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EA Explains Why Battlefront Is Unlikely To Have The Force Awakens DLC

In December, the Twitter account for Star Wars Battlefront revealed it was improbable that the game would receive any DLC that was focused on the new film, The Force Awakens. Looks we like we just got a confirmation and answer as to why that's the case from EA itself.

In a recent earnings call, EA's CFO Blake Jorgensen reiterated that there was likely no Episode VII DLC coming to Battlefront and took some time to explain why:

“You can’t make a game in ’Star Wars’ that violates the canon of ‘Star Wars…meaning, you can’t take something from the future and bring it back into the past unless it’s a reference.”

Jorgensen also took time to clarify that future Star Wars titles could have content from the new trilogy, saying that the publisher was trying to stay "tightly connected" to Star Wars and it could tap into "new characters and vehicles and so forth" in future Star Wars games.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

 

Our Take
EA toeing the line when it comes to Star Wars canon isn't exactly surprising given Lucasarts attempts to clean house with the expanded universe. And while Joergensen didn't explicitly say that a Battlefront sequel would focus on the new films, it would certainly make sense for it too. Still, as someone who dropped $ 60 on Battlefront and came away disappointed with the lack of content, I'm a bit bummed, especially since none of the DLC revealed for the game looks particularly interesting until summer at the earliest.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Ninja Theory Explains How Hellblade’s Characters Come To Life With Only Two Animators

Hellblade's protagonist, Senua, moves with an impressive level of realism, and the latest developer diary for the game explains how that's possible with only two animators on the team.

You can check out the video below to learn more about the game's motion-capture process, and figure out what is going on in the image above.

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Fore more on Hellblade, head here to learn about it mysterious face-capturing technology. Hellblade is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC this year.

[Source: Ninja Theory]

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Michael B. Jordan Explains Call of Duty: Black Ops III To The Tune Of Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black

Call of Duty continues its tradition of live action commercials featuring famous people with the latest Blacks Ops III commercial.

As per usual, you won't find any gameplay, but you will see Johnny Storm himself, Michael B. Jordan, Marshawn Lynch, Cara Delevingne, and some guy named Kevin, who is apparently quite good at the new Call of Duty.

You can check out commercial below. Call of Duty: Black Ops III releases November 6 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game is also coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but it will not include the campaign on those platforms.

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To see a Black Ops III trailer with a little more gameplay in it, head here.

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Ninja Thoery Explains, But Doesn’t Show The Secret Face-Scanning Tech Of Hellblade

Developer Ninja Theory contracted a company called 3Lateral to scan the face of its model for Hellblade's protagonist, Senua, and it explains, but does not show the process in a new video.

The company 3Lateral doesn't want to share their secrets, so you won't see the technology, but it is apparently so big, that 3Lateral had to rent an apartment near its studios and use that to build the technology. Melina Juergens, whose face was scanned to represent Senua, explains that getting into the mystery contraption felt like getting into a spaceship, and she had to sign onto Skype while inside in order to communicate with everybody.

As mentioned previously, we don't get to see 3Lateral's mystery face-scanning spaceship machine, but we do get to see the results, and they do impress.

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For more on Hellblade, the new game from the creators of Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, and DmC: Devil May Cry, head here and here. Hellblade is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC next year.

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Destiny Livestream Explains The Taken King Progression System

As reported yesterday, Bungie is running a livestream today in which the studio plans to detail how leveling, gear, investment, and other progression features will work in Destiny once The Taken King launches. We’ll be watching the stream, and we’ll update this story every few minutes with the new info, adding in our editorial commentary where appropriate.

Enjoy!

(All times noted in Pacific standard time, where Bungie is broadcasting)

11am: Livestream scheduled to begin.

11:10am: Deej has introduced executive producer Mark Noseworthy and senior design lead Tyson Green, and the team is promising details about year 2 progression, including how leveling and rewards are being handled. The team is starting off with a conversation about the Tower, with a walking tour of the familiar social space.

The new character screen shows off that your light level of 34 is now transitioning directly over into your overall character level. Bungie promises that the backend of the game will inspect your character and vault to determine what character level you're at when The Taken King launches. There is no need to have certain items equipped when the switchover occurs. 

Light is now stat connected to all your gear. Defense and attack values are an average of all your gear, including weapons, armor, ghost shell, class item, and the new artifact slot.

11:18am: Intellect, discipline, and strength now have distinct tiers, that show you exactly how long it takes before your cooldown is complete.

We also got a look at the quest page. There are now 16 bounty slots, and they are all trackable as you play. You can also turn in bounties from wherever you are.

You can look at your quest page to determine what you'd like to do in any given night, and note which quests you could make progress on. 

We also saw that some of the existing rewards are being changed up. Some rewards will be a guaranteed upgrade, like a reward titled heavy weapon upgrade.

We also learned about the Spark of Light. One copy of this item is given to every account, and is built to upgrade a character to level 25, as well as get some appropriate gear. This item will be available at the postmaster as soon as you arrive at the Tower for the first time.

11:25am: Bungie has also talked about ways to personalize characters in the tower, including showing off your character's weapon of choice with a press of the button. 

An audience question asked about how players will acquire new ghost shells, and some are available at the Speaker. At the speaker, Bungie showed off the way that class items have a bunch of interesting perks on class items, but the Speaker will also now have rare ghost shells that boost your defense value, and each of them have their own perks. 

New terminals are spread throughout the Tower, in which you can check out your current collections. Bungie showed off the Emblem Collection, and showed off how you can pick up any of the emblems you've acquired. The same process applies to ships and shaders. If you don't have one of these items, it's grayed out in your collection, but tells you how to acquire them.

11:30am: Bungie is now discussing changes to faction reputation acquisition. At New Monarchy, a player can accept a faction badge, and that allegiance is set for a full week. Once pledging, you can purchase armor from that faction (once you have the appropriate rep level). Some of the new faction armor has a focus on a particular energy type, like protection from solar damage. This change makes faction armor more important for certain situations, like particular burns.

By donating items like motes of light and heavy ammo synths, players can also move up in reputation with a faction.

11:37am: Faction level-ups offer guaranteed legendaries, and there is now a higher likelihood of getting faction-specific items, like shaders and ships, and less chance for replication of items you've already gotten.

Next, Bungie headed down to visit Shaxx, to discuss PvP quests. Bungie says that these PvP quest lines initially teach how to play Crucible, but PvP quests continue after that as you level.

We also got a look at Shaxx's new PvP bounties. If you do all five of the weekly bounties from Shaxx, you can complete a sixth bounty for nightfall-tier rewards.

Shaxx also has additional ghost shells, with a focus on PvP play, like a perk that adds additional glimmer if you kill a Titan.

Vanguard and Crucible marks are being replaced by legendary marks, and these legendary marks are now account wide, so you can earn on one character, and spend them with another character.

Importantly, we also learned that old Vanguard and Crucible marks will transition over to commendations. Cash them in to gain rep with a faction. 

11:45am: The Crucible Quartermaster also has new bounties, focused on trying out particular weapons. 

Your existing ranks in Crucible reputation do carry over with the launch of The Taken King.

By entering the Hall of Guardians, players can investigate the Exotic Armor and Weapon Blueprints kiosks. If you've collected an exotic at any point, you can go and pay an exotic shard and some glimmer and rebuild that item. 

In year 2, some of the year one exotics are improved over how they were originally. If you've acquired one of those versions, you can build the new and improved version of that item. For these items, there are intrinsic perks right from the start, and there are also new talents available on a lot of these new and improved exotics. To complete this process, you spend legendary marks. Not all year one exotics will have this upgrade option. 

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The Chinese Room Explains How A Simple UI Change Can Mess Up Reviews

In our review of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, we cite the game’s plodding walk speed as a significant detractor. It turns out that the game does have a way to increase movement pace, but a last-minute change kept it hidden from players.

Developer The Chinese Room posted a note on its blog this morning explaining how to access the sprint feature (R2). Because it’s a gradual increase in walking speed to a full run, players won’t notice unless they hold the R2 button down.

The apparent lack of a sprint option popped up in a number of reviews (including our own). The Chinese Room explains how this crucial feature was accidentally left hidden.

A couple of weeks before the game went to final, Santa Monica did a last round of playtesting. At this point, the game included an autosprint. That meant that if you kept moving, you’d gradually ramp up to a run speed, specifically to deal with issues with how long potential back-tracking could take, given the game’s non-linearity. The problem was, playtesters wanted to be able to trigger it themselves. It didn’t matter about the speed, it was the psychology, the choice. 

So together with Santa Monica, we made a late call. We replaced the autosprint with an R2 trigger hold, keeping the gentle ramp up to main speed. This then needed testing, because it potentially threw out all of the pacing we’d been working on for the last year, plus could cause issues with accidentally parkouring into places you couldn’t escape from, creating game-breaking bugs. All this took time.

And then suddenly launch was right on top of us, and something had been missed. The controller icon in the options menu was missing the sprint instruction, and it hadn’t been localised. Localisation takes about 24 hours, but because the UI is build in Flash, it would have to be changed, and that would mean a full round of testing before creating a patch – about 4-5 days through the global QA pipieline, which we’re doing now, but wasn’t ready in time for release. It’s in the online manual, but not at the start of the game.

We probably should have announced the run button before launch, but we didn’t. That was a bad call, and we’ve paid for it in the reviews. But the most important thing is that we get the word out to players, so here we go – although we’d love you to take your time and explore Yaughton at a slow, steady pace, if you need to backtrack or get around more quickly, hold down R2 – it’ll take a few seconds before you are running fully, but it will speed your movement up.

So if you haven’t played Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, keep this in mind. While it certainly wasn’t our only concern about the game, this might help improve the experience for those yet to explore the bucolic post-apocalyptic world The Chinese Room has created.

[Source: The Chinese Room]

 

Our Take
This story is an object lesson in the importance of user interfaces. This shows how minor adjustments can have a profound impact on how players experience a game.

It’s also a warning to other developers. Don’t make changes at the last minute. Something is likely to get missed in the process.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Todd Howard Explains How Skyrim’s Bugs Should Improve Fallout 4’s Wasteland

When you build a giant open world filled with hundreds of missions, miles of terrain, and dynamically scripted civilian populations, your chances of shipping with bugs are significant. No open-world game seems to escape this reality – even the thought leaders in the space like Rockstar and Bethesda have faced their share of problems.

With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in particular, Bethesda Studios faced the daunting task of trying to put out technical problems like crippling framerate issues on the PlayStation 3. We broached the topic of lessons learned and how the development team has evolved its practices for Fallout 4 with game director Todd Howard. He explained that Skyrim's popularity and the sheer volume of player data in the game created challenges to troubleshooting bugs in the open world.

“It probably took us a month or two before we really had a handle on it,” he says. The team had to decide how it was going to identify problems before it could figure out how they happened or why they surfaced at particular times.

“All of the updates we did on Skyrim, and all of the DLC – once we sorted [the bugs out] we had a different process for how we checked the content out,” he says. “There will always be some problems.” Howard says that figuring out how to deal with those issues is the trick.

“I think we’ve gotten way better there,” he says. “For us, [the player’s] saved game is the number one thing. If the game crashes that’s bad, but it is nowhere near as bad as someone’s saved game being hosed. That’s our scenario that we will do anything and everything to avoid. We made a lot of progress given how Skyrim went, but we did it during Skyrim. This just builds on that."

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Oculus CEO More Fully Explains Pricing, Talks Rift Life Cycle

At E3, we had a chance to catch up with Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe to discuss what it’s going to take to bring the first consumer Rift home. Iribe had previously been quoted as saying that consumers can expect to spend about $ 1,500 for a PC and the Rift kit. We asked him some more specifics about how the company arrived at that number. 

“That’s the general range. I want to see, and hope to see, full package Rift plus PC for even less, for down to $ 1,300 or $ 1,200.,” Iribe says. “The $ 1,500 statement was around what people can expect to spend for a full package at retail. You’ll buy parts a lot cheaper. If you do it yourself and you’re putting together your own PC, you’ll be able to do it for a lot less than $ 1,500. This is something we’re really pushing on our retail partners and our OEM PC partners, we’re going to be out there heavily promoting it at $ 1,500 or less for the full package. Rift is only a small fraction of that. Most of that cost is the PC.”

Since Iribe mentioned that the company is in communication with PC makers, we inquired about a licensing or certification program. With so many manufacturers out there, less educated PC consumers will likely benefit from some kind of guidepost about which systems will work with the Rift.

“It definitely makes a lot of sense to have partners that we’re certifying and we pre-test and approve,” Iribe tells me. “We’ve been engaging with a lot of the different PC makers out there to get them Rift kits so they can go and start testing. We’re working with them on what kind of benchmarks we need to give them that they can run to make sure their PC is Rift-compatible. We really want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to know that if they buy a PC, it’s guaranteed to work. Ultimately, that’s up to the PC makers.”


Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe

For those that don’t want to jump aboard right at the start, the wait for the next version of the hardware won’t be a full console cycle away. It will likely come much more quickly, though not as rapidly as some other consumer tech categories.

“This isn’t going to be the console five, six, seven year life cycle. VR is going to move too fast. It’s going to innovate and evolve really rapidly,” Iribe says. “We’ve already seen with the Rift from inception to shipping a product, we’ll have gone through two developer kits, many prototypes leading to a consumer Rift at high quality. We’re going to come out with another prototype some amount of time after we ship the Rift, and then we’re going to come out with another consumer product. We want to move quickly here, but we also want to give developers time to create content and ship against an install base. If we move too quickly, we need to always ensure absolute backward compatibility, so that everybody’s content works on the next generation as we’re updating.”

There’s no set schedule in place at this point. Iribe says that Rift version two won’t be locked in until the company better understands what major new features will be integrated.

“There’s that happy medium between the console life cycle, which is far too long, and the smart-phone cycle, which is every six months or so. That’s a little too short for where VR is going to begin. It’s somewhere in between,” he explains. “We’re still trying to figure when our version two would come together and what features will land in it. If there’s a feature that would take an extra three to five months, we might push out the schedule if it’s that compelling of a feature. It’s too early to tell now. At this point, it’s all sights focused on shipping Rift and Touch.”

Oculus’ first consumer Rift virtual reality display will be out in the first quarter of 2016. The Oculus Touch controllers will be made available shortly thereafter, some time in the first half of 2016.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

CD Projekt Explains The Witcher 3′s Ever-Changing Weather With Exclusive Screenshots

Today our review went live for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and one of its main attractions is its vast world, which contains new discoveries around every corner. CD Projekt RED wanted the world to feel as real as possible, bringing back its day/night system and creating a dynamic weather system. Both of these elements impact your journey in different ways. For instance, a storm might make for choppy waters when sailing and taverns get much more lively at night. We nabbed some exclusive screens to show just how much detail goes into creating the ever-changing atmosphere. For more context, we also chatted with art producer, Michał Stec.

Note: Click images to enlarge.

What went into creating the weather and environments for The
Witcher 3?

Hundreds if not thousands of hours of browsing through references:
paintings, pictures, films, photos – everything, really. I remember this one
time, Lucjan (one of the leads) and I were on our way to some party and he
suddenly stopped the car, pulled a camera out of the glove box and started
taking pictures of the setting sun to use as a reference. We drew a lot on
photographs and movies. Sometimes we'd
pull up a visual reference on our second monitor and not quit until the game
looked exactly like the image.

It was the same with rain and other weather conditions. We
often scrutinized even the little details, like how fast a storm should roll
in, how clouds should move. I personally am a big fan of snowboarding, so I had
plenty of inspiration and references to draw on for the peaks in Skellige
[laughs].

On top of all that, we of course drew on the extraordinary
talent and hard work of one of the best art teams ever. For the icing on the
cake, we added special effects: lovely little cloud details, wood dust
particles, fog, smoke plumes, etc. Add it all together, and you get amazingly
believable locations.

 How often will the weather change as you play?

All the time – the weather is constantly changing. This is a
randomized mechanism; working it out took us quite a while, since it required a
lot of testing, checking if how it felt in the game was okay, or if it was too
much. The weights given to particular weather conditions change depending on
the region – in the swamps of No Man's Land it's practically always foggy and
rains a lot, whereas in Skellige you can expect more thunderstorms near the
coasts and sunshine up in the mountains.

 What do you think the changing weather and day/night shifts
add to the experience?

I think it's really important – it adds a lot to the
believability of the world. We were able to create moments in the game like you
get in life: You look at the sky and think, "Damn, it's gonna rain, I need to
find shelter and meditate till morning." There are places in the game where you
don't want to go after dark – dark alleys in the city, for example. Personally,
I love playing at night, particularly when the moon's shining brightly.
Monsters act differently at different times of day, and so do Geralt's skills –
noonwraiths famously are tougher around noon, and Geralt can acquire Abilities
that, for example, speed up his Vitality regeneration during the day.

What has the advanced tech allowed you to do that you
weren't able to in The Witcher 2?
 

I think the guys from our amazing Technical Arts team are
better positioned to answer this question. In general I can say we were
definitely able to pimp out the clouds and fog. Given how passionate fans are
about these technical issues, I think it's best to leave the details to our
experts.

How will the weather affect your adventures? Are there any
events that are related to the weather? Do NPCs characters react to the
changing time/weather?

NPCs definitely react to the weather, just like animals and
monsters do. Inns will become crowded in the evening and at night, for example.
Thieves, thugs, and other dangerous elements come out at night as well. Some quests
can only be triggered at certain times of day.

What are you most excited for with this feature? Anything
you think fans will be surprised to know about it?

The most interesting part was the creation process. It was
an enormous challenge to make locations that are always accessible (open
world), that can be examined from all angles with a torch in hand (we don't
block the player from exploring) and that in addition also have to look good
during the day, at night, in the morning, in the evening, in the morning when
it's raining, in the evening when it's foggy, during a storm, etc., etc.
There's an amazing number of combinations. Plus we had to give the player total
freedom to screw with the lighting. You can light and extinguish candles,
torches, etc. This took a massive amount of testing, tweaking…and time
[laughs].

Be sure to compare all the different screens of the same place with different weather and time of day effects in the gallery below! 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Rocksteady Explains Batman: Arkham Knight Dual Play And Riddler’s New Robots

With Batman: Arkham Knight just over one month away, Rocksteady has launched a new weekly show to give a deeper look at the game. In the first episode of Batman: Arkham Insider, the team breaks down the most recent trailer and talks about the heroes’ motivations and conflicts among them.

Batman and Barbara Gordon have kept the secret that they are working together, but that deception will come to a head in Arkham Knight. We also learn a bit more about the Dual Play feature that brings Robin, Nightwing, and Catwoman into the fight.

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In the trailer, you might have also noticed Catwoman taking apart some robots. Those belong to The Riddler, who is more aggressive in his quarrel with the Bat this time out.

At the end of the video, Rocksteady answers five gameplay questions. These address new uses for batarangs and the grapnel gun, and whether we'll be able to use skins right from the beginning.

Batman: Arkham Knight will be out on June 23 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

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