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Halo 5: Guardians Free Update Adds Big Team Battle Mode, New Gear

Halo 5: Guardians will receive its first free post-launch content this month in the form of Battle of Shadow and Light. The release adds armor, weapons, and 16-player Big Team Battle maps and modes.

Big Team Battle is the update’s centerpiece, adding 8v8 playlists and maps to the game, available in both Custom Games and Matchmaking.

New content also includes the Dying Star Light Rifle and stealth-oriented Shinobi armor, along with 48 additional REQs, vehicle skins, and a “Shove It” assassination move.


Our Take:

Halo 5: Guardians impressed last month.. Free post-release content gives players an added bonus to supporting 343 Studios stewardship of the franchise. – The Feed

How To Survive In Black Ops III’s Zombies Mode

Call of Duty Black Ops III has a range of cool multiplayer modes to dive into, but if you’re into survival against impossible odds, Zombies is the mode for you. The wave-based combat tasks players with handling a delicate balance of progressing through a city full of secrets and holding back, attempting to play it safe against waves that continue to increase in power.

Players get points for every creature kill and can spend these points on new weapons by finding gun outlines on walls throughout the city. This currency can also be used to unlock gates that lock off areas of the city, ride the train to move quickly to far areas of the city (or attempt to escape a failing wave), or purchase special gumballs.

Here to kick ass and chew bubble gum 

Gumballs provide some of the customization elements in this mode, as players form a “gumball loadout” before each game that can provide powerful boosts that can make all the difference during a critical situation.  Some of the more powerful boosts are limited use; players can refresh their stocks of these rare gumballs by collecting special blue fluid. While the gumballs that come out of the machines can be anything in your set, having a stacked gumball loadout of a bunch of tasty rare treats can give your team the edge when you’re going for a real “progression” run.

Unlocking the shadows

As you explore the city, you’ll find tools to give you advantages on each run. Items like the fulminator (which you can always find right at the start in the beginning alley, though its location changes a bit) can be used to break down the plant pods that infest various areas. 

These pods can contain everything from errant live grenades, zombies, or free weapons, so it’s up to you to determine whether the timing is right to risk popping one open. Some important sections and secrets of the city can only be opened by using The Beast, which is a cooldown-based “buff” that allows players to turn into a monstrous octo-monster that can be used as a powerful defense against a difficult wave and an essential door-buster and crate-smasher. 

Various areas of the city can only be interacted with by using Beast abilities. Whether it’s charging an electrical device with its lightning blast or smashing open a door with its tentacles, you want at least one player on your team well versed in using Beast abilities. Players can turn into the beast at many locations around the map, and the starter alley contains what amounts to a Beast “tutorial” with a few Beast-accessible objects and Beast-specific secrets.

Progress as a pro team or slowly over time

While Zombies might feel a bit frustrating at first, with players only surviving a few waves and gaining a handful of account-level experience and minor unlocks, over time (and maybe with a group  of curated friends) progress becomes easier. This is a challenging survival gauntlet, and while I fully expect some crazy “raid-style” team to complete it quickly after release, it may take regular players quite some time to move through the shadowy city. 

That’s alright, because it’s a fun experience whether you know your allies or not. Players intuitively pick up on ways to “game the system” as they discover just how the waves work. For example, if your team decides to “farm” the first alley for a bit before moving on, one strategy allows you to leave one monster alive in a wave and then take advantage of the extensive breathing/exploration room this will give you – Wave six includes a smattering of highly annoying flying bug creatures, but leaving one alive is easy to do and the one errant insect does not pose a lethal threat in the slightest. Using the currency you’ve acquired to that point to explore the town safely until the game decides to kill the last remaining spawn and trigger the next wave (it takes a while!) is fairly easy, and a good way to explore the early areas of town as you search for artifacts and secrets.

Zombies is a super-cool game mode, and can actually stand solidly on its own without the other content that Call of Duty: Black Ops III has to offer. I highly recommend diving into the dead, knowing that it’s an unforgiving experience that’s perfect for those craving a co-op challenge. Zombies is available to play solo, but the experience is absolutely better with others, either randoms online or a hand-selected crew of undead slayers. – The Feed

Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode 2: Assembly Required Review – Cracks In The Foundation

Telltale’s episodic adventures have typically seen months pass before a new episode continues the story. With Minecraft: Story Mode, Telltale launched Episode 2 just two weeks after the debut effort. Unfortunately, the quick turnaround on the sophomore episode appears to have bitten Minecraft: Story Mode, as Assembly Required doesn’t do a good job of playing to its strengths, and is a weaker episode as a result.

Assembly Required is the shortest installment I’ve played in any episodic adventure series to date. Brevity isn’t necessarily bad; it wouldn’t be a problem if Episode 2 delivered on what made Episode 1 enjoyable, but it doesn’t. A big strength of the first episode is in how charming it is thanks to humorous dialogue delivered by a strong cast of voice actors. The cast still does an excellent job of keeping the tone lighthearted and delivering some laughs, but they have fewer opportunities to shine thanks to a script that seems more interested in moving the story along than showcasing the powerful personalities.

An issue that hurt the first episode was the lack of notable narrative-shaping decision points. At the end of Episode 1, players chart their next move as they decide whether to travel to recruit Ellegaard or Magnus, two separate members of the legendary guild known as the Order of the Stone. The entire first half of Assembly Required changes based on that choice, which fooled me into thinking who I pursued made a difference. However, upon my return from the journey to recruit Ellegaard, Magnus is waiting for me anyway, counteracting the weight of the first act’s conclusion. 

The post-episode rundown demonstrates just how little impact your choices have. When comparing your choices to those of other players, the rundown shows just four decision points compared to the five from Episode 1.  Not only that, one of them is a look at which weapon you chose during an early enemy encounter – a decision that does not impact the story in any way.

Though I feel less involved with shaping the story of Minecraft: Story Mode than I have with other Telltale properties, the narrative kept its hooks in me. I’m still curious to see how Jesse’s adventure to reunite this legendary team of warriors plays out, and if they can stop the unprecedented threat to the universe that the entire adventure is based on.

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When the battles occur, I like how I was able to choose between using the different weapons in my inventory during battle, with the bow and arrow controlling different from the sword. Minecraft: Story Mode possesses the most involved combat system of any Telltale adventure series, and I still relish the combat situations when they present themselves. However, the fun system isn’t on display as prominently in this entry compared to Episode 1.

The bulk of Assembly Required’s action occurs at the very end during a fast-paced and exciting encounter that results in a sword fight and a series of quick-time events. This climactic battle acts as the definite high point, and was the first time I felt truly excited to continue the story during this episode. Just as the tale is ramping up (after about an hour of total playtime), it cuts to the teaser for Episode 3, leaving you unfulfilled.

The unfulfilling experience is hurt even more by its unpolished nature. While Episode 1 features a few technical glitches, Episode 2’s issues are much more apparent. Music cuts out suddenly, characters briefly disappear in the middle of scenes, and during conversations characters can begin talking before the other characters are finished saying their lines. 

Even with its brief length and scattered pacing, Episode 2 could have been noteworthy if it played to the strengths that propped up Episode 1. Instead, Assembly Required doesn’t bring the charm or the high level of action its predecessor does, and it ends up feeling like an epilogue rather than a full episode. I’m still excited to learn what happens next in Minecraft: Story Mode, but save for the final sequence, Episode 2 does little to fuel that anticipation.

This review pertains to the Xbox One version. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS, and Android. – The Feed

Call Of Duty: Black Ops III Borrows From Mirror’s Edge With Freerun Multiplayer Mode

Call of Duty: Black Ops III introduces new movement options for the soldiers of the future. You’ll be able to wall-run, power slide, and pull of strings of moves to get through the perilous environments.

To help players become more familiar with the traversal system, Treyarch is introducing the new Freerun mode. This features four courses that become progressively more complicated puzzles.

Players will compete solo against the clock for spots on the leaderboard. It evolved from a test environment used to perfect the movement system and matured into puzzles that include target shooting that factors into final time results.

Treyarch studio head Mark Lamia also announced a loyalty program for players of the last three Call of Duty entries. If you reached level 10 in Black Ops II, Ghosts, or Advanced Warfare, you’ll get a special calling card. At level 31, you’ll get reticules for your weapons. 

If you’ve prestiged in any of those games, you’ll get a weapon camo that appears embossed with prestige icons from Black Ops II. These bonuses are only available on current-gen consoles and PC. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops III will be out on November 6 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC. Campaign mode will only be featured on current-gen consoles and PC.


Our Take
As a training mode, I like the idea of Freerun. I'm not sure this is where I'd spend my time with Call of Duty, but it's a clever way to give fans a way to compete while honing their movement skills. – The Feed

Minecraft: Story Mode To Be Streamed As “World’s Largest Let’s Play”

The launch of Minecraft: Story Mode is closing in. Telltale and YouTube Gaming are planning a huge event to capitalize on the buzz, promising the “world’s largest let’s play” of the series’ first episode.

The Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California is set to be packed on October 12 with Telltale fans, YouTubers, and some of the series cast and crew to help direct the first episode, “Order of the Stone.” The Arclight currently holds over 800 guests. Fans who can’t make it into the theater will be able to stream the event on the YouTube Gaming channel the same day at 7 p.m. eastern.

No confirmation on attendees is available, but the series cast includes comedian Patton Oswalt, Ashley Johnson (The Last of Us), comedian Brian Posehn, Billy West (Futurama), Corey Feldman (The Goonies), and Paul Reubens (Pee-wee’s Playhouse).


Our Take
It would be interesting to hear the stats on the largest group let's plays to see if any record is actually being set, but a massive crowd experience for Minecraft: Story Mode sounds awesome. If it's anything like those classic midnight cult film screenings, this should be a blast. Fingers crossed enough of the cast's more comedic members show up to poke fun. – The Feed

The unlikely creative relationship behind Minecraft: Story Mode

How did Telltale and Mojang turn the ultimate sandbox game into a narrative adventure? By taking inspiration from stories that Minecraftplayers create…and from the movie Goonies. …

Gamasutra News

Campaign mode removed from last-gen versions of Black Ops 3

Activision has announced that Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Black Ops 3 will feature “multiplayer and zombies gameplay only.” …

Gamasutra News

Halo 5’s Breakout eSports Mode Gets Revamped Before Launch

If you played the Halo 5: Guardians beta in December or January, you had a chance to give the new Breakout mode a try. It’s designed with eSports in mind, with quick, single-elimination rounds. When you play next month, it’s going to be a little different.

343 Industries watched players during the beta and noticed that a number of rounds were ending in ties. When teams were down to their last player, it wasn’t uncommon to see the survivor hiding from opposing forces.

In order to combat this, 343 added a flag to the mode. Now, rounds can be won either by eliminating the other four-person team or running the flag into their base. 

During our time with the mode, two of about thirty rounds ended with a flag capture. The others ended as you would expect, though some of the conclusions were forced by someone making an unsuccessful flag run.

The change doesn’t play a big part in the early part of a round, but I expect players will begin incorporating the flag into their strategies quickly. It accomplishes the desired effect, but more importantly, it shows one of the reasons why having an early beta can be beneficial to design as well as server testing.

For more on Halo 5: Guardians, check out our coverage of the campaign from last week’s preview event. – The Feed

WWE 2K16’s MyCareer Mode Sounds Like A Superstar Dream Come True

With WWE 2K16 just a month away, it’s finally time for us to find out what the “campaign” looks like. Sure, create superstars and legendary matchups is great, but sometimes you just want to be the scrappy rookie trying to make a name for himself.

MyCareer mode starts you off in NXT (the WWE minor leagues), as you work towards becoming a champion. Once you’ve accomplished that goal, you can stick around and rule the ring or graduate to the main rosters.

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The ultimate goal is to enter the Hall of Fame, but along the way, you’ll have milestones to accomplish. How you get to the Hall is up to you, and it doesn’t require championship runs. Being an entertaining mid-card star is a valid path to fame. All of that seems nice, but it’s how you shape your superstar’s personality and rivalries that caught my attention.

Being able to set up distractions (either the ref or superstars), drive rivalries by cutting promos, and ultimately mold yourself into the ideal face or worst heel sounds like what WWE fans have been looking for. You can check out the new trailer above and read our recent hands-on preview of this year’s Stone Cold Steve Austin showcase mode for more information.

WWE 2K16 will be out for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3 on October 27. – The Feed

We Go Hands-On With Telltale And Mojang’s Minecraft: Story Mode

Exploration is a key element of Mojang’s wildly popular Minecraft. From the first moments players step into the game, they can explore the world, as well as how they can use the world’s natural resources to their advantage. Perhaps the most compelling aspect, however, is the exploration of the player’s creativity. In spite of all of this, one area remained largely unexplored in the video game: the story.

With Minecraft: Story Mode, Telltale and Mojang have worked together to fill that narrative-shaped hole in a way that is satisfying and enjoyable for fans of both studios’ work. Novelists and fan-fiction authors have attempted to chisel a story out of the rich Minecraft universe, but Telltale’s collaboration with Mojang is the first time that a cohesive arc has been attempted in any official capacity. 

During my hands-on time with a demo of Minecraft: Story Mode, I was given a highly abridged tour of the first episode. Story Mode stars stars Jesse, a reluctant hero who can take on one of six different looks across different skin tones and genders depending on what the player wants. The first scene had me tracking Jesse’s pet pig Reuben. I guide Jesse along the pig tracks, searching a large area as I close in on Reuben’s location. Unfortunately, as soon as Jesse reunites with Reuben, a group of creepers, zombies, and spiders close in on their location. 

Jesse unsheathes his wooden sword and begins defending his beloved Reuben. The zombies approach first, sending me into an action sequence where I press a button when they get close enough. After vanquishing a few zombies, Jesse’s cheap wooden sword shatters, leaving him vulnerable. With Jesse realizing that they are about to be overtaken, I’m prompted to devise a plan of escape. While the choice seems like a typical Telltale decision tree moment, the execution of the plan is interrupted as Jesse’s friend Petra swoops in and saves the two.

The next scene flashes ahead to a moment where Petra and Jesse discuss the wither skull she procured. She claims to have arranged to trade it to someone at the upcoming EnderCon in exchange for a diamond, but the whole situation seems fishy. From there, the scene demonstrates Story Mode’s take on crafting, as Jesse builds a stone sword from two cobblestones and a stick. In this situation, I was provided the ingredients, but it was up to me to arrange them in the correct way on the crafting table.

The story flashes ahead yet again. Something terrible has happened at the aforementioned EnderCon, and the entire attendee-base is fleeing in horror. It doesn’t take long for me to figure out why – a giant, three-headed beast emerges from the venue and floats menacingly toward the terrified crowd. Could this have been the result of whatever suspicious situation Petra got herself into with the wither skull? The answer isn’t clear in this demo. The beast emits a tractor beam, which pulls in anything and anyone unfortunate enough to be in its way. While it seems likely that you could face off against this beast in some capacity in the future, my only option at this juncture is to run.

Jesse and his friends see their window to escape and take it. As Jesse runs alongside the rest of the fleeing attendees, I’m tasked with guiding his path. Any obstacle I’m unable to evade in time with horizontal movement throws a quick-time event my way. I pressed each button command with no problem, causing Jesse to successfully escape.

The group reconvenes in a shelter. An inactive portal seems like the only hope for safety. Jesse lights the portal and the group eagerly jumps in. A hardened warrior named Gabriel confronts Jesse about his destiny in helping resolve the issues causing this invasion, but before the conversation ends, the monster’s giant tentacles smash through the walls and the tractor beam begins abducting Gabriel and Petra. Though both are floating away, I only have time to save one. I choose Petra, which leaves Gabriel to float off into the distance. Petra is safe, but before Jesse is able to escape, one of the monster’s tentacles whacks him hard, sending him flying into the portal as the screen cuts to black.

Even as someone with little more than a passing interest in Minecraft, Story Mode brought a smile to my face a few times over the course of my demo. The characters are well-written, and the voice cast, which features the likes of Patton Oswalt, Catherine Taber, Brian Posehn, Ashley Johnson, Dave Fennoy, Billy West, and Paul Reubens, does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life.

Minecraft: Story Mode looks to deliver the traditional Telltale experience within the constructs of the Minecraft universe. Time will show if Telltale can differentiate its latest project enough from its other licensed franchises to give it its own unique hook outside of the Minecraft name, but for now, we're optimistic. Minecraft: Story Mode is set to launch this fall. – The Feed