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    #WarGames Review – Not Quite A Winning Move

    By GameInformer,


    While Sam Barlow’s previous game, Her Story, channels the appeal of older technology to tell an enriching mystery, his latest effort stokes more current anxieties. #WarGames touches on the modern surveillance state, our vulnerability to being exposed online, and the veracity of news media. But while its premise and approach to cinematic storytelling are intriguing, its storytelling lacks the punch necessary to build on its novelty.

    #WarGames does a good job of making you feel like a voyeuristic hacker. The story plays out through an interface of shifting video feeds of characters’ webcams and phones, as well as security feeds, Twitter pages, and more. You can highlight a specific feed to enlarge it, letting you pick up on a few minor character moments you might otherwise miss. You can also alter the story depending on which feeds you focus on, but shifting to a specific character’s video didn’t make me feel like an active participant in the story. Instead, I felt like a moviegoer who had to do a little extra work to get the full picture.

    The multi-screen approach to storytelling puts a large emphasis on characters, which #WarGames falters on as often as it succeeds. The story follows Kelly “L1ghtman” Grant, one part of the hobbyist hacker crew “#WarGames,” who enjoys screwing with celebrities and uploading viral videos exposing them. When Kelly sees a misleading report on the news accusing her now-deceased veteran mother of treason, however, she and the #WarGames crew start tackling more personal targets.

    Actor Jess Nurse does a great job of bringing Kelly to life, and she quickly won me over.  Many of the secondary characters, such as bratty schoolkid Zane or mother-of-two Torch, are hit-or-miss; awkward lines and overeager deliveries reminded me more of a budget TV series than a blockbuster film. This is clearly Kelly’s story, but you don’t get enough screen time with anyone else for them to develop. Still, the interactions between #WarGames, their allies, and their targets lead to some fun moments, especially as the action ramps up during a couple of heists.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    The plot also draws parallels to real-world events, such as the controversy surrounding U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, the circulation of US weapons to war-torn countries, and the doxxing and exposing of high-profile celebrities. These are all fascinating threads to pull on, and the story is at its best when it explores their implications. But the plot only skims their surface, leading to a bland story that stifles its message and ends on a disappointing cliffhanger.

    You can go back through the season once you’ve finished all six episodes, but there isn’t much reason to. The additional scenes you unlock by focusing on different screens don’t justify multiple playthroughs. You might learn a thing or two about different characters, but you can’t meaningfully alter the course of the plot.

    The biggest difference I encountered comes when the #WarGames crew tries to sneak into a target’s hotel room. On my first playthrough, Kelly acted as a diversion by confronting the target head-on long enough for her boyfriend Rafi to get in and out of the room undetected. The second time, Zane was able to activate the sprinklers, forcing everyone out of the building and letting Rafi get away. Most other differences, however, are negligible.

    #WarGames’ TV-style branding suggests a second season might soon emerge, but I’m not invested in seeing it continue at this point. It has potential as an experiment in interactive storytelling, but it’s going to take better acting, more meaningful choices, and meatier subject matter to keep me on board.

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    Little Dragons Café Is Just As Charming As It Sounds

    By GameInformer,


    Last month, Aksys Games unveiled Little Dragons Café, an adorable game that combines restaurant management, raising a dragon, and cooking. It's a concept that interested us immediately, and today, we were able to get our first hands-on time with it on Nintendo Switch.

    Aksys teamed up with Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada to bring Little Dragons Café to life. The story follows twins Ren and Rin, whose mother mysteriously falls into a deep sleep and is unable to wake up. You can play as either twin and name them whatever you wish. The sibling you choose not to play appears as your brother or sister in the café. After meeting a plump, wizard-like old man named Pappy, the twins discover that the only way to save their mother is to raise a dragon and feed it delicious food. At first, the two are overwhelmed at the idea of running a café without their mother, but once they learn the ropes, everything becomes smoother.

    Running the business requires you to venture out into the wilds on your island. This island was instantly engaging to me, filled with animals that have colorful, food-like appearances, such as one beast having what looks like a chicken leg bone for a tail. Hunting these creatures gives you ingredients, but if they attack you, they may eat up ingredients you've already collected. Luckily, when your dragon grows older, it can help you take them down.

    You can also fish at certain spots by the water. The fishing minigame is easy to play, requiring you to press A to cast, and then A again to reel. If you reel in when a fish is biting, which is indicated by two exclamation points, you can catch a fish and bring it back to the café. 

    As you gather ingredients, you also look for recipe fragments. When you collect four of one type, you learn a new recipe to cook for patrons at the café. I enjoyed searching around for recipe fragments and even instructing my dragon to crawl into hard-to-reach spaces, like a small cave, that I couldn't enter myself.

    Your customers come from all over the world, and they may offer you quests and recipes of their own if you satisfy them with a good meal. These patrons come with unique problems, and your food can help bring them peace. Cooking comes in the form of a rhythm minigame, where you press arrows at the correct time. The only recipe I made in the demo was sunny-side up fried eggs. The rhythm segment was very simple, only taking about five seconds to complete, though this was part of a tutorial segment early on in the game. Difficulty ramps up later when you acquire tougher recipes. 

    What I enjoyed most about Little Dragons Café was the concept of raising my dragon, as well as exploration. How far you can venture out depends on what stage of life your dragon is at. For example, when you hit stage three, your dragon can fly and you can ride on its back to reach areas that were inaccessible beforehand (though I didn't get to fly the dragon in my demo). Wada said the open world is "pretty big," and has distinct areas, including a large volcano. Your dragon's name and color are customizable, too. The latter depends on what you feed it; providing many dishes that have a blue indicator will eventually turn your dragon blue.

    Little Dragons Café has a delightful world and concept, and it was just as charming as I had hoped. While I still have many questions, I'm excited to raise a dragon and hunt for new recipes when this title releases for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in the summer.

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    Rare Discusses Sea Of Thieves' Launch Issues

    By GameInformer,


    We don't expect a pirate's life to be easy, but players of Sea of Thieves have been encountering inconveniences that make the simulation difficult to enjoy.

    Rare has posted an update about the status of various complications in the game (which only launched a couple days ago), giving a timeframe for various fixes and suggestions for avoiding the problems.

    Some of the known issues include delayed achievements, missing items, and Xbox One X performance issues. For the full rundown, click on the update above or watch the video below:

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    While our official Sea of Thieves review is still in the works, we do have staff members playing the game and sharing their thoughts.

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    Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Edition Hits May 29

    By GameInformer,


    Capcom announced that Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Edition is bursting onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on May 29. First teased during the Capcom Cup at 2017's PlayStation Experience, the collection encapsulates all of the arcade cabinet classics. Here's a list of all the games that are included with this anniversary edition:

    • Street Fighter
    • Street Fighter II
    • Street Fighter II: Champion Edition
    • Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting
    • Super Street Fighter II
    • Super Street Fighter II: Turbo 
    • Street Fighter Alpha
    • Street Fighter Alpha 2
    • Street Fighter Alpha 3
    • Street Fighter III
    • Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact
    • Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    Those who pre-order the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Edition on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC will also receive Ultra Street Fighter IV at no additional cost. If you can't get enough Street Fighter, check out the new DLC coming to Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, courtesy of the Capcom Pro Tour.

    [Source: Playstation Blog]

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    The Next Elder Scrolls Online Expansion Returns To The Series' Roots

    By GameInformer,


    Elder Scrolls Online already mined fans of the series' nostalgia by returning to Morrowind, the setting of one of the most beloved Elder Scrolls game, with an expansion that was well-received by the community. Today Bethesda revealed they were once again digging into the series' past but this time going all the way back to the beginning.

    The new expansion pack, Summerset, will focus on the isle of Summerset, the home of the High Elves, and a setting that hasn't been seen since Elder Scrolls: Arena. The expansion introduces a new zone, the isle itself, for players to explore, a major quest, new skills, and the ability to craft jewlery. Bethesda says that new players can jump into the expansion with ease since Summerset includes a tutorial and starter area.

    You can watch the cinematic announcement trailer for the expansion pack right here:

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    Summerset will launch on June 6. The standard edition of Summerset (which includes ESO) will cost $39.99. If you already have the base game and just want to upgrade, you can grab Summerset for $29.99.

    If you want to try ESO for free, the game is running a trial until March 27.


    Our Take
    Given how much press and how enamanmored players were with ESO giving them the chance to revisit Morrowind, it makes sense Bethesda would want to mine the nostalgia some more. We're curious to see if Summerset brings a huge number of players back to ESO's world.

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    RPG Grind Time – The Community Is One Of Monster Hunter: World's Biggest Successes

    By GameInformer,


    Toxicity and online games are almost inseparable these days. Something about working together always seems to bring out the worst in people. From an early age, society tries to prepare us for this challenge by giving us group projects and ways to handle our differing opinions. Still, you can’t deny the tension of a group setting, and the anonymity of the internet tempts people to be more brazen, including slinging insults and griefing. Through the years, we’ve watched this fester in MMORPGs and competitive games such as League of Legends and Overwatch, but something feels very different with the Monster Hunter community: it’s a welcoming atmosphere where players genuinely want to help others. 

    Monster Hunter: World was the first game where the “gotta hunt them all” craze totally captivated me. I had tried previous entries but never found comfort with the controls and complicated mechanics. A few nights ago, the credits finally rolled for me on World. I defeated all the high-rank monsters, leaving me with the option to continue to rank up by fighting these baddies for cooler armor and bragging rights. I started as a complete noob, but worked my way to understanding the game, slowly learning new weapon strategies and monster patterns. 

    One thing I keep thinking about is those downright dirty late-game battles and how I would not have succeeded without firing off SOS flares for help from the community. At first, I was intimidated to let strangers help me, opting to ask friends instead. I haven’t had the best experience with working with strangers. Even in games I love, like Overwatch, I dread playing with strangers, because they often provide overtly negative feedback, with players casting blame, yelling expletives, or suggesting puzzling strategies. 

    Something different happened with Monster Hunter. One night I was struggling with some of the high-rank monsters and decided to send out a flare. What did I have to lose? I could beat myself over the head trying by myself or prolong making progress by waiting for friends to log in… or I could just ask for help from strangers. What I got when I sent that first flare out was more than I bargained for: Friendly hunters who just wanted to help me succeed in these larger-than-life battles. I never once felt judged even when I made poor decisions. If anything, the community has been nothing but encouraging, teaching me strategies to ensure I flourished. The positivity inspired me to pay it forward and answer SOS flares. In one instance, Japanese teammates and I used stickers to convey how proud we were of our success, which became one of my favorite moments. The game brought me together with people from around the world, and we celebrated our teamwork instead of decimating the flaws or casting blame if someone fainted, decreasing the rewards. 

    After these encounters, I kept saying to myself, “Why aren’t more communities like this?” If they were, I doubt the anxiety, dread, or eye-rolls I frequently have when entering an online game would occur. I find I play better when I have players pumping me up, not putting me down. You could argue Monster Hunter requires coordination and cooperation, making it in people’s best interest to be positive, but so do MMORPGs and competitive games like Dota 2. We know a high level of toxicity occurs there, and these communities are not known to be kind to new players, often berating or playing tricks on them. I’d argue back that losing a long fight to slay a monster is devastating, so much that you would think it would invite toxicity as people come away with nothing but lost time. That’s not the case, and I can’t point my finger on exactly what the difference is, but I know something special is here. Need more proof? Before Monster Hunter: World even came out, veterans created an Adopt-A-Hunter program to help new players acclimate to game, showing them the ropes. This kindness and desire to help is a sight to behold, and it’s a good example of how an online community should function and prosper.

    I’ve always heard great things about the Monster Hunter community, but I worried with this entry’s mainstream success that might change. I fired and answered tons of SOS flares and have yet to have a bad experience, but that doesn’t mean things are perfect. After all, Capcom did have to patch players being able to stun others during carvings to make sure teammates of griefers didn’t miss out on precious loot. Even in the strongest communities, there will be bad apples and these instances are the exception. If anything, the increased popularity seems to have made the community stronger. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, as I tweeted asking people why they like the community and examples of their best moments. I received so many wonderful responses, and the below excerpts are only a selection of the outpouring of positive experiences, from newbies and veterans alike.









    Some of my most memorable moments in games come from working as a team to succeed. I’ve also been on the butt end of someone’s poor attitude ruining a fun time. Monster Hunter: World makes me excited to interact with its community in a way I haven’t ever felt. It embraces all the things that make cooperative games a blast, such as overcoming a harrowing challenge, honing your coordination, and being selfless enough to share items and strategies. Every time, I fire an SOS flare, I have this trust, knowing someone will help me through the hard battle and we’ll all feel the adrenaline rush of finally taking down the big baddies together. Carving is so much better when you have three other people at your side, strangers or friends. Monster Hunter makes you look forward to your interactions with others in a way few games do. I wish more communities felt this friendly.

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