Greetings NAGultizus, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. In the news this week is the least surprising Call of Duty reveal ever, Blizzard gives free characters to all and sundry, the Dark Souls publisher reveals their newest project, an unlikely sports star opens up about his video game addiction, a great indie platformer doubles it’s already massive amount of content, and an industry veteran dumps on the AAA gaming industry. All that, some videos and highlights from the week, after the jump.
The Witness and Braid designer shows off next game
Indie darling Jonathan Blow gave a quick look at his upcoming game during a presentation at Reboot Develop this week, albeit a very early prototype.
“This is a work-in-progress,” Blow explained. “These are not final visuals, but it’s a nice little grid-based game. I’ve got a guy who can run around and push blocks and stuff.”
The point was more to show off the engine Blow has been building, but he does mention that he’s done about 25 hours worth of gameplay for the game already. The visuals may be in their infancy, but the game is clearly coming along quite nicely.
Blizzard celebrates big Heroes of the Storm update with a bunch of free characters
Okay so maybe you’ve never played HotS. But the game is free, and now you can get TWENTY characters for free. Who doesn’t love free stuff?
Blizz has announced four “Mega Hero Bundles”, each of which contains 20 characters for your enjoyment. The bundles are divided by theme: Assassins, Tanks and Bruisers, Supports and Specialists, and Flex.
Log in some time between 25 April and 22 May and you can pick whichever bundle you want. Sweet deal. It’s also a fun game, and a good jumping off point if you’ve never played a MOBA before. It’s quick, not very punishing and pretty easy to play.
Call of Duty WWII confirmed
Well, this is a surprise to nobody. After the fallout of Call of Duty in space and the success of Battlefield One, Activision promised they would be “returning to their roots” with the next Call of Duty.
So much so that they’re literally calling the game “Call of Duty: WWII”. You know exactly how I feel about all of this if you read my column this week; this may be the Call of Duty that actually gets me to pay attention again.
There’s a countdown to the official reveal livestream, which will be happening on Wednesday night our side.
Dark Souls publisher releases details on new project
Bandai Namco officially announced Code Vein this week, a vampire RPG where you “feast on the blood of enemies in a massive interconnected world”. Think more Blade vampires rather than Bram Stoker vampires though. More trenchcoats than top hats.
As you may expect it’s a third-person action-RPG, coming to “major home consoles” in 2018. Presumably this means Xbox One and PS4, with the PC being a big maybe.
Snooker star admits being a recovering video game addict
Australia’s best snooker player, Neil Robertson, has said that his form in the sport was affected drastically by a video game addiction. Becoming the world champ back in 2010, he says that an obsession with the likes of Diablo 2, World of Warcraft and League of Legends started to destroy his career.
“I was part of a raid team, and we played a few nights a week. When we got out to China for a tournament, I was trying to make the raid slot. When I got out there, the connection was so bad that I couldn’t get access. I was furious for four or five days.
“All I was thinking about was getting back home for a connection from China. I lost my spot on the team, and all of a sudden that became more important than the snooker which is absolutely crazy.”
He goes on to talk about wasting entire practice days with hours-long FIFA 14 marathons, and his mother having to keep tabs on Diablo 2 obsession.
“It got to the point, back home in Australia, that my mum would have to create an account and log on to see if I was actually on it instead of playing snooker,” he said.
He’s gone completely cold turkey now, and his snooker has drastically improved as a result. I’m glad to see this being an issue that people are talking about – I’ve spoken before about my own struggles with problematic gaming (wow, nearly four years ago, I feel old), and I know many others who’ve experienced the same.
Video game addiction is on the slate to be included in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which will give it a little more recognition as a serious social issue that is being largely ignored.
Kudos to Robertson for opening up about it.
N++ gets massive update, half off
If you’re reading this and it’s still the weekend, you probably still have time to get ultra-minimalist platformer N++ for 50% off on Steam.
What started life as an addictive flash game that gained internet notoriety for it’s challenging but simple gameplay, N++ has morphed into a beast of a game that has over 2000 levels.
Or should I say HAD 2000 levels, because with the Ultimate Edition update that number has been doubled to an absurd 4340 “hand-crafted, finely-tuned levels”. There’s nothing automatically generated or half-assed here, this is a full-blown labour of love.
If you’re into 2D platformers, you’ll find many, many hours of entertainment here.
Cliff Bleszinski criticises AAA gaming market
The dude behind Gears of War has broken his ties with big studios and started his own thing, Boss Key Studios.
They’re working on LawBreakers, a team-based multiplayer FPS which was going to be free-to-play but has since moved to a more conventional model – Overwatch pulled it off after all.
At the Reboot Develop conference this week Bleszinski called the AAA game industry a “nearly unsustainable model”.
The key word here is “nearly”. Making and marketing a AAA game costs a buttload of money, but there are publishers who can do it – Activision, Sony, Take Two etc. What this means for the games industry however is that these publishers tend to play it safe rather than take risks, which results in the somewhat stale industry we have today.
Bleszinski advocated for “double-A development”, “Games that look and play great but pick their battles in terms of budget and marketing,” often released only through digital distribution platforms and/or with free-to-play models.
This attitude can lead to big successes like Rocket League or Rust, and with most of the modern world having access to broadband internet it’s becoming a more and more attractive option for developers who want to avoid publishers, retail distribution snafus and exorbitant marketing budgets.