Mirror’s Edge Catalyst System Requirements Revealed

Mirror’s Edge is one of the most inventive games in recent memory due to the enthralling first person perspective and intense parkour mechanics. Furthermore, you feel a sense of being vulnerable and have to rely on your evasion skills instead of traditional weaponry. Personally, I absolutely adore the Mirror’s Edge formula and cannot wait for its sequel, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst which is currently scheduled for release on May 24th in the US. EA has just released the minimum PC requirements prior to the game’s release:

MINIMUM:

  • OS: Windows® 7 64-Bit (use the latest Service Pack)
  • CPU: Intel i3-3250 / AMD FX-6350. (Note: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst requires at least 4 logical cores to run.)
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • HARD DRIVE: At least 25 GB of free space
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 650 Ti 2GB or better / AMD Radeon R9 270x or better
  • INPUT: Keyboard and mouse, dual analogue controller

RECOMMENDED:

  • OS: Windows® 10 64-Bit (use the latest Service Pack)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 at 3.4 GHz / AMD FX-8350 at 4.0 GHz
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • HARD DRIVE: At least 25 GB of free space
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970 4GB or better / AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB or better
  • INPUT: Keyboard and mouse, dual analogue controller

Most PC gamers with a relatively modern system should be able to play the game without any complications. However, quoted specifications rarely give an insight into a game’s optimization and there’s no information regarding the resolution used. On the other hand, 16GB of RAM is a large amount considering a large number of people are still using 8GB. As always, we will have a performance analysis report which outlines the frame-rate across various graphics cards.

Are you looking forward to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst?

EA Copyright Claim Removes Donald Trump Mass Effect Video

Donald Trump is a rather controversial figure who was originally dismissed during the first stage of his Republican nomination campaign. Rather swiftly, Trump began to attract a vociferous following and shocked political commentators with his dramatic rise in popularity. Throughout the course of Trump’s success, he’s made various remarks which would end other politicians career. Despite this, whenever he says anything controversial, it seems his popularity rises by a significant amount. Of course, Trump is often the subject of many parodies, memes and other fan content on YouTube.

Recently, Donald Trump tweeted a fan-made video entitled, ‘The Trump Effect’. This includes music and Martin Sheen’s voice-over from Mass Effect 2. According to Game Informer, various Bioware employees were appalled by the notion of their work being an integral component of Trump’s current political strategy. The publisher, EA, reacted by launching a YouTube copyright claim and flagging the video for breach of their intellectual property.  EA released a statement regarding these events which reads:

“The video was an unauthorized use of our IP,”

“We do not support our assets being used in political campaigns.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXWU2EbBoQk

As always, this hasn’t really altered anything and the video is still available through other YouTube channels. Surely, this move has bolstered Donald Trump’s publicity and giving him additional headlines. Personally, I haven’t got a problem with spoof videos, or users making their own unique content. However, copyright holders will take down any content which they feel uses their intellectual property. It’s a fascinating situation because I’m wondering if any other video using their assets would have been taken down in a similar manner.

It’s probably down to views, and the amount of people accessing videos with copyrighted material. Whatever your opinion about Trump, I honestly think it’s important to have freedom of expression to mock, criticize and help media personalities. Starting to block content just because you dislike its message is a dangerous path to walk down.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Tech Demo Leaks

The Mass Effect: Andromeda hype machine is ramping up: following the most recent leak of an EA marketing survey (a repeat of an incident from last year), which teased details of the forthcoming BioWare RPG, a video of a tech demo from the game has emerged online, giving us a glimpse of the VFX engine, gameplay and HUD, and even jetpacks!

https://vid.me/p41b

The tech demo, which seems to date from 2014, shows off the game’s pollen plumes, ambient flame bursts and fog elements, rain impacts and engine VFX, meteorite impacts, and FumeFX diffusion. A quick look at the gameplay shows a character wearing – and using – a jetpack.

But is the video genuine? The look of the characters – which include a couple of Krogan and two N7 officers – seem legitimate, if dated, but that’s to be expected from a two-year-old tech demo. The HUD seen in the video seems to match the one previewed in a Tweet by the game’s former director Chris Wynn:

But the biggest indication that the video is genuine comes courtesy of EA (owners of BioWare) itself: the video first leaked on YouTube, but has now been taken down by due to a copyright claim. By who? By EA.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is expected for release during the first-quarter of 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game is expected to feature heavily at this year’s E3.

More Mass Effect: Andromeda Details Leaked?

New details regarding BioWare’s hotly-anticipated action RPG sequel Mass Effect: Andromeda may have leaked online. Screenshots of an EA marketing survey were posted to NeoGAF this week, which – while unverified – reveal that the forthcoming game deals with issues of colonialism, and casts humanity as the aliens in an unfamiliar and hostile galaxy.

The survey screenshots read:

“Below is a description for a possible future version of Mass Effect. Please read this and answer some questions on the following pages about this game.

There is a major battle brewing, and it awaits you. In is unfolding across a galaxy of planets, with creatures and species entirely unknown. Draw your weapon, because the fight is bigger than you thought. It’s not just for your own life, it’s for all of humanity – the ultimate battle for a place we can all call home.

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes players to the Andromeda galaxy, far beyond the Milky Way, where players will lead the fight for a new home in hostile territory – where WE are the aliens – opposed by a deadly indigenous race bent on stopping us.

Experience the freedom to traverse and explore a planet-dense but seamless open-world galaxy, rich with discovery. Play as the leader of a squad of military-trained explorers in an intense third-person shooter, with deep progression and customization systems.

This is the story of humanity’s next chapter, and player choices throughout the game will ultimately determine our survival in the Andromeda Galaxy.”

We’ve been here before, of course: at the turn of 2015, a similar survey leak occurred, which revealed that the game’s protagonist would be known as The Pathfinder, and would lead humanity into a previously unexplored area of space. With momentum building behind the game, can we expect BioWare to formally unveil Mass Effect: Andromeda at E3 this Summer?

EA Origin Dropping Pre-Windows 7 Support

As many users undoubtedly learned the hard way with Windows XP, software support doesn’t last forever. This is doubly true of regular software which can often just drop support without much warning and stop working. Luckily, this is not the case with EA, which has announced plans to drop support for Origin on systems that are using any OS prior to Windows 7, mainly Windows XP and Vista.

Improved the way Origin handles outdated operating systems, and reduced support for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

As part of the transition, EA is already dropping some features when they are updating Origin. After August though, Origin users on Windows XP and Vista will no longer be able to download/install games, not utilize the shop. Luckily, installed games and updates will continue to work, meaning those of you planning to stay on an older OS can pre-download any games you want to keep playing on the old system.The biggest problem will be with older games that aren’t quite compatible with newer operating systems.

This whole issue begs the question as to why EA is dropping support for XP and Vista. Afterall, the whole point of Windows is to run older software and Vista is pretty much the same as 7. Perhaps, EA wants to move Origin to newer development models which XP and Vista don’t support. With the two operating systems having less than 3% marketshare according to Steam, similar to the numbers for OSX, EA probably won’t be losing much sleep over any lost customers. With the numbers Windows 7 has, there is still plenty of breathing room for those of you on that OS, so rest easy for now.

AMD Announces DX12 Game Engine Partnerships

One of the biggest changes DX12 brings to the table is the increased reliance on developers to properly optimize their code for GPUs. Unlike DX11, there will have fewer levers to tweak in the GPU driver, with more work being needed in the game engine and the game itself. To address this, AMD has announced a partnership with multiple game engine and game developers to implement DX12.

To kick start the effort, AMD is headlining 5 games and engines they are partnering with to ensure DX12 works smoothly with Radeon GPUs with the software. These are Ashes of the Singularity by Stardock and Oxide Games, Total War: WARHAMMER by Creative Assembly, Battlezone VR by Rebellion, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided by Eidos-Montréal and the Nitrous Engine by Oxide Games. These titles span a wide range from RTS to RPG and FPS which gives a sense that AMD is trying to cast as wide a net as possible.

In addition to this, AMD will also be working with EA and Dice to get the Frostbite 3 engine to enable DX12. This engine is of particular importance due to the many AAA EA and other titles using it. AMD is also hoping to push Asynchronous Compute and to make sure games will squeeze the most out of GCN using DX12.

EA Believes The Mainstream VR Market is ‘a Few Years Off’

Virtual Reality is often perceived as the future of home entertainment and has the potential to offer unique experiences with a whole new level of immersion. However, VR devices have a very high barrier to entry and out of the reach of most people’s budget. This is a shame because there’s a lot of publicity surrounding VR and its future place within the gaming industry. As you might expect, VR technology is still fairly niche and it doesn’t make sense for publishers to fund huge VR projects. This is because they will not receive a return on their investment and alienate the majority of their user-base. EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen, predicted during a presentation at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that mainstream VR could be be some time off:

“We are very prepared for being able to build VR games. We have made an investment over the last five years to move to a single engine that we built all our games on”

“We are experimenting with a couple of a different players today that are VR players and we are making some small [experimental] titles rather than full blown games. The fundamental issue is that we need to create a large market in VR before we invest 50 to 100 million dollars in a big title. And when I say a large market, today there are 80 or 60 million new gen consoles, Xbox and PlayStation, sitting on the top of 150 million older generation consoles so that is a larger market. ”

“VR will be great and there are going to be a lot of applications for that including gaming. But I think it will be a few years off before we have a substantial VR market. We are prepared about it, we are excited about it, we can see some experiments coming out from our studio in the years to come that will help people understand the power [of VR].”

I think this is an optimistic viewpoint because VR technology requires a lot of graphical horsepower, and the devices themselves will probably remain expensive for some time. Eventually, prices will fall and this should encourage people to take a risk and give VR a try!

EA Withdraws Ghost Trademark After Dispute With Ubisoft

Ghost Games, formally known as EA Gothenburg, is a video game developer based in Sweden and Romania. The studio is composed of 80 percent of the employees from iconic British company Criterion Games and produces the latest entries in the Need for Speed franchise. EA filed two trademarks for the term ‘Ghost’ (US Serial No. 86/568,852 and 86/568,854) upon its initial formation. However, Ubisoft wasn’t pleased by this move, and decided to launch a complaint in September last year. Only now, the lawsuit has come into effect, and Ubisoft claims the term ‘Ghost’ will be damaging to their business. The company provided a long list of reasons why they object to EA’s Ghost trademarks which reads:

“NOTICE OF OPPOSITION

Ubisoft Entertainment, a French corporation having a principal place of business at 107
Avenue Henri Freville, Rennes, France, and Ubisoft, Inc. (“Ubisoft”), a California corporation
having a principal place of business at 625 Third Street, San Francisco, California 94107, believe
they will be damaged by registration of the mark shown in Application Serial Nos. 86/568,852
and 86/568,854 (the “Applications”) and hereby oppose the same pursuant to the provisions of
15 U.S.C. § 1063. Ubisoft Entertainment and Ubisoft are collectively referred to as “Opposers.”

The grounds for opposition are as follows:

1. Opposer Ubisoft Entertainment is the parent company of Ubisoft. Therefore,
privity exists between Opposers. Both Ubisoft Entertainment and Ubisoft are video game
developers and publishers and also sell various products and services related to their video games
and entertainment services.

2. Since at least as early as 2001, Ubisoft has used the trademark GHOST RECON
in connection with video games and entertainment services in the nature of online video and
computer games. In addition to its longstanding common law trademark rights, Ubisoft owns
several incontestable federal registrations for marks comprising or containing the distinctive
GHOST RECON trademark, including the following trademarks:

[Several Ghost Recon trademarks listed in the filing omitted from here, check the link]

3. Ubisoft Entertainment also owns several federal registrations for marks
comprising or containing the distinctive GHOST RECON trademark, including the following
trademarks:

[Several Ghost Recon trademarks listed in the filing omitted from here, check the link]

Collectively, the marks that set forth in Paragraphs 2 and 3 are referred to as the GHOST
RECON marks.

4. Notwithstanding Ubisoft Entertainment’s and Ubisoft’s prior rights in the
GHOST RECON mark, on March 18, 2015, applicant Electronic Arts Inc. (“Applicant”) filed
two intent-to-use applications seeking to register the mark GHOST (“Applicant’s Mark”): one
was filed in connection with “Computer game software; Downloadable computer game software
via a global computer network and wireless devices; Video game software” in International
Class 9, which was designated 86/568,854, and the other one was filed in connection with
“Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game; Provision of information
relating to electronic computer games provided via the Internet” in International Class 41, which
was designated 86/568,852.

5. The Applications were published for opposition on August 4, 2015. Ubisoft
sought, and was granted, two extensions of time to oppose the Applications: one on September 2,
2015 and one on November 30, 2015. As a result, Opposers have until January 31, 2016 to
oppose the Application. Therefore, this Notice of Opposition is timely filed.

6. Opposers began using its GHOST RECON marks in connection with video games
and entertainment services long before Applicant filed the Applications on March 18, 2015 and
long before Applicant’s November 19, 2013 claimed date of first use.

7. Opposers’ common law and statutory priority dates precede the filing date of the
Application and, upon information and belief, any priority date upon which Applicant may rely.

8. Opposers have priority over Applicant.

9. Prior to filing the Applications, Applicant had constructive knowledge of
Opposers’ GHOST RECON marks given Opposers’ federal registrations set forth above.

10. The goods and services identified in the Applications, namely “Computer game
software; Downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless
devices; Video game software” and “Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line
computer game; Provision of information relating to electronic computer games provided via the
Internet” are identical and highly related to the goods and services offered by Opposers in
connection with the GHOST RECON marks.

11. Upon information and belief, Applicant intends to market the goods and services
identified in the Applications to the same consumers who purchase the goods and services
offered by the Opposers under the GHOST RECON marks.

12. Applicant’s proposed mark GHOST mark is nearly identical to the GHOST
RECON marks used and owned by Opposers.

13. Applicant’s Mark so resembles Opposers’ GHOST RECON marks alleged herein
as to be likely, when used in connection with the goods and services identified in the
Applications, to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive. Consumers are likely to
believe, mistakenly, that the goods and services Applicant offers under Applicant’s Mark are
provided, sponsored, endorsed, or approved by Opposers, or are in some way affiliated,
connected, or associated with Opposers, all to the detriment of Opposers. Registration of
Applicant’s Mark, therefore, should be refused under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1052(d) and 1063.

14. Registration of Applicant’s Mark would be a further source of damage to
Opposers, as it would confer upon Applicant various statutory presumptions to which it is not
entitled in view of Opposers’ long prior use of the GHOST RECON marks.”

In response to this opposition and the threat of legal action, EA has withdrawn their initial application. Here we can see the documentation which outlines the course of events:

This is an absurd situation and the dispute revolves around Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon brand, which they believe would be negatively impacted by EA’s trademarks. Clearly, Ubisoft isn’t doing themselves any favours, especially when the company could be taken over by Vivendi. EA should have the right to trademark a studio they created without dealing with frivolous lawsuits. Perhaps, publishers should work on creating enriching experiences instead of being embroiled in stupid legal action.

Image courtesy of Collider.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Story Trailer Released

Mirror’s Edge is one of the most inventive games in recent memory and adopts an intense first-person perspective. Instead of relying on traditional shooting mechanics, the game evokes such a tense feeling due to the lack of weaponry. In Mirror’s Edge, you have to use your flexible parkour skills to evade enemies, and ascend various buildings. This results in an unbelievably unique experience and I’d love to revisit Mirror’s Edge with some kind of VR support. Although, I doubt this is for everyone and could easily cause some motion sickness. After a considerable amount of time, the game is finally receiving a sequel entitled, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. To mark the sequel’s upcoming release on May 24th, EA has released a trailer showing the story and character interactions. The YouTube description reads:

“Faith Connors is a self-assured thrill-seeker and one of the best Runners in the city of Glass. But Faith’s carefree days are numbered. As she crosses paths with the evil Gabriel Kruger and the city’s oppressive Conglomerate, Faith finds herself running for something far more important.”

Also, the in-engine footage looks absolutely astonishing and I hope the final version isn’t downscaled in any way! Additionally, Faith is such a fantastic leading protagonist features superb voice acting. It’s great to see EA stick to the classic Mirror’s Edge formula which works so well, and hopefully the sequel lives up to people’s very high expectations. Honestly, I’m not overly keen on some of the other character voices, but this shouldn’t impact on the overall experience too much. Questions still remain though if the in-engine footage will represent the final gameplay especially on the current consoles. PC users should expect a good version given DICE’s reputation, although recent releases like Battlefield 4 were completely broken.  There’s very few EA franchises which make me excited, but Mirror’s Edge is certainly one of them!

Need For Speed: Most Wanted is Now Free For a Limited Time

EA has a poor reputation among the gaming community due to the implementation of DLC, microtransactions, pre-order bonuses and other anti-consumer initiatives. Furthermore, their behaviour resulted in the demise of various franchises including Dead Space and Medal of Honor. This is a crying shame because the Dead Space series originally evoked such a tense, atmospheric feel and eventually went onto become a generic third-person action game. On another note, EA decided to make their games exclusive to the Origin digital distribution service and gamers could no longer use their favourite client, Steam. Consumers are quite vocal in their distaste for the Origin system and prefer to have a huge catalogue of games in one client.

Arguably, there’s some logic in EA’s decision because they didn’t want to accept Valve’s cut for selling games on the Steam service. Although, I do wonder if the company would still be making more money on Steam due to the significantly higher user base. Whatever the case, Origin isn’t a terrible system and includes a number of interesting features such as the Great Game Guarantee. This allows the end-user to acquire a refund incase the game doesn’t meet their expectations or run properly. Every so often, EA also launches a promotion entitled, ‘On The House’ which grants access to a major release for FREE! The latest game to be added to the promotion is Need For Speed: Most Wanted.

While it’s technically part of the Need For Speed series, the game really is a modernized version of Burnout Paradise. This isn’t surprising as it’s made by Criterion Games, one of the most iconic racing developers ever created. Need For Speed: Most Wanted isn’t the best game I’ve played but it’s certainly a lot of fun hurtling around corners and avoiding oncoming traffic. Please be aware the promotion can end quite abruptly as shown by the recent Jade Empire deal.

EA Confirms Battlefield 5 Release Window

Battlefield fans will be happy to know that EA has plans for the installment of the franchise. According to a statement given out by EA, the next Battlefield title from DICE will launch in time to be sold during the holiday season later this year. Following up Battlefield 5 will be Titanfall 2 from Respawn and Mass Effect: Andromeda from BioWare either in late 2016 or early 2017. In the interim, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and a number of EA Sports titles will fill in the year.

Unfortunately for those looking for a new Battlefield title set during either World War 2 or the Cold War, Battlefield 5 will once again be a modern shooter. This is the latest in a long line of titles since Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in 2010 which have focused on modern warfare. Honestly, the modern warfare setting has gotten a bit stale and repetitive so hopefully, the next installment will show a return to their roots.

The full EA statement follows:

“In Q1, we’ll begin with the creative and innovative Mirror’s Edge Catalyst from DICE launching in May. A great line-up of EA Sports titles are in development for next year, and we look forward to sharing more about these new experiences in the months ahead. An all-new Battlefield game from DICE will arrive in time for the holidays, we’re excited to have a new Titanfall experience coming from our friends at Respawn – and of course, Mass Effect Andromeda from the team at BioWare will launch later in the fiscal year.”

EA Claims “We’re on a Journey to Regain The Trust of PC Gamers”

EA’s reputation in the gaming community is appalling and often perceived as a development studio obsessed by profits at the expense of making compelling games. Furthermore, the disappointment surrounding Star Wars: Battlefront, eventual demise of Maxis and a host of other failures hasn’t helped matters. Similarly, the advent of pre-order bonuses, DLC, microtransactions and anti-consumer measures all appear to be introduced by EA at some point. While other developers have engaged in similar activities, EA popularized it which makes consumers very suspicious of anything they produce. Despite ruining Maxis, one of the most iconic PC studios ever devised, EA appears to be trying to regain the trust of the PC gaming audience.

According to industry website MCV, Origin’s senior marketing director, Peter O’Reilly proclaimed:

“We are on a journey to regain the trust of the PC gamer,”

“Over the last couple of years we have focused on ensuring a great play experience from launch and bringing players a better experience on Origin with programs like the Great Game Guarantee, On the House, and now Origin Access.”

“We’re excited about the progress we’ve made, but are always pushing ourselves to innovate on behalf of players.”

While many decisions from EA have been absolutely atrocious, I have to commend them for the Origin refund policy. Arguably, this encouraged Valve to offer a similar service on the Steam platform, although their decision might have been more to do with European legislation. EA Access is also an interesting initiative and could provide good value-for-money. However, the majority of consumers judge EA on the basis of game releases, microtransactions and other business decisions.

The Origin platform is still disliked, because it’s not Steam, and forces users to install two clients. Even if Origin was the best system out there, it still wouldn’t help EA because their core games prioritize profit over gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, publishers exist to make money, but that shouldn’t happen by looking at a short-term gain, and ruining a number of historic studios.

EA Will Not Have a Booth During E3 This Year

The E3 expo is home to a number of major press conferences by Ubisoft, EA, Sony, Microsoft and other key players in the video games industry. Typically, these studios showcase upcoming game releases via cinematic trailers or a real-time demo. The entire event is surrounded by an air of expectation as gamers eagerly await to see what’s in development. In recent years, the anticipation hasn’t been as noticeable but this always depends on the individual in question. One major change last year allowed 4000-5000 fans to enter the premises as invited guests. Previously, the event was restricted to accredited members of the press but the organizers have started to adopt a more accessible entry policy.

Rather surprisingly, EA decided to ditch plans to have a booth on the show floor and instead host an event entitled,  EA Play that will run from June 12th to June 14th at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Additionally, the company will also hold a one-day event on June 12th at The Mermaid Event Centre in London. Apparently, EA is still going to host an official press conference and unveil its latest games but this will be done at EA Play and not the traditional E3 spot. The event’s organizers confirmed EA will retain private business meetings during the expo. In a statement released to Kotaku, an EA representative said:

“We are taking our commitment to put our players first further this year by creating a play experience built around them,”

“Hosting our own event allows us to connect directly with our players and create a meaningful experience for them.”

This is an interesting revelation and somewhat surprising. On the other hand, EA’s press conferences in recent years have been quite dull and alienated the core gaming audience due to the focus on sports titles and fitness games. It seems more companies are beginning to shun E3 which might be an indication of its demise.

Image courtesy of TheZeroReview

DICE Confirms ‘Next Battlefield’ is Now in Development

One of EA’s most successful products is the Battlefield series which offers large maps, tactical gameplay and astounding sound effects. It’s often perceived as a more authentic military reproduction compared to Call of Duty and continues to attract a large following. Sadly, Battlefield 4 suffered from horrendous launch bugs on PC, and EA’s Battlefield Premium service incurs a hefty cost if you want to access the game’s full map package. Nevertheless, Battlefield 4 is still a visually stunning title with great gunplay.

The franchise was temporarily put on hold to give DICE to time to create Star Wars: Battlefront. Now that the game has been released, DICE can move onto their next project which according to Development Director, Dan Vaderlind is the next Battlefield:

It’s unclear if this refers to Battlefield 5, or a new Bad Company game. Whatever the case, it’s not surprising to see another Battlefield game being made and I hope it’s not as shallow as Star Wars: Battlefront. Honestly, Star Wars: Battlefront feels rushed and isn’t up to the usual standard I expect from DICE. Hopefully, the next Battlefield game can help restore their reputation and showcase their mastery in the first-person-shooter genre.

Do you think the Battlefield series has been spoilt by EA’s premium service?

Star Wars Battlefront Receives Balance Patch

Star Wars Battlefront is possibly one of the most shallow games I’ve ever experienced and suffers from a severe lack of content. While the game’s visuals are awe-inspiring, it’s difficult to look past the unbalanced multiplayer, poor map selection and terrible character customization. This results in one of the most disappointing titles this year and raises questions about EA’s ability to properly honor the Star Wars saga. On the other hand, EA has just released a patch including balance tweaks, enhanced optimization and improved physics. Hopefully, this helps to create a more enjoyable multiplayer experience but I’m not hopeful.

Here is the complete patch notes in full:

  • General bug fixes for vehicles and physics improvements

  • Game modes balancing tweaks

  • HUD UI adjustments

  • Audio optimizations

  • General crash and stability fixes

  • Online traffic performance improvements

  • Various text fixes for all languages

  • General bug fixes for both Missions and Multiplayer

  • Legacy Controls should now work as intended

There’s no need to manually apply the update as it will automatically install via EA’s Origin client. I’d love to hear feedback on this particular update and if it makes the game more playable. I personally find it a repetitive mess which doesn’t reward good players. Furthermore, EA’s pricing with the digital deluxe edition and season pass leaves a lot to be desired.

Star Wars Battlefront Bundles with R9 Fury

Prepare your wallets, the Force is coming! If you haven’t already heard, Winter 2015 is probably going to be re-branded as Star Wars Season. Not only are we getting Star Wars Episode VII (no more Jar Jar Binks), we are eagerly anticipating Star Wars Battlefront. If you don’t know what Battlefront is, just imagine all of the best Star Wars battles rolled into one game in a huge 40 player laser gun fight and the original score as your motivational music.

The beta was a huge success with hundreds of thousands of players getting in on the action. AMD wants a piece of that and has announced the brand new bundle of Battlefront with every purchase of an R9 Fury graphics cards.

The offer is available From November 17th 2015 to January 31st 2016 and the code can be redeemed up until February 29th 2016, yes I had to double-check that next year was in fact a leap year too.

If you’re not quite sure on an upgrade, why not check out our review of the Sapphire Tri-x R9 Fury, which can be purchased for £429.95 from OcUK or $499.99 from Newegg US. Those of you who have recently purchased an R9 Fury with this code can redeem it here!

Have you already tried Battlefront or own an R9 Fury graphics card? Why not tell us about your experiences down in the comments.

EA Doesn’t Want to “Nickel And Dime” Their Customers Via Microtransactions

EA has an atrocious reputation among the gaming community and often ridiculed for their obsession with DLC, microtransactions and pre-order exclusives. This viewpoint isn’t unwarranted when you take into account EA’s anti-consumer decision-making and treating the customer like a cash-cow. While other publishers implement similar strategies, EA is usually the main target of people’s hostility. Some critics have argued, EA’s blatant use of premium extra content will hurt their sales in the long-term.

During the UBS Global Technology Conference, EA’s Chief Financial Operator, Blake Jorgensen said:

“I do think there’s a bit of consumer fatigue around feeling like they’re getting nickle and dimed all the time. And a lot of mobile games don’t allow you to have fun unless you’ve paid for it,”

“So we’re looking at new models of ways to try to alleviate some of that fatigue that’s going on. Some of those might come in the form of subscription-style, but some of them might simply come in different ways to play games over time so you don’t feel like you’re always getting nickel and dimed.”

“It could a subscription, a subscription that has extra content as part of it, or a sole subscription, or it could be simply an upfront payment to a game that has extra content coming over time,”  

“What we want to do is give the consumer a great value for their money and keep them deeply engaged in something they love to do.”

“The fundamental way that we as an organization think about [microtransactions and subscriptions] is all around engagement,”

“How do we engage the consumer as long as possible? In the old days, people played Madden for a few months and then stopped playing. When the Super Bowl finished, they were completely gone. Today, with Ultimate Team, they engage for 12 months, all the way up until the time you start playing a new season.”

Jorgensen’s comments come across as a PR exercise trying to alleviate concerns about Star Wars Battlefront’s DLC model. Furthermore, he’s certainly correct about gamer fatigue and users becoming sick of paid content just after a game’s launch window. Despite this, EA is part of the problem and consistently releases digital deluxe editions at absurd prices. Additionally, they have to take responsibility for implementing microtransactions in $60 titles. I realistically cannot see EA’s reputation changing unless they end anti-consumer measures. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon, due to the profit margins from microtransactions.

Do you purchase season passes?

EA Grosses More Than Double From Extra Content Than Full Games

EA, Activision and Ubisoft have implemented a huge array of microtransactions into full priced game releases. Although the anger appears to be targeted towards EA due to the eye-watering price of various digital deluxe pre-order packages. One notable example is Star Wars: Battlefront which retails for £49.99 and already has a season pass to its name. Even more absurd, there is a listing which contains the DLC for an insulting £104.98; for those of you in the USA, this equates to $162.42.

Consumers are sick of major publishers pushing microtransactions and ridiculous pricing. However, the latest financial stats from EA illustrate the financial benefits of “Extra Content”. Rather worryingly, EA grossed more than double from additional content compared to digital games. Clearly, this doesn’t include retail sales but emphasizes how much money people are spending on DLC and microtransactions.

Microtransactions in full priced games have become the norm and the full experience rarely costs £49.99. This is a crying shame, as micro-payments were originally designed to be used on free-to-play titles. Major publishers are a business and they will keep implementing things which increase their profit margins. However, in the long-term, I’m unsure if this anti-consumer policy will come back to haunt them.

Have you ever paid for a microtransaction?

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Delayed to May 2016

Mirror’s Edge revolves around intense parkour gameplay which provides a tense, enthralling experience. Instead of relying on weaponry, you have to evade enemies and quickly scale buildings. The game rightfully received critical acclaim for being completely unique and it holds up remarkably well. After an agonizing wait, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was finally announced. Although there were some concerns about the parkour element being diluted to allow for more combat.

Today, an official statement has been released by Senior Producer, Sara Jansson about the game’s release date which reads:

“Years ago, we set out an ambitious vision for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Achieving that vision and delivering the best possible experience is equally inspiring and challenging. And it takes time. We set out to create a vast city to explore, full of stunning vistas, majestic skyscrapers, and mysterious tunnels. We’re building the most immersive action-adventure game with fluid movement and combat in first person. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will be an all-new playground with a deeper and more engaging story – and we want to accomplish all these goals to the highest quality possible.

So we’ve made the decision to bring Mirror’s Edge to the world starting May 24, 2016. We will use these few extra months to make sure that when you step into the massive City of Glass and experience the rise of Faith, it’s as entertaining, impressive, and memorable as it can be.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has received an incredible response from fans around the world over the past months. You’ve been eager to see the return of Faith and the unique style and gameplay that only Mirror’s Edge can create. Witnessing your positive reactions has been amazing motivation for me and the rest of our passionate team at DICE.

Thank you again for your patience and support. Keep the Faith.”

While the news is a little bit disappointing, i’d prefer the final product to be optimized, visually stunning and a wonderful single-player experience. If this means waiting until May 2016, then I’m sure the delay will be a worthwhile sacrifice.

More Unseen PC Footage From Cancelled Star Wars Battlefront III Revealed

LucasArts help create a number of magnificent Star Wars games including Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Forces and Jedi Knight II. Sadly, their last few games were extremely disappointing and it seemed like the studio had lost its creative spark. In a rather surprising move, George Lucas sold the Star Wars rights to Disney and LucasArts was officially disbanded. Tragically, they had commissioned Free Radical to make Battlefront III, which from the leaked footage, looks phenomenal.

EA and DICE eventually acquired the Star Wars license and created their own version of Battlefront. However, there have been some concerns regarding the game’s DLC model, lack of space battles and core gameplay. Today, a video containing unseen footage from Battlefront III’s cancelled PC edition has just been released. While graphically showing its age, the chaotic space battles cater to every Star Wars fan’s wildest dreams.

It’s unknown if the remaining assets will be released via videos or publicly available to download and play. I would love to see if there’s any more footage showing Battlefront III and it’s possible some modders could try to produce an unofficial version. Despite this, EA’s Battlefront is the official product and only time will tell if it matches the expectations of Star Wars fans.

Don’t Expect Any HD Remasters From EA Anytime Soon

The Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s limited game library has resulted in a wealth of remastered titles to bridge the gap while exclusives are being developed. It also seems like a cogent strategy to produce games on a budget and offset the profits to make expensive new triple-A titles. However, in an interview with IGN, EA CEO Peter Moore said:

“Remakes, because of who we are, and this broad portfolio of intellectual property…you add all that together, I don’t know where we find the time to do remakes, […] We’re a company that just likes to push forward.”

“For a lot of companies, remakes are a way to drive revenue. It’s sub-cost, it’s an IP that’s there, you can remaster, and that’s great. We don’t do that here. I don’t think that’s ever been in our culture.”

While some people would love to see a remake of classic EA titles like Mass Effect, I understand his point-of-view. Remakes can provide an improved experience, but it’s still the same core game as before. Additionally, as a PC gamer, the idea of paying for a resolution boost and slight texture enhancements seems extremely poor value-for-money. I rather major publishers work towards new and exciting IPs instead of relying on older games.

Peter Moore also weighed in on the issue of backwards compatibility and said:

“In the old days, backward compatibility was to convince your mom to buy the new console — not that you were ever going to use it, […] Once you got it? Those things went in the drawer, or on eBay.”

This line of thinking does have some credence, but I believe consumers are more driven to purchase a new console if they know their existing library can utilized. If a console doesn’t contain backwards compatibility, it psychologically makes the purchaser feel they have to spend more on the latest games to be thoroughly entertained.

What do you think of HD remakes?

EA Denies Data Breach After User Details Leak to Pastebin

Electronic Arts has denied that it has suffered a data breach following user account details being leaked and briefly posted to Pastebin. According to EA, its servers have not been compromised in any way, but it will still assess the leaked data to determine if it is genuine, and secure any at-risk accounts, probably in the form of a password reset.

EA’s statement reads:

“Privacy and security is our top priority at EA. At this point, we have no indication that this list was obtained through an intrusion of our account databases. In an abundance of caution, we’re taking steps to secure any account that has an EA or Origin user ID that matches the usernames on this list. As always, we encourage all players to safeguard their account credentials and use unique usernames and passwords on all online accounts.”

Security website CSO, which discovered the leak, notes that only a handful of the details for EA and Origin appeared to be valid, which suggests that the information posted to Pastebin could be outdated. While username, password, e-mail address, and purchased games were listed for many accounts, a high number had missing or corrupted information.

EA did suffer a confirmed server breach last year, which compromised over 40,000 EA forum accounts. The game publisher only admitted to the breach after a whistleblower revealed it first.

EA, Nintendo, Playstation, and Ubisoft Launch Attack on KickAss Torrents

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which has EA, Nintendo, Playstation, and Ubisoft as its members, has reported a number of torrent sites to the US government, specifically highlighting popular site KickAss Torrents as the largest portal for video game piracy.

In a letter the ESA wrote to the US Director of Intellectual Property and Innovation, it says, “we regard the “Notorious Markets” out-of-cycle review as an important opportunity to shed light on markets that facilitate piracy or counterfeiting of industry products and services.”

“The ‘Kickass Torrents’ torrent indexing site (kickass.to) has changed domains repeatedly in the recent past in response to enforcement efforts, and is currently accessible at the domain ‘kat.cr’,”the letter continues. “It is the most well-trafficked torrent indexing site in the world, and as its Alexa ranking indicates, one of the most popular websites of any kind on the Internet.”

The ESA says that it recognises that taking down a website is not an effective solution to the problem, implicitly suggesting that harsher actions be taken, and expresses its concern over the proliferation of  “pirate servers” that target subscription-based game sites.

“When users are diverted to play on such servers, game publishers are not able to monetize their online games as described above and thus face reduced opportunities to recoup their investment in creating the online game,” the ESA adds.

By the end of the year, the US Trade Representative will collate submissions from the ESA, MPAA, and RIAA to form a master list of piracy sites, with global action planned to follow.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Softpedia.

Star Wars Battlefront PC and PS4 Versions Compared

Today marks the public Beta of Star Wars Battlefront and there has already been a great deal of discussion regarding the technical differences on various platforms. Often, game publishers showcase the PC edition at events to demonstrate the best possible visual quality and this can make the final console versions look rather disappointing. In an open Beta, consumers can experience first-hand how Battlefront performs and it’s quite easy to make graphical comparisons.

There has already been a video released containing side-by-side footage of the PlayStation 4 and PC Betas. As always, it’s best to judge with your own eyes, but the PC version features an enhanced depth-of-field and increased sharpness. Rather oddly, the PS4 edition relies heavily on motion blur and can cause nausea. Obviously, it’s unfair to directly compare a top-tier PC with the PlayStation 4 but it’s certainly an interesting talking point.

Please note, that YouTube compression horribly impacts on the captured footage and makes the final product look fairly mediocre. Unsurprisingly, the PC utilizes a wide range of complex graphical effects and aesthetically pleasing Anti-Aliasing. Furthermore, many high-end PC gamers will be opting for 2560×1440, 3440×1440, or 4K monitor setups which vastly improves the sharpness and overall clarity.

Do you think the PC version is visually superior by a significant margin?

Star Wars: Battlefront PC Requirements Revealed

Star Wars Battlefront’s release is tantalizing close and EA has scheduled a Beta phase to mark this momentous occasion. As you might expect from DICE, the PC release is visually stunning due to the Frostbite 3 engine. Throughout DICE’s history, they have attempted to bring a certain visual flair to each PC release and thoroughly test the best configurations on the market. To prepare users for the upcoming Beta, EA has announced the minimum and recommend specification:

Minimum PC System Requirements:

OS: 64-bit Windows 7 or later
Processor (Intel): Intel i3 6300T or equivalent
Memory: 8GB RAM
Hard Drive: At least 40 GB of free space
Graphics card (NVIDIA): nVidia GeForce GTX 660 2GB
Graphics card (ATI): ATI Radeon HD 7850 2GB
DirectX: 11.0 Compatible video card or equivalent
Online Connection Requirements: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection

Recommended PC System Requirements:

OS: 64-bit Windows 10 or later
Processor (Intel): Intel i5 6600 or equivalent
Memory: 16GB RAM
Hard Drive: At least 40 GB of free space
Graphics card (NVIDIA): nVidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB
Graphics card (AMD): AMD Radeon R9 290 4GB
DirectX: 11.1 Compatible video card or equivalent
Online Connection Requirements: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection

The minimum specification isn’t overly taxing and should be suitable for any system from the past few years. However, 16GB RAM seems absurdly high on the recommend section considering most games don’t even come close to utilizing 8GB. Apart from this anomaly, every other aspect appears to indicate a scalable PC version.

At the time of writing, some early access copies have already been issued to press outlets and streamers with a large audience. Patience is key though, as a large roll-out should happen extremely soon and there’s no need to spend ages retweeting or sharing social media posts for a code.

Are you looking forward to Star Wars Battlefront?

DICE Almost Turned Down Star Wars Battlefront Due to Hectic Schedule

Star Wars fanatics have faced an antagonizing wait spanned across many years for a sequel to the highly-popular multiplayer shooter, Battlefront II. Thankfully, this long, arduous wait is almost over and Star Wars: Battlefront appears to be shaping up quite nicely. Although, there are some concerns about it being a re-skinned Battlefield 4 and lack of space battles. Interestingly, it seems DICE almost refused the job due to other commitments and being “fully booked”.

In the latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine, Patrick Bach, the general manager of DICE said:

“Disney came to EA looking for a partner to make games and suggested, ‘Maybe DICE should make a Battlefront game’,”

“On our side, we had this opportunity but were fully booked with other work and thought, ‘Argh, we can’t do that!’ But then the heart kicks in, says ‘we will figure it out,’ and we figured it out. Because you can’t say no to a project like that.” 

Despite the time constraints, DICE couldn’t turn down a project of this magnitude and used their organizational skills to work on the game. Ideally, Battlefront should take priority over a Battlefield sequel but once a project is mapped out, it’s virtually impossible to suspend it. I’m intrigued by this revelation and wonder if any other publisher barring Ubisoft and Activision would have the budget to create an authentic sequel to Battlefront II.

Are you looking forward to Star Wars: Battlefront?

Thank you GamesRadar for providing us with this information.

Star Wars: Battlefront Beta Available Offline and to Everyone

EA has confirmed that next month’s beta release of its forthcoming Star Wars: Battlefront, developed by DICE, will be available to everyone who wants to play it, in both online and offline modes. Matthew Everett, the Community Manager for Star Wars: Battlefront, made the announcement on the game’s EA blog.

“[T]he beta will consist of both our offline and online modes including co-op and split-screen co-op, and it will take place on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and via Origin for PC, so we have you covered regardless of your next generation platform of choice,” Everett wrote.

The beta build of the game will include the 40-player Walker Assault on Hoth that we brought you leaked footage of recently, plus a second mission, Drop Zone on Sullust, and a Survival Mission mode set on Tatooine, which can be played solo, co-op, or online co-op.

Everett promises, “Keep your eyes peeled for myself and many other developers during the live beta as we have some cool stuff planned.” He later revealed, in a Community Questions feature, that AI bots will be available in multiplayer (10 on each side) and that players will get a primary blaster with a hand of Star Cards for customisation.

Thank you Star Wars: Battlefront Blog for providing us with this information.