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Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

Putting Together A Good Run

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 20:00

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Publisher: Easy Day Studios Developer: Easy Day Studios Release: July 7, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

A skateboarding game needs to be as simple as, “See rail; do trick on rail.” Boiling everything down to this essence, however, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Controls, objectives, and the other structures we rely on as gamers can get in the way, even if they’re necessary. Skater XL from Easy Day Studios is trying to bridge the gap, letting players pull off the tricks they dream up without being hampered by its own controls. We’ve been watching the game’s progress through development, and with its July release on the horizon and a recent update to its public beta, it looks like its freeform philosophy is intact and guiding the game well.

We looked at the new Easy Day Academy, which is both an introduction to the world (including tutorials) as well as a great level. It’s a sprawling campus containing the greatest hits of southern California school design – or at least as we imagine it as skaters. Concrete banks, benches, planters, rails, bike racks, and stairs are all in abundance, and the spawn-drop tool is handy if you want to explore a spot more out-of-reach, like the top of the school. 

Skater XL’s downtown L.A. environment contains its own runs and possibilities, from the plazas around the Staples Center to the possibilities of Koreatown. Overall, downtown’s skateable objects are more compact than the academy, representing a more real-world street skating geography. At the time of this writing, Easy Day hinted at as-yet-unannounced locations which represent different aspects of skating beyond just street, so perhaps we’ll see the inclusion of plywood or concrete pool parks.

Although these areas are not physically linked to each other, each one includes challenges and objectives that serve as nominal guides, showing off cool lines and some of what the environment has to offer. Nevertheless, all of the locations are unlocked from the beginning.

Easy Day has continued to layer on more tricks as well as new structures to do them on. Powerslides and reverts were added this year, and mini-ramps and vert will be included. The team has also added coping grinds – seamless grinds you transition to on a ramp without having to ollie.

The latter is an example of how the game’s tricks, animations, and level design come together to create skating that flows together. Although the controls (each foot is represented by an analog stick) seem daunting at first, the game is not as strict about its trick execution as Skate (where a trick demands a specific series of inputs), but controlling your legs and manipulating your board isn’t physics run amok. Speaking of which, your skater’s overall body seems to have more weight compared to earlier demos. This makes your body less bouncy when biffing on a rail, for instance.

The game has also made strides in its customization options. First and foremost, real-life skaters Tiago Lemos, Brandon Westgate, Tom Asta, and Evan Smith are playable (with more possible in the future), and they come with a few of their actual product sponsorships. While some of their real-life gear is locked to them, other gear can be used by any skater. At the time of this writing, Easy Day says it has a large roster of skate brands, including DC shoes, Element, Primitive, Blind, Independent, and many more, and overall you can select your skater’s gender, hair style, outfits, grip tape, wheels, skin tone, and more.

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The pre-release modding community has taken skater customization into its own hands with a number of fan-made creations, but whether the final release actually uses mods (which is complicated on home consoles) remains an open question. So far, modders have greatly expanded the game by creating their own skate spots, among many other additions, so getting some percentage of the current 15,000-plus mods in the final product would be a big win.

The crucial question of mods is underscored by the fact that currently the game’s online multiplayer is possible thanks to a mod. Easy Day has been in contact with its creators, and it may use the mod for multiplayer until Easy Day implements its own offering at a later date. For the game as a whole, the studio is weighing several post-release plans, and stresses that it wants to add free content first, before the possibility of paid packs.

Skaters make pulling off tricks look easy, but it’s not effortless, and making a skating game is a harder task still. Starting with an understandable and fluid control scheme, Easy Day has surrounded its core gameplay with level designs filled with trick possibilities and customization elements to further augment players’ creativity. If the latter is infinitely boosted by mod support, Skater XL could be a canvas for untold possibilities. 

If you want to see how the game's coming along for yourself, you can check out the public beta on steam, which includes the transition grinds, a test miniramp, customization options, and more.

Categories: Games

Mortal Kombat Co-Creator Ed Boon Talks Aftermath's Story, RoboCop, Next Gen, And UFC's Fight Island

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 00:29

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: May 26, 2020 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

With the announcement of Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, players of the latest iteration of the classic fighting franchise have a lot to be excited for. Not only does the paid expansion bring players an all-new story and three new characters to add to their rosters (including RoboCop as played by original actor Peter Weller), but every Mortal Kombat 11 player gets new Friendship finishing moves and some classic stages to add into their rotation free of charge. 

With the biggest expansion the series has ever done coming next week, I caught up with series co-creator and Mortal Kombat 11 director Ed Boon to talk about the thinking behind this expansion and what fans can expect in the future from both Mortal Kombat and gaming in general.

Why did you decide that an expansion was the right route for Mortal Kombat 11 instead of waiting to continue the story by way of a sequel like we've seen in the past?
Ed Boon: 
At the end of the day, when we finished Mortal Kombat 11, we kind of left it like a, "Hey, this story's over," kind of thing. Our past few games we've had, we've always released what some people refer to as like a "Game of the Year Edition" that repackaged everything throughout the year in one package. With Mortal Kombat XL, we tried something new where we added four more characters like Alien, Predator, and some MK characters. And that was huge for us! That was an unexpected like, "Oh wow! That was really, really big!" So from that standpoint, our first reaction was, "Oh! Let's one-up that. Let's do that, and then some!" 

Story was the area that... a lot of our fans love that part of Mortal Kombat: the story mode, the narrative, and all that stuff. So that was kind of like, "Oh, let's do that! Let's just hit really hard with a great addition – almost like an epilogue – final conclusion to the story. And so our main thing was we really wanted to drop this crazy bomb of content on the player. As we had that discussion about the story, we saw there's more that we can tell for this, so we came up with a little bit of a Back to the Future Part II synopsis; you go back in time and you see the events of it, and then you're changing the course of history. It ended up very cool.

And this isn't the first time we've gone back in time, especially in this current trilogy starting with Mortal Kombat 9. Why make the decision to more or less take things back to square one once again?
Well, when you think about it, we kind of reached the end of time with MK 11. It's like reaching the virtual end of the universe... which I guess doesn't exist. But we were feeling like, if you drew a visual timeline, you'd see the dot at the end like, "Okay, I guess we've hit that." Then with the story jumping back to the beginning of time, it kind of made sense to – again, the Back to the Future approach. We wanted to continue with the same story; we didn't want to tell a new story, because it is still MK 11. It's kind of like reaching the Pacific Ocean as Forrest Gump and then turning around and then running back, kind of retracing his steps in some respects. Timeline-wise that just seemed like the way to go, and also for the player who's into MK 11, there's going to be a lot of cool nostalgia like, "Oh I remember where we are now!" 

Will the callbacks be limited to MK 11's story, or will we see moments from other Mortal Kombat games as well?
It's mainly the MK 11 stuff. There's other stuff that has happened that's referenced and has influence on it, but it's not like we go back to Deadly Alliance and see that.

Can you give me a sense of the scope of the story? How does it compare to the base MK 11 story?
It's not as big. It's five very thick chapters. Traditionally we'll have four fights in a chapter per character. This one, some have six. They're much thicker chapters and longer. We're really trying to focus mainly on these new characters: Fujin and Sheeva. RoboCop is not in the story in case you're asking! [Laughs] But this kind of reveals their role in MK 11's overall story.

What about this story is something players should look forward to that maybe we didn't get with the original MK 11 story?
To me, Shang Tsung, Cary Tagawa coming back voicing him – having him presented in a story mode again – I think a lot of people, they visualize Cary Tagawa as Shang Tsung from the 1995 movie as the Shang Tsung they remember. When you see that visual and you hear his voice and the nuance that he puts into it, there's something very special about that. 

Additionally, Fujin and Sheeva are characters that haven't really had as much of the spotlight over the years. Fujin in particular, he just showed up in Mortal Kombat 4 and Armageddon, but he never had a big starring role, so we really dig deep into his history and his relationship with his brother Raiden, and all of that stuff, so that's very cool. And then the added back and forth between Sindel and where eventually is she going to end? Is she good? Is she bad? We're really trying to tease that a lot as well. 

But for me, the Cary Tagawa as Shang Tsung and the constant expectation throughout the whole thing and suspense of "When is he going to turn on these people?" is very fun. [Laughs]

And obviously having Cary Tagawa back as Shang Tsung is awesome, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Peter Weller reprising his role as RoboCop in that same breath. I know he's not in the new story mode, but what was it like working with him?
A lot of us grew up watching '80s action movies, so there's something so cool about... when he actually came to our studio, I was like, "Oh my God! RoboCop is in our studio! This is the coolest thing ever!" Getting the original actor voice just lends that much more authenticity of it. It's a subtlety. I always think of RoboCop as the bookend to Terminator. There's a comic book made of RoboCop versus Terminator. So this is a bucket-list thing. We have these lists of people and we've been talking about RoboCop since MK 9. We've kept him on the list for the longest time and finally checked it off.

There are definite themes to your DLC guest characters: Mortal Kombat 9 was horror movies, Mortal Kombat X was sci-fi action, and now it seems like the theme with MK 11 is '80s action. Are there any other guest characters you'd be interested in adding?
Like I said, we literally have a list that we move people up and down on. Obviously, it's not just a matter of who do we want and then boom we get them. There's a ton of hoops you've got to jump through to make these things happen. But if you saw a really huge '80s or '90s movie, it's probably on our list!

When you're working with these third-party licensors, how do you make sure you're not crossing any lines when they get their heads blown off, or you're collaborating to make sure their movesets are as authentic as possible?
Well, the discussion of, "We don't want to see their head blown off" never happens. [Laughs] Like, just the prerequisite is, "These are the things we're going to be doing to your character," and if they sign up on there, it's kind of like there's no limits. As far as what the character does in fighting, we send them concepts all the time. We send them write ups, we send them literally the preliminary animation of what we motion captured and how it's going to feel and all that stuff. They have feedback they give us and there's a lot of back and forth, especially with these high-profile... you know, Terminator was a big one. RoboCop is a big one. Spawn was great because Todd McFarlane was just like, "Go crazy!" so there was no, "Oh we'll back off there." He was just like, "Just go crazy! I wanted to see this for so long" and he was just in celebration mode.

And I'm sure that some of these people who work for these movie properties in 2020 grew up as fans of Mortal Kombat.
Yeah, and when you think of, let's say, RoboCop: RoboCop was a long time ago, and so it's not like we're talking to the person who created RoboCop; we're talking to a person who was also a kid, and so they have the same level of, "Oh, this is going to be so cool!" You know, that's the conversation. It's not them saying, "Well, you have to make sure RocoCop never does this." That's not the theme of the conversation. It's more like, "Yes! And then we can also do this!" You know? They'll make suggestions. Nostalgia and childhood memories drive the majority of the conversations, and enthusiasm and excitement. Restrictions are the much more rare topic of discussion that we have.

Outside of RoboCop, Aftermath also adds Fujin and Sheeva. While you rightly point out that they have both been unsung in their roles in the MK stories, I think it's safe to say Fujin has been far less prominent. I think even in MK 4, it wasn't actually confirmed that he is Raiden's brother, only implied. Why was it so important to add him in particular?
I think over the years, we have about 80 Mortal Kombat characters in some capacity. The reason we added Fujin was because he hasn't been seen in a game in so long. Quite frankly, I think a decent number of players will be like, "Who's Fujin?" If we just did Mileena, Kitana, Jade, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Rain, you know, all these characters, I think it would get stale after a while. We do need to give characters a rest every once in a while. Then, when they do return, it's a big deal. It's a novelty, and so we're just kind of spreading it. Fujin was one of the things that our designers were like, "Hey, I think we could do something really cool with this character with wind and running on the wind and doing stuff with his sword." When the designers say they could make something really unique with gameplay, that weighs a lot in terms of a decision of who to bring back.

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Let's get into Friendships. We've seen a good chunk of the new Friendship moves being added to the game, but I'm curious what your favorites are.
The Noob Saibot one – it might have been the first one we did – just set the bar with just how stupid we're going to get with them in a good way. God, there's so many! Jax playing the saxophone is just genius... the Kung Lao with his toy trains is just so childish. It's just the opposite of a Fatality, which is so cool. Our Fatalities have gotten so over the top that it's like, "Let's go 180 degrees and go as far in that direction with these silly Friendships."

I've spoken with you and members of your team in the past about the process of designing Fatalities, but how does that process differ with Friendships? Is it similar where you draw them out and throw them up on a board to see what sticks? Do you still have the set number of beats you want to hit with each one? Or are the rules completely different?
The rules are very different. They don't have the same criteria of beats just like you said; we do talk about that with Fatal Blows and Fatalities. We go, "What are the beats? What are the big moments?" But this is just, "How silly can we get?" And they're usually themed around the character, like Fujin has wind abilities, so you think of a kite and you think of him flying a kite.

Noob Saibot is with friends, so all of a sudden that's the jump rope. The motion-capture talent that we have adds so much nuance to that. Some of the nuance you see when Noob Saibot was bouncing on his hands and doing stuff, it's not like we said to do this and then do that; he just went off and it turned out to be just gold. 

There's not as many meetings with Friendships as much as somebody would write up a paragraph, and we'd send it around and then the ones that kind of get us to say, "Oh, we've got to do that one!" Like the Kano barbecue and stuff like that, it's almost a given we would do that.

Were there any that were left on the cutting-room floor?
Yeah, there were a ton of them. Some of them were so big in production that we had to dial them down. And then some of them were not as funny or entertaining or too short or something. The Sub-Zero one went through a couple of iterations. I love where it ended up with the bicycle ice cream truck.

And in addition to the Friendships, which are free for all MK 11 players, everyone gets access to some returning classic stages and Stage Fatalities. How did you modernize these returning stages?
Right. The Stage Fatalities, the Friendships, and the new stages are all just a part of a free update. I remember in MK X, we brought back The Pit and it's cool to do a more modern representation of these classic environments that we've had over the years. It's always fun to reenvision them, and the environment team, the concept guys, they have field days because they have memories in their heads of what it was like to play, so it's like, "Let's add this nuance. Let's add that." So it's fun to see them going crazy with that.

And the Stage Fatalities are also modernized.
Yeah, that was almost like a prerequisite. Of course we're not going to just duplicate the exact events of the last one. We have to turn the knob up a bit.

It seems like with every Mortal Kombat or Injustice game, your team iterates on the gameplay and feature sets. With MK 11, it felt like you found a sweet spot for gameplay in particular. Do you view this as a perfect opportunity to treat Mortal Kombat 11 as a platform instead of just a game that exists and spawns a sequel? Does that play any role in your thinking of releasing an expansion of this magnitude?
I do think we have something that's solid. I've said this before, though: I do feel like there's room for further loosening of the reins. Ideally, I still would like to, and we are certainly still exploring, the notion of allowing the custom variations that players make to be used in competitive play. It's a huge balancing undertaking, but we are absolutely examining it. If I get my way, it'll be something that we're going to release in a future patch or something that will just give the player that much more freedom. We really just want to say, "Here's some more toys to play with. Come up with your favorite one!"

So I can't help but notice that earlier you mentioned a contentious word within the MK community: Mileena. Is there a Kombat Pack 2 coming after Aftermath? 
[Laughs] I can not confirm or deny anything that's after Aftermath.

On the topic of Mileena: Was that just a total troll job to put her as a guest in a Friendship?
No, the idea was just to be this kind of schoolgirl thing. And who else are we going to do that with Kitana? [Laughs]

Well are there any plans to continue to keep this game alive following Aftermath? 
Yeah, at that highest level, obviously we want to support the game for as long as players are with us, so to speak. I certainly would love to continue exploring that. Although, in what capacity is a much bigger conversation, like whether it's additional characters or new features, new modes, whatever. 

A still from last week's Unreal Engine 5 tech demo from Epic Games

Did you have a chance to watch Epic's Unreal Engine 5 tech demo last week?
Yes! I was riveted. It's so, so impressive. You almost question it. You almost go, "No, it can't be that." Like, and if that's the case, then they've done a great job, like, it's raised the bar so high. And you know, the timing of it – Unreal 5, PlayStation 5, this new generation – it's like the timing has been amazing as far as just from a marketing launch window. So that's great.

If what we're seeing and hearing about these capabilities is true, do you have any indication about what it would mean for players going forward?
One of the things I think people are underestimating is the impact that this theoretical no load time will have on games. A lot of games design things that some players might perceive as the boring part of the game, but it serves a function: loading. Now, the load time isn't zero, but if it goes from 10 seconds to half a second or one second, that's significant. I think that will allow people to do things that we, as in our understanding of moving data in and out of the game, when we remove that limitation that we've been kind of mentally thinking about for 15 or 20 years now, it's going to open the doors. I don't think we've seen a peek of the potential of what that's going to be.

Official "Fight Island" merchandise currently available on UFCStore.com

Let's end on this: I don't know if you've been watching the news surrounding the sports world, but the UFC has this private island they're planning on using to put on international fights during the pandemic. Obviously, one of the first parallels many people, including myself, drew was to Mortal Kombat. Have you heard of "Fight Island"?
I have, and I see how they came up with that parallel. [Laughs] I'm guessing that the words "Mortal Kombat" were uttered in their discussions about when they created that, as just "just like" or something like that. But it's exciting to think about it. I think of it as one of those examples of Mortal Kombat being in pop culture and affecting other mediums. So I think of it as a compliment to us.

So one of those situations of life imitating art?
Exactly. Well, and you know, when you think about it, Enter the Dragon, Bloodsport, they had a huge influence on Mortal Kombat, so it's all part of the ebb and flow of things.

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath launches on May 26. For more on what exactly the expansion adds, head to our in-depth coverage of the announcement. To see some of the oddball Friendships in action, head to our exclusive look here. For more on the history of the series' iconic Fatalities, head here.

Categories: Games

Can You Play Grounded If Spiders Make You Want to Die?

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 20:00

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Platform: Xbox One, PC

Spiders are one of those things that can conjure up strong reactions. For some people, just the sight of one of the eight-legged creatures is enough to cause a panicked exodus from the room. Others may be relatively fine with seeing a spider in real life, but freak out when they have to face a giant one in a game. Obsidian’s upcoming survival game, Grounded, has the potential of being the worst possible scenario for arachnophobes: not only are there spiders in the game’s backyard setting, but you’ve been shrunken down to a scale where they can fill your entire field of view. Rather than shrug and move on, the team decided to do something for players who just can’t deal with spiders. 

Grounded technical director Jerrick Flores says the team had an inkling of an idea that spiders could be a problem while they were working on the game, but they didn’t initially appreciate by how much. “Those concerns that we had really came to a head when we released the initial trailer for the game, and there was a spider reveal toward the end,” he says. “We watched a lot of trailer-reaction videos, because as someone working on the game you’re really interested in how people respond to your game. It was kind of interesting but also concerning that when that spider reveal happened, there were a number of people who in the reaction videos they had all this interest in the game but when that came up, all that interest just completely evaporated. They’d say things like, ‘I can’t play this game.’ It’s not like ‘I won’t,’ but ‘I can’t.’” 

Programmer Brian MacIntosh empathized with those sentiments. “I wouldn’t say that anyone on the team is phobic, but some of us maybe avoid that dungeon in Skyrim with the giant spider – we just didn’t go there,” he says. “That started us talking about how it’s actually a phobia that people have, and I’ve seen people complain about it on our forums occasionally, like, ‘could you guys replace the spiders, because I can’t play this game because I’m really afraid of them?’ I started thinking, ‘This is a thing we can do.’"

What did they do? Obsidian created a special arachnophobia mode for Grounded, which can be accessed in the game’s options menu. When toggled, spiders are rendered differently, as a way of making the creatures less, well, spidery for people who have an aversion toward the creatures. It’s still very much a work in progress, but its current implementation has the models replaced with large orange orbs. It’s a strange abstraction, especially when put up visually against the other bugs that are prominently featured in the game, but Obsidian is hoping that it will allow arachnophobes to play with everyone else. It’s activated client-side, meaning that in multiplayer sessions only those who want to see spiders that way will; everyone else gets the critters in all their glory.

MacIntosh says that developing the abstraction has been an iterative process, thanks in part to the studio’s collaboration with Microsoft User Research Lab. “We want to try to see how little we can change the spider, like how little we can take away to fix that problem, but have it still be a big, scary creature. We’re putting together different samples of different alternative looks, and they’re going to test it to see which ones elicit the phobia response.” He says part of the problem is that different people are triggered by different things. Their research contact, Blake Pellman, told him that it wasn’t the legs or the eyes that activated the phobic response – “As long as there’s enough evidence for them to say, ‘That’s a spider,’ that seems to be what triggers it,” MacIntosh says.

Spiders are a big part of Grounded – there’s a reason they were the big reveal in the trailer, after all. They’re one of the yard’s apex predators, and game director Adam Brennecke says there’s a lot of gameplay that’s connected to the creatures, such as combat and the gear that players can craft from their various parts. There’s also the issue of sound. “The clickety-clack sounds, even though spiders don’t really make that sound, it’s something that we just think of a spider; it’s clicking and clacking around the yard. That’s another thing we’re looking at.”

Incorporating these optional changes has been a fair bit of work, but the team sees it as effort well spent. “In a game like Skyrim, you can avoid spiders – you just go somewhere else,” Brennecke says. “In our game, you can’t avoid them. It’s so hard to avoid a spider in the game. I think that’s where, as a developer, I draw the line. Why don’t we try to do it to make sure that as many people can play the game as possible? That’s ultimately what we want as developers, people playing the game.”

Grounded is coming to Xbox One and PC via Game Preview and early access on July 28, whether or not you use arachnophobia mode.

Categories: Games

Means Of Survival

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 20:02

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Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Naughty Dog Release: June 19, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

The latest in-depth video for The Last of Us Part II, courtesy of developer Naughty Dog, goes through some of the title's survival gameplay and the philosophies behind it. Ellie is going to have her hands full, but she's also not going down without a fight.

The video covers a lot of ground, from some of the physical actions Ellie can perform, as well as combat, the layout of the environment, crafting, and upgrading Ellie's abilities.

For more in this series, check out this previous video where the studio discusses its approach to the game's story.

The Last of Us Part II Platform: PlayStation 4 Release Date: June 19, 2020 Purchase
Categories: Games

The Life Of The Samurai

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 22:13

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Release: July 17, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

Sucker Punch's recent 18-minute presentation on Ghost of Tsushima revealed a lot, particularly aspects of the game's combat and environment. The footage also gave rise to questions about Jin's defense of the island of Tsushima against Mongol invaders.

We talked to director Nate Fox, diving into more facets of the game, from Jin's progression as a warrior to some of its secrets.

The Ghost Warrior

Honor is a big part of the samurai trope, but principle alone isn't going to defend the island. During the presentation, Fox referred to Jin's stealth combat moves as "dishonorable," consisting of "dirty tricks." However, deception and stealth assassinations are not forbidden, but additional tools the player can use as they see fit, depending on how they want to approach a situation.

"Our hero is a samurai brought up in the code of the samurai, trained to fight enemies by looking at them straight on," Fox says. "And then the Mongols invade, and all of his fellow samurai, most of them, all get wiped out. Now he's finding himself radically outnumbered by the enemy, and the people that he loves are all threatened. So we have to let go of some of the things that he was trained to do throughout his entire life, in order to figure out new ways to fight back."

As the game progresses and Jin's legendary status increases through the completion of mission objectives, layering on more stealthy attacks (from dagger throws to smoke bombs and well beyond) to his already honed sword skills, which also continue to grow. How you build out Jin's skill tree and utilize his combat skills is entirely up to you, and the tree also unlocks non-combat aspects such as being able to use a grappling hook to aid traversal. Furthermore, some combat skills can be learned and adapted from enemies themselves, and charms and different armor pieces also contribute to his prowess by providing stat bumps.

One of the combat techniques Jin can use is the standoff command. This is pure samurai style, skill, and bravado. You stride up to your enemies, intimidating them before you even draw your sword. Standoffs are about precise, minimal movements, and the gameplay and controls around standoffs are different than normal swordplay. As effective, fun, and dramatic as these can be – enabling you to take out multiple enemies in a single flurry – Sucker Punch doesn't want them to be overpowered. Once regular melee starts, standoffs can't be initiated.

In general, the enemy A.I. attempts to coordinate its attacks, utilizing not only their numeric advantage, but their technological one as well – including gunpowder. "If you think that you can roll up and sword fight an entire camp," Fox says, "you will die."

An Island Alive

Jin's quest to rid the island of invaders naturally takes him far and wide (Fox notes that if you can see a location you can go to it), and exploration is just as big a part of the game as putting Mongols to the sword.

Apart from some areas gated off for story reasons, Tsushima is open for investigation. This can reveal side quests and resources, and like other accomplished open-world titles, Jin can engage in random encounters to further flesh out the experience. The game runs on a dynamic day, night, and weather system, and animals and encounters follow their own routines so they aren't locked into a time and place, giving a natural flow to events.

"Along the way," Fox says, "particularly as you go out there and explore Tsushima, you're going to meet all of these different people who are struggling to survive in this wartime environment. And all of those stories bring the invasion to life..."

Surprises of Tsushima

Discovery is a key part of Ghost of Tsushima, and accordingly, there were things that Fox wouldn't tell us, preferring to leave them as surprises. In the distance, during the presentation, we noticed a harbor with some boats docked and floating in a bay and one mission tasks Jin with destroying a Mongol vessel. Fox wouldn't reveal, however, if we ever get to take control of a ship during our adventure, so hopefully that's an indirect way of saying yes.

As far as combat goes, more secrets remain, such as a particularly tantalizing stealth combat action prompt called "slaughter." This option (as well as the ability to perform chain assassinations) appeared when Jin sneaks up on some unaware enemies in a camp. Kills add to a meter at the bottom-left of the screen, seemingly culminating in an action performed by hitting L1 and R1 simultaneously. Whatever this unleashes, Fox would only say, "There are moves that the hero can do that are really pretty neat that you find by exploring the world of Tsushima."

Finally, in one of the presentation's many bucolic moments, Jin peacefully plays a flute. Does this lead to something else, or is it simply for player enjoyment? Fox told us that it has a "specific role" in the game.

The Way of The Samurai

The story of Ghost of Tsushima is based on real events, but not bound by them – the defense of the island in 1274 was a failure. Still, the game is centered on the island and Jin's actions as a samurai, rather than supernatural stakes. You won't fight monsters or dragons, for instance.

Instead, the game leans into our perception of samurai through movies and pop culture, using the films of Akira Kurosawa such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo and comics, as inspiration.

"Everything was selected because it was another prop into the fundamental identity of being a samurai, right down to the foliage moving with the wind so heavily," Fox says. "We did that early on because, in these classic samurai movies, you often see the wind thrashing leaves and trees, but there's one stoic samurai not moving with his sword up. And it's that juxtaposition of a still individual with a dynamic environment that really makes them feel powerful."

The visual tenets of samurai battles and their fighting skills come together throughout the game, and none more striking than in so-called boss battles when two legendary swordsmen come together. The action is dramatically prefaced through cinematic, letterbox framing, and the combat requires knowledge of your adversary's tactics so you can effectively chain together the right attacks.

The game might also inform our vision of samurai through the characters Jin meets along his journey. Although Fox didn't elaborate on this point, the Jin we've seen so far easily conjures the vision of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune as a master-less samurai in a classic Akira Kurosawa film. Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, among other things, brings up the theme of class differences between samurai and peasants, and Yojimbo presents Mifune as the wily, enigmatic samurai as he expertly plays two rival gangs off against each other to help a town.

It'll be interesting to see how Jin interacts with those around him and if any side missions, for instance, tell us more about Jin as a person apart from his combat prowess.

Perhaps Jin as a character and a warrior could be contrasted by gamers controlling another person altogether, but when asked about this possibility, Fox only said, "I can't tell you that, because I might ruin the experience for you."

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For more on Ghost of Tsushima (out on PS4 on July 17), look at our recent video podcast regarding the game, as well as more info we've learned so far.

Categories: Games

Sims-Inspired Paralives Shows Off First Character, Customization Options

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 18:23

Developer: Alex Massé Rating: Teen Platform: PC, Mac

Paralives, the in-development life-simulation game that draws heavy inspiration from The Sims, has revealed its first character. In addition to giving prospective players a glimpse at "Maggie," developer Alex Massé and his team also give a quick rundown of some of the character customization options available.

Click here to watch embedded media

As shown in the video above, players can customize height, parts of the body individually, outfits, and change hair color down to specific parts using a versatile color wheel. This video also gives a quick look at the latest visuals in the home environments.

You can see a gallery of character and customization images below.

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Paralives is currently in development using funds raised from the indie team's Patreon account. While no release date exists yet, you can learn more about the team's ambitions through an interview we did with Massé here.

Categories: Games

Everything You Need To Know About The Mafia Trilogy Definitive Editions

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 17:00

It's official: All three Mafia games are receiving definitive editions. Publisher 2K Games confirmed the details today after revealing the project last week. However, the Mafia Trilogy isn't quite as straightforward as other rereleases. All three of the games are getting different degrees of attention for their updates, so we're breaking down all of the major points. If you want to know what to expect (and when), then this list is for you.

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    What They Are
    • You can see screens and trailers for all three definitive editions here.
    • Mafia: Definitive Edition is remake of the 2002 original. It is being rebuilt from the ground up, and will have new dialogue, cutscenes, and features.
    • Mafia II: Definitive Edition is a remastered version of the 2010 original. In addition to new HD visuals, it also has all of the post-release add-ons.
    • Mafia III: Definitive Edition includes all of the DLC and bonus content for the 2016 original, but has not otherwise been significantly changed.
    • Each game unlocks unique items in the other two. You can also get additional exclusive items by pre-ordering Mafia: Definitive Edition or buying the Mafia Trilogy early. 
    When They Release
    • Mafia II and Mafia III definitive editions are available now digitally. You can get them on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
    • If you buy the bundled Mafia Trilogy digitally, you can access Mafia II and III now, and will gain access to Mafia: Definitive Edition when it releases.
    • Mafia: Definitive Edition releases on August 28, 2020. At that time, a physical version including all three games will also be available.
    What They Cost
    • Buying all three games together as the Mafia Trilogy costs $60. Otherwise, Mafia: Definitive Edition is $40, and Mafia II and III are $30 each.
    • If you own Mafia II on Steam, you will be automatically granted Mafia II: Definitive Edition at no cost.
    • If you own Mafia III on PS4, Xbox, or Steam, it will automatically upgrade to Mafia III: Definitive Edition at no cost.
    • If you already own a combination of Mafia titles, you can get a special upgrade offer to complete your trilogy at a discount.
    Categories: Games

    Mafia II And Mafia III Definitive Editions Are Available Now

    Tue, 05/19/2020 - 17:00

    Last week, 2K Games teased an announcement relating to the Mafia Trilogy ... then a bunch of details and screens leaked online thanks to a couple product listings on the Microsoft store. As it turns out, that information was correct; today 2K confirmed its plans for definitive editions for all three titles in the series. Mafia II and Mafia III are available right now, and the original Mafia rerelease (which is a remake) is scheduled for August 28. 

    The Mafia II and Mafia III definitive editions are available today digitally on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam for $30 each – but you can also get them bundled (along with the upcoming Mafia: Definitive Edition) for $60 total. For more info about what's improved and why you might even get certain versions for free, read our full breakdown of all the details.

    Check out the trailers and screens for all three titles below, paying particular attention to the improved graphics on Mafia and Mafia II.

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    Categories: Games

    Crucible Incorporates Many Flavors Into A Giant Hero Shooter Snack

    Tue, 05/19/2020 - 14:00

    Publisher: Amazon Games Release: May 20, 2020 Platform: PC

    The free-to-play Crucible launches tomorrow, one of the first games that we’re seeing release out of Amazon Games. Developed by Relentless Studios, the game is quite the amalgamation of genres, tapping into the battle royale craze, a dash of MOBA-esque teamplay, and blazing fast third-person action.

    While it may appear to be a traditional hero shooter on the surface, the mashup of elements and player-vs-environment factors make it feel much different in practice. I suppose the question there is – is that enough? After a few hours experimenting with the different modes, I think there is a place for Crucible even in today’s incredibly saturated shooter environment, but naturally it’s going to be up to players to decide (Look for a full review in the days to come!).

    The characters did not inspire me from a thematic or flavor perspective, but their movesets are much more interesting. While I was encouraged to swap characters often to get a sense of the different playstyles, I gravitated toward those I had already tried, wanting to master their movesets and experiment with their level up options. In Crucible, you level up over the course of a match (This is highly based on your team’s ability to successfully navigate both PVE and PVP encounters) and unlock extremely powerful modifications to your skills. These do not persist from match to match, so every battle is new ground that you can take in different directions. My playstyle took me toward aggressive, relentless characters that love being in constant battle.

    My first fave that I can’t wait to play more on launch, is Drakahl. A melee-option in a range-based game is unusual, but there’s something great about going full zerker and zipping across the battlefield, fueled by rage, chopping things in half with an axe as they attempt to get away. More than just mindless slashing, Drakahl has a “hook” ability that players will be familiar with from Pudge in Dota 2 or Roadhog in Overwatch – and there’s seriously nothing better than catching one of those sneaky shooty types with your grapple and tearing them apart. Yeah, Drakahl is fun.

    Click here to watch embedded media

    The next character I gravitated to was Sazan. She’s a hardcore fully-kitted military maven that comes with an AR, a shotgun, and a deadly throwing knife. The catch is, you have to cycle between them in order to reload each tool, so weaving your options in the thick of combat has a unique flow. The knife does incredible damage, and getting it to land is crazy satisfying, especially as a finisher to a scenario where you empty your rifle in at range during an approach, let loose with the shotgun, and then vanish in the shadows for a split second to nail the perfect knife toss. She’s a ton of fun and the cyclical nature of her combat tools keeps every encounter fresh.

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Of course, character loadouts are nothing without an area to play in. The playspace is huge, with myriad events littered throughout – capsules that buff your entire team,  NPC monsters to battle for big chunks of experience, and objectives. Picking what to go after – and when to cut and run or fully engage, should you encounter another team with the same plan – is critical and constantly changing over the course of a game. Maybe it’s a good plan to hang back and try to score some easy creature kills early on and get a level advantage over the enemy … or maybe you try to look for some PVP action right out the gate to put them at a disadvantage for both important mission objectives and critter farming.

    Alpha Hunters is the mode for battle royale lovers, a no-respawn game with eight teams of two. It can be devastating to have your partner picked off early, but Relentless has included a curious foible for players that are left on their own. Players that lose their partner can form a temporary truce with other solo-ed players with the click of a button, essentially forming a new team of two. However, it only extends so far, at the end of the game both “teams” won’t be allowed to win despite the new formation, so it will come to blood for those two in the end. Perhaps you hang back a little and let your new partner take point, is what I’m saying.

    Harvester Command is similar to a classic domination match, with points accrued by capping and holding. Of the three modes, this one was the least interesting, but I can see it resonating with players looking for the closest thing to Team Deathmatch available.

    Click here to watch embedded media

    The show-stealer and “mode of interest” is Heart of the Hives. When it works, two teams clash over giant hive objectives that fight back, with a tense team-based brawl that brings all kinds of synergies and strategies into play. Battles can last long enough that fallen comrades can make it back to battle, and securing the heart is a risky prospect as one player must stop all action to attempt to secure the prize.

    Players can be easily dislodged from “capping the heart” so forming a perimeter or getting in the enemy’s face during those important seconds can change the outcome of an entire match. Three hearts equals a team win, and fighting over each heart may not even be part of your team’s strategy. For instance, early on you may opt to cede a heart to the opponent so that you can fan out across the map and gain a ton of other bonuses for your team while the enemies are occupied battling a hive. Of the three modes available, Heart of the Hives is the centerpiece and the one I’d recommend trying before the others, especially if you’re playing with friends.

    Crucible has a lot going on, and although it does distinguish itself from other hero shooters, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle these days with so many competitors. Look for more thoughts on Crucible soon!

    Categories: Games

    InXile Dev Diary Details Wasteland 3's Characters, Customization, And Combat

    Mon, 05/18/2020 - 19:58

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Publisher: InXile Entertainment Developer: inXile Entertainment Release: August 28, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

    Believe it or not, Wasteland has been around for over 30 years. The third entry in this post-apocalyptic series looks more detailed than ever. In the first in a series of developer diaries, lead designer David Rogers walks players through the basics of combat and character customization.

    If you're a fan of classic CRPGs, especially the first couple Fallout games, Wasteland 3 should definitely be on your radar. For more on the game, watch last year's trailer

    Categories: Games

    Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Trailer Shows That Friendship Comes In Many Forms

    Mon, 05/18/2020 - 15:27

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: May 26, 2020 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

    The spirit of friendship is forever in Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, which brings back these alternate finishing moves. The game's latest trailer shows of a selection of some very inventive ways to conclude a fight.

    For more on the game, check out Brian's full preview as well as a trailer showing off RoboCop, Sheeva, and Fujin.

    Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath comes out first digitally on May 26, with the physical release coming later in June. Aftermath is $40 for those who already own MK 11, as well as in other bundle configurations.

    Categories: Games

    Nioh 2 DLC Plans Detailed

    Fri, 05/15/2020 - 16:04
    Publisher: Koei Tecmo Developer: Team Ninja Release: March 13, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

    Nioh 2 developer Team Ninja has detailed its DLC plans for the game, starting with The Tengu's Disciple on July 30.

    The DLC, which is planned to roll out over the "next several months," will add new bosses, weapons, yokai, storylines, Guardian Spirits, end-game content for the campaign, and more.

    The price of the DLC has not been announced.

    Before The Tengu's Disciple hits you can take part in nine new missions and a photo mode thanks to today's update.

    [Source: Official PlayStation Blog Europe]

    Categories: Games

    Everything We Know About Ghost Of Tsushima

    Thu, 05/14/2020 - 23:19

    Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Release: July 17, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

    PlayStation 4 owners have been waiting anxiously for Sony to release the system's next two big games. The first, The Last of Us Part II, is just a month away, hitting on June 19. Ghost of Tsushima follows less than a month later, hitting on July 17. Ghost may end up being the last big PlayStation 4 exclusive, as PlayStation 5 is still slated to arrive this holiday season.

    Sony has only shown Ghost of Tsushima a few times, and many of its details have been shrouded in mystery, but a recently released 18-minute video (which you can view below) walked us through some of the setup and action. We still have plenty to learn about this exciting historical game, but here's what we know so far:

    Who is developing it?
    Ghost of Tsushima is being made at Suck Punch Productions, a Sony first-party studio based in Bellevue, Washington. The studio's previous work includes the Infamous series of games on PlayStation 3 and 4, as well as the Sly Cooper trilogy on PlayStation 2. Ghost of Tsushima was first shown in October 2017 at Paris Games Week.

    What is the setting?
    The year is 1274. The location is Tsushima Island, Japan. The Mongol Empire is invading and leaving behind a trail of dead, including the samurai that have protected this land.

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Who am I?
    You are Jin Sakai, one of the last of the samurai. To defeat the Mongol threat, he can rely on his samurai training to approach enemies with honor, or sneak through the shadows to eliminate them silently as a dishonorable ghost. He is brought to life by actor Daisuke Tsuji.

    Other than the always-present Mongol conflict, Sucker Punch hasn't spoken much about Jin. We know he's one of the last of his clan, but haven't heard if the story will explore his life and relationships. Other known characters are fellow samurai Masako, and the Mongol Empire's general Khotun Khan, who is believed to be the main antagonist. Khan is played by actor Patrick Gallagher.

    How is exploration handled?
    We don't know the exact scale of Tsushima's open world yet, but you have the freedom to explore it at your will, from its towering mountains to its hidden shrines. You can run on foot, scurry up walls and rock faces, and also summon a horse to ride along paths and through dense forests. The world is lush in detail, and appears to be a place you'll want to stop in often just to soak in its beauty.

    Sucker Punch has made an effort to minimize information that is displayed onscreen. In the footage we've seen, there is no waypoint that shows you where to go. Instead, the player brings up a black-and-white map that they can use to highlight a desired location. Jin can then throw a flower into the air to see which way the wind takes him. This action, performed by hitting right on the directional pad, brings up a distance meter in the top-left corner of the screen that tells him how much further he needs to travel. If he's heading the right way, the wind should be at his back and the number will shrink, but the number doesn't stay there for long.

    Sucker Punch says discovery comes in many ways. The player can obviously walk into new areas to find things, but visual cues will help steer them to points of interest. These hints include smoke on the horizon, oddly shaped trees, and animals and birds leading you in the right direction. As you explore, you'll see the world is alive, filled with wildlife and people going about their business. You may even see the two unite and can come to the aid of someone being attacked by an animal.

    How do I interact with the environment?
    Jin can walk and run, jump, and scurry up small walls. He can also use a grapple and rope to zip across longer distances. It appears the grapple can only be attached to certain things. In a video we see his grapple point is a white rope that is wrapped around a wooden beam.

    If the direct approach doesn't work, Jin can stealthily sneak around the world. These actions are similar in design to the animations from the Assassin's Creed series, such as the ducked walk along narrow beams or bounding up knee-high objects with little effort.

    What am I doing?
    While it appears you will have the freedom to explore the world mostly when you want to, many of your destinations will be occupied by Mongol forces. When you come across a new place, you'll be alerted of its name, such as the Yagata Farmstead, which also carries a warning that is "Mongol territory." We've seen a few missions in action, but don't know if they are critical path or side missions. One tasked Jin to destroy a Mongol shipyard, and another to destroy a black powder cache. Both of these activities included extensive combat sequences and a fair degree of environmental navigation.

    As he uncovers the land, Jin will come across shrines that he can interact with. One shrine was revealed after following a fox that appeared to be guiding Jin. He was given the option to "honor the shrine." If he does, he earns progress toward unlocking an additional minor charm slot.

    How do I play as a samurai?
    This is an odd question, but it's a choice that Ghost of Tsushima offers players. You can play as a samurai or a ghost. A samurai makes their presence known, whereas the ghost lives up to its namesake and delivers death from the shadows.

    As a samurai, it appears defense is the name of the game. Jin is guarded in his positioning, and doesn't appear to move around much, letting his foes come to him. While he can freely slice up opponents with his sword, this approach might require multiple strikes, whereas countering can fell an opponent in one hit. These strikes are gruesome and can lead to the removal of limbs and blood spraying through the air. Countering can also be used to combat archers who line the perimeter. If Jin's timing is true, he will knock arrows out of the air.

    When an enemy knows of your location, which is shown through a visual meter that fills up above their head, he can tap up on the directional pad to enter a standoff, which is a cinematic battle that again relies on timing and patience.

    How do I play as a ghost?
    If you fear you won't stand a chance against a Mongol army head-on, you can use stealth to thin their numbers and bring fear to their hearts by being a threat they can't track or fully comprehend. As you gain standing as a "ghost," they will learn to fear you. They'll run away when they see you. Being a ghost is dishonorable, but appears to be an effective approach.

    When you sneak up behind a foe, you can hit the square button to execute them silently with a quick knife to the neck. Vertical spaces can be used for aerial takedowns, which can be chained to a second silent kill if an adversary is nearby. Additionally, you can spread these foes apart by throwing wind chimes or firecrackers that they'll investigate, allowing for two stealth kill opportunities.

    Is there customization and upgrading?
    Jin's armor set is fully customizable, and it's not just about looks, either. Sucker Punch says the different armor sets bring mechanical advantages to both the samurai and ghost approaches. As you explore the world, you can gather supplies that can be used to create dyes that can change the color of your gear. You can pick bamboo, linens, and something just listed as "supplies." Each of these things come with a number, such as bamboo x4. If you see a field of yellow leaves, you can turn your armor set that color. We don't know if this will allow you to blend into that location better, but it does bring beauty to your look.

    Jin earns charms along the way that enhance his gear. If he equips the Charm of Unseen Respite, his smoke bombs restore 25 percent of his health. The Charm of Toxic Demise adds poison vapors to his wind chimes. The Charm of Okuninushi allows him to slowly recover health outside of combat. In addition to charms, he can use technique points to earn and upgrade skills.

    Will there be photo mode?
    Calling it just photo mode isn't exactly accurate. Not only can players snap images, Sucker Punch is letting them create short videos that capture the stunning movement of the tall grass and lightning bug-filled skies. Photo mode, which is also video mode, allows you to change the depth of field, direction and speed of the wind, and even what particles are in the air. For the videos, you can add music.

    Is there a Japanese voice track?
    Before you even start the game, you can turn on a Japanese voice track and play it with subtitles.

    When is it launching?
    After a short delay, Sony has locked in a July 17 release date for Ghost of Tsushima.

    Categories: Games

    Ghost of Tsushima Preview – The Different Ways Of The Samurai

    Thu, 05/14/2020 - 22:28

    Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Release: July 17, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

    We're familiar with the deadly capabilities of a samurai's katana, but Ghost of Tsushima's Jin has other methods available to him in his goal of ridding the island of Tsushima of its Mongol invaders.

    The new 18-minute presentation of the game showed off Jin's abilities, whether that's with a sword of through sneaky stealth kills.

    The footage shown highlighted a particularly measured approach to sword combat through standoffs you can initiate with enemies. This starts a sequence that allows Jin to dispatch foes with a single stroke. Although Sucker Punch didn't delve into the exact controls during a standoff, it appears to involve timing. Similarly, outside of the standoffs, parry timing can open up enemies for an easy counter kill. Different stances and the ability to deflect arrows also aid Jin in the event multiple enemies attack.

    On the other hand, if you want to tackle a situation from the shadows, Jin has some classic stealth gameplay tools at his disposal, including stones and firecrackers for distraction, and poison, smoke bombs, and one-hit stealth assassinations. The video also highlights Jin's ability to perform chain assassinations as well as the option to "slaughter." Range attacks from Jin's bow and kunai daggers are also very helpful in mopping up enemies quickly.

    No matter which method you use, kills of both the stealthy and head-to-head varieties appear to charge up a special meter in the bottom-left of the screen that appears to lead to a L1+R1 command.

    Sucker Punch calls Jin's stealth attacks dishonorable, and some of his tools "dirty tricks," which implies there's a difference in killing enemies this way versus in straight up face-to-face combat, but we don't know if this distinction leads to anything in the game itself.

    It will be also be interesting to see if the A.I. will be any wiser and able to spot Jin in the day versus the night, which is when the demo took place as he skulked around the docks.

    To play off the impressive attention to detail the studio appears to have put into the world, Sucker Punch also showed off a full Japanese voice track, an impressive photo mode, and a special monochrome filter you can play in to make the experience feel like you're in an interactive Kurosawa film. Sucker Punch says it will talk more about the game before its July 17 release, so we look forward to finding out if Jin has anything else up his sleeve.

    Categories: Games

    A Ghost Across The Land

    Thu, 05/14/2020 - 21:22

    Click to watch embedded media

    Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Release: July 17, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

    Today Sony and developer Sucker Punch treated fans to an 18-minute look at PlayStation 4's Ghost of Tsushima title (releasing on July 17).

    Mongol invaders have taken over the island of Tshushima, and protagonist Jin must drive them out. The presentation highlighted exploration of the island, the precision strikes of combat (and stealthy alternatives), and even the customization of Jin himself.

    We'll have more of our thoughts on the presentation here at gameinformer.com soon, so stay tuned.

    Categories: Games

    The Same Golf Club You Know And Love

    Thu, 05/14/2020 - 13:00

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Publisher: 2K Sports Developer: HB Studios Rating: Rating Pending

    From a business perspective, it's natural that publisher 2K and developer HB Studios should expand their partnership by turning The Golf Club into PGA 2K21. 2K gets an already good golf series in the fold, and HB gets more support. But where do gamers fit in all this? It appears that we're in the cat bird seat, because both sides are making a commitment to keep what we already love about the series, only add to it.

    This means that the course creation feature that is at the heart of The Golf Club franchise – whether you use it or not – is very much a part of PGA Tour 2K21. Similarly, the title is still guided first and foremost by its natural analog swing – no stat buffs or player upgrades. Just you, your clubs, and the course.

    "We've never felt like [2K] put any pressure on us to do any specific things," says senior producer Shaun West. That may sound like a simple statement, but honestly, given how far 2K series like NBA 2K have gone down the grind/microtransaction route, I'm glad that PGA 2K21 is not trying to be something The Golf Club never was in the first place.

    Instead, on top of what we already like about The Golf Club, this year's title is adding a dozen PGA pros (so far former number one and PGA Tour and FedEx champion Justin Thomas has been officially confirmed), real courses and tournaments (The Players was teased recently), better presentation (including commentators Luke Elvy and Rich Beem), and more brands to splash over your golfer such as Adidas, Callaway, Polo Ralph Lauren, and TaylorMade.

    Beyond the names, the pros themselves give the career mode more of a structure – something I thought The Golf Club 2019 needed. The pros form the basis of the Tour's challenges and rewards, so hopefully playing through the Tour feels more dramatic than going up against a bunch of randos on the leaderboard from week to week.

    Over the summer West says we're going to find out more about improvements to gameplay, course creation additions, and other aspects, so this all sounds like just the tip of the iceberg – no matter what we're calling the series these days.

    PGA Tour 2K21 comes out on August 21 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, and PC.

    Categories: Games

    Remastered Editions Of Mafia And Mafia II May Be Coming Soon

    Wed, 05/13/2020 - 17:54

    Hot on the heels of this morning's Mafia Trilogy tease, a pair of product pages appeared on the Microsoft Store for Mafia: Definitive Edition and Mafia II: Definitive Edition. Beyond that, the screenshots on the page for Mafia: Definitive Edition highlight the visual overhaul being performed by developer Hangar 13, which represents a major step up from the 2002 original.

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    Assuming the listing information is correct, the definitive edition of Mafia II is launching on May 19 (the same day the teaser trailer promised more news). Mafia: Definitive Edition appears to be hitting on August 27.

    While information regarding a new version of Mafia III isn't currently available, the treatment for these first two games gives gamers a reasonable idea what to expect from the third installment.

    Categories: Games

    Fujin, Sheeva, RoboCop Run Rampant In Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Trailer

    Wed, 05/13/2020 - 15:54

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: May 26, 2020 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

    NetherRealm Studios' upcoming Mortal Kombat 11 expansion, Aftermath, is out in a few weeks. What better way to prepare than to soak in a blood-drenched trailer featuring three of Aftermath's new roster additions? Check out the new trailer, which highlights Fujin, Sheeva, and RoboCop.

    Fujin is Raiden's brother, and he's one of Earthrealm's protectors. He comes into battle with a sword and crossbow. He was first playable in Mortal Kombat 4. Sheeva is half human and half dragon. The less you think about that coupling, the better. She wields a shield and can teleport. She was playable for the first time back in Mortal Kombat 3. RoboCop is RoboCop. This is the first time he's RoboCopped in Mortal Kombat.

    Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is available digitally starting May 26, with a physical release arriving sometime in June. Aftermath is a $40 upgrade for MK11 owners, but it can also be picked up with the game's Kombat Pack 1 for $50. If you haven't yet gotten into Mortal Kombat 11, you may have made the right call. New players can get Mortal Kombat 11, the Kombat Pack 1, and Aftermath for $60. 

    Categories: Games

    Naughty Dog Gives A Glimpse At The Story Of The Last Of Us Part II

    Wed, 05/13/2020 - 15:17

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Naughty Dog Release: June 19, 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

    As the June 19 release date for PS4 title The Last of Us Part II approaches, Sony and developer Naughty Dog have started a trailer series delving deeper into the game's elements. Today's inaugural video explores aspects of the title's story.

    Directors Neil Druckmann and Anthony Newman, and narrative lead Halley Gross discuss why they are telling more of Joel and Ellie's story, where the game begins, and an idea of where it may go.

    "I think this one might be more divisive than the first game – in a very kind of exciting way," says Druckmann, "that I think raises those interesting philosophical questions and asks the player to interpret some of the material that's there and see where they stand on those questions."

    Categories: Games

    Beowulf May Be Coming To Assassin's Creed Valhalla

    Mon, 05/11/2020 - 14:42
    Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Release: 2020 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

    It looks like the tale of Beowulf may be told in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. A mission based on the epic poem is listed as a bonus for season-pass owners – though there are a few caveats that you should be aware of.

    Gamesradar noticed the reference to the character on Ubisoft's German site. There, under the season pass benefits, you can see a listing for a bonus mission, The Legend of Beowulf. In its North American counterpart, the season pass lists "epic new content," "new lands," and "new gear," but makes no reference to the 1,000-year-old poem.

    If you didn't read Beowulf in English class, it focuses on the titular hero, who fights a monster named Grendel (and his mom!), as well as a dragon. And yes, that's the extremely abbreviated version. You can read it in its entirety here if you're looking for a productive way to spend your morning. It is, after all, considered one of the most important works in English literature.  

    Now we'll have to wait and see how Assassin's Creed Valhalla handles the source material – after it's officially confirmed, that is.

    For more on Assassin's Creed Valhalla, check out some of our exclusive features, including 25 Things We've Learned About Assassin's Creed Valhalla and an interview with creative director Ashraf Ismail. The game is coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PlayStation, Xbox One X, Stadia, and PC this holiday.

     

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