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quANTum bREAk foRzA hoRIzoN 2 worldmags.net Hands-on with a stunning racer worldmags.net

bELoW

Remedy reinvents bullet time on Xbox One

Capy’s next Xbox exclusive

Rise of the Tomb Raider

INSIDE

far cry 4 mETRo REDux where do studio names come from? ASSASSIN’S CREED uNITy alien: isolation ThE CREW

It’s only on Xbox! First details

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare We’ve played the new multiplayer!

zombie invasion!

DEAD ISLAND 2 Eight players hold back the horde! Plus: Resident Evil, Dying Light & more the witcher 3 2015’s first must-play rpg


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Blood and Gore Intense Violence Sexual Content Strong Language Use of Alcohol


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Editor’s Letter

ISSUE #167 / nov 2014

A zombie invasion approaches

O

kay, it’s not the freshest concept on next-gen. But the appeal of the undead is enduring, and Yager is handling their apocalypse in a refreshingly playful way, as Joe discovered when he got his hands on Dead Island 2. You might have expected the creator of Spec Ops: The Line to go for a darker, more moving story, but instead it’s doubling down on the co-op comedy that saved the first game from technical shortcomings. It’s fallen to series creator Techland to get gloomy in new zombie title Dying Light, as I discover in our previews. If “yager has doubled down you’d rather keep it old-school, on the co-op comedy that Capcom’s bringing the original saved dead island” Resident Evil to Xbox One. And before you roll your eyes at another next-gen remake, see our review of Metro Redux: A sign old games can be given new life on next-gen. Enjoy the issue.

EdITOrIAl Editor-in-Chief: Jon Hicks jon.hicks@futurenet.com (live: OXM Jonty) Deputy Editor: Edwin Evans-Thirlwell edwin.evans-thirlwell@futurenet.com (live: OXM ETBoy) News Editor: Joe Skrebels joe.skrebels@futurenet.com (live: OXM Joe) Staff Writer: Aoife Wilson aoife.wilson@futurenet.com (live: OXM Aoife) Production Editor: Jenny Meade jennifer.meade@futurenet.com (live: OXM rockOn) Editorial Contributors: Jeremy Hodge, Paul Taylor, Jon Denton, Tom Hatfield, Rosie Fletcher, Matthew Castle, Steve Hogarty, Brian Shea, Ben Wilson, Jon Blyth, Matt Cabral, Miguel Concepcion, Sam White Art: Al Parr ArT Art Editor: Curtis Phillips-Cozier curtis.philipscozier@futurenet.com (live: OXM dJ Coziee) Deputy Art Editor: Will Morse will.morse@futurenet.com (live: OXM Will) BUSInESS Vice President, Sales & Business Development nate Hunt, nhunt@futureus.com Director of Partnerships Isaac Ugay, iugay@futureus.com Director of Sales Stacy Gaines, sgaines@futureus.com Senior Sales Manager Jen doerger, jdoerger@futureus.com Regional Sales Manager Brandon Wong, bwong@futureus.com Regional Sales Manager Tad Perez, tperez@futureus.com Regional Sales Manager Austin Park, apark@futureus.com Regional Sales Manager Jessica reinert, jreinert@futureus.com PrOdUCTIOn Production Manager Mark Constance Production Controller Ian Wardle Project Manager Clare Scott Production Assistant Emily Wood SUBSCrIPTIOn QUErIES Please visit us on the web at www.totalxbox.com/ customerservice-us, email us at boxcustserv@cdsfulfillment. com, call us at 1-515-248-7682, or write to us at Official Xbox Magazine Customer Care, P.O. Box 5156, Harlan, IA 51593-0656. BACK ISSUES To order back issues, please call us at 1-800-865-7240, or visit us on the web at www.totalxbox.com/shop-us. rEPrInTS Please contact us at Future US, Inc., 4000 Shoreline Court, Suite 400, South San Francisco, CA 94080

emaIl jon.hicks@futurenet.com lIve oXm Jonty twItter @mrJonty

Phone (650) 872-1642 Fax (650) 872-2207 Website www.futureus.com iSSn 1534-7850 © 2014 Future US, Inc. All rights reserved. reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Microsoft, Xbox, and the Xbox logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or in other countries and are used under license from Microsoft. All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective holders.

Meet the… oxm conTribuTorS

Senior Vice President Charlie Speight Vice President, Marketing & Operations rhoda Bueno FuTurE uS, inc.

Edwin Evans-Thirlwell

Aoife Wilson

Joe Skrebels

Paul Taylor

Twitter @dirigiblebill

Twitter @aoifelockhart

Twitter @2plus2isjoe

Twitter @mynameispt

a wading pool at aoife’s housewarming party saw ed remark it was the first time he’d left a soiree with cleaner feet than when he’d arrived. surely he hires people for that at his manor’s summer gatherings?

Following Joe’s recent caffeine meltdown, aoife gave up coffee this month. It took two days before she cracked and we had to lock her in a cupboard and feed espresso though the keyhole.

Joe unexpectedly arriving at the office in a suit one morning caused the rest of the team to have a minor existential crisis. so he tied his tie around his forehead, Rambostyle, to put us at ease.

we’ve recently set up a team google hangout, with a view to working more efficiently. all that’s happened is that we’re waking paul up in the middle of the night by posting cat gIFs. sorry, paul.

deputy editor

staff Writer

4 / the oFFIcIal XboX magazIne

news editor

4000 Shoreline Court, Suite 400, South San Francisco, CA 94080 www.futureus.com

aU editor

Director, Human Resources Eric Buksa Future US, Inc. is part of Future plc. Future produces carefully targeted special-interest magazines, websites, and events for people who share a passion. We aim to satisfy that passion by creating titles offering value for money, reliable information, and smart buying advice, and that are a pleasure to read or visit. Today we publish more than 150 magazines, 65 websites, and a growing number of events in the U.S., UK, France, and Italy. Over 100 international editions of our magazines are also published in 30 other countries across the world. FuTurE PLc Chief Executive Zillah Byng-Maddick Non Executive Chairman Peter Allen Tel +44 1225 442244 www.futureplc.com

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WHERE PLAYERS CREATE AND CREATORS PLAY

CREATE interactive levels, games and worlds.

PLAY and remix a constantly expanding universe of games.

INSPIRE and be inspired by Project Spark’s unique gaming community.

Fantasy Violence

JOIN THE FREE BETA

PROJECTSPARK.COM


contents #167 worldmags.net worldmags.net

DAsHBoARD

news and interviews curated for your easy digestion

17 opening a new front

how Homefront has ended up with a third studio.

18 anatomy of survival

how will you play Alien: Isolation? use our flowchart.

xBox extRA

getting more from your console

90 oxm investigates

the Wolfenstein secrets we have (and haven’t) found.

92 now Playing

the only place you’ll find Halo and Burnout together.

page

28 DeAD islAnD 2

zombie slaying goes all-inclusive.

feAtuRes

64 deep dive

page

36

spelunking into the minds of the souls behind Below.

68 what’s in a name?

developers let us in on the minutiae of their monikers.

page

50

pReviews

42 forza horizon 2 46 nhl 15 48 dying light 50 madden nfl 15 52 call of duty: advanced warfare 54 assassin’s creed unity 56 far cry 4 58 resident evil 60 Quantum break 62 Preview roundup

Reviews 74 diablo 3: reaper of souls 78 abyss odyssey 79 metro redux 80 airmech arena 81 might & magic: duel of champions – forgotten wars 82 magic 2015: duels of the Planeswalkers 83 risen 3: titan lords 6 / the official xbox magazine

page

17

tHe witcHeR 3: wilD Hunt geralt gets rivi-er.

page

42

foRzA HoRizon 2

racing takes a eurotrip. page

46 page

80 OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE (ISSN 1534-7850) is published 13 times a year, monthly plus Holiday issue following December issue by Future US, Inc., 4000 Shoreline Court, Suite 400, South San Francisco, CA 94080. Phone: (650) 872-1642. Fax (650) 872-2207. Website: www.futureus.com. Periodicals postage paid in San Bruno, CA and at additional mailing offices. Newsstand distribution is handled by Time Warner Retail. Basic subscription rates: one year (12 issues) US: $24.95; Canada: US$29.95. Canadian orders must be prepaid. Canadian price includes postage and GST #R128220688. PMA #40612608. Subscriptions do not include newsstand specials. POSTMASTER: Send changes of address to Official Xbox Magazine, PO Box 5852, Harlan, IA 51593-1352. Standard Mail enclosed in the following edition: None. Ride-Along enclosed in the following editions: None. Returns: IMEX Global Solutions, PO Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada. Future US, Inc. also publishes @Gamer, Crochet Today!, Mac|Life, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. Entire contents copyright 2014, Future US, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Future US, Inc. is not affiliated with the companies or products covered in Official Xbox Magazine. Reproduction on the Internet of the articles and pictures in this magazine is illegal without the prior written consent of Official Xbox Magazine. Products named in the pages of Official Xbox Magazine are trademarks of their respective companies. PRODUCED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

www.totalxbox.com


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1.800.PROGRESSIVE / PROGRESSIVE.COM Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. & afďŹ liates. Prices vary based on how you buy.


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xbox news, analysis, culture, opinion & more

ga m es ko m m en

ExclusivEly yours

The next Tomb Raider was confirmed as being Xbox-only in Microsoft's confident and surprising Gamescom showcase 8 / The official XboX MaGazine

www.ToTalXboX.coM


worldmags.net worldmags.net snake's cardboard box levels up

incredibly important new information about metal gear solid 5: the cardboard box "hide" can now be worn upright, with attached pictures of other guards averting suspicion, or swimsuit models serving as distractions. splinter cell, this ain't.

EA reveals subscription service

introducing xbox one-exclusive ea access, which for $4.99 a month or $29.99 a year lets you play any game from the "ea Vault" (examples include peggle 2 and madden nFl 25), and offers early-access trials of upcoming games from the publishing giant.

//Tomb RaideR was excellenT, and To have iTs sequel as an exclusive is a feaTheR in xbox one’s cap//

superhot is probably the most exciting new iD@xbox game of an exhilarating bunch.

W

ell, we didn't see that one coming. Microsoft's Phil harrison dropped a bombshell at the vast Gamescom convention in Germany last month: Rise of the Tomb Raider, the next installment in the highly regarded series reboot, is exclusive to Xbox. when lara croft returns at the end of next year, you'll only be able to see her on Xbox 360 or Xbox one. it's a surprising move, and it's reminiscent of the deals Microsoft struck to get BioShock and Mass Effect to itself in the early days of Xbox 360. as with those games, it's unlikely the exclusivity will last forever, but it's cause to feel happy about being an Xbox owner – Tomb Raider was an excellent game, and to have its sequel as an exclusive is a feather in Xbox one’s big cap. The news was a highlight in a conference dedicated to showing the Xbox hardcore that Microsoft has emphatically put last year's TV chat behind it.

QuAntum rEsonAncE

Take Microsoft’s insistence on showing off exclusives. besides Assassin’s Creed Unity, every game present was either exclusive or had some kind of exclusive content. foremost among them was Remedy’s Quantum Break, which showed off its first ever live gameplay demo – presented by creative director Sam lake, a man with the face of Max Payne and the intonation of werner herzog. what we saw was a natty cover shooter that empowers the player using time-slowing abilities and coats itself in a thick layer of po-faced pulp narrative. This has become Remedy's stock-in-trade, and new hero Jack Joyce brought to mind both alan wake and Max Payne as he flitted around a gruesome-looking traffic accident in progress. You won't have total control over how this works, according to lake, but even the glimpse of the stage demo impressed: Trucks bursting through barriers, bullets frozen in flight, and enemies helpless against Joyce's ability to step outside time, zip over, and issue a takedown. Think of Quicksilver's kitchen beatdown scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past and you'll have the right idea. like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break is a game intended to offer the kind of iconic, character-led fare exclusives are good for – something Xbox @oXM

The official XboX MaGazine / 9


worldmags.net worldmags.net remember me dev announces new game

Dontnod, last seen manipulating minds in neo-paris, has announced life is strange, a post-telltale narrativeheavy adventure presented as download-only episodes.

evolve's one of several multiplatform games microsoft's taken pains to make in some small way exclusive.

has missed since the glory days of the chief-and-fenix double-act. The other surprise of the conference came in the form of veteran studio frontier, whose new sci-fi take on the rollercoaster building genre, ScreamRide, was also announced as an Xbox exclusive. Pulling together both the intended structure of RollerCoaster Tycoon (design and build your own rides before testing them on hapless ai participants) and the unintended effect of that freeform approach (everyone killed those participants by building substandard rides, aided here by a procedural destruction system we imagine the new Crackdown developers are having a close look at), the new game measures your success in screams – whether of joy or fear.

Metroidvania Ori & The Blind Forest pop up too. Microsoft wants to show the Xbox lineup isn't just new bullet-time and shiny first-person shooters. This approach goes hand in hand with iD@Xbox, chris charla’s indie self-publishing programme, which had its most confident showing yet

at Gamescom. not only did we see 26 unreleased download games (more than half of which were completely new announcements) but every one was at least arriving on console first on Xbox one, if not totally exclusive. Worms developer Team 17’s pixel prison-break sim The Escapists, post-Garry’s Mod physics idiocy Goat Simulator, fPS thought experiment Superhot, and ultracomplex cosmic crafter Space Engineers all fill out a lineup that speaks as much

ridE Along

The appeal of this will be well understood by anyone who got bored with RollerCoaster Tycoon and started creating rides with the express purpose of injuring their visitors. it's a world away from the studio's first Xbox one release, Zoo Tycoon, and unashamedly pitched at the core gamer – and we also saw beautiful, none-more-old-school 10 / The official XboX MaGazine

microsoft’s begun making more console bundles – which game could get the treatment next? www.ToTalXboX.coM


worldmags.net worldmags.net Alien: isolation won’t have planetary missions

This monTh we leaRned...

it’d hardly be isolated otherwise. that said, creative assembly’s gary napper confirmed there were some “very large open areas” still to show off.

16

p

That sharing remains caring when it comes to designing a studio game.

18

p

That when playing Alien: Isolation, death can be only a footstep away. the three betas shown off are as much a treat for alreadycommitted fans as demos for those still undecided.

to hardcore supporters as triple-a fare aims for the mass market. Microsoft showed a new focus on open-beta tests. Evolve, Fable Legends, and Halo 5: Guardians were all shown off primarily to announce their early-access features. Evolve’s Xbox one-exclusive beta arrives in January of next year, Fable Legends becomes available to try and test from 16 october and Halo 5, offered as part of The Master Chief Collection, will include seven maps, 11 weapons, and three modes, with a focus on classic four-on-four arena multiplayer.

bundlEs of joy

of course, Microsoft didn’t totally ignore the potential to increase its

market share – most notably in the announcement of three new console bundles. Sunset Overdrive’s longrumored bundle, a white Xbox one edition, was finally confirmed, priced at $399, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare receives an exclusive console design, with a matching 1Tb hard drive (the first of its kind) and a headset. True to form, the show didn’t close with a trailer or shock announcement, but with Xbox chief Phil Spencer announcing that, in response to fans, the Xbox one will soon offer digital pre-orders and pre-downloads, starting with this year's Forza Horizon 2. as the monthly system updates prove, Xbox one is a system in flux, evolving for players’ needs, and that's great news. and it's hard to complain about getting more exclusive games. The holidays give us a lot to look forward to. joe skrebels & jon Hicks

//caTeRing To specific gRoups of fans was veRy much a Theme, paRTiculaRly wiTh RegaRd To micRosofT's new focus on open-beTa TesTs// @oXM

20

p

That we remain all-too-easily impressed by crunchy snow physics.

24

p

That The Division feels like a very different kind of Tom clancy game. The official XboX MaGazine / 11


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Forza Motorsport 5 is a cinematic automotive journey, starring the world’s greatest cars and tracks. Built from the ground up to take advantage of Xbox One and the infinite power of the cloud, no game better delivers the wide-eyed thrill of racing.

Available now.

Xbox.com/Forza


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daShBoard a Whole old Ball GaMe

Another chAmpionship seAson? Microsoft promises NFL upgrades on Xbox One (and the field)

i

t could be argued that the biggest exclusive from the Xbox One reveal back in May 2013 wasn’t Forza 5, Quantum Break, or Call of Duty’s DLC exclusivity. After all, those were all expected iterations or yet-to-be-fulfilled promises. The biggest coup for the Xbox One might have been Microsoft’s strengthened bond with the NFL, as Xbox platforms became the only consoles to showcase America’s most popular sport. This may have been forgotten when the Xbox One launched in November last year, since the platform debuted during the 12th week of the NFL’s 17-week season, but the feedback gained during the truncated service period was invaluable for the team at Xbox Sports, who noted that Xbox One owners made heavy use of the fantasy football integration and RedZone multi-game viewing option. With that in mind, Microsoft has updated the service and given access to even more users.

Dream stream

The biggest new feature is integration of the app with the biggest NFL service, DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket, which gives viewers access to every out-of-market NFL game (like MLB. tv, which shows every game besides your local team’s). With DirecTV launching its own streaming service for those outside of its service area (including apartment buildings that don’t allow satellite service), it’ll be easier than ever to watch what you want, when you want, on Xbox One. However, no football fan can catch every game as they happen, so the Xbox One’s app will deliver data from across the entire league. The new NFL Now function will give you the ability to keep tabs on the NFL in general, your favorite teams, or even the players on your fantasy team (via Snap or notifications). The service updates like a Twitter feed alongside the game you’re watching, and you can choose any highlight and watch a video replay within minutes of it occurring. Wondering how your fantasy running back finally broke through his opponents’ imposing defense? You can watch it at anytime – suddenly time-outs and halftime are much less boring. Cable boxes and TV networks can only do so much to deliver the kind of data NFL viewers crave, and the Xbox One has a big chance of becoming the best device to watch football on in its first full season. Can Microsoft deliver on the championship potential? 14 / THe OFFICIAL XBOX MAgAZINe

Surface StepS onto the field

Microsoft’s biggest gamechanger isn’t for consumers

The NFL is bound to the mantra: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as proved by the fact that each team’s quarterback still gets binders full of photographs after his side’s possession has concluded. It is a time-tested way to get a better gauge of offensive and defensive formations but the huge amount of video footage captured at each game would work just as well, right? Microsoft will hope coaches and QBs think that way when it debuts the proprietary Sideline Viewing System on customized Surface tablets. Microsoft is quick to state it will not be mandatory and all teams will still have access to the photos, but the amount of data available after a side’s possession should make it popular among more tech-savvy coaches. Teams can zoom in on sideline-view videos, mark them with a stylus, and save some to refer to later. NFL coaches get a new tool, Microsoft gets free advertising when a coach picks up the branded tablet; it’s win-win!

if you don’t feel like multitasking, you can cut out the ui and nfl updates on the right and bottom of the screen.

Snap updates let you keep tabs on scores, go granular with each play, or check the relatively static standings for a slower pace.

WWW.TOTALXBOX.COM


worldmags.net worldmags.net Advanced Warfare out-performs Ghosts

activision claims that “purchasing intent” for this year’s call of duty is “significantly above” what it was for Ghosts, and “in line” with the franchise’s best-selling installments.

rumor & speculation

the five biggest bits of gossip this month

epic’s 1eventually fortnite will come to Xbox one. ExcitEmEnt: 9/10 LikELihood: 7/10

Xbox Sports wants to sign other fantasy football providers besides nfl.com’s official service.

Gears of War Xbox one 2 will restore

2’s horde Mode. ExcitEmEnt: 10/10 LikELihood: 8/10

3

Volition is helping dambuster Studios make homefront: the revolution. ExcitEmEnt: 6/10 LikELihood: 5/10

tekken 7 will announced 4atbe e3 2015,

following the reveal of two other games from producer Katsuhiro harada.

the nfl Guide can showcase certain players or teams; in this case, it’s “america’s team”.

ExcitEmEnt: 7/10 LikELihood: 5/10

if your favorite team is out, you can still get notifications for your fantasy team players.

@OXM

5

Star Wars: Battlefront for Xbox one features a level set on tatooine. ExcitEmEnt: 8/10 LikELihood: 8/10 THe OFFICIAL XBOX MAgAZINe / 15


worldmags.net worldmags.net

ten pro tips

this month:

how To mAke homefronT’S open worLd Look AS good AS rySe Animator Mark Jackson talks scale versus fidelity in Homefront: the revolution

6

A torn-up city creates many opportunities for spectacle.

Be wary of “cinematic” moments

There are obviously events where we have to tell the story, but it’s not like in Ryse, with big cinematic effects. It’s more cryptic than that. You’re not breaking away to do this beautiful cinematic sequence, you’re always in the game.

7

Streamline your animation

Animation is always the heaviest system, both in terms of data and in terms of the amount of things [we have] to calculate. In a game like Homefront, it’s multiplied because of the amount of interactions we’re trying to get over. It’s tricky.

8

1

eASTer egg Homefront can trace its heritage back to Modern Combat, the first modern-day Battlefield mod.

Aim high

Our remit was always: we’ve got to match what Ryse did, but we’re trying to do it with a fifth of the joints per character. The performance data is still [based on] full face capture, but we’re trying to cut corners wherever we can get away with it.

2

Take the focus off graphics

I think what we achieved with Ryse was staggering – the one thing everyone remembers is the cinematics were incredible. It set the bar in terms of visual quality, and the guys who created it did a tremendous job, but it takes a hell of a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to that point.

3

Understand your genre

The levels are huge, and it’s not just the levels, it’s the complexity of the game as well. Ryse was linear, whereas in Homefront you can walk around and meet anybody, so the AI takes

16 / the official xbox magazine

I think the key for an art team or a technical director is to fight your own corner – “No, we need that!” – but, at the same time, you’ve got to look at the bigger picture, and go, “Okay, yeah, I can afford to drop that down if it means you can have XYZ.”

up a lot of processing [power], and then we have to fit all of the graphics and art into it as well.

4

Ask sister studios for help

We’ve got a formidable engine, which is great, and we’re all trying to push that same [level of quality]. The stuff that we do will filter down to other studios – we’ve got good working relationships with people at Crytek in Frankfurt. On the animation side, from my point of view, we’re doing a lot more sharing of tech.

5

Cut back where you can

None of the characters are truly running real physics. Everything still moves in the way you’d expect it to, but we can now propagate that across a whole [world], so every single character is running these systems – there’s a lot of stuff going on.

Learn to share

BACkgroUnd CheCk nAme mark Jackson JoB TiTLe technical animation director Bio Veteran animator with over 20 years’ experience on games including Vanishing Point and GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. was in charge of animation at crytek UK; now has exactly the same job at its newly minted replacement Deep silver Dambuster.

9

Learn from competitors

It’s my job to look at everything, really, and figure out how anyone else is doing it, and I’m sure everyone else is doing the same thing. People will be looking at Ryse and saying “that’s amazing, we need to do XYZ, but we can do this better”.

10

Create flexible systems

The facial system has to run for every single person in the entire game. We’ve got a population inside the world that has to talk, and the tech we’ve done allows us to share that facial system across those, but also ramp it right the way up to [cutscene quality]. It’s one central system that’s driving everything else. www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net SpeedRunners unveiled for Xbox One

Due 2015, up to four players dart around large rectangular levels, using grappling hooks and fireballs to knock each other off the screen.

DAsHbOArD Crytek sees free-toplay as its future – and it doesn’t think this is incompatible with making hardcore, high-fidelity shooters.

Opening a new fROnt

Homefront moves house again as Crytek sells it to Deep Silver

C

ould a curse hang over Homefront? The shooter that became a poster child for the spectacular collapse of THQ has not flourished under new ownership. On 31 July, Deep Silver parent Koch Media announced it was acquiring the Homefront brand from Crytek, following rumors of unpaid wages and mass staff departures at the latter’s UK and Frankfurt studios. Homefront: The Revolution will now be finished by a mixture of exCrytek UK staff and newcomers at the newly founded Dambuster Studios. This marks the fourth time the franchise has moved in three years. THQ closed creator Kaos Studios in 2011 and relocated the brand to its Montreal studio; that went under with THQ in 2012. Crytek bought the rights to

Homefront at auction in 2013 for $500,000 – a snip compared to the millions THQ sunk into it previously. Deep Silver signed on to publish it this year; now it’s taken full ownership and shifted it to yet another new studio. Meanwhile, Crytek has also transferred co-op shooter HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age from Crytek USA to Frankfurt, following the departure of key staff from its Austinbased studio. Company founder and CEO Cevat Yerli remains upbeat, promising that Crytek now has the funds to secure its “long term” future as a creator of free-to-play games like HUNT, Arena of Fate and Warface.

The move marks the end of Crytek UK, a studio which began life as Free Radical Design, developer of TimeSplitters. It neared closure across 2008 to 2009, after releasing the dreadful Haze for PS3, but was rescued by Crytek and put to work on the Crysis franchise. Many Homefront developers seem happy with how things have turned out. “Talk about hitting the ground running,” commented programmer Stewart Needham on Twitter. “We are almost back to full momentum again. Can’t wait to show people what we’re capable of when unified.” Here’s hoping that fourth time’s the charm…

//the franchise has moved four times in just three years//

in numbers > DATAPOinT: news in numbers > DATAPOinT: news in numbers

@OXM

1

4,600,000

13

The number of games coming to Xbox One where you get to play as a deer.

The number of people who played the Destiny beta, taking part in more than 88 million games.

The number of Chinese game developers making games for Xbox One. THE OFFICIAl XbOX MAgAzINE / 17


worldmags.net worldmags.net

dAshboArd i’ve Got movement

Alien: isolAtion – AnAtomy of survivAl How a hypothetical encounter might unfold in Creative Assembly’s horribly faithful adaptation

A

fter more than a few hours of non-consecutive hands-on time with Alien: Isolation, we’re genuinely beginning to worry that Creative Assembly’s Xenomorph is smarter than us. The good news is that

1 stArt

Player spawns in saferoom. GO TO 1,2,3, OR 4

heAd to the med bAy

There are humans in there. Terrified, murderous humans. You can always shoot them to get past (GO TO 12), but the Alien will hear if it’s in the vents nearby. You might also consider using an item to create a diversion without exposing yourself (GO TO 6).

Androids are almost fireproof and, unlike the Alien, they aren’t unsettled by it.

18 / THE OffiCiAl XBOX MAGAziNE

the creature’s spontaneity equates to more replay value, especially as regards the timed A-to-B challenge missions that sit alongside the main story. With the aid of senior designer Gary Napper, here’s one we’ve made up to illustrate the possibilities.

2

GAther scrAp And mAteriAls

Partly generated in response to how you play, these can be used to make items (beware – time doesn’t stop when you pause). Making one item often means sacrificing the chance to make another. So which do you need more, a medical kit (GO TO 1) or an EMP (GO TO 4)?

heAd to the enGineerinG chAmber

4

Did you make an EMP? Because there’s an android in here, and it won’t like you fiddling with the computers. Up for a noisy fight? GO TO 9. Otherwise, you could try to sneak past. GO TO 7.

3

run strAiGht throuGh

The noise of hurrying feet will immediately alert the Alien, but you might get lucky. Isolation’s reliance on procedural generation means that surprisingly few strategies equate to an instant failure. Still, consider this a last resort. GO TO 7.

5

enter A vent

Yes, this doesn’t turn out well in the film, but once the Alien’s abroad at groundlevel, it should be safe enough. Unless the Alien decides to take a shortcut, or notices the vent opening. Do you take the first exit (GO TO 4) or the second (GO TO 9)?

WWW.TOTAlXBOX.COM


mako returns in mass effect Xbox one

the first game’s infamously bouncy vehicle returns (sans weapons) as part of a game that’s more about exploration than its predecessors. We look forward to our first boost-jump.

6

creAte A diversion

You could experiment with using the circle of light from your torch to distract the Alien, as you would a cat. it’ll quickly start wondering about the source of the beam, though. it could be safer to throw a flare (GO TO 14) or place a noisemaker (GO TO 15).

7

try to sneAk pAst

NPCs have view cones, though these obviously aren’t displayed on your motion tracker. “You gradually learn the range at which you’re safe,” says Napper. Hey, here’s an automatic door. Do you go through it (GO TO 9) or into a vent (GO TO 5)?

8

hide in A floor cAbinet

if the Alien peers through the slit, pull back using the stick and pray that your breath doesn’t run out before it loses interest. Don’t exit immediately, even when it does – the Alien might decide to take another look. Once you leave, GO TO 6.

9

Alien Alerted And in pursuit

Go to 10, 11, 12 or 13

it 10 fend off With A flAmethroWer or molotovs

fire won’t damage the Alien, but it’ll deter it. Napper suggests “pulsing” the flame while backing towards the objective. GO TO 15.

@OXM

line 11 breAk of siGht

Ducking into a sidechamber, then into a floor cabinet, might buy you time to plot your next move. Of course, if the Alien sees you run, it’s bound to search every hiding space in the vicinity… GO TO 8.

toWArds 12 run other humAns

if they shoot at it, the Alien might decide to eat them first, allowing you to get behind it, run for a vent or locker, or just cower beneath a trolley, muttering, till the creature puts you out of your misery. GO TO 11.

it 13 shoot Ha ha. Oh wait, you

were serious? Hope you taste nice. GO TO 14.

14 deAth Do take a moment

to enjoy those first-person execution sequences – our favorite has to be being stabbed through the chest from behind.

the 15 reAched obJective

Congratulations! There’s hope for humanity yet.

How to speAk Developer

your guide to translating those interview gems “We’re excited to finally be able to show it to you.”

After six months crunching towards this dev milestone, you’re lucky i can exhibit a faint facsimile of human warmth, let alone excitement. my children don’t recognize me anymore.

“We’ve tried to be as authentic as possible...”

…to the experience of slow-motion Qte knifefights with serbian megalomaniac spaceterrorists who command legion upon legion of suicidal paramilitary goons, all voiced by John dimaggio.

“We think that the game is a landmark in the fantasy genre.”

in the end we said, 'darn it, let’s just do elves again.'

“We think that the game is a landmark in the dark fantasy genre.” in the end we said, 'darn it, let’s just do elves again. but with their tops off.'

THE OffiCiAl XBOX MAGAziNE / 19

eAster egg The Nostromo from Alien was originally named the “Snark”. The film was also originally titled “Star Beast”.

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daShBoaRd

the Big piCtuRe. one image, all the info Sim Ship

Rogue’s naval warfare offers new capacity for mayhem. You can blow up icebergs to create terrain hazards for other vessels, leave burning oil in your wake, and deploy the rapid-firing puckle gun.

WinteR WondeRland

Rogue takes us to the arctic Circle – a chance for aC3’s real-time deformable snowy terrain to mount a triumphant return. expect a beautiful lightshow, too, as the aurora Borealis sweeps across the sky.

Tale of Two Creeds Xbox One gets Assassin’s Creed Unity this holiday; now Xbox 360 is getting Assassin’s Creed Rogue what’s the story?

The game formerly known as Comet is a prequel, set between the third and fourth games, and continues their enjoyable dalliance with open-world naval action. Your new hero is Irish bounty hunter Shay Patrick Cormac – a former Assassin who now works for the Templars following some undivulged betrayal.

20 / The OffICIAl XbOX mAGAzIne

why should I care?

It means Ubisoft can build on the sailing mechanics and water physics that were AC4’s most celebrated features, while pushing the series in a resolutely landbound and co-op friendly direction with Unity. It’s also another opportunity to play as one of the bad guys, using tools and tactics the Assassins might avoid.

what happens next?

Given that that the once PSPexclusive AC3: Liberation made its way to Xbox 360, we suspect this will probably end up on Xbox One too, although a rep told us that “it’s too early to say” if that will happen. It might also be a step towards Ubisoft doing a proper nautical series spin-off, alongside the main franchise.

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The division beta is likely

“We’re not ready to talk about that yet, but we’re an online game so we want to make sure it works when it comes out”, an ubisoft massive rep has hinted.

Uppers & downers this month’s temperature, taken

What’S hot?

1

eagle eYed

Shay can use the franchise’s trademark eagle Vision to pick out targets. this is more important now than ever, because crowds may hide vengeful members of the assassin brotherhood.

neW neW YoRk

the Big apple reappears in Rogue, but it won’t be exactly the same – it’s been rebuilt extensively following the great fire of 1776, which destroyed between 400-1,000 buildings, including trinity Church.

desTIny

The beta was brilliant and generally bugfree. we can’t wait to visit mars – there’s a dead warmind beneath the surface.

2 alIen: IsolaTIon

we need someone to play this while we hide behind the couch. Applications by staticky interstellar transmission only.

3 Mass effeCT XboX one

They’re bringing the mako back, as part of a bigger focus on exploration. no gun this time, bouncy tires unconfirmed.

4 abyss odyssey

gun ShoW

Solo onlY

Rogue doesn’t support multiplayer of any kind, and unity only offers co-op. ubi montreal’s alexandre amancio feels that “sharing”, not competition, is the keyword for online play this generation.

@OXm

Shay isn’t as heavily laden with pistols as the last game’s edward kenway, but he does own a rifle with a variety of special ammo. You can use this to distract or confuse enemies as well as to kill them.

//it takes place between the events of the third and fourth games//

A bit like Spelunky, a bit like Dark Souls, and a bit like an art nouveau portrait? If we had moustaches, we’d stroke them.

What’S not?

1 saCred 3

The summer lull can’t excuse the mediocrity of this fantasy. At best, it doesn’t take up too much of your time.

2 TIMesplITTers 4

Developers keep talking about wanting to make it. So make it, please. enough monkey business. The OffICIAl XbOX mAGAzIne / 21


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dasHboaRd

updates – new info on tHe big games Hey, who brought a plane? that’s not in the rulebook.

update

Publisher UbisOft / DeveloPer ivOry tOwer/UbisOft reflectiOns / FormaT XbOX One/XbOX 360 / eTa nOv 11

The Crew

Ubisoft’s coast-to-coast car MMO drives on to Xbox 360 isn’t this just burnout Paradise 2?

how deep is the customization?

‘Diablo Kart’ is closer. this looks like a criterion game, but it’s more preoccupied with loot – every mission pays out in XP, cash, and car parts. Oh, and The Crew is much bigger, though its version of America has been artfully squashed down. so artfully, in fact, that Ubisoft is now releasing it on Xbox 360.

there are five unlockable specs per car, each tuned for different conditions. within that, you’ve got 20 different customization areas, 11 of which affect performance. it’s nowhere near as intricate as a proper sim, but it strikes a good balance between letting you tinker and allowing you to get the heck on with the racing.

22 / tHe OfficiAl XbOX MAgAzine

what about perks? bought with Perk Points, these are effectively magic spells with a variety of nicely thoughtout effects. you could, for instance, equip a perk that doubles the amount of cash you earn per race, one that colors the racing line to indicate how fast you should take a corner, or one that lets you repair your car anywhere for a premium fee.

is it easy to get a match going?

is the world itself interesting?

Ubisoft has gotten good at burying multiplayer just beneath the surface, so you can dip into matches while exploring. for instance, when starting a race you can send an invite to nearby players. it’s possible to fast-travel to mission startpoints by zooming out to a wispy satellite view, then down to a street corner.

it’s home to a dazzling variety of terrain types and landmarks, from sprawling florida beaches through the dingy cosmos of Detroit’s night life to the Hoover Dam. Many furnishings are destructible, and the cars are tough, so taking your eyes off the road in order to drink in the sights isn’t necessarily lethal.

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update

the inclusion of cockpit view is impressive given the size of the world.

if you build it, they will come and run away with all of your fuel sources.

Publisher 505 gAMes / DeveloPer HiDDen PAtH entertAinMent FormaT XbOX One / eTa sePt 2014

DeFense GriD 2

One of XblA’s towering successes gets an Xbox One follow-up

i didn’t buy an Xbox one for tower defense.

Oh, go on. After several iPhone generations’ worth of hot, turret-based attrition, we’re sure you can manage another 21 levels, especially given that some of them now evolve as the match goes on. Hidden Path’s first Xbox One game brings back the original’s staple gun, inferno, and laser towers, plus its signature corecollecting dynamic. Aliens must track back across the level with their prizes – intercept them, and the cores will drift back to your base under their own power.

so what’s new?

for starters, you can now alter the path taken by attackers by placing boost towers to hem them in.

the trade-off is that boost towers don’t actually deal damage, though they can serve as a foundation for other towers, providing you have cash to spare. in what could be a genre first, on consoles at least, there’s also a competitive multiplayer mode.

versus play in tower defense? really?

Oh yes. Players fight the aliens side by side on separate maps. the more xenos you blast, the more enemies the other player will have to fend off. if somebody’s beating you on a regular basis, consider viewing and learning from their performance in the Xbox live cloud, or teaming up for a bit of same-screen or online co-op.

it’s a rough gig, being an alien. if we were them, we’d find an air vent to hide in. @OXM

tHe OfficiAl XbOX MAgAzine / 23


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dashboaRd

updates – neW info on the big games among the division’s factions are the purist Cleaners. they think the best medicine is fire.

update

Publisher UbisofT / DeveloPer Massive enTerTainMenT / FormaT XboX one / eTa 2015

The Division

Despite the delay, this fusion of Tom Clancy and 28 Days Later still excites i don’t like mmos.

Don’t worry, this isn’t an MMo – it’s just an ‘online’ game with ‘multiplayer’ elements for a ‘massive’ population of players. Kind of like World of Warcraft, you say? nonsense. since when has WoW offered missions you can play in groups, or trading posts, or factions, or distinct zones for player-versusplayer combat? enough of your lunatic comparisons.

i don’t like sarcasm either.

okay, so The Division is kind of an MMo, but it’s no dry exercise in auto-attacking and ability cooldown. it’s closest to Destiny, a game of small, intense firefights waged on tightly laid-out maps. in terms of Clancy games, the nearest parallel could be Ghost Recon – the new York setting and holographic HUD call to mind Future Soldier.

any bases you claim may eventually fall prey to the plague. Keep it clean in there. 24 / THe offiCiaL XboX Magazine

What about the orange holograms?

Those are echoes. They’re simulations of the past generated from CCTv footage, phone records, and so forth, which may be key to unlocking or completing quests. They also supply the game with an emotional resonance – you’ll spot the shades of missing persons, waiting for subway trains that have long since departed.

seems quite profound for a tech thriller.

The Division can be quite pensive for a game that can’t go five minutes without deploying a self-guided flashbang or pocket-sized flamethrower turret. Your job as an agent of The Division is both to contain the outbreak and reclaim the past – propping up old government facilities, rifling through gutted libraries for clues.

We’ve seen plenty of street-level action – you’ll also get to scale buildings.

Would sam Fisher approve?

it would probably go right over his dumb bullet head, but we appreciate the departure from standard Tom Clancy operating procedure regardless. it’s nice to play a game in this universe that’s notionally about saving society, rather than bringing the hammer down on an anonymous Middle eastern nation. There’s also a sense of vulnerability that is sort of new to Clancy: players will get their hands on gadgets that would make fisher apoplectic with envy, but the setting is so vast and incoherent that it’s hard not to feel oppressed. or if you prefer, humble. Here’s another comparison to chew on – State of Decay, in which weary survivors try to carve out a niche in a world that no longer wants them. www.ToTaLXboX.CoM


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Messages

love letters, death threats, and some stuff about games… your comments on the mag and on xbox

CONTACT US f facebook.com/oxmonline t @oxm e oxm@futurenet.com w totalxbox.com yt youtube.com/officialxboxmag

T

he sky has been blue around Fortress OXM recently, which presents a problem. We want the kiss of sunshine on our translucent skin, but there are these pages to fill. Our solution: Get the stuff you send us, throw it over the pages, and go to the park. Bye!

Star

Letter

Prize: fighter Within on Xbox one The best piece of correspondence wins a game from Jon’s goody bag

huB WorLd

The framework of the Master Chief Collection interface is an amazing piece of technology. It would be great to see Halo 5 implemented into this system. Think how neat it would be to have one hub as the foundation of every Halo game, with easy access to all multiplayer. Colton Westbrooks There is something appealing about on-the-fly remixes of entire series. Imagine being able to tackle every Gears of War boss, watch every unexpected death in Final Fantasy, or play a team in Madden made up of 11 Barry Sanders iterations. But there’s a good reason no one’s done it – it’s hard work. Even Halo 5 seems a long shot, sadly.

Marcus has seen it all – including how his series has changed over the years.

Ground down

While I found a lot of things wrong with Gears of War 3 (plot, pacing, lack of character or story development, more unanswered questions than a political debate), one of the biggest was the lack of challenge. The switch from two-player co-op to four changed it from a game that could give you a hard time to one where I played the whole first act on the hardest setting and only fired my weapon during the Leviathan fight. I didn’t carry on the experiment because I got bored. Given that GoW: Judgment was a rotten score chaser, the series needs Black Tusk to go back to the well and pull out some water that hasn’t already passed through someone. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Steve Hester It sounds as if you haven’t had fun with Gears for a while, Steve – perhaps new director Rod Fergusson’s words to us on the series’ new-gen bow will give you some cheer. As he puts it, it’s about “managing betrayal”, working out how far to push new ideas without angering fans: “I’ve given multiple speeches to the

from the mouthS of totALXBoX.Com Excerpted comments from our website 26 / ThE offIcIal xBox magazInE

team like, ‘Here are the things that won’t be changing and here are opportunities for us to innovate.’” The (gross) well you described is by no means dry.

Soccer strain

I’m an avid reader and a FIFA fan. I read your preview of this year’s edition and left disappointed. You spoke about graphical changes that don’t bother me compared to actual gameplay. While the smarter AI is nice, I want to see a significant improvement for once. Jude Stafford Some of us would be inclined to agree, Jude. FIFA’s not showing any interest in changing its (admittedly excellent) formula for new-gen. But have you considered Pro Evo? Last year’s edition was shaky, but we haven’t felt so unfamiliar with a soccer game for many years. With the FOX Engine on the new edition, it could be a revelation.

Pocket problems

Xbox’s two main rivals, Nintendo and PlayStation, are tackling the portable gaming market with the 3DS and PlayStation Vita. But where’s Xbox? I’m sad, as DA:I is my most anticipated game of 2014. But if BioWare needs more time, give them all they need to make it a fantastic experience. maximilian9018 is feeling sanguine WWW.ToTalxBox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net Why is there no portable Microsoft games console? Please let me know. Stephen McAteer It’s less a question of not tackling the portable market, more how Microsoft does so. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has said he thinks the company will focus on phones and tablets rather than dedicated hardware – given smartphones and tablets are selling well, and Vitas really aren’t, it’s not hard to see why.

War is over

I never understood console wars. They’ve always seemed pointless. If you go to a high school, the classroom is split by Xbox One and PS4 fanboys arguing over a slight graphical increase and slightly better exclusives. I’ve enjoyed video games for years and I don’t remember such zealously devoted fans for either console. This goes for games too. I recently purchased Watch Dogs, a game I was excited for. Now everyone says it was overhyped and rubbish. I enjoyed my experience and was confused – why can’t people have fun with the game for what it is? I still see Facebook friends talking about how Microsoft

Does format really make a significant difference to games these days?

Call of Duty complainers need to be disconnected from the internet, first ya’ll people be like, “focUS on mUlTIPlaYER,” now you like “focUS on camPaIgn!” Aaron Jepin

It can be hard to see, but we’d say console wars have improved – some of us witnessed near-murders in our Nintendo vs. Sega youth. We’ll never get rid of tribalism when it comes to the expensive trinkets we buy – it’s about managing how you react to others’ comments.

//I played the whole first act of Gears of War 3 and only fired my weapon once//

Sledgehammer’s “revolutionary” multiplayer: The oxm forum responds all I can think when reading this is how many menus and upgrade trees they are going to be adding. the Kull

Wanna change the combat up a lot? Turn it into a kart racer. Silentdark

@oxm

I hate horror. I cannot wait for this. Dead Space scared me to death, I’m sure this will do an even better job! Alien: Isolation is already giving GhoStY05 the willies

Destiny looks good on both 360 and xbox one because it’s Bungie. If challenged to run this on Dreamcast they could pull it off. Props to them for not short-changing the older platforms. matthew Watkins Ryse was great, for the length, and the arena stuff was fun with a friend, but a second playthrough – especially at highest difficulty – felt repetitive. Kurtiss Keefner many new games are pushed back but they are usually better than before. Dragon Age: Inquisition will be more awesome than before for the delay! (We can’t do anything about it anyway lol) Pauline Lee

Basically what he’s saying is they’re doing what Pc arena shooters were doing 15 years ago. metalrodent

So long as there are oversized, drug-abusing enemies, I don’t care which Joker they use. fishyGinger has simple requests for Batman: Arkham Knight

Your best/least libelous Twitter and facebook replies We need a Gears of War hD collection so xbox one players can catch up on the story. The new entry won’t come out for years. Jack debbage

will spy on you with the camera and Ubisoft has betrayed its fans. I hope in time people will see both consoles are excellent and most games are fun, no matter how hyped they are. I fear this utopian future is one I’ll never see. Louis Blair

The Annotated… Call of duty: Advanced Warfare classic example of taking an idea which has already been done (Bulletstorm and Titanfall) and marketing it. decent Jam

Social Services

It’s the first CoD I’m interested in for a long time. Perhaps I’ll be surprised. maximilian9018

I would love a platformer where Kinect takes a picture of your face and pins it to the main character. Steve4gears describes tony hawk’s underground

I stopped playing Titanfall months ago. It is a good game, but I maxed out rank in 2 weeks. Respawn needs to add ranks, not currency. techno fabulous Halo: Nightfall – typical angry white suburbanites upset because the lead character they thought was white is really black… oh no!!! first nick fury, and now this… Shawn rogers

ThE offIcIal xBox magazInE / 27


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Hollywood Kills 28 / the official xbox magazine

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net De a D ISL a ND 2

Yager came, saw, and conquered Dead island. now, in an extensive hands-on, we see how the Spec ops: the line developer is trading feelings for fun

d

ead Island 2’s producer, michael Kempson, sums up the storyline of his game: “Some people left california – but a lot of people stayed because they’re like, ‘zombies are coming – let’s do this.’” compared to techland’s often overwrought originals, it’s fair to say that Yager has a relatively different narrative philosophy at work. You only need compare the games’ respective introductory trailers to spot the difference. the original Dead Island introduced itself with three minutes of such keen misery that the game itself – for all its characters’ pathos-laden backstories and nPc screams – could never quite keep up. Dead Island 2 features helicopter explosions, upbeat rock, and Jack black impersonators, set in a technicolor Venice beach that looks more Speed Racer than Night of the Living Dead. it might never have been so. “the original pitch had a much heavier tone to it, narratively,” explains Kempson. “basically, we’d just made Spec Ops: The Line, and The Walking Dead at that time was super-popular. it was a wellrounded pitch in its own right, and we all agreed it was a good place to start. that’s when we began to take it all apart again. we played Dead @oxm

Island more, talked to Deep Silver, and iterated, and we were like, ‘okay, all this brown Walking Dead stuff, that’s got to go; stick with the bright and beautiful.’ and then we just started exploring first-person and melee combat, because we’ve never done that before. when we started, we saw things that looked really funny – we started seeing weird physics, chopping things in half, and it all got crazy. but when we tried to marry that with a Walking Dead/ Spec Ops story, it didn’t really swim together. it just didn’t feel right, so we went, ‘okay, let’s embrace the carnage, embrace the fun.’”

A bug’s life

that embrace continues well past the design document stage. in our time with the current pre-alpha build, Kempson specifically asks us to point out any odd physics glitches – not because they need to be addressed, but in case they can be turned into final game features. (for what it’s worth, we saw another player periodically dip into solid ground like some bizarre homage to ‘90s cartoon Street Sharks, avoiding attacks in the process, but we’re not sure that one will make it.) it might sound as though Yager – which has, after all, nabbed the license from its creator – is ignoring the heritage of its adopted series, the official xbox magazine / 29


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World’s Apart

the La Valley area we played is a riot of blues, oranges and, pretty soon, gloopy reds. It’s like Sega had a psychotic break.

Dead Island 2 won’t be so much an open world as open worlds. As Kempson explains: “We’ve got areas that you travel between. California’s a scarily vast bit of geography – I’ve talked to guys based out there before, based in San Francisco. They’re like, ‘Yeah, we go to the beach, maybe an hour out of the city, and then we do another two hours of driving and go snowboarding, then we go across the bridge and we go hiking in the woods.’ So that’s another good reason to pick California - there aren’t many places in the world quite like that.”

30 / the official xbox magazine

aiming for the action-comedy sweet spot we’ve seen from the likes of Dead Rising 3 and Sunset Overdrive. but that’s to ignore what Yager sees as techland’s real triumph: “whether we were meant to or not,” says Kempson, “we liked the silliness of it.” talking to the team, the consistent through line is that everyone at Yager loves the original for what it allowed them to do, rather than what it failed to do on its own terms. Kempson boils that approach down to some key facets: “it had two really great things going for it. a very good melee system – and kudos to anyone, in particular techland, for being able to do that because, as we found out, it’s super, super hard to do. and the online was super-friendly – you just turned it on, you’d get a wee little icon in the corner with the D-pad, go ‘oh, so-and-so’s online’, press Up, then they’re next to you.” it resulted in a game that Yager’s staff found themselves playing

more than any of its contemporaries – so when it came to making their own edition, they knew just where they wanted to take it. the result, even at this early stage, is a distillation of those two facets. the focus on melee combat is clear – Yager’s time spent making ranged weaponry for Spec Ops shines through in guns that feel far more satisfying than Dead Island has mustered previously (governed, perhaps, by a poster given pride of place in one of the office’s biggest rooms, reading “Don’t underestimate the simple joys of blasting zombies with shotguns”), but you’ll find yourself getting up close more often than not. where the originals allowed for some measure of reactivity, as oars broke creaking limbs and machetes parted necrotic flesh, it was always a numbers game, with stats beneath every slice. Yager seems happier to let you play for the sake of it. learning how your character chooses to swing their

“the original pitch had a much heavier tone to it, but it just didn’t feel right”

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worldmags.net worldmags.net De a D ISL a ND 2

Zombie classes, previously Dead Island’s main stock-in-trade, are now secondary to which class you yourself pick.

chosen ax lets you play “monty Python black Knight” with slower Shamblers, and grabbing the soon-to-be-iconic homestrike – a baseball bat with a bowling ball chained to the top – and hitting Y for a strong attack sends zombies (barring the returning thug minibosses, now delightfully fond of “world’s best Dad” t-shirts) careening up and away in blood-dripping arcs.

dead ahead

beyond the simple pleasures of pugilism lies a more complex set of systems. all weapons now offer two mod slots, one for what the developers call “handling” (everything from swing speed to the type of damage dealt) and another for RPg-alike status effects – the demo we played offered up a shotgun capable of electrocuting enemies with a single fleck of flak (particularly useful against swarms of Danny boyle-indebted Runners) and a fire ax with a blowtorch duct-taped to the front, giving it a pleasingly literal effect. it becomes more interesting when you take into account the new ability to dual-wield. @oxm

handed a wrench that froze zombies into grotesque statues on impact, and a pistol that caused targets to emit smoking, purple pheromones, we quickly worked out that freezing one zombie, then hitting them with a mind-altering slug turned them into pilgrimage points for entire streets-worth of walking corpses – at which point we could simply sling a hissing gas canister into the center of the throng as an efficient disposal method. this modular, interlocking style comes directly out of a new approach at development level. with xbox one power at its disposal, Dead Island 2 now generates zombies from a huge palette of rotting body parts and ragged clothing (the heads are drawn from face scans, meaning a very early version of the game was populated entirely with grotesque versions of Yager’s art director), item placement, and even full house layouts upon loading. technical director

“guns feel far more satisfying than the game has mustered previously” the Berserker is a dab hand with blunt two-handers – not least when he unleashes his rampaging fury special move.

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We’re yet to see any usable vehicles, but the sheer size of the area Yager promises means we’d expect them to turn up.

Office Party

We take you on a quick trip around yager’s berlin headquarters

Yager’s segmented office is nonetheless designed to be modular – no one has a set desk, and different roles needing to work together will physically sit with one another in order to get a particular piece of design finished efficiently.

The increased power of Xbox One means Yager can include full face-scans for its zombies – so it created its own purpose-built photo studio. Currently the game’s populated by staff members; the studio’s hoping to include gamers in the finished version too.

Concept art has become a huge part of the design process. That the game is playable so early in development means that concepts can be created, approved, and instituted in a far shorter time than would previously have been possible.

There is a cat in the game – it’s called Rick Furry and belongs to Max, your RV-driving ersatz narrator. Yager is clearly very proud of that – at least going by the fact that Rick Furry adorns posters, and his mo-capped walk-cycles cover many screens. 32 / the official xbox magazine

andré Dittrich explains just how far that runtime generation can go: “it’s not only parts that are changed, there are things that are numerically tweakable. So one very easy-tounderstand example is the length of a t-shirt or the pants: we can actually shorten and lengthen them absolutely fluidly, as we want. basically we gave ourselves a foundation that allows us almost infinite variety, and now you can essentially pick and choose and say, ‘what is a variety that players can actually see?”

Trial and error

the diversity isn’t quite on the scale of a roguelike – the open world environments and quest placement remain static – but it gives the game an unpredictability that others simply can’t handle at a programming level. and that helps with the development process. this pre-alpha build is pulling the same trick with its inventory – the wrench-and-pistol combo we’ve been given was created at the whim of a sophisticated random number generator. it’s allowed playtesting to become part of the daily process at Yager, cutting out much of the theoretical side of game design in favor of actual trial, error, and happy accident. “even on a prototype level, that is true; Dead Island 2 actually started on Unreal engine 3

because Unreal 4 wasn’t yet available,” says Dittrich. “we actually had a pretty much working game in Unreal engine 3 already, and that allowed our level designers to play and toss around ideas. there’s stuff in the current game that’s just straight out of that. what we learnt there is that even prototypes need to be built in a way that allows our content people to play with them and start changing things. configurability and exchangeability is important.” that commitment to the act of playing what amounts to a functional game constantly is what makes Dead Island 2 fascinating even at this stage – and it fits perfectly with Yager’s reasoning behind taking it on as a project in the first place. Dead Island’s popularity in the office was primarily down to its multiplayer element’s ease of access – the speed at which you could play, and then play together. after nailing immediate playability, multiplayer became the team’s true focus – and primarily how to make it even more impressive for the sequel. “Dead Island was four players,” explains Kempson, “and when we were looking at that online aspect of it for pre-production we thought, ‘okay, we need to iterate on that.’ but they did such a good job. how are you going to make that better? then suddenly www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net Pro tip: use a pheromone weapon to lure a crowd into that gas station, then blast a pump with a pump action. Glorious.

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every building is explorable, and shops like this are rammed with loot ripe to be turned into weapon mods.

microsoft turns up with a new console and says, ‘cloud-based servers, always-online!’ So we immediately looked at that – we’d already decided it was going to be open-world, but with four players? would i see another guy? we thought we could conceivably take it up to eight at least, and we progressively increased the player numbers until we got there, where it was kind of like, ‘okay, now we’re actually running into people a lot’. for us, that seemed to make the most sense in how we progressed with the online – make a seamless, bigger open world, and more players.”

“it made sense to create a bigger, open World With more players”

separate, together

in practise, we played with just four players in a small section of the gigantic swath of the hollywood hills Yager is working on, but it gave some sense of the thrust of the game. with a couple of ambient objectives to complete – collecting the parts for both electrical@oxm

the Huntress wasn’t playable in our demo, but she seems to be the only class built for ranged combat.

and flame-based weapon mods – we were dropped into a filling station car park and left to work out what we wanted to do. two players set off together into a nearby diner, while we and another split up and headed into separate, swimming pool-equipped mansions of la suburban dreams. this “separate, together” approach is very much the point. as Dittrich explains, “when we say we’ll do a co-op game, what we mean is that our game is offering you the choice, on a minute-to-minute basis, whether you want to play co-op or not. if two playstyles don’t match, they don’t match. there’s nothing you can do about that. but what you can do is make sure that neither spoils the experience of the other. Realizing that was the moment when we thought, ‘okay, how do we need to change all of our quest systems, all of our loot systems, spawning, and everything to accommodate that?’ So, at any given point, anyone could join a server and have fun on their own, and then somebody comes around the corner and you’re playing together for a while – if it’s really fun then you stay together, if not you part ways.” that’s not to say the game doesn’t provide compelling reasons to work together. for instance, one ambient event saw a precious electrical generator come under threat the official xbox magazine / 33


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every zombie can injure you with ease – but you can clear out entire crowds in seconds. It’s a fair(ish) fight.

the Bishop is easily the most stylish class, as fond of a Molotov as he is “clergy chic” clothing.

from a local crowd of the walking dead. Setting off an alert and a map marker for everyone in-game, the refreshingly relaxing hack ‘n’ slash atmosphere suddenly became a desperate run for the objective, followed by Yager’s own take on horde mode, as all four players (often literally) batted off the danger.

dead mainland

it’s by no means clear whether those events are entirely story-based, or even whether there will be much of a storyline at all. Kempson’s blasé about the wider events – conveniently sidestepping the fact that the californian setting is, in no real sense, an island: “the virus was in banoi, and that was quite tragic – ‘oh, don’t let the virus out, we’ve got to get out of here.’ but despite their best efforts, it got to the mainland, it’s hit california. but people already watched the news about banoi anyway, so they were already kind of, ‘oh, there are zombies now, we need stuff to deal with that’. those are most of the survivors you find around in our open world – the survivors are more kind of, ‘we didn’t run away and get stuck, no, we’re just staying at our house because we like it here, and now there are zombies.’” it’s a setting that allows for maximum player expression, and the four character 34 / the official xbox magazine

classes, berserker (your classic lunk, built for power), Speeder (uses machetes and a quickkill special attack for speedy disposal), huntress (better built for ranged combat than the others), and bishop (a mobaesque support stand-in fond of area-of-effect attacks) prove that approach. where Dead Island sought to make your character a relatable human, its sequel opts for pure escapism: “they’re these celebrities of this microcosmic zombie world in california,” says Kempson. “there’ll be stuff you can find out about them, but how we portray that to people, we haven’t completely decided on. it depends on how interested they are and what value they get from it. the important thing for us is to be really clear on the gameplay side of it – we have class titles, not regular names, because that’s the most important thing for us to put forward. You’re not going

to learn how you play this game if you know that this young lady, i don’t know, escaped a family in georgia who had been attacked by zombies, and made her way with nothing but a crossbow. that doesn’t add anything to your gameplay, it’s not telling you much about how she’s going to handle, what she’s going to do. looking back at Dead Island, people didn’t pick Sam b because, ‘oh i’ve always fantasized about being a rapper on a tropical island during my own party.’ that’s not their narrative dream – but they like being a tank that can just bust things up.” there’s an honesty to the way Yager talks about the game – a total lack of pretense about what it’s trying to achieve. of course, that could backfire – if the world’s too distant and the goals too abstract, you might not feel enough engagement in the act of treating zombie skulls like oversized golf balls – but the focus on play above all else is a surefire way to address the issues we had with the fiddly, sometimes simply broken techland versions. www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net Zombies can be lured into fighting one another, useful for escape and for illegal betting with co-op pals.

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DeaD

PrettY

tHe GaMe’S creatorS exPLaIN HoW tHeY’re MakING a rotteN WorLD Look freSHer tHaN eVer

“at Yager we’re big fans of Unreal engine – we worked with Unreal 3, we saw Unreal 4. we got to pitch for Dead Island 2, then Unreal 4 came along, then the next-gen consoles got announced, and that was too many different things to ignore to not do it.” kempson describes how the game came to be xbox one-only.

“People always ask us: ‘how do you go from Spec Ops to Dead Island, and does that mean we’re going to get the same narrative treatment?’ bemoans Kempson. “well… no. You couldn’t watch Apocalypse Now or read Heart of Darkness and go, ‘now let’s do this with zombies, and you shoot the zombies 60 feet into the air.’ You need to do the right thing for that game, and you can’t let anything get in the way of that. i think if you try to shoehorn a narrative in there, you’re only distracting people from what they’ve come to play for. when you’re invested in that moment, you’re probably not beating up zombies, you’re probably not online and you’re probably somewhere dark and depressing and you’re not on the beach, near palm trees.” it amounts to a twisted travel postcard – where the first Dead Island was a resort you’d never care to visit, the second’s an adults-only funfair. we’d invite you to start booking tickets now. ■

“You get a certain amount of realism, even though it’s not photorealism. ‘making it look believable’ is what we call it. You can do it in a way that makes the reusability of things a lot easier, and that’s one of the core principles that we need to have with a team of our size.” Dittrich reveals the balancing act between truth and beauty.

“yager’s focus is on gameplay above all else”

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the Speeder’s our favorite class so far, capable of using her special move to instantly gore a single target.

“People always ask, ‘are you going to Downtown?’ no. ‘why?’ it’s ugly! as soon as you have a setting that isn’t pretty, you immediately start thinking of depressing stories, and you don’t want to do that. we stay in the pretty areas.” kempson explains how Yager chose its sun-kissed locations.

“we’re using physical-based shading, which is something that Unreal 4 comes with. this allows us to define materials in such a way that you can place the same item in totally different lighting and game situations, and it will still work.” Dittrich preaches the power of new-gen tech.

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Into the WIld Words Paul Taylor

Polish developer CD Projekt Red is setting new standards with its utterly gorgeous, open-world fantasy RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. There’s just one problem…

t

he Witcher 3 is not an open-world game,” stresses CD Projekt Red’s Michał PlatkowGilewski. “It’s a story-driven game, the same as The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, but set in an open-world environment. We didn’t say, ‘Let’s do an open world and change everything.’ We still wanted to tell an epic story, but we were always missing one element – the open world.” Geralt of Rivia is the eponymous witcher, a monsterslayer with a hundred candles on his birthday cake, and the world he inhabits is CD P’s crowning glory. If you can see something on the horizon, you can go there, and the place is enormous: 35 times the size of The Witcher 2 and packing a developer-promised 100 hours of gameplay. Plus, there’s a day/night cycle that affects who – and more importantly, what – you’ll see, and how you’ll interact with them. “Our open world is just one element of the story, and it exists to make it fully immersive,” continues PlatkowGilewski. “The world also makes it possible for you to do one thing and then disappear to a totally different part, then come back and see what the consequences are of your earlier actions. That’s the story for us.” 36 / THE OffICIaL xbOx MaGazInE

“The open world was the consequence of the decision to tell our story,” chimes in visual effects artist Jose Teixeira. “The world isn’t the reason the story exists.”

the hunt begins

We’ve sketched out the story so far in a handy timeline over the page, but here are the hard-and-fast facts. Geralt is a mutated human, one of a dying breed of ultimate beast slayers. Despite his age, he’s faster and more agile than any human opponent, and carries two swords – one made from steel for human enemies and another made of silver, for the monsters. He’s also gifted with the power to cast spells, and consume potions and mutagens that are poisonous for regular humans but will enhance his abilities. However, some have negative side effects, and consuming too many can be toxic. If you’re worried about stepping into the skin of a character that’s already fully formed, don’t be. You still have a chance to make Geralt your own depending on the moral choices you make and the way you fight, and the changes you make are more than simply coloring in between the lines. In the six months after the end of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, war has taken over the land. Everyone’s tense as the invading army has stopped – no one knows what’s going WWW.TOTaLxbOx.COM


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the last title in the Witcher series takes Geralt into new territory and the game onto Xbox One.

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worldmags.net worldmags.net fe at ure to happen. The war has set new rules, redefining who’s in power and who’s left with nothing. Half of the world has almost been destroyed, and the other half is preparing to fight. In short, it’s the perfect entry point for people who have no idea what happened in The Witcher 2, while veterans will still revel in the lore and mystique. CD P hasn’t explained how it’ll fill in the background when you first load the game, but we’re betting on a short cinematic. Some of the characters in the game’s world will try to use the conflict for their own benefit – war always makes someone rich. as you explore, you’ll find some places are happier and more prosperous because of the strife. “a lot happened in terms of politics, and it makes our life a little bit easier in introducing newcomers to the story,” explains Platkow-Gilewski. “Right now we can do whatever we want, and we’re focusing on the girl from the prophecy. If you know Geralt, you’ll know that he’s always going to be involved in some kind of adventure. You will be a witcher here more than ever before.” That sounds kind of cryptic. “Well, it really means… you’re doomed.” The mysterious “girl from the prophecy”, the ashen-haired woman a few locals are worried about, is the focal point of our demo. Geralt is riding his horse into novigrad, a seaside town, and the landscape blooms into view. It’s hard to overstate how gorgeous the game looks, and even though there’s months of optimization ahead, it has the tantalizing feeling of a magnificent new-gen game, rather than one paying concessions to older hardware.

annoyingly, griffins are rather keen to keep their heads attached to their bodies.

open wide

Single- and double-storey stone buildings flank the streets, interspersed

a

WItCHer

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PrePare fOr tHe HuNt: We traCe GeraLt’s stOry baCk tHrOuGH tHe bOOks aND Games

38 / THE OffICIaL xbOx MaGazInE

with oak-framed structures. Children are playing games, fishermen work on their boats, and musicians are trying to earn some coin. The best open worlds are ones that feel as if they will continue to exist when you turn off the console, enticing you back in. for instance, the fishermen will leave in the mornings and only return at night with a full catch, different quests open up according to the time of day, and you don’t want to be caught under a full moon when werewolves are roaming. Much of the mission structure is familiar to anyone who’s played an RPG over the life of the xbox 360, as missions are rarely as straightforward as they seem. What begins as a simple fetch quest turns out to have multiple layers. In this demo, Geralt’s carrying a fearsome-looking griffin head, and

takes it to a nearby inn. He’s paying a debt to a man called Dijkstra, who ordered the griffin to be slain. With the dead eyes of the creature looking back at him, Dijkstra warns Geralt about the ashen-haired woman. She’s been seen with a creature called Johnny in a town called Velen, and Dijkstra urges the witcher to get there – and soon. The scene changes, as CD P uses a fast-travel option. The map comically pans down and down to Velen, showing off the sheer size of the land, and the miles of distance swap novigrad’s stony settlements for swampland with shacks. The locals here have decorated the outskirts with skulls of outlandish creatures, and mounted them on pikes. Geralt’s heightened senses highlight a red, glowing trail leading to the creature Johnny’s hideout. It’s the same sense

tIme early history

1173

Way back, thousands of years before the events of the books and games, the unnamed continent that makes up the Northern kingdoms and Nilfgaard was home to gnomes. Dwarves and elves came later, and humans didn’t turn up until the year 760-ish. No one knows where they came from, only that they came up the yaruga river in ships.

yeNNefer bOrN Only seen in flashbacks in the second game, Geralt’s sorceress lover was taken by the Wild Hunt. tHe WILD HuNt mysterious skeletal beings that kidnap humans. Led by the king of the Wild Hunt. Victims often return home without their memories.

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worldmags.net worldmags.net t He W ItCHer 3: W ILD HuNt the inventory screen has had some tweaks after complaints about the one in the second game.

The Last and the First

WHy yOu’LL NeeD tO keeP yOur XbOX 360 a LIttLe bIt LONGer While there’s a trend of last-gen games being given new-gen treatment, CD Projekt red has no plan to bring the Witcher 2: assassins of kings to Xbox One, despite the graphical advantage. “I think we should move on,” said michał PlatkowGilewski. “there was a oneyear gap between the PC and Xbox 360 versions, and the team had been working on the Witcher 2 for a long time. “I guess we’ve had enough of that. We want to prepare something new, something amazing and surprising, rather than working on the same thing. I know [making up-scaled cross-gen games] can be quite popular, but I don’t know if that’s the path for the Witcher.”

that can lead Geralt to a particular enemy – or warn the player when they’re about to find something far too strong for them. now in front of Johnny’s hideout, Geralt coaxes him out. from a distance, Johnny looks like a small, gray-skinned boy, albeit with yellow eyes the size of dinner plates. He’s lost his voice, but nods when Geralt asks about the ashen-haired woman. It’s clear Geralt’s not going to get much out of Johnny’s gesticulating, and offers to help get his voice back. Of course, this is fantasy, and the creature points to a ledge on the top of a brush-filled outcrop – his voice is an actual object, trapped in the reeds of a harpy nest. There’s no choice but to climb up and get it back. as he’s dashing across the swampy ground, Geralt’s set upon by a group of beasts. Some take a few punishing strikes before they’re put in the dirt, though sometimes he gets lucky and separates a head or limb from its torso in one powerful slice. The game doesn’t shy away from being gruesome, but it doesn’t revel in it or glorify it either. “Dismemberment is randomly generated,” says Platkow-Gilewski. “You’ll have an increased chance of [a one-hit kill] when you’re leveled up.”

“Dismemberment is ranDomly generateD” “Deal out a few particularly heavy bIows and there’s a good chance you’re going to dismember with his swords,” continues Teixeira. “We don’t have a predefined moment where you’re cutting off stuff. There are a few places where you can strike, and the game will modify to the swing. We can adjust what’s happening to the enemies according to what kind of animation is playing out.”

Blade ballet

While Geralt is going to dish out enormous amounts of damage, he’s not a brute of a character, but closer to a dancer. Mixing fantasies for a second, he’s more of an able-bodied Jaime Lannister than someone like The Hound. behind the scenes, there are 96 sequences of animation (“five times more animation sequences than The Witcher 2”) blended together, and Geralt’s also a keen defender, his body

1239

1262

1268

first Northern Wars begin. known as the Nilfgaard Wars among the peoples of the Northern kingdoms, this threedecade conflict is referred to often in the first two games. In the Witcher 3, the threat of a new war hangs over the lands. In 1268, the peace treaty of Cintra was signed, thanks to the Lodge of sorceresses.

battLe Of sODDeN HILL a cataclysmic battle at the tail end of the war, during which 14 mages were said to have been killed. triss merigold was erroneously counted among that number. triss is a boon companion to yennefer, capable of awesome magic. she had a fling with Geralt – what’ll happen now he has his memory back?

GeraLt Of rIVIa raised to hunt monsters as a Witcher. known as the White Wolf. mutilated as a child and junked up on secret mutagens, giving him superhuman abilities. Defends oppressed non-humans during a pogrom, and ends up dead and floating off in a boat… only to return sans memory for the first game.

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worldmags.net worldmags.net fe at ure contorting to bring his arms in as he defends. If someone is trying to hit you from above, he’ll adopt a different stance from when someone is trying to pierce you from the front. “We wanted people to feel like they’re the absolute master of the sword,” says Platkow-Gilewski. “We changed the pacing of the combat so it’s more personal. You possess strong or fast swings, but when you’re jumping between the enemies you’re totally in control of the fight. “The system’s been made more responsive than before, so it’s familiar for anyone who’s played The Witcher 2, but way better. You can swing, parry, then attack with your arm to lower your enemy’s shield, kick him so he drops the shield, then finish him.” Veterans will also be encouraged to know QTEs have been entirely dropped. People fresh to the series will need to decide how to approach a fight – whether to go straight into the fray or prepare themselves. “It’s rewarding to think about how to deal with a monster in the way a witcher would,” hints Platkow-Gilewski. “With the bigger monsters, you’ll gain knowledge of what you’re dealing with, and when you’re more experienced you’ll know their weak points. There are ways to find this information, even in a UI level, to make Geralt a truly effective monster slayer.” Observation and paying attention are key requirements for success. You’ll

have to think about the environment, where you are and what time it is. It’s even worth talking to the locals, or eavesdropping on conversations, to discover vulnerabilities. books and documents scattered throughout the land will give invaluable advice. “The combat is not punishing, but it is challenging,” says Teixeira. “You should take your time to explore and enjoy the world. There’s so much to see.” after finishing off the last of the swamp monsters, Geralt begins his climb up the hill. While he’d be outclassed by any number of assassins, he’s still more able-bodied than in previous games. Under a full sprint he’ll also vault over a low-lying fence, though there are no contextual animations. If you need to make him jump, you’ll have to hit the right button, and not expect the game to have him leaping over objects or parts of the scenery automatically.

Igni spells give a new meaning to the word “flamethrower”.

With the item in hand, Geralt brings it back down to Johnny who, it turns out, talks a bit like Oliver Twist’s foul-mouthed cousin. The boy leads Geralt to Gran, a kindly old woman with psychic powers who can point him in the right direction. To do so, however, Gran needs to invoke the spirit of the ladies of the tapestry, quite literally a trio woven into a fabric. Gran’s reluctant to help, but after a bit of sweet-talking (of sorts) from Johnny, Geralt learns of a dark force that’s spread its influence to a nearby village. He’s now acting on the behest of the tapestry women to take a vicious, blunt-looking dagger to the alderman of the cursed village. as he leaves, he’s set upon by more nasties. Rather than relying on his swords, Geralt flexes the beyond-human powers that add to his combat repertoire. anyone who’s played The Witcher 2 will recognize

Qtes have been entirely DroppeD from the game Geralt’s journey through the open world leads him to the Hunt.

the radial menu that gives access to Geralt’s magical ‘signs’. “You have different skills, like signs, such as Igni to burn enemies, or you can put them under mind control, or just throw them with a push-telekinesis area of effect,” says Platkow-Gilewski. “Then there are bombs to trap or freeze them. There are lots of possibilities, so you can be more tactical.” They’re utterly devastating, and glorious to look at. Up in swamp land, the dark power is persuading villagers to kill themselves

1273 tHe WItCHer beGINs While attempting to recover his memory in the fortress of kaer morhen, Geralt and his friends are attacked by a sorcerer looking for the dying witcher order’s secrets. With his memory still coming back only in fits and starts, we’re dripfed the details of Geralt’s previous life.

40 / THE OffICIaL xbOx MaGazInE

GraND Day Out During the first game (unfortunately only on PC), we travel with Geralt through temeria and Vizima in search of the leaders of salamandra. We manage to kill the Grand master and Geralt’s story begins to be told by Dandelion the minstrel.

DaNDeLION this roguish lute-plucking bard is responsible for the journal entries in the second game, a fantastic morphing web of narrative, which makes for cracking reading on its own.

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worldmags.net worldmags.net t He W ItCHer 3: W ILD HuNt beasts

Of

tHe fIeND early footage of this three-eyed beastie shows Geralt accosting it with Igni spells. It’s unclear if that succeeds, but those antlers would make a good trophy.

burDeN

tHe sIreN In water, they’re voluptuous mermaids. Out of the drink they morph into freakish flying foes. there are rumors in the books that sirens control the boateating kraken.

tHe LesHeN this looming forest spirit will keep respawning unless the human life it’s attached itself to is also extinguished. but what might the effect be for the remaining locals?

tHe ICe GIaNt this big dude from an intensely frosty island crafts his gear from chunks of ships wrecked on the craggy shores. Which is presumably where he got his brutal anchor flail weapon.

at a tree that whispers during the night. It’s a side effect of the war, which has awoken evil spirits, and Geralt’s asked to take care of it by the alderman after telling him about the ladies in the tapestry. after another skirmish in the swamps, Geralt’s soon face-to-face with the beast, a grotesque, pulsing heart that lies under the tree, and it offers Geralt another choice: Whether to set it free.

Choices, choices

The beast promises the witcher great powers, so he is faced with a classic RPG dilemma: Complete the task, or take a chance on the outcome for a greater personal advantage. In this playthrough, CD P decided to kill the beast that inhabited the Whispering Hillock, but not before the enormous heart could set a few minions on Geralt. beast dead, Geralt returns to the alderman, who thanks Geralt by taking the dagger from him, and with a weary “I know what must be done,” he cuts his own ear off. The ladies of the tapestry come to life and take a physical form, comprised of rags and baskets, and

LetHO WeaPON In his search for the assassin, Geralt ends up with some of his memory back, including details of the fate of his long-lost lover…

they’re jubilant to have another severed ear to add to their collection. What if Geralt had sided with the beast? Either way, he’s trying to find the ashen-haired woman, and it’s likely he would’ve got out of the deal somehow. However, choices are never black and white, and have unpredictable results. “We’re not doing ‘endings,’” explains Teixeira. “We have three epilogues with twelve variations, and 36 ‘world states’ that come from those. There are so many branching decisions that, when you reach the climax of the story, there’s a particular state you leave the world in.”

White Wolf confronts a general of the Hunt. Can you tell they’re not best buds?

tHe GrIffIN In medieval times, a griffin feather was said to restore sight to the blind. you’ll be tasked with chopping this eagle-lion’s head off and delivering it as payment.

It’s great time for fantasy RPGs, with a new Dragon Age, Dark Souls II and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor all begging for attention. With its stunning, gothic open world and gripping, weaving story, The Witcher 3 is ending the series on a high, and will make those other games sweat. CD Projekt Red has been working on the series for seven out of its 12 years, and there’s sadness for the team in saying goodbye to Geralt. It’s an understatement that the Polish studio is invested in the lore and the character. The team is putting everything into this because it’s baked into their ethos. They pride themselves on creating a game – and a studio – that attracts fans from all over the world. “I realized very soon after I started that people come from all over to work on The Witcher,” says Teixeira. “The amount of love for this game is crazy.” “The people who work at CD P are fans of The Witcher,” says Platkow-Gilewski, who grew up with the books the series is based on. When asked how the studio feels about the series wrapping up, he simply says, “We’ll cry.” ■

tHe WItCHer 3 beGINs six months after the end of the second game, the armies of Nilfgaard are invading the Northern kingdoms once more. meanwhile, Geralt is on the prowl for both the Wild Hunt and yennefer.

ready, aim, fire!

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worldmags.net worldmags.net PrevieW Weather effects are entirely ambient – cloud-watching becomes a legitimate tactic.

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www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrevieW

Forza Horizon 2 Publisher microsoft / DeveloPer Playground games / Format xbox 360 & xbox one

Hitting the road in the best driving game on Xbox

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o the untrained eye, Forza Horizon 2 looks like a racing game. It’s got fast cars. It contains a formalized system for deciding the fastest combination of car and driver over a specified distance. But it’s not a racing game, it’s a driving game. It just has racing in it. That was the main point of difference between the original Horizon and its progenitor, the Forza Motorsport series, and it’s even more pronounced this time around.

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That’s because Horizon 2 fulfills the social side of a road trip in a way the first game’s ghettoized multiplayer couldn’t manage. A mere click of a menu option and your local version of southern Europe is all but seamlessly synchronized with an online instance, featuring a clutch (sorry) of other players. The matchmaking and connections are handled as you drive and, once a game has been found, you only have to relinquish control for about five seconds for it to sort out the traffic, time of day, and weather. Suddenly, there’s a reason to drive slowly – cruising through idyllic

Bluffer’s Guide Forza’s cooler, more flamboyant cousin is back with more cars and a huge chunk of europe to throw them around – both on road and off.

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Ah, here it is. A screenshot of a ridiculously shiny red car. No Forza preview is complete without one. So glossy. Drivatars make their return from Forza 5, but in Horizon’s wide-open world, the quirks they pick up can be even more dramatic. Off-road, anyone?

As ever, supercars make up the high-end unlocks – but we’re more keen on the jalopies.

44 / the official xbox magazine

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrevieW Tuscan countryside with your friends, playing lazy games of cat and mouse in traffic, or even, if you can believe it, stopping entirely to admire each others’ tuning and paint shop handiwork. There’s a sense of identity and ownership in yours and other players’ vehicles that arguably hasn’t been seen since Test Drive Unlimited. Even if you’re not actively playing online, you’ll see your friends’ Drivatars rumble past as you explore the world. Just because the game encompasses the more leisurely side of driving doesn’t mean there isn’t a feeling of momentum. The Online Road Trip mode uses chaotic point-to-point chases to string together a series of four challenges. There’s a championship table at the end, but you’ll likely already have clicked through to start the next road trip, such is the pull of fooling around in fast cars on the open road. If even that’s too regimented for your liking, would sir or madam consider Online Freeroam? It’s populated with distractions, including team racing and co-op challenges, but how and when you get to them is entirely up to you. The Kudos-inspired skills system that tracks everything you do in the game returns, only this time you can compete live on any stretch of asphalt. Every single XP point you earn in single or multiplayer contributes to the same pool, so you’re not penalized for having a preference. Level up and you get to crank the handle on Forza Wheelspin, a game of chance that gives you the opportunity to win cash and even new cars. It’s designed to encourage experimentation with the game’s more diverse car list. With over 200 vehicles, the team at Playground Games has stripped out the 50 or so examples of circuitbred machinery from Forza 5, and swapped in rugged off-road weaponry and quirky oddities you’d never get in the Motorsport series. The only place you’d expect to see a VW Camper Van at the Nürburgring, for example, is parked by the side of the track. In Horizon 2, it perfectly encapsulates the road-trip vibe, particularly if you perform an engine and drivetrain swap with something more potent. Whatever you’re driving, you’ll likely want to join a Car Club. Not only does membership confer XP and cash bonuses, it’s the easiest way to find and interact with others who share your love of precision drifting, ’70s muscle cars or – yes, go on then – VW Camper @oxm

The vW Camper van doesn’t come with a Laurel Canyon acid-trip side-quest.

//To the untrained eye this looks

like a racing game. But it’s not. It’s a driving game. It just has racing in it// Van decoration. Clubs can be named, customized, and publicized, and there’ll be a noticeboard for organizing get-togethers. New Car Meets are the closest thing the game has to lobbies, offering a focal point for social activities, both in and outside of clubs. There you and your friends can loiter around your cars and talk about camber settings and drag coefficients to your hearts’ content. Or maybe that’s just us. In spite of all this multiplayer freedom, there are still moments of scripted spectacle for the solo player. Horizon’s Showcase Events were just

that – events that demonstrated the game at its most thrilling, including races against World War II fighter planes and hot-air balloons. They’re back for Horizon 2, with a few tweaks – only five challenges this time, but they’ll be less repetitive. We’re particularly enamored with the idea of a race against a steam train in a gaudy Lancia Fulvia rally car from the 1970s. It’s true Forza Horizon 2 has competition. Ubisoft’s The Crew aims to provide a similarly social racing experience, and boasts a larger playspace, in the shape of the United States of America. But what The Crew doesn’t have is Horizon 2’s expertly balanced handling, extensive and varied car list, and thumping soundtrack. It’s that combination of polish and personality that made the first Horizon a more intoxicating experience than its exacting, clinical sister title. Its offer of the ability to share a stylish, kinetic automotive party with your buddies at the tap of a button could make Forza Horizon 2 gaming’s greatest road trip. Adam Glick

eTA

seP 30

Metadata

ALSo By…

FOrzA HOrizON The first Horizon blew the cobwebs out of the Forza series with a 15ft speaker stack.

DirT 2 Playground Games was founded by guys who worked at Codemasters on Colin Mcrae DirT 2.

Songs of the open road

We’re gaga for Forza Horizon 2’s radio As in the first game, BBC Radio DJ Rob Da Bank will be curating the soundtrack. But this time it’s a more diverse spread of musical genres, with twice as many songs. Here’s what you’ll be seatdancing along to this year: Horizon Pulse (summery pop tunes) / Bass Arena (electronic, dance, and club) / Horizon XS (indie, alternative, rock) / Innovative Leisure Radio (LA-based indie garage rock) / Ninja Tune (experimental electronic music) / And more! the official xbox magazine / 45


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEviEw All-new puck physics mean totally different interactions.

Publisher EA / DeveloPer EA CAnAdA / Format XboX onE

NHL 15

A long-awaited new-gen title finally hits the ice Bluffer’s Guide

NHL 15 takes a big leap onto the Xbox One, with heaps of new features, and physics and presentation improvements.

H

ockey fans across the globe were crestfallen last year that the launch lineup for the Xbox One did not include an NHL title. A year later, and EA’s well-regarded franchise finally hits the new-generation ice. Will the wait be worth it? Initial hands-on impressions are positive. The entire presentation package is new, from a slick NBC Sports-based graphical overlay that surrounds everything to the introduction of announcers Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk as the commentary team. The duo has been filmed recording dozens of specific introductory sequences to be served up based on which matchup is selected, and the integration of their real-life personas at the start of each match

//Our opponent crashed

the net and got tangled up with the goaltender// 46 / thE offiCiAl XboX mAgAzinE

cranks up the immersion factor. Our session was filled with typical Emrick catchphrases and reactions to the on-ice action. After years of listening to Gary Thorne and Bill Clement, that helps to give NHL 15 a fresh feel. Of course, adding new commentary to a huge game like NHL gives rise to concern about repetitive phrases and limited reactions; something to watch for upon release.

Making a bang

ever-so-slightly slowed down pace produces a more realistic simulation of motion. Going for a big hit yields powerful collisions, but it’s readily apparent that – unlike in the past – both players are impacted by the force. No longer will you be able to wipe out an opponent and nab the puck in an instant. Judging the angle and speed of a check is more important than ever. There were plenty of moments during our hands-on time that stood out. At one point our opponent crashed the net in a valiant attempt to score, only to become tangled up with the goaltender. The collision caused the goalie to go spinning in one direction while the skater fell behind him, something never seen in previous versions. On another occasion, a forward and defenseman collided with each other and both wiped out; meanwhile, the puck caromed away off the boards then went rolling down the ice on its side while others chased after it. These admirable yet

ETA

SEP 9

New presentation and commentary is all well and good, but what matters most is how it plays on the ice. NHL 15 feels both familiar and surprisingly new. Long-time players will be comfortable immediately, as the core controls remain virtually the same; a good thing, as the intuitive stick-based mechanics have been recognized for years as among the best in the business. The difference on the Xbox One is in how the players move and interact with each other. Skaters have more weight and momentum, and the

www.totAlXboX.Com


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEviEw

Q&A

Sean Ramjagsingh

Metadata

nhl’s veteran producer opens up about making new-gen hockey work

tHe pRedictiON

s

ean ramjagsingh has been a producer for ea’s Nhl series for nearly a decade, so he’s been around the game development block. We chatted with him about Nhl 15 in New York City at an ea press event.

NHL 15 will deliver a lot of great moments in its Xbox One debut. However, the first title out of the gate for a new console always has bumps, and we suspect there will be fewer modes than we’re accustomed to. Also, the new physics may have some unexpected consequences.

subtle events give us the impression that – like the Xbox One versions of Madden and FIFA, for example – NHL 15 will reward players long after the heady days immediately following its release. With so much happening “under the covers” of the gameplay engine, it will take time to experience all that it has to offer. For the out-of-the-box experience, we’ll have the review next issue, or you can head online and read it right now at totalxbox.com. Rich Grisham

@oXm

The Xbox One hardware powers some beautiful crowds.

Was it the right decision to skip the Xbox one launch and wait until this year to bring Nhl to the console? Absolutely – especially because of the visuals. we worked very closely with the UFC team, who are on the same floor. we shared a lot of people pushing the boundaries and we were able to leverage a lot of that work to bring it over to NHL. without that there was probably no chance of getting where we got to in terms of the visuals. Regarding the technological issues of the new console, i think a lot of us are learning how to best use it –

and i think we got an advantage by not coming out last year. What has you most excited about Nhl 15? it’s gotta be the whole package; it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. with our games these days, if you have no presentation and your gameplay is good, it’s

process you see the gameplay taking strides, then you see the presentation moving forward fast too, then you see the authenticity and the arenas and the players doing the same thing, but it all has to be joined up at the end. So to see that happening is the most fulfilling part for me.

//You see each element

taking strides, but it all has to be joined up at the end// just kind of an average game. the whole lot has to come together. the things that we’ve focused on this year – the player models, the puck physics, the nbC integration and commentators that the fans have been asking for, and the ability to bring the arenas to life with the living worlds – everything coming together is the thing i’m most excited about. during the development

With the wait, does more demand come from fans to deliver a high quality experience? we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the game as good as we can, and all the hype coming out of E3 served as motivation to do more. we’re in the home stretch right now and putting in some long hours, each of which correlates to NHL 15 being a better game. it’s come a long, long way.

thE offiCiAl XboX mAgAzinE / 47


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEviEw Publisher Warner Bros / DeveloPer Techland / Format XBoX 360 & XBoX one

Dying Light

Darkness falls, and so will you if you mistime a jump

Bluffer’s Guide Scrounge for survival in a city where the zombies never sleep – they just get nastier at night time.

W

e can’t honestly say that the thought of another zombie game developed by Dead Island studio Techland initially filled us with much excitement. And, on paper at least, Dying Light sounds rather too similar. It’s first-person, it has a number of RPG elements, there are crowds of undead you’ll have to carve your way through in order to survive. So far, so boring. But there is a dim glimmer at the end of this funky-smelling tunnel. Dying Light is aware that it’s the latest in a long, long line of zombie survival games, and to combat that stigma, it’s introducing just enough new features into the mix to successfully pique our Metadata

BIg IDeA…

Survive the zombie apocalypse like you’re one of those cool freerunner dudes. And to think we used doors before – we’ve been playing these games wrong this whole time.

interest, despite its by-the-numbers zompocalypse formula. For starters, the game’s undead get more aggressive and more difficult to kill after the sun goes down. That would probably be a big problem for any normal human survivors, but here the player characters (there are four to choose from) can traverse the city with all the hustle, grace, and deadly efficiency of a speeding bullet thanks to their parkour skills. You can slide, leap, jump, and climb up and down buildings with the greatest of ease, and finish up with a hammer straight to the slurping skull of a shambling corpse. Think of it as Mirror’s Edge with wallto-wall zombies where all the whitewashed architecture should be. Or, somewhat to our surprise, a firstperson Assassin’s Creed, only with the historically accurate pedestrians replaced by undead. The comparison is triggered by the natty Istanbul-styled buildings and scalable bell-towers of the mission that we play, although no Abstergo goon has ever found themselves hopping from coffee shop to van roof before slamming a passer-by’s

Public enemy No.1

In addition to four-player co-op, Dying Light will also feature an online multiplayer mode If you and your friends get tired of watching each other’s backs, the game has an online multiplayer mode, Be the Zombie. You are a Night Hunter, a fast and agile type of zombie capable of hunting down and killing humans. By dispatching others, you’ll earn XP you can spend on upgrading your unholy abomination.

48 / The official XBoX magazine

Bright ideas

This fluid movement, which we will grudgingly admit earns the overused adjective “visceral” by giving you an X-ray view of their insides disintegrating on impact, Mortal Kombat-style, is one of many attacks you can unlock as you progress. Agility and combat both improve with use, issuing points you can spend on upgrade trees. You can put your moves to good use by rescuing survivors trapped in and around the city, scavenging for supplies and crafting weapons, or by picking up air-drops of supplies to take back to your group. At night time, however, freerunning across the city isn’t really an option, so instead you need to stay silent and out of sight in order to keep yourself alive until morning. It’s a neat system, helped along by the game’s gorgeously realized day-tonight cycle and the sea of corrugated iron rooftops that rises up to meet you every time you scale a telegraph pole for a better vantage point from which to scope out your surroundings. A nice touch, too, from what we’ve seen so far, is that the zombies all appear to be wearing different clothes – a small feature which goes a long way. The world they occupy feels lived in, too, and unfeasibly vast. It looks as if scrounging for supplies will be a Herculean task in itself, and not just some mindless fetch-quest time-filler. While we’ve never really run short of zombie games on Xbox, and the studio’s previous franchise is getting all the attention at present, our handson suggests that Techland’s second shot at surviving the undead is a more interesting, more engaging effort than its first. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s one you should keep an eye on. Aoife Wilson & Jon Hicks

ETA

//At night, free-running across the

city isn’t an option, so you need to stay silent and out of sight//

head into the flagstones using a nailencrusted baseball bat. Or dispatched a crowd by whirling around with an electro-shock ax.

feB

WWW.ToTalXBoX.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net Kill the undead, rescue the living. You know the drill by now, right?

Don’t let this guy’s placid face fool you – the zombies in this city are a vicious lot. As far as last looks go, you could do worse. when the city stretches out before you, it sure is pretty.

“i challenge you to color in this map without going over the lines!”

@oXm

The official XBoX magazine / 49


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEvIEw

AI quarterbacks now react realistically to defensive linemen pressure – slinging the ball away or covering it up ready for a sack.

Publisher EA SportS / DeveloPer EA tibUron / Format XboX onE

Madden NFL 15

Gridiron legend steps up its game after shaky introduction to Xbox One Bluffer’s Guide The second Xbox One outing for EA’s gazillionselling American football series, now featuring menu chatter from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

N

ow this is more like it. Nearly a year after EA’s football franchise debuted on Xbox One to a reaction best described as overwhelmingly underwhelming, the game bearing John-boy’s name looks set to deliver a true next-gen experience second time around. Our hands-on delivers all the big hits, spectacular catches and dramatic touchdowns you could want from the last NFL videogame standing – but crucially it does so with realism and intuitiveness underpinning every pass, run, and tackle. Case in point: Defensive backs no longer morph to the ball ahead of

superior wide receivers, and pass blockers look to form a pocket around your quarterback in readiness for him to throw, rather than showing all the discipline of a greyhound in a hare farm. As a result, it’s possible to make the most of match-ups between a top receiver and a weak defensive back, or a power runner and a soft defensive line, because individual attributes matter and there’s context to every on-pitch event.

ETA

AUG 26

Crazy Kaepers

However, don’t mistake “more realistic” for “easier”. The additional focus on authenticity means some

//Individual attributes matter and there’s context to every event// Eye scream cone

New tackling mechanic turns out to be surprisingly effective Madden’s big add on the defensive side of the ball is the “tackle cone”. As the name suggests, it’s a means of helping you take down a ball carrier. Once he’s entered the demarcated area in front of your player, pressing A essentially causes the latter to heatseek and stymie him. It sounds hand-holdy, but works so smartly that you’ll soon give up complaining about it. And if you hate it, the feature can be switched off. 50 / thE officiAl XboX mAGAzinE

endlessly successful tactics from previous games are no longer as effective. Throwing on the run, for instance, is a tremendously difficult skill for any real-life quarterback, yet on Xbox 360 Madden this strategy proved tiresomely overpowerful year after year. Now, only QBs with elite ratings in this field, such as Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, are as deadly when slinging the ball mid-sprint; for others, you’ll need to utilize that pass-blocker pocket mentioned earlier. It means adapting your approach depending on which player you have in the sport’s most important position, exactly as real-life coaches have to. While things are shaping up nicely on the field, we’d still like to see more tinkering off it. For instance, the new overlays showing player stats before kick-off would be very welcome – if only they were onscreen for long enough to read them. Ditto the TV-broadcast style half-time show: There’s no question that it adds to the viewing-at-home feel, but some of the highlights selected for it are a tad dubious. Madden is certainly moving forward in the presentation department, but on this evidence it may be another year before it matches the likes of NBA 2K and FIFA for a “Holy cow, it’s just like watching ESPN!” level of believability. Ben Wilson www.totAlXboX.com


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worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEviEw

San Francisco, where stairs are for squares – a consistently popular backdrop for carnage in films and games.

Publisher ActiVisiON / DeveloPer sledgehAmmer gAmes & high mOON studiOs / Format XbOX 360 & XbOX ONe

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Stand by for boosted mobility as near-future tech takes the battle upwards

B

oost jump. Double jump. Strafe dodge. Boost slam. Boost slide. These are not terms one associates with most shooters. But the Titanfall influence is not subtle in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, especially when it comes to the frenetic head-to-head matches in multiplayer. It’s a huge, but necessary, shift for an 11-year-old franchise that’s showing its age. The ability to boost in all directions will force Call of Duty faithful to think differently, and

Bluffer’s Guide

Call of Duty dodges stagnation with a major change in player mobility and the blindbox appeal of Supply Drops’ random prizes.

developer Sledgehammer Games hopes that will encourage new strategies. Mobility begets verticality, so Sledgehammer has designed maps where using stairs is a last resort. Not many maps in the series result in rooftop skirmishes, but in Advanced Warfare roofs are fair game. These levels encourage use of the new moves, but you must be mindful of your exosuit’s cooldown periods. There’s no such thing as overrewarding, as long as competitors

ETA

NOV 3

Hardpoint come back

A much-loved mode returns, primed for this year’s new moves set Some of Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer features were the result of community feedback or, in extreme cases, fan backlash. With Call of Duty: Ghosts, Activision learned what happens when you remove the King of the Hill-inspired Hardpoint. Its return in Advanced Warfare should make matches all the more tense and chaotic, given that many hardpoints will only be reachable with double jumps. 52 / the OfficiAl XbOX mAgAziNe

of all skill levels are given prizes. The newly added Supply Drops aren’t ingame resources players have to fight over, but rather packages you unlock at the end of a match. A prize could be a piece of character gear, a weapon, or a reinforcement item, and each is given one of three rarity categories: Enlisted, Professional, or the rarest, Elite. When asked whether items generated in a Supply Drop are 100% random or are partly performance-based, a Sledgehammer spokesman was unwilling to go into detail about the feature’s secret sauce. Although he did remind us that expert competitors who aren’t fond of random unlocks can focus on Challenges in order to earn some of Advanced Warfare’s rarer weapons and character gear.

Loaded up

Given the Supply Drop is technically a loot system, it’s easy to see the Borderlands inspiration, although you don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by tens of thousands of www.tOtAlXbOX.cOm


A biolab is the setting for one of the maps, and has some undisclosed relation to the story mode.

worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEviEw

Metadata

THe PreDICTIon

Shooter fans are an adaptable lot. Based on my humbling session, skilled FPS players will grasp Advanced warfare’s enhanced mobility quickly. But don’t be surprised if Call of Duty clans organize “classic” matches where the new moves are not allowed.

//Between this, Titanfall and Borderlands, 2014 is The Year of Death from Above// firearms. Still, there are almost 350 – a lot for a shooter. Even if you have a nearidentical pair of assault rifles, they’ll differ greatly: The rarer the weapon, the greater variety in stat differentials. Common guns only have one positive and one negative stat change. Advanced Warfare also marks the return of Scorestreaks, which are integrated with a more customizable version of the Pick Ten system from in Black Ops 2. It’s now Pick 13 – there are 13 slots to customize a given loadout with perks and attachments. Spend time considering all your available gear, especially if you end up with rare items from Supply Drops. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to get an assault rifle with a permanently attached red-dot sight, it’s a bonus accessory that does not count towards your 13 slots. Even with all the new features, Sledgehammer is determined to retain @OXm

the series’ quick-to-engagement appeal. Much of this comes down to the suite of multiplayer modes, including the classic Domination and Team Deathmatch. A new mode, Uplink, inspired by basketball, is a surprisingly addictive reversal of Capture the Flag where you have to take a device to the opponent’s side of the map.

Points of view

Given the new shift in mobility and controls, there’s potential for reimagining classic Call of Duty maps. It’s not just about HD makeovers, but also changes that take advantage of the new jump boosts. It starts with the Atlas Gorge map (also known as Pipeline) from the first Modern Warfare, which already had plenty of verticality. At first it will only be in Advanced Warfare’s collector’s editions, but we’d be surprised if the exclusivity is permanent.

When using any of the gear in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, one gets the sense this is the culmination of Activision’s near-future premises, which started with Black Ops 2 and continued with Ghosts. I’m seldom interested in using riot shields in games, but the battery-operated pop-up shield in Advanced Warfare has a lot of potential as a useful and practical defensive item. Of course, that doesn’t stop opponents from shooting you in the back. If it’s improved visibility you’re after, a throwable item temporarily reveals all foes in the immediate area. You will need all the visibility you can get. Anticipating attacks from advantageous, elevated points isn’t unique to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but there is a new, allpervasive threat that at any moment a foe might shame you with a lethal aerial body slam. Between this game, the multi-level troop maneuverability of Titanfall, and the low-gravity lunar antics of Borderlands: The Pre Sequel!, 2014 seems to have become The Year of Death from Above. Miguel Concepcion the OfficiAl XbOX mAgAziNe / 53


worldmags.net worldmags.net PREvIEw

If you’re going to be outnumbered, you should at least bring the biggest pointy stick to the battle.

Publisher UBISOFT / DeveloPer UBISOFT MONTREAL / Format XBOX ONE

Assassin’s Creed Unity Carve your own path – literally – through 18th-century Paris

I

f you’ve pegged Assassin’s Creed Unity as “the one with co-op”, your eagle vision may be shortsighted. Sure, the four-player support is a big, buzzgenerating bullet point, but it’s merely one of the pillars shouldering the weighty ambitions of this first fully next-gen chapter in the throat-slitting sandbox series. In development for over four years and crafted by Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood’s core team, Unity is a complete rebuilding of the franchise. Everything’s been reimagined to take advantage of all those horses beneath the Xbox One’s hood, from combat and stealth to navigation and mission structure. During a visit to Ubisoft Montreal, we learnt exactly how that latter element’s being tweaked to afford players more freedom when tackling objectives. Dubbed “black box design” by creative director Alexandre Amancio, the new mission-molding approach encourages an unparalleled amount of exploration and experimentation. “We clearly define a location and a target, and tell you, ‘Get to the target, kill the target – do it whichever way you want. There are 54 / ThE OFFICIAL XBOX MAgAzINE

Bluffer’s Guide The stab-happy sandbox moves to the French Revolution and gives you more ways to take out your target. Plus, there’s co-op.

dozens of different approaches: Use your imagination, use your tools, use your skills, use your wits,’” he explains. In an apparent wink to this openended design, our demo begins with a mission-giving NPC snapping, “I’m not here to hold your hand!” at an inquisitive Arno Dorian. But while the protagonist is verbally scolded for asking too many questions, players aren’t treated so harshly. The mission not only starts with a clue-filled cinematic, but also a stat box displaying the possibilities and pitfalls – unique kill opportunities, alarm bells, secret entrances – awaiting armchair

assassins. Going directly from point A to the target’s jugular is still an option but, according to Amancio, these missions are an invitation to explore without wasting your time. Our mission – the game’s first assassination – tasks Arno with infiltrating a well guarded Notre Dame to spill the innards of a corrupt official. While the ultimate objective should be familiar to anyone who’s previously gutted a goon from belly to brain, the path to completion is now paved with far more possibilities. In fact, the player driving the demo teases some: He checks the

ETA

OCT 28

Partners in crime

Stealing’s more fun with a friend Our hands-on co-op “heist” mission tasks us and an Ubi-buddy with stealing Templarsmuggled artifacts from Notre Dame’s sewers. The core gameplay – stealthily stabbing dudes from the shadows – feels comfortably familiar, but plotting with a second assassin does add a welcome strategic wrinkle. Our affection for the mode may also be swayed by our partner’s ability to revive us whenever we take one too many pointy things to the chest. www.TOTALXBOX.COM


worldmags.net worldmags.net More explorable interiors means more chances to discover disturbing scenarios.

PREvIEw

Arno will find ample opportunity to slay with style to spare.

//There are dozens of ways to find

and kill a target – use your tools, your skills, and your imagination”

main gate, but it’s crawling with guards; he finds a secret entrance, but discovers his lock-picking skill isn’t up to snuff. Before long, though, Arno encounters what Amancio calls a “mod mission.” Short for mission modifier, these instances can provide an alternate path to your life-taking destination. “Mod missions are sort of attached to the assassination. Doing them will always change how the mission unfolds. It will change the important stuff – it can change the context, it can change the gameplay, it can sometimes change the assassination itself.” Supporting the freeform structure of these missions, you can ignore, exploit, or fall victim to these optional opportunities depending on how you manifest yourself. In this case, the mission’s shaped by an interaction with a man plotting to raid the archbishop’s wine cellar with a set of stolen keys. That aforementioned pre-mission cinematic briefly panned over a chap @OXM

yelling, “Get back here with my keys!” But we had no idea his loss would become our gain. Arno quietly snatches the keys off the clueless mark and, presumably, keeps him from getting his drink on at the archbishop’s expense. As entertaining as it is stealing from a drunk, it’s not the most challenging event at the Assassin Olympics. The mission’s other modifier, however, makes better use of the seasoned killer’s skills. On a bustling street, Arno spots a man who’s to meet with the Metadata

besT bIT…

Unity’s scarily real smoke effects are the best we’ve seen. Don’t be surprised if you cough instinctively from behind the gamepad when caught in one of your own billowing bombs.

when stealth fails, don’t be afraid to introduce targets’ throats to your blade.

assassination target in the cathedral’s confessional. Upon carefully approaching the seemingly innocent individual, Arno drops a smoke bomb, slits his throat, and disappears into the masses without skipping a beat. With the keys in hand and the co-conspirator bleeding out on the cobblestones, Amancio suggests the player may have “an opportunity to kill the target in a really interesting way.” In addition to being a gifted game-maker, Amancio’s apparently a master of the understatement. Posing as the poor sap that was to rendezvous with Arno’s ultimate mark, the hooded anti-hero enters the confessional booth, takes a seat, and drives a length of steel through the partition and into the face of the unsuspecting foe on the other side. We can’t wait to rewrite history from behind Arno’s blades and bullets, and skewer baddies with our buddies, but teaming up to alter the course of the French Revolution is just the beginning. Based on its ambitious, open-ended mission design – and the resulting kill-as-you-please path we witnessed – Unity may be more than just another annual entry with a few new tricks tucked into its robes. Matt Cabral ThE OFFICIAL XBOX MAgAzINE / 55


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEviEw Publisher UBISoFT / DeveloPer UBISoFT MoNTREAL / Format XBoX oNE & XBoX 360

Far Cry 4

How about a little meditation with your open-world mayhem?

Bluffer’s Guide Open-world shooter forgoes the mad doctors and magic mushrooms of its forebear, but you can still get trippy through meditation.

R

ather than infiltrating a rebel-occupied fortress or fighting a madman in the mountains, our hands-on session with Far Cry 4 has us battling mythical beasts in a crimson-bathed alternate world… alongside a magical tiger. Taking a cue from its predecessor’s trippy treks through the jungle, Ubisoft’s latest open-world vacation-from-hell is, as creative director Alex Hutchinson explains, similarly sending players on fantastical side-quests. “They’re kind of an extension of the crazy sequences from Far Cry 3, but now packed with gameplay and much more purpose.” These optional objectives, dubbed “The Legend of Shangri-La”, teleport Metadata

bEST biT…

Kyrat’s crawling with threats of the clawed and fanged variety, so turning the tables with your own personal attack tiger in the Legend of Shangri-La is a welcome treat.

you back in time, to a place where rivers run red, Hindi-speaking warriors go toe-to-talon with demons, and jeweladorned tigers attack on command. Unlike Far Cry 3’s hallucinating hero, however, protagonist Ajay Ghale needn’t inhale mushroom spores to access his alternate reality; meditation – not medication – is the key to entering Kyrat’s ancient paradise. As the story goes, five thangkas – illustrated, story-expanding tapestries – are spread throughout the world. Once discovered, Ajay can meditate on these ancient artifacts, and then live out the legends they describe. For the player, this means switching from Ajay’s perspective to that of a warrior named Kalinag, a folklore hero on a quest to “liberate the bells of enlightenment.” In the interest of time, our demo skips the thangka recovery, and immediately puts us behind the bow of Kalinag. As the Hindi-speaking “seeker of paradise”, we find ourselves in a breathtaking world that wouldn’t look out of place among the paneled pages of a graphic novel. Colored almost entirely by varying shades of red and sporting a pop-off-

ETA

Nov 18

//We battle mythical beasts in

a crimson-bathed alternate world… alongside a magical tiger// Thangka very much

The benefits of becoming a legend One of the Shangri-La thangkas will be introduced during the main storyline, but seeking out the other four is purely optional. Even if you’re not a completionist (or pet tiger enthusiast) though, you’ll still want to meditate on all five tapestries. On top of keeping any experience earned in Shangri-La, players who complete all the missions are promised some extra backstory on the game’s fictional Himalayan region of Kyrat. 56 / ThE oFFIcIAL XBoX MAgAzINE

the-screen vibrancy, Shangri-La looks like a painting come to life. Of course, ogling crimson waterfalls like a first-time tourist isn’t an option, as this beautiful place is also populated by plenty of uglies anxious to poke holes in us. Thankfully, Kalinag’s armed with a crystal-encrusted archery set capable of slowing time, and upon firing the weapon, we freeze the targets in our sights. When all the bow’s jewels go dark, however, it’s back to real-time until the ability replenishes itself. Most of the half-manhalf-monster threats go down with an arrow to the brainpan, which also results in a pretty geyser of blue plasma. When outnumbered, though, our tiger – known as “the protector of Shangri-La” – does its part to keep the baddies at bay. Although you can point it to enemies, it also does a fine job of ripping the throats from potential threats without any direction from us. Between context-sensitive objectives, such as spinning a prayer wheel and freeing a peace-bringing bell from chains, we fall into a comfortable combat rhythm. Slaying enemies from afar with the bullet-time bow, while letting our feline friend tear into up-close targets, proves an effective strategy. This changes, however, when the aptly named “scorcher” starts spitting flames in our direction. Upon being barbecued extra-crispy one time too many, we send the tiger to distract the big bad, while we sneak behind and snuff him out with a takedown. With the area liberated, we’re transported back into the hiking boots of Ajay and our demo comes to a close. Meditating on thangkas should offer a nice respite from killing crazies in Kyrat. More than that, though, we look forward to seeing how the Legend of Shangri-La unfolds, from a narrative perspective, once all tapestries are interpreted. But if that doesn’t pay off, siccing a spirit tiger on evildoers is still loads of fun. Matt Cabral www.ToTALXBoX.coM


worldmags.net worldmags.net

This image represents a very bad application of your Sam Fisher-like stealth abilities. Ubisoft is doing its bit to ensure that the compound bow remains on-trend.

There’s nothing like the smell of crisp mountain air in the morning… or maybe that’s just the cannibals cooking breakfast.

Far Cry 4’s greatest weapon isn’t a gun or grenade, but a trained tiger whose best trick is eating your enemies.

@oXM

ThE oFFIcIAL XBoX MAgAzINE / 57


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EE!* 2issFR ues

Interactive pages • Full screen trailers Exclusive extra content Search for ‘Total Film’ in the App Store www.totalfilm.com/newsstand * Download two free issues with a no obligation subscription. Offer applies to new subscribers only. iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


worldmags.net worldmags.net PREvIEw If you’re used to having loads of ammo, à la later Resi games, this here’s a whole other story.

A younger, more believable Chris – before later iterations made his biceps bigger than his head. Publisher CapCom / DeveloPer CapCom / Format XboX one & XboX 360

Resident Evil

Capcom becomes the master of unlocking (our hearts) once again Bluffer’s Guide

The original Resident Evil was released in 1996 for the PlayStation, then remade in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube. This is an overhauled remaster of the latter.

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here aren’t many games that deserve a remake of a remake, but the original Resident Evil is definitely one of them. After the most recent Resi title was, shall we say, a bit of a disappointment to long-time series fans, Capcom has decided to remind everyone why the series defined a genre, with a rerelease of Resident Evil on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One. According to its producers, Tatsuya Kitabayashi and Yoshiaki Hirabyashi, the team working on this re-remake have been careful to preserve the atmosphere of the original, while ensuring that

no “unnecessary” changes be made. There are the usual visual enhancements, of course, with the resolution upped to 1080p on Xbox One. The genre-defining audio effects are fully remastered with 5.1 surround support, meaning the distinctive sound of dogs crashing through windows will resonate even more. Expect it to be still more terrifying than the first time, then. As you might expect, there will be some concessions to the fact that game design has come along a bit in the last 12 years. The original Resident Evil’s awkward controls

Horror movies

One element of Resident Evil that probably deserves to stay dead The 2002 Resident Evil remake expertly built on the atmosphere and setting of the original game, but it did away with the painfully awful (and yet breathtakingly awesome) live-action cutscenes of the initial title. Do yourself a favor and look them up on YouTube – hammy acting, unconvincing devil-dogs, an overenthusiastic fog machine, and Albert ‘T-Bird’ Wesker are just some of the delights that await you. @oXm

added much to the game’s legendary tension, making even the most elementary survival tactic of "running away" a challenge, but their retro charms will probably be lost on modern players. So while the classic control scheme will be available for fans of that original play style, there's also an alternative setup, where the character moves precisely in the direction of the analog stick. You’ll also be able to choose between the remake’s original 4:3 screen ratio or a more contemporary 16:9 widescreen mode, and both the control scheme and the display options can be toggled at any time during your playthrough, the better to dazzle incredulous youth with the fact that we used to have to play games on square TVs instead of rectangular ones. I have a feeling I’ll be switching off the old-school controls to make things a little more manageable when the snake in the basement sends me into a blind panic and I start running in circles, firing acid rounds into the wall. Despite having played it 20 times already, I can’t wait for an excuse to do it all over again. Aoife Wilson

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the offiCial XboX magazine / 59


worldmags.net worldmags.net PREVIEW Publisher Microsoft studios / DeveloPer reMedy / Format XboX one

Quantum Break A time-out for third-person shooting

Bluffer’s Guide Remedy’s Xbox One debut is Inception with a splash of Gears of War, a cover shooter with as much interest in breaking the fabric of linear time as goons’ faces.

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any action game setpieces end with an explosion. In Remedy’s Quantum Break, the explosion often is the set-piece. The game’s plot is about the collapse of time itself, a cataclysm heralded by random “stutters” in the flow of temporality that freeze objects in place. When this happens during a disaster, such as a tanker colliding with a bridge, the result is a tangled, treacherous maze of free-floating detritus. As protagonist Jack – a former employee and present enemy of the sinister Monarch corporation, which is responsible for this metaphysical mess – you’re able to scramble around inside these temporal interruptions, hopping Metadata

AlSo BY…

MAX PAynE 2 The first game had the mechanics but this invested in its pulp-noir storytelling.

AlAn WAkE This game’s episodic structure can be called Remedy’s first experiment in a TV setup.

between chunks of flying matter that wouldn’t bear your weight in normal circumstances, or using them for cover as you trade bullets with Monarch’s similarly gifted goons. The experience is equal parts eye-poppingly gorgeous and eerie. Silence reigns, save for the ominous iceberg-crunch of history struggling to reassert itself, a calm broken by snaps of fury as localized temporal loops whirl cars, concrete, and shipping containers back and forth. The sky becomes a pinwheel of smeared constellations, and the air is full of odd distortion effects, as though composed of crystal. It’s all in the spirit of Remedy’s most famous creation, the original Max Payne. That game popularized the idea of bullet time, in which falling bodies slow to a glorious swan-dive and bullets wiggle across the screen like angry fish. Quantum Break takes similar, and no-less-spectacular, liberties with the practicalities of a gunfight. Jack will acquire and upgrade a number of abilities (governed by a refilling energy bar) as the story unfolds, beginning with a fast-forwarded dodge that is later expanded into a full-on dash, allowing him to blast down the flank to another

//You hear an ominous iceberg-

ETA

2015

crunch as history reasserts itself// Stop, Bullet Time

Remedy is very fond of time-slowing powers – how did that start? Jack Joyce’s chrono-chicanery might be pretty loose on the science but it’s a hell of a lot more grounded in reality than Max Payne’s reasoning. As the instruction manual for Remedy’s classic shooter explains: “We’re not going to explain why Max can shift time in his favor… The bottom line is that Max can do it, and it’s one of the most fun gameplay innovations in the 3D action genre.” Indeed. 60 / the official XboX Magazine

cover spot while enemies continue to pour fire at his last known position. Jack can also create bubbles of frozen time, paralyzing anybody within for a few seconds; this can amplify attacks, as bullets fired into the bubble become pregnant with potential energy. There are other powers to unlock later in the story, such as the ability to see a few seconds into an opponent’s future in order to catch them out, and a power that reveals the recent past. It’s a fairly small selection of tricks for a third-person action game – but it’s four times the number of powers available to Mr Payne, and he never let that hold him back.

Time Magazine

While the parts of the game I’ve seen fall back on familiar cover-shooter tactics, I’m told that more challenging areas will bring together powers and temporal stutters in more creative ways. There are hints of this in the shape of a midboss fight with the aforesaid Monarch elite, who are less vulnerable to Jack’s abilities, and clad in heavy armor to boot. Our demo handler eventually defeated them by freeing a car from the stutter, causing it to rewind violently to its point of origin and smash an enemy to dust. You can expect more of these “environmental hazards” in later encounters, and some can be triggered several times in a battle. The scenarios need to be inventive, because many of Quantum Break’s signature moves look like reworkings of mechanics from other games. Quantum Break’s on-disc live-action TV sideshow remains its most original feature – it explores the villain’s side of the story, and changes to reflect ingame choices. I’ve yet to check out any of that firsthand, though. Still, it’s hard to argue with the game’s fourth-dimensional splendor, and if some ideas are familiar, they’re delightfully executed. Time may be broken but it’s on Remedy’s side. Edwin Evans-Thirlwell www.totalXboX.coM


worldmags.net worldmags.net Gunplay’s less involved than your time powers, but it’s still a means to their end.

Being able to pause time gives Joyce a huge advantage in the face-kicking stakes.

The game looks spectacular. Remedy’s clearly getting a lot out of Xbox One.

Many environments won’t start this messy – you’ll help out with that, won’t you? @oXM

the official XboX Magazine / 61


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEViEw There’s a lot of Vlambeer in the functional, cute-meetsdeadly art style. Not least those natty dual pistols.

on the radar Trash TV W

Publisher lawrie+co / develoPer lawrie+co / Format XboX 360

The other games you should know about this month

Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer superhoT Team Format XboX one

e’ve become used to indie games taking up the ‘retro’ mantle, creatively reducing themselves to blocky (and, whisper it, overly simple) parts for an old-school feel. but Trash TV, the first game by lone developer Lawrie Russell (and we mean ‘lone’ – he’s even learnt to play the game’s inprogress co-op as both characters at once), gives the term new meaning. it’s the tale of a sentient TV that wakes up in the world’s most laser-strewn junkyard and then finds a revolver. it’s a puzzle platformer

in the mode of many we’ve seen on Xbox 360 in recent years – in-the-moment skill play and single-screen conundrums – but played across the glassy, convex curve of a simulated crT screen. it’s retro for feeling, not function – and it works beautifully. originally touted as a game “where every solution is a gun,” it’s become more nuanced – there are basic block puzzles, but you can also equip a bow and arrow, which we stubbornly refuse to classify as a gun. retro it might be, but there’s every chance Trash TV could offer something new to your old console.

ETA Tbc

SuperHot

Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer Keen sofTware house / Format XboX one

Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer seiTh cG Format XboX one

Space Engineers Ghost of a Tale

ime only moves when you do”, reads the elevator pitch for this gloriously stylish first-person shoot-puzzler. That’s a lie. Time continues moving when you’re standing still - it just does it very, very slowly, leaving you in the game equivalent of one of those 1,000-frames-per-second YouTube videos of watermelons exploding. it’s what you do in the meantime that matters. Dodging bullets is easy. chopping them in half with the new katana weapon (the game was a previously a 15-minute game jam entry on pc) is harder. Dispatching an entire room of crystalline enemies in the equivalent of a quarter of a ETA second is seriously tough. You’ll Tbc need to think far quicker than those bullets move.

e can think of very few games more deserving of the title “pc-friendly” than this. a steam early access success that has you building spacecraft from scratch, in accordance with real (off-)world physics, for no goal beyond the pleasure of a job complicatedly done, it seems built for the mouse ‘n’ keyboard brigade, and yet here it is, a console exclusive (at least for now) on Xbox one. and here we are, giddily excited for the thing. There’s something about the lego-bricks-in-a-science-lab concept that just works, an otherworldly playground. plus, if you get ETA tired of the ponderous thinkyTbc thinky stuff, you can just blow everything up. wahoo!

ne man has designed the entirety of this gorgeous world – a medieval setting, all crenels and cholera, populated by tiny woodland creatures. Granted, that one man is an ex-Dreamworks and universal animator, so he has a bit of a head start, but Ghost of a Tale would interest us on face value alone. The game itself looks to be something along the lines of Wind in the Willows meets Metal Gear Solid, by way of Game of Thrones, as Tilo, the tiny minstrel mouse, cowers in crates from patrolling rat guards, scurries away from literal giant enemy crabs, and sneakily ETA drops barrels onto the heads of 2015 foes to get by. There’s more to this than meets the eye.

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62 / The official XboX maGazine

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www.ToTalXboX.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net PrEViEw

brain dumP Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer broKen winDow sTuDios / Format XboX one

Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer crescenT moon Games / Format XboX one

Grave

The Deer God

irst-person open-world survival horror Grave features a unique surrealist landscape inspired by works of art from the likes of Dali. but the game has more going for it than its striking canvas. creator Tristan parrish moore insists it’ll “reinvent” survival horror, “injecting it with the tension and fear of modern horror games, while retaining the strategy and survival elements of classic genre staples.” it does this, he says, by ensuring players feel vulnerable, encouraging them to fight back with non-traditional methods. There’s also a day-to-night cycle you’ll need to get a feel for. Daytime is for exploration ETA and fortification, night is when Tba you’ll be forced to fight for your survival. sounds promising.

hough its premise (and its promotional material) made us scoff loudly, there’s no denying the 3D pixel art featured in The Deer God looks pretty. with lines like, “become one of the most beautiful animals on planet earth,” the Kickstarter description strays into evangelical territory about anything antlered, but its hyperbole is backed up by beautiful environments and animations. so, while we aren’t convinced the game “will challenge your religion” in addition to your platforming skills, we are interested to see whether its story, based on the trope of ‘the hunter becoming the hunted’, is turned into something ETA more. The game is dedicated to a Jan 15 cardinal the dev ran over. may your legacy live on, little bird.

Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer Green laVa sTuDios / Format XboX one

Publisher iD@XboX / develoPer sTaGe 2 sTuDios Format XboX one

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Fenix Rage

Lifeless Planet

ust moments into watching Fenix Rage, we had a glimpse of our future. we saw ourselves going through controllers at an alarming rate – and Green lava studios’ 2D action platformer was the cause. its lightningfast pace, bright colors and complex level design puts us in mind of Super Meat Boy, and while Fenix’s character design lacks Meat’s charming simplicity, the gameplay looks unique, challenging, and thoroughly addictive. most levels task you with jumping and dashing through a maze of obstacles to track the elusive oktarus, the only other survivor of an explosion that decimated fenix’s ETA village. but repeat plays – for Tbc better rankings and fewer deaths – will be the real hook of the game.

hen compared to the other indie titles coming to Xbox one soon, Lifeless Planet sticks out like a sore thumb. The barren, ocher landscapes are nothing like its candy-colored, retro-styled compatriots, and from the glimpses of gameplay we’ve seen so far, it seems truly ‘lifeless’ – there's no one for the protagonist to fight or befriend, save for a mysterious young woman who saves him from some kind of weird phenomenon. so the game’s all about the story: a skeptical astronaut seeking life on a distant planet discovers an abandoned russian laboratory, and suspects the mission a hoax until ETA strange things begin to go down. Tbc it may be slower than other indie games out there, but we’re intrigued.

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@oXm

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final dispatches from the industry frontlines +++ Not counting the examples on this page, Gamescom brought us 11 new additions to the iD@Xbox indie game lineup - and here are all of them... +++ worms developer Team 17 revealed pixelly prison-break sim, The Escapists +++ Episodic, monochromatic noir adventure Blues and Bullets is on its way +++ Oh no, we’re running out of space – here are the rest: Dungeon of the Endless, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, Funk of Titans, Goat Simulator, Gunscape, No Time to Explain, Smite, rivals of Aether and Speedrunners. whew. +++ Find breaking news at totalxbox.com +++ The official XboX maGazine / 63


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dEEP divE Writer: Edwin Evans-Thirlwell

Capybara’s Nathan Vella on why suffering is good, simplicity beats glued-on features, and Ubisoft Montreal deserves a round of applause

64 / the official xbox magazine

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net Ca pyba r a

“siMple thiNgs take loNger, aNd the resUlts are better”

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f Platinum weren’t an indie itself, we’d call capybara the Platinum games of the xbox indie scene. as with the creators of bayonetta, everything the tiny canadian studio touches turns to – well, if not solid gold, then something utterly original and winningly hand-crafted. fourth-dimensional blaster Super Time Force established capy as an iD@xbox developer to watch, and with the forthcoming Below – in which a ridiculously small warrior explores a ridiculously large, randomly generated labyrinth – the developer seems poised to deliver one of xbox one’s first true classics. we spoke to co-founder nathan Vella about the game and capybara’s sense of the balance of power between indies and the industry’s behemoths. How near are you to completing Below? in terms of how far along it is, that’s something we’re tentative about, because i feel like we don’t totally know! but we’ve been getting a lot of cool content in, stuff we showed a little bit at e3, stuff that’s not natural, that’s more man-made or monolithic, enemies that are not just ethereal or typically @oxm

Super time force: brilliant idea, but not quite an essential game.

monster-y. Putting all that stuff in – for us it’s great to feel the scope, and hopefully players will get a little bit more of an understanding of that: ‘oh, it’s not just one thing, it’s this other stuff.’ we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about where we take the game, in terms of content and how wide it goes, how deep. like, we have a bunch of endings, but then talking about how we implement those, how people reach them… i use too many analogies, but i’m going to use one anyway: building a game is like building a house. You can start adding floors or rooms, but if the foundation isn’t solid, there’s a good chance it’s going to fall over or be ugly as hell. and so, we spent a long time on the foundation of Below, on combat and exploration and survival – building backstory and lore and narrative in a way that will be seen by a certain type of player, without text or dialog. there’s so much interesting stuff going in – part of that is why i’m not exactly sure where we are! because there’s still so much to explore in the world-building, in the esthetic, in Jim guthrie’s music, in the content, but also in crafting, or different

enemy types that react in unique ways. but that foundation feels solid. we’re really happy about it. I like the purity of your combat – you don’t drown the player with optional weapons or accessories. it’s simple and focused, but there’s depth. and that’s harder to do than just throwing everything and the kitchen sink in. it takes longer, and i think the results are better. i think making simple things is hard, not simple in the sense of limited or basic, in the sense there’s nothing else glued onto it: sword, shield, make a choice on one other weapon to bring if you can find one, and then figure out how to deal with the scenarios you’re put in, how to survive. a lot of it is just exploring that system. because you’re nimble and have a lot of tools, i think the interaction between the wanderer and the enemies ends up being: ‘i can deal with this three or four different ways, but depending on the enemy, one or two ways might be right for it, and give me the lowest chance of getting hit and dying.’ i love the exploration of that. the official xbox magazine / 65


worldmags.net worldmags.net fe at ure below sometimes shifts to a side-on view, kind of like Game boy-era Zelda.

i love adding in one extra weapon, and the effort it takes to find that weapon [has to be accounted for]. then you respect it more, you don’t just want to go in hacking and slashing with an ax you don’t know how to use yet. So players prize their weapons, rather than just collecting them. Yeah, a big thing for us is that the game isn’t a loot grab. it’s not Diablo, it’s not Torchlight, it’s the antithesis of that, in the sense that you’re going to find a weapon that’ll open up new opportunities, but it’s also going to have its own challenges, its downsides. a bow and arrow is awesome till you’re focused on one enemy and another comes close, then it’s a detriment. You can’t just pause, switch your weapons – you have to figure out what to do in that scenario. and the same with spears, or hammers: they all come with unique sets of advantages and drawbacks. As a sort of enormous top-down enigma, this seems like the kind

the zoomedout camera emphasizes how vulnerable your character is.

of game that would suit sneaky background updates. Imagine entering the dungeon and running into a completely new route or enemy. there’s a rabbit hole of concepts. there’s a lot of game we haven’t shown, but even with what we have shown, there are many opportunities to go lateral, add in new stuff, and there are chances to take what we have and tweak it, add new elements. Yeah, there are a lot of directions we could take it, and i’m happy with the focus on it so far. and then, moving forward, i love making these kinds of games – games like Super Time Force or Sword & Sworcery, where the problems are not, like, how you make a crate, but how do you choose what to put into it – the decisions about what goes into the game versus what stays on the cutting-room floor. that’s an interesting challenge to have, and not necessarily

“there are ways to go lateral, add iN New stUff, tweak what we haVe”

a challenge you have when… if Super Time Force didn’t have time travel, the choices we would have made i think would have been easier, not better or worse, just simpler to come to the right conclusion. but i love that challenge. that’s one of the things i really like about the studio – you get a lot of different opinions about what is awesome, and those opinions create discussions, and those discussions help you narrow down what you’re

interested in. maybe they’re not necessarily the best [decisions], but if through a discussion, by which i mean passionate argument, you come to an understanding of what you want to do, i think players can smell that. i think they’re smart enough to know, even when it could have been a million times more ‘successful’, i think they can tell why you made that decision, and how you came to it. i think trusting the player, not trying to fool them with trickery and fireworks… i really like that side of Below, especially. Super Time Force was different, because it was one problem that had to be solved in very interesting ways, and Below is like this virtual cornucopia of problems that have to be [boiled down].

below’s chiseled, moodily illuminated world compares to Capybara’s previous Sword & Sworcery.

I do wonder how developers at huge studios like Ubisoft Montreal keep their motivation. Surely when you have so many people, everybody just ends up working on incredibly specialized things. How do you brainstorm? Only Capybara could revive the Might & Magic franchise as a brilliant combat-puzzle game. 66 / the official xbox magazine

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net Ca pyba r a

“players CaN seNse a deCisioN Made throUgh disCUssioN” In Super time force, the more you die, the deadlier you get.

Ubi deserves a lot of credit in the sense that have been pioneering for a while the idea of small studio-style development within a massive studio. from Scott Pilgrim to From Dust, to Blood Dragon, Child of Light… those are all small, creative endeavors coming out of a massive studio, the biggest studio in the world, i think. i was just talking about this in a roundtable interview that we did – there was this interesting preconceived notion that triple-a is not fun and indie is fun, development-wise, and i think there are probably far more parts of large-scale development that are less fun, but i think overall… i know a lot of people who work in triple-a who have a

blast doing what they’re doing. i think it’s just a different type of person. People are finding the fun in a… …more focused sense? Yeah, whereas for us it’s ideas being tossed around, our creative developer going off into the deep end with a bluesky idea, then the team getting together and working out how to focus it. i think one of the reasons games are successful is because making them is usually equal parts fun and soul-crushing drudgery, and that mix is kind of what being creative is all about – that’s how you make the best music or film, it’s where full-on passion meets intense hatred of your own project. i always describe it as

“if yoU get throUgh the toUgh tiMes, that’s wheN great stUff CoMes” @oxm

In below, campfires are places to heal up and assess your options, as in Dark Souls.

how development is this U shape, and one peak of the U is ‘i love this game,’ and then it dips down into ‘i hate this game,’ and then it peaks again as, ‘oh, actually i do love this game.’ i think across the board that’s how every game is made. when it’s broken and doesn’t have all the systems, you don’t know where to go with it, it sucks! and it sucks whether you’re making Assassin’s Creed or Below. but that’s the challenge. if it was just this wicked party with cake and beer, i think everybody would make garbage, everybody would make boring trite things nobody wants to play. [it’s about] how much you’re willing to put into it, and how far you want to take it. if you don’t want to take it past that point – that’s cool, make something boring. if you want to get through the tough times, that’s when the great stuff comes. the challenges of development, whether it’s actual development or the concepts, are what make good games good – and great games great. ■

the official xbox magazine / 67


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Writer: Brian Shea

fe at ure

What’s in

a name? We hear the names of game developers all the time and often don’t give them a second thought. But what do they actually mean, and what was the thinking behind them? We’ve reached out to some of our favorite studios to discover the inspiration behind their choice of title

68 / the official xbox magazine

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net WHat’S in a name? top Secret Wondering about the name of the original Xbox studio? us too. the origin of the term ‘Bungie’ is such a huge secret that the only member of the studio who knows the reason for it is co-founder Jason Jones.

Capy

founded: 2003 knoWn for: super time Force, BeloW

CapCom

founded: 1983 knoWn for: Street fighter, dragon’S dogma, marvel vS. capcom, dead riSing, loSt planet “the name capcom is an abbreviation of capsule computer. this was a phrase symbolic of an internal company objective to create a new gaming experience that would exceed that of rival personal computers, which had also been increasing in popularity during the same period. the ‘capsule’ segment of the capcom name was based on two key concepts: ‘a container packed to the brim with fun’ and ‘a desire to create securely packaged games to decrease the rapid expansion of pirated materials.’ ” company website

“When we started the studio, we couldn’t agree on a name. We argued vehemently, and in the end decided to use the power of democracy. everyone wrote down their top three, and the name with the most votes would win. capybara Games ended up being everyone’s second choice, and so it won. over time we naturally shortened the name in the studio. capy was shorter, snappier, and easier to say. eventually, no one even used the name capybara anymore, and we decided to revise the logo and make that pet name more official. thus, we are still capybara Games but we go by, and are known as, capy.” nathan Vella, co-founder and president

CD projekt reD founded: 2002

knoWn for: the witcher 2: aSSaSSinS of KingS, the witcher 3: wild hunt “the name of the company was invented by its two founders: marcin iwiński and michał Kiciński. both of them were pioneers in cd-rombased game distribution in poland, hence cd projekt (‘projekt’ is polish for ‘project’). the name of the developer arm of the group, cd projekt red, is an extension of the general name – the word ‘red’ comes from the first office that housed the studio, based in an old red-brick factory in the city of Łódź. people working in red refer to it exactly like that: red. we are red, we work at red. the color inside the studio is predominantly red, too. although we’re now located in warsaw, the redbrick design is still present.” robert malinowski, copywriter

Volition

founded: 1996 knoWn for: red Faction, saints roW “the studio that became Volition formed in 1996 when mike Kulas and matt toschlog, the founders of parallax software, split it into two studios. matt’s studio became outrage entertainment, but mike didn’t immediately have a name. after asking us for a list of ideas, mike eventually said Volition was the winner, although none of us recall it being in the original list. he later said he didn’t like our ideas and just flipped through the dictionary. mike always felt we could overcome any challenge with sufficient willpower, so i can see why the word ‘volition’ struck a chord. the name still captures the key part of our studio’s culture and spirit today.” dan cermak, general manager

@oxm

the official xbox magazine / 69


worldmags.net worldmags.net fe at ure

Harmonix music Systems founded: 1995

epic Games

knoWn for: guitar hero, rocK band, dance central, diSney’S fantaSia: muSic evolved

founded: 1991 name finalized: 1999 knoWn for: unreal engine, gearS of war, gearS of war 2, gearS of war 3, unreal tournament 3

“we wanted something that sounded ‘music-y’ and ‘tech-y’, and ‘harmonix’ was the first viable candidate that came to us, as far as i can remember.” alex rigopulos, chief executive officer and co-founder “there was a debate going on about if it should be ‘harmonix’ or ‘harmonics’. the ending with the ‘x’ was kind of a stylish thing to do back in the ‘90s. but the problem with the ‘x’, we later discovered, is that people sometimes pronounce it harmonix. ‘harmonics’ would probably not get mispronounced.” eran egozy, chief technical officer and co-founder

Double fine productions founded: 2000

knoWn for: pSychonautS, brütal legend, coStume QueSt, StacKing “double Fine’s name comes from a sign on the Golden Gate Bridge that said: ‘slow to 45mph. double Fine Zone.’ meaning that speeding tickets were double on the bridge. When i was younger i used to look at that sign and think, ‘if i had a band called double Fine, people would think i had bought the most expensive billboard in the city.’ it was like declaring all of san Francisco a ‘double Fine Zone’. this company is the closest i ever got to starting a band, so i used the name for that instead. sadly, the sign now reads something like, ‘lane ends, merge left,’ which would be a terrible name for a band. or game company.” tim schafer, founder

Period technology tomb raider developer Crystal Dynamics chose its name because in 1992, when it was founded, CDs dominated. it chose a name with the initials CD to help convey that the company was at the cutting edge of technology.

70 / the official xbox magazine

“originally, the company started as potomac computer Systems, a computer consulting business run out of my parents’ house in potomac, maryland. after releasing ZZT, i was trying to grow pcS into a real company, and at that point i realized that we needed a serious name. i came up with ‘epic megagames’ to make it seem like we were a big company competing with the top shareware publishers of the time. i figured it sounded impressive. of course, once the company became really successful after Unreal, i figured we didn’t need to pretend, so we dropped the ‘mega’ and became, simply, ‘epic games’.” tim Sweeney, founder

Insomniac Games founded: 1994

knoWn for: SunSet overdrive “in 1996, founder and ceo ted price, cto alex hastings, and chief creative officer Brian hastings were getting ready to announce their first game at e3: disruptor. at the time, they were called Xtreme software. But, right before they began working on the press release, ted, al, and Brian got a letter from a lawyer explaining that an arizona database company was also called Xtreme, and they couldn’t use the name. damn! they had only a few days to come up with a new one. ted put up a white board and started writing down every name they could imagine. some of the more popular ones were ragnarok, Black sun, monument, planet X, and Firestorm. ted’s personal favorite was ice-9. they liked it so much that they got permission from Kurt Vonnegut to use it. ironically, someone who hadn’t gotten permission from Kurt was already using it. then insomniac Games entered the discussion. it made sense given ted, al, and Brian weren’t sleeping much. and incredibly, no one else was using it. since then, insomniac’s logo has changed a couple of times, but the name has stuck.” ryan schneider, brand development director

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net WHat’S in a name? Just because Don’t feel bad if your business, game or household pet can’t match these origin stories. many of the devs we approached couldn’t come up with any reason for their name, other than the fact they liked it.

Sledgehammer Games founded: 2009

knoWn for: call of duty: advanced warfare

popCap Games founded: 2000

knoWn for: plantS vS. zombieS, peggle, bejeweled, zuma, feeding frenzy “when we founded the company in 2000, it was actually called ‘Sexy action cool.’ it was an inside joke with us at the studio, inspired by the tagline from antonio banderas’ character in Desperado. as we started to grow, though, we realized that name didn’t make sense for us anymore and we needed a name that better fit the massmarket, family-friendly games we were making. we started with the word ‘pop’. we loved the sound of that, and began thinking of different names we could use and which urls were available. eventually we landed on popcap, which had a great feeling to it and was only $20 to register, so we went with it!”

“Glen schofield [studio cofounder and game director] and i wanted to build a studio based on our passion for creating great games, and our vision of a studio culture where developers could come and do their best work. the studio was branded ‘sledgehammer’ because it conveys the highimpact nature of the games we make. our team works hard, plays hard, and drives hard for excellence in everything we do. We wanted a hard-hitting logo that reflects our desire to leave our mark on the lives of our developer family and our fans, through the quality of games we deliver. my second favorite name: ‘Boomstick studios’.” michael condrey, co-founder and studio head

john vechey, co-founder

Supergiant Games founded: 2009 knoWn for: baStion “amir [rao] and gavin [Simon], the studio co-founders, were all about making games in a certain way – the outwardfacing stuff could come later. the only reason the studio wasn’t named even later was because amir and gavin were getting ready to show early builds of Bastion during gdc. Supergiant was definitely not the only name considered, it was just the one that survived the process of savaging all the other candidate names for various reasons. the name has no special significance other than its aspirational, cosmic quality. we have no intentions of ever becoming a large studio. rather, we say we want to make the kinds of games that spark your imagination like the games you played as a kid.”

“my brother Gérard came up with the name ubisoft by merging ‘ubiquity’ and ‘software’. We wanted to work with passionate people to make great games (the software) that people around the world (the ubiquity) could play for fun, escapism, adventure, and self-discovery.”

greg Kasavin, creative director

Yves Guillemot, ceo

Ubisoft

founded: 1986 knoWn for: aSSaSSin’S creed, far cry, trialS, rainbow Six

“i got the name ‘douBle fine’ from a ‘douBle fine zone’ sign on the golden gate Bridge” @oxm

the official xbox magazine / 71


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worldmags.net worldmags.net

re vie w s The most important Xbox releases rated

THis MONTH iN NUMBers whAt’s in A gAMe? generAtiOn-strAddling titles And their scOres 10 9 8 7 6

1

diABlO 3

titAnfAll

XBOX 360

XBOX One

XBOX 360

2

XBOX One

3

XBOX 360

4

XBOX One

5

tOMB rAider

physicAl vs virtuAl

43%

Diablo iii: Ultimate evil eDition

BOXed releAses

57%

dOwnlOAd-Only releAses

MOBA: MO’ MOney, MO’ prOBleMs AirMech ArenA scOre 8 price $19.99

AwesOMenAuts

the Devil has all the best tune-ups (p74)

scOre 9 price $9.99

THis MONTH we HAve…

Gotten lost and abused p78

@oxm

Returned to the tunnels p79

Got something for nothing p80

Played with some new cards p81

Played with some old cards p82

the official xbox magazine / 73


You’ll quickly turn into a treasure snob who’d rather toss a

magnificent shield on the ground than sell it off for more gold. worldmags.net worldmags.net

review

Play with another human and the difficulty increases, but so do the loot drops.

74 / the official xbox magazine

Something you don’t want to meet down a dark alley.

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net

Publisher blizzaRd / DeveloPer blizzaRd Format xbox 360 & xbox one / release Date out now

Diablo iii: reaPer oF souls – ultimate evil edition Grind and bear it

N

ever played a Diablo you can transfer your characters from the because, well, dungeon vanilla Diablo III into Ultimate Evil Edition crawlers? well done for – even if you played it on PS3 and want to sticking your nose into continue with xbox one. this review, the Ultimate Evil Edition but bad luck at sees the level cap upped from the same time: 60 to 70, a new fifth act, more Diablo III has the monsters, and an end-game capacity to turn even the most reward called adventure mode reviewer stubborn gamer into a blearythat opens the game world for Paul taylor eyed adventurer for loot. You the opportunity to earn more Paulus McT are pages away from becoming swag in Rifts. that’s all on top of @mynameispt addicted and driven into what a new character – the crusader we’ve previously called “dazzling, the kNowleDge – that can be used right from wonderful hamster wheels”. the start, and a new nPc, the what is it? basically, Ultimate Evil Edition new-ish expansion mystic, who further tweaks the is Diablo III with Reaper of Souls, with a bunch of smart color and stats of your gear. console-only extras. as well as a few other clever the Reaper of Souls features, seamlessly bolted on. expansion has been available what’s it like? at first it’s a strange concept to becoming gradually on Pc since march, but be grasp: a two-year-old isometric addicted to the smug: only console players world’s fanciestRPg dungeon crawler for a get the new nemesis Kills and looking spreadsheet. an apprentice mode, as well next-generation console (or xbox 360 if you haven’t moved to who’s it For? as a refined inventory system Shut-ins who love new hardware). however, lovers that goes some way to avoid detail and, ironically, of Borderlands will immediately bogging you down in menus. as people with friends. see the appeal of Diablo. indeed, soon as you vacuum up loot, the former was heavily inspired by the icons instantly give a basic but useful latter. Diablo III is not an overtly technically indication of how much better or worse impressive game but it is very addictive. that particular piece of gear is compared if you’re continuing to feed your habit, to the item you already have equipped.

@oxm

the official xbox magazine / 75


reckon you’re hard? Try hardcore mode –

worldmags.net worldmags.net die and your character is gone forever. review

the clever part is you also have the option to equip it, junk it, or drop it, all on the fly. Play in local co-op and the gear is automatically distributed to the person better suited to it – so loot hogs have been de-tusked, and your inventory is no longer clogged with class-specific garbage. Play online and everyone gets their own gear anyway. newbies and friends you thrust a controller at will appreciate apprentice mode, which offers lower-level characters a helping hand when playing with higher-level builds, by buffing their damage and toughness. meanwhile, nemesis is a type of ‘revenge’ system, where hardy types can kill the monster that put their friends in the dirt – not that it takes the form of the creature who offed your buddy, instead stomping onto the screen as a classic goat-legged man

beast, and appearing at random points in time. let us know if you manage to kill one and what the rewards are, as it’s whacked us on the few occasions we’ve seen it burst into existence.

spank and tank

however, Ultimate Evil’s also gone through a few other refinements, some for the worse. disappointingly, it feels too easy when you start fresh, even on the hardest difficulty setting available. this is especially true if you’re playing with a ranged character, while monks and barbarians will need to use the combat roll here and there. health potions are cheaper, but create the right build and you’ll barely need them. there will also be many times where you won’t look at your glorious warrior belting seven shades out of a goblin, but instead at the meters tucked in the

A plate full of peas Good news, everyone – Diablo III joins the elite group of games running at 1080p/60fps on Xbox One. Our review copy ran at 900p/60fps and looked sensational, and we’ve got 180 more peas now it’s landed via a day-one patch. However, we defy anyone to tell the difference between 900p and 1080p. 76 / the official xbox magazine

The Mystic, who can turn anything into something useful, for a price.

corner of the screen that indicate the cooldown for your attacks. meanwhile, you’re jamming your thumb on the a button and mashing the right trigger, your character steadily bearing the barrage of abuse coming from all sides. Reach the end of act ii and you’ll be completely decked out in laughably labeled ‘rare’ items, and probably a couple of legendary bits of kit, too. it’s far too generous. although, as we’ve pointed out before, keen Diablo III fans will argue that the game doesn’t properly start until you’re poking level 60 and opening up the highest difficulty settings, and also building up your Paragon points. by this stage you will have already seen the credits roll once, and have a severe vitamin d deficiency. as we said when we reviewed Diablo III late last year, it’s ridiculous to consider that it takes so long for the ‘real’ game to begin, but getting to this point is startlingly straightforward, because you will be hooked. addiction can be a force for amazing progress. the game isn’t really the game. Sure, the point is to kill stuff so you can kill more stuff thus earning loot so you can get more loot, but at the core there’s a totally different type of system in play here. You’re trying your best to max out a character, experimenting with www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net review That must have been quite a joke because she’s killing at this party.

“You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t play this with buddies” the combinations of attacks you can throw at hordes. that’s the hamster wheel. the story is totally secondary and that’s just as well, because it’s high-fantasy nonsense that wallows in cliché, and shaky voice acting that’s borderline satirical. You’re also doing yourself a disservice if you don’t play with buddies – two of you either in local play or online is great fun. it can get a bit hectic with four players on one screen, however, and it’s easy to lose who’s who in the dazzling array of light effects. we’re happy to say the xbox one version

The OXM verdict

PrOS/CONS ✔ Looks pretty on Xbox One

✖ The story is a nuisance

✔ Ability to copy characters across, even from PS3

✖ The first run is too loot-heavy and easy

✔ Stupendously addictive

@oxm

✖ Takes 20-ish hours before the ‘real’ game begins

holds up remarkably well, with only one or two frame drops – and those only appear when there are more light effects than at a Pitbull concert. after a simple test in the office, we figured out it’s better just to look for your colored circle and the attached arrow pointing to the enemy that your hero is targeting. that sounds like we’re missing the point, but the thrill comes in battling an end-of-level boss – or stumbling on a loot-spewing treasure pygmy – and laying it to waste in record time, four different classes working in harmony.

THe BeST BiT

An ornate chestpiece pharaohs would’ve died for, just tossed into the dirt. That’s what you’ll become.

COMPleTiON ClOCK

Getting a gift from someone in your friends list. They’ll pick up objects only you can use.

houRS

Ultimate Evil Edition is full of great ideas and wonderful refinements: it wants you to want to play it, and it makes itself as open as it can to you doing so. for those that have played Diablo III to death and yearn to explore the fifth act, Ultimate Evil Edition is a no-brainer. the same unconditional recommendation applies to total newcomers, especially those with friends (or in a pinch, someone who will press and hold the a button on a second controller occasionally). but if you’re in the middle, an experienced player starting a new class, the early stages will be a cakewalk. grind and bear it. Ride the hamster wheel, and prepare for it to take over your life. You don’t even need a pre-existing tendency for dungeon crawlers to ‘get’ it. crank it to the toughest setting you can stand, and don’t look back. oXm

OverAll Technically superior in every way to plain Diablo III and still as ruinous to your everyday life as ever before. The hearty challenge remains beyond the credits, making it absolutely worth your time.

8

the official xbox magazine / 77


worldmags.net worldmags.net revieW

This charming guy has an upgrade point to pass on – provided you don’t mind fighting him later.

Mid-boss fights pit you against a dark version of one of the three lead characters.

PublisheR ATluS / develOPeR ACE TEAM / fORMAT XBOX 360 / ReleAse dATe OuT NOw

Abyss Odyssey RevieweR edwin evAnsThiRlwell liveOXM ETboy @dirigiblebill

The knOwledge whAT is iT? A 2.5D roguelike with equatorial art direction and decent beat ‘em up combat. whAT’s iT like? Alternating between Spelunky, Inception, and Namco’s Tales RPGs. whO’s iT fOR? Fans of speed-runs, combos, flamboyant dress codes, and spectral fish.

A bewildering, beautiful delusion from the creators of Zeno Clash

T

his isn’t quite my dream game, but it is somebody’s. Abyss Odyssey’s justification for procedural level generation is unusually inventive – the shifting, tiered labyrinth is the lurid fantasy of a sleeping warlock, buried miles beneath the earth. This also explains the eccentric enemies, which lean on ACE Team’s Chilean heritage: Shoals of fish that freeze characters on contact and tropical birds armed with polearms and bucklers. As with Zeno Clash, the exotic art hides an original, bruising, entertaining but imperfect action game. The obvious reference point is Spelunky, but Abyss Odyssey is more interested in beating things up than puzzles and platforming. There are combos, parries, and specials to consider, to say nothing of elemental and status attacks: Some weapons change a foe’s allegiance, while others inflict a slo-mo curse.

The OXM verdict

PrOS/CONS

✔ Great line-up of characters

✖ Battles have their rough spots

✔ Smart handling of death and progression

✖ Broken multiplayer

✔ Filled with exotic ideas

✖ Ultimately not quite replayable enough

78 / ThE OFFICIAl XBOX MAGAzINE

It’s less complex than a traditional fighter, but anyone hoping to buttonmash to victory won’t survive long. You’ll need to worry about the terrain, too – thankfully, enemies are just as vulnerable to hazards as players.

Abyss seeing you

Besides the three heroes – a fireballthrowing fencer, a cowled monk who favors double-handed swords and a nubile water sprite with a halberd – you’ll be able to play as enemies by possessing their souls. This uses all your mana but gives you another health bar to burn through. The labyrinth is 10-20 levels deep, depending on which of its three access points you choose: The shorter, the tougher. It’s possible to reach the bottom in an hour, given the right method and luck, but proceedings are complicated by the fact you can only checkpoint progress using certain, hard-to-find items at stone shrines.

WOrSe THaN… dusT: An elysiAn TAil Abyss Odyssey puts up the more interesting fight, but Dust has a better narrative, more likeable characters, and more arresting dungeon design. Still, you can always buy both.

WHaT HaPPeNS NeXT?

?

The labyrinth will evolve as players reach certain milestones. ACE Team isn’t saying how, exactly. Head-tohead multiplayer is a possibility, too.

Should one of the three characters croak, a clumsy, underpowered soldier will take their place. If you can reach an altar, you’ll be able to revive your character at full health. This takes the sting out of death – effectively, you’re just switching to another character – and leads to great last-ditch comebacks. There’s nothing quite like falling to the spin-attack of an undead conquistador only to polish him off a few seconds later with a musket volley. For want of a less obvious pun, Abyss Odyssey isn’t as deep as it could be. The props of which levels are composed don’t reward repeated exposure like Spelunky’s ghosts, explodable blocks, and throwable damsels. Combat is hampered by lack of auto-lock, and the co-op multiplayer suffers from friendly fire and latency. Still, these are the flaws on a buried gem. If you enjoy dungeon crawling as much as Street Fighter, this nightmare has your name on it. OXM

Overall Thanks to intelligent combat, a lovely esthetic and some great concepts, this imperfect dungeonbrawler stands out from the crowd.

7 www.TOTAlXBOX.COM


Lighting is much harsher in both games now, and it provides some wonderfully hyperreal moments.

worldmags.net worldmags.net revIew Despite constant threat, life in the metros continues.

You’d never know this was a four-year-old game, would you?

PUblishER DEEp SILvER / DEvElOPER 4A GAMES / fORMaT XBOX ONE / RElEasE DaTE OUT NOW

METRO REDUX REviEWER saM WhiTE live Jams Bend @samwrite

ThE knOWlEDgE WhaT is iT? Brilliantly paced atmospheric postapocalyptic shooter. WhaT’s iT likE? Eerie, dark and full of supernatural mystery. WhO’s iT fOR? Anyone who’s handy with a flashlight and a gas mask.

Nuclear family

W

e’ll forgive you if the Metro games passed you by first time around. Based on Russian novels and made by a Ukrainian studio, Metro 2033 and its successor, Last Light, offered a slower-paced, more atmospheric mutation of firstperson shooting compared to CoD’s gung-ho theatrics. Now spruced up for Xbox One, they still stand apart. The most dramatic update is to 2010’s Metro 2033. 4A has smartly adapted it to reflect modern standards, porting Last Light’s interface into the game. While this doesn’t completely reinvigorate things – you’ll fight waves of enemies and tackle quick time jump-scares – it makes the game much tighter to

The OXM verdict

PrO TIP

control and easier to pick up if you’re only familiar with current shooters. The studio has done an even more impressive job of reworking each title’s visuals. Unsurprisingly, the improvements to 2033 are more noticeable: Textures have been remodeled, lighting has been improved drastically, and some scenes have been changed entirely to create a more cohesive Metro experience – we won’t spoil any particular moments, but it’s great to see such attention to detail. Coupled with a rock-solid 60fps on both games, this is a stellar remaster. Most importantly, the games themselves are still excellent, avoiding the Bruckheimer-like flamboyance that has consumed CoD and Battlefield, in favor of something darker and more

THe DIFFereNCe ON… XBOX ONe

COMPLeTION CLOCK

22

Be sure to explore – ammo, equipment, and environmental stories hide off the beaten path.

@OXM

2033 looks like a completely new game, with new assets and all-new lighting, while Last Light receives minor polish and tweaks.

hOURS

moving. The eerie Moscow underground and irradiated monster-infested streets require you to be patient to survive, conserving ammo and any other supplies you happen to come across. If you’ve already experienced it then the new visuals are reason enough to return, but Redux also adds two types of play style: Spartan and Survivor. The former caters more towards your standard shooter player, and the latter ups the ante on, you know, surviving. A comprehensive rebuttal of the notion that next-gen remakes are only created for publishers to make a quick buck, this is a superbly polished update to two great games. Smart design tweaks and excellent visual advancements mean that life in the metro has never been better. OXM

OveraLL 4A Games can’t turn back time, but it’s done everything to ensure that both Metro games feel comparable to today’s standards. Beautiful, compelling and distinctly original, Redux is a must.

9

ThE OffICIAL XBOX MAGAzINE / 79


worldmags.net worldmags.net revIew The mechs are a diverse, cutely animated bunch, though they’re a bit boring next to other MOBa characters. Neutral bases are hostile to all players – a strategic advantage on some maps.

If you see this many tanks sitting around a base, it’s time to get more turrets.

PublIsher UBISOFT / DevelOPer CARBON GAMES / FOrMAt XBOX 360 / releAse DAte OUT NOw

AIrMech ArenA

Ubisoft might mech a MOBA fan out of you yet

revIewer eDwIn evAnsthIrlwell live OXM ETboy @dirigiblebill

the knOwleDge whAt Is It? A top-down, freeto-play mix of twinstick blasting and real-time strategy. whAt’s It lIke? Running an entire military operation from the ground, as a Transformer. whO’s It FOr? Fans of fast-paced yet thoughtful action and MOBAs.

Y

ou remember schoolyard games of imaginary oneupmanship? One person pretends to be a fighter jet and somebody says they’re a spaceship, so someone else claims to be Dino-Rah, devourer of jets and spaceships? That’s AirMech. Player 1 might rock up as a flying saucer, prompting Player 2 to fly in a tank. Player 3 arrives with a billion armored cars. Finally, once Players 1-3 are nothing but smoking LEGO bricks, Player 4 rolls in and casually claims the base. And these exchanges rarely take more than a few minutes.

Iron fist

The obvious parallel is ancient Sega Genesis title Herzog Zwei. As in that

The OXM verdict

BeTTer ThaN…

the lOrD OF the rIngs: guArDIAns OF MIDDle-eArth Monolith’s first stab at both Tolkien and the MOBA came up short on balance, depth and presentation. We hope the forthcoming Shadow of Mordor makes up for that.

80 / THE OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAzINE

game, your mech can transform into a flying vehicle to ferry AI troops around, reverting to mech form to access more combat abilities. You set build orders for units, structures, and power-ups using the D-pad – the construction bar is confusing, thanks to the size of the icons, but workable with practice. New units can be collected from any of your bases and given attack orders or flown to a hotspot. In a nod to MOBAs, bases churn out free, feeble “Creeps,” who trickle across the map to the enemy’s HQ, raising a flag over any undefended bases they encounter. It’s thoughtful and frantic, with a healthy mode selection: Six-player, team-based head-to-head; fourplayer co-op; and offline survival or skirmish battles for solo play. There’s

The BesT BIT

Building a massive army of cheap tanks while a co-op partner creates a diversion. Surprise!

DID yOu kNOw?

?

According to analyst Swrve, only 49% of players buy anything in a freeto-play, mostly in the first 24 hours.

an addictive, but laggy, Spectate mode, but not much story. Still, the tech tree creates enough longevity: New mechs to customize, Pilots (i.e. parcels of stat buffs) to unlock, and cosmetic bolt-ons. If you can’t be bothered to level up, you can use real money to unlock items. At the time of writing, AirMech Arena is so savagely receptive to improvisation that paid-for boosts are generally swamped. But approach with caution if you’ve been burned by microtransactions in the past. Xbox Live Arcade continues to be a surprising source of contenders. AirMech Arena isn’t the best on offer, but it’s an engrossing sim that should help alleviate the summer drought. Disagree? A million warping stealth bombers says you’re wrong. OXM

Overall A smart, bloodthirsty blend of ideas from MOBAs, action games, and RTSs, with intense yet rewarding multiplayer. Beware the microtransactions, though. And robots with death rays.

8 www.TOTALXBOX.COM


worldmags.net worldmags.net

There are three types of creature card – shooters, melee front-liners, and flyers.

revIew

Some decks are all about sabotaging enemy cards, rather than fielding your own.

publisher UBISOfT / develOper UBISOfT / fOrMAt XBOX 360 / releAse dAte OUT nOw

reviewer edwin evAnsthirlwell live OXM ETboy @dirigiblebill

the knOwledge whAt is it? A collectible-card game set in the Might & Magic universe. whAt’s it like? Playing Slapjack using banknotes against a Hungry Hippo. whO’s it fOr? Strategy fans with +10 resistance to in-app purchases.

Might & MAgic duel Of chAMpiOns – fOrgOtten wArs

Pick a card, any card. Preferably from the $9.99 add-on deck

A

ssuming the title didn’t shut down your synapses, know that the most powerful entity in Forgotten Wars isn’t a dragon or a griffin, or a dragon riding a griffin, but a humble shopkeeper. His name is Emilio, and you’ll see him every match. Emilio’s purpose is to sell you the 300+ cards that aren’t included with the base Forgotten Wars download, together with gold (also earnable ingame) that can be spent to fast-track the unlocking of the 300+ cards that are. He does this with an endgame slot machine (free to spin when you win, 500 gold otherwise). Three of its five slots are for cards that only appear in decks sold separately, cards that are more tempting than the vanilla variety.

The pushiness of the microtransactions would be understandable if Forgotten Wars were free-to-play, but the base game costs $9.99. That's a shame, because this one-on-one card battler is more enticing than the heavy-handed salesmanship suggests, especially if you’re able to find a human opponent rather than tackling the so-so AI. The basics are easy to pick up. Battles take place on a 16-square grid. At either end sits a hero who can be attacked by deployable creature cards, unless you put something in the way. Besides the creatures, there are spells that may affect part or all of the board, event cards that are played at the start of each turn to change the conditions of battle, and a graveyard for slain

The OXM verdict

PrOS/CONS

XBOX lIve

✔ Fun and inventive variety of cards

✖ Why not buy another deck?

✔ Solid tactical balance overall

✖ Rarely dazzles with its originality

✔ Perfectly playable without additional purchases

✖ Looks like every fantasy card game ever made

@OXM

There’s ranked online multiplayer with eight levels of progression, but almost nobody is playing Forgotten Wars at the time of writing. Just as well you can fall back on local hotseat multiplayer. The AI can resort to cheap tactics, such as using resource cards to flood the board with cheap units, so you’ll want to find human foes.

DID yOu kNOw?

?

There have been more than 30 Might & Magic games and spinoffs since the first in 1986 – it's nearly as old as Edwin.

creatures, who can be restored to your hand using certain abilities. There’s variety between cards and their six factional decks: Among other devilish tricks, you’ll play cards that allow you to reposition enemies when they’re deployed, and cards that inflict poison damage proportional to the number of cards in your graveyard. The esthetic – so old hat for a fantasy game that it’s practically hammered together from strips of leather – does all this a disservice: one demon isn’t another, though they may seem identical on the surface. The bigger downer is the pressure to invest: Forgotten Wars is a familiar but enjoyable experience that too often feels like the gilded veneer on a system built to take your money. OXM

Overall Not quite forgettable, thanks to a good core tactical balance, diverse line-up of cards and some infuriating microtransactions. Hit the road, Emilio.

6

THE OffIcIAl XBOX MAgAzInE / 81


worldmags.net worldmags.net revIew

Certain decks have themes, making you play in a different way – this hydra set is a pain.

A comprehensive bunch of info panes teach you what each card can do.

Publisher WIzArdS Of THE COAST / DevelOPer STAInLESS GAMES fOrMat XBOX 360 / release Date OUT nOW

revieWer JOe skrebels live OXM Joe @2plus2isjoe

the knOWleDge What is it? An introductory, exploratory take on Wizards’ indisputably excellent card game. What’s it like? A clumsy, appropriately greedy take on Wizards’ cash-grab card game. WhO’s it fOr? Amateurs looking to get into the real thing, Hearthstone refugees.

Magic 2015: Duels Of the PlanesWalkers SOS: CCG OAP goes MIA

W

e live in a postHearthstone world. The free-to-play virtual card game should never have taken off, but Blizzard could make a success out of a game that’s just clicking on gray boxes to see what’s ins– oh, wait. Diablo. It changed how Magic 2015 is seen. The annual downloads are normally a mix of an ad (and tutorial) for the physical game and the collectible-cardgame equivalent of a newspaper chess problem. But with Blizzard cleaning up, Duels of the Planeswalkers needs to prove it’s a contender to a new throne.

Plane to see

Which makes it odd that this year its developer has included fewer features

than ever. The usual campaign – filled with regular and themed challenge duels – and multiplayer modes remain, but the more singular events of past years, your Archenemy and TwoHeaded Giant, have been dropped. You can now build your own deck, but the rate you unlock cards has been slowed down, presumably to accommodate new Booster Pack microtransactions of otherwise unobtainable cards. Even the plush table backdrop has been swapped for an abstract white plane, as if the characters from The Matrix have stopped off for a round of Constructed. The core of the game remains almost peerless in design, down to Magic’s excellence and Stainless’ years of tweaks, giving it both the considered

The OXM verdict prO TIp

XBOX lIve

Ignore the game’s attempts at stringing together a storyline. Your sense of pleasure at cohesive narratives will thank us.

Unless you’re playing with friends, we wouldn’t recommend trying online multiplayer until you’ve finished the campaign (even though it unlocks after the first chapter). We noticed little matchmaking to speak of, meaning our starter deck was quickly crushed by piles of combo-spewing nightmare cards. Educational, but horrifying to witness.

82 / THE OffICIAL XBOX MAGAzInE

DID yOu knOw?

?

Magic: The Gathering creator, Richard Garfield, also designed 2008’s Spectromancer. It’s not great, either.

pace of the physical game and the freeflowing feel of a digital edition (although turn off the “Auto Land” option, as for some reason the AI simply cannot deal with assigning mana any more). Unfortunately, that’s matched by a clumsy, and often glitchy, menu system that slows down navigation and even crashes games in progress. In the context of the wider market, Magic 2015 is, if not commercial suicide, at least a Three Stooges pratfall, a faintly embarrassing example of a company failing to keep pace with its competitors, even with a superior base product. Of course, you can't actually play Hearthstone on Xbox right now – but the fact we’re considering it at all should tell you everything you need to know. OXM

OverAll There’s never been more interest in card games, but this venerable series gets its worst entry. A comprehensive intro to Magic, but Duels is hardly the showcase it needs to be.

5 WWW.TOTALXBOX.COM


worldmags.net worldmags.net revieW

Block and you’ll eventually run out of stamina. rolling, meanwhile, makes you almost untouchable.

PubLISHER DEEP SIlvER / DEvELOPER PIRAnHA ByTES / FORMAT XBOX 360 / RELEASE DATE OUT nOW

REvIEWER EDWIN EvANS-THIRLWELL Live OXM ETBoy @dirigiblebill

THE kNOWLEDgE WHAT IS IT? Open-world thirdperson action RPG with pirates and demons. WHAT’S IT LIkE? Watching Captain Hook try to unravel a tangled Slinky. WHO’S IT FOR? RPG fans with no pride but lots of patience.

RISEN 3: TITAN LORDS

A risible third entry for one of role-playing’s least wonderful series

H

alf the fun of open-world titles is poking at the underlying incompatibility between freedom of player action and the illusion’s solidity – the places where the shiny clockwork that allows you to Go Anywhere, Anytime, and Do Anything can be jammed with a mischievously inserted finger. Risen 3’s claim on your time derives almost entirely from this idea. Judged on any other terms, it’s a bit of a disaster. Wherever you travel and whatever you do, you’ll run into a glaring design fault or technical blunder. There are times when the game is so bad it feels like a prank: When you kill a duck and it drops a chicken drumstick, for example. Or when you open the inventory screen and remember that

The OXM verdict

PrOS/CONS

The WOrST BiT

✔ Environments are eye-catching ✔ Plenty of missions ✖ The combat system is dire ✖ Riddled with bugs

@OXM

When you’re mobbed by insect enemies and have to roll constantly to avoid being killed.

you’re playing as Jason Statham’s drunk pirate cousin, a character whose idea of an Evil Dialog Option is laboring the F-word like he’s forgotten how to spell it. Or when you discover a tree with no lower third. But pirate Statham’s got more to worry about than floating trees – a demon has sucked out his soul. How does one get by without a soul? By guzzling the hearts of other demons, smashing magic hellspawn vending machines, and undertaking chores on behalf of everybody you meet. The trek spans several islands that together form a generously proportioned open world, with much to discover simply by walking in a random direction and stabbing the first thing you see. It’s quite a pleasant place to explore,

WOrSe ThaN… kINgDOMS OF AMALuR: REckONINg Don’t be put off by the ratty graphics or the fact the developer immediately went bankrupt: This is a smart, tactical, and bulky action RPG in the Fable mold.

providing you forgive the strained hybridization of piratical and high fantasy cliché – and you squint hard enough to filter out the glitches. Sooner or later, though, you’ll have to fight something, and the rot sets in with a vengeance. The framework of gear and abilities over which Risen 3’s combat is stretched has potential. The choice of stats and skills isn’t remarkable for an RPG, but there’s enough of a gap between, say, a master of potions and a sniper to keep a Skyrim player vaguely immersed. But battle itself is all about blundering through simple combos till an enemy knocks you out of your loop, or the shaky hit detection trips you up. It’s the nail in a coffin that belongs at the bottom of the ocean. OXM

Overall A large, open world and plenty of options can’t make up for trainwreck technology, bad writing, and clumsy combat. This is one Titan you shouldn’t bother to slay.

4

THE OFFICIAl XBOX MAGAzInE / 83


worldmags.net worldmags.net

online

reviews

Freshly crowned Bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw has been added in a free update. pUbliShEr ea SportS / DEvElopEr ea canaDa / FormAt xbox one / originAl Score 7/10

EA SportS UFC

Feel the fight. Or at least, feel a fight that bears no resemblance to real life

o

rEviEwEr Jon Denton livE Guacamole Kid @jondenton

nline play is a hell of a way to test the depth of a fighting game. masterpieces like Street Fighter IV rise to the challenge, demonstrating almost no exploits or infinite combos, strengthening their cases for greatness as high-level play naturally evolves across servers. weaker games are quickly shamed in the online world, though. when the community finds a cheap way to win, word spreads, and those who should be working to keep the game strong ruin it. case in point: UFC

wE SAiD “A promising debut, but too light on options – in and out of the Octagon – to be the champ it wants to be.”

Undisputed 3. a decent effort offline, but spoiled by a takedown spam technique that was almost impossible to stop. EA Sports UFC sits somewhere between the two. it was never going to have the complexity or precision of the finest fighting games, but given ea (and the Fight Night team’s) experience in online action, you’d hope for a level of competence. and that’s exactly what we get. in

the game’s championship mode, you battle through a series of belt classes, with promotion and relegation acting much like FIFA’s Seasons mode, and matches are largely lag-free and consistent. the problems come from the game’s own shortcomings. as has been well documented, the input for throwing a ridiculous, never-seen spinning cartwheel kick is simpler than chucking a left hook to the body. and many players spam these absurd moves over and over again. they’re easy to dodge, but should you get caught with a couple of spinning wheel kicks by the likes of Jon

“You’re not punished much for dumb attacks, but blocking depletes energy”

Jones, you’re probably not going to survive to tell the tale. the problem lies in the stamina system. You’re not punished much for throwing dumb attacks, but holding the block button depletes your energy. it’s crazy – the idea that standing with your arms up is as tiring as throwing thirty head kicks is the reasoning of people who’ve never been in a gym, or (more likely) couldn’t come up with a solution to combat those who play defensively. occasionally, you’ll get into fights with people who want to play ‘properly’, and you can recreate an approximation of the real thing. Strategy remains basic – stick to striking or look for takedowns – but there’s some thought and consideration to go along with all the face-punching.

ArE wE hAving FUn yEt? Our first hour rendered as a wavy line… Straight into a match, and it’s smooth.

AmAzing EnjOyAblE AnnOying RAgE Quit minutes

0

84 / the official xbox magazine

10

Spinning kick, spinning kick, spinning kick.

…but if we pick a weaker fighter, no chance.

At least we can work around the spammers… 20

30

Promotions, harder fights, smarter opponents.

Pick a champ, fighting smart, winning. 40

50

60

www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net occasionally, games will say they’re starting, but then drop out just after confirming they do exist.

review

weight classes are squashed together, making for some serious mismatches.

expect online players to grab a clinch and crush you with their knees.

pUbliShEr UbiSoft / DEvElopEr UbiSoft montreal / FormAt xbox 360 & xbox one / originAl SCorE 7/10

wAtCh DogS

Prepare to watch your watches

most frustrating is the way the fighters are divided by weight. instead of sticking to selections from each weight class, many are stuck together. this is presumably to make matchmaking easier, but when a flyweight (125lb champ) is in the same online weight class as José aldo (145lb champ), there’s no point picking him. he’s going to get destroyed by a much bigger, stronger opponent. EA Sports UFC has the fundamentals: matchmaking is functional, online play is largely smooth, and, obviously, it looks the part. time for brian hayes and his team at ea canada to head into a gym, wrap their hands, strap on gloves, and work on their skills for next year. it’s going to be a hell of a fight. oXm

F

rEviEwEr Paul Taylor livE Paulus McT @mynameispt

or a game about hacking and taking what you want, it’s ironic that trying to get into multiplayer Watch Dogs is all about patience. there’s an ‘average’ wait-time indicator in the top-left corner of the screen that blatantly lies to you, just like your parents did when you were a kid: “when are we going to leave the store, it’s booorrrring?” “when am i going to get into a game, it’s booorrring?” “You said one minute a minute ago...” Watch Dogs, however, cannot be nagged into acquiescence, and resolutely refuses to get you what you’re after until it’s good and ready. Sometimes, when it’s at its most hilarious and the mythical minute is finally over,

wE SAiD “Thoroughly competent and very handsome, Watch Dogs feels like it’s too late to the party.”

the matchmaking system simply shrugs its shoulders and gives up. which is odd, since in its first 24 hours on sale, Watch Dogs sold more copies than any other game in Ubisoft’s history. logically, then, there’s either no one playing online, or the matchmaking service has – dare we say it – gone to the dogs. once you do finally get in, however, you’re treated to a slim but competent range of multiplayer games. as we said in the review, you’re very unlikely to ditch GTA V in favor of this, and the multiplayer on its own isn’t a reason to buy the game. we recommended you tweak all the online options to maximum carnage from the main menu – that includes friendly fire off, adversarial free roam (xbox one

The oXM verdict Competent combat, but too many shortcomings to reach championship level. @oxm

6

only) on, and the ability to be invaded by other players. online Decryption is the go-to mode for guns, cars, and laughs, and although it’s very familiar, it’s also going to reliably (connection depending) give you an adrenaline rush. online tailing is the only mode that doesn’t require your opponent to accept it per request (unlike the almost identical online hacking), and it is remarkably tense, plus it’s the mode that ties best into the overall theme. Kudos to the ctoS mobile app, as the racing routes here point out all those in-between spaces in the game world that were previously, mysteriously, devoid of mission markers. You could spend your time in free-roam mode or vehicle races if you really wanted to, but there’s this city called los Santos that does that better than anyone else. oXm

The oXM verdict

Hack the CCTv cameras while playing in a poker tournament to gain an unfair advantage.

A slim selection of modes blocked off by a matchmaking system that needs fixing. Disappointing.

6

the official xbox magazine / 85


on

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the

download

ALSo ReLeASeD

latest add-ons and indie games rated

From best to worst, the latest additions to Xbox Live Marketplace

these Corrosive egg Crawlers will emit equipment-degrading gas and, once in the air, can deliver a powerful leaping attack.

1 Sniper elite 3: Hunt tHe Grey Wolf Track Hitler and his double to the town of Tobruk. You can’t be sure which is which. Price: $7.99

publiSHer namco banDai / Developer from Software / format xbox 360 / revieWer ben maxwell / priCe $9.99

Dark SoulS ii: CroWn of tHe Sunken kinG

2 painkiller Hell & Damnation: City CritterS

The Souls series’ darkest, toughest challenge yet

f

rom the moment we push open the large doors that lead to Dark Souls 2’s new aztectinged area, there’s a feeling of discomfort. it’s not anything to do with a lack of quality – the notoriously sadistic from Software digs deep. while you will certainly encounter stout aggressors, the oppressive atmosphere has more to do with Crown of the Sunken King’s welcome return to labyrinthine level design. while Dark Souls 2’s world sprawls out in narrow, spidery paths, the four smaller areas that make up the Sunken King Dlc are tightly entwined and, for a time at least, difficult to mentally map. as a result, pressing onward into Shulva or Dragon’s Sanctum is nerve-wracking, as crumbling

pathways, perilous chasms and nimble enemies conspire to keep you off balance. the upside is the elation when you discover that a path which looked likely to take you further from safety turns out to be a shortcut to a previous bonfire. Sunken King’s architecture toys with you, then, but it also allows you to toy with it. triangular rods emerge from the ground. hit them with your sword or an arrow and they’ll screw into the floor, activating long-dormant mechanisms. Structures and platforms can be raised and lowered, connecting new pathways, revealing hidden corners, and occasionally knocking an enemy from their

perch. this puzzling isn’t simply raising bridges – even an ng+ veteran will be ill-prepared for the surprising amount of platforming. the creatures that stalk these areas include new creations and twists on the familiar. the best of these echo the playful level design – a towering spectral entity that’s invulnerable until you damage its corporeal form’s possessions, for example. the boss encounters are memorable for less pleasant reasons. there’s no lack of spectacle, but they depart from the carefully judged escalation by having difficulty spikes so jarring as to feel like a caricature. even so, this is an essential addition. oXm

“Be the Tarzan of doom” in new urban environments with revamped enemies. Price: $6.99

Zombie Driver HD: brutal Car SkinS

3

Seven new skins to splatter with zombies, including a hippy bus and “pimp limo”. Price: $0.99

//the architecture toys with you, but also allows you to toy with it//

4

tranSformerS: rotDS – tHunDerCraCker

Play as Thundercracker, a Decepticon master of flight and aerial combat. Price: $1.99

the oXM Verdict

even the first enemies you encounter in Sunken King are fast, powerful, and somewhat decomposed.

86 / the official xbox magazine

It may be tough, but Crown of the Sunken King delivers some of the series’ best, most intricate level design so far.

8

5

GriD autoSport: beSt of britiSH paCk

Drive three Brit cars, including the McLaren F1 GTR and the Aston Martin V12 Zagato. Price: $2.99 www.totalxbox.com


worldmags.net worldmags.net

Battlefield’s tediously named ‘levolution’ features play a big role in several new maps, particularly Sunken dragon.

publiSHer ea / Developer Dice / format xbox 360 & xbox one / revieWer aoife wilSon / priCe $14.99

battlefielD 4: DraGon’S teetH

Has Battlefield 4’s fourth DLC pack got any bite, or is it waterlogged?

t

he fourth of five planned expansions, Dragon’s Teeth brings together four new multiplayer maps set in asia: Sunken Dragon, Propaganda, Pearl market, and lumphini garden. the snow and concrete of Propaganda was our favorite, though Pearl market is enjoyably destructible. lumphini garden is picturesque and

Sunken Dragon is lovely in motion. there are five new weapons, a controllable unmanned ground vehicle named rawr (see what they did there?), ten assignments, and fun new mode chain link, a sortof ctf where you link together sequential capture points. it hasn’t been the most stable game, but at least BF4 is still doing Dlc packs right. oXm

format xbox one & xbox 360 / revieWer aoife wilSon / priCe $4.99

8

format xbox one / revieWer aoife wilSon / priCe free

trialS fuSion: riDerS of tHe ruStlanD

t

the oXM Verdict Battlefield 4 hasn’t been too stable since launch, but this pack helps. Varied maps and a fun new mode – we like.

ea SportS ufC upDate

he first of six planned content packs for Trials Fusion focuses on dusty courses outside the shiny, classy area where the rest of Fusion takes place. it adds 10 new tracks – including six classics, two new supercrosses, one skill game, and one fmx – and 18 new challenges, including more secret mini-games. not bad for five bucks. oXm

7

t

his free update adds three new fighters to Ufc’s roster. there’s the bantamweight champion tJ Dillashaw, who our reviewer Joel Snape noted had been left out at launch; bantamweight veteran takeya mizugaki; and welterweight tyron woodley. fans can touch (or refuse to touch) gloves as the fight starts, land extra blows during a knockout, and break free from a clinch when backed against a cage. and the patch updates alexander gustafsson’s tattoo. So, there’s that. oXm

7

Indie Roundup / The latest hidden gems and DIY disasters

tHe party So dumb it manages to be entertaining, but for all the wrong reasons.

***** @oxm

amaZinG prinCeSS SaraH Despite its offputting cover and unnecessary jiggle physics, this is a decent platformer.

*****

fat DraGonS A cute keepy-upper. The graphics aren’t anything to write home about, but it’s good for one more go.

*****

SuperColliDer This barely functioning platformer looks dire, and its attempts at humor fall flat. Best avoided.

*****

HalloWeen SCream 2 A dull text-based adventure. What kind of vampire gets apprehended by museum security staff?

*****

the official xbox magazine / 87


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next month

special feature

the exclusives the games you’ll only play on xbox alien: isolation reviewed throwing down with wwe 2k15

all contents subject to change

how world of tanks invaded xbox

88 / the official xbox magazine

ON SALE 10/14/14 SUBSCRIBE ON PAGE 95

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Squeezing more from your machine every month

page

93 90 oXM investigates

Quake, Fallout and the original Wolfenstein – all easter eggs to be found in The New Order.

92 now Playing

Wolfenstein: The New Order, Burnout Paradise and Halo 3: ODST are all reappraised.

94 Community spotlight

the PC community can’t get enough of world of tanks. how’s it looking over on Xbox 360?

wolfenstein: 90 the new order page

the hidden secrets in MachineGames’ nazi shooter.

page

92 @oXM

page

93

96 oXM replay

As we wait for Bioware’s future, we look back at its storied past.

98 the final Countdown want to make an indie game, but lacking in ideas? You’re welcome.

page

96 the offiCiAl XBoX MAGAzine / 89


worldmags.net worldmags.net xbox

extra

oxm INVeStIGateS Uncovering the other side of xbox gaming

Secrets of the Third Reich Uncovering the hidden Easter eggs of Wolfenstein: The New Order

R

eal life is full of Easter eggs. For instance, did you know Five Guys’ secret menu includes a burger between two grilled-cheese sandwiches? But while most real-world secrets involve getting extra cheese into fast food, videogame secrets can almost always trace their origins back to Wolfenstein 3D’s myriad hidden rooms and corridors. Wolfenstein: The New Order pays particular homage to this clandestine tradition, festooned as it is with Easter eggs, knowing nods, nostalgic references, and even an entire mini-game. We spoke to MachineGames’ creative director Jens Matthies about our favorites.

//We recorded ‘Mein leben!’ for each of the actors that play the infantry, but you have to fulfill very special criteria for it to happen// 90 / ThE OFFicial xBOx MaGaziNE

WWW.TOTalxBOx.cOM


worldmags.net worldmags.net xbox

extra

//chuck a knife at a target, then take a nap, and you’ll be transported to a level set in the original Wolfenstein 3D//

//1. THE GIANT DOOR

//2. THE FEVER DREAM

//3. THE KEYcHAIN

This one’s not exactly difficult to spot as it’s a massive vault door, but there’s every chance you overlooked what was printed on its front. hidden in plain sight in the hangar area of Kreisau’s headquarters is the entrance to none other than Vault 101, the centerpiece and origin of the Fallout series, with which The New Order shares a publisher. There’s little mystery behind its inclusion: The team at MachineGames simply really like Fallout. “That game is in my top-five list of best games in history,” says Matthies. “So yeah, when we put this giant vault door in the Kreisau base, it was too tempting to put a big ‘101’ sign on the front of it.”

head to the top floor of the Kreisau base and you’ll find a box of throwing knives next to an archery target. chuck a knife at the target and take a nap on the nearby mattress and you’ll find The New Order’s biggest Easter egg: a whole level set in the original Wolfenstein 3D. “creating the level was actually technically challenging, as we had to recreate enemies as these flat, 2D sprites that would always face you,” says Matthies. “We use the same enemy ai in that level as we do in the normal game, so there’s actually a fully 3D but invisible character driving that sprite. When you shoot at the sprite, you’re actually shooting this invisible soldier behind it.”

as resistance member Bobby Bram is driving you through Nazi-controlled london en route to the Nautica, take a look at his keychain as it dangles from the car’s ignition. Fans of Quake will recognize that game’s rocket launcher weapon hanging from the fob. it’s a tiny metal homage to id Software, the studio responsible for the original Wolfenstein 3D as well as Wolfenstein: The New Order’s graphics engine. “That’s a good catch for those who saw it,” laughs Matthies. “it’s not obvious what it is from that angle! We were looking for things to add movement to that scene and we thought of adding a keychain. One of us thought it’d be a great idea for it to be this rocket launcher.”

//4. THE BEATLES

//5. THE HIDDEN LETTERS

//6. THE ELUSIVE “MEIN LEBEN”

References to The Beatles, or at least their alternate reality doppelgängers Die Käfer, are strewn throughout The New Order. You can find a copy of their greatest hit, ‘Mond Mond, Ja Ja’ (Moon Moon, Yeah Yeah), in the catering area of the train after speaking with Frau Engel, just before reaching the passenger cabins. Matties has some concerns. “i’m actually on the fence about the name, Die Käfer,” he admits. “The English name is a pun, it sounds like the insect but it’s spelled like the musical term. The pun doesn’t work in German, it’s just ‘beetle.’ That kinda got a little lost! But on the other hand, it is the Nazi empire, so maybe they’re just a little more humorless.”

Journal scraps and decorative notes are littered about The New Order like papery confetti. They all contain snippets of collectible text that flesh out the game universe – if you can be bothered to read them. Some of the literature is harder to find than others, such as Matthies’ two personal favorites. “in the asylum, there’s a gap in one of the smaller staircases through which you can see a little door. if you shoot the latch you can access that area and find some stuff. That’s a typical case of a hidden room that’s hard to find. Otherwise, Bobby Bram’s letter by his bed later in the game is probably my favorite; it was personally written by our cEO, Jerk Gustafsson.”

in the original game, certain Nazi officers would, upon realizing they’d just been shot to death, exclaim the digitized throe “Mein leben!” The odd phrase became somewhat iconic, leading to claims that MachineGames has hidden the line somewhere inside The New Order. Excitingly, it’s quite possibly the only Easter egg to have remained undiscovered by players, and Matthies isn’t offering any clues. “We made a point of recording ‘Mein leben!’ for each of the actors that play the infantry,” he reveals, “but you have to fulfill very special criteria for it to happen. and i don’t know if anybody has discovered how to do it. i haven’t seen it pop up on YouTube yet.”

@OxM

ThE OFFicial xBOx MaGaziNE / 91


worldmags.net worldmags.net XBOX

EXTrA

I managed to play this bit – you have to kill all the Nazis and their pet dog.

NOw p l Ay I N G

Matthew Castle is playing

Wolfenstein: The New Order BECAUSE… “I technically can’t finish it – it didn’t install properly” LOviNg Getting whiplash from sudden tonal shifts

F

or me, Wolfenstein didn’t end with a bang or a whimper, but an error message concerning a level that hadn’t installed. There I was, a survivor of robot hounds, incinerators, and a Nazi-occupied moon, brought low by a technical hitch. Deathshead, the big bad whom BJ Blazkowicz has pursued for some ten hours, must be laughing his Deathshead off. At the very least he’s feeling vindicated – what better show of his cherished robot strength than an Xbox One hard drive that prevents the hero from putting a bullet in his head? Assuming that’s how it ends, of course. If you’d asked me at the outset how the game would conclude, I would have pointed at the surrounding

HaTiNg Not getting to see the end credits

carnage – corridors decorated with body parts – and said, “Like this, but with beefier weapons and, as a result, even smaller body parts.” But just as the story jumps some 20 years into the future, so the game grows up and develops aspirations beyond painting the walls with Nazis. Perhaps MachineGames will switch into Starbreeze mode. Chronicles of Riddick is never far from my mind as I opt to off commanders before they call in reinforcements. With sneaking so generously implemented, this is my favorite flavor of Wolfenstein. Let me slink into Deathshead’s house and ice him with a grim bespoke hand animation – another throwback to the more grounded presence of Riddick.

//Deathshead, the big bad whom BJ has pursued for some ten hours, must be laughing his Deathshead off// 92 / THe OffIcIAL XBOX MAGAzINe

DeTaiLS Released May 2014 Dev MachineGames Pub Bethesda Softworks Format Xbox 360 & Xbox One Score 9/10, OXM #164 Recap Corridor shooting of old puts on id Tech 5 glad rags and drags us kicking and screaming and shooting into a Nazioccupied 1960s.

Might it end with a broad action throwback? Here, stingy ammo and non-regenerating health asks us to rewire minds grown flabby on CoD’s glorified target galleries. Nimbly using the full space of every area is closer to the Wolfenstein of old, right down to the bits where I aimlessly press action on every door until I find the exit. Of course, it might just press the bizarro button. This is the switch that puts you on the moon one second, and in an underwater vault of Jewish superweapons the next. In this version, Deathshead rides a robot castle, I quiver beneath a bulletproof yarmulke, and the whole shebang takes place in the heart of the sun. I eventually melt, because I can’t find the right door out of the sun, or I escape to set up a shelter for a now defunct army of robot pooches. It is a testament to MachineGames’ bizarre reinvention that this is a distinct possibility – shame I didn’t get the chance to find out. ■ WWW.TOTALXBOX.cOM


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EXTrA

Joe Skrebels is playing

Burnout: Paradise BECAUSE… “I had a vain wish to try Crash Junction again”

I

LOvIng Smashing idiots into passing buses

started playing Paradise, a game I inexplicably missed at release, just to see if Crash Junction held up. The Burnout staple, in which you were placed at an accident hotspot and told to heat it up by jumping, tumbling, and, presumably, murdering dozens of people, was a revelation when I was younger. It was fantastic that a driving game, a genre I distrust in the same way I might a wasp holding a knife, would include a mode so out of keeping with the pure, non-contact spirit. I’ve spent hours playing across various iterations. It remains some of the best pass-thepad multiplayer I’ve ever experienced. But Burnout: Paradise doesn’t include Crash Junction. Criterion, I

HaTIng The sad lack of Crash Junction

DeTaILS

later found out, had “held it back” for a top-down download game, Burnout Crash!, which was bad, obviously. But I had schlepped across the room to put a disc in and waited two hours for the game to update (the free Big Surf Island is huge). I had to stick with this, out of sheer pigheadedness if nothing else. So what else was there to see? Paradise is odd – when you’re playing alone, its tightly-wound city amounts

Released Jan 2008 Dev Criterion Games Pub EA Format Xbox 360 Score 9/10

to a crossover between an unwieldy menu system, Grand Theft Auto pigeonhunting and sun-kissed landscape shots from the CSI title sequence. In the wake of the open-world explosion, it feels one-note, an unfilled place. The meat of the game is where it makes sense. The mixture of event types (races, chases and, er, insurance fraud) and the peculiarly sticky Burnout drive-feel, is fantastic – and the open world’s shortcuts and space for creative play make it even more interesting. It remains odd – a bit like Forza Horizon without the madcap feel – not least because the missing Crash Junction sets it apart from other Burnouts. I’m not sure that’s good, but I found much more to it. ■

Edwin is playing

Halo 3: ODST BECAUSE… “Nathan Fillion’s gut has never been flatter. Also, sadness” LOvIng That it’s the most profound Halo ever

P

erhaps uniquely among blockbuster first-person shooters, ODST is a game of hope about struggling out of the ruins with your dignity. That’s largely because it’s irrelevant in Halo chronology – a sidestory building to a foregone conclusion, between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3. With Master Chief busy, it’s left to a squad of Orbital Drop Shock

@OxM

HaTIng That it’s the most overlooked Halo ever

Troopers headed by Nathan Fillion to investigate the ruins of New Mombasa. The Chief’s absence from the boxart theoretically disempowers the game. In practice, being a grunt rather than a bioengineered hero raises the stakes. You can’t save the world, but you can save a small part, a premise that lends itself to more understated storytelling. While it features most of the enemies, weapons, and vehicles you’ll find in Halo 3, the campaign is heavily influenced by noir detective fiction. Awakening in the wreckage of his pod hours after impact, the Rookie must hunt down artefacts that trigger flashback missions from the perspective of an MIA squadmate. The city is empty save for Covenant patrols

DeTaILS Released Sept 2009 Dev Bungie Pub Microsoft Studios Format Xbox 360 Score 9.5/10

and a sentient AI superintendent, Vergil – a play on the name of the character in Dante’s Inferno who guides the narrator through the world of the dead. His attempts to communicate via car alarms, pre-recorded messages, and malfunctioning ATMs are among the campaign’s most poignant touches. ODST deserves mention for its introduction of Firefight mode – alas, this first-person spin on Gears of War’s co-op Horde Mode has now been dropped from the franchise’s multiplayer arsenal, possibly because it’s been so ripped off by other shooters. Halo 4’s Spartan Ops mode is no substitute. It’s painful but very fitting that a game in which you hunt for relics has become something of a relic itself. ■ THe OFFICIAl xBOx MAgAzINe / 93


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exTrA

Live S p o TLigh T Reporting from Xbox’s biggest communities

The premium model makes sense for those who love the game, but you can play free forever.

World of Tanks Back on the front line, hiding in a bush

Details Dev Wargaming.net / Pub Microsoft Studios / Reporter Jon Denton

I

A few new maps have been added to the rotation.

Don’t be the guy who rolls into the middle and dies instantly. 94 / ThE OffICIAl XBOX mAgAzINE

t’s been six months since Wargaming’s global behemoth World of Tanks made its console debut on Xbox 360, and it has single-handedly proven that free-to-play does have a life outside of PCs and Flappy Bird. In the first few weeks, it was tough to find a full match – battles often took place between small teams of four or five. Not any more, though. The North American server is crammed at any time of the day, and it takes mere seconds to be matchmade into a completely full game. The flightier nature of console players means World of Tanks hasn’t become as tactical and brutally difficult as on PC. There are still plenty of Sunday drivers who are largely clueless, rolling their hulking brutes into open ground, looking for trouble and inevitably finding it in the form of a volley of incoming shell fire. If you’re considered and calm, you can happily hide in a bush for the first few minutes of any match and pick off some stragglers before the real action begins.

on The clock

How we spent our time in the game

40% Hiding In bushes waiting for the action 25% Returning to the garage in humiliation 15% Capturing bases at a snail’s pace 20% Scanning horizons and getting spotted in the process

//It takes mere seconds to be matchmade into a completely full game//

The more experienced players rarely rush, so outflanking and outstrategizing become as vital as accurate blasting.

Tank team

While you will be able to rack up a decent amount of XP and gold just playing on your own, it’s tough to consistently win without joining a team. Even a trio of decent players can be enough to turn the tide of battle. And despite the servers being full, there’s not much of a community surrounding the Xbox 360 version. On PC, World of Tanks is a subculture, but on console it feels more like a cult hit – a populated and enjoyable (albeit slowpaced) action game, but not one that has developed an obsessive following. So, no, you won’t find any YouTubers yelling over World of Tanks Xbox 360 footage, and the forums are still very much PC-focused, but that shouldn’t stop you and a few friends at least venturing in. It’s not CoD, Battlefield, Halo or Titanfall, but World of Tanks is a damn sight better than you might think. ■ If you Do one ThIng In WoRlD of Tanks ThIs monTh, make IT: Actually download it. Free games of this quality are rare; you won’t regret it. WWW.TOTAlXBOX.COm


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extra

the oxm r e p l ay

“I’m very glad I didn’t wear robes today.”

Revisiting the resolutionallychallenged

Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords Tom Hatfield revisits the game too smart to be Star Wars, too broken to be beautiful

DETaiLS Dev Obsidian Entertainment Pub LucasArts Released Dec 2004

0

ne of the first NPCs you encounter in Knights of the Old Republic 2 refers to the Jedi/Sith conflict from the first game as “the Jedi Civil War”. It’s a beautiful phrase that forces you to imagine events from another perspective. The average cantina patron has no idea what a Sith is or how the dark side works. All they see is a bunch of terrifying space wizards thumping one another with laser swords over a religious schism. That’s what I love about KOTOR 2: it takes a universe of light and dark, and paints it in shades of gray. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed BioWare’s original KOTOR, but it’s the peak of the patented BioWare Binary Moral Choice. The black-and-white nature of the Star Wars universe leads

//KOTOR 2 takes a universe of light and dark, and paints it in shades of gray// 96 / THE OffICIAL xBOx MAGAzINE

to ridiculous situations, like the choice between turning off a piece of mining machinery or contaminating an ocean, for literally no gain. Your choices are all good or pantomime evil, which, while fun, doesn’t make for deep narratives. KOTOR 2 lives in the uncomfortable middle ground. One major character, Kreia, is a neutral Jedi, neither dark side nor light, who will criticize you for kindness or cruelty alike. In a way, her middle-ground reasoning is as contrived as the old binary, but the subtle writing presents it as her personal philosophy rather than a law of the universe. The NPCs of KOTOR 2 are full of contradictions, even the hunky Han Solo stand-in the Sith use as a Jedi-killer. The player character is similarly between two worlds, a Jedi who followed the first KOTOR’s Darth Revan to war, but didn’t fall to the dark side with him. You are constantly asked why you did it. You can tell them you should never have gone to war, that you should’ve stuck with Revan and

gone dark or, more interestingly, that you’re still in the middle.

Empty space

The characters of KOTOR 2 know more than you do, you see, and they’re not sharing. Conversations drop hints. When you meet Boa-Dur, he calls you General, but doesn’t explain why. He also alludes to something that happened during the war, back on Malachor V. That’s where it falls apart. Let’s be blunt, KOTOR 2 is unfinished. By the time you reach Malachor V, everything is fading out. The signs were there: Cut content, loot randomly generated rather than placed, and oh so many bugs. The ending violates the “show, don’t tell” rule so hard you can hear the money running out. The popular belief is that Obsidian were pressured to put the game out for the holidays, but we’re talking about a game with two gender-exclusive companions, a fully implemented crafting system, and a card-playing mini-game. If they’d had an extension, WWW.TOTALxBOx.COM


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extra

From the “there is no light or dark…” “oh, just shut up and stab him, Kreia.”

OXM MuSEuM

You can review Mass Effect, and shame us over how many hours we’ve poured into games in the last decade. But you don’t cuss our Cassandra issue 78 / Date December 2007 / Cover rock band

P infLuEnCED by… KOTOR 1 BioWare’s polished, less ambiguous Star Wars epic.

infLuEnCE On… MaSS EffEcT 2 another sci-fi RPG sequel with a morally gray stance.

would they have finished what they started, or added a shaving simulator? In many ways, KOTOR 2 feels like the end of an era. It was the first console game by a group of veteran PC developers, and it shows. Combat is flashy animation over behind-thescenes dice rolling. Literally – KOTOR 2 was one of the last major RPGs based on a pen-and-paper game (Star Wars d20), a holdover from a time when video games followed, rather than led, the market. KOTOR 2 was made in that moment, forever frozen between Baldur’s Gate and Mass Effect. That’s its thing, to be caught between worlds. It’s too sophisticated for a proper Star Wars game, too flashy for the old-school RPGs, too wedded to dice for the new, and too broken to be great, but just broken enough to be unique. WHaT HaPPEnED nEXT Obsidian’s alpha Protocol – just as buggy, broken and magnificently smart as KOTOR 2. @OxM

ast OxM is lucky they’re just that, as if they were around today it’d go badly for Tom Price, who dared to question who plays as Cassandra in Soulcalibur IV. The answer, Tom, is “Aoife,” and seven years on she had to be talked out of hunting you down and explaining why. This being an end-of-year issue, you got a checklist of 150-odd xbox 360 games that scored 8 or higher. It’s a strong list, even so early in the xbox 360’s life, and most of the games on it remain some of our most-played. One of them is Mass Effect, reviewed in the same issue and praised as

“a great science-fiction novel in videogame form.” And we’ll applaud any review that describes Wrex as “kinda like Han Solo with a really vicious streak.” Bravo, past OxM. There’s some great chat about meta post-modernism in gaming before it was cool – in The Simpsons Game, of all things, although the game only earned a 7. The highlight has to be the huge six-page review of Rock Band, with each member of the team taking on guitar, drums, vocals, and bass. This was the beginning of a love affair that lead us to convert an office cupboard into the Rock Band studio. Rock on, past OxM.

//Mass Effect is “a great sci-fi novel in videogame form”//

Is it a good or a bad thing that mags don’t run these advertorials any more? I mean, it’s sexist and exploitative, but in hindsight it sure is funny.

timeShift got a deserved 7/10 (still worth playing if you find it on sale) and an excellent Cher pun in the strapline.

THE OffICIAL xBOx MAGAzINE / 97


the final countdown worldmags.net worldmags.net

11 SURE-FIRE HITS FOR ASPIRING INDIE DEVS

Since ID@Xbox rolled out, there’s been nothing stopping you making a videogame. But what if you don’t have any ideas? Take one of ours. We don’t want money, but if you do make a million dollars, we’d like you to come round and sing Wind Beneath My Wings to us

01

Ankle Simulator Ever wondered what it is like to be an ankle? Recreate the feeling of being the body’s most overlooked joint in this Kinect-powered title that asks you to pretend your thighs are feet and your chest is a calf. Lean forwards, then backwards. Whee!

cheering patients. Then slump to the floor and see, through fading vision, whose lives you’ve saved! Did you just give your lungs to a nurse, or a murderer?

10

02

Jumping Jackie Brown An exciting platformer based on Quentin Tarantino’s adaptation of Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Can you smuggle money from Mexico to the US before a poisonous gas-filled balloon pops on your spiked helmet?

03

Juicy Jeff’s Grotesque Mouthfeel One day, Jeff wakes up to find he’s no longer deliciously juicy, and has developed an alarmingly oily sensation between the

05

Super Time Forza Was there anything wrong with Capy’s brilliant platforming timewarp, Super Time Force? Yes, of course – all those big old pixels. It’s clear they didn’t spend thousands of hours on state-of-the-art graphics. Come on, indie devs, show them up with a hundreds-strong team and millions of pounds of sweet publisher money! tongue and teeth. Can you navigate the sensory circuits of Jeff’s body, and restore him to former juiciness?

06

04

Marine Kisser You play an alien race who, through a misfire of their natural evolutionary instincts, just want to kiss space marines. Can you plant a smacker on their hot stubbly jaws before they gun you down without questioning their own motives?

Dance-Bee Dilemma Jason the Bee has just found a patch of really polleny hibiscus plants, and needs to explain to the hive where they are by performing a complicated figure-of-eight dance. But he’s also taken on a job at a high-class restaurant for well-to-do bees! Can you dance without spilling soup onto a queen bee’s lap?

07

Street Hawk, Airwolf and Knight Rider vs Age Itself Assymetrical co-op designed to please middle-aged men who’re still convinced the pop culture from their childhoods was the best. The three leading vehicular superheros of the ’80s must join forces to stop the process of aging, before their fans become

too mentally decrepit to wallow in pleasant rose-tinted nostalgia.

08

Hyper Organ Donor Rip open your stomach and fling your guts into the cavities of

Fanny by Gaslight An interactive version of the 1944 British movie that never acknowledges any of the modern meanings of the word “fanny”. If successful, consider a version of 1934’s The Gay Divorcee.

11

Peepers McKenzie and the Radicalized Duck With his Ray-Bans and comfy shoes, Peepers McKenzie is one laid-back cookie! So when he’s partnered up with a fanatically religious duck, he’s not pleased. But with the duck’s ability to fit into tiny corridors and glide a bit, and Peepers’ ability to jump a bit higher than the duck, they soon learn that only they can stop corporate America from steering Earth into the sun!

09

Wolfenstein of Wall Street What’s more fun than shooting Nazis? Shooting the psychopaths who perpetuate the worlddestroying myth of perpetual growth, and profit from the ever-widening chasm between rich and poor! Kill them all! Even the ones that seem nice! Especially the ones that seem nice! They’re all complicit! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

next issue of oxm on sale 14 oct. subscribe and save money: see page 95 for details

98 / the official xbox magazine

www.totalxbox.com


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IT’S YOU VS. THE WORLD. Kinect Sports Rivals, built for the power of Xbox One, captures your likeness as a champion and plunges you into a world of sports competition. Take on your friends, your rivals, and the entire world. Available April 8th, 2014.

Xbox.com/KinectSportsRivals


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