Rumors have swirled around the proverbial mill for months, but Nordic Games has finally made it official: Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition will be coming to current-gen systems this winter, and the publisher has enlisted the help of former Darksiders developers to make the project possible.
Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition, as the punny name suggestions, will include all DLC released for the original 2012 game, as well as an upgraded engine that will run the game in native 1080p. Much like with DmC: Definitive Edition, the remastered version of the game also includes gameplay tweaks and “reworked” loot distribution. The port is in development at Gunfire Games. While the name might not sound familiar, the studio includes many former members of original (and now defunct) Darksiders developer Vigil Games, including the game director, executive producer, and lead environment artist.
Related: As Darksiders studio Vigil Games says goodbye, a hope for its signature series
Nordic Games’ Business & Product Development Director Reinhard Pollice also confirmed that the company has a proper follow-up to Darksiders 2 planned for the future, saying, “there will be a large-scale project based on Darksiders, but for now it is very important for us to take care of the existing games and make those available to a broader audience.”
Before the dissolution of THQ, ideas for another Darksiders game were already being kicked around at developer Vigil Games. Creative director Joe Madureira told IGN in 2013 that the game would have featured four-player cooperative play. Since then, Madureira has announced a video game adaptation of his Battle Chasers comics with new studio Airship Syndicate, which also includes former Vigil staffers.
Today’s announcement is the first indication we’ve heard of an Xbox One version of Darksiders 2. While the phrase “current-gen consoles” leaves the confirmed platforms ambiguous, previous rumors suggested that the game may have only been coming to the PlayStation 4. In fact, Nordic Games’ official product listing for the game still only includes the PS4 logo.
After tons of rumors that YouTube’s parent company, Google, would purchase Twitch—the current reigning champion of video game streaming—and that prospect dying with Amazon acquiring the company instead, YouTube is finally ready to launch its own dedicated service for video game streaming content: YouTube Gaming. Brace yourselves, Internet. The battle for supremacy in video game streaming is about to get ugly.
But it’s also going to get so pretty! Live gameplay streaming has become a huge form of online entertainment recently, but it’s also somehow managed to fly under the “mainstream” radar with small, new names in tech taking it most seriously. However, with Twitch teaming up with Amazon and YouTube getting in on the game, consumers and streamers alike should soon have their pick of high quality services.
Along with their new service, YouTube will release a YouTube Gaming app for mobile watching as well as to handle features like direct notifications when a channel you’ve subscribed to starts streaming live. There will, of course, be tablet versions and a desktop interface as well, which looks a bit like it was inspired by Steam:
YouTube Gaming will roll out over an unspecified time period this summer, but they’ll have a booth and undoubtedly more information to reveal at the E3 gaming convention next week. Of course, YouTube is already capable of live streams, but YouTube’s global head of gaming partnerships, Ryan Wyatt, announced that YouTube Gaming would bring with it some gaming-oriented streamlining:
[I]n the coming weeks, we’ll launch an improved live experience that makes it simpler to broadcast your gameplay to YouTube. On top of existing features like high frame rate streaming at 60fps, DVR, and automatically converting your stream into a YouTube video, we’re redesigning our system so that you no longer need to schedule a live event ahead of time. We’re also creating single link you can share for all your streams.
Of course, the big deal here is that YouTube is finally making a serious effort to recognize game streaming as its own form of content that deserves a spotlight to thrive under. Game streaming is outgrowing just being lumped in with other video content, and it’s great to see the biggest video site on the Internet acknowledge it. Wyatt also wrote, “Live streams bring the gaming community closer together, so we’ve put them front-and-center on the YouTube Gaming homepage,” and, “[Y]ou can search with confidence, knowing that typing ‘call’ will show you ‘Call of Duty’ and not ‘Call Me Maybe.’”
On Tuesday, American video game rental company GameFly launched a cloud-based game streaming service exclusively on the Amazon Fire TV set-top box. The new subscription service, simply named GameFly Streaming, piggybacks off the technology and servers used by Playcast, an Israeli cloud-gaming service that GameFly has officially acquired as of today.
“Our goal with GameFly Streaming is moving forward to position cloud gaming, in the short and medium-term, as a compliment to console gaming, and in the long term, as the new technology,” GameFly CEO David Hodess said in a phone interview with Ars Technica. “Nobody I speak to these days believes that there’ll be another set of consoles as successors to the current ones.”
The service, which should already be live in the Amazon Fire TV App Store, is made up entirely of PC ports of console games, meaning players will need a compatible Xbox-styled controller (such as the official Amazon Fire TV controller) to play them. To access the service’s launch library of 35 games, users will have to try out an unorthodox subscription model: a series of game “packs” that users must subscribe to individually.
Pack it up, pack it in
Packs start at a rate of $6.99 a month, and each one currently unlocks unlimited play of seven games in a given genre. For example, the “Lego” pack includes seven Lego-branded games—pretty much all of the most recent ones, including Lego: The Hobbit and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham—while the “speed” pack includes six admittedly older racing games, such as GRID 2, Moto GP ’13, and Ridge Racer Unbounded, along with the 2001 arcade-flying game Ace Combat 4. The “gamer” pack is the closest GameFly Streaming comes to a discounted bundle, offering 16 games across its library for $9.99 a month. The full list of games and packs is available on GameFly Streaming’s official site.
This pricing structure differs from streaming services like PlayStation Now, which offers both a flat rate for access to most of its streamable games and a la carte pricing for one-game rentals, and Nvidia Grid, which is offering free service until July, but limits its access to users of Nvidia’s family of Shield devices.
“We do have plans to refresh these packs over the course of a year,” Hodess said, but he didn’t clarify exactly how often customers should expect new games—or how often older games in a pack might be retired. “If you’re still interested in a certain genre, we’ll hopefully provide enough games to keep you interested. Otherwise, we hope there’s another pack you’re interested in.”
GameFly Streaming’s launch library leaves a lot to be desired, especially compared to Nvidia Grid’s 50 games and PlayStation Now’s even larger library, but the service’s current ace-in-the-sleeve is its impending launch on a wider variety of devices than any other current game-streaming service. “We are absolutely going to be on other platforms,” Hodess said, and while he didn’t offer a timeline, he noted that Playcast’s original app, which is already available on Ouya systems and select smart TVs, will change to GameFly Streaming “over the next several months.”
Update: Even though GameFly Streaming’s site says the service is “coming soon,” the app has indeed launched on Amazon’s App Store, exclusively for Amazon Fire TV boxes at this point. We downloaded and installed the app on our own Fire TV unit on Tuesday morning and got it running on WiFi, at which point the app suggested we plug in an ethernet cable to improve performance—even when we switched to our router’s 5 Ghz signal.
With an Ethernet cable plugged in, we were informed that the app had improved to a 720p signal streaming at 8 Mbps—which seemed a little pesky for our test unit’s gigabit connection. The menus, whose button taps had a hint of lag, didn’t appear to reach 720p resolution, however, nor did the games, which suffered from some pretty severe visual artifacting.
In good news, users get ten whole minutes of free demos per game, which we figure is a fair offer for people who want to test streaming performance on their home connections. We put three games to the test: 2D fighting game BlazBlue, 3D car game Ridge Racer Unbounded, and Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX. All of these suffered from noticeable but inconsistent moments of lag; this was forgivable in some instances, but as Pac-Man reached ludicrous speeds in that game’s updated, remixed modes, we absolutely couldn’t compensate to turn sharp corners and grab last-second power pellets.
That, to us, was a dealbreaker, especially when connected to this cloud-gaming service with one of the highest-level consumer-grade Internet connections currently available to Americans. We can’t even imagine how an average Time Warner or Comcast customer would manage. Considering this cloud-gaming service already existed as Playcast for over a year, we’re not chalking this up to day-one jitters, either.
With AMD’s new sixth-generation A-series processors, laptops in the $400 to $700 range could soon become far more capable. Formerly code-named “Carizzo,” the new chips offer twice the gaming performance of Intel’s Core i7, thanks to discrete Radeon graphics. They’re the first mainstream processors with hardware decoding for H.265/HEVC video, the successor to the current H.264 standard which includes far better compression and support for 4K resolutions. And they’ll also pack in up to 12 compute cores (four CPU and eight GPU), which basically means they’ll be able to handle whatever you throw at them. Why focus on mainstream laptops? AMD notes that it’s the largest segment of the PC market by revenue and volume sold, so it makes sense for a company that’s traditionally focused on value to show it some love.
AMD sixth-generation A-series slide
AMD’s basically gunning hard for the gaming and media crowd with its sixth-generation chips. Naturally, they include its dual graphics technology, which can summon the power of Radeon R7 graphics along their built-in graphics for a 42 percent jump in frame rates. They also combine game performance with hardware video encoding, which should make for much smoother game streams on Twitch. Battery-wise, AMD says the new chips will last twice as long as their predecessors, even when watching video or gaming. They’re also optimized for Windows 10 and Direct X 12, Microsoft’s new gaming API which promises to be much more efficient than DX 11.
While it all sounds good on paper, AMD will face some stiff competition from Intel’s new Broadwell-H chips, which were announced yesterday. Those chips also double graphics performance and boost overall media performance. Intel’s chips seem pretty expensive though, ranging from $244 to $623, and while we don’t know the pricing of AMD’s new wares yet, they’re usually cheaper than Intel. So there’s a good chance AMD can keep up the value fight. We’ll find out for sure once the new chips hit the market. AMD says computers featuring the sixth-gen A-series will start shipping in June, while Intel expects its chips to hit computers within two months.
Nvidia has taken the wraps off its GeForce GTX 980 Ti, a scaled-down version of the GeForce GTX Titan X which was launched earlier this year. Graphics cards based on the new GPU will be priced significantly lower than Titan X cards and will have slightly lower specifications. The onboard RAM has been reduced to 6GB from 12GB and two of the 24 SMX clusters are disabled. Base and peak clock speeds remain the same, at 1002MHz and 1075MHz respectively.Zotac was the first to announce pricing in India, with a model based on the reference design at Rs. 55,249 all the way up to Rs. 69,999 for a factory-overclocked model with a hybrid cooler featuring a copper water block. The cards will be available in retail starting from June 6. The older GTX 980 has officially gone down in price by $50 following this launch, but prices here are not expected to go down as much and it will be a few weeks before current stocks are cleared from the market.
The GeForce GTX 980 Ti is based on Nvidia’s energy-efficient Maxwell architecture and has a rated TDP of 250W. The company expects that gamers upgrading from cards one or two generations old will be looking to play the latest games at 4K with high quality settings, and says the GTX 980 Ti can provide up to 3x the power and 2.3x the relative performance per Watt of a GTX 680.
The GTX 980 Ti also supports DirectX 12 Feature Level 12_1 which adds improvements in efficiency and quality. Another improvement is a new VR optics system which gives users a better field of view by eliminating the fisheye filter required to make images focus when projected so close to the eye. Instead, frames are split into nine segments so that the centre is focused normally and the sides and corners are warped in such a way that no part of the frame is lost. The Maxwell architecture allows all nine segments to be rendered in a single pass even though the perspectives are different, which was not possibile on previous architectures.
Nvidia also announced expansions to its G-Sync platform to support variable refresh rates across a wider range of panels, including notebook panels for the first time. Responding to criticisms, Nvidia disclosed new information about how it manages minimum as well as maximum frame times and stated that G-Sync does not introduce any latency.
G-Sync will support games running in windowed mode and will soon be available on notebooks as well. The first notebook LCD panels with refresh rates greater than 60Hz will roll out soon from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and Clevo.