VR Needs To Fix Motion Sickness Problems, EA Says

Dragon Age and Battlefield publisher Electronic Arts is excited about the potential for virtual reality technology like Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus. But before EA brings any of its franchises to VR, those platforms need a bigger install base and they need to fix motion sickness issues, according to EA CFO Blake Jorgensen, who spoke about the topic today during a meeting with analysts.

“We’re clearly experimenting with it today,” Jorgensen said today during the 2014 UBS Global Technology Conference. “We’ve run some of our games on two or three of the different platforms that are being developed for virtual reality. Most of those are essentially plug and play into a PC or a game-style console.”

“If you look at our games, they’re incredibly well set up for virtual reality” — Blake Jorgensen

“It’s very exciting; the challenge is if you are at all even slightly motion sick prone, it’s very tough,” he added. “I’ve seen people within 30 seconds have to take the goggles off because … it is so immersive. It’s an incredible experience and I think there’s a huge opportunity but there’s some technology steps that have to be played out and I think so ways to make sure people enjoy it but don’t get sick by it too quickly.”

Jorgensen went on to point out that, because EA is in the business of software and not hardware, it supports all platforms that make business sense. Today, this includes Xbox and PlayStation consoles, as well as iPhones and Android devices. But one day, VR could be added to the mix, Jorgensen said.

“If a virtual reality platform takes off, either a standalone or as part of any of those other platforms, we’ll be there to build games,” he said. “If you look at our games, they’re incredibly well set up for virtual reality because we create these big, immersive worlds that people essentially play in. And, obviously it would take more technology to make sure that we’re taking advtange of that. Kind of like builiding a 3D movie versus a 2D movie; but we feel very confident that we’d be there and we’re going to continue to test all of those.”

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The two major players in the VR space currently are Oculus Rift for PC and Project Morpheus for PlayStation 4. Neither platform has been released publicly.

What EA game would you like to play in VR? Let us know in the comments below!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Grand Theft Auto 5 PS4/Xbox One Review

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I have just spent a half-hour planning the perfect heist. I’m going in smart, knocking out the guards and the staff behind the delicate jewellery counters of the store with a carefully placed smoke bomb, and smashing into each cabinet with the butt of a semi-automatic rifle before making my escape on a nearby getaway bike. I’m reducing my cut so I can hire the best hacker to disable the security system, and a skilled gunman to handle crowd control. And yet, despite my best efforts, with one poorly-taken corner on my bike, it all goes wrong. I should be driving down a dank sewer tunnel, sneaking my way under the city to freedom. Instead, I’m here, mowing down wave after wave of police on the city streets, and for the first time while playing a Grand Theft Auto game, I feel immensely guilty about it.

This isn’t because of some grand moral awakening on my part, but an interesting side effect of what is the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of GTA V’s most compelling new feature: first-person mode. Even when GTA games were top-down shooters, there was always something of a disconnect between the sometimes shockingly violent scenes on-screen, and the mentality of the player. You could imagine that, despite directly controlling a character, it was this virtual caricature of a criminal committing the crimes–you merely played witness to them. First-person mode fundamentally changes not only how you view GTA V’s world. It has the power to make you stop and think about your actions, and to deeply question a character’s motivations. And in a series that has long been criticized for glorifying a life of crime, rather than questioning it, this is no bad thing.

Yes, there are plenty of violent first-person shooters around in which issues of morality can be raised, but few are paired with the stunning Hollywood production values of GTA V. The city of Los Santos is one of the most beautiful and convincing open-world environments to have ever graced a video game, and in its new higher-resolution guise, it’s even more spectacular. Compared to the last-gen versions, the new GTA V is noticeably sharper, largely thanks to improved antialiasing. Textures resolutions have been bumped, surfaces are, well, bumpier (thanks enhanced tessellation), and there are all manner of new particle, light, and lens effects. You can cruise down Vespucci Beach and pick out little details in its trinket stores and skateboard shops that weren’t there before. You can drive around in the rain, marvelling at the beautifully rendered raindrops and puddles on the ground. And when you stop admiring the scenery to cause some anarchy, explosions from a hastily thrown grenade pop in a dazzling display of fire and light.

To admire this all in first-person is a delight. The wide, cinematic field of view is very different to that of your typical shooter, as is the slower pace with which you walk; think P.T. and you’re on the right track. Where the camera once easily tilted up above and around the city, at ground level everything looks bigger and more imposing. I found myself walking along the city streets, watching as the many weird and wonderful citizens of Los Santos went about their business. I wandered into shops, even those where I couldn’t buy anything, just to admire the astonishing level of detail at eye level, with nifty depth of field effects helping to sell the immersion. It’s all very lifelike, the gentle head bobs and animations as you leap over walls and tumble out of cars drawing you into the game in a way that third-person mode never could.

This is especially true when the action heats up, and where the grizzly reality of GTA V comes into sharp focus. With most missions revolving around some form of gunplay, the bloody splatter of a drug dealer laid to waste on the sidewalk, or the groans of an injured cop writing on the hood of his car have far more of an effect than before. Of course, not everyone will be as affected by this as I was, but there are some practical points to ponder too. Shooting and throwing explosives is easier in first-person, even with GTA’s assisted aim disabled–provided you turn down the obscene levels of controller sensitivity before you start–but the cover system isn’t quite there, and there were times when I wasn’t able to peek around a corner properly and got shot as a result.

Then there’s the driving, which, no matter how hard I tried, I found far too difficult to master in first-person. The fully working and wonderfully detailed vehicle interiors might be impressive, but the twitchy controls that work so well in third-person for pulling off outrageous driving stunts are just far too sensitive to easily keep cars on the road during a frantic police chase. There are also vehicle missions that simply weren’t designed with first-person in mind either. Trying to catch Michael’s son as he dangles off a boat on the highway, or performing a speeding drive by on the highway is very difficult. It’s arguably more realistic, but I found myself switching back to third-person in order to get them done. Thankfully, it’s not an either or situation when it comes to your viewpoint. You can drive in third-person and have the game automatically switch to first-person when on-foot if you like, or even pan out to third-person when you take cover.

But even if you choose to ignore first-person mode completely, GTA V has lost little of its lustre since release. Even now, after the years of progress in the industry and all the wonderful games that I’ve played, I’m surprised how few have managed to replicate the Hollywood feel and effortless, natural dialogue of a GTA. This is a series that has consistently been the most convincing and the most cinematic in games, and GTA V continues that tradition with aplomb. Even something as basic as credible characters are a rarity, and yet GTA V manages to create a whole city full of them, as well as three authentic leads with which to journey through it. That’s not to say these leads are likeable characters, but perhaps that’s the point. There may be a few times you sympathise with retired gangster Michael as his family life crumbles around him, or when you believe that wannabe gangster Franklin might be a nice guy just because he says he’s always trying to do the right thing.

But these are narcissistic, psychopathic killers who don’t blink an eyelid at killing hundreds of perfectly innocent people when it serves their own means. This is particularly true of Trevor, who remains far and away the most interesting and well-written character of the lot, a terrifyingly insane yet remarkably intelligent criminal who constantly seems on the edge of some kind of mental breakdown. Scary doesn’t even begin to describe it. These characters are not without fault, though–there are moments when a character will contradict his own motivations, seemingly just to fit the structure of a mission–but the fact that these characters can be so convincingly terrifying, and so sharp and snappy in their interactions with one another is a testament to just how fantastic the writing in GTA is.

This is a series that has consistently been the most convincing and the most cinematic in games, and GTA V continues that tradition with aplomb.

That extends to the world at large too: the sprawling, gorgeously detailed metropolis of Los Santos deftly satirizes its real-world inspiration of Los Angeles, and of America as whole. Highlights include the self-proclaimed god of social media, Lifeinvader CEO Jay Norris, And his company’s beanbag-filled offices; the constant barrage of adverts for celebrity magazines, prescription drugs, and plastic surgeries that are savaged on the radio; and the corrupt government agencies like the FiB that often act worse than the criminals they’re trying to put away. Sure, GTA V is sometimes heavy-handed with its satire, but there are few games that dare go as far as GTA does with its nihilistic commentary, and fewer still that do it with such conviction.

Running through it all are bombastic missions that play out like Hollywood blockbusters, and the finest of gangster films. Heists remain the highlight, and the whole process of planning them out, hiring members of the team, gathering equipment, and then hoping that the fuzz doesn’t interfere on the big day is utterly engrossing. Bombs are exploded, helicopters are smashed into the side of skyscrapers, and entire squads of police give chase as you make a futile attempt escape down the highway; the sheer thrill of a four or five star chase as what seems like the entire state’s quota of law enforcement descends upon you cannot be understated. And yet, GTA V remains stuck in the past in some ways. There are chase missions where losing sight of your target thanks to a poorly taken turn on the highway means making a frustrating restart, and assassination missions where, if you jump the gun and kill your target before the game expects you to, you have to start over again.

But the sheer spectacle of all drags you back in for more. GTA has never really been subtle, and the game steamrolls its way through its less exciting moments, filling them with crafty pop culture-filled conversations and breathtaking landscapes for you to ogle. There are extra missions to play too, including the random creeps of Los Santos who ask you to do things as mundane as tow trucks for them, or to smoke weed and mow down aliens in an hallucinogenic rampage through the city. There are the multiple leisure activities you can indulge in, or the real estate you can buy, and the stocks you invest in along with the markets you can manipulate. Or you can just slack it all off completely and use Los Santos as your own wonderful digital playground, setting up sticky bomb-filled booby traps in the middle of traffic, or stealing jumbo jets from the airport and trying to fly them under bridges. Indeed, it’s the adventures you create yourself that often prove to be the most fun.

And then there’s GTA Online. It’s safe to say GTA Online didn’t get off to a good start, with server issues and all manner of balance problems. With GTA V, online gets a few boosts, including an enhanced character creator, as well as support for up to 30 simultaneous players (with two additional spectators), and the inclusion of all 11 of GTA Online’s existing updates. And yes, you can play in first-person too. These are nice additions, but Online still suffers from a lack of direction. Although you can easily import your old character, I opted to create a new one, after which I was dumped onto a sidewalk in Los Santos armed only with a map full of confusing icons and little idea about what I should do next.

Once you’re over the hump and you’ve figured out the process of finding jobs to do like stealing packages from characters, or taking part in street races–and people to do them with via your trusty mobile phone–things get more interesting. Once you’ve built up a suitable pile of cash (which does take some time if you’re starting from scratch), you can buy a nice apartment to stay in, and fancy cars to put in its garage. To what end, I’m still not sure. Much has been said about how GTA online is too open, and how sessions often turn into mass deathmatches, which is even more of an issue with 30 chaotic players around–but for me that’s always been part of its draw. Trolling someone who’s taken themselves far too seriously in a street race by creating an epic roadblock, or simply roaming the streets robbing convenience stores and then performing a smooth getaway still manages to raise a smile.

That these activities raise a smile here (even when played in first-person), and yet throw up a moral dilemma in single-player is as much to do with the lack of a narrative structure online as it is to do with my own personal feelings towards most other internet users. It raises an interesting conundrum too: is it better to play in first-person and be moved by GTA V’s events in a more profound way, or should you play in the third-person, distancing yourself from the game’s more controversial moments?

The fact that I’m even thinking about this at all in a video game that’s as popular and as, well, mainstream as GTA V is a testament to its quality. Over a year later, GTA V remains one of the most consistently entertaining video games I’ve ever played. Even without the spectacular new visuals, first-person mode, the epic new rail gun, the new murder mystery missions for Michael, the new, even furrier animals, remote play support on PS4, a mountain of new songs on the radio (including my personal favourite, I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys on the pop station), and the return of vehicles like the classic Dodo seaplane, GTA V would be still be worth playing.

Aside from a few mild frame rate issues that sometimes take the edge off its more dramatic moments, this is the definitive version of GTA V, and the bar by which all other open-world games, or indeed any game that aims for a cinematic feel, should be judged. It is beautiful, and thought-provoking, and thrilling throughout. Even if you’ve played through GTA V once already, it’s worth going back just to be reminded of what an outstanding achievement it is.

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Nintendo Explains Stance On Region Locking, Future Plans Unclear

The New Nintendo 3DS, which is slated to come to the West sometime in 2015, will be region-locked. And just last year, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata justified his company’s commitment to region-locked content. However, during this week’s investor meeting, it sounds like that’s not a set-in-stone policy for Nintendo.

Form an unofficial translation of the Q&A following Nintendo’s investor meeting on gaming forum Neogaf, Iwata responded to the question of whether his company had any plans to unlock the region-specific restrictions.

The game business has a history of taking a very long time with localization among other things, such as having to deal with various issues of marketing in each particular country, or games that have made use of licensed content that did not apply globally, and had all kinds of circumstances, so to say, that region-locking has existed due to circumstances on the sellers’ side rather than for the sake of the customers. In the history of game consoles, that is the current situation. As for what should be done going forward, if unlocked for the benefit of the customers, there may also be a benefit for us. Conversely, unlocking would require various problems to be solved, so while I can’t say today whether or not we intend to unlock, we realize that it is one thing that we must consider looking to the future.

While it’s not the concession to finally abandon the practice that many fans may have wanted, it’s still better than a blanket rejection. After all, up until the Nintendo DS, the Nintendo’s handheld consoles were region-free.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com Filed under:Wii U 3DS Written Byjustinhaywald Senior Editor, Earthbound fan, and snazzy dresser. (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘dd8948fa-75df-30d8-a1b9-8ade0e28daac’); (function() { var pageType = document.getElementsByName(‘pageType’); if(!pageType.length){ return; } pageType = pageType[0].getAttribute(‘data-type’); if(pageType == ‘article’ || pageType == ‘review’ || pageType == ‘video’){ (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘045e47d1-1e51-3375-b487-13f8602f933b’); } }());

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Xbox One, PS4 Getting New Tony Hawk Pro Skater Game In 2015

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk has revealed even more details about the new Tony Hawk game coming to consoles in 2015. Mr. 900 appeared on TMZ Sports this week, and revealed that the game is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and that it will be a new entry in the Pro Skater series.

“I’m working on a video game,” he said. “We’re gonna have a new console game for the new consoles next year. A new Tony Hawk Pro Skater, yeah.”

Hawk revealed the game on Twitter earlier this month. He’s working with Activision on the game, though a developer for the project has not yet been named. Chicago-based Robomodo made the most recent entry in the series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.

That game featured content from the first two Pro Skater games, and was released in 2012. At the time, developer Robomodo’s CEO, Josh Tsui, suggested something bigger could eventually be made, saying, “The prospect of a fuller game is definitely on the table–it’s just a matter of when and how.”

Hawk recently made headlines for trying out a real-world, Back to the Future-esque hoverboard. Asked if the new Tony Hawk game would feature a hoverboard, he teased, “Why not?” Finally, Hawk provided a release window for the new title, saying it will be released “late next year.”

In addition to the Tony Hawk game for consoles, a new mobile game is in the works, while the previously announced mobile game, Tony Hawk’s Shred Session, has been put on hold indefinitely.

What would you like to see from a new Tony Hawk console game? Let us know in the comments below!

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Filed under:Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD Written By

eddienoteddy Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford. Want the latest news about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD? (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘dd8948fa-75df-30d8-a1b9-8ade0e28daac’); (function() { var pageType = document.getElementsByName(‘pageType’); if(!pageType.length){ return; } pageType = pageType[0].getAttribute(‘data-type’); if(pageType == ‘article’ || pageType == ‘review’ || pageType == ‘video’){ (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘045e47d1-1e51-3375-b487-13f8602f933b’); } }());

Game of Thrones, Star Trek Dev Raises $3.2 Million

Boston-based independent developer Disruptor Beam announced today that it has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding, with some of the money contributed by Rock Band developer Harmonix’s founders.

Disruptor Beam says the funds will go towards continued support of its upcoming game, Star Trek Timelines, in addition to the studio’s upcoming cross-platform gaming platform.On top of that, the money will help Disruptor obtain the rights to more IPs for future games, and to beef up the team across all disciplines, the company said. Currently, the developer has two open positions listed on its website, one for a marketing artist and another for a performance engineer. New contributors to the $3.2 million Series A round of funding were Midverse Studios, GrandBanks Capital, and “a number of technology-oriented angel investors.” Prior investors such as CommonAngels, Romulus Capital, and Harmonix founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy also contributed to the new round of funding.”These latest investments will help us to further deliver on our vision of creating the most community-centric game company in the world,” Disruptor Beam CEO and founder Jon Radoff said in a statement. “We build games based on entertainment brands that have the most engaged fan communities. And, we see these communities as just as important as the games themselves. For these reasons, we’re in the process of developing a community platform that will allow cross-game social capabilities and one that will enable players to connect with one another in new, innovative ways.”

Disruptor Beam’s most recent release was Game of Thrones: Ascent, a free-to-play mobile and browser game based on the popular fiction. Its latest expansion, The Long Night, was released earlier this year. As for Star Trek Timelines, it is a strategy-based role-playing game for mobile devices. You can read more about the game through our previous coverage.

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Little Big Planet 3 Review

It’s not often that I can forgive a game for throwing me through the geometry to my doom simply because the game itself is just too damn delightful. I am not the most fast-fingered of platformer players, but when I’m guiding a tiny creature made of wool and stuffing through a maze of fire and spikes, my reaction to failure is more woeful. Little Big Planet 3 made me feel like I was never quite good enough to solve the next puzzle… until I was, thanks to a brand new tool dumped in my lap. And then I soared.

Little Big Planet 3 is another quirky adventure pitting Sackboy against a baddie bent on destroying the balance of Craftworld, a universe pasted together from the bits and bobs in your mother’s craft closet. The game begins with sentient light bulb Newton spiriting Sackboy away to the scrapbooked world of Bunkum. Newton opines that Bunkum needs more creative juice and unlooses three ancient Titans, monstrous inspiration-sucking beasts subdued in the past by three great heroes. After the Titans possess Newton and corrupt his intentions, Sackboy finds and recruits the aforementioned heroes: Oddsock, Toggle, and Swoop. Together, the fluff-stuffed quartet must rescue Newton and defeat the Titans.

Little Big Planet 3’s campaign is divided into four main stages or hubs, one for the prologue and one for each new hero the game introduces. You have to unlock each new character within their specific level to defeat that level’s boss, which is reminiscent of how special items work in The Legend of Zelda games’ various dungeons. To unlock each character, you need to collect special items and place them in a special shrine. I was at first wary of this over-clichéd fairytale story, but the charm that has come to characterize Little Big Planet makes it palatable. Tarnished marbles are magic artifacts. A side-scrolling mess of grating and rotating platforms made me feel like I was in a paper-and-glue version of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sackboy must complete the three main levels within each hub to collect magic marbles that awaken the heroes. These levels are scattered, tucked in corners of cardboard and scrap metal. Spreading them far apart encourages you to forgo beelining between them and take exploration time, uncovering secret challenges yielding rare materials and stickers.

Little Big Planet’s new characters are, predictably, endearing and adorable. The dog-like Oddsock is a fast runner that climbs walls and wall-jumps. Toggle can switch between tall and tiny versions, helping him manipulate gravity in water and on bounce pads for higher jump. Swoop flies and can carry objects through the air.

These new heroes can eventually be used within levels, but only within the hub world in which they are unlocked. I’m disappointed that levels limit what character you can use, and most of the time it’s Sackboy. In fact, most of the game must be played as Sackboy, with no option to choose another character. Boss levels, too, can only be completed as a designated character and all players must be the same one. The hub stage itself can be explored as Sackboy or whatever new character it unlocks, leaving out the other two, and there is only one designated spot that allows swapping of characters. You can, however, participate as more than one character in creation mode, but that doesn’t make the campaign’s limitations less saddening.

When Sackboy met Oddsock.

There are still two-player missions scattered throughout levels and any can be played with friends locally or online, but there are only a tiny number of missions for all four characters to participate. Any level can be completed with one to four players, but all players must be the same hero. Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop are feebly underutilized, which is dispiriting considering they are some of the game’s high points.

Not only is it refreshing to play as someone other than Sackboy when you get the chance, but each character has a different feel to their gameplay. Toggle plods along but rockets through the air and skims across water when he switches between sizes. The physics changes drastically from the slower, more calculated way he must be played to handling Oddsock, who gallops through scenarios requiring sweat-inducing precision leaps. Swoop lets you fly without falling, and while his controls feel a bit too sensitive for an airborne companion, it offers a different way to complete a challenge. It’s unfortunate that Little Big Planet 3 offers three new, drastically different gameplay experiences and restricts how and when players can enjoy them.

One of the best new additions is a handful of gadgets granting Sackboy greater freedom of movement and navigation to harder-to-reach spaces. A hairdryer-like item pushes or pulls objects with air, a flashlight illuminates hidden objects, and the Blink Ball shoots spheres into special panels that teleport you to other ledges. The Hook Hat lets you slide along rails and the Boost Boots give an extra airborne double-jump, making wide chasms less of an issue. These items grant more freedom of movement and make Sackboy actually feel powerful and smart. They make problems feel more open-ended and problem-solving more expansive. You can use these items freely at any time and most levels include hidden treats for those who go back to explore with these items.

Friends don’t let friends Hook Hat solo.

With each new item, levels become more difficult. In fact, Little Big Planet 3 can be called the most challenging title in the franchise. Many sequences require nimble fingers, such as speedruns with Oddsock or carefully-timed jumps through teleporters that necessitate hair-trigger reactions. The game forces you to pay attention and learn through trial and error, dangling unlocked characters and new experiences in front of you. The learning curve is proportional to how quickly these new things are mastered. And it’s worth it: guiding Toggle through a complicated puzzle or flying Swoop through an anxiety-inducing maze of electricity is a satisfying payoff.

The physics in Little Big Planet have been notoriously floaty from the get-go and have gotten slightly more delicate in Little Big Planet 3. Learning to time jumps and getting the hang of switching directions in mid-air take time, but once you’ve mastered controlling the Sackfriends, trickier puzzles no longer seem insurmountable.

While solo play is great for score chasing, bringing a friend or three along can help you reach special multiplayer areas and goodies. I liked playing alone when I wanted to master a level, but it’s better together with friends. I ran through a four-character level in which the player controlling Swoop kept picking us up and dropping us from dizzying heights. I played Popit Puzzles with a friend online, spending quality time with someone I rarely see building something amazing together. Little Big Planet 3 is a great distraction for one, but a heartwarming distraction for two, three and four. You’ll want to bribe your friends over for this one.

“Everything the light touches is our kingdom.”

New bits aside, Little Big Planet 3 masterfully builds upon its already well-established world. Beneath a snow-blanketed town is a tunnel of giftboxes, wrapped in sheet music and guarded by dancing Russian dolls. Inside a dilapidated diner floating in a swamp of aquamarine goo, I found myself inside a pinball machine talking to a movie star with a tin can body and hair made of photo negatives. The world is beautifully put together and intimately detailed, down to the feathers on a queen’s robe and the flashing neon signs embedded into the background.

Sprinkled throughout this beautiful world are NPCs that offer minigames and side quests. These characters–all fully voiced, for the first time in the series–-assign tasks allowing weightier interaction with Bunkum. Minigames like tricking drones to shoot enemies in a paper-cloud sky and building go-karts from stickers are cherries on the LBP3 sundae. These challenges offer up some pretty great rewards, including new materials, stickers and in one case a Pug costume for Oddsock. Every empty space needing a sticker, every side character, adds a little more depth to an already oceanic world.

Like its predecessors Little Big Planet 3 features a level creator, but this time around that desire to inspire creativity is taken to new heights with an arsenal of tools that is overwhelming. You can make individual levels or entire maps, customizing spaces with everything from music triggers to poisonous gas and goo to obstacles requiring gadgets.

Popit Puzzles, the creation-tutorial-minigame mode.

I have never been interested in (or very good at) level creation, because I’m horrible at interior decoration and could never make my bizarre Lego creations stand for long. I’m intrigued by staircases to nowhere and seemingly hopeless obstacles that require an entire bag of tricks to solve–neither of which I am very good at building, either. I’m not construction-minded and find more enjoyment in playing levels made by other people. But I was most enamored with Popit Puzzles, stages designed to instruct usage of each creation tool. It’s a genius, sneaky way to trick you into using the level editor.

Popit Puzzles take up an entire planet by themselves and feature a very eccentric NPC professor. The professor walks you through each construction tactic, including how to edit corners, rotate and delete objects, and even where and how to place treacherous traps. Each Popit Puzzle plays like a traditional Little Big Planet level and introduces one tool. As players learn how to use the tool, the game throws in more obstacles that can only be solved using that one tool. Some puzzles require more brain power than other, with the answer not so readily apparent.

The Popit Puzzles don’t baby you, but they make sure you can use tools effectively. Little Big Planet 3 solves the problem of making creation tools accessible to newbie-creators by weaving tiny tricks like placing electrified blocks and deleting objects into mini-levels that reward you. It’s brilliant.

Little Big Planet 3 has a lot going for it–including another magnificently crafted soundtrack–but is plagued by crippling bugs. I repeatedly fell through set pieces or failed to respawn, and twice respawned into a side-scrolling level behind a boss and had to restart, losing all progress. These bugs hindered progression and made playing through levels requiring more precision a nightmare. They were present at various points throughout my entire playthrough, and while they weren’t occurring every other level, they were common enough that I was annoyed.

Little Big Planet 3 is the most difficult game in the series by virtue of its challenges. More complicated problems mean more tools to solve them, giving you a wide berth to choose your own path through Bunkum. The push for creativity is limited in the way you play the campaign, but it’s an overwhelming presence within creation mode, offering boundless ways to leave your own mark on Craftworld.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

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Blizzard Apologizes For Warlords of Draenor Launch Issues With Free Subscription Time

Blizzard has issued a formal apology for the server issues which plagued the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Posting on the official Battle.net forums, World of Warcraft executive producer and vice president J. Allen “Nethaera” Brack apologized for issues users encountered at launch and announced that five days extra subscription time would be added to active players’ accounts.

The subscription extension will apply to all accounts in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe which were active on November 14. To combat the high queues and other gameplay issues, Blizzard is continuing to implement “the new instancing tech” which will increase the available population of servers to “double the prelaunch capacity.”

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor’s release last week was plagued by server woes, which saw some players queuing for extended periods of time in order to login. Although that did not stop several players from hitting the level 100 cap hours after launch.

Have you run into high queue times since the game’s launch? Let us know in the comments below.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Xbox One Owners Spent 2 Billion Hours Playing Games In First Year

With the Xbox One’s first birthday just around the corner, Microsoft today announced some statistics about the system’s first year and revealed plans to give away free content for select users.

First, here are some notable statistics for the Xbox One in its first year.

Overall, the total community Gamerscore earned on Xbox One is more than 11 billionFans spent more than 2 billion hours playing games on Xbox OneThe top four most popular achievements unlocked include:

Microsoft also has announced a range of digital content that it will give away to Xbox One owners “to show our appreciation for your local and continued support.” You’ll need to meet some requirements to receive the goodies, however. Only Xbox One owners who bought their console before November 11, 2014 in the console’s 13 launch markets who are 17 years or old and have played 10+ hours on Xbox One are eligible. If that’s you, you’ll be able to download the following content starting this Friday.

A Year One Gamer PictureNew Xbox One backgrounds: A special Year One background as well as an exclusive Day One background for those who unlocked the Day One achievementA Year One background image for use on Twitter, your desktop, etc.A free rental of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (for a limited time)A free rental of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods movie and a sampler pack of Dragon Ball Z TV episodes (for a limited time, available in the U.S. and Canada only)

Finally, Microsoft announced that it will select fans at random to receive special gifts. A list of possible goodies, which include consoles, games, and in-game content, is below. Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare BundleXbox One Special Edition Sunset Overdrive BundleOne month membership for Xbox One-exclusive EA Access serviceTiger Shark cash card for Grand Theft Auto V, worth $200,000 in-game GTA Online dollarsForza gift pack with Forza RallyCross hat, Lamborghini Huracán 1/24 scale replica, and Xbox One Controller (launch team edition) signed by Tanner Foust, host of Top Gear America, Global RallyCross champion and professional stunt driverForza Horizon 2 Limited Edition Casio G-Shock Men’s Black Multi-Function Digital Sports WatchGrand Theft Auto V gift pack with the Los Santos Sheriff Trucker cap, Michael, Franklin and Trevor Posters, and a Grand Theft Auto V sticker packXbox Live Gold 12-month membership digital codeKiller Instinct Season 1 Combo Breaker Pack, the retail version of Killer Instinct Xbox One’s first season and includes all eight season one characters: Jago, Sabrewulf, Glacius, Thunder, Sadira, Orchid, and Spinal. Also includes Fulgore DLC character.Special limited edition Nissan 370Z, featuring a custom Casio livery for Forza Horizon 2Air Vehicle shortcut for Battlefield 4 for immediate access to all available unlocks for helicopters and jets available in the main Battlefield 4 gameArno’s French Rapier for Assassin’s Creed Unity to improve your combat skills75 Platinum in WarframePlants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Costume Pack for Peggle 2Epic Quest Table in Pinball FX2Dance Central Spotlight (full game token)Project Spark Premium–15 days: Grants 2x gain of Spark XP, credits, and champion XP, as well as the ability to purchase new token-only content for earned in-game credits

In addition, if bought an Xbox One in one of the console’s original 13 launch markets and have opted in to receive Xbox Marketing emails, you’ll receive an email that lists off what you’ve accomplished on Xbox One since release. If you’re not sure if you’ve opted in, you can sign into your Xbox Live account on Xbox.com, click your Gamertag, then Profile > Privacy Settings > Contact Preferences.

This achievement email will only be sent to people who bought an Xbox One before October 1, 2014, in the console’s 13 launch markets who opted in to Xbox Marketing emails prior to November 11, 2014. You’ll also need to be 17 years or old and have spent 10+ hours on Xbox One to date.

For its part, Sony has celebrated the PlayStation 4’s firth birthday with an open letter from SCEA president Shawn Layden and some impressive statistics about the console.

The PS4 has outsold the Xbox One so far, but Microsoft’s console is catching up quickly thanks to its aggressive pricing action and bundles, according to Electronic Arts.

Microsoft has shipped around 10 million Xbox Ones, compared to 13.5 million for the PS4.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Filed under:Xbox One Written Byeddienoteddy Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford. (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘dd8948fa-75df-30d8-a1b9-8ade0e28daac’); (function() { var pageType = document.getElementsByName(‘pageType’); if(!pageType.length){ return; } pageType = pageType[0].getAttribute(‘data-type’); if(pageType == ‘article’ || pageType == ‘review’ || pageType == ‘video’){ (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘045e47d1-1e51-3375-b487-13f8602f933b’); } }());

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NES Classic Duck Hunt Coming to Wii U

The Wii U Virtual Console has steadily added almost every classic Nintendo game to its online library, but one notable omission is about to be rectified. The original Duck Hunt will be coming to the Wii U Virtual Console.

Announced during today’s Nintendo Direct, the game will require a Wii Remote controller since you’re aiming and shooting at the screen. However, Nintendo did not announce plans to re-issue the Zapper gun peripheral, which would have made this news even more exciting.

The addition came following a trailer for the unclockable Duck Hunt Dog character in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Like every character in the next version of Smash, you’ll be able to access a demo of the original game that made each of the fighters famous.

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Xbox One Gets New Media Apps; HBO Go Not Among Them

Three new media apps are now available on Xbox One, but HBO Go is not among them. The new streaming apps, as detailed in a post on the Xbox Wire, are Crunchyroll, Movieplex Play, and Encore Play, which you can now download and use on your Xbox One.

Crunchyroll features an array of anime titles, including Naruto, Sailor Moon, Sword Art Online, and One Piece. In all, the app features more than 20,000 episodes of (subtitled) anime, as well as Korean drama programming and live-action content. The app even supports voice and gesture control via Kinect.The Crunchyroll app on Xbox One The Movieplex Play and Encore Play apps, meanwhile, offer up movies such as Iron Man 3 and After Earth, among others. Shows including Magnum, P.I. and Murphy Brown are also among the more than 1,500 titles available in the app. These apps are free to download, though you’ll need a subscription through your TV provider to access the content.

The HBO Go app is scheduled to arrive on Xbox One before the end of the year. Some images of it even leaked not too long ago, suggesting its release might be imminent.

At the moment, you need to pay for a pricey subscription to a cable or satellite TV service in order to use HBO Go, but in October, HBO CEO Richard Plepler made the surprising announcement that HBO will launch as a stand-alone service in the United States next year.

What Xbox One apps do you use most regularly? For me, Netflix is number one. What about you?

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Filed under:Xbox One Written Byeddienoteddy Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford. (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘dd8948fa-75df-30d8-a1b9-8ade0e28daac’); (function() { var pageType = document.getElementsByName(‘pageType’); if(!pageType.length){ return; } pageType = pageType[0].getAttribute(‘data-type’); if(pageType == ‘article’ || pageType == ‘review’ || pageType == ‘video’){ (function(a,b,c,d,e,f){a[d]||(a[d]= function(){(a[d].q=a[d].q||[]).push([arguments,+new Date])}); e=b.createElement(c);f=b.getElementsByTagName(c)[0]; e.src=’https://s.yimg.com/uq/syndication/yad.js';e.async=true; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e,f)}(window,document,’script’,’yad’)); yad(‘045e47d1-1e51-3375-b487-13f8602f933b’); } }());

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