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GameInformer

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  1. Michigan State University’s Games for Entertainment has released an educational game that will give fans of Oregon Trail pangs of nostalgia and fans of the far more recent Where the Water Tastes Like Wine something new to chew on in the same vein. Titled When Rivers Were Trails, the free edutainment game was released yesterday and tells the story about a displaced Anishinaabeg the late 19th century traveling from Minnesota to California. It's not the most expensive video game ever made by any means, but it tells a compelling story that you might find yourself engaging with. The game was developed in conjunction with a number of resources on Native American history, such as the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. You can find a download of When Rivers Were Trails here. View the full article
  2. Bioware has put out their 90-day plan for Anthem, showing where they hope and expect to take the loot-shooter game as a service in the next three months now that it's finally released. The studio outlines everything from fixes and optimizations to new quests and items for you to grab. In a blog aptly titled "Our Live Service Begins," Anthem head of live service Chad Robertson walks players through what they can expect from the near future of Bioware's newest game. "I look at today from two perspectives," Robertson writes. "As a gamer, I’m excited by what we’ve created with Anthem and the promise it carries for a long future behind the game’s lush world, immersive lore, rich characters, and core gameplay. As a developer, I know we’ve worked hard to strike a balance of engaging BioWare story combined with fun action-gameplay and multi-player progression; I also know how much more we want to bring to the game." Roberston emphasizes that launch day is just the beginning for the game and they plan to keep plugging away at it to realize their vision for the game over time. You can check out their 90-day roadmap right here. While Anthem is available today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, we're still working on the review for the title. You can read about why right here. View the full article
  3. Dead or Alive 6 was supposed to be out by now, but a delay into March means fans aren't playing through the newest Team Ninja fighting game when they initially expected to. Fret not, because there is a salve for those worries in the form of the Dead or Alive 6 Deluxe demo. You'll need a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscription, but you can download a demo now that will expire in two days on February 24. The demo gives you 24 characters to play around with and gives you a taste of the full game's story mode ahead of its official release. The biggest draw for most players will be the ranked matches you can participate in, though Koei Tecmo warns that these online features will not be as boisterous as they will in the full game. You can also just go to the lab in any of the game's various training modes for now, too. Dead or Alive 6 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 1. At the moment, only Xbox One X has been announced to support native 4K and HDR, though it is likely PC will at least support 4K. View the full article
  4. Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission, a government-connected but independent regulatory agency, signaled intentions to look at the controversy of loot boxes within the gaming space. The Entertainment Software Association, or ESA, immediately fired back that such a move was unnecessary, and the FTC was fairly quiet about it in the ensuing months. Now it seems they're back on the trail, as the agency has indicated that they will hold a public workshop on the topic later this year. The FTC has been conducting their own investigation in the intervening months since their November declaration, but is not able to comment on anything the investigation entailed. "I appreciate the FTC's continued engagement on the issue of loot boxes, particularly in regards to the well-being of young gamers," wrote New Hampshire senator Maggie Hassan, who kicked off the investigations by requesting the FTC's intervention. "A public workshop on loot boxes is a step in the right direction, and I encourage the FTC to continue working with consumer advocates, parents, gamers, and industry members to ensure that meaningful improvements are made to increase transparency and consumer protections around loot boxes." The workshop will likely include representation from the industry, presumably in the form of an ESA representative, parent groups, and consumer advocacy groups. The result is anticipated not to be anything worse a consumer alert, but the main intention is to use the workshop to shape how the FTC proceeds from here. Any sort of legislative action is not going to take place at this level. In the meantime, several states are investigating how to handle loot boxes in terms of local legislation, with Washington and Hawaii politicians seeking state-level remedies to what they deem as selling gambling to children. View the full article
  5. Back when Game Informer first began to explore tabletop gaming coverage, I’d often headline new game recommendations as direct comparisons to familiar video game genres like first-person shooters or dungeon crawlers. In more recent years, we’ve used that type of comparison less frequently. But this week’s recommendation of Dice Throne can’t help but draw some correlations for players discovering it while crossing over from the world of video games. Within the tabletop world, Dice Throne is innovative and surprising, with a brisk play time, flexible strategy, and tremendous replayability thanks to a growing bank of playable characters. But with its asymmetrical heroes, stylized art, abilities (including Ultimates), broad accessibility, and multiple modes of play, video gamers will immediately recognize a kinship with Blizzard’s stellar Overwatch. And that’s a great thing; Dice Throne is a lot of fun, and deserves your attention. Dice Throne has a simple premise. A mad king has ruled for a millennium, and every year he hosts a tournament to find someone worthy to take his throne. You must compete against your opponents to earn the right to challenge the tyrannical ruler. Across two seasons of content, Dice Throne has grown by adding to its varied roster of hero characters, each of whom draws inspiration from a wide array of genre fiction. There’s the evasive Moon Elf, who blinds and entangles opponents as she slowly knocks down their health. The Gunslinger spins her twin pistols as she fires off bullseye shots. The Monk carefully balances his chi to contribute to both added offense and defense. In classic 1v1 duels, or larger team and free-for-all matches of up to six players, these and around a dozen other available characters duke it out with their unique abilities to see whose combat style can win the day. Season 1 or 2 can be purchased as full character collections, or in smaller and less expensive dual-packs The results of those battles are determined through a clever gameplay loop involving dice rolls, action selection, and augmenting or altering effects through the use of cards. On their turn, each player rolls a custom set of five dice unique to their chosen character, revealing both numerical results and icons connected to that character (like a sword symbol for the Barbarian). The player can attempt to reroll their choice of dice a couple of times before locking in results, and then applying those results to perform a particular action. Whether it’s the Paladin’s Righteous Combat attack, or the Samurai’s impressive Masamune, each ability can only be triggered if you have the correct die faces showing. Some abilities deal direct damage, some buff your hero, and others inflict debuffs on your foe. As attacks roll in against your opponent, they usually have a chance to roll their designated defensive ability, which can itself cause additional effects and damage. On top of dice rolling, a deck of hero-specific cards offer additional ways to upgrade or (crucially) alter die rolls to augment your turn. Then the whole thing repeats with your opponent(s). Once you get a hang of the action, these turns move quickly and provide a wealth of interesting choices. Should you spend your turn healing up and increasing your combat points in order to spend on a big card play next round? Do you dare to use your reroll attempts to lock in your elusive but devastating ultimate ability, even knowing it’s a long shot to get the required rolls? Maybe your Pyromancer should focus this turn on building up their fire mastery status effect, which might lead to especially potent damage on your next turn. The interplay of different strategies is a ton of fun, but it’s the variety in each hero character that really helps Dice Throne stand out. Each character adds a new dimension to play, and the designers have done an excellent job maintaining balance even as new heroes add wrinkles to play. I love learning the playstyles of each character in turn, and discovering the ways that their abilities play off of each other. By focusing on new characters as a way to grow the game, expansions are meaningful and rewarding, and encourage diverse approaches to play. All the game components for a given character are unique to that hero, including the dice rolled during play Moreover, it also means you can customize your level of commitment and cost of entry. While Season 1 and 2 can both be purchased in full, you can instead buy smaller dual-character packs; I hope that publisher Roxley Game Laboratory continues support for the game in the same fashion over time, growing the roster for players to pick and choose between as they desire. I’m also a big fan of any game that manages to pack in compelling strategy in an accessible and understandable formula, and that’s a challenge that Dice Throne manages with aplomb. With its preset heroes, helpful reference cards, and smartly written rules, this is a game that’s easy to introduce to newcomers. While balanced well against any one other character, heroes have varying tiers of complexity, so you can choose a playstyle that matches your experience. Colorful cartoonish art and clear presentation further lend the game a welcoming and appealing sensibility. Health and combat points (used to deploy cards) are tracked on included dials And perhaps most importantly, individual matches can be played in under an hour, and often in as little as 30 minutes once you know what you’re doing. As such, you can fly through a single game with your buddy over a lunch break. Or at the other end of the spectrum, a gaming group could have a blast wiling away a weekend setting up their own tournament, with regularly shifting or randomized hero selection to keep things interesting. The random element brought on by dice rolling and card draws can sometimes hurt a strategy experience. But I’d argue that in this instance, it’s that very element of chance that brings Dice Throne to life, emulating the sudden unexpected moments of a cinematic battle, but still maintaining meaningful choices that result from each die result and new card that shows up in your hand. All of your hero's abilities and effects are clearly highlighted in the play area in front of you, making it easy to experiment with a new character I’m very high on Dice Throne as a relatively lightweight strategy affair that nonetheless leads to some great competitions. Every time I play, I’m torn between returning to a favorite character, and the fun of trying out a new hero, and that’s a great feeling. Like the best video game hero shooters, there’s a depth and replayability that is hard to deny in Dice Throne, and one that I think could give it a long life at your table. For more recommendations of great tabletop games to share with your friends and family, feel free to click into the Top of the Table banner below, and peruse some other excellent recent games. If you’re looking for additional guidance on finding the right tabletop game for your group, drop me a line via email, and let me know what you’re looking for. View the full article
  6. With discussions going back and forth on whether E3 still makes sense as a show, Microsoft, the one major platform holder still seemingly holding a physical press conference at the event, is still hoping to make a big splash at the annual expo this year. According to reports from different outlets, Scarlet might get detailed with multiple options in just a few short months. French outlet JeuxVideo, commonly thought of as one of the best-connected video game outlets in Europe, released a report this morning saying that Microsoft's Scarlet console which was announced last year is actually two consoles, as indicated by Thurrott last year. Codenamed Lockheart and Anaconda, one version would be primarily digital at an entry-level price, while the other would be similar to the Xbox One X in pricing but act as a traditional local console. JeuxVideo indicates that Fall 2020 is the presumed launch for these systems, but a disc-less Xbox One will be coming in a few months, again originally rumored by outlet Thurrott. Thurott themselves also seemed to back up this rumor, releasing a report today saying Microsoft will unveil these two consoles at E3 this year. Halo Infinite is expected to be the shining star of software for the new systems, launching alongside them with, as Thurrott reports, RPG elements and player decisions to help shake up the Halo formula. In terms of other software, JeuxVideo believes that Ninja Theory's first game under Microsoft's banner is aiming for a 2020 release, as well. The outlet also suggests that both Anaconda and Lockheart will have SSDs as standard. If true, combined with recent rumors of Microsoft teaming up with Nintendo on some upcoming collaborative efforts, it looks like Xbox is going in to E3 trumpeting a new generation as loudly as they can. [Source: Thurrott, JeuxVideo] View the full article
  7. A new service from Square Enix will allow Final Fantasy XIV players in Japan to have a wedding themed after the developer's MMORPG. It's not something you should tread lightly into, but if you have the desire to seal your love in a ceremony that celebrates a video game, Square Enix has you covered. The Japanese publisher is working with a wedding planning company named Bridal Hearts to give the themed ceremony a go. There is already an in-game event called the Eternal Bond, a faux-wedding within the virtual walls of Final Fantasy XIV for players to swear an everlasting betrothal to each other. The Bridal Hearts-run physical version bases itself on the in-game ceremony, except in an actual place. A couple took this for a test run on Valentine's Day in Japan, which came with a wedding dress and tuxedo based on the Eternal Bond outfits, replica weapons the players used in the game, a cake with Final Fantasy monsters on it, and more. Final Fantasy XIV director and community figurehead Naoki Yoshida even walked the bride down the aisle, though I imagine that's only for the first wedding and he's not part of the general wedding package. When it rolls out officially in a couple of weeks, that package will run the equivalent of about $31,000 for 70 guests and a ceremony, so it's not exactly going to come cheap. That said, hey, it's your special day, celebrate it however you want. If that involves moogles, then you get all the moogles you can dream of. View the full article
  8. The battle royale genre is constantly evolving, and we wanted to dive in headfirst to see what's happening with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout update. While map and quality of life changes have been in the PS4 version of the game since Tuesday, today saw the addition of a new Blackout game mode called Hot Pursuit. Watch us role play as either cops or robbers at 1:30 Central above or on Game Informer's YouTube or Twitch page. View the full article
  9. GameInformer

    Where's Our Anthem Review?

    Anthem's confusing release schedule is finally behind us. Players on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC can now jump into the game without concerns of a 10-hour trial ending or the game not having the day-one patch. Over the last week, I spent roughly 30 hours in this fascinating cooperative shooter, and have given all of the javelins a test drive, but feel I need to dive deeper into the endgame before I can give a verdict. I also need to replay the opening moments of the game to see if the day-one patch affects one of my biggest criticisms: needing to complete various freeplay activities to open four tomb doors. Prior to the patch hitting, one of these activities ended up being a grind. I needed to open 15 chests, but the activity wasn't designed with co-op in mind. Only the player who opened the chest got credit for it, so I had to say goodbye to my friends to hunt down chests in the open world. This proved to be maddening, as some of the chests I came across were already opened by other players (yes, even randoms you don't play with can get them first), and they won't return unless you go back to Fort Tarsis and return to a new instance of the world. Post-patch, every player in the party now gets credit when a chest is opened. What does that mean for the overall design of the tombs now? I need to find out. As far as my thoughts on the overall experience, I can tell you BioWare has made a hell of a show reel for an Iron Man game. Marvel, take note. Blowing away aliens and monsters with heavy artillery is damn fun with all of the javelins. I almost feel bad given how much firepower is sometimes unleashed against enemies – ice, fire, lightning, rockets, bullets, all at once. That said, the mission design, need for teamwork, and loot are all riddled with serious problems. I'm enjoying the story that is unfolding at Fort Tarsis (even if the choices don't mean much at this point), but there is no defined face of evil in this game. The Monitor, who is supposed to be the big bad, is barely present. Perhaps BioWare intended for the loading screens to be the villain, as they pop up everywhere and are annoying in their length. Just bringing up your javelin to switch weapons is met with an odd amount of loading. When will the review be ready? Hopefully early next week. I am making progress at a steady pace, but I want to make sure my review reflects the full experience players will have with Anthem. For more thoughts on Anthem's first week, check out our discussion on The Game Informer Show: Click here to watch embedded media View the full article
  10. Click here to watch embedded media All month long we've been rolling out exclusive features highlighting Obsidian's upcoming RPG The Outer Worlds. While visiting the studio, we sat down with co-directors Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky to talk about the game's tone and how it compares to their creation of the original Fallout. We should stress that there's a talented team of writing within Obsidian writing the game, but Cain and Boyarsky help define the overall tone and vision. Check out the video above and let us know what you think of The Outer Worlds in the comments below. Click on the banner below to enter our constantly updating hub of exclusive features on The Outer Worlds. View the full article
  11. Click here to watch embedded media The Occupation is an upcoming first-person thriller that puts players in the role of an investigative journalist in 1987 who has only four hours to crack the case of a terrorist bombing. The latest gameplay trailers walks players through a portion of the game, illustrating the branching paths players can take to gather leads for their exposé. Time is your greatest threat in The Occupation – one hour in real-time equates to one in-game hour (which, in a way, reflects the nature of being a journalist under a deadline). In the new gameplay trailer, the protagonist learns that the head of the local news organization might be printing lies about the terrorist bombing, and proof might exist on a floppy disk that's lost somewhere in the office. The game evokes Dishonored in the way that players can approach a task in a variety of ways. The floppy disk might be hidden in a specific office, and players can sneak in through certain vents, spy from the shadows as an NPC puts in the office passcode, or locate a fuse box in order to shut down the security system completely. Developer White Paper Games says players need to pay close attention to their surroundings. Later in the trailer, after players have obtained the floppy disk, the player walks through a security checkpoint and the magnetic sensors damage the drive. Apparently, this can be avoided by going another route, but now players have to use precious time finding a place to repair the drive. The Occupation is out March 5 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. It made our list of our 20 Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2019. View the full article
  12. Destiny 2's Gambit mode is receiving a slew of updates to accompany its upcoming Season of the Drifter. Plenty of quality of life changes and balance tweaks (like the shotgun getting nerfed) are headed down the pipe in addition to extra rewards in the Gambit mode from now until the release of Season of the Drifter on March 5. These updates will make for quicker matches, with the third round now being a Primeval rush sudden death instead of just another round. Bungie is also making big changes to the blockers – the enemies that you send to slow down the opposing team – that should make for some interesting tweaks to how players strategize. The medium and large blockers will now have increased health that should make them more effective. You can head here to see all of the details on the changes headed to Destiny 2. You can also read Matt Miller's review of Destiny 2: Forsaken, where he said Gambit is a "welcome mingling of cooperative and competitive play." [Source: Bungie] View the full article
  13. Left Alive is Square Enix's latest title from the Front Mission franchise. At last year's TGS, we learned about its three playable protagonists and their overarching motivations. Today, Square released extended footage of Left Alive's core gameplay as it pertains to each of these characters. Click here to watch embedded media During stealth segments, gadgets like enemy-sensor projectiles, smoke grenades, and flash bangs let players assess engagements or evade them outright. Additionally, the trailer is chock-full of cutscenes. Basic dialogue options are available in these moments to maintain immersion. However, Square left the most anticipated gameplay for last: mech combat. These golem-sized machines come equipped with fully-automatic weapons as well as grenade and missile launchers. A pin ability was used several times to disorient enemy mechs and traverse the linear stretches of metropolitan areas swiftly. Left Alive releases for PlayStation 4 and PC on March 5. If the game's Metal Gear Solid-like mechanics excite you, read up on the extra content and collectibles that come with the Day One and Mech Edition versions of the upcoming title. View the full article
  14. The troubled Fallout 76 launch has kept Bethesda busy trying to stabilize the game and fix glaring issues in the months after launch, but the company is confident enough in its bug-fixing progress at this point to reveal its 2019 content roadmap. The first major content beat, Wild Appalachia, drops this spring and includes two new questlines, C.A.M.P. decorating, brewing and distilling, a Fasnacht Parade seasonal event, and a Survival game mode for PvP players. The second drop, Nuclear Winter, comes in the summer. Go figure. Nuclear Winter is a new way to play the game that completely changes the rules of the Wasteland. Details are scarce about how exactly this changes the game; expect Bethesda to address this in the coming months. You can also look forward to raids on Vault 96 and Vault 94, plus a new prestige system that bestows legendary status on high-ranked players. We know very little about the Wastelanders other than it's coming this fall and it has a new questline, new factions, and some new features. Read the entire roadmap here. View the full article
  15. Anthem is live across all platforms today, and with the flip of the switch comes a huge day one patch meant to address many of the issues players surfaced during the early trial period. You can read the full breakdown of the changes here, the most notable being that all players in a group now get credit when one of them opens a chest, which should make the Tomb of the Legionnaire progress go much more quickly than it did last week. In addition to that batch of fixes, BioWare also outlined plans to fix many other issues players have reported. The next client-side patch hopes to restore HDR use for consoles, diminish crashes, and fix a problem where the stronghold boss in Heart of Rage wouldn't spawn if the group wiped before engaging it. Read the full list of future changes here. View the full article
  16. Epic is giving players another reason to perform those Fortnite dances that seem to make old people so upset. The company announced that Fortnite players will have a crack at a prize pool of $100 million during 2019, which includes the Fortnite World Cup. Open qualifiers begin April 13 and run through June 16, with weekly pools of $1 million getting paid out to eligible battle-royale players. From there, the top 100 solo players and top 50 duos teams will be able to participate in the finals in New York City from July 26-28 – competing for a chunk of a $30 million prize. Everyone who makes it that far is guaranteed $50,000, with the top solo champ taking home $3 million. In addition to the world cup, Epic says it will be hosting weekly $1 million tournaments throughout the rest of the year, with different modes and formats. View the full article
  17. Crossovers can be really fun and it's always cool to see two incredibly disparate things come together to watch their interactions. Then sometimes crossovers happen that could be amazing in a milkshake-and-fries sort of way but leave you scratching your head the entire time. It's hard to say if the upcoming crossover of MMORPG Tera and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds will be surprisingly amazing, but it is certainly head-scratching. Check out a trailer of the crossover below. Click here to watch embedded media The crossover brings PUBG cosmetics to Tera, rather than bringing Tera's fantasy world to PUBG, which is honestly a way more fascinating an interesting dynamic I hope they take. The event will be running from March 5 through April 5, so you can hop into Tera and use that game's in-game PUBG shop so they can pick up the various cosmetics. I would also like the PUBG-Man suit and helmet in Mario Odyssey, please. View the full article
  18. Today, ArenaNet employees on social media came out with fears, and then confirmations, that the company is bracing for layoffs in the immediate future. While there's no strategy in place for how the layoffs will go, and who will in fact be laid off, it does seem like the MMORPG developer of the Guild Wars series will be losing a number of jobs within the next week. ArenaNet, owned by South Korean game developer NCSoft, has about 400 employees, but has not said how many are expected to lose their jobs. According to Kotaku, which received a copy of the email sent by NCSoft CEO Songyee Yoon, the parent company is feeling a financial burden due to the simple fact that they're spending more money than they're making. As a result, ArenaNet's publishing division will get absorbed into NCSoft while jobs get lost in the process. Guild Wars 2, the major and currently only product in ArenaNet's modern profile, eschewed the conventions of other MMORPGs by not charging a subscription fee and instead monetizing the game through expansions. This strategy may also have caused financial issues by requiring consistent and consistently quality content for the game, which ArenaNet has struggled to provide. Guild Wars 2's last expansion released well over a year ago, meaning that both players and corporate bosses were growing frustrated with the lack of revenue-generating content. Those being laid off at ArenaNet are seemingly receiving severance packages and bonus time based on tenure, but the developer has not told, or apparently decided, who will be let go. It is possible they will not know until next week, which means an extremely stressful weekend is head for ArenaNet employees. We wish all those affected the best. View the full article
  19. With the recent announcement that Nintendo's corporate darling, Reggie Fils-Aimé, is stepping down this April, Twitter is full of people from around the video game industry thanking him for his time in the spotlight. It speaks to his impact that people from all around games are feeling affected by this changing of the guard. You can watch Reggie's heartfelt farewell below and see a collection of thoughts and well-wishes for the man who has guided Nintendo of America through the revolution that was the Wii, learned something from the mistakes of the Wii U, and can now leave with his head held high after the success of the Switch. https://twitter.com/NintendoAmerica/status/1098666321473024000 https://twitter.com/BrianPShea/status/1098672479734824960 https://twitter.com/JordanWMinor/status/1045677383792111618 https://twitter.com/Konami/status/1098662617650872320 Thanks for everything, Reggie! — Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) February 21, 2019 https://twitter.com/geoffkeighley/status/1098661725660864513 Thank YOU, Reggie, for everything. ♥ — Limited Run Games (@LimitedRunGames) February 21, 2019 The answer is both. There’s no more names and no more asses so it’s time to move on. Thank you Reggie, we’ll miss you. Everyone except this guy: pic.twitter.com/d37CjFPz9K — Barry Kramer (@razzadoop) February 21, 2019 https://twitter.com/XboxP3/status/1098664662697013248 Thank you for everything, Reggie! You'll be missed! pic.twitter.com/I2544mLjIc — Dotemu (@Dotemu) February 21, 2019 We will miss you, Reggie. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication at Nintendo! pic.twitter.com/Vs7x3QPXRE — Tetris (@Tetris_Official) February 21, 2019 https://twitter.com/cwgabriel/status/1098686467348414464 https://twitter.com/DOOM/status/1098692375222857730 And now you can spend 16 hours a day... With your family, your friends, and enjoying your retirement. Thank you for the memories, Reggie. pic.twitter.com/5cte1yhbbc — hungrybox (@LiquidHbox) February 21, 2019 ACTUAL GAMES NEWS TODAY: Bowser to take over Nintendo https://t.co/jfkmq70ZYy — Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) February 21, 2019 https://twitter.com/JessicaChobot/status/1098688059300732930 View the full article
  20. According to a report from outlet Direct Feed Games, an outlet that has a strong track record for rumors especially centering around Nintendo, Microsoft and Nintendo are about to get together in a big way in the near future. Not only will some Microsoft games find their way to the Switch, but it looks like the entire Game Pass library might arrive via the magic of streaming. The report states that Microsoft is looking into publishing some of their own catalog to the Switch in the form of actual ports. This is in no way strange for Microsoft, who has dabbled in things like lending out Rare for games on Nintendo systems and developing and publishing games on Nintendo consoles such as Minecraft. Microsoft-owned developers like Ninja Theory and Obsidian are still self-publishing their games on the Switch and other systems, as well. The game specifically mentioned by Direct Feed is Ori and the Blind Forest, a crown jewel in Microsoft's lower key publishing initiatives. Additionally, the report goes on to say that Microsoft will be leveraging their announced Project xCloud streaming service to bring Xbox One games to the Switch. While the Switch can't natively play, as a hypothetical example Gears 5, it could stream it over the internet. This will be done through Game Pass, which allows players to subscribe to a service to access a Netflix-style library of games. In talking with our own sources, it has been suggested that the announcement of Game Pass on Switch could come as soon as this year. This isn't surprising, as Microsoft has been eager to expand Game Pass out as far as they can, announcing plans to revamp it for PC. Project xCloud is a means to an end to get people who don't own Xbox products to spend money on Xbox services, making the Switch a perfect vector for it. For Nintendo, it means games that are unfeasible on the console due to hardware limitations can come to the Switch in some form and provides an added value for them. This particular avenue is also not new to Nintendo, which has been experimenting with using cloud streaming as a way to play technologically demanding games for a few months now in Japan. Games like Resident Evil 7 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey have Switch ports in Japan, streaming a special version from a local server. Game Pass on the Switch would be no different. We speculated on the possibilities of what a Microsoft and Nintendo friendship could mean in a recent opinion piece which you can read right here. Game Pass aside, what games would you want Microsoft to publish on the Switch? Would you want them to reach back into their catalog for games like Conker? Maybe something more modern like Cuphead or Ori's sequel? Or could the two finally come to an agreement on a Goldeneye remaster? Let us know below in the comments. View the full article
  21. The latest Nintendo Direct gave us our first big look at Fire Emblem: Three Houses for Switch. To say I’ve been anticipating this game is an understatement. I love that the series is getting back on a home console, which we haven’t seen since 2007’s Radiant Dawn for Wii. The Direct brought more questions than answers on what type of game Fire Emblem: Three Houses will be, but nonetheless, made me just as excited for it. Fire Emblem is an amazing series; I grew up playing the strategy/RPG, and Awakening no doubt brought new life into it. While Fates didn’t quite reach the same high bar, it still had some interesting ideas like MyCastle. Three Houses is an opportunity for Intelligent Systems to raise the bar and take the series into new territory. I felt now would be a good time to assess what has been shown off and also talk about our hopes for the game, so I enlisted fellow Fire Emblem fan Javy Gwaltney to discuss more about the latest entry and our early impressions. Kim: Okay, Javy, we finally saw some gameplay and got more information on Fire Emblem: Three Houses. We’ve had a few days to process it now. What did you think in general? Javy: I think what they’re doing is the right move here. I loved Fates, but there’s no doubt that it answered all the special things that Awakening had with more of the same rather than a new take. Three Houses, on the other hand, looks very inspired. I love the idea that you’re essentially playing a professor at Fire Emblem’s version of Hogwarts, and that your role as a teacher isn’t just in name only. You actually teach students and they become more proficient in battle (and hopefully develop memorable friendships) based on your choices. In that way, you’ve still got that balance of character-focused storytelling and snappy strategy battles. It’s very promising, and the visual enhancements afforded by the jump from 3DS to Switch are a pretty big boost. What about your take, Kim? Kim: I love the idea of taking the role of a teacher, training and sharing your wisdom with students. I’m a sucker for school settings in RPGs, such as Persona and Trails of Cold Steel. It just adds a nice structure for progression, and the social possibilities also have me intrigued. I know the biggest thing on people’s mind when the Direct released was: What is Intelligent Systems going to do as far as romance? Will there be any? I’ve been thinking a lot about how that would work since you’re a teacher, and yeah, dating students would be weird and creepy. I’d rather the teacher help foster relationships between the students, pairing up ones that would complement each other’s personalities and their skills on the battlefield (bring back the pairing system, please!). I don’t even think it needs to be romantic (and if it is, for the love of god, just have it be between students then). This is a unique opportunity for Intelligent Systems to do something interesting and rewarding with your role as a teacher. The romance mechanic didn’t really become a staple of the series until it blew up with Awakening, so they could take it out entirely. Orrrr ... they could provide options for your character with your colleagues. Anyway, I think the social elements have been successful for the series, so I don’t think abandon it entirely, but it is probably one of the biggest unknowns and questions people have about the game. I’m curious, how do you feel the school stuff will affect the narrative and gameplay? Javy: I hear you on the romance stuff. I kind of hope they abandon it entirely? Fire Emblem is great, was great beyond long before the visual novel romance focus that Awakening introduced, so to see them make that gamble and really focus on platonic relationships centered around caretaking a new generation would be equally as interesting to me. And to answer your question, I think the school setup is loaded with potential. As you mentioned, the castle in Fates was an interesting addition, but I never really took the time to explore it, y’know? I’d visit my characters, do the legwork to get them stat boosts, but it wasn’t a place I wanted to hang around, especially at the expense of not barreling through the story. However, a magical school of nobles that you can explore between battles is a great idea, and think of all the drama the student body could get up to that you’d have to mediate. Teaching rivals to respect one another instead of going at each other’s throats the entire time? Cracking down on bullying? There’s a lot they could do here, and I’m hoping they lean more into the Persona side of things with characters who have engrossing multi-act storylines and arcs. Both Awakening and Fates had a lot of characters, but few of them actually had stories to pursue beyond helping them overcome a mild phobia or character flaw. I want to really get to know this cast, especially if permadeath is making a return. Though Nintendo hasn’t said permadeath is coming back for sure, the Direct had a line about students dying due to choices you make on the battlefield, so it’s probably gonna be here. The idea of your students dying is heart-wrenching but could prove to be effective emotional moments. Are you worried about the overarching story at all? Kim: Okay, I was just about to say, if this game has permadeath it brings it to a whole new level. When it’s your students, who you’ve tried to prepare and lead ... just I’m going to be a wreck. The narrative could go either way, I’ve always found the gameplay the bigger lure, but having three different leaders, all with different backgrounds seems brimming with potential. Things will get political and personal. I just hope the whole part of you, as the teacher, seeing visions of a “mysterious girl” doesn’t turn too generic. This has been done repeatedly in RPGs and games, but if they can do something interesting with it, I’m okay. I really think if the narrative centers on bringing together three different kingdoms and leaders for the greater good, it could be very satisfying, especially if as a teacher, you’re the one making that happen. I agree with you though, that characters haven’t stuck out as much as they could, and I think the focus on the three leaders is a good opportunity to tackle bigger issues and add more personality. One thing I’m really interested in is how much do the storylines diverge depending on what house you choose to align with. I’d love to see it impact the story in different ways, giving you the incentive to replay from the other perspectives. I mean, the fact that you, as their teacher, will eventually side with one, that’s gotta be such a dramatic choice and have consequences on the overall plot. What do you think? Javy: It’s a really smart design decision. I mean, not to harp too much on the Harry Potter thing, but they’re literally handing the player The Sorting Hat from that world, letting them make the choice, and then be responsible for that house. I imagine that all the houses will eventually be warring with one another over some noble’s screw up or conspiracy and that’s all very tropey (as you mentioned above), but Fire Emblem’s never been innovative for its plot. Instead, I think it’s the special things that happen when your actions on the battlefield intersect with the characters you’ve come to know during the more quiet moments. To lose someone you’ve spent hours getting to know in Awakening, someone who’s married another party member and had kids, is devastating because it really does feel like it’s your fault. The flip side of that is that their successes are also because of you, so I’m hoping we really get to see that unfold in Three Houses. Will the lessons you teach divide students? Turn friends into enemies because you play favorites? There’s so much they could do here, and I really hope they turn up the drama with these choices – even to the point of being overdramatic – if it leads to exciting consequences. Give me the dramatics over realistic any day with these sorts of games. I feel like I’m really optimistic about Three Houses. Do you have any concerns for the game? Kim: My concerns are very minimal, as you said Fates didn’t do enough new. I’m hoping Three Houses uses the new setup to its advantage and can bring some interesting new things to the narrative and combat. I love the core strategy-based gameplay, but I’d love to have a few extra things to make it feel new and exciting, making every battle feel different. I really want bigger battles and the stakes raised. Go all out, because this is the first time we’ve had an opportunity for a home console-sized Fire Emblem in over a decade. I’m also hoping we have even more control over building our party members and that there’s some extra cool classes and skills thrown in to keep things interesting. Right now, it’s weird, the only concern I really have is there’s all this potential, but that Intelligent Systems doesn’t take advantage of it as well as it could. Of course, I feel like all my experience playing these games, I should be confident because I’ve never been severely let down. How about you? Javy: I think the biggest minefield is the romance stuff. I’m really hoping they don’t do it. I’m also curious to see what changes are coming to combat with the battalions. I’m mostly of the “It ain’t broke so don’t fix it” school of thought when it comes to Fire Emblem’s strategy gameplay, but if the new mechanics added are actually enticing and well thought out, I’m on board with them. But yeah, overall, I’m super excited for Three Houses. I think that concept is amazing and hopefully, Intelligent Systems realizes its potential. Kim: Agreed. It’s a new freaking Fire Emblem game, and it’s coming out at the end of July ... and on Switch. It’s a great time to be alive. ;) Fire Emblem: Three Houses launches on July 26. For more information, check out our Everything We Know About Fire Emblem: Three Houses feature. Why are you excited for Fire Emblem? Let us know in the comments below. View the full article
  22. Click here to watch embedded media Square Enix’s mobile role-playing games, Final Fantasy Record Keeper and Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross], are celebrating Kingdom Hearts III’s launch with a collaboration that crosses familiar heroes and villains over to both games. In Final Fantasy Record Keeper, the event runs from today through March 6, and features numerous dungeons inspired by locations from core Kingdom Hearts entries, such as Destiny Islands and the Keyblade Graveyard. Everyone’s favorite clown-footed hero Sora will make his debut in the game alongside allies like Riku, Axel, and Roxas. Players who complete these dungeons can acquire two five-star, Kingdom Hearts-themed accessories – the Dark Ring and Fire Bangle – as dungeon rewards. Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] will see its own crossover event that runs from February 22 to March 8. The “Defeat the Weaponmaster Campaign” lets up to six players team up in a multiplayer quest featuring the Weaponmaster – a Heartless based on Final Fantasy’s Gilgamesh. If the community can slay the Weaponmaster 100,000 times during the event, all players will receive 1,000 Jewels. Participants will be able to take on Mysterious Sir, another Final Fantasy-themed foe, in a raid event that features “extremely difficult enemies” and nets players who complete it a “special reward.” Kingdom Hearts III launched last month, and we liked it a lot. So did five million other people. You can also read our intern’s thoughts about how the new game redeems Donald Duck. View the full article
  23. Blizzard uploaded a mysterious document today on its PlayOverwatch website. The report details a clandestine operation in Haiti. A small task force is charged with securing or – if resistance is met – eliminating a Talon VIP by the name of Jean-Baptiste Augustin. In the document, Dr. Cuerva, leader of the aforementioned unit, mentions Baptiste's unmatched skill as a medic and weapon specialist. Now that Year of the Pig has ended, players are setting their sights on the next scheduled event: Archives. Past iterations have primarily focused on hero backstories, so this year will likely be more of the same. In light of today's hint, speculation is two-fold: this Cuerva Strike Team report could be revealing Archives' newest objective as well as providing much-anticipated information on "Hero 30." Let us know what you've deduced from the document in the comments below. [Source: PlayOverwatch] View the full article
  24. Skull & Bones, Ubisoft's upcoming ship combat game taking the much-acclaimed feature from the Assassin's Creed games and spinning it off into its own game, is coming out later in the year. Before it hits, however, Ubisoft is partnering with a TV studio to show off the pirate-oriented world. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ubisoft is working on adapting the game as "a female-driven drama set in the lawless frontier of the Indian Ocean at the end of the golden age of piracy in the 1700s." That's all the details we have so far, but it is a strong vote of confidence from Ubisoft for the delayed game which is intended to release later this year. Ubisoft recently announced a commitment to expand to further adaptations, having announced Child of Light and Werewolves Within adaptations as part of their Ubisoft Film initiative. Skull & Bones is releasing for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later this year. View the full article
  25. Far Cry 5 launched last year to divisive reactions. Count me among those who flat-out did not care for the game. The series’ strong gunplay and sturdy progression system remained, but years of chasing after Vaas’ brand of villainy and edgy storytelling made Far Cry 5’s narrative nearly unbearable. The attempts to balance wacky shenanigans with a grim story about cults and apocalypse fever were an absolute failure. In one scene, you’d be listening to dude in a man-bun recycling 50 different the-end-is-nigh monologues. In another, you’d be hunting bulls so you could chop off their testicles for a barbecue. It all just mixed like oil and water, resulting in one of the weakest entries in the series. So you can probably imagine my own surprise at discovering that I love Far Cry 5’s sequel, New Dawn. I’ve been playing the game nearly non-stop since it released last Friday, mostly because I needed a colorful palate cleanse after the great-but-grimy Metro Exodus. What I love about New Dawn so much is that it gets rid of all the unnecessary crap that brought Far Cry 5 down. There is a story with stakes, but it never tries to push its way ahead of Far Cry’s brand of colorful, emergent violence. Whereas setting a bear on fire in an enemy camp and then watching it chew through foes felt too slapstick before, here it feels perfect for the tone. And yeah, New Dawn has another pair of Villains Who Monologue, but they’re mercifully brief – sidelined so that you can pursue what makes New Dawn (and the rest of the series) so fun. Since the third entry, the Far Cry series has had, by my measure, one of the best progression systems in games. Becoming more powerful by overtaking enemy outposts never gets old. New Dawn’s version of this setup has you taking these outposts to earn resources that you use to craft weapons, vehicles, and upgrade your home base. You can also recycle these outposts to fill them with stronger foes. If you manage to take the outpost again, you get even more resources. New Dawn also introduces expeditions, which are standalone levels where you fly to a remote location (like Alcatraz or a theme park in the Bayou) to retrieve a package of goods from the enemy and make your way a helicopter extraction point as endless waves of foes descend upon you. The variety of choices you have at your disposal means that taking the same outpost a second time can result in an entirely different moment-to-moment story. In the first run, you might just rush in with an assault rifle, blasting every foe you see Rambo style. However, on the second, you might trap all the alarms to explode when enemies use them and then purposely cause some noise, tricking foes into obliterating themselves as you watch, cackling. And in another, you might just throw some bait into the middle of the outpost, let the wolves and cheetahs do your work, and then clean up the survivors. Or you can just snipe from afar with bullet-piercing rounds. There’s just so much entertaining mayhem to be had here, especially when you take advantage of New Dawn’s lively arsenal. Though it might not have as many memorable weapons as Blood Dragon, New Dawn’s assortment of weapons are both powerful and hilarious. The first gun you get in the game is a launcher that fires homing buzzsaws capable of silently killing foes. Not bad for an introduction, eh? Beyond that, you’ve also got a shovel with nails pounded into it, several overpowered bows, assault rifles and pistols that use nylon bags and rubber bands as silencers, flamethrowers, throwing knives, and a rifle with a screwdriver tied around the barrel as a makeshift bayonet. It’s all kooky and ties into New Dawn’s colorful take on the end of the world. Few games have loops that I get sucked into enough to do repeatedly: Assassin's Creed IV's pirating mechanics, MGS V's camp infiltrations, and the glorious art of killing nazis in Wolfenstein. On a similar note, New Dawn's expeditions and outpost activities are a great combination of tactical gameplay and wacky violence to the point that I can just keep doing them over and over. I've sunk a lot of hours into doing every iteration of the expedition missions and outpost stuff, and I'm still going back on sheer entertainment value alone, ignoring the story in favor of continuously riding that loop. I’m not saying that New Dawn is a perfect or even amazing game (in fact, I agree with a lot of fellow editor Jeff Marchiafava’s review). However, I love that New Dawn takes the elements that make the series so enjoyable and just boils it down to those essentials, minimizing the annoying stuff like awful villains and overbearing narrative. To me, Far Cry has always been one of those series that is about the moments the player creates with the tools given to them and I think New Dawn’s minimal approach makes it one of the best showcases of that and is worth giving a chance, especially if Far Cry 5 bummed you out. For more on Far Cry New Dawn, check out these tips here. View the full article

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