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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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

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