Stuff.co.nz - Games

    Cursed Sails adds new depths to the Sea of Thieves

    Cursed Sails adds new depths to the Sea of Thieves


    Since Sea of Thieves first raised anchor back in March, more than four million gamers have set sail in Rare's open world pirate playground. That's an incredibly large player base for a new IP (thanks in no small part to Xbox's Netflix-style Game...

    Since Sea of Thieves first raised anchor back in March, more than four million gamers have set sail in Rare's open world pirate playground.

    That's an incredibly large player base for a new IP (thanks in no small part to Xbox's Netflix-style Game Pass service) but despite the healthy uptake, it's fair to say the game has received a mixed response so far.

    Some players clearly love its light-hearted spirit of adventure, free-roaming structure and emphasis on social interaction and exploration. Others, however, have found the world sparse and empty, its quests repetitive and - ironically for game based on the deep blue sea - criticised it for being too shallow. Many have abandoned ship and even hardcore fans of the game have shown signs of mutiny.

    To their credit, the development team at Rare have taken all the feedback - positive and negative - on board and responded by rolling out steady stream of free content updates, regularly adding new features and gameplay elements to flesh out the world and lure crews back for more swashbuckling adventures.
    The dark side of gaming: Why child gamers are at risk

    The dark side of gaming: Why child gamers are at risk


    At least 200 million girls and 100 million boys will suffer abuse before reaching adulthood - and a significant number of those would have been lured...

    At least 200 million girls and 100 million boys will suffer abuse before reaching adulthood - and a significant number of those would have been lured online.
    Latest gaming craze Fortnite hooks children

    Latest gaming craze Fortnite hooks children


    The latest online craze, Fortnite, has a hold on young Kiwis and concerns are mounting school children are staying up too late playing the...

    The latest online craze, Fortnite, has a hold on young Kiwis and concerns are mounting school children are staying up too late playing the game.
    Xbox's Mike Nichols expands on plans for the future of gaming

    Xbox's Mike Nichols expands on plans for the future of gaming


    It's been an eventful year for Xbox, the gaming division of one of the world's biggest technology companies. With the release of the Xbox One X, Microsoft has positioned itself as the industry's market leader in terms of sheer processing power. The...

    It's been an eventful year for Xbox, the gaming division of one of the world's biggest technology companies.

    With the release of the Xbox One X, Microsoft has positioned itself as the industry's market leader in terms of sheer processing power. The latest iteration of the Xbox is the world's most powerful console, able to display graphics at a higher resolution when compared to its closest rival, Sony's PlayStation.

    However, despite edging ahead in the never-ending arms race for technological superiority, Microsoft is still trailing Sony where it counts. Although Xbox stopped releasing official sales figures some time ago, industry analysts have estimated that the PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One by a factor of two to one.

    While there are multiple factors contributing to the global sales gap - it really comes down to the games, particularly the lucrative console exclusives that can only be played on one platform. With PlayStation churning out huge system sellers such as God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn, Xbox has struggled to establish a similar portfolio of must-have titles.

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    * Adaptive controller breaks down gaming's disability barrier
    Future of Xbox unveiled at E3
    Forza Horizon 4: E3 test drive

    At last week's E3 conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft looked to have identified the root cause of the problem, and is pulling out all the stops to increase its creative output. The Xbox briefing featured 50 games, 18 exclusives and 15 never-before-seen titles - taking a quality and quantity approach to winning the PR buzz battle that is E3.

    Xbox CEO Phil Spencer also announced plans to bolster its gaming production line, with the acquisition of four new studios (Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory and Compulsion) and the creation of an entirely new one (The Initiative). These developers will work exclusively on new content for the Xbox and Windows 10 platforms, as part of a clear attempt to address the software shortfall.
    E3 preview: Spider-Man swings on to PlayStation

    E3 preview: Spider-Man swings on to PlayStation


    If you had to sum E3 up in a single world, it would have to be 'hype'. It's basically a week of developers, publishers and PR agents doing everything they can to convince the media and public that their game is the biggest and best, guaranteed to blow...

    If you had to sum E3 up in a single world, it would have to be 'hype'. It's basically a week of developers, publishers and PR agents doing everything they can to convince the media and public that their game is the biggest and best, guaranteed to blow everyone away as soon as it hits the shelves.

    The only problem is a lot of these blockbusters are a long, long way from release. Many of them are simply cinematic trailers or work-in-progress footage. Some are nothing more than a logo and a "coming soon" tag. For an event that's all about big name games, the number that are actually playable is a lot lower than you might imagine.

    This means any titles that are actually gameplay-ready are always in hot demand, and if you want to get an idea of exactly how excited people are for any particular game, you only have to look at the size of the queue.

    In the case of Spider-Man, the forthcoming PlayStation exclusive due for worldwide release on September 7, they were as long as one of Spidey's trademark web lines. The sight of hundreds of media types shunning all the free booze and food on offer after Sony's showcase just to get their hands on the demo said it all.
    Xbox adaptive controller breaks down gaming's disability barrier

    Xbox adaptive controller breaks down gaming's disability barrier


    We've all been there - a curious older relative or someone who doesn't have much experience with video games is keen to "have a go" on the latest game you've been banging on about, until you hand over the controller and the wave of confusion hits them....

    We've all been there - a curious older relative or someone who doesn't have much experience with video games is keen to "have a go" on the latest game you've been banging on about, until you hand over the controller and the wave of confusion hits them. You might as well have passed them an alien artifact.

    The control pad is a simple tool of the trade for most gamers, but for the uninitiated, the interface can be daunting to say the least. A standard Xbox controller has 17 different buttons, two analogue control sticks and a d-pad. A bit of a step up for those who might be more familiar with the one or two button arcade games of the 80s.

    Now, imagine that same controller in the hand(s) of someone who may not have the same level of mobility or dexterity as you and I. Disabled gamers often struggle to hold a standard controller, let alone use it for the kind of rapid responses required for fast-paced modern titles.

    This fundamental tool used to interact with games - something that most of us can literally use with our eyes closed - can be an insurmountable hurdle to those who would love to join the fun, but simply don't have the means to do so.
    E3 report: Ghost of Tsushima previews cavalcade of jaw-dropping graphics

    E3 report: Ghost of Tsushima previews cavalcade of jaw-dropping graphics


    When Ghost of Tsushima was first announced at Paris Games Week last year, it's fair to say it didn't exactly set the gaming world alight with hype and expectation. Of course, there were plenty of people who were keen to see what Infamous developers...

    When Ghost of Tsushima was first announced at Paris Games Week last year, it's fair to say it didn't exactly set the gaming world alight with hype and expectation.

    Of course, there were plenty of people who were keen to see what Infamous developers Sucker Punch had been working on for the past few years, and the feudal Japanese setting looked interesting, but there wasn't quite the same wow factor that you'd associate with other big PlayStation exclusives such as The Last of Us Part II or Spider-Man.

    That all changed at E3 this week. When the new trailer and gameplay footage was unveiled as part of Sony's showcase on Monday night, there were audible gasps, whoops and cheers from the fans and media in attendance.

    A good-looking console exclusive has almost become par for the course now. Budgets are so high and expectations so demanding that pretty much every AAA title off the conveyor belt has to be visually stunning. Ghost of Tsushima is different though. Even among this 90-minute cavalcade of jaw-dropping graphics, it stood out from the rest of the pack.

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    * Sony lets games do the talking at E3
    Future of Xbox unveiled at E3
    * Forza Horizon 4: E3 test drive
    Taking Forza Horizon 4 for a spin at E3

    Taking Forza Horizon 4 for a spin at E3


    "Seasons meant we had to do Britain. And Britain meant we had to do...

    "Seasons meant we had to do Britain. And Britain meant we had to do seasons".
    Sony lets games do the talking at PlayStation E3 briefing

    Sony lets games do the talking at PlayStation E3 briefing


    If E3 is all about generating a buzz and creating hype for games yet to hit the shelves, Sony can consider its 2018 showcase a resounding...

    If E3 is all about generating a buzz and creating hype for games yet to hit the shelves, Sony can consider its 2018 showcase a resounding success.
    Xbox announces dozens of new games at E3 briefing

    Xbox announces dozens of new games at E3 briefing


    The global game industry has once again descended on Los Angeles for E3 - the annual expo where developers, publishers and personalities from the world of gaming announce the biggest projects in their pipelines. It's an event that's unique to gaming -...

    The global game industry has once again descended on Los Angeles for E3 - the annual expo where developers, publishers and personalities from the world of gaming announce the biggest projects in their pipelines.

    It's an event that's unique to gaming - imagine if all the biggest movies for the year ahead were revealed across the space of a week and you'll have a rough idea of what E3 is all about.

    The event itself doesn't officially kick off until Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time) but, as is tradition, the major players like to get ahead of the game and hold their briefings beforehand. After EA kicked things off with a rather lacklustre showcase on Saturday, the pressure was on Microsoft to deliver the goods with some big announcements. 
    Microsoft building game streaming service

    Microsoft building game streaming service


    Microsoft is working on a game-streaming service that will deliver "console quality gaming on any...

    Microsoft is working on a game-streaming service that will deliver "console quality gaming on any device."
    Onrush: The racing game that's not really a racing game

    Onrush: The racing game that's not really a racing game


    Review: One of the most difficult challenges facing game developers is the constant battle between familiarity and novelty. Gamers love to stick with what they know, but they also want it to feel fresh and original. Churning out the same game year after...

    Review: One of the most difficult challenges facing game developers is the constant battle between familiarity and novelty. Gamers love to stick with what they know, but they also want it to feel fresh and original.

    Churning out the same game year after year works well, if you have the right formula (FIFA and Madden are a classic examples). But at the same time, people want to see a steady stream of improvements, new features and refinements to justify coughing up $100 year after year.
    'Active Shooter' school shooting video game removed online after backlash

    'Active Shooter' school shooting video game removed online after backlash


    Seattle-area gaming company Valve removed a game developer from its website after online outrage over a video game depicting a school...


    Seattle-area gaming company Valve removed a game developer from its website after online outrage over a video game depicting a school shooting.
    Detroit: Become Human explores humanity, civil rights, domestic violence

    Detroit: Become Human explores humanity, civil rights, domestic violence


    Review: Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Science fiction writers and philosophers have pondered this conundrum for centuries. Was Descartes' original statement limited to only 'human' reality, or can non-human, lifelike machines develop a...

    Review: Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.

    Science fiction writers and philosophers have pondered this conundrum for centuries. Was Descartes' original statement limited to only 'human' reality, or can non-human, lifelike machines develop a conscious mind? Quantic Dream's latest Playstation exclusive Detroit: Beyond Human is the first modern videogame to seriously explore the idea of electronic existentialism, as well as several other controversial concepts.

    Set in the near-future metropolis of Detroit, the game opens in 2038 with the Motor City experiencing another industrial boom fuelled by the emergence of androids - advanced artificial intelligence developed and manufactured by CyberLife.

    In a world where thousands of android models have already established themselves in society, domestic assistants, teachers, doctors, and even detectives are all professions performed adeptly and tirelessly by CyberLife androids - and for a fraction of the cost of human workers.

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    * Life and death in State of Decay 2
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    God of War is a modern masterpiece
    Donkey Kong switches it up in Tropical Freeze

    Donkey Kong switches it up in Tropical Freeze


    Review: "If at first you don't succeed try, try again." Wise words that apply as much to work as they do to play, and a phrase that anyone who has experienced the exercise in frustration that is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will be all too...

    Review: "If at first you don't succeed try, try again." Wise words that apply as much to work as they do to play, and a phrase that anyone who has experienced the exercise in frustration that is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will be all too familiar with.

    Plenty of games are based around the idea of trial and error, but this is more a case of trial by error. You will fail, fail, and fail again but somehow you keep coming back for more.

    Sometimes it feels as if the failure is a fundamental part of the experience, an essential rite of passage that must be endured to maximise the satisfying pay-off that comes from the rare, fleeting moments of success.

    Here's how a typical session plays out: Die. Die again. Die three or four more times, give up for a while and come back for "one more go". After the ninth or tenth try, swear at the screen, die again, then invent some entirely new swear words as none of the usual ones accurately reflect your level of rage.
    Ashen: Kiwi-made Xbox adventure highlights NZ's booming game industry

    Ashen: Kiwi-made Xbox adventure highlights NZ's booming game industry


    At New Zealand's International Games Festival Play by Play in Wellington last month, gamers from across the country gathered to get a glimpse of the future of the NZ game...

    At New Zealand's International Games Festival Play by Play in Wellington last month, gamers from across the country gathered to get a glimpse of the future of the NZ game industry.