Here's a brief rundown:
- A new story. the lore of Atlas continues and the path has been reworked some. The NPCs you could have in your home have changed dialogue to fit the new story. Apparently, there's 30 hours worth of story content here. The long-rumored fourth race is here!
- The galaxy has been redone again. Your home planet may look completely different now. The variety has been significantly increased.
- They've added economy, wealth, and conflict ratings to each system, and those ratings affect what you can find.
- You can now find crashed freighters on planets and loot them.
- You can manipulate terrain with a multitool upgrade.
- There's a mission board in every galaxy with procedural missions.
- The amount of items you can craft and find have increased dramatically.
- The visor looks very different, and scanning can help you find rare items.
- The menu UI has been overhauled, to accommodate a new ship inventory system (you now have separate areas for equipment and cargo) and a more in-depth reputation system.
- Portals are now functional! You can input the coordinates of planets to transport to them. Which helps with...
- Multiplayer! In a sense. "Glitches in the simulation" are causing fragments of other participants to show through, and voip works within a certain radius. Basically, it's the Fable 2 take on multiplayer where everyone else is a floating orb. BUT it's the start of more to come, and still neat.
- You now have the ability to fly low to the ground instead of hitting an invisible barrier far above the surface.
- There are new ship models, some of which are only available in high-wealth systems.
- Tons, tons more. But those are the big ones.
Full patch notes with screenshots here: http://nomanssky.com/atlas-rises-update/
And just a reminder, No Man's Sky is $25 on PSN, GOG, Steam, and Humble right now so if you don't have it, now's a good time to get it!
The one above shows a portal-- a structure present in the game already, but one that had no apparent use. Apparently that's going to change soon! The control panel thing pictured isn't currently in the game, so it looks like we're getting some interactivity.
In addition, this beauty dropped showing a new ship class! It's parked next to an observatory, so those may be an important part of the update, or maybe just a neat thing to put in a picture.
A few places have No Man's Sky for around $25 right now, possibly in preparation for an update. If you're interested, now's a good time to grab it for cheap!
UPDATED: The man himself, Sean Murray, sent out an email today with more information about the update. It's called Atlas Rises (which I hope is a reference to a Metallica song) and will focus on new lore and making portals do fun things. The full text of the email follows:
Hello Citizen Scientists,
It’s been a year since No Man’s Sky first released, and it’s been an exciting, intense and emotional year for us at Hello Games. We have been quiet, but we have been listening intently.
We've spent that year working hard on free updates for this game our team cares about so much.
Update 1.3 will release this week and will be available for free to all No Man’s Sky players. We're calling it Atlas Rises. It focuses on improving the central story of No Man’s Sky and adds the ability to quick travel between locations using portals. Patch notes will be made available shortly before the update goes live.
What we do is much more important than what we say, but since launch we have sometimes focused too much on that.
We wanted to reach out and celebrate the devoted community that means so much to us. We launched Waking Titan to try to do that.
When we posted those cassettes we didn't know what to expect. In the last eight weeks a quarter of a million players from across the globe (174 countries, to be precise!) have come together - united by a shared love of mystery and science fiction - to form the Citizen Science Division. You’ve travelled great distances both real and virtual, undertaken complex tasks, and explored the depths of simulation theory. New friendships have been forged, and a tight-knit community has been created. Most importantly a cute hamster has a new home.
You've become part of the No Man's Sky origin story.
It's been an honour to watch, but this is just the beginning. Whether you’ve followed Waking Titan or not, we welcome anyone to sign up to the Citizen Science Division, and to join us on the official CSD forums.
Our journey continues.
Thank you for this year. We hope you enjoy what comes next.
Since then, the Waking Titan project site has launched, with the promise of 10,000 random entrants receiving a physical Atlas Pass v4, a questionnaire, a secret decoder wheel to get you into a website with Titan commands, PDFs with what may be coordinates to planets in-game, and other strange things.
I do worry that this is building hype for something that may not deliver what people expect, but I'm having fun tuning in to see what's new. I'm hoping for that shiny Atlas pass too.
Gamespot has a good breakdown of what's happening:
And the NMS subreddit has some more history:
If you've been waiting to get into the 3DS/2DS scene, now might be the time!
This is the first new product in the 3DS family since 2014/2015's release of the New Nintento 3DS and the XL version. The NN2DSXL (which is totally not an official initialization, but I'm going to make it a thing) comes on the heels of the Switch launch, the news of the NES Classic being canceled, and rumors of the SNES Classic coming later in the year.
This means a bit less waiting than if they'd kept the holiday release schedule, but I have to admit, after the past two movies December just feels like Star Wars season to me, and I'll miss that a little.
Not enough to make me wish it was coming out 7 months later, though :D
In addition, the fifth Indiana Jones movie will be coming out July 10, 2020. Here's hoping the new Indy movies get the same treatment as Star Wars.
"Our team had a clear vision for this game – one that we shared with all of you with much shared excitement – and, as much as we hate to say it (and in spite of all of the reforms we tried last year) - the current state of the game is still equal parts far from that vision and well behind schedule.
As a result, we have made the decision to move on from having Engine Software continue development of Terraria: Otherworld.
The great news is that we already have a dedicated and passionate team ready to pick up the torch and continue the Otherworld journey! Based upon their really impressive work to-date with the Terraria re-write on Console/Mobile, coupled with an amazingly on-point proposal for completing Otherworld (after a thorough review of the game on their end), we have made the decision to bring Pipeworks on board as our new development partner for Terraria: Otherworld!
We know that the "radio silence" and all of the shifting development work aimed at continuing the journey for Terraria: Otherworld has been frustrating for a lot of you.
The length of the silence was purely driven by "these things take time to occur and then set up" coupled with our desire to have an actual solution/path forward before just sharing the news about Engine."
This is good news, really. We now understand the long gaps between updates, and we know that Re-Logic is moving forward with a new team. The bad news would be if they had just pushed on. I'm more optimistic now, knowing that Re-Logic is taking care of things and bringing in some fresh eyes.
Full statement on the forums: https://forums.terraria.org/index.php?threads/changing-of-the-guard-an-update-from-otherworld.56207/
Little did I know, however, that it also included timed game trials before release. In Mass Effect: Andromeda's case, I was able to play the game for up to 10 hours and up to a certain point in the story. I only got to about the 8:30 mark before I ran out of stuff to do, and I had been really taking my time. And now I have to wait until Tuesday, when it actually releases, to continue. And I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas.
In short: there are issues, but it's great overall... so far. The following are first impressions that may change over the course of the game, and I'm keeping things spoiler-free.
First, lets get the bad stuff out of the way:
- The facial animations. Oooooooooohhhh boy, those facial animations. At best they're as bad as the previous entries. Bioware has a bad track record for those. But with the new shiny graphics, the bad facial animations are more pronounced. At worst, they're really distracting and jarring. These have been getting a lot of ridicule and it's clear why. The odd thing is, the aliens have perfectly fine animations, it's the humans who have weird thousand-yard stares and creepy smiles. Bioware/EA has said that there's a bug involved and that it wouldn't be fixed by day 1, so we may get some improvements.
- The writing for character dialogue is inconsistent. One character can go from seeming real to seeming cliché in two lines. While it isn't bad overall, the bad parts bring it down a bit. Thankfully it seems like only a few characters are affected. Perhaps they just didn't have a solid idea of who these characters should be? I'm hoping this improves as the story moves on.
- Planet scanning seems to have less of a point. Almost no planets have anything to scan. And while the on-planet vehicle makes a return, at least at this point in the game the only planets you can land on are the ones involved in the main story.
- Getting around in the galaxy is slower. You have a really pretty cutscene every time you switch from one planet/system to another. It's nice the first few times, not the 20th.
- The omni-tool scanner slows you down and I felt compelled to pull it out often to make sure I wasn't missing something.
- The first planet you visit (after the intro planet) isn't a good one to show off for the demo. Or, alternatively, the demo ends just too soon. You can barely go anywhere until you do something (which I won't give away in case people are really wary of spoilers) but the trial stops right before you get to do that thing. So even when you get to the end of where the plot will take you in the demo, you've probably exhausted what you can explore too.
- There are some sidequests that feel identical to ones I've done before in Mass Effect and other games. It's not something unique to this game, but a couple of times I thought, "Oh THIS again. OK." Not a huge thing, but there are some tropes.
- I don't care about the enemies. At this point, they're just violent and nothing else. I wish that, by this point in the game, we had learned about them a bit more.
- This is more nebulous but worth mentioning. I like the characters but none of them seem as memorable as the wonderful cast of characters from the first three games. I could be wrong, there's a lot of game left.
- Sometimes the new on-planet vehicle is an asshole. I see what they were trying to do with the new controls for it, but it may be overcomplicated at times. And it doesn't have any weapons!
- The graphics, facial animations aside, are wonderful. I can't say much more about them than that. It's really good stuff.
- The world-building is fantastic. Er... galaxy building? Andromeda feels alien. Even more than the planets you visit in the previous Mass Effect games. The structures built by the Milky Way crew look like modernized architecture from the previous games. It feels very Mass Effect, and yet separate from the Mass Effect trilogy that came before it.
- The more open design helps make the worlds feel real. I wouldn't call it open-world, but it benefits from being more open. The addition of jump jets let you explore more of the space, and it feels less restricted.
- Combat is much improved, largely because of the more open design and the jump jets, but everything just has more weight to it now. Enemies seem smarter, and will actively flank you. You have to pay attention.
- Aside from the tropey quests mentioned above, the quests and sidequests are great. Even in the intro, when you first get control of your character, you can see things happening around you that you can jump into or not. When you first find a certain place (again, being careful of spoilers) you can start a murder mystery that takes you to multiple systems to solve.
- Even if the lips don't match all the time, the voice acting is solid. I got used to FemShep, so in my mind Mass Effect has female protagonists and I chose Sara Ryder. Her voice actor is no Jennifer Hale, but she does well, and the supporting cast does as well.
- There are callbacks to the old games. So far, they've been minor ones but it helps to tie the series together.
- Omni-tool scanning, while not perfect (see above) is fun. I felt like I was in No Man's Sky, running around scanning animals, rocks, plants, and tech. I hope the folks at Hello Games play this and modify the scanner in No Man's Sky a bit, honestly.
- (This isn't really a spoiler unless you've literally avoided everything about this game, so if you're here I assume you at least know the premise.) You aren't saving the galaxy this time, I don't think. I say "I don't think" because the plot has a long way to go and could significantly change. In the previous games there was a massive threat that needed to be stopped. In this game, it's all about making a new home. The new goal and focus are refreshing.
- Multiplayer is pretty solid but I suck at it.
- The Tempest isn't the Normandy but it's pretty sweet. It's that same familiar ship design from the SR-1 and SR-2, but modernized and shinier.
- The characters are good. I'm pessimistic about them achieving the character development from the first three games, but they are good. I care about them. Natalie Dormer's Lexi T'Perro is a fantastic Asari doctor (who totally isn't into women, a fact I discovered accidentally), Vetra is a Turian who would make Garrus proud, and so on. The characters retain the traits of their races, while also having unique personalities.
- The on-planet vehicle is much improved over the Mako. Yeah I know I complained about it up top, but in general it's far better. GTA it ain't, but it serves its purpose better than the Mako.
When I was looking for a screenshot to include up top, I found a screenshot from Shepard's apartment in Mass Effect 3, when she throws the party and they take a group photo. That felt like seeing a picture of my absolute best friends that I haven't seen in years. While Mass Effect 3 was a downgrade for the most part, I seriously felt regret and loss at seeing that screenshot. That's how much I loved the original trilogy. The question for many won't just be "Is Mass Effect: Andromeda a good game?" It will be "Does Mass Effect: Andromeda achieve what the previous games did?" And that's not really even something we can answer until there's a trilogy, because the strength of each new game builds because of the history.
For now, I can say Andromeda is really good so far. I'm simultaneously optimistic and hyper-critical because of loving the first trilogy. I have problems with Andromeda, some of which may get fixed, some of them are there for good, and some are my own brain telling me "BUT IT'S NOT SHEPARD!" But the problems don't make it bad, not at all. The facial animations are the biggest issue but, while they're distracting, I'm not playing the game for how people's faces look when they talk.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the game. There's a lot of promise here, and I just want to sleep until Tuesday so I don't have to wait to keep playing.
This is a Terraria-level update. I don't know how to prioritize things, so here's a quick overview of the new hotness in the order in which Hello Games presented them.
First up, the graphics have been significantly overhauled, with better textures and lighting effects. The PS4 Pro can take advantage of new features and shinies.
Other players' bases can now be found and explored, and Steam Workshop will let you find them more easily.
YOU CAN NOW OWN MULTIPLE SHIPS OMG THANK YOU HELLO GAMES
Speaking of ships, each ship type has a clear specialization for combat, hauling freight, and exploration.
Multi-tools also have specializations, for mining, combat, and scanning.
Ships and weapons now have classes: A, B, C, or a rare S-Class.
You can now build ground vehicles called Exocraft for getting around on-planet. There are three classes of these for speed, hauling loot, or somewhere in the middle.
You can make Exocraft races and challenge others to beat your time!
There are new traders in space stations, some of which sell blueprints that you can buy with a new currency: nanite clusters.
Base-building now has way more options so you can pimp out your house in style!
Multi-tool and ship weapons have far more variety now, for close-, mid-, and long-range combat.
There's a new game mode: permadeath. If you were ever playing NMS and thought "I wish I could lose all this when I die," then this mode is for you.
There are five new trophies for claiming a base or freighter, building an exocraft, visiting another player's base, and reaching the center of the galaxy in Survival and Permadeath mode. Those last two should take a while.
There's now a dedicated photo mode so you can stop time and line up the perfect shot! You can choose the time of day and lighting effects and add photo filters.
The Discovery menu has gotten some significant updates; it's actually useful! You can find yourself and set waypoints to previous systems.
65daysofstatic has created 8 new soundscapes for that awesome procedurally generated soundtrack.
You can name your ships now.
You can skip those annoying black bar cutscenes.
NPCs are faster at getting to the point when you talk to them.
And various other improvements.
For the full list, check this post from Hello Games: http://no-mans-sky.com/pathfinder-update/
I appreciate the way they went about it. They switched engines back in October but didn't say anything about it until they had something to show for it. An engine switch is a big prospect-- best to announce it when you can show that you're up to the task!
See the info about it on their Kickstarter news article: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598858095/system-shock/posts/1820162
And if you want a comparison of what could have been in Unity vs. what will come with Unreal, check the main video here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1598858095/system-shock/
Back then, molten armor was the strongest, Skeletron was the last boss. Based on the trailer, the physics were different in many ways, flails worked a bit differently, and tons of sprites and blocks were different (look at those smooth doors and shiny dungeons).
We're coming up on *six years* since the game released, if you can believe that, and updates are still coming. Here's a brief look at the game's history, discounting minor patches (though "minor" is getting hard to define with this game)...
1.1 came late the same year, with almost double the amount of stuff to do and build. Minor-ish changes rolled out, but a few months later Redigit said that development would be stopping on the game due to real-life issues.
BUT things change, and over a year later (September, 2013), 1.2 came giving us the crimson and beefing up what you could do in the jungle. Over 1.2's lifespan new events were added, and more and more items.
Then 1.3 in June 2015 (how has that been nearly two years?) brought us alien invaders, a new final boss, and expert mode, and extended the endgame even further. Tons of updates have come out in the 1.3 line, bringing new and refined mechanics, controller support, Mac and Linux support, new events based on other games, and more.
1.3.5 is coming "soon" and marks the return of Redigit to the development team. More info on that can be found here, but so far that information is sparse: http://terraria.gamepedia.com/Upcoming_features
That's not bad for a game that ended development 5 years ago! The thing is, I loved the game we had at the end of 1.1's update chain. When I found out that no more updates would be released, I was content. But the game we have now makes 1.1 seem quaint!
A teaser at the end seems to indicate that the next video will be about planet exploration, one of my favorite and most frustrating parts about the series, so I'm hoping to see them really get it right with Andromeda.
The first one in the series is here, showing off weapons and skills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrWgLMH8yRU
In other news, the system requirements are up on Origin now: https://www.origin.com/usa/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/deluxe-edition#requirements
Aaaaaand it's time for an upgrade. I'll have a new PC at my doorstep in a few days. This is the first game I've wanted to play that I don't think I can. My video card is more than enough but my AMD CPU is way behind. This PC has lasted me almost 5 years exactly, but I tend to get things that are already a generation or two behind to save money. This time I'm getting something more modern but not top-of-the-line. I'm going Intel over AMD because AMD tends to lag in some features. It has a new core i5 CPU (later upgradeable to an i7 if I need it but I won't for a long time, 16gb ram, a Geforce 1060 GPU, a 512gb solid state and a 1tb hard drive. No floppy drive :D
What does this mean for you?
- Better quality audio. Taking video out of the equation should improve the audio quality since it won’t be compressed like in Google Hangouts.
- Better visuals. You no longer have to look at our ugly mugs.
- More options. You are no longer tied to Youtube so you can listen whenever you want, wherever you want.
What does this mean for us?
- We no longer have to put on clothes to record an episode!
We’d like to hear what you want from Cheerful Ghost Radio. What are your favorite parts of the roundtable that should stick around? What are some things you would like for the new show?
Join us on February 13 for the final episode of the Cheerful Ghost Roundtable where we’ll look back on our five years of history and look toward the next step.
One of the best games ever made is currently free. If you've never played this game, you owe it to yourself!