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Looking back: why it's time to return to Far Cry 2

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Looking back: why it's time to return to Far Cry 2

I've been playing Far Cry 4 a lot the last few weeks, and the main thing that occurs to me is that it's not quite what I expected from the fourth game. I presumed something much different. The Far Cry series has always been about change and experimentation. The first three games, whilst all sharing common elements, are distinctly separate games in tone and feel. 

Far Cry 2 is the most obvious when it comes to being different. On the Venn diagram of Far Cry games it is the one that has the most components outside the shared zone. When it released in 2008 it wasn't fully embraced, with its harsh world and respawning checkpoints seen as a stain on the original game's fun legacy. But how does Far Cry 2 fit in today, in a world where Far Cry 4 is just more of Far Cry 3, and the shooter landscape is a distinctly different beast?

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Escape from Durgesh Prison: Far Cry 4 permadeath DLC ziplines in today

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Escape from Durgesh Prison: Far Cry 4 permadeath DLC ziplines in today

Far Cry 4 looks a bit like Skyrim, sometimes, when you’re picking flowers on the slopes of an unnamed mountain. But there’s something about the quick quest loops, and probably also the shotguns, that leaves it oh so much more frantic.

And if Far Cry’s frantic now, how do you think it’s going to be once you’ve been captured, tortured and stripped of your weapons in its Durgesh Prison DLC? And then, for good measure, set against the clock?

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Assassin's Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC gets a release date and a spiffy trailer

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Assassin's Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC gets a release date and a spiffy trailer

If you’ve not had enough of Assassin’s Creed Unity’s facsimile of revolutionary France, then you might consider grabbing the Dead Kings DLC, due out later this month. 

The DLC is free, to boot. It was originally part of the Unity season pass, but then Unity launched in a sorry state, with bits falling off and others being stuck together with chewing gum, so Ubisoft canned the season pass and is giving everyone Dead Kings. 

Take a look at the spiffy cinematic trailer, below. 

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Ubisoft ponder the future of Far Cry: will it hold dinosaurs, vampires or Vietnam?

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Ubisoft ponder the future of Far Cry: will it hold dinosaurs, vampires or Vietnam?

Ubisoft have sent a handful of Far Cry 4 players messages in the last few weeks. Not to ask them to deliver any ashes, or guilt them into liberating a put-upon Himalayan country, but to inquire as to where they’d like the next Far Cry game to be set. How about a “Jurassic Park style" dinosaur island? Or the Spaghetti Western-era Americas?

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Ubisoft expects Assassin's Creed Unity patch 4 to fix remaining bugs

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Ubisoft expects Assassin's Creed Unity patch 4 to fix remaining bugs

Assassin’s Creed Unity is a billboard sized advertisment for the follies of annualised games, which has lead to folks over at Ubisoft scurrying around, attempting to plug in the gaps and fix the game-breaking bugs. The last patch fixed over 300 bugs, but that didn’t solve all the problems. Patch 4 is underway, and a full preview of what it fixes is expected this week. 

In the meantime, Ubisoft has released details on the biggest problems it’s set to tackle. 

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Rainbow Six Siege won't strip players of control

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Rainbow Six Siege won't strip players of control

The trend of shooters stealing control away from players is an inexplicable one. Increasingly, interacting with the environment - beyond shooting - has been chucked out in favour of micro-cutscenes, where players are forced to watch their characters do things, absent any control. 

Rainbow Six Siege is not going down that path. It’s a skill-based shooter where precision is key, so the trappings of the cinematic shooter don’t really have a place in it. It’s in stark contrast to Ubisoft Montreal’s other shooter series, Far Cry, which espouses freedom but frequently takes it away. 

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The making of Watch_Dogs: money, manpower and Ubi Montreal

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The making of Watch_Dogs: money, manpower and Ubi Montreal

Pick any two Ubisoft earnings calls from the past couple of years - they’re all public record - and you’ll notice a familiar refrain emerge. Every three months, the publisher’s investors would call on Yves Guillemot to slash Watch_Dogs’ R&D costs. And every three months, the mild-mannered but steely CEO would politely refuse.

Those R&D figures represented the cost of doing something new at the bonkers scale Ubisoft routinely work at. Between 2009 and 2014, Watch_Dogs wasn’t just about NPC manipulation - it was a hardcore numbers game.

Try 98 motion capture sessions with 64 cameras - at a rate of two working days a month for five years. Or two new consoles with 150-200 MB of memory - more than enough to dislodge the last generation’s cap on animations, and bring in ballooning team sizes and spiralling budgets to match.

And in the face of it all, Ubisoft Montreal. A Canadian studio with a headcount of over 3000 and the audacity to make the maths work.

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Mea culpa: Ubisoft offers free DLC to Assassin's Creed Unity players and a free game to season pass holders

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Mea culpa: Ubisoft offers free DLC to Assassin's Creed Unity players and a free game to season pass holders

Assassin’s Creed Unity’s launch has been a troubled one. A slew of bugs have hampered the journeys of would-be Assassin’s, resulting in a patch that had to squash over 300 bugs, and issues persist elsewhere. The mobile companion app still doesn’t work on all advertised devices, and it’s the only way to get some of the exclusive content, while the Assassin’s Creed Initiates site is still broken. 

Ubisoft Montreal head honcho, Yannis Mallat posted an update on the Ubisoft blog, acknowledging the unacceptable number of issues. In addition to today’s patch, he said, Ubisoft would be providing free DLC to all Unity owners and a free game to season pass holders. The season pass has also been discontinued. 

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Fraser and Matt have a little chat about Far Cry 4

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Fraser and Matt have a little chat about Far Cry 4

Matt and I have been holidaying in Far Cry 4’s lovely Kyrat for the last week, and we return with enviable tans and only a few bullet wounds. It’s a dangerous place, so we got off lucky. But is it a destination we would recommend? Should you take your Christmas holidays there, or even bring the family? Far Cry does have co-op after all. 

Read on, and enjoy the sort of enlightenment you can only get in Shagri-La.  

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Far Cry 4’s director given go-ahead by Ubisoft for a personal project

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Far Cry 4’s director given go-ahead by Ubisoft for a personal project

The last year has seen Ubisoft kick out some unusual games, from the absurdity-loving 80s homage Far Cry: Blood Dragon to the tear-inducing Valiant Hearts. They’re all personal labours of love for small teams, and it looks like the next unique project from Ubisoft may be coming from Far Cry 4’s creative director Alex Hutchinson. 

Along with members from the Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3 development team, Hutchinson has had a pitch for his game idea greenlit by some head honchos at Ubisoft. 

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Port Review - Far Cry 4

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Port Review - Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4 has been out for a couple of days now, so I’m taking a break from my sojourn in Kyrat, and my mounting body count, to condense my thoughts on how the game fares on PC. I’m still relatively early in the game’s narrative, but I’ve put Ubisoft Montreal’s hunting and killing sequel through its paces. And I’ve got good news. 

While Assassin’s Creed Unity was inconsistent and has required a lot of post-launch attention from Ubisoft, Far Cry 4 is significantly more stable, with better performance on less beefy PCs. They recommended system requirements are the same as Unity's lowest. And it’s absolutely stunning, from the snow and mist-shrouded mountains to the verdant forests lousy with animals. 

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Far Cry 4 pirates accidentally reveal themselves to Ubisoft

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Far Cry 4 pirates accidentally reveal themselves to Ubisoft

Far Cry 4 has an FOV slider, which is lucky - an iffy aspect ratio can cause nausea and leave PC shooters completely unplayable. But the option was added in a launch day patch, and you know who doesn’t download launch day patches? A pirate.

Ne’er-do-wells hammered Ubisoft’s Twitter accounts complaining about the missing feature - an act tantamount to admitting in public that they hadn’t bought the game.

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Far Cry 4's map editor won't allow you to make competitive multiplayer maps

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Far Cry 4's map editor won't allow you to make competitive multiplayer maps

Ubisoft’s had a hard time making friends, lately. News that Far Cry 4’s map editor would not support competitive multiplayer inspired a 17-page thread of anger on the official forums. 

The lack of multiplayer map editing came to light on Twitch, when a streamer played a leaked copy of the game. Before this, Ubisoft had not mentioned its absence. 

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Assassin's Creed Unity AMD performance issues provoke prompt Ubisoft response

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Assassin's Creed Unity AMD performance issues provoke prompt Ubisoft response

Fraser had a fiddle with Assassin’s Creed Unity PC port yesterday, and came away with a number of technical reservations about Ubisoft’s Parisian playground.

While the most dramatic framerate troughs have been reserved for consoles, PC players have discovered performance problems across a range of rigs. In fact, the only point of consistency seems to be that AMD users have had the worst of it.

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Port Review - Assassin's Creed Unity

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Port Review - Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin’s Creed Unity is out, in most places at least, and I’ve spent the day running around France, flashing dashing grins, duelling and looting every treasure chest I could find, all with one goal: to let you know if the PC version is a dud, or if it’s just as shiny and lovely as Versailles. 

Odd system requirements evoked memories of The Evil Within, which was a terrible port, but like a hidden blade to the gut, Unity is quite a surprise. But it’s also very, very inconsistent. 

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Swot up on Far Cry 4 with the 8 minute launch trailer

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Swot up on Far Cry 4 with the 8 minute launch trailer

Far Cry 4 is out in less than a week, and just in case you missed the barrage of trailers detailing every single aspect of this rather large game, Ubisoft has put together yet another, teaching you everything you need to know about the open world shooter.

It’s eight minutes long, which is quite long for a trailer, but not very long for a class. 

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Far Cry 4 isn't getting a Blood Dragon spin-off, but don't count out another surprise expansion

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Far Cry 4 isn't getting a Blood Dragon spin-off, but don't count out another surprise expansion

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was a whole lot of stupid fun, a game where - just in the first 30 minutes - you punch a nuke, unleash dragons on enemies and stab, shot and fling shurikens at Daft Punk lookalikes. Ubisoft Montreal won’t be making a sequel. 

Unfortunate, sure, but the reasons behind the decision make sense and are extremely unexpected for Ubisoft. 

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Ubisoft reveals Far Cry 4 system requirements, and they aren't completely bonkers

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Ubisoft reveals Far Cry 4 system requirements, and they aren't completely bonkers

After Ubisoft announced the rather crazy system requirements for Assassin’s Creed Unity, I was expecting some equally ridiculous requirements for Far Cry 4, but colour me surprised, they are a lot tamer. Ubisoft raised the curtain on the list of things you’ll need crammed inside the shell of your PC today, and while the optimal requirements are a touch high, it should still be playable on a broad range of machines. 

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Here's everything you need to know about Assassin's Creed Unity crammed into one video

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Here's everything you need to know about Assassin's Creed Unity crammed into one video

If you haven’t quite got the jist of Assassin’s Creed Unity from the story, gameplay, co-op and cinematic trailers that we’ve been bombarded with over the last six months, well then you’ve not been paying attention, but not to worry! Ubisoft’s put together yet another, this one covering everything. 

It’s Assassin’s Creed Unity 101. 

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