#171: Dan Houser leaves Rockstar

TODAY: PlatinumGames wants to revive dragon'em-up Scalebound — Fallout 76 will finally get human NPCs in the upcoming Wastelanders update — Nvidia joins the cloud gaming competition with GeForce Now

Top Story

Rockstar Games’ co-founder Dan Houser leaves after “extended break”

Dan Houser, one of two brothers who founded Rockstar Games, is leaving the studio behind billion-dollar franchises like Grand Theft Auto. He's already been on a break since early 2019, and will leave for good on March 11th.

Dan Houser founded Rockstar in 1998 with his brother Sam, and was instrumental in writing and producing games like Red Dead Redemption, Bully and Max Payne 3.

Housers among Time’s 100 most influential in 2009

"After an extended break beginning in the spring of 2019, Dan Houser, Vice President, Creative at Rockstar Games, will be leaving the company", reads a filing posted on Take-Two’s investor relations website. Sam Houser will stick to his position as President of Rockstar Games.

The news comes right before Take-Two Interactive's third quarter earnings report. Rockstar recently launched Red Dead Redemption 2 and its online service Red Dead Online on PC, first on Epic Games Store and shortly after on Steam.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which Hollywood star played Vice City protagonist Tommy Vercetti?

  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Ray Liotta
  • Burt Reynolds
  • Danny Trejo

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today's issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

News Bits

Saints Row IV coming to Switch

Saints Row IV is bringing its brand of vulgar and insane action to Nintendo Switch. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected features the original game as well as all 25 DLC packs. Step into the stylish shoes of the ‘Super Hero-in-Chief’ and stop an alien invasion! Get ready to jump the shark on March 27th, 2020.

PlatinumGames “would love to return to” Scalebound if Microsoft lets them

PlatinumGames' dragonlicious Scalebound was cancelled in January 2017 after nearly 4 years in development. The IP is wholly owned by Microsoft, but PlatinumGames “would love to return” to it “if the opportunity arises,”. The action-RPG was unveiled at Microsoft's E3 press conference in 2014.

Daily Fact

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations "not a true sequel"

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations from developer CyberConnect2 and publisher Namco Bandai wasn’t exactly a sequel, according to studio CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama.

The clue was in the name, as ‘Generations’ was meant to cover “not only the Shippuden generation, but also the younger one as well.” Why? Apparently, fans were clamoring for characters like Zabuza and Haku, but they wouldn't fit into a proper Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 sequel.

This also meant they had a harder time merging Part I and II of the series into a single cohesive and balanced game, and why they also decided to focus on ‘side stories’ rather than diverging from the anime and manga.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today's fact.

Daily News

Bethesda launches Fallout 76’s free Wastelanders update April 7 with voiced NPCs

Bethesda's troubled MMO Fallout 76 is getting updated again, this time introducing human NPCs with dialogue.

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Since launch, the only humans in the game world have been players, but the Wastelanders update will add a “...brand-new main questline, new locations, new enemies, new weapons, a new reputation system and much more.”

West Virginia might finally have something to say

The new NPCs will be fully voiced, like in the earlier single-player games in the series. You won't have to pay for the update, and Fallout 76 will also finally launch on Steam. Both the standard and deluxe version will become available on April 7th.

Nvidia’s GeForce Now PC streaming service exits Beta for wider launch

Remember Stadia? Neither do we, but Google's floundering service has clearly not discouraged other companies hungry for a slice of the game streaming pie: GPU maker Nvidia is launching their own service called GeForce Now.

Nvidia is taking on Stadia and xCloud, allowing you to stream games to Windows, MacOS and mobile devices plus the Nvidia Shield. So what makes this different from the existing services?

Your games in the cloud, with ray-tracing

The service apparently hooks into existing game stores like Epic Games Store, Steam and UPlay, so you can play your own games on Nvidia's servers rather than buying them again or being limited to a catalog. Hundreds of games are already supported, and all you need to get started is Nvidia's 100MB app.

Only mouse and keyboard are supported for now, but controllers can be used ‘where it makes sense’. Sound too good to be true? Well, the service has been in beta for most of 2019 and 300,000 users have clocked 70 million hours of playtime already.

There's a free subscription allowing you to play one-hour sessions, while a $4.99 monthly fee gives you priority access, longer play sessions and games rendered using a ray-tracing RTX GPU. Check out the official GeForce Now website for more.

Game Review - The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics

Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics

Developed by BonusXP, published by En Masse Entertainment

Out now on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

There is something discordant about a tactical turn-based strategy game inspired by a Jim Henson property. Granted, the 80s fantasy flick isn't exactly Sesame Street and the new Netflix series isn't bright and cheerful either, but there is still something about Jim Henson's weird fantasy world that's distinctly ... not turn-based?

Is Jim Henson the new Tom Clancy? Probably not

You play a band of Gelflings attempting to overthrow their oppressive overlords, The Skeksis, in an unfortunately obviously budget-grade Final Fantasy Tactics-knockoff. In-game art and animation is perfunctory, and the story is told by barely animated layered stills and good, old-fashioned text and doesn't really do much to pull you in unless you're already a die-hard fan of the original movie or the Netflix show. The game costs $20, and it shows.

The combat is fairly typical tactical-strategy fare, with characters taking turns to move and attack on a grid. First you move, then you perform an attack or use an ability. The biggest strategic factor is controlling the high ground, which reduces the damage you take. You also get to specialize your characters as they level up and unlock new skills.

The difficulty is harsh but fair, with the occasional difficulty spike. Fortunately you can adjust the difficulty at any time to avoid frustration, but that's a poor excuse for bad game balance. And hey, if you think it's too easy, you can instantly make it more punishing!

Serviceable turn-based strategy, but nothing more

Unfortunately, the game is already fairly punishing and is particularly stingy about rewarding you cash to buy new equipment. The game also has a nasty tendency to unlock much better and more expensive gear right after you buy an already expensive and now clearly inferior piece of equipment. While your equipment matters less than your tactical acumen, nicely paced unlocks would make the game feel more varied and rewarding.

The Switch version is competently executed, with a fairly solid 30FPS frame rate – not that it matters all that much in a turn-based strategy game where you spend most of your time looking at a static screen while plotting your next move. The user interface suits both docked and handheld mode, but could have benefitted from touch screen controls, which are sadly absent.

Unless you are a die-hard fan of The Dark Crystal, there's not much reason to play this game since there are many much better tactical turn-based strategy RPGs out there. The license can't elevate the game beyond mediocrity, and will probably feel like a missed opportunity even if you care about the source material.

4/10

Message from Today's Sponsor

Iconoclasts Xbox Launch Contest - Win the New Xbox Series X!

The 23rd January, 2020 marked the Two Year Anniversary of Iconoclasts! Since launching, Iconoclasts has garnered much praise, including an 85%+ score on Metacritic, and we now look forward to introducing the game to new players on the Xbox One.

To celebrate the release of Iconoclasts on Xbox One we are giving away the new Xbox Series X plus three launch titles to one lucky gamer. To enter all you have to do is to complete at least one of the actions on Gleam. The more entry points you earn the higher your chance of winning.

- Bifrost Entertainment

News Bits

Moving Out is moving in this spring

Don't you love it when friends ask you to help them move? Well, if you're lucky they're just inviting you over to play Moving Out, a four-player couch co-op game where you “relocate furnishings in increasingly bizarre locations in a fast-paced furniture moving simulator”.

Your new job as Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technicians (F.A.R.Ts) at Smooth Moves starts April 28th on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch.

Hellpoint promises a hell of a hard time

Hellpoint is an intense, dark Souls-like sci-fi RPG that's not afraid to kill you as you struggle in “tight and unforgiving combat” aboard a derelict space station. Cradle Games and tinyBuild will unleash the Kickstarter-funded game for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox and Switch on April 16th.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which Hollywood star played Vice City protagonist Tommy Vercetti?

Answer: Ray Liotta!

Rockstar owes a lot to Hollywood, including many of their games' best character performances.

While the Grand Theft Auto series might be most famous for its ultraviolent sandbox gameplay, it is also a star-studded series: Grand Theft Auto III featured Michael Madsen and and Kyle MacLachlan, while Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sported big names like David Cross, Peter Fonda and James Woods

But Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is so far the only game in the series to cast a bona-fide Hollywood star as the lead character: Ray Liotta as Tommy Vercetti. It wasn't the first time a big-name Hollywood actor starred in a videogame, but it was certainly the first time an actor had such a big positive impact on quality.

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