Join the Illuminati

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Funcom is making this the “Week of the Illuminati” as they continue gearing up for the release of their MMO, “The Secret World“, expected in April. There’s also a Q&A with the developers coming up on Facebook on January 15th, though Funcom has started taking questions so be sure to check it out.

We’ve touched on Secret World before in the past, but in case you’ve missed some of our coverage, it’s not your usual MMORPG.
Taking place in a version of our modern world where conspiracies are all too real and secret rituals steeped in the arcane are as tangible, the Secret World is set to challenge the usual trappings of its genre. It boasts “no levels” in developing your character allowing you to push them in whatever direction you want with a greater emphasis on storytelling not often seen in other titles.
But if the Illuminati’s “civil” exterior is too pedestrian for you, there are two other factions to throw the dice with. You call roll with either the crusading Templars, or sow chaos with those of the Dragon. 
Each faction also has their own starting area based on real-world locales such as New York where the corporate-minded Illuminati call home. Or take the initiation test to help make your decision.
A batch of nifty screenshots have also been released showing off the Illuminati’s digs and a few of the people that secretly hang with them. Check these out right after the jump or visit the main site for a deeper sampling of its secrets.

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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo 3 – Soulstone Trailer

Of course, what would Blizzcon be without some mention of Diablo 3. Blizzard’s dungeon crawler is currently in beta but a firm release date is still in the air.

The latest one shows Deckard Cain’s daughter poring over his notes to discern some meaning from the knowledge he has left behind, eventually stumbling on a villainous vision of apocalyptic terror. In other words, it’s likely that you’ll have to fight what you will see in the trailer below.

It’s also rated Mature, so be warned.

Mass Effect 3 will have multiplayer

Mass Effect 3 will indeed have multiplayer, a major change for BioWare’s space epic that will no doubt spawn countless Internet arguments over whether multiplayer makes sense for the popular series or whether the developers still make the kind of RPGs that made them famous.

I, for one, don’t care whether a game meets genre expectations as much as whether its fun. I can understand why the serious RPG fans among Mass Effect’s players did not care for the (choose your own bias) simplifications/streamlining/dumbing down that BioWare employed in making the game’s sequel, but I personally enjoyed both games and didn’t miss the lack of extensive inventory management while playing the sequel.

That said, the addition of multiplayer, called Galaxy of War, strikes me as a strange choice for ME3. As anyone who has played the games knows, Mass Effect puts players in the role of one Commander Shephard who fights to save the galaxy as he or she sees fit. The games’ appeal stems significantly from its dramatization of space exploration and the moral choices that players must make as they go about their mission.

The kind of multiplayer gameplay that BioWare and game publishers Electronic Arts confirmed today takes some of the focus off Shepard. As announced, multiplayer mode will let players join four-person teams to achieve a military objective that will be relevant to the players’ single-player mission. Shephard is still the star, but Mass Effect 3 will let players join something like a galactic special operations squad if they want to try another type of gameplay.

I can see a number of pros and cons here. On the pro side, I’m happy to see a developer attempt a variation on multiplayer different from the deathmatch modes we’ve seen so many times before in Goldeneye, Medal of Honor, Counterstrike, Halo, Call of Duty, Resistance, etc …

I also like that the idea that multiplayer will let players try different character types, e,g, solider, sentinel, adept, without having to start a new playthrough,

Now for the cons. Adding an entire new mode to what players expect to be the final chapter of an epic trilogy doesn’t make much sense to me. I doubt EA is going to induce new legions of fans to buy the game just because it has multiplayer. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone say they would buy Mass Effect if it had multiplayer.

I’m also not crazy about multiplayer affecting the single-player campaign. Although the idea of soldiers fighting across the galaxy makes sense, those soldiers are not the focus of the story. The multiplayer press release says Galaxy at War is an alternative method of achieving single-player campaign objectives, but the idea of breaking from the game’s narrative to take on the role of a minor character seems like it might be kind of a chore.

If it was up to me, I would have produced Mass Effect 3 as a single-player game and developed the multiplayer as a separate budget title or DLC for fans who want more Mass Effect after completing the trilogy. But then again, I don’t run BioWare nor EA.

Mass Effect 3 is scheduled to come out in March.

Elder Scrolls V gets high-profile cast

Swedish actor Max von Sydow played chess against Death himself in “The Seventh Seal,” the 1957 Ingmar Bergman film dealing with questions about religious faith and the prospect of an afterlife.

Von Sydow is now scheduled to appear in a game itself. Bethesda Softworks announced today that he along with Academy Award-nominated actors Christopher Plummer and Joan Allen will all have roles in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Actress Lynda Carter, best known for her performance as television’s “Wonder Woman,” also appears in the cast.

The cast also includes Michael
Hogan

(“Battlestar Galactica”), 

Vladimir
Kulich
(“The
13th Warrior,” “Smoking Aces”),
 
Claudia
Christian

(“Babylon 5″)
, Diane
Louise Salinger

(“Carnivale”), Renee Victor (“Weeds”), and
Saturday Night Live-alum George Coe.

Skyrim’s release date is scheduled for Nov. 11.

Elder Scrolls V: Gameplay Demos

Almost forgot to post these. If you’re interested in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you’ll want to see these new gameplay videos.

Elder Scrolls V game director Todd Howard, of Bethesda Softworks, walks players through the creation of the game’s vast world, weapons and items and the developers approach to gameplay mechanics.

Links are below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3
.
Skyrim is scheduled for a Nov. 11 release for PC, PlayStation 3 and XBox 360.

The fun side of nuclear war: Bethesda reveals Fallout: New Vegas DLC

The first “Fallout: New Vegas’” next three DLC packs will be released May 17, Bethesda Softworks reported today.

The new episodes follow December’s release of “Dead Money” for XBox Live players and remind this writer that he has not even finished all of Fallout 3′s DLC. (I’ll get into that spaceship someday.)

Fallout fans may remember (perhaps bitterly, if they play on PC or PlayStation 3) that “Dead Money” was a timed exclusive for Xbox and did not arrive on other platforms until late February. There’s no such arrangement this time, so all players who want to give Bethesda their money for more Fallout action can give Bethesda their money at the same time.

Here are descriptions of each episode from Bethesda’s press release:

Available
on May 17, “Honest Hearts” takes you on an expedition to the
unspoiled wilderness of Utah’s Zion National Park. Things go horribly wrong
when your caravan is ambushed by a tribal raiding band. As you try to find a
way back to the Mojave, you become embroiled in a war between tribes and a
conflict between a New Canaanite missionary and the mysterious Burned Man. The
decisions you make will determine the fate of Zion.

 

In
Old World Blues
, releasing in June, you will discover how
some of the Mojave’s mutated monsters came to be when you unwittingly
become a lab rat in a science experiment gone awry. You’ll need to scour
the Pre-War research centers of the Big Empty in search of technology to turn
the tables on your kidnappers or join forces with them against an even greater
threat.

 

Lonesome
Road
,
available in July, brings the courier’s story full circle when you are
contacted by the original Courier Six, a man by the name of Ulysses who refused
to deliver the Platinum Chip at the start of New Vegas. In his transmission,
Ulysses promises the answer as to why, but only if you take one last job
-a job that leads you into the depths of the hurricane-swept canyons of
the Divide, a landscape torn apart by earthquakes and violent storms. The road
to the Divide is a long and treacherous one, and of the few to ever walk the
road, none have ever returned.

Each DLC episode will be sold for $9.99 American or 800 Microsoft Points, for those doing business in the Republic of XBox Live.

Obsidian Entertainment developed the New Vegas games for Bethesda.

The Secret World reveals…more secrets

Funcom has released a new trailer that delves into the shadowy stories and conspiracies making up its backdrop.

Everything from the Tower of Babel to the Ark of the Covenant are being used as potential jumping off points for this new MMORPG. In it, players will take part in a secret war for the fate of the world as three factions will vie for supremacy using magic, technology, and mythology. Sounds like it could be a winning combination.

“Dead Money” gets release date for PC, PS3

“Dead Money,” the first DLC release for “Fallout: New Vegas” is scheduled to be released PC and PlayStation 3 on Feb. 22, Bethesda Softworks announced.

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XBox 360 players got first crack at Dead Money way back on Dec. 22. Bethesda reports that they will release three additional New Vegas expansions within the next few months with simultaneous release dates for all three platforms.

Dead Money, the first DLC for Fallout: New Vegas

Bethesda Softworks on Thursday released its trailer for “Dead Money,” the first downloadable expansion for this year’s “Fallout: New Vegas.”
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Judging by the trailer (and Bethesda Softworks press release) players and three NPC’s get to fight their way through the Sierra Madre Casino in search of a “legendary treasure.” Who would have ever expected a Fallout game to make an allusion to a classic movie?
The DLC is set for release on XBox Live on Dec. 21. Playstation 3 and PC gamers don’t get to play it, at least for now. If you want to watch the trailer while having a chance to read through juvenile comments on which system is superior, watch the trailer on YouTube. Otherwise, please click this link.