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Posts tagged “beta

Titanfall Beta Gameplay

 

One of the pleasant surprises that came along with my recently-acquired GTX 780 was Shadowplay. I suppose that deserves its own post but suffice to say since they allowed you to nominate a directory for background caching (rather than burn out your main SSD in record time) I’ve let Shadowplay do its thing and never looked back. Hence I have a deep catalogue of gameplay from Titanfall’s recent beta weekend to wade through and (very) slowly upload.

While the beta ran only 2 maps, a single titan and about half the overall range of weaponry and game types I think there’s a decent amount of variety in these vids. Skip to here for a particularly exciting end to a round of Last Titan Standing.

 

 

 

 


Thoughts on Titanfall

Get some.

 

It’s hard to fault Titanfall. All of its ideas are good and well executed, its pacing is great and there’s the a layer of polish that gives the immediate impression of a developer with a deft hand and a lot of experience in its ranks. From the few days I spent playing the closed beta last weekend I’m convinced I’m going to love this game and that it could be my early pick for GOTY.

If I had to explain Titanfall in simple terms I’d say it takes the best things from Call of Duty, Battlefield and, hell, Quake and adds in giant robots. A winning formula, surely? But I have a sinking feeling it’s not going to do that well, let alone ever grow to the size of any of those franchises. If last year’s Pacific Rim taught me anything it’s that audiences aren’t as enamoured with the idea of giant robots as I might have thought. In fact the idea seems to be even offensive to a lot of people. It’s not just the robots either. I don’t feel the progression has as much too it – or at least as many addictive elements – as something like CoD’s. Then there’s the AI NPCs – Grunts, Spectres and so on – that everyone seems to be up in arms about. I never thought having cannon fodder in a game of this scale could be a bad thing but yet again I find myself offside with public opinion.

I guess I feel there’s just writing on the wall for Titanfall and since I loved every second of the beta it makes me a little sad. That everyone’s hyped this up to be the second coming doesn’t help. The aforementioned games have their audiences and while I’m sure curiosity might lure some of them over in the beginning, how long they stay is a question I’m reluctant to try answering. All I can really do is cross my fingers and wait until March 14th.

 


Path of Exile Beta Impressions

 

Last year, when Diablo III was still a dot on the horizon and I was looking for things to tide me over in between, I discovered 2 things. The first is that in the wake of D3’s announcement an entire genre seems to have sprung up around this point-and-click ‘action RPG’ concept. The second was Path of Exile by Grinding Gear Games.

Have a gander at the video above. As I said in my last post this seems to harken to a visual style and skill economy more like the first Diablo than its by-far more successful sequel Diablo II. That is to say the game is suitably dark and aspires to realism while having a system where each class can effectively acquire and use all the spells in the game. (And incidentally, isn’t there someone in particular the last video in this post reminds you of?)

I’ve now had access to the betas of both Path of Exile and its mammoth Blizzard-developed contemporary and if something strikes me more than anything else it is that the difference between the titles (budget aside) falls mostly along those lines I’d previously identified. While D3 is characterised by a strictly controlled experience to the point that it would like you to pick from subsets of skills when mapping buttons (denying the ability to map anything anywhere as its predecessor allowed), PoE seems a lot more free-form and less structured.

One stark design difference is that in PoE you’re not shepherded from area to area by quests. Indeed it’s often the case that you should explore new regions on your own before finding things to trigger new quests or open up new dialogue opportunities with the NPCs in town.

Wanderings in PoE are also less aimless simply for the increasingly interesting loot you can expect to drop. Yellows (rares) and third up the tree from whites and blues (magic) do actually drop occasionally off rare and unique monsters when in D3 they don’t even consistently drop from bosses. Also since skills are itemised and socketable, it’s not unlikely to clear out a group of mobs and find Frost Nova just dropped for you.

Funny thing to say against D3, the quintessential loot-driven game if there is one, and something that might not even be necessary later in the experience, but the loot itself was quite boring. The range of

I didn’t mean to ramble about Diablo in this post as much as I did since I fully intend to writeup that constantly-changing beta in its own article. But really, when comparing this games and others like Torchlight 2 there’s little sense in ignoring the gigantic elephant in the room that will steal players and press attention away from the smaller players however you slice it.

Anyway, next up for PoE will be my opinions of the 5 thus revealed character classes. So far I’ve been playing and liking the Marauder class as well, but to close off here are some more videos of my Witch.

 

 


Black Ops Beta Blues

Call of Duty: Black Ops

The tech press has been preoccupied with Call of Duty: Black Ops over the last 24 hours and yet the proportion of articles addressing the release’s disgraceful PC optimisation, given the volume of coverage overall, is not as great as I think the issue warrants. The game runs awfully- worse than it should on my GTX 470-equipped desktop machine and unplayably slow on my M11x. Neither World at War nor Modern Warfare 2 gave either of these systems any problems. Wouldn’t this game have benefitted from an open beta test? I get the feeling more and more that day-1 PC releases are beta tests these days…

After Fallout: New Vegas, Black Ops is the second game in the last month to ship in a terribly optimised state for the PC. I’ll join the legion of other ponderers in wondering if this isn’t a multiplatform consequence- get the 360 version running ok and all will be right as rain. And try as I might, looking at statistics on what % of Modern Warfare 2 sales were for PC, I guess I can understand where the developers priorities were in getting this out on time…

Still what happened to the good old days of things working at release? Patches are not a new concept in the PC gaming world but have never been the crutch that they are today in ages past. I could rattle off a list of games that have shipped in an utterly crippled state and then fixed up to good working order down the track, but that is sidestepping the issue. Why should anyone buy a game on launch day at full RRP if they’re going to have to wait weeks or months for a stable patching? Not to mention DLC support that will only come later (or, in those perverse, business-minded circumstances, deliberately withheld from the beginning). This is the treatment I’m coming to expect as a primarily PC gamer and I deserve better.


Exploring WoW Alpha: Hyjal and Gilneas

Hyjal Summit

Much of the old world in World of Warcraft changed a lot between alpha, beta and final retail builds of the game. In this series I’ll explore zones that differ substantially from their pre-release versions.

This time I thought of running through two zones that will both be significantly featured in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. They are Hyjal, near Winterspring, home of the eponymous Mt. Hyjal and remains of the old World Tree, and Gilneas, the human kingdom veiled in secrecy behind the Greymane Wall in Silverpine Forest.

Hyjal

This zone hosted the climactic battle of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Despite that, it has remained off limits to players so far in WoW history. Wall jumpers and Far Seers have been able to get into the zone using trickery on Live servers but what I’m going through in the below video is the same Alpha build I’ve used for the others. There is no World Tree root and no Archimonde skeleton. Instead we have a bunch of untextured terrain and missing geometry even though the height map for Mt. Hyjal is still there.

 

Gilneas

One of the seven human kingdoms from Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Gilneas is another zone whose absence from WoW has been baffling. We still don’t know if it will be a real explorable zone, functional city, battleground or instance in Cataclysm, but here’s what exists of it right now behind the Greymane Wall. Nothing. The zone is devoid of any landmass and is even labelled ‘The Great Sea’. What a disappointment.


Exploring WoW Alpha: Stratholme and Northeron

Ruins of Stratholme City

Much of the old world in World of Warcraft changed a lot between alpha, beta and final retail builds of the game. In this series I’ll explore zones that differ substantially from their pre-release versions.

Here’s a tour of the alpha uninstanced Ruins of Stratholme. This is the present version of the city; not the one set during the Culling. Note the untextured Necropolis in the sky that would later become to dread Naxxramas.

A common thing in early versions of World of Warcraft is an uninstanced zone on the world map that would later go on to become an instanced dungeon or raid. Troll cities Zul’Gurub and Zul’Farrak are examples, along with Blackwing Lair, Mount Hyjal and the previously touched upon Ahn’Qiraj. It’s impossible to know which, if any of these, were originally conceived as outdoor zones and later reduced to instances as we saw with Azjol Nerub in Wrath of the Lich King. However I believe the city of Stratholme was once one such zone.

NortheronZonePeople have always speculated on the above zone on the world map. Stratholme sits above the zone below it, the Eastern Plaguelands, although currently in an instance off the main world map. If it is added to the main landmass in Cataclysm to enable flying it will most assuredly sit in this currently unused zone. There had been suggestions that this zone comprised ‘Northeron’, an area mentioned in an obscure manual reference to Wildhammer Dwarves and Gryphon Riders. Why such an insignificant zone would be kept on the map while key lore nations like Kul’Tiras are brazenly absent makes no sense though.


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