Alan Wake Remastered Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 16:18

This review has been update to include impressions of the Alan Wake Remastered, released in 2021. The initial review, written by Tom Mc Shae in 2010, follows. The new text, written by Phil Hornshaw in 2021, has been added at the bottom of the original review.

Until last night, you had never fired a gun before, but priorities tend to change when you're being hunted by unholy creatures of the night. In Alan Wake, darkness is your most fearsome enemy. The shadows are home to monsters who shun the light, growing more powerful as they slink through the jet-black unknown. You hear a noise behind you and spin around to examine your surroundings, pointing your flashlight from tree to tree, scanning the ground while you ready your trigger finger for the imminent attack. The world of Alan Wake is one of fear and tension--a place where it's perfectly acceptable to be afraid of the dark, because if you're not, you'll be enveloped by the evil forces that dwell just beyond your field of vision. The foreboding atmosphere that permeates every inch of this wilderness never lets you forget the dangers that await the unprepared, but the feeling of dread that defines the early portions dissipates as you get deeper into this moody adventure. Alan Wake doesn't offer enough surprises to keep you unhinged, but the storytelling is so enthralling and the combat is so frantic that you'll be sucked in until the thrilling conclusion.

A vivid imagination can be a dangerous thing. Alan Wake has been suffering from writer's block ever since he released his most recent best-selling novel two years ago, but he soon realizes there are much worse things than being unable to put pen to paper. A story he's written but has no memory of has come to life, flooding a quiet mountain village with demonic creatures that torment his every waking hour. The dark forces that populate this night-time adventure should be familiar to anyone acquainted with the horror genre, but the unique storytelling gives this game an identity all its own. The acerbic protagonist relays his thoughts on the outlandish events happening all around him through incisive yet oddly poetic prose that breathes believability into these supernatural events. Alan Wake's brash nature makes him unlikable at times, but his unwavering focus to save his wife at all costs makes it easy to empathize with him.

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Categories: Games

Jett: The Far Shore Review - Work The Plan

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 14:00

There's a plan to work and it's time to work that plan. That's all I can think of as I'm skimming over the ocean, piloting a jett (a type of jet aircraft) towards a destination in the opening minutes of Jett: The Far Shore. Protagonist Mei and her copilot clearly know the plan, but I--the player--do not. Mei has just left home, a secluded village that speaks highly of her for being chosen as the anchorite that will be a part of a scouting party for a space expedition heading to a place called "the far shore." I continue towards the far-off waypoint without really knowing why I'm racing towards it, taking my copilot's advice to practice maneuvers ahead of reaching the giant spaceship that will take us across the universe.

The fact that Mei's people are planning an exodus from their planet--one that appears full of pollution and harmful industrialization--to a distant destination in what I can only presume is an attempt to escape a dying world is already an intriguing premise, but the one-off comment that Mei is important for this journey solely because of her role as a religious recluse pushes me to quickly get through Jett's prologue. There isn't a mystery here, not in the literal sense, but I'm still left wondering what's going on, as no one is needlessly expositing information--a plan has been in place for years now and I'm just now stepping in to control Mei as she sees it through. And I want to see that plan through, if only in hopes of the process uncovering the reasoning for that plan.

To reach the far shore, Mei leaves behind her religious community to take up her role as a jett pilot.

It's an intriguing start to Jett, a cinematic action adventure game that sees you pilot a scouting ship across multiple islands located in the ocean of an alien planet. It's a pretty game--and its visual display is enhanced via a stellar soundtrack composed of soft melodies, setting an oftentimes somber tone for your journey over the world's stylish landscape--but the story falters on delivering a compelling narrative payoff and the gameplay is too restrictive when you're not soaring through the air. I saw the plan through and I discovered the reasoning for the plan, but my satisfaction in that moment was largely dulled by the journey I took to get there.

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Categories: Games

Exclusive Look At New Shin Megami Tensei V Designs For Mara, Kaya-no-hime, And More

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/04/2021 - 03:00

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

We’re about a month away from the launch of Shin Megami Tensei V’s November 12 launch, and what better way to celebrate than to get more glimpses at the game? Today, we have exclusive info and screenshots that show off the demons you’ll encounter and what’s awaiting you in Da’at, an alternative, post-apocalyptic Tokyo.

First up, demons! You’ll encounter over 200 demons in your journey. You can expect the classics, but several new demons will also appear, designed by Masayuki Doi, who has worked with Atlus since Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Today, we get to see how some of the classic demons, such as Mara and Kaya-no-hime, have been updated for the game. And yes, we also have more looks at Nuwa and her battle abilities in action. She’s going to give the protagonist a lot of trouble, isn’t she?

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Now that we’ve focused on some of the faces you’ll encounter, it’s time to look at the venue you’ll meet them in. During your time in SMT V, you’ll explore Da’at, an alternative, post-apocalyptic Tokyo. As we showed in our last update, the terrain of this expansive world will change drastically depending on the area, as will the enemies and challenges of the traversal. We also discussed Gustave and Cadaver’s Hollow, which you access at leylines which allow you to save at various locations in Da’at. Today, we have more screens showing off Gustave.

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In our previous update, we also discussed Abscesses and quest navigators. Abscesses are mysterious red structures that block your path, and they’re accompanied by powerful enemies lurking nearby. Taking down an Abscess unblocks the path and nets you Glory, which you can spend to master new powerful abilities called Miracles. The gallery below shows this in action, as well as quest navigator Amanozako, who acts as your guide as you explore Da’at, offering helpful hints and pointing to treasure. Atlus said she won’t be your only navigator, confirming some demons may also join you as navigators rather than allies in battles.

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That's it for now. Enjoy the more detailed look at Shin Megami Tensei V? Let us know in the comments below what has you most excited for the game, which hits the Nintendo Switch exclusively on November 12. 

Categories: Games

Hot Wheels Unleashed Review - Toybox Drift

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 10/01/2021 - 17:49

Combining fast arcade racing with nostalgic plastic, Hot Wheels Unleashed aims to give players the white-knuckle toy car racing experience the brand's commercials always promised. Complete with a mixture of real cars, licensed vehicles like the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and iconic Hot Wheels originals like the Bone Shaker, Hot Wheels Unleashed embraces the brand, letting you speed through creatively constructed plastic raceways in diminutive toy cars. Guiding these plastic vehicles through vibrantly colored race tracks housed in oversized rooms very effectively evokes the memory of setting up the original toys in my own living room when I was a kid, and that, along with stellar driving mechanics and feel, makes Hot Wheels Unleashed a joy to play.

Hot Wheels Unleashed's City Rumble mode takes the place of a single-player campaign, offering up an overview map filled with quick races, time trials, secrets, and five boss battles that can be selected. Completing an event allows you to advance further down a particular progression path, either making your way towards the next boss battle or finding an extra reward in the city. Each mission offers up rewards in the form of upgrade materials, coins, and unlockables that are either new tracks for the quick play mode or new items to decorate the basement environment. All of this keeps the single-player mode relatively simple, limiting the barriers between you and the next action-packed race.

The driving in Hot Wheels Unleashed hits the sweet spot of arcade-style racing, offering simple controls that still offer enough depth to feel rewarding. The game features only a gas pedal, a brake pedal, and a boost button. The brake can be used to drift, and that's as complicated as the racing gets. However, with each car having different handling and speed, mastering corner drifts and boost-timing is a challenging and rewarding experience. Learning the best timing for using boost on a loop or when to lay off the speed coming into a tight corner changes from vehicle to vehicle, delivering the necessary depth to give the game some longevity. Heavier vehicles like food trucks don't have as much speed but control more easily while racing and drifting, while lighter vehicles move faster, but can be more difficult to control. Lighter vehicles also have a higher chance of flipping over if you take a turn too hard or if another car boosts into you, so there are strategic considerations to be made, too.

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Categories: Games

Unsighted Preview – A Killer Action Game About Watching Everyone You Know Become Monsters

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 09/30/2021 - 00:00

Publisher: Humble Games Developer: Studio Pixel Release: September 30, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Unsighted is a kickass top-down action game with Metroidvania and Souls trappings wrapped around a devilish premise. Set in the dystopian world of Arcadia, you control Alma, a powerful human-like robot known as an automaton who awakens with amnesia. Her primary goal is finding her romantic partner, Raquel, who has gone missing. On a less personal though still distressing note, the automaton-populated city is running out of Anima. This precious resource is the source of these machine’s humanity. It allows them to think and feel exactly as we do, and without it, they devolve into mindless monsters called Unsighted. That means you and everyone else is living on borrowed time in a world already infested with these unfortunate beasts. 

You know how some video game stories are a race against the clock, but you really have all the time in the world? Unsighted isn’t bluffing about that. Everyone has a life expectancy measured by hours that constantly ticks down. Supporting characters, quest-giving NPCs, shop owners, and even your Navi-esque fairy robot companion are all at risk of becoming Unsighted. That includes yourself. Some have 500 hours to their names, while others have 100 or less. An in-game clock, communicated via a day/night cycle, helps keep track of how much time remains, as does a contact list of every notable person you encounter. 

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The premise is fascinating, but it also sounded stressful. I worried that I’d have to rush through a beautiful world – and Unsighted is a very pretty game – to save as many lives as possible. Contextually, that would be ideal, but the game also allows you to take your time. Days pass much quicker than real-time, of course, but not fast enough to make you feel like you need to speedrun the adventure. I’ve taken my time exploring Arcadia thoroughly, but I’ve also found a fun challenge in seeing how quickly I can get through dungeons without skimping on hidden treasures and upgrades.

You can extend your time and others’ by finding meteor dust, a semi-rare resource that adds 24 hours to anyone’s clock. I found it rewarding to simply help characters I like, but there are also tangible rewards for keeping someone around. Giving meteor dust to shop owners raises their favor of you, measured by hearts, and rewards discounts. My weapon-smith had over three weeks to live, but I hooked him up with some dust anyway so I could afford a powerful flaming sword. Shop owners also hint that they can create powerful items given enough time. Another character grants additional estus flask-style healing syringes at the cost of three helpings of meteor dust.

This system presents challenge though enjoyable conundrums. Do you help your favorite side character just to keep them around longer, assist a vendor to earn vital equipment, or use it on yourself? Knowing exactly how much time even the most superfluous NPC has left creates a powerful urgency, not to mention a perpetual sense of melancholy and purpose. A cheerful pet shop owner with a spider-like body told me his dream to find a way to safely pet dogs without scaring them, given his knife-like limbs. I looked at his remaining time, let out a sigh of relief that he has awhile to go before turning, and I made it my mission to make sure this guy lives long enough to pet a dog. The story unfolds in various ways depending on who survives and for how long, with multiple endings to boot. You can miss out on certain story treads as a result, giving plenty of reasons to revisit Unsighted after the credits roll.

This timer makes me feel more attached to characters as I can’t take their presence for granted. There also seems to be some emergent moments with NPC’s. While exploring, my fairy-bot suddenly stopped to confide in me a story about her long-lost sister, who she hopes to find one day and potentially opening another story thread. Though I haven’t lost anyone yet (an elderly farmer is teetering on the brink, though), I’ve committed to the decision that if they die, they die and to see the story through no matter what happens while bracing for heartbreak. 

The set-up rocks, but Unsighted also plays like a dream. The fast-paced melee combat is great, and a satisfying parry sets up powerful counterattacks. Alma can equip a variety of melee weapons and firearms (complete with an active reload), and you have the freedom to mix and match as you see fit. You can mix close quarters and ranged offense with a katana/blaster load-out. Want something akin to a twin-stick shooter? Dual-wield a shotgun and a machine pistol. Or go full barbarian with a heavy ax/sword combo. Weapons can also be used to solve environmental puzzles, such as steering a giant shuriken to hit distant switches or carry fire to torches. A stamina meter adds strategic mindfulness to encounters without feeling overly restrictive. 

You can customize Alma to your liking with various chips granting bonuses such as increased health, stamina, or buffs like health-draining attacks or faster reload times. You only have a limited number of slots for chips, meaning you’ll have to change load-outs for certain encounters, though you can unlock additional slots at special healing terminals. Furthermore, temporary cogs grant limited-use bonuses such as increased attack power for a set number of swings or a revive upon death. 

Complimenting the combat is Alma’s smooth, snappy movement. The way she runs, jumps, and climbs up structures feels great, and it doesn’t take long before you’re gleefully maneuvering around areas while slashing enemies to scrap. Unsighted knows how good it plays by challenging players with a fair amount of platforming challenges that, again, is unexpected in a game with this perspective, but it works. It also makes exploring Unsighted’s giant world a treat. The game is basically a top-down Metroidvania, and your main goal is to collect five scattered meteor shards, each guarded by a big bad. You can pursue shards in any order with certain obstacles blocked until you either purchase or locate a weapon to clear it. Along the way, you’ll find side objectives, lore bits, and other secrets worth going out of your way to uncover – provided you think it’s worth the time. 

I’m having a blast with Unsighted. The action rocks, the ticking clock creates real stakes that add a welcome weight to your actions. The world and its lore are fascinating, and it boasts a wonderful presentation to boot. I can’t wait to see how my adventure unfolds and who ultimately keeps their sanity by the end it. You can pick Unsighted up on September 30 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, and it’s also launching on Xbox Game Pass. There's also a demo for those looking to try before they buy. 

Categories: Games

Watch 27 Minutes Of NHL 22 Gameplay To See The Improvements In Action

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/29/2021 - 20:00

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Vancouver Release: October 15, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Opening day for the NHL is just around the corner, and hot on its heels is the October 15 release date for NHL 22, which provides the best way to put yourself into the on-ice action. Today, EA Vancouver gave us an extensive look (27 minutes to be exact!) at what to expect from the gameplay in this year's edition, which adds X-Factors and new abilities such as being able to reverse a hit or brace for it. 

The footage, which you can watch above, breaks down the changes to passing/receptions, how the Frostbite Engine enhances the gameplay, and the impact of the new stick physics. Outside of the beta, this is the most substantial look we've had at the game in action, so it's a good watch if you want to see how the new features look on the ice and hear explanations from the developers about their vision for this year. 

The NHL 22 blog also further highlights how the gameplay is different this year, which includes strength and body positioning playing a bigger factor in puck possession alongside an all-new deflection system that offers more variety in the ways you can trick the goaltender, from subtle stick flicks to more skillful moves that pivot and pull a puck back against the grain. 

The blog also details improvements made since the closed technical test, touching on everything from physics to A.I., to shooting and passing. For instance, A.I. defenders should face up the ice more and not move out of position after center-ice faceoffs. In addition, one-timer shot outcomes have been rebalanced to take into account the quality of the pass and reaction time. 

For more on NHL 22, you can check out our interview with producer Clement Kwong that discusses balancing the X-Factors and the status of the overpowered poke check. 

Categories: Games

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania Review - Fresh And A-peel-ing

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/29/2021 - 17:00

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is, at its core, a repackaging of the GameCube's Super Monkey Ball 1 and 2 (including a smattering of extra stages from the PS2/Xbox title Super Monkey Ball Deluxe) with a fresh coat of paint. The gameplay and stage layouts, with a few exceptions, remain the same as they were 20 years ago, but now in crisp and shiny high resolution. And, really, that would be fine on its own, as the engaging, pick-up-and-play charm of rolling a cartoon monkey around various imaginative challenges remains every bit as fun now as it was two decades prior.

However, Sega has also seen fit to update elements of the gameplay to broaden Super Monkey Ball's already wide appeal. Gone are the lives and continues of previous Super Monkey Ball games, removing a source of pressure and frustration. Instead, you have infinite tries to work out each level, though you'll still need to restart from the beginning should your monkey roll out of bounds. You are also given the option of a Helper Mode system, which doubles your time, shows you an ideal path through the level, and enables a slow-motion feature should you choose to turn it on. It's a nice form of "training wheels" for getting a handle on some of the more difficult stages that doesn't go completely overboard in holding your hand--though the game pestering you about turning on Helper Mode on each stage you fall out of more than a few times grows old very fast.

There's a catch to using the Helper Mode. In the older games, you'd need to complete a set of stages without using a continue to unlock the hidden EX levels. Since lives and continues are no more, Banana Mania instead rewards you with EX levels for completing a gauntlet of stages without the use of Helper Mode, encouraging you to finish those tough stages without additional assistance. Turning on Helper Mode also disqualifies you from the online leaderboard rankings and prevents the game from saving your score. It's a nice way to keep things from getting too frustrating while encouraging players to attempt a tougher challenge later.

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Categories: Games

Shin Megami Tensei V English Voice Cast Revealed

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/29/2021 - 15:00

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

With Shin Megami Tensei V about a month and a half from its anticipated launch on Switch in November, Atlus has been rolling out a steady stream of new information. We recently reported about the difficulty settings, special demons, and secrets you can find in the vast world of Da'at, an alternate version of Tokyo that has been overrun by demons. Today, Atlus revealed the voices players will hear should they choose to play with English voice acting.

The voice actors bring with them loads of anime and video game voice acting experience. The entire cast that Atlus revealed today is listed below.

  • Casey Mongillo as Protagonist
  • Jeannie Tirado as Tao Isonokami
  • Mark Whitten as Yuzuru Atsuta
  • Ashlyn Madden as Miyazu Atsuta
  • Stuart Allan as Ichiro Dazai
  • Sean Crisden as Hayao Koshimizu
  • Cissy Jones as Abdiel
  • Ben Lepley as Shohei Yakumo
  • Laura Post as Nuwa
  • Daman Mills as Aogami
  • Erica Lindbeck as Sahori Itsukishima
  • Kellen Goff as Lahmu
  • Chris Hackney as Fionn mac Cumhaill
  • Deva Marie as Amanozako

You can watch the reveal trailer for SMT V's English voice cast below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Shin Megami Tensei V launches for Nintendo Switch on November 12. Those who pre-order the game from retailers will receive an exclusive steelbook for their copy. To learn more about the highly anticipated RPG from Atlus, head to our Shin Megami Tensei V hub here. There, you'll see all our latest coverage, including exclusive information, the latest screenshots, and more! 

Categories: Games

Diablo II: Resurrected Review - Pile Of Old Bones

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/29/2021 - 14:54

It's impossible to talk about action role-playing games without mentioning Diablo II. The original release of Blizzard's sequel in 2000 was an inflection point for the nascent genre, defining the direction all games after it would take. It's one of those games whose DNA you can still trace in modern ARPGs such as Path of Exile, Lords of Wolcen, and the eventual Diablo III. But it's also a game that has been drastically improved upon in the two decades since its release, which makes its 2021 remaster a confusing re-release that does very little to address how the genre has evolved since, making it challenging to recommend over modern contemporaries outside of reasons of nostalgia or short-lived curiosity.

Like all of the games it would eventually inspire, Diablo II is a dungeon-crawler, albeit stripped down to the genre's fundamental basics. You progress through the campaign over a series of acts, each contained within their own map. These maps have distinct areas and enemy-ridden dungeons you'll need to explore, eliminating scores of enemies that drop all sorts of color-coded loot that help you get more powerful as you go. The more you progress, the stronger you become, allowing you to deal the damage required to take down incredibly dangerous bosses that provide a challenging climax to each act. The campaign is also not the end of your journey, with additional difficulties incentivizing you to restart and continue crunching enemy skulls for more powerful loot, and so on.

Where Diablo II differs strongly to its most recent entry, Diablo III, is in its role-playing. Here you're given three separate skill trees to invest points into, each of which will go a long way in defining what type of style your chosen class will take. My Necromancer, for example, focussed on summoning the dead over dealing out curses and magical damage, which led me to invest most of my skill points in only one of the three trees. You additionally need to manage staple role-playing attributes like strength, dexterity, vitality, and more, although these don't function as you might expect. Points in each mostly determine what gear you can equip, and not necessarily how much damage (physical, ranged, or magic) you deal. This can be initially counter-intuitive to how you imagine each point invested will play out, with established Diablo II players already knowing that the majority of these points need to go into vitality and little else if you can already equip all the items you need.

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Categories: Games

FIFA 22 Review - Tiki-taka

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/29/2021 - 13:15

FIFA 22 opens on a close-up shot of a steaming-hot cup of coffee, before panning out to reveal that it's David Beckham stirring the teaspoon. The former Galactico is enjoying some breakfast pancakes on a Parisian balcony, while a few doors down your avatar is being woken up by a friend telling them that they're late. It's a bizarre opening to a football game that also features Eric Cantona feeding pigeons, Thierry Henry and cover star Kylian Mbappe attempting to act on the Parc des Princes pitch, and blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos from boxing star Anthony Joshua and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. What's the point of all this, you might be asking? Well, it's all for an elaborate tutorial, of course. This lavish opening might have more style than substance, but it ushers in what feels like a new era for FIFA, as next-gen technology and a shift in tempo combine to significantly improve the on-pitch action.

During the opening tutorial, you'll learn how to sprint and dribble by darting past coffee tables on the streets of Paris, then cover the basics of attacking and defending under the guidance of both Henry and Mbappe. Running through these fundamentals will be useful for series newcomers, but it's an odd way to kick off the latest version of FIFA for everyone else. That's mainly because it only shows off one new feature: the ability to switch to a specific defender by pressing in both thumbsticks. Player switching has been overly cumbersome in the past, so it's nice to have a reliable way to take control of the best-placed player without having to scroll through each backtracking defender until the cursor lands on the right one. The only problem with this is it's still not quite fast enough in the most hectic moments and ends up feeling redundant as a result. The rest of the tutorial, meanwhile, consists of features that were introduced in last year's game, like being able to influence AI runs by telling your teammates which direction to head in.

FIFA 22 doesn't introduce any mechanical additions such as this, but that doesn't mean it rests on its laurels and fails to move the series forward. Instead, it's the inclusion of innovative new technology, and a more considered pace, that iterates and improves on the series' core gameplay. HyperMotion is the fancy marketing term for this new technology, but it's more than just simple jargon. By using Xsens MoCap suits, HyperMotion allows the developers to use motion capture on all 22 footballers in a real-life match. Previously, EA would utilize motion capture to record specific movements, whether it's a player striking a ball or lunging in for a tackle. By capturing a full 11v11 match, all of that authentic movement is implemented and immediately palpable in FIFA 22, both at an individual and team level.

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Categories: Games

Outer Wilds: Echoes Of The Eye Is A Time Loop Done Right

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/28/2021 - 17:00

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive Developer: Mobius Digital Release: September 28, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

2021 has been an impressive year for time loops. Titles like Deathloop, 12 Minutes, Returnal, and The Forgotten City have all shown us what it’s like to be trapped in a Groundhogs Day-like cycle – to varying degrees of success. However, one of the best time loop games I’ve ever played came out in 2019. That title was Outer Wilds, and its new expansion is the perfect reminder of what made that sci-fi adventure so charming and memorable. 

Mobius Digital’s debut title threw players into the role of an alien astronaut tasked with exploring the universe and charting their place among the stars. However, every 22 minutes, the sun goes supernova – sending our intrepid explorer back through the quantum continuum, forcing you to relive the day over and over (and over) again. To escape this cycle, you must get to the heart of an ancient alien mystery, undercover the secrets of a long-buried space station, and discover why your sun keeps exploding.

Outer Wilds’ world building is incredibly engaging, and its high concept themes create a vibrant narrative. Several times, I felt like a true explorer uncovering the secrets of the universe. These revelations are extra powerful because you are free to make discoveries at your own pace. Outer Wilds does very little handholding. You uncover notes and important lore details scattered across the solar system, and it’s up to you to put all the pieces together to solve the greater mystery.

By the end of my time with Outer Wilds, this universe felt intimate and cherished. I felt like I had charted every corner of the universe … and now that familiar home has a new mystery and more time loop goodness. Outer Wilds’ first expansion, Echoes of the Eye, slides neatly into the base game; if you’ve already finished Outer Wilds, you can easily access this new content. On the other hand, if this is your first time with Outer Wilds, you can also enjoy this mission alongside the original narrative.

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Returning players should notice a new museum exhibit inside the observatory on Timber Hearth. This exhibit talks about a state-of-the-art satellite used to map the solar system. After visiting the satellite, I discovered that this massive camera had recorded evidence of a dark anomaly in one corner of the galaxy. Pulling on this thread quickly unraveled my understanding of the Outer Wilds galaxy and before long I was playing cosmic archeologist on an artificial habitat in a dark corner of the galaxy.

Like the base game, you should experience Echoes of the Eye’s revelations firsthand. I don’t want to spoil too much, so I recommend you stop reading here and play the game yourself. However, if you like a good tease, Echoes of the Eye features a previously unknown alien race, complete with their own history, culture, and language. This race built a Halo-like ringworld that has remained hidden from the rest of the universe for eons. As you explore this station, you begin to piece together what happened to this society and what role they played in Outer Wilds’ larger narrative.

Some of the puzzles in Echoes of the Eye explore the use of light. Certain doors are only opened if you shine a light on them in specific ways. Meanwhile, boat-like devices can be controlled by shining a flashlight into the glowing green orbs on the side of their hull. I was particularly excited every time I discovered futuristic photo projector-like devices. These slideshows share the history of the people who built this station and wordlessly tell a compelling new tale.

I’m only a few hours into Echoes of the Eye, but I can already tell it’s worth the price of admission. My favorite moments from the base game revolved around exploring the tiny solar system and learning about its history. I marveled over the massive water world covered in tornados and watched in awe as a black hole tore apart a planet from the inside out. Echoes of the Eye is full of its own awe-inspiring sights. I loved hunting around the Halo world for new clues and solving environmental puzzles to uncover hidden doors. Every loop holds the promise of discovery; every time I accidentally drowned in a flood or crashed my ship into the side of a planet, I started up a new loop wide-eyed and ready for another adventure.

Echoes of the Eye releases today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Since this is an expansion, you do need to own the Outer Wilds to play, but it will only set you back $15. Also, it’s more great Outer Wilds’ content, so if you love the original, this is a no-brainer. Watch us play the opening minutes in our recent New Gameplay Today. 

Categories: Games

Aragami 2 Review - Shadow Dancer

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 09/28/2021 - 12:07

Interpreting stealth as a power fantasy, Aragami 2 deploys the shadows as a literal weapon, not merely as somewhere to hide. One ability discharges tendrils of black mist from your fingertips to grab a nearby enemy and fling them headfirst into your fist, knocking them unconscious. Such powerful abilities emphasize a proactive approach to stealth that's less about waiting for a window of opportunity to open and more about knocking a hole in the wall. With a lean, stylish aesthetic complementing minimalist mission design, Aragami 2 succeeds in making you feel like a daring and deadly shadow warrior, even if it eventually falls victim to repetition and a lack of variety.

Afflicted by a mysterious force that corrodes the body and devours the mind (most people would call this "getting old"), the aragami are gifted with shadow essence which grants them supernatural abilities. They call it a curse, but to be honest it's hard to see the downside. The most basic of these abilities lets them briefly assume a shadow form and dash unseen across open ground, grapple up onto the roof of a building, or down to the cliff ledge below. Combined with a double-jump, the ability enables you to fling yourself around a level with abandon, traveling swiftly to bypass enemies, move in for the kill, or make a speedy getaway.

Movement in this mode is limited by a stamina meter, but it's a generous one, allowing you to string together several jumps and dashes before requiring a moment's pause to regenerate. Traversal through an area tends to be a matter of grappling to high ground, quickly surveying the surroundings, then executing clean and decisive strikes, whether you're nimbly darting through gaps in enemy patrol routes or eliminating them one by one. There's nothing stopping you from spending half an hour hanging off the roof of a pagoda or squatting in some waist-high reeds before making your move, if that's what you want to do. It's more that the tools at your disposal, and the ease and speed with which you can utilize them, better encourage the fast, fluid approach.

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Categories: Games

Exclusive New Look At Shin Megami Tensei V’s Special Demons, Exploration Rewards, And Difficulty Settings

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 09/27/2021 - 05:00

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

Ever since the big E3 release date announcement at the start of summer, we’ve been providing you with regular check-ins on Shin Megami Tensei V. To this point, we’ve showcased exclusive looks at the cast of characters, demons, and the combat of Shin Megami Tensei V. Today, we’re diving into the world's many secrets, special versions of demons that represent Bethel, and how the difficulty settings work.

As you journey through Da'at, the alternate, post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo, you receive requests and suggestions from various demons you come across. While some ask you to hand over items, others might ask you to take down other demons. Completing the quests rewards you with things like items, Macca (the in-game currency), and EXP.

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The Shin Megami Tensei series has traditionally had some difficulty spikes, so Atlus is including three difficulty settings at launch, as well as one that will be added as free DLC. At launch, players can choose between Casual (more laid-back gameplay), Normal (for those who want a bit of a challenge), and Hard (for those who want a much bigger challenge).

You can select between those three difficulties at launch, and you can change the difficulty later in the game, but if you switch from Hard to either Normal or Casual, you will not be able to switch back on that save. You can, however, continue to swap between Casual and Normal at any point in your playthrough. After launch, Atlus will release free DLC for a Safety difficulty setting, which is designed to allow anyone (including RPG beginners) to progress through the story comfortably. More information will be announced about this in the near future.

As we covered in a previous story, the protagonist cooperates with Bethel's Tokyo Branch to protect the city from demons. However, as you play, you encounter demons representing Bethel branches from around the globe. From Khonsu and Vasuki (representing Bethel Egypt and Bethel India, respectively) to Zeus and Odin (from Bethel Greece and Bethel North Europe), you interact with a wide array of Bethel-affiliated demons, all with intersecting ambitions and goals that may affect both Tokyo and the protagonist.

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Of course, Bethel representatives aren't the only demons you encounter. We've said in the past that Shin Megami Tensei V features more than 200 types of demons, including classic designs and new demons. You'll face and negotiate with demons like Idun and Aitvaras, as well as Nuwa. Nuwa works alongside Yakumo and uses part of her power to attack the protagonist. However, it remains to be seen if she'll be an enemy or ally in the long run.

During your journey, you encounter a demon named Amanozako. She accompanies you in your travels and acts as a navigator. She supports you by informing you if there are items nearby or offering up other helpful observations. Other demons can also join you as navigators rather than battle allies. 

Da'at is an expansive world with drastically changing terrain, enemies to face, and various traversal challenges. Leylines allow you to save at various locations throughout Da'at. They also let you visit Cadaver's Hollow, where you can talk to its owner, Gustave, to purchase and sell items you find in Da'at. You should also watch out for Miman, Gustave's pawns that are scattered throughout, Da'at. If you find them and report back to Gustave, you'll receive rewards based on how many you've found. You can earn Glory, which can be spent on powerful abilities called Miracles.

You're also rewarded for your exploration with various discoveries. Vending machines can be found scattered throughout the world, which can be used to get relics. By bringing relics back to Gustave, you can exchange them for Macca. Treasure boxes also fill Da'at, offering Essences, items, and Macca. If you find a silver one (called Amalgams), you'll be rewarded with Glory. Magatsuhi offers you various rewards for collecting them; green heals HP, yellow restores MP, and red raises your Magatsuhi Gauge during battles. Finding and touching demon statues in Da'at raises your allies' levels while taking down Mitamas (rare demons) gives you items you can convert to Macca, EXP, and Glory. Every once in a while, mysterious red structures block your path. These Abscesses are accompanied by powerful enemies nearby, which will attack you. If you can destroy the Abscess, your path will clear, and you earn Glory.

Shin Megami Tensei V comes to Switch on November 12. For more on SMT V, head to our hub by clicking here.

Categories: Games

Actraiser Renaissance | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 23:12

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Publisher: Square Enix Release: September 23, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, PC, iOS, Android

Actraiser is back! The ancient and somewhat revered SNES title is back on PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC, with a surprise drop yesterday. Actraiser Renaissance is a remaster, and includes a ton of significant changes to the original game, though you can see the classic shine through fairly easily. A full-on graphical revamp, a rearranged and remastered soundtrack, and more can’t be missed, but there are actually a number of big changes to gameplay and structure as well.

First, for those not in the know, Actraiser is essentially two completely different games rolled into a single package, which probably contributed to its renown back in the day. On one hand, the player must head through Castlevania-esque side-scrolling segments with some platforming and big bosses. On the other hand, the player must also participate in city building segments playing as a god, in a sort of Populous-style game where city population, defenses, and more must be managed. Having a bad day? Not only do you zing little demons with your bow, but you can also transform the land and call down thunder, earthquakes, wind, and more with your deity powers. In Renaissance, this aspect of the game has been significantly changed and modified and has a lot more going on than in the original game – in fact, it’s something of a full-fledged tower defense sim now, including heroes that you can control and move around the map, acting as mobile ultra-towers. Is this good? Is Actraiser still worth playing today?

Join the Game Informer crew as they walk you through this surprise remaster, reminiscing about the cart of old and the changes found in Actraiser Renaissance in this episode of New Gameplay Today!

Categories: Games

Don’t Be Afraid Of Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars If You Don’t Like Card Games

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 09/24/2021 - 20:22

Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: October 28, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

Yes, the new Yoko Taro joint is, in fact, completely fueled by cards. The characters are represented by cards. The map and all locations are represented by cards. Dialogue happens via cards. In fact, damn near everything in the entire game is a card. However, even if you don’t like games like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra, or Yu-Gi-Oh!, you may want to check out Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars anyway. Thanks to a demo that landed on the Switch yesterday, we know that the game is actually pretty much a standard turn-based JRPG that simply uses cards and tabletop as an aesthetic choice, not as a major gameplay mechanic. 

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Sure, there’s still a bit of dice-rolling, and there is an actual card-based mini-game to partake in, but the game itself is extremely rooted in the turn-based RPGs of old. So, if your thing is more Final Fantasy IV or Dragon Quest, this might be a slam dunk when it arrives on October 28.

The card aesthetic is pretty cool on top, providing a rather unique visual twist on gearing up, leaving town, and grinding experience points while you exploit enemy weaknesses. Undead skeleton? Probably weak to holy magic. New sword? Equip it to your big and beefy guy. Magic staff? You can see where this is going. But the gameplay itself? It could probably entirely be represented without a single card, from what we saw in the demo. 

Just think of it as an interesting way to experience a rather classic game genre. It’s nothing like any of the major trading card games, and even nothing like the new generation of deckbuilding fare like Slay the Spire or Monster Train. It’s just a way to make a traditional JRPG stand out and look cool!

Have you tried the demo? What did you think? The release date is only about a month away, so we won’t have to wait long to dive into the full game.

Categories: Games

Diablo II: Resurrected Assassin Class | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 16:00

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Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: September 23, 2021 Rating: Mature Platform: PC

Diablo II is coming back to the current and last generation of consoles and PC today. With its release comes a return to one of the seminal dungeon-crawling experiences. While players will finally be getting the chance to play the Activision Blizzard project, we got to play Diablo II: Resurrected early.

Join John Carson and Alex Stadnik on this episode of New Gameplay Today, where the two editors break down their time playing the return to the classic ARPG and talk about how the game has aged since its original release 21 years ago. On top of our hands-on impression, we're also showing off new footage featuring the Assassin class in all its quick-hitting glory.

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.

Fans looking forward to Diablo II: Resurrected are in luck as the game releases today for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC and can check out the game's cinematic trailer here. Thanks for watching, and if you're enjoying our preview videos, be sure to check out our recent looks at Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Eastward, and Far Cry 6.

For those looking to stay up to date with the latest developments surrounding the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, we have an article outlining the SEC's recent announcement of its investigation into the publishing giant.

Categories: Games

Death Stranding Director's Cut Review – The Limits Of The Dead

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 15:41

Just like learning how to bake bread or mastering a language, going back to Death Stranding was one of those things I had always intended to do during lockdown, but never did. Returning to a gray, hazy, hostile world of death and human misery just seemed like the worst possible choice for living through a real-world pandemic. I should never have hesitated. In the face of all of Death Stranding's violence, its dead things, its surreal horror, and the bleakest, salted-earth portrayal of the post-apocalypse, there has always been this strong mote of hope and love and bonding and connection that's never been more necessary. If nothing else, Death Stranding: Director's Cut is the best excuse to return to the valley of the shadow of death, and find the grim beauty waiting there. What the new features and content bring to the table is simply making that return easier and more welcoming than ever.

Death Stranding was originally released for the PlayStation 4 in November 2019. In our original review, which you can read here in full, Kallie Plagge awarded it a 9/10, saying that "Death Stranding is a hard game to absorb. There are many intertwining threads to its plot, and silly names, corny moments, and heavy exposition belie an otherwise very simple message. That comes through much more clearly in the game's more mundane moments, when you find a desperately-needed ladder left behind by another player or receive a letter from an NPC thanking you for your efforts. It's positive without ignoring pain; in fact, it argues in both its story and its gameplay that adversity itself is what makes things worth doing and life worth living. It's a game that requires patience, compassion, and love, and it's also one we really need right now."

More to the point, however, Director's Cut is a bit of a misnomer. Despite the appeal of an auteur like Kojima taking a more proactive approach, tweaking dialogue and text files or adding scenes, nothing terribly germane to the plot, story, character development, or the way the world is presented has been messed with here. This is still largely the same game it was in 2019: a post-apocalyptic odyssey to reconnect the disparate cities of America at all costs, with our taciturn, faithless hero, Sam Porter-Bridges, facing the literal and metaphorical ghosts of America along the way. That's just the very tip of an expansive iceberg of a plot that toys around with metaphysics, the role of politics in our lives, the inherent nihilism of fundamentalist thinking, the social contract deteriorating, and lots more. All this is held up by a primary gameplay loop that has you playing postman to the entire country--mostly on foot--and across varied, melancholy-inducing terrain. Still, all of that was in the game we got two years ago, and by and large, the Director's Cut is the same kind of enhanced experience Ghost of Tsushima's Director's Cut was.

That's not a bad thing, it's just not a big thing. Newcomers and those starting from scratch will benefit the most. The Director's Cut features a much more elegant set of introductory challenges, clearer explanations of core mechanics, and some helpful bits of gear like the Support Skeleton and the new debilitating Maser Gun are available early on, taking a lot of the aggravation out of the game's first few episodes. There is an AR firing range allowing you to test out any new weaponry you get against static targets or on bots who function like the MULE enemies, which was especially helpful in letting me finally get the timing down for parrying using the Strand rope.

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Categories: Games

Chrous Looks To Reinvent The Space Shooter

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 15:00

Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Deep Silver Fishlabs Release: December 3, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

Nara spent a good part of her life inside a cult called the Circle that twisted her mind and trained her to tap into a mysterious alien force called “aether.” This dark, corrupting energy allows a special few to unleash godlike powers that break all the rules of physics. Unfortunately for the Circle, the cult didn’t keep a tight enough grip on Nara’s chains; now, this skilled warrior is free of the Circle’s influence and dead set on taking them down. Armed with the most advanced starfighter in the universe, Nara’s journey takes her to some of the darkest parts of the cosmos and challenges her sanity.

Developer Fishlabs is best known for its work on the Galaxy on Fire mobile series, but publisher Deep Silver has given the studio free rein to reinvent the space shooter genre with Chorus. The open-world space combat game is full of upgrades and a few unique spins on traditional zero-g combat. Several months ago, we got a very early look at the game in action. To get a better feel for it in a more polished state, we went hands-on for the first few hours with the latest version.

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Chorus begins with Nara on the run from the Circle. To gain the upper hand, Nara steals one of the deadliest weapons in the galaxy: a sentient starcraft called Forsaken. Nara is mentally linked to Forsaken, allowing her to perform incredible flight maneuvers, such as the ability to make tight turns by drifting like a racecar. Chorus offers a solid sense of speed, which is often hard to do in games set in open space.

Chorus is one giant open world full of a range of side quests and other random encounters. Throughout her journey, Nara can upgrade Forsaken’s equipment. Each weapon is especially suited for different tasks. For example, Gatling guns have a high rate of fire but low damage output, which makes them ideal against fast-moving targets. Lasers hit hard, and their focused attacks are particularly good at disabling shields. Finally, missiles are incredibly destructive against armored opponents but are comparably slow, making them best for sluggish or stationary targets. Forsaken also has three different mod slots, useful for altering weapons stats or further customizing the ship’s performance.

Chorus’ flight controls feel good, and its variety of enemies keep the action flowing. For example, Crows are lightly-armed crafts that fall apart quickly under your crosshairs, but their speed makes them hard to hunt down, and their overwhelming numbers can leave you in a bind if you don’t thin the herd. On the other hand, Vultures are heavily armored gunships that pack a punch and deploy frontal shields that make them difficult to attack head-on. Thankfully these lumbering behemoths are easy to outmaneuver. Finally, Shade-class ships are giant dreadnoughts that continuously spit out smaller hostile ships, so you will want to destroy them quickly before they overrun you.

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Even with Forsaken at her side, Nara isn’t ready to take on the Circle. She believes she needs to reawaken her aether abilities, so she sets off in search of a series of ancient temples connected to an ominous alien race called the Faceless. After completing these temple challenges, Nara gains new aether powers that help her both in and out of combat. One ability called the Rite of the Hunt allows Nara (and Forsaken) to briefly travel through the aether, meaning she temporarily blinks out of reality and reappears somewhere else. I used this to slip past barriers or reposition myself behind enemy ships. Another aether power transforms Forsaken into a beam of light that tears through enemy ships. Yet another allows Nara to seize control of enemy ships, turning them into deadly projectiles. Fishlabs says that Forsaken can eventually grow so powerful that Nara won’t even need weapons to take down fleets of enemies.

Space shooters have a long history in the industry, stretching back to 1971’s Computer Space. However, we haven’t seen many recent releases from the genre achieve widespread appeal. We don’t know if Chorus will change that, but it brings a few fresh ideas to the table. Chorus’ open space design, tight flight mechanics, and inventive upgrades leave us hopeful for the title’s launch in December. 

Categories: Games

Sable Review - Sandy Pilgrimage

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 09/23/2021 - 14:57

The titular Sable is part of a nomadic tribe known as the Ibexii. Like every child who comes of age on the planet of Midden, Sable must leave her clan behind and embark on a rite of passage called The Gliding. This involves venturing out into the wider world on a pilgrimage to learn more about themselves, the land they inhabit, and the people that populate Midden's sun-scorched sand dunes. Like those before her, Sable is bestowed a hoverbike and a Gliding Stone before leaving, the latter of which allows her to float through the air using an energy bubble born from ancient technology. With this, the stage is set for an open-world adventure that's equal parts relaxing and engrossing.

At its core, Sable is a game about exploration, with its mechanics and overall design all feeding into this central philosophy. Upon departing the Ibexii camp for the first time, you're free to straddle your hoverbike and venture off towards any of the four corners of Sable's vast but manageably-sized map. There are quests to complete along the way that maintain some semblance of order, but this is a freeform open-world game that disregards the genre's traditional objective structure. Generally, your compass will point you in the vague direction of your current quest, while at other times you'll be given directions that encourage you to discover locations for yourself. You can set your own waypoints by using the map or by finding a vantage point and using the Navigator to mark potential points of interest, and all of these are displayed on the compass that encircles your hoverbike. Crucially, you never have to stare at a mini-map or a big objective marker as you skim inches above the sand, and this keeps your eyes planted firmly on what's in front of you.

If you're heading towards a particular location with your eyes on the horizon, you're likely to spot other distractions along the way, whether it's a plume of smoke billowing into the sky and hinting at signs of life or the battered husk of a crashed spaceship. This kind of organic discovery is often found lacking in open-world games that rely on pre-existing points of interest and maps scattered with markers, and it sets Sable apart as you chart the world yourself by venturing towards whatever catches your eye. Midden is a fascinating world to uncover, too, with small pockets of civilization nestled in between the serene desolation of its sprawling desert. There are dilapidated temples engulfed by sand, a graveyard full of gargantuan animal bones, and an eerie forest shrouded in perpetual darkness--to name just a few of the sights you'll come across throughout your travels.

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Categories: Games

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/22/2021 - 14:00

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Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Eidos Montreal Release: October 26, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

After over a decade of domination at the box office and even longer in the comics space, Marvel has set its sights on pairing its extensive library with premiere video game studios. The mega-brand has seen massive amounts of success in its partnerships with developers such as Insomniac Games on Marvel's Spider-Man series, and Eidos-Montréal is next up to bat with Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Join Brian Shea, Marcus Stewart, Andrew Reiner, and Alex Stadnik as they check out this beautiful new 4K footage and geek out about all things superhero.

But that's not all. Shea got to play around an hour of the new game and gives you his hands-on impressions as part of today's video. In this NGT, we're diving into the latest combat sections, including looks at the different abilities Star-Lord and his team will be able to wield and even a peek at what ship combat will be like.

We also get a taste of what kind of upgrades and perks the players will receive as they ravage their way through the galaxy. On top of that, we also get a bit of a story primer as Shea tells us what's going on with Groot, Rocket, and company and who players can expect to exchange blaster shots with when the game launches on October 26 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Not enough Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy in your life? Fret not, as we have a considerable cover hub from earlier this year that features exclusive interviews with the dev team, a look at how Eidos-Montréal could get licensed tracks for the game, a deep-dive into the supergroup's origin stories, and so much more!

Thanks, as always, for watching! Be sure to let us know what you thought of the video in the comments below!

Categories: Games