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Guardians of Middle-Earth: the perils of MOBA

Monday, 3 December 2012 15:39 GMT By Dave Cook

Guardians of Middle-Earth is the incoming MOBA title from Monolith Productions. VG247′s Dave Cook speaks with the team to learn how hard it is to craft a perfectly-balanced MOBA.

“You could clearly see the steely concentration and unwavering expressions on their faces. These guys were firmly plugged into the pinnacle of twitch gaming, where the slightest break in focus would most certainly spell disaster. There was no mucking about here, this was pro-gaming at its purest.”

There was a massive crowd of people sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring in awe at an impossibly large HD screen. Every so often a flurry of movement would prompt polite, reactionary shouts from the audience. The throngs of people sitting there were diverse in age, but they were all hypnotised by the common spectacle unfolding in front of their eyes.

Underneath the screen were two clear-walled rooms and within them were some of the greatest MOBA players to walk the Earth, but I honestly couldn’t have told you their names. This was Valve’s ‘International’ competition at gamescom last year, and the players in the glass booths were sat there playing DotA 2. It was a new scene to me, entirely foreign at the time.

You could clearly see the steely concentration and unwavering expressions on their faces. These guys were firmly plugged into the pinnacle of twitch gaming, where the slightest break in focus would most certainly spell disaster. There was no mucking about here, this was pro-gaming at its purest.

I stood there next to the glass rooms, looking up at things I couldn’t even begin to fathom on the screen, a myriad of complex and intricate game mechanics that I couldn’t even pretend to understand, let alone follow with any degree of coherency. But I glanced over at the crowd again to see their eyes darting around, following the action as it unfolded on screen.

The door behind me opened after a good 20 minutes of waiting, and trying to understand what was happening on screen ahead of my interview inside. I had a one-to-one chat with Gabe Newell booked, and it was to specifically talk about DotA 2. Even though I had researched the game to the best of my abilities, I was still trying to come to terms with the phenomenon that is ‘MOBA.’

I slunk inside to a lush back room, decked out like a fancy lounge and the interview began without hesitation. But while we spoke about DotA 2′s legacy, conception and the involvement of IceFrog, Newell’s concentration kept on breaking, and he continually looked away whenever something big kicked off on the screen next to him.

He’d look away, and behind me, outside, I’d hear roars from the crowd as the match entered its eleventh hour. Someone was losing. I couldn’t tell who, but it had grabbed Newell’s attention. So I sat there, politely waiting for my turn to speak again as he became utterly absorbed in what he was seeing, eyes darting around as if they had a mind of their own.

Then he’d turn to me again and ask where we had left off, like a hypnotist’s guinea pig being snapped out of some kind of waking dream. What is it about MOBA games that has – quite rapidly – hooked a large cross-section of the PC gaming public? Right now DotA 2 is the most-played game on Steam, and more MOBA titles are popping up with each passing month.

Newell’s fixation is a fitting testament of how the gaming populace is becoming absorbed in this gruelling, highly competitive genre. The next MOBA game to launch is Guardians of Middle-Earth, a Lord of the Rings title by Monolith Productions that will attempt to bring the top-down MOBA experience to PS3 and Xbox 360 this week.

As it is predominantly a PC genre, I simply had to ask Monolith’s producer Bob Roberts and senior producer Ruth Tomandl why the team chose to launch Guardians of Middle-Earth exclusively on consoles, and forego the keyboard and mouse set-up that has become almost symbiotic with the genre.

Presumptions

As competitive as they are, any MOBA title worth playing need to have a balanced playing field. Without it, exploits and top-tier characters can run amok, coercing ‘win-all’ strategies and giving players an unfair advantage during matches. Monolith knew about these dangers all-too well, and decided to hire a group of local MOBA pros to help them balance their Guardians and item-set.

Roberts explained to me that when Monolith first let its hired pros loose on the game code mid-development, they very quickly tore it down and began finding balancing problems. They then offered solutions of how the studio could improve the project, underlining just how vital a fair balance is when developing a MOBA game.

“We targeted a bunch of guys who were really competitive MOBA players in the area to come by and just be full-time balance testers for us on this game. We’ve never actually done that before, and it was absolutely critical to feeling as solid as we are about the game being balanced right out of the gate.

“No matter what the testers figured out to be the best possible strategy that they could think of, and was over-powered for a couple of days, someone else on the team would figure out a counter to it. That strategy would then become dominant for a couple of days, and it cycled around like that whether or not we changed any balance.”

He added, “They definitely had things right out of the gate that they were immediately creating hilarious, mocking imagery for, and messing around”, in reference to archer Legolas, who was in the top-tier when development began, easily trumping the rest of the game’s character roster. As such the testers created internal memes at the studio, essentially mocking him to the point of re-balancing.

Regardless of the good-natured barbs being slung around the office at Monolith’s presumptuous balancing, the studio took the pro players’ feedback fully on board, as these were guys who had lived and breathed MOBA games for a good few years, and if anyone knew how to fix a balancing issue, it was them.

One of the biggest complaints from was Monolith’s decision to forego an in-game store – a common feature in other MOBA titles. Roberts explained the studio’s choice, “I think that they came into it with one idea, and at this point we’ve all developed a better idea of what exactly the bones are that really make this the deepest genre that most of us have played.

“For example, at the start everyone was nervous about not having an in-game store like the other MOBAs do. But by the time we got to this point of balance, they realised how much better they could counter and strategise with the elements that were there, and the items being purchased between matches.

“They ended up not really missing that, as it feels like it has every bit of depth as the games they were playing in their free time.”

It makes sense of course, as creating too many purchasable items is the same as adding in a wide range of game-changing variables, and if anything that would only serve to tip the games balance too far in either direction. Monolith’s strategy was to keep things pared bad but not necessarily dumbed-down.

I likened it to Dishonored developer Arkane Studios, who often spoke with the press about why Corvo’s skill set was so limited. The rationale given was that the studio could get more diverse use out of a focused range of abilities rather than a sprawling move list full of tacked on features that felt weak by comparison.

The same thought process applies here, and both Roberts and his team were committed to working alongside the pro players to create a game where every character and item had a counter, and where no one element or mechanic trumped the rest without reprisal.

Balance

The team then entered a long, iterative process of simply playing Guardians of Middle-Earth for many weeks and fixing new cases of unbalance as they emerged. Roberts talked me through the process, “The basic idea is that, if they can sink time in and really practice a particular combo – say five guardians that really compliment each other really well , and the perfect item build – that there is always a counter for that.

“So no matter what the testers figured out to be the best possible strategy that they could think of, and was over-powered for a couple of days, someone else on the team would figure out a counter to it. That strategy would then become dominant for a couple of days, and it cycled around like that whether or not we changed any balance.

“That’s the point we got to where it feels like a good equilibrium for this type of competitive game, because with any competitive multiplayer, you want it to not be about individual champions or items. It’s got to be something that where the community will find emergent counters to strategies, and keep things cycling around on their own.”

“We did also build a system for having a lot of our balance database saved in cloud storage, that you’re going to download every time you launch the game. It’s a very small, quick update that doesn’t have to go through certification, so we can update it every day, every week – however often we need to if we see critical balance issues.”

It went on for many weeks, but with each passing session Monolith was getting closer to attaining the balance it needed to get the game on par with other MOBA titles. Roberts explained, “Every week those guys would rank all the guardians in buckets like, ‘These guys are all the top-tier, these guys are middle-tier, and those guys are in the bottom-tier that no one ever wants to play.’ By the time we’re shipping, everybody has evened out. There’s no one in the bottom tier any more.

“But just in case, we did also build a system for having a lot of our balance database saved in cloud storage, that you’re going to download every time you launch the game. It’s a very small, quick update that doesn’t have to go through certification, so we can update it every day, every week – however often we need to if we see critical balance issues.”

This method of pushing updates to PSN and XBLA foregoes the need for certification. Because if a new, unchecked instance of unbalance is discovered, gamers simply won’t stand for it, and will want it fixed as soon as humanly possible.

The cloud method allows for quick updates when needed, and is becoming increasingly popular among developers on both formats, as Tomandl told me, “There are other developers that have done it, and I know that other XBLA games have done it. But I know there are also other game where, players have run into issues or glitches that could not be fixed by patching in data, so we were careful so that anything involving numbers or any sort of guardian strength could be tweaked using that patch.”

Roberts added, “It’s really the same system as ‘Message of the day’ feeds. It’s really just using that same technology that people have been using for a long time. I think a lot of developers realised they could but more interesting data in there”.”

It’s a smart system and it helps to convince me that Monolith is up to the task of delivering a rock-solid MOBA experience. But given the nature of the Lord of the Rings license and the character therein, it seems as if each Guardian is forced into a particular class by association of what we know from the films.

Roberts agreed, but these presumptions from the Peter Jackson’s movies actually helped keep character design strict in the name of balance, “It was just so iterative. There’s the license to consider as well, so really the starting point was two-fold right off the bat. The first question was, ‘What classes and general roles do we want people to play on the battlefield?’ and then making sure we never designed two guys within that class to be alike. This genre is about the individual feeling different.

“The second consideration was the IP and making sure that ‘that guy’ feels like the specific character that he is, and that everyone’s familiar with. For example, making sure that Gandalf doesn’t feel like a giant melee attacking character”

Tomandl added that character creation was a company-wide process at Monolith, as a large consensus was needed to ensure that the team got each Guardian’s skill-set and behaviour nailed down.

“One of the first things that happened on the project back when it was three people working on it, was that the creative director sent an email to the whole company and said, ‘Hey, if you were playing a Middle-Earth MOBA what kind of character would you like to play, and what would their abilities be?’ That led to a lot of brainstorming and I think that was one way to start – to just get opinions – and people had a lot of ideas.”

Roberts also said, “We started by making characters actually feel like the character they are, and then once we had that settled in it was all about the balance team and iteration, the daily grinding and just playing for many, many hours.”

But even as Monolith got closer to striking a solid balance, the pros were still unrelenting and honest in their feedback, as Tomandl suggested, “They were an outspoken team too, and I think that helped as they said something whenever they felt an area could be improved, who their favourite character was, and what they thought of them.”

Battle

We had been talking for a good 20 minutes and while I was starting to understand MOBAs a little better, I still wanted to know more about how a typical battle plays out, and how that cycle compares to other MOBA games out there.

Roberts offered me a basic scenario, “The battle evolves over the course of the match. Matches are between 15-20 minutes in length and they have distinct phases that you’ll get familiar with. If you’re familiar with other MOBAs, there are similar levels that are on ‘fast-forward’ in our game, so matches won’t last an hour.

“The early game is going to more about one-on-one or two-on-two battles, so you’re going to find the character on your team that best compliments your abilities.

“It’s got all the hallmarks of a classic five-on-five MOBA structure, such as figuring out what the major team roles are, the need to spread out your damage between close and ranged – so that whatever the enemy strategy is, you’ve got a counter for it.”

“So if you play like a guy like Gollum – who skulks in the bushes, jumps out for a quick strike, then runs back – then he’s going to pair really well with someone who can stun enemies or root them in place. That’d be someone like Galdriel or Éowyn who has good healing or co-op team buff abilities. That’d work really well.

“Legolas is a pretty good character to solo with, as he has range and a lot of abilities that speed him up as we as slow down his enemies. He can use those aggressively if he’s in a good position, or use them defensively if he’s trying to escape.

“That’s the early game – one-on-one, two-on-two – but once you get mid-to-late game, you start rallying a bit more and teaming up to engage in larger battles. That’s when it gets crazy, and you have to make sure you’ve got a more balanced team composition across the board, and that everyone knows what their roles are.

“So if you have someone who’s going to absorb a lot of damage, the big warrior type, then that person should basically go in first and try to absorb as much damage as they can, while Legolas stays at the backlines to pick off people from a distance.

“It’s got all the hallmarks of a classic five-on-five MOBA structure, such as figuring out what the major team roles are, the need to spread out your damage between close and ranged – so that whatever the enemy strategy is, you’ve got a counter for it.”

“I think a lot of MOBAs are still finding their feet, and still figuring out how the while pro tournament works. It’s certainly a huge scene, and we’ll see what happens, but we certainly held some small tournaments at E3, PAX and gamescom.”

It’s clear that there is so much to consider when playing a MOBA game, so much ad hoc thinking and twitch control that demands your full attention. It’s an intimidating scene make no mistake, just as something as fiercely competitive as Call of Duty is to someone who never plays shooters.

Regardless the genre is booming, and I ask Tomandl why Guardians for Middle-Earth is launching right now, at this time, and why Monolith feels the genre is receiving increased notoriety as of late.

“It definitely appeals to people who really like feeling competent,” Tomandl suggested, “and really like being competitive. I think it gives them a perfect balance to do both, because it’s really skilful. It’s like in shooters, which are about your skill at aiming, your skill in knowing the map, at your skill at understanding classes.

“There’s also that connection to your character, as I think there’s a lot of genres where you don’t really get that. You do somewhat in RPGs, but in RPGs you have about three to seven classes to choose from. But there’s a lot in picking a unique character.

“I think that with some of the more recent console shooters that have a lot of depth, there haven’t been a lot of console games with that level of depth and competition, and so I think MOBAs will give console gamers another option to play that type of game.

“I think a lot of MOBAs are still finding their feet, and still figuring out how the while pro tournament works. It’s certainly a huge scene, and we’ll see what happens, but we certainly held some small tournaments at E3, PAX and gamescom.

“It was really fun to see people learning the teamwork of the game, forming strategies and really competing. They were hardcore, and they got very good at the game in a very short space of time, so I’m really excited to see what they do once it’s out.”

Monolith won’t have long to wait as Guardians of Middle-Earth launches on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade from December 4th, and getting it into the hands of the MOBA elite at large will prove to be a real stress-test of its competency among the genre. Again, if the game’s balance is off by a significant degree, it’s likely that seasoned players will come down hard on it.

But the team feels confident that it has thoroughly researched the genre, and with the help of its hired pros, has become ingratiated into the circuit, in what has truly been a process of practical doing, instead of theoretical thinking. An artist doesn’t make a masterpiece by just reading about art after all, they have to get their hands dirty and do it.

Monolith’s hands are plenty dirty with MOBA knowledge, but can it deliver? We’ll know as soon as the reviews land. Stay tuned for our score round-up this week.

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2 Comments

  1. Man_s

    Interesting article. Good to know that they can balance the game quickly and more easily. The other MOBA take on consoles, Awesomenauts, suffered dearly from a lack of updates which are crucial in such a genre, which is a shame since it’s a great game. Hopefully this one will competently carry the MOBA torch on console.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. redwood

    does this game have an offline multiplayer?

    #2 2 years ago

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    Jack Attridge left 22 Cans last week for greener pastures, but has made it clear his departure has nothing to do with the rocky few months the studio faced after experiencing some problems with Godus. Speaking to The Guardian , Attridge said : “It was January that I said to Peter I was looking to […]

  • The Order: 1886 character models can now be viewed in all of their naked glory

    Ready at Dawn’s Adam Skutt – character lead for The Order: 1886 – has created a thread over at zbrushcentral to showcase the gloriously detailed character models from the game, including a refreshing number of todgers. The gallery is stunning, and also features weapon models and uniform detailing. Admittedly it’s slightly NSFW with the amount […]

  • New high-res Star Ocean 5 screenshots are all splendid all the time

    Square Enix has given Famitsu a pretty extensive preview of Start Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness, including high-res screenshots and a ton of details on the characters and combat system. Gematsu has translated the piece to reveal the character backgrounds, more info on the world in which the game takes place, and an insight into […]

  • With new Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, is Activision ushering back a golden era of games?

    Guitar Hero. Tony Hawk. Is Activision leading us back to the good old days, the bad old days – or into the future? View image | gettyimages.com When Activision speaks, people listen, and when Activision shows its hand, people rush to peer at the cards. This year, for some reason, all those cards point to […]

  • Final Fantasy 10/10-2 Return to Spira trailer features giant whale, shiny visuals

    Ready to head back to Spira on PS4? You will be after watching this. Square’s released a new trailer for the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X/X-2, and it looks amazing. Dust off your blitzball and take a gander. It hits PS4 on May 15.

  • Xbox One May update now in beta, multitasking and voice messaging incoming

    The latest Xbox One update’s gone into beta testing. The beta for the Xbox One’s May system software update has arrived. As well as fixing a couple of issues, you can now multitask and leave voice messages while in a party. Find an existing preview member if you want to take a look. Swear them […]

  • How do GTA 5 PC’s normal settings stack up to ultra? Like this

    YouTuber wiliextreme has just uploaded a video comparing GTAV PC graphics settings, ranging from normal to very high. Take a look at the window reflections at the 2.30 mark to see just what a difference there is between the three settings showcased. GTA 5 released for PC last week. Be sure to check Matt’s impressions, […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront is 60 FPS, splitscreen not available for all modes

    Star Wars Battlefront has some good news and some bad news for you. Lots of Star Wars Battlefront information has been trickling out over the weekend, thanks both to press previews and DICE staff cheerfully tweeting answers to fan questions. As part of this bounty, we received some welcome news; Battlefront design director Niklas Fegraeus […]

  • This is what time The Witcher 3 will go live globally

    The Witcher 3 will be available simultaneously around the world. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt pre-loads are now available, so naturally you want to know what time you can actually start playing. The good news is all platforms and all regions will unlock at exactly the same time, so as long as you’ve downloaded and […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront playable solo with bots

    Star Wars Battlefront players who can’t or won’t play with others can always team up with and against AI. Star Wars Battlefront will support AI bots for those who want to play alone, DICE has confirmed. According to design director Niklas Fegraeus, bots will be available both on and offline. We have a feature called […]

  • Free Helldivers update coming soon

    Helldivers developer Arrowhead Games has begun teasing a free update. The Helldivers teaser below is called “Turning up the Heat”, which seems to be the name of the update. It doesn’t tell us very much otherwise, but I’m sure fans can figure out some of the details from watching the gameplay. The update is “coming […]

  • Borderlands creator farewells Gearbox

    Borderlands creator Matt Armstrong has announced his departure from developer Gearbox Software. Borderlands was Armstrong’s baby; he created the franchise and wrote the first game. the franchise has gone on to great success, but nevertheless Armstrong is moving on. He announced his departure from Gearbox on Twitter, sounding quite cheerful about it. Things changed. No longer […]

  • Sony Pictures has been working to secure the Smash Bros. rights – report

    Super Smash Bros. might be a Nintendo flagship, but it’s Sony’s movie business that wants to bring it to the big screen. A Super Smash Bros. movie is referenced several times in documents published by Wikileaks following the huge Sony Pictures leak. ArsTechnica dug out these interesting snippets, discovering that Sony made a “full court […]

  • Life is Strange Episode 3 coming next month

    Life is Strange Episode 3 will arrive as expected next month. Life is Strange developer Dontnod confirmed on Twitter that the third episode is on track for a May release. It's great to hear so many of you are excited for Episode 3 which will be released in May! (official date TBA) pic.twitter.com/jIp7upU2u9 — Life […]

  • Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness – details on story and setting emerge

    Information pertaining to the story and setting in Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness has been detailed by Famitsu. According to what Siliconera reports, several centuries after leaving Earth, humans have created the “Galactic Federation” in order to maintain unified order and peace after years and years of war. But all is not peaceful, as […]

  • This homebrew app turns your 3DS into a remote desktop – shown running World of Warcraft

    Modders are busy working on a Nintendo 3DS homebrew app which turns the system into a remote desktop. A post on the gbatemp forum (thanks, Eurogamer) shows the app in action running World of Warcraft on a 3DS – although not perfectly. At present, the app has a rather low frame-rate, but development is still […]

  • Release dates for three Hyperdimension Neptunia games announced

    Hyperdimension Neptunia fans will be pleased to know three games in the franchise have release dates for Steam and Vita. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, which was announced for western audiences last year, will arrive on PS Vita will be released digitally and and at retail in North America on May 19 and in Europe […]

  • Mass Effect 4 survey contains info on crafting, exploration, a Horde Mode more – RUMOR

    Remember when a Dragon Age: Inquisition survey popped up and outed possible content for the title? It’s happened again and this time it’s for the next Mass Effect game. Note: take the information contained herein with a grain of salt. Surveys, if this one is legit, are usually sent out to test ideas and aren’t […]

  • GTA 5 PC: modders poking around the files find Army Cavalcade, Feroci and SuperGT textures

    More GTA 5 information has been posted by modders poking around in the files of the PC version. This time, instead of zombies and horses, textures for the Army Cavalcade, Feroci and SuperGT vehicles have been found. New leaked vehicles Barbarian, Detonator and Tampa are also mentioned in the thread. A screencap of the files […]

  • Sony leaks: Uncharted movie similar to National Treasure but more “intense” and not as “silly”

    Sony Pictures wants the Uncharted film to be similar in tone to the National Treasure franchise, but not as soft or silly, and with deeper romantic storyline than the Nicolas Cage films. The information on the upcoming film was pulled from emails and database files derived from the Sony Pictures hack last year by North […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront isn’t just a “big-budget Battlefield mod,” says DICE

    DICE boss Patrick Bach has promised Star Wars: Battlefront isn’t just a “big-budget Battlefield mod,” as the game carries the Battlefront title for a reason. Speaking with Eurogamer during Day 2 of the Star Wars Celebration yesterday, Bach said the team stayed true to the “core ethos” of the Battlefront series by adhering to what […]

  • New Steam policy restricts accounts to protect users from phishing scams and spam

    Valve has implemented a new policy on Steam which limits user accounts which have spent less than $5 through the store. The new policy is to protect users from phishing scams and spam. If the users hasn’t spent anything on the store, they at least have to have $5 sitting in their Steam Wallet. This […]

  • Latest Flash Sale on the US PlayStation Store discounts action games and movies

    Sony is hosting another Flash Sale on the North American store with plenty of action games, and some films, to help get your weekend started. The list is super long, so here’s a few highlights: Army of TWO The Devil’s Cartel Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Bayonetta Beyond Good & Evil HD Castlevania: Harmony of Despair […]

  • A new expansion for Postal 2 called Paradise Lost was released today

    It appears Postal 2 has a new add-on available. No, it’s not for the 2003 version, but the Complete Edition which was greenlit on Steam 10 years later. Called Paradise Lost, the add-on stars the Dude and contains a new single-player story campaign and new areas featuring free-roam gameplay. The original voice actor for the […]

  • GTA 5 patch 1.01 is now available for PC, fixes launcher and framerate issues

    Rockstar has released patch 1.01 for the PC version of GTA 5 and along with a fix to the character’s facial features changing when transferring to PC, the launcher will no longer drain your CPU and crash. Here are the full patch notes: Fixed an issue where the GTAV Launcher would use an abnormally high […]

  • Ultra Street Fighter 4 will arrive on the PS Store for PS4 in May

    Ultra Street Fighter 4 will be released on PlayStation 4 in May, Capcom has announced. All characters, levels and previous DLC will be included in the PS4 version, including a fix to input lag found in the PS3 version’s controls. The fighting game will be released digitally on the PS Store May 26 for $24.99 […]

  • Upcoming Dark Souls 2 patch to fix weapon degradation glitch

    Weapon degradation wan’t an intentional feature in Dark Souls 2, and now that it has carried over into Scholar of the First Sin, the glitch will be patched out in an upcoming update. The glitch also affected the framerate of Dark Souls 2 on PC, and on all platforms with Scholar of the First Sin. […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront is now available for pre-order on Origin, Amazon, others

    Star Wars: Battlefront is now available for pre-order through EA’s Origin service as well as Amazon and GameStop. Star Wars: Battlefront pre-orders, as previously reported, will include early access to the free Battle of Jakku DLC. The planet is included in the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and finds the New Republic coming […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront – watch the lovely reveal trailer here

    The first trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront was released today after much anticipation. Watch the lovely game reveal below, all captured on PlayStation 4. The trailer was revealed during an EA panel today at the Star Wars Celebration, and featured Lucasfilm concept artist Doug Chiang, the game’s senior producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, and other members of […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront has 40-player battles, play as Darth Vader and Boba Fett

    Star Wars: Battlefront will take place during the original film trilogy’s timeline, according to a report from the Associated Press. It appears the information was posted ahead of time, (via Kotaku) as the report is written in past tense. According to the report, players will take part in “frenzied shoot-outs between up to 40 players” […]

  • Microsoft confirms departure of Xbox Europe VP Phil Harrison

    Microsoft has confirmed the departure of Phil Harrison, its corporate VP of Xbox in Europe. According to a statement, Harrison left to pursue interests outside of the company, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GI.biz. “Following a successful tenure as Corporate Vice President in Xbox in Europe, Phil Harrison has chosen to pursue business interests outside […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Rent-a-Server option coming to both last and current-gen consoles

    Battlefield Hardline players will be able to take part in the Rent-a-Server program, similar to the one in Battlefield 4, when the first patch for the shooter is released. Rental servers will come to both last and current-gen consoles, and CPU issues will be addressed in the patch as well, which PC players will be […]

  • Chip’s Challenge and unreleased sequel Chip’s Challenge 2 arrive on Steam next month

    Chip’s Challenge, the 1989 top-down tile-based puzzler created by Chuck Sommerville, is heading to Steam along with the unreleased sequel Chip’s Challenge 2. After the release of the first game, Sommerville spent two years developing the sequel, only to find the trademark had been sold. The trademark’s new owners wanted him to fund the publishing, […]

  • Pillars of Eternity patch betas hitting Steam, update 1.05 to drop in May

    Patch 1.04 for Pillars of Eternity dropped yesterday, and according to Obsidian Entertainment, players can expect the next round of fixes to arrive in May. According to a post on the Kickstarter page, patch 1.04 contained quite a bit of fixes, and going forward, the team plans to continue squishing bugs, adding additional polish and […]

  • Goat Simulator comes to Xbox platforms

    Goat Simulator continues its plan to dominate all platforms under the sun by releasing on Xbox consoles. Goat Simulator has been released on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The store page for the Xbox One version is now live, but the 360 one is lagging behind. Don’t know what this game is or what it’s […]

  • Alienation: first co-op footage revealed

    We have our first look at gameplay footage from Housemarque’s Alienation. Housemarque has finally given us a look at their upcoming shooter project, Alienation. The twin-stick shooter will feature co-op and the new video shows it in action. It’s a short one but still manages to demo several environments. The game was shown off at […]

  • ReShade SweetFX supports GTA 5, user-made presets begin popping up

    GTA 5 modders started making presets for ReShade SweetFX as soon as they realised the tool supports it. To the modding community’s delightful surprise, shader-altering tool ReShade SweetFX was discovered to support GTA 5. What this means is that anyone can download the tool, mess around with the post-processing options, and inject them into GTA […]

  • Project Cars goes gold, full track list revealed

    Project Cars has finally gone gold. Project Cars developer Slightly Mad has announced that the racer has reached gold master milestone. “We know the wait for the game to be released was worth it, as we’re confident the quality and realism level we have achieved will provide our fans with the game they are all […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes has a stupid subtitle in the West

    The Western release of Dragon Quest Heroes has been given the most absurd subtitle. Square Enix announced a while back that Dragon Quest Heroes will come to North America and Europe this year. Unlike in Japan, it will launch only on PlayStation 4. Earlier today, the Japanese publisher revealed what the game’s logo will look […]

  • Minecraft vulnerability allows users to crash servers remotely [UPDATE]

    A security flaw discovered in Minecraft’s code that could give perpetrators the ability to crash servers remotely has been fixed via a patch by Mojang. Update: Mojang has released an update to Minecraft patch 1.8, listed as version 1.8.4, and it is available now. It fixes reported security issues, in addition to some other minor […]

  • Official Bloodborne merchandise now available, including a limited edition statue

    The PlayStation gear store has added a new section dedicated to Bloodborne merchandise. The first set of items is as good as you’d expect. If you’re a fan of Bloodborne and want to make sure everyone around you knows it, you’ll be happy to know that Sony has added a few pieces of Bloodborne-branded gear […]

  • Destiny Xur update: should you buy The Last Word?

    Xur is selling one of Destiny’s top hand cannons today: The Last Word. Is it worth grinding the coins for? The answer is a resounding YES. The Last Word is one of Destiny’s best Exotics, and one of the best Hand Cannons in the game. Our Destiny expert Alex notes that it’s one of the […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for April 17, 18 – The Last Word edition

    What did our good buddy Xur bring for us this week? Xur: Agent of the Nine, Destiny’s weekend vendor is back with more Exotic offers. Xur is your guy if you’re after Exotic weapons or armour, provided you have the Strange Coins for them. Head over to the lounge in the Tower Hangar, you’ll find […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt discounted for Gold members, pre-load now live

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt files are now live on the Xbox Store. Xbox One owners with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt pre-orders can start downloading the full game to be ready for launch. The file size was confirmed earlier to be just over 25GB. Those who have yet to pre-order can do so at […]

  • GTA 5 files accessed by modders, reveal horses, zombies, more

    Modders have managed to pry GTA 5′s file lock open and expose many of its interesting innards. GTA community modders have gained access to several of GTA 5′s archives on PC. These files were previously believed to be inaccessible. Popular modding tool OpenIV, which was used in editing files in GTA 4 (hence the name), […]

  • Bethesda’s E3 invite features Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein… but no Fallout

    Bethesda is going first at E3 this year with a showcase of games on Sunday night. What clues can we see in the press invite? Skyrim publisher Bethesda has sent out confirmation of its E3 showcase, taking place Sunday June 14. The invite includes a number of Bethesda game characters including Wolfenstein’s BJ Blazcowicz, a […]

  • Here’s Crytek’s VR demo, because dinosaurs

    Dinosaurs! This is precisely what virtual reality is for. VR demos are all over the place and CryEngine developer Crytek has produced one of its own, showing off how the engine is flexible enough t- Look, let me level with you: I don’t care. I only care about dinosaurs. Hush now and watch the dinosaurs. […]

  • StreetPass update adds birthday collecting, VIP Miis and more

    StreetPass collecters should take advantage of an optional update. It’s International StreetPass Week, so now’s the time to break out the 3DS and go hunting. Don’t leave your home network without first checking out a new optional update, though. Kotaku reports the update prompt is available from the leftmost icon in your StreetPass Mii Plaza. […]

  • Massive Uplay sale offers cheap games in time for the weekend

    PC gamers can grab a sweet saving or two in Uplay’s Spring Sale. Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Alien: Isolation are all on sale as part of Uplay’s Spring Sale, among many other titles. The sale offers discounts of up to 85% off digital […]

  • Fix for GTA 5 PC Windows install bug releasing today

    Rockstar is set to release a patch today that will fix a bug preventing players from installing the game. The bug is tied to Windows usernames that use certain characters not supported by Rockstar. There’s already a workaround available on the Rockstar Support site, but those waiting for an official update will be able to […]

  • Prey 2 dev’s new mobile horror Lost Within out now on iOS and Fire

    Remember Lost Within, that mobile survival horror erstwhile Prey 2 developer Human Head Studios was making with Amazon Game Studios? It’s now available on iOS and for Amazon’s Fire devices, through the appropriate App Stores. There’s a little bit of extra info on it on the AGS blog, if you’re keen; unfortunately the blog doesn’t […]