The Elder Scrolls Online Review Diary: First Impressions and Combat

Apr 10, 2014

MMOs tend to open with flashy, pre-rendered cutscenes to show of just how cool their universe is meant to feel. Seasoned players know this is just smoke and mirrors -- something to draw in the pedestrian crowd and invoke the "feeling" of what's actually conveyed by digital dice rolls and numbers leaping from wild boars' heads.

The Elder Scrolls Online isn't really so different in the first sense. There's a lovely, action-packed trailer with all the excitement of chains crashing through the sky and wizard/barbarian types thrashing about demon-y things.

Like all Elder Scrolls games, however, you start much more humbly -- as a prisoner. You've been taken to Coldharbour and had your soul removed. One of the big bads of The Elder Scrolls mythos needs it -- and those of several million of like-minded players -- to continue being evil. You escape from this contrived tutorial, of course, and the game drops you on Cyrodiil proper in one of three starting islands.

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Where you end up at first is determined by which faction you choose. Literally nothing is done to explain what choosing a faction means. I had to hit up the game's website to learn the Ebonheart Pact includes the vikings, lizard people and dark elves. These being the raddest of Elder Scrolls species, I obviously chose their alliance and wound up in Morrowind.

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What’s the longest the average user plays a mobile game?

Apr 10, 2014

If you guessed less than 24 hours, you’re a winner.  Which means if you’re a mobile game developer spending money to acquire new users, you probably are not a winner.  

In an exclusive to Re/code, Swrve revealed the results of a 90-day tracking survey of 10 million players, indicating that 19% of players open a game only once and 66% stop playing within the first 24 hours.  Of the player that stay, 53% of their spending occurs within the first seven days of playing.  

Meaning, the average game player will leave a game within 24 hours, and the average game spender will be of little value after the first week.

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If the name Swrve sounds familiar, they are the firm that released a study earlier this year that suggested that .15% of all mobile gamers are responsible for 50% of total revenues

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Trials Frontier Walkthrough

Apr 10, 2014

Trials Frontier is a stunt racing / biking game from Ubisoft. In this game, you ride a bike through an apocalyptic Western setting while performing stunts and trying to get the best of a nasty racer named Butch.  Gamezebo’s walkthrough will provide you with some tips and hints that will help you ride like the wind.

Trials Frontier

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Big trouble in Tiny Thief: Rovio charging consumers for content they already bought

Apr 9, 2014

Late last week, Rovio Stars and 5 Ants announced that their game, Tiny Thief, would shed its $2.99 price tag and become a free-to-play game with in-app purchases. The new, free version of Tiny Thief features three levels (fifteen stages total) for free, with the option for players to purchase the fourth and fifth levels for $1.99 each. To the dismay of Android gamers who already owned the entire game, this update locks previous owners out of the final two levels, forcing everyone to pay to access the content.

That's right, Rovio took content away from buyers who already owned the access to it. As far as we can tell, there is nothing different from the original game beyond a new sixth level which is, not surprisingly, behind a paywall. Former Tiny Thief owners are upset at the sudden loss of access to the game.

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"This game gave me hope for mobile gaming," one person posted as a review on the Tiny Thief Google Play page, "[it was] an awesome game you paid for up front without this "free to play" money extortion stuff going on. Now however it seems corporate cash grubbing got the better of even that tiny dream."

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Battle Casters Preview: To the dungeon, and quickly!

Apr 9, 2014

Looking at Get Set Games existing catalog, it’s not hard to see the “Three C” approach at work. With past efforts like Mega Jump and Mega Run under their belts, you can’t deny that “cute, cuddly and casual” are the adjectives that seem to work best. Their next project, though, goes in the direction of a very different C: challenging.

Last week, Gamezebo was invited to Get Set Games studio in Toronto to go hands-on with Battle Casters, their upcoming dual-stick dungeon crawlfor mobile devices. While the gameplay still remains pick-up-and-play friendly, there’s a level of ferocity in the game design that their existing fans might be surprised by. It’s an action-packed experience that puts players on a timer with an incredibly short fuse.

Battle Casters

The object of the game is to proceed through different floors of a dungeon within a set time limit. If you complete a floor you’ll get a time bonus and a quick trip to the next floor. If you don’t, you’ll be right back at square one. 

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Fox goes ape@#$% over early Family Guy game videos

Apr 9, 2014

What a difference a day can make. Last night – roughly 24 hours before the official launch of TinyCo’s Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, the game accidentally snuck onto the New Zealand App Store for a short period of time. Gamers who noticed had just assumed the game had soft launched and, as any fans of Family Guy might have, decided to download it. And like a lot of folks who download games nowadays, they made videos to show off what they were playing.

Bad move, gamers.

In what one could only describe as an epic PR fail/complete misunderstanding of their audience, Fox went a little nutty and decided to try and shut down players who were showing the game a smidge too early. Touch Arcade has the full story, using their forum member HansKaosu’s experience to illustrate the point. In short, HansKaosu received a polite YouTube message from Fox asking him to remove the content, followed by a copyright claim against his videos, and… then Fox had his Twitch channel shut down. Like, completely. It’s been nuked.

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Evolution: Battle for Utopia Walkthrough

Apr 9, 2014

Evolution: Battle for Utopia is a free-to-play base building action game created by My.com. And while you might be given a gun-toting robot dog companion right from the start, ol’ FIDO won’t cut it forever. Gamezebo’s quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.

Evolution: Battle for Utopia

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James Bond is getting a mobile game courtesy of Glu

Apr 8, 2014

You know who’s had a spotty record in the world of video games? Bond. James Bond. GoldenEye was a genre-defining success back in 1997, but everything that’s come before and after has been sort of… meh. Having said that, everyone’s favorite super spy has yet to try his hand at the most popular platforms of today: smartphones and tablets – which seems ironic, considering the iPhone seems like a gadget that only a 70s-era Bond film could have predicted.

But that’s about to change courtesy of free-to-play mobile powerhouse Glu. Expected to launch in summer 2015 (that’s not a typo), their untitled Bond project will be “inspired by the franchise's rich history, themes, characters, and narrative,” or so says a press release.

In other words, they’re keeping mum on the details.

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Still, Glu has a pretty stellar track record in the world of free-to-play. Not only do they deliver games that frequently appeal to the action-oriented gamer, but they do it with plenty of visual style and flair. Details or no details, this one seems like one to watch.

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Card Hunter gets its first expansion, Attack of the Artifacts, later this month

Apr 8, 2014

You may think you’ve conquered everything Card Hunter could throw at you, but the truth is that you’ve only bested all the challenges Blue Manchu’s RPG-meets-CCG-meets-tabletop game has offered up so far. An expansion called Attack of the Artifacts is on the way before the end of April, bringing with it new monsters from beneath the Black Plume Mountain to put even the savviest players to the test.

Creatures like Thought Munchers, Umber Bulks, Plant Pygmies and the awesome-sounding Sharkbear are waiting in Attack of the Artifacts’ new adventures. Naturally, there are also new cards and weapons to aid your cause, adding to the strategic options the game already has in abundance.

Fancy more PvP? The expansion introduces organized league play with new multiplayer boards and prizes ranging from Papa Manchu pizza (the in-game currency of the realm) to treasure chests and special figures. Maybe you’ll even earn more grudging respect from Melvin, but don’t get your hopes up.

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Card Hunter left me hungry for more when it debuted last year, so more content is welcome news -- and don’t forget, it’s coming to mobile too. There’s no information on a hard release date or a price (if any, as the base game is free-to-play), but seeing as we’re already more than a week into the month, it won’t be a long wait.

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Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance Review: Warhammer? More like Snorehammer

Apr 8, 2014

Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance is something called a "lane strategy game," and yes, that's "lane," not "lame," although truth be told... well, never mind. I don't want to spoil any surprises, and it's not an awful game by any stretch. It's just not very good, as either a strategy game or a Warhammer title.

"Lane strategy games," as far as I can tell, are those in which enemy forces approach one another on a battlefield composed of – you guessed it – lanes, meeting and clashing in a kind of a "Showdown at the O.K. Bowling Alley." Plants vs. Zombies is probably the best-known (and quite possibly the only known) example of the genre, and it's the game that most quickly springs to mind as a comparison. Sadly, that's not because Storm of Vengeance shares that game's wit, artistry or excitement – it doesn't. The resemblance is purely mechanical and, as I soon discovered, somewhat superficial.

Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance

Rather than an attack-and-defend scenario, in this game the player and the AI-controlled enemy send forces against each other, one side representing the Dark Angel Space Marines and the other the Ork Waaagh!, each occupying opposite ends of a battlefield composed of five lanes. Units are created by collecting and spending resources – Redemption for the Space Marines, Teef for the Orks – and can be immediately sent on their way or stored, in very limited numbers, for later use.

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