Posts Tagged ‘Bethesda Softworks’

The Elder Scrolls Online’s next expansion explores High Elven lands

Looking at those towers gives me Anor Londo flashbacks...

Back in my day, if a game tanked, that was it. You just shrugged and moved on, but these days? Whippersnappers keep on fixing things. Improvin’ stuff, as if the medium was malleable or something.

After FFXIV, The Elder Scrolls Online is probably the next strongest comeback that an MMO has made. Completely replacing its business model and progression systems after a very wonky initial launch, it’s brought a lot of players back into the fold with its renewed promise of a more traditionally freeform Elder Scrolls experience.

Following on from its Morrowind-led relaunch, ZeniMax have announced TESO’s second major expansion, this time taking the game to Summerset, improbably scenic home of the High Elves.

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We think it’s safe to say that more Prey is on the way


Huzzah for rhyming headlines! Yesterday, we reported on a series of increasingly overt teasers coming from Arkane Studios, not-so-subtly hinting that they’re not quite done with System Shock-ish immersive sim Prey.

Today, they dropped almost all pretense. It’s March 15th, the day that Prey’s story begins on (at least according to the robo-voiced alarm clock that awakens protagonist Morgan Yu from rest). Celebrating the pseudo-anniversary, the studio got together to tweet out a mysteriously redacted team photo, only to release the uncut and probably release-date-containing one later in the day.

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Shoot for the moon: Prey expansion murmurs intensify


Arkane’s Prey was one of the best games of 2017, hands down. A proper revitalization of the System Shock formula from the team who had already updated Thief through the spectacular Dishonored series. So, it hit us rather hard at RPS Towers to hear rumblings that it hadn’t sold so great, along with Dishonored 2 and its standalone expansion.

With the very future of the immersive sim in question, imagine our excitement and relief when the official Prey Twitter account sprung into life once more, doling out increasingly overt hints that Morgan Yu’s spooky space adventures might yet continue, this time amidst the scenic rolling hills of a lunar research facility.

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Fus Vee Ah! Skyrim VR jacking into PC next month

Given that the iconic image of Skyrim is a fella wearing a Knightmare-esque bucket on his head, it’s only fitting that Bethesda want you to strap cybergoggles onto your head to enter the fantasy RPG’s world. Today they announced a PC release for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, a new standalone version built for cybergoggles. Skyrim VR debuted on PlayStation VR in November 2017, and now it’s headed to PC on April 3rd. It seems a terrible shame that the game doesn’t (as far as I know) use goggle microphones to control dragon shouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Wolfenstein 2 rounds out its pulpy but middling DLC today


Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus‘s story-led DLC to date has been big – well, medium – on character but low on novelty, recycling chunks of the main game into vignettes starring new characters with borrowed Blazcowiz powers. I’ve looked at three out of four of ’em, and wound up wearing my ‘disappointed, but not bitterly so’ face, much like the one I sported when taken to the legendarily underwhelming Flintstones theme park on a US holiday in the early 90s. The final chunk of the season pass DLC lands today, and, like before, tells a new micro-tale from the wider Wolfenverse, this time with a pulpy war comics vibe.
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Exploring the gardens of Dishonored


When you think of Dishonored, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Rats, blades, haunted hearts and clockwork mansions? Perhaps it’s cramped streets, a bleeding whale, or an arterial river. For many of us, it’s a city. We asked Rob Dwiar, a garden designer, landscape architect, horticulturist and writer, to look at a specific aspect of those cities. The gardens. There’s a whole lot of meaning locked in the green.

Across two (and a half) games, Dishonored has created an immersive world, rich with intriguing lore, place-specific atmospheres and a believable society. All of that is wrapped in brilliant, believably-designed environments, where a distinct sense of place is always present. Whether you’re exploring palaces or cramped city blocks, navigating mansions or slums, each area has a sense of authenticity as a lived-in space, and the effect is not entirely aesthetic. By looking at the gardens scattered throughout the Isles, we can see how their layered and meaningful design elevates their importance from pleasant environments to important displayers of in-game themes, reflectors of in-game characters and exaggerators of underlying narratives.

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Push Prey’s limits with this impressive lighting overhaul


Last year’s Prey was a lovely thing. Arguably one of the best immersive sims ever made, and despite its title being lifted from Bethesda’s back-catalogue, it had vastly more in common with System Shock than any other game. On top of being impressively designed, it looked quite nice thanks to consistently slick art direction, and ran excellently on just about any gaming-capable PC.

Some people with beefier machines felt a little let down, though, feeling that corners had been cut over the course of development to ensure smoother performance on lower-end hardware. Enter modder jmx777, and their rather clumsily named ‘Real Lights Plus Ultra Graphics’ mod, allowing you to squeeze an immediately noticeable chunk more graphical fidelity out of the game.

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The Evil Within 2’s first-person mode becomes official

Evil Within 2

This is of less note to us PC types, but still worth a mention. A surprise patch for The Evil Within 2 adds an official first-person mode to the enjoyable, semi-open-world survival horror. If you want to appreciate the detailed environments without also appreciating the back of Sebastian Castellanos’ head, you’re in luck, as you can now play through the entire game in such a fashion.

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Fallout 4 blasts another free trial weekend

Going anywhere nice this weekend? Have you considered the irradiated ruins of post-apocalyptic Boston? You might fancy a crack at Fallout 4, as this weekend Bethesda will hold yet another days-long free trial of the full game. The speedrun record is under one hour so you certainly could ‘complete it’ in one weekend, but myself I like the sound of wandering aimlessly. While I find Bethesda’s open-world RPGs quite flat and have never finished the main quest of a single one, I do always enjoy spending a while pottering and seeing sights. That’s my weekend sorted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wolfenstein 2’s DLC so far is characterful but perfunctory


Note – this piece presumes familiarity with Wolfenstein 2’s entire plot, and as such contains some spoilers, though no specific character fates are discussed.

Out this week is part two of ‘The Freedom Chronicles’, a triptych of story-led DLC for last year’s pretty decent singleplayer shooter Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, giving us a pretty clear sense of what’s on offer from the season pass. (You can buy the episodes separately, but it ends up being 30% more expensive if you end up getting all of ’em that way). To whit, is it worth forking out for? In short: ehhhhhhhh.
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How Wolfenstein: The New Colossus takes the white dudebro hero apart

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a shooter that often feels at odds with its own protagonist, the worn-out vanilla action hero who is somehow the heart of a neurodiverse, multi-ethnic cast of socialist firebrands, civil rights campaigners, pacifists, lapsed jazz maestros and rabid UFO chasers. At first glance, it has a lot to say in spite of BJ Blazkowicz rather than through him, its levels and intermissions thick with references to feminist activism and race rights movements that risk being swallowed up in the bloodshed. Many of the allusions are very timely, for all the retro silliness of Wolfenstein’s Nazis – it’s hard not to draw a line between in-game propaganda about the “cancerous” press and Donald Trump’s frequent denunciations of the US media, for example.

MachineGames has downplayed these parallels in conversation, but Bethesda’s marketing teams have latched onto them rather opportunistically, going so far as to parody Trump’s infamous #MakeAmericaGreatAgain slogan on social media and subtweet his defence of rightwing marchers following the murder of Heather Heyer. Ultimately, however, The New Colossus offers no straightforward rejection of the bigotry Trump and his followers have tacitly and not-so-tacitly endorsed. Rather, the game’s achievement is to show how BJ’s story of white heroism risks echoing that chauvinism, and how it and toxic social archetypes at large may become instruments of resistance. With spoilers right up to the final moments, let’s look at how all that holds together.

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Wolfenstein 2’s Gunslinger Joe DLC dives out


Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus has been out for nearly two months, which means it’s Wolfentime for the first proper episode of DLC. Episode 1 of The Freedom Chronicles launched overnight, and follows the exploits of Gunslinger Joe. He’s a former American football quarterback who’s mad at the Nazis for making him play proper football, which seems like a pretty tame origin story by Wolfenstein standards.

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The Evil Within 2 free trial lets you play the opening chapters


If the prospect of spending time with your family this holiday season isn’t horrifying enough you can always download The Evil Within 2‘s free trial, which is available now on Steam. In her The Evil Within 2 review, Olivia White called the game “a definitive, well-produced classic survival horror experience” so it’s worth a go if you fancy a spooking. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Wolfenstein: The Old Blood?

Seeing as Steam reviews are not entirely fairly arguing that the recent Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is too perfunctory a sequel, let’s look back to a time when that really did happen. The Old Blood, a game that straddled the line between sequel and expansion pack to the excellent Wolfenstein: The New Order, was the very model of going through the motions. Paradoxically, it was also an attempt to give fans exactly what they wanted. Read the rest of this entry »

Room-deep in the dead: DOOM VFR out today


Lest 2017 didn’t already feel like the year in which everything happened all the time constantly, also joining the fray is Bethesda’s three-pronged attempt to adapt their biggest games into virtual reality. Skyrim VR is PS4 exclusive for now, Fallout VR arrives on Steam in a fortnight, and DOOM VFR – well, that’s today. Prepare for Cacovision.
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Wolfenstein 2 now has a single-level demo


The prophecies were true – demos are back. This time it’s Nazi-bludgeoning romp Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus that’s offering a morsel of its shoots and boots (we’ve mentioned it before, but here’s a reminder). The demo only lets you play through the first level, so it really is a teeny tiny taste. “Should you choose to upgrade to the full version of the game,” enthuses this faceless Bethesda announcement, “all of your save data will carry over.” Right so. Read the rest of this entry »

Wolfenstein 2 now just £20/$25, and you can try it free

Wolfenstein II

Rejoice FPS fans, for Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is now down to just £20 / $25 to celebrate the day of sales, deals and discounts that is Black Friday. Whether your preferred digital merchant is Amazon US, SteamGreen Man GamingGames Planet or Fanatical (other digital game retailers are available), now is definitely the time to buy if you haven’t got the game already. 

Also mourn, FPS fans, since such sweeping discounts so close after release most likely means none of these games have been selling well. Read the rest of this entry »

Wolfenstein 2 story DLC dated, detailed, silly-named


Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is, for better or worse, very much BJ Blazkowicz’s story, and outside a few shocking shots of the wider world, isn’t entirely interested in showing us how Nazi rule in the 1960s affects the individual lives of others. We already knew that story-based DLC was on its way, but now we have dates on the four-part season pass that aims to make fascist-occupied America more than the tale of one man and his special submarine friends.

Say hullo to Joseph Stallion, Jessica Valiant and their chum who must be eternally resentful that he did not also win the amazingly ridiculous surname lottery, Gerald Wilkins. Joseph Stallion! Good lord.
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Clickuorice Allsorts: the strange instruments of Wolfenstein II’s score

What created some of the stranger sounds in the Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus soundtrack? Big sonic sculptures of glass and sheet metal, composer Martin Stig Andersen explains over on Gamasutra. He got to play with the creations of French brothers François and Bernard Baschet, delightfully odd beasts largely played by rubbing crystal rods with wetted hands and amplified through big metal horns, and explains the process as well as how he combined those sounds with other musical elements. The post has many good pictures and things to listen to. Oh, and you might remember Anderson for recording Inside’s music through an actual human skull.

I love Wolfenstein 2’s wonky, unforgiving stealth


It’s taking me a long, long time to play through Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. The reason for that is because I’m playing it as a stealth game – a claim about a Wolfenstein game that would have sounded absurd a couple of years ago, but is now taken for granted as a result of 2014’s The New Order offering a limited sneaky-stabby path. Both of the latter-day Wolfs are designed primarily to be played as spray’n’play mass murder sims, and they’ve got a ton of wonderful toys with which to achieve that, but, for my part, I’ve been there, done that far too many times, and so the idea of treating W2TNC’s missions as a quieter, tenser, almost puzzle-like affair is far more appealing.

Thing is, Wolf 2’s stealth is all kinds of messed up. There are entirely legitimate reasons to despise it. Me, though? I can’t resist it.

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