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League of Legends is testing new disciplinary measures for 'extreme toxicity'

Posted by Shark (Admins) at Jul 22 2014, 10:50 AM. 0 comments

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The League of Legends community has an unfortunate reputation, but Riot Games is eager to change it. Lead Designer of Social Systems Jeffrey Lin has tweeted that the studio will test new disciplinary measures today (July 21), with a view to introducing them permanently should they prove effective. Punishable offences include "intentional feeding, racism, death threats (and) homophobia."

"Today, players that show extreme toxicity (intentional feeding or racism, etc) will be instantly (banned for) 14 day or permabanned in #LeagueOfLegends," Linn wrote. If the one day test run works, the company will roll out the policy permanently. Linn later clarified the new rules - and the way they'll be enforced - in a Reddit thread.

"We'll be testing one server at a time in small doses to monitor the effectiveness of the system carefully and minimize false positives," Linn wrote. "All Riot regions will get the same test at some point in the future. Depending on the results of the tests, we'll be rolling this system out more permanently on all servers."

"In the past, we've avoided publicly naming and shaming players; however, we've learned in recent months that being transparent is extremely critical to the playerbase's trust in our systems, so we've decided to do a compromise. If players complain about unfair bans for this particular system (so, have a ban year code of 2500), we're going to be fully transparent and posting the chat logs that resulted in the ban."

Lin also said Riot is looking at introducing measures to punish leavers and AFKs (away from keyboard). It follows a rather awkward situation last month when two League of Legend Championship Series players were suspended for "extremely toxic behavior".

Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Sunken King DLC review

Posted by Shark (Admins) at Jul 22 2014, 10:49 AM. 0 comments

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The biggest criticism leveled at Dark Souls 2 was that it was too easy. Players who had spent hundreds of hours in the first game found that many of the same tactics worked in the sequel. Maybe you had to dodge left instead of right to get past the Pursuer’s sweeping arc, but generally speaking, the old tricks still worked.

I thought about this as I died—again—while playing Crown of the Sunken King, the first part of From Software’s three-piece downloadable content set. My old tricks failed time and time again, forcing me to relearn enemy patterns and try new tactics. For Dark Souls diehards, that’s a good thing, though you’ll have to slog through some drab environments.

Sunken King adds a new item to your inventory: a dragon claw with a cryptic clue in its description. That item should lead you to the new content area, grafted onto the Black Gulch, behind where players fight The Rotten. That means you can’t get into Sunken King until Dark Souls 2’s halfway point, and even then, you might want to hold off until you have better gear. Use the dragon claw at the new altar beyond the Rotten’s arena and you’ll be brought to the new area. If you drop a summon sign here but don’t own the DLC, you can still be summoned in as a phantom. Think of it as a demo.

That sinking feeling

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The new content is split into three areas, starting with Shulva, the Sanctum City. I cross narrow ledges, activating platforms to reach areas, and spend more time jumping than in the base game. It never approaches platformer status, but I like the new emphasis on verticality. Enemies attack from above or below more frequently than before, and some of the best secrets in the early areas are discovered by trying to access rooms far above the ground. There are new environmental dangers here, too, and a better focus on puzzles and switches.

Sunken King’s enemies are all brand new, too. The basic Sanctum Soldiers are so heavily-armored and tightly grouped that I quickly had to abandon my magic-based build for a sword-and-board approach so I could parry attacks and do more damage. There are insects that spit corrosive gas and are far easier to kill, and undead witches that are strong against dark damage. Massive, blind bipedal dragons guard a later bonfire, and take a tremendous amount of effort to kill. If I aggroed two at a time, one was guaranteed to chew on my bones.

Fighting these new enemies was genuinely difficult. Sanctum Knights start off incorporeal, immune to physical damage quick to hack through you with their dual blades. It wasn’t until I discovered how to make them substantial that I could take one more than one at a time, and any time I heard a new phantom baddie, I was genuinely fearful for my stash of souls.

A few of the new knights have movesets remarkably close to your own. Dodging, parrying, and blocking these warriors felt more like PvP duels than cutting down mindless zombies.


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Totally boss

Sunken King includes two new boss battles (three if you count an optional group of NPCs). Both are more creative than many of the basic game’s guardians, who were often melee-based and easy to dodge in the early game. I won’t spoil either fight, but I will point out that there are two NPC summons for each fight, which helps even the odds, and one battle takes place in front of one of the most beautiful areas From has ever designed.

Unfortunately, that’s one of only a few standout landmarks in Sunken King. Most of the content is played against grey, monochrome environments that wear down on you after repeated deaths. Aside from a few key moments, the drabness of these areas makes pushing through a slog. Early on, I was concerned that I wouldn’t even want to continue to the end. Dark Souls 2 has few moments that drag, but there were points in Sunken King where the momentum slows to a crawl.


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But I pushed through, and when the final boss was down—and the crown of the Sunken King sat upon my head—I had played through ten solid, satisfying hours of new Dark Souls. For the devoted, that’s a hell of a deal, and there are still two more chunks of content incoming, with even better-looking environments and a few new lore details. Sunken King won’t do anything to convince you to play Dark Souls 2 if you don’t already love it, but stays consistently challenging for even veteran players.

Details

Price: $10/£8, $25/£20 for Season Pass
Release date: “Out now”
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: From Software
Multiplayer: Online co-op and PvP
Link: www.darksoulsii.com

Doom needs to prove itself all over again, says Bethesda's Pete Hines

Posted by Shark (Admins) at Jul 7 2014, 07:13 PM. 0 comments

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The biggest question hanging over Doom 4 is what it will actually be. Can id Software get away with another slow-paced horror shooter in the vein of Doom 3, or will they return to the simpler and more brutal template of Doom 1 and 2? Whatever the answer (and it'll most likely be neither of these), there's a fair bit of pressure on id Software to make good on their long-in-hibernation series. Just ask Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines.

Speaking recently to MCV Magazine (via CVG), Hines said MachineGames' well-received treatment of Wolfenstein: The New Order is exemplary of what the publisher wants: a somewhat tired IP reinvigorated again.

"The last couple of games were either 'ok' or 'not great'," Hines said of Wolfenstein. "It wasn't a franchise where people were desperate for the next one. Wolfenstein isn't Uncharted. We knew this would take some explaining. But developer Machine Games has now untarnished the IP.

"We view that similarly to Wolfenstein, because it's been so long since the last Doom game," Hines continued. "We are going in as if we need to prove ourselves all over again. We have no free passes. Nobody will assume this is going to be awesome.

"We are going to have to prove that this is something that's going to be fun and different that you need to pay attention to. That has to be our default position, we can't be: 'It's Doom, of course you're going to play it'. But that just makes us work harder."

Doom 4 will be properly unveiled at QuakeCon between July 17 and 20, but you'll need to be in attendance if you actually want to see it. In the meantime, check out what we want from Doom 4. We're not asking a lot.

Titanfall single-player would feel like "a step backward," says Respawn

Posted by Shark (Admins) at Jun 28 2014, 03:30 AM. 0 comments

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Bad news for anyone hoping for a single-player campaign in Titanfall: Respawn Entertainment founder Vince Zampella and Titanfall Director Steve Fukuda both made it clear in a new interview that they have very little interest in making it happen.

Titanfall seems like an ideal setting for a single-player campaign, if only because "giant fighting robots in space" has the kind of flexibility that lets scriptwriters get away with just about anything. But that's not the direction Respawn Entertainment wants to take the game.

"A single-player campaign? I don't know. I think we want to hit whatever part of the brain it is that triggers that feeling of a single-player campaign," Zampella said in an interview with CVG.

"To me it would almost be a step backwards," Fukuda added. "Doing straight up single-player just feels a little bit to me like going back to what you know."

There was some effort put into the creation of a single-player campaign early in the process, but Fukuda said there was a "big brain shift amongst the team" as the development went on. "At first there was a lot of resistance to going multiplayer only, but once they saw the game they were like, 'Wow'," he said.

"There's nothing wrong with a single-player experience. They should exist and they do exist and I would work on one," Zampella added. "But doing one with this feels almost like taking a step backwards."

It's an interesting assessment, if one I don't necessarily agree with. I might feel differently if Titanfall was priced comparably to, say, Team Fortress 2, but as long as it's carrying that $60 triple-A price tag, I'm going to have to insist on a little bit more.

Space Hulk: Deathwing lays down heavy fire in new Summer Trailer

Posted by Shark (Admins) at Jun 28 2014, 03:19 AM. 0 comments

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The Space Hulk: Deathwing Summer Trailer is packed with in-game footage, but it's really not very clear about what "in-game footage" actually is. It looks great, but I doubt we're going to see engraved bolter shells ejecting in slow-motion and bouncing off the blood-slick floor in the heat of battle.

It's right there in the opening sequence of the new Deathwing Summer Trailer, below the Unreal Engine logo: "In-game footage." My assumption is that because the trailer was created in the Unreal Engine 4, and the game is being made with the Unreal Engine 4, somebody somewhere decided that it qualifies. It's a silly stretch of the term, but healthy skepticism of the marketing angle notwithstanding, it's a pretty cool trailer, too. I'm not a "Warhammer guy" by any measure, but space marines, armed and armored beyond all sane limits, holding the line against hordes of onrushing alien monsters? That's my kind of game.

Sadly, the text accompanying the trailer doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know: It's an FPS based on the Warhammer 40,000: Space Hulk game being developed by Streum On Studio, the guys who did E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy. There's still no release date info, but the tail end of the trailer does confirm that a PC version is in the pipe.



Battlecry hands-on: swinging blades in Bethesda's new F2P action game

Posted by Shark (Admins) at May 28 2014, 04:16 PM. 0 comments

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Bethesda is making a free-to-play, third-person multiplayer action game called Battlecry. Announced today as a PC exclusive, Battlecry is in the hands of a new team that formed in 2012 specifically for the project, BattleCry Studios. Earlier this month I was invited to play Battlecry with other members of the press, and today I can share what I thought of it after a few rounds.

Broadly, Battlecry felt like a mostly-melee cousin to Team Fortress 2 played in third-person. The most noticeable similarity is in Battlecry’s art, which bears Team Fortress 2’s smoothness and color palette (and why wouldn’t it, with ex-Valve art director Viktor Antonov working on Battlecry); one map we were shown had a spiraling, vertical piece of machinery that looked a lot like an 18th-century Granary. There’s an assassin class character, the Duelist, who can go fully invisible like TF2’s Spy. And while there’s no Medic class, each character can spend “adrenaline,” which fills by notching kills, to make their fighter nearly invincible and much stronger for a brief time—effectively a Kritzkrieg and ÜberCharge rolled together.

The moment-to-moment combat of Battlecry felt loose and arcadey, a bit like Smite, but more frantic and played at much higher speed. I had a lot of success as the Enforcer class, the tank of the five total playable characters, who wields a massive sword that reminds me of Cloud’s Buster blade in Final Fantasy VII. I’d wade into a pack of enemies who were already engaged, dropping a radial attack to swirl my blade around me like an Olympian preparing to throw a hammer.

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It might’ve been the inexperience of me and the other press playing Battlecry for the first time, but most of the encounters came down to numbers and attrition rather than execution, it felt like. Teammates would swarm, everyone would focus on a single target, and we’d eventually scatter or encounter a group bigger than ours, die, respawn, and repeat. There was very little synergy on display between the classes, and no reason that I experienced to pause, wait, communicate, or plan a deliberate attack. Admittedly, only three of the five classes were available to play—the last being the Tech Archer, a ranged specialist.

Uninspiring as this first hands-on was, I ended the demo with some appreciation for how agile characters are in Battlecry. Your base footspeed is a step or two below TF2’s Scout, and granting everyone with that kind of velocity made for a few fun pursuits and evasions during my demo. Something this speed seemed to undermine, though, was the sense of flow and permanence to the match—because everyone could move so quickly, there was never any sense of a frontline or progress to our matches, just dozens of players scrambling around the open, unobstructed maps to find each other, mash their abilities, and search for more targets.

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Multiplayer melee games have been a tiny trend in the past year or two (War of the Roses, Chivalry), and I’m glad to see another game join that fray. After playing Battlecry, though, I don’t have a clear read on what it’ll offer to pull me away from the other multiplayer games I’m devoted to. The maps we played felt needlessly spacious, and Battlecry felt too loose in its hit detection and movement to be a good candidate for a game I’d play competitively. On the other hand, it also didn’t have many of the trappings of a great, playful casual game; its seriousness wasn’t contrasted by wry one-liners or dark humor, just the brightness of its art.

Battlecry’s adoption of some of TF2’s traits is a good approach, but I worry that the game is arriving at a time when the sun feels like it’s setting on TF2’s appeal (probably the third or fourth most-played game on Steam today, admittedly). It’ll be interesting to see what else Battlecry will have to offer—and how players respond to it—when it goes into beta in 2015.
 
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