Diablo III 2.4.3 Update: Party Like It’s 1996 (Or, To Hell & Back, Grinning)


 

Well, oooh. I wasn’t expecting to be this surprised by an update, but yep, Blizzard did just what I was thinking they were going to do with a bit more throwback action, albeit it short-lived. The update also popped up on PSN (as the 1.15 patch), which is the version I played through last night and messed around with into this morning. Other than it not having the retro UI, it’s exactly the same content. I was more surprised that the team had not a lot of info from the original Diablo and had to piece things together using fan wikis, but hey – most fans are helpful when they’re not fighting with each other.

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The throwback maps made me grin like a loon as I took a newly created Monk through those hellish stages. I went through on Normal the first time, which is why The Butcher went down without killing my holy fist punching dame. Actually, in my original Diablo play back in ’96, I didn’t die against that brute until my second time through because I got overconfident, his room was on a new spot on the map with a dead end outside I got trapped in and the exploding barrels I hit took off a wee but too much health when he rushed up with that axe. Ow. Actually, I had a run later through the PlayStation version in 1998 where I got stuck dying on the 7th floor thanks to a lightning fast lightning magic blasting mob parked right at the stairway. I think I still have that save data on an old memory card here.


 

In any event, if you’ve a PC, PS4 or Xbox One, remember spending too much time in digital Hell and want a quick trip back to 20 years ago… yeah, go grab Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, but do it soon. The Darkening of Tristram event only lasts until the end of January and you might not want to miss the oddball gifts you get when completing the run.

-GW

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Diablo Turns 20: Blizzard, What Are You Up To?


 

Twenty years is a long time for any form of interactive entertainment to be around and still have an active fan base. Blizzard seems to know its classic PC game Diablo has a rather dedicated and somewhat vocal legion of players that have stayed with the franchise through three games, numerous patches and a few expansion packs. Granted, the love for the first two games meant Diablo III was going to be heavily criticized for both its long development time and any huge changes to what longtime fans expected. Let’s just say the fans didn’t disappoint in letting themselves be heard.


 

But of course, Diablo III was a mess at and post launch, but tons of patches, the removal of that horrid Auction House and surprisingly, mostly superb console ports that actually improved upon the foundation laid made it a far better game for everyone save last-gen system (PS3/Xbox 360) owners who didn’t get the great 2.4.0 update. I’d already sunk a few hundred hours into the PS3 version and planned to transfer my save files over to the PS4 when I finally made the move to that console. Of course, that didn’t happen thanks to Phill Katz stealing my PS3 after I sent it to him for repair. NO, I haven’t forgotten you, asshole.


 

So, yeah. I’ve had to restart from scratch with Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition on the PS4 and so far, I’m quite pleased with my progress. I’m working on a Demon Hunter build and blazing through Adventure Mode after completing the Campaign once just to build up a ton of Paragon points so I’ll have a huge pool to use when creating other characters later. The 2.4.0 content surprised me with a dark and grim new map that added a few new enemy variants, crashing waves, rain and… freakin’ gigantic sea snakes popping up if you ran too close to the edge of some spots on the map.


 

Anyway, this post has no point other than me reminiscing and wondering just what the hell Blizzard is up to. Yes, I know about the Necromancer class coming as well as the upcoming “remake” of the first game using the DIII engine. But I’m hotly curious as to what else is planned. Other games get re-releases, HD upgrades or flat out remakes, so it only makes sense that this one would at some point soon. Unless Blizzard is just messing with us fans. Those old cinematics sure cleaned up well, huh?

-GW

Yooka-Laylee Capital Cashino Trailer: Playtonic’s Platforming Playhouse Arrives In 2017


Well, the really good news is this Rare-inspired platformer now has a release date and more great-looking screens to go with that trailer above. The sort of bad news is the Wii U version has been sent to the glue factory, but the silver lining is it’s headed to Nintendo Switch at some point. Screens you want, screens you get thanks to my handy YouTube channel you should probably subscribe to now that I’ve figured out how to use the darn thing. I don’t monetize, so fear not – you’ll get no spam or even a slice of stale bread to have that spam on.

Press release perusal? Jump down, watch for spikes.

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Busload of Horror IV: Laugh ‘Til It Hurts… Or Else

Okay, a bit late on this one, but I was busy chopping at my backlogs on assorted stuff and tackling a few fires in other spots. Anyway, here are a few more amusing horror-themed games from the vaults, although they’re not quite vintage having all arrived this year. One technically isn’t a “horror” game at all, but some of you will no doubt get a bit queasy if you think about it in a certain way. For example…

beeftacular_logo Beeftacular: Yuck. Retrific’s squishy, bloody little gem (currently available on Steam) made me stay away from meat for a week when I first played it thanks to… well, just look and see for yourself (IF YOU DARE):

Blech. Maybe it’s the thought of a chunk of raw beef cleansing a map of contaminated beef dipping into my subconsciousness combined with the not so wholesome meat industry pretending things are all fine and Grade A dandy when it’s not. But I couldn’t stomach this for more than an hour before I felt a bit off. Then again, the game’s manic pace and timed stages do get really hectic.

That said, yep, that level editor is mighty excellent, the music is great and if you’re a gamer with a meat fetish as well as a speed running maniac, you won’t need to ask “Where’s the Beef?!” at all. And nope, I never played Super Meat Boy until a few weeks ago – grinning meat is no turn on, either.

beeftacular-screenshot_10  Um, hey… anyone wanna go out for a nice juicy burger? 😛

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer: Tumbleweed Tease, But I’m Still A Betting Man

Beautiful, and had you inquired of me a few days ago, I’d have noted with a smile, exactly what I expected from Rockstar Games. Those with short attention spans whining all over the internet about this being more of a teaser than an actual full-on gameplay trailer packed with juicy plot spillage need to sloooowly slide away from the keyboards and step out for some air. It’s far too early to start dropping lengthy gameplay videos that will only be digested, incorrectly dissected and over-speculated on in every aspect by the usual suspects. My own preferences are to go in as cold as possible so the new game warms me up and is as spoiler-free as possible. Yeah, that’s how I roll and yes, it makes a game intensely more enjoyable when you don’t fire it up and know everything about what’s SUPPOSED to be a surprising *new* experience.

Where was I again? Oh, right? When has the company dumped out a long-form gameplay trailer for a game that’s about to over a year away? More importantly, when have they let you down with one of their major releases? Yeah, PC-only gamers will gripe about that question in regards to the first 2.5 Red Dead games (Revolver, Redemption, and Undead Nightmare). But that’s their own fault from suffering from system bias, I say.

That and, hell… if GTA V PC is any indication, you over-clockers and console blockers will get yours at some point, gloating about its superiority as soon as the system specs and first screenshots are revealed at the exact same “some point.”

So, get over it. Please.

Er, just not before us console owners loyal to the cause since the DMA Design days and prepping for a game destined to become an instant classic when it’s released for PS4 and Xbox One in 2017.

P.S.: Sneaky, Rockstar… SNEAKY. Getting Red Dead Revolver out on PSN almost a week ago and not telling me. Well, that goes on the want list, too. I just have the Xbox version in the game library at the moment, but hate setting up that system just for one game.

Mordheim: City of the Damned Lands on PS4, Xbox One

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“Well, this one looks neat!” said the brain, both halves actually agreeing for a rare change. Focus Home Interactive’s busy year of interesting games I want to play continues with developer Rogue Factor‘s Mordheim: City of the Damned, a really nice-looking tactical RPG based on the classic Games Workshop out of print board game from 1999. Four separate campaigns (a full campaign for each of the four Warbands: The Human Mercenaries, the Sisters of Sigmar, the Skaven of Clan Eshin, and the Cult of the Possessed), online play if you want to compete with like-minded gamers, snazzy visuals, all that good stuff.

While not a “horror” game per se, I do love the visual style chosen quite a lot and hell, imagine wanting to whip up a Halloween outfit based on some of the wilder looking characters? Yep, that would be fun, right down to the people running away from you and into nearby trees or lampposts. Ouch.

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RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2: Yes, It’s Worth Waiting That Year For

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Woke up late with a screaming headache, saw this news and while not gone, my headache was screaming less louder than I was. Yep. Third game I need of 2017, inbound. Press release below:

Rockstar Games Announces Red Dead Redemption 2® Coming Fall 2017

Trailer coming Thursday October 20th

NEW YORK, NY, October 18, 2016 – Rockstar Games®, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), is proud to announce that the highly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2® will release worldwide in Fall 2017 for PlayStation®4 computer entertainment systems and for the Xbox One games and entertainment system.

Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.

With Red Dead Redemption 2, the team is working hard to push forward our vision for interactive entertainment in a truly living world,” said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games. “We hope to deliver players an epic experience that builds upon everything we’ve learned making games.”

Watch the Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Thursday October 20th at http://www.rockstargames.com.

This game is not yet rated by the ESRB.

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Review: VIRGINIA

A must for those who love cinematic game experiences, unique visuals and jigsaw-piecing together a compelling narrative that holds a few surprises and life-sized curve balls for its cast of characters. Short attention span types, those who think some/all games are “art” that require no commentary, and those who want everything explained at the finale need not apply, though.

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Platform: PC (also on PS4/Xbox One)
Developer: Variable State
Publisher: 505 Games
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/22/2016
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Official Site
Score: A- (90%) BUY IT!

 

 

Variable State’s first game, VIRGINIA, is more of a work of interactive fiction presented in the language of videogames, but it’s also an impressive debut that works brilliantly. The catch is, in hoping players “get” the tricky mix of disjointed narrative and timed exploration sequences, the developer has unintentionally created a game that’s too damned smart for much of today’s gamer audience that craves explanation and arbitrary rules of realism apply to everything they play who also refuse to open their minds to something different that’s actually worth playing and replaying.

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In a nutshell, the story is about an FBI agent sent on a missing child case with another agent who needs a close eye kept on as there’s an ongoing investigation into unorthodox methods being used. That both agents are female, minorities and have some usual human flaws seems to rankle a few skulls. But reversing the sexes of the agents wouldn’t make a dent in the plot, as anything presented could happen no matter the gender of the main character or agent under the magnifying glass. Continue reading

Review: Wheels of Aurelia

Bravo, Santa Ragione and Brava, Lella! This driving sim/adventure hybrid’s a definite Game of the Year contender that will make those who “get” it want to crack open a few books and do some heavy reading and/or thinking.

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Platform: PC (also on Mac/Linux/PS4/Xbox One)
Developer: Santa Ragione
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Release Date: 9/20/2016
# of Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Site
Score: A (95%) BUY IT!

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Calling Santa Ragione’s outstanding Wheels of Aurelia a simple “driving simulation” is REALLY selling it short. This brilliantly conceived hybrid game is more of a mature “choose your own path conversation-based adventure that just so happens to take place in a almost constantly moving car” with 16 possible outcomes and more than that many ways to reach them. From the beautiful stylized simplicity of the art, the great soundtrack (buy it!) that captures the spirit of late 70’s Italian radio tracks, and the mature script that may rankle a few overly sensitive types while striking others as flat out fantastic and thought-provoking.


Save for the ride you choose, the game’s opening is exactly the same each time. In 1978, Lella and Olga, two young Italian ladies who met the previous evening at a disco, set out on a road trip to France on the Via Aurelia along the western coast of Italy. Along the way, the pair talk about life, pick up a hitchhiker or two (or none – it’s up to you) and based on the path both the conversation and car takes, the game reaches a conclusion in all of 15 minutes or so. 16 endings at 15 minutes each ends up at 4 hours total playtime IF you’re silly enough to think you’ll see every conversation and character variant possible. The combination of period-era history, frankly spoken dialogue and some VERY interesting hitchhikers make this very replayable as well as a great exercise in storytelling.

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VIRGINIA Is For Lovers (Of Offbeat Interactive Adventure Games)

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Virginia is a first person interactive drama. It is the story of a recently graduated FBI agent and her partner as they seek to uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a young boy.

 

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Coming September 22 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from developer Variable State and publisher 505 Games, VIRGINIA is a visually stylized, dialog-free modern noir mystery/adventure game that pays homage to surreal entertainment such as Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Fargo. There’s a great PC demo available now on Steam that leaves more questions swirling in the brain than it gives answers about what’s in store for players, but this is a good thing.

All I can say is it has something to do with a missing teenager, dreamlike transitions from place to place, a possible relationship between the two FBI agents working on the case together, and oh, yeah… a buffalo that pops up at the weirdest moments. Yeah. But it somehow works exceptionally well enough that I’d bet non-gaming mystery fans will want to sit next to someone playing as play brainiac buddy as things unfold.

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Okay, I’ll let you in on more precise details below the jump – I don’t want the suspense to kill you that much… Continue reading