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Shadowrun Online lands physical distributor, adds February patch

Shadowrun Online’s future prospects as a sustainable title have gone up sharply now that the game has found a physical distributor. Cliffhanger Productions signed a deal with Nordic Games for the latter to produce and ship a boxed version of the game. As a bonus, this deal will allow the team time to create French and German versions for launch in addition to the current English edition.

In other Shadowrun news, the Early Access Update 8 patch has arrived with a truckload of improvements, starting with an actual character creation screen. The patch also contains a new real-time hub, improved grouping, gear selection, a clothing screen, better AI, more skills, additional enemies, and a variety of other tweaks. You can check out the patch trailer after the break!

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Guild Wars 2 rethinks the defiance system for Heart of Thorns

Just when you thought it was safe to enter an expansion jungle, think again. The Guild Wars 2 dev team is hard at work making Heart of Thorns as intimidating to the veteran adventurer as possible, and one of its tools is the fearsome wyvern.

The devs used the champion creature as an example of how the expansion’s improved defiance mechanic will work. The new system will show an additional bar under the boss’ health bar that represents its defiance (i.e., anti-crowd control protection). The more CC used on the creature, the more the bar degrades until the creature can be affected by such skills. However, the bar is always regenerating, so player groups will need to hit it fast and frequently to make a difference.

The new system can be used for interesting encounter, such as the wyvern. Players will attempt to stop the creature from taking off by depleting its defiance bar, and if they are successful, they will get a few seconds of free attack time. It may be worth it to let the creature attack you at least a few times, if only to see the wyvern’s “believable” fire effects.

[Source: Guild Wars 2]

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Skyforge announces closed beta start and sells Founder’s Packs

Skyforge wannabe deities, you may want to clear your calendar for early next month because closed beta is coming! The team announced today that the first closed beta test will commence on March 11th with lots of new content, the ability to play never-before-tested classes, and a look at the Orders of Aelion system.

While you can take a chance on getting a spot in the beta via sign-up, you can lock in your place by purchasing one of Skyforge’s new Founder’s Packs. The packs, which range from $20 to $70, include a spot in closed beta tests, early access to the open beta, currency, name reservations, and more.

Thinking about playing or paying for Skyforge? Check out the beta trailer after the jump!

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Shroud of the Avatar upgrades to Unity 5 for Release 15

Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 15 begins today. In fact, it begins this morning at 11:30 a.m. EST. The new build features Unity 5, the latest version of the engine that Portalarium says provides it “with both improved performance opportunities and graphical upgrades” that will “dramatically improve the visual presentation of SotA.”

The conversion is such a big deal that it required the devs to redo nearly every graphical asset in the game. As such, you should expect a “particularly large” patch for R15. The patch announcement post contains a full list of deliverables including new mainland scenes, new sun and moon magic skills, new crafting skills, and more.

[Source: Release 15 instructions]

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Guild Wars 2 will implement first-person POV in March

File this one under things we didn’t see coming: ArenaNet has just announced that it will fulfill a long-running fan request by adding a first-person point-of-view to Guild Wars 2. The new feature goes live on March 10th and will be accompanied by a field-of-view slider, over-the-shoulder vs. vertical position sliders, camera snap collision sensitivity, and camera tracking by character height.

First-person Camera: Zooming in all the way will allow players to experience a first-person view. First-person mode is available while standing in place, walking, running, jumping, playing PvP and just about anything else. There aren’t any restrictions on where first-person can be used.

Field of View: A much requested feature, the field of view slider is a setting that will allow players to adjust how much can be seen in the game world. Players can use a slider to shrink or enlarge the field of view.

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Final Fantasy XIV has over 4 million registered accounts

“Fledgling adventurers continue to arrive in Eorzea in droves,” says Square, “and we are pleased to announce that the realm is now home to four million registered accounts.” According to Square, that number represents global registered accounts and does not include trial accounts.

To celebrate, Final Fantasy XIV is hosting a free login campaign that starts Friday, February 27th, at 3:00 a.m. EST and runs through Monday, March 9th, at 4:00 a.m. EST. You’ll need to have previously purchased and registered your copy of A Realm Reborn and have an inactive account to be eligible. Alternatively there’s a 14-day Steam demo.

The four million figure represents a healthy increase from the 2.5 million reported by Square in December, 2014.

[Source: Lodestone; thanks Kev and Wratts!]

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War Thunder’s ‘Big Guns’ patch adds IL-2, B-29, and more

Gaijin announced a “major update” for War Thunder this week. The 1.47 Big Guns patch adds the game’s largest tank (the Pz.Kpfw.VIII Maus) and the game’s largest aircraft (the B-29 Superfortress). It also includes an early version of the IL-2 Sturmovik featuring 30 individually modeled parts, which makes for “the most detailed and accurate IL-2 ever recreated in a flight simulator.”

Gaijin says that future War Thunder aircraft will follow the standard set by the new IL-2.

Finally, Big Guns adds 14 new combat vehicles, the Steel Generals ground forces tree, more realistic environmental details and interaction for tank battles, and open cockpits and contrails for most of the game’s aircraft. You can get a glimpse of the patch via the video after the break.

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SMITE adds the warrior Bellona to the fray

SMITE has taken another giant step forward as the MOBA has introduced its first true female warrior to the champion pantheon.

Bellona is a take-no-prisoners fighter who wields several different giant weapons (including sword and hammer) depending on the attack. The more Bellona hits or gets hit, the faster she moves and the more protected she becomes, making her an agile tank.

The recent patch also added new champion skins, emotes, voice packs, and a new god rotation. You can watch the patch overview video after the jump.

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Spacetime making ‘bite-sized’ MOBA Call of Champions

Does the world need another MOBA? We’re going to find out, as Spacetime Studios is the latest game developer to hop on the bandwagon. The mobile studio responsible for MMOlikes Arcane Legends and Pocket Legends, has announced Call of Champions, a 3-on-3 MOBA with five-minute game sessions.

Touch Arcade reports that Call of Champions is attempting to pare down MOBA mechanics into “bite-size” portions minus minions, jungles, and cash shops. Click past the cut for a teaser trailer.

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BioWare prepping SWTOR ‘Operation Victory’ tourney

BioWare has partnered with e-sports company ESL Gaming to host a competition dubbed Operation Victory. It involves speed-running eight-player story mode operations from Star Wars: The Old Republic’s recent Shadow of Revan expansion, and qualifying heats start next Tuesday, March 3rd.

Prizes include cash, in-game items, and a trip to the Star Wars: Celebration convention. BioWare says that further contest info is forthcoming.

[Source: SWTOR forums]

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City of Titans shows old test environment before scrapping it

New games don’t spring into being overnight; they take lots of work and incremental steps to a finished product. That goes double for a small indie team, which is why it’s perfectly OK to get excited over seeing City of Titans’ test environment, even in a primitive state.

City of Titans’ art team posted a new dev diary last week, showing off the old test environment before it got shut down to make way for the new one. The team is particularly excited to display details from trash on the ground to the reflections in puddles and on shiny surfaces.

“Everything we, and hopefully you, make, can be color changeable, even the materials and textures, so be prepared for a brave new world of customization options,” the devs teased. The post stresses that these pictures aren’t the game proper but a “tribute” to what will come.

[Source: Official site. Thanks to Byron for the tip!]

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Champions Online is fiddling with costume prices

Champions Online is still alive! How do we know? It’s fiddling with its cash shop prices come March 5th. A forum post explains the situation:

Starting on 3/5, we’re going to be re-aligning the prices of costume sets in the C-Store. Some will have their prices reduced, while others will be increased. Our goal with this is to match the dev work with the final price. Over the past five and a half years, our costume designers have raised the bar for costume set quality, and better costume sets take more work for us to produce. If you look at the detail and polish in their latest sets, it’s clear we’ve come a long way. These pricing changes allow us to keep spending more time and effort to make items that good.

Creating tiered prices also gives us more flexibility to make some sets more available to new players. A number of sets will have their prices cut down to 375 ZEN, so a new player who’s looking for something to try out will find the C-Store friendlier.

Older sets, like the Swamp King set, will see their prices go down, whereas “hyper-exclusive” sets like the Power Armor Bundle will be 1000 ZEN.

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League of Legends adds Bard, the Wandering Caretaker

Do you like roaming around and picking up random junk on the ground? Then you might be the perfect player type to handle League of Legends’ newest champion, Bard, who gains “meep” pets by snagging chimes hidden around the playing field.

According to his reveal, “Bard is League’s first support to gain advantages solely from moving around Summoner’s Rift. By constantly collecting his unique chimes, he covers plenty of ground at all stages of a game, and offers his team both solid sustain with his health packs and unrivalled team mobility with his long range portals.”

In addition to introducing Bard, LoL has updated to Patch 5.4, which includes a semi-locked camera option, a DJ Sona skin, and a bunch of mage love. Speaking of DJ Sona, you can catch a quick concert of hers after the break!

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