Microsoft Cuts Xbox One Price Two Weeks Before E3

 

Console price drops at this time of year aren’t uncommon, but usually they are announced on the E3 stage. Microsoft decided to move two weeks early, chopping another $50 off the price of the Xbox One.

 

The news comes as rumors about two different Xbox One revisions continue to make the rounds. One new hardware configuration, allegedly due this year, is a “slim” version of the currently bulky Xbox One. Form factor updates are common during a console cycle.

 

The other piece of the rumor is a major feature update supposedly coming in 2017. The console, supposedly being developed under the “Scorpio” code name, is reported to feature an upgraded GPU with possible Oculus Rift support.

 

At the same time, rumors about Sony’s plans for the future have been hinted at. The company is also said to be preparing a major feature revision in a new model codenamed “Neo.”

 

Whether either of these upgraded designs will be unveiled at E3 is only in the realm of speculation right now. We’ll know for certain in two weeks.

 

[Source: Microsoft]

 

 

 

Our Take

 

A pre-E3 price cut lends credence to a new model being unveiled at the show. This will clear inventory for those that have been sitting on the sidelines before giving people concrete reason to hold off for a newer model.

 

 

From Overwatch To Pokkén: A Look At More Custom Amiibo Creations

 

The Amiibo craze may not be at its peak anymore, but that hasn’t stopped enthused, talented members of the community from creating custom versions of their favorite figures. We’ve highlighted some of these creations in the past and wanted to look at some of the recent custom Amiibos to pop up.

 

From Shadow Mewtwo as featured in Pokkén Tournament to a couple of Overwatch-themed Amiibos, the community has been hard at work flexing its artistic side recently. Check out the gallery below for some of our favorite recent creations.

 

For more of our favorite custom Amiibos from the past, you can head here, here, and here. For our wishlist of Amiibos we’d like to see (some of which have actually come true!), head here.

 

[Source: RedditSeeJay Lewis on Instagram, Bertolt Blumelfeld on Instagram, GandaKris on Twitter (1), (2), Atomic Walrus on Imgur, Imgur (1), (2), (3)]

 

65daysofstatic On Creating No Man’s Sky’s Generative Soundtrack

 

No Man’s Sky saw a delay recently pushing the game back from its original June 21 release date to August 9. It’s fitting then that its soundtrack has also been shifted to coincide with the game’s new date. The game’s music is being created by band 65daysofstatic, who we spoke to when No Man’s Sky was on our cover back in December of 2014. Ahead of the release of the game’s soundtrack, which you can get here, we spoke with 65daysofstatic’s Paul Wolinski, who plays piano, guitar, and also programs for the band about what has changed since last time we spoke, and what it’s like to create music for one of the most anticipated games of the last few years.

 
 

 

 

Game Informer: What was the biggest unexpected challenge that you encountered since we last spoke in December 2014?

 

Paul Wolinski: Time? 65’s perception of time is a bit fuzzy at the best of times, but it feels like we entered some kind of alternate temporality that speeds up and slows down with very little warning. I imagine it like with the Hello Games studio as the epicentre of an earthquake. And from time to time they go into ‘crunch mode’ or ‘insanity mode’ or whatever they call it. And we are somewhere out at the edges, so when the tremors hit us they are a lot less powerful, but still pretty crazy, and suddenly it feels like there is more to do than is possible in the time you have to do it. But if that was hard work and high pressure for us, then I can’t even begin to imagine how Hello Games have been pulling it off. But they appear to be.

 

 

There have been many other challenges too, but I don’t think they were particularly unexpected.

 

How has this project changed the popularity of the band?

 

Don’t know yet. I suppose we will see when we start touring. Apart from going out to play live shows, everything about being in a band is always pretty nebulous. It’s mostly just the four of us in a room by ourselves, hitting various instruments, hoping to make something that will be somehow useful to people other than just us. Eventually, we put out a record, then go on tour to find out if it worked.

 

 

This project differs in a lot of ways to a usual 65 record, and of course our big hope is that a lot more people hear and enjoy our music because of No Man’s Sky. But right now, as I type, it feels like all of this remains to be seen. Although Supermoon has had a fantastic reception, which is great. All I know for sure is that we are happy with the record we have made, and can’t wait to get back on the road to start playing it to as many people as possible.

 

 

Is Sean Murray really that humble? Or is he a closet egomaniac?

 

We have several theories about this:

 

 
 
    • We live in a simulated universe that has gone off the rails. Sean is an avatar who has been injected into society by the univerrse admin to pull us back from the brink.
 
    • Sean does not exist. He is Half Life 3 become sentient.
 
    • Sean and the whole No Man’s Sky project is just viral marketing for an as-yet unannounced new JJ Abrams movie.
 
    • Sean is a great guy who has been working really hard for several years on a project really close to his heart, who has been elevated to a weird level of celebrity because of the nature of his chosen medium and the associated hype and most likely he really just wants to be left alone to make sure he maintains creative control over his vision.
 
 

I’m leaning to the simulated universe one, personally.

 

Have you had a chance to play the game?

 

Not really. We played for a few minutes recently to hear how some of our music was responding to the environment. We couldn’t mine enough resources to fix our ship before we got killed by some kind of space dinosaur, so we didn’t actually manage to leave the planet we started on.

 

 

Were you surprised by the scope of the game?

 

Well, we know what the scope of the game was going in, so to say it was a surprise wouldn’t really be accurate. It’s still amazing to us that they’ve pulled it off though.

 

 

And although the process has taken longer than we expected, this too wasn’t entirely unanticipated. The confusion for us has really just been that we are usually in control of our own timeline, because normally our albums are standalone pieces of work. Being a subset of the No Man’s Sky project means that we need to work to their schedule, and that’s not a problem.

 

That being said, we are very much looking forward to being able to release all this music and get back out on the road to support it.

 

For more from Paul Wolinski on creating No Man’s Sky music, including some of his favorite game soundtracks, head to page two. For all our features from when No Man’s Sky appeared on our cover, click the banner below.

 

 

 

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The Sports Desk – What Is The Offseason For?

 

Welcome to Game Informer’s Sports Desk – our weekly column covering the world of video game sports.

 

Of course, all our normal reviews, previews, and news stories will still be front and center on the website, but this is a chance to dive deeper, ask more questions, and explore a multitude of topics of all the sports video games out there. That includes some games we don’t normally cover.

 

Sometimes the column will be an opinion or a hands-on of a recent DLC. Other times I’ll put up a developer interview, tutorial, or a feature on a game that’s already been out but deserves another look.

 

Whatever happens let me know what you think. Add your take in the comments section below or send me an email with an idea of your own.

 

And be sure to come back next Monday for more!

 

What Is The Offseason For?

 

Athletes use the offseason to recharge and rededicate themselves for the grind of the upcoming season. For us gamers, it’s almost like it’s the opposite. The period between when a new sports title is announced and when it comes out is at times less about excitement and more about dread.

 

I’m absolutely guilty of it myself. I recently did a Madden 17 Franchise mode wishlist, and while writing down all the ideas I had, I was both energized by the possibilities and dismayed that many of them wouldn’t happen. Of course, it’s absolutely unrealistic to expect a developer to put in all that stuff even over the course of several years. There’s just too much.

 

More and more we’re spending the offseason holding our breath whether an oft-desired feature or features will make it when the game’s first details hit the public. And when one of them doesn’t, it’s too easy to make your mind up about a game, believe that it won’t be any good, the developer doesn’t care, and you start believing the fallacy of the slippery slope, that if the developer doesn’t do X, then they can’t be trusted with Y.

 

I’ve done it in the past. But the spirit of our game wishlists isn’t as an ultimatum, but as a reason to voice our imaginations and offer constructive criticism. The offseason is certainly a time to think critically on what a game needs to do to get better and how to get there, but let’s save the final judgement for when the title actually comes out and everything can be weighed appropriately. At that time, if a game has bad design, underperforms, breaks promises, has crazy bugs, and whatever else, then let’s by all means pillory it. Until then, however, let’s get ready for the upcoming season.

 

Release List

 

 

Dangerous Golf (PS4, Xbox One, PC) June 3

 

The creators of the Burnout franchise are back with a game that ditches the sports’ clubs and rules and goes after destruction instead. 

 

 

The Ticker

 

 

 

 

Here’s your rundown of some of the recent happenings in the world of video game sports.

 

 

 

The Madden NFL 17 Connected Franchise Mode Wishlist

 

 

27 Ways Madden 17 Wants To Fix Money Plays, Make Ratings Matter & More

 

More Madden Details Direct From EA Tiburon’s Blogs

 

The First Details on Pro Evolution Soccer 2017

 

NASCAR Heat Returns W/ Developer Monster Games

 

Forza 6 Adds NASCAR Expansion

 

 

Gran Turismo Sport Details & Gameplay Trailer

 

Assetto Corsa Delayed Again Into August

 

NBA 2K16 Adds Spectator Mode For Road To The Finals Tourney

 

NBA Live 17 Not Out Until March 2017

 

The NHL 17 Wishlist

 

Rocket League Adds Cross-Platform Play

 

Snow Adds Snowmobiles & Snowboards In Open Beta

 
 
 

Game Informer’s Ultimate Blurry Box Art Challenge

 

You might think you’re a video game Einstein, but prepare to have

 

your video game knowledge tested like never before in this ultimate box

 

art quiz.

 

 

We’ve taken some of the most popular video game box art and blured out the titles. Can you use your expert gaming knowledge to discern their real titles?

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Destiny

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Duke Nukem Forever

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Grand Theft Auto IV

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Halo 4

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: L.A. Noire

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Supper Marlo Gallery 2 ??? (Sorry, I actually forgot the name for this one after I blurred it)

 

 

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: 4 Resident Evil

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Naughty Dog

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Deus Ex: Hum△n Revolution (did you get the whole title?)

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Blur

 

 

Highlight the black box for the answer: Dishonored

 

Did you get them all? Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t. This was a quiz created by professional video gamer dudes. It was suppose to be hard.

 

The Black Watchmen Is A Game That Bleeds Into Your Real Life

 

Back in 2001, I played an EA-published game called Majestic. It was unlike anything I had ever played, as the story was told via cryptic phone calls to my cell phone, AOL Instant Messenger bots, and unsolicited faxes.

 

Ever since its untimely demise, I’ve often hoped someone would bring the concept back. The alternate reality game (ARG) genre spun off in a different direction, becoming a marketing tool with experiences like Halo 2’s ilovebees and The Dark Knight’s Why So Serious (both developed and executed by 42 Entertainment).

 

Alice & Smith’s The Black Watchmen re-centers the genre, making the game the point instead of simply a vehicle for promoting something else. The game, which is currently the only ARG sold on Steam, began as a tie-in with Funcom’s MMO, The Secret World, but has become its own entity. The company is largely business-to-business, offering work for hire and services to game developers.

 

“We started in 2007, doing an experimental alternate reality game,” says Alice & Smith’s Andrea Doyon. “Over the years, we got better and better at it. My partner and I had a marketing agency, and we were approached by Funcom to find out if we could help them with a more elaborate alternate reality game. That’s where we did the Gate 33 pre-launch alternate reality game and later on, the End of Days alternate reality game. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to sell our marketing agency and start a game development company.”

 

In The Black Watchmen, players enlist as an agent, go through simple codebreaking and investigation training using external website tools, and then are let loose on solving puzzles that become progressively more layered and complex. ARGs are carefully constructed webs of truth and falsehoods, with as little differentiation between the two as possible.

 

 

The Black Watchmen has a number of dummy websites that exist simply to further the game’s narrative. In order to interact with them, you’ll need real-world information. For instance, one puzzle required me to log into one of the game website’s intranet. The puzzle required me to source NBA basketball schedules in order to discover a character’s password.

 

There are currently two seasons worth of content, which Doyon says could take players anywhere between 15 and 30 hours to complete per season. There’s also another, optional layer if players want to dive deeper. The third season is in the works right now, but you don’t need to wait for that to jump in.

 

If you start today, you can play all of the solo missions that have been made available. However, if you get caught up by the time season three rolls around, you’ll be able to adjust your agent level to enhance your interaction.

 

The default level is entirely user-motivated. You play when you want.

 

 

However, during the season, you can opt to receive phone calls. There’s no guarantee that you will, as Alice & Smith wants to ensure there is some mystery.

 

The level above that makes you eligible for packages to be delivered to your home. Again, there’s no promise you’ll receive something, but you could have unique information the community needs to progress the story.

 

The top level is limited to one person per season. This requires a physical and psychological examination to ensure you’re up for the task. You’ll need to write an essay explaining why you want to be selected for this elite agent tier, and the community will vote. If appointed, you’ll be flown to a live mission location with actors, sets, and events that require input and cooperation with other players.

 

Unlike Majestic back in 2001, players do have an impact on the story. Doyon says that in crafting each season, the team leaves room for player decisions, feedback, and mission performance.

 

 

“We love to be able to change the story as it happens,” Doyon says. “We generally have 50 percent of the content, the storyline, and the structure of the game before we start the season. So there’s 50 percent that we haven’t decided how it’s going to go. This enables us to take initiative from the players and community. That’s why we release three mission sets, do the live event, and then take a one- or two-week break. In that break, we write the rest of the content and adjust based on how players are enjoying the game.”

 

Doyon explained how the most recent live event impacted the story and demonstrated consequences for player action. Alice & Smith brought in a player who participated in an earlier live event as a top-tier agent. In the scenario, she was kidnapped, with the new live event player and the online community tasked with saving her.

 

“They had to save her, but they didn’t. We deleted her account. We deleted her profile. It was over. The emotion of people when they realized they failed and there were clear consequences was exactly the kind of experience and surprise that we wanted the players to have. You can’t do something like that if you already have your season, your assets, your shooting, your actors.”

 

The puzzles are clever, the storyline is engaging, and the eerie background music and creepy videos help set the stage for sinister happenings. If you are looking for a unique experience that bleeds into your everyday life and requires you to put those Google skills to good use, The Black Watchmen is worth your time. And if you’ve never played an ARG but have always been curious, this is a great place to start.