"You’re my friend!"
"You’re my mission."
"Monsters I can deal with. This? Fuck this."
Witness the Rise of Handsome Jack in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Strap on your spacesuits and reload your guns — you aren’t on Pandora anymore, kids.
2K Games and Gearbox President Randy “The Man” Pitchford have turned rumor into fact this morning by announcing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Before you sharpen your Pitchford pitchforks over Randy’s firm statement that Borderlands 3 wasn’t in development (and it still isn’t), here’s a little context:
Borderlands 3 will happen, says Pitchford, but it’ll be a next-gen affair chasing after bigger, bolder design goals. The Pre-Sequel, on the other hand, is built on the Borderlands 2 engine and is meant to cater to the massive install base found on PS3, 360, and PC.
The Pre-Sequel, as it’s so oddly but, for this series, fittingly labeled, is plopped snugly between the time our first Vault Hunters cracked open the vault in Borderlands 1 and when our new heroes led a resistance against the sociopathic, goblin-faced Handsome Jack in the second game. It’s a sequel to 1 and a prequel to 2, ya follow? “Mid-quel”? I don’t know what you’re saying and, frankly, your made up word offends me. Moving on.
This go around, your battlefield has been moved from the wastelands of Pandora to the low-gravity, nil-oxygen moon orbiting the planet. Your team, as usual, is a rag-tag outfit of personalities, each possessing skills unique to their class. Instead of a group of vigilante Vault Hunters, however, this “new” cast serves under a way less murder-y Handsome Jack, Hyperion’s leader. While never-before playable, Borderlands fans should already know this lineup of characters.
Athena, a Crimson Lance soldier formerly seen in the DLC The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, returns as your “Gladiator” class. Her shtick? The ability to kinetically propel a shield at her enemies for high damage. The shield, once upgraded, can either serve you defensively or offensively, depending on your tastes.
Nisha, the “Lawbringer,” puts in her time as her boyfriend’s pistol carrying right hand before residing as Lynchwood’s oppressive, tortuous sheriff.
Wilhelm, Jack’s “Enforcer,” brings experience and brutality to the team. At this point in time, he hasn’t gone all Borg yet; mechanical augmentation can be seen, but he’s a far cry from the hulking, robotic monstrosity he ends up becoming in BL2.
Finally, Claptrap rounds out the cast in his first playable role in the series. Yes, it really is the annoying, dancing robot you ally yourself with by the second game. Yes, his perspective is only a couple of feet off of the ground. Claptrap will be your “Fragtrap” class, whatever that could entail.
As a heads up, Gearbox Software is not developing The Pre-Sequel themselves — 2K Australia will be handling that job. Already, they have interesting ideas that Randy himself says are impressively fun (low-gravity gunplay does seem thoroughly enjoyable). It’s not Borderlands 3, sure. But, upshot, it is more Borderlands, and I love me some Borderlands.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is set to launch sometime later in 2014. Check out the official gameplay reveal right here.
More Infamous: Second Son Fan Art
In the fleeting moments I’m allowed between setting up for PAX and sleeping (I think eating is somehow involved in there, too), Second Son has been my Me Time obsession.
It’s apparently the Guzzardi twins’ obsession as well. But where I simply gush, they go out and produce gorgeous, compelling artwork in celebration of Sucker Punch’s next-gen achievement. Check out the first batch of art we promoted hereabouts.
Is PAX Invading the Midwest?
Penny Arcade Expo, started in 2004, has become the biggest and most renown gaming festival in the ten short years since its conception.
Starting in Seattle, Washington, and branching out to the other side of the country with PAX East in Boston, the celebration of games, gaming, and gamers has even made a global footprint, launching PAX Australia in 2013.
With PAX East set to commence just next week, rumblings from the Expo’s top brass seems to suggest a new event may be announced very soon. The above image of an office wall adorned with clocks and countdown timers comes way of a tweet from PAX Business Manager Robert Khoo. Next to three of the clocks are logos for the established PAX events we all know and flock to.
A fourth clock remains logo-less, next to a blank timer. A keen eye will notice each clock is adjusted to each event’s regional time-zone. The blank clock is set to Central time. That leaves a bevy of cities in the Midwest open for a new PAX; a chance for thousands of new attendees to experience what I consider to be the pinnacle gathering of gaming culture in North America.
In the meanwhile, my own company, Glitch Gaming Apparel, is scrambling in preparation for next week’s megaton explosion of gamers at PAX East. Hope to see you folks there!
Burial at Sea and The Last of Us Fan Art
by Ben Lo
Universal Begins Production on Bioshock Infinite: The Movie
Though a feature length film adaptation of Irrational Games’ original Bioshock failed to gain traction and move past the fires of development hell, it would appear rights holder Universal Studios is looking to the sky for another run at bringing the critically acclaimed IP to the silver screen.
Greenlit on the back of a spec script written by Jeremy Leven (The Notebook, The Time Traveler’s Wife) in conjunction with genre scribe Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus), Universal is fast tracking a film loosely based upon 2013’s stalwart gaming experience, Bioshock Infinite.
While several key plot elements from the game remain in place — a man, a lighthouse, a floating city — Universal’s hurried excitement to reimagine Infinite for the big screen stems from the biggest narrative change found in Leven and Lindelof’s script: protagonists Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth Comstock are “wayward lovers in their mid to late twenties” attempting to reunite in the midst of a civil war waged on the streets of Columbia, a city segregated from the U.S. by clouds.
Booker fights alongside a rebellion of lower class citizens, the Vox Populi, while Elizabeth is the heiress to the ruling, and wealthy, Comstock family. The game’s religious overtones, Comstock’s cult in particular, are apparently being toned down purposely to service a wider palette, traded in for the classic struggle between the rich and the poor.
"It’s sort of a high concept, genre take on Romeo and Juliet,” said Lindelof. ”Jeremy [Leven] has proven time and again he knows how to write fully fleshed out characters. I mean, characterization is his thing obviously. I came aboard because I wanted to realize the world of Columbia and play with the really lofty, cool concepts Irrational laid down, like multi-dimensional traversal and gigantic steampunk birdman things.”
"It’s been great working on this project with Damon," said Leven. "We really complement each other’s strengths well, I think. I’m the go-to guy for drama and romance and such, while Damon’s your man when it’s time to maul a dude’s face with a skyhook."
Hollywood hunk Ryan Gosling and Tinseltown sweetheart Rachel McAdams are said to be in negotiations to play the roles of star-crossed lovers Booker and Elizabeth respectively. “I’ve never heard of Bioshock, haven’t played a video game since Mario [laughs], but I immediately fell in love with the script,” Gosling said. “It’s really heady, really out there. And the love these two characters have for one another… It’s a bond stronger than blood.”
Universal currently has a short list of directors favored to helm the picture including Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men), and Francis Lawrence (Constantine, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). Ken Levine, series creator and former head of the now disbanded Irrational, has confirmed he will be serving in an executive producing capacity. When asked how extensive his involvement would be, Levine replied, “I receive a paycheck and commence loud, hearty laughter on my way to the bank.”
UPDATE: April 2nd is here, folks. Thanks to all who believed my fabricated bullshit; you truly made April Fools’ a special day for me.
Microsoft Studios’ Phil Spencer Named “Head of Xbox”
Sir Phil Spencer, longtime Xbox figurehead and, up until now, head of Microsoft Studios, has been announced as the Head of Xbox today.
Spencer will now take the reigns of not only the Xbox and Xbox Live divisions of Microsoft, but he’ll oversee Xbox Music and Video as well as his old digs, Microsoft Studios. “Combining these teams will strengthen the connection between some of the world’s most innovative creators and those building the Xbox itself,” wrote Xbox’s new honcho in his open letter, “A New Day at Xbox.”
Most of the letter reaffirms Xbox’s stance to usher in growth and innovation into the console, mobile, and PC markets, while harboring a platform for both microscopic indie developers and gigantic, years-cemented publishing partners.
What instills confidence in me that Phil is the right man for the job came about in this simple, shot-to-the-heart statement: “Games and gamers have always been at the core of Xbox and the core of my work—and gaming will be our core as we take Xbox forward.”
Xbox One in particular was initially criticized for trying to become more of an entertainment hub than a gaming driven experience. The console is young and its path is still being paved, but with people like Spencer in charge who remember what put Xbox on the map to begin with — namely the games and not Netflix, if you can fathom such a dark age — I’m more willing than ever to see where the trail goes.
Best of luck to you, Phil.
Alien: Isolation Dated for October
Creative Assembly’s “lo-fi sci-fi” love letter to Ridley Scott’s deep space horror masterpiece has received a release date: October 7th, 2014.
Alien: Isolation looks to holster the series’ pulse rifles and send its colonial marines on shore leave. You won’t mow down an army of xenomorphs; you’ll have to outsmart just one. The effect is an elongated game of cat and mouse… if the cat were a double-jawed, acid-blooded hate creature bred to be perfect killing machine straight out of the womb (the womb in question being your exploded chest cavity).
For a sci-fi horror franchise that practically invented sci-fi horror, it’s astounding Alien has yet to dip into the survival horror genre, but better a few decades late than never. Especially after 2013’s Travesty That Shall Not Be Named.
Mark your calendars and remember, while no one in space can hear you scream, your neighbors can certainly hear the high-pitched, glass cracking fright coming out of your apartment playing Isolation. Maybe give ‘em a heads up so they don’t call the cops and have them laugh at you.