Blizzard is refreshing Diablo IV UI, inventory, & co-op experience

While Blizzard Entertainment has not had the best of times lately, one of their most beloved franchises still has plenty of fans excited. Diablo IV was first revealed at BlizzCon 2019, and fans are dying to learn more about the new entry.

As part of community updates, a Diablo IV blog has been set up. Hard at work since the convention, the development team is now ready to share more about the game. The quarterly update sheds more light on post-BlizzCon feedback, UI design, controller support, and co-op, as well as a new monster family.

A better player experience

Lead UI designer Angela Del Priore discusses your inventory layout. Rather than the different-sized items that we are used to in past games, Diablo IV will take a different approach.

Blizzard Shares More About Refreshing Diablo Iv Ui, Inventory, & Co Op Experience2

Item icons will now be “directly based off the 3D models to give them natural texture and realism.” The backgrounds have also been toned down, and rarity is now denoted via border decoration.

This comes following changes made to the way Diablo IV will be dealing with itemization.

Blizzard Shares More About Refreshing Diablo Iv Ui, Inventory, & Co Op Experience1

Ultimately, Blizzard is trying to achieve “a more balanced composition” and a “gritty, realistic UI.”

Full control

Left-clicking has been integral to the Diablo experience from the start. Having garnered feedback that certain players will prefer rebinding “the primary skill to anything but the left mouse button so that they could separate moving from attacking,” Blizzard is doing just that. Now you can have the freedom to assign any “any skill to any slot from the get-go.” The keys for all skill slots can also be rebound, and this will apply to controllers as well.

Blizzard Shares More About Refreshing Diablo Iv Ui, Inventory, & Co Op Experience3

Changes are incoming for the action bar as well. After experimenting with a left-corner configuration, Blizzard will provide both left and center support for PC:

The preferred position changes to the left-corner when people play further away from the screen. This doesn’t come as a surprise given the shift in viewing angle, but it does mean that the center configuration isn’t a majority winner on PC since we’re supporting controller input.

So, while we will only stick to the corner configuration on consoles, we will offer both left and center positions as options on PC.

Controller support

With Diablo IV being developed for both consoles and PC, controller support is a no-brainer. However, it definitely gives the developers more to think about. The UI had to be flexible to support both options as players can switch on the fly.

The adoption of a more grid-based UI provides ease of navigation, but interactions will change.

“We try to maintain this sort of approach, of keeping established keyboard and mouse conventions while creating controller-friendly shortcuts or alternate flows, throughout the game,” Blizzard stated. “Controller support shouldn’t be a limiter on how complex our game can be; it just means we have more paths that we need to consider. It’s not a simple undertaking, but we’re really striving for a native feel for both types of inputs.”

Couch adventures in Diablo IV

Reaper of Souls brought couch co-op to Diablo, and it was an enjoyable experience, to say the least. However, a common complaint was that having a UI screen open meant the other player could not do anything.

To solve this issue, the devs have “decided to focus on improving the favored 2-player co-op experience and set up our core progression UI screens such that they can be opened independently or at the same time.”

This will likely change over time, but “ease of interaction comes before visual polish.”

Feedback is appreciated

It is obvious that the community matters a lot to the developers, and feedback regarding the many systems in the game will help shape the final release of Diablo IV.

Fans can provide valuable feedback and see changes made by a committed team. This will hopefully go a long way in repairing Blizzard’s reputation in the long run and give us the definitive Diablo experience.

Blizzard is not just sharing about UI changes, but also introducing a new monster family, Cannibals. Stay tuned for more info on that.

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Konami Code creator Kazuhisa Hashimoto dies at 61

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, rest in peace.

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a producer credited with implementing the fabled “Konami Code” that gave players godlike cheats in Contra, Gradius, Castlevania, and other Konami games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, died on Tuesday. He was 61.

News of Hashimoto’s death was first shared by Yuji Takenouchi, a composer who has worked on Konami games. Konami itself confirmed Hashimoto’s passing on Twitter.

Hashimoto was a programmer and producer for the home console port of Gradius, which in 1986 was the first video game to use the Konami Code. Hashimoto put it in the game as an aid for his playtesting, memorably saying that he “obviously couldn’t beat it.” For unclear reasons, the Konami Code was left in the shipped game, and was later used to playtest other games made by the publisher.

Contra, which launched on the NES in 1988, sold much better than Gradius and is more closely associated with the Konami Code’s origins. In it, cheat-code sharers discovered video gaming’s Charm of Making — up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start! — and were blessed with 30 lives, absolutely critical to a super-tough one-hit-kill side-scroller like Contra.

Nostalgia for the Konami Code, if not gratitude for its usefulness to many difficult games of the day, led to its inclusion in numerous other works. A Wikipedia entry on the code counts more than 100 Konami games with the cheat or some version of it inside them. Another 22 games made by other publishers included the code as a tribute, often revealing an Easter egg or secret message.

It has also shown up elsewhere in popular culture, most recently in Google Stadia’s website (and on its controller), and as a pastime Easter egg in Fortnite in October.

Kazuhisa Hashimoto was born Nov. 15, 1958. In a 2003 interview translated at the end of 2011, he said he joined Konami in the early 1980s, making circuit boards for coin-operated roulette and slot machine games.

The company’s early successes with coin-operated video games led to an expansion in that area. One of his first works was 1983’s Track & Field, a landmark sports video game whose popularity in the U.S. rode a wave of interest following the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Hashimoto stashed Easter eggs in that game, too, such as the UFO that is speared by a javelin if the player deliberately aims it off the top of the screen.

Hashimoto was soon assigned to port these arcade titles to the NES, in a process in which a team of four people took about six months to complete the work. He chose the inputs for the Konami Code because they were easy to remember and yet hard to repeat by accident during normal gameplay. Hashimoto added that he was influenced by the hidden commands in 1983’s Xevious, by Atari, when creating the code.

Hashimoto left Konami sometime after the turn of the century. “Even though I’ve gone on to participate in most systems’ launch titles, from Gradius 3 on the Super Nintendo, and Parodius on the PC, to games for the PS2,” he said, “I think I like the Nintendo era the best of all.”

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Curve Digital Announces Hotshot Racing For Consoles & PC

Curve Digital has unveiled a new hyper-stylistic, 90’s inspired arcade racer titled Hotshot Racing, which is under development by Lucky Mountain Games and Sumo Digital. Apart from its vibrant polygonal visuals, Hotshot Racing promises ” silky smooth 60 frames per second in the game’s single-player modes regardless of platform.”. Check out Hotshot Racing in action in the reveal trailer for the game below:

If the trailer wasn’t enough to get arcade racing fans excited, Curve Digital Publishing Director Simon Byron had some high praise for the hands-on time he’s had with Hotshot Racing so far:

“When we first played Hotshot Racing we were immediately transported to the halcyon days of our youth when we used to pop quarters into classic arcade racers like Virtua Racing, Crusin’ USA, SEGA Rally and others that used to punctuate seafronts across the UK. It’s fantastic to see this type of gameplay make a triumphant return and we can’t wait to see what people make of it!”

Hotshot Racing will be available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam later this Spring.

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Shadow of the Colossus and Sonic Forces – PlayStation.Blog

With March’s pair of PS Plus games, you’ll embark on a dangerous quest to cleanse a land of its giant-sized inhabitants, and help not one but two versions of a platforming legend save the world.

Let’s take a look:

Shadow of the Colossus

Tales speak of an ancient realm where Colossi roam the majestic landscape. Bound to the land, these creatures hold a key to a mystical power of revival — a power you must obtain to bring a loved one back to life. Shadow of the Colossus is a breathtaking journey through ancient lands to seek out gigantic beasts. Armed with only a sword and a bow, explore the spacious lands and unearth each Colossus, presenting a unique challenge to test your wits, determination, and skill.

Sonic Forces

In Sonic Forces, the evil Dr. Eggman has conquered much of the world with help from a powerful and mysterious new villain named Infinite. Now, you must assist Sonic and build an army to reclaim the world as they fight against chaos and destruction. Defeat enemies with blazing speed as Modern Sonic, catapult past perilous platforms as Classic Sonic, and create your very own Custom Hero Character equipped with a variety of powerful gadgets.

Both titles will be available to download from Tuesday, March 3 until Monday, April 6.

February’s PS Plus games

As a reminder, you’ve still got time to download this month’s PS Plus games. Bioshock: The Collection houses three fantastic first-person adventures, The Sims 4 lets you unleash your imagination to craft the perfect virtual life, while PS VR shooter Firewall Zero Hour challenges you to survive intense multiplayer matches. All three titles are available to download until Monday, March 2.

Not yet a PS Plus member? Find out more here.

Predator: Hunting Grounds trial

PS Plus members will be able to try out intense asymmetrical multiplayer experience Predator: Hunting Grounds this month with a weekend trial starting Friday, March 27*!

Squad-up with friends as part of a Fireteam and take on dangerous missions before the Predator finds you — or become the Predator and hunt your prey. Wield human and alien weaponry in this intense asymmetrical multiplayer experience, unlocking iconic gear and skins as you level up. You can even team up with friends on PC with full cross-play support through the Predator: Hunting Grounds trial.

*Trial Weekend starts from 5pm PST / 4pm GMT / 5pm CET / 3pm JST on Friday, March 27th and ends 11.59pm PST / GMT / CET / JST on Sunday, March 29th. PS Plus subscription required to play.

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Cuphead gets an Easy Mode thanks to this new “Assist Mode” mod, available now for download

Cuphead is a challenging platformer that came out in 2017. Now while I didn’t have any trouble with it, other gamers felt it to be way too difficult. As a result of this, n00bplatformer has decided to release a new mod that enables an Easy Mode for it.

As the modder noted, this mod is inspired by Celeste’s assist mode. Thus, the mod intends to ease the game difficulty by granting additional HP (6HP instead of 3HP), weapon damage boost (1.5x) and coins (40) to the player.

The modder also recommends to start a new save file with this mod. So yeah, don’t use it on your older saves, otherwise there might be some compatibility issues.

In order to showcase this mod in action, n00bplatformer has also released the following video.

You can go ahead and download this Assist “Easy” Mode for Cuphead from here.

Have fun!

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GOG Now Allows Refund Upto 30 Days, No Hour Limit In Place

GOG has updated its refund policy and is now allowing refunds upto 30 days. The most interesting aspect of this development is the fact that they don’t have a hour limit in place. Usually, Steam allows refunds upto 14 days but there’s a 2 hour playtime limit.

GOG has made the changes but there is a catch to keep things in check. GOG mentions that they reserve the right to decline refunds in cases where they deem fit and think that it is being misused. While this is a pretty consumer friendly move and in contrast to the moves of companies such as Nintendo which do not allow refund for pre-orders, it remains to be seen whether it is exploited or not. We hope it isn’t, because it will set a bad precedence for a company which is trying to do so much for the consumers.

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Star Wars Battlefront II The Age of Rebellion brings big updates tomorrow

There’s a pretty big “The Age of Rebellion” update for Star Wars Battlefront II dropping tomorrow that fans of the original film trilogy won’t want to miss. DICE detailed the update in a community transmission earlier today, and it’s loaded with goodies that fans will enjoy. As usual, the update is free, and it will be ready to go tomorrow, February 26.

So what’s new to the hit Star Wars game?

The update brings seven new Age of Rebellion Co-Op location in all. In addition, two new Reinforcements in the form of the Ewok Hunter and ISB Agent will join the party. There will also be four new Blasters to select from, as well as four Capital Ships in Co-Op, a number of Hero improvements and AI upgrades, and two new Heroes vs. Villains maps.

The Ewok Hunter should be a real treat for fans, using a Hunter’s Bow with dual firing options and the ability to use the Valiant Horn. Meanwhile, the ISB Agent will do work for the Empire, with two RK-3 blasters, good close-combat tactics, and more.

Star Wars 2

With The Age of Rebellion, players can choose from a number of familiar co-op locations. These include Yavin, Death Star II, Endor, Hoth, Tatooine, Kessel and Jabba’s Palace. The Capital Ships that will be on hand include the Venator, the Dreadnaught, the MC85 Star Cruiser, and the First Order Resurgent class Star Destroyer.

As for the quality-of-life updates, these include new HUD options, including turning on or off options. That means showing things like Abilities, Player Bar, and Squad List. There are also minor tweaks to Heroes and much more.

Again, the update goes live tomorrow, February 26. If you don’t have your hands on Star Wars Battlefront II just yet, you can get it at Origin. May the Force be with you.

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Horizon Zero Dawn PC Version Listed on Amazon France

Horizon Zero Dawn PC might be getting closer to an official reveal. After the rumors posted in January by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who shared that the open world action roleplaying game should launch later this year via both Steam and the Epic Games store, today a listing of Horizon Zero Dawn PC appeared on Amazon France, with Sony as the publisher.

There is no further information at this time, and there’s a chance it could be just a blunder made by some Amazon employee. On the other hand, given the strength of the previous rumors and the fact that the game is about to celebrate its third anniversary since the original PlayStation 4 release (February 28th, 2017 in North America, March 1st, 2017 in Europe), it is reasonable to believe this could be the real deal.

Opinion: Sony’s PS4 Exclusives Are Coming to PC and That’s A Good Thing

Horizon Zero Dawn PC would likely include both the base game and the Frozen Wilds expansion, released in late 2017. The game won plenty of Game of the Year awards in 2017 and went on to be the most successful title ever developed by Dutch studio Guerrilla Games with over 10 million copies. A sequel is practically guaranteed to be in the works for Sony’s next-generation console, the PlayStation 5, due to hit stores during the Holiday season.

Below you can find excerpts from our reviews of Horizon Zero Dawn and Frozen Wilds, both rated 9.5 by our editors.

Chris Wray:

Horizon Zero Dawn is a pure sign of what can be completed with an exceptionally designed open world. Not only that, it has exceptional characterisation and a sincere story that doesn’t shoehorn elements, allowing for the organic growth of characters. This is a game that I can barely find any faults with, except borrowing some elements from other open world games. Even so, it made each and every element its own in one of the best games to date.

Francesco De Meo:

With a new focused story, a harshly beautiful new area, new weapons, enemies and skills, Horizon Zero Dawn The Frozen Wilds is a worthy expansion of the open world game developed by Guerrilla Games. Ultimately, it’s more of the same, as the expansion lacks any major new gameplay mechanics, but when so much love is put into a product, is it really an issue? Highly recommended to all Horizon Zero Dawn owners.


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Rainbow Six Siege reached a new record of concurrent players on Steam – GameNation World

Looks like Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege is breaking its way to the top of some more charts, given that it’s been four years since its release, over the 24 hours it has marked a new record of concurrent players on Steam with a peak of 180,463.

MUST-READ • DOOM Eternal’s download size revealed for Xbox One

The success of Rainbow Six Siege comes down to the continued support from Ubisoft, who is continuously listening to the feedback from the players on key aspects of the game, adding new content as well as its invigoration on the esports front, the tactical team shooter looks set to be a long-term vision for Ubisoft and that is great news.

Rainbow Six Siege

One thing to take into account is the new operation has not even released yet, so Rainbow Six Siege could see a massive increase in players when the new Operation Void Edge expansion releases on March 11th. More exciting expansions will be making their way into the game with Year 5 and Year 6 content, so we should only expect the player base to rise in the coming months.

Check out the live Steam stats for Rainbow Six Siege Below

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What You Can Expect From the Next Generation of Gaming

The future of gaming has never been more inspiring. Creativity in games is flourishing. New services empower you to discover more games—and bring you closer to the games and creators and streamers you love. The cloud creates a massive opportunity to stream console-quality games and play with the people you want, wherever you want. And for many of us, nothing is more inspiring than the dawn of a new console generation.

We know you
expect the next generation of consoles to set new standards in graphical power
and processing speed, converging together in games that look incredible and feel
alive. This will be defined by worlds that are visually astounding and
immediately immersive, with innovative leaps in CPU, GPU and storage technology
to give you frictionless access to new stories and new creators constantly.

been using Xbox Series X in our internal Takehome program and are energized by
the feedback we’ve been receiving. At Xbox we value being open and transparent
with you, and I’m proud to be able to share details about some of the technologies
we are enabling for the next generation, and look forward to boldly sharing more
as we head towards E3.   

Xbox Series X

superior balance of power and speed

to the previous generation, Xbox Series X represents a superior balance of
power and speed in console design, advancing on all technological fronts to delivering
amazing, dynamic, living worlds and minimize any aspects that can take you out
of the experience. Our job at Team Xbox is to give teams the tools they need to
achieve their ambitions and tap into the console’s power with efficiency, a few
of which we’re detailing today. Raw power is just part of the story:

  • Next Generation Custom Processor: Xbox Series X is our most powerful console ever powered by our custom designed processor leveraging AMD’s latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. Delivering four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enabling developers to leverage 12 TFLOPS of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance – twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One. Xbox Series X delivers a true generational leap in processing and graphics power with cutting edge techniques resulting in higher framerates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming.
  • Variable Rate Shading (VRS): Our patented form of VRS empowers developers to more efficiently utilize the full power of the Xbox Series X. Rather than spending GPU cycles uniformly to every single pixel on the screen, they can prioritize individual effects on specific game characters or important environmental objects. This technique results in more stable frame rates and higher resolution, with no impact on the final image quality.
  • Hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing: You can expect more dynamic and realistic environments powered by hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing – a first for console gaming. This means true-to-life lighting, accurate reflections and realistic acoustics in real time as you explore the game world.

in an instant

The next
console generation will be defined by more playing and less waiting. And when
play begins, we know many gamers demand ultra-low latency to be as immersed and
precise as possible. To this end, the team analyzed every step between player and
game, from controller to console to display, and asked how we could make it faster.

  • SSD Storage: With our next-generation SSD, nearly every aspect of playing games is improved. Game worlds are larger, more dynamic and load in a flash and fast travel is just that – fast.
  • Quick Resume: The new Quick Resume feature lets you continue multiple games from a suspended state almost instantly, returning you to where you were and what you were doing, without waiting through long loading screens.
  • Dynamic Latency Input (DLI): We’re optimizing latency in the player-to-console pipeline starting with our Xbox Wireless Controller, which leverages our high bandwidth, proprietary wireless communication protocol when connected to the console. With Dynamic Latency Input (DLI), a new feature which synchronizes input immediately with what is displayed, controls are even more precise and responsive.
  • HDMI 2.1 Innovation: We’ve partnered with the HDMI forum and TV manufacturers to enable the best gaming experience through features such as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). ALLM allows Xbox One and Xbox Series X to automatically set the connected display to its lowest latency mode. VRR synchronizes the display’s refresh rate to the game’s frame rate, maintaining smooth visuals without tearing. Ensuring minimal lag and the most responsive gaming experience.
  • 120 fps Support: With support for up to 120 fps, Xbox Series X allows developers to exceed standard 60 fps output in favor of heightened realism or fast-paced action.

The next
generation of game compatibility

benefits of the next console generation extend in every direction, bringing
greater visual fidelity and improved loading speeds to your existing gaming
legacy, in addition to new games. We’re continuing our commitment to compatibility
with Xbox Series X and investing in technology that makes game ownership easier
across generations.

  • Four
    generations of gaming
    Our commitment to compatibility means existing Xbox One games, including
    backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games, look and play better than
    ever before. Your favorite games, including titles in Xbox Game Pass, benefit
    from steadier framerates, faster load times and improved resolution and visual
    fidelity – all with no developer work required. Your Xbox One gaming
    accessories also come forward with you.
  • Smart Delivery: This
    technology empowers you to buy a game once and know that – whether you are
    playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X – you are getting the right version of
    that game on whatever Xbox you’re  playing
    on. We’re making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all our exclusive Xbox
    Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to
    purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever
    Xbox console they choose to play on. This technology is available for all
    developers and publishers, and they can choose to use it for titles that will be
    release on Xbox One first and come to the Xbox Series X later.
  • Xbox
    Game Pass:
    addition to games from across four generations of consoles, our leading game
    subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, will continue to have our first party
    games, like Halo Infinite, included at their launch.  We look forward to millions of you experiencing
    the Xbox Game Pass portfolio and immersing yourselves in a deep library of
    high-quality games, playing those you love now and also discovering your next
    great adventure.

generation with players at the center

Series X is our fastest, most powerful console ever, designed for a console
generation that has you at its center. This means a high-fidelity gaming
experience enclosed in a quiet and bold design, with the ability to discover
thousands of games across four generations, all with more playing and less

it’s empowering amazing creators at our 15 Xbox Game Studios, fueling game
discovery with Xbox Game Pass, or expanding what and where you can play with
Project xCloud, Team Xbox stands for frictionless pathways between players and
the best experiences our remarkable art form has to offer. Xbox Series X
represents that same commitment for players who want immediate immersion in
games that also look and feel better than ever.

We can’t
wait to share more details about the new Xbox with you in the coming months.

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