Games

NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition Review -- Air Ball

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 05/14/2021 - 23:52

Mobile versions of console or PC titles used to carry the stigma of being poor cousins, but as games like Fortnite and Genshin Impact have shown, it's possible for mobile games to be just as good as their console counterparts. At first glance, NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition seems like it will follow suit; the game looks very impressive, the action runs smoothly, and every NBA team (with full rosters) is available from the start. I thought I'd have all I need to enjoy some great NBA action wherever I went, but the more I played the more I realized what I thought would be a deep experience was instead very shallow.

NBA 2K21 Arcade is the annual basketball franchise's first appearance in Apple Arcade, and it features three main modes: Play Now, MyCareer, and Black Top. The game does a great job of bringing the impressive visuals of the NBA 2K games to iOS, with player models here looking pretty close to their real-life counterparts.

The Play Now feature is straightforward: pick two teams and play a game. The short amount of time it takes from booting the game up to playing a game is impressive, only lasting as long as it takes you to pick teams. But actually playing a game is where things get tricky, with the game's on-screen touch controls being too sensitive at best and non-functional at worst.

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Categories: Games

GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon – New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/13/2021 - 18:01

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Publisher: Konami Developer: Konami Rating: Mature Platform: Switch, PC

GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon arrives in Early Access today on Steam, and is coming to Switch in 2022. This “roguevania” lets players dive into Japanese ukiyo-e style environments as they slash their way through dangerous, beautiful levels and titanic bosses. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is being developed by Konami and GuruGuru. Players can explore various levels that look like living tapestries, from the fires of hell to majestic waves.

While players crash into the levels to take on bosses, find weapons, and explore again and again, there are persistent elements in play as well. At your home base, the Getsu Clan Estate, you can add a wide variety of permanent bonuses and boosts to your character as well as strengthen your weapons and equipment. In this fashion, the game leans toward the “roguelite”, where if you persist over time from run to run, you will eventually gain significant power that gives you a serious edge in combat, giving you a considerable advantage in lower levels and difficulties.

You’re going to pick up standard weapons like katanas, clubs, battle umbrellas, and fist armaments, but also side weapons that can help you get past more challenging foes that require some thought. Items like the bow and arrow, caltrops, or bombs can help you deal with difficult encounters without having to put yourself at risk.

In this episode of New Gameplay Today, join the Game Informer gang as they watch Alex Stadnik pilot his way through the first stage. There are plenty of different levels to work through even in this early access period, showcasing diverse and sometimes captivating environments. While GestuFumaDen: Undying Moon is currently only available on PC, I highly recommend using a controller to play instead of mouse and keyboard. 

Interestingly enough, this is technically not the first GetsuFumaDen game, with the original landing on the Super Famicom all the way back in 1987. The games are obviously quite different, but both feature side-scrolling action.

What do you think of GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon? Are you going to check out Early Access? Wait for release? Make a comment about Konami making something other than pachinko machines? Let us know!

Categories: Games

Total War: Warhammer III Features Huge Survival Battles

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/13/2021 - 18:00

Publisher: Sega Developer: Creative Assembly Platform: PC

Total War: Warhammer III is scheduled to arrive on PC this year, and we had a chance to dive in and try out one of the big new features: Survival battles. These are akin to major boss battles, and are huge in scale, size, scope, and time investment, and can be much more involved than a traditional Total War fight. Over the course of multiple skirmishes and large scale battles in the same space, you are tasked with recruiting and replenishing troops, building defenses, holding points, and potentially engaging in several battles simultaneously.

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Survival battles are strategic enagements that force you to make both micro and macro choices as you progress throughout an experience. In the case of the demo I participated in, the massive confrontation culminated with an epic demonic encounter.

Playing as the Kislev and their Ice Queen Tsarina Katarin, it was cool to get a feel for one of Total War: Warhammer III’s playable races. The Kislev features powerful cavalry units, flexible infantry, and of course, ice magic. In the demo, I only had access to ice powers via Queen Katarin, but the Kislev also wield wind magic capabilities in the full game. Katarin was enough to shift many battles in my favor with a multitude of potent skills, allowing me to buff allies, freeze enemies in their tracks to control the battlefield, and of course, dish out plenty of direct icy damage.

Finding fun factions to play likely won’t be a problem in Total War: Warhammer III, as there are a multitude of flavorful and fantastic options across the first two titles. However, these extended big survival brawls are a new element to enjoy - and endure. In this survival demo, my Kislev forces faced off against the hellish hordes of Khorne. Initially, it was essentially a battle against another army, which is nothing new. However, we battled over a capture point. Once taken, I could choose how to use my supplies. Supplies in survival allow you to make choices that rippled across the entire battle. These resources can be used to heal existing troops, recruit new ones, and even set up multiple kinds of defensive structures from giant walls to magical towers. You can also upgrade your troops in terms of armaments. 

How you choose to allocate your resources can make a big difference, especially as your options can option up as you progress through an encounter, offering higher-tier units for purchase. In this case, that’s the giant Kislev ice bear unit that can take on tons of demonic little annoyances by itself! Essentially, capturing each outstanding victory point and defending your current victory points is the imperative, and each point essentially comes with its own full-scale battle. By the time I had captured the third and final victory point, I had participated in three big battles and countless smaller ones. 

However, taking that final point was not the end, as the final armies of Khorne, led by an Exalted Greater Daemon, came charging in to attack. During the distraction of this major encounter, first I lost one of my previously held victory points and eventually capitulated in a war of attrition to the big Daemon threat. Some of my loss I attribute to misallocation of resources, and the rest to poor distribution of troops during that final battle. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt these survival battles are designed to be both lengthy and challenging, with tons and tons of choices to make along the way. I was impressed with the previous Total War: Warhammer titles, and I really have no reason to expect this one will be any different. When will we see it in 2021? Hopefully soon! Ice bears!

Are you looking forward to Total War: Warhammer III? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

Hood: Outlaws & Legends Review - Petty Theft

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 15:27

On paper, Hood: Outlaws and Legends has a lot going for it. It's a competitive riff on the co-op multiplayer heist game where two teams of four merry men and women simultaneously attempt to unlock a vault and extract a giant chest of gold. Its stealthy race to elude computer-controlled knights and rival players rarely plays out with the grace implied by the concept. More often, the competition for keys, chests, and respawn points devolve into protracted brawls that showcase Hood's clumsy combat, rather than dynamic stealth. Throw in some confusing UI, easily exploitable stealth-kill mechanics, and myriad small design flaws, and Hood's execution fails to deliver the goods it's promised.

Each match in Hood has four phases. First, someone needs to steal the vault key from the invincible (but generally unaware) Sheriff. Second, you find and open the vault. Third, someone carries the chest to one of a few extraction points on the map. Once the chest is locked in, one or two players use a winch to lift the chest while the others defend them. The “other team,” meanwhile, has opportunities to disrupt the mission to try and acquire the key or chest for themselves. With both teams naturally meeting at a few key locations, you have plenty of opportunities to surprise and overtake the objective.

In this idealized version of the game, the match is a coordinated stealth run, where each character uses their unique skills to advance the mission or help their teammates. Each of the four characters theoretically has a role to play: Marianne, the stealthiest fighter, moves quickly and has abilities that let her steal the key or assassinate enemies discreetly. Robin's bow allows him to take out enemies from afar. Little John can lift gates and move the chest quickly. Tooke is a solid backup fighter with a wide-reaching melee attack and a healing ability. Though some of these skills make certain characters well-suited to different tasks, there's no moment where you need a specific character and their skills. This opens the door for players to choose characters based on their playstyles, but also minimizes the importance of class-based play around the heist itself.

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Categories: Games

Scarlet Nexus – New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 15:00

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Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Bandai Namco Release: June 25, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Scarlet Nexus is landing on June 25, coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. While I was mildly interested in the game before, a recent hands-on session has me counting down the days to release. After experiencing the combat for myself, I am definitely curious to see what Scarlet Nexus brings to the table as an action RPG. Oh, if you like anime, I guess that’s probably a big plus too. I had a chance to play through the early part of the game, unlocking different combat techniques that sync up with psionic powers, and it forms a fairly compelling visual treat as well as testing your timing and prowess. The story and dialogue are true-to-form anime JRPG fare, and while that didn’t really have me raving from the rafters, the combat was enough to carry things along, and splendidly so.

Join us in this episode of New Gameplay Today to get a sense of the various mechanics involved in Scarlet Nexus. You can choose to play as one of two protagonists, and you recruit other various characters to your party. These side characters offer powerful augmentations to your combat style, like being able to slow down time so you can crush your opponents, adding fire elements to your attacks to burn your enemies, and more. Character abilities grow in strength as you work up your relationships with them, similar to building up rapport in a Persona game. However, weaving in traditional ARPG combat with its dodging, jumping, and comboing alongside psionic powers is where the game shines. 

Kicking off a combo with a few attacks and then flinging a car into your enemy is fun, but it gets even better as you tear apart large objects in the air and pull them together into your opponent, using the thumbsticks to mimic the movement of the debris. It’s a creative combat system that has you constantly scouring the environment for your next play, even as you continue to keep an eye on incoming dangers and continue to strike with your standard skills. It all comes together as you time your psychic abilities with your triggered sidekick skills, creating (when you do it right!) an intense vacuum of carnage for your helpless opponents.

Are you looking forward to Scarlet Nexus? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

An Hour With Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart – The Best Looking Next-Gen Game Yet

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 15:00

Publisher: PlayStation Studios Developer: Insomniac Games Release: June 11, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 5

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is exactly what it needs to be: a direct continuation of the beloved series doubling as a showpiece of new-generation technology. I recently saw roughly an hour of Rift Apart in action, and almost every second of play screams of nostalgia while also dazzling with a scale and speed that hasn’t been attainable for the series until PlayStation 5.

In the decades we’ve spent journeying with Ratchet and Clank, we’ve watched them battle against alien armadas and save the universe time and time again. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. One thankful civilization on a distant world is finally honoring our brave heroes with an extravagant parade. In the opening shot, we see Ratchet and Clank emerge to a sea of roaring fans seated in airborne bleachers that overlook massive balloon representations of the heroes. This single moment has so much to see, including a detailed alien cityscape on the ground far beneath the festive parade. For the opening shot, developer Insomniac Games leans into the power of PlayStation 5 to drop jaws and establish the scale players can expect as this adventure unfolds.

Ratchet and Clank are introduced as the parade’s grand marshals by none other than Captain Qwark, the megalomaniac who always seems to find a camera and microphone to sing of his own praises. In this particular moment, Qwark is narrating one of Ratchet and Clank’s adventures, which the player gets to play through on a movie-like set of an alien world set on a float. This begins the tutorial, bringing the classic Ratchet and Clank gameplay roaring back into view. We also hear the soundtrack intensify; heroic melodies from composer Mark Mothersbaugh that draw loose inspiration from his work on the motion picture Thor: Ragnarok. Insomniac Games targeted this film as the type of soundtrack it wanted, and as luck would have it, they were able to hire the man behind it.  

When Ratchet’s wrench slams into a stack of boxes, the thundering score gives way to the familiar clanging of bolts, as well as age-old movements from the character, and the assistance of his friend strapped to his back. Although Ratchet is just demonstrating the moves he used in battle for the crowd, something is amiss. He’s not just taking on cardboard standees. The Blarg are here, and more are arriving in dropships. This isn’t part of the parade.

A huge battle unfolds, sending the duo hurtling across different floats and even within the skyscrapers of the city itself. Ratchet rail grinds, flips through the air, and unloads hell from a firearm called the Burst Pistol. Creative weapon designs have always been one of the key pillars of this game series, and that remains the case in Rift Apart. The one big difference now is that they will all feel significantly better, thanks to the DualSense controller’s unique functionality.

Most weapons take advantage of the controller’s adaptive triggers. With the Burst Pistol, the player can easily tap into two different firing modes. Pulling in the right trigger slightly unloads slow but accurate fire. Pulling the trigger full-bore creates a faster chamber rotation, but reduces accuracy. The next gun we see is the Enforcer, which appears to be Rift Apart’s equivalent of the shotgun. The lighter pull fires one barrel and the click-through fires both of them. A nice touch on this gun is two lights on its stock, which turn green when it’s ready to fire and red when it’s not (one chamber can be red, one can be green).

While these two guns are similar in usage, the Negaton Collider shows off the DualSense’s unique features when used for a charged weapon. To generate a shot, the player pulls the trigger until they feel resistance, then, when ready, pulling through will fire the beam. This method delivers the tactical choice to instantly fire with a little more effort or outright cancel the beam by releasing the trigger.

I saw six weapons in play. Along with the three aforementioned, Ratchet can equip a Shatterbomb Glove to, well, throw bombs; the Ricochet Gun that works as you would expect, and last and certainly not least, is an armament with the strange name of the Topiary Sprinkler. When this weapon connects with an enemy, a plant instantly sprouts and climbs up their body, rendering them immobile for a few seconds, and making them look like a topiary in front of a mansion.

I even see how this weapon works on a lumbering robot boss named “Wee” Roger. He too can be caught up in the vines, giving Ratchet the chance to unload hell into him. Once he’s defeated, a more powerful version of this robot appears with the upgraded name “Not-So-Wee” Roger. The bosses have health meters that are easy to read. Fans of the series will also see an ammo bar has been added above every weapon Ratchet wields, allowing you to keep better tabs on your arsenal. New depth of field has also been implemented to better frame the target you have in your sights.

The attack on the parade comes from long-time series villain Dr. Nefarious, who is here to steal the Dimensionator that Clank was planning to gift to Ratchet. Clank fixed this dangerous device so Ratchet could finally visit the dimension where all of his Lombax species reside; Ratchet is the only one in this reality. Dr. Nefarious, who is continually suffering defeat, wants to use the Dimensionator to reach a dimension where he always wins. The raytracing effects on the Doctor’s helmet look fantastic, a small but noticeable touch.

The chase to secure this universe-changing tool brings an epic war to this peaceful planet. The parade’s floats and balloons are torn asunder, sometimes with Ratchet and Clank on them, creating unstable footing with platforms rocking back and forth, making firing straight tricky.

I didn’t get to see what happens at the end of this stage, and was instead whisked away to a level much later in the game. This stage is seen through the eyes of Rivet, a new playable character, who is also a Lombax. Her dimension is at war, and she is part of the resistance. She has a purplish/pinkish fur and one of her arms is mechanical. Instead of wielding a wrench, she proudly swings a hammer.

We meet Rivet on a dusty, industrial planet that looks like it has poor air quality. Here, she bounds up cliffs, battling robotic pirate forces, and eventually squares off against a Godzilla-sized robot, which actually becomes intertwined with the platforming. She dashes across falling structures, onto the robot’s shoulders, and then onto a dangerous rail sequence that has cranes hastily laying tracks in front of her. The action looks every bit as fervent and cinematic as an Uncharted game, with everything crumbling around our hero. Insomniac also takes a cue from the Spider-Man games by intertwining story sequences right into the action.

Rivet’s move set is exactly like Ratchet’s. She can strafe (which can now be set to auto, so you don’t have to hold down the trigger), acrobatically flip through the air, and also use the series’ classic Hover Boots to gain incredible speed. Ratchet and Rivet can both perform a new move called the Phantom Dash, which phases them in and out of reality, granting them partial invincibility. This supposedly adds dimensions to combat and traversal, as it can be executed from any move. Although Rivet has been alone her entire life, she’ll eventually have Clank at her side as well through an unknown story twist.  

The story and worlds determine who you play as at any given time. Clank once again gets in on this action through a new platforming minigame that has the player trying to draw power from one dimension to the next. These puzzles push the player to bounce across platforms and avoid obstacles to create a through-line for the power.

Another minigame puts the player in command of a digital spider-tank called the Glitch. It can scurry up walls and ceilings and is used to take down viruses within a program. On top of these diversions, Insomniac says two mountable beasts are in the game, one of which is a giant dragon that soars through the sky on an alien world.

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Insomniac confirms that this Ratchet adventure is still level-based, but the technology behind it is more akin to an open world that constantly streams content in front of the player. It streams so fast, allowing Insomniac to load in textures in the blink of an eye. Load times are lightning quick as well. Within a second’s time, Ratchet could hop from one side of the galaxy to the next. The rifts load seamlessly too, allowing gameplay to move from one location to the next without skipping a beat. Ratchet and Rivet will eventually travel to places Insomniac calls Sync planets, which show off two versions of the same place for their respective realities. To switch to them, the player just has to hit a lever. In that time, the screen flashes white and the other version of the planet appears, looking dramatically different, yet with some clear similarities. I can't wait to see what kind of puzzle solving awaits in these alternate worlds.

The two realities also mean you’ll see two versions of the same characters. The lovely named character Skid McMarx is the lowlife stoner in the reality we know, but in the alternate dimension, he goes by the name Phantom, and is an expert hack and inventor for the resistance.

Rift Apart’s feature suite sounds extensive, giving players a photo mode, a wealth of accessibility options building upon Insomniac’s work from Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (including the ability to map a slow-motion function to the d-pad), and also the ability to customize armor, right down to its color. Armors are often the rewards delivered for completing side content.

Insomniac has been on a roll with the Spider-Man games, and Rift Apart looks every bit as epic and fun. It’s one of the few early PlayStation 5 exclusives we've seen, and it looks like the team at Insomniac is taking this new hardware for a serious ride.

Categories: Games

Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Wrath Of The Druids DLC Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 11:00

The Assassin's Creed franchise has typically relied on its story-based DLC to enhance the narrative of its games. This is usually done in one of two ways: As a means of filling in obvious holes within a game's plot (like Assassin's Creed II's Bonfire of the Vanities), or as a method of continuing a protagonist's story to further explain how they connect to other games in the series (like Odyssey's Legacy of the First Blade). The first of Assassin's Creed Valhalla's two post-launch story-driven DLCs, Wrath of the Druids, doesn't fit into either camp. Without much tying it back to the main story of Valhalla or the franchise as a whole, the DLC doesn't quite serve a distinct purpose and it's worse off for it.

In Wrath of the Druids, Eivor receives a letter from her cousin Barid saying that he wishes to see her again--as it happens, he's become king of Dublin, a major port town in Ireland. Upon arrival in Ireland, Eivor learns that Barid seeks to protect his crown by securing the trust of soon-to-be High-King of Ireland Flann Sinna, a man who desires to unite all of the country--whether they be Catholic or druid--under his rule. Eivor agrees to aid her cousin, also teaming up with shrewd economic chief Azar to increase Dublin's financial standing and by working with the mysterious bard and poetess Ciara to stop the Children of Danu, a cult hellbent on preserving the druid people by destroying the increasingly Catholic leaders of Ireland.

Tonally, this story feels odd. Though Wrath of the Druids releases months after Valhalla, its story is clearly meant to fit somewhere within the main game's campaign, not take place afterwards. The ideal power level for the DLC is 55, making it a great story to play mid-way through Valhalla in order to strengthen Eivor if you ever need to. But Valhalla doesn't have any obvious holes in its campaign, so Wrath of the Druids' story is structured to fit into it anywhere. Thus, there's very little momentum or character growth in this particular story arc. As I played the DLC after having completed Valhalla's campaign, it actually felt like Eivor had regressed in her development, saying and agreeing to things that didn't track with the Eivor I had come to create over the course of the main campaign--she didn't feel like my Eivor.

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Categories: Games

Lost Judgment Coming This Fall From Yakuza Studio

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/07/2021 - 19:12

Publisher: Sega Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios Release: September 24, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Sega and Yakuza developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have announced a sequel to the 2018 Yakuza spin-off game Judgment. Lost Judgment continues the story of private detective Takayuki Yagami, the protagonist of the first game, as he takes on new cases in the action-packed legal thriller. The announcement comes shortly after the original Judgment arrived on new-gen consoles and Stadia after initially debuting exclusively on PlayStation 4. Unlike the original's trajectory, Lost Judgment will debut across both PlayStation and Xbox consoles in a simultaneous worldwide release this September.

In Lost Judgment, players partake in detective sleuthing and action combat across a noir-style story about a detective who takes the law into his own hands when the justice system fails. Yagami is joined by his partner and ex-yakuza Masaharu Kaito as the duo investigates a seemingly uncrackable case. Soon, the case leads to a conspiracy-laden tale that reveals just how broken the law system is. While the Yakuza series recently shifted to turn-based combat with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Lost Judgment preserves the traditional Ryu Ga Gotoku-style of action combat featured in earlier games. Yagami has access to various fighting stances, including the new Snake style which allows him to deflect attacks and use enemies' energy against them. Players will travel between Yokohama and Kamurocho as they investigate the case. 

You can see the announcement trailer below.

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Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio released Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the eighth mainline entry in the Yakuza series, last year. That game replaced longtime Yakuza protagonist Kazuma Kiryu with the more in-your-face Ichiban Kasuga. Judgment features a noir-style narrative, giving it a decidedly different feel than the traditional, mainline Yakuza series. If you're a fan of the sillier side of things, don't worry, as Lost Judgment seems to have plenty of excuses for goofiness built in as Yagami infiltrates a high school in Yokohama where he meets students and participates in quests involving everything from robotics to dancing.

Lost Judgment comes to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 24. To learn what we thought of the first Judgment game, check out our review here. For our review on the most recent Yakuza game, Like a Dragon, head here.

Categories: Games

Taiko No Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat Review -- Drum Solo

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 16:01

Some video game franchises seem destined for the mobile gaming scene, their format ideally suited for touchscreen controls or quick on-the-go gaming sessions. Bandai Namco's drum-pounding rhythm game Taiko no Tatsujin is the latest established franchise to make the jump to mobile, and it's a match made in heaven. Bright, colorful, and full of charm, Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat will have you smiling from ear to ear as you tap tap tap away to its catchy soundtrack. It's just a shame that fun has such a short shelf life.

Pop Tap Beat follows the standard rhythm genre format: notes travel from one side of the screen to the other (in this case right to left), and you tap the screen when each one reaches a circle to score points. The closer to the circle the note is when you tap, the more in rhythm with the song you are and the more points you score. It's a simple system that's easy to understand and pick up even if this is your first time playing a rhythm game, making for a short learning curve and a longer focus on fun.

The gameplay loop offers incremental increases in challenge with each subsequent difficulty level, offering an experience that's challenging without ever feeling impossible. Notes come in two colors: red, which signals tapping the drum, and blue, which signals tapping around the edge of it. Higher difficulties will split the drum in half, meaning you not only have to pay attention to the color of each note but also keep in mind which side of the screen needs to be tapped. Pop Tap Beat mixes things up further with special notes, alleviating any monotony. These special notes include drum rolls with continuous tapping, golden drums for furious tapping, and balloon notes for a different kind of furious tapping.

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Categories: Games

Check Out Scarlet Nexus' Beautiful Animated Opening Sequence

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/06/2021 - 15:54

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Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Bandai Namco Release: June 25, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

With It Takes Two and Returnal both delivering in big ways, it's been a hell of a year for new intellectual properties thus far. We have another promising one hitting in the near future with Bandai Namco Entertainment's Scarlet Nexus. Slated to release on June 25 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, Bandai Namco is inviting players to the distant future where a psionic hormone has awakened in people, giving them superhero-like powers.

Bandai Namco today released the opening cinematic that players will see when they first boot up the game. While the sequence begins with still-frame snapshots set to the pounding beats of Japanese rock band The Oral Cigarettes, it quickly transitions to a fully-animated battle that is absolutely stunning. It also shows off some of the unique abilities that the psionic hormone grants to people.

Your eyes into Scarlet Nexus' world can either be Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall. Both characters are wildly different in style and their stories unfold in unique ways, meaning you'll need to complete Starlet Nexus twice to unlock the full storyline. Each character has their own skill tree and approaches. Yuito wields a sword for close-range attacks, whereas Kasane uses a kunai for long-range blasts. Combat for both is fast paced and encourages the player to study their surroundings for items that can help them. An item could be as large as a car, which can be hurled at the alien foes that want to harvest and eat human brains.

Developed by several team members that made the excellent Tales of Vesperia RPG, Scarlet Nexus is a game we can't wait to get our hands on. We recently had the chance to see a lengthy demo that gave us a taste of the unique "brainpunk" world, as well as the characters (and support cast) in combat. You can read our findings here and also see more of the game in motion.

Categories: Games

Learn How To Make Games With Nintendo's Game Builder Garage This June

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 23:47

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Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo Release: June 11, 2021 Rating: Everyone Platform: Switch

Nintendo has perhaps the longest, most illustrious track record in the history of the games industry, so if you're hoping to learn the best ways to design and create your own video games, you'd be hard pressed to find a better instructor. While the gaming giant has released titles like Super Mario Maker 2 to give players a chance at designing their own creations, Nintendo hopes to build on that with Game Builder Garage.

Game Builder Garage takes concepts explored in the Super Mario Maker games, which are largely centered on design and experimentation, and brings them to a new level. Now, you not only design games, but learn the basics of visual programming with step-by-step lessons straight from Nintendo. 

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Each lesson walks you through the basics in understandable fashion, featuring a cast of characters brimming with personality called the Nodon. By assigning the Nodon specific functions, you can put them in charge of doing things like moving characters, pressing buttons, and adding sound effects. When you're ready to see the progress you've made in the game, you can easily swap between the programming screen and the game screen. You can even build your games using the different control schemes of the Switch system, including buttons, touchscreen, or a USB mouse when in TV mode. As you complete lessons, you can show off your skills with checkpoint tests.

The included lessons teach you how to build seven distinct games, including Tag Showdown a two-player game of tag; On a Roll, a motion-controlled game where you navigate a ball through a maze; and Thrill Racer, a 3D racing title. Once you're comfortable with the creation tools, you can let your imagination run wild in Free Programming, where you can use Nodon to your heart's content to develop your dream creation.

When you're satisfied with what you've made, you can exchange codes with friends to share your title, or download what they made and give it a spin. You can even look at the programming behind their creations to learn new tricks, or use the sharing feature to collaborate on a single project with friends.

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Game Builder Garage sounds like a fascinating toolset for aspiring game designers. When I was a kid, I used to draw out crude design documents for sequels to my favorite games. Had a platform like Super Mario Maker or a toolset like Game Builder Garage existed back then, maybe I would have taken that process to the next level – sure, I had Mario Paint, but that doesn't give you anything close to what either of the modern games offer would-be creators.

Game Builder Garage launches on Switch on June 11 for $30.

Categories: Games

Resident Evil Village Review -- Shapeshifter

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 16:00

Over its 25-year history, the Resident Evil series has continually changed and evolved, like a mad scientist who injects himself with a questionable bio-weapon, mutating into something new every time he shows up. For the most part, those evolutions have been fascinating recombinations of elements as Resident Evil tries different mixes of survival-horror and action gameplay. With Resident Evil 7, Capcom swung for the fences with a first-person perspective, a narrower scope, and more horror-focused gameplay. Resident Evil Village evolves that idea to make something that feels very different from its predecessor, but which is just as engaging.

Though the perspective and mechanical underpinnings are the same, Village branches off in its own direction from RE7, capturing some of the things that were great about that game while resisting the impulse to retread the same ground. While it's still frightening at points, it takes a less horror-driven tack on the same underlying first-person formula. Village continues to evolve Resident Evil while maintaining a keen grasp on some of its core tenets, finding new ways (or reviving old ones) of getting under your skin and ratcheting up the tension.

As has been pretty clear for a while now, Resident Evil Village is Resident Evil 7 through the lens of Resident Evil 4. When the latter was released way back in 2005, it significantly revamped what the franchise had been up to that point, swapping the earlier games' slower, survival-horror focus for a more fast-paced action approach. RE4 was scary because you were being overwhelmed by enemies, backed into corners, and chased by madmen wielding chainsaws. It traded darkened corridors and jump scares for adrenaline-fueled panic.

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Categories: Games

Biomutant: 20 Questions And Answers

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/05/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: THQ Nordic Developer: Experiment 101 Release: May 25, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Biomutant has the potential to become a hidden gem when it's released on May 25. The long-in-development game offers a wacky blend of open-world exploration, multiple forms of traversal, a deep martial arts combat system, and choice-driven storytelling – all led by your furry, gene-spliced hero. If you’re like me, you probably just want the game to come out already and have seen everything needed to convince you of a purchase.

However, if you still have some lingering questions about Biomutant, I had a chance to sit in on a hands-off gameplay demonstration where I learned new details while getting clarification on some previously revealed features. Here’s a rapid-fire list of information that serves as the final primer for Biomutant before we finally dig in later this month. 

What’s The Story Premise For Biomutant?

We still don't have any extensive plot details, but developer Experiment 101 says Biomutant's story consists of three narrative pillars:

  • The story of who you are and how you came to be in this world. 
  • The fate of Tree of Life, the planet’s primary life-giver, which has been corrupted by a seeping oil as well as four destructive entities known as the World Eaters. 
  • The Tribe War, the conflict between the game’s six factions. 
How Do You Create Your Character? 

Crafting your furry critter begins by choosing one of six breeds: Primal, Dumdon, Rex, Hyla, Fip, and Murgel. Each reflects the game’s six tribes and sports inherent traits and advantages. Hyla, for example, is a resilient breed built for absorbing more damage than the other types.

As you can see above, breeds have six stats: Vitality, Strength, Intellect, Charisma, Agility, and Luck. As you tinker with your build, you’ll also see your character physically change shape to provide a visual representation of your choice. Strength-focused builds create a barrel-chested mutant while more agile heroes appear thinner. 

Next, you’ll choose a genetic resistance. The four in question are Heat, Cold, Biohazard, and Radioactivity and correspond with biomes of the same type (more on that later). You’ll upgrade your resistances as you progress, but you can get a head start by either dumping your initial points into one resistance or spreading them among the four. 

Now it’s time to choose how your appearance. A slider changes fur’s pattern and colors, from the ordinary to the exotic (e.g. bright neon-purple). You can change your fur anytime by visiting a barber named Trim, so don’t fret too much about getting this part right the first time. 

What Are Biomutant’s Classes? 

Biomutant has 5 classes to choose from. Each comes with a starter skill and a perk. Here’s a simple breakdown of each:

  • Dead-Eye: More or less considered the “all-around” class. Perfect reload skill allows ranged weapons to be reloaded instantly
  • Commando: An elite soldier that deals additional ranged damage. Ideal for gun-focused combat
  • Psi-Freak: Boasts psionic powers like shooting lightning balls and increased energy regen
  • Saboteur: Stealth focused with a dual-wielding melee skill and increased evasion 
  • Sentinel: Tanks that have increased base armor
How Is The World Divided? 

Biomutant’s expansive world consists of 7 biomes, some more hospitable than others. Certain areas are very cold or very hot. Others are radioactive or lack oxygen. These environmental effects will gradually damage players that haven’t built up the appropriate resistances. In addition to what’s above-ground, Biomutant also features an entire underground sewer network that can be explored as well. 

How Do You Survive Within Biomes?

You'll need to upgrade your resistance using skill points. The higher your resistance to a certain element, the longer you can endure the corresponding environment. Achieving 100-percent resistance allows you to explore a zone penalty-free. You can also equip protective gear. For example, the demo showed the player piloting a mech suit to survive within the oxygen-free Dead Zone. 

What’s Aura?

Aura is essentially a karma system. Biomutant features choice-driven gameplay and storytelling, and your decisions fall into the light or dark side of the spectrum. Despite how it appears, Experiment 101 stresses there are no “right” or “wrong” choices. Aura is more about your style of approach to situations rather than the morality of it. Your Aura changes throughout the game depending on which direction you lean. Talking to NPCs of similar or opposing Aura’s will yield different interactions and, thus, various results. 

So Does That Mean There Are Multiple Endings? 

Sure does. Biomutant’s main story campaign features two major endings based on your decisions and how you deal with the four World Eaters. In addition to that, the Tribe War can wrap up in several different ways depending on what group you choose to ally with and how you interact with the other tribes. 

How Much Do NPCs Matter? 

Very much. In addition to giving out quests, characters can also point players towards hidden dungeons and other secrets. Go out of your way to talk to everyone you see. 

What Else Is There To Do In The World?

We still don’t know everything Biomutant’s world has to offer, but you can seek out landmarks such as Lumen Shrines, Old World Vaults, and Old World Storages, among other side excursions. These areas come in sets. For example, there are six Lumen Shrines and finding them all unlocks a secret reward. You can also find notice boards posting additional side activities. 

What’s An Automaton?

Automatons are tiny, grasshopper-like robots you collect. They’re used to scout the world to find hidden rewards or even new sidequests. 

Are There Puzzles?

Yes. Experiment 101 only showed off a strange rotating lock puzzle, but that’s only one of several different types of puzzles players will encounter. 

How Do You Craft Weapons/Gear?

Weapons are assembled from parts and ingredients salvaged while exploring. Guns and melee weapons consist of components ranging from traditional scopes to random junk such as a trumpet horn. Weapons come with a fixed moveset of combo attacks, and you can also assign elemental effects such as fire and ice. Experiment 101 says there are 200 million possible combinations for ranged weapons alone. 

Also, you can craft anything at any time within the menu; you don’t have to visit a workbench. 

But There Are Workbenches, Right?

Yes, but they’re only used for upgrading your equipment.

Do Weapons Degrade Over Time?

Nope. Weapons and equipment do not degrade or break. 

How Do Loadouts Work?

A loadout includes your equipped weapons and armor. Players can create up to five different loadouts. Best of all, you can swap between each on the fly with just a button press. 

Is There A Photo Mode?

There is! Experiment 101 just announced that Biomutant has its own photo mode. It looks and functions exactly how you’d expect, but the bizarre creatures and flashy weapon effects should lend to some eye-catching images. 

Is There Any Kind of Multiplayer Element?

Negative. Biomutant is an entirely single-player experience. 

 Will There Be Post-Launch Content?

Other than improving any issues stemming from player feedback, Experiment 101 currently has no plans to add any post-launch content. However, the studio stresses that doesn’t mean it won’t ever add more content. For now, though, its focus is on polishing up the base game.

Are There Microtransactions?

In addition to Biomutant’s five classes, a sixth class, The Mercenary, will be available as a pre-order bonus. This class will also be sold individually (but not until some time after launch). Beyond that, however, Experiment 101 confirms Biomutant will have no microtransactions of any kind. 

Will Biomutant Ever Come To PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X?

Biomutant is slated for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Experiment 101 says a native PS5/Xbox Series X version won’t be available "at launch".  It hasn't confirmed or denied that a current-gen version will ever happen, however. We'll just have to wait and see. 

 

For more on Biomutant, you can watch us take a tour of its combat and exploration in this episode of New Gameplay Today. We also have a video taking a look at the character creator

Are you pretty much sold on Biomutant at this point or will you be waiting for reviews before taking the plunge? Let us know in the comments! 

Categories: Games

Total War: Rome Remastered Review -- Et Tu, Total War?

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 18:56

The enemy outnumbers us two-to-one and reinforcements are still days away. The raucous Gaul army is at our gates, baying for blood; each enemy soldier is coated in white and blue war paint and a select few operate battering rams that'll plough through our modest wooden defenses in a matter of minutes. The scent of death is in the air and we've got no choice but to stand our ground and fight. "One of you is worth any number of them," bellows our general, shattering the tense silence with an impassioned war cry. "We face adversity, a band of brothers, dedicated to the warrior's code of strength and victory," he continues, rallying the troops. "But we will never know defeat while we stand together! This day we add another triumph to the history of our people! We will be honored as men!"

Whether you go on to achieve victory or succumb to overwhelming odds, moments like this are part of what made Rome: Total War such a beloved strategy game when it launched in 2004--and why its popularity still persists today. It put Total War on the map and laid the groundwork for what has since become a blockbuster series in the strategy genre. With Total War: Rome Remastered, developer Feral Interactive has updated Creative Assembly's seminal title by overhauling the visuals and adding a number of quality of life improvements that make it slightly more appealing for modern sensibilities. Under the hood, however, this is still very much the same game as it was back in 2004, for better or worse.

Total War: Rome Remastered hasn't messed with this engaging setup, although you can now play as the other 15 factions without having to unlock them first--unless you'd prefer to do it the old-fashioned way by defeating each faction during the campaign as one of the Romans. When it comes to upgrades, the most obvious ones are visual, with improved lighting and more detailed terrain making both the battlefields and world map pop with added vibrancy. Environments are still overly sparse, which does make battles fairly lackluster to watch unless elephants are hurling soldiers 30 feet in the air, and the updated units aren't nearly as impressive either, falling some way short of the graphical fidelity we're used to seeing in modern Total War games. As a trade-off, however, Total War: Rome Remastered does feature an experimental "Extreme" setting for unit sizes, allowing you to partake in chaotic battles with an overwhelming number of forces, provided your hardware can handle it. Though loading times are still lengthy no matter which unit size you choose--even if you're running the game off an SSD--which can make the campaign fairly laborious at times.

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Categories: Games

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion Review - A Leek to the Past

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/29/2021 - 18:21

You might be relieved to learn Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion isn’t really about avoiding your financial responsibility to society. There’s no book-keeping, no audits, no lurking threat of a visit from the IRS. Instead, the act of tax evasion is a mere prelude, an unlikely catalyst for a rollicking and increasingly silly pastiche of the action/adventure genre.

Less concerned with ripping off fellow citizens and more with pilfering tropes from the Legend of Zelda, Turnip Boy is shameless about the source of its obvious inspiration. Within minutes from the start of the game, the village elder has dispatched you on a quest and you’ve retrieved a mystical sword from a sun-dappled forest grove. But it borrows and parodies familiar elements with an affection and exuberance that sweeps you along in a giddy rush for the entirety of its short but sweet duration.

Gallery

With Turnip Boy’s fiscal failure exposed in the opening scene, the town mayor channels Tom Nook by setting a quest that will allow you to pay off your debt and eventually inherit the family home. His demands are ludicrous from the get-go and seemingly untethered from your ultimate goal. But rather than leaving you annoyed at having to run some pointless errands, each new task only compounds the absurdity in amusing new ways. Really? That’s why you needed a laser pointer? You’ve got to be kidding me.

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Categories: Games

Returnal Review - Live Die Repeat

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/29/2021 - 13:00

Returnal is a hard game to pin down. On the one hand, it is very much a pastiche of existing game genres: Play one run and you will see how it very clearly draws elements from roguelikes, Souls-likes, metroidvanias, action-platformers, bullet hell shooters, and horror games. But while it borrows from all those genres, its unique flow ensures that its chaotic shooting galleries and creepy storytelling feel decidedly new. A shifting, but not jarring pace, an unpredictable narrative, tough-as-nails gameplay, and a constant sense of ambient terror--Returnal's many moving parts coalesce into a rare shooter that grabs you with its mechanics and its story and never lets go, seducing you with its challenges and a foreboding sense of dread every step of the way.

When you start Returnal, interstellar scout Selene Vassos crash-lands on an alien planet, Atropos, which is broadcasting a mysterious signal. Stranded, Selene makes some startling discoveries on the planet, including the game's titular trait: When she dies, Selene "returns" to the site of the crash, seemingly unharmed. To explain much more would give away too much: You want to know as little about Returnal and its story as you can going in.

Yes, "return" is in the name, which is a not-subtle-not to Returnal’s run-based structure. It falls into the broader definition of a roguelite--Selene starts each run from the crash site but holds a few key upgrades and one of two in-game currencies from run to run. Everything else, including her weapon, "artifacts" that provide passive upgrades, and consumables like healing items disappear with each death. Selene wanders through the procedurally arranged and populated landscapes of Atropos hoarding gear, upgrading her health and weapon level (called proficiency), and gunning down the planet's strange-looking, tentacle-wiggling creatures, all of which want you dead.

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Categories: Games

New Pokemon Snap Review – A Blast From The Past

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 04/28/2021 - 14:00

The Nintendo 64's Pokemon Snap has held a special place in my heart for over 20 years, partially because there's nothing else quite like it in the Pokemon franchise. Pokemon Snap has nothing to do with catching or battling with Pokemon, and humans aren't at the heart of its story. Instead, Snap has always been about the joy of discovery and uncovering the secrets of the Pokemon world without interfering with it. Its long-lasting charm has stemmed in part from emulating one of the greatest joys of photography: witnessing and capturing moments it felt like you weren't supposed to see, like a group of Charmander performing a synchronized dance inside a volcano. 20 years later, that same charm and mystique is present in New Pokemon Snap on Nintendo Switch. With even more courses and Pokemon to discover, New Pokemon Snap is a brand-new adventure that's absolutely delightful to embark on, incorporating newer generations of Pokemon and stunning environments that feel truly alive.

Like the first game, New Pokemon Snap opens with you, a budding photographer, joining up with a Pokemon professor to snap some photos for his research. The mystery at the heart of the game is quickly introduced--Professor Mirror is investigating a strange Illumina phenomenon that's causing some Pokemon in the Lental region to glow, and you're here to catch it in action and discover its source. This sets up an overarching story--something that wasn't present in the first game--that slowly unfolds as you explore each island. The story itself isn't particularly deep and feels somewhat half-baked, but having the narrative reasons for continuing to explore each island does help progression feel natural and well-paced. Charming voice-acted cutscenes with Professor Mirror and the research team help draw you in and add to the overall presentation.

What you're really here for, though, are the new courses, which you explore in a pod-like vehicle known as the NEO-ONE. These take you through all sorts of natural Pokemon environments, from thick jungles to vast deserts and underwater caverns. Though some of them are thematically similar to courses that were present in the 1999 game, such as the beach level, New Pokemon Snap also takes you to brand-new environments. These feature a mix of Pokemon from all eight generations existing in their natural habitats. Each environment is full of life, with something happening in nearly every direction you look--it's almost a sensory overload the first time you load up a course. The thrill of discovery is still at the heart of its gameplay--that incredible feeling of spotting your favorite Pokemon out of the blue and snapping about 20 quickfire shots of it that all turn out terrible because you were just so excited and weren't ready for it. Whether you're photographing a Pokemon that burst out in front of you or zooming in to take a shot of one that's hidden in the distance, the sense of wonder and constant anticipation of what you'll see next in New Pokemon Snap is exhilarating.

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Categories: Games

Everything You Need To Know About The Demon Slayer Video Game

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 22:58

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: CyberConnect2 Release: 2021 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Demon Slayer’s overwhelming popularity has skyrocketed it into the shonen big leagues where anime like Dragon Ball, One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, and Naruto have dwelled for ages. Vivid art that employs traditional 2D as well as stunning 3D animations, sweeping/emotional battle themes, and tight story-pacing paired with an ensemble of diverse personalities (I mean, have you seen the character designs?!) sets Demon Slayer apart from its action-adventure contemporaries. Add in the unprecedented success of the Mugen Train movie, and you’ve got a true cultural phenomenon on your hands. But did you know that there’s a video game in the works too? 

Demon Slayer: The Video Game is being developed by CyberConnect2, the studio behind the prolific Naruto fighting game franchise and Dragonball Z: Kakarot. If you take a look at the gameplay footage above, you can get a better understanding of how in-game battles will play out. A tag battle mode is also being planned, where you’ll be able to compete against the AI or other players using various character combinations. The classic Ultimate Ninja Storm formula is on display – choose a character and select an arena to fight in. Flashy combos and swift evasion mechanics that employ the beautiful art style from the anime help give the game its extra visual flair. And, of course, there are some pretty cool finisher cinematics too; Nezuko’s is particularly impressive. 

But what of the story, and how will it fit into the expansive Demon Slayer universe? A single player campaign has been confirmed and will primarily follow the events from the first season. This means that you’ll be able to relive some of the series’ most tantalizing conflicts - from the Tsuzumi Mansion arc to Tanjiro’s fateful encounter with Rui. While I was hoping for an enticing sandbox to roam around in (a guy’s gotta dream, right?), I am excited to see how the anime/manga story beats transfer over. 

A lesser-known “asymmetrical survival action game” for mobile devices called Demon Slayer: Blood-Stench Blade Royale was also delayed indefinitely to give the dev team (completely separate from CyberConnect2) more time to polish the project. Details surrounding this title are scarce, but the fact that Demon Slayer will be soon be playable on the small and big screen is testament to its relevance.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                            

I spent all of my Fall 2019 waiting for the weekly Demon Slayer episodes to drop on Crunchyroll. And even though the game’s release is still faroff, I can’t wait to play through Season 1 for myself. Demon Slayer: The Video Game will launch on current and last-gen consoles, as well as PC, in Japan at some point this year. As of yet, a western release period has not been unveiled. 

If you're a Demon Slayer fan, stay tuned for my impressions of the Mugen Train film!

Categories: Games

Apex Legends Season 9 Preview – Living On Cloud Nine

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 16:00

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: Respawn Entertainment Release: February 4, 2019 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), March 9, 2021 (Switch) Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Apex Legends Season 9 is titled “Legacy,” and for good reason. Weeks ago, Respawn Entertainment promised a ton of Titanfall content, and the fruits of their labor could seemingly pay off in dividends. I spent some time rocketing into the heavens as Valkyrie, winning (and losing) in the new Arenas game mode, dying to the devastating Bocek Bow, and exploring Olympus’ new features when I wasn’t busy being pinned down by Spitfire LMGs. I’ve been playing Apex Legends since its surprise announcement, so I’m always eager to see how the development team revolutionizes its infectious formula. Season 9 is set to be an exciting new shift for the popular battle royale.

Who’s Valkyrie? Is She A Big Deal?

Valkyrie is Apex Legends' most Titanfall-adjacent playable character; she’s the daughter of Viper, an incomparable pilot and a member of the notorious Apex Predator mercenary unit. In Titanfall 2, protagonist Jack Cooper played an important role in the ultimate fate of Viper. Many years later, Valkyrie decides to enter the Apex Games in memory of her father’s legendary legacy. But is she fun to play? Absolutely.

I loved taking to the skies as Valkyrie. Her kit is similar to Pharah from Overwatch in that you’ll spend most of your time maneuvering at high altitudes to find solid high ground. However, your greatest strength is also a particularly deadly weakness. Airspace travel also makes you an easy target for snipers and just about anybody else that has above-average aim. I mean, we’ve all been practicing our accuracy on Horizon these past few seasons. 

Valkyrie can fire missiles at her enemies, dealing a decent amount of damage but, more importantly, stunning them for a short amount of time. Her ultimate – a visually stunning redeploy that even her squad can capitalize on – is also pretty awesome to say the least. Here’s a quick tip: if you play with a premade squad, consider making your Valkyrie player the shot-caller as she can spot enemy positions and advantageous rotations with an all-encompassing perspective. 

Ultimately, I don’t think that Valkyrie will shift the ranked meta in any substantial ways (at least, not like Horizon did back in Season 7), but you’ll definitely see a lot of her in casual play. 

What’s Arenas? Is It Any Good?

Arenas brings another competitive experience to Apex Legends, and I love it. If you’re tired of third-parties, then hop into Arenas where you’ll be pitted against one other squad in small- to medium-scaled maps specially made for the fast-paced game mode. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Arenas is that each player will have to purchase their equipment with crafting materials before every round. This means that you’ll need to micromanage your inventory quite often and decide what’s most important to you: myriad healing items, charged-up abilities, or kitted weapons. 

With the ring slowly pushing firefights to specific choke locations and the complete absence of respawn points, rounds went by quickly (unless, I ran into an absolute beast that could clutch 1v3s like a pro). I enjoyed Arenas so much because of how Apex Legends’ fluid combat mechanics and strategy-focused loop were masterfully translated into compact engagements. Strategizing with teammates on what to buy each round made for some truly rewarding wins. Often I would ask less-mobile players to spend most of their crafting materials on shield cells and syringes so that our dps all-star could prioritize high-tier firearms. Solo-queueing in casual matches is understandable, but Arenas appropriately emphasizes team play.

How About The Bocek Bow? Is It Worth Using?

I was downright awful with the Bocek Bow. It took me a while to get half-decent with the wingman (I’m inconsistent with the popular hand canon, at best), but the bow will likely take me even longer to reach amateur proficiency. Nevertheless, the latest weapon to join the loot pool is a force to be reckoned with. 

The Bocek Bow is optimal at medium-range and can shred shield and flesh health bars alike. Of course, if your accuracy with non-automatic weapons is as mediocre as mine, you’ll really have to time your shots. Arrows are a new ammo type that can be found alongside the items you’re used to picking up, but, to prevent the bow from becoming too powerful, it’ll be a less common spawn. A small quality-of-life feature that players will appreciate is that arrows get lodged in whatever surface that they hit. This means that your success rate of striking enemies won’t permanently affect your ammo reserves. If you miss, simply retrieve the arrow from whatever structure it’s punctured. And if you eliminate someone, swipe it from their deathbox. 

Moreover, if a charged arrow hits its intended target it has the potential to swing the win condition in your favor. Add in two exciting hop-up attachments – the Deadeye’s Tempo which increases your draw speed when firing in a perfect rhythm (yes, I know this is a very abstract explanation but you’ll have to discover that optimal tempo for yourself) and Shatter Caps that make arrows shoot in a spread, shotgun-like pattern – and you have a devastating secondary weapon that can execute at multiple ranges. I can’t wait to see the incredible Bocek Bow highlight reels come early May. 

Where Will Season 9 Take Place? Are There Cool Map Changes?

Strap in because we’re going back to Olympus, baby! I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted in Apex’s classic battle royale mode, but the geographical tweaks that have been planned will change the flow of your matches in significant ways. For one, a lot of those terrifying open grasslands have been replaced with the massive stems of an ancient parasitic plant. You see, a space vessel called the Icarus has landed on Olympus and the mysterious research specimen that it was carrying has planted roots in the arena. New points of interest have been unearthed and a few redeploy balloons have been removed to help eradicate an overabundance of pesky third-party scenarios. The most exciting change, however, comes in the form of keycards that can be grabbed from the decaying bodies of scientists who worked on the Icarus. These keycards can be used to open a high security section of the ship that houses a bevy of rare loot. Think vaults from World’s Edge but with pockets of interesting lore sprinkled in. 

Are you excited for the new content? Apex Legends Season 9 launches on May 4, meaning that Season 8 is coming to a close in almost no time at all. If you’re still struggling to reach that projected wins-threshold or if you’re trying to get one rank closer to Apex Predator, check out my definitive guide

Categories: Games

6 Things We Learned About Neo: The World Ends With You

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: July 27, 2021 (PlayStation 4, Switch), 2021 (PC) Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

Fans of The World Ends With You have waited 14 years for a sequel, and their patience will finally be rewarded this June with the launch of Neo: The World Ends With You. The game takes place three years after the events of the original cult classic and introduces a new protagonist in Rindo, a revamped Reapers' Game, and reimagines the original's 2D combat and exploration into a new 3D style. What hasn't changed is the series' stylish art direction and soundtrack, scored once again by composer Takeharu Ishimoto. 

We’ve been chomping at the bit to learn more about what Neo entails, so we sat down with the dev team at Square Enix to glean more info about the anticipated follow-up. Here’s 6 things we learned about Neo: The World Ends With You.

You Command All Team Members Simultaneously

The biggest difference between the Reapers' Game in Neo compared to the original is that it's team-focused. Multiple squads will battle it out in order to climb the rankings and become the top team of the Reapers' Game. Meanwhile, the group that places last will be erased from existence.

In combat, players control their entire squad, the Wicked Sisters, simultaneously with each character assigned to a specific button. This setup should sound familiar to fans of titles like Valkyrie Profile or Indivisible. Hitting a button causes the assigned character to attack, but players can also press multiple buttons at the same time to unleash combination attacks. 

Note my repeated use of the word “button”. Unlike the original, which was controlled using a touchscreen, Neo: The World Ends With You has no touch controls whatsoever, even on Switch. You’ll be controlling Rindo and his Wicked Sisters using good old fashioned buttons and analog sticks.

Most Of The Pins Are Brand New

Neo’s arsenal of pins is largely made up of all-new abilities. Expect these powers to be as over-the-top as the previous batch; one of these, Angelic Kick, allows players to deliver a powerful aerial kick that can send opponents careening into walls. The other two pins Square has confirmed are Azamaru, a flaming sword slash, and Glacial Getaway, which allows players to raise a pillar of ice underneath foes. 

That said, fans can also look forward to finding reworked versions of pins from the first game. Though they’ll retain their same general function, pins like Entanglement and Flame Blast have been recreated in the 3D style. 

Shibuya Is Closer To Life-Size And Has New Side Quests

The switch to full 3D means that Shibuya is much bigger and closer to scale to its real-life counterpart. It also now includes the Harajuku district. Even though Neo's story takes place just three years after the first game, in reality, Shibuya has changed even more in the 14 years since the last game released. Thus, the visual design of the city reflects those changes. 

Neo’s expanded scope also allows the development team to implement features it couldn’t add in the first game. These include side missions that involve solving the problems of Shibuya’s residents. We still don’t know what entails exactly, but we do know that the game is still mission-based as a whole. You’ll just have some more involved activities to occupy yourself in between main story beats.

You Can't Control Rindo’s Replay Ability

Rindo and his pals each possess a specific psychic ability. Rindo's power is Replay, which allows him to turn back time and re-do certain actions in order to, hopefully, create better outcomes. This power only appears during scripted moments; it is not an at-will ability. Additionally, Rindo can only use Replay once per day. Since the Reapers' Game takes place over the course of a week, players should expect to see this power on display at least seven times. It'll be interesting to see the narrative ramifications, which Square isn't divulging just yet. 

There's No Co-Op

Although the Switch port of The World Ends With You introduced a cooperative element, Neo will not have any sort of multiplayer element whatsoever

Neku Has A Signficant Presence

The most recent trailer for Neo teased the return of Neku, the protagonist of the previous game. Fans have been speculating about how big of a role he'll play in the game, and we learned that Neku's involvement will be larger than a mere cameo appearance. Naturally, Square isn’t spilling the beans on what that means exactly, only describing his role as "important" and that he appears in a “very ideal way”. That said, don’t expect Neku to steal the spotlight from Rindo and his teammates. Square reiterates that the Wicked Sisters are very much the focal point of Neo’s story.

Neo: The World Ends With You launches June 27 for PlayStation 4 and Switch and comes to PC at some point later this year. How do you think the game is shaping up so far? Let us know in the comments! 

Categories: Games

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