Final Fantasy XV Carbuncle Surprise Rewards to (Finally) be Disbursed

Promotional poster for the Carbuncle Surprise Instant Win event, which offered several potential rewards for those who logged in.

Promotional poster for the Carbuncle Surprise Instant Win event, which offered several potential rewards for those who logged in.

With the limited time Moogle Chocobo Carnival event to be rolled out tomorrow, Final Fantasy XV players will be relived to know that those who participated in the Carbuncle Surprise event, which was a promotional rewards event done by Square Enix to promote the release of Final Fantasy XV, will soon be receiving the rewards that they have won during that event time. According to an email received by Square Enix, there was a major problem with the disbursement process of the rewards for participants, leading to the delay.  Square has promised to release these rewards within the next two to three weeks, and will notify participants via email.

The Carbuncle Surprise was a several week long event that rewarded players who logged into the event page every Friday. Rewards ranged from in game items, such as the Cindy Regalia Skin, to Square Enix membership points, to the grand prize of a trip to Japan. Several other goodies were added to the reward pool as an exclusive reward for that week as well, such as a Play Arts Kai figure and exclusive consoles and accessories as well.

The initial promise was that rewards would be disbursed a few weeks following the release of Final Fantasy XV, but was delayed due to the issues previously stated. So, if you were a participant in the event, make sure to check your email regularly for your disbursement details!

 

Steams Removal of Art of Stealth Highlights the Intrinsic Problem Permeating in Steam

Art of Stealth game removed for Steam over review controversy

Art of Stealth game removed for Steam over review controversy

Valve recently  removed the poorly received Art of Stealth game after it was discovered that the developer fabricated positive reviews that praised the game.

Developer Matan Cohen has been vehemently lashing out against the negative reviews his game was receiving on Steam and even went as far as to fight against controversial YouTube personality Jim Sterling after Sterling heavily criticized the game, calling it “absolutely terrible rubbish”

The fight resulted in Cohen’s Studio firing back, making claims that Sterling has “no respect to software engineers who learned programming in university for 5 years and work hard to create a good game.” The team then proceeded to file a DMCA takedown request for the video and threatened to take legal action against Sterling.

According to an official statement by Valve, Cohen “appears to have created multiple Steam accounts to post a positive review for their own game,” which is a definite violation of Steam’s review policy.  This issue highlights the very real problem that permeates in Steam regarding game reviews. Coupled with the inherent risk of purchasing Early Access games, falsified game reviews potentially cause revenue generating for a game that is being falsely praised. This becomes difficult for consumers to make a informed judgement of the game through Steam and ruins the legitimacy of Steam as a user based reviewing platform.

Steam over the past few years has attempted to rectify this issue, with them recently revamping how users can review or see reviews for particular games. However, the capacity to detect falsification of reviews through multiple accounts, as how Cohen had done so, is still not perfected. This poses several problems for indie groups who want to get their games out into Steam but are unable to do so because the unintended consequences of these falsified reviews lead to a poorly made game receiving more exposure. However, with this recent incident coming to a close, more exposure on the issue of false reviews will lead to making more informed judgements on the user end and amp up Steam’s false review detection better.

Gearbox CEO Says Not to Expect Borderlands 3 on the Nintendo Switch

Gearbox CEO confirms that the next Borderlands sequel will not make it to the Switch.

Gearbox CEO confirms that the next Borderlands sequel will not make it to the Switch.

In a strange announcement, Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford went to Twitter claiming that Gearbox will not be porting a Switch version of Borderlands 3, whenever they officially announce it. “I do not see that happening” Pitchford responding to a fan about the Switch port for the sequel to the popular FPS adventure series. “We were talking to Nintendo, but that stopped for some reason. They have other priorities.” The oddity of this comment is based on the fact that the Borderlands series’ publisher, 2K Games, is in fact a part of Take-Two interactive, which happens to be one of the many publishing partners confirmed for the Switch.

We are currently unsure as to what occurred between Gearbox and Nintendo for Pitchford to have confirmed the lack of a Borderlands title for the Switch. We can only speculate that this could be a cautionary strategy so that the series will not be released in a  poorly supported platform, as it did with its unfortunate Vita port of the Borderlands games. Considering Nintendo’s recent track record with the Wii U, which during its development had promised several third party support only to have none at release, this may seem to be one of the reasons for the withdrawal from the Switch.

Not having a Borderlands title may not devastate the Switch’s potential line-up of games, but it certainly brings up several questions as to what Nintendo is exactly negotiating with these publishers. What restrictions are they putting in place and will these ultimately result in another Wii U fiasco, where the third party publishers will choose to abandon the Switch as it occurred with its console predecessor?

Pitchford essentially confirmed Borderlands 3 in April 2016 during PAX East, which was expected to be the first next-gen Borderlands title in the series. There is currently no word as to when the third installment of the Borderlands series will be released.

The Selling Out of the Nintendo Switch and (Still) Sold Out NES Classic: Nintendo Not Aware of its Majority Consumer?

The Switch has much promise, but will it be able to improve upon Nintendo's questionable business practices?

The Switch has much promise, but will it be able to improve upon Nintendo’s questionable business practices?

Following the recent updated information regarding the Nintendo’s new Switch and information regarding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Switch’s pre-order quickly sold out. You would think that, knowing how massive and loyal its fanbase, Nintendo would be prepared in its production of the highly anticipated console. However, considering how horrible they handled the distribution of the NES Classic Edition (Which by the way is still sold out in Amazon and other retailers), it isn’t so surprising that Nintendo did not factor in their western audiences for the Switch or Breath of the Wild’s collector edition.

This past week Nintendo held a press event for the Switch, showcasing all the hardware specs, games, and peripherals to be released this March 3rd, and many were extremely excited to see what they offered. This console has to succeed after Nintendo’s series of blunders over the past few years. The Wii U’s abysmal sales, coupled by the horribly scare games made the last few years for Nintendo difficult. Nintendo was hoping to improve its sales and reputation with the NES classic edition, but that came with problems. Although the NES was an immensely popular purchase this past holiday season, many were disappointed that Nintendo had underestimated the popularity of the mini console in the West, leading to extremely limited quantities both instances of their sale. There has been no word since when they will be releasing more copies of the NES classic edition here, but this clearly seems to be a pattern for Nintendo. As soon as Nintendo released information on both the Switch and the new Zelda game, the console and collector’s edition of the game were sold out almost immediately. Some attribute this to the long waiting fans who were expecting this news, but others such as myself feel that this is just another example of Nintendo’s poor business planning on their part. Nintendo has been known to neglect their western audiences with exclusive releases to titles and even hardware in Japan and was one of the last companies to still create region locked hardware. Although the Switch will release as a region free console, this move seems to be a bit late for Nintendo as it is now playing catch up with the models that Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One have been working on.

During the Wii U’s development, we were able to see how ignorant Nintendo was to its Western consumers when Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Amie commented on the chance that the failed console would have Twitch support, a feature that allowed people to share and view gameplay experiences from the increasingly popular Twitch website. Fil-Aime would respond to a Polygon.com inquiry regarding this feature, claiming “We don’t think streaming 30 minutes of gameplay by itself is a lot of fun…” Ironically enough, Twitch would grow exponentially since that 2014 interview, making Nintendo’s foresight to be completely lacking.  Even further, Nintendo’s bizarre stance against any kind of Twitch support at all makes it difficult for fans of the long time gaming company to truly share their experiences with the company. Presently, there is no word on whether the Nintendo Switch will have Twitch support.

Nintendo needs to become more aware of its Western consumer base rather than hope that they conform or adapt to whatever marketing they have going for them domestically in Japan. The Switch has that capability to change their conservative stance on their hardware and software, but the poor choice to limit manufacturing to the West already shows that they are still abiding to these restrictive norms. The region freeness of the Switch is definitely a good first step, as it will allow American and European players to play what would normally be Japan exclusive titles, but more needs to be done for Nintendo to step back in as a leader in the console gaming experience.

Let It Die: A Fun, Fever Dream of a Game

The very underrated Let it Die has a lot to offer.

The very underrated Let it Die has a lot to offer.

When it comes to free-to-play games, I tend to avoid them whenever possible because they’re usually full of play to win (P2W) purchases that essentially milk you for money. When I was suggested to play Let it Die, a free to play hack and slash tower climbing game on the Ps4, I had some serious reservations. Created by Gungho, the developers who brought you the popular mobile puzzle game Puzzles and Dragons, I had thought Let it Die would be some bizarre tower defense game adapted from a mobile game to a console. The “bizarre” aspect indeed was there, but the game itself is so, so much more.

The best way I can explain my first few hours with Let It Die is probably like experiencing a waking fever dream. The characters you encounter in the opening sequences are beyond normal and the slapstick humor and fourth wall breaking is ripe in this game. At one point I wasn’t really sure what I was playing until the game’s frontrunner character Uncle Death humorously described the game to me as a “rouge-like hack and slash” game. The fact that a character from the game described the game to me was concerning, as if the developers may have been aware of their own disastrous mistake. Fortunately, that was not the case and was simply just another of a series of fourth wall breaking humor.

The game itself is a surprisingly entertaining and satisfying experience. The objective of the game is to take one of your many fighters up to the top of the “Tower of Barbs”, the main focus and location of the game. As you progress the floors, you unlock different classes of fighters that have stat specializations. You also unlock higher grades of these classes that allows for higher level fighters. The difficulty curve in this game is no joke as well. The higher the floors you go, the more increasingly difficult the enemies become, with mid bosses and floor bosses greeting you every few floors. The game definitely has a Dark Souls level of difficulty to it, which is very fun and rewarding if you’re able to survive. The bosses and major antagonists in the game are also an entertaining experience, both story wise and gameplay wise. The first boss alone has you braving a gauntlet set in a moving train that you can fall off in, filled with traps and tough enemies. Towards the end of the gauntlet you face the boss, without any checkpoints or save points (Not like there are any of those in the game save for the elevators).

The recently added multiplayer aspect of the game adds a new dimension to the tower crawling game. In this feature, you can head on over to another player’s “Waiting Room”, which is your personal hub area, and steal their Kill Coins and SPLithium, currencies within the game. Depending on the player, you will be faced with their defensive fighters placed in their Waiting Room as defense units and defeat them. On your end, you can set your own fighters as defense fighters to slow down and defeat any incoming invaders as well. The more SPLithium you obtain, the more you can optimize your Waiting Room to fend off these pesky players. Combat is based on fighting against opposing regional teams (I’m in the amazing Team California to represent my home state!) starting wars, and whoever has the highest win count is rewarded with a very generous prize of kill coins and SPLithium.

There is a unique charm to this game that I can’t properly convey to this game. The mechanics are solid and provide a good amount of replayability, which is important because you will be grinding the same floors over if you’re trying to keep your Waiting Room safe from attackers in multiplayer. However the biggest thing I love about this game is how completely bonkers the characters and story are. The fact that you essentially have death lugging body bags where your potential characters are in to the waiting room so you can prep them for battle is a nice mix of macabre and funny as hell. The likable characters and the dialogue they share with the player create this chaotic post-apocalyptic/nerdom infused narrative that completely compliments the bloody, gory craziness that is Let it Die.

The best thing about this game is probably the fact that the premium purchase items are of no real impact to the game in its entirety. The purchases are limited to either a developer support pack that provides a blueprint for a decent mid game weapon, premium currency that you can use to instantly revive your character or purchase more storage slots, and a 15$ month long bonus that gives you more player slots and an extra daily login reward. The monthly bonus also provides a free elevator ride and instant retreat during pvp, but I’ve tested the game without these benefits and you’re honestly OK to play the game without these features, although it does save you in game currency in the long term (although it’s not very difficult to amass a huge amount of kill coins). The blueprints you can get with these purchases really aren’t the best and many of the good end game weapons and armor are found easily through playing the game normally. The premium currency’s really convenient storage increase and revives do make the game somewhat easier, but revival can also be done by rescuing your character in exchange for kill coins. Sure, you won’t be able to revive on the spot, but honestly that feature is best saved for boss fights. The good thing however, is that you can actually score these premium “Death Metal” by completing challenging missions or through playing the multiplayer. So in all honesty, so long as you continue to play the game and unlock these challenge missions that reward Death Metals, you will never need to spend anything to get these nice benefits. The month long Direct Hell Express pass does provide the benefits of free elevator passage and instant evacuation for pvp, on top of the extra daily reward and player slots, but those features alone don’t necessarily break the game’s difficulty or make you more survivable; they are more implementations for player convenience rather than to pay to win the game.

Check out Let it Die on the Playstation Network, it’s a free download and Playstation Plus users get a free complimentary add on that gives you some items to start your climb to the top of the Tower of Barbs!

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