Hearthstone is getting its first expansion with Curse of Naxxramas

Apr 11, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas: A Hearthstone Adventure will be the first-ever expansion for Blizzard's free-to-play digital card game, featuring 30 new cards, a new game board and single-player class challenges.

The expansion takes the form of a card-based dungeon crawler, with five "wings" unlocking over as many weeks simultaneously on all platforms. Each will feature new single-player encounters with boss fights and unique cards. The first wing, The Arachnid Quarter, will be available for free to all Hearthstone players at launch. The remaining content, true to the game's free-to-play model, will be available either with real money orin-game gold.

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Hearthstone saw official release on PC last year, while the iOS version launched in Canada, Australia and New Zealand last week (though if you want to be sneaky, you can learn how to get around that here).

There's no word on the expansion's pricing or release at this time.

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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile Review

Apr 11, 2014

The first two episodes of The Wolf Among Us got me thinking about how interactive media can transcend games. After all, Telltale’s take on the world of Fables plays more like an interactive film than a traditional point-click-adventure.

With episode three, a new thought dawned on me: as much as Telltale’s approach to the medium can reinvent the way we tell stories, The Wolf Among Us is an equally brilliant example of how well suited this new form of storytelling is to mysteries.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile

Picking up where the cliffhanger in Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors left off, my initial thoughts weren’t of what’s next, but what came before. I found myself piecing together the bits and pieces of information I’d been fed, weighing them against the narrative, and starting to draw my own conclusions. Do I think their suspect is the guilty party? Why or why not? What evidence have I been shown to support it? And if I don’t think they are, what do the clues that have been revealed tell me about who the real killer might be?

It’s the digital equivalent of an Agatha Christie novel.

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Osmos made a cameo on The Simpsons this week

Apr 10, 2014

It’s been a few years since it first launched, but if you dust off your ol’ memory box, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of happy ones from your time with Hemisphere Games’ 2009 masterpiece Osmos. The game was later ported to mobile devices, winning Apple’s iPad Game of the Year award in 2010 – and, it would seem, the hearts and minds of The Simpsons show writers.

The internet was abuzz this week with talk of this week’s Minecraft couch gag on The Simpsons, but a voxelized Springfield wasn’t the only indie gaming nod on this week’s show. About halfway through the episode, when Milhouse learns that Bart has plenty of stolen goods – including Milhouse’s iPad – Bart suggests he relax to the soothing sounds of “this bubble game.”

We reached out to Hemisphere Games to see how this collaboration came about, and it turns out they were just as surprised as we were.

“We had no idea The Simpsons cameo was coming,” Hempishere’s Eddy Boxerman told Gamezebo. “Our jaws dropped in disbelief when we caught wind of it! As a few friends have said (and who are we to disagree?) ‘It's official -- Osmos is pop culture now!’”

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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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5 Student-Made Games You Need to Play

Apr 8, 2014

Every great game maker had to start somewhere – so why not school?

The fourth annual Level Up Student Showcase was held in Toronto this past weekend, showcasing the work of nearly 100 student-run development teams. Everything you could imagine was on display, from well-established genres to completely unique offerings unlike anything we’d ever seen.

There were plenty of great games to choose from, but there were five in particular that really screamed “the next big thing.” Don’t be surprised if you see these games – and their developers – making a big splash in the near future.

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Kentucky Route Zero Act III before the end of May

Apr 8, 2014

Here’s an interesting development that Kentucky Route Zero fans probably weren’t expecting. Series creators Cardboard Computer – who earlier this year told their fans that it was too big a project to really give an ETA – may now in fact have an ETA!

The team took to Twitter on March 29 to answer questions in a very tongue-in-cheek Magic 8-Ball sort of way. Much to my surprise, they provided a pretty solid answer to the following question from @HotAndSpicyMilk: “Act III before May 31, 2014?”

“signs point to yes.”

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Magic 8-Ball’s aren’t infallible, and if the team behind Kentucky Route Zero: Act III is to be believed, it’s a big enough game that unforeseen delays might be par for the course. That said, having a release window – any release window – is an exciting development from a studio who has publicly shunned them after their experiences announcing dates for Act I and Act II.

Here’s to hoping we’re back on the Zero before summer solstice hits. Something tells me that’ll be a weird place after that. Well… weirder, anyway.

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Mojang's Scrolls is (finally) coming to tablets

Apr 7, 2014

While everyone (with access to a Canadian iTunes account) has been furiously playing Hearthstone on their iPads this week, I’ve found myself thinking of similarly great strategy games that I wish I could play on my tablet. Chief among them? Scrolls.

A cards-meets-combat game that debuted in beta last summer (read our early impressions here), we’ve been hearing rumblings of a tablet version since 2011. Those rumblings have finally turned into a roar. In an update on Scrolls.com today, Mojang’s Owen Hill delivered the good news:

“An iPad/tablet version of Scrolls is in the works! We’ve enlisted the aid of Ludosity to port Scrolls into flatter, more touchy devices. We’ll have more news on this soon.”

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This is great new for fans of Scrolls (or, really, strategy games in general). Ludosity has already wowed us once this year with Card City Nights, and their 2013 release Ittle Dew was one of our picks for the top games of the year.

That wraps up your fantastic multiplayer strategy news for the day. Now get back to playing Hearthstone, you crazy kids.

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Sometimes you just need to play Tetris on a giant building

Apr 7, 2014

Want to feel old? This summer Tetris turns 30. And like anyone entering their thirties, sometimes you just want to kiss your youth goodbye in the biggest way possible.

That happened for Tetris this past weekend, when Alexey Pajitnov’s puzzle classic was played on the side of The Cira Centre; a 29-storey skyscraper in Philadelphia.

The massive project was undertaken by Dr. Frank Lee, a professor at Drexel University (who you might know better as the guy who put Pong on the side of The Cira Centre last year). According to a press release put out by The Tetris Company, Lee is hoping to break the Guiness World Record for Largest Architectural Video Game Display, which – you guessed it – he already holds for Pong.

Playing Tetris on the side of a giant building is cool and all, but it’s not half as exciting as the real story behind the first few years of the game. If you have an hour to kill, be sure to check out this great documentary for a taste of Cold War video game craziness.

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Advertising as Art: Free To Play isn't a documentary, but it is a fascinating experience

Apr 7, 2014

If a documentary is meant to provide an objective view of real-life stories, Free to Play is an utter failure. It's a puff piece -- a bit of advertising meant to show the positive influence of a product.

Free to Play is a "documentary" about Dota 2 made by Valve, the proprietors of Dota 2. As a result you shouldn't really expect it to provide a negative or even balanced depiction of their own product and, more specifically, esports.

Snippets of match announcers and interviews with team managers constantly drive home just how big, how swift, how valid professional gaming has become. It may be true; I quite enjoy it myself, so I can’t entirely deny that it’s something worth exploring. However, it’s a story that’s perhaps best not taken at face value from the people who stand to profit most.

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Of course, that doesn't mean the stories on display are bad, or the film itself uninteresting. In fact, it's a quite well-put-together little piece that provides a fascinating, if not particularly fair, view of three young people exploring a new form of entertainment.

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4 Upcoming Indie Games You Won't Want To Miss At PAX East 2014

Apr 7, 2014

From April 11th through the 13th, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is going to be crammed with tens of thousands of people in attendance for the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East convention. In attendance at the convention will also be the iconic Indie Megabooth, a showcase of indie game developers. At the Indie Megabooth this year there will be over one-hundred games for convention attendees to check out, which is almost double last year's count.

We've checked out the full list of indie games that will be at PAX East and narrowed it down to four upcoming indie games that attendees will not want to miss.

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