Dragon Age is all about dusting the cobwebs from all kinds of ancient magics and rituals, so it’s only fitting that it’d be the game to revive – or at least pump one last jolt of life into – the ancient art of the retail expansion pack.
“Awakening,” as it’s known, boasts a higher level cap, new abilities, five new party members, new enemies, and a re-spec option in case you accidentally hamstrung your Warden because you (incorrectly!) figured that no party with a giant friggin’ spider in its corner would need a dedicated healer.
“Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening shows BioWare’s commitment to our fans by delivering new story-driven experiences which enrich the dark heroic fantasy universe our fans have come to know and love,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group, EA, and Co-Founder, BioWare. “The vibrant worldwide community of Dragon Age fans will relish uncovering the secret motivations of the darkspawn, revealing how the darkspawn continue to infest the world despite the defeat of the Archdemon.”
Obviously, then, the story takes place after Origins, which means its venturing further into sequel territory than past BioWare expansion content. This is especially surprising considering Awakening’s March 16 release date, which puts it a mere four months outside Origins’ launch. But will it be worth the hefty $39.99 asking price? We don’t know. If one of those “new abilities” allows our Gray Warden to dish out heals while doing whatever a giant spider can, though, money won’t even be an option anymore.
In our experience, DLC usually serves as the thin mint after a fulfilling game experience. Problem: At our current rate of progress, we’re on track to finish Dragon Age by next holiday season. But, for those of you who haven’t been diagnosed with chronic slowpoke syndrome, BioWare’s putting a fresh helping of content on your already stacked holiday gaming plate.
The new mini-arc “summons players to a new quest in which they will return to the fateful battleground in Ostagar where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out. Players will discover King Cailan’s top-secret political agenda and go behind enemy lines to revisit a place that many feared had been lost to history.”
It’s going for 400 BioWare Points, or $5.00. For now, BioWare’s keeping mum on release specifics, only saying to expect the DLC “this holiday season.”
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re actually off to go fight the Blight at Ostagar right now. Oh man, that King Cailan is so dreamy. We sure hope nothing bad happens to him!
The original Mass Effect rocked our socks. Its DLC, though? Not so much. Fortunately, if a Microsoft Expert Zone retailer quiz is to be believed, BioWare’s making up for Mass Effect’s DLC deficiency in a big way with Mass Effect 2.
According to the quiz, planned content includes “episodic combat via DLC, weapon and armor packs, new downloadable characters for the campaign experience, new downloadable worlds, as well as full campaign expansions for download.”
Here’s hoping that BioWare doesn’t also take the EA Renegade route and peddle things like cheat codes and cosmetic upgrades for exorbitant prices.”Exorbitant,” in this case, meaning “anything other than free.”
BioWare’s finally pegged Mass Effect 2 with a concrete release date and, well, early 2010’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Joining games like BioShock 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and Max Payne 3, ME2 has relocated from the twilight of 2009 to the dawn of 2010. More specifically, the game’s dropping on January 26.
BioWare and EA have also decided to sweeten the pot with some particularly potent preorder bonuses. Preorder from GameStop and you’ll score two in-game items, the Terminus Armor and the M-90 Blackstorm Heavy Weapon. Or, if you put down money on ME2 at any other brick-and-mortar outlets, the Inferno Armor is yours to keep.
The one thing we can’t procure by preordering, though? More time. Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare’s latest 100-hour jaunt into the realm of swords ‘n’ sorcery, is coming out in November. With Mass Effect 2 now making landfall in January, that’s two BioWare RPGs within three months. What to do? Hmmm.
Guess we’ll just have to spend even more time playing videogames. What a shame.
You’ve waited and waited and waited, and you were prepared to wait even longer. Now, though, you can get an early hit of your next MMO addiction. Just head over to the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website, create an account, and – BOOM – you’ll… probably have to wait a bit longer, actually. But only a bit. And then maybe -- if the stars align in your favor – you’ll nab a spot in the game's testing phase.
Be quick about it, though. In case you hadn’t noticed, this game’s got everyone talking, and they’re mostly spouting one phrase: “I want to play this now.” LucasArts agrees with that assessment.
"Testing will be an ongoing process, and spots are limited, so people need to sign up early to give them the best possible chance of getting selected," wrote LucasArts.
So make like the Millennium Falcon and take a lightspeed leap over to the official sign-up page. Vominos!
BioWare recently released some spankin’ new Mass Effect DLC, but, uh, it seems like they forgot to tell everyone. Titled “Pinnacle Station,” the Mass Effect DLC made a minimal impact upon landing, mostly because there was little-to-no pre-release hype associated with its launch. Oh sure, there were some hints – a wink, a nudge, and even a leak – but not a(n official) word from Microsoft or BioWare.
You’d think it’d be in your best interest to promote a new addition to your two year-old game, seeing as how most people have probably shelved it at this point. But then, we’re not marketing experts, so what do we know?
Anyway, the DLC costs five Washingtons – or one Lincoln – and gets Shepard and co. back in shape for Mass Effect 2 with 13 brand new combat missions.
After launching to much fanfare on the Xbox 360, the original Mass Effect disengaged its warp drive and sort of just floated over the PC. Granted, we were given a nice, long laundry list of improvements for our troubles, but still, we’d rather have gotten our shiny new game when it was still shiny and new. Fortunately, though, Mass Effect 2’s PC edition is launching day-and-date with its Xbox counterpart, BioWare said in an interview with VG247.
“This time round, doing it at the same time for a [simultaneous-ship], we can control the differences much more smoothly because it’s the same team building it now,” said Mass Effect 2 associate producer Jesse Houston.
“We learned a lot from building the PC version before, and having built it six months later there was a big difference. So we actually took what we learned from PC and put it back into 360. Fundamentally, we want you to have the same gameplay experience, but just with the difference in controls.”
Both versions of Mass Effect 2 launch this spring. Which is a shame for Microsoft, really, because we would’ve bought 360 Xbox 360s if it meant being able to play this game. Oh well, we're sure they’ll catch us the next time we’re willing to spend $72,000 on a single game. Yep. No biggie.
Every gamer has a story. A story assembled from countless in-game experiences, a collage of victory, defeat, heroics, and villainy. There is, however, a schism in the way these stories play out. Ask someone who’s lived out their gaming days in solitude and they’ll tell you of superhuman feats, epic dramas, and non-player characters who may not have been real boys, but were certainly close enough that Geppetto would’ve been hard-pressed to tell the difference. Pose the same question to multiplayer-centric gamers, though, and you’ll get an earful of teamwork, commitment, practice, and good old fashioned competition.
Neither side, of course, is wrong to enjoy games for their respective reasons. It’s merely a case of different strokes for different folks. However, what happens when single-player and multiplayer modes get married and pop out a child? Well, if you ask developers like BioWare and Splash Damage (who are working on fusing multiplayer and single-player with Star Wars: The Old Republic and Brink, respectively), they’ll tell you such all-encompassing modes are just The Next Big Thing. And they may very well be right about that.
Forgive me, then, for objecting to this holy matrimony.
Clicking the read more link is a single-player experience, but reading and responding to the article is multiplayer! These are important distinctions (no they're not).
With Star Wars: The Old Republic making such lofty claims as being the Death Star to World of Warcraft’s Alderaan, many people forget that the upcoming MMO is actually BioWare’s first. Fortunately, the renowned RPG factory is no longer orchestrating the colossal space opera all by its lonesome. “Yeeeehaw,” we can only imagine Mythic screaming, shortly after the two developers’ recent merger. “BioWare, let’s blow this thing and go home!”
“Oh yeah, without a doubt,” BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk told Eurogamer when asked if Mythic would be lending some of its considerable MMO know-how to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s development.
Moreover, Zeschuk added that the two merged-but-still-somehow-independent companies have a lot to gain from swapping notes – not just for The Old Republic, but for Mythic’s games as well.
“I think we always have lots of opinions to share, Ray and I,” he said. “We've both played Warhammer, and actually I've still been playing it on and off for a while, so I think for us it's not too much a popularity boost as just the fact that we can probably bring perspectives to the table that will be new and perhaps helpful to the guys from Mythic in the same way from an online perspective they can certainly share with us.”
And so, the two companies lived happily ever after, developing games about endless slaughter in pursuit of loot and power. *Sniff* Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it?
Hot on the heels of Bethesda and id’s recent trip down the aisle, we’ve got another pair of game developers joining hands. This time, though, the two developers were already living in the same bloc of the EA Empire, so no one actually bought anyone. Instead, RPG powerhouses BioWare and Mythic simply did a bit of restructuring, resulting in a new RPG and MMO super team.
BioWare General Manager Ray Muzyka is taking the reins of the newborn colossus as General Manager, while BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk is serving as Group Creative Officer. Meanwhile, non-group operations are to be managed by respective studio heads, with Rob Denton stepping in as General Manager of Mythic.
But what about former Mythic General Manager and co-founder Mark Jacobs? Well, as of June 23, he’s out. Apparently, Jacobs left of his own accord, though according to an unnamed former Mythic employee, that’s probably hogwash.
“People are shocked and in disbelief about Mark leaving,” he told Massively. “…I can’t even fathom Mark leaving a company he loved so much, it was his life. Personally, I can’t see that this is voluntary in any shape or form.”
Granted, that same source also said that Jacobs had been on sabbatical for the month leading up to his departure, so he’d been doing the business equivalent of tearfully averting his eyes any time someone mentioned the words “leave” or “goodbye” for quite some time – since long before employees knew about the merger, it seems.
So, anyone have any conspiracy theories they’d like to throw out? Aside from the old “EA has a secret underground puppy slavery ring” song and dance, we mean. At least put some effort into it.