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Release date announced for Divinity: Original Sin 2

Larian Studios have announced a release date for the hotly anticipated sequel to their overwhelmingly well received fantasy RPG Divinity: Original Sin. The sequel is already available with Early Access on Steam, and the full release is set to follow on September 14th. Widely celebrated for it’s attempts to modernise the traditional isometric RPG, the original  became’s Larian’s best selling game and the Early Access version of the sequel seems to be just as popular.

Many of the features of the original game have been maintained for the sequel, especially the highly regarded Game Master and PvP modes, which allowed people to create their own dungeons and adventures, and then share them online. This toolbox blended the line between tabletop RPGs and video game RPGs, and was heralded as a new approach for the genre. In time with the announcement Larian also released a new patch, featuring 2 new areas, a new companion relationship system, and introduction to new character Beast, the pirate dwarf.

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Game engine Unity valued at $2.6 billion

Unity, the game engine powering massive numbers of mobile games, has raised an additional $400 million of investment according to a statement made to Bloomberg LP. John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies, revealed the investment was from private equity firm Silver Lake, and valued Unity at over $2.6 billion, a massive increase on its $1.5 billion valuation last July.

This shift is reportedly due to the continued dominance of the engine the development of mobile games. The mobile game market, including both paid for apps and F2P games, was worth a record $41 billion in 2016, up 18% from the year before, so it makes sense the investors are wanting to get involved in the technology backing much of this significant volume. Games and apps using the Unity engine are expected to reach 2.4 billion devices worldwide. Top mobile games built using Unity include Pokemon Go, Hearthstone and recent release King of Glory, which made over $400 million in one month.

Smite roster grows even larger with the addition of Da Ji

Smite already has an impressively large roster of gods and goddesses for you to battle with to MOBA glory, but just in case you felt you were still lacking, developers Hi-Rez Studios have added in yet another character. Da Ji is a new addition to the roster, and is a character from Chinese mythological history. Traditionally known as a malevolent fox spirit in the legends, this, along with many of her accoutrements, have, as usual, been adapted into the game.

Da Ji is an assassin class God addition to Smite, and plays very quickly. A number of her abilities are linked to her claws and her historical association with torture, and can do a wide variety of damage including bleed and burn, as well as teleport across the map to targets, and stunning enemies using the Paolao device. Da Ji has been released as part of patch 4.9 alongside a number of bug fixes and gameplay balances. The patch also includes new skins for Camazotz, Ganesha, Jing Wei, Kuzenbo and Medusa. Full notes are available on the official site.

Netflix’s Castlevania series has a new trailer

Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement that The Witcher had entered production, Netflix is nearing release on another of its anticipated video game adaptations. The show is set to launch in the US on July 7th, and Netflix have a released its first trailer to accompany the announcement.

There’s a lot of quality attached to the production, which has apparently already been guaranteed a second series for 2018. Renowned graphic novelist Warren Ellis has penned the script for both seasons already, production is being handled by Adi Shankar, and the studio behind it is Frederator Networks; famous for their involvement in the production of Adventure Time. All of this gives Castlevania a real pedigree. According to the trailer the show see “the last surviving member of a disgraced clan fight to save Eastern Europe from Dracula” and is “inspired by the classic NES game.” Although US release date has been confirmed, other regions are still unknown. However, Netflix is usually a proponent of close release scheduling so the global wait shouldn’t be too long.

Pox Nora Launches on PS4

In a big day for card related news, popular card-based strategy game Pox Nora launched today on Playstation 4 having developed a significant cult following after its PC release. The console version includes all existing content and cross-platform support, as well as some additional PS4 unique items. These include the Ironfist Inquisition and eight character skins, with a further set of eight skins available to PS+ subscribers for the game’s Angel cards.

Developer Desert Owl Games had the following to say about the announcement:

“Pox Nora’s massive vault of content offers incredible value to fans of card games and strategy games alike. We’re thrilled to welcome Playstation Nation to our world and see new players join the fray.”

PS4 users who fancy giving the game a go can download it from the Playstation Store,  and a Playstation Vita version is also in development for future release.

Intriguing new F2P FPS Keystone announced

Digital Extremes, a studio best known for developing The Darkness II and Warframe, as well as online elements of AAA games like Bioshock 2 and Homefront, have announced a brand new F2P FPS called Keystone. Not much information has been released so far, other than a brief description of it by the developer as a “competitive first-person shooter with a distinct blend of first-person action and deck-building strategies.” It’s the second element here that is particularly intriguing and appears to be trying to capitalise on the popularity of games like Hearthstone and Gwent to bring a new twist to this established genre.

Keystone will look to build on the table-top theme further by starting players in game experience on “an intriguing, mystical board game.” The deck building element seems essential to gameplay, with “personally customised decks” being usable alongside those finely honed FPS skills, both individually and as part of a team. The developers are embracing a classic 1970s retro-pulp aesthetic, including aliens, robots and astronauts, which adds a level of charm to make Keystone stand out a bit. There’s a sign-up sheet available for the closed Beta this coming weekend from Friday through Monday if you fancy giving this one a try.

Early Access begins for The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

The Elder Scrolls Online may not quite have become the all conquering juggernaut fans (and most likely the developers) were hoping for since it’s initial release in 2014, as evidenced by the move to a subscription free model a year later. However, the game has recently garnered a lot of attention and traction as a result of the upcoming expansion based in Morrowind. Fans of the Elder Scrolls series will instantly recognise Morrowind as the setting of the well loved and highly successful third game in the main series, and as such anticipation for our long awaited return has been rampant.

The good news is that the day for the return to Vvardenfell has finally come, as PC players of ESO now have access to an exclusive Early Access event. This is only available to those who have pre-ordered the expansion already. For those of you who are interested but haven’t yet taken the plunge you can pre-order it for yourself here.

Morrowind brings a whole host of new gameplay features most notably a new PvP mode, known as Battlegrounds where three teams of four battle in a variety of gametypes including Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and Domination. Even more excitingly, Morrowind brings the first new class since the game’s launch, in the Warden. Billed as a mix between the classic druid and ranger archetypes, there is a wide array of new skill lines to follow, but the best is undoubtedly the Animal Companion ability, allowing you to summon a swarm of bees or even a bear to aid you in combat. The full release of Morrowind is due out on June 6th.

Wild West Online secures full investor funding

Originally announced in PC Gamer a mere 11 days ago, Wild West Online immediately got people talking about it’s potential AAA quality and ability to stand out in a very crowded genre.  So high was the quality that the leaks were even thought to be from Red Dead Redemption 2! Its Kickstarter was proving very popular, ratcheting up pledges extremely quickly. Almost too quickly in fact, as the initial response to the game proved so popular that WWO’s  initial investors have been convinced to stump up all the cash they needed up front, negating the need for Kickstarter at all.

The studio issued a press statement saying that the “overwhelming response” to the official release prompted the game’s initial investors to commit fully to the game and completely bypass the need for crowdfunding at all. 612 Games CCO Stephan Bugaj made the following statement:

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have our initial investors step up and provide additional funding to make the game we wanted, without having to raise money via crowdfunding. Westerns are lacking on PC so we can’t wait to release the game to the public.”

The even better news is that 612 have now committed to including all the original stretch goals from the Kickstarter campaign so Wild West Online looks set to be a real player in the MMO world. The official website has a tonne of new information if you’re interested in learning more and keep up to date throughout the development. There will be an alpha and closed beta over the summer which you can sign up for over the front page.

Overwatch Anniversary Event Launches 23/05

Overwatch has been a massive success for Blizzard Entertainment, and given the pedigree of their games that’s saying something. It’s come to dominate the online FPS world almost to the same extent that WoW and Hearthstone dominate their respective genres, and all of that’s happened within just one year! And starting tomorrow there will be a massive in-game anniversary event to celebrate.

We don’t know exactly what will be involved in the event but one thing we know for certain is that there’ll be three new arena maps for us to play in. It looks like each one is based on an existing map, and going off of the video below, they seem to be Dorado, Eichenwalde and Anubis.

In addition to the new event, Overwatch will also be free to play across PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4 over the weekend of 26th-29th May. Anybody will be able to download the game for free this weekend and play it for the entirety. All progress will be saved should they decide to purchase the game afterwards There will also be a Game of the Year edition of Overwatch available to mark the occasion, featuring all the content from the original Collector’s Edition, 10 extra loot boxes and some additional themed content for other Blizzard games such as Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft and Diablo 3.

Ashes of Creation smashes it’s Kickstarter goal with 15 days left

The ambitious and fascinating MMORPG Ashes of Creation has smashed through it’s original target on Kickstarter, and already gone through several of it’s stretch goals. As of the the date of this article the game has raised more than $2.1 million, promising a whole host of additional features. The game is developed by Intrepid Studios, an independent studio based in San Diego, and featuring developers with a high pedigree, having worked on classics like Everquest II and XCOM: Enemy Within. It describes itself an an “open-world, non-faction based, no P2W, high fantasy MMORPG” and is eschewing the popular F2P model for a more traditional subscription model.

AoC features many classic MMO features, across PvP and PvE, including group and solo quests. Where it attempts to set it itself apart is in the flexibility and ever changing nature of the game world. Through a system known as ‘Nodes’ players within a certain Zone of Influence can effect those nodes and level them up alongside themselves, turning a hamlet into a village into a town into a city and onwards! By tying in player development to world development Intrepid are trying to create an immersive persistent world, that changes to suit the needs and experiences of the players.

Worlds develop in massively different ways on different servers: whilst a volcano might remain dormant on one, it could erupt on another destroying large swathes of developed territory and characters, and this is entirely down to player agency. As a result of this, consequence is also very important. If that volcano erupts those towns aren’t going to magically re-appear. Such a level of player agency is impressive and surely a massive part of the draw for backers.

Ashes of Creation is due out for PC only in December 2018, and there will be an Alpha test in the next few months to help push things along. Anyone who’s interested can register here.