Battlefield 4 reward system shows changes for veteran players, objective game types

Patrick Carlson at

DICE has dropped some intel about Battlefield 4's online ranking and rewards system, giving us a look at what we'll be up to for 100-plus hours in the game's multiplayer. The usual ribbons and medals return in BF4, but DICE is also hinting at perks that can only be achieved by the hardiest of veteran players.

Battlefield 4 system requirements released

Phil Savage at

DICE have tweeted an image of Battlefield 4's system specs, giving us a chance to see the consequence of all that Levoluting. More importantly, it's an opportunity to judge how our brave PCs will deal with a game that's also parachuting into the DMZ that separates the old and new consoles. Will you be able to handle the coming year of AAA gaming without reinforcing with new components? What they've provided is by no means a definitive answer, but it's a useful early indicator of where we stand.

Humble Origin Bundle earns nearly $10.5 million for charity before ending

Cory Banks at

The Humble Origin Bundle is over. The Electronic Arts-sponsored sale concluded yesterday with a grand total of $10.5 million in sales according to the Humble Bundle Twitter account.

Origin now offers refunds on EA games within 24 hours of first playing them

Tyler Wilde at

Earlier today EA introduced the "Origin Great Game Guarantee," which means that if you buy an EA game on Origin and decide you don't like it within 24 hours of first launching it (or seven days after purchase, whichever comes first), EA will offer a full refund. The new policy is effective immediately.

Leaked SimCity survey hints at some potential futures, including offline mode

T.J. Hafer at

Get a grain of salt ready. This leaked SimCity survey has some pretty exciting items on it—from offline mode to the ability to build mega skyscrapers that contain multiple zoning types—but it's hard to verify that it's actually from EA. And even if it is, these are all simply pitched features that the devs and publishers are trying to gauge our interest in. There's no guarantee that any of this will ever make it into the game... but it's interesting to look over in any case.

EA intends to "re-establish Origin as a service to gamers"

Katie Williams at

EA Sports Executive Vice President Andrew Wilson's tasks now include management of the publisher's digital distribution service, Origin, and he's taken it upon himself to give it a makeover, aiming for its initial vision as a "service to gamers."

SimCity releases new Airship DLC with blimps, hot air balloons, and air commuting

Ian Birnbaum at

SimCity has just released the new Airship DLC, sponsored by... oh, really? I’m being told it’s not sponsored by anyone. Are we sure? I would have thought that a publicity blimp company... Oh. OK.

E3 2014: Predicions and wild, feral speculation

PC Gamer at

We used the only viable fuel source with the world's only time machine to visit E3 2014, and bring back the gaming news of the future for you, our loyal readers. The haters will say we could have done something more beneficial for humanity with this singular opportunity, but we usually just ban people like that. What new boxes will you be able to plug into your TV? Will everyone own a Rift? Do your emotional scars from Game of Thrones Season 3 ever heal? We have the 100 percent accurate, non-speculative answers to all this and more.

E3 2013: What the next gen consoles mean for the PC

PC Gamer at

Xbox One. PS4. What effect will the poster children of E3 2013 have on the future of PC Gaming? Will new hardware architecture mean more high-profile PC ports or—dare we say it—PC-led titles that are ported for consoles afterwards? Are Microsoft's touted 15 exclusive launch titles going to be anything we'd even want in the first place? Will the pull of the indie scene be enough to turn gamers away from hardware manufacturers that shun them? We chew on this, and feed you our analysis like a mother bird to her chicks.

Former CEO of Electronic Arts: gamers will "learn to love" always-online gaming

Ian Birnbaum at

In a lengthy guest editorial at Kotaku, former EA CEO John Riccitiello wrote at length about what, in his view, the upcoming next generation of gaming consoles must deliver to succeed. The editorial was published before Microsoft's reveal of the Xbox One yesterday, which may require owners to check in to the Internet once every 24 hours.

Origin beta update targets live-streamers, achievement collectors and "power gamers"

Phil Savage at

Origin's latest beta update is primarily targeting "power gamers with muscular 64-bit systems". Which is an odd phrase, and not just because no regular person has said "power gamers" without being violently sick soon after. Muscular 64-bit systems? It's 2013: my calculator is basically running a 64-bit system. Although, in fairness, my calculator is just my regular desktop - so is in fact running the same system that Origin is also using. Touche, EA.

Origin Player Appreciation Sale chops up to 70 percent off EA's big franchises

Omri Petitte at

It isn't often we see the words "Origin" and "sale" next to each other, but this week is the exception: EA is running a week-long Player Appreciation Sale which discounts some pretty hefty games in the publisher's lineup—titans such as Mass Effect 3, Crysis 3, and Battlefield 3.

Origin browser protocol exploit shown to execute malicious software with a single click

Omri Petitte at

A security flaw has surfaced in the browser protocol Origin uses to launch games through custom links using the "origin:" structure. As Ars Technica reports, research group ReVuln demonstrates how a malicious program can be executed via a modified Origin link masquerading as a game launch.

SimCity connection troubles "almost behind us"; offline mode "not possible"

Phil Savage at

Maxis seem confident that online queues and congestion of SimCity's launch will soon be a thing of the past. In the fourth update to the community, Senior VP Lucy Bradshaw reports that, thanks to an increase in servers and various fixes, they are now able to get "virtually everyone" into the game. Bradshaw also states that game crashes have been reduced by 92% from launch day.

Of course, if you were to take the glass-half-empty view, that means it's nearly a week after the game's launch and some players are still experiencing delays and crashes.

SimCity getting additional server capacity and maintenance as players struggle to connect

Phil Savage at

Update 2: The patch notes for SimCity's latest update reveals Maxis disabled Cheetah speed in an effort to combat server performance issues. Hit the jump for the notes and a response from EA regarding the change's duration.

Update: A new forum post from Maxis' community manager reveals that "non-critical" game features, including leaderboards, achievements and region filters, are to be disabled in an effort to reduce server load.

"We are continuing to do everything we can to address the server issues. In the meantime, so that we can give you as good an experience as possible, we are in the process of deploying a hotfix to all servers. This includes various improvements and also disables a few non-critical gameplay features (leaderboards, achievements and region filters). Disabling these features will in no way affect your core gameplay experience.

"We will continue to let you know as we have more information. We know it has been said before, but we do appreciate your patience as we complete this latest update. Getting you playing is our absolute highest priority."

Original story: Despite reassurances that Origin would be ready for SimCity's international launch, players are still experience connection troubles as the game releases in more countries worldwide. Following yesterday's Australian launch, players are reporting delays with Oceanic servers. In a statement on the SimCity Facebook page, EA say they hope to reduce server traffic by "aggressively undergoing maintenance on the servers and adding capacity to meet demand."

EA confident that Origin will be stable for SimCity international launch

Phil Savage at

After last night's founding of the fledgling SimCity, EA's meticulous planning was put to the test as thousands of new resident's poured in, quickly jamming up the roads of the internet. Protesters quickly gathered around the town hall of Origin, but the damage was done - property prices were plummeting thanks to the Always-Online, er, factory? Okay, I'll admit that this wasn't the perfect analogy.

After the major connection queues experienced by US SimCity buyers last night, the Origin twitter account is attempting to reassure everyone that Thursday's international launch will be a smoother experience.

EA: Origin "experiencing overwhelming demand," many users unable to download SimCity

Omri Petitte at

SimCity opened its doors at midnight to eager US mayors anticipating the city-management reboot, but like most other major online-based game launch windows, response and connectivity issues rapidly reared their ugly heads. The Origin servers shuddered beneath excess load as piles of players queued full downloads of the game's digital edition, as they inexplicably weren't given the option to pre-load files. Forum threads filled with complaints popped up like a line of apartment blocks, and in one such thread, Origin Global Community Manager Marcel Hatam says refund requests are available for those affected by launch problems.

Cliff Blezsinski defends EA microtransactions, tells gamers: "vote with your dollars"

Omri Petitte at

The ongoing debate over the ethicality of microtransactions is hot enough to make the sun look like an ice cube, but it's difficult to overlook the financial benefits of prolonging a game beyond its launch content—just ask EA, which recently stated it's seeking to add purchaseable items in all of its games. Consumer concern is natural, but former Epic designer Cliff Bleszinski thinks wallets are a stronger measure of approval than complaints. In a lengthy blog article, he specifically brings up the business practices of EA and Valve, stating he's "tired" of the former taking the brunt of ire surrounding the subject.

Crysis 3 gets unofficial OnTheFly utility - tweak graphics in-game with a single button press

Phil Savage at

MaLDo, creator of the exceptionally pretty Crysis 2 graphics update and spotter of Crysis 3's ropey optimisation issues, has released a new tool for Crytek's latest PC punisher. OnTheFly lets you easily tweak Crysis 3's CVAR values in-game with a single button press. New shortcuts let you hide the HUD, tweak Depth of Field, and load a selection of custom presets. It should be perfect for keeping your frame rate high while your rig's assaulted by the sheer graphical powerhouse that is the first level's moving ropes.

Battlefield 3: End Game flaunts Air Superiority

Phil Savage at

Despite having spent hours with Battlefield 3, my jet-setting career has been far from illustrious. A few minutes soaring high above the carnage below, an idle attempt to shoot something and, inevitably, a nose-first crash into a building while desperately hoping no-one was looking. Even with my gross incompetence, I'm looking forward to End Game's Air Superiority mode. The 12 vs. 12 dogfights look like just the intensive crash course in aerobatic aptitude that I need. In preparation for End Game's March release, DICE have unveiled the mode's very first screenshot.