it, we were like, it is technically free-to-play, but I think people come in and say, there's stuff that I want access to that I don't have access to. There's this entire section of the game that I can't play at all unless I spend money. We looked at that and said, let's open this thing up. We've made so much amazing content and only a fraction of our players have seen it. So this idea that we could expand the reach of all this, give people access to it, that's really exciting to us.</p> <p>And again, it's not what we're used to. What we're used to is a box where you pay your money and we say "here's everything!" You paid your money and we give you a box that has everything and you're done. This is a thing that's like, we're doing that but without the box. That's exciting because, we make games for people to play them. That's what you do as a game developer. Our focus is not about a business model or monetization, our focus is on making a great game. So this gives us tools to have as many people as possible see all the cool things in our game. It's a really cool opportunity for us and something I wish we'd had in the beginning, so I'm really glad we have it now.</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IAFwy0vU70I"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The hardcore gaming circle has an instinctive, gut reaction to the phrase, "free-to-play." It has a bit of a bad reputation. I think Blizzard is better than most at doing it right, but what do you see as the reason that gamers have that recoiling reaction and how have you avoided it?</strong></p> <p>There's a lot of perceptions, a lot of realities too, of games&ndash;particularly mobile games, because a lot of free-to-play has historically been on mobile&ndash;that there are things built in to the game that the point is really to corner you into a point in time where you have to spend money. There is a perception of that and I've certainly played games that I've felt that way.</p> <p>That's not our intention with Heroes. It never was. If there was a time that someone felt that way it would have been, there's a thing that I want, and I cannot get it. If I want this amazing skin, it's killer, I love Uther, I love the Judgement armor set, but I can't get it. I will just never be able to get it without spending money. There's something about that just inherently doesn't feel good. Even though, at the end of the day, it's a game but it's a business too. But when you're rationalizing that as a player, that sucks, I want that and I can't get it.</p> <p>I think we're trying to be the best player-advocates we can by giving you something that feels good as a player, without putting you in a position that doesn't feel good. What I want is, I want people to come play Heroes of the Storm. If they spend money, great. We'll give them opportunities to spend money but we're not going to corner them, we're not going to force them. This is about, come play a fun game and have lots of cool experiences. You can unlock all the content in the game for free, but if you want to spend money? If you don't want to wait for it or make the choice of spending your shards on this skin or that skin. But this is not a system where, we don't spend our days worrying about how we'll force you to spend money. We spend our days thinking about how to make the most fun game possible.</p> <hr /> <p><i>This Heroes of the Storm interview was conducted at a media event where transportation and accommodations were provided by Blizzard.</i></p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:30:00 PDT Steve Watts Who Would Put a VR Headset on an Ostrich? Samsung Obviously http://www.shacknews.com/article/99552/who-would-put-a-vr-headset-on-an-ostrich-samsung-obviously http://www.shacknews.com/article/99552/who-would-put-a-vr-headset-on-an-ostrich-samsung-obviously <p>The fight for consumer VR dollars must be really getting brutal. Samsung has stuck its neck out yet again&nbsp;in an ad for its new Gear VR; this time one that may not upset women, but could have the SPCA knocking on it corporate doors.</p> <p>Here's the setup: An ostrich accidentally gets its head caught up in a Gear VR, and uses it to learn to fly. Apparently, the scene the flightless bird sees puts it in a gorgeous sun-drenched clouded sky, making it want to get off the ground. Of course, adding Elton John's Rocket Man would add to any motivation. In the end, we see the shadow of the bird as it lifts off into the wild blue yonder. Samsung's tag line is "so you can do what can't be done."</p> <p>The ad tries to be clever, forgetting that an ostrich's eyes would never be able to properly use the device, or that the extra weight of the Gear VR might damage the bird's neck in some way. And that faceplant? Ouch! Granted, that <em>probably</em> wasn't a real bird, but it continues Samsung's history of&nbsp;strange marketing choices.</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hjKd24UCPYY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>This is nowhere near as egregious as some of its other ads, which sometimes came off as tone-deaf and even sexist. &nbsp;Back in 2013, Samsung paraded a bunch of <a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/samsung-gs4-launch-tone-deaf-and-shockingly-sexist/">1950s stereotypes of drunk silly women</a>&nbsp;during a launch event to promote it's Galaxy S4. Then later that same year, another ad had a male skier stalking a woman on the slopes with his Galaxy Gear Smartwatch after the guy had asked her for her phone number on the ski lift.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U8jsDWV8YpQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>And then to promote its VR products, it has had numerous ads where people rip off the headsets in terror. This was meant&nbsp;to show&nbsp;just how realistic VR can be, but people recoiling from your product isn't really the best look.</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:40:00 PDT John Keefer PlaneScape: Torment Enhanced Edition Offers a New Kick in the Nostalgia http://www.shacknews.com/article/99550/planescape-torment-enhanced-edition-offers-a-new-kick-in-the-nostalgia http://www.shacknews.com/article/99550/planescape-torment-enhanced-edition-offers-a-new-kick-in-the-nostalgia <p>Nostalgia is in full swing in the RPG space these days. From new forays into Wasteland, to Pillars of Eternity, and the Torment: Tides of Numenera homage, new isometric RPGs have been keeping fans busy, reminding them of the old days when the genre was full of choices for adventure and loot. Beamdog has contributed to that in its own way with Enhanced Editions of Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate II and Icewind Dale. Now, it has announced PlaneScape: Torment Enhanced Edition coming on April 11.</p> <p>Chris Avellone, the mastermind behind the original game in 1999 as lead designer, will help Beamdog make sure the game stays true to its original form. "<span>Beamdog has worked hard to ensure the feel and tone of the Enhanced Edition matches the original game, " he said in a release announcing the game.. "At the same time, they've also taken advantage of current generation technology to allow for improvements to the interface and feel--it's the best way to play Planescape: Torment, hands-down."</span></p> <p>In its previous remasters, Beamdog has added new content and new characters, but don't expect that this time around. "W<span>e deliberately didn&rsquo;t add any kits, classes, races, spells or items from Baldur&rsquo;s Gate or Icewind Dale to Planescape: Torment &mdash; Enhanced Edition. We felt that doing so would distort the unique atmosphere of the original game,&rdquo;&nbsp;a Beamdog spokesperson <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2017/03/28/planescape-torment-gets-an-enhanced-edition-from-the-remaster-masters-at-beamdog/">told VentureBeat</a>.</span></p> <p>So the game will stay true to the form that made it one of the best RPGs of all time.&nbsp;<span>&ldquo;We made a conscious decision not to tamper with the original writing,&rdquo; the spokesperson said. "For the few instances where new writing was needed &mdash; i.e., for a couple of additional journal entries, special ability descriptions and the Steam Achievements &mdash; Chris Avellone wrote the text personally. In addition, Chris requested to do an editorial pass of all the text in the game, and we happily obliged.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><span>The remastered edition will be available on Steam for $19.99 when it launches. and&nbsp;will also be available on Mac and Linux. iPad and Android tablet versions will run $9.99.</span></p> <p><span><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G2wXLCIpFRg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></span></p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:40:00 PDT John Keefer New Samsung Gear VR and Controller Coming for $129 http://www.shacknews.com/article/99549/new-samsung-gear-vr-and-controller-coming-for-129 http://www.shacknews.com/article/99549/new-samsung-gear-vr-and-controller-coming-for-129 <p>Samsung has held a leadership role in mobile VR space, with its Gear VR, but the space is getting more crowded, especially after&nbsp;<a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/97036/daydream-view-is-googles-foray-into-the-vr-jungle">Google announced its Daydream and a sensing remote last year</a>&nbsp;and then <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/98785/google-opens-daydream-vr-to-all-developers">opened it up to all VR developers</a>&nbsp;this year. Samsung responded at today's Galaxy S8 event with the unveiling of a new Gear VR and controller, coming April 21 for $129.</p> <p>While the new unit combo is much less than Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, it still runs a bit more than the old Gear VR and the Daydream, which ran for $80. However, the controller appears to be an upgrade over the Daydream one, as it comes with a good trackpad and trigger button on the back, making it fairly ergonomic in the player's hand.</p> <p>In addition, Oculus has improved its Oculus Home experience for Samsung, with quicker loading and clearer resolution. A VR web browser has also been added, which is actually readable while using the headset.&nbsp;</p> <p>Finally, Oculus has said that when the unit launches next month, there will be 20 compatible games, with 50 more planned to arrive a few months later.</p> <p>If you already have a Gear VR and don't want to upgrade, you can buy the controller separately for $39.</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:15:00 PDT John Keefer Heroes of the Storm '2.0' Update Gives a New Free-to-Play Foundation http://www.shacknews.com/article/99548/heroes-of-the-storm-20-update-gives-a-new-free-to-play-foundation http://www.shacknews.com/article/99548/heroes-of-the-storm-20-update-gives-a-new-free-to-play-foundation <p>Heroes of the Storm is getting some major changes to its underlying systems, albeit in a way that should feel familiar to players of Blizzard's other popular online games like Overwatch&nbsp;or Hearthstone. The team is treating this as a sort of soft relaunch, dubbing it&nbsp;"Heroes 2.0"&nbsp;to signify the breadth of the changes. They're ambitious, and you can start trying them out today in the open beta.</p> <h2>Ramping Up the Loot</h2> <p>At the center of the changes is a new progression ramp. Blizzard has found that high-level play was tending to turn into a grind, with wide gaps between rewards. It set about reorganizing its leveling structure so that players would feel rewarded more often. Rather than 10-15 hours of play for a single level, you'll now earn them after only a few hours. To that end, the Hero level cap has been raised to be functionally&nbsp;infinite. Your player level will be the sum total of all your Hero levels.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/heroes-leveling-curve.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <p>Each new level up grants you a Loot Chest, and you'll get bigger (Rare and Epic) loot chests at particular milestones. You can also receive Hero-specific loot chests at every 10 Hero levels. Some items will even be exclusive to chests, and if you get a bad roll, you can use in-game gold to reroll your chest. The goal is to make almost everything in the game available to players, including those who opt to spend no money at all.</p> <p>Those Loot Chests will feature some of the cosmetic items players already know, like Portraits, but the launch of 2.0 will also include several new loot types. Those include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Announcers:</strong>&nbsp;<span>Let some of your favorite Heroes call out your takedowns, kill streaks, and more</span></li> <li><b>Voice lines</b>: Cheer on your allies and jeer your opponents with quotable catchphrases</li> <li><b>Emojis:&nbsp;</b>A massive collection of stylized and Hero-specific Emojis make chat much more expressive both in and out of the game</li> <li><b>Banners:&nbsp;</b>Raise a flag whenever you assert your dominance on the battleground</li> <li><b>Sprays:&nbsp;</b>Make your mark on the field of battle by dropping unique icons and tags on the terrain</li> <li><b>Portraits:&nbsp;</b>Show off your personality and expertise on loading screens and in your profile</li> </ul> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/heroes-loot-chest.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <p>All of this is organized in the new Collection interface, which keeps track of all your items, lets you customize up to three Loadouts per Hero with your chosen skins, mounts, announcers, and more. You can craft cosmetic items using Shards. The update will also add Gems, which replaces the real money currency. You'll get 1,000 Gems as a reward for reaching Player level 5, and then you'll keep receiving them occasionally as you progress from there. Gold will remain in the game, for purchasing new heroes and rerolling Loot Chests.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 100%px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/heroes-emoji-diablo.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <h2>An Amazon Enters the Nexus</h2> <p>Finally, today's updates are also adding a new hero to the Nexus. To mark Diablo's 20th anniversary, Cassia the "Javazon" war matron is being added. Cassia is a ranged Assassin character who is especially hearty thanks to her Avoidance trait that grants 65 Physical Armor against Basic attacks while moving unmounted.</p> <p>Her Basic abilities include Lightning Fury, a javelin throw that splits in two after hitting its first enemy, and Blinding Light, which blinds enemies in a target area. Cassia can also do bonus passive damage to blinded enemies, whether or not she was the one to blind them. Fend lets her charge at enemies, at the cost of reduced damage to non-Heroes.</p> <div class="articleImage full"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/heroes-cassia-diablo.png" alt="" width="100%" height="NaN" /></div> <p class="p4">Her Heroic abilities are powerful and very distinct from each other. High-level players will likely get the most use out of Valkyrie, which can pull an enemy into her range from the back-line, and knocks away any other Heroes in her way. It's a great tool for breaking up enemy formations. Less seasoned players like myself can choose the set-and-forget Ball Lightning, which bounces between enemy Heroes and even Cassia herself, doing heavy damage each time it hits an enemy.</p> <hr /> <p><i>This Heroes of the Storm feature was conducted at a media event where transportation and accommodations were provided by Blizzard.</i></p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 PDT Steve Watts Red Dead Redemption 2 Release Date May Have Leaked http://www.shacknews.com/article/99547/red-dead-redemption-2-release-date-may-have-leaked http://www.shacknews.com/article/99547/red-dead-redemption-2-release-date-may-have-leaked <p>A European&nbsp;retailer may have accidentally narrowed down the release date for Red Dead Redemption 2.</p> <p><a href="https://www.vg247.com/2017/03/29/red-dead-redemption-2-release-date-confirmed-by-polish-retailer/">VG247</a>&nbsp;reports that the Polish retailer Media Markt listed the game's release at October 3. That in itself isn't too uncommon, as retailers often make placeholder dates that aren't necessarily correct.</p> <p>The added intrigue in this case comes from a reply given by Media Markt to a Polish game site, when it inquired about the source of the date. A Media Markt rep said the date came from the game's distributor, according to a translated reply. After the story was published, Media Markt's PR manager reached out to explain that the prior reply was in error. The store listing was also changed to a December 31 placeholder date.</p> <p>It's enough oddity in one place that this could be a genuine slip-up with some rushed damage control&ndash;but it just as easily could be a misunderstanding or error. October 3 is a Monday, so if this is legitimate, RDR2&nbsp;would probably hit on October 4 in North America.&nbsp;</p> <p>For the time being the official release date stands at the much more vague "fall 2017."</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gmA6MrX81z4"></iframe></p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 06:00:00 PDT Steve Watts Nintendo Switch Patch 2.1.0 Available for Download http://www.shacknews.com/article/99546/nintendo-switch-patch-210-available-for-download http://www.shacknews.com/article/99546/nintendo-switch-patch-210-available-for-download <p>Nintendo Switch System Update 2.1.0 is now available for download and it is&nbsp;a delightfully painless&nbsp;fast experience.</p> <h2>How to Perform Nintendo Switch System Update 2.1.0</h2> <p>In most situations, the Nintendo Switch will automatically download the most recent system update while it is connected online. You can <a href="http://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/22463/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xNDkwNzcxOTcyL3NpZC9mVXNTNFZ5NE5TMzlteWZITkdfTkZtdnR5SzdmbVR1VnYxMTc3alhYbzRZWVBPNVFqQmM2aUJKQUhsNG9ob1JtWSU3RWFvQ3FIM0g5aV9xN2V2ZHhqMVlPYWthUmVSb3NpZGFxVmxzYnk3ViU3RVpSMUpRTVJvN2JoOHpBJTIxJTIx" class="popup">verify your current menu version</a><span>&nbsp;and&nbsp;</span><a href="http://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/22418/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xNDkwNzcxOTcyL3NpZC9mVXNTNFZ5NE5TMzlteWZITkdfTkZtdnR5SzdmbVR1VnYxMTc3alhYbzRZWVBPNVFqQmM2aUJKQUhsNG9ob1JtWSU3RWFvQ3FIM0g5aV9xN2V2ZHhqMVlPYWthUmVSb3NpZGFxVmxzYnk3ViU3RVpSMUpRTVJvN2JoOHpBJTIxJTIx" class="popup">manually start the update</a><span>&nbsp;if necessary.</span></p> <p><strong>Verify Your Current Menu Version and Manually Start the Update</strong></p> <p><span>1. From the HOME Menu, select &ldquo;System Settings.&rdquo;</span></p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/hac-screenshot-homemenu-systemsettings.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <p><span><span>2. Scroll down the menu on the left-hand side and select &ldquo;System.&rdquo;</span></span></p> <ul> <li>The current system menu version will be displayed under &ldquo;System Update.&rdquo;</li> </ul> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/hac-screenshot-systemsettings-system_update.jpg" width="700" height="394" /></div> <p>3.&nbsp;<span>Select "System Update," to start the system update process.</span></p> <div class="articleImage full"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/C8DLMnGUwAoNLL1.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <p>The Switch warns you before beginning the update's download.</p> <div class="articleImage full"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/C8DLU2KV4AA7h5s.jpg-large.jpeg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <p>This update doesn't&nbsp;seem that big. I was able to download it in less than 2 minutes.&nbsp;</p> <div class="articleImage full"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/slack-imgs.com.jpeg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <p>Within 5 minutes, my&nbsp;Nintendo Switch was fully updated and ready to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nintendo's patch notes only state that <a href="http://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/22525/" target="_blank">Switch System Update 2.1.0 </a>&nbsp;provides "general system stability improvements to enhance the user's experience."</p> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:20:00 PDT Asif Khan Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City - How to Get Lapp's Armor http://www.shacknews.com/article/99544/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-get-lapps-armor http://www.shacknews.com/article/99544/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-get-lapps-armor <p>Characters in <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99535/best-levels-in-the-dark-souls-franchise" target="_blank">Dark Souls</a> games have fought a losing battle with memory loss, and Lapp, a character introduced in Dark Souls 3: <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99534/heres-when-you-can-play-dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city-dlc" target="_blank">The Ringed City</a>, is the latest victim of the undead curse. Our guide will help you find Lapp, take you through his quest to regain his memory, and acquire his armor.</p> <h2>Where to Find Lapp the First Time</h2> <p>Start by heading to The Dreg Heap, the starting point of The Ringed City expansion. Head straight out from the first bonfire and drop down to an ashy platform. Turn left and make for the ruins. Within, turn to the right to spot worn stones and drop down into the library.</p> <p>Leave the library and immediately hug the wall to your right. There's an angel nearby, a powerful new enemy that fires streams of projectiles. Sprint to the building up ahead, pass through the egress on your right, and hang a left. A nearby tower will collapse, forming a makeshift bridge. Take a stroll across the bridge and you'll run into Lapp.</p> <p>The easiest way to snag Lapp's armor for yourself is to kill him right here. By doing so, however, you'll miss out on the appearance of a fan-favorite character. Cut Lapp down if you cannot curb your avarice, or continue on.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/DarkSouls3-RingedCity-Lapp-1.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <h2>Finding Lapp the Second Time</h2> <p>Your next encounter with Lapp takes place in the Earthen Peak Ruins, an area Dark Souls 2 players should recall. Go to the Earthen Peak Ruins bonfire and you should see Lapp hanging around. Talk to him and he'll tell you about a treasure he's hunting for. You didn't have anything better to do, right?</p> <p>Trudge out into the swamp and go past the cottage. Beyond you'll come to a cave near large, thick roots. Enter the cave and follow the trail to its terminus, where you'll be able to pick up a Titanite Slab. Return to Lapp and talk to him again.</p> <h2>Finding Lap the Third Time and Fourth Times</h2> <p>Conveniently, Lapp moves to the Inner Wall bonfire. If you haven't found it yet, look toward the gate that leads to the elevator, then head across the room.</p> <p>Your fourth brush with Lapp leads to the item he needs to regain his lost memories. He's in the swamp. To find him, stick close to the left-hand wall until you reach a ladder. Climb up and move left into a circular room. Lapp is there. Your next objective is to find the Purging Monument.</p> <h2>How to Find the Purging Monument</h2> <p>Travel to the Ringed Streets bonfire and proceed through a metal gate flanked by suits of armor. Turn to your right and find a broken statue sitting on the ground. Words scratched into the wall above it read <em>Show me your humanity</em>.</p> <p>You need some distance between your character and the statue to make good on its demand. Return to the bonfire room leave through the door that leads to the swamp, then use a White Branch or cast Chameleon. You'll turn into a Humanity. Go back to the statue and climb the ladder that appears to a garden in full bloom.</p> <p>Grab any items you find and search for the Purging Moment. Return to Lapp&mdash;still in the circular room where you last talked with him&mdash;and tell him about your discovery.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/DarkSouls3-RingedCity-Darkeater.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="394" /></div> <h2>How to Get Lapp's Armor</h2> <p>Progress through the content to Shared Grave, a bonfire where you'll battle Darkeater Midir. Kill the boss, cross the stone bridge and follow the path to the right until you come to Lapp. He's back in possession of his memories and gives you a tip about a treasure nearby as repayment for your work in helping restore him.</p> <p>Approach the broken staircase, as Lapp instructed, and wait for a cutscene to play. Lapp reveals his true identity, a recurring character who should be familiar to long-time Souls players. Work your way back to where you last spoke with him and retrieve his armor from the ground.</p> <p>Are you eager to meet an old friend but haven't managed to find a way into the Ringed City? Check out our guide for <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99533/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city---how-to-access-the-ringed-city-dlc" target="_blank">how to access</a> the new areas.</p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:00:00 PDT David Craddock Astroneer Co-Creator Paul Pepera Has Passed Away http://www.shacknews.com/article/99545/astroneer-co-creator-paul-pepera-has-passed-away http://www.shacknews.com/article/99545/astroneer-co-creator-paul-pepera-has-passed-away <p>Paul Pepera, co-founder of System Era and co-creator of Astroneer, passed away suddenly yesterday, March 27. He was 31 years old.</p> <p>System Era Softworks shared the news on its blog. "Many knew Paul in this industry as an artistic tour de force. His talent left an imprint on this game industry that inspired countless others. He was one quarter of our founding team, and a boundless source of inspiration and beauty. Most of all to us, he was a warm and compassionate close friend. Somewhere, maybe a star burns a little brighter. Safe travels, Paul. We miss and love you."</p> <p>The Shacknews staff's condolences go out to Paul's friends and family.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/Astroneer-Founders.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="467" /></div> <p><em>Paul Pepera, third from right.</em></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:30:00 PDT David Craddock Destiny 2 'Last Call' Trailer Teases Worldwide Reveal Trailer on March 30 http://www.shacknews.com/article/99543/destiny-2-last-call-trailer-teases-worldwide-reveal-trailer-on-march-30 http://www.shacknews.com/article/99543/destiny-2-last-call-trailer-teases-worldwide-reveal-trailer-on-march-30 <p>Following months of leaks and <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99504/rumor-destiny-2-will-be-arriving-in-september" target="_blank">speculation</a>, Bungie revealed a <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99529/destiny-2-is-now-official-but-its-still-a-tease" target="_blank">logo for Destiny 2</a> earlier this&nbsp;week. Today, the developer and publisher Activision put out "Last Call," a short that teases a worldwide reveal trailer set for this Friday, March 30, at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET.</p> <p>"Last Call" stars Cayde-6, once again voiced by Nathan Fillion. Ol' 6 kicks back with a drink and waxes nostalgic about a battle that players have yet to experience. Odds are they will experience it when <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/98996/destiny-2-still-on-track-for-this-fall-activision-says" target="_blank">Destiny 2 launches</a>, purportedly sometime this fall.</p> <p>The worldwide reveal slated for Friday should provide answers to at least some basic questions. Will <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/96961/rumor-destiny-2-will-come-to-pc-as-well-as-consoles" target="_blank">Destiny 2 make its way to PC</a> as last year's leaks indicated? Is this the first in a series of character-driven shorts?</p> <p>Hopefully we'll receive answers to those and other questions during the worldwide reveal this&nbsp;Friday, March 30, at 10 a.m. PT.</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rQ4i0AT8c-M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:05:00 PDT David Craddock Best Levels in the Dark Souls Franchise http://www.shacknews.com/article/99535/best-levels-in-the-dark-souls-franchise http://www.shacknews.com/article/99535/best-levels-in-the-dark-souls-franchise <p>FromSoftware<span>'s Dark Souls 3:</span> <span><a href="http://www.shacknews.com/topic/dark-souls-3-the-ringed-city" target="_blank">The Ringed City</a>&nbsp;DLC expansion&nbsp;</span><span>caps off the third installment in&nbsp;the trilogy</span>. According to series director and FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki, it also marks the final piece of&nbsp;SoulsBorne content, at least from his studio. Last fall Miyazaki clarified that while he'll never say never, he was ready to move on.</p> <p>For now, the Age of Fire&mdash;or the Age of Dark, if you prefer&mdash;is at&nbsp;an end.</p> <p>What a ride it's been. In October 2009, seconds after finishing Demon's Souls, I turned to my wife and said, "I hope they make another one." FromSoftware responded by making four "other ones"&mdash;a trilogy of Dark Souls titles <span>bulwarked by </span>2015's Bloodborne, a Souls game in all but name. (You don't fool me, <em>blood echoes</em>.) These games became a fixture in my life. I've poured over 1200 hours into the series and anticipate playing at least that many more. My wife and I bought a second PS3 and copies of Demon's Souls and the first two Dark Souls games so we could play them together. We own two PS4s for the same reason. If the trilogy comes to <span><a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/98065/rumor-fromsoftware-might-bring-the-dark-souls-trilogy-to-nintendo-switch" target="_blank">Nintendo Switch</a></span>, I'll buy it again so I can play Dark Souls everywhere.</p> <p><span>Whether it's forever or for a while, </span>I'm not embarrassed to admit that <span>the end of Souls </span>has me emotional, and feeling more than a little reflective. SoulsBorne fans know that each game is defined <span>largely </span>by their&nbsp;maiden voyage through its derelict castles, its moldy sewers, its poisonous swamps<span>, its</span> shining cities and ashen shores. I spent some time selecting&nbsp;<span>one favorite </span>area from each game, and asked our Shacknews Chatty community to chime in with their picks.</p> <h2>Boletarian Palace</h2> <p>Demon's Souls (PS3; 2009)</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FpGbBxkEw9g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Demon's Souls offers a tutorial level, and while representative of what awaits you in the game proper, it's short and can be skipped after going through it with your first character. As any player-wrought message at the foot of its archstone will tell you, the real Demon's Souls <span>starts here, </span>in the first level of Boletarian Palace.</p> <p>The entirety of Boletarian Palace comprises my favorite area in Demon's Souls, but its first level deserves special mention. From the guided path <span>ending at </span>a portcullis that shows you how the level wraps in on itself to create shortcut<span>s</span>, to the red-eyed knight who's way out of your league, to the charred remains of soldiers who fell victim to the <span>colorless </span>demon fog, to raiding a dragon roost while ducking one wyrm's swishing tail and <span>dodging </span>its mate's fiery breath, this level tells you everything you need to know about what lies ahead.&nbsp;</p> <p>It took me nine hours to beat this level my first time through. Nine glorious hours of trying, dying, learning, and dying again. Every death taught a lesson. Every inch of ground gained since my previous death felt momentous. Every retrieval of my bloodstain and the precious souls it held aroused a surge of heady triumph. I pursued that feeling for hundreds of hours, sweaty-palmed, shaking, and delirious from joy.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Boletaria Castle (all 4 zones) is my favorite area in a Souls game for two reasons. The first is because it was my introduction to Souls and you always remember your first time. The more serious reason, however, is the level design. Things that still stand out: the approach on the first bridge and figuring out how to open the portcullis, the dragon nest, the red eye knight guarding the door to a secret boss, the executioner grounds, running on the bridge to avoid the dragon, The Tower Knight, chasing the fat minister to the Penetrators fog door only to have him killed by the boss, rescuing multiple NPCs, that damned blue dragon, learning to parry to deal with all of the red eye knights in 1-4, the three red phantoms representing the first three bosses, and finally the false king boss fight.</em> <strong>-Grumbeld</strong></p> <h2>Sen's Fortress</h2> <p>Dark Souls (PS3, Xbox 360, PC; 2011-12)</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k2C1V3PAkfc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>You could <span>point to </span>Sen's Fortress <span>as</span> the pinnacle of Dark Souls level design, and I would probably agree. Sen's struck me as the archetypical Dungeons &amp; Dragons campaign. No longwinded backstory, no <span>plot twists, no exposition</span>. Just you matching your wits against a crumbling old fortress rotten with boobytraps, narrow walkways, a healthy mix of monsters carefully selected to challenge any character build, a shortcut at just the right spot, and a boss you can slay in a couple of ways.</p> <p>What sets Sen's Fortress apart is its remarkable sense of place. Early on you have to run up a cramped <span>and tenebrous </span>stairwell, timing your sprint to avoid boulders <span>caroming </span>down<span> at you</span>. <span>You</span> emerge on the rooftop of the fortress and see a giant<span>, shackled and</span> dropping boulders <span>from a pile </span>down a hole.<span> That hole leads to a contraption, and the contraption is responsible for sending those boulders at you.</span> Turn the camera and you can see the cathedral roof where you killed not one but two giant stone gargoyles<span> some hours beforehand.</span></p> <p>In a franchise venerated for telling stories through progression and <span>environmental cues</span>, Sen's Fortress could very well be the cream of that crop.</p> <p><em>Sen's Fortress is the best zone in the series. A player can reach Sen's with bad habits. Lack of environmental awareness. Timidness. Poor timing. Reliance on one singular tactic. A player has to be truly dedicated to those habits to make it </em>through<em> Sen's Fortress with those same bad habits. It's a master class in taking a player and breaking every possible bad habit, from the moment you step on that pressure plate at the front door.</em> <strong>-ConfusedUs</strong></p> <p><em>Sens Fortress was one of my favorite areas in all of the Souls games. It has what I like about Souls most, exploration, areas that connect to each other in interesting or unexpected ways, awesome shortcuts that are a relief to unlock, a cool NPC to talk to and an even cooler NPC to summon for the boss fight. Boss fights are generally one of my least favorite aspects of the Souls series so the fact that the boss at the end of Sens is a pushover is not a dealbreaker for me. I let Tarkus handle him and sit back and enjoy.</em> <strong>-grendel</strong></p> <h2>The Lost Bastille</h2> <p>Dark Souls 2 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, and hopefully Nintendo Switch; 2014-15)</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gahgejkWr3c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>A chaotic development caused FromSoftware to scrap most of Dark Souls 2 approximately halfway through development. The team performed triage, salvaging <span>what areas </span>they could and <span>building </span>the rest<span> from scratch</span>. Pre-crisis, <span>many </span>environments were designed as sprawling, interconnected zones like the first game's. Post-crisis, the majority were shorter&mdash;densely packed with items and secrets, but lacking the grander scale and connective tissue that conveyed that quintessentially Dark Souls feeling of, "Oh, <span>that's where I was</span> an hour ago!"</p> <p>The Lost Bastille balances density and length. There are two primary wings of the prison<span>. You come to each from a different zone, and connect them </span>by opening a gate <span>where they meet</span>. Secret passageways abound, including one that lets you skip the Ruin Sentinels boss, one of the toughest encounters in Dark Souls 2. All of that, and great lore&mdash;King Vendrick feared the curse, so he <span>ordered his </span>jailers <span>to </span>round up <span>the</span> afflicted and quarantine them in the prison, leaving them to rot alone and afraid&mdash;to boot.</p> <p>Dark Souls 2's DLCS are regarded by many as the best <span>areas </span>in the game, and I agree<span>.</span> <span>But </span>Lost Bastille deserves recognition. It did a fine job appealing to players who preferred the first game's approach to level design, while achieving the density of secrets, routes, and goodies that helped Dark Souls 2 carve out an identity of its own.</p> <h2>Yarnham</h2> <p>Bloodborne (PS4)</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8DXyTP5bUPs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Bloodborne is my least favorite chapter in the SoulsBorne story, but that has little to do with level design. It's second to Demon's Souls in regard to atmosphere, and those two elements work hand in hand to set a mood bordering on terrifying. Yarnham, the game's main city, shines as a model example.</p> <p>Gothic architecture, feeble lantern light, winding streets choked with abandoned carriages and piles of rubble, enraged enemies dragging swords and axes and pitchforks&mdash;that's all well and good and creepy. When a certain action triggers the appearance of eldritch horrors straight out Lovecraft's most unsettling tales, Yarnham goes from disquieting to horrifying.</p> <p>The idea of unknown and unfathomably powerful and vile beings inhabiting our world, freely visible to those with an abundance of <span>curiosity</span>, chills me to my core. Returning to Yarnham to see FromSoftware's rendition of those beings hanging around areas I'd passed through dozens of times previously made me feel small and afraid. My mind trembled. I found it difficult to look at them for long.<span> I knew it was just a story. I knew they weren't real. Even so, a chill spreads through my chest and a pit opens in my stomach every time I look at them. I go so far as to avoid Google searches that might cause them to rise from the depths of search results.</span></p> <p>Lovecraft would be proud.</p> <h2>Lothric Castle</h2> <p>Dark Souls 3 (Xbox One, PS4, PC; 2016)</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="369" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Gi0bsBGaSq0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Lothric Castle complements Boletarian Palace. You begin each respective game in <span>its castle </span><span>milieu</span>. Over the course of the <span>stories</span>, you delve deeper. The castle reveals new enemies, challenges, characters, and items roughly commensurate with where your skill level should be.</p> <p>Setting aside Boletarian Palace, Lothric Castle makes excellent use of Bloodborne's tech, which undergirded <span>FromSoft's</span> swan song. Listening to the heavy tread of knights (complete with glowing red eyes) stomp around corridors never fails to get my blood bumping. Analyzing the layout of a room to figure out the optimal way to kill off the priests that heal those knights before they see you and rush you, and rewarding victories with shortcuts that deposited you at the most convenient points in the level, makes progression firm but fair, and memorable.</p> <h2>Honorable Mentions</h2> <p><strong>Tower of Latria</strong></p> <p>Demon's Souls, World 3</p> <p><em>Creepy, brutally difficult, packed full of secrets, and host to some of the coolest bosses in the game, as well as one memorable NPC who is not to be trusted.</em> <strong>-Rehevkor</strong></p> <p><em>Tower of Latria, particularly its prison section, remains one of the most nerve-wracking areas in any game I've played, and a high watermark for the entire Soulsborne series. The constant chiming of the bell, the ever-present death falls as you walk along narrow rails which make combat mobility impossible, the unnerving torture devices everywhere, the ball of tangled bodies in the basement, the massive arrow contraption on the bridge, the red phantom with the baby nail near the end, the deceiving boss with the balcony follower as well as the congregation. I'm not saying Latria my favorite--in many ways, playing through that area is torture for me--but it's so creatively twisted I can't help but admire it.</em> <strong>-kallanta</strong></p> <p><strong>Majula</strong></p> <p>Dark Souls 2</p> <p><em>DS2 isn't my favorite overall, but Majula really sticks with me. the music and the sunset is very mournful and evocative.</em> <strong>-dirge23</strong></p> <p><strong>Darkroot Garden</strong></p> <p>Dark Souls</p> <p><em>Darkroot garden stands out because I realized it was a game about much more than castle environments. Dark Souls is my favorite gaming experience of the last 10 years because it surprised me throughout.</em> <strong>-digweed014</strong></p> <p><strong>The Research Hall</strong></p> <p>Bloodborne</p> <p><em>FROM had done areas like this before, it has a more than a little bit of Duke's Archives in there...but the Research Hall is interesting for me and I spent more time co-oping there than just about any other area in the game. The music is muted, I don't really remember any until the boss fight. The puzzle of figuring out how to get through it was fun, and there are side rooms to explore and various paths that take you through the zone.</em> <strong>-grendel</strong></p> <p><strong>Brume Tower</strong></p> <p>Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Old Iron King DLC</p> <p><em>Brume Tower has some really solid level design with incredibly challenging bosses and monsters, wrapped in a really cool aesthetic. It uses a design that the Soulsborne games do really well: descent (see also Great Hollow, Blighttown, Stonefang 2), and makes you fight like hell for every shortcut, every room, every damn inch with a level of challenge that feels fair but also balanced exclusively toward Souls veterans (which it should be, as optional content). And it ends with one of the most challenging (and fun as coop) boss fights in the entire series: The Fume Knight. Great stuff!</em> <strong>-kallanta</strong></p> <p><em>It's great in a classic "Find the key to unlock your way to the next section" and all the elevator action with multiple levels with challenging enemies and amazing boss fights (main and optional) and the extra 'Challenge Dungeon' and boss. That was such a fun area that I went through it with randoms. I mean not just the boss fights, the whole area.</em> <strong>-AxeMan808</strong></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 12:35:00 PDT David Craddock The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Player Glides More Than 7,600m http://www.shacknews.com/article/99542/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-player-glides-more-than-7600m http://www.shacknews.com/article/99542/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-player-glides-more-than-7600m <p>The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is full of hidden gems, such as <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/99424/the-legend-of-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-korok-seed-reward-stinks">collecting all the korok seeds</a>. But one player as discovered a quick way to get across Hyrule, using only a glider, some fire arrows and bombs.</p> <p>At the top of Hyrule Ridge Tower, players will encounter a man who gives you a challenge to cover as much territory as you can before you land. Using the physics of the game world, a player decided to test just how far they could get. Using more than 300 fire arrows to light grass and cause updrafts, and more than 200 bomb arrows for explosions, the players was able to travel an amazing 7,615.8 meters in one jump. Of, course, extra stamina potions came in handy as well.</p> <p>The trip took more than 20 minutes, and the developers did build a reward into the game. Unfortunately, it was only a single silver rupee. The inventory used was worth probably 100 times that, but the innovation displayed made for a cool video.</p> <p>Check out how it was done, and please, do not try this at home:&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mQBXBFzcn88" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:55:00 PDT John Keefer Prey Weapon Turns Aliens Into Saturday Night Fever Travolta http://www.shacknews.com/article/99541/prey-weapon-turns-aliens-into-saturday-night-fever-travolta http://www.shacknews.com/article/99541/prey-weapon-turns-aliens-into-saturday-night-fever-travolta <p>With all the trailers coming out to hype various games, it is our duty as writers to come up with something to say that might entice you to watch these PR and marketing vehicles. In a new Prey trailer showcasing the powers and weapons in the game, an item called the Typhon Lure makes this easy.</p> <p>The lure apparently makes the aliens, known as Typhons, gather around as if disco music was playing, and raise an arm Travolta-style, prepared to boogie. This of course, makes them easy to kill, especially if you hate John Travolta and disco.</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/prey-travolta.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="385" /></div> <p>The trailer shows off a bunch of other Typhon powers that protagonist Morgan Yu can acquire, many that are derivative of developer Arkane Studio's other franchise, Dishonored 2. The lure is similar to Emily's ability Mesmerize, Lift Field works like Corvo's Windblast, Phantom Shift is Emily's Doppleganger, and even the Typhons look a bit like Emily when she is shadow walking.&nbsp;Maybe we have a merging of the franchises where the Typhon are descendants of the Outsider who have been corrupted by power.&nbsp;Some of the character designs <em>do</em> have a distinct DH2 flavor.</p> <p>That's not to say that Prey won't be a fun game, given how much play Dishonored 2 has gotten, but&nbsp;the overlap of art and animations is a bit glaring.</p> <p>Check it out for yourself. Prey will launch on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on May 5.</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Aro7eB53q8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:35:00 PDT John Keefer Call of Duty: WWII Could Really Be the Name of the Next Installment http://www.shacknews.com/article/99540/call-of-duty-wwii-could-really-be-the-name-of-the-next-installment http://www.shacknews.com/article/99540/call-of-duty-wwii-could-really-be-the-name-of-the-next-installment <p>In a move that may follow the simple, yet moronically, named Battlefield 1 in lack of title creativity, it appears that leaked images for the next Call of Duty may indeed peg the name as Call of Duty: WWII.</p> <p>The Family Video Gamers received some images from a source that included a logo and box art. The info was then turned into a video, seen below. Eurogamer apparently <a href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-03-27-this-years-call-of-duty-is-set-in-ww2">has confirmed through its own sources</a>&nbsp;that the images and title are indeed authentic. While the title is overly simplistic it does&nbsp;reinforce the promise of Activision that <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/98994/call-of-duty-2017-will-take-the-series-back-to-its-roots-activision-says">its next CoD would go "back to its roots."</a>&nbsp;The last CoD game set in a World War was Call of Duty: World at War in 2008.</p> <p>The title is being developed by Sledgehammer Games and is slated for release this year. The franchise rotates between three developers, with Treyarch and Infinity Ward being the other two. The latest installment in the series, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, did not "resonate" with fans, Activision said, prompting the return to what worked in the past.&nbsp;</p> <p>Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is still pushing out DLC for the game, having <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/98859/call-of-duty-infinite-warfare-sabotage-dlc-introduces-zombies-disc-read-errors-to-playstation-4">released Sabotage last month</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XTPhUavRfgY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 10:50:00 PDT John Keefer Mafia 3 Gets a Demo and Faster, Baby DLC http://www.shacknews.com/article/99539/mafia-3-gets-a-demo-and-faster-baby-dlc http://www.shacknews.com/article/99539/mafia-3-gets-a-demo-and-faster-baby-dlc <p>Mafia 3&nbsp;<a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/97140/mafia-3-review-beauty-tied-down-to-an-anvil">had some issues</a>, but that didn't keep 2K and retailers pushing it like it was The Godfather. The game <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/97518/mafia-3-is-2ks-biggest-launch-shipping-45-million-units-during-its-first-week">shipped more than 4.5 million units</a>&nbsp;in the first week, even though it was more Godfather 3 than anything else. But now you can decide&nbsp;as 2K is making you an offer that you can't refuse ... because its free.</p> <p>If you didn't jump on the game at launch, <a href="http://steamcommunity.com/app/360430/allnews/">a new Mafia 3 demo is available</a>&nbsp;on the PlayStation Store and the Xbox Marketplace. It's supposed to be available on Steam as well, but it hasn't shown up yet. The demo also coincides with a 50% off sale on all platforms. While Mafia 3 wasn't really our type of cannoli, it did win the&nbsp;<span>Herman Melville Award for Best Writing from the New York Videogame Critics Circle. So there is that.</span></p> <p><span><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cL7q2x4G1N0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></span></p> <p><span>In addition to the demo, 2K has released the net DLC for the game, called Faster, Baby. It opens up a new part of town that will let fans race around like they were Bo and Luke Duke outrunning Sheriff Rosco P. Coltraine. There are also new vehicle combat mechanics to help blow away the competition. And let's not forget more of that award-winning story.</span></p> <p><span>The DLC is part of the season pass that came with the Deluxe Edition of the game. Two more pieces of DLC will be coming,&nbsp;<span>Stones Unturned and Sign of the Times. If you don't have the season pass, the game will extort $14.99 from you to get it. It's Mafia, after all.</span></span></p> <p><span><span><iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/E7_vOAsaJW4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></span></span></p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 10:00:00 PDT John Keefer Rumor: Nintendo Direct Coming on April 1: Who's the Fool? http://www.shacknews.com/article/99538/rumor-nintendo-direct-coming-on-april-1-whos-the-fool http://www.shacknews.com/article/99538/rumor-nintendo-direct-coming-on-april-1-whos-the-fool <p>4chan is usually a rotting cesspool of bile, misinformation and intentional misdirection, and those are its better qualities. So "leaks" that come from there should be treated with all the seriousness of a tweet from dear old POTUS #45. However, even the proverbial blind squirrel occasionally stumbles on some nuts, as was evidenced with <a href="http://www.shacknews.com/article/98517/rumor-nintendo-switch-european-titles-leaked-on-4chan">a leak of a Nintendo Direct in January</a>&nbsp;that got almost all the information correct. Now we are getting another leak, and its up to you to determine what's nuts.</p> <p>Here are the details&nbsp;that are rumored to be released&nbsp;in an April 1&nbsp;stream (via <a href="http://nintendotoday.com/4chan-nintendo-direct-rumor/">NintendoToday</a>):</p> <ul> <li><span><strong>Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door HD:</strong>&nbsp;</span>A remaster of the GameCube classic for Nintendo Switch. In addition to bringing back the features fans loved about the original, some things are tweaked and balanced, like the back tracking in Twilight Town. The game is scheduled for release in October.</li> <li><span><strong>Super Mario Maker</strong> for Nintendo Switch:&nbsp;</span>A port of Mario Maker is coming to Switch with the Wii U features intact. This includes Amiibo support, Costume Mario, and uploading levels to Course World. A couple new course features are introduced as well, like slopes.</li> <li><strong>Breath of the Wild DLC:&nbsp;</strong>Gameplay is shown of the Cave of Trails, which was announced back in February. The new feature in the map shows players when enemy camps are nearby.</li> <li><span><strong>Splatoon 2:</strong>&nbsp;</span>A new trailer is shown detailing the game&rsquo;s story mode. Agent 3 must defend Inkopolis from the Octarians as they invade Inkopolis and try to steal back the Great Zapfish. Bill also talks about the game&rsquo;s ranked modes, which include the returning Splat Zones and Tower Control, along with a new mode. In addition, all 3 modes can be selected separately at any time, and are not tied to a time rotation like the stages. The game will also be compatible with the Splatoon series of Amiibo, and the Amiibo challenges from the first game are returning.</li> <li><strong>Virtual Console:&nbsp;</strong>Virtual Console will be starting up soon. NES and SNES titles are planned to start being released in May. Gamecube Games are indeed coming to the Virtual Console. Certain games that required Analog Triggers will have the option to configure the shoulder buttons to indicate a light, or full press. For example, pressing R will indicate a light press, or ZR will indicate a full press. Super Smash Bros. Melee will be available in early June, with Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Kart Double Dash coming in late June.</li> <li><span><strong>Indie Games:</strong>&nbsp;</span>Bill passes it over to Damon Baker, who announces release dates for some of the Indie Games described in the Indie Presentation back in February. Runner 3 will launch on October 12th, SteamWorld Dig 2 will launch on June 8th, Overcooked: Special Edition will launch on May 18th, Stardew Valley will release on July 13th, and Shakedown Hawaii will release on April 6th.</li> <li><span><strong>Ever Oasis:</strong>&nbsp;</span>Damon them passes it back to Bill to talks about upcoming 3DS games. This section starts with talking about Ever Oasis, which releases on June 8th.</li> <li><strong>Lady Layton:&nbsp;</strong>Lady Layton is coming to the US, and is planned for a 2018 release date.</li> <li><span><strong>Fire Emblem Echoes:</strong>&nbsp;</span>Details on the special edition of the game are given, as well as a deeper look into the game&rsquo;s world, and what the Alm and Celica Amiibo do. The Amiibo can allow you to summon certain characters from past Fire Emblem titles to add to your party. You can also scan previously released Amiibo of FE characters and add them.</li> <li><span><strong>ARMS:</strong>&nbsp;</span>The direct ends with the new trailer for ARMS. It details the game&rsquo;s story mode, and announces 4 new characters. The game releases on May 29th.</li> </ul> <p>So there you have the dilemma. First, it's 4chan. Then, it is on a Saturday, which is unusual, but not unheard of. But then we have April 1, the day when outlandish claims only believed by Fools are the norm and rarely, if ever, true. But, 4chan was right last time. A fluke? A setup to punk everyone the next time? Who knows. But there is your "news."&nbsp;</p> <div class="articleImage full" style="width: 700px;"><img src="https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/shacknews/assets/editorial/2017/03/mr-t.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="543" /></div> <p>Bottom line is don't get your hopes up. And if this <em>is</em> true and Nintendo indeed says nothing at all about Smash Bros., then the world as we know continues to make no sense.</p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:20:00 PDT John Keefer
Slashdot: News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters
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Trolan's LJ
Name meaning meme thingie
YIR... no, there's not enough to recap for that
Serenity Quiz
OMG, I made an LJ entry
Fun with LJTalk/Jabber/gaim
Deal with it. (I'm such a card)
It's blasphemy delicious!
Ups and Downs
Oh yeah
Pointless entry to signify life
Communications Update; Part Deux
Communications Update
CCNP... completed
Things you overhear...