This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about co-op shooter, The Anacrusis, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves collection, Carrie-Anne Moss in Horizon Forbidden West, recipe app Pestle, and flying taxis from Wisk.
Technological World for January 26, games: The Anacrusis kicks, Uncharted remasters shine, Carrie-Anne Moss comes to Horizon Forbidden West
The Anacrusis has an AI to beat all, the last two Uncharted games have been remastered for the PS5, and Carrie-Anne Moss is in Horizon Forbidden West.
Co-op shooter the Anacrusis hits hard with early access release
A new game from Seattle-based Stray Bombay is great fun.
The Anacrusis is a co-op shooter that puts four players in a starship that has been overrun by aliens.
Available on Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox S/X and with Xbox Game Pass, the sublime art style calls back to seventies sci-fi television show, Space: 1999.
But the gameplay is decidedly modern. The four players have to cooperate and collaborate to survive and move to safe zones and checkpoints.
Comparisons to Left 4 Dead are expected and warranted. Chet Faliszek was on the development team that created the zombie survival game for Valve.
In the Anacrusis, the entire flow of the game is controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence that Stray Bombay calls, the “AI Director 2.0”. This relies on software that can subtly shift what it does in response to the players, and it’s one of the things that is a specialty of Stray Bombay co-founder Kimberly Voll who has a doctorate in computer science and once taught at UBC.
For players what this means is that while every game session is frantic and frenetic, it’s never overwhelming. The AI Director 2.0 is able to set the challenge at exactly the level of the players.
The Anacrusis is in early access, but it’s already delivering an unparalleled experience.
Return to the best of the Uncharted series with new Legacy of Thieves Collection
Next month we get to see how well Tom Holland can embody the character of Nathan Drake. While you’re waiting, those of you with a PS5 should pick up Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, which includes remasters of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy.
A Thief’s End was the last game to feature Nathan Drake as the protagonist and wrapped up the epic tale of he and his brother, The Lost Legacy gave us a few hours with Chloe Frazer, who was a recurring character and thorn in Drake’s side, on her own adventure.
These games can be played in 4K or at 120 frames per second, and if you’ve got saved games on your PS4, you can transfer them over and load them into the new titles. The collection will be coming to Windows later this year.
Carrie-Anne Moss joins the cast of Playstation exclusive, Horizon Forbidden West
Action role-playing game, Horizon Forbidden West releases on February 18 and late last week we learned about some new additions to the cast.
Ashly Burch returns as the heroine, Aloy, who is joined by John MacMillan and John Hopkins reprising their roles as Aloy’s comrades, Varl and Erend.
Lance Reddick is also back as Sylens, the enigmatic character who has his own agenda even while he acts as a guide of sorts to Aloy.
Additions to the cast include Angela Bassett as one of Aloy’s antagonists in Forbidden West, Noshir Dalal as a new friend, Kotallo, and Canadian Carrie-Anne Moss, who is playing Tilda, a secretive character with some connection to the past.
Horizon Forbidden West will be available on PS4 and PS5.
Technological World for January 26, consumer tech: Create a cookbook with Pestle, the future of flying taxis
Pestle is a new recipe collecting app for iPhones and iPads, Boeing bets on flying taxis.
Collect recipes and cook with others using new Pestle app for iOS
Released this week is Pestle, a new app for iPhones and iPads that helps you build your own cookbook with recipes you find anywhere on the internet. Simply “share” a recipe you’ve discovered to the Pestle app.
The free app scans recipes, pulls the necessary information, and uses that data to build out a recipe in your own, personal cookbook.
It also walks you through recipes, step-by-step, and will scale the recipe if you’ve got more (or fewer) mouths to feed than the recipe calls for. And it will do the conversions for you.
And with SharePlay integration that comes with iOS 15, you can cook with someone else over FaceTime, so you can share your favourite recipe or get tips from an expert.
Boeing is betting big on electric autonomous flying taxis
Boeing has injected $450 million into Wisk, the developer of an “all-electric, self-flying air taxi.”
“This investment will further advance the development of Wisk’s 6th generation eVTOL aircraft, a first-ever candidate for certification of an autonomous, all-electric, passenger-carrying aircraft in the U.S.,” the company explained in a release announcing the investment.
Wisk plans on having its fleet of flying taxis in the air within five years of the certification of that sixth generation machine.
Wisk was created in 2019 as a joint venture between Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk and Boeing.
The video below shows a test flight of a fourth generation model flying autonomously.
Technological World for January 19, games: Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard, Nobody Saves the World, Splinter Cell being remade by Ubisoft Toronto
Microsoft announces a massive deal to purchase Activision Blizzard, Nobody Saves the World released by Drinkbox Studios, and Ubisoft Toronto is remaking 2002’s Splinter Cell.
Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion
Microsoft shocked the gaming industry on Tuesday with an early-morning announcement that it had come to an agreement to purchase game developer and publisher Activision Blizzard.
The cash offer of $68.7 billion USD amounts to $95 per share. The deal will have to clear a number of hurdles including a look by governmental anti-trust regulators, but assuming it clears those will close sometime mid next year. In the meantime, Activision Blizzard will continue to operate independently.
In an email to Microsoft staff, Satya Nadella wrote that, “Gaming has been key to Microsoft since our earliest days as a company. Today, it’s the largest and fastest-growing form of entertainment, and as the digital and physical worlds come together, it will play a critical role in the development of metaverse platforms.”
While Nadella invoked the metaverse I believe that was more to capitalize on the buzzword than due to any metaverse strategy.
This acquisition makes sense for Microsoft because it brings ownership of the lucrative Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo franchises, not to mention those that Activision mothballed, like Guitar Hero and Skylanders.
These titles boost the Xbox Game Pass library, which Microsoft revealed has reached 25 million subscribers.
Oh, and Activision Blizzard also owns the mobile game publisher, King, which created Candy Crush.
Also part of the announcement on Tuesday was news that Xbox head Phil Spencer has been promoted to chief executive officer of Microsoft Gaming, a reorganization of Microsoft’s gaming business that pulls all its pieces together under one umbrella.
This is also significant, because Spencer has been a booster of the gaming community, and since he’s been in control of the business for Microsoft, he’s built on that belief. Giving him this portfolio is a way of acknowledging his impact on the company.
In a blog post, Spencer recognized the work that would need to be done to make up for the serious missteps by Activision Blizzard in confronting and reconciling serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
“We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment,” wrote Spencer. “We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.”
And the Xbox gaming leadership team, headed by Spencer, includes seven females on the twelve-person board.
People are already wondering if games like Call of Duty and Overwatch will, going forward, be exclusive to Microsoft platforms, Windows and Xbox. I think this is likely, but both Spencer and Nadella made specific reference to how this acquisition would support cloud gaming. Spencer wrote that the additions to the library will allow, “more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.”
With cloud servers, Spencer can keep that promise and still keep those games exclusive.
Nobody Saves the World is new from Toronto’s Drinkbox Studios
Toronto indie developer Drinkbox Studios launched a new game this week.
Nobody Saves the World is a top-down action role-playing game in which you start off as a literal nobody. That blank slate provides you with the opportunity to transform into different “Forms” like a rat, or a ghost, or a dragon.
Each form has unique abilities that you can use to complete quests and explore dungeons, and you can customize your own character by mixing up the abilities of the Forms you’ve discovered.
Nobody Saves the World is available on Windows and Xbox Series X/S and is available with a subscription to Xbox Game Pass.
Ubisoft Toronto is making a new Splinter Cell game
Late last year, Ubisoft Toronto let it slip that the studio is leading development on a remake of the original Splinter Cell game.
Released in 2002 with Canadian actor Michael Ironside playing the enigmatic covert agent Sam Fisher, Splinter Cell was a technical marvel, taking advantage of the Xbox console hardware to render light and shadow in ways that had never been done before in home video games.
The game was developed at Ubisoft Montreal and took seriously its challenge to provide better stealth gameplay than the Metal Gear games from Hideo Kojima and Konami.
In a post about the remake, creative director Chris Auty says, “With this remake, we are building a solid base for the future of Splinter Cell.”