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The Witcher 3's first three hours show off this sequel's changed attitude

I've never been a big fan of The Witcher.When I reveal this tidbit to CD Projekt co-founder and CEO Marcin Iwiński, at first I'm worried that I've upset him. Then he grins and makes a joke about kicking me out of the preview event I'm attending. It's not that I haven't tried, of course. I played both the original The Witcher as well as the Xbox 360 port of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. I was interested in the dark characters and what seemed to be fairly deep systems, but in both cases I found myself put off by confusing early hours that didn't seem to have a lot of regard for helping players get invested. The Witcher series has become a massive success for CD Projekt, but Iwiński acknowledges that I was far from alone in being intimidated by the first two games. The developer has...
Opinion
213 Comments

Can gaming's great women characters be written by men?

When Life is Strange is released on Jan. 30, publisher Square Enix will also make a free playable demo available. It's a taster of the first 20-minutes or so of this Telltale-style episodic adventure. Life is Strange is the story of a high school student who returns to her hometown after a five-year absence, seeking to find her place in a complex social order, against the backdrop of a hunt for a missing teenage girl. I urge you to try the demo. It's good fun. Also, this is one of those rare games that presents a woman in the lead role and a woman in the co-star role. In the demo I played, there are a number of interactions between central character Maxine Caulfield and other young women, as well as men. Such a thing ought not be noteworthy, but it is. But here's the thing I want...
Cover Story
Issue 03

Jan. 21, 2015

Life in Japan

An 18-part look inside Japan's game industry: Night Cry, Scalebound, Final Fantasy 15, Street Fighter 5, Summer Lesson and more.

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Homeworld Remastered Collection launching Feb. 25 with original games, multiplayer beta

The Homeworld Remastered Collection, a renovated version of the first two core entries in the spacefaring strategy series, will launch on Steam Feb. 25 with a price tag of $34.99, Gearbox Software announced today. The collection is a beefy one — it includes the renovated versions of Homeworld and Homeworld 2, which have received a dramatic visual, audio and mechanical upgrade over their original iterations. The package will also feature the classic versions themselves; partially so lovers of the originals can play through them without interference, but also so players can see just how far the remastered versions have come. During a hands-on demo at PAX South, those changes were put on display as Gearbox demonstrated the new and old versions running side-by-side. Ships still look like...
16 Comments

Planetside 2 claims the record for most players in an FPS battle

This weekend, Planetside 2's community set out to beat the world record for most players participating in a first-person shooter at one time, and they're saying they got it. They're claiming a record of 1,158 players in one battle. The PlanetsideBattles Twitch channel broadcast the run at the mark last night, which you can view below. The record, certified by Guinness World Records, was 999 in 2012 for Man vs. Machine, a browser-based FPS. Guinness, either on its blog or social media, has yet to weigh in on the Planetside 2 attempt. If certified, it'll set a high bar for future FPS battles. Of course, this is only for a specific type of video game. MMOs routinely feature hundreds of human players within the same world, even if they're not all engaged in the same activity. And EVE...
News
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Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns expansion will be playable at PAX East

When developer ArenaNet announced its first expansion for Guild Wars 2 earlier today, one major question they declined to address was when the expansion would actually release. They're still not ready to talk about that, but they have provided some news on how soon players will be able to go hands-on with the huge update.Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will have a playable demo at PAX East in approximately six weeks, game director Colin Johanson revealed in an interview with Polygon. "We did wait to announce this until things had come together," Johanson said. "Now things are going to be happening quickly after this." Some time after the playable PAX East demo, ArenaNet will be opening the expansion up to beta testing. "Of course, the question on everybody's mind is when it's going to...
News
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The Bard's Tale 4 is coming, in the 30th anniversary year of the original game

The creator of The Bard's Tale announced at PAX South that The Bard's Tale 4 will launch this year, the 30th anniversary of the series' debut. Brian Fargo and InXile Entertainment, which most recently launched Wasteland 2, will deliver the dungeon crawler for PC. A crowdfunding campaign also will be a part of its development. The Bard's Tale 4 will blend modern visuals, animations and sound while folding in locales and other motifs from the longstanding Bard's Tale canon. It's official.. And I'm very personally excited to be working on this. More details to follow. pic.twitter.com/OegeiAU28B — Brian Fargo (@BrianFargo) January 24, 2015 Fargo, according to Game Informer, told the PAX South panel that the series is "special" for him, not least because it was the first game to...
News
7 Comments

Broforce's new Alien-inspired content will lead to so many accidental deaths

There are already countless ways to die in Free Lives' franchise mash-up shooter Broforce, most of them involving you or your co-op teammates putting an explosive somewhere ... inconvenient. That grand tradition will be continued in the game's upcoming update, which features enemies, environments and new mechanics inspired by the Alien film franchise. Only, you know, a version of the Alien franchise featuring the Terminator and Neo from the Matrix hunting down the devil. There are, of course, enemies that will kill you in Broforce's new content, too. Facehuggers will spawn from eggs that players touch and fail to destroy in time. If one hops onto your dome — or an enemy's dome, for that matter — it's an insta-kill, turning your body into an incubator for a Xenomorph brute. Those have...
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Sid Meier's Starships is all about ship customization, tactical combat

Sid Meier's Starships, the recently announced downloadable follow-up to last year's Civilization: Beyond Earth, takes the strategy franchise in a bold new direction — where no Civ game has gone before, if you will. During a PAX South panel, Meier himself ran the crowd through a demonstration of Starships, starting up a new galactic federation from scratch, equipping its fledgling ships with special upgrades and taking them into battle. Perhaps what's most striking about Starships is how focused it is on RPG-like progression systems for its titular vessels. Almost every system from Civilization — wonders, technology and so on — provide specific benefits for your ships, rather than more esoteric boosts to your civilization-at-large. That customization starts from the very first screen...
News
10 Comments

Ronin sets a new standard for turn-based ninja stealth-action tactical platformers

"Oh man, Gunpoint," the person standing behind me at the demo station exclaimed. "I love Gunpoint!" I wasn't playing Gunpoint, though you could be forgiven for thinking so — I was actually playing Ronin, a clever action-platformer from indie developer Tomasz Waclawek, on the show floor of PAX South. One of the game's core mechanics — a superhuman, arcing leap, which you can use to smash through windows and knock down foes — is remarkably similar to a mechanic that made Gunpoint a standout game back in 2013. Fortunately, the similarities stop there. Ronin initially launched last year as a freeware game, which Waclawek has improved upon for the full game, which launches later in 2015. In it, you play a vengeful ninja, who, in addition to super-leaping, can climb walls and ceilings,...
News
14 Comments

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns expansion announced

After dropping hints as far back as May of last year, Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet unveiled the first full expansion pack for its popular online role-playing game today. The news came during the "Guild Wars 2: Beyond the Point of No Return" panel at PAX South in San Antonio, Texas.Rumors of an expansion picked up last week, when ArenaNet released the finale of Season 2 of its Living World updates to Guild Wars 2. The final episode ended with a teaser telling fans to tune in for further news during PAX South. Around the same time, the Guild Wars 2 Reddit community discovered that NCSoft had filed a trademark. Titled Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, the expansion will send players deeper into the Maguuma Jungle, where the game's current lead bad guy, the elder dragon Mordremoth, is...
News
16 Comments

Battlefield Hardline's maps include a huge pot plant

A gigantic underground marijuana growing operation will be among the multiplayer maps available in Battlefield Hardline, sure to be popular among shooter enthusiasts with 420 in their Gamertags and online IDs. Electronic Arts divulged all the maps for the upcoming cops-and-robbers twist on its military franchise, as well as details on all of the multiplayer modes. Some of this stuff has been revealed in previews already, but this is an official full accounting of what the game has to offer. The maps are: Downtown, Bank Job, The Block, Dust Bowl, Hollywood Heights, Derailed, Riptide, Everglades (yes, in Florida, despite the Los Angeles setting otherwise) and the pot-themed map is Growhouse. The link has more screenshots and all of the details. Modes include Battlefield staples like...
News
2 Comments

How Magnetic: Cage Closed offers a new take on the gun-puzzle genre

If you're a fan of gun-puzzler games, a unique category occupied by gems like the Portal series and Antichamber, you've probably done some pretty extraordinary things with those titles' scientific armaments. Magnetic: Cage Closed, the recently-announced title from Swedish indie studio Guru Games, features a gun that seems rudimentary by comparison: It's just a super-powerful magnet, which can either attract or repulse certain objects in order to solve roomfuls of puzzles. Where Magnetic: Cage Closed sets itself apart is how it handles that basic phenomena, and interprets it into clever game mechanics. During a hands-on session at PAX South, I got to tamper with those forces first-hand, tossing cubes — and myself — around all manner of deathtrap-filled puzzle chambers. You might balk...
10 Comments

Electronic music pioneer, Grand Theft Auto 5 composer Edgar Froese dies at 70

Edgar Froese, the founder of pioneering electronic music band Tangerine Dream and a composer of Grand Theft Auto 5's original score, died on Tuesday. GTA publisher Rockstar Games paid tribute to the musician when news of his passing spread on Friday. Froese, 70, led Tangerine Dream and directed its distinct instrumental synthesizer sound for more than 40 years. The band is closely associated with the rise of electronica in the 1970s and 1980s. Tangerine Dream's work entered the mainstream with a song for the train sequence of 1983's Risky Business, and an adaptation of an earlier work that became the theme for the 1985 action show Street Hawk. Froese and Tangerine Dream are credited (along with three others) on the 22-track original score for 2013's Grand Theft Auto 5. Rockstar...
Report
14 Comments

Armello takes a new look at the digital fantasy board game

Armello is something special. I don't mean simply the way it looks or the way it plays, though it is admirable in both those regards, but also in the way it has been made. This is a digital board game that exists somewhere between the island of Catan and the land of Studio Ghibli. It is a four-player hexagonal landscape of alliances and treachery among delightful woodland creatures with a tinge of darkness that would not feel out of place in Westeros. It is very pretty and, although I only have a few hours of solo play under my belt, has the feeling of tight design and solidly in-built fun. It's been made by a team of video game creators and board game fanatics called League of Geeks. They describe themselves as a "collective," as opposed to a studio. The game has been partly funded by...
Video
16 Comments

Polygon's Griffin McElroy elected vice president of Earth

A round of applause, please, for Polygon editor and my close personal friend, Griffin McElroy. Surely you've heard the news? The most charming and affable of the McElroy Brothers has officially been elected vice president! ...in a video game, at least. Join in the celebration by watching our video of the wacky new RPG Citizens of Earth above. See Justin McElroy and Chris Grant make their video game debuts, and discover the legend of Butt Fartman.
Video
37 Comments

Get an early look at the Xbox App for Windows

Microsoft announced the Xbox app for Windows 10 earlier this week, a new feature in the company's next-generation operating system that will let PC gamers chat with Xbox Live users, save gameplay clips, check their achievements and more. In a new video, Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb and Richard Irving dive into the Xbox app for a look at how it's shaping up in the Windows 10 Technical Preview 2. The pair walk through a number of features that will be in the earliest versions of the app and discuss the prospect of monthly updates for the Xbox app. Here are some of the features you can expect in the current version of the app, from Microsoft. Your Profile - provides you quick access to your Xbox profile and recent activity and achievements.  With the initial preview build,...
News
2 Comments

Management sim Out of the Park Baseball 16 gets MLB license for first time

Out of the Park Baseball 16 maker Out of the Park Developments has secured the Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball licenses, bringing real MLB teams and more to the game, the studio announced today. This will be the first game in the history of the venerated Out of the Park Baseball series, which debuted in 1999, to feature the names, logos and jerseys for real-life professional baseball clubs and leagues. The license from MLB Advanced Media provides for use of the official names and logos for MLB, the American League and National League, Minor League Baseball and all its leagues, all historical MLB teams, all 30 current MLB clubs, and all current minor league teams. Previous Out of the Park Baseball titles have included names of MLB players — an analog is fantasy sports...
Video
4 Comments

Awesomely '80s game trailer is the nerdiest thing you'll see today

Maybe '80s video game nostalgia is played out.Or maybe you just need to do it right. This very dorky trailer for Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic, an upcoming roguelike RPG, posits that the present is 1987, and that the game is the hottest new software coming from clunky "innovative" technology. You could roll your eyes, or you could marvel at just how the team got the details right. The awful sweaters. The NASA mug being held on an NES cartridge. The stupid nightly news B-roll and goofy soundtrack. The folks at development studio Headup Games have gone all-in on their vision of the nerdy '80s, and it's a beautiful sight to behold. Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic will launch on Steam for Windows PC, Mac and Linux on Feb. 6.
News
37 Comments

John Romero playing Doom is pornography for game designers

"Here's kind of a golden rule of level design: finish the first level last. Then you've learned everything about the game's level design, and you're going to put it all in the first level where you want people to get excited anyway," he begins. John Romero is a co-founder of id Software and designer on Doom. In this video, presented by Double Fine, he sits down to play the game and discuss its creation. The resulting footage is amazing. It's like a crash course in design and how to put together an interesting level. I won't repeat any of the lessons or anecdotes here — the video is worth watching in its entirety — but I guarantee you'll learn something, including the importance of the horseshoe shape in early id Software games. This is one of the most influential minds in gaming...
News
3 Comments

Play The Sims 4 free for two days with Origin Game Time

You can play The Sims 4 free for 48 hours, thanks to Electronic Arts' Origin Game Time program, according to a post on  Origin Insider. Add The Sims 4 to your Origin Game Library, and you can enjoy "free, unrestricted gameplay" as long as time remains in your Game Clock. The Game Clock begins counting down after you've downloaded the game and launched it for the first time. Once it starts counting down your allotted 48 hours, "the clock will continue to run whether you’re in the game or taking a break," according to EA. Those who decide to purchase The Sims 4 will have their Game Time progress transferred into their own copies. EA unveiled the Origin Game Time program last June, offering a chance to play Titanfall for free. Last August, Battlefield 4 came to the promotion, offering...
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