Month: June 2016

Starbreeze Acquires ePawn For 7.9 Million

Starbreeze Acquires ePawn

Starbreeze has been enjoying quite a bit of success recently with a successful launch of Dead By Daylight. The independent developers/publishers are looking to capitalize on that wave of success with their recent acquisition of the French toys-to-life, VR and augmented reality tech company ePawn.

Announced via press release, Starbreeze acquired ePawn for a total consideration of 4 MEUR (million euros) in Starbreeze B-shares and 1.5 MEUR in cash (roughly 7.9 million CND).

Starbreeze is excited and confident about the acquisition as Starbreeze CEO Bo Andersson Klint said, “With ePawn, we will significantly diversify our virtual reality and toys-to-life offerings, as well as speed up the development of existing internal projects already in the works.”

Klint goes on to say, “The ePawn team has already innovated and productified their technologies and we acquire not only many good ways of applying them, but also a solid portfolio of patents that will benefit Starbreeze for many years to come.”

For a gaming market that is slowly seeing the value in VR and augmented reality, and slowly shifting towards it, ePawn may be what gives Starbreeze an edge in the industry. With their specialization in VR and toys-to-life, they bring years of experience in merging real life gaming experiences with digital counterparts through their gaming boards and mats in table and room scale sizes (perfect for the HTC Vive).

“For ePawn, I especially appreciate the location based entertainment applications, where for example the VR-mat will enable us to offer even more immersive experiences in our VR-centers,” said Emmanuel Marquez, Starbreeze CTO.

Marquez also says, “Additionally, the toys-to-life applications are numerous and the ability to technically track physical objects in our future games, such as Geminose, are really promising. The potential to be able to add augmented reality components to further enhance the gameplay for mobile devices are really exciting.”

With the acquisition comes seven registered patents and nine staff members located in Paris. An additional earn-out consideration will be paid to the selling shareholders based on performance of the business in the coming years.

The acquisition is not expected to significantly impact Starbreeze financial performance in near-term but is apparently expected to unlock synergies related to several of Starbreeze ongoing and future projects and thereby generate incremental revenues long-term.

A Month From Launch, Song of the Deep Major Issues

A Month From Launch, Song of the Deep Major Issues

The submarine exploration game Song of the Deep, developed by Insomniac Games, releases in just a few short weeks and what I played on the E3 show floor has me both interested and concerned.

A Month From Launch, Song of the Deep Major Issues 3

The premise is simple enough: a girl’s father is lost at sea, so she builds a rickety submarine and sets out to find him. When first starting out she can only navigate the deep waters, but quickly finds an upgrade that allows the sub to pick up items for use in puzzles as well as attack aquatic enemies.

In my time with the game the only puzzles I came across were ones that required grabbing stone heads and placing them back where they belong atop statues scattered throughout the level, thus allowing me to advance. Not exactly thrilling, nor was the combat as it required aiming your magnet and firing it out for a short-range attack. This felt more like a casual adventure than a deep sea shoot’em up, so I wouldn’t expect the combat to be all that impressive.

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What has me concerned is the massive framerate issues any time the sub speeds up due to currents in the water, which happens quite often. The framerate is so bad during these instances that I felt embarrassed for the person showing me the game that was looking over my shoulder while I played. Thing is, the game isn’t exactly all that impressive graphically, so we are most likely looking at a case of poor optimization here. I saw many people at the show approach the game only to walk away moments later, perhaps because of this very issue. I can only imagine if the game releases in this state that many people will react the very same way.

A Month From Launch, Song of the Deep Major Issues 1

That isn’t to say this issue can’t be fixed by launch next month, or that it isn’t just an Xbox One exclusive problem, as the console is occasionally known to have. Only time will tell, as the PC and PS4 versions were not available for testing on the E3 show floor as far I saw.

Underwater Metroidvanias aren’t exactly all that new, and from what I’ve seen Song of the Deep hasn’t shown me anything to set it apart from the many others available, but this specific sub-genre (pun intended) is so sparsely populated that I think it can get away with it. The story is at least interesting in that it’s a young girl trying to rescue a grown man, instead of doing the whole damsel in distress thing again.  However, if the framerate issues aren’t fixed by launch I have a feeling bad reviews will sink this game.

Will Battlefield 1 Live Up to the Hype? We Couldn't Decide 11

Will Battlefield 1 Live Up to the Hype? We Couldn’t Decide

During EA Live at E3 2016, EA let Cody Orme and Jed Whitaker play a multiplayer match each of the highly anticipated First World War shooter, Battlefield 1. Both parties had different feelings about the game. Cody found the game downright boring. Meanwhile, as someone who doesn’t typically like the series, Jed found it to be a breath of fresh air. Here’s what both of them had to say.

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Feral Rites is a Colourful Tribal Beat ‘Em Up

Feral Rites is a Colourful Tribal Beat ‘Em Up

“I don’t know, I don’t really worry about it,” said Cameron Christian. This was in response to potential concerns that people may take issue with perceivable cultural appropriation in Insomniac Games’ new Oculus Rift exclusive, Feral Rites. I asked this because the first thing that hit me upon seeing the character selection screen was, “wow, these characters look like white people dressed in tribal garb.” I will concede that screenshots I saw after the fact made the character look less white than I initially thought.

Aside from that, what I played seemed like a serviceable game with combat that is reminiscent of the Arkham series. Players can easily take on multiple enemies at the same time, bouncing between them. With a quick attack, strong attack, and the ability to throw enemies into either each other or deadly needle plants, similar to the ones in Insomniac’s recent Rift exclusive Edge of Nowhere. I jokingly asked if this game takes place in the same universe, and Cameron confirmed that it does not. That still won’t stop me from making it my headcanon, though.

Feral Rites is a Colourful Tribal Beat ‘Em Up 1I chose to play as a female character and quickly found an artifact that turned me into a buff, humanoid cat that would feel at home in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ universe. In cat form I was able to hit a bit harder while performing different moves, but things felt similar otherwise. The game world is vibrant and wonderfully colourful, though I’d imagine that is to make up for the graphics not being top of the line due to the resolution and frame rates required for virtual reality. That isn’t to say the game is ugly, as it isn’t by any means. It also sports a soundtrack that sounds a bit like hip-hop beats, which felt like a nice fit to the action on screen.

My main contention most of Insomniac Games’  Rift titles is that most of them don’t feel like they require or benefit from VR. This especially rings true in the cases of Edge of Nowhere and Feral Rites. Cameron said that the studio “treats (VR) more like an advanced 3DTV,” though he also said that puzzle mechanics which utilize the tech pop up later in the game. The only puzzle I found in my brief time with the game, though, just had me looking around for a rune to reveal it on screen. This felt more like a tacked-on feature to justify being a VR exclusive rather than something that actually benefited the gameplay.

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As an old-school beat’em up fan, I will say there’s plenty of potential here for a great game. The combat feels nice, moves can be unlocked throughout the game, and the setting seems interesting. I look forward to taking the full game for a spin when it releases, which should be in around four months, though no specific date has been set just yet.

Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum (Hardware) Review 2

Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum (Hardware) Review

I make no secret of the fact that I use Razer peripherals almost religiously, so it should mean all the more when I come right out and say that the Logitech G900 Chaos is an astonishing mouse. I’ll concede that it’s not quite right for my grip style, as I favour wider mice with a high arch, like the Razer Deathadder, or the ASUS Gladius, but the G900 Chaos has an excellent form factor. And given that it’s a truly, fully ambidextrous wireless mouse, I’m flabbergasted that it fits so many different grip styles.

Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum (Hardware) Review 6Logitech really does appear to have thought of everything when it comes to the G900 Chaos. For starters, the ability to swap the thumb buttons from one side to the other is the crux of the mouse’s claim to be ambidextrous, but of particular interest is that, should users desire, they can actually enable all four buttons (thumb side AND pinky side) for use at the same time. It’s so obvious, but so easy to overlook—genius! That sort of simple, elegant approach to engineering runs throughout the whole package, as well. The mousewheel can be unlocked with the click of a button, allowing it to spin freely on ABEC-quality bearings—awesome for scrolling through walls of text and endless pages of reddit alike. The wireless receiver is the now-typical miniscule nub of a USB adapter, which keeps it nicely out of the way when plugged into a laptop. When necessary, though, it can be plugged into an adapter about the size of a small flash drive, which allows the full-length micro USB cable to extend it up to six feet from whichever port it calls home. And when not serving the duties of powering the wireless receiver, that same cable doubles as the charging cable for the mouse. All in all, a clever little setup.

As for form factors, the G900 reminds me an awful lot of the original Razer Diamondback. It’s a bit taller and a bit shorter in overall length, but it’s quite similar otherwise. There’s also some pretty aggressive profiling under the thumb buttons to allow for a very sturdy grip. And because the mouse is mirrored perfectly along the centre line, it allows for the sort of grip that really inspires confidence. The toggle for unlocking the mousewheel is conveniently close, but I never found myself bumping it with any of the usual claw, fingertip, or full-palm grip styles. The two DPI adjustment buttons beneath that are a bit out of the way, but not unreasonably so.

I do appreciate the Spectrum feature as well, which allows users full control of the mouse’s coloured lighting, even if I don’t much care to use it personally., The Spectrum can be changed in the Logitech software controller that accompanies it. Similarly, the software suite allows for the usual surface tuning for mouse mats, and adjustment of the standard, as well as incremental settings for DPI when the adjustment buttons are used. And while it only sports five selectable profiles, this is balanced out by the ease with which any one of those can have a limitless number of DPI presets for quick-selection. t.

Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum (Hardware) Review 7The battery life of the G900 was also quite impressive. The documentation claims around 24 hours, and, rather unusually, I seemed to actually get at least that much—provided I remembered to turn the mouse off when not using it. It’s also surprisingly light for a wireless mouse, though not so much that it feels cheap or tries to run from you when you’re using it.

Finally, we come to what is, without a doubt, the most astonishing thing about the mouse: its sensor. I’ll come right out and say that no one will ever, EVER need a 12000 DPI sensor in a mouse—ever. In fact, after in-game software translation, most players will find themselves somewhere between 400 and 1800 DPI, with even extremely twitch-oriented players settling around 2100 DPI. But, that aside, the Pixart PMW3366 sensor in it is probably the best I’ve ever used—and that was my opinion of it even before discovering that it’s just about the most highly-praised optical sensor in history. Between its accuracy, lift-off distance, ability to ignore hairs and fibres stuck in a fabric mat, and polling and tracking rates, I truly can’t praise it highly enough.

Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum (Hardware) Review 5Which brings us nicely to the nasty business of price. At $200CAD, the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum is no bargain by any stretch of the imagination. And given that it’s not quite perfect for my grip style, and I like a heavy right-click (which is obviously not feasible to have in an ambidextrous mouse), I don’t see myself switching to it. But in its wake, my blastproof Deathadder feels strangely inadequate by comparison—especially when it comes to its optical sensor. If it weren’t for my absurdly specific needs from a mouse, I therefore wouldn’t hesitate to snatch up a G900 Chaos. All things considered, it’s easily among the best mice on the market right now. With regards to ambidextrous mice, I’d stake my name on calling it THE best.

Fallout 4 Mods Beta Delayed on PS4

Beta For Fallout 4 Mods Delayed On PS4

While Fallout 4 players on Xbox One and PC have been enjoying turning Sanctuary into scrap and hearing Game of Thrones music when they die, PS4 users are going to have to wait a bit longer to join in on the Fallout 4 modded fun.

Bethesda announced on their Twitter that the highly anticipated PS4 Fallout 4 beta for mod support would be delayed. The service has already been active on Xbox One since June, and PS4 was anticipated to join the service soon after. Although this has been delayed, there was an update released preparing the PS4 for mods, as well as updating the service on Xbox One.

Modding has been a huge part of Bethesda game culture, particularly for PC players. With mod support for consoles, that gaming experience can finally become more accessible to many more players.

Mod support for PS4 is upcoming, and should be released by the end of the year.

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