Comic-Con 2014: The Last of Us Movie Could Star Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark

MrBlondeX We already know a movie based on The Last of Us is in the works, and we now know a candidate to play the female lead: Maisie Williams, best known for her portrayal Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, could star as Ellie.

Williams’ name was cited by Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann–who is set to write the film’s script–during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con today. Sam Raimi, the director of Spider-Man and The Evil Dead, was confirmed as a producer on the film; he was previously known to be involved, but his exact role was not.The prospect of Williams playing Ellie was brought up on Twitter back in April. This resulted in Williams herself responding, “100% would not say no. Ever.” Druckmann replied, “[T]hat makes two of us.” Bruce Straley, co-lead on The Last of Us, joined in, adding, “Am I allowed to be a third wheel to YES this?!” The 17-year-old Williams has not yet been signed to play Ellie, so you shouldn’t take it as a given that she will star alongside whomever ends up playing Joel.Druckmann described the film earlier this year as an “adaptation” of the game’s story. “As far as where we go and how we make it fit into a film, how it takes into account the unique properties of film… We’re not sure yet,” he said. “We’re only just scratching the surface.”Those who have played The Last of Us will know that, at age 17, Williams is several years older than Ellie in the games. The game version of Ellie is played by 30-year-old Ashley Johnson, though obviously age is less of a consideration when doing voiceover and motion-capture work.We’ll get the chance to see what it’s like to experience The Last of Us in a different format on Monday. Johnson, along with Troy Baker (who plays Joel in the games) and several other voice actors will do a live performance of select portions of the game just prior to the release of The Last of Us Remastered for PlayStation 4 on Tuesday.

Who would you like to see cast in the roles of Ellie and Joel? Let us know in the comments.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.comFiled under:The Last of Us First Release on Jun 14, 2013The Last of Us is a post-apocalyptic action shooter game developed by Naughty Dog. Joel, a brutal survivor, and Ellie, a brave teenaged girl who is wise beyond her years, must work together if they hope to survive their journey across the US.

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$299 Nvidia Shield Tablet Coming July 29

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GPU-maker Nvidia has taken the wraps off its Shield Tablet, an 8-inch, 32-bit Tegra K1-powered tablet launching in the US on July 29, starting at $299 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model. A UK and European launch will follow in August, with the tablet priced at £229. All regions will receive a free copy of Trine 2 at purchase. Nvidia is also launching a separate controller for the tablet, which will retail at $59, and a cover with kickstand for $39. No discounted bundles will be available at launch.

The Shield Tablet features 2GB of RAM, a 1920×1200 pixel display, a MicroSD slot for up to 128GB of storage expansion, a 5MP front-facing camera as well as a 5MP autofocus rear camera, a stylus based on Nvidia’s DirectStylus 2 technology, front-facing stereo speakers, 10 hours of battery life for video playback and 3-5 hours for gaming, and a construction that company claims dissipates twice as much heat as its rivals during extended gaming sessions. A version of the tablet with LTE and 32GB of memory will be available for $399.

On the software side, the Shield Tablet will ship with a largely stock version of Android 4.4.3, with just a few gaming tweaks. Twitch is integrated into the device system wide, allowing players to stream almost any app, game, or part of Android interface. The front-facing camera can be used for picture-in-picture, with audio coming from the integrated microphone or an external headset. When plugged into a TV, the tablet automatically switches into “Console Mode,” which brings up a controller-optimised 1080p interface for launching and purchasing apps and games.

Other apps include 1080p Netflix streaming, Hulu Plus, Shadowplay for capturing gameplay footage, and Gamestream for streaming PC games directly to the tablet. 11 Tegra-K1 optimised games will be available at launch, including The Talos Principle, Half Life 2, and free-to-play shooter War Thunder, complete with cross-platform online play.

The separate wireless controller features the standard collection of buttons, triggers, and analogue sticks, as well as Android-specific home and back buttons. There’s also a touch pad at the bottom for controlling mouse actions for games streamed from a PC via Gamestream, and buttons for adjusting the volume of the headset jack. In addition, the controller features an integrated microphone for controlling Google Now in Android, as well as voice chat in games.

Interestingly, the controller doesn’t communicate over Bluetooth, but instead communicates via a proprietary WiFi standard, which Nvidia claims results in 2X less latency, and allows for up to four controllers to be paired with the tablet. The company is working with Google to integrate the specialised drivers into Android so other devices can make use of the controller, but has not confirmed a date for launch. Support for the controller is coming to the exisiting Shield Portable via a software update, though.

Also notable is that the Shield Tablet comes equipped with Nvidia’s 32-bit Tegra K1 system on a chip, and not the flagship 64-bit version. However, the quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU and Kepler architecture graphics of the 32-bit Tegra K1 were used to great effect as this year’s Google IO, with the chip being used to run an impressive Unreal Engine 4 demo in real time

GameSpot was at the unveiling of the Shield Tablet, so be sure to check out its initial impressions.

Filed under:NVIDIA

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War Thunder Review

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War Thunder plays like a big, brassy World War II movie that does everything but wave flags. The larger-than-life attitude of Gaijin Entertainment’s online simulation of combat by air and by land during WWII makes it a sprawling epic. Dozens and dozens of planes and tanks from each of the five principal nations that fought it out for freedom or fascism in the 1930 and 1940s collide on every map in wild, cataclysmic battles that alternate between intimidating and exhilarating. Battle can become confusing thanks to the sheer number of options and some interface grief, but the intense, fast-paced combat and wide range of difficulty settings save the day just like the Duke did at Omaha Beach.

Despite its scope, War Thunder is simple when broken down to its basic elements. Most notably, the game is available as a completely free download. You can purchase in-game currency to buy vehicles and skill upgrades, but because you can earn those bonuses by simply playing the game, spending is not forced upon you. Combat comes in two distinct flavors. You either take to the skies in a fighter or a bomber, or you grind it out on the ground in an armored vehicle. Matches are huge affairs involving up to 32 players. Tens of thousands of players are online at just about any time of the day or night on servers across the globe, too, so those 32 slots per game fill up. Match types involve familiar goals like destroying enemy ground forces from the air or conquering control points on the ground with your tanks.

When it comes to air combat, a trio of game difficulty settings allows everyone from casual shooters to more hardcore simmers to get comfortable. You can play in the physics-lite Arcade Battles mode, move up to the more rigorous Realistic setting, or go all-out with the grueling Simulator option. Arcade is the easiest way to play, thanks to amenities like starting in mid-flight in aerial combat and offering unlimited ammo both in the air and on the ground. Realistic mode tosses in a more punishing physics model along with the need to take off and land when flying. And Simulator mode takes the game to true flight simulator territory, planting you in a cockpit (the third-person camera option isn’t available here) and forcing your soaring feat of mechanical engineering to compete with the laws of Newtonian physics.

Most players are gravitating toward the Arcade mode, which is all about pure adrenaline. Plane physics are very forgiving, so you can soar into crazy climbs and stomach-dropping dives without fearing too much about causing a stall or tearing your wings off in mid-air. You can also get goofy with shooting and blast away without much concern about accuracy, as you’ve always got fresh rounds ready to load into the chamber (although reloading does take a few seconds, which can seem like an eternity in the middle of a battle). All of this lets you focus on pure attack and defense, whether you’re scrapping with enemy fighters, strafing ground vehicles, or dropping bombs.

Things get more hardcore in the air with Realistic and Simulator, which move the game well into flight simulation territory. There you have to approach everything from a more tactical perspective. Physics are much more rigorous, which really underlines the differences between aircraft. This is particularly noticeable when you move up from the early-game 1930s biplanes like the Gladiator to the proper WW II fighters like the Hurricane and Spitfire. Attacks must be careful and measured. Get carried away with mid-air maneuvers and you can shear off your wings or stall out. Stalls can be pretty common here if you’re concentrating more on keeping up with an enemy than you are on what you are demanding of your aircraft. Pulling out of stalls isn’t easy, either, as this takes time that you generally don’t have in the middle of a furball. The same patience must be adopted when firing. Since you have limited ammo, you have to line up shots and only pull that trigger when you’ve got a target dead to rights. Running dry at the wrong moment can ruin your day in a hurry.

Patience is also a factor when just trying to get a aerial combat match going in the Realistic and Simulator modes of play. Fewer players are taking part here, which can mean that just lining up a game can take a long time. You can regularly wait five minutes and more until an appropriate match is found–or give up and retreat back to Arcade, where the wait time is rarely more than 30 seconds. This is a shame, as these more authentic settings of course add whole new dimensions to gameplay. They also broaden your options, allowing you to dig into more maps and take on more realistic scenarios mimicking real WWII theaters of action. There are also unlockable missions taken straight from the actual war, like engagements during the Battle of Britain, that can be played at the different difficulty settings.

War Thunder’s tank combat is more generic, regardless of the difficulty setting. So are the tanks themselves. All of them zip around and turn more like dune buggies than Panzers, which levels the playing field between the Arcade, Realistic, and Simulator modes. Sure, they don’t roll around as quickly (especially when trying to head up any sort of incline) or turn on a dime quite as easily in Realistic as opposed to Arcade, but the overall feel remains loose across the board. This has the benefit of making tank battles play more like casual shooters, which of course makes them easier to immediately get into than the aerial combat. All tanks are properly modeled when it comes to armor, as well. This lends a certain amount of tactical thinking to battles, as you can’t just pound away on any exposed part of an enemy tank and expect to do damage. As a result, it’s a must to find cover and smart firing positions.

The intense, fast-paced combat and wide range of difficulty settings save the day just like the Duke did at Omaha Beach.

Controls are crisp when flying or driving. The PS4′s controller is more than adequate, and only loses the thread in a few specific instances, such as when you’re called upon to take out harassing enemy fighters while on bombing runs. Simulator mode also really tests your skills with the analog sticks across the board, as you need a light touch most of the time to avoid losing control of your aircraft. Just a slight mistake at a lower altitude can result in a nose-dive into the ground. Tanks can also feel too loose at higher speeds, leading to occasions where you don’t feel in complete control. Moments like these increase the twitch factor and make aiming difficult in spots. You can switch to the controller touchpad whenever you want and both move and shoot like you are using the mouse-driven control scheme for the PC version of the game, but the touchpad’s small size makes it nearly useless during combat.

While using the controller touchpad during battles isn’t a smart idea, it comes in very handy when trying to navigate the game’s menus. Since War Thunder has been developed for both PS4 and PC, both share the same interface, with everything geared to be accessed via mouse and keyboard. This poses more than a few challenges on the PS4, largely because there are so many menus and there is so much information crammed onto the screen that it’s difficult to access features intuitively. The touchpad is a better option here, although it isn’t ideal because it is too small to allow you to easily move the cursor where it needs to go.

Most of the interface is quite confusing, too. One of the best features about War Thunder is its upgrade paths for vehicles. Well over a hundred planes and tanks are included in the game, but they have to be unlocked by research and then purchased with the in-game Silver Lion currency, which can be earned during matches or purchased with real-world money. The same goes for improvements like more powerful cannons, engines, bullets, crew member skills, and so forth.

But little of this is explained in the beginning. You look to pick up something that’s pretty straightforward, like powerhouse new ammo, then discover that you need to research and buy something else in order to finally equip it. It’s also hard to figure out the rhyme and reason behind the structure of the in-game economy. Having both the main silver lion and the premium golden eagle currencies is bad enough, but then you toss in the related research points and the option to get bonuses on the above by purchasing a premium account, and you’ve got a needlessly convoluted system.

But even though the economy is more intricate than it should be, War Thunder scores big bonus points by not forcing players to spend money to compete. This is not one a freeware games that constantly pressures you to buy, buy, buy. All you get are post-mission reminders of how many more research points you could have earned just now if you had shelled out for a premium account. Although spending a few bucks helps on occasion, it isn’t required for you to be competitive, as long as you’ve got the time and patience to indulge in some grinding. In-game accomplishments are frequently rewarded, allowing you to get on an upgrade path right from the very beginning and to keep going without spending a dime.

Inspiring music gets you into the game from the moment that the first menu screen loads up. All of the rousing choral odes and martial tunes trumpet away as if War Thunder were big-budget Hollywood blockbuster set during WWII. Visuals are occasionally striking, if not as consistently triumphant. Maps range across many theaters of war, from undulating waves to rolling green hills, and vehicle models are comprehensively drawn, although battles rage at such a speed and such a distance that you can’t afford to take much time to admire the scenery. Since so many online games–especially those with this sort of scope hosting such a large number of players–sacrifice visual quality for speed and playability, it’s nice to see that few corners were cut here.

War Thunder is a sprawling WWII simulation that you can lose yourself in due to its wide scope, intense combat, tremendous number of vehicles, casual and challenging difficulty settings, and extensive upgrade paths. Also, the game is constantly growing with the addition of new planes, tanks, and maps, and the promise of naval forces and more modes of play. While the initial learning curve is daunting, this is one of those games that opens up dramatically the more that you play it, so the time commitment is worthwhile whether you’re a laidback dogfighter or a hardcore simmer.

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Less Than Half of GameStop’s Customers Know They Can Trade In Games

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Video game retailers have for many years offered trade-in programs to incentivize people to shop at their stores. The policies have been controversial, but the ability to sell back used games is valuable for many consumers.

But surprisingly, a significant majority of customers have never even heard of video game trade-ins. “Believe it or not, only 40 percent of the people who walk into a GameStop store today know that we accept trades of games,” GameStop president Tony Bartel said in an interview with VentureBeat

This is an area of potential growth for the company, then, since 100 percent of profits from the sale of used games goes directly to GameStop. In fact, a good portion of the company’s total revenue came from used games–about $1.2 billion per year. For the company to grow this number, it’s going to have to expose trade-ins to more people, something that Bartel acknowledges: “What we’re constantly trying to do is create awareness. We’ll continue to do that. The Power Up Rewards [program] is a powerful tool for us to drive awareness of our trade program. You’ll see it in our stores. You’ll see it in interactions with our store associates. We’re on a constant quest to inform the public that there’s a residual value for your games.”

At the same time, GameStop has been capitalizing on the growth of the digital games market even in its physical stores. Last week, GameStop revealed that most of its digital sales (via season passes, credit codes, etc.) came from brick-and-mortar locations.

The company is also seeking to get involved earlier in game development to further its preorder bonus program, but its CEO promised that it would not meddle with the creative process.

Do you trade in old games at GameStop? Let us know in the comments.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.comFiled under:Gamestop

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Think VR Is a Fad? Doom Creator John Romero Agrees

MrBlondeX Major investments are being made in virtual reality by companies like Facebook (which acquired the Oculus Rift’s developer for $2 billion) and Sony (with Project Morpheus), but not everyone is convinced VR is the future. Doom and Wolfenstein 3D designer John Romero was “blown away” by the Oculus Rift when he first tried it, but he remains unconvinced that VR as it currently exists is the next major innovation.

“Before using Oculus, I heard lots of vets in the industry saying this is not like anything we’ve seen before. This is not the crap we saw back in the late ’80s,” he told GamesIndustry International. “I was excited to check it out and I was just blown away by just how amazing it was to just be in an environment and moving my head was just like mouse-look. I thought that was really great but when I kind of step back and look at it, I just don’t see a real good future for the way VR is right now.Romero, who co-founded id Software and now works at the Universe of California, Santa Cruz, believes “minimal input for maximum output” is the ideal design for games. He points to the example of someone playing with a keyboard and mouse–and how little they move compared with what’s happening on-screen–as the preferable method for playing games. “Everyone always goes for the path of least resistance and that kind of input is it,” he said. “Until it can fix the path of least resistance, I can’t see how VR is going to be something that’s popular.”Another major challenge is the issue of install base. Electronic Arts has indicated it’s intrigued by VR but doesn’t plan on investing heavily until there is a sizable enough audience. Romero believes the “only way to hope that it’ll be popular” is to have a VR device included with every computer, which is unlikely given the computer business’ fragmented nature. “I can’t see VR being the next big thing for games because we’ve had many of these peripherals that were non-standard come through–the early ’90s until now there’s always a weird peripheral to do something,” he said.Another major publisher, Take-Two, has labeled the Oculus “anti-social,” another sentiment Romero seems to agree with. “VR is going away from the way games are being developed and pushed as they go back into multiplayer and social stuff,” he said. “VR is kind of a step back, it’s a fad. Maybe in the future there will be a better VR that gets you out of isolation mode.””The fact that it encloses you or makes you do something different than what you’re used to naturally doing also makes it a hard thing to adopt,” he continued. “Even though I’m excited about VR and how cool games look, I can’t see it becoming the way people always play games.”I can see it being like Steel Battalion–if I’m going to play that game I’m only playing it with that controller… I can’t see every game being able to translate that experience to VR, because VR right now works best if you’re just sitting. If you’re inside of a cockpit, that’s cool, but if you’re supposed to be running around a world and you can’t physically run but you can look around, it’s a weird disconnect and it doesn’t feel right. I think we’re still waiting for the holodeck.”Oculus VR, the company responsible for the Oculus Rift, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Bethesda parent company ZeniMax, which alleges Oculus is using its technology. Neither Oculus nor Sony have announced when their respective VR headsets will be made available to consumers. Oculus does sell a version of the Rift intended for use in development that anyone can purchase, but only after indicating they are aware it’s a model not meant for consumers.What do you think VR’s chances are of hitting it big? Let us know in the comments.Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.comFiled under:PC

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Comic-Con 2014: Tekken X Street Fighter Remains in Development

MrBlondeX Despite nothing being heard from the game in some time, Tekken X Street Fighter is still in development, Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada confirmed today.

Asked whether development on the game continues, Harada said through his translator (and Tekken designer), Michael Murphy, “It’s still in development, and it is moving forward, but that’s on the development side. So obviously, with all of the products, there’s that special timing that we need for that to have its own spotlight. So on the marketing side, it’s a special situation, but we can say that it hasn’t been cancelled, so please relax.”It was almost four years ago to the day that a pair of crossover games featuring Street Fighter and Tekken were announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2010. Capcom’s offering, Street Fighter X Tekken, came out less than two years later, but updates on Bandai Namco’s title have been hard to come by. Harada confirmed it was still in development last year and indicated Bandai Namco was seeking “the right time” to release it. Earlier this year, it was included on the company’s official release schedule for 2014, but without a specific release window attached.Harada was involved with a panel that covered the recently announced Tekken 7 at SDCC today. Not much was revealed beyond the fact that fights will be one-on-one. The gameplay was also said to be unfinished, which is why the teaser trailer that was shown (above) offered no glimpse of the game in action.After so many years of waiting for Harada and Bandai Namco’s take on blending of the Tekken and Street Fighter series, what are your expectations for the game at this point? Let us know in the comments.Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.comFiled under:Tekken X Street Fighter Comic-Con 2014 First Release on Dec 31, 2097Fighting universes collide in this Tekken/Street Fighter crossover.

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Destiny Preorder Bonuses

MrBlondeX If the buzz around the beta hasn’t convinced you to preorder Destiny, publisher Activision has released a new video highlighting the contents of the Vanguard Armory pack it’s offering up as a bonus for preorderers.

As announced earlier this month, the Vanguard Armory pack includes early access to in-game weapons and items, as well as a preorder-only player emblem. The video notes the Vanguard Armory will allow you “exclusive access” to the weapons and gear in gear; this timed exclusive lasts “until at least fall 2015.”Today’s video shows specifics on just what you’ll get on September 9 with the Vanguard Armory pack, including nine weapons (one of each type) and three helmets. We’re offered a looks at the stats for these items, which you’ll be purchasing with in-game currency from the Vanguard Quartermaster located in the Tower, Destiny’s social hub.The list of Vanguard Armory items seen in the trailer follows:Singularity S.3 — Scout Rifle13098V Incognito — Sniper RifleHarbinger — Rocket LauncherCarte Blanche S.1 — Auto RifleSG-Scattercast — ShotgunSK5 Type-Null — Fusion RiflePeccadillo’s Grace — Hand CannonBTRD-345 — Machine GunTrifecta S.2 — Pulse RifleStratus White helmetChroma White helmetAgema White helmet

This is all in addition to the Upgraded Sparrow available to those who preorder at GameStop. UK gamers will receive the same bonus by preordering through Game.

We’ll be updating this story should any additional preorder bonuses be announced between now and Destiny’s launch on September 9.

The ongoing Destiny beta on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 will be offline today and tomorrow (July 21-22) as Bungie prepares to bring Xbox 360 and Xbox One players into the mix on Wednesday, July 23. Over the weekend, Bungie added two new multiplayer maps (one of which was seen in the Destiny alpha last month) to the game’s competitive multiplayer mode as part of a limited-time event.

If you’ve been playing the Destiny beta, has it had any impact on your decision of whether or not to preorder? Let us know in the comments.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.comFiled under:Destiny First Release on Sep 09, 2014Xbox 360PlayStation 3+ 2 morePlayStation 4Xbox OneDestiny is the newest franchise from Bungie and its ambitious successor to Halo. It is a first-person shooter with elements of open-world sandbox and persistent world where humans are up against an alien threat seeking to rid them of existence.

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Heroes of the Storm Dev Discusses New Warcraft Hero, Upcoming Map, and Making the Game Unique

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Heroes of the Storm, the MOBA-like hero brawler from World of Warcraft developer Blizzard, has been in a closed alpha test since March. Every few weeks, the developer launches a new update, adding new content, changing balance, and reworking character progression. With an upcoming patch, the team intends to make Heroes of the Storm stand out even further.

We were able to talk to game director Dustin Browder and learn more about the map, hero, and design changes coming to the game in the next patch. We also took the opportunity to ask about the game’s future, its esports potential, and its competition.

First and foremost, players will get to battle as a new hero named Rehgar. He’s an agile character who is inspired by the shamans of Warcraft. “He’s a pretty cool and aggressive support character,” Browder explains. “He can change into his mount form whenever he wants very quickly. He turns into a ghost wolf and runs around. He’s a very special kind of support character, and a lot of fun to play. Basically, Rehgar is a shaman with a bunch of elemental abilities. He’s a classic Warcraft III Shaman build.”

It’s called Garden of Terror, and it’s a dynamic map similar to others in the game. “You’re trying to collect seeds to be able to create this big plant monster that you can become,” Browder says. “[It's] kind of like [how] you can become the dragon knight in one of our other maps. It gives you the chance to be this giant monster that runs around, gums up the map and slimes enemy towers with this evil plant stuff. [It can also] choke off enemy towns, preventing them from fighting and making your pushes [into enemy territory] very effective.”

In addition to the map and character, Blizzard is also implementing a sweeping array of UI, performance, and progression changes. Most significantly, the developer is overhauling how you advance your heroes in and out of battle.

Firstly, the team has reworked cooperative gameplay so that you can now earn experience without entering into competitive arenas. Browder explains, “We want to give players the opportunity to earn experience and complete quests in cooperative play, but at the same time we didn’t want to feel like it was wrong to play Player vs. Player modes. So we’ve changed the whole system, [and now] you do get a win bonus when you play cooperatively.”

There will also be more items for you to work toward, including new cosmetic items called Master Skins. To make this work, the developer has made leveling up individual heroes much more important: “We’ve got this idea for a master hero skin that you’ll earn if you play a hero for a really long time, so we’ve redone the entire leveling system. A lot of it is [now] about leveling up individual heroes. We had six hero levels before; now we’re up to 10 different hero levels. So it feels like a much more meaty experience.”

Finally, the team has redone the way you earn the gold used for microtransactions, to make it both more rewarding and more useful. This includes the addition of artifacts, which actually allow for an entirely different way of hero customization. Browder says, “We’ve gone to a gold-per-game model, or a gold-per-win model. It was just too long between rewards, so we’ve rebalanced the whole economy around [this new] model.”

He continues, “We’ve added a whole new system to the game, an artifact system, and this allows players to customize a lot of the core stats on their heroes. This is one of the things we had a lot of requests for from the players. At the same time, they didn’t really want it to be a part of the talent system–they wanted the talent system to be more focused on skill, heroic abilities, all that stuff–so we thought it might be kind of cool to give the players the ability to customize the stats on their characters before the game launches. So now you can go in and you can get these artifacts and you can slot them into your hero.

“This also ties into a request from a lot of our players for something more to do with gold. a lot of players will purchase a couple heroes and be totally content with that, but say ‘I’m earning all this gold, what else can I do with it?’ We thought this could be a cool thing you can do with your gold–buy better and better artifacts and customize your hero.”

“No, Garden of Terror will go into our regular map pool,” Browder states. “We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to do special maps for special types of play, it’s possible when we get to ranked play, we might say, ‘Okay, these are the ranked play maps, they’re a little different from unranked maps.’”

“No, we’re still doing the realms of the Nexus [right now],” he explains. “We’re still exploring new worlds that allow us to be crazy and creative with the space. You’ll see us explore more of Blizzard’s environments in the future, and we will also have some of our other more classic worlds going forward.”

Browder argues that Heroes of the Storm is fundamentally shaking up the MOBA formula by encouraging teamwork and a focus on individual hero customization. “We’re doing things with team leveling where people are really asked to do things together as a team, and it’s not about getting ahead on your own and being the carry,” he says. “We really feel like it’s making a difference and it’s really showing a lot of what the genre can be. There’re a lot of different things you can do in the genre.

“We really feel like it’s making a difference and it’s really showing a lot of what the genre can be. There’re a lot of different things you can do in the genre.”

“We’ve got lots of different maps with lots of different map mechanics. We’re trying to make each map as unique as possible. We’re doing things with our talent system. We’re moving away from the traditional shop system and really giving players a custom set of options per hero. We can have items that are range bonuses on heroes. We can give a hero who specializes in melee attack and give him a +3 range bonus, and now he’s a short-range hero. If we put that in a shop that’s generic for all, that would break the game.

“That’s been a huge win for us that’s distinguished us from other games in the genre. We’ve got something legitimate to offer. It’s not for everybody, but we feel that we’re gathering an audience of players that’s very excited that we’re taking these types of risks.”

The game is certainly inspired by League of Legends, Dota and Dota 2, but it is becoming increasingly driven by the community, Browder states. In the future, it’ll be the players who determine if Heroes becomes an established esport.

“We owe an enormous debt to the modders in Warcraft III who helped develop the genre, and all the other developers who iterated on that even further,” he says. “Early on, we were looking at those games a lot and learning from them, but at this point in our alpha, we’re learning more about our game from our game. Our game and our players, that has become the focus and that teaches us what to do.

“It’s not up to us if this game is an esport, it’s up to the players. Do players start forming leagues, do shoutcasters show up? If they do, we’ll be there for them. It’ll be interesting to see where these people take the game.”

“Nope. We’re still making sure the technology is good and safe,” he explains. “You have to understand, when we go into a beta, we’ll end up connecting up to Blizzard’s other games. So you’ll be able to chat with people in WoW, you’ll be able to chat with people in Diablo, you’ll be able to chat with people in Hearthstone and StarCraft. When we go to that point, if we make a mistake in Heroes of the Storm, it’s not impossible that we could crash WoW. That’s bad.

“So we’re adding a few people every week to the alpha, and we’re still testing the infrastructure. Once we’re in a position where we feel like we’re good to go, we’ll roll over into the production hardware and into the beta.”

“You can always look for more heroes, changes to the HUD, and changes to the progression system,” Browder promises. “We’re also updating talents as often as possible. But we’ve also got another milestone before then.”

The patch looks to change things up pretty dramatically, and it’ll be interesting to see how the new progression systems work out. You can check out Blizzard’s Twitch stream tomorrow at 11 A.M. PDT for more information and a first look at the update. Keep an eye on GameSpot for more news about Heroes of the Storm as it becomes available.

What do you think about Heroes of the Storm and how Blizzard is trying to make it unique? Let us know in the comments!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.comFiled under:Heroes of the Storm

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Nvidia’s Shield Tablet Makes a Good First Impression, Not So Sure About the Controller

markypants

GPU maker Nvidia is expanding its Shield line of handheld Android gaming devices. Where the first Shield was a quirky mash-up of gaming controller and LCD screen, its follow-up is far more reserved. The Shield Tablet (starting at $299/£229 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model) is an 8-inch tablet that at first glance looks like a standard black slate with a glass screen. Its gaming focus comes from its 32-bit Tegra K1 internals, a separate wireless controller that will retail for $59, and a $39 cover with kickstand. While there’s a certain inconvenience with having to carry around a separate controller to play non-touch games, it’s a preferable compromise when the alternative is something like the gargantuan Wikipad.

While I’m still waiting to get some more time with the Shield Tablet for a full review, I was pleasantly surprised after my brief hands-on with the device. The tablet itself is understated, with a matte black finish and front-facing speaker grills reminiscent of HTC’s One series of mobile phones; the only branding comes from an embossed Shield logo on the back. The top of the tablet houses a headphone jack, a micro USB port, and a mini HDMI 1.4a port, while around the side is a slot for a sim card on LTE models ($399 with 32GB of memory), a slot for micro SD expansion up to 128GB, and a slot for the stylus that makes use of Nvidia’s DirectStylus 2 technology.

The bulk of the tablet is dominated by a clear and bright 1920×1200-pixel LCD screen up front. While the bezel seems a little chunky by today’s standards, the Shield Tablet is a pleasing device to look at, and with a 9.2mm thickness and a 390g weight, it’s comfortable to hold too. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine people picking up a Shield Tablet, simply because it’s a good tablet. And–for UK consumers at least–the price isn’t that large a markup over the £199 Nexus 7. Nvidia is planning on hooking people in with the Shield Tablet’s gaming credentials, though, and for that you get a powerful 32-bit Tegra K1 (used to great effect with Unreal Engine 4 at Google’s IO conference), as well as a bunch of gaming-focused software that sits atop a largely stock build of Android 4.4.3.

Most notable is the tablet’s Twitch integration, which lets you stream almost any app, game, or part of the Android interface. The front-facing camera is used for picture-in-picture, while audio commentary comes from the integrated microphone, controller microphone, or an external headset. The feature worked well in the demo I was shown, but I’m not sure we’ll start to see people Twitch streaming and commentating on their games from coffee shops (or, at least I hope we don’t!) as Nvidia envisages. When plugged into a TV, the tablet automatically switches into console mode, which brings up a controller-optimised 1080p interface for launching and purchasing apps and games. Essentially, you get simple text for menus, and big images to select the games or apps you want to use. It wasn’t fancy, but it worked just fine on a big TV.

Like the Shield handheld, the Shield Tablet supports Nvidia’s GameStream tech, which lets you stream games from your home PC to the tablet. Over Ethernet, games are streamed in 1080p, while Wi-Fi or LTE limits that to 720p. I had a quick blast on Dirt 2, and while the visuals looked impressive, there was a slight pause between my actions on the controller and the car’s movement on screen. It’ll be interesting to see how well the feature works at home, but Nvidia has said it hasn’t made any large improvements to the existing GameStream tech, so if you’re already using it with a Shield handheld, the experience will be largely the same.

Similarly, if you’ve used a Shield handheld, the separate $59 controller will be familiar to you too, which is to say, it’s rather big. The Shield handheld’s size is forgivable given it houses a full Android device within, but it’s tough to see why the Shield controller is so large. It’s not original-Xbox-controller large, but even for someone like me with large hands, it didn’t feel as comfortable as, say, an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller. Aside from a mushy D-pad (seriously, why is it so hard to make a good D-pad?), though, the controller was otherwise decent, and the Android buttons at the top and the touchpad at the bottom for navigating mouse-driven menus in PC games were useful additions during the demo.

The controller also has a built-in microphone, which Nvidia was keen to show working with Google Now so you can bark “OK Google” commands at your TV while the tablet is in console mode. It can also be used for voice chat in games, but there’s also a headphone jack on the bottom of the controller for using a separate headset if you prefer. Interestingly, the controller works via a proprietary Wi-Fi standard instead of Bluetooth, which Nvidia claims results in 2X less latency.

Up to four Shield controllers can be used with the tablet, but it also supports regular Bluetooth controllers if you prefer. If you’re wondering whether you can use the Shield controller with your other Android devices, sadly, that’s not a feature that’s going to be available at launch. Nvidia says it’s working with Google to integrate the specialised drivers into Android so other devices can make use of the controller, but has not confirmed a date. Support for the controller is coming to the existing Shield Portable via a software update, though.

Sadly, there were a bunch of other features on the Shield Tablet I didn’t get to check out, including 1080p Netflix streaming, Hulu Plus, a 3D drawing app for use with the stylus, and ShadowPlay for capturing gameplay footage. I also didn’t get much time with many games, but Nvidia is promising that 11 Tegra K1-optimised games will be available at launch, including Trine 2 (which comes free with every device), Half Life 2, and the free-to-play shooter War Thunder, complete with cross-platform online play.

I’ll be checking those games out, as well as giving the Shield Tablet the full review treatment just before launch, so keep your eyes on GameSpot for more soon.

Filed under:NVIDIA

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New Hearthstone Naxxramas Cards Revealed

Zorine

Blizzard has revealed cards that will be introduced as part of the upcoming new Adventure Mode update for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

The cards will be part of the Curse of Naxxramas patch, a single-player expansion that will be introduced to the game on July 22. The new additions were revealed on the Hearthstone facebook page, and will include the cards shown in this gallery.

Naxxramas itself will be released over five individual updates that will unlock one after another each week after the first update. Each will cover a specific area in Naxxramas; The Arachnid Quarter, Plague Quarter, Military Quarter, Construct Quarter, and Frostwyrm Lair. Players who participate in the expansion within the first month of it’s launch will be able to access the first wing for free, but must buy the rest with in-game gold or real world currency.

Filed under:Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft PC First Release on Mar 11, 2014PCMacintosh+ 2 moreiPhone/iPodAndroidHearthstone is a free-to-play digital strategy card game where you can choose one of nine epic Warcraft heroes to play as.

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