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    Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Brave New World Review

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    lisbts2review610.jpg

    Life is Strange: Before the Storm brings players back to the town of Arcadia Bay, though it isn’t exactly as they remember it. Set three years before the original Life is Strange, the first episode of this prequel series successfully leveraged players’ familiarity with the characters and their future circumstances, but also established interesting new conflicts. The second episode, Brave New World, follows up on those narrative threads, but its biggest strength is how it continues to help us understand and empathize with Chloe as her world gets even more complicated.

    Facing academic consequences for their actions in the last episode, Chloe and her newfound friend Rachel start the episode in hot water, which spirals out to create new opportunities for them to deepen their bond. Though the general setup is the same regardless of what you do, I appreciate how developer Deck Nine creates moments of decision that balance short- and long-term repercussions. For instance, I took the blame for the day of school that Chloe and Rachel missed, which had an immediate impact on Chloe – but a big benefit for Rachel later. Of course, you also get the satisfaction of seeing characters reference things you did in the first episode. Whether you sabotaged a student’s homework or stole some money, expect those actions to have consequences.

    This kind of payoff structure sounds standard for the genre, but like the first episode, your choices forge a powerful connection with Chloe, helping to build a bridge to the person you know she becomes. The story makes you feel like you are influencing the characters and their trajectories in meaningful ways between the major narrative convergences – something it implements better than most other episodic titles on the market. How does Chloe get along at home? Where does she draw the line between right and wrong? Almost like a page in a coloring book, the big picture is the same for everyone, but the individual shades and tones can create unique experiences. For example, is Chloe pursuing a romantic relationship with Rachel? The answer to that question doesn’t necessarily change what happens, but it dramatically impacts the context surrounding the events of this episode in ways I won’t spoil.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    As this tale unfolds, Deck Nine’s decision to remain grounded in reality rather than integrating supernatural elements proves to be a smart one. The everyday activities feel authentic, and even the climactic moments are relatively mundane; many of your choices culminate in how well the school’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest goes. The trade-off for this approach is a lack of high-stakes conflict, since you aren’t rooting out a serial killer or avoiding a reality-destroying storm. By its nature, Brave New World doesn’t end on a dramatic cliffhanger that leaves the fate of the town in question – but since I’m more invested in the characters than an external mystery, that worked for me.

    My biggest complaint is a carryover from the previous episode; the speed with which Chloe and Rachel’s friendship solidifies is so fast that it sometimes feels forced, undercutting the believability of their developing bond. Brave New World also reuses some of the series’ old environments, like the dorms and junkyard. The recycled backdrops themselves don’t bother me as much as the gameplay parallels within them, like having your access to the dorm’s front door denied. Also, considering the universal criticism leveled at the junkyard bottle-hunt in the original Life is Strange, I was surprised and disappointed to find another fetch quest in the exact same location, sending Chloe off scrounging for items to repair and improve a broken-down truck.

    After finishing the first episode of Before the Storm, I was impressed at how well it retains the essence of the original Life is Strange, despite being handled by a different developer. That feeling doesn’t change with this episode; it draws you in with interesting characters, then builds them through quiet moments and big decisions. Even knowing the eventual fate of Chloe and Rachel, I am eager to see how the next (final) episode of this arc explores their legacy in Arcadia Bay.

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    BlizzCon Virtual Ticket Giveaway

    Curse
    By Curse,
    BlizzCon Virtual Ticket Giveaway
    Blizzard sent us 15 Virtual Tickets to give away! This year the in-game goodies include some faction themed mounts.

    • To enter the giveaway, reply to this post with panel on the BlizzCon schedule you are looking forward to the most.
    • This contest ends Wednesday, October 25th 2017 at 11:59 PM CST.
    • Winners will be selected on Thursday, October 26th.
    • Winners will be contacted by PM on the site. There is no email alert by default, you will need to log in and check your PMs.
    • A note will be added to the front page of the site when winners have been contacted.

    virtualTicket.jpg

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    Religion Is Different In Civilization VI Now

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    civ6religion610.jpg

    As Civilization VI developer Firaxis explained last week, the game's fall update is bringing big changes to how religion functions. Rather than just speculate on how that will affect play, you can see for yourself since the content is now live.

    The update includes (but is not limited to) new Pantheons, revamped combat, new beliefs, as well as two new religious buildings and a combat unit.  The goal is make a religion-focused playthrough a more viable and enjoyable approach for players. The team has also implemented broader tweaks to the game, like general interface improvements and bug fixes.

    To read more about Civ VI (in its pre-update form), check out our review.

    [Source: Eurogamer]

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    Final Fantasy XV Comrades Delayed Into November

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    FFXVComrades_2D00_10_2D00_20_2D00_17_2D0

    The online multiplayer mode for Final Fantasy XV, which was originally supposed to launch this month, has been delayed. In a post made to Twitter by Square Enix's official Final Fantasy XV account, the company states the expansion will now release in early November to make final adjustments and create the best possible experience. No specific date has been given at this time.

    Due to final adjustments & to create the best possible experience, the online expansion #FFXVComrades will now be released in early November pic.twitter.com/0DV08nRpv8

    — Final Fantasy XV (@FFXVEN) October 20, 2017

    Announced this past summer, Comrades is set between chapters 13 and 14 of the main game. With their own custom made characters, players can collect meteor shards to power generators, which expand the available roster of activities, complete side quests for NPCs, and populate towns with different NPC civilians and leaders. Players can also earn experience to level up their characters, collect loot, and communicate through preset phrases and voice chat.

     

    Our Take
    This was definitely a good move for Square Enix. The game's beta testing back in August was plagued with server and matchmaking errors to the point that some players couldn't even log on. The mode has potential though, so taking the time to make it work is more than welcome.

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    GT Sport Review – A Compromising Vision

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    gtsportreview11.19610a.jpg

    Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital has slowly developed the series' online component through the years, but now it's focusing on online play. GT Sport goes beyond the predominantly single-player past of its numbered installments, but doesn't go so far as to carve out an entirely new identity. The game uneasily tries to straddle these two poles, but thankfully the excellence of the driving is a comforting totem amidst some of the confusing structural choices.

    The titular online mode isn't just about racing against other real-life opponents (the online lobbies are suited for that kind of free-for-all), it funnels players into specific competitions. Daily races are preset by Polyphony and they open up at specific times through the hour. This focuses the community, but the fact that these "daily" races are only being changed weekly means I soon tired of putting down qualifying times and challenging for a podium finish on the same three tracks. The marquee FIA GT Nations Cup, Manufacturers Series, and Polyphony Digital Championship competitions are all similarly time-gated, creating further choke points, and the online-only save structure – no matter what mode you're in – is also a hurdle. It auto-saves at intervals, but progress can be lost if there's a blip in the interim.

    I like GT Sport's solemn attempt at a sense of occasion and propriety – even the earnestness of the etiquette rating that rewards you for not running into people. I feel the satisfaction of racing the right way. This isn't conveyed through the reckless driving penalties, which can be levied unfathomably, but by the cars themselves. The racing demands an understanding of the limitations and strengths of the cars, from the lateral stiffness of a low-end car to trying to harness the horsepower and braking prowess of a better one. I smugly enjoyed taking a corner crisply and thereby passing a faster car in lesser hands. Overall, the fact that car collision is disabled when someone re-enters from off the track or spins out of control thankfully prevents all hell from breaking loose during online races. In another concession, even shots from behind don't automatically send you careening.

    Cars, credits, and various rewards like decals and arcade mode track unlocks flow easily, and cars can be tuned and upgraded (through a simplified system, since you don't buy parts), allowing them to compete across different performance categories. Your garage is useful as you get a feel for which ones you like on which track, but this endearment is stunted by the limited single-player campaign mode.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    Putting aside the usual driving school lessons and the track tutorials in the Circuit Experience section, GT Sports' campaign mode largely consists of 64 mission challenges ranging from overtake tests to full-on races. The mode is admirable and nets you credits and various rewards, but it doesn't offer the cohesive journey of a normal career mode containing series of multi-race championships (which I acknowledge could also be done better in the other Gran Turismos). Instead, it's a series of disparate, smaller tasks often involving loaner cars. GT Sport is an online-focused title for sure, but a side effect of the campaign mode as it stands is that it lessens the emotional investment in your garage cars.

    Finally, the entire game suffers from too few tracks and no dynamic weather to go along with them (currently rain is only in a later mission challenge). No matter the mode, you churn through the likes of Brands Hatch and Suzuka more times than desirable, and I don't know why Polyphony elected to use multiple ovals/near-ovals when they bring little to the table and there are other, more attractive real-world tracks out there.

    Regardless of its foibles, let this installment be the start of a real commitment by Polyphony Digital to online racing – one that is folded into the main series' career mode and which is not just a temporary dabble like the track creator of GT 5 or the dynamic time/weather and race clubs of GT 6. GT Sport has enough qualities that it should be the start of something better and not just a detour for the franchise.

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    Resident Evil 2 Board Game Surpasses Kickstarter Stretch Goal of $850,000

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    RE2_2D00_10_2D00_20_2D00_17_2D00_610.jpg

    The long-anticipated board game adaptation of Capcom's classic survival horror sequel continues to reach new heights. In the project's latest update, the creators congratulate backers on successfully reaching £650,000 (or $857,285). The game will now include Raccoon City Police Chief Brian Irons, who players can choose for an alternative play style as a survivor hunter.

    Steamforged Games Ltd., the team behind the project, provides a brief description of the new character and how his play style came about:

    When we sat down to design the Chief, we brought a wide variety of concepts to the table. Amongst others, we discussed his appearance as an NPC, as a mini-boss, and even as a type of card in the Tension Deck. But then we found an idea which really fit the character better than any of the above…

    Players using the Police Chief as a playable character during their games of Resident Evil™ 2 – The Board Game will have a very different win condition to the other players – they’ll be trying to hunt the other survivors down and eliminate them! The first of our ‘Bad Guy’ player characters, Brian Irons can attack the other survivors, steal items, and bait enemies.

    Launched September 25, the Kickstarter project had an initial goal of $196,648. This goal was met within the first day and has continued to rise since, with Steamforged rolling out several stretch goals for backers to meet.

    RE2BoardGame_2D00_10_2D00_20_2D00_17.jpg

    Steamforged is the same team that created the Dark Souls Board Game, which raised a grand total of $5,417,610.

    [Source: Kickstarter]

     

    Our Take
    If nothing else, Steamforged Games has the firm support of Resident Evil's fan base for this project. Hopefully it turns out well when it launches in September of next year.

     

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