Co-op pirate-em-up Sea of Thieves has a new trailer along with a release date that’s not very far off at all. You’ll be able to fill up on grog and buried treasure on March 20, 2018. In the meantime, cram the trailer inside your eyes.
Living in the tense geopolitical hellscape that is Earth 2017, it’s easy to forget the childlike thrill of adventure inherent in swashbuckling with a crew of buddies across the virtual seas. It’s been a while since we covered Sea of Thieves, Rare’s game of cooperative piracy, but it looks like development is chugging along nicely and, as far as we know, on track for a release early next year.
Detailed in a rather comprehensive video after the jump, Rare lay out (in piratical form) a list of oddly low-key yet vital features coming to the next alpha build of the game, available to anyone in their Insider Programme.
Arriving late to virtual reality, Microsoft have rebranded it Windows Mixed Reality et voila, the revolution will begin anew on October 17th. Microsoft have announced that Mixed Reality support will hit Windows 10 in the Fall Creators Update on that day, launching their VR initiative alongside headsets from several companies. Windows Mixed Reality is a term that supposedly will one day encompass both virtual reality and augmented reality (where cyberbits interact with the real world before our eyes), but the launch lineup is all VR headsets starting around £250. They’re not regular cybergoggs, mind, bearing lower system requirements and including built-in sensors that mean you don’t need to set up external sensors for motion controllers. And it’s named Mixed Reality, so it’s clearly different.
RPS Feature A beginner's guide...
Hello. This is Spawn Point, a new not-quite-regular feature in which we take a genre, series or other facet of gaming culture, and try to convince you to give it a shot. It might be those hero shooters you’ve always wanted to get into, or that terrifying space game played by thousands of jerks. We’ll briefly explain the thing, followed by some ways for you to breach it.
First up, it’s… the real-time strategy. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature We asked the experts
“The 14-year-old me was weeping inside” says Tom Bennett, the UK government’s school behaviour tsar. He’s recalling the time that Ian Livingstone – the co-creator of both Games Workshop and Fighting Fantasy, the series of role-playing books – called him a “luddite”. “It really upset me, I used to love the books and the games that came from them.”
The reason Bennett became the target of Livingstone’s ire is because of his views on Minecraft in classrooms. Last November, Microsoft released Minecraft: Education Edition, an enhanced version of the game that has extra tools for teachers to plan and set up lessons, whether that’s recreating a Shakespeare play or building the Great Pyramids. They can build worlds faster than usual, monitor their students’ activity and help them build online portfolios of their work. In an interview with The Times shortly after, Bennett said that the game was a “gimmick” that would “get in the way of children actually learning”.
The topic of Minecraft in schools sparks a lot of passion on both sides of the debate: some teachers, academics, and Microsoft itself believe that Minecraft can change the way children learn. By giving kids lessons inside a tool that they’re excited about, they will learn more, the argument goes. But Bennett and others say that in-game lessons hinder children’s learning by distracting from the subject matter at hand. The question is: how do we know who’s right? And, as Microsoft prepares for the first full school year since the Education Edition launched, what does the future of Minecraft in schools look like? Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Punch it
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
WHAT. How have we gone so long without mentioning Halo in ‘Have You Played’? Maybe because it’s such an obvious choice, a monster of both profit and influence. Every shooter since has something to owe Halo, for better or worse. Microsoft’s console expedition certainly has something to owe it, not that we care. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Paving the way
We learned last year that Installation 01 [official site], a multiplayer-only fan remake of the early Halo games, was in the works, when they announced that they were aiming for a Halo 3 style of play. They’ve also been following Microsoft’s own legal rules for fan projects, said the team behind it, in the hope they’d avoid the SHUT IT DOWN message these projects often get from cross-looking men in suits. Well, it looks like their careful tip-toeing around those rules paid off, at least for now. They’ve been told by 343 Industries that the fan game is “not under imminent legal threat” so long as they keep abiding by those rules.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Physics engines
Pirates, the most untrustworthy of the Cowboy-Pirate-Zombie triumvirate in charge of the videogame industry, are getting their fill of the E3 booty this year. While Ubisoft revealed Skull and Bones, Microsoft have shown off more of the type of thing you’ll be doing in their online co-op plunder-em-up Sea of Thieves [official site]. You can see a Scottishly narrated (and highly scripted) example of a treasure hunt reaching its stormy conclusion in this trailer below deck.
Read the rest of this entry »
Phantom Dust is one of those games that lots of people talk about but nobody I know actually bought back in the day. Originally released for the Xbox None in 2004, it’s a 3D fighting game set in destructible environments. The twist is that all of your character’s abilities are determined by a deck of cards, so you can switch in new attacks, blocks and specials when you earn/buy new cards.
Today Microsoft re-released it free on both Windows 10 and Xbox One, with cards available as microtransactions. You can, I believe, unlock every card in the game by playing. Here’s a video from Microsoft explaining how it works.
I went for the word “trundles” in the headline because “warthogs” isn’t really a verb and I don’t know if I have the literary capital to pull off that particular innovation. Sorry, everyone. Anyway, a spruced-up version of Halo Wars the First has come out on Steam, allowing many to play the spin-off’d RTS for the first time. Previously it was only available as an inclusion on a special edition of the recent Halo Wars 2, which is a Windows 10-only affair as far as PCs are concerned. This is good news nonetheless, but there is a multiplayer catch. You can’t play with Windows Store chums.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Your Nvidia Titan Xp has little to fear
Microsoft has dished the deets on its upcoming ‘Scorpio’ hardware update for the Xbox console, and in what amounts to uncharacteristic detail and candour given the ruddy thing isn’t going on sale until the end of 2017. But what are we poor PC peasants to make of the Beast of Redmond’s latest game box and its towering on-paper capabilities? In short, what influence will Project Scorpio’s trick new hardware have on future PC games? Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Can the Creators Update really help games?
Microsoft chucked out the Windows 10 Creators Update this week, which is the sort of thing that true-blue enthusiasts of IBM-Compatible home computers used to call a Service Pack back in the day. It’s a surprisingly game-focused update in its way, a built-in streaming service (akin to Twitch, only inevitably far less popular) known as Beam, a concerted effort to put all its game-related settings into one place and Game Mode – a new setting that, in theory, can boost game performance.
All right: who picked Minecraft in the pool for who’d try paid mods next? Come see me to collect your winnings. Mojang have announced the Minecraft Marketplace, a microtransaction store coming to sell skin and texture packs, adventure worlds, minigames, and more in the brick ’em up’s Windows 10 and pocket telephone version. Mojang say they’ll curate the store and only accept submissions from registered businesses, so it won’t be quite as much of a free-for-all as Steam and Skyrim’s crack at paid mods in 2015. And this is only in Microsoft’s rebuild of Minecraft, to be clear, not the original Java version. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Memories of a maze
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I was thinking of what else to include in this series and MindMaze bubbled up from the recesses of my brain like a sunken mafia victim, suddenly afloat. Bloated and warped with childhood memories. The details of this ancient trivia minigame come to me now like bits and pieces of an old dream. I know it was included in an Encarta 95 CD-ROM, and I know it was absolutely impossible to complete. You had to be some kind of genius to know the answer to these questions. Or, like, some kind of adult.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature A spartan design
Halo Wars 2 [official site] is undeniably a console RTS – a rare, exotic bird that looks a bit weird and could only have evolved on an island split off from the rest of the world. Removing it from its natural habitat and introducing it to the PC ecosystem, where its evolutionary niche isn’t quite so niche, might seem a little cruel and ill-conceived. But while it’s certainly not a perfect fit, it’s striking and, more often than not, quite a lot of fun. Here’s wot I think.
RPS Feature Can a new option in your OS really improve performance?
Just last week (and yet somehow an eternity ago, in terms of world events), Microsoft announced that they’d soon be adding something called ‘Game Mode’ to Windows 10 with the aim of improving games’ performance, but gave away few details about what this might involve. Are we talking real framerate gains, suppressing potentially bothersome background tasks or just freeing up a wee bit of RAM?
With the first iteration of Game Mode due to arrive as part of Windows 10’s optional early Insider builds due today, I had a chat with Kevin Gammill, Partner Group Program Manager, Xbox Platform, spokesperson for the group building Game Mode, to find out what this thing actually does, which games it will support and what kind of control users will have over it. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Creative Assembly's other other RTS
I was all set to thoroughly dismiss Halo Wars 2 [official site], before I joined Microsoft for a spot of top-down Warthog-baiting earlier in the month, and I’m still not completely convinced. Last year’s Xbox One beta suggested yet another Halo game intent on rebottling the lightning of a departed era – in this case, that fleeting, Quixotic period when the idea of RTS on console sounded like cash in the bank.
Much of what made the original Halo Wars work so well on Xbox 360 has been preserved – the snappy, colourful visual design, the stripped-down resource and research aspects, the adroit translation of Halo’s alien Covenant and human UNSC factions into the language of an Age of Empires spin-off. Startlingly little has been added or changed, whether you’re talking about new units or a fresh approach to the typically leaden business of storytelling in a strategy game. This is exactly what many fans are hoping for, I’m sure, but given Creative Assembly’s success with the Warhammer license and Alien: Isolation, it’s hard not to wish for a shade more, well, magic.
Windows 10 will add a ‘Game Mode’ to “improve the performance of your PC games”, Microsoft have announced. They don’t say much about what it actually is but hey, free performance boosts are always welcome. I’d also accept it changing my desktop wallpaper to some glowy tendril-y abstract art made in 1999 with a pirated copy of Photoshop following a tutorial, adding System Shock 2 noises as system sounds, pausing my Napster downloads, and setting my AOL Instant Messenger away status. That’s what I’d want from a Game Mode, at least. Read the rest of this entry »