CGMagazine March 2016: Modern Multiplayer

CGMagazine March 2016: Modern Multiplayer

CGMagazine rolls into spring by looking at multiplayer in the modern gaming landscape. David Jagneaux talks about death of couch co-op, what makes it great, and it’s slow demise, while Mike Stubbsy discusses the growing field of mobile eSports.

Jordin Biordi talks with the Randy Greenback, one of the minds behind the Kickstarter project Friday the 13

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: The Game, and Jed Whitaker sits down with Popcap Games associate producer Marcel Kuhn to discuss the Plants vs. Zombies franchise and the success of PVZ: Garden Warfare 2.

Features:

Building a Sense of Space
Picking Brains and Planting Flowers
Taking Back Friday: An Interview with Randy Greenback of Gun Media

Focus:

Couch Co-Op: The Last Vestige of In-Person Social Gaming
Black Ops III A Multiplayer Powerhouse
A Lament for Local Multiplayer
Is Age Really Just A Number In Multiplayer?
Online Only Has No Future
Why Battleborn is more than Multiplayer: An Interview with Randy Varnell
The Rise and Future of Mobile Esports
I love Multiplayer But it Doesn’t love Me

Reviews:
Also available for FREE online!

FarCry Primal
Dying Light: The Following
Tom Clancy’s: The Division
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2

CGMagazine March 2016: Modern Multiplayer 1

Microsoft E3 2015 Breakdown

Microsoft E3 2015 Breakdown

On Monday, Microsoft had the opportunity to start the day of E3 press conferences and follow up Bethesda’s show from the night prior. What they did for the next hour and a half was nothing short of fantastic.

To start the conference, head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross stepped up to the stage and presented our first look at the gameplay of Halo V: Guardians. They showed the new Spartans, some new control options, as well as some really impressive visuals. It’s still familiar Halo gameplay, but that’s hardly a bad thing.

After that, head of Xbox Phil Spencer appeared to drop some news on fans:. Xbox One will receive backwards capability. Not much else was said on the matter, but once you pop your disc in, you can install the game just like your Xbox One titles. This announcement reverberated throughout the whole conference, and when Ubisoft took the stage to showcase Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, we were told gamers will receive Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for free with the purchase of the franchise’s latest installment.

We were also treated to a new trailer for Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2. It was a cinematic, but we were teased some new characters, though we didn’t hear anything more until EA’s conference later in the day when we were given a glimpse at the plot and an introduction to the new zombies.

But this was a Microsoft conference, and as such, it focused more on Microsoft than its third party developers. There were announcements for a Rare compilation, Rare Replay, a Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, and an all new addition to the Gears of War franchise, but Microsoft’s real showstopper was their demo for their virtual reality experience, Hololens. Minecraft was chosen to showcase it, and it looks out of this world. Players can zoom in and out of the map, look inside of buildings among other things. It’s really exciting to see what Microsoft plans to do with this, as the technology itself is very promising. We certainly hope to see more from HoloLens soon.

Noticeably missing from this conference was some of their big titles from last year. Quantum Break, Crackdown and Scalebound were all absent from the show. Microsoft acknowledged that saying we’d see more of those properties at Games Con. It kind of sucks that Microsoft didn’t have time for those three games at E3, but at least there is no chance of them getting overshadowed at another convention instead.

These titles would have really made for a truly outstanding showing from Microsoft this year, but even in spite of their absence, tt was still a solid showing from the house of Xbox. It showed what their VR machine was capable of, and had some awesome games to accompany it. The backwards compatibility announcement was a very strong PR move as well. The future looks bright for the Xbox One.

PvZ: A Multiplayer Shooter Without the Gore

PvZ: A Multiplayer Shooter Without the Gore

Maybe it’s because the holidays are here and all of the peace, love, and goodwill is rubbing off, but I’ve found myself having a lot more fun with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare than any of the other, bloodier games I’ve been playing lately. This surprised me because, well, PopCap Games’ take on the multiplayer shooter didn’t initially seem like a very good idea. As great as the original versions of Plants vs. Zombies are, learning that the series was going to branch out from the tower defence genre to a foray in online third-person shooting wasn’t very exciting. It all seemed, at first, like a bit of a cash grab: develop a quick, lightweight multiplayer combat game, slap Plants vs. Zombies visuals on it, and hope to make some money from brand recognition.

But Garden Warfare is actually pretty great! The characters’ unique combat abilities complement each other well, making for balanced matches where playing any of the roles is enjoyable and worthwhile; the visuals are refreshingly colourful; the music is bouncy and the sound effects are appropriately slapstick and cartoon-y. And, most importantly, the lack of “realistic” gun violence in its battles make for a welcome change of pace.

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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare’s name is an obvious play on Call of Duty’s massively popular Modern Warfare series. The joke, of course, comes from PopCap’s take on the competitive shooter substituting battle-hardened soldiers and accurately rendered assault rifles for anthropomorphized plants and cartoon zombies who attack one another with toilet plungers, weaponized peas, and beams of sunlight. Rather than fight over control of a warhead, one mode sees the two sides rushing to secure an enormous green cucumber: the “tactical cuke.” There’s nothing especially remarkable about this light-hearted tone when taken on its own merits. It’s only in contrast to the kind of multiplayer shooters we’re used to playing that Garden Warfare stands out.

The repetitive cycle of gunning down opponents in Call of Duty, Battlefield, or any of the shooters inspired by them can feel a bit disconcerting if you allow yourself time to reflect. Those are virtual humans who take virtual wounds, after all. Even though we abstract the violence of these games, aware that digital representations of people aren’t actual people, there’s still something slightly uncomfortable about turning war into a sport. Single-player campaigns in titles like Advanced Warfare may take steps toward coupling the gameplay with attempts at discussing what war means to our society, but in multiplayer, where the narrative is replaced with never-ending firefights, any level of commentary disappears. This is a problem that will probably get a lot worse before it improves. The Last of Us, for example, is a game that uses violence not to provide vicarious thrills, but as a key thematic element of its story. Outside of its (great) story, though, players can purchase extra gory kill animations to use in its multiplayer mode. This is troubling. Despite there being action games that display some level of thought about how violence is portrayed in their single-player stories, multiplayer slaughter is presented free of context.

Developers dissatisfied with the status quo will have to find new ways to tackle this problem. For now, though, players who want an alternative to the typical online shooter’s bloodshed have few options. This is what makes Garden Warfare an interesting game. What PopCap has done is dull the edge of the senseless violence that characterizes multiplayer shooters by replacing bullets with plant matter. Sure, the military style objectives common to the genre may remain—the plant and zombie teams still engage in territory control, bomb planting/defusing, and team death match modes—but each fight is between silly-looking cartoons. Rather than take a competitor out with a brain-exploding headshot, a zombie will tackle a plant until it lies motionless. The game is still violent in that it focuses on combat, but that violence is portrayed in a manner that’s hard to find disturbing.

Garden Warfare isn’t going to revolutionize multiplayer shooters—the silliness of its tone and inherent absurdity of its character designs likely puts off players looking for a more “serious” game. All the same, it’s a nice change of pace that shows that the genre can still work without having to feature the kind of violence that can make the 100

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round of Battlefield feel slightly uncomfortable. PopCap has created a game that is as satisfying to play as many of the biggest, bloodiest shooters around and it’s done it without simplifying the gameplay systems that make those games fun. For a medium seemingly unable to provide action experiences not soaked in gore, Garden Warfare is an example worth paying attention to.

 

Make sure to check out CGM Plays: Plants Vs, Zombies: Garden Warfare. 

CGMPodcast Episode 122 – Yakuza In The 80’s

CGMPodcast Episode 122 - Yakuza In The 80's

On this week’s CGM podcast, Sega announces Yakuza Zero in Japan, which makes all the Yakuza fans in the West wilt in frustration, since this is probably never going to get localized for English speakers. FanExpo gets underway and Melanie spoke to quite a few people at Ubisoft as well as some eSports organizers. And finally, there were a lot of games played over the week, including the new Second Son DLC, Tales of Xillia 2, and Plants vs. Zombies.

CGM Plays – Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

CGM Plays - Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

Today on CGM Plays Wayne and Mel take a look at Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare on the PS4. See how Wayne does against other players in this online shooter.

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Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare Coming to PlayStation

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare Coming to PlayStation

After three teaser images were released last night, EA and Popcap have revealed that Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare will be coming to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3.

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The first teaser imaged EA released last night.

According to Garden Warfare Creative Director Justin Wiebe, the PS4 version will apparently run at 60 fps and will be in true 1080p.

The PlayStation 4 version will also include all of the currently released DLC for the game including the Garden Variety pack, as well as the Zomboss Down release.

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One of the PlayStation teasers EA released last night.

Remote Play will also be enabled, so players will be able to play the game on their PlayStation Vitas.

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The last of the teaser images. Customers who preorder the PS3 or PS4 version will get items based on these images for their in game characters.

The PlayStation 3 and 4 versions of Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare will be released on August 19th. Customers who preorder now will receive custom PlayStaion gear based on the teaser images for characters in the game.

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare PC release

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare PC release

Those who wanted to get their Garden Warfare on without owning an Xbox console will finally get their wish. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare will make it’s way to Origin or in stores for PC on June 27, 2014.

It launched originally in February 2014, and took a different approach than what the series is known for. Instead of tower defense style gameplay, players can now pick a side in a third person online only shooter.

The original title took over Apple’s App Store before branching out to a cluster of other platforms ranging from PC to Nintendo’s DS. This time around, Garden Warfare was a timed exclusive for Microsoft, meaning it was released on their platform first but won’t necessarily only be available there in the future. PopCap Games and EA have yet announced anything outside of a PC release, but that doesn’t mean the title won’t make its way to other platforms later.

Videogame Designers Creating Cards for Magic the Gathering Expansion

Become Hunted in Magic the Gathering 2015 Duels of the Planeswalkers

During their PAX East panel last weekend, Wizards of the Coast, creators of the deck building card game Magic the Gathering, announced that they will be having videogame designers and creators designing cards for the upcoming Magic 2015 Core Set expansion.

The first card revealed was Genesis Hydra by Plants vs Zombies designer George Fan.

The full list of game designers who are creating cards for the 2015 Core Set are as follows:

  • Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins: Gabe & Tycho, creators of Penny Arcade
  • Markus “Notch” Persson: Creator of Minecraft and founder of Mojang
  • Richard Garriot: Creator of the Ultima series
  • David Sirlin: Designer on Super Street Figher II Turbo HD Remix
  • Rob Pardo: Chief creative officer at Blizzard, lead designer of World of Warcraft
  • Isaiah Cartwright: Lead game designer for Guild Wars 2
  • Justin Gary: Designer of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer and Solforge
  • Stone Librande: Lead designer of Diablo 3, creative director of SimCity
  • Brian Fargo: Founder of Interplay Entertainment and inXile Entertainment
  • Mike Neumann: Gearbox Software, creative director on Borderlands
  • James Ernest: Owner and lead designer for Cheapass Games
  • Edmund McMillen: Indie designer of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac
  • Brad Muir: Game designer at Double Fine Productions, project lead on Iron Brigade

In addition, there will be cards in the set that members of the Magic community have submitted, reviewed, and voted on in the past.

The Magic 2015 Core Set will release on July 15th 2014.

The newest videogame  iteration of Magic the Gathering, Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers will release later this year on Xbox One, Xbox 360, iPad, Steam, Android, and Google Play.