Games

Taking To The Open Seas

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 21:40

When Skull & Bones debuted at E3 2017, fans heralded it as the full pirate experience of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag without taking any breaks from the naval action. As Joe Juba pointed out when he played it last E3, it's more than just Black Flag without the assassination bits.

The core concept is the same: Captain your ship as you take on enemy vessels and loot debris. More mechanics come into play with Skull & Bones, however. From choosing different ship classes to enhanced wind effects, Skull & Bones requires players to think more about their approaches when setting sail. Spotting and assessing enemies on the horizon is crucial, as you learn what valuable resources they're hauling, as well as how dangerous they are.

The demo I played features ships ranging from level 14 to level 18. Knowing this, I target some of the lower level ships and loot them. Much to my surprise, some of them put up a good fight. The battle intensifies as the lowly level 14 I'm picking on calls his buddies to help out. Before long, I'm cannon fodder as three ships swarm me. I turn the direction of the wind, open my sails, and do the one thing I can do: flee.

After my narrow escape, I take some time to use one of my consumable repair kits. A short cutscene shows my crew repairing the ship and my HP raises once more. However, this leaves me in a precarious situation with no safety net for another rough fight. Using my lookout, I find a shipwreck to scavenge from. Upon arrival, I'm given the choice to loot for treasure, steal the ship's flags as disguise, or take materials to build a repair kit. I'm intrigued by the disguise option, but I'm in dire need of a repair kit, so I choose that.

 

However, I want to see how the disguise option works, so I seek out another shipwreck. This time, I take up an opposing fleet's sails and flags. When in disguise, their allies will be friendly to me, and their enemies won't hesitate to open fire. Knowing this, I decide to use my disguise to get a drop on a high-level ship. I sneak up on an unsuspecting enemy and obliterate it with my cannons.

I've raised enough trouble to attract some unwanted attention: bounty hunters. These high-level ships are powerful, fast, and unrelenting. To combat them, I join up with another player in my session. This disables friendly fire, so I don't have to worry about getting caught in their crossfire or the sting of betrayal.

Even with our combined forces, we struggle in the battle. The bounty hunter ships begin by ganging up on me, knocking my health to dangerous depths. My teammate swoops in for the rescue, but I'm in no position to stay in the battle. I speed away toward the nearest shipwreck and retrieve another repair kit. I build my ship back up and rush back into battle.

The cycle of maintaining your ship while fighting off enemies and looting everything possible is exciting, and adds fun layers to the enjoyable naval combat.

Categories: Games

Gambit Trailer Shows Off The New Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 19:16

A new trailer for Destiny 2: Forsaken's hybrid PvPvE Gambit mode explains the game's rules. The team-based mode begins with players killing non-player enemies to collect motes, which players can deposit to earn points, slow the other team's progress, and invade the team's play area. Once a team scores enough points, they'll be able to fight a "Primevil" boss. If they kill it, they win.

To read our thoughts on Gambit and the other changes Forsaken is bringing to Destiny 2, check out Suriel Vasquez's hands-on impressions.

Categories: Games

We Get A New, Extended Look At The Snowy Wasteland

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 19:09

The last we heard of Metro: Exodus, the snowy Russian FPS's release date was revealed. Today, Deep Silver released a lengthy video that showcased Metro's lengthy first sandbox space, a snowy wasteland filled with cultists and big mutated fish, and a look at stealth gameplay, the intricate weapons customization system, and how scavenging works.

The video runs about 17 minutes long and features a good, comprehensive look at combat as well as some of Exodus' side activities. You can watch the whole thing right here:

For more on Metro: Exodus, be sure to check out our cover story hub on the game here.

Categories: Games

5 Things We Love About This Frenzied Shooter

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 18:30

We recently had the chance to fly to Sweden to check out RAGE 2 at Avalanche studios and get a taste of the fruit the budding relationship between Avalanche and Id Software has borne. To say it plainly: we came away pretty impressed with what we played.

Here's what we liked most about our brief hands-on with this unexpected sequel.

Rage 2 has a strong identity thanks to its combat
Cast aside the easy Borderlands comparisons. Rage 2's gunplay stands apart thanks to the strength of Id Software's classic combat. Shotgun blasts blow enemies across the yard and the powers at your disposal, like dashing or throwing enemies around with telekinetic blasts, make the action rhythmic and exhilarating. A surprisingly detailed dismemberment system as well as combo meter that lets you enter a near invulnerable state after you've killed enough enemies quickly also makes every combat encounter memorable in the most grisly way imaginable.

The music is the perfect complement for the wacky action
Andrew WK showed up at Bethesda's E3 conference for a memorable performance that opened the whole thing. However, let's not let this overshadow that Rage 2's soundtrack, or at least what we've heard of it while playing the demo, is pretty great, with wailing guitars and thumping beats that drives the intensity of combat.

The environments are desolate and beautiful
A far cry from the dusty wasteland of Mad Max, the interiors and wrecked bases we saw in our demo left  a strong impression, cementing the idea that people had lived in these places at one time. The environments we saw in the demo footage were also varied, showcasing swamps, beautiful forests, and the dark depths of military complexes.

The wingstick is rad
The wingstick returns from the original Rage and is upgreadable, but even without functioning as an explosive boomerang the stick is enjoyable to use. I chuckled quite bit to myself watching as the Krull-like instrument of doom slapped foes in their silly faces repeatedly.

Enemy designs are great
If you're worried you're going to be spending the entirety of Rage 2 shooting bandits, don't be. The various monsters we came across in Rage 2 included disfigured cyborg flesh bots that shot lasers at us and had jumpjets as well as a giant mutant wearing a football helmet. Not only are these encounters wacky but each of them requires you to use different, strategic combinations of your powers to overcome foes.

There's still some things we're concerned about when it comes to Rage 2, namely that we haven't seen or played through any of the open-world segments, and that the writing we witnessed in the demo was subpar. However, at its core Rage 2 has a brilliant combat loop reminiscent of Bulletstorm and the  2016 version of Doom that puts bloody and wacky acrobatics first and is all the more memorable for that reason. We look forward to seeing how Rage 2 shapes up in development and hope that the open-world part of the game matches the promise of its close-quarters combat.

Categories: Games

New Screenshots Showcase The Campaign, Gambit, And Gear

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 18:10
  Campaign PS4 A Darker Tale

Players will set out on a new journey with Cayde-6 to stop a breakout at the Prison of Elders orchestrated by Uldren Sov, the prince of the Awoken. Cayde is killed in your attempt to seal the Barons away once again, and you set out on a quest for revenge, alone in the Reef and away from the Vanguard's oversight. These screens showcase a number of new weapons, powers, characters and locations such as The Tangled Shore.

  Campaign PC  Taking matters into your own hands

After the Red War against Ghaul, the Reef has been decimated, becoming completely lawless.  The area is now a frontier where players will embark on a mission of vengeance against Uldren Vos. A bigger threat looms as well, one that could threaten the people of the Awoken. 

  Concept Art Setting The Tone

Forsaken's art showcases the new darker tone for the expansion, with gear taking on the flavor of a western vibe. We also get a glimpse of the Reef and some of the villains we'll be facing. 

  Gambit Taking a chance

Gambit is the wild new mode that mixes pvp and pve for the first time in Destiny 2. Our new preview states that it "offers a promising glimpse of what Year 2 of Destiny 2 could bring" and the mode looks to be something entirely new to the series and should really mix up the multiplayer options in Forsaken. Gambit involves two teams of 4 players taking the fight to the enemy while disrupting the enemy team by sending in combat blockers to sow chaos. 

  Gear Guns, Gear, And Glory

Destiny 2 wouldn't be anything without a boatload of new guns, armor and gear to collect and play with.  Forsaken has a whole new weapon archetype with the legendary bow, and a ton of new exotics; these, along with the new weapon slot system, should provide tons of options for players. The bow should really help you mix things up in the Crucible, and I hope Shaxx will have all sorts of new one-liners about your capabilities as an archer. 

  Characters Familiar Faces

Petra and Cayde return, along with Uldren Sov from the original game, and the new Gambit vendor. There are also the Barons, your enemies and the most wanted criminals in the galaxy, held at the Prison of Elders. 

 

 

Destiny 2: Forsaken will be out September 4 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The expansion will be $39.99 (USD). The annual pass will contain the next three content drops and Forsaken for $69.99(USD) and more skews will be available closer to launch for players looking to purchase the game, along with the previous expansions and Forsaken.

Categories: Games

Killer Queen Black Is A Killer Game

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 17:24

The hit arcade game Killer Queen is coming to Switch as Killer Queen Black. The game is designed to be played in teams as insect-like creatures battle to win via a couple of different win conditions. Each team is led by a powerful Queen, and they try to be the first to bring the giant snail towards a goal, or fill their hive with nectar, or execute a triple assassination of the enemy’s Queen. It’s a little complicated.

If you haven’t played it, just know that it’s really cool. Fortunately, more people will get to play the game for themselves. Killer Queen Black launches on Switch on August 7, and will feature wireless, local, and online play.

Categories: Games

Boss Fights, Secrets, And More City Details

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 05:21

Minutes after Sony's E3 press conference concluded, I was whisked away to a room to check out a new playable demo of Insomniac Games' Spider-Man. I fully expected to play through the same sequence that was just shown at the presser, but Insomniac surprised me with a 15-minute slice of web-swinging goodness that begins with open-world exploration and concludes with our first look at a boss fight.

In Game Informer's May cover story, I talked briefly about Spider-Man interrupting a bank robbery being conducted by Shocker. Spidey exchanged pleasantries with him, but the screen faded to black before I could see what happened next.

Guess what? Their banter ends in an epic fight that destroys most of the bank. I bet you didn't see that coming. In this new demo, which is an updated version of open-world section I saw during my cover trip, I played through this conflict and found it to be good fun in a highly repeatable way. The battle becomes harder as it goes, and Shocker's attacks change a bit, but it turns out he doesn't have many tricks up his sleeves, and the main strategy is to dodge his energy blasts. This action takes some skill, and requires the player to tap the circle button at the precise moment to dodge the powerful energy beam that Herman propels out of his vibro-shock gloves. After a few jolts tear apart the bank, Shocker tires himself out, creating a short window for Spider-Man to land a few punches, and then attach a couple of web lines to a large chunk of debris, which is then hurled at great speeds at him.

It turns out Herman doesn't like getting hit in the head by concrete, and grows more irritated as the fight progresses. His anger leads to a second attack: an AOE shockwave that ripples toward Spidey. After unleashing a couple of these attacks, Shocker again takes a breather, which again ends with a rock hitting him in the head.

Shocker's speed picks up in the final part of the battle. To quell his rage, Spidey must perform a little destruction of his own on the bank. With no debris left to throw, Spider-Man frees the remaining pieces of pillars from the ceiling to smash into Shocker. This action is a little tougher, and requires the player to jam on the Square button to free the projectile in time. There's some excitement here. If you are too slow, Shocker has a clean shot at you, as you're left entirely vulnerable with two webs stuck to the pillar.

The fight concludes with a cool cinematic sequence with Spidey twirling through the air and Shocker, well, you'll have to play the game to find out.

I chose to talk about the final part of the demo first for a reason. Since I already played the open-world section for the cover story, I decided to use my time in the city in a different way. I began by trying to look inside as many buildings as possible. I was surprised to see most of the ground-level buildings feature nicely detailed interiors. Some of them have blurry glass that obscures the objects inside, but you can still see stuff is there. Most of the windows, however, are crystal clear, giving the player the opportunity to stop to view shops filled with goods, restaurants with tables, and more. One window I looked through held a shelf with three action figures on it. Two of these figures were of Spider-Man, one in the classic suit, and the other in what appeared to be the black suit (go ahead and freak out). The third figure was someone in a suit that appeared to have blue skin.

I also did a little people watching. Some city sidewalks were crowded with dozens of city walkers. The density in these sections is impressive. In an area like this, if Spider-Man does anything aggressive, like spin a manhole cover over his head, most of the people hit the ground out of fear. It's a hilarious thing to see. Since I enjoyed watching them fall to the ground so much, I moved a block over and did the same thing, but this time with a trash can. To my surprise, when I flung it forward, it knocked a man down. At first I thought Insomniac changed its stance on Spider-Man not being able to harm civilians, but then he pulled a gun on me. It turns out he was a mugger that I unearthed just by messing around.

My next city activity was learning the basics of wall crawling. I know a lot of you wanted to know if Spidey can slowly crawl along walls, and he totally can. All you have to do is jump into the wall and he attaches to it. Moving the analog stick makes him crawl, and pressing R2 will make him take off in a sprint. He will also attach to a wall if you web swing directly into it. After a brief moment of impact, he latches on in that pose you know oh so well.

The last thing I did was scale the Empire State Building all the way to the top. From this vantage point, I saw The Raft supermax prison on the east river. In the same snapshot sat Avengers Tower – which is just a couple of blocks off of the river.

Since this demo doesn't have all of the content or missions we'll be able to unearth, the Empire State Building could be some kind of destination. At the very outset of my play time, one of the tutorials has Spider-Man ascend to the top of a tower. From this vantage point, the player is asked to press a button to scan the surroundings. Much like Assassin's Creed, the camera spins around Spidey, highlighting all of the nearby activities along the way. It's a nice little way of showing what is around you, but I don't know if you have to do this to make them appear, or if Spider-Man can just stumble upon them on his own. I'm guessing it's the latter, but we'll have to wait until the game ships on September 7 to find out the answers to all of our little questions.

I had a blast returning to this game world, and found web swinging to be every bit as satisfying as before. Even with the release date just a couple of months away, Insomniac is keeping much of the game under lock and key. What could they be hiding? I can't wait to find out.

Categories: Games

What We Think We Figured Out From The Death Stranding E3 Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 04:25

Death Stranding made a big, if mysterious, impression when it was shown in 2016, and the game's new trailer at Sony's press conference has shed a little more light (we think) on the game.

Meet Sam Porter Bridges

He's a delivery man (Porter. Get it?). On foot. Shlepping containers (even what looks like a dead/suspended body) across great distances and stunning landscapes, Bridges endures great hardships as he scales mountains, is almost drown, and has to peel off one of his toe nails – the usual occupational hazards.

Surely this is part of your moment-to-moment gameplay. If we know Kojima, we can expect this otherwise mundane-sounding loop to surely contain some resource management gameplay or clever survival elements. At times he has an anti-gravity sled that lightens the load. We sure hope you earn this early on.

At one point it looks like he has a larger vehicle carrying cargo which ends up sliding over a cliff. That sucks.

Invisible Enemies Are Never Any Fun

Sam can sense when powerful invisible, levitating netherworld black shadows are near. Shadows that are brought on by the rain. He knows when they're near, but they don't seem to be able to always see him, triggering stealth gameplay. There are also invisible beings that produce animal-like footprints (and which can be avoided by keeping silent), but it's unclear if these are the same as the levitating shadows.

Bridges' delivery suit has a mounted projection peripheral that makes the shadow beings somewhat visible (he also brandishes a rifle at a different point in the trailer). Get caught and it produces a voidout, which Sam can come back from, but to the detriment of the world as a whole.

That Baby Sure is Creepy, But Useful

Coming back from a voidout is where the game's signature fetus perhaps comes into play.

Plugging in his fetus suspended in fluid (like a Kojima-brand Baby Bjorn), Sam tries to get by the shadow beings levitating in the rain. His mounted projection peripheral makes the shadows visible, but maybe it's the fetus that actually saves him. Despite Sam's resurrection, I bet there's a cost to getting sucked into the void, like losing resources or whatever you're delivering. Maybe this accounts for Sam appearing half-naked from time to time.

Time And Again

The past and the future are not disparate concepts in the game, whether that's Sam looking wistfully at a photo from long ago or the fact that he can come back from the dead after a voidout. Sam's sometimes companion (who seems to appear out of thin air!) played by actress Léa Seydoux eats maggots called crypto-bites (we think), which she says "keep the timefall away." The timefall "fast-forwards" whatever it touches. The rain associated with the shadow beings and voidout is also related to timefall. Do you lose a measure of time during a voidout?

The end of the trailer shows actress Lindsay Wagner, who looks younger than in the photo that Sam pines over earlier in the trailer. Is she a figment of Sam's imagination, an integral part of the timefall concept, proof that time is entirely fluid in the game, or all of the above?

Death Stranding's E3 2018 was vintage Kojima – posing intriguing questions, and was more substance than just form. The game is definitely coming along from its mysterious beginnings, and is proving to be more than just a free-form dream.

Categories: Games

Moonlighter Review: Open For Business

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 21:00

Dulcet tones and somber notes played in time represent the curious duality of Moonlight. It is, at once, a heroic adventure and the name of the subdued storefront that you alone run. Centered in the heart of a once-bustling town, all the greats, the audacious plunderers of dungeons that were sealed long ago, have died out. The markets and the merchants of your hamlet have all but vanished alongside them. Always looking to the horizon, you see what could be--in both yourself and the town--and set out to claim your glory and bring riches back from the depths of dangerous dungeons.

On first pass, that's a tall ask, and one that doesn't necessarily fit together the way you might think. This isn't quite the same as saving a town the way you might in a classical Zelda game --though references to those nascent adventures abound. Instead, your eye is on unearthing the depths of five dungeons that lie just north of town. Each is like a world unto itself, and getting into and out of these spaces is often a feat--made that much more treacherous by the monsters that inhabit them. Still, the depths hold untold riches, artifacts, and supplies that were once essential for trade.

The balance that Moonlighter strikes then, is tasking you with battling beasts and carefully collecting trophies and supplies based on the needs of the people in your town. Instead of gathering loot and hauling it back to a shopkeep as one does in just about every similar adventure, you're on both ends of the equation and the way that your two pursuits play into one another essentially is the game.

You'll need to mindful of supply and demand and as well as good tips and gear for adventuring. Dodging monsters to jab their weak spot, before hopping away and nabbing their leavings is a regular cycle. But that, in itself, hides a lot of the nuance on offer. Prying the core of a mechanized stone golem and bringing it back to town will fetch a tidy price--but only a few times. People don't know how to use them, per se, nor do they really need that particular item. It's neat (and rare), but that's all, really.

Add to it the fact that few have seen such trinkets since heroes swarmed through these dungeons, and that immediately complicates the equation. You don't know what the value of it really is, because you're the shopkeep. It's worth what others will pay. So it falls to you to make educated guesses, learn from your customers reactions and hope that your initial prices aren't so low that you're getting ripped off or so high that customers balk and walk off.

Those same assessments follow with every item you plunder, meaning that you're always working the numbers, figuring out what you can carry up, and how it's going to affect your bottom line. This also keeps you from always gathering up the most valuable items. If you only grab the best loot, you'll quickly flood the market and bottom out your sales, and the same goes in reverse for the most basic stuff. Wood and vines can be valuable (though rarely). And all that calculus compounds when you begin examining the supplies you'll need for your own gear. Potions and new equipment don’t make themselves. Indeed, when you start, none of those types of facilities are even available in town.

This ties a lot of the game's progression directly into your choices, and gives you a powerful through line and a sense of thematic goals that tie into your physical journey. That feeling is fantastic, and grows every time you think back to the sparse hamlet you began with, and track just how far your adventure and the arc of the town itself join and progress together.

Saccharine melodies that playfully evoke the 16-bit era help sell the narrative as well. Few openers are as immediately alluring as Moonlighter’s theme. Melancholic notes blends with the sweet sounds of your hamlet, filling you with a sense of loss--for what your town once was. Because of the aesthetics, many of those feelings also get blended with kernels of nostalgia, particularly for those fond of the Super Nintendo era.

Bright colors, and a sharp aesthetic are backed with crisp animations that not only sell the world, but help it breathe. Fireflies drift about town, settling near trees, illuminating the wooden giants. Down in the dungeons, spiders and moths flitter to and fro, while your battles with golems and monsters play out.

Now at this point you may have noticed that there not much has been said about the combat. And sadly, that's because it's the weaker half of this outing. There are five distinct dungeons, each with their own environments, foes, and array of tricks and traps to throw your way. But across them all, you use the same core movement--and it consists of two types of moves and a dodge. If you've got finesse, you can string some actions together, though. You can attack with one weapon, dodge, quickly switch, and then resume the onslaught. Or switch between a sword and shield for defense (where the secondary "move" would be a block), and a more offensive weapon. But that's generally the sum total of your combat choices. Combat, then, is thin and there's only so much that can be done with massively varied environments and a limited pool of combat techniques.

None of this to say that battles in Moonlighter are bad. Far from it. What it manages with those limited sets is quite impressive, and there will be plenty of moments when you dodge over bottomless pits that line a snaking path to approach an enemy from a novel angle. But they aren't common enough or varied enough to really get the full potential of what's here.

In some ways, the same could be said of the keeping the shop running at peak efficiency, but there's enough interplay with managing your limited baggage space and just enough anchored in supply-and-demand systems that it comes together nicely. It's a shame, then that Moonlighter's also a bit on the short end, as some of these ideas would do well with simply more--but then the combat would like thin out even more. Still, what's here is refreshing, and the balance struck between crawling through dungeons and working with the economics of the town are a good combo while it lasts.

Categories: Games

Grand Operations Is A Promising Evolution Of Battlefield Multiplayer

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 20:06

Many Battlefield veterans groaned when DICE announced the new battle royale mode coming to the next entry in the series. Whatever you feel about trend-chasing inarguably the most popular multiplayer mode on the planet right now, it doesn't appear to be coming at the cost of the core Battlefield multiplayer modes that stress teamwork and communication. We got a chance to go hands-on with a slightly modified version of the new Grand Operations mode at EA Play, and came away with a better understanding of how DICE plans to evolve these long-form matches. 

If you read our preview from our Battlefield V first look, you already know that Grand Operations is the next evolution of the Operations mode introduced in Battlefield 1. This time, DICE plans to incorporate various modes into the sequential rounds of the long-form matches as well as switch out maps. For instance, the attackers may parachute behind enemy lines to take out artillery in the first round, then transition into a classic control point experience for the second round, move to a new map in the third round, and possibly face a resource-starved last stand for the final round where once your squad is wiped you can no longer respawn. That's the way the first Grand Operations map plays out during the battle of Narvik in Norway. To get us more quickly through the mode, the version at EA Play took place on an accelerated clock, with only two truncated rounds. It also didn't include the new squad-points system where the squad leader can spend acquire supply drops, smokescreens, or even V1 rockets to deploy if they save up enough.  

Like Operations before it, Grand Operations comes with a slight story wrapping that gives you the context for the war and outlines what's at stake. For this battle, the Allied forces hope to airdrop in and recapture a vital port that gives the Germans access to a critical supply route. I played rounds on both sides of the war to get a better understanding of all the new tools DICE gives soldiers in Battlefield V.

Dropping in as an Allied paratrooper is nerve-wracking when the artillery is firing in your direction. You can wait to time your drop further behind enemy lines, but this comes at the cost of potentially going down with the cargo plane if the Axis soldiers take aim and fire. If you drop early you won't face the same dire circumstance, but the Axis is in much better position to repel your advances. You must parachute into the map unless you can spawn on a squadmate on the ground. When you die, you can no longer skip the timer to avoid a potential revive. Now you have to wait it out, during which you have a 360-degree view of the area around your soldier. 

If you aren't revived, the game immediately transitions to an over-the-shoulder view of a teammate, which you can cycle between. If you prefer you can go back to the deploy screen to see if there are any unused vehicles, but this is no longer the default view unless your squad is wiped. I wish they had an indicator of whether there was an unused vehicle from the over-the-shoulder cam, but at the same time, I appreciate getting the lay of the land from this new perspective before spawning in. This should hopefully keep patient players from immediately dying upon spawning in. I also noticed the system seems to be tuned more conservatively so you can't immediately spawn on a teammate who is in combat. If implemented properly, it could cut down on the number of times you are firing on a lone soldier one second, and outnumbered by incoming squad spawns the next.

Once you land, you need a soldier to gather the charges necessary for detonating the artillery; you can't just walk up to them and destroy them without grabbing the explosives like you would an M-COM station in Rush mode. We managed to take out a couple installations before the map suddenly transitioned to another day in the battle. Here, the game tallied the number of objectives met and also takes into account how many soldiers were left standing that day. These numbers are then applied to your ticket count for the subsequent round. The next round played like a traditional operations mode, where we had to capture forward points to push the enemies back.

 

When I switched to the defensive side, I familiarized myself with the new fortification system available to all classes. Each soldier has a hammer they can equip to fortify their position. Once the tool is out, you can see outlines of potential building options around you. One area may allow you to throw down some sandbags, while another may create a thicker wall to give forward defenders better cover. Engineers can also build stationary weapon emplacements. This system is much more restrained than I expected; don't expect to build dramatic defensive positions like Fortnite or to create a sea of tank obstacles and sandbags.

The defenders can take up anti-air weapons, but the best options for repelling the early Allied advance are the giant artillery cannons. By running up to these giant installations and interacting with it, you can fire these devastating shells at the approaching aircraft and take out the paratroopers before they even drop. The massive cannons take a while to reload, which gives you time to run over to another nearby artillery emplacement if it's unattended. I racked up several kills using this method. 

The fortification system and more modest amount of starting ammo both change the rhythm of play. When you clear out one set of advancing soldiers and have a minute, it's smart to reinforce your position or run back to an ammo supply point to stock up. You have enough clips to take out a few soldiers, but I found myself running out of ammo way more than in previous Battlefield games. Requesting that a squad member drop ammo bags wherever you set up is a smart call. The same goes for medic packs considering you no longer regeneration full health by staying out of the crossfire.

It's tough to get a full assessment of general gameplay during such brief hands-on sessions, but I did like a few changes. The new movement system produces more realistic animations, the destructibility looks more realistic,  and the recalibrated guns feel much more predictable once you figure out their characteristics.

The brief time I had playing Battlefield V was fun; this is still one of my most anticipated shooters of the year. But many questions linger about just how much content will be in the game at launch. DICE isn't talking numbers, but senior producer Andreas Morell told me the maps are going to release sequentially adhering to the World War II timeline over the course of Battlefield V's life. This means we won't be potentially storming the beaches of Iwo Jima or revisiting Wake Island (which seems like a no-brainer) any time soon without booting up the backward compatible version of Battlefield 1943. Does this mean we're getting a much smaller selection of maps off the bat? Time will tell.

The Battlefield V Play First trial begins October 11 on Xbox One and PC. Players who buy the deluxe edition can join the fray on October 16, and the standard edition launches on October 19 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Coming Back With Promise

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 17:00

The first Valkyria Chronicles was a cult hit, tantalizing strategy/RPG fans with its beautiful, watercolor-like graphics and hard-fought battles. Since then, the series has meandered along with PSP sequels and the misguided spin-off, Valkyria Revolution. Valkyria Chronicles 4 looks to be a return to form, mirroring the first game, but widening the scope and enhancing combat options. I recently went hands-on with the game, and am happy to report I got so absorbed I didn’t want to stop playing.

In Valkyria Chronicles 4, you play as Claude Wallace, who chronicles in a journal the history of the second Europan War. Claude is a determined lieutenant of Squad E, but isn’t calm or collected. Claude’s hands shake before the first battle, talking about how his squad couldn’t see what the war would cost them. “This is still a tale of war, sacrifice, and conflicted loyalties,” says associate producer Andrew Davis. “As Federation forces press onward in their last-ditch attempt to take the Imperial capital, the members of Squad E will face questions that challenge their view of the world. What is an acceptable cost of victory? Is the enemy of your enemy your friend?”

The story is set concurrently with the same struggle for control over Europa as Valkyria Chronicles 1 and 3. “The game doesn't depend on any knowledge of the previous titles, but there are a few references to events of Valkyria Chronicles 1 that will serve as little ‘Aha!’ moments for longtime fans and tie the timelines together,” Davis says. For die-hard fans looking for connections to previous games, David says the optional DLC stories take care of that. He gives the examples of one focusing on fan-favorite Valkyria Selvaria, while another that features a joint operation with the Gallian militia, where Valkyria Chronicles 1's Squad 7 show off their tank skills. 

My demo played very similarly to the original game; you use action points to move your individual units for superior positioning. This may mean hiding along an enemy’s path, where they’ll likely venture on their turn, ready to ambush them. You can take down opponents quickly by targeting their weak points, such as using your sniper to land a headshot or attacking the engine ports of a tank. New to this entry is an armored personnel carrier, which units can climb aboard for safekeeping while traversing the battlefield.

A new sequence called “Last Stand,” triggers as a soldier is close to death, giving you the chance to choose one final action, such as activating a counterattack or giving a squadmate a stat boost and the commander an extra command point. “The unit will still collapse afterwards and require evacuation, but Last Stands are a dramatic way to ensure their sacrifice wasn't in vain,” Davis says.

The Grenadier is the only new class in the game, but according to Davis it’s one of the most significant combat additions. I noticed this quickly in my demo, as the class carries a heavy mortar and launches explosives. You must line up your attacks accordingly, lobbing them in an arc; they can take out groups of enemies with one hit, even those hiding behind walls. “While [Grenadiers] are relatively mobile, it takes them some time to transition from ‘ready to move’ stance and ‘ready to fire’ stance, due to the complicated mortar setup process,” Davis explains. This leaves the units defenseless for a bit, so it’s better to keep them in the back with your supports.

The power of "Orders" from Valkyria Chronicles 1 is back. This allows squad commanders to dish out directives that temporarily buff or protect the squad. However, new to Valkyria Chronicles 4 is your own naval vessel to use "Ship Orders." These provide powerful abilities like revealing an enemy's location and bombardment by the ship's artillery. 

During your battles, you also meet a large cast of squad members with distinct personalities, allowing you to form relationships that affect their performance. Returning are “Potentials,” traits that provide buffs and debuffs, giving each character their own unique charm. For example, Tank Freak gives one character a defensive boost when he’s near a tank, while another nature-loving character receives a lowered defense on roads due to his “Child of Nature” trait. Returning from the PSP iterations are Squad Stories, snippets of story that flesh out characters, culminating in optional side missions designed around these allies. Completing these missions bolster their Potentials, even turning negative traits into bonuses or providing co-op attacks.

Playing Valkyria Chronicles 4 only made me more excited for its release. It feels like the journey I’ve been pining for since the original; it stays true to what made the series unique, while also providing new elements to enhance the strategy experience.

 
Categories: Games

Now For Something Completely Different

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 05:32

Since the original series ended in 2015, fans of Life is Strange have been clamoring for a sequel. Their desires were somewhat answered with a prequel called Before The Storm that focused on troublemaker Chloe Price and her relationship with Rachel Amber. However, Dontnod is ramping up for a proper sequel and you’ll get a taste of what they have in mind even sooner than you probably except.

On June 26, the Dontnod and Square Enix will release a standalone “Life is Strange universe” game called The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit. “Life is Strange is more than just Chloe and Max or any other character,” creative director Jean-Maxime Moris told me during a demo of the game, revealing that Captain Spirit doesn’t function as a prologue or necessarily even a traditional bridge between Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2. However, choices that you make in Captain Spirit do have some kind of effect on the events of Life is Strange 2.

So if Chloe and Max aren’t part of the picture, just who is the star of Captain Spirit? The game opens by zooming through a snowy neighborhood that looked like a far cry from Arcadia Bay and through the window of a 10 year old boy named Chris playing with starships. Clever camera work makes it appear that Chris is actually using some kind of telekinetic powers to move the ship when he’s actually using both his hands, a gotcha tease that lets you know that Captain Spirit has Life Is Strange’s DNA in it, but it’s not restrained by the legacy of the first series.

After that short introduction, you spend the rest of the game exploring the house, talking with your drunk father as he watches a football game and then performing a list of heroic deeds that Chris needs to complete, like flipping on the water heater. Yes, this list is mostly chores, but Chris’ imagination is a powerful one and so is his sense of drama. With each task, the game bends space and time, often transporting our 10-year-old to different universes in his mind. The water heater I mentioned earlier? It transforms into a giant smog monster that Chris has to defeat by turning into his alter ego, Captain Spirit.

Interactions in the game follow the mold from the original game, with you passing by objects and having various actions you can do with them, like picking up a plastic toy or turning on the television. However, a number of options have an option where you can press your trigger button and have Chris perform a super heroic deed, which often culminates an amusing scene. For example, there’s a scene where Chris turns off the television by aiming his hand at it, implying telekinetic powers, while dramatic music blares. A second after the screen switches off, the camera pans right to reveal Chris holding the controller in his hand behind his back.

The Amazing Adventures of Captain Spirit is very good about presenting an entertaining portrait of a child delving into his imagination to escape harsh reality. As Chris wanders around the house and yard, completing chores and assembling his heroic costume, there’s a sense of tragedy that bleeds into the sidelines of the game, one that’s kept at bay by the power of Chris’ mind.

Dontnod says there’s over two hours of content in The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit. From what I saw in my demo, I believe them. Nearly every item in the environment, from refrigerator magnets to toys, had some level of interaction, and a few callbacks to the original Life Is Strange (including a letter from Blackwell Academy) will no doubt keep fans investigating for a while.

The standalone game releases for free on June 26 for PS4, Xbox One, PC.

Categories: Games

Riding The Wind

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 05:14

Just Cause once again puts in the shoes of covert operative Rico Rodriguez with higher stakes and deadlier tools than ever before in its fourth entry. This time he’s taking on The Black Hand, a deadly mercenary group in South America. Rico’s arsenal of tools has been greatly expanded, with the famous grapple from Just Cause 3 being revised to include mutators that let the player adjust the strength of the connection between two objects so that you can use literal dumpsters to smash enemies or even attach boosters to objects so they go careening in wild directions to function as battering rams or launched explosives.

We recently had the chance to watch a demo of the game behind closed doors to see what the fourth game has up its sleeve. The answer? A lot of destruction.


A new element to the series is unpredictable, deadly weather that poses a serious threat to you, as well as your enemies. Tornadoes rage across the land in Just Cause 4, tearing everything they come across to shreds and throwing bridges, vehicles, and people all over the place. I watched as one jet fighter was sucked into the tornado and thrown into a mountainside. This wasn’t a cutscene but instead a moment born from the game's systems.


“We were thinking about how to make the wind suit feel more physical,” says Game Director Francesco Antolini of the extreme weather system’s genesis, “so we built a prototype and the wind was nice but not really over the top. So the next question was ‘How do we make wind over the top?’ We make it fast. We make it a tornado.”


Avalanche and Square Enix weren’t ready to talk story, but they did showcase the antagonist of the game, Gabriella, who leads The Black Hand. They also briefly showed an army element of the game, where the forces that Rico builds up through Just Cause 4 will often be found engaging The Black Hand naturally in the world in battle.


During our preview, Avalanche talked about how this entry was going to try to flesh out Rico as a character because feedback from the Just Cause community has often been about his character development. “There’s been an evolution of that character. Where Rico began as an avatar for players to flood with their action fantasies, it’s clear as we move towards 2018 that people want to get to know the character they’re playing as,” says narrative designer Omar Shakir. The big challenge, Shakir says, is uniting all the disciplines of the game, making sure that the combat is challenging in a way that reinforces and reflects the personal challenges that Rico himself faces.


Just Cause 4 will be out December 4 for PS4, Xbox One, PC. For more on Just Cause, be sure to check out our review of the third game here.

 
Categories: Games

20 New Fallout 76 Details From Bethesda's E3 Press Conference

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 04:16

After weeks of rumors and teases, Bethesda pulled back the curtain on Fallout 76, offering up a lengthy look at the game during its E3 2018 press conference.

Bethesda teased its Fallout 76 reveal earlier today during Microsoft’s press conference, announcing that it is a prequel to the previous Fallout games and is set in West Virginia in a world four times the size of Fallout 4. Todd Howard continued the string of new details tonight during its own press conference. Here are the big takeaways:

  • Players will play as the first vault members to emerge after the bombs dropped.
  • Vault 76 was built to celebrate the tricentenary, the 300th anniversary of the United States, and is even more patriotic than Vault-Tec’s other vaults.
  • The survivors in Vault 76 have been waiting 25 years for Reclamation Day, the day the vault opens. The demo suggests the vault had a major party the night before Reclamation Day, and that the player woke up after everyone else had already left.
  • Fallout 76 features all-new rendering, lighting, and landscape tools, which sport 16 times the detail of previous games.
  • The engine offers so much detail that you can see distant weather systems in areas across the map.
  • The Overseer of Vault 76 sends players on a quest through six regions in the world, each with distinct styles and rewards.
  • Players will run into a host of different enemies not seen in previous Fallout games. The demo was filled with all kinds of weird creatures, including an enormous sloth and a crablike creature with a giant hornet’s nest on its back, and a huge bat called a Scorchbeast.
  • Howard says Bethesda has always wanted to tell the story of the first people who left the vault. The difference is this time each of the characters is a real person. Fallout 76 is an entirely online game.
  • That said, Howard assures the audience that you can “of course play [Fallout 76] solo.” Howard says single-player games have always been hugely important to Bethesda, and they aren’t going to change that.
  • Howard says Bethesda got the idea for Fallout 76’s multiplayer four years ago.
  • Howard referred to Fallout 76 as “softcore survival” compared to previous survival modes in other Bethesda games, and that death won’t result in the loss of progress.
  • Contrary to other online games, you’ll never see any game servers while playing Fallout 76.
  • Fallout 76 will have smaller player counts. “You’ll be in the world with dozens, not hundreds of players,” Howard says. “It’s the apocalypse, not an amusement park, okay?”
  • Howard says you can play with your friends whenever you want, and all of your progression will travel with you.
  • Howard says that by creating a world with very few rules, players will have more impact over the world than ever before. “You’ll decide the heroes and you’ll decide the villains.”
  • Building is back in Fallout 76, but you can now build wherever you want. The demo showed custom camps complete with automated turrets, a variety of shelters and living space, and outhouses.
  • Fallout 76 has multiple nuclear missile sites on the map. Groups of players can take down NPC characters guarding the areas to get snippets of the launch codes. Once they complete the code together, they can input them into the mainframe and then launch the missile to nuke an area of their choice on the map. Players can then go into the blast site and collect rewards – if they can survive the nuclear fallout.
  • Fallout 76 runs 100% on dedicated servers.
  • Bethesda is holding a B.E.T.A. for Fallout 76, which in Vault-Tec acronyms stands for Break-it Early Test Application. Howard also poked fun at Bethesda’s history of buggy games.
  • Howard closed out the presentation with a surprise release date announcement: Fallout 76 is coming out November 14 of this year.  

You can watch the official E4 trailer for Fallout 76 below, and be sure to come back to gameinformer.com later in the week for our impressions from the showfloor.

 

Categories: Games

Finding The Right Scheme

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 19:45

Putting together a good NFL roster – to say nothing of one that can win a Super Bowl – is very hard. Head Coaches and GMs have to have a philosophy in place and know which players, whether that’s big-name veterans or late-round draft picks, can fill their expected roles. Madden 19’s franchise mode is trying to replicate the way NFL teams put together their rosters and how it affects the players in a new scheme/player archetypes and progression system for Connected Franchise Mode.

Each team has an offensive and defensive scheme (which can be changed), and players fit into these schemes via player archetypes. Like previous years, as you play you earn XP for your on-the-field actions. These get you skill points, which can be applied to the specific player archetypes that apply to that player, like being a Strong Arm QB. Doing this raises the OVR in that archetype a full point and raises random ratings assigned to that archetype.

Players get XP bonuses for playing in the schemes that are appropriate to their player archetype, but playing in the wrong scheme does not make your player worse – it just doesn’t make them progress as fast.

So as you assemble your team for the season and envision what it’s going to look like years down the road, you can maximize the talents of role players that fit into your scheme, sign free agents that have appropriate skills and not just the highest OVR, and have a better idea of who to scout and target for the draft. You can also reverse engineer your team like changing your scheme and the players on your team to build around a QB that unexpectedly fell to you in the draft, for example.

Gamers might have some interesting choices to make. Do you start a good vet around who doesn't fit the scheme, or do you give his spot to the rookie who does? The former may have better stats, but the latter will benefit from being a scheme fit and progress faster.

Here's how it works, as well as details on some other changes for Franchise mode.

SCHEMES

  • EA created eight offensive schemes and six defensive ones:
    • Offense: Spread, West Coast Zone Run, West Coast Power Run, Vertical Zone Run, Vertical Power Run, Multiple Power Run, Multiple Zone Run, Run and Shoot
    • Defense: Base 4-3, Multiple 4-3, Base 3-4, Multiple 3-4, Tampa 2, 46
  • If you want to change your team's playbook, you can see what schemes go with that playbook.
  • Visual indicators allow you to see a player's scheme fit, including while you're scouting for the draft.
The game surfaces how well a player or players fit into your schemes.

ARCHETYPES

  • Player Archetypes fit within the schemes, and there are up to four archetypes for each positional group. The QB archetypes, for example, are: Scrambler, Strong Arm, West Coast, and Field General. If you are running a vertical scheme, the archetype you'd be looking for is Strong Arm.
  • Each of the archetypes has its own internal formula that determines the attribute mix within that archetype.
  • Players whose archetype fits the team's scheme get XP bonuses, so they will gain new skill points faster, but there are no penalties for those who don't, and archetypes do not change a player's existing ratings.
  • Great overall players like Antonio Brown excel in multiple archetypes.
  • You can apply skill points into any archetype, so if a player doesn't fit the scheme off the bat, you can level the appropriate archetype to eventually make them fit the scheme. 
Many players fit into multiple archetypes.

PLAYER PROGRESSION

  • Players' archetypes fitting into their team's scheme doesn't modify players' ratings from game to game. Scheme fit players progress faster than those who doesn't.
  • When you apply a skill point to an archetype, you get a random bump in the archetype's appropriate ratings. This is based on weighted randomization and can change the next time you apply a skill point or do it with a different player. You cannot see what the outcome will be before you apply your skill point.
  • Why is it random, and why can't players grow the attributes the way they want? Senior designer John White says that players in online leagues would save up all their points and then dump them into an attribute like speed all at once. This, however, wouldn't change the player's OVR rating, creating an imbalance that threw off the game's free agent or resigning logic. "We would never rate a guy like people were able to build these guys," he said.
  • Traditional player traits like Clutch are not buyable, but are an innate part of the player from the start.
  • The Development Trait is changed; there is no more Slow development. It's Normal, Quick, Star, and Superstar. Superstar encompasses only 30-40 players in the league. This trait can evolve.
  • Weekly gameplanning and Focus Training stay the same.
  • Player regression has been overhauled and sounds like the progression system in reverse in that players won't automatically lose their speed, for example. It's also based on weighted randomization.

CUSTOM DRAFT CLASSES, NEW RATINGS, DRAFT DAY & MORE

  • Players can choose to use a custom draft class on week three of their franchise. This can be imported, created, or loaded.
  • If you create one, you'll start with one of the pre-made ones from EA Tiburon that are normally in the game, and then can edit as little or as much as you like.
  • You can create your own hidden draft gems and stash them in the lower rounds. "If you can imagine it,  you can draft it," says producer Ben Haumiller.
  • Madden 19 introduces new ratings for some positions – QB (Throw Under Pressure, Break Sack, and Break Tackle), WR (Short, Medium & Deep Route Running), and OL (Run Block Power/Finesse, Pass Block Power/Finesse, and Lead Block)
  • If you're a coach or owner in Franchise mode you'll see them in their office, complete with idle animations. If you're a player they'll be in the locker room.
  • Draft day has been reworked to feature a new draft location, complete with a stage with a crowd and a cityscape in the background. When you draft a player, you'll see that model come out on stage and even strike a pose.
  • You can take five or six snapshots from within games which will then be threaded through the mode's other menus, the news, and loading screen.
  • The team depth chart, like in Ultimate Team, contains special positions: Slot receiver, slot corner, rush defensive end, rush defensive tackle, power back, and sub linebacker.
  • You can choose your team captains, and you'll see the appropriate patches with their stars. Some teams don't have captain patches or only have them in the playoffs.
There are now specific depth chart spots for specialized positions like the slot receiver or corner.
Categories: Games

The Entire Fighting EX Layer Cast Comes To Battle

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 20:07

Fighting EX Layer, the newest fighting game by Japanese developer Arika, is coming out later this month. The new title combines Arika's original characters from previous games including Fighting Layer and Street Fighter EX.

You can check out the game's launch trailer up at the top.

Fighting EX Layer is purchasable in two flavors: a more expensive version with the entire roster and a "lite" version with fewer characters for a lower price. The game releases on PlayStation 4 on June 28.

Categories: Games

Latest Trailer Shows Off Locales And Beautiful Art

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:44

Indivisible, the crowdfunded turn-based RPG from the developers of Skull Girls, has a new trailer just ahead of E3 showing off the game's multiple environments.

Main character Ajna runs, jumps (and walljumps), and fights through a number of cool locales like Ashwat Forest, the cold and isolated Mount Sumeru, the dangerous Fortress Vimana, and more. The trailer shows off the gorgeous art and interesting battle system, as well.

Indivisible was originally scheduled for this year but was delayed to the first half of 2019. A new backer beta is also out today, but for everyone else, you should hopefully be able to get your hands on Indivisible next year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Categories: Games

Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido Review - Cartoon Cuisine Combat

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 17:00

Like many of Nintendo's most memorable video games, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido takes a seemingly mundane fixture of life and extrapolates it into a novel gameplay idea. In this case, co-developer Indieszero (Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, NES Remix) has built an action-puzzle game around conveyor-belt sushi, which serves as a vehicle for its match-three-style duels. And thanks to a knowingly zany presentation and regular stream of new mechanics, Sushi Striker is a fun and consuming puzzler unlike anything else currently on Switch, despite a few niggling issues.

Battling foes by throwing plates of sushi is an inherently silly premise, and Sushi Striker fully embraces the concept by wrapping it up in an even more ridiculous story. The game begins in the aftermath of the Sushi Struggles, a bitter war that took the parents of protagonist Musashi (who can be either a boy or girl) and resulted in the Empire gaining complete control over the world's sushi supply. As it happens, Musashi displays a preternatural gift for Sushi Striking--the ability to conjure plates of sushi and throw them in battle--and soon joins the Sushi Liberation Front, a Republic force fighting for the noble cause of sharing sushi with everyone. The tale only gets more absurd from there, but it remains delightfully charming throughout thanks to the hilarious writing and amusing anime cutscenes.

Musashi's journey encompasses more than 150 puzzle battles, which offer a novel and deceptively simple twist on match-three gameplay. The object of these is to link together plates of the same color as they whiz by on the conveyor belts in front of you, then throw those plates at your opponent to dish out damage. You have seven seconds to match plates; the more you're able to link up at once, the taller your stack will be, which in turn will inflict more damage when thrown. You can also chain together combos by throwing stacks of the same color consecutively, further racking up your score and increasing the amount of damage you deal.

As a result, battles are simultaneously frantic and strategic, as your success--particularly in the later stages of the game--hinges on effectively creating large stacks of plates before they disappear and chaining them into combos. The game also regularly introduces additional gameplay wrinkles as you progress through the story, which add further layers of complexity to battles and help keep the encounters fresh and exciting.

Chief among these are the Sushi Sprites--Pokemon-like magical creatures that can be called upon to unleash special skills. These abilities can be activated once you've eaten a sufficient amount of sushi, and they provide a temporary power that can help turn the tide of battle. One, for instance, imbues your plates with electricity, causing them to deal more damage; another turns all the plates on your lanes into the same color, allowing you to chain together a huge stack. There are more than 30 Sushi Sprites to collect in total, and experimenting with different combinations and devising the best way to leverage their abilities is one of the most satisfying aspects of the game.

On top of that, many battles introduce special capsule items, such as stopwatches or bombs. These randomly appear among the sushi and can be used against your opponent, provided you're able to link up the requisite number of plates before the item disappears. You can also outfit Musashi with different gears that alter the speed of your conveyor belts, as well as select a favorite variety of sushi; eat enough of it during a battle and it'll confer another passive ability, from an attack buff to health replenishment.

There's a lot to digest in Sushi Striker, but the game does a good job of parceling out new elements and gameplay ideas over the course of its single-player campaign, keeping it surprising and engaging for the majority of its duration. That said, the campaign does begin running out of steam toward the end. Later stages start to recycle earlier gimmicks without building on them (besides by imposing harsher restrictions), which results in some frustrating encounters. In particular, a stretch of late-game stages reintroduce wasabi plates. These temporarily stun you when eaten, slowing down the pace of the game considerably as you (often unsuccessfully) try to avoid grabbing them.

Likewise, while Sushi Striker generally plays well on Switch, it was clearly designed with the 3DS in mind, and the controls didn't translate quite as well to the hybrid console. You can play the game with either a controller or the console's touchscreen, but the latter is much better suited for the fast-paced gameplay. Using a control stick to toggle between different plates of sushi is imprecise and often frustrating, as you'll struggle to select the right plate as they roll by. Linking plates with the touchscreen, by contrast, feels more intuitive, although the game would still have benefited from the precision of a stylus.

Both the Switch and 3DS versions support local and online multiplayer, although curiously, these options need to be unlocked as you progress through the story, and there is no cross-play between platforms. In either case, you can take on rivals in two game types: Tasty Battles, the standard mode that only features sushi, and Chaos Battles, which throws capsule items into the mix as well. Additionally, the Switch version allows you to play locally on a single console. Multiplayer battles don't have the same element of surprise as the single-player encounters, but they're still fun and strategic, as you can test your best Sushi Sprite combinations out against other human players.

Despite its imperfect transition to Switch, Sushi Striker is one of the more enjoyable puzzle games in the console's library. With a substantial campaign that's propped up by clever mechanics and a charmingly ludicrous story, the game offers a wealth of single- and multiplayer content to dive into. The controls suffer a bit in the move to Switch, and the campaign is stretched out for too long, but the fast-paced puzzle-matching gameplay offers a surprising amount of depth and is a real treat.

Categories: Games

See Wonder Boy's Spiritual Successor In New Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 16:18

FDG Entertainment and Game Atelier are releasing a new game in the style of an old cult classic. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is being developed with help from Ryuichi Nishizawa, creator of the Wonder Boy in Monster World series. And now you can see the game in action in this all-new trailer.

The core gameplay of a morphing hero remains intact, though it looks leagues better than its 8-bit predecessors. As you can see in the trailer, it offers around 15 hours of platform-hopping and exploration. Look for it on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch this summer.

If you haven't played any of the Wonder Boy games before, you're in luck. Last year, DotEmu and Lizardcube remade Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, and it's available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Switch.

 
Categories: Games

West Of Loathing Review: The Wild Bunch

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 01:00

West of Loathing is not as simple as its art style might lead you to believe. Its black and white color palette, stick-figure characters, and crude hand-drawn art might appear to be devoid of personality. But in practice, its visual simplicity acts as a malleable canvas for its imagination to run away with reckless abandon. West of Loathing is an involved Western adventure game/RPG hybrid that embraces absolute absurdity with mechanical flexibility and comedic personality, making role-playing in its monochromatic old West thoroughly entertaining.

The backbone of the game is its jokes and ingrained humor. Every little thing in West of Loathing serves as either a punchline or the lead-up to one. It exists in the writing naturally--the main narrative involves a bizarre cataclysmic event involving demon cows and rodeo clowns. The flavor text is filled with irony and wordplay, and conversations with characters play out like short sketches. The sheer amount of jokes draws you into Loathing's crudely drawn and ludicrous world, but what's more impressive is that they rarely fall flat, and if they do, there's often another to draw your attention away immediately.

But West of Loathing's consistent sense of humor runs deeper, woven throughout your interactions and the game's menus and UI. Attempting to search spittoons for items will engage you in long lectures from the narrator as they attempt to stop you from doing so by describing, in great detail, how disgusting what you're trying to stick your hand into is. Choosing to playfully boast that "Sneaky" is your middle name will discreetly change your middle name on your character screen to just that. Searching a shelf and finding a book entitled "The Art of Silly Walking" will unlock a new character perk, which adds a new toggle in the game's system menu to visibly change the way your character moves in-game to everything from cartwheels to swimming. These are just a few very early examples of the game's sense of humor, but West of Loathing's commitment and follow-through on its jokes will surprise and delight you throughout its entire duration.

You begin the game by selecting from one of three different classes--farcical takes on familiar RPG character tropes. The Cow Puncher is a warrior-style class, the Bean Slinger uses legumes as a source of magic, and the Snake Oiler is the rogue equivalent. But although each class comes with their own set of unique skills, and a convenient option for auto-leveling will build out a nicely rounded character for you of that archetype, West of Loathing also allows you the flexibility of manually assigning experience points to build whatever kind of character you want. That means there's nothing stopping you from having a physically adept Bean Slinger who can also pick locks, or a Cow Puncher with a high moxie stat and the cunning required to outfox his opponents.

West of Loathing's combat consists of a simple turn-based system situated on a 3x6 grid. There are some small nuances to consider regarding positioning and using cover when facing opponents with ranged attacks, and a number of consumable items can be used in battle to cause various effects. But aside from the novelty of seeing the amusing enemy and ability designs in battle, combat is a straightforward affair.

What's more interesting about West of Loathing's mechanics is that it is as much of an adventure game as it is an RPG, and one of the by-products of this is that there are multiple solutions to any given problem--and there is nearly always a completely viable alternative to engaging in battle. Having the right item in your inventory (some of which have multiple uses both in and out of combat), enough points in a particular statistic, or certain abilities unlocked means that you can complete quests or resolve random encounters without violence and still get enough experience points to spend on character progression. If you don't have the goods to pass these skill checks when you first encounter an obstacle, West of Loathing allows you to come back later with the right stuff if you so desire; it doesn't force you into any combat situations without warning, and it's a very welcome, player-friendly decision.

There are a few minor issues--inventory management on Switch becomes cumbersome as you collect an increasing amount of things, fights with a lot of enemies can obscure some pertinent information, and the stakes sometimes feel a little too low to be completely motivating. But West of Loathing's focus on maintaining a flexible, open-ended nature and lighthearted, humorous feel keeps you engaged in what feels like an imaginative pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons campaign, led by a game master whose only goal is to make sure you're laughing and having a fun time. West of Loathing's visuals are monochromatic, but there's enjoyable comedy painted between every line, a pitch-perfect Spaghetti Western soundtrack, and a full spectrum of role-playing possibilities to choose from that make it a consistently enjoyable madcap cowboy jaunt.

Categories: Games

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