Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate Review - A Formidable Beast

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 15:00

With Monster Hunter: World, the famously esoteric series received a massive overhaul, including many changes that lowered the barrier to entry for new players. Dozens of quality-of-life boons not seen in previous entries--easy quest tracking, extensive tutorials, and more nuanced combat, just to name a few--have made the series a lot more accessible than it's ever been. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, a Switch port of the 2016 3DS entry, has basically none of those improvements. Generations is tough as nails, unforgiving, and downright cruel at times--especially if you're coming off of World. Even so, it makes plenty of strong cases for its less-forgiving systems and offers up some thrilling challenges for Nintendo's hybrid console.

If you're at all lost on the basic premise of Monster Hunter, rest assured, all you need to know is in the name. Your job is to pick out a ridiculous weapon, find some over-the-top armor, pick a beast to hunt, and bring it down. Truth be told, Generations flubs all but that last bit on some level. You're plopped into a world packed to the gills with fantastical beasts and gargantuan creatures with little to guide you.

For starters, there are about a dozen weapons that handle in wildly different ways. The insect glaive, for instance, gives you a massive pole arm and a helpful insect that acts as a support character. If that isn't enough to give you pause, even the standard sword and shield don't carry the play style you might expect. Where in most games the classic fantasy gear pairing might lend itself to a sturdy, rough-and-tumble fighter able to get in close and mix up attacks and blocks, in Monster Hunter, the class works best as a support. Plus, given the prevalence of long-reach weapons, the shield is helpful, but doesn't keep you out danger in quite the same way.

What you pick is all a matter of preference, but if you plan on running multiplayer hunts (which is highly recommended), you'll want to coordinate your picks with your friends so you've got good coverage. And, if you're new to the series, it's definitely going to help to have someone take point and offer recommendations. Beyond that, though, multiplayer helps make fights more manageable. Enemies scale with how many companions you bring, but having specialized roles and team coordination and strategizing to fall back on when the going gets tough isn’t just about making these challenges surmountable, but about joining together with other players to revel in the carnage. Otherwise, you'll be stuck experimenting with weapons until you find the right one or picking one and sticking with it come hell or high water.

At first, you won't have much in the way of beasts to fight. Where Monster Hunter World throws you right into the thick of combat, Generations has a long, slow grind to the interesting foes--the idea being that you can cut your teeth on the weaklings for some time before you're tasked with a major hunt. Unfortunately, this also means that a good chunk of the early game is a slog.

Breaking that up a bit are the Palicos, anthropomorphized cats that come in a few different flavors across the Monster Hunter games. In this iteration, they are a distinct playstyle unto themselves. As you gather Palico friends to help you along the way, you can take control of them and go on quests like you would as your human avatar, albeit with a few twists. You can't use items, limiting certain types of tactics, but they also don't run out of stamina and can survive extreme temperatures thanks to their fur coats. Those distinctions are enough to offer some variety as you progress and give you a chance to get a better understanding of the world.

A big part of the game is also gathering supplies from the environment to craft gear and potions, and that's another area where Prowlers (an honorific given to Palicos that take up hunting) come in. Because they each have a distinct style, from a party support to grenadier, it's worth it to experiment with each and see which fits for you, especially since you'll gain bonuses for the whole clan of kitties if you level each type up. The catch, though, is that while all these extras offer more flexibility in play style, it's in service to Generations' proclivity for grinding through content.

In a sense, though, that's the point. All the small hunts and gathering missions work together for the grand goal of tracking and hunting the game's biggest and baddest monsters. Hunts are an ordeal, but the effort that precedes the triumph makes victory all the sweeter. And that's no mere platitude. Monsters are tricky beasts that are all too happy to grind you to dust, but knowing how to disable a creature, or misdirect it with a flashbang and then also having put the work into prepping that knowledge and the supplies to match is an unparalleled experience.

Part of that stems from the fact that these bouts are grueling affairs. And across that time, you're watching for telegraphed attacks and possible openings to unleash your own volleys. How you maneuver and jockey for that position as well as pacing out your item use to fit the battle is exhilarating. The grandiose scale of these fights is truly something to behold. And there's something grippingly primal about them. When you're facing down the gargantuan metallic black dragon Kushala Daora, it just wouldn't do to have it felled in a few short minutes. That's where Monster Hunter breaks from like-minded outings. Nowhere else will you feel quite the same level of powerlessness, and then, through perseverance and planning, reap the high of a successful hunt.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate game is not for the faint of heart. It is a commitment, and it's not something that you genuinely play casually.

And that's all that matters here. The Switch port specifically has more critters to fell than any of its predecessors----and almost three times the current Monster Hunter World roster. That, combined with some new combat styles and an added difficulty level make it one of the strongest entries for classic fans of the series yet. Hunter Arts and styles, two features new to the original 2016 Monster Hunter Generations, have been beefed up, adding some new techniques and offering plenty of additional content for those coming back for a second round.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate game is not for the faint of heart. It is a commitment, and it's not something that you genuinely play casually. You can sink dozens of hours into the game and still not get close to conquering the full set of monsters contained within. For those that are down for such an extraordinary adventure, there's more than enough here to thrill and delight. Just know what you're getting into. You will struggle to understand the basics if this is your first Monster Hunter game, but there are incredible rewards should you make it over every one of its initial hurdles.

Categories: Games

Into The Breach Review: Mechanized Masterpiece

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 23:43

In 2012, Subset Games released FTL--a strategy roguelite whose best moments were when everything worked like a well-oiled machine, but also when you were frantically trying to adapt to dangerous, unexpected situations in the spur of the moment. Into The Breach, Subset's sophomore effort, again has you enacting carefully planned strategies. The difference is that when the going gets tough, Into The Breach's turn-based mechanics and tactical tools allow you to improvise precisely, and respond purposefully, with perfectly choreographed counters in an aggressive ballet that feels amazing to conduct again and again.

In a world where giant monsters called Vek threaten the earth, humanity has devised equally giant, human-operated mechs to combat them. Humanity has also invented time-travel technology to give pilots the opportunity to go back in time and start the whole conflict over, should the worst happen. You command a squad of three mech pilots whose purpose is to deter the advances of the Vek, one region at a time, through four different island stages with the ultimate goal of destroying their hive.

In each region, your primary objective is to stop Vek from causing collateral damage--each civilian building destroyed depletes part of the game's overall power grid meter, and if it hits zero, your game is over. However, Vek almost always outnumber your squad, with even more continually spawning in, which makes wiping them out entirely a difficult task. Into The Breach is a tactics game with an emphasis on deterrence and creatively mitigating damage with the limited tools at your disposal.

It's a daunting task, but there is one central feature that makes this process enjoyable and manageable: Every action the enemy will make in their next attack phase is clearly telegraphed through the UI during your turn. You can see which tile a particular Vek will hit and how much damage it will do, meaning you can assess your priorities and the response options you have available, then take direct steps to address the fated outcome. In the critical moments, just before a Vek flattens a hospital, you might dash in and tackle it out of range, and into the firing line of another Vek. Or, if your mech lacks close-combat abilities, you might move into harm's way to prevent the building from destruction. You might notice that more Vek will be spawning from the ground, and decide to throw a boulder on the tile to stop them from emerging, or shoot an off-the-mark missile, letting the explosion push another Vek on top of it.

Knowing the exact outcome of each action means that Into The Breach feels like a game of violent chess, in the best way possible. Each turn will have you pondering over possible moves and outcomes, threats you can feasibly attend to, and pieces you can afford to sacrifice--common characteristics found in any good turn-based tactics game. But because the possibility spaces of Into The Breach skirmishes are so confined (every battle takes place on an 8x8 grid, just like a chessboard, filled with impassable squares) decisions can be reached quickly, and momentum rarely comes to a standstill for long.

What also makes these decisions so entertaining to consider is not just the novelty of the way different components can interact in delightful ways, it's the certainty of how they will interact. Into The Breach is a tactical game that features a relative lack of probability, uncertainty, and risk. Attacks will always connect and do a distinct amount of damage, the grid-based scenarios mean units move and take actions in exact distances, and nothing ever occurs without at least some warning. The transparency and amount of information communicated provide great peace of mind, since every action you take will go as planned.

The only exception is that when a Vek attacks a building, there is a tiny chance that the building will withstand damage. The probability of this happening is related to your overall grid power and can be increased, but the percentage value is always so low that this rare occurrence feels more like a miracle when it happens, rather than a coin toss you can take a chance on.

The game's time-travel conceit also has a part to play here--you have the ability to undo unit movement, and each battle gives you a single opportunity to completely rewind and re-perform a turn. It's possible to execute your most optimal plan for each scenario every time, and the result is that turns in battle can feel like choreographed moves in an action movie, a confidently flawless dance of wind-ups, feints, counters, and turnabouts.

You can unlock up to eight different premade squads, each comprised of three unique units, which focus on entirely different styles of combat. The diversity here is significant enough that each team calls for distinct strategic approaches. The default squad, Rift Walkers, focuses on straightforward, head-first, push-pull techniques. The Blitzkrieg crew works best when corralling Vek together in order to execute a lightning attack that courses through multiple enemies. The Flame Walkers focus on setting everything ablaze and knocking Vek into fire for damage-over-time en masse. Each different combination of mechs can completely change how you perceive a battlefield; things that are obstacles for one squad could be advantageous strategic assets for another.

But where the possibilities of Into The Breach really open up is in its custom and random squad options, and the imaginative experimentation that comes from putting together unique all-star teams with individual mechs from different squads, along with your choice of starting pilot--whom all possess an exclusive trait. You might have a team composed of a mech who shields buildings and units, one that freezes anything on the map into a massive block of ice, one whose sole ability is to push everything surrounding it away, and a pilot that can perform one additional action each turn if they don't move. Can you complete a run of the game with that custom squad of pacifists? The game's structure makes these unorthodox options enjoyable challenges that are legitimately interesting to explore.

Into The Breach maintains a roguelike structure of procedurally generated trials and permadeath, but when a campaign goes south not all is lost. If a mech is destroyed during a battle, it will return in the next, only without its pilot and their unique trait. Too much collateral damage is game over but means you have the chance to send one of your living pilots--experience points and bonus traits intact--back in time to captain a new squad, in a new campaign. The game is difficult, but starting over isn't tiresome because your actions so directly determine outcomes, and you always feel you can improve. And individual battles are so swift and satisfying that they become a craving that you'll want to keep feeding over and over.

The clean and understated surface elements of Into The Breach complement the precise nature of its mechanics. The simple presentation, as well as the sharp UI layout, is attractively utilitarian and serves as a crucial component of the game's readability. There is no explicit plot outside of the time-traveling conceit, but the flavor text--small snippets of dialogue for each mech pilot and island leader, whom you'll encounter again and again throughout multiple playthroughs--adds a modest but pleasant facet of character to contextualize the world and round out the overall tone.

There is so much strategic joy in seeing the potential destruction a swarm of giant monsters is about to unleash on a city, then quickly staging and executing elaborate counter maneuvers to ruin the party. Into The Breach's focus on foresight makes its turn-based encounters an action-packed, risk-free puzzle, and the remarkable diversity of playstyles afforded by unique units keeps each new run interesting. It's a pleasure to see what kind of life-threatening predicaments await for you to creatively resolve in every new turn, every new battle, and every new campaign. Into The Breach is a pristine and pragmatic tactical gem with dynamic conflicts that will inspire you to jump back in again, and again, and again.

Categories: Games

Destiny 2: Forsaken's Launch Trailer Begins The End Of Cayde-6

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 19:30

Destiny 2: Forsaken is coming out fairly soon and Bungie is eager to celebrate the upcoming expansion with, well, a funeral. There's no more jokes for Destiny's resident jokester in the newest content's launch trailer, which you can find below.

The launch trailer shows new weapons, armor, and abilities for Forsaken, as well as a host of new story content and cutscenes. If you're hoping to go in fresh, keep your eyes off the launch trailer, and get ready for Forsaken when it launches next week on September 4 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Untitled Goose Game Gets A New Trailer, Also Coming To Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 17:15

House House, the developers of the goose harassment simulator Untitled Goose Games, have announced that the goose will soon be loose on the Switch as well as PC.

Untitled Goose Game is a puzzle-style game where players take the role of a goose trying to achieve goals that inevitably involve annoying, bothering, and otherwise inconveniencing humans around you. We listed it as one of the best indie games we saw at GDC 2018, where we messed with an unlucky gardener.

The demo we watched pitted the public nuisance against a poor groundskeeper just trying to get his work done. The goose dragged his picnic basket and sandwich into the pond, ran around with his radio player in his beak during a Benny Hill-esque chase sequence, turned on a nearby sprinkler to soak the man, and even stole the keys off his belt.

The game is now being published by Panic, which has previously published the Campo Santo game Firewatch. Untitled Goose Game is coming out for PC and Switch in early 2019.

Categories: Games

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Lets You Build Your Own Kingdom

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 17:00

The importance of a good leader for a kingdom can’t be understated, but fortunately your new kingdom has you to guide it.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is an adaptation of the pen-and-paper RPG of the same name, putting players into the Pathfinder universe in the form of an isometric RPG. Kingmaker, of course, focuses on the Kingmaker campaign and puts building a kingdom at the center of a massive RPG story. The intention from developer Owlcat Games is to bring the table experience of the game, which they played themselves for hours on end, to a full 80-hour RPG.

Kingmaker was built around three core concepts: being true to Pathfinder, giving the player an interesting story, and letting them build their own kingdoms. The developers told us that it was extremely important to give players the chance to succeed and fail on their own merits while telling a compelling tale along the way. Players are going to understand how heavy the head that wears the crown really can be.

As the title says, the game centers around the trials and victories of running a kingdom. Kingmaker is unique in that how you run your kingdom comes down to your decisions. You can be as hands-on as you want to be as a leader, micromanaging the economy, taking on every problem that comes your way, expanding territory, run a 25-hour day being a leader. You can also just let a council take care of the minutiae of running a kingdom while you adventure out and slay monsters or kill bandits.

You can jump in and out of the decision-making as you see fit. Sometimes you just want to take a break from the sword of Damocles dangling above your head and go on some quests, sometimes you are tired of questing and want to take control back from your council.

As you continue your adventure, you gradually pick up the 11 companions that join you on your journey, who also join you in running the kingdom. Missions come in that are not necessarily for a king to handle and just require someone to go lay down the law, allowing you to send your companions to take care of things. Sending the right person for the right job is important, meaning a good leader has to delegate correctly.

It might not always be a good idea to pass off decisions, though. In one quest, you are given the option to increase your military spending in terms of research and development. Eventually, a potion is happened upon that vastly increases your military strength at the cost of making your soldiers mindless zombies filled with bloodlust temporarily. I wasn’t told what the consequences of this quest were, but I am going to guess that the zombie path isn’t going to end well.

Since the Kingmaker campaign was a pen & paper RPG, it had short descriptions for a lot of things that the developers including writer Chris Avellone expanded upon for the game. One example they gave was a tower along the path which had a single paragraph in the source material. When working up the documents for the game, Owlcat expanded that paragraph to several pages.

Your kingdom starts small, but you start expanding through quests, story progression, and military action. A larger kingdom means more responsibilities, but it also means more opportunities for quests and adventures, as well. While I didn't get a chance to go hands-on with the game, the developers guided me though a number of quests and mechanics and I'm excited to see more.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker was Kickstarted just over a year ago and is releasing on September 25 on PC.

Categories: Games

The Messenger Review: Fleet Footed

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 15:00

It is evident from the onset that The Messenger is heavily influenced--aesthetically and mechanically--by the classic Ninja Gaiden series. But it's also quickly evident that the game doesn't just wear its influences on its sleeve, it also brings a brilliant new take on the action-platformer genre.

You play as a young ninja warrior tasked with delivering a sacred scroll to the top of a mountain after his village is attacked by demons. It isn't a wholly original idea by any means, but The Messenger eschews any self-seriousness in favor of a humorous and self-referential tone, regularly riffing on action-platformer tropes through the ninja warrior's conversations with various characters. The excellent writing keeps things lively and fresh, with jokes and pop culture references interwoven with an ambitious and clever narrative involving a time-travel mechanic that ties well into the gameplay system.

The ninja's skillset is initially limited, but it expands quickly to include abilities like a rope dart, wall climbing, and aerial gliding as well as a couple of optional techniques like a boomerang shuriken. Most interestingly, The Messenger replaces the classic double-jump move with something called cloudstepping, an ability that only makes double-jumping available after you've successfully landed a sword blow on an enemy or object mid-air.

This means you simply can't double-jump just anywhere, and an element of skill and timing is added to regular proceedings--chain several hits in succession and you can almost fly across the map by cloudstepping, but whiff one slash and you will find yourself staring into a bottomless pit. There is a great satisfaction to be found in the demands of successful cloudstepping, and the controls are impressively responsive to accompany your needs here.

The rewarding high-risk mechanic is complemented by The Messenger's smart design. Almost every level is crafted in such a way that it can be traversed using a number of different approaches, and exploration and experimentation are encouraged at every corner. You can take the straightforward route, or you can attempt the more difficult cloudstepping route that ultimately yields greater rewards due to numerous well-hidden secrets sprinkled throughout the game.

The Messenger starts off fairly easy, but the difficulty quickly increases as you acquire more abilities. Harder obstacles and challenges are introduced, and the game forces you to make the most of your abilities in order to keep up. Death is common, but the momentum never stops due to the use of generous checkpoints, allowing you to quickly learn from past mistakes and improve your muscle memory. The Messenger never feels too overwhelming or too easy, and its pacing and difficulty curve is nicely balanced--there is always a satisfaction to be had when a secret is found, a difficult obstacle is conquered, or a boss is defeated.

The Messenger also features a big twist: While the first half of the game is a linear action-platformer, once the midway point is reached, the game's narrative expands, unlocking time travel to and from the future. The game switches from its vibrant 8-bit aesthetic to an even more beautiful 16-bit art style, with richer backgrounds, a more diverse color palette, and more advanced audio processing to contrast with its previously chiptune soundtrack.

Additionally, the map and mechanics open up in the style of a Metroidvania, and a mechanic is introduced which allows you to travel back and forth between eras. A whole new dimension of puzzling opens up, creating even more tantalizing opportunities for exploration--you'll have to go back and forth often to maneuver around a level's physical obstacles and differences in each time zone. It's a simple but creative and aesthetically impressive mechanic that works very well.

The only thing that becomes distracting at this point in the game is the limited number of enemy types--there aren't that many of them, and encountering and killing the same monsters over and over again as you explore can become tedious. And while the 20-or-so hours of time-traveling, traversal, and swordfights lead you to a satisfying and appropriate climax, the game has an abrupt ending that robs you of any sense of closure.

The Messenger takes the best parts of the action-platformers it takes influence from and reinterprets them well. With clever writing, well-designed levels, and balanced difficulty curve, the game continuously hooks you with enticing skill-based challenges and satisfying payoffs. Your character might have an immediate imperative to delivering a world-saving scroll, but the journey there definitely one to savor.

Categories: Games

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age Review - Back To The Good-Old Days

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 14:00

The Dragon Quest series is a standard-bearer for an entire genre. Numerous JRPGs that have come and gone over the years have adapted from--and built upon--many of the formulas Dragon Quest established in the 8-bit era. While series like Final Fantasy have transformed dramatically over time, Dragon Quest tends towards traditionalism, enshrining many of its core gameplay and story concepts from game to game.

Dragon Quest XI is no exception. The chosen hero and his growing group of party members go on a globe-spanning adventure in a realm of fantasy and magic, exploring dungeons, solving story beats to proceed, and battling foes in turn-based combat. It’s a tale you're probably familiar with if you've played any classic JRPG. But Dragon Quest XI is proof that traditions and tropes don't have to feel worn-out and dull, as this gorgeous adventure will challenge your skills, tug at your heartstrings, and keep you eagerly playing further and further into its lengthy quest.

The hero of Dragon Quest XI is the reincarnation of the Luminary, a chosen warrior who will destroy a foretold dark presence. Yet the glorious hero is not welcomed with open arms when his destiny is revealed; some fear him as a harbinger that disaster is imminent, and wish him dead. As the hero adventures from his hometown into the wider world, he makes many friends, encounters wicked monsters, endures intense tribulations, and fights for light in the shadow of an empire manipulated by darkness.

That setup likely sounds quite familiar. The story in Dragon Quest XI doesn’t really offer any novel plot beats or twists, but that's not a knock against it; the game does a spectacular job of melding familiar story elements with engaging characters and excellent choreography.

For example, a tournament sequence is something you see in a lot of JRPGs, but the presentation, characterization, and sprinkling of humor present in Dragon Quest XI’s tournament arc makes it truly unforgettable. One memorable sequence involves the hero learning about his mysterious origins and the land that he came from. While that sounds like nothing more than a genre cliché, the way it's presented here is absolutely beautiful and touching.

The characterization of the game's various personalities helps a lot in making the story and world as engaging as it is. Every member of your party has a well-developed, unique personality that accentuates their role. For example, one of the more iconic party members is the flamboyant entertainer, Sylvando. His over-the-top mannerisms, cheerful attitude, and combat prowess make him stand out, but you also get an impression that the clown act might belie something buried in his past. There are plenty of fun NPCs you'll interact with in the story as well, such as a love-starved mermaid, an eccentric dean of an elite girls' prep school, and a stunningly incompetent prince. Finally, villains like the conflicted Sir Hendrick and the cunning Jasper present a constant threat that pushes you ever-forward.

Like the story and world, Dragon Quest XI's combat is familiar and traditional, but presented in a charming and engaging way that makes it feel anything but dated.

Special praise should be given to the game's localization. While it does change quite a few character and place names from the Japanese version, it does a magnificent job of making the dialogue and overall mood of the game feel warm, soulful, and inviting. Character personalities and the flavor of various regions of the world come through in dialogue with delightful flourishes (I feel for the editor who had to write hundreds of dialogue boxes for the characters who only speak in haiku), and even incidental menu and combat text has a fun, lighthearted feel to it that makes simply running through menus more lively. And when things get somber and serious, the writing changes to match, knowing full well what sort of tone needs to be set.

Dragon Quest XI is a very linear game; you hit one story point, solve whatever problem you're facing there (be it by defeating a monster, collecting an item, beating a minigame, or various combinations of these things), then venture out to the next area where you're presented with a new story beat, slashing down mobs of enemies along the way to build up your characters' levels. You can go off the beaten path a bit to complete subquests and explore optional areas, but most locales are completely locked off until you hit a specific point in the story.

Like the story and world, Dragon Quest XI's combat is familiar and traditional, but presented in a charming and engaging way that makes it feel anything but dated. Characters and enemies take individual turns based on their agility, and you choose what characters do by either picking commands from a text-based menu or setting the CPU to act based on preset guidelines. Animations play out as blows are exchanged and spells are cast, and every so often there’s a funky little twist to the fight that livens things up, like characters achieving a "pepped up" state that raises their abilities and grants them access to special attacks.

While there's a setting in the options that allows you to physically move characters during battle (rather than having them stay in a stationary row), it doesn’t change the combat significantly; positioning doesn't affect attacks, and the fighting remains strictly turn-driven. Though it's relatively basic, little animations, messages, and quirks about combat, like enemies that fuse together or bizarre status conditions, keep you interested and engaged. Boss battles aren’t terribly common, but the big fights are truly trying, challenging you to make use of your learned spells and skills against a foe that will utterly wipe you out if you don't play strategically.

Despite Dragon Quest XI's massive length (anywhere from 60 to over 100 hours, depending on how you pace yourself and how much extra content and questing you do), it rarely feels like it’s dragging its feet. There's practically always a new place to explore, a new character to encounter, or a new threat to tackle. The game occasionally fails to maintain its otherwise steady pace--a mid-game sequence involving the search for magical orbs is particularly troublesome--but it doesn't often keep you in one place or dealing with one subplot for too long. You also won't have to grind if you're smart about picking enemy fights and divvying up character skill points. And if you ever need a bit of break, you can invest time in various mini-games like crafting items, horse racing, and a casino with slots and poker, among other things.

Innovation in games is talked about a lot, but it's also great to see traditional gameplay formulas that have been around for decades presented exceptionally well. Dragon Quest XI is one of the best modern examples of this; its beautiful presentation, both visual- and story-wise, combines with a tried-and-true gameplay formula for a journey that’s full of heart and soul. Once you find yourself sucked into the world of Dragon Quest XI, it's going to be hard to put down until you reach the grand finale.

Categories: Games

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 03:07

The shackles are off for Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. No longer burdened by an obligation to develop for the previous generation of consoles, PES 2019 feels like the beginning of an exciting new era for Konami's long-running football series. The visuals have received a much-needed overhaul, while the on-pitch action has been tightened up, refined, and improved. The series’ lack of impactful licenses and insipid UI and commentary are issues that persist, but PES 2019 builds on what was already a runaway title winner to set a new high bar for the series.

The improvements to PES's superlative brand of football initially appear trivial, like Konami simply slapped a new lick of paint on last year's game. It still adopts the same methodical pace, tangible sense of weight, and breadth of passing as PES 2018, but after a couple of matches you begin to notice subtle changes that gradually add up. The impact of another year's worth of development becomes palpable.

Passing is, of course, the bedrock of any great football game, and PES 2019 enhances its passing dynamism with a plethora of new animations, bringing each kick of the ball to life with startling accuracy. Players are intelligent enough to contextually know what pass to play and when, giving you a greater sense of control over each passing move. If you're receiving the ball under pressure from a burly centre-half, you'll have the confidence to know you can potentially flick the ball around the corner to an overlapping winger or deftly play it back to a midfielder so he can knock it into space with the outside of his boot.

There's an impressive variety of passes in any one match, while the fluidity of the players' movement and the responsiveness behind each button press lead to moments of scintillating football--whether you're patiently building from the back, carving a team open with a clinical counter-attack, or hoofing it up to your big target man. PES's passing mechanics have been so accomplished for so many years now that there's always been a singular pleasure in simply shifting the ball between teammates. That outstanding feeling has only intensified in PES 2019.

Ball physics have been reworked and greatly contribute to this, too, making that little white sphere feel considerably more like a separate entity than ever before. It never appears as if the ball is rigidly stuck to your player's feet, nor are your passes laser-guided to their target. There's an authentic flow and unpredictability to the way the ball moves, curling and dipping through the air, spinning off a goalkeeper's fingertips, and neatly coming under the delicate control of a player like Mesut Özil. No one would blame you if you hopped into a replay just to ogle the ball's flight path and the animation that preceded it. Sending a diagonal pass to the opposite wing just feels right, and this excellence emanates out to each aspect of PES 2019's on-pitch action.

Players are more reactive off the ball and make smarter runs, pointing to the space they're about to sprint into to let you know when to unleash that inch-perfect through ball. There's more physicality to matches in PES 2019, too. Hurtling into a tackle and fighting tooth-and-nail to win the ball back with a defender is much more active and satisfying as a result. Players will jostle for position, realistically clattering into each other, and it feels rewarding to barge an attacker off the ball, or hold off a defender with a diminutive winger, before using a feint to create some space and escape their clutches.

Executing feints, step-overs, and other skill moves is intuitive, with each one mapped to the left and right sticks. There are few better feelings in PES than leaving a defender for dead with an eye-opening piece of skill, and this feeds into an added emphasis on player individuality. Cut inside with Lionel Messi and he's liable to flick the ball over the outstretched leg of a defender, using his low centre of gravity to peel past them, before rasping a left-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net. Meanwhile, someone like Paul Pogba will saunter around the midfield, finding pockets of space and using his large frame to maintain possession, while Roberto Firmino will occasionally bust out a no-look pass, and Cristiano Ronaldo will hang in the air on crosses for what feels like eternity, or smash in a dipping 30-yard screamer that has the 'keeper rueing his luck. PES has a recent history of making both its players and its teams feel unique, and with a deluge of superb new animations, PES 2019 is no different.

It's not all roses, however, as it does still share some of the more disappointing aspects of its predecessors. Referees, for example, are maddeningly inconsistent; both too lenient and too harsh in the same match, while match presentation is bland and lifeless. A new naturalistic lighting engine produces some stunning sights, casting realistic shadows across much improved grass and crowd textures. But the UI surrounding it still feels trapped in the past, and stalwart commentators Peter Drury and Jim Beglin return with the same disjointed dialogue we've come to know and hate, with little in the way of new lines. Drury will still get overly excited by tame shots, and there's only so many times you can listen to Beglin say "If you don't speculate, you won't accumulate" across multiple games before you're tempted to turn the commentary off completely.

Some of the teams that are officially partnered with PES get the red carpet treatment, with recognisable chants and an authentic atmosphere permeating every home match. Play with Liverpool at Anfield and the kop will belt out "You'll never walk alone" before the match begins. On the flip side of this, teams with no official ties to PES receive canned crowd noises and indecipherable chants that rob these games of any ambience. This isn't terrible, but after showing a more accurate depiction of a Saturday afternoon matchday, the lack of a distinct atmosphere in these games can't help but feel like a downgrade.

Disappointingly, Master League remains almost untouched. The International Champions Cup debuts as a short pre-season tournament, and transfer negotiations have been slightly reworked, giving you more flexibility when it comes to player fees and contracts. You can now include clauses like clean-sheet bonuses and sell-on fees so there's not just a lump sum involved, but AI transfer logic still isn't particularly smart. Budgets and fees don't replicate the reality of the transfer market, with much smaller numbers than the astronomical prices we've seen players going for in recent years. It's possible to buy a player like Aymeric Laporte for £12 million a mere six months after Manchester City splashed out £57 million for the central defender in the real world.At least goalkeepers have finally seen some enhancements. They're essentially useless when rushing off the goal line, regularly failing to close down an attacking player's angles, but this is where the faults end. Each number one's ability as a shot stopper has seen a marked improvement. Just like elsewhere on the pitch, goalkeepers have been blessed with a range of new animations that banish their previously robotic nature. They'll pull off some eye-catching saves, getting fingertips to shots destined for the top corner, or just generally making themselves as big as possible in order to get something, anything, on an incoming shot.

You'll need your 'keeper to be on top form in the latter stages of a match, too. The stamina system in PES 2019 has been reworked to place significantly more importance on your players' fitness. This has been dubbed "visible fatigue," and it does exactly what it says. Run a team ragged and their midfield and defence will visibly tire as the match wears on, potentially opening up space for you to exploit with fresh legs off the bench. This isn't a one-way street, though, as you'll need to be mindful of your own players' stamina as well--your star midfielder isn't much use if he can barely muster a light jog. This forces you to play a more considered game of football, sprinting only when it's absolutely necessary and making timely substitutions when the situation calls for it. This is a literal game-changing feature, and it wonderfully complements PES's brand of authentic, methodical football.

It's a shame, then, that PES is still trailing FIFA when it comes to official licensing. Losing the Champions League and Europa League licences to the EA behemoth is a massive blow for PES. To Konami's credit, it has responded by obtaining more licensed leagues than ever before, with the likes of the Scottish Premiership, the Russian Premier Liga, and Superliga Argentina all being featured in their official forms. They're certainly welcome additions, but these aren't standout leagues that are going to move the needle the same way the English Premier League or La Liga would. If you want to play in the Madrid derby you're still stuck choosing between KB Red White and MD White, and the Bundesliga is completely absent beyond Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen, meaning two of Europe's biggest clubs--Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich--are nowhere to be found. Thankfully, the PES community does an amazing job creating update files if you want to mod in the teams, players, and kits that are missing, but you're out of luck on Xbox One where this isn't possible.

For as long as EA continues to develop FIFA and hold a monopoly over official licences, PES will be the scrappy underdog just hoping for a surprise upset, even when it's fielding the likes of London Blue and PV White Red. The lack of licences for top-tier leagues remains a disheartening sticking point, but PES continues to make brilliant strides on the pitch, building on what was already an incredibly satisfying game of football to produce one of the greatest playing football games of all time. It might be lacking off the pitch, but put it on the field against the competition and a famous giant killing wouldn't be all that surprising.

Editor's note: This will remain a review in progress until we test Pro Evolution Soccer 2019's online modes at launch.

Categories: Games

Check Out New Footage Of A Quest From Action RPG Ashen

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 02:00

Ashen has been seen at a number of trade shows and even E3 appearances, but it might be hard to get a real feel for the game without getting hands on. Annapurna Interactive is doing the next best thing, with 12 minutes of narrated gameplay showing the ins and outs of the artistic action RPG.

The guided footage showcases the player and the NPC working together, Ashen's big central focus. Check it out below. 

The action is definitely familiar and looks to take inspiration from other games in the same vein. The extra person there really changes things up and it allows the enemy AI to be a little bit more aggressive. It definitely looks interesting in a sea of games with similar influences.

Ashen is scheduled to release in 2018 on Xbox One and PC.

Categories: Games

CD Projekt Red Releases First Gameplay Footage Of Cyberpunk 2077

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:47

After several hours worth of teasing with programming code on Twitch (not to mention closed door demos at E3 and Gamescom) CD Projekt Red has finally delivered footage of  gameplay to the public in a stream that's happening right now.

You can watch the stream here:

For more on Cyberpunk 2077, check out our impressions of the E3 demo here.

Categories: Games

Donut County Review: Pit Falls

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 15:00

Donut County must be inspired by Katamari Damacy, one of the most important 'weird' games of the last 15 years. Much like that PlayStation 2 classic, it's all about absorbing increasingly large items, although in this case you're sucking them into a hole rather than rolling them into a ball. You drag the hole across the ground in each of the game's 22 short levels, swallowing up any items that will fit. You start small, grabbing rocks, pieces of fruit, and inconsequential detritus, but the hole grows as you gather more items into it, letting you nab bigger objects and eventually, swallow everything in the level.

Donut County is, for the most part, a lackadaisical and gentle game. The control scheme is extremely simple, and the game's laidback attitude is reflected in its pleasantly chunky art style and folksy soundtrack. It's focused on the simple pleasures of manipulating in-game physics and the inherent fun of making objects and living beings fall into holes. When you're finding the tipping point of an object--seeking the moment at which it'll teeter over and tumble sideways through the hole, or when you're trying to make an object fall over so you can nab the items sitting atop it--Donut County can be a lot of fun. But while controlling a malevolent hole that sucks in objects, people, and eventually buildings and structures is satisfying, there's not a whole lot to the game beyond these mild pleasures. Donut County is not as deep as the holes it contains.

The in-game explanation for these holes is that BK, a raccoon who works in the county's donut shop, is controlling them via an app. Most levels play out as flashbacks, with cutscenes showing the people BK has swallowed up reminiscing about what has happened to them while gathered around a fire in their new underground home (the earth, as it turns out, is hollow). The plot goes in some strange directions as it casually works through and untangles its own strange internal logic, and the script is full of irreverent 'Internet' speak--the term 'lol' pops up frequently in the dialog, which is very casual throughout. The flippancy of the script is charming at times, but it also means that Donut County is difficult to get truly invested in. BK is not particularly likeable, and his friendship with Mira--his human best friend, who encourages him to face up to what he has done--feels one-sided. The game clearly isn't striving to offer a deep narrative experience, but there are quite a few 'story' scenes and most of them aren't particularly engaging or funny.

Donut County lacks scale, too, with most levels feeling like they're ending prematurely. Whereas you would sometimes roll up the entire world in Katamari games, levels in Donut County peak with you swallowing, at most, a building. The game instead focuses on the impact certain objects can have on the hole, often with clever or comical effect. Swallow up two rabbits, for instance, and love hearts will spring from the hole before a swarm of newly-born rabbits shoots back out. Swallow up a fire and some corn cobs and you'll soon have popcorn shooting back out, which must then be collected again. The game is at its best when it's testing out new ideas or gimmicks like these, but ultimately there aren't that many clever things you can do with a sentient hole, and many levels absolutely whiz by without introducing anything new. The physics of the hole also don't quite feel right sometimes--occasionally, objects don't behave how they should after most of the floor disappears out from underneath them, which can be frustrating.

The last half-hour or so of Donut County is the game at its most inventive. While there are puzzles throughout the game the solutions are often immediately obvious, that is, until the final few levels where they become more intricate and enjoyable. Your hole becomes equipped with a catapult that is capable of firing objects back out, leading to a few neat puzzles where you need to spit objects back into the world to progress. These are mostly straightforward--for instance, you might need to catapult a frog out to capture a bunch of flies floating around the screen--but they add some much-needed variety to proceedings and open some new puzzle possibilities. Unfortunately, the catapult is only used a few times, albeit to an interesting effect, and it's a shame that it isn't gained early and used more frequently throughout. The final level hints at something greater still, taking the game in a different direction--without spoiling the ending, it's an unexpected twist on what has come before, making you wish the rest of the game held such surprises.

Donut County is a game with fun ideas and a pleasantly relaxed attitude, but it's not the most compelling of experiences. It's easy to control, clever, amusing, and I finished it across a single session without growing bored. But it doesn't offer the catharsis you might expect from a game about wanton destruction, and its lightness and short runtime make it feel inconsequential. Once it's done you're unlikely to think about it much again, let alone play it through a second time. Like a donut, it's sweet and satisfying, but you're acutely aware that there's a hole in the middle of it.

Categories: Games

Death's Gambit Review - A Maddening Mission

Gamespot News Feed - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 20:00

With its interconnected world, gorgeous character design, and strong story premise, Death's Gambit looks every bit the promising 2D action-platformer on paper. Although inconsistent combat and sluggish movement combine to rein in that promise, some clever gameplay tricks and distinctive boss fights keep things refreshing enough to lessen the grind.

Death's Gambit shrouds itself in mystery from the get-go, giving you very little information before setting you off into its gorgeous pixel-art labyrinth. You select a class and an item to start with, a choice that proves largely inconsequential except for your starting skill points, before waking up on a burning battlefield. You control Sorun, a soldier who is granted immortality after signing a contract with Death to wipe the land of other immortal beings. It's a great premise that's backed up by some strong story sequences that play out between your inevitable deaths, helping to set up Sorun's tragic background and the beginning of his journey as one of Death's personal handlers.

The core gameplay loop will feel very familiar to anyone who's spent some time with From Software's Souls games. Progress comes through grinding it out against powerful enemies, death after death, and combat requires exact timing of both attacks and defensive maneuvers. As you venture deeper into the world, the basics are taught through inscribed gravestones that rise from the ground as you pass near them. As you slice and hammer your way through enemies, you'll collect shards that are used to level up character skills. You spend these points at Death Idols, statues scattered around the world where you can rest to level up and respawn after death.

Death's Gambit diverges from the established formula when you die, because you don't drop your collection of shards. Instead, you drop a Phoenix Plume, a feather that's used predominantly to heal yourself but can also be imbued into your weapon to increase its attack damage. And although you can collect them from where you died, you can also spend shards to reclaim lost Plumes--handy given that the world is one big linked maze and its easy to lose track of plumes. Given Plumes aren’t tied to player progression, it can encourage you to take a more gung-ho attitude when entering fights, which rarely go in your favor at first.

With the exception of the largest variants, enemies will respawn every time you rest at an Idol, giving you plenty of opportunities to grind out shards and gain early levels quickly. But despite this, there are numerous areas where the difficulty spikes harshly and progress screeches to a halt. More often than not this also means replaying the same sections over and over, highlighting some of the more irritating and inconsistent parts of the game's combat, which oscillates from calculated and tactical to slow and cumbersome with annoying regularity.

Combat feels deliberately heavy. Attacks are beautifully animated and need a short wind up before the strike, placing an emphasis on timing over button-mashing. Landing hits in combat fills your soul meter, which is used to trigger weapon abilities, and these can range from powerful attacks to defensive spells. But while there are occasional moments when it feels like it comes together, all too often it feels unsatisfying in the end. This partly comes down to movement feeling awkward, both when in combat and while platforming in general, but also because it relies excessively on stamina management, requiring a level of patience the combat rarely earns. Jumps feel underpowered and imprecise, and the weapons themselves, aside from a bit of visual flair, feel plain and unexciting to use. Encounters just feel flat, and when you mix that up with enemies that can kill you with ease, it doesn't make for a great time.

Thankfully, the world isn’t just full of enemies; there are some friendly characters you’ll meet along the way too. Most folks you meet will wind up back in the game’s main hub and safe area, Central Sanctuary. The shopkeeper there will sell you items and auras, while many others will teach you new weapon abilities, provided you have the shards to pay for them. The cast of characters you'll meet along the way are all gorgeously designed, especially their avatars shown during dialogue sequences. Death and Origa are particular highlights; with Death's broad, imposing wings and intricate vest, and Origa's battle-worn armor and hooded cloak.

Bosses are visually less consistent, ranging from an imposing but detailed Gaian giant the size of an apartment building to the Tundra Lord, who looks like a horned zombie beast that was half chewed and spat out; noticeably lacking the detail present on other characters. Boss fights also offer the most interesting departure from the typical moment-to-moment activities, with some delightfully mind-bending sequences where the world warps and twists; the Thalamus fight is a particular highlight, relying less on combat and more on reactions and memory. It's very clever.

Despite its rewarding exploration and intriguing story, Death's Gambit is consistently held back by its combat, which lacks the responsiveness you need when fighting enemies that can kill you in seconds.

Most impressive, though, is the environmental art and world design. Its weaving, interconnected layout can cause you to get lost at times, but it's small enough that moving from place to place doesn't take long if you’ve cleared it of enemies. The world will change over time, too, either after taking down certain bosses or after you’ve found a particular item, granting access to previously blocked off regions. Exploration feels rewarding as there’s no shortage of things to uncover, like tomes that grant a small damage bonuses against certain bosses, or a link back to another part of the world, opening up new shortcuts and streamlining the world traversal in a way that’s appreciated after hours and hours of grinding the same locations.

Despite its rewarding exploration and intriguing story, Death's Gambit is consistently held back by its combat, which lacks the responsiveness you need when fighting enemies that can kill you in seconds. Occasionally it feels like it all comes together, but too often it's a chore, and when you're into your 30th run of the same section of a dungeon and you get piled on, it's crushing. While I was turned off by the excessive grind, Death's Gambit offers some pay off to those who don't mind pushing through the gauntlet. But you'll really have to work for it.

Categories: Games

Lara's Guide To Jungle Survival In Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 17:06

Lara is nothing if not resourceful, and the new trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider shows off some of the abilities players can pick up to aid them as they traverse the jungle.

From becoming a better forager to harvesting poisons, there are a plethora of ways Lara can use the environment to her advantage.

For more on the game, check out our New Gameplay Today episode with the title and read about its difficulty system.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With One Piece: World Seeker Hints At Metal Gear Solid Influence

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 16:00

The notoriety of licensed games has always been on the cynical side, with some of the better games in that category usually earning descriptions of “surprisingly good” at best. These days, however, the reputation for licensed games is clawing its way out of the dismissive hole it has lived in for decades with games like Dragon Ball FighterZ showing that the right developer can really make a license sing. In that same vein, Bandai Namco is betting big on One Piece: World Seeker to surprise people once again.

Based on what I played, the game might be on the right track to do just that.

One Piece: World Seeker is one of those games that inserts “World” into the title to tell you that it’s an open world game. This specific build was blocked off so that the open world wasn't available to me, setting an expectation for a limited scope in this demo. What I didn’t expect, however, was exactly how much the game was aping Metal Gear Solid V of all games in its design.

The demo placed series protagonist Luffy at the base of a mountain while Nami informs him that the Marines are crawling all over the place, more than willing to take out the Strawhat crew if they get in the way of whatever the Marines are searching for. Luffy needs to get to the top of the mountain, so a few Marines are not going to stand his way, either.

The game really emphasizes that Luffy should either be picking enemies off from afar or sneaking up on them to take them out stealthily. A button prompt shows up when approaching an unaware marine, spurring Luffy to jump into the air and kick them in the back of the head. Drawing the attention of too many guards also brings out Pacifista, extremely tall laser-shooting robots that can blast Luffy right off the mountain. Sowing the seeds of chaos is not a preferred method of conflict resolution here.

The gameplay loop becomes shooting, stunning, and stealthing past enemies on the way to the summit, on the top of which sits the Marine commander Akainu. Luffy understandably has a bone to pick with the lava-powered Marine fleet admiral and the two square off. The boss fight functions surprisingly similarly to a Metal Gear Solid boss fight with some added melee capabilities, emphasizing Luffy’s ability to sock Akainu in the face with punches before following up with quick and basic combos.

One Piece: World Seeker

Luffy has access to various types of haki, or energy, that afford him different skills. Observation haki, for example, lets Luffy focus by slowing down time to get previous headshots in while Akainu tries to obfuscate the shots with lava. Bandai Namco told us that eventually Luffy will be able to gain nearly every move he has from the source material as the game progresses.

The fight ends with the two clashing fists, also ending the demo with the same impact. While I definitely would have loved to run around the open world to see whether these similarities to the above-mentioned open world stealth game were merely superficial, the inspirations seem pretty clear already in what I’ve played. The controls could probably stand to be tightened up slightly, but I’m still looking forward to seeing what the full game has to offer.

One Piece: World Seeker is scheduled for release in 2018 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Three Big Things You Need To Know About Daemon X Machina

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 14:00

Daemon X Machina is a mecha game coming to Nintendo Switch next year. Nintendo highlighted it during E3, giving players the first look at its vibrant, fast-paced action. We still had questions about the game, and so we chatted with its producer, Kenchiro Tsukuda, at Gamescom. He might be best known for his work on the Armored Core series, but Daemon X Machina isn't the same game with a brighter coat of paint. Here's what you need to know.

Your Pilot Is As Important As Your Mecha

"There are plenty of games where you play either as a human character or as a mecha, but I wanted to bring the two together and produce a synergy between them," Tsukuda says. "For example, if my player character becomes skilled with a sword, that skill will transfer over so that when he’s inside the mecha he’ll be able to use swords in his mecha as well."

You can take your character (called an Outer) out of your Arsenal (the game's name for the mecha) at will. While leaves you vulnerable, going on foot does have strategic benefits. "It can act as a kind of decoy and get the attention of enemies," Tsukuda says. "As an Outer, you can kind of lay in wait and ambush those enemies and take them down. There are lots of tactical options like that." The stock Outer has a drone companion, which can blast enemies. Tsukuda says that's just the beginning of your potential. In a quick demo, I see the standard Outer fighting against some tank-like enemies. If you level your hero enough, you can actually pick up and throw those tanks from outside of your Arsenal.

That's optional though, and Tsukuda says he imagines there will be hardcore players who purposefully avoid upgrading their Outers to see if they can beat the game that way. What's his plan? "I prefer to power my guy up," he says, laughing.

The Team Is Thinking About Co-op Players

You can play the game alone or with friends. If you do decide to bring some buddies along, there are some fun ways to express yourself. If you explore the world, you can find special paint jobs and tattoo-like decals for your Arsenals. "Once you find those kind of items, if you’re playing co-op you can all wear the same mark on your mechas to mark yourself as a team," Tsukuda says. 

Arsenals also have five upgrade slots, and one of them is mysteriously reserved for co-op. "I still can’t go into too much detail now, but I can tell you that with the fifth slot you can equip something that will be very useful in multiplayer," Tsukuda says. "It’ll be something that’s more focused on helping you coordinate with your teammates and helping each other out and increase the teamwork ability of your Arsenal."

On the topic of customization, Tsukuda wants to give players freedom of expression – with the potential of even modifying Arsenals at a fundamental level. "At the moment, they’re all bipedal, humanoid Arsenals, but we want to allow as much customization as possible, so I am thinking of different ways that we could introduce variation."

Feel Free To Steal From The Battlefield

Don't expect a full Monster Hunter-style experience, but Daemon X Machina allows players to snatch weapons and other items off fallen enemies. "There are regular enemies and there are bosses," Tsukuda says. "With the regular enemies, some of the enemies do have weapons you can take, and there are some that don’t. In the game, there’s an element of looking around the world for enemies that have weapons you want – weapons and other equipment as well. Some of them have special abilities. If you have a particular kind of need for a particular kind of item, you’re kind of going through the world looking for it, and that’s part of the game. With the bosses, you can usually get the boss weapons as well, but there’s always a specific way that you have to do it. You can either work it out yourself or by working together with friends to find out how to do it – that’ll be a big part of the fun. One difference from something like Monster Hunter or other games like that is that you’re not collecting materials in order to create items, there’s not an element like that. They’re just items and weapons that exist – you can get them, you don’t craft them."

That extends to bosses, too, which can potentially hold some of the game's most powerful items. You're going to have to work for those, however. "There is an element similar to Monster Hunter, in that in order to immobilize the boss you have to attack its weak points," Tsukuda says. "Attacking the weak points, in terms of what it does and what effect it will have and what it will allow you to do will differ from boss to boss, so each boss will require a different strategy. So you’ll have to learn as you play. Parts of the boss might come off as you’re fighting them, and if that’s a weapon, you can get it and you can use it. But if something comes off and you destroy it, you won’t be able to get it, so that’s something you’ll need to pay attention to. The way we’ve designed it is if you think, ‘I want to get this item from this boss,’ you need to carefully think about what equipment and what loadout you bring into that battle."

The bosses we've seen in Daemon X Machina have been fairly large, and it would be silly for an Arsenal to wield a sword that's twice as tall as itself. Fortunately, you've got science on your side. "If you defeat a boss and take its weapon with you in the process, you would take the weapon back to your hangar and your research guys will make a modified version of the weapon for you to use,” Tsukuda says.

Bonus: What's Up With Mecha, Anyway?

If you look at TsuKuda's gameography, you'll see that he's worked on a lot of mecha games. Why giant robots? "I think what draws me to the whole mecha thing is that it’s like a cool technology that seems like it could realistically actually happen in the future or near future," he says. "It’s kind of believable in that sense. To use a superhero analogy, we as normal human beings are never going to become Superman, but Iron Man, it could be possible for us to all become Iron Man in the future. If it did become possible in the future, I would want to commute to work every day in a mecha suit." And there you have it.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 10:07

Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 remake is coming along nicely, but as we move close to its January 25 release date, fans are beginning to wonder what could be next for the series. Seriously, we’re impatient. Will Capcom stop remaking RE games with 2? Are they willing to talk about what they have planned next? During our Gamescom exploits we set off to find out.

“We want to get this one out the door, and see how it goes first,” said director Kazunori Kadoi. “We’ve got a lot of fans who ask for their favorite games, but we’re not going to commit to anything right now. We’d like to keep our possibilities open for the future and see what makes the most sense when we come to it. We don’t want to feed just nostalgia. We want to bring [out] how people felt about the original games and if we can, reimagine it in a way so that it bridges the generation gap between people who played it 20 years ago and newcomers.”

No matter how many creative ways I found to asked them about their next project, Capcom never slipped up and revealed anything they weren’t supposed to. So if they aren’t going to talk about previous projects, would they talk about past ones? I asked them about the original RE remake and the NES game that spawned Resident Evil in the first place.

“Certainly enough time has passed that it wouldn’t be laughable to remake the remake. I personally think that would be an interesting thing to do,” said Kadoi. “In regard to Resident Evil’s spiritual predecessor, Sweet Home, we don’t have the rights to that game anymore, because it was actually based on a movie, and that’s the reason Capcom started making Resident Evil in the first place and why you don’t see any rereleases. It’s off the table at this point.”

During my investigation I also learned that Capcom isn’t planning any story DLC for the RE 2 remake, or adding any new enemies, but Tofu will be back!

I know what you’re thinking: hold on, did you have an interview with the RE 2 remake team, but you didn’t feel like it was worth transcribing the whole thing, so you crammed the most semi-interesting quotes into a single story?

No. Don’t be absurd. In truth, I was just too lazy and tried to transcribe the whole thing. But trust me; everything I do is because I care and respect you as a reader.

Now get out of my face and go read some hands-on impressions.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 02:37

If you’re excited to have Blizzard’s blockbuster lootfest on your Switch, you’re not the only one. Nintendo worked closely with Blizzard to move Diablo III over to its portable system. In fact, Nintendo had practically been waiting for Blizzard to make the call.

“The Switch came out and we were all playing it,” says Blizzard associate producer Matthew Cederquist. “Some of us were playing Mario and some of us were playing Zelda, and we were kind of thinking to ourselves, ‘We’ve got a pretty good game for this.’ We all travel a lot and we were sitting on a plane and thinking, “We’ve got the perfect game for the Switch.’ So we brought the pitch to Nintendo and they said, ‘What have you guys been waiting for?’ They were pumped. They were as excited as us.”

However, Diablo III isn’t a small game. It’s currently over 14 GB on PC, which is almost half of the Switch’s internal memory, so Blizzard knew it would have to trim the game a bit to fit it on Nintendo’s portable system – not to mention optimize its processing power.

When Blizzard decided to bring Diablo III over to Switch, the studio made a promise that it wanted to stick to 60fps as much as possible, and by-and-large it has. The lowest we saw it dip was into the mid-50s. If you don’t believe us, just read our hands-on impressions (you’ll just have to believe us, I guess). Impressively, Blizzard obtained this miracle almost solely through reducing the texture sizes on the art assets.

“We did most of the work a few years ago when we moved the game to PlayStation, so, by-and-large, thousands of hours have already been spent getting this right for console,” says senior producer Pete Stilwell. “Where we did spend time playtesting and iterating on the game was with the joy-cons. Individual joy-cons have fewer buttons, so we replaced the second joystick’s roll with the joy-con’s flick.”

When we asked if Diablo’s move to the Switch opens the door for other Blizzard games to jump over to Nintendo’s system, Stilwell added, “We’re focused on D3. That’s where we’re at. One thing that I think is really awesome about Blizzard is that each team is very autonomous and gets to play in their part of the pool and decide what they want to do. Sometimes that means other teams don’t have that much transparency. Our team is really excited about the Switch and what we’ve accomplished on it, but we can’t speak for other teams.”

So that is one question dodged. We’ll played Blizzard … but we’ll be back.

Check out our hands on impression of Diablo III and other games in our Gamescom preview roundup.

Categories: Games

Biomutant Remains Impressively Odd, One Gamescom After Its Debut

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:45

Just over a year ago, I saw Experiment 101’s Biomutant at its first Gamescom demo. I was immediately taken in by its oddball take on the open-world action-RPG, and I was looking forward to its 2018 release. Well, that planned release date has slipped into 2019, but my enthusiasm for the so-called post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable hasn’t waned. If anything, the demo I got during this year’s Gamescom has fully renewed that excitement.

The latest demo highlighted some elements that weren’t fully explored during its inaugural demo. In particular, I got to see more of the combat, which seems to draw inspiration from games like Rocksteady’s Batman games. Your character has a combo meter that builds up over the course of fights, and when it’s filled you can unleash a devastating Super Wushu attack. This attack varies, depending on what weapon you have equipped at the moment. In one example, time slows down, giving our furry friend ample time to line up devastating headshots – resulting in cascading numbers of critical damage. In another, our hero essentially teleports from enemy to enemy, slashing each one and moving on to the next in the blink of an eye. My favorite had to be the Klonk Fist, though. This massive gauntlet allows you to smash through yellow doors, accessing new areas when you acquire it. Better still, it packs quite a punch; it takes down a miniboss in three deft blows, driving it into the ground like a nail, in a silly and unexpected effect.


I also see a new mutation, which looks handy. Your character can modify its DNA over the course of the game, gaining a variety of new abilities. Last year, I saw one that let your hero barf out moths. This time around, I see a useful, but unsavory, ability called mucus bubble. It works like it sounds – the hero is enveloped in a giant snot bubble, which serves a couple of different purposes. You can roll around and bounce, which allows you to cross areas such as a broken rail bridge. Since it’s a giant snot bubble, enemies stick to it if they’re unfortunate enough to make contact with the glistening orb. From there, you can slide out of it and pop the bubble, causing them to fall off a cliff if you’re feeling devious.

The most interesting new element was a big demonstration of how the game’s mechs work. You work with a critter called Greasemonkey, who sends you on an errand to find scrap. If you survive the collection quest (which took place in a low-oxygen environment, in this instance), he’ll set you up with a cool vehicle. It can be customized with different limbs, heads, and weapons, and it also has a special pump device. The pump can suck away harmful toxins, creating a path for when you’re on foot, and it can also be used to launch small creatures called Sqvips. They look kind of like squirrels, and they come in a variety of different colors. The orange ones I see in the demo are a great diversional tool. When launched, they run around and grab the attention of any nearby enemies, giving our character a chance to take care of them with ease. Each color has a different characteristic, but Experiment 101 isn’t elaborating at this point.

I see just how handy these critters can be in a boss battle against something called Jumbo Puff. It looks kind of like a platypus with a mouthful of fangs. If you fill that mouth with sqvids, it’ll eat until it’s full, at which point the titanic beast’s tongue flops out. That’s your cue to snap it, and then get in a series of free hits while it’s stunned. The fight continues through several phases until you’re eventually eaten, at which point you have to navigate through a series of slick, veiny (and disgusting) pathways through its innards. Fortunately, the way to the Jumbo Puff’s heart is through its mouth, and after attacking it enough the beast finally flops down for a final time.

Biomutant is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC next summer. When I ask if it will be shown at next Gamescom, studio head Stefan Ljungqvist jokes “I hope not!” Given the choice of having to wait until next August to play the finished game, I’m with him.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 19:50

Call of Duty has had an up and down relationship with the PC gaming community, but Activision is hoping to make some overtures for Black Ops 4 by showing off the game's PC features.

In the trailer, which you can see below, ultrawide monitor support is confirmed by adjusting the aspect ratio on the game footage. The game also supports native 4K resolution and an uncapped framerate.

Additionally, the trailer confirms that the Blackout mode will be getting an open beta on PC on September 15. Preorders get access to the beta, which gives us the first glimpse at Call of Duty's take on the battle royale formula. Black Ops 4 joins Destiny 2 as one of the few non-Blizzard games on, making it more of an Activision Blizzard launcher than just Blizzard itself at this point. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases on October 12 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Bill Simmons Joins Kobe Bryant And Kevin Garnett For NBA 2K19 In-Game Commentary Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 18:55

NBA 2K has released the latest trailer for NBA 2K19, showing off some of the commentary personalities in the game, including a new introduction.

This year's game is bringing back special guests Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett from the previous year, but also bringing in The Ringer himself Bill Simmons. Simmons has been a long time sports broadcaster and founded The Ringer network in 2016. You can check out the broadcast trailer below.

NBA 2K19 will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on September 11. Earlier this month, we took a look at five big changes coming to MyTeam and at the game's career mode.

Categories: Games