We just reported on WD & Seagate's fiscal year 2Q16 earnings, both hard drive companies showing a decline in both revenue and income. Not to be left behind, publicly-held EA Games recently released its shareholder earnings call transcript with a roadmap for the next year.
The company is currently developing and publishing “Mass Effect 4” (official title – Mass Effect: Andromeda), the next Battlefield game, and “Titanfall 2” (name TBD). All three series will deliver their refreshments in 2017, with Titanfall and Mass Effect updating prior to 2Q17 (before April). Titanfall 2 is known to be multi-platform and will retain its focus on fast-paced, parkour-inspired gameplay.
It's game launch season. This is the busiest time of year for the games industry, and that's apparent to anyone who's followed recent launches – it's been one hit after the next. Black Ops III led into Fallout 4, into Battlefront, into Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and now Blizzard's Overwatch. The intensity of the season makes for plenty of discussion topics in the gaming news space (and for lots of benchmarking), something that GN's newest commentator is eager to discuss.
This week's biggest news items include, perhaps obviously, Assassin's Creed Syndicate & Battlefront launches, the Overwatch beta weekend, and some Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 news. Our loose script / video outline can be found below the news recap!
It’s time to pick up the blasters and lightsabers again. After 10 years, the Star Wars “Battlefront” franchise is returning to something bigger than a handheld device. Initially announced two years ago, EA is now sending out invitations to a closed alpha test for the PC version of Star Wars Battlefront. You can join in by signing up at starwars.ea.com.
Need For Speed is one of the longest-standing racing genres in gaming history, rooted in high-speed police chases and later adding detailed car customization. Need For Speed Underground heavily focused on high-octane street racing, featuring dyno tuning, car tweaking, and import-styled visuals. NFSU2 offered an open world experience on the nighttime streets of various cities.
As exciting as 2015 will be for video game releases, it will be equally as exciting for news and developments emerging from post-2015 titles. We’ve known the next Mass Effect game has been in development for at least several months, and probably longer than that, but the game is far from release. Bioware GM Aaron Flynn posted on Neogaf about his team’s outlook on expanding the Mass Effect universe and supporting that through the gameplay.
The next Mass Effect -- which has not been named “Mass Effect 4” -- will mark the series’ debut on the new consoles, assuming we don’t get a remastering of a series collection (we’ve seen enough of those). Dragon Age may be Bioware’s next-biggest existing IP, but even so, Flynn is adamant that Mass Effect’s core experience, or gameplay “template,” will not be the same; in other words, it won’t be as closely linked as From Software titles (Dark Souls and Bloodborne) or Ubisoft’s heavy-hitters Assassin’s Creed & Watch Dogs.
Below, we examine Flynn’s insight and discuss some of the ways Bioware can take its IP and construct a stronger core gameplay offering. This article does not explore storyline continuity or love interests among quarians and volus, as much as I’d love to get into that, so prepare yourself for some Mass Effect meat & potatoes.
We've never covered a game more extensively than we did Titanfall; it was the first game featured in our individualized video card benchmarks, we wrote crash fix guides to mitigate rampant bugs in beta, and produced a Last Titan Standing strategy guide for fans of the mode. The game has long been a bit of a shortcoming in my eyes, though; it wants desperately to be a twitch shooter, and yet so many things are wrong -- like the weaponset (should be more explosive, like in Unreal Tournament) and lack of a server browser. Once again, PC gamers have been handed a console interface and been told to toddle off and have fun.
After its 15-year run enabling multiplayer gaming online, GameSpy announced in April that it would be shutting down its servers for good. We've followed the story through now, noting that 2K Games would continue supporting Civilization and Borderlands with patches; Rockstar, Volition, and Bohemia followed with their own announcement of discontinued and supported games. EA has now voiced its thoughts on the matter, and things are a bit less promising.
EA Games stated that fewer than 1% of its total peak online players actively play legacy titles, and as such, they will invest no effort in revamping the online back-end. The Battlefield series, C&C series, and Crysis games will be deprecated without official support.
There's been a lot of discussion about Titanfall's performance lately. Our most recent Titanfall GPU performance benchmark showed that the game still exhibits serious issues on certain devices; nVidia cards showed severe stuttering, SLI has micro-stuttering and works better disabled, and the game is simply needlessly large. All these taken into account, the performance issues feel almost unjustified for the visuals -- the game looks fine, sure, but it's not melt-your-GPU level of graphics and certainly isn't spectacular to look at. It's another Source Engine game with adequate graphics. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing, so please don't get me wrong -- just that the performance isn't perfectly-tuned, at least, not yet. More drivers and patches will smooth that out.
I don't want to come off as too harsh, though. The mechanics are enjoyable for certain types of players and the game overall seems 'good,' it's just experiencing some (now-standard) launch issues with PC optimization. All is survivable, though.
Titanfall's official launch brings us back to the topic of video card performance in the Source Engine-based game. When we originally benchmarked how various video cards performed in Titanfall, we clearly noted that the pre-release state of the game and lack of official driver support likely contributed to SLI microstuttering, CrossFire catastrophic failure, and overall odd performance. We're now back with a full report using the latest beta drivers (with Titanfall profiles and support) and the full version of the game.
In this Titanfall PC video card benchmark, we look at the FPS of the GTX 760, GTX 650 Ti Boost, GTX 750, R9 270X, R7 260X, 7850, the A10-5800K 7660D APU, and Intel's HD4000. I threw a GTX 580 in there for fun. Our thanks to MSI for providing the 750, 260X, and 270X for these tests.
If you're trying to play Titanfall a bit before everyone else, using a virtual private network to connect through Korean servers will land you in the game about 13 hours before anyone in the