Cyberpunk 2077 Creative Director Joins Blizzard Entertainment

CD PROJEKT RED, home of the critically acclaimed Witcher series and highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, will soon be looking for a new Creative Director, as Sebastian Stepien has recently left the company to join Blizzard Entertainment.

As first discovered by ResetEra user Gerwant, the longtime employee of the Polish gaming company had recently updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect the change in employers. Most recently credited as Narrative and Setting Director, Stepien also served as Creative Director on CD PROJEKT RED’s projects since early 2013. His time at the company spanned over 12 and a half years.

While employment changes like this aren’t necessarily uncommon in the gaming industry, it does raise some eyebrows on a few aspects. Normally, in a situation like this, when an employee on the development side of the project leave, it likely because their obligation to the project has wrapped. In this case though, Stepien was credited as Creative Director on Cyberpunk 2077. Many industry members, analysts and commentators believe the upcoming open world, futuristic RPG is still a few years off, but given the change in leadership, it may signal the game is a bit further along than some may this. With the game being in a playable state, and a lengthy demo shown to public, this may signal the game is already in or close to a beta build. At the same time, this speculation could be off but it does raise a flag of interest towards the Polish gaming entity.

With all of the negative press surrounding Blizzard over the past few months, this seems to be a great get for the PC-centered gaming giant. While nothing has been announced on what the project could be that Stepien was hired on to oversee with Blizzard, it will be interesting to see the fallout on both sides of the spectrum for each entity.

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RUMOR: Leaked Footage of a Possible Red Dead Redemption II PC Port Surfaces

Red Dead Redemption II has not only been one of the standout games of the year, but has become one of the landmark experiences this console generation. Much like Grand Theft Auto V a few years ago, fans have been clamoring for Rockstar’s open world game to come to the land of PC gaming since its original announcement. While the company has yet to confirm the possibility of the Wild West project making it way to PC, it looks as though the port’s development may very well already be under way.

A user on YouTube has uploaded a video depicting someone playing a copy of Red Dead Redemption II on PC, with full keyboard and mouse support. While it is possible for someone with an association to Rockstar to have a development copy of the game, the layout of controls and options seem to align up specifically with that of a PC port. The player also cycles through all of the options available to him, which include options for custom resolution, VSync, and refresh rate, which are all customization options traditionally found in PC games.

The YouTube account who uploaded the video cited in this article states specifically that he/she has only re-uploaded the video due to the account who originally uploaded the video being removed. While this may fall under a copyright legality, it is interesting to see the account become completely removed when the video gained traction.

In the months leading up to Grand Theft Auto V’s PC announcement and release, a similar situation occurred, when a video of a similar structure was leaked. The video showed a variety of similar options specific to PC gaming, just as the supposed leaked video for Red Dead Redemption II does.

Red Dead Redemption II released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26th, 2018 to both critical and fan acclaim, citing its immense realism, vibrant and living world, and theatrical-level narrative.

Please keep in mind that this is a rumor, with no confirmation from Rockstar or its parent company Take-Two on the game coming to PC. Until official word comes from either of those entities, please regard the video as questionable.

For more updates on Red Dead Redemption II, along with its possible PC port, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.

CyberPunk 2077 will not be at the Game Awards 2018, CD Projekt Red Confirms

This past June at E3 2018, fans and media were given a peak behind the curtain on what exactly Polish publisher/developer CD Projekt Red has been working on post-Witcher III; which ended up being the long-rumored CyberPunk 2077. While the footage that was shown was insinuated to be that of an alpha-build, CD Projekt Red revealed to the media and fans respectively quite a bit of footage, which timed out at around 48 minutes. Being so well received from the majority that viewed, many are hoping to see more of the gritty open world, futuristic RPG in the near future, with the Game Awards 2018 being a possible destination. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the game will be in attendance at the upcoming event.

In a tweet released by Marcin Momot, community manager for CD Projekt Red, he confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077 will not be showing any new footage at the awards ceremony this coming Thursday. “We’re looking forward to seeing all the reveals and announcements during this year’s Game Awards, however we’re not going to be showing anything there ourselves” confirmed Momot. “We’ll share more details about CyberPunk 2077 when we’re ready.”

CD Projekt Red, who are responsible for the Witcher series, have received acclaim from critics and fans alike for the depth and detail found in their vast open world experiences; specifically found in the Witcher trilogy. 2015’s edition of the Game Awards saw CD Projekt Red take home the title of Game of the Year for the third entry in the Witcher series, the Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Since then, they have produced multiple expansions for the title, along with a spinoff card game based on the one of the same name found in 2015’s entry, titled Gwent: the Witcher Card Game.

While fans will surely be disappointed to hear the news of CD Projekt Red’s absence at this year’s Game Awards, they can be assured that development of Cyberpunk 2077 is progressing well and more news will inevitably be coming on the approaching horizon.

For more updates regarding CD Projekt Red, including the highly anticipated CyberPunk 2077, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in at Bonus accessory.

Red Dead Online Beta to Start Tomorrow (November 27th)

After a record setting release and numerous accolades to its single player narrative, Red Dead Redemption 2’s online multiplayer experience Red Dead Online is set to drops this week, starting tomorrow, November 27th, with a beta for the service.

Players who purchased the “Ultimate Edition” from GameStop will have access to the Red Dead Online beta starting November 27th, and will being full testing for players who played the game on launch (October 26th) starting the following day on November 28th. The beta will then open up to all players the following day. Staggering the online beta to test server strength will hopefully help Rockstar avoid the issues it faced when GTA Online launched in 2013.

While details are still scarce on how the online experience will actually function, the Verge was able to get a tidbit of info on the upcoming mode:

With the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 as its foundation, Red Dead Online transforms the vast and deeply detailed landscapes, cities, towns, and habitats of Red Dead Redemption 2 into a new, living online world ready to be shared by multiple players. Create and customize your character, tailor your abilities to suit your play style, and head out into a new frontier full of things to experience.

Explore this huge world solo or with friends. Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; or fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; compete with other players or whole posses in open world challenges and much more.

We will continue to update you as the week goes on if a full launch date outside of the beta is announced.

 

For more updates on Red Dead Redemption 2, including its upcoming online experience Red Dead Online, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @BonusAccessory and keep it locked in on Bonus Accessory.

Deal of the Day: PS4 Slim, Red Dead Redemption 2, Extra Controller for $199 (Cyber Monday)

Just when you thought that you couldn’t beat that Spider-Man PS4 Slim bundle for $199 this past Black Friday weekend, Sony and Walmart just raised the bar.

As first reported by Tom’s Guide, starting at 12am on November 26th (midnight tonight), Walmart will be selling a PS4 Slim 1 TB model, the critically acclaimed and newly released Red Dead Redemption 2, and an extra Dual Shock 4 controller for a whopping $199.99. This deal is just asinine, plain and simple. While Walmart has been selling the bundle all weekend, this deal will see an extra $100 price drop from the original $299 sale price.

With Sony pushing ever closer to the 100 million mark in console sales, along with the increasing rumors surrounding the PlayStation 5 with Sony’s planned absence from E3 2019, it seems the company is trying to push as many consoles into homes as possible. So, if you aren’t already in the PlayStation 4 ecosystem, now is the perfect time to pull the trigger!

 

For more deals, including Cyber Monday updates, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @BonusAccessory, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review: Surviving the Beauty in Evolution

The sun begins to rise on a new day. A vibrant pink pastel brush stroke covers the edge of the sky, as the stars begin to fall asleep, and that bright orange ball of light starts to peak over the mountain range. You can make out the snow covered caps of the picturesque formation, with bits of vegetation beginning to spring from the base as your eyes descend. It begins to reveal the beauty that is found throughout the land; rolling plains of luscious green grass, with a small ranch nestled within in. A heard of deer take in the serenity, while drinking from a near by pond, all the while a hunter slowly eyes them as prey from the hillside. There is a small village in the distance, with all manner of folk coming and going, on horse, wagon and carriage, while a local tribe of Native American begin their ascension further and further from the land that was once theirs. It’s breath-taking; it’s awe-inspiring; it’s barren, but at the same time so lush and lively, with energy pouring out from it. This is what Red Dead Redemption 2 provides the player, from the moment the player confirms they want to embark on this tragic tale of beauty at the main menu. In a world as living and vibrant as the one within Rockstar’s tragic tale of the dying wild West, it provides you with one of the most personal (dare I say, even loneliest) experiences in gaming to date, and it is done in such a beautiful way.

Red Dead Redemption 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Red Dead Redemption on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, aimed to not only improve what made its predecessor so successful, but to elevate the level of what a single player, narrative-drive game can be viewed as. In most regards, Rockstar’s newest entry succeeds in its endeavors of achieving that goal (and then some); but that’s not to say it didn’t do so without its flaws.

Much of the complaints that fans had with this installment, were the same issues the first suffered from; the most glaring of which is the controls. With the level of depth and beauty that Rockstar Games has crafted in this game, it still feels as though you’re playing a previous console generation game. Many a time while playing through the game on my PlayStation 4 Pro have I found myself going to interact with an NPC (non-playable character) by pulling my L2 trigger, only to not be completely locked onto said NPC and in turn, accidentally pull my weapon and aim down the sights of it. Many interactive functions are mapped to to the same buttons as the combative commands, and when the inverse function occurs, you either end up in a police chase for threatening someone, or you get killed by an enemy. On the same thread, the mechanics and physics behind horseback riding feel quite dated. Very often will the player find themselves locked into a full-bore gallop, only to have the horse catch the corner of a rock that wasn’t necessarily polished to have an appropriate hit box. Traversal and movement as a whole has tendencies that left me feeling frustrated at times. While at my campsite many a time I’d find myself rotating in a circle by my cot, trying to find the sweet spot in the environment that would prompt my button entry to sleep. By no means are these issues that make the game unplayable by any means, it just feels as though some small corners have more rust than polish at times.

But you know what the crazy thing about all of those issues are? None of them make me lose the connection and immersion the game has on me. For all of the dated issues the game seems to have, it is completely obliterated by the overwhelming positives this game provides.

Crafting a narrative to follow up one of the genre defining games of last generation was truly the Goliath to overcome when developing Red Dead Redemption 2. Sure, the creative heads at Rockstar could’ve taken the safe path, and continued where the epilogue of the first title left off, having Jack Marston take over the mantel of main protagonist; but Rockstar Games has never been one to play safe. From hot water to “hot coffee”, the company has always flirted with different avenues for both gameplay and storytelling for over 20 years, with many examples that parallel with the unconventional. Dan Houser, Michael Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, and the rest of the writing staff saw the deep connection fans had with the character of John Marston, and knew that there was more to tell on it. How did he get his famous scars? What caused his eventual disintegration from the Sons of Dutch? How did he become the man we eventually meet, getting off the ferry in Blackwater? But how do you tell the story of a man who’s story has a definitive end without coming off as conventional.

Enter Arthur Morgan; a man torn between the ambitions of a previous life and the ever growing domestication of American society in the late 19th century. Riding with Dutch van der Linde and his gang of misfits since he was a preteen, Arthur feels that he has a moral obligation to them, especially Dutch; the man who taught him to write and read, who taught him a code of morals to live by. Developing in this environment, Arthur has always believed the philosophy laid before him, that the gang may do “bad” things, but they are not “bad” people; a metaphoric Robin Hood in a sense. He has view points different than the people around him, but at the end of the day, quoting the man himself, “All I’ve ever known is loyalty”. While loyalty bonds the group together, it is also what begins to fray over time, as the gang begins to question the decision made by Dutch. Arthur’s character development is one that just like the over arching narrative itself, a slow burn. The outlaw tries to hang onto the ideology laid before him for the majority of his life, but sees what the new world is starting to become; and along with it, what his mentor and father-figure Dutch is becoming as well.

Yet, while the player experiences Arthur’s story from his eyes, you can tell this isn’t building to his own redemption, this is building for those who have something to continue fighting for; to live for. What you’re seeing is the building blocks of how John Marston is modeled into the man his in Blackwater of 1911, through the eyes of Arthur. Though not keen on John when he first returns to the group after taking an unexplained leave from it for almost a year, Arthur begins to see the man John could become; the same one Arthur truly wants to be. He wants John to experience the joys of life; foster the love he has with his beautiful wife Abigail Roberts, to help develop his son Jack Marston into an educated and rightful man, live a long and prosperous life. But Arthur knows that isn’t possible in the environment they’ve known for so long. “We’re more ghosts, than people” Arthur explains to gang member Sadie Adler at one point in the narrative. Wandering from town to town, clinging to the last breath of the dying, untamed West, is a life that only ends one way, and Arthur’s character begins to develop and evolve into that understanding as the plot progresses. Through death and decay, financial highs and lows, Arthur sees the writing on the wall, and uses his development to make sure those who have a chance to live a full life can do so (i.e. John Marston).

With the depth of story comes the caveat of depth within quests. Are they the deepest and most intuitive? Absolutely not. As I mentioned previously, you can feel the age of the engine and formula Rockstar has used for Red Dead Redemption 2. Feeling as though you’ve taken the first game’s mechanics and pieced it to fit in the style that Rockstar’s behemoth title Grand Theft Auto 5 has presented. Quests are quite linear, plain and simple. For all intents and purposes, there is only a limited amount of ways you can attack situations within quests to achieve the result you are looking for. For example, say I am on a quest where Arthur and a few members of the gang are pressing into another campsite to overtake it. I noticed that they are heavily armed on one side of the camp, but not the other, so I audible and decide I want to flank the weak side to catch them off guard. Doing so presents you with a “Failed” screen, in which the player must restart from the checkpoint and try again. While this is typical with Rockstar’s games from the past decade, for a game that does promote (and in my opinion, usually delivers) on this sense of openness and intuitiveness, it comes off archaic comparative to recent sandbox, open world games (i.e. the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Odyssey, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and even to an extent, Super Mario Odyssey). To me personally, I enjoy linear experiences (the Uncharted series, the Last of Us, God of War, etc). Sitting down, grabbing a controller and playing my way through a continuous story, that is almost a theatrical experience, is so fulfilling to me; dare I say therapeutic. Saying that though, I can absolutely understand those who do see a structured linearity in a game format such as Red Dead Redemption 2 has as a flaw. It seems almost hypocritical at times. The narrative these quests provide though, is what makes you want to continue the journey.

While the quests may be shorter and linear, due to its slow burn approach, the narrative isn’t meant to be a “pick up and down” play style. In a world where binging your favorite show is apart of entertainment’s normality, Red Dead Redemption 2 fits like a glove. It’s written and designed to play in four to six hour chunks. Many a nights did I find myself passing on playing the game, not because I wasn’t enjoy it, but because I wouldn’t be getting the appropriate or intended experience from it by only playing for an hour or so. Imagine it as a limited run HBO series; you’re being told a specific story, and it is meant to be viewed in a certain format.

Before putting a bow on this review, I do want to take a small aside to give credit to one area of the game that I feel isn’t being mentioned. While it isn’t instrumental to the success or failure of the game, one thing I did want to point out that I thought was an appropriate touch was how the credits played out. Usually in most titles (including movies), the credits will roll, and if the team decides to do so, a post-credit scene will play after the credits are through. Marvel Studios has all but perfected this with their cinematic universe, and it provides an incentive for fans to hang around and see who took part in making their favorite heroes come to life on the big screen. In gaming, it’s a bit different. Most games allow you to speed through the credits, or even skip them entirely; an option that moviegoers don’t have in theaters. So while it gives players the satisfaction to get that juicy tidbit of what’s to come next, or any other teases to the future of the game series they’re playing, they miss out on seeing the people who were able to bring them the hours of enjoyment. Now I get it, it’s credits; how much of a difference can Rockstar Games have made with a pretty straightforward formula?; and you’d be right, nothing major, but it is a nod that is welcomed.

After finishing the two part epilogue, there is still a decent amount of time between the events of the epilogues and the beginning of the first entry in the series. Normally, players are presented with the extensive list of credits, displaying who had a hand in helping one of the largest games of this generation come to life, then straight into the post credits scene; but Rockstar Games switched it up. They implemented portions of cinematics between slides of credits, that eventually connected the two periods in time. While it isn’t groundbreaking, it was something I noticed right off the bat as being different, and it made me put a name to an element in the experience I felt an attachment to. I now know Paul MacPherson and James Nicholson helped create the detailed world I wanted to roam on horseback; I now know Amy Gallan, Kelly Grimes and Nicole Friffee-Zuniga developed the camp system and design that helped me properly plan my adventures and make quality of life improvement for the gang; I now know Michael Kane, Joshua Bass, and Pete Armstrong headed a team that helped craft and mold the characters I grew such an affinity to. Game development isn’t a glamorous job. Normally, it’s a job that receives little individual praise, long hours, and criticism from fans as a whole. I find it important to give thanks to the unsung heroes of the gaming world. In a quote by Kinda Funny co-creator, Greg Miller, that truly solidified my aspirations on entering the gaming industry, he expressed thanks to those who make games and their importance to our industry. While accepting the Trending Gamer Award at the 2015 Game Awards, Miller state “I’m sure it comes down every day.. somebody says, ‘Is it worth it?’ And I want you to know that, on behalf of the millions of lives you’ve changed, it is worth it. Thank you for making games. I would not be the person – we would not be the people we are today – if it wasn’t for video games”; and he is truly right. I know this is necessarily applicative to the score or rating of the review, but with everything that has surrounded “crunch” in gaming, I think it is critically important we recognize those who bring so much joy and passion to this medium we love. With a game of this length, no matter if it would’ve succeed or sank, I want everyone who is apart of the development process in games to know that you are important to providing this art form to so many people. It probably means more than you will ever know.

Verdict

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that has so many living and breathing elements that it relates to human life pretty well; it is by no means perfect, but the sum of its unique parts come together to make something special. From its spellbinding narrative, to the picturesque and vibrant world, to the deep and intriguing cast of characters, Rockstar Games has truly created one of the benchmark experiences this generation. While the mechanics and controls feel dated at times, the experience you are given from the narrative and exploration in the world outweighs those issues tenfold.

Breaking: Prima Games Shutting Down by 2019

Prima-Logo

Another unfortunate casualty in print games media has come to the end of its road. As first reported by EGM Now, the long-running and successful Prima Games will cease operations by the end of Spring 2019.

In what was described as an “extremely difficult decision”, the Dorling Kindersley division of Penguin Random revealed to sources close to EGM yesterday that they will discontinue the Prima Games printing by March 2019. All offices of Prima Games, which include Roseville, Indianapolis, and New York will be affected by the ceasing of the division.

While the company is still taking preorders on guides, even dated for February 2019, the company is expected to begin closing doors as soon as this month, starting with the Roseville location. Groups of employees based out of the Indianapolis offices are reported to stay on until the end of March 2019, while the timetable for the New York office remains unknown.

Prima Games was founded in founded in 1990 by Ben Dominitz, and grew to be one of the premiere publishers for gaming print publications, with their most popular being the gaming strategy guides they produced. Prima has been attached to some of the biggest franchises in the gaming industry, including the Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, God of War, and Assassin’s Creed to name a few. The company has produced over 1,400 titles and has stated to have over 90 million strategy guides in print.

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