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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lands

Ubisoft has announced that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is now available on the PlayStation4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices and Windows PC.

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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is set in Ancient Greece during the Golden Age of Athens amidst one of the deadliest conflicts in history, the Peloponnesian War. Playing as either Alexios or Kassandra, an outcast Spartan mercenary, players will embark on an epic journey into a living, systemic open world, where they will uncover the truth about their mysterious pasts and become legendary Greek heroes.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the next step in the transformation of the Assassin’s Creed franchise into an open world RPG where players’ choices and decisions allow them to live their own unique experience.. An all-new interactive dialogue system offers more freedom for players to choose from an array of role-play options that impact each adventure differently, while unfolding an intense story full of unique characters and meaningful objectives. Players will loot, level up and upgrade their weapons, gear and abilities as they charge into massive battles between Sparta and Athens. The return of open world naval combat allows players to explore the open seas, discover uncharted locations, customise their battle ships and recruit their own crew members with unique perks. With an entire country to explore, from Greece’s volcanic mountain ranges to its idyllic white sandy beaches, players will encounter legendary figures, famed statues, and mythological creatures as they experience an ancient world that constantly evolves and reacts to their every decision.

The launch of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is just the beginning for players who journey into the glorious world of Ancient Greece and wish to continue progressing with new content. The Assassin’s Creed Odyssey live roadmap plan is the biggest and most ambitious in the franchise, deepening storytelling through its episodic structure. Season Pass owners will access two major storylines with three episodes each while all players will receive free story missions called The Lost Tales of Greece. Players can dive into new episodes as they premiere, or experience the epic adventures in their entirety once all episodes are available. The Season Pass also includes Assassin’s Creed III Remastered and Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered.

As a special bonus, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey players with Twitch Prime will receive the Aegean Pirate Pack for free until 5th December. The pack includes a rare armour set, ship skin, pirate crew theme, and a skin for your horse, Phobos.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Gaming rages on in SA

The rAge gaming expo this past weekend pointed the way to a booming computer games industry in South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the first of a two-part series. (All pics by Arthur Goldstuck)

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Predator. Omen. Alienware. They all sounds dangerous. The names suggest threat and even fear. And so they should. 

They are the high-end gaming brands of computer manufacturers Acer, HP and Dell, respectively. Acer adds an explosive edge with its Nitro range.

The names tell you that the user is not going into computer-based combat casually. This gamer wants to win, and will pay the price of premium hardware to do so.

This impulse lies at the heart of the exploding computer games industry globally. Valued at $157-billion, the sector dwarfs the music industry. In South Africa, according to Make Games South Africa chairperson Nick Hall, it is a R225-million business, growing at an average of 75% a year since 2013.

“The game development sector in South Africa has really gone from strength to strength, across all key segments in the sector,” he says. “Our indies are regularly releasing titles to global success, our services sector has made massive inroads into doing work for some of the largest  publishers in the world and our serious games sector is producing world leading products.”

Many of these independent games creators were manning stands at the rAge expo at the Dome north of Johannesburg this past weekend. Celestial Games, which produced South Africa’s first commercial computer game, Toxic Bunny, in 1996,  unveiled its latest innovation: a mobile gaming platform called Table Realms, which turns any handset into a gaming console or screen. 

The buzz around its stand was palpable, and a far cry from previous years when Celestial and other games developers battled for attention. At rAge, names like Curve, Codex Knights, Loot Defence, Nektaar, Akromah’s Tale, and Echoplex all had clusters of prospective players around their booths.

The Xbox stand was a major attraction at rAge.

Continue reading to find out how locally developed games target international markets.

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