Game of the Month – October 2015

We’re another month into the fall season of 2015, and the barrage of good games hasn’t slowed down. October housed a diverse array of stellar titles, from hand-drawn Norse adventures to unforgiving platformers.

It was also a great month for expansions. CD Projekt Red released the first major addition to its masterful RPG The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, giving us a variety of new quests to tackle in Hearts of Stone. Meanwhile, Firaxis Games completely reimagined several facets of its sci-fi strategy game with Civilization: Beyond Earth –– Rising Tide. In this expansion, you establish floating cities that can move, substantially changing the way you can play.

Downwell, on the other hand, exemplified focused design. There are only three buttons and one clear objective: get to the bottom of a randomly generated vertical drop. Despite its simplicity, we sank hours into this difficult scroller, acquiring new abilities and besting our old scores. Then there’s Jotun, a game with influences ranging from Shadow of the Colossus to Dark Souls, but its hand-sketched world makes ample use of Norse mythology, and its fantastic boss battles set it apart.

Later in October, Telltale Games completed the narrative arc of Tales from the Borderlands. Although the series’ episodes ranged from fantastic to just fine, the finale brought everything full circle, wrapping up characters’ journeys in satisfying ways, and making us care about a ragged group of misfits.

Speaking of misfits, the new Assassin’s Creed Syndicate centers on not one, but two assassins in the alleys of London during the Industrial Revolution. With a believable open world, a plethora of side missions to pursue, and two of our favorite protagonists in the perennial series, Syndicate more than made up for the lackluster Assassin’s Creed Unity. Jacob and Evie may be the newest in a long line of leading assassins, but their endearing relationship and dynamic personalities make for some of the better characters in the longrunning series.

But when all is said and done, it was Halo 5: Guardians that captivated us as October came to a close. 343 has fine-tuned player movement and level design with its newest entry, making Spartan abilities fluid and dynamic. The cooperative campaign is also compelling, with eight total super soldiers to choose from.

As for the multiplayer–this is Halo near its peak. Maps are balanced, and differing elevations make battles as vertical as they are expansive. Halo 5 also ditches the Call of Duty-inspired loadout system of Halo 4, opting instead to return to the classic Halo formula, weapon pickups and all.

But it’s the new Warzone multiplayer mode that truly sets Guardians apart. Drawing clear inspiration from MOBAs, Warzone pits two teams against each other on massive battlefields and a variety of mini-bosses to change up the player-vs.-player skirmishes. With each team racing to 1000 points and the new requisition system fueling weapon and vehicle possibilities, Warzone is the mode that kept us playing despite a slew of excellent fall releases. It not only makes Halo 5 worth returning to often, but clears a promising path for innovation in the shooter genre.

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Author: Mike Mahardy

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Star Wars Battlefront Pre-Load Mini-Game Lets You Play as Darth Vader and Kill Rebel Scum

As it turns out, you don’t have to wait for Star Wars Battlefront to fully install before you can start playing. Now that the sci-fi shooter is available on Xbox One through EA Access, it’s been discovered that you can play a special Darth Vader-themed mini-game after just a portion of the game (below 20%) has installed.

In the mini-game, you play as the evil Sith Lord and have only one job: kill all the Rebel scum. The mission is set inside of a Rebel hangar on Tatooine. Waves of Rebel enemies come from every direction and you can use various Vader’s various abilities (Force choke, lightsaber-throw, heavy attack, etc) to hold them back. A small team of Imperial soldiers are at your side to help out as needed.

A Rebel kill count is shown at the top of the screen, but, at least in my experience, it stops tracking how many kills (called “Defeats” in Battlefront) after 99. Poor, poor Rebels. The mini-game is effectively a tutorial for Vader and his moves, which you’ll want to get a hold of before jumping into the full game.

Eurogamer captured some footage of this Battlefront mini-game, which you can see here.

Battlefront launches on November 17 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Xbox One owners with an EA Access membership, however, can start playing right now. In other news, DICE has released a patch for the game that tweaks spawn times and vehicle behavior, among other things.

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Author: Eddie Makuch

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Airbnb makes it easier to turn your home into a hotel

Airbnb is making it easier for hosts to rent out their homes and target business travelers with a new suite of tools announced today. With the new features, users can have their homes certified as “business travel ready,” and can automatically adjust nightly prices according to demand in their area. Airbnb has also struck partnerships with a group of smart lock companies to allow hosts and guests to more easily exchange keys.

The company unveiled the features Thursday at the Airbnb Open in Paris, where VP of product Joe Zadeh described them as a way to personalize and streamline the hosting process. “Our mission on our product development team is to make it incredibly easy to be a successful host,” Zadeh said.

Corporate travelers have…

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Author: Amar Toor

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Star Wars Battlefront Update Tweaks Spawn Timers, Vehicle Behaviour Ahead of Release

EA has released an update for Star Wars Battlefront in time for the shooter becoming available to EA Access subscribers.

The new update bring the total size of Star Wars Battlefront on the PS4 to 20.88 GB. The patch notes, which were posted online by Reddit user TeRmRan19, reveal the extent of the changes. Take a look below to see them.

Version 1.01 Changes

  • Tweaked hero card spawn timers
  • General bug fixes for the partner system
  • Various fixes for getting stuck when existing Starfighters and ground vehicles
  • General crash and stability fixes
  • Online traffic performance improvements
  • Various text fixes for all languages
  • General bug fixes for both Missions and Multiplayer

Battlefront launches on November 17 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Some Xbox One owners, however, can play the game for a total of 10 hours now if they have an EA Access membership. If you have a subscription, you can start your download from the Xbox Games Store.

In addition to early access for upcoming games, EA Access members have a growing library of free games to play on demand. They can also save 10 percent on all EA digital content. EA Access memberships are available for $5/month or $30/year.

EA recently raised its initial shipment projections for the game from 9-10 million to 13 million. It has said it is aiming to appeal to fans of the shooter genre, as well as lapsed gamers and younger players.

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Author: Tamoor Hussain

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