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Xbox One Install Times "Should Be Faster," Microsoft Exec Admits

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 3 hours 42 min ago

Improving Xbox One install times ranks highly on Xbox boss Phil Spencer's platform priority list, though it remains to be seen when gamers might start to see zippier install periods.

"It's high on my priority list," Spencer told IGN.

Part of the reason that Xbox One install times are slower than PlayStation 4 times in some cases, Spencer said, is a result of Microsoft dropping the always-online requirement for Xbox One. He said Xbox One launch titles like Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome were developed with the assumption that all Xbox Ones would always be connected to the Internet, but this changed. "The change to having to deal with an offline-only state meant that all the install code-flows weren't as perfect as they could be," Spencer admitted.

"It's really our developer pipeline and our ingestion system where we have to do the most work" -- Spencer said about improving Xbox One install times

In response to this, Spencer asked him team to install third-party games on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to measure the differences in install times. He said in some cases, Xbox One install times are in fact faster, but in others, Microsoft's console does "significantly worse."

"Are there systemtic reasons for that? Our drive's obviously the same speed, moving stuff into memory takes the same amount of time; hard drive speed's basically the same, so what's going on?" he said. "I'm capturing the data. I want to be state-of-the-art in install times so people can start playing games as soon as possible. It's high on my priority list."

So what, then, is the issue? Spencer wouldn't say outright, acknowledging only that, "There isn't one thing to say why are we two seconds slower on this game or frankly why are we two seconds faster on a different game. The issues are a little bit in the weeds. It's really our developer pipeline and our ingestion system where we have to do the most work."

"I'm not defending it at all, because I do think install times should be faster," he added.

Asked to specify where on the roadmap improving Xbox One install times is, Spencer reiterated that it's high on his priority list, though he didn't have a specific timeline to share.

"It's kind of a constant," he said. "It's one of the things that's on top of my list in terms of the parity experience between us and Sony, and making sure that the install times aren't deficient on Xbox in any way."

In January, Spencer first admitted that Xbox One install times need to improve. What are your thoughts on Xbox One install times? Let us know in the comments below.

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Civilization Beyond Earth Video Review

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 3 hours 46 min ago
Is Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth humanities last hope for survival? Find out in our review.
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Civilization: Beyond Earth Review

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 3 hours 46 min ago

I am looking at the number 585. It's below the "hours played" tab for my copy of Civilization V and I...well, I'm not sure I want to dwell on that figure. But I can tell you that for all those hours, I've only actually seen a single session with the history-based strategy game through to completion. I'm an absentee world leader: present for my peoples' first fumbling steps towards agriculture, gone again somewhere between the invention of the compass and the internal combustion engine. I get into these obsessive restarting loops, curious just to see what new permutation the game's map-making algorithms spit out. Eventually I'll nestle a few defensible cities into the mountainside, churn through tech advancements until I can fuss over cute little janissaries or hussar units like they're collectible figurines. Then, in a sudden fit of self-loathing, I'll wipe the board clean. It's wonderful, soul-sucking entertainment.

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth shifts the series' brand of turn-based discovery and conquest off-planet, and the sci-fi setting puts a slick, chrome sheen on my old neurosis. But Beyond Earth also calcifies much of Civilization V's vocabulary and play arc. You still situate your capital city, and click it to designate the production of military units or workers that can spruce up your immediate surroundings. You still unlock new technologies and cultural policies that ensure a steady drip of upgrades and benefits. There are the familiar icons for production, food, and culture to illustrate the quantified output of your cities, and a new one, energy, is a reasonable enough stand-in for currency--its icon even looks a bit like a golden coin to ease you into the transition. So despite the new trappings, it's simple enough to slide back into routine. Create, explore, and expand--or, if you're like me, create, explore, quit, and create again.

The alien terrain shows off smooth transitions between tiles.

There are a few welcome touch-ups to smooth over Civilization's old edges, and they first appear in pregame as a series of decisions to make prior to starting your bid for global domination. A first step can be taken towards generating energy, science, culture, et alia, and you can opt to begin the game with a military unit, or a clinic if you'd prefer. There's more freedom afforded when picking out which parcel of land to found your first city on, and there's even a perk that reveals the outlines of the world's land masses. So much for my incessant restarting, then--all things considered, Beyond Earth seems to output viable starting situations more reliably than its predecessors.

But viable doesn't necessarily mean welcoming--this is an alien planet, after all, and colonizing it is going to beget some unfortunate learning experiences on the behaviors of local wildlife as part of due course. Maybe those lessons will come from the sandworm churning up your freshly tilled farmland a few tiles from your capital and consuming any trade expedition you send in its general direction. Or maybe from the creature that's three-quarters mandible, just kind-of loitering ominously offshore. Aliens play the role of the barbarian tribes from the last few Civilization games, as an entity that's not exactly "in it to win it." But they'll mess with your early game plans all the same, utilizing better cunning and more imposing units than their old club-wielding counterparts. Even Beyond Earth's loan translations of the previous entries' forests, mountains, and livestock feel suitably threatening here. A toxic miasma coats about a third of the surface of any map, damaging human units and healing aliens. And while natural wonders are conspicuously absent--robbing players of part of the draw of exploring a new planet--the varied terrain is full of curious features like resource pods, ruins and alien skeletons to seek out. The land is pock-marked with craters and chasms, the grasslands have a sickly cast to them, and I'm still trying to get comfortable with the idea of constructing a paddock for giant beetles.

Beyond Earth's opening cinematic teases colorful cultures that wash out in the gameplay.

But you're probably going to have to manifest some destiny sooner or later, because advancement in Beyond Earth necessitates subscription to a belief system and two of the three available are less than concerned with preserving indigenous species. So-called affinities push your development towards divergent goals: Purity, Supremacy, or Harmony. It's a choice between Terran, Protoss, or Zerg, really. Purity marks a civilization that concerns itself with recreating the comforts of home and preserving humanity in a more-or-less recognizable state. Supremacy is a technocratic zealotry that comes with all the haughtiness you'd expect--really, its units bear names like "Educator" and "Prophet." Harmony is there for us Truffula Tree-huggers, and since it lets you ride an alien like a horse and sic giant space katydids on your enemy's cities, I'd say it's the clear choice for the discerning Fremen. Interestingly, the text that accompanies each new affinity level shifts in tone along with the stage of the game, starting with earnest, innocent theorizing and gradually taking on a more hawkish, proselytizing inflection as the players start jockeying for position near the home stretch.

The Civilization series portrays a history that's not of people, but rather "the State." That is to say, you don't play as Ghandi, or Gengis Kahn: you play as India, or Mongolia, as well as a vision of those peoples united in a singular, millennia-spanning focus on besting all other nations. Beyond Earth expands upon this cult of the state, drawing the series' diverse cast of historical cultures into eight broad, continental coalitions, and rescinding the roles that individual artists, engineers, and scientists had been enjoying in Civilization V. The loss of the latter means a less celebratory, more overtly martial sort of strategy game, and I’m not keen on this step backwards towards the series’ competitive, board game roots. It’s echoed in the relative parity of the eight coalitions, which lack the color and diversity of play-styles that Civ V furnished so adeptly. In Beyond Earth’s eight-person multiplayer (local or online), the terms have never been so even, but some of the fascination went out the door with the asymmetry.

Affinities push your development towards divergent goals: Purity, Supremacy, or Harmony.

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It's a brave new world, with new lands to chart, resources to harvest, and goals to pursue. But it's also as cynical as the old one, where most actions serve competitive ends, and even the most cooperative and well-maintained alliances will be shattered by necessity towards game's end. To Civilization, the State is an entity that acts on only the basest and most selfish of desires--consume, grow, and propagate. That's become increasingly ironic, as Beyond Earth's web of discoverable technologies introduces high-minded and esoteric futurisms like "Human Idealism" and "Artificial Evolution." A little barbarism was to be expected back when Civilization's tech tree was largely given over to simply escaping the Dark Ages. But Beyond Earth suggests--and perhaps not wrongly--that advancements like euthenics or microrobotics are ultimately just the new sticks we'll use to club each other over the head.

Beyond Earth's operatic opening short tells the story of a young female colonist who bears at least some superficial resemblance to National Geographic's famous "Afghan Girl." But it's otherwise hard to get a sense of what these people look like, or what their culture entails beyond that brief cinematic glimpse, because only the military gets treated to any real illustration in the game proper. Gone are the works of art, music, and writing that helped to redefine the cultural victory in Civilization V, pared back to an abstract number that's ultimately used towards more aggressive ends. World wonders do reprise their role as larger constructive undertakings, but the bonuses they proffer feel tepid and same-ish this time around. There are quests, though--a first for Civilization. In practice, they're a limited set of binary prompts with a light influence on your direction of progress, but they nevertheless lend some helpful narrative context to the action, and they can branch in unexpected ways. A newly founded independent outpost might turn out to be performing questionable experiments on its colonists, perhaps, or a plant brought along on the journey to the new world might take root and begin overriding the local flora.

In at least one case, you're tasked with spying on a particular city belonging to a rival civ. It's a subtle guiding of the eyes towards Beyond Earth's enhanced spy system, which requires regular management of a small team that can siphon energy, science, or units from other cities in addition to the last game's tech thievery and intel thievery. Successful operations increase the intrigue rating for a city, ostensibly granting access to higher-tier abilities like fomenting rebellion or planting a bomb, but in practice it seems difficult to ever reach those levels. Relocating a spy to one's own city might be too reliable a means of reducing your intrigue levels when you see them spiking.

Gone are the works of art, music, and writing that helped to redefine the cultural victory in Civilization V.

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But absent a more subversive method of dealing with your foes, there's always old-fashioned battle. Military units still hold sway over most of the game space, trading turn-based fire between the hexagonal parcels of land and besieging cities. They fall back on Civilization's traditional archetypes: melee, ranged, cavalry, and siege, even as their outward appearances morphs from astronauts with rifles and moon rovers to bipedal robots and giant kaiju. The ones you field depend on your progression towards one of the three affinities, and in a welcome bit of streamlining, the upgrades get rolled out automatically with each new level--no more paying for promotions for each individual unit. Better still, a new, similarly tiled orbital layer plays host to satellites which can be launched for quick industrial bonuses, or support coverage for your armies in the field.

Beyond Earth's combat suffers from some balance issues though, and that's curious for a game that leans so heavily on proven systems. Cities are comically easy to take--most melee units fare much better at city capturing, and you can often halve a city's defenses in a single attack--resulting in situations where cities tediously trade ownership turn after turn. The fragility extends to the units themselves, many of which die in a single hit. By consequence, a small standing army is less tenable than it was back on Earth, and I find myself less invested in the fate of any one unit when it can be snuffed out by an orbital strike at any given moment.

I am finding that I play more games through to completion in Beyond Earth. In inverse of my experience with Civilization V, my favorite part might be the ending, where a civ has to lay its cards face-up in a bid for one of the five methods of victory, and any semblance of "civilization" goes out the window as everyone else tries to drag them back down like the proverbial crabs in the bucket. The three affinity-specific victories don’t play out all that differently, nor does a fourth concerned with making contact with an unseen, advanced alien race. Each entails researching a few specific technologies, then designating your cities to produce a structure or two that sometimes have minor idiosyncrasies, like consuming your surplus energy each turn. But the path to victory is more elegantly interwoven with the early and middle game this time around, and of course, global domination, ever the crude way out, remains as tempting as ever when another world leader shows up uninvited to talk some smack. The more things change, the more they stay the same, then; a journey to a planet halfway across the universe reaffirming the draw of the same old creature comforts--a plot of land, and just one more turn.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth - Declaring War Gameplay

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 3 hours 46 min ago
We declare war on a feeble outpost on the alien planet we have conquered in Civilization: Beyond Earth
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Civilization: Beyond Earth - Defending The Port Gameplay

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 3 hours 46 min ago
A few aquatic alien enemies attack the shores of our colony. We defend.
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1080p Unfinished Swan Hitting PS4 Next Week With Cross-Buy

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 4 hours 15 min ago

Sony announced today that the PlayStation 4 version of 2012's PlayStation 3 game The Unfinished Swan will launch on October 28. The game will be released that day for $15 as a cross-buy title, meaning you'll also receive the game on PlayStation Vita at no extra cost.

The Unfinished Swan runs in "silky smooth" 1080p on PS4, Sony wrote on the PlayStation Blog.

In the game, you take on the role of a young boy who, after chasing a swan, finds himself in a "surreal, unfinished kingdom." You're then presented with a blank canvas of a world, which you'll explore and unravel by splattering paint everywhere.

The original Unfinished Swan for PS3 was developed by Giant Sparrow, though Armature Studios (Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate) worked on the PS4 and PS Vita versions. For more on The Unfinished Swan, check out GameSpot's review.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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PS3 The Last of Us Game of the Year Edition Confirmed for Europe

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 4 hours 43 min ago

Sony today announced The Last of Us: Game of the Year Edition for PlayStation 3, which the company describes as the "ultimate version" of Naughty Dog's 2013 game. The bundle is launching in Europe on November 11, though Sony has not announced plans for North America.

In addition to the main game, The Last of Us Game of the Year Edition will include the single-player DLC expansion Left Behind, as well as the Abandoned Territories and Reclaimed Territories multiplayer map packs. Also included is the uber-hard single-player difficulty mode, Grounded.

The Last of Us Game of the Year Edition will sell for €39.99 ($50) across Europe.

A remastered version of The Last of Us is available on PlayStation 4 across the world. It features improved graphics and previously released DLC.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Studio Behind Gabe Newell Death Threat Formally Apologizes

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 5 hours 1 min ago

Code Avarice, the indie studio whose co-owner Mike Maulbeck recently threatened to kill Valve boss Gabe Newell, has now formally apologized for the now-former employee's actions.

"I want to issue a formal apology from Code Avarice to all of you, and the teams at Valve," Travis Pfenning wrote on the studio's website. "Especially to Gabe Newell."

Valve removed Code Avarice's game, Paranautical Activity, from Steam last week following Maulbeck's statement that "I am going to kill Gabe Newell. He is going to die." Maulbeck was upset that Paranuatical Activity was mistakeny caption as an Early Access game, despite being a finished product.

Pfenning says he does not condone what Maulbeck said, and that his comments should not be seen as representative of Code Avarice. He hopes that the studio can move on and put this issue behind them.

"I extend my hand to all of you in hopes that you can understand, that to err is human," Pfenning said. "We have all done it, at one time or another. This is not to say that what Mike said is acceptable. It most certainly is not."

Pfenning went on to say that he is not going to close Code Avarice and launch a new studio under a different name to escape the controversy. This would be easy, he said, but it wouldn't be right.

"Since this has happened, I have been forced to realize how fragile my love for this business has become. With success comes hate in my experience, and I have never succumbed to such behavior," he said. "This was a real threat to my livelihood and ability to take care of my family. It makes me realize that because of what he said, many of you might hold this against me as I was his partner and now am the sole owner of Code Avarice. I should probably dissolve this company and re invent myself in some other guise. I am not going to do that. I am a strong individual and admit my shortcomings. This will not be treated any differently than anything I have ever been a part of."

Pfenning added that he hopes fans continue to support Code Avarice, despite the actions of one employee who has since left the company. Going forward, Pfenning added that he will create a special Code Avarice Twitter account that will only tweet about game-related items.

"In closing, I want to thank those who do support us," Pfenning said. "I want to thank Valve for the original opportunity to be a legitimate force in gaming. I also can not stress to Gabe how sorry I am for this situation. This is not how I do business. Hopefully Valve and Gabe will accept our apology. This is not a ruse to get back on the platform. This is a serious apology for poor behavior."

Code Avarice is hoping that Paranautical Activity will return to Steam some day, and has even launched an online petition with the aim of making that happen. "We know that we've had our problems. We want to put those problems behind us and focus on what matters--providing amazing gaming experiences to you. We're not here to pretend this never happened, we're here right now, asking for your help, to prove that at the end of the day, we've learned from our mistakes and we're better now than ever before."

The petition currently has 304 signatures.

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Australian World of Warcraft Servers Going Live This Month

IGN.com - 5 hours 19 min ago

Blizzard Entertainment is rolling out Australian-based World of Warcraft game servers for Australian and New Zealand players ahead of the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion on November 13, the company announced tonight.

Players currently on the Oceanic realm (Barthilas, Frostmourne, Thaurissan, Saurfang, Caelestrasz, Jubei'Thos, Khaz'goroth, Aman'Thul, Nagrand, Dath'Remar, Dreadmaul and Gundrak) will experience improved latency when the new game servers go live, according to the announcement. Players on North American realms will have access to free character and guild master realm transfers from October 29 at 6:01pm until November 13 at 6:59pm AEDT Nov 13, 2014. Check out the full Q&A below for more info.

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Papers, Please Dev Announces Return of the Obra Dinn

IGN.com - 5 hours 31 min ago

Developer Lucas Pope has released a playable demo for the follow up to the indie hit Papers, Please.

Return of the Obra Dinn is a first-person adventure-mystery set in 1808. Not much is known about the story so far, but what do know is the ship – the Obra Dinn – appeared to be lost at sea some six-years earlier and it's up to the player to find out what exactly happened.

The game is set to a simple-yet-effective dot matrix art style – or in simpler terms, think a GameBoy title made with today's technology.

Pope advises that the demo of Return of the Obra Dinn isn't a finished product. Content is missing, it hasn't been tested, and progress is not saved.

"This is a very early playable build. There's not much content and it hasn't been tested," Pope wrote.

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Watch: New Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Multiplayer Footage

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 5 hours 55 min ago

Activision and Sledgehammer Games have released a new gameplay trailer for November's Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The video shows off some new multiplayer footage and features commentary from community members about how the Exosuit changes the overall experience.

Bear in mind that this video was produced by Activision, and all the gamers featured in it speak very highly of Advanced Warfare and what it brings to the table. For more on Advanced Warfare's multiplayer mode, be sure to read GameSpot's in-depth coverage here.

Advanced Warfare launches November 4 (get it November 3 by preordering) for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4--but not Wii U. Despite the game's release still being two weeks away, Activision just recently debuted the game's launch trailer.

For more on Advanced Warfare, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Linear Games Are "Going to Suffer" In Current Market, Far Cry 4 Dev Says

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 6 hours 8 min ago

The rise in video-sharing services such as YouTube and Twitch means that linear games are "going to suffer," according to Far Cry 4 creative director Alex Hutchinson. He says in a new interview that those video services will in fact work against linear games, in that people who stream or post videos of those games will only be showcasing how repetitive they can be.

"I'm really interested in emergent games and where that's going with video sharing and Twitch," Hutchinson said in an interview with OXM. "I think linear story games are really going to suffer in the modern marketplace."

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"They're already super high-quality, and we're already seeing their audiences migrate to the big, open-world games," he added. "If I open my friends list and see everybody on the same mission, doing the same thing... I think that's nowhere near as strong a sales pitch as opening your friends list and seeing 40 people doing completely different things."

Ubisoft has previously spoken about Far Cry 4 as something of an "anecdote factory"; a game that, due to its open-world and non-linear nature, will lead to "watercooler moments" of people sharing stories about what they did that often vary significantly from player to player. Far Cry 4 does have an overall narrative, but Ubisoft has stressed again and again that players will get to explore the world of Kyrat in the way that they want to.

It's not surprising to hear Hutchinson offer such emphatic praise for open-world games. After all, admiration for open-world games is seen all the way to the top of Ubisoft. CEO Yves Guillemot has said that Ubisoft is committed to making open-world games because "We think that gamers want more freedom." And due to its sprawling network of studios across the globe that can collaborate on projects, Guillemot contends that Ubisoft is one of the best publishers in the business to deliver open-world games on a regular basis.

Far Cry is just one of Ubisoft's open-world franchises. Others include Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed, and The Crew, among others.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Civilization: Beyond Earth Review

IGN.com - 6 hours 31 min ago

Because it’s based on the outstanding turn-based strategy mechanics of Civilization V, Civilization: Beyond Earth starts from a position of greatness. Even on these barely recognizable alien worlds, the addictiveness of building cities, exploration, and tactical combat holds up well. From there, developer Firaxis runs a series of bold experiments with Civilization’s established design. A few – such as the new Affinities system and streamlined unit upgrading – bear promising results, but cumulatively, enough of them go awry that I have to label Beyond Earth as my least-favorite Civilization in more than a decade. Of course, given the sky-high bar set by the series, it’s still a strong 4X game.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth Review

IGN.com - 6 hours 36 min ago
It's not the strongest Civilization game, but Beyond Earth's interesting new ideas and change of scenery are still addictive.
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Former Xbox/PC Exclusive World of Keflings Coming to Wii U Next Month

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 6 hours 38 min ago

Developer NinjaBee has announced that A World of Keflings will launch for Wii U On November 13. Currently, the game is available only for Xbox 360 and PC.

The Wii U version of A World of Keflings will sell for $10 (just like the Xbox 360 and PC versions), and will let gamers play as their Mii character throughout the title.

A Word of Keflings project manager Justin Hakanson said in a statement that NinjaBee sees the Wii U as the "perfect home" for the game.

The Wii U versions uses the GamePad for various features, including offering a mini-map to show where Keflings are and their state and allowing players to remotely access workshops.

A World of Keflings for Wii U will feature all DLC in the base game, including The Curse of the Zombiesaurus; Sugar, Spice, and Not So Nice; and It Came From Outer Space. NinjaBee also says the Wii U version will include "updated next-gen visuals."

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Far Cry 4's Multiplayer Mode Isn't Locked Behind A Paygate

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 6 hours 50 min ago
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Far Cry 4's multiplayer mode is not locked behind a paywall, creative director Alex Hutchinson has confirmed, following some level of confusion earlier this week.

"Just so it's clear: Multiplayer is for everyone who buys FC4, no need to buy anything else," Hutchinson said on Twitter. "There is an extra mode in DLC."

The extra mode Hutchinson is talking about is "Overrun," which is included with the $30 Far Cry 4 DLC pass. When Ubisoft announced the pass this week, it was unclear if the game was going to ship with a multiplayer mode available for people who did not own the pass.

For more on the Far Cry 4 DLC pass, check out our full write-up.

Far Cry 4 launches November 18 for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. Ubisoft said recently that it's targeting 1080p visuals for the Xbox One and PS4 versions. For more on Far Cry 4, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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Smash Bros. Wii U Nintendo Direct Scheduled for Thursday

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 8 hours 20 min ago
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During a Nintendo Direct video presentation on Thursday, October 23, Nintendo will highlight "50 new things" coming to the upcoming mascot brawler, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

The event kicks off at 3 PM Pacific / 6 PM Eastern through the Nintendo Direct website.

Some of Nintendo's surprises may have been spoiled, as an Amazon product page for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U recently revealed that the game will offer a stage creator and a "board game" mode. This came after Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai teased that the game is getting new single-player modes.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U launches November 21 in North America and December 5 in Europe exclusively for Wii U. The game has big shoes to fill, as the latest installment in the series--Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii--has sold more than 12 million copies to date.

Meanwhile, the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. launched earlier in October and has already sold over 2.8 million copies worldwide. For more on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Guild Wars 2 Changes Reversed Within 24 Hours of Complaints

IGN.com - 8 hours 24 min ago

ArenaNet has reversed its decision to change the denominations in which in-game gold can be converted to premium gems.

In case you missed it yesterday, whereas before players could exchange any amount of gold for gems to buy items, the new system allowed players to make the exchange only in set amounts. While there are no pay-to-win items on the store and they're mostly limited to cosmetic enhancements, some cost as little as 25 gems. Previously you could just pick up that small amount for gold, but after the update you needed to buy at least 400 gems in one go or spend real-world cash for the smaller amount.

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Free Version of Xbox Music to be Axed

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 9 hours 10 min ago

The free version of Xbox Music, Microsoft's Spotify-like streaming service, will be axed within weeks.

Following the removal of the ad-supported free version, on December 1, the only way to access Xbox Music will be to sign up to a paid subscription. Users will have unlimited access to Microsoft's library of millions of tracks, providing they pay $10 (or £9) per month.

"We are focusing Xbox Music to deliver the ultimate music purchase and subscription service experience for our customers," the corporation said on its FAQ page. There was no further explanation as to why the company is abandoning its ad-supported service.

The move comes despite one of the leading music streaming services, Spotify, continuing to offer limited music access for free.

For the monthly fee, Xbox Music offers unlimited access to its music servers, as well as offline listening on PC, tablet, and smartphones. For Xbox One and Xbox 360 users specifically, the service allows users to stream from a library of about 90,000 music videos.

A free 30-day trial is still available.

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Dark Souls 2 Now Playable in First-Person With This Mod

IGN.com - 9 hours 50 min ago

Dark Souls 2 is now playable in first-person view with a mod demonstrated by YouTube user Benzoin-Gum.

The mod that allows users to play From Software's role-playing game from a first-person perspective all the way through. It freezes the camera zoom value and when the player equips a bow or binoculars and zooms in, the camera will stay zoomed offering a first-person perspective. There is a video tutorial available for if the camera freeze doesn't work for users.

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