Games

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Review — Personnel Problems

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 11/05/2021 - 01:00

Call of Duty games can sometimes contradict themselves. The franchise dictates that each new game has a specific feel--things like quick kill times and consistent approaches to movement and weapons, and campaigns that mix a large sense of scale with an individual intensity of battle. Call of Duty: Vanguard maintains all of these things, but it also strains under the formula. There are times when Call of Duty's underlying elements seem to hold it back, like in its single-player campaign. Other times, like with some of its multiplayer offerings, it takes useful steps forward in unifying ideas that push the series forward, albeit incrementally. Overall, though, the Call of Duty formula makes Vanguard feel uneven. It climbs to some excellent heights, but stumbles often along the way.

Vanguard returns to World War II but takes a fictionalized, exaggerated approach to the conflict. It puts you in the shoes of four veteran heroes as they come together to form the first modern special forces team. The story can be a bit cartoonish at times--it feels like Call of Duty's take on something like The Expendables, as it brings together a team of unkillable action heroes, but it's also fitting for a game where you single-handedly kill hundreds of enemies in each mission. These folks are the best of the best, and the story takes you through flashbacks for each one, establishing why they're the best, and then letting them work together to hijack a Nazi train and smash a Nazi base.

Your special forces team is heading to Berlin near the end of the war, hoping to gain intelligence about a secret program before the Nazis bury it ahead of the Red Army's approach. The team you play is matched by super-evil Nazis on the opposite side (Lord of the Rings' Dominic Monaghan as a wormy Nazi nerd is particularly fun to hate), and most of the game is framed as a series of interrogations after the bad guys capture the heroes. It's notable how much time Vanguard spends on cutscenes and character development, in fact. Creating memorable characters and leaning into storytelling is an area the franchise has often struggled with, and much of what makes the campaign fun is how hard Vanguard goes on building your team: it's all character, all the time. That helps keep the story from getting disjointed as it leaps around both the timeline of the war and the globe, dropping you in major battles so you can see how each character got to where you find them.

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Categories: Games

Shin Megami Tensei V Review - The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 11/04/2021 - 14:00

Everybody has their bad days. One moment you're walking home from school, and the next thing you know, the class jackass has dragged you and your friends into the Biblical apocalypse while trying to create the next hit viral video. And then you wind up sharing a body with a supernatural warrior, trying to survive among the demonic forces roaming a ruined Tokyo long enough to figure out what the hell is going on.

At least, that's how things go in the world of Shin Megami Tensei V, the latest numbered incarnation in Atlus's long-running RPG series where, once again, Tokyo has found itself at the epicenter of a global demonic apocalypse. Naturally, you're the person who can change the fate of humans and demons alike. Will you fight with the forces of Heaven to spread holy Law across the land, embrace the might and freedom of the forces of Chaos, or walk a neutral path? No matter what choices you make, your journey won't be an easy one--but it will be very rewarding.

You begin Shin Megami Tensei V as a simple student, but it's not long before you're standing amongst a ruined Tokyo, watching angels spiriting away your buddies and being beset upon by supernatural beings. A strange demon offers you his power for protection, and you fuse with him, becoming the Nahobino--a human/demon hybrid with the potential to wield godlike powers. The keyword being "potential," since your life is now hell on earth, quite literally: Almost every single god or demon from humanity's collective belief systems is now running amok in what was once a bustling metropolis. As a result, you'll need to carefully pick your allies and call them to your aid--as well as manage your own abilities--in order to survive in vicious turn-based combat to become the almighty being you are meant to be.

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Categories: Games

Call of Duty: Vanguard Zombies & Campaign | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 11/04/2021 - 13:00

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Publisher: Activision Developer: Sledgehammer Games Release: November 5, 2021 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

It's that time of year again. A new entry in the Call of Duty series is nearly here, and with its release comes the familiar questions of whether or not fans should pick up the latest entry in the annualized series. We set out to answer that question on these fresh episodes of New Gameplay Today, focused on Call of Duty: Vanguard's zombie and campaign modes!

It is important to keep in mind what is going on within Activision Blizzard at this time regarding ongoing allegations about the work culture. The ongoing lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against the company is over reported toxic workplace culture. The bulk of the suit focuses on "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws," specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please check out our previous coverage here.

Join Dan Tack, Wes LeBlanc, and Alex Stadnik in NGT number one, where we get a peek into what the new zombie-slaying experience will entail. Vanguard takes a different approach instead of the classic round-based method that put the series on the map. Teams of four begin in a hub world and choose what objective-based missions they want to embark on. Whether it's classic escort, survival, or gathering objectives, each new round felt exciting and varied as our team fought for survival and upgrade points. When you finally succeed in a match, you return to the hub world, where you again will have to fight for your right to safety against the undead Nazi scourge. These changes, along with a plethora of other intelligent adjustments, have led to some of the most fun we've had with the game and have been the package's highlight so far.

The same can't be said of the campaign, however. In the second New Gameplay Today, the same crew is back to detail the highs and lows of the latest Call of Duty campaign. While the game features a genuinely wondrous level of graphical fidelity, the Michael Bay comparisons are rife in Vanguard and not always for the better. While there are some aspects to enjoy, we were disappointed in how uninteresting the story can be at points. The familiar feelings of "been there, done that" throughout the numerous shooting galleries don't help the game's cause.

If you enjoyed these looks at Vanguard's campaign and zombie modes, be sure to check out our look at the multiplayer earlier this year and keep an eye out for our review of the latest entry in the Call of Duty franchise!

Categories: Games

Forza Horizon 5 Review - It's About Four-Wheeled Family

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 11/04/2021 - 07:01

For all the luxury cars that Forza Horizon 5 has to offer, the one I kept coming back to was an old Volkswagen Beetle, lovingly called a "Vocha" by the Mexican locals. It was a reward for a lengthy string of challenges, all taking liberties with what the recognizable but otherwise unremarkable car could be with the right love and care. More than that, it became a special car because of what it meant to one of the main characters in Forza Horizon 5's more personal story missions, letting her recount a love of racing that stemmed from her grandfather's adventures with this very vehicle. This single chapter encapsulates not only why the Horizon series has endured, but how developer Playground Games keeps thoughtfully iterating on it. It's not just about the familiar high-octane racing, it's also about the stories that people and their cars can tell, and what it means to those who continue that legacy.

These moments accentuate a more personal campaign that gives your created driver more of a voice than previous entries, increasing the conversations between its ensemble of racing-hungry characters while also giving plenty of opportunities for its new locale to be explored outside of the Horizon Festival. Forza Horizon 5 doesn't replace anything with this shift in focus, but instead delivers another stellar open-world racing experience that delicately balances arcade sensibilities with the series' simulation roots. Mexico is one of the best regions the series has visited thus far, too, offering a stunning backdrop to each race while also providing varied surfaces and landmarks to make each one feel special.

While the pristine countryside of Britain might have been a bit too sterile for the ridiculous nature of the globe-trotting Forza Festival, Mexico fits right in. Like the Australian outback in Forza Horizon 3, Playground Games turns the map into a tasting menu for all of the features the country has to offer, from densely-packed cities to barren sand dunes and sun-kissed coastlines. The transition from one hub to another feels natural as you zip around the map, but the visual variety that each one offers gives each corner of the map personality in a way that the series was missing in its last outing.

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Categories: Games

Riders Republic Review - National Lark

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 11/03/2021 - 20:22

Variety is Riders Republic's strength, not just in terms of the multitude of extreme sports on offer, but also in the sheer breadth and diversity of its environments. One minute you might be shredding down the treacherous slopes near Grand Teton national park's highest peak, while in the next you're paragliding above a 1,000ft tall rock formation as Les Ukuleles Girls' horrid cover of "Gangsta's Paradise" provides the soundtrack. There's so much to see and do, and no one would blame you for recoiling at the sight of another massive open-world Ubisoft game featuring a sprawling map littered with dozens and dozens of icons. Yet Riders Republic never feels as overwhelming as other open-world games. It's not quite as chill as Steep--developer Ubisoft Annecy's previous game--but it has a similarly hands-off style that rewards you for playing how you want to.

Whether that means challenging yourself, only partaking in certain events, or anything else in between--the choice is entirely up to you. Riders Republic consists of five careers: bike races, bike tricks, snow races, snow tricks, and air races. If you don't like any of these activities, you don't have to do them, and the game doesn't punish you for skipping them. You might not fancy strapping a rocket-powered wingsuit to your back and using it to skim cliff faces in the name of winning a race, and it doesn't matter; if you're only interested in hurtling through a verdant forest on a mountain bike, narrowly avoiding trees as you go, Riders Republic will still keep rewarding you with new events and unlocks in that specific corner of the game. This freedom permeates throughout every inch of the rest of the game, too, from each snow-covered slope to every oily gear chain.

In order to progress, you need to earn stars, with each event rewarding a single star just for completion, whether you finish in first or last place. This feels like a strange decision at first since it seemingly robs the game of any stakes or sense of competition. This casual approach might suit you, and that's fine, but for anyone who's after a challenge or an incentive to outperform the rest of the field, each event's optional objectives provide one, giving you another way to earn additional stars in the process. These objectives might ask you to win a race on the highest difficulty level, rack up a specific score during a trick event, or collect balloons scattered along the course. Some of these are relatively easy to achieve, while others are significantly harder and challenge your skill level. Whether you engage with them or not is, once again, up to you. There are enough events and stars to go around that you're going to progress and unlock more either way, so it all comes down to how you want to approach the moment-to-moment gameplay.

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Categories: Games

Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars Review - Cards Against Humanity

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 11/02/2021 - 19:03

Yoko Taro is a weirdo. Don't just take my word for it--the man himself has said as much with game development presentations on making "weird games for weird people"--and there's a certain level of subversion and existential terror that permeates everything he touches. This is certainly the case with Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, a somewhat surprising game to make after the smash-hit success that was Nier: Automata. But this is Yoko Taro, and this choice is itself a subversion. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars takes the writer-director's signature style and adapts it for a role-playing game that retains just enough classic role-playing elements to keep it approachable.

Taro is listed as creative director in Voice of Cards' credits, and though he actually isn't listed as the game director--suggesting he may have taken a less hands-on approach to its creation--its narrative beats and visual style certainly have his influence all over them. You play as an aspiring adventurer joined by a ragtag group of would-be heroes hoping to slay a dangerous dragon, beat a stuck-up group of nobles looking to find the dragon first and get a substantial reward from the local queen. The text's font appears to be the same as in the Nier series, and longtime Taro collaborator Keiichi Okabe returned to compose its music, which is so Nier-y you'd think Voice of Cards was a surprise new entry in the series (it isn't, but I kept waiting for the reveal). The Nier music DLC you can buy is almost redundant, considering how similar it is to what's included in the standard version.

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Categories: Games

Unpacking Review - The Things We Carry

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 11/01/2021 - 17:00

Unpacking gave me the key to remembrance, unlocking corners of my mind where small memories that have subconsciously shaped me are tucked away.

One Christmas I gave both my grandmothers tiny ceramic angel bells with "Grandma" etched in blue ink. They probably cost five bucks each, purchased with my hard-earned allowance. These fell firmly into the category of sentimental and arguably tacky gifts that kids often give to parents and grandparents. They were nothing special then, but they are right above me on my desk shelf as I write this. When each of my grandmothers died--a decade apart--we found those insignificant angel bells prominently displayed in their homes. They went back to me as a keepsake, a reminder that even the smallest gestures of love can mean something big in time. Those angel bells, with progressively fading lettering, have been gently wrapped and kept safe throughout five moves. And no matter where I call home, the angels are next to each other, just a glance away.

Unpacking, a puzzle game of your own memories and psyche, taps into a wide range of emotions. It accomplishes this feat while managing to remain fun and relaxing, with soothing background music and a satisfying loop that gets more detail-oriented as life moves forward (or drags on).

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Categories: Games

Hands-On With Weird West – A Frontier Worth Exploring

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 11/01/2021 - 16:39

Publisher: Devolver Digital Developer: WolfEye Studios Release: January 11, 2022 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Weird West is the upcoming isometric twin-stick shooter from Wolfeye Studios, a relatively new developer headed by former Prey and Dishonored co-creators. It doesn’t take long to feel their immersive sim handprints. In fact, once you’re through the basics of Weird West’s twin-stick shooter action, the same combat scenario experience in games like Dishonored makes an appearance, and it’s a delight. 

Do you go in guns blazing with your shotgun and spray and pray until everyone’s dead? If so, hopefully, you’ve looted some dead coyotes for meat or stocked up on bandages in town. Or do you take a stealthier route? Hopefully, you’ve spotted the poison barrel on the cliff that you can kick onto the enemies below, which damages them and allows you to surprise them with some bullets. 

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Regardless of what you decide to do, combat plays out the same way mechanically. You use either your WASD keys or your left joystick to move around the area and your mouse or right stick to aim a sightline on-screen in classic twin-stick shooter fashion. Different guns have different ranges and damage outputs, and fortunately, switching between them is easy even in the heat of an intense battle. I especially like that Weird West isn’t super generous with ammunition, too, because it forced me to cycle through all the weapons at my disposal quite often.

In my couple of hours with Weird West, it was these combat scenarios that intrigued me most. I began to view them as small puzzles that doubled as opportunities to gun down some local gang members, and in doing so, Weird West’s more immersive sim-nature shined. 

Weird West’s puzzle-like twin-stick shooter combat wasn’t the only thing that piqued my interest. It features a beautiful (lightly) cel-shaded art style that feels especially distinct thanks to Weird West’s three isometric view points – far-out camera angle, a mid-angle, and a close zoom. Its synth-ish music reminded me of John Carpenter’s Halloween, which adds a touch of horror to Weird West’s vibe. 

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The only aspect of Weird West I found slightly lacking was the narrative. Admittedly, I only played a very small portion of the game, so things could change when the full story is open to me. However, right now, the bounty-hunter-coming-out-of-retirement storyline was the blandest part of my time with Weird West. That’s not to say the actual dialogue in-game was rough – I quite enjoyed that, and I liked the side quests presented to me as well. I just wish the overarching narrative was as captivating early on as the rest of the game.

With its distinctive take on the Wild West, which feels like an alternate era where werewolves and the undead were as much a part of everyday life as coyotes and cattle, Weird West is doing a lot to demand my attention, even with a few drawbacks. I’ll have my eye on the game when it releases next year for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on January 11

Will you be checking out Weird West? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories: Games

What We Know About Saints Row Customization

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 10/28/2021 - 17:00

Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Volition Release: February 25, 2022 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

In our talks with Saints Row developer Volition for our most recent cover story, it quickly became apparent that it sees customization as a non-negotiable element of the core Saints Row experience. Ever since the first game came out in 2006, players have customized their character's appearance. Those customization options have only expanded throughout the series' history, growing beyond simply being able to choose how your character looks and sounds.

"Customization is one of the definitive things that Saints Row is known for," chief creative officer at Volition Jim Boone says. "Not just the characters, but even the vehicles. And in Saints Row IV, we introduced weapon customization. It’s extremely woven into the DNA to the degree where I feel like if you don’t have customization, it’s hard to say that you’re a full Saints Row game."

Volition has taken everything to the next level, giving players the power to tweak standard options like eye color and skin tone, add prosthetics to the main character, and even censor your protagonist’s nude body with things like emojis. "We’ve achieved dreams," art director Frank Marquart says. "There were things that we really tried and we could not do on previous titles that we can now do in this game."

While we don’t know precisely what elements of The Boss we’ll be able to customize when Saints Row launches next year, you'll continue to unlock new options for your character, weapons, vehicles, and more. "A target from day one is to be the kings of customization," creative director Brian Traficante says. "We want to give our players all the things they’ve had in the past and more. That’s what we’ve done."

Saints Row may reel in some of the more over-the-top elements of the franchise’s most recent entries, but it has taken the customization elements to new levels. You can create a character anywhere on the gender spectrum, consisting of any race, or even go wild and create a complete monster.

When you participate in another trademark element of Saints Row, cooperative play, all of your customization options carry into the session. "Each co-op player looks exactly how you have customized them when in a co-op session," says Boone. "All the customization options you have entered will be on full display without limited."

On top of character customization, you can tweak other cosmetic elements to tailor the experience. As you progress through the game, you can expect to personalize your vehicles, weapons, and gang. Additionally, as you play through missions and expand the Saints empire, your church headquarters also improves with cosmetic options and visual upgrades.

Volition tells us it has much more to reveal in terms of customization, so we're eagerly anticipating learning all about the ways we can make the protagonist (and the world around them) our own when Saints Row launches on February 25. For more on Saints Row, head to our exclusive coverage hub through the below banner.

Categories: Games

Mario Party Superstars Review - The Fault In Our Stars

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 10/28/2021 - 14:00

My kids had a litany of questions during our first game of Mario Party Superstars. Where, my 12-year-old son asked, was Monty Mole, his favorite character from the last game? Why are there no minigames where you have to waggle the controllers around, my seven-year-old daughter asked? Why are there so few characters to choose from anyway? And why does everyone have the same dice block?

My kids have had a lot of experience with Super Mario Party (the previous game in the series, which was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2018), so these comparisons were inevitable. The newest entry, Mario Party Superstars, is a deliberate embrace of the Mario Party series' early days before motion control gimmicks and twists on its classic game mode became the norm. This is a game that delivers on the core Mario Party experience and is high on nostalgia, but my kids' questions highlighted the trade-off that comes with that approach. In embracing the old, Superstar loses a lot of tweaks and additions that have livened up recent Mario Party games, making Superstars as much of a step back as it is a throwback.

That step back doesn't necessarily mean Mario Party Superstars is a bad game, but it does feel like a dated one. If you've ever played a Mario Party game before, then Superstars will feel instantly familiar thanks to its stripped-back focus on the series' staples: dynamic, shifting boards, a huge selection of fun minigames, and more than a hint of tear-your-hair-out randomness that gives (almost) every game an anything-can-happen feel. Depending on your age, that familiarity may also extend to Superstars' selection of boards and minigames, many of which were taken from the very start of the Mario Party franchise back in the Nintendo 64 and GameCube days.

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Categories: Games

Unsighted Review - Counting The Seconds

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 10/27/2021 - 22:31

Borrowing ideas liberally from numerous inspirations can often lead to games that lack either an identity or a clear focus, and in the worst cases a bit of both. This isn't at all true for Unsighted, a pixelated, top-down metroidvania that combines its many familiar gameplay mechanics into a cohesive adventure that is regularly more than the sum of its parts. It's a remix that also blends gracefully with Unsighted's original ideas, adding the necessary tension to a time-sensitive mission that works both thematically and mechanically. Although it can falter in some areas, especially with its persistence to hold your hand in some regards, it's a tightly paced action game with sharp combat and inventive puzzles that are a delight to enjoy.

Unsighted puts you at the center of a civil war between humans and automatons, a sentient race of robots that gained their self-awareness via magical dust dispersed by a meteor that crashed into earth decades before. This meteor has since been closed off by the humans in a last-ditch effort to rob the automatons of their lives, eventually reducing them to base killing machines without emotion. This process, known as "going Unsighted," is something none of the automatons want and a fate you, playing as freedom-fighter automaton Alma, seek to stop for good.

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This sets off a familiar hunt for a series of MacGuffins--in this case, powerful crystals--across an expansive map, each of which takes place in a distinctive biome with its own inventive dungeon. As you travel through the map, you'll encounter paths locked off by obstacles your current loadout can't overcome, encouraging you to find the tools you need to progress. It's a standard metroidvania trope that will feel immediately familiar, but combined with intricate dungeons, Unsighted breaks up the standard progression with entertaining pit stops and doesn't let you linger on any frustrating backtracking that is required.

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Categories: Games

Pikmin Bloom: Early Impressions

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 10/27/2021 - 01:00

Publisher: Niantic Labs Developer: Niantic Inc., Nintendo Release: October 26, 2021 Platform: iOS, Android

News on Niantic’s latest AR title has been scarce recently. The company first announced the project back in March but has been relatively quiet about the app since. For this iteration of the developer’s familiar formula, the Pokémon Go creator partnered with Nintendo to make the titular creatures in the Pikmin series your walking buddies, and it looks like they’re ready to take their first steps.

The newly titled Pikmin Bloom rolls out in select regions today, with its worldwide release coming in the following days. I took a stroll with the upcoming title recently and got a sense of its early gameplay. So far, Pikmin Bloom feels like a gamified exercise app as opposed to Niantic’s Pokémon Go which feels more like a mobile game that happens to involve walking, and it seems like this is what the creators were going for. Niantic Tokyo Studio director of UX design Madoka Katayama explained in a recent preview event that the game’s goal is to enhance your typical walking experience. So, if you’re already hoofing it to school or work, Pikmin Bloom is there to make your journey more delightful. The app nails the charming feel of the Pikmin series, and the helpful plant-based beings are just as adorable on your smartphone as on Nintendo platforms. Whether that makes its gameplay compelling is still questionable.

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You begin Pikmin Bloom by setting up your avatar, though the range of customization is limited to a few pre-created options. Even before getting into the meat of the experience, it’s easy to see how the game captures the original IP’s pleasant mood. The music is gentle, though upbeat, and the recognizable sounds of the Pikmin are as endearing as ever.   

First, you receive red Pikmin seedlings. By planting them in your special Pikmin-growing backpack and walking the specified amount of steps, you’ll grow fully-formed creatures. If you are a fan of Pokémon Go, this process works a lot like egg incubators. These Pikmin can then follow along with you on your excursions, finding more seedlings or picking up fruits along the way. Harvesting these fruits for nectar allows you to feed your little group some snacks and make the flowers on their head grow, giving you a supply of flower petals.

Flower petals fuel the game’s most unique aspect: planting flowers. When you open the app and have petals on hand, you’re able to turn on flower planting. This will leave a trail of blooms behind you, helping your Pikmin grow faster and marking your path as you wander through the real world. Other players in the game will be able to see these blossoming pathways and add their own flowers. This comes in handy when you come across a giant, unopened flower bud in the game. So far, I’ve seen them appear in places that are also Gyms or Poké Stops in Pokémon Go, and Pikmin Bloom’s version of these locations asks players to plant a certain number of flowers in the designated space around the large, closed bloom to make it blossom.

 

At the end of each day, the app will catalog your daily steps, award achievement badges for things like growing a set amount of Pikmin and give you the option to make a kind of memory log with notes and pictures. Your actions convert into points that help you level up; reaching higher levels grant perks like letting more Pikmin join your active walking squad, unlocking different colored creatures, or gaining a few useful items.

I’ve only had a short time with Pikmin Bloom, but my initial impression is there isn’t much to do, though that might be by design. You are not actively searching for anything, and there’s no combat. In fact, if you connect the game to a fitness app to record your steps in the background, you don’t really have much reason to open the game except to pluck Pikmin out of your backpack or turn on flower planting. It’s entirely possible that might change as you level up, and Niantic has promised a monthly Community Day, which may add more to the gameplay. However, if daily walking is already a part of your routine, or you just want to lead a herd of leafy buddies on a stroll, Pikmin Bloom will add a dose of cheer to your day. The game is out on Android and iOS as a free app in Singapore and Australia today, and the creators promise Pikmin Bloom will release in other regions soon.

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Categories: Games

The Good Life Review - Country House

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/26/2021 - 18:47

The Good Life is exceptionally silly in all the right ways. It's not just the absurd premise: Naomi Hayward is a young photojournalist from New York who has inexplicably run up a personal debt of £30,000,000 and is somehow trying to work it off by uncovering the secret of the sleepy English village of Rainy Woods, where the inhabitants transform into cats and dogs with the full moon.

Of course, that is part of it, but it's also more that The Good Life--part life sim and part detective RPG--takes a gleefully frivolous approach to its every aspect. From the oddball delights of its cast of characters to the increasingly preposterous demands of its relentless fetch quests, there's surprisingly little here that merits being taken seriously--even the central mystery. Naomi may constantly refer to Rainy Woods as a "goddamn hellhole," but she's quick to settle in and soon finds herself caught up in the nonsense, whether she's smashing through barrels on a cross-country pig ride or helping the local butcher perfect his meat pie recipe. With the stakes pitched low, The Good Life carries itself with a breezy, knockabout charm befitting its title.

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Yet despite the abundance of infectious whimsy, there are significant caveats. The quaintly playful tone belies a quest structure that leans heavily into grind, as you scour the countryside for crafting materials and, at times, painfully rare drops. Unassuming tasks, like buying new shoes or making a salad, can require serious up-front investment. Fully exploring The Good Life's myriad systems is a lot of work and the rewards for doing so aren't always as satisfying as you might hope.

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Categories: Games

New World Review In Progress: (Faction) War Never Changes

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/26/2021 - 16:57

It's not everyday a new, big-budget MMORPG arrives, much less one developed by Amazon. In recent years, the MMO genre has largely been forgotten, with only new expansions for the biggest names in the genre to satisfy fans. But back in the mid-to-late 2000s, new MMOs felt like they were a dime a dozen, with game publishers all looking for a piece of the massive pie that Blizzard had carved out for itself starting with vanilla World of Warcraft in 2004.

It's fitting then that New World in many ways feels like it originated from that particular period of gaming history. Old-school in many of its sensibilities, New World is a social, player-versus-player-focused MMO the likes of which largely hasn't been seen since 2001's Dark Age of Camelot. Based on the more than 100 hours I've played so far, there is definitely some enjoyment to be had, particularly for those interested in PvP. Unfortunately, New World is also held back by a largely boring leveling experience and a few particularly annoying design choices that may turn off even the most dedicated MMORPG fans.

The setup of New World is simple: After creating a character, you wash up on the shores of a mysterious uncharted island somewhere in the Atlantic ocean called Aeternum. Turns out, people have been washing up there for thousands of years and are unable to return to their homelands thanks to a mysterious storm surrounding the island. People don't really die, or even age, in Aeternum, but that doesn't mean life is easy. Those who have lived on the island for ages run the risk of becoming soulless husks known as the Lost, or even worse, are in jeopardy of being brainwashed by an ancient evil spreading across the land known as the Corruption. It's up to players to rebuild and lead an order of guardians known as the Soulwardens if Aeternum is to stand a chance against the encroaching darkness. As you embark on your adventure to level 60, you'll gather crafting materials, fight monsters, equip new weapons and armor, complete quests, and level up your character.

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Categories: Games

Darkest Dungeon II | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 20:33

Click to watch embedded media

Publisher: Red Hook Studios Developer: Red Hook Studios Platform: PC

Are you ready to brave ill-lit winding roads and take on misshapen aberrations? Of course you are. So come join us on a caravan ride through an apocalypse in Darkest Dungeon II! Darkest Dungeon II contains some of the same characters and combat from the original title, but it’s an entirely new experience. 

Much has changed, and gone is the peaceful ever-growing hamlet. Instead, you must forge your way with different tools each run, hoping to make your way to the mountain and put an end to an ostensible ancient evil that’s unraveling the entire world. Will we survive? Probably not. But with perseverance, we may just find our way. Come join us for a very early look at Darkest Dungeon II with this episode of New Gameplay Today. Darkest Dungeon II is available on Early Access on PC starting tomorrow.

Categories: Games

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy Review - Shot Through The Heart

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 14:00

I'm a big fan of the "found family" trope. There's something so heartwarming about watching complete strangers finding a place to belong by sticking with each other. It's the basic underlying principle of practically every superhero or vigilante team, including the Guardians of the Galaxy. Developer Eidos-Montréal's Guardians of the Galaxy builds off this premise to deliver an incredible story about what comes after the found family trope. In the game, the family has been found, its forging hinted at in conversations throughout the game's campaign. But as anyone who is a part of a family (found or otherwise) can tell you, forming connections with people isn't the hard part; it's the regular struggle to maintain those bonds that really takes effort. And that's at the heart of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a game that says that a family, once found, is worth fighting for.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy picks up following the creation of the titular team, all of whom have some sort of history with one another. It plays out a lot like developer Insomniac Games' Marvel's Spider-Man in that way--the origin story has already occurred, and the player is now catching up on what the characters already know. Though I can see how this setup could confuse players who aren't familiar with Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax (if you don't know their backstories, you might be confused as to why Drax distrusts Gamora when he is the one who killed her father, for example), this setup ultimately works to the game's benefit. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy regularly moves beyond familiarity, digging into the wonderfully bizarre cosmic side of Marvel's universe, all of which is so absurdly alien.

And yet, it's all very human too, and that's why it works so well. These might not be the Guardians you're familiar with--heck, you might not be familiar with the team at all--but the issues that they're attempting to deal with and overcome are all deeply relatable. The same can be said for the increasingly strange assortment of allies and enemies the Guardians meet. You latch onto their issues and pay attention to them because they're the parts of the story that make the most sense from a human perspective. That, more than anything, captures the sensation of being Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, a human who finds himself regularly exploring a galaxy far removed from the goings-on of Earth, and yet, as an Earthling, is ideally suited for navigating these galactic issues because he can bring out the innate humanity of these aliens.

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Categories: Games

New Gameplay Today — Age of Empires IV

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 08:01

Click to watch embedded media

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Developer: Relic Entertainment Release: October 28, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PC

Age of Empires IV lands this Thursday, but you can join the Game Informer crew today for a look at some huge elephants and a conversation about the iconic real-time strategy franchise right here, today! That’s right, it’s another action-packed episode of New Gameplay today featuring Dan Tack, Alex Stadnik, and John Carson. Come on in and enjoy the show.

Age of Empires IV features eight different civilizations on launch, with many different ways to play each. Whether you want to try some aggressive economic expansion as the Mongols or just build forty farms and sell all your food at the market for cash is up to you. In this video, we make elephants as the Delhi Sultanate, because they crush pretty much everything.

Age of Empires IV is available on PC and Xbox Game Pass for PC this week. Could it ever come to a console environment? Traditionally, RTS has been difficult to move over to console due to the control scheme, but it’s not unheard of.

Categories: Games

Resident Evil 4 VR Review - A Selection Of Good Things, Stranger

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/22/2021 - 21:04

Remember Resident Evil 4's original GameCube case? The one that said "Only For" in the corner? It's hard to imagine now, considering the game has been ported every which way, to the Nokia phone and back. But despite its acclaimed status, all its ports, and the modest visual facelift it has received over the years, one thing remains woefully unchanged and firmly cements Resident Evil 4 in 2005 when it was originally released: those damned tank controls. Even the Wii Edition (the best port of the game, I must say) was shackled by its rigid movement. That is, until Resident Evil 4 VR, which presents the game in its best light since its original release.

Playing through the action-horror classic on the Oculus Quest 2 has given me a feeling I've wanted since first finishing RE4 16 years ago on the GameCube: the sense of experiencing it for the first time all over again. And that feeling is downright awesome.

From the ground up, the game has been meticulously recreated in Unreal Engine 4 in uncanny detail to fully function in VR, and the result is so impressive; it's nothing short of magic. From upscaled textures, to sound effects, and animations, RE4 can now be seen--quite literally--through an entirely new lens. Stepping into the shoes of protagonist and pretty boy Leon S. Kennedy on a mission to save the president's daughter has never felt cooler, nor has the horror representation of eastern Europe ever felt more frightening.

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Categories: Games

How Saints Row Co-Op Works, How It Affects Single-Player

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/22/2021 - 17:00

Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Volition Release: February 25, 2022 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Ever since Saints Row's humble beginnings, cooperative play has been a trademark element of the series. Running around and completing missions with your friends helped distance the series from its open-world counterparts in the games industry, and the feature set has only grown more robust over the years.

"We had done multiplayer in Saints Row 1, and we did multiplayer in Saints Row 2 as well, and that was, almost like the tiniest kernel of what GTA Online came to be – they just knocked it out of the park with anything that we attempted back then, of course," chief creative officer at Volition Jim Boone says. "The big imagination we had was, 'Can you imagine playing this game with a friend, through the entire campaign? Every bit of it.' That took a tremendous effort. Those were the kinds of lessons we learned from Saints Row 1 where we were thinking, 'How can we innovate and how can we expand?'"

In the upcoming 2022 reboot of Saints Row, you can participate in two-player, drop-in/drop-out online co-op as you explore the city of Santo Ileso. When you join a session, each co-op player looks exactly how you have them customized without limitations. Co-op play is untethered, meaning you can explore the city independent of one another, but if one player enters a mission, the other warps to them and joins the task at hand.

When a mission starts, progression is tracked on a per-player basis. Collectibles, customization, vehicles, and weapons all follow you back to your single-player game, but Volition didn't stop there. Any mission progress you make in the co-op session is brought back into your single-player save. For example, if you're in the early-game missions and you join a co-op partner who is deeper in the story, you won't have to replay any missions you play to completion in the session. "The game will remember you have played this late-game mission once you naturally work your way to it in your own campaign, and you will not be required to play that mission again," says Boone.

On top of standard play, Volition tells us you’re able to prank your partner. We don’t yet know what that means, but the development team is excited about the feature. "It’s something totally different that we’ve never done before that players are going to absolutely love," says creative director Brian Traficante. "When they get together, they get access to the pranking system, and you can just let your imagination run with 'What would you do to prank your co-op player?'"

We don't exactly know what the pranking system is, but we're looking forward to learning more about Saints Row's co-op as we get closer to the game's February 25 release date. For more on Saints Row, be sure to check out our exclusive coverage hub at the banner below. 

Categories: Games

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes Review - The Descent

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/22/2021 - 00:06

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes has to justify its setting in a way few horror games do. While Supermassive Games' unsettling anthology previously tapped into teen horror tropes and Puritan-era paranoia with Man of Medan and Little Hope, House of Ashes looks further afield in terms of both influences and geography. Taking place during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, its setting is a far cry from the ghost ships and witch trials featured in the series thus far--tackling a recent conflict with ramifications that are still felt to this day. Fortunately, House of Ashes uses the Iraq War as more than a simple backdrop for jump scares, focusing on both sides of the war as allegiances fall by the wayside in the face of a more terrifying threat.

Much like its predecessors, Supermassive's latest also uses real myths and historical events to flesh out its supernatural elements. House of Ashes begins in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Akkad in 2231 BC, with a compelling prologue that takes inspiration from the "The Curse of Akkad," a poem detailing how the Akkadian Empire was destroyed after its king, Naram-Sin, declared himself a god and plundered the chief god Enlil's temple. Naturally, this angered the Sumerian deity, who exacted revenge by summoning an invasion from the neighboring Gutian people. House of Ashes deviates from the Akkadian myth, however, by making this a temple to Pazuzu, the king of the demons. This sinister spin, and the appearance of frightening underground creatures, poses a much greater threat to the remaining Akkadians than the attacking Gutians.

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Fast forward to 2003 and a mission to find Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction leads to a group of marines discovering the dilapidated Sumerian temple and the monsters hidden within. Throwing a group of heavily-armed jarheads into a fight with supernatural miscreations is a classic genre trope, but it's a fresh perspective for Supermassive's brand of cinematic horror. Switching from civilians to soldiers results in a significant change of pace when you encounter its antagonists. You're still outmatched, and the winged monstrosities aren't overly fussed by bullets, but that doesn't stop the cast from expending a veritable bucket load of ammunition almost every time you meet.

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