Games

Semblance Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 18:00

Semblance is a game that relies on your enjoyment of the satisfying feeling that comes with the act of reshaping objects and environments. The game's world and its unnamed blobby protagonist are as malleable as playdough, and it's up to you to restore this world after it is infected by another harder, sharper race of blob. It's thin on plot justification, but that's fine--Semblance is a solid puzzle-platformer with a great hook and well-designed levels.

The game has you solve level-manipulation puzzles to collect numerous scattered orbs floating just outside of your reach. When you come across an orb, the camera will zoom out so that every piece of the landscape you need to solve the puzzle fits within a single screen, and it's up to you to figure out which platforms and walls to bend and shape to reach the orb. Levels are decorated using limited color palettes, but if a platform or wall has one consistent color tone, you can squish and deform it with your body.

Your character, a small indistinct blob, can move, jump, dash, and "reset" shifted pieces of the environment. Dashing allows you to shift or reshape platforms and dig crevices into larger parts of the level. You might need to dash into a suspended platform from below to push it up, creating a hump you can use to reach a higher ledge; alternatively, you might need to dash into the ground to create a hole so that a dangerous object moving on a set path through the level will pass over the top of you. At several points you can wall-jump by dashing into the platforms around you, creating little crevices to move between. It's all about finding ways to bend the environment into the shape you need it, with some mild platforming elements thrown in.

The puzzles in the game get much more complex over time with the addition of new obstacles and mechanics. In later levels, you're able to squash yourself flat, horizontally or vertically, which allows you to jump higher or further (like you're a frisbee being thrown around) and fit through narrow gaps, which leads to some great puzzle designs but also highlights the game's slightly fiddly controls. The blob's inertia is hard to come to grips with, and it's a little harder to move sideways in the air than it is in most platformers. It's easy to dash in the wrong direction during a jump, and on a few occasions, a platforming section seemingly became more difficult than necessary, because during a dash I'd deformed the platform I was meant to land on. Thankfully there's an option to reset the screen, but this can mean repeating a lot of steps during the more complicated puzzles.

Semblance is often frustrating, but solving a puzzle, and figuring out which step you've been missing in your process, can be very rewarding. Mid-way through the game you'll start to encounter lights that can snap objects back to their original form if they touch them. These lights are used for several clever puzzles; for example, you might need to press a platform down so that it touches a light below you, causing you to shoot into the air when the platform springs back into its original shape like you've just jumped on a trampoline. The game finds lots of inventive ways to deploy this trick throughout the game. There are a few moments where puzzle solutions are immediately obvious, or ideas get reused, but most screens require lateral thinking from the player. Insta-kill laser beams and fields that block your dash ability are also used to clever effect throughout.

Semblance is a charming experience, with a cute protagonist and nice sense of visual style, even if it never quite tips over into being properly beautiful. The art and sound design are both perfectly fine, but also quite repetitive over the course of the game. The game also tries to deliver story through vague cave paintings scrawled throughout the world, but there's not enough sense of place to make them worth paying close attention to. I also encountered a few glitches--I once got stuck inside a wall, and on another occasion I fell through the floor, hurtling through an endless void. A quick reset fixed these issues and I did not lose much progress, but there's a general pervasive stickiness to some of the game's surfaces that feels inconsistent, and this can be frustrating.

Semblance is a short game--you'll likely be finished within two or three hours, with the final area feeling particularly brief. This is a length that works perfectly well for some games, but Semblance feels like it should have more to offer--the ending arrives much faster than you'd expect after some build-up in the final level, and while the puzzles are clever and fun it feels like more could have been done to diversify the experience. Upon finishing the game it felt like something was missing.

Because it's so short, and the puzzles never get particularly fiendish, Semblance is an enjoyable but light experience. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--it's a relaxed game, a good one to clear over a few sessions in bed or on the train if you're playing on Switch--but it also means that it doesn't feel like the game realizes its full conceptual potential. But the fact that I desperately wanted more, and that I was disappointed when Semblance abruptly ended, says more about the game's strengths than its weaknesses. This is a good idea realized and executed well, even though you're likely to come away from it wishing for just a bit more.

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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 17:00

Fans of the melee-focused Metroidvania-platformer Guacamelee have been hotly anticipating the poultry-filled sequel since its announcement last October. Now it seems Guacamelee 2 is ready for primetime with a release date announcement of August 21.

Guacamelee 2 brings four-player co-op to the series but still retains all the melee combos and 2D exploration that fans have come to expect from the series. Check out the new footage in the release date trailer below.

Guacamelee 2 will be launching on PlayStation 4 and Steam. Drinkbox hasn't said if the game will be coming to other platforms, but told us at PSX last year to simply look at how the first game progressed. For now, though, the announced versions of Guacamelee 2 will be available on August 21.

Categories: Games

Hi-Rez's Fantasy Take On Battle Royale Comes To PS4 In Beta Form

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 16:12

The free-to-play Realm Royale arrived earlier this summer in Early Access on PC. Hi-Rez's colorful take on battle royale is more based in fantasy that military operations, with forging and horseback riding playing a big role in the minute-by-minute gameplay.

Dan Tack liked what he played and sees promise in the game. "The battle royale genre is certainly going to suffer from saturation in the coming years," he says, "but Realm Royale is worth a look." PS4 players will be able to determine whether that promise shines through for them as early as next week when the game hits closed beta.

You can watch a trailer for Realm Royale in action right here:

You can find instructions for how to sign up for the beta on Playstation's official post.

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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 15:30

The Occupation, a time-based investigative thriller from White Paper Games, is releasing on October 9 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

After a bombing has shaken Britain and given the government authority to strip away civil rights from the citizenry, you play a journalist tasked with figuring out what happened and talking to the government agents ready to push a yoke on the populace. You can politely sit there and accept their propaganda or walk around and discover the truth for yourself. Events play out in real time, so whatever you're doing, you're using that time not doing something else.

Playing The Occupation was one of our highlights of Day of the Devs last year.

In addition to a digital release, White Paper Games has partnered with publisher Sold Out to release a retail version of the title out the same day. Strap up your work boots and get ready to uncover a conspiracy when the game releases in October.

Categories: Games

A New Season Begins In Madden 19's The Longshot: Homecoming Story Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 15:00

Last year's Longshot story mode was a cool addition to the Madden franchise, but while I was endeared to the game's characters and the performances by the voice actors, it wasn't as fun to play through the football moments themselves. Madden 19 is attempting to change that with more "regular" football sequences while still exploring the characters we've come to know and love as well as some new ones, like the GM played by Rob Schneider.

I played through the first hour or so of the mode, and you can see not only the game's first fifteen minutes, which sets up where Devin and Colt are now, but also where the story goes from there.

Warning: The videos and text below contain spoilers. LONGSHOT: HOMECOMING – THE FIRST 15 MINUTES

The story picks up more or less where we left it in the last game: Devin is trying to make his way into the NFL, with playcalling verbiage still not his strong suit, and Colt is kicking around back in Mathis, trying to draft off of whatever Longshot fame – be it from the show or the song – he can grab onto. 

  LONGSHOT: HOMECOMING – AN EXTENDED LOOK

One of the main things I noticed while playing the mode – other than there's more regular football to be had – is that so far there aren't the choices that the first one had. This includes dialog choices. So while you're playing on the field more, there aren't as many decisions to make off of it. It'll be interesting to see if this changes as the story goes on – which looks to include as many twists and turns and colorful characters as the first Longshot. While the clip below doesn't show Colt taking the field, don't worry, not all the football is going to be played through Devin's point of view.

Categories: Games

Six Gameplay Tools That Could Make A Difference For FIFA 19

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 15:00

The FIFA series has its licenses and modes fairly well covered, from the re-acquired Champions League to the dominance of Ultimate Team. The franchise's gameplay component has been improving this generation, but it still needs some further refinement. FIFA 19 is giving players a few new gameplay tools to help open up its possibilities.

Reflexive Touches
Not every pass you're going to get is going to be perfect, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to corral it or adapt to the situation. The latest version of the game I played had situations where players might try to bring in an errant pass with their trailing foot or even shoot from a less-than-ideal body position. The flip side of this is that your accuracy might be off and the odds not great, but it at least gives you a chance, whereas in other years you'd have to suffer through a longer animation.

Analog Flicks
I personally don't use a lot of special moves because I don't always trust I have the time or space to execute them, but the new analog flicks with the right analog stick could be a shortcut of sorts. These let you pop up and control the ball in mid-air so you can get around someone or unleash a volley. Of course, when you're trying to be fancy, time will always be a factor, and the ball may pop up a little higher than you expect at times (Perhaps this depends on your attribute levels, I'm not sure). Still, in the right situation I expect to use them to create a little magic.

50/50 Balls
Who gets possession of a lose ball isn't always realistic in the FIFA series, but developer EA Vancouver is working on which animations trigger in these situations to produce more realistic results.

I'm torn on this one: I've seen some cool effects of players coming together to get a loose ball where the ball bounces around due to the chaos going on, but that was back at E3. In my recent time with the title, the 50/50 animations were less pronounced. Also, since they're animation based, players will still have to rely on the game itself to deliver the right outcome. Hopefully when the game comes out these will continue to trigger when appropriate and award the correct possession of the ball.

More Flexible Tactics
Strategy is as big a part of soccer as the beautiful touches of the ball, and FIFA 19 is offering more flexibility by allowing players to change their formation and tactics due to the situation. Pressing on the d-pad won't just tell your players to generically be defensive or aggressive like in the past, but it can be set up to trigger a specific formation or pressing style, for instance, which you've already chosen. Could this help put an end to coughing up a two-goal lead?

Timed Finishing
When shooting, hit the shot button again right before you're player is about to make contact with the ball and they'll get a more accurate and powerful shot. To help understand the timing involved, you can turn on an optional color meter which you can also see in the instant replay. Even if you get the timing right you won't automatically score a goal, but it certainly improves your chances. EA Vancouver says that it learned from how overpowered the low driven shot was in FIFA 18, so hopefully the timed finishing remains as hard to pull off as it has been in my experience.

Passing Accuracy
This was a problem in FIFA 18, and therefore is one of the big questions for FIFA 19's gameplay and whether it can get to the next level. I've played a number of matches, and while I definitely admit that some wayward passes have been down to user error, there were also times that I was surprised when a pass went to a player I never intended. Gameplay producer Kantcho Doskov says the team is aware of the problem and it's something the continue to work on, but admitted there was no magic solution per se.

Categories: Games

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 Review: Mega Museum

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 08:01

Mega Man and Mega Man X are related, but only just. Whereas Mega Man is plucky and wholesome, Mega Man X is often melodramatic and grim. The two series are joined by some loose themes and for being peak action-platforming in the '90s when competition was fierce, but Mega Man X has always been a little more complex and experimental, for better and worse. The Mega Man X Legacy Collection pays homage to the series in its near-entirety, with only a few shortcomings to detract from the overall quality of the compilation.

True to its name, this set captures the legacy of MMX--from the original Super NES classics, to their natural progression onto 32-bit systems, to the somewhat disastrous journey into 3D on the PlayStation 2. Only missing are a handful of Mega Man X curios: the pair of Xtreme Gameboy titles, the Maverick Hunter X remake for the PSP, and the strangely endearing spin-off RPG Command Mission. Three of those four were remakes or retellings in one way or another, so their absence is understandable.

With such a wide variety of emulation represented, technical proficiency becomes the key to a successful collection. The Switch version, where I spent most of my playtime, performed on-par with expectations, with no more slowdown on the Super NES titles than I remembered, and consistently smooth quality on the more technically demanding PlayStation- and PlayStation 2-era games.

The original Mega Man X is still a blast 25 years after its debut, with its combination of classic Mega Man gameplay with increased speed and agility feeding off of a soundtrack that pops and fizzes with the energy of a synth-heavy 80s rock band. Collections like this give a chance to appreciate just how unique its ideas were: Stages that shift based on which bosses have already been defeated build the world in subtle ways; Optional power-ups that center around proper mastery of the dash-jump combo, and give a special sense of accomplishment that favors especially skilled play; Special secondary functions for charged boss weapons that add another layer of strategy. It all holds up spectacularly, and still feels enjoyable from start to finish.

Mega Man X2 built on the original concepts and took those high-level skills for granted. This makes it both a natural progression and, sometimes, too clever for its own good. The upgrades require more backtracking, and the punishment for missing a power-up is often instant death. The addition of optional super-bosses, the X-Hunters, was a concept that would continue across several games, but the genesis here may be the best implementation of it. Mega Man X3, by comparison, suffers sequel fatigue with a few too many collectible doodads and boss animations that are noticeably less detailed and flowing than their other SNES counterparts. Fortunately, it’s one of the rarest Mega Man games, and one of the easiest to have missed back in its day, so having access to it again at all is a small prize.

In a way, the entire collection itself is the museum--an entire series, with all its beauty and its blemishes, on display for its audience to judge and assess years later.

Mega Man X4 is where the series transitioned to PlayStation, and serves as a refresh. The new platform gave an opportunity for reimagined sprites, introduced the ability to play through the entire game as the popular character Zero, and somehow, miraculously, didn’t lose a step for the transition. It serves as a rare example of a platform-crossing sequel that didn’t shed any of the original magic.

Mega Man X5 builds upon that firm foundation with some novel ideas like two collectible sets of armors. The classic guesswork of sussing out boss weaknesses is diminished somewhat by splitting the sets of bosses in two, thereby halving the possibilities. But it features multiple endings, and adds the ability to duck for new wrinkles of platforming complexity. It’s also the most narratively coherent, intended as a farewell to the character Zero. Obviously, that didn’t last. Mega Man X6, like X3 before it, is the third game on a platform and starts to diminish in some ways that are hard to ignore--namely weaker animations and a lack of English voiceover in cutscenes. In fact, all of the PS1-era cutscenes look worse for the wear on an HD screen.

And while Legacy Collection also includes Mega Man X7 and Mega Man X8, these are the lowlights for a series that unfortunately stumbled its way across the finish line. The less said about X7, the better. It was a clumsy experiment in taking the franchise to 3D, at the cost of all the exacting control for which the series had deservedly earned its reputation. It also famously introduced Axl, a young new Hunter who is as over-designed as he is obnoxiously voiced. Axl’s weapon is more suited to 3D than X or Zero, which is itself a concession to the impracticality of it all. Mega Man X8 finishes the series by learning hard lessons and going back to the side-scroller genre, albeit in 2.5D. Despite the half-baked attempt, it’s just not the same. It’s as if X, Zero, and Axl are wearing lead boots. It fails to capture the seamless speed and agility that made the older games so special, so it’s a sour note to end on.

In sum, then, the first half of the collection is significantly stronger than the second. That serves to emphasize how strange it is that the collection as a whole is bifurcated. The split gives some flexibility for purchasing, but it would have been nice to have an option in which all eight games are housed under a single roof. As it is, the collection is split into two distinct pieces of software, and jumping back and forth between them to sample the various games is inelegant.

The “X Challenge” mode is the most substantial new feature in the Legacy Collection, challenging you to take on a gauntlet of bosses, two at a time. These are curated fights, and at the beginning of each set you can choose a set of three special weapons to bring along. Since it’s mixing and matching bosses from across separate games, it takes some experimentation to find weapons that are effective against the widest range of enemies, and which ones will have to be taken down with the simple X-Buster. The challenges in each half of the collection are similar to each other, but include a slightly different boss line-up and separate leaderboards.

The other features added are to be expected from a retro compilation. A smoothing filter actually bucks the trend of muddy processing effects and looks crisp on the handheld Nintendo Switch screen--though for big-screen play, classic pixel-perfect is still the way to go. A Rookie Hunter toggle reduces the difficulty for a more relaxed experience. A set of Hunter Medals track and reward the full breadth of Mega Man X challenges, from completing armor sets or finishing games to more obscure ones like receiving Zero’s Arm Part in the original MMX. Some are even devilishly difficult, offering challenges that seasoned veterans may not have realized were even possible. It grants some extra longevity to a set of games that are, ordinarily, known for going by quickly.

A separate Museum feature details a treasure trove of artwork, music tracks, merchandise, and marketing from throughout the series’ history. It could stand to be more complete, but the material that is present archives the series’ history well.

In a way, the entire collection itself is the museum--an entire series, with all its beauty and its blemishes, on display for its audience to judge and assess years later. Parts of this legacy have aged horribly, but they’re still undeniably a piece of Mega Man X history. We’ve been told that the upcoming Mega Man 11 was greenlit thanks in part to fan interest in the original Mega Man Legacy Collection. If Capcom follows with a proper sequel to Mega Man X, this compilation provides valuable lessons on what the series is, what it isn’t, and what it can be when given the chance.

Categories: Games

Meet The Cast Of Dangaronpa Creator's Survival RPG, Zanki Zero

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 23:30

We first took note of Zanki Zero when it was announced earlier this year with a flashy trailer and a strong pedigree at GDC. The new game from the Danganronpa producer and director takes the deadly trial visual novel and uses its personality to expand into a different kind of genre.

The world has ended and clones living on an island have thirteen day cycles to grow up and grow old and die until they eventually overcome their genetics to live full lives, setting the premise for the game. Considering you'll probably be spending a lot of time with these characters, it makes sense to get to know them, which this character trailer does in style.

Each character has young, adult, and old variations with seemingly different takes on their foundational personalities. We'll likely get more about the cast of characters, and the weird environment and circumstances they find themselves in, as get closer to the game's Spring 2019 release.

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 20:30

Raiders of the Broken Planet, an online shooter from Metroid: Samus Returns developer MercurySteam, launched last year to some interest. The campaign-based multiplayer shooter saw new released last September with three campaigns split up for $10 each, but it appears that the pricing model hasn't worked out. The game is being relaunched as a free-to-play title under the new name of Spacelords.

“When we launched Raiders September last year, we hoped its low price point of 9.99 per campaign would open it up to a large number of users, but it didn’t work as we planned” said Spacelords' director Enric Álvarez. 

The main thrust of the relaunch is to expand the world of Raiders of the Broken Planet beyond, well, the raiders. MercurySteam wants to incorporate the game's antagonists and new human factions to expand the options for players. The relaunch is also bringing a new character to the mix, Valeria, completely free. 

For people who previously bought campaigns, MercurySteam plans to provide what they describe as "top-quality content," but doesn't plan to detail that until later. The fourth campaign that was planned before the name change will launch alongside Spacelords next month.

Raiders of the Broken Planet is flipping the switch to Spacelords on August 23 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

New Shadow Of The Tomb Raider Video Gives Us An In-Depth Look At Paititi

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 19:25

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is only a few months away, so Square Enix is giving players the longest look at the game yet with a new video showcasing the Paititi area.

Paititi contains a hub for Lara to explore and interact with the various indigenous people to take on new side quests, similar to 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider. Lara can also investigate nooks and crannies to find hidden secrets and challenge tombs along the way. Check out the video below.

Paititi is apparently the largest hub in the Tomb Raider series, with Square Enix saying that the area has hours of content on its own. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the first game in the series to be developed by Eidos Montreal and will release on September 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Earthfall Review: An Inferior Invasion

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 18:00

It’d be easy to dismiss Earthfall as nothing more than a Left 4 Dead clone, and you wouldn't be wrong to do so. Despite riffing on well-known and beloved source material, Earthfall drags, with unremarkable missions and mediocre gunplay weighing down almost every action-packed setup. Any potential it shows is ultimately undercut by one thing or another, and your enthusiasm suffers along with it.

As one of a group of four players fighting back against an alien invasion, you will blast through gruesome swarms of enemies while completing simple objectives and hopefully make it to the next safehouse to catch your breath and resupply. You regularly encounter choke points during missions where your team gets surrounded by enemies, and Earthfall attempts to make these familiar moments interesting by giving you mobile barricades that can be used to create holding points. But frustratingly, it feels like there’s no rhyme or reason to these encounters as enemies just keep coming at you randomly, making it very difficult to strategize as you attempt to fortify your position.

There are rare moments when Earthfall settles into a groove, such as when you get the chance to blow up a group of enemies with a well-placed shot to a gas tank on the back of forklift. Most of the time, however, your encounters are far less impactful. Enemies are usually bullet sponges, especially some of the special varieties. And despite there being a variety of firearms, including shotguns and rifles, they generally sound flat--thin as a hand clap at the end of a long hallway.

The alien designs, particularly a lot of the drone enemy variants, look like rejected models from the film Pitch Black--large, muscular creatures with glowing heads. Some of the special types, despite being highly derivative, do look cool, however. There's the Blackout, a floating octopus-like creature that can shield itself and swiftly dart about the map, and the Enrager, which looks like a giant levitating brain mass that emits a pulse which makes enemies more aggressive. The rest come off as either uninspired or just a bit silly looking, lacking the kind of fearsome quality that you’d expect from a race that’s forcefully taken over the planet.

If there’s any part of Earthfall that you can latch onto, it’s the schlocky story that puts your rag-tag group into a position where they are directly responsible for standing up against the invaders. It’s dumb fun in the way that any B-grade action film can be; you won’t care about what’s going on or which character is doing what. It’s mindless--if temporary--fun. Similarly, the level design helps this along by being interesting enough to want to explore. Each of the maps feel large, which is good given that there are only 10 of them. There isn’t enough there to warrant coming back and seeing the same things time and time again.

Unfortunately, Earthfall’s online experience can be summed up as non-existent on Xbox. Not even once was I put into a public game with another player, nor did anyone join my public lobbies over the entire 12 hours I spent playing it. When I finally did manage to invite one other random player to a game, the connection seemed fine except for one shaky moment that dropped both of us out to the title screen.

Earthfall follows a proven concept, but its delivery feels outdated, derivative, and woefully underdeveloped. The thought of a new game in the style of Left 4 Dead sounds great, but you would hope that whatever comes out surpasses its inspirations or at least matches it. Earthfall simply doesn't have the content or concepts to make a case for itself in a world where the two Left 4 Dead games are still viable options, and far better ones at that.

Categories: Games

Powering Up In Madden 19 Ultimate Team

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 15:00

After Madden Ultimate Team fans didn't like how Madden 18 handled powering up specific players in the mode (it was too expensive and ultimate not worth it), developer EA Tiburon has gone back to the drawing board for Madden 19, making the feature more user-friendly in a variety of ways (click and scroll down in this past installment of The Sports Desk for more).

I recently got to tour Ultimate Team in Madden 19, and received lots of info from associate producer Nick Schrieber.

Note: Info in this article, such as training values, may change by the time the game is released. I honestly don't think any of the alterations – if there are any – are going to be drastic, but they may change.

 

Training Quickselling

In years past, quickselling cards for coin was a waste because you got next to nothing back for the card you were selling. I was nervous that quickselling cards for training points to power up cards in Madden 19 would be a similar pittance, but that doesn't look to be the case.

  • I had a Longshot Ultimate Team card that was nothing special, and selling it got me 100 training points. How far did this go? It enabled me to get my initial Xavier Rhodes Power Up card up to 80 – and with two chem slots.
     
  • Even having a Core Elite card will get a lot of training points (550). Bronzes and silvers are only two points, but it may escalate from there. Legends will be thousands.
     
  • There will be Training Quicksell cards like there are Coin Quicksell cards. Hitting the jackpot with a quicksell always makes a MUT player's day.
     
  • You can also get training in solo reward packs and possibly through objectives.

It will be interesting to see if it’ll be worth it to sacrifice a card for training vs. selling that card instead and taking the coins and buying a card comparable to where your Power up card is at. Or, again, like M18’s Power Up cards, if the end result Power Up card isn’t worth what you sacrificed in training points from melted cards and getting the requisite cards along the way.

  Upgrading

So from my impression that training points won't be scarce, what cards can you actually power up? There are lots of cards that you can buy chems for (see more below), and there are also designated Power Up cards as well as Legends. Schreiber assured me that there will be plenty of cards to power up – they won't be rare. Check out the video below to see me take my Power Up card to 80 with less than 100 training points. 

  • The Power Up cards in particular are available in programs, set rewards, and specific objective lists. 
     
  • As you upgrade your cards, some levels in the upgrade ladder may require a card, and there may be at times the option to put in the requisite card or pay in training points.
     
  • There are upgrade passes which will take you straight to a certain point in the ladder, like an 80 OVR, for instance. These passes are available through your MUT level (the initial cap is 50). EA is still tweaking how many passes you’ll get via MUT level. These passes may show up in other places, and they won’t be in the marketplace.
     
  • Once a power up card reaches its highest point, it will not be NAT.
     
  • Cards can be stripped of their training. One tier I saw gave me back 50 percent of the training points I had put in to initially unlock it. I don't know if different tiers give back different amounts of training.

 

Chems, Legends & More
  • There are numerous lower-rated cards with only a single chem slot, as well as some with two.
     
  • There may be cards in certain programs where you get a choice of chems when you upgrade, like a Most Feared card having specific Most Feared chems. Schreiber says EA Tiburon may have to alter things if a certain chem gets out of hand.
     
  • The video below gives a glimpse of some early Legends, as well as some programs and sets.
     
  • If you've already played MUT, you can skip the pre-season program and you'll start out at MUT level 10 – with solo battles opened up and a bundle that will give you everything you would have gotten if you started from scratch.
     
  • Tokens can be exchanged for classic alternate uniforms. I saw a creamsicle organge Bucs throwback going for Elite, Gold, and Silver tokens.
Categories: Games

A Deep Dive Into Madden NFL 19's Franchise Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 15:00

Madden NFL 19 is changing the way that gamers progress their players in Franchise mode, moving away from buying traits and dumping XP into specific attributes. Instead gamers will choose player archetype buckets that randomly assign which attributes get bumped and how much (check out my previous preview for more info). This new system takes away granular control, but it also generalizes the process and even introduces an element of randomness that might result in a bigger boost for your player than you expected.

I've played Franchise mode, and have some info and early assessments of the new progression system in particular as well as the mode as a whole.

Team Schemes & Player Fits
  • You can switch your team's offensive and defensive schemes at any point, and you'll see how your players then fit into that scheme (check out the video below). You can also run any playbook you want, so this doesn't change what you do during games. Instead, it's here to tell you how many of your players are deemed a scheme fit and therefore may grow faster in certain attributes.
     
  • Picking a scheme fit is only about player progression and not about you as a coach setting out playstyles for your players or crafting a philosophy and gameplanning for opponents.  The player types the various schemes require (like a Strong Arm QB for a Vertical Zone Run) are general player types like in previous years, are not changeable or tied to how you want to design your offense, for example, and do not utilize the new depth chart designations like your rush defensive tackle.
Maximizing Gains & Archetype Buckets
  • Because the new scheme fits system is about player progression and not designing an actual team strategy, you can min/max the players and attributes you want to focus on by changing your overall scheme each week to fit your needs – regardless of what percentage of a fit it is for the team as a whole. You can pick a scheme fit that suits the appropriate players you want to improve the most, and then when they earn a skill point, spend it on the scheme fit player archetype (the West Coast archetype in the screenshot above) to get the most attribute points (after randomization).
     
  • I tested the randomization a number of times and found that it does indeed award more points on average for those players and archetypes which are designated scheme fits, and this is separate from last year's development trait (Superstar, Quick, etc.). For instance, while a non-scheme archetype might grant five points on average spread across your attributes, a scheme fit one was more likely to give you seven.
     
  • On average, EA Tiburon says that at the end of the year most players' progress should net out to be more or less the same as under last year's system. Randomization makes this different, of course, and while during my time the attributes which were increased with each dice roll all made sense, there were times when I got surprises like getting a nice, fat +4 to my pass blocking, or received as many as nine points added to a spread of appropriate attributes at once.
     
  • The randomization can counter player regression in some areas because if you're a scheme fit you'll have gained more XP in training, but players who are a scheme fit are not less likely to regress in areas related to your scheme.
     
  • Factors like your development trait, coming off an injury, how well the team or player is doing, or a players' overall rating do not influence how many points are assigned. However, when you're already highly rated in a category or you're getting up their in years, the chances of getting big boosts are slimmer.
     
  • Traits (like Clutch, etc.) are no longer purchased, are already assigned to players, and will not change during their career. Senior designer John White says the team contemplated some random earning of traits similar to the attribute points, but they declined to do it.
Various instances of different players receiving randomized attribute bonuses when applying a point to their OVR. Some have more room to grow, and get some big boosts. At the end you can also see XP bonuses for scheme fit players during weekly training.    Scouting, Free Agency & The Draft
  • Scouting is the same, but it now includes a fast scout button. This lets you spend scouting points to unlock the sequential scouting stages from the main scouting page instead of having to first click on the player.
     
  • During free agency and the draft you can see which players are scheme fits for your team. This changes appropriately if you switch your scheme fit at any time. Players may be more inclined to come to your team if they're a scheme fit, but other than that the system does not affect contract amounts in free agency or in the resigning process.
     
  • During the draft you'll see a live background of the draft stage, and when you make your pick you'll see your player standing next to his information card. I didn't see the NFL commissioner or players walk out on stage and put on the hat, however.

Overall, Franchise mode feels similar to those in recent years, and it seems the new scheme fits system is more like an extension of the weekly gameplan section's Focus Training where you're trying to maximize player growth rather than build schemes as a coach that help on game day.

EA Tiburon's senior designer John White says that in early playtesting sessions, nobody wanted to go back to the old system of manually assigning points. Everyone will have their own preference, of course, but I don't think you can call one system less complicated or less tedious than the other given both involve plenty of planning and menu hopping. Regardless, at a minimum you might get lucky due to the randomization factor, so as always, the NFL is going to be unpredictable.

Categories: Games

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Trailers Walkthrough MyClub Additions & Demo Details

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 03:26

Pro Evolution Soccer's MyClub fantasy football mode is getting an overhaul in PES 2019, including boosted players, cheaper agents, and new ways to train players. Previously developer Konami declared that the changes to the mode would make fans approach it differently, and judging by the mode's new trailer walking through its features, it looks like Konami was right.

Apart from the additions listed above, players are no longer restricted by the number of players they can sign, duplicates can be retained or turned in, and there are more online events and rewards. Check it all out in the trailer below.

In other news, the game's demo (PS4, Xbox One, PC) has been announced for August 8 featuring a selection of licensed teams.

For more on the game, check out my hands-on impressions from E3, including more info on changes to the Master League franchise mode.

Categories: Games

Eight Exciting Changes Coming To NBA 2K19's Gameplay

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 20:56

With all the drama of trade demands, free agency surprises, and draft reaches, the NBA is rarely out of the headlines during the offseason. The same goes for the NBA 2K series. Seemingly every day, passionate fans still debate the perceived failures of the last edition, add ideas to hopeful wish lists, and survey social media for locker codes that unlock highly coveted MyTeam cards. Now it’s time to turn our gaze to the series' next entry.

NBA 2K19 has a lot to live up to considering NBA 2K18 simultaneously became the best-selling entry in franchise history while also alienating some hardcore fans with its approach to microtransactions and server instability. While developer Visual Concepts isn’t talking about those elements of the game just yet, we did get to get our hands on the sticks for some limited impressions and talked at length with gameplay director Mike Wang and gameplay producer Scott O’Gallagher about how NBA 2K19 evolves the action on the court. Here are the eight major changes aimed at shoring up NBA 2K18’s deficiencies as well as moving the franchise into the future. 

New Takeover System

One of the more noticeable changes coming to NBA 2K19 is a new game system that celebrates the idea that any NBA player can take over a game at any time. Think of this Takeover concept as a more nuanced take on the “On Fire” system from the arcade classic NBA Jam. 

The way Takeover works is players of each archetype have unique ways to exert their dominance during a game. For instance, playmakers take over by setting up teammates for easy buckets, rim protectors change the trajectory of a game by locking down the paint, etc. As the player exercises his will against the opponent using his specialties, he builds up a takeover meter. Once activated, you will see an on fire badge underneath the player on the court, which indicates the player has unlocked a new tier of special animations and badges that align with their archetype. For instance, playmakers like Rajon Rondo won’t suddenly be raining down threes while on fire NBA Jam style. Instead, they may get Dimer and Ankle Breaker boosts.

Holding the left bumper button, you can check where all your players on the court are at in terms of activating their Takeover. Multiple players on the same team can activate Takeovers at the same time, as well, making for some intriguing combinations. But beware, if your players struggle they can also develop cold streaks. These diminish gradually over time, but you can try to accelerate coming out of their funk by calling a timeout.

"I like it, it's a little meta game to think about how you play with players,” Wang says.

Dramatically Reduced Clipping

The switch to the new motion system in NBA 2K18 brought some unexpected problems. Immersion was often shattered due to excessive clipping where limbs, heads, and basketballs morphed through players’ bodies. Making it worse, these rough animations weren’t just limited to the high-traffic areas; we saw them in one-on-one situations on the perimeter as well.

“It was embarrassing,” Wang admits. “There was a bug that we didn't find until very, very late with the collision detection. That's another thing that we're working on right now. We're spending a lot of time trying to make sure you just can't go through players and stopping them when you try to run into guys.” 

I only played four or five games of NBA 2K19, so I’m reporting off a small sample size, but during each game, I paused and watched instant replays when bodies clashed in the paint and on the perimeter to see if the collisions were still compromised, and all the animations looked clean. Arms reacted naturally to contact and bodies slammed into each other instead of clipping through. Wang says Visual Concepts is continuing to hone this in the lead-up to launch to minimize clipping as much as possible.

“It's hard to make it foolproof because it's a game and if we made it so every time a limb got hit the ball would knock loose it would be chaos,” Wang says. “But you definitely won't see the major bodies going inside other bodies and heads. 

Rebuilt Stealing System

We’ve all been in a situation defending off-ball and see an opportunity to swipe at an unprotected ball, yet nothing happens when we press the steal button. Visual Concepts has wanted to re-examine this system for a while now, and finally had the time to address it with NBA 2K19. 

Successful steal opportunities are now governed by a zone system that judges vulnerability. Defenders who recognize prime stealing opportunities where the ball is exposed – during open-bodied hesitation dribbles and when post players aren’t protecting the ball from secondary defenders, for example – will be rewarded for their smart timing. Dribblers can’t just string together moves with no concern about the defender’s reach anymore. Reading those situations correctly and stealing at the right time will pop the ball out a lot easier. 

But these aren’t always clean wins with unobstructed paths to the hoop; building off the more unpredictable loose balls of NBA 2K18, sometimes both players will scramble for possession when it's knocked free.

Returning Skill To One-On-Ones

Last year’s new motion system made it easier to blow by defenders with speed, but it went too far. Even lockdown defenders could be taken right off the dribble with startling regularity. This has been reworked in NBA 2K19 to make stick skills matter more than before and restore balance to the one-on-one interactions.

"We have to make this game more about bringing back the skill gap and making it about the users, the skill on the sticks to be successful,” Wang says. “It's all about matching your stick to where the guy's trying to get to. That's where you'll get the set-offs, the brick walls. You'll get blow-bys if the guy's stick is the wrong way."

Defenders also can’t just rely on holding the left trigger to be in the ideal situation to contest a shot. The automated contest system has been removed, so defenders need to actively get a hand in the shooter’s face by using the right analog stick if they want to affect the shot.

Offensively, the dribblers have some new tools at their disposal as well. Flicking the right stick activates signature walking size-ups. Wang also says good ball handlers should find NBA 2K19 a lot more responsive and fluid in terms of branches and combos. 

Unique Streetball Moves

Those playing in the park or blacktop have a lot more entertaining dribbling moves for taunting and embarrassing opponents in NBA 2K19. Visual Concepts brought in streetball players to motion capture new park-specific handling moves like wrapping the ball around the defender’s head and nutmegs. 

“I can't wait to show them off, they are pretty insane,” Wang says. 

These moves don’t fit the feel of the NBA, so they will be only available in the street modes.

Shot Meter Improvements

One of the biggest annoyances in NBA 2K18 was the lack of a shot meter on lay-ups. Good players commonly missed wide-open lay-ups, and players had no idea of what they were doing wrong. Visual Concepts heard our complaints and is including a shot meter on all lay-ups in NBA 2K19. Each lay-up animation requires different timing, so you’re going to need to practice a bit to familiarize yourself with the nuance of the system. 

Speaking of meters, many users preferred the shot meter from NBA 2K17 to last year’s version, so Visual Concepts is including options for both in NBA 2K19. You can choose a meter that goes by the players’ hands, the players’ feet, turn on both, or turn them off altogether. In addition, you can customize the color of the shot meter. The options I saw included team colors, white, and magenta. 

The shot feedback system needed some revision coming out of NBA 2K18 – far too many open looks were marked as heavily contested last year, diminishing the likelihood of making the bucket. Based on my limited time on the sticks, the shot feedback system in NBA 2K19 seems much more in line with what I was actually seeing on the court. When I ample space to shoot coming off a pick and roll but the late-arriving defender still got a hand up, these were now correctly classified as lightly contested attempts.

Stronger Interior Defense

Going into the paint won’t be such a breeze in NBA 2K19. When moving into high traffic areas, the new stealing system gives bigs the awareness to take a swipe at exposed balls, and Visual Concepts also did work to make the contact in the paint more difficult to push through. 

“Interior defense was really rough last year,” Wang says. “When we went to the new motion system we ended up taking out a lot of the multi-actor animations that we had in the past, so it made it really tough to protect the rim. That's why there were so many missed lay-ups, it was kind of a band-aid to fix all that because you could pretty much get them at will. That's a lot better now, and so is the hit detection of when you are actually covered and when you are not.”

A.I. Enhancements

Every year, gameplay producer and basketball strategy enthusiast Scott O’Gallagher works the phones to talk with NBA personnel about how the game is evolving and applies that knowledge to the A.I. and defensive settings. This year, his team implemented several changes to make the players around you sharper.

The new steal system demanded that they up situational awareness for A.I. players, so they are more mindful of when they need to protect the ball or look for a potential double team. Once a team doubles, the A.I. is also more aware of cutting opportunities. 

To combat players who tend to spam the same move over and over, the A.I. is better at identifying overreliances and understanding how they are being beaten, adjusting accordingly. If you are constantly jacking threes out of the high pick and roll screen, they will start pressing outside 23 feet.

Visual Concepts also did work to improve the transition game lane principles so players fill the lane appropriately and space into the corners for kick-out threes.

 

NBA 2K19 launches for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on September 7. We’ll have much more news on MyGM, MyCareer, and other popular modes in the coming weeks. 

Categories: Games

Voldo Is Back In This Soulcalibur VI Trailer, Still A Weirdo

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:40

Voldo is as associated with Soulcalibur as Sophitia or Mitsurugi, with his dancing blade style and overall weirdness attracting people to Soul Edge arcade machines since 1995. Now the Italian bodyguard is coming to Soulcalibur VI, much like he did every single other Soulcalibur title, to the surprise of no one but the delight of many.

Check out this video of Voldo in action.

The new design puts a mask on the back of Voldo's head, making him even more off-putting than ever. Soulcalibur VI launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 19.

Categories: Games

P.K. Subban And The Art Of The Hit Demonstrated In New NHL 19 Collision Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 18:15

Everybody loves to see the big hits, especially when they're delivered by Nashville Predators defenseman and NHL 19 cover star P.K. Subban, but the game is also employing more subtle physical contact due to a new collision system.

The limbs of the target, their tension, and how prepared they are for contact produces different kinds of effects.

But the trailer can also be enjoyed if you just want to see Subban lighting people up and talking about his craft.

For more on the game, check out the trailer talking about the important changes made to the game's skating engine, as well as the six possibly game-changing elements for NHL 19.

[Source: EA Sports]

Categories: Games

The Developers Behind Spec Ops: The Line announce Multiplayer Shooter, The Cycle

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 15:32

In 2011, Yager Development made waves with the dark, provocative shooter Spec Ops: The Line before changing gears to focus on a space ship combat simulator called Dreadnought. Now the studio is going back to shooters with the multiplayer-focused FPS The Cycle.

The Cycle takes place on an alien world called Fortuna III "full of fortune, alien life, and other players looking to take its riches." The goal of The Cycle is not to rack up as many kills as possible in a single 20-minute match but instead to complete as many contract as possible, earning money to buy gear and weapons for future matches. Players will be competing with one another but will also have to take on the monsters that populate Fortuna III.

Further details on classes and a crafting system are scant and there's no gameplay footage or screens (outside of environment shots you can see in the gallery below) for The Cycle. However, Yager says the game will be in closed alpha in the coming weeks, with an early access release target of 2018 for PC. Yager also says it plans to have a console release for the game sometime in the future.

You can find out more info on The Cycle by checking out the official site. For more on Yager's games, check out our coverage of Dreadnought and our review of Spec Ops: The Line.

 
Categories: Games

Clementine May Have Hit The End Of The Road In The Newest Walking Dead Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 12:40

The Walking Dead is the series that put Telltale on the map and it's wrapping up with the fourth and final season later this year. At Comic Con, Telltale released a teaser for what you can expect from Clementine's last adventure.

Clementine has been living in the zombie apocalypse ever since Lee rescued her from her treehouse. Now a guardian herself, the hardened survivor has to protect AJ while keeping herself alive. The final season of The Walking Dead begins with episode one on August 14 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Torch Man Lights Up The Night Sky In A New Mega Man 11 Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 01:20

Only you can prevent forest fires, but when they happen, only Mega Man can destroy them. Introducing Torch Man, the newest fire boss to series with a long legacy of fire bosses.

Torch Man is, well, a giant walking robot torch in a forest stage. The clip of his boss fight shows his powered up Gear state, which lights him aflame as he speeds up and throws out fire projectiles like there's no tomorrow. Check out the footage below.

Mega Man 11 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on October 2.

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