Gamescom 2013: All the games and news, live from Germany

Overlapping with GDC Europe, Gamescom 2013 is Europe's largest trade fair for games and interactive entertainment. It runs from August 21st through August 25th in Cologne, Germany, and includes more than 600 companies from 40 countries.

And be sure to read our StoryStreams for the Electronic Arts, PlayStation and Xbox press conferences:

EA at Gamescom 2013: Battlefield 4, The Sims 4, Titanfall and more

PlayStation at Gamescom 2013: PS4, PS3, Vita and more

Xbox at Gamescom 2013: Indie plans, Kinect games and more

The game that translates 33 languages on the fly, including net slang

The most obviously impressive thing about the iOS' Game of War: Fire Age is that it instantly translates all communications.

"Translation was more of a solution to a problem," said Gabe Leydon, co-founder and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif-based developer Machine Zone. "We were building a real-time server that could handle hundreds of thousands of concurrent players at one time. We realized that if we were creating one giant world we would need to deal with the language problem."

The solution is a system that nearly instantly sorts through slang, languages and typos to deliver something anyone...

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Wasteland 2 is a modern reflection of glorious retro gaming

It is oddly out of step with today's big blockbusters. It features the increasingly less popular isometric view, distinctly this-gen graphics, noticeably amateurish voice acting and text, lots and lots of text.

But the moment developer Brian Fargo brought up the game in the backroom of a Deep Silver booth and I caught a glimpse of the character inventor page I was hit with an honest-to-god jolt of excitement. This was the game I've been waiting nearly 20 years to play, the game Fargo has been waiting nearly 20 years to make. That gamers of my ilk, and developers like Fargo somehow...

Why second screen gaming is so important to the future of EA games

People are changing.

Specifically, the way people consume media and their ability to take in vast amounts of information is changing. And as their demand for information soars, so too do their expectations for video games.

Children are demonstrating a very different sort of behavior than you or I would, EA Games Label head Patrick Soderlund told Polygon during a recent interview at Gamescom.

They rely much more on social media to make their decisions, they also are much more capable of multitasking. And not just doing doing multiple things at once, but also absorbing all of that...

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Lego Minifigures Online heading to Windows PC and mobile in 2014

Funcom MMO Lego Minifigures Online is launching next year as a cross-platform multiplayer game for Windows PC, browsers, iOS and Android devices, developer Funcom told Polygon.

The free-to-play game replaces the now-dead Lego Universe, the MMO that closed its doors last year after failing to make sufficient revenue from its target market. Unlike the earlier MMO release, Lego Minifigures Online is a free-to-play game that focuses on Lego-oriented action, unique character abilities and the ability to collect nearly 100 characters while being able to switch between three playable characters...

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Endless Space dev expanding with fantasy sequel and roguelike side-project

Endless Space developer Amplitude Studios is taking its 4X strategy games to some interesting places with its upcoming pair of quasi-connected titles, Endless Legend and Dungeon of the Endless.

As you've probably already deduced by the number of times "Endless" appeared in that last paragraph, the three games are part of the same franchise, albeit one that's beginning to mutate across genres and themes. Endless Space, which launched last year on PC, tasked players with achieving intergalactic dominance with their budding space empire. Endless Legend shares many mechanical elements with the...

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Cerny: PS4 devs will get more out of the hardware in 'year three or four'

The PlayStation 4's lineup of launch titles are clearly more graphically and technically enhanced than their current-gen predecessors, but according to PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny, once developers get a few games under their belts, they'll really start to get really creative with the hardware.

Speaking to Polygon during Gamescom 2013, Cerny discussed the milestones targeted by the hardware design team for Sony's next-gen console. The team obviously wanted to build something magnitudes more powerful than current gaming consoles, ultimately hoping to create something that could impress...

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The booths, crowds and nightmare pandas of Gamescom 2013

If you weren't able to make it out to Gamescom 2013 — either because you couldn't travel to Germany, or because you didn't want to be absorbed by a horde of nearly 300,000 people — we've got a succinct wrap-up of the experience waiting for you.

There was a lot to take in at this year's show, between the press conferences for Sony, EA and Blizzard, the reveal of Xbox One's self-publishing plans, the unveiling of Diablo 3's first major expansion and a blue million previews and interviews. The video posted above was designed to give you, our beloved viewer, a taste of the look and feel of the...

Killzone: Shadow Fall's multiplayer gives over full playlist control

Killzone: Shadow Fall's multiplayer component will focus on customizable game types that can be shared, promoted and played by the community at large, and the functionality was demoed during a Gamescom 2013 demo.

The customization features aren't so different from those offered by competing shooters; players are able to set a multitude of rules, parameters, usable weapons and equipment, maps and more for their game type. Like the Warzones of Killzone 3, each game type can include multiple objectives in one match. Teams of players could be competing to bomb each other's bases one minute,...

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eSports will grow away from comparisons to real-world sports over time, says Riot

Despite recently being accepted as a definitive sport, eSports will eventually grow away from the comparisons to professional real-world sports once it becomes fully accepted in the mainstream, Riot Games eSports director Whalen Rozelle told Polygon.

"Traditional sports have had hundreds of years to evolve," said Rozelle. "It doesn't make sense to not look at them to see what things they do that allow them to be an every day force in a sports fan's life."

However when asked whether these comparisons hinder the growth of games like League of Legends from becoming their own independent...

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From a life-sized terminator to the world's biggest mouse, these PC case mods will astound you

Each year, Gamescom is host to a spectacular casemodding competition that delivers an array of surprising, artistic, sometimes alarming homemade computers.

Among this year's 40 to 50 entries were a computer built to look like a life-sized Predator, and another designed to look like a life-sized Terminator; a computer built into a desk, complete with a ceiling, drop-down monitor and lighting; and one mod that was a model car.

Perhaps my favorite was the computer that was the world's largest, fully-functional gaming mouse. All of the buttons and inputs worked, it just needed a monitor and a...

Farming Simulator's biggest fans are farmers, dev says

"It's very popular with people in the agricultural industry," Schwegler said. "They are the most vocal audience we have — people who are actually farming. They're very active on our forums and they'll tell us if we're doing something wrong."

Farming Simulator is most popular in Europe, with its core market in Germany, according to Schwegler. Traditionally the games have been published for PC, but due to its mounting popularity, Giants decided to make the leap to console. Farming Simulator 2013 will be available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September.

"Our core audience is kids,"...

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The Sims 4 is a better reflection of who we are as humans today

Like the first children of the Twitter generation, of Internet submersion, the avatars of The Sims 4 won't just be able to multitask, they'll be better for doing so.

When a sim in the world of the upcoming, latest version of the computer game, multitasks, they'll be able to build twin skills, both at the regular rate.

The game "has to feel natural and make sense for who we are as human beings today," said Rachel Franklin, VP and Executive Producer for The Sims 4.

That means they can, for instance, eat and talk at the same time or exercise and chat, or watch TV and text.

Where the...

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Warframe's PS4 port keeps the action fast and the price low

Warframe, Digital Extremes' free-to-play multiplayer shooter, seems a perfect fit for PlayStation 4. Its twitchy combat and complex controls are well suited for the console, which in turn is more conducive for the game's free-to-play business model than its predecessor ever could be.

During a brief hands-on demo with Warframe's PS4 port — it's currently available in open beta on Windows PCs — at Gamescom 2013, we had a chance to see how its adaptation to consoles is going. The title hasn't changed too drastically in the transition; it's still an interesting hybrid of Mass Effect 3's...

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Elder Scrolls Online's first-person mode leaves you in the danger zone

The recently added, fully supported first-person perspective in The Elder Scrolls Online still needs a bit of work.

The good news is that the developers know that and continue to put time into tweaking the way the game behaves in that perspective.

What started as a simple zoomed in perspective was given the addition of character hands and equipment recently. But still missing are some of the warning signs a gamer playing in third-person perspective might receive in combat.

When fighting in third-person perspective, players can react to ranged attacks. When a bow-wielding enemy, for...

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Destiny and PS4 top Gamescom Awards 2013, attendance hits 340,000

The Gamescom 2013 winners were announced today, crowning the PlayStation 4 with Best Hardware of show, giving Destiny the most game awards — including "Best of Gamescom" — and pinning Titanfall, Mario Kart 8 and The Elder Scrolls Online with two awards each.

Bungie's upcoming cross-platform sci-fi shooter, Destiny, received awards for Best Console Game Sony PlayStation: and Best Online Multiplayer Game. Respawn Entertainment's online-only multiplayer-focused shooter, Titanfall, took out Best Console Game Microsoft Xbox and Best Next Generation Console Game.

Mario Kart 8 won Best Console...

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Star Citizen delivers hangars, the beginning of its universe, to backers

"The hangar is essentially the super, super reduced version of the game," said developer Chris Roberts. "As of Thursday everyone who is a backer of Star Citizen will get their hangar and be able to walk around it to see their ships."

For those nearly 230,000 backers of the in-development online space trading and combat game, the hangar will be the first piece of the game they've been anticipating since last October. The hangar, which will hit Thursday morning, will come in three sizes, based on the level of a backer, and pre-loaded with some of the backers ships. It will deliver a chance...

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DriveClub's social challenges built around potential for virality

Virality is a force that countless content creators and web aficionados have tried to tap into to help their products find an audience, but DriveClub developer Evolution Studios hopes to use it to build an in-game online community.

The content that Evolution hopes to actually make viral are user-generated challenges, which make up much a majority of the game's multiplayer component. Challenges allow you to create an event from scratch, choosing a game mode, tweaking its rules, picking a track, restricting available cars, selecting the time of day and how quickly time passes, among other...

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Cerny: Making Knack difficult is easy, and making it easy is difficult

Knack, the PlayStation 4 launch title from SCE Japan Studio, is a platformer that hopes to satisfy all audiences across the gaming spectrum — from hardcore players brought up on challenging classics to newcomers of all ages.

During a Gamescom 2013 demo, game director and PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny showcased how it manages to meet those two opposing demands. There are three difficulty settings in the game, scaling not just combat and survivability to meet players' skill levels, but platforming challenge as well. New players can also be assisted using an asymmetrical co-op mode, letting...

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Why Sucker Punch added touch controls to Infamous: Second Son

Sucker Punch has utilized the PlayStation 4 hardware to do things it simply wasn't able to do on current-gen hardware, director Nate Fox told Polygon during a Gamescom interview; things like realistic city-building and touch-based controls.

The Infamous series is known for its open-world "urban playgrounds," environments that allowed the games' super-powered protagonist to climb buildings, wreck cars and grind subway rails. In Infamous: Second Son, that living world can be bigger, more detailed and closer to Seattle — Second Son's real-world source material, and the city where Sucker Punch...

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Metrico morphs infographics into a challenging, beautiful world

Metrico is not a math game; it's a romp through a world of infographics turned into puzzles that are maddeningly frustrating and genuinely fun.

Digital Dreams has taken bar graphs, pie charts and axis coordinates and built a world that is both beautiful and challenging. Players will have to use trial and error to figure out its rules — which are constantly changing. And once you adapt to these rules, they'll change once again. The only way to pass each obstacle is to jump or run in a very specific direction, or fall to your death into the abyss to reset it.

Infographics are becoming an...

WildStar looks to reinvent the role of MMO crowd control

Carbine Studios hopes to fix a lot of things it sees in the MMORPG genre as being broken with its upcoming title WildStar; its latest target, crowd control, was explored in-depth during a demonstration at Gamescom 2013.

Crowd control refers to any mechanic that immobilizes or hinders enemies, allowing a player group to focus their effort on smaller, more manageable pockets of enemies. It's an essential, rewarding part of player vs. environment play in MMOs, but in Player vs. Player combat, it comes with some inherent issues. Namely: It's not very fun standing still while you wait for the...

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Watch Dogs' hacking is slick, functional and often hilarious

Watch Dogs' hacking functionality is slickly implemented in the game, adding a unique twist to stealth segments and car chases when used properly by the player. Using your powers incorrectly, though, can still be pretty damned fun.

During a hands-on demo at Gamescom 2013, I was given control of a relatively powerless Aiden Pearce — having not yet hacked the local ctOS terminal, Pearce wasn't able to access the network from which he draws many of his technology-driven power. To gain that power, I had to find the terminal on my map and hack it locally; though the access point was heavily...

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Yoshida wants to keep a 'steady flow' of post-launch PS4 games

The PlayStation 4 will receive 33 games — a mix of first and third-party, physical and digital — by the end of December. That's an impressive sum, but as we've seen from the launch of consoles past, a strong launch library is just half the equation for success; the consoles must be supported by steady releases in the months following their launch.

It's an issue suffered by recent devices that third-party studios have been slow to adopt, namely the PlayStation Vita and Wii U, which are only now starting to recover to varying degrees. If either of the next-gen consoles launching later this...

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Lions, chariots and naumachia: The things that almost made it into Ryse: Son of Rome

The naumachia were massive naval battles first staged for Julius Caesar in Ancient Rome. They were among the bloodiest combat for entertainment that occurred in the era, often featuring thousands of prisoners of war fighting to the death.

Ryse's multiplayer takes place in a massive colosseum with sections of floor that can drop away and rise up to switch out elements of the battle. The changing nature of the colosseum is a nod to the reality of those ancient blood sport, which included everything from one-on-one gladiatorial fights to reenactments of famous battles, to chariot races and...

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Space dogfights, movie theaters and walking tanks in virtual reality

One day the Oculus Rift will show up in stores. But for now it's in the hands of people making wonderful things for it. Not necessarily games, but experiences.

There's the chance to skydive, to tour an active volcano, to stare into the whitewashed sky of a winter morning and trace the flakes of snow drifting toward your face, to stand in an elevator or sit in a movie theater and watch a movie.

We spent a chunk of a day at Gamescom sitting down with developers and the people behind the virtual reality headset to try and get a sense of where the gear is headed and what sort of impact it...

Survarium brings the world of STALKER online, but it's far from finished

Survarium, the multiplayer shooter from developer Vostok Games, is attempting to bring the post-apocalyptic world of STALKER to life in an online game — a noble goal, but one that's going to take some time to achieve.

During a hands-on Gamescom 2013 demo, we got a a chance to try our hand at scavenging the Ukranian wasteland in a private player vs. player match. The level we competed in looked and felt like the large, ruined world of the STALKER series, with massive fields and looming, rust-consumed buildings. It was peppered with the series' trademark anomalies; hazardous zones hiding...

The Flock is the most terrifying game of red light, green light

Players step in the world of the "Flock," hunchback creatures that look like walking skeletons. These twisted beings are the last that walk the earth. Up to six players can join the game, playing as these sad and scary Flock as they try to survive in in a rocky wasteland. It's 3000 AD and all of humanity has been wiped out. Before they died, they sealed sunlight into a glowing circular artifact. Now, in a dark world choked with ash and smoke, the Flock have found it — and are using it to kill each other.

Game director Jeroen Van Hasselt describes the game as a suspense title, but is...

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Skylanders Swap Force will use next-gen social features

Skylanders Swap Force will use the social features of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One when it launches later this year, as well as take advantage of the PlayStation Vita's Remote Play feature, Vicarious Visions co-studio head Guha Bala told Polygon.

Swap Force players will be able to use the Vita to play the game in another room, away from the PS4 console. Bala added that the studio will implement a select amount of each console's social features, since time until launch is rapidly ticking down.

"It's a simple [integration] that we're doing [with next-gen], partially because it's a launch...

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'Sherlock Vision' inspired by BBC series in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

Frogwares is tweaking its Sherlock Holmes series to be more modern with the introduction of "Sherlock Vision," a mechanic inspired by the BBC's Sherlock series that allows player to see through the detective's eyes.

According to Frogwares' business developer Olga Ryzhko, Sherlock vision will help take the series to the "next level" for Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, the upcoming installment in the franchise set to launch early next year. Ryzhko calls the game the "most challenging, most sophisticated" Sherlock game yet, and said the development team has built on previous games'...

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Daedalic's Blackguards is a 40-hour RPG for an adventure game audience

Daedalic Entertainment's role-playing game Blackguards is more than 40 hours long because the developer feels that's what its audience wants, according to PR director Claas Wolter.

Blackguards, set to launch this fall, will be Daedalic's first foray into role-playing games. The game incorporates the genre's more classic elements — having a gang of unique characters armed to the teeth with weapons and spells — with turn-based strategy elements. During combat, players move on a grid, clicking on the space they want to move to, then choose an attack to take down the enemy in front of them....

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Nordic Games could announce its first THQ project later this year

Nordic Games isn't eager to rush into projects involving the properties it acquired from THQ earlier this year, but is starting to lay down the groundwork for their next installments — one of which could be announced by the end of the year.

Speaking to Polygon at Gamescom, Nordic Games head of business and product development Reinhard Pollice explained that its current slate of upcoming titles — including the Indiana Jones-esque shooter Deadfall Adventures and 3D adventure game The Raven: Chapter Two — takes precedence over any new THQ projects.

"The thing is, the current lineup with The...

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AquaNox reboot in development at Nordic Games

Speaking to Polygon at Gamescom 2013, Nordic Games head of business and product development Reinhard Pollice explained how the project came to be. The AquaNox franchise was created by German developer Massive Development in 1996 — the series was started by an MS-DOS predecessor titled Archimedean Dynasty. The studio was acquired by JoWood in 2000, where the AquaNox games were developed. In 2011, Nordic Games bought JoWood, and acquired the IP in the transaction.

Considering the size of its catalog, though, why did Nordic decide to bring back a series that ended last decade, rather than one...

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Kinect Sports Rivals technology 'so good it's basically art,' says Microsoft Studios

The technology driving Kinect Sports Rivals' character creation system is a leap from what the original Kinect camera was capable of, a Microsoft Studios' representative told Polygon during this week's Gamescom event in Germany.

The game's "Champion Scanner" uses the Xbox One Kinect, which itself is roughly 10 times the resolution of the older technology and can handle variables like depth and speed.

"The technology is so good it's basically art," said the representative. "It's become arty rather than sciencey."

Instead of offering users sliders to create their personal avatar, the...

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Why Crytek is sticking with the name Warface

Crytek is keeping the name of its free-to-play shooter Warface consistent across all versions of the game worldwide, executive producer Josh Howard told Polygon  and this is the primary reason the team decided on the slightly odd name to begin with.

While Howard says there are a number of stories behind the name of the game, the reality is that Crytek was simply in search of a "quick and easy name that wouldn't get lost in translation." And likewise, the name will be the same "In China as it is in Nebraska."

The game, which has already been live in Russia for over a year, is now a...

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Command & Conquer will have shorter matches, may have starter packs

"We've been noticing since the original Generals, the preferred play session has gone done from an hour plus to 30 to 45 minutes," said Jon Van Caneghem, general manager of Command & Conquer developer Victory Games. "So we've changed the pacing [of Command & Conquer] to deal with that."

But fans of those victory-by-attrition, lengthy matches shouldn't be too worried, Van Caneghem said the development team plans on giving gamers into those longer matches options to lengthen play through map design and scenario choices.

Command & Conquer launches this fall as a public beta, but Van...

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Ryse: Son of Rome's microtransactions will be gated by tiers

"The whole idea of the micro-monetization thing is that it's trying to give an option to people who want to trade a couple of bucks for a couple of hours," said Erik Olsen, Ryse's multiplayer producer.

The microtransactions, which aren't available in the game's single-player campaign, allow gamers to directly purchase booster packs of armor or gold that can be combined with in-game gold to purchase those packs. The booster packs, which can also be purchased with the gold earned through play, each contain an assortment of loot. No matter how they are purchased, all booster packs —...

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Guild Wars 2 player base is on the rise after post-launch slump

Despite a drop in Guild Wars 2's player base following its initial release last year, the game is seeing a slow but steady rise in players following the introduction of bi-weekly updates, lead designer Isaiah Cartwright told Polygon.

"We've been able to stabilize since the post-launch decline, and we're seeing slow but steady growth in concurrent players and also overall," said Cartwright.

Cartwright didn't specify the number of players involved, but noted it's common to see a drop in players immediately following the launch of any MMO and that the initial burst of players in the first...

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Shadow Warrior remake is more bloody than the original

Flying Wild Hog's Shadow Warrior remake is more over-the-top, bloody and violent than the 1997 original first-person shooter, writer Stawomir Uliasz told Polygon.

During a demo shown at Gamescom today, we saw a gameplay segment set in a temple overrun with zombies. Players have a number of weapons at their disposal to take them down: guns, katanas, a handful of magical powers and the ability to rip out demons' hearts with their hands. Players can even rip off a demon's head, stick their fingers into the neck and shoot fire out of its mouth at opponents.

The developer strove for a level of...

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Blizzard aiming to appeal beyond World of Warcraft fans with Hearthstone

Despite being set in the Warcraft universe, Blizzard's digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is being aimed at a wider mainstream audience by offering a largely accessible version of the typically rule-riddled genre.

The team is boiling the concept of tradable card games down to "as simple a set as possible," lead artist Ben Thompson told Polygon, and staying away from the phases and turns that are typical of these games.

"That's how the audience can be even broader than World of Warcraft players or fans of the franchise," said Thompson. "We just have a foot already in the...

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How Ubisoft developers stopped fearing free-to-play

Ubisoft's adoption of free-to-play business models is part of a push to create what is being described as a "resort" mentality that can cater to all players types, online editorial director Elizabeth Pellen told Polygon today.

In this sense, players are treated as resort-goers who each have different interests that are all catered for under a single roof. The company first began integrating free-to-play design slowly, under the belief it needed to "adapt to a change in player behavior," said Pellen. "With the appearance of online gaming, free-to-play became a means to describe personality...

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Contrast may come to Xbox One, ran on PS4 first, says dev

Film noire platformer Contrast may come to Xbox One in the future, developer Compulsion Games' Sam Abbott told Polygon.

According to Abbott, a Xbox One port won't be possible in the immediate future — currently all of the indie studio's four programmers are busy polishing versions for Windows PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360.

"We would need one programmer to free up to do [an Xbox One port]," he said. "When we started talking about exploring console opportunities, we knew we needed publisher support if we were going to get there. So we had to focus on PC [during pitching]."

A...

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Hotline Miami 2 introduces unlockable hard mode, characters with more personality

Developer Dennaton Games is planning to add an unlockable higher difficulty mode for all levels in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Dennis Wedin told Polygon.

This hard mode will allow players who receive a C+ or higher on levels to unlock the respective level in hard mode. In hard mode, enemies will be more difficult to take down and some abilities may be taken away from players, such as the capacity to lock onto enemies when targeting them. Wedin said this hard mode will be added in response to feedback that the first Hotline Miami was too easy.

"In normal mode, it's pretty much the same...

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World of Warcraft would be 'in bad shape' without embracing the casual revolution

Casual-centric features are necessary for the longevity of World of Warcraft, lead designer Tom Chilton told Polygon during this week's Gamescom event in Germany.

Blizzard made its first major push to appeal to casual fans with last year's release of expansion Mists of Pandaria, something that Chilton says has proven to be "very successful" for the company.

"We would have been in bad shape had we not done that," he told us, acknowledging that many long-time players saw this move as a break from the MMO's roots which focused on instances and raids. With reference to the original World of...

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Puppeteer breaks the fourth wall with actors, not characters

Director Gavin Moore told Polygon during an interview at Gamescom 2013 that the stage upon which the game is set isn't just a clever aesthetic; in many ways, Puppeteer is a piece of virtual theater. The way that setpieces move is all given careful consideration for how actual sets are maneuvered during a play. Visual effects, like rain or snow, aren't real, as falling rain would ruin a real-life production — instead, they're just lights projected onto the stage.

The most interesting facet of the games theatrics, however, are the characters themselves. See, they're not actually characters,...

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Murasaki Baby blends Edward Gorey with 'Baby's Day Out'

Let's start with the baby, who, like every set piece and monster in the game, is drawn in the style of Edward Gorey, with dark shadows under her eyes and a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth on her forehead. You'd think a child with such lethal teeth could take care of herself, but it's up to the player to lead her through the game's perilous world using the PS Vita's touchscreen, rear touch pad and other inputs.

The Vita's sticks and buttons are occasionally utilized, but much of the game requires touch-based gestures to navigate the baby through her environment. By grabbing her hand and...

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How David Cage hopes to make your grandparents gamers

As games continue to focus more and more on compelling narratives and unique storytelling techniques, a new type of consumer is becoming common: The passive observer; someone who doesn't touch the controller, but instead watches the player make decisions — or helps make those decisions for them both.

Quantic Dream founder David Cage is familiar with this type of gamer, having heard from fans of Heavy Rain who played through the game with a "puppet master" who called the shots while another player held the controller.

"That was a single-player experience, but since the game was released...

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Helldivers blends twin-stick shooting with hilarious friendly fire

Helldivers is a game that a lot of people are going to be talking about very soon, and likely with pained laughter.

The game, which was announced at Sony's Gamescom press conference earlier this week, is in development at Arrowhead Game Studios, the team behind the co-op wizardry game Magicka. Much like Magicka, the joys of Helldivers are largely accidental — not on behalf of the developer, but of the player. There is a plethora of ways to die in Helldivers and, based on my demo, most of the come at the hands of your so-called allies.

Imagine a twin-stick shooter with swarming aliens,...

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DayZ alpha no longer has a release window, but closes in on launch

DayZ no longer has a release window for its alpha, a long awaited early build of the zombie action-survivor Arma 2 mod that is becoming its own game.

After missing several of his own deadlines for releasing the alpha, developer Dean Hall can't bring himself to announce another one to fans.

"I've made a heck of a lot of mistakes giving out release dates," Hall said in a meeting at Gamescom. "We don't have any release dates internally anymore."

Instead, he told Polygon, he and his team are going to focus on completing the alpha. The team has a checklist to work off of and once it's done...

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Space Hulk video game takes cues from XCOM, says dev

Developer Full Control has taken some cues from the XCOM series to make Space Hulk — the studio's game based on the board game of the same name — an engaging strategy title, according to CEO Thomas Hentschel Lund.

"When we were developing the game, we wanted to take some cues from XCOM, which has [added] action but is still a turn-based strategy game," Lund told Polygon.

Making a video game based on a board game is not as easy as it may seem. Lund said there are multiple factors to consider when making a video game out of a physical one, many of them having to do with how to tweak...

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Leisure Suit Larry series continues with free-to-play poker game later this year

Long-running comedy series Leisure Suit Larry is getting a spin-off poker game for iOS later this year, the game's creator Al Lowe told Polygon.

Leisure Suit Larry's Casino will be a free-to-play title available only for mobile devices, said Lowe. The game is based off of the 1998 game of the same name, originally released on Windows PC.

Lowe recently released the Kickstarter-funded reboot Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded to Windows PC and mobile devices last month; however, he says despite its success on the crowdfunding site, the realities of the modern market are not in favor of the game.

...

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Ubisoft on early Wii U adoption: 'we believe in Nintendo'

Ubisoft will continue to develop for Nintendo Wii U despite the console's poor sales — as well as continue to be early adopters of new hardware — due to the company's dedication to exploring new ways of gaming, EMEA managing director Alain Corre told Polygon.

Corre said that the Wii U's struggle to get off the ground almost one year after its launch has not affected its treatment of the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; rather, Ubisoft is eager to work with new technologies and will continue to try and be the first out of the gate to develop games for them.

"We believe in Nintendo," he...

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Dead Rising 3 preserves series' zaniness, but its framerate needs work

Dead Rising 3's debut trailer during E3 2013 left fans worried that Capcom Vancouver would take the zombie-slaying franchise in a more mature direction when it launched alongside the Xbox One. That may be the case, but none of that maturity was showcased during a demo held earlier today at Gamescom 2013.

Dead Rising 3's protagonist, Nick Ramos, is a zombie-killing machine, and there's plenty of tools peppered across the environment for him to use in that pursuit. Slashing through waves of zombies with a broadsword or chucking a chainsaw into a clambering crowd are still the orders of the...

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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare likely not an Xbox exclusive

Brian Lindley, the game's producer, said he doubts the game will make its way to mobile platforms, noting that the controls might not work well on a touchscreen, but was coy when asked if the game might come to PlayStation or other platforms.

"Our goal is to bring this game to the widest audience possible, keep that in the back of your head as you’re waiting to hear more," he said.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a third-person shooter that allows players to take on the roles of zombies or plants from the Plants vs. Zombies universe.

In a short hands-off demo at Gamescom, Lindley...

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Ubisoft's Blue Byte pushing into mobile, 'now's the right time'

Ubisoft's Blue Byte studio is making a huge push into mobile game development after gaining experience with online and free-to-play titles, managing director Odile Limpach told Polygon.

Limpach said Blue Byte made an attempt to break into the mobile space several years ago, but didn't gain as much traction as the studio had hoped.

"At that time I think the market wasn't far enough [ahead], and we were too early," she said. "But now I think it's the right time to do that, especially now that we have an expertise in the realm of free-to-play games and in marketing free-to-play games. So we...

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Super Stardust successor Resogun is an arcade shooter 'for a new era,' says devs

"We like making shooters, this has been our bread and butter for almost 20 years," head of self publishing Mikael Haveri told Polygon. "But we wanted to make a new IP with a new twist."

"you can get in and play for like 10 minutes and it'll still be fun"In Resogun, players can see the whole playing field as they fly through space, a cylindrical world riddle with enemy ships and creatures. The game uses very simplified shooting mechanics — players fly left or right using the left thumbstick and shoot with the right thumbstick. The left trigger lets loose speed boosts and the right bumper...

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Dust 514 is getting its biggest update yet on Sept. 3

CCP is launching a large-scale update for Dust 514 on Sept. 3, creative director Atli Mar told Polygon today.

Update 1.4, the third monthly update for the game, will introduce a number of accessibility-oriented updates that fix issues relating to game performance, syncing issues, along with offering improvements to controller and mouse performance and introducing a hub dedicated to aggregating player information. You can also expect the introduction of corporation tax to the game, something the studio previously confirmed on its blog.

"There aren't a lot of MMOs on consoles so we're...

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Mad Catz making Force Feedback Racing Wheel for Xbox One

Xbox One-owning racing fans will have the option of picking up a racing wheel: Mad Catz's Force Feedback Racing Wheel is in production exclusively for Microsoft's upcoming console, Mad Catz announced yesterday.

The peripheral includes two force feedback motors, and its anodized aluminum wheel face can be removed from the base in case users want to upgrade the wheel in the future. It also comes with a customizable set of pedals that will allow users to adjust resistance, height and spacing for both the accelerator and brake pedals.

"We have previously commented on how the enhanced...

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut will cost under $60

The upcoming director's cut of Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex: Human Revolution won't be a full-price $60 retail game, a representative for publisher Square Enix told Joystiq.

"We haven't announced prices, but it won't be a full launch price," said a public relations manager for the company. "It won't be $60."

As Joystiq points out, that's in line with the listed prices at Amazon, Best Buy and GameStop — all of which have the Wii U version at $49.99, and the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions at $29.99. Square Enix has yet to announce a release date; the PR rep said the Director's Cut will be...

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Need For Speed Rivals is a living game, and a sign of things to come

Starting with Need for Speed Rivals, Ghost Games will oversee all things Need for Speed, while Criterion will move on to another, yet-to-be-announced title.

"Ghost is now leading Need for Speed and there will certainly be some announcements about how that will evolve and work in the near future," Marcus Nilsson, executive producer on the game, told Polygon. "Criterion is doing something else, but that doesn't mean they can't help us on this."

Specifically, an EA rep told Polygon, about 80 percent of Criterion are currently working on Rivals with the remaining group working on the new...

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Zoo Tycoon aiming to have 'the most beautiful animals, zoos in gaming'

Frontier Developers is aiming to make the animals and zoos of the new Zoo Tycoon the most beautiful and lifelike of any previous Zoo title, the developers told Polygon during a demo of the title at Gamescom today.

According to Microsoft Studios manager Jorg Neumann, in additional to beautiful animals, the development team wants to make a zoo-building simulator that is accessible to all types of players, as well as create an engaging multiplayer experience and allow players to connect more intimately with animals using the Kinect. Players will be able to use the Kinect's gesture controls to...

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Wargaming looks to Total Annihilation, Master of Orion for inspiration

That doesn't mean the company won't ever step outside the realm of reality to create new sorts of gaming experiences, just that they are historic military simulators and any fictional world they create will never mingle.

"I don't think we're going to move away from history accuracy where we make tanks with lasers or something arcadey," said Chris Cook, director of Wargaming.net's North American PR.

In August, Wargaming.net acquired the intellectual property for Total Annihilation and Master of Orion from an Atari bankruptcy auction. At the time Wargaming.net's CEO Victor Kislyi said that...

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Pokemon X and Y Gamescom demo shows off the game's extreme makeover

Pokemon X and Y's revamped visual aesthetic is nothing short of a revolution for the series, but the franchise's next evolution — which had its hands-on debut at Gamescom 2013 — doesn't just look good for a Pokemon game; it looks good.

Every part of the game has received a significant visual overhaul. Playable and non-playable characters are rendered in more detail than the franchise has been capable of in the past. The game's overworld looks and feels more alive and open, thanks to the fact that you're not bound to moving in just the four cardinal directions anymore. Where the visuals...

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Transport Tycoon mobile: a reboot with 'a buttload of tweaks'

Transport Tycoon for iOS and Android isn't just a port of the PC original; it's a reboot of the series comparable to Tomb Raider, following the original's formula to the letter but making a "buttload of tweaks" for a mobile audience, according to port publisher AppyNation's Andrew Smith.

The code for Transport Tycoon has been completely rewritten for iOS and can be considered the "latest and greatest" version of the game, Smith told Polygon. At launch, the game will feature more than 150 different vehicles spanning the tech tree from 1920 to 2020, with a little more imagination for the...

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The double jumps, wall-runs and red mist of Titanfall

That doesn't mean the game is reserved for hardcore shooter fans, just that its fluid play layers on another skillset for those players to master.

In the game, due out next year on Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, players take on the role of Titan pilots, soldiers equipped with gravity-defying jetpacks that allow them to wall-run, double jump and hop between walls. The more wall-running a player does, the faster they move and, ultimately, the harder they are to shoot.

The ability to get to essentially any surface in a map completely changes the dynamics of play. For one, you have to...

Indie community support is an 'embarrassment of riches,' says Momonga dev

The fervor with which large companies like Sony and Nintendo are courting indie developers has provided the community with "an embarrassment of riches," according to Derk de Geus, CEO of Netherlands-based Paladin Studios.

Paladin Studios current title, Momonga, is available on iOS and Android but will see a high-definition Wii U port "soon," de Geus told Polygon. The studio had been in talks with the company for some time before Nintendo made a move to bring them under its roof; the indie studio was offered a free Unity developer license and the chance to get Momonga on the Wii U eShop.

"...

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Avalanche wants players deeply invested in Mad Max's crazy car

Avalanche Studios' Mad Max, set to launch next year, follows Mad Max — the same Mad Max of the post-apocalyptic action films — as he struggles to recover his beloved vehicle, the Pursuit Special. The game will emphasize customization of Max's new vehicle, the Magnum Opus, as well as combat using the hero's new souped-up car.

According to senior gameplay designer Emil Kraftling, the world of Mad Max lends itself well to a video game; transposing the series' ravaged wasteland and scrappy contents into things like consumables and combat mechanics was a smooth process.

"The universe that we...

XCOM: Enemy Within's alien threat is literally closer to the heart

"Infestation" may not be the right word, though, unless you count harvesting alien tissue and technology to fuse with your own body.

According to Garth DeAngelis, senior producer at Firaxis, one aspect of the "Enemy Within" is the way players will use alien autopsies to create the expansion's two new brands of soldiers: mechs and genetic mutations, called g-mods.

These new soldiers, weapons, abilities and enemies were inspired by fan feedback and are a nod to player-created mods, bits and pieces of new stuff that fans have been clamoring for since XCOM: Enemy Unknown launched last...

Marvel lends itself to Lego's sense of humor, says Marvel Super Heroes director

Lego Marvel Super Heroes tells an original story in the Marvel universe, one that is both faithful to its source material and blended well with the Lego games' trademark snarky sense of humor. While Marvel's stories can often be sobering, dangerous affairs, the material lends itself well to the humor of Lego, according to game director Arthur Parsons.

"If you've seen Iron Man 3, that film's great because it's got action-drama followed by some really great comedy," he said. "And all the Marvel films are successful because of that: great comedy in among the action. The Avengers was the same....

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Thief's Garrett: breaking down the master thief's character

When writing a suitable story for Garrett, Thief narrative director Stephen Gallagher decided that the best way to build up a narrative was to break down the master thief.

"The [original] character presented himself as fairly unattainable," Gallagher told Polygon. "The walls were up, the doors were closed, the lights were off. So when we were trying to think of how to get inside his personal space and give him conflict, it wasn't [going to be] a driving need.

"We weren't thinking, 'Oh, what's the biggest job he could do?" he said. "The thing is, we need a little bit more than that to try...

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Media Molecule on Tearaway's past and the studio's future on PS4

It's still got the core components that make the game so unique — players can interact with the game's papercraft world and its messenger protagonist, Iota, in a number of clever ways using the Vita's inputs. A tap on the rear touchpad can send players' fingers into the world, the front-facing camera projects the players' face into the world's omnipresent sun and pieces of paper throughout the world can be folded and unfolded using the main touchscreen. All these features are still in the game, but now they're combined with smooth, surprisingly twitchy platforming as well.

During a...

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EA is rethinking how games treat the Star Wars universe

"The most important thing for me is that we take the Star Wars license and come up with games where peoples' jaws drop," he said. "We need to do with this what [Batman: Arkham Asylum] did for the Batman license."

The first announced title under EA's recent agreement with Disney to make Star War games is the new Star Wars: Battlefront game announced during E3.

Soderlund said there wasn't much he could tell me about the game, which is being developed by Mirror's Edge and Battlefield developer DICE.

We're looking at the old games. We have access to everything that was done during the...

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Batman: Arkham Origins: your costumes will define you

Every player needs to be their own Batman, according to Batman: Arkham Origins creative director Eric Holmes.

Holmes told Polygon that the decision to launch so many extra Batman costume skins as downloadable content is just one way the studio hopes to help players connect with the Dark Knight.

"Batman has been around for a long time, and people have their favorite variants of Batman," said Holmes. "It could be a particular narrative arc or a particular artist's look, or something like that, and we really wanted to offer people the option to be their Batman.

"It's visually refreshing,...

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Dying Light shows new ways to deter zombies, but not enough to save your skin

Techland gives players an arsenal with which to combat the zombie menace of Dying Light, including high-powered flashlights and spark-spitting decoys — but that's not enough to save you if you can't jam down that run button.

In a demo at Gamescom 2013 this week, Techland showed off a number of new additions to the free-running zombie apocalypse game, including a new enemy type and a handful of new tricks.

One such trick is the decoy, a sparkling light bomb that, when thrown, will attract zombies' attention. This is helpful when facing large hordes of them, as they will all flock to the...

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Lightning Returns: a more vulnerable heroine running out of time

Game design director Yuji Abe believes the Lightning players control in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 has become more vulnerable, being deeply affected by the great losses plaguing her past.

Abe shared with Polygon the reasoning of director Motomu Toriyama: this woman, less rough and stoic than her previous two game appearances, has already begun to crack under the weight of sorrow, anger and her own great burden of saving the world.

"If you feel that new Lightning is slightly less masculine, or she's a little bit more girly, it's because of two reasons: I think in Lightning Returns,...

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Dead Island: Epidemic is next game from Bloodline Champions studio

Deep Silver's upcoming zombie-centric MOBA game Dead Island: Epidemic is in development from the studio behind free-to-play action title Bloodline Champions, the publisher confirmed today to Polygon.

Swedish developer Stunlock Studios is developing the title using the original Dead Island universe. Stunlock first showed a prototype of the game to Deep Silver before an eventual decision was reached to combine the prototype with the zombie world that was previously known for its first-person-styled combat.

While Epidemic is being marketed as an entry in the MOBA genre, a Deep Silver...

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Bringing next-gen Mirror's Edge to current consoles would mean too many compromises

While the game's origin story is an important element of the game, what really sold EA on this particular treatment was the executive producer's vision.

"We have worked on the next Mirror's Edge with a small group of people for a long time, and different groups of people for a long time," he said, explaining why the sequel has been so long in coming. "We've decided we need to make the right game and we need to make the right decision about what the right game was.

"We got to a couple of concepts that looked promising but in the end we stopped making."

Soderlund said the company didn't...

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DriveClub PS Plus Edition lets users buy full game content piecemeal

DriveClub PS Plus Edition, the version of Evolution Studios' PS4 racer included with every PlayStation Plus subscription, will indeed be "content-limited" when it launches alongside the console — but free players will be able to buy tracks and cars piecemeal, game director Col Rodgers explained during a demo of the game at Gamescom 2013.

It was revealed at E3 that the game would have all of the features of the paid version of the title, but would have limited content to entice players to upgrade to the full version. According to Rodgers, there are several ways to upgrade. Players of the PS...

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German All-Stars combines six studios with a single game project

Six German studios known best for their work in the adventure game scene announced today the official formation of the European-based collective German All Stars, with plans to begin development on an episodic series of games called Red. Black. Fate.

As announced in today's Gamescom press conference for the project, the participating studios include King Art, Deck 13, Black Forest Games Cliffhanger Productions and publisher Daedalic Entertainment, known as a successful European adventure game publisher. While all studios are well known within the German development scene, Cliffhanger...

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Awesomenauts devs embrace independence after 'bad' experience with bankrupt publisher

Awesomenauts developer Ronimo Games has embraced the Kickstarter method of funding projects following what studio head Jasper Koning describes as a "pretty bad experience" with their former publisher DTP Entertainment, which filed for bankruptcy soon after the release of the MOBA title last year.

Even today, Koning told Polygon that roughly half of all Awesomenauts profits go directly to a representative firm for the former publisher. In order to avoid a similar situation in the future, Ronimo Games is in the process of Kickstarting its next expansion title Awesomenauts: Starstorm with a...

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Vlambeer on coming to PS4 and the new Xbox One indie strategy

Yesterday's PlayStation press conference at Gamescom 2013 seemed to allot more of its time talking about indie games than it did discussing AAA blockbusters. It wasn't just an attempt to overwhelm the viewer with new games for Sony's platforms, it's part of a genuine relationship Sony's had with the indie community for some time now; a relationship Vlambeer's Rami Ismail is happy to be in.

Ismail spoke to Polygon immediately following the event, in which it was revealed that Vlambeer's next game, the roguelike-like shooter Wasteland Kings, would be launching on PlayStation 4 and Vita....

Knack to feature an asymmetrical co-op mode

Knack will feature an asymmetrical local co-op mode that allows a second player to assist a friend as they progress through the game's campaign, it was announced today at Gamescom 2013.

During a demo led by the game's creator and PS4 hardware designer Mark Cerney, the local co-op functionality was briefly shown off. A second player can jump into the game at any time and control "robo-Knack," a smaller, less powerful version of the game's makeshift main character. Robo-Knack lacks some of the abilities of his counterpart, and isn't available in some scenes where Knack has become so big that...

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Beyond: Two Souls to have two-player mode, tablet and phone control

Beyond: Two Souls will have a "Dual Mode" allowing a second player to take control of the game's ghostly entity Aiden, and will also allow players to control the game using a smartphone and tablet, it was announced today at Gamescom 2013.

During a presentation led by the game's creator, David Cage, the Dual Mode was showcased. In the single-player game, players can switch between controlling the game's protagonist, Jodie, and the ghostly presence chained to her, Aiden. In Dual Mode, control is passed off using the triangle button, allowing a second person to play as Aiden. The mode doesn't...

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Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls expansion announced

Blizzard announced today a new expansion to Diablo 3, known as Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls.

This new installment in the series is being described as a "feature-rich expansion." Reaper of Souls introduces the new Crusader class which brings the total of playable classes to six, an increased level cap to 70, a new act and new reigning enemy Malthael.

According to Blizzard, Malthael is the fallen angel of wisdom, an angel of death, who heads a legion of death angels. In this new narrative, Malthael is working to reap both demons and humans alike, the latter being the spawn of both angels and...

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N++ delivers ninjas to the PS4

Today's announcement is the culmination of a ten-year journey that started with the original N hitting the PC, according to a post on the developers website.

"Like all first projects, it was a bit rough around the edges, but it was fun, and we were excited about it, and thanks to encouraging emails from a few people who really liked it, we kept working on it," according to the post. "We kept developing and polishing it, and gradually, over a period of 1-2 years, N managed to find an audience (despite still being a little rough around the edges)."

That first game was followed by N+ for the...

Call of Duty: Ghosts' Blitz feels like lightning-fast Capture the Flag

Call of Duty: Ghosts' new Blitz multiplayer mode is a sort of one-way capture the flag.

Players score points by running to the enemy's side of the map and dashing through a portal. The second they enter the portal they receive a point for their team and are instantly teleported back to their side of the map. Once a player runs through the portal there's a slight delay before the next person from the same team can score on the portal.

The play is fast and fluid, and the instant scoring and teleportation requires a major shift in tactics.

We chatted with Mark Rubin, executive producer at...

PS4 to get 33 games by the end of December

Sony has provided as clear a picture of the PS4 launch window lineup as we've seen so far, revealing a full list of the 33 titles that will be launched for its next-gen console by the end of December in a new PlayStation Blog post.

The list, posted below, includes first and third-party games, several of which are exclusive to the PS4. Here are the 15 disc-based retail games that are coming by the end of 2013:

  • NBA 2K14
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Skylanders Swap Force
  • Need for Speed Rivals
  • Battlefield 4
  • Madden NFL 25
  • FIFA 14
  • NBA Live 14
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall
  • DriveClub
  • Knack (screenshot...

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Achtung Arcade is bringing hundreds of game jam entries to one system

Polish independent developer Sos Sosowski is the creator of one of the stranger sights at GDC Europe. He built himself a bright yellow arcade case by hand, one that from a corner of the lobby screeches out high-pitch tunes all morning next to stalls filled with straight-lace tech offerings. The arcade homes all of his game jam creations, which amount to literally hundreds of versions of his independent designs.

He tells Polygon he's not much good with tools, but he wanted to get the project off the ground and be able to show it off in places like this.

His games, he says, have no...

Gamescom and GDC Europe 2013: Everything you need to know

The Gamescom campus is home to the world's largest trade fair for video games and interactive entertainment. It's a mix of both press and public — and it packs more than 275,000 attendees every year. With the next-generation of consoles right around the corner, the fifth annual convention will have no shortage of big announcements.

For the next week, Polygon will be reporting on-site from both GDC Europe and Gamescom. We've put together a comprehensive guide on when to watch and what to expect. Even if you're back home, there's a lot to take in.

Pre-show: GDC Europe

GDC Europe kicks off...

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