Headline Of The Week

The Spike VGX event was live-streamed in the early hours of this morning, and it was an utterly abysmal mess of awkward jokes, ‘world exclusive’ announcements that had already been leaked prior and generally shoddy production. However, there were one or two announcements that made watching the three hour show a bit more bearable.

TellTale Games announced two new episodic projects that they will be working on in 2014; one based around the lore of Game Of Thrones (which had been previously rumored), and more unexpectedly a collaboration with Gearbox Software on a new installment in the Borderlands franchise, Tales From The Borderlands. The real show stealer however was a new project from Hello Games, an independent company based in the UK with just four members of staff, who unveiled the massively ambitious No Man’s Sky – a first person open-world space exploration adventure with procedurally generated worlds that reminds me heavily of the classic Elite.

It was also nice to see some of the developers have fun with the awards that were handed out; the pick of the bunch being the image of Joel from The Last Of Us doing his best Antonio Banderas impression as Naughty Dog picked up the accolade for Best Studio.

In Other News…

The PlayStation 4 was expected to break records at its UK launch, and that has indeed proved to be the case. By selling 250,000 units on its opening weekend Sony have managed to surpass the previous record held by its own handheld PSP console. The quick sales also meant that rather embarrassingly for Nintendo, the PS4 raced beyond the lifetime sales of the Wii U in the UK in mere hours.

The President of Sony Computer Entertainment, Andrew House, later blogged that the PS4 had sold 2.1 million units worldwide meaning that Sony have a slight upper hand on Microsoft in the console race at this point in time. Although the Wii U remains ahead of both its rivals, it would not be surprising to see it slip behind come the end of the year.

Microsoft have revealed the first 30 developers that will be self-publishing titles on the Xbox One via its ID@Xbox scheme. The list includes developers such as Crytek (Ryse), Double Fine (Broken Age), Team 17 (Worms) and Comcept, the studio set up by Keiji Inafune to create the spiritual successor to Mega Man, Mighty No.9. ID@Xbox allows the self publication of games without additional fees, and the director of the programme Chris Charla has praised the initial response from developers:

“It’s just a first selection of the hugely diverse complement of developers who are working on bringing games to Xbox One via ID@Xbox beginning early next year…

We want to make Xbox One a great platform for developers of all scales and sizes for years to come. We’ve been amazed at the response from developers to ID@Xbox, and we really appreciate their patience as we ramp up the programme.”

In a bid to ingratiate itself to the indie community, Microsoft have also dropped their requirements for platform exclusivity and will work with developers on a game-by-game basis. The requirement for release day parity with other platforms however is still in effect

Development on all future DLC packs for Battlefield 4 has been put on hold by developers DICE as they look to fix the stability of the online multiplayer environment. The game has been plagued by issues on all platforms since its release last month, and the release of the China Rising DLC only exacerbated the problems with players being affected by corrupted save data, loss of EXP accrued in matches and in the most serious situations complete server crashes.

A patch was released on PC, PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360 this week to address some of the biggest problems including a bug causing one-hit kills. Full notes on the patches can be found on the Battlefield 4 forums.

There have been a few release dates announced this week worth mentioning, in chronological order below:

  • The second season of the excellent The Walking Dead will start on 17th December 2013
  • As announced at the VGX, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition will release on PS4 and Xbox One on January 28th 2014
  • Cranky Kong and the rest of the gang will pop along in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on 21st February 2014 for the Wii U
  • The digital upgrade for Ultra Street Fighter 4 will be coming around June 2014
  • Finally, Bungie’s much anticipated follow-up to the Halo franchise, Destiny, will be arriving on September 9th 2014.

The award for surprise release of the week goes to Final Fantasy VIII, which is now available on Steam for £9.99. Alongside the full game originally released in 1999, the Steam version also comes with a full version of Chocobo World (the PocketStation minigame previously only available in Japan) and a Magic Booster feature which will bump up the player’s inventory of spells if they are struggling along. Similar to Final Fantasy VII on Steam, you will require a Square Enix account to launch the game.

This week also marked the first time that Steam has passed seven million concurrent users, with the record coming during the Steam Autumn Sales.

Killzone: Shadowfall was the highest ranking PS4 game in the UK Game Sales Chart this week, but even the new software couldn’t oust the old guard of Battlefield 4, FIFA 14 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts, which climbed back to the top of the pile.

Perhaps more notable was that Knack outsold Super Mario 3D World, but neither of them made the top ten; they were 13th and 14th respectively.

Top Ten For Week Ending 30th November 2013 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

2 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

3 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

4 – Killzone: Shadowfall (Guerrilla Games)*

5 – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft Montreal)

6 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

7 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

8 – Need For Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games)

9 – Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft)

10 – Batman: Arkham Origins (WB Games Montreal)

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

When it launched at the start of October, GTA: Online had the potential to become everyone’s new favourite online sandbox – however, a glitchy and troubled launch left many players jaded with the whole experience. Well, if you happen to be one of those poor souls, salvation may be at hand.

A fan-made modification for Just Cause 2 has been in development for over two years now, bringing players together on the massive island of Panau to cause all sorts of vehicular mayhem. This week it was announced that the mod will be coming to Steam and will be fully integrated with the online service, with a final beta test running from this weekend through to the 14th December. The final version of the mod will be available on 16th December, and has received the thumbs up from developers Avalanche Games. The game regularly comes on sale for about £2 on Steam and the gameplay is a bundle of laughs, so it might be worth checking out sometime.

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