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It's Thanksgiving in the US and Supergiant Games is wishing fans a happy holiday with the head chef from Hades himself. Is this news? No, but it's pretty obvious that we here at Game Informer have been mildly obsessed with game, and this was too cute not to share.
The studio took to Twitter to wish a happy holiday to fans by saying, "The Head Chef of the House of Hades got wind of something called a 'Thanksgiving' today, time to break out the fancy cutlery."
The Head Chef of the House of Hades got wind of something called a 'Thanksgiving' today? Time to break out the fancy cutlery.— Supergiant Games (@SupergiantGames) November 26, 2020
We hope you have a safe and happy holiday if you're celebrating, and enjoy this little moment by @Thinh_Anim, @artpaiges, and @kirbyLFO. #HadesGame pic.twitter.com/UCHHQlXqmf
For those that haven't played Hades, it's a charming roguelite that took the gaming world by store. It's even up for Game of the Year for 2020's Game Awards show dropping next month.
Filled with Greek mythology legends in a stunning art style, this adventure has captured the hearts of so many; even those that don't usually like this kind of game.
We couldn't get enought of Supergiant's new game. Our own Matt Miller gave the experience an 8.5, saying "The story is stretched across too many hours of play to maintain excitement throughout, but there’s absolutely a rich bounty of content to uncover along the way. Hades is a massive game, with a wealth of additional content to appease even the most hardcore of engagement. A “god mode” offers a gradual increase in damage resistance after each death, putting victory in reach for even those with a cap on their skills. On the other hand, risk-takers looking for more rewards can eventually access a way to increase the difficulty. Alternate boss fights, new weapon aspects, hidden storylines, and plenty more invite the player to get lost in Hades’ potential. These variants and additional options provide life to the game, long after the charm of standard completion attempts begins to wear out."
For those celebrating today, we hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday.
In this week's episode of The Game Informer Show, we discuss a handful of the games we've been playing recently, including Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Kentucky Route Zero, Demon's Souls, and Pumpkin Jack. Then, we interview Josh Tsui, the director of the documentary Insert Coin, which chronicles the success of Midway during its arcade heyday, which saw the release of games like Narc, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and Smash TV. It's a full show, but we make time for another fantastic round of community emails in there somewhere. So please join Blake Hester, Liana Ruppert, Alex Stadnik, and myself for another wild and ever-entertaining episode!
Thanks for listening! Please make sure to leave feedback below, share the episode if you enjoyed it, and follow me @benjaminreeves to let me know what you think. You can watch the video above, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, listen on SoundCloud, stream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show!
Our thanks to The Rapture Twins for The Game Informer Show's intro song. You can hear more of their music at their website.
To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below.
Kentucky Route Zero: 00:01:58
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War: 00:08:24
Demon's Souls: 00:19:46
PS5 Controller Haptics/Adaptive Triggers: 00:22:08
Destiny 2: Beyond Light: 00:26:14
Pumpkin Jack: 00:31:48
Community Emails: 00:33:39
Josh Sway Interview: 01:21:28
The success of Final Fantasy VII Remake hinged on one central question: Would Square Enix be able to respect the classic 1997 original while also creating a modern RPG that was good on its own merits? When the game released earlier this year, fans learned that the answer to that question was a resounding “yes.” The years of anticipation paid off, and the end result was a memorable journey that artfully mixed old and new. But with that matter settled, a new question has arisen: Can Square Enix do it again?
While the first game was undoubtedly a complete experience, much of the original story remains to be told. The second installment of the Final Fantasy VII remake is already in production, and the development team is undoubtedly weighing how to approach this next chapter. As much as I personally enjoyed this year’s release, the formula still has room for change and improvement. With that in mind, here’s my wishlist for what I’d like to see in the sequel to Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Even though early Final Fantasy games share similar turn-based combat systems, all of the modern entries have experimented with unique mixes of real-time action and menu-based commands. Final Fantasy VII Remake hits a real sweet spot there; the battles are stylish yet strategic, and the ability to swap control between party members highlights the different characters’ playstyles. Long story short, it’s one of the best combat systems in the whole series, so I don’t want the sequel to go back to the drawing board completely.
I won’t reveal too much here, but one interpretation of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s ending is that it opens the doors for the rest of the narrative to be drastically different from the original. This first remake struck a great balance, alternating between faithful recreations and unexpected surprises, and it would be a shame to lose that. I still hope the team makes interesting changes and additions to the foundation, as long as the plot doesn’t go shooting off into completely uncharted territory. If you want to hear more on this topic, you can check out our spoiler-filled discussion about the ending.
I don’t mind the fact that Final Fantasy VII Remake made Sephiroth an important part of the story sooner than the original. He’s a cool and iconic villain! But here’s the problem: He can’t maintain the same threatening mystique in the remake if players fight (and defeat) him multiple times throughout the course of several installments. If Sephiroth is going to hold up as a worthy foe, Square Enix needs to show a little more restraint and only bring him out for the important moments. He loses his menace if he’s constantly popping up in visions, cutscenes, fights, etc.
One of my few serious complaints about Final Fantasy VII Remake is the quality of the side content. They involved a lot of basic item-fetching and monster-killing tasks for generic NPCs. I’d love to see more interesting objectives, and get them from people who feel more like real characters with their own stories to tell. Also, it would be great if the sidequests were a bit more spread out, rather than being crammed together in just a few chapters.
Red XIII In Disguise
I don’t care how stupid it is. This needs to happen.
Okay, here’s the one exception to the whole “Sephiroth Restraint” thing I was talking about before. We need to see Cloud’s recollection of events in Nibelheim. In the original game, this happens during a flashback when the party reaches the town of Kalm, but it could unfold in a variety of ways. It just needs to hit three key points: Players should see Sephiroth’s full power on display, witness his descent into madness, and get a glimpse of Cloud while he was still aligned with Shinra. As long as that happens, I’ll be happy.
The summoned monsters in Final Fantasy VII Remake are powerful and impressive, but the whole system surrounding them needs a bit of work. You can rarely ever make summons part of your strategy, because they aren’t reliably available in all fights. I’m sure the intent was to prevent players from just summoning their way to victory all the time, but this approach seems like an overcorrection. Despite appearances from iconic creatures like Ifrit and Leviathan, I rarely ever used summons because they felt like afterthoughts.
I understand that directly transferring my save file from the first game to the second probably isn’t going to happen. After all, I spent a ton of time with Final Fantasy VII Remake's unique take on new game plus, and toiled away in the Shinra Combat Simulator earning the game-breaking Gotterdammerung accessory. If all that power carried over, it would just make things too easy for the sequel. But I want some recognition of the progress my characters have made! Maybe that means some bonus gear? Or a nice selection of materia from the start? If nothing else, I hope the next game acknowledges which of the three possible scenes players earned in Aerith's garden.
Look, I didn’t especially like Roche, but his appearances in Final Fantasy VII Remake will be even more baffling and pointless if he doesn’t resurface in future games. There needs to a be a reason he was built up and added to the story; he can’t just be limited to a motorcycle chase and a boss fight, right?
This may just be a dream, but I’d really like to play as the Turks for a bit. They’re cool characters, and it would be awesome to see how they can combine their different skills and work as a team. Just putting that out there in the universe.
For more on Final Fantasy VII Remake, watch our video">https://www.gameinformer.com/video-feature/2020/10/30/final-fantasy-vii… essay about departures and reunions, or read our Q&A">https://www.gameinformer.com/afterwords/2020/05/21/final-fantasy-vii-re… with the developers about how and why they made the choices they did during development.
Shadowlands offers a new leveling experience with Threads of Fate. This new game mode allows you to level your other characters in the Shadowlands by selecting a Covenant prior to level 60, choosing which zones you want to level up in regardless of level, and earn rewards to benefit your Covenant as you level up. Along the way, you’ll have access to some of your Covenant’s amenities including flight paths, signature abilities, and you can get a head start on earning your Covenant’s Renown by depositing Anima you collect into their reservoir.
Choose Your Destiny
To explore this new adventure-style mode, you must reach level 60 and complete the first chapter of your Covenant Campaign (Kyrian: “Among the Kyrian,” Necrolord: “Loyal to the Primus,” Night Fae: “For Queen and Grove!,” and Venthyr: “Sinfall”). Threads of Fate will become accessible to your level 50 to 59 characters once they complete the quest, “Stand as One” given by Anduin Wrynn during the Maw’s introductory questline. After completing “Stand as One,” you’ll be transported to Oribos where you can speak with Fatescribe Roh-Tahl to choose leveling with the Threads of Fate option.
Tip: Having second thoughts on how you want to progress your new character? You can choose to instead replay the storyline when you speak with Fatescribe Roh-Tahl, however, once you choose Threads of Fate, you can’t go back on it.
Once you’ve selected Threads of Fate, you’ll be instructed to pick any of the four Covenants for your character and choose which zone you want to continue your adventure in. Upon entering one of the zones, you’ll notice that the main story quests will be marked as complete, flight paths will unlock, and you’ll receive a progress bar quest that credits experience. Fill the progress bar by completing any side quests, World Quests, Bonus Objectives, Rare Elites, and defeating dungeon bosses. Note that War Mode won’t offer more bonuses and defeating enemy or random creatures will not grant credit toward the progression bar. After you complete your progression bar quest, return to Fatescribe Roh-Tahl in Oribos to turn it in for a large experience gain and select another zone to complete.
When you reach level 60, you’ll finish your Threads of Fate playthrough and will be able to continue earning Anima and your Covenant’s favor for rewards and prepare for end-game activities.
2020 has seen its fair share of innovative experiences. The Last of Us Part II raised new bars in interactive storytelling. Half-Life: Alyx set a standard for story-driven VR campaigns. Watch Dogs: Legion ditched NPCs for a city filled with recruitable allies. Even Final Fantasy VII Remake reinvented itself into an amazing new experience that, from a design standpoint, barely resembles its original RPG form. That’s all well and good, but I’d like to redirect some of that spotlight to a pair of games that didn’t need a dump truck of fancy bells and whistles to be barrels of fun: Streets of Rage 4 and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.
As a childhood fan of both series, I had a blast playing through these games. Their nostalgic design evoked the joy of simpler days, providing a warm blanket of comfort to shield me from whatever 2020’s Crisis of the Day was. Sure, they each sport a few new tweaks under the hood, but the additions feel like garnishes meant to complement their largely familiar designs; toppings of digital crème fraiche, if you will.
Streets of Rage 4 shows that beat ‘em ups, which have sunk back into obscurity after their renaissance during the PS3/360/Wii era, still have gas left in the tank. The game plays similarly to its predecessors (namely Streets of Rage 2) but reinvigorates itself with a slick comic book art direction, deeper combo system, and, most importantly, a killer soundtrack. It might not be the deepest game in the world, but it shows that punching goons in the face, whether alone or with friends, remains not only entertaining but, in this stressful time, a cathartic exercise.
Likewise, Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time proves the series’ signature platforming design still works today. The game plays the way I remember as a Crash-obsessed youth, and the new mask abilities fit so well that it’s almost weird to think they didn’t exist before now. The game might be tough. Okay, it’s really tough. But so were the originals, and the higher difficulty only accentuates Crash 4’s wonderful familiarity in a strange, masochistic way.
Innovation is important, but these games remind me that simply doing an established idea well can be just as enjoyable, if not more so. Titles that push the envelope with bold design ideas rock too, but can sometimes feel mentally taxing after a long day. Kentucky Route Zero, for example, is a smartly designed piece of art, but boy did I need to be in a specific mood to parse all of its abstract themes and mechanics. Otherwise, playing it felt like an absolute chore that occasionally made me feel dumb for not always “getting it.” I’ve felt similar burnout in some of my favorite games of the year, such as The Last of Us Part II – incredible game direction and writing, but it could be a lot to digest at times. It’s not that these games aren’t entertaining, it’s just that their big, fancy ideas sometimes required a bit more brain power than I was willing to muster at times. Even with their added tweaks, I can instantly sink into Crash 4 and Streets 4 and turn my brain on autopilot because they’re not doing anything I haven’t done a million times before.
Doing the same old thing gets a bad rap at times. Whenever a new Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed game drops, complaints of them not shaking things up enough dominate some conversations. Some of those criticisms tend to be unfair but I also agree to some extent. At the same time, those are also the experiences in which I find myself melting into a puddle of contentment, and that’s an admirable quality in its own right. Crash Bandicoot and Streets of Rage dial this satisfying sensation up to the nth degree as they’re built entirely around being as familiar and nostalgic as possible.
So here’s just a friendly reminder that sometimes sticking with what works and banking on familiarity over pure innovation can not only be okay, but even preferred. Keep those million-dollar ideas coming of course, but they’re not the be all end all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go beat Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the 58th time.
When I reviewed the Xbox Series X and S earlier this month, I talked about the controller's improvements over its Xbox One counterpart. However, if you played Xbox One using the base gamepad, chances are, it feels pretty familiar, particularly when compared to the myriad innovations present in the PS5 DualSense controller.
Thankfully, you have options if you're looking for a different experience. While all these options carry a premium price tag, they do several things the standard Xbox Series X/S controller does not.
Click image thumbnails to view larger version
Thustmaster eSwap X Pro Wired Controller - $160
Though its shape feels closer to a heavy duty Switch Pro Controller than a premium Xbox Series X/S controller, the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro is a solid option. Probably the most customizable controller on this list, the Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro allows you to swap out various components to achieve the look you want. Using a separate customization pack, I was easily able to change the handles to a cool blue camo print, and change the stock triggers, d-pad, and analog sticks to match the new blue theme. These components are held in place with strong magnets, and even with strenuous play, I never experienced any shifting or loosening of the removable modules. The face buttons and shoulder buttons feel great with a nice click (though I did deal with some slight squeaking on repeated shoulder-button pressing), and the triggers can be switched to a hair-trigger setting with the throw of a switch. If you look on the bottom of the controller, you'll find various chat-control buttons you don't find on the stock Xbox controller.
The Thrustmaster eSwap X Pro also gives you a custom app on the Xbox Store, called the ThrustmapperX. Unfortunately, before I could use the gamepad, I had to update the firmware manually using a special download package straight from the company. The team tells me that it is looking into making it so this isn't required for subsequent units to work on Xbox Series X/S, but for now, it's a minor inconvenience. The gamepad also features four back buttons that offer the same programmable functionality as the paddles of other premium controllers or the PS4 Back-Button Attachment, but the understated buttons don't have the same comfort level as paddles or even the PS4 attachment. While I appreciate the lack of latency provided by the wired configuration, it's unfortunate there isn't a wireless option, as draping a USB cable across my living room floor is less than ideal for casual gaming sessions.
All in all, the Trustmaster eSwap X Pro is a great choice for those looking for a step up in performance, but also want to add a little bit of their own style into how the gamepad looks.
For more information or to buy, head to Thrustmaster.com.
Razer Wolverine V2 Wired Controller - $100
Easily the best value option on this list, the Razer Wolverine V2 feels great in your hands thanks to textured and angled L-shape grips. While not customizable like the other options on this list, the Razer Wolverine V2 provides excellent performance. The controller worked with my Xbox immediately upon plugging it into the system, making it as plug-and-play as possible. The d-pad and the analog sticks feel great, but the face buttons and shoulder buttons feel a bit mushier than I would like. The controller also features tunable triggers and an extra shoulder button on each side to make up for the lack of back buttons/paddles found on other gamepads.
Much like the other entries on this list, the Razer Wolverine V2 also features a customized app to allow you to remap the buttons and tweak the sensitivity of the analog sticks how you'd like. While I miss the extra paddles and buttons on the back, I love the shape and how it feels in my hands. Like the Thrustmaster, I'm bummed that there's no wireless option, but I do like that the USB cable is hardwired into the controller.
If you're interested in a moderate upgrade from your stock Xbox Series X/S controller, the Razer Wolverine V2 Wired Controller provides strong performance at a lower price point than other gamepads on this list.
For more information or to buy, head to Razer.com.
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 - $180
The gold standard controller for Xbox One carries into the new generation. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 may have been created for Xbox One, but thanks to Series X/S's stellar compatibility, it works as though it was made for Microsoft's new console. In addition to delivering an amazing, weighty feel thanks to textured grips and metallic components, it excels in the realm of performance with tunable triggers and swappable d-pad and analog sticks (all included in the package), giving you the ability to choose the length and shape of your sticks, as well as whether you want the traditional plus-sign d-pad or the hybrid, multidirectional d-pad pictured above. However, since these are swapped out without tools and use magnets, my thumb has sometimes knocked the longer sticks off the controller. These instances are rare, but it's super inconvenient to lose a stick during a close Overwatch match or a big play in Madden.
You may have noticed this is the only wireless option on this list, and perhaps one of the biggest selling points for me is the built-in rechargeable battery included in the Elite Series 2. Not only does it prevent me from having to keep AAs handy, but the battery is incredible. I've never had to charge the controller out of necessity since it lasts up to an incredible 40 hours on a single charge; I just throw it on the charger overnight every so often and it never misses a beat. Unfortunately, since it was designed for Xbox One, the new Share button found on the Xbox Series X/S gamepad (and the other controllers on this list) is not present here. However, you can use the native controller-mapping app to add that functionality to any button or paddle should you miss that. Not only that, but you can save three custom-mapped profiles that are accessible through a push of a button. The back-paddles provide the best, most comfortable way to add new inputs, and mapping them using the app is simple.
The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 might be the most expensive option on this list, but it's quite frankly the best controller I've ever used and the only one that rivals the PlayStation 5's innovative DualSense in terms of how big of a step up it is from the previous generation's stock controller.
For more information or to buy, head to Xbox.com.
Do you have any other premium controller options you've checked out for Xbox Series X and S? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!