When most of us think of the Witcher series, we see an intelligent, original story that throws your moral beliefs into question. There’s still good and evil in The Witcher’s world, but they’re not painted in the traditional black and white we’ve seen before. Games would be worse off if The Witcher hadn’t grown to be the staple of video game storytelling that it has. The scary thing is, The Witcher almost died from the start.
Reinstall invites you to join us in revisiting classics of PC gaming days gone by. This week, Jon constructs some fine vomit comets and manages the mess in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.
I am one very contented hour into Box Office, the fourth career-based scenario in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, and my park rating is falling. I can see no immediate reason why until I zoom into a corner I’ve been neglecting for a while and see that it’s slick with vomit.
The Rotor I’ve placed there is obviously a bit too exciting for the ‘peeps’, as the game calls its park patrons, and many have lost their lunch. I locate and pick up one of my janitors, then drop him nearby where he dutifully starts to mop up, sending my park rating off in the right direction again. It’s this simple type of tinkering and troubleshooting that makes a construction and management sim like RCT3 such a satisfying alternative to games that are twitch-based or time-critical. So the peeps have had to wade through some puke for a little while; no biggie.
If Baldur's Gate had an undercurrent of politics and intrigue, it's nothing compared to the behind-the-scenes twists in the development of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. It was removed from sale for "contractual issues" at the request of a "publishing partner", later revealed to be Atari. Development of a planned patch was also postponed, and the possibility of an enhanced Baldur's Gate 2 slipping further into the shadows. Of Amn.
Now, it's back on sale, with its celebratory developers saying the outstanding issues are resolved, and news of upcoming releases will arrive soon.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt brings several new and interesting features beyond its beautifully bleak landscape. A thread on the World of Players RPG community (via OXM) collects the highlights of a pair of previews from German magazines PC Games and Gamestar, including the addition of Fallout-style location-based damage and a staggering number of quests.
"People may ask if this is really going to be the last Witcher game. Yes, it is," said CD Projekt Red head Adam Badowski when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt stepped forth earlier this week. But in a Eurogamer Poland report, CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kicinski clarifies that Badowski's only meant the end of Geralt's saga, leaving the possibility open for future Witcher games in the franchise.
In a press release spotted by Ars Technica yesterday, Atari Interactive announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to "separate from the structural financial encumbrances of their French parent holding company, Atari S.A. (formerly Infogrames S.A.) and secure independent capital for future growth, primarily in the areas of digital and mobile games." The most recent PC title published by Atari was Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. It also handled most of the Dungeons & Dragons products in recent years, as well as the North American editions of the Witcher franchise.
Despite it seeming like Overhaul's Baldur's Gate overhaul would remain tied to the developer's Beamdog distribution service, the game has now gathered its party and ventured forth to Steam. Top news, right? Well, as it turns out, the Steam release may not be the most enhanced edition of the Enhanced Edition.
According to tweets by Trent Oster, BG:EE's Creative Director, "Atari did the integration for [Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition] on Steam, so it is a very basic setup. We were not involved."
According to Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, Baldur's Gate 3 was on the table in a serious way not too long ago. In an interview with Kotaku, he revealed that Atari, owners of the rights to Dungeons & Dragons-based games, were interested in the project and had even given the verbal thumbs-up on a Mass Effect-sized budget.
Overhaul Games' revisit to Faerun in Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition took a knockback spell to its planned September launch from the inn it's resting in, but in a tweet sent yesterday, Creative Director Trent Oster said Overhaul expects a November 28 release for all platforms. "We're busting our butts to make the PC version awesome, and it is, so we're hopeful," he wrote in a separate tweet. "But there is no column for hope in a spreadsheet. I'd rather fill that column with awesome reality."
While everyone’s going doo-lally about Star Wars, another licensed sci-fi MMO based on a loved franchise is feeling sadly neglected, like an old dog who’s just had to give up his favourite basket because of a new puppy. Star Trek Online was a bit of a failure on release, but it seems that Cryptic still has faith in the MMO, and the “seasons” (read: updates) have added new content and addressed player’s issues.
The latest “season”, numbered five, has been detailed on the official STO blog, and adds the Borg Invasion of Defera (which we inevitably read as DEFRA), Federation and Klingon Academies, as well as a brand new event calendar. Gameplay improvements include a “Duty Officers” minigame (we bet they get shot a lot), the ability to Transwarp to episodes, and a Dilithium Economy.
The new “season” is available now for current subscribers, and will be released for all when the game goes free-to-play on January 17 2012. Hit the jump to see the full list of new and improved content and gameplay.
This quest kicks off with your intrepid hero fleeing from what would, in any other Diablo-style hack ’n’ slasher, be an opportunity for an epic boss battle. Instead, your character very nearly wets his chainmail undergarments and teleports into an opening area chock-full of same-y foes and snooze-worthy fetch quests. It’s an incredibly apt analogy: whenever excitement and intrigue come calling, Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale tucks its tail and runs in the opposite direction.
The Witcher 2 is a game that shoots for the sun while its rivals are still lining up their sights on the moon. It's an AAA RPG with an indie soul, and a charged, exciting adventure you can really sink your teeth into, admire, and for the most part, love. From the raw technical wizardry of the engine, to tent walls rippling in the breeze and villagers running for cover when it rains, it's a game built with burning, red-raw passion and exactly one goal. To be the best RPG ever, whatever it takes.
Ultimately, it falls short of that, but not without giving it a damn good go. Over its 20-30 hours of almost relentlessly superb moments, Witcher 2 raises almost every bar it can get its hands on. It's let down by only two things: an undercooked combat system, and a story resolution that it actually hurts to watch. The rest is simply amazing, from the beautiful writing to the gorgeous visuals, meaningful choices, and a world that feels like a real place that exists beyond the game's limitations.
Atari's yearly financial report shows that they are parting ways with Cryptic, the studio behind Star Trek Online, Champions Online and the upcoming Neverwinter MMO. The official reasons given for the split include Atari's intentions to release "fewer but more profitable" titles and expand into "casual online and mobile games," but it more likely has something to do with the reported $25 million Cryptic have lost Atari in the last couple of years.
Upon release, Test Drive Unlimited 2 was a bit of a mess. Thankfully Joystiq have reported that an update hitting the PC this weekend adds new content and irons out some of the bugs, and is available for free.
The Exploration Pack adds new cars, events and outfits. There's also a stereoscopic 3D mode added should you have the set-up and wish to race in all three dimensions. The complete patch list can be found after the jump.
The latest dev diary for The Witcher 2 drops lots of interesting info-nuggets on the upcoming sequel, not least the fact that there will be a hardcore difficulty mode that will make you restart the entire game if Geralt dies. VG247 spotted the video, in which the devs also talk about the balance between the different skill trees, and give us an overview of the bombs Geralt can use to stun his foes, or blow them the hell up.
For a closer look at The Witcher 2, check out the latest batch of screenshots, or read our preview. The game's due out on May 17.
Champions Online’s move to free-to-play is very bad news for the criminals of Millennium City. My latest creation, Chill Valentine, is in the local park, icing top-hat-wearing goons with frost bolts. All around me, fellow heroes are unleashing their own brand of justice, in the form of fireballs, telekinetic powers and the occasional thrown car. With no subscription fee to put players off, the streets of this superhero MMO are rammed. It is a very bad day to be wearing a top hat and a striped shirt.
The cost of playing for free is choice. Full subscribers can pick and choose from Champions Online’s magical tombola of superhero abilities, but non-paying Silver members have to make do with a choice of archetypes that limit their character’s progression to a preset template of themed superpowers. Extra archetypes can be bought in the game’s item store for about £7.
Chill Valentine is a frosty Glacier archetype, so she unlocks predictable ice-themed abilities in a linear fashion as she levels. First there’s the frost bolt, then the charged-up frost bolt, then the area-of effect frost bolt, and so on. Each archetype is designed to fulfil one of the three traditional tank, damage-dealing or healing MMO roles – which would make sense if there was much reason to group with other players, but aside from a few intermittent 2-5 group dungeons, there isn’t.
Ten minutes of footage have appeared for the Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. It starts with a leisurely stroll through the scenery, but there's also a look at the new combat system further in - lots of slow-motion diving and explosive spells.
It's had quite a makeover since his adventures in the first game. The new engine renders the new world spectacularly, and Geralt's magical abilities are much more powerful. It looks like we'll be doing a lot of rolling around on the floor game comes out on May 17. For more on the sequel, check out our Witcher 2 preview.
Atari have released a patch to fix some of the major issues with Test Drive Unlimited 2. Disappearing friends lists, invites, Clubs, save file corruption and login issues are all tackled in the update. As a way of saying sorry for the launch problems, Eden Games will be releasing the first chunk of premium DLC to all players for free.
In a world of clones and copycats, it’s worth remembering that every idea was once new.
Whether it’s Richard Garriott turning himself into the world’s first cosplayer by showing up at conventions dressed as his alter-ego Lord British, or Westwood inventing the RTS in Dune II, these are the moments that defined the games we play today. On PC, anyway. Herzog Zwei? What’s that?
But what about some of the more obscure firsts? Who made games talk? Who made film ratings part of our industry? Which FPS first came up with the idea of mixing driving and shooting, in much the same way that the genius who first combined salt and vinegar crisps and broken up pieces of Kit-Kat created the most delicious snack of our age? That is the question.
We’ve gone back into the archives in search of the geniuses, the dreamers, the designers and games that proved there were still ideas left to explore – just as today’s designers continue to prove how much more can be done.