The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Articles RSS Feed | The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Witcher Quests That Need To Be Netflix Witcher Plot Lines Thu, 27 Feb 2020 13:14:01 -0500 Ty Arthur


While these quests we picked are total guesses, we do already have an idea of some of the plots coming to the second season.


Elf sorceress Francesca is confirmed to appear in the upcoming season, but she has yet to actually make a direct appearance in any of the video games (other than on Gwent cards). 


Nivellen's Beauty & The Beast style plot line from the story A Grain Of Truth didn't appear in the games, but we know it will take place in The Witcher Season 2.


What stories from the Andrzej Sapkowski stories or CD Projekt Red game franchise are you hoping to see in the second season of The Witcher when it arrives in 2021? Sound off in the comments below!


Bald Mountain


If we get to see Ciri in action after undergoing Witcher training in season 2, this quest would be an excellent place for the TV crew to seek inspiration.


Ciri battling hags would be a sight to behold, but there's another compelling reason we should see some bits from Bald Mountain make the jump to streaming.


The absurd moment where its declared that Geralt is "too old and ugly" to meet the ladies seems like a perfect opportunity for Henry Cavill to drop one of his signature catch phrases and work those facial muscles!


Skellige's Most Wanted


This quest so perfectly fits the show's themes of the humans being the real monsters that its an obvious fit to be adapted. Here the hunter becomes the hunted, as monstrous creatures try to lure Geralt to his death, and then eventually put him on trial for murder.


Considering that it directly connects to the events in the Rare Creatures episode and it deals with Vereena, who has been confirmed to appear in Season 2, it seems like this quest basically has to appear in the show one way or another.


To Bait A Forktail


As an adaptation of a sprawling storyline, obviously the Netflix show doesn't always directly follow the stories or games. Sometimes characters get mashed together, or different characters end up having similar interactions from the stories.


We know Eskel will appear in Season 2, but aren't sure of what capacity he'll appear yet. If they go for the buddy or rival angle though, To Bait A Forktail would be a great introduction for this character with a dragon chase and then a wild foot race.


No Place Like Home


Since portions of this quest connect directly into the magic-affected romance between Geralt and Yennefer from The Last Wish, it seems like a good bet we may see some part of this plot pop up in Season 2.


Unfortunately, the core of the quest involves Uma (the Ugliest Man Alive), and we haven't seen any indication yet that he will appear in the season at all.


Whether that section of the quest appears at all, its the ending of No Place Like Home that really needs to be strongly considered here. All of those beefcake Witchers getting drunk and wearing Yennefer's dresses is really something.


Comic Relief Quests


Jaskier breaks up the heavier elements of the story with his bumbling silliness in Season 1, but there's more comedy to mine from the games than you might realize at first.


Of Dairy & Darkness, where Geralt literally gets a sword named after cheese, and The Tower Outta Nowheres are excellent sources for some unexpected levity.


The latter has some interesting applications in a live action medium as Geralt and the crew deal with deadly traps, only to discover the master of the tower isn't particularly malicious and actually needs help to deactivate them.


Both quests also made it into our list of the best Witcher game quests to convert into a Dungeons & Dragons Witcher campaign.


The Final Trial


A Lambert-focused quest, there's actually some really interesting possibilities for character development in a minor side section of this story. 


Geralt's reaction to the starving hirikka in the first season and his disdain for harming dangerous creatures who should have just been left alone in the first place could play a front and center role.


The sub-plot of dealing with the Foglets if Geralt chooses to ignore Lambert's advice during the quest seems like an obvious plot device to make it into the Witcher show.


The Battle Of Kaer Morhen


Since most of the existing main characters and the new characters confirmed to appear in Season 2 are involved, this quest seems like a pretty obvious choice.


The Witcher's Vesmeir, Eskel, and Lambert all play roles in the video game version of the battle, which makes it ripe for interactions between them and Geralt in the heat of combat.


The only real questions are if we will get this far in the story during the season, and if it will end on a major conflict like with the Battle of Sodden Hill in the previous season.


While the agonizing wait continues until we can finally toss a coin to our Witcher again with new episodes, we've got plenty of time to speculate about what's to come with Netflix's smash hit.


The TV show follows the original books more closely than any of CD Projekt Red's games, but that may change soon. Season 1 essentially ends where The Witcher 3 starts, indicating we may see more video game plots soon.


A small trickle of news has already arrived, with confirmations about seven new characters joining the cast of The Witcher Season 2 expanding out the possibilities for potential story lines.


That latest batch of confirmations didn't include the one name we're all waiting on, though it's still possible Vesemir will be played by veteran video game and animated series voice actor Mark Hamill.


It's always possible Netflix is drawing inspiration from the Child's Play announcement and waiting to reveal Hamill's involvement until the last possible second to up the hype machine.


Whether Vesemir makes the cut or not, there's still plenty of high octane quests from the series that deserve a spot on the show. After recently replaying The Witcher 3, we're taking a look back at the top Witcher quests that need to be in the Netflix show.

You'll Never Guess Which Two Characters are Coming to The Witcher Season 2 Fri, 14 Feb 2020 14:54:24 -0500 Ty Arthur

According to a report from Redanian Intelligence, two fan-favorite characters are now confirmed to appear in the second season of The Witcher on Netflix  and it's not Vesmir (yet), although we're still holding out hope he'll be played by Mark Hamill.

If the report is accurate (and Redanian Intelligence has been right about several Witcher scoops in the past), the character of Lambert will be played by Paul Billion (Peaky Blinders, The Bastard Executioner, Dune).

We can also expect rival Witcher Coën to be played by Yasen Atour (Dark Heart, Strike Back, Young Wallander).

The two characters are expected to appear for at least three episodes of the new season, which will wrap filming in late summer and premiere sometime in 2021.

We've also recently learned of some "course corrections" to take place from the first season, as the shifting timelines will be dropped in favor of a more straightforward narrative. It's additionally been confirmed we will see a change in the armor design of the Nilfgaardian army, which was a point of contention for some fans during the first season.

While waiting for Henry Cavill to return as Geralt of Rivia in Season 2, be on the lookout for an animated Witcher movie to also premiere on Netflix in the meantime.

The Witcher Inspires A Decade Of Amazing Cosplay Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:57:55 -0400 Ty Arthur

Can you believe we've had a full decade of The Witcher games already? October of 2007 saw the release of a little title from then-unknown developer CD Projekt Red that would go on to change the gaming landscape.

It seems like a minor understatement that the series (and its book inspirations) have had a bit an impact on the wider world. Last year, Poland actually got a Geralt of Rivia postage stamp. I mean, does Mario even have his own stamp at this point?

A country's government recognizing the impact of the franchise is just the tip of the iceberg though, as much more fan content has been spawned over the years, from the ultra steamy Witcher 2017 calendar featuring Geralt master impersonator Maul, to some truly stunning cosplays directly from the legion of devoted fans. 

 Well, hello there February!

Bringing A Digital World To Life

There are plenty of attractive men and women willing to don the clothes and take on the persona of Triss, Yennefer, and the rest of the ladies who play with boy toy Geralt, but what doesn't get quite as much attention is the level of detail put into the rarer monster cosplays.

That's an unfortunate oversight for a series focused on learning everything you can about various creatures before hacking them to bits, especially considering the amount of lore packed into the games about those monsters.

On the creature feature front, Elena Samko has put together some jaw-dropping and insanely spot-on renditions of Witcher foes.

Her renditions of the Nightwraith and Wight are well worth your attention, but its the sad tale of the Noonwraith bride haunting a well that really gets to brought to life. 

You can't ever un-see that dangling tongue, and the crown of flowers brings it all together, recalling the bride's tragic end in the dark world of The Witcher.

Of course the three demonic Crone sisters also get their due in various re-creations, with the middle sister known as the Brewess showing the multi-faceted nature of Witcher cosplaying. It's not all unicorns, bath tubs, and sexy witches, that's for sure! 

 Word of advice: don't drink the soup.

From Pixel To Paint Brush

The legacy of The Witcher's impact isn't just limited to stunning costumes either, as the creativity of the fans truly knows no bounds. There's probably more fan art online than you could ever actually see in a single lifetime of web browsing, and much of it twists the game in unique ways, smashing together opposing genres.

The aforementioned Maul has a crossover photoshoot re-imagining Geralt as a feudal Japanese Samurai (making me wonder now if perhaps that's how Nioh came to be), but what has probably most captured fan imagination is the Witcher noir series of prints from Ástor Alexander.

It's so obvious in hindsight for the many sorceress women that define The Witcher series to appear as dangerous damsels in a noir detective story, and Alexander nailed that smoky mysterious feel. In an awesome recursion of fandom, there's even been identical cosplays painstakingly recreating the artwork.

      If somebody wanted to go ahead and write these up, I'd buy 'em on Kindle!

Geralt Hits The Small Screen

Following costumes and artwork, its obvious where fan creation would inevitably end up going as some Witcher fanatics pulled out their cameras and got to work.

After Castlevania got its due with a four episode series this year, it probably shouldn't be much of a surprise that Netflix also picked up The Witcher for a 2018 episodic release.

The fans couldn't wait through all these years for a movie adaptation though, and there are plenty of player-made videos to be found across YouTube and Vimeo.

There's a surprising level of production value to several of these lovingly crafted clips, with some production teams even taking to crowd funding methods to ensure a high enough quality to be worth releasing.

There's no question that the loyal fanbase is head over heels for The Witcher and willing to put in an absurd amount of work to honor this decade-old series.

Here's to ten more years of The Witcher inspiring fans to create works of absolute art! Now if we could only get CD Projekt Red to finish Cyperbunk 2077 already, there'd be opportunity for a whole new generation of amazing cosplay to gawk at...

Do you have any of your own Witcher-inspired fan creations to share with the world, from cosplays to artwork to videos to fanfic? Let us know what you've created to show you love for the series in the comments below!

Crazy Video Game Cameos -- Game Characters Edition Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:00:02 -0400 Ricardo melfi

Whenever you're playing a game and you see a character inside from a different game, it really gets your juices flowing. After noticing how many celebrity cameos have been seen in games over the last 20+ years, we noticed that there are even more cameos from other video game characters. Cue the second part of our issue.

Welcome back to the second part of Crazy Video Game Cameos. Earlier, we covered movies and celebrities which appeared in a multitude of video games. In this issue, we will be taking a look at all the video game characters that have appeared in other video games!

Duke Nukem - Blood & Bulletstorm: Full Clip

The Duke, and his developers 3D Realms, have pulled no punches when they decide to make fun of other video games, so it's only fitting that the Duke cops some insults of his own. Play long enough into 90's shooter, Blood, and you'll find a secret entrance. Continue down this path and there's poor, old Duke. Hanging upside down and horribly mutilated but it's him, no doubt. Hit him enough times and your character will steal Duke's line, "Shake it baby!"

For another (current), weird cameo, the Duke is appearing as a playable character in cult classic, Bulletstorm: Full Clip. Check out the trailer below!

Mega Man- Dead Rising Series

Capcom love to throw characters from other universes in their games. Evident throughout all the Dead Rising games, every protagonist can eventually find Mega Man's outfit and become the titular hero himself. Sure, it may just be a costume that you put on but we still get to act like Mega Man, arm rockets and all. Poor guy... it seems he always finds himself in apocalyptic situations. I'm pretty sure you can find a Blanka outfit too (from the Street Fighter series).

Creepers - Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 is a great game full of inside jokes and some very crude humor. With the success and popularity of Minecraft (even so many years later), the developers must have thought, "Ah, f**k it. Let's throw a creeper in as a bad guy." Either that or they were running out of enemy creation ideas. While making your way through some of the mines in this game, you will eventually come across a few block built, familiar characters. A nice little touch. A least they didn't throw griefers in there...

Jill Valentine & Nemesis- Under the Skin

Body snatching sim, Under the Skin, is a novel little piece to play. Similar to Destroy All Humans, this game has you playing as a blue little alien sent to cause as much chaos on earth as possible. At a certain level, you'll notice that it is called Raccoon City. Well, you get to play as Jill and the Nemesis in this level, set with locales from the first two Resident Evil games. Suffice to say, this was enough to get me to play the game.

Claire, Leon & Zombie Cop- Trick N' Snowboarder

Yes, another game that sees cameos from one of the biggest franchise of video game history. Look, it was the 90's and Resident Evil was a global smash, with everyone talking about Raccoon City and the T-Virus. It only makes sense that not so great games tried to pick up on their success, by including certain characters as unlockable players. Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy reporting for snowboarding duty, dude. The developers even threw a zombie cop from Resident Evil 2 in there, just for good measure.

Doom Marine - Duke Nukem 3D

One of those moments in a Duke Nukem game where 3D Realms just couldn't help themselves. With Doom being much more successful than Duke Nukem 3D, they decided to take a jab at the shooter that started all shooters. Get far enough into Duke Nukem 3D and you'll come across a hell-like portal, complete with inverted crosses. At the base of this portal, you'll find the torso of a mauled Doom marine. Guess he didn't have the guts...

Chun Li - Breath of Fire

Timeless RPG, Breath of Fire, by Capcom threw in yet another one of their famous characters somewhere they don't belong. During one of your quests, you meet a master who talks about an amazing fighter. Someone who can kick at the speed of light. Sound familiar? If you thought of Street Fighter alumni, Chun-Li then you'd be correct. Sure, you can't play as her and it's only a 10 to 20 second cameo but it still counts!

Lara Croft & TMNT - Shadow Warrior

Doom and Duke Nukem rip-off, Shadow Warrior, is your average cult classic, FPS. Run around, kill some monsters, blow s**t up. Pretty simple, until you come across a cameo from Tomb Raider's very own, Lara Croft. The protagonist actually mentions that, "She won't be raiding anymore tombs." Nice touch but continue further on into the game and you can find another cameo from 90's sensations, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Dead, but still a cameo.

Spider-Man - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series has always had fun with including random cameos in their games but none stands out more than the web-slinging, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Neversoft could have just used a normal character dressed as the titular hero but I love them for going the extra mile. Definitely the best skater in the game, Spider-Man web slings, flips, and does whatever a spider can while racking up hundreds of thousands of points. I might jump back on after writing this article...

Donkey Kong - Wii Punch Out!

 In the Wii remake to Super Nintendo's, Super Punch Out!, there's a new boss character that you have to take on and boy, is he one of the most difficult! In Wii Super Punch Out!, you don't have to take on Mike Tyson anymore. Now you have to take on a 900 pound gorilla with boxing gloves. Don't be fooled as Donkey Kong is the hardest character to fight in the game. Good luck, it was nice knowing you...

Wesker, West, Marcus & Dom - Lost Planet 2

Mega cameos are starring in Capcom's sci-fi, 3rd person action-shooter, Lost Planet 2. An average game when it was released and unfortunately lost the test of time, this entry had a few cool cameos as unlockable players. Up to four different universe characters appeared to play with, being Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago from the Gears of War series, Albert Wesker from the Resident Evil series, and Frank West from the Dead Rising series. The game didn't change much but being one of these bad-asses sure made me think so.

Scorpion, Reptile, Sub-Zero & Raiden - NBA Jam

Not content with throwing in one of the most powerful, political couples of the time (Bill and Hillary Clinton), Midway decided that they wanted to see what b-ball skills some of the Mortal Kombat roster has. Including Raiden, Reptile, Sub-Zero and Scorpion into the fold made for some pretty awesome basketball games. The only problem was arguing with your friends over who would play as Team Netherealm.

Tanner - GTA III

One of the biggest franchises of the time, Grand Theft Auto, decides to take the mickey out of another large franchise of the time. Everyone remembers Driver,  one of the best driving games to ever come out on the original PlayStation. Well so do the developers at Rockstar, when one of your missions has you dealing with a detective who 'runs funny' and also drives a muscle car. Now they don't ever say his name but the running funny and muscle car part? Definitely a rip on Tanner and his later installments when he has the ability to get out of his cars.

Heihachi & Xiaoyu - Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2

Heihachi has appeared numerous times in a number of different games but who knew the billionaire CEO could use a racket? It seems that when he isn't planning on killing his son and ruling the world in Tekken, he's working on his serves. First time cameo for Ling however, which makes me wonder why they included her and not, say, Kazuya or Jin? The Mishimas could put their rivalry to the side for a few doubles games...

Solid Snake - Evolution Skateboarding

One of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater imitation rip-offs, Evolution Skateboarding was pretty much a simple, skateboarding game. Complete with challenges, time limits, decent graphics, and an amalgam of different tricks to pull off, this game wasn't so bad when you got into it. Unfortunately, the THPS franchise completely overshadowed any skateboarding game that tried to release. One way to put your game on the map is to include a cameo as a playable character. None other than 90's stealth-hero, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid.

Samus & Link - Super Mario RPG

In the 90's, RPG attempt at putting Mario in a genre he definitely didn't belong, Super Mario RPG was a surprisingly great game. Taking on RPG roots, a level-up system, and turn-based battles, this game happened to also include some cameos from other Nintendo icons. In one part of the tavern/inn, Link can be found sleeping in one of the beds. Approach him to try and talk and he will just sing one of the iconic Legend of Zelda songs. Samus from Metroid is also sleeping in a bed but this time it's in the Royal Mushroom Castle, where she lets you know that she is "Resting for Mother Brain." We'll just leave you both there until your game time comes around.

Altair Ibn-La'AHad - The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

You wouldn't expect to see it in a serious RPG like The Witcher 2, but it does give you a small hint in the game's title Assassins of Kings. Approaching one of the destroyed barns in one of the towns will have you come across a broken hale bay cart. You even notice a dead person in a white, hooded outfit, so you move in for a closer look. At this point, it's 100% clear who the developers are trying to mock. It seems Altair (from Assassin's Creed) was attempting to assassinate one of the kings in the game but failed to land one of his famous eagle drops correctly. Oh yeah, you know he's dead.


Proving that video games and cameos are a fantastic mix, even when it doesn't make sense at all, cameos are the stuff of much conversation. I hope you enjoyed and probably even learned about some cameos you didn't know where there. Thanks for reading our latest listicle!

So what did you think? Did I miss any major video game character cameos you think should have been included? Don't forget to leave a comment below!

Witcher Developer CD PROJEKT RED Has a Bunch of Job Openings for 2017 Fri, 06 Jan 2017 01:02:18 -0500 Naomi N. Lugo

2017 is set to be a big year for CD PROJEKT RED, and they’re not shy about it. “If your New Year’s resolution is to work in the Game Industry, you’re in luck! We're recruiting!” they posted to social media on Dec. 4. Of course, this message was accompanied by a smiling Geralt, because he smiles all the time.

Anyway, they weren’t kidding with this proclamation. Their careers page is six pages long full of jobs. The listings range from working on Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, internally for the company, working with CD PROJEKT RED’s digital distribution platform and of course on the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077.

This push to hire more people onto the team is hopefully a good sign for Cyberpunk 2077’s release date and the future of the dev overall. Dec. last year, CD PROJEKT RED received some major support from their native Poland in the form of a $7 million grant. Reportedly, the company received the largest portion of the funds.

The positions are mostly internationally located in Warsaw and Krakow in Poland or Shanghai, but there is one opening in Los Angeles for a lead illustrator. Working with a critically acclaimed company like CD PROJEKT RED, however, might be worth the move.

Are you excited for Cyberpunk 2077? Do you think it will come out in 2017? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

How Deep Is Your Love for the Witcher 3? Tue, 01 Nov 2016 10:00:02 -0400 Sand Snake

I have waited a long time to write a review for my all time favorite game The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. Not because it would be difficult, but because there was so much to say about this wonderful game. I wasn't sure, how to properly express how truly amazing this game is. For those of you have fallen in love with this amazing world and with Geralt of Rivia, this article is for you.

Geralt of Rivia AKA The White Wolf, is a skilled warrior and deadly Witcher, renowned throughout the lands for his skills with the blade against both man and monster. His recognizable mane of white hair is a side effect of the Mutagens flowing through his veins. These give him unnatural speed, reflexes, and eyesight that has yet to be matched by any foe he has ever faced. Geralt of Rivia is truly a one of kind hero, not because he is perfect in any sense of the word, but because he has flaws like any man from this cruel, dark world. Flaws that lead him down dark roads to shine a light into the dark recesses of the world.

But that is not the only reason we love him. We love playing him, because in a world full of darkness, where everything is not as it seems or should be, a place where evil is residing around every corner, in the hearts of monsters, humans, dwarves and elves. We see Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher neither a human or monster caught in the middle of it, and like a small candle blowing in the wind his blade could help destroy or save.

Your choices, your decisions, your actions will affect the world around you. Whether it be stopping humans from taking advantage of elven maidens, or killing self-righteous Scoia'tael who have been slaughtering innocent peasants to feed themselves. Your blade will decide the fate of thousands. That kind of power and control over the fates of so many, makes this game unbelievably addictive.

Added to it are the amazing voice actors that were cast for each role, and the extraordinary cinematic sequences throughout the game that have been consistently amazing and enthralling. Like the scene with the Ladies of the Wood, where we got to see the three witches for the first time and I gotta say, I did not see that coming at all. The way they looked, the way they acted and the way they talked was all so perfectly choreographed that it made me want to say, "what the fuck?"

Oh, and let's not forget the background music. The music in this game is insane! Whether its pumping you up for a fight or creating this creepy, dark mood. The music they used throughout the game has this quality, that just made you want to keep listening to it, even after you're finished playing the game. My favorite music has to be the one in the cloak and dagger quest, the music had me bopping my head up and down as I played. I also enjoyed listening to the Gwent music, which in my opinion is an awesome card game that should definitely be made into an full game -- oh wait, it is.

Then we have the quests! Let's not forget about the quests! The quests in this game are of the highest quality. There was none of that nonsense of go fetch me a sheep, or go kill as many bandits as you can, or go clear a place of monsters. Every single quest was well crafted and more than a few had direct consequences leading to the completion of each quest.

Most importantly each of the quests made sense. There were no ridiculous side quests that would be completely out of character for Geralt to complete. Every single quest was designed to help immerse yourself within this unique world.

I am not even halfway done yet, there is still so much I want to talk about, but I'll end it here as I feel these are the most important aspects of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. But what did you love most about The Witcher 3?

Snag These Discount Games for National Video Games Day Mon, 12 Sep 2016 09:49:37 -0400 Kat De Shields

In honor of US National Video Games Day, we rounded up the best video game discounts and deals of the day. Grab some (or all) of these 5 discounted items before they disappear. Happy gaming!

Discount  Game #5: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Geralt is a bad ass, and The Witcher is a wonderful adventure RPG series. At 32% off, you get the enhanced edition for Xbox 360. 

Discount Game #4: Madden NFL '17

Football season is back and it's only right to update your rosters and build your team on your console, too. Snag Madden NFL '17 for 33% off it's list price and take your team to the Superbowl. 

Discount Game #3: Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

Even though this is the 17th installment in the series, there's no time like the present to jump right in. This is a well-known and super fun RPG, and it can be yours at a 33% discount. 

Discount Game #4: Super Smash Bros Lucas Amiibo 

Okay, okay, we know this isn't a game. But for you amiibo collectors and Super Smash Bros. fans out there, you can grab Lucas for 56% off. 

Discount Game #5: DOOM: Collector's Edition 

The number one discount deal of the day goes to the DOOM: Collector's Edition. In addition to the game, you receive a 12" statute of the Revenant on a LED-lit base and an exclusive metal case with the game. Normally priced at $119.99, save 66% when you order today! 

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I’m always looking for new awesome products, so please send me your favorites at Also, sign up for our Launch Commence newsletter to receive the best deals of the week right in your inbox. 

Microsoft releases Xbox One March system update Wed, 23 Mar 2016 15:53:07 -0400 Eric Levy

Microsoft is rolling out its March system update for the Xbox One and Xbox app today.

The update will finally allow Xbox One users to purchase backwards compatible Xbox 360 games directly through the Xbox One store.  Players will be able to search for and purchase Xbox 360 games the same way they do now for Xbox One titles.

The March update will also allow players to include a party chat in a Twitch broadcast, start a 16-player party chat, and output party audio to a headset and speakers simultaneously.  Microsoft has also improved its video playback system and players can now view videos directly in their Xbox One activity feeds.  You can view the full list of incoming updates on Major Nelson's Blog.

A few days ago, Microsoft announced their Xbox One spring sale and temporarily dropped the price of the console to $300.  If you do not own an Xbox One and have been waiting for the right time to buy one, now's your chance.

Witcher 2 now available FREE on Xbox Live Fri, 22 Jan 2016 04:01:28 -0500 Alex Chin

Xbox has just announced they've added several new titles to their library of Xbox One Backwards Compatible games. Titles available for download include: 

  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
  • Sam & Max Save the World
  • Aegis Wing
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Age of Booty
  • Space Giraffe
  • Soulcalibur
  • Skullgirls
  • Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad
  • Small Arms

Topping off the list of games is The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The game precedes events from the critically-acclaimed Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Xbox One and Xbox 360 users can download the title free on the Xbox website.  

Xbox also announced that they will start a launch pilot, releasing backwards compatible titles right as they become available (rather than on a monthly basis), giving users instant access.

Be sure to download your copy of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings right now. It's only available till February 5, so get it while it's still hot. 

5 awesome video game Easter Eggs that you may have missed (Part 1) Tue, 19 Jan 2016 05:57:35 -0500 Glen Schoeman


The Soul Reaver

Rise of The Tomb Raider

Hiding on a wall in Crytstal Dynamics' latest iteration in the Tomb Raider series is the iconic Soul Reaver blade from CD's other hit franchise, Legacy of Kain. It can't be picked up and used as a weapon, however, so seeing it serves as nothing more than a reminder that it's been far too long since we last had an opportunity to wield that beast.


Image credit: Kelly M


There ain't no party like an underpants party

Hitman: Blood Money

In Hitman: Blood Money's mission Till Death Do Us Part, Agent 47 finds himself in the company of a crowd of men engaging in a spot of fist-fighting. If you head towards the north-western part of the map and shoot a silver disk on the ground near the water, the men will be instantly stripped down to their skivvies and run towards 47, clapping their hands with glee. They eventually get bored of the applause, however, and go back to their brawl, but they don't regain their clothes. As you can imagine, this provides the scene with an entirely different mood.  


Thelma and Louise meet a fiery end in Los Santos


GTA V is full of Easter Eggs that make reference to past games, urban legends, and pop-culture icons. This one recreates Thelma and Louise's demise from the end of the '90s movie in a spectacular fashion.


If you head out to the mountains of Blaine County between 19:00 and 20:00, you will see the duo, having been cornered by local law enforcement, taking the plunge of the edge of the mountain. Unlike the movie, however, there is no credit roll, so we have the opportunity to see the fiery explosion in all its glory.


Haystacks don't break your fall

The Witcher 2

Despite the fact that the Assassins in Ubisoft's universe can survive a 60-foot fall if they land in a haystack, The Witcher 2 creators CD Projekt Red point out just how impossible this would actually be. Upon stumbling across the corpse near a haystack of someone sporting an outfit oddly familiar to that of Altair of Assassin's Creed fame, Geralt remarks that "they never learn." 


Sons of Anarchy's Opie survived the apocalypse

Fallout 4

Fans of Sons of Anarchy, the show that is very loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet on motorcycles, were surprised to find a reference to the character Opie in Fallout 4. Although the last name is different, the physical description is pretty spot-on.


For as long as there have been games, there have been little secrets hidden by developers for the public to find. Sometimes they poke fun at other games, occasionally they reference movies or television, and every now and then they are a means for scorned devs to stick it to their bosses.


The 5 entries here serve as part one in a series of lists containing various Easter Eggs that you may have missed.

CD Projekt Red denies existence of Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition - for now Sun, 10 Jan 2016 17:17:38 -0500 BlackTideTV

Earlier today French retailer was found to have multiple versions of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt available for purchase. Three of these versions were listed as "enhanced editions" available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Video game journalists rushed to the scene and stories covered the internet much to CD Projekt RED's chagrin -- or perhaps it was planted to get The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back in the media's eye?

Nevertheless, CD Projekt RED's marketing executive Michal Nowakowski (Michal PG or @michalpg on Twitter) reached out to IGN's official Twitter page to deny the rumors and kill the internet's collective hype.

The French site had release dates for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt "enhanced edition" set as February 5th of this year.

If past enhanced edition releases of The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings were any type of guideline, the timing for an enhanced edition announcement of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt would be just about right. 

  • The Witcher released on the 26th of October, 2007.
  • The Witcher Enhanced Edition released on the 16th of September, 2008.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings released on the 17th of May, 2011.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition released on the 17th of April, 2012.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt released on the 19th of May, 2015.

On average, the enhanced edition of each Witcher game comes out eleven months after the original's release.

If the pattern is to hold, an enhanced edition of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt should release this April.

Past enhanced editions have fine tuned the game, cut load times in half and added extra adventures to the main story. If there is a secret enhanced edition of CD Projekt RED's newest game, it is unclear how it would be different from the original. In the current generation internet updates can patch the game, and DLC purchases can provide the extra content. Perhaps the enhanced edition of this game will serve as a "Game of the Year Edition" and provide players will immediate access to all DLC for a lesser price. Only time will tell.

Even though the existence of the game has been denied by the developer so far, there's no definite answer on if we'll be seeing an enhanced edition of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt this year or not.

Top 10 video game books Tue, 12 Jan 2016 05:49:08 -0500 Zack Thompson

Have you ever finished a game and thought, "wow! I want to know more about this world!" Or have you just wanted to know more about your favorite Hero's adventures? Luckily many Video Games have expanded their universes and lore with books, and out of the many, many that are out I've tried to devour as many as I can. Out of all the ones I've ever read I do have my favorites. This is my totally opinionated top 10 list of Video Game books that I'd recommend anyone.

10. Tomb Raider: The Lost Cult


The Lost Cult is the second Tomb Raider Novel  by E.E. Knight released in 2004. We join the busty heroine Laura Croft as she tries to retrieve a lost Iraqi artifact from a group of Peruvian gangsters in order to clear herself of the Von Troy murder. Though this seems like a lame way to get Laura's new adventure rolling it's a fun read, if only for the same reasons you'd go to a popcorn movie, nothing revolutionary is done with the character but it holds certain nostalgia value.

9. Mortal Kombat

Written in 1995, this prequel book expands the stories of the not yet well known characters, offering some interesting early takes of some of your favorites.

8. Alan Wake

A book based on a game about an author who might be going insane, what’s a better idea than that? The plot itself matches the game, although some details differ from the actual game. Still, if you were a fan of the game and want a novelization of it or, didn’t want to bother with the game but are curious about story, you’re going to win either way.

7. Dragon Age: Asunder

A Dragon Age book that takes place after DA2 and delves deeper into the repercussions of the Kirkwall incident. If you love the DA universe and want to delve deeper into the tension between the Mages and Templars defiantly give this one a look. 

6. Dead Space: Martyr

I love horror books. I love horror video games, so of course I'm going to love a horror book about a horror video game! Acting as a prequel to the Dead Space games, it gives a deep history of the founding on Unitology and the founding of The Marker.

5. Resident Evil: City of the Dead

Again my love of horror comes through with this third book into the Resident Evil universe. This book follows Claire, Leon, Jill, and Chris as they save survivors and get out of Raccoon City. This book takes place during RE 2 but their are some noticeable differences in the story.

4. Halo: The Cole Protocol

The Cole Protocol is the 6th Halo book and one of the best ones. It can’t actually be tied to any sort of timeline within the game's events, but really fleshes out more of the universe.

3. Homefront: The Voice of Freedom

Even though I'm 1 of 12 people who liked this game and the book won’t win any literary awards, this prequel to the game sets the scene and is crammed full of action sequences and a plot that hits very close to home for a lot of Americans. The constant threat of terrorism is really brought home in this book. If you haven’t played the game then this is a great introduction to the world and will help you connect with the in-game characters.

2. Mass Effect: Revelation

The first book in the Mass Effect universe, Revelation sheds some light on the history of David Anderson and Saren, as well as Anderson’s connection with Kahlee Sanders (a side character in Mass Effect 3).  It also details how Saren discovered the Reapers and the reason for Anderson's distrust of him.

1. The Witcher: Time Of Contempt

I kind of cheated with this one since this is a book that inspired the games, but it's my list and I can bend the rules as I see fit. The first few of these books act as short stories, prequels to the games. But the third book in the series is where author Andrzej Sapkowski really starts exploring Geralt as a character more. I recommend reading the other books but this one is by far my favorite of the series so far.

Any books I missed? do you have any recommendations? let me know in the comments below!

Steam Machine Launch: Game Sale Tue, 10 Nov 2015 19:03:28 -0500 Andrea Koenig

Alongside some major titles this week, the Steam Machine has also launched. In celebration, Steam as initiated a Steam Machine Launch Sale that's available to all Steam users, whether they plan to buy the console or not.

Highlights of this launch sale include:

Check out the complete list of all of the launch sale games you can get here.

Steam Machines are stand-alone devices to enjoy your Steam gaming experience in one box. Play your favorite Steam games and customize your gaming experience with full access to the Steam store, but with exclusive console hardware like the new Steam Controller and in-home streaming.

These machines include standard GPU support and custom chassis in different colors. 

Among the various Steam Machines anticipated to be released this month, three different Machines most anticipated were released this week. They will include the Steam Controller and Steam Link. These new releases include:

  • Alienware Steam Machine: uses Intel Core Processors as well as the NVIDIA GeForce GPU 2GB GDDR5 to provide 1080p HD on your TV. Starts out at $449.00 at Dell.

  • Syber Steam Machine: includes standard GPU support up to an NVIDIA GTX 980 to go from small screen monitors to big screen TVs. Chassis are available in White, or Black with 7 different color modes. Starts at $449.00 from Syber.

  • ZOTAC NEN Steam Machine: keeps it sleek, using a 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6400T quad-core Skylake Processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 for full HD Gaming. Starts at $999.00 at Amazon.

The full list of upcoming Steam Machines this month can be seen here.

Late bloomers: A look at popular franchises that weren't always that well known Tue, 22 Sep 2015 19:30:01 -0400 katlaborde

Resident Evil ser-

Hey, wait! Nobody likes you anymore, Resident Evil! You're on the wrong list!


What games were you introduced to mid-franchise or were you already playing these games long before everyone else caught on?


Brag about it in the comments below! 

The Witcher series

Unless you were an avid PC gamer, the original Witcher seemed to pass by unnoticed. But lucky for everybody else, when the Witcher 2 finally came around, it was eventually ported to the Xbox 360, allowing a new group of gamers to witness one of the best modern RPGs out there.


With its expertly told story and well-written characters, it's a wonder why it didn't catch on sooner. But with the hype that was behind the sequel's release, the eyes of gamers were watching eagerly, waiting to find out more.


And they were not disappointed. 


Image source: The Gamers Drop

Metal Gear Solid series

What is probably the most confusing and defended series ever conceived started off as a mostly unknown NES title. Before the time of PlayStation and 3D graphics, Snake was doing what he does best - sneaking past 8 bit soldiers and guard dogs in Metal Gear.


If it was any other franchise, it would have probably fallen by the way side after its sequel, but when CD based gaming became the way to go, Metal Gear Solid came along and created a legacy that would forever cement cardboard boxes as the top echelon of stealth based technology. 


Oh yeah and it gave us nanomachines. Lots and lots of gabbing about nanomachines.


Image source: Kotaku

Call of Duty series

Speaking of oversaturated, it's hard to imagine a world where Call of Duty isn't giving middle school children something to talk about during lunch time. Back in my day, Call of Duty was nothing but a buncha WWII shooters that would collect dust in the GameCrazy bargain bins!


Kids these days don't know how good they got it, I tell ya!


Before the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came around and wowed us with its pretty new guns and well, modern setting, we were stuck fightin' nothing but Nazis! Now, a decade later, we're patiently awaiting the release of Call of Duty 76. Thanks Call of Duty 4


Image source: Get Into PC

Assassin's Creed series 

Back when the original Assassin's Creed came out, it was mostly met with lackluster reception. From its rinse-and-repeat gameplay to a surprisingly limited world, gamers and reviewers alike just weren't feeling it.


Then the sequel was released. Assassin's Creed 2 did everything the original promised, with amazing parkour mechanics and clever stealth. From this point on, every game in the franchise would follow this blueprint, turning Assassin's Creed into one of the most successful, albeit oversaturated, franchises out there. 


Image source: Amazon

Final Fantasy series

Okay, I already know what you're going to say: 'But I've been playing Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy V!' or 'Final Fantasy VII has nothing on Final Fantasy VI!'


While both of these may be true, it was Final Fantasy VII that brought the RPG juggernaut over to the West. While Final Fantasy may have already been a success back its home country of Japan, it was the 7th entry that wowed the U.S. with its amazing graphics and cinematic cut scenes.


Now, when a new Final Fantasy is announced, fans from all over wait in anticipation, watching every subtitled and overly convoluted trailer as to speculate on what is sure to be a mind-bending story. 


Image source: B-Ten

Fallout series

Much like the Elder Scrolls series, Fallout was given a new lease on life through an overhaul in gameplay and scope. What was once a top down RPG became more accessible as a massive first person world for the player to explore.


Of course, that world is filled with monstrous mutants ready to tear you limb from limb.


Fallout 3 was an instant hit, nabbing the attention of gamers everywhere, as well as getting rewarded with multiple Game of the Year awards. With gamers even more pumped for Fallout 4 later this year, it's clear this series has journeyed from obscurity to being eagerly anticipated by all gamers.


Image source: PC Games

Elder Scrolls series

Bethesda makes an appearance more than once on the list due to their ability to take somewhat niche franchises and turn them into some of the most anticipated releases in gaming culture.


One of these franchises, of course, is the Elder Scrolls series. Now, unless you're a hardcore Elder Scrolls fanatic, you'd be hard pressed to name the subtitle to the second game in the series or if there even was a second game in the series. Everybody has heard of MorrowindOblivion, and Skyrim, but what about Daggerfall? No? Well neither had I - I had to look it up for this list.


But then came Morrowind with its sprawling open world that was unlike anything before it, and from that point forward, Elder Scrolls has been one of the most popular RPG series out there.

Grand Theft Auto series

When a new Grand Theft Auto title is announced, the entire world goes into a frenzy, whether it's fanboys experiencing sleepless nights until release day or Fox News attempting to scare parents into thinking Armageddon is around the corner.


But it wasn't always this way. Before the revolutionary Grand Theft Auto 3 was released, introducing us to its open world sandbox, the series mostly flew under the radar as a top down shooter. It's amazing to think that one of the most influential franchises in gaming history had such humble beginnings. 


Image source: Blogspot




Everybody and their mother has heard of Call of Duty and Final Fantasy, but for some franchises, this notoriety wasn't always the case. While some franchises resonate with the public straight away, some others don't manage to garner popularity until later sequels.


These series are like the scrawny kid in gym class who transforms into a beast after hitting puberty. So join me as I chronicle gaming's late bloomers!


Image source: Cinema Blend

Witcher series PC bundle on sale until Sept. 10 Fri, 04 Sep 2015 08:11:57 -0400 Andrea Koenig

With news hitting recently that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt reached 6 million sales last week, it's clear that it's one of the biggest games of 2015. Now, gamers who haven't had the chance at it can get it on sale. 

Not only can you get The Witcher 3, but you'll be able to get the other games on sale too. This includes:

  • The Witcher: Enhanced Edition - $1.49
  • The Witcher 2: Assassin's of Kings: Enhanced Edition - $2.99
  • The Witcher Adventure Game - $3.99
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - $41.99

Or you can buy the complete PC bundle of all four Witcher games for $50.46 on

These sales only apply to PC versions of the games. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is only available for Windows, while the other games are available for both PC and Mac.

This sale is limited time, so buy now to get your complete Geralt experience. This sale ends Thursday, September 10th at 11:59PM ET (8:59PM PT).

Ex-Witcher devs announce Seven, a Thief-inspired isometric RPG Tue, 18 Aug 2015 11:29:53 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

Fool's Theory, a new independent development studio made up of former Witcher developers have unveiled their upcoming RPG, Seven.  

Seven is a 3-D isometric role-playing game that is inspired by Looking Glass Studios' classic stealth adventure series, Thief.  According to their website, players will take on the role of a lone traveler and will be able to explore a non-linear, sandbox world.  It also looks like the developers will be applying their experience from their time on the Witcher series by offering branching choices that have moral consequences.

Arguably the most intriguing aspect about Seven is what it's trying to accomplish in terms of differentiating itself from other isometric titles. By and large, players have very little interaction with the game environment, following pretty rigid, pre-defined paths. Most interactions come down flipping switches, entering and exiting doors, or the occasional destructible object. Seven wants to try and change how the player moves about the environment, by introducing parkour climbing mechanics for added vertical mobility.

Seven is described as a world that is "beyond post-apocalyptic," where man has attempted to rip God out of the heavens and bring him down to the earth to answer for the sufferings of humanity. Obviously, this has taken a toll on the world, where once great metropolis' are little more than ruins to be plundered.  

Everything revealed thus far (which isn't much), points to a game world that will combine science fiction and fantasy elements, referencing a faction called the Biotek Order, Technomagi, and something about the earth "farting out buildings" with "pipes full of magic". Hey, they said it, not me.

New Witcher 3 Expansions said to add over 30 hours to your existing adventure Fri, 10 Jul 2015 19:41:13 -0400 girlwonder

In an interview with Gamereactor, Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, the game director for Witcher 3, provided some insight on the upcoming expansion packs on the already massive RPG. The first expansion is about 10 hours, and the second one is 20 hours--so far. This can still change, as they add more content. To add some perspective to just how large these expansions will be, Tomaszkiewicz said the size of both combined will amount to the size of Witcher 2

The first expansion, Hearts of Stone, is set to be released in October this year for $9.99. The Second expansion, Blood and Wine, is set to be released within the first 3 months of 2016 for $19.99. They can be purchased separately or part of the expansion pass for $24.99.

As far as paid DLC goes, fans are always a bit tentative. That being said, these massive expansions are said to be story heavy. Included will be brand new cutscenes, charachters, items and of course, Gwent cards. Tomaszkiewicz said the new stories will be emotional and feels like fans will be happy.

CD Projekt RED has been doing a great job as far as DLCs go. The free DLC packs that were available as the game was released were a definite crowd pleaser. They had a solid amount of quests and armot sets, all for free. It'll be interesting to see what they have in store as far as paid content goes. By the sounds of it, the expansion packs will be game changing and will definitely enhance your adventure. 

Top 10 Stories in Video Games Fri, 12 Jun 2015 20:23:21 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

1.) Half-life series

There isn't a game in the world that more people are clamoring for than Half-Life 3.  A lot of that has to do with just how good the world and its narrative are.  One of the most fascinating aspects about the story is how much of a passive rider the player character, Gordon Freeman is.  The entire video game medium is centered around the idea of control, and most of the time, game characters are in control and/or the center of attention.  Gordon Freeman is the exact opposite of those things, and the result is refreshing.  In fact, the story isn't even about Gordon Freeman, but rather about the world around him, and he is simply the vessel that the player experiences the world through.


What is also compelling about the Half-life experience is how naturally everything unfolds.  There are no interruptions for cut scenes as the story unfolds in front of the player, and Half-life was the one of the first games to really let the player have the freedom to move about the environment as the story unfolded in front of the player. 


Subtle audio cues also helped to enhance parts of the narrative as well and the biggest example of this is the Combine Soldiers.  The game frequently let the player hear their enemy before seeing them, which worked to further imprint the enemy's importance both in terms gameplay mechanics and what they meant to the world.  Because the game was challenging in its combat, the player became conditioned to feel a sense of dread every time one of these audio cues played.




What do you think? What are your favorite examples of narrative in games? 

2.) The Last of Us

The driving force behind the entire experience of The Last of Us is its narrative.  The game is a character-driven narrative that is quite a linear affair but the all of the extra nooks and crannies keep it from feeling too straight forward.  When the player uncovers these hidden places, the game provides some poignant moments between Joel and Ellie that provide context and insight of the state of the world that really drive the generational differences between someone who lived in the world before (Joel) and one who grew up in the current state of affairs (Ellie).  


Speaking of Joel and Ellie, they are the very foundation of the game itself, both narratively and mechanically.  The loneliness of the journey, the forced cooperation, and the ugliness of the people and the world around you helps to create an authentic sense of protectiveness over Ellie.  It is very much a journey of you against the world, and every time Ellie is forced to leave the safety of your side for the sake of cooperation, it is an authentically uneasy feeling.  


While the post-apocalyptic zombie-esque world isn't particularly unique when factoring in The Walking Dead's immense popularity, it is the journey and the interactive delivery of Joel and Ellie's journey across the country that helps set it apart.  The Last of Us is an ever lasting example of the evolution of interactive story telling and will always hold a significant place in gaming history.

3.) The Walking Dead (Telltale Series) 

Telltale Games has made an entire business around being able to tell quality stories.  But they really didn't take off until they released their first season of their episodic Walking Dead series.  Its popularity isn't derived from the AMC blockbuster series, but employs a style that is closer to the comic books.


The journey of Lee Everett and Clementine is one of the most compelling arcs ever crafted in interactive narratives.  Despite the fact that there isn't much of a challenge (or game depending on who you talk to), the narrative drives a satisfying set of in game prompts that mean the difference between life and death.  In this zombie apocalypse, death rears its head around every corner and isn't afraid to take your heart strings, rip them out, and throw them in the dirt before stomping them into submission.

4.) The Witcher Series

The Witcher series can be tough to get into if you haven't read the books and/or choose to skip the first game.  The series' second entry, Assassin's of Kings more or less assumes you know what is going on from the start and is unapologetic about it.  However, it doesn't take too long to realize that you are dealing with one of the most unique video game narratives around.  Most stories clearly state who is good and who is bad at every turn, but in this universe, it's not that simple.


It's said that there are two sides to every story and that ideal is the foundation of The Witcher's narrative.  Almost nothing follows the path of "this side is good, this side is bad". In fact almost all of it is bad on some level.  The world operates in shades of grey rather than light versus dark.  Villains are not representations of the Evil Railway Baron trope, instead having legitimate goals that you, yourself might be trying to accomplish had things been different.  


In fact, Assassin's of Kings offers up a choice between following two different leaders, a murderer fighting for the rights of non-humans and a human trying to uphold the peace, but whose actions are perceived as racist by some.  Neither are good, neither are evil, it all just depends on the player's perspective, much like the world we live in now.  The result is a very believable and grounded story in a high fantasy world.

5.) BioShock series

Yes, in many ways, BioShock is basically System Shock 2, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most compelling and hotly debated stories in the history of interactive narrative.  I mean, would you kindly take a look at that insane timeline of BioShock Infinite.  


The original BioShock was a master class of its own in balancing functional level design, with a believably lived in space and the events that lead to Rapture's undoing let the combat mechanics fit the story like a glove.  It can be debated that despite its critical appeal, BioShock Infinite never quite achieved the same heights as the original, but it doesn't exclude the fact that the series as a whole tells one of the best stories that video games have ever seen.

6.) Final Fantasy VII

It wouldn't be a list of narratively focused games if the semi-divisive Final Fantasy VII wasn't on the list.  


Of course, this entry is more or less on the "it's cool to hate" spectrum by a lot of Final Fantasy purists.  However, its impact both as a game and as a narrative cannot be denied in terms of its ever lasting legacy.  A lot of that has to do with "the death."  On the outside, it seems kind of silly that one event could make an entire narrative that famous, however it has done just that.  That death of course is everyone's favorite flower girl, Aeris.


Never have I seen so many gamers live in such denial about one death in a video game.  Even now, coming up on 20 years after the game's initial release, there is a sect of players that are still convinced that there is a legitimate way to bring her back from the dead.  *Spoilers* there isn't.  As much as I love this game and its story, I admit Aeris' death is a bit illogical given the fact that Cloud and Co. should have had at least one Phoenix Down in their back pocket.  Bah, details.

7.) Metal Gear Solid (PS1)

Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation is widely recognized as one of the greatest games of all time and for good reason.  Despite its relatively short length of 12 hours, it has great story pacing and tight gameplay.  At the time, Metal Gear Solid was renowned for being one of the most cinematic experiences and it was obvious that a lot of care went into trying to be accurate with smaller details, which is a bit ironic considering how super natural many elements of the game are.


David Hayter's performance as Solid Snake was revolutionary at the time for how good it was, and his voice has since become arguably the most iconic in the industry.  The story humanized a couple of the supposed villains in the game like Sniper Wolf and Psycho Mantis upon their deaths which effectively blurred the lines between the player's side and the antagonist's.  


Despite the fact that the series has become quite convoluted in its logic over the years, Metal Gear Solid's emphasis and delivery on story telling is in in some ways unmatched even today.  With Hideo Kojima's tenure at Konami looking like it's end is near, it's important to appreciate the impact that the Metal Gear series has had on interactive narrative.

8.) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Before Mass Effect and Dragon Age's enormous impact on the Western Role Playing game market, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was BioWare's flagship role-playing franchise.  KOTOR, as it is known, released back in 2003 during the early days of the original Xbox and took place 4,000 years before the Original Star Wars trilogy where a Sith Lord, Darth Malak, the former apprentice of the feared Darth Revan, has commenced a fierce attack on the Jedi Knights with a large armada, forcing them to scatter across the galaxy.  


Its narrative formula would build the foundation that both the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises would come to lean heavily on.  KOTOR featured teams of three allies in combat and had the player travel from planet to planet, finding new allies on each one that represented a different class or class combination.  


Arguably the biggest reason that KOTOR's narrative is so fondly remembered is the big twist around the halfway point in the game that takes its inspiration from Darth Vader's infamous "I am your father" reveal.  YOU are the villain, Darth Revan.  Before the big reveal, Revan's role is little more than a reference to give context to present events, much like Luke Skywalker's references to his father were.  But once the cat's out of the bag, it revolutionizes the way the player views the entire story in the same way Vader being Luke's father did in Empire Strikes Back.

9. ) Minecraft

Sometimes the best stories in video games aren't directly told to you, but rather the story you tell yourself.  Minecraft accomplishes just that with the personalization, tools and authentic sense of discovery that lies at the heart of the experience.  Imagination is the name of the game, and Minecraft's formula is built to appeal to ours.


There are so many different ways to play the game, and it all depends on what kind of character the player wants to role play as.  Are you a survivor that washed up on a mysterious land?  Are you a farmer that wants to herd the land's animals?  What about the threats that befall the land?  Do you hide from them at night while planning for the next day? Do you brave the night to slay the monsters for their resources?  How do you deal with hunger?


Minecraft is the poster child for individual story telling, spawning a whole host of survival adventures that permeate Steam's Early Access page that have evolved on Minecraft's principles.

10.) Portal Series

Portal's narrative begins simply enough.  You awaken inside your room in the Aperture Science labs, and are instructed to begin testing by the soft, robotic voice of GLaDOS.  Like the character we inhabit, we follow the instructions without question.  The player has no concept of what is going on outside of the casually comedic tone, the task that is laid out before us and that there's cake at the end (Yum!).  This setup allows us to effortlessly step into the shoes of Chell, the Aperture lab rat.  But as the player progresses, we quickly find out that "The Cake" is a lie. 


Portal is especially good at tying dialogue into in game accomplishments.  As the player masters more and more puzzles, GLaDOS in turn becomes more and more talkative and goes from being mockingly hilarious to being mockingly cold and murderous (while still being hilarious).  It is this dark comedy that really helps make Portal stand out on its own from the Half-life series in terms of its tone.


Not everybody plays games for story.  And as a result, ludology vs narratology is one of the hottest debates in gaming.  And to be fair, a lot of games tell some pretty crappy and/or cliched stories, and sadly a lot of them are actually trying.  However, there have been some legitimately great stories that have come from the interactive entertainment medium and in many ways their impact is best felt as a video game.  


These games were chosen on the basis, of not only the quality of the narrative, but how well the story utilizes the mechanics of the interactive medium.  I think it goes without saying that massive story-ruining spoilers follow.  Here are the Top 10 stories in video games.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Hype, Maturity and Meaningful Progression Mon, 25 May 2015 12:01:38 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

It's very rare to find games that generate the amount of anticipation at a consistently high level that I have felt for Wild Hunt over the past two years.  Sure, I've been excited for games before, who hasn't?  As I run my eyes up and down the shelves of my video game library, many titles across a multitude of gaming generations stand out that generated that same feeling before they released:

  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Fallout 3
  • Mass Effect
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • The Last of Us
  • Skyrim
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Final Fantasy XII
  • God of War
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  • Dark Cloud 2
  • Freedom Fighters
  • Rogue Galaxy
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Syphon Filter
  • Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace: The Game (I was very young and inexperienced then).

As far as living up to the hype I had for them, these games had varying levels of success.  They ranged from "exactly what I'd hoped they'd be" (The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, God of War) to "Good but the hype weighed it down" (Rogue Galaxy, Dark Cloud 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy XII) to "my fanboyism really got the best of me" (like I said, young and inexperienced).  For all the games I've ever sat on my hands in excited anticipation over, Wild Hunt is much different than the rest.

In many ways, I was like a shy guy with a crush on someone who couldn't bring himself to tell them how I felt.

Three years ago, I played The Witcher 2: Assassin's of Kings for the first time on Xbox 360.  I wasn't a PC player at the time, as I was still using a Mac Book Pro I had bought in 2008 (a situation I have since rectified).  Therefore my only method of playing the latest games was via console.  I had long admired The Witcher series from afar, first being captivated by the original game's opening sequence back in 2007 during my undergrad days, but I had never played it.  

It was a curious thing.  I had never played any of the games, or read any of the books, yet for some reason, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Something about the world, the characters and tone just kept it in the back of my mind.  In many ways, I was like a shy guy with a crush on someone who couldn't bring himself to tell them how I felt.  So I just sat on my feelings, until Assassin's of Kings came to Xbox 360.

When I finally got to play the game, I really liked it.  It wasn't necessarily love, but the game was legitimately good.  Part of that was my fault for putting the game on such a pedestal.  I still loved the style and wanted to learn more about the world, but I had a hard time understanding the references to events, places, and characters in terms of context.  The game never really eased me in, it just assumed I knew what was going on.  But I kept with it and played the game all the way through to the end.

As much as I enjoyed the game, I couldn't help but feel a distinct lack of freedom, which I felt collided with the fact that Geralt of Rivia's character is more or less a drifter who had been all over the world.  Not to mention that for a guy who labels himself as a "Professional Monster Slayer", the game didn't quite bring his monster tracking to the forefront, instead using side quests as a means of eliminating monster nests while the main focus stayed on the world's politics.  It's not that I didn't enjoy this set up.  Quite the opposite.

Seriously, what do The Avengers get out of saving the world from Ultron?  Gratitude?  Barf.

I loved Geralt's neutral stance, the emphasis on grey areas, and that the "villains" of the world weren't so diabolically evil that there was no way to fathom seeing their point of view.  These are things that a lot of modern story lines (never mind games) haven't been to willing to fully explore.  Heroes are generally so sickeningly good with their "I can't stand by while (Insert villain name here) hurts innocent people/burns the village/destroys the world" speeches.  Seriously, what do The Avengers get out of saving the world from Ultron?  Gratitude?  Barf.  This is not to suggest that those kinds of stories can't work, it's just refreshing to see a form of media throw off the shackles of sensitivity and trust its audience to handle its content with a mature and rational mind.

At the time I was playing Assassin's of Kings, I was getting my Master's in Game Development so naturally I discussed my experiences and thoughts on the game with others in the program.  I kept coming around to the idea that the series would serve to benefit from the mechanics of an open world.  Everything about The Witcher and its world just made sense for that to be a natural evolution.  Horses to travel with, different monsters residing in different areas of the world, not to mention actually seeing these parts of the world rather than hearing about them and actually relying upon Witcher contracts to survive and upgrade.  

There is also plenty of armed conflict between countries in the narrative and seeing its devastating effects on the land and daily life of the people would only serve to enhance what the story is trying to tell its audience.  Rockstar's Red Dead series started as a good linear 3rd person shooter on PS2 and Xbox (Red Dead Revolver) and skyrocketed into one of the greatest games of all time (Red Dead Redemption) on PS3 and Xbox 360 when it went open world, so why couldn't CD Projekt RED achieve the same kind meaningful progression?

Meaningful progression in video games is so hard to find these days with yearly iterations.

Fortunately the gaming gods were on the same page, and like clock work, the March 2013 issue of Game Informer magazine issue #239 was released and introduced Wild Hunt to the world as its cover game.  I read every line of that preview and couldn't believe my eyes.  Meaningful progression in video games is so hard to find these days with yearly iterations.  Indie games help to break up the monotony and tone out the big executives touting the next Assassin's Creed/Battlefield/Call of Duty/etc as "revolutionary" and/or "unlike anything that's ever been done before".  But ultimately, most video game series so often stagnate into doing what they are comfortable with under the pressure of big budgets, that it only serves to hurt the quality of games we are given to choose from.

In the hours I have spent with Wild Hunt, it's safe to say that CD Projekt RED has succeeded in achieving meaningful progression.  The game is masterful at balancing what has worked before with the evolution of its own systems to make it feel new.  In an ideal world, the status quo wouldn't be enough to be profitable and the industry would be forced to adapt to new consumer expectations.   Wild Hunt is one of those rare great games that gets what it means to deliver on scaled up budgets and expectations.  Do yourself a favor, and get lost in the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

An Unbelievable World is Revealed in the New Witcher 3 Trailer Tue, 14 Apr 2015 20:39:52 -0400 Victor Ren

A five minute trailer was released by CD Projekt Red for their new game, the much anticipated Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The trailer covers everything about the game, while introducing you to the beautiful and exciting Northern Realms.

The game is packed with seemingly endless features. The trailer shows off horseback racing, getting drunk then waking up with a hangover, treasure hunting, brawling, exploring, playing cards, and even making true love, while meaningless love is also an option. Although the creepiest option might be partaking in ancient rituals where you'll witness women licking blood off of each other, it looks like there will be enough to do for hours on hours of play.

Along with the massive world, the trailer touches a bit on the story as well. Without giving too much away, the narrator tells us about how the story will intertwine aspects of religious fanaticism, war crimes, and even a little bit of racism. Sounds like we are in for a crazy ride.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be coming our for the PC, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One on May 16th. The game will also have 16 free pieces of DLC planned for it, and two major expansions packs that will add an immense amount of playing time to the already huge game.