Local Area Network (LAN) parties are where like-minded people get together to play games in the same location. The largest LAN is in the UK is the Insomnia Gaming Festival, or Iseries as it’s known. Fundamentally Insomnia is a gaming event for all ages, where gamers and industry leaders alike come together to celebrate games in all their forms. “Insomnia LAN Guide“
There are just 144 days left to go until the biggest UK gaming event this Summer, i49, hosted by Multiplay. I’ll be there along with some of the guys from computer club where we’ll be kicking back at the International Centre, located in Telford, Shropshire. The event hosts some of the biggest eSports tournaments in Europe and each year hosts the UK qualifiers for the World Cyber Games (WCG). As well as all that, you can team up for MMO or co-op gaming and generally play what you want when you want. I’m planning on positioning myself in the MMO area – I’ll be perfectly at home there! Alongside the gaming areas and competative tournaments, there are also exhibitions from industry specialists as well and Multiplay have put together a really good LAN guide to help you know what to expect when you arrive: http://static.multiplayuk.com/images/content/LAN_guide.pdf. You can also look forward to the Opening Ceremony and the famous Insomnia Pub Quiz. When you need to crash you have three options for hotels; two on-site (The Holiday Inn and The International) and one which is a five minute walk away (Grays Hotel), all of which are offering discounts for attendees. Alternatively you can camp – there is plenty of space available.
The event officially starts on Friday 23rd August and runs until Monday 26th August 2013, but for an additional £15.00 on your ticket price you can get early access to the venue so that you can get set-up in advance. This is what most people choose to do and so it’s quite busy on the Thursday when doors open at about 6pm, so you might consider leaving your arrival till a bit later to miss the initial rush. There are a number of different ticket types you can get to take part in the action depending on what you are after:
BYOC (Bring your own computer)
Tickets cost £64.40 for the entire weekend, game how you want when you want.
TUP (Turn up and play)
Tickets cost £55.00. This gets you entry for the entire weekend, just turn up, get ready for the tournaments and jump into your matches on one of the event machines.
Group BYOC or Group TUP tickets
If you’re booking for a community or a team.
Weekend, day entry and press passes
Super versatile to fit anyone’s needs.
You should check the website to see in detail what each of the passes confers to the holder, especially when it comes to the weekend and day passes. You may also want to note that if you want to play with your friends, but don’t have a rig of your own, you can purchase a BYOC ticket and then opt to hire one of the hire rigs available for the event – a standard rig will set you back £65.00 on top of the ticket price for the weekend, while a pro gamer package will cost you £75.00. You can also opt to hire a monitor, if you don’t fancy lugging your’s all the way to the event!
Multiplay have an amazing website that is dedicated to their gaming events and it literally has everything you need to know, check out the site at: http://iseries.multiplay.co.uk/i49. If you are planning to be there let us know, it would be great to meet up. Why not keep up-to-date with the latest news on this event via our Twitter feed @gamersblogbytes.
March 29, 2013
MMORPG Update: The WoW and Hearthstone Mini Edition
March has been a super busy month, I’ve dedicated much of my free time to levelling my Worgen Priest, Lursaduras, through the available WoW dungeons and practicing healing on my 5-man group. Our group is pretty laid back when it comes to running dungeons but we must be doing something that works because wipes are pretty rare. This week has been great and I’ve only been finding totally amazing gamers on my WoW server, I’m just drinking it the good vibes and help instead of the abuse and it’s been great to share the good experiences with you all on Twitter, if you want to check out our streams you can find me @cat792k and all our blog posts @gamersblogbytes!
In addition to playing WoW, I’ve now become a total Warcraft fiction addict. I’ve recently posted about Richard A. Knaak’s most recent series on the blog, Dawn of the Aspects (http://www.thegamersblog.com/mmorpg-update-dawn-of-the-aspects) and the good news is that the second part of the series is now available for download. In the first part we saw how the former dragon aspects are on the brink of going their separate ways to find new destinies since their original purpose as the protectors of Azeroth seem to be no more. Kalecgos has uncovered a mysterious artifact that allows him to see through the eyes of his late predecessor, Malygos, and he has been sucked into the past, literally sharing Malygos’ body, where dragons must fight for survival and he encounters the terrifying alpha dragon, Galakrond. We left Kalecgos in the clinches of Galakrond at the end of the first part – will he and Malygos share the same fate? The answer is, of course not, but what he finds next leaves him more troubled, enter the undead. Alongside this new discovery a stranger from the past begins to appear in the present and Kalecgos fears for his own sanity. Part 3 of the series will be available for download on the 22nd April 2013. At the moment you can discuss this series and also The War of the Ancients series with @WowWellRead on Good Reads at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/88038-warcraft-well-read.
Also on my radar since it was announced at PAX East is Hearthstone, the new Blizzard digital strategy card game (http://www.thegamersblog.com/hearthstone-heroes-of-warcraft). Fans of the amazing podcast, The Instance, will be excited to know that they’ve got an interview lined up for next with with the Hearthstone team, you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on with the game and the team @PlayHearthstone. Although the initial beta testing will only be available on the US servers according to the current plans, it’s possible this might change so stay tuned. If you do want to get signed up for the beta test just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account.
If you are looking to dive into Gears of War: Judgment’s multiplayer a bit more this weekend there is a list of things you can expect. Now that I have finished Bioshock: Infinite in a two massive sessions, I can concentrate my Easter weekend on gibbing people on a new map, mode, and a myriad of fixes. First off this pack is free, it adds the new map Haven, which is playable in Execution, TD, Free for All, and Domination. Execution makes a return today as well adding the Down but not Out feature back to multiplayer. There is a special playlist for Execution and Haven that will net you double XP and VIP (season pass) members will receive triple XP. Last but not least there is a list of fixes that is coming with this update as well. Here is the list of fixes below, half of them I didn’t know existed, though would have been cool to see:
Various dedicated server improvements.
Players no longer get stuck in the main menu background after playing three random matches.
Locusts no longer spawn at the second E-Hole on the first wave of Island.
Players will no longer get stuck inside of a Boom Shield that has been planted by an enemy player.
Players will no longer able to look down the scope with a Markza while holding a Meat Shield.
If a Locust destroys an objective at the same time the timer runs out in OverRun using Mercy rules, the match will not end early.
Fix for exclamation points not disappearing after viewing an unlocked character.
While holding a Meat Shield you will only need to tap B to melee.
The Meat Shield will now drop if you switch to the snub.
The “Spray and Pray” ribbon can now be earned in the first round.
If the Boom Shield is disabled in weapon swap you will no longer see the icon in Tac-Com.
You will now earn the Team Savior ribbon for reviving three individual teammates in a single life.
Players can no longer chainsaw another player while holding the Boom Shield.
Improvements to the Hammer of Dawn targeting.
You will now see XP tallies between matches.
Even though this is more of a spin off then sequel, something a lot of people didn’t get, I am enjoying the faster multiplayer. Overrun is the highlight and really don’t miss Horde all that much. If I want a slower multiplayer and Horde mode, I still have Gears 1-3 I could pop in. There will be a second free map coming next week, from what I hear it will be a Overrun/Survival map. Happy Gibbing this Easter Weekend everyone!
March 29, 2013
Epic Shows Off The Power of Unreal 4 with Infiltrator
At GDC Epic took the time to show off another video running on the new Unreal 4 engine. We have seen the Elemental video before, but today, Kotaku is showing off the latest build in a video dubbed “Infiltrator”. According to the Kotaku article, Mark Rein, Epic’s VP, tweeted that the demo is running on a “single off-the-shelf Nvidia GTX 680”. The video is quite impressive. According to Kotaku, the whole demo is running in-engine and that none of the backgrounds, including the city and mountains were rendered and not painted. The Unreal 3, despite at times being a technical mess, has been the leading engine used this past generation from Gears of War; to Bioshock: Infinite; to RPG’s like Lost Odyssey. Check out the video below.
They also showed off the Elemental demo running on the PS4 hardware. They showed this off for a quick minute during the PS4 announcement, but here is the full tech demo running on the current PS4 build, according to Kotaku. I wasn’t expecting a huge leap in graphics in the next gen, but a constant 60 FPS is something I would like.
There is a an interesting article that Games Industry International is running about Square Enix and the problems they face with a multitude of single-player IP’s. I am not here to say that Square Enix will have problems or that they need to focus on more multiplayer games, the suits will rule in whatever they decided is best for the company; though it may not be the best for the gamer. In particular they address Tomb Raider, the newly rebooted game from Crystal Dynamics. The game according to the article, have moved more than 3 million units, but has been deemed short of it’s sales projection. Since Square Enix acquired Eidos back in 2009, they have produced million unit selling games, that outside of Tomb Raider, had no multiplayer to speak of, this list includes Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Hitman: Absolution, Just Cause 2, and Sleeping Dogs. I have played all of these single player offerings, enjoying them greatly, and never once asking how could multiplayer fit it, outside of Just Cause 2. Just Cause 2 is a special case where, as we have seen on the PC, that it was ripe for co-op shenanigans, but a competitive mode is not needed.
Unfortunately in this generation the though of Call of Duty and a multiplayer mode to sell a game has the suits running for the hills and adding multiplayer to games that don’t need them. There seems to be this overlying thought that for a game to be successful it needs to sell Call of Duty like numbers and have a tastless tacked on multiplayer. I have my multiplayer standbys that I play online, Gears, Halo, Battlefield, and Mass Effect, typically I do not deviate unless it’s a racer or something like Street Fighter were I play a few rounds then head back to face the computer. I buy a lot of games for their stories and single player aspects. I played Tomb Raider’s multiplayer for a few hours and became bored and thought, there are better ways they could have spent the time and money, like more secret tombs or good structured single player DLC. I just finished Bioshock: Infinite last night, I can’t praise the game enough, but at no time did I sit back and say, I need co-op in this, or a multiplayer mode is really needed. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood tried a multiplayer mode, and for the most part worked and felt like a fit within the confines of the mechanics. Though they added multiplayer DLC, they offered single player DLC as well. If Square Enix wants to incorporate a shoehorned multiplayer mode in a game, they need to support what makes the game in something like Tomb Raider, the single player experience. With this past generation, having a easy way to connect with one another has been more of a hindrance with game design. Just because I can connect with people doesn’t mean I want to. As I have grown as a gamer, I enjoy more stories, better voice acting, unique gameplay ideas, and the thrill of being entertained. Now, I do enjoy a good co-op experience, but there is nothing really competitive, and enjoying a game that is built to tell a story with multiple people can be a blast. Some games, like the Gears of war franchise or Army of Two for example are better played with people than without.
Single player games can be social as well, without hindering the experience. Joe and I played both Fallout 3 and Skyrim. Though the games were built as massive single player experiences, Joe and I would play them and chat over Xbox Live, creating this social experience that required no online multiplayer. I think the single player appeal is why I covet my handhelds so much. Though there are online infrastructures, online games, and multiplayer on the handhelds, they are still more about the single player than anything. With the PlayStation 4 being able to record and share your gaming experiences in a social way, I hope that it takes the form of what Joe and I started in 2008, stories of experiences and not homophobic, racial 12-year olds showing me how they cheated in Call of Duty.
With Call of Duty selling less and less every year, maybe we can see companies like Square Enix, that are prolific at single player experiences, put more resources where they are needed to make the single player outshine any hint of needing a multiplayer. The single player AAA title is not dead, they maybe more niche at this time, but if there is anything we have seen is gaming has fads. Motion gaming was the talk of town; mobile gaming was to bring down the console industry; arcades are the only place to truly get the best experience; multiplayer first is the heated topic right now. As we have seen with all these fads, they don’t last. They are still there in some way or form, but not as prevalent as they once were.
I know I have talked about this topic in deep with my colleagues, in fact it came around again today. But what are your thoughts? Do you prefer multiplayer gaming to singleplayer? Are companies wrong for forcing multiplayer on us that would rather not have it? Comment below!
This weeks eshop update is the lightest it’s been in quite a while. There is nothing new for the Wii U. For the 3DS however, there is plenty to keep you busy, after you update your system of course. Here are the details for the 3DS update and what it adds to the handheld:
“A tool that allows Nintendo 3DS users to transfer save data from the packaged version of a game to the downloadable version. Players that originally purchased a physical version of a game will be able to pick up right where they left off with their save data if they decide to purchase the digital version of the same game. Save data that is transferred to a digital game cannot be moved back to the physical version.
An improvement to the feature that downloads items in the background when the Nintendo 3DS system is in Sleep Mode. Items will now download when the Nintendo eShop is running. Users can simply close the system cover to activate the “Download Later” feature and the game or application will begin to download.”
The update takes no time at all, by time I was done typing the first paragraph it was basically finished. The biggest release on the 3DS this week is the arrival of HarmoKnight, the rhythm/action game from Pokemon developers GAME FREAK. There is a demo still available for the game, and the full download will run you $14.99. Due expect there to be Pokemon theme’s though out the game, there is even a Pokemon themed level in the demo. Also hitting this week is downloadable versions of Sega All-Star Racing Transformed and Resident Evil: Revelations. Sonic will run you $29.99 and Resident Evil will run you $19.99, there are demos available for each as well. New to the Virtual Console this week is the Natsume GameBoy Color title, Legend of the River King. Legend of the River King can be yours for $4.99. Unfortunately that is all for this week’s download. If you like games like Runner2 or games from Q Entertainment that include music based gameplay, give HarmoKnight a try.
With the Tomb Raider franchise being rebooted it seems that the movie aspect of Tomb Raider will also see a reboot. MGM has acquired the film rights to Tomb Raider and production has already began in partnership with GK Films.
MGM and GK intend to make multiple movies based off of the Tomb Raider franchise with production of the first film already underway, although no announcements have been made for casting. These films however will not be a continuation or have an relation to the Tomb Raider movies previously released in 2001 and 2003. and Crystal Dynamics, the developer of Tomb Raider will be working closely with MGM and GK rather than simply selling them a license for the rights. This should make for a better story line and more accurate movie experience.
March 27, 2013
PlayStation Network Update: Bioshock, Bundles, and Sales
There is a bit of content on the PSN this week with the full game downloads of Bioshock: Infinite, Army of Two: The Devils Cartel, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. All will run you $59.99 and if you are a PlayStation Plus member you have free 1 hour trials of Bioshock: Infinite and Army of Two: The Devils Cartel. I implore you, if you are PS+ and are on the fence about Bioshock, download the demo. It took less than 30 minutes for me to get hooked into this fantastic game, I played for well over 9 hours yesterday and loved every minute and I am not close to finishing the story. There are plenty of bundles for sale this week that include multiple games at one low price. Here are the new bundles:
Patapon – PSP & PS Vita ($14.99) – Includes Patapon, Patapon 2, and Patapn 3 for one insanely low price. That is priced almost at a buy 1 get 2 free.
Sega Fight Pack – PS3 ($9.99) – This pack includes fighting games from Sega’s legendary AM2 Studio. The pack includes Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers and Sonic The Fighters. A buy 2 get one free deal, these are some truly epic Arcade/Saturn fighters at this price, shouldn’t be missed.
Sega Vintage Collection: ToeJam & Earl – PS3 ($6.99) – This pack includes both of the Genesis classics, ToeJam & Earl and ToeJam and Earl in Panic on Funkotron! Both titles normally will run you $4.99 a piece.
The new Instant Game Collection game this week is for Vita owners in the form of Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, sorry no new PS3 game this week. As for the sales there are a huge amount of them from publishers THQ and Square Enix, on top of this there is a DC Universe sale going on. There is honestly too much to list here, it would take up our entire news feed, but you can find all the details, and anything that I didn’t cover right here on the Official PlayStation Blog.
We will just keep rolling along with game announcements this week. Just announced at GDC, Hideo Kojima will be bringing us Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Now this has been teased for quite a while with a trailer for a game called The Phantom Pain. MGS 5 will run on the new FOX engine being worked on by Kojima Productions and it looks stellar. The game has been confirmed for the PS3 and 360, which is a bit odd because the game looks like it could be a PS4 title. With how coy Kojima is, it may be a PS4 title, it may not. It is just surprising that if this is how it will look on current hardware, how are they squeezing that much horsepower out of that old tech? There has been no release date announced, but there have been rumors that series veteran, David Hayter, will not be returning as Snake. The trailer in it entirety is below. I will update when more is announced and expect some hands on time at this years E3. No offense to DICE, but this has me more excited than the Battlefield 4 reveal, show me multiplayer and that may be a different story.
[Updated] Up to is now the official logo from Konami, and a gallery of screens below, enjoy!
Late last night EA and DICE unveiled Battlefield 4, the next game in the seminal franchise that has been known more for it’s incredible multiplayer and lackluster single player (sans Bad Company); DICE wants to change that. With the new trailer and 17 minute gameplay video, there is no sign of multiplayer, its all single player. The game looks fantastic running on Frostbite 3, there is more destruction, better water physics and animation, among a myriad of other technical enhancements. I was not a fan of Battlefield 3’s single player, it was boring. I played until the first jet mission, and never went back, nor do I regret that. I have put so much time into the multiplayer and had a blast, well when the 360 doesn’t lock up due to high ticket games on Metro. While I am interested to see what Battlefield 4 brings to the table as far as single player, the multiplayer is what I am looking forward too. Below are the 60 second TV spot trailer, and 17 minutes of the campaign level “Fishing in Baku”. It is interesting that Bonnie Tyler is in the 17 minute trailer, it’s very fitting. The Rihanna song in the TV spot is neither fitting nor courteous to the ears, I still don’t see the need for committee produced pop music in game trailers, but just my opinion. While the game, visually looks amazing, I am still hesitant. There are still way too many scripted events for my liking. The game will be released this fall on PC, PS3, PS4, and Xbox 360.