The Race To Create Half-Life 3

about X hours ago from
The Race To Create Half-Life 3

Half-Life is one of the most revered franchises in the world. Not only did it establish Valve as a premier developer, it redefined player expectations for first-person storytelling, world building, and enemy A.I. Half-Life 2 and its episodic follow-ups continued to push the FPS genre into bold new directions until Half-Life 2: Episode Two released in 2007. After Episode 2’s cliffhanger ending, fans couldn’t wait to experience the climax of Gordon Freeman’s epic struggle against the totalitarian, multidimensional aliens known as the Combine.

They’re still waiting. (Sort of.)

As Valve’s focus has shifted toward maintaining its digital Steam store and the online game-as-service Dota 2, the Half-Life brand seems to have been abandoned by its creators. Many fans wonder if we’ll ever see another Half-Life game. Others feel that it is time to take matters into their own hands. If Valve isn’t going to make another Half-Life, its fans will.

The Race To Create Half-Life 3

about X hours ago from
The Race To Create Half-Life 3

Half-Life is one of the most revered franchises in the world. Not only did it establish Valve as a premier developer, it redefined player expectations for first-person storytelling, world building, and enemy A.I. Half-Life 2 and its episodic follow-ups continued to push the FPS genre into bold new directions until Half-Life 2: Episode Two released in 2007. After Episode 2’s cliffhanger ending, fans couldn’t wait to experience the climax of Gordon Freeman’s epic struggle against the totalitarian, multidimensional aliens known as the Combine.

They’re still waiting. (Sort of.)

As Valve’s focus has shifted toward maintaining its digital Steam store and the online game-as-service Dota 2, the Half-Life brand seems to have been abandoned by its creators. Many fans wonder if we’ll ever see another Half-Life game. Others feel that it is time to take matters into their own hands. If Valve isn’t going to make another Half-Life, its fans will.

Forward Facing

about X hours ago from
Forward Facing

As the calendar turns to 2020, both PlayStation and Xbox are looking toward the future as they ready their next consoles. While details are just now being released for the next Xbox system, the team at Microsoft’s gaming branch is clearly thinking beyond consoles. Several pivotal members of the Xbox team spoke with us about how key philosophies on display today guide and position them for the future.

After a rough start that saw Xbox One outperformed and outsold by PlayStation 4, Xbox listened more to its player base, and in the process created an ecosystem that catered to its audience that stands in stark contrast to the reveal of the console.

The team took player feedback into account with initiatives like adding backward compatibility for past Xbox consoles, and Xbox Play Anywhere, which gives players a PC copy of an Xbox game they purchased at no additional cost. “Those come from listening to the customers,” Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says. “We’re not the first console to do back compat. I think, as a team, we embraced it as well as any other console manufacturer has and really said we want to make it part of the value proposition. That was listening to customers and what they said they wanted to do.”

Forward Facing

about X hours ago from
Forward Facing

As the calendar turns to 2020, both PlayStation and Xbox are looking toward the future as they ready their next consoles. While details are just now being released for the next Xbox system, the team at Microsoft’s gaming branch is clearly thinking beyond consoles. Several pivotal members of the Xbox team spoke with us about how key philosophies on display today guide and position them for the future.

After a rough start that saw Xbox One outperformed and outsold by PlayStation 4, Xbox listened more to its player base, and in the process created an ecosystem that catered to its audience that stands in stark contrast to the reveal of the console.

The team took player feedback into account with initiatives like adding backward compatibility for past Xbox consoles, and Xbox Play Anywhere, which gives players a PC copy of an Xbox game they purchased at no additional cost. “Those come from listening to the customers,” Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says. “We’re not the first console to do back compat. I think, as a team, we embraced it as well as any other console manufacturer has and really said we want to make it part of the value proposition. That was listening to customers and what they said they wanted to do.”

Tackling A New Stage

about X hours ago from
Tackling A New Stage

Developer Kylotonn hasn’t always had the greatest record with the WRC rally series, so I was surprised when I first got a look at WRC 8 earlier this year. What was once a relatively by-the-numbers racing series that wasn’t even that exciting by rally racing standards (if your heart isn’t going a mile a minute while racing, then something’s wrong), had transformed itself on and off the track. The developer took a year off from the annual release schedule, and the hiatus appears to have paid off: The game features a more comprehensive career mode and the racing is more dangerous than ever.

Although the fact that WRC 8 has a fleshed-out career mode (more on that later) is certainly a big new aspect for the series, arguably the most effective feature is the tracks themselves. They give the game a tense difficulty that it didn’t have before, especially when combined with the increasing HP of the cars. Traveling around the globe the challenges never stop coming, whether it’s narrow asphalt in Germany (with a retaining wall looming on the side) or the dangerous rocks of Corsica, all the tracks test your abilities and keep you on your toes. Even when your spotter isn't telling you, “Don’t cut” or “stay in,” there's still plenty to be wary of.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

Tackling A New Stage

about X hours ago from
Tackling A New Stage

Developer Kylotonn hasn’t always had the greatest record with the WRC rally series, so I was surprised when I first got a look at WRC 8 earlier this year. What was once a relatively by-the-numbers racing series that wasn’t even that exciting by rally racing standards (if your heart isn’t going a mile a minute while racing, then something’s wrong), had transformed itself on and off the track. The developer took a year off from the annual release schedule, and the hiatus appears to have paid off: The game features a more comprehensive career mode and the racing is more dangerous than ever.

Although the fact that WRC 8 has a fleshed-out career mode (more on that later) is certainly a big new aspect for the series, arguably the most effective feature is the tracks themselves. They give the game a tense difficulty that it didn’t have before, especially when combined with the increasing HP of the cars. Traveling around the globe the challenges never stop coming, whether it’s narrow asphalt in Germany (with a retaining wall looming on the side) or the dangerous rocks of Corsica, all the tracks test your abilities and keep you on your toes. Even when your spotter isn't telling you, “Don’t cut” or “stay in,” there's still plenty to be wary of.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

Party Games To Take Home For The Holidays

about X hours ago from
Party Games To Take Home For The Holidays

Not every get-together is best served by a sprawling strategic board game that will take all night to complete. Know your crowd, and recognize that sometimes the right choice is a fun and accessible party game that everyone can enjoy with a minimum of explanation or setup. 

The following are some of my favorite recent party games, and any one of them could make for a great way to enjoy an evening with family and friends, no matter their experience level with tabletop gaming. As such, they’re an ideal pick for the holidays; wouldn’t you rather laugh through one of these games than hear your uncle tell his favorite fishing story for the 50th time?

Player counts are listed so you can cater to your group size, and I’ve even included several fully cooperative options – just in case you’ve got that one friend who can get a little too competitive.

Party Games To Take Home For The Holidays

about X hours ago from
Party Games To Take Home For The Holidays

Not every get-together is best served by a sprawling strategic board game that will take all night to complete. Know your crowd, and recognize that sometimes the right choice is a fun and accessible party game that everyone can enjoy with a minimum of explanation or setup. 

The following are some of my favorite recent party games, and any one of them could make for a great way to enjoy an evening with family and friends, no matter their experience level with tabletop gaming. As such, they’re an ideal pick for the holidays; wouldn’t you rather laugh through one of these games than hear your uncle tell his favorite fishing story for the 50th time?

Player counts are listed so you can cater to your group size, and I’ve even included several fully cooperative options – just in case you’ve got that one friend who can get a little too competitive.

A Look Inside Netflix’s New Witcher Series

about X hours ago from
A Look Inside Netflix’s New Witcher Series

With books, comics, and video games, there’s been no shortage of ways to experience The Witcher. Creator Andrzej Sapkowski built a rich fantasy world with complex characters, earning him several awards and the moniker “The Polish Tolkien.” If you’re reading this magazine, you probably know Geralt of Rivia from CD Projekt Red’s video game trilogy. Now Netflix is creating its own adaptation starring Henry Cavill. With the first eight-episode season launching this week, we chatted with showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich about what to expect. 

A Look Inside Netflix’s New Witcher Series

about X hours ago from
A Look Inside Netflix’s New Witcher Series

With books, comics, and video games, there’s been no shortage of ways to experience The Witcher. Creator Andrzej Sapkowski built a rich fantasy world with complex characters, earning him several awards and the moniker “The Polish Tolkien.” If you’re reading this magazine, you probably know Geralt of Rivia from CD Projekt Red’s video game trilogy. Now Netflix is creating its own adaptation starring Henry Cavill. With the first eight-episode season launching this week, we chatted with showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich about what to expect.