GTA Online Adds Two New Vehicles, Sixth Purchasable Property

Hot on the heels of last week’s Bikers update, which added motorcycle gangs to the already large mix of nefarious activities available in Grand Theft Auto Online, today Rockstar continued the content deluge with two new rides and a long-requested real estate expansion.

The two new vehicles include the “gangland style” Daemon Custom bike and the Kenny Powers approved Raptor three wheeler, both seen above. They look cool, but the news most GTA Online players are most excited about is likely the addition of a sixth purchasable property, which obviously includes a new garage to fill with cars, bikes, and anything else on wheels.

If you’re headed back online today, you may want to check out the biker bonuses that run through October 24th, which include a new set of discounts, unlockable rewards, and a free black Western Logo hoodie that you get just for logging in. You can also earn double RP and GTA$ while playing the new Slipstream Adversary Mode. 

Our Take
The clip at which Rockstar continues to release new GTA Online content is impressive. 

Beta Test GTA Online Adds Two New Vehicles, Sixth Purchasable Property

Gears Of War 4 Multiplayer Update Drops Pack Costs, Ups Credit Rewards

After taking in feedback from the community in the days following the Gears of War 4 Ultimate Edition launch, The Coalition is loosening up its stingy credit system for multiplayer just in time for the broader release. 

The developer outlined its new plans in a forum post, which includes dropping the price of an Elite Pack from 4,000 to 3,500 credits and increasing the match completion bonus credits in versus multiplayer. The Coalition hopes this speeds up the progression for players. 

The update also comes with a known bug that may say you earned zero credits for a match completion bonus. “If you see this, you still earned your match bonus credits and XP,” the forum post reads. “You should see your true gain reflected in your Credit Wallet in the main menu. We are fixing this bug in a future title update.”

You can read Reiner’s review of the game here

 

Our Take
The Coalition has ambitious goals for Gears of War 4 multiplayer, going as far as creating an eSports tab on its website. Given the seriousness of that endeavor, staying on top of issues like these is paramount. 

Beta Test Gears Of War 4 Multiplayer Update Drops Pack Costs, Ups Credit Rewards

Get Beyond Good & Evil For Free On PC

To celebrate Ubisoft’s 30th anniversary, the company is giving away some games to its Uplay members. This month it’s Beyond Good & Evil.

The game (on PC) is available to all Uplay members starting October 12, and once downloaded it’s yours (but the FAQ states the game is only playable “via the Uplay PC application”). The offer is a limited one, so don’t delay. For more information, click the source link below.

In other Beyond Good & Evil news, the original game’s follow up has just been officially announced as in pre-production.

[Source: Ubisoft]

Beta Test Get Beyond Good & Evil For Free On PC

Harmonix Answers Age-Old Question In Rock Band Rivals Video

Rock Band Rivals is coming in a little over a week, adding a slew of new tracks to the game and a Behind the Music-style campaign. Players can also pick up some new instruments for the game, one of which has a pretty nifty little trick. To mark the occasion, Harmonix has released a new video that may not seem at all relevant. Stick with it. Honest.

The video, Will it Bend, features host Josh Harrison testing a variety of objects to see if  they can be bent. He’s remarkably successful in his efforts, or at least he is until he isn’t.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Rock Band Rivals is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox one on October 18. Check out our preview for a deeper look at what you can expect to see in the expansion, including a listing of some of the songs you can get for preordering the game.

Beta Test Harmonix Answers Age-Old Question In Rock Band Rivals Video

The Female Version Of Prey's Protagonist Stars In The Latest Trailer

Revealed this year at E3, Prey looks to be an early contender for one of the most intriguing games of the coming year. During the E3 2016 reveal trailer, we got a look at Morgan Yu, a man who must face the Typhon threat. In this latest trailer, we’re introduced to Morgan Yu yet again, only this time, it’s the female version of the same character.

Just as with franchises like Mass Effect, players are able to choose whether the main protagonist is male or female in the upcoming title from Arkane Studios. Bethesda says that this choice will not affect the story or how your character interacts with the world, but rather it comes down to allowing players to define their identity not only through how they play the game, but also who their character is.

You can see the first footage of female Morgan Yu in the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Prey is scheduled to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2017. For more on Prey, read Andrew Reiner’s full impressions.

[Source: Bethesda]

Beta Test The Female Version Of Prey’s Protagonist Stars In The Latest Trailer

How Sonic 3 Became Two Separate Games

When Sega was in the hardware business, its stable of
developers enjoyed luxuries like having an intimate familiarity with the
hardware and only developing for one console. In addition, during Sega’s tenure
as a platform holder, developers could petition for hardware changes to assist
development. 

“When Sega stopped making hardware, things really changed in
development,” says Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. “For everyone in Sega making
software, we were pretty used to and found a lot of upside in being able to be
on our own hardware. If we had requests for our software, we went to our
hardware team and said, ‘Look, I’m making a game like this, I need this to
happen. Make it happen.'”

In the late 1990s, developers approached Sega’s hardware
team about adding a second screen to the controllers that allowed for minigames
on the go. The result was the Visual Memory Unit for the Sega Dreamcast.
However, this wasn’t the first time developers approached the hardware team for
support.

In 1993, the team was in the process of developing the
follow-up for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with lofty ambitions. “We did 1 and 2, but
the plan going forward to 3 was that we really wanted to hit a home run,”
Iizuka says. “We wanted bigger maps multiple times larger than Sonic 2, but we
also wanted to have more maps; we were having more maps that were also bigger
and take more time to develop.”

Unfortunately, as development continued, it quickly became
apparent the game was too ambitious. Making these larger stages took longer
than the team thought, and several factors came into play to change the course
of Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s development.

The first hurdle the team had to overcome, according to
Iizuka, was a commitment that Sega had made to have a game out to coincide with
a McDonald’s promotion. In addition to that, Sega was quickly discovering the
technology to support its large next game was not in place yet.

“The cartridge sizes were limited in space, so we were
finding out that not only did we have these obligations to get the content out
at a certain time, but we also couldn’t get this massive game that we wanted to
make onto the space that the cart would allow,” Iizuka says.

Sonic Team reluctantly cut the game in half to satisfy these
requirements, but the developers didn’t want the resulting two games to feel like two distinct experiences. The team brainstormed ways to make two separate cartridges feel like one
seamless experience.

They went to the hardware division and explained the
situation. The result was to have the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge feature a slot
where you could stack Sonic the Hedgehog 3 to link the two games and make one
long adventure as the developers originally intended. Thus, lock-on technology
was born.

Stacking Other Games on Sonic & Knuckles

Though the lock-on technology was designed with putting Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on top of Sonic & Knuckles, Sega knew that players were going to experiment with sticking other games in that slot. The developers had to come up with a contingency plan. The lock-on slot of Sonic & Knuckles would read the ID of whatever cartridge was put on it, so the team tried to have some fun with it. For the vast majority of games, the result is the special “blue sphere” stages from Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. However, placing Sonic 2 on the top of the lock-on slot gives players something unique.

Placing a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 cartridge on top of Sonic & Knuckles allowed players to play through the entirety of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as Knuckles, a character that didn’t debut until Sonic the Hedgehog 3. “For Sonic 2, the maps were made so that when you fly around as Super Sonic, you can fly around pretty easily,” says series producer and head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka. “The maps are pretty tall in construction, so because of that we were able to fit Knuckles in and play around with him. When we were testing it out on our side, we were like, ‘All right, well let’s take Knuckles and drop him into Sonic 2 and see what happens.’ There wasn’t really an issue, so we were like, ‘That’s a cool little surprise! We should probably leave that in there.'”

Despite the lock-on technology giving players something cool and unique with Sonic 2, the team discovered that the maps from the original Sonic the Hedgehog were not meant for a more vertical character like Knuckles. “We realized that the construction of the world was really made for Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and when you started putting other characters into that world, it didn’t really work right,” Iizuka says. “It didn’t really feel right. So our solution to that was instead of getting you into Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and trying to play with Knuckles or someone else, we didn’t want people to have a bad experience, so we put them into the special stages.”

Unfortunately, advantages such as these were lost when Sega
discontinued the Dreamcast in 2001 and became a third-party developer. “Being
able to make those requests to the people making the hardware that is going to
be running our software was something huge that we were able to do, and when
that was taken away, it was like, ‘I can’t control the hardware anymore! I now
have to make my games within the constraints of whatever the hardware manufacturer
is doing,’ Iizuka says.

Regardless of this challenge, Iizuka and his team remained
optimistic about the leap to reaching a broader audience – an attitude that
carries over into today as Sonic’s exclusivity with Nintendo platforms expires
in time for Sega to publish titles like Sonic Mania and the untitled Project
2017 in the coming year.

For more on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, check out other recent stories:

Beta Test How Sonic 3 Became Two Separate Games

Star Citizen's Squadron 42 Single-Player Campaign Drops Out Of 2016

Delays are nothing new for Star Citizen players, but fans were hopeful that they’d get to play the single-player campaign of the crowd-funded game, Squadron 42, at some point this year. That will not happen now, as the mode has been officially pushed out of 2016.

During a talk at the fourth annual CitizenCon, creator Chris Roberts broke the news that Squadron 42’s first episode will not appear during 2016. “It’s really important to do it right,” he said. “As much as we wanted to have Squadron 42 for this year, it is not going to be this year because, for all the polish we need to do, it still needs more time.”

Roberts did not provide any indication of a new release date, saying, “Please don’t hold me to dates.”

Exactly one year ago today, it was revealed that Squadron 42 would feature a star-studded voice cast including Gary Oldman. According to Roberts, the mode features over 340 speaking parts over the course of the 28 chapters.

[Source: Polygon]

 

Our Take
At this point, it’s never a surprise when this mode gets another delay, but it doesn’t keep me from feeling bad for the fans who have been waiting for so long. Hopefully the next piece of news we hear is of a solid release date that Roberts and his team of developers actually hit. 

Beta Test Star Citizen’s Squadron 42 Single-Player Campaign Drops Out Of 2016

2017 Video Game Release Schedule

If you’re wondering what games are coming up in 2017, we’ve put them all in one convenient location. This list will be continually updated to act as a living, breathing schedule as new dates are announced, titles are delayed, and big reveals happen. This should help you plan out your next several months in gaming and beyond.

As the gaming calendar is constantly changing, we highly recommend you bookmark this page. You’ll likely find yourself coming back to this to find out the most recent release schedule for the most anticipated games across PC, consoles, handhelds, and mobile devices. If you notice that we’ve missed something, feel free to let us know! Please note that games will not get assigned to a month until they have a confirmed release dates

January
Road Redemption (PS4, Xbox One) – January 15
Gravity Rush 2
(PS4) – January 20
Urban Empire (PC) – January 20
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (PS4) – January 24
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – January 24
Tales of Berseria (PS4, PC) – January 24
Yakuza 0 (PS4) – January 24
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – January 27
Disgaea 2 (PC) – January 30
Constructor HD (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – January 31
Hitman: The Complete First Season (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – January 31 

February
Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World (3DS) – February 3
Touhou Genso Wanderer (PS4, Vita) – February 7
Nioh (PS4) – February 9
For Honor (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – February 14
Persona 5 (PS4, PS3) – February 14
Sniper Elite 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – February 14
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk (PS4, PC, Vita) – February 21 
Halo Wars 2 (Xbox One, PC) – February 21
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4) – February 28

March
Ghost Recon Wildlands (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – March 7

 

Be sure to bookmark this page so you can return as the year’s schedule continues to fill out!

Beta Test 2017 Video Game Release Schedule

Dinosaurs Love Hot Dogs In Lego Jurassic World Animated Short

If the Lego Jurassic World video game didn’t work for you, then maybe the animated short version will be more up your alley. The Jurassic Park YouTube page uploaded a five-part animated short of a Lego-ized loose interpretation of 2015’s live-action film, Jurassic World.

There are obviously cool dinosaurs, but also a ton of hot dogs and a decent Steven Spielberg reference. While it’s acceptable for kids, many adults will bemoan the loss of Chris Pratt in this series of shorts, who was arguably the best part of the feature film.

You can find the whole five-part series on the Jurassic Park YouTube page, but you can check out the first episode below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Beta Test Dinosaurs Love Hot Dogs In Lego Jurassic World Animated Short

The Sports Desk – What Sports Games’ Ultimate Team Modes Need To Do Next

Ultimate Team – or any of the monetization modes in the sports games – are big business, and it’s not all real-money exploitation, either. These fun modes have captured the imagination of gamers, and for some, are the preferred way to play the games. I have been thinking about this supposed shift in the balance of power away from the traditional single-player career track towards a multiplayer mode like Ultimate Team (which, BTW, I’m going to use as an umbrella term for all of these fantasy modes in this article, whether it’s NBA 2K17’s MyTeam or Pro Evolution Soccer 2017’s MyClub). The chance to build a roster of players from different teams is obviously a big draw, as is the excitement of ripping packs for the gratification of getting a star or rare player card.

Due to the marketplace values, the involvement of real money, and the carrot/stick nature of these modes, grinding for packs (and/or the coins to buy them) is fundamental to them. While the modes have mixed it up over the last few years by featuring different kinds of challenges, ladder/gauntlet structures, and quicker ways to play, for gamers who don’t want to spend real-money the prospect of all that grinding to build their teams up can be daunting.

But what if you paired the longer-term commitment of a career/franchise mode with Ultimate Team to help ease the grind (at least psychologically)? Career mode elements would provide an impetus to play over time due to the stake in the growth of your franchise and its players that this type of mode creates (versus the anonymous feeling of going up/down a division every 10 games in a typical Seasons UT mode), while still featuring the short-term gratification of pulling new, random players and the influx of new talent they can provide.

Here are some possible features for this Franken-mode:

  • Your performance from the week or any set period of games gives you coins and/or consumable packs you can spend on improving or healing your players. Or perhaps you could be given a choice: Once a week you can choose consumables for the players you already have, or open a pack for a whole new player that is at a minimum rated the same as the player you have at any given position, but possibly be better.

  • Coins could be spent on packs, but to offer the choice to invest in your franchise as well. They could be spent on scouting for free agents or the draft, which would be based around packs of players at specific positions. Overall, scouting would give you a better idea of who you’d get in a pack or increase your chances of getting a good player. Pro Evolution Soccer’s system of spending coins on scouts and special agents to construct parameters that define which player you’re going to randomly draw could be used here.

  • Coins could also be spent to buy contracts and/or sway players to sign/resign with your team.

  • Draft players would be drawn from the myriad different versions of existing players (including historic ones), with each round of the draft containing the usual chances for a gem or bust. Or the randomness of a pack could be used to generate your normal, made-up draftees.

  • Coins could still be used to buy different playbooks, uniform variants, and custom stadiums and player equipment.

  • Chemistry bonuses would be given to units that play together over time, thus encouraging you to keep players so they gel.

When you look at it, there’s nothing radically different about these elements from your normal Ultimate Team or franchise mode, but by bringing them together you can gain the salient foundations of both (the player fluidity and randomness of UT and the structure and player/franchise investment of franchise) while still being more than just a fantasy draft in your career mode.

What do you think? Have any good ideas yourself? Put them in the comments section below.

Speaking of Career/Franchise modes, I had a couple thoughts on them as well recently…

What’s Not Working
I’ve often talked about wanting owner features in my career modes, but as time goes by I realized I don’t like them. Owner modes invariably involves setting prices, but this loses its luster rather quickly. Besides, oftentimes the financial side of a team in these modes comes strictly down to your performance in games (like in FIFA 17 or NHL 17), so what’s the point of the accountant middle man, then?

Even when this aspect is tied directly to your team’s budget (like in Madden 17), I simply can’t be bothered to tweak the prices even if some advisor is yelling at me. I appreciate the verisimilitude these elements introduce, but when it comes to it, I’m not interested.

The fun of being an owner isn’t about worrying about the bottom line, it’s about the power and enjoying the riches. To this end, perhaps future owner modes or owner-related features need to be less about managing finances and more about things like physically creating and designing stadiums and influencing the league as a whole like in NBA 2K17’s MyGM.

Another thing that’s not working is training. For me, setting up practices and running through them never lasts more than a few weeks before I sim everything, come what may. I understand the importance of it to give the non-game time structure, the chance to grow your players, and the realism of it all, but I wish there was a better way to convey this part of sports beyond mind-numbing drills.

What is the Console Horsepower Doing For Your Career Mode Anyway?
Sports fans have it better than ever, but when I think of all the promises I’ve heard over the years about how the power of this console or that is going to change sports games forever, I have to laugh.

Of course, in terms of graphics, physics, and even A.I. (sometimes), we certainly benefit greatly from our current platforms. But when it comes to the guts of a career mode – the trade/free agent/draft A.I. logic, stat creation and tabulation, and simmed results, we’re still searching for accuracy.

Even with a new stat engine for a few years, simmed games in Madden can deliver low stats for even elite-level A.I. QBs. Old, washed-up free agents in NHL still demand a ton of money (and in Pro Evolution Soccer players don’t demand near enough and there’s not enough player movement), and we’ve even seen LeBron James go to the Pacers in NBA 2K17 (’nuff said). These are just a few of the examples of how the A.I. running the data in the background of your career mode does a disservice to your franchise.

Given how the console manufacturers and game developers are always talking about the horsepower under the hood and how they’re using it, it seems like getting the computer to crunch the numbers correctly is unfortunately still an elusive piece of math.

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

 

RELEASE LIST

Driveclub VR (PlayStation 4) October 13
Infinite Air (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) October 25
Football Manager 17 (PC, Mac, Linux) November 4
Motorsport Manager (PC, Mac) November 10 (check out more about the game in this previous Sports Desk)
Steep (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) December 2 

 

THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

Supreme Court Declines To Hear NCAA Case Appeals

NHL 17 Predicts the 2016-17 NHL Season
Read it and weep.

The Golf Club VR Announced, Coming This Year
I wonder if you pull your head up on a shot does it affect on your swing?

Motorsport Manager & Football Manager 2017 Highly Anticipated This Holiday Season
Data trackers Nielsen have come up with the surprising results.

UFC 2 Available For Free For EA Access Members

NASCAR Heat Evolution Update Forthcoming 

Beta Test The Sports Desk – What Sports Games’ Ultimate Team Modes Need To Do Next