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    Hellboy Is Coming To Brawlhalla, Just In Time For The Movie Premiere

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
    hellboy_brawlhalla.jpg

    Things are about to heat up in Brawlhalla, the free-to-play platform fighting game. Developer Blue Mammoth Games revealed on Twitter today that Hellboy will come to the game in April.

    It's unclear from the Tweet if Hellboy's inclusion will take the form of a completely new character, like the recent addition of Thor, of if he'll be a re-skin for an existing character – like when Shovel Knight came to the game.

    Big Red will make his debut right around the time the new Hellboy movie hits theaters on April 12.

    [Source: Twitter]

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    Dice Outlines Battlefield V's Roadmap For The Rest Of 2019

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
    battlefield-v-5-ps4-playstation-4-1.original.jpg

    Dice recently detailed what the rest of the year looks like for Battlefield V. You can see the full list of planned expansions and events here, but here are the highlights, some of which have more specific dates that others.

    Chapter 3: Trial By Fire
    • March 25 - Firestorm
    • April – Combined Arms (new missions)
    • May – Mercury (new map)
    • June – Outpost (new mode)
    Chapter 4: Defying the Odds (starts in June)
    • Up Close and Personal (new maps and modes)
    • Marita (new map)
    • Urban Combat (new map)
    Chapter 5 (begins in Fall)

    Dice says that its chapter 4 content will appeal to players who like close-up combat and says that chapter 5 will cover a new "completely new theater of war".

    For more on Battlefield V, you can head here to read our review and here to see the game's upcoming Firestorm mode in action.

    [Source: EA.com]

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    Stardew Valley Tops Nintendo's Best-Selling Indie Games List

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
    stardew.jpg

    Nintendo confirmed at GDC this week that Stardew Valley now holds the record for best-selling indie game on the Switch. The beloved farming sim beat out heavyweight contenders like Dead Cells and Undertale. The game's multiplayer update that launched at the end of last year likely contributed to its upsurge in popularity.

    Here are all ten titles on the Switch's best-selling indie games list:

    While a few standout titles appeared on the list that Nintendo released last year, many games have not returned this time around (e.g. NBA Playground, SteamWorld Dig 2, Kamiko, Fast RMX, and Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove). 

    Nevertheless, if the rising success of indie games excites you, check out our coverage on The Best Indie Games Of GDC

    [Source: Kotaku via GamesIndustry.biz]

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    Kingdom Hearts III's Co-director Discusses Difficulty, Final Fantasy Characters, And Memorable Moments

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    rpg_kh3.jpg

    Difficulty means different things to different people, and I think it's important to remember that what comes easily for one person might be an arduous task for another. People of all skill levels play games, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses. One of the biggest complaints about Kingdom Hearts III has been that it's too easy, especially for veteran players. Square Enix has responded to this feedback by working on critical mode and making sure it's more than just a value change. The mode is set to release soon, although Square Enix still doesn't have an exact date.

    That being said, I had an opportunity to chat with co-director Tai Yasue while at GDC this week, particularly about critical mode. During our chat, we reflected on the game, discussing its finer points and where fans were disappointed. Yasue is responsible for the gameplay, while Nomura handles the story beats, so he wasn't able to answer what's in store for the future, like the upcoming DLC we've heard about, which Square Enix confirmed to me is currently in development. Trust me, I tried. Even so, Yasue had some great insight into why the team made some of the decisions it did. 

    Yasue has high hopes for critical mode. He said it's "more technical and offensive," and would be for those who are adept at action games. This means putting a greater emphasis on timing attacks and getting ready to dodge or block in a jiffy. Many fans noticed the difficulty being dialed back for the third entry. It didn't bother me on my initial playthrough because I was hellbent on seeing the story play out. I needed to know if Aqua would be okay; I needed to see if Roxas could even be brought back. I had a blast with the game, just hanging with Sora, Donald, and Goofy and exploring new worlds, but I can understand missing those hard-fought fights and more post-game bosses.

    When asked about those missing pieces, Yasue said, "There was a lot of feedback that said the standard and beginner were pretty easy. I guess, we sort of aimed for that though. For us, we wanted it to widen our audience so that was the whole point of that, but we did get a lot of [responses] saying [fans] wanted more difficult modes, so we gave them critical mode. I sort of expected that people might think that it was too easy, but we were targeting an audience. My kids, for example, who have never played Kingdom Hearts." 

    As for criticism about the lack of post-game content, especially optional bosses, Yasue says he takes it all into consideration. "We really look at what everyone is writing. We totally understand and respect that. I can't make any announcements just yet." He did, however, reiterate that the light post-game content wasn't because the team needed to cut things out, they just really wanted to focus on the new Disney worlds. Yasue said his favorite world to work on as a gameplay designer was Toy Story. "I love the concept of being small and becoming a toy and exploring a toy shop. There are all these gimmicks like hitting a canister of gas. " 

    In regards to boss fights, he said, "We felt that it was enough. When you're playing the game, you don't want boss fights all of the time, right? We sort of paced it when we were doing the level design. We also really focused on changing the gameplay, going in our ship and going in the robots." He also admits implementing these features was "very difficult." "As a gameplay designer, you don't want to have it too hard so people give up. It was a difficult balance to strike," he said.

    Kingdom Hearts III has the flashiest combat to date, even letting you call on Disney attractions to battle foes. The bombastic action and fast keyblade transformations were deliberate. "That was a conscious decision. I think, for us, that was a big experiment as well. You don't see a lot of games where you can do so much as quickly. Things are usually more controlled. It's a new age, players want more stuff and we felt that our player base was changing, so we adapted to that.  But for me, it was a little bit of a risk of how that would play out."

    The lack of Final Fantasy characters also quickly came up in our conversation. "We definitely recognize and respect what everyone's saying," he affirmed, once again saying he can't make any announcements. However, when asked if he was surprised that fans were disappointed by this, he said he was. "We had a lot of original characters. It's the conclusion of the Xehanort saga and we really wanted to concentrate on the main storyline of Kingdom Hearts, such as Sora and Roxas, for the example. They're having all these stories in other games and we wanted them to conclude." 

    When asked if the 1,000 Heartless battle was easier to do this time around, thanks to the better tech, Yasue said it wasn't but let me in on a little secret. "We changed a bit at the end. The final moment when we put the master up, we didn't have the train. I've never said this before. It came at a very late date, so that was added. I wanted it added because I wanted something new for a Kingdom Hearts III battle.  The train, you could only use it for the rock titan in the Hercules stage, and I thought it would be a nice conclusion if you could use it at the last moment." 

    To close out our talk we both discussed our favorite moment and it was the same: the ending sequence where you get reunited with certain characters and take on numerous boss battles. "All the characters coming together, it was actually emotional for me, too. Birth By Sleep that was one of my first Kingdom Hearts games I made. It was very sad at the end when we made [that] game because everyone gets separated (Terra, Aqua, and Ventus) and then all these years later I get to make the end for that. That moment is very special [when they meet again]. You sort of relate that with your life as well. I think that's how a lot of fans feel as well, they relate that to their lives. I didn't write the story, Nomura did, but to experience that as a player – that was very special to me."

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    Microsoft To Showcase Indie Titles Coming To Game Pass In Upcoming Stream

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
    idgame_pass.jpg

    Next week on March 26 at 9 AM PDT, Microsoft is hosting a livestream titled [email protected] Game Pass where it will announce several new indie titles that will then be making their way to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's subscription based game service. Microsoft regularly highlights the large new releases coming to the service, but the stable of smaller indie titles is constantly growing, so this gives the company a chance to put the focus on the other half of the catalog.

    We already know that previously announced games, Afterparty, Void Bastards, and Supermarket Shriek will make appearances in addition to all new game announcements.

    This news comes hot on the heels of Sony announcing plans to have its new State of Play stream the day before on March 25. That will seemingly focus on more wide-ranging announcements for games across the PS4 and PSVR while Microsoft's stream will more narrowly focus on its Game Pass program. In either case, we should have plenty of game announcements to tide us over in the months leading up to E3.

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    How Remedy Is Approaching Side Missions In Control

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    director_on_a_mission.jpg

    Remedy Entertainment has garnered a reputation for engaging storytelling through guided, linear experiences thanks to standout titles like Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Quantum Break. However, Control looks to smash preconceived notions about the projects the studio works on by delivering a more open-ended experience. One way Remedy is hammering home this idea of encouraged exploration is through optional side missions that players can choose to engage with or ignore altogether. These missions not only give you new, unique gameplay to explore, but you’re also able to glean more information about Jesse, The Oldest House, the Federal Bureau of Control, and the Hiss.

    Control is a game based in the unexpected and unexplainable, so you can expect many mysteries during your journey through The Oldest House. The nonlinear format of the game let Remedy experiment more with side content for those who truly want to learn all they can about the supernatural entities and mysteries of Control’s world.

    According to game director Mikael Kasurinen, when developing past games, Remedy has typically looked for an exciting 30-second loop of action, then attempted to recreate that experience throughout the entire game. The team is taking a vastly different approach with Control.

    “Here, we have shifted our goal, so we want to go for more complex scenarios, more different abilities, and you choose the way that you want to fight,” he says. “It means that the combination of what abilities you have, how you have upgraded them, and what weapon mods and character mods you have actually affects the way you should fight your way through the scenarios.”

    controlfridge.jpg

    I watched a developer play through a side mission in its entirety. A desperate man named Phillip begs Jesse for help as she passes by. In the room with Phillip is what appears to be a retro-style refrigerator. As with most things in Control, this fridge is more than meets the eye as it’s a dangerous Altered Item. This item requires someone to keep eyes on it in order to appease it. Phillip explains that he can’t look away from a refrigerator or something really bad will happen. The Federal Bureau of Control set up shifts with its employees to watch the fridge, but in the chaos of the Hiss invasion, poor Phillip has been forgotten. You can choose to give Phillip a hand or leave him to meet whatever horrible fate awaits him.

    As with most games’ side missions, this content adds lore and meaning to the events of Control, but they aren’t necessary to complete the main storyline. From a narrative perspective, Control’s side missions are geared toward players who want to learn more about the world of Control, while the main storyline is more focused on Jesse’s personal arc.

    One of the most interesting parts about the optional content is seeing how this invasion is affecting different areas of the building and its many employees. “The side missions are some of my favorite because they color the world in a different way because you actually get to see some of that,” narrative lead Brooke Maggs says. “They fold into the narrative by introducing you more to the NPCs you discover along the way. So when you meet Helen Marshall [in the main story missions], you do later get to do a side mission that’s a personal favor for her, and then you find out more about her role at the Bureau and what she does and how she heads up specialist teams that takes care of a lot of these paranatural events as they happen.”

    In addition to gaining context within the story, these optional missions can also grant Jesse new abilities through Objects of Power, giving much more tactile reasons to engage with the side content. “Many of the Objects of Power that are really fundamental and important parts of the game are actually in the side missions,” Kasurinen says. “If the player, for instance, doesn't get the Shield then what does that mean for combat? It might make certain fights really tough later on because it's optional. You don't have to go and get the Shield if you don’t want to.”

    mayhem.jpg

    In addition, many of the boss fights are found in the side content. In this playthrough, Jesse decides to not abandon Phillip, and we see all these pieces come together in one strong example. The stranded Bureau employee asks Jesse to go retrieve the panopticon supervisor, Frederick Langston. This side mission lets you learn more about Langston and Phillip, as well as a unique Altered Item. I don’t want to spoil what happens at the end of the side mission, but it culminates in a surprising and massive boss fight unlike anything else I saw in my two days of playing and watching Control.

    In addition to these intentionally crafted side missions, Control also features Bureau Alerts, which serve as time-bound world events. A timed event spawns somewhere in the sector Jesse is in and the player receives a notification. If you’re able to race to the location of the alert and complete the event, you’re rewarded with loot.

    While Remedy wouldn’t spill any details on additional side missions players can expect, they did mention that another involves a clock. I assume this means the clock will be another Altered Item like the refrigerator, but if I learned anything from my time with Control, it’s to expect the unexpected. I’m looking forward to seeing what other twisted ideas Remedy has come up with when Control launches this summer.

    Click the banner below to visit our coverage hub for Control, which will be updated throughout the month with exclusive interviews, features, videos, and more.

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