Digital Blend: Disney Infinity takes to the sky(landers) and The Cave gets a release date

disney infinity the challenges of straddling line between physical and virtual play

Happy new year! Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values out there for under $20.

Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.

Making headlines…

* Starting next week, on January 22, 2013, CCP Games will swing the doors wide on the free-to-play PlayStation 3 FPS, Dust 514, with the launch of its open beta. The game’s EVE Online universe setting only recently hooked into CCP’s actual sci-fi MMO, which plays out on a single “shard” unlike other multi-server MMOs. This creates a unique cross-game dynamic, with players on the FPS side taking contracts from and being aided by players on the MMO side. The launch of the open beta is great news for fans who have been waiting to take the F2P action for a spin.

disney infinity preview the magic kingdom declares war on skylanders and minecraft* Disney made a lot of noise earlier this week with the announcement of Disney Infinity, an upcoming game that sounds like it’s equal parts SkylandersLittleBigPlanet, and Minecraft. There’s quite a lot to it, so your best bet is to check out Anthony’s preview. While you’re at it, take a peek at our chat with Avalanche Studios CEO John Blackburn. Avalanche is handling development of Infinity and Blackburn offers up a lot of useful information about how the game works and what some of the future plans involve.

* The National Rifle Association made the questionable move earlier this week of releasing the NRA: Practice Range reference app, an info resource for the organization that also includes a shooting range mode that allows users to fire a variety of guns — with others available as microtransactions — at virtual paper targets. The release turned heads because of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre’s recent skewering of violent entertainment forms as one of the elements that led to Adam Lanza’s horrendous actions in Sandy Hook, Conn. Yes, there’s a world of difference between a game about shooting paper targets and a game about shooting people. Speaking as an ardent supporter of our Second Amendment rights, I still think it’s in poor taste that this shooting range wasn’t removed from the NRA app.

exploring the depths of cave double fines adventure game reinventionThe Cave arrives next week! That’s right, Double Fine fans: Ron Gilbert’s Sega-published, side-scrolling adventure game is coming to a video game platform near you on January 22, 2013. PlayStation Network and Wii U eShop come first, followed on January 23 by an Xbox Live Arcade release. Not caught up on what’s happening with The Cave? Check out our 2012 interview with Gilbert!

* The Behemoth is back. Castle Crashers was first released for Xbox 360 back in 2008, and while the game has since been ported to a number of other platforms, we’ve seen little from the developer beyond a couple of iOS offerings. That all changes next month. Starting at some undetermined point in February 2013, a select group of players will be able take The Behemoth’s upcoming Battleblock Theater out for a spin, compliments of a beta test. You can sign up now, and you probably should since only 10,000 candidates will be selected. Check out Anthony’s report for a rundown of participation requirements and a link to the sign-up page.

Top buys for the week…

borderlands 2 sir hammerlocks big game hunt dlc heads to new lands with threats  preview 1Borderlands 2 – Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt DLC :: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / PC :: $9.99 / 800 MS Points

very light week for Digital Blend-y releases is highlighted by the Xbox 360 launch of Gearbox Software’s latest Borderlands 2 DLC pack, Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt. Travel to the Pandoran continent of Aegrus where you’ll hunt all manner of big game, take on a devoted Handsome Jack fan, and have your ass handed to you by a pair of new raid bosses. It’s glorious, and an easy choice for pick of the week. Just check out our review.

digital blend disney infinity takes to the skylanders and cave gets a release date temple run 2Temple Run 2 :: iOS :: FREE

Second verse, same as the first. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the fact that Temple Run 2 largely amounts to “more Temple Run,” though it’s hard not to be a little disappointed at the lack of evolution here. There are new characters and new character-specific abilities, along with some new environments, but one has to wonder why all of this content justified the sequel treatment. Oh, what’s that? Temple Run 2 is free-to-play and uses a microtransaction-based pricing model that allows players to spend money rather than time on content unlocks? There you go. Sequel justified.

Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
Smart Home

Amazon has a huge team dedicated to enhancing Alexa and Echo

An Amazon executive on Tuesday, November 13 revealed the huge size of the team that's tasked with developing the Echo, the company's smart speaker, and Alexa, the digital assistant that powers it.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: iPhone X problems, Single’s Day sales records, and more

On the 15th episode of DT Daily, Digital Trends' live morning show, Greg Nibler and Marie Pardo-Garber examined the news of the day, including iPhone X screen problems, Alibaba's record-setting day of sales, and more.

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.

Every rumor about the PS5, including a new game from Luminous Productions

PlayStation 5 rumors have been circulating for over a year now but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.

‘Gears of War’ designer Cliff Bleszinski says he’ll never make another game

Cliff Bleszinski, the game designer best known for his work on the Gears of War series, says he will never make another video game. His studio, Boss Key Productions, shut its doors earlier this year.

Nintendo and Microsoft say they’re all-in on E3 after Sony bows out of 2019 event

Shortly after Sony announced it will not participate in E3 2019 for the first time, Microsoft and Sony announced the show will go on as usual for each software giant. E3 2019 now presents a unique opportunity for Sony's major competitors.

The best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox One without a disc drive for 2019

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a new Xbox One model without a disc drive in 2019. The console will be significantly cheaper than other Xbox One systems, including the Xbox One S.

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.

Stock up on Switch accessories this week with these awesome Black Friday deals

Black Friday is right around the corner, and it's the perfect time to stock up on accessories for your Nintendo Switch. Here are the best Switch accessory deals on Black Friday, from controllers to cases and more.
Product Review

Make friends. To survive the wasteland of 'Fallout 76,' you're gonna need 'em

Fallout 76 brings the nuclear wasteland online and invites you to hop in with your friends. It’s fun, and a new direction for the Fallout franchise, but it’s not without its faults.

‘Spyro Reignited Trilogy’ proves nostalgia can only blind for so long

Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a faithful and beatiful remaster of the PlayStation classics, but its dedication to retaining the original experience ultimately hinders the experience. Spyro was great in the late-'90s, but it hasn't aged well.