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EA are giving Shadow Realm’s team “the ability to fail”

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EA are giving Shadow Realm’s team “the ability to fail”

Shadow Realms is the first new IP we’ve seen from Bioware since they released Dragon Age: Origins back in 2010. It’s easy for a studio to get stuck releasing games in the same franchises, especially when under pressure from a major publisher like EA. While at Gamescom, James Ohlen, Shadow Realm’s creative director, explained to me how he got EA to take a chance on his 4v1 dungeon crawler and how he got the publisher to leave his team alone while they made it.

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Shadow Realms is Left 4 Dead by way of pen and paper RPGs

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Shadow Realms is Left 4 Dead by way of pen and paper RPGs

I’ve heard Shadow Realms described as Evolve with a wizard. Four players fight through a dungeon packed with traps and monsters that are all controlled by a fifth player, the shadowlord. But, in practice, it plays a lot like Left 4 Dead, albeit with the AI director replaced by a human. 

Human directors can be dicks.

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BioWare will support Dragon Age: Inquisition multiplayer "far beyond Mass Effect 3"

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BioWare will support Dragon Age: Inquisition multiplayer "far beyond Mass Effect 3"

Did you hear? Dragon Age: Inquisition has a four-player co-op dungeon-crawling mode. Gasp. 

The more you think about it, actually, the less surprising it gets. There’s precedent set by The Old Republic’s co-op Flashpoints, the recently-announced Shadow Realms and, in particular, the surprising success of Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer.

It’s Mass Effect that BioWare Edmonton are looking to match and outdo in Inquisition’s loot-driven diversion. They have months of updates planned.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition has a four-player co-op dungeon-crawling mode

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Dragon Age: Inquisition has a four-player co-op dungeon-crawling mode

The very first BioWare games had multiplayer. S’true: both Baldur’s Gate games had slightly slapdash, direct-connect co-op - and Neverwinter Nights was designed for modular D&D adventures with small parties of friends.

The newly-announced Shadow Realms is an explicit attempt to recapture that tabletop vibe, and it looks like something similar is going on over in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The sprawling RPG sequel will have a separate multiplayer mode, designed for 20-30 minute bouts of dungeon-looting.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic subscribers are about to get player housing

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Star Wars: The Old Republic subscribers are about to get player housing

BioWare’s first MMO will never be the game Galaxies fans want it to be. And that’s fine - Star Wars: The Old Republic is quite good in its own right. But it can learn lessons from its predecessor, and ensure players are inhabiting its world rather than just passing through.

That’s what next week’s Galactic Strongholds expansion is all about: habitation. Or as BioWare put it, "customizable bastions of personal luxury".

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BioWare's Shadow Realms is a 4 vs 1 "story-driven" action RPG from the SWTOR team

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BioWare's Shadow Realms is a 4 vs 1 "story-driven" action RPG from the SWTOR team

BioWare have finally let us in on what on Earth Shadow Realms is. It’s a co-operative online RPG inspired by pen-and-paper RPGs, from the Austin studio behind SWTOR.

And it is on Earth: set in both a fantasy realm and a demon-infused but contemporary real world populated by “heroes who wouldn’t look out of place in this room".

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BioWare executive producer Casey Hudson flies the coop

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BioWare executive producer Casey Hudson flies the coop

Casey Hudson, whose 16 years at BioWare saw him going from technical artist on MDK 2 to project director on Knights of the Old Republic and the Mass Effect series. Today he announces his departure from the RPG developer after deciding to “hit the reset button." 

He’s not an android, but he is taking a break, leaving BioWare to get some perspective, figuring out what he wants to do.

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BioWare's third Shadow Realms teaser is called Impact; you'll see why

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BioWare's third Shadow Realms teaser is called Impact; you'll see why

Young Chosen Ones are entered into a lottery of ways to discover they’re in possession of powers beyond their understanding. If they’re lucky, they’ll land a blown lightbulb or harmless bit of unintentional snake-charming. If they’re not, they’ll reduce the family home to rubble.

The subject of today’s teaser for BioWare’s Shadow Realms project is an unlucky young lady.

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Mass Effect's Comic-Con panel is up for all to watch and slim on details

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Mass Effect's Comic-Con panel is up for all to watch and slim on details

The Mass Effect panel from San Diego Comic-Con, where we got to see our first look of the new Mako concept, has been posted by BioWare in its entirety on YouTube. The entire thing was pretty vague besides the concepts for the Mako and armour designs, mainly because very little has been locked down at this point. 

“We’re years away from being able to say this is the exact game we’re making," stated Mass Effect producer Mike Gamble. So there’s not much to the 30 minute panel. Since you might not have half an hour to spare when pickings are so slim, take a gander below for some highlights. 

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BioWare tease Shadow Realms project with live-action firecrackers

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BioWare tease Shadow Realms project with live-action firecrackers

Ludicrously exciting prospect, this: BioWare’s first brand new idea in a half-decade. The new game is rumoured to be titled Shadow Realms, and was revealed last week via a brief live-action teaser trailer.

We begin to see familiar themes emerging in this week’s clip: rings of fire, bad dreams and young men thrown from their everyday lives.

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Prepare for Dragon Age: Inquisition with this combat primer

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Prepare for Dragon Age: Inquisition with this combat primer

Don’t let Dragon Age: Inquisition’s month long delay get you down. Think of all the things you could do with that extra month like… watch more Dragon Age: Inquisition videos. 

The folks at BioWare have put together a series of videos highlighting specific gameplay features in the big ol’ dragon-slaying RPG. The first video went up today, showing off the game’s combat, both from an action perspective and a tactical one. 

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Shadow Realms: BioWare teases a new game about losing your car keys

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Shadow Realms: BioWare teases a new game about losing your car keys

It’s been five years since BioWare released a game that wasn’t set in a pre-existing universe, but a new teaser trailer from the studio suggests something that has bugger all to do with lightsabers, dragons or space. 

EA filed a trademark for “Shadow Realms" a while back, and the thumbnail for the teaser shares the name. Unfortunately this doesn’t make things any clearer, as the teaser is a live action trailer about a man in a hoody who seems to have lost his car keys. Take a gander below. 

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Star Wars: The Old Republic preps for largest story expansion since Rise of the Hutt Cartel

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Star Wars: The Old Republic preps for largest story expansion since Rise of the Hutt Cartel

In retrospect, overarching MMO plotlines can sound like supervillain whack-a-mole. The Galactic Republic and Sith Empire might be at war, but together they’ve bopped the Hutt Cartel’s invasion of Makeb on the head, and given the Dread Masters of Oricon a good malleting.

For now, though, Star Wars: The Old Republic’s next major storyline is swathed in mystery, preceded by two new flashpoints that make up its prelude. It might be time to take another look at Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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Dragon Age 3: Inquisition delayed into November

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Dragon Age 3: Inquisition delayed into November

The Dragon Age demo at E3 already had us thinking October was too far away now we have to wait a whole other month for Inquisition. “This last bit of time is about polishing the experience we want you to see," writes executive producer Mark Darrah. “Ensuring that our open spaces are as engaging as possible. Strengthening the emotional impact of the Hero's choices. And ensuring the experience you get is the best it can be in the platform you choose to play on."

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Take another look at Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's quite good.

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Take another look at Star Wars: The Old Republic. It's quite good.

Whatever it was that draws millions to Star Wars, many were unconvinced that The Old Republic had it. The feeling of adventure, heroism, mysticism and drama just wasn’t quite right. In the old days, SWTOR just didn’t feel “Star Wars-y" enough for core fans. It’s not an opinion I ever held, but I am an extremely patient person and SWTOR, in the early days, was tailored to a player like me. But I struggled to argue with the naysayers on a critical point, it was a poor MMO.

Over two years have passed since Star Wars: The Old Republic launched.  And it has changed almost beyond recognition.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic made $165m in 2013, according to SuperData report

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Star Wars: The Old Republic made $165m in 2013, according to SuperData report

Despite Guild Wars 2, Wildstar, and its own efforts to split its playerbase into have-mounts and have-mount-nots, Star Wars: The Old Republic remains one of the best PC MMOs around. 

That’s reflected in the findings of SuperData Research, who report that SWTOR made $165m last year. They say BioWare’s first MMO accounts for 8% of the market for MMOs with subscription options.

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Mass Effect 4 survey suggests BioWare are paying attention to Dark Souls, Diablo and Dota

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Mass Effect 4 survey suggests BioWare are paying attention to Dark Souls, Diablo and Dota

The Mass Effect series has always been better for the odd questionnaire. BioWare used console achievements data to work out what players spent their time doing in the original game, and set about its sequel with knives until there was nothing but good.

The new game looks to be getting a similar treatment. A year and half after longtime series custodian Casey Hudson asked Mass Effect 4 players whether they wanted prequel or sequel, his studio have published a survey.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition E3 demo is chattier and more moustachioed than the last

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Dragon Age: Inquisition E3 demo is chattier and more moustachioed than the last

BioWare’s just posted the second part of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s E3 demo. Part one showed off dragon-slaying and a spot of exploration, but the second part focuses on the Inquisitor's companions and they make their way through Redcliffe Castle. 

We get to see an angrier, more savage version of Leliana, obviously hardened since Origins, and we’re introduced to the moustachioed mage, Dorian, who David Gaider says is the first gay character he’s written. 

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EA are giving Shadow Realm’s team “the ability to fail”

Shadow Realms

EA are giving Shadow Realm’s team “the ability to fail”

Shadow Realms is Left 4 Dead by way of pen and paper RPGs

Shadow Realms

Shadow Realms is Left 4 Dead by way of pen and paper RPGs

The Journey Down: Chapter Two review

The Journey Down: Chapter Two

The Journey Down: Chapter Two review

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Shadow of Mordor preview

Firefall patch packs in the action making it much more fun to play

Firefall

Firefall patch packs in the action making it much more fun to play

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There was an Elite musical co-written by Ian Bell's brother. You can read the whole thing online now

Elite: Dangerous

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Gamescom 2014: Hands-on with Alien: Isolation

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EA

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Galactic Civilizations III beta: now it's getting fun

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All Gone! We've got beta keys for ArcheAge, an MMO with the ethos of Eve

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All Gone! We've got beta keys for ArcheAge, an MMO with the ethos of Eve

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