TIME Video Games

The New Destiny PlayStation 4 Bundle Is What We Deserved Last Year

Activision

Now that's one gorgeous PlayStation 4

The original Destiny “glacier white” PlayStation 4 bundle was a trifle bland. White in that case indicated “builder white,” or white-white. Actual glaciers are nearer turquoise, like the crystal meth Walter White cooked in Breaking Bad. Imagine how much cooler that would have been!

The new Destiny: The Taken King 500GB PlayStation 4 bundle, just unveiled to celebrate the eponymous third expansion’s release on September 15, is by contrast delightfully ornate. The still-white console (with matching controller) now sports a lovely looking silver etching of the game’s cosmic map, with a large gold Guardian’s crest smack in the middle. And the bundle includes a physical copy of the “legendary edition” of the game, including all expansions through The Taken King, plus several “digital collector’s edition” upgrades (exotic Guardian items, emotes, armor shaders and an early access weapon pack).

In short, it’s the PlayStation 4 whoever’s responsible for pulling the trigger on these things should have green-lit a year ago.

Activision

The Taken King, chock full of new stuff to do (including a brand new campaign), is apparently developer Bungie’s plan to shore up the game’s dearth of content. Not that said dearth has dulled Destiny’s luster. Destiny has done very well for publisher Activision, with around 16 million registered users to date.

And it’s probably done very well for Sony’s PlayStation 4, too, what with Sony shrewdly securing enviable timed-exclusive content from day one. In The Taken King‘s case, that includes: a co-op Strike, a PvP multiplayer map, three legendary gear sets and an exotic scout rifle.

No word on a price yet, but last year’s Destiny PlayStation 4 bundle, which included a standard $60 copy of the original game, went for $450 (a 500GB PlayStation 4 currently goes for $400). The legendary edition of The Taken King runs $60 by its lonesome, while the collector’s edition goes for $80. The “limited” and “ghost” editions of the original game, by contrast, went for $100 and $150 respectively.

Wherever the new bundle’s price lands, you’ll probably need a loan to finance whatever eBay scalpers wind up asking, assuming this thing sells after it rolls out on September 15.

TIME Video Games

Watch the First Trailer for the New Minecraft: Story Mode

The adventure game's all-star cast reunites two former Goonies, among others

When Minecraft developer Mojang weirdly joined hands with Telltale Games to metamorphose the sandbox blockbuster into a choose-your-own-adventure in December 2014, I wasn’t sure what to think. Okay, I suppose “Is nothing sacred?” probably went through my head once or twice. Minecraft is about our stories after all, the ones we make up as we play. Foisting a narrative structure on a sprawling toy box makes as much sense as putting Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgård on a Navy boat fighting aliens and calling it Battleship.

That’s if you’re a cynic, anyway. Better things can and do happen — like The Lego Movie, or most of Telltales Games’ oeuvre to date, notably its takes on The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Back to the Future.

So here’s our first trailer for Minecraft: Story Mode, unveiled this weekend at Minecon in London. Make of it what you will; the voice list’s pretty A-caliber. That’s Patton Oswalt playing Jesse, the game’s de facto blockhead savior, joined by Ashley Johnson (Ellie in The Last of Us). The game also stars Corey Feldman, Dave Fennoy, Martha Plimpton, Scott Porter, Brian Posehn, Paul Reubens and Billy West.

The choice-driven Minecraft yarn will unfurl over five episodes and includes locations familiar to Minecraft buffs, like the Nether, Farlands and the End. The first episode should be out later this year for PC and Mac, current and last-gen consoles (excluding Nintendo), iOS and Android.

TIME Video Games

The Fallout 4 Pip-Boy Replica Won’t Work With These Phones

Bethesda

Anything over 6 inches is a no-go

The Fallout 4 limited edition, honking big, bona fide replica Pip-Boy won’t work with the iPhone 6 Plus, in case you’re rocking Apple’s 6.22-by-3.06-inch phablet.

Mind you, Fallout developer Bethesda’s $120 not-so-smartwatch, modeled after the gigantic arm-computer players wear in the series, still looks like something a Ghostbuster might strap on — the antithesis of fashion feng shui, but kind of cool anyway. It’s for diehard fans of the upcoming post-apocalyptic free-for-all, which is to say, probably not you.

But even if you are secretly jonesing to cosplay one of the game’s survivors, you’ll need a phone smaller than 6 inches to get the thing to actually do something recognizably Pip-Boy-like via Bethesda’s companion iOS and Android app. The list of compatible smartphones includes all models of the iPhone from 4 until the iPhone 6. You can apparently insert foam to jury-rig a snug fit for other devices, but the top-end size to jam a phone into the Pip-Boy’s frame is 6 inches. That, among others, means no to the Huawei Ascend Mate 7, no to the Nokia Lumia 1520, and definitely no to Sony’s monstrous Xperia Z Ultra.

The Pip-Boy is essentially a green-screen gauntlet, an old-school IBM mainframe screen you clap to your arm. In the game, it’s the interface to all the fiddly roleplaying minutia like characters stats and inventory. It’s also a pretty slick portable radio, say you want to listen to the Ink Spots croon something ironic as you probe the game’s post-nuclear mutant-scape. The limited edition replica version is mostly fan service most likely to grace display shelving. But if you really want your second screen experience served on your forearm (and you managed to snag one of the things before they sold out), bear in mind it’s not phablet-friendly.

TIME Video Games

Watch What Happens When Mario’s Creator Meets the Muppets

Take a peek behind The Jim Henson Company's studio doors with Nintendo video games luminary Shigeru Miyamoto.

Did you catch Nintendo’s zany puppet-filled E3 showcase? Were you left wondering whether those were just slick Nintendo-fashioned Muppet knockoffs or the real thing?

The video above lays the question to rest. In it, Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto confabs with The Jim Henson Company chairman and Muppets maven Brian Henson, and tours the company’s historic Charlie Chaplin Studios headquarters. (Yep, that’s Mr. Miyamoto grabbing a shot of Kermit with his smartphone.)

That’s also pioneering Zelda and Mario collaborator Takashi Tezuka as well as Nintendo Senior Product Marketing Manager Bill Trinen accompanying Mr. Miyamoto on the tour. It sounds like Nintendo reached out to The Henson Company when it was pulling its idea for the E3 video together. The Henson Company then built the puppet likenesses of Nintendo’s executive team (including Mr. Miyamoto) as well as their elaborate Star Fox analogues. And Nintendo asked Brian Henson himself to sit in ther director’s chair:

Also of interest, it seems The Henson Company gave Mr. Miyamoto a rare award back in 2008 (they’ve only handed out 15 total) for, as Mr. Miyamoto describes it speaking to Brian Henson, “all the games [he] made for children and helping them to dream different dreams.”

“We gave them out to who we thought were the most imaginative people in the world,” says Henson.

“Even now I have it in the center of my room,” says Mr. Miyamoto.

TIME Video Games

Microsoft Is Helping Teachers Use Minecraft in the Classroom

It's long been a popular education tool

Microsoft is opening a new portal that helps teachers learn how to use the open-world mining game Minecraft in lesson plans, the company has announced.

Minecraft’s creators first noticed some teachers and students flocking to the game as a learning tool since it launched back in 2011. Since then, Minecraft has only become more popular in education — teachers have used Minecraft to help students understand Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, DNA extraction techniques and more.

Minecraft compares itself to educational toys like LEGOS, which allow children to exercise creativity and problem solving skills.

“Many of the most fun parts of Minecraft, including the collaborative nature of play, the need to experiment, the open world, the earning of achievements, and the growth of players’ in-game characters as well as their personal skill sets, are also key to excellent learning environments,” reads a Minecraft Education blog post.

Microsoft acquired the Swedish game-maker behind Minecraft, Mojang AB, in September for $2.5 billion.

TIME Video Games

Don’t Expect Batman: Arkham Knight To Work Well on PC Any Time Soon

The game was yanked from store shelves last week, and won't return until sometime this fall

Don’t expect the crippled PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight to run as smoothly as its console brethren for some time.

Game publisher Warner Bros. released the first of presumably several patches to come over the weekend, addressing several crucial issues. But the game’s community manager admits the work ahead is “significant,” writing:

[Developer] Rocksteady is leading our team of developers and partners as we work on the PC performance issues that players have been encountering. The work is significant and while we are making good progress on improving performance, it will take some time to ensure that we get the right fixes in place.

The PC version of Rocksteady’s sprawling Arkham finale arrived in tandem with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions last week. But while the game works near flawlessly on both consoles, it was so catastrophically broken on the PC that Warner Bros. yanked the game from online and retail shelves altogether—an all but unheard of move in the triple-A gaming space.

Read more: 5 Things I Absolutely Love in Batman: Arkham Knight

The game remains unavailable for purchase on digital download service Steam, with a message stating that “Batman: Arkham Knight will be available on SteamOS, Linux and Mac in Fall 2015.” For all those who managed to buy a copy before sales were suspended (and thus still able to play the game), the first patch rectifies a design oversight that prevented players from upping a frame rate cap, fixes various bugs and crashes, and smooths out performance-related issues. You can read the complete fix list here.

The community spokesperson adds that Rocksteady will “continue to make interim patches available to address issues for those still playing the game on PC.”

TIME Video Games

Why Destiny Players Are So Mad About Red Bull

Bungie

Bottoms up, Guardian

Remember that old Red Bull slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”? Well now Red Bull gives you an exclusive quest in Activision’s Destiny, too.

The kicker: you have to buy specially detailed cans of the $2 to $3 popular caffeine, taurine, B-group vitamins and alpine spring water concoction. (You don’t have to drink it, of course.)

The quest, according to Red Bull’s marketing site, is “a never-before-seen, multi-stage mission in The Taken King that will test the speed and strategic abilities of Destiny players in new ways.” The Taken King is developer Bungie’s third expansion for the game, unveiled earlier this month at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles and due out September 15.

The cans will also include bonus XP (experience points) to “help players prepare for the epic quest,” says Red Bull, adding that the marketing push “leverage themes of speed, tenacity and strategy inspired by the energy drink.” Let’s think about the subtext for a moment: buying an energy drink makes you a better killing machine with the athletic output of a person in a chair pushing buttons. The medium is the message!

The bonus XP, which basically ups your XP grabs for a limited period of time, can be redeemed and used from July 1. The new quest itself should be available on or around The Taken King‘s release date.

Destiny, developed by an iconic studio (Marathon and Halo‘s creators) and mega-hyped by one of the largest game publishers in the world, started out as a slightly better than average shooter last fall. It has since, inch by grinding inch, developed into a pretty good one. It’s also sold a bazillion copies, with substantially more registered users (in the vicinity of 16 million) than World of Warcraft when we were at peak World of Warcraft (about 12 million). The Taken King is thus poised to be a major event by forces of numbers alone.

The trouble is, one of Destiny’s weaknesses is that it’s partly a game about doing the same thing over and over. Singular content is thus paramount. Maybe the new Red Bull mission turns out to be tedious rehash. Or maybe it’s totally fantastic. No one knows. But if it’s the latter, I suspect you’re going to have some pretty peeved players.

Is this the future DLC-ification of “leveraged” non-gaming IP? Is the future of nickel-and-dime gaming additives the subsidization of not-universally-beloved corporate mega-brands throughout the food, automotive, banking and big box retail industries?

To be fair, given Red Bull’s move into eSports in recent years — specifically its Red Bull Battlegrounds competition — the deal seems less out of left field than slightly irritating. In the world of inexplicable corporate gaming team-ups, this one has at least that connection to fall back on. And if you’d rather sidestep the Red Bull deal entirely, it sounds like the quest may be available after an exclusivity period that’ll run from September 18 to December 31.

TIME Video Games

Movie Theaters Are Turning Into Video Game Arcades to Make More Money

Full frame of movie audience wearing special 3D gl
J. R. Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett ull frame of movie audience wearing special 3D glasses to view film Bwana Devil which was shot with new natural vision 3 dimensional technology.

Imagine playing games with a few dozen of your closest friends

A few years ago, an old-school video games arcade called Rusty Quarters in Minneapolis closed its doors for good. I knew about it through a local close friend, who’d regale me with tales of the place’s retro pleasures: Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Jr., Joust, Ms. Pac-Man — “Our childhood,” as one of the owners put it in a 2013 Indiegogo pitch to keep the biz afloat.

I never got a chance to visit Rusty Quarters before it shuttered, and I’ve long recognized that the days of plunking quarter (or tokens) into imposing cabinets housing tube screens with vector graphics and devoted system boards are mostly well behind us. But the L.A. Times has an interesting piece up Wednesday about a theater-related gaming push that could fulfill a related longterm (and as yet unfulfilled) dream I’ve nurtured for decades.

Imagine playing Minecraft on a movie screen. And not just you playing by yourself in a dim lit theater, but you alongside dozens of other players, collaborating in realtime by way of laptops operated from the comfort of cozy theater seats.

Despite the annual record-breaking revenue figures you hear trotted out when blockbusters like The Avengers 2 or Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, movie theater attendance has plummeted over the past decade, reports the Times. That’s partially why ticket and concession prices are going up. What else to do with all those warehouses of multistory screened cinematic entertainment, then? Supplement with video games, of course.

The Times reports that some theaters are turning to video games, among other non-movie events, to get more people in the building. On the gaming front, think League of Legends, a popular online real-time strategy game (and mega-popular e-sports entry) in which teams attempt to destroy each others’ bases and champions by deftly plying elaborate offensive and defensive tactics.

My dream was always to play a game like Super Mario 64 on a screen the size of a small building, but therein lies a paradox: some of the most amazing single-player experiences would by definition be too indulgent to justify, contradicting the financial imperative to fill up the house. But multiplayer experiences like Minecraft, or League of Legends? It sounds like the sky’s the limit, and if the concept fires the imagination of gamers attracted by the more immediately social, face-to-face, event-style experience of “theatergaming,” maybe even coming soon to a theater near you.

TIME Video Games

3 Tips to Actually Enjoy Batman: Arkham Knight on PC

They're pretty basic, and won't provide the comprehensive relief PC players deserve, but they're all we've got until publisher Warner Bros. fixes its mess

Having trouble getting the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight running optimally? You don’t say.

For reasons unclear to all save actual PC owners, sadly accustomed to studios releasing unfinished versions of games that work just fine on consoles, the PC version of Arkham Knight has all sorts of problems. Low-res textures, sluggish frame rates, and a cache-related glitch Kotaku claims can prompt the game to delete itself.

To Rocksteady’s credit, the studio’s Arkham community manager has acknowledged complaints are coming from enough people to warrant the following PC support forum disclaimer:

We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.

Note the part about an “external PC development partner.” Translation: Warner Bros. outsourced the PC port. There’s nothing wrong with that in principle, but in this case the disparity between platforms looms large: I can confirm that the PlayStation 4 version, which I’ve had for a while now (reviewed here), was blemish-free from start to finish, and I’m seeing the same reports from Xbox One owners.

If you’re stuck playing the PC version, the following fixes may mitigate some of the issues until Rocksteady (and that “external PC development partner”) gets a patch or three out to rectify the situation.

Update your graphics card drivers

Self-evident, but worth a double-check in case you hadn’t seen that both AMD and Nvidia released updated Arkham Knight-optimized drivers on Monday, June 22. Players have reportedly been experiencing performance issues on both GPU manufacturers’ hardware.

Tweak a simple game file to unlock the frame rate

For some reason, Arkham Knight for PC shipped locked at 30 frames per second. I prefer 30 fps for my own reasons (don’t bother arguing!). But options are our friends, so here’s how to unshackle the frame rate:

Locate the game configuration folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Knight\BmGame\Config\), then open the following file in a text editor:

BmSystemSettings.ini

Scan for the line “MaxFPS=30″ then change “30” to whatever you’d like the frame rate cap to be.

Ix-nay the intro movies

The intro movie plays every time you launch the game, whether you button-mash or no. To fix this and get the game’s menu screen to load promptly after you’ve watched the intro, navigate to the game’s movie folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Knight\BMGame\Movies) and locate the following files:

Intro_BM3Logo_fire.usm
nv_logo.usm

Slap new extensions on the end (after .USM), say something like .BAK, so you can easily find and restore everything if you change your mind down the road.

TIME Video Games

Here’s Why Destiny Is Down Right Now

Bungie

Developer Bungie offers an explanation, sort of

The futuristic first-person shooter Destiny is down for maintenance, according to a tweet from developer Bungie. The game was scheduled to be down for about six hours starting around 8 a.m. PT on Monday across all platforms (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360).

Bungie, the world-famous creator of the Halo franchise, offered little explanation for the scheduled downtime, only noting in the tweet that it was related to “future plans.” The company is planning an expansion for the shooter called The Taken King that will launch on September 15.

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