Joystiq Weekly: EA Access, Divinity: Original Sin review, The Last Of Us revisited 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.
EA announced EA Access this week, a monthly or yearly service that gives subscribers a digital library of games from the publisher's catalog. PlayStation Plus and Games With Gold are comfortable ideas at this point, but for such a substantial publisher to start their own service on a console without making any hardware themselves? That's pretty interesting.

Hopefully we won't see a flood or other publishers launching competitors for PlayStation and Xbox's services, though. Paying one monthly fee for Netflix and maybe two monthly fees for video games is manageable, but if the console space starts feeling crowded with subscription services, we can imagine the sense of value will be continually reduced with each additional arrival. Then again, we could probably stomach one more if Nintendo cooked up something for the Virtual Console...

There's way more to this week than pondering our breaking point for monthly subscription fees though. Capcom, Sony and Nintendo had earnings reports, Homefront: The Revolution got adopted by Deep Silver's parent company, and PlayStation Now entered its open beta. It's all waiting for you after the break!
News
  • All those red flags finally amounted to something: Homefront: The Revolution has been purchased by publisher Deep Silver's parent company, meaning developer Crytek UK is no longer involved. Deep Silver's freshly-established Dambuster Studio is now continuing The Revolution.
  • Subscription services aren't just for console manufacturers anymore: EA Access was announced for Xbox One this week, standing as a $5 per month or $30 per year service that grants subscribers a digital library of EA games. Battlefield 4, Peggle 2, FIFA 14 and Madden NFL 25 are all in, but subscriptions also grant a 10 percent discount on digital EA content and a five-day headstart on big EA titles, before their official release. If you're wondering why EA Access is just on Xbox One, a Sony representative told Game Informer that Sony doesn't think the service brings "the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect."
  • A la carte isn't dead and gone, of course, as displayed by this week's launch of PlayStation Now's open beta. The service can stream PS3 games from Sony's servers to PS4s, with rental periods ranging from 4 hours, 7 days, 30 days or 90 days. There aren't flat prices in place for each rental period though, so make sure you observe each game's details carefully before paying. If it all seems a little steep for you, there's always the option of waiting for Sony to talk about PlayStation Now's subscription model, which Sony says is "definitely something in the works."
  • Speaking of subscription services, there's a fresh batch of games available now for Xbox Live Gold members. Xbox 360 owners can download Motorcross Madness, with Xbox One users being offered Crimson Dragon and Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut. Dishonored will also be part of this month's offerings, once it slips out from the shadows on August 16.
  • PlayStation Plus members can't start on their service's incoming wave of games until Tuesday, but anticipation is part of the fun, right? August's offerings include Road Not Taken and Fez on PS4, though the latter will also be available for PS3 and Vita. PS3 users can scoop up Crysis 3, or switch between their PS3 and Vita for the cross-play compatible Proteus and Dragon's Crown. Metrico will also be offered, but it's a strictly on-the-go Vita adventure.
  • You've got to release games to sell games, a truth Capcom acknowledges in its earnings report for the first quarter of its 2014-2015 fiscal year. A 45.1 percent drop in net sales in comparison to the previous year is rough, but at least Capcom said that Dead Rising 3 has "continued to show a robust sale" since its launch on the Xbox One. Mobile titles Monster Hunter GG and Monster Hunter Freedom Unite have also performed admirably. Despite the drop compared to last year, Capcom's earnings forecast for the year remains unadjusted.
  • While we're talking business, Nintendo isn't doing so hot either. The company's April-to-June quarter concluded with a 9.924 billion yen ($97.2 million) net loss, despite the launch of Mario Kart 8 on May 30, sales of which accounted for 64 percent of Nintendo's 4.39 million software shipments in the quarter. 510,000 home consoles and 820,000 3DS handhelds were shipped, the latter of which is a bit lacking compared to the 1.4 million shipped at this time last year.
  • Not everybody's quarter was rough though – Sony's earnings report highlighted a net profit of 26.8 billion yen (about $265 million), a 757 percent spike compared to last year's numbers. Sales also rose by 5.8 percent, and the PS4 helped Sony's gaming division achieve a 95.7 percent year-on-year rise in revenue. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a reality check for all this good news: Sony still expects to lose 50 billion yen ($486 million) for the fiscal year ending in March 2015, with the electronics giant still in the middle of a transitional period.
  • If Destiny's three-person Strike teams can be considered a crowd, its beta might be comparable to a stampede: more than 4.6 million players got in some early practice in Bungie's incoming universe, with Activision noting it as the "largest console beta ever for a new video game IP to date."
  • Consoles seem to debut in shades that blend into entertainment centers, but we'd be interested to see a living space that coordinates with the Gaystation 4. The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer rights (RFSL) is offering the one-of-a-kind PS4 up for auction, with all proceeds benefiting the RSFL Newcomers. At the time of this writing, the Gaystation's top bid is 20,300 Swedish Krona, the equivalent of about $2,959.
  • Earlier this week, GaymerX2 founder Matt Conn made public an email from publisher NIS America, which informed Conn that a previously-offered sum of $3,000 could no longer be honored. NIS America reversed its decision the next day, but that change followed several developers and publishers offering $3,000 donations to support a hypothetical event in 2015. Conn and NIS America have resolved their situation, and while Conn said that a 2015 GaymerX convention isn't planned for now, he'll be reaching out to those that offered donations to a future event this week.
  • You should have Watch Dogs' vision of Chicago all cleaned up by now, right? So spotless of crime that you've nothing left to do? Well, a recent tweet from the game's official Twitter account suggests you'll next be taking to the streets of Camden, New Jersey, where a 24/7 surveillance program has just been put into effect. The announcement presumably has something to do with the DLC offered in Watch Dogs' season pass, and it sounds like we can expect to arrive in Camden sometime this fall.

Reviews
  • Divinity: Original Sin unabashedly wears its heritage on its sleeve, recalling a style of RPG that's happy to let you make mistakes and let you truly venture. Though Contributing Editor Sinan Kubba found his first few hours with the vague quest line and fussy interaction commands "a bit overwhelming," he welcomed Original Sin's unrestricted gameplay, a style where "if you think you can do something, you can probably do it." Original Sin makes choices a matter of persuading your party, which Sinan describes as an "unusual – and optimal – way of creating adversity" that avoids the typical stat-boosting, choice-controlling skill trees. Sinan also finds Original Sin's turn-based combat to be a "humble but brilliant platform for the game's depth," an element that keeps you "constantly on your toes" in its diversity of challenges.
  • Oddworld: New N Tasty is a re-imagining of 1997's Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, but Weekend Editor Sam Prell wouldn't use the word "remake." Featuring "new gameplay, extended objectives and modern conveniences," New N Tasty follows slave-worker Abe's attempt to save himself and 299 of his coworkers from being processed into tasty snacks. Sam remarks that New N Tasty's world is "charming, and bursting with personality," though a few of its areas will "test your patience as much as they test your jumping skills." These troublesome zones aren't helped by Abe's finicky short jump, and when Abe is facing stretches of land mines, there's not much room for I-didn't-mean-to jumps. Despite that, added checkpoints and scrolling puzzle room views aid New N Tasty's leap to modern platforms, with Sam determining that this revisit is "more than a simple re-skin of nostalgia, and offers a compelling adventure with contemporary design that will satisfy most anyone's puzzle-platformer appetite."
  • Have you navigated the App Store lately? It can feel like its worthwhile content is buried in clones and duds, but Managing Editor Susan Arendt dug through the trash to find Ephemerid, a rhythm-game and musical storybook hybrid starring a mayfly. Susan explains that the "fun – and frustration – of Ephemerid is figuring out what each level wants you to do." Despite an absence of radical shifts in controlling mechanics, a varied batch of environments and scenarios mean it "isn't always immediately obvious" what you're supposed to be doing. Despite that, Susan calls Ephemerid's environments of glass, paper and paint "just plain gorgeous," and concludes that while it's not an overly difficult or lengthy experience, "giving a charming little bug the best (and only) day of his life is most definitely worth a buck."

Featured Content
  • The Last Of Us: Remastered places Joel and Ellie's fight for survival in the hands of the PS4 crowd, and whether you're well-versed in slinging bricks or have yet to meet your first Clicker, Community Manager Anthony John Agnello details what you can expect from your journey. Though Remastered packs in multiplayer maps, the "Left Behind" DLC, a beefed-up framerate and a sharper resolution, Agnello explains that whichever PlayStation you use isn't what's important: "Remastered may not be an essential purchase for people who played the first one, but even for all its darkness, it is an essential game."
  • Destiny's Guardian of Earth premise would resonate a bit better if it felt like you were truly living in its world, don't you think? Susan does, and she explained how getting her own little apartment in The Tower could drastically amplify her immersion in Destiny's war for survival. From reflecting a unit class' specific interests to providing a sensible place to relax and delve into lore, Susan's wishful thinking for a home away from home supports some of Destiny's strengths that are overshadowed by its "shoot, collect loot, shoot some more" structure.
  • All that talk about Destiny really made us want to play it ... but would you look at that, the beta wrapped days ago and we're still a month away from Destiny's official release. Waiting sucks, but we thought of a few universes and gameplay styles that remind us of Bungie's sci-fi universe. Maybe burning some time with one of our selections will make the next month fly by?
  • Wanna hear more about that OddWorld: New N Tasty sorta-remake, or do you need to hear some thoughts on Rogue Legacy now that it's on PlayStation devices? Editor-In-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann, Contributing Editor Earnest Cavalli, Susan and Sam touch on both in this week's Super Joystiq Podcast, as well as 3D technology for films and games and 80 Days.
[Image: EA]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.