Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass

Four years after the original announcement of the game, the developers of Civilization VI have announced new content for the game, coming on a monthly basis for the next year.

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Microsoft announces next-gen console

MIcrosoft’s next console, previously known as Project Scarlett, has been given a name: Xbox Series X. The new console has a tall, PC-like tower design, and looks to be fairly small. In an image of the console with a controller leaning against it, it appears to have a square top about controller-sized, and is a few controllers tall. While no launch date has been officially announced, we do know it will be coming out holiday 2020, so we can expect it within a year.

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Gamers Outraged Over Pricy Microtransaction Scheme /s

For years, gamers have dealt with microtransactions in their favorite games – from MMOs to mobile, and more recently in triple-A titles, we’ve seen additional in-game content made to generate long term profit. Some studios and publishers have made sure not to break the first rule of selling content and have limited their offerings to cosmetics and rewards that don’t grant power to players. As such, this is normally not an issue since these purchases are entirely optional and don’t provide advantages in online play, or roadblocks to story progression.

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Outrage over Call of Duty Killstreak /s

Outrage exploded on twitter recently after a series of announcements and leaks about a new killstreak in the popular upcoming revival of Activision title Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, developed by Infinity Ward. The title has already been the target of some criticism over their choice to include some graphic depictions of powerful moral dilemmas during wartime activities, but things have escalated. While many are split on the choices for their single-player content, the real outrage is coming from their killstreak reward system in the multiplayer portion of gameplay.

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Destiny 2 gets cross-save, goes free-to-play

Earlier this year, Destiny developer Bungie became a fully independent company, self-publishing its own titles. One of the biggest way they’re doing this is by trying to move Destiny 2 down a more MMO/RPG path. This is a connotation they’ve shied away from in before now, preferring to call the series ‘action’ games. In turning the game into an MMO, or ‘action MMO’ as they’re now referring to it, they’re making some pretty major changes to the game.

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Imperator: Rome launches in April

Imperator: Rome, the latest game from grand strategy producers Paradox Interactive, was recently announced as launching on April 25th of this year. A sequel to 2008’s Europa Universalis: Rome, Imperator will pull us back earlier than the other historical strategy games from Paradox, to, you guessed it, the time of Rome’s rise to power. Continue reading “Imperator: Rome launches in April”

MTG Arena – Now in Open Beta

MTG Arena is Wizards of the Coast’s most recent digital adaptation of their popular collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering. Arena aims to replace many of their previous forays into the world of digital gaming while maintaining the core tabletop experience and it takes great strides in doing so.  Having been in closed beta for some time to balance and test the various features Wizards has wiped all of the accounts and thrown the gates wide open with the beginning of the MTG Arena Open Beta.

Fans of the table top version and the previous Magic: Duels titles will enjoy MTG Arena as it has a similar feel and flow of play, but with a more polished finish and fully automated mechanics. Though the standard format is primarily being supported we have seen some unique game types, from pauper to singleton, slide into the closed beta that show promise for the future of the title. Coupled with the DCI support and physical code redemption we can also expect the ability to turn some of our physical table top play time into something valuable for our Arena play as well, which is huge for the longevity of the game.

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Familiar game mechanics in action.

Despite the hype, some push back has been felt from the Magic the Gathering online community as Arena will not support player to player card trading or selling which was a major aspect of its direct predecessor MTGO. An online exchange and marketplace had formed around this feature but without it the once notorious trading card game becomes solely a collectable card game. This decision has its pros and cons, but the general rumblings of dissatisfaction seem to be slowly fading and conceding to all of the things that Arena seems to be able to bring to the table.

As a free-to-play title Arena hosts an economy of both earned in game coins and purchased gems that can currently be spent on six card booster packs to increase your collection or structured tournament entry fees to play against other players for potential prizes. However, players can invest little or no money to progress with an fair in game reward structure for meeting various goals to earn packs, new decks, and coins to spend. As of this writing the balancing of the currency doesn’t seem to overly favor either earned or purchased. Though, with promises of additional cosmetic s and options becoming available we don’t yet know what will become of the market.

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Starter decks unlocked as part of the tutorial quests.

Overall, the direction and focus Wizards has taken with MTG Arena shows great promise for long time fans and newcomers alike. With tournaments, challenges, regularly scheduled events, and integrated support with their table top giant Arena has some great potential to be the digital CCG we all have wanted for quite a long time. I have played the closed beta for a few months and it really holds true to the table top experience as designed. It comes with all of the fun of deck building, even my janky builds, and the glory of playing. I’ve had almost as much fun playing MTG Arena as I have sitting in my local game store playing with friends; the biggest difference is that now I can do so without pants and still avoid all of the odd glances.  So, don’t just take my word for it – the open beta is live now – go give it a shot and see how much fun Magic: the Gathering can be!

Do eSports Belong on Mainstream Sports TV?

20 years ago, competitive gaming for many was trying to beat that one other high score on Space Invaders in your local arcade or tense Quake LAN parties with your mates. Today, competitive gaming is a booming industry valued at nearly $1bn by the end of this year, and set to nearly double that by 2021.

With the rise of technology and growth of video gaming as a whole, this statistic is no surprise. We’ve all watched as games went from coin-fed arcade cabinets to 100+ hour RPGs being played on a Nintendo Switch on a plane, but this has been a gradual and well-anticipated progression. What wasn’t anticipated by many, especially those less familiar with gaming, was the rise in broadcast eSports tournaments, capped off most recently with this weekend’s Overwatch League Grand Finals on prime-time ESPN. Continue reading “Do eSports Belong on Mainstream Sports TV?”