Pokemon Go Will Soon Get Co-Op Multiplayer; Update Brings Other New Features

Pokemon Go has struggled to remain relevant after becoming hugely successful last year but seems like Niantic, the game developer behind the app, is pulling up its socks to get some of its users back. Niantic has announced that the company will soon be adding “all new cooperative social gameplay experiences” to the augmented-reality mobile game going ahead. The company has also pushed out the version 0.61.0 update on Google Play and version 1.31.0 update on App Store respectively, with new features.

Apart from the mention of the upcoming co-op multiplayer element, Niantic also shared that the game is currently enjoying a user base of over 65 million monthly active users.

“Yesterday, Pokemon Go won the Best Mobile and Handheld Game at the British Academy of Film, Television and Arts Game Awards. We are surprised and grateful to be awarded this honour. We owe the continued momentum and recognition to the dedicated players exploring the world and creating adventures together in Pokemon Go. Each and every award Pokemon Go has won is a testament to the game’s awesome and supportive community,” the company said in a blog post.

Moving to the latest update to the game, it brings along support for traditional Chinese language, updates the Pokemon collection screen scroll bar, and carries various bug fixes, as per the change-log on Google Play.

We will have to wait for Niantic to provide additional details about the co-op element of the game but as the latest update doesn’t bring any remarkable improvement to the game, it seems unlikely that players will be returning to the game any time soon.

Elgato Stream Deck Is a Control Centre for Pro-Livestreamers

Elgato Stream Deck Is a Control Centre for Pro-Livestreamers

Live streaming of video games has become big business in recent years, as anyone who frequents Twitch will tell you. The most popular broadcasters have followings in the order of millions, with some even taking it up as a full-time career. That seems to be the target market for Munich-based Elgato, which has announced Stream Deck, a programmable LCD control centre.

The Stream Deck has a total of 15 LCD keys spread across three rows, which can be configured to do a total of 210 actions – be it adjusting audio, welcoming/ thanking subscribers, displaying your Twitter username in the lower-third, or even bringing up memes on screen. It’s meant to liberate you from relying on keyboard shortcuts, and the daunting prospect of memorising dozens.

Of course, Elgato will provide you with companion software, so you can customise the functions available to you, as you please. You can create custom icons to truly personalise the Stream Deck. It will even allow you to create folders, so you can nest some common actions together.

The Stream Deck connects to your machine over USB, has dimensions of 118 x 84 x 21 mm, and weighs 190g. It’s compatible with both Windows 10 (64-bit), and macOS 10.11.

According to the website, it will be available in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain. Currently, it’s up for pre-order in the US at $149.95, in Australia at AUD 199, in New Zealand at NZD 229.99, and Germany at EUR 149.95.

Elgato says the Stream Deck will start shipping by May, though the New Zealand retailer states a late April launch.

No Man’s Sky PR Strategy ‘Wasn’t Great’: Sony Worldwide Studios Boss

Aside from being one of the biggest disappointments of the year, No Man’s Sky was a debacle for fans and the press. Reason being, creator Sean Murray promised a host of features that never quite made it to the final game.

No Man's Sky PR Strategy 'Wasn't Great': Sony Worldwide Studios Boss

For many, No Man’s Sky was nowhere close to what Hello Games founder Sean Murray promised it would be. More so with a massive Reddit post detailing missing features (which was deleted later) albeit archived on other sites such as the aptly named One Man’s Lie.

Despite Sony’s efforts at marketing the game, it couldn’t stop consumers trying to refund it en-masse. Safe to say, the game was a public relations nightmare. And Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida agrees. Speaking to Eurogamer, the President of Sony Worldwide Studios had this to say:

“I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one.

“It wasn’t a great PR strategy, because he didn’t have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer. But he says their plan is to continue to develop No Man’s Sky features and such, and I’m looking forward to continuing to play the game.”

Facebook Takes on Twitch, YouTube With ‘Live’ In-Game Streaming

Facebook on Monday announced that it is getting into the e-Sports game, jumping into the field of video games as spectator sports against Amazon-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube Gaming.

Facebook Takes on Twitch, YouTube With 'Live' In-Game Streaming

Later this month, people will be able to use Facebook accounts to log in to Blizzard Entertainment computer games such as “World of Warcraft.”

The move will pave the way for Blizzard game fans to use the leading social network’s Live video service to broadcast play in real time, the companies said in a joint release.

California-based Blizzard, owned by video game publisher Activision, is in the process of creating a “Go Live” feature that would let players stream on-screen action to Facebook timelines, according to the companies.

Blizzard games in line for the Facebook streaming capability included freshly released “Overwatch.”

The collaboration will add social features to Blizzard games while highlighting Facebook as a platform for sharing, viewing and discussing play, the companies said.

“Our collaboration on ‘Overwatch’ demonstrates Facebook’s commitment to partnering with AAA game companies, while further empowering Blizzard gamers to connect and share the content they’re most passionate about with the friends they play with around the world,” said Facebook global games director Leo Olebe.

“Overwatch” is a team-based shooter game played online.

Facebook earlier this year ramped up its challenge to Twitter-owned Periscope with upgrades to the social network’s live video broadcasting feature.

A new featured was added to the Live streaming feature at Facebook to let people “broadcast: to groups at the social network or in scheduled “events.”

Facebook Live launched in the middle of last year and was initially limited to celebrities but recently opened to a wider audience of broadcasters.

e-Sports heavyweights
Getting into the e-Sports game will pit Facebook against heavyweight rivals including pioneering firm Twitch and popular online video sharing service YouTube, owned by Google-parent Alphabet.

Yahoo E-sports launched about two months ago as an online venue for live tournaments, commentary, features, interviews and more tailored for the booming trend of video games as spectator sports.

The rollout of YouTube Gaming in the middle of last year marked the public debut of an online spot where video game lovers can find commentary, live play, on-demand snippets and more.

The online arena for video game channels incorporates the search smarts of Google to surface fresh or must-see content.

US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming in 2014.

The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon’s history $970 million (roughly Rs. 6,488 crores) in cash for the three-year-old Internet company.

Twitch Interactive streams games being played for non-playing viewers to watch, and hosts gaming events.

It allows viewers to chat with the players and others, lending it some of the qualities of social networking websites, and it also sells advertising to generate income.

Battlefield 5 World Premiere Date Confirmed

EA will finally lift the lid on its new Battlefield game on May 6 at 4pm ET (1:30am IST on May 7).

The company will, according to a countdown timer on the official Battlefield website, give gamers “a first look at the future of Battlefield” via its Twitch channel.

Battlefield 5 World Premiere Date Confirmed

“Get insight into the minds of the developers as you hear from the creative director Lars Gustavsson and lead producer Aleksander Grondal on the past, present and the future of Battlefield,” states a press release sent by EA.

As per a leak by Swiss retailer World of Games back in February, Battlefield 5 (or whatever EA is calling it) might just be set during World War I and focussed on multiplayer.

“Battlefield 5 for PS4/XB1/PC. Lists October 26 as a release date. It includes the description ‘Mehrspieler Taktik Shooter I’m 1. Weltkrieg’ which translates to ‘Multiplayer tactical shooter in WW1′”, reads a post by NeoGAF member Ondore .

However, a quick check of the description at time had any indication of it being a World War I shooter missing. This could possibly an error on the part of the retailer.

EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said during the 2014 UBS Global Technology Conference that he’d seen the next entry in the first-person shooter series in development and believed it will be a “fun, new Battlefield.”

“That will be a return to a Battlefield military-style game; more to come on that,” he said.

Barring Battlefield: Hardline which took place in a civilian backdrop, every other game in the series focused on military settings. With the gaming community growing tired of futuristic first-person shooters, and EA covering its quota of the subgenre with Titanfall 2, a World War I setting for the next Battlefield might not be such a bad idea after all.

Though we do hope that despite it being multiplayer-focussed, developer Dice includes more single-player content in comparison to what we’ve seen with another EA shooter- Star Wars Battlefront.

Angry Birds Action! Brings Angry Birds to Life

One of the earliest poster children for mainstream mobile gaming success, Angry Birds has come a full circle. From a being a smartphone game to a movie, there’s now a game to celebrate the movie’s release. It’s available on Android and iOS right now. And unlike Sony’s Ratchet & Clank reimagining on the PS4, it utilises augmented reality (AR) to a large degree.

Dubbed as Angry Birds Action!, Rovio has partnered with AR firm Zappar to bring the titular Angry Birds to life. Using Zappar’s zap code tech, fans can scan codes to unlock characters, AR mini-games, photo-features and a whole lot more in the way of interactive experiences.

Angry Birds Action! Brings Angry Birds to Life

“Imagine if everyday objects could unlock fun and exclusive content when scanned with a mobile device. With Angry Birds we’ve done just that– working closely in partnership with Rovio we’ve been able to deliver a hidden world of stackable experiences and in-game power-ups via BirdCodes on participating products and promotions to surprise and delight users,” said Caspar Thykier, Co-founder and CEO of Zappar. “This is the biggest and most truly integrated augmented reality project to date, with BirdCodes appearing on apparel, toys, cups, POS, and even candy dispensers across the world. Together with Rovio, we’ve set a new bar to bring AR to the mass market in a meaningful and rewarding way,” Thykier added.

“With the help of Zappar and our other partners we have put the Angry Birds characters and story at the centre of a truly 360-degree experience this summer, bringing the story world to life in a new way both for our heavily engaged fan base and newcomers alike,” said Miika Tams, VP Games at Rovio. “Angry Birds Action! is the cornerstone of our comprehensive Digital Movie Program, which bridges digital and physical entertainment like never before, and with more than 1 billion BirdCodes to be found out in the wild, at a scale never seen before either,” Tams said.

Some of the places you can claim these BirdCodes includes McDonald’s and H&M. While it’s unclear at this point of time if this promotion would make its way to India as well, Zappar does claim it would take place in 50 markets across the globe.

While Rovio’s past few quarters have resulted in a spate of layoffs, hopefully its much-awaited movie release should stem the tide. Angry Birds isn’t as popular as it used to be and without a massive follow-up in sight, diversifying the brand across other media such as movies seems like the shrewd way forward.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered to Ship With Multiplayer

Earlier in the week we reported that the upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has a Legacy Edition that ships with a remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now, more information has surfaced on what you can expect from the remaster of the 2007 classic.

The source is a leaked poster that found its way to Reddit. With its pricing and date format, it is quite possibly for the Canadian version of the game. But what’s most interesting is that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will not only ship with its stellar single-player campaign but have multiplayer as well.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered to Ship With Multiplayer: Report

According to the poster, Modern Warfare will feature 10 multiplayer maps, not all the multiplayer content its entirety though. It goes on to reconfirm the November 4 release date of the previous leak.

Don’t expect it to be on disc though, as per previous reports “Modern Warfare Remastered is full game digital download.”

It’s a shrewd move from Activision to bundle Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare with a remaster of one of the better first-person shooters of the previous generation, which should bring back fans of the older games in the series.

Previously it was discovered that this entry in the long-running series will be set in space. The sourcewas Shinobi, a regular on popular gaming forum NeoGAF. He claims it will be “Very far future. Space combat. Full on sci-fi.”

All of this comes days after video game critic Jim Sterling tweeted that the game will be revealed by next Tuesday and would be listed in stores as well. Looks like we won’t have to wait long for an official reveal.

Hitman: Episode 2

After a solid albeit technically poor debut, Hitman’s second episode, called World of Tomorrow is now available digitally on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It takes place in the coastal town of Sapienza, Italy. Is it a return to form or a damp squib? Read on to find out.

Your mission is to assassinate two scientists working on a designer virus that could put your employers, the ICA out of business, aside from well, leaving the world in chaos. Honourable (or not so honourable) intentions aside, you’re also tasked with destroying the said virus.

While it might sound like a script out of a cheesy 1990s action movie, the reality is a lot more understated. Akin to the Paris mission, you’ll infiltrate the location and keep an eye out for opportunities to complete your goals or simply turn it into a playground of death – and a rather opulent one at that. There’s a golf course, bio-lab, projector room, graveyard, and a whole lot more you can use to your advantage.

hitman_sapienza_mansion.jpg

The sprawling environs open up a host of ways to play from the outset. They also allow for a sense of bravado, letting you gun and run, using the surroundings to your advantage as well as compensating for the lacklustre gunplay. But if that’s how you’re playing Hitman, you’re probably doing it wrong. More than that, you won’t be making complete use of all the possibilities at your disposal, some of which are obvious from the beginning.

Don the disguise of the mansion’s hired help, masquerade as a delivery boy for a florist or simply sneak in – right from the get go, developer IO Interactive gives you ample means to get started. This extends to your assassination methods as well. There are the all but obvious tools of the trade such as the silenced pistol, fibre wire, and poison to name a few. Sapienza also lends itself to some rather unique means. These include using an exploding golf ball or decking yourself up as a statue of a medieval plague doctor waiting for the right moment to strike.

Compared to Paris which took a few tries before one could figure out what approach works to complete objectives, even ones as simple as getting to a specific location, Sapienza is a lot more free-flowing and accessible. This is due to the intricacies and details that are bound to please hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Thanks to colourful, varied art direction, Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza doesn’t get boring either.

hitman_sapienza_biolab.jpg

However there is one glaring point of concern. With the previous episode setting things up nicely in terms of an overarching story, Episode 2 does little to take things forward. There isn’t much in the way of a narrative payoff and it comes across as remarkably light on plot.

To compound this, it isn’t entirely free of issues we highlighted in our review of the first episode. The game’s perplexing online requirement exists despite the backlash from consumers. On the plus side, the experience wasn’t as erratic this time around. Playing through Sapienza for around five hours over the course of a couple of days we were subject to all of one disconnection error.

Apart from this, Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza runs smooth sticking to a consistent 30 frames per second. Enabling the game’s variable frame rate option does result in some tearing and a few mangled textures but barring that, its less choppy than the first episode was at launch on the PS4.

hitman_sapienza_sniper.jpg

If Hitman’s Paris mission was an indication that thoughtful, complex level design was not dead, Sapienza appears to be the full expression of it. It doesn’t guarantee that the upcoming episodes will be as good but it does wonders to elevate a game that was under criticism for its staggered release. This alone warrants checking Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza out.

Pros:

  • Improves over the first mission in almost every way.
  • Slick art direction.
  • Consistently great attention to detail.

Cons

  • Still sports a ridiculous always online requirement.
  • Light on story.

No One Knows Dark Souls III’s Release Date in India

Action role-playing game Dark Souls 3 is due to hit stores the world over on April 12 (well, barring Japan since the game release on March 24 there). India was slated to get the game at the same time. This however, does not seem to be the case anymore.

Eager customers looking to get their hands on the game have been told by local stores to wait as it has been delayed to April 20 at the earliest, while some were informed of availability on April 18. Odd considering that the game was slated for an April 12 release date for the longest time.

Right now, listings for Dark Souls 3 on websites such as Games The Shop show up as “TBA-Slight Delay”. Incidentally, the chain of specialist game stores is run by E-xpress Interactive – the company distributing the game in India. Other retailers like Amazon and Flipkart stopped taking pre-orders last week, only to reopen them today.

No One Knows Dark Souls III's Release Date in India

And while the distributor did not comment on the status of the game’s availability, a call to our local Games The Shop outlet resulted in us being told something similar – the game will be available between April 15 to April 18. No reason for the delay has been given at the moment.

You’d think that with a flurry of positive reviews that Dark Souls 3 would make it to India on time. But this is not the case. In the past this has happened with other games from publisher Bandai Namco such as Project Cars. Then again, with India not being a market with a huge demand for RPGs, you can’t exactly blame the Japanese company’s hesitation.

For what it’s worth, we found Dark Souls 3 to be a slick albeit familiar experience. It might not be the last game in the series, but we won’t be surprised if it’s taken in a different direction going forward.

Square Enix Could Bring Final Fantasy XV to PC

While the main draw of Square Enix’s Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event was Final Fantasy XV (FFXV)’s release date, it was revealed early due to a video leak by Gamespot. However that doesn’t mean there was nothing else of note.

Aside from announcing a companion mobile game, an anime series called Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV, and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy, a computer-generated movie, there’s also a good chance of seeing FFXV hit the PC eventually.

Square Enix Could Bring Final Fantasy XV to PC

FFXV director Hajime Tabata told Engadget that the studio isn’t currently working on a PC version of the game. But, Tabata said he was “aware of the big call for a PC version.”

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to do simultaneous development on a PC and console version for XV,” he said. “We had to focus on the console version and our goal was to maximize, optimise everything for the HD consoles. Once that’s done, then we will definitely take a good, hard look at PC and what we need to do, and consider all our options. But right now we aren’t decided, we’re still considering a lot of things.”

We won’t be surprised to FFXV land on PC eventually and perhaps faster than the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy on Steam. Of late we’ve seen Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below available on PC merely months after its PS4 release and I Am Setsuna (earlier known as Project Setsuna) slated for PC around the same time as its release on the PS4 and PS Vita.