Monthly Archives: February 2019

Ascendant Studios Launches to Create Uncompromising Game Worlds

Press Release:

Ascendant Studios News
Today, independent Bay Area game developer, Ascendant Studios, announced its formation and has secured initial funding to create pioneering, original games and content. Founded by Bret Robbins, former Creative Director of Call of Duty, the studio is comprised of industry veterans from prominent developers, with a shared conviction to create expansive, triple-A games of the highest quality.

A 20+ year veteran of game development, Robbins’ career has spanned multiple creative leadership roles for high profile hit games. Robbins most recently served as Senior Creative Director for the globally revered Call of Duty franchise. His resume includes the BAFTA ‘Best Action Game’ nominated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, VES (Visual Effects Society) Award winner, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and NAVGTR Award-winning Call of Duty: WW2, which surpassed $1 billion in global sales.

Prior to his time at Activision, Robbins served a seven-year tenure at EA, holding senior creative roles on blockbuster hits including The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which was honored with the International Press Academy Satellite Award for Best Art Direction, and IGN’s ‘Best Action Game’ in their ‘Best of E3’ awards. Robbins earned a BAFTA nomination during this time, as the Creative Director for the acclaimed survival horror title, Dead Space, which went on to be honored as ‘Action Game of the Year’ at the 12th annual DICE Awards. As Founder and CEO of Ascendant Studios, Robbins combines the principles of triple-A game design with the possibilities of an independent studio, to extend the entertainment, action, and emotional impact of innovative game development.

“This is a dream I’ve had for years, and I’m so excited to finally have the opportunity to start a brand new studio,” stated Founder and CEO of Ascendant Studios, Bret Robbins. “Our focus is on making high quality, original games. We are in a rare position where we have the freedom to do things the right way without outside pressure and make something that is truly new and exciting. The team we are assembling is fantastic and already feels like a family.”

Joining Robbins in this venture, the Ascendant Studios founding team consists of top creative talent, that has contributed to some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful game franchises of all times, including Call of Duty, The Walking Dead, and Dead Space. Each member of the leadership team has more than a decade of industry experience, representing cinematic, technical, design, art, and storytelling disciplines.

Ascendant Studios is backed by noted entrepreneur and philanthropist, Brian Sheth. Sheth is the Co-Founder and President of Vista Equity Partners, the top U.S. private equity software investor of the past decade. Vista’s portfolio, with over 60,000 employees and more than $14 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world. A first generation Indian American, and Forbes ‘40 Under 40’ inductee, Sheth is also an avid investor for innovative entertainment companies and is among the world’s top funders of conservation impact philanthropy.

“I’m thrilled to have our initial investment backed by Brian, who has been so supportive of the team and has a history of supporting founders and CEOs with vision,” said Robbins. “He brings a huge amount of experience, best practices, and leadership to us. He has given us the creative freedom to make games that we think players will love. He clearly wants to build and empower a winning team and deliver innovative content to a global audience.”

Located in San Rafael, CA, the Ascendant Studios team is currently at work on a wholly original, triple-A game, that harnesses the creative heft, narrative skills, and action/shooter expertise of its seasoned team. The company is also actively hiring across art, engineering, and animation functions.

Steel Division 2 to Launch with Extensive Historic Battles

Steel Division 2 news

Eugen Systems announced today that six historic battles, playable as solo/co-op will come to Steel Division 2 in 2019. These extensive battles will span a variety of campaigns across the frontlines of World War II, bringing the historic battles to life. These missions will be playable solo, co-op against AI enemies, and multiplayer, including 2v1 and 3v3 scenarios. Players who pre-order any edition of Steel Division 2 are also guaranteed access to the Steel Division 2 beta, which will show off an early build ahead of launch. Anyone who pre-orders the Commander Deluxe, General Deluxe, or the Total Conflict Editions will also gain a 48-hour head start ahead of the worldwide launch.

The six extra Historical Battles for Steel Division 2 also follows recently announced news that Steam users who already own Steel Division: Normandy 44 can also expect eight exclusive divisions with over 350 extra units from the original title when Steel Division 2launches later this year, including the Sherman Jumbo tank from the United States of America, the Churchill IV heavy infantry tank from the United Kingdom, the lend-lease Spitfire and Sherman M4A2 for France and Canada, and many more.

Warhammer Vermintide 2 – Winds of Magic Announced

Vermintide 2 Winds of Magic

Fatshark Games announced a new expansion for Warhammer: Vermintide 2, called Winds of Magic. The Beastmen arrive in Vermintide 2 and are true children of Chaos. They are hybrids of animals and primitive humans and could be the toughest enemies yet.  A new city also comes in the form of Helmgart, and a new mechanic also arrives.

There will be eight winds, each confronting the players in new and different ways. This will offer endless difficulty to even the toughest heroes. Winds of Magic will also bring leaderboards, so there will no longer be a question of who the greatest hero is.

This is the next chapter in the Vermintide 2 saga. New enemies bring new challenges for the players, and we know that our amazing community is ready to fend them off.” says Martin Wahlund, CEO Fatshark.

EVO 2019 Lineup Announcement and Discussion

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

EVO 2019 - 1

Is it any shock that DBFZ is in?

At the end of the day, I’m just glad we have fighting games to enjoy, play and grow together with. Even if I don’t care for a game personally, I’m glad the community that loves it, has it. The FGC needs more positivity.

It’s that time of the year again – when Fighting Game fans either cheer madly or boo vociferously! Mr. Wizard and MarkMan, in a recent livestream, announced the lineup for EVO 2019, which takes place on August 2nd-4th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Evolution Championship Series is the biggest fighting game tournament series held in North America, and the greatest from around the world make their way to Mandalay Bay to show their stuff on the global stage. This year, nine games will hold a spot on the main stage and share the spotlight. Some of these are genuinely surprising, most are not. Mr. Wizard and MarkMan also stated that there will be a continued greater effort to show off the community games/tournaments – the games that have side tournaments and aren’t on the main stage. On a personal note, I’m glad Dragon Ball FighterZ has taken off the way it has. I love seeing anime fighters in the spotlight. But can we have fewer Gokus and Vegetas? Please? There are other characters in the Dragon Ball universe, I promise.

EVO 2019 - 2


Will we see Hokuto no Ken on the EVO streams this year? I’m doubting it, but boy that would be exciting! The games on the main stage are either still competitively relevant, still reasonably new, or are coming out within months of the actual event. Perhaps “competitively relevant” is not fair, because as long as a game has a following and is being played, it’s competitively relevant. How does “still receiving regular updates” strike you? One of the big things people are shouting about is Smash Bros. Melee not being on the main stage. Now that Smash Bros. Ultimate is here, I just can’t see Melee being on the main stage anymore. Smash Bros. Melee has one of the most ardent, die-hard groups of fans of any fighting game I’ve ever seen, so it’s not a game that’s going to suffer from a lack of attention. There will surely be side tournaments and events for Melee. On a personal level, I’m not crazy about it, but I get the appeal. I’m also pretty disappointed that Dead or Alive 6 won’t be on the main stage. Hopefully, it will have some representation. Is it too Mature (but Mortal Kombat got in)? Is it blowback from the EVO Japan incident? Or did they just not have enough support? Perhaps we’ll find out soon.  So what games are taking a spot on the main stage?

EVO 2019 Lineup:

  • Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ
  • Tekken 7
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
  • Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • SoulCalibur VI
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Samurai Shodown
EVO 2019 - 3

While I’m not big on MK, I’m excited to see what the new game offers.

The biggest shock here to me is actually not Samurai Showdown (but it’s really damn close). It’s actually UNIST (Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st]). We reviewed one of the Under Night releases some time ago, and I’ve heard little to no buzz about it except new releases of the game ([st] being the most recent. This is surprising to me, because while Under Night is amazing, and I love French Bread and the Melty Blood games, I just didn’t expect it. But you know why UNIST is on the main stage? In my estimation, they have a fanbase that is welcoming, they put together events, they share the game and get other people hyped about it. It has a fairly recent release in [st], and it’s nice to see games like this see some limelight. I’ve never been that excited for Mortal Kombat though. The games are well put-together, but on a personal level, they haven’t caught my eye as a player since Ultimate MK3. I’m a lifelong Samurai Showdown fan though, and the teaser looks incredible. Very pumped for that.

Samurai Showdown and Mortal Kombat 11 are not even out yet, so I think they will potentially see the greatest and most interesting competition. That is unless some of the pro players wind up somehow getting early access, which I hope does not happen. I’d like to see everyone go in with the same amount of potential prep time, to see who truly is the best. I bet Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has the most participants though. My money is on that, or Dragon Ball FighterZ.  One of the major reasons I’d wager that a game is on the main stage is that it will have major announcement(s) to drop on us, and that’s where the fun speculation begins. This is also the first year I’m even remotely interested in Smash Bros. at all, so I’m going to have a keen eye on the Ultimate matches, as much as I can. One of my goals as a gaming journalist is to attend EVO and cover the event, but I don’t know that it’s in the cards this year. I’d like to round this out with some unlikely announcements that I’m still hoping for:

  • SFV Arcade Edition: Dan, or Evil Dan/Shin Dan/Some Flavor of Dan Hibiki
  • Tekken 7: Kiryu Kazuma/Goro Majima. Either/or would be terrific DLC additions to the game.
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ: Mark “Hercule” Satan. Is there any doubt I’d want the savior of the universe?
  • A New Melty Blood:  Kind of speaks for itself. Let’s see more Melty Blood!

Side Tournaments That Should Get Stream Time:

  • Street Fighter II: Super Turbo
  • Hokuto no Ken
  • Kamen Rider (Any)
  • Street Fighter Alpha 3
  • Capcom vs. SNK 2
  • Skullgirls

What about you? What are you excited for at EVO this year?