PlayStation 4

Overwatch is improving its highlights and loot boxes

In a new developer update, Overwatch lead designer Jeff Kaplan detailed changes coming to Blizzard’s hit team-based shooter. Players will be able to bookmark their own highlights while they play the game, and they can also export them as videos. Meanwhile, Blizzard is promising that loot boxes will soon give out fewer duplicate items.

Overwatch has been a huge hit for Blizzard since its release in May 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It already has over 30 million players. Quality-of-life updates like these can keep those players happy (and likely to spend more money on the game).

Overwatch already has a highlight system, but players only have limited control over how that works. The game automatically saves a few clips from your matches, but they disappear after a short amount…

Cities: Skylines is building a PlayStation 4 release

Cities: Skylines already made the transition from PC to Xbox One. Now PlayStation 4 owners can create their own massive metropolises thanks to the next move that publisher Paradox Interactive has in mind for its city-management sim.

Paradox announced today that Cities: Skylines is coming to the PlayStation 4 on August 15. The popular city-building game first released for the PC in 2015 and has sold more than 3.5 million copies. An Xbox One version followed this April. Now, PlayStation 4 owners won’t be left out (and Paradox won’t be left without their money).

Cities: Skylines was able to take advantage of the poor launch of 2013’s Sim…

Harvest Moon farm-life sim celebrates 20th anniversary with its first-ever PC game

It’s the 20th anniversary of Natsume, Inc.’s Harvest Moon, and for the first time, the iconic farming simulator will be coming to PC with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope.

In its long history, Harvest Moon has been available on a variety of platforms, starting with Super Nintendo and releasing on all Nintendo and Sony consoles thereafter. Though Light of Hope is the first time Harvest Moon is for the PC, developer and publisher Natsume’s first PC launch will be Wild Guns Reloaded later this year.

Much like Sega’s strategy to bring its IPs to PC, Natsume is increasing the number of platforms its games are on in order to reach a bigger market, though it’s still absent from Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. This could be because the PC market is comparable to the console games market; in 2016, console games generated $35 billion in revenue counting games, services, and hardware, while PC games generated $34 billion without being bolstered by hardware sales. The mobile games market is the largest, generating $41 billion in sales in 2016, up from previous years.

“We’re focusing on expanding our frontiers: Harvest Moon for Switch, Harvest Moon for Steam, Harvest Moon for PS4, Harvest Moon for Mac, and Harvest Moon for mobile, and any platforms yet to come,” said CEO Hiro Maekawa in an interview with GamesBeat at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. “That’s what we’re heading for. Reel Fishing is the project we’re…

Harvest Moon farm-life sim celebrates 20th anniversary with its first-ever PC game

It’s the 20th anniversary of Natsume, Inc.’s Harvest Moon, and for the first time, the iconic farming simulator will be coming to PC with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope.

In its long history, Harvest Moon has been available on a variety of platforms, starting with Super Nintendo and releasing on all Nintendo and Sony consoles thereafter. Though Light of Hope is the first time Harvest Moon is for the PC, developer and publisher Natsume’s first PC launch will be Wild Guns Reloaded later this year.

Much like Sega’s strategy to bring its IPs to PC, Natsume is increasing the number of platforms its games are on in order to reach a bigger market, though it’s still absent from Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. This could be because the PC market is comparable to the console games market; in 2016, console games generated $35 billion in revenue counting games, services, and hardware, while PC games generated $34 billion without being bolstered by hardware sales. The mobile games market is the largest, generating $41 billion in sales in 2016, up from previous years.

“We’re focusing on expanding our frontiers: Harvest Moon for Switch, Harvest Moon for Steam, Harvest Moon for PS4, Harvest Moon for Mac, and Harvest Moon for mobile, and any platforms yet to come,” said CEO Hiro Maekawa in an interview with GamesBeat at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. “That’s what we’re heading for. Reel Fishing is the project we’re…

WWE 2K18 features Seth Rollins as its generational-shifting cover star

Publisher 2K and the WWE revealed today that they picked Seth Rollins as the cover star for WWE 2K18, the next entry in the successful, yearly wrestling game series. WWE 2K18 is due out October 17 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Above: Seth Rollins is making way for the young wrestlers.

Image Credit: 2K

This is a generational shift for the franchise, as Seth Rollins represents a newer generation of WWE stars. Recent cover stars have included the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar. These are all wrestlers that have a long history with the biggest “sports…

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen upgrades design, enemies, and cinematic story

2K’s Firaxis Games made a lot of changes to the basic design of its turn-based combat game with the new expansion XCOM 2: War of the Chosen.

The tactical combat game launches on August 29, the same day as turn-based Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. War of the Chosen will debut on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. In this expansion, players will take on a new class of aliens, dubbed the Chosen. The aliens will give the game more personality and cinematic story sequences. It will also have options for easier gameplay (I had some huge difficulties with the original XCOM 2 last year).

I’m glad to hear that Firaxis moved to address the game’s accessibility, as it will now allow the player to set the time limits for how long it takes to complete certain missions. I talked about these changes with the game’s creative director at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the big game trade show in Los Angeles this week.

“We wanted to give XCOM a personality. That’s what the Chosen bring,” said Jake Solomon, creative director of XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. “The idea is that we have these three ultimate enemies, and they all have a very distinct personality. These personalities manifest not just in combat, the way they fight, but also in how they talk to you.”

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Jake Solomon, creative director on XCOM 2: War of the Chosen.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: What did you want to achieve with this project?

Jake Solomon: We wanted to give XCOM a personality. That’s what the Chosen bring. The idea is that we have these three ultimate enemies, and they all have a very distinct personality. These personalities manifest not just in combat, the way they fight, but also in how they talk to you. They’ll talk to you as you’re fighting and reveal different personalities. You have the assassin, who’s about honor and duty. The warlock is sort of a zealot. He believes in the alien cause. Then you have the hunter, voiced by Nolan North actually, and he’s this more cynical, lighthearted character.

They talk to you in combat about real events – things you do in combat, your history with them, how you’ve done against them in the past, how the other Chosen have done against you. Even on the strategy layer, they’ll talk to the player.

Above: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

Image Credit: Firaxis Games/2k

GamesBeat: Are they human?

Solomon: Not exactly. But they can speak to you. You have this interaction with them. They’ll comment on everything you do. On the strategy layer, they’ll comment on things you do there. They’ll comment on achievements you’ve had, if they’re trying to hunt you down, if you’ve succeed against them. It adds a lot of personality.

It’s not just the Chosen. We also have these factions, three resistance groups. They’re meant to be the counters for the Chosen, the three big enemies. Now we have three powerful resistance factions that can join with XCOM and counter each of the Chosen. Those factions have leaders that are also personalities, who will also comment on how things are going.

We even have little details we’ve added where—after a mission you fly back to the base. While you’re flying back we have the voice of the Advent, the government controlling Earth, trying to spin what you just did for them. They’ll say, “Don’t worry, that was just a small dissident faction. No one was wounded.” You get a sense from that side, and then in the base, if you go to the bar, we have Resistance Radio, which is the resistance side of things. They’ll be sending out propaganda for what you just did.

There are lots of new voices in the game in addition, of course, to all the gameplay features. Overall, the initial goal for us was to add a lot of personality to XCOM. Sometimes you’d be fighting for the world, but you couldn’t hear voices talking about it. We’ve added the sense of important people talking about this, commenting on the things you do. It feels more warm, more alive.

Above: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

Image Credit: Firaxis Games/2k

GamesBeat: So you have the alien enemy, which is somehow aligned with these human-like enemies?

Solomon: The Chosen are kind of like really special, powerful leaders of the alien army. You’ll fight them multiple times over the course of the game. They’ll jump into missions and you’ll have to fight them. The assassin uses stealth and her swords. The hunter is more of a long-range sniper. And the warlock uses psionic abilities.

The idea is that the aliens created these characters to be perfect champions. They told them their goal in life, the Chosen, is to hunt down and destroy XCOM. The thing is, they’re not operating as a team. They’re kind of racing each other to be the first one to beat you. Whoever beats you, they’ll become the ruler of Earth, basically – or that’s what the aliens have promised them.

Of course, we’ve added a bunch of other new enemies as well. We have the Lost, a sort of zombie enemy. If the player goes into certain maps and encounter certain situations, they can get swarmed by these Lost. They’ll be large groups of enemies. It’s a different combat experience, where you have to fight off a lot of enemies at once. There’s an Advent Priest, a psionic unit. The Purifier is a flamethrower…

How Activision CEO aims to make blockbusters out of Destiny 2 and Call of Duty: WWII

Three years ago, Sledgehammer Games and Activision were deciding what to do about 2017’s Call of Duty game. They had veered off into science fiction for the billion-dollar-a-year first-person shooter franchise. But after hashing it over, they all agreed to take their “boots on the ground” video game back to its roots in World War II.

The result is Call of Duty: WWII, which debuts on November 3 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox One X, and the PC. And, alongside Destiny 2, the beta version of the multiplayer for Call of Duty: WWII has been playable this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the big game trade show this week in Los Angeles.

We talked with Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision, at the show, where Activision has a big booth again after a one-year absence last year. Hirshberg acknowledged that the franchise may have stayed with science fiction a year too long, as a lot of fans disliked the sci-fi Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. This time around, after the WWII revelation, fans have had a much more positive reaction.

“We have incredible engagement,” Hirshberg said.

Destiny 2, a sequel to Bungie’s sci-fi shooter from 2011, launches on September 6. I talked with Hirshberg about the company’s launch strategy, among other things. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Eric Hirshberg is CEO of Activision Publishing.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: I played Destiny 2 at the reveal but not here.

Eric Hirshberg: We’ve got some new content here. You can play the new sub-class today that you couldn’t at the reveal event. It’s a lot of fun.

GamesBeat: With WWII, can you talk about some of the backstory to going back to that setting?

Hirshberg: Almost three years ago now we sat down with Sledgehammer and talked about “what next?” As you know, at the time we had some games that were taking place in the future, both released and in development. That was new to the franchise. It was the right thing to do, and it opened up some innovations and freshness in gameplay that the franchise needed, but we felt like after that, we were trying our best to see three years in the future, and we thought it might be a good time to go back to our roots.

I remember saying, “I really want to play a WWII game made by Sledgehammer Games.” Sledgehammer has that cinematic storytelling gene, that impact in their creative approach that is really well-suited to the anguish and the humanity of the WWII setting. To their credit, they talked to the team, got excited about it, and got on board. We’re all over the opportunity. It’s been off to the races from there.

Everyone talks about “boots on the ground.” I think of it a little differently, in terms of a human scale. There’s a vulnerability to the way you feel when it’s just a man and a gun. That’s what taking Call of Duty back to its roots means to me, that sense of vulnerability. And I think it’s a great game. You’ll play it in a few minutes. In multiplayer we have a new mode, War mode, a collaborative team objective-based mode. We have the divisions approach in multiplayer, which is a unique way of creating your character and selecting your character. Make sure you see the single-player level, too.

GamesBeat: It seems like the reactions to both Call of Duty and Destiny 2 have been pretty positive.

Hirshberg: Both got off to a great start when we revealed them a month or two ago. I think we’ve just increased our momentum this week with the assets we’ve put out. As great as the assets are doing on YouTube and social media, though, the response from people who’ve been hands-on in the booth has been the most encouraging to me.

GamesBeat: The hard thing here seems to be anticipating fan taste in any given year, because you’re doing that three years ahead of time. Sci-fi seemed to be a good direction at first. It was very well-received.

Hirshberg: It’s a challenge. What a difference a year makes, right? Black Ops II, Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III, these were all really well-received, high-performing games. Infinite Warfare was a really good, quality product. But it was clearly one future game too many when it came out.

GamesBeat: When it comes to anticipating what fans want in a WWII game, it seems like the technology has caught up to where you can do it justice in a different way.

Hirshberg: Certainly the level of graphic fidelity, the level of emotional connection you have with a human character in a game, the level of immersive, photorealistic environments — all of that has gotten exponentially better since the last time we were in the WWII setting. As a result, I think the impact and the feeling is incredible. It’s a game that not only plays great, but it feels great.

GamesBeat: Even within WWII games, players have expectations. You have to do the D-Day, Omaha Beach scene.

Hirshberg: If we didn’t do it, they’d say, “Where’s the D-Day scene?” When we do it, they say, “Oh, another D-Day scene.” The key to just do it great, whatever you do. But I thought the approach the team took from a narrative standpoint in the campaign was great. It’s all in the European theater. They’re all real-life environments. Some of them have been sort of under-covered in our pop culture examinations of WWII. Obviously there’s the big Christopher Nolan movie about Dunkirk coming now, but there’s a Dunkirk element to our game that was in it from the very beginning….

Rocket League dev laments Sony’s ‘political barrier’ keeping crossplay off PS4

Nintendo, a company perennially behind when it comes to consumer expectations for online functionality, revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show that Psyonix’s car soccer hit Rocket League will enable crossplay between Switch, Xbox One, and PC. Sony reiterated at E3, however, that it isn’t interested in permitting PS4 owners to play with consumers on other consoles.

For Psyonix, this is frustrating. Studio publishing boss Jeremy Dunham said as much during a quick sit down I had with him at E3. After talking about the Switch port and the upcoming two-year anniversary for Rocket League, I asked how the team feels about PlayStation marketing boss Jim Ryan’s most recent statements about why Sony Interactive Entertainment won’t enable crossplay. On Tuesday, Ryan gave Eurogamer a number of excuses that fans and even developers aren’t buying.

“Unfortunately, it’s a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I’m not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance,” Ryan said before noting that he can see the interviewer rolling their eyes. “We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. [The demographic playing Minecraft], you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”

For Dunham, that answer didn’t make any sense — especially when it comes to protecting players from “external influences.”

“I understand that stance,” said Dunham. “We want to take care of our players. But from our perspective, if PlayStation already allows cross-network with PC, which is the least regulated of any of the partners, then in theory, having Xbox and Switch in there should be fine. They’re a lot more regulated. From our perspective that concern is already handled. That’s taken care of.”

Soon after Rocket League launched in 2015 for PC and PlayStation 4, Psyonix turned on crossplay between those platforms. Sony clearly did not have the same concerns at that time.

I’ve reached out to Sony repeatedly for a comment, and I’ll update this story with any new information.

But Dunham points out that if Sony is concerned about some specific threat from an Xbox or Nintendo audience, Psyonix has already handled those concerns. PC players can’t text or voice chat with people on PS4, for example. That’s what the company would do with Switch or Xbox crossplay on Sony’s system as well.

“We think we’ve got it all covered,” said Dunham. “Some of the concerns are — that was the main one. The other one is security. We’ve worked on all the platforms and had our…

What’s the Difference Between the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X?

There’s more than one Xbox One. You can already buy the Xbox One S, a redesigned Xbox One with a few upgrades. Microsoft is also working on a major upgrade named the Xbox One X, which will arrive on November 7 and was codenamed “Project Scorpio”.

All Xbox One models will play the same Xbox One games. However, newer models may play those same games with more detailed graphics and smoother framerates. Here are the main differences.

Xbox One (Released November, 2013)

You’re probably already familiar with the original Xbox One. The console itself is a a large, black, VCR-style box. All Xbox One packages originally included the Kinect, Microsoft’s solution for voice recognition, motion tracking, and controlling your cable box or other TV service with its integrated IR blaster.

The Xbox One was released a week after the PlayStation 4, and the two consoles directly competed with each other. The Xbox One was a bit slower and $100 more expensive than the PS4 (no thanks to those TV and Kinect features). As a result, Sony pulled ahead in sales.

Microsoft has shifted gears since then. Microsoft dumped the Kinect from most Xbox One bundles and matched the PlayStation 4’s price. In fact, Microsoft has all but abandoned the Kinect. You can still buy a Kinect for about $100 and connect it to your Xbox One afterwards, if you like, but don’t expect to see any new Kinect-enabled games any time soon.

Xbox One S (Released August, 2016)

The Xbox One S is a streamlined, slightly faster Xbox One with some other improvements. It costs around $299, about the same price as the original Xbox One now costs, although Microsoft sometimes cuts the price. For example, Microsoft cut the price by $50 when the Xbox One X was announced.

Where the original Xbox One was black, the Xbox One S is white. The console itself is about 40% smaller than the Xbox One, and it doesn’t have the Xbox One’s massive power brick. The console has been redesigned in small, smart ways. There’s now a USB port on the front of the console instead of on the side, for example, making it easier to plug in USB sticks. You can also stand the Xbox One S up vertically, if you like.

The Kinect is missing in action here. No models of the Xbox One S ship with a Kinect. The Xbox One S does not have a dedicated Kinect port on the back of the console, as the original Xbox One does. If you buy a Kinect and want to use it with your Xbox One S, you’ll need to get a Kinect-to-USB adapter from Microsoft.

The new controller bundled with the Xbox One S is white, too. It includes a few minor improvements, such as a textured back for easier grip. It now supports Bluetooth, which means you can connect it directly to a Windows PC without buying the Xbox Wireless USB adapter. However, you can use any model of Xbox One controller with any Xbox One console.

Under the hood, the big new improvements are support for 4K resolution and HDR color. You’ll only be able to see that 4K improvement if you have a 4K TV, and you’ll only get HDR content if you have a 4K TV that supports HDR-10. You won’t notice any difference otherwise. If you have a TV that supports only Dolby Vision HDR instead of HDR-10 HDR, you won’t be able to view HDR content. Blame your TV’s manufacturer for not supporting both.

The Xbox One S isn’t actually powerful enough for 4K gaming, unfortunately, so games will still play…

Sony’s sold 60.4 million PlayStation 4s

The PlayStation 4 has hit another major milestone. Sony Interactive Entertainment has sold 60.4 million PS4s. The publisher finished its media presentation leading into the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in Los Angeles earlier tonight where it showed off upcoming games like Spider-Man, Uncharted 4 downloadable content, and more. But while the company has plenty of big names lined up for the future, its current library has helped the PS4 dominate the console space.

The PS4 has not only surpassed the 60-million mark, but Sony also revealed that its console owners have also purchased 487.8 million retail and digital copies. That’s an attach rate of more than 8 games per PS4.