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A Battlepack a Day: "Every day that you log into the game in February, you’ll receive a Bronze or Silver Battlepack," which "contain bonuses like XP Boosts and soldier camos.
Shortcut Bundles: Two shortcut bundles will "unlock all grenades and handguns for Battlefield 4 (the base game) so you can make up for lost time. Or if you’re new to the game, they will help you catch up with players who have been on the Battlefield since launch." Premium users will get an unlock for DMR's and shotguns.
Double XP Weekend: Pretty self-explanatory -- there will be one double XP weekend. But Troedsson adds that Premium members "will also get an additional double XP weekend during the Player Appreciation Month as an added bonus."
Community Missions: Global DICE Community Missions will let you work with a team to earn gold Battlepacks. The first mission will task you with "grabbing a set number of dog tags during a specified time."
DICE Developer Talks: "Increased developer interaction and transparency on how we work is frequently requested from our fans," writes Troedsson. "During Player Appreciation Month, we will host a number of interviews with some of the core developers of Battlefield 4. In these interviews, you can ask them about their line of work, the effort they’ve put into Battlefield 4, or in the case of our core gameplay designer, what the balancing process of Battlefield 4 looks like.
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GameSpot's early access reviews evaluate unfinished games that are nonetheless available for purchase by the public. While the games in question are not considered finished by their creators, you may still devote money, time, and bandwidth for the privilege of playing them before they are complete. The review below critiques a work in progress, and represents a snapshot of the game at the time of the review's publication.
Some games succeed by presenting immaculately crafted worlds full of beautiful artistry and refined gameplay systems, while others excel for reasons far more ambiguous. At the latter end of that spectrum lies Rust, a multiplayer survival game from the creator of Garry's Mod. In its current state, Rust is very much an alpha: crude, rough around the edges, and littered with bugs in serious need of fixing. But it also happens to be a wildly entertaining sandbox full of emergent gameplay and unpredictable player interactions. Rust is more framework than finished product right now, but it's absolutely brimming with potential.
The world of Rust is an unforgiving one with no clear goal other than survival. Threats to your existence come in the form of wild animals, zombies, and--scariest of all--other players. But the most immediate danger when you first begin is hunger. Armed with little more than a rock, you'll likely find yourself chasing deer and wild boar across rolling valleys and dense forests in a desperate quest to fill your stomach. But use that rock to smash at trees and large boulders, and you can craft yourself a stone hatchet, making the task of hunting far more manageable (not to mention elegant).
Indeed, crafting is a big focus in Rust, and something that plays a very large role in the game's potential for open-ended entertainment. By collecting wood and smelting ore, you can construct everything from a basic shed to a sprawling compound fortified with spikes and watchtowers. These buildings are highly modular, allowing you to build a window here and a stairway there in order to create something that suits your own personal needs. You can also craft weapons and armor: bows to hunt wild animals, guns to hunt enemy players, or hazmat gear to venture into irradiated towns where you might luck into finding preassembled items.
It's a robust system, but it's also clumsy and in need of refinement. Boulders and woodpiles are the most efficient places to gather resources, but they're snatched up like precious diamonds in any server with a remotely decent player population and take ages to respawn once they've been claimed. You can spend hours wandering through the game's sprawling map and return to your base with hardly anything to show for it. Beyond that, resource gathering is riddled with little oddities (like the way you gather cloth and chicken meat from a dead bear), and the inventory system is clunky at best.
You never know what sort of characters you'll encounter in Rust.
But with any luck, those issues will be ironed out in future patches, because what's in place right now has the potential to be a truly special open-world adventure. At any given moment in Rust, you might wander into a player-run trading outpost, get taken hostage by an outfit of roaming bandits, or happen upon an impromptu dance party with one player blasting techno through in-game voice chat while the others leap frantically about. It's a co-op architecture simulator where you can work with friends to design a mighty base for your clan, or the cruelest of shooters where you can taunt unarmed newcomers by firing potshots in the terrifying pitch black of night. For a game with no narrative, it's capable of generating one wonderful and bizarre story after the next.
Yes, there's still a lot of room left to improve. Guns carry all the impact of a wet towel, and character animations bear a strong resemblance to an infant taking its first steps. But the development team at Facepunch Studios has already implemented substantial improvements since Rust went on sale last month, including the recent addition of door sharing, which makes communal bases even more viable (previously, doors could be opened only by the player who built them), as well as technical improvements, such as improved grass effects and reduced strain on servers full of player-made buildings.
At $20, Rust requires a real willingness to forgive its technical shortcomings in order to experience the emergent gameplay that makes it such a promising entry in the survival genre. But it's a game that continues to improve with each passing update, and the potential that lies beneath those flaws becomes even easier to see. Whether or not you choose to buy it now, Rust is certainly a game to keep an eye on.
A sprawling, open-world map with servers topping out at 100 to 200 players. A crafting system offers a wealth of emergent gameplay, while the ability to choose PvP or non-PvP lets you ease your way into the building systems.
What's to Come?
Player model customization, expanded defensive items for player homes, expanded in-game soundtrack, and replacing zombies with more realistic enemy types. (See official blog for more.)
What Does it Cost?
$19.99, available via Steam.
When Will it be Finished?
There is no official release estimate, and the developer's Steam listing states "we are in very early development."
What's the Verdict?
Rust's flaws are abundant, but it's still a vibrant canvas for experiencing memorable stories. Nevertheless, it requires great patience in its current form
Another military online shooter? Don't groan and roll your eyes just yet. Despite being a stand-alone update on a seven-year-old Half-Life 2 mod, Insurgency's freshness runs deeper than its familiar urban warfare settings and "good guys vs. the terrorist infidels" trappings might suggest. This first-person multiplayer killfest pushes cooperative team play in interesting directions, using hyperrealism and a unique team role structure to drive its frenetic team-based firefights. Granted, it's not the slickest-looking shooter, but the dated look of these battlefields melts away as the intense tactical encounters heat up.
Like being shot in real life, it takes only a bullet or two to end your life in Insurgency. This makes getting dropped as you sneak out from cover or dart across an alleyway a jarring experience. Without any sort of map or radar system beyond your current objectives, you never know when you'll be caught in the crosshairs, or whether those bullets will come from the enemy or a trigger-happy comrade who mistook you for one. That alone doesn't make Insurgency's 16-on-16 team matches particularly unique, but the way this welcome realism extends throughout and enhances other aspects of its design certainly does.
When there's smoke, fire is not far behind
Minimal use of HUD elements enhances the excellent tension threaded throughout each match and makes it easier to get sucked into the flow of battle. There's no health meter. No crosshairs for aiming other than your equipped scope or iron sights. No frilly nonsense clogging up the screen. No hand-holding. Resurgence forces you to pay close attention to what's happening around you. Without scouting, proceeding cautiously, and gauging the proximity and direction of nearby gunshots, you're pretty much guaranteed to wind up as toast. The exciting sense of danger this instills is tangible as you move through each map's tangled network of choke points and open areas.
Direct shootouts are a thrill in their own right when you've got a large mass of opposing squad members pressure-cooking an objective zone or a pinned-down group working together to escape alive. Outside of these heavyweight encounters, it's rare that you get to see your attacker until it's too late--at least when you set off on your own. By the time you hear the pow-pow-pow of gunfire and catch a quick flash in your peripheral field of view, you're on the ground bleeding out. Racking up kills requires great skill, and thoughtful teamwork often plays a critical role in how long you stay alive.
"Do you think we're overdressed?"
Insurgency's cool squad system is well designed to nudge you toward team cohesion without making it mandatory. You can go lone wolf and try to tackle objectives on your own, but working with your comrades is a far easier way to stay alive and push your squad across the victory line. It's also a lot more fun way to play that way, too. From the many numerous matches I dove into, I found that the online player community is far more engaged and communicative about combat tactics than in some other similar-themed shooters.
Plenty of classes offer distinct loadouts and roles to choose, ranging from assault and heavy support forces to snipers and demolitionists. The twist here is that there are a limited number of slots on a given squad for each class, and everything is on a first-come, first-served basis. You can use limited supply points to customize your class loadout with a few different guns, weapon upgrades, and secondary gear, but these upgrades stick within the wheelhouse of each class type.
Team makeup specifics change depending on the map you're playing and the side you're on, but everyone has a role to play. For example, you might find yourself to be one of the only two snipers in your group or a soldier who has smoke grenades or a particular type of explosive needed to complete a mission. This encourages each team member to step in line or face the wrath of your squadmates. It's not just about playing your part, though; your team can't persevere if everyone is dead.
Sneaky tactics are encouraged.
Most of Insurgency's game modes use permadeath as incentive to play super strategically and minimize the run-and-gun mentality of other shooters. In tactical operations, like Firefight and Search & Destroy, dying once kicks you into a spectator slot. You're stuck on the sidelines until your squad captures an objective zone, which allows you and your dead comrades to respawn as reinforcements. It's another neat wrinkle--one that makes matches feel fresh and entertaining but can also bog down the fun when you're just itching to shoot things. Sustained combat matches, like Skirmish, Strike, and Push, loosen the reins on this mechanic a bit, giving you more ways to earn reinforcements and stay in the action. Not every game mode is readily available on a consistent basis, however, if only because there are not a lot of players gravitating toward certain matches. VIP escort missions and the cooperative humans vs. swarms of AI mode are hard to hop into as a result.
A dozen different Middle Eastern map locales let you fight it out everywhere, from abandoned cities with tight alleyways and lots of structures to open forested mountaintops and snowy villages. Each area is well designed and full of nooks and crannies to use to your tactical advantage, and a handful of nighttime maps also add some nice variety. While the scenery and characters get the job done, they're nowhere as crisp, detailed, or stylized as those in other recent shooters. It can be an initial turnoff if you're used to more visually appealing offerings on the PC, but delving beneath the surface reveals Insurgency's strong team-driven focus and realistic gameplay to be the real gems here.
Intense tactical encounters filled with firefights and flying bodies prove thrilling enough to make it easy to look beyond Insurgency's less impressive visual design. The team dynamic and unique squad system inject something different into the mix too, offering match after match of absorbing cooperative killing that proves good looks aren't everything.
Kicking of on Saturday February 1, Electronic Arts announced a Player Appreciation Month for Battlefield 4. DICE general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson wrote in a press release today that the developer would offer, "A month filled with fun community missions and daily giveaways that you get just for jumping into a match."
In addition to multiple events and bonuses, Troedsson wrote, "We are further improving a number of items commonly referred to as 'netcode.' This will tighten the overall multiplayer experience, and we will be able to share these items with you in detail soon."
Platoons will also make a return sometime in mid-February: "In this added social layer, you can team up with your friends to create your own social space and accumulate stats together. We’re also working on other feature additions that you’ve been asking for -- stay tuned for more."
Other planned perks include:
Judging by the forums, the online problems that plagued the game for several months after launch seem to have calmed down considerably. And no further details have emerged on the potential lawsuits being lobbed at EA related to the Battlefield 4 issues.
More details will be coming soon and specific dates for the player appreciation month will be coming soon via the Battlefield 4 official forums. Is this enough to bring you back if you lapsed (or never even started playing)? Or have you been plugging away at Battlfield 4 despite the reported problems? Let us know in the comments below.
The actual turtles from the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie still haven't been officially revealed, but Comic Vine has images of what are purported to be the final design.
The site writes, "Previous details released about the movie's toys do line up with the details in the above image, so this definitely seems legitimate." The turtles bare very little in common with past incarnations, both in animated and live-action form, but in they blurry pic, they look ready to jump into a next-gen brawler.
No video game tie-in has yet been announced, but given the franchise's history, it's safe to assume that that announcement will be coming some time this year as well.