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Fresh from the rumor mill, we have some new next-generation Xbox news. The latest rumors include some screenshots of a purported Xbox Development Kit (XDK) for the next-gen console from Microsoft.
The leaked documentation, if true, would see the next-gen Xbox feature a large HDD, large enough to "hold a large number of games". All next-gen Xbox games are said to be installable to the drive, and "play from the optical drive will not be supported." It seems as though installation of games will be a requirement, with games not capable of being played off the disc at all. This might be a nice change from Microsoft, being able to install the games to the Xbox and take the disc out - not requiring it again until you re-install it.
What about piracy? Well, Microsoft are reportedly developing an anti-used games system, requiring activation codes for 50GB capacity Blu-ray discs. This would definitely shoot holes in piracy for the next-gen Xbox, but how Microsoft play this out will be very, very important.
DICE have confirmed that the debut trailer for their upcoming Frostbite 2-powered Battlefield 4 will arrive on March 27, taking it a step further by unveiling a very short teaser clip to get those gaming juices flowing.
The announcement came from the official Battlefield Twitter account, which included a sneak peak at the trailer. It looks as though we should 'Prepare 4 Battle' and that we should expect some naval gameplay, too. Once the trailer breaks, we should hopefully hear more on the game in the coming months, which platforms it'll be released on - and when - and which platform was the development platform.
Remember last time, we were told it was the PC, but then switched to the consoles to get it out on time. Hopefully this time, DICE aren't messing around and have developed on the PC first and foremost, especially considering that next-gen consoles are powered by x86-based, PC architecture - like the PlayStation 4 from Sony.
We've brought you lots of coverage of SimCity's somewhat flawed launch. Over the last couple of weeks, EA and Maxis have been working diligently to bring more servers online and patch current servers so that they can support more users. Apparently the efforts have paid off because EA has said this was SimCity's largest launch ever at 1.1 million units.
SimCity had a great weekend with sales strong across both North America and Europe, adding to overwhelming demand at launch that has us tracking well beyond expectations for the game. SimCity is one of the storied brands in gaming, and Maxis delivered a game re-envisioned and engineered for the online age.
Impressively, users have logged 15 million hours of gameplay across 5.7 million cities. Contained in those cities are 780 million buildings and enough roads and railroad tracks to traverse the globe over 40,000 times. I'm holding off for a bit longer before dropping my money on the game to make sure everything is patched and ready to play.
March has been a roller coaster ride for gaming companies, with major games like Sim City and Tomb Raider experiencing major issues on launch. Tomb Raider was all but playable on NVIDIA GPUs up until now. The GPU architecture giant has finally been able to release an official driver update that fixes most issues with the latest installment from Crystal Dynamics.
On the company's official blog, they stated:
GeForce gamers have come to expect an awesome Day 1 experience. But in the case of Tomb Raider, that didn't come to pass. We hadn't received the game in time to assure them of this - which was disappointing for them and for us.
But our software engineers, like our GPUs, are the best in the industry. And they've been working closely with Crystal Dynamics since the game's release to help improve the experience for GeForce gamers.
So, in conjunction with a game patch that Crystal Dynamics released earlier today, we recommend that GeForce users update to the just-posted GeForce 314.21 drivers (Source #2 below). They'll provide major gains in reliability and performance in the game - delivering an average of 45% and up to 60% performance improvements (as measured with GeForce GTX 680 at 1920-1080 and 2560-1600 resolutions).
Can you believe we're already up to a fourth Saints Row game? Well, the developers behind Saints Row, Volition, have unveiled the trailer to Saints Row IV, showing off a bunch of content in the game. Check it out below:
There you have it, if you thought the previous Saints Row games were crazy, this is going to set the bar much higher. It looks like Saints Row had babies with a bunch of other games, like GTA and Crackdown, and that is definitely not a bad thing at all. Saints Row IV gets released on August 20, 2013 in the US, and three days later on August 23 for the rest of the world.
Crytek have authorized a new TimeSplitters game headed to PC, powered by the company's CryEngine 3. TimeSplitters Rewind is a fan-made game, including the help of members of the original TimeSplitters team from Free Radical Design.
TimeSplitters Rewind will include multiple modes and challenges taken from the original three TimeSplitters games, all polished in CryEngine 3. There will be online play for 8-16 players, as well as bots. CryEngine 3 doesn't support split-screen, so that's off the table for the moment. A demo of TimeSplitters Rewind is due for December.
Battlefield 4 will be officially announced later this month, on March 26 at the Games Development Conference 2013 (GDC), but for now we have the first image of the game. The image, below, confirms that the next-gen, first-person shooter will take place in the present day.
As you can see, the image shows off a soldier and various vehicles pushing through a city, which is in the background. Battlefield 4 continues on its predecessor's color scheme, of orange, black and blue - which is definitely not a bad thing. DICE's Karl Magnus Troedsson said last summer: "We still want to stay in this genre, the modern day as it is. We feel this is a place we can be and continue with the series. Battlefield 4 can live in this space and be very successful."
Something I'm looking forward to seeing is the unlocking of the potential of the graphics engine to be used, Frostbite 2. Frostbite 2's engine in Battlefield 3 was only utilized to a reported 30%, with Battlefield 4 pushing that right up to 80% with improved dynamic lighting and tessellation, among other goodies.
Well, well, well, here we are; Maxis' chief, Lucy Bradshaw, has come out and admitted what we all thought - SimCity was capable of an offline mode, but it conflicted with the vision that the developer had for the game. Bradshaw said Maxis had:
Rejected that idea because it didn't fit with our vision. We did not focus on the "single city in isolation" that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans - people who love the original SimCity - who want that. But we're also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.
Bradshaw also added:
Always-Connected is a big change from SimCities of the past. It didn't come down as an order from corporate and it isn't a clandestine strategy to control players. It's fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity. From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind - using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world.
In an interesting move, mobile messaging app company WhatsApp, could be launching a new games platform that would provide the company their monetization and increase their revenues. Reports are coming out of Korea where the US startup has reportedly inked a deal with Korean/US games-maker, WeMade.
The deal between the companies is reportedly a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which is the first step toward a proper deal that would see WhatsUp open a games platform. We don't know if WhatsApp have inked a deal exclusively through WeMade, or whether they've talked to other game companies. We should hear more in the coming weeks.
Portal is one of those games that really took off, surprising most people - but then you play it, and you totally understand. Now we have an actual live-action look inside the Portal world, with a Portal 2-inspired web series from Wayside Creations.
The new web series' first outing is Aperture R&D - Episode 1, which takes you deep in the labs of the research facility following some scientists as they try to earn the distinction of Lab Team of the Month. Losing a team member to a turret laser doesn't stop these protagonists from going after that Lab Team of the Month award. The first episode has some great references to the series, which should have fans having a laugh or three.