GTA 5 Christmas Gifts Extended Due to PSN and Xbox Live Outage

Rockstar Games is extending Grand Theft Auto V‘s Christmas update because of the recent PlayStation Network and Xbox Live service issues, the developer has announced.

“Due to issues with PSN & XBL connectivity, we’re extending the GTA Online Festive Surprise Christmas Day inventory gifts for the time being,” Rockstar said via its official Twitter account. The developer didn’t say until when its extending the holiday-themed update, so its safe to assume it’ll be available until further notice.

Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live were down starting on Christmas Eve, due to an apparent denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by the same group that claimed responsibility for grounding Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley’s flight back in August and other DDoS attacks.

Xbox Live services were restored earlier today, but PlayStation Network is still inaccessible to many players, sadly preventing many of those who got PlayStation 4s this Christmas from playing their new consoles.

Check GameSpot’s ongoing coverage of PlayStation Network’s status for the latest updates.

GTA Online’s holiday-themed additions includes snowball fights, ugly Christmas sweaters, cookie-face masks, and lots more.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard’s iconic World of Warcraft has been one of a handful of games that have endured in the massively multiplayer arena. While many highly-touted MMOGs have come and gone, World of Warcraft has lasted despite its tendency to rely on outdated mechanics and antiquated practices. Tens of millions have fell in love with the worlds of Azeroth and Outland, and the newly explorable realm, Draenor, proves equally appealing. Few other games offer that same sense of accomplishment you earn when completing a raid or finally receiving just that right piece of gear, and few have years’ worth of quality content ready to absorb and stimulate you. When World of Warcraft gets a new expansion, it’s a big deal.

Warlords of Draenor picks up right after the events of Mists of Pandaria, and has the game’s latest big-nasty, Garrosh Hellscream, escaping from his confinement with the aid of a very large accomplice. He then travels back in time to Draenor, stops the Orcish clans from becoming corrupted, joins the Burning Legion, unites the clans into the Iron Horde, and realigns the Dark Portal to invade Azeroth. (As you might surmise, the Warlord of the Warsong is a very busy Orc indeed.) You play the role of an Alliance or Horde General, part of the force that drives the Iron Horde back through the gate. Warlords of Draenor opens with the most thrilling preamble since The Burning Crusade and the Legion’s invasion of Azeroth, and in doing so, infuses the game with a sense of urgency that makes it feel like truly dire times.

Warlords of Draenor’s complementary ties to The Burning Crusade are clear. It is, in many ways, an analog to the first expansion, but instead of Lord Kazzak opening the Dark Portal to Outland to release the Burning Legion into Azeroth, it is instead Garrosh unleashing the Iron Horde from a pristine Draenor. Warlords of Draenor’s deftly utilizes its thematic ties to previous events, offering an alternate universe that treats you to story elements that cleverly refer back to the entire series. Expect some mild confusion: This Draenor is an alternate Draenor and not actual Draenor Prime (which is Outland), and while the events that happened in previous expansions expansions actually did occur, they didn’t occur on Draenor–or perhaps more precisely, they haven’t yet occurred on Draenor. The in-game Draenor (as opposed to the Outland Draenor) exists 30 or so years before present-day Azeroth, because the Dark Portal can transcend both space and time. (Don’t worry if you already feel lost; it’s best to take it all in a little bit at a time until it makes sense.) Luckily, you can enjoy Warcraft lore whether you skim it or dive deeply, and if you haven’t explored the original game and its first two expansions in great detail, you might wish to spend time with them, if only to enjoy all of Warlords of Draenor’s delightful cameos and references.

This expansion doesn’t only turn the lore on its head, though: there is plenty under the hood to be excited about. The ability and stat systems have been overhauled to squish the stats down into more palatable numbers and a set of useful abilities for each class. If you had a million health prior to the expansion, you might discover you only have 400,000 upon entering Warlords of Draenor. However, the stat readjustment applies to enemies as well, so you will still be as powerful as you were previously. It is undoubtedly cool to deal thousands of damage per second, but it takes little time to realize that “hundreds” is the new “thousands,” so you needn’t worry about losing that sense of power that comes with the hard work of tailoring a character to your liking. Blizzard has also retired the superfluous stats of hit, expertise, dodge rating, and parry rating, thus streamlining the process of building a character even more. Abilities have been refined for each class to draw from a more useful pool, with fewer cooldowns and less crowd control, making gameplay more tactical than strategic in nature, with less emphasis on complex macros in an attempt to get players to spend more time playing and less time preparing. If you’re a sporadic player, the new changes are welcome, as they minimize the commitment required to learn and absorb such a daunting amount of information. Fortunately, new characters can instantly level to 90, so anyone new to World of Warcraft can play with friends that have subscribed to the game for years, and veteran players have a fresh template upon which to experiment with new abilities and a new character.

Blizzard also has thankfully improved the visuals. All character models (save Blood Elves, Worgen, and Goblins) have received updates, and Blizzard is in the process of creating new models for enemies as well. Although World of Warcraft is still not a graphical powerhouse, the new models and textures make for a great compromise, enhancing the game’s aging visuals while still supporting an enormous range of systems. The graphical improvement is a bit haphazard in its current form though. The effect of the new models populating a world with many of the old is sometimes jarring, but more and models are scheduled to be improved, so this should not be a permanent gripe. Nonetheless, as graphical fidelity in other games increases at such a tremendous rate, it becomes harder and harder for World of Warcraft to counterbalance its aging looks with its charming aesthetic and enthralling adventuring.

Subtle improvements permeate the new expansion. The auction houses for each server have been consolidated into one entity, which makes searching for appropriate equipment less frustrating than before and widens item availability. The user interface, while staying the same as a whole, received a host of tweaks and upgrades to reduce frustration. It is great, for instance, to be able to finally label bags by item type and have treasures auto-sorted into them. Quest items now go in their own separate menu, so you never have to miss out on that 50th pair of leather pants just because something essential was in the way. Reagents can now be used in the bank, which is a huge plus, since it makes having to carry them around for long periods of time unnecessary. Given the importance of gear and items, it’s wonderful to be able to spend less time organizing them and more time earning them.

Warlords of Draenor’s questing is notably more focused than with previous expansions. Although there are the typical collection quests, the quest UI changes get you into the meat of the game quicker than ever. The Dungeon Finder and player-vs.-player windows have been folded into the Group Finder, making it simple to find quests, dungeons, raids, or anything in between, thus eliminating a ton of the most frustrating aspects of WoW in one fell swoop. Blizzard has also expanded its phasing technology, allowing Draenor to appear quite different to each player, depending on their progress and story choices. Depending on your place in the story, you may see characters that have been long dead in other players’ stories, though you still inhabit the same zone. The new garrison system uses phasing extensively, as each player-maintained garrison can only be seen by its owner or invited friends.

With all the changes laid out in Draenor, however, adventuring sticks to a familiar path. You log in, perform your dailies, then get to work for the various NPCs strewn throughout the land. Where things tend to diverge from the day-to-day workings of seasoned players are in raids and dungeons, if not drastically so. Raids have undergone a respectable facelift as far as difficulty goes, while still serving up satisfying encounters to seasoned vets. Dungeons automatically adjust individual difficulty levels depending on the number of players involved, and raids themselves range from casual to challenging. There’s a system in place to ensure lower-level players can’t accidentally sidle up into a higher-level dungeon they simply aren’t ready for, and progression is tiered in a way that forces you to approach dungeons in a way that’s fair for everyone. Loot drops have also been refined, ensuring hard-working raiders are rewarded with items they actually find useful rather than a bunch of trash or less-than-personal goodies for a one-size-fits-all series of frustrations.

Given the importance of gear and items, it’s wonderful to be able to spend less time organizing them and more time earning them.

NPC awareness has never been one of World of Warcraft’s strong suits; you might strut around upon a rainbow-colored tiger, brandishing high-level gear, and quest-givers might still talk to you in annoyance, as if you are a mere underlying in annoyance. In Warlords of Draenor, NPCs acknowledge you as a powerful hero, and your position as a General of the Horde or Alliance is rewarded by the aforementioned garrison system, which provides you with a large plot of land and the means to develop it. The initial garrison is fairly humble, but as you place more buildings and level them up, a collection of huts and tents transforms into a large fortress. Each building serves a purpose, with some serving to boost your profession or access the benefits of other profession, while some are just fun places to visit. Each building has its own unique impact on the world as well, activating quests once they have been built or upgraded. You eventually max out at 10 plots of land in your garrison, and with 21 buildings available, you must choose the proper ones to get the best benefits from your garrison. (Luckily, if you erect a building that doesn’t suit you, you can demolish and replace it.) After the garrison reaches level two, you face keep invasions, although thankfully, invasions are not time-sensitive. It’s easy to become attached to what amounts to your own little town, and you can find yourself spending more time collecting resources and attracting followers for your garrison than you do on the main quest line.

With a garrison come soldiers and staff, and you can also recruit a whole host of followers to command. As you journey across Draenor, you meet NPCs that can be recruited through meeting them, completing quests, earning achievements, or buying them from taverns. They come in three quality levels which determine their effectiveness: uncommon, rare, and epic, with the rarest of them requiring you to meet stringent prerequisites. Once followers make it to the garrison, they can be assigned to missions, or to work in one of the buildings. Each one possesses his or her own profession, items, and level, and you manage them through menus. You send your followers to quest, gather resources, and manufacture goods in their respective buildings, and use the same menu to collect the rewards. It’s an adequate system, but with so much care put into the customization and building of your garrison, it’s disappointing that you cannot accompany your followers on quests, help them work, or lead them into battle against another player in fortress-versus-fortress gameplay. For now, the garrison endgame lacks luster.

Warlords of Draenor has revitalized World of Warcraft with a huge amount of new content and refinement of the basic gameplay. Unlike the debacle of the New Game Enhancement of Star Wars Galaxies, Blizzard has not taken away anything with the stat changes, but instead finally fixed the “stat inflation” that had built with each expansion. For those new to World of Warcraft or those who have been around since the original release, Draenor feels like the beginning of a new era of the game. There are those who have said that World of Warcraft is on its way out, and that it is tired and old. Warlords of Draenor proves otherwise. Blizzard’s winning formula is not going anywhere.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard’s iconic World of Warcraft has been one of a handful of games that have endured in the massively multiplayer arena. While many highly-touted MMOGs have come and gone, World of Warcraft has lasted despite its tendency to rely on outdated mechanics and antiquated practices. Tens of millions have fell in love with the worlds of Azeroth and Outland, and the newly explorable realm, Draenor, proves equally appealing. Few other games offer that same sense of accomplishment you earn when completing a raid or finally receiving just that right piece of gear, and few have years’ worth of quality content ready to absorb and stimulate you. When World of Warcraft gets a new expansion, it’s a big deal.

Warlords of Draenor picks up right after the events of Mists of Pandaria, and has the game’s latest big-nasty, Garrosh Hellscream, escaping from his confinement with the aid of a very large accomplice. He then travels back in time to Draenor, stops the Orcish clans from becoming corrupted, joins the Burning Legion, unites the clans into the Iron Horde, and realigns the Dark Portal to invade Azeroth. (As you might surmise, the Warlord of the Warsong is a very busy Orc indeed.) You play the role of an Alliance or Horde General, part of the force that drives the Iron Horde back through the gate. Warlords of Draenor opens with the most thrilling preamble since The Burning Crusade and the Legion’s invasion of Azeroth, and in doing so, infuses the game with a sense of urgency that makes it feel like truly dire times.

Warlords of Draenor’s complementary ties to The Burning Crusade are clear. It is, in many ways, an analog to the first expansion, but instead of Lord Kazzak opening the Dark Portal to Outland to release the Burning Legion into Azeroth, it is instead Garrosh unleashing the Iron Horde from a pristine Draenor. Warlords of Draenor’s deftly utilizes its thematic ties to previous events, offering an alternate universe that treats you to story elements that cleverly refer back to the entire series. Expect some mild confusion: This Draenor is an alternate Draenor and not actual Draenor Prime (which is Outland), and while the events that happened in previous expansions expansions actually did occur, they didn’t occur on Draenor–or perhaps more precisely, they haven’t yet occurred on Draenor. The in-game Draenor (as opposed to the Outland Draenor) exists 30 or so years before present-day Azeroth, because the Dark Portal can transcend both space and time. (Don’t worry if you already feel lost; it’s best to take it all in a little bit at a time until it makes sense.) Luckily, you can enjoy Warcraft lore whether you skim it or dive deeply, and if you haven’t explored the original game and its first two expansions in great detail, you might wish to spend time with them, if only to enjoy all of Warlords of Draenor’s delightful cameos and references.

This expansion doesn’t only turn the lore on its head, though: there is plenty under the hood to be excited about. The ability and stat systems have been overhauled to squish the stats down into more palatable numbers and a set of useful abilities for each class. If you had a million health prior to the expansion, you might discover you only have 400,000 upon entering Warlords of Draenor. However, the stat readjustment applies to enemies as well, so you will still be as powerful as you were previously. It is undoubtedly cool to deal thousands of damage per second, but it takes little time to realize that “hundreds” is the new “thousands,” so you needn’t worry about losing that sense of power that comes with the hard work of tailoring a character to your liking. Blizzard has also retired the superfluous stats of hit, expertise, dodge rating, and parry rating, thus streamlining the process of building a character even more. Abilities have been refined for each class to draw from a more useful pool, with fewer cooldowns and less crowd control, making gameplay more tactical than strategic in nature, with less emphasis on complex macros in an attempt to get players to spend more time playing and less time preparing. If you’re a sporadic player, the new changes are welcome, as they minimize the commitment required to learn and absorb such a daunting amount of information. Fortunately, new characters can instantly level to 90, so anyone new to World of Warcraft can play with friends that have subscribed to the game for years, and veteran players have a fresh template upon which to experiment with new abilities and a new character.

Blizzard also has thankfully improved the visuals. All character models (save Blood Elves, Worgen, and Goblins) have received updates, and Blizzard is in the process of creating new models for enemies as well. Although World of Warcraft is still not a graphical powerhouse, the new models and textures make for a great compromise, enhancing the game’s aging visuals while still supporting an enormous range of systems. The graphical improvement is a bit haphazard in its current form though. The effect of the new models populating a world with many of the old is sometimes jarring, but more and models are scheduled to be improved, so this should not be a permanent gripe. Nonetheless, as graphical fidelity in other games increases at such a tremendous rate, it becomes harder and harder for World of Warcraft to counterbalance its aging looks with its charming aesthetic and enthralling adventuring.

Subtle improvements permeate the new expansion. The auction houses for each server have been consolidated into one entity, which makes searching for appropriate equipment less frustrating than before and widens item availability. The user interface, while staying the same as a whole, received a host of tweaks and upgrades to reduce frustration. It is great, for instance, to be able to finally label bags by item type and have treasures auto-sorted into them. Quest items now go in their own separate menu, so you never have to miss out on that 50th pair of leather pants just because something essential was in the way. Reagents can now be used in the bank, which is a huge plus, since it makes having to carry them around for long periods of time unnecessary. Given the importance of gear and items, it’s wonderful to be able to spend less time organizing them and more time earning them.

Warlords of Draenor’s questing is notably more focused than with previous expansions. Although there are the typical collection quests, the quest UI changes get you into the meat of the game quicker than ever. The Dungeon Finder and player-vs.-player windows have been folded into the Group Finder, making it simple to find quests, dungeons, raids, or anything in between, thus eliminating a ton of the most frustrating aspects of WoW in one fell swoop. Blizzard has also expanded its phasing technology, allowing Draenor to appear quite different to each player, depending on their progress and story choices. Depending on your place in the story, you may see characters that have been long dead in other players’ stories, though you still inhabit the same zone. The new garrison system uses phasing extensively, as each player-maintained garrison can only be seen by its owner or invited friends.

With all the changes laid out in Draenor, however, adventuring sticks to a familiar path. You log in, perform your dailies, then get to work for the various NPCs strewn throughout the land. Where things tend to diverge from the day-to-day workings of seasoned players are in raids and dungeons, if not drastically so. Raids have undergone a respectable facelift as far as difficulty goes, while still serving up satisfying encounters to seasoned vets. Dungeons automatically adjust individual difficulty levels depending on the number of players involved, and raids themselves range from casual to challenging. There’s a system in place to ensure lower-level players can’t accidentally sidle up into a higher-level dungeon they simply aren’t ready for, and progression is tiered in a way that forces you to approach dungeons in a way that’s fair for everyone. Loot drops have also been refined, ensuring hard-working raiders are rewarded with items they actually find useful rather than a bunch of trash or less-than-personal goodies for a one-size-fits-all series of frustrations.

Given the importance of gear and items, it’s wonderful to be able to spend less time organizing them and more time earning them.

NPC awareness has never been one of World of Warcraft’s strong suits; you might strut around upon a rainbow-colored tiger, brandishing high-level gear, and quest-givers might still talk to you in annoyance, as if you are a mere underlying in annoyance. In Warlords of Draenor, NPCs acknowledge you as a powerful hero, and your position as a General of the Horde or Alliance is rewarded by the aforementioned garrison system, which provides you with a large plot of land and the means to develop it. The initial garrison is fairly humble, but as you place more buildings and level them up, a collection of huts and tents transforms into a large fortress. Each building serves a purpose, with some serving to boost your profession or access the benefits of other profession, while some are just fun places to visit. Each building has its own unique impact on the world as well, activating quests once they have been built or upgraded. You eventually max out at 10 plots of land in your garrison, and with 21 buildings available, you must choose the proper ones to get the best benefits from your garrison. (Luckily, if you erect a building that doesn’t suit you, you can demolish and replace it.) After the garrison reaches level two, you face keep invasions, although thankfully, invasions are not time-sensitive. It’s easy to become attached to what amounts to your own little town, and you can find yourself spending more time collecting resources and attracting followers for your garrison than you do on the main quest line.

With a garrison come soldiers and staff, and you can also recruit a whole host of followers to command. As you journey across Draenor, you meet NPCs that can be recruited through meeting them, completing quests, earning achievements, or buying them from taverns. They come in three quality levels which determine their effectiveness: uncommon, rare, and epic, with the rarest of them requiring you to meet stringent prerequisites. Once followers make it to the garrison, they can be assigned to missions, or to work in one of the buildings. Each one possesses his or her own profession, items, and level, and you manage them through menus. You send your followers to quest, gather resources, and manufacture goods in their respective buildings, and use the same menu to collect the rewards. It’s an adequate system, but with so much care put into the customization and building of your garrison, it’s disappointing that you cannot accompany your followers on quests, help them work, or lead them into battle against another player in fortress-versus-fortress gameplay. For now, the garrison endgame lacks luster.

Warlords of Draenor has revitalized World of Warcraft with a huge amount of new content and refinement of the basic gameplay. Unlike the debacle of the New Game Enhancement of Star Wars Galaxies, Blizzard has not taken away anything with the stat changes, but instead finally fixed the “stat inflation” that had built with each expansion. For those new to World of Warcraft or those who have been around since the original release, Draenor feels like the beginning of a new era of the game. There are those who have said that World of Warcraft is on its way out, and that it is tired and old. Warlords of Draenor proves otherwise. Blizzard’s winning formula is not going anywhere.

Sunset Overdrive and the Mystery of the Mooil Rig! Review

The better the game, the easier expansion packs can rely on a more-of-the-same approach (see Mass Effect 2 and Diablo III). Mystery of the Mooil Rig! is wholly effective in its series of nine missions, with objectives recognizable to those who have beaten Sunset Overdrive. Normally, I dislike being an errand boy in open world games, yet I’m happy to engage in fetch quests in Mooil Rig, because each quest is succinctly designed and retains the same kind of comedic storytelling found in the main game.

It’s hard to turn down assignments from one of the world’s more resilient and endearing quadriplegics. If you’ve played several hours of Sunset Overdrive, you’ll know I’m talking about Brylcreem. The absence of arms and legs didn’t stop him previously, and he remains the eternal optimist in the Mystery of the Mooil Rig. Now armed with a fortified exosuit, Brylcreem plays Colossus to the hero’s Wolverine, launching you toward key objectives, including a boss’ mouth. These scenes add thrilling forward movement; the more you hurtle at breakneck speeds, the more you want to keep going.

Don’t mind the crowds. One explosive round should clear the area right up.

Add-ons to open world games either expand the maps with a new landmass (e.g., Burnout Paradise’s Big Surf Island, Forza Horizon 2’s Storm Island) or conjure up new experiences within the current city (e.g., Watch Dogs: Bad Blood). The Mystery of the Mooil Rig opts for the former, with a sprawling oil rig primed for more perpetual grinding. It’s an overly intricate off-shore base littered with life rafts, barges and other tiny landing points to help you avoid the water. With the exception of one occasionally lethal undersea creature, spending time in the ocean isn’t a hazard at all. Like an energy drink-addicted version of Jesus, this expansion capitalizes on the main game’s speedy methods of unaided water traversal. Whether you’re on or near the rig, the biggest rushes come from stringing together movement combos as you make your way to your next objective. The addition of two new water moves–a deep dive and an eye-catching high-flying uppercut–mean you can maintain movement combos for hundreds of yards in watery areas within Sunset City, not just the Mooil Rig. The upper cut–oddly named ‘Water Slam Bounce’–looks like a water-based Shoryuken, although I was unsuccessful in using it to attack flying foes. It’s more practical as a method for reaching elevated parts of the rig.

If I were to describe Sunset Overdrive’s look and feel to someone who knows nothing about Insomniac Games’ latest hit, it would be ‘bubblegum punk’. The closest aesthetic relation I can come up with is Crazy Taxi, but even that Sega classic didn’t saturate its visuals with this much fuchsia and neon green. Couple that with Sunset Overdrive’s grind-intensive gameplay. If it’s a railing or some semblance of a railing, you can grind on it. If it has an edge, you can grind on it. Somewhat like the adrenaline-fueled action film Crank, suspending forward movement often results in death. These situations are diciest when you have to protect stationary objects from invaders–it forces you to get creative with nearby grind points. Provided you mix up melee and ranged attacks, you’d be surprised how long you can survive going back and forth on a 50-yard railing.

No one deserves an ostentatious exosuit more than the noble Brylcreem.

Those who love Sunset Overdrive already know how playing well creates a feedback loop within seemingly chaotic combat. Having a sliver of health is seldom a cause for concern, because you know that firing another explosive teddy bear is likely to yield a health pack, along with a high body count. The missions in the Mystery of the Mooil Rig are seldom short of such moments, so surviving them is all the more gratifying.

Insomniac’s writers for Sunset Overdrive exude the chops of a revered, decades-old comedian, one who never laughs at his own jokes and knows to keep quips short and sweet. That includes avoiding the sin of over-explaining a punchline or the myriad pop culture references throughout the main game and this expansion. Even with a boss sporting multiple tentacles, the script wisely avoids hamfisted nods to Japanese erotica. Like the multi-generational appeal of Looney Tunes animated shorts, the Mystery of the Mooil Rig namedrops cultural allusions that many adolescents today won’t pick up on, like a certain Alfred Hitchcock film with cross-dressing. One of the most memorable missions is a fetch quest for the versatile ‘director’ Alan Smithee, whose name has been attached to many edited-for-TV movies dating back to the 1960s, a Metal Gear Solid trailer, and numerous voices in games like Eternal Sonata and Street Fighter X Tekken.

Shoryuken!

For all the risks Sunset Overdrive takes with its vibrant art direction and intuitive level design, the Mystery of the Mooil Rig is a fundamentally safe spin-off. It’s impressively consistent with the main game, and enough that relearning the controls takes no time, even if you haven’t touched Sunset Overdrive since launch week. This user-friendliness leads to tight, concise story mission playthroughs that will be familiar to fans of the main game. It’s not to say these objectives are easy. They’re just short, a result of Insomniac’s talent for creating scenarios trimmed of fat and devoid of filler.

Loadout Review

Loadout feels good on the PlayStation 4. It’s not just how well the game has adapted Sony’s controller, but also that small changes have translated into some big differences. This free-to-play third-person shooter is all about collecting gun parts and crafting them into vicious weapons that lash out with fire, lightning, or spiked metal spheres–just as it was on the PC. But on the PlayStation 4, Loadout tries new things, completely revamping its method of distributing weapon parts that makes collecting them almost as exciting as constructing them into a vast array of deadly guns. Despite a lackluster campaign and a locked-out ranked mode, Loadout is a frantic and entertaining shooter on the PlayStation 4 and will keep you happy on your quest for loot, with a smile on your face and a numb trigger finger.

The highly craftable guns are the stars of the show, and the customizable loadouts set the stage. Abandoning traditional classes, Loadout instead offers a toybox that slowly fills with various gun parts that you can play with using its robust weaponcrafting menu. For instance, creating a powerful shotgun is as easy as snapping a scatter barrel and a shell-loading magazine onto a gun chassis. Swap that scatter barrel out for a Gatling barrel and strap on a high-capacity magazine to create a Gatling gun, and so on. Different ammo types kick things up a notch or two, and can make your weapon belch fire or send out a slap of electricity that sends chain lightning through a group of hapless foes. Not all ammo types are deadly: loading your gun with healing rounds transforms your weapon from a death dealer to a wound healer, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the team medic. Or, if you’re feeling sneaky, you can use a gun with a silencer, and, using the disguise equipment, go undercover to infiltrate the opposing team and silently take them by surprise. And you might as well slap on a suit, mask, and tie from the outfitter store while you’re at it, and become the spy Team Fortress 2 always knew you could be.

Earning parts in Loadout on PlayStation 4 is a much different experience than in the PC version of the game. On a PC, you unlock parts from daily prizes or in a tech tree by earning experience and spending blutes, Loadout’s in-game currency awarded at the end of matches. On the PlayStation 4 edition, weapon parts, gear, and safes are often awarded at the end of finished multiplayer matches or campaign missions. Safes, which contain items of varying rarity, are opened with dynamite, which is bought with spacebux, Loadout’s other currency that must be purchased with actual cash and not blutes, somewhat like the currency in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s weapon cases and keys. Parts are assigned levels, as well as a degree of rarity that moves from common to rare items. Rarer parts can grant optional attribute boosts, such as decreased reload times or additional health.

Comparing the two systems of delivering items, from the tech tree of the PC version to earning parts post-match on the PlayStation 4, I prefer the latter. Parts and gear come at a steady flow in Loadout on PlayStation 4, and I can’t deny the giddy feeling of anticipation that grows just before opening each loot chest or safe filled with new toys to play with. You gain a lot of weapon parts as you progress, but not everything is worth keeping. The included fusion mechanic allows you to take a lower-tier item and merge it with other disposable parts to increase its potency. It’s a great way to burn off extra junk you don’t need, while making your weapons even stronger, all the while not spending any actual cash on upgrades yourself. And the upgrade is often quickly apparent, too; promoting that level three pyro rocket to level five or higher can mean the difference between leaving your foes medium rare or well done.

Baldies do it better.

Crafting and naming your own custom weapon is a joy I’ve rarely experienced in other online shooters. A machine gun with the offensive output of mosquito bites later roars as it rips flesh from bone. A feeble rocket launcher that evokes more laughs than screams evolves over time to become a frightening, two-hit kill monster that causes enemies to burst into flame–it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.

The weak campaign mode, however, is a wet blanket that stifles some of that fire. There is no “story” to speak of, only five chapters with missions that consist of you fighting waves of AI-controlled alien baddies on the available multiplayer maps and gametypes. For at least a few missions, the campaign is passable, if not somewhat disappointing. But after playing through chapter after chapter of similar battles, the venture becomes tedious and dull. The only real incentive to play each campaign is tied into Loadout’s new method of distributing loot. Campaign mode offers loot packs and safes that drop randomly as you play through a match, and that unfortunately means having to wade through the muck for some of those precious parts and equipment–some of which, like deployable health packs and jump boots, is awarded at the end of certain missions. At least collecting the extra loot in campaign is still enjoyable; it’s just the parts in between that are the issue.

The highly craftable guns are the stars of the show, and the customizable loadouts set the stage.

One additional positive about the campaign, however, is that it allows you to earn some additional spacebux without having to fork over any of your hard-earned cash. Currently, Loadout on PlayStation 4 is the only version to have the campaign included with the package. The PC version is set to have the currently separate campaign (now in beta) merged with the base game next year.

Thankfully, the core multiplayer experience is just as exhilarating and violent as ever, and it is here you spend most of your time. The controls adapt well to DualShock 4, though aiming does feel a little squirrelly when zoomed in–a problem that can be alleviated by lowering aim sensitivity. Other than that, Loadout plays exceptionally well on the controller; skirmishes haven’t lost an ounce of their raw intensity in the transfer from the keyboard and mouse. Across six varied maps that include deep crevasses, hidden pathways, and high ledges, you sprint, dive, and leap high into the air while raining fire on enemies above and below.

Loadout’s action is ferocious, and each clash erupts in a chaotic frenzy of flying rockets, popping grenades, and neon lasers; the vibrant cartoon visuals are a colorful foil to the absurd violence onscreen. During battles, flesh is seared from bone, heads are blown apart to leave bouncing eyeballs and a brain, and somewhere in the fracas is a person thrusting their gun between their hips as a pair of disembodied legs run across the war-tattered field before collapsing. Loadout is often as hilarious as it is grotesque, leaving you vacillating between laughing at the slapstick insanity and cringing at the immense gore. And you know what? It’s quite a lot of fun–though much of it is like a riding a rollercoaster through a whirlwind of bullets and body parts.

Bots can be a great part of any multiplayer shooter, but their rarity in the genre makes them a pleasant delight in Loadout.

Multiplayer consists of four-on-four matches among five game types: blitz, death snatch, extraction, domination, and jackhammer. Blitz and domination are won by taking control points on a map, the latter of which has you fighting to control three points at once. Death snatch is Loadout’s take on classic death match, and plays similar to Call of Duty’s Kill Confirmed mode. In death snatch, dead opponents drop a vial of glowing blutes that must be snagged in order for the death to count as a kill. Extraction tasks each team with protecting a teammate who collects blutonium deposits and places them into marked grinders to score points. Finally, jackhammer is a mode similar to capture the flag, except the flag is a massive hammer that smashes enemies into itty bitty meaty chunks. You can kill up to five opponents, which adds extra points to your score when the hammer is claimed at your base.

There are two downsides to multiplayer; the most notable is the lack of the ranked mode, Annihilation, which is currently locked out with “Coming Soon!” written over it. Instead, you are left with the unranked arena, which performs rather poorly in terms of matching you with players of similar skill. You have an overall level that increases as you gain experience points earned after completing matches. However, that rank is effectively slashed in the arena, and you often find yourself paired with unskilled allies or against a team of seasoned players. I realize this is the caveat of any unranked multiplayer, but it’s incredibly frustrating to play a session consisting of about ten losses in a row due to unbalanced matchmaking. The other issue with multiplayer is that with only six maps, things soon slide into repetition. Having five game types does help deter some boredom, but after a dozen hours I was more than ready for a change in scenery. And just when will there be more than three customizable characters to choose from?

How dare I be denied?!

Loadout on PlayStation 4 is not without its issues, but overall it remains an energetic, madcap shooter with a violent sense of humor that delights as often as it disgusts. There are still tweaks to be made–the underwhelming campaign is the first that comes to mind–and, once released, the ranked mode will also greatly increase its value, which is a lot, considering that the game is already free of charge. Regardless, there is a lot of entertainment to be found in Loadout. The welcome new changes to earning gun parts will keep you killing, collecting, and customizing for many blood-soaked hours to come as the game continues to evolve, just like the many weapons that call it home.

Watch 30 Years of Naughty Dog Documentary

Sony has finally posted “A Tribute to Naughty Dog: 30th Anniversary Recap Video,” a short documentary about the Crash Bandicoot and The Last of Us developer that made its debut at the PlayStation Experience.

Naughty Dog was founded in 1984 by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin when they met as teenagers and started developing games. The video follows their journey from hobbyists, to signing a deal with Electronic Arts, to the release of huge hits like the Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted series.

If you have 50 minutes and have even a passing interest Naughty Dog’s games, it’s definitely worth watching.

Naughty Dog also revealed 15 minutes of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End gameplay at the PlayStation Experience. As for future projects, the developer hasn’t made an official announcement, but all signs point to The Last of Us 2. The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann said in a Reddit AMA last February that there was a “50/50” possibility of a sequel, and a Linkedin resume of former Naughty Dog lead character artist Michael Knowland shows that he worked on prototype designs for use in The Last of Us 2 earlier this year.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Watch 30 Years of Naughty Dog Documentary

Sony has finally posted “A Tribute to Naughty Dog: 30th Anniversary Recap Video,” a short documentary about the Crash Bandicoot and The Last of Us developer that made its debut at the PlayStation Experience.

Naughty Dog was founded in 1984 by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin when they met as teenagers and started developing games. The video follows their journey from hobbyists, to signing a deal with Electronic Arts, to the release of huge hits like the Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted series.

If you have 50 minutes and have even a passing interest Naughty Dog’s games, it’s definitely worth watching.

Naughty Dog also revealed 15 minutes of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End gameplay at the PlayStation Experience. As for future projects, the developer hasn’t made an official announcement, but all signs point to The Last of Us 2. The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann said in a Reddit AMA last February that there was a “50/50” possibility of a sequel, and a Linkedin resume of former Naughty Dog lead character artist Michael Knowland shows that he worked on prototype designs for use in The Last of Us 2 earlier this year.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Watch 30 Years of Naughty Dog Documentary

Sony has finally posted “A Tribute to Naughty Dog: 30th Anniversary Recap Video,” a short documentary about the Crash Bandicoot and The Last of Us developer that made its debut at the PlayStation Experience.

Naughty Dog was founded in 1984 by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin when they met as teenagers and started developing games. The video follows their journey from hobbyists, to signing a deal with Electronic Arts, to the release of huge hits like the Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted series.

If you have 50 minutes and have even a passing interest Naughty Dog’s games, it’s definitely worth watching.

Naughty Dog also revealed 15 minutes of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End gameplay at the PlayStation Experience. As for future projects, the developer hasn’t made an official announcement, but all signs point to The Last of Us 2. The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann said in a Reddit AMA last February that there was a “50/50” possibility of a sequel, and a Linkedin resume of former Naughty Dog lead character artist Michael Knowland shows that he worked on prototype designs for use in The Last of Us 2 earlier this year.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Watch Doom and Psychonauts Devs Play and Talk About Their Games in New Series

Developer Double Fine and 2 Player Productions have launched Devs Play, a new video series where game developers play and provide running commentary on a variety of games.

The debut, hour-long episode features Double Fine’s Greg Rice and Westwood Studios co-founder Louis Castle. Westwood Studios is best known for its work on the real-time strategy series Command & Conquer, but in this episode Rice and Castle play and talk about two games based on Disney animated movies: The Lion King, which Westwood developed in 1994, and Aladdin, which Castle worked on with Virgin Games.

One future episode worth keeping an eye out for features Double Fine’s JP LeBreton and id Software co-founder as the two play through the first episode of Doom, “Knee Deep in the Dead,” in its entirety. “John Romero’s run through each level turns up fresh and encyclopedic insight into how this genre-defining title was designed and set the stage for first-person action games for years to come,” Double Fine said.

Other announced episodes:

  • Psychonauts – Featuring the original development team with guest Stephen Kiazyk
  • Earthbound (The Mother Trilogy) – Featuring Costume Quest 2 programmer Ben Burbank
  • Gauntlet DS (which was never released) – Featuring Massive Chalice producer Anthony Vaughn and artist Geoff Soulis with guest Backbone Entertainment head Mike Mika
  • The Legend of Zelda – Featuring Hack N Slash creator Brandon Dillon and producer Matt Hansen

You can watch the first episode above, and new episodes will release weekly through January 27, 2015.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Watch Doom and Psychonauts Devs Play and Talk About Their Games in New Series

Developer Double Fine and 2 Player Productions have launched Devs Play, a new video series where game developers play and provide running commentary on a variety of games.

The debut, hour-long episode features Double Fine’s Greg Rice and Westwood Studios co-founder Louis Castle. Westwood Studios is best known for its work on the real-time strategy series Command & Conquer, but in this episode Rice and Castle play and talk about two games based on Disney animated movies: The Lion King, which Westwood developed in 1994, and Aladdin, which Castle worked on with Virgin Games.

One future episode worth keeping an eye out for features Double Fine’s JP LeBreton and id Software co-founder as the two play through the first episode of Doom, “Knee Deep in the Dead,” in its entirety. “John Romero’s run through each level turns up fresh and encyclopedic insight into how this genre-defining title was designed and set the stage for first-person action games for years to come,” Double Fine said.

Other announced episodes:

  • Psychonauts – Featuring the original development team with guest Stephen Kiazyk
  • Earthbound (The Mother Trilogy) – Featuring Costume Quest 2 programmer Ben Burbank
  • Gauntlet DS (which was never released) – Featuring Massive Chalice producer Anthony Vaughn and artist Geoff Soulis with guest Backbone Entertainment head Mike Mika
  • The Legend of Zelda – Featuring Hack N Slash creator Brandon Dillon and producer Matt Hansen

You can watch the first episode above, and new episodes will release weekly through January 27, 2015.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg.

For all of GameSpot’s news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com