The annual whirlwind of gaming activity that descends upon Cologne for Gamescom was particularly boisterous this year as both Microsoft and Sony previewed their next generation of consoles. Xbox One pre-orders in Europe were sweetened with the bundling of a free FIFA 14, while the PlayStation 4 got its long-awaited release date and a promise to have 33 games by the end of the year. The PS Vita also saw its price cut extended from Japan to Europe and North America, alongside the announcement of a number of high-profile games coming to the mobile platform, led by Fez, Minecraft and Borderlands 2.Gamescom also proved to be the most extensive opportunity for gamers to try out next-gen games, with publishers previewing early code from their upcoming holiday season and 2014 roster of titles. Among them, the undisputed champion was Titanfall, the debut product of Respawn Entertainment that will first launch on the Xbox One, 360, and PC.
Aug 22, 2013
PS4 is a return to the spirit of the early PlayStation days, says the man who built it
Even if you weren't familiar with Mark Cerny before the start of this year, you'll have been hard-pressed not to hear his name after he was announced as the PS4's lead system architect. The man in charge of specifying how much oomph Sony's next black box will need to carry on the storied PlayStation heritage was in Cologne, Germany, this week to participate in Sony's Gamescom activities. He sat down with us in the midst of the gaming show maelstrom to discuss the work he's been doing over the past five years and where he hopes it'll take Sony's home console over the next decade.Read Article >
Let's start off with your Gamescom press conference. While Microsoft relied on familiar franchises like Fable and FIFA at this year's show, you really showed off a variety of gameplay styles and genres, from developers big and small.
Aug 22, 2013
Xbox One and Kinect won't be sold separately, Microsoft confirms
Microsoft has changed several key Xbox One policies to better compete with Sony's PlayStation 4, but this much is still guaranteed: every Xbox One will come with a Kinect. They won't be sold seperately. That's the word from Microsoft corporate vice president Phil Harrison. At Gamescom, he told CVG that as far as the company is concerned, Xbox One and Kinect are two parts of a single whole:Read Article >
Microsoft originally announced that not only would every Xbox One come with a Kinect, but also that it would be an integral part of the system that would need to be plugged in at all times. That last part is no longer true: Microsoft confirmed that the Kinect didn't need to be plugged in earlier this month. In doing so, the company raised both hopes and fears: hopes that Microsoft might be able to match the PlayStation 4's cheaper $399 price tag by not including a Kinect, and fears that Xbox One developers wouldn't be able to guarantee that any given gamer would have a new Kinect in their home. Now, the message is clear. Developers will be able to build their games with the assumption that Kinect will be available, and buyers will have to pay. Perhaps, if the resulting games are good, everyone will be a winner.
Aug 21, 2013
Microsoft previews Xbox One dashboard, reveals console can control your home theater
Despite having seen plenty of impressive Xbox One games in action, we're decidedly less familiar with the console's user interface. To this point, Microsoft has only demonstrated the UI in small doses, both at the Xbox One unveiling and later E3. Aside from brief glimpses of a live programming guide, snap functionality, and other features, Microsoft has largely focused its promotional efforts elsewhere. Thankfully the company is putting a larger spotlight on the Xbox One dashboard at Gamescom 2013. The software shown off to journalists today was non-final, but paints a clear picture of what gamers can expect this November. The flat menu design is a clear evolution of the Xbox 360's current dash, though it's looking closer to a full-blown Windows experience than ever before.Read Article >
It starts with logging in; Pocket-lint reports that Xbox One permits up to six accounts to be signed in simultaneously, with Kinect able to distinguish between those users by the sound of their voice. You can tell the console to display your friends list, for example, and if another player makes the same request moments later, Xbox One is smart enough to know which list should be on screen. And you'll likely be looking at those lists frequently on Xbox One since they're getting far more useful. You can "follow" up to 1,000 friends, but the number of followers you can ultimately tally is limitless. Your favorite multiplayer pals can be pinned to a favorites section to speed up party formation and get you into a game.
'The Sims 4': hands-on with the most detailed Sim creator yet
Maxis' fourth Sims title is scheduled for a 2014 release, but a limited alpha version of the game is playable here at Gamescom in Cologne. Gamers at the show can mess around with The Sims 4's character creation tool, which does a great job of showcasing the renewed focus on deeper and more flexible customization. While you've always had a rich set of options for tailoring your Sim's traits and attire, the new game ratchets up the level of fine-grained control to pretty much unprecedented levels.Read Article >
Almost every setting has a deeper level of control to explore. Thus, not only can you select between three different voice styles, you can also set the pitch. Two sliders adjust the overall fat and muscle content of your Sim, but they're underpinned by a bewildering breadth of size adjustment for particular body parts. You can individually adjust the width and depth of your Sim's shoulders, neck, chest, belly, waistline, thighs, calves, arms, forearms, feet, and, of course, head.
'Titanfall,' the best thing at Gamescom 2013
Respawn Entertainment's debut title won more than 60 awards when it was unveiled at E3 this year, and now that I've played it for the first time, I can see why. Titanfall remixes the familiar first-person shooter with elements from other game genres and, thanks to some meticulously balanced gameplay, delivers a cohesive and refreshingly original experience.Read Article >
There are two main protagonist classes in the game: the agile and quick Pilots, equipped with Jump Jets to facilitate wall running and double jumps, and the titular Titans, which are slow and graceless, but pack devastating firepower. Those are then further differentiated on the basis of user loadout, with three sub-classes of Pilot and Titan diversifying your options. Switching between your Pilot and a Titan is a matter of calling in an airdrop of the massive mech and then leaping into it — the transition is beautifully smooth and keeps you entirely absorbed in the action.
Aug 20, 2013
Sony announces one-click broadcasting for PlayStation 4 with Twitch streaming service
Twitch began its life as one of many channels on the streaming video service Justin.tv. But the video-game vertical quickly became bigger than the service that spawned it, and spun off into its own business. Today Sony announced that Twitch will be built directly into the new PlayStation 4, allowing users to broadcast their games live by simply clicking the share button on their controller.Read Article >
"Five or six years ago it was a real pain in the ass to stream from home," says Rod Breslau, who has been competing, casting, and covering the world of eSports for over a decade. "You needed a capture card; video cameras were more expensive, and there was a lot of complex software."
Aug 20, 2013
PlayStation 4 will have 33 games by the end of the year
Sony just announced a November 15th release date for the new PlayStation 4, and following Microsoft's lead, the company's also revealing the full set of games it expects to deliver shortly after the launch of the game console. Unlike Microsoft, however, Sony isn't promising these games on the actual day of launch, merely "before the end of the year." Still, the company claims we'll see 33 different games before December 31st, 2013, and many more in the future.Read Article >
Here's the full launch window lineup:
Sony announces PS3 to PS4 game upgrade plan, will offer 'significantly discounted' digital copies
Retailers are already devising their own upgrade programs to let consumers jump from current-gen games to their technically superior Xbox One and PS4 counterparts. But Sony is taking things into its own hands. At the company's Gamescom 2013 keynote, SCEA president Andrew House announced that Sony will offer an upgrade path for customers that purchase select PS3 titles and later wish to upgrade to a PlayStation 4 version of the same game. "We see this as a great way to reward PS3 gamers for their loyalty when transitioning to PS4, ensuring that it is as simple and accessible as possible," he said.Read Article >
Sony will offer the PS4 releases digitally at a "significantly discounted" rate, though House didn't delve into specifics on the exact savings. He noted that Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Warner Bros. are among the publishers that have already signed on to the effort. Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Watch Dogs, and Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag are among the games set to be included. Further details on Sony's upgrade plan are expected in the coming weeks.
PlayStation 4 coming November 15th for $399Read Article >
At Gamescom 2013, Sony answered the final big question about its next-gen console: the PlayStation 4 will go on sale November 15th in North America. The European release will follow two weeks later on November 29th. Priced at $399 / €399 / £349, the PS4 will do battle with Microsoft's $499 Xbox One, which is also scheduled for a November release. Sony plans to release 33 different games for the PS4 by December 31st, 2013.
Aug 20, 2013
'Fez,' 'Minecraft,' and 'Borderlands 2' are coming to PlayStation Vita
At its Gamescom press conference today, Sony announced a few big new titles coming to the PS Vita, and leading the way are the handheld debuts of both Borderlands 2 and Fez. Unfortunately, few details were revealed about the new games, so it's unclear when they'll be available for Sony's portable device. Fez is just the latest title in Sony's current indie gaming push, and according to studio Polytron it will also be coming to both the PS3 and PS4 at some point. However, in the wake of developer Phil Fish's recent cancellation of Fez II, the port will be handled by an outside studio, Blit Software.Read Article >
Meanwhile, indie blockbuster Minecraft will also be coming to the Vita, PS3, and PS4, according to creator Markus Persson — though how this version will differ from the Xbox One Edition revealed at E3 remains to be seen. And if you'll need to room to download these games when they do launch, there's good news, as Sony also announced plans for cheaper memory cards along with a Vita price drop to $199.
Sony cuts PS Vita price to $199.99, reduces cost of memory cards
The PlayStation Vita price cut you've been waiting for is finally here: Sony has just announced that the PS Vita's retail price is being slashed to $199 in the United States. That's down from its previous MSRP of $249.99. The portable is also being slashed to €199 across European territories. Better still, Sony has pledged to "make significant reductions" to the cost of memory cards for the Vita, which until now have been priced extraordinarily high compared with SD cards and other, non-proprietary flash memory. The 4GB Vita memory card now starts at $14.99, down from an original price of $19.99. 8GB cards have been reduced by $10 to $19.99, and both the 16GB (now $39.99) and 32GB ($79.99) have been slashed by $20.Read Article >
Sony is undoubtedly hoping that the more appealing price point will help boost momentum of the sagging Vita. Retailers have already beaten Sony to the punch, however; Best Buy recently put both the Wi-Fi and 3G models of PS Vita on sale for $199.99. The Wi-Fi MSRP will now stick around, though the future of the cellular Vita SKU remains unclear.
Xbox One will launch with over 20 games, many more announced
Microsoft is unveiling its list of Xbox One launch titles at Gamescom today, including Battlefield 4 and Ubisoft's Watch Dogs. There are 23 titles in total so far, but Microsoft leaves it open for more to be confirmed as launch titles in the coming weeks before the November release. The Xbox One launch titles include:Read Article >
Alongside the launch titles, Microsoft recently released some stats on its Xbox One games line-up. 38 percent of the titles are exclusive to Xbox One, 37 percent are brand-new IP, and 44 percent will include timed or exclusive content for Xbox One. There are over 50 titles in total planned for the Xbox One so far that are expected to debut over the course of this year and 2014. Microsoft hasn't confirmed exactly when the Xbox One will be made available, but its planned for a release in November.
'FIFA 14' bundled as a free digital download with European Xbox One pre-orders
Microsoft is planning to bundle a free copy of FIFA 14 with European Xbox One pre-orders this year. At Gamescom today the software maker unveiled the free game alongside new additions to the Xbox One line up, and a new ID@Xbox program for indie developers. A free copy of FIFA 14 will be included with all European pre-orders, while stocks last says Microsoft. FIFA 14 on Xbox One will also include Ultimate Team, and an exclusive "football legends" mode that combines the stars of today with those of previous years. Ruud Gullit and Freddie Ljungberg will be the first players available in the new game mode, with Pelé and Patrick Vieira planned for the future.Read Article >
Seven European countries will be able to take advantage of the free FIFA 14 offer, as all pre-orders from Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are covered. The game will be offered as a digital download, and all pre-orders to date and pre-orders from today are covered. Microsoft is also launching an Xbox 360 FIFA 14 launch bundle on September 27th in Europe for £199.
'Fable Legends', 'FIFA 14' Ultimate Team, and 'Cobalt': Xbox One news at Gamescom 2013
Microsoft's Xbox One Showcase event at Gamescom 2013 is primarily intended to let people get to grips with its next-gen console, but there are a few noteworthy news items as well. Firstly, Fable Legends has been announced as an upcoming Xbox One exclusive, the latest in the long-running series of role-playing games from Lionhead Studios. Microsoft says the new game will feature an "online world of Albion like you've never seen before," while the big gaming appeal is pitched as the ability to play as either the villain or the hero.Read Article >
The Unreal Engine 4-powered game is still at the pre-alpha stage of development, so some animation stutters were predictably visible in Lionhead's demo, however the whole thing conveyed a real sense of next-gen gaming. The gameplay looks to focus on tactical team play, whether with AI sidekicks or via online multiplayer, and villains will be able to prearrange monster spawn points and other nasty surprises for oncoming heroes.