Games

Minecraft: Dungeons Is A Co-op Dungeon Crawler Coming To PC Next Year

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 17:56

 Minecraft is all about imagining a new worlds and going on adventures within them. Minecraft: Dungeons takes the first part out of the equation and instead focuses on dungeon-crawling with your friends.

Announced at this year's Minecon, Dungeons is a four-player dungeon crawler using Minecraft's iconic blocky art style, but emphasizing the loot-hording and exploration aspects of the original game. This won't supplant Minecraft, however, as Dungeons is being made by a smaller team at Mojang. "This has been a passion project for them, and is inspired by their love of classic dungeon crawler games," the announcement post says.

You can watch the first trailer for Dungeons, which hits PC next year, below.

 

Categories: Games

FIFA 19 Review - A Game Of Two Halves

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 01:10

FIFA 19 runs the gamut with ways to enjoy the game of football. Kick Off modes and on-pitch enhancements, as well as the ever-engaging Ultimate Team, make up the core of FIFA 19, and the new Champions League license adds a neat touch the package. Sadly, Career Mode and Pro Clubs remain stale and are in dire need of a refresh, on top of repeated missteps from previous entries. Regardless, it comes much closer to properly representing the game of football.

FIFA has struggled on the pitch in its past few iterations, with matches deteriorating to frustrating slogs. For years we've been unable to play FIFA like football is played in real life--instead we've been zig-zagging the ball up the pitch and abusing pacey wingers to breach the opponent's defence to swing in an unstoppable cross for an equally unstoppable header. FIFA 19's matches are more natural and more varied in the way they unfold, in large part because EA finally has all the pieces needed to make it so. Although it introduced a slower pace in FIFA 18, the newest iteration finally makes this work by tightening up players' responsiveness. Through passes work again, and they (along with player pace) seem to be in a good place in terms of balance--neither under- nor overpowered, as has been the case for too long. FIFA 19's ball still doesn't feel as satisfying as PES 2019's, but it does at least feel something like the real-life sphere it's imitating.

FIFA 19 includes new tactical options for wannabe managers to fiddle with, such as how many players you want to commit at corner kicks and whether you want your full-backs to over- or under-lap. These are undoubtedly welcome, and tactical changes in your defensive technique--press after possession loss, constant pressure, and drop off are among five options on that front--make a tangible impact in-game, allowing you to further tailor your play style.

However, the much-vaunted new feature of game plans is a bit of a mess. You can set up different tactics for various in-game situations before a match and then quickly switch between them on the pitch, but any change to one game plan, including your default starting plan, is not automatically reflected in your other four plans. So say you decide to switch your wingers over for one particular match or tweak your formation to counter an opponent's star player; that change will be lost if you change to attacking or defensive during a match. This isn't a dealbreaker of course, but it inevitably ends with you spending more time in the team management menu, which is exactly the kind of admin work this feature should have eradicated. And despite the added depth of options, the vast majority of AI teams still behave in a broadly similar (and often unrealistic) way--Wigan Athletic managing to pass their way out of my press with sublime one-touch football was a difficult one to take.

FIFA's brand of football is more physical this year, with strength becoming a far more important stat and crunching collisions feeling much more realistic. You can see and feel players battling for the ball, and goalkeepers are not quite as invincible from crosses as in previous years. Long ball tactics are slightly more viable than last year as a result--including, mercifully, from free kicks--and it feels satisfying for your target man to knock one down for your striker to smash in from 12 yards. Despite this, and the new tactical options, there's still no way to determine which players go up for corners and free kicks, meaning your 6' 6" center-back will still frequently be found on the halfway line at set pieces rather than getting his elbows out in the box where he should be. Timed finishing attempts to add more depth to FIFA's pitchwork for expert players, and while it can be a little temperamental and fiddly, it does add a nice risk-reward layer to what was an afterthought run on muscle memory.

Meanwhile, EA's implementation of the newly-acquired Champions League and Europa League licenses is excellent, with the official branding, specific commentators, and authentic atmospheres adding to the feel of this being club football's biggest event. The competition has its own mode in FIFA 19, as well as implementation in The Journey, Ultimate Team, and Career Mode, and to its credit EA utilizes the license in a much more comprehensive way than Konami ever did.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much it in terms of new Career Mode features, and this is where FIFA 19 suffers. Career Mode is the most in-depth single-player mode remaining in FIFA, and yet it has seen almost no meaningful improvements for years. This year the mode has not been touched at all, save for the implementation of Champions League, and the cracks are showing. That means you get the same "Boss, I was hoping you might be experimenting with the team?" messages; the same bugs and problems (such as the inability to loan out newly purchased players); the same typos and grammar errors in news reports; and the same lack of depth when it comes to club strategies like hiring and firing of staff or stadium expansions. Similarly, Pro Clubs is exactly the same this year as it was in FIFA 18, and it's hard not to sympathize with those who speculate around EA's shifting priorities, given how much ongoing attention the microtransaction-driven Ultimate Team receives in comparison. Frankly, two modes as big and popular as these receiving no new features or even any quality-of-life improvements is unacceptable, and EA needs to up its game in this regard next year.

Kick Off is where most of EA's offline attention was focused this year, with the introduction of detailed stats and some interesting new sub-modes contained within House Rules. These allow you to turn off fouls and offsides, turn on the battle royale-like Survival Mode--in which a goal results in one of your players being sent off--or disallow any goal not scored from a header or volley. These modes are shallow, and being available in local play only is a baffling decision, but they offer a nice change of pace for when you're playing with a friend. It's surprising how much rewiring of your football-addled brain they require; after 23 years on this planet appealing for offsides, it's quite hard not to scream "REF!!!" at the TV when my brother scores his fourth of the game, even when the traditional rules have been thrown out.

FUT's major addition this year is a new sub-mode named Division Rivals, a replacement for the now-cut online seasons mode. It's another, shorter way to qualify for the FUT Champions weekend event, and it adds to the ever-growing and -evolving behemoth Ultimate Team has become. Otherwise, Ultimate Team remains largely the same year-over-year, but the mode's strength lies more in its constant live support over the course of a season, which is shaping up to be exemplary once again. Champions cards, limited-time packs, daily and weekly objectives, special events and tournaments--Ultimate Team has something to draw you in every week, and it is truly the lifeblood of FIFA 19.

The Journey's third year sees the conclusion of Alex Hunter's story, but sister Kim and best mate Danny Williams join him in a GTA V-like three-pronged story. You can switch between the trio to play their individual storylines at any point, though there is a recommended path to follow that keeps their narratives vaguely in line with each other. Each character also has their own special features, such as Alex's choice of mentor squad at Real Madrid (spoilers!) or Danny's choice of advert he wants to take part in. The Journey's scripting and acting isn't exactly outstanding, but it remains a unique way to play, and I hope EA continues it after this Champions League special episode concludes.

Ultimate Team has something to draw you in every week, and it is truly the lifeblood of FIFA 19.

As impressive as FIFA 19's recreation of broadcast football is, there are a surprising number of details that remain inaccurate. You still don't get a fourth substitute in extra time, for example, and the double jeopardy rule--where a red card cannot now be shown inside the penalty area if a player is deemed to have attempted to play the ball--is still not applied in FIFA, despite these law changes having been introduced over two years ago now. Transfer deadline day still comes on August 31 in Career Mode, despite English clubs having the earlier close date of August 9 this season, and many teams that are not deemed one of the "big" clubs do not get third kits or away 'keeper kits. When the rest of FIFA's presentation package is so impressive, it makes these smaller, incorrect details stand out, especially when they appear to require small tweaks to fix.

It's promising that EA is listening to its community. FIFA 19 is much more responsive on the pitch than last year, and the company continues to evolve FUT to keep it fresh. However, the lack of progress in Career Mode and Pro Clubs is sorely inadequate. Thankfully, The Journey's continued entertainment, FUT's long-lasting nature, and some inventive new Kick Off modes mean I'll likely still be playing FIFA 19 by the time next year's game rolls around.

Categories: Games

Multiplayer Horror Game Last Year: The Nightmare Gets Its First Bloody Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 00:50

Last Year: The Nightmare is a recently announced multiplayer horror game for PC, putting five players as survivors and a sixth as a murderer. The group of teenagers that comprise the survivors wake up to find themselves in a mirror version of their sleepy home town, which itself contains a supernatural force taking the form of psychotic murderers to hunt them down. You can check out the reveal trailer for the game below.

The game seems similar to other asymmetrical horror titles like Friday the 13th or Dead by Daylight, but seems to put a bit more agency into the hands of the survivors.

The title is one of the First on Discord launch titles, meaning it will be releasing on PC later this Fall. 

Categories: Games

Dragon Ball FighterZ Switch Launch Trailer Takes The Fight Outside

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 02:35

Dragon Ball FighterZ is finally releasing on Switch soon, nine months after the game hit other platforms, which dares publisher Bandai Namco to create a launch trailer that isn't just redundant. To do just that, the trailer focuses on the Switch's unique features while also showing off that the game seems to run quite alright on the system.

In the below trailer, two friends wearing orange and blue/white (get it) are yelled at by their grandmother or landlady, it's not totally clear, for making too much noise playing FighterZ on Switch. So they take the right outside and catch the attention of a young woman, who joins them for play. The battles continue and come to a head with a force when the older woman wearing purple with a hairless cat by her side ends up taking part in the fight as well.

I also think it has a reference to 1990s comedy Home Improvement but I might be wrong.

The Switch version of the game has one-on-one rights, two-versus-two, and individual three-versus-three, as shown in the trailer. You don't have to dress like your favorite characters to enjoy the game when it releases on September 28 but no one is going to tell you it hurts.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 23:50

Naughty Dog today posted the theme for The Last of Us Part II today in full. Titled "The Last of Us (Cycles)," the newly released for the game is unsurprisingly but fittingly a slow and somber guitar piece by musician and composer Gustavo Santaolalla. The Academy Award-winning Santaolalla was also behind the original game from 2013. You can check out the track below.

If you're looking to buy the track, Naughty Dog also tweeted out several helpful links.

ICYMI: “The Last of Us (Cycles)”—a new theme from Part II by Gustavo Santaolalla—was released for #OutbreakDay!

Apple Music https://t.co/SvUHDxw0PF
Spotify https://t.co/ANMC9D04AI
Google https://t.co/fBf2DWmcZh
Amazon https://t.co/HvdPOwvINM
Tidal https://t.co/AIKUIqFS9p pic.twitter.com/N3zM7r7QW5

— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) September 27, 2018

Santaolalla has also composed for a variety of projects like Netflix's Making a Murderer and the movie Brokeback Mountain. The Last of Us Part II is a PlayStation 4 exclusive. At PSX last year, director Neil Druckmann estimated the game to be 40-60% complete.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 09/27/2018 - 23:00

Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption is an indie title with a lot of eyes on it. We first took note of the Souls-like in 2017 at PAX and named it one of the best indie games at GDC earlier this year. Since then, not only have the developers added a Switch version, but they've also announced a date for all three console versions. Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption will release on October 18 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch.

You can check out the latest trailer released for the release date announcement below.

The game is obviously influenced by Souls titles, but has an interesting twist: you give up powers as you fight each boss. The bosses, representing the seven deadly sins, remove things like your strength or defense, forcing you to fight each one a different way.

The game is also coming to PC, but is launching as part of Discord's First on Discord publishing initiative, gaining a three-month period of exclusivity on the Discord Store. Those titles will release in the Fall.

Categories: Games

Transference Review - In Another World

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 20:40

The pursuit of immortality has several avenues, but Transference settles with one of the most prevalent approaches in sci-fi: the ability to upload one's consciousness into a digital space. Should we do it if given the chance? That's the single question Transference grapples with, while also juggling themes of domestic abuse and troubled family dynamics. While it can be heavy-handed with its themes at times, it also neglects to engage with its distressing subject matter in a meaningful way. But Transference is also full of clever approaches to standard horror tropes, with an eerie atmosphere and challenging puzzles that engage you in its setting.

Transference switches perspectives between each member of a small family. Raymond is a brilliant but disturbed genius, using his intellect to pursue conscious existence after death without considering the impact his work has on his wife and son. Katherine feels trapped, compelled to remain with Raymond for the sake of their preadolescent son while losing her attachment to her musical career. Benjamin is stuck in the middle, attempting to impress his distant father and connect with his depressed mother. Their lives intertwine into a tragic tale of struggle, eventually taking a more dangerous turn for the worse when they find themselves trapped within the digital prison Raymond has constructed.

Intriguing puzzles within the confines of the cramped apartment move Transference's story forward. The ability to swap between different perspectives using light switches provides the crux of their construction. A radio, for example, might need to be tuned to specific frequencies across two different realities to relay a cohesive conversation. Keys for locked doors might be in one space and required in another. Exploring each version of this apartment is crucial to unravelling its puzzles, which evolve from simple find-and-fetch exercises to more perceptive challenges that test your attention to smaller details.

Each character has their own version of reality that populates the apartment. Benjamin's world feels lonely, with scribbles of his dog across some walls and numerous academic accolades hidden around the house. Katherine, on the other hand, envisions herself in a prison; the apartment's wooden doors change to more oppressive metal sliding doors, while pictures of cages are strewn across the walls to replace the whimsical scribbles of her son. Raymond's singular focus on his work unsurprisingly dominates his own reality, with only small slivers of his family life shining through his obsession with success.

These visual cues help you quickly piece together the troubles the family was grappling with before becoming trapped in a false reality, and it's clear there's substantial neglect, depression and domestic trauma lurking throughout. It's effective to see how each character paints the same reality in their own way, which is built upon with numerous FMV video logs that are strewn around the house for you to view. They obscure answers to the exact events that preceded their current dilemma, but each new titbit paints a grimmer picture of a sorely splintered family.

Strong performances from the limited cast ground each FMV sequence, which helps mitigate the jarring switch from gameplay. Their portrayal of each character's troubling circumstances contributes to the distressing atmosphere, with fears that feel extremely relatable without the reliance on common supernatural horror tropes. The only exception to this is the appearance of a digital demon whose only purpose is to provide scarce jump scares. There's no action you can take against it and vice versa, making each encounter more predictable and less frightening as you progress. It fails to provide a meaningful contribution to the more frightening themes of the story, before disappearing entirely without any real reason. Its existence feels unnecessary, shifting Transference's mood momentarily for no earned reason.

Transference also doesn't concern itself with commenting on its many themes. It uses these themes to aptly window-dress its creepy setting but settles just before it attempts to explore each of its characters deeply enough. There's a clear chain of events to follow by the time credits roll, but there's an unshakeable sense of dissatisfaction with its abrupt conclusion. Each of the characters is robbed of an ending to their story, with only an ambiguous final message that fails to provide answers or raise interesting questions.

Exceptional sound design makes traversing these different realities an even more terrifying prospect. While the FMV clips paint a grisly picture of past events, frequent sound cues instill a greater sense of dread with smartly timed shifts. Benjamin's cries for help are regularly broken by his screams; his fear of being trapped alone within a space populated by past traumas conveyed in chilling detail. Katherine's mutterings to herself are juxtaposed against her pleads for freedom--not only from her virtual reality, but from Raymond, too. Whispers and screams fill your ears constantly, creating an unnerving atmosphere that is unrelenting throughout Transference's three-hour runtime.

Transference is terrifying without a VR headset, but it's unsurprisingly more intense with one.

While Transference can be played in a standard fashion, it's also playable in VR, which enhances the experience. Being cut off from external visual and auditory stimuli makes you appreciate Transference's smart sound design and dimly lit corridors even more. VR support allows you to play with a fully unlocked camera or one that rotates by fixed amounts for more comfort, and the purposefully slow movement lends itself to VR play nicely too. There are no sharp movements that might otherwise induce motion sickness, and additional options that allow you to tweak blinders around your peripheral vision help reduce any negative effects of free motion control. Transference is terrifying without a VR headset, but it's unsurprisingly more intense with one.

A captivating albeit disturbing setting is Transference's greatest asset, rooted by strong performances from the cast and a smart approach to storytelling. Transference revels in its uneasy subject matter a bit too much, though, and fails to wrap up its messaging in a cohesive way. It's an uncomfortable experience that mostly doesn't rely on common horror tropes, while offering some challenging puzzles to solve along the way.

Categories: Games

The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 20:10

Editor's note: Prior to the launch of Episode 2 - Suffer the Children, developer Telltale Games was hit with extensive layoffs and as of this writing is no longer continuing its existing projects. As The Walking Dead: The Final Season had four scheduled episodes, this review is reflective of those outside circumstances and evaluates Suffer the Children both as an individual episode and the potential end to Telltale's Walking Dead series. This review also contains spoilers for Episode 1 - Done Running.

There's a moment maybe two-thirds through Suffer the Children where the kids of Ericson Academy are sitting around playing a game, a sort of hybrid between the card game War and Truth or Dare. The youngest of the kids, Tennessee, is asked about a thought he has or a belief he holds that he doesn't tell anyone else. Tenn's answer is simple. History moves through ages: The Stone Age, the Ice Age, and so on. It stands to reason that the age of walkers would, eventually, come to an end just as simply as those ages transitioned into each other.

Nobody would've figured Tenn had been speaking so literally. Suffer The Children ends with the near-requisite cliffhanger, oblivious to the fact that Telltale may never get to finish what it started. Had Suffer the Children ended just 10 short minutes earlier, it would almost--almost--work as a best-case scenario ending for the whole series.

Episode 2 of The Walking Dead's final season begins the process of wrapping things up, making the potential endgame much clearer. It's a dire beginning, though, with Clem and A.J. dealing with the fallout from an out-of-nowhere bullet: A.J. doing exactly as Clementine taught him and aiming for the head. In this case, it's the head of Ericson's de facto leader, Marlon, even though Clementine had him subdued. Everything about the situation is a mess, and Clementine is left wracked with guilt and the horrific realization that, despite her best efforts, she may have raised a murderer.

It's a delicately handled sequence, making good on the Final Season's promise that A.J. is learning from Clementine, but perhaps too well. It's also a good representation of the beautiful inversion of the Final Season's moral outlook. So much of The Walking Dead's prior seasons had been spent trying to keep Clementine away from the abyss; this is the first time we're dealing with people who have known literally nothing else, something A.J. mentions after Tenn's musing during the card game. What is that world going to look like with blood on his hands at such a young age? What will it look like for Clementine, who has a lot more on hers?

That question gets an answer not long after, when Clementine and A.J. find themselves back on the road and running into a familiar and unwelcome face: Season 1's Lilly. Perhaps the first and most devastating case of the damage this world can do, Lilly has become a full-on survivalist. She's a member of a nearby community of raiders that has been secretly abducting kids from Ericson--with the deceased Marlon's help--to fight in an ongoing war with another community. The encounter is brutal, but it's the kind of wake-up call that both Clem and A.J. needed. Once they see what's on the other side of the abyss, the tone of the episode changes.

Of course, the walkers themselves are still a factor in everything that happens going forward. The dynamic zombie-killing mechanics introduced in Episode 1 remain a welcome and gleefully vicious change, though walkers aren’t as omnipresent as last time, and a particular sequence late in the episode involves Clementine slaying a horde of them with the weakest bow-and-arrow imaginable. But it's in the stretch of the episode where things have calmed down and the kids are just waiting for the raiders to come that the Final Season begins to truly blossom. While trying to prep the school for an invasion, Clementine finds herself stepping up to the plate to possibly lead this little city of lost children and keep them safe.

More than once, we see the group let its guard down with Clementine and A.J., revealing these are still kids and teenagers who can't help but have dreams and fears and childhood traumas that bubble up to the surface. There's an aura of hope, the perhaps naive belief that the kids are, in fact, going to be alright. You can play Clementine as angry, bitter, and cold, even to A.J., but the most wonderful and heartening moments in the season are gated behind that hope. A moment comes when Ruby, the ersatz nurse for the school, finds the actual school nurse trapped in a greenhouse, having turned long ago. Even after putting a knife through her skull, Ruby finds herself still wanting to bury the poor woman's remains. Earlier on, as the kids bury Marlon, A.J. wonders aloud what the point of a funeral is if the person is already dead. Here is the moment where Clem can practice what she preached. Here is the moment where Clem realizes that these are, and were, still people, not just walkers and those who haven't become walkers yet. Telltale is showing the light at the end of this dark tunnel, and it's a warm, wonderful thing to play as Clementine daring to imagine life after (walking) death.

We leave The Walking Dead on a Telltale firmly willing to make mechanical and tonal risks, nearly all of which pay off well in this episode, hinting towards a bright future we may never get to see.

The raiders do come, however, and it's a strangely magical moment. Clementine is full, accepted, prepared, and, if played just right, even loved, in a way we've never seen her. It's the moment we see Clementine as the person she's supposed to be. And she is ready for everything the world has in store for her--good and evil. It's the enduring image we should have of Clementine, if this is the last time we are meant to be with her. Not in peril, but in power.

But, as mentioned, there's another 10 minutes to go after that moment--a good 10 minutes, the aforementioned bow-and-arrow bit aside, but 10 minutes--leading to a cliffhanger. We leave The Walking Dead on a Telltale firmly willing to make mechanical and tonal risks, nearly all of which pay off well in this episode, hinting towards a bright future we may never get to see. If this is the last time we see her, the fact that she, and this series, have become what they’ve become is maybe the closest thing to a Happily Ever After as can be expected from The Walking Dead.

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 20:00

The Red Dead Redemption II PS4 Pro bundle was announced the other day, giving people an opportunity to do what they do best and scrutinize the box for details. RockstarIntel was able to do exactly that and mined out details from the console box to figure out what to expect from Rockstar's upcoming western.

The bundle says that Red Dead Redemption II requires a minimum install size of 105 GB. This puts it ahead of the previous PlayStation 4 record holder, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which stood at 101 GB. Rockstar's last PS4 game, Grand Theft Auto 5, came in at 65 GB.

While PlayStation 4-exclusive content had already been announced, the console box clarifies that "online content" will stay exclusive to the PS4 for 30 days before going to Xbox One. It is unknown if this is the only content for PlayStation 4 or if there is completely exclusive content and timed exclusive content.

Small print on the box also indicates that Red Dead Redemption II's online will be for 2-32 players, lining up with what Rockstar has said about Red Dead Online and speculation it will be similar to Grand Theft Auto's online playground.

[Source: RockstarIntel]

Categories: Games

Watch Soulcalibur VI's Producer Fence An Olympic Medalist In Exclusive New Footage

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 18:00

Soulcalibur VI's most recently announced character is the fencer Raphael, having been revealed and shown off fairly recently. Fencing is a well-loved style in fighting games and Raphael has a large number of fans who like the way his style feels. Soulcalibur VI producer is Motohiro Okubo is one of those fans and, really, what better opponent for an amateur fencing enthusiast than Olympic medal winner Miles Chamley-Watson?

Watson took home the bronze medal in the 2016 Olympic games, which might make him slightly out of Okubo's league. You can catch their fencing battle, and the subsequent second round of Soulcalibur VI with brand new footage of Raphael, below.

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

Categories: Games

Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 Review - What Doesn't Kill Us

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 02:40

Politics ebbs and flows through Life Is Strange 2, whether or not the characters are always aware of it. Unforeseen circumstances upturn the lives of the Diaz brothers, and in typical Life Is Strange fashion, while the supernatural lingers around the edges, it's ordinary humanity that displays the ugliest sides of this heart-wrenching story. With a narrative that is unashamed to present a mirror to the most uncomfortable realities of the US in 2016, a diverse cast of characters who are fleshed out lovingly and respectfully, and mechanics that reinforce relationships between characters, the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 tells a story that deserves to be heard.

The plot begins a week after the final presidential debate between Trump and Clinton--and before tragedy strikes the Diaz family. You adopt the role of Sean, an artistic, sporty teenager with a tight-knit family supported by his single dad, Esteban. Sean's life at the beginning of the game is punctuated by his efforts to be a track star, begrudgingly taking care of his nine-year-old brother Daniel, and figuring out whether he should pack condoms for the party he's attending that evening.

Dontnod continues the pinpoint depiction of the teenage experience that it first displayed in the original Life Is Strange. Occasional unironic uses of words like "emo" and "BFF" rarely dampen the startlingly familiar conversations and texts between the game's primary characters. The messaging system which appeared previously in the series is back, and it's a delight to take the time to read each and every one of the dozens of texts in your backlog when the game starts. It informs the relationships between the characters and how they each see their place in the world; Sean's conversation with his best friend Lyla evolves from entirely believable teenage banter into a grim exchange over watching the final presidential debate, foreshadowing the sociopolitical climate that defines the events to come.

Conversations never occur in a vacuum, devoid of pre-existing relationships between the characters. Whether it's Sean commentating on how his Dad hates sushi but buys it for them anyway, or Lyla lamenting the price of therapists, Dontnod's writing makes almost every one of its characters feel like a fully realized person with their own fears, motivations, and intricate web of relationships. It's this writing, alongside the game's fierce attention to detail, which supports the strength of its overarching narrative and character development.

Interactions are also more dynamic and free-flowing than before. Changes in the world elicit a reaction from both Sean and those around him, which feels far more realistic and aids in grounding the characters in the world. If Sean switches on his music player he'll sing along to the cued up track from The Streets, and Lyla will comment on the music playing during their Skype call. Some conversations will even start automatically when you enter the range of a person who has something to say to you.

Small changes to the series' standard gameplay mechanics and their effects on the story deepen your immersion further. When the journey grows arduous, it's wonderful that the game lets you join in the boys' small moments of joy. While the brothers bounce on a motel room bed to Banquet by Bloc Party, the game ties your left mouse button to a camera zoom and mouse motion to bopping the camera up and down so you can jump along with them. The game's licensed tracks and original score by Syd Matters, who also scored the original, underpin the tone of the game and the internal states of the characters to great effect. There's a mix of teenage adrenaline, curiosity, and uncertainty in the score during Sean and Daniel's first foray onto the open road that does a good job of putting you inside Sean's headspace.

Sean can also observe and draw certain scenes in his sketchbook, an initially charming idea which unfortunately doesn't work in practice. While the "flick the left joystick about wildly" instruction is somewhat effective with a controller, these sections are almost unplayable with a mouse due to a lack of helpful feedback. There are a few other occasions where the presentation of the game and character reactions don't quite gel, such as Daniel asking Sean what kind of animals are in the woods after reading a sign that very clearly depicts a bear on it. Fortunately, these moments of disconnect are rare, and more often your interactions with the world are not only sensible but change what unravels later on in the game.

Much like the original game, the decisions you make will impact you and the people around you. This time around, your companion isn't a pot-smoking, blue-haired rebel, but your little brother, and he is impressionable. At one point you're given the option to purchase much-needed supplies from a general store. Your choices up to that point will have determined how much money you have and what supplies you already have with you. You can either buy what you can afford or opt to steal, but doing so will change the way your brother perceives you and his actions later in the game. His demeanor and actions will also change based on how you take care of him, how much respect you pay him, and the way you speak to others when he's in earshot. Scaring Daniel too much in the forest will give him nightmares later, while teaching him to skip rocks and bonding with him over being wolves brings you closer. This adds another layer to the care you put in when making choices.

The most striking and positive difference in Life Is Strange 2 is the diversity of its cast of characters and voice actors and the decision to tell stories from those perspectives. To Sean, who has lived in Seattle all his life, his ethnicity doesn't define the way he lives. Though, he and Daniel do giggle at a gas station flyer that claims to offer Spanish lessons and occasionally slip into Spanish, particularly when referring to each other. Sean's voicework, performed by Gonzalo Martin, doubles down on his characterization as a Latino teenager brought up in America. His accent is mostly American but with an occasional Mexican inflection, which is a lovely touch that grounds the character in his ancestry.

It's Sean's next-door neighbor that kicks off Sean's first major confrontation with racism at his doorstep. Esteban explains to Sean early on that "things are scary in this country right now." Sean's neighbor tells him to go back to his country, multiple characters say Sean is the reason they need to "build that wall," and one even threatens to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The tensest moments are heightened further by Martin's voicework, which shifts dramatically to a desperate, frightened delivery that brought me to tears more than once. It's wildly uncomfortable and heartbreaking being on the receiving end of confrontations which depict racism and witnessing police brutality.

While going into any more detail would be spoiling the story, Dontnod's deft and delicate storytelling style lends itself to depicting these important but rarely told perspectives with care, particularly in the face of highly charged and controversial issues. The commentary on a fragile and volatile modern-day America and how it impacts the people within it is a hefty, albeit admirable, undertaking. It will be telling how these issues are handled as the series develops through the episodes ahead. There were also some repercussions to my actions in the first chapter of Life Is Strange 2, but nothing that made me feel as if I couldn't recover from a bad choice; it remains to be seen what consequences may arise over the four episodes still to come.

As the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 concludes, Sean finds himself driving south, away from Arcadia Bay, the setting of the first game. The references to that town and all that happened within it are few and far between in the sequel, but the excellence in character and worldbuilding remain. Dontnod retains its expertise in depicting a teenager's unique struggles with their identity, relationships, and the way they fit into their world, while adding new gameplay mechanics that lend a stronger emotional investment to your decision-making. Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 is a triumphant first chapter, featuring a narrative that fearlessly reflects the lives of two Latino brothers living in our politically-charged climate.

Categories: Games

Forza Horizon 4 Launch Trailer Tears Up The Countryside

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/26/2018 - 02:30

Every Forza Horizon game has done a great job of taking peaceful, beautiful locations and use them as foundation for really cool driving set pieces. Forza Horizon 4 is no exception, showing the United Kingdom at an adrenaline-fueled high speed. You can check it out for yourself with the launch trailer below.

The trailer shows off the weather system, four different seasons, and some of the set piece races like a hoverboat and a plane.

Forza Horizon 4 releases on the Xbox One and PC on October 2.

Categories: Games

Assassin's Creed Odyssey's Launch Trailer Narrates The World Ahead Of You

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 22:55

There's just a few short days until Assassin's Creed Odyssey releases, meaning it's time for everyone's favorite piece of the game launch cycle: launch trailers. Odyssey is no slouch here, either, as the two minute trailer gives you a good idea from what to expect in the very first story of the series.

The trailer focuses on Alexios rather than Kassandra as he cuts people up in battle and climbs on things. It also closes with a tease toward the monsters that your assassin will be facing later in the game.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 5.

Categories: Games

<p>Last Friday, the independent studio,

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 20:47

Last Friday, the independent studio, Convict Games released its first project titled Stone, and so far, it’s looking pretty wavy.

An interactive story-based game, Stone draws heavily from underground hip hop, art, and stoner culture to tell the story of a koala bear private investigator searching for his kidnapped lover. In typical noir fashion, gameplay revolves around the titular Stone as he interrogates the local eccentric cast of anthropomorphic animals, taking the persuasive route or hard-boiled bad cop routine to sift out the truth.

In addition to the story, players can also enjoy other “stoner-inspired” leisure activities like smoking, tripping on hallucinogens and taking shots at the local dive bar appropriately named the “Smoky Possum.” Players can also dance at the club to officially licensed songs by upcoming indie artists and watch classic films like Night of the Living Dead and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

With its funky art style, the game is riddled with references to film, art and music with one character wearing a bucket hat and sunglasses very much like Hunter S. Thompson’s character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The game also maintains a unique Australian flavor with characters speaking “Aussie slang” and its protagonist, of course, being a koala bear.

Stone is now available on Steam for PC and MacOS. Stoners and fans of hip-hop can snag a copy for $14.99.

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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 14:00

Creeping through wet, tropical foliage with nothing but a rain poncho and a fiber wire, Hitman 2's latest trailer takes you through the vibrant Colombian rainforest as Agent 47 picks off three cartel bosses in his signature creative style. Set in the tourist village of Santa Fortuna, the trailer shows off lush jungle environments, underground caverns, and the interior of a mansion owned by the local Delgado drug cartel. 

In addition to looking gorgeous, the locale also introduces a new gameplay feature that sees Agent 47 using the the dense vegetation of the Colombian forest to stay hidden and conceal bodies. 

The sequel to 2016's Hitman published by Square Enix, Hitman 2 continues Agent 47's mission but this time as a single release, as opposed to its predecessor's episodic format. Hitman 2 also introduces the new Sniper game mode (see below), where players can work together cooperatively or on their own to take down targets. 

Developed by IO Interactive and published by Warner Bros. Interactive, Hitman 2 is aimed to release November 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

 

Categories: Games

Forza Horizon 4 Review - Vroom, Britannia

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 09/25/2018 - 08:01

Forza Horizon is a series that has always managed to deftly balance accessibility and complexity. It takes the realistic driving mechanics of Forza Motorsport but ditches the intimidating nature of professional racing and ruthless competition. Instead, it uses vibrant locations and positive vibes to amplify and celebrate the joys of driving--the giddiness of speed, the awe of vibrant scenery, and the spectacle of shiny cars. Forza Horizon 4 upholds this tradition. Meaningful changes add interesting gameplay considerations and improve progression flow, on top of its already accommodating difficulty options, a smorgasbord of vehicles, and a beautiful open world overflowing with activities. With Horizon 4, Playground Games continues to excel at making the act of virtual driving exciting, approachable, and entertaining without sacrificing complexity.

Horizon's fourth open-world locale is a version of Great Britain that amalgamates and condenses iconic regions of England, Scotland, and Wales, offering some fantastic terrain to explore. The rolling hills of the English countryside make cross-country driving more thrilling, the Scottish Highlands offer breathtaking highway routes, and the city of Edinburgh's windy, hilly streets serve as an interesting location for street races.

But the biggest change to Horizon is the introduction of seasons. Horizon's Britain cycles between summer, autumn, winter, and spring--and the weather in each season affects the world in tangible ways. These range from the obvious, like bodies of water freezing over, to the near-imperceptible, like the change in temperature affecting your tires. But seasons truly require you to adapt both your technique and your vehicle, and this variety produces a unique dynamic--the same dirt course you drive in summer will be boggy after an autumn rain, and asphalt roads will get slicker during the winter snow. In the first few hours of Horizon 4, the seasons will change after you've completed a number of activities, and this quick cycle reveals how necessary it is to consider and adjust your driving. But once you complete a whole cycle, the implementation of seasons changes: They'll then be tied to an online server, synchronized for all players, and will rotate every seven days.

Online functionality has a larger emphasis in Horizon 4--when playing solo, the game will discreetly connect you into an online session with up to 72 other players. You can also form a convoy of up to 12 people, as well as compete in ranked or unranked team adventures for seasonal prizes. It's still easy to focus on playing solo at your own pace, and you can still go offline completely and drive against AI. But Horizon 4's expanded online functionality does offer worthwhile activities to encourage you to connect with other people. Head-to-head races are more interesting against actual human beings, and the weekly change in weather comes with a selection of limited-time, season-specific races and championships as well as challenge missions.

Horizon also features recurring "#Forzathon Live" public events, which puts the call out to players in a session to gather together and cooperate to hit a combined score pool in a certain activity. You'll earn currency to spend in an exclusive Forzathon shop if you're successful, but these events become tedious quickly, as you'll be running the same activity--like a single drift zone or danger jump--repeatedly until the group hits the score target.

But the missed opportunity of Forzathon Live events is just a tiny scuff in Horizon's otherwise comprehensive and inviting gamut of activities. Irrespective of online seasonal events, there are a large number of vehicular disciplines to pursue, the majority of which allow you the great flexibility of shaping a race around your vehicle of choice--though you'll still need to use your best cars to perform well in things like speed and drift challenges. You're also now able to create your own custom courses, and the series' more creative pursuits return with story missions--which feature things like stunt driving and nice homages to other racing games--and the entertaining, if highly choreographed, showcase races against things like planes, trains, and Halo's Warthogs.

Progression has changed from Forza Horizon 3--you no longer expand multiple festival sites to uncover activities. Instead, each discipline has its own corresponding progression meter. Participating in a particular kind of activity enough times, win or lose, will eventually level up that discipline, reward you, and unlock more activities of that kind on the map. It's an exciting and friendly system that stretches you out to the furthest reaches of the world quickly, makes it feel like something new and interesting to do is always nearby, and rewards you no matter what you decide to participate in and how you perform. Even after hours and hours of play, Horizon 4 kept revealing surprises by introducing brand-new styles of activities, keeping the game's flow feeling fresh.

It always feels like there's a reward in reach, too. With both individual meters for disciplines and an overall progression meter, you're often just a couple more races away from earning a level-up prize. The slot machine-style wheelspins also return, now with a variant that lets you pull for three prizes, and thankfully they still remain siloed from any real-world monetary transactions. Horizon 4 has a larger variety of potential rewards, too. The bigger focus on online interactions means driver customization is a big deal, which throws hundreds of unisex clothing options, quick chat phrases, and dance emotes into the pool. This means you might occasionally get a boring prize like a pair of shoes, but the pace of compensation is steady enough to make this negligible and also makes the rare occasion of nabbing a free car all the more satisfying.

Horizon 4 boasts 100 more vehicles over its predecessor, with a total of 450 in the base game. While Japanese car enthusiasts will definitely notice the absence of Mitsubishi and Toyota vehicles (no more Initial D Sprinter), Volkswagen has held over from Motorsport 7 (bringing classic Beetles, Kombis, and Golfs), as have a few new vehicles like racing trucks. Once again, Horizon features an array of tinkering options for enthusiasts, as well as auto-upgrade options and a number of accommodating driving assists for those who'd rather only think about accelerating and turning.

Regardless of how you drive, vehicles feel weighty, handle believably, and each one now has its own individual perk tree. Earning skill points while performing both reckless and prudent driving maneuvers will allow you to unlock nodes that add buffs to your skill point accumulation, or earn one-off rewards like wheelspins or influence (the game's experience measure). It's a great change from Horizons 3's global skill tree, because it encourages you to stick with a vehicle, get to know it intimately, and have the advantage of a higher rate of reward. Skill points come readily if you're driving at least somewhat competently, and you're free to use points you earn on any vehicle, which makes swapping your go-to car less of a blow to your progression if you've already banked some extra points.

Horizon's global perks have been transferred to another new feature, Properties, which replace festival sites as your garage and customization hubs. Finding and buying properties around the map is relatively expensive, but the perks some contain are useful, and properties all act as valuable fast travel points. Fast travel still costs you in-game currency, at least until you find and break all 50 fast-travel boards, but Horizon 4 does make other very welcome improvements in the interest of accessibility and quality of life, including the ability to change cars for free and at any time.

There's such a diverse range of activities stuffed into every corner of Horizon 4, and meaningful changes contribute to smart driving dynamics and a more consistent sense of achievement. Everything you do in Horizon feels valuable, no matter how big or small--from the basic thrills of speeding a fast car down a gorgeous mountain highway to spending time tinkering with your favorite ride to manage seasonal road conditions to just hanging out with friends and strangers online and goofing off in friendly games. The charm of the Horizon series is as palpable as ever, a winning, all-inclusive recipe that celebrates the joy of driving above all else.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 19:36

Nickelodeon has partnered with Bamtang Games for the upcoming Nickelodeon Kart Racers, coming to PS4, Xbox One, and Switch on October 23. In advance of the release, the studio has pulled together a trailer for the kid-friendly release, which offers the opportunity to see the many familiar faces that will be part of the racer, including characters from Spongebob Squarepants, Hey Arnold!, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In the kart racer, characters from this disparate mix of fictional universes are all racing around tracks on which green slime plays a major role. Slime helps to fill up your turbo meter, but when you win a race, it’s also the substance that falls all over your character while he/she stands on the podium.

Check out the trailer for a look at the family-targeted driving game.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 09/24/2018 - 19:33

Call of Duty just released a new trailer that shows off all the upcoming mayhem that’s to be expected from the latest game by Treyarch.

Showcasing all three of its game modes, including multiplayer, zombies, and its new battle royale mode dubbed Blackout, the trailer features familiar faces like Frank Woods from the original Black Ops campaign, and the undead tiger seen in a previous trailer. Wingsuits, ATVs, and some high-tech looking revolvers also make an appearance along with more footage of what to expect from the three different zombies modes. Set to a Diplo soundtrack, the trailer is also interspersed by some exciting cutscenes and frenetic gameplay. 

For more updates on the game, you can check out our hub of exclusive content where we discuss the game’s lore, provide exclusive interviews and answer lingering questions.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is set to release October 12 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Categories: Games

New Death Stranding Trailer Introduces Troy Baker's Character

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 09/23/2018 - 16:23

A new Death Stranding trailer was shown at TGS (Tokyo Game Show), which introduces an antagonist who wears a golden mask and is voiced by Troy Baker.

In the minute-long teaser, we see the mysterious character use his mask to conjure a terrifying beast from the world's oily black goo. 

"All you gotta do to make it out alive, is not get eaten," he threatens Norman Reedus' character.

The trailer, like most other Death Stranding teasers, raises more questions than it answers. It's unclear whether this is in-game footage or purely cinematic. But it does look cool.

While Troy Baker will be joining the English cast, Satoshi Mikami will voice the same character in Japanese.

During the panel at TGS, Hideo Kojima also revealed artwork for the upcoming game, which you can view below.

2nd batch of Death Stranding character art pic.twitter.com/zHQNKMKg3F

— Nibel (@Nibellion) September 23, 2018

For more on Death Stranding, check out our thoughts from E3's gameplay reveal. The game has no release date just yet, but is coming to PlayStation 4.

Categories: Games

Life Is Strange 2 Launch Trailer Shows More People, Strangeness

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 22:17

With the lead up to the game's launch later this week, Square Enix has dropped a launch trailer for Life is Strange 2, which includes a bit of new footage.

While the trailer recounts much of the overall plot of Life is Strange to (you can find a thorough breakdown of what's going on in our preview), we get to see the brothers interact with a few new characters, which shows off that, for better or worse, Sean and Daniel won't always be alone on their journey.

Life is Strange 2 is scheduled to release on September 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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