Hello, Circle members and fans. I have nothing flippant to open with today after what just happened this week. You see, I’m an immigrant. All the towns I grew up in made that abundantly clear. Kids used to do things like cut in line in front of each other after recess so I’d always be the last to drink at the water fountain. I had called ch**k and g**k everyday. I got jumped on my way home after school, and when I would fight back, the police would always side with the kids who attacked me because they were “good boys from good families”.
Most of my family here is undocumented. I’ve had to make calls, write to Assemblymen, and talk to lawyers to keep them in their homes. But as I’ve been fighting, I’ve also mourned. I didn’t win all my fist fights and not everything I’ve done on behalf of my family has been a victory. If you feel overwhelmed by the news, it’s because the truth is, it is.
Fighting is exhausting. Fighting is also scary. The fear that everyone is feeling right now, especially Muslims and undocumented immigrants, is completely understandable. Grieve for them, and allow yourself to grieve. And if you feel the spark, fight. And if you’re not a fighter, just remain aware. Everyone has a valuable role to play this upcoming administration — even videogame critics and videogame fans.
And with that, here’s the Roundup.
Sara Clemens, Michelle Ehrhardt, and Nick Capozzoli talked about game journalism at Artcade Con 2016. They talked about how game journalism started, where it is now, and where it’s heading. Watch the full discussion and enjoy the sounds of their lovely voices here.
Eb Samuel reviewed Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare this week, the latest title in a franchise most famous for how faithfully and reliably it models action blockbuster films. Infinite Warfare is no different, but Eb found the campaign to be especially good this time around. It does a great job grounding itself as a military shooter while still featuring moments of extraordinary sci-fi awe. It’s also short, but that’s just enough time for the high-pace action and talented cast to shine. All the expected multiplayer options return with a much more robust Zombies mode, so robust that it could be a stand-alone game. Read Eb’s full review here.
Chelsea Stark reports that Diablo 3 is getting a new playable character, the Necromancer. The new Necro has some familiar hallmarks of the one in Diablo 2: Raise Skeleton, Bone Spear, and everyone’s favorite cheese spell, Corpse Explosion. It’s fitting that the character is being introduced during an expansion called Reaper of Souls. The new Necro is coming as part of what Blizzard referred to as a “character pack”. Read Chelsea’s full report and watch the trailer here.
Alex Cranz reviewed the PlayStation 4 Pro, which happens to be the most powerful console ever built, but you might not feel that way if you’re playing some older titles. Alex found the new graphical fidelity the PS4 Pro offers for titles like Infamous First Light is breathtaking, but when loading older releases like The Last of Us Remastered, the gap between the PS4 Pro and its predecessor is negligible. You also need a very powerful television set to take full advantage of the PS4 Pro’s features, namely one that supports full UHD. Read Alex’s full review here.
Matt Gerardi reports that Ubisoft is in talks with Netflix to produce a new show, according to CEO Yves Guillemot. The French publisher boasts an impressive portfolio of games to draw from, but there is no word yet on which will be adapted. Ubisoft has made a foray into film before with the disappointing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Another Ubisoft film, Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender, will release on December 21. The company is also looking to adapt The Division, a game where I’ve slaughtered dozens of other players for their shemaghs and designer jeans. Read Matt’s full report here
And now for news outside of the Circle. . .
If you’re curious about Overwatch but not enough to commit $40 dollars, then November 18th is your lucky day. From November 18-21, Overwatch will be free to play on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Any progress you make during the free weekend period will be saved if you decide to purchase the game. Read the full announcement here.
Westworld is heavily influenced by videogames, so what do actual game designers think about the show? Circle alumnus Evan Narcisse spoke with designers Walt Williams, Chris Avellone, Sean Vanaman, and Eric Holmes and asked them about game design, virtual reality, free will, and game recommendations for the Man in Black. On a side note: We miss you, Ev! Read Evan’s full piece here.
Dishonored 2 is having a rough launch on PC. The 9GB day one patch already had players worried, but now hundreds of PC gamers are reporting chugging and dropped frames while traversing low detail, open areas. These sentiments echo similar complaints from when The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launched on PC, with players reporting bugs, lagging frame rates, broken menus, and even unchangeable key binds. Read more here.
Final Fantasy XV at the end of this month, and to celebrate, Square Enix gathered fans and game developers to speak about what the Final Fantasy series means to them and how it’s shaped them. Sasha mustered up the courage to ask out her now fiance after being inspired by Rinoa Heartilly in Final Fantasy VIII. Ken Levine was inspired to focus on narrative in games after seeing how deeply players resonated with Final Fantasy VII. My personal favorite? None. I was deprived of SNES and PlayStation growing up. I feel about Grim Fandango and Fallout the way console gamers in my generation feel about Final Fantasy. Watch the whole thing here.
Dota 2 is a game with a notorious toxic fanbase that’s part of a genre known for notoriously toxic players, but Valve managed to find a system that dropped player abuse in the game by 12.5%. Mike Ambinder, the developer’s in-house experimental psychologist, said that all it took was adding two extra questions to the survey. The first asked pollsters to rate how well their teammates cooperated. The second asked them to rate how well they themselves cooperated. By asking pollsters to consider their team’s actions before their own, the survey puts pollsters in a critical space where they have to examine their own actions critically. The whole talk is really fascinating, and it covers a lot of bases from framing perspective to cognitive bias. Watch the whole thing here.