Rainbow Billy: The Curse Of The Leviathan Review - Rainbow Connection

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/22/2021 - 00:02

Final Fantasy Friendship. Suikoden Kindness. If you want a quick description of what Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is all about, those are a good start. While it's classified as a "2.5D Adventure-Puzzle-Platformer" on official marketplaces, Rainbow Billy is an RPG at its core, thanks to its team-building mechanics and a "battle" system worthy of those vaunted franchises. The exploration and platforming elements do add an air of adventure, but those moments aren't as smooth sailing thanks to some weird technical issues. The issues won't ruin the game though, as the entire experience is wrapped in a rainbow-colored warmth that's hard to describe. It has a constant "glass half full" attitude, playing out through dialogue between characters that mirrors a lot of real-world situations. The message alone makes the game worth checking out.

You play as Rainbow Billy, a denizen of the World of Imagination. A massive water-faring dragon called Leviathan lays a terrible curse on the land, draining it of its color, and Billy must board his tugboat--named the Friend-Ship--and sail across multiple islands to solve puzzles, make new friends, and restore the world's vibrant colors. Joining Billy on the journey is Rodrigo, a sentient fishing rod-looking creature that helps Billy get around the world through swinging, gliding, and more. The main focus of the game--and the idea that sets Rainbow Billy apart--is its "battle" system. You'll see that words like "battle" and "confront" are in quotes throughout the review, and there's a reason: there's no "battle" to be had. Instead, Billy and the friends they recruit are attempting to restore the color in each black-and-white creature they "confront," and they do it through dialogue and simple minigames.


Here's how it works: You'll choose from recruited friends and place them on the battlefield in designated lanes, assigning one of three colored shapes to each friend. Once these "battle lines" are formed, minigames begin based on the lead creature in a lane. Some involve a slot machine-esque game where rainbow stars must stop on a line, others require button presses in a certain sequence. Upon winning a minigame, the colors then travel to the "enemy," filling in any corresponding blank shapes above their heads. Enemies will fight back, depleting Billy's Morale meter, and an empty meter means a failed battle that must be restarted. Fill all the shapes in, however, and voila! A new friend is recruited.

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Categories: Games

Shin Megami Tensei V's Launch-Day DLC Detailed

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 10/21/2021 - 06:01

Publisher: Sega Developer: Atlus Release: November 12, 2021 Platform: Switch

The release of Shin Megami Tensei V is right around the corner, and in our latest exclusive look at the upcoming RPG from Atlus, the studio gives us a glimpse into what players can expect from the day one DLC coming to the game. In addition to various pieces of mission-driven downloadable content, players can also anticipate DLC designed to ease the acquisition of certain resources, as well as a new, easier difficulty option.

The Return of the True Demon downloadable content sees the protagonist visiting the World of Shadows. When he arrives, Sophia hands him a Menorah that she says will bring up either "strength or death." The DLC enables you to take on the strongest demons and is geared toward those looking for a challenge. If you manage to defeat the fiends, you unlock their fusions and if you can defeat the demi-fiend, you unlock the demi-fiend's essence. 

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In the A Goddess in Training DLC, the protagonist is approached by the Goddess Artemis near Tokyo Tower. She's in search of a worthy training opponent. If you can successfully complete the mission, you can recruit her as an ally and unlock her fusion.

The Rage of a Queen DLC sees Cleopatra stripped from her position at the Bethel Egpyt branch. After the protagonist receives a request to check on her following her banishment, you unlock a new mission. Clearing this mission rewards you with the opportunity to recruit her as an ally and unlock her fusion.

The final significant piece of launch-day DLC, The Doctor's Last Wish has you searching for a missing Bethel researcher. After finding the scientist talking with Mephisto, the protagonist embarks on a new mission. If you fulfill certain conditions, you gain the opportunity to recruit him as an ally and unlock his fusion.

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In addition to those missions, players can also pick up Mitama Dance of Wealth and Mitama Dance of EXP DLCs, which considerably increases the spawn rates of rare demons that drop expensive relics or earn you EXP, respectively. The Wealth DLC makes earning Macca much easier, while the EXP DLC makes grinding much easier. Atlus is also releasing the Mitama Dance of Miracles DLC, which increases the spawn rates of rare demons that drop items that earn you Glory in a more efficient manner.

On top of the paid DLC, a free Safety Difficulty DLC is also planned to add an easier difficulty setting for anyone who has little RPG or SMT experience, or someone who wants to play through the game with little resistance.

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While much of the information provided by Atlus this month was focused on DLC, the studio also gave us a look at its second-playthrough modes. After you finish your playthrough and clear the game, you can choose from two different modes for your second time. Newborn mode transfers your Demon Compendium and enemy analysis data but does not drastically alter the difficulty. Reborn mode transfers your protagonist's level, skills, demons, Macca, and items to the new save file, giving you an easier replay experience.

Shin Megami Tensei V, as well as all of this DLC, launches on November 12 for Switch. For more on the highly anticipated role-playing game, head to the game's hub by heading here.

Categories: Games

Everything We Know About Halo Infinite

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/18/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Developer: 343 Industries Release: December 8, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: Xbox One, PC

Microsoft fans are ending 2021 with a bang: the release of Halo Infinite, the culmination of the Master Chief’s journey of self-discovery, as well as his mission to rescue Cortana from herself. Recent Infinite test flights have showcased several new weapons, but if you’re here, you’re looking for a more comprehensive account of the important information surrounding the game’s release. Here’s everything you need to know about Halo Infinite to prepare for your space-opera themed December:

Categories: Games

Outer Wilds: Echoes Of The Eye Review - Once More Into The Breach

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/15/2021 - 18:50

Outer Wilds was an expansive, planet-trotting puzzle adventure, but its first and only expansion, Echoes of the Eye, is a more condensed and focused encapsulation of all the elements that made it great. Instead of taking place throughout a solar system, Echoes of the Eye hones in on a singular location, which itself is broken up into distinct areas of interest that keep the intrigue and sense of discovery alive and well. But it's also not without some new stumbles that introduce infrequent but inescapable frustration to the game's core time loop.

Echoes of the Eye doesn't require any prior knowledge of the format of Outer Wilds to start or complete, but it's certainly tuned for players who have accustomed themselves to the type of thinking its puzzles require. Even starting the expansion is a delightful puzzle, giving you a thin breadcrumb trail to follow that exposes a secret so deviously hidden that it's easy to believe it was always there to begin with. This expansion is meant to sit parallel to the challenges of the main game, which means you won't have to be familiar with its mechanics regarding quantum physics or superposition. At the same time, not having played the original adventure will make Echoes of the Eye more challenging, given how it depends on a way of thinking that is only gained through cutting your teeth on the puzzles of the main game.


The expansion takes place on The Stranger-- mysterious ship that has supposedly always been orbiting the solar system in plain sight. It's a craft from another universe entirely, drawn to your home by the same intrigue surrounding the Eye of the Universe, which drives all the stories throughout Outer Wilds. The Stranger is its own small ecosystem that wraps around itself and subscribes to the same time-based changes that all the other planets in Outer Wilds follow. As soon as you start, you're on the same 22-minute timer as before, with crucial changes within The Stranger requiring you to become familiar with how they affect the entire area over time.

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Categories: Games

Back 4 Blood Review - Reanimated

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 10/14/2021 - 22:25

Let's not beat around the bush: Back 4 Blood is Left 4 Dead 3 in all but name, and even then it isn't exactly trying to be subtle. Obviously, developer Turtle Rock Studios doesn't need to be considering it consists of many of the same developers who created Left 4 Dead. It's also not surprising to see the studio return to the cooperative zombie slaying that initially put it on the map. The similarities between the original game and this spiritual successor are endless, even after a 12-year gap, yet it's their overt differences that prove to be the most interesting part of Back 4 Blood. It still maintains all of the familiar hallmarks of Left 4 Dead, only now these foundations are interspersed with contemporary ideas befitting of the modern era, resulting in a game that captures what you might expect from a reanimated Left 4 Dead in the year 2021.

Back 4 Blood's chaotic template might be the most overt similarity between the two games, as you and up to three friends are tasked with surviving the ravenous zombie hordes as you desperately fight from one safe room to the next. The campaign is split into four acts, with each one containing a variable number of chapters. The first act is the longest, for instance, coming in at 13 chapters, while the final act consists of a single boss fight. Finishing the entire campaign on the game's regular (and easiest) difficulty will probably take you around six to seven hours, but Back 4 Blood offers plenty of replayability when you factor in the other two punishing difficulty levels and the game's inherent variety. The AI Game Director, which makes on-the-fly decisions on where and what enemies spawn, returns from Left 4 Dead and ensures that each chapter is noticeably different on repeat visits, as hazard placement, weapon availability, and zombie frequency differ with every playthrough.

You're also faced with the same kinds of objectives throughout the campaign, whether that means simply making it to the next safe room alive, alerting the horde in order to remove an obstacle and progress forward, or defending a location until you're able to escape. It's familiar territory if you've ever played Left 4 Dead, and this works in Back 4 Blood's favor when it begins to veer from that exact formula. During one chapter you find the safe room almost immediately, but instead of escaping, you have to locate and rescue a group of other survivors first. There are more interesting examples, too, including a chapter that sees you stumble upon a decimated police station where the only way out is locked by a hand scanner. Not only do you have to find a dead guy's severed arm to unlock it, but whoever picks it up is forced to wield the limb as a morbid weapon while you mash your way back to the door.

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Categories: Games

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review - Better Than Bad, It's Good!

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 10/14/2021 - 22:15

There aren't all that many games in the sub-genre of "platform fighters," but there's a good reason for that--the genre is absolutely dominated by the 1000-pound gorilla that is Super Smash Bros. Yes, there are other games that look to put their own spin on Smash's formula, but they don't have anywhere near the same kind of reach or appeal as Nintendo's beloved brawler. Enter Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, a game with a roster of nostalgic characters that is very clearly modeling itself on Smash, from the controls to the stage and game formats all the way down to how the interface is designed--but with several elements catering to Smash's competitive sub-community.

The premise is simple: A bunch of your favorite Nickelodeon characters (from the early '90s Nicktoons era to the present day) are all, for reasons unclear, trying to blast each other off of various themed levels. This is accomplished the same way as you do in Smash Bros.: smack around an enemy a bunch to get their damage percentage higher and increase their launchability before whacking them with a power move to blow them out-of-bounds. The gameplay will be instantly familiar to Smash players, but newcomers to platform fighters shouldn't have much of a problem picking up SpongeBob, Reptar, and Korra and doing some cool moves. Every fighter has an array of normal and special attacks on the ground and in the air (including an aerial recovery attack to attempt to save your bacon when launched), along with a throw and shield.

That isn't to say it's exactly like Smash, as there are some key changes to set All-Star Brawl apart. One example is in the controls. You have three attack buttons: normal, strong attack, and special attack, along with a dedicated jump button (and no "press up to jump" option). Smash's "Tilt" moves, where you move the analog stick slightly in one direction and press the normal attack button, are instead remapped to D-pad or analog stick plus normal attack button in All-Star Brawl. This is a very clever way to implement these attacks while reducing the odds of a wrong input, and as someone who frequently overshoots the tilt threshold in Smash, I greatly appreciated it. Also welcome is a dedicated "strafe" button to keep a character facing a specific direction while moving around the arenas. Advanced mechanics familiar to Smash faithful, like wavedashing, perfect guarding, and attack priority, have been deliberately emphasized and expanded upon.

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Categories: Games

Battlefield 2042 Hazard Zone Game Mode Revealed, ‘High Stakes, Squad-Based’ Intensity

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 10/14/2021 - 16:00

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: DICE Release: November 19, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Battlefield 2042 is launching with three fun multiplayer experiences. All-Out Warfare's two classic game modes, Conquest and Breakthrough, showcase the power of next-gen technology by dropping 128 players into massive arenas on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. The Battlefield Portal is reminiscent of Halo's Forge. The community can create unique playlists of their own by customizing the rules of engagement while implementing weapons, factions, and more from the franchise's past, present, and future. The final, mysterious game-type, Hazard Zone, was revealed today and offered a new take on the battle royale formula where kills take a back seat to objectives and survival. This game mode is all about "high stakes, squad-based" intensity. 

2042 is a year of political conflict as the US and Russia fight for intel. With only a few low-orbit satellites left – these space capsules are responsible for collecting aerial photography, heat map imagery, ID scanning, etc. – both nations are fighting to secure copious amounts of data. Luckily, the satellites are falling back down to Earth, but who will claim them first? 

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That's where you and your three squadmates come in. Hazard Zone is all about using operators, gadgets, and tactical upgrades (or passives) to win. You're more than just a trigger-happy mercenary as you've been charged with securing as many fallen data drives as possible and extracting them from the battlefield. Of course, this is easier said than done since seven other teams (32 players in all, including your crew) will be duking it out on next-gen consoles and PC. Hazard Zone will be a 24-player mode on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There's also a "storm" closing in on the arena, so you'll have to make wise decisions throughout each of Hazard Zone's five phases:

When down, you can crawl around to wait for a manual revive. If an enemy finishes you, though, your team will have to use reinforcement uplinks scattered across the map to get you back in the fight. Or, if you've appropriately game-planned during the first phase, you can activate the tactical upgrade version of the uplink instead. The more you succeed with an operator, the higher your extraction streak climbs, which unlocks loadout gear discounts. Hazard Zone looks to test your situational awareness across all maps and with the added tension of extreme weather anomalies like Tornados. 

Battlefield 2042 launches for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 19. Be sure to read up on how you can weaponize twisters and flip through the operator dossiers to decide on your favorite playable characters.

Categories: Games

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond And Shining Pearl | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 10/13/2021 - 14:00

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Publisher: The Pokémon Company Developer: Ilca, Game Freak Release: November 19, 2021 Platform: Switch

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are just over a month out from release. These remakes of the fourth-generation classics on Nintendo DS are visually getting a new coat of paint and some updated quality of life functionality.

In this New Gameplay Today, your master trainers Alex Stadnik and John Carson talk about a recent preview event where Nintendo and The Pokémon Company showed off all of the updated features players can expect in the duo of Switch games. We touch on some of the most important additions to the games and show off five whole minutes of new gameplay. Hey, that’s like the title of the video series!

Originally released in 2006, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl brought monster catching, training, and trading to Nintendo’s dual-screened handheld device. Handling the updated version for Switch is Pokémon Home developer ILCA, who has had its hand in delivering other JRPGs like Dragon Quest XI, Nier: Automata, and Yakuza 0. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will hit Nintendo Switch on November 19.

For more great video content from our Game Informer editors, check out our YouTube and Twitch channels. You can also catch recent videos like this exclusive introduction to Santo Ileso, the new city in Saints Row, or a look at the new Hearthstone game mode, Mercenaries.

How do you think Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are shaping up? Do you like the modern updates brought to the games? Do you have a favorite Sinnoh Pokémon? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

What's New In Pokémon Brilliant Diamond And Shining Pearl?

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 10/13/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: The Pokémon Company Developer: Ilca, Game Freak Release: November 19, 2021 Platform: Switch

Upcoming remakes to the first Nintendo DS Pokémon games, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl from ILCA are two of the biggest releases set for Nintendo’s holiday lineup. With just over a month until their expected release on November 19, we were allowed to go eyes-on the games in a preview event. We got a glimpse at what’s staying the same in these updated games and which modern conveniences are added to the Sinnoh adventure.

Our demonstration began with a look at the world, which remains faithful to the vision of the original Diamond and Pearl. The camera remains overhead, and the characters populating Sinnoh are presented in chibi models. However, everything has been remade with 3D models, with new textures and all, which we had known since the initial trailer some months ago. What is new about wandering the routes from town to town is the option to let one of your Pokémon companions stroll behind you at all times. It’s a cool feature from Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee and the Sword and Shield Isle of Armor DLC that I’m very happy to see return.

If you want more Pokémon from your party out and about, head to Amity Square. It’s a location that allows predetermined “cute” Pokémon to spread out around the park, causing a sort of hide-and-seek game to play out. Your monsters will find items around the area, and as you find each one, they’ll begin to follow you wherever you roam in Amity Square. With more than one member of your party at your side, the developers allow you to have a little bit of fun by adding a zoom function to the in-game camera so you can snap pictures with your partners. Bring all of your favorites (deemed cute by the Amity Square front desk attendant, of course) and make some memories.

Speaking of cute, the Pokémon Super Contest Shows return as well. Super Contests are a way to compete in different categories, including Cuteness, Toughness, Coolness, and more. You’ll play a simple rhythm game during the competitions and try to unleash a pre-chosen move from your Pokémon at the perfect time to wow the judges. You’ll also be able to see the fruits of your Ball Capsule customization. With Ball Capsules, you can add stickers to specific Pokéballs, creating unique animations and flourishes whenever you bring that Pokémon out. I saw a combination of flames and water effects applied to one of the Pokémon our demoist brought out. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will have over 90 of these stickers, and some can be earned by winning the Super Contest Shows.

Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl aren’t going to be completely faithful to the originals, as the remakes are bringing in some well-tested features from the most recent mainline games. First, Pokémon battles use the full 3D models you’d expect to see in Sword and Shield. Your trainer is also given a full-sized model so that you can show off your character’s outfits in battle. EXP Share is applied to all Pokémon in your party when a battle concludes. However, it was confirmed that it’s not a feature that can be turned off this time around. Other quality of life additions like autosaves and seeing move effectiveness on your attacks also return.

A big question going into these remakes was whether Hidden Machines made the cut since they’re in a very different state in the modern Pokémon games. This time around, winning Gym badges will unlock HM moves that can be used in the world, but you do not have to teach them to your Pokémon. Using an HM like Strength to move a boulder will make a wild Pokémon appear and use the move for you. It doesn’t really make sense, but I’ll take the convenience over wasting precious move slots. You can call on these helpful wild monsters using the new and improved Pokétch, the watch-like device from Diamond and Pearl, which is now more like a modern smartwatch. Apps on this new Pokétch include a step counter, Pokémon friend checker, a calculator, an item dowsing machine, and a drawing pad.


My favorite part of the demo was when we ventured into the Grand Underground, a massive subterranean map that compares in size to the above-ground region of Sinnoh. Down in these depths, trainers can excavate items from the cavern walls. Here is where you can sometimes find Pokémon statues, decorations that can be set in your Secret Base. These Secret Bases are special customizable rooms found in the Grand Underground. Depending on which Pokémon figures you decorate with will affect which Pokémon you can find and catch in larger Underground rooms called Hideaways. Use certain bug Pokémon statues? You’re more likely to find more bugs in the local Hideaway. A device at the front of your Secret Base will let you know how the Hideaways will be affected. Statue collection will be a big part of the Grand Underground experience and your overall Pokémon collection strategy. Some statues even come in rare Shiny versions that give a different effect from their standard counterpart.

My demo with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl was short, but as you can see, very informative of the overall package. From what I’ve seen, I’m very excited for these remakes and to get back to Sinnoh and check out all of these changes for myself.

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Categories: Games

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 10/13/2021 - 13:00

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Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: November 23, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac

Final Fantasy XIV gets its next big expansion with Endwalker this November, and it’s set to be the biggest expansion for the MMORPG yet. It certainly has a tough act to follow given how awesome Shadowbringers was, but it looks like it’s up to meeting that challenge. During a preview session, we were able to get hands-on with the expansion in a limited fashion, including a dungeon dive into The Tower of Zot. Yep, it’s got the jamming tunes we all remember from its inception in Final Fantasy IV. I love Final Fantasy IV, so this dungeon really conjured up some bonus nostalgia.

And yes, you may see some other familiar faces from its Final Fantasy IV inspirations within its walls as well. The Magus Sisters are here, and you better believe they can use the Delta Attack! While I was very new to the Reaper class during this episode (We started with everything, so I had a lot of buttons to figure out), we made it to the end successfully, embracing many of the same gameplay mechanics that are already prevalent in both Final Fantasy XIV and the genre in general, like staying out of hazards and keeping a careful eye on boss attacks.

Join us for a look at the Tower of Zot in this episode of New Gameplay Today! Are you looking forward to Endwalker? What class are you going to play? Let us know in the comments!


Categories: Games

We Played Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker And It’s Awesome

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 10/13/2021 - 13:00

Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: November 23, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac

In a demo session, I had the opportunity to play a small slice of Final Fantasy XIV’s Endwalker expansion, which arrives on November 23. Obviously, demo sessions for MMORPGs and a variety of other genres are complicated beasts, but I did have plenty of time to get some nice hands-on with the new jobs and explore a dungeon, The Tower of Zot. As anyone who has played Shadowbringers probably already expects, Endwalker is shaping up to be as awesome as its predecessors in the expansion realm.

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The bulk of my time was spent playing a new melee DPS class, the Reaper. This class ebbs Bloodborne aesthetic, so that pretty much sealed the deal for me. However, the Reaper doesn’t just look cool – based on the demo session, it should be a fairly challenging and dynamic damage class for those looking to stay on their toes during all phases and styles of combat. With a ton of various contextual abilities to draw from and several different resource meters, the Reaper presents savvy damage-dealers with tons of possibilities to handle any situation. While most players are familiar with the concept of filling up a resource reservoir to unleash powerful skills, the Reaper must juggle several. 

Granted, it’s absolutely possible to play Reaper without mastering the timing of the multitude of skills and enjoy it too, but hey, if you want to min/max your potential, some training is needed. That said, I was far more comfortable after a few hours of play than I was staring at stacked skillbars when I picked up the character, so I do think it’s going to be doable (and fun!) for the vast majority of players. Turning into the actual Reaper after charging up and unleashing massive damage feels great. As is the case with all melee combatants, you need a way to get out of the action just as fast as you get in. Luckily, the Reaper has a cool little teleport portal you can set up, allowing you to get in or out of the thick of things as the encounter dictates. In summary, I am playing a Reaper in Endwalker, and it’s not close.

I didn’t spend much time on the Sage because, well, I don’t play healer, ever, but I’ll say this – the visual identity of the two new classes here is top-notch. Who is going to want to be a white mage after you have electro doctor Sage available? That’s a good question. Sage exudes coolness with its kit, and honestly, I almost thought about playing a healer. Okay, not really.

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While I got to roam around a few levels, quests weren’t really available in the zones, and the Fates (public quests) that I completed were fairly standard – I won’t spoil the surprises there, either. However, we did get to spend some quality time in the Tower of Zot, one of Endwalker’s new dungeons. I played the dungeon both with other players and with a Trust (NPCs that are available to do group dungeon content that debuted in Shadowbringers). Immediately upon entry, you get hit with that legendary track from Final Fantasy IV. As someone that places Final Fantasy IV very high, if not the top, of the FF pyramid, that’s really all I needed.

The amount of “trash” (regular enemies) in the dungeon seemed about right, and the boss fights also felt solid for entry-tier expansion content. Yes, we had to dodge a lot of things on the ground. Yes, we had some contextual movement situations. And yes, the Magus Sisters are the bosses inside the Tower, culminating in an epic battle where you fight all three at the same time, and they unleash the Delta Attack. That particular encounter can be fairly stressful until you get the first Sister down, as the Delta Attack requires dodging many attacks in succession. It’s not a trial or raid or anything, but it definitely perked my interest levels in what lays beyond.

Obviously, a couple of hours with an MMORPG is a drop in the bucket. But everything I saw in Endwalker speaks to the greater game and its continued path of progression, where they’ve upped the quality of the title with each expansion. With Endwalker representing the grand finale of the current story arc, I expect a lot. And everything I’ve seen so far thinks that we’ll get it. See you in November!

Categories: Games

Meet The New Characters Of Saints Row

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 10/12/2021 - 20:00

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

The Saints Row series began in 2006, introducing players to a beloved cast of characters over the subsequent decade. After 2013’s Saints Row IV, where players entered a computer simulation to battle aliens, and 2015’s Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, where players literally descended into the depths of the underworld to fight Satan, Volition knew it had taken the series to the farthest reaches. Following Gat Out of Hell, Volition took a break from Saints Row.

The series had reached a natural resting point, and rather than continually try to one-up the previous entry with zanier scenarios and more bombastic characters, Volition went back to the drawing board. “It was never spoken out loud with clarity of something like, ‘This is it. We have specifically taken this as far as we would like, and when we do the next game, by God, we’re going to reboot it!’” Volition chief creative officer Jim Boone says. “But I think that everyone had that vibe that we just had fun taking this thing as far as we possibly could and leaving it all out there.”

After putting the series temporarily on ice, Volition developed 2017’s Agents of Mayhem. The game featured much of the Saints Row DNA, but fans clamored for the return of the studio’s most popular franchise. The groundswell of community enthusiasm combined with the studio’s own passion for the franchise to drive them back to Saints Row. However, the team didn’t want to just continue down the path it was going, stretching further and further into the realm of absurdity.

Volition considered options like flashing back to a time before Saints Row IV, but the most viable option was to reboot the series. Not only did this give the team a clean slate, but also a fresh story to tell. “[This approach] allows us to build on top of it,” narrative designer Jennifer Campbell says. “Once you add everything and the kitchen sink to the game, it’s difficult to then plan for future games after that because if you start with the climax, where do you go from there? A lot of fans have been wanting us to go back to … a more grounded game. We were trying to set up this reboot for its best chance for evolution.”

With that direction in place, Volition decided to create a new cast of characters so that it could tell the origin story of a new group of Saints, who hail from a new city inspired by the American Southwest. The initial class of Santo Ileso’s Saints includes four characters from disparate backgrounds. The customizable protagonist (who later becomes known as “The Boss”) starts out in Marshall, a tech-heavy, highly trained faction. Meanwhile, Neenah gets her start in Los Panteros and Kevin comes from The Idols, the other two rival gangs found in Santo Ileso.

It turns out low-level members of street gangs don’t make a whole lot of money, and apartments aren’t cheap, so they decide to put their rival affiliations aside in the name of saving money on rent. Though this seemingly doomed-to-fail roommate situation leads to some initial conflict among them, they quickly establish a policy of leaving work at the door when they come home. They’re joined by their fourth roommate, Eli, who came into the group not as a gang member but rather as a man moving to Santo Ileso chasing real-estate fortune.

However, even splitting their expenses, they still need to pick up side hustles to help make ends meet. In fact, the first mission I play during my hands-on time is called “Making Rent.” The group works well as a unit; your character is the motivating force behind the group and puts the mission above all else. Kevin is great with his fists, cares a lot about his friends, and is among the most well-connected people in the city. Neenah is an all-star driver and the best mechanic Los Panteros has. Finally, Eli is the brains of the operation and serves as the glue that holds the crew together.

“[Eli is] the one that keeps telling them through a lot of motivational tapes and motivational books that, ‘We should be out doing this for ourselves and controlling our own destinies,’” creative director Brian Traficante says.

Shortly after a successful heist of a loan office called Payday in “Making Rent,” the group realizes there might be something special between them. “They’re not the Saints at that point, but they realize they’re kind of good at what they’re doing, and they should maybe seek to scale their ability to do some of these things,” executive producer Rob Loftus says. “That’s where [your character] starts to point out like, ‘No guys, I think we can turn this into a bigger thing than just sticking up a Payday loan place.”

The unlikely roommates-turned-business-partners begin looking at each other as a family and eventually decide to form a group where they can grow their own criminal empire and make the riches they’ve only dreamt of to this point. Being the businessman that he is, Eli knows that any good enterprise needs office space, and Neenah knows of an abandoned church in the Mercado district the squad could use.

The church starts in a sorry state, but you can improve the HQ by raking in the dough. When the team first walks in, they notice fleur-de-lis symbols representing Catholic saints. The sign becomes a logo for the crew, and they adopt the name “The Saints.” With your character serving as the spark for the crew, you’ve officially begun down the path to becoming “The Boss.”

The newly christened Saints begin carrying out operations as an independent faction within the city. As you might imagine, the three gangs already in control of Santo Ileso don’t take kindly to a new player showing up, let alone one consisting of former members of their gangs. This dynamic paves the way for conflicts to emerge around every corner. 

We’ll be getting into those rival factions, customization, and plenty more in future articles and videos, so be sure to keep an eye on our Saints Row hub by clicking the banner below. Saints Row launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 25.

Categories: Games

Hearthstone Mercenaries | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 10/12/2021 - 18:00

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Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: March 11, 2014 Rating: Teen Platform: PC

Hearthstone Mercenaries is a new game found within the Hearthstone client, that tasks players with both PvE and PvP in a tactical RPG setting. Yes, it is very different than Hearthstone. No, I don’t know why it’s being lumped into Hearthstone proper because it’s fairly confusing. It’s a completely new game with different rules, different cards, and RPG leveling, gearing, and even grinding. It’s out today if you’re interested, and you can join us for a quick romp through some early levels in this episode of New Gameplay Today!

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.

While the missions in the Barrens don’t showcase the depth or complexity that the game reaches with multiple abilities, equipment choices, or combos, it’s a good way to show off some early character development and level structure. You can play bounties to your heart’s content to bring back rewards, allowing you to boost your character abilities and adding permanent points via level-ups to your character roster. As you accrue packs, more options open up in terms of party composition, allowing you to create combos and specific teams designed to handle specific bounties that may be much easier with the right abilities or specializations.

You don’t take anything from Hearthstone into Mercenaries (except your in-game gold) and it’s a completely new experience. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Categories: Games

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Unveils Campaign Details

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/11/2021 - 20:10

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

Today, more details have been released on the Call of Duty: Vanguard campaign. While the campaign is, as usual, only one element of the upcoming Call of Duty title, the cast of characters and plot summary leave us with a special forces task force that looks a lot like Inglourious Basterds. 

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.

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We have some new details on voice actors, characters, and more, while the core plotline remains mostly shrouded. We wouldn’t want that spoiled anyway, but the crux of it is that your special forces operation has to head into the heart of Nazi Germany and discover the mystery behind the Phoenix Project, which has intentions to resurrect the Reich as it falls. First, here’s a quick rundown of the voice cast for all of the main story players:

Sergeant Arthur Kingsley - Chiké Okonkwo

Lieutenant Polina Petrova - Laura Bailey

Private Lucas Riggs - Martin Copping

Lieutenant  1st Class Wade Jackson – Derek Phillips

Sergeant Richard Webb – Simon Quarterman

SS Oberst-Gruppenführer Hermann Wenzel Friesinger – Dan Donohue

Jannick Richter - Dominic Monaghan

In Call of Duty: Vanguard, players will take control and play as Arthur Kingsley, Polina Petrova, Lucas Riggs, and Wade Jackson. Given the nature of this special forces adventure that takes place over quite a few locations, these characters start in their own scenario and eventually come together to move into the belly of the beast. 

What does this mean? Essentially, it allows this tale to encompass a lot more than the often-explored trek to Berlin, bringing us to the Pacific and other less-explored segments of World War II. This also means we’re almost certainly going to get one of those cool infiltration missions that feel different from standard shooty campaign segments. We took a look at Lieutenant Polina Petrova's tale during Gamescom.

You can check out more details for the upcoming Call of Duty: Vanguard campaign, including each character’s backstory, at the official blog here. Are you interested in the campaign? Are you waiting for multiplayer? Does Treyarch’s zombie offering intrigue you? Maybe just more Warzone with its new makeover and map? None of the above? Anyway, let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

Forza Horizon 5 Preview – Hands-On With Picturesque Speed

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/11/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Developer: Playground Games Release: November 9, 2021 Platform: Xbox One, PC

Motorheads and professional drivers around the globe have gathered in Mexico for the fifth Horizon Festival. Radio station infomercials excitedly reference the pop-up races and zany challenges sprinkled across the far reaches of the land. Empty streets – save for the occasional family van or commercial truck – are indicative of nationwide fervor. So where are the locals and tourists? Well, the general public is gathered en masse at various points of interest, waiting for you, the enigmatic "superstar," to arrive and officially kick things off. 

Forza Horizon is all about player agency. The fifth installment keeps this design philosophy alive with another impressively large car catalog, innumerable activities, and extensive customization options for your avatar and vehicle(s). The opening cinematic is just as spectacular to play as it was to watch during the Gamescom showcase with roaring engines and gorgeous visuals enhanced by the game's solid performance/quality modes. Ultimately, I spent around 90 minutes with a preview build of Horizon 5. While I only got the chance to enjoy a small serving of its many features, I was left stunned by the sheer immensity of the sandbox, the high-caliber graphics that the franchise is known for, and the overall playability/accessibility of the controls. Forza has never looked or felt this good. 

After getting airdropped into Baja California, I selected my nickname, created my character (the prosthetics were an excellent addition, although I would've liked to see more options for disabled gamers), and hopped into my Stingray Coupe. Driving feels as responsive and fluid as you'd expect. Vibration patterns and varying degrees of "car feel" instill each roadster with personality. The Jeep Gladiator and Ford Bronco are heavy-weight machines, but various features, like traction control, are notably different; your cars genuinely feel alive. This level of detail isn't new to the Forza series, but it's far more commendable in the latest Horizon entry as the roster of selectable vehicles grows ever-larger. 

By the end of the preview, I'd only garnered a small collection to choose from, but each set of wheels was perfect for different situations. My Toyota GR Supra blasted me to first place in paved circuit races while my Ford Escort was suited for messier, off-road exhibitions. The AI opponents, however, don't settle for losses. You'll have to learn your vehicle's tendencies – how early you should brake on sharp turns to avoid catastrophic crashes or when you're better off just flooring it to create distance – to remain consistent in competitions. You might even decide to swing by the shop to tune your favorite cars for that extra edge. Manually upgrade various parts – what's more important: your engine or handling? – or have the festival team select the tweaks for you based on a specified build.

Racing isn't the only activity Mexico has to offer. To earn accolades (or challenges) and unlock Horizon Adventure Chapters, I sped around the open world, completing a bevy of minigames. PR stunts like "Speed Zone," "Speed Trap," "Trailblazer," and "Danger Sign" required me to maintain incredible speeds or soar high into the sky after barrelling towards manufactured ramps. Your proficiency is labeled with stars, three being the highest and earning you a bevy of XP and SP (Skill Points) that you use to purchase perks for each vehicle. Perks tend to be experience modifiers, and, as far as I could tell from my time with the preview build, the best thing about leveling up is activating the "Horizon Spinwheel" to win prizes like currency and rare cars. 

Traveling to each race or side activity was a blast because Mexico's beauty is unparalleled. Dynamic weather effects like raging sandstorms added a newfound level of intensity to exploration, and each visually diverse location was unique with a modicum of secrets to find. Narrative beats, otherwise known as Horizon Stories, take you to exciting points of interest while characterizing the game's cast. For instance, while escorting Alejandra to an abandoned garage atop a dusty overlook, she chronicled her family's relationship with the "Vocho" or Volkswagen Beetle and the Mexican cultural shift that the iconic compact car catalyzed in the 50s. All the while, I took note of the cactus-spotted deserts we left in our wake and the quaint, multi-colored communes we drove through. 

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Even with the small amount of content I experienced, Forza Horizon 5 is massive. Much of the map was empty in this preview version, but I still braved the far-off jungles and mountain ranges, imagining the number of PR Stunts, Horizon Stories, and races that I'll partake in on launch day. Additional modes like the Festival Playlist and Auction House weren't available yet, but just knowing that the full game will have a bevy of content, including in-game seasons and campaign progression, make the trip to Mexico even more enticing

Forza Horizon 5 releases on November 9 on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Exclusive Saints Row Hands-On Impressions

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 10/08/2021 - 23:00

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

Last month, developer Volition provided us with a playable build of the new Saints Row. I had access to a handful of story missions, some side activities, and the entirety of the Santo Ileso map to explore. Volition encouraged me to drive, glide, and wreak havoc to my hearts’ content. So, that’s exactly what I did. While the content is still very much in development, I was able to understand how the game is shaping up in its early state, and it’s looking good so far.

During the super-powered trip that was Saints Row IV, cars were rendered nearly useless when you had the option to Super Sprint and Jump around Steelport. With this Saints Row reboot, those powers are nowhere in sight, so you’ll be either hoofing it or stealing a random car off the street to get around. Luckily, Saints Row features a wholly reworked driving system, bringing a new weight to driving and shifting the focus of car combat from guns and drivebys to using the car itself as a weapon.

In an early story mission (which you can read about in our Saints Row cover story), I learned all about two key features of this new driving model. One is the ability to jolt your car left or right with the press of a button, essentially punching with your vehicle to do damage or run rival racers off the road. The other is a new drift that will crank your car into a sideways slide while the camera cooly tilts and zooms in a bit for added effect.

Drifting in Saints Row feels very much like a Mario Kart drift, and that’s high praise. No matter the vehicle, drifting will always set your car at a mostly predetermined angle while in the slide, giving you control on the analog stick to adjust your car for ideal positioning when you’re coming out of the turn. There’s no worrying about applying the e-brake too much, having the tail-end of your car whip out too far, or losing too much speed while performing the maneuver. I appreciate that it’s clearly designed to keep you moving and not get in the way of having fun. Eventually, I was drifting around every turn, no matter how fast or slow I was going, just because it was fun.

Playing as the very capable protagonist known as The Boss, you’re able to get on top of your vehicles, even while moving. On the roof, you have a full 360-degree vantage to take out any pesky local gang members from the Los Pantheros or Idols factions you may be locked in battle with. You also have the option to take to the skies in the new wingsuit. If your car is moving quickly enough, you can jump off the roof and soar through the air to get far away or land on another set of wheels to take as your own.

Wingsuiting around Santo Ileso like a deadly and maniacal flying squirrel is exhilarating and some of the most fun I had with Saints Row. You start a glide from high structures like an office building or the mountains and hills surrounding the city in addition to the roof of a moving car. There are also spots scattered across the map housing mechanisms to fling you into the air; no skyscrapers required. It’s not always easy to find a spot to take flight, but I like how that reinforces the importance of ground traversal and being reliant on driving for most of your trips around Santo Ileso’s districts.

Utilizing the wingsuit is a great way to make it across short spans of the city quickly. While you’re always at the mercy of gravity, diving to pick up speed and pulling up to regain altitude can extend your flight sessions greatly. I love the sense of speed and the amount of control you have while flying around. I’d compare it to something between the cape from Super Mario World and Batman’s gliding abilities from Arkham City.

From my time with Saints Row, the shooting felt the most mundane. We had access to a suite of pistols, assault weapons, and rocket launchers, which all perform how you’d expect in a Saints Row game. Some of the wilder weaponry promised by the developer wasn’t available in my time attempting crime around Santo Ileso. Still, rocket-powered explosives and lesser ballistics were more than enough to take care of who or whatever stood in my way.

Outside of the gameplay, a question in the gaming community is whether it feels like past Saints Rows. Volition has been upfront about wanting to provide a tone somewhere between Saint Row 2 and Saints Row The Third, and from the small segment I’ve played, I’d say it hits that mark. I find the writing and humor are in the same ballpark. There’s plenty of cussing, s--t-talking, and other vulgarities which haven’t been present in much of what’s been shown publicly at this point. You are a group aspiring to build a crime syndicate, after all.

This core group of Saints is new, and you get to meet and become friends with them. It’s one of the best parts of past entries, and I’m looking forward to taking on the world with Eli, Neenah, and Kevin. They complement each other well, and even from the little I’ve seen, I can see where conflicts may arise, but I also get the feeling they’re ride or die for their fellow Saints. I’m ready to take over Santo Ileso with them and be part of the calamity and destruction caused along the way.

Be sure to check out all of our Saints Row coverage throughout the month like our Rapid-Fire Interview with Jeremy Bernstein, Lead Mission Narrative Designer. You can find everything at our cover story hub by clicking on the banner below.

Categories: Games

Metroid Dread Review: Space Truckin'

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 14:00

In the nearly two decades since the release of the last original side-scrolling entry in the Metroid franchise, the genre that the series pioneered has evolved exponentially. The metroidvania genre moniker alone is proof that Metroid's DNA has lived on throughout the lengthy hiatus. As Samus returns in Metroid Dread, it's undeniable that the series is entering a landscape that is littered with games that are indebted to it and in some cases improved on it. Nevertheless, Metroid Dread is a triumphant return for the bounty hunter—in large part because it remains true to its lineage. Like seeing an old friend for the first time in many years, Metroid Dread is charmingly familiar, an old-school side-scroller with a modern look and feel.

Metroid Dread, unsurprisingly, plays similarly to its developer's remake of Metroid II for Nintendo 3DS. Mercury Steam brought over the excellent counterattack mechanic from Metroid: Samus Returns to Dread as well as the manual sighted aiming system that gives you pinpoint control over beam shots and missiles. While Dread is pleasantly familiar mechanically, Samus has never felt this good to control. With a pep in her step and tight controls, Metroid Dread is silky smooth in motion and an absolute joy to play from a combat and platforming perspective.

Utilizing the same 2.5D art style from Samus Returns, Metroid Dread offers crisper, more detailed visuals that help make each of the locales and their enemies stand out. Rocky tunnels, molten caverns, industrial compounds, underwater depths--Metroid Dread is filled with the distinct level designs that have marked the series' storied history. Improved animations, especially from Samus herself and bosses, enhance the overall presentation while still adhering to the signature art direction and style the series is known for. It probably doesn't take full advantage of the Switch's processing power, but as a side-scrolling Metroid game it falls right in line with the series as a whole.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

Far Cry 6 Review-In-Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 12:00

I have a missile launcher on my back, a flamethrower in my hand, a host of poison grenades and throwing knives, and a killer crocodile that attacks on demand. But as I gaze out on the Yaran military base ahead of me, I know I'm not going to use any of those things. I'm going to pull out the suppressed rifle I got on the second mission of the game, complete with the first set of mods I made in the game's tutorial, and headshot each of the soldiers in turn until Far Cry 6 tells me I've successfully captured the base. I know this because I've done it time after time already, it works exceedingly well, and best of all, I can do it without thinking about all the other junk I'm lugging around--or worrying about that stupid crocodile catching someone's attention and blowing my cover.

Far Cry games have long been gigantic open-world affairs, providing players with all sorts of things to do, from driving different vehicles to flying around with wingsuits to hunting animals to experiencing side missions in the form of drug hallucinations. As revolutionary guerrilla Dani Rojas, all those options are available to you again in Far Cry 6--and more. In fact, the game is cluttered with systems, from base-building to weapon-modding to sending guerrilla teams on missions.

Though I'm still working through the game's huge set of story missions, to say nothing of its equally enormous set of side quests to complete and collectibles to hunt down, the prevailing feeling after a few dozen hours is that Far Cry 6 is overwhelmingly full of stuff. While a lot of its ideas seem interesting on paper, in practice, they're easily ignored. There's a whole lot to do, plan for, and keep in mind at any given time, and a large portion of it can feel superfluous and overbearing.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

Battlefield 2042 Open Beta | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 10/06/2021 - 08:00

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Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: DICE Release: November 19, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Battlefield 2042 may not release until its newly delayed date of November 19, but that doesn't mean fans have to wait over a month to play this sequel to the iconic series. Developer DICE is opening the gates a bit early and letting players test out one of the biggest shooters of the year during this week's open beta. After playing the game at a recent press event, we can confirm Battlefield 2042 is wild. We surfed a massive tornado, used a grappling hook to wipe a squad on a rooftop, and ultimately walked away from my preview eager to play the open beta.

Before the fun kicks off for the rest of the public, the one and only Alex Van Aken got a chance to preview the beta early and has some fresh impressions for you to enjoy on this episode of New Gameplay Today. The video editor-extraordinaire takes the opportunity to show off his impressive sniping skills while also going over how each class works and what his highlights were during his time with the multiplayer experience. But then Van Aken does what we couldn't usually do on an episode of NGT. He steps aside and lets the gameplay talk for itself. Van Aken flexes on the competition with the use of the exhilarating grappling hook, commits vehicular destruction, and even finds out how fun it can be to enter the heart of a tornado.

If you enjoyed the video and are excited about the incoming release of Battlefield 2042 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, be sure to check out the open beta details and our look at how Battlefield Portal works.

For more exciting game previews featuring looks at Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Far Cry 6, and Jurassic World Evolution 2, be sure to like, share, and subscribe over on our YouTube page. Thanks for watching, and be sure to let us know what first-person shooter you're most excited to play before the end of the year!

Categories: Games

Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer Is The (Guilty) Spark The Franchise Needs

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 10/05/2021 - 22:31

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Developer: 343 Industries Release: December 8, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: Xbox One, PC

Established fans and newcomers alike are excited to see if Halo Infinite can live up to all that the Halo franchise stands for. Whether or not it can remains to be seen – we’ve got a campaign to play this December – but if the game’s latest round of multiplayer technical previews is any indication, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is shaping up to be something truly special.

This past weekend, 343 Industries opened the game to Halo Insiders (which is a free program) who own an Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S and some PC players. This meant that two matchmaking-based modes – Social Arena and Big Team Battle – were quick and easy to jump into. I spent the majority of my nearly dozen hours with Halo Infinite in those two modes.


Before jumping into my thoughts on Halo Infinite’s multiplayer following this technical preview, I want to mention that Friday night, from about 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., three online buddies and I played custom games in The Master Chief Collection. We played to hang out, but that doubled as a way for me to touch base with a franchise that’s about to receive a flashy new entry. The classic Halo games absolutely hold up, but they are significantly slower than any modern FPS and despite how much fun I was having, I was desperate for a way to speed up match pacing (we ended up kicking the movement speed up by about 20 percent).

I continually told my friends I wish those old Halos were faster, smoother, and more strategic. Then I jumped into Halo Infinite and realized Infinite is very much the Halo of old… but faster, smoother, and more strategic.

Launching into the technical preview immediately brought me back – the classic Halo theme kicked in, my Spartan was front and center, and I saw the words Big Team Battle on screen. This mode is everything I had hoped it would be – large battles, vehicular destruction, control points dominated by players hoping to get their hands on a sniper rifle, and of course, that lone wolf who refuses to follow the team effort to capture the flag (okay, I can’t lie, this was definitely me a couple of times).

The only map in this mode that I played on, Fragmentation, is reminiscent of Halo 3’s Valhalla. It’s set on a Halo and specifically in a more natural mountainous terrain. There are two large alien-made structures on both ends of the map and between them sits the pathways you’ll take to either grab the lone Overshield, pick up one of the two vehicular requisition drops, or perch high above for easy Battle Rifle kills. Its symmetrical design keeps the playing field even no matter which team you’re on, and it allowed my teammates and me to quickly learn the “lanes” to best capture control points, flags, or get some easy Slayer kills.


The weapons on this map included the standard Assault Rifle, the trusty Battle Rifle, an occasional one-shot-kill Skewer, the Bulldog shotgun, and more. To my surprise, Battle Rifles don’t dominate the battlefield. I felt at home with one in my Spartan’s hands, but when I didn’t have it, I still stood a chance. I fell especially in love with the Needler, which is as fun as ever. Waiting for that timed explosion at the end of a round to kill an enemy never gets old, does it?

Visually, I wasn’t blown away, but that’s not to say the game doesn’t look good. It looks great, but it doesn’t scream new-gen the way other modern titles do. However, my biggest gripe with the technical preview stems from these visuals. Particularly the graphics of Performance mode, which brings the frames-per-second up to a blistering-fast and buttery-smooth 120fps.

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Simply put, Halo Infinite looks ugly in Performance mode. The textures take a hit and the game’s resolution takes an even bigger one. Each time I gave Infinite’s Performance mode another shot, I couldn’t play for longer than a few minutes. Its lower graphical fidelity put everything but my Spartan’s weapon out of focus.

I’m not the biggest snob in the world when it comes to visuals, but the lack of sharpness in Performance mode versus what I saw in the Graphics mode, which targets a 4K resolution and a frame rate of 60fps, solidified that I’d probably be playing the latter this December. Keep in mind that this technical preview took place on an old build and there’s a good chance 343 Industries has already quelled my concerns with Performance mode.

Elsewhere in Big Team Battle, I was enthralled with finding new ways to use the game’s equipment pickups. There’s what is essentially a deployable shield, a repulsor that can bounce back enemies and grenades dozens of feet, and of course, the grappling hook. The game’s marketing showcases the grappling hook quite often but to be honest, it doesn’t feel as integral to Halo Infinite as marketing led me to believe, at least in multiplayer.


The grappling hook is not hard to find, but once you die, it’s gone. Sure, it can whip you around large swaths of land with ease, and it never stopped feeling amazing to grapple onto a Ghost and hijack it, but thanks to its limited use, it quickly fell into the background of Halo Infinite’s excellent gunplay, much like the other pieces of equipment did. While these pickups are useful, they never felt necessary, and that’s because they serve to simply compliment the game’s already fantastic gunplay.

Infinite’s excellent gunplay shines most in the game’s Social Arena, which is where you can find smaller matches of Halo classics like Slayer. In this mode’s handful of maps, I was surprised with how easy it was to learn the maps, their layouts, and the best lanes to take out enemies with ease. I would have liked a little more visual variety – so far, every map feels like a training ground built for Spartans rather than something you’d encounter in a Halo campaign – but I still had a blast.

The maps make for the frenetic jump-while-you’re-shooting-and-don’t-forget-to-toss-a-grenade gameplay I’ve come to associate with Halo for decades, but with the added bonus that I could sprint, mantle up ledges, and ultimately play the game the same way I play every modern FPS.

With nearly a dozen Halo Infinite hours behind me, I’m happy to say that I’m actually (and finally) excited about the game. 343 Industries’ first foray into the series with Halo 4 was good. Halo 5 was… not so good, and for that reason, I’ve remained cautious of Halo Infinite. This weekend’s technical preview proved that despite my reservations, this game’s multiplayer is in good hands. I only hope the Halo Infinite campaign can match it.

Halo Infinite made our list of the most ancipated games of the year, check that out here.

Categories: Games