PIXEL BURN – Dragon Age: Inquisition, Digging-up E.T. & Blizzcon 2014

In which Matt gently teases a dear friend.
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Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I look at some of the more important, interesting or irritating things that happened in gaming this week.

First up is this spiffy new trailer BioWare put out this week for Dragon Age: Inquisition, aka Dragon Age 3. Although with the more active combat system on display here I’m rather inclined to call it Dragon Age: Dark Witcher Assassins of Kings’ Souls Prepare to Die Enhanced Inquisition Edition. Reckoning.

Indeed, unlike the Neverwinter Nights-esque combat of Dragon Age: Origins, combat in Dragon Age Inquisition’s appears to give players much more personal mobility during a big old ruckus. In the new trailer and in previous gameplay videos the protagonist is seen rolling, strafing and diving in ways that immediately invite comparisons to Dark Souls or The Witcher 2.

And if you think I’m being snarky about that then, well, more fool you because I’m not. (Pause) Okay so maybe just a little bit, but only because I couldn’t resist mashing up all those titles. I actually applaud BioWare’s willingness to mix things up with a more dynamic combat system, particularly if it makes fights with huge beasts like dragons feel more tense and epic. And it’s not like the Souls and Witcher series have any kind of monopoly on agile protagonists.

If you’re an RPG purist who chafes at the idea of more action-based mechanics however, you may be pleased to know Dragon Age Inquisition is bringing back the tactical camera from Dragon Age Origins. Unlike Origins’ camera you’ll be able to freely position it however you desire, whether you’re playing on PC or console. So if you don’t like going toe to toe with your enemies down on the ground like a true warrior does you can always command your party from an overhead perspective. Like some sort of bloody God or something.

Speaking of party members that’s this rag-tag bunch of plucky misfits, which includes some bloke called Cullen that fans keep raving on about for reasons only The Maker knows. Personally I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. In my playthrough of Dragon Age Origins he was just some mopey sod I met in a mage tower, trapped inside a forcefield being all sad and useless.

Angry Cullen fans can send any and all complaints to @AbilityDrain on twitter.

It’s not all combat and Dragon-slaying of course. As befitting a BioWare RPG there’ll be meaninful conversations, snappy one-liners and wooing to do as well, with two characters so far officially confirmed as potential love-conquests. No doubt an entire harem’s-worth will be confirmed by the time of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s release, on October 7th in the US and October 10th in the UK and Europe.

Continuing on the topic of trailers, Polish indie developer Acid Wizard Games have released a new one for their upcoming horror game Darkwood. Specifically to let the world know that the game is coming soon to Steam Early access.

Resembling the deformed offspring of a tryst between Alan Wake and Alien Breed, Darkwood is a top-down horror survival sim set in a dark, spooky and frankly bloody surreal forest somewhere in Eastern Europe during the Soviet era. As a man who sometimes wears a rather fetching hat you have to explore said forest and survive by crafting traps, barricades and other tools to protect against the hostile, nightmarish monstrosities lurking amidst the shadows of the trees.

Like this bit from one of the pre-alpha trailers where you trap a green…thing…in a beartrap before setting it on fire.

Another nice thing about Darkwood is that not everything in the game will necessarily try to kill you, although the non-hostile NPCs you can speak to aren’t exactly what you could call normal. This bloke for example looks like he could’ve auditioned for David Lynch’s “Fire Walk With Me.”

I first became aware of Darkwood last year and even in its pre-alpha state I was very impressed with what I saw. The top-down perspective is not a new one for horror games, and certainly not indie games, but the crafting mechanics seem robust yet flexible and there’s a ton of potential here for great emergent horror experiences.

As well as countless YouTube videos of screeching bellends

Darkwood is expected to slither onto Steam Early access at some unspecified date in the near future. Probably when we least expect it, like all good scares.

Speaking of nightmares, Xbox Entertainment Studios and marketing company Fuel Entertainment are digging in the desert this weekend, seeking relics from one of the darkest periods of gaming history for an upcoming documentary.

Specifically they’re excavating a supposed landfil south of Alamogordo, New Mexico where, legend has it, Atari buried millions of E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial Atari 2600 cartridges in September 1983. One of gaming’s first ever official movie license tie-ins, E.T. the game is also popularly considered one of the absolute worst video games ever made. In fact it’s dark reputation is so powerful it’s often blamed for causing the great North American Video Game Crash of 1983, which plunged the gaming industry into a two-year recession and bankrupted Atari. The truth of the Video Game Crash of ’83 is more complicated and boring than that of course, but it hasn’t diminished the unholy legend of E.T. – The Game.

Digging will have already begun by the time you watch this, although there’s no guarantee the documentary team will find a lost motherlode of E.T. cartridges. It’s only an urban legend after all, albeit a fascinating and compelling one. But then Atari DID cover the landfill with a layer of concrete, allegedly because a load of dead animals were found at the site.

Incidentally the supposed burial site is also close to the sites of the Trinity Nuclear Test of 1945 and the Roswell UFO Incident of 1947. And if you connect all of these sites with ominous red lines you get a triangle, which is also the ancient Phoenician symbol “Daleth”, meaning “doorway.”

In fact the more I look into this story, the more I start to think the documentary crew might find more than they ever bargained for. Perhaps some things should stay buried.

Onto more jovial topics that don’t fill you with unspeakable cosmic dread, Blizzard have announced that Blizzcon 2014 is officially a thing. It will be taking place on November 7th and 8th at the Anaheim Convention Centre in Anaheim, California, where every Blizzcon since 2005 has been held. Except in 2012 that is, for the simple reason that there wasn’t a Blizzcon that year.

Nothing else about the event has been confirmed at present, although attendees can expect tournaments, competitions and so forth similar to those of previous years. There’s also been no news yet on whatever unique World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, Diablo 3 or Hearthstone goodies will be given out to convention attendees…to sell on eBay afterwards.

And so far there are no murmurs of any major announcements though my money would probably be on StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void getting some sort of mention, since it’s not mentioned anywhere in the press release.

For those who live abroad and can’t afford plane tickets to the US of A, but would still like to see what’s happening on the convention floor, you’ll be able to buy a Blizzcon “Virtual Ticket” giving you access to live streaming coverage of the whole event. It won’t be quite the same thing as being there in person of course, although for some people that could be considered a blessing.

If you do attend then for god’s sake use the shower in your hotel room, pack more than just two days worth of clean clothes and don’t molest or photograph the cosplayers – or indeed anyone – without their consent. And especially don’t charge around like a blind bull elephant on a stampede, not looking where you’re going and almost knocking people over, without having even the basic common fucking courtesy to apologise.

Why yes, that last one did happen to me one year at EGX.

And yes I am still pissed-off about it.

And finally in an announcement from Hideo Kojima this week it was revealed that previously platform-exclusive missions in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes will beavailable for everybody to play from May 1st. If you’re an Xbox owner you’ll be able to enjoy the previously Sony-Only “Deja Vu mission”, in which you play as Metal Gear Solid 1-era Solid Snake. Similarly if you’re a Sony person you can jump into the shoes of Raiden in the previously Microsoft-exclusive “Jamais Vu” mission.

So for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes owners that should be an extra, ooooh, about five minutes of new gameplay for you all to enjoy. Which is very generous indeed. Frankly I’m amazed Konami aren’t charging $40 for it.

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. If you didn’t like it then, well, normally I’d be a bit disheartened by that but it probably doesn’t matter now. Thanks to a documentary film team digging in the Alamogordo desert, we’re probably all doomed so you can go now and await the end.


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.