Greetings NAGeasants, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. In the news this week is a scary virus ruining everything, disappointing news for Halo fans, good news for Thief fans, bad news for Hitman fans, good news for Overwatch fans who like watching ancillary content and bad news for people who hate VR and Half-Life. Also some good news for people who like a sprinkle of videos and highlights from the week. Read all of the assorted news, after the jump.
Halo 6 at E3? Nope.
Halo fans will be disappointed to hear that developer 343 Industries has nothing to show them at E3 this year.
Responding to a Reddit user, community manager Brian Jarrard said, “We’ll have a little something at E3 but it’s not related to the next major entry in the franchise”.
What we know already is that there won’t be a new Halo in 2017, or new Gears. It appears Microsoft will be devoting the bulk of their time to Project Scorpio, their next maneuver in taking back the console crown from Sony.
In terms of that “little something”, it could be for Halo Wars 2. Or a Master Chief plushie. The only thing we know for sure is that it won’t be Halo proper.
Ransomware outbreak spreads fast, does major damage
In case you’re not familiar, “ransomware” is the lovechild of capitalism and internet trolls. A virus infects your computer, encrypts all your files and demands some amount of money in exchange for a key that will unlock it.
It would be sort of hilarious, if a vicious variety called WannaCry wasn’t shutting down hospitals in the UK right now. Entire wards have been shut down, patients turned away, and staff sent home.
In a plot twist that seems ripped straight from a Dan Brown novel, the ransomware is a tool that belongs to the NSA, leaked onto the internet by a hacking group known as The Shadow Brokers. It’s one of many software exploits the group made available to the public, and it’s now been turned into this.
So far the virus has hit the UK, America and Asia, with many massive companies being taken down. It’s progress has currently been halted, however, by an “accidental hero” tweeting as @malwaretechblog, who’s probably just gained about a million followers.
Finding a domain referenced in the code that was checked by the malware, he registered that domain and unknowingly activated a killswitch put in by the creator. The virus checks that domain, and if it’s live, does not continue.
It’s safe to assume the creators can and may work around this fairly easily, so get your shit update y’all.
Fifth Thief game in development
Thief is getting a film pretty soon, which is sure to be terrible, and Square Enix is apparently capitalising on this by having the fifth game coincide with the movie.
The news comes via Straight Up Films, who acquired the filming rights last year, in a post on their website. “Widely considered to be one of the greatest games ever created, a fifth sequel is currently in development to be released in step with this motion picture adaptation,” the page reads.
Square Enix said they have “nothing to announce”, which makes me think someone over at the film studio may be getting a strongly worded e-mail. Oops.
Ubisoft to spend three months fixing Rainbow Six Siege
Oh, Ubisoft. The French developer and publisher has developed a reputation for rushing out games that are unfinished and buggy, and the players of popular shooter Rainbow Six Siege have had enough.
In their new “roadmap” for the game, Ubisoft have revealed that they’ll be pushing back the game’s seasons and reducing the number of new maps releasing this year in favour of “Operation Health”.
Fixing the game has literally become an event, and Ubisoft is now under pressure to address matchmaking and server issues, resolve the ever-popular hit registration complaints, introduce a dedicated voice and party system and overall ensure less errors and more reliability.
Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan talks “balance triangle”
Balance is huge in asymmetrical multiplayer games, where there are a multitude of different characters with different abilities, and somehow you need to make sure they’re all essentially equal in power level. Not easy.
In an interview this week, Jeff Kaplan spoke about how the team manages this in Overwatch, utilising a “balance triangle”. Check it out in this video below.
Hitman franchise under the gun as developer is put up for sale
IO Interactive, the people behind the Hitman series, have been put on the market by Square Enix. In a statement to investors, the Japanese publisher described an “extraordinary $42 million loss” for the financial year. Ouch.
It’s not what you’re thinking though – they lost all that money BECAUSE they’re dumping IO. So why do it? The publisher has taken the decision to “narrow their focus to key franchises and studios”.
IO, meanwhile, had promised two more seasons worth of Hitman content last year. With their publisher looking to dump them, these may never appear. What will become of all of this remains to be seen.
Half-Life 2: VR mod gives us Half-Life 3(D)
Half-Life 2 is maybe the best game ever made (fight me), and now a group of dedicated modders are letting you play it on the Vive, for some reason.
I don’t own a Vive, so maybe this is cooler than it sounds. I can only imagine that the Ravenholm section is pants-shittingly terrifying with a Vive on your face, and come to think of it when a headcrab jumps out from behind a barrel that alone would probably be enough to send my bowels to the promised land.
It won’t just be a shoddy VR port though, they’re doing new effects, textures and models, realistic weapon interactions and support for motion controllers.
Sounds pretty baller, can anybody loan me R30K for a PC + Vive setup? You know I’m good for it.
Total War: Warhammer 2 gets its first in-engine trailer with a look at the Lizardmen.
Battletech, a turn-based tactical mech game that found success on Kickstarter, has been picked up by publisher Paradox. Here’s the first trailer.
The devs of Tropico have announced their new game, and they’re joining the red planet obsession with Surviving Mars.
Finally, Eurogamer video game cook guy tackles a recipe from one of my favourite games – Monkey Island.
Best of NAG
Next up, I rambled on about video game movies again, and cynically discussed why they’re all be bad.
HiSense is trying to break into the smartphone market, and Len has a look at their latest droppable offering.
Finally, as always, rest those tired eyes with the NAG Online podcast.