Bioware Sees Management Shift Post Andromeda

An announcement was made on July 18 that the General Manager of video game developer Bioware, Aaryn Flynn, will be stepping down to pursue other career options. According to the report, he will be replaced by former “Mass Effect” project manager Casey Hudson, who left Bioware two years ago to work on an unnamed project at Microsoft that has yet to see the light of day.

Many in the industry are speculating about what is going on behind the scenes with this management shift. The harsh judgment by fans and critics of “Mass Effect: Andromeda”, the company’s most recent release, may be one of the sparks that lit this fire. Hudson had a large role in the first three “Mass Effect” volumes, and while the first two received almost exclusively praise, the third edition was criticized for its “tacked on” ending. Hudson himself took some blame for that at the time, and many fans forgave him once some more explanatory DLC came out, as well as an extended end sequence.

The problems with “Andromeda” seem to run deeper. While some have praised its action sequences and game play, initial reviews were extremely bothered by the weirdness of some of the facial animations. For many others, the thin characters, weak plot, and contrived romances, once the pride of Bioware releases, were the greater problem with Andromeda.

Also, Bioware has been trying to make its games more “open world”, which often makes tight story lines much more difficult to maintain, taking away from the heart of most Bioware titles. Their attempt at “open world” seems to have failed as well, with many fans complaining of repetitive, pointless quests and vast, empty spaces.

We will find out soon if this has any effect on the cancellation of “Andromeda” DLC. Likely not, as all of Bioware’s focus right now seems to be on their next project, “Anthem”.

VR Gaming Lands Hot Marvel Property

Virtual reality gaming is the future of video games but people just don’t realize it quite yet. Virtual reality gaming aims to bring about THE final note in immersive gaming as it will allow people to literally enter the games in every way that matters. The Oculus Rift has been the leading console for virtual reality gamers but that hasn’t been quite enough to really bust them to the next level of social acceptance and popularity. One of the big problems with VR gaming is a lack of popular, big name properties. This problem is looking like it will be solved as Marvel recently announced an Oculus-exclusive title.

Marvel is, of course, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world right now. Marvel is dominating the box office thanks to their partnership with Disney and they’ve got millions of fans following their every move. Bringing that kind of following to a fledgling enterprise like the Oculus Rift can literally be a game changing decision. Virtual reality gaming consoles have long lacked a go-to game to show casual players that it is a serious platform. Having Marvel come on board could change the entire genre.

Marvel’s Oculus-only title will be called ‘Marvel Powers united VR’. The game was displayed at the Disney D23 event this past week. Marvel Powers United VR lets players step into the cape and costume of their favorite Marvel characters to fight off waves of bad guys in a 3D, virtual reality environment. Right now there are 12 primary characters announced including The Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Rocket Raccoon. The game is being developed by the team at Sanzaru Games (Ripcoil, VR Sports Challenge). The Oculus needs a true game changer in order to keep up the frenetic and fast moving world of gaming and this could be it.

LoL Power Rankings

Competitive League of Legends is at the pinnacle of eSports. In ESPN’s latest edition of their power rankings, the standings turned as Samsung Galaxy took the number 1 spot. They overtook SK Telecom T1, the widely regarded best team in the world. SKT recently took a tumble with losses to multiple teams in the LCK, and analysts are questioning whether this is a permanent of temporary slump. Meanwhile, the top teams from the NALCS and EULCS round out the top 20. Unicorns of Love, Fnatic, and G2 are the top teams from Europe. TSM, Immortals, and Counter Logic Gaming are among North America’s top teams. Following a recent NA win at Rift Rivals, experts are project the NALCS to be top contenders for the world championships in a few months. The world championships will be a fantastic event held in the Bird’s Nest in China. For now, the power ranking are all we have to go by. Many questions remain, such as whether middle of the pack teams such as Cloud 9 can surge to the top. At the same time, G2 and SKT are looking vulnerable at the top. In the coming months, fans will witness the rise and fall of these rankings, which will largely determine seeding at worlds. While seeding is not the end of the world, it plays a massive factor as to who gets out of the group stages. League of Legends is a game of numbers, and statistics do not lie. The teams at the top of these power rankings have continuously displayed their dominance on the rift and through practice scrims. It is up to them to take this momentum and bring home regional championships.

Avoiding Identity Theft in eSports

Identity theft is becoming increasingly prevalent in online gaming. In League of Legends, a new wave of scams has hit users who unknowingly try to purchase free RP with a credit card. This method of payment has not been authorized by Riot Games, and it is not a valid purchase by any means. Even though the user is logged in to his or her account, the site is not safe from fraud. People will pose as Riot employees and try to extract important information. As players, it is crucial that you refuse to disclose your username and password. After the incident, make sure to report them via the report system. With enough attention, their accounts will be closed and the company can eradicate these imposters.

The support team of Riot Games is working around the clock to address this problem. Most of the frauds use pre level 30 accounts to send messages and trade champions. Therefore, Riot is targeting these low level accounts in the near future. A two step authentication process could help them determine which ones are fake and which ones are real. Because false positives are tragic for desktop games, they need to make sure that their system has no flaws. Champions, runes, and masteries all cost valuable RP that gamers purchase with credit and debit cards. While some MOBAs can get away with little security, LoL does not have this liberty. It is constantly under fire from the North American and East Asian communities. Tracking these hackers must be done on a region by region basis.

D&D Beyond Brings Tabletop Gaming Into Digital Age

March’s PAX East saw Wizards of the Coast announce a new digital tool for fans of “Dungeons & Dragons” in “D&D Beyond.” Described as a digital toolset co-created by Twitch-affiliate Curse, D&D Beyond will offer a searchable rules database, mechanisms for character and monster generation and easy inventory-tracking for players’ treasure. Adam Bradford, Curse’s lead producer, commented that while many players already use several home-made digital components in their gaming activities, D&D Beyond is a fully integrated digital product containing the entire 5th Edition library of Dungeons & Dragons.

Tabletop gaming has gone through several incarnations since D&D’s introduction in 1974. The proliferation of console and PC gaming fractured tabletop gaming into a variety of sub-genres, forcing WotC to respond by updating its core RPG, introducing the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons; an edition notable for how much it seemed designed to court players of MMORPGs. Compared to 4th Edition, 5th Edition was better received by players, encouraging a focus on gameplay over mechanical familiarity.

Bradford commented that D&D Beyond is the end result of extensive playtesting on the part of WotC; the initial playtest consisted of 160,000 individuals. The product’s Beta release will be free product and consists of the Basic Rules, a “Standard Reference Document” and the “Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.” Players interested in other material will have to pay. Digital sourcebooks will be priced at $29.99 and digital adventures will be priced at $24.99. Bradford noted that the core trinity of texts: “Player’s Handbook,” “Dungeon Master’s Guide” and “Monster Manual,” will be discounted at $19.99.

Regarding subscriptions, D&D Beyond will offer two tiers. “Hero” removes advertisements, allows unlimited character creation and access to home-brewed material. “Master” includes all Hero Tier content but also allows Dungeon Masters to share their purchased content with players within their campaign.

Disney Dives into Team Liquid

Disney has invested into Team Liquid, a gaming organization that has stakes in League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. In particular, LoL is one of their primary games that has taken off in recent years. Armed with a strong lineup of Lourlo, Reignover, Goldenglue, Piglet, and Matt, this team is looking to prove themselves in the NALCS. Disney has elaborate plans to help them. They will provide funding toward a gaming house equipped with bedrooms, practice areas, and rooms for analysis. With the right infrastructure, Team Liquid can get back on its feet and dominate the competitive scene. Disney is also providing mousepads and gaming chairs that will boost performance instantly. With the world championships approaching, Team Liquid is looking for any way to secure a berth for North America. Disney does not have a huge history in eSports, but they have the membership and money to back themselves up. This partnership has many implications for the future. Team Liquid is planning to use a 10 man roster once again, and this funding will go a long way to pay for players’ salaries. Disney has franchises across the nation, which means the team will have a home for whatever tournaments pop up. Riot Games frequently hosts championships in the Midwest and on the East Coast, so Disney resorts will be prime training grounds when the team travels abroad. In addition, eSports in not only limited to LoL. Disney is working closely with other games to provide the best experience for viewers and fans. The players will receive many benefits including an experienced coaching staff. Armed with the strongest weapons, Team Liquid has a promising few months ahead with Disney.

Total War: Warhammer II Promises Big Things

After the release of “Total War: Rome II”, many gamers and critics were of the mind that the entire Total War franchise was in serious trouble. After many great early entries, that one disappointed fans with its clunky interface and lack of story or even heart.

Many of those opinions changed with the advent of Total War: Warhammer. Initially, many feared that the company was veering from its roots in historical accuracy with this delve into a dark fantasy realm, but the game itself was received with wide approval from both the players and the critics. In fact, some have said it single-handedly saved both the Total War franchise and their parent company, Creative Assembly.

In fact, the game did so well that the sequel (and likely even a third game) have been the entire focus of the company. No other Total War game entries have been announced. Warhammer II is set to be out this fall, and the trailer is extremely impressive.

The Warhammer editions of Total War have done so well that Creative Assembly has made some promises in development that they have never done before. The developers have built in a special ability to link all the games together into one super map. If gamers have Warhammer and Warhammer II, they will be able to set up a game that allows your faction to spread its color across both maps, since Warhammer II will be taking place on an entirely different continent. The promise has also extended to the likely third edition of the game, which will tie in yet one more of the continents on the planet.

It is quite an ambitious undertaking, but Total War has always had a knack for pleasing fans, most of the time. If Warhammer II and III pay off as well as the first, you can be sure they will continue.

Possible PC Release for Kingdom Hearts 3

Blogs have been buzzing over Square Enix’s flagship title, Kingdom Hearts III, ever since transcripts of Director Tetsuya Nomura’s interviews began popping up on the web. In a Square Enix Presents E3 livestream, when asked about the release of the game on PS4 and Xbox One, the director confirmed they were keeping other DirectX 11 compatible hardware in mind.

The E3 livestream, which gave hope to millions of fans across the world, is once again on everyone’s minds. Thanks to an interview given by Famitsu, a well-known gamer in the Kingdom Hearts fandom, Tetsuya Nomura is once again on record confirming further consideration of taking Kingdom Hearts III to the PC. Specifically, after a solid release on the PS4 and Xbox One platforms.

Touching on the fandom’s expectations, and disappointment, at the time it’s taken to roll out a Kingdom Hearts update, Nomura argues that focusing on any other platform but the most oft-demanded, the PS4 and Xbox One, would be an injustice to those fans who have so patiently awaited its release.

There’s also Kingdom Hearts III’s operating system, Unreal Engine 4, which many developers use to create cross-platform games. Most games created on this version of the Unreal Engine are easily translated between PS4, Xbox One, PC, and beyond. In the same interview with Famitsu, Tetsuya Nomura acknowledges that Unreal Engine 4 makes Kingdom Hearts III’s release on PC a much easier feat.

Still, members of the Kingdom Hearts blog sphere urge fans not to get ahead of themselves, because Kingdom Hearts III is still a couple of years away from being played on our PS4, making the wait for a PC release an even longer one.

‘Doom’ Gets Epic Update: Version 6.66

Is there an RPG more iconic than ‘Doom’ in the world of PC games? We don’t think so. Bethesda has been on fire with their releases lately, particularly with ‘Elder Scrolls Online’ and the upcoming ‘Skyrim’ release for the Nintendo Switch. Still, Bethesda isn’t afraid to go back to what got them to where they are and revisit their legendary title, ‘Doom’. Just this past week ‘Doom’ got a hallmark update to the core game with Version 6.66. Far from just a witty titled update, Version 6.66 brings about a whole new experience for players diving into the ‘Doom’ experience.

The Version 6.66 Update brings about some pretty substantial changes right at the front of the game. Players will see that all of the released DLC content for multiplayer has been unlocked and made available. This DLC includes a slew of new weapons, maps, gear, and demons to battle against in the grimy and gritty game. There is also a neat progression system that has been implemented for evolving all of your guns and gear. As you level up you will see that you can aim for certain tiers to get specific item qualifications for you gears. This is a huge change from the ‘randomized’ upgrades that had been installed before.

On top of the new changes veteran players will be reset to 0 so that they can try out the progression system from a fresh perspective. In order to make up for the reset there is a ‘Slayer Badge’ being handed out to these veteran players to honor the hard work that they have put into the game. Among the other small updates with the Version 6.66 patch players will see refined menus, an improved HUD, and revisions to the kill card. This update will hopefully give ‘Doom’ some new life in the online world.

New Gaming Service Offers Custom PCs Tailored to Your Gaming

Once you play your first gaming computer you will likely never want to go back to consoles. Computers that have been optimized to play the newest games make for wonderful devices that offer power and flexibility right from your fingertips. Unfortunately there is a barrier for entry into the world of PC gaming and it is due in large part to how frustrating it can be to build your own system. The company NZXT is launching their custom computer build company, BLD, in order to erase these barriers and get gamers doing what they do best — playing games.

BLD seeks to bridge the gap between PC gamers and the sort of tech info that you need in order to become one. PC gamers learn to love all of the specs and the details that go into crafting a gaming computer but understandably a lot of people just don’t have the time, patience or aptitude to do it. BLD offers gamers the chance to scroll through a library of popular games and select the ones that they want to play. BLD then asks the customer for budgetary information before churning out a custom gaming computer based on their needs. This is an intuitive interface that skips all of the price checking and cross referencing.

Customers interested in the concept can go right onto the BLD website and get going. They’ll first select the games they are interested in before selecting their price range. After this happens BLD will lead them to a few optional computer builds and their price point. Clicking on any of these builds will lead them to a page full of spec details, price breakdowns, and an estimated FPS rate for each game selected during the first steps. Shipping is fast and the computers come with easy to assemble instructions.