Joystiq Weekly: Titanfall review, BAFTA Awards, NPD data and more

Welcome to Joystiq Weekly, a "too long; didn't read" of each week's biggest stories, reviews and original content. Each category's top story is introduced with a reactionary gif, because moving pictures aren't just for The Daily Prophet.

Titanfall is one of those games that's fun even if you're not playing it. Watching a group of friends suffer the fallout from a crumbling strategy plan is easy to laugh about, especially as the final pilot from their crew gets run over by a Titan. It seems that, despite a few hiccups on Xbox Live's side of things, fans have also been able to enjoy a relatively smooth launch. An online-oriented experience that doesn't stumble its way into functionality? We know, it's crazy.

We've got a review of both the game and the online experience, but if giant robots aren't really your thing, we've got our take on Dark Souls 2, Towerfall: Ascension and Yoshi's New Island, too. This week also brought us fresh NPD data, a Costume Quest 2 reveal and more, all of which is neatly compiled for you after the break in the Joystiq Weekly.
[Image: Respawn]
News
  • It's time to solve the NPD data puzzle to the best of our abilities again, and the partially-finished picture shows the PS4 as the winning hardware in February. The Xbox One isn't exactly far behind, though - the NPD group reports that Microsoft's multimedia box sold 90 percent of what the PS4 did, earning the highest console sales by dollar amount for the month. Which makes sense, since the One and its finicky, packed-in Kinect cost $100 more than the PS4. Nintendo had some success with software, swinging 130,000 sales of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in its first eight days.
  • Because The Last of Us hasn't earned enough awards, The BAFTA Games Awards hosted its event this week to pile on a few more, including accolades for Best Story, Audio Achievement and Best Game. Naughty Dog wasn't the only recognized studio, though - Fullbright walked away with the Debut Game award for Gone Home, and Starbreeze Studios earned the Game Innovation award with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Tearaway and Grand Theft Auto 5 also won three awards each.
  • Lots of people have strapped jetpacks to themselves to enlist in Titanfall's futuristic war, but all Mac users can do is look on from the sidelines. That may change though, according to recent tweets from Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella. The messages note that Respawn is "talking to Aspyr," a studio specializing in Mac ports. While it's no confirmation, at least it seems like a possibility that Titans will eventually brawl their way across another platform.
  • The RBI Baseball series is back and swinging for the fences with RBI Baseball 14, a modern take on the two-button slugger. The digital-only release will include an exhibition, season and post-season modes and will opt for building teams from three body types, much like the simplified originals.
  • Developer Double Fine must have wised up to the "go around the block and come back" trick some of us used to do on Halloween, because Costume Quest 2 has been announced for an October 31 release. We don't know which platforms will be hit up for full-size candy bars yet, but we do know that it follows Wren and Reynold, the stars of the first Costume Quest.
  • Tired of having to drive to the nearest Redbox to rent games? It seems like you'll be spared from the chore soon by the PlayStation Store, which displayed (non-functional) options for digital rentals this week. The new service appears to be a part of the PlayStation Now streaming service, which should launch later this summer.
  • Driveclub missed the turn to launch with the PS4, as was originally planned, and we're still waiting for it to return from its detour. It appears we'll be waiting for a while too, because Scott Rohde, development head for Sony Worldwide Studios America, has said that the game has gone "back to the drawing board" for the sake of quality. For now, there's no new release window to expect Driveclub to roll up in.
  • Peggle 2 and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare were pretty great additions to PopCap's portfolio, but this week brought a bit of news that can't be celebrated. The studio suffered layoffs that parent company EA described as "painful" as well as "necessary in order to say on course with our future plans."
  • Have you ever felt kind of proud about how many trophies or achievements you've accumulated throughout your gaming career? Well pack it in, because Raymond Cox just cleared 1,000,000 Gamerscore this week with the release of Titanfall. Yup, we're basically peasants in comparison.

Reviews
  • Titanfall has landed, ensuring that we'll never want to solve another conflict in our lives without help from a giant robot that can be set to autopilot. Editor-in-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann dropped into Respawn Entertainment's six against six first-person shooter, finding a lot to love in the "rising, falling, rising tension" of fighting with and without Titans.
  • Praise the sun! Dark Souls 2, the continuation of developer From Software's mercilessly difficult action RPG series, has begun laying traps and siccing monsters on its fanbase. Contributing Editor Sinan Kubba braved the dangers awaiting us in the world of Drangleic, finding an "almost manageable" challenge with its placement of checkpoints and less devilish pathways in comparison to the rest of the Souls series.
  • Yoshi's back for another round of babysitting in Yoshi's New Island, this time hauling Baby Mario through pastel-colored levels. Managing Editor Susan Arendt persevered through Baby Mario's shrieks, finding the new giant egg ammunition and tilt controls a bit underwhelming. Still, while Susan describes Yoshi's vacation as a "by-the-numbers" venture, she adds that it at least "hits those numbers very well."
  • Need to settle a score with friends or write a new chapter for your rivalry? The multiplayer-focused archery fest, Towerfall: Ascension, is happy to host fresh challenges to your friendships. Senior Reporter Jess Conditt took on a few friends in the blur of pixelated arrows, musing that if Towerfall had released alongside Super Mario Bros. in the '80s, "many of us may have never found the princess."

Original Content
  • Just because a game is focused on online gameplay doesn't mean it's going to work at launch, or even months after the game's release. Reading reviews of a game's design doesn't help you plan for that, but Joystiq's State of Service reviews will. State of Service will follow the service stability of a title for its first month on the market, and we started keeping track of Titanfall's functionality this week.
  • Speaking of Titanfall, the Joystiq crew had such a great time getting decimated in the game's beta, we decided to get blown to bits in a second livestream. If you're aiming to put up a more valiant fight in your futuristic, rock-em-sock-em robot fights than we did, you can plan accordingly with our Titanfall edition of 'Stiq Tips. Here's a bonus tip: don't eject from your Titan indoors! There are ceilings in there.
  • While everyone else was busy jump-kicking Titan pilots, Jess roped in Towerfall: Ascension creator Matt Thorson for a livestream demonstration of what happens when you get shot with an arrow. If you need to ensure your absolute victory before friends come over for couch-based multiplayer, we've got you covered again with a fresh edition of 'Stiq Tips. Go on, be the champion of your friends group - just, you know, don't do an endzone dance when you win for the thirtieth time.
  • With all these Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects, do you ever wonder what the large-scale trends are in their success, or if they're really feasible for less-than-celebrity developers? Contributing Editor Mike Suszek is way ahead of you: in his latest installment in the Crowdfund Bookie report, Mike pits this month's fundraising success against funding trends from previous time periods. He also highlights the projects and game genres that are currently thriving in the crowdfunding space. There are even fancy charts, in case you like pictures with your numbers!
  • Are you violently unsatisfied with gaming information unless it can be consumed through your ear holes? Good thing the Super Joystiq Podcast is about as reliable as the sunrise - alongside Ludwig in this week's episode is Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell, News Content Director Alexander Sliwinski and Community Manager Anthony John Agnello. The crew talk about what makes Titanfall so great, what makes Dark Souls 2 so satisfying, and why State of Service is necessary in the modern gaming space.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.