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Overwatch Ranked Competitive Mode Will Hopefully Return In Late June

In a community Q&A video on Facebook today, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan fielded a number of questions about the game. When the servers open up in just a few hours, you’ll be able to dive in, but one mode will be absent.

Competitive mode was pulled from the release for some tuning, and Kaplan explained what players can expect when it returns. He was asked what, if anything will be changing.

“A lot has changed,” Kaplan says. Competitive mode is the current focus of the Overwatch team. It’s the most important for us to add to the game. Players saw that we tried to get it in for closed beta, and we had a version in and working. The feedback that we were seeing was a little bit critical of some of the decisions we made, and we took that to heart.”

The first major content update for Overwatch will be the game’s competitive mode. Kaplan is hesitant to promise a specific date and was even hesitant to commit to release window, but says he’s hopeful for a late June rollout.

“We already have it in internally, and we were playing it this weekend, starting to get a feel for it,” he says. “One of the things that we want to change is the season length. We heard a lot of complaints from the community that they felt that one-month seasons were too short. We thought there was a lot of cool about one-month seasons. Particularly, Hearthstone does it really well. This game is different than Hearthstone, so we decided to go with seasons that will probably be about three months. Even more specific than that, there probably be a two-and-a-half month season with a couple of weeks off in between.”

Competitive mode will likely have new game play elements. Kaplan says that sudden death was happening too frequently. The team is also looking at how to better incorporate that into Assault and Escort match types.

Overwatch servers are going live today, May 23. You can play on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

[Source: Overwatch on Facebook]

 

Our Take
With Blizzard’s experience in the esports arena, there is a lot at stake for making sure Overwatch is well-tuned for those players. Most people won’t miss this at launch, and those looking for it have time to practice before the first season kicks off.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

The Madden 17 Connected Franchise Mode Wishlist

Madden is promising a revamp of its Connected Franchise mode (CFM) for Madden 17, and so we've decided to create our own list of what we hope to see.

While we certainly don't expect all of these items to be tackled this year, we think it's a good base for developer EA Tiburon to work from now and in the future.

What are some of your ideas? Please put them in the comments section below!

For more on Madden NFL 17, check out the 27 ways the game is trying to fix money plays, ratings & more.

GENERAL

  • Create NFL Storylines to surface player personalities and the drama of the NFL. Players could ask to be traded, suspended, regress or progress in ratings dramatically necessitating being cut unexpectedly or demanding a new contract. I understand the league/Players Association may be sensitive to suspensions, so perhaps non-specific language like "league discipline" can be used for incidents.

  • Surface league news in the front of the menu system, don't bury it like in Madden 16.

  • Add training camp so you can have storylines like hold outs, injuries, and the emergence of diamonds-in-the-rough.

  • Bring back NCAA's browser-based team creation tools.

  • Player morale tied to playing time, contract situation, and overall success. This can be merged with the current confidence system.

  • Press conferences where players and coaches can call out and motivate each other.

CONTRACTS

  • More contract options such as front-loading/back-loading and performance bonuses. Bonuses could influence when teams might cut players to avoid paying them on certain dates.

  • Restricted free agent status.

  • The transition tag.

  • The fifth year option for first-round picks.

  • Player contracts commensurate with career status. Thus, star players strive for that last payday or the team puts its faith in you as an up-and-coming player and locks you down with your first big contract. Some players demand contracts that put them in the top-echelon based on other players at their position.

  • Player-for-a-day respect contracts for retiring players.

  • Teams approach players to take a pay cut for good of team.

  • The ability to re-sign players through contract extensions, not just those who have one year left.

  • More retirement options. Talk specific players back out of retirement or prevent it via a back-and-forth dialog.

ROSTERS

  • Add a practice squad

  • Gameday active/inactive list

  • Put formation subs, defensive assignments, and special teams personnel in the CFM My Coach menu so you're not rushing to do them pre-play.

  • Fix the weird roster substitutions for the pre-season so you don't see your starting running back, for example playing special teams.

COACHES, COORDINATORS & GMS

  • Hire coordinators, position coaches, and GMs and have them influence your franchise. GMs could control scouting and free agent signing, while coordinators/position coaches influence players' development.

  • Coaches have to navigate GM/Owner pressure to sign, re-sign, draft, or play certain players as starters. This could extend into different players being suggested by different camps during the draft.

  • Scramble to interview coaches as they become available at the end of the regular season or wait on those still in the playoffs.

  • Inject coaches' decisions besides injuries into the game like the old NCAA concept that would ask you to go for the INT vs. be conservative, for example, during key moments. Get some information from coordinators about the tendencies of your team and opponent during the game so you can highlight mismatches.

 

READ ON FOR PLENTY OF IDEAS ABOUT FREE AGENTS, THE DRAFT, AND MORE!


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Halo 5′s Forge Mode Coming To Windows 10

The line between Xbox One and PC continues to blur, as 343 Industries announces the ability to make and play Halo 5 Forge maps on Windows 10.

343 announced today that it is bringing Halo 5: Guardians' Forge mode to PC as a free Windows 10 app. Entitled Forge – Halo 5: Guardians, the standalone mode will allow users to create and play their own Forge maps on PC and then publish them to Xbox One. The Windows 10 version also will allow players to use a keyboard and mouse, and supports resolutions up to 4K. 

343 isn't giving a time frame for the Windows 10 release, stating that more information will come later this year. However, Xbox One players can expect "new environments, advanced file-sharing
capabilities, new pieces, palettes, props, and much more" for Forge mode in the coming months. 

[Source: Halo Waypoint]

 

Our Take
Allowing players to create and share their own maps in an FPS has always been a tantalizing proposition, and despite the recent hullabaloo over Doom's SnapMap feature, Forge is clearly still the most advanced tool available on consoles. User-created content is a trend that I hope continues to grow, especially in the shooter space.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

NBA 2K16 Adds Spectator Mode For Upcoming Road To The Finals Tournament

With its Road to the Finals tournament looming, NBA 2K16 is activating 2K Streamcast, an in-game feature that allows players to spectate live games and watch previously played games directly from their consoles. The mode is set to go live on May 21 as the Road to the Finals tournament commences.

Road to the Finals is a 16-team single elimination tournament with $ 250,000 at stake. The tournament takes place on May 21 between 10 a.m. PST and 6 p.m. PST with the championship happening on June 1. The 2K Streamcast feature gives players the ability to tune in from all over the world to watch the tournament play out in real-time or catch up after the games are completed.

We reached out to 2K to see if the team has any plans to expand the functionality to games outside of the Road to the Finals tournament. A representative from the company confirmed that at this time, the feature will only be supporting the Road to the Finals tournament. The Road to the Finals tournament and the 2K Streamcast feature are set to hit NBA 2K16 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 21. Check out the announcement trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

 

Our Take
Though it is disappointing that this feature doesn't immediately support things like watching friends' games or top players' games outside of this upcoming tournament, this could very well be the team behind 2K testing the waters. It seems every company is making a jump to the eSports arena, and if this Road to the Finals Streamcast feature is popular and successful, it would be a no-brainer for the game to expand the feature to include more games.  

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Report: Madden 17 Focuses On Franchise Mode, Delivers Deluxe Editions

Madden 17's cover star will be revealed today, but a leak from the official Xbox online store appears to show some more tantalizing details about the game.

Operation Sports uncovered the listing at the store – some of the links for which may have already been removed at the time of this writing.

Here's the game's description from the store:

Take your team all the way in Madden NFL 17 with a renewed focus on Franchise mode, putting you at the center of your team's Championship run. Arm your team for gridiron glory on both sides of the ball with the most balanced gameplay to date, featuring all-new ball carrier feedback cues, defender fake out mechanics and an innovative, authentic defensive AI system. Madden NFL 17 is the most complete Madden…ever.

Pre-ordering any of the apparently three versions of the game will get you goodies. Pre-order the standard edition ($ 59.99) gets you nine Madden Ranked tickets (used in the series' Draft Champions mode) and up to seven Madden Ultimate team pro packs. The Deluxe edition ($ 79.99) pre-order offers 30 Ranked tickets and up to 10 MUT all-pro packs, while the Super Deluxe edition ($ 99.99) ups the ante with 30 Ranked tickets and up to 30 all-pro MUT packs. All pre-orders also offer a month trial of EA Access.

[Source: Xbox Store, Operation Sports]

 

Our Take
That this is from the official Xbox store makes it seem legit. The franchise changes – whatever that encompasses – is welcome and overdue, and we'll have to see if the somewhat generic gameplay promises make as big of a difference as the above description seems to indicate. We should know more at E3 in mid-June.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Halo 5: Guardians Free Memories Of Reach Update Brings New Mode, Map & More

Sometime this month, Halo developer 343 Industries will release Halo 5: Guardian's latest free update, Memories of Reach. The update includes a new arena map, multiplayer game, weapons, and much more.

The multiplayer game Infection is a 12-player, round-based mode that starts out with one infected player who must convert the others by taking them out. We'll have more on Infection here at Game Informer later today, so please check back.

Meanwhile, the map – Statis – is a mid-sized asymmetrical map that 343 says it will detail more in this week's livestream on Wednesday, May 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. Pacific on Twitch and the Halo Channel.

Memories of Reach also contains matchmaking improvements, new REQ items, balancing updates, and more.

For a complete rundown of the update, check out Halo Waypoint.

[Source: 343 Industries]

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Exclusive Video And Details For Halo 5’s Infection Mode

Halo’s Infection mode, the fan-created multiplayer variant that eventually became a true Halo mode, is coming to Halo 5: Guardians this month. The mode plays out as humans-versus-zombies outbreak with infected players attempting to grow their numbers by taking out the opposite team, who is simply trying to survive. For its Halo 5 iteration, 343 is going above and beyond to make the mode stand out as more than just a variant playlist, with three modified maps, a multitude of aesthetic changes, and more customization options than those available in Halo 4.

343 Industries passed along a video from community coordinator John Junyszek and multiplayer engineer Geoff Landskov detailing some of the ways this version of Infection differs from Halos past while showing off some gameplay. We also had a chance to speak with Junyszek and Landskov about how different the maps are and how much balance has been taken into account when considering Halo 5’s abilities.

You can check out the video below, and Infection will arrive alongside the free Memories of Reach update coming later this month.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Game Informer: How have the maps been changed for Infection?
John Junyszek: For the dev maps we “infected,” it was actually my hack-a-thon project that I pretty much just did on the side, and I developed certain rooms with longer hallways, put in cover for zombies to be able rush down those longer hallways and I tried to change up the layout as much as I could and make it suited for Infection.

One of my things, back in the day before I even started working here was, playing a lot of Infection and even doing a little bit of YouTube videos for Halo Infection, so I felt like I was probably one of the more prepared people to make these kind of infected maps so I just put it upon myself to go ahead and “infect” them.

So this was your project for 343’s hack-a-thon? That’s where everyone pursues their own project for a short period of time in order to foster new ideas, correct?
Junyszek:
We had one, but it wasn’t really official. I just sort of did it while everyone was doing their own hack-a-thon. There was a 343 official one, but I just did mine to sort of go with the spirit of it.

Geoff Landskov: We basically had a full week to do whatever project we wanted, so we got a lot of really good things out that, one of them being the new Infection maps.


Plaza's Forge-infected dev map will be called Nerve Center, while Overgrowth's variant will be called Malignent.

Can you give us specific change examples? How is R.I.P. Tide different from Riptide?
Junyszek:
I put cages in certain rooms, l blocked of a couple pathways to make dead ends that players could hold out. One of the other things is bottom middle – I put up bars so that blocks off anyone traversing through bottom middle, but it is also a good holdout spot, so if a player wants to hold out down there, they are dedicating to that one spot, and the bars allow zombies to smack him if they want to wait for guys to go all the way back to the bars. Then they can hit them. And then you also have the fact that he’s holding out in a tunnel and he’s fighting off through this one area and trying to make his last stand. It’s a bunch of little spots like that scattered throughout all these maps, especially the ones I made. That’s just one example.

Have the core shapes of these maps changed?
Junyszek: It’s all Forge. It’s not actual dev work on the map. It’s placing objects to make the hallways longer or adding cover to those hallways. They all have a different aesthetic than they normally do.

Landskov: They have a green tint, and they all look kind of dreary compared to their normal counterparts. It’s mostly the fog and the screen-space coloring feels very different.

You mentioned in the video above that the HUD for the infected has changed?
Landskov:
The HUD is basically the same. It’s just a screen affect, which is the green veins coming around the sides. We wanted to make sure it was very obvious for players that were playing as infected characters. All the gameplay parts are the exact same.

What are some of the biggest surprises you came across while tweaking, adjusting, and playtesting for this version of Infection?
Landskov:
The biggest surprise for me was how opinionated everyone was about on what kind of abilities we should and shouldn’t have. We experimented a lot with abilities for infected players. The thrusters were a huge point of contention; actually, we’ve got multiple camps that like it both ways. We ended up going with it because it turns out most players aren’t at our pro team’s caliber and they feel they have a lot better chances as infected players with thrusters. We experimented with doing sprint, but it felt like the infected didn’t really have a unique movement experience. It was a much more just traditional, “You are a zombie now,” but nothing has really changed about what you do.

You changed up the starting weapons. It seems like you want to move players away from using pistols at the start.
Landskov:
That was another point of contention. Most modes that we’ve released for Infection in previous games do have pistol starts, but they also didn’t have "our" pistol. What we really noticed in playtests was as infected, you could kind of get boxed in on your spawns and this would happen almost immediately because you’ve got a bunch of players, if they decide to set up correctly, all have pistols and can headshot you before you really make it too far out there. Where, if you have limited pistols on map – first it makes people actually move on the map and kind of go for new weapons. It turns out people prefer pistol over things like sniper, more shotgun ammo, or other power weapons throughout the map, because it is so good for lining up headshots when we have no shields for infected. We really, really wanted to increase the movement around map and also decrease the frustration players were having who were getting head-shotted over and over again.

The alpha infected are invisible. Did this dramatically change the balance of the mode?
Landskov:
They’re partially invisible and play a little bit stealthier. What we’ve noticed with alphas especially, is they do a really good job sneaking up on people over-relying on their radar. The alphas can take advantage of that at certain places, but I would say we don’t notice too many changes in player behavior, except in the beginning part.

Is there a fear of them being overpowered by staying off the radar?
Landskov:
It has stayed balanced in terms of how many human surviving rounds we want, which is relatively low. We want it to be a unique experience where you did something really right to be able to survive the entire round. In terms of that it has worked pretty well. I would say we haven’t really noticed the alpha infected being the reason people die as the game goes on. They usually die just because of getting overwhelmed by too many zombies after the first few deaths, I’d say.

Junyszek: The alpha-zombie traits are just there to help them get started, get those first initial infections, and make sure the game doesn’t stagnate right at the start.

Junyszek mentioned playing Infection on YouTube prior to working at 343. What is your history with the mode, Landskov?
Landskov:
It was probably my favorite mode in previous Halos to play socially, just because I really enjoy getting a game of Infection going. It’s something I am passionate about. Probably not at the same level as John [Junyszek], but it’s something I definitely sought out and enjoy working on it.

The best part, for me especially, are the custom games you can get from having a base infection mode. All the crazy stuff people have created in previous Halos – I really wanted to enable as many of these as possible in our engine. That is kind of the big high-level approach I took, and then also adding an Infection game mode is always really fun. A Lot of people are really passionate about it, myself included.

Considering its popularity, why hasn’t Infection been there from the start?
Landskov:
We had so many game modes we wanted to get out [at launch] and we did have a lot of changes we made for this engine that stopped us from being able to directly be able to port game variants over. We also just wanted to make sure we had a fully thought-out experience instead of just enabling some kind of free-for-all mode that sort of looks like Infection, but doesn’t reach parity with previous Halos. We wanted to make sure we had a good experience for players.

Can you go through some of the planned customization options?
Landskov:
The one I am probably most excited about is the surviving points over time. That’s something we haven’t had in previous Halos and when making a few custom game modes, it ended up being really fun and changed the way you play Infection. Right now, it’s mostly about getting points from killing zombies or becoming last man standing rather than focusing entirely on the survival aspect. We wanted to make sure we had the tools to make sure we could do that in custom game modes, and of course include one of these in the future in our playlist, once we see how the community feels about them and what kind of things they produce.

We wanted to include toggle-able infected effects. We know in halo 4, people were really annoyed that they couldn’t actually disable those. If you were playing Infection, you basically had to play our fully customized version of Infection. We wanted to make absolutely sure we disabled those. We added a few extra features like enable and disable last man standing nav points, convert on suicide option – all pretty standard stuff.

The other thing we changed was multiple last Spartan standings. Instead of just having a single one every single time, we wanted to make sure you could have a last squad standing so you could have two or three people holding out and get the last man standing bonuses. Although, that did exist in Master Chief Collection, as well.

In the standard upcoming Infection playlist, will the last man standing bonuses be consistent?
Landskov:
It will always be the same thing for each game variant. Since we’re launching with just one version of Infection, it will always be two swipes to kill, increased reload speed, and unlimited ammo.

Junyszek: The last man standing takes two hits as opposed to just one sword hit and he’s done and converted. He actually gets another chance.

For our review of Halo 5: Guardians, head here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Fallout 4′s 1.5 Update, Survival Mode Now Live On Console

The 1.5 update to Fallout 4 is now available for consoles, adding the punishing new survival mode and paving the way for May 19th's Far Harbor DLC.

The update, which was released earlier on PC, fixes a host of bugs and also gives players who are looking for a more grounded experience a chance to play without fast travel, more stringent weight limits, and more. You can read former intern Luke's impressions of survival mode here.

The download is around 2GBs, so you might want to get it started sooner than later, if you're dying to check it out.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has Zombies Mode, Early Map Access On PS4

Infinity Ward has developed Call of Duty since the beginning of the series, but it's never dabbled with the undead. Zombies mode was the brainchild of Treyarch, which introduced the spinoff mode in its Call of Duty: World at War. Activision and Infinity Ward just announced the latest entry in the series, which not only takes the series into space, but also marks the first time that players will be able to fight off zombies in an Infinity Ward-developed Call of Duty title.

Infinity Ward's communications director, Eric Monacelli, revealed the mode in a post on the PlayStation Blog, saying "…Infinite Warfare will introduce an original cooperative Zombies mode that takes players on a wild ride through a new storyline with unique gameplay features and mechanics." More details will be coming soon. 

Additionally, PlayStation 4 owners will get access to the game's DLC map packs 30 days before they're released on competing platforms. 

Look for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare on November 4.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]

 

Our Take
Once again, zombies wear down a team of humans. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

New Fallout 4 Update Includes Survival Mode, PC Mods & More

Fallout 4's 1.5 update is now out for users on Steam, and Bethesda says that it should be available for consoles next week.

The update gets the game ready for Far Harbor DLC, includes PC open beta mod support, Survival difficulty, fixes, and more.

Here's the full list straight from Bethesda:

New Features

  • New Survival difficulty
  • Survival adds additional challenges including no fast travel, saving only when you sleep, increased lethality, diseases, fatigue, danger and more. See the in-game Help menu for more details.
  • Characters set to Survival difficulty appear under their own Character Selection filter
  • Third person camera movement improvements when player is close up against walls and other objects

Fixes

  • General stability and performance improvements
  • Fixed rare crash related to reloading a save that relies on Automatron
  • Fixed issue with the robot workbench camera not moving properly immediately after canceling out of the menu
  • Fixed issue with perks being repeatedly added when reloading a saved game while in robot workbench
  • Fixed issue with Ada not properly traveling to an assigned settlement
  • Robots can now be assigned as settlement vendors
  • Fixed issue with "Appropriation" where blueprints would not appear properly if the container had already been looted prior to getting the quest
  • In "The Nuclear Option," entering the Institute using the targeting helmet on Power Armor no longer inadvertently causes the player to go into combat, and become stuck in the Institute
  • Fixed distance check with Robotics Expert perk
  • While in Workshop mode, if the Jump button is remapped, the Y or Triangle button can still be used to jump
  • Fixed issue with "Defend the Castle" where speaking to Ronnie Shaw would not properly complete the quest
  • During "The Nuclear Option," fast traveling away from the Institute immediately after inserting the relay targeting sequence holotape will no longer block progression
  • Fixed issue where Workshop placed light bulbs would occasionally not light properly
  • Fixed occasional flashing issue with entering and exiting Power Armor
  • Fixed issue where terminals would not work properly after downloading and initializing an Add-On from the Add-Ons menu

 

[Source: Bethesda]

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