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  • #61

    The team behind Life is Strange are no strangers to parallel timelines. Don't Nod's original narrative adventure ended with a binary choice - you could save the life of your closest companion, or doom them to protect the town you both grew up in. It was a decision that rippled through the stories of subsequent sequels, and remains an emotional peak the franchise has since struggled to surpass. Now, after years of silence, the team behind that ending are finally back with a new game - Lost Records: Bloom & Rage - ready to talk about why their time working on Life is Strange ended.


    Much has changed for Don't Nod over the past decade, with the original Life is Strange team now an ocean away and under a brand new roof at the recently-established Don't Nod Montreal. Their time with Life is Strange is long over, following the conclusion of Life is Strange 2 at the end of 2019. Just over a year later, Eurogamer reported that Deck Nine Games, developer of the excellent Life is Strange prequel Before the Storm, was now the series' main developer - and it was indeed this studio that made 2021's enjoyable Life is Strange: True Colors.


    "We really love what we did on Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2 but, as you know, the IP is owned by Square Enix, and at a point, we can only do what they want to do with the franchise," Don't Nod studio creative director and game director Michel Koch told me of the split between Don't Nod and the franchise they created. "We worked with them as the publisher, we sold them the franchise when we created it, and now they own it and decide how it evolves and where it goes."

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    • #62

      If your nights spent kingly (or queenly) crusading have been growing a little stale of late, Paradox Interactive would like you to know there's a busy year ahead for its acclaimed medieval grand strategy game, with its newly revealed 2024 Crusader Kings 3 roadmap promising two new large-scale expansions and more to freshen up that sandbox.


      2024 marks the start of what Paradox is calling Crusader Kings 3: Chapter 3, which includes the aforementioned two expansions - Legends of the Dead and Roads to Power - plus the Wandering Nobles event pack, and the Couture of the Capets cosmetic clothing DLC.


      Legends of the Dead is up first, falling under the banner of what Paradox likes to call a Core Expansion - which is to say, sizeable but not quite as sizeable as Crusader Kings 3's Major Expansions. Legends of the Dead is, as its name suggests, primarily concerned with legends, giving players the means to raise their renown and strengthen the legitimacy of their rule by either commissioning an epic tale of their general awesomeness - which can then be usefully spread around the place - or by actually going out and doing some heroic deeds themselves.

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      • #63

        A fresh set of weekly freebies has now arrived on the Epic Games Store, this time in the form of acclaimed visual novel Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! and rogue-like brawling RPG Lost Castle - with Dakar Desert Racing to follow next week.


        Starting with Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!, it's the enhanced and expanded version of developer Team Salvato renowned 2017 freeware visual novel of the same name (minus the 'Plus!' bit, obviously) that starts out innocently enough - with players taking on the role of a new student who can romance the anime-styled members of the titular club - before taking a metatextual turn into considerably darker territory.


        If that's not your thing - and its Epic Games Store listing makes it clear Doki Doki isn't "suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed" - your other freebie option is Lost Castle. This is a "super cute, super hard action RPG with roguelike elements and randomised dungeons" from Hunter Studio, and it supports four-player co-op and PvP both locally and online.

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        • #64

          Yoshitaka Murayama, creator of the Suikoden RPG series and scenario writer for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, has passed away.


          The news was shared by Rabbit & Bear Studios, which Murayama founded to produce the Eiyuden Chronicle games.


          "It's with a heavy heart and deep sadness we must inform you that the scenario writer and head of Rabbit & Bear Studios, Yoshitaka Murayama, has passed away on February 6th due to complications with an ongoing illness," reads the statement.

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          • #65
            In this week's DF Direct Weekly, the Digital Foundry Team shares their thoughts on the Xbox business update podcast and attempts to fathom strategy from the PlayStation team in the wake of some ominous announcements that resulted in a 10 percentage point dip in Sony's share price. The bottom line looks stark and very straightforward: the audience for PlayStation and Xbox consoles is not increasing gen-on-gen, while the costs of making games to service that audience is increasing dramatically. Something has to change.
            Let's deal with the Xbox business update first. My take on this is that Phil Spencer and his team really want to take a multi-platform strategy forward, and it's the obvious, logical solution to addressing the problem of the limit in total addressable audience. Not only that, with its ownership of Minecraft and now Activision-Blizzard-King, it's already one of the largest multi-platform publishers in the market. I can well imagine that the likes of Satya Nadella can't quite fathom why Microsoft is limiting its audience in the name of a legacy console model that seemingly isn't working for Xbox any more.
            However, the pitfalls are obvious. Why buy an Xbox console if you can buy a PlayStation and get access to the next games from both platform holders? This concept of exclusivity as 'specialness' clearly resounds with the console audience, and I would imagine that the Xbox team spent a great deal of time honing its message for the business update because if the rumours were left unchecked, we could have been looking at another PR disaster on the level of the Xbox One debacle from 2013. On a more practical level, Microsoft does need to continue to make its consoles attractive, even in the wake of its 'every screen is an Xbox' messaging. A mechanism to make console sales attractive is required because - in the face of a less than stellar response from Game Pass PC - a home platform is required on which to focus its drive for subscriptions.
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            • #66

              Microsoft is reportedly preparing to launch a new white, digital-only version of its top-end Xbox Series X console in "June or July" this year.


              An "adorably all-digital" Xbox Series X refresh, planned for a 2024 release, first surfaced as part of a mammoth leak of official Microsoft documentation during last year's court battle with the FTC. However, Xbox boss Phil Spencer later insisted "so much has changed" since the plans detailed in the leak had been drawn up, leaving the all-digital console's future uncertain.


              But now, noted leaker eXtas1s (writing for Exputer) has claimed that not only are Microsoft's all-digital Xbox Series X plans still alive, the console is set to release "sometime between the upcoming months of June and July" - although "chances for a slight delay" remain.

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              • #67

                Another Thursday, another Epic Games Store freebie to add to your ever-growing backlog, this time in the form of stylish 3D side-scroller Never Yield.


                Never Yield - also known as Aerial_Knight's Never Yield to ensure you don't forget who developed it - released back in 2021, offering up an experience something like a classic endless runner. It sees players stampeding across a strikingly designed future Tokyo, all to a winning soundtrack created by Detroit artist Danime-Sama.


                "Take the role of Wally," explains Never Yield's official description. "A mysterious character that has recovered what was taken from him. Hopefully, you're fast enough to outrun your enemies. Expose the truth and try to uncover the mystery of what happened to them."

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