Games

Call of Cthulhu's New Gameplay Trailer Walks You Through A Spooky Mansion

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 16:15

Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios' take on HP Lovecraft's famous story is steadily slithering toward its October 30 release date, trickling out snippets of info as it goes. Today we got a look at some gameplay, with protagonist Edward Pierce exploring a spooky mansion.

You can watch the overview here:

For more on Lovecraft, check out Andrew Reiner's extensive write-up on all the Lovecraftian games on the horizon.

Categories: Games

The King's Bird Review: A Rocky Flight

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 16:00

There are moments of unfettered joy in A King’s Bird. As you glide through tight corridors or shinny up a long passageway to the heavens, the freedom of no longer being shackled by gravity takes hold. It’s during these stretches where the minimalist art and serene score combine beautifully with your graceful movements that A King’s Bird reaches its potential. But those feelings are fleeting. Instead of bottling the rush of flight, A King’s Bird instead conjures frustration and tedium as you struggle to replicate that brief happiness that vanishes before you could even appreciate it.

Although there is almost no story to speak of in A King’s Bird, it’s told in a lovely manner that meshes wonderfully with the abstract world. An argument between (presumably) a king and his daughter (though it’s never spelled out who any person is) breaks out, but instead of their harsh voices crashing against the pristine aesthetic, dreamy instrumental music floats from their mouths. The feelings are captured without a single word being uttered: a begging question, a firm no, a rush toward rebellion. The story sets an intriguing mood that the rest of the game fails to live up to.

A King’s Bird is a platformer that hinges on maintaining your momentum to overcome the many hurdles that stand between you and the exit. The environments are populated by pillars, horizontal walkways, and slanted surfaces and your only tools are the ability to climb up walls and glide for short distances. Bounce quickly between two pillars and then leap off the very top to build your kinetic energy. Once airborne, zip through the air like a frantic hummingbird, extending your limited flight capabilities by brushing against surfaces as you zero in on your destination.

During the early stages, there’s a great sense of freedom as you glide gracefully around the myriad landscapes. Jumping off a high point to gain as much speed as possible before pulling up to reach new heights gives you that happy queasiness normally found while riding roller coasters. Zipping through the introductory levels is joyous because there are so few restraints. Figuring out how to climb walls to boost the distance you can glide is fun because the world works as a playground waiting to be explored. Even just running across a smooth plateau is pleasant because the surreal architecture is so pleasing to look at.

It’s after you’ve learned the basics that the game stumbles back to earth. There are, of course, obstacles more dangerous than mere pillars. Poison ivy covers parts of the surfaces and death awaits as soon as you make contact with this dangerous substance. A steep challenge is a welcome addition to any platformer if the mechanics and level design can hold up to such stress, but the controls in A King’s Bird aren’t nearly precise enough to complement this level of difficulty.

That nasty poison ivy is situated in the most devious positions and it takes near-perfect execution to float by unscathed. A King’s Bird is undone by the very exuberance that made it so exciting early on. Gliding at top speeds through holes in pillars and across bottomless pits is fun if there is plenty of space between you and death, but as the walls close tighter around you, that fun begins to dissipate. It’s just too hard to consistently pull off the fine movement necessary to wind your way through these traps. So death comes early and often as you bang your head against the wall in the hopes of lucking your way past a truly aggravating part.

The fast speed of your hero clashes with the pinpoint precision needed to excel. A King’s Bird has a zoomed out view that makes your character appear small even on large screens, and this is great in the early going because it lets you see the obstacles that lay before you. But as the difficulty ramps up, and there are only a few pixels between life and death, that far-away view makes it mighty hard to see exactly what you’re trying to pull off. Furthermore, the game often stutters during the moments when you’re flying the fastest, and those slight hiccups usually mean an unceremonious death.

The game isn’t helped by the collectible little birds that hover around each level waiting to be nabbed. These white beings can be difficult to see against the light backgrounds, adding another layer of frustration to an experience that’s already overflowing with it. That free-flowing momentum that makes the early going so appealing is absent as you get deeper into the game. Instead of gliding gracefully through a level you instead spend a dozen lives to struggle to the next checkpoint before you calm your nerves, dry your hands, and try as hard as you can to get to the next checkpoint without throwing your controller.

A King’s Bird also suffers from a lack of real variety. The levels are basically indistinguishable from one another (aside from the color palette) so the game becomes a homogenous marathon to the end. There are a few levels where your gliding powers are stripped away, though the change isn’t as drastic as it sounds because you’re still using your momentum to clear gaps and clamber up pillars. And the lone boss fight is so chaotic at times that it’s hard to know which particle is you and which is a meteor trying to end your life.

It’s a shame A King’s Bird falters because the concept is so enticing. After braving my way through the dozens of increasingly maddening levels, I revisited the early stages and was once again transported to a dreamlike world where beauty and serenity shine through. Difficulty has its place in platformers, but there are games where too much challenge can distract from the core conceit. A King’s Bird locks you in a hopeless cage when all you want to do is fly.

Categories: Games

Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review: Double Dragons

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 15:01

The Yakuza series sits at a unique place in 2018, juggling two different points in the series timeline. The western release of prequel Yakuza 0 in 2017 was a dazzling gateway for a new wave of players and flowed naturally into a remake of the very first game later that year. The next title that followed, however, was Yakuza 6, which bid farewell to mainstay protagonist Kazuma Kiryu while debuting the brand new "Dragon" game engine. Yakuza 6 was a great finale to a saga that began in 2006, but now, the series has taken another 10-year leap backward in terms of narrative chronology but has taken its latest technology with it. And it's fortunate things worked out this way, because Yakuza Kiwami 2 combines the best parts of both timelines, as we simultaneously revisit the point in time where the series hit its stride, while being able to enjoy the superior benefits of a seamless world and fluid combat system afforded by the latest engine.

The original Yakuza 2 is more than just a personal favorite; it's where the series became more ambitious in terms of its world and narrative by introducing an additional location for the first time, the iconic Osakan strip of Dotonbori (stylised as "Sotenbori"), in addition to Kabukicho (stylised as "Kamurocho") in Tokyo. This not only added variety and scope to its geography and narrative, but memorable personalities with its Osakan characters. Their demeanor contrasts greatly to Tokyo natives, and this plays into the tensions between the major crime organizations in the Kansai and Kanto regions, respectively. Kiryu teams up with ace Osakan detective Kaoru Sayama for the majority of the game, who is a strong, likable character--their odd-couple pairing and growing relationship are some of the things that make Yakuza 2 so exceptional. Supporting them are the familiar Makoto Date and his hardened former mentor, Jiro Kawara, who all play interesting roles with great performances. It's here where you can see the strong foundations for the multi-protagonist approach that the series would later take, and in general, Kiwami 2's script is tweaked slightly to be a little more self-reflective from the lens of a present-day retrospective.

In typical series fashion, the majority of the story is told through highly charged, emotional cutscenes that lean heavily on the beats of Japanese drama, and they are as slow-paced as they are impressive to look at. However, Yakuza 2's plot has the benefit of being one of the more exciting and memorable of the series--there's an unforgettably gruff and showy antagonist in Ryuji Goda, the "Dragon of Kansai" that stands in staunch opposition to Kiryu's "Dragon of Dojima" moniker, a number of intriguing twists as a multinational blood feud is uncovered, some heavy-set themes about the value of loyalty and being shaped by your past, as well as some of the series' absurdly excellent moments, like punching a lunging tiger in the face. It's truly wonderful to see this PlayStation 2-era experience elevated to modern standards; sharp cinematics and high-fidelity models really amplify familiar performances through subtle facial expressions and body language.

But unsurprisingly, character models featured in secondary cutscenes and the game's numerous substory side quests exhibit a perceptible drop in quality. But to Kiwami 2's credit, the baseline fidelity of secondary models has notably improved--they aren't as jarringly awful as they were in Yakuza 6, but Kiwami 2 sadly doesn't feature full voice acting in all of its scenarios as 6 did. There are a few nice exceptions to these rules, however, as a few of the game's most infamous substories (series fans will nod knowingly at the mention of "diapers" or "fat Kiryu") get full cinematic treatment.

Kamurocho remains a fantastically atmospheric environment, full of pedestrians and neon lights, exuding a strong sense of true-to-life identity. The Dragon Engine continues to allow for seamless transitions between the street, stores, and combat encounters--it's also nice to revisit a more complete, "classic" version of the area after only seeing an abridged version in Yakuza 6. Sotenbori does suffer some minor cuts from the original version of Yakuza 2, and a smaller third area, Shinseicho, is cut altogether. But while these omissions are disappointing from an enthusiast perspective, it doesn't detract enough from the overall experience to be a significant stain, and certainly not for new players. The five-category experience system for character progression returns, and so does the emphasis on eating and drinking for experience points, which continues to be a positive change for the series that helps encourage a grounded connection and familiarity to the urban environments you roam through.

The Dragon Engine's version of Yakuza's crunchy combat also continues to be incredibly satisfying. While relatively straightforward in terms of its move set, especially when compared to the multiple disciplines featured in Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, the momentum and fluidity of techniques combined with the emphasis on collateral, physics-based damage makes fights exciting--it's difficult to return to the characteristically stiff combat of 0 and Kiwami once you've spent time with it. Small but noteworthy classic mechanics have been reintroduced, including charge moves (which you can now buffer while continuing to move and perform regular attacks), a returning focus on weapons (which you can now collect, store, buy, repair, and equip via quick-menu), as well as a number of location-based Heat moves, where befriended neighborhood denizens help you humorously and viciously assault bad guys.

In addition to the series' substories, Kiwami 2 also has some welcome minigame activities that give you ample opportunity to play with the versatile combat system in a variety of different situations. The best of these are the Underground Coliseum, which returns from the original and pits Kiryu in a series of one-on-one cage matches with fighters from an entertainingly diverse background of fighting disciplines, and the new Bouncer Missions, which throw you into gauntlets of increasing difficulty overstocked with weapons, environmental objects, and dozens of enemies, making for exciting group brawls. On the other hand, some of Kiwami 2's story missions have holdover mechanics from the original that never really gelled well to begin with and feel even more outdated as part of the modernization--immovable brutes that soak damage and pound you with couches and enemies with automatic rifles that you need to block with a medieval shield, of all things, feel like uncreative and unnecessary additions.

Other minigame distractions include Japanese and Western casino games, Mahjong, Shogi, darts, batting and golfing challenges as well as the always-fabulous karaoke. The Club Sega arcade selection is a little weaker in Kiwami 2; Virtual-On seems like a great addition, but it hasn't aged well despite the option for twin stick controls, and Virtua Fighter 2, despite its balancing tweaks, just doesn't impress as much after Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown was included Yakuza 6. UFO Catchers are a fleeting distraction, and the Toylets minigame, based on a very real-life Sega amusement which asks you to use the speed and quantity of your urine flow to affect on-screen action, is as strange and uncomfortable as it seems. Also new is Gravure Photography, where you can watch videos of real-life softcore glamor models flaunt revealing outfits, while you, as a creepy Kiryu, attempt to construct coherent sentences while photographing them. Gravure Photography is Kiwami 2's entry into the list of series activities that feel at complete odds with Kiryu's honorable and respectful nature.

But Kiwami 2 also features two more impressively substantial minigames featuring real-life Japanese personalities. One is the Cabaret Club Grand Prix, a refined version of the hostess club management concept seen in Yakuza 0, and the other is a much-improved version of the underwhelming Clan Creator top-down strategy minigame from Yakuza 6, now with a tower-defense twist. Both of these minigame iterations have been altered to have a bigger focus on fast-paced, real-time micromanagement and quick decision making, making them more involved and much more exciting as attractions to potentially invest in.

As was the case in Yakuza Kiwami, fan-favorite character Goro Majima is more tightly woven into this remake. As you progress through the main story, you'll gradually unlock the three chapters of Majima Saga, an entirely separate mini-campaign, which explores how Majima comes to arrive at the position and disposition that you find him in during the events of Kiryu and Sayama's story. While you're able to freely roam Kamurocho and Sotenbori with Majima, there are some major differences: Majima has no character progression of his own and cannot earn XP. There are no substories, and enemy encounters are predetermined as large group battles at certain roadblocks on the map, as well as one-on-one battles with Street Bosses, which you'll also find in Kiryu's campaign.

Without long-term purpose or flexibility, Majima's flamboyant knife fighting style, which dazzles initially with a couple of entertaining heat moves, becomes stale fast. His acrobatic moves don't have the same satisfying impact as Kiryu's, and it rarely feels like you're in complete control. While that may suit his character perfectly, without the ability to pick up items or throw enemies, it's difficult to keep things interesting for yourself here. The money you earn from defeating enemies in this mode can be transferred to Kiryu in the form of valuable items, and Majima has his own unique karaoke song worth seeing. But the interactive parts of his mini-campaign feel like an unnecessary grind to see story cinematics--which are the places where he really gets to shine, and the only good reason for swapping to Majima Saga. Overall, it's a missed opportunity.

The tale of Tokyo and Osaka, Kiryu and Sayama's partnership, and Kiryu and Goda's rivalry remains one of the Yakuza's best stories, and Kiwami 2's minor missteps don't affect the heart of that experience. The modernization of its presentation and its mechanics elevate it, making it absolutely worth revisiting or experiencing for the first time. Yakuza is an exemplary, if flawed series that does an incredible job of steeping you in contemporary Japanese-style crime drama, and establishing an evocative sense of place. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is an excellent example of the series at its best, coupling its most memorable stories and characters with its most sophisticated mechanics yet.

Categories: Games

Strange Brigade's Launch Trailer Shows The Dangers Of Treasure Hunting

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 15:00

Strange Brigade, the four-player co-op shooter from Rebellion, comes out incredibly soon. The early 20th century aesthetics meet hordes of mummies in this CG launch trailer for the game, showing off all four playable characters. Get a look at the trials and tribulations of the strange brigade and their means of overcoming them below.

In addition, the trailer includes mention of a fifth playable character, the gentleman Winston Bey. Bey is available to anyone who preorders the game or buys it in the first 30 days of release.

Strange Brigade releases on August 28 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:54

Square’s The Quiet Man is an experimental game for sure. This three-hour experience combines live-action storytelling with simple brawler gameplay to tell a story about a deaf man and his quest through a soundless world to rescue a woman from a masked man. Some people felt it was the worst debut at E3 this year, because its announcement trailer looks bananas.

Producer Kensei Fujinaga didn’t help much when he described the game as follows in an open letter, “Words shape consciousness; indeed, some even say that ‘words are life.’ But what if we were to cast aside such a life? What if somehow, we were able to understand one another through connections formed heart to heart, soul to soul, and could once again look into one another’s eyes and form a bond so pure? This concept lies at the core of The Quiet Man.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about. Fortunately, a recent livestream helped shed some light on the project, but I was curious to know more, so during a Gamescom interview, I asked Fujinaga about The Quiet Man’s combat.

“The big trick for our game is that you don’t get to hear all the dialogue and such, because the protagonist is deaf. The game actually asks for a lot of your patience and you need to pay attention to see what is really going on. Because of the nature of the storytelling, we wanted the playable parts to be very easy to pick up and play. We tried to not introduce any new features or gimmicks to the game. We believe that the playable parts needs to be very clean and cinematic and not too gamelike, so the combat is very easy to pick up; square, square, square, triangle kinds of combos.”

Fujinaga also explained that Man of Action Studios helped develop The Quiet Man’s narrative. Man of Action is an entertainment group founded by a collection of renowned comic book veterans such as Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle. Together this team has worked on projects like Ben 10, Generator Rex, The Secret Saturdays, and Big Hero 6, so it will be interesting to see what they brought to the table for the Quiet Man.

When I asked Fujinaga to talk more about the main protagonist, he said, “Dane is supposed to be very strong from a narrative point of view, but if we try to keep that drama, the game will not be very challenging. ‘Dane is strong, so he can’t be beaten up by these random thugs.’ So we’ve been trying to capture the right balance of the challenge and the cinema feel. We decided not to use all those HUDs and HP bars and all those meters and such. We decided not to use any of them, but those features are actually pretty much necessary for an action game to work. Getting rid of them was certainly one of the hardest challenges we’ve had.”

The Quiet Man is relentlessly weird, but that weirdness could be a strength if it also comes across as charming, but we won’t be able to judge that until we get to play the game ourselves. The Quiet Man will be available for download for $14.99 on PlayStation 4 and PC. Square remains’ quiet about the release date, which seems a little too on brand.

Categories: Games

Ubisoft Reveals How It Ruined D.C. For The Division 2

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 21:56

The Division 2 is pulling its stakes and moving the action from New York City to another familiar American location. In a behind-closed-doors presentation at Gamescom, lead level designer Manny Diaz explained how the team created its nearly 1:1 recreation of the nation’s capital – and how it wasn’t their first idea when it came time to pick a new setting.

Diaz says players spent a lot of time in The Division’s world, and the development team wanted to make the sequel feel a little unfamiliar. One way was by jumping ahead seven months from the timeline of the original game. The next was to move it to Washington, D.C., which is packed with loads of familiar setpieces and neighborhoods. Having a massive raid underneath the Washington Monument or in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial sounds as exciting as it is unsettling.

The developers pondered several other metropolitan areas first, however. Diaz showed several slides of concept art, including one that featured the Seattle skyline. Everything seemed normal at first glance – the Space Needle was prominently featured, of course – but a building in the back was ablaze. Another early option was New Orleans, for its blend of interesting culture and varied terrain. 

 

Diaz says one of the reasons he was reluctant to move the game to D.C. was that some of its most prominent features, such as the Mall, didn’t offer much in the way of cover. The developers ultimately concluded it made the game more interesting, since players who venture into the open have to make a calculated risk: Is it worth saving time sprinting straight through those kinds of spaces, or is it simply too exposed?

Once they settled on D.C., Diaz says his team worked with street plans and satellite data to make a recreation that he’s comfortable calling 1:1 scale. A few minor things such as alleys and other elements had to be tweaked to accommodate gameplay, but he says if you’re familiar with the area you’ll know your way around The Division 2’s version of it – down to the location of shrubs and cafes.

New York in the winter was a striking sight in The Division, particularly as it was partially evacuated and in various states of disorder. Diaz says he thinks it was largely one note, however, with not enough variety for his tastes. That doesn’t appear to be a problem with D.C. He walked us through seven distinctly different types of districts, each of which has its own character and potential for additional layers of gameplay.

The suburbs include areas like the tony Georgetown neighborhood, with handsome homes and a feel similar to the New York brownstones from the first Division. We see inside one house, which must have been quite lavish before the outbreak. A dried-out Christmas tree and scattered household items are a sign that whoever lived there left in a hurry. Commercial districts are naturally more industrialized, with less of a focus on aesthetics. In the concept art we see, someone has tagged an ominous threat on a wall: “Revenge starts here.” The government areas feature the offices where the nation’s elite go to work. Unlike New York, which featured skyscrapers and an often overwhelming sense of verticality, D.C.’s architecture isn’t about piling on the height. Diaz says players can expect to see a variety of different influences based on reality, such as classic and brutalist structures. 

Historic areas include most of the landmarks we associate with D.C., though some are worse for the wear – like the Washington Monument, which appears to have a chunk taken out near its base. During a research trip, Diaz says the team learned that behind the Lincoln Memorial is a bridge with fairly strategic value. In the game, the landmark is the focus of several important objectives, as forces battle over it. Roosevelt Island is a quarantine zone, and it also has a bit of mystery surrounding it, which Diaz says leads to some fun moments. Then we spy glimpses of the White House, which has been barricaded with corrugated steel walls topped with barbed wire. It’s an eerie image, as is a shot of the Air and Space Museum, which has been vandalized and looted.

Diaz wouldn’t talk about how the Dark Zone fits among these different district types. We did, however, get a solid sense of how the team has built a chilling vision of a fallen America. If seeing Manhattan fall didn’t resonate with you, odds are there will be more than a few locations in The Division 2 that might give you pause.

The Division 2 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 19:33

Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the gorgeous sequel to the 2015 release Ori and the Blind Forest. With the sequel, the team has overhauled combat in a major way, but Moon also wanted to add an entirely new mode for players as well. Early in development, the team experimented with a co-op mode, but struggled to make this style of game fun. The studio felt like players were either running off on their own or waiting around for their co-op buddies help. Moon Studios experimented with several ways to make co-op work, but Metroid-like games don’t lend themselves well to multiplayer.

“There are so many things that we tried because we wanted to see what would be really fun for friends to do together, and multiplayer was one of them,” says CEO and co-founder of Moon Studios Thomas Mahler. “Co-op never really works for Metroivanias. You have games like Portrait of Ruin that tried it, but that was kind of lame. In Ori, I don’t want to have anything that I’m not 100 percent convinced is super popular. I love watching Games Done Quick and what they’ve done with Ori, so this feels like a good way to give back.”

After spending some time with the Spirit Trials, I’m intrigued. I don’t usually go for speedrun challenges, but Ori’s controls are tight and its platforming feels great, so speedrunning these levels is fun. Moon’s matchmaking seems to do a good job pairing you with players of a similar speed, which encourages you to get faster. You don’t have to participate in Spirit Trials, but completing these challenges at least once during the main game earns you extra rewards and items.

Ori and the Will of the Wisp doesn’t have a release date yet, but I’ll be ready to speed through it when it comes to Xbox One and PC sometime next year.

Categories: Games

We Go Hands-On With Supermassive's New Horror Anthology, The Dark Pictures

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 19:00

When Supermassive’s cult-classic horror hit Until Dawn released on PlayStation 4 in 2015, fans were surprised by the tropey-but-fun take on decades of horror movies. The adventure game was for anyone that has ever yelled at a scary movie to scold the characters for making illogical decisions by placing those decisions in the players’ hands, more or less deciding who lives and dies. Supermassive’s follow ups failed to capture the same charm, with Rush of Blood, the fairly different VR prequel Inpatient, and social PlayLink initiative Hidden Agenda failing to hit the same notes that made Until Dawn well-loved.

At Gamescom this year, Bandai Namco announced Supermassive has begun working on The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of games centered around scaring the player with the same gameplay style as Until Dawn. When I asked Bandai Namco for information on what exactly the anthology entailed, it took a few analogies and examples to clarify that The Dark Pictures Anthology is a game series and the first game announced for it is Man of Medan, which we got to take for a spin this week.

Man of Medan follows a small ocean excursion crew doing a little deep sea diving. The demo opens with a “Previously On…” collection of clips, edited like the game’s reveal trailer from earlier this week, which you can find below. This forces a certain lack of context in the demo, putting the player in the driver’s seat of a situation that is already designed to put them off-kilter. The demo begins by asking whether the player sees themselves as more emotional or rational, using the right analog stick to choose an option. It was not clear what effect this had on the game.

The demo shows a small group lost inside of a larger structure, seemingly a gigantic abandoned freighter. Fliss and Brad from the trailer are together with the player controlling Fliss, but an older man named Danny is pushing them both along at gunpoint. Danny seems to have little concern for their well-being and pushes Fliss around when the player takes a few seconds to observe the surroundings. The three move along the ship while Danny freaks out, apparently with good reason, as shadows dash around in the periphery of the camera’s frame. The camera focuses on a corpse that Fliss steps over and a single frame of its jaw moving accompanies Fliss stepping through a far door, completely unaware.

Danny’s fear eventually gets the best of him and he takes off running down a corridor with a gun in his hand, a few gunshots are heard, and Danny disappears. Fliss and Brad proceed down the same hallway and find Danny gone and have no choice but to continue along the corridor. The two banter back and forth a little, prompting the player to decide if Fliss’ responses to Brad are dismissive or hopeful, with the game noting that your responses will have an impact later.

The game is not shy about making the horror front-and-center, so it isn’t long until zombies begin showing up. Similar to Until Dawn, most of the action sequences involve reacting to button prompts on the screen. You must hit the right button or mash to the game’s satisfaction – do whatever it takes to escape from the undead threat pursuing you. After a short sequence that honestly felt a little abrupt and truncated, you’re given a choice to have Fliss escape on her own or save Brad from the wretched horde chasing him. 

Saving Brad, because why wouldn’t you, ends the demo, but not before a quick surprise that leaves the player questioning how much of that scene happened at all. It’s hard to say without full context what the game’s story is, but it definitely leaves an impression. I can’t wait to see how the diverse cast interacts with each other and whether it will be possible to keep the character relationships balanced.

Man of Medan is graphically captivating, with characters whose faces move and twitch realistically as they talk, making it a title that excels at close-ups. It’s hard to get a feeling for the environmental artwork in the cramped hallways of the ship, but it already nails the tone and atmosphere it seems to be going for.

It is easy to simply want this game to be another Until Dawn, but it might be better painted as Supermassive returning to what it does best. While the demo was short, but it seems this will satisfy the same kind of unserved audience that Supermassive capably provided for before. I’m not only eager to see what Man of Medan can offer, but what the developers do with The Dark Pictures Anthology as a whole.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan will release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.

Categories: Games

Former BioWare Devs Announce Co-op Action RPG Breach

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 00:36

QC Games, a development team made of former BioWare developers, announced today an online cooperative action RPG called Breach. The team is made up of members that worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Dragon Age series, and the cancelled Shadow Realms. We don't know a lot about Shadow Realms, but we do it was a four versus one action role-playing game, like Breach.

In Breach, players must battle creatures of a parallel alternate mythological Earth that is invading modern Earth. Players pick a class to take on the Veil Demon, an antagonist that is controlled by another player. The Veil Demon can control the enemies and summon boss creatures. You can check out the trailer which details some of the available classes like Gunslinger and the Chronomancer.

Breach will enter Early Access later this year with plans to enter a full, free-to-play launch in 2019. You can sign up to participate in the alpha by heading here. You can also check out a screenshot gallery from the game below.

 
Categories: Games

We Played Sekiro And Died More Than Twice

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 22:38

From Software’s biggest legacy is Bloodborne and Dark Souls. Fans of the studio’s brutal-but-deliberate combat are always eager to learn about its next project. At E3, the studio revealed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a stealth action game about a shinobi’s quest for revenge. Sekiro introduces a lot of new mechanics and systems that haven’t been seen in the Souls series before, but after getting hands-on time at Gamescom we’re convinced From Software fans will find a lot of love in this new adventure.

With Sekiro, From Software was heavily inspired by the late 16th century Sengoku period Japan. The environments are filled with pagoda-like structures and grass-camouflaged samurai. However, this world is also filled with every kind of nightmare from Japanese myth, and I was overcome repeatedly by headless warriors, giant snakes, and chain-clad giants.

This lone shinobi’s arm has been stolen. In its place are any number of unique prosthetics, which are actually more useful than an arm in battle (good riddance). One prosthetic is called the loaded axe, and this basically functions as a heavy attack that breaks through shields. Another prosthetic fires off a steady stream of shurikens. When I followed this attack up with a traditional katana slash, the shinobi dashes toward his target, so this combo is a great way to close big gaps between opponents.

However, one of my favorite arm tools was a fire rod that produces a shotgun blast of flame. When I performed a katana combo with this prosthetic, it set my sword ablaze, which increased my damage output for a short while. From Software said the final game will feature an even wider variety of prosthetic weapons players will be able to unlock and rotate through as they progress.

As expected, most enemies have a health bar, but they also have a "posture" bar that slowly fills as you attack or deflect their attacks. This posture bar represents their defense, and when it fills, you can perform a powerful attack that will kill a lot of smaller foes and chip off a block of health from bosses. Of course, you also have a posture bar, and when that fills, you are incredibly vulnerable.

I died several times after losing my posture, but as the title says, shadows die twice. When you die, you can choose to resurrect yourself and get the drop on enemies that don't expect a dead man to jump on their backs. Naturally, you only have a limited number of resurections, but will earn more as you kill enemies.

One of the biggest changes from the Souls series is a stealth mechanic, but I found this a welcome addition. Sekiro is still primarily an action game where players must commit to deliberate and well-timed attacks, but this stealth mechanic is a tool that allows you to thin the herd before engaging bigger enemies that are hard to sneak up on. Once I learned the demo’s layout, I found it easy to sneak up on most of my foes and take them out with a satisfying slash, but From Software says that players might not want to leave too many foes untouched, because killing enemies ties into the game’s progression system, which the studio will detail at a later date.

Sekiro’s feudal Japanese setting, mix of prosthetic weapons, and stealthily action set it apart from From Software’s previous work. Some Dark Souls’ fans might worry that Sekiro strays too far from their beloved formula, but every second of my demo felt as tense and engrossing as From Software’s previous work. Sekiro is a bold new thing, and that’s great.

Categories: Games

Five Takeaways From Our Deliriously Fun Just Cause 4 Demo

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 22:32

The Just Cause series has never been known for subtlety, but it’s tossing all restraint through the window for its fourth entry. We were wowed by Just Cause 4’s E3 showing, and that enthusiasm has only grown after playing a portion of that E3 demo at Gamescom. Here are five of our biggest takeaways.

1. Getting around is more intuitive than ever

Rico gets around, thanks in part to his skills with a wingsuit, parachute, and wrist-mounted grappling hook. After getting some practice in Just Cause 3, players were able to string together these three abilities seamlessly, propelling Rico along at an impressive clip. It’s been a while since I played that game, but getting back in the groove in Just Cause 4 took all of two minutes. Shifting from chute to wingsuit, then back again feels really, really good. During the demo, I kept hearing about how there were new vehicles with fun little gimmicks, such as a truck with a ramp-shaped attachment that you could stunt off. Sorry. Once I mastered traversal in Just Cause 3, I only drove when I had to. Seeing how well flight controls are in the sequel, I don’t see that changing.

2. Having multiple tether loadouts is a godsend

Just Cause 4’s sandbox is getting way bigger, thanks to Rico’s enhanced tethers and grappling-hook device. He can use it to string objects together, attach balloons to things, or fire propulsive flares to stuff and send it sailing. You can create your own recipes using mods, too. For example, you can set it up so balloons follow Rico instead of simply soaring into the sky. It looked a little overwhelming at the E3 demo seeing the dev swap between three different tether types, but it became second nature after a couple of minutes. Once I saw what each type did, I started seeing the game world as a series of opportunities. It was easy to tether one passing car to another, mount balloons to one of the vehicles, and then send it skyward, with just a few presses of the D-pad.

3. The tornado is no joke

The tornado has been a big part of the pre-release coverage, and for good reason. It’s a tornado. It tears through the world, ruining everything in its path – including enemy bases, traffic, and, as I learned, Rico. I tried flying close to it in my wingsuit, and it didn’t take much effort. It’s a tornado, after all. Its job is to pull stuff inside. I was able to break free of its windy influence, but just barely. It took a lot of diving to accelerate enough to pull away. 

4. It encourages creativity

I’m not suggesting Just Cause 4 should be used in classrooms, but it did open my brain a little once I got used to its new tools. Our demo started with some experimentation on a bridge, where we all dinked around for 10 minutes or so. It was an absolute riot. Rico has so many different ways of interacting with the world, and the game’s physics rewarded nearly all of my dumb ideas. I put boosters on a car and drove off the bridge, but because I wasn’t particularly careful about their placement I found myself whirling in an absurdly tight circle. Fortunately, I was able to dive out and grapple back up to safely before it careened into a cliff. I put balloons on people, waited a few seconds and then popped them, and then tried to have the bodies fall on me (don’t judge). I wasn’t successful, but I’m going to try again the next chance I get.

5. This game has the potential of being a huge time sink

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway for me was that this game might end up monopolizing a lot of my free time if I let it. I love open worlds and in-game destruction, which is in part why Just Cause has been such a satisfying time over the years. Now, more than ever, the world looks to be as much of a participant in the improvised mayhem as the player. And if I can’t find the time to fully devote my life to the game, there are bound to be some insanely great (or just insane) YouTube moments starting on December 4. 

Categories: Games

Hands-On With Avalanche's Generation Zero

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 22:00

Avalanche Studios’ output appears to be snowballing. In addition to housing the teams that are creating Rage 2 and Just Cause 4, the Swedish developer is working on a self-published game called Generation Zero. The game was announced at E3, and we were impressed with its first showing – as weird as its premise may seem. It features a mysterious robot uprising and environments largely barren of humanity. And, as a kicker, it just so happens to be set in an alternate version of Sweden in the ‘80s. At Gamescom, the studio let us get our hands on Generation Zero to see how we fared against the mechanical threats.

The demo drops me and a co-op partner in a home inside a small rural village. The mission is simple: head to a bomb shelter in a nearby village, and perhaps find some fellow survivors. After foraging around for ammo and supplies, we head out into the darkness. The game is running on Avalanche’s proprietary in-house Apex Engine, and it looks great – and oppressive. The woods are thick, and the fog and rain combine to make every step feel tense. As it turns out, that tension is earned: A pair of robotic sentries called seekers hover over some nearby brush, and I nearly walk into their range. Fortunately, my partner tells me to hang back. Seekers can draw in robotic support, but when they’re isolated they aren’t particularly dangerous. We take the duo out with our pistols, and forage their remains for gear. 

I’m lucky, and find an EMP cell in one pile of ruined scrap. It comes in handy a short while later, when we encounter dog-like runner robots patrolling a cluster of buildings. The EMP works as you’d expect, detonating with a nice flash and temporarily shutting down the runners’ systems. From there, my partner and I unload on the stunned beasts as quickly as we can before their bodies spring back to life. We’re mostly successful, but I manage to completely overlook a straggler on the side. It rushes toward us while we’re looting the remains of the others, knocking me to the ground. I’m able to restore my health with a medkit, but I’m rattled. 

We continue toward our waypoint, picking up better weapons in abandoned cars and boxes along the way. I end up with a nice shotgun and a rocket launcher. Weapons have multiple ammo types, and I’m told the rocket launcher has some exotic projectiles of its own. Unfortunately, I have to make do with a boring old massive explosion – particularly helpful against clusters of runners. During the demo I also learn the value of using items like flares and fireworks to attract or disorient my foes, manipulating them and making it easier to take them out with a well-thrown grenade. 

The bomb shelter turns out to be a bust, but a computer terminal has a clue: some survivors are heading toward a farm for some kind of last stand against the robots. Sounds like a party. We load up on gear and make our way to the farm. The party is cut short by the introduction of the ticks. These small enemies like to jump, and are an overall nuisance. They’re particularly effective when near other robotic types, since you have to take them out quickly before diverting your attention toward the more conventionally dangerous enemies. Ignore the ticks, and they’ll essentially hassle you to death with smaller wounds. 

On the other side of the robot spectrum, the demo ends with an encounter from a tank. This shambling titan takes potshots from a distance, and its armor makes it a truly difficult foe. I’m able to make several successful shots with my rockets before the demo ends. Don’t worry, tank; you’ll get yours eventually.

Avalanche says players will learn more about the robot apocalypse, but that portion of it will be hidden behind optional missions you may or may not encounter in the open world. Along the way, players will be able to outfit their character in true ‘80s style. My hero sported a backward cap and a thick, gold dookie chain, but that’s just the start. You’ll be able to find more cosmetics as you explore – loud patterns and tragic haircuts are apparently plentiful. Best of all, Avalanche says there won’t be microtransations, so you’ll have to earn the right to look so gleefully corny.

 
Categories: Games

Hands-On With Claire’s Resident Evil 2 Campaign

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 20:45

Claire just wants to find her brother. It has been two months since the events of the original Resident Evil. S.T.A.R.S. member and zombie survivalist Chris Redfield has gone missing. Since Chris isn’t answering his voice mails, Claire takes a break from college homework, and hops on a motorcycle to head over to Racoon City. Unfortunately, she’s not the only newcomer in town, and she quickly discovers the streets are overrun with undead.

During Capcom’s big showcase at E3, we got hands-on time with Leon’s campaign. Both Leon and Claire have their own campaigns, which feature unique characters and environments, but there is some overlap between their journeys. For example, Claire will tour the police station like Leon, but her journey will diverge from his in other places. At Gamescom, we got a chance to see what kind of mess Claire will get into when Leon isn’t around.

Our demo begins a few hours into the game, after Claire makes her way through the police station’s main structure and into a series of secret back rooms. At this point she encounters a young girl named Sherry. Those who played the original Resident Evil 2 (that still sounds weird) might remember Sherry is the daughter of William and Annette Birkin, two scientists who's work helped pioneer the t-Virus that ultimately spawned the zombie outbreak. When Claire encounters Sherry, she’s hiding behind a pile of debris and she doesn’t want to come out. Claire offers to protect Sherry. Unfortunately, someone else is also interested in Sherry: a mutated giant named William Birkin.

Sherry’s father performed some gnarly experiments on himself that turned him into a gruesome freak who’s skin can withstand more than a couple hits from a napalm-spewing grenade launcher. Fortunately, Claire is packing a miniature arsenal that includes a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver, and that grenade launcher Billy laughed off.

 

My encounter with this beast – called G in the original game – wears on my nerves and the surrounding environment. We battle throughout a maintenance room full of twisting pipes and tight walkways. Some of the pipe burst under the onslaught and the room slowly fills with smoke. Given the tight corridors, I occasionally have to run and hide to reload and gain my bearings, so I rarely know which corner G will jump out from. Thankfully, Resident Evil 2’s action feels good. The controls are relatively precise and smooth, and the aiming reticle hones in on your target the longer you take to line up your shot. Sadly, I rarely had that level of patience during this tense firefight.

After burning through most of my health and ammo, I finally take down G and pull Sherry to safety. Our union doesn’t last long. A overweight cop (presumably Brian Irons) walks into the room, points and gun at Claire, and abducts our new ward.

We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on the final game to rescue Sherry (again). Leon’s demo from E3 featured a lot of exploration and puzzles. This demo largely focused on Resident Evil 2’s action, and it was nice to better idea of how it works and feels.

Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 remake will hit the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on January 25.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 18:40

With Soulcalibur VI launching later this year, fans are wondering which of their favorite characters might be returning for this soft reboot. While mainstays like Sophitia and Mitsurugi were never in doubt, Soulcalibur VI has not had many major returning villains yet with characters like Cervantes still MIA. The villainous aspect at least is being addressed with the reintroduction of Tira through a new trailer today.

Tira is the first announced DLC character for the game, which itself does not come out for two months. While she is part of the season pass, she will also be available as standalone DLC later, though Bandai Namco's wording seems to imply that preordering the season pass is the only way to get her early. The Soulcalibur community is fairly split on whether announcing the DLC before the entire roster for the game has even been revealed is alright or not, but Tekken brand manager Mark Julio argues that it's an extra incentive to reward players who purchase early.

People look at DLC as a negative. It’s a preorder bonus, so if you were buying game anyways you’ll get access to Tira no problem. There’s nothing wrong with giving incentive to those who are purchasing the title.

— Mark Julio (マークマン) (@MarkMan23) August 21, 2018

Bandai Namco also revealed the Libra of Soul story mode, which involves the series' divisive but unique create-a-character mode. Players create their own fighter and work their way through the ranks of other warriors both from the game and designed by other players to get to the top of the mode. You can check out the trailer for it below.

The mode is separate from the other Soulcalibur VI story mode, which uses interstitial art and dialogue to tell the story of how everything returned back in time.

Soulcalibur VI is releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 19.

Categories: Games

We Went Hands-On With Diablo III On The Switch For The First Time

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 18:00

It’s a familiar refrain to anyone vaguely connected to the video game industry: “That game would be perfect on the Switch!” It has been said from Switch owners for nearly every game past and present, from A Boy and His Blob to Zuma. At some point, someone must have also said the same of Diablo III, Blizzard’s third game in their action-RPG series, and it seems like Blizzard and Nintendo agree. 

And we do, as well, Diablo III is actually a shockingly good fit for Nintendo’s portable system. In fact, technological prowess aside, the foundational aspects of how the Switch works and the options it gives you how you play a game might actually make the Switch the best place to play Diablo III. 

Technological prowess is actually a pretty good place to start. While undocked, Diablo III runs at 720p, so the full resolution of the Switch screen. Blizzard told us that, while docked, the game runs at 960p, so not quite the 1080p the Switch is capable of for other games. The reason for this is that Blizzard’s target for the title is 60 frames per second, regardless of how many players or enemies are on the screen, docked or undocked. During our demo, while we played the game undocked, meteors rained down every second of the battle, arrows were flying, enemies were flinging giant attacks, and the framerate never wavered.

If you’ve never played Diablo III, you might be wondering what all the clamor is about for the game. The loot-driven action RPG can be played single-player or multiplayer and centers around using a created character to vanquish the devilish Diablo. The main quest is only the beginning, however, as thousands of hours of other content awaits any player willing to dive in to get more loot, crawl through more dungeons, and become a walking weapon of mass destruction.

As we mentioned during the game’s announcement, it can be played via local, local wireless, or wireless internet. Any controller permutation you can think of to make this work will work. You can pair three Pro controllers and a single joycon with the Switch hooked up to a TV if you want. You can play with two joycons on a single Switch in tabletop mode while playing online with other players who are docked, you can also do that. If you want to play with one person holding their Switch upside down while leaning off the side of the couch while another person plays with dual-joycons on the TV and then slides both joycons into the Switch to keep the game going while walking out the door with the other person, you could do that if you really, really wanted to.

The controls on most of those variations will be similar to the previous console releases of Diablo III over the years. One of the reasons Blizzard chose Diablo III for their Switch test case was because they had already mastered adapting the game to modern controllers, so that same style of control of moving with the left analog stick and rolling with the right one is retained. On the single joycon, however, rolling is handled by flicking the joycon in a quick motion. It is surprisingly reactive and accurate and works well as a solution to the lack of a second stick on the joycon.

Diablo III also uses the Switch's HD rumble, though Blizzard is still tweaking it. The aforementioned constant meteor shower lead to the Switch rumbling consistently and loudly, prompting producer Matt Cederquist to proactively explain that they're going to change the rumble once they realized how aggressive it was on retail Switch units.

The game uses Nintendo’s online service, which does mean that it is one of the titles that supports cloud saves. It also unfortunately means that that it uses the Switch app for voice chat. Players who are serious about playing together might want to consider external methods for communicating with each other unless they’re very dedicated to using the Switch online app on their phones.

While we only got to demo the game for a little bit, we’re definitely excited to put it through its paces when it comes out later this year. If you want to find out more about Diablo III’s Nintendo-exclusive content, we wrote about the Legend of Zelda items right here. We also asked Blizzard who they would want in Smash Bros. if they got a slot.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 17:16

Playground Games has talked about Forza Horizon 4's shared world, but today at Gamescom more details about the racer's team-based competitive multiplayer were revealed.

The traditional competitive multiplayer games like Infected and Flag Rush are now all team-based. For instance, Infected is now Survivor where your teammates can heal an infected friend.

Similarly, in a team-based traditional race (the demo showed off two teams of six players) who wins is not based on who crosses the finish line first, but by which teams score the most points overall.

The demo also showed off new quickchat options for each mode so everyone can be on the same page.

Finally, Microsoft announced two Forza Horizon 4 bundles available at launch on October 2 – an Xbox One S bundle ($299) and one for Xbox One X. The latter also includes a copy of Forza Motorsport 7. The price was not mentioned for the Xbox One X bundle.

Categories: Games

One Piece: World Seeker's Latest Trailer Shows Luffy Punching Bad Guys On Prison Island

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 16:51

One Piece: World Seeker, the upcoming open-world One Piece game, got a new trailer during Gamescom that shows off a little bit of the game's setup.

We've used the Arkham Batman games as a point of reference in the past for World Seeker, and it looks like the comparison is only getting stronger. The latest trailer shows Luffy going to a place called Prison Island where he will encounter past enemies.

One Piece: World Seeker is coming this year, but Bandai Namco has not announced an exact release date yet.

Categories: Games

Fallout 76 C.A.M.P. Trailer Outlines New Settlement Features

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 16:19

The introduction of multiplayer in Fallout 76 affects many of the underlying systems powering the game, including settlements.

C.A.M.P. takes the settlement system from Fallout 4 and expands it dramatically, allowing you to create workspaces and harvest resources. You can also build a much larger settlement with others by placing them next to each other, essentially creating a small village. If you don't want to leave your settlement vulnerable to nukes while exploring, you can take your camp and relocate it at any time for a small cap hit. You can watch Bethesda outline the enhanced system in a new trailer:

Microsoft also announced a Fallout 76 Xbox One X bundle.

The Fallout 76 beta begins in October for Xbox One owners. The full game releases on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on November 14. Dig deep into character customization here

Categories: Games

Latest Battlefield V Trailer Shows Off Character Customization, Progression

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 16:00

Battlefield V is doubling down on character customization, introducing more ways for players to express themselves than ever before. 

Each player has their own Company, your one-stop shop for customizing each class, combat role, vehicle, and weapon. Each combat role has unique loadouts and abilities, and over time you can get access to more combat roles. As you progress, you must make tactical decisions about how your weapons and vehicles will evolve. For instance, perhaps you will upgrade your shotgun with a heavier buckshot with a longer range, or you opt for a tighter grouping of shots.

In addition, Microsoft announced Battlefield V Xbox One S and Xbox One X bundles.

The open beta starts September 4 for those who pre-ordered and EA Access, Origin Access, and Origin Access Premier subscribers. The wider public can join the fray on September 6 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. 

For the full game, 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. To learn more about Battlefield V, check out our rundown of new features and our hands-on impressions from E3

Categories: Games

NBA 2K19 Trailer: MyCareer Takes Players To China, NBA G-League

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 16:00

The NBA 2K MyCareer stories have had an interesting trajectory. What began as a choose your own adventure story giving players the ability to craft their own personality, over the course of the last several years they have settled into on-rails stories, sometimes featuring big-name actors, always including a corny sense of humor. 

Based on the first trailer, NBA 2K19's MyCareer story, called The Way Back, follows that well-worn path. This year's star is a baller unfortunately nicknamed A.I. whose career looks nothing like Allen Iverson's. In the trailer we see him spending time playing overseas in the Chinese Basketball League, and infighting with teammates in the NBA G-League for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. All that toiling in the minor leagues eventually earns you a call-up to an NBA roster at the end of the season.

The list of actors includes Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Silicon Valley), Michael Rapaport (Atypical, True Romance), Anthony Mackie (Avengers, Altered Carbon), Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures), and Rob Huebel (Transparent, Bob's Burgers).

NBA 2K19's The Prelude drops on August 31 for PS4 and Xbox One, which lets you play the first chapter in The Way Back. 

NBA 2K19's anniversary edition releases on September 7 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. The standard edition releases for the same platforms on September 11.

Categories: Games

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