Year six, eh Ubisoft? Not a bad milestone all thing's considered, but we do expect you to go all out given the numerical significance. So while old Crimson Heist is a solid start, consider this us putting you on notice.
Go big, or go home.
Or not. *Ahem*. Speaking of Crimson Heist, we had a chance to get some serious hands-on time with the upcoming content while also looking at some of the bigger changes coming to Rainbow Six Siege in 2021.
Year 6 for Siege will see the implementation of a "Reputation System" which should hopefully lead to a more positive environment in the game. The System has been working for some time now, and will continue to gather data throughout Year 6 even before the Reputation feedback itself is implemented — this is how they're going to try to stop people from gaming it and circumventing their rulesets.
Toxic players will suffer consequences like Ranked matchmaking bans, voice chat bans and others, while good players can expect to see some rewards — although Ubisoft hasn't yet revealed what those rewards might be.
This is a good move, in my opinion, and something a lot of long-term competitive style games have eventually implemented. No player should have to put up with toxicity from their teammates or opponents, and if the only way to stop players from being toxic is consequences, then so be it.
Internally during development of what would become Rainbow Six Siege, the project was actually dubbed "Rainbow Six Unbreakable" in reference to team bonding, but as the game's destructibility grew and grew, calling it Unbreakable became untenable, thus giving birth to Rainbow Six Siege.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is set to get its first major content drop soon, with the big 9.1 Chains of Domination set to continue the story in the afterlife and even bring to the for a massive showdown with Sylvannas as part of the new Raid. Ahead of the Blizzconline announcement we sat down with the WoW team to go through what's in store.
“The Chains of Domination part of that storyline is now okay, we've become stronger so it’s time to take the fight to our enemy, the Jailer,” Steve Danuser, Lead Narrative Designer on World of Warcraft Shadowlands tells AusGamers. “Of course he hasn't been idle either and he's been gathering strength and moving to the next stage of his plan. The first thing that he had to do was get all those souls pouring into the Maw -- which became this scary and oppressive place. Now we have a chance to go in there and make a foothold, and find out what the Jailer’s up to.”
As for Korthia, apparently it was built by the same mysterious “first ones'' that built Oribos, so it’ll share similar architecture and an additional layer of mystery on the account of it being deliberately hidden. “Think of it as like a secret vault for the deepest, darkest secrets of the Shadowlands,” Steve explains. “A place for weapons that were never meant to be in the hands of anyone, things that should be hidden away for all of time. And that's what Korthia’s purpose was and why the Jailer has been looking for it.”
Yep, come March 26, the critically acclaimedTony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 re-release from Vicarious Visions makes its new-gen debut with a visual and performance overhaul befitting the power of all three machines. Additionally, the game also shrinks a little to find its way onto the Nintendo Switch.
Here's the official skinny:
New Platforms – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 will launch on PlayStation® 5 and Xbox Series X|S on 26 March and land on Nintendo Switch™ for the first time in 2021.
What’s New on Next-Gen? – With the advanced hardware of next-gen consoles, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 will give players a variety of upgrades, such as super crisp 120 FPS at 1080P, native 4K at 60 FPS1, spatial audio and more. Another prominent graphical feature unique to the next-gen upgrade will be high-fidelity atmospherics will allow players to experience sharper dynamic shadows, reflections and lens flares, as well as enhanced skater textures and more on next-gen consoles.
HD to the Max on Consoles – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2’s amazing HD graphics allow players to pull off insane combos via reverts, wall plants, lip tricks and manuals in brilliantly vivid detail.
Added Features – New tricks, secrets and more to uncover will take the original games to the next level! Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 also provides loads of gameplay options with online multiplayer modes. New features to the remaster also include even more goals than before, added challenges to amp up gameplay and more.
Sick Customisation – Create-A-Park and Create-A-Skater modes are back! But new this time around is a robust editor enabling new ways of customisation. Players will be able to share new parks online with friends, remix already published parks with their own personal flavour, and outfit skaters with tons of customisation options.
Iconic Soundtrack – Get ready to kick, push and trick to one of the greatest videogame soundtracks again as many iconic and fan-favourite songs from the original soundtrack that defined a generation return alongside 37 new tracks. Ranging from old-school ‘80s rap and ‘90s ska punk to international indie hits and up-and-coming artists, these new tracks echo the diverse sounds of today’s skateboarding. Couple that with songs from the original games and this playlist just got huge!
Killer Lineup – They’re all back! Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Geoff Rowley, Bucky Lasek, Elissa Steamer, Kareem Campbell, Andrew Reynolds, Bob Burnquist, Chad Muska and the rest of the pro skaters from the original two games are back and brought to life in HD detail.
Additionally, a new crop of talent that reflects modern skateboarding rounds out the skater options that fans can choose from, including Nyjah Huston, Leo Baker, Leticia Bufoni, Aori Nishimura, Lizzie Armanto, Shane O’Neill, Riley Hawk and Tyshawn Jones. While some of the new pros have appeared in past Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 will mark the first time that they will grind, ollie and kickflip in the first two games from the franchise.
Activision's expectations for the THPS game, let alone series, was super-low in comparison to where it landed. The reason why it was such a huge success? Apart from the obvious: kids wanting a genuine skateboarding experience from the comfort of their lounges, Tony landed the first ever 900 at the X-Games in 1999 which made headlines around the world and skyrocketed skateboarding into the mainstream. That landmark landing just so happened to stick a month out from the game's initial release. Talk about guerrilla marketing.
Watch Dogs: Legion is set to release its free online mode next month on March 9, bringing the DedSec fight to groups that can free-roam through London, tackle challenging co-op missions, or even take part in the new (and lots of fun) PVP mode called Spiderbot Arena. Which, yeah, is deathmatch with tiny robots, weapon pickups, and double-jumping to try and dodge incoming fire.
As for how it will all work, including details on the progression system, check out the following deep dive video from Ubisoft.
Free-roam open-world co-op where players can team up with their friends for up to four-players and explore London, encounter city events, complete challenges and participate in side activities.
New co-op missions for two-to-four players using new co-op gameplay mechanics and giving players the opportunity to recruit the perfect team and fight back against London threats across the most iconic landmarks of the city.
“Leader of the Pack,” the first four-player co-op Tactical Op which will require teamwork and efficiency. It’s made of five interconnected narrative missions which are endgame content, made for players who are seeking a challenge. Players will need to strategise and communicate effectively with their teammates and ensure they have upgraded gadgets and recruited a strong cast of characters.
The first available Player-vs-Player (PvP) mode, Spiderbot Arena, where four players control armed spiderbots and compete in a high intensity free-for-all deathmatch.
The Online mode is separate from the single-player campaign yet carries across its 'recruit anyone' ideal, and the setting fosters solo, duo and four-player activities. In fact, one of the reasons the construction drone is as big as it is... is, well, to fit four players. Very cool.
Earning XP to increase DedSec rank and open up access to new gear in addition to cosmetics help push the online Watch Dogs: Legion mode as something more than an add-on.
It's pretty substantial, and we got the chance to check out an early preview where we did everything from hijack a bus to surf through the streets, riding drones, through to spending considerable time in Spiderbot Arena. And then realising that Tactical Ops are no joke in terms of challenge - with the teamwork and focus required akin to something like The Division.
Announced at BlizzConline - alongside a teaser for a new roguelike mode called Mercenaries - Hearthstone's Forged in the Barrens is the new expansion to hit Blizzard's long-running card game. And the first to kick of the Year of the Gryphon, which includes a number of shake-ups.
A deck reshuffle if you will. As for Forged in the Barrens, well, taking place in Kalimdor -- it's basically For the Horde.
Kalimdor, the Barrens, and the home of the Orcs, Trolls, and Tauren will be familiar to veteran Warcraft players, but in the case of Hearthstone it sets a different tone. “One of the parts of Warcraft that we haven't captured a whole lot, that we're looking to capture here is the journey,” Chadd Nervig, Senior Game Designer on Hearthstone tells AusGamers. “That experience of starting out as a new adventurer, growing, and levelling up. We're going to be looking at that through the course of the year with this, the first expansion, focusing on the Horde.”
Journey aside for a moment, the fun and vibrant Hearthstone aesthetic still shines through -- with Blizzard also noting that you will “find Mankrik’s wife”. In card form. A nod to a classic WoW experience.
Diablo II: Resurrected is out this year for PC and consoles and it’s basically a dream scenario. Remake-level visuals with that authentic classic feel. Ahead of the reveal we got all the info from Blizzard and got to chat about remastering one of the all-time greats.
If you’re a fan of Blizzard’s seminal action-RPG release Diablo II (released in the Year 2000) or remember playing it when the excellent Lords of Destruction expansion dropped -- well, the very the idea of a Diablo II re-release or remaster will no doubt conjure up an image of two-things. Excitement in conjure form, and what a Diablo II remaster might look like.
Announced during BlizzConline, Diablo II: Resurrected is basically a dream scenario for the seminal action-RPG release -- it retains the core experience of the game yet still manages an impressive remake-level visual overhaul. A spectacular looking 3D overlay that sits on-top of a 2D core.
Check it out.
An all-encompassing Diablo II experience featuring remastered versions of Diablo II, the Lord of Destruction expansion, and countless hours of demon-slaying adventure. Ascend the Forgotten Tower, blaze a trail through the jungles of Kurast, and storm the gates of Hell to defeat Diablo himself. Then, scale the peak of Mount Arreat to face Baal, the Lord of Destruction, in Worldstone Keep.
Announced at BlizzConline we dive into this new take on an class-ic, and chat to Blizzard as the Rogue officially joins Diablo IV. Ahead of the announcement this morning we got the chance to sit down with Blizzard to talk about the arrival of a class "you don't want to meet in a dark alley".
The Diablo IV campfire is expanding -- with the Rogue being the fourth class reveal for the highly anticipated release, joining the Barbarian, Druid, and Sorceress at the campfire selection screen. Described as a “swift, deadly, mobile class with unparalleled versatility” the Rogue dates all the way back to the original Diablo but will also feature shades of Assassin and Demon Hunter as seen in Diablo II and Diablo III -- and some new stuff too.
Without further ado, here’s the Diablo IV Rogue in all their shoot, stab, freeze, trap, and poison glory.
The Lost Vikings, Rock N Roll Racing, and Blackthorne - these are the three classic Blizzard games being packaged together as part of the new Blizzard Arcade Collection. Not only a great little BlizzConline surprise, but each game is getting some ‘Definitive Edition’ love. Oh, and the Blizzard Arcade Collection is available now (like right now) on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.
Each game is playable in both its original form and new Definitive Edition update.
The Lost Vikings DE treatment will bring aspects from both console releases, the superior presentation (visuals and audio) from the SNES version with the extra levels and cutscenes and the local co-op added in later. Basically it’s blending the best of the SNES and Sega Mega Drive releases. The Lost Vikings was the first game released under the Blizzard banner (prior titles were released under the studio’s original name ‘Silicon & Synapse’).
Rock N Roll Racing’s Definitive Edition sees the arrival of 16:9 support (very cool) and four-player split-screen racing (also very cool). It also adds new songs, which is, yeah, awesome -- plus many more track variations. According to Blizzard there’ll be 384 variations in total. For those that played the game you’ll recall that each planet basically used the same handful of layouts. Actual recordings of the classic rock tracks featured will also be added, making this the best version of the classic sci-fi combat racer by far.
Blackthorne is also getting new stuff in the form of a new area to explore (previously limited to a specific release) in addition to a new “fog of war” map that uncovers itself the more you explore. Blackthorne is one of those Flashback-era titles, think Another World or even the very first Prince of Persia. Except Blizzard’s take was full comic book metal with a great art-style and a dark and brooding protagonist. The intricate animation with measured exploration and combat were great back in the day, so as one of the more lesser known Blizzards it’s great to see its addition here.
Additional features include Watch Mode for Lost Vikings and Blackthorne, which gives you the option to the game being played with the ability to jump in at any moment. Save Anywhere and Custom Keymapping features are also here, plus a digital Museum covering the entire collection. Which promises to include “an array of bonus materials, such as game art, development assets, unused content, lore, interviews, and more”.
On PC the Blizzard Arcade Collection is available as part of The Celebration Collection via Battle.net with the collection only available as a standalone purchase via console digital storefronts for $29.95 AUD.
Be sure to follow our full BlizzConline Coverage for all the latest on the digital event..
As per our review from back in 2019, Rage 2 "is bloody fun". The Avalanche Studios and id Software collaboration, which presents an over-the-top and colorfully violent take on post-apocalyptic open-world action is currently free via the Epic Games Store.
Like all id joints Rage 2 features a great FPS feel, with impressive weapons and combat that blends nicely with Avalanche's open-world chops as seen in games like Mad Max. The version up for grabs is the launch edition with the Epic Games Store listing post-launch DLC as coming soon.
GAME TRIVIA - Did You Know?
AusGamers (yep, us) railed against the Mad Max game from Avalanche Studios over the developer' decision to voice the titular character with an American voice actor. We ran a Change.org campaign that hit the ground running and gained national and international support for an Aussie to play Max. In fact, we garnered so much traction in our campaign, Mel Gibson's brother, Donal Gibson and Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks reached out to us directly to showcase just how good Donal would be playing the character his brother so famously brought to the masses. Alas it was not meant to be, and Avalanche went with a less-than-memorable Aussie voice actor meaning we'd won the battle, but not the war.
Filmed in South Australia, Warner Bros. Picture is set to release the new Mortal Kombat movie globally -- beginning April 15. Today comes the first full-trailer for the film, and it's suitably a restricted mature-age only affair. That is chock full of Mortal Kombat. From impressive visual effects, martial arts, and characters that all look on point -- this looks, yeah, damn good.
The videogame to film adaptations isn't exactly a thing with many shining examples so it's great to see this looking and feeling like something true to Mortal Kombat. Check it out.
In terms of the production the film is directed by Aussie, Simon McQuoid, making his feature debut. Casting wise this local flavour extends to the very cool Kano line towards the end of the trailer. Where it excels though is with the glimpses of action we get to see. And in staying in spirit with recent entries like Mortal Kombat 11 it's stylish, violent, and inventive stuff.
Earlier today we got word that thanks to a new technique called FPS Boost the talented backwards compatibility team at Xbox added another feather in the already feather-stacked Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S cap -- increased performance at the system level. We sat down with Jason Ronald, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X|S to talk about it -- and more.
New hardware means more powerful CPUs, GPUs, and storage to leverage -- a fact that has already seen many titles load faster, run at higher resolutions, and perform better simply by firing them up on an Xbox Series X or S.
“We really designed the Series X to run all games at 4K, at 60 frames-per-second,” Jason explains. “With the Xbox One generation, some titles were able to hit 30 frames-per-second and some 60. We really believe best in class gaming experiences lean into things like higher frame-rates, buttery-smooth input... that was a design target as we designed the system.
“When we were designing the Series X and the Series S this commitment to compatibility influenced the design of the silicon, the hardware, and it has impacted the design of the operating system too.”
“When it came to backwards compatibility as we started getting these games up, we realised that with all this extra processing power that we have with the Xbox Series X and the Series S, games were in many cases “waiting”,” Jason continues. “The hardware would process a frame in dramatically less time than before. That was a fascinating insight – so we got to thinking, what would happen if we actually got the title to render more quickly?”
Look, Nintendo, today's already been tough enough on all of us. Then you go and tease us all with an Eiji Aonuma appearance on your Nintendo Direct presentation, knowing full well the Internet was blowing up in the days leading up to this with hopes of seeing more of Breath of the Wild 2. But nooooo, you had to go and just share that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was releasing in an updated HD format for Switch, with waggle in tow.
Alright, it's a bit lame on our part to complain at all about any Zelda experience being released, though we could have done with an equally traditional controller setup alongside the waggle and new analogue-specific sword-slicing action, but until we've had our hands on it, we can't really comment.
What was cool about this reveal was the timely reminder of a number of Breath of the Wild's gameplay systems simply being expanded versions of those that appeared in Skyward Sword, making that Zelda experience really very innovative for a series that tends to stick to what players know and expect.
Watch the announcement video embedded below, and stay tuned to waggle your sword this coming July 16.
GAME TRIVIA - Did You Know?
Nintendo for a 'proof of concept' created an entirely 8-bit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? The shrunken down 'game' used assets similar to the original 8-bit entries as a means for the devs to test out certain aspects of the larger game ahead of jumping in headfirst from a 3D open-world development perspective.
Today's Nintendo Direct was a mixed bag of older catch-up titles making Switch debuts, games with beyond interesting names and one or two diamonds in the rough. Heh, that kind of just rolled along the wordplay fairway, but here we are, ready to talk about what this game's writer is most excited about, Mario Golf: Super Rush.
Surprisingly subtle details on more in-depth golf-specific mechanics makes this potentially the best entry in the Mario Golf series since the utterly brilliant Mario Golf: World Tour for 3DS from Camelot Software. With features like topography, wind, lie and other factors all bearing down on your shot and club decisions, you could be forgiven for thinking Super Rush was taking itself seriously, but the addition of multiplayer in modes like Speed Golf where all players tee off at the same time and you rush to get your ball to the flag quicker than everyone else, while utilising classic Mario powerups and weapons, means Super Rush still maintains the fun and charm of any game based in the Mushroom Kingdom
And it wouldn't be a true Nintendo experience without the company's never-say-die approach to motion (read: waggle) controls, where a Joy-Con can be quickly turned into a virtual golf club. Though thankfully this isn't a forced control scheme, with traditional controller options for play available as well.
Additionally, the game will also feature a Mii-starring Story Mode with the ability to take your leveled-up Mii into a Vs mode as well. Coming on June 25 for Nintendo Switch, Mario Golf: Super Rush was about the best announcement out of Ninty today. Watch the announcement trailer embedded below.
GAME TRIVIA - Did You Know?
The golfing avatar for the NES' Golf resembled Mario to a tee. And while he was never specifically referred to as Mario, like the ref in Punch-Out you just knew it was him, making golf the first sport Mario would ever appear in. Later, NES Open Tournament Golf released, this time with a fully outed Mario as its main driver.
So yeah, it's kind of like Bohemia Interactive sort of decided to nuke the pesky zombies once and for all, but like any good zombie media trope, it'll be the return of the living dead in an all new-look DayZ designed to "complement the update... for a fresh start in 2021".
Too bad for you and your hours and hours and days and days and weeks and weeks and months and months and... well, you get the idea. The clean out and update, however, addresses a number of key tenets of the game, while also bringing in some new toys and goodies for old, new and returning players alike. Here's the Dear John from Bohemia to players left with no choice but to say goodbye to their old server avatar(s):
📢Dear Survivors, The much anticipated 1.11 update and the associated wipe (both characters and servers) are projected to deploy on 16th of February. The wipe is to optimize the update's stability and to get clean foundations to monitor changes made with previous economy updates. pic.twitter.com/j4jFZDedft
With Update 1.11, a complete wipe of both characters and official servers will take place. The wipe is meant to compliment the update 1.11 for a fresh start into 2021. It also secures us a clean foundation to monitor the changes made with previous economy updates. It’s not just all about fixes! Players will be glad to learn there’s a new weapon to discover; a “badass” rifle spawning at helicopter crash sites around Chernarus and Livonia, the SVAL, which is the Czech word for muscle. In addition, there are new 20 round magazines for 9x39 ammo, which can be used with both the SVAL and VSS.
DayZ update 1.11 brings important optimizations fixing bugs and improving stability. For a full list of the additions check the update’s changelog. These are some of the changes you will encounter:
Fixed various zombie behaviors such as the infected colliding and going through the player's character.
Interaction with cars is more realistic, fixing random character bugs when entering and leaving cars.
No more strange interruptions when sea fishing
Huge improvements to horticulture
Polished damage dealing and triggers
Massive improvement on the engine script, allowing servers to load more mods than ever before.
These are just the tip of the iceberg, but be sure to check out the forums for all the changelog notes - PC and Console.
All of this also comes with a teaser video you can watch embedded below.
GAME TRIVIA - Did You Know?
Zombies are as much a part of videogames as lives, ammo, powerups, XP, skills, abilities and treasure. Often referred to as "toys" for players to engage due to their slow movement, zombies are often simply considered "moving imediments". The first game credited with introducing zombies to gamers is Zombie Zombie, which appeared on the ZX Spectrum in the mid 80s, and they've never looked back since. Unless of course you've removed their head.
Which is to say overnight Ubisoft snuck in the latest update for our Game of the Year for 2020, Assassin's Creed Valhalla. The new update adds a new mode: River Raids which itself is a side-mode of sorts that doesn't impact your main narrative progress, but still rewards you with things to play with, be it a new building for your Settlement, a new upgradable Longship for your new river raids, weapons, Books of Knowledge and more.
Here's Ubi's official note on the upgrade we found stuck to a pylon with a dagger:
The River Raids is a permanent addition to the game and a new replayable mode enriching the raiding experience in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The mode contains:
Higher-stakes raids, with unique maps and rewards, in which the player can raid without impacting their main game progression and alliances in England. Unlike the original raiding feature, the raiding crew can be temporarily lost if players don’t revive them during the raid.
A Jomsviking Crew: Recruited Jomsvikings (created by other players online) are led by the player’s personal Jomsviking Lieutenant.
A New Longship: An all-new fully customizable longship exclusive to the game mode – whose cargo hold can be upgraded to bring more resources back from River Raids.
The new Jomsviking Hall has three levels to upgrade in Season 1, with the higher the Hall’s level the higher the ranked Jomsvikings it will attract for the player to recruit. Jomsviking also now have ranks, with the higher ranked Jomsvikings having greater survivability in River Raids.
After players complete one of the first narrative arcs in England, either Grantebridgescire or Ledecestrescire, build their Barracks and recruit their Jomsviking Lieutenant, they will encounter a new NPC named Vagn and his crew of Jomsviking raiders, who will introduce them to the River Raids game mode. The mode introduces three new river maps set around the coastline of England full of locations to raid and treasure to loot.
Finally, the update brings additional abilities and rewards:
The Saint George Armor set and Great Sword
3 new Abilities, hidden in monasteries
2 new Settlement Buildings
A new set of longship and player cosmetics
The River Raids game mode update, a part of Season 1, is the latest addition as part of the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla post-launch experience, with a variety of new free content for all players focused on gameplay and world evolution coming throughout 2021.
Season 2, named Ostara, will start in March 2021 with a first update bringing a festival in the Settlement, a new game mode that builds on Valhalla’s core combat experiences, new gear and cosmetic items. More information about Wrath of the Druids, the first expansion of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla releasing in Spring 2021, will come at a later time.
Available for free now, watch a trailer for the new update embedded below.
GAME TRIVIA - Did You Know?
All of the political targets in the Assassin's Creed games that die by your hidden blade, those based on actual historical people, are represented in the games dying in the cities and years they did in understood history. You being the deliverer of their demise is obviously poetic license, but each target is based on an historical figure who died in less than clear circumstances.