PAX Prime 2014 is already underway, but as fun as joining a swarm of people buzzing around video game displays can be, you don't even have to leave the house to get this weekend's highlights. Well, unless your house is a black hole for Internet and phone reception ...
The point is, Joystiq is on the front lines of PAX Prime, ignoring sensible limitations to bring you a slew of news and previews. With this morning's proof that survival in numbers is a relative concept in Don't Starve Together and a reminder that thinking every MOBA is interchangeable is a mistake when it comes to Gigantic, the good stuff is already underway. There's always yesterday's reveal of Xbox One and PS4 versions of Saints Row 4 too, as well as a new, standalone expansion called Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.
Stick with us until PAX Prime's conclusion on Monday, September 1, and in return we'll tell you all about the show's highlights without subjecting you to the dreaded PAX Pox. For now though, we've got a full recap of this week's news, reviews and features. Amazon's surprise acquisition of Twitch, Nintendo's new 3DS models, reviews of Madden NFL 15 and The Walking Dead's season finale, an examination of what makes Early Access such a valuable space to developers ... it's all arranged neat and orderly-like for you after the break!
- Despite reports that Google was courting livestreaming behemoth Twitch earlier this year, Amazon has swooped in and announced a $970 million acquisition. The deal is expected to close by the second half of 2014.
- Handheld enthusiasts might soon have more than just special edition 3DS XLs to resist snatching up – new models of the 3DS and 3DS XL have been announced for Japan, sporting dual shoulder buttons, "Super Stable 3D" to improve 3D viewing angles, an improved battery life and more. The new builds will also sport an enhanced CPU, which might explain why Nintendo is porting Xenoblade Chronicles solely to next year's model of handhelds.
- Every Pokemon now stands the chance to be a fighting type, provided they make the roster for the incoming arcade fighter Pokken Tournament. Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada and Soul Calibur producer Masaaki Hoshino are involved in the project, which is expected to hit cabinets sometime next year. You can check the debut trailer for a sense of what to expect.
- The Mario Kart series' name will soon be a formality, as stars from other Nintendo universes will burn rubber across Mario Kart 8's circuits via DLC. Link will join the Animal Crossing series' Isabelle and Villager in the race for two new cups, with the first portion of DLC getting a green light in November.
- Thanks to the Internet's collective aptitude for leaking secrets, we might have been tipped off about the still-approaching challengers in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. Videos of each supposed participant have been pulled since their initial rounds, but the latest fighter to be confirmed via Nintendo Direct is among the leak's candidates.
- Pulling off the perfect assassination is a matter of timing – Assassin's Creed Unity is recalculating its attack with this in mind, meaning Xbox One, PS4 and PC owners will have a few couple extra weeks to live freely beyond October 28, their initial date with fate.
- If you're banking on a friend doing the grunt work for your impressive arsenal in Destiny, make sure they're playing with one of your alternate heroes: Bungie has stated that player-to-player trades will only work if you're the owner of both characters.
- Acting on something other than popular demand, Capcom is toiling away at a re-remake of the original Resident Evil. You can give yourself an eye exam with our comparison-focused gallery, which pairs slides from the Gamecube remake with shots from the incoming 2015 remaster.
- Harmonix is further proving that it's not a one-trick rhythmic pony: A City Sleeps, the studio's most recent reveal, is a neon-soaked, twin-stick shoot-em-up coming to PC and Mac on Steam. It's the second significant outside-the-box announcement the studio has shared this year, following FPS Chroma's reveal in February.
- The GaymerX brand of LBGTQ+-inclusive conventions ended this year after its second event, but spiritual successor "GX3: Everyone Games" will share many of its predecessor's goals when it takes place in 2015. The name change is meant to support groups beyond the LGBTQ+ community that also feel marginalized in gaming.
- If and when you do get frustrated by being your party's sole resource for survival in Dragon Age: Inquisition, you can take a break and raid some dungeons with real-world friends. BioWare estimates that each randomly-generated cavern in its cooperative multiplayer mode will last adventurers 20-30 minutes, with twelve unlockable characters available at Inquisition's launch.
- Video games offer plenty of training exercises for the whole "run away while fighting for your life" thing, but dodging hordes of lumbering zombies while enduring hallucinations? That's a new challenge, one that you can face on November 18 when Escape Dead Island holes itself up on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
- Contributing Editor and Resident Sports Enthusiast Mike Suszek padded up for Madden NFL 15, EA's annual outing on the field. While the initial reaction might be to discard it as just another needless update, Suszek's breakdown describes Madden 15 as a "big step in carving out the series' identity as a video game first and a football simulator second."
- Do you really need an excuse to shoot flashy colors out of your limbs? Just in case you said yes, Infamous: First Light, Suckerpunch Studios' standalone expansion to Infamous: Second Son, might be a valid one, so long as you're a diehard fan. Contributing Editor Earnest Cavalli's review noted that Suckerpunch has "done a fantastic job identifying which gameplay aspects of Second Son were most entertaining, then stripping out the less fun parts in favor of new tricks." Unfortunately, Earnest adds that that process left First Light "too short" and with "too little to do."
- Nailing finales can be tough, and Senior Reporter Jess Conditt noticed some stumbles in No Going Back, the wrapup for the second season of Telltale's The Walking Dead. While Jess' review stresses that "your choices matter in the deepest way" in this episode, that means the "balanced narrative loses in a spectacular and surprising fashion."
- Odd combinations don't automatically spell disaster, but Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright's merging of narrative and puzzles ultimately "exposes the weaknesses of both series," Contributing Editor Sinan Kubba warns in his cross examination.
- Consumer opinions on Steam's Early Access program are plentiful and easy to find, but what do the people that actually release content through the service think of it? Weekend Editor Sam Prell got some perspective from Klei Entertainment founder Jamie Cheng, Crypt of the NecroDancer designer Ryan Clark and The Indie Stone's Chris Simpson about Early Access' strengths, struggles and future potential.
- Porting old games to current platforms is kind of a thing these days, but what about titles that aren't guaranteed to print money? Joystiq compiled a wish list of obscure, probably-never-gonna-happen games we'd love to revisit on modern platforms, just in case a publisher's board room would like to cater exclusively to our less-than-profitable tastes.
- Yup, PAX Prime is in full swing, but we didn't forget to leave you this week's episode of the Super Joystiq Podcast. Community Manager Anthony John Agnello, Feature Content Director Xav De Matos, Sinan and Jess reflect on the season two finale of Telltale's The Walking Dead, as well as NHL 15, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright and general issues publishers are faced with.