Elder Scrolls Online Console Release (Subscription Free!) by Benjamin Sawyer

Yesterday Bethesda announced the release date for the Elder Scrolls Online for the new consoles. But that wasn't even the best part. ESO will be releasing without its monthly subscription fee. The MMO set in the series' famed Tamriel, originally launched with a $15 per month subscription, as per most MMO-style titles. However, on June 9th, owners of the Xbox One and PS4 will be able to explore Tamriel endlessly, and they will be able to do so without paying upkeep. Gamers on PC and Mac get to experience this sweet freedom first on March 17th, with members who are already subscribed being given ESO Plus memberships. The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited Edition hits shelves on June 9th.

To celebrate this announcement, Bethesda released the fourth and final cinematic trailer for ESO, titles The Confrontation. As a service to you (because you really need to see them all) we posted all four videos for you to watch here. Enjoy, and we look forward to seeing you on the battlefields of Tamriel in June!

The Alliances

The Arrival
 

The Siege

The Confrontation
 

@CalebTSawyer
~Caleb 

Microsoft Now Let's-Play Friendly? (No) by Benjamin Sawyer

EDIT (Jan 20 2015, 5:45 P.M.):

This article was written in response to the originally posted Microsoft Game Content Usage Rules, which were archived by the WayBack machine here. The rules have since been changed to specifically address the objections contained in this article. You can read the new rules here.  -- R. Alex Holton

 

Let's Players, Gaming Channels, Twitch, and YouTube content creators now have from Microsoft what many developers and publishers have refused to give anyone; monetization rights.

Fair Use, Copyright, and Trademark rules, regulations, and laws are some of the most complicated and convoluted laws on the books, and each Country generally has their own set. Most videogame publishers have kept mum on offering official 'monetization' rights for online content creators, preferring instead to shut down those Let's-Players or Streamers that draw their attention in negative ways. On the other hand, publishers like Valve and Paradox Interactive have decided to embrace online content-creators by issuing blanket “We Allow Everything” statements, choosing to embrace the free advertising generated by popular let's-players rather than the tight control over their intellectual property that a more restrictive policy would allow.

Microsoft has joined the ranks of those embracing this free-advertising, but it comes with a rather large caveat: If you want to create a YouTube video, stream a game on Twitch, or (potentially) write a review of a Microsoft game, you cannot use the name in the title.

You may stream the game on Twitch, create a series of Let's-Play videos and post them on YouTube, or review the game, but you cannot name it, “Let's Play Halo”, or “Halo Review”, or “Halo Walkthrough”, or “Newbie's Guide to Halo”

More than likely this policy will not actually effect creators of reviews, since those are, by and large, covered under Fair Use law meant to protect freedom of the press. However, the line can be very blurred when it comes to online video content. A review that includes gameplay is okay, but a let's-play that includes a review is not? How much game is allowed to be showed before it triggers this policy? A literal interpretation of these rules would disallow monetized reviews, let's-plays, game guides, walkthroughs, and basically anything from using the game's title in the name of the content.

Microsoft is to be commended for issuing a statement that specifically allows online content-creators to make money doing what they do, and honestly it is a position that just makes sense for both Microsoft and the content-creators themselves. Microsoft gets their games in front of a lot more people when people like TotalBiscuit or Jesse Cox or PewDiePie do a review or a Let's-Play of one of their games, and official statements of this kind take away much of the worry of creating this kind of content in the first place. It is a lot of work to record, engineer, edit, and encode a 20-30 minute review and then upload it to YouTube, and streaming for 2-3 hours at a time must be absolutely exhausting. To be in constant worry that your livelihood, getting money from advertisements on your videos, may be in jeopardy due to copyright claims (justified or not) simply adds insult to injury.

Microsoft's newly revised Game Content Usage Rules may be a large step in the right direction, but by following them the content-creator would have their livelihood damaged. Who would watch a review titled “Review of New Shooter from Microsoft”? Who would search for that title on YouTube? The end result of this policy is that Let's-Players will simply not play Microsoft titles, because they will not make money off of the resulting Let's-Play. If the potential viewers cannot find the video because the title of the game isn't in the title of the video, the video will not provide enough money to the Let's-Player to justify additional work, or additional episodes.

Microsoft is shooting itself in the foot here, because the reason for this policy (as stated in the Usage Rules) is “We want to make sure consumers don't get confused”. Microsoft wants to ensure that when a potential consumer searches for “Halo”, they reach Microsoft's official content before they reach a review, or a let's-play. In so doing they are committing to paying for more advertising in order to get the same results as if they simply allowed content-creators to use the title in the name. Microsoft is further alienating their most ardent fans, the ones who create this content, by relegating them to the depths of search engine rankings and refusing to allow them the recognition they need to continue producing content of this kind.

@Our_Alex
~R. Alex Holton 

Nintendo Direct January 14th 2015 by Benjamin Sawyer

The Nintendo Direct released on the 14th of January 2015 had quite a bit of information about the Spring for this year. You can watch the Nintendo Direct here (http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct/01-14-2015/) or read the Round Up on everything that was announced during the Direct:

 

  • A new Fire Emblem was announced right off the bat. The same Team from Fire Emblem Awaking is working on this title and Shin Kibayashi, a japanese Manga Writer, is writing the story. The decisions you make are said to be more important then ever.
  • Also announced was a new entry in a very popular series over in Japan. Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition. Coming May 2015. Both games will be available in one Package.
  • Pokemon Shuffle will be released for free on the 3DS in February.
  • Wii Games are finally becoming available as downloadable software for Wii U. Sadly, for some people like me, the classic controller will no longer work with these games. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is available now. Punch Out will be available on the 22nd,  and the Metroid Prime Trilogy will become available on the 29th. They will be only half price for one week after their release. More Wii Games are on their way.
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is coming February 20th. Amiibo's will be available for this title, each of them giving you a special power. Kirby, King Dedede, and Meta Knight will function with this game.
  • March 20th we will get a Super Mario Series of Amiibo's: Mario, Luigi, Preach, Yoshi, Bowser, Toad. Alongside Mario Party 10. Some of these will work with Smash Bros, check www.nintendo.com/amiibo/compatibility to see which games work with which Amiibo's. Besides the already mentioned Amiibo's, it will also work with Rosalina, Donkey Kong and Wario from the new Smash Bros Game. But beware, using them will delete your Smash Bros data off of them.
  • Splatoon was also shown off. It will feature deep customization, lots of different weapons and online multiplayer. Splatoon will be released this coming May.
  • Hyrule Warrior DLC is on its way. Tingle and Young Link will be available for download on February 5th. 3 new customes will be released as well.
  • New Xenoblade Chronicles X Trailer. Click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvpNXhzscjQ This trailer gives us some background on the story, while mostly exploring the planet.
  • Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is coming out on Wii U and 3DS on March 5th only on the Nintendo eShop. Buy one version, and you will receive a code for the version you did not buy, for free.
  • Bandai Namco announced a 4 Player Co-op Game, coming to the Wii U, for free, at a later point. The name was not mentioned, only that it is under the project name of Project Treasure. Could this become another case where they keep the Project name, just like with Hyrule Warriors?
  • The New Nintendo 3DS will be released on February 13th. The new Nintendo 3DS features improvement in the means of an added C-Stick for better control for the gameplay, Face-Tracking 3D, so the 3D will always be visable and not blurry no matter what angle you are holding it in, and Amiibo Support. Also, thanks to the faster processing power surfing the internet and downloads are much better and faster than before.
    After an Update in February Smash Bros will be first title to use Amiibo's on 3DS. No Ac Adapater is included with the new Nintendo 3DS, but the old ones will work on it.
  • Code name: S.T.E.A.M  is coming March 2015. This game can use Fire Emblem Amiibo's. (Marth, Ike, Lucina) Marth Amiibo will become available again later this year.
  • Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+ will also feature Amiibo's. Using certain ones will unlock planes. Available February 13th.
  • The remake of Xenoblade Chronicles, exclusively for the New Nintendo 3DS, will be released in April 2015.
  • IronFall: Invasion is coming to the Nintendo eShop. This game is made by a small team of 3 Indie Developers.
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will receive a exclusive New Nintendo 3DS bundle. Exclusive at GameStop. A Demo will be coming soon to the Nintendo eShop. The Game and Bundle will be available on February 13th.
  • And the best news for last, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is coming February 13th! With a Special New Nintendo 3DS.

 

@DawnKnight1993
~Nico

Assassin's Creed Unity - First Thoughts by Benjamin Sawyer

It has been a long time since I have been this excited for an Assassin's Creed release. Assassin's Creed 3 looked to be great but something about the Revolutionary War setting didn't quite sit well with me. Black Flag also had promise, but my fear that it would be a game too focused piracy and would forget the tenets of the creed were quickly justified. In all honesty, I haven't been this pumped for a Creed game since Brotherhood. Those first trailers, revealing your Brotherhood of assassins that would fight at your side, Ezio donning the hood of Il Mentore (the mentor), Renaissance Italy at its peak. It all spoke to me. Now, with Unity, we have another location as brilliant as Firenze, Roma, or Venezia, in the blood-soaked streets of revolutionary Paris. And if Victor Hugo's Les Miserables wasn't proof enough that this time was full of drama, then Assassin's Creed Unity swiftly reminds you.

A few hours into Unity, a few things are immediately apparent: This game was made for the Xbox One and PS4. It is beautiful. Environments have depth, light plays stunning games with the articulate architecture Notre Dame, and the streets are full of displeased Parisians. To fans of past games, they will be pleased to find out that the upgradeable estate/base has returned. The Cafe Theatre is full of opportunity as an operations hub, and the renovations are extensive and even open up missions for the player.

 

Finally, Paris is huge. I feel overwhelmed by the scope of it already and I have only unlocked three zones. There are at least another five. And the city is dense with activities and missions for the player to take on alone or with up to four friends.

So far, Assassin's Creed Unity has me hooked. Let's see if it can keep my attention. But right now, I have a lot of faith in this title.

@CalebTSawyer
~Caleb

 

Transformation Tuesday: Samus Aran by Benjamin Sawyer

Samus Aran or just Samus, has made multiple transformations since her first debut in Metroid in 1987 as a pixel sprite in an action-adventure game for the Family Computer Disk System and Nintendo Entertainment System. This game pushed the envelope in many ways.

First, Nintendo created this game as a non-linear adventure game, requiring the player to explore the game. This allowed the player to find permanent enhancements that, in other titles, were only temporary.  It was also popular for Speedrunning, which makes it a goal for the player to defeat the game in under a certain time. But perhaps the most notable reason that Metroid stands out is that the main character is also… wait for it… a GIRL named Samus! This was a complete shock that could not be seen unless you completed the original game in less than 5 hours.

Samus herself is an interesting character who is not overly feminine like seen in previous games at this time (Mario?). She is a shocking 6’3” and weighs about 198 pounds without her armor. Born on a mining planet designated K-2L, her home was raided by Space Pirates led by a man named Ridley when she was a child. During the raid her parents were killed and her planet destroyed. Samus was luckily found by a bird-like race called the Chozo who brought her to their home on Zebes where she was infused with Chozo DNA to give her resistance to foreign environments and trained as a warrior. She was then finally given the Power Suit by the Chozos. She joined the Galactic Federation Police but left to be a bounty hunter after she couldn’t get along with her commanding officer. Her missions are centered on destroying strange organisms known as Metroids that can be used as biological weapons.

The famous character design was done by none other than Hiroji Kiyotake, the original designer of Wario. Here are some of the transformations we have come to love of Samus. 

Samus in suit and out (Metroid, 1987)

Samus in suit and out (Metroid II, 1991)

(Metroid Fusion, 2002)

(Metroid Prime, 2002)

(Metroid Prime 2, 2004)

Zero Suit Debut (Metroid: Zero Mission, 

(Metroid Prime 3: Hunters, 2007)

A younger Samus (Metroid: Other M, 2010)

Samus in her many suits (Super Smash Bros. U, 2014)

Bioshock Infinite: Burial At Sea - Episode Two by Benjamin Sawyer

I am typing this as the credits are rolling right now. The post-game credits of possibly one of the most beautiful extended stories I have ever had the privelege and pleasure of playing. I was honestly slightly disappointed with the first episode of the Burial at Sea series. It was enjoyable to play none-the-less, but I can by far say that the second episode of the series was phenomenal. Absolutely terrific. The gameplay mechanics were everything they were supposed to be when playing as Elizabeth. The story was truly fleshed out and magnificent (though a little confusing and tossed around at first). If you take the time to collect all the audio diaries, explore every room, this easily has about six or more hours of gameplay to it, plus it's worth it to get all the exciting backstory of the workings of Rapture and Columbia. 

I will be COMPLETELY honest with this review. I was skeptical at first, but the more I played, the more I got towards the end, the more I absolutely fell in love with this DLC. This is the way a series should end, and I can only say thank God they ended it with this. 

-Christian

Assassin's Creed Unity Teaser by Benjamin Sawyer

Yes, Unity has in fact been announced. The "leaked" information appears to have been a little more than accidental, especially when you take into account last year's leak of Assassin's Creed Black Flag. The two leaks happened in almost identical fashion: small leak of potential info followed by confirmation a few days later. Whether or not the pattern is an actual pattern? Who cares! Here is the teaser for the recently confirmed Next-Gen (current-gen now) exclusive Assassin's Creed Unity.

Assassin's Creed Unity Leaked by Benjamin Sawyer

In what seems to be the first of the year's game leaks (there are often several significant leaks), this year's Assassin's Creed has not only been given a title but two titles. That's right...two. Ubisoft will apparently be releasing a pair of installments this year, one for the last-gen consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3 are in that category now) and another for the new current-gen consoles. The Xbox One and PS4 Creed will be called Assassin's Creed Unity and will take place in 18th Century France (reportedly). Players will take control of a new assassin named (another rumor) Arnor. You have got to admit, climbing Notre Dame sounds pretty awesome.

As for now the last-gen title is codenamed "Comet" and will tie in with the "main" title coming to the new consoles, but it sounds like it will be a game more along the lines of Assassin's Creed Liberation. Liberation was a full Assassin's Creed game but wasn't exactly a core title. It will be interesting to see what comes of this leak, what information will be confirmed and what will remain rumored until E3. Regardless, we will keep our ears to the ground.

 

@CalebTSawyer
~Caleb