Microsoft has brought back its old Intellimouse design after around ten years in the wilderness, releasing the new Classic Intellimouse. So, what’s changed? Design-wise... nothing. In fact Microsoft actually used the original Intellimouse 3.0 CAD files from 2002 to manufacture the brand new rodent.
It was the only way Microsoft could “really pay the right respect and build the right product,” Simon Dearsley, the devices design director at Microsoft, told me when I spoke to him about the new mouse. We also got to talk about what’s changed, and why now is the perfect time to bring back one of the most iconic old-school gaming mice from the beforetimes, the long, long ago.
Check out our pick of the on the planet right now.
“Actually, the only reason we stopped selling it sometime in the late 2000's,” explains Dearsley, “was because the original chipset supplier that supplies the sensor actually end-of-lifed the sensor platform. And, at the time, I think the company’s priorities were a little bit different and so we just decided to end-of-life the product.”
But with the huge interest in the Intellimouse design it’s now time to bring it back, most especially with the number of fans the mouse has in the Chinese gaming market.
“We did know that clones of it, and copies of it, are being sold in pretty large volumes in China, because there is a huge gaming market over there,” says Dearsley. “We just thought it was an interesting time for us to do something with our legacy and celebrate the technological changes that we've made in mice technology since then.”
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is looking like even less of an Assassin’s Creed game than last year’s Origins, which was already a marked departure from the franchise formula, imbuing the series with trendy RPG elements.
Odyssey is set prior to the founding of the Assassin Order, and while in the lore there is a little evidence of early assassins getting up to no good, it looks like the character you choose won’t wear the hood or have a hidden blade, instead carrying the Spear of Leonidas, a Piece of Eden with as-of-yet unconfirmed powers.
If all this is indicative of anything, it’s that Assassin’s Creed is now more focused on historical storytelling than sticking to its own tried and tested formula. The E3 showcase boasted vignettes of gorgeous Greek architecture, nuanced action-RPG combat, and huge battles with multiple enemies, a far cry from the quiet subterfuge of the original game.
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What excited me most about Odyssey was that Ubisoft has shifted its focus to creating a lived-in historical slice, rather than trying to shoehorn the (let’s be honest) totally wild and contrived story of Abstergo into a period that doesn’t need any extra flavour to be interesting. Ancient Greece laid the foundation for our modern societal values with its progressive approach to sexuality and iconic philosophy and mythology.
Whether it’s tragedy or comedy, we cannot escape the legacy of its influence on the stories we consume and share with one another even today. Choosing to focus on recreating that is a brilliant pivot, as Ubisoft’s previous approach only worked to undermine what they’re best at.
Revolutionary America was an instantly compelling setting, but Assassin’s Creed III was ultimately dragged down by the need to connect everything to Desmond Miles and the First Civilization.
The Squirtle Squad is coming to Pokemon Go in an upcoming Community Day event, where this specific and fashionable Squirtle will be available to catch while you’re out in the wild. If you’re cool enough to do so that is. Also awesome, is that players will be able to unlock one hell of a Blastoise for their collection, that happens to come equipped with a moveset that includes Hydro Cannon.
A new action RPG from developer Spiders puts diplomacy front and center – when you’re not being mauled by massive creatures, that is. GreedFall’s art style is inspired by 17th century Europe, albeit with a heavy dose of magic. The game takes place on an island called Teer Fradee. The island has recently been colonized by survivors from the Old World, which was devastated by a deadly plague. That puts land in Teer Fradee at a premium, and it's up to you to navigate the tense relationships between several competing factions. Players step into the leather boots of a representative for the Congregation of Merchants, and can fully customize your character by selecting your gender, looks, and clothing. The demo we saw tasked the protagonist with aiding Sior, the daughter of a tribal clan who needs help defending their home from an invading army. Spiders says that the choices and dialogue branches you select will have a major impact on the story, as well as your standing with the various factions. In our demo, the player chooses to help Sior, and sets out to follow her back to the tribe.
The wilderness in GreedFall is full of strange and deadly creatures, including big wolf-bear hybrids that ambush our travelers during the journey. The ensuing combat looks like a weightier take on the hack-and-slash genre; enemies (and presumably the player) can be hit with a variety of status modifiers, such as “stunned,” “off balance,” “knocked down,” and “poisoned.” Dodging is also possible, but on the whole combat is slower and heavier than the typical action game. After dispatching the creatures, the duo return to the tribe’s land which is already at war with the invading army. Our protagonist and Sior jump into the melee. An interconnected skill tree allows you to build out your character and combat focus as you see fit, whether you want to be a sword-based warrior, or specialize in magic, traps, or firearms.
The protagonist in our demo favors a large two-handed sword that’s able to cut down multiple enemies at once. However, they are too late; most of the tribe has already been slaughtered, including Sior’s mother, the queen. After the battle, the elder surviving tribeswoman reacts hostilely towards the main character, but he manages to talk her down – he assisted Sior after all, and fought alongside them. Players can have up to two NPCs accompany them during the game, and who you choose will also affect your standing with the various factions. These companions come in handy at the end of the demo, when the player encounters a massive horned creature that requires a prolonged series of strikes, dodges, and magic attacks to take down. So far the interplay between the factions sounds like the most intriguing aspect of GreedFall; Spiders says that players can approach situations with a wide variety of tactics beyond combat, including diplomacy and deception. We’ll have to wait until next year to see how it all comes together, but we’re interested to learn more of GreedFall’s unique world and ambitious RPG elements.
The Tomb Raider reboot has been about building up Lara Croft from a determined but inexperienced explorer to the hero we know today. During our E3 demo of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we got to play her as a full-on predator, culminating in a chilling scene that shows her confronting – and dismissing – any remaining fears or lingering insecurities.
Unlike , which featured a gunfight that didn’t end until either Lara or her Trinity adversaries were dead, today’s demo was more flexible. It’s set in a Peruvian jungle, with multiple routes and paths to explore. Lara moves through a dirt trail, as a radio crackles to live with a warning that “Croft is heading to your location.” She climbs a tree, and sees a trio of enemies below her. Jumping down and taking them out with her knife would be a dangerously stupid thing to attempt, so I draw my bow and fire a new fear arrow into the neck of the closest goon.
The projectile hits its mark with a satisfying “Thwack!” and the victim looks around. He begins firing wildly at his comrades, clearly under its spell, taking them both out. A few seconds later, his panic turns to distress as he finally succumbs to the poison and hits the ground dead. It’s reminiscent of the berserk darts and similar toxins from the Assassin’s Creed games, but that familiarity doesn’t make the effects any less enjoyable. Ahead, I use the same tactic to eliminate a cluster of four enemies. The fear arrows are a limited resource, and they’re also not effective on armored enemies, so I take advantage while I can.
Lara is agile as ever, and climbing trees and getting the drop on enemies remains a solid approach. When a Trinity soldier gets too close to me on a patrol, I use a stealth kill that has Lara fire a rope arrow at him, drop from the tree, and string him up. I’m doing so well that I start to get a little cocky; I try to deactivate a generator while a guard is coming back, and he notices me – even though I stopped by a puddle a bit earlier and covered myself in mud.
The fighters are aggressive and relentless. I try to juke their attacks, but it’s hard to avoid bullets with fancy footwork alone. I do manage to scramble away and backtrack to a vine-covered wall, where I can hide in its greenery. It’s enough to fool the guards into thinking I’m gone for good. That was a mistake. I find a gas can in an elevated spot, and throw it on the ground near several guards. They react the same way they do when I chuck bottles at them: firing blindly at the sound. It’s a fatal error, as their shots detonate the container and the explosion clears out the stragglers.
Lara radios for her friend Jonah, and hears an unfamiliar voice. Jonah’s dead, the voice taunts, and his body can be found in the refinery. “I’m coming for you,” she replies.
Lara moves past a gate, and the jungle gives way to a dustrial setting. Steel drums and vehicles are scattered along the path, which leads to the refinery. She’s midway across a bridge when a spotlight blasts on face, mounted on a helicopter. Stealth is no longer an option. An army of Trinity thugs open fire, and an extended platforming sequence begins. We’ve all seen the basic elements here before – collapsing catwalks, rails that bend and swing when grabbed, and death-defying leaps – but the graphical fidelity and effects from the now-flaming refinery keep it exciting.
The demo ends with Lara falling into the water, and her body is limp as it sinks. A montage of audio memories plays; people from her past and Lara herself doubt her resolve. But she refuses to give in. Her eyes open, and she slowly rises from the water, standing tall as walls of flame flicker behind her. A wounded guard is on the dock, and Lara methodically bears down on him, knife ready. It’s a powerful moment, and the screen cuts to black before we see how it ends. I can only imagine it’s not going to be good for him, for Trinity, and possibly for Lara herself.
Look for Shadow of the Tomb Raider on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Sept. 14.
Amazon has discounted For Honor Deluxe Edition, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Steep, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands Deluxe Edition and Watch Dogs 2 Gold Edition at up to 70% off on Xbox One.