- A new upgrade to Auction House service responsiveness was implemented for all realms.
- Players who have completed the Trials of the Naaru without receiving the Tempest Key can now obtain one by speaking with A'dal in Shattrath City.
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Speaking of the week of July 20, there’s something else going on that week that we’re going to celebrate. The 2020 Summer Olympics is set to kick off that week, and we see that as the perfect opportunity to reintroduce the Spirit of Competition. This event only occurred once before in the history of WoW, to coincide with the 2008 Summer Olympics during the original Burning Crusade. We’re really looking forward to getting into the spirit again.
We’ll update the World of Warcraft blog with more details on both of these events in July.
Burning Crusade Classic Hotfixes - June 21, 2021
SLIGHT SPOILER: A world of trouble is teased within Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's final moments. Director Colin Trevorrow shows us what happens next in the little-known short film Battle at Big Rock, which gives the thunder lizards new territory to explore. We’ll have to wait until next June to see how this story concludes in Jurassic World: Dominion, but can soon play through another of this story’s chapters within the video game, Jurassic World Evolution 2.
Frontier Developments says that this sequel will have more of an authentic story that shows us what is happening within the United States. This isn’t just a theme park building experience. You’ll be pushed to contain dinosaur threats in different ways as this narrative unfolds.
In a 30-minute, hands-off demonstration of the game in action, Frontier shows me one of the environments set within the northern hemisphere. Snow-capped mountains stand tall over a sprawling lake flanked by a thick forest of pines. Sunlight dances across the water, leading the eye to another glimmer flickering off of a massive glass dome, which I quickly realize is a new aviary. It's positioned next to the ominous peak of Jurassic World’s innovation center, which sits next to a crowded street filled with gift shops, attractions, and swarms of people. Behind this commotion, I see movement within the tall pines. The necks of Brachiosaurus bound slowly within them, looking oddly small given just how tall the pines are.
The game’s director Richard Newbold tells me we are looking at a Sandbox map, which stretches across the entire screen. “All of the maps the player has access to are a lot bigger than the first game,” he adds. “There's a lot more space available to build and place as many dinosaurs as possible. With changes to the territory system, they’re going to need a lot more space in some instances, especially since there’s a direct conflict between some species. It’s not as easy to put as many dinosaurs in the same space. There’s a lot more balance that needs to be done.” Along with the forest theme, the player will make parks in desert settings (which you can see in some of the images).
The dinosaurs that you’ll add to your park and enclosures are more realistic than they were in the first game. Newbold tells me there are over 75 different species to unearth – most are ground dinosaurs, but players can also add marine and flying reptiles as well. In my brief look at this sequel, I wasn’t able to see if the Tyrannosaurs Rex moves in new ways, or if it hunts more realistically, but I did see how it studies its habitat. Newbold hatches two Tyrannosaurs from the Hammond Creation Lab, and to much surprise, they emerge together, looking even more menacing than ever when standing next to each other. Their entry animation is a sight to behold. The Tyrannosaurs' bodies are brown, but the crowns on their heads appear to be slightly red.
The player will have more skins and colors to choose from when creating their dinos. I'm told each dino has roughly a dozen body colors along with seven different patterns. Holding true to the expeditions from the first game, dino DNA is once again obtained from fossils. When eggs are synthesized, you can tweak the DNA to enhance social behaviors, make them more resilient to disease, less aggressive to rangers, and more. Rather than incubating one egg at a time, you can now generate a clutch of eggs. "As part of this editing phase, you are increasing or decreasing the chance of any of those traits manifesting," adds Newbold. "Once you make that decision, you choose which ones you want to bring to maturity and release them all in one go as a group."
When a dinosaur hatches from the Lab, it won't immediately settle into a state of comfort or agitation, and will instead explore the habitat to see if there's an area that fits its needs. If that space is found, the dinosaur will claim that territory.
The dinosaurs residing in distinct territories means that the player can set up a variety of areas within the same enclosed space, and hopefully keep them comfortable. When a dinosaur is highlighted in an enclosure, the player will see its territory, which displays as a white outline on the ground.
"This system is dynamic," says Newbold. "It's building up as the dinosaurs walk around this enclosure. As the Triceratops moves, it will move its territory in a new direction as the old territory it created long ago starts to decay. It's walking toward things it needs – water, forest, and ground fiber. It's not just about that, but also the territory of other dinosaurs in the area. Sometimes the species are complementary and they live together harmoniously; but other times the species will have conflicts. If there's an overlap in their territories, there may be behaviors between those two dinosaurs. They'll try to build their territory to their size. It's a dynamic system that puts a realistic connection between dinosaurs." This also means a species will rest together, socialize in more ways, and act more like herd in their defined space.
Frontier has made it easier for the player to implement change to these enclosures and has minimized the back and forth between menus and gameplay. Executive producer Adam Woods walks me through this new system. "I can quickly edit the environment with the landscaping tools, and you can see the dinosaur [information] is left up so I can quickly reference it," he says. "You can see I need forest, so I can use the paint brush tool to add trees. The forest needs are met as I do this."
Herbivores now feed on the foliage and no longer require feeders, so you'll need to make sure you add the right plants when editing the terrain. For the Triceratops, the solution is the fibrous ground plant. The number of items that players can add to the enclosure is greatly expanded. I saw roughly a dozen different rocks, and there may have been more.
The enhanced enclosure design extends to the aviary, which can hold numerous flying critters, including the Pteranodon, which I got to see emerge from a Lab. Three of them fly out together, each animated in different ways to give off the impression of a flock. Their habitat is barren at first, but Woods dives into the editing tools to quickly add trees, water, and rocks to it. The size of the aviary is also determined by the player. More glass domes can be added freely – much like the fencing – to make the enclosure grow dynamically. If the Pteranodons grow agitated, they can smash through the glass and fly around the park, potentially going after guests. The player will then need to track them down and tranquilize them to get them back where they belong. I asked if the ground dinosaurs could interact with the flying reptiles, and neither Woods or Newbold wanted to talk about it just yet, saying that answer will come closer to the late 2021 launch of the game.
I didn't see any dinosaurs fight in my demo, but I'm told the smaller variety will team up to take on larger beasts. Yes, that means raptors hunt in a pack! "Predators, when taking after their prey, will chase after them dynamically," adds Newbold. "There's no stopping and starting. There's improvements to the fighting system as well."
If a dinosaur is injured, it may need to visit the Paleo-Medical Facility, the one new structure I see among the familiar Ranger Station, Research Center, Park Tour, and more buildings from the first game. This medical facility is white, and has a large fenced-in area behind it where dinosaurs can be treated. You'll need to fly them in via helicopter. If a dinosaur cannot be treated in the field, you'll need to bring it here. The example I'm told is if one is seriously injured in battle. The Paleo-Medical Facility also comes with a unique vehicle called the Mobile Vet Unit, which you can freely control (just like all of the other vehicles in the game).
Monitoring dinosaurs' health will be much easier through the implementation of the new ranger post, which looks to be a small shack that you can place anywhere in an enclosure. The rangers use this station to perform welfare checks. The dino vitals are not as clearly defined in this sequel. Woods says there's a bit of a "fog of war" to that information, and the player will need to keep tabs on it. The best way to do that is through the ranger post.
Significant enhancements are also being applied to guests, their behaviors, and the structures you can build for them. Each guest's mood is divided into four categories: adventure, standard, nature, and luxury. They will gravitate to areas that they seek the most. For instance, an adventure junky will want to see carnivores.
The player can tailor attractions and amenities to these specific groups. These two structures are fully customizable, right down to what they offer and how they look. With the click of a button, the base attraction can transform into an aquarium, bowling alley, cinema, arcade, spa, and you name it. The design of that building is also fully customizable. The facade, roof decoration, entrance, entrance location, signage, and immediate surrounding ground can be changed with a number of preset options. For the ground, you can have trees, dinosaur skeletons, flags, and more. The color of all of the items can also be altered. If you want your shop to be hot pink, so be it. If you want each piece to be a different color, you can do that, too. The range of color is extensive, allowing for specific shades to be picked from a wheel.
During my demo, Woods and Newbold were positioned in the lower left, covering up most of the display where the park rating was in the first game. I didn't get to see what was there, but when Woods moved his arm, I saw a series of arrows. I asked if the player could speed up time, and Newbold responded: "There are some time controls. We allow the player to pause time and also speed up time." If a problem arises in the park, those time controls may be disabled until that issue is taken care of.
One of the new threats to the northern region is a snowstorm, which covers the ground in snow and can create problems all across the the park, such as losing power.
Woods and Newbold walked me through a number of the game's new features, but wouldn't talk about others that were teased in the trailer. We know marine dinos are in this sequel, but I didn't get to see them. The Mosasaurus lagoon will have to be huge, but what else can we add to it, and how customizable will it be? What other water dinosaurs are in the game? Can they leap up and eat land dinosaurs? We really need to know the answer to that last question...
Details about game modes are also light at this time. I did however learn that the contract missions from the first game aren't in the story campaign, but will be present in Challenge mode.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. Frontier says they have nothing to say at this time about a Switch version. Details are also scarce for the new generation versions, but I'm told they will be enhanced.
I walked away from my demo impressed by the changes that Frontier is implementing. It looks to be a much deeper experience than before that gives the player a variety of new toys to use with less hassle. I can't wait to see that darn Mosasaurus, and how the story will be handled. Here's hoping they give us looks at these aspects of the game soon!
The Dinosaurs I Saw:
People selling emblem codes online is nothing new but with Bungie Day right around the corner, there is a small warning from the studio to try to save Destiny 2 players a couple of bucks. The long and short of it? Don't buy the Spicy Ramen Coupon emblem. It's not a scam in relation to phishing info, it's just a crappy thing to do with a gift that's meant to be free for the community.
The senior community manager for Bungie took to Twitter to do two things: warn players against paying money for something that is going to be free, and to ask dataminers to please — for the millionth time — stop spoiling surprise content.
Don't buy the Spicy Ramen Coupon emblem.— dmg04 (@A_dmg04) June 20, 2021
It's meant to be a free gift on Bungie Day, from us to you.
Dataminers - please stop spoiling content, whether it be story or emblem codes. I know it can be exciting to be the first person with cool info, but please respect the fun.
With Bungie Day just around the corner next month, the freebie being spoiled and then sold does kind of suck. I'm assuming he is also referencing the many leaks that occur within the community, including a massively egregious one that pertains to the current ongoing storyline that we opted out of covering out of respect for the creative team.
For those that are currently enjoying Destiny 2: Season of the Splicer, the story has been getting immersively intense. The journey thus far has given us a unique perspective into the world of the Fallen and even has us confronting the parts of our own Guardian history to challenge what we thought we knew. For those that may be looking for a small refresher, we broke down a particularly meaningful turning point in the current questline, which you can read here, concerning our own Saint-14 and what it means when your perception turns out to be anything but what you thought was the truth.
With Bungie celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and with more lore explorations on the horizon concerning a certain song, it will be interesting to see what the studio has in store for the road ahead. Now that Bungie itself has confirmed that at least one of those celebrations will be continuing on the Spicy Ramen tradition, we're looking forward to seeing what else this year's festivities will have to offer.
So many games are getting movie and television adaptations, and one more just got added to that growing list. Final Fantasy 9 is the latest gaming adventure to get its own animated series. The company in charge of production promises that it will be a kid-friendly adventure that fans will love.
The Final Fantasy 9 animated series is being developed by French Cyber Group Studios alongside Square Enix. The goal for the studio is to begin production at the end of 2021, the beginning of 2022 at the latest. “The games have a strong co-viewing potential. For those who do know Final Fantasy IX, this will be an [introduction],” said Pierre Sissmann, the CEO of Cyber Group Studios, to Kidscreen. “And for the many who don’t, this will immerse them in a universe they’ll love.”
For those that may have missed out on Final Fantasy 9's more innocent storyline, this tale is a bit more generic in terms of what a JRPG has to offer. But generic doesn't necessarily mean bad; it's a charming tale that tells the story it wants to tell. With the ninth entry, Princess Garnet has been kidnapped by Zidane and the Tantalus Theater Troupe. The heir of Alexandria wasn't exactly the helpless victim, however, seeing as that she actually wanted to escape from the pressures of royalty to experience the outside world. Shenanigans are afoot, and both her and her personal guard wind up joining in with the Zidane group to embark on an epic quest filled with adorable chibi-like characters, wholesome dialogue, and - of course - the threat of darkness overtaking the world and everything we know within it.
You know, the usual.
Honestly, this entry into the Final Fantasy was adorable, and it was genuine in its journey. An unapologetic JRPG that could translate quite nicely into an animated TV series, especially with a clear goal in mind for what the target audience will be. If you want something a little more grown-up, we did get other TV adaptation news earlier today with a brand new Netflix's The Witcher season 2 teaser trailer, which you can see here.
Thoughts on Final Fantasy 9 getting the animated TV series treatment? What other games would you like to see get a shot at the big screen? Sound off with your hottest of hot takes in the comment section below!
After a delay on the decision, Activision Shareholders have reached a consensus regarding the company's Say-on-Pay proposal. The Board of Directors has also seen mass re-elections across the company with an average of 96% of votes.
The decision regarding Say-on-Pay was delayed initially after a complaint was lodged about "misleading information" surrounding the proposal. According to the company, that information was allegedly a swaying factor in whether or not shareholders would pass the compensation plan. This conversation is ongoing, especially in relation to Bobby Kotick's salary, the current Chief Executive Officer, and how those profits are filtered going forward.
What is Say-on-Pay?
Say-on-pay is a corporate term that essentially says a firm's shareholders can vote on the financial compensation for its executives. The topic of compensation at Activision Blizzard has been a hot topic, especially as the CEO's pay continues to be the highest in the business even while the company experiences massive layoffs. Kotick had one of his biggest payouts in the industry the same year over 800 employees were laid off, and more layoffs followed suit over the course of the year. This caused some shareholders and investment groups to push back against the monetization practices and structure of Activision Blizzard, though the approval means that compensation plans go forward as planned based on shareholder feedback. While Activision Blizzard's Say-on-Pay isn't perfect, it is in a better state than it has been in previous years.
In a statement to Game Informer, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson had this to say: "We are pleased that, based on exceptional shareholder returns and responsiveness, Activision Blizzard shareholders again approved our say-on-pay proposal and reelected our Board directors with an average of 96% of votes. The additional time shareholders requested allowed them to thoroughly review the facts about Activision Blizzard’s rigorous pay-for-performance compensation practices as well as changes the Board made to our executive compensation based on extensive feedback from shareholders."
With Say-on-Pay, Activision delayed an investor vote on the proposal when certain groups (which remain under wraps) urged to vote against the notion, citing it as an attempt to prevent loss of votes. With several notable investor groups coming out against the notion, CtW Investment considers the issue "not settled" despite the vote to pass. In a statement made to GI.biz, CtW director of executive compensation Michael Varner expressed that the matter of pay scale at Activision Blizzard is not over.
"With only 54% of votes cast in favor, the proposal nearly failed to receive majority support – it appears Activision did just enough arm-twisting for the measure to pass," Varner told the site. "Most importantly, keep in mind that Say on Pay votes in the 50% range are extremely rare: less than 4% of companies in the broader Russell 3000 index receive support that low and the average support for the Say on Pay proposal in the S&P 500 is 88.6%."
He added, "Activision will be expected to make even further changes in response to a vote where 46% of shareholders expressed discontent, they will not be able to 'rest on their laurels' solely with the changes they made thus far to Mr. Kotick's pay. Also, this marks the sixth time in the past eight years Activision has received less than 70% support for its Say on Pay proposal, and the 2021 vote is the lowest support the company has received on this proposal in its history."
During Summer Games Fest, Ska Studios pulled the curtain back on Salt and Sacrifice, the sequel to the cult favorite, Salt and Sanctuary. The premier trailer provided glimpses of the dark and likely challenging follow-up, but a new gameplay video offers an unnarrated, uninterrupted walkthrough of the game in action.
The footage premiered as a part of GameSpot’s Play For All stream. It shows off the protagonist, a custom created paladin which is one of the game’s eight classes. Gameplay retains the 2D hack n’ slash combat with FromSoftware style trappings. It gives a look at a pair of boss fights, one of which is against a giant pyromancer, and how the character uses a grapple hook to quickly scale environments.
At one point, the player summons an ally to fight alongside them. Salt and Sacrifice features both local and online co-op, and that assistance will likely be invaluable if the experience is as difficult as its predecessor (which it likely will be). Enjoy the action below.Click here to watch embedded media
Salt and Sanctuary launched in 2016 and was praised for its fun 2D rendition of Dark Souls-esque design. We scored it an 8.5 out of 10 with GI editor Matt Miller saying “This nightmarish island is well worth a visit, even if you’ve never confronted the challenging games that engendered the adventure.” In terms of presentation and combat, Salt and Sacrifice definitely looks on par with the previous game with some new twists thrown in. I suspect that’s more than enough to excite fans of the original.
Ska is targeting Q1 2022 to release Salt and Sacrifice for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC for $19.99.
How do you think Salt and Sacrifice is shaping up compared to the first game? Are there any new features or improvements you'd like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments!