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Joystiq Weekly: Destiny's loot cave, Shadow of Mordor review, building narratives and more

Thomas Schulenberg
Thomas Schulenberg|@T_Schulenberg|September 28, 2014 7:30 PM
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.
Season passes that add content to separately-sold video games that also offer bundled in video games? Ubisoft's dollop of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China on top of this year's double-portion of Assassin's Creed is interesting, both due to being bundled in a season pass and its sidescrolling platformer nature. We're already looking forward to when season passes include trilogy HD remasters, which will in turn include their own season passes, complete with spinoff-pack ins. Everything is connected, you see.

There was a lot more to this week than alternative business strategies though. Have you heard of a little series called Super Smash Bros.? What about Lord of the Rings? We've got reviews of the latest (interactive) installments in both, as well as news of Destiny's loot cave, features on developing narratives and what developers and YouTubers think of Steam Curators. They're all joined by many other stories, waiting for you after the break!

  • The Loot Cave, Destiny's shortcut to accumulating awesome gear, is no more. Well, the cavern itself is still there, it's just that the once-endless flow of loot-dropping Hive "have realized the futility of their endless assault," as explained by Bungie. To lessen the desire to shoot streaming enemies rather than actually playing the game, Bungie added that it would "increase engram drops from completing activities."
  • "... No dice," said the Destiny player base, running to another spot to practice the same loot-reaping strategy.
  • There will soon be a second, higher-resolution chance to explore the debut of Sleeping Dogs' universe, but Triad Wars will use the same setting to tell a separate tale in early 2015.
  • You can welcome a tiny addition to the stack of consoles beneath your TV once the PlayStation TV launches on October 14. As a refresher, the PS TV plays digital Vita, PSP and PS One games and can also stream PS3 games via PlayStation Now and PS4 games via Remote Play.
  • Your scabs and broken bones should heal by 2015, right? Good, because by then Roll 7 will have you back on the board with OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood, a sequel to its 2D skater that adds split-route stages, a better grinding system and local 4-player multiplayer.
  • A season pass includes extra content and missions for a game you already own? Okay, very normal. A season pass that also packs in a secondary game that's valued at $30 separately? Enter Assassin's Creed Unity's season pass, an outlier that includes a 2.5-dimensional side-scrolling platformer called Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China.
  • "Why not combine your music and gaming libraries into one program?," Valve asked, now that the Steam Music Player is available to everyone. Steam Music Player also organizes soundtracks bundled with games you purchase, which you can see for yourself if you already own games from the Half-Life or Portal series.
  • Oh yeah – while you're taking a break from your Steam library and jamming out to tracks via your Steam Music Player, why not read up on the thoughts of those you respect most by browsing the Steam Curator page? Now that there's a 100 million users registered on Steam, there's bound to be someone your tastes align with (you could always try us!).
  • If you haven't beckoned giant killing machines from the sky in a while and you own Titanfall's season pass, there are probably new maps waiting for you in the IMC Rising pack. Pass-less pilots are welcome too, of course, so long as they're willing to use a $9.99 burn card.
  • Speaking of things you might not have done recently, Watch Dogs' Bad Blood DLC is a fresh excuse to prowl the streets of Chicago, though players will guide Raymond "T-Bone" Kenney rather than Aiden Pearce. While Xbox 360 and PS3 users are waiting on a "coming soon" arrival window, Bad Blood is already on PC and other current consoles. Except for you, Wii U.

  • Some may worry over feasibly tracking a round of Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS' small screen, but Contributing Editor Earnest Cavalli assesses that the experience's benefit from going portable "can not be overstated." Earnest calls the new bout "the most feature-complete, compelling Super Smash Bros. entry to date."
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is as enjoyable for adventure game fans as it is for die-hard Lord of the Rings fans, insists News Content Director Alexander Sliwinski. Shadow of Mordor might not have a handful of climatic boss fights, but Alexander does level it as a "well-placed sandbox game with a revolutionary new game mechanic in the Nemesis system."
  • Those waiting around for Persona 5 might want to consider Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, ARC System Works' expansion on its fighter. With extra fighters, a simplified, non-linear story and accessible combos, Earnest remarked that as great the original Arena was, "Ultimax immediately renders it obsolete."
  • Forza Horizon 2's trek through European landscapes is driven by the philosophy that you're "free to dig in as far as you want," Editor-in-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann's review explains. Though Drivatars are "gargantuan jerks" outside of races and smugness emanates from the troupe leader, Horizon 2 still offers "a great variety of towns, valleys and slippery dirt roads, through day and night, sun and rain."
  • D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is a Kinect-controlled murder mystery that's "packed with symbolism and things that are just plain weird, and it all works together beautifully," Senior Reporter Jess Conditt states in her review. With an engaging story and responsive controls, Jess says D4 gave her "hope for the innovation and technical acuity still to come in motion-controlled gaming."
  • Feature Content Director Xav De Matos feels there's a "grand quality to the core playing individual hockey games" along with NHL 15's "superb new presentation," but a laundry list of missing modes and features keep Xav from feeling overly satisfied with the final offering.

Featured Content
  • Now that the most popular opinions can achieve prominent visibility within Steam itself, fresh discussion concerning ethics has begun concerning Steam Curators. Contributing Editor Mike Suszek gathered thoughts from developers as well as the top Curator, John "TotalBiscuit" Bain, about the potential advantages and new complications poised by the new feature.
  • As we covered above, shutting down the original loot cave doesn't stop the discussion around it. Ludwig ponders what has led to the popularity of loot-spewing locations in Destiny's universe, and explains why he's yet to join in on the shortcut to amassing impressive gear.
  • Narrative is as tricky as any other element of game design. Contributing Editor Edward Smith explored two different approaches to crafting engrossing tales, from Gone Home to XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
  • There's more to discuss with Destiny beyond its loot caves – namely, the stability of its servers, which suffered slight hiccups, as documented in our second-week State of Service. Joystiq staff members reported both difficulties retaining connections and lost bounty progress.
  • It's starting to feel a lot like review season, and considering the 3DS lineup, that also means it's feeling a bit like Smash season. On this week's Super Joystiq Podcast, Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell and Managing Editor Susan Arendt join Alexander and Ludwig to discuss the latest battle between Nintendo's all-stars, as well as Shadow of Mordor's masterful adventure and Destiny's loot problem.
[Image: Ubisoft]
Joystiq Weekly: Destiny's loot cave, Shadow of Mordor review, building narratives and more