Games

Runner 3 Review: A Bit Of A Trip

Gamespot News Feed - 1 hour 5 min ago

Out of the numerous games to spring up under the Bit.Trip umbrella, it's not exactly a surprise that the most accessible of the bunch, Bit.Trip Runner, would be the one to transcend its retro-styled roots. In bringing the Runner games' mechanics to a fancier playground on the Switch, developer Choice Provisions has made its most ambitious game yet--but in doing so, may have revealed the limits to how far it can push the concept. It's also the most difficult, and if you haven't already invested in a good sturdy case for the Switch that might stand up to having the system thrown at terminal velocity out of a living room window, now would be a good time.

On paper, the gameplay is as deceptively simple as it's always been. Your character runs forward automatically, and it's up to you to jump, duck, slide, and kick down obstacles until you reach the finish line. The secret sauce of the Runner series is that every action and every item in a stage is plotted to work with its music, a whole game trekking along to simple melodies. Stages can be unpredictable, but if you have any sense of rhythm whatsoever, losing yourself to the music can get you through the tougher moments.

None of Runner 3’s tunes are terribly catchy, and quite frankly, it makes me wistful for the innovative chiptunes that accompanied the original Bit.Trip Runner. Most of the tracks settle for rudimentary and quirky when they could’ve absolutely gone big and eclectic. The furthest Runner 3 branches out in that regard is in the Danny Elfman-like haunted house tunes that accompany much of the second area of the game. At most, the music does the bare minimum: providing a beat for you to follow.

Most people will be able to blast through the first few stages easily, but Runner 3 ramps up the difficulty early on. Around the halfway point of the first area, stages start changing perspectives to an angle, but the shifts in viewpoint can make some of the jumps trickier than they need to be and obscure some obstacles. At its most aggravating, it's difficult to suss out where it's safe to land or what the timing needs to be to kick something out of your way. There are also moments where the game is too complex for its own good; for example, a machine that builds platforms as you run along, making anticipation impossible except through sheer trial and error--which can feel immensely cheap, especially as you get closer to the finish line.

That problem is made worse by the sheer length of each level. Although there are fewer stages in Runner 3, they go on longer than ever--a perfect run with no deaths can sometimes stretch on for four or five minutes. There are still checkpoints at the midpoint of each stage (and as before, if you like living dangerously, skipping the checkpoint gives you a ton of points), but each stage is so densely packed with obstacles this time around that those two minutes to get to safety can feel like an eternity. On top of that, the difficulty is wildly inconsistent; you might get stuck on an early stage that throws bizarre off-kilter obstacle patterns at you, and the next two stages could be walks in the park.

Compared to the relative austerity of the previous titles, Runner 3's environments go full-tilt wacky, overloaded with comical flourishes. The very first stage has you running through a breakfast island, a place where the palm trees are slices of cantaloupe and grapefruit, the rivers flow with milk and cereal, and the high roads are paved with waffles and toast. Later, another stage in Foodland sends you running through a giant refrigerator, bouncing off Jell-O cubes and jogging past some of the most outlandish and gross fake food products imaginable (personal favorites: Fish Errors, Beefmilk, and Cup O' Lumps in Milk Brine). Runner 3's levels are so immensely packed full of random amusements that you're equally likely to fail because you were busy staring at some visual gag happening off in the distance.

For those who do want more of a challenge, there are Hard variations of each stage, and ironically, there's a more gradual climb in difficulty with these than in the normal stages. In addition, the branching Hard routes tend to be where most of the game's collectibles are hiding, giving even more incentive for multiple playthroughs of an area. Said collectibles unlock a sizable amount of content, from the truly infuriating Impossible stages to new runners--with recurring characters from previous games rubbing shoulders with Shovel Knight and, for some reason, Eddie Riggs from Brutal Legend--to Retro stages which are built on a Hanna-Barbera aesthetic.

The greatest compliment to be paid to a game like Runner 3 is that after feeling the urge to toss a controller, it's hard to think of anything else except trying again. Runner 3’s greatest strength is in rewarding that perseverance. Getting through each stage means more jokes to see, more characters to play around with, and more secret stages to explore. Runner 3, over time, reveals itself to be a veritable buffet of weird and whimsical environments, and thrilling, precision-based gameplay, but make no mistake: you will have to work for your meal.

Categories: Games

The King Of The Jungle Is Throwing His Weight Around In This New DLC

Game Informer News Feed - 4 hours 45 min ago

The story behind Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle predates its announcement, when a blurry image of the game leaked out onto the internet and set Nintendo fan expectations to a level of nervous excitement at best. When the game was officially revealed and released, players saw that the synchronicity between the two licenses and how well they gelled together, with our own Jeff Marchiafava declaring "it ended up being my favorite Mario game in recent years." Earlier this year, Ubisoft and Nintendo announced a Donkey Kong-themed DLC expansion for this game with a new world and new characters and we got a chance to try the new content out.

In the main game, Rabbid Donkey Kong served as the boss of the first world and was ultimately defeated thanks to Rabbid Peach dismantling a tower and pushing the lagomorph-ape down a cliff. The DLC shows that Rabbid Kong ended up falling into the world's reality-bending washing machine, sending him to Donkey Kong's island. Later on, Rabbid Peach also ends up in the washing machine, inadvertently also following to a Donkey Kong Island that has been taken over by Rabbid Kong with the power of corrupted bananas.

Donkey Kong, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Cranky join forces to take down Rabbid Kong and his hierarchy of magic banana-powered mafioso beneath him.

The island's titular Kong is the real star of the party as he functions differently from pretty much every character in the main game. Rather than dashing through enemies or jumping off teammates, Donkey Kong picks up friend and foe alike and thus becomes a gamechanger for mobility and defense on the battlefield. The large rabbids who aggressively stalked your team and got closer to doing massive melee damage with each attack are made almost trivial by Donkey Kong's ability to pick them up and throw them out of the way. Throwing teammates closer to objectives or within skill range can also be totally shake up how you use your long-range squad members.

A further upgrade in the skill tree also allows Donkey Kong to pluck enemies in the ground that are waiting to spawn the next turn, allowing you to get a leg-up on damaging them before they get to you. Donkey Kong's ability to traverse the battlefield is also unparalleled, with special vine platforms introduced in this new world that allow DK to swing around the stage in ways plumbers could only dream of.

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The DLC is much of what you remember from the main game, rewarding creativity and speed in achieving your goals. Thankfully, the Donkey Kong DLC expands upon the existing mission types and introduces things like objective destruction to help vary it up. An early mission has your team attacking and destroying bunches of corrupted bananas, giving players who have mastered Donkey Kong's movement options a chance to strut their stuff.

While our demo finished after a few battles, the game is both more of the surprisingly good main game with its own small twists and changes. Moving around as Donkey Kong and basketball free throwing enemies into each other or into teammates' range is genuinely fun and hopefully the DLC has a satisfying challenge progression to keep it fun through the whole expansion.

The Donkey Kong DLC is part of the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle season pass or will be available on its own for $14.99. You can also find footage of us playing the game in the New Gameplay Today episode right here.

Categories: Games

The Armored Samurai Yoshimitsu Joins The Fight

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 22:38

Soulcalibur VI is set for later this year and the time travel/semi-reboot is slowly introducing a lot of fan favorites. This time, longtime Soulcalibur alumnus Yoshimitsu is back with a new armor design. Check him out in action below.

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The often off-kilter samurai is still as strange as ever and incorporates a lot of his favorite moves from previous games. He also appears to have a super where he removes the opponent's soul, slashes it with a sword, and then puts it back in the body. It feels like that should be a round ender, at the least.

Soulcalibur VI is scheduled for release this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Mini-game Bonanza Go Vacation Coming To Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 18:51

Nintendo and Bandai Namco are teaming up to bring an HD port of the activity-filled family game to Switch, complete with a few bonuses.

Go Vacation is essentially Bandai Namco's take on Wii Sports Resort, featuring over 50 mini-games including scuba diving, tennis, horseback riding, and snowball fights (it's a very diverse island). Up to four players can partake in the activities together, and you can also own and customize your own villa with hundreds of different pieces of furniture. Nintendo has a variety of daily content lined up as well, including different costumes and dog companions you can collect, as well as daily challenges.

Go Vacation originally launched to mediocre reviews on the Wii in 2011, but the Switch port will include a few new surprises, including fishing and over 40 different animal types that you can photograph. For a taste of the other activities you can expect, watch the trailer below.

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Go Vacation launches on the Switch on July 27.

Categories: Games

Our First Hands-On With The Highly Anticipated Entry

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 14:00

Kingdom Hearts bring a special excitement with it. Whether you get giddy at the sight of Disney characters or have spent the last 16 years piecing together every intricate detail of its spiraling plot, a new mainline entry in the series brings a certain level of fervor. Every new reveal is dissected, theories are born, and cheers (sometimes even tears) pour from fans after seeing Sora and company on screen for a new adventure. This franchise has brought a lot of people joy; it has also left them hanging to see the final chapter in the Xehanort arc. After slowly trickling out information and showing off some worlds, in particular Pixar’s Toy Story and Monsters Inc., Square Enix finally allowed hands-on for the game at a recent press event in Santa Monica. For a game that always seems off in the distance, this was a big step, making its 2018 release window seem not so far off.

Raining On A Titan’s Parade

In Kingdom Hearts III, everything is bigger, with more detailed environments and a speedier feel. Think of it as a cross between Dream Drop Distance’s Flowmotion and Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – aA Fragmentary Passage, where you have to use the world around you to get the jump on enemies alongside comboing your heart out to unleash special attacks. The demo first placed me in a boss battle with a titan at Olympus Coliseum. I quickly notice movement is much more fluid and the increased verticality for this entry really shows. Sora can run up walls in a jiffy, and in one sequence, must consider his speed and placement as the titan throws huge boulders to deter his progress up the wall. That being said, be prepared for the poor camera that’s plagued the series since its inception.

Soon, I’m attacking the titan’s humongous feet in hopes of stunning him so I can attack his most vulnerable areas. The key to dealing major damage is using keyblade transformations, attractions, and links. Sora’s keyblade transformations occur by building up combos. Early keyblades only have two transformations, but later in the game, you get three. In this fight, I often activate his second form, which issues a stun impact. In another instance, I trigger Goofy shot, spinning and flinging him at the enemy. Attractions are only available at certain points and can also be activated by building up combos. Big Magic Mountain is the attraction option for this battle. Once activated by pressing a button when the prompt appears on screen, you get a to do basic attacks with the attraction, before pulling off your big finisher, which has you trying to line up your shot in a smaller area to hit the target for increased damage. At first, the window seems small to get it perfect for optimal damage, but I do better on another playthrough.

Links have now taken the place of summons and can be activated by using the d-pad. This fight is early in the game, so the only link I have is Wonder Balloon, which features Dream Eater Meow Wow, who fans know from Dream Drop Distance. Combos flow quickly and build up to specials at a speedy rate. You also want to use magic in your combos, because it gives you access to higher spells like Firaga. Before I know it, the titan is stunned and I must climb him, which is another speedy process of jumping from one gold orb to the next, to deal a deadly blow to his head. It sure feels like a Kingdom Hearts fight, damaging this larger-than-life foe by taking out specific body parts.

Enter The World Of Toy Story

The Toybox in Andy's Room is the next area where the demo takes place, and later has us escaping to Galaxy Toys. Although we saw a lot of this footage last year at D23, this is our first look at the English voice acting. It’s worth noting that the actors who originally voiced these characters are mostly absent, such as Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks as Woody. That being said, the performances do justice to these characters and match up well with the original film’s voiceovers. In Andy’s room, I face off against Heartless dressed as toys, and it’s my first real look at the power of the Infinity keyblade, which can transform into a deadly hammer that lets you knock your enemy around, making you feel as powerful as Thor. Another transformation lets you fly an unwieldy rocket with Buzz and Woody in tow, lining up your attacks to crash directly into the enemy. I also get a look at the Mad Teacups attraction here, which is just as fun as you’d expect it to be. You control the direction as it spins rapidly to knock into baddies. I should also mention parties are no longer regulated to three characters. Buzz, Woody, Donald, and Goofy can all fight with Sora at the same time.

Since this is further in the game, this is my first look at the Wreck-It Ralph and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel links. Wreck-It Ralph’s 8-Bit Blast link lets you lunge forward and topple over enemies, similar to a gorilla. He can also build. The more blocks he creates, the higher the damage he deals. Ariel’s Lagoon Showtime lets her dive and throw enemies into the air, and then you can attack them using the splash command. Her finisher is a beautiful sequence of her teaming up with Sora for a water-filled attack.

Once we enter Galaxy Toys, I get my hands on the Gigas for the first time. These are mechs that Sora can battle and control. Three different Gigas are in this demo, all with special attacks, such as the ability to launch canons, create explosions, and tackle enemies to the ground. The mechs control really well and were one of my favorite additions in the demo. Each has their aforementioned special attack, but you can also fire your guns and have a punch option to line up a hit that can make the enemy fall. If your Giga takes too much damage, you can always eject and enter another one on the battlefield. This level also has you riding on rails. Each is a different color that leads to various areas, as we saw in Dream Drop Distance. In this level, we do everything from finding a way to new areas through vents to running around on a record player to get musical toys to perform. We also fight a good variety of enemies, such as those called “Monstrous Monsters” and a creepy doll boss.

I also use this time to test out more keyblades. The Monsters Inc. keyblade, called Smile Gear, transforms into agile claws (it’s just like what it sounds like) and twin yo-yos that spin with speed to damage baddies. The Ever After Keyblade from Rapunzel gives you access to a flowery mirage staff, but the big highlight is its finisher which features Rapunzel’s tower and her teaming up with three Soras to damage an enemy. Speaking of Rapunzel, what they’ve done with her hair is amazing. She holds a great deal of it, with some of the excess she can’t carry flowing on the ground. I also manage to unlock another attraction: the pirate ship, which just like the ride sways back and forth into enemies.

So far, it’s hard to say just how the rest of the game will shape up. I like how much smoother combat feels, and there’s certainly a lot of bombastic action going on at every turn. Sometimes keeping track of all the keyblade transformations and activating them accordingly has you watching your action commands more than paying attention to what’s happening in front of you. I have no doubt this will take some adjustment time. My other observation is just how detailed the environments are and how fun it is to explore them. For instance, Galaxy Toys housed a cool video game section and even had a nod to Dissidia, the Final Fantasy fighting game spin-off. Even the fun interactions between characters I love are here. At one point, the whole party inhales helium to have high-pitched voices for a fun, optional dialogue. The game plays very in line with what Square Enix has said they wanted to achieve, from going bigger and incorporating various elements from past entries. I just hope we have a release date soon. It sounds like Square Enix may have more information for us in June.

Categories: Games

State Of Decay 2 Review: The Limping Dead

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 05/18/2018 - 02:00

State of Decay 2 sometimes feels like a far-too-real representation of the mundane reality that comes with surviving a zombie apocalypse. Consistently being on the hunt for food, resources to craft ammunition, and survivors to bolster your ranks doesn’t always translate into a captivating gameplay loop--especially when you’re faced with horrors other than the countless undead that roam around you.

Like the first game from Undead Labs, State of Decay 2 infrequently checks in with an overarching narrative. You’re given the choice of three pairs of survivors to start off with, each with their own bare-bones background stories. Those stories don’t really matter, but your decision does define your starting area and the preliminary survivors you’ll team up with to combat a growing sickness called the Blood Plague. The plague is the singular goal for you to work against, as your community strives to eradicate it from your town and build towards a brighter future.

That mission boils down to finding zombie-invested settlements that you’ll need to first scout out and ultimately destroy, with grotesque, beating Plague Hearts at the center. These fights are the only real way to measure progression through State of Decay 2’s otherwise open-ended campaign. Each settlement you conquer strengthens the rest, forcing you to step back and regroup before attempting to blow up the next. They're the toughest challenges the game has to offer, too, serving up waves of foes for you to fight as you valiantly lob another Molotov at the heart, hoping it vaporizes and takes all the nearby undead with it. Unfortunately, they are basic action set-pieces at their core, without much variety to help shake up the otherwise monotonous scavenging that surrounds them.

State of Decay 2 is primarily about survival, and it bears all the baggage the genre is known for. Although you’re spared the stress of dealing with individual meters for hunger and thirst, you’ll instead be engaging with ones that affect your community. Food, medical supplies, and crafting materials all factor into the stability of your community, with the overall mood of your survivors governing how well you’re doing. Supplies are littered around the dilapidated and abandoned settlements surrounding you, which are easily scouted with a little high ground. Your objectives hardly stray from going out, clearing an area of enemies, and scrounging around for consumables, gear, and large rucksacks of the more pertinent supplies you’ll need to keep settlers happy.

The act of gathering these supplies is rarely gratifying, though. Although your settlement initially requires some quick work to get on its feet, State of Decay 2 hardly feels like it will fail you for slacking on your routine duties. Certain base structures, for example, have daily resources costs that might trick you into thinking you’ll need a steady supply coming through. But because days tick by so slowly (I finished my core objectives within the first 10 days) this never becomes a real concern. Resources only become troublesome when you need them to craft something specific, such as ammo or plague cures. They’re short-lived problems though, which hardly force you to pause and think about how you’re setting up your settlement. It’s rare for State of Decay 2 to make you feel pressure over the choices you make, which just make all of its interesting sub-systems feel shallow.

It’s a pity, too, because so many of them could’ve added a much-needed layer of strategy. As an example, your base features a threat level which governs how likely you are to attract a zombie attack. Creating new structures or powering them with generators creates noise and in turn increases the likelihood of an attack for a certain period. But even at the highest level, a community of just six members strong is often enough to fend off these attacks without needing explicit intervention on your part. Of the handful of moments that my character was radioed to return, the fight was over by the time I arrived. All structures intact, all survivors unharmed.

State of Decay 2 squanders systems like this by not giving you a reason to engage with them seriously. If your aim is to continually bring new survivors to a settlement but also worry about their well-being, your encounters with each new face should feature more scrutiny as to what they bring to the table. Their distinct abilities set them apart from each other, but not in a way that forces you to make tough decisions about who to invite into your settlement.

The friendlier survivors you encounter are injected with a sense of individuality thanks to numerous perks that come pre-assigned to them. One specialising in swordplay will be more effective with a bladed weapon, while another with computer skills can help expand your base of operations. The sheer breadth of options on offer might trick you into thinking that scrutinizing each potential new addition to your settlement is key, but that’s not the case. Frequently, State of Decay 2 informs you that clashing personalities are leading to fights at home base, but these never escalate to a point where you’re required to take action. You’ll never feel the need to exile an existing character or deny entry to one based on their lack of specific skills.

Graphical hitches are frequent, including enemies clipping through the environment and sometimes having entire hordes stuck on single piece of the environment.

Combat isn’t as dynamic as some character-specific abilities might suggest, but it is satisfying nonetheless. A single button is used for attacks, which depending on your weapon of choice could inflict blunt knockback damage and force an enemy to the floor or slowly slice away at them limb by limb. Each approach comes with its advantages and drawbacks. Bladed weapons deal with larger groups of enemies more efficiently but tend to be far less durable than a sledgehammer or tire iron. These bulkier weapons require you to take an additional action to finish off enemies on the ground, which might leave you open to getting surrounded. Either way, the gory finishers and gruesome sound effects really bring a weight to the melee action, even if you’re just mindlessly mashing the same button until your stamina expires. Firearms feature too, and ammunition for them is far more abundant than you might expect. Gunshots attract more zombies (even with silencers), but it’s the sluggish aiming that's ultimately more frustrating in practice.

State of Decay 2 does a fair job of mixing things up with the introduction of some new enemy types. While some less interesting additions suchs as exploding Bloaters feature more than they deserve to, two others shake up combat in delightful ways. Ferals will jolt around at high speeds, avoiding your melee swings and making firearms a nightmare to connect with. Similarly, Juggernauts make up the largest foes you’ll face on the frontier. They’ll soak up hits from vehicles and rounds of ammunition before giving you a chance to take them down with a satisfying execution. Combined with regular, lumbering enemies that will quickly surround you, Juggernauts make fights more about clever crowd control.

Often though, it’s the game itself that will do its best to deter you from playing rather than its lack of depth. State of Decay 2 runs extremely poorly, even on Xbox One X. Despite not standing out graphically in any regard, the framerate will frequently dip well below its 30 frames per second target, sometimes locking up momentarily when the action is thick on screen. As a result, inputs can often feel incredibly sluggish and unresponsive, which just becomes annoying when you’re trying to swing your way out of a supply run gone sideways. Lighting can sometimes be striking, especially in dawn and dusk situations, but State of Decay 2 lacks a visual theme to tie itself up with and just ends up looking drab and boring. This is all stacked on top of a motion blur that is so aggressive that even the slightest movement turns your surroundings into an unattractive smudge.

Bugs are prominent too and can range from slightly annoying to near game-breaking. Graphical hitches are frequent, including enemies clipping through the environment and sometimes having entire hordes stuck on single piece of the environment. Enemies also routinely drop from the sky if you’re racing across the map quickly, which you’ll do often when you’re travelling in any one of the vehicles present on the map. Physics will miscalculate, launching your vehicle in the air from a slight touch at low speeds. Companions are also particularly prickly. Some following you on missions will disappear for no reason, while I personally had a single instance of a community member disappearing entirely and being eliminated from my pool of characters upon starting the game. One other instance saw one of my characters locked out from use in perpetuity for no apparent reason, while other times some would be stuck in an endless loop of the same boring dialogue for an entire mission. State of Decay 2 is in rough shape as it stands.

Perhaps if State of Decay 2 had the kind of depth that drew you in, these technical faults would be easier to overlook. But it’s because of the lack of meaningful motivations that they stick out so predominantly. State of Decay 2 settles into a rhythm that might be easy for you to pass some hours with, but it’s never a ride with genuine surprises, excitement or purpose. There’s promise in so many systems that it introduces, but they’re woefully underutilized to make space for repetitive activities that are nowhere near as exciting to engage with. State of Decay 2 feels like the lumbering enemies that populate its country mountains. Aimless, wandering, and just out of place.

Categories: Games

Treyarch Reveals Multiplayer Modes, Zombies, And Battle Royale

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 19:00

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12, and will not feature a traditional single-player campaign. However, players will be able to engage with some other modes that have traditionally been limited to multiplayer as solo players, as well as embrace a story that takes place between Black Ops 2 and 3 via single-player missions that focus on multiplayer specialist training. At a Call of Duty community event in Los Angeles today, many aspects of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 have been unveiled.


Multiplayer Tweaks

Black Ops 4 features grounded combat, "boots on the ground" for those familiar with the franchise. This means (with some exceptions due to special abilities on the "specialists" or classes) that there won't be any boosting around or wall running. Instead, weapons get some additional time in the spotlight - each weapon will have unique attachments (instead of broad attachments for a family of guns), including an operator mod. Operator mods add a good deal of differentiation to a weapon. For example, one operator mod might enable suppressing fire that could inhibit enemy vision as the gun lays down a salvo.

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Predictive recoil is in - meaning, you can sit and learn exactly how a gun is going to respond and master a weapon's kick. Healing is NOT automatic as it is in most other Call of Duty titles, and must be manually initiated, leaving you vulnerable to attack as your heal ticks up. Some specialists, like the medic, can assist with healing on the fly. Fog of war plays a role on the minimap – things like surpressed weapons are even more valuable since they won’t break the fog, and another specialist, the recon, can help disperse the fog for the whole team. Another specialist can lay down invaluable cover and razor wire to thwart enemy movement into an area. Still other specialist abilities include the reactor core ability which lets you punish any enemies in an area, allowing you to effectively practice area denial. All of these specialist skills look to help competitive multiplayer CoD become more of a team effort and less of a killfest. Don’t worry, scorestreaks are still there! Learning to play a specialist? Single-player missions server as both tutorials and story vessels for those looking for a bit more narrative before digging into multiplayer mayhem.


Zombies, Zombies, and more Zombies

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches with three distinctly different zombie modes. This is a brand new zombie storyline with new characters that draws upon both real and mythological history. Zombie modes feature a 4-player cast as is the standard, but now there are a slew of customization options and a difficulty selection option. Don’t want to play online? No problem, you can now play with bot pals and make your way through the mysteries. If the default difficulty of zombie modes turned you off in the past, you can now select a range of difficulty options to make the undead massacre a touch more friendly. Looking to compete? Zombie players can now use sharable codes (similar to seeds) that let them handle the same challenge and compete for the best scores. In addition, constant updates are scheduled to roll out to zombie mode over time, including seasonal events known as callings.

In one mode, we see our protagonists battling in a gladiatorial arena with melee weapons against a swarm of zombies that seem to have been summoned by an ancient sun-worshipping Egyptian cult. The protagonists use maces, swords, and more as a giant boss zombie bursts into the fray. Treyarch didn’t comment on any details on this mode but as is the standard for Treyarch zombies, it looks massively bizarre and quite interesting.

We get a slightly better look at another mode called the Voyage of Despair, which takes place on the Titanic. Things go a slightly different than the historical iceberg tragedy as a heist turns into an insane barrage of the undead on the ship as the crew are turning into abominations. Showcased are various player abilities that lead me to think that in this mode each character may have its own special skills instead of just being a voice and an avatar.

The last zombie mode is called Blood of the Dead, and we don’t really know anything about this one yet.


Battle Royale Time

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode (current player support count unknown) is Blackout. This mode features a map 1,500 times larger than your typical Call of Duty multiplayer map alongside characters from the entire Black Ops franchise (including zombies). Even more interesting is that this mode includes vehicles of all kinds – ground, air, and sea. In an extremely short teaser trailer, we do see some helicopters dishing out some firepower - but it was more conceptual than anything, and we'll likely have to wait for any footage or details for this mode.


PC Power

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is releasing on PC on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform, the first for the series and the only game other than Destiny to currently share the hallowed halls of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and more. This has exciting prospects for social support and systems, and even more exciting is that PC players can expect uncapped framerate. Aww yeah.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 may not have a traditional single-player campaign, but I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of a CoD serving up a wealth of multiplayer modes that have tons of depth. We’ll see what happens as we head toward release on October 12.

Categories: Games

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review - The Great Zelda Spin-Off Is Back

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 16:00

Hyrule Warriors is a beautiful, chaotic mess of a game. It's got all the glossy rupees, imaginative monsters, and fashionable characters you'd expect from the Zelda series (and plenty you wouldn't), topped off with some nods to the medieval hack-and-slash Dynasty Warriors series. In place of puzzles and elaborate levels or side-quests, you're here to do one thing--mess up some monsters.

This shouldn't be new to most folks, as the original run of Hyrule Warriors launched back in 2014, but the port to Nintendo Switch brings all the extra characters and items from the DLC, plus some added costumes and all the content from the 3DS version. That's a ton of content to bring to the table, but the game's central theme is the same as ever. That makes the Switch version a tough sell for all but the most dedicated fans of the original or those who have never set foot into the wacky world of this strange mash-up. Given the Wii U's relatively meager sales, though, this is a great second chance for the strongest Zelda spin-off ever.

For the unfamiliar, Dynasty Warriors is a tactical action game that tasks you with managing an army and controlling specific keeps or tracts of land. All the while, you are able to insert yourself directly into the fray as an uber-powered demi-god. That allows you to shift the tide of battle, essentially acting as the queen in chess. Powerful though you may be, you've also got to keep constant track of the field, and where you're needed most. That tension--between the battle right in front of you, and the tactical considerations of the field--represent the core tension of the series.

Hyrule Warriors doesn't compromise on that at all, and even mixes in plenty of mid-game quests and objectives to keep you juggling your goals and constantly weighing your best options. It's a lot to have going on at once, but it genuinely works. Choices are always billed as risks--should you go home and shore up the defenses of your base, or press-on for a valuable collectible? Understanding where you're needed most and how the various elements of a map all play together is important, but it's not so taxing that you can't fudge your way through a good chunk of it.

And that's part of the appeal. As Link or Darunia or Zelda or Impa, you've got the entire Hyrule cast at your back. Zelda isn't some rando, she's a monster-busting fiend. Even when you've got more important decisions to make, watching Zelda summon spears and swords from raw light and dispatching wave after wave of moblins is the kind of cathartic release many have been waiting decades for. This is fan-service at its most pure and most satisfying. Seeing the characters you've grown up with or idolized in new contexts that allow them to unleash their full might, is a bit like taking your favorite characters into Smash Bros. or Marvel vs Capcom. There's an essence of childlike fascination that comes along with it, and Hyrule Warriors wields that well.

Fans of Zelda lore and the like need not turn their noses up at this adventure, either. Provided you can buy into the initial premise and get some mileage there, the adventure is truly a fascinating one. You'll cross dimensions and timelines, bouncing between locales from many of the more recent Zelda entries, including Wind Waker, Breath of the Wild and Skyward Sword. All of this fits tonally too. With more than a dozen characters from all over the timeline and Zelda own history of world-swapping, time-warping weirdness, muddling the lines between worlds a bit to get everyone into the same game feels natural.

If anything, as we stated in our original review, the one major issue this brings up is the longing for flashier attacks and better combos in the mainline Zelda series. And when a spin-off makes you want more from the original, that's certainly a special sort of accomplishment.

New to the Switch version is split screen multiplayer. The original allowed one player to use the Wii U Gamepad, and another to play on the TV. This mode honestly, while nice, isn't much of an improvement. The Switch can still chug a bit when the action gets heavy, and trying pack two players, and the mayhem they cause onto a single screen feels a little tight. Still, it's always nice to have the option.

Those returning to the fray will likely be a little disappointed as there just isn't enough new content to rouse fresh excitement. For newcomers, though, Hyrule warriors is a delightful, bizarre outing that opens up the Zelda series, taking us places we've been before, just with thousands of monsters and awesome, screen-clearing magical attacks.

Categories: Games

Framed Collection Review - Worth A Thousand Words

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 16:00

When it first released in 2014, Framed was declared game of the year by no less than Hideo Kojima. In the years since, this has been the game's enduring legacy--it's not just a good game, but one that inspired an industry heavyweight with its inventiveness. It's a fundamentally robust, unique idea executed well.

Framed Collection brings together Framed and its 2017 follow-up Framed 2 (a prequel, although the plot is largely inconsequential) to Nintendo Switch and PC--both were formerly exclusive to iOS and Android. They are essentially puzzle games in which you're trying to solve a narrative issue--they present comic books where the main characters die or get arrested on every page. Several panels are laid out on each screen, each one depicting different scenes, usually involving one or more of the game's unnamed protagonists trying to outsmart the police or overcome an obstacle. In the opening stages, all you need to do is switch the panels around so that the character can safely get to the end of the 'page' and escape it.

Once you have the panels in an order that you think will work, you press 'play' and watch what happens. To give an early example, if the first (immovable) panel shows two police firing their guns then you'll need to move the panel that shows a table into the second slot, so that the man who is being fired at can immediately dive behind it and take cover. If any other panel is placed second, he'll be shot. All of this is backed by a lovely jazz soundtrack and neat visual style that renders all the characters in silhouette. Framed has a great sense of style, and although some of the backgrounds can be a bit plain (especially in the first game), it's easy to read the action and figure out what is going to happen in each panel as you enter or exit it.

In both games, the puzzles grow more complicated and clever as you progress. Later puzzles will let you rotate panels, sometimes changing the orientation of objects within them, other times shifting a rectangular panel so that it's either vertical or horizontal (which changes the order the panels are 'read' in as well). Others will let you move panels around after you've pressed play, which means that getting through to the last panel on the screen will mean moving through some panels more than once. Everything works on silly video game stealth logic--you can assume that all the police are deaf to anyone behind them--but the game's internal logic is consistent.

It's a clever system, albeit one that feels like it could have been pushed just a little further after finishing both short games. Played back to back, it's the original Framed that stands out the most. It's not necessarily better, per se, but the game has held up well since its initial release, and still feels like a fresh idea. Framed has a loopier structure than the sequel, one that calls attention to the game's weird frame-switching conceit with a plot that is hard to fully understand, but is neat in its ambitiousness. The original game introduces all the series' best concepts and ideas too, and as such ends up feeling a tad more inventive just by virtue of being the first one.

That's not to say that Framed 2 isn't also good fun. It's much nicer visually, and the puzzles are more playful in the sequel--one sequence where you need to change a character's outfit by continually switching around panels so that they alternately put on and take off various items of clothing is a stand-out, as is one scene that lets you rotate the hands of a clock to affect the angle at which one of the characters leaps off it into the next panel. Some other set-pieces, like a fist fight and a sequence where you need to figure out a four-digit code based on a tableau taking up most of the screen, play out as cute proofs-of-concept rather than full-blown ideas, but they're in the minority. Both games have plenty of lovely 'a-ha' moments, where a puzzle clicks and an obvious solution that was staring you in the face suddenly leaps out. Neither is particularly difficult, and while that's not a major issue both games also end abruptly--some further complexity would not have gone amiss.

Framed Collection's only real significant addition is a fast-forward button, which lets you speed up the action after pressing play. This is a bigger deal than it sounds--having to watch the same scenes slowly play out every time you pressed play after organizing panels was the most annoying part of Framed on mobile, and the problem has been mitigated here. You can play either game in TV mode with the Switch, but it's better in handheld mode with touch controls--using a controller just doesn't feel natural, especially when you need to switch between panels quickly. Playing on PC with a mouse is a great fit, too; these games are well suited to a bigger screen, and the art scales well.

Framed Collection is a pleasant reminder of why these mobile games struck such a chord. I wouldn't go as far as Kojima and declare them game of the year material, but I'd be up for a Framed 3 that took the building blocks established by the first two games and found new ways to piece them together. If you've already played Framed 1 and 2 on mobile there's not much reason to come back, but if you haven't these are the best versions of the unique and enduring puzzle games.

Categories: Games

Taking America At Your Own Pace

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 17:00

Driving in games has always been meant to feel freeing, giving players the opportunity to cast off the bonds of traffic and speed limits and roads for complete feeling up until the nearest body of water or wall or extremely off-road terrain. Racing games thus design around these issues, giving you inaccessible terrain to keep you on the course. Where Ubisoft's newest stab at open world racing wants to differentiate itself is how quickly it allows you to circumvent these designs.

With a push of the button, players can change their vehicle in The Crew 2, switching between planes, boats, and automobiles with the same speed as changing weapons in Assassin's Creed. This does, of course, mean that you're taking ramps from the highway and switching to a boat in midair to land in a river and continue up that way. You can also switch to a plane, fly all the way to the top of your vertical limit, turn into a car, and aim for the road.

This switching speaks to a playground mentality of The Crew 2 that differentiates it from the first game. Developer Ivory Tower is crafting a much more playful atmosphere from the underlying mechanics all the way to the story. Gone is the morose crime family story of the previous game, replacing avenging the murder of a family member with getting more social media followers by winning more races and doing more tricks.

This makes The Crew 2 a decidedly lighter narrative and on the whole more narrative-light. Progress is determined by endearing yourself to multiple families who obsess over disciplines in plane tricks, car driving, and boat racing of different stripes. As a rising superstar, the player unlocks new vehicles and further competitions like street racing and off-roading by spending the requisite money.

Once the player earns enough followers with each family, there's a multi-vehicle race event held by an extreme sports organization. Players go from racing speedboats, to navigating shipyards on a BMX bike, to racing through the city in quick succession and changes for each event. These races are thrilling and fun and I hope are more common than they seem.

This illustrates a line in The Crew 2 where the game can be separated between its designed races, segments where you're pushing around competitors to shave off a second from your total time, and a genuine sense of relaxing and almost meditative calm from doing literally anything else. Flying over a peaceful countryside, boating along an idyllic lake, inviting a friend and watching them do donuts in the desert, The Crew 2 occasionally feels like an experience to which you can measuring your resting heart rate.

There are still some concerns, however. Though the story of the first game felt laughable in its seriousness, the lack of narrative hooks to the sequel feel mildly demotivating at the same time. I'm unsure what the sweet spot is for story in a game like this, but I don't feel like Ivory Tower and Ubisoft have cracked the code yet. While I enjoyed flying around in the plane, it also changed the least of any of vehicles, and I felt like I was just doing the same trick events over and over.

Despite that, I am excited to play more of The Crew 2. There is a spark here that the original game did not possess and I can't wait to explore more of it when the game releases on June 29 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Off Adventure Mode, Demo Announced

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:26

Mario Tennis Aces is shaping up to be a solid offering in the series, and if you're looking try it out for yourself, you're in luck.

Nintendo has announced the arcadey sports game will be getting a free demo from June 1 through 3. The demo consists of both offline and multiplayer modes, with a nice little incentive for online players: A small tournament between demo players in which the winners unlock more characters to play as by earning points.

The four starting characters in the demo are Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Bowser, but Nintendo has not announced who else players might unlock. Finally anyone who plays the demo (offline or online) will unlock Mario's classic outfit in the main game once it hits on June 22.

Additionally, the company has also released a new trailer, showing off the various ways the adventure mode plays around with the base tennis, including teleportation mirrors, extra nets, and Shy Guys.

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Categories: Games

Battle Chasers Nightwar Review: Switch It Up

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:00

Based on a hit comic book series from the late '90s, Battle Chasers: Nightwar successfully translates the look and feel of a comic into a turn-based RPG. The mesmerizing animated intro shows exactly what you're in for: a wild world where steampunk meets Dungeons & Dragons, rendered in beautiful, deep-shaded colors. It was a spell that was frequently broken when it first released. After months worth of patches, tweaks, and improvements on other platforms, however, it's a very different, and much stronger experience right out of the box on the Nintendo Switch.

The broad premise of the Battle Chasers comic is that a girl named Gully has taken a pair of magic gauntlets, along with a motley crew consisting of a sellsword, a wizard, and a kindly robot, on a journey to find her missing father. The Nightwar chapter, however, is a minor sidetrack from that journey. The crew gets shot down from their airship over a mysterious island with serious problems of its own. Supposedly, the island is home to a mother lode of mana, which has prompted something of a magic-based gold rush. Mercenaries, thieves, unsavory merchants and, most worrisome of all, the attention of an evil sorceress named Destra, are drawn to the island. The crew's plans to depart dissolve into a trek that goes deep into the island's darkest regions.

Battle Chasers endears you in the process of establishing its world, characters, and combat systems. Garrison, the mercenary, is exactly what you might expect from a square-jawed warrior with a tragic backstory: his terse personality keeps him at arm's length from his cohorts. On the flipside, the hulking mech, Calibretto, is a gentle soul who acts more as the defacto healer, and the beating heart of the story as it goes along. The cast at large brings infectious personality and energy to every scene, and all of this is underscored by a delightfully diverse soundtrack, flavoring typical medieval adventure anthems with everything from Chinese string instruments to bassy, trip-hop backbeats.

The game's overworld is dotted with opportunities to battle oozing slimes, vicious wolf men, and surly prospectors. Dilapidated little shanty towns pop up along the way, as well as occasional side quests, which usually impart a bit of lore before asking your band to thwart a high-ranking enemy in a dangerous place. The bread and butter of the game, however, is its major dungeons. Eight in total, the dungeons are procedurally generated. Despite the randomization, each room and its layout is impressively detailed, with smoothly integrated puzzles, that most of the time it's impossible to tell every dungeon wasn't meticulously laid out until you reset one, and re-enter to find an unrecognizable location.

From the outset, combat is fairly standard turn-based fare. Veterans of the game will find that the difficulty curve has been evened out in a way where early battles are still very doable, but don't go too easy on new players. The first few hours are full of hard hits and unexpected deaths for those who don't stay vigilant. Basic enemies hit for dozens of points in damage in a single wave, leaving debuff effects like Poison and Bleeding in their wake before you even really know what they do.

Thankfully, it's fairly easy to turn the tables. Every character has a special skill to affect enemies within dungeons--proactively stunning, ambushing, or igniting them--just before a fight kicks off. The principal gimmick during a fight is the Overcharge system. Basic attacks contribute to a special pool of red mana points that can be used to cast magic and tech attacks, rather than actual mana points. The new balance of progression makes it much easier to gain a foothold in the world, where no fight feels too unwieldy. For the fights that do, the removal of level restrictions on equipment also means that the right tool for the job is never too far out of reach. MP still remains in short supply as the game progresses, however. One should still be mindful about whether to build Overcharge or expend mana when using abilities. This gets increasingly tricky, but in a way that keeps you engaged in every battle, no matter how small.

There were two major problems with Battle Chasers when it first released: A severely steep difficulty curve as the game progressed into its second and third acts, and frequent, aggravating load times going into both battles and new areas. The bad news is that the second issue remains. Even on the more powerful PS4, months of patches still leave a problem where even just getting into a fight in the overworld map can stop the game dead for 30 seconds to load a single, low-level enemy. At least that system gets 60fps fights as a consolation prize. The Switch gets no such benefit, with not just a lower resolution, but intermittent stutters in framerate the more active and flashy the attacks. On both systems, going from the overworld to a dungeon or vice versa can keep you trapped on a loading screen for close to a minute.

The good news is that everything else feels great. Changes to the game's XP and various store economies make it easier to keep your companions ahead of the curve through regular gameplay instead of through tedious grinding—though that's still an option if you want it to be, and the rewards are now much more worthy of the effort. The same considerations still have to be made with each new piece of gear. Armor typically raises a character's HP, stamina, and speed, but drastically lowers physical and magical defense--stats that matter against stronger enemies. The trick of it is finding items that counterbalance the loss, and the odds of that happening, as it stands, have been improved for the better.

Beyond the challenge of combat, Battle Chasers is sustained through the strength of its story, a rollicking tale that takes our heroes literally to hell and back. It's bolstered by some sharp dialogue, gorgeous artwork, and an ensemble that plays extremely well off of each other. Lots of work has gone into Nightwar since its first release, and the balancing improvements make it an easy game to recommend on all platforms.

Categories: Games

Rage 2 Trailer Welcome You To The Shooterverse

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:05

Bethesda has been hosting a week-long campaign teasing Rage 2 after Walmart leaked the game's existence. Yesterday the publisher officially announced the game with a live-action clip, and today we finally got a peak at gameplay.

You can watch the trailer in all its tire-burning, slobbering mutant glory right here:

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Bethesda says that you'll be playing as a ranger named Walker and that "you'll have to rage for justice and freedom" as you take on gangs and a bloodthirsty authoritarian power. The publisher also characterizes Rage 2, developed by Avalanche Studios (Just Cause, Mad Max) as a shooter/open-world hybrid where you can take on foes with upgradeable weapons, powers, and any vehicle you can get your hands on.

Rage 2 arrives in 2019. Bethesda will reveal more about the game at its E3 showcase this year on June 10.

For more on Rage, check out our review of the original Rage here.

Categories: Games

FAR: Lone Sails Review: Come Sail Away

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:00

FAR: Lone Sails, the debut title of Swiss developer Okomotive, opens with your character--an unnamed, ambiguous figure in red--wordlessly paying their final respects at a grave behind their home. As you guide them from left to right, through their residence and out the front door, you leave it behind and set out on an unclear journey. The world is tinged grey, broken, abandoned. You quickly arrive at the vehicle that serves as your dwelling for the rest of the trek, a landbound ship that uses petrol, steam, wind, and its giant wheels and sails to propel itself forward. You henceforth pilot the ship in a straight line away from your home, unsure of the specifics of your destination or purpose--it seems like you're simply trying to go as far as possible.

Lone Sails is a 2D puzzle game in which there are no enemies, few challenges, and a purposefully vague narrative. These are all ideas we've seen attached to plenty of other indie platform-puzzle games, and in the opening few minutes described above it all feels very familiar. But it does not take long for Lone Sails to emerge with its own distinct voice and identity, and that's thanks to the ship you're piloting.

You'll spend at least half your time running around inside your ship--presented from a bisected viewpoint whenever you enter it--pressing the big red buttons that operate its various functions. You'll need to make sure that you've got fuel in the tank before firing the engine, meaning you'll often have to stop and collect canisters of it from outside during your journey (at no point in my playthrough did I come even remotely close to running out). Steam will build up if the engine runs for long enough, and pressing the associated button releases a valve and gives you a brief speed boost. Aside from these functions, most parts of your ship don't require frequent attention. You have a hose for fires and a repair torch, but they're generally only needed during or following set-pieces; a brake that brings you to an immediate halt; and, following an early upgrade, a set of sails that you can coast with if the wind permits.

There are plenty of sections where the ship must be brought to a halt so that you can leave and fiddle around outside to clear a path or get yourself moving again. These are Lone Sail's puzzles, and they're generally quite gentle, usually not involving much more than figuring out the right order to hit a series of red buttons or attaching your ship's winch to something. But even if they're not challenging, these set-pieces are usually delightful, either in how much your meddling changes the environment around you, or how the world's vistas stretch out behind you, or because they end with your ship getting a neat upgrade. FAR: Lone Sails is consistently engaging, with a tactile pleasure to pulling boxes, pressing buttons, and jumping around as needed.

But there are also long stretches where you'll likely find yourself doing nothing--the wind is carrying your ship, everything is organized below deck, and there's not much to do but sit on top and admire the view while listening to the soft orchestral soundtrack that kicks in during these quieter scenes. In these moments, as you take a moment to appreciate Lone Sail's beauty, the storytelling feels especially confident and focused. The world is beautiful, even though it's vaguely post-apocalyptic, with much of the landscape made up of a drained sea-bed and abandoned buildings. There are little hints at what may have happened to the world here and there, but ultimately the world outside of your ship doesn't matter so much until near the end of the journey, as the game's final act unfurls in a way that informs everything that came before it. Coming to appreciate the extended stretches of tranquility that Lone Sails often stretches out is one of its greatest pleasures.

You are always alone, and because of that, your attachment to the ship grows deeper. After a while, exiting the ship for any period starts to feel dangerous despite the lack of enemies. When bad weather conditions kick in at various points, leaving the ship feels akin to having to get out from under your blanket on a cold night. The ship feels alive and reactive, thanks in large part to great visual and sound design. Watching the turbines whir and embers shoot out from the back when you release steam, or even just sitting on top of the ship as it blasts along a flat with its sails out, is a bonding experience.

This is a polished game, with only a few minor issues that I encountered. Every now and then an object in the foreground would obstruct my view of some parts of the ship, but the ship's layout is easy enough to remember that this was only a minor roadblock. Twice I had to reload my most recent checkpoint because I got stuck--once it was my own fault, the other time I was trapped by a rare invisible wall designed to keep me from going a certain way. But the checkpointing is generous enough that I didn't lose more than two minutes of progress, and I generally felt totally in control of my ship. It's also quite easy overall, and up until a surprising death towards the end of it all, I didn't even know you could die.

Lone Sails is a transfixing, lovely experience, one that takes recurring indie game tropes and does something unique and fun with them. It's short enough that you could play through it in a single two or three-hour session, but it will likely stick with you for a long time. I can see myself going back in a few months just to revisit the ship, like checking in on an old friend.

Categories: Games

New Weather System Looks Pretty Neat

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 20:10

Wargroove is shaping up to be a neat little tactics game, and the game's recently announced weather system should make battles a little more harrowing and dynamic.

According to Chucklefish, the weather system consists of three weather types: sunny, windy, and severe. While the first two are self-explanatory, what "severe" depends on a particular map's biome, and can consist of rain, snow, or sandstorm (so no snow in the desert and now sandstorms in a forested village).

How do these effects change battle? When it's windy, boats will be able to move further, archers will be able shoot farther, and flying units like dragons will deal more damage. Severe weather instead limits units, meaning would-be commanders will have to be more careful when building their gameplan.

Chucklefish is still messing around with individual effects and settings, but you can see weather in action in gif form on the company's official site or below. If you'd rather just keep it simple, you can turn off weather entirely in the game's multiplayer settings.

Categories: Games

The Castlevania-Inspired Platformer Is Coming This Month

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 19:46

Later this year, Koji Igarashi's Bloostained: Ritual of the Night is heading for release. Before that happens, however, Igarashi has yet another Bloodstained coming out, and it's releasing this month.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an 8-bit, Castlevania throwback. You play as Zangetsu, a demon slayer with a vengeance who travels through an ominous land to defeat a powerful demon. Zangetsu will meet other characters along the way, who can join your party to help you defeat enemies on your journey.

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Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was promised as a stretch goal for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $5.5 million. 

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is coming out on May 24 and will cost $9.99. Those who backed Rtiual of the Night on Kickstarter for more than $28, however, receive it for free. It's coming to a slew of platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Vita, 3DS, and PC.

Categories: Games

Destiny 2: Warmind Review - Back To Work

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 16:00

Destiny 2 has been struggling to keep its players invested for a while now. Going into its second expansion, Warmind, the biggest question was whether or not Destiny 2 can entice people to come back to it. This expansion is geared more toward the hardcore players, offering difficult endgame activities and a slower, more demanding level grind to get there. If you aren't interested in those things, though, there's not a lot here besides the same old Destiny 2 activities to draw you in.

Warmind's campaign consists of a handful of missions, and it takes around an hour and a half to complete. If you haven't played Destiny 2 much since Curse of Osiris, it's easy to jump back in; I started at 310 power and did some minimal grinding to keep up with each mission's recommended level. It remains a very welcome change from Destiny's more punishing pace, where skipping a few weeks meant another few weeks of intense grinding just to catch up.

Like most story-centric activities in Destiny 2, Warmind's campaign does just enough explaining to justify fighting enemies in the first place and leaves you to fill in the rest yourself. That can work really well, but in Warmind, a lot of seemingly important things are packed into a very short amount of time; a buried Golden Age research facility, new information about Rasputin, a crazy-powerful spear, and suddenly a giant worm that you have to kill. It's not that those things aren't connected but rather that there's no time to absorb anything before you're in the final fight, and it's anticlimactic as a result.

Individually, Warmind's different components are actually kind of cool. The Valkyrie spear can take out swarms of enemies in one very satisfying throw, and fighting a huge, serpentine monster is fun just for the spectacle of it. The new ally character, Ana Bray, is almost interesting--she's related to Clovis Bray, a historical figure in Destiny lore, and can speak to Rasputin--but she doesn't have enough time to develop into anything substantial. Though Warmind is an expansion about a hyper-intelligent AI that's been around since the first game, it feels like these are just the building blocks for what could be a compelling story.

For laidback Destiny 2 players, the more accessible activities are a great way to test out the new Exotic weapon changes that launched alongside the expansion. The 1.2.0 update is available even if you don't have Warmind, but it's at least nice to have a reason to try out the Exotic buffs. My personal favorites are the Graviton Lance, which now fires a two-round burst with a heftier and more satisfying explosion on impact, and Riskrunner, which deals more damage when its Arc Conductor buff is active. They actually feel like true Exotics now and as a result are loot worth chasing, so much so that the changes kind of steal Warmind's thunder.

Two of Warmind's story missions are disappointingly repurposed as Strikes, just like in Curse of Osiris. The addition of Nightfall-like modifiers to Heroic Strikes makes them a lot more difficult, at least, but the loot chest reward for completing them doesn't match the challenge--weapons and gear drop at 340 power, which is right about where you'll be when you finish the story. The new cap is 385, leaving a large gap between the "easy" content and the endgame that could have been filled with mid-tier Heroic Strike rewards. As a whole, the mid-level section of the expansion is unfortunately pretty empty of anything to motivate you to keep going forward.

The new destination, the polar ice caps of Mars, is around the size of Io. In addition to new Adventures and Lost Sectors, Mars has new secrets to hunt down in the form of Sleeper Nodes. They're primarily for other quests, but they can be fun to look for and a good excuse to explore. Mars also boasts a new activity, Escalation Protocol. It works kind of like a Public Event in that anyone in the area can join, but it's way harder, throwing waves of high-level Hive at you. As of week one, it's basically impossible to complete it, which makes it a nice accomplishment to chase if you've been wanting more to do in the late game. So far, Escalation Protocol is the most intriguing thing in Warmind--I actually want to level up enough so I can see what happens and what kind of loot I can get.

It certainly feels like Warmind has a slower burn than vanilla Destiny 2 or Curse of Osiris. In order to get the Exotic fusion rifle Sleeper Simulant, for example, you have to complete a time-intensive multi-step quest that involves running both Heroic Strikes and Escalation Protocols. On the hardcore end of things, the challenging new Raid Lair is a big incentive to get your power level up. The grinding alone will likely keep the most dedicated players busy for a bit, and figuring out and implementing a viable strategy once you actually make it to the Raid Lair is, as always, a reward in itself.

However, if you aren't already dedicated to reaching the level cap and completing every late-game activity, Warmind doesn't offer many draws for you; the only reason to do anything is to level up or get new loot, and that can keep you busy for a while this time around. How busy depends on your patience when grinding and your desire to jump through every hoop to get there. That barren middle-tier--when you've beaten the story and need to grind 20 or 30 power levels so you can reach the endgame--is a very easy place to lose steam.

Categories: Games

Bringing The Hunt To Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 17:45

Today, Nintendo made a big announcement about Capcom's successful action/RPG franchise. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is coming to Switch, and its release date is only a few months away.

Monster Hunter Generations originally hit 3DS back in 2016, and many diehards were hoping the Switch version, which released a year ago in Japan, would make its way to our shores. Thankfully, that's now a reality. Generations Ultimate is an HD port and expansion of the 3DS version.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate holds the basic gameplay loop that fans have adored, which includes hunting monsters and customizing their avatars with their parts. However, due to the game launching last year in Japan, don't expect this version to contain the enhancements, such as the more accessible controls, from Monster Hunter: World. That being said, you still can hunt with up to three other players online to take down the biggest and hardest foes. 

Our own Dan Tack loved the 3DS version for its variety of bosses and landscapes, as he wrote in his review: "While Monster Hunter can be distilled down into a basic loop of hunt, gather, upgrade, micromanage inventory and Palico perks, rinse and repeat, the process is quite satisfying as the “boss barrage” continues to serve up interesting encounters across snowfields, volcanos, and lush islands." 

Nintendo also provided a trailer for the announcement, which you can watch below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate hits Switch on August 28. This is the series' first foray on the console, giving players the option to hunt on the go or on the big screen.

Categories: Games

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Officially Revealed

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 15:40

Konami has officially revealed details regarding this year's installment in its long-running Pro Evolution Soccer series – proving that an earlier leak promising new licensed leagues and major changes to the series' MyClub and Master League modes was true.

  • Master League: New licensed leagues are being added along with the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament. Furthermore, the transfer negotiation and budget systems have been redone, including re-sell and clean-sheet contract options. Konami says that more info on the official league licenses is coming in the future.
  • Gameplay: 11 skill traits have been added for players, including rising/dipping shots and a no-look pass, and players' stamina and fatigue is more evident. This makes substitutions more important, and the game has added a quick substitution menu so you don't have to pause the game. Improvements have also been made to areas such as dribbling, ball trajectory and bounce, and players' reaction animations.
  • Visuals: Snow is back in the game and it affects gameplay, and the title supports 4K HDR. The lighting has been redone, and new animations have been added to the crowd. Konami says their excitement should be more evident in games as well.
  • MyClub: Players with limited-time boosted stats and skills reflecting their real-life performance are available as well as new licensed Legend players. A new weekly PES League features multiple competitive divisions and rewards. Overall, the developer says that the way gamers go about building their squads will be different.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 comes out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 28 in the Americas with Barcelona and Brazilian national team star Philippe Coutinho as the cover star. The game comes in Standard, David Beckham, and Legend Edition varieties, with pre-order gifts for the digital version. For more info on the game and its different versions versions head over to the official Konami site

We'll get our hands on the title at E3 in June, and can not only size up the gameplay but hopefully get a tour of the revamped Master League.

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[Source: Konami] 

Categories: Games

Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire Review - A Pirate's Life For Me

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/08/2018 - 18:00

Pillars of Eternity was something of a herald for the second golden age of classic computer role-playing games. It was an inspiration, and was quickly followed by games like Torment: Tides of Numenera and Tyranny, and plenty more have filled in the gaps since then. And that's before we even get to the reboots and re-issues of some of the genre's aging classics like Baldur's Gate.

All of this is to say that the standards have shifted quite a bit since Pillars of Eternity released in 2015. It's remarkable, then, that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire not only keeps pace with its contemporaries, but brings its own vitality and character that sets it apart from a genre that has been feeling a bit crowded of late.

Deadfire is a direct sequel to Pillars of Eternity, but you don't need to have played the first game, as you'll get solid recaps as well as the ability to make some general choices that will affect how Deadfire plays. That said, having a familiarity with the characters and world greatly adds to the game's overall appeal. These folks have aged, wizened, and grizzled a bit in the pirate-infested Deadfire Archipelago--the expansive, maritime stage on which our adventure is set. One old friend has taken to smoking a pipe, for instance, growing a bit more lax and observational, punctuating thoughts and commentary with tokes to help process his thoughts.

For the most part, character progression and the nuts and bolts of play work just as they did before. Character creation is deep and complex, designed to mimic the process of mapping out a character in a tabletop RPG. From there, you play a half real-time, half turn-based adventure, with exploration done in the former style and combat in the latter. If you’ve played just about any of the iconic CRPGs of the last 20 years, you’ll be immediately familiar with the basics in Deadfire.

On top of that, though, Deadfire blows out everything from its predecessor. There’s more of anything you can think of--more options for character setup, more classes and skills, more specialization, more items, and more levels. You can also explore open waters on a ship that you manage, from crew to cannon. In much the same way that an advanced player’s guide adds fundamental upgrades to the way a tabletop RPG works, Deadfire is bigger, but also deeper. New character sub-classes and the ability to multi-class your character will allow you to refine your options in combat or play more nuanced roles.

That said, the real value of Deadfire is how its setting tees up new stories and tales of exploration and adventure. The Archipelago has been settled throughout, but plenty of islands still contain ancient secrets and eldritch horrors. Moreover, the rough-and-tumble atmosphere demands sturdy defenses and plenty of able bodies to maintain your new ship. Life on the seas is brutal, and your first major craft will barely have the gear needed to survive even minor engagements. Kitting out your mobile base of operations becomes another major focus, and you'll always have to worry when another ship comes into view.

Your ultimate goal is track down Eothas, a god who has possessed a stone colossus. Mysteriously, your spirit and life force is tied to the god, and only by chasing him to the archipelago were your companions able to keep you alive. Now you must set out and figure out how all this happened and why, while trailing Eothas. This works particularly well as a means of pacing out the journey and developing a strong throughline of adventure.

So you set out for whatever towns and islands you can spot, and build from there. At this stage, curiosity is a virtue. Questions and probes yield small, intimate stories and clues for tracking down the big bad alike. These arcs build out the texture of the world and offer some of the most beautiful moments in the game. Plus, having extra gear and experience can only add to your proficiency in the game’s main thrust. How and when you engage with the world is up to you, but you'll be partially limited by the capabilities of your ship and the information you've gathered.

Deadfire's characters are bright and nuanced, and their descriptions weave personality into the simplest interactions.

Ship combat, perhaps the single largest mechanical addition in Deadfire, is well constructed. Bouts are turn-based and will be determined by everything from the abilities and experience of the crew you've gathered, to the tactical choices you make. These largely center on positioning, which is important to keep in mind when attacking or defending. Most vessels will have a few different types of guns, so you'll be working on closing or creating distance and repositioning so you can get the best shots off at the right times. Boarding, of course, also plays a huge role, but that works more or less the same as any other battle on land.

All of this, too, feeds into systems that impact how successful you are at general pirating. Your crew's morale will need to be kept high, for instance, or you could run the risk of a mutiny. While that could have been little more than set-dressing, Deadfire pulls those threads into the rest of the game--primarily through its art and writing.

Rich, detailed prose focuses on setting the scene and building an atmosphere. Deadfire's characters are bright and nuanced, and their descriptions weave personality into the simplest interactions. All of this makes for an enriching read--if you've got the patience for it. Like the first game, the writing is phenomenal overall, but some sections can be unnecessarily verbose, and that can occasionally strike as a weakness. But, more often than not, vivid text is a means to help you escape to this fantastical world. Thankfully, though, it's not the only trick Deadfire's got.

While the isometric view is a bit of a throwback, the art and visual detail of the world stands abreast with the writing as one of the adventure's strongest points. Not only is this a visual feast, mostly because of its imaginative settings and application of the arcane, but its direction is poignant and gripping. The seaside shacks and exotic, otherworldly creatures are a stark departure of the classical fantasy setting of the previous entry's Dyrwood. The cliched stylings of Caed Nua castle give way to Treasure Island, with all the monsters and magic of DnD. In other words, this is more a fantasy adventure in a pirate-y tone than the other way around. And that works just fine--keeping enough of the original appeal intact while folding in sharp new ideas and ambiance.

Deadfire is dense, and it isn't a small game, easily dwarfing its predecessor in terms of scale. There's a lot to do, and it's easier than ever to get lost in the little stories you find, without following the arcs that the game has specially set out for you. Still, it's worth taking your time. The richness of Deadfire takes a while to appreciate, and like the brined sailors that call it come, you'll be left with an indelible attachment to these islands when you do finally step away.

Categories: Games

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