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    Five Ways Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Changes Things Up

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Before the Storm, a prequel to Dontnod’s Life is Strange, is arriving as soon as next week. The three-episode-long series has a lot of changes by having the player embody Chloe Price, Max’s best friend, three years prior to the events of the first game. It also has a completely different development team behind it – Deck Nine – all the while Dontnod is working on its own Life is Strange follow-up. After seeing an extensive presentation, interviewing the developers, and playing a part of the first episode ourselves, I feel a lot of positive changes are on its way for Life is Strange. Here are five ways the prequel changes things up.

    Persuading Characters With Backtalk

    Forgoing the time travel powers of the first game, Before the Storm instead introduces a new gameplay mechanic that takes the form of a dialogue puzzle. Each time Chloe is conversing with someone who she hopes to persuade, the option of using Backtalk becomes available. Backtalk has Chloe use her wit to throw insults back at the other character, or cleverly try to change their perspective. 

    In the demo I saw, Chloe successfully wiggled her way out of an uncomfortable situation with Principal Wells who suspected that she had recently smoked a joint. In another section, she talked her way past a gangly bouncer to enter a concert. Backtalk is optional, and even if you fail a sequence, you can just find another method or route.

    The reason for leaving time travel powers behind, outside of canon reasons, is because developer Deck Nine wants the game to center on realistic characters and storytelling. “We didn’t want to focus on science fiction, but instead what we think was so courageous about the first game: authentic flawed characters, and a story that was, despite the time travel, incredibly well-written,” lead writer Zak Garriss says.

    Focusing On Chloe And Rachel’s Relationship

    In Before the Storm, Chloe’s life feels like it's crumbling. Still grieving her father’s death, she begins to push others away, fail classes, and make more destructive decisions. “In the first Life is Strange, Chloe Price was this confrontational, blue haired, beanie-wearing badass. In Before the Storm, we’re gonna go into the backstory about how she became who she is in the first game,” producer David Hein says.

    Things start to look up when she meets Rachel Amber, a girl that is popular and successful – a stark opposite to Chloe. The bond they form becomes strong and unwavering, as Chloe helps Rachel uncover a secret that could destroy her family. As for the nature of their relationship, it depends on your choices, meaning that the friendship may also dip into romance should you decide to go that route. 

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    A Grittier View Of The World

    Taking place again in Arcadia Bay, you’ll see a lot of familiar places, but from a different perspective. For example, Chloe refers to Blackwell High as “Blackhell” and causes a lot more trouble than Max. She has a more pessimist view of the world, and is quick to confrontation. 

    This doesn’t mean that you won’t visit new places, however. In the demo, I saw Chloe enter a warehouse-like building filled with punk rockers, where a concert for a band named Firewalk was being held. “When you’re playing as Chloe, you go to places Max wouldn’t go to,” Garriss says. “Like The Mill, that opening illegal concert. That’s not a scene that Max would fight her way into.”

    Multi-Layered Choices And Consequences

    The concept of having consequences that have a butterfly effect and come up over time returns in Before the Storm, but to a greater effect. In a playable demo, Chloe roams through a warehouse-like concert venue, where she can do a number of things such as steal a wad of cash. Multiple avenues of choice are available: if you take the cash, you can use it to buy drugs from Frank, who appeared in the first game, or keep it for another purpose, such as helping your mother as she faces financial woes. Even small details like buying marijuana means instead of smoking cigarettes the next morning, it’s a joint in Chloe’s hand.

    Making Your Mark With Graffiti 

    Similar to how Max took photos and those acted as trophies and hidden collectibles for the player, Chloe instead makes her mark with graffiti. These are often witty remarks, such as writing “not a meth lab” onto an old RV. Areas that can be used for graffiti are often hidden spaces.

    Life is Strange: Before the Storm comes out on August 31 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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    You Can Now Use PayPal On The Nintendo Eshop

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Owners of the Nintendo Switch, 3DS, and Wii U can now pay for their digital purchases on those consoles with PayPal as an option.

    PayPal and Nintendo announced the additional option rolling out to various regions today, though not all PayPal accounts will work with all regions, despite the eShop being region free.

    To use PayPal, users link their account when purchasing something on the eShop. The change has been a long time coming for Nintendo console owners and suggests Nintendo is at least looking to modernize payment options of their digital stores.

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    A Look At The Third Wave Of Pokémon Gallery Figures

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    In the beginning of the year, Pokémon Center began a line of Pokémon performing signature moves called Gallery figures. The first wave featured Pikachu, Mew, Eevee, and Magikarp, while the second wave had Cubone, Vulpix, Psyduck, and Jigglypuff. This third wave is decidedly smaller, containing only two figures: Espeon, who is performing light screen, and Umbreon, who is performing dark pulse.

    The company sent us both of the figures to check out for ourselves. Each character features a high level of detail and cool move effects surrounding them. You can see all of them and their packaging below. The figures are currently available on PokémonCenter.com and retail for $16.99.

    For a photo gallery of the first wave of figures starring Pikachu, Mew, Eevee, and Magikarp, head here. For our look at Cubone, Vulpix, Psyduck, and Jigglypuff, head here.

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    Latest NHL 18 Trailer Details Franchise Mode Improvements

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    We dropped a ton of knowledge about the franchise mode changes coming to EA Sports' hockey title in our 60 Things We Know About NHL 18 feature earlier this year. Today, the dev team shared a trailer that lets you see the expansion draft, mascot creation, mid-season contract extensions, and other changes in action. 

    Take a look here:

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    You'll get your first shot at bringing a new team into the league when NHL 18 releases for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 15. To learn more about the game, read our aforementioned deep dive, and check out the videos detailing changes coming to gameplay and the new NHL Threes mode.

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    First Look At Call Of Duty: WWII's Headquarters Mode

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    With our month of coverage highlighting Call of Duty: WWII to go along with our September cover story, we're offering exclusive new information at Sledgehammer's new game. While we've shared our extensive thoughts on the game's new social space called Headquarters in this clip from the GI Show podcast, now's your first chance to see the mode in action. Headquarters offers a new experience for fans of Call of Duty, where players can meet up and interact with other players in interesting new ways.

    Watch the trailer below for your first look at Headquarters.

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    We'll have more exclusive reveals, videos, and information on Call of Duty: WWII throughout the month, so be sure to check out the coverage hub.

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    The Escapists 2 Review – Escape From Prison Without Losing Your Sanity

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Almost everyone has heard of history's amazing prison escapes, like Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin fleeing from the world-famous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in 1962. The men spent six months preparing, and used everything from papier-mâché dummy heads left in beds to raincoats stitched together into a lifeboat. The Escapists 2 gives you the same types of tools to escape a variety of themed confines, but also shares the tedium of working slowly toward an elusive goal. The improvements over the previous game are plentiful and novel, but the frequent loss of progress and lack of manual saves stifles experimentation.

    The most notable change The Escapists 2 delivers is a wider variety of confines to escape, from Wild West holding cells to futuristic space prisons. These environments are much larger and enhanced by the much-improved visuals. Formerly stark prisons now have plenty of wall decorations and items on desks, and even the pixel-art figures have evolved and are properly shaded.

    The Escapists 2 doesn't lack things to do. As you'd expect in a prison, you must plan your escape while adhering to a daily routine of eating, exercising, roll call, and working. You curry favor with inmates via quests, pilfer items from those same cohabitants, beat people up, steal keys from guards, craft a variety of makeshift weaponry, and crawl through ventilation ducts. Get caught by the guards? You'll get put in the infirmary or solitary and – most importantly – lose any contraband you have on you at the time.

    This is my number one frustration, as any mistake puts you back much closer to square one. Any contraband you've hidden in your desk remains, but the on-hand keys, equipment, and weaponry you spent your time crafting are gone, and it's not quick or easy to regain. It wouldn't be so frustrating if the game allowed for manual saves, but the individual levels are tied to their online leaderboards and autosave every few seconds. I wish I could have turned this off for local play.

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    One particularly irritating moment didn't even involve me getting caught by the guards. I was ready to escape with all of my gear on hand and a dummy sitting in my cell. I used my makeshift ladder to access a vent that would get me to where I needed to be, and while going through menus to grab my cutter, I accidentally hit up on the PS4's directional pad ­­­– the surrender button. My character fell to the ground immediately because there was no confirmation for this action. All of my carefully planned progress was lost in a split second.

    The streamlined transportation prisons don't run into these challenges, and were by far my favorite thanks to their more defined goals. Execution was everything, and failure didn't cause huge setbacks. Building a makeshift carrot on a train to coax a nearby horse was both charming and rewarding.

    The new multiplayer is a nice touch, especially as it's available as both co-op and versus for up to four players. Co-op mirrors the standard game, where other players can distract guards or help you find materials, while versus opens up the prison, makes inmates sell things to you for free, and removes the routine. The first to escape is the winner. This makes the experience different and more rewarding; I enjoyed versus the most because all of the tedious constraints were gone. For that same reason, though, it doesn't have much staying power.

    When you find the right offbeat item, or barely squeak by a guard in Escapists 2, it's incredibly refreshing. However, the monotony of gathering items and playing errand runner for other inmates sours the experience, and the awkward controls don't help. For those who crave unforgiving challenges, the Escapists 2 brings them in spades, but it often comes at the cost of your patience.  

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