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Exclusive Hands-on With Darksiders III's Latest Demo

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 19:00

From its inception, Darksiders was meant to be a multi-entry franchise. The four biblical horsemen of the apocalypse are its protagonists, after all. Following the release of the second game and the collapse of publisher THQ, the future of the franchise looked apocalyptic, and not in the fun video game way we all appreciate. However, many of the developers of the first two games (though notably not the series’ creator, Joe Madureira) reformed to create Gunfire Games, and that studio is picking up the series where it left off. Gunfire Games will be taking a demo of Darksiders III to Gamescom, but we got a chance to play through it first.

The first Darksiders followed the exploits of the horseman War, Darksiders II followed Death, and the third follows Fury, War’s sister. The final horseman, Strife, makes a shadowy appearance in the demo’s opening cutscene, but whether or not he will be a major factor in the game remains to be seen.

Back To The Apocalypse

The demo opens with the Charred Council, three stone faces with mouths of flame who directed the horsemen in the previous games, performing a ritual that mostly involves reminding the player of who the main characters are and their roles.  Fury interrupts the ritual in the interest of getting on with it so she can get to the action and the council identifies her as the most unpredictable of the apocalyptic riders, calling her a “terrible engine of rage.”

 

From there, Fury begins the task given to her by the council: collecting the seven deadly sins. Fury is dropped into a what appears to be a city street that has lost a long war with nature. Dilapidated cars litter the overgrown street, and it immediately recalls locations explored by War in the original Darksiders. Also like the original game, Fury is joined by a Watcher, a companion character that reminds her of her mission and occasionally offers assistance. In the first game, the Charred Council sent a Watcher (voiced by Mark Hamill in that game) with War to keep an eye on him and make sure he stuck to his mission. It’s safe to assume Fury’s Watcher is with her for the same reasons.

For this demo, Fury only has a single attack button, but I find combos by holding down the button in the middle of a flurry of attacks or waiting to press the attack button after some initial hits. The controller layout screen in the options menu also hints at Chaos Form and Hollow Attacks, but they are closed off for my demo.  I make short work of the assorted enemies with simple combos, but it’s clear there is some additional depth to the fighting system that will surface later in the game.

Fighting Envy

After taking out a few enemies and using Fury’s chain whip to swing over gaps, I find Envy, the first of the seven deadly sins. She’s an ugly vulture-like creature that reminds me of the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal. She broadcasts her attacks explicitly but moves surprisingly fast, sending out shockwaves to jump over as well as directed attacks from above that I roll out of the way to dodge. Envy collapses the floor and I do some straightforward platforming and whip-swinging to get back to her.

She kills me during that second stage of the fight, but my failure reveals a new mechanic. Darksiders has always been transparent about borrowing mechanics from games like Zelda, God of War, Prince of Persia, and Portal, but now it has a new game to add to that list of inspirations that won’t come as much of a surprise: Dark Souls. Leading up to my fight with Envy, I had been collecting souls from killed enemies, and when I made my way back to her to attempt our fight again, I saw the souls I had presumed lost waiting in the middle of fight location waiting for me to collect them. I learn later in the demo that those souls can be exchanged for experience points for my health, attack power, or magic abilities.

Knowing her patterns now, I defeat Envy and trigger a cutscene. The Watcher accuses Fury of killing Envy instead of capturing her, but Fury holds up a glowing green talisman she stole from around Envy’s neck that sucks up her essence. It glows and functions like the Nephilim amulet that Death used to store the souls of his departed brethren in Darksiders II, but they appear to be two different objects, despite the similarities.

 

Impressed, the Watcher says, “You were all that the council promised, mistress,” reminding Fury that the other deadly sins will not be as easy to find and capture. The two move on to a similarly dilapidated city street and Fury comments that she is impressed by her brother War’s work, considering it was him who inadvertently caused the apocalypse in the prologue to the first game. “His gifts are impressive,” Fury says, but the Watcher reminds her that she has no peers among the horsemen. The Watcher seems to think Fury is the most powerful of the group.

Exploring The World

Before the demo concludes, I get a chance to explore the environment. I see platforms too far away to reach, implying a future upgrade that will let Fury access distant locations. I also find hallways blocked by glowing purple rocks, and another covered in some kind of translucent material that can probably be unlocked or destroyed with the right ability. I also see, off in the distance, a wall that looks a whole lot like the ones Death had to climb in Darksiders II. I didn’t climb any surfaces during the demo, but I bet Fury has the same upper-body strength as Death.

 

I also come across a large enemy who sleeps until I attack him. I defeat him, but he gives me more trouble than any of the enemies up to that point. I could have totally avoided him had I just walked by, so he was a totally optional additional combat challenge.

Right before the demo ends, I come across a gigantic tree weaving its enormous roots through the assorted buildings. The Watcher refers to it as The Maker Tree, and I am unable to explore any further.

Darksiders III so far feels like a continuation of the first two games in a way that I appreciate. It’s strange to be nostalgic for a console generation that only ended recently, but it played distinctly like a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 character-action game, which is a style of adventure I miss and haven’t played in some time. Hitting enemies with the chain whip felt good, but I am hopeful for more depth in the combat as you learn new abilities. I am also concerned that I didn’t solve a single puzzle. Darksiders II’s late-game had some amazing Zelda-inspired puzzles (like playing catch with clones of yourself through portals), and I hope Fury also gets a chance to use her arsenal of abilities to open locked doors when the game releases in November.

For more on Darksiders III, you can hear "Fury's Theme" from composer Cris Velasco by heading here.

Categories: Games

Generation Zero Continues To Impress With A New Gameplay And Open World Trailer

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 17:08

Generation Zero, the open-world shooter from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios, impressed us at E3 2018 a couple months ago. Avalanche has given us glimpses of the gameplay, but now it's ready to show off more of the open world through the latest trailer.

Set in an alternate version of 1980s Sweden, Generation Zero casts you as a vacationer returning home to find your quiet countryside home has been invaded by massive, hostile machines. Your job is to defend your home turf while figuring out why this invasion happened. Generation Zero supports fully customizable characters, seamless cooperative multiplayer for up to four players, and a persistent world where any damage you do to enemies is permanent.

Avalanche Studios released a new trailer for Generation Zero today. The new video shows off how you can use stealth and strategy to your advantage, as well as how looting the scraps of machines you kill can give you the upper hand in battle.

If you want to be among the first to try Generation Zero, you can sign up for this fall's beta test here. Generation Zero is set to launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.

Categories: Games

NHL 19 Franchise Mode Interview: Learn The Nitty Gritty Details About The New Scouting System

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 17:00

A few months ago, we painted the broad strokes of what franchise mode fans can expect from NHL 19. A completely revamped scouting mode gives users control of up to 20 scouts to gather information on prospects throughout the world, as well as keep tabs on player progression/regression across the NHL. Keeping your player reports up to date will be vital to making savvy trades and free agency acquisition, because if you're using out of date data you may end up spending too much to add a player who is already on the downswing of his career. 

The prospect scouting reports, amateur stats, player comparisons, and central scouting rankings give users more information than they've had in previous years to make smart draft-day decisions, and a dramatically expanded 50-player draft board makes it much easier to outline your plan of attack. You'll want to especially watch out for the gem and bust designations from your scouts; identifying a few late-round gems could turn your struggling franchise into a cup contender down the line.

After playing with the scouting system for a couple hours and going through a draft, I hopped on the phone with producer Gurn Sumal to talk about the vision for this new system and how the scouting affects the rest of the moving pieces in franchise mode. Before we dive in, watch this 16-minute tour of the new features narrated by Sumal.

What were your inspirations for this new scouting system? 
"In terms of the redesign itself, looking at our scouting system, it's been kind of the same since we got to next-gen, and it wasn't in-depth enough to do what we wanted the system to do. There's been times where I wasn't able to get the kind of end results I would want based on how limited the system was. When looking at overhauling it like we did, I play a lot of games and a lot of manager games, so I drew inspiration from that. Also, we have inside access to a lot of NHL behind-the-scenes footage of their war rooms and whatnot, and looking like that was cool to draw inspiration from, especially with something like the draft board. The main goal was to try to make the most kick-ass scouting system that we possibly can, drawing from different areas to make it as authentic as possible. We've had meetings in the past with scouts as well so there are a lot of different things we pulled in to sort of get us to that point. 

How do the costs of scouts and travel budgets fit into the larger picture – is it only for Owner mode?
It will only be with owner mode on, it doesn't have much of a factor if you have owner mode off. But it in terms of the groundwork we laid with owner mode, the reason why we did owner mode in NHL 16 was to build that base economy for the game so when we start adding new features like scouting and anything else that has a monetary value on it, it actually has a larger impact on how you play. If you're not meeting your owner goals and making a profit, it's going to become more challenging for you to resign quality scouts or sign your scouts as they get better in certain regions and participate within scout free agency. The goal was to really have it play as a big factor in there. Travel budget also plays a bit of a factor, they also have a daily per diem so they spend money while they travel from city to city within each league as well so you really do have to manage that. If you start moving scouts around way too much you start getting into things where you can't travel anymore or your scouts can't really scout anymore. You do have to be aware of your budget at all in times in that regard. 

How many scouts do A.I. teams usually field and how does their pursuit of scouts work? Will they outbid you for a scout's services?
Yes. In terms of the amount, they have the same amount as the user has the ability to sign up to, so they'll have anywhere from 15 to 20 scouts. Some teams will have depending on their idea of what they want to do, they'll either hire a couple more scouts or just keep the amount that they have. They go through the same process as the user so during free agency they'll actually try to sign scouts as well. If they lose a scout to retirement or they lose a scout to the fact that they couldn't resign them, they will actually try to sign scouts as well. They're every bit a part of the living, breathing environment of that free agency window. 

Do former players who retire become scouts? How often does that free agent pool refresh with new scouts?
They do. Players do retire and become scouts. The pool refreshes once a year. Scouts retire similar to how our players retire if they are really bad or in free agency too long we'll pull them out and generate new scouts to keep the pool fresh and unique. It also allows us to have players retire and become scouts. I think the other day I had Chris Thorburn become a scout for me. It does happen anywhere from one to three players a year. Some years you'll also get zero, just because no player decided to become a scout, but it does happen throughout the course of a franchise. 

How easy or hard is it to re-sign scouts? I'm assuming they don't have a morale system and there isn't a place they can elevate into like a GM role...
It is a little bit less of a tougher time to sign scouts as opposed to players because they don't have that morale system linked into them. However, they do reject based off of cash and years, as well as if I recall correctly if you are sending them out too much in areas they aren't supposed to be in. If you have a guy that's supposed to be an AHL scout and he isn't a good AHL scout he wouldn't like that, so there is a little bit there. It's not as sophisticated as the players, but we do hope to one day get to that point. 

Do some scouts develop and do some stagnate, or do they all operate along the same experience gathering system?
In terms of how long it takes for a player to develop, it depends on their quality in that region. The longer they stay within there, they will move up in rank. It could take anywhere from an entire year to get to a relatively okay spot, but it is dependent on the scout and how poor they start off in that region. At the same time, as you keep them within there, they will start to decline within the other regions because they are now focused on developing in that one region. 

At the beginning of scouting, I noticed you may not know a player's true archetype until you scout them. How off can those initial guesses from your scouts be?
It can be off, but only from a reasonable perspective. It won't be like an enforcer will show up as a sniper, mainly because in the real world you're going to know if the guy is playing that type of game. You may have a sniper show up as a two-way forward or playmaker, and enforcer showing up as a grinder or power forward, so it's within the realm of realism there. It works the same for pro scouts as well. 

What are the benefits of having two scouts instead of one in a region? What would happen if you heavily focused on the WHL, for instance?
You'll definitely get more accurate results and you'll get more looks on players. As a GM you'll get one collective report based on that player. You'll get more accurate information in that regard, especially if you add a C scout and an A scout. The C and the A scout together would be a decent combination in that you'd get double the information on that player and it will be quicker for you to get that information. You'll also have more far reach for more of the players because you could assign 50 players to one scout and 50 players to another. You could also assign the same player to the same scout. There are benefits to it. Obviously if you do that, though, you are potentially missing out on another region so there is a bit of a risk/reward there. You may want to frontload the WHL but now you are missing information on the OHL. We tried to balance it in a way that that is a meaningful choice and you can't get all the information on all 900 players in a draft class. It's really up to you how you want to strategize that. You really may want to go all in on the WHL because you noticed that Central Scouting's ranked a lot of the players there, but you may miss out on the gem in the OHL as a result. 

During a draft, I noticed the number one overall pick, who was an elite medium center, had a stat line that looked more in line with a player that was going to end up in a beer league as opposed to the NHL. He had like 8 goals and like 14 assists. I know you are still tuning, but how does that stat generation work under the hood?
What you probably saw was a junior player playing in a men's league. You have to be very careful when you're looking at a state line in that regard. If a guy's playing in La Liga, he's playing as a 17-year-old player against 25-plus-year-old men, so you want to pay attention to the strength of competition. Whereas if you were playing in the CHL, you're going to put up more points but obviously you're playing with your peers. That's why the stats looked off in that regard. You're actually having a kid play with men, which eight goals as a 17-year-old kid is pretty good in that league. Everything is tuned based off of the league. You'd actually notice if you had that same player and you placed him in the WHL he would actually generate an insane amount of stats. It's up to you to parse that data accordantly and it's just another tool for you to look at. 

In regard to how we generate stats, it's a simplified sim engine in that sense. It's not anywhere as in depth as our actual sim engine, but it does take the players within the draft class. It doesn't go as in depth as, 'oh, this guy took a shot from here, this guy took a shot from there.' It goes 'hey this guy's overall is this, his age is this, this is kind of what we expect him to do.' 

Do those junior or international league stats affect a player's progression when you leave them in those leagues once they are drafted?
It does in a sense in which their minutes being played does have an effect on them. If you are sending them back to junior, it does have an effect. It's kind of always had an effect when you do send a player back to juniors, especially when they aren't ready. They also do help you uncover fog of war information on your player just to keep a tab on a player. If they didn't play that year, then you actually wouldn't uncover data. 

Have you made any changes in terms of how player progression works for prospects? 
We have made some tweaks. You will notice that players in the past would grow all out of whack in terms of you'd get a guy with 99 speed and then a very bad acceleration. What we've done is try to make it more in tune with what an actual player looks like. Snipers will get better at shooting a little bit more than a playmaker and not grow as much in passing. 

Talk about the gems and busts. Is that automated based on generated draft classes or does it vary how many are in each draft or is it a set amount?
It does vary. We generate draft classes on the fly so one franchise isn't the same as the other. Those busts and gems are different per franchise. They aren't predetermined. There is a formula behind it in regard to how good the scout thinks they are. The better the scout, the higher the likelihood that you are going to uncover those types of players, but typically you won't uncover more than like three gems and then a handful of busts. That's if you left it on auto-scout. If you manually scouted you may get to five gems, so there is definitely some benefit to manually scouting some guys, but there may only be 10 in a specific draft class. It's random but within a range if that makes sense. 

Are those gem and bust designations guaranteed, or can scouts whiff on those?
They are guaranteed, and the reason we did that was to not have it be completely from a user perspective if I see this guy is a gem, I would want him to be a gem as opposed to being like I don't know what's going on? However, to counter that we made them super rare, so you're not getting a substantial amount. We didn't want it to be a very crappy moment where this guy isn't a gem, I can't trust my scout at all. But a crappier scout will have a very low likelihood of finding a guy. 

When you put a player on your draft board early on, do the scouts pay more attention to him moving forward or do you still have to do that manually?
The draft board is more or less a user-based thing. It's more for the user to keep track of players they want. The scouts will obviously go scout players more often if they are within the top 250 of the draft class, so you should get relatively decent information on those players, but there is no bias to players on your draft board. It's more for pure tracking purposes for the player. In years past, we had a watchlist of five. We wanted to get it to 50 so they could really keep track of the players they want to grab in the draft. 

How does this new scouting system affect trading during the draft?
As a result of the draft board, what we wanted to do was create shortlists for all of the CPU teams kind of like a user or ream GM would do. Every team takes into account their weaknesses, their strengths, how good the player is that is currently in that pick. Each team has a shortlist that they would want to work off of. Sometimes that list is as small as three per round, sometimes it's a lot larger – depends on the team. But they no longer take the best pick available. They will actually look at their prospect depth. That's scaled based on where they are in the draft. If they are in the top half they are going to draft usually the best pick available, but in later rounds they'll draft more for depth. Now that they know who they are targeting and who they want to get, if they think a player that they want is going to be picked ahead of them, they will try to move up in the draft. And if the player that they wanted is gone and they have no one left on their shortlist, they will be more willing to trade back and go to the next set of guys essentially. So, they're a lot smarter in that way. They're also more draft oriented trades. They'll do two picks for one based on the trade value for the draft picks.

When CPU teams create their shortlist of targeted players per round, is that based on where the players are slated to go? Is that the parameter for their valuations are or do they reach, too?
They do reach in some cases. Some of the picks won't be in line with central scouting. Sometimes guys will fall like five spots and they may be like 'oh, I'm going to grab that guy because that guy fell.' It really depends on the drafts and the team that is picking in that slot. 

You have all this behind-the-scenes logic that dictates what these teams do, but it never really surfaces for the player. Have you thought of creating a narrative engine that takes the information of why these teams are doing what they are doing and translating it into a draft pick hot take from an analyst so it feels like the player can understand what the teams are doing? 
Obviously, that would be an amazing thing to do. I think for this year specifically, just the amount of depth that we are adding we obviously couldn't get to everything that we wanted to do in regard to that presentation element. That's not to say that isn't something we may want to do in the future, it would definitely be cool to have that Madden-esque type of feel where they would have Adam Schefter show up in the draft as you are picking players. It's definitely something we would like to get to. 

Let's talk about the introduction of pro scouting and fog of war. Why was this something you wanted to add into the game?
We've had amateur scouting in the past, and I really wanted to blow that up and make that feel in depth. And as we were designing the feature, we were throwing some stuff around and thought wouldn't it be cool if we had pro scouts and actually have a pro scout that actually means something? By adding something like fog of war and really flipping the game mode on its head on that regard where you are seeing every bit of information on a player and now you're not longer getting that information, we really wanted to make it a unique experience so that not every franchise mode feels the same based on the team that you pick, the scouts that you have on your team, you're going to get different results on players that you've scouted. You may overpay for players in trades as a result because your information isn't exact. There are lots of little things that in the real world the GM is going to make a mistake. In our old game, you weren't able to make those same mistakes because you could see everything so we really wanted to incorporate that real-life GM feel into the game. Having pro scouting and fog of war allows us to do that. 

The fog of war also applies to your own prospects – coming into the league you don't have all the true information on them. How long does that fog last on your prospects?
It depends on how much that you play them. So, let's say I drafted a player that I didn't really scout well as an amateur player. Once he comes over we convert their amateur report into a professional report. Once they do that, you can then play them in the preseason if you would like if they have a signed contract. In that timeframe, you may get to say a three-bar accuracy and not a four-bar one. You may need to play this guy a little more so that he gets his nine-game trial in the NHL so you can really make a good evaluation. We're trying to get that same sense and feeling as a real NHL team would have to make a decision on a player. This guy may be a 78-overall player with three-bar accuracy, but he may be an 80 when you're scouting is fully accurate or he may be a 75. I need to play him more to get that information before I keep him on my roster or send him back down to juniors.

Will you get that information if they are playing in the AHL or is it only if they are playing up with the big club?
You will get that information if they are playing in the AHL. You will get that information but if they get sent back down to the CHL then you can't bring them back up.

How does the fog of war affect CPU trade evaluations? Do you have proposals where they don't have full information on their players so you can fleece them? Do some teams reject the trade, do the research, and come back and re-propose it?
They won't do that in the sense that they won't counter-propose a trade but it does affect the CPU trades in a manner in which sometimes they will trade for a player.... it’s more user oriented than CPU oriented but it does affect the CPU in a roundabout way. Let's say I'm trying to trade for a player. When they evaluate a player off your team and you are taking a player off your team they kind of have that similar knowledge. There is some of that but it's not as in-depth as the user side. The CPU doesn't have an advantage, they have some potential error in there, but it's not as great as it is for the user. 

How long does your clarity last on a player from another team before the fog of war starts to creep in again? 
We decay reports every 30 to 60 days. We also do regenerate a report for player every time you play their team again. If that player is in the lineup and you played them, you will generate a temporary boost to maintain that report on that player and get a little more accurate information. But by the end of the year if you never scouted a player again, you'll actually lose all the information. They will decay relatively quickly if you don't have a scout in that region scouting those teams. 

I noticed you can scout line combinations. How is that beneficial as opposed to the other ways of scouting?
Right now, viewing lines would always be accurate. It's more for the users who play games, if they want to take a look at who's on the opposing team's lineup going into a game, it gives them that extra bit of information whereas in years past you could go to view lines and just look at their lines; like anything else you had full information on them. It's just to add a little bit of extra depth for the user that goes in and plays a lot of games so they can get a leg up on that team by scouting their line combinations. 

Were there elements you were trying to get into the scouting mode this year you weren't able to get to?
This is one of the few features where I think we got a lot of what we wanted to get in. In terms of is there anything that we wanted to get in not get in, I don't think so. 

Did you do anything different with player morale this year?
There's always fine-tuning we do based off player feedback, but nothing major. There's obviously bugs that we fixed with certain things but nothing major with player morale. Continuing to make it more performance driven than it was in the past when it was team chemistry oriented. We just played around with that a little bit more to fine tune it. 

Any changes to how the CPU GMs handle team composition? I noticed in the past few years they are really bad about freeing up roster spots for trade flexibility. They're always up against that 50-contract ceiling. 
Yeah, that gets better as you get deeper into dynasty. The problem is earlier on they are not as flexible because we're using the real-world rosters and we're importing players. By the time we get to September or October, they're kind of at that threshold. In regard to roster composition, we've done a few tweaks on how they look at players here and there. Nothing major but again it's more fine tuning when they will try to trade a player or what type of player they will sign. Very minuscule things. 

I run into something every year and I don't know if its sim engine based or contacts demand logic, but you'll have a guy who is maybe an 80 like most players in the league, he only scores 10 goals a year. He's not super productive. He's a second- or third-line guy, and every once and a while you'll get these types of players demanding contracts way more in line with a high-skill player who generates a lot more points. How is that player's contract demands determined?
Every guy that you try to sign it depends on how old they are, so you won't see a guy that's done growing get to that point. They are basically banking on themselves to be better at a certain point in their career. What they'll do is look ahead and say, 'I'm going to be a good player, so I would like to have this dollar amount.' It's not always guaranteed so that's why you have to make that decision – am I going to pay this guy or am I not going to pay this guy? But it does have some logic in that they are trying to see if they are going to project into that potential they have and they'll demand based off that. Now, there's a lot of things that we've seen that we want to adjust with that. I've heard the community talk about this in the past and we just haven't had the chance to get to it, about it being more stats driven so that player even though he may grow into that 88 overall, he shouldn't be asking for that contract. There's definitely some stuff there that we should still address, but that's kind of what the thinking behind it is. 

I noticed if you have a deep club like the Red Wings were the last decade, where your prospects are staying in the AHL until they are 24 and 25 and coming into that next contract, they'll be demanding a new contract like they've been a top-six winger in the NHL for a couple years even though they haven't played in the league yet. 
Yes, and that kind of falls back to what I had just said – they are projecting themselves out. Now, they may not become good, they may become that 88 overall or they may become an 80. It's really up to you to sort of make that decision as the end user. Obviously, we want to make it better so it's a little more in tune with the real world and those expectations they have from a contract perspective. 

There are a lot of moving parts to this deep new scouting system. Do you have any times for people just getting started so they get the most out of it?
That's a good question. Without giving away too much, knowing how everything kind of works, I would say really utilize your pro scouts to scout divisions at a time as opposed to individual players in some cases unless you are specifically trying to target a player. Otherwise, you may lose information quite quickly if you're not on top of the ball. In terms of amateur scouting, I would say try to diversify as much as you possibly can within each region because the way our prospect generation now is, good players are coming out of different areas quite often. You may want that All Cent Skin scout or that EBL scout just in case. Try to cast a wider net than you would have in years past where you focused just on specific areas. 

NHL 19 releases on September 14 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. To learn more about the game, read:

Six Changes That Make NHL 19 The Most Promising Hockey Game Of The Generation

EA Answers The Hard Questions On NHL 19 Player Likenesses, Commentary Changes, EASHL Practice Mode, And Online Franchise

Categories: Games

The Messenger Hopes To Be A Cut Above The Games That Inspired It

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 16:00

If retro-revivals are like trying to recreate a favorite food from memory, The Messenger is trying to recreate food from memory and experiment with the recipe at the same time. In most cases that would be reckless, but The Messenger manages to hit upon the right combination of nostalgia, execution, and a few surprises to make the new parts seem like it could have always been there.

If not for the widescreen aspect ratio, it would be easy to confuse The Messenger for its inspiration Ninja Gaiden. The eponymous Messenger looks like he stepped straight into Ryu Hayabusa’s 2D shoes, and mask, and gi, and the indie title makes no bones about it. Within seconds, you’re jumping and slashing enemies with immediate expertise as you start on your journey and it only goes up from there.

An ancient evil has risen from the underworld and a warrior from the west entrusts a ninja trainee with the important mission of delivering a scroll to prophets at the top of the mountain. As the messenger, you make your way to the top of the mountain using all your ninja skills, which include a lot more than just jumping and swinging your sword at enemies.

On your journey, you gain a number of new abilities both through an upgrade tree and as part of your story progress, but both are pretty important to take utilize. The upgrade tree uses collectible currency found in the game for simple things like stat upgrades to critical skills you should immediately get like the ability to attack enemy projectiles. As you progress through the game, you will get the ability to climb on walls, glide, and more. No one is going to shoot this messenger easily.

As a linear Ninja Gaiden-like, The Messenger is surprisingly fun. One of the game’s fundamental mechanics is letting you jump in the air after slashing something with a hitbox, like enemies, their projectiles, or lanterns scattered across the stage. This means levels and puzzles are designed on the ninja ability to hit things and stay in the air indefinitely, which makes for fast-paced and exciting action. As long as you keep your abilities in mind, you’ll never be at a loss for how to tackle a situation.

Despite hewing so closely to its inspirations, it is important to note that The Messenger is never unfair. No birds are going to divebomb at you that so you fall helplessly off a cliff. The wind won’t change at the last second to force you to fall to your death. You will still die, but death’s only consequences are a small loss of programs and a monster following you around to eat the collectible currency you grab until it has its fill.

Perhaps The Messenger’s most interesting quality is its writing. Dialogue with the shopkeeper goes for days and he will occasionally entertain you with stories that range from passive aggressive life lessons to genuinely dark fairy tales. There’s also a few opportunities depending for specific moments where you can drag the dialogue on for 60 - 70 text boxes without repeating. The shopkeeper sometimes annihilates the fourth wall, which I’m rarely a fan of, but the clever writing outweighs the occasional awkward jokes about game design.

The Messenger’s early hours scratch an itch I’ve had for Ninja Gaiden while also not being frustrating, which Ninja Gaiden can sometimes be. The game also hosts more than a few surprises, which will become apparent to players who stick with it and see things through to the end.

The Messenger releases on PC and Switch on August 30.
 

Categories: Games

The Quiet Man Trailer Is Cryptic And Creepy

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 15:28

The Quiet Man's mix of live action sequences with brutal combat is on full display in the title's new trailer, but the footage also poses other questions.

Clearly the game's story involves more than just the kidnapping of jazz lounge singer Lala, and while the action may take place over a single night, for deadly and deaf protagonist Dane the game's events evoke feelings and memories of an entire lifetime.

The Quiet Man is coming soon to PS4 and PC, and is priced at $14.99.

For more on the game, check out this earlier preview covering 40-minutes of gameplay.

Categories: Games

New Battlefield V Trailer Shows Off Rotterdam Map, Gives First Glimpse Of Battle Royale

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 14:46

Right before Gamescom kicks off in Cologne, Germany, EA and DICE have released a new Battlefield V trailer. The two-minute clip gives us a good look at the Rotterdam map, which takes place during another early World War II battle that happened before the Americans joined the fray. Known as the Rotterdam Blitz, in 1940 the German Luftwaffe carried out a devastating aerial bombardment, essentially raising the historic center of the Dutch city. 

You can see the Frostbite engine's impressive destructibility at play here as tanks rip through buildings and bombs drop from above. DICE is clearly a big fan of soldiers performing combat rolls after jumping out of windows, as this is the second trailer to showcase these animations for Battlefield V. I'm not sure why EA chose to use a cover of the classic folk ballad "House of the Rising Sun" for the trailer – the song is about New Orleans, after all – but then again I'm not sure why EA marketing makes most of its decisions.

At the 1:38 mark, the trailer transitions to show a closing circle of fire, which we presume is the border DICE plans to use for its version of battle royale. 

Battlefield V is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 19. You can read our hands-on impressions of the new Grand Operations mode here, and learn about the 12 biggest changes coming to the game here

Categories: Games

New Survival Sim Sends Resource-Gathering To The High Seas

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 14:00

The survival management subgenre generally isn't a cheery place. Recent sims like Frostpunk and This War of Mine drive that home, even with the most effective resource-gathering, some things are simply out of your control.

Flotsam, a new game from developer Pajama Llama, looks to be a lighter take on a still-dire situation. Set on a floating pile of trash, Flotsam tasks players with managing a floating village community as you recycle garbage into new structures, collect fish, and process drinkable water.

The game's colorful art style makes somewhat horrifying concepts – like fish wrapped in humanity's discarded trash – cuter than they have any right to be. 

Flotsam won't release until 2019, but the game aims to hit both PC and Mac.

 
Categories: Games

Real Stop-Motion Gets Gamified in Vokabulantis

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 19:12

Although games that use a stop-motion art style have been attempted before, they're exceptionally rare. Every minuscule detail of animation has to be posed and captured in real life and then somehow ported into an engine that can mesh those movements with player input. Harold Halibut is one such game, set to release in 2019. Today, we got a peek behind the curtain of another such title: Vokabulantis.

Blown away by Frej Bengtsson's game animations for WiredFly's stop-motion game VOKABULANTIS. Making-of here: https://t.co/dB7Cg8Prl1 pic.twitter.com/FL5Se5vZO2

— Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) August 14, 2018

Working through the Danish studio WiredFly, Vokabulantis is a puzzle game in which you control two friends that have been thrown into the "World of the Language," an eerie landscape full of imposing towers and deep shadows. A new video shows off the incredibly labor-intensive process of creating the characters, posing them, and then incorporating them into the game's world. 

Vokabulantis will be a PC release, with potential console port later down the line. No release information is available yet. 

Categories: Games

Five Big Changes Coming To NBA 2K19's MyTeam

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 16:00

Card collection modes are one of the most visited destinations across sports games, and it's no different for NBA 2K. The thrill of building a super team out of cards you either earn or purchase has proven strong over the last decade. For NBA 2K19, Visual Concepts has some big changes in store. Here are the most notable new features coming to the game. 

MyTeam Unlimited

To spruce up MyTeam, Visual Concept is retiring modes from past games like Pack & Playoffs and SuperMax. One of the new features filling that vacated space is MyTeam Unlimited. Basically, this mode lets you take your 13 best cards to form a super team to compete online in a seasons style format to borrow parlance from the Madden and FIFA games. 

Each season, you play a block of 12 games with the goal of winning as many games as possible. Lose three games, and you have to start from scratch. Rewards scale upward based on how many wins you can accrue before hitting that daunting third loss. Win all 12, and you can look forward to receiving a Player of the Month card. If you can collect all the POTM cards, you will receive a Galaxy Opal Isiah Thomas card, with Galaxy Opal being the new rarest and most powerful type of card available.

Triple Threat 3v3 Modes

Full squad basketball isn't going anywhere, but given the popularity of 3v3 match-ups in the Neighborhood, Visual Concepts Wants to bring this to MyTeam in the form of Triple Threat, a new mode-within-the mode that features both single-player and competitive components. For the single-player gauntlet, you need to take down all 30 NBA teams. Every time you clean house on an NBA division, you earn one of the new Reward Tokens for use in a special marketplace. After you reign over every NBA team, it opens up a new competition where you have to beat teams featuring the best three players from that franchise. This section of the mode offers a wider variety of prizes.

Online, after each game you play you return to the new prize drop interface, where you drop a ball down a peg board to see what reward you get. If you manage to win 10 games before losing three, you get to drop five balls and collect five prizes. Once you rack up that third L, you start from square one. 

New Heat-Check Cards

New to MyTeam for NBA 2K19, Heat Check cards look and operate exactly like a base collection card – unless, that is, the player goes on a tear in real life. For instance, if the Greek Freak goes off for 40 points for the Bucks in real life, his Heat Check card will get activated, giving it a 48-hour ratings boost. The level of boost depends on how good of a game the player had. 

Steadier Content Drops

Visual Concepts realizes they had too many content lulls in the schedule last year, and it took too long to start dropping the upper echelon cards. For NBA 2K19, they want to avoid that with a better content cadence that includes five new single-player challenges every week, new multiplayer challenges every week, the return of Moments challenges, daily trials, and a more reliable stream of Locker Codes. 

To drive more interest in the high-end market, you can expect to see Amethysts from day one. Some Diamonds and Pink Diamonds are also going to drop in September. 

A Revamped Interface

For NBA 2K19, Visual Concepts has given MyTeam a dramatic overhaul. You can expect a new packet market, new auction house, redesigned landing page, redesigned collections menu, a new pack opening/card reveal animation, new edit lineups menu, a new card glossary that teaches you about the nuances of each card type, and a notifications system.

To read about more changes coming to MyTeam in NBA 2K19, including throwback collections, the NBA 2K 20th anniversary collection, the return of collector levels, and to get your very first MyTeam Locker Code for NBA 2K19, head to the official blog.

Categories: Games

Phantom Doctrine Launch Trailer Shows Gameplay Systems And Cold War Style

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 21:40

Phantom Doctrine, fittingly enough, really snuck up on us. The turn-based strategy game has complex stealth systems, base management, and a good helping of cold war flair. In a recent New Gameplay Today, we did our best to play the game while simultaneously explaining its mechanics – a task that proved very difficult

Thankfully, developer CreativeForge games just released a launch trailer that does all those things quite efficiently. It features the game's fashion options, sneaky knock-outs, and international intrigue, all set to stylish music.

The game is out now on PS4 and PC, with an Xbox One release on August 24. 

 

Categories: Games

New Fallout 76 Teaser Previews The Benefits And Horrors Of Teamwork

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 17:30

Bethesda's Fallout previews, with an old-timey narrator and simple animations, are often both adorable and disturbing. The studio's newest trailer for Fallout 76 exhibits both those traits, and shows off several potential situations for multiplayer parties to get themselves embroiled in.

Earlier this week, Bethesda dropped some details on how players would battle each other, but this sneak peek is focused squarely on tenuous cooperation. Though not gameplay footage, the video shows teams of vault-dwellers doing things that will most likely exist in-game. 

The activities shown include:

  • Battling monsters together (potentially using a team-based V.A.T.S system?)
  • Fending off hordes with automated defenses 
  • Eating and drinking together
  • Accidentally triggering traps
  • Taking your dead friends' loot once you accidentally triggered the traps
  • Getting into fights with rival squads of players

The dark comedy and colorful look of this preview cartoon are unmistakably Fallout; Bethesda is making serious efforts to let players know that, even with the massive changes, this will still be the absurd post-apocalypse they know and love. 

For more on Fallout 76, check out our breakdown of the new class system and our details of the beta

Categories: Games

Gris Turns The Personal Into Platforming

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 16:12

Hardship transforms people, and none more so than the protagonist of Nomada Studio's new title Gris. The Switch/PC title coming in December chronicles a young girl's journey through the pains of life, her emotional growth transforming her own abilities and the world around her.

The game's a platformer filled with puzzles and skill-based challenges, but according to the Barcelona-based developer, does not include "danger, frustration, or death." Regardless, the protagonist's journey is also reflected in her dress, which gifts new abilities to her that lets her explore new areas in the world.

Gris will be playable this month at Gamescom and PAX West, so we'll let you know more about the title if we get our hands on it.

Categories: Games

What To Expect From Doom Eternal's Campaign, Multiplayer, And More

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 17:15

A day after Doom Eternal's extensive gameplay reveal at QuakeCon, I sat down with id Software's Marty Stratton, who serves as the project's executive producer, and Hugo Martin, creative director, to talk about how the sequel will shake things up for the campaign, combat, multiplayer, and mod scene. Stratton and Martin wouldn't give away every secret, yet but did dive deep into what we can expect from certain aspects of this sequel.

Take me back to the conclusion of Doom. You finished it up and started thinking about the future. What was that aftermath like? What kind of discussions did you have?
Marty Stratton: It was quick. We started planning and pre-production right away. We had post-mortem discussions about what we did right and wrong and what we wanted to do better. There was a lot of research on reviews, YouTube, everything. We took it all in, and tried to figure out where to go from there.

Hugo started with the creative team right away; trying to figure out where we would go next.

Hugo Martin: We also hoped to get the chance to make another one, so the story arc started in 2016. We laid the groundwork for the sequel. There was a ton of work to be done across the board, but in that regard, it was about continuing what we started.

At that point you were showing the world what a new Doom could look like. Now you say you are creating an entire Doom universe. That screams of extensive plans. Can you discuss what we can expect from the Doom universe?
HM: We're so excited. It's what we always wanted. It just means [Doom Eternal] has depth and a lot of substance. That's mostly it – that it's something that is worth your time.

MS: There's thought and depth behind every decision, visual, level, and weapon. We tried to build a lot of lore into the codex in Doom 2016. A portion of the audience dives into that. Some people don't even know it's there. We think people that do invest in it appreciate it. With Doom Eternal, we want to make sure it's within arm's reach if you want it. It's all there. There are answers to your burning questions.

A lot of people are affected by the game on a visceral level. They love killing the demons. None of that is changing. What is exciting for me are the conversations that happen around this stuff as we build it. They are so amazing and fun. The ideas and lore are thought through by really creative people. We haven't really put [the lore] out there where people can be a part of it. That's what I love about story games, stuff like Elder Scrolls. They put it out there where people can get it at varying levels. We want to bring people into that conversation a little bit more. We think what we have is exciting.

Is that lore mostly going to be off to the side in the codex again?
HM: It's not just lore or backstory. If you want to surf the main game, we have what we call the A story and B story. The A story is the main game, and what the average consumer is going to experience. The B story is context for everything, like who am I talking to, why did that guy interact with me in that way? The key thing when we say "universe" is we want to take the Doom player to places they've never been before. That serves the A story. It's not just about making juicy codex entries, it's about, as you saw with those locations, taking you to new places. As Marty said, Doom is about killing cool bad guys in amazing places with awesome guns. That's it. The amazing places part, and the cool demons part, and the awesome guns part fit into that stuff.

"The ballista is kind of an ancient looking weapon. Where does that come from? Do I get to go to that place?" We just want to make sure that Doom has some fantastic set pieces in it. We're swinging for the fences with this one. We're going to go to some cool places. Doom universe is just about making the game more awesome and fun.

Let's talk about the slayer himself. You guys gave him an upgrade...a few upgrades.
HM: It's the evolution of who he was in Doom 2016. He's still the same guy, but fictionally speaking, he is constantly modifying his armor. Many people call out: If he is this ancient warrior who has been in this eternal struggle between good and evil, why does his armor look modern? There's a good answer for that. He's changing his armor all of the time. He's upgrading it. Superheroes do it. That's a part of that genre. We think of him like a superhero. When he upgrades his stuff, he does it with efficiency in mind. From a gameplay perspective, we always think of that first.

The blade in particular is something we thought a lot about. It's hard for us to glory kill enemies with [the slayer's] bare hands. Some of the demons are the size of elephants. We would talk about the glory kills, and [the development team] would be like "I can't do this." They would put the slayer's hands on the baron's face, and they would look like baby hands. We had to give him a tool. He always had to pull parts off of enemies, which he still does, but now he has a utensil to take out large enemies more efficiently. The first glory kill he does in the demo is faster than any in Doom 2016. [The blade] is faster, it can take out big enemies, it looks cool, and adds variety.

MS: We really tried to maintain the dance, flow, and feel of combat. Everything we've added is centered around that same dance, just giving you new moves to use on the dance floor. That was always important that it was the same dance. We want it to be a tight game loop where the player is thinking of what to do next. The flamethrower, I don't know how much it got noticed, but when you shoot a guy who is on fire, there's a benefit – you get armor shards. It works a little like the chainsaw. It isn't just cool looking, you get gains from it.

HM: Destructible demons are the same. Is [the destruction] all cosmetic only? No. Some of it can be strategic. For example, you can shoot off the gun turret on the Arachnotron. That's his primary attack, and it can be pretty devastating. If you have good aim, and you want to nerf his abilities – he still has other attacks, though – you can take out that gun. As long as something feels like it is promoting the player to be aggressive, it's Doom. All of these things, the doom blade, equipment launcher, it's about being aggressive.

The thing that surprised me the most about the gameplay you showed was how open the spaces were. Are most areas that large?

HM: If the race car gets faster then the race track has to get bigger. That's basically it. Our race car can do a lot of things now, so the track he's on has to be bigger. Talking about our traversal combos, when you double jump to a dash into a monkey bar swing use the meat hook and then wall climb, it makes the ambient spaces more dynamic. Having the tools in place as game designers allows for some really interesting moments, and that includes combat.

MS: The stuff happening around you in these levels is crazy; whether you're experiencing hell on earth on the edge of collapsed buildings or fighting under the BFG 10,000 on Phobos. We're not just taking you to new places. The experiences you're getting in places you've been, like the UAC, you've never seen before in a Doom game. We've really taken that next step. The worlds were great in 2016, but the level of s--- going on around was never at 10. The sky box was never at 10. This time around, when you look around, you're going to see you're in the middle of something big going on.

Can the meat hook latch onto anything?

MS: Just demons.

It has to be made of meat then?

MS: Yup. Exactly.

The meat hook is attached to the super shotgun. Does that mean you need to have that weapon equipped to use the hook?

MS: Yup. The way works is when you have the super shotgun out, you hit the mod button and it shoots it out.

You didn't go into multiplayer, SnapMap, or mods during your presentation. Can you talk to me about your plans for those things? Todd Howard took Escalation Studios, the team that made SnapMap.

MS: Todd takes everyone. (laughs)

I'll start with SnapMap. We decided to move away from it. We loved it and thought it was great, but it didn't scratch the itch we thought maybe it could for people. We touched on the Invasion stuff. That's a whole part of game we think people are going to have fun with. That was a high-level goal for [Doom Eternal]. We're also working on a PvP component. We'll talk about it later. It's also very Doom, as we like to say. It isn't a sidecar experience. We are doing that internally. We've taken all of that in.

HM: (whispers) It's awesome.

MS: [The multiplayer] is new and different. We're also planning for probably the thing that was most requested, which is post-campaign content that we create, not through something like SnapMap.

HM: The campaign, Invasion, PvP, it all feels like Doom this time. There isn't kind of a separation there where you're like "I kind of like the MP, but it doesn't feel like Doom." We were aware of that. We're making it internally now. We're excited about what we have.

Categories: Games

<p>We already know Fallout 76 will be

Sat, 08/11/2018 - 19:17

We already know Fallout 76 will be an online-oriented game, with a focus on inter-player interactions over branching dialogue trees with NPCs. But what does that mean when it comes to player-on-player confrontations? During today's Fallout 76 panel at Quakecon, project lead Jeff Gardiner, game director Todd Howard, and development director Chris Meyer gave us some elucidating details.

Since Fallout games have been mostly single-player affairs up to this point, multiplayer introduces some interesting problems. At the forefront of the team's mind was the question of how the world would deal with griefers - people who might wander the wasteland looking to ruin other people's games by relentlessly attacking them.

Howard's answer to this question was quick. "We turn ass***** into interesting content."

"We want this element of danger [in Fallout 76] without griefing," Howard said. After hitting level five, you'll begin to encounter other players as you explore the wasteland. One of the ways you can interact with them is to shoot them. Taking into the account the fact that players are likely going to shoot each other on the fly quite often (by accident or otherwise), early potshots won't deal much damage. But if one player is insistent on attacking another, that damage will begin to increase. You can, however, avoid accidental encounters completely by enabling a pacifist flag, which will prevent your bullets from harming other players.

If you do want to fight, the individual levels of each player will matter, but not as much as you might think. Players who've played for a while will obviously be stronger, but that doesn't mean lower-level players are entirely powerless. The power curve is more normalized in PvP than in PvE, making PvP encounters a bit more fair. "The guy in Power Armor with a minigun is obviously going to be harder [to kill], but if you get the drop on him with a knife, it does kind of work," Howard said. 

How the defending player chooses to respond is up to them. If they reciprocate the attack, each player offers a cap reward based on their level, making it tempting to land a kill. VATS returns in Fallout 76, though it's been altered to accommodate the new online nature of the game. Targeting takes place in real time, and you can't target individual body parts at first. Instead you can target the whole body, with a hit chance based on your Perception attribute. You can also use VATS to find sneakier players. Early on VATS may not be as effective as simply shooting your opponent, but invest in Perception and that will likely change.

If you lose a scuffle and die, you'll not only drop your cap reward, but also any junk you might have had on you at the time. Junk is accumulated by searching the world and isn't worthless, either; you need it to build up your camps or craft armor, among other things.

The team didn't want to make death too punitive, but they wanted it to mean something, leading to a system where you do lose something when you die, but it's also not an all-or-nothing affair. So whenever a player encounters what they think might be a tough area or player, they may want to think twice about how much junk they're holding and whether to engage. To circumvent losing junk, you can store it in various stashes hidden around the world, any base camp you might have built up, or in Vault 76.

If someone does end up murdering you, have a chance to get revenge. Once you return to life, you'll be given the chance to seek out that specific player and retaliate. If you manage to win that round, the game will give you double the normal reward for killing them.

But perhaps the most interesting mechanic arises when one player doesn't want to fight. A player who kills someone who didn't fight back becomes a wanted murderer. There's no reward for murdering someone who doesn't fight back other than the brief satisfaction it might give a jerk, and the cost is high; being a wanted murderer marks that player on the map of everyone around them as a red star. That player also carries a new bounty that comes out of their own caps, incentivizing every other player in that instance of the world to kill them. Wanted players won't be able to spot anyone around them on their map, making it difficult for them to see attacking players coming.

Players also have camps they've built to worry about, but losing them won't be as heartbreaking as you might expect. Nukes are a big part of the Fallout experience according to Bethesda, and while getting your carefully-built camp nuked might sting, you can choose to "blueprint" individual structures, letting you recreate them entirely with a simple button press. Of course, you can also use this feature to quickly relocate your camps as well.

Communication is a major part of online games, and Fallout 76 is no different. Along with voice chat for players you join up with, you can also choose to toggle voice chat for nearby strangers on or off, letting you hear them coming or simply make it easier to create ad-hoc roving bands of survivors.

Hopefully, with these various methods of inter-player violence and communication, Fallout 76's decision to foregone bespoke storytelling for more lively player-told stories will pay off.

For more on Fallout 76, check out our write-up on its character progression and creation, as well as how mutations alter your character.

Categories: Games

<img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod

Sat, 08/11/2018 - 18:33

Although we have a general overview of what Fallout 76 is going to be (an online action-RPG where players replace NPCs and become the vehicle for storytelling), it was hard to get a good idea of how we'd be interacting with our characters over the course of several hours. Earlier today at a Fallout 76 panel for Quakecon, Bethesda revealed how character progression, character creations, and mutations work in their new game.

The best way to think about progression in Fallout 76 is by visualizing your character as a deck of Magic: The Gathering-style trading cards that gets stronger as you level. Starting out, you'll have one point invested into each of the seven attributes that make up Fallout's S.P.E.C.I.AL. system. Every perk has a point cost associated with it. An early perk called Gladiator, for example, offers a 10-percent boost to melee damage and costs one point in the Strength attribute to equip. 

You can equip as many perks (which take the form of cards) as you want, provided you have enough points in that attribute to accommodate them. You can also combine copies of the same card into stronger versions of that card, which increase the potency of the card but also its cost. Cards can drop or be fused into each other up to a point cost of five. Bethesda pointed out during the panel that there are "hundreds" of perk cards to experiment with.

Tying into the trading card idea are card packs. When you level up, you can add one additional point into any attribute to let you expand which perk cards you can equip, and you will be able to choose one new perk, but every few levels (every two levels early on, then every five levels), you'll receive card packs, which will give you several cards to experiment with (as well as a joke and chewing gum that will temporarily reduce your hunger when you eat it). Because you start off with one point in every attribute, this allows you to experiment with perks you might otherwise ignore in favor of leveling one specific attribute. Some cool perk cards may drop that cost more points than you might have in a particular attribute, which incentive players to rethink their progression in order to equip a perk outside their expertise. 

Once you reach level 50, you will no longer be able to invest additional points into any attribute, but you will still regularly receive perk cards, which will let you further customize your character.

As you explore the wasteland of West Virginia and level up, you'll likely wind up in some irradiated areas. If you happen to accumulate too many RADs, you'll become susceptible to mutations, which will alter your properties for both better and worse. One mutation Bethesda shared was one that turned the player into a marsupial, increase their jump height dramatically at the cost of reducing your carry potential and strength.

One important aspect of this new system is that, like trading cards you can swap them out any time depending on the situation. There's no cost for swapping out perks, so if you see a combat situation on the horizon, you may want to respec if you've been running a lockpicking "deck" while breaking into people's homes. Of course, with Fallout 76 being a live game, you'll want to swap cards out in safe spot.

The online, multiplayer focus of Fallout 76 may not seem to jive with the Charsima attribute, which in past games was where you could invest points and become a smooth-talking negotiator with NPCs. In Fallout 76, Charisma has been retooled to work as the sort of co-op attribute, allowing players to equip perks that benefit their entire team. Some Charisma perks are oriented towards solo players, but most will emphasize teamwork.

Another social aspect players can expect in Fallout 76 lies in character creation. Character creation is mostly similar to Fallout 4's with a close-up camera of your character within the world. However, this time you also create a snapshot of yourself, using different expressions and poses. You can also use these out in the world, where you can take a selfie at any time. As players take selfies in the world, it'll become populated with curated photos from the community, giving the map a more populated feel.

For more on Fallout 76, check out some of the details on the upcoming beta, your progress in which will carry over to the full game.

Categories: Games

The Walking Dead: The Final Season's Launch Trailer Looks Back At The Start Of The Journey

Sat, 08/11/2018 - 00:05

The Walking Dead: The Final Season is out in just a few days, which means the shambling corpses are heading right for you.

Clementine can never forget the lessons Lee taught her about surviving and now she acts as the guardian for AJ as Lee did for her. Check out the trailer below.

The Walking Dead: The Final Season's first episode releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on August 14.

Categories: Games

The Quiet Man Is Three Hours Long And Utterly Nuts In This New Footage

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 21:10

One of the most bizarre announcements at Square Enix's E3 conference was The Quiet Man. In a trailer that blended live action with a few seconds of punching-filled gameplay, the game posed about four thousand questions and answered none of them. But in a surprise reveal, Square Enix showed off more than 40 minutes of the game and blew our cumulative minds. 

The Quiet Man is being developed by Human Head studios, who are best known for 2006's Prey. It looks absolutely absurd. Here's some details we picked up from the demo and producer Kensei Fujinaga's commentary.

Length

The game is roughly three hours long. 

"However you look at it, it will never be an opulent and ornate treasure box, sparking with all the colors of the rainbow," Fujinaga says. "However, if this tiny, tiny stone that represents a frankly disproportionate level of challenge and experimentation from my modest team, can shine brightly like a diamond in the hearts of our players out there, I would safely say that there could be no greater joy for us than that."

It will be priced lower than a full retail release.

Story

The narrative will follow Dane, a deaf young man who's attempting to find a kidnapped dancer. As implied in the reveal trailer, The Quiet Man mixes its gameplay with live-action cutscenes. In one scene, the screen turned blue and an FMV face covered some of the punching action.

Also, a gangster killed Dane's mom. This presumably fits into the story somehow. Most of the characters shown seem to be a Japanese interpretation of America's criminal underbelly, replete with racial stereotypes and over-the-top costuming. 

Gameplay

In deadly silence, Dane martial-arts his way through several rooms of goons. Much of the combat seems to center on finishing moves that defy all laws of physics, such as flipping a dude 180 degrees before punching him in the mouth. In one scene, he seems to die, only to wake up to a real-life woman smiling at him. The checkpoint then reloads; it's incredibly jarring. 

Sections of the game also place Dane in slower situations in which he walks around an environment and looks at objects. 

The Quiet Man's appears to be following in the footsteps of Deadly Premonition; relentlessly weird and more than a little janky, but with an absolutely sincere charm. Although Dane's haircut looks like it wants to speak to a manager and the story embraces the most offputting parts of Quantum Break, the game has all the makings of a true cult classic.

It's currently in development for PS4 and PC.

[Source: Destructoid] 

Categories: Games

Doom Eternal First Look: A Bigger, Badder, Bloodier Demon Fest

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 19:45

Id Software’s new vision for Doom debuted at QuakeCon in 2014. As imps and demons were torn to shreds with bullets and chainsaws, the crowd roared in approval, and clearly wanted to see more.

Flash forward four years, and the bloodthirsty cry for more was answered: id once again gave QuakeCon attendees the first look at Doom Eternal, the next chapter in the studio's flagship series.

Id's Marty Stratton and Hugo Martin took to the stage with heavy metal blaring as loudly as the crowd's screams. Stratton was taken aback by the crowd's enthusiasm, giving them a, "F--- yeah. You guys are unbelievable. It's awesome to be back here."

The Doom Eternal presentation began with concept art that showed the Doom slayer’s new look, which includes armor tweaks and new tools. Stratton said id's focus was making this interpretation of the slayer the most powerful hero the studio has ever created.

As you can see, the slayer boasts modified armor with extendable blade, spikes on the gloves, an over-the-shoulder attachment (which can equip flamethrowers, missiles, and grenade launchers), and just as much green as he's always worn. His boots also grant him the ability to perform a new omnidirectional dash maneuver to give him a little burst of speed when he needs it.

While he looks like a formidable killing machine with nothing in his hands, id has developed plenty of new and updated weapons for him to wield. The return of the Super Shotgun was greeted with a cheer, which now has a Meat Hook below its barrels. The Meat Hook isn't just used to stab enemies in the face; it functions like a grapple that allows players to latch onto something at a great distance and pull the slayer closer to it. The momentum of that pull can propel him in different directions, allowing for vast amounts of space to be gained in the air.

Other new armaments include a handheld ballista, a redesigned rocket launcher, a plasma rifle, and something called the Crucible Sword. What will the Doom slayer use them against? Martin says this sequel boasts twice as many enemies as the previous game. Along with a host of demons we've never seen before, id is bringing back the Pain Elemental, Arachnotron, and Archvile, to name a few. One of the new beasts is named the Marauder, and Martin teased that he looks like the Doom slayer for a reason. The level of detail in each of these creatures is impressive, as are their death animations, which now unfold through new technology id calls "Destructible Demons." In a series of stills, we could see how taking bullets incrementally affects a demon's limbs, skin, and organs.

 

The new gameplay demo begins on a familiar note: With the slayer putting on his helmet. We then see him test out his blade by extending it for a second before retracting it. As he moves forward, it becomes quickly apparent we aren't in hell anymore. The fires are now on Earth tearing apart one of its cities. Skyscrapers lay in ruin, and demons are everywhere, even descending from the skies.

The first few minutes of action play out like a greatest hits reel from the previous game, showing the slayer unloading clips into slow-moving demons, and periodically rushing in to decapitate one or feed it its own heart as a meal. The fluidity of play is impressive, holding true to the 60 frames per second that id achieved in the original. The environment is wide open and vertical, allowing for the Meat Hook to be used to reach higher areas and stretch across fiery pits. We even see the slayer launch into the air, grab onto a yellow pipe for a split-second, and swing to another area. The gunplay seems rote at this point, but the slayer's range of mobility impresses, and he can even make new paths for himself by punching through walls or scurrying up them with his new gloves.

While the gunplay looks fun, the most interesting elements that occur during it are the little things, like the periodic flamethrower burst from his shoulder attachment, which stuns a couple of enemies, allowing for ammo to be sprayed at them safely. The glory kills are as violent as always, but none of the executions were radically different than stuff we saw in the last game. Heads go flying, bodies are split in two in a variety of ways, and a stern punch can splatter brains. The most interesting glory kills incorporated the slayer's new blade, which in one instance doubled as a skewer for a heart. You also don't seem to be rewarded with as much ammo or health for performing glory kills; the only pinata like effect we saw happened when the slayer ripped through an enemy with his chainsaw.

As fast-paced as the action was, id revealed that it was being played on a controller, and then showed what that same area and combat could look like when turned up a notch while being played on a keyboard and mouse. The heavy metal intensified and the bodies hit the floor at an almost hilarious speed.

 

This second playthrough also teased something new in an "Invasion" alert that appeared on the screen. Invasions allow you to enter another player's game as a demon. You can even invite a few of your friends to enter someone else's game together as a slayer hunting party.

Stratton said that the game won't just be set on Earth and Hell, and teased much more. "We're not just making a Doom game anymore. We're making a Doom universe," he said. One of these new destinations is Phobos, a technologically advanced place that houses a giant skyscraper-sized version of the BFG called the BFG 10,000.

When the slayer arrives on Phobos, the people running the station are in awe of him. They back away, murmuring how he shouldn't be there, and one guy is so speechless that he doesn't say anything when the slayer grabs the red keycard from around his neck and drags him in his wheeled chair to open a door. The slayer also silently takes a weapon out of the hands of a soldier. He apparently has quite the reputation here.

The Phobos area delivered more of the frenzied combat Doom is known for. The demonstration ends with a tease of a boss battle and the promise of a new weapon being used to tear this foe wide open – the Crucible Blade.

Doom Eternal doesn't have a release date or window yet, but is in development for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. Let's hope this means the Switch version will launch alongside the others this time.

The crowd at QuakeCon ate up the violence again, but the cheers weren't as loud as in 2014. The shock factor just isn't there: id isn't reinventing the formula again. The roar of approval had more of a tone of "I can't wait to get my hands bloody in this world again,” and that's exactly what id is inviting players to do.

You can check out the extensive footage in the video below starting at 1:10:56.

 

Categories: Games

Frantic New Rage 2 Gameplay Emerges From QuakeCon

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 17:53

During today's QuakeCon 2018 keynote, Avalanche and Bethesda showed off fresh gameplay for the upcoming first-person shooter Rage 2.

Set 30 years after the events of the first game, Earth is beginning to return to its previous state, springing back to life after the cataclysmic events that preceded the initial title. While the weapons, abilities, and wingsticks steal the show in the new gameplay trailer, we also get a look at the new Goon Squad faction, as well as our first glimpse of an intense convoy takedown. You can see the new gameplay for yourself below.

Rage 2 launches PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in spring 2019. For our recent hands-on impressions of Rage 2 from E3, watch our discussion here.

Categories: Games

How Lara Croft Has Evolved In Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 14:02

Jill Murray is new to the Tomb Raider series. She previously worked on games like Moon Hunters, Lawbreakers, and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. But now that Murray is lead writer on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the process of designing a world-spanning adventure feels different.

“Well, first of all, only this game has Lara Croft. Obviously, it’s a huge honor to work on a character with such a lengthy history that spans decades,” Murray says. “She is so strong. She can handle a lot of challenge. With this game, sometimes unwittingly, she becomes her own worst enemy because she is so strong. Our antagonist in this game is a really interesting person, but in a way it's unnecessary to challenge Lara Croft, because Lara Croft is going to create her own challenges by always going so hard and obsessively and stubbornly on everything.”

At the same time, a lot of Lara’s strength has been earned. As fans of the series know, the last two Tomb Raider games put Lara Croft through the ringer. The internet is full of videos of the many ways Lara can meet a grizzly demise, but Murray hopes to flip that narrative in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While there will still be several opportunities for Lara to reach an untimely end in Shadow, she also won’t get beat up as much over the course of this new campaign. This change represents how Lara has grown and evolved since the series reboot back in 2013. Lara Croft has gone through a baptism of fire and become a capable survivor/hunter.

“In the previous games, Lara was constantly falling because that was the only way we had, at the time, to go down,” says Murray. “So we had to have her fall because there were no mechanics to go down. Now we have a rappel system, we have underwater sequences where she can go down, and all these elements going down, so things are much more elegant and she's much more self-controlled. She's much more mobile with the world, but she's still doing these crazy things.”

Shadow of the Tomb Raider has no shortage of crazy moments. Our previous tastes of the action have seen Lara swing off the sides of cliff walls, crawling through collapsing tunnels, and falling out of the sky after a plane breaks in half. We’re happy to see how the character has evolved into a more capable hero, but we’re confident that she won’t make it through this next adventure without a few bruises. Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches on September 14 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

 

For more on Shadow of the Tomb Raider be sure to read about Eidos Montreal’s insanely clever difficulty system or watch us play nearly 30 minutes of the final build.

Categories: Games

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