Tag Archives: patch notes

More Dramatic Readings Of Video Game Patch Notes, Please

We’ve all been there: Your favorite game drops a big update, and you’re desperate to find out what’s changed. Then you slam face-first into the wall of text that is the patch notes, and your enthusiasm deflates like a punctured whoopee cushion. Reading is a lot of work. What if someone could just read the patch notes for you?

That’s the approach Supergiant Games’ narrative-driven roguelite Hades has been taking with its big updates, bolstered by a suitably story-centric twist. The game’s patch notes include a video of its disembodied narrator reading each and every word in a deliberate yet still dramatic tone. It makes for an almost ASMR-like experience that nonetheless feels like it belongs in Hades’ universe. Very few people can make phrases like “reduced power scaling from improved rarity” feel like gateways to adventure, and yet, he finds a way. Today I listened to him read the patch notes for the game’s new “Superstar” update for over 16 minutes. I do not regret having spent my time that way.

Contrast this with other games’ patch notes, which unceremoniously bombard you with de-contextualized stats and other granular details in a way that feels divorced from the larger experience of being immersed in the game. Patch notes are necessary in this age of constantly updating “live” games, but they’re almost unanimously dull and unappealing. They are a slog. Instead of reading them, maybe you go to a news site or Reddit and try to suss out the highlights. Or maybe you just jump into the game and hope for the best. Or maybe you’re a lapsed player hoping to dive back in, but the looming specter of information overload convinces you to continue keeping your distance.


I’d love to see more developers take a crack at making patch notes feel fun—or at least momentous. I think the latter is what Hades does especially well. Major updates are capital-E Events, and even in its patch notes, Hades pulls out all the stops. Will patch notes ever be a rollicking great time? Probably not; they include phrases like “reduced power scaling from improved rarity,” after all. But video games are an entertainment medium, and game designers are clever people. Punch them up a little! Or at least find somebody with a cool voice to read them for you. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Half-Life 2’s Characters Can Finally Blink Again

In one of the weirder Steam updates, non-player characters in Half-Life 2 and related episodes can now blink, after an update from Valve.

Valve put out a small update yesterday for Steam builds of the Half-Life games that includes the note “Fixed NPCs not blinking.” As explained by Rockpapershotgun, NPCs lost the ability to blink following a SteamPipe update five years ago. They could still blink in scripted moments, but they wouldn’t do it generally. I don’t blame you if you never noticed, but plenty of players did.


Now, we have a solution. NPCs will blink in Half-Life 2, Episode 1 and 2, Lost Coast, and Source. Here’s the G-Man’s opening monologue from 2015.

And here’s a grab from this morning:


It’s going to be a good day.

Source: Kotaku.com

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Just Got A Completely Bananas Backstory

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the 2017 Early Access hit that kicked off gaming’s battle royale craze, has never really had a backstory. Why bother? The appeal was immediate: You’re thrown from a plane with 99 other people onto an island full of weapons. This being a video game, everyone is going to try and kill one another. It’s an immediately compelling concept, the appeal of which is even clearer with every new battle royale mode that’s announced in other games.

So perhaps the biggest change in PUBG’s forthcoming fourth season is the fact that it now has a backstory—and it is absolutely bonkers.

The premise debuts in a new trailer set on the game’s first map, Erangel, where a boy is the lone survivor of some unspecified conflict. That boy grows up to be a man obsessed with survival, and so he now organizes the entire battle royale. For his…entertainment, I guess? It’s pretty twisted!

This sudden, shocking revelation brings all sorts of questions. How does he recruit people? Is this man’s battle royale a publicly known thing? What conflict wrecked Erangel and turned this kid into a monster? Are there people out there trying to bring him down? Are the goofy outfits his idea?

There’s so much we don’t know! What we do know is that Season 4 is bringing some changes to the Erangel map that are now live on the game’s PC test server, according the 4.1 update. The biggest changes are to Erangel. The map is getting lots of adjustments meant to give the island a better sense of history and perhaps allude more to this new backstory.

The update also comes with a new Survival Pass and a long list of weapon and item balance changes. There’s also playable turntables. They look like this.

Just thought you should know.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Season 4 is live now on the PC test server and coming to consoles later this summer.

Source: Kotaku.com

Fallout 76’s New Project Paradise Quest Has You Do Genetic Experiments For Big Pharma

Without stuff to kill, the masses in Bethesda’s online survival game Fallout 76 tend to get restless, taking aim at one another when nothing else worth their time is available. Fortunately, this week’s update has offered up a fine distraction in the form of a public quest called Project Paradise.

The quest is located in a series of man-made biomes used for genetic testing in a new area under the Arktos Pharma plant, just south of Morgantown. Project Paradise becomes available every so often, drawing players from far and wide into the bowels of big pharma to complete experiments in exchange for rare loot. It works well in part because it’s a multi-step mission inside a vast new underground environment but also because successfully completing it really does require strangers coming together and working as a team.

The first phase of the quest involves activating an experiment that unleashes three test subjects into their respective biomes. From there, whoever is around has a limited amount of time to kill nearby livestock and harvest plants to fill each biome’s trough with the proper food. After the feeding period, players then need to defend the creatures against enemy attacks that come in three waves. This means having at least one player in each biome to fight off invading ghouls and robots.

The entire place is teeming with level-50-and-above Assaultrons who enjoy blasting you at point-blank range with their giant face lasers The group I was with spent most of our time running back and forth trying to revive one another while trying to take cover behind broken machinery. At one point I was critically injured and called for help, only for someone to come over, stare at me for a brief moment, and then decide to eat me to regain their health. Sometimes you got to take one for the team. (It only takes seconds to respawn nearby and rejoin the fight.) The social aspect and the large-scale destruction go a long way toward making Project Paradise a lot more fun than last month’s more solo-oriented Burrows dungeon.

The event also guarantees players a three-star boss who drops a three-star legendary item if all of the animals are fed as much as possible, making it worth everyone’s while and encouraging teamwork to get the best possible result. It makes me wish Bethesda could go back and add similar mechanisms to trigger more difficult and rewarding versions of other public quests.

So far, the only real downside to Project Paradise, outside of the occasional bug (which currently seem more common in the underground biomes than the rest of the game), is the lack of a server-wide alert for when it’s happening. Many players have taken to constantly bringing up their map to check if the event is active as a result, with lots of calls from the community for Bethesda to add some sort of more obvious notification.

Slowly but surely, Fallout 76’s would continues to feel a little bit less empty, thanks not just to new quests like Project Paradise but also the recent addition of player vending machines, which players can use to sell items to other players. On one server, a player had set up their camp right outside the Arktos Plant and was selling low-priced healing items to help the adventurers heading inside—Fallout 76’s version of a lemonade stand. Maybe Appalachia can get rebuilt after all.

Source: Kotaku.com

Anthem’s Latest Update Removes Special Loot Chests

Today’s Anthem update has removed special Elysian chests from the game just over a month after they were added. This comes on the heels of several delayed updates, leaving the game’s remaining players bewildered and frustrated.

Anthem’s 1.1.1 patch went live earlier today and fixed a handful of small bugs, including one which was causing the wrong equipment stats to be displayed. The patch notes also included a note encouraging players to use up their remaining Elysian keys before they vanished from the game completely. “A reminder that Elysian Caches will be going away on May 7th, so if you have any keys left be sure to use them today!” it read.

Elysian Caches were special loot chests that appeared at the end of Stronghold missions and had unique cosmetics like decals and fabric textures inside. They were originally added to the game in a March 26 update, the game’s first major new piece of content since its February release. The cosmetics inside the chests weren’t fantastic, but they did give players an additional reason to keep running through the same old content over and over again.

“I know they weren’t very rewarding but Elysian Caches were literally the only thing that kept me in the game. Log on. Do a daily. Get a key. Heart of Rage. Log Out. Easy enjoyable experience,” wrote one player on the game’s subreddit. “Not rewarding mind you. But I still had fun. Hell, sometimes I would run TWO strongholds in the same night.”

In the comments section of Reddit, BioWare global community manager Jesse Anderson responded that the Elysian Caches were never meant to last. “They’ve always been planned as a temporary thing since there was a timer under the challenges,” he wrote. “There is a chance that they’ll come back again at some point.”

A post on EA’s website about the chests does indeed allude to them being temporary. “You’ll have to move fast, though, because Anthem’s world is always changing, and the Elysian Chests won’t be around forever,” it reads. But that hasn’t made the game’s remaining players feel any better about their removal given Anthem’s overall lack of content.

It’s especially discouraging in light of the several updates that were originally scheduled for April but never arrived. There were 14 new additions to the game planned for April in BioWare’s original 90-day calendar, but only the new Sunken Cell Stronghold mission made it, with things like guilds and a new mastery-progression system falling to the wayside. Two weeks ago, BioWare announced that the big Cataclysm event planned for May was being indefinitely delayed as well.

In the meantime, the game’s popularity on Twitch has plummeted, and some of its players have taken to the subreddit to announce they’re taking a break. Last week, Chad Robertson, the game’s head of live service, took to Twitter to try and reassure fans that Anthem wasn’t dead.

“We remain 100% committed to Anthem and look forward to showing players the new content we are working on,” he wrote. “We want to make sure we aren’t overpromising, so our updates on what’s coming in the game will be focused when we have things near completion.” Unfortunately, the removal of some of the game’s only new content since release isn’t the type of update many were hoping for.

Source: Kotaku.com

For Honor’s New Season Adds Fun Executioner Class But Ups The Grind

For Honor’s year three, season two update dropped yesterday introducing a host of changes, not the least of which is a new samurai class called Hitokiri. The new class is cool, but not all of the other changes are good. The update revamps the reward system for a number of modes, and now it can feel a bit punishing.

First, the exciting stuff. Hitokiri are cruel warriors who roam the world looking for heads to lop off. They carry giant, dual-headed axes and prefer to obscure their faces with masks and hoods. For Honor’s aesthetic has always felt a bit metal, but the current year of updates has really leaned into the electric guitars, heavy bass, and emphasis on skulls and death. The Hitokiri, which also has a female version of the class named Sakura, are part of the samurai faction, and so they feel thematically in-line with season one’s Black Prior class. The Black Priors are dark warriors who seemed equally likely to spend their free weekends at the mall hovering over the jewelry counter at a Hot Topic.

Sakura’s main fighting style revolves around chaining together heavy attacks and speed changeups to try to throw off the opponent’s timing mid-combo. Many of her moves are on the weightier side, but most of her combos start or can pivot to a light attack, helping give her an out that some of the game’s other slow fighters don’t always have. As much as I enjoy how her attacks elegantly flow into one another, she does get gassed pretty easily. In the matches I’ve played with her so far, I’ve run into a number of situations where I was tearing an opponent apart only to run out of stamina and have no real way to retreat because of her plodding pace. So while it feels great to just keep whacking away at opponents, the character requires an extra bit of restraint, unless you’re sure your next combo is enough to finish an opponent off.

Where Sakura really stands out is in her overall design. She doesn’t feel like a rework of another class or simply the Samurai equivalent of some other existing fighter.

Her robes and the jangle of masks that hangs around her waist all look cool, and all of her alternative costumes feel different enough and not just like texture swaps. She also likes to hiss like she’s trying out to be Voldemort in a stage adaptation of Harry Potter, which is unnerving but fits her overall goth punk aesthetic. My only complaint is that even though my Sakura doesn’t wear a mask, she still sounds like Bane every time she’s huffing and puffing after a long fight.

She’s not only the new part of the game following yesterday’s update. The other big ticket items are a new map called Canopy, which is fortress in the trees and looks beautiful, and reworks for the Lawbringer and Raider classes, which I didn’t spend a ton of time messing around with but seem fine.

Buried further down in the patch notes, though, was the introduction of “Dynamic Rewards” to all game modes. Previously only used in Arcade and Breach, dynamic rewards are meant to make different activities in the game give equal rewards to all players, based on how long each activity takes. That way it doesn’t feel like you’re taking a hit by playing longer modes like Breach vs. lots of matches in shorter ones like Dominion. It sounds great on paper, but in practice, it now just feels like you’re getting less across the board.

Some players have posted online about how the new rewards system doesn’t feel like it’s quite right. “In dominion for example, you used to get 50 steel for winning a match no matter what,” wrote Reddit user GuideDragon on the game’s subreddit. “I’ve yet to even reach 50 steel in rewards and I’ve had some pretty long matches, I don’t know what the threshold is to get over 50 but it’s obviously set way to high for it to average out to compare to what we used to get pre-patch.” Since the latest update went live, lots of other posts about the subject have sprung up on the subreddit as well, with some players calling on Ubisoft to revert the update back.

Steel is For Honor’s premium in-game currency. I spent most of my reserves on cosmetics for Black Prior back when that class released in February. It didn’t take long playing as Sakura for me to want to invest in some of her costumes and execution animations as well, but I’m averaging around 20-30 Steel per match, so that feels like an especially distant prospect at the moment. Anyone who doesn’t already have this year’s expansion pass, which costs $30, will need at least 15,000 Steel to unlock the Hitokiri anyway. The new system doesn’t make For Honor’s grind the worst thing in the world, but it’s definitely an unfortunate step back for a game that’s still continuing to improve in almost every other area three years out.

Source: Kotaku.com

Block, Yoda Can Finally

Star Wars: Battlefront II came out 17 months ago. In all the time since, Yoda hasn’t been able to block attacks with his lightsaber. Luke Skywalker was able to block. Obi-Wan Kenobi was able to block. But not the Jedi master who taught them. Until now.

Today’s Battlefront II update adds a new costume for Princess Leia, as well as the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk to Capital Supremacy mode. Last but not least, the update adds the much-requested ability for Yoda to clash more effectively with lightsaber weilding foes. Darth Maul, who also couldn’t block previously, has now been blessed with this new power too.

“After much discussion and tweaking, as well as a healthy amount of player feedback, we’ve added blocking for Yoda and Darth Maul!” EA community manager Jay Ingram wrote on the Battlefront II forum. “Yoda still has the ability to absorb blaster bolts and lightning, but he’ll use his lightsaber to defend against lightsaber attacks. Darth Maul will use his lightsaber for both.”

This has been a topic of much debate for some time among Battlefront II players, with many wondering why Yoda was limited to blocking energy attacks using the force, rather than being able to parry incoming lightsaber attacks as well.

“Blocking is a STANDARD for lightsaber heroes,” wrote user Kwamster9000 in a February post on the Battlefront II forum. “This is the first Star Wars game I’ve ever played or heard of where someone in the game with a lightsaber couldn’t block. It makes no sense.”

GIF: Szaby59 (Reddit)

Other players wondered if not allowing Yoda or Darth Maul to block was simply the price of the game’s attempt to make each hero play in a unique way. Darth Maul doesn’t lose stamina, allowing him to be extra aggressive, while Yoda’s acrobatics and ability to absorb energy and reflect it back can make him devastating in all sorts of situations.

In the end, though, the developers at DICE relented; they actually hinted late last month that no-block Yoda was being reconsidered. While some players are now worried that Yoda’s newfound abilities will make him overpowered (the latest patch also buffed little green legs to help him jump higher), at least he can now fence like a proper Jedi.

Source: Kotaku.com

Anthem Is Less Frustrating After Its Latest Update

When BioWare’s online multiplayer loot shooter, Anthem, launched in February, it wasn’t possible to embark on missions back-to-back or swap out equipment on the fly. In today’s update, BioWare has finally changed that, helping to streamline an experience previously mired by frustrating restrictions.

Patch 1.1, which went live earlier today on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, finally makes it possible to launch new missions directly from the expedition summary screen. Previously, players were forced to return to the launch bay or the game’s main hub of Fort Tarsis prior to going back out again. That required sitting through multiple loading screens, slowing play by a couple minutes between missions. For a game predicated on grinding the same content repeatedly, little things that get in the way of continuously playing are extra annoying.

It’s also now possible to choose new contracts directly from the mission selection screen rather than needing to go visit the contract boards individually. That means there’s less reason to wander through Fort Tarsis, but since it’s clear that’s not where the heart of the game is, providing shortcuts to bypass it is a welcome development.

The biggest new feature remains the ability to access the Forge during missions. In the past, it was only possible to fiddle with your character’s Javelin loadout while back at Fort Tarsis or the launch bay. Now you can pull it up mid-combat by going to the menu screen and changing out components, guns, and gear in a matter of seconds. It’s a feature that should have been in the game back when it launched 60 days ago but at least it’s here now. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to new loot you pick up during a mission. That can still only be accessed at the end.

The patch has brought new content as well, including a new stronghold called Sunken Cell, which I’ll offer more thorough impressions on once I’ve been able to spend more time with it. It also adds some loot in the form of new Masterwork components like the Extended Sniper Magazine for sniper rifles that boosts ammunition and damage. There’s a long list of bug fixes and gear adjustments, not all of which appear to actually updated yet. The patch notes list the Storm’s Chaotic Rime seal as having it’s damage bonus increased from 125 percent to 250 percent, but when I played today that wasn’t reflected in the in-game description.

Loot drop rates remain unchanged.

It’s hard to be overly enthusiastic about the patch given how many questions still remain about the rest of the content that was originally slated to roll out this month. Of the 14 new additions planned for April in BioWare’s 90-day calendar for the game, this update adding the Sunken Cell marks the first. That leaves seven days left for everything else, including big stuff like the new Mastery progression system and guilds, which seems incredibly unlikely that this point.

A developer livestream, the first in over a month, is scheduled for later today where BioWare is expected to provide an update to the existing schedule. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Apex Legends’s Easy-to-Hit Characters Just Got A Little Bit Tougher

Illustration: Apex Legends (Respawn Entertainment)

A new patch hits Apex Legends today, and with it comes more efforts to address the hitboxes of larger characters like Gibraltar.

Although Gibraltar’s kit makes him a classic tank—he has a shield when he aims down sights, and his ultimate is an impenetrable shield—players hardly use him. Because his character is larger in size, he has a larger hitbox, meaning that he’s easier to kill. Larger characters Caustic and Pathfinder have a similar problems.

While previous changes to the size of hitboxes seems to have worked for Pathfinder, today’s update further addresses this issue by giving Gibraltar and Caustic a new perk to their passive ability called Fortified, which reduces damage taken by 10%. Gibraltar’s gun shield damage has been increased as well, and has Caustic’s gas damage and Ultimate throw distance.

“At the start of Season 1, we previously talked about how our beloved Thicc Bois (Pathfinder, Gibraltar and Caustic) were getting crushed due to their hitbox size compared to other Legends. We first wanted to try adjusting hitboxes to better fit the model. For Pathfinder, this change worked very well,” a representative from Apex Legends’ development studio, Respawn Entertainment, wrote on Reddit. “However, after looking at the data and player feedback, Gibraltar and Caustic only improved slightly with the hitbox adjustments.”

“We don’t believe that hit box and character kit tuning is sufficient to bring Gibraltar and Caustic in line with their smaller competitors,” the post continued. “Over the week or two following this change, we will be watching how they perform with this additional protection and aggressively tune it if they are still underpowered relative to their size. Our goal is to ensure both Legends are viable picks by the end of this process.”

The patch also contains weapon changes to make sniper rifles more viable by reducing sway and damage reduction, increasing energy weapon magazine size, and nerfing the Wingman’s magazine size “so that it doesn’t dominate the stock gun vs. stock gun battle early on due to its super high damage per bullet.” The Wingman has dominated Apex’s meta since a few weeks after launch.

The changes are explained in detail in the patch notes, posted on Reddit, and arrived for all players at 1pm Eastern time.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ubisoft Just Made A Lot Of Notable Changes To The Division 2

Players of The Division 2 received a new endgame mission called Tidal Basin that extends the game’s story today, but that’s just part of a raft of changes included in the game’s first big patch. The developers have revamped two of the game’s more controversial systems—Skill mods and Weapon mods—and, hey, as per the patch notes, the “Staff in the Base of Operation will now shout at the player less frequently than before.”

The changes that hit this morning clocked in at over 5GB on my PS4. A full list of patch notes only went live about an hour ago, after a day of players messing around with the updated game. Here in the office, I’ve only been able to play for about half an hour, but here’s what has stood out.

Skill mods now seem more useful. These mods are little gizmos that players can attach to their drones, turrets, or other special gadgets. The problem has been that, since launch, the requirements to use mods were way too high for the perks offered. A mod’s ability would only be available if your character had a high enough Skill score, which was based on equipping backpacks, kneepads, and other gear. The mods never seemed worth it, and so The Division 2’s developers redid the math. At first glance, the mods I have now have lower Skill score requirements and seem more useful.

Weapon mods are simpler. A lot of The Division 2 comes down to collecting and using better and better guns. Those guns can be tweaked with silencers, extended ammo clips, and other mods, all of which used to have pronounced pros and cons. You could add a mod that made your gun fire more accurately but would also make it less stable. You could cut down on your reload time if you were willing to sacrifice the number of bullets a gun’s clip could hold. The give and take frustrated some players, so they’ve been changed. Weapon mods now mostly just offer positives, albeit smaller ones. There are also some that have small negatives, but those are offset by bigger positives.

The lesser-seen Ambusher faction shows up more. (”New Ambusher NPCs now roam the streets of DC,” per the patch notes.) It’s something I saw immediately in my quick check-in with the game. En route to a control point, I ran into a few of these guys, all dressed in black, swinging axes and wielding bows.

Those numbers near your gear score are easier to read. The numbered red, blue, and yellow icons that represent the number of pieces of gear you’re wearing that include buffs to offensive, defensive, and skill power, respectively, are now all assembled in a row below your gear score. They used to appear on the circle around your gear score like moons around a planet. That made them hard to read, which was a problem given that those numbers represent whether any of the special abilities on your armor or weapons are active. The new view is easier to read.

The revamped sniper turret seems worth using. I never used the old version of the game’s sniper turret. I guess a lot of other people didn’t as well, because they’ve changed it. Now it automatically points at whichever enemy you’re aiming at and tries to shoot them. If you’re not aiming at a target, it finds one nearby and waits for a button press for you to fire it. It’s like having a buddy in the game, for those of us not playing with buddies. Useful!

You can see how underground entrances connect to each other, as noted on Reddit. That is new, right? I don’t recall seeing it before.

There’s new clothing…and it’s still kinda ugly. Is it me or are the outfits in The Division 2 largely a bummer? Today’s update coincides with the launch of an “Apparel Event,” which entices players to keep playing to earn randomized boxes of clothing. The clothing items being offered are all based on what the game’s initial three enemy factions wear. Unfortunately, those factions wear ugly clothes. Thus, here’s what my character could look like if I keep playing and trying to get more apparel event chests. Not cool enough, I say.

There’s plenty more that has changed in today’s update, including the apparent fix to the game’s glitched staircase and a fix of the final ivory key riddle.

The headliner additions are World Tier 5, which introduces weekly invaded missions, and the Tidal Basin stronghold, which advances the game’s story. None of us have reached that yet, but when we do, we’ll let you know how it is. And hey, maybe we’ll even be ready to review this game soon. Gotta get that gear score up.

Source: Kotaku.com