tales from the borderlands rhys

Hello once again NAGyrixians, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This week brought some updates on the Uncharted movie, some internet-wide Ubisoft criticism, and surprisingly Activision does something right. Then there’s some good (and bad) news on DirectX 12, a weird Activision mobile, The Witcher 3 devs so do something awesome for a fan and Rockstar finally talk about heists. Then of course there’s the usual crop of videos and highlights from the website, hit the jump!

Console/Hardware/Other News

See, now I’m just using “other”. Which basically means I can talk about anything. However, in the interests of wielding this power responsibly, let’s talk about the Uncharted movie.

I’m starting to think it might be terrible. It started out well enough, with Mark Wahlberg on board as Drake and David O. Russell directing (the guy behind Oscar winners like Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle), but things have fallen off pretty precipitously since then.

Russell has pulled out, as has Wahlberg, and they recently just offered the part of Drake to Chris Pratt – who passed. But more importantly, Chris Pratt?

I love Pratt (Parks and Rec, Guardians of the Galaxy), he’s hilarious, but as Nathan Drake? Next they’ll be offering it to Seth Rogan.

Sticking with the weird comedy pedigree, Seth Gordon is attached as director, the guy behind Horrible Bosses. Bizarrely, Sony is apparently looking at the writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty to write the screenplay.

It feels like a hodgepodge mismatch of talent, and when you see lead actors and directors dropping out, all you need to do is throw in a couple of script rewrites and you have a disaster on your hands. It’s either never going to happen, or it will, which might be worse.

Yeah, I'm not seeing it.

Yeah, I’m not seeing it.

Moving along from “other” to “hardware”, let’s talk performance. Ubisoft raised an enormous internet stink this week with the release of Assassin’s Creed Unity, which has been hit pretty hard by critics for its somewhat mediocre gameplay and even harder by fans for its poor performance.

Forbes writer Paul Tassi went so far as to call the publisher “the new EA”. Ouch.

Ubisoft this week made a statement that they’re aware of issues affecting AMD configurations on PC, GPU and CPU. So if you’re playing Unity on an Nvidia setup, you’re in luck! You just have a mediocre game, without the mediocre performance.

Console gamers haven’t been very happy either, with PS4 and Xbox One users both reporting that the game isn’t managing to maintain a stable frame rate. Keep in mind, we’re talking about a locked 30fps here – the frames are reportedly dropping as low as 20. Perhaps even more strangely, the performance on the more powerful PS4 has been worse than on the Xbox One – resident guru Mr Fick says this is due to the Xbone’s buffer CPU, but I’m still going with shoddy code. Probably both though.

It’s not all bad though – surprisingly, Activision has been praised for Call of Duty’s performance, a sentence I haven’t been able to write in a good few years. Perhaps there’s something to this 3-year development cycle after all.

Keep in mind I’m talking specifically about the PC, although I haven’t heard too much moaning about the console versions. Eurogamer ran a test, and managed to get PS4 levels of performance (1080p, 60fps) on a super budget gaming PC.

This is a pretty massive improvement on Ghosts, which Eurogamer claim they could never get to run properly at 1080p, 60fps, even with a monster rig.

That alone highlights the enormous importance of proper game optimisation – it’s a big, big deal folks. All the more reason for us to be demanding and expecting it – there’s no excuse for crappy coding. Credit where it’s due, Activision (and developer Sledgehammer, of course).

So smooth, so pretty.

So smooth, so pretty.

DirectX 12 is in the pipeline, and is promising some pretty great things – better support for multithreading, reduced CPU overhead and significantly reduced power consumption. Oh, and did I mention “dramatically increased performance” in games?

Sound good? Wait for the punchline – it won’t be coming to Windows 7. Yup, Microsoft is hoping to quietly force people to move on from what is arguably their best operating system by dangling the carrot of DX12.

They need to as well, considering 52 percent of all Microsoft OS users are still on Win7, making it by far the most popular.

It might seem like a dick move on their part, but we probably shouldn’t be all that surprised – they did say they were discontinuing mainstream support for Windows 7 in January next year, after all. So, will DX12 be enough to get you to upgrade?

Sources: IGN, CVG, Eurogamer, PC Gamer

Gaming News

When I say Activision, what comes to mind? Call of Duty? Guitar Hero? World of Warcraft? How about, Duck Commander: Duck Defense, a tower defense game for mobiles.

Featuring a redneck family from the deep south with the surprisingly civilised sounding name Robertson, the game actually looks pretty fun – if you’re into that sort of thing.

Ducks, squirrels, beavers and gators will all die at the hands of your hunting dogs, decoys and even lightning rods. It’s a standard Louisiana good-time. Yeehaw!

C'mon, it looks fun. Just admit it.

C’mon, it looks fun. Just admit it.

Proving themselves once again to be a developer of the people, The Witcher 3 devs CD Projekt Red were particularly moved by a fan’s letter, and decided to put his likeness in the game as an NPC.

The fan in question, Nick, suffers from one the shittiest things imaginable – constant, cluster migraine headaches. Basically a headache from hell, all the time, barely staved off with a handful of drugs.

According to Nick, one of the only things that could take his mind off the pain was The Witcher 2, which he was completely engrossed in. He sent a thank you letter to the Polish studio to say as much, and in return they decided to put him in the game.

Cool, huh?

So, it’s that time of year again – Rockstar is promising to deliver heists to GTA V. According to the developer, heists “will be available for all four consoles as the first GTA Online Update to happen after the game launches on PS4 and Xbox One”.

It’s not much, but it’s something. Remember, the last we heard about this was an apology all the way back in June that they’d missed their target release window. June.

There’s still no exact promise on a release date, but Rockstar just better hope that there isn’t some major bug in the next-gen releases that requires an update, sans heists – the internet bear will only tolerate so much poking.

They do however say they’ll have some more details “very soon”, which also isn’t specific. So we have an undefined release date on release date information. How meta.

Sources: Gamespot, Eurogamer, CVG


Ninja Theory’s Hellblade hasn’t gotten a lot of press, but with all the recent disappointing AAA releases, perhaps it’s time to show the underdogs some love. Here’s a developer diary to pique your interest for this action-adventure title.

Microsoft is promising to mix things up a little for Halo 5: Guardians’ multiplayer component, with more powerful abilities available to the player – which seems to be the new standard, for now. Check out this multiplayer beta gameplay for a glimpse at the changes.

Telltale Games has a lot on their plate at the moment, with both the Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands adaptations. We got our first details of the former this week, and now we get our first proper look at the latter.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is, apparently, pretty damned awesome. I’m sure the RPG lovers among us are foaming at the mouth to get their hands on it next week, but maybe in the meantime you can make the itch worse by checking out this video on the game’s various classes and specialisations.

Best of NAG

First up for our highlights of the week is some tales from the home_coded stand at rAge – a look at what some of South Africa’s young game developers are working on. The indies featured in this week’s column are Dead Run and Beat Attack.

Next up is the review everyone has been waiting for – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Good, bad or another mediocre entry into the series? Let NAG veteran Miklós Szecsei break it down for you.

Then we have my self-plug for the week, as is customary. This Wednesday I wrote about five things on my gaming Christmas wishlist. And I have high hopes that Santa Gaben will be delivering these things to me come December 25th. Check out mine, then tell me yours in the comments.

Finally, check out Laura Shortridge’s column on Blizzard’s Overwatch. More specifically, Laura discusses Blizzard’s approach to the representation of female characters – certainly a step in the right direction for positive practices in the industry.

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