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Hello once more NAGirrians, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have the most elaborate Minecraft project ever undertaken, a neglected console gets some renewed lovin’, South Africa’s internet gets globally shamed, Hearthstone announces something new and shiny and Strafe gameplay gets shown off.  There’s also news on Blizard’s Overwatch and Battlefield Hardline, as well as other highlights from the week and a ton of videos. Hit the read more to see what’s inside.

Console/other news

Hey, remember the Ouya? Everyone was kind of excited about it for five minutes or so, the tiny gaming console that would essentially be a streaming device.

It’s been off the grid for quite a while now, after it appeared to be honestly not all that exciting. It officially launched in 2013, but seemed more like a way to play mobile games on your television than any kind of a breakthrough in cloud gaming.

Now it is once again being hauled from obscurity, this time by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has thrown the struggling console a $10 million lifeline.

I’m not sure the lump of cash is going to do much to reignite our interest, but I suppose with $231 billion to throw around, it’s a paltry price for Alibaba to pay.

You may have heard quite a while back (four years back, in fact) that a group of dedicated Game of Thrones fans were attempting to rebuild the entirety of Westeros in Minecraft, including all the castles and scenery.

What started has a lunatic idea has grown into something pretty spectacular – four years on, the project is now estimated to be 70% complete, and it’s looking pretty damn good (well, as good as anything in Minecraft can look, anyway).

Job leader Jacob Granberry said this: “We’ve developed a custom launcher for the game that comes packed with our WesterosBlocks mod which includes over 50 new custom blocks and textures specifically made for our server.

“So, we completely repainted our map with new textures, and some of our old builds we are building over bigger, better, and more realistic.”

I can scarcely commit myself to what I’m going to eat for dinner – something on this scale is preposterous to me. For a look at the world, check out this video featuring a voiceover from Bran from the series (he clearly has free time since his storyline doesn’t feature in the latest season).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has embarrassed us South Africans once again, by officially changing the definition of broadband internet from 4Mbps to 25Mbps.

This makes “broadband” essentially unattainable for anyone unwilling to pay for those absurdly priced fibre packages.

It’s clearly aimed at raising the standards in developed countries such as the States, but it does leave Telkom a bit more red-faced than ever.

Sources: Gamespot, Eurogamer, IGN

Gaming news

Good news for Hearthstone fans (of which I gather there are many, scurrying about) – a new single-player expansion is on the way, coming in April.

This should in theory be a similar style to the Curse of Naxxramas adventure we saw in the middle of last year.

Blizzard is keeping quiet on the whole thing for now though, so there’s no word on whether or not this new adventure will adopt a similar structure to CoN, giving the players an opportunity to unlock different “wings”, which will unlock new cards after completion.

Otherwise, there’s also a rumour going around that Blizzard is looking into a 2v2 mode, which seems like a logical next step. So NAG collective, do you play HS? How has your experience been thus far?

Remember recently on the site we spoke about a game called Strafe? It’s the procedurally-generated Kickstarter FPS with a hilarious retro-style advertisement (spoiler: everybody dies).

That was cool and all, but now we get a first look at some actual gameplay – keeping in mind it’s “pre-alpha” etc etc.

Still, it gives just enough of a blast of that Quake/Unreal-esque action to give my nostalgia bone a good tickling. The developer commentary is also a special brand of hilarious irony that had me smirking the whole way through, check it out:

Moving onto a slightly higher budget spectacle, the delayed Battlefield Hardline will be getting its second beta this week coming, running from February 3rd to 8th.

It’s due to be completely open to all players on every conceivable platform, and will take place on two maps – Downtown and Dust Bowl.

Visceral’s GM Steve Papoutsis said, “There won’t be a cap on the max progression level so whether you’re busting criminals or fleeing the cops, unlock away.

“The beta is your shot to test the different classes, toy with different gadgets, and find your crew to take down your foes. To be frank, we want you to play this beta to death. We need you to. This test is only going to make the game stronger, and help us take a look at ways we can ensure we deliver the most stable launch you deserve.”

EA and Visceral will no doubt be hoping for better feedback this time around, after the initial beta was met with an outcry from fans that it played like a re-skinned Battlefield 4. Unusually for the internet, this criticism was actually pretty valid.

Still, I’m glad to see EA are taking the time to try and get things a little more polished and original before release, hopefully avoiding a disastrous launch akin to Battlefield 4’s. Will you be giving the beta a try?

While you wait, check out this new trailer:

We finish things off this week with what is easily my most anticipated game right now – Blizzard’s FPS, Overwatch.

The Blizzcon 2014 reveal had my mind leaking out of ears, and I cannot wait to see what a developer like Blizzard can do with a free-to-play FPS.

According to an “insider”, the team working on the game right now is trying to settle on a good way to monetise it. It’s easily the most tricky aspect of any free-to-play title, as anything approaching pay-to-win will be met with a monumental uproar from the fanbase – myself included.

Since it’s Blizzard we’re talking about, I have faith. I don’t think they’re going to ruin such a promising title with a crappy payment model, and whatever they come up with I’m sure it’ll do just fine.

As for a release date, rumours are that the team is pushing for a 2015 launch, but the bigwigs at Blizz are skeptical, and looking towards a more realistic window of 2016.

Sources: Gamespot, Eurogamer, CVG, IGN

Videos

Dying Light finally launched last week, and the survival horror game brought a launch trailer with it.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is possibly the most anticipated title of the year right now, and this week we get a 14 minute, 60fps gameplay video. Nice.

Evolve is coming in just a couple of weeks, and this week we get a video showing off the game’s single-player component.

Lastly we have the first trailer for the second episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series. Nice!

Best of NAG

Delano loves indies. Like, really loves them. And, being the nice guy that he is, he plays them so you don’t have to. Like this one, for example.

Wesley Fick loves technology. Like, really loves it. So he builds the best possible rigs within a specific budget, so you don’t have to. Like this one, for example.

Chris Kemp loves getting angry about things. Like, really loves it. So he rants about random gamer crap so you don’t have to. Like here, for example.

Did I mention Delano loves old games too? Like, really loves them. So he gets his nostalgia on so you don’t have to. Like here, for example.

More stuff like this: