Master of The Free World Productions | Jumpcut Entertainment Network

Wildlands Sitrep – The Pros And Cons Of The Ghost Recon Closed Beta

Five years since Ubisoft Paris first began its development, we finally got extended hands-on time with the next entry in the Ghost Recon series. Set in a sprawling open world and supporting up to four-player co-op, Wildlands is a drastic departure for the tactical series. Javy Gwaltney, Ben Reeves, and I all spent some time with the game over the weekend, combining our forces to eradicate the Santa Blanca cartel from one of the less protected regions of Bolivia.

Bertz: I played a small segment of the game at this past E3, but this was my first exposure to the rhythm of the game – seeing how the more involved missions intersect with the open-world environment and its myriad activities. I expected to see a lot of analogs to Far Cry, and they are certainly present. Players cripple the local powers that be by taking down enemy bases and gradually cede control to a rebel group. Side activities can help fortify the rebellion’s efforts, and at the same time grant your squad new abilities like being able to call in a vehicle or mortar strike.

Those elements feel pulled right out of Far Cry 4, but the game Wildlands most reminds me of is Mercenaries 2, the open-world, third-person shooter developed by Pandemic. Both games are set in South America, revolve around a small military team gradually taking control of the country and giving it to an opposition group. They provide the player a variety of vehicles to travel around the map, and focus the action on micro-skirmishes.

What were your first impressions?

Javy: I got to play an earlier version of the beta’s content last month at a preview event, and I think my biggest surprise was just how willing I was to dive back into those same missions and make my character all over again.

During the preview event I spent a lot of time running into camps with my A.I. teammates and that was fine. Gun battles are fun and your squadmates are competent enough to hold their own (even if their idle chatter is terrible). But the difference between playing with A.I. and human players on your team is night and day. Things become much more tense. Constantly updating others as you proceed with your plan is super important especially, as is often the case, when your plan falls apart and all four of you have to scramble to come up with a new one as bullets fly over your head.

Ben: I never played Mercenaries 2, but I’m a big fan of the direction that Ubisoft has taken the Far Cry series, so this game immediately resonated with me even though I’ve never played a Ghost Recon game before. I like the level of freedom at hand. For awhile, I was shooting up an enemy camp while our fellow editor Kyle Hilliard was in a completely different area. However, the game does seem best when you play it as a team. At one point I was sneaking up on an enemy when he turned around. I was a sitting duck, and I thought he was definitely going to see me then alert the whole base. Fortunately, Kyle took him out a few seconds before he spotted me. This really seems like a game that you could have a blast with when playing with friends. Did you guys run into any situations like that where you were able to tactically approach an enemy stronghold? Some of the later areas seem like they require solid team communication.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Bertz: The game does give you some tactical tools, but it’s more shallow on gadgets than most Ghost Recon games or even other Tom Clancy games like The Division. The drone is effective at scouting out an area and marking enemies, and you can eventually upgrade it to use it as an explosive. You can also use binoculars for surveying the land. If you’re playing solo, you can upgrade the synchronized shot skill to essentially take out four enemies at once, just like you could in Future Soldier. Helping the rebels grants other upgrades that allow you to create diversions, bring a rebel squad to the fight, or call in a mortar strike on a position. But the big question mark for me at this point is are any of these tools even necessary for most firefights? The way the game is currently balanced, it’s pretty easy for four players to clear a camp going guns blazing even on the hardest difficulty once you have your bearings and a firm grasp of the controls.

What could be improved?

Bertz: The minimap has a heatmap of sorts indicating when you stumble on enemy positions, so you are never really caught off-guard or constantly dreading being spotted. That tension was integral to the early Ghost Recon games. You can’t turn this off and keep the minimap, so you either have to live with the convenience or turn off the minimap altogether. Enemies rarely attempt to flank, and carelessly run between cover points for easy kills. I guess this makes narrative sense when you’re fighting a bunch of low-level drug cartel grunts, but I expected more of a fight from the more organized UNIDAD force. The closed beta featured an early region in the game, so it’s possible the strategy could get more important the deeper you get into Bolivia.

Right now the game isn’t tuned to demand tactics, which opens up the action for a more mainstream audience, but I’d love to see a difficulty setting tuned for people who want a pure Ghost Recon experience, too.

Javy: Yeah, I agree. I think there’s a lot of room for superficial tactics, like choosing stealth or going loud with bullets, but I’d really like some tactical gadgets. The drones are cool and remind me of Splinter Cell: Blacklist in how you can tag foes for you and your squad to see, but I really wished they had borrowed a bit more from Blacklist too. I’d love to have some sticky noisemakers or an RC Car lined with explosives. It’d also be nice to have some non-lethal options beyond just running up and smacking a guy with the butt of your gun, like a tranquilizer or stun gun.

As far as difficulty goes, It’d be nice to have a hardcore mode that gets back to the fundamental “glass cannon” difficulty of the original Ghost Recon games, where one shot means you’re pretty much dead, so you have to plan your moves carefully. Luckily, that seems like something Ubisoft could add in at some point post-release. One can hope, anyway.

Ben: I think that’s all valid. I’d also like to see the vehicle handling get tweaked. Most trucks feel a little floaty or arcadey. On the one hand, the cars are very responsive, and I had fun barreling straight down the side of a mountain on a motorcycle, but vehicles also don’t feel realistic at all. I always felt a little pulled out of the action when I was driving because my tires never felt like they were gripping the road.

Another complaint is that I don’t think the game does a great job indicating when you are going to be seen. There were a few times that an enemy spotted me and alerted the whole camp, but I didn’t get a sense for where he came from and the game offers little warning before you are spotted. Maybe I just need to level up a bit, but I never felt like I had enough tools for dealing with difficult stealth situations. Did you guys notice this too, or do you have any other minor gripes that you hope get fixed before the final release?

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Bertz: I didn’t have a problem with knowing when I was being spotted when playing with the HUD fully activated because of the threat indicators, but the degree to which the entire camp knows exactly where you are is a little abrupt.  I think you’re right about stealth being the inferior choice, too, and Javy’s suggestions would be welcome.

The closed beta had a lot of minor technical hiccups, too. We had some sessions drop, and the audio kept cutting in and out on me. I’m sure Ubisoft is aware of those shortcomings and working to correct them in time for the March launch. But two other audio problems I encountered will be much harder to fix. One, the gunfire and explosions sound really weak and don’t have the impact of a lot of modern shooters. Two, that terrible DJ always joking about cocaine should be unceremoniously ripped from the game. Far Cry had the wannabe comedian too, and they are more grating than entertaining. I know everyone wants to be Rockstar, but it’s such a weird thematic fit for this game and is a pretty sh—y portrayal of Bolivians.

Are we excited?

Bertz: Gripes aside, I’m eager to play more of Wildlands. It seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun playing cooperatively, and hopefully Ubisoft makes some changes to make the game a little more hardcore for the minority of Ghost Recon super fans who want a challenge.

Javy: Yeah, after about eight hours with Wildlands, I’m really excited to play the final version. There are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out, and I wished there were more tactical devices available to your character besides the drone, but the gameplay loop of infiltration planning and execution is really satisfying to me.

Ben: I think it’s unanimous then, because I’m also really excited for the final thing. Honestly, I’m a little surprised too, because I went into the beta not knowing what to expect. I’m not a Ghost Recon fan, but when I heard that it was a little like Far Cry meets Metal Gear Solid V, I felt like I should check it out. I’m glad I did. The game’s open world is exciting to explore, the basic gunplay feels tight, and I’m excited to pump my experience points into that leveling system. I’m already rounding up friends to play this with when it comes out.

Were you in the closed beta as well? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Ubisoft Announces For Honor Open Beta Dates

Hot off the heels of the closed beta, Ubisoft has revealed the open beta dates for its medieval brawler For Honor. 

Starting February 9, you can jump into the fray on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC to test out the skill-based melee combat. This beta includes the Elimination mode, a respawn free, round-based best-of-five face-off between two teams of four fighters. The Dominion, Brawl, and Duel modes from the closed beta are also included. The event runs through February 12. 

Before the open beta kicks off, Ubisoft is hosting a star-studded Twitch livestream featuring Jason Mamoa, Lauren Cohan, Alfie Allen, and Demetrious Johnson. You can tun in here on February 7 at 2:00 p.m. PST. 

For Honor officially releases on February 14. To hear Miller's take on the closed beta, you can watch this informative Test Chamber

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Ghost Recon Wildlands Closed Beta Begins Soon, Here’s How To Register

The open world shooter from Ubisoft, Ghost Recon Wildlands, will be running its closed beta from February 3 to 6. Pre-loading begins on February 1.

The closed beta will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

To register, you can head here to the game's official website. You will be emailed by Ubisoft if you're chosen as a participant. If selected, you can invite up to three friends to join the beta on the same platform.

You can read our hands-on impressions from last year's E3 to find out more about the title. Ghost Recon Wildlands releases on March 7. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Microsoft debuts free Pix graphics tool beta for DX12 & Windows 10

Microsoft has launched a new blog dedicated to its Pix game graphics debugging/optimization tool alongside the public release of a free beta version of the tool for Windows 10 and DirectX 12. …


Gamasutra News

Ed Boon Teases Possible Injustice 2 Beta

Injustice 2 creative director Ed Boon tweeted today what looks like an allusion to a possible beta for the May title.

The tweet (below) shows a portion of the greek alphabet, with only the letter beta missing…

For more on Injustice 2, check out the recent trailer and special edition news.

[Source: Ed Boon]

 

Our Take
Thanks Suriel for figuring that out in like three seconds. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Registration For Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 PC Open Beta Starts Today

We're still a few months away from playing the final version of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, but developer CI Games is pulling back the curtain for a segment of its player base. PC/Steam players can get a sneak peek at the latest entry in the series starting on February 3 through an open beta.

Registration for the open beta begins today. It features two missions: Cut Off and Blockout. In Cut Off, players must infiltrate a Separatist-occupied antenna array to gain access to the satellite signal, while Blockout features main character Jon North hunting down a war criminal listed on his "Most Wanted" list.

To register for the open beta, head here. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on April 4.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

For Honor Closed Beta Arrives January 26

Today Ubisoft announced its the closed beta for its upcoming medieval multiplayer brawler, For Honor, is starting on January 26.

The melee-centric game pits knights, vikings, and samurai against one another in fights to the death. For the beta, Ubisoft is throwing a special, limited time event called War of the Factions that runs through January 29. "War of the Factions will track all multiplayer activities across all platforms from all players during the closed beta, and will reward players for fighting for their factions and honor the winning faction with additional rewards," the press release reads. "In addition to the War of the Faction rewards, players who participate in the closed beta will also receive rewards. Both sets of rewards will be transferred to the full game."

If you want to volunteer your sword for this event, you can register for the closed beta draft here.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For Honor is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 14.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

We’ve Given Away Our Codes To Get Into The Friday The 13th Beta

Update: Check your Game Informer inboxes! You might just have a code for the Friday the 13th beta. Thanks for commenting!

Original story:

Friday the 13th, the Kickstarted multiplayer horror game based on the film of the same name, is currently in beta, and we can help you get in.

We've got a handful of codes to give away, and all you need to get one is to leave a comment below. At 5:30 p.m. CT, I will pick random folks from the comments and send a code to your Game Informer account's inbox.

For more on Friday the 13th, head here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Gwent Closed Beta Update Introduces New Cards And Ranked Matches

If you're part of the lucky group that got a chance to be part of Gwent's closed beta that began in October, you'll be happy to know that a large update is live. Update 0.8.33, available now on PC and Xbox One, features 20 new cards, new premium cards, ranked matches, and more for the beta.

CD Projekt Red community manager Marcin Momot and lead programmer Jason Slama discuss the update in this video:

(Please visit the site to view this media)

You can view the full patch notes below. For more on Gwent, you can read our impressions here.

  • New Gold Special Card – Renew.
  • New Gold Special Card – Bekker's Twisted Mirror.
  • New Silver Special Card – Alzur's Double-Cross.
  • New Bronze Special Card – Dimeritium Shackles.
  • New Bronze Special Card – Mardroeme.
  • New Bronze Special Card – Quen Sign.
  • New Silver Unit Card – Dudu.
  • New Silver Unit Card – Iris.
  • New Silver Unit Card – King of Beggars.
  • New Gold Unit Card – Yennefer: The Conjurer.
  • New Gold Unit Card – Geralt: Aard.
  • New Gold Unit Card – Ciri: Dash.
  • All units that reach 0 base strength will be banished from the game upon removal.
  • If a unit is banished, it will not trigger its abilities based on removal.
  • Promoted units will lose their Gold status upon returning to the player's hand.
  • Borkh's name changed to Villentretenmerth.
  • Villentretenmerth's strength changed from 9 to 7.
  • Operator's strength changed from 4 to 6.
  • Alzur's Thunder damage changed from 6 to 7.
  • Johnny should no longer briefly reveal the card created to the opponent.
  • Several units that have triggers upon their death now have a passive icon again.
  • The Rally effect should no longer get stuck if you have no units to draw.

Monsters

  • New Gold Unit Card – Kayran.
  • New Silver Unit Card – Katakan.
  • Frightener's strength changed from 2 to 4.
  • Frightener changed from Melee to Siege row.
  • Frightener's ability changed to the following – Every 2 turns, banish a random non-Gold special card in your graveyard and gain 3 strength.
  • Grave Hag's countdown changed from 2 to 1.
  • Nekker's ability changed to the following – While in your hand or deck, gain 1 strength whenever a unit on your side absorbs another's strength. When removed from the battlefield, play a Nekker from your deck.
  • Nekker Warrior's strength changed from 4 to 5.
  • Cards created by Nekker Warrior now move properly to the deck.
  • Crones now properly summon copies of themselves.
  • Cards drawn by Giant Toad should now animate correctly.

Skellige

  • New Gold Unit Card – Coral.
  • New Silver Unit Card – Champion of Champions.
  • Sigrdrifa's passive ability will only be triggered by your own resurrections.
  • Ermion will now make you discard 2 cards before drawing 2 cards.
  • Savage Bear will no longer damage spawned units.
  • Svanrige will make you discard 1 card before you can draw 1 card.
  • Clan Dimun Pirate's strength changed from 6 to 5.
  • Clan Tuirseach Axeman's ability will now also trigger when a unit is destroyed due to its strength being reduced to 0 by a damaging ability.
  • War Longship's strength changed from 5 to 4.
  • An Craite Raider's strength changed from 4 to 3.
  • Draig Bon Dhu's ability changed from +1 to +2.
  • Hjalmar's strength changed from 10 to 15.
  • Donar an Hindar's ability order and tooltip description now match correctly.
  • Hemdall now removes units from the board instead of dealing 99 damage to them.
  • Fixed an issue where Cerys' VFX would sometimes not trigger properly.

Northern Realms

  • New Gold Unit Card – Keira Metz.
  • New Silver Unit Card – Trololo.
  • Reaver Scouts can now only target appropriate units.
  • Agile units played by Reaver Scouts will now allow you to choose the row they are played on.
  • Dandelion's ability changed so that it now only gives +1 to enemy units. It also no longer affects spawned units.
  • Promoted Reaver Hunters and Blue Stripes Commandos will now receive their buffs correctly.
  • Reinforced Siege Tower and Reinforced Ballista will now trigger their own abilities when promoted.
  • Sabrina Glevissig's damage changed from 4 to 3.
  • Nenneke's strength changed from 3 to 4.
  • Reinforcement can now only target appropriate units.

Scoia'tael

  • New Gold Unit Card – Schirrú.
  • New Silver Unit Card – Malena.
  • Braenn's strength changed from 5 to 3.
  • Braenn's ability changed to the following – Remove an amount equal to this unit's strength from an opposing non-Gold unit.
  • Isengrim will now spawn 1 Commando Neophyte instead of 2.
  • Commando Neophyte's strength changed from 2 to 3.
  • Aglaïs can now only resurrect special cards from your own graveyard.
  • Aelirenn will no longer gain +1 strength when played.
  • Aelirenn's strength changed from 5 to 6.
  • Vrihedd Dragoon's ability changed to the following – Add 3 strength to a non-Gold unit in your hand.
  • Fireball Trap's ability changed to the following – When a revealed non-gold unit appears on the opposite side, remove 5 strength from it.
  • Morenn's ability changed to the following – Destroy an unrevealed ambush card and gain 4 strength.
  • Morenn's strength changed from 4 to 7.
  • Ele'yas' buff value changed from +2 to +3.
  • Saskia's artwork has changed from Human to Dragon form.
  • Fixed an issue where Ida Emean would cause interaction problems after countering the effects of special cards.
  • Fixed an issue with inconsistent triggering of Hawker Support's ability.
  • Fixed an issue with inconsistent triggering of Vrihedd Sapper's ability.
  • Francesca should no longer cause errors when played with an empty hand.

Game fixes / changes:

  • Keyboard and mouse controls should now be more unified.
  • Fixed an issue where cards in the graveyard could remain in the foreground.
  • Fixed a crash when placing the first card on the board in the deckbuilder tutorial.
  • It's now possible to sort cards based on rarity in the deckbuilder using mouse only.

Game polishes:

  • Daily rewards have been reworked to function off rounds won rather than game wins.
  • The daily rewards interface has been reworked significantly.
  • The level system has been reworked and is now capped at 100.
  • Rewards and feature unlocks from levels 2-100 have been added.
  • Any account above level 10 has been reset to level 10. Rewards for levels 2-10 will automatically be added to your account.
  • Ranked play has been added to the game, featuring 15 ranks.
  • Rank up rewards have been added to the game from ranks 2-15.
  • A leaderboard for the top 1,000 players has been added to the game.
  • The Vs screen has been upgraded significantly.
  • Numerous redundant spaces fixed in several tooltips.
  • Numerous minor tooltip and text fixes across all languages.
  • Spawned cards should now appear much more quickly.
  • Fixed the translation of Permadeath in Russian.
  • Countdown timers should now take less time to display.
  • Added information about being able to resurrect Permadeath units to certain cards.
  • Reworked Victory Screen to improve the flow of match rewards.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Media Molecule’s Dreams Beta Delayed

Media Molecule provided an update today, confirming that the beta for Dreams will be delayed. The developer wasn't at this year's PSX with the game, making many wonder what was going on with the project, which was supposed to have a beta out this year. It turns out the team has been hard at work trying to realize its lofty ambitions. 

"Now I know it may be difficult to hear, and delays make us sad too," writes studio director Siobhan Reddy. "However Dreams is Big. Really big. I mean, we always knew we were a bit crazy, but the enormity of it has taken even us by surprise. And rather than cutting corners we are staying true to our  vision – that Dreams isn’t just about drawing, or sculpting, but also game creation, storytelling, animation, music and sound, all rolled into one whole beautiful PlayStation game."

Even though the beta has been delayed, plenty of progress has been made on the game. Reddy says the team has made "good progress on the game's campaign," have a rough cut of the full feature set, and working rough cut of the full feature set, and even started the QA/developer version of the trial. 

You can read Reddy's full post here

 

Our Take
It's good to hear that the team is making progress, and I agree with Reddy that it's better to iron out the kinks instead of letting the players deal with bugs or unfinished features. After all, first impressions are important. Still, I'm excited to see what Media Molecule has up its sleeves. Last year at PSX, I had the opportunity to chat with the team, and I was blown away by all the stuff it plans to include in this game.  

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed