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  1. Today
  2. Click here to watch embedded video It's been a dozen years since the last numbered entry in the Ace Combat series, and fans have been eager to take to the skies again. Was it worth the wait? Reiner is a longtime fan of the series, and he shares some of Ace Combat 7's highs and lows – including a look at a PlayStation VR mission. Take a look at our latest NGT to watch ace-pilot Reiner scrape mountaintops, evade fire under cloud cover, and blast a bunch of opposing planes into clouds of debris. We also take a look at some of the unlockables and loadouts before strapping on the VR goggles. Will his lunch stay down? There's only one way to find out! (Fine. He doesn't barf.) Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 18, with a PC release coming February 1. View the full article
  3. Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Project Aces Release: January 18, 2019 Rating: Teen Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 Also on: Xbox One Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is an adrenaline-filled thrill ride that soars high with excellently crafted dogfights, responsive controls, and payloads large enough to crack the planet in half. As your fighter rips through a narrow canyon in pursuit of a bogey with a death wish, Ace Combat 7 delivers top-tier intensity. In these moments, the music swells, your wingmen scream for immediate success, and if your rocket hits the mark, you feel like Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star. The battles often culminate in exciting and nerve-wracking ways, but not without some turbulence. Developer Project Aces taps into the latest military technology to introduce new planes and more potent adversarial forces for the series, but the overall game design resembles an old warbird that feels like it’s going to shake apart before it reaches the runway. The missions, their pacing, and the rewards they bring leave much to be desired. The game is designed to be a throwback to the glory days of the series, drawing heavily from the gameplay direction of Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. While honing in on what made combat great in that title, missions have a lot of downtime, and objectives like scoring challenges feel like filler activities in between the meaningful dogfights. When you are engaged with rival ace pilots, different weather conditions often up the challenge; you may need to dart into the clouds of a raging storm to trail an adversary. This affects visibility conditions, and your plane gets batted around by strong winds – maybe even struck by lightning. When this happens, the electrical surge scrambles the HUD, making targeting and tracking enemies more difficult. It’s a little annoying to lose targeting, as it seems like it comes down to the random chance of a lightning blast, but it ups the chaos and makes you panic – it’s effective. Weather and low altitudes are also used to give missions a layer of complexity. For instance, you sometimes must fly at dangerously low altitudes to avoid radar detection – the series’ version of stealth, which functions well and delivers plenty of excitement in slower moments of specific missions. The dogfighting mechanics are Wright-brothers-old in terms of gameplay design, but are still reliable, dynamic, and all about outsmarting your foe. After highlighting an enemy, the dance of positioning begins, with a large green arrow telling you which way to fly. To an onlooker, this may look ineffective at times, as your plane appears to be looping aimlessly, but the goal is to line up behind your adversary as close as possible for a quick rocket blast that can’t be evaded with flares. This process is as challenging as it is thrilling. As you spin through the air, you and your adversary exchange lock-on warnings before one of you eventually lands a shot. The skill-sapping targeting from Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is nowhere to be found in this installment; it’s old-school Ace Combat design against the series’ hardest foes and it's glorious. Yes, you square off against a new group of rival aces, but the biggest threat comes from drones, which can turn on a dime and are not affected by g-forces. These new threats are tied to a complicated story that once again sees the Osean Federation locked in war with the Kingdom of Erusea. The Ace Combat series has told great stories in the past, but this is not one of them. It begins as a fascinating tale about a mechanic struggling to find her place in her family’s shadow, but quickly becomes a preposterous journey of prisoners being forced to fly fighter jets to save the world. It plays out like a Fast and the Furious story that is trying to be touching and serious, but it just doesn’t mesh. I ended up laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but yes, it does make for some silly fun. Over the course of the 20 story-based missions, you earn credits to purchase aircraft, weapons, and upgrades, but you can’t freely pick what you want. You need to purchase items along paths that make up a sprawling, spiderweb-like store. If you see a plane you want, you may have to buy some stuff you don’t desire just to reach it. This design keeps the balance in check, as souped-up craft are at the ends of the paths, but it creates the problem of the using the same vehicle for numerous missions in a row, as you likely can’t afford other planes that will make a difference when you need them. The series was better off when it handed out planes as rewards for progress and kills. Click here to watch embedded video You can earn additional money by venturing into multiplayer, which includes an eight-player battle royal mode (no, not "royale," but it is everyone against everyone). Taking on other players is a test of skill, but almost every one of my matches ended with no one being downed. The player that dealt the most damage ended up winning. Part of the problem is a five-minute time limit, but it mostly comes down to the evasion and dogfighting tactics being damn good and players knowing how to survive. The homing capabilities of missiles definitely could use a boost here, as the matches end up going nowhere. You see a couple of enemies go down in team death match, which allows for multiple planes to engage a singular target, but battle royal has been hilariously uneventful for me. For fans of this long-running series, Skies Unknown doesn’t live up to its name. This is the Ace Combat we’ve known and loved for decades, and it’s great to have it back. The dogfighting is rightfully the highlight and will give your reflexes a good workout. The VR Vomit Comet The PlayStation 4 version comes with an exclusive PlayStation VR mode that makes no concessions in how the game is played. Rotation speeds are virtually the same, meaning you’re going to feel it. Using head movement to help track enemy vessels is pretty damn cool, and the sensation of movement is wild – especially when spinning or flying close to the ground. The entire game cannot be played in VR, and the headset is only used for a unique mini campaign, which is fun in its own right. The VR aspect isn’t a selling point, but if you do have the headset already, it is worth checking out for the sensation of hitting extreme Gs. Just make sure you have a barf bag nearby. Score: 8 Summary: This is the Ace Combat we’ve known and loved for decades, and it’s great to have it back. Concept: A thrilling continuation of a series that hasn’t had a mainline installment in 12 years. Dogfighting is once again the main attraction, but the story and missions often miss the mark Graphics: The aircraft are highly detailed, and the settings that have sci-fi inspirations look great. Trees and buildings occasionally pop in, but dense clouds and weather conditions often hide it Sound: The soundtrack is all over the place, bouncing between choirs belting out doomsday tones and guitars playing upbeat melodies. The odd arrangement works well, and is joined by constant chatter of wingmen and roaring missiles Playability: Even on the advanced settings, the controls are arcade-like and designed to keep the action simple to manage. Each plane and weapon brings something different to the battlefield Entertainment: The game makes you work for each kill, and as a result you feel like you’ve achieved something notable with almost every ace you down Replay: Moderate View the full article
  4. It really does feel like we're in the season of returning characters. With Resident Evil 2 coming out soon, the game is obviously a remake, so we're playing as Leon and Claire again. There's a nice familiarity to taking control of Leon Kennedy again, as we've done in Resident Evil 2, 4, and 6. Claire herself was in the relatively recent Revelations 2. We're going back to Sora again in Kingdom Hearts III, Dante again in Devil May Cry 5, Yoshi in Yoshi's Crafted World, etc. While these games often have some variation, I was thinking about whether or not I prefer new or old characters in games. Reading Suriel's interview with Ed Boon, the Mortal Kombat director talked a bit about the mixture of old and new characters in Mortal Kombat 11 and having to keep a balance, edging toward the returning characters versus new ones. It got me thinking about how much I liked the new characters in Mortal Kombat X, though I didn't grow up with the series, which might be the root of my thinking on it. So I was curious what everyone else thought: do you prefer playing new characters or do you prefer your old favorites come back? It doesn't necessarily have to be fighting games. Does Ethan Winters in Resident Evil 7 matter to you or could that have been Chris Redfield and felt as good or better? It's kind of a cop-out answer, but for me it's a case-by-case basis. The open-minded part of me says, sure, I'm open to an entirely new roster as long as all the new characters replicate the feelings I had growing attached to the existing ones through my childhood, which is obviously an impossible ask. So I know I'm never going to be completely fair to any new roster or characters in an established series. What about you? Let us know below in the comments. View the full article
  5. Even if you don't recognize Rieko Kodama's name, there's a good chance you've played a game she's either worked on, directed, or produced. Dubbed "The First Lady of RPGs" by magazine Nintendo Power due to her pioneering work in the 1980s, Kodama is famous for making her name and work none in a male-dominated industry. You might best know her for games like Phantasy Star IV, 7th Dragon, and Skies of Arcadia, but she has also contributed to titles like Sonic the Hedgehog and Altered Beast, as well. Kodama will be recognized with the Pioneer Award at the Game Developer's Conference in March taking place in San Francisco. "After decades spent developing some of SEGA's most indelible classics, Kodama-san could easily rest on her laurels, but instead has dedicated herself to creating games that transcend gender and generations to give us countless hours of joy," GDC's general manager Katie Stern wrote in a statement given to Gamasutra. "This award is a 'thank you' to Kodama-san and all creators who work so hard to achieve greatness." Kodama currently still works at Sega as a producer and is behind the Sega Ages titles and has repeatedly busted barriers in her career. The ceremony will take place March 20 at 6:30 p.m. PST as part of the Game Developer's Choice awards. View the full article
  6. Today we got to see large chunk of Mortal Kombat 11, including a look at seven of its characters, as well as number of gameplay changes that are moving the game in a new direction based on both the community’s reaction to previous Netherrealm games and how the developer itself hopes to change the way players think about the series’ flashy, gore-filled fights. I had the chance to chat with Netherrealm creative director Ed Boon about all the changes taking place. We talked about how variations will work for both the average and competitive players, Netherrealm's overall philosophy when it comes to iterating on an established franchise, and where 11’s focus is when it comes to its roster. Game Informer: I’m a big fan of the custom variations in Mortal Kombat 11. My concern about it was that with Injustice 2's gear, it was very customizable, but the competitive crowd didn’t take to it. Ed Boon: Yeah. And we knew that. From before we even announced it, we knew that the competitive guys? They want regulation. They want, "These are your tools to work with, and there’s no changing them." So we knew this was more of a feature that the mass market would certainly love. But the competitive guys, they want a regulation pool table, a regulation basketball court. Do you want the competitive crowd to tinker around and create their own variations? I don’t think it really works for the competitive thing, because the whole point is to be getting better and better. So you don’t want someone who’s like, “Oh, I’ve been working on building my character for six months,” and the guy who just bought the game yesterday, putting them together is not "regulation, so to speak." But online, when you’re playing people in our matchups, we take that into account. We do want players to say, “Hey, my Scorpion’s a little bit better now, let me go online and use them and continue level up.” In the demo there were three variations to choose from. Are there always going to be three base variations that people can choose from? Yeah. The game will come with the “regulation” version of the character, and you can add to one and build it. We’re kind of still thinking about whether we want to make those three fixed. We can let you copy and paste and then build from there, but I’m personally leaning towards having some base ones, certainly for competitive and tournaments. Do you think that between those three variations, those will be a character’s entire moveset, or will there be custom-only moves? No, I don’t think from the base three variations we’ll be adding to that. We want those things to be fixed, so players can know, "That’s the variation, I know how it plays, I’m learning how to fight against it.” Across those three – that will be the character’s entire moveset? Yeah. We don’t want to leave stuff out, so I imagine that’ll be the base three, and they’ll encompass all of what that character can possibly do. Digging into some of the under-the-hood stuff, I noticed I wasn’t able to run, and there was no stamina meter. We don’t have them, no. What is the reasoning behind that? The overall fighting is, we’re moving in, it’s a little tighter. It’s focused more on what they call “footsies,” jockeying, space control. Our arenas are smaller, and it’s a lot more about strategy than all-out aggression. In Mortal Kombat X, it was way more of like a rushdown, get in the guy’s face, run up to them, make them guess high or low. So we’re really holding back on that, and making it more strategic. It’s more intense, and, I don’t want to use to word intimate, but... It’s more about close-range combat. Yeah. Is that something that you saw as the main direction you wanted to take the series? Was that feedback you got from the community? Where does that sort of shift come from? Part of it was the community. A big part was just change. We don’t want to just release a game that just feels like a prettier-skinned version of the previous one. We really want to people to play it and go, “Wow, there’s a lot of things that are different.” What we did with the meters is totally different in MKX, the super moves, we’ve separated them. The X-Rays are basically the Death Blows now? Yeah, exactly. That’s the big, crazy finisher move. I like the change because it feels more like you don’t have to save your meter for other options. Everything has its own meter. Exactly. And that was strategically something we did. Because if you’re a pro-level player, and you’re using the meter as like a resource, you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got to use the meter to do a pro move, now I’ve got to escape here.” You’re not going to save that up for a Fatal Blow or an X-Ray. So we separated them as three separate resources that you manage. It feels deeper to me, and the dynamic of the game just changes dramatically. Can you walk me through those meters? There’s the pro moves, and the meter’s two bars – so what are your one and two-bar options? It’s basically splitting up your enhanced moves into offensive moves and defensive moves. Offense moves are like, normally you shoot on spark as Baraka, his projectile. If I use one of the meters, I shoot out two. Basically making a more powerful version of that move. So you can use meter, but that’s a resource. And then the defensive ones, if you have me in a combo, you can roll out of it, escape. That’s another resource. Each meter has two segments. Are there options that use up two segments? There are options that use two segments. There are options that use up one segment from each bar. If you knock somebody down, and they want to escape and then get in their face, you can do a rollout, which is a defensive move, with an attack with it, so it uses one of each meter. And some of the moves that are super-powerful, those use two chunks of the meter. So it’s all management. Do I want to use this one that uses two chunks of the meter? It will be a great advantage but then I’d have to wait for it to fill up. And it’s all timed. The meters all fill up over time. The other thing I noticed is the way you activate those enhanced moves is different. Before you did the regular motion with the block button, but now with Scorpion’s teleportation, you have to press up and front kick after you do it. That’s still in flux. We’re in a bit of experimentation and such. Me personally? I want to keep them as simple as possible. I don’t want the barrier of entry to be being able to do something that’s really difficult. I’d like it, ideally, if they were all across the board simple. The barrier shouldn’t be, "do you have the dexterity to do this?" it should be "Can you think of the right thing at the right time?" Can you talk about the philosophy behind changing that specific input? Well, the designers, the guys who were steering in that direction, they wanted to do something that made sense visually, as to what you see on screen. But currently, it’s resulting a lot of different ways to enhance these moves. So if you pick up new character, you have to learn how to enhance different moves, as opposed to say, let’s do a universal thing, so when you pick up a character, everyone knows how to do everything. So we’re still kind of changing everything. Are there going to options like in Mortal Kombat X Scorpion’s spear, where he can use the double-spears with one meter, but then if he nails you with it, you can use another meter to whip it and set them on fire? Oh, yeah, absolutely. So in terms of roster selection, you saw the seven characters we have now, but there’s been a back and forth. In Mortal Kombat 9, it was all about the past history, it was rehashing the plot of one through three. In X it was moving toward a new direction, where you had a lot of new characters. Where do see that direction going with 11? I think Mortal Kombat X probably introduced more brand-new characters. The D’Vorahs, and Ferra & Torrs, Cassie Cage and Jackie, probably more than Mortal Kombat 11. I think Mortal Kombat 11 will introduce some new characters, but we have 80 characters or something, there’s always this passion to seeing your favorite character returning, Skarlet or Baraka. Baraka’s a big one. People were pissed when Baraka wasn’t in MKX. So I think if we had like a needle, it’d lean a little bit more towards servicing those players who want to see their favorite return. I’m going to say two words and you react however you want. Cassie Cage. [Long pause] Uh, Cassie Cage, I’m a big fan. [Laughs] Well, I figured I’d try. View the full article
  7. Yesterday
  8. Epic Games The new year has been rough for Netflix. In addition to having to raise their prices, the streaming service is facing down the barrel of losing 20 percent of their content this year to companies like NBC Universal and Disney pulling their licenses to bolster their own streaming services. Like cowboys standing in a circle ready to draw their guns, it seems like everyone has decided it's about time to draw. Netflix doesn't see this as the real threat, though. The real threat is Fortnite. In a letter to investors today, Netflix argued that HBO is not their main competition, but rather Epic's multiplayer battle royale shooter. Moreover, the competition has been winning more often than not, putting Netflix in the position of defeat more than victory in the battle for people's time. "In the US, we earn around 10 [percent] of television screen time and less than that of mobile screen time," their letter to shareholders reads. "We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO. When YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time... There are thousands of competitors in this highly-fragmented market vying to entertain customers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences." At present, Netflix has 139 million subscribers, compared to Fortnite's 200 million registered accounts. However, the monthly active users for Fortnite tend to be around 80 million, while Netflix has 100 million by their own count. People just usually log in on Netflix less often than Fortnite, which charts a middle ground between being a predictable experience and one fresh one by virtue of it being a multiplayer game. That is to say, you don't know if randomly clicking a movie on Netflix will be interesting, and you know watching something you've seen will be the same experience as the last time you saw it, but Fortnite doesn't have either of these problems. With games like Fortnite also ending up on mobile phones, the barrier to entry is starting to become no greater than it would be to watch Netflix or Hulu. View the full article
  9. Last week, Fallout 76 players discovered that it was possible to access a developer room within the game, which let non-developers produce every item in the game and talk to an unused non-playable character in the room. At the time, it was rumored that Bethesda was banning players who got into the room and agreed to unban them if they explained how exactly they got in. Bethesda has now confirmed that they are banning players who have seen the hidden room. In a statement posted on their Polish Facebook, with an official English translation given to Eurogamer, Bethesda explained that third-party software is required to access the developer's room and thus those players are getting banned. "We are looking into accounts where players have obtained items by accessing areas of the game that are not intended for the public," Bethesda wrote. "These areas are only accessible to PC players that are using 3rd party applications to get into these areas... In an effort to ensure the integrity of these characters and accounts, these accounts are being temporarily disabled pending further investigation." Basically, Bethesda has no idea how people got in, but they believe it to be an intention transgression using software not designed by them, and they're looking into how. The developer has since moved the location of the room, but ever-persistent players are still finding traces of it, presumably at risk of a temporary ban. Fallout 76 is currently available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. [Source: Eurogamer] View the full article
  10. With 2018 behind us, it's time to look forward to the new titles coming our way this year. From Campo Santo's gorgeous, new story-driven adventure taking place in Egypt to trying to escape Hell with your best friend, it sounds like this year will have some great games with unique premises. Here are our most anticipated adventure games. Note: Entries are listed in alphabetical order. Afterparty Release: 2019 Platform: PC, Mac 2016's Oxenfree wowed us with its spooky tale, well-written characters, and snappy dialogue. Now, developer Night School Studio is working on a new project, titled Afterparty. It looks to have similar aesthetics and a similar focus on narrative, but the story is something altogether different. In Afterparty, you find yourself stuck in Hell with your best friend. The only way to escape is by beating the devil at his own game: drinking. If you can out-drink the devil, that's your ticket back to the land of the living. Beyond Blue Release: 2019 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac From the creators of platformer Never Alone comes a very different game, called Beyond Blue. In Beyond Blue, you play as Mirai, the lead of a newly formed research team that makes discoveries deep inside the ocean. Your tasks revolve around solving human-made threats like plastic waste and oil spills. Developer E-Line Media partnered with BBC to make the experience feel as real as possible, with an educational tone that teaches you about ocean-related problems as you play. Cloudpunk Release: 2019 Platform: PC Taking place in a cyberpunk world, you play as a courier of a semi-legal delivery company called Cloudpunk. However, during your first night shift, everything changes. As you jaunt around the city by car and foot, you uncover a mystery that continues to unravel as you speak with A.I. and the city's inhabitants. Concrete Genie Release: 2019 Platform: PS4 Pixelopus, the developer behind the mesmerizing rhythm game Entwined, showed off Concrete Genie for the first time during 2017's Paris Games Week. Concrete Genie tells the story of Ash, a young boy living in a small fishing town named Denska, who discovers he can bring his paintings to life. He uses this power to escape real-world hardships, and build a magical retreat of his own through his creations. You use the DualShock 4 motion sensor to create beautiful backdrops and creatures that look like they're straight out of Where the Wild Things Are. Concrete Genie's beautiful aesthetics and creative gameplay could make it a stand-out adventure game this year. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan Release: 2019 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC Supermassive's Until Dawn was a great horror game inspired by slashers, where we controlled the decisions of a gang of teenagers faced with terrifying circumstances. The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan is a new, episodic adventure game from the developer, acting as a horror anthology about four characters stuck on a haunted ship following a storm in the South Pacific. In The Valley of Gods Release: 2019 Platform: PC, Mac Although Firewatch developer Campo Sampo remains tight-lipped on this new project, we've been curious about it ever since it first appeared at The Game Awards in 2017. The cinematic trailer showed Egyptian landscapes and two women exploring ruins. In The Valley of Gods follows protagonists Rashida and Zora, who are given "one last shot at the adventurous life," according to its Steam page. If Firewatch's excellent storytelling is anything to go by, this next project could be just as captivating. Kentucky Route Zero Act V Release: 2019 Platform: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac Following the story of an old trucker named Conway, the magical journey of Kentucky Route Zero is filled beauty, tragedy, and fantasy in its mesmerizing portrayal of rural Kentucky. We've been waiting patiently from episode to episode to see this adventure conclude, with its most recent episode releasing in 2016. Cardboard Computer is bringing the complete game to consoles this year along with its final episode. We're eager to see the story all come together. Life is Strange 2 Release: 2019 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac Life is Strange 2 introduces new protagonists Sean and Daniel, two brothers who are faced with fleeing their home after a traumatic event. With its well-written characters, dire circumstances, and political themes, episode one was a strong starting point for the new direction of the series, and we're excited to see what comes next. Mineko's Night Market Release: 2019 Platform: Switch, PC, Mac Inspired by simulation games like Animal Crossing, Mineko's Night Market is about a young girl who moves to a new home on an island overrun by cats. You spend your time exploring, crafting, and completing jobs and activities. The story follows a mysterious happening that the townfolks always thought was a myth. With its fun-loving portrayal of Japanese culture and adorable aesthetic, Mineko's Night Market is something to keep on your radar. The Occupation Release: February 5 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC This investigative thriller is set in England during the late '80s. Playing as a journalist, you look into a terrorist attack that led the government to form a protective act. You rush against time, quite literally, since the game plays out in real-time. This means you might miss out on details if you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, and various characters follow routines and schedules. Plus, there's that deadline looming over your head. All this makes it sound like it'll be an intriguing and tense experience. Ooblets Release: 2019 Platform: Xbox One, PC Ooblets brings a unique and fantastical twist to farming. By planting Ooblet seeds, you then wait and cultivate these plants into fully blossomed Ooblets. Ooblets are animal-like companions that can be trained to do various things. You spend your time exploring the land of Oob, joining clubs, customizing your farm and character, and more. Psychonauts 2 Release: 2019 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac This follow-up to the wacky and mind-bending Psychonauts, which came out more than a decade ago, puts us in the shoes of the psychic Raz once again. This time, instead of learning the ropes at a Psychonauts summer camp, he's working with the best of the best at the Psychonauts headquarters. Here, he'll have to prove himself as the newest addition to the intern team and fight alongside his heroes. Sable Release: 2019 Platform: PC This exploration game lets you explore a beautifully crafted desert with a hoverbike. With rolling sand dunes and colorful horizons, the most striking thing about Sable is its gorgeous aesthetic. The story follows an adolescent girl on a journey of self-discovery. Details remain slim at this point, but we're interested to see how Sable pans out when it releases later this year. Sea of Solitude Release: 2019 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC Taking place in a submerged city, you follow Kay, whose loneliness has turned her into something no longer human. You spend time exploring, platforming, and puzzling as you uncover this world's mysteries. She encounters other monsters and attempts to find answers as to what she is and better understand what happened to her. Shenmue III Release: August 27 Platform: PS4, PC Shenmue III is scheduled to finally release this year, bringing the long-awaited continuation of the epic saga and tale of revenge. With its share of delays and more than a decade gap since its prior installment, it's been a rocky and lengthy wait as we inch closer to release. It once again follows Ryo Hazuki's quest to find his father's killer, which has brought him to China. Creator Yu Suzuki has said in interviews that Shenmue III will not be a conclusion because he wants to continue the story in further entries. The Sinking City Release: March 21 Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC The Sinking City is set during the 1920s in the fictional town of Oakmont in Massachusetts. Here, you follow the story of a private investigator who is looking into a peculiar phenomenon where the city was flooded with no apparent cause. The city has been rendered nonfunctional and monsters have risen from the depths of the waters. Instead of mass hysteria, the citizens are strangely content with these less than ideal conditions, and the city is somehow drawing newcomers too. Subnautica: Below Zero Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac Subnautica was one of 2018's best exploration and crafting games, bringing life to an underwater alien ocean in spectacular ways. Subnautica's various biomes are beautiful and sometimes terrifying, teeming with sea creatures that are both alien and familiar. Below Zero is Subnautica's first expansion, bringing icy glaciers and freezing temperatures with its arctic setting. It will also introduce a different protagonist as it brings a whole new chapter to Subnautica's story. View the full article
  11. In December, Ubisoft released the first (of three) episodes in Odyssey’s Legacy of the First Blade arc. When it launched, I wrote that players should wait before investing any time or money in the DLC; the story had potential, but not enough substance to spark a strong recommendation one way or the other. That isn’t true anymore. With the release of the second installment this week, we have a much clearer idea of how this DLC is shaping up – and it isn’t an encouraging one. I’ve boiled my complaints about this episode (called Shadow Heritage) down to two general points that encapsulate my disappointment. However, I can’t really talk about the second point without digging into some spoilers, so: Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC! With that out of the way, here’s why you shouldn’t bother playing Shadow Heritage. Reason One: It doesn’t add cool things. When you have a base game as sprawling and content-packed as Odyssey, the last thing the DLC needs to add is more of the same. Unfortunately, that’s basically what you’re getting here. The first episode did the same thing, but I had hoped that wouldn’t become a pattern. Instead, Shadow Heritage once again provides a few minor things that you couldn’t get before, but they don’t do much to make the gameplay feel different or interesting. You get one new ability called rapid fire in the hunter skill tree. This allows you to continuously shoot arrows without reloading, which costs a little adrenaline for each one fired. This new power, like death veil from the first episode, feels like it was wisely cut from the base game only to be unceremoniously reinserted here. It doesn’t open fun new possibilities in combat, and it doesn’t tie in thematically to anything you’re doing. As a late-game character with plenty of other cool archery abilities, I rarely found a reason to use it. The flamethrower you earn for your ship makes a little more sense in the context of the story. The antagonist is an admiral named The Tempest who is pursing this dangerous weapon for the enemy fleet. Of course, you can get it for yourself, and it is a powerful asset during naval combat, doing damage and setting enemy ships alight. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put naval combat high on the list of things I enjoy about Odyssey, so this upgrade is also underwhelming (and only useful in encounters that I prefer to avoid). Reason Two: It does add not-cool things. Shadow Heritage’s small gameplay changes don’t produce any major shifts, but at least they don’t actively detract from the experience. The same cannot be said for how this narrative wraps up. You may have heard about this by now, considering Ubisoft has already apologized to players for the way this episode ends. If not, here’s the short version: The assassin that you’ve been working with, Darius, has either a son (Natakas) or a daughter (Neema), depending on whether you’re playing as Kassandra or Alexios respectively. At the end of Shadow Heritage, your character has a child with Natakas/Neema – and you as the player have no ability to change that, which totally sucks. Why is this so uncool? I’ve seen people boil this down to a single problem, but for me, it’s a complex three-pronged failure. Railroading: Throughout the entire base game, you are given countless opportunities to choose your hero’s path. How will you resolve a conflict? Will you ask for a reward? Who will you have sex with? You can’t always predict the results, and sometimes external forces meddle to create surprising outcomes, but you always feel like you are at least in control of shaping Alexios’ or Kassandra’s actions regardless of what is happening around them. The forced ending in Shadow Heritage betrays that core foundation, taking away your agency and making your hero do things that can, in many ways, run counter to the vision of the character you’ve spent 70+ hours building. Maybe your hero isn’t straight. Maybe there’s another character that you imagine to be their soul mate. Maybe they like the mercenary life and don’t want kids at all. Ubisoft’s ending ignores and invalidates all of those options for the sake of a narrative twist that feels both rushed and forced. Natakas is Lame: I can’t speak to the Alexios path, but the guy who Kassandra has a baby with is a wimpy, uninteresting sad-sack. He’s the Assassin’s Creed analogue of Milhouse from The Simpsons. If players were given a choice whether or not to pursue a relationship with him, I’m confident that almost no one would. That just makes the forced relationship even more baffling; I would still be mad if the game railroaded players into a romance with another character – like Brasidas, for example – but I least I could understand what my Kassandra saw in the guy. When it comes to Natakas, the two of them don’t seem to have any chemistry, and Kassandra is waaaaay out of his league. Bad Romance: Lots of players like romance in their RPGs. They get very invested in particular characters, and they like when games react to and emphasize the relationships they’ve built. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t really do that; it lets you build brief connections with certain characters that can culminate in one-night stands, but you don’t see many cutscenes or sequences that focus on or even acknowledge your hero’s romantic partnerships. I was okay with that, because no potential love interest is treated as any more significant than another. In this way, the ending of Shadow Heritage adds insult to injury, because it’s the only time Odyssey really zooms in on that aspect of Kassandra’s or Alexios’ story. You see them and a companion become parents, have a home, and build a life together – except you don’t get to see it with a person you’ve chosen. You have to watch it unfold with Natakas/Neema, who you probably don’t care about. Okay, maybe that point wasn’t as “simple” as the headline to this article suggests, but the bottom line remains the same: Shadow Heritage takes the potential of the first DLC episode and transmutes it into disappointment. If the Legacy of the First Blade felt like it was treading water before, now it feels like it’s drowning – and that makes it hard for me to get excited about the final episode of this arc. View the full article
  12. RSI

    Around the Verse

    In this week’s update we see how hover bikes will work in the new flight model, and how devs are re-targeting animations to make female playable characters unique and authentic. View the full article
  13. Tides of Vengeance Part 2 Goes Live January 22 Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums) There’s plenty to look forward to when Tides of Vengeance Part 2 goes live on January 22. Watch our Survival Guide to learn more. New Raid: Battle of Dazar’alor The Alliance will strike at the heart of the Zandalari empire—while the defenders of the Horde will rally to their new allies’ defense—in an epic new raid, Battle of Dazar’alor. This new raid provides both Horde and Alliance players with unique encounters for their faction—along with the opportunity to play through events from the opposite faction’s viewpoint. Learn more. PvP Season 2 Begins PvP Season 2 will begin and introduce an updated Conquest reward schedule, mounts, and gear. Players who earn 500 Conquest points in a given week through PvP activities including Arenas, Battlegrounds, and Assaults in War Mode will be still be able to choose a piece of gear from each week’s selection; in addition, they’ll now earn a Quartermaster’s Coin, which can be collected and ultimately used to upgrade pieces from this season’s Sinister Gladiator PvP set. Learn more. Mythic Keystone Dungeon Season 2 Begins The new Mythic Keystone Dungeon season opens opportunities for new rewards and a new challenge with the new seasonal affix: Reaping. High-level Keystones will now summon Bwonsamdi, the Loa of Death, to wreak some spectral havoc upon players’ dungeon run. As heroes kill enemies, the vanquished spirits will continue to linger in the mortal realm. At certain points throughout the dungeon, Bwonsamdi will resurrect these twisted souls, who will swarm the unfortunate adventurers in a final act of vengeance. (Blog coming soon.) Azerite Armor Updates With the release of Season 2, we’re introducing new epic Azerite pieces from PvP Season 2, the Battle of Dazar’alor raid, World Quest Emissaries, and from the Mythic Keystone vendor Thaumaturge Vashreen in Zuldazar and Boralus. These new items will have a fifth ring with additional new trait options. Learn more. Content Difficulty and Rewards Changes With a new season upon us and the Dazar’alor raid dungeon opening, we wanted to share some additional information on the changes coming to a variety of dungeon and outdoor world encounters including increases to both difficulty and rewards. New Maximum Item Level: With great challenges come great rewards and the maximum possible item level will go up to 425. Battle for Darkshore Warfront: Battle for Darkshore rewards will also increase to 400 from both the outdoor boss and from Warfront quest that can be completed once per cycle. The difficulty of the Warfront will increase however, and the item level required to queue will increase to 335. These changes will go into effect after the current Warfront cycle has ended. Until that time, players will still receive Season 1 rewards. World Quest Emissary Rewards: World Quest Emissary weapon and armor rewards will also now scale up to 385 based on the player’s own item level. Rewards from the original Battle for Azeroth Launch World bosses will remain at item level 355 to stay on par with Uldir. Dungeon Rewards and Difficulty: The difficulty of Heroic and Mythic dungeons will also be increase as follows: Normal–340, Heroic–355, and Mythic– 370(baseline) Mythic Keystone Dungeons and PvP: During the first week of Season 2 Mythic Keystone Dungeon rewards will be capped at Mythic 6 quality (item level 385). PvP Season 2 end-of-match rewards will be capped at 385. Seals of Wartorn Fate: Seals of Wartorn Fate are not being reset and this same currency can be used for Battle of Dazar’alor and Season 2 bonus rolls; the cap on how many can be held at once remains at 5. For additional insights on these changes, read the developer forum post. Tides of Vengeance Part 2: Azerite Armor Updates & Changes Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker) Since the launch of Battle for Azeroth, players have been empowering their Heart of Azeroth and collecting Azerite armor to gear up for the battles ahead. Since then, we’ve made a variety of adjustments to the system—and we have a few more updates coming with the second part of Tides of Vengeance on January 22 that we’d like go into more detail on today. With the release of Battle for Azeroth Season 2, we’re introducing new epic Azerite pieces that you can acquire through a variety of methods, including Season 2 PvP, the Battle of Dazar’alor raid, World Quest Emissaries, and from the Mythic Keystone vendor Thaumaturge Vashreen in Zuldazar and Boralus. These new items will have a fifth ring with additional new trait options and is available at Heart of Azeroth level 15. This new outer ring provides two choices of traits per specialization, giving players an opportunity to find items that have traits they particularly want—and the freedom to create new and interesting combinations that may not have been possible before. This additional ring of traits makes each item have a larger impact on your character’s overall power. Outer Ring: Powers that reside in the new outer ring provide two additional trait options for each of your character’s available specializations. Example: Moment of Repose (Discipline) (Passive) Pain Suppression applies Atonement to the target and instantly heals them for 15,313. Second Ring: Powers that reside on the second ring from the outside will often be influenced by where you collected the piece of armor they’re found on. These powers can also be associated with specific class specializations. Example: Seductive Power (Passive) Your spells and abilities have a chance to conjure Bwonsamdi’s spectral visage, beckoning you closer. If you approach him, gain 57 to all stats for 5 minutes, stacking up to 5 times. If you fail to heed his call, lose 1 stack. Third Ring: These powers generally benefit the performance of your in-game role—they’ll provide damage increases for DPS classes, increase damage mitigation for tanks, or bolster healing output for healers. Example: Bracing Chill (Passive) Your heals have a chance to apply Bracing Chill. Healing a target with Bracing Chill will heal for an additional 2,574 and move Bracing Chill to a nearby ally (up to 6 times). Fourth Ring: These are defensive or utility-oriented powers for your class. Example: Vampiric Speed (Passive) When an enemy you harmed dies, you heal for 6,361 and gain 93 Speed for 6 seconds. Fifth Ring: Azerite Empowerment is the power that resides at the center, and increases an armor piece’s item level by 5. New Traits to Discover You’ll also find new location-specific traits that scale with item level and are available on gear from the Battle of Dazar’alor raid, including: Bonded Souls: Your spells and abilities have a chance to trigger a Soulbond for 15 seconds. During Soulbond, every 5 seconds you and your nearest ally are both healed for 3,456 and gain 141 Haste for 5 seconds. Seductive Power: Your spells and abilities have a chance to conjure Bwonsamdi’s spectral visage, beckoning you closer. If you approach him, gain 26 to all stats for 5 minutes, stacking up to 5 times. If you fail to heed his call, lose 1 Stack. Treacherous Covenant: Your primary stat is increased by 151 while you are above 50% health. You take 15% increased damage while below 20% health. Azerite Knowledge With the start of Season 2, we’re also adding 10 more ranks of Azerite Knowledge over the course of January 22 through March. Each rank of Artifact Knowledge increases the speed at which your Heart of Azeroth levels up. Tides of Vengeance Recap: Trait Updates and Additions With the launch of Tides of Vengeance on December 11, we replaced many of the Azerite traits we weren’t happy with and continue to iterate on various elements of the system to provide variety and flexibility in player gear choices. NEW TRAITS IN THE DARKSHORE WARFRONT It’s a good time to keep an eye on the shifting tides of the Darkshore Warfront. We added many new Azerite Armor traits that are just waiting to be collected, including: Ancients Bulwark: Standing still grants you Deep Roots, increasing your Versatility by 179. Moving instead grants you Uprooted, healing you for 259 every 1 second. Apothecary’s Concoctions: Your damaging abilities have a chance to deal 1,262 Plague damage over 6 seconds, and your healing abilities have a chance to restore 2,415 health over 6 seconds. These effects are increased by up to 100% based on the target’s missing health. Endless Hunger: Your Versatility is increased by 179. Moving near an enemy’s corpse consumes their essence, restoring 1,815 health. Shadow of Elune: Your spells and abilities have a chance to increase your Haste by 465 for 15 seconds. At night, you also gain 10% movement speed for the duration. HEART OF AZEROTH LEVELING AND GEARING UP Reaching Friendly, Honored, or Revered reputation with the Champions of Azeroth faction now unlocks the appropriate quests to upgrade your Heart of Azeroth for all characters on your account. The cost to change Azerite traits has been reduced from 72 hours to 24 hours. We’ve also added a new way for players who participate in Mythic Keystone Dungeons to gain specific Azerite Armor. These players will be able to earn a new currency—Titan Residuum—which can be used to purchase specific items from Thaumaturge Vashreen now located in either Zuldazar or Boralus. You can read more in our forum post. Season 2 and the Battle of Dazar’alor are just around the corner—are you ready for the challenges that await? View the full article
  14. Announcement Regarding Recent MMO-Champion Account Deletions US - Season 1 Arena and RBG Title Cutoffs Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums) With Battle for Azeroth Season 2 fast approaching, we wanted to give those looking to push for titles at the end of Season 1 an idea of what to aim for. What follows are the current rating cutoffs as of this post, for the respective titles. These are not the final cutoffs, which will change slightly based on continued play through the end of the season as well as any disqualifications that occur after the season ends, but can be used as a general estimate for what ratings are needed in order to qualify. Dread Gladiator – Horde: 2962 Dread Gladiator – Alliance: 2859 Hero of the Horde: 2652 Hero of the Alliance: 2563 Again, these are not the final cutoffs, which we won’t be able to determine until after the season officially ends. EU - Battle for Azeroth Season 1 Cutoffs Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums) With Battle for Azeroth Season 2 fast approaching, we wanted to give those looking to push for titles at the end of Season 1 an idea of what to aim for. What follows are the current rating cutoffs as of this post, for the respective titles. These are not the final cutoffs, which will change slightly based on continued play through the end of the season as well as any disqualifications that occur after the season ends, but can be used as a general estimate for what ratings are needed in order to qualify. Dread Gladiator – Horde: 3022 Dread Gladiator – Alliance: 3069 Hero of the Horde: 2726 Hero of the Alliance: 2749 Again, these are not the final cutoffs, which we won’t be able to determine until after the season officially ends. WoW Esports in 2019 Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums) Today we are very excited to share details for the 2019 Arena World Championship (AWC) and rebranded Mythic Dungeon International (still MDI!), including increases to both programs’ prize pools, which will come from a portion of the sales of two new toys. Let’s get right into it. Arena Returns for 2019 We are pleased to bring back the Arena World Championship in similar form as last year—just with a few fun twists. Here’s a visual representation of the system in 2019: North America and Europe: The NA and EU regions will have two Arena seasons each, with six cups per season. Each cup will see teams battle for their share of a USD $10,000 prize pool. This represents an increase over last year’s competition, with more cups and more chances for players to win. Like last year, each cup will award points. For each finals event, the top four point-earners per season from both NA and EU will compete for a USD $100,000 prize pool. The first cup begins on Feb. 8; signups start today and will close Monday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. PDT/6 p.m. CET. Asia-Pacific, China, and Latin America: These regions also will run cups based on the Arena World Championship ruleset. Signups for Korea, Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau, Australia/New Zealand, China, and Latin America will kick off later in the year. Keep an eye on regional channels for more information. Arena World Championship Finals: At the end of the year, we will celebrate the global scope of Arena with the AWC Finals. Invitations will be extended to: 1st place from NA and EU Season 1 1st and 2nd place from NA and EU Summer Finals Top point-earner from NA and top point-earner from EU Winners of the China, APAC, and Latin America finals. Introducing the Mythic Dungeon International An invitational no more, we are pleased to announce the Mythic Dungeon International for 2019—a seasonal competition that will showcase the world’s best dungeon-running teams. We decided to update the name of the program in order to better reflect its increased scope and global reach. The Upgrades MDI will be split into two regions: MDI East (China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and Australia/New Zealand) and MDI West (North America, Latin America, and Europe). Here is how the year will flow: The Proving Grounds are a qualification period open to any player with a Blizzard Battle.net account in good standing. Think you’ve got what it takes to be Mythic Dungeon International champions? Grab a team of five players and prove it! All you and your team need to do is complete five level 14 Mythic Keystone Dungeons in time between February 26 and March 12. (Note: Keystone level is subject to change, and will be determined sometime after the start of Season 2, on Jan. 22.) If successful, you and your team will be granted access to the Tournament Realm, where you will be able to create max-level characters, equip them with the items you feel are most optimal, and build out talents as you please. You and your team will have access to the Tournament Realm for the duration of the season. Each season, those who have gained access to the Tournament Realm via the Proving Grounds will be able to participate in Time Trials—a limited number of attempts at the week’s dungeons during a designated time period, of which your team’s best results will be submitted automatically. Each week will alternate between East and West, beginning with the Time Trial in ending in the week’s Cup, a double-elimination bracket featuring the top eight teams for that week’s region. All teams on the Tournament Realm will be able to run in their region’s Time Trials every alternating week, which means more opportunities to participate in Cups. Each Cup for MDI East and MDI West will be broadcast live on Twitch each weekend across six weeks. There is a USD $12,000 prize pool per Cup, as well as MDI points. Points will be awarded each week according to results, which will be used to determine who will be invited to each end-of-season LAN final. The end-of-season LAN events will be cross-regional, meaning the best teams of MDI East and MDI West will meet to race for their share of USD $100,000. The Proving Grounds for MDI Season 1 for both East and West will begin the week of February 26, when keystone affixes roll over. Closer to the event we will share more information about how to participate, qualification specifics, and more. NEW TOYS FOR ME? I PROMISE I WON’T BREAK THEM THIS TIME! As both Arena and MDI grow, we want to give fans a chance to further support the programs—and have some fun along the way! Soon we will introduce two new in-game toys to our shop (details to follow). A portion of the sale of these toys will contribute to the prize pools for both WoW esports programs. These toys will go on sale in the spring. As the proceeds will contribute to the year’s final LAN event prize pools for AWC and MDI, those prize pools will be announced later this year. We can’t wait to get things started. Be sure to follow World of Warcraft on Twitter and Twitch to stay up to date on all the latest WoW esports news, and bookmark WorldOfWarcraft.com/esports so you don’t miss a thing! View the full article
  15. Game Informer's Ben Hanson, Joe Juba, Kyle Hilliard, and Matt Bertz run down their most-anticipated games for 2019 and share new information on Metro Exodus and The Division 2 from Ubisoft. Then Suriel Vazquez joins the show to talk about the funky new No More Heroes game on the Nintendo Switch. After a mountain of great community emails, we're joined by Imran Khan to talk about some of the wildest gaming news from 2019 so far. You can watch the video below, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, listen to episode 433 on SoundCloud, stream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 by clicking here. Also, be sure to send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show. Click here to watch embedded video Our thanks to the talented Super Marcato Bros. for The Game Informer Show's intro song. You can hear more of their original tunes and awesome video game music podcast at their website. To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below... 3:25 - Vane 6:15 - The next Pokémon 9:25 - Metro Exodus 14:30 - Psychonauts 2 17:35 - The Outer Worlds 21:20 - Animal Crossing on Switch 25:40 - The Division 2 35:00 - One Piece: World Seeker 38:20 - Devil May Cry 5 41:30 - Age of Empires IV 44:50 - Doom Eternal 49:15 - Control 51:55 - Anthem 55:27 - Dreams 1:01:00 - Predicting The Last of Us Part II and Cyberpunk's release date 1:08:00 - Even more games we're excited to play in 2019 1:21:35 - Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes 1:29:45 - Community emails 1:58:25 - Answering community questions about Sekiro 2:06:20 - Back to community emails 2:40:20 - The biggest news from 2019 2:41:40 - EA cancelling another Star Wars game 2:49:55 - Bungie and Activision's split and Destiny's fuutre 2:58:00 - Unity vs. Improbable 3:05:00 - The new Ghostbusters movie 3:08:20 - Gearbox drama View the full article
  16. Blizzard has revealed the next seasonal Overwatch event, a return of the Lunar New Year to ring in the Year of the Pig. Players can jump in for a host of new cosmetics and events for their favorite Overwatch characters starting on January 24. Squeal with joy! Overwatch Lunar New Year returns January 24. pic.twitter.com/CLBXmBCrEX — Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) January 17, 2019 The video posted shows Soldier 76 playing with a bolang gu, a pellet drum toy used as a noise-maker to ring in the new year. While that's probably a victory animation or just something made for the video, hopefully 2019 is the year of giving Soldier 76 toys to play with that he doesn't culturally understand but loves. We should be seeing details on Overwatch's Lunar New Year event, such as new costumes and animations, in the week leading up to going live. View the full article
  17. With Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, From Software is making a number of changes to the way it thinks about combat, level design, storytelling, and more. Although fans expect plenty of surprises when they sit down with a From game for the first time, certain aspects of the developer’s formula having been trained into players’ minds, and it might be these players who have the hardest time getting used to Sekiro’s changes. To get a taste of how Sekiro might differ from From’s previous output we sat down with lead game planner Masaru Yamamura to get his insight on what learned players may want to rethink most when they jump into Sengoku-era Japan for the first time. Attacks Are The Tells For years, fans of From games have learned an invaluable instinct: If you see your opponent wind up an attack, get out of the way. That will only get you so far in Sekiro, and Yamamura predicts some players are going to think the game is harder than it actually is if they dodge at the first sign of movement. “We feel like the initial impression is going to be, ‘Wow, these enemies are really tough! They have a strong defense,” he says. Combat works a little differently this time around; when you see an attack come your way, that’s your time to strike. “When the enemy’s attacking you, you can deal damage to them, you can wear down their posture by deflecting their momentum and their attacks,” Yamamura says. Most attacks enemies dish out can be can be countered by your own sword swings, dealing damage, but more importantly, increase their posture meter. When this meter maxes out, they’re vulnerable to death blows, which will deal severe damage, usually killing them. It’s not simply a matter of mashing the attack button instead of the roll button, though; the window for properly deflecting an attack is fairly thin, so you’ll have to study an opponent’s attacks and learn the proper timing to counter them. “Once users have mastered the deflect technique, they’ll be dealing not only damage through their own attacks, but when they’re being attacked by the enemies, turning that to their advantage,” Yamamura says. Exploration Is Part Of Combat Before you engage in combat at all, however, you’ll want to do your research. The Wolf’s grappling hook lets him move to high places and get a view of where he’s fighting. This lets you survey your opponents before you fight them. Make it a point to seek out vantage points where you’ll be able to see what you’re up against and plan accordingly. On the ground, you’ll want to be sneaky. Though past From games let you get the jump on enemies from time to time, Sekiro has a bona fide stealth option, letting you move slowly and hide in tall grass to avoid detection. This serves two functions. First, if you can take out a few of the more isolated enemies before you’re spotted, you’ll have an easier time once you go loud. Second, if enemies don’t know you’re there, they might be a little chattier, and have conversations that might be of use to you. It also helps to talk to anyone else you meet along the way. “The eavesdropping mechanic, conversations with NPCs, overhearing enemy conversations – these are ways you can learn about the world, and gain hints about combat as well,” Yamamura says. If you overhear enemy conversations before you kill them, you might learn a particular enemy is weak to fire, giving you an advantage when you finally face them. The Answer Is Always In Front Of You (Or Nearby) In Sekiro, every player plays by the same rules. By giving every player the same toolset, From can create encounters that may require a specific approach, attack, or tool, and trust that players will have that solution at the ready. “The game is designed in a way that we’d like users to experience all these [options],” Yamamura says. “And to incorporate them all into their toolset, and to take on challenges by thinking, ‘What could I take from my repertoire in this situation? How could I apply that here?’” If you’re finding a particular encounter or boss too difficult, think about all of the tools at your disposal. Between your katana, prosthetic limb weapons and tools, and stealth or traversal options, you probably have an answer for your problem. If not, it might be time to go look for it, as some options are hidden around the world. Either way, you’re never “locked” out of a certain strategy simply because you didn’t build for it. You Can Change Your Strategy On The Fly Sekiro isn’t as malleable a game when it comes to creating different character builds. That means some dedicated From players are going to have their gameplans pulled out from underneath them. But are there ways to make The Wolf your own that let you adapt to different encounters. Yamamura says the biggest way players most comfortable with heavy weapons, bows, or magic will find some comfort in Sekiro’s combat arts – equippable skills that offer new abilities. “If a user wants to use a particularly heavy, slow attack, then they’ll find something in the combat arts,” he says. Meanwhile, “the prosthetic tools have a variety of more, I suppose, martial arts or ninjutsu-based attacks that could be perceived as magic, as well.” So while you won’t be able to turn yourself into an unstoppable heavy-roller or keepaway mage, players with different tastes should look into how they can create their own comfortable “build” through the combat arts, rather than having to return to a particular character to respect their stat points. For more on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, make sure to check out how Sekiro’s bosses work, or how From is changing their approach to storytelling, and click on the banner below to keep up through all of our coverage throughout the month. View the full article
  18. At the end of the Mortal Kombat 11 event today, the team at Netherream revealed the first completely new character for the game who goes by the name of Geras. While the character trailer did not reveal much in the way of story details, Geras appears to control the power of sand, maybe in the same way Raiden commands lightning and thunder. He certainly does not appear to fear the lightning god, at least. Check out the reveal trailer below. Click here to watch embedded video You can see his fatal move and his fatality in the trailer, which involves punching someone's brains out quite literally. Mortal Kombat 11 is scheduled to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on April 23. View the full article
  19. Hasbro revealed today that a new game set in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers universe is will be released in 2019. Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid is fighting game due out in April 2019 for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. The game is due out on PC at a later date. Battle For The Grid will feature rangers and villains "past and present" from the popular show. There will be cross-play on Xbox One, Switch, and PC. You can watch the game in action right here: Click here to watch embedded video For more on the Power Rangers, watch us play through a bevy of old-school Power Rangers games in our Power Rangers Spectacular episode of Replay. View the full article
  20. Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: April 23, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC During the Mortal Kombat 11 live stream today, Netherrealm Studios began the event by showing off the first gameplay reveal for the new game. In it, we can see returning and new characters, but primarily focusing on bloodmancer Skarlet from Mortal Kombat 9, Sub-Zero, Baraka, and more. Check out the gameplay video below. Click here to watch embedded video The video also has a bit of the game's story mode, which picks up right after Mortal Kombat 9, according to creative director Ed Boon. You can watch various warriors beat on each other a bit in the gameplay video above as more Mortal Kombat nformation starts to trickle in. Mortal Kombat 11 is releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on April 23. View the full article
  21. We're minutes away from Netherrealm's and Warner Bros.' reveal event for the latest entry in the classic and venerated fighting game series Mortal Kombat. The eleventh game in the series is going to get blown open at today's event in preparation for its release in April of this year. The livestream is below. It's a Mortal Kombat stream so, obviously, viewer discretion is advised. Click here to watch embedded video Which characters or features are you hoping they'll show off for Mortal Kombat 11 here today? View the full article
  22. As an action franchise, John Wick is practically perfect. It has a cool concept, talented stars, and ridiculously inventive fights. After two well-received installments, a third is slated to release this summer. The trailer for that entry recently released, and it looks like fans will not be disappointed. You can see it for yourself below, but some highlights include: motorcycle sword fights, knives almost in crotches, and Keanu Reeves riding a horse. What else do you need to know? Click here to watch embedded video View the full article
  23. Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: SIE Bend Studio Release: April 26, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4 Days Gone isn't far from its April 26 release, but if you're eager to start riding your motorcycle through this zombie-infested setting, maybe the latest trailer will help make the wait easier. The video sets up the various threats and locations players will encounter out in the wilderness. If nothing else, the footage definitely makes truck stops and small towns seem much more menacing than they are in our reality. Watch for yourself right here: Click here to watch embedded video Are you excited to play Days Gone? If so, you can learn even more about the game by clicking on the banner below. View the full article
  24. Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC If you’ve read our extensive preview that launched earlier today, you know that the developers at Massive and Red Storm have a lot of ambitious plans for evolving the dark zone and PvP experiences in The Division 2. Creating three distinct dark zones, normalizing weapon stats to create an even playing field, and still having one rotating “anything goes” region, where hardcore players can test their min-maxed gear unabated, should give the game its own identity. To explain the rationale behind these sweeping changes, we spoke to Red Storm creative director Terry Spier. Let's talk normalization – the community has been discussing the pros and cons of putting weapon damage on an even playing field. Can you explain how exactly you want it to work? I think how I described it, that's the deepest I'll go here. When we're talking about weapon damage and things like that, if you have an assault rifle and I have an assault rifle, but yours is legendary and mine is common, we're going to bring those inline. We're going to take stats, we're going to respect your build, but we're going to make sure that all the things are pretty in line, and that's as deep as I'll go because we're still working on it. We're still fixing stuff and figuring out – that doesn't work at all. But the ultimate goal is to make sure that players get what they've been asking for – at least the ones who have been asking for it: Give us a fair chance in the dark zone. By adopting normalization in the dark zone, are you seeing more diversity in the types of builds people use? Yeah, I do. I see a lot more diversity because players are able to play with their build but their output, I don't want to say it's marginalized, but the fact that it's even means you can play the way you want to play and have success. And the other player feels the same way. That wasn't the case in the original game. It was, “I'm trying to play the way I want to play, and I can't because that is too powerful,” so we're seeing a lot more parity. The truth of the matter is we have much more variety in this game already, and we haven't even hit post-launch. So, there's going to be a lot of options for players to explore and experiment with. When you're in the dark zone fighting both A.I. and other players; are you basically running two scripts on top of one another when NPCs are in a battle with humans? That's a good question and one I'm probably not properly equipped to answer. How our damage effect, we changed the way the A.I. scale. Maybe you noticed, but we don't display A.I. level in the dark zone anymore. The A.I. will always be equal to you. So, when you are attacking the A.I. you are doing appropriate damage, and when someone else is attacking the A.I. and they are a different level, they are doing appropriate damage. The way we work it all out in the wash, god bless the technical people. They figured out a way to make sure it all works. On the map, it looked like there were parts of the dark zone that were higher level, but you're getting rid of that? Yeah. Remember, the dark zones unlock in a linear fashion, so the player will be introduced to Dark Zone East first and then they'll go on the journey. You will experience dark zones and they will seem to get harder, and when you open them all up and unlock them, they will all be appropriate. If you're level 29 and you go back to Dark Zone East, which you played when you were level 10, it's going to be just as hard. Let's talk about density – the three zones on their own are obviously smaller than the dark zone in the first game. When I saw them on the map, the new zones didn't look that big. How are you controlling population? Are you trying to kill those longer, quiet moments that people had in the original dark zone? That's a great question. We did have a lot of those longer, quiet moments, and how we've replaced that or how I believe we've approached those moments is we've given more feedback to the player. If you noticed, when a player engages a landmark, it now flashes. Little subtleties like that – how we display the rogues and manhunts on the map. How we don't display the gray rogues on the map. We want to make sure that because we have reduced player count, players can control more where they want to go based on the feedback they are getting. We didn’t have any of that feedback during the first game. My experience was people just went north. If they didn't want to see other people, they would just go north and it was generally free space. I don't think that was as efficient as it could have been, because you had a lot of the dark zone that wasn't active. The other way we approached it was the dark zone sort of lives on its own. If there are players grouped up and spending a lot of time in the southern portion of a dark zone, the dark zone will decide to spawn activities elsewhere to creation motion and movement. Players will be able to safely move around the dark zone and avoid or collide with the other groups. It's worked well so far. What is the player count now in the dark zones? Does it scale differently depending on the zones? The max player count in the dark zones now is 12. How do you feel the density change is going to affect solo play in the dark zone? Some of my favorite moments in the dark zone were when I escaped by the skin of my teeth when I was by myself out there waiting for friends to join. Those are rewarding moments, and my initial reaction was these maps are small enough that it's going to be hard to avoid people. Are there perks or abilities that allow solo players to be effective in that space? Your dark-zone level now has passive perks attached to it, so you'll be able to go to the base of operations and pick and choose from a tree of things that will help you be able to play how you want to play. So, there is that, and you will be able to do that and assist yourself as a solo player. And then, I'm going to touch back on things that we communicate in the dark zone and how we hide the PvE player very subtly in the new dark zones, and the fact we normalize. All these things – they don't take away from the tension. I will admit that it will be harder to fully disappear, you can't just go up into DZ09 where no one is going. You're going to have to remain real cognizant. And I want to retain that sort of hair on the back of your neck feeling when you're in the dark zone. Bringing the people in a little bit closer, making sure people know what's going on in their zone. Pay attention to all the signs and feedback, because if you don't you could die. But to me that creates the essence of the tension that dark zone creates. I'm not going to say I'm making it any easier for the solo players, but I think I am. Especially given the normalization. When I visited one of the underground thieves dens available if you complete a rogue loop, there was a guy in the den who had an icon that said 0/5 MRE. What does that mean? MRE is a military ration. Each dark zone has a specific item that only drops from that dark zone, and the vendors in the thieves’ den are always looking for a mix and match or a specific type of item. If you can satisfy his needs, you will get his reward. We'll be able to control the value and scale of those rewards and how much you have to collect. Each dark zone has its own unique needs item that players can hunt and find. Do you sometimes need to farm these unique items from one place and bring it to another? Sometimes. Absolutely. You might say, "We need more morphine and that's only in east. East is occupied...what do we do?” I don't want to say there are time-sensitive elements – players can play at their own pace – but yeah, sometimes you need to go into east, and what are you going to do? Are you going to risk it? Are you not? We'll let players make the choice. How did you change the manhunt system for The Division 2? In The Division 2, we've upgraded the manhunt endgame we had in the original. Now you have three shade terminals that are going to activate when you go manhunt, and those terminals are what you'd go to if you want to clear your manhunt – essentially reboot your shade system and collect your reward. But this time, we don't give specifics to people that are chasing you. We give you the precise location of the terminals and we give players that are chasing you a general vicinity. Of course, players will learn where those are, but they don't know which one you are heading to. When you arrive as a manhunt at one of those terminals, you can choose to clear and collect your bounty, or you can choose to increase your notoriety. We're essentially letting people ante-up and increase the rewards you can earn. When you do that, the players chasing you will see you have done that and that one station goes offline and you only have two left. They still don't know which one you are going to, but there is an interesting cat and mouse game that's played by the manhunt folks and the people who are chasing them. Depending on how aggressive the manhunters want to be, they can earn a sizeable award if they increase their notoriety twice if they end up at one station where everyone on the server knows where they are going to be. It's pretty lucrative, and it's super intense. We saw landmarks, manhunts, hacking, and supply drops. Are there any other variable events that pop up in the dark zones? In the original game we had contamination events that would happen in the dark zone. We did not include those at launch. So right now, we're starting with dark zone drops, landmarks, and we've changed the dynamic nature of the zone. You'll see a lot more A.I. you didn't expect. Part of that is because we reduced the player count so we can include a little more A.I. and increase the density because player characters are pretty expensive [resource wise]. So, as far as things that are calling you on the actual map, it's supply drop, extraction, and landmarks. Those are the things that are going to really ring the bell. But you'll see more variety within these? Absolutely. You saw the landmarks have difficulty ratings now, so you're going to be able to pick as a solo player or a group player. I want to do the challenging one, or I want to just do normal. That's going to dictate how many waves of A.I. come out of the landmark and how much loot you get out of it. It also dictates how long you stay at a landmark, which could be detrimental depending on the other players in the dark zone, that density – how it fluctuates depending on who is playing the dark zone – is a lot different than the first one. I noticed not every item you loot is contaminated. Was that a decision you made so players still feel somewhat rewarded even if they aren't able to extract stuff? Yeah. It was kind of a two- or three-fold decision. It was in part for the solo player. It was tough as a solo player, as you said, having to extract everything. You have to ring the dinner bell every time you want to get something out of the dark zone. Quite frankly, I was disappointed that yellow bag started to mean a little bit less in the original game because players had everything they wanted, nobody really cared, and they were just killing each other for killing's sake. Making it so when you saw a yellow bag, you say, "Oh, that dude has a contaminated item!" and how we're handling the loot rolls on those contaminated items is different than it was in the original game. We're taking a look at who extracts that item, and then we're going to roll it after they successfully get it out. The likelihood that you get an upgrade is much higher. If the three of us fight over a contaminated bag for two hours, it's an M4, but that's all we know. Its roll is going to depend on who extracts it. Making that yellow bag special, making it a real thing that you care about again, and making players who don't want to care, they can avoid it altogether and farm regular loot. There seemed to be a lot of new crafting items like titanium and ceramic. Are you diversifying so there is more variety in the types of items users need to build new gear? The crafting system is insane. It's completely out of my range to talk about, but I know that Massive has put a lot of time into it. It doesn't come into play in organized PvP, but we'll have crafting nodes it the dark zone so players can gather and get all the things they need. There is a lot. As I gathered loot through the dark zone, I noticed that none of it was cosmetics. Is that all tied to progression, currency, or a store now? Or can I still find new vanity items in the world? I can't comment exactly on that. What I can say is how we distribute the vanity is something that's still happening. But I'll tell you there is a whole s---load of vanity in the game. There's going to be a whole lot of ways to collect it. Talk about occupied dark zones. You want that essentially to be a thunderdome? Yeah, absolutely. We want a fair experience and the dark zone is a huge part of the map and the gameplay. I want more people in it, so let's make sure that people can go in it and we do what we need to do. But we have to respect the players who still play today, who still go in the dark zone today, to really blow off steam and flex and reap the benefits of all the optimization they have done on other people's faces. Give it to them, let them play as hard as they want to play. And take all the gloves off – everything. The A.I. is harder. The PvP is harder. The signs and feedback are harder. That intensity appeals to me so much. I think it's going to be crazier than the dark zone was when we launched the original game. How does the occupied system work exactly? It's at endgame? It's at endgame, just as you said. When you hit endgame, the dark zone will become occupied, and it's one of the three dark zones. It's only going to happen at endgame so you're never going to see this. When you hit endgame, there is a very clear icon over the dark zone, and it's an event that occurs. If you are already in the dark zone, things will begin to happen. You'll get notifications from Isaac, and you'll notice things begin to happen in the air and on the ground. Things will change and they'll be a timer and you'll know shit is about to go down. It will stay that way, Let's say it will stay in Dark Zone West for 16 hours, and then it will go away and appear somewhere else. I'm not going to tell you what it's occupied by, but it's one and it rotates. We're never going to force anyone in it and we want it to be organic so it wasn't like a toggle. Let's talk PvP. How are the awards different in that mode than they are in the general game? Are there PvP specific gear that I need to play this mode to get? No gear. The same gear you can get doing any of our activities is the gear you're going to get playing PvP. We do have exclusive vanity that played out through the course of your PvP level, but we don't want to open up a place where people have to play PvP to get the quote “best gun” or whatever. But you'll get rewarded for playing PvP and have cool stuff that other people won't have. How do you get into PvP? Are there multiple ways to access it? There are two main ways. You can go to the base of operations. There's going to be an actual person there you can talk to. Or you go right to the mega-map, and there's a whole PvP tab where you can do it right from the menu. You don't have to go to that person if you don't want to. Can you jump into PvP from the beginning or is it locked behind endgame? It's not the super-duper beginning because of how we do some of the skill unlocks and the progression, but let's just say level five. Super early you can jump it, we just want to make sure players are at a baseline before we let them go. Pretty early. Let's talk about clans. How are you handling clan progression? What are the rewards behind that? Is that cosmetic emblems and things like that? It's absolutely cosmetic. We want to make sure that people who participate in the clan feature can be as flamboyant as they want to really deck out their character and make sure they can be as proud as they want of their organization. There's nothing behind clans. If you were not to participate, you're not missing out on anything beyond being a part of a special community. You're not missing out on weapons or gear or anything like that. Are you creating an infrastructure that allows clans to matchmake and scrimmage with other clans? At launch, that's not integrated. But I can tell the goal is to have clans be part of all the features in the game. Right now, no, there isn't a custom match with clan, but hold tight. Are you locked with 4v4 in PvP or are you leaving the door open to try different populations with different modes? I think the goal is to try as many things as possible. A group of four is the DNA of the Division, so that was the perfect place to start. Everything works well, including the back end. All the engineers made sure we started with 4v4. But we want to make Conflict the destination for PvP, and that means new experiences. That means working on new things. I think speaking to the fact that we're going to have an eight-player raid, that's going to allow us to explore a lot. When you get into a battle when there are two different groups of players and your players, the HUD can get really busy. Is there and customization you can do to strip stuff away that maybe you're comfortable not having on the screen and getting more of a pure experience where you can manage sightlines better? Yeah. We're going to allow PC and console HUD customization. You can customize in a lot of ways and pick and choose what you want. Let's talk about toxicity and cheating. You said you are having multiple anti-cheat systems at work. I don't know that I've been cleared to name the third-party software, but everything we did to combat cheating in the original game is in place, and then we've got that third-party software. It's not just about us responding to people that get reported. It's about us detecting cheaters and proactively taking them out of the system. We can do that now. It's pretty robust. We've been doing a lot of work here [at Red Storm] and at Massive. I'm happy because I hate cheaters. In terms of toxicity, when the bullets start flying the proximity chat will be turned off. Are there any other de-griefing measures? That's where we're starting. I think it's going to be a very fluid thing. We really want to respond to community feedback and handle it with care because the proximity VOIP is a unique part of the DZ. The instinct was Yank that shit! because nothing good came from it. But that wasn't the case. There were so many good moments we heard about from fans, ETF members, and people who were on Reddit. But let's start with this, and then we'll see where we go from there. Of all the changes you have made to dark zone, which are you most proud of and do you feel enhances the experience the most? It's such a two-fold answer. We sat down at the table and said, “We want more people to go in the dark zone.” And at the same time, I said "I want a crazy-ass dark zone." Being able to deliver – I think we're going to do it, I think we're going to get more people in the dark zone because the intro missions are safe, and because they can explore at their own pace, and because it's normalized and we give great signs and feedback and I've got this crazy place where all these awesome people who spend a hundred billion hours playing, they can go there and kick each other's butt. I'm most proud of that, having those two ends of the spectrum and I just envision a day where there is someone who wasn't a darkzoner, and they experience it and realize they kind of like this. And one day they decide to step foot in the occupied dark zone. To me, that's the ultimate success. They've become confident in their ability to play against other players even though they didn't think they were, and then they spend enough time playing to optimize their build and realize that I'm going to try this. Then we've won. I can't wait for that. View the full article
  25. Click here to watch embedded video Players who dive into The Division 2 will notice a variety of changes from the original game – some small, some significant. In addition to moving from New York City to Washington, D.C., there are seasonal changes to adjust to and a host of gameplay tweaks. In today's NGT, we're focusing on the game's dark zones. Pop open The Division 2's map, and you'll immediately notice one of the biggest shifts – rather than a single dark zone in the center of the map, players who are looking for their PvPvE fix have three different zones to choose from, scattered across D.C. Matt Bertz got to explore some of these new zones, and he has a lot to tell Leo and me about his experiences. Check out the episode to learn – and see – a whole lot about the upcoming shooter. Look for The Division 2 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15. View the full article
  26. Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC The Division 2 is quickly barreling toward its March 15 release date, but up to this point Ubisoft and the developers at Massive and Red Storm have still kept many details close to their vests. Some of these dark zones are now receiving the spotlight thanks to a recent event that highlighted how the multiplayer spaces are changing for the sequel. After several hours of hands-on time, we have more than a few answers to our questions. Here is everything you need to know about how the dark zone is evolving in Washington D.C., how the development team hopes to make this element of the game more accessible, and the first look at the new PvP modes. Washington D.C. Has Three Smaller Dark Zones In The Division, Manhattan had one large dark zone parked in the middle of the map that players could access from all sides. Rather than replicate this layout in Washington, D.C., Ubisoft took a new approach by creating three smaller dark zones in various parts of the region. Each dark zone has its own origin story, unique biome, and emphasized gameplay style. Dark Zone East is located at the Capitol Train Station. This is where the military set up during the green-poison outbreak to shuttle supplies around the city. With long sightlines and open spaces, this region is ripe for mid- to long-range combat. Dark Zone South is located down by the waterfront. This is the epicenter of the green-poison outbreak in Washington, D.C. Over the last several months, storms, flooding, and “other terrible things” occurred in this area. Now, the waterfront is choked with overgrown vegetation. This area accentuates close-quarters encounters with its deep interior spaces more reminiscent of the first game’s Underground area and tight streets that provide cover every couple feet. Dark Zone West (pictured above) is found in the residential area of Georgetown. Here, you take the fight to backyards, block streets, and alleys. Georgetown was the first test-bed for a government-created compound called DC62, which was sprayed across the neighborhood in hopes of neutralizing the green poison. Problem was, it also proved deadly. Expect a lot of medium-ranged combat here. Each of these dark zones is much smaller than the large one in the first game, which means there are some density changes. Though you still have pathways should you want to move undetected, you’re going to have to exercise patience because all the landmarks, supply drops, and extraction points are by nature grouped much more closely together. The maximum number of human players in each dark zone is 12. Red Storm hopes this smaller player pool is offset by a greater assortment/number of A.I. threats in the regions. Walking Into The Dark Zone Isn’t As Intimidating In The Sequel Those who played The Division knew that anything could happen in the Dark Zone, the dangerous quarantine area in the middle of the map where the toughest enemies and best loot was found. Even after doing all the hard work of fighting through tough defenses and acquiring a valuable contaminated item for extraction, an opposing squad of agents (or even one of your own compatriots) could decide to put a bullet in your skull during the extraction and take the spoils for themselves. This created a riveting tension that attracted those brave enough to roll the dice, but it also drove many players away who preferred a more controlled experience. Ubisoft isn’t content with the dark zones being play spaces for only a hardcore slice of its player base, which is why they are integrating the dark zones into the story missions. Each of the three dark zones has a narrative-driven introductory mission where you can venture into the zone with some cooperative buddies to get the lay of the land. During these private missions, you can explore the dark corners of the zones to your heart’s content, identifying the landmarks, finding the safe rooms, and locating extraction zones without worrying about being descended up on by rogue agents. Once you complete these missions, the dark zones transition into being the dangerous PvEvP space we’re all accustomed to. But having a private mission in the dark zone alone isn’t enough to tempt players to venture into the danger zone. Ubisoft also made other changes to entice wary gamers into the dark zone, most notably… Weapons Are Normalized In The Dark Zone… You no longer need to walk into a dark zone in fear of being destroyed by a Division lifer who has already min-maxed gear to the best of their ability. Ubisoft wants to make sure the dark zone is an even playing field no matter how many hours you’ve put into the game, which is why it has created a new weapon-normalization formula to balance out damage stats in the dark zone. When you walk into the dark zone, your gear still works like you expect it to. However, all assault guns, sniper rifles, etc. are balanced to output similar damage. This rewards twitch play rather than whoever has spent more time with the game. The weapon normalization does not happen behind a veil of secrecy. In the menu system, you can view how your weapon stats change in the dark zone at the press of a button, allowing players to make adjustments and see what happens. The biggest potential benefit to weapon normalization is the diversity of builds we may see in the dark zone moving forward instead of seeing so many players using the same D3FNC style equipment. …Except For Occupied Dark Zones Hardcore Division players probably scoffed at the idea of weapon normalization in the dark zone – how are they going to peacock their amazing gear sets when all the gear is re-rolled to the same basic level? The good news for these players is many at Red Storm feel the same way as you, which is why the game will have rotating “occupied” dark zones that have no rules. Once you reach the endgame in The Division 2, one of the dark zones becomes occupied. We don’t know what this means narratively just yet (Aliens? Foreign governments? A power grab?), but we do know that it creates a no-holds-barred experience where friendly fire is on at all times, normalization is thrown out the window, and players can experiment with builds to their heart’s content. “We have to respect the players who still play today, who still go in the dark zone today, to really blow off steam and flex and reap the benefits of all the optimization they have done on other people's faces,” says Red Storm creative director Terry Spier. “Give it to them, let them play as hard as they want to play. And take all the gloves off – everything. The A.I. is harder. The PvP is harder. The signs and feedback are harder. That intensity appeals to me so much. I think it's going to be crazier than the dark zone was when we launched the original game.” No players have shade icons in these occupied zones, which means you have no idea what they are up to. Are they friendly? Are they manhunters? You never can tell until they act, adding yet another layer of tension to the experience. Not All Dark Zone Loot Is Contaminated If you ventured into the dark zone in The Division, chances are you worked real hard to recover some contaminated gear and marched it to the extraction zone only to have a rogue group of agents take you out and pilfer your goods. There’s no way around it – getting robbed sucks. Conversely, successfully extracting a rare item feels so goddamn good. Ubisoft wants to preserve this feeling of empowerment, but at the same time wants players to feel rewarded for going into the dark zone whether they can extract some rare gear, which is why not every item you recover in the dark zone is contaminated. Ubisoft hopes this makes the contaminated items you do recover feel more valuable. “Quite frankly, I was disappointed that yellow bag started to mean a little bit less in the original game because players had everything they wanted, nobody really cared, and they were just killing each other for killing's sake,” Spier says. “Making it so when you saw a yellow bag, you say, "Oh, that dude has a contaminated item!" and how we're handling the loot rolls on those contaminated items is different than it was in the original game. We're taking a look at who extracts that item, and then we're going to roll it after they successfully get it out. The likelihood that you get an upgrade is much higher.” The Rogue System Offers More Varied Experiences The rogue system from The Division operated on a simple premise – if you killed a rival player in the dark zone, you were branded a rogue. Rack up enough PvP damage and a manhunt quest would trigger for players in the surrounding area, putting a bounty on your head for them to collect. The Division 2 is making some significant expansions to this system to encourage different types of gameplay experiences. This time around, you don’t need to be interested in PvP play to use the rogue system. You know all those pesky locked chests littered around the dark zone? If you don’t have a key, this time around you can pick the lock and steal the goods. The same goes with the supply drops – you could share with others or hoard it all for yourself. Doing so activates a new rogue state that still opens you up to attacks without consequences for other players. But doing so has another benefit: There are several hackable computer systems littered throughout the darkzone. Successfully hack enough of them and you gain access to a hidden thieves den, where you can collect potentially valuable loot and interact with mission givers who will reward you for recovering particular items. The manhunt system has also been changed to reward emboldened players. When a player is designated as a manhunter, three shade terminals activate around the dark zone. One of these must be activated by the player to clear the manhunt status and claim the reward. The player knows where these locations are, but the bounty hunters only know it’s in a general vicinity. When a player reaches the first terminal, they can choose to clear the bounty or choose to increase their notoriety. “We're essentially letting people ante-up and increase the rewards you can earn,” Spier says. “When you do that, the players chasing you will see you have done that and that one station goes offline and you only have two left. They still don't know which one you are going to, but there is an interesting cat and mouse game that's played by the manhunt folks and the people who are chasing them. Depending on how aggressive the manhunters want to be, they can earn a sizeable award if they increase their notoriety twice if they end up at one station where everyone on the server knows where they are going to be. It's pretty lucrative and it's super intense.” The Division 2 Includes New Toxicity And Anti-Cheating Measures Ubisoft is making some infrastructure changes to make the dark zone more hospitable. The reworked client/server architecture gives the developers the flexibility to handle more things server side, which eliminates the ability for users to modify data without getting caught. Both internal and third-party anti-cheat programs are being used to better identify and ban cheaters as well. On the toxicity front, Ubisoft is making one critical change to voice chat. You can still talk to strangers in the dark zone, but once bullets are exchanged between parties they can no longer talk to each other. This should hopefully cut down on the amount of trash talking you hear on a nightly basis. The Clan System Becomes Reality The oft-requested clan system is finally becoming a reality in The Division 2. Setting up a clan with friends gives you unique leaderboards where you can compare accomplishments as well as a unique progression track. Clans earn XP for completing objectives and activities together, which unlocks special collaborative objectives, special clan perks, and exclusive clan cosmetic items. “We want to make sure that people who participate in the clan feature can be as flamboyant as they want to really deck out their character and make sure they can be as proud as they want of their organization,” Spier says. Clan members can communicate with each other via clan chat, direct messaging, and a bulletin-board system. The clan system lacks the ability to matchmake and scrimmage other clans, but Ubisoft’s goal is to eventually have it integrated with all the features in the game. The HUD Is Customizable When multiple squads and A.I. waves descend on the same position, the user interface overlay can get very cluttered and obscure your view of the action. Thankfully, both PC and console users have access to HUD customization that allows you to reposition (or even remove) certain data points. The Conflict PvP Mode Lets Teams Of Four Do Battle For squads who want to test their mettle against rivals in the purest of environments, Ubisoft has crafted Conflict. This organized PvP suite pits two teams of four against one another in two modes – Skirmish and Domination. As you would expect, Domination follows the familiar flag-capture formula found in many competitive shooters. Skirmish is essentially a team deathmatch mode that culminates in a single-elimination event. Ubisoft plans to have three unique maps available at launch, with plans for more maps and modes in the future. These locations are discrete instances that take place off the mega-map. Like the dark zone, the PvP battles use stat normalization to even the playing field. Skill-based matchmaking should group you with players with similar abilities, and the unique progression track in Conflict includes exclusive vanity awards you can’t get elsewhere. To learn more about The Division 2's new dark zone and PvP spaces, read our interview with Red Storm creative director Terry Spier. View the full article
  27. DiabloFans

    Season 16 Launch

    Season 16 The theme for Season 16 is the Season of Grandeur! For the duration of the season, all Seasonal characters will benefit from the legendary power of the Ring of Royal Grandeur. It should be noted that this buff does not stack with additional Rings of Royal Grandeur, whether they be equipped directly on your character or via the Jewelry slot in Kanai’s Cube. Also, this is the first season in which the seasonal buff will not affect non-seasonal characters. Season 16 begins on Friday, January 18 at 5:00 p.m. PsT in North America, 5:00 p.m. CET in Europe, and 5:00 p.m. KST in Asia. For time conversion, see this site. Haedrig's Gift The starter sets awarded by Haedrig's Gift for Season 16 are listed below. Completing chapter 2, 3, and 4 of the Season Journey will reward you with three Haedrig's Gifts. Each gift contains a few pieces from one of your Class Sets. You may only unlock one Class Set in this manner per season across Hardcore and Non-Hardcore. Barbarian – Immortal King’s Call Crusader – Seeker of the Light Demon Hunter – Natalya’s Vengeance Monk – Uliana’s Stratagem Necromancer – Trag’Oul’s Avatar Witch Doctor – Spirit of Arachyr Wizard – Vyr’s Amazing Arcana Patch 2.6.4 Changes Patch 2.6.4 added many new quality of life changes, and the patch also makes sweeping balance changes to many of the existing class sets! You can view a complete list of changes here. See below for a highlight of the much requested quality of life changes: Five (5) additional Armory tabs have been added for all characters, bringing the total to 10 Legendary Potions are no longer stored in player inventory and can be accessed or changed by right-clicking on the potion icon in the action bar Greater Rift Keystones are now stored in the Materials tab Any existing Greater Rift Keystones in both inventory and stash have been automatically moved Paragon points can no longer be swapped while a Greater Rift is open Players can now be matched into public games where a Greater Rift is open Players who join in this manner will not be able to enter the active Rift, and players inside the Rift will be able to continue with no additional difficulty scaling until the run has been completed Primal Legendaries are now marked by a red beam when they drop Primal Legendaries on the ground are now indicated by a red pentagram icon on the mini-map Primal Legendaries now have a red border and updated background on their icons Level With A Cause #LevelWithACause (#LWAC), a coalition of streamers from both Twitch and YouTube, will be uniting once again for a 6th charity fundraising event during the first three days of the Season 16 in Diablo 3. These streams will be viewable on several Twitch and Youtube channels. Viewers will be directed to donate to Save The Children during these livestreams. #LWAC was founded prior to the start of Season 11 of Diablo 3 and has been a mainstay of the opening weekend of each new season since. The LWAC team has raised over $40,000 to date for deserving charities such as St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Take This, and Save The Children. LWAC hopes to continue to grow and raise even more money for charities in the future. If you are a streamer looking to participate, more info can be found on the LWAC website. In the U.S. and around the world, Save The Children gives children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. When crisis strikes, they are always among the first to respond and the last to leave. They do whatever it takes to save children, transforming their lives and the future we share. During the Level With A Cause event, many participating streams will be featured below! View the full article
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