Available now on PC, the big Empyrean update for Warframe brings epic space battles to the game. Where squads work together as a crew to pilot a large battleship and take on new missions. Our own resident Tenno and Warframe expert Adrian Haas recently got a behind the scenes look at the mode - and goes through it all in a new preview.
But first, the launch trailer to set the scene.
The upcoming Empyrean update for Warframe, the next stage in the buildup to the New War, is available now on PC and ushers in an entirely new mode of gameplay that takes place aboard a multi-crewed spaceship known as the Railjack. The Railjack has already been introduced in the Rising Tide update, allowing clans to build the Dry Dock and the Railjack spaceship - but this is something else entirely. To borrow an overused but completely apt phrase - Empyrean is next level.
The new Empyrean gameplay is no doubt another game changer for Warframe, the biggest easily since open-world environments were introduced. It focuses on co-operative squadmates taking on specialised roles such as Pilot and Gunner, as they eliminate enemy vessels, combat hostile boarding parties, and destroy asteroid emplaced superweapons.
And it features a bold and sleek design that looks part-PC part-console. After many months of calling it Xbox Scareltt the next-generation console from Microsoft has officially been unveiled - and is called the Xbox Series X.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer took the stage at The Game Awards to make the surprise announcement which came via the following trailer.
Phil Spencer also penned a reveal post where he states.
Xbox Series X will be our fastest, most powerful console ever and set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility, allowing you to bring your gaming legacy, thousands of games from three generations and more forward with you.
Confirming that the Xbox Series X will support all current Xbox One titles as well as backwards compatibility that includes Xbox 360 and the original Xbox. Plus, Xbox Game Pass.
In terms of power Phil notes that the Xbox Series X will feature "four times the processing power of Xbox One X" in a quiet and efficient build that he describes as "critically important". Also confirmed, hardware ray-tracing, an NVMe SSD, a next-gen Zen 2 CPU from AMD alongside a RDNA GPU.
From a technical standpoint, this will manifest as world-class visuals in 4K at 60FPS, with possibility of up to 120FPS, including support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and 8K capability. Powered by our custom-designed processor leveraging the latest Zen 2 and next generation RDNA architecture from our partners at AMD, Xbox Series X will deliver hardware accelerated ray tracing and a new level of performance never before seen in a console. Additionally, our patented Variable Rate Shading (VRS) technology will allow developers to get even more out of the Xbox Series X GPU and our next-generation SSD will virtually eliminate load times and bring players into their gaming worlds faster than ever before.
Although tower-like in look the Xbox Series X will support horizontal orientation for those with limited cabinet space. Also revealed was the new Xbox Wireless Controller which builds on the Xbox One controller with a slightly smaller build and a new dedicated Share button for screenshots and clips and a redesigned d-pad modeled after the one seen in the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. Plus, new low latency tech. And as per history will be compatible with PC too.
The first game to be shown running on the hardware was Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II from Ninja Theory.
In case you missed it, Predator: Hunting Grounds featured as part of Sony's PlayStation State of PlayNintendo Direct-borrowed format, and appears to essentially be an Evolve formula game. Hopefully they can avoid the over-the-top buy-in and pay-to-win models that plagued that release, which honestly should still be a fully-functioning and churning franchise for both 2K and Turtle Rock, but the powers that be dropped all of us in da meat grinder... as expendable assets. And then asked us to grow up.
We have been eagerly awaiting this State of Play announcement because there has been so much we couldn’t wait to share with the community. And now we get to show you a ton! If you haven’t seen the latest State of Play, be sure to check it out to see our new trailer that focuses on the Predator.
One of the secrets we have been keeping since announcing Predator: Hunting Grounds has been the inclusion of the female Predator.
When we first came up with what this game would be, I knew we had to create a world where this ultimate female warrior would exist too. We had fun imagining her backstory which helped us create a fierce warrior that any gamer will have fun playing. She is agile, fast, and relentless. She is a huntress without fear and she thrives in the hunt. In the trailer we see her with a weapon that IllFonic created, the Yautja Bow.
While anything featuring any predator of any sex is beyond welcome, it feels like the team have focused more heavily on the game's diversity, which is absolutely a spruiking point, but against deep-diving how it will actually play. Predator is literally my favourite moofie of all time, and I love the idea of a female Predator with a backstory and to de-dude the dude-bro direction of the original movie, but reveals should be about games, gameplay and game-direction. Equality should just be the norm, not a 'highlight'.
Everyone should be able to play as a character they identify with, what we actually want to know is how does this play? And right now, as a die hard (and Die Hard) fan, we're still in the dark. But, as fans, we'll hold judgement until they drop us in da meat grinda.
Which is in reference to Shenmue III playing exactly like a potential Shenmue III might have played if what released in the early 2000s. Designer Yu Suzuki's long-awaited sequel all but ignores every little bit of open-world or 3D game design we've seen in the past decade or so to do things The Shenmue Way.
And so the question becomes, is this a good thing or a bad thing. The answer sits somewhere in the middle, which makes this a for-the-fans experience.
Perhaps the strangest thing about Shenmue III, released 18 years after the second game left the story of Ryo in an incomplete state, is how designer Yu Suzuki just about ignores any and all videogame design that we’ve seen between then and now. Stuff that has become the norm, iterated on, or played a role in shaping the modern-day open world action-adventure.
Outside of the new widescreen presentation and support for high-def 4K visuals, Shenmue III could have just as easily been released as is in 2002 – with no one wondering in the slightest if this game had somehow arrived from the distant future. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, and in a weird way it’s as commendable and bold as it is disappointing.
As huge fans of the Mass Effect trilogy we were drawn to Everreach: Project Eden even though it looked like a budget knock-off with a main protagonist that looks like StarCraft: Ghost's Nova. Imitation is a form of flattery, and there are worse things than copying Mass Effect. So, how bad could it be?
The answer is - very bad.
For all its faults, and there are many to be sure, one need only look at the ‘on-vehicle’ sections in Everrreach: Project Eden to get a measure of its quality. Remember how the Mako in the first Mass Effect was a floaty mess that obeyed its own set of weird physical rules? Well, the hoverbike that protagonist Nora Harwood rides here – is worse. Floaty sure, but even the slightest bump as you ride over a rock or the simple grazing of a tree at low speeds and it’s one scrape away from exploding. Like the Star Wars speeder-bike chase seen in Return of the Jedi, but each time you’re a Stormtrooper. And it plays out in slow-motion along linear corridor-like pathways.
The combat in Everreach is best described as clunky. A catch-all term that you’ve no doubt heard thrown about once or twice in the past, but in Everreach this means enemy AI has one mode - strafe back and forth in a small open area with the ability to down Nora in a couple of hits. Or glitch out. Throw in questionable weapon accuracy and aim sensitivity that even on its lowest setting forced us to lower our mouse’s DPI setting, and combat is barely tolerable. Played with a controller it gets worse.
The Sennheiser GSP 670 wireless gaming headset is designed for those with an ear towards quality. Namely, the sort of audiophile that would refuse to be in the same room as a soundbar let alone listen to music or watch a film on one. Ahem. Anyway, even going in knowing that the GSP 670s were desgned for high-end gaming - we were still blown away.
Anyway, this is all a roundabout way to bring us to the new Sennheiser GSP 670 wireless offering from the renown hardware company which boasts an audiophile approach to game audio. With an affordable price to match its audiophile claims. Even though it’s, yeah, expensive for a gaming headset – $500 AUD is not that much when it comes to the world of high-end audio.
The big question for the GSP 670 then becomes – can you really hear the difference between this and, say, a headset that is half the price? The answer is simple. Yes, you most certainly can.
With the release of Hearthstone's latest expansion Descent of Dragons next week, we've got 5 x Hearthstone Descent of Dragons bundles to give away thanks to Blizzard Entertainment.
The League of E.V.I.L.’s villainous plot finally comes to light as they bring doom to Azeroth by resurrecting Galakrond, the ultimate dragon, leaving the ever-persistent League of Explorers once again faced with the challenge of saving the world! Flanked in flight by mystical dragons, soaring ships, and just about every winged beast Azeroth has to offer, the clash of good vs. E.V.I.L. will surely be one for the history books. With 135 cards, five Galakrond Hero cards, and a plethora of Legendary Dragons, this expansion is about to get turbulent!
Valued at $66.95 AUD each bundle contains:
60 x Descent of Dragons card packs
A special Battlegrounds Bonus in the form of hero discovery, chat emojis, and stats
With the new expansion set to drop next week we sat down with Hearthstone’s Lead Designer Dean Ayala and Producer Melissa Corning to discuss the new dragon-themed set, the new Auto Chess inspired Battlegrounds, and more. Like ideas that the team has been sitting on for a while - including a huge underwater-themed set and an ode to classic Warcraft III.
Here's Blizzard on the though process behind the creation of a new expansion.
“I think the goal with every expansion is to do something new that feels different,” Hearthstone Lead Designer Dean Ayala tell me. We’re discussing the latest expansion set for the long-running competitive card game set in the Warcraft universe. Called Descent of Dragons, it not only closes out the game’s current Year of the Dragon season but also the yearlong narrative that has driven Hearthstone this year. Culminating with a dragon-filled sky battle between the League of Explorers and League of E.V.I.L. The perfect backdrop then, for some winged creature cards.
“When you're playing a new expansion, and you're playing the first five games of on launch day we want you to run into stuff that's a little bit different,” Dean continues. “There's some amount of expectation of that going in, so we want to have cards that are powerful and thematic. For Descent of Dragons we want you to feel that this is the dragon expansion without hearing the name or opening any packs. You just come in and play and you get the vibe that, yeah, there's a lot of dragons.”
It almost feels... redundant. Red Dead Redemption ceremoniously arrived on console in 2010. No PC release ever saw the light of day, with Rockstar citing engine issues with porting the game from console as key. BUT, technical issues aside, any excuses haven't helped a starved [Marshal] Bravestar community of gamers feel... neglected where their gun slingin' gaming is concerned. Now, however, Red Dead Redemption 2 has landed on the desktop format, and it's glorious.
That is, if you've avoided any crashes as I somehow managed to. Here's a snippet from our PC review:
Interestingly also, is the higher level of detail within the game-world. Textures pop harder; reflection, refraction and dynamic environmental illumination fill the world with a sheen almost unseen in the PC space. Sure, other games dally in such technical areas, but few are as broad, open and complete as Red Dead Redemption 2. And I don’t need to harp on about how the so-called kingly race (still uncomfortable with the former handle for desktop jockeys) has been starved of its right to ride off into the sunset on a near-perfectly animated horse from 2010. Now, however, an even more perfectly-animated horse, replete with true-to-life testy physics, contracting muscles, sweat, cold breath and saliva… all, is there to wrangle, ride and use for cargo. To whistle at, brush and gush over. You can change its mane, its tail and its dressage. And in many ways the workhorse of traversal and companionship within the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is the perfect metaphor for the game landing on PC -- this version of the Rockstar’s Western opus is the White Coat Arabian of the equine allegory, and requires love and understanding to get the most out of.
And on top of grabbing the Master Sword for your green tunic'd metamorphosis, numerous new course, enemy and helpful additions have been added to the design item manifest, alongside new speedrun additions and more, making Super Mario Maker a destination title this Holiday season, if you haven't already picked it up.
Obviously being able to play as Mario Link, however, will be one of the more key lures to the games. Here's Nintendo's official line on it:
In the recently released The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch, Link encounters familiar characters from the Super Mario games like Piranha Plants and Goombas, but this time Link is joining a Super Mario game in Super Mario Maker 2.
Transforming into Link using the Master Sword opens up a whole new world of design possibilities for creators. Using his arrows, Link can shoot far off switches that Mario would normally not be able to hit. His new down thrust move with the sword will defeat usually protected enemies like spike-covered Spinies. And with bombs, some walls that would normally be impassable by Mario and friends can easily be blown up.
In addition to Link, the update also adds more course parts and enemies, as well as a new Ninji Speedruns mode, perfect for players looking for a challenge.
Dash Block: Available in the Super Mario 3D World style, the Dash Block course part gives Mario a major speed burst when stepped on.
Frozen Coin: These coins are surrounded by a block of ice and can only be released if melted by fireballs or other fire elements, including a certain angry sun.
P Block: When a P Switch is hit in the course, invisible P Blocks temporarily turn into hard platforms, or vice-versa.
Spike: This classic enemy coughs up massive spike balls and launches them at Mario. If used in the snow environment, Spike will toss snowballs instead!
Pokey: The iconic stacked cactus from multiple Super Mario games joins Super Mario Maker 2 for the first time. Players can even edit the height of each Pokey.
In the new Ninji Speedruns mode, players can take on a timed challenge in courses created by Nintendo exclusively for this mode. Other players’ Ninji Ghosts will run alongside players as they compete against rivals from around the world. The Ninji Ghosts that appear are selected from player data at a similar performance level, so players can gradually improve their performance by running the course alongside other players’ Ninji Ghosts. Players can also collect stamps by clearing courses and redeem them in-game to get special Mii costumes.
Each Ninji Speedrun event will run for about one week, with new courses distributed periodically. During the event, players will be ranked by their play time in that course. Players can still run the course alongside Ninji Ghosts and collect stamps even after the event period has ended.
Watch a four-plus minute video breakdown of the above, embedded below.