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From the PlayStation Europe Twitter account. Credit: Sony

by Dave Thier via Forbes

Because who doesn’t like a good teaser? PlayStation Europe has a perfectly cryptic message up on its Twitter account that appears to be teasing some sort of announcement ahead of Gamescom. It says only “we’re gearing up for the reveal of something new,” with a gif of red cloth sitting over some unnamed object. Sony didn’t announce a Gamescom press conference, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bringing some kind of surprise, possibly to offer something to take attention away from Microsoft’s Xbox One X. The company’s North American accounts didn’t echo the tease, so whatever it is may only apply to Europe.

Beyond this, we have absolutely nothing to go on, but that’s never stopped us from wild speculation before. The red cloth could seem to indicate a physical object, and for some reason, the commentariat of the broader gaming community have jumped on the idea of a portable. This is almost certainly not going to happen: Sony hopefully learned its lesson with the Vita, and woe be to the company that challenges either the 3DS or the Switch. A much more reasonable assumption would be some kind of Knack-only console that promises to enshrine the wonder that is Knackfor future generations— a Knackstation if you will. Support for Knack 2 is unannounced at this time.

If I had to take an actual guess, I’d say this this is some sort of special edition PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro, some of which have been region-specific before. Sony isn’t doing any sort of presentation at Gamescom, so it’d be a pretty unusual move to come out with some kind of large-scale reveal without any warning. Not impossible, mind you, just unusual. Sony is having a press conference at Paris Games Week in October, so if it has something bigger for the Holiday season that might be a more reasonable time to unveil it. But who knows? We’ll find out soon, it would seem.

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by Mark Austin via Digital Trends

In a post on its website, BioWare announced that there will be no Mass Effect: AndromedaDLC, and that support for the single-player campaign has come to an end: “There are no planned future patches for single-player or in-game story content.”

The game was put on “temporary hiatus” back in May 2017, with many team members relocated to EA Motive for the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront II. Several game websites had speculated that there would be no more DLC for the game following a mixed reception, underwhelming sales, and middling reviews.

The announcement leaves the future of the franchise in doubt. Plagued by numerous delays, staff changes, and technological difficulties, the ambitious game didn’t seem to realiz its full potential from the beginning, and has relied on the multiplayer loot-box system for much of its revenue.

The other three Mass Effect games had major single-player DLC packs that complemented the main narrative, and this cancellation leaves much of the unfinished Andromeda story in limbo. Whatever happened to Ryder’s family, and who was the Benefactor behind the Andromeda initiative? What about the Quarians? We may never know.

However, BioWare promises that they “will continue to tell stories in the Andromeda Galaxy through our upcoming comics and novels, including the fate of the quarian ark.” More details about multiplayer enhancements and “N7 Day” (November 7th) will be revealed in the coming weeks.

EA and BioWare never seemed happy with the game. In an interview with Engadget, EA Executive Vice President Patrick Soderlund was quite candid about their disappointment with Andromeda. “A game that we launched in the market that doesn’t function and is full of bugs, that’s not who we are and that’s not who we should be,” he said. “With Mass Effect [Andromeda], the game wasn’t maybe as finished as people wanted it to be.”

BioWare is hoping to right the ship with a new franchise set to debut in 2018. Anthem is an open-world sci-fi RPG set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland featuring giant monsters and Iron Man-esque suits of armor.

Still, the announcement about Andromeda marks an inglorious and unfortunate end to an epic franchise that redefined the art of single-player narrative games.

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It’s not just big-name titles, but you’ll have to wait for some.

by Edgar Alavrez via Engadget

Microsoft has dribbled out details of Xbox One X visual upgrades over the past couple of months, but now it’s laying all its cards on the table. The company’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb has posted a list of all the games currently slated to get some kind of Xbox One X enhancement. Some of them you’ll already know about or would expect, such as many recent Microsoft-published games (including Quantum Break), Assassin’s Creed Origins and Wolfenstein II. However, there are plenty of older and indie titles also in line, such as AstroneerFirewatchHitman and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The list looks impressive at first blush, but it’s also important to remember that only some of the games will be Xbox One X-ready when the console launches on November 7th. Many of these titles, like Anthem, won’t ship until many months later. Microsoft also doesn’t explain just what the enhancements mean. You’ll have to dig deeper to find out whether or not a game runs natively in 4K or relies on upscaling tricks (such as checkerboard rendering), as well as whether or not there are any added visual effects. Think of this as a cheat sheet — it’ll give you a quick idea of which games will improve, but it’s up to you to decide whether or not those improvements justify a purchase.

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by Timothy J. Seppala via Engadget

Strange things are afoot at Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio BioWare. Mass Effect‘s former creative director, Casey Hudson, is leaving his spot at Microsoft and will return to Edmonton to lead the studio, as general manager Aaryn Flynnhas announced he’s stepping down. “I have been contemplating changes in my own life for some time, but when I heard that Casey had confirmed he was up for the task, I realized the opportunities before us,” Flynn writes. “I will be working with him over the next couple of weeks to catch him up and do my part to set him up for success to be the best GM he can be.”

Considering Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s tepid reception, critically, from fans and, surprisingly from with in publisher Electronic Arts, maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When something like that happens it isn’t uncommon for the head of a studio to step down. After all, BioWare founders Drs. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk retired from the game industry wholesale after fans’ vocal reaction Mass Effect 3‘s ending.

“With Mass Effect, the game wasn’t maybe as finished as people wanted it to be,” EA’s vice president Patrick Soderlund told Engadget ahead of E3 this year. “Of course, we take that seriously. What we do is we look at that toward the Mass Effect team themselves, but we also look at what learnings we can apply to the rest of the organization so that this doesn’t get replicated in another place around EA.”

The interesting part here is Hudson’s return. The Mass Effect lead parted ways with BioWare in 2015 to work on HoloLens projects at Microsoft. Now, he’s heading back to old stomping grounds. Maybe bringing him back is an attempt to find Mass Effect‘s magic once again.

There’s also the chance that he’ll be helping with EA’s Destiny-alike, Anthem, but given that that game has been in development for a few years at this point, maybe that isn’t the case. Regardless, perhaps this is the good news BioWare fans have been waiting for since March.

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by Napier Lopez

The Oculus Rift sparked the virtual reality race, but so far, VR has mostly remained the realm of extreme enthusiasts and one-off gimmicks. Now Facebook is looking to achieve true mass market appeal with a standalone Oculus headset.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is planning to unveil an Oculus headset later this year that relies on neither a cellphone (a la Google Cardboard or Gear VR) nor a powerful PC (like the Rift or Vive). The device – codenamed ‘Pacific’ – will be built by Xiaomi and cost around $200 when it ships next year.

The report isn’t particularly surprising. Mark Zuckerberg described standalone headsets as the VR “sweet spot” during last year’s Oculus conference, and basically confirmed one was in the works:

We don’t have a product to unveil at this time, however we can confirm we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category.

Going by Bloomberg’s description, Pacific will likely be similar to the Gear VR in overall function and capabilities. It shares a similar interface and can also be controlled with a wireless remote.

Despite the low price point (compared to buying a smartphone and the VR enclosure), the device is supposed to be lighter and more powerful (at least for gaming) than the current Gear VR options. It won’t include spatial tracking like the Rift at first, but that will arrive in a future version.

Oculus is also planning a headset that duplicates the functions of the Rift, but wirelessly. It would likely have a battery pack for powering the internal hardware, and beam data back and forth with your PC, as seen in some accessories for the Vive.

Standalone VR headsets are the logical end goal for VR. Though they won’t be as powerful as the ones requiring a PC, they’ll certainly be the most practical. Facebook envisions the Pacific as a headset that small and practical enough that people will be able to pull out it of their bag and use it to distract themselves during a flight.

It’s a future where you can teleport yourself to an IMAX theater during a boring seven-hour flight. That’s the world I want to live in.

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by Andrew Tarantola via Engadget

More than 40,000 disingenuous gamers lost access to their games, items — and in some cases, their entire accounts — last weekend after the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system flagged them for violations. No, that’s not a typo, 40,411 players have been nicked by the company’s robotic rule enforcer. That’s nearly triple the previous banning record from 2016, which stood at a meager 15,227 players.

Valve’s VAC system doles out around 3,500 suspensions on an average day. However, on Thursday July 6th, an unprecedented wave of bannings took place. The VAC had hammered nearly 30,000 accounts by noon Pacific. Valve launched this operation immediately after the end of its annual Summer Sale, presumably to prevent scofflaws from taking advantage of the event’s discounted prices on games.

What’s more, another 4,972 players got the hammer for their abusive in-game behavior. VAC bans prohibit accounts from connecting to Valve’s servers, which render their in-game purchased skins and items useless. All in all, the Vac-Ban website, which monitors and reports on these incidents, estimates that cheaters forfeited $9,580 worth of real world money due to their online shenanigans. Seriously guys,  it’s just Counter-Strike. Not like you can even gamble in it.

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PS5 Is Coming, Sony Confirms

Posted: June 29, 2017 in Announcements

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by Sammy Barker via Push Square

Sony has commented on the PlayStation 5 for the first time, telling the German website, Golem.de that it will release a next-gen console – albeit not any time soon. The platform holder was asked about the PlayStation 4 Pro, and whether the mid-gen device will eventually get any exclusive software. Big-wig Shawn Layden reaffirmed that all of its PS4 games will continue to run on the base model, as it sticks to the tried and tested generational format that the industry is accustomed to.

There has been some speculation that generations may be dead, as hardware manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft adopt rolling console revisions instead, similar to what you see in the smartphone space. But in the interview, Layden is adamant that a PS5 is on the way, although he cautions that “it will probably be some time”.

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