Games

Pandora's Box

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 18:59

Publisher: 2K Games Developer: Gearbox Software Release: September 13, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

There’s a certain expectation for video game sequels to do everything the previous game did bigger and better and also revolutionize the series in a way that previous games were not able, either through technology or time. This expectation may not always be fair, but when Borderlands 3 was revealed earlier this year, developer Gearbox Software emphasized the former rather than the latter. After some time with the newest game in the Borderlands 3 series, it looks to be bigger and better than every game in the series before it, and that feels like the way the game chooses to revolutionize itself.

The Borderlands 3 demo starts on the planet Promethean in the Meridian Metroplex, which is home to the Atlas Corporation. After the events of Tales of the Borderlands, Telltale’s episodic narrative set in the Borderlands world, Atlas has ended up in the hands of protagonist Rhys. A rival corporation, Maliwan, is attempting a hostile takeover of Atlas by invading the planet. Maliwan is working with the game’s villains, Troy and Tyreen, who are looking to drain the universe’s vault monsters and absorb their power. This leads you on a quest following Rhys’ second-in-command, an Atlas soldier named Lorelei.

In this demo, Gearbox let players use two of the announced vault hunters, the siren Amara and the skilled operative Zane Flynt. Both characters, which are effectively different classes, tackle every encounter differently. Amara, unlike previous sirens Lilith and Maya, is a bit more of a bruiser who prefers to get into the middle of the action rather than crushing enemies from a distance. Zane, meanwhile, can use a drone to fire on enemies, set up decoys to also fire on enemies, and exchange places with a decoy at a button press.

Single-player Borderlands 3 often pairs you with AI partners that would be relevant during the story. On Promethean, the vault hunters caught up to Lorelei, who was looking for a way to send Maliwan’s goons and Tyreen’s zealots back to where they came from. She aids you in battle on a motorcycle with one surrounding giant wheel until eventually the players meet Zer0, the ninja vault hunter from Borderlands 2. The game seems to want to pair you AI characters during story missions because of their new ability to revive player characters, meaning you’re less likely to get into cycles of dying and respawning and getting frustrated.

That said, while the non-playable characters can revive the player, this might still be too far, too busy, or too dead themselves to do it.

The biggest change to multiplayer Borderlands, however, is the introduction of loot instancing. What this does is, regardless of a character’s level, all loot will be appropriate for their level. If a player with a level 30 character joins a friend in a quest for a level 10 character, the loot will be appropriate for both in their own games. Moreover, one player taking the loot doesn’t remove it from the other player’s world. The enemies will also be level-appropriate for each character. This mode can be turned off to just play it like classic Borderlands multiplayer, as well, but it seems to be ideal for players that can’t always schedule the time to play with each other and may have a disparity between their levels and gear.

The demo concludes with a boss fight against the Gigamind, the enemy artificial intelligence controlling their security system, taking the form of a brain in a jar and a small body. Gigamind attacks you with dozens of small pieces of metal floating around him, seemingly designed to keep the player from standing in place and shooting at them. Eventually he succumbs to your gunfire and the brain he drops is given to Rhys in exchange for his help in tracking down the vaults.

In a lot of ways, Borderlands 3 acts like it is designed to fix criticisms of the series’ past, like movement-free boss fights and loot distribution. For a lot of series fans, the idea of a bigger Borderlands is more than enough, especially given the seven years since Borderlands 2. It is however a little unfair to call the third numbered game merely just a bigger Borderlands, as it is a more refined Borderlands from the get-go. The new ideas coalesce around tried and tested gameplay foundations to hopefully make for the best version of this concept yet.

We'll find out for sure when Borderlands 3 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 13.

Categories: Games

Anno 1800 Review - Hidden Figures

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 04/30/2019 - 03:00

At the heart of any European town founded before the 19th century lies a church. It's the same with Anno 1800. At the center of your city sits a magnificent cathedral, its spectacular steeple reaching for the heavens and illuminating the lives of everyone who passes by. It’s a very beautiful church, but it’s hiding something.

At the heart of Anno 1800 lies an intimidating and complex financial simulation. It may seem like you're overseeing the rise and occasional fall of a European-style city as it comes of industrial age. But really, you're juggling numbers, thumb wedged in the accounts ledger, finessing production efficiencies and stabilizing trade fluctuations. Anno 1800 is perhaps the prettiest spreadsheet I've ever seen.

Each randomly generated map in the core sandbox mode unfurls as a mostly blank canvas, a glistening sea dotted with fertile islands waiting to be claimed by you and your (AI or human) opponents. As you grow and expand your reach across multiple islands and into the New World--and your empire undergoes its Industrial Revolution--you'll employ more advanced technologies, extracting coal and oil to fuel great belching factories and formidable steam engines. But the basic principle remains constant: Satisfy your population by employing them to manufacture natural resources into commodities that encourage more people to move to your cities.

Everything becomes a production chain for you to configure, massage and optimize. Early on the choices you're making here are relatively simple; the virgin terrain of your first settlement makes it easy to place the knitter near the farm so the wool is delivered swiftly and the warehouse within range so the finished goods can be collected for immediate sale. But soon the need for a navy means you've had to build a sailmaker's yard which is now diverting wool previously used by the knitter. Building another sheep farm means finding the physical space for an additional farm as well as for all the extra housing for the new farmers. Extend this scenario a few hours into a game and it will encompass dozens of productions chains of increasing complexity and inter-connectivity.

Managing these productions chains--whether it's work clothes and sails or beer and pocket watches--is an enjoyable exercise in a kind of "balancing the books" sense. You know you have to spend resources to grow, but your success depends on finding that ever-moving sweet spot between overreaching and not pushing far enough. It's necessary to keep the requisite resources flowing and meet the housing and job demands of your population, but it's not sufficient. To maintain a firm hand on your economy you have to appreciate the various financial levers available to you, allowing fine adjustments to tax rates and production ratios that can genuinely mean the difference between keeping it in the black and going bankrupt.

Of course, it's also just as enjoyable to play the more visual puzzle game of city planning, slotting in that new building not only where its specific dimensions fit, but where it also retains proximity to its related structures in the chain. Nobly assisting matters here is the "move" tool that lets you--for no resource cost at all--pick up and move any building to another location. Need to pop a police station downtown but there's no room? Just move the nearby houses further down the street to open up the space. It really does look utterly beautiful when it all comes together, too, like an exquisitely detailed diorama that you can poke, prod and tweak to your heart’s content. There’s even a first-person mode that lets you walk the streets and observe all your townsfolk going about their day to day business. I especially welcomed the moments I was able to spend admiring the view before some new urgent matter warranted investigation and I had to return to crunching those numbers.

Spinning all the plates becomes even trickier as you advance into the Industrial Age. Production chains that were once straightforward, one-to-one input/output ratios turn into logistical nightmares as multiple buildings start feeding into multiple other buildings. The demands of the job are only exacerbated by a lack of clarity in the feedback you're given when things aren't operating at full capacity. Simple things like knowing how many flour mills and grain farms support a bakery just aren't communicated clearly enough in-game or in the non-existent manual. I spent hours engaged in trial and error in such situations before finding a comprehensive external wiki that I found myself alt-tabbing to constantly while I played.

There is a campaign mode that functions as a tutorial before it segues into the main sandbox. And there is an additional setting that enables a more guided experience, providing you with specific goals at the appropriate moments. I found both very welcome, even as someone who had played some of the previous Anno games. But at the same time, I felt that other important aspects weren't explained thoroughly enough, if at all, and it was frustrating to guess at solutions to problems I wasn't confident I'd even diagnosed correctly.

Much of Anno 1800 is spent watching numbers go up and down. Total gold is going down. Now it's going back up again. There aren't enough workers for the number of available jobs. Okay, now there are too many workers and not enough engineers. Sometimes it's clear why these things are happening and sometimes it's obvious what you can do to rectify the situation. However, other times it isn't and it's really quite panic-inducing. My stomach tightened whenever the numbers plummeted into the red, but as soon as they shot back into the black I would feel a surge of relief. Even so, outside of these sharp swings, when the numbers remained relatively stable and my economy seemed to be ticking over steadily, I couldn't shake this nagging sense that everything was always on the verge of complete collapse.

I spent all of my time playing Anno 1800 in a mild yet pervasive state of anxiety. As a city-building sim that emphasizes economic management, it is as robust and powerful as the steel factories it allows you to pollute the skies with. But for all the natural beauty of its island paradise and the architectural splendor of its churches, theatres, and piers, it's just a little too cold in its reliance on numbers and a little too impenetrable in its reluctance to show you its workings. I'm glad I visited, but I don't think I'd want to live there.

Categories: Games

Watch Eight Minutes Of New Gameplay From A Plague Tale: Innocence

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 04/28/2019 - 18:07

Click to watch embedded media

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Developer: Asobo Studio Release: May 14, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

A Plague Tale: Innocence is an upcoming action adventure game from developer Asobo Studio and publisher Focus Home Interactive, that takes place in 14th century France. It follows the story of two siblings, Amicia and Hugo, who attempt to survive the plague-ridden country.

Recently, Asobo Studio showed off eight minutes of gameplay from the upcoming title. We watch teenage Amicia stealthily making her way through a village to eventually reach a university. During her journey, we see her distract enemies by launching throwables at them or even throwing a rock at a hanging corpse to catch a guard's attention.

Some light crafting is shown, as well as how rats are afraid of light. Amicia equips a torch to fend them off. Rats pose a deadly threat, and through this demo, we see her sneakily avoiding them or leading them feed on guards instead of herself. 

A Plague Tale: Innocence arrives for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on May 14.

Categories: Games

Risk Of Rain 2 Roadmap Outlines Early Access Plans Until Launch

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 04/27/2019 - 02:00
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing Developer: Hopoo Games Release: March 28, 2019 Platform: PC

The recently-released sequel to Risk of Rain came out abruptly last month around PAX East, surprising both fans of the first game and curious newcomers alike. Thanks to a surprising early promotion that gave purchasers a free copy to give to friends, Risk of Rain 2 became surprisingly popular. Now the developers at Hopoo Games are detailing how they plan to proceed with the rest of the game's early access period.

In a post on the game's Steam forums, the developers provided this helpful infographic:

As you can see, they plan for new content for each of their seasonal milestones leading up to the game's release in Spring 2020. The content seems to mostly focus on things like survivors, stages, bosses, and items, which are all kind of the bread and butter of this game, so it makes sense to keep those at the top of the priority list. 

While the game's ratings on Steam are in the "Overwhelmingly Positive" category, the few negatives that are mentioned are usually focused on a lack of content. Of course, the game did just launch in early access, but this sounds like it is laser-targeted at those complaints. In the blog post, the developers even ask fans for feedback on the roadmap should they want the resources applied elsewhere.

Risk of Rain 2 is currently in early access on PC.

Categories: Games

Madden NFL 20 Makes A Recommitment To Franchise Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 23:45

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Tiburon Release: August 2, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

This console generation hasn’t been a great one for fans of sports franchise modes. While the dominant NBA 2K series continues to explore meaningful innovations in the space with new concepts like a GM story mode, persistent injury systems, and deep customization tools for MyLeague, the rest of the sports games have largely sat idle with decaying, dated systems. Madden has been one of the guiltiest parties when it comes to stagnation. Outside of a few scouting and progression updates, EA Tiburon has been largely content to let this mode idle while committing more resources to the lucrative Ultimate Team mode and prestige Longshot story mode. For NFL fans longing for major leap forward in franchise play, if it executes on its concepts Madden NFL 20 could be the first step toward realizing that dream. 

“It's the most interesting year-round sport in my opinion,” says Madden NFL 20 creative director Mike Young. “We care about it all year long, and there are phases of it. [With Madden NFL 20] we want to bring to life the ability to have decisions that can impact your franchise based on how you handle personnel, morale, teammates, and employees. That just wasn't in Madden at all. It felt like a stats management game only.”

To dig Madden’s franchise mode out of its self-dug rut and realize this ambition, Tiburon has brought a group of franchise mode enthusiasts from the community on board, like Franchise Nation’s Andre Weingarten. This strike team works not only to freshen up pre-existing systems like trade logic, free agency, and scouting, but also to help develop the Scenario Engine, Madden 20’s instrument for recreating the dramatic storylines that drive headlines all year round in the NFL.

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Introducing The Scenario Engine

Creating an impactful narrative experience in a franchise mode isn’t as easy as writing a linear story. Though you can use that format to great effect for a shorter experience, franchise modes are dynamic systems that deliver dramatically different results based on the decisions the user makes. You can’t predict what players are going to do, but if you identify the individual elements for a good story, you could conceivably develop a software underpinning that mix and match these elements to generate a series of moments that feel in line with the stories that emerge out of the NFL every week. 

“When we looked all year at storylines like Le'Veon Bell's holdout or Antonio Brown demanding a trade, we really didn't have anything in Madden right now to bring leadership and managing the locker room, and personalities, and cohesiveness that's needed on a football team either from a player perspective or a coaching perspective,” Young says. “The Scenario Engine is intended to create dynamic storylines week to week based on how you're playing, who you are, your record, your stats, and the personalities around you. It fires off stories that could be one-week stories, but there are also several storylines that are branching.”

To achieve this goal, EA Tiburon essentially reverse engineered major and minor storylines from the last seven years, finding compelling scenarios that could challenge players and looking at the inputs that would be necessary to trigger these circumstances in a franchise playthrough. If a star player found out he was placed on the trade block, how would he react? If you cut ties with a future Hall of Famer in favor of a hotshot rookie, what would that do to the locker room? 

Recreating these scenarios required the creation of a personality system that gives the players some degree of agency. Team players like Julian Edelman may be more likely to take roster disruptions and drops in their usage rate in stride, but more volatile personalities may trigger crises that coaches/general managers need to resolve. Some of these may be gameplay based. If a talented receiver like Martavis Bryant is frozen out for three games, he may demand you get him the damn ball. If you don’t, maybe he demands a trade. 

The offseason presents dynamic obstacles to overcome as well. “If you franchise tag a guy, there should be a risk that he'll just retire or demand a trade,” Young says. “You should feel that weight when you are making these choices instead of sorting a spreadsheet and going, 'eh, he's not that good.' There's got to be a risk/reward to this stuff to really make you feel the immersion of it.” If you’re the type of GM who doesn’t like surprises, this may affect how you approach drafting. Maybe you’ll pass on a temperamental player with more potential upside just for the peace of mind knowing that your pick won’t lead a revolt against your leadership.

Madden NFL 20 has several scenarios like that that can arise on the fly and give you player boosts or small goals with meaningful rewards. If your team is struggling, perhaps a locker room leader calls a player’s only meeting that gives a boost to the position group you think needs the most help. If your team has a short week, you can decide to push them to practice to earn some more XP, or give them time off to boost morale. If a young player has a good game, you may trigger a “breakout player scenario” that issues a specific goal for the next game. If you meet it, then the player could earn a dev trait increase mid-season, jumping his trait status from normal to star. 

The Scenario Engine is flexible enough to incorporate more variables as Tiburon sees fit. “One thing we're really excited about is planning to add content throughout the year,” Young says. “This will be the first time we've ever done updates to franchise throughout the season.”

Scheme Fit System Changes

Last year’s major new franchise mode feature was the scheme fit system, a crude and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to replicate the idea that certain players perform and develop better in certain offensive and defensive schemes. Aspiring to capture this dynamic in franchise mode was admirable, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Not all the schemes and their required archetypes were reflective of the real-life teams, and you couldn’t alter the archetypes for specific positions to better fit the scheme you wanted to employ. Making matters worse, star players who were dynamic enough to excel in several schemes wouldn’t receive the scheme fit XP boost if their top-rated skill wasn’t scheme-fit appropriate. This system isn’t going away in Madden NFL 20, but EA Tiburon hopes to smooth over the roughest patches. 

The development team revisited the archetypes associated with schemes from Madden 19 in hopes of providing more flexibility in how teams can be built, and the reduced the XP bonus associated with scheme fits. If a player is not a scheme fit, then their progression will be slightly slower but it will “no longer feel crippling.” I’m not sure this addresses the underlying issue with the system, but we won’t know for sure until we spend more time with it. 

Madden NFL 20 finally brings run-pass option to the game, which also necessitates the creation of some new scheme types. This year’s game introduces three new offensive schemes to the mix. The West Coast Spread is all about keeping defenses on their toes with quick-strike horizontal passes. This attack also opens up running lanes for quarterbacks. The Pistol is a shotgun-based formation that allows attackers to target the weak side of the field with runs or passes. Air Raid is a pass-heavy no-huddle system that requires the quarterback to make quick adjustments at the line of scrimmage. 

Madden 20 also tries to inject more variety into the defensive systems with four new schemes. Coaches who want to slow down attacking offenses can employ the 4-3 Cover 3, which is designed to only allow small gains. Teams who want to pressure the quarterback can try out the 3-4 Storm scheme provided they have speed up front and linebackers who can jump passing routes. Another counter to spread offenses is the 4-3 Quarters, better known as Cover-4. The last new scheme is 3-4 Disguise, which is predicated on confusing the quarterback with symmetrical lineups and disguised concepts. 

Superstar Abilities Embolden The CPU Competition

For too many years, there has been too little player differentiation when playing CPU opponents. Whether you were squaring off against a future hall-of-fame quarterback or a shell-shocked rookie, chances are they would complete a high percentage of short yardage passes and rarely do anything that mimicked the ability of their real-world counterparts. 

“I feel like with franchise, a lot of people just like to play against the CPU and try to crank out Super Bowls and get to the draft and they don't enjoy playing other people, but it felt like week-to-week there wasn't a difference between who you played,” Young admits. “You weren't really that scared about playing Tom Brady and the Patriots.”

This could change with the addition of superstar skills and X-Factor players, which we explore in great depth with this feature. This new pool of more than 70 new abilities isn’t meant to make Madden play like NFL Hitz, but rather accentuate the unique capabilities of the league’s star players. Patrick Mahomes now has unique animations that let him escape the pocket more quickly than his counterparts, as well as new abilities that raise his accuracy throwing on the run and across his body. Tom Brady can diagnose the defense quickly and find the first open target much faster than other quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger has a deadly pump-fake that can disrupt your coverages and spring his receivers open. 

The same goes for the other side of the ball. If EA Tiburon succeeds in its goals with this new system, you won’t be able to simply ignore studs like Khalil Mack or Aaron Donald anymore.

The Future of Franchise Mode

Though I still have questions about the scheme fit system, the Scenario Engine and superstar abilities sound like promising steps in the right direction. But will EA Sports continue down this path moving forward, or reverse course and chase a different feature set next year? That danger always exists with sports titles, but Young says he has no plans to neglect franchise mode next year.

“Franchise has come back to being a big focus on the game and it will continue to be,” Young says. “We just want to add this rich depth and immersion to it so we're starting to think about it more like a sports RPG.”

Madden NFL 20 ships for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 2. To learn more about the game, read our in-depth breakdowns of the superstar skills, our discussion about how EA plans to clean up the gameplay bugs from last year, and the new Face of the Franchise career mode.

Categories: Games

Madden 20's New Ability System Spotlights The League's Superstars

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 23:45

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Tiburon Release: August 2, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The NFL loves its superstars, from team-lifting QBs like Tom Brady to game-changing wide receivers like Antonio Brown, and QB-crunching monsters like Aaron Donald. But Madden hasn't always been able to highlight these kinds of players in ways that not only make them powerful but like they perform in real life.

This year's new Superstar X-Factor feature hopes to address this fact and not only make these players feel like the stars they are, but also influence Madden across its many modes.

"The NFL last year felt like a star-driven league," says creative director Mike Young, "appointment viewing-based TV because you had to see the Rams-Chiefs. You had to see Donald play. You had to see Khalil Mack play."

Young says there's another reason for the new feature: How can the game go beyond ratings? "I think ratings are really good at the measurables," he says, "the combine type stats like speed, but for instance, Tom Brady has never been a great quarterback in Madden. What we've done is try to differentiate the quarterbacks and give them very unique things based on their archetype."

Click here to watch embedded media

Here's how it works: There are around 70 Superstar abilities in the game. Some players have none, some have multiple abilities. These abilities are shaped by real-life players' skills and in-game player archetypes. Thus, you aren't going to see a slower, bruising running back get abilities related to more nimble backs.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The Slot Machine ability gives the receiver better separation at the line and catching ability versus contact for short routes from the slot position. Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has this ability.
  • Pocket QBs like Tom Brady with the Protected ability get more time in the pocket from their offensive linemen engaged in blocks during dropback passes.
  • Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald has The Fearmonger ability. This lets him apply pressure to QBs even when Donald is engaged in a block.
  • Some are dependent on the time and the game and situation. For example, Brady's Clutch ability not only reduces the requirement for him to get in the zone (more on that below), but also makes it impossible for him to be knocked out of the zone halfway through the fourth quarter in a close game.

Most of these abilities have counter-abilities across the line of scrimmage, so that there are no automatic victories on the field, but you obviously want to pay extra attention to these players. To this end, players with superstar abilities will always be marked so everyone knows.

But Superstar abilities are just the start; there are plenty of great players in the league, but there are also those who are a cut above. These are called X-Factor players. X-Factor players have at least two superstar abilities, but they also a zone ability that lets them get into the zone – that state that athletes talk about where their skills are extra heightened. As of the time of this writing, there are about 28 offensive X-Factor players and 22 defensive ones, with no special teamers or offensive linemen among them.

X-Factor players have to play themselves into the zone for their zone ability to activate. For example, if JuJu Smith-Schuster catches four run-after-the-catch (RAC) passes of 20 yards or more, he's in the zone. When he's in the zone he'll usually win single-coverage RAC passes with an animation that gives him an advantage in that situation.

  • When in the zone, Cam Newton's Tackle Breaker ability allows him to frequently break the first tackle attempt against him.
  • Patrick Mahomes' Bazooka ability allows him to throw a maximum of 80 yards when he's in the zone.
  • Tom Brady has a quick read zone ability that highlights the first open receiver with a bigger on-the-field icon.

These zone abilities are powerful, but they can also be "turned off." Brady's quick read zone ability deactivates when either he scores a touchdown or you sack him.

Abilities aren't just in Franchise mode or Play Now, they're usable throughout the game, including Ultimate Team and the new Face of the Franchise mode. This should shake up what players use in Ultimate Team as well as help you further define your QB in Face of the Franchise. In regular CFM, abilities for draft prospects are tied to their development trait. So you'll have to keep an eye on any players with abilities as you are scouting. Then you can draft them and watch them mature and unlock their abilities.

"What we're finding is it's made a lot more teams a lot more interesting to play," says Young. "Right now, people in the office love playing with the Browns... It's hard to say as a Steelers fan, but they are probably one of the cooler teams because they have superstar guys on both sides of the ball."

More Information on Superstar Abilities & X-Factors
  • Additional X-Factor players can be added during the year. The team says it's still figuring out the "cadence" of when that might be. Young says perhaps five times during the year.
    Players may gain or lose X-Factors during the season, but overall EA Tiburon wants to keep around 50 X-Factors total.
     
  • Currently, the most superstar abilities a non-X-Factor player can have is two. X-Factor players have at least two plus their single zone ability. In Face of the Franchise mode, you can have as many as seven abilities. These can be swapped around on your player. These still adhere to an overall archetype so you can't build an overpowered player.
     
  • It might be harder for X-Factor players to get into the zone in the Competitive gameplay style versus arcade, for instance.
     
  • X-Factors and superstar abilities are included in Madden Ultimate Team player items as designated by an additional tab on the player item. Details around these aren't fully known at this point, but Young says you will be able to respec abilities and get some points back. This sounds similar to last year's Power Up items/Training Points.
     
  • Not all the abilities will be widely available. Ex. Roethslisberger has a pump fake ability. He might be one of just two QBs in the whole game with this ability.
     
  • Some players with superstar abilities also have special animations like Aaron Rodgers' throwing on the run from his tiptoes.
     
  • Abilities are highlighted on the field and in pre-play menus so that both sides of the ball can see them. This includes being able to chart how close a player is from getting into the zone.

Madden NFL 20 ships for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 2. To learn more about the game, read about what's new in Franchise mode, the new Face of the Franchise career mode, and how the developer is addressing last year's gameplay issues.

Categories: Games

How Madden 20 Is Addressing Past Gameplay Issues

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 23:45

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Tiburon Release: August 2, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

EA Sports and developer EA Tiburon have just announced Madden NFL 20 (out August 2nd), and while there are some sweet-sounding new features like superstar players and Face of the Franchise mode, fans want to know that the underlying gameplay is fixed. Last year's title was not only buggy at launch and beyond, but there were also plenty of complaints about key aspects like the running game, blocking, and catching.

Although the developer hasn't started talking about specific gameplay changes for Madden 20, creative director Mike Young said, "There is probably going to be a laundry list of things the community would get excited about... I think we did a lot with animations. It's a cleaner and a more bug-free game."

One of the structural things the team did to improve the game this time around was to address bugs and tune gameplay as they went along instead of trying to do it all at the end of development. Young says the game was playable earlier than ever and this has helped them fixed more bugs than previous years.

Young says the shifted development timeline has even resulted in a gameplay feature that is being internally playtested for possible inclusion. The under-wraps feature was first meant to fix a legacy issue, but "actually became a new way to maybe play." Hopefully, the feature makes the beta as planned.

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Madden Gets Modern With The Run-Pass Option

Run-pass option (RPO) plays were conspicuously absent last year, especially on the back of the Eagles further popularizing them on the way to their Super Bowl victory in the 2017-2018 season. At first, RPOs were considered "too big" to include, but Young says it was prototyped, polished, and added to Madden 20.

Young thinks the result is going to be big for the teams that have RPOs in their playbooks. Along with Superstar and X-Factor abilities for the top players, Young believes RPOs are going to give teams multiple strategies to win games, whether that's in your franchise mode team or Ultimate Team.

Speaking of playbooks, Madden 20 won't have a play-creator feature, but they will be updated through the year, and overall Young says they have more variety this year, especially with the RPO.

Madden 20 has a lot on its plate, and fixing its lingering gameplay issues and adding RPOs will hopefully make the game feel and play differently.

Madden NFL 20 ships for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 2. To learn more about the game, read our in-depth breakdowns of the superstar skills, what's new in Franchise mode, and the new Face of the Franchise career mode.

Categories: Games

Madden NFL 20 Debuts New Choice-Driven Career Mode – Face of the Franchise

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 23:45

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Tiburon Release: August 2, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Two years after debuting Longshot, a single-player story mode heavy on cinematics but light on player agency and true Madden gameplay, EA Tiburon went back to the drawing board with its career mode. It was the right call. While well-acted and well-directed, the Longshot story curiously veered too far from the superstar storylines that captivate football fans to instead focus on the trials and tribulations of simply cracking an NFL roster. While it makes for some interesting, honest moments about how hard it is to realize the dream of suiting up on Sunday, this isn’t the power fantasy most people want to experience in a career mode. With Madden NFL 20’s new career mode, Face of the Franchise: QB1, the focus shifts to a football dream fans can better relate with – becoming a dominant starting quarterback.

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Face of the Franchise essentially plays out like the stories in NBA 2K’s popular career mode. Early on, the mode delivers story beats via cinematics in-between actual on-field games where your stick skills define the direction of your career. After the prologue of your NFL career plays out, the narrative focus shifts from a reliance on cinematics to a more dynamic story delivered mostly via branching dialogue. During this phase, the mode looks at your accomplishments (or failures) and builds a story around them. "Choice is so important, and that's probably the key differentiator between a Longshot and this,” says Madden NFL 20 creative director Mike Young. “This is about personalization."

Here’s a breakdown of how Face of the Franchise: QB1 plays out: 

Write Your College Legend

Unlike Longshot hero Devin Wade, your journey doesn’t start under the Friday Night Lights. Instead, you are the unheralded backup quarterback of a college powerhouse who gets thrust into a starting role during the College Football Playoff, a similar situation to the one Cardale Jones found himself in with Ohio State during the 2014 season. 

After customizing your face and choosing one of the three voices available for your character, you can pick one of 10 colleges in the game – Clemson, Florida, Florida St., LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Texas Tech, or USC. Then the hard work of building up your draft grade begins.  

Before your high-pressure debut, reporters pepper you with questions. When they ask which NFL legend you look up to, your choice will lay the foundation for your quarterback archetype. When they ask you how your high-school teammates would describe you, it helps define your personality type.

If you flame out in the first playoff game, you can kiss your dreams of being a first-round pick behind. Lead your program to the national championship with a commanding performance, however, and your draft stock naturally rises. 

Participate In The Underwear Olympics

Once the playoff run is complete, your gunslinger heads to the NFL Combine, where you must perform a series of drills and answer some tough questions from NFL GMs. Combined with your on-field performance, your numbers in the Underwear Olympics and how you conduct yourself with league decision-makers will determine where in the draft you are likely to land. “It's about immersing you in the 2019 draft class, so we want to make it feel like you are competing right now next to Kyler Murray and Drew Lock,” Young says. “You'll get cameos from them throughout the story.” 

Your performance in college and the combine will land you anywhere from a high first-rounder, low first-rounder, mid-rounder, or late-round pick. Sorry Kurt Warner fans, you can’t go undrafted. Even if you chuck enough pick-sixes to set the college single-game record and post a Jared Lorenzen-esque 40-time, some wayward team will still see you as a diamond in the rough. Maybe John Elway has you circled on his cheat sheet...

Draft Day Drama

After the combine whirlwind wraps up, it’s time for the NFL draft. If you’re projected to be a high first-round pick, you don your most stylish outfit and head to the NFL Draft. Sorry, fashion aficionados, EA opted against giving you control over your off-field wardrobe à la FIFA's Alex Hunter, but the good news is you have more gear options than previous years. Sadly, tattoos are still noticeably absent.

During the draft, you will rub shoulders with other highly touted prospects like Joey Bosa on the red carpet. If you aren’t a highly touted pick, you miss the pageantry and watch the draft on TV with your agent by your side.

However your draft day experience plays out, don’t expect to end up on a team that already has an established young star on the roster – you won’t be unseating Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. “We tried to make it really realistic and reflective of the teams that actually need quarterbacks that might draft you,” Young says.

If you don’t like the team that drafted you, EA said there's a way to strongarm your way to your ideal team. 

Crack The Starting Lineup

Once you crack an NFL roster, then the journey transitions from a heavy dose of cutscenes to a branching dialogue system similar to NBA Live 19’s The One mode. “Unlike a Longshot, this is meant to be about you getting into the league, and then handing it off to our new Scenario Engine where the story doesn't stop,” Young says.

Once you’re in the league, the Scenario Engine (which also powers connected franchise mode in Madden 20) takes over to deliver storylines that may be new each week or extend into the season. You interact with a wide assortment of people, from coaches and teammates to trainers and reporters. Not all of your conversations are peachy. If a stud receiver is being starved for touches, he’ll tell you to get him the damn ball next week. You get to decide the number of touches you promise for the next week, and if you don’t meet that threshold, his morale will take a hit. If it drops enough, depending on his personality he may request a trade. This is just one example of the types of storylines that can play out. 

“During the whole first season, it's going to feel like there is a storyline, and the hope is that everyone will feel like they had a different storyline, both by how they played in Face of the Franchise mode, or just the different decisions, and their record, and who is on their team will trigger different events throughout the season," Young says.

Other players may challenge you to rise to their level during the course of your career as well, which could allow you to earn one of their superstar abilities, a new feature in Madden NFL 20. Think of these like interchangeable skill powers you can swap in and out depending on the game scenario. Some give you straight up ability, like the Bazooka skill that lets you throw up to 80 yards in the air when you’re in the zone. Others are more about being a savvy field general, like the Hot Route Master skill that gives you four additional hot routes to choose while making pre-play adjustments. You can earn up to seven superstar abilities in Face of the Franchise, allowing you to experiment with the skills that best match your play style. 

Click here to watch embedded media

“It's not about getting to 99 [OVR] anymore, it's about trying different loadouts,” Young says. “It's a lot more like an action/adventure game where you're unlocking different abilities and maybe this one suits the way you play more and it's what you like."

Occasionally during your career, you will be asked tough questions from reporters. Coming off a loss, an ink-stained wretch may ask, “who let you down tonight, your coach or offensive line?” If you take the Aaron Rodgers route and criticize your coach. your coach will lose confidence in you but your line will get a boost for the next game. If you take the Jay Cutler route and throw the line under the bus, they'll play worse the next game but your relationship with your coach may improve. 

Overcome these seasonal obstacles and put up strong numbers, and you may earn a spot in the Pro Bowl, which finally returns to Madden this year. Since the career mode runs on the Connected Franchise Mode system, you can play up to 15 seasons and write your NFL legacy, with new scenarios popping up throughout your career. 

If you aren’t interested in being a signal caller and would rather play another position, Madden NFL 20 makes that option available to you as well. You won’t have the college, combine, or draft day experience going that route, but the Scenario Engine will still sprinkle story threads throughout your career.

Madden NFL 20 ships for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 2. To learn more about the game, read our in-depth breakdown of the superstar abilities, proposed fixes to gameplay issues, and franchise mode changes.

Categories: Games

BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! Review - Hip To Be Square

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 14:00

The charming simplicity of BoxBoy, a series now four games deep, is right there in the character design. Qbby, the eponymous BoxBoy, has four corners, two dot eyes, and two legs. Qucy, who is newly playable in this game across both single-player and co-op, is the same design but with a big bow on her head. The BoxBoy games are lean and minimalist--this Switch version has some details in the background and a bit more color, but otherwise retains the 3DS series' visual simplicity. It's focused on giving you a dozen hours of fun and a bunch of puzzles that won't break your brain. They're not the kind of puzzle games you need to obsess over or master and BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! follows this trend, although its new co-op mode demands a slightly higher level of engagement.

As with previous games in the series, BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! tasks you with solving puzzles by growing boxes out of yourself and using them to pass obstacles. In each level you're given a limit for how many boxes you can grow, which will change what sort of structures you can build and use. For example, if your limit is 2 boxes you can only build a small vertical or horizontal stack, but if you have a limit of 3 or more you can push out two horizontal boxes and one vertical to form a step, and then potentially keep building from there.

With your blocks you can bridge gaps, block lasers, protect yourself from spikes, activate switches, and more. As both the single-player and co-op campaigns progress, you unlock new abilities. You can push yourself off the ground with a vertical stack and hop along, hanging off the side of it; you can fire your blocks across the screen; you can form a 'hook' with your blocks and use it to pull yourself up to a higher level. These skills and others are introduced gradually, and their applications are made immediately clear before their potential uses are stretched out over the levels that follow. The worlds you play through, which group levels together, are typically themed around specific obstacles and abilities, and towards the end of the game you'll face levels that will ask you to combine the numerous different skills you've learned. None of them are particularly difficult, but sleuthing through all your different options and figuring out the best way forward is satisfying.

BoxBoy! + BoyGirl! Is the biggest game in the series, featuring 270 levels across three different campaigns, though there is some repetition in puzzle motifs. Alongside single-player and co-op, there's also an unlockable mode featuring Qudy, a rectangular box person who can turn himself sideways and make boxes that are either tall or long depending on his orientation. Qudy's quest is a fun extra, and the developers find some cool ways to work his oblong shape into puzzles. Maneuvering his lanky frame through each level is an interesting new challenge, although he's given fewer exciting abilities than his other box pals.

It's the co-op mode that represents the biggest shake-up in BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!, as two players can team up to solve puzzles that require BoxBoy and BoxGirl to work together. Each character has their own box limit and will often need to perform different tasks in different parts of the level to benefit one another. The extremely simple controls mean that you can comfortably play with one Joy-Con each (which is good because there's no online play), and good communication is essential so that you can share ideas and puzzle through scenarios together.

The puzzles are easy enough that less experienced players won't come up against too many challenges--two series veterans will likely breeze through the campaign, although they'll have a good time doing so. Brilliantly, you can also play the whole co-op campaign alone, switching between the two characters. Features like this usually don't work so well in games built specifically for co-op, but it's a good fit for these puzzles, which never require simultaneous action from both boxes. With some of Bye-Bye BoxBoy's more inventive elements--such as different block types--having sadly been dropped, co-op is far and away the biggest highlight that this entry brings to the series.

You earn two different currency when you complete levels, one of which can be spent on various bonuses--challenge levels, music to listen to, mostly unnecessary 'assist' items and lousy 'comic' panels--while the other can be spent on cute costumes and in-level hints. You can unlock more of each type of currency by completing levels with as few boxes as possible and by collecting the crowns that pop up in each of them, which represents the game's greatest challenge.

Collecting crowns is inessential to your progress, and the extra currency they earn you isn't particularly important--it builds up fast just by completing levels--but I still found myself instinctively trying to collect all of them. Sometimes the crown placement will be unimaginative, requiring little effort to nab. But often you'll need to think outside the box (pardon the pun) and really ponder how you can use your boxes within the environment, and puzzle through uses for your abilities you had not considered, to reach them. Grabbing the crowns is frequently more rewarding than just finishing the level, although if you want to tick off your other objective and finish the level with few blocks used, it's often best to ignore the crowns, meaning that completionists might want to run through many levels twice.

In some ways, this game feels like a reintroduction to the series, which is fair, since it's BoxBoy's Switch debut. If you've played the previous BoxBoy games, you know what you're getting here--it's more of the same, but with a cool new co-op mode and the minor twist to the format that Qudy introduces. That's enough--BoxBoy has always been a light snack of a game, and it remains a great game to slowly chip away at when you're not in the mood for anything too taxing. For newcomers, it's a great entry point into the series, and a good low-stakes puzzle game to relax with. While Bye-Bye BoxBoy! remains the pinnacle of the series, BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is a more than worthy entry.

Categories: Games

Days Gone Review - Hog Mild

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 13:01

This review contains minor spoilers about mission structure and overall story direction. There are no spoilers for major narrative moments.

Around 10 hours into Days Gone, you're thrown into a hunting tutorial apropos of nothing. The over-the-top libertarian character takes you out with a rifle and shows you how to track a deer, although you've already had a tracking tutorial. You're then tasked with getting more meat for you and your buddy because your supply is running low, something you never have to do again. You also don't cook or eat; you can only donate meat to camps around the map to earn a negligible amount of trust and money with them. After a little while, even stopping to get meat off wolves that attacked you doesn't seem worth it.

Like many things in Days Gone, hunting exists just to be there, an idea that is picked up and then abandoned at random. Unlike hunting, some of those ideas are even good in the moment. But most aspects of Days Gone lack purpose. Its many narrative threads flirt with being meaningful and interesting but never quite commit, with characters whose actions and motivations don't make sense. Riding a souped-up motorcycle through the world and taking out zombie nests and hordes is satisfying in the way that completing open-world checklists often is, but by the end, you're left to wonder what the point of it all was.

The first act of the game--about 20 hours or so--sets up quite a few narrative arcs. Two years after the initial "Freaker" outbreak, biker buddies Deacon St. John and Boozer have become drifters doing odd jobs for nearby survivor camps and keeping mostly to themselves. Deacon's wife, Sarah, had been stabbed at the very beginning of the outbreak; Deacon put her on a government helicopter bound for a refugee camp so she could get medical attention, but when he and Boozer arrived, the camp has been overrun by Freaks, and Sarah had apparently died. Deacon is understandably not coping with it well. Boozer suggests riding north and leaving the memories behind, but Deacon's bike breaks down and is subsequently looted for parts, so one of your main goals is to earn trust and credits at the nearby camps in order to rebuild your motorcycle.

The motorcycle is central to everything you do in Days Gone. Getting anywhere, including by fast travel, requires your bike, and if you want to save while out in the world, you better be right next to it. Getting off your bike is a matter of both your entrance and your exit; you need to stop far enough away from enemies so they don't hear you coming, but you also need to be able to run to your bike quickly if things go south and you need to escape. And, as you're sneaking past Freakers to loot things like bandages and ammo, you also need to be on the lookout for a gas can and some scrap metal to keep your bike in top shape--if it breaks down or runs out of gas, you're basically screwed. That said, gas and other loot do regenerate if you leave and return to a location, so you'll never truly run out of anything so long as you put in the time to look for it.

At the beginning, you do jobs for two camps: Copeland's conspiracy theorist stronghold and Tucker's hellish forced-labor camp. Copeland's has a mechanic capable of upgrading your bike, while Tucker's has a well-stocked weapons merchant. Your starter junk bike gets about a mile per gallon, and you can't store a gas can on your bike or your person, so you either have to return to a camp to fuel up or constantly scrounge for gas cans out in Freaker territory. This makes wandering around and doing things in the open world frustrating at first, so you do a lot of throwaway missions for the two camps to start.

Many of these early missions consist of cookie-cutter bounty-hunting and rescue jobs in which you go to a place, track a person using your apparently psychic Survival Vision to highlight footprints and other clues, and then kill some bandits or Freakers. Some of these require you to take the target alive, which often means chasing them on your bike and shooting at their tires with your pistol. If you happen to run out of gas or ammo, or if your bike is already weak and breaks down after a couple of bumpy turns, you auto-fail these missions and have to start over. You also accelerate with R2 and shoot with R1, which, while not horrible, is clunky and awkward.

One early scene involving a drug thief kicks off a series of missions like these that, once completed, has no bearing on the rest of the game despite initial appearances; once you track down the stolen drugs you have to choose which camp to return them to, but there are no consequences either way, and then the situation is dropped entirely. The only result is getting some trust and credits with one of the camps--I chose Copeland simply because I wanted money for a better fuel tank. A lot of the story missions going forward, as you discover a third, more narratively relevant camp, follow the same structures as these earlier missions. But the focus on Tucker and Copeland specifically amounts to hours of nothing in the grand scheme of the story. Tucker's forced labor doesn't come back to bite anyone, and while Tucker and Copeland don't seem to like each other, doing work for one camp doesn't affect your relationship with the other. Once you get to the third camp, Lost Lake, Tucker and Copeland cease to matter at all, not least because Lost Lake has both a better mechanic and better weapons.

Once you upgrade your bike a bit, though, the world opens up. No longer bound by low gas mileage and a weak arsenal, you can head further out and more handily take on enemy-controlled areas around the map. You clear ambush camps by killing everyone present and eliminate Freaker infestation zones by burning all their nests. In addition to trust and credits, clearing an ambush camp nets you resources to loot, a map of the area, and a new fast travel point; destroying an infestation zone allows you to fast travel in the area. Unlocking the map and neutralizing threats is satisfying in the way that cleaning up clutter bit by bit is, and you can see your work pay off in your bike's upgrades. However, there's little variety between each ambush camp and infestation zone, and they get repetitive early--especially because Deacon dry-heaves and whines about the nests smelling horrible at each one.

The real motivation to do all of this is twofold. Early on in the game, Deacon's best friend Boozer is attacked by a group of Rippers, a doomsday cult with a number of bizarre rituals. The Rippers singe a tattoo off Boozer's arm and leave him with third-degree burns, so Deacon's purpose in life is to keep Boozer alive and healthy. This mostly involves finding sterile bandages and the one mission where you gather meat for him. On top of that, though, Deacon sees a helicopter belonging to the government agency NERO, which had been involved in the initial relief effort, flying overhead. That gives Deacon a bit of hope that Sarah might still be alive, since he'd put her on a NERO helicopter after she was stabbed, so you start stalking the NERO soldiers and scientists to investigate further.

There are a number of flashbacks to Deacon's relationship with Sarah before the outbreak, bolstered by his hope that she's alive. They're largely awkward cutscenes interspersed with short sections of walking slowly while Sarah and Deacon talk about surface-level topics, and they don't ever provide a convincing reason why they're together. Deacon is a biker and Sarah is a "nice girl" scientist, which is fine, but "opposites attract" isn't enough to make their relationship compelling. It's romantic in that Deacon hasn't given up on Sarah, but the main takeaway from the flashbacks is that they're physically attracted to each other and that Deacon doesn't talk about his feelings.

The NERO arc is where things really pick up. Spying on the NERO scientists consists of insta-fail stealth missions. They can be frustrating before you unlock abilities to improve your stealth skills, but the conversations you overhear are legitimately interesting and answer questions that other zombie fiction often neglects. For example, you learn from one eavesdropping on a scientist studying Freaker scat that they eat more than just other people and each other--they also eat plants, and that means they're not going to starve any time soon (like in 28 Days Later). Deacon quickly gets in contact with a NERO researcher who uses government resources to track down what might have happened to Sarah. Even though their relationship is confusing, it is a tempting mystery.

Abandoned Nero medical units and research sites contain more small details, including recorders that play snippets of scenes--a scientist studying a Freaker specimen, the moment a camp got overrun, or just banter between soldiers. Getting inside a unit is a matter of refueling the generator, making sure to find and disable every speaker nearby so the noise doesn't attract Freakers. Finding each speaker can be a bit tricky at certain sites, which makes the moment you turn the power on more exciting and the realization that you're in the clear more of a relief. And in addition to satisfying your curiosity, you're also given the more tangible reward of an injector that improves your health, stamina, and bullet-time-like focus ability.

As you learn more about NERO and the Freakers, you're introduced to new, more powerful types of Freaks, including a berserker and an all-female variant that screams to attract more Freaks your way. They don't really provide new challenges so much as slow you down, and they feel like a stopgap measure to tide you over until the first horde-based mission around 40 hours into the game. That first horde mission is exhilarating--running around while using tight spaces and molotovs to keep the horde off you, eventually taking out hundreds of Freakers, is a well-earned victory. But that mission is followed very quickly by another one, and after a short break, you have two more nearly back-to-back horde missions that lead up to the end of the main story. Without any breathing room, the hordes are exhausting to deal with, and you'll likely have to stop everything to loot and rebuild your stockpile of resources after each one just so you can progress.

Ultimately, though, Days Gone isn't about NERO or Sarah or the Freakers. It's about Deacon, and what he wants is what matters. Narrative threads are dropped as soon as Deacon no longer has a use for them. Copeland and Tucker only matter until Deacon gets to a camp that has better supplies. Boozer's health is only important because it's Deacon's reason for living. Even the fascinating little details about the Freakers are useless to Deacon, who only cares about Sarah--but not what Sarah wants or needs, just that his "ol' lady" might be alive somewhere. Every character is seen through this Deacon-focused lens, and as a result, they're two-dimensional.

Deacon is selfish, and it's simply boring that the game is uncritical of him.

Deacon does not learn anything over the course of the game, and the story is concerned with validating his actions and feelings above all else. When one character urges him not to kill anyone in cold blood, Deacon "proves" that murder is better than mercy. As Boozer nearly breaks through to Deacon about learning to let go, Deacon learns something new about NERO and clings to his hope even harder. Deacon also has a policy where he doesn't kill unarmed women, which does not affect the story in any way and goes completely unexamined. There's no introspection here; Deacon is selfish, and it's simply boring that the game is uncritical of him.

I did a lot of things in Days Gone. I burned every single Freaker nest; I cleared every ambush camp; I maxed out my bike; I took out a few optional hordes just because. Like Deacon with Sarah, I kept going because I hoped to find something, to follow a thread to a possibly fascinating or satisfying or impactful conclusion. But at the end of it all, I'd only gotten scraps.

Categories: Games

Mortal Kombat 11 Makes Difficulty Adjustments To Towers Of Time

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 04/25/2019 - 02:50
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: April 23, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

After hearing complaints about the progression system in Mortal Kombat 11, especially how difficult it is to complete the time-limited Towers of Time, NetherRealm promised the other day to make behind-the-scenes adjustments to fix these issues. Today, in a release day Kombat Kast, they detailed exactly what that means.

To begin with, enemy health, which can often be 10x what your character has, will be lowered to be a lot more achievable. Modifiers that shoot in from the background, like missiles, will be blockable and fire off less often. They are still looking into the frequency and value of rewards and will make various adjustments to that over time. Overall, the difficulty is lower for this mode, but they still want it to feel hard, just not as if the game is cheating you out of a victory.

NetherRealm does stay firm on the idea that they do not ever want to sell anything that can affect gameplay and they are not going to sell anything to unlock chests in the krypt. In addition, all players will be getting a stimulus package containing 500,000 coins, 1000 souls, and 1000 time krystals, the latter of which is used to buy premium outfits. That update will be out later this week.

You can find our review of Mortal Kombat 11 right here and read our argument for why NetherRealm should allow custom variations into the game's ranked mode.

Categories: Games

Super Mario Maker 2 Launches On June 28

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 23:20
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo Release: June 2019 Platform: Switch

Nintendo took to Twitter today to announce that Super Mario Maker 2, the sequel to the Wii U's Mario creation suite, will be arriving in late June. This means you can go through E3 without worrying that Super Mario Maker 2 will be distracting the entire industry.

Let’s-a go! Let your imagination run wild as you make and play the Super Mario courses of your dreams when #SuperMarioMaker2 launches for #NintendoSwitch on 6/28! https://t.co/TnK9rQwRJi pic.twitter.com/eSJfb7JSPj

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) April 24, 2019

It is a little odd to suddenly drop the date for the game out of nowhere without actually saying much about the game yet. We know that Super Mario Maker 2 contains slopes, very likely has multiplayer, probably has Toadette, has a 3D World skin, and it's hard to really know for sure what else. Hopefully Nintendo will find the time to detail the rest at some point before release.

On the plus side, Super Mario Maker 2 is the next major Switch game out, so now we have a release date for it.

Categories: Games

Starlink Coming To PC, More Star Fox Content Coming To Switch Soon

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 22:40
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Toronto Release: October 16, 2018 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch

It has only been a few weeks since Ubisoft's Starlink team announced that, in light of the game's low sales, they wouldn't be producing any more new toys for the game's toys-to-life lite title. But it's not like Ubisoft to give up on a game when they could keep it alive, so Starlink will still get supported in the future, and we have more of an idea of what that support will look like now.

As was announced at a previous Nintendo Direct, the next Switch-exclusive piece of Starlink content is more Star Fox-related missions, this time centering around a story of Star Fox's teammates pursuing the rest of Star Wolf's team. This is part of the Crimson Moon expansion, which has more than just Star Fox content. You can check out a trailer for that it below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Crimson Moon as a whole is a free update, including new racing tracks, faction story missions, and a coliseum. There will also be a paid component of pilots, ships, and weapons along with the update. Including the Star Fox part, which is obviously exclusive to Switch, that will cost $11.99 as DLC. The updates arrive on the same day next week on April 30.

In addition, Ubisoft is bringing Starlink to PC. While the game is perfectly playable without the physical toys, if you already own the controller attachment from either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 versions, that will be compatible with the PC. The PC version will have all the content of the console versions, Star Fox aside, and will also launch on April 30 alongside the Crimson Moon update.

Categories: Games

Tamarin, A Spiritual Sequel To Jet Force Gemini, Announced From Former Rare Developers

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 21:05
Publisher: Chameleon Games Developer: Chameleon Games Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

Remember Jet Force Gemini, Rare's 1999 N64 shooter that commands a small but dedicated base of fans? It turns out some other people remember the game, too! Chameleon Games, which self-describes as being made up of "golden era" ex-Rare employees, is looking to recapture that spirit with the announcement of a new and surprisingly similar game called Tamarin.

You can check out the reveal trailer for the game below.

Click here to watch embedded media

You can see a lot of Jet Force Gemini's influences in the game, like the exact same design for the bug monsters and the fundamental shooting and exploration segments. I have my doubts that the Jet Force Gemini market is actually all that huge, but I'm pretty impressed by how directly they seem to just be going for it. That artstyle, though. It is very 1990s Rare, at least.

The game also features music from David Wise, who is most recently best known for his work on the stellar soundtrack for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

Tamarin is announced for PlayStation 4 and PC and launching this summer.

Categories: Games

Overwatch Introduces Workshop For Custom Game Rules And Scripting

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 19:15
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: May 24, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

In the newest Overwatch developer update, Blizzard vice president Jeff Kaplan took to the traditional video camera motif to announce the newest feature coming to their premiere competitive shooter called Overwatch Workshop. The new mode is a scripting program that lets players essentially futz with the game's modifiable code to create things and even go as far as to edit their heroes to their liking.

Check out the video explanation below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The mode will include some pre-built examples for players to open up and look at, such as a Floor-Is-Lava mode called Molten Floor. Kaplan warns that this mode is intended mostly for programmers and enthusiasts, which he collectively calls power users, that like looking at tinkering with code. However, Workshop does come with its own debugger that will run through the custom modes and explain why things are or are not happening.

Even if you're not well-versed in programming, Blizzard is hoping that this gets people who might be interested in exploring game logic into the idea of video game development, perhaps even realizing they can do this themselves. This isn't a map creator, as players will not be able to edit geometry or anything like that, but it is a small tool to get people interested in tweaking Overwatch variables themselves.

The Workshop is now currently being tested on the PTR and everything made there will be able to be moved to the final release.

Categories: Games

Persona 5: The Royal Coming To North America Next Year

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 17:31
Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release: April 4, 2017 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3

Atlus has been teasing Persona 5: The Royal for the last little while, and now we finally have a better idea on what you can expect from the upcoming, upgraded version of the JRPG.

The Royal brings several new features to the game, such as new Phantom Thief Kasumi Yoshizawa, a confidant named Takuto Maruki who works at Shujin Academy as a counselor, and a new location called Kichijoji. This expansion will take place during the third trimester of school.

The Phantom Thieves are back.https://t.co/PIifoSigg1 pic.twitter.com/tbVkHN8vXk

— Atlus U.S.A., Inc. (@AtlusUSA) April 24, 2019

Furthermore, in Atlus' newest Japanese trailer for The Royal, some other additions are teased. These include an aquarium (a new dating location), and a bar where you can play darts and pool. Polygon reports that selfies through the in-game texting system will be possible, new storylines for Caroline and Justine are coming, and new enemies will also be introduced in The Royal.

Click here to watch embedded media

Persona 5: The Royal arrives in Japan as of October 31st. In the West (and Asia), fans have a bit longer to wait, with an expected release at some point in 2020.

Read our review of Persona 5 here.

Categories: Games

Thinblood Possibilities

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 17:00
Publisher: Paradox Interactive Developer: Hardsuit Labs Release: 2020 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

It still feels moderately strange that a Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 is happening at all, so each new bit of information comes as a bit of a surprise. In this case, Paradox Interactive has information about the thinblood disciplines your fledgling vampire chooses from at the start of the game.

The thinbloods are freshly turned and weaker vampires that are having a harder time in the new world of darkness than full bloods are. However, because Seattle has only recently come under Camarilla control, thinbloods can rise to the top with a little opportunity and luck. Check out the animated cinematic, which contains more rat eating than you might be comfortable with, introducing the thinbloods below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The three thinblood disciplines players pick from at the beginning are Chiropteran, Mentalism, and Nebulation. The much more detailed information comes from Paradox right here:

Chiropteran - Strong affinity for bats, allowing vampires to move through the air and summon swarms.

  • Glide — Greatly lower the weight of the player character's skeleton and muscle mass and create an updraft to briefly float in the air; gliding into an NPC will knock them down. This can be upgraded to allow the player to swoop down on NPCs while gliding above them.
  • Bat Swarm — Summon a small swarm of bats to attack target NPC, temporarily disabling them and dealing low damage. Bat Swarm can be upgraded with a Pheromone discipline that increases its duration, as well as with a Maelstrom of leathery wings that surrounds the player and damages any enemies that come too close.

Mentalism - Use telekinesis to manipulate objects and even allows the vampire to pull weapons from enemy hands.

  • Pull — Manipulate target inanimate objects using telekinesis. The range of Pull can also be upgraded.
  • Levitate — Pull target NPC to the player and telekinetically suspend them in the air for a brief period. The strength of this discipline can be upgraded, allowing the player to levitate all NPCs and objects around their target, and even throw them around like ragdolls. 

Nebulation - Allows the vampire to summon and command mist.

  • Mist Shroud — Summon a shroud of mist that surrounds the player for a short period. The shroud muffles the sound of footsteps and reduces the range at which the player can be seen. In addition, the player may fully transform into a cloud of mist to perform a choking attack on an NPC or travel through a tight space, like a ventilation fan or duct. Mist Shroud can be upgraded to increase its power as well.
  • Envelop — Create a stationary, swirling cloud of mist on a target that surrounds, blinds and forcefully enters the lungs of the first NPC that it touches. This discipline can be upgraded to increase its reach and area of effect. 

Players can eventually join fullblood clans down the line, each with their own disciplines and abilities for you to eventually raise your character up to. Paradox plans to detail those clans within the upcoming weeks.

Categories: Games

Five Reasons Planet Zoo Is Promising

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:58

Planet Zoo is an upcoming management sim by Frontier Developments, the company behind Planet Coaster. We recently got to watch a 15 minute demo of the game in action and came away rather impressed by Frontier's ambitions and the promise of their take on running a zoo and caring for its animals.

Here's why we're excited to play the game when it releases this Fall.

The Developer Knows The Genre Well

If you haven't played Planet Coaster, but loved management sims like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon, you should give it a go. Frontier Developments showcased the it knows how to bring the park sim into the next generation by striking a fine balance between meticulous management and wacky shenanigans, and we look forward to seeing the result with Planet Zoo.

The Animals Are Impressive

The occupants of your zoo are more than just units you have to care for. Frontier is working hard to make sure each individual animal stands out, with genomes affecting major things like behavior to small details such as coat patterns. Every species of animal reacts realistically to their real-world counterpart, with wolves following a pack mentality while other species might just go off and do their own thing.

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The Management Side Of The Game Is Strong

You'll need to do more than feed your animals to take care of them. Every animal has different needs you'll need to respond to in some fashion. Do you have a zoo in the desert? You'll need to build cooling pads beneath the floor of your timberwolves' den (not to mention power generators) to accommodate them as well as shelters for your lions to hide in during storms. Hippos will need deeper ponds than other species so they can swim and bathe, and so on. There's more than enough here to keep nitty gritty management fanatics excited.

The Game Looks Beautiful

Whether you're watching everyone explore your park from a distance or you're zoomed into a patch of fur on one of your lions, everything looks realistic and colorfully vibrant. The visuals here really pop everywhere you look.

A Story Mode

One of the biggest criticisms directed at Planet Coaster was the lack of a substantial campaign or story mode. Frontier Developments wouldn't go into details about what Planet Zoo's story mode is about but the developer did say there would be one, which will hopefully delight those in search of a narrative reason to become the best zookeeper possible.

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Categories: Games

Apes A-Poppin'

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 01:50
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Arc System Works Release: January 26, 2018 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

A very, very short trailer for Dragon Ball FighterZ's next character has appeared, showing off Dragon Ball GT Kid Goku's super attacks. These attacks include his transformations, including the either maligned-or-loved Super Saiyan 4 Goku.

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For his level 1 super, Goku goes Super Saiyan 3 for a short blast, but his stronger super turns him into the adult and decidedly hairier Super Saiyan 4. This form has been more or less scratched out of canon, but so has Super Saiyan Bardock and we saw that super move a billion times during Evo last year. Maybe non-canon moves will just end up being stronger for some reason.

The newest Goku to join the roster lands on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on May 9.

Categories: Games

Anthem Fixes Major Problems, Delays Everything Else

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 00:35
Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

I am not sure if it has been a bumpy road for Anthem or not. It seems like it crested the hill it needed to crest and then just sort of stalled after that. Bioware has promised to fix the major complaints about their multiplayer shooter as soon as possible and, at least as far as today's update goes, some of that is true.

The 1.1.0 patch released today makes some much-needed quality of life changes to the game, namely having to do with how often you need to go back to Fort Tarsis or the launch bay. You can now select contracts from the mission board without needing to physically be in front of the mission board, and you can also choose a new mission right from the end of the mission you just finished. Perhaps most crucially, you now possess the ability to access the Forge during missions, strongholds and freeplay. 

So that's all good! Unfortunately, it looks like the roadmap for the future is going to take a little while longer in the meantime. On the game's subreddit, Bioware's head of live services Chad Robertson and Anthem's lead producer Ben Irving wrote that a detour is being taken at the moment.

"While we have delivered many of the Act 1 features on time, we are not going to hit all the goals on our Act 1 Calendar," the two said in the subreddit post. "We have been prioritizing things like bug fixes, stability and game flow over the new features of Act 1. We set aside time for this work, but the reality is there are more things to fix and improve than we planned for. While this is the best thing to do for the game, it means some items from the calendar will be delayed."

That list of what will be delayed includes a few freeplay events, the second phase of legendary missions, guilds, the weekly stronghold challenge, leaderboards, the mastery system, and Cataclysms, the expansion-style content meant to come out every so often. It is not a small list. Bioware says that, when they have information on when these things will come, they will release it.

Anthem is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

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