Joystiq Weekly: Battlefield 4's launch, an Entwined review, E3 previews 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.

Joystiq celebrated its tenth anniversary of existence this week, which means ... we're teetering on that edge of middle school angst? No, no, we're thankfully immune to that. What it does mean is that we're still alive, and we think being alive is pretty okay!

While the site has presumably made it this far because of its content, quality isn't sustainable on its own – we've been able to write news, produce videos, record podcasts and talk about video games for years because of all of you. Whether you stop in every day, have only read a single breaking news story from us, or you've just fallen down an impressive wrong turn on the Internet and have no idea why you're here: Thank you. Your patronage is a huge part of why we get to cover this industry, and we look forward to creating compelling content for you for another 10 years.

Speaking of content, there's a ton of it this week: EA CEO Andrew Wilson addressed Battlefield 4's launch, we have reviews for Entwined and Pushmo World, and there's an avalanche of written previews and video interviews from E3, all waiting for you in a neat pile of bulletpoints. Dive in after the break, right after you drop off our presents next to the cake.

  • Do you roll your eyes at Let's Players on YouTube and snark that their content is obnoxious or low-substance trash? That's fine, the pack's leaders certainly aren't missing any potential viewers – in particular, the Wall Street Journal reports that Pewdiepie is now raking in $4 million per year through his special brand of shouting-over-video-games absurdity. Pewdiepie attributes his success to the intimate feeling between fans and livestreamers, explaining that it's "almost like hanging around and watching your pal play games."
  • Now that EA CEO Andrew Wilson has commented on Battlefield 4's launch situation, frustrated owners aren't the only ones that would describe spending months waiting for their purchased game to work as "unacceptable." Wilson added that post-launch improvements have placed the online-oriented shooter where it "absolutely should have been at launch," but he also makes no promises that it won't happen again: "It would be disingenuous for me to sit here and say, ' we will never have an issue again,' because that would mean we were never going to push the boundaries again." Did we mention that you can pre-order Battlefield Hardline?
  • Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has revisited the fan-desired concept of Wii U games supporting multiple GamePads, but his examination of the situation isn't what they want to hear: "We're still trying to get as many people as possible to buy the system itself, and that's where our focus is right now." While Miyamoto mused that the concept of dual GamePad games is technically possible, he added that Nintendo doesn't currently think it's realistic to expect Wii U owners to have two GamePads at this time.
  • Unlike recent Forza games, Forza Horizon 2 will launch without microtransaction-based tokens. Creative Director Ralph Fulton explained that the decision to drop the real-to-spacebucks dollar conversion was made to "enable you, at very regular intervals, to be able to change your car." Considering Forza fans will plop down $60 to drive away with Horizon 2 at launch, we imagine the sentiment is more than appreciated.
  • Just because Rare and Lionhead Studios' modern output hasn't been embraced as well as either team's past doesn't mean that everyone has moved on from them: Microsoft reaffirmed their contentment with having both in their deck of developer-shaped cards this week, describing them as "crown jewels" to the Microsoft Studios division. We know that Lionhead is plugging away at Fable Legends, but we're all waiting around to see what the next project from Rare will be, with Microsoft working with the team to determine whatever the next step is.
  • Console-specific bonus content is less annoying if you own the right system, and now PS4 owners know exactly what they'll be getting over their Destiny brethren adventuring into space on other consoles. Guns, the Dust Palace strike mission, the Exodus Blue Crucible arena map and a piece of armor for each class will be specifically available to PS4 users at Destiny's launch, but the PlayStation Store listing describes the extra content as a timed exclusive. If you're an Xbox One owner that's dying to have any of this, maybe the waiting game is your best bet.
  • Zombies have this tendency of spreading like a real-world epidemic. Luckily for PC users, they're completely susceptible to this infection, as Dead Rising 3's mass of squishy, choppable zombies has sunk its teeth into a September release for the platform. If you already know you're interested, you can save a bit of cash by pre-ordering DR3 on Steam for $44.99, a 10 percent discount off the normal $49.99.

  • Love can be beautiful in its simplicity, a truth shared in Entwined's visual presentation and construction of fish-and-bird-shaped protagonists from triangles. Weekend Editor Sam Prell played matchmaker with the unlikely couple, guiding each through respective targets with thumbsticks as they soared through tunnel-shaped stages, eventually joining to form a dragon. Sam remarks that Entwined serves best as a "relaxation tool" that carries a frustrating flaw: failing to fly through several consecutive targets without error will not only curb a player's evolution, it causes the game to hiccup "just before you reach the next set of targets; a single image gets frozen onscreen as the game itself continues." Sam assures that it's a brief problem, but one that happens enough to become an annoyance.
  • The mind-melting style of block puzzles starring Mallo debuts on the Wii U with Pushmo World. Community Manager Anthony John Agnello pushed, pulled and dragged his way through the fresh pile of block-based brainteasers, finding the absence of falling blocks to serve as a "simpler, but ultimately more appealing" extension of the series' debut on 3DS. The option of creating your own puzzles returns in this version via Pushmo Studio, and Anthony insists the big-screen presentation "elevates this version of the tool over that in the 3DS original." Even when entirely stumped on a stage that seems impossible, Anthony concludes that Pushmo World is "well worth visiting."

Featured Content
  • For such a massive universe, Reviews Content Director seemingly hasn't found an answer to the biggest question posed by No Man's Sky: "What do you do?" A hands-off demonstration with Hello Games Founder and Managing Director Sean Murray didn't supply a full answer, but it did show Richard that the game's E3 gameplay trailer was carefully calculated rather than staged. Richard continued his questioning on camera too, exploring Hello Games' radical departure from the scope of its previous game, Joe Danger, and Murray's fondness for heading into a game with questions rather than having every single detail mapped out.
  • Bringing a friend along to raid tombs sounds like a great idea until you realize you'll be sharing treasure. Richard's time with an E3 demo suggests Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris amplifies that edge of competitive teamwork by adding up to two more raiders to the formula. Richard's written preview highlights Osiris' "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to continuing the series, with his video interview exploring the sequel's inception as well as hopes for the return of one of Crystal Dynamic's other characters.
  • Far Cry 4 is a departure from Far Cry 3 in more than just its scenery: Editor-In-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann discussed the motives the motives of FC4 protagonist Ajay Ghale with Narrative Director Mark Thompson, comparing the HImilayan native's motivation to overthrow the game's antagonist to the incentives held by FC3's Jason Brody. In their conversation, Thompson stresses that Ghale is not leading the surrounding world through FC4's hardships; rather, he's "helping them."
  • Based on Sam's viewing of a Pillars of Eternity alpha-build demonstration at E3, it sounds like the RPG wears its influences a little more bluntly than other modern adventures. Sam describes the game's combat as a middle point between real-time and turn-based battles, complete with a Dungeons and Dragons-influenced visual aid depicting the timeline of each unit's turns. "Roll for initiative"-style scripted interactions are present as well, but with pre-rendered backgrounds and rampant, text-only descriptions requiring an active imagination, Sam walked away with an impression that Pillars of Eternity's elements are definitely "rooted in something older than itself."
  • The Oculus Rift can make it seem like you're viewing an entirely different world, but immersion-breaking controllers are still the primary option for interacting with those virtual spaces. Contributing Editor Mike Suszek tried out Control VR's finger-tracking gloves at E3 to see if gamepads could eventually be left behind, and Control VR CEO Alex Sarnoff joined him on camera to discuss the technology's potential applications, both gaming-related and beyond.
  • Just because a controller is required for most experiences doesn't mean everything is lost from the experience, however - Senior Reporter Jess Conditt prowled through a VR-supplemented build of Alien: Isolation during E3, and, well ... you can watch how well that went. To be fair, going up against a drooling, pointy Xenomorph with nothing more than a motion tracker and a flashlight isn't exactly a fair match.
  • When the average person is caught snooping around, there's usually a correcting punishment. When PlayStation VP of Publisher Relations Adam Boyes is caught snooping around intellectual property, it results in Grim Fandango being announced for the PS4 and Vita. Ludwig spoke with Boyes on camera about the incident at E3, covering Boyes' reasons for sneaking around in the first place as well as the person who eventually noticed.
  • You can't be blamed if a developer citing Twitter as dialog inspiration inspires dread of C-grade comedy-laced writing, but Mike's time with Night In The Woods seems more promising than that. Writer Scott Benson told Mike that he feels he was able to display "the same kind of cadence and kind of vague feelings" in protagonist Mae and her friends as you would find scrolling through your newsfeed. Night In The Woods focuses on that answer-less time of life between youth and adulthood, and Benson describes its focus as less about saving the world and more about "the actual stuff that means something to you, the heartbreaks and disappointments."
  • Monster Hunter veterans probably see future wardrobes and weaponry in towering beasts rather than a menacing threat at this point, but Monster Hunter 4 will use verticality to challenge players in ways they've yet to conquer. Mike chatted with series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto while demoing the game at E3, learning about the new Insect Glaive weapon that will help hunters reach airborne adversaries. The Glaive lets players shoot an insect-like creature at an enemy or essentially pogo themselves up from the ground to deliver a jumping attack.
  • Between player deaths and the legions of enemies we put to rest, most video games could amass a pretty extensive graveyard. Let It Die won't let slain characters lie though – rather, it revives corpses left from botched attempts at surviving and sends them to face players in other games. Executive Producer Kazuki Morishita and Goichi "Suda 51" Suda described the concept to Richard in a video interview this week, using an adorable diagram to show the flight path of players' ghosts on their way to haunt the worlds of other players.
  • Comfort food is great and all, but trying to live solely off Philly cheesesteaks and pizza rolls would probably do you in at some point. On a more minor, less lethal scale, Sam reminds us that the same idea can be applied to gaming habits. Despite having zero history with the series, Sam was won over by Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments during E3, driving home the point that Sam was his "own biggest obstacle to discovering something new and exciting." So heed his advice, go crazy and try a new genre! With surprise food allergies out of the equation, what's the worst that can happen?
  • Speaking of Crimes and Punishments, Managing Editor Susan Arendt recently praised one of its qualities that's fairly rare to come across in its crimesolving competitors: an allowance for failure. Susan argues that it's tough to feel brilliant when detective games coax you along a single narrative path, quickly curbing missteps with "Game Over" screens to keep you on track. Criminal Punishments lets you muck up cases, though, badly enough to "draw wrong conclusions and even send the wrong person to prison." That willingness to let players do some actual detective work is something Susan hopes future games offer more of, both for the sense of accomplishment and to "give the bad guys a sporting chance."
  • If you've ever wondered what a year of Kickstarter and Indiegogo data looks like, you don't have to: Mike was kind enough to track crowdsourced gaming projects for a full year in Crowdfund Bookie, and this column's conclusion takes a step back from the month-to-month perspective to look at the bigger picture. In this week's installment, Mike breaks down total donations per genre, which months backers felt most generous in, and lists the top 20 most successful fundraisers.
  • Have you ever wanted a coat made from the hides of Joystiq writers? Please, uh ... please say no. Don't support News Content Director Cruella De Vil Alexander Sliwinski's surprising new fashion idea, which was sprung on potential contributors Jess, Ludwig and Richard in this week's Super Joystiq Podcast. With E3 behind us, the team decompresses by mulling over the Destiny alpha, the concept of preloading, Titan Souls and the industry's increasing fondness for early access.
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