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  1. Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release: March 31, 2020 Rating: Mature Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 When it launched in 2017, Persona 5 represented the next evolution of the Persona formula. Persona 5 Royal amplifies the stellar turn-based combat and masterful social mechanics, as well as the complex systems surrounding them. But it also adds new characters, story arcs, and a meaty post-game palace that ventures even deeper into the world’s lore to deliver the definitive way to experience Persona 5. The gameplay loop of the original remains intact: You hunt for corrupted individuals, infiltrate dungeons based on their personalities, and battle through tons of enemies – all while going to school and developing relationships with various confidants. Connecting with people from all walks of life, learning their stories, and strengthening your bonds remains rewarding from both a character development standpoint and in the way these relationships give you useful perks. If you haven’t played Persona 5 before, this is the perfect way to start. Click here to watch embedded media Even if you did play the original release, Royal gives you plenty of reasons to return. In addition to restructuring the way you level up your relationship with Akechi, leading to more meaningful interactions with this important character, Royal adds Kasumi and Maruki, two all-new confidants. While I like the stories of both characters, I especially love the bonuses they give along the way: Kasumi increases your HP and gives you an awesome dodge ability for when a shadow is about to ambush you, while Maruki raises Joker’s maximum SP, which comes in handy during lengthy palace infiltrations. Kasumi and Maruki offer humorous and heartfelt interactions, and while Kasumi eventually joins your party as a full-fledged Phantom Thief, that doesn’t happen until the new post-game palace. While I’m disappointed she isn’t in your party for the vast majority of the game, her constant presence in the story means you’re already familiar with her when the time comes. That new palace and its surrounding arc serve up an interesting look at the weird way the world works following the events of the original conclusion, and offers puzzles, dungeon elements, and is unique from the other palaces in the game. I was initially worried that the addition of a new final boss battle would take away from what made the original finale special, but without spoiling it, this new end boss delivers a climactic and cinematic endcap to your journey as the Phantom Thieves. Click image thumbnails to view larger version In the 100 hours leading up to that post-game content, I loved revisiting the original palaces with their minor additions. Joker now has access to a grappling hook, which lets him swing to new points in palaces to find hidden treasure chests or the new collectible Will Seeds. Each palace’s three Will Seeds are often hidden behind grappling sequences, puzzles, or difficult battles, but if you collect all three and bring the resulting item to a new character Jose in Mementos, you earn valuable accessories to equip to your characters. While they all give you powerful perks or moves, my favorite was one that buffed an ally’s next magic attack to an extreme degree; I can’t tell you how many times that move helped me turn the tide of battle. As you progress through the story, you also accumulate Showtime moves, team-up attacks that play out through funny, over-the-top cutscenes that also have the capacity to get you out of hot water if you're in trouble in a palace. Revisiting the memorable battles against palace rulers is made even more fun as they now have additional forms that play off the themes of their sins. Since the palaces are based on the cognitions of the palace rulers, I loved seeing how they incorporated the bosses’ transgressions and twisted views in unique ways. While each of these forms adds something exciting or compelling to the way the battles play out, one boss battle operates on a time limit, and Royal’s version adds additional dialogue and a new form without adding time to the clock, leading to frustration. Regardless of that one misfire, thanks to these additions, the palace boss battles are overall better than those in the original game. With so many additions and improvements, Persona 5 Royal is an improved version of what was already one of the best RPGs of the last decade. Whether you’ve been itching to enjoy the Phantom Thieves’ journey again or looking to experience it for the first time, Royal wears its crown well. Score: 9.25 Summary: Whether you're looking to replay Persona 5 or experience the Phantom Thieves' adventure for the first time, Royal is your best bet. Concept: Get the Phantom Thieves back together for this director’s cut of Persona 5, which includes new characters, gameplay mechanics, and areas Graphics: The visuals haven’t changed from the initial release, but even three years later, Persona 5 still oozes style and visual flair Sound: One of the best soundtracks of the generation is supplemented by new tracks that diversify and strengthen the musical offerings. The new voice actors slide seamlessly into place with the already excellent cast from the original game Playability: With complex social systems and superb turn-based combat already present, Royal adds gameplay enhancements great and small Entertainment: While new characters and a new post-game palace are the biggest selling points, the tweaks and improvements make this the best way to experience one of the best RPGs in recent memory Replay: Moderately high Click to Purchase View the full article
  2. The educational game scene likely deserves some of the criticism that gets leveled its way. Taking a bunch of facts and jamming them into a tired trivia or card game format isn’t good game design, and whether your potential players are kids or adults, they’re sure to see through the ruse. Fortunately, recent years have seen a surge of excellent releases that treat educational elements like any other potential theme, and build a great design around that concept. If you’re a teacher or parent, the games below are ideal for young people who learn best with supplementary game experiences. But in choosing the titles to select for this article, I’ve also tried hard to only include games that I’d happily recommend to any adult gaming group as well – stuff that is fun enough to come out on any game night. I’ve also steered away from the wealth of clever releases that teach in an abstract way about strategic thinking, logic, or critical thinking; while those skills are eminently valuable to anyone, the focus here is on games with discrete subject themes like math or history. Editor's Note: This article originally ran on March 23, 2018. We're resurfacing the article today for families who may be looking for additional opportunities and activities for kids currently sheltering in place at home. Photosynthesis Publisher: Blue Orange Games Recommended age: 8+ Applicable subjects: Ecology, Life Science, Environmentalism Selected as one of our best tabletop games of 2017, Photosynthesis is a phenomenal game about growing a forest. Two to four players each take on the role of a specific type of tree, like blue spruce or oak. Small trees can grow into towering behemoths that cast shadows across the rest of the forest. The unique hook is the ever-moving sun, represented by a game piece that rotates around the board to communicate the passing seasons, demanding that you consider how shade is cast from multiple perspectives over time. The growing table tableau is beautiful, filled with multi-colored cardboard trees of various sizes, each competing for light and life. Players learn the principles about how plants use light to grow, the ways trees compete for placement in a crowded canopy, and showcases how a tree’s completed life cycle makes way for new life. The game also offers remarkably challenging tactical dilemmas, as tree placement must be considered from multiple perspectives simultaneously. Timeline Publisher: Asmodee Recommended age: 10+ Applicable subjects: History, Cultural Studies Proving that you probably know less than you think about the order that important historical moments happened, the aptly named Timeline challenges players to put major benchmarks in order. Every player has a hand of cards with specific instances to consider. It’s easy enough to know whether the domestication of sheep happened before the first 45 rpm record. But how about the invention of the pull-tab can or the typewriter? Timeline is expandable and combinable across several subject areas, including Music & Cinema, American History, Americana, Events, and Inventions. It makes for a great family game, as adults and kids alike encounter subjects they know more or less about; inevitably, played cards elicit longer conversations about the historical moment in question, and why they were important. Played with adult friends, I think you’ll be surprised how frequently you’ll be off the mark. As a special note, while players under age 10 will have trouble having the necessary historical context to succeed, the simple core game mechanic is easy to grasp for a younger player, especially with help from an adult. In addition to standard card packs for Timeline (which easily supports anywhere from two to eight players), you can also expand into the more fully-featured Timeline Challenge board game, or branch off into the similar Cardline series of games, which focuses on individual topics like animals, geography, and dinosaurs, and challenges players to compare and contrast them side by side. Cytosis: A Cell Biology Game Publisher: Genius Games Recommended age: 10+ Applicable subjects: Biology, Physiology, Health Genius Games is built around educational games (and books) that tackle a variety of subjects, and teachers and parents would be well advised to check out the company’s full catalog. But I’m especially impressed with Cytosis, a game all about living cells for two to five players. Immaculately presented and modeled scientific concepts like cell detoxification and the role of the mitochondria are all communicated seamlessly through the natural flow of the game. But strip away the science jargon, and Cytosis is a remarkably fun worker placement game. By placing tokens on various organelles on a board that represents a cell, different tasks may be completed like building enzymes and hormones, with the end goal of completing particular objectives and scoring health points to win the game. I’ve rarely encountered a game that so aptly communicates complex topics through the DNA (no pun intended) of the game’s mechanics and structure. Cytosis also includes relevant details about the actual science behind the game and its presentation. Cytosis is a surprising, and at times highly competitive, experience that stands quite strong even before considering what might be learned along the way. Ticket To Ride Publisher: Days of Wonder Recommended age: 8+ Applicable subjects: Geography Two to five players can enjoy any one of the many variations of this classic and widely popular board game. In the original version, players are competing to claim various train routes across North America. Different routes demand a designated number of cards to connect two cities. Ticket to Ride is widely cited as one of the best “gateway games” into more involved thematic board games, and for good reason; its elegant rules are straightforward and quick-to-learn, but have the depth and replayability to keep players coming back. And that’s one big reason why Ticket to Ride’s teaching of fundamental world geography is so great. By its very nature, players must carefully examine individual cities, and learn not only their locations, but also which cities they sit in close proximity. While the core game tackles North America, versions of the game exist for India, Europe, Africa, and several other locations. If the core concept is a hit with your gaming group, family, or classroom, there are tons of ways to expand the fun and learning potential. Regardless of version, Ticket to Ride supports 2-5 players. Bananagrams Publisher: Bananagrams Recommended age: 7+ Applicable subjects: Spelling, Vocabulary, English, Foreign Language (with relevant version) Of all the games on this list, this is probably the one you’ve likely already seen once or twice before. Bananagrams is a popular choice in the family game sphere, and it’s that way for a reason. The simple rules and focus on speed is attractive to both children and adults, and the game is ideal for developing vocabulary, spelling skills, and understanding the similarities between different words. Players receive a set of tiles, with which they must create a freeform crossword-like grid of real words. As new tiles come into play, players are forced to rearrange their grid to accommodate the new letters. The focus is on making your grid of words as quickly as possible. Bananagrams is simpler to play and speedier to complete than the similarly structured Scrabble, and is likely a better choice for word play with kids than that classic (but don’t get me wrong, Scrabble is great fun). And while the version you’ve likely seen helps build language skills in English, the game is also available in French, German, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, and Spanish options, and can be enjoyed by one to as many as eight players. Concept Publisher: Repos Production Recommended age: 10+ Applicable subjects: Psychology, Linguistics This is a fantastic party game for friends and family who might enjoy examining language and ideas from new perspectives. My experience with Concept is that it often starts with a few people at a get-together and everyone following turn order, but rapidly gathers other people at the party, until you have a crowd, and everyone is taking turns willy-nilly. With that said, it can also be enjoyed by smaller groups in equal measure as a more structured experience. As you’ll see if you decide to play, there’s no real player limit here, other than how many people can fit around the table and see the board. A large board depicts a variety of concepts core to how we organize our thoughts. These schema are represented as images, not words, so it’s up to the players to decide exactly how they interpret each picture. One or two players play tokens onto chosen spaces that represent a concept. For instance, a simple one might be an animal that is also small, yellow, black, and flies – pretty soon, the other players are able to guess that you might be talking about a bee. But what images might you use for a concept like “Tina Turner,” or “Hungry like the Wolf?” I love the way this game reveals the way we all understand language and communication, as well as the psychology behind shared understanding of core ideas once written and spoken language has been stripped away. A special note about the age range on this one: The game suggests players of 10 years and older, but I suspect that has more to do with the clues on the cards than anything else. With easy tweaking, you can alter the concepts that players are presenting and transform them into ideas that younger children can grasp; I had a blast playing with a six-year old nephew, and also got some surprising insight into how he organizes his thoughts. Dice Stars Publisher: WizKids Recommended age: 10+ Applicable subjects: Math I didn’t want to finish out our list without a couple of fun math games. Lots of great games teach logical thinking, pattern recognition, and there are even building games that show off geometric and engineering principles. However, for a straightforward numbers-based arithmetic game that is also a ton of fun, I’ll first point you toward Dice Stars. This quick-playing abstract dice game is loosely themed around falling stars, but it’s really about numbers, sets, addition, and multiplication. Players roll dice into a shared pool, and then select specific dice to mark onto an included scoring grid sheet (the game includes a pad with a bunch of sheets, and more are printable online). Same numbered or colored dice in the same row or column can be added together, but collect enough star results and you’ll eventually score a multiplication of the row. Dice Stars has some simple arithmetic to complete, but its more significant mathematical depth comes through thinking ahead and understanding the probabilities of different die results, and then making smart choices about what rows and columns to pursue on your scoring sheet, pushing your luck as you pursue different matched sets. Up to four players can hop in and enjoy Dice Stars in a single game, but there’s also a fun solitaire mode for solo players. Prime Climb Publisher: Math For Love Recommended age: 10+ Applicable subjects: Math This highly replayable and enjoyable competitive game was created by a pair of mathematicians to help explore arithmetic from multiple perspectives. On the surface, Prime Climb shares some traits in common with children’s classics like Chutes & Ladders, in that it’s all about following a distinct track to a clearly defined goal space. However, this math-oriented strategy game offers a lot more to think about, and is a heck of a lot more fun for anyone old enough to grasp the fundamentals. Prime Climb asks that two to four players attempt to advance their pawns to the space labeled 101 (at the center of the spiral board and the end of the track). To do so, players roll dice, and use the rolled dice as variables in an arithmetic formula using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For instance, while on space 12, you might roll a 2 and a 6. With those numbers, you could choose one of several equations, but one option is to subtract 2 from 12 to get to 10, and then multiply by 6 to reach 60 – and then move your pawn to space 60. Players also get a special bonus card to help them out when they land on an all red space, which signifies a prime number greater than 10. The color coding on the board spaces offers a fascinating way to understand math, as each colored space indicates tells you how it will multiply with any other space. For instance, 3 (a green space) multiplied by 10 (an orange and blue space) has a product of 30 (a green, orange, and blue space). The colored spaces do two important things for the game. First, the bright primary colors look great as a board display against a stark black background. But funcationally, it also means that even young players who don’t know multiplication and division quite yet can begin to grasp the concepts through color; simply match the colors together to multiply. The same color coding works for division. It’s also easy to adapt the game to even younger players by limiting the available equations to only addition and subtraction. Cater your choice of when to start playing with kids to their current understanding of numbers and math. The extra element of the cards and their special powers lends Prime Climb some layers of strategic fun, which lends the game some more depth. Game sessions last around half an hour. For a game that is a relatively pure experience of math equations, I think you’ll be surprised how much fun it can be for players of all ages. You’ll note that many of the games I’ve included above are meant for older children and adults. If your game player is even younger, keep an eye on Top of the Table later this year, as I’m currently compiling a selection of great board and card games to share with very young children, all of which introduce them to the fun and camaraderie of tabletop games. Do you have any favorite educational games that I didn't include? Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments below. If none of the above games strike your interest, I’d encourage you to check out our backlog of recommendations by exploring the Top">http://www.gameinformer.com/p/topofthetable.aspx">Top of the Table hub, including the recent Best Tabletop Games of the Years lists from 2016&gt">http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2016/12/23/the-top-table…; and 2017&gt">http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2017/12/29/the-top-table…;. And if you’re a teacher, parent, or just someone who loves educational themes in your board games, and you didn’t find what you’re looking for here, I hope you’ll reach out using email or Twitter via the contacts below; I’d be happy to suggest some additional options that might target the particular educational goals you’re shooting for. View the full article
  3. Nobody needs another place to dwell on the challenges facing the world in the face of a health epidemic, so I’ll skip right past the obvious. It’s enough to acknowledge that, while everyone reading this is likely united in a shared love of games, we also share a much broader connection right now, being forced to confront a scary situation. As that crisis unfolds around us, gaming and online play has risen up to be a much more important part of life for a lot of people, many of whom might be new to the hobby. As we adjust to that reality, it’s a great time to find and embrace the best aspects of social gaming. Why now? If you’ve been watching the numbers, gaming is booming at the moment – and for obvious reasons. Much of the country (and the wider world) is stuck inside right now. Steam is posting absurd numbers of concurrent users. Anecdotally, I’ve heard from more friends and family returning to gaming in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years. I suspect you may have encountered similar conversations. And for those of us who are more frequent gamers, we all have a lot more opportunities to engage in our favorite pastime – it’s not like we’re going out to dinner or a baseball game. As these increased opportunities for gaming are upon us, there’s no doubt that other aspects of our lives have shifted. Some of us are trapped in literal solitude, living alone, and without a chance for face-to-face interaction. Others are confronting the challenge of houses too small for all the friends, partners, or kids that must all be inside at the same time – a sure recipe for going stir-crazy. In short, we could all use a good break when opportunities for social gaming arise. So, what does it look like to try and make that experience a bit better for everybody? Every game community is going to be different, and every individual has different needs. But we should all recognize that it’s pretty normal right now to feel down or anxious, and that the escape of a fun game night might be an important relief from stress and worry. The last thing any of us need is having to deal with jerks online. While there’s no concrete path to improving everyone’s online gaming experience in one fell swoop, there are certainly some ideas we can think about. If you’re a dedicated player of a particular game, it’s an ideal time to reach out to the people you play with and explore opportunities that bring you together. Message your clan and try to pull together a dedicated evening where the whole clan is welcome to join and play together. Haven’t been raiding for a while? Throw together a group and tackle that old dungeon, even if you beat it three months ago. Do you miss playing D&D with friends? Think about a remote session. Do you like competitive shooters? Team up with some buddies you haven’t spoken with for a few months, and run a few matches in that one game you all own. You’re not the only person right now who is feeling weird about the current situation and being stuck in your house. We also all have that friend who bought a PS4 or Xbox One two years ago, and then stopped logging in. Consider reaching out to see if they want to play something together. Barring that, simply invite them to join you in party chat while you play something yourself, and ask them how things are going while you complete your third playthrough of God of War. And while I wish it could go without saying, don’t be an ass online. It’s one thing to vent a bit in a competitive match, but nobody right now needs the drama of a teammate screaming at them about a missed shot, or an opponent sending gloating messages after a win. Think for a second about the language you’re using in a match – and be respectful of all ethnicities, genders, and people in general. In short, be good to each other, especially in the current circumstances. Finally, embrace the communities that already exist around the games we love. Whether it’s in subreddits, official forums, gaming sites, Discord channels, or anything else – we have a ton of ways these days to engage with the hobby and the people who love gaming, and now is an awesome time to enjoy that. Participate in conversations. Share your thoughts. And listen to what others have to say. The best gaming communities emerge from divergent ideas, where everybody has a chance to be heard. Gaming isn’t a responsibility; it’s a thing most of us do for entertainment. Everyone is entitled to approach their game time in the way they like. But we’re also living through an unprecedented moment in our lifetimes, in which we are being forced to come together, largely by living apart. It’s undoubtedly strange, but if gaming has the potential to ease just a little of the burden and stress for someone else, it feels like a good time to be part of helping with that. Be well, and be good to each other. And lastly, if you’re reading this, and you’re a person who really is struggling to confront the feelings that the last few weeks have brought up, and a night of gaming online just isn’t going to do it, there are places to turn to for help. The Disaster Distress Helpline exists for just that purpose. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also always there. Or if you’re not feeling safe at home, there’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Reach out and get the help you need. View the full article
  4. Click here to watch embedded media Just like some of the other great developers under the Sony umbrella, Insomniac has turned into a powerhouse studio that has evolved throughout its 26 years of existence. But that evolution wouldn't have been possible without the help of a furry lombax and his mechanical mate. Join Andrew Reiner, Joe Juba, and me as we take you back to Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal and discuss why a certain executive editor has stated that Insomniac's series can go toe-to-toe with a Nintendo giant. You'll also want to stick around until the end of the episode, where we Roulette our way into the zany antics of Britain's greatest super-spy. This week's show had to be prerecorded, but we'll be back next week for more. If you're wanting some live content, though, be sure to check out our community stream where we play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with you! If you can't get enough of our live shows, remember to subscribe on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, Twitter, and Facebook to get notified when we go live each week! Thanks and enjoy the show! View the full article
  5. Resident Evil has traditionally been a survival-horror franchise with a focus on moody isolation, which runs counter to the idea of online multiplayer modes. However, Resident Evil 3 includes an online asymmetrical 4v1 mode called Resistance that actually does a stellar job capturing the horror inherent in the series. In Resistance, a group of four survivors works together to escape the sadistic tests set up by the Machiavellian Umbrella corporation. Meanwhile, a single player-controlled mastermind works from the shadows to keep you in line and destroy your morale. It's more fun than I suspected and might be worth your time. Each match is split into three stages where survivors work to complete various goals. In the first stage, you scour the environments for keys to unlock the next area. In the next stage, you hack a series of computers while avoiding monsters. And in the final stage, you race across the map and work to destroy a number of experimental equipment. As players take down roaming zombies and other enemies they earn Umbrella cash that can be used to buy new weapons, herbs, and other tools at the beginning of each round. For my first match, I play as the absurdly named Martin Sandwich. All of Resistance’s survivors have their own unique skills, and Martin is an engineering genius who can disable traps around the battlefield and use his flash baton to stun enemies. Using one of Martin’s skills, I ping the environment, which highlights objects on the map for the rest of my team. However, when I wander too far from the group I become an easy meal. It’s hard to play Resistance as a lone wolf, and teams of survivors need to stick together to survive. Martin is a good example of a support character, but if you want to be on the front lines, you can play as someone like Samuel Jordan. This young bruiser used to train as a boxer, which makes him an ideal shield for the rest of the team. I love Sam’s dash punch, which allows him to quickly close in on zombies. Sam is also skilled in the use of melee weapons, such as bats and sledgehammers, which easily tear through groups of undead monsters. Click image thumbnails to view larger version Playing as a survivor is only half of the Resistance experience, and I probably had the most fun when I jumped into the shoes of a mastermind. The mastermind works behind the scenes laying traps and working to prevent the survivors from escaping before time runs out. Masterminds start with a complete view of the map and can see the location of all the survivors' goals. They are also dealt a hand of random cards, which can be used to summon various monsters or lay trip mines. Masterminds can also get their hands dirty by directly controlling anything they spawn, but I felt that I was just as effective when I let my spawn run wild. Iconic villains such as Annette Birkin and Ozwell Spencer return for the role of mastermind. During my turn at the controls, I play as Alex Wesker and I laughed with demented glee as I unleashed a small army of zombie dogs on a group of unwitting survivors. Each mastermind has their own ultimate attack, which allows them to do things like unleash Tyrants onto the battlefield or set up deadly laser fields that kill anyone they touch. Alex’s ultimate is a monstrous plant, which looks a bit like Plant 42 from the original Resident Evil. This plant’s vines whip out in all directions and it devours two survivors before they finally subdue my creature. Over the years, Capcom has experimented with a lot of different multiplayer modes within the Resident Evil universe, but they have rarely left a lasting impact. However, I started having fun with Residence the moment I picked up the controller. Coordinating with a group of survivors is a lot of fun and manages to remain tense and scary. Meanwhile, the mastermind offers a more strategic level of play that we haven’t seen in a Resident Evil game before, but one that I’m actually interested in exploring more when Resident Evil 3 launches. We’ll have to wait for the final release to see if Resistance has staying power, but this is the most promising new mode we’ve seen from the series in a long time. Stay tuned for our upcoming review. View the full article
  6. Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Splash Damage Release: April 28, 2020 Platform: Xbox One, PC Gears Tactics was announced at E3 2018 alongside Gears 5 and the Funko-branded Gears Pop! It almost seemed like a joke to pull the Gears franchise in so many disparate directions, but the more we’ve seen of Gears Tactics, the less we’re laughing. Not only is Microsoft taking this entry into tactical strategy very seriously, Gears Tactics looks like it could be something special. Gears Tactics draws the obvious comparisons to other turn-based strategy games, such as XCOM. Co-developed by The Coalition and Splash Damage, this fast-paced, turn-based strategy game lets players plan coordinated strikes for a whole team of warriors as they try to find the best line of attack without sacrificing too much cover. “When we were thinking about how to expand the Gears of War universe, we locked in on this idea of a tactics game, because we have some common areas in the fact that Gears has squads and cover is important," says design director Tyler Bielman. “But it was important that we do our version of a tactics game, so we made a lot of effort to pace up the game. You have as much time as you want on your turn to figure out your strategies and where you want to go, but everything else is faster. We wanted it to feel a lot more intense than traditional tactics games.” During an extended demo, we got a taste for Gear Tactics’ faster pace and watched a handful of soldiers face off against a squad of Locust grunts. Unlike many strategy games, the heroes in Gears Tactics don’t move along a grid. Instead, players are free to move around the battlefield however they like. This opens up new strategies as players now have a greater level of flexibility to create flanking routes around their enemies. At the same time, it’s still very important to grab cover and find lines of sight that give your heroes a higher percent chance to hit their targets. Click image thumbnails to view larger version Another big change to combat is how Gears Tactics approaches its action system. Traditionally, strategy games allow players to move each hero once per turn before attacking. Gears Tactics, on the other hand, gives each hero three action points to use each turn, and players can choose to mix and match their movements or attacks however they like. Meaning, a hero left on the outskirts of a combat zone can use all three action points to make a mad dash across the battlefield. Alternatively, a character who is well positioned could use all three actions to attack. The heavy gunner class actually has an ability that makes each successive attack more deadly, as long as they don’t move between shots. Another neat trick is placing a character with three actions into overwatch, so when enemies move into their field of view, your soldier attacks up to three times. The final piece to Gears Tactics strategy puzzle is the execution system. After dishing out a set amount of damage to an enemy, it might fall into an execution state. Enemies in an execution state crawl slowly along the ground and pose little threat, but they can be revived by their companions. On the other hand, if your heroes get within melee range of these downed foes, they can perform an execution. These brutal melee attacks not only remove those enemies from the board completely, but they also give the rest of your companions an additional action point to use during that turn. Players who find good ways to push deeper into the battlefield may be able to chain executions together to keep their turn rolling for a long time. “To counter all that freedom, we serve up a lot of enemies,” Bielman explains. “Our average enemy per encounter count is pretty high. You are facing a lot of different types of enemies, some that create fronts and are defensive, some that will snipe you from afar, and some that will actually rush you and try to push you out of cover. The whole combination makes the game feel like Gears of War, just kind of boiled down to its essence. It's about flanking and it's about cover and it's about combinations of tactical moves.” Click here to watch embedded media Players have five different classes to choose from and each class has over 30 different skills to learn as they level up over the course of the game. Gears Tactics doesn’t feature any top-level base building mechanics similar to XCOM, but you are rewarded with better equipment after each level, and additional gear is scattered throughout the levels. All of these weapons can be modded, and players can also visually customize each piece of gear with a variety of paints and visual patterns. The story for Gears Tactics is set 12 years before the first Gears of War and follows defiant COG soldier Gabe Diaz, who just happens to be the father of Kait Diaz, featured in Gears 4 and 5. Gabe's squad is ultimately tasked with assassinating a Locus scientist named Ukkon. However, Ukkon isn’t some pencil pusher, he’s an elite member of the Locust Council and one of the geneticists responsible for breeding some of the nastiest monsters in the entire Horde. “He's the monster that makes monsters,” Bielman says. “In Gears games, we have these big bosses. We've got Brumaks and we’ve got Corpsers. If you’ve never seen a Brumak, it's basically a big dinosaur with rocket launchers strapped to it. You'd think, 'Wow, who would actually do that? Who would put rocket launchers on a dinosaur?’ That's Ukkon. So Gabe’s team needs to find him and shut him down before he improves the Locust army any further.” Based on everything we’ve seen, Gears Tactics looks like it should be a fun ride for Gears of War diehards. However, strategy fans who have never played a Gears game before might also want to give this a try. Despite the recent coronavirus outbreak, Gears Tactics is still set to launch on April 28 for PCs and will be available from day one for Xbox Game Pass owners (you still have to play on PC). An Xbox version is in the works and will release at a later date. View the full article
  7. Click to watch embedded media These days, everyone needs someone to play games with, from a safe distance of course. We at Game Informer are happy to oblige and are hosting another gaming night with the community. This Friday, join us as we squad up with community members in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and play fan-requested private matches. So how do you get in? When you boot up Modern Warfare, go to the multiplayer menu and open up the social tab. From there, click the add friends button and input the following Activision account exactly as follows: Big al 952. I will be on all day accepting Activision friend requests so be sure to send them in early. If you run into any trouble, consult this handy guide Activision put together to add friends. Before the stream starts, I will open the lobby and you can join my current session. As with our Smash Bros. stream, I will be cycling people out after a certain amount of time and people can join my lobby on a first come, first served basis. I'll also have everyone muted on stream, but feel free to squad up with your friendly team members and plot my demise. We'll be going live on March 27 at 4 p.m. CT, so be sure to come and hang out with us in the chat. If you can't get enough of our live shows, remember to subscribe on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, Twitter, and Facebook to get notified when we go live each week! Thanks and enjoy the show! View the full article
  8. Click to watch embedded media On this week's episode of The Game Informer Show, I am joined by Ben Reeves, Alex Stadnik, and Leo Vader to chat about recent VR games Half-LIfe: Alyx and The Room VR: A Dark Matter. The big talker for the show, however, is discussing the battle between PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and what we think all the hardware stats really mean. We finish with the always-entertaining and enlightening community emails. We do this week's show from our homes as we hunker down in quarantine, so please forgive us for any audio or video hiccups as we deliver content outside the studio. Thanks for listening! Please make sure to leave feedback below, share the episode if you enjoyed it, and follow me @therealandymc to let me know what you think. You can watch the video above, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, listen on SoundCloud, stream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show. 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. Left 4 Dead's Future: 6:03 Half-Life: Alyx Review Discussion: 7:14 The Room VR: A Dark Matter: 24:58 PS5 Vs. Series X: 37:47 Community Emails: 59:03 View the full article
  9. Borderlands 3 is a loot shooter that plenty of us at Game Informer seemed to like! Today a new piece of DLC is launching focused on an engagement party, a new planet, and chilling new enemies. We're streaming it today, and it will be fun! We'll be going live at 3:30 PM CT, so be sure to come hang out in the chat and get your questions answered. If you can't get enough of our live shows, remember to subscribe on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, Twitter, and Facebook to get notified when we go live each week! Thanks and enjoy the show! View the full article
  10. Click here to watch embedded media Nintendo released a surprise Nintendo Direct presentation offering a shotgun blast of details for various Switch games. Apart from 2K's Switch collections for Borderlands, XCOM 2, and BioShock, and a release date for the Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition (May 29), the presentation also dropped a variety of news on a bevy of titles. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate revealed that the first character in the newly announced Fighters Pass Vol. 2 is from ARMS, and will be released and announced in June. Unfortunately, there was no other information on this other than to stay tuned. Speaking of Arms, a game demo is running from March 26 to April 6 for paid Switch online members. A free Animal Crossing: New Horizons Bunny Day event runs from April 1-12, with other events like Earth Day coming later. Pokémon Sword & Shield expansion pass details. Isle of Armor comes out at the end of June, with more info about The Crown Tundra to follow. If you don't want to wait for those titles, Nintendo has announced Switch games and content available now: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order expansion pass content featuring the Fantastic Four, Shinsekai: Into the Depths, Good Job!, A Ring Fit Adventure update featuring a rhythm mode with music from Splatoon 2, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey, Star Wars: Jedi Knight Academy, Panzer Dragoon: Remake, and the Bravely Default II demo. And further out in the future Switch owners can look forward to games including: Saints Row: IV – Re:Elected (March 27) Star Wars Episode I: Racer (coming soon) The Elder Scrolls: Blades (spring) Minecraft Dungeons (spring) Vigor (closed beta)(April 9) Trials of Mana (April 24) Ninjala (May 27) Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition (May 29) Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus (May) Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (June 5) Mr. Driller: DrillLand (June 25) The Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel III (June 30) Catherine: Full Body (July 7) Fuser (fall) King's Bounty II (later this year) Bravely Default II (later this year) Burnout Paradise Remastered (later this year) Finally, despite the bevy of great news today, Nintendo sensitively reminds us that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these release dates may change. [Source: Nintendo] View the full article
  11. Back in January, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai announced a second Fighters Pass, which will bring six more downloadable fighters to the biggest crossover battlefield in gaming. While we still don't know the details of who the first character of Fighters Pass Vol. 2 will be, we do know that the character will hail from Arms, the 2017 fighting game from Nintendo. Arms features 15 characters, each of which has a distinct style and arsenal of moves. While it would make sense for Spring Man or Ribbon Girl to appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate thanks to their mascot statuses for the game, Twintelle garnered quite the fan base when the title launched. Also working against the idea of Spring Man as a playable character is the fact that he's currently an Assist Trophy. Whichever character the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate development team chose from the Arms roster will be both announced and released in June. For more on Arms, check out our review. View the full article
  12. Click to watch embedded media During today's Nintendo Direct Mini, Square Enix and Nintendo showed off a lengthy trailer for Bravely Default II (which you can see above). The trailer details the journey ahead, which begins with a character named Seth washing ashore on the continent of Excillant, which is occupied by five kingdoms. Seth, a sailor, is one of the new Heroes of Light, and will be joined by princess Gloria, traveling scholar Elvis, and mercenary Adelle. The trailer walks through the Brave and Default combat powers, job system, and abilities. Nintendo announced a demo for Bravely Default II is now available. No exact release date for the full game was given, but it is confirmed for a 2020 release. View the full article
  13. Nintendo has announced the original Xenoblade Chronicles, which debuted on Wii in North America in 2012, is coming to Switch. This game serves as the debut of Shulk, who has continued on to appear in the two most recent Super Smash Bros. titles. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition brings enhanced controls and visuals, as well as a brand new epilogue story called Future Connected for fans to play through. This version also brings easy-to-read and easy-to-use menu screens and HUDs, and some of the music tracks have been remixed. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition launches for Switch on May 29. On the same day, you can also pick up the Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Works Set, a 250-page artbook, which you can see below. View the full article
  14. Zipper T. Bunny is heading to your island on April 1 to hide eggs as a way of celebrating Bunny Day. You'll need to hunt for the eggs, and either dig them up of fish for them. Your efforts reward you with the chance to craft limited-time items, such as a festive table, clothing, and more. The event runs from April 1 to 12 and is free to all players. Later in April, Nintendo is ushering in another free update with Earth Day festivities. Animal Crossing: New Horizons received a glowing 9 out of 10 review from Game Informer's Jeff Cork, who called it "an all-inclusive package that takes the best of what’s come before and adds meaningful upgrades for returning visitors and curious newcomers alike." View the full article
  15. During today's unexpected Nintendo Direct Mini, 2K Games announced collections for Borderlands, BioShock, and XCOM 2 are all coming to Switch on May 29. The Borderlands Legendary Collection consists of Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Borderlands 3 is not included or on Switch yet. BioShock: The Collection, which was aleady revealed, contains BioShock Remastered, BioShock 2 Remastered, and BioShock: The Complete Edition. Finally, the XCOM 2 Collection holds XCOM 2, the War of the Chosen Expansion, and four DLC Packs. Here's hoping the pandemic is over by the end of May, but if not, 2K Games is delivering hundreds of hours of great entertainment to make our days a little easier. View the full article

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