The Roundup: The Circle & Beyond

By Jonathan G. Lee

Hello! It’s Jon again with your weekly Circle Roundup. Today’s Roundup reminds you to exercise your franchise. Register to vote. It won’t take any longer than 1 minute and 34 seconds. You can make popcorn in 1 minute and 34 seconds. This election is going to be a truly historic one, no matter who wins, so make sure you go out and be a part of that history.

And with that, the Roundup!

Ahh, the Beautiful Game. Or as we Americans call it, soccer. Joshua Rivera reports on the latest trailer for FIFA 17, which focuses on the fans rather than the sport itself. Read Josh’s breakdown here.

Harold Goldberg previewed Mafia III for Playboy magazine (and online). Mafia III takes place in a fictional 1968 New Orleans during what historians call the Summer of Hate. Is this current election year yet another Summer of Hate? And why does Uncle Lou look like Donald Trump?

Alex Cranz previously reported that the Xbox One S plays games real good and plays video real good. Well, almost. There are two major issues with the console that are hamstringing its capability to play movies real good, currently disqualifying it from the small list of game consoles which also offer home entertainment. Read Alex’s full report here.

Virtual reality that you can carry around in your suitcase? Dan Ackerman reviewed the Acer Predator G1, a compact desktop that is reasonably priced and appropriately powerful. The G1 doesn’t excel at any particular point. It’s not the smallest VR desktop on the market, nor is it the cheapest, most customizable, or most powerful. It is, however, fun! With a design that doesn’t take itself too seriously and enough juice to play any new game on high settings, it’s a solid choice if you’re looking for a new rig to by over the holidays. Read Dan’s full review here.

Palmer Luckey, the designer of the Oculus Rift and founder of Oculus VR, is a rare sort of genius. At only 24 years old, he has become the face of virtual reality and is already worth $700 million dollars. He is also, as Chelsea Stark reports, a supporter of Republican nominee Donald Trump. The /r/oculus subreddit was inflamed with drama last week when an article on the Daily Beast revealed that Luckey has been funding a pro-Trump group that spreads disparaging memes about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Read Chelsea’s full report here.

Samit Sarkar reports that 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling agreed to pay a $2.5 million dollar settlement to Rhode Island. The story of 38 Studios is a long and troubled one, beginning with Schilling receiving a $75 million dollar loan from the state of Rhode Island to base the company in Providence with the understanding that this would bring more workers to the state and perhaps even build a domestic tech industry. The venture failed and with it came accusations of mismanagement. Though Schilling agreed to pay the settlement, he has not admitted to any liability. Read Samit’s full report here.

Finally, the New York Game Critics Circle were at the NY Games Conference yesterday! We had a fireside chat with Circle members Dan Ackerman, Christopher Byrd, Sara Clemens, and Sherri L. Smith moderated by our head honcho Harold Goldberg. Check out the posting here. The team always brings the energy and the audience was so engaged, the panel lasted twice as long as the schedule indicated. (Big thanks to Nix Hydra’s Lina Chen for suggesting us to conference organizers!)

And now for news outside of the Circle. . .

Jonathan Nolan, producer of the upcoming HBO show Westworld, spoke about how Red Dead Redemption and BioShock were big influences on the show. However, the gaming influence on Westworld goes far deeper than that. Westworld is based on the eponymous film from 1973 (which was based on the Michael Crichton tome). It features a high tech theme park where patrons can live out their wildest fantasies with androids that are indistinguishable from real human beings. Nolan says that can be seen as a metaphor for World of Warcraft. Read the full interview here.

Herald is an upcoming indie game about a merchant ship headed to the Eastern Colonies. Set in the 19th century, players take on the role of steward Devan Rensburg as he explores imperialism, race, class, and religion among a multicultural cast of passengers. Read more about it here.

In Wasteland 2, we sweated our asses off while fighting killer robots in Arizona and hostile militias in Los Angeles. Now pending another successful Kickstarter campaign, we’ll be freezing our asses off in Colorado fighting more rogue AI and fanatical highwaymen. inXile Entertainment just announced Wasteland 3 today with a new Kickstarter page. Read more about it here.

Destiny 2 is probably, maybe, hopefully getting a PC release. Journalists and fans alike have scoured sources all across the Internet to draw this educated conclusion. Yet again, this might be another console FPS series that I could finally get to play because asking me to FPS on a joypad is like asking me to jump rope with a tire. Read more here.

Battlerite is a new game that’s being classified as a “MOBA”, but really, it isn’t a MOBA. It’s servicing a niche that I’ve wanted to see fulfilled for years which is the Arena gameplay mode in World of Warcraft. For years, WoW PvPers has been asking Blizzard to make a standalone game inspired from WoW’s Arena mechanics without all the extra stuff they hate (leveling up, simultaneously trying to balance the classes for PvE, farming gear, etc). Well, Battlerite is that game, and according to Steam reviews, people love it. When a game can keep you “with a constantly clenched sphincter” for two hours, that’s a sign of great design. Read more about it here.

And that’s your Roundup! See ya next week!

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