EA Details Three New Battlefield 1 Expansions, Free Trial Weekend

Last month, EA and DICE revealed information about They Shall Not Pass, the DLC for Battlefield 1 slated to hit in March. Today, the companies outlined plans for three additional expansions, as well as a free trial period this weekend for Xbox One and PC players.

The upcoming expansions don’t have solid release dates yet, but EA and DICE detailed the basic concepts. “In the Name of the Tsar” enlists players in the Russian army surrounded by snowy terrain. “Turning Tides” is focused on naval battles, and has them participating in the first days of the Gallipoli offensive. “Apocalypse” recreates infamous WW1 battles, giving players unique weapons and tools.  

For all of these (including They Shall Not Pass, which focuses on the French army), Battlefield 1 Premium Pass members will receive various perks. According to an EA press release, these benefits include “two-week early access to each expansion pack, plus 14 Superior Battlepacks, 16 new multiplayer maps, 20 new weapons to use, new elite classes, priority sever access and more.”

Lastly, Xbox One and PC players can play single-player and multiplayer for free this weekend, March 3-5. Xbox Live Gold members get full access to all modes, while PC Origin players are limited to 10 hours across two multiplayer maps, and the first two War Stories in single-player.


Our Take
For titles like Battlefield 1, new multiplayer content is critical to sustaining its health over the months. Outlining a plan like this gives players something to look forward to. That’s one challenge taken care of, but the more important task in front of EA and DICE is ensuring that the content they deliver is fun and engaging for the community.

Beta Test EA Details Three New Battlefield 1 Expansions, Free Trial Weekend

Ubisoft Offering For Honor Bonus For Players Who Couldn't Hit The Battlefield

For Honor’s deep combat and viking/samurai/knight mashup make it a unique fighting game full of “Holy crap!” moments. It had a rocky launch, however, and players reported issues with getting multiplayer matches started or seeing them through to completion. Ubisoft is extending an olive branch to affected players this weekend, giving them three days of champion status, and all the benefits that come with the status.

If you played between February 13-26 at 2 a.m. Eastern, you’ll get the three-day champion status this weekend, from March 3-5. Champion status gives you more salvage from dismantling gear, additional loot, special emblems, a 25-percent XP boost, and a 10-percent XP boost for players on your team. If you already bought champion status, the additional days will be added to your total.

Ubisoft says that this weekend’s community order will give players double steel rewards, too, so this could be a lucrative weekend.

[Source: Ubisoft]


Our Take
For Honor’s launch was definitely a frustrating one, and it’s nice to see that Ubisoft not only recognizes it but is taking steps to make it right. In other news, the vikings won the first round of the game’s meta battle, and I extend my deepest condolences to anyone who picked the other two factions. Maybe next time.

Beta Test Ubisoft Offering For Honor Bonus For Players Who Couldn’t Hit The Battlefield

Microsoft Announces Xbox Game Pass Subscription Service

Microsoft has announced the Xbox Game Pass – a $9.99 a month service for Xbox One and PC that allows subscribers to play a rotating catalog of downloadable (not streaming) Xbox One and backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games.

The service starts up in the spring, and features Microsoft first-party titles as well as partnerships with publishers such as 2K, Capcom, Sega, Bandai Namco, THQ, Deep Silver, 505 Games, Codemasters, Focus Home Interactive, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Out of the gate, Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16, and SoulCalibur II are available. 

Microsoft has already started testing the program via select Xbox Insider Program members (in the Alpha Preview ring), and Xbox Live Gold members get exclusive access sometime before launch.

New games will cycle in each month, with some of the titles dropping out. Pass members can purchase titles and any DLC for the game at a discount before they’re rotated out of the service.

[Source: Microsoft]


Our Take
I like that the service isn’t streaming like PS Now and the price is good, but given that the titles highlighted currently are more than two years old, I wonder how motivated many gamers will be to play them while they are offered instead of the newer titles they may already have in their backlog.

Beta Test Microsoft Announces Xbox Game Pass Subscription Service

Torment: Tides Of Numenera Review – Metaphysics Meets Role-Playing

A billion years in Earth’s future, many civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving behind a detritus of science that may as well be magic to the newest inheritors of the planet. One man has tapped into that wealth of lost knowledge and discerned the secret to immortality. He casts off bodies at his convenience, leaving behind new personalities in the discarded husks. You are one of these husks, and you awake to life tumbling from orbit at terminal velocity, speeding to meet the ground below. 

Torment: Tides of Numenera opens with weirdness, and doesn’t wait for you to catch up. Embracing the outer edge of speculative fiction tropes, it makes for a wild (and often inscrutable) adventure into uncharted territories of existential thought, grotesquerie, and wonder. The preponderance of written dialogue and descriptions can be overwhelming, especially with only occasional traditional action scenes. Accept the novelistic approach to storytelling, and Torment rewards you with the most surreal adventure ever to call itself an RPG.

Torment’s isometric view and party-based structure taps into older games like Baldur’s Gate and newer genre revivals like Pillars of Eternity. But in keeping with its spiritual predecessor, Planescape: Torment, Tides of Numenera is light on tactics. Instead, it is far more interested in surprising characters, lengthy conversations, and choice trees that emphasize non-combat approaches to problems. Even when it does enter a turn-based “crisis,” most encounters allow for solutions that don’t involve killing, like stealing the eggs of the monstrous creatures threatening the city in order to gain leverage, or distracting a guard during a tour of a spaceship so a different party member can sneak onto the main computer. These infrequent conflicts are the punctuations on lengthy stretches of talking and reading, and act as an essential way to move the story forward.

In support of both conversation tools and battle scenarios, a deep leveling system provides compelling decisions, from non-combat skills like deception or quick fingers, to powerful combat-oriented nanite-infused maelstroms or cleaving sword attacks. The approach to “magic” items is fascinating; many tools are devastating one-use objects that can turn the tide of a conflict, and come with their own oddly captivating descriptions, as if each has its own forgotten story to tell (and many do). If anything, the depth of the systems ends up being underused due to the scarcity of crises and other rules-based situations. I would have been happy to have more opportunities to use all the abilities and trinkets I had discovered. 

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Riffing off the stellar Numenera tabletop RPG, Torment launches onto its own trajectory with the fiction, and achieves a peerless approach to world-building. From characters to locations, nearly every moment is populated with some new conceptual anomaly. A merchant is slowly transforming into an insect due to the radiation of his wares. City guards are artificial constructs formed from a single year of life stolen from each of the city’s citizens. An old man works alongside his younger self prior to being flung back in time. One character I met answered the query of who they were with the phrase: “Some might describe me as a superpositional extraction of fundamental universal laws made tangible.” And an entire major location within the game is a miles-wide extradimensional being with mouths that open into different universes. Torment delights in its bizarre personality, and most of the time that makes for great fun. But when everyone you meet is an enigmatic stranger with a twisted backstory and a reticence to share their secrets, the novelty is occasionally lost.  

Beyond its cast of astonishing characters, the chief allure is the interlocking web of quests. Torment’s missions often explore metaphysical quandaries, and demand attention and judicious use of character skills, like persuasion, knowledge of machinery, and more. I might aid a cabal of psychics to uncover the malevolent entity hiding in their midst, or force my character to die so he can enter a labyrinth in his own mind and help a ghostly woman hiding within. I was thoroughly engrossed in the stories at hand, but I sometimes found the constant back-and-forth running between destinations to be tedious. 

Cerebral and often disturbing, Torment is a rabbit hole of significant depth, where you can get lost in improbable imaginings of warped realities and existential angst. If you can wrap your head around a non-linear narrative all about consciousness, identity, and memory, Torment is a riveting departure from expectation.

Beta Test Torment: Tides Of Numenera Review – Metaphysics Meets Role-Playing

Olympic Runner Usain Bolt Stars In Japanese Pokémon Commercial

What if Olympic athlete Usain Bolt was in the world of Pokémon? He’d probably be on Team Skull. 

Beyond that basic premise, there’s not much to explain when it comes to this Japanese Pokémon commercial – but that doesn’t mean it won’t put a smile on your face.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

If you want to watch more Pokémon videos, check out the in-depth discussions on Sun & Moon in our Game Club

[Source: YouTube via NeoGAF]

Beta Test Olympic Runner Usain Bolt Stars In Japanese Pokémon Commercial

[Update] Peter Moore Leaving EA For Liverpool Football Club

Update: Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson released a statement regarding Moore’s departure from the company.  It reads, in part:

In the weeks to come, Peter will continue to guide EA’s Competitive Gaming Division in its mission to make stars of all of our players. Peter has built a fantastic team that is now running dozens of global tournaments and events with millions of players. With more exciting expansion plans on the horizon, Peter will be working with the teams to drive a leadership transition before he returns to the UK this summer. If you see him around the next couple of months, I hope and trust you will take the opportunity to shake his hand, or give him a hug, and wish him the very best on this great adventure.

Original Story: Game industry veteran Peter Moore – who has held senior positions at companies like Sega and Microsoft – is leaving his current role as chief competition officer at Electronic Arts. Though he won’t be peddling virtual sports games anymore, he’s not giving up on the spirit of competition.

Moore (pictured right, above) will be taking on the role of CEO for the Liverpool Football Club, according to the club’s announcement. In the past, Moore has not been shy about his love for LFC, so it seems like an ideal match for everyone involved.

Moore will move to Liverpool and start his duties in June.

[Source: Liverpool Football Club]

Our Take
Moore’s experience and charisma will be missed in the gaming scene, but those qualities are sure to serve him well. We wish him the best in his new position. 

Beta Test [Update] Peter Moore Leaving EA For Liverpool Football Club

Blizzard Teases New Overwatch Character Again

Overwatch’s roster may be getting bigger soon, as Blizzard has once again teased the existence of a new character on the horizon.

The latest tease from the company comes in the form of this tweet from the official Overwatch account: 

If you were following our coverage of the teases last week, you know that our current guess revolves around Efi Oladele constructing a defensive robot of some sort, and this tease seems to support that theory. But we won’t know for certain until an official unveiling.  


Our Take
I don’t play Overwatch myself, but I know that the community is super-invested in its evolution. Fans seem to be eating up these clues, but Blizzard can’t keep stringing them along forever. Soon, the company needs to stop teasing and just make the announcement. 

Beta Test Blizzard Teases New Overwatch Character Again

Never Played Shenmue II? Watch Us Play The First 17 Hours

Last year, over the course of four months, we played through Shenmue for the Dreamcast in its entirety. It was an experimental video series, with an undefined schedule that allowed us to take in all the feedback for each episode by reading and responding to comments in (almost) real time. The experiment was a success! So we immediately decided (after playing through Dark Souls III, Tex Murphy: Under A Killing Moon, Shadow of the Colossus, and Resident Evil 4) that there was no time like the present to return to Yu Suzuki’s masterpiece. For the sequel, we’re playing the Xbox version that was published by Microsoft in 2002.

In the first episode we explore the city a little bit, make a friend with a fellow capsule toy collector, and get all our stuff stolen. There’s also a lady who forgot to finish getting dressed who really likes her motorcycle. In episode two, we make some progress by giving a hungry guy who loves naps some money, and getting a job that’s almost as cool as being a forklift driver. We punch a tree in episode three. In episode four we break a rock with our hand because a homeless porcupine asked us to. In episode five we follow a lady to her apartment in the middle of the day and sleep on her couch. In episode 6 we look for a book. Spoiler alert: we don’t find it. In episode seven we calm our revenge nerves by catching some leaves, you know, as one does. In episode eight, we pursue duck races with every ounce of our being. In episode nine, we attend a Fight Club. In episode 10 we achieve something amazing. In episode 11 we punch a tree so hard a duck falls out. In episode 12, we get back to the actual game. I don’t remember what we did in episode 13, but I am sure it is entertaining. In episode 14 we fight a caveman for way too long. In episode 15 we spend all the money we spent episode 14 trying to earn. In episode 16, we go to Kowloon and act out that one scene from Once Upon a Time In Mexico. In episode 17, we look through all the drawers in someone’s apartment for some reason.

Stay tuned for more episodes at some point, and leave us lots of comments! We’ll probably read yours on the next episode.

Episode 17
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    Beta Test Never Played Shenmue II? Watch Us Play The First 17 Hours

A Look At The New Premium Pokémon Gallery Figures

February 27 has been anointed by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company as “Pokémon Day” to celebrate the anniversary of the series’ launch in Japan. Outside of in-game events, like Pokémon Go adding a party hat to all wild Pikachus for a week, The Pokémon Company has released a new premium line of figures called Gallery Figures.

The first four figures announced in the Gallery line are some of the most well-known creatures from the original 151 performing their signature moves. The Pikachu figure depicts the electric mouse Pokémon performing a thunderbolt, while Mew is using its psychic attack. The other two figures in the inaugural line show Magikarp using its splash attack and Eevee attacking with swift.

The company sent us one of each figure to check out for ourselves. Each character features a high level of detail and cool move effects surrounding them. However, those move effects (particularly the ones surrounding Pikachu and Mew) are quite fragile, so these are definitely more for display than play. The figures range from 3 inches to 4.5 inches tall, with Pikachu standing much taller than any of the other characters thanks to its tail and electrical arcs. You can see all of the figures and their packaging below. The figures are currently available on PokémonCenter.com and retail for $16.99.

Beta Test A Look At The New Premium Pokémon Gallery Figures

Battle Breakers Combines '80s Cartoons And Turn-based Combat

Much like the set-up for a Saturday morning cartoon, the premise of Battle Breakers wastes no time getting to the fun. The kingdom has been invaded by monsters from space, leaving players to command teams of ninjas, dinosaurs, and mages against the enemy forces. With hundreds of heroes to recruit, powerful techniques to master, and a colorful sci-fi fantasy aesthetic, the newly-announced tactical RPG from Epic Games brims with energy, as can be seen in the trailer below.

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Battle Breakers will launch for iOS, Android, and PC and will also feature cross-platform play. Set to release later this year, players can pre-register at the game’s website to receive an exclusive hero, The Dark Beastman, to add to their roster.

Beta Test Battle Breakers Combines ’80s Cartoons And Turn-based Combat