Black Ops II Vengeance DLC Hits PS3 And PC On August 1st

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance DLC is now available on Xbox 360 as per usual, but Activision has finally dated the map pack for a PS3/PC release.

It’ll hit said platforms on August, 1st, 2013, coming with four amazing maps and, because it’s Treyarch, a Zombie map.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance delivers four new, diverse multiplayer maps:

  • Cove: The stage is set for all-out conflict on this small, forgotten island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with players battling it out amongst the wreckage of a jet that crash-landed during a smuggling operation gone wrong.
  • Detour: A destroyed suspension bridge, high above an East Coast waterway, packed with scattered vehicles, exposed iron and collapsed pavement where the head-to-head action will play out on multiple levels.
  • Rush: Get ready for fast, close-quarters engagements in this paintball course turned full-combat arena, giving players new opportunities and challenges to use the cover to their advantage.
  • Uplink:  In this re-imagined adaptation of the fan-favorite multiplayer map “Summit” from the original Call of Duty®: Black Ops, players clash deep in the rain-soaked jungles of Myanmar, high atop a hi-tech mountain facility.

Treyarch continues to expand the Zombies story world in imaginative, mind-tripping ways with“Buried.”  Once players meet up with the four survivors of Tranzit, they’ll begin to encounter the undead residents of an abandoned underground Old West mining town.  A healthy arsenal of equipment and weapons will be at players’ disposal, but with one very special addition – something so powerful it will also appear in all other Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies maps (with the purchase of Vengeance DLC) –  the Ray Gun Mark II.

It’s yours for $14.99.

PS4 Will Rekindle Diversity Of PSone Era, Sony Says

ps4markcernyA beautiful Eurogamer article on Mark Cerny’s time at the Develop Conference in England today, where he spoke about PS4, and how a ”renaissance of gaming” was being fueled by the independent game development community that would usher in a PSOne-like era on the new console. Full article below.

The PlayStation 4 will rekindle the diversity of games last seen during the PSone era, Sony has said.

During his keynote presentation at the Develop Conference in Brighton this morning, PS4 chief architect Mark Cerny predicted a “renaissance of gaming”, fuelled by indie titles, that will echo the early years of PlayStation.

“With PSone there was no way to make an indie title,” he said. “The hardware didn’t support digital downloads and all games were distributed on CD-ROMS. There was no way for creators to directly reach their audience.

“But triple-A game development was very different than it was today. Crash Bandicoot, which sold six million units, was created by just seven people. A typical individual would contribute broadly in the creation of a game.

“Due to small team sizes the barriers to creating new types of experiences were quite low, and consequently the diversity of games available at retail was quite high. As a result, there was a certain fun factor that was an intrinsic part of the PlayStation DNA in those years.

“Concept-driven titles like PaRappa the Rapper, Devil Dice and Intelligent Cube were well received by the game playing audience and each went on to sell over a million units.”

This diversity was lost on PlayStation 2, Cerny explained, because development teams had to get bigger to realise the power of the console. And the problem only accelerated with the arrival of PlayStation 3.

Now, after breaking down a number of barriers to indie development on PlayStation, Sony has made steps to help the sector thrive.

It’s streamlined its processes, made game development easier on its raft of platforms and boosted the discoverability of indie titles to ensure they can be found on the PlayStation Store.

“The console audience has woken up to the potential of indie games,” Cerny said, pointing to the success of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series.

“With the release of PlayStation 4, we understand we have an opportunity to fundamentally alter the landscape of gaming.”

The PS4′s PC-like architecture makes it easier to develop original titles directly on the platform, he said. “Even if the games use simpler graphics engines, the increased system memory means it’s trivial to support larger animation sets or more detailed virtual worlds.

“On PS4, I believe the indie paradigm will have the hardware as enabler, not as the central player, which is to say that Octodad isn’t about the triangle count, it’s about keeping your cephalopod nature a secret from your human family.”

Cerny praised Sony Computer Entertainment’s publisher and relations specialist Adam Boyes for spearheading the company’s drive to increase the number of indie titles on PlayStation.

“On the business side, we’ve had a bit of an epiphany,” Cerny said. “Since Adam Boyes joined SCE, pretty much the whole process has been overturned. He wanted us to look at the day in the life of an indie developer, and challenged us to explain whether our processes were helping or hindering the creation of the diverse titles we were looking for.

“We ended up radically simplifying concept approval. We fully support self-publishing across all platforms, so it’s now possible for developers to maintain complete creative and financial control. We now pretty much support any business model, whether it be buy-to-play, free-to-play, episodic or micro-transactions. And we’re doing what we can to support indie development financially as well, whether that be through loaner dev kits or our incubation program or direct support from the Pub Fund.

“We also understand that accessibility is paramount. So we’ve gone from putting our process out front to putting people out front, which is to say your indie journey on PS4 as a developer begins by tweeting Shahid Ahmad, not by filling out a form.”

And with PS4, expected to launch this November, improvements to the user interface should help, too. Cerny noted the Share button, which will allow gamers to “easily elevate” the experiences they enjoy, before revealing digital distribution is getting increased prominence, with buying games on the PlayStation Store “radically simplified”.

“So, as a result of these technical, business and platform factors, we believe that a renaissance of gaming is coming on PS4,” Cerny concluded. “Heavy content will thrive on the platform, but in many ways we will also be returning to the creative freedom and broad content that made the early years of PlayStation so unforgettable.”

The Secrets Behind Watch Dogs’ Next Gen Experience

watch-dogsUbisoft has gone into detail about what makes its highly-anticipated game Watch Dogs the definitive next-gen experience, highlighting dynamism, flexibility, impact and connectivity. The full story below.

The Secrets Behind Watch Dogs’ Next Gen Experience

Building an open-world game ain’t easy. Without a strong foundation, everything can quickly collapse. In the case of Watch Dogs that foundation is the Disrupt engine, the product of over four years of dedication and tests and trials. In that time Ubisoft Montreal has built an engine that’s both flexible and efficient, while allowing for an astounding level of detail and a seamlessly online environment.

Senior Producer Dominic Guay breaks down this awe-inspiring engine into three parts: dynamism, impact on the city, and connectivity. And because the Disrupt engine was built specifically to power Watch Dogs, we also uncovered a healthy helping of new gameplay details to go along with all the tantalizing tech talk.

Dynamism

The surface layer of the Disrupt engine is focused on what Guay describes as “dynamism,” or the simulation systems within the game: “In our city we simulate the way people drive cars. The electricity is simulated. The water is simulated. The wind is simulated. Everything reacts to everything. Making all those systems talk to one another is where you get branching reactions.”

Take the rain, for example. When the sky starts to open up, civilians will pull out umbrellas. The lights reflect off wet surfaces. We can see the wind shifting the direction of the rain and blowing debris around. Even leaves and trash on the ground will begin to appear damp and weighted down by moisture. These small but significant details lend an unparalleled level of immersion to Watch Dogs.

Even the clothing comes to life in Watch Dogs. It boggles the mind to think about just how long was spent getting the simple act of Aiden putting his hands in his pockets to look just right. The wind pulling at a passerby’s clothing will cause them to tighten their jackets. “Everyone on the street should have clothing simulation,” Guay says. “We want to see it blow in the wind and move with them.”

These are merely the “details,” though. Something major like a car crash will create a widespread ripple effect. Civilians will get caught up in a traffic jam and start honking or even leave their cars to investigate. Others will be injured in the wreck. Onlookers will alert emergency response teams. It all combines to offer an unprecedented amount of realism in a videogame.

Impact

As important as those details are, a game isn’t made with raindrops and dynamically generated bullet holes alone. Also important are the ways in which a player can affect the entire city, primarily noticeable through its residents. While there’s no simplistic back-and-white morality system in Watch Dogs, Aiden’s actions will trigger reactions from the game’s NPCs. We got the breakdown from Animation Director Colin Graham: “The reputation system isn’t a good or evil meter. It’s actually the perception people have of your actions. It completely affects how the city will react to you. If you run around just taking everybody out and killing tons of people, the citizens are going to think you’re kind of a jerk and they’re going to call the cops every time you do something wrong. You’re going to get spotted by the media more.”

In other words, should you choose to play the game in a more openly violent fashion – gun constantly in hand, killing indiscriminately in front of civilians – the people of Chicago will be more liable to turn on you. They will call the police when they see you, and your face will wind up on the news a lot more often. “We think it’s much more empowering to the player if he feels like he has made an impact on the city,” Guay elaborates. “We want him to make his own decisions instead of us forcing decisions on him.”

Connectivity

In Watch Dogs, you can go from being connected and online with other players to being fully disconnected – without affecting the world or changing the environment. That’s no small feat, and this seamless connectivity is another key pillar of the Disrupt engine. “There’s no loading or matchmaking or waiting for a game to start,” Guay says. “That means that every single thing in the game needed to be ready to be synchronized with the network. Every aspect of animation and physics and the AI needed to work online with other players.”

But don’t worry about thousands of stalkers, hackers and griefers ruining your day. When you’re in your game, you won’t see other players just running around wreaking havoc. That would diminish the immersion Disrupt works so hard to build. The only time another player will actually enter your world is when they accept a contract with your name on it. From there they can creep through your city streets, stalking you until they decide to strike. They will appear to you as any other Chicagoan, just like you would appear nondescript to them should you invade their game. There will never be two Aidens on the screen.

Though the engine is built with this connectivity in mind, it can be turned off for players who prefer to explore unhindered by any outside influences. The multiplayer will also be unavailable during story missions, so you don’t need to worry about hackers while you’re in the middle of an important moment.

Flexibility

We know not everyone will be rushing out to buy the new PS4 or Xbox One right away and that’s totally okay. Enter the “fourth pillar” of Disrupt: The engine was built for next-gen, but it’s flexible enough to allow owners of current-gen systems to still get an amazing experience. “We knew we would have next-gen hardware coming out before we ship,” Guay says. “But we started off knowing we wanted to support PS3 and Xbox 360.” The trick is in knowing how to scale things appropriately for both console generations. This allows designers to keep the overall experience the same. “On current-gen systems we may need to cut down the number of people on the street a little, but it’s still the same game. You don’t get the same sense of the crowd, but it allows us to scale certain bits and keep the same experience.”

Graham illuminates the graphical differences: “Players are going to know they aren’t getting a bad experience if they play Watch Dogs for the current gen, but the next gen is the real HD experience. You can zoom in another level. You can have better shaders, better simulation on the wind or the water, more particles, better atmospherics… Basically anything you can get with more computing power.”

So have no fear if you plan on playing Watch Dogs on the PS3 or 360. There are no trimmed-down mechanics to make you feel as though you are missing out on the core experience. Watch Dogs is truly a next-gen game – not just in terms of offering cutting edge graphical performance on the next generation of consoles, but also when it comes to the gameplay, the immersion and the seamless online experience. And that’s due in large part to a great foundation: the Disrupt Engine.

The Elder Scrolls Online Won’t Be A Half-Baked Game, Bethesda Says

The-Elder-Scrolls-OnlineWhile many have criticized The Elder Scrolls Online for not being on par, or even close to the quality of Skyrim, Bethesda reckons that the days are still early, and come next spring when the game launches, much would have been improved, and Skyrim-like support is part of the strategy.

That’s what marketing VP Pete Hines said speaking to MCV, (MC V/ Issue 746), adding that the game ”is a longer-tail thing. But in terms of support, marketing and importance it is certainly equivalent to Skyrim.”

“It is a big game that is part of our biggest franchise. There is no way that we would half-way it for something that important,” he continued. “It’s still early, but as we move towards launch next spring, we plan to do a lot of the same kind of things we did with Skyrim in terms of support.”

“We hope [The Elder Scrolls Online] becomes a game that incorporates everything you’ve come to love about an Elder Scrolls game,” Hines added, “but with the online ability to play with friends, meet folks and take part in giant PvP battles. We want it to feel like an Elder Scrolls game.”

The Elder Scrolls Online will release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in Spring 2014.

Thanks, Videogamer.

PS4 Won’t Overheat, It Consumes Less Power, Mark Cerny Assures

playstation4The PS4 is small, slick and beautiful – but will it overheat? No, says the console’s chief architect Mark Cerny, because the boys in Japan know what they’re doing.

His answer came in response to a question from Gamereactor, alluding to the skin-tanning sun now baking Spain.

Said Cerny:

I think it will be fine. They know how to design the console so it doesn’t overheat. If you notice that PlayStation 4 is smaller, it’s because power consumption is less; simple as that.

Nice answer. PS4 comes out later his year.

Killzone Mercenary Beta Now Open For Applicants

killzonemercenaryGamers interested in taking part in Killzone Mercenary’s beta, can now sign up for the action.

Users have until 2 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, July 17th to sign up for the beta. Those chosen will be notified via email with instructions regarding how to participate.

While gamers accepted into the beta will not need to sign a nondisclosure agreement, Sony reminded gamers that the closed beta is confidential and that all beta test materials may be serial numbered for tracking purposes.

“Disclosure of any part of the beta test materials to any third party, including but not limited to any trade or consumer press, news agency or any competitor of SCEA, will cause significant and irreparable harm to SCEA, the extent of which may be difficult to ascertain,” Sony said.

It launches on September 4th in Europe and the 10th of the same month in the US (thanks, Baran), and uses the same engine as Killzone 3. The single-player campaign to Killzone: Mercenary will feature nine missions that are reportedly each close to an hour long, and the game will include an eight-player multiplayer mode spread across six maps and three gametypes.

Weekend Quencher 07/14/13 – Christos Is Back! Edtion

secondson-660x330Today is Sunday, I know. Very late day for the Weekend Quencher, but you must forgive me as my wife and I were celebrating 6 six years of marriage all this weekend! It’s been awesome having a wife who loves gaming, and supports my dreams, as I do hers! So yeah, we’ve been having a blast, hotel jumping and all that.

In other BIG news, Christos is back from the Army and ready to start work on the site again tomorrow! Time passes so fast! It seems like only yesterday he said his temporary goodbye, and now the man is back! I cannot believe it’s been nine months already, but I’m very, very happy to have my partner and friend Christos Chatzisavvas report for duty! Good times ahead!

We have so much to share with you all, but we’ll keep our excitement bottled until the time is right.

So yeah, that’s that. What have you guys been up to? Anybody checked out Pacific Rim? I heard it was good. What about games, everyone’s still in The Last of Us? Battlefield 3? Call of Duty: Black Ops II? Let’s hear it, and have a blessed one!

PS4′s DualShock 4 Lightbar Can’t Be Turned Off

dual_shock_4You won’t be able to turn off the lightbar on PlayStation 4′s DualShock 4, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has made known via twitter.

When quizzed about the feature, Yoshida responded with a simple “no”.

In addition to working in conjunction with the PS4′s camera to determine the controller’s position in 3D space, the lightbar can be used to enhance the game experience – an example is Killzone: Shadow Fall which uses the lightbar to display player health.

There doesn’t seem to be a problem with the lightbar staying on at all, but some have raised the idea of battery life being drained, or the light being reflected on television screens, potentially obstructing gaming sessions which, I must say, still doesn’t make that much sense either.

What’s your take on this? Share your thoughts in the comments!