Tag Archives: ubisoft

Five Hours With Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is here, or is it hiding in that bush over there? Whatever the case, Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Tom Clancy video game canon is here with plenty of loot to find and bases to assault. Breakpoint brings a lot of improvements over 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Cool character creation, tons of weapon customization, an actual villain. But it’s also rough in other areas, less of a delicious action milkshake and more like a gritty military sludge.

I’ve played around five hours of Breakpoint today, waking up and diving right into the action. On the one hand, it’s a surprisingly chewable and chill action game. On the other, I feel like I’ve been here before. Breakpoint isn’t a game out to shatter the mold; instead, it wants to slide comfortably into it. That’s great if you’re looking for some tactical action but if you’ve played a military shooter before, then you’ve basically played Breakpoint. No amount of user-interface overhauls or big name actors can change that. I’m in for a long haul but here are some initial thoughts.

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Maybe We Won’t Start A Diplomatic Incident This Time?

Okay, the bar is admittedly low here but 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands had some serious problems with its setting and villains. Set in Bolivia, it focused on a Mexican cartel that somehow took over the country and transformed it into a narco-state. It was sleazy and racist, with caricature Mexican gangsters traipsing about a Bolivia that wasn’t much like Bolivia at all. It was so bad that the country of Bolivia filed a complaint to the French embassy (publisher Ubisoft being a French company, of course) and considered legal action.

Breakpoint opts for a fictional setting: the island of Auroa, which has been taken over by former “Ghost” operative Cole Walker (portrayed by Jon Bernthal.) It’s a sort of tech-libertarian paradise where a company working on automation and drone technology was eventually seized by Walker and his cohorts. It’s generic, but I’ll certainly take that over the shitshow that was Wildlands. And hey, it’s nice to have an honest to God villain this time around.

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Ghost Recon Has Been Taking Notes From Destiny and The Division

While not a full-blown loot shooter, Ghost Recon Breakpoint leans further into that direction than its predecessor. There are a variety of weapon rarity levels, and you have an overall gear score based on the quality of your equipment. Taking on Walker has a recommended gear score of 150 or higher, and much of your time is spent not only on story missions but slowly upgrading your character’s power. This is a bit different from Wildlands, which was far more focused on letting you choose the weapons you like and going from there. Don’t expect to get too attached to your gear in Breakpoint. I was upgrading, swapping out, selling, and disassembling tons of weapons and armor right from the beginning of the game.

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Normal Mode Is Pretty Easy

If you’ve played plenty of shooters, don’t expect Breakpoint’s normal difficulty to offer much of a challenge. While there are tougher enemies—Walker leads a platoon of spec ops “Wolves” who love to hunt down the player—it’s nothing you can’t handle with a marksman’s rifle and some well-placed shots. All your weapons can be suppressed, and Breakpoint hands you a precision rifle in the first mission. If you can aim and click your mouse, the early game (and presumably much of what’s to follow) will seem straightforward.

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The Structure Is Different

Wildlands built itself around a core loop where players would do a few odd jobs to gain access to a high profile cartel lieutenant who they’d confront to gain more intel on their leader, El Sueño. It was a little bit like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Very loose, not tons of story. Here are some bad guys, go take them out. Breakpoint splits activities into different paths: a main story path, missions for Auroa’s various factions, side quests, other events like high level raids. This means that you can focus directly on the main story if you want. There’s less screwing about and trying to unlock new missions. It gives Breakpoint a welcome momentum that Wildlands didn’t have.

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I Might Be Able To Fight The Final Boss Right Away?

You can immediately tag a mission to confront Walker right from the start of the game. The main tasks are to interrogate enemy officers for intel on his location and to, if you can, level up your gear to the appropriate level. I’m not entirely clear on how this all works, and it’s possible that officers don’t show up until certain story beats. However, the idea of a playthrough that ignores all the intrigue for a mad dash at the villain is really exciting. Chances are that it doesn’t work that way, but I would love for it to be possible.

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All Games Should Let You “Pin” Objectives 

To help players manage their various tasks, Breakpoint allows them to pin up to three objectives to their interface. For me, this has meant a pin for my main story task, a pin for one side mission, and final pin marking the location of a nearby weapon blueprint. It’s as simple as going into your pause menu, hovering over a mission, and tapping spacebar. Super useful, easy to reference whenever you want, and great for tracking Breakpoints’ numerous distractions.

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You Don’t Need To Wear Ugly Gear

Breakpoint’s focus on swapping out gear means winding up with some mismatched looks. If you find yourself walking around with half a ghillie suit and a crummy flop hat, you can hop into the menu to change your appearance at any time. You’re still mostly limited to tacticool gear, but if you don’t like a particular pair of pants all you need to do is select a new look. If you have better looking gear, simply transform the higher quality stuff into something easier on the eyes.

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There’s An Exploration Mode

Lifting a page from Assassins Creed Origins and Odyssey, Breakpoint has a guided mode and exploration mode. The first places a marker on your map leading directly to your objective, the other asks you to decipher clues and peruse the map to find where to go next. It’s a neat touch for customizing your gameplay experience, even though I think it’s better to play guided in this case. Breakpoint’s map isn’t always easy to traverse; knowing exactly where to go speeds up an otherwise slow process.

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Something’s Up With The Graphics For Me

I’m playing Breakpoint on PC and while everything runs smoothly, there’s some strange stuff going on with the graphics. It’s hard to explain but there’s either some depth of field stuff going on or a filter applied to things out of focus. Whatever the case, it’s given backgrounds a pixelated look that’s honestly distracting me. It’s not affecting my aim and I can soldier on without many problems, but I’m hoping that a few tweaks in the options will get rid of whatever the hell is going on.

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This Could Take A While

Five hours or so isn’t a lot of time with a big AAA video game these days, but I’ve been focusing on the main story quest and was dismayed to see that the statistics screen said I’ve experienced 0% of the overall story so far. Maybe it’s a bug or a factor tied to the fact I’m playing a Ubisoft-provided review code before the game is supposed to be available in my region. Or maybe Breakpoint is that huge. I’d be more excited if the story wasn’t a standard behind-enemy-lines tale. Breakpoint s okay so far, but the prospect of untold hours of scowling soldiers and moody Jon Bernthal one-liners is daunting. All in a day’s work, I guess.

Source: Kotaku.com

Rainbow Six Siege’s Next Operation Will Add A Cool New Grappling Hook And A Reworked Kanal

Ubisoft announced new details about the upcoming third season of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege Year 4 were announced today at the Rainbow Six Major in Raleigh. A new operation is coming called Ember Rise. It will add two new operators, a revamped version of the map Kanal, a battle pass system and a series of quality of life improvements to the game.

The most exciting of the two new operators is Amaru, an attacker from Peru. She comes equipped with standard weapons, but will also be able to use a new grappling hook tool. The Garra hook will let her zip to the tops of buildings and into windows, where she can actually use her speed to kick and kill opponents standing close to the window.

The other new operator is Goyo, a defender from Mexico who was raised by Amaru. Goyo has a Volcan shield which can provide cover, but it also has a special ability. It has an incendiary bomb attached to it that can burst and deal fire damage to any nearby enemies.

Kanal, a classic map that has been around in Rainbow Six Siege for years, is getting a full rework. Ubisoft says this rework is intended to make the map easier to navigate and move through, with new stairs and paths linking parts of the map. Bomb sites have also been moved to new areas.

With this new season and operation, Siege will introduce a Battle Pass system, starting with a smaller pass named “Call Me Henry.” According to a press release from Ubisoft, the “Mini Battle Pass” is “Phase 1 of Rainbow Six Siege’s Battle Pass deployment in Year 4 and will launch during Year 4 Season 3 for free.” That sentence sounds like gibberish the more I read it, but the takeaway is Battle Passes are coming to Siege.

Beyond these bigger changes, Ubisoft promises improved menus, new updates to fight player toxicity and better map rotation for different playlists. These changes will go live on the Rainbow Six Siege test server on August 19, where Ubisoft will watch for bugs and balance issues.

No release date was given for when the update would hit the main version of the game.

Source: Kotaku.com

The End Of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Is Finally Within My Reach

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

The developers of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey have been moving the game’s finish line farther out since October of last year, but I think I’m finally about to catch it. This sums up my gaming experience these days, perpetually racing toward a moving goal.

At launch Odyssey was already a marathon, a game with not one but three main quests as well as dozens of sidequests. I’d heard that it was already a 100-hour game. I wouldn’t know, because before I could finish even one of the game’s main quests, its developers were already adding more adventures.

Then came the flow of free “Lost Tales Of Greece” updates, each of which added a new questline consisting of five or so new missions. There have been 10 so far. I’ve played through one that involved two brothers who were both mourning their dad and also both trying to sleep with my character. I’ve got one going now in which I’m trying to track down the missing wife of my top adviser. Each Lost Tales questline I’ve played has taken me an hour or two, and I think I have seven to go.

In between those Lost Tales, Ubisoft has released the game’s paid episodic expansions, three chapters apiece for two big story arcs. I’ve played all of those, with each chapter taking me about 10 hours to play through. I’ve liked the middle episodes for both arcs the most, for what that’s worth.

All of this had made Odyssey a year-long proposition, a game I’ve played in bursts at night after my kids go to bed and between other games I’m playing for fun or review. I’ve liked most of what I’ve played, but I’ve also felt some weariness of never being able to put the game behind me. I know it’s the reason I’ve not been able to make time to finish the purportedly massive Red Dead Redemption 2 (I’m about 20 hours into that), nor have I found the time to get back into Destiny 2 for the same reason. It’s not just about the time commitment. I could really use the 117.3 GB that Odyssey occupies on my PS4 back. I could probably also just use some distance from the game.

I like it, but it’s made me nostalgic for older Assassin’s Creed games, including ACIII, which was released as part of the Odyssey’s season pass. I’ve had no time to dig back into it, though. Just one AC game at a time, right?

Odyssey has so far refused to end. It keeps getting longer and keeps surprising me. Just the other day I decided to finish a quest in the game’s Lakonia region that involved tracking down someone’s lost sons. Once I managed that, their mother then told me about four women in the region who also need help. That’s four more quests for me to now do!

Despite all this, I’ve never seriously considered just dropping the game. I like it too much, though I did become tired of its combat for a spell. Then its paid expansions started adding new combat moves to make fighting fun again. I have at least decided that I don’t need to clear every enemy base in the game. Not this time.

For years, I’ve written reflectively about Assassin’s Creed games once I’ve finished them. The length of my time with each now seems almost cute. In 2012, I reviewed Assassin’s Creed III after finishing its story in just under 21 hours, then wrote several months later about spending “nine more surprising hours” checking out the game’s nooks and crannies months after release. In 2013, I finished Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in about 28 hours, then went back and played it for 23 more. In 2015, I returned to the prior year’s Assassin’s Creed Rogue to finish that play clock at a total of 35 hours. Last year, after I finished its downloadable expansions, raided every one of its enemy bases and opened every one of its treasure chests, I tallied my Assassin’s Creed Origins play time at what I thought was an incredible 100 hours.

My play clock for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is at 149 hours, 9 minutes, and 45 seconds. My quest log shows I have 28 active, unfinished quests. My map shows there are 10 more I haven’t even started, many of which may well trigger new quests to pop up on the map. Plus there are still one or two more Lost Tales Of Greece coming.

I will reach the end. I’ve had a fun journey. But when I do reach that ending, I’ll be ready for a break. With a double-length Assassin’s Creed nearly done, I’m fine with 2019 being a new Assassin’s Creed skip year. And when the series comes back, presumably in 2020, if they want to make the next game a tad shorter, I won’t complain.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Division 2’s Big New Update Is As Promising As It Confusing

Ubisoft’s sprawling loot shooter The Division 2 just received its biggest free update since its March launch…except most of it isn’t really free until next week, except for two parts that won’t even be free then, but some of the free stuff won’t be out until the week after next, and one promised part is on ice and…Shall we start this over?

On Tuesday, The Division 2’s Title Update 5, which happens to also be considered the game’s first episodic expansion, was added to the game.

There’s a chart for what’s in it:

The update includes two new missions that extend the game’s story, one of which I played last night and liked a lot. That mission, called Manning National Zoo, involves hunting down the leader of the enemy Outcast faction while fighting enemies throughout dilapidated wildlife exhibits. If it seemed like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed artists were showing off with their downloadable content last week, well, check out what their Division 2 artists can do with a mission set in a zoo:

The mission took me about 90 minutes to solo, with a few tricky skirmishes and some time spent just soaking in the sights. It’s a very fun mission with a lot of eye candy as you fight your way through habitats set up for lions, crocodiles, birds and more. There isn’t that much wildlife around, but there are a few neat creature cameos.

Like much of Episode One, the zoo mission is available in The Division 2 now for people who bought the $40 year-one pass. It’ll be available for free for all players on July 30. The idea is that The Division 2’s downloadable content will be available for free, unlike that of its predecessor. The paid approach to DLC backfired in the first Division when Ubisoft tried to charge for new Underground and Survival modes while the base game was essentially on fire with problems and player complaints. By the end of The Division’s second year, Ubisoft was releasing a huge map-expanding expansion for free, a sign of things to come.

Aside from the story missions, the other major new content in the update is the Expedition, a new set of missions being offered in three parts. The first, accessible this week, is fine so far but not great. It’s set in Kenly College’s library and kicks off an overall investigation into the fate of a convoy that went missing nearby. It’s best to think of each part as a medium-sized mission with some goals to complete.

The game’s developers have pitched the Expeditions as more puzzle-based content that will ask players to think through what they’re doing. This first installment in the library isn’t that much of a puzzle. It starts with the discovery of an “echo” hologram that depicts members of the Outcast carting around some improvised explosive devices. The player can activate parts of the hologram to trigger what’s described as investigation. The investigations amount to going to different parts of the library, getting into shootouts with Outcasts, solving some basic puzzles such as activating four power nodes in the correct order, and picking up some audio logs along the way. The gunfights are slightly more intricate than most of the standard story missions, asking players to, say, stay in a specific area while a hack occurs, but they’re not complex. The audio logs are scant but good, as they’re more in the style of the ones from the first Division, telling stories of people in the college from before the societal collapse rather than after.

Missing from the Expedition is something called a Mastery System, which the developers said would incentivize replaying the investigations. Last week, the developers said it was not coming together well enough to release yet. A second Expedition area opens next week for all players (as well as the first one for those who don’t have the year-one pass), with a third to follow presumably a week later. It’s not clear if this three-parter is the only Expedition or if there will be more.

The new update also includes an easier difficulty for the game’s raid. It supports matchmaking and is intended to enable more players to experience its sequence of events, but the new “discovery” difficulty level also limits loot payouts: This version of the raid won’t drop the elite gear that’s obtainable by completing the default version.

Ubisoft’s developers have shown that the update includes a new flashlight pistol mod, answering player complaints that some areas of the game were too dark. It also appears to add a batch of audio logs that provide more information about major characters. It’s accompanied by a timed “apparel event” that rewards players who complete various in-game activities with silly, gaudy summer vacation wear.

Perhaps more important than any of this, though, is that the update is overhauling the game’s gadget-based skill system. While the game’s new content isn’t available to all players yet, these balance changes are. They ratchet up the power of players’ skills, be they shields, drones, turrets, seeker mines, or whatever, while also greatly reducing the cooldown on them. This follows months of frustration from players who said that skills were too weak to build a character around.

I’ve played most of the game solo and from day one have relied on skills such as the assault drone to help me through tough encounters. From the start, I had to manage my approach to in-game combat around long waits while my drone would cool down. I’d activate it, get it to attack some enemies while I focused on others, then wait more than a minute while it stopped working before I could use it again. After the patch, my drone is a near-constant companion. Its cooldown dropped to about 38 seconds, and with some gadget upgrades, I’ve shortened that further. It’s also clearly more powerful and has been effectively perforating enemies. This feels different and, so far, much more satisfying.

The game’s changes to skills were trialed on a PC-only public test server earlier this month. Strangely, all of the aforementioned content was as well, meaning that year-one pass owners are actually not the first members of The Division 2 player base to go through Episode One’s new missions. That’s provoked some discussion about what value the year-one pass has. Currently, the pass gives owners a chance to play stuff early while earning loot they can retain in the game.

The year-one pass also gives owners access to a slew of small but enjoyable missions called Classified Assignments, which actually weren’t on the PTS. The two that came out in May were polished and fun, with little audio log narratives threaded throughout. Two more are part of this update for year-one pass owners, with no announcement about when they’ll be available to others. I’ve played one of the two new ones set in an aquarium. It involves rescuing some civilians while fighting Outcast enemies and learning how the people and fish coped during the societal disaster afflicting The Division’s world. I liked it.

There’s no single thing for players to sink their teeth into with this Title Update 5 / Episode One addition to The Division 2, and there’s nothing about it, cool Classified Assignments aside, that makes it easy to recommend the game’s year-one pass. There are, however, myriad interesting things being added to the game via this update, and at least a short burst of fresh adventures to experience. Of course, it’ll take weeks to see how all that’s been added and tweaked shakes out. As a sign of the heft of the game’s free updates, it’s encouraging. As a marker of the developers’ progress with improving the game, it shows the team moving in a good direction.

 

Source: Kotaku.com

The New Mode In Ghost Recon Wildlands Is A Small-Scale Spin On The Battle Royale Formula

Ghost Recon Wildlands is getting a sequel later this year, so most fans and Ubisoft will move on to that next game. But before that happens, Ubisoft has released one last major update for the game which added a brand new competitive mode called Mercenaries. It blends different elements of Wildlands into a small, focused battle royale-like mode that mostly works.

I haven’t played Wildlands in over a year, so coming back to the game to check out this newest and last update was strange. But once I got comfortable with the controls again, I jumped into Mercenaries and ran right into the mode’s biggest problems: Loading screens and errors. It took me three-game restarts to find a match due to server issues. Once I did find a match, the loading times felt long.

After getting through all that, I was plopped into a match of Mercenaries. The mode pits 8 players against each other in a cordoned-off area of the main map. In this mode, players start with no weapons or gear. So, like in every other battle royale, you have to scrounge around looking for weapons, ammo, grenades, and armor. Unlike other battle royale modes, however, in Mercenaries players can respawn and keep their weapon. On the one hand, this makes death feel less annoying, but it also makes kills feel less satisfying. But due to the lower player count and map size, respawning feels like a necessity. And even with players coming back after death and continuing to explore the map, I still had matches where I felt like I was playing alone.

The main goal of Mercenaries to exit via helicopter. To do this players need to search the map and find three transmitters. These aren’t marked, however, so instead players find intel on the map. These are more plentiful and show up on the map as you get close. Once you have some intel you can use it to find a transmitter. Activate three of these and the helicopter will come to pick you up after a few minutes. But every player is alerted to this and can also activate transmitters and find the location of the pickup before the chopper arrives. So the pace of matches can vary greatly.

One match, I never encountered any players and nobody got the helicopter activated for quite some time. It was a laid back match. The next match, someone got the helicopter activated in like three minutes and suddenly everyone was rushing around the map, running into each other at transmitters and intel locations.

Compared to other battle royale modes, Mercenaries feels less punishing but it can also feel less social. You don’t really interact with other players that much, especially if your match is filled with people who aren’t using vehicles or hitting intel locations regularly. There are AI enemies on that map, but they are easy to avoid and don’t add much to the experience.

Something that is annoying in this new mode is how tanky players can feel. At one point a player got the drop on me, I took a ton of damage, but was able to run up to them and bash them twice with my knife and win the fight. After killing my attacker, I didn’t feel like that was fair. On the flip side, I would sometimes shoot enemies with dozens of rounds and they could get away. Considering players can respawn after death, making players so tough feels like a mistake.

Mercenaries might not bring a lot of players back to the aging Wildlands, but as a send-off to the game before the next entry in the franchise, it feels nice. Sure the map is a bit too large and the time-to-kill might be too high, but the mode mostly works well. For players who have sunk months into Wildlands and want something new to play while they wait for the sequel, Mercenaries might be the perfect time killer.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ubisoft Will Ban Players Who Crashed Rainbow Six Siege Matches By Spamming Chat Symbols

Ubisoft just fixed an exploit that was allowing Rainbow Six Siege players to force their opponents to lag by filling up the game’s chat window with random symbols. Players who abused it to get an advantage in the competitive shooter will be temporarily banned.

Exploits in Rainbow Six Siege are like Whac-A-Mole. When one gets fixed—like the Clash glitch that allowed the character to shoot through her shield—another pops up—like the shield making her invulnerable even to melee attacks. The latest issues players have been contending with revolves around the game’s chat window. When one team wanted to crash the game or cause their opponent’s lag to spike, they would fill the window with a string of as many symbols as it could take, usually dollar signs, greater than symbols, or ampersands.

By forcing the game to lag, the offending players were sometimes able to disrupt the matches at key times or force their opponents to disconnect entirely, something that was especially frustrating for those competing in the game’s ranked mode.

“We have now deployed the fix for the chat symbol exploit,” Ubisoft announced in a Reddit post last night. In addition, the company said that players who used it were guilty of breaking the part of the game’s Code of Conduct that forbids people from interrupting “the general flow of Gameplay in the Game Client.”

“These bans are targeting players that abused the chat symbol exploit to crash matches,” a studio rep noted. “They will have varying lengths, depending on the frequency and severity of the exploit’s usage. This is our next step towards sanctioning players that knowingly and deliberately take advantage of exploits to the detriment of the overall match.”

This immediately led some players to fear that they might be banned simply for triggering the exploit accidentally or trying to recreate it to confirm that it existed and was an issue. “We accounted for that,” senior community developer Craig Robinson said on Twitter. “If you did it less than 10 times you’re safe.”

Other players have already called on Ubisoft to crack down harder on people believed to be cheating. “On a side note, this should expand to people who use glitches (such as Clash shield) in Ranked,” wrote user LiberDBell on Reddit. Traditionally, the only players at risk of being banned in multiplayer games are those engaged in harassment or cheating enabled by third-party software. With this latest wave of bans, Ubisoft has made it clear it intends to also sanction players who try to cheat by exploiting problems in the game itself.

About the author

Ethan Gach

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

Source: Kotaku.com

The Division 2 Is Testing Some Much-Requested Features

This image of The Division 2 would be even darker if not for the addition of—gasp—a flashlight! Coming soon to the game, it seems.

There’s going to be a lot less to complain about regarding The Division 2 if a batch of features going live in a test build this week make it into the proper game later this month. Ubisoft’s impressive but contentious shooter appears to be getting flashlights (much requested!), badly needed buffs for gadget skills, and even matchmaking for its raid, though there’s a big catch to that last one.

The changes are all part of the Public Test Server build for the game’s Title Update 5, scheduled for a July release. Anyone who own Ubisoft’s cover-based shooter on PC could start accessing the new PTS yesterday, though a bug appears to have delayed some key content until today.

Different aspects of Title Update 5 are being tested in phases. Today, PTS players can test two new story missions that will be part of the update.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Ubisoft is letting them try the game’s notoriously difficult eight player raid on a new “discovery” difficulty setting that will allow for matchmaking. This is one of the bigger deals in the update.

When The Division 2’s raid launched in May, many players complained that the new multiplayer mission wouldn’t allow for matchmaking, despite a promise in marketing materials that “every activity” in the game would have it. Instead, players had to manually sync up with seven others, which Ubisoft developers said they felt was important to assembling groups that would work through the raid as an effective team. (Similar games, like Destiny 2, have taken the same approach.) The developers later said they would work on a compromise offering. It’s unclear if this is the entirety of it. Matchmaking support for an easier version of the raid will allow more players to see its content, but said “discovery” version of the raid won’t pay out the game’s top loot rewards.

The PTS’ patch notes also describe a slew of buffs being made to the game’s turrets, drones and other equippable gadget-based skills. These were badly needed, as players striving for the most powerful character builds have all been running the same gun-centric loadouts. Some of these changes were demonstrated in the weekly State of the Game developer stream last week, with more detailed in new PTS patch notes yesterday. While the nature of the PTS means the buffs being tested may change before release in the main game, they should lead to dramatic increases in damage for gadget skills—five-fold in some cases.

Somewhere in the PTS, players will be able to find flashlight attachments for pistols. Believe it or not, this is something players have clamored for. Parts of the game can get pretty dark.

As many problems as this Public Test Server might solve, it’s also introducing a new one. Later this week, from Friday through Sunday, the test build will feature the game’s new puzzle- and exploration-based Expeditions mode, giving testing players a big head start on what the game’s live content manager, Yannick Banchereau, recently told us will be a mysterious, puzzle-based experience. Letting PC test players have a crack at them all this week certainly seems like it’ll spoil some of that challenge. After all, the inclusion of coded messages in The Division 2’s pre-release beta led to those messages being cracked weeks before the game was fully released. In response to a player complaining about Expeditions being offered to PC PTS players, The Division 2’s creative director, Julian Gerighty replied: “Too late for this one – will consider for the next.”

Title Update 5, which includes the new story missions, the Expeditions and presumably the features or some variation of them being tested on the PTS, is expected to go live later in the month. It’ll all be free, though players who have paid for the game’s year-one pass will get a week’s head start, presumably shortly after the PTS ends.

Source: Kotaku.com

We Checked Out Ubisoft’s E3 Booth

E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

Tim Rogers checked out the Ubisoft booth at E3, and shenanigans ensued. Watch the video for a look at Watch Dogs: Legion, a very intense staring contest, and the one question that has surely been on everyone’s minds: What, exactly, is a Ghost Recon Breakpoint?

Source: Kotaku.com

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Story Creator Is Simple But Fun

This image was taken from one of my many test runs through my quest.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey released a story creator this week, allowing players to cobble together their own questlines and share them with others. The website for constructing handmade stories is easy to use and fun to tinker with, even in the final results of that tinkering can be a little awkward.

To create your own stories, log into a new website, where you’re able to choose a cast of characters, string together dialog and objectives, and even create larger quest chains, which you can then share and play on any platform. I was able to create a rudimentary quest in about 30-40 minutes. The Story Creator is easy to understand, but it didn’t feel quite as robust as I’d like.

The Story Creator tool works somewhat like Twine, which I’ve used to make narrative games before. It’s extremely basic so long as you have a decent understanding of “If, then…” statements. You pick a node, say, a box for dialog. The dialog appears as text; there’s no voice acting, as you can imagine how expensive that would be. You fill the box with what your characters say and what their body language is based upon moods like “curious, awestruck, or bored.” Then, you can connect those to decision points or objective triggers. These boil down to basic interactions: kill this target, talk to this person, go to this location, rescue this prisoner. In the case of dialog choices, you can list choices and set up triggers that create various outcomes. Kill this person, have the quester giver say X thing. Turn down the job, have the objective marker lead to an alternate path. The most basic quests such as mine are only a handful of nodes, but multiple quests can be chained together into a larger narrative.

Setting up the story nodes and a few flags didn’t take very long. I snuck all of this in before this morning’s Nintendo Direct, assembling the most basic quest structure. I called my quest “Eagle Bearer of the Curse,” and it involves a dangerous witch who brands the player character with a life-sucking curse. She demands they go kill a bandit king whose souls has eluded her. Meanwhile, the bandit claims killing the witch is actually how to break the spell. It’s stupid stuff, mostly an excuse to have a simple branch between two objective. Believe the bandit? Go and kill the witch. Think he’s lying? Kill him. Either option ends the quest.

Testing my story took more time than constructing it, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey makes it easy to jump to the start of your quest and begin playing through. It’s here that the cracks begin to show, although some of that is undoubtedly due to my hasty assembly. On my first time around, I found that placing the bandit king in a camp of actual bandits was a bad idea: wandering close to the camp, he somehow was slain and the quest ended immediately. The Story Creator doesn’t make it easy to toggle invulnerability for essential NPCs on the fly, so I had to risk making them vulnerable from the start. This meant a stray wolf or overeager soldier could kill my characters. Moving the bandit king to a remote location was as easy as selecting a new location on the map, but because he was a member of the bandit faction, he attacked the player on sight. Not great for someone you’re supposed to listen to. These are the sorts of little things that the Story Creator doesn’t make completely clear, and I spent time playing my simple quest over and over to iron out wrinkles.

There’s also a few other issues that I haven’t figured out. For now, there appears to be a only a handful of character templates to choose from. That means taking characters from the main game and recasting them in made up roles. Making NPCs that you can talk to and, in the case of my quest, who are then supposed to engage you in combat is tricky. From what I can tell I don’t have control over variables like how much health they have or what weapons they might use. Maybe that’s buried in menus that I’ve not yet explored, but there’s definitely a sense that this is a limited tool better suited to narrative quests than combat challenges. I’m sure other players will crack the code and make intricate stories as time goes on.

Over time, the Story Creator could lead to some really magical quest lines, but players should manage their expectations when using it. This is a chance to expand the world of Assassin’s Creed, but there’s no way to match the main game’s expansive stories. Spare some imagination and you might have some neat stories, even if there are some awkward puppet people and glitches along the way.

I’ll publish my quest later today after a bit more testing. Be on the lookout for a witch in the Argolis area if you want to enjoy a very basic example of what the Story Creator can offer.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint’s Survival Elements Keep The Game Tense

Screenshot: Ubisoft
E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

I was playing Ghost Recon: Breakpoint as the assault class, Fixit. I had been doing my best to act as a tank for my teammates by getting out front and shooting people with my assault rifle. But my injuries started to add up: First I got nicked in the arm, then the leg. I didn’t have a chance to apply bandages, so I just kept fighting. Then I got shot in the gut. My character’s movement slowed dramatically. I needed to get behind cover to deal with my wounds, fast.

Ghost Recon: Breakout is the latest entry in the Ghost Recon franchise, and it comes with some new bells and whistles. One of those is a system of injuries that can sometimes impede your gameplay by making your character slower or making your aim shakier.

“It’s not always about being super strong,” Matthew Tomkinson, UX designer at Ubisoft, told me. “In terms of gameplay it brings a change of rhythm, and when you develop games that’s always what you are looking for—either by having new game design rules or systems, or having enemies that bring more variety.”

There is certainly variety in the enemy types as well. As I played, video producer Paul Tamayo and I were beset by enormous and powerful drones that we needed to team up to destroy, sometimes while we were being flanked by less powerful, human enemies. Getting an injury in these moments added an additional tension. Should I deal with it in the field, or wait until a quiet moment to patch myself up? During the demo I played, I almost always opted for the latter. As my character staggered around, clutching their gut, I realized that wasn’t always the best choice.

“You can have lesser injuries that you can use bandages for, to remove those wounds,” Tomkinson said. “You can also heal in the bivouac, where you would have a very graphic experience where you remove the bullet.”

The bivouac is a kind of camping system, which is new in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. You can set up a temporary shelter called a bivouac, where you can deal with injuries, select a gameplay buff, craft items, or change your character class. The option of waiting until you camp to heal your wounds was tempting while I played—though by the time I was pulled from the demo for my interview, I was furiously wrapping bandages around myself in order to keep up with my team.

Screenshot: Ubisoft

Ghost Recon: Breakpoint has other elements inspired by survival games, like eating and drinking. Unlike in those kinds of games, you’re not penalized for not eating or drinking. Instead, if you see a river and take a drink from it during the game, you get a buff. It’s the same in the bivouac. If you’re not injured, you can use your time at camp to do things like inspect your weapon, which gives you a small buff to weapon accuracy.

“It’s more of a positive design that makes you stronger than you were before,” Tomkinson said, “rather than negative design in telling you, ‘now you have to drink or else you’ll die or you’ll be less powerful.’”

In my time with Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the tension between the brief moments of respite when I could heal myself and the relative chaos of gunfights brought a lot of drama to our mission. While I was punished for my mistakes with debilitating injuries, overcoming those setbacks made winning a gunfight more exciting.

“It’s the same in my life when I get sick,” Tomkinson said. “What I really love is the moment where I feel good again, and that’s what we want to have in this game.”

Source: Kotaku.com