Atlus Releases Information On Pre-order Bonuses For New Title

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 20:38
Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release: June 4, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: 3DS

Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth was released in Japan on November 29 of last year. After months of speculation, Atlus has announced a June 4 western release date for the 3DS. Like its prequel, Q2 contains a satisfying dose of crossovers: characters from Persona 3 (including the female heroine from the portable edition), Persona 4, and Persona 5 unite to combat movie-themed scenarios. 

The story itself follows the phantom thieves from Persona 5 as they find themselves subdued within dungeons inspired by vast selections of cinematic genres. Additionally, filmic parodies will add moments of lightheartedness to the game and new characters will make appearances. 

According to an IGN report, Atlus has plans to release a $69.99 Showtime Premium Edition that includes exclusive merchandise, such as a Q2 art book and playing cards among other cool collectibles. Pre-ordered standard editions, listed at $49.99, will include protagonist-themed buttons.

Details on the game’s upcoming release are still limited, but, for now, check out our favorable review on its prequel, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. 

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[Source: IGN]

Categories: Games

Fighting The Storm In Civ's Next Expansion

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 15:00

Publisher: 2K Games Developer: Firaxis Games Release: February 14, 2019 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PC

If militaristic empires and the race to evade dark ages weren’t difficult enough, Civilization VI adds a challenging new system in its upcoming Gathering Storm expansion: weather. We got to play a preview build of the game and see firsthand just how ravaging the new climate system can be.

I start a new campaign as Russia, promising myself that I’ll be a generous and science-driven ruler. China is the first civilization to find me, so after introducing myself to Emperor Qin Shi Huang, trade begins between our two budding nations. They even get my only Great Work, as a show of goodwill.

What starts as a prosperous alliance quickly devolves into a revenge campaign after China launches a surprise war, wresting my capital city, St. Petersburg, away from me. Thankfully, I’d invested in a settler who founds my new capital Yaroslavl in a nearby floodplain just one turn before St. Petersburg’s occupation.

Prior to the expansion, floodplains were restricted to desert tiles, but in Gathering Storm, floodplains can exist anywhere there is a river. There’s a degree of risk to establishing Yarolsavl so close to the water – natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions are common in the expansion – but smart players will learn how to take advantage of this new geography. Players can build new dam districts to mitigate flood damage and add more housing to their cities. Building a city near a volcano nets you a point of Era Score, which will help keep you out of a dark age. And if the volcano erupts, it might destroy your tiles, but like flooding, the volcanic soil left behind increases your crops’ yields.

“Players are going to find their comfort level with natural disasters,” says franchise lead Ed Beach. “Initially there was a lot of concern with adding a system like that… So we put a lot of effort into making [natural disasters] feel a lot better and having the risk/reward be nicely balanced.”

These risks and rewards are quickly apparent. Building Yaroslavl on the floodplain might lead to destruction, but floods also fertilize my tiles, increasing the farming yield once I rebuild. And flood it does. Shortly after building my city, waters rise and wipe out stretches of farmland. This sets me back several turns. Builders, who typically get three builds before expiring, have to use one build to reset a tile after a flood and a second build to reconstruct your buildings. (Tornadoes become a godsend, because they wipe a tile clean, which means you don’t have to waste your builders’ moves.)

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Looking at the desolation around Yaroslavl, I realize the consequences of my gamble to construct in a floodplain, but I know this enables me to later build dams that can create energy for my city. Dams are one of the new engineering projects you’ll get to complete in Gathering Storm, alongside railroads, tunnels, and canals. Firaxis says canals were a highly requested inclusion, as they allow players to connect two bodies of water, or one body of water to a city center. This means your naval armada can navigate the world faster. Yaroslavl doesn’t have the kind of capital to invest in an armada, though. Not yet.

There are five different difficulty settings in Gathering Storm, including a Hyperreal setting that causes floods and eruptions to occur more frequently than they did historically.

Shortly after founding Yaroslavl, I meet Jadwiga, the King of Poland, who sails overseas to tell me that she wants to team up against China. I don’t hesitate for a moment. St. Petersburg was my economic hub, and I’m short on gold, so I test our new alliance with a trade: Poland will send me a hefty sum of gold each turn in exchange for Gathering Storm’s new currency: Diplomatic Favor.

Players earn Diplomatic Favor by participating in trades and establishing government systems. Once you’ve accrued some favor, you can spend it at the World Congress, a returning feature from Civilization V, where each world player votes on resolutions that impact the gameplay until the next session of Congress.

“We didn’t feel [World Congress] had a really big impact on the game previously,” said lead producer Dennis Shirk. In Civilization V, you vote on resolutions, but Gathering Storm expands the mechanic, allowing you to tailor resolutions to your private interests and leverage Diplomatic Favor to increase the likelihood that a resolution passes.

It will take an army to reclaim St. Petersburg from the Chinese, so I tailor one resolution to decrease production costs by 50 percent until the next Congress. I want to hurt China’s trade, so it costs me a hefty sum of Diplomatic Favor to end the trade of luxury teas, which China specializes in. The resolution for decreased production passes, and my cities begin producing military units at incredible speed.

“It’s a really big new system,” says Shirk. “I’d say it’s just about as prevalent as the new climate change systems in the game.”

Speaking of climate systems, the dominoes fall on China when I see tornadoes, a hurricane, and a drought ravage the tiles around St. Petersburg (and making me wonder if St. Petersburg is even worth saving. But of course it is, it was mine first!) I have nearly a dozen military units thanks to the World Congress resolution, so my siege begins. The war drags on into a new era, and I lose most of my units in the fight, but eventually, I kick the Chinese out of the city. St. Petersburg belongs to the Russians once more.

Click here to watch embedded media

Natural disasters and the World Congress were game-changers in my Civilization VI experience, resulting in some of my campaign’s greatest highs, but Gathering Storm comes packed with numerous other features that fill out the expansion. I didn’t get to interact with the late-game climate change systems, but, eventually, deforestation and reliance on fossil fuels increase CO2 emissions, global temperatures, and sea levels. According to Firaxis, however, you don’t need to protect the environment in order to win the game.

“We’re not trying to prescribe that players have to be tree huggers in our game,” Beach said. “You can cause sea levels to rise and still win the game.” Although Beach did suggest that protecting the environment will aid in your achievement of the game’s new Diplomatic Victory scenario.

Click here to watch embedded media

In addition to the new climate change, natural disasters, and World Congress systems, you can expect a lot more of the Civilization VI content you’d expect from expansions, including nine new civilizations to command, such as the Maori and Canada, more than a dozen new Wonders, two new Scenarios, new Civics, and new Engineering Projects (like canals).

I’m excited to explore more of this content and watch the game’s many systems interact when Gathering Storm launches for PC on February 14. The expansion costs $39.99 and requires the base game to access it. While you wait, check out our review of Civilization VI’s last expansion, Rise and Fall.

Categories: Games

Super Mario Bros. 3 Mid-Boss Boom Boom Comes To Mario Tennis Aces

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 02:20
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Camelot Software Release: June 22, 2018 Rating: Everyone Platform: Switch

There aren't many enemies that can stand up to Mario's powerful stomp, but Boom Boom has always been pretty good about trying to do so. The officer in Bowser's army usually takes three hits in the head before he bites it, so maybe a nice relaxing game of tennis is exactly what he needs. 

Slated to arrive in an update this week, Boom Boom is joining the game as a defensive character, which makes sense because he's nigh-invulnerable from the Y-axis...unless you have any sort of item, then he falls apart like a house of cards. But that doesn't appear to be the case here, as you can see from the trailer below.

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The update containing Boom Boom also includes the Boo Hunt co-op challenge and new balance updates to the game to help keep the competition alive, which is important because competition is how you access the character early. If you participate in February's online tournament, Boom Boom unlocks early for you; if not, you get him on March 1 regardless.

Mario Tennis Aces is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Categories: Games

Twin Power

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 01:10
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Release: February 15, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Far Cry: New Dawn introduces two new villains to the Far Cry universe, Lou and Mickey, to terrorize the player and the survivors of Hope county. The twin sisters have traveled across the country pirating resources for their own use, chewing up self-sustaining communities and spitting them out before traveling on to the next one. In a new video released by Ubisoft, the actresses behind the roles explain what it was like to take Far Cry: New Dawn's villainous duo.

Click here to watch embedded media

Actresses Leslie Miller (Lou) and Cara Ricketts (Mickey) talk a bit about recording the dialogue for the game and getting lost in the psychopathic characters with a penchant for pink but a much stronger preference for red.

In addition, Greg Bryk resumes his role as Far Cry 5's Father, though this time he has the experience of 17 years of nuclear holocaust weighing on his mind. Bryk explains what it's like to play Far Cry 5's villain in New Dawn in an age where the character is no longer the big bad.

Far Cry: New Dawn releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 15.

Categories: Games

Mage's Initiation: Reign Of The Elements Review - VGA Heyday

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 00:00

It would be remiss to talk about Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements without considering its overt inspiration: Quest for Glory, a series of Sierra games from the early '90s. Quest for Glory was an ambitious hybrid of point-and-click adventures and Dungeons & Dragons-inspired role-playing featuring multiple classes, real-time combat, comprehensive statistic-based character building that all affected and changed the way you approached the game's obstacles. It remains a concept very few games have directly replicated, but Mage's Initiation proudly embraces this influence at every turn and draws liberally from the Quest for Glory template. It feels like a spiritual successor in many ways, but while the fantasy adventure it creates is enjoyable in its own right, its attempts to execute Quest for Glory's RPG-inspired diversity in its different playstyles aren't as robust and meaningful as they might initially seem.

Mage's Initiation follows D'arc, a teenager residing in a magic boarding school, as he faces his initiation to, well, become a mage. His big test requires him to overcome three major trials that ask him to deal with the mythic and fantastical, and along the way he hits some unexpected twists and uncovers a greater conspiracy. At the beginning of the game, you're given the opportunity to choose from four different mage classes, each focused around an element (fire, earth, wind, water) which will determine the selection of spells D'Arc will have at his disposal for both puzzle solving and combat. The path to overcoming the trials involves conversing with a diverse cast of characters, hunting for items and information, solving puzzles with logic and the environment, and fighting enemies with both force and wit.

Much of what Mage's Initiation does is enjoyable without the context of its influences. It's a well-paced adventure game throwback with solid voice acting, an intriguing mystery, and satisfying puzzles. As someone whose formative years were defined by endless replays of Quest for Glory, it's exciting to see the game trade so heavily on nostalgia for those games. Almost every element of Mage's Initiation can be immediately identified as a connection to Sierra adventure games. The beautifully illustrated environments, character portraits, and interface perfectly evoke the aesthetic, most obviously. But there are also parallels like attempts at Quest for Glory's signature pun-heavy humor, exotic character archetypes, and unique dark fantasy atmosphere. There's also the blatantly anachronistic, maze-like structure of the wasteland and forest areas that encouraged me to draw my own real-life maps to get around--just like I did playing Quest for Glory as a kid.

The issue with Mage's Initiation is that in a lot of cases, the clear ambitions to ape its source material don't reach the same meaningful depths of that source material, and as a result, the existence of some of these elements eventually feels like window dressing--whether you're aware of its influences or not. The aforementioned maze-like areas are fun to map out initially, but unlike Quest for Glory, you don't really need to internalize them because you don't have to navigate them regularly--key locations in Mage's Initiation are mostly clustered together in a straightforward manner. As a result, these environments feel strangely tacked on, an excessive obstacle you need to overcome to find a couple of quest items.

In a similar fashion, the four classes provide some minor variations in how you solve puzzles, but few of them actually feel like fundamentally different approaches. For example, to find a way into a particular second story window, you can use the air mage's levitating spell, use the water mage's water jet to activate a water wheel to ride, or grow a vine to climb as an earth mage. But the fact that these solutions are all just spells activated in the same manner never made me feel like I was thinking in a drastically different way for each mage or using a different set of tools--merely changing the location I pointed the cursor. This aspect becomes especially apparent upon multiple playthroughs.

Similarly, the classes' combat abilities fail to be fundamentally distinct. Each starts with comparable projectile attacks corresponding to their element, as well as defensive abilities that mitigate damage. None of these skills feel particularly unique in practice. Toward the end of the game, each class gets more powerful and varied spells, but their presence highlights another issue with combat: The high mana cost of these powerful skills rarely made using them feel worthwhile. I found it most effective to simply cast the low-cost basic projectiles repeatedly for basically all of the game's combat encounters, which rarely felt challenging or tense. This is due in part to the game's convenient auto-saving before any hostile encounter, which has the unfortunate effect of making it unnecessary to ever upgrade your character's constitution stat--I could just reload to the start of the encounter if I died.

There are a few major branching paths and decisions that affect the outcome of your relationship with certain characters and events of the plot, but these aren't tied to your class. Many of the more devilish roadblock puzzles that need to be cleared before you can progress, while satisfying to solve, have the same solution in each playthrough. The major point of difference between the adventures is that each class has its own unique side quest, which are interesting, but they're completely optional, easily missed, and feel like an afterthought because of that.

Some of the game's unique additions don't quite hit the mark, either. An entire economy of gems you can equip to augment your combat capabilities is initially interesting, but they're too bountiful, and easy to forget about because of the exploitable nature of combat. And for all the beautiful art in the game, there are a few key cutscenes that take a jarring deviation from the game's visual direction and a strange dip in quality, detracting from revelations they portray.

I ultimately enjoyed my time following D'arc through his journey, and Mage's Initiation left me curious about the events still to come. It's an entertaining adventure game, but its ambitions to incorporate a meaningful diversity of role-playing options fall disappointingly flat and feel inconsequential. Mage's Initiation is a fair appropriation of a hybrid formula that I was happy to consume, but its shortcomings made me more eager to revisit the series that inspired it for another run-through.

Categories: Games

Overwatch Announces New Paris Assault Map

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 23:40
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: May 24, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Blizzard has just announced a new Assault map for Overwatch taking place in the city of love Paris, France. Though there's likely a lot less love and a lot more storming areas for objectives. That's still pretty Parisian, historically speaking.

Chance encounters lead to novel beginnings.

Get whisked away to Paris soon on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) January 30, 2019

The map is now live on the Playable Test Realm, so if you're a part of that, you can jump right in and check it out. For everyone who wants to wait for the full release, though, here's a quick look at what the new map looks like.

Blizzard emphasizes Paris' narrow streets and corridors in the new level, but also encourages players to check out Paris' most iconic sights and sounds within the Overwatch world. You can hit up the cabaret and see the talented Luna perform, stop at patisseries and check out the delicious goods, or even drop in at a fancy gala. Of course, you still have your objectives, so don't get too distracted.

The map will arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Overcooked 2 Getting Lunar New Year Content

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 22:05
Publisher: Team 17 Developer: Ghost Town Games Release: August 7, 2018 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch

There's probably no end to the number of relationships, friendships, and families that Overcooked has broken up, but that's also probably because there doesn't appear to be an end to actual Overcooked content. It seems every few months that Team 17 and Ghost Town Games have new levels to announce for the title and it seems that this time the theme is the Lunar New Year. Move over, Overwatch, there's other Over- prefix games in town doing Lunar New Year events.

Click here to watch embedded media

The teaser really doesn't say much, but there's probably not a whole lot of details they can really add in here. There will be new Overcooked levels with a new theme and likely new dishes that will make you yell at people like you're Gordon Ramsey. That plus the fact that it's free is pretty much all you need to know.

Overcooked 2 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Categories: Games

The Most Impressive Creations In Dreams So Far

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 21:28

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Media Molecule Release: TBA Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

Media Molecule's Dreams has been in closed beta since mid-December, and we're already starting to see some really impressive work from players. In Dreams, players can both create their own games and play experiences made by others. In just over a month, there's been a plethora of player-made content ranging from game demos to experimental art design.

We've checked out the closed beta ourselves and found some pretty cool stuff. These include short interactive cinematic experiences, proof of concepts for larger games that creators say they'll finish when Dreams launches, and more. Some are buggy or janky, but that's to be expected as creators get their heads around Media Molecule's extensive but complicated tools.

This list contains original content rather than clones or remakes of games that already exist. If you want to see Dreams versions of Cuphead, Legend of Zelda, and more, check out our video where we explore them.

Here are the most impressive creations that we've found so far.


Creator: Rothniel

This first-person shooter takes place on a surreal landscape; maybe even on an entirely different planet. Large statue-like hands stick out of the ground, and zombie cyborgs chase you. Your only chance of survival is by shooting down these creepy foes or making a run for it.

Grape Escape

Creator: TheGleeMan

This is one of the weirder concepts I came across in Dreams, but also one of my favorites. You play as a bunch of grapes trying to get back home to their grape friends. I don't want to spoil how it ends, but it gets wilder the more you progress. You spend your time jumping atop oversized chairs, balconies, and cars.

Starry Night

Creator: TheOnetronaut

This is more of an interactive art piece than a game, but that doesn't make it any less spectacular. You begin in a small bedroom by a window. On the window sill, you can drink some absinthe, which then blurs and distorts your vision. Outside the window, the sky begins to swirl and distant mountains shift in form until they look nearly identical to Van Gogh's Starry Night.

Time Corruption

Creator: SlurmMackenzie

With some impressive puzzle design and an interesting concept, Time Corruption is a stand-out game demo. The Tron-inspired, neon visuals create a striking aesthetic. You progress by jumping on various platforms and collecting glowing orbs. In this universe, time has been stopped "to prevent further damage." Once you find the time-control bracelet, you can control time by fast-forwarding or rewinding. Doing so moves platforms and obstacles out of your way, though you need a keen eye to get out of some tricky areas.

The Encounter

Creator: Bigsurf77

This short game demo is part of a larger game that the creators plan on launching once Dreams is out. You explore a space station from a first-person perspective, with guidance from a floating robot who helps you unlock doors and pushes buttons on different interfaces. You need to find your way home, but things go wrong in the process. With fantastic-looking hallways and a massive hangar, The Encounter is one of the most visually impressive games in Dreams.



This is another piece from Disarmed, who is one of the more talented and prolific Dreamers I've come across. In Curiosity, you play as a robot who journeys through a barren land. All you have to do is get to the destination waypoint, so gameplay is minimal, but it's another one of those Dreams creations that shows off some brilliant aesthetics.

Project Dead

Creator: Servilletor

More of a proof of concept than much else, Project Dead is a short cinematic where you walk down a hallway littered with dead bodies. With a massive gun at your disposal and a suggested history of carnage, it gives off some mega Doom vibes. I look forward to seeing what else its creator brings to Dreams.

Project Zero

Creators: X_DISARMED_PRO, Rothniel

This collaboration between two players, one of which is the creator of Prometheus, is a beautiful-looking FPS that shows off Dreams' potential for realism. The team only has a visual test that's viewable on Dreams called 'Metro - Realistic Visual Benchmark' that doesn't have any gameplay. Details are slim, but you can take a look at some stunning screenshots here from the developer.


Have you been playing the closed beta? Made any cool projects yourself, or come across some we didn't mention here? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

Frozen Wasteland

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 20:30
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment Release: January 23, 2018 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PC

During a massive cold front, the last thing you might want to think about is diving beneath an arctic surface, but Subnautica was never about making you comfortable. That feels like the thesis statement behind the newest Subnautica game, which puts you both above and below the ice.

Check out the first teaser trailer for Subnautica: Below Zero, which is out on Steam Early Access today.

Click here to watch embedded media

There's a host of new freakish creatures that will no doubt make your existence frightening, new arctic biomes, alien artifacts to investigate, and new mysteries to figure out.

The game launched on Early Access today as totally standalone content, essentially a sequel, which means you don't require Subnautica at all the play. That's good news if you grabbed the game last month on the Epic Games Store for free, since it in no way affects the Steam version of Below Zero.

You can read our review of Subnautica right here.

Categories: Games

Wargroove Review - Advanced Wars

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 14:00

It's not often that fans' calls for a new entry in a series are ignored, only for an unrelated developer to come along with the perfect answer. And yet that's precisely what we have in Wargroove, an apparent facsimile of the Advance Wars series, which has has been dormant for more than a decade. But while its immediate appeal lies in filling a gap that few games have in recent years, Wargroove introduces smart improvements and impressive custom content tools that make this an experience that stands on its own as a terrific strategy game.

Wargroove's most basic gameplay is nearly indistinguishable from that of Advance Wars (a point of comparison that developer Chucklefish itself hasn't avoided). It's a turn-based tactics game set on a tile-based map in which you assemble an army, take control of structures that can build units or generate gold, and (usually) work to eliminate or destroy a particular target. Every action is a significant commitment; because units can't stack on the same tile and buildings can only produce one thing per turn, you have to carefully think through your strategy on each turn. The same is also true of engaging in combat; because damage is dictated by the amount of health a unit has, being aggressive can help ensure you take less damage later. None of this is new, but it serves as a solid base that Chucklefish improves upon.

Wargroove rekindles not just the classic gameplay of Advance Wars, but also its visual style. The pixelated, cartoonish maps are filled with small flourishes that help them to feel alive; birds fly overhead, fires burn, and the shadows cast by clouds slowly move along the ground. When combat begins, the action shifts to a 2D side view depicting the two units squaring off and showcasing a great-looking set of animations. The best of these belongs to the dog commander, Caesar, who exhibits a frankly impressive level of nonchalance, scratching himself and enjoying his time as his crossbow-wielding attendants do all the work. (Commendably, despite the presence of dog units--battlepups!--the amount of whining they do when taking damage is kept to a minimum.) For as nice as it all looks, I did find the breakdown of units' strengths and weaknesses--which consists of small, often similar-looking portraits--needlessly difficult to read.

Aside from swapping Advance Wars' firearms, jets, and tanks for swords, dragons, and magic, the most obvious change is how commanders work. Rather than serving only as a special ability that can occasionally be wielded, commanders are powerful units on the map you control like any other. In most cases, eliminating the other team's commander is one of the available victory conditions, so you always want to keep yours safe. But what makes commanders so interesting are the ways in which you're encouraged to use them aggressively.

Commanders each have a unique ability--the titular Grooves--such as healing nearby units, allowing adjacent units to act again during the current turn, summoning a friendly unit, and so on. These build up passively but are gained much more quickly by eliminating enemies with your commander, who unlike standard units also regains a small amount of health each turn. As a result, you're often wise to push forward with your commander in order to maximize how often you can use your Groove. But this presents you with difficult choices. Does it make sense to hurt but not kill a strong unit with your commander to mitigate the damage it can do and kill a weak enemy with another unit? Or should your commander secure that final blow to get your Groove that much faster, but risk suffering the strong unit's next attack doing heavier damage? Units each have enemies that they are strong and weak against, and terrain can provide defensive buffs or nerfs to account for. Along with that, commanders offer an additional consideration that make even a simple engagement into something you have to more thoughtfully examine.

The same can also be said for Wargroove's critical-hit system. Rather than being something that happens randomly, each non-commander unit has a specific criteria for when a critical hit will occur. Pikemen get critical hits when adjacent to a friendly pikeman, rangers when they attack without first moving, trebuchets when their target is at the edge of their attack range, and so on. As a result, you sometimes have to weigh the risk of overextending yourself to get a critical hit against the risk of leaving yourself in a more vulnerable position. In one case, you might put a spearman in danger just to ensure another one lands a critical hit; in another, you might retreat slightly with a knight on one turn so that on the next they can utilize their maximum movement range (triggering a critical hit) to kill an enemy and avoid suffering a counter-attack. The logic behind critical hit requirements is uninspired in some cases--those for naval units merely ask you to be in a certain type of water tile--but they add another welcome layer of depth to combat and an extra point of differentiation for units.

How you heal your damaged units is another tricky decision. The primary method requires you to move next to a structure you own and then pay gold that would otherwise be used to buy units or activate certain abilities. But healing like this comes with the downside of trading health from that structure (which slowly regains health each turn) to the unit (which does not). At times this means you won't necessarily be able to heal everyone, even if you have the gold to cover the cost. It also can mean leaving your buildings--and thus your source of income and additional units--susceptible to being lost. There are no easy choices here, and the aforementioned health regeneration of commanders provides you with the risky option of letting them tank damage and hoping they can recover from it for free.

Despite having so much to juggle, the action is rarely overwhelming. That's due in part to a manageable number of unit types being available; Wargroove's four factions are different in appearance only, although each has three commanders with their own unique Groove. While it's disappointing to realize the introduction of a new faction means very little, there are enough unit types and systems at play to keep things interesting. Having to account for dozens of additional unit types would have slowed each turn to a crawl as you try to remember how they all work.

Despite having so much to juggle, the action is rarely overwhelming.

What does unfortunately slow the action down is the process of determining the danger zone in which you can be attacked. Rather than allowing you to see the full potential attack range of the enemy team, you're only able to see it unit by unit. Especially when managing expensive aerial units who can be easily downed if they end a turn within range of certain anti-air specialists, it's essential to carefully check and re-check these ranges. This adds an unnecessary layer of tedium to every turn, particularly in the large-scale battles that see significant numbers of units in play simultaneously. As a result, turns take more time than they otherwise would in order to facilitate this busywork.

Those match times proved to be frustrating on occasion in the campaign. While I found myself having trouble in only a small handful of missions, those I failed often came near the end of 20- to 30-minute matches. With no way to create a mid-mission save, a loss can be dispiriting, especially if it comes as a result of an accidental click (it's far too easy to end a turn or order a unit to wait by mistake) or because you didn't notice an enemy unit and thus didn't account for its attack range.

Some of my frustration in those failures stemmed from the fact that I was eager to see what the next mission held. Most offer some new wrinkle, like the introduction of a new type of unit or a different overall mission structure (such as assisting in a retreat). While dialogue is funny at times, the story is forgettable, consisting of a string of conflicts that could be avoided if characters made a real effort to explain why they aren't enemies. The story is not a major part of the experience, though, and much of the world's lore is consigned to a codex. Besides, the consistently fresh ideas the action itself offers are all the reason you need to see the campaign through.

Even after completing the campaign, there are plenty of other ways to keep playing. Arcade mode presents you with a series of five battles and a light narrative wrapper for each commander, giving you a light campaign of sorts that you can see through in a single sitting. Puzzle mode more intriguingly presents you with a level that must be completed in a single turn, forcing you to ensure every move maximizes your damage output. Four-player multiplayer, with support for both local play and online, works well and presents a more worthwhile, unpredictable challenge than what the AI can muster. However, the lack of online support for private matches and AI players (available offline) are unfortunate omissions.

Wargroove's greatest potential lies in its custom creation tools. These allow you to make not just maps but entire campaigns filled with main missions, side missions, and cutscenes. These can be easily shared and downloaded right through the game. While the creation aspect of Wargroove is initially overwhelming--you're left to discover the many tools at your disposal with zero direction--the end result is the ability to create a campaign on par with the one that the game ships with. Diving into this creation suite won't be for everyone, but everyone stands to benefit from those who do. One minor gripe with this setup: There's no way to jump directly into a new map when browsing for new content, and failing on a standalone map unceremoniously boots you back to the main menu.

Outside of campaigns and standard missions, there's also the opportunity for map creators to develop entirely new ways to play. One example of this is baked right into the game with the Chessgroove map, which lines up two teams in a standard chess formation and permits players only a single move per turn. It's an intriguing concept, but one that quickly grows tiresome; because units aren't instantly killed as in chess, you can't quickly evaluate potential moves, turning what should be a relatively fast-paced affair into a boring slog. As disinterested as I was in playing Chessgroove again after my first match, it does offer a glimpse at what kind of outside-the-box concepts people might be able to come up with.

That's good news, because Wargroove is a delight to play, and the possibility of an endless supply of content for it is a tantalizing prospect. Chucklefish could have offered up a prettied-up take on Advance Wars with online multiplayer and called it a day. Instead, it's made meaningful improvements that make this both a satisfying answer to starved Advance Wars fans' wishes and a genuinely great experience on its own merits.

Categories: Games

Ancient Access

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 18:55
Publisher: No Matter Developer: No Matter Release: January 31, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

Praey for the Gods, the upcoming indie adventure title about being a particularly aggressive iconoclast, released a new trailer today after a period of silence. It seems like no news was good news in this situation, because Praey for the Gods is about to hit Early Access on Steam, becoming purchasable for players who have long been interested in the unique title in just a few days on January 31. It won't be too long before you get your hands on the Shadow of the Colossus-like gameplay.

Check out the new trailer below to get a sense for the game.

Click here to watch embedded media

You might be a little confused about the title, as the game was previously known as "Prey for the Gods." Turns out, Bethesda has trademarked the word "Prey" in game titles and, from their account, have "no choice" in defending that trademark. To avoid a lawsuit, the developers at No Matter Studios were forced to change the name to the slightly more awkward "Praey," thus kind of losing the pun in the process.

Pun or not, it should be fun to take the game for a spin on PC on January 31.

Categories: Games

The Hong Kong Massacre Review - Very Hard Boiled

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 17:00

The Hong Kong Massacre aims to replicate the experience of a gun-kata-action scene, where characters shoot while diving through the air, performing acrobatic feats as they blow each other's brains out. It's an extremely violent riff on the twin-stick shooter, one clearly inspired by Hotline Miami and Max Payne. You play as a former detective in 1992 Hong Kong, seeking retribution against the Triad for murdering someone close to you. The exact specifics are unclear, but that doesn't matter too much--the plot elements are kept to a minimum, as the game focuses most of its energy into frenetic and satisfying action.

At the start of each mission you equip one of four guns--a pistol, SMG, rifle or shotgun--and are then unleashed in a top-down level to kill everyone inside it. Because of the zoomed-out view you can see into rooms and scope out opponents well before they know you're there. The rules of engagement are established quickly: one shot from any gun is all it takes to kill either you or your enemies (until later levels where some enemies get body armor and can withstand two shots), and you also need to collect new guns from the enemies you kill, lest you run out of ammo. If you go into a dive, you cannot be hit until the dive is over. Your enemies can dive too, and the same rules apply for them.

The one major advantage you have over the bad guys is your ability to slow time. This is how the game lets you fight at the speed and fury of the action cinema choreography it is paying homage to, and it makes you feel like a badass. In almost every situation, the best way to excel is to enter slow motion, dive into a position where you have a line of sight, and fire at your enemies. Often this will mean shooting through a window, or a door, or the paper-thin shoji screens that are used to separate rooms in just about every building you enter. In its wildest moments, The Hong Kong Massacre turns into a wonderfully violent ballet of shattered glass, splayed bodies, and bullets from a variety of guns all firing at once in slow motion.

The meter and cooldown for your slow motion ability is extremely generous, as it takes quite a while to drain and fully recharges within about two seconds. So as long as you plan to be in cover by the time it runs out you can use slow motion almost continuously. The star rating system for each level encourages you to try not using slow motion at all, though. Complete a level without it and you'll be awarded a star that can be spent on weapon upgrades--but not only does this make things considerably harder, it would make some levels all but impossible to complete. If you're playing on PS4 with a controller, your aiming reticule moves slowly, which is important for lining up long shots and maintaining some sense of tension and realism amidst all the madness, but it also means that completing the more difficult missions at full speed would be extraordinarily difficult.

Even with these abilities, The Hong Kong Massacre can still be extremely hard. Your enemies are not the smartest, but when there's so many of them and it only takes a single bullet to kill you, you'll likely die an awful lot. There are plenty of mistakes you can make and traps you can fall into, too. Every now and then a dive won't go as planned, and you'll slide up against a door jamb instead of leaping through the door, for instance, or end up surrounded by gunfire. It's quite tricky to pay attention to both your person and your aiming reticule, and often I wasn't sure exactly when a dive animation had ended.

Each failure requires a restart of the whole level, and even though the absolute longest one will ultimately take less than three minutes to finish once you've got a handle on the situation, there will likely be many, many failed attempts on the way there. But there's a certain pleasure in how you begin to memorize the layout, the patterns of the bad guys (which can change slightly), and weigh up the pros and cons of the different strategies and approaches you've tried thus far. And when you're in the zone, completing levels back to back with very few deaths, you'll really feel like an action hero.

Five boss fights change up the level format and see you and your opponent both moving down parallel hallways, taking shots whenever there's an opening through a window (bosses take multiple shots to kill), and every now and then you'll need to take out an enemy on your side to collect their gun. At the end of each boss stage, you'll both end up in a more open area where you'll need to finish them off, and they work well enough as a change of pace. Some levels also make you dive between rooftops, which is satisfying and fun as you fire at enemies while making an almost-impossible sideways leap.

But there's a lot of repetition across the campaign, too. The level designs aren't distinctive; while layouts and aesthetics change, the basic building blocks never do. Even as you shoot your way through a police station, you'll still notice that they're using shoji screens to separate some rooms. After a while, it becomes clear that the game is, essentially, the same few seconds of gameplay over and over. The four-weapon selection also feels slightly hamstrung by the general uselessness of the shotgun, unless you pump all the points you earn from completing levels into upgrading it (for my money it's better to focus on the SMG and pistols).

The game's strangest oversight is its lousy leaderboards. While you can see your top time for every level from the menu, there is no friends leaderboard, nor does the game show you where you sit on the global total. In fact, only the top 99 are shown for each level, and even if you've made that list you need to scroll to find yourself. This removes some incentive to replay levels and try for a faster time.

The Hong Kong Massacre is a game with a specific goal--to capture the feeling of an over-the-top John Woo-style slow-motion diving kill shot, and it succeeds. The game's faults are washed away whenever you leap out of the way of a bullet and quickly take out the person who fired it. It's a game that sticks with you when you're not playing it, as you think through different approaches to the room you died in last time. You'll fail frequently, and the repetition can wear you down, but it's hard to resist the temptation of bursting through a window and perfectly lining up three kill shots.

Categories: Games

Genesis Alpha One Review - Drifting Without Direction

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 09:00

Genesis Alpha One's ambitions are made clear from the moment you begin constructing the vessel meant to act as an ark for humanity's survival. You're alone in space, searching for a planet hospitable enough to act as a new home. But getting there is no easy task. You need to juggle the expansion of your ship, the maintenance of its existing modules and the living conditions of your growing crew of clones, and that's when you're not mining for new resources, fending off alien infestations, or tending to crew job assignments. The problem with Genesis Alpha One isn't that all of these systems buckle under the weight of their interconnectivity--it's that none of them are that engaging to interact with in the first place.

Genesis Alpha One contains a mixture of strategic shipbuilding and the more personal exploration of your ship and surrounding planets through a first-person view. Your ship can be thought of as a moving command center; it's where you construct new modules to scan and scavenge resources from nearby debris, hangars for ships to explore nearby planets and biomes to sustain life onboard as you expand your crew of barely indistinguishable clones. When not making changes to your ship, you explore the hallways of your creation or join crews on missions to planets for resource scavenging.

Each run in Genesis Alpha One rarely deviates from the same starting steps. You construct the bare minimum you need on your ship before getting the chance to jettison off into the great unknown--essentials like a Greenhouse for oxygen production, Quarters for your crew, a Tractor Beam for harvesting resources, and more are the fundamentals around which the rest of your ship is built. Although finding the exact module you want to add to your ship is made frustrating by the unclear menu headings (which I never got used to), actual construction is far easier. Modules click into place like Lego blocks, offering entrances and exits that need to be lined up to existing pieces of your ship or strategically placed for future ones. It's satisfying to go from a broad overview of your uniquely designed vessel and straight into the shoes of a member on board, giving you the freedom to roam around the intricately (or confusingly) laid-out hallways you just placed down.

Genesis Alpha One features familiar elements from roguelikes, giving you modifiers to change how you start each run. You choose a template for your initial crew--based on a Corporation you select--which determines how many metals, elements, and oxygen-producing plants you begin with, as well as the number of crew members on board. You unlock new corporations as you play. To gain access to a corporation that specializes in mining ore, for example, you'll first need to have one lucrative mining run.

These corporations and their advantages are then combined with a limited number of separate static upgrades, which you discover during your travels through the galaxy and that impact your playstyle more directly. You might choose to adorn your personal suit with upgrades to health and damage reduction but miss out on helpful indicators pointing you to special resources on your galaxy map, for instance. You're encouraged by the numerous locked upgrades--which appear in the menu--to search new areas of the large galaxy map during each run so that you can secure a more diverse set of upgrades to further modify your playthroughs. There are few that drastically change how a run might unfold, which leads to a sense of tedium setting in with each new attempt and its protracted start. The slight changes to your starting resources and crew do, however, give you more creative flexibility when deciding how to initially start the construction of your ship.

Although building out your vessel is generally satisfying, you soon begin to realize how tedious your routines around the ship can become. Each module has a purpose, and without hands tending to them they remain ineffective. Salvaging resources from nearby debris requires workers on the Tractor Beam, for example, that you need to assign via a console that's only located in that specific room. The same goes for every other station around your ship, making your opening moments aboard a frantic dash between each room to get everything running. When you jump from one solar system to another, this process sometimes needs to be repeated. You'll need to rescan new debris around you--which requires you to hold a button for far too long--and manually assign the Tractor Beam again for salvaging, even if you previously assigned crew members to that job. It's baffling to have to go through these same motions every time you jump to a new solar system (which happens fairly regularly), especially when a centralized interface giving you access to all your ship's sub-systems would be far easier and more manageable.

This is exacerbated by AI that makes your crew largely useless without your input. Unless they're assigned to a station, crew members will wander around the ship and not really do anything. They might engage with unwelcome alien stowaways but appear to ignore or forget about them completely when even slightly separated from them. An attacking pirate crew might be storming your hallways and causing mayhem, but your crew won't react until they've entered a room with them inside. As a captain, you're severely limited in the ways you're able to command your crew, save for ensuring that they're present at a console to carry out the menial tasks that rooms and their associated purposes require.

That leaves a lot of additional work for you to do alone, which starts piling up to an unbearable degree. Should you find yourself fighting off an alien infestation, you're stuck dealing with eradicating the spreading alien eggs alone in the catacombs below each corridor. It's satisfying to set up your vessel in a way that establishes clear choke points or routes enemies into an area filled with turrets you've placed for defenses. But as your ship grows, your ability to actively react to a growing danger becomes nearly impossible. It's compounded by unclear ways to deal with mission-ending threats such as infestations and raiding pirates. It seems that once either is onboard there's little you can do to get rid of them for good. Pirates will continually spawn on your ship even after multiple jumps to new solar systems, while aliens will continually sprout new hives even after you've cleared them all out. If there's a way for you to triumph over these challenges after you've encountered them, Genesis Alpha One doesn't make it clear exactly how.

Losing progress in a roguelike is meant to entice you to hop back in with new accessories to change your next run, but Genesis Alpha One doesn't have the mechanics in place to make these variations interesting enough to experiment with.

The first-person action isn't that robust, either. You can craft numerous types of weapons--ranging from simple assault rifles and flamethrowers to more futuristic, slow-firing laser weaponry--but enemies rarely offer diverse-enough challenges for you to consider the strategic advantages of each. The actual mechanics of shooting are also not satisfying. You can't aim down a gun's sights; instead, you lock onto enemies with the press of a button, making skirmishes tedious and boring. Enemies don't recoil from your attacks convincingly, robbing the action of a punchy feeling. And, despite your abnormally high movement speed, there are no enemies that demand you use this in creative ways. Instead it's just easy enough to use that speed to back away from enemies that can hardly ever keep up, or are never accurate enough to pose a threat from afar.

Losing progress in a roguelike is meant to entice you to hop back in with new accessories to change your next run, but Genesis Alpha One doesn't have the mechanics in place to make these variations interesting enough to experiment with. Instead, death just feels like a punch to the gut, and a reminder that all the tiring setup you endured in the previous run must be repeated for hours to feel anywhere close to where you left off.

From tedious combat to the repetitive nature of exploring new solar systems, there's little in Genesis Alpha One to hold your attention. Expanding your ship as you traverse a vast universe is marginally rewarding when you get the chance to roam around the elaborate structures you've built. But the process of gathering resources to make this possible is arduous, while threats bringing your inevitable demise are either dull to fight against or spawned onto your ship in aggressively large numbers without any clear methods of success against them. Genesis Alpha One contains all the components for deep space adventure, but none of them are executed well enough to make it a voyage worth taking.

Categories: Games

Playing Mario, Cuphead, Zelda, And Lots More In Dreams

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 03:30

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Media Molecule Release: TBA Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

Dreams has been in closed beta for some time, but today, Media Molecule gave the go-ahead for those playing to share what they're making or what they've found so far while Dream Surfing. We decided to showcase some of the games creators have been making based on established games. You can watch the video above to see Dreams creators' takes on Zelda, Dark Souls, Metal Gear, PlayStation Home, Portal, Mario, Cuphead, Ratchet & Clank, Flappy Bird, Leisure Suit Larry, Final Fantasy VII, P.T., and Wolfenstein 3D.

For a whole lot more on Dreams, you can check out all of our features from when we had Dreams on our cover by clicking the banner below.

Categories: Games

New Screens Show A New Location, Treasure Hunting, And More

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 16:29

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Ganbarion Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The latest batch of screenshots for One Piece: World seeker, the open-world One Piece game coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15, shows off a new location, treasure hunting, and a karma system that will measure your relationship with NPCs.

Sky Island, seen in the images below, is a location that floats above Prison Island.

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The new screens also reveal the Karma System which will, "reward players with special events as relationships with enemies and partners increase."

If you're successful with the Karma System, you can also earn treasure maps which can be used to track down special items.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



One Piece: World Seeker is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15 and it's one that I recently called my second most-anticipated game of 2019 on The Game Informer Show. You can watch that conversation below at the 35-minute mark.

Click here to watch embedded media

Categories: Games

Naruto's Son Boruto Joins The Roster

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 15:24

Click here to watch embedded media

Developer: Bandai Namco Release: February 15, 2019

The latest Jump Force trailer reveals that Boruto, Naruto's son, will be a playable fighter. The trailer also shows off some gameplay of Dai, who was revealed in screenshot form last week.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



Jump Force's story still isn't totally clear, but with both Naruto and Baruto being playable characters, and them both appearing to be about the same age, I think it's safe to assume some interdenominational time-travel shenanigans are going on.

For more on Jump Force, you can watch some of our impressions from the beta here.

Categories: Games

Dragon Ball Project Z Is A New Dragon Ball RPG Coming This Year

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 00:00

Announced right before the conclusion of the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour finals event, Dragon Ball Project Z is an RPG set in the world of Dragon Ball. Unlike Dragon Ball Xenoverse, which focuses on telling a new story set in that universe, Project Z returns to the series' roots, retelling the classic story of Dragon Ball Z from the beginning. 

The trailer showed off several scenes from in a 3D cel-shaded style. We only saw a brief glimpse of gameplay, showing Goku walking around places like West City and the Kame House. The game is set to release sometime this year.

You can watch the full trailer announcing the game below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Categories: Games

Videl and Jiren Are The First To Join Dragon Ball FighterZ In Season Two

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 01/27/2019 - 23:17
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Arc System Works Release: January 26, 2018 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Jiren and Videl are the first two characters to enter the Dragon Ball FighterZ fray in 2018.

Bandai Namco accidentally let threw up a trailer for the characters, which was likely not supposed to drop until after the conclusion of today's Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour finals, showing off Jiren (who had previously been revealed through Japanese magazine V-Jump) and Videl, who was the first to uncover the mystery of Gohan's Saiyaman ruse and the ended up marrying him.

The trailer also shows off a tease for Dragon Ball Super Broly and SSGSS Gogeta.

You can watch the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

While season 2 was not datamined like the first season was, the leaker that came out with the entire first season's roster has allegedly resurfaced in recent weeks to report on more characters. Several weeks ago, a picture on an image board purported that Videl with Great Saiyaman, Dragon Ball Super Broly, Jiren, and Gogeta were part of the season pass, all of which have been revealed.  They also said Janemba, Zarbon, Majin Vegeta, Ultra Instinct Goku, Kefla, Super Saiyan 4 Goku, and Raditz would join in. Since Bandai Namco only announced eight characters at the moment, it's hard to say if this list has more options than intended to throw people off or the season has way more characters than announced.

Categories: Games

A Puzzle Platformer About Fighting The Darkness

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 01/27/2019 - 21:00
Publisher: Chucklefish Developer: Hidden Layer Games Release: 2019 Platform: Switch, PC

Inmost, an upcoming story-driven puzzle platformer from the publisher of Stardew Valley, is a game about fighting the darkness. It follows three playable characters that each have "one dark, interconnecting story," describes the official website.

Taking place in an abandoned castle, you explore its depths while avoiding detection from dangerous monsters. As you progress, you can search for secret passages, lure enemies into deadly traps, and solve puzzles.

The trailer below shows off its beautiful pixelated aesthetic and emotional musical score.

Click here to watch embedded media

Inmost releases on Switch and Steam later this year. 

Categories: Games

BioWare On Updating Anthem, Listening To Feedback, And Crossplay

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 01/25/2019 - 19:03

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

We recently played a whole lot of Anthem, covering sections in the beginning, middle, and end of the game. There’s lots to dig into, and you can listen to our early impressions of how Anthem’s flight, mission structure, and multiplayer work on the latest episode of New Gameplay Today. 

We also caught up with lead producer Mike Gamble to talk about some of the nuances of maintaining a live game, how BioWare is already listening to feedback and tweaking the game up until launch, and more.

Game Informer: From what we’ve played today, I have a better sense of the structure of the game, in terms of how the mission flow works. How much of that do you feel is in flux? How much of it do you see as evolving over the course of the game's lifespan, in terms of adding new mission types, things like that?

Mike Gamble: We can do a couple of things, and we have plans to actually do many things. The first thing is, when you play the game in freeplay, or even when you play in some of the missions, a lot of how the combat is set up – the creatures as well as the types of gameplay activities that you have in combat – we can keep adding to that pool.

You have an Annex, where you have to hold a point down, as part of that pool. We can add new gameplay mechanics like capture the flag. And then we can add new enemies to the pool, which will dynamically update all of those existing encounters with those enemy types, more strategic objectives, things like that. So we'll do all that.

In terms of the structure, you might have seen the launch bay, which is kind of like a social-style space. The idea is that when you get to the elder game and you just want to run quick missions with your friends, you would go back to the launch bay, ready up quick, do your loot resolution, and then go back out. You don't necessarily have to go back to Fort Tarsis. When we add new content, we have the choice to make it stuff that's accessible via the launch bay, or accessible via Tarsis, or both, and that's a very different type of content.

If it's story-based content, which affects the characters in Tarsis, we'll ask you to go back to Tarsis. If it's different types of content that doesn't affect the characters in Tarsis, or introduces new characters, you might use the launch bay exclusively. We have some flex in how that works.

Part of how we use that stuff will be based on who's playing and how they're playing. If folks are playing primarily endgame with groups, then we'll cater towards that and vice-versa, so if people want more story content we'll add to that. I'd say the structure is set for what we want to launch, but it's extensible and flexible for post-launch.

Is that content going to scale to different group sizes? Is the idea that you'll be able to have a group of four do anything in the game?

For the launch game, yeah, definitely.

Do you have plans to add things with different player counts?

We look at everything. I'm being super generic for a reason: We're not taking anything off the table. We're balancing the game right now, and the other game stuff, and the main game stuff for four players. What happens after that, we don't know.

In terms of adding content in the post-game, how much of that is going to be free versus paid?

We're definitely letting players extend their time with the game by adding free stuff. Absolutely, definitely. In terms of adding things in the future, we haven't really planned that, we don't know. Honestly, it's like, maybe a new Javelin will come out, or maybe an entirely new class that changes everything will come out, we don't know yet. But the idea is story updates, changing the world in ways we have control over, so changing enemy types, adding new enemy types, things like that. We want all that to be kind of the free, ongoing live-service stuff. Adding more weapons, adding more gear, adding more cosmetics, with the hope that to support that, on the live-service stuff, people are buying cosmetics.

We got to see some of the interactions you can have with people in Fort Tarsis. How much do the choices you make in those conversations change your relationships with those characters?

Usually what will happen, and I don't want to spoil the story aspect of it too much, we have a faction-reputation system in the game. Basically, you can earn reputation for the Arcanists, the Freelancers, or for the Sentinels. The choices that you make in these conversations favor some of those factions, and some give you points for other factions. So even if you're talking to the Arcanists, if you're talking to Mathias, and you tell him something that is anti-Arcanists, or negative to Arcanists, then it will up [your reputation with] the Freelancers.

You manage those reputation pools, and of course doing missions, and freeplay, and other things also add to those reputation pools. Then there's the character-specific stuff, which is like, if I say this, does this character do this forever? And yes, there are examples of those littered throughout. Usually, you have to build the relationship to a certain point before you can start to make those decisions. You may have seen in the demo that you can get one or two characters almost to that point. Then it changes the outcome of that character.

Outcome as in of the plot, or do you get different rewards based on your loyalties to these factions?

Both. In terms of the factions, if you favor the Arcanists, you'll have different blueprint unlocks. It says that in your challenge screen, it'll be like "Arcanist Whatever 1, look at all the things you can unlock with that." Then part of it is a little piece of Fort Tarsis will change once you do those things as well. So for example, I don't remember if it's the Arcanists or the Freelancers, but one of the factions, once you get to their level one or two challenge, then the fountain in Fort Tarsis clears up and it's no longer full of sludgy goop and it's like a flowing fountain. Examples of that are kind of littered throughout.

In terms of rewards for the player, are there faction-specific guns, or cosmetic sets?

There are not faction-specific guns, but there are crafting blueprints you can only unlock by doing those faction challenges. It's not like the Arcanist pistol, but the it's like a pistol that you only get it by doing that [challenge].

How much of that faction stuff is malleable? If I got to this level with this faction, but I want this blueprint from another faction, can I double back and try to make up with them?

The good thing about the factions is that conversations and choices are only one input into the system. So if you go out and there's Arcanists who are in trouble, and you rescue those Arcanists in a world event, you'll get Arcanist faction points, and since that kind of content is replayable. If you really wanted to, you can go after the specific things from the other factions. Ideally, after many, many, many hours, you could get all three factions to 100 percent if you do that.

Are there going to be any faction-specific missions?

Right now the faction-specific missions are the ones that Mathias, Brin, and Yarrow give you. Yarrow represents the Freelancers. He'll give you a number of missions before the endgame, and also missions after the endgame, about that faction, Brin represents the Sentinels, same thing. Yarrow is the Arcanist group. You'll have an number of Arcanist missions, you've probably played a few of them. Once you hit the end of the critical path, then some more of them open up for you to play. And then there's contracts.

So those are missions that I might be able to unlock that other people wouldn't? Is that the case?

You will unlock them once you – that one isn't tied to your faction level, those are tied to completing the previous mission.

So there wouldn't be any mission where one person unlocks it and the other person hasn't unlocked it?

Correct. We don't really want to have that. For example, if you're on Mathias' third mission, and I'm not, I can still join your mission if you invite me. We should probably be clear about the fact that I haven't unlocked that one yet, and that's a tweak that we're going to make in the game. But I should still be able to play it with you. But then, later on, I haven't unlocked it, so I'm going to have to unlock it.

Is any of the stuff going to be retroactive? Would you have to do that mission again later?

Yes. So what'll happen is, when we're in a squad or I'm reinforcing you, I'm kind of helping you as part of quickplay, I'm helping you out. I get the benefits by getting XP rewards, basically being able to further my job and loot. But it's not done for me in the story. Because then that would cause some interesting issues where if you're on Mathias V and I'm only my Mathias I, and then if I help you and finish Mathias V, then what happens to one through four? So we don't want to do that to players. We want to give them the best of both worlds. You can still play missions that you haven't unlocked yet, because other games might not let you do that. But at the same time, we don't want to auto-complete it for you.

For the quickplay, are there going to be some mission types that aren't going to have matchmaking?

No. They'll all have matchmaking. The only ones that don't have matchmaking are the introductory missions. Because the narrative of the introduction is that you're a single freelancer in this scenario, and we're going to matchmake people.

Then of course, the game is a dedicated-server model, so when you're in Fort Tarsis you're not in a dedicated server, you're on your own. But then when you go out into the world you're in a dedicated server. You can set that server to be private, so just you on a dedicated server, and you can play the game as you want solo, then go back to Tarsis.

But we hope that players eventually realize that playing with friends is really beneficial.

One of the most requested features for games like this is crossplay. Where do you all sit on that?

We're in the "pro" column. We want to do it. It's just not going to be there for launch. We're going to look into it a lot more, we've already been looking into it quite a bit. We'll have more news on that later. But in terms of how does the Anthem development team feel about it? We want you to play with friends, that's the thing about Anthem. If your friend happens to own an Xbox, and you happen to own a PlayStation, we still want you to play with your friends, so that's what we're going for.

Do you see PC being able to interact with that at all?

Oh yeah, yeah. PC interacting with consoles, same thing.

Would there also be potential for cross-save, carrying your characters around consoles and PC?

That is actually easier than crossplay. The way it all works is that there is a local save file, but that's not really not where everything is stored. Everything stored is on your account. Allowing you to access that stuff on another platform is actually easier to solve. But still, not for launch.

Diving back into the story stuff. Let's say I have a group of four who want to see the whole game through. People do things at different paces. How do you see that blending in with the mission structure?

You have to play at your own pace. If you're grouped up with a bunch of your friends who are yelling at you, well then you know that you're not going to be able to read all the Cortex entries in Fort Tarsis. But you then know that you can log into the game, or after your friends are done or whatever, and then you can do all that stuff solo; you can do that at your own pace.

Likewise, if you're playing with your friends, and you want to talk to some people, make some decisions, you can say, "See you guys, you guys run this mission, we're going to be in chat while you're messing around in Tarsis." That's fine too. And then afterwards if you want to join a group of randos, or invite some randos into your game. It's supposed to be asynchronous, so that you can play at your own pace, rather than being forced into a certain structure. If you choose to play with all four people at once through the critical path, this totally supports that. But if you choose to break away from that, it also supports that as well. 

Ultimately, it kind of comes down to this: Everyone plays these games differently, and we have to try to support as many of those play styles as possible. A lot of the traditional BioWare fans who usually play games single-player, they don't get into the whole "I group up every night at 8 p.m. with my crew and we go do this stuff," so we had to give an opportunity for them to play as well. Likewise, if you play with peeps, then the game supports that because even if one guy couldn't make it one night and you guys move forward and play the next critical-path mission, he or she could easily join up with you to play the next one.

How scalable is that going to be? Let's say I have more hours per week to dedicate to Anthem in the long run in the endgame versus some of my friends, and there's a new stronghold that requires a high power level. How scalable is that? Are they going to be able to jump in with me?

Yes. That's the whole reason why we did this. This is an example at its extreme, just so you're aware. You've been playing Anthem forever, and you've unlocked Grandmaster Three, the hardest difficulty that we have, I can't even beat Grandmaster Three right now. So you're playing with two other people, and then your new friend has bought the game for the first time and gotten past to tutorials and is into Lost Arcanist. You can invite that person into your Grandmaster Three stronghold, because damage and loot and everything is relative, and it's instanced to the player. You'll have a really hard experience and people will shoot you in the face and you'll die quick, but you'll also get legendary loot. Your friend will get common and uncommon loot. When they kill enemies, it will be a relative difficulty to them. So everyone is still leveling up relative to their power level, but there's no, "Oh no, you guys can't join us because you aren't cool enough."

How are you approaching balance in Anthem? There's no PvP, but how amenable are you to feedback from the community, of like "oh, this particular gun is too strong." Are you seeing problems like that?

Yeah. Already. We're super-amenable. Obviously, if anyone knows anything about this kind of game, one person's buff is another person's nerf, usually. It's just kind of how it is. But we're paying attention as much as possible. I don't know if you've seen, but we're doing livestreams, we're active on Reddit, we're trying to foster that relationship even before we get out so that people know who we are, people know who to come to, they know who to yell at, they know who to praise, we want all of that going into launch.

There's going to be things that will happen, that we need to fix. No one gets it right 100 percent of the time. We want to do that, and we can tweak all that in the backend. This includes the economy, so that's one big thing where it's like, "All right, when players play the demo on the weekends, you absolutely positively have to know that the economy is different in than the game.” Because it's a shorter amount of time, we wanted to make things easier to get, so you can get them. Likewise, when the game comes out, we want to make sure things are fair to earn. And we're monitoring player feedback on all that, too.

What's been the thing that's changed most in development based on community feedback?

A bunch of different stuff. Anything from UI changes, the infamous "damage floaties" thing, that was a big one, being able to turn to damage numbers that pop up off, tweak them. Questions about how to access certain things, how to give specific loot rewards for doing specific things.

Also being able to play in a social way so we added the launch bay, which we never had before. Before we had this concept of going back to your Strider and then mulling around with your crew for a bit, then going back out. That didn't really serve the vision for the game at all, which Tarsis really serves that well. So we said, "Hey, let's put the Strider away, and put a social hub in instead." So it's constant listening and changing like that, which we've done all the way until launch. We're going to be doing from now until launch, and obviously post launch. There's a team dedicated to doing it.

With a lot of games like this, it always feels like the first year is the roughest in terms of variety of things to do. Then a year from now, people say “Destiny is good now,” or “The Division has more content.” Where do you feel Anthem is going to sit on that spectrum? Do you think Anthem will be a very different game a year after launch? Or do you feel you're where you need to be?

I feel like we have what we need at launch. It's a good framework, and the narrative conceit is there, the storytelling base to continue to build on, the type of content that we want to release post launch, we already know fits in well with everything. The systems are extendable, like we talked about at the beginning. Everything is there to build and continue building on. Make no mistake, as I said earlier as well, there are going to be things that have to change, there are going to be things that the community wants that we haven't built into the game and we're going to pivot. Casey [Hudson] actually released a blog today that said as much, which is like, "We've done everything we can, and now the last missing component is all the people who are going to play the game and give feedback."

Then it is what it is. It's no longer in our hands, it's now the people who are playing the game, buying stuff, enjoying the game. They get to help us figure out where we're going.

What kind of feedback are you most interested in right now?

I'm interested in seeing if people are enjoying the characters they're meeting in Tarsis. They're unique little stories, and how they play out over time. That's just my personal bias, because I'm the Mass Effect guy or whatever. I like that. I think what's important to the long-term health of the game is economy feedback, that's a huge thing. Does it feel like you're actively pursuing a great reward every time you go out? Do you want to do it again and again? That's the kind of thing that we care about a lot. That's why there's been a couple of closed alphas and the demo is coming out. We're listening to all that stuff.

Categories: Games