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Monday, November 12, 2012

New Releases: Week of November 12th

Here's a look at what's new this week.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II. That's basically all you need to know about this week. The only games brave enough to go toe-to-toe with the yearly sales juggernaut are a couple of MMOs and titles like The Sims and LEGO Lord of the Rings, which likely don't have the same playerbase as the military shooter. Your wallet shouldn't face any tough decisions this week as your stance on these franchises is probably well-established at this point.

This Week in PC Gaming

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Activision, Treyarch
Full release
Tuesday, November 13th | $59.99

Time for Activision to make another billion dollars.

Black Ops II is Treyarch's latest addition to the Call of Duty franchise, as if it's possible for anyone to not know that at this point. That damn commercial has been running non-stop for the past couple of weeks, and it does a good job communicating just how ridiculously over-the-top CoD games have become.

With that being said, BLOPS2 almost looks semi-interesting, even on the PC. Treyarch is clearly the main Call of Duty studio at this point after living in Infinity Ward's shadow for several years. The new game brings actual change to the stock CoD multiplayer formula that has been copy/pasted from CoD4 every year since 2007. Killstreaks are gone, create-a-class is fundamentally different, smaller multi-squad games are in, and "Prestige" mode no longer resets your progress. In addition, the game is being developed with eSports in mind and supports easy YouTube streaming on day one.

Despite all of the game's pluses, we're still not getting a true PC shooter. BLOPS2 uses a hybrid matchmaking/dedicated server system that apparently doesn't involve a server browser. No mods tools will be released due to "increased technical requirements, licensing restrictions, and technology dependencies," which basically means "we can't have people making content and giving it away for free when we're going to be shoving $15 map packs down your throat."

Black Ops II has the potential to be the best Call of Duty game in years, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost of admission on the PC.

RIFT: Storm Legion
Trion Worlds
Expansion pack (requires base game)
Tuesday, November 13th | $39.99

This week marks the release of the first RIFT expansion. I have to hand it to Trion for keeping RIFT afloat as a subscription MMO for almost two years now. A quick look at the patch history on the game's Wikipedia page shows that they've been rolling out significant updates every couple of months to keep players interested.

Storm Legion seems to be pretty standard as far as expansions go: 10 more levels, two more continents to explore, new classes/dungeons/raids and all that good stuff. It certainly looks like the expansion will be worth 40 bucks for current subscribers, and those new to the game can buy the original plus the expansion for $49.99. This price crunching is similar to what Blizzard has done with World of Warcraft and its expansions; the base game and BC/WotLK/Cata are currently available for around 40 bucks total, with Mists of Pandaria another $40 on top of that. Gotta keep that buy in price low to ensure that the game remains accessible.

In my MMO experience, expansions represent a major fork in the road for subscribers: should I buy it and keep playing, or skip it and quit? There's never a lot of action to be found in older game zones, so this is more or less a required $40 update. If you're a RIFT fan, you probably don't need to be sold on this one.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Note: this list is not comprehensive but should cover most major titles. Check back every Monday for a new list of PC releases.


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