Bit of a slow week for us here at XP4T Towers. With Neoheresy still away on his top-secret mission to stop the Libyans from acquiring Play-Doh technology, the Crazycatlady busy tinkering with her new Alienware laptop (wooh, the lights!), DigBick up to his eyeballs in interviews and PsychoSyd lost in a world of quiz-making and RPG poll conducting, it has fallen to me to feed the cats, scrape out the microwave and write the news. Fortunately, it was a bit busier out there in the world of games. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights.
Monday tumbled out of bed and staggered to the kitchen, tripping over the news that the latest update to the legendary iCEnhancer for GTA IV is finally nearing completion. For those unfamiliar with this awesome graphics mod, it works something like OptiFine in Minecraft, or the ENB Series in Skyrim and various other games, making everything look jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Version 3.0 has been in the works for some time, but it looks like the impending arrival of GTA V has prompted another burst of activity by the iCEnhancer’s author, Hayssam Keilany.
Two slices of toast and half a pot of coffee later, the postman dropped news through the letterbox of a kind of spin-off from the superb 2011 side-on, microscopic survival/platformer, Terraria. Original studio Re-Logic is teaming up with Dutch handheld and console developer Engine Software to bring us Terraria: Otherworld, which the original forum announcement describes as being set in “an alternate dimension within the Terraria universe.” It also reiterates that this is strictly not ‘Terraria 2’, so we’ll have to wait and see how this one pans out I suppose.
Tuesday glanced out of the window at the rapidly-disappearing winter as it struggled to connect its external hard drive to its TV, and wondered when we’d finally bloody get our hands on the reversible Type C USB connectors. Fortunately, Taiwanese motherboard mavens ASRock have the answer, and that answer is ‘now’. Ass-Rock’s (sorry) new X99 and Z97 motherboards will all feature both standard USB 2.0 and a single Type C USB 3.1 port. The new mobos will also come bundled with controller cards that offer more USB 3.1 slots, presumably because they were in a hurry to be the first to win this race and because the average motherboard is, like Scarlett Johansen in her Avengers bodysuit, already quite well-packed.
Speaking of such things, Squeenix saw fit to unleash some new, hi-res screenshots of the increasingly MILFy Lara Croft in Crystal Dynamics’ Rise of The Tomb Raider, her latest outing following the 2013 reboot. It’ll be exclusive to the Xboxes for a while before releasing it’s Soccer Mom goodness to other platforms, but in the meantime you can goggle at the pics, courtesy of Allgamesbeta.com, who picked them all up after school and drove them home in the mini-van for us.
Wednesday got off to a flying start with two pieces of motoring news. Russian-made, English-published mud simulator Spin Tyres is once again being actively worked on following a lengthy hiatus after some pretty-well publicised disagreements between its author, Pavel Zagrebelnyj, and Oovees, publishers of the 100,000-plus-selling title. In their new, post-unhappiness arrangement, there’s even some talk of sequels and whatnot, so things must be going pretty well again.
Bandai Namco also announced that its previously delayed car porn title, Project Cars, would again be delayed until April to allow more time for final polishing (or for the Easter bunny to finish prep for his first big race, one of the two). Ian ‘Not the Elite guy’ Bell, head of developers Slightly Mad Studios, said in the announcement that “…these extra days will allow us to provide the best game experience that our fans deserve. We assure you the wait will be worth it when the game does arrive early April.” From the screenshots and videos of Project Cars, one of which you’ll see below (that my wife didn’t believe wasn’t a real photograph, ha), he’s not kidding either.
An entirely non-car-related thing also happened on Wednesday, when e-sports organisers Gfinity announced that they will be opening a 500-seat eSports arena in London, England, as part of the VUE cinema chain’s gigantic Fulham Broadway Multiplex. Due to open in March, they reckon that by the middle of September this year it will have already hosted around 30 events, giving away USD 500,000 in prize money to players of FIFA, CoD, Hearthstone and CS:GO. Phew!
Thursday dozed off at its desk in the afternoon when the pressure dropped, and jerked back awake from a brief dream that Baldur’s Gate icons Minsc and Boo would be helping players of Cryptic’s Neverwinter when its Module 6: Elemental Evil goes live on March the 17th. Neverwinter has fallen into an interesting release schedule of late, which tends to move a little more quickly than it did in its first year of operation. Some time ago, proud co-parents Wizards of The Coast decided that they needed to go more cross-format, and so Neverwinter‘s update schedule was welded to the developments in WoTC’s pen-and-paper storyline. Excitingly, Module 6 will also feature a level cap increase from 60 to 70, as well as a whole new class, the much-expected Paladin.
It turned out to be quite a good day for fantasy fans, as Monolith Productions announced their final piece of DLC for glossy Tolkien-’em-up Shadows of Mordor. Entitled The Bright Lord, the big pull this time is the historical setting, with players controlling the rings’ original creator, Celebrimbor, in something “considerably tougher” than the main game’s campaign, with a final showdown against Sauron himself. To celebrate this exciting bit of expensive news, here’s a picture of Neverwinter instead.
Friday slacked off as much as it could, finally escaping to the pub to ponder some perhaps troubling news. Blizzard, whose name I shall colour blue because that’s the colour it should always be (you’ll have to imagine the ziggedy-zaggedy font they use yourselves), revealed that the upcoming patch 2.2.0 for perpetual loot-grinder Diablo III would feature new Legendary armour sets and powers, as well as new ‘Exploration’ bounties for Adventure mode. While this is all well and good, those blue lunatics then announced that some parts of the world would be getting a new currency patched into their games, along with new cosmetic and pet MTR items. Drama, as they say, ensued. Apparently these features will not be deployed in America — North, South and Canada. For now. Hmm… They claim that “many players have expressed an interest in microtransactions being added to Diablo III.” Which is usually the complete opposite of what many people want from their games, but oh well. Again, time will tell on this one, although the memory of their AH fiasco is still quite fresh in the mind.
There were other things happening on Friday too: Camelot Unchained, the reincarnation of DAoC announced that they might have a playable Alpha date in mind; Old School RuneScape announced F2P servers; Dreamfall Chapters said “March 10th” for Chapter 2, and Twitch (that one’s purple, because come on) announced the first ever Twitchcon, to be held in the autumn (fall for you Americanos) in San Francisco.
Well, there you have it. Back to the microwave for me. That old cheese isn’t going to clean itself you know.