Microsoft

If you remember last month, Xbox announced a second wave of independent developers who have signed on to the program, and more than 250 have now received development kits for Xbox One via the ID@Xbox program. Now, as GDC kicks off in San Francisco,  about 25 games coming to Xbox One through ID@Xbox.

ID@Xbox

“Since we first announced the program in August, we’ve been working closely with developers to bring a diverse array of independent games to Xbox One,” said ID@Xbox Games Director Chris Charla. “Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible so developers can focus on what matters most: creating the games you’re beginning to see today!”

With this initial sample features an exciting and diverse group from nine countries around the world. There are brand new innovations such as “It Draws a Red Box” and “FRU”, which are taking advantage of Xbox One’s features in new and exciting ways with local 8-player gameplay and Kinect integration. Existing fan favourites are also being brought to the platform, including “Strike Suit Zero” and “Divekick.”

“Our goal has always been to make Xbox One the best place to play games, and that means having a diverse portfolio for gamers to choose from,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “We’ve worked closely with independent developers to bring their own brand of creativity and innovation to the platform and today is just the beginning.”

Look for ID@Xbox game titles in the Xbox store in the coming weeks, including “Strike Suit Zero”, “Nutjitsu”, “1001 Spikes” and more. “It Draws a Red Box” will also be available to play in the Microsoft Lobby Bar at GDC, and “Aztez” from Team Colorblind will be in the Unity booth.

Check out the full list below for more information. Remember, these games are coming to Xbox One soon, but this list is neither comprehensive nor chronological. There are many more games in the pipeline coming via ID@Xbox, such as “Pool Nation FX”, “Another World”, “Stick it to the Man”, “Ninja Cowboys”, “Mortar Melon”, “The Arc” .

  • “1001 Spikes” by Nicalis – This hardcore side-scroller features precise controls and a degree of difficulty that means starting with 1001 lives is not at all a guarantee you can make it through the game! Every level is custom designed to be beaten… barely. The game also includes co-op and cut-throat multiplayer modes.
  • “Calibre 10 Racing Series” by Bongfish GmbH – “Calibre 10 Racing Series” is a spiritual successor to “Harms Way”. The game is entirely multiplayer in a new experience that combines action-packed racing with fast-paced first-person shooting.
  • “CastleStorm” by Zen Studios – It’s Knights vs. Vikings in “CastleStorm”, a super genre mash-up of 2D physics destruction mashed with tower defense brawler! “CastleStorm” features a story-driven solo campaign, a custom castle editor, online multiplayer, co-op modes, and more.
  • “Chariot” by Frima – A humourous physics-based couch co-op platformer in which a brave princess and her suitor carry a funeral wagon through ancient mines, fending-off swarms of looters while amassing riches, to bury the King’s remains in a worthy gold-filled tomb.
  • “Chuck’s Challenge 3D” by Niffler – From the design veteran behind the classic game “Chip’s Challenge” comes “Chuck’s Challenge 3D”, a fiendishly-addictive puzzler, packed with features that will tease the brain and challenge the fingers.
  • “Contrast” by Compulsion Games – “Contrast” is a 2D/3D adventure game, set in a surreal, 1920s, film noir dreamscape. You must help Didi explore the mysteries surrounding her family, by using your ability to shift between the 3D world and your 2D shadow.
  • “Divekick Addition Edition +” by Iron Galaxy Studios – “Divekick” is the world’s first-ever two-button fighting game. Now anyone can experience the thrill of fighting games without memorising complex combos and finger-contorting button presses.
  • “Forced” by BetaDwarf ApS – A one-to four-player co-op arcade adventure with puzzles and tactical elements. You are cast as slaves in the toughest fantasy gladiator school of them all, condemned to fight as a gladiator and eventually win your freedom.
  • “FRU” by Through Games – “FRU” is a Kinect-based puzzle platformer in which the player uses both a joystick and their body to control the game. In fact, in “FRU”, the player’s silhouette is used to reveal what lies beneath the world at first glance. “FRU’s” gameplay changes according to the player’s shape, pose and movement.
  • “Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition” by DrinkBox Studios – An action-packed, 2D brawler/platformer that alternates between the worlds of the living and the dead.
  • “Gunscape” by Blowfish Studios – At its heart, “Gunscape” is an FPS construction kit: a game with solid action gameplay, a welcoming approach to map building and a huge toolbox of iconic weapons, monsters and level elements that can be extensively combined to create new and exciting gameplay experiences.
  • “Habitat” by 4gency – “Habitat” is a space-themed strategy game set in Earth’s orbit, where you lead a team of engineers to save humanity by building a space station out of an orbiting wasteland of space junk.
  • “Hyper Light Drifter” by Heart Machine – “Hyper Light Drifter” is an action-adventure RPG in the vein of the best eight-bit and 16-bit classics, with modernised mechanics and designs on a much grander scale.
  • “It Draws a Red Box” by Other Ocean – “It Draws a Red Box” is a chaotic eight-player jumping jetpack future arena ball game, inspired by “Bomberman”, “Smash Bros.”, cans of soda, paint-by-number books and driving five miles per hour faster than the speed limit.
  • “Nutjitsu” by NinjaBee – A top-down, arcade-style game for Xbox One. Players take control of the ninja squirrel on his quest to reclaim his clan’s honour. Featuring two game modes, five power ups, 25 ranks, three distinct enemies and 15 levels, this HTML5 based title is coming to your dojo in early spring.
  • “Pinball Arcade” by FarSight Studios – “Pinball Arcade” features exact recreations of the all-time greatest pinball tables from Williams, Bally, Stern Pinball and Gottlieb together in one game. Every flipper, bumper, sound effect and display pixel has been painstakingly emulated in astonishing detail.
  • “Q.U.B.E. Director’s Cut” by Toxic Games – A first-person game that faces the player with a series of brain-teasing puzzles. The player uses high tech gloves to manipulate different types of cube in the environment – unravelling conundrums ranging from physics-based challenges and 3D jigsaws, to platform-based trials.
  • “Riptide GP2” by Vector Unit – Featuring dynamic racing on fully interactive water surfaces, “Riptide GP2” sets the standard in modern water racing games.  Take control of rocket powered hydro jets to race through futuristic cityscapes, hurl yourself off sky-high jumps and bust out dozens of death defying stunts.
  • “Roundabout” by No Goblin – An open world driving puzzle game where you control a constantly rotating limousine. Pick up passengers, find secret collectibles, take on dangerous missions, and fall in love while reliving the 1977 rise to fame story of Georgio Manos.
  • “Sixty Second Shooter Prime” by Happion Laboratories – “Sixty Second Shooter Prime” is a twin-stick shooter with a sixty-second time limit. This new Prime version brings a graphics upgrade, a new soundtrack, infinity mode and social leaderboards.
  • “Spectra: 8bit Racing” by Gateway Interactive – From new studio Gateway Interactive and Chipzel (the amazing chip-tune artist behind the “Super Hexagon” music) comes “Spectra” a fast-paced, retro-style racing game destined to get your heart pumping and test your skill like no other!
  • “Strike Suit Zero” by Born Ready Games – A space combat game that throws players into huge, intense space battles where the fate of Earth rests in your hands.
  • “Super Time Force” by Capybara – An action-packed platformer with a time-travelling twist. Take control of up to 16 unique characters, and battle across six different time periods, from the past to the far-away future.
  • “The Last Tinker” by Mimimi Productions – In a world where creativity has given way to conflict, a street kid living in the slums of Colortown seeks to restore the spark of imagination to his hometown. A charming blend of modern platforming and multicolored style, “The Last Tinker” is a one-of-a-kind adventure.
  • “Wulverblade” by Darkwind Media – A side-scrolling brawler created in the spirit of the arcade greats. It’s 120AD and the Roman army has seized control of Britannia. Their goal: march north and conquer the island with bloody efficiency. The 5,000-strong 9th Legion are preparing for war, but little do they know what lies in wait for them.

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With the Xbox One already on sale in 13 countries, Microsoft’s Xbox One is already pulling in the sales. The company is ready to take the next generation console to even new markets 26 of them in fact.

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With gamers on all continents will be served, but you’ll have a little bit longer to wait until September to get your hands on Xbox One. Here is the confirmed markets in the list after the break and then wait a few short weeks until Microsoft shares more information on its local launches.

Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE.

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Microsoft today has shared the next wave of features that we will begin to roll out, on your Xbox One. These features will become available to members getting the early previews in the coming days and weeks and will be available to the full Xbox Live community in April.

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  • Game and app saves and updates. A game save progress bar will show you the status of your game saves. You will also be able to easily tell what games and apps are being updated or have been updated recently.
  • Friends improvements. Notifications will be added to see when favorites and friends sign in to Xbox Live. This actually was one of the most frequently requested features from the first preview wave and we made it a priority to include it in the April update. Also, friends who are in multiplayer will be identified in the friends list. We’ll also add the ability to view friends’ most popular apps.
  • Kinect voice and motion improvements will continue to fine tune the quality and reliability of Xbox One commands.
  • Improved GameDVR video quality through compression algorithm improvements.

We’re also extending more invitations to Xbox Live members around the world in our current 13 Xbox One markets. New invitees will be sent an Xbox Live message to register. Once registered, you will be able to test the early features included in the update and provide feedback on a private forum.

The external hard drive storage feature is still no in this update, is still a big one and Microsoft have promised it on the to do list.

Next month sees Microsoft releasing Kinect Sports Rivals on the Xbox One, and I recently had the chance to visit to Rare.

Roadshow Wakerace

Kinect Sports Rivals is the next generation of the best-selling Kinect franchise, Kinect Sports, that brings your favourite sports back in re-imagined ways, and delivers new sports and events made possible only with Xbox One’s revolutionary technology. Kinect Sports Rivals puts you in the game like never before, tracks your movements and expressions with incredible accuracy, and offers never-ending competition with your friends and rivals.

9.Andrew Edney Huffington

The all-new Kinect instantly scans and creates a stylized digital version of you, your Champion, then drops your virtual athlete into the ever-evolving world of Kinect Sports Rivals. Compete in a world full of competitors on one of three global teams, each with its own philosophy and playing style. As you enter into competitions with players from around the world, Xbox One uses the power of the Cloud to create an always-evolving experience that responds to how you, the champion of the game, play.

Kinect Sports Rivals contains 6 game experiences : bowling, shooting, climbing, soccer, wake racing and tennis. You can play against the computer, your friends, or even split-screen.

Danny Issac is the Executive Producer for Kinect Sports Rivals, and I sat down with him to talk all things KSR, including who they managed to get to do the voice-over for several large portions of the game. Over to Danny:

Kinect Sports Rivals will be released on the Xbox One on April 11th.

What’s your favourite sport in the game? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Its been announced that Marc Whitten, chief product officer of Xbox, is leaving Microsoft to become the chief product officer of Sonos. With Marc Whitten joined the Xbox team in 2000 and then helped to launch the Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Marc Whitten

“I have had the extreme pleasure over the last 14 years to work on the greatest product with the greatest team and for the greatest community,” Whitten said in the announcement. “Xbox is so special because of the amazing team I’ve had the opportunity to work with and because our fans are the most incredible fans on the planet. It has been the highlight of my career to work on a product so loved. It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.”

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Microsoft have just started to roll out the latest update to Xbox One, with this significant update that includes improved matchmaking, party chat and friends features. This update means next week when you start to play Titanfall, you will be able to broadcast any game you like from the 11th March when the Twitch update app arrives next Tuesday (11th March).

Improved Multiplayer & Party chat

  • Cross title party chat
  • Party chat on by default
  • Easier multiplayer invites
  • Easier multiplayer joining
  • Ability to see what the people in your party are doing

Improved Friends List + Profile

  • Improved friends list utility & speed of access
  • Ability to see people you recently played games with
  • See when friends are broadcasting, including live broadcast thumbnails in activity feed
  • Get to a friend’s profile faster using type-ahead suggestions
  • Contextual app menu actions on friends list and activity feed items
  • Enabled more multiplayer (join and invite) actions on user profiles
  • 54 new contest-winning gamerpics

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Twitch TV live streaming support

  • Broadcast gameplay on Twitch.TV through Xbox LIVE (When the updated Twitch app ships next week.)
  • Voice support for starting and ending broadcast

Bringing out social in home

  • See favourite friends currently online
  • See friends broadcasting gameplay

Miscellaneous shell improvements

  • Improved notification centre experiences including “quiet mode”
  • View Game Clips while in snap mode
  • Protect user settings with passkey

Browser improvements

  • Control Bing and Google maps with gesture and controller
  • Quick search when highlighting a term on a page
  • When searching from Bing search on the console, direct link to Internet Explorer in order to see additional web results.

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New Devices – Driver and Firmware updates

  • Firmware update to the Xbox One controller to support the Xbox One stereo headset adapter
  • Support for 1st and 3rd party headsets
  • Driver updates for the Xbox One Media Remote

SmartGlass Improvements

  • Push notification to your device for Xbox Live messages
  • Quickly see what a friend is doing including presence and recent
  • Enhanced viewing of personal and a friend’s game progress and clips
  • Ability to close snap from SmartGlass

Live TV

  • 50Hz fix – users can set the Live TV app to display at 50Hz for full or fill modes
  • Volume up/down adjustments – user can tailor the number of volume increments when using “volume up” or “volume down” commands
  • IR blasting of power & volume to TVs/AVRs in all regions
  • AVR setup maps to include model number for most sound bars or AVRs when setting up TV

Improved  Audio output support

  • SPDIF (optical out) now supports 5.1 Dolby Digital – enabling devices such as sound bars with only Optical In to be able to receive 5.1 Dolby Digital from console over optical
  • HDMI output now supports stereo uncompressed, 5.1 uncompressed, 7.1 uncompressed or 5.1 Dolby Digital live or 5.1 DTS

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Today Turn 10 announced that Alpinestars is bringing its signature flair to “Forza Motorsport 5”.

In the newest car pack for the game, Alpinestars has inspired an all-new collection of cars, each of which has been built from the ground up for the new generation.

The Alpinestars Car Pack includes ten amazing vehicles for Forza 5 players to collect, race, and customise.

Fans of vintage American muscle can power their way past the competition in the 1965 Ford Mustang GT Coupe, while speed demons can chase new lap records in the 2011 Radical SR8 RX or the 2012 Ultimate GTR720. Featuring track-bred racers, luxury sedans, classic cruisers, and more, the Alpinestars Car Pack’s well-rounded selection has something to please car fans of every stripe.

Founded in 1963, Alpinestars began manufacturing hiking and ski boots but quickly found a niche in developing high performance protective gear for automotive and motorcycle racing.

Over the years, Alpinestars has become a trusted brand in action sport clothing for MotoGP, Motocross, Formula One and NASCAR. The brand’s Nomex suits protect from flames and high heat and have been used by champions such as Fernando Alonso and Jimmie Johnson. Even Top Gear’s Stig wears branded Alpinestars racing gear from head-to-toe.

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The Alpinestars Car Pack (included as part of the Forza Motorsport 5 Car Pass) is now available for £5.99 and includes all ten cars, with the 1999 Toyota #3 Toyota Motorsports GT-ONE TS020 immediately accessible in your Forza Motorsport 5 garage.  Each car can also be individually purchased, a la carte, in the marketplace.

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Peggle 2 is coming for the Xbox 360, on the 7th May worldwide. Not only will the game include the lovable Peggle Masters that players have gotten a chance to work alongside, but the Xbox 360 version will have multiplayer Duel Mode so players can challenge their friends on the couch or online.

peggle 2

Peggle 2 has become more magical with the first installment of downloadable content available today for Xbox One, which features the awesome multiplayer Duel Mode – a profound new experience that’s completely and utterly free. In a smart match, a private match or just relaxing on the couch, players can now compete against each other on the same board and take turns shooting pegs and demolishing bricks in an ultimate test of Peggle skill. Which mighty Peggle Master will you pick? And who will reach the heights of Extreme Fever first? You’ll have to play Duel Mode to find out!

“With all the excitement from our fans in December at launch we knew we wanted to continue growing the Peggle universe starting with more content and then expand onto the Xbox 360,” said John Vechey, General Manager at PopCap Games. “By offering the addition of Duel Mode, our fans will be able to challenge their friends continuously to find out who is ultimate ‘Peggle Master’.”

Just as in the classic original, Peggle 2 combines elements of pinball, pachinko and billiards and adds liberal doses of whimsy, fun, excitement and challenge – not to mention rainbows and a fifth of Beethoven.

Peggle 2 will be available for Xbox 360 starting on May 7 in North America and in Europe.

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Once a TV staple, music videos are now primarily housed on the internet, where easy access is key. With that philosophy in mind, we’re bringing that easy discoverability to your music viewing experience on Xbox One and introducing more than 92,000 music videos to Xbox Music.

MusicVideos

Rock out to a new playlist, create a Radio stream based on your favourite artist or pick a random track from your collection with Xbox Music on Xbox One, and if the song has a music video, watch it play automatically in sharp HD on your TV.

The process is simple. Find your playlist, say “Xbox Play,” and watch the videos appear on screen.

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Starting today, Team Dakota has expanded the Project Spark Beta Program onto Xbox One. That means Xbox One owners can join the existing community of designers to create and share new worlds or jump into other community creations to play or remix their creations.

Since the “Project Spark” Beta released on Windows 8.1 devices in December 2013, more than 250,000 fans signed up – with hundreds of new requests daily – taking advantage of the game’s revolutionary toolset to create custom adventures and unique worlds such as “Pinball Raid!,” “Blaze Jumper,” and “Colour.”

Here are a few questions asked from the Project Spark team

What does the Xbox One version of the Project Spark beta bring to the program?

The Xbox One version of Project Spark adds Performance Capture support with Kinect. Record your own animations and voice Make your custom moves, record voice over and customize your creations before you share them with the community across Xbox One and Windows 8. The Xbox One version also allows players to play their creations on their big screen at home. You can easily save your creation to the cloud and seamlessly play or create on either Windows 8 or Xbox One. Additionally, Project Spark automatically translates standard controls from Windows 8 mouse and keyboard to Xbox One controller and vice versa.

What’s a good starting point for new Project Spark creators?

Users can dive right into what the community has made, use Crossroads which lets them play as they create their own adventure, or play the interactive tutorials and learn how to make an adventure from scratch while building one.

What are some of the best creations you’ve seen in the beta so far?

The community has blown us away with their creations in the few months that Project Spark has been in Windows 8 beta. Some of our favorites are a wall jumper titles ‘Blaze Jumper,’ a visually stunning artistic showcase titled ‘Colour,’ and ‘Pinball Raid!’

How do folks sign up for the Project Spark beta?

It is simple! Go to http://www.projectspark.com/ and enter your email. You will be notified when your beta admittance is ready and you can install Project Spark and begin to create and play!

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Today Microsoft has added almost 70 developers to the list of successful ID@Xbox applicants, which now spans over 200 developers in total. With developers that include Playdead, developer of Limbo, Ska Studios, developer of Charlie Murder and The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, and The Behemoth, creator of Castle Crashers and Battleblock Theater.

ID@Xbox

“It has been an exciting couple months for ID@Xbox,” reads a post by Chris Charla, program director, on the Xbox NewsWire. “We created this program to make it easy for independent developers to bring their innovative ideas to Xbox One, and the response from the community continues to be amazing!”

There are apparently “thousands” of applicants to ID@Xbox, which was unveiled last summer. “This list is by no means exhaustive,” cautions Charla. “It’s just a sample of the many independent developers who will be bringing their games to Xbox One.”

Here is a updated list upto 27th February

  • 4gency
  • A Crowd of Monster
  • Alientrap Games
  • BetaDwarf
  • Big Ant Studios
  • Bloober Team
  • Blowfish Studios
  • Brain in a Jar
  • Brushfire Games
  • Cherry Pop Games Ltd
  • Codeglue
  • Code-Monkeys
  • Compulsion Games
  • Crunching Koalas
  • Deco Digital
  • Empty Clip Studios
  • Escalation Studios
  • EXOR Studios
  • FarSight Studios
  • Fatshark
  • Flix Interactive
  • Four Door Lemon Ltd
  • Frambosa
  • Frima
  • Glass Bottom Games
  • HB Studios
  • Headup Games
  • Heart Machine
  • Holmade Games
  • Humble Hearts LLC
  • I Fight Bears
  • Implausible Industries
  • Iridium Studios
  • iSquared Games Ltd
  • Larian Studios
  • Mediatonic
  • MeinMein
  • Mighty Rabbit Studios
  • Mimimi Productions
  • nDreams Ltd
  • NeocoreGames
  • No Goblin
  • n-Space
  • Piwot
  • Pixel Balloon
  • Playdead
  • Rebellion
  • Relentless Software
  • RetroCoders
  • Ripstone
  • Robomodo
  • Ska Studios
  • Smudged Cat Games Ltd
  • Snowrunner
  • Spry Fox
  • The Behemoth
  • Tiny Castle Studios
  • Toxic Games
  • Vector Unit
  • Vertigo Games BV
  • VooFoo Studios
  • Warhorse Studios
  • WaterMelon
  • Xona Games
  • Zoë Mode

The first ID@Xbox games are apparently in certification now – according to an earlier report, they’ll release in March.

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Today Dice and EA have released DICE new Battlefield 4 patches for the PC and Xbox One versions of the game. Also DICE plans to roll out the first part of the pre game lobby feature ‘Platoons’ on Tomorrow 27th, February. But unlike many of the modern multiplayer shooters which feature pre game lobby systems, but will Battlefield 4 offers no way for players to group up in-game before joining matches, making it difficult for friends to stick together. Dice and EA hoping the Platoons will fix the problem with group of friends play Battlefield 4 together.

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Feb 25 PC game update notes

  • Fix for the so called “sound loop crash” issue that caused the game to freeze
  • Fix for an issue that sometimes prevented players from shooting while in the gunner position of a vehicle
  • Fix for the headshot icon appearing incorrectly at non-headshot deaths, such as suicide or dying of an explosion
  • General stability improvements

Mantle

  • General stability and performance improvements
  • Fix for an issue that caused the sky/fog to be either too bright or too dark when Mantle was used
  • Added on-screen video memory utilization statistics with “Render.DrawScreenInfo”

Feb 25 Xbox One game update notes

  • Fix for an issue where spawning into, or switching to, a gunner seat in an IFV/MBT sometimes could cause the game to crash
  • Fix for a crash that could occur when signing out as an active user
  • Fix for missing sound in Team/Squad Deathmatch
  • Fix for an issue in the Defuse game mode, where a bomb carrier would be permanently spotted
  • Decreased the rate at which the kill card would incorrectly display 0 health, while the enemy was clearly alive
  • Fix for an invisible wall that was incorrectly present in one of the fallen concrete pipes on Zavod 311
  • Fix for an issue where bullet impact sounds weren’t properly matching the actual number of impacts, causing the players to feel that they died too quickly.
  • Fix for an issue where the “Draw” message would not display on-screen once a Conquest round ended with both teams having the same amount of tickets
  • Fix for an issue where long IDs wouldn’t scroll on dog tags
  • Fix for missing grass physics in terrain
  • Fix for an issue that would appear if a 10 users party would join a game with 8 available slots, leaving 2 of the players stuck on the loading screen
  • Fix for an issue where the player camera would be positioned inside of the soldier when parachute spawning
  • Fix for a MAV exploit that let players reach various out-of-map locations

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On a recent trip to Paris with Ubisoft for Watch Dogs, I had the chance to play Watch Dogs for a few hours, from the start, and here are my thoughts.