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New Releases | The Gamers Blog

Image Source: Battle.net

It only seemed like yes­ter­day that War­lords of Draenor was revealed at Bliz­zCon 2013 and now we have a launch date for this new expan­sion which was announced at gamescom 2014 in Cologne, the world’s largest games con­ven­tion. Get ready because the new expan­sion will be avail­able to play as of Novem­ber 13 2014 with a new level cap of 100; new tal­ents, dun­geons and raids; flex­i­ble scal­ing for raids and much more. If you are at gamescom this week, be sure to stop by the biggest Bliz­zard booth to date in Hall 7.1 (B051) and check out Blizzard’s lat­est offer­ings: War­lords of Draenor and Heroes of the Storm on PC, Hearth­stone on PC and iPad, and Dia­blo III: Ulti­mate Evil Edi­tion on PS4.

On Thurs­day at gamescom Bliz­zard unveiled both the War­lords of Draenor open­ing cin­e­matic and the first instal­ment of a new ani­mated lore mini-series, Lords of War, in a live-stream event. I know how impres­sive Blizzard’s cin­e­mat­ics are on the big screen, so if I’m feel­ing the awe­some power of the Draenor sto­ry­line here in the UK, the atmos­phere would have been elec­tric at the Koel­n­messe on Thurs­day — check out both of these below. Lore buffs can also get their teeth into the new lore mini-series over the weeks ahead at www.worldofwarcraft.com where Bliz­zard will release more episodes fol­low­ing ‘Lords of War: Part 1 — Kar­gath Blade­fist’, per­haps gen­er­at­ing more ques­tions than answers, but a must see for War­craft fans.

Don’t for­get that you can pre-order War­lords of Draenor now to pre­pare for the Novem­ber 13 launch, with that level 90 boost to get you right into the heart of the action. And if you upgrade to the Dig­i­tal Deluxe edi­tion and enhance your adven­tures in Draenor with epic in-game items includ­ing the Dread Raven mount, Star­Craft II por­traits of Grom­mash Hellscream and Black­hand and a Dia­blo III War­song Pennant.

Also in the news, Bliz­zard CM, Kaivax, reveals that “over the next few weeks, we’ll be test­ing a pre-expansion patch that will bring play­ers to the brink of great peril, as the Iron Horde begins to aggres­sively gain a foothold on Aze­roth. As part of this patch, play­ers will encounter fierce new oppo­nents and get their first chance to expe­ri­ence a num­ber of updates we’re mak­ing to the game. In addi­tion to changes to the skills and abil­i­ties for every class, this patch will intro­duce brand new fea­tures such as 20-player Mythic-difficulty Siege of Orgrim­mar, as well as sys­tems adjust­ments includ­ing stat squish and dimin­ish­ing returns on crowd con­trol”. Be pre­pared to see an advance party of Orcs com­ing through the Dark Por­tal and mak­ing their way to Black­rock Moun­tain. For a short time there will be a spe­cially re-vamped five-player ver­sion of Upper Black­rock Spire sets the stage for the com­ing coun­ter­strike against the Iron Horde.

For the Horde or Alliance, it’s time for our forces to unite and push back the Iron Horde before Aze­roth falls.

Archive War­lords of Draenor sto­ries:

Bliz­zCon 2013: War­lords of Draenor Revealed
Pre-Purchase War­lords of Draenor Now and get a Level 90 Char­ac­ter Boost
WoW Lore Series: Draenor

I have been fol­low­ing the devel­op­ment of Star­bound, the newest game from Chuck­le­fish, for what seems like an eternity.Starbound has oft been called a “spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor” to Ter­raria, but this is a mis­nomer. Ter­raria and Star­bound share an artist and basic game­play premise, and that is pretty much where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. Today marks the launch of the first stage of the open beta. You can buy the game on Steam for 15 dol­lars and get started as soon as the down­load com­pletes. Check out the trailer below and stay tuned from updates from me as the beta progresses.

So I wasn’t really plan­ning on get­ting either of the new sys­tems on Launch day, how­ever I walked into my local Tar­get dur­ing my lunch break on launch day and they had just stocked 3 Xbox One’s on the shelf that hap­pened to come in. So star­ing at the big green boxes I told the clerk “you’d bet­ter give me one…”  so for the last week I’ve been play­ing with Microsoft’s lat­est addi­tion to the new next gen. console race.

 

Now, I’m not writ­ing this as a review or a com­par­i­son to Sony’s PS4 because sim­ply put it’s your money and you should get as much infor­ma­tion as you can before you shell out your hard earned cash on either of these high ticket con­soles. So I thought I’d just share with you my expe­ri­ence with the XB1 so maybe it’ll help you decide to or not to buy it.

 

First thing to know is that there are two ver­sions of the XB1 Offered to buy how­ever, unless you had a pre-sale or are will­ing to throw about $1000+ dol­lars (Amer­i­can) into the Day One edi­tion on ebay you more than likely won’t find it for sale and out side of the box being black, Day One being sten­ciled on the con­troller and an achieve­ment you unlock there really is no rea­son to obsess over the day one edi­tion so the Plain Jane XB1 will do you just fine. 

 

When I say “Plain Jane” I meant it, the box is green and has a han­dle and that’s about it noth­ing flashy other than a few pic­tures of the XB1 and the dash­board. Open­ing the box up rev­els the XB1 in all it’s plas­tic wrapped great­ness and Set­ting it up is pretty stan­dard, queue the mon­key. Upon pow­er­ing it up you of course have to update the sys­tem which clocks in just over 500megs (the PS4 had the same thing clock­ing in at around 300megs so I hear). Then you set all your pref­er­ences with the sys­tem, dash­board and how you will use the Kinects. When you fin­ish you are wel­comed with a video that shows you around the sys­tem which is handy because (at least for me) there’s a learn­ing curve to nav­i­gate around being that the XB1 is pretty much run­ning win­dows 8.

The XB1 is, I have to say, a brick and not as coolly styl­ish as the PS4 looks to be, but we aren’t going for form here we’re going for func­tion and the XB1 has sev­eral ports options to allow you it plug in your cable box and allow you to run SPIDF to you receiver and add sur­round sound to your gam­ing ( I can’t I live in an apart­ment  so the neigh­bors would get cranky if I boomed my games). It also has some USB ports so you can use charge n play and other devices with the XB1.

 

The XB1 con­troller is slightly dif­fer­ent from the 360s (which I thought was a great con­troller). The new con­troller now has rum­ble packs in the trig­gers which hon­estly I haven’t even noticed yet. The repo­si­tioned start and back but­tons are ok I guess but the one thing I do like is the redesigned Dpad, it works really well and hasn’t mis-commanded for me yet.

 

The Kinects I haven’t really played with out­side of voice com­mands that work well enough until there is too much ambi­ent noise, then I found myself scream­ing at my XB1 to get it to work. One thing to remem­ber is if you move the Kinects at all you have to recal­i­brate it to func­tion prop­erly. One cool fea­ture of the Kinects is the abil­ity to use it to party chat instead of the crappy head­set that included with the system

 

If you have an Xbox Live account dur­ing setup it will be imported to your new sys­tem so you can retain your friends list weather they have an Xbox 360 or an XB1 how­ever you can­not party up and chat with friends on the 360 and visa versa but the new friends feed will keep you up to date on what every­one on your list is doing and if they are an XB1 owner then you will also get achieve­ment updates, and video clip uploads that you can watch. When your account imports you also retain your achieve­ment progress and rep­u­ta­tion rank­ing and accord­ing to Microsoft your rep will cer­tainly affect the type of peo­ple you play with in an effort to curb trolls, and bel­liger­ents that can ruin gam­ing for everyone.

 

As I said before nav­i­gat­ing does have a lit­tle bit of a learn­ing curve and gone is the handy Xbox “blades” when you hit the home but­ton. There are 3 major options on the dash­board includ­ing PINS, HOME, and STORE. The PINS group is a loca­tion for all the games and apps that you that you have “pinned” to the dash­board for ease of access and is pretty handy for any­thing you use a lot. The HOME group and the pri­mary screen dis­played when you turn on your XB1 and it con­tains your friends info, and what you’ve accessed recently, the Snap fea­ture and the “My Games and apps” which the loca­tion for all apps and games you have installed and down­loaded. The final group is STORE and con­tains options for down­load­ing paid and free con­tent, add-ons, movies and apps and yes you have to down­load every­thing in the way of apps because pretty much there isn’t any­thing preloaded.

 

When I bought the XB1 I also bought two games as well: Bat­tle­field 4 and Dead Ris­ing 3. First thing I noticed is that each game had to be (at least par­tially) installed which kills the hap­pi­ness of just throw­ing in my game disc and jump­ing right into a new gam­ing expe­ri­ence. But I guess with the amount of data that the new gen of games will con­tain, installing it will help with it run­ning bet­ter off the hard drive much like a PC.

 

Bat­tle­field 4 had an inter­est­ing fea­ture where it loaded the cam­paign and mul­ti­player com­po­nents at the same time (the cam­paign was lit­er­ally 20% of the install) so when the sin­gle player com­po­nent was fin­ished I could play it while the rest of the game installed, cool. When the full game was installed I could jump into the mul­ti­player game which sadly is rid­dled with bugs and lag issues as well as being kicked back to the dash­board, but that is a games issue and Dice, so I’ve read, is releas­ing a patch soon to help rec­tify the prob­lems that plague this game. I do have BF4 for the PC as well and although my rig isn’t the most pow­er­ful it can run the game at medium set­tings fairly well and see­ing the XB1 and PC graph­ics side by side the XB1 does hold it’s own and at least (for now) can graph­i­cally hold it’s own against it’s PC cousins.

 

Dead Ris­ing 3 also had to be installed to the hard drive and judg­ing by the amount of action that hap­pens on the screen at one time while play­ing it is a needed draw back. The game looks pretty good (Bat­tle­field looked so much bet­ter) and can lit­er­ally have thou­sands on zom­bies on screen at one time for your zom­bie killing plea­sure. This game is looks to be a good lit­mus test for the com­put­ing power of the XB1 due to the amount of indi­vid­ual AI onscreen at once and how they inter­act with you and the environment.

 

The apps I’ve down­loaded all have a new look. Net­flix for one is cer­tainly much eas­ier to nav­i­gate and uses the screen space a lit­tle bet­ter. The same can be said for Ama­zon Instant and I do like the lay­out of both of the apps much bet­ter than the 360s. You Tube more resem­bles how the smart TV app looks and func­tions the same. The other apps I’ve installed are inter­est­ing like Sky­drive, which allows you to access files that you uploaded from your xb1 and PC, Xbox Video which is Live’s stream­ing ser­vice and a Blu Ray app that does a good job of play­ing my Blu Ray movies.

 

The one app the I thought was pretty inter­est­ing was Upload Stu­dio which is an app that allows you to edit and upload videos to the Sky­drive and it also allows you to upload videos for oth­ers to watch much like Halo’s the­ater mode check out the video I made with clips of me play­ing Bat­tle­field 4:

 

 

Some of the other fea­tures of the XB1 are pretty slick like the inte­gra­tion of my cable TV into the sys­tem that allows me to nav­i­gate cable TV much like a smart TV using the con­troller and Kinects to change chan­nels and start movies. But, I have a smart TV that has voice func­tions already so this seems redun­dant to me for now, although the abil­ity to use one HDMI con­nec­tion for 2 devices is pretty handy because I already had four HDMI devices plugged into my TV and I didn’t want to have to unplug any­thing to use the XB1.

 

 

Some of the things I liked:

The HDMI pass through is handy

The cable TV inte­gra­tion is really cool (but in my case redundant)

Love the fixed Dpad on the controller

Being able to pin apps and games to the dash­board for easy access

Graph­ics look really vibrant and crisp and, in my opin­ion, can be com­pared to the PC

Switch­ing from games to apps to live TV and back is pretty seamless

Redesigned apps for Net­flix and Ama­zon Instant are great

No noti­fi­ca­tions while watch­ing movies or TV unless you are messaged

 

Things I don’t like:

If I use the cable pass though the XB1 must be pow­ered on

The XB1 doesn’t shut down due to inac­tiv­ity even though it’s setup to do so mainly do to live TV being watched

Party sys­tem doesn’t work well and if you try to turn on chat while in BF4 it fails 100% not sure who is at fault here but it needs patched for sure

The dash­board lacks some zest, it’s very util­ity oriented

The loss of the dash­board blades that could be have been handy at times

 

 

The Bot­tem line:

The Xbox One is an inno­v­a­tive sys­tem that is try­ing to take steps into inte­grat­ing all our enter­tain­ment choices into one hub. Some feel that this will leave the true gamers behind, I feel that’s not the case being a gamer and a technophile the mar­riage of mul­ti­ple enter­tain­ment choices is wel­come and I hope Microsoft will con­tinue to hone the inter­face until it’s perfected.

 

 Ulti­mately my final deci­sion to pur­chase wasn’t that I thought the release day game line up was great (the XB1 and PS4 exclu­sives are ok to say the least) but that the exclu­sives games to come are so much more inter­est­ing to me and a there’s HALO series com­ing!!! Yes the XB1 is a cool sys­tem, but do you want all the bells and whis­tles that it has to offer? Only you can answer that!! Hope this arti­cle helped you make a deci­sion. Leave a com­ment if you like and let us know your thoughts and please try to keep the trolling to a minimum. 

humble

If you are any­thing like me, you have fallen in love with the indie gam­ing move­ment over the past few years. For me, it started with Minecraft. Before then I paid lit­tle to no atten­tion to inde­pen­dent stu­dios and their releases save for the occa­sional Behe­moth project (Alien Hominid being a favorite of mine). But once Minecraft came out, I started pay­ing atten­tion. Now I can’t get enough. I buy up five dol­lar games like I want to be broke (con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, I don’t). Enter the Hum­ble Indie Bundles.

A cou­ple years back Hum­ble Bun­dle started offer­ing cheap deals for qual­ity games while offer­ing the option to send a per­cent­age of the pur­chase price to a given charity.

Lo!” I said, “I can pay a small amount of money for a bunch of games AND prac­tice my arm­chair activism? What’s not to like?” *

And now, Hum­ble Bun­dle has a new place to buy inde­pen­dent games. They have opened their own site to sell those games, and are offer­ing awe­some deals there (which are sep­a­rate from steam).Check it out here and see what deals you can find.

Just on the first day alpha access for Prison Archi­tect was only eight dol­lars, and Don’t Starve was ten. At this very moment one of my favorite games, Psy­cho­nauts, is on sale for just two bucks This web­site is going to be dangerous.

*I’m just kid­ding about the arm­chair activism, Hum­ble Char­ity Bun­dle has done great things. Don’t be mad.

 

Last night Sony Japan held a press event to announce sev­eral things includ­ing the launch of the PlaySta­tion 4 in Japan. If you are in Japan, you can get your hands on the PlaySta­tion 4 on Feb­ru­ary 22nd, 2014. For wait­ing that long, three months after the Euro­pean and North Amer­i­can launch, you do score a free dig­i­tal copy of Knack. The con­sole will run ¥39,980 or$401. Also from last night was the announce­ment for the Vita Slim, which will launch in Japan on Octo­ber 10th. There are slight weight and thick­ness reduc­tions, but the biggest dif­fer­ences is the switch from the OLED screen to a nor­mal LCD and the bat­tery life has increased by an hour. It is a curi­ous ques­tion why they dropped the OLED, which gave the hand­held beau­ti­ful color and res­o­lu­tion over its com­pe­ti­tion and went with the cheaper LED, which will not pro­duce the same res­o­lu­tion or color depth. The added bat­tery life could be a result of the screen swap­ping, though the Slim will launch at $199, the same price the OLED dis­play Vita is sit­ting at. Two added bonuses to the slim’s credit, it comes with 1GB of on board mem­ory, so a mem­ory card is not required out of the box, and it comes in a vari­ety of col­ors. There is no word on if this slim­mer ver­sion of the Vita will hit inter­na­tion­ally, it is just in Japan at the moment. Per­son­ally, I would rather ditch the extra hour of bat­tery for the OLED screen. When I power up my Vita, I still can’t get over how great the screen looks. I don’t think I would trade that and the clar­ity, for an hour more of bat­tery life.

 

One the heals of the Vita Slim, Sony announced PlaySta­tion Vita T.V., a small stand­alone device that will do a mul­ti­tude of things. The device includes a port for Vita games, a Vita Mem­ory card slot, and HDMI port. The PS Vita T.V. will be able to play cer­tain Vita games (ones that don’t require a touch screen/touch pad), dig­i­tal PSP and PS1 titles; the device will also use ser­vices such as Hulu and the like for video stream­ing capa­bil­i­ties. The Vita T.V. will be able to pair with a Dual­Shock 3 for your game play­ing needs. The PS Vita T.V. will also stream PS4 titles from a PS4 to a T.V. that is not in the same room, doing much what the Wii U does with its Gamepad. The PS Vita T.V. will launch in Japan on Novem­ber 14th, and will retail for ¥9,480 or $95. There will be a bun­dle that will have the Vita T.V., an 8GB mem­ory card, and a Dual­shock 3 for ¥14,280 or $143. There is no sign of an inter­na­tional release, I have a feel­ing that there will be. I think Sony is wait­ing to see what the PS4 install base will look like after the hol­i­day and what the recent price cut to Vita does for sales. I also expect them to go after other dig­i­tal streams as well, such as Net­flix, for a U.S. or Euro­pean release. The Vita T.V., if it hits our shores could put devices like Roku and Apple T.V. in a world of hurt, as well as Android pow­ered con­soles like the Ouya. If cable sta­tions start to have sub­scrip­tion ser­vices on devices and I can get NHL Cen­ter Ice and NFL Sun­day ticket on this device, I will never own a cable box again. What is your opin­ion? Would you like this device out­side of Japan? I know I would.

 

* Images credit — The Verge


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