The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.
Microsoft at Gamescom: Release date, schmelease schmate
Say what you will about the Gameological Bulletin, but it rarely gets things wrong. How rare? Well, I think this is the first time. In early July—when Microsoft first announced its plan to hold a presentation at Germany’s Gamescom convention—I figured it would treat the event as a do-over for its lackluster showing at E3 by parading out all of the good things the Xbox One can do. At the very least, I figured Microsoft would announce a release date for the thing. In my defense, I was trying to predict something Microsoft would do, which we should all know by now is a fool’s errand. It turns out that Microsoft’s actual strategy was to show off a few new titles and promise a free copy of FIFA 14 to Europeans who pre-order the Xbox One. The two most notable of those new Xbox One games are Fighter Within, a Kinect-powered fighting game, and Fable Legends, a new entry in the Fable series of cheeky role-playing games. The Fable Legends announcement trailer, embedded above, shows off that the game will allow you to play as a villain. Kotaku reports that you can command monsters and set traps for the good guys to face.
Although Microsoft wasn’t ready to announce the Xbox One’s release date (probably because it knows Sony would do whatever it could to release the PlayStation 4 a week earlier), it did reveal the full list of games that will be available at the system’s launch. The list, which you can read at the Xbox One’s official site, isn’t too surprising, but one item on it is. Not only will the highly anticipated puzzle sequel Peggle 2 be out on the Xbox One on whatever day it becomes available, Joystiq is reporting that it and the 2014 Plants Vs. Zombies shooter, Garden Warfare, will be coming to the Xbone before any other platform. What we don’t know is how long it will be before those games make their way to other systems.
Sony at Gamescom: Anything you can do, I can do…also
Ever since E3, Sony has been approaching this new console showdown with swagger. So far, all it has had to do is sit back and watch as Microsoft made the PlayStation 4 look better and better. When it’s not letting Microsoft trip over its own feet, Sony is taking cheap shots at its competitor with things like this goofy video and its Gamescom announcements. In addition to unveiling new PS4 titles like Rime and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, Sony announced that both Minecraft and Fez will be coming to the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita. According to Joystiq, the PlayStation 4 version of Minecraft will be available at launch, but the various versions of Fez don’t have any release dates yet (which is also comes via Joystiq). Just to be safe, Sony fans should probably be nice to Phil Fish.
Speaking of the PlayStation 4 launch, it’s happening on November 15. Who wants to bet Microsoft is scrambling to get the Xbox One on shelves before that?
EA breaks the space-time continuum, allows digital games to be returned
For centuries, humans have understood that the drawback to the convenience of digital media is the inability to resell it. When you buy a copy of Gone Home on Steam, you can’t return it when you realize it doesn’t have an online deathmatch mode, because your copy of the game doesn’t actually exist. Now, Origin, Electronic Arts’ digital game store, has found a way around this limitation through a clever system it calls “Asking For A Refund.” All right, the system is actually called The Origin Great Game Guarantee, but that’s just marketing-speak. Here’s how it works: If you decide you don’t like a game bought on Origin within 24 hours of first playing it, you can go to your order history and request a refund. Unless EA doesn’t buy your excuse, you’ll get your money back and—I assume—lose access to the game. Who knew such advanced technology would be available in our lifetimes? Not bad for the worst company in America.
Expansions for everybody! Everybody who plays XCOM and Diablo III, that is.
It seems the term “expansion pack” has fallen out of style when talking about post-release add-ons for games. These days, everything just gets called “downloadable content.” [On Gameological, we still call them “expansions.” Much less sterile. —Ed.] An expansion pack seems like a more exciting prospect since any little thing could be considered DLC. I get the impression that game developers are reluctant to throw the term around—but not this week. The news broke that two popular games will be getting downloadable expansion packs soon—XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Diablo III.
The XCOM add-on, titled Enemy Within, will, as reported by Polygon, add new maps, a new mech-suited soldier, and some element of integrating alien technology directly into your squad members’ bodies. The announcement trailer—embedded above—tells us almost nothing beyond that, but Enemy Within will be coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on November 12.
As for Diablo III, its expansion is called Reaper Of Souls. According to IGN, it will be “dark and terrifying” and will add a new chapter to the story in which Team Diablo must defeat a fallen Archangel named Malthael by clicking on him over and over again. Reaper Of Souls will also add a new playable class called “the Crusader,” described as a “walking tank,” and will increase the level cap as well as introduce new abilities for the existing classes. It all sounds pretty dark and terrifying to me, and you can see its slick opening scene below.