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. Which is quite a fair old bit as it happens.
[LOADING SCREEN: TITANFALL FOOTAGE]
Firstly Titanfall has proven to be wildly successful and popular, so it’s no surprise that EA have gone and called dibs on a sequel. According to Gamespot an anonymous yet reputable source confirmed EA’s people have spoken to Respawn Entertainment’s people and a deal is already in place. Naturally EA are neither confirming nor denying this, and thus far have said only this:
“We do not comment on rumor or speculation. Right now all our focus is on supporting all the fans worldwide enjoying Titanfall.”
So that’s pretty much a yes in other words, but they can’t outright say so for business reasons. The high likelihood of a sequel also comes with the possibility of it coming to Sony consoles, instead of being chained to Microsoft like a gimp on a leash. EA CFO Blake Jorgensen even said as much in November of last year, when he hinted that Titanfall sequels could come to other platforms. Maybe Titanfall 2 will also have support for clans, lobbies and other standard multiplayer features curiously absent from Titanfall 1.
Any sort of sequel will doubtless be a long way off though, so don’t let it bother you too much. In the meantime just kick back and enjoy Titanfall.
I’ve been tempted to give it a whirl myself, although to do that I’d have to overcome my pathological aversion to EA’s Origin service. I installed it once to play the Mass Effect 3 demo and I still feel dirty even now.
[ASSASSIN’S CREED BLACK FLAG FOOTAGE]
On the topic of sequels, earlier this week Japanophile clickbait emporium Kotaku got its mitts on some exclusive leaked screenshots for Assassins Creed: Unity, one of two new Assassins Creed games reportedly due this year. The screenshots were of an early build that looked ropier than a British Navy knot-tying contest, but suggested the franchise was heading over to Revolutionary France and would likely have a new protagonist.
[AC: UNITY TRAILER FOOTAGE]
Screenshots that have since been stabbed in the neck and thrown into a haybale by this pre-rendered and lush-looking official teaser trailer packed full Frenchness. So unmistakeably French in fact it could only be more French if it lit up a gitane, cried “Zut alors!” and jumped into bed with someone else’s wife. Offensive national stereotypes aside, one interesting thing to note is that Unity is coming to PS4, XBOX One and PC only towards the end of this year, making it the first Assassins Creed title exclusive to this new generation of consoles.
No news about a new Assassins Creed title is complete, of course, without weird obsessives complaining it’s not set in Feudal Japan because they want to play as a ninja.
Oh they’ll offer up all sorts of persuasive arguments for it, but don’t be fooled by their tricksy ways. Anything they say can all be boiled down to a simple “GIEF NINJA PLZ?!”
[NINJA GAME MONTAGE]
And for the life of me I just cannot understand why. It’s not like there haven’t already been a squillion and one videogames about sodding ninjas already. Even though, and let’s be perfectly honest here, ninja’s haven’t been at all cool or interesting since the fucking 1990s.
[MARK OF THE NINJA FOOTAGE]
If you’re one of these twisted ninja obsessives and you want to play a game with ninjas in it, bloody well pick up a copy of Mark of the Ninja. It’s one of the finest stealth games you’ll ever play and is a damn great game overall.
[GG SHINOBI FOOTAGE] Failing that buy a Sega Game Gear at a car boot sale or flea market, and a copy of GG Shinobi. I only suggest it because it’s one of my all time favourite Game Gear games, has ninjas in it and is hard as nails.
Alternatively you could pick up an old PS1 and a copy of Tenchu: Stealth Assassin, if you really hate yourself and want to play a terrible game.
[LAST NINJA 2 FOOTAGE]
Finally if you’re really desperate for a game about ninjas then download an Amiga emulator and a ROM for Last Ninja 2. It’s not a brilliant game but it’s better than Tenchu and hey, it’s got ninjas in it.
If you can’t do any of that then…I dunno, pay a tramp to throw shurikens at your bollocks or something. Anything if it’ll stop you trying to shit-up a franchise that, to its credit, at least tries to explore settings that haven’t been done a squillion times in videogames already.
The scope of the Assassins Creed series allows for so many more fascinating periods of human history to explore. We could scale the pyramids and temples of ancient egypt. Stalk the foggy streets of Victorian London. Experience the glory that was Ancient Greece. Steep ourselves in the grandeur that was Ancient Rome. Take a gentle stroll through The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Or, as we will In Assassins Creed Unity, experience The Terror of Revolutionary France first-hand and maybe stab Robespierre in the jaw. Because he really was a shit.
All of human history to recreate and explore…and people harp on about sodding Feudal Japan. All just to satisfy a weird fetish for one of the most overused and boring tropes in all of videogames.
And because of that, out of sheer fucking spite, I hope the other still-unknown Assassins Creed game is entirely about assassinating the 1912 Terra Nova Expedition to the Antarctic. Because that would at least have penguins in it, and penguins are a thousand times more interesting than ninjas ever will be.
[DIABLO 3 AUCTION HOUSE]
Speaking of things we could do with less of in videogames, the Diablo 3 auction house has finally been shut down ready for the upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion. Both the in-game gold and the real-world-money auction houses are still accessable for meantime, but only so players can finish off their current auctions and reclaim any gold or equipment. If you don’t claim any gold or items in the “Completed” tab before June 24th then it’s gone for good, so don’t say you weren’t warned.
According to Blizzard the new Loot 2.0 mechanics, implemented back in February, now makes the Auction House completely unnecessary. The idea behind Loot 2.0 is that while there’ll be less loot overall, the loot you do receive will be better-suited to your character class and generally more useful overall, with even common items having some sort of value.
No more Auction House should in theory be one less reason for the PC version to require a permanent internet connection, but Blizzard still haven’t said anything about THAT going away anytime soon.
[VALVE’S FREE TO PLAY DOCUMENTARY]
From things that make me angry to things that make me happy now, as this week saw the worldwide release of Free To Play, Valve’s documentary about the first International DoTA 2 tournament. The film follows three of the scene’s most well-known players: Clinton “Fear” Loomis, Benedict “HYHY” Lim and Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, on their personal journeys to compete for the tournament’s $1 million top prize, and has all the surprises, heartache and triumphs you might expect.
If you already follow esports and DoTA 2 in particular then you already know how their stories end. Even so the film still has plenty to offer, such as what motivates these acclaimed players to be among some of the best in the world at their chosen pastime, and an interesting insight into the esports scene in China among other things.
[DOTA 2 FOOTAGE]
On the other hand if you can’t tell a Tri-lane from a Tower Push, let alone what a Pudge-Chen fountain hook is or why Valve nerfed it, Free to Play does a solid job conveying the absolute basics of the game. At the film’s core however are very human stories of hope, love, loss, and adversity. Universal themes that anyone can relate to, whether you binge MOBAs 7 days a week or just play Angry Birds on the bus now and then.
Some reviews have criticised Free to Play as being a glorified advert for DoTA 2, although I do have to disagree. It’s no more a commercial for DoTA 2 than King of Kong was for Rickey’s Hot Sauce. The first DoTA 2 International is the overall backdrop but there are mentions of other titles popular in the esports scene, and the primary focus of the movie is always on one of the three people it follows.
As its name suggests Free to Play is entirely free to watch, and you don’t even need a Steam account to do it since Valve have also released the entire film on YouTube in various languages. Whatever your gaming tastes or persuasions, and even if you hate MOBA games, it’s a finely-crafted documentary and well worth your time to watch. Links are available in the description below.
[CART LIFE GOES FREE AND OPEN SOURCE]
Another thing that’s free to experience is Cart Life, an indie management simulator centred on three individual characters juggling their personal lives with the demands of running a small business. Previously available to buy on Steam it has now been made completely free, and open source, by its creator Richard Hofmeier. Unfortunately the official Cart Life site is still down at this time because Hofmeier’s webhost pulled it, no doubt due to the unsurprising spike in traffic from people looking to get a free game.
Which makes its removal from Steam seem all the more premature given Steam gladly lets developers host their games for free. It’s all well and good making your thoughtful indie game completley free to play, and even tinker with if they so choose, but that does rather rely a fair bit on people actually being able to download it in the first place. For the time being the the only way you can take advantage of Hofmeier’s generosity is if some clever-clogs sets up a mirror of the Cart Life site or hosts a torrent for it.
[METAL GEAR SOLID: GROUND ZEROES]
A game that very much isn’t free is Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, the latest instalment in the long-running and frankly ridiculous Metal Gear Solid franchise by nanomachines fanatic and obsessive food-tweeter Hideo Kojima. Described as a prologue to the forthcoming Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes is set entirely around as US Black Site on Cuban soil in 1975 and stars big burly soldier-type Snake. Aka Naked Snake, aka Jack, aka Punished Snake, aka Big Boss, aka I-Stopped-Keeping-Track-Of-This-Bollocks-After-Metal-Gear-Solid-2.
Ahem, anyway, reviews for the game have been generally positive overall with one significant criticism being it’s length, or severe lack-of. According to most reviews the game can be completed in around 2 hours if you really take your time with it, while speed runs of the game have wrapped up the main story in a staggering five minutes. Five minutes!
[MGS 2: SONS OF LIBERTY FOOTAGE]
Jesus cycling Christ, the demo for Metal Gear Solid 2 lasted longer than that! And that was bloody free! When did it become acceptable to pay £24 bloody quid for a glorified demo? Did someone throw me through a magical portal to fucking Bizarro world while I was asleep?
*Sigh* Anyway, if you absolutely can’t get enough of Hideo Kojima’s musings on the nature of war and soldiers, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is out now for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. For $30 USD, €30 or £24 GBP.
[ANITA SARKEESIAN WINS AN AWARD]
And finally, as foretold in the ancient and blasphemous “Testament of Carnamagos”, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian won the Ambassador award at the Games Developers Choice Awards this week
In accordance with the prophecy, Empress Sarkeesian the Doombringer will now don a crown of frozen nerd tears and sit upon a grim throne built from the skulls of all your favourite videogame characters.
Whereupon the skies will turn blood-red and split asunder, disgorging the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse to destroy videogaming as we know it. All you can do now is kiss your anime bodypillow goodbye, say a final prayer to Ron Paul and retreat to your inner shelter to await the end.
That is, if you’re a shrieking exclusionist lunatic who doesn’t like strangers in his clubhouse. For the rest of us gaming will carry on pretty much as usual, only with perhaps slightly more consideration for people who are not white male heterosexuals.
[MONTAGE OF GDC AWARD WINNERS]
Other GDC Award winners included Bioshock Infinite for Best Audio, GTA V for Best Technology, Gone Home for Best Debut and Papers, Please for too many categories to list here.
That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. Time unfortunately conspired against me this week so I couldn’t do one of my usual big topics. If you still liked it however then please do let me know, and let your friends know too. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. And if you didn’t like it then you probably paid too much for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, so…I dunno, nanomachines or something. You can go now.