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    New Gameplay Today – World Of Warcraft: Shadowlands' Bastion

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    World of Warcraft: Shadowlands shines a light on one of mankinds' greatest mysteries: What the heck happens when you die, anyway?! In today's NGT, we visit Bastion, which is where all of the good girls and boys go when they finally bite the big one.

    Dan Tack is our spirit guide, answering all of our super smart and interesting questions. You know, things like, "Can you buy stuff in heaven Bastion?" and "Is this fun?" Watch the episode for all these answers and more!

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    World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is coming to PC in 2020. Click the banner below to find more content from our month of Blizzard coverage:

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    A Spoiler-Filled Review And Discussion Of The Mandalorian

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    Disney+ is here, and so is the first episode of The Mandalorian, the highly anticipated live-action television series set in the Star Wars universe. Since it's the only thing we can talk about in the office today, the Game Informer crew decided to share their thoughts with you in a roundtable discussion that breaks down the plot points, action, and all of the tasty spoilers. Don't watch until you've seen the episode. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the topics we dive into in the comments section below. Thanks for watching!

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    Sparklite Preview — The Culmination of A Dream In The Indie Scene

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    Publisher: Merge Games
    Developer: Red Blue Games
    Release: November 14, 2019
    Rating: Everyone 10+
    Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac

    For Red Blue Games co-founders Edward and Lucas Rowe, developing games has always been intertwined with their indescribable bond as twin brothers. 

    “We’d make Paper Mario levels on spools of paper,” Lucas recalls with a smile. 

    “We would take those spools of paper and get on either end of it and draw until you met in the middle and you have a world,” Edward adds. “We would do battles with stick figures where we’d each draw a picture and you’d fill it in one at a time and sort of fight each other by adding to the drawing.”

    Since they were kids, Edward and Lucas have always been making games together, whether it was on spools of paper, using the HyperCard program on a Mac Plus, or creating a Dungeons & Dragons game using little outside of a Lego set and their creativity. Games became a passion that they both knew needed to be a part of their future.

    “The running theme of our childhood is just sort of entertaining ourselves by making games for each other,” Lucas says.

    Games are what deepened their connection,  but as the pair got older and their programming skills grew, the two put their passion for creating together on hold to pursue careers in programming and families. That was until 2013 when the brothers finally decided it was time to take the plunge and return to their love of making games. 

    “We reached a point where we were both ready, and I feel like there’s a window in your life when you can do something like this and that window was open,” Lucas says. “We knew it was going to close soon, so we took the chance to do it when we could.”

    That brings us to Sparklite, the duo’s first major foray into the indie scene. The adventure game features gorgeous visuals and a unique soundtrack, a relevant story and protagonist, and a gameplay loop that will appeal to anyone familiar with the genre. The Rowe brothers are confident they can make a splash with Sparklite.

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    Ada And The World Of Sparklite
     

    In Sparklite, players take on the role of a silent protagonist named Ada. This adventurous gadgeteer is reluctantly thrust into a conflict between the people of Geodia and the Baron, the game’s antagonist who’s hellbent on building his mining empire by draining the planet of the resource that powers and connects all life: otherwise known as Sparklite.

    “She’s somewhat inspired by Rey and Han Solo put together,” Edward says. “We tried to put character into her animations and things like that to make her a fun, likable character even though she doesn’t speak.”

    When creating the characters and story for the game, the Rowes attempted to not bash players over the head with their message of the importance of science in an industrial age.  But they also wanted to include interesting tidbits that flesh out who inspired them in the first place. For instance, Ada is named after the mother of computer programing, Ada Lovelace, and her companion Hopper is named after Grace Hopper, another pioneer of computing.

    While the choice to make Ada a gadget-wielding scientist made sense thematically, it also fits with Sparklite’s gameplay.

    A Roguelike For All Seasons
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    Sparklite is a roguelike for beginners, focusing more on gadget experimentation and exploration than hardcore runs and crippling player deaths. While the game still focuses on a run-based system of starting over each time you die, the mechanics are much more forgiving in that everything collected on that run returns with you to the hub area of The Refuge.

    “We are definitely doing our best to cater toward the more E for Everyone than the hardcore roguelike like Binding of Isaac,” Lucas says. “So the depth of the gameplay will come from having more gadgets, not combos or anything like that.”

    Gadgets are an integral part of the game and players will need to seek them out on their different runs to advance. Gear such as a shrink ray or a batch of cluster bombs not only make life easier against various enemies, but allows players to find a multitude of secrets hidden throughout Geodia.

    The mix of gadgetry and exploration gel in a way that kept me coming back for more during my time with the game. Like any good game in the genre, the more I used the tools at my disposal, the more confident I was exploring each new biome, and most of the time I was rewarded for my bravery. 

    While Sparklite is inherently focused on being a game for everyone, the Rowe brothers are still striving to add aspects of the game that will make genre fans feel at home, whether it’s through exploration or boss battles or possibly adding a new game plus mode later down the line.

    A Song Of GameCubes and Gadgets
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    Many indie games over the past few years have found success replicating the 16-bit melodies of yesteryear, but with Sparklite, the Rowe brothers wanted to do something different.

    “It was sort of a high-fidelity theme, which was the perfect mood for what the music was, so we looked at it as a mood signpost. It was piratey and adventuresome,” Edward says. “After we had that, we started doing the rest of the music for the game with that guiding it. But then, Dale North (the game’s composer) had the idea to go with this sort of GameCube sound and we were not sure because it was different from the high fidelity one that we loved. So that was a risk but then he came back with a version and we really liked it and we thought it was really in line with the aesthetic of the game which we’ve been calling modern retro.”

    During my time with the game, I was constantly pausing the action to listen to the mix of relaxing and exciting themes that underscored my adventure. The music heavily reminded me of games such as Animal Crossing or Super Mario 64 in how they were able to bring out the warmth and charm of Sparklite while also motivating me to progress further in the game.

    Modern retro also fits well with the visuals of the game.

    Invoking the modern pixel art styles similar to Celeste and Owlboy, the team at Red Blue Games has created an engaging and vibrant world that isn’t beholden to development techniques of the past. Geodia is evocative of the 16-bit era while adding visual flairs that make it work well on today’s systems.

    “We’re trying to let ourselves do modern visual techniques like there’s a motion blur when you change rooms and there are some screen effects,” Edward says. “So we sort of try to strike this blend where we’ve taken modern techniques and applied them to make pixel art better, hopefully. It doesn’t have to be a retro thing to be pixel art.” 

    The road hasn’t always been easy for the Rowe brothers, but whether it's design challenges or working with family, they’ve never doubted their decision to branch out on their own. With Sparklite’s imminent release, the brothers will finally achieve a dream that all started with a simple roll of paper.

    “We’re launching across the world, so there’s going to be someone in Brazil that plays our game and it’s just really cool to think about,” Lucas says. “I’m really glad we did it. There are just no regrets right now, because there’s just no way this could have happened a few years ago.”

    Sparklite launches on November 14 for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Mac, and PC.

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    Need For Speed Heat Review – The Return Of The Reboot

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    nfsh_cars_handling_02.jpg

    Publisher: Electronic Arts
    Developer: Ghost Games
    Release: November 8, 2019
    Rating: Teen
    Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
    Also on: Xbox One, PC

    The Need for Speed franchise is back from a brief hiatus after the failure of 2017’s Need for Speed Payback. During that time, developer Ghost Games has refocused and concentrated on the series’ core: cops, high speeds, world exploration, and customization – with a hokey story thrown in for old times’ sake. Need for Speed Heat has its flaws (its cop integration could be better), but it’s a rousing return that delivers on many of the franchise’s touchstones.
     
    While the story of street racers going up against corrupt cops is forgettable, the day/night cycle that governs your activities is appealing. You earn money during the day and reputation points at night. You need both currencies to progress. Cops are more active at night and take chunks of money and rep if you’re caught. Meanwhile, you earn progressively more rep for stringing races together and attracting police attention, so it’s fun to tempt fate with “one more race” before parking it for the night at the nearest safe house. 
     
    Even with the threat of arrest, the police in NFS Heat take a slight backseat to racing other street racers (online or A.I.). The cops can be formidable, marshaling ramming trucks and more to bring you down, but they’re easy to escape when they chase you in the middle of a race event. Also, they are only a nuisance now and again because there aren’t enough set-piece moments to amp up their power and presence.

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    Palm City, which has Miami-like city streets, industrial areas, and broad hills made for drifting, contains more than just race events. Finding collectibles and performing mini-challenges like smashing billboards, going through speed traps, and taking on technical time trial courses dole out rewards. Money and reputation multipliers are also passively earned when joining an online crew. The more everyone races the more everyone earns.
                     
    Need for Speed’s gameplay is centered on arcade racing, but I enjoy how it still demands a racer’s touch. The plethora of events in the world are suited towards different styles of racing such as drifting and long high-speed sprints, and so are the cars’ basic driving characteristics and upgrades. I liked having to change my driving mentality and car depending on the circumstance. There were times when I could out-muscle the competition by the sheer superiority of my cars’ horsepower. However, the more satisfying moments were when I won with an underpowered car because I knew how to race the course according to my ride’s characteristics.
     
    For example, high-end speed isn’t as important in a circuit race filled with tight turns. Instead, I cornered correctly to win. Conversely, the long sprint races are about maintaining top speed over long distances with drifting required around the tighter corners. You have more time to make up lost ground, but there’s also more traffic to plow into.
     
    Overall, Heat does a great job balancing numerous factors to keep the racing flowing and exciting. Traffic density, what you can/cannot crash through alongside the road, the ability to cut corners when necessary, and even a little bit of rubberbanding, all come into play but don’t drag the game down or make it frustrating.

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    Car part upgrades run the gamut of standard (crankshaft, exhaust, etc.) to very useful, such as auxiliary parts that weaken the police’s radar. Upgrades like tires and suspension are also instrumental in shaping vehicle characteristics to make them more suitable for specific race types – a nice component in step with the gameplay. Cosmetic changes like editable decal layers and underglow effects are also worth spending in-game money on (there are no microtransactions), helping make your investments feel worthwhile. Overall, I liked upgrading existing cars in my garage (and therefore become more attached to them) as well as having to buy new ones occasionally to keep up with the game’s difficulty.
     
    Need for Speed has meant different things over the years, but Heat is a good all-around representation of the franchise. The police could be a little more prominent, and the world – while well stocked – isn’t as interesting as Forza Horizon’s, for instance, but NFS Heat is the best iteration since Ghost Games’ reboot in 2015.

    nfsheatboxa.jpg

    Score: 7.75

    Summary: There's plenty to do in Palm City – night or day – in this solid entry in the series.

    Concept: Palm City hums with activities set in the day or night while corrupt cops keep a lookout.

    Graphics: NFS Heat pops with neon splashes and water-slicked streets. Best of all, the game is consistently smooth.

    Sound: Small touches, such as being able to customize your cars’ exhaust sound, and the fact that your character actually speaks during cutscenes, are very welcome.

    Playability: I enjoy that different kinds of cars are suited to specific types of races, which changes how you approach driving and upgrading them.

    Entertainment: The game’s day/night structure is part of a compelling structure that makes NFS Heat a solid entry in the franchise.

    Replay: Moderately High

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    Official Blog Post From Diablo IV Game Director Luis Barriga

    DiabloFans
    By DiabloFans,

    A Letter From Game Director Luis Barriga - BlizzCon 2019

    An official blog post from Luis Barriga (Diablo IV Game Director) has been posted as a response and follow up to BlizzCon 2019. Luis Barriga also mentions that they know there is a discussion surrounding items and stats, and reassures the Diablo community that their team is having the same conversations while reading everyone's feedback.

     

    Originally Posted by Luis Barriga (Official Post)

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    Dear Diablo family,

     

    Thank you all for a great BlizzCon. We unveiled Diablo IV with our announce cinematic, establishing the tone for our overall creative vision moving forward. We hope you all dug that.

     

    We also showed you our gameplay trailer, showcasing our classes, monsters, and open world, and invited you to take the first step in this journey toward Diablo IV together. We can tell from all the questions and excitement we’ve seen online and in-person that you are eager to find out more.

     

    The lines to our demo stations and Dark Gallery were packed all weekend long and we were floored by the overall reception—especially from long-time Diablo players. We were blown away by how often we met people who came back to play the demo again and again. The stories you shared with us about Diablo and what this series means to you moved us and inspire us to do our best.

     

    We’ve been taking this week to assess and discuss our takeaways from BlizzCon, and we love all the deep discussions happening around the art, features, systems, and world of Diablo IV. We’re also excited about a cool update we’re planning for you in February of next year. It will be the first in a series of quarterly updates where we’ll share behind-the-scenes looks at our progress going forward.

     

    We also know that one topic is burning hotter than the rest. We want you to know that we are having the same conversations about items and stats that you are having—whether on the official discussion threads or external sites, we read it all! Getting this right is at the top of our minds, and in the coming weeks our lead systems designer David Kim will provide a few clarifications, share some of his thoughts, and address some of your open questions. We hope you check it out and let us know what you think.

     

    Once again, on behalf of the entire team, from the bottom of our hearts we want to thank you all for a fantastic and unforgettable BlizzCon 2019.

     

    Hail Lilith and see you in Hell!

     

    Luis Barriga,

    Game Director, Diablo IV

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    New Gameplay Today – Diablo IV's World Boss

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    One of the more interesting things about Diablo IV is its open-world nature. Rather than go on adventures in large, discrete zones, players will now navigate a massive connected landscape. Before you put on your hiking boots, know that this world is also home to some nasty raid-style bosses that will require a bit of teamwork. In today's episode, we show off what it's like to take on one of these bosses, Ashava, with a large group.

    Take a look at the clip above to see nearly a dozen heroes battling Ashava simultaneously, or below to watch it without commentary. As you can see, he has a pretty long reach – perfect for wiping an entire group, if members aren't careful. Fortunately, you can clip his wings a bit by filling up his stagger meter. We get into that and more in this NGT. Enjoy!

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    Enjoy the video, and be sure to click the banner below to check out other Diablo IV gameplay and more within our Blizzard Issue:

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