EA shuts down Visceral Games

Electronic Arts are shutting down their Visceral Games studio, EA vice president Patrick Söderlund has announced.

The studio, which was founded in 1998 as Redwood Shores and later became Visceral Games in 2009, is best known for Battlefield Hardline, Dante’s Inferno and the Dead Space series.

“Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA,” Söderlund said.

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Whilst the future of the team has been thrown into uncertainty, the statement shed light on the future of their current project. Visceral Games have been working on a Star Wars universe game since 2013, and the announcement will be significantly changing the direction of the project from a Naughty Dog style story-based, linear adventure to “a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency.”

It also means that the game, set for a 2019 release, will be delayed indefinitely whilst the project is handed over to another team.

“A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project,” Söderlund said, though there are no specifics. The EA vice president didn’t mention the game’s writing in the statement, which was previously worked on by former Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig and Todd Stashwick.

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Han Solo Spin-off Loses its Directors

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will no longer be directing the Han Solo film.

“We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true,” the pair said in a statement, citing a difference in vision and process.

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Lord and Miller, who directed the Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, were signed-on to helm the Star Wars spinoff in 2015. Actors Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover and Woody Harrelson are set to star in the project, along with Alden Ehrenreich in the lead role. Shooting began in February this year and, despite the director crisis, the film is still set to be released 25th May 2018.

In a statement, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed a new director would be announced soon, adding, “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways.”

It’s news that we’re all too familiar with, after a flurry of similar creative conflicts in recent years. The last Star Wars spin-off Rogue One experienced similar issues, bringing in Tony Gilroy to fix up and reconceptualise the film that Gareth Edwards had put together.

Prequels are a sensitive issue in this franchise, let’s hope this ends well.

E3 2017: 7 Highlights from Nintendo

Nintendo made clear ahead of time that their E3 Spotlight would focus on 2017 Switch games, leading us to expect a Mario-heavy presentation with little in the way of surprises.

The reality wasn’t far off, but there was certainty a few unexpected titles in the mix.

Here are seven highlights from the Nintendo E3 Spotlight;

  1. Kirby heads to Switch

 

Kirby is so freaking adorable, and news that the little critter is heading to Switch was delivered with a deliciously self-aware trailer. Dramatic tone, calling for a hero is answered with a montage of Kirby tackling challenges in a variety of outfits that boast specific powers. The game will also support co-op for up to four players, making it perfect for the Switch’s snap and share vibe.

 

  1. Yoshi is also heading to Switch

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trailer for Yoshi looks like a crafts project you made as a kid – and that is by no means intended to be derogatory. Channelling the same homemade art style as Wooly World, this Yoshi has a really charming feel and looks pretty fun.

 

  1. Rocket League Switch

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of the year, you’ll be able to play multiplayer car-soccer on your Switch. Rocket League an incredibly fun game to play with friends, and considering Nintendo made a point of pitching their new console towards eSports in early marketing efforts, its about time we got more competitive games for the console.

 

  1. Breath of the Wild Amiibos & DLC

 

 

The first of Zelda Breath of the Wild’s expansion packs will be out at the end of the month, 30th June. As hyped as I am for more content in this beautiful, endless game, I was more excited to get a glimpse of the four new Amiibo representing the four heroes of the game. Zelda amiibo have flown of the shelves consistently, and Nintendo would be mad not to bank that craze whilst its hot.

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  1. Super Mario Odyssey

 

 

 

Its hard to overstate both how good and how weird the new Mario looks. In the same way Breath of the Wild evolved the Zelda franchise, Odyssey adapts 3D Mario gameplay in a way that is both completely out there, convention-breaking brilliance and yet still maintains the nostalgic Mario feel.

 

  1. Pokémon is coming to Switch.. Eventually

Yeah, this is happening, but when is still completely in the wind. Tsunekazu Ishihara confirmed the Pokemon Company are indeed working on a Pokémon RPG for Nintendo’s hybrid console, but stated it might be more than a year before we see the game.

On a brighter note, we’ll finally be getting a mainline Pokémon game on console. Not a spin-off or a stadium-style peripheral, a full RPG, and in the mean time Pokken Tournament has got some decent upgrades for the DX Switch edition.

 

  1. Metorid. Prime. 4. Happening.

 

 

 

 

We don’t know much about this project, at all really, but lets face it – a forty-second teaser was more than enough to satiate the masses who have wanted this for so long. Metroid Prime 4 is officially on the way to Switch at last, and we’re also getting a remake of the Gameboy classic Metroid II on 3DS coming in September.

Most importantly, we’re getting a squishy Metroid amiibo.

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E3 2017: 7 Highlights from Sony

Without major hardware to announce, this year’s Sony E3 press conference was all about the games and, with so many exclusive titles on display, we wouldn’t have any other way.

There was no sign of the Last of Us sequel, nor did we see any surprise Bloodborne 2 announcement, but we did get a hefty dosage of trailers and gameplay footage – many of which happen to be strong Sony exclusives.

Here are seven highlights from the E3 event;

  1. Uncharted Lost Legacy

If the Last of Us ‘Left Behind’ is anything to go by, Naughty Dog know what they’re doing when it comes to DLC. Sony first showed off footage of the upcoming Uncharted 4 expansion with a cinematic trailer late last year, but the latest footage shows off more of Chloe and Nadine’s artefact-hunting adventure around the world.

With a release date set for 22nd August, it’s pretty safe to get excited.

  1. Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds announced

One DLC we didn’t see coming was an expansion for Guerilla’s post-apocalyptic, open world epic. The short trailer didn’t give too much away, but the exciting news is its due out by the end of the year. Hype.

  1. Days Gone, again

Another look at Day’s Gone, this time with a more in-depth look at gameplay. The trailer showed off hordes of enemies to contend with, as well as some human antagonists, and demonstrated how you can pit the two against each other with clever stealth mechanics. The game is due to come out late December this year.

  1. God of War

The first trailer for God of War introduced a side of Kratos we hadn’t seen before, and the introduction of his young son adds an emotional element that was never part of the original games. At this year’s E3, Sony showed off more of how that relationship works with gameplay – with Kratos tearing down enemies whilst his son, Atreus, picks them off with elemental arrows.

With giant serpents and awesome weaponry on show, it looks like God of War fans won’t be disappointed – and the game’s new-found depth might appeal to a wider audience also.

  1. Detroit Become Human

Sony treated us to another look at David Cage’s project, and it didn’t disappoint. The robot revolution story seems really interesting, but the branching butterfly-effect decision mechanic is the real hook.

The trailer unfolds in a way that sees the protagonists fail their primary objective of freeing fellow androids, but introduces the idea that it could have been very different – showing us multiple, varied paths.

  1. Skyrim VR (and more virtual reality gems!)

It’s a real testament to Bethesda that this is the second time Skyrim, a six year old game, has had a presence at this year’s E3 – and the second year running that we’ve had new versions of the epic open-world game announced.

Last year we got a remaster, this year Bethesda confirmed the game was coming to Nintendo Switch with motion controls (and a master sword!), and now Sony are bringing the epic Elder Scrolls world to life in virtual reality.

PSVR got a big helping of support with a look at several really promising titles for Sony’s virtual reality peripheral. The delightful Moss sees you exploring tropical ruins, solving puzzles and fending off enemies as a seriously adorable mouse, and Final Fantasy XV will let you chill with the foursome as you enjoy some fishing in ‘Monster of the Deep’.

A darker trailer showed off the creepy asylum-themed thriller The Impatient – which looks thoroughly unsettling. The reel also included Bravo Team, a fairly average looking shooter that might be more engaging when you’re actually in VR, and space side-scroller Star Child.

  1. Spider Man

Finally, Sony ended their show with more footage from Insomniac’s Spider-Man. It wasn’t quite the mic-drop moment of Kojima’s Death Stranding in 2016 or Last of Us 2 at Sony Experience, but oh man does this look like a cool game.

It looks like a cross between Arkham mechanics and Uncharted QTEs, with a strategic stealth level, some one-on-one combat and a cinematic cut-scene, followed by a fairly scripted chase through what looks like it might be an open-world (based on the presence of the map in the bottom left corner). It isn’t clear if it leans more towards the fairly open Arkham model or sticks to Uncharted-like set pieces, but my guess would be the former.

It looks impressive, fun and absolutely gorgeous.

E3 2017: 7 Highlights from Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s conference was a strong display of creativity and a real celebration of the talent behind the studio. Despite the excessive leaks around certain projects, Ubisoft proved they still have a few surprises up their sleeves.

Here are some of the night’s biggest moments.

  1. Rabbids Kingdom Battle Revealed (shocker)

The most unlikely rumour, a Rabbids Mario crossover, turned out to be accurate earlier this year when presentation slides containing artwork, gameplay details and marketing strategy leaked early.

 

 

 

 

Ubisoft finally confirmed the project officially at their E3 conference with the help of Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto and some ridiculously funky props.

The game looks just as vivid and hysterical in the flesh as we all imagined, setting Nintendo’s greatest mascots against Rabbid incarnations of themselves in tactical, turn-based gameplay.

 

  1. Assassin’s Creed: Origins Trailer

Following a trailer during Microsoft’s E3 (and again, a monumental amount of leaked material from the game’s title to actual merchandise), we already had good idea of Ubisoft’s new Assasin’s Creed game.

 

 

 

 

 

Still, Origins was always going to be a big part of their conference, and the segment really stressed the work that has gone into its creation over the past two years. The break in an otherwise annualised title seems to have really payed off.

 

  1. Elijah Wood introduces Transference VR

Transference’s developers hope to leave you unsettled with their virtual reality thriller, and that really came across in the short, creepy trailer.

 

 

It comes as a collaborative project from Ubisoft and Elijah Wood’s studio Spectrevision, and the actor himself opens the trailer to set the stage. The game is framed as part-film, part-game – which seems in-line with many VR experiences and popular story-driven games, dubbed ‘walking simulators’, where interactivity is second to exploration and narrative.

 

  1. South Park Fractured But Whole Coming October 2017

Release dates for Ubisoft’s sequel to Stick of Truth can be taken with a pinch of salt, after several delays, but the title had a presence at E3 with another trailer and a playable demo.

Originally pegged for late 2016, Ubisoft confirmed (for now) that the Fractured But Whole will now be with us October 2017.

We also got something completely new from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s show, with the news that a mobile game is on the way. South Park: Phone Destroyer is a free-to-play card game that will, like the rest of their games, gently mock itself and its industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since South Park once did an entire episode devoted to the horror of micro-transaction addiction, it will be interesting to see the game’s price model.

 

  1. Skull and Bones

The rumours were true, Ubisoft have been working on a pirate-themed online multiplayer.

As close to Black Flag online as we’re likely to get, Ubisoft’s brand-new IP does look familiar in its basic mechanics, but it promises a genuinely fun multiplayer adventure. Control your ship and join up with friends to form a pirate fleet in the Golden Age of piracy.

 

 

 

Following the original trailer and a look at the gameplay in action, a short teaser was aired in the conference that hinted at some supernatural elements, so there may be way more to this game than we know so far.

  1. Far Cry 5 Gameplay

Far Cry 5 was announced just last month, with artwork released alongside a trailer that revealed our first look at Hope County Montana and its cult fanatics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the first trailer set the mood, Ubisoft took the opportunity at E3 to show off the gameplay in greater detail with a look at your fighting companions – a sharp-shot sniper, death from above pilot and, best of all, fangs for hire Boomer the dog.

  1. Beyond Good and Evil

Of course, the most exciting news of the night left waves of fans in tearful awe with an outstanding trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Ubisoft proved they can keep some cards close to the chest, shocking E3 with a beautiful cinematic trailer for the highly anticipated, long awaited sequel to their 2003 cult hit. A sequel was originally announced almost ten years ago, but after reported development issues the project was scrapped entirely. Instead, all these years later we finally have a solid vision for the next game and it was absolutely worth the wait.

Michel Ancel, the series’ creator, personified the emotion in the room as he finally let us in on what they had been working on.

 

E3 2017: Age of Empires gets Remastered

The classic real-time strategy Age of Empires is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a digital remaster.

 

Microsoft Studios announced the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition at E3’s PC gaming show, citing 4K graphics, new zoom levels, improved gameplay and soundtrack amongst the game’s improvements. The upgraded version will also include the game’s Rise of Rome expansion pack and will support achievements and multiplayer through Xbox Live.

The trailer shows of some of the new features, but the base game will still look very familiar to nostalgic PC gamers. Ensemble Studio’s Age of Empires challenged players to take a civilisation from modest Stone Age beginnings through to the Iron Age, gathering resources to build and upgrade all aspects of your society from agriculture to military whilst fending off invaders.

The definitive remaster will launch sometime this year, and fans can register their interest for early Beta access here.

E3 2017: 7 Highlights from Microsoft

The biggest news to come out of Microsoft’s E3 press conference was almost certainly the reveal of their new console, but it also delivered exactly what fans watching have always asked for above all else; games, games and more games.

So much so that their impressive new console almost took a back seat. From highly anticipated trailers to completely new reveals, Microsoft went all out to impress.

If you’ve yet to catch up on the big presentation, here are 8 of the biggest highlights.

  1. Xbox One X Specs revealed

After teasing project Scorpio last year, Microsoft finally unveiled their new powerhouse console as the Xbox One X – an overpowered, native 4K console that will hit the shelves this year for $499 on 7th November 2017.

 

 

We also got a better look at the hardware, and confirmation that the new machine would be more powerful than its rival the PS4 Pro. Xbox One X will have 6 teraflops of graphical power, a custom 1172MHz GPU engine, 1TB hard drive and an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive.

Pitched as the most powerful console in the world, X specs look downright impressive, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

  1. Forza Motorsport 7 4K Looks Stunning

To show off the power of their new machine, Microsoft kicked off the flurry of game trailers with a look at Forza Motorsport 7 – which runs impeccably on Xbox One X in native 4k at 60fps.

 

 

 

 

The release date was also revealed as 3rd October 2017 for Xbox One and PC, but strangely the game won’t reach X owners until “Holiday 2017” so its unclear if this will be available when the console launches on 7th November.

  1. Assassin’s Creed: Origins Finally gets a Trailer

Ubisoft’s worst kept secret (and that’s saying something) is finally officially confirmed – Assasin’s Creed will return this year set in ancient Egypt.

The trailer and gameplay previews show of a well-polished chapter of the popular franchise, with a world that looks bigger and more alive than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

The game launches on 27th October for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC – and will be one of the first big games to really show off the power of the Xbox One X on November 7th.

  1. Microsoft Have Exclusives

Microsoft’s strongest hand was perhaps the influx of console (and in some cases Windows 10*) exclusives. Whilst the lineup arguably still lacks the big, console-selling titles like Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn or Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild, it’s great to see the presentation emphasise some exclusivity gems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following games were featured in the presentation as Microsoft exclusives;

  • The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti
  • Ashen
  • Black Desert
  • Crackdown 3*
  • Cuphead*
  • The Darwin Experiment
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Forza Motorsport 7*
  • The Last Night
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps*
  • Battlegrounds
  • Sea of Thieves*
  • State of Decay 2*
  • Tale*
  • Tacoma

We also got a look at some highly anticipated non-exclusive games, including the new Metro Exodus, a Life is Strange prequel, Dragon Ball Fighter Z and a look at the Shadow of Mordor sequel, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.

  1. Backwards Compatibility Expanded

A strong highlight for nostalgic gamers, Microsoft announced original Xbox games would soon be playable on Xbox One.

After releasing Xbox 360 backwards compatibility last year, the range will soon expand to include early classics, with Crimson Skies confirmed as one of the first games planned for the new collection.

  1. Multi-Platform Minecraft

An unlikely bombshell came in the form of a Minecraft server update. Microsoft’s exceptionally popular sandbox will now have seamless cross-functionality across all platforms.

 

 

 

Currently there are several versions of the game running on PC, along with the console and mobile versions. The update means Xbox players can easily play with IPad users, or Nintendo Switch owners, or even VR players.

So far there is an ominous cloud over whether this extends to Sony platforms, but Microsoft have stated their vision is to connect all versions of the game.

  1. A closer look at BioWare’s Anthem

Microsoft ended their show with a glipse of BioWare’s brand new IP, Anthem.

The game was teased a day earlier at EA Play, but Microsoft’s E3 press conference was the first real look at the game and even showed it running on Xbox One. Anthem is an incredibly ambitious open-world, multiplayer that follows exosuit-wearing explorers through a dynamic, sci-fi setting.

 

The game is set to launch in 2018.