The Sinking City's Haunting Horror Gets A Delay To June

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 22:25
Publisher: Bigben Interactive Developer: Frogwares Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

After rumors a week ago that Lovecraftian horror game The Sinking City was going to see a delay, especially as the intended release date was coming later this month with nary a word from the developer or publisher on it, the news is now official. The Sinking City will now release on June 27.

The publisher BigBen Interactive put up a video today explaining the new release, which you can find below.

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Basically, March is really crowded. There's not only a lot of competition for money, but for time, and BigBen wants players to be able to spend as much time with it as possible. That reasoning sounds strange, as they could just say the game needs a few more months or that they don't want it to get buried, but you do you, BigBen. I'm not sure June is going to be that much less crowded.

The Sinking City releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 27.

Categories: Games


Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 20:10
Publisher: SEGA Developer: SEGA Release: Summer Platform: PlayStation 4

With Judgment coming in just a few months, Sega wants Yakuza fans to know what they can expect from this semi-spinoff set in the Yakuza universe. There's some gameplay and mechanics that will feel totally at home to Yakuza fans and a lot of things that definitely will not.

As such, Sega has released a features trailer telling players what is waiting for them in this more legal side of Kamurocho. Check it out below.

Click here to watch embedded media

In the trailer, you can see various mechanics like tailing, the return of Yakuza's chase sequences, reviewing evidence, conversational choices, and of course, kicking faces. While the trailer is in English, the game will offer both Japanese and English voice acting, with different subtitles depending on if you want the English dub script or a Japanese translation that doesn't adhere to lip-synching.

You can check out Suriel's latest preview of the game's first few hours right here. Judgment releases on PlayStation 4 on June 21 for digital preorders and June 25 for physical purchases.

Categories: Games

A Look At Every Supernatural Ability In Remedy's Control

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 18:00

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Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Remedy Entertainment Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Control’s Jesse Faden is a force to be reckoned with. Aside from her Service Weapon, a transforming gun, her main defense against the dangerous supernatural force known as The Hiss is her ever-growing arsenal of powerful abilities that bring devastating results. During our cover story trip, we spoke to Remedy about their creation, and tried a slew of abilities ourselves during a hands-on demo.

From Max Payne’s bullet-time to Alan Wake’s encounters with the paranormal, most of Remedy’s games feature some supernatural element. Remedy wanted to take that a step further with Control. “In this case, we actually have a supernatural hero who has abilities,” game director Mikael Kasurinen says. “Sure, in Quantum [Break] we had similar ideas, but I think here we’re really, really embracing that through the different attacks you can do. That was a conscious decision from the get-go: Let’s embrace that you have supernatural powers and go as far as we can with them.”

However, the team didn’t want to go so far down the path of supernatural abilities that Control felt unrecognizable to players. One rule the team wanted to adhere to was the notion that abilities should feel somewhat grounded in reality. “Though they are crazy and extraordinary, there’s kind of this realistic flair to them,” Kasurinen says. “Everything you see is what you’d imagine it to look like. We want to avoid magical [visual effects] like fireballs and things like that. We try to use the art and visuals of this world and use that in an extraordinary or supernatural way.”

This desire to remain somewhat grounded is obvious as Jesse branches from ability to ability in the demo I played. Each of her combat-focused powers feature manipulation of the environment in some way, whether you’re ripping up part of the floor to act as a shield or telekinetically grabbing a nearby fire extinguisher to use as a projectile. Even her melee has subtle hints of using the environment, as nearby objects briefly move toward her before exploding out, signaling a compression of air before it blows out as a punchy melee attack.

Jesse also has several abilities focused on traversal. Levitate and Evade allow her to reach new areas, giving the game some light Metroid-style progression mechanics. While much of this gated progression is centered around the security clearance level you raise throughout the campaign, several points of interest require you to use a particular ability to reach them. A prime example is a moment when Jesse comes to a bridge that is out and she must use Levitate to float over the gap. If she doesn’t have that ability yet, she just has to come back once she does.

As Jesse progresses through the Federal Bureau of Control’s enigmatic headquarters, The Oldest House, she encounters Objects of Power. These Objects of Power grant her new abilities. However, before she can inherit the ability of that Object of Power, Jesse must demonstrate her worthiness in the Astral Plane. The Astral Plane hosts multiple surprises for players, but one of its key functions is as a proving ground for Jesse – and a mini-tutorial for players.

In the demo, Jesse is transported to the Astral Plane after an encounter with an Object of Power. In this particular instance, she is asked to show her understanding of the new ability known as Seize. She encounters an enemy impervious to her bullets and abilities. The only way to damage it is by using Seize to bend the wills of other enemies and make them join her side. Using this, she turns multiple enemies to allies, who then turn their guns on the head honcho. Once the main enemy is defeated using this method, Jesse returns to The Oldest House, new ability in tow.

Using Seize to capture the wills of enemies like the heavy grenadiers or elusive flying menaces is the primary function of this ability, but Jesse can also Seize Hiss Clusters, which buff and heal nearby enemies. Seizing a Hiss Cluster means you get those benefits for yourself, helping immensely in intense battles.

Jesse’s abilities don’t exist in a vacuum. Combining more traversal-focused powers with her combat abilities is satisfying and effective. Branching between abilities like Levitate with Melee even create new attacks like Ground Slam, a satisfying smash into the floor that deals area-of-effect damage. Another effective combination involves using Shield to pull rubble from the ground, then launching it at enemies to stun them. You can also mix in Evade as you float around to not only duck away from attacks coming your way, but also to get the drop on nearby enemies. Closing the distance on a group of faraway enemies is easy using Jesse’s upgraded suite of abilities.

Though it features a heavy emphasis on using your abilities, Control also encourages you to use your gun in combat. The Service Weapon is more effective against enemy health than abilities. However, that doesn’t mean it’s outright more powerful, as abilities are more effective against enemy shields.

We took her myriad abilities for a spin and got the scoop on how players can use them. You can see them in action for yourself below.

Melee Launch Levitate Evade Ground Slam Shield Seize

Click the banner below to visit our coverage hub for Control, which will be updated throughout the month with exclusive interviews, features, videos, and more.

Categories: Games

First Of Several Free 'Gift Bags' Patched Into Divinity: Original Sin 2 Today

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 15:55
Publisher: Larian Studios Developer: Larian Studios Release: September 14, 2017 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

Divinity: Original Sin 2 was one of the best games of 2017, offering a lengthy adventure and decisions that actually mattered. Today, Larian Studios is announcing that the game isn't quite done yet. A series of free "gift bags" are coming in 2019, starting today.

"Not to be mistaken for Loot Boxes (which are hard, ostensibly containing loot), Gift Bags are soft, and contain gifts," Larian says. "Each Gift Bag costs exactly no amount of money to players, and will be patched in periodically to each platform."

Today's gift bag includes character-customization items, including new faces, hairstyles, and facial features. The next one will have more of a gameplay slant, with features and content "inspired by our modding community."

The first gift bag is available today on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game.

Categories: Games

Stardock Announces New Tower Defense Game Siege Of Centauri

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 21:37

Developer: Stardock Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

The developers behind Ashes of the Singularity announced a new tower defense game today set in the same universe, called Siege of Centauri.

You'll play as the commander of the defense of Earth's first space colony, making decisions to save your territory from tens of thousands of encroaching alien machines. According to the press release, victories in Siege of Centauri expand the colony to new parts of the planet, which is met by "increasing aggression by the enemy."

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"We first got the idea for Siege [of Centauri] during the development of Ashes of the Singularity," says Derek Paxton, general manager of developer Stardock Entertainment. "With the engine's ability to handle tens of thousands of units, [we thought] could we design the ultimate tower defense game?"

An engine that can support so many units offers compelling choices for players, as certain weapons can take out hundreds of enemies at a time instead of a mere few.

Siege of Centauri will come to Early Access soon for $10. 

Categories: Games

ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove Review - Rapper's Delight

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 20:35

ToeJam & Earl was in many respects typical of the kind of game that defined the Genesis--charmingly eccentric, ostentatiously hip, staunchly uncommercial. A broad comic pastiche of tropes from early hip-hop and mid-'80s New York street style, this low-key co-op dungeon-crawler about alien rappers had what you'd call a vibe, and as one might have put it then, it was a trip just to groove with it. ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is faithful to this spirit. A ground-up remake from series creator Greg Johnson, it adheres so closely to the source material that it's hard to critique without it reading like a referendum on the original. Everything about the experience has been designed to make you nostalgic for the early 1990s, and sinking into its reverie of the past can be appealing. But too often it reminds you how far we've come since then, and makes you remember why certain things are better left behind.

The setup is identical. As the game begins, our extraterrestrial heroes have crash-landed on Earth, their ship totally obliterated. At the same time, a black hole has warped the world out of recognition, the upshot of which is the planet has been laid out across small tracts of land stacked one on top of the other, the lot of them connected by elevators--sort of like a Salvador Dali landscape crossed with Super Mario Galaxy. The object of the game is to collect the 10 pieces of scattered debris that together comprise your ship so you can return home to planet Funkotron. The pieces are hidden, their locations randomized, and the distorted quasi-earth that houses them teeming with nefarious earthlings out to thwart you for reasons unexplained. It's glib and vaguely surreal. It's absurd, but you get the sense you're not meant to question it.

Your pursuit of the 10 missing ship pieces unfolds not unlike the exploration of a dungeon in old fantasy role-playing games; Back in the Groove is a more or less standard example of the roguelite genre. Earth's ascending series of floating-island stages are generated procedurally--with the option to play a "fixed" mode that trains you to a static set of levels--while enemies and loot, both abundant, are randomized on each playthrough. Enemy placement and distance between objectives have the luck-of-the-draw quality that makes roguelites so engrossing (if frustrating), and death is permanent, demanding from-the-start replays.

What distinguishes ToeJam & Earl from other roguelites are its style and its attitude. One of the first things you notice is how mellow it feels. It's an extremely gentle, easy-going game. That's not to say it can't be difficult--on random mode, I died frequently and agonizingly, and won by the skin of my teeth. But there's a kind of unflappable composure and lackadaisical pace throughout that makes the experience feel relaxed. This is a game that not only permits but rewards lounging in a hot tub for as long as you'd like, and in which the heroes don't run but saunter. Where most games tend toward the urgent and dramatic, ToeJam & Earl prefers things unhurried. The word for it is chill. It's very likeable.

The overall look of ToeJam & Earl is unmistakable. Its vibrant aesthetic drew from a variety of urban artists of the era, including the pop art of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and the subway graffiti of Futura and Zephyr, and in its own cartoonish way the game is as authentic a snapshot of the period's hip-hop and street culture as films like Breakin or Wild Style. Of course, what was contemporary in 1991 is decidedly retro in 2019, and its bright acrylic colors and bold animations are all the more striking for their vintage air. This is particularly true of the patterned backgrounds used as interstitial lulls between levels. In the original these were loading screens; here they're technically unnecessary, but they add something unquantifiable, like grace notes, and have been wisely left in. It's in such touches that Back in the Groove best captures the mood of its predecessors.

Old-school hip-hop looms over ToeJam & Earl, but it's actually funk, not rap, that provides the music. As the title promises, grooves abound. The newly recorded soundtrack, a raft of jams by virtuoso bassist Cody Wright, features such aptly named tracks as "Slow Groovin," "The Bass Master," and "Funk Funk Funk E," which sound as advertised. It's hardly the most diverse score, but I never found it repetitive. Those endless basslines feel inseparable from the tempo of the action and atmosphere of the setting, and as such contribute to what is on the whole a really coherent style. Tone, rhythm, visual design--it's all of a piece. And the few elements introduced expressly for the remake, like new enemies, items, and playable characters, don't depart from the template of the original in the slightest.

There are things one expects even the most faithful throwback to modernize. But as if to protect the essence of ToeJam & Earl, next to nothing about the classic gameplay has been modified, supplemented, or otherwise upgraded. The game still controls like it's mapped to three buttons, and rather than streamlined it's merely simplistic. There's not much more to do than walk around and alternately locate ship parts and elevators as you evade earthlings, most of whom are so predictable and easily avoided that death is usually caused not by any one tricky enemy but by a bunch of them crowding you in a flourish of unlucky randomization. A pair of basic minigames (a crude rhythm game and an endless runner) feel like afterthoughts, and from beginning to end the campaign can be completed by a skilled player in under two hours.

Items, like much else in ToeJam & Earl, are distributed at random, gift-wrapped and unidentified until opened or divined by magic. These presents are in ample supply, and there's a staggering number of types to discover, most of them outlandish. Some, like earthling-pelting tomatoes or enemy-attracting decoys, have obvious (if limited) benefits. Others, like an alarm that sits above your head and alerts enemies to your position or a kind of bomb that causes you to immediately self-destruct, are gag gifts, better left unopened. Most seem pretty arbitrary, as though included because they're amusing. None struck me as particularly useful--even the slingshot, which should be straightforward, is ineffective. They have no real effect on strategy, except as blunt instruments, and more often than not their randomness is a burden.

A simple progression system--another holdover from the Genesis version--allows you to level up and earn titles ranging from "Weiner" to "Funklord." Now this system has been expanded upon with a basic stats tree governing your speed, luck, and so on, and in Back in the Groove graduation from one title to the next bears with it additional points in each category. The entire system is underdeveloped, and while boosts to these attributes no doubt do have some bearing on your speed or the frequency with which you happen upon valuable presents, the effect of levelling up on anything other than your health meter seems negligible. It mattered so little to my success moment-to-moment that I often forgot to redeem my level-ups when I'd earned them.

Online multiplayer is one of the rare other modern amenities, and it is an awkward fit. ToeJam & Earl was a quintessential couch co-op game circa 1991; two players felt fundamental to a full experience. But while local multiplayer still delights as expected, playing with up to three friends or strangers online is not remotely the same. There just isn't enough ground to cover in a given level to warrant four different people searching for the same elevator, and not enough content other than that to keep everyone busy; walking around together is redundant, and splitting up a waste of time, as whoever happens on the goal first has to stand around waiting for the rest of the gang to catch up. One tardy straggler can make a level feel interminable.

As if to protect the essence of ToeJam & Earl, next to nothing about the classic gameplay has been modified, supplemented, or otherwise upgraded.

In its first incarnation, ToeJam & Earl could seriously strain the Sega hardware. An environment bustling with enemies could slow the frame rate nearly to a halt, and the game's madcap sense of creative abandon sometimes seemed too much for the console to handle. Back in the Groove suffers from similar technical defects, even on PlayStation 4, to the point where I honestly wondered whether the persistent freezing and stuttering might not be an ingenious reference to its underperforming forebear. There are intermittent problems with the randomization process, too, including, on multiple occasions, the failure of game-essential objects to appear, preventing advancement to the next level. Several times I arrived on a new level to find that the elevator to the following level was nowhere to be found, requiring me to exit and load a previous save file.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove belongs completely and unapologetically to the early 1990s. This remake's most attractive features--its dazzling animation, its infectious bass--are ambrosia for the nostalgic and derive much of their charm from their fidelity to the Genesis original. But a lot has changed over the last 30 years, and the game too often fails to gracefully integrate new features to a modern standard. For every wistful reminder of bygone days and the pleasures of the era, there's a lingering fault or drawback that could have been smoothed over or mended. The issue with Back in the Groove's unwavering faithfulness to its predecessor is inextricable from what makes it occasionally so much fun: It's both captured the good and brought the bad back with it.

Categories: Games

New Rage 2 Trailer Gets Very Violent

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 15:20

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: Avalanche Studios Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The wasteland of Rage 2 is a gritty place, but thankfully the game gives you a bevy of powers to help you make your way. The game's latest trailer (out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 14) shows off the might at your fingertips and what the last ranger is capable of.

From the enemy-tossing power of the Grav-Dart Launcher to the suction of your Vortex ability, there are numerous ways to eviscerate enemies in the wasteland as you build the Overdrive meter and take matters to new, even more violent heights.

For more on Rage 2, be sure to check out all the coverage from our Cover story as well as this previous gameplay trailer.

Categories: Games

The Occupation Review - On The Clock

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 06:00

I'm glad I played through The Occupation a second time. My first playthrough did not end well. Yes, I made it to the end, I saw a final cutscene and watched the credits roll, but I wouldn't say I reached the conclusion of the story. In fact, I felt like I'd barely scratched the surface.

After finishing it a second time I had a good handle on the major events of this bureaucratic thriller, but it wasn't until I'd played all the way through for a third time--and replayed individual sections several times over--that I felt confident I understood the motivations of the main characters. Even now, I'm contemplating a fourth go in an effort to figure out the smaller details and fathom just how deep the conspiracy goes.

The Occupation is a story-driven stealth-adventure game that rewards repeat plays even if it can also, at times, feel hostile to the idea of enabling you to delve into its narrative nooks and crannies. It tells a mature, challenging story that is both overtly political and ambiguous enough to leave plenty to interpretation, while its core stealth mechanics deliver a suitably tense experience.

For most of the game you play as an investigative journalist who is reporting on a terrorist attack at the stately campus of a prominent IT company. An immigrant employee of the company has been arrested in connection with the alleged bombing, but you've received a tip-off that not all is quite so simple. There's also the matter of the company's work on a personal data harvesting project that seems worryingly linked to the British government's proposed Union Act, an anti-immigrant and anti-civil liberty bill about to face a crucial vote in parliament. It may well be set in the 1980s, but the issues tackled feel all too relevant today. It's a smart story that's told with a deft, delicate touch.

It's essentially a detective story in which you investigate scenes, gather clues, compile evidence, and interrogate eye-witnesses. You have arranged interviews with three key players at the company, and in between your appointments, you are able to explore the offices. The catch: you're on a time limit during each of the three main investigative periods. When that time is up--and it varies between 30 and 60 minutes of real-ish time--your interview starts regardless of how much incriminating information you've managed to obtain, and your line of questioning is limited to what you can actually prove.

Navigating the office space is in itself a challenge. These buildings are a maze of corridors, security checks, staff-only areas, ventilation shafts, crawlspaces, and temporary construction sites. Remembering how to get from one room to another when you have to travel to another floor, in and out of restricted areas, stealing an ID card here, shutting off the mains power there, is a stern memory test even once you're familiar with the basic layout. But the environments have a real tactile feel that makes you want to keep exploring them.

Complicating matters further, if any staff find you in a restricted area--rifling through their filing cabinets, for example--they'll ask you to leave, and if you persist, call security. Fortunately there are gaps you can exploit, both physical ones like the vent under that desk that leads into the locked room next door and temporal ones like those few minutes you have to log in to someone's computer and read their emails before they return from the bathroom. Little touches, like pausing to close the blinds in an office window before continuing your snooping, go a long way to making you feel like a genuine detective.

Sneaking around is your best bet to avoid attracting unwanted attention, particularly from Steve, the company's amiable security guy, who wanders the complex and will usher you out of anywhere you shouldn't be. Sometimes he'll spot you from a distance and come to investigate, giving you time to leave the area or find somewhere to hide while he searches. The stealth is just light enough that you get to feel like you slipped by effortlessly without having to worry too much about memorizing patrol patterns or keeping to the shadows. Sometimes it's a bit silly, though, and requires suspension of disbelief like when you clearly dash into a closet from which the only exit is through a vent, but Steve just goes, "Huh, I wonder where he went?"

On one hilarious occasion, Steve caught me trying to access someone's computer, so I tried ducking under the desk. He sighed, "I know you're in there," as he entered the room, walked over to the desk and crouched down next to me, shining his torch directly in my ever-so-guilty face. I could only laugh as he escorted me outside and gave me my final warning.

Piecing together the clues obtained from all your clandestine activities while you match them to your mental map of the facility is extremely satisfying. A crumpled note found in a trashcan might suggest that someone is hiding something, but now that you’ve found a way into their office you realize you don’t have the password to their computer and will have to rethink your approach. Your dossier, which updates whenever you reveal something of significance, suggests your next steps but rarely spells out the solution. When you have multiple lines of investigation on the go it can be taxing to keep them all straight, but it’s also hugely enjoyable to scan your dossier again and try to spot that vital connection you’ve been missing.

However, it's highly unlikely that anyone could collect every important clue on their first attempt, meaning your mandatory interviews with the key players will feel frustrating and almost painfully ineffective. There are no do-overs without actually starting a new game--the game autosaves only at the beginning of the investigation period, and you cannot create a manual save. It's frustrating when you run out of time and realize you didn't collect all the clues; on my initial playthrough I had nothing at all to pin on my first interviewee while I failed the second investigation period so badly my interview was canceled entirely. One option is to accept failure and resign yourself to playing through the whole thing a second time.

But I'm so glad I did. On my second playthrough I was able to find more clues that proved the company was lying about certain things, and I discovered whole new areas of the offices I hadn't even seen the first time around. Still, I knew there were things I'd missed, things I didn't yet understand.

I went back for a third playthrough. I had my handwritten notes from my second playthrough, and made sure I added to them whenever I turned up something new. But, as the minutes ticked away, I knew I wasn't going to find out everything. Time was running out and I still didn't know how to get into that office or how I was going to get that document printed. If I went to the interview without being fully prepared, the game would autosave and I'd have to move on whether I wanted to or not. So I quit out. I restarted a fourth time. Then a fifth.

I still haven't cracked that first interview. I've finished the game three times now, played that opening section six times, and seen two different endings based on my choices and performance throughout. Each time through, I am discovering something new, some document that adds to my pool of knowledge or some previously unrevealed connection between two people that casts a new light on their relationship. It makes me feel like a proper detective. But it's an arduous process, replaying the whole section over and over, for what feels like ever-diminishing returns. I can't help but wish there was some sort of time rewind mechanic to alleviate the repetition.

Of course, it seems churlish to complain too much about a game I'm enjoying enough to willingly replaying it again and again to explore every facet of its story. The Occupation is the sort of game you'll find yourself thinking about when you're not playing it, that gets under your skin in ways you didn't even realize. I'm going to play it again. Maybe this time I'll completely crack the case.

Categories: Games

Nintendo Announces VR Headset As A Labo Kit

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 01:15
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo Release: April 12, 2019 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: Switch

Abruptly today, Nintendo has announced the fourth Labo kit, a cardboard enclosure for the Switch itself to transform the system into a makeshift VR headset. 

Similar to mobile phone VR and its cardboard headsets, Labo VR is a shell which players put the actual Switch inside of and view distinct images produced by the halves of the screen with each eye. Joycons are attached to the sides of the headset to track motion as you move your head around.

Experience a new dimension with the latest #NintendoLabo kit! With more games & creations than any previous kit, Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04: VR Kit is a unique first VR experience kids & families can build themselves! Arriving 4/12, only on #NintendoSwitch.

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) March 7, 2019

The packages come as a starter kit, which has the headset and a gun attachment with it, and a variety kit. The latter includes other items seem in the initial Labo reveal video last year, including a bird, a camera, a wind pedal, and an elephant. The extra items in the variety kit can also be purchased separately.

Nintendo hasn't detailed the software that will come with the variety kit, but the ESRB rating suggests fantasy violence. Considering it comes with a blaster, we can only assume that, much like most VR games, it will probably be a shooter.

Labo VR Kit releases on the Switch on April 12.

Categories: Games

Assault Android Cactus+ Review - Robots Rock

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 00:00

Assault Android Cactus, first released on PC back in 2015, is a game that feels perfectly suited to the Switch. It's the sort of experience that works equally at home on your TV and in your hands during a morning commute. Thanks to a handful of new additions and some excellent port work, this new 'plus' edition is the definitive way to experience Witch Beam's excellent twin-stick shooter.

Assault Android Cactus+ isn't a major overhaul of the original, but it's a significant iteration. As before, there are 25 levels to play through, nine playable characters--five of them unlockable--and the game's focus is on chasing high scores and earning higher ranks for performance by repeating levels. The further you go, the more enemies the game hurls at you in each level, and the more hits it takes to kill them. It's a frantic experience, one where you're almost constantly beset by loads of enemies, swarming and firing shots at you. By the end of the campaign the onslaughts can feel unending, even though, in truth, levels only last a few minutes each.

From the outside it looks hardcore, but one of Assault Android Cactus' strengths is how discernable and navigable the chaos is. Enemy bullets are generally slow-moving, and some enemies are far less dangerous than others. Each android comes equipped with a primary weapon and a more powerful sub-weapon, each of which is given a generously short recharge time, so it's often possible to slip right into a huge group of enemies, do enormous damage, and slip out again. Enemies can drop power-ups, which let you speed up, give you additional firepower, or--best of all--temporarily cause all enemies to power down, letting you rack up kills. Getting kills in quick succession lets you build chain combos--the key to getting a high score is making sure that one of your enemies dies every 2.5 seconds, which means switching between damaging more hardy enemies and wiping out the smaller, more vulnerable baddies often.

To beat a level, and to maintain a high score and thus earn a good rank, you'll want to take as few hits as possible. Getting knocked down rips 10% off your total score thus far, which can be frustrating, particularly in the near-endless 'Infinity Drive' mode, where your total score can remain static or drop over a long period as knockdowns rack up. Every now and then a downed enemy will drop a battery, which you need to collect to charge your power, so going too slowly will drain your battery right down. You'll only hit a Game Over screen if you run out of charge, which can lead to great, tense moments as you fling yourself right through dangerous territory to grab a battery at the last moment.

The game supports up to four players, too, with enemy numbers scaling, and unique leaderboards depending on how many androids you send out into the fray. This means that it's a great fit for parties or multiplayer nights, but as a primarily solo player, AAC never feels lesser for being played alone. If you're planning on playing it with newcomers, though, it's worth being aware that some characters are much easier to get to grips with--and thus more enjoyable to play as--than others. Any character with a slow rate of fire can feel ill-suited to the game's fast pace, and while there are potential strategic advantages to using a railgun or a shotgun, I found myself opting for the faster characters every time.

Levels will typically feature some sort of topographical gimmick. There could be walls that appear and disappear, conveyor belts that make movement tricky, or floors that fall away and rise back up depending on where you're standing. Each presents unique challenges for how you can move through them, and while only a few of them require that you fundamentally change how you play, each one provides a neat twist. The five bosses, meanwhile, are all challenging and fun in their own ways, changing forms and attack patterns throughout their fights. These bosses are Assault Android Cactus+ at its most bullet-hellish, and learning how to weave between their attacks while doing damage is extremely satisfying.

The campaign is a challenge, but not an extreme one--the end boss gave me more grief than any other level, but I still managed to beat in within six attempts. The new Campaign+, which is unlocked once you beat the final boss and is currently exclusive to the Switch version, will push you harder. It takes each level and boss fight from the original and ramps it up--right from the beginning, there's a considerable spike in the number of enemies you'll face in each level, and they tend to be hardier than the ones in the regular campaign, requiring far more shots to kill. Campaign+ might not add any entirely new levels, but doubling the number of leaderboards you have to compete on gives you more incentive to keep coming back and improving.

Curiously, while most levels are noticeably more difficult than they were before in Campaign+, I found that there were some exceptions. Later levels, which were already designed with heavy enemy loads in mind, feel about the same when a few more are thrown in, except the scores you can earn are now much higher. The most profound changes are found in the boss fights, which transform from relative challenges into utter bastards across the board. They're still an enjoyable challenge, though, and thankfully every level is immediately unlocked in Campaign+, so you can jump around and skip any levels that are causing you frustration.

Less showy, but no less significant, is the new addition of single-stick controls. This is an accessibility option, allowing you to play with a single Joy-Con with auto-aiming enabled, and it works extremely well. These controls even helped me to see the value in some of the more complex androids--Shitake's railgun, and its ability to hit multiple enemies at once, is much easier to use with auto-aim. You lose just enough control that the absolute highest scores on the leaderboard are still going to come from players who are using both sticks, but in terms of enjoyment, the game loses surprisingly little when played this way.

The other tweaks made for the '+' edition are minor--new costumes, the option to rewatch the game's few cutscenes, and some balance changes--but there's also no trade-off in opting for the Switch version. The machine shows no signs of struggle running Assault Android Cactus+, holding a steady framerate in both handheld and TV modes regardless of how many enemies are on screen. The game's clean, uncomplicated visual style suits the small screen well, and although you'll need an Internet connection for leaderboards, trying for high scores on the bus, or--if your commute is long enough--plugging into the Infinity Drive feels irresistible.

Assault Android Cactus+ is the ultimate version of an excellent game, and a perfect marriage between console and content. It's exciting and intense without ever being impenetrable, and the new Campaign+ feature is a great reason to dive back into the game even if you've already completed it elsewhere.

Categories: Games

New Gameplay Today – MLB The Show 19

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 20:26

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Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: SIE San Diego Studio Release: March 26, 2019 Rating: Everyone Platform: PlayStation 4

In MLB the Show 19, developer San Diego Studio is attempting to overhaul areas of the series, introducing March to October, a more engaging and dynamic version of the usually no-frills Season mode, as well as introducing Moments – a new way to play through baseball history and make your own.

March to October has you play through pivotal times in a season as your team pushes to get into the playoffs, with the experience changing as you gain and lose momentum during the year.

Meanwhile, Moments tasks you with playing through various real-life scenarios of different sizes, earning rewards throughout the rest of the game's modes.

Game designers Nick Livingston and Ramone Russell stopped by the office to give us a personal tour of the modes, but also dish information on many other aspects of the game, including what’s up with Franchise mode this year, show off gameplay improvements in different areas, and more.

MLB the Show 19 is out exclusively on PlayStation 4 on March 26.

For more on the game, check out our coverage via The Sports Desk column, including Three Questions for MLB the Show 19's Road To the Show Mode.

Categories: Games

Petroglyph's New RTS, Conan: Unconquered, Challenges Your Survival Skills

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 18:25
Publisher: Funcom Developer: Petroglyph Release: Spring Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

Petroglyph Games, the team behind Star Wars: Empire at War that is currently remastering the classic Command & Conquer strategy games, released the first gameplay footage for a new "survival real-time strategy" game set in the Conan the Barbarian universe.

Conan: Unconquered puts you in control of the famed barbarian, but the twist here is you are more concerned with building your defenses and holding the fort rather than accruing resources to...let's say, command or conquer. You are tasked with remaining "unconquered" much like Frostpunk challenged you to survive increasingly harsh environmental conditions and They Are Billions swarmed your base with zombie hordes. 

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With many of the familiar RTS trappings in place, it looks to take that and apply it to what appears almost like a tower defense variant on the genre. You are holed up in a stronghold and must fend off a set wave of attackers and remain standing at the end. You can still spend time between waves to gather resources and fortify your position, but you aren't concerned with taking down an enemy base.

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Many RTS fans may be asking how multiplayer will work in this type of experience, and while it doesn't sound like you'll be squaring off against your friends, Conan: Unconquered features a cooperative game mode that tasks you with defending your base against even more challenging enemy forces.

Conan: Unconquered is being published by Funcom and is slated to release later this year on PC. 

[Source: Eurogamer]

Categories: Games

Rainbow Six Siege's Operation Burnt Horizon Deploys Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 17:32

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Release: 2015 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Four years after launch, Rainbow Six Siege is arguably better than it's ever been. Today marks the beginning of another year of content. Operation Burnt Horizon follows the Siege tradition of introducing two new operators as well as a new map, Outback, set in Australia.  

The new attacking operator, Gridlock, uses a new gadget called Trax Stingers she can deploy on the ground to slow down defenders' movements or force them to abandon entrenched positions, as they slowly drain health. The new defender Mozzie, is an Aussie hacker who can commandeer opposing players' drones with his Pest Launcher bots.

The new content drops comes alongside some balance tweaks, including another modification to the lean camera and cleaned up running animations. Ubisoft also raised the barrier to entry for ranked playlists from level 20 to 30. Read all about the extensive changes in the official patch notes.

To learn more about Operation: Burnt Horizon, you can watch our resident R6S nut mop up some fools in our recent New Gameplay Today video:

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If you plan to play today, remember to make time for the sizeable update. The file size is 54GB for PC players, 38GB for Xbox One users, and 33GB for PlayStation 4.

Categories: Games

Devil May Cry 5 Review - Comeback Album

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 16:00

As you send demons flying across the screen in Devil May Cry 5, a strong sense of familiarity will hit you. This is "old school" Devil May Cry, a simplistic network of hallways and arenas where you humiliate demons with absurd weaponry as a thumping battle theme fuels the bliss of every well-executed combo. DMC5 marks a return to the previous series continuity, and everything you remember about how those games played has been resurrected and improved. It is a brilliant iteration of the series’ best qualities--but it innovates as much as it reiterates, balancing new and old with infectious confidence.

The majority of your time in DMC5 is spent killing demons. With an array of melee and projectile attacks, you inflict complex combo strings while performing split-second dodges to evade incoming attacks. An in-game ranking system continually judges your style, encouraging you to better your performance. Protagonists Nero, Dante, and newcomer V each offer their own unique playstyles that makes the simple objective of clearing rooms of enemies continually exhilarating. Combat is where the game most expresses itself, showcasing the nuances of its mechanical depth in a variety of creative ways.

Nero is where new and old ideas come together. Replacing his lone Devil Bringer from DMC4 are new prosthetic arms called Devil Breakers. With them, you can pull enemies towards you, as well as tap into an assortment of special abilities depending on which Devil Breaker model you have equipped. For example, Overture can deliver a wide shock attack, while Punch Line shoots a rocket-powered fist that continuously damages enemies. Devil Breakers significantly evolve Nero’s playstyle by expanding his attacks, but what’s most curious is how switching between them requires you to discard your current one in order to equip the next down the line. At first, this seems like an arbitrary way to access each arm’s unique abilities--not to mention there’s little done to justify this rule in-game other than asserting that they’re simply "fragile."

However, this limitation introduces a thrilling spontaneity to combat that encourages you to be industrious and adaptable. You’re initially compelled to be frugal with Devil Breakers, but as you expand the number you can carry, you start hitting a rhythm expending them with strategic grace, flowing from one stylish combo to the next. But even with the best reflexes, an enemy can shatter a Devil Breaker mid-combo, which forces you to adjust your strategy on the fly. A persistent tension underlies using Nero’s Devil Breakers, melding high-consequence tactics with impulsive creativity. The gratifying free-flowing strategies that Devil Breakers inspire makes it easy to overlook any initial frustrations. They present a brilliant dichotomy that strengthens and amplifies the idiosyncrasies of Nero's more accessible playstyle.

Where Nero brings new flair to classic mechanics, V is fresh and unexpected. Unlike his sword-touting brethren, V damages enemies from afar with his two familiars: a shape-shifting panther named Shadow and a demonic bird named Griffon (DMC1 fans should instantly recognize these creatures). The former inflicts melee attacks, while the latter shoots projectiles. Each have their own regenerating health bar and can be taken out of combat temporarily if you're not careful. V also has a third familiar named Nightmare. This giant golem acts as more as a Devil Trigger-like last resort who can inflict ridiculous damage all on his own for a short duration. In addition, it can be commandeered to inflict more direct assaults on enemies. An enemy cannot be killed by a familiar’s attacks alone, though; V himself must inflict the final blow. V requires a patience that goes against your general instinct to be confrontational. As a result, his more deliberate pace can be occasionally irritating, especially when your familiars have trouble focusing on the proper target during a hectic fight. It’s a bit disorienting due to the lack of feedback from hitting enemies with your familiars.

Despite this, V’s emphasis on space management and calculated movement is a fantastic change of pace. Cunningly avoiding attacks as you command your familiars to deliver complex juggles is a satisfying thrill. And it's made all the more rewarding by the impact of a final blow alongside V's brief poetic soliloquies. V demands restraint, a quality that defies the offensive strategies of previous characters. His abilities may not seem like much, but he reframes the way DMC is played, demonstrating that there's still room for original and refreshing ideas in combat. V's inventive playstyle is a superb addition that feels right at home alongside Nero and Dante.

Old-timer Dante most maintains traditional mechanics, but he’s also where combat is most creative. Like his DMC4 counterpart, he’s able to seamlessly switch between four different fighting styles, each with their own unique maneuvers and setups. This time, though, he can equip up to four weapons and four guns. It’s a joy to perform combos with Dante‘s extensive arsenal; you're capable of rush-stabbing a demon, break-dance-fighting them while they’re down, and then propelling them into the air with a demonic motorcycle chainsaw.

While part of the fun is taking in the spectacle of a fight, playing as Dante is really about expressing yourself. There are so many attack combinations available that you can’t help but get sucked into learning the nuances of his every ability to achieve your desired style and flair. DMC historically excels when it’s continually motivating you to not only master its systems, but to execute upon them as elegantly and creatively as possible. Eventually, you get into a kind of flow with Dante, where combat is less about thinking than it is about feeling your way through it. Each character in DMC5 exemplifies this depth and intensity, but it’s with Dante’s open-ended combos where it feels most liberating and rewarding.

With an abundance of fighting systems to learn, it helps that you’re gradually weaned into them. The campaign’s pacing is deliberate, starting you with the more accessible Nero, then switching you to strategic spacing of V before opening up combat entirely with Dante. But even as you grow accustomed to how everyone plays, new mechanics are constantly introduced, keeping you thoroughly engaged in the highs of DMC5's stylish combat.

There are plenty of foes that test your abilities, too. Bosses in particular offer the most rewarding trials, with different challenges to suit each character's playstyle. For instance, one pushes Dante's ability to maintain quick and effective damage, where another is tailored specifically to V's vulnerability at close-range, forcing you to frequently manage your spacing while keeping your familiars in play. There are a couple bosses tied to relatively anticlimactic set pieces, but these are few and far between. The challenges are kept consistent, supplying riveting duels and new layers of complexity that inspire you to improve. And even with repeated deaths, a lenient continue system keeps the action and drama moving.

Speaking of drama, DMC5’s story is an engrossing, albeit predictable, saga with plenty of extravagant action to keep you thoroughly entertained. It has a non-linear structure that has you switching perspectives to get the full picture, which lends variety to the events unfolding before you. Set in the duration of a single day, you're notified of the passing of time at the start of every mission. The narrative benefits from this approach to storytelling, keeping you invested in what each mission has to contribute to your understanding of the timeline.

The return to familiar characters is perhaps the story’s most endearing quality. In fact, there are several loving nods to many of the series’ most iconic moments scattered throughout-- a particular instance involving Dante and a hat is a hilarious acknowledgement to the character's history. While some characters, like fan-favorites Trish and Lady, don’t have much to contribute, their presence at least brings a sense of camaraderie. However, a couple of nude scenes involving them come across as tasteless; with so many pleasing callbacks and references, moments like this awkwardly stand out. They feel cheap and unnecessary, hurting Trish and Lady's already minimal characterizations. It stands in stark contrast to the always delightful gunsmith Nico, who's established as headstrong, intelligent, and the reason why Nero is able to make short work of demons in the first place.

The story ties a nice bow on the classic continuity’s unanswered questions, allowing for satisfying conclusions for its major protagonists.

In spite of its more ambitious scale, DMC5's story leaves room for meaningful character development. It's by no means a nuanced study of its protagonists that digs deep into what makes them tick. But their motivations are always made abundantly clear, making for compelling melodrama whenever they clash against one another. You grow attached to their impassioned, if a bit simplistic, plights--if only to see how they'll overcome the harrowing challenges set before them. Ultimately, the story ties a nice bow on the classic continuity’s unanswered questions, allowing for satisfying conclusions for its major protagonists.

There is an effort to pull DMC5's more grandiose moments together on a mechanical level with the Cameo System, which adds a subtle online cooperative element to the formula. Some missions often include the presence of another character exploring a nearby area or even acting alongside you. By default these characters are AI controlled, but through the Cameo System they're controlled either by other players online or their respective ghost data. A cool concept on paper, the feature is largely underutilized with only one particularly exciting instance where you actually get to fight alongside another player. That said, seeing another player from afar does add a novel yet fleeting solidarity to your journey.

DMC5 thrives on the stylistic and mechanical prowess of its predecessors. It sticks to tradition above all else, pursuing a few ambitious new ideas along the way, but mostly maintaining the series’ focus on intricate fighting systems and campy bravado. Rarely does the game stumble, consistently leveraging its spectacle and mechanical depth to push aside any small frustrations. All the while, the story exudes a charismatic charm that keeps you constantly intrigued as you’re refining your skills. DMC5 proves the series can still be brilliant and imaginative without compromising its longest-held traditions.

Categories: Games

The Story Mode Is A Fun But Familiar Spectacle

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 14:00

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: April 23, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

NetherRealm Studios has long been the developer to beat when it comes to fighting-game story modes. After 2011’s Mortal Kombat reboot saw the studio’s focus on creating single-player content outside of traditional arcade modes mix wonderfully with a return to the series’ two-dimensional roots, other fighting-game makers have tried their hand at essentially creating a TV miniseries interspersed with regular fights along the way. Playing through the first chapter of Mortal Kombat 11’s story mode at a recent preview event, it’s hard to argue that the format doesn’t work, even if it’s starting to lose some of its luster.

It isn’t that this format is bad, per se; it’s just harder to be maintain excitement about after several games of this style of storytelling, wherein you watch a cutscene, play out a fight for a couple minutes, then watch a few more cutscenes. The fighting feels inconsequential, almost as if it had to be crammed in there.

My demo of the story mode began with the scene from the prologue trailer, in which Raiden, who’s become far less lenient on bad guys after the events of Mortal Kombat X, tortures Shinnok for his crimes against the realms before sending him to the NetherRealm. It’d been a while since I’ve played through the story mode in X, and while I had a good idea of the events that took place up to this point, it definitely felt like I was being thrust into a story midway through. Mortal Kombat had the benefit of being a reboot, and Mortal Kombat X relied on the general outline of the first three games in the series, something most fans were already familiar with. This time around newcomers will have a bit more homework to do, as NetherRealm isn’t planning a primer to catch players up.

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The most pertinent plot point in the prologue, of course, is one most players won’t have too much trouble picking up on. Once Kronika, a new character, reveals she’s able to manipulate time, it’s clear Mortal Kombat 11’s plot will focus on rewinding the clock and seeing some potentially interesting what-ifs. That’s one way NetherRealm hopes to change things up with Mortal Kombat 11’s story mode. While the narrative structure will remain the same this time around, the team is focusing on expanding the scope, fidelity, and story beats that play out within it. With time travel in the mix, Dominic Cianciolo, story director at NetherRealm, says the plot will of course involve characters speaking to their other selves. “[They’ll be] sort of wondering about their past, finding things that maybe they would have liked to have done differently, looking back on who they were and where they are now,” he says.

And when it comes to scope, the developer is hoping to impress by simply going bigger. After the prologue, I’m quickly thrust into the next beat, as Sonya Blade (who is now back together with Johnny Cage), briefs a group of special forces, including her daughter Cassie and her friend Jacqui Briggs, about to invade NetherRealm. I play as Cassie for this chapter (you can read a deeper dive on how Cassie's changed this time around here), and my first fight isn’t too far away; as part of a promotion ceremony within the special forces, Sonya decides to test Cassie’s combat mettle. The best-of-three match goes by quick; the fights in these story modes tend to be pushovers right up until the end, so I’m not surprised.

I quickly notice Cassie is no longer voiced by Ashly Burch; this time, the honor goes to Erica Lindbeck, who has voiced characters like Futaba Sakura in Persona 5, Sophitia in Soulcalibur VI, and Menat in Street Fighter V. According to Cianciolo, changing voice actors happens for several reasons. With Mortal Kombat 11 specifically, many classic characters’ facial structures and overall look have changed, which gave the team the chance re-evaluate whether the actor they were currently using still fit the new look of a character. “In some cases it made sense to stick with who we were using, and in some cases, for various reasons, we wanted to switch up," he says. 

Working with new actors then prompts more tweaking to the characters themselves. "Once we get into the process of actually being in the booth, if there are particular turns of phrase, a particular attitude or what have you, that suit the actor when we're working with them, then we'll be changing things on the fly in the session to adjust,” Cianciolo says. This also marks the debut of Ronda Rousey as Sonya Blade, but unfortunately, her voicework sounds stiff. She doesn’t sound too invested in her lines, and she stands out among a sea of solid deliveries overall.

We then move on the main event, as the special forces begin to invade NetherRealm, hoping to take out Liu Kang and Kitana, who are revenants of Quan Chi’s evil powers in our current timeline. The initial drop here is much larger than most of the scenes in Mortal Kombat X, with dozens of special forces, Tarkatan soldiers, and other hellish figures ripping each other to shreds; we also see Kabal and Jade, who are aligned with Shinnok’s forces. It’s a lot of characters to keep track of, and from the jump, I get the sense that this is going to be a running theme, raising the stakes of the conflict as the story gets more bombastic. Cianciolo confirms this won’t be the last scene of this size, either. “Over the course of the story, we're definitely going to go all over the Mortal Kombat universe in terms of locations,” Cianciolo says.

That bombast, Cianciolo says, will be contrasted with smaller character moments, which can flesh out characters and lead to better pacing. Mortal Kombat’s world, plot, and characters have always leaned into camp and gore, but when these characters are able to emit more personality, it helps sell the big payoff moments.

The team is hoping to do that even better this time around thanks to some technical improvements in animation and facial capture. NetherRealm’s offices include some incredibly sophisticated capture and mo-cap tech, and the studio’s most recent game, Injustice 2, was lauded for its facial animations. That said, the team is always looking to refine both their approach and the results they produce. “It was funny, almost all the feedback we got off the facial animation and whatnot [in Injustice 2] was just so positive, it's like, 'Aw man, now we've got to top that and make it better.'” Gianciolo says.

Despite the improvements on the tech side, I can’t help but get a familiar feeling. The invading special forces, which includes Cassie, Jacqui Briggs, and a few others infiltrating the temple as Raiden poses as a distraction outside by fending off the Tarkatan hordes. As the good guys break further into the temple and Cassie encounters a surprise opponent I won’t spoiler, I’m reminded that while NetherRealm’s approach to storytelling still works, even if it’s slightly less exciting each time I run into it.

Recently, I’ve seen story modes that have tried to integrate the actual fighting into the plots they’re telling, and have tried to gamify them to make them more fun; for all its narrative flaws, Soulcalibur VI’s Libra of Soul mode made a fun “game” out of fighting A.I. opponents over and over again. Meanwhile, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s World of Light mode, while cutting back on story, implemented its nostalgic romp into the actual fights themselves, modifying them to fit the familiar characters its massive roster was trying to emulate and changing their behavior.

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By contrast, Mortal Kombat 11’s story mode feels like a fun if familiar spectacle, and Gianciolo says fans familiar with the company’s recent output can expect something similar in terms of scope and length. But the actual fighting feels like more of an afterthought than a main event. The game’s towers of time mode looks to offer some interesting twists, but I wish they weren’t completely separate. This format of storytelling was exciting and changed how many developers looked at the genre in its heyday, but I can’t help but feel the format could use some sprucing up at this point.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed what I saw in my demo, and with the promise of more realm- and time-hopping to come, I’m excited to see where Mortal Kombat 11’s story goes. And who knows, there might some surprises in store that get me to love this story mode as much as I did Mortal Kombat and X’s story modes. Hopefully, that’ll be the case.

Categories: Games

A Deep Dive On How Cassie Cage Has Changed

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 14:00

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: April 23, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

A while ago, I made the case that fighting games rely a little too much on nostalgia. In that piece, I pointed out how a major part of big fighting-game series’ marketing is unveiling which fighters from the last entry are going to make it into the new one, even when it’s characters most people never doubt. Did anyone really think Sub-Zero or Johnny Cage wouldn’t make it the roster of Mortal Kombat 11? And yet, when I got to finally saw Cassie Cage, one of my favorite characters in the series, return in Mortal Kombat 11, I can’t deny I was excited to see her again.

Reveals like the ones NetherRealm has been doling out this year are about more than reassuring fans of something they already know. It’s about seeing how characters have changed for the latest entry. Maybe they’re sporting a new look that makes them even cooler. Maybe old moves have been buffed, or maybe they have new ones to play around with. Maybe their gameplan is different in a way that makes them even more fun to play. It’s like getting to see an old friend again after a few years and being excited by the new hobbies they might have gotten into, or the their new place. But, you know, on a video game level.

When I got to play through the first chapter of the story mode at recent preview event, one of the first things I noticed is Cassie's voice actor had changed. I loved Ashly Burch’s take on the character in Mortal Kombat X; the way she exuded a confident nonchalance about fighting, shouting things like “these are $500 shoes!” after kicking her opponent into the ground. She was a big part of what made that character who she was.

Erica Lindbeck is donning the role this time around, and while her acting and delivery in these scenes is up to snuff, I couldn’t help but be bothered by the difference. She sounds younger, oddly enough. Less nonchalant and more juvenile, perhaps. It seemed to hamper that cool demeanor I’d come to love about her. I wasn't feeling it.

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Then, as I sat down to play Cassie to take on a tower of time (the game’s other single-player mode), my initial impression was mixed. The three default variations had her in a mix of outfits; one, called “Come At Me,” featured the military getup she wore in one of the first trailers, another, “Get Dabbed On,” had her in a thick, white futuristic battle armor, and the third, “Kombat Kid,” sported a hot-pink visor and track jacket. She also had a little drone with her, which was weird. I went with the second choice because I believe in our heart of hearts, we all appreciate a good dab.

As I start fighting, I test out a few of her moves and find many of her attack strings, things I’d committed to muscle memory, are either gone or significantly altered, making her feel like a house with the furniture rearranged. It’s hard not to obsess over tiny details; the glowing kick that ended her “Fancy Footwork” string can now be done by itself by pressing back and X (on PS4) and can combo into special moves, which makes it useful against jumping opponents.

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Her “Kick Abuse” string (the one that starts off with a low gunshot) isn’t as useful of an opener, since it doesn’t have the lightning-quick mixup it used to. But now, as “Hot Take,” it juggles opponents and leaves them open to combos. Her baton is completely gone, as are all of her attacks utilizing it.

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Thankfully, I have “Active Duty” to rely on, which, besides having its first input altered to back and square, functions much the same as it did in Mortal Kombat X.

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Then I try to do her Getaway Flip special move, which acted as her main tool for extending combos in Mortal Kombat X. It’s gone. I wasn’t able to find a suitable replacement, either. In general, it seems most of her enhanced moves, which use up the aggression meter, simply increase the damage of her special moves, instead of opening opponents up for longer combos. This is in line with Mortal Kombat 11’s overall philosophy of keeping combos short and spending more time on the ground, vying for that all-important first hit. It's a smart change, but one that makes Cassie feel even more unfamiliar.

I quickly find she has a number of new tools at her disposal, however. Among them are a brand-new divekick move that knocks the opponent down, and can be done fairly low to the ground, making it a decent mix-up tool.

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She also has a new attack string that uses the drone to infuse her with lightning that reverberates into her opponent, and causing severe damage as a Krushing Blow when it lands as a counterattack.

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The drone, named BLB-118, isn’t just for show, either; in the version of her I’m playing, it’s a key part of her gameplan. With a fireball motion and square, Cassie pulls out her phone, after which I begin to control BLB instead of Cassie. When in control of the drone, I can drop bombs with triangle, deploy a damaging field with X, fire off a “fun phaser” with circle, or recall the drone with square. 

It takes a little while for the drone to do its thing, however, and I didn’t have much luck pulling off more than one of these moves per use. It also leaves Cassie vulnerable, which means I need to wait for the right time to use it - and in most matches, that moment doesn’t come. I imagine other, better players may have better luck with it, but this isn’t how I want to play Cassie, as a keepaway character. I’m a much bigger fan of her in-your-face aggression, and with some of the changes to her options, along with Mortal Kombat 11’s game-wide changes, some of that’s been lost.

More than that, I’m seeing her personality start to peek through in matches, and it’s not a direction I’m sold on at first. As one of the new generation of “Kombat Kids” in Mortal Kombat X, Cassie Cage was part of new era of character designs, one not bound by having to stay true to overall vision of a one-note character design from the mid-90s. She had an abrasive air about her that made it clear she wasn't too invested in her fights; she was too busy having a life outside of these fights, wearing headphones and getting selfies of her victories. She wasn’t part of the Old Guard, and it didn’t matter to her.

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That’s still true in Mortal Kombat 11, but it seems intensified to a breaking point here. Her character leans more heavily into her being a stereotypical millennial and, at least in the time I played as her, didn’t come off too well; between rounds, she’d check her phone, saying things like “can’t get enough cat videos!” or asking her opponent if she could tag them in a photo (go ahead and call me an old man). That, along with Lindbeck’s higher-pitched delivery and the assortment of default outfits in the builds I was playing as (the battle armor looks downright lame), made her feel like a very different person. Between that and the build I was using, I wasn’t feeling her.

But in Mortal Kombat 11, you don’t have to stick with any one vision of a particular character. The custom variations system lets you tweak not only the look of each character, but their moveset as well, and I wasn’t giving up on Cassie that easily. So I went into the editor to change out her wardrobe to make her fit more in line with what I’ve come to associate with her. I then realize the “Kombat Kid” variation is actually pretty close to what I wanted; I change the color from hot pink to yellow and green (making it look a little easier on the eyes), and swap the visor for aviators. And now I'm into this look.

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I then start looking into her moveset, which has several more options than I expected. Along with a shoulder charge and an airborne kick, she also has some flashy gun maneuvers, which let her fire them in the air, low to the ground, ricochet them off poor BLB, or fire them off an admittedly sick forward flip.

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More importantly, BLB factors into many of her moves, but most of them aren’t as intensive as commanding it directly. Along with the energy burst, BLB can also deploy a bubble field, which stays on screen for a while and slowly chips away at an opponent’s health. It sounds interesting, so I add it to one of my three available custom move slots for the character.

Click here to watch embedded media

I also see an interesting little maneuver, which has Cassie hold onto BLB to perform a quick, diagonal jump. A plan starts forming in my head; get in my opponent’s face with my new jump, hit them with the bubble, then do everything I can to keep them there by jumping around said bubble with my new drone friend. If they exit the bubble, shoulder charge them back into it. It sounds good on paper, so I choose this move as well.

Click here to watch embedded media

Going back into a couple of towers with my new loadout, I slowly start coming around to this new Cassie. I’m able to roll with the millennial quips, since they’re backed up by an outfit I’m more into. The aviators, especially, are a good touch; they harken back to that nonchalant confidence I mentioned earlier. It makes her seem more distant and aloof, which, to fit another outdated stereotype, makes her cooler. I'm coming around to Lindbeck, too; I'm still not a fan of the cat videos, but her version of the character is starting to seep through, and I don't hate it.

My strategy, meanwhile, seems to work out; the bubble is worth playing around, as it can deal a large chunk of damage to still opponents, even as they’re dealing damage to me. The assisted jump does what I need it to, forcing opponents to switch sides if they’re moving away from the bubble and evading their attacks along the way. Overall, this build feels more in line with Mortal Kombat 11’s strengths; I may not have the moves I need to extend combos, but I can close the distance between my opponent easily and keep them guessing, all while pressuring them to react with the threat of constant bubble damage. I’m not sure how these tricks would fair against more learned opponents, but it sounds like a coherent enough plan, and decidedly different from the other builds of her I played. 

Click here to watch embedded media

The fact that I can test out a build, even one that might not work, compare it to other versions of Cassie Cage, and see which version of her most speaks to me is a pretty novel concept in fighting games. I’m pretty into the version of her I made, but maybe there’s an even better version of her. Maybe that gun-toting flip is really useful, and the ricochet shots are worth the extra effort. Maybe the drone's energy burst will prove more potent than the damage-over-time bubble. It's sort of like building a team in Dragon Ball FighterZ, except condensed into one character.

Either way, I want to test out a ton of different builds, just to see all the ways I can mold her into a character who fits my playstyle. So while yes, it may be obvious in hindsight that Cassie Cage would return to Mortal Kombat and there's some nostalgia involved, I'm still excited by the all the ways she's changed, the cool tricks they've kept intact, and all the options she might have in store when the game releases. And while I'm not completely into her more intense personality, I should be able to live with it.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, she does have a decent dab.

Click here to watch embedded media

For more on Mortal Kombat 11, check out the rest of confirmed roster so far, our episode of New Gameplay Today, and our interview with Ed Boon on the many gameplay changes the game makes, how NetherRealm plans to integrate into the competitive community, and more.

And finally, here's one of her fatalities, done against her own mother which seems messed up, but hey, that's how it is sometimes.

Warning: It's a Fatality.
Categories: Games

What’s Changed In The Opening Hour

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 08:01

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: SIE Bend Studio Release: April 26, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

Last year, we visited Sony Bend’s studio in Oregon to check out Days Gone for our June cover story. The open-world, post-apocalyptic action game had been in development for about five years at that point, and the team had a lot to show off. One of the most interesting parts of our accompanying online coverage was getting a guided tour of the game’s opening hour – narrated by creative director John Garvin and lead designer Jeff Ross. 

Nearly a year later, I got to play through Days Gone’s beginning and then skipped ahead to play in the open world for about four hours. I was excited to return to the game, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the opening; I’d already rolled through it once, after all. What I played ended up being quite a surprise. Entirely new sections had been introduced, other parts had been trimmed, and the overall pacing was noticeably improved. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the biggest changes I noticed, along with clips from how they appeared in the original demo from last year.

A New Opening Segment

When I first played, Days Gone began with a cold opening in which Deacon St. John and his buddy Boozer are on the trail of a former colleague. That’s still in the game, but it appears after a new cinematic that shows Farewell, Oregon in the midst of the zombie-like outbreak. Most notably, it shows Deacon, Boozer, and Sarah, Deacon’s wife – a character that was previously spoken of, but never shown. They’ve all been wounded in the surrounding chaos, and they’re trying to board a helicopter for evacuation. There’s limited space, but Deacon convinces a man in a hazmat suit to take Sarah, leaving Deacon and Boozer to fend for themselves.
In the original opener, Boozer made a few passing references to Sarah and also Deacon’s obsession with visiting a refugee camp. Now, you get to see at least some of the events early on. “It’s always been an element of the story,” Ross told me afterward. “Its placement has been something we’ve been playing with.” 

Click here to watch embedded media

Deacon Isn’t A Reluctant Tracker Anymore

Early on, Deacon and Boozer get into a shootout with the person they’re following, Leon. He eludes them at first, but our heroes find and follow his trail – thanks in part to Boozer’s skill as a tracker and his insistence that Deacon learn how to do it himself ASAP. Deacon isn’t into the concept of following trails, calling it “Daniel Boone bulls---,” but Boozer counters (somewhat prophetically) with, “What are you going to do if something happens to me?”

You still get to manually track people, which is similar to any number of alternate-vision modes you’ve seen before, but Deacon isn’t such a pain in the ass about having to do it himself. Instead, Deacon says he can pick up the trail and the tracking tutorial begins. As it turns out, Deacon being a pain in the ass was exactly the opposite takeaway Sony Bend wanted players to have.

“The problem was we were teaching the player to not think much of Deacon, and Deacon was the most important character,” Garvin says. “When you’re constantly yelling at him, like, ‘Dude you’ve got to learn your s---,' the player was not liking Deacon. One of the things we learned is that Days Gone is a long game – it takes 30 hours to go through the golden path. If you spend the first eight hours with a guy you don’t like, you never recover from that. Because it is Deacon’s journey and his story, we really wanted to make sure that the player, from the beginning, could relate to him and empathize with him. We took a lot of friction away from the story that was hurting us in that way.”

Click here to watch embedded media

A Tough Choice To Make

When Deacon and Boozer eventually meet up with the wounded Leon – thanks to Deacon’s amazing tracking skills – he’s on his last legs. The pair get what they want from the traitor, before players are given a choice: Do they kill Leon as an act of mercy or leave him, against his wishes, to slowly bleed out and become dinner for the nearby infected? The cutscene pauses while you wrestle with the decision. 
Later, Boozer is himself wounded, and Deacon has to head out into the open world without his friend. Before he hits the door, Boozer asks Deacon to leave the shotgun he’d loaned his friend. Once again, the action froze as you got to decide to be a jerk and keep it (gaining access to a powerful weapon early on) or give it back to make your friend happy. 

On my most recent playthrough, these moments came and went without a hitch – or, more specifically, the cutscenes played without asking for my input. Deacon took the mercy shot and was a good friend to Boozer. I asked Garvin and Ross if the decisions weren’t in this particular build, or if they’d been completely removed from the game. Those choices are indeed gone, and it wasn’t a decision that came lightly.

“It was kind of one of those things where we fought for it for a long time and had binary choices throughout the game, and we did a lot of user testing and at the end of the day it became hard to communicate what the impact of those choices were,” Garvin says. “When we cut them, we found out that we just didn’t need them. It made it stronger, and it made it way more clear, and it also helped Deacon’s character, to not give the player a chance to make Deacon an a--hole. He’s not going to take Boozer’s shotgun, and he’s not going to leave this guy to be eaten alive. He’s got a code, and for the strength of the story and the strength of the character it was a good cut to make for the game.”

Ross added that one of the concerns he had about showing so much during our previous visit was that we were seeing a game that was still in active development. “The game was not done at the time we were sharing it, and game development is a process,” Ross says. “Before ‘choicegate’ gets out there where people start calling us out on things, we share. We expose stuff. We were pretty transparent, and I think that’s our philosophy moving forward. We set out to do one thing, and I think largely that vision is intact but there are micro course corrections that we’ve done along the way that I think make for a better game.”

Click here to watch embedded media

There’s An Ambush (And Combat Tutorial)

Boozer and Deacon aren’t the only people roaming the Oregon roads. In addition to infected, zombie-like freakers (are they still even people?), there are marauders, Rippers, and a host of others who want to see you dead. In its original opening, you spent a lot of your time fighting infected with guns and Molotov cocktails, but only had a couple of encounters with your fellow humans. That’s changed a bit.
In one moment, Deacon and Boozer dismount to move a makeshift roadblock out of the way. The pair pushes one of the offending cars into a ditch and then rides along. While it did teach how to hold down a button to move heavy objects, it wasn’t exactly exciting. That’s been tweaked, too.

Now, when Deacon and Boozer get off Boozer’s bike, they’re attacked by several marauders. Here, players learn how the game’s melee combat works, which is an important element of the game. Deacon takes out several of the enemies, but Boozer more than holds his own in battle. Garvin says that moment was redesigned for several key reasons – one of which might not be immediately apparent. 

“One of the missions that we felt wasn’t strong enough was the one where you’re riding with Boozer on the back of his bike and you’re heading toward the tunnel,” Garvin says. “It was just a long ride and there was a little bit of dialog that played but nothing really happened. Back to your tutorial, when they’re pushing this car, let’s have a melee beat there that shows you fighting alongside Boozer. So it strengthened the Boozer character but at the same time introduced melee in a way that was entertaining and broke up that long ride so that it wasn’t just a long ride.”

“And it was really the only chance to demonstrate just how much of a badass Boozer is; you see him destroy these guys,” Ross adds. “Where Deacon is struggling, Boozer is annihilating this guy and it shows why Deacon is his friend and they’re friends – they’re both badasses.”

A Revved-Up Intro

Ultimately, the intro hour feels a lot tighter and more structured than before. The version I first played was interesting, but definitely took its time to get going. And as long as it was, there was a surprising lack of direction overall. 

“There’s been some editing, for sure,” Ross says. “A lot more teaching is going on there. We went through it and did our tutorial pass on it, and boy that’s made a difference. We’ve got so many complex systems and through focus testing we realized that things we wanted players to kind of figure out on their own, it was important to take that hour and capitalize on the captive audience and really teach them things before we put them in the open world. They’re still going to have to piece together their own strategies, but it was necessary to prime people up for success.”

You might not be able to play the intro as it was originally conceived, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost forever. Take a look at the video below to watch that earlier version in action, along with commentary from Garvin and Ross.

Click here to watch embedded media

Days Gone is coming to PlayStation 4 on April 26. 

Categories: Games

10 Big Takeaways After Five Hours

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 08:01

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: SIE Bend Studio Release: April 26, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

We’ve been enthusiastic enough about Days Gone to put it on our cover last June, and we jumped at the chance to get our hands on Sony Bend’s open-world game again. We were able to check out two main sections: First, we played through the game’s opening (which has changed quite a bit since we last saw it), and then we kicked around in the open world for about four hours of do-what-you-want exploration. As you might expect, there was a lot to take in. Here are some of the general highlights from our time with Days Gone. I’m not going to get too deep on specific spoilers, since the game is out next month.

The Opening Has Changed

Like I said, the game’s opening isn’t the same as it was when we were at Sony Bend’s offices last year. A new cinematic provides some additional context for the outbreak, and also shows protagonist Deacon St. John interacting with his wife, Sarah, before she essentially disappears from his life. I break down some of the other big changes here, along with some context from the game’s developers on why those elements were modified – or in some cases, cut. It’s pretty interesting stuff, I promise!

Sarah Is A Constant Presence, Even Though She’s Gone

During one mission, I visited an abandoned refugee camp, which the FEMA-like organization NERO had set up in the aftermath of Days Gone’s pandemic. After clearing the camp of a few infected stragglers, Deacon visited a makeshift memorial for his wife near the ruins of some charred helicopters. What happened to her after she was evacuated from Farewell, Oregon, is one of the game’s big mysteries – or at least the early game’s mysteries. 

Even though I can’t say for certain if she’s alive, she lives on in Deacon’s memories. At several points in the demo, Deacon had playable flashbacks centered around their relationship. They meet when her car is broken down on the side of the road, and a run-in with some local hooligans gives her a chance to save Deacon from a beatdown by firing a gun into the air. Another sequence, hours later, delves into her job as a botanist for a bioengineering company. This flashback serves several purposes – teaching the player that lavender can be used to treat burns, and also laying out the groundwork that the pandemic may not have been an entirely natural phenomenon. She makes it clear that her contract prohibits her research from being used for military purposes, but something is probably going on there.

Deacon’s Pretty Likeable

I had my doubts about Deacon St. John that went beyond his parents’ decision to name a human baby “Deacon St. John.” Was this guy going to be anything more than a watered-down Sons of Anarchy archetype? After spending an extensive amount of time with him, I have to say that he definitely grew on me.

Deacon’s not going to be hitting any open-mic comedy spots in the near future, but he’s a pretty funny and charming character. His back-and-forth dialog with his friend Boozer is natural and playful, and it establishes him as a fairly normal person forced into a completely insane world. That’s not to say he’s completely soft; he’s able to hold his own against the hardasses in Days Gone’s world, and there are plenty of them. 

The Stealth Game Is Strong

From the moment I saw the first stealth-takedown in the opening tutorial, I knew I wanted to be as sneaky as possible. Bullets and other ammo can be scarce, and taking care of your problems without depleting your inventory seems like a smart play. Sony Bend stresses that you don’t have to interact with the stealth game if you don’t want to, but it’s clear they have some serious stealth fans on staff.

Days Gone has an incredibly satisfying stealth loop, with expertly placed enemies and long sections that seem tailored for that style of play. I was able to navigate a densely populated neighborhood undetected, methodically knifing my way through enemies by being patient and alert. At the end of that particular mission, I convinced a young survivor who had been living alone that she should follow me to safety. She seemed to understand the importance of stealth, too, as she stayed hidden and crept along behind me without any trouble – even hiding in a trash bin when I ran into an angry bear. I would have happily accepted a little help there, Lisa Jackson, but whatever.

But You Can Be A Maniac, If You’re Into That Sort Of Thing

Stealth is great, but they wouldn’t keep giving you bullets if you weren’t meant to use a few of them. In one bounty mission, I decided to go in guns blazing. My target was a man named Limbo, who had secured himself in a tower along with several dozen of his closest friends. I stuck back and sniped a couple of people perched in smaller towers, but I was eventually spotted. Things got hairy, but I had the tools I needed to make it out alive.

Molotovs are great at flushing shy enemies out of cover, and the shotgun was devastating against ambushers as I ascended stairways. There wasn’t anything mind-blowing about the action; it feels like a really solid third-person shooter, which is exactly what I was hoping for in that situation. Most notably, the weapons felt better, overall, than they did when I played the game last year. They were certainly functional then, but I got a sense that everything was dialed in more since that first hands-on session.

The World Wants You Dead

One of Sony Bend’s talking points is that in Days Gone, the world comes for you. And there’s a reason they keep saying it: They’re right. Nearly everywhere I went in the game’s version of Oregon, something wanted to kill me. A lone freaker in the road might not pose much of a threat, but there are bound to be more of them around the corner. If you don’t pay attention, you’re likely to get knocked off your bike by an unseen sniper or pounced on by an infected wolf.

You either settle into Days Gone’s rhythm, or face a relentless string of game over screens. Is it worth getting into that gunfight, or is the sound going to attract a crowd of infected you’re not ready for? That NERO checkpoint is bound to contain some decent loot, but are you prepared to deal with what’s protecting it? In short, players who prepare and learn to adapt will come out on top. The team did soften their original stance on difficulty settings, however, and players can modify how unrelenting the experience is from the start.

It’s Good To Have Friends

Deacon is considered a nomad in Days Gone, which is basically a person without allegiance to any particular group or faction. Plenty of other people have aligned themselves to various camps, however, and each of those camps has its own unique take on post-apocalyptic society. In the demo, we got to see Ida Tucker’s camp, Hot Springs, for the first time. Tucker is a former prison guard, which has influenced how she sees the world. In short, people who join her camp are treated with suspicion and worked hard. It’s a far cry from Copeland’s camp, where people have banded together based on a shared mistrust of government authority and centralized power. 

Performing tasks for these camps increases Deacon’s reputation, which allows him to access better tiers of items from their stores. Copeland’s camp is a great place for bike upgrades, while Tucker’s is the place to go if you’re interested in stockpiling guns and ammo. 

After escorting her to safety, Deacon takes Lisa to Hot Springs. Over the course of several missions, we learn Tucker’s hardass ethos may not be the right fit for a young person like Lisa. The girl’s days are spent tilling fields, and she confides in Deacon that she isn’t allowed to leave. She eventually does leave, but not in the way you might expect – the camp is invaded by the Rippers, a nihilistic gang of survivors who think trying to return the old ways is a kind of spiritual death. Lisa is taken, and Deacon has to save her. 

The mission ends with an introduction to Rikki, who lives at Lost Lake camp. Deacon and Boozer used to live there, but eventually left because of some… differences with management. I don’t get to see the camp, because that’s where the demo ends, but Sony Bend later told me Rikki is an important piece of the story overall.

The Bike Isn’t A Hassle

One of the things that sets Days Gone apart from other open-world games is Deacon’s motorcycle. It’s his primary way of getting around the world quickly, and it’s important. It also needs to be maintained. Run out of gas, and you’ll have to find fuel. If it’s broken, you’ll need to use scrap to make repairs. In either scenario, you’ll have to return to where it was abandoned; unlike horses, motorcycles don’t come when called.

I didn’t know what to expect from this element, at least in the long run, and having several hours cleared up how the bike fits into the overall game. It never felt punitive, and it incentivized me to keep my eyes open while I was exploring. Just as in real life, I’d start keeping my eye open for fuel when my tank was about down to about one-quarter full. It’s easy to find if you know where to look (gas stations and tow trucks are reliable places), but you don’t want to make the trek on foot if you can avoid it. A trip from one settlement to another took about 40 percent of my tank, to offer some form of context on the fuel-efficiency front.

I also learned that off-roading isn’t off limits, but that each botched landing or collision has consequences. If you’re methodical about looting, you’ll generally be all right. As with the gunplay, the bike’s overall handling seems significantly improved since I last played. There’s a nice sensation of weight to it, and it sounds absolutely amazing. They did cheat us to the second tier of upgrades, so I can’t say with certainty how the upgrade path flows, or whether it requires a lot of grinding. The bike is a constant part of your journey, so it’s going to be a worthwhile investment regardless.

Oregon Is Great

I love the Pacific Northwest, so I might be a little biased here. That said, Days Gone’s version of Oregon is a fantastic setting. There are places that are filled with lush forests, but stark rock formations and canyons are only a short ride away. The beauty is a little tainted by all the infected and crazed murderers, but what can you do?

Just as importantly, it feels like a fully realized place. Moments of levity exist, but there aren’t any goofy side missions that don’t make sense for the world or characters. That’s something that Sony Bend talked about at length during our visit last year, and it’s great to see them sticking to that philosophy. 

Hordes Will Wreck You

When you approach a freaker horde, you get an onscreen alert that it’s close by. I learned that it’s not a message to be ignored. Even though I thought I had a pretty decent loadout, I quickly realized how wrong I was. When we took on a horde last year, it was challenging, but possible. Now I understand that these aren’t something that most players will be able to tackle in their first few hours.

Try it for yourself when the game hits PlayStation 4 on April 26. 

Categories: Games

Judgment Releasing June 21 Digitally, A Few Days Later For Physical

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 02:05
Publisher: SEGA Developer: SEGA Release: Summer Platform: PlayStation 4

Judgment, the upcoming somewhat spiritual spinoff to Sega's Yakuza series, is Sega's next big attempt to grow the Yakuza base in the west. The game looks similar to Yakuza, but has a fresh coat of paint with new characters and a new story, only really taking place in the same area as the Yakuza games. We won't have to wait too long to get our hands on this new take, however, as the game is coming in June, though which day in June will depend on how you buy it.

Judgment launches in the West on June 25!

Digital pre-orders will be starting on the PS4 PlayStation Store on March 7 at 6:00AM PST. All digital pre-orders will grant early access to the full game on June 21.

Check back this Thursday for even more Judgment news!

— SEGA (@SEGA) March 5, 2019

If you pre-order the game on the PSN store, you'll be able to start playing it on June 21 when it unlocks on the PlayStation 4. Physical copies won't go on sale until four days later on June 25. It is unclear why exactly this is the case, but it is a trend that is not completely alone in the industry.

You can read our impressions of the first few hours of Judgment right here, where Suriel calls it "a solid opening argument."

Categories: Games

Take Some Time Off In April For The Release Of Vacation Simulator

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 03/05/2019 - 19:21

After a brief announcement at The Game Awards in 2017, Vacation Simulator, the follow-up to the hugely popular Job Simulator, has finally got a release date and a slew of new information. For those of you tired of waiting for this vacation, it's not far off. The game is releasing in just over a month on SteamVR and Oculus for $29.99 and the PSVR version is coming sometime this summer.

Along with the news of when you can immerse yourself in the simulation, the developers, Owlchemy Labs, also released a trailer showcasing the different locales you'll get to lounge around in on Vacation Island: the beach, forest, mountain, and resort.

Click here to watch embedded media

In the year 2060, the robots have built this simulation to better understand what humans do when they aren't working. To that end, Vacation Island comes equipped with plenty to see and do. Owlchemy gave a run down of what to expect:

  • Experience Vacation Island, your destination for optimal relaxation and/or efficient memory-making!
  • Customize a virtual YOU for picture-perfect selfies!
  • Wave to interact with a colorful cast of Bots!
  • Enjoy RECREATION beyond the theoretical limit in immersion-inspiring destinations!
  • Splash in the silicon sea and bask in simulated sunlight, all without getting sand in your… hands!
  • Get lost connecting with your roots, nodes, and branches… then get actually lost on a hike!
  • Elevate your ice-sculpting skills to new heights and reach peak cozy by knitting mittens for a snowhuman!
  • Exist in a comfortable, all-inclusive VR experience — free of motion sickness AND seasickness

The game is nearly out, but it's nice to see that the game looks to be retaining some of the signature charm that Job Simulator was known for. While you wait, check out our review of Job Simulator to see what we thought.

Categories: Games