WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 12TH – 18TH MAY

Headline Of The Week

If there is anything to take out of this week, it’s that we’ve all apparently been lied to. You don’t need to wait until June 9th for all the big E3 announcements, because the likes of Microsoft and Ubisoft have been spilling the beans on projects left, right and centre over the past seven days.

Let’s start with the big news from Microsoft – starting from June 9th in all markets, you will be able to purchase an Xbox One without a Kinect sensor for £349; a price cut of just under £70 from the original RRP. Whereas the Kinect had been placed as ‘an absolutely integral part of the Xbox One experience’ and was originally set to be a mandatory requirement, a dearth of games utilizing the system, negative consumer feedback and the fact that the move now puts Microsoft’s console on a level pricing field to the PlayStation 4 seems to have forced Microsoft’s hand yet again on the console – which has earned a reputation for u-turns in policy.

The other announcements from Microsoft this week also suggest that they are finally in tune with the modern gaming audience; namely the requirement to have an Xbox Live Gold account to use entertainment apps on Xbox 360 and Xbox One is to be dropped in June as well (meaning that services including Netflix which require their own subscription and simpler applications like Internet Explorer or Twitch, free to use on pretty much every other device in the world, are no longer behind a paywall). Consumers will still need a Gold account to get online multiplayer and Games With Gold, but even the latter has received some boosting news – the service will be coming to Xbox One in June, debuting with Max: Curse Of The Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault, while 360 owners will get Dark Souls, Charlie Murder & Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.

Oh yeah – and Halo 5: Guardians has been confirmed for an Autumn 2015 release.

The question is now then – are you more tempted to pick up an Xbox One?

In Other News…

In a rather stealthy reveal, Ubisoft have stated that Far Cry 4 will be released in November 2014, and will be cross-gen. The early rumours that the game would be set in the Himalayas also proved to be spot on, as the player will take control of a character flung into the fictional region of Kyrat, where they will meet a fabulous man in a pink shirt if the box art is anything to go by.

Th as-of-yet unnamed dude in the pink shirt will have a long way to go to emulate Vaas Montenegro

The as-of-yet unnamed dude in the pink shirt will have a long way to go to emulate Vaas Montenegro

The fourth main game in the series (which I’m kind of disappointed isn’t a sequel to Blood Dragon) will be co developed by Ubisoft Montreal and four other studios, and will include rideable elephants…which makes it an instant Game Of The Year contender. Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot has expressed his desire in a statement to investors for the game to build upon the great success of Far Cry 3, which has sold over six million copies since it’s release in 2012. Expect to see some in-game footage at E3.

The Far Cry reveal did appear to shield a bit of bad news though – the much anticipated Tom Clancy’s The Division has been delayed into 2015. Even though the game will not be hampered by cross-gen development, the milestones for the project have been extended for the sake of quality; much like Ubisoft’s recent approach to Watch_Dogs.

Riding high on the euphoria created by the reveal of Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire last week, Nintendo have outlined plans for a UK release of Pokemon Art Academy. The 3DS title, which teaches users how to draw with the pocket monsters as inspiration, was previously set to be a Japan only release but will be arriving on British shores by July 4th.

Rockstar Games, developers of Grand Theft Auto V (which sold 33 million units in 2013 apparently) have got an unannounced next-gen project in the works according to parent company Take-Two. The news came during a conference call on Tuesday, sparking off rumours yet again of the possibility of a next-gen sequel for Red Dead Redemption or Bully, or the possible revival of Agent which is in danger of entering The Last Guardian­-levels of vapourware.

Despite posting a net loss of $30.8 million for the last quarter, the products under Take-Two’s umbrella have enjoyed envious levels of success. Aside from GTA V¸ Borderlands 2 continues to sell strongly thanks to extensive DLC and a release on PS Vita, NBA 2K14 has shipped over six million copies with the award-winning Bioshock: Infinite also shipping a similar figure, and everyone’s favourite history simulator Side Meier’s Civilization V has sold over five million.

It’s a case of out with the new and in with the old on the UK Game Sales Charts this week – Titanfall stomped back to the top, followed by the evergreen FIFA 14 in a slow week for new releases. Due to powers somehow more mystifying than the creation of the universe, the Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft has also managed to creep up the charts again as well.

Top Ten For Week Ending 10th May 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment/Bluepoint Games)

2 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

3 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Beenox Interactive)

4 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (4J Studios)

5 – 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil(EA Canada)

6 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

7 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveller’s Tales)

8 – Battlefield 4 (DICE Studios)

9 – Lego: The Hobbit (Traveller’s Tales)

10 – Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Traveller’s Tales)

And Finally…

Supergiant Games’ follow up to the superb Bastion, Transistor, is out next week on both PS4 and Steam (May 20th for the curious). Aside from the basics of real-time/pause combat the game will employ, the developers have been quite quiet about the content of Transistor, but to whet your appetite a trailer has been released a few days before it comes out.

I’m still not fully sold on the way the game plays, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love the style and artwork of Transistor, plus the soothing sounds of Logan Cunningham’s narration. If it’s half as good as Bastion was, I will consider a purchase – in the meantime, you can watch the trailer below.

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