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    Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview – New Gameplay Today

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
    Developer: 343 Industries
    Release: 2021
    Rating: Teen
    Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

    Halo Infinite has been in the crosshairs of the gaming community since it was announced at E3 2018. Originally set to release last November alongside the launch of the Xbox Series X and S, growing concerns about the game following an extended look at the campaign caused 343 Industries and Microsoft to reconsider when Infinite was ready for prime time.

    Now, almost exactly a year since gameplay was first shown, we’re finally getting hands-on time with Halo Infinite in a technical multiplayer beta. Join Alex Stadnik, Liana Ruppert, and John Carson as they share their first impressions of the game and give a look at Halo Infinite multiplayer in action. How does it look? What’s new and different compared to previous entries? Does it live up to the grandiose reputation of Microsoft’s first-person juggernaut? We cover those questions and more in this episode of New Gameplay Today.

    This technical flight for Halo Infinite is currently limited to folks who signed up for, and were chosen through, the Halo Waypoint website. Multiplayer is one of two modes found within this test, alongside the Academy, a series of gun-specific challenges which lets the player loose at a firing range to rack up high scores. Currently, the multiplayer matches are 4v4 Slayer matches on the new map called Live Fire. It’s a condensed battleground that keeps the action fast and consistent, while retaining many paths for getting around the map. Matches during this test consist of matchmade human teams warring against AI driven bots. While we’d prefer to go head-to-head against real people and really put these Spartans through their paces, that experience will have to wait for another time.

    Halo Infinite is set to release on an undisclosed date later this year for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. How do you think Infinite is shaping up? Which weapons are you looking to know more about in this technical flight?

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    Report: Horizon Forbidden West Delayed To 2022

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Earlier this year, Sony shared an extensive look at Aloy's continued story with Horizon Forbidden West, but the lack of a release window had many wondering if we would see the sequel this year. Following the rumors that followed said speculation, Horizon Forbidden West has officially been delayed to 2022. 

    According to a new report from Bloombergthe open-world story of Aloy is set to continue some time in the first quarter of 2022, though an exact date has not been revealed at this time. The news broke via a "person familiar with the matter," according to the site following PlayStation's Hermen Hulst's previous statements that the game was still on track for a holiday release back in June. While Hulst sounded hopeful that the release progress would remain on course, he did mention that nothing was "quite certain" yet, leaving wiggle room in case a delay was inevitable. 

    Game Informer has reached out to Sony, though no comment has been made at the time this article was written. 

    When Horizon Zero Dawn was first released on PlayStation 4, it was an instant hit with the PS community. The franchise's dual-nature setting with futuristic technology in a more tribal society made the parallels between the two worlds a unique one for the game's narrative. With Forbidden West promising even more adventures, a larger world to get lost in, and new ways to master combat and hone Aloy's skills, the upcoming journey from Guerrilla Games aims to take what so many loved from the first adventure and make it even better. 

    To learn more about the game thus far, including more footage, behind-the-scenes looks, and special interviews with the team at Guerilla Games, check out our dedicated game hub here

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    Halo Infinite Gameplay Flight Test Footage – Game Informer Live

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    It's Halo time, baby! The first Halo Infinite Flight Test is now live, and we've got that Spartan spirit, and we are ready to rock out with our new Pulse Carbines out. To kick off the testing period for Master Chief's latest adventure, we here at Game Informer are diving all in to make the Halo community proud. Join us, won't you, for a special two-hour stream while we dive right into some multiplayer action. 

    The Halo Infinite Flight Test is the first of several early access periods 343 is hosting before the game's launch later this year. This particular testing period offers a first look at multiplayer with just one map. Unfortunately, it's against bots, which would make us losing all the more embarrassing. Which, really, if you think about it, just gives you more reason to watch! Make fun of us, cheer us on, dealer's choice. 

    Join Alex Stadnik, John Carson, and Liana Ruppert as they check out Halo Infinite for the first time. You can find us on our YouTube and Twitch channels to join in on the fun live starting at 2 p.m. CT. Join in on the conversation, talk about your favorite Master Chief moments, where you want to see the franchise go next, and show Craig the Brute some mad love. Just remember: this is a multiplayer-only Flight Test, so we won't be streaming any of the story, but we will be talking about the unique weapons that the new game brings, so if you're interested - all are welcome! 

    Also included in the Flight Test is the ability to play around with the Battle Pass a little bit. The Battle Pass is optional and will, like most, include cosmetic options. That being said, 343 has confirmed that it will only offer cosmetic options and nothing that could be interpreted as supporting a pay-to-win model. Unlike most, however, it won't be a time-sensitive feature. For example, like Destiny 2's, others are only available for a limited-time-only, which means the cosmetic options available disappear in the void; Infinite's never expires. Players can take as much time as they want on each Battle Pass, even purchasing older ones if they come into the game early. While you can only progress through one Battle Pass at a time, there is not a time limit placed upon them. 

    To learn more about the upcoming 343 Industries shooter, check out our dedicated Halo Infinite hub here. We've got gameplay, updates, and incredible inside looks from the studio itself. 

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    Sonic Team Looks Back At The Blue Blur's First 30 Years

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Earlier this summer, the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise turned 30 years old. Sega marked the occasion by holding a Sonic Central stream that teased three new projects (Sonic Colors: Ultimate, Sonic Origins, and an untitled mainline Sonic game) in May, followed by a special 30th-anniversary concert featuring an orchestra playing classic Sonic music.

    With the bulk of the celebrations in the rear-view mirror, we caught up with five longtime developers from Sonic Team. Ranging from directors and producers to composers and artists, we covered the spectrum to learn about each individual's unique experiences with the franchise, as well as what 30 years of Sonic means to them. 


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    What is your first memory of working on the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise?
    Takashi Iizuka, creative officer, head of Sonic Team:
    Moving to America and living there for a year and a half to develop Sonic 3 is my first memory. For someone like me who had never experienced being in a foreign country before, it was an exciting and fresh experience.

    Hiroshi Nishiyama, art director: Being responsible for creating the 3D Sonic World in Sonic Jam. It was really hard doing texture design with the new shapes and models, but because of that I was able to really make things shine in Sonic Adventure, so that is a great memory.

    Kazuyuki Hoshino, creative director: I joined Sega in 1991 and my first memory was going to a game show with [co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog Naoto] Ohshima-san and at the show getting introduced to [co-creator Yuji] Naka-san who had just gotten back from America. It all started from there.

    Yuji Uekawa, character designer: Sonic Jam was the first Sonic title I worked on, and was the first game in the series that used 3D polygons for the characters and environments, so everything felt fresh and it seemed like anything was possible.

    Jun Senoue, sound director, guitarist of Crush 40: My first memory was about the process for selecting music on Sonic 3 when development was happening over in America. On the Japan side we would create a demo tape of all the tracks we created, then send that tape to America via boat, and the comments we would get back after the team in America reviewed the tape all came by fax!

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    Do you have a specific moment you remember when you realized just how big the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and character had become?
    Iizuka:
    There have been many moments over the years where I have felt just how big the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has become. The first time was in 1993 with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, then again in 1998 when we had over 10,000 people show up for the big event where Sonic Adventure was first announced, and even just last year in 2020 when the Hollywood movie was released.

    Nishiyama: For me it was the big Sonic Adventure title reveal event in 1998 and the release of the Hollywood movie in 2020. Even to this day, I will never forget seeing just how excited the fans were.

    Hoshino: Hmm, every time I meet up with all of our fans I get that feeling, but if I exclude that I would say a couple of years ago when some characters that looked a lot like Sonic and Knuckles took over the internet as a viral meme, maybe?

    Uekawa: It's not too surprising when it happens in the the game industry, but once we started having collaboration with other strong IPs from comics and movies and moving across different media was definitely a moment, also the reality of where we stand now that we have tons of licensed Sonic product being sold all over the world would be another moment for me.

    Senoue: The fact that he is widely recognized by so many people is what gets me. Whenever you say the name "Sonic" it doesn't matter if the person is young or old or male or female, they always say "Oh, yeah, I know Sonic!" and a blue hedgehog pops to their mind. And, of course, having a major Hollywood movie come out in 2020 really expanding the franchise is another great reason why so many people know him.

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    What was your favorite Sonic game to work on?
    Iizuka:
    It was Sonic Adventure 2, and we had all of the development team move out to America to make it there. It was a small development team so we were able to condense all the good elements from the previous game, and deliver a story and game that was satisfying to players everywhere.

    Nishiyama: It was when we moved out to America to develop Sonic Adventure 2. I had a lot of new ideas for the game because of all the new stimulus and experiences I got by living in America and was able to make a game with a lot of great moments together with the other members.

    Hoshino: On Shadow the Hedgehog I had a lot of fun as a character designer. It wasn't only the robots that Eggman created, but also human soldiers, and weapons and vehicles from an alien civilization – I really threw myself into making a game that was totally different from what the normal conventions of what a game was thought to be was back in the day. Did everyone enjoy it?

    Uekawa: It was Sonic Adventure, where I was the character designer and also had to make the models and animations for the characters. I also made all of the artwork used for publicity for the title, so it is a game that has a lot of meaning for me personally.

    Senoue: It was making Sonic Adventure 2 in America with the small development team there locally. This new environment everyone from the team was in creating a very stimulating experience, so we had a lot of fun while also stoically developing the game.

    Sonic Mania

    What is your favorite Sonic the Hedgehog game to play?
    Iizuka:
    The first title I would recommend is Sonic Mania because it condenses all the fun of the classic Sonic titles into one experience. For those that like the 3D Sonic games I would recommend Sonic Colors: Ultimate because of the variety of play styles.

    Nishiyama: Sonic Heroes was a title I worked on that had a lot of variety in the world, needing to strategically use the unique skills of each character to play the game with a high level of teamwork, so I really like that.

    Hoshino: Sonic Heroes is a game I had a lot of fun playing with my friends because we would be strategizing as a team while we played. Each team has its own finishing move, so it was always so fun matching up each member’s unique abilities.

    Uekawa: I would say the original Sonic the Hedgehog. It has simple controls, vivid graphics, and very pure gameplay.

    Senoue: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Genesis. I enjoyed playing the first Sonic the Hedgehog, but in such a short amount of time we got this new title that was powered up and had a variety of new things added to it, and it was such a fun game to experience. As a fan, this was one of those titles I really got into and was impressed by.

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    Who is your favorite Sonic the Hedgehog character other than Sonic?
    Iizuka:
    It would have to be Shadow. One reason why I have this affinity is probably because I helped create and form the character, but I also really like his backstory as a dark hero.

    Nishiyama: Back before I joined Sega and was playing Sonic games I would have to say Knuckles from Sonic 3. I liked the mysterious background, how he was all alone guarding the Master Emerald. When I joined the team I helped create Shadow, so he is another character I really like.

    Hoshino: I think the passion Dr. Eggman has for constantly creating things no matter what challenged he faces is amazing. I really wonder how many hours he works every day to make all that stuff?

    Uekawa: I am one of those people who really like Big the Cat. I appreciate his casual and relaxed attitude towards a slow life, which is in contrast to Sonic who is always so busy.

    Senoue: Shadow. Part of the reason why is because I was a part of the team that created him, but I also like his dialogue (especially in Japanese), as well as the color combination of black and red.

    Sonic Forces

    When you started working on the series, did you ever think it would reach the 30th anniversary and still be going strong?
    Iizuka:
    I first started working on the series when I was 21, so I had never even thought about 30 years into the future. But at the time I did have that desire to want to keep making Sonic games forever.

    Nishiyama: I was just focused on giving my best effort on what I had to do right in the moment, so I wasn't really thinking about the future. I do remember having a really strong impression that Sonic was cool and the gameplay was really fun as we were developing things.

    Hoshino: After the world really expanded for the Sonic characters with Sonic Adventure, I really felt there were still a lot of stories to tell and a lot of challenges to face with the series. As long as that stays true, Sonic will continue.

    Uekawa: To be honest, I didn't even think of what the next couple of years would be like. Part of that was because we just continued making games and doing more licensing and the Sonic IP just never seemed to stop. It feels like, because we kept moving forward, as a result, we are here now 30 years later.

    Senoue: When I was in my early 20s there was no way I could even imagine myself in my 50s, so in a similar way I was unable to even imagine what Sonic would be 30 years in the future. From the beginning, Sonic started us on this amazing adventure and here we are now 30 years later getting to celebrate this milestone.

    Sonic Colors: Ultimate

    What does the franchise reaching the 30th anniversary mean to you?
    Iizuka:
    I am so happy to have been able to bring fun and excitement to people around the world through the 30 years of our team's efforts at work. I am also very happy Sonic has gotten so much support from our fans over the past 30 years.

    Nishiyama: I am happy to know that after 30 years of fun Sonic has left an indelible mark on the lives of our fans. I am also looking forward to delivering some more fun games to people in the near future.

    Hoshino: My career in this industry is also hitting 30 years. Turning around and looking back at things makes me realize just how far we have come. I look forward to thinking of new ways to entertain our fans for the next 30 years to come!

    Uekaya: 30 years is a long time, but I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that the support for Sonic is a testament to all of the members of the team. I look forward to sharing the NOW with our fans, and together with the fans sharing the fun times in the future.

    Senoue: I believe the past 30 years have been built alongside our fans, so I would really like to celebrate with everyone for making this happen. Happy 30th Anniversary Sonic!!


    For more on the 30th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, check out our interview with Takashi Iizuka about all of the announcements the team made during the Sonic Central presentation in May here. You can also watch the full Sonic Symphony performance (at the end of which Jun Senoue and Crush 40 performed) here. Finally, if you'd like more historical looks at the Sonic series, including why the series experienced such a downturn, why Sonic 2 was Sega's great hope, and how Sonic made the leap to Nintendo platforms after the Dreamcast was discontinued, check out the articles listed below:

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    PS5 Abandoned Game Speculation Continues When Another Tie To Konami Was Spotted

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    BlueBox Game Studios can't seem to escape the rumors that the PS5 game Abandoned is actually a Silent Hill adventure in disguise. There have been many theories about what Abandoned would be, but one of the most prevalent rumors links it back to being a Silent Hill project that Hideo Kojima is keeping hidden. Studio head Hasan Kahraman has plainly stated in the past that Abandoned is its own game, in no way related to Kojima, Konami, or Silent Hill. However, that wasn't enough to assuage fan theories because an additional Konami link has been discovered, kicking the proverbial hornet nest once more. 

    Kahraman recently appeared on a podcast to promote the mysterious PlayStation 5 game. As with anything Abandoned-related, the internet immediately assumed a sleuth position and found out that the podcast called Al Hub is actually sponsored by Konami. When Al Hub tweeted out its interview with Kahraman, intrigued mystery lovers got to work. In the original findings, the podcast shared that Konami was sponsoring the interview, then it was taken down and replaced with Bloober Team (a studio also rumored to be working on Silent Hill). The third time was the charm because a third edit reposted Konami as a sponsor alongside Bloober. 

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    Though Kahraman has point blank denied that Abandoned is related to Kojima or Konami, a recent teaser from just this week seems to contradict that directly. At least if you read into the comment section. BlueBox tweeted a new image for Abandoned with a blurred background of an older man with an eyepatch, not unlike in a certain Metal Gear series, with blurred text in the background that many believe reads "Welcome to Silent Hill." If you missed it, you could catch up on the latest puzzle piece with our previous coverage here

    Abandoned is certainly one of the greatest mysteries in gaming right now, but this entire situation does bring up a concern. Abandoned seems to be promising a lot with such a small team and a team that we don't really have any history with for comparison. Where my concern comes in is that the speculation-driven hype surrounding the elusive PS5 game will place deep-rooted expectations on what Abandoned even is, and these expectations will likely be impossible to reach because the very experience itself isn't what people are assuming. It will be interesting to see what the road to launch looks like, especially if the past month is any indicator. 

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    Pokémon Unite Review – A Thunder Shock To The System

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    pokémon unite review

    Publisher: The Pokémon Company
    Developer: Tencent Games
    Release: July 21, 2021
    Rating: Everyone
    Reviewed on: Switch

    The MOBA genre is a competitive space, as it typically features robust rulesets, requires team cooperation, and has a high skill ceiling that doesn’t always welcome new players. Games like League of Legends and Dota 2 continually change their gameplay meta with the release of new characters, which is a hurdle for fledgling players. Newcomers have much to digest, but if you put in the effort, you’re rewarded with loveable characters, strategic battles, and interesting gameplay mechanics. Pokémon Unite distills the genre’s characteristics into an easy-to-understand format and brings its beloved pocket monsters into the fold, resulting in a genuinely fun and approachable MOBA, albeit with a flawed microtransaction system. 

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    Unite’s Standard Battle mode is the centerpiece of the experience, featuring battles between two teams of five Pokémon. After selecting characters, consumable battle items, and stat-boosting held items, each team starts the match on opposite ends of the map. Experience points are earned by eliminating smaller Pokémon, destroying enemy goal zones, and defeating other players. You slowly unlock new abilities throughout the match, and after enough experience, fully evolve your Pokémon into their final form. I like that Unite doesn’t shake up the mold, because the series’ loveable monsters and flashy powers are a perfect fit with this format.

    Unite features over 20 playable characters, ranging from fan favorites like Pikachu and Venusaur to lesser-known Pokémon like Cramorant and Crustle. There’s a nice range of Pokémon including originals from Red and Blue all the way up to popular monsters from Sword and Shield, though strangely there isn’t a single Pokémon included from the series’ second generation, Gold and Silver. Each character is grouped into one of five battle classes: All-Rounder, Attacker, Defender, Speedster, and Supporter. While characters don’t have elemental weaknesses like in mainline Pokémon games, each critter has unique stats, ability trees, and Unite Moves that make them distinct from one another. This is where Unite shines.

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    Each Pokémon’s moveset remains faithful to the franchise but also makes sense in the context of a MOBA, and I love experimenting with different ability loadouts with each Pokémon. Sometimes I pick abilities like Flamethrower and Fire Blast that allow Charizard to be a spellcaster, and in other games, I focus on melee fights by unlocking Fire Punch or Flare Blitz. Charizard’s Unite Move, Seismic Slam, is pure spectacle, as he jumps into the air and soars above the map, spewing molten flames onto enemies below. At the end of his Unite Move, he picks up the nearest enemy Pokémon and slams them back into the pavement. When I’m not playing as an All-Rounder like Charizard, I prefer to play as Crustle, who has a completely different role. As a Defender, this crustacean assists the team by stunning enemies, tanking damage, and blocking paths with his Rock Tomb ability. I love partnering with an attack-focused Pokémon and working together to lock down and isolate enemies from their team.

    Each path on the map is populated with goal zones teams must attack or defend by obtaining Aeos Energy. Players collect Aeos by defeating wild Pokémon near the path, and then slam-dunking that energy into enemy goal zones. After depositing enough Aeos energy, a goal zone is destroyed, opening the next part of the lane. After 10 minutes, the team with the most deposited points wins the match; these short time limits make losses easier to swallow and help to cultivate an online environment that focuses on fun.

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    Matches are full of additional objectives to conquer, like Zapdos, that pop up throughout the match. Zapdos, in particular, is incredibly powerful and doesn’t spawn until the last two minutes of the match. The team that successfully defeats the Legendary bird is rewarded with an enormous goal-scoring buff that can potentially change the tide of battle. While I really like the catch-up potential this brings to the game, there’s nothing more frustrating than playing strategically for the majority of the match and losing Zapdos because one teammate isn’t paying attention. But to be fair, that’s part of what makes MOBAs so exciting. On the top path, players can battle and escort the electrically charged Rotom to leave enemy goal zones vulnerable. Meanwhile, Drednaw resides on the bottom path and grants a shield buff to whichever team successfully defeats him first. These Pokémon are fun to hunt and have my imagination racing with ideas for other characters they could swap in during future events.

    Pokémon Unite’s microtransaction systems let you purchase a battle pass and all sorts of fashionable cosmetics for your trainer and Pokémon. This is standard fare for free-to-play games. Unfortunately, Unite drops the ball by allowing players to purchase item enhancers that can level up a Pokémon’s held items and boost their stats. Players can obtain these item enhancers for free by simply playing the game, but it takes weeks to fully upgrade an item to its level cap. I haven’t experienced a tangible disadvantage playing the game without purchasing microtransactions, but this system’s pay-to-win potential certainly diminishes its long-term competitive integrity.

    Pokémon Unite is a fun way to spend your time despite these frustrations. The game eats away the hours of my day as I reassuringly say to myself, “Just one more match.” Battles play out with the spectacle that the Pokémon series is known for, and with so many abilities to choose from, no match feels the same as the last. The game’s simple mechanics and recognizable characters make for an approachable MOBA experience; and with a potential catalog of nearly 900 Pokémon to pick from, my hopes are high for the future of Pokémon Unite.

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    Score: 8

    Summary: This Pokémon MOBA is an exciting interpretation of the franchise with flawed microtransaction systems.

    Concept: Duke it out with your favorite Pocket Monsters in a 5v5 online multiplayer arena

    Graphics: Pokémon are faithfully rendered in 3D and their ability animations make battles even more satisfying

    Sound: Orchestral horns, bombastic drums, and electric guitars imitate classic battle themes and fill me with nostalgia

    Playability: Certain Pokémon have lower difficulty tiers with approachable mechanics while others provide a high skill ceiling with context-sensitive abilities

    Entertainment: Recognizable Pokémon, distinct move sets, stylish animations, and easy-to-understand objectives make this a good introduction to the MOBA genre

    Replay: High

    Click to Purchase

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