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PS4 update rolls out USB music player, Share Play next week

The PlayStation 4's version 2.0 system update will arrive next Tuesday, October 28, PlayStation announced via Twitter. Codenamed "Masamune," the update adds the ability to play music from a USB stick connected to the console. As revealed earlier this month, it also features more game broadcast tools, such as the ability to archive sessions and search for specific games being broadcast, as well as themes to spice up the system's layout.

One of the major features being added to the console next week is Share Play, the pass-the-controller-style cooperative multiplayer game sharing mode announced by Sony at its Gamescom 2014 event in August. Though limited to one-hour increments, the feature will be inherent to all PS4 games, allowing PS Plus members to let a friend take over a game the latter doesn't own via PSN. The Masamune update also adds a dedicated YouTube app as well as improved game library filtering options.
[Image: Sony]

Puzzling platformer Forward to the Sky scales Greenlight's tower

What do you get when you blend a third-person perspective, puzzles, platforming mechanics, JRPG-inspired art and a big sword together? Forward to the Sky, of course, the 3D puzzle-platformer-with-a-big-sword game from independent developer Magichnology. The Taipei, Taiwan-based developer added its first game to the list of Steam hopefuls on Greenlight, awaiting community approval for distribution on the PC platform.

Starting out as a side project for the developer in September 2013, the game is set in a "sky tower ruin." Players control a princess that gathers crystal pieces while ascending the tower and learning about a disaster that seemingly erased history. Magichnology crafted six levels for the game, each highlighted by the game's "relaxing mood, bright art" and "adventurous but peaceful music." Forward to the Sky is slated to launch in Q4 of this year on PC, Mac and Linux for $10.
[Image: Magichnology]

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Retro RPG Pier Solar HD out for Wii U on November 6


The Wii U version of WaterMelon's classic-styled JRPG Pier Solar HD will hit the eShop on November 6, suffering a brief delay after its recent cross-platform launch.

Tracing its origins back to a Sega Genesis homebrew release in 2010, Pier Solar later transitioned to modern platforms thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Pier Solar premiered for the PlayStation 4 and PS3 in September, arriving alongside releases for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Ouya.

Pier Solar HD boasts stylish art and turn-based combat that recalls the 16-bit RPG era. A release for the Xbox One is also in the works.

[Image: WaterMelon]

3D Realms returns with 32-game Anthology release


Once-defunct publisher 3D Realms has re-opened its doors, releasing a 32-game compilation and promising a slate of upcoming releases from a newly-assembled staff.

The 3D Realms Anthology, available for $19.99 from the publisher's website, collects Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy, Wolfenstein 3D, Rise of the Triad: Dark War, and other classic PC games in a DRM-free package. Many of the company's past works -- including Alien Carnage, Major Stryker, and Stargunner -- are also available as free downloads.

3D Realms shed its former staff in 2008, but retained its rights to Duke Nukem and other landmark PC franchises. Rise of the Triad developer Interceptor Entertainment acquired label owner Apogee Software earlier this year, and now controls all associated IP and branding.

[Video: 3D Realms]

Assassin's Creed: Unity shows off sneaking, sweeping, PC specs


There's lots of room for activities in Assassin's Creed: Unity – activities such as murder mysteries, treasure hunts and high-intensity sweeping, as shown off in the game's Open World Activities trailer.

To prepare your rig for these feats, Ubisoft has released PC requirements for the game, including a 64-bit operating system, 6GB RAM minimum and 8GB RAM recommended, 50GB hard drive space and, for multiplayer, 256 kbps or faster broadband connection. See the full requirement list below.

Assassin's Creed: Unity will run at 30fps on both PS4 and Xbox One, and developers have said that there's no real advantage to a game running at 60fps, the framerate some fans would rather see. The game's AI is what makes a top-tier framerate difficult to reach, even on new consoles, Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand said: "We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we're still limited to 30fps."
[Image: Ubisoft]

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League of Legends tops MMO revenue list, Hearthstone No. 10

MMO games, including MOBAs, compose 21 percent of the worldwide digital game market and are on track to generate $11 billion in revenue this year alone, SuperData Research reports. By 2017, that number is expected to rise to $13 billion.

In 2014, the No. 1 MMO in terms of revenue is League of Legends, which has so far generated $946 million, beating out subscription games such as World of Warcraft, which is No. 4 on the list with $728 million. World of Tanks comes in at No. 5 and represents the largest revenue gap on the graph at $369 million. Dota 2 is No. 9 with $136 million, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is No. 10 with $114 million. See the full graph below.

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35 minutes of Smash Bros. Wii U facts and fights



Today, Nintendo broadcast thirty minutes of Smash Bros. Wii U action for the world, revealing fifty facts about the upcoming game. While a good portion of the Nintendo Direct episode was reiterating information we've already learned about the anticipated game, there were a handful of announcements – such as the reveal of an offline 8-player mode.

Other information revealed included notes on the Wii U game's soundtrack, which Nintendo announced would feature original music, "almost all" of the tunes from the recently released Smash Bros. 3DS and tracks from the history of games associated with the fighters.

In the spirit of catching them all, Nintendo also revealed that owning both the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash Bros. give players access to Mewtwo as a playable fighter. The classic Pokemon character is scheduled to be available for download in Spring 2015.

For more Smash Bros. and to hear the most excitable announcer in history, watch the video above.

Metareview: Civilization: Beyond Earth

Joystiq's Alexander Sliwinski gave 2K's interstellar strategy game Civilization: Beyond Earth four stars in his review, alternately praising it as "a good game in the context of the Civilization franchise" while also framing it as "a cut-rate disappointment" compared to its inspiration, Alpha Centauri.

While some feel that it comes up short compared to its predecessors, Civilization: Beyond Earth still has a lot to offer for fans of the strategy genre. Here's a small sampling of what critics are saying.

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Up to 8 players brawl in Super Smash Bros. Wii U

According to today's Nintendo Direct stream, when Super Smash Bros. hits the Wii U it will boast "the highest quality visuals" the series has ever seen running at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. That's a good thing too, as you'll need those extra pixels to contain the game's simultaneous 8-player brawls.

The inclusion of an 8-player Smash mode comes with two caveats: 8-person melees are only available when playing offline and not all stages are eligible for that many combatants. Instead, the game features specially-designed, extra large stages to accommodate all those fighters. As you can see from the Nintendo Direct archive video below the break, even these designated stages quickly grow very chaotic when eight fighters are duking it out.

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Digital Foundry looks into Evil Within pre-patch problems

Our review of The Evil Within wasn't too keen on Shinji Mikami's latest survival horror epic, but according to the techies at Digital Foundry, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game are worse off if you play offline and forego the day-one patch.

As you'll see in the performance comparison video beyond the break, the un-patched game runs 30 to 40 percent slower than its updated counterpart. The slowdown is so bad at times that when creating the video, Digital Foundry couldn't even properly record its findings and "needed to modify the values of our frame-time graph when creating the performance video, in order to accommodate gameplay pauses of up to 100ms." Additionally, while the patched game runs at a resolution of 1920x768, the unpatched game can only manage 1600x900 awkwardly crammed into a 1920x768 window. "What's baffling, though, is that even with a lower resolution, the performance is so much lower all around than the patched product," Digital Foundry adds.

While the development team's impressive work on the game's 1.01 patch can only truly be appreciated when witnessing the technical troubles of its original incarnation, it does drive home the worrying nature of our new "always online" hobby.
[Image: Bethesda Softworks]

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Upgraded Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas coming to Xbox 360

Following a recent leak that exposed Xbox 360 Achievements for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Rockstar Games has confirmed that an updated version of the open-world crime sandbox is headed to Microsoft's moribund console.

Beyond confirming that the Achievements discovered by fans are legit, Rockstar has offered a modicum of information on what will be included in the San Andreas redux. Obviously, the game will feature Achievement support, and the Rockstar support page notes that the game will feature 720p resolution and "enhanced draw distance."

Lacking from Rockstar's description was any mention of how much the digital re-release will cost, but we won't have to wait long for the answer to that mystery. Rockstar plans to launch Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the Xbox 360 on October 26.
[Image: Rockstar Games]

NBA Live 15 six-hour trial now available via EA Access

Sports fans can check out the Xbox One version of EA's NBA Live 15 a week before it hits retail via the EA Access subscription service, which serves up a time-limited version of the upcoming basketball sim starting today.

EA Access subscribers can spend up to six hours with NBA Live 15, and are granted access to all of its included gameplay modes. All player progress made during the trial will carry over to the full version of NBA Live 15, and members can unlock the upcoming digital release at a 10 percent discount.

EA Access is currently exclusive to the Xbox One console. NBA Live 15 premieres digitally and at retail on October 28 in North America, October 31 in Europe.

[Image: Electronic Arts]

Microsoft unveils Kinect PC adapter, issues SDK 2.0 for free

Today must be Christmas for would-be Kinect hackers as Microsoft has made it even easier to dig into the guts of its 3D camera peripheral with both new software and hardware.

Most notably, Kinect fans can download the gadget's new software developer's kit at no charge. Not only does SDK 2.0 include "over 200 improvements" since June's public preview, Microsoft also claims it's a "substantially more stable and feature-rich product." That should come in handy for developers hoping to sell their Kinect-enabled wares through the Windows Store, as alongside the new SDK 2.0, Microsoft now allows Kinect developers to commercially deploy their programs through the digital distribution platform. "This was a frequent request from the community and we are delighted to enable you to bring more personal computing experiences that feature gesture control, body tracking, and object recognition to Windows customers around the world," reads Microsoft's announcement.

Additionally, Microsoft has released a $50 Kinect adaptor that uses USB 3.0 to connect to a Windows 8 or 8.1 PC. While it won't replace the Windows-native Kinect for Windows camera peripheral, the adapter should make it easier to link an Xbox One Kinect with your home computer.
[Image: Microsoft]

Joystiq Streams: Relapse with Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions [Replay]

Update: It's over, so catch the full replay after the break!

Don't worry, the hard days are all in the past. The habit's been kicked. No more obsessing over leader boards. No more retries at dawn, trying to best your friend's achievements. No more shakes when you put down the controller. Geometry Wars 2 was 2008! We've all moved past it. Wait. There's a Geometry Wars 3? It warps and distorts the old twin-stick shooting? Fine. Just one play. It's easy to stop after just one round. Let's do this.

Lucid Games joins Joystiq Streams today to give us an early taste of Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions. Starting at 5:15PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch, Ludwig Kietzmann (@LudwigK) will pick up his controller and relapse hard.

Joystiq.com/Twitch broadcasts live every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM EST, but if you want to catch streams of weird games and upcoming releases like this one, follow us on Twitch to know whenever we go live.

[Images: Sierra]

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Joystiq Discussion: Will you get a new console this fall?

One year later and the current crop of gaming machines are looking a whole heck of a lot different than they did in the fall of 2013. Mealy launch exclusives like Knack, Ryse and Nintendoland are distant memories. Now the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U are cooking with gas. Sony's got heaters like Infamous: Second Son, Xbox One's got freaks like D4 alongside bruisers like Forza Horizon 2, and Wii U has heavyweights like Mario Kart 8 and weirdoes like Bayonetta 2 backing it up.

The question now is: Is that enough? If you haven't taken the plunge yet, have any of the new machines sufficiently convinced you? Are you considering adding a second new console to your living room domain? Or have you walked away from the console world for good? Take the poll then take to the comments to discuss.


[Images: Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft]

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 117: The Evil Within, Far Cry 4, Bayonetta 2

Latest episode: Friday, October 17th, 2014

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