Games

Is The Moonlight Greatsword In Elden Ring?

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/27/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: From Software Release: January 21, 2022 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

We had a chance to look at around fifteen minutes of new Elden Ring footage yesterday and also, to ask a few brief questions to From Software’s Yasuhiro Kitao. Of course, one of the questions absolutely had to be – is the Moonlight Greatsword in the game? The glowy, laser-tinged greatsword has been a staple in From Software’s titles since King’s Field, sort of like a mascot weapon, and was noticeably absent in Sekiro.

 This is likely because players only have access to a singular weapon in Sekiro, and a massive glowing greatsword would play a bit differently than The Wolf’s signature katana. The massive blade didn’t show up until Bloodborne’s DLC either, where players had to defeat the massive, dangerous Ludwig in order to obtain it. That battle is possibly the most fanservice-y inclusion of the Moonlight Greatsword, where Ludwig busts out the blade in a cutscene to signal the start of an incredibly intense phase two full of lethal attacks and big range. In Dark Souls 3, the blade is relatively easy to obtain with the Soul of Oceiros, the Consumed King, a dragon boss that’s almost surely inspired by another major character in From Software lore, Seath the Scaleless.

Anyway, we didn’t have a whole lot of time for questions, so we got right to the point and asked about the Moonlight Greatsword in Elden Ring. The answer was quite promising. From Software’s Yasuhiro Kitao remarked “Well, it didn’t show up in Sekiro so it has to show up sooner or later, right?” in a rather jovial tone. While we can’t share the audio or anything here, this response places the likelihood that players can swing around the gigantic, cool-looking moon weapon in Elden Ring as very high. 

Considering there are many secret areas to find and explore in Elden Ring, I wouldn’t be surprised if this weapon was tucked away in a hidden area behind an optional boss that might also wield the legendary weapon. Are you expecting to find the Moonlight Greatsword in Elden Ring? We’ll know if it’s in for sure early next year when the game launches on January 21, 2022.

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Categories: Games

Elden Ring’s First Legacy Dungeon Is Stormveil Castle

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/27/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: From Software Release: January 21, 2022 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

In a fifteen-minute video we had a chance to view on the upcoming Elden Ring, From Software showcased the first legacy dungeon in the game, Stormveil Castle. What's a legacy dungeon, anyway? These legacy dungeons are similar in scale and scope to areas that players might be familiar with in terms of Dark Souls dungeon areas and are not part of the open world that Elden Ring embraces. Instead, these legacy dungeons have all the bits and pieces that players can expect from curated From Software dungeon romps, including NPC interactions, looping levels, dropdowns, probably elevators, and various paths to take and secrets to find on the way to a big boss or bosses behind a fog gate. 

In this quick showcase, we’re informed that Stormveil Castle is the first dungeon, though players are not going to be constrained with a certain order of legacy dungeon completion in most cases. However, you cannot go to the final dungeon as straight away as you could in say, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. We don’t know the mechanism behind that, and quite frankly I’d rather not know until the game releases so I’m glad From isn’t talking about that at the moment.

In Stormveil Castle, the player is presented with a choice at the onset via an NPC – Head directly through the front gate or take a longer side route. Storming the gate involves charging head-on into a slew of arrows and meeting a gigantic troll face-to-face, so seasoned veterans are likely going to open the door, roll thirty times, and make their way to the boss. 

The side path is long and winding, up narrow corridors and rickety planks, much like you’d see climbing up Boletaria Castle or any of the other Souls-castle sides. Of course, archers and enemies seek to knock you off the precarious positions and cause you to fall. Along the way, we see some other signature Souls dungeon design elements, like dropping down from positions to find secret rooms. One of these rooms contains treasure and what appears to be yet another From Software staple, the early game knight monster that’s harder than the other enemies around, featuring a shield and some light magical accouterments. After that, our hero sees the same giant troll mini-boss creature that our headstrong warrior did, but by taking the side path, this character gets to tackle the huge problem from behind. With the troll unaware of our hero’s presence, the player uses a sleep dart on it to disable it and dispatch it quickly. Sleep darts are an excellent way to disable an enemy and guarantee a critical strike (similar to a visceral attack in Bloodborne) on a foe. Behind the troll lies a fog gate, a classic indicator in From Software games that a boss area is ahead.

A boss in Stormveil Castle

This boss is a multi-armed, massive humanoid creature that players have seen in previous preview screenshots. The boss is surprisingly fast for being so huge and wields multiple axe weapons. It was difficult to tell from the footage whether or not there is a “heat-up” or transformation as the player damages the boss, but in some of the footage it is easy to notice that one of the arms is actually a dragon head, something I am not sure was present at the onset or happened midbattle as part of a phase transition. The dragon head arm naturally breathes fire and can grab the player and fling them around or kill them. The boss jumps around all over the place, slams the ground, and is generally pretty awesome to behold. The action is incredibly fluid, and this looks like a very by-the-book From Software boss, which is expected for what’s considered the first canonical dungeon crawl in the game. It’s not known if this is actually the end boss of this area or simply one of the multiple bosses in Stormveil Castle.

The dungeon romp looked great, and I can’t wait to try to take on the main entry gate when Elden Ring arrives on January 21, 2022.

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Categories: Games

No More Heroes 3 Review -- Desperate Struggle

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 08/27/2021 - 05:00

No More Heroes 3 asks the question, "What if E.T. came back to Earth 20 years after leaving and was an insufferable asshole?" It's the kind of offbeat set-up for a video game you would expect from the unorthodox minds of developer Grasshopper Games and game director Suda51, and this basic premise contributes to what is a strong opening for No More Heroes 3. Between its 80s anime-inspired opening, your first taste of Travis Touchdown's cathartic combat, plenty of call-backs, and a suitably inventive first boss fight, it makes it all the more surprising when this initial goodwill is gradually chipped away.

The first two games in the series were rough around the edges, but that was part of their charm. They were scrappy and stylish, both revered and derived, with a punk-rock spirit that made them cult classics. No More Heroes 3 is zany and maintains those coarse elements, but it also feels forced in a "How do you do fellow kids?" kind of way. You still have to go to the toilet to save your game and jerk off to recharge Travis' Beam Katana, so the juvenile humor remains intact--it just isn't very funny. Not because the jokes aren't landing, but because there aren't that many to speak of.

Most of the story revolves around returning alien FU; an intolerable antagonist who's prone to random outbursts of violence. There isn't much more to the character than that, and the conversations he has with his cronies are plodding and shallow, with dialogue that's often about nothing in particular--and not in the good Seinfeld way either. No More Heroes 3 still has a habit of breaking down the fourth wall to provide knowing commentary on video games and gamer culture, and there are plenty of self-deprecating lines and overt references to the likes of The X-Files, Terminator, Akira, and Rocky. But these are flimsy band-aids on a narrative that's disappointingly tedious.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
Categories: Games

For Fans Of Destiny’s Central Storyline, Now Is The Time To Jump Back In

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 23:41

Publisher: Bungie Developer: Bungie Release: November 10, 2020 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC), December 8, 2020 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S) Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

Destiny 2’s Season of the Lost launched on Tuesday, and like many longtime fans of the franchise, that’s a moment of renewal and excitement for me that merits increased playtime and engagement. The full scope and story of that season remain to be revealed, so it would be unfair to make too many cut-and-dry judgments at this point. But no matter what else this season brings to the game, one thing is clear; after several side treks and setups throughout the last few seasons, the narrative scope has now shifted back to its central thrust. If you’ve been away from the game for a while, it’s an excellent time to jump back in and get up to speed.

I certainly don’t want to sound dismissive of recent seasons, as I think gameplay, investment loops, and storytelling have been in solid places for some time now. The Season of the Hunt set up some intriguing bowling pins with the return of a reborn Uldren Sov, the Season of the Chosen charted a fun deep-dive into the Cabal power structure, and the recent Season of the Splicer helped further the story of the Last City, the Fallen, and humanity’s shifting alliances. These seasons also offered fun new activities and an engaging weekly loop that invited even casual players to feel engaged in a living tale.

With all that said, whether you enjoyed those seasons or not, it was hard not to see the events as preamble or asides. For some years now, Destiny 2 has set up a narrative onramp to its big climactic beats. Bungie has been open about the expansions coming in the next three years, which should conclude the current Light and Darkness Saga that began with the original game’s launch in 2014.  If we think about Destiny 2 as a giant chess game, many recent moves have been about putting pawns, knights, and bishops into play. With Season of the Lost, the players are now moving two literal queens onto the board. If you’ve been waiting for the story to revisit a central thread, that time is now.

The return of the Awoken Queen, Mara Sov, was first meaningfully teased way back in 2018’s Forsaken expansion, while the arrival of the Hive Witch Queen Savathûn could arguably trace to 2015’s The Taken King, though it’s fair to say that recent months have much more aggressively hinted at her presence. Regardless, both characters take center stage in Season of the Lost. Knowing of her impending big-bad status in the upcoming 2022 Witch Queen expansion, it’s amusing to watch the first beats of this season’s storyline play out. After the reveal of who Savathûn’s been hiding as (I won’t spoil on the off chance you haven’t heard yet), players are suddenly and somewhat inexplicably placed into the dubious position of helping her achieve her ends. It’s like watching a car crash in slow-motion, or perhaps more accurately, a venus fly trap slowly closing around the fly; choose your metaphor, but in either case, our Guardians are the ones upon whom the disaster is crashing down.

The presence of these two godlike queens accelerates the story and ratchets up the tension. Bungie has taken its time setting up the characters and conflicts, and those efforts are now beginning to pay off. As a player, maybe Saint-14’s gradual turnaround regarding the Fallen House of Light didn’t capture your interest. Or perhaps you skipped Zavala’s reconciliation to the aid of the man who killed his friend, Cayde. Even if you did, the conflict at hand in the Season of the Lost overrides those prior conflicts, or in some cases, leverages them to move the plot toward its climax. 

If you’ve been away for a bit, the other big thing you’ll notice is the smooth cadence of gameplay that Bungie has finally hit upon. Over the last year, Destiny 2’s seasonal content rewards weekly engagement but simultaneously doesn’t demand dozens of hours to feel fulfilling. For many weeks at the beginning of each season, multiple repeatable activities help to move you through a meaningful adventure and conflict. Revelations, cinematics, and changes to the game world often come along with the experience. It’s an incredibly satisfying way to encourage player engagement, and more than any effort in the franchise’s history, this seasonal structure provides the sense of a living game world.

For this season, the repeatable activities echo the structure of recent seasons. First, a wildly chaotic and active matchmade activity, followed by a more curated mission structure that you can tackle alone or with a couple of friends. This season, the former is the enjoyable Astral Alignment activity, which uses the visual backdrop of the Dreaming City as a setting to let you blast your way through a variety of explosive battles. Much like Override or the three-person Battlegrounds, the fights are big, feature a ton of enemies, and provide just enough light objectives to demand you pay attention. Meanwhile, the new Shattered Realm activity is more constrained but no less enjoyable. Venturing into the shadowy locale, you and your fireteam align beacons and track down lost Awoken witches. Numerous currently inaccessible areas (unlockable through later upgrades during the season), as well as other chests and pick-ups, combine to lend a sense of discovery and mystery, even while you blast away at Taken enemies. It’s a good time. And even in this first week, completing these activities begins to peel back the story about Mara Sov, Savathûn, and the impending sense of doom they each bring to the table.

Beyond story and new activities, there are other reasons to be excited about what Season of the Lost offers, especially to returning players. The biggest is the long-anticipated arrival of cross-play. Over the years, I can’t count the number of acquaintances and friends I’ve made in Destiny who eventually migrated platforms. With one fell swoop, the player base has been reunited into one massive pool of players, so your console (or PC) of choice should have little effect on who you face the Darkness beside. Bungie wisely chose to maintain separate console and PC player pools for competitive matchmade activities, like Crucible and Gambit. But if you’ve longed to go on strikes, explore the world, and experience the story beats with your buddies, now is the time.

I also want to call out another specific quality-of-life change that feels especially welcome: Primary ammo is now infinite. For weapons like most auto rifles, hand cannons, bows, pulse rifles, sidearms, and all the rest, you can now go into battle with confidence that you’ll always have what you need to keep firing. That’s especially important in challenging solo or small-group activities – like Legend and Master Lost Sectors – but it’s a helpful change across the board. Beyond just ensuring you have ammo for your most basic weapons, it’s a move that simplifies the battlefield’s overall economy, getting rid of the need to run over those little white ammo bricks and putting the focus instead on tracking down the more valuable green and purple.

As is common in the early days of a new content patch, Destiny 2’s Season of the Lost still has some kinks to work out. I’ve had run-ending glitches twice in the recent Astral Alignment activity. I’ve dealt with login problems once or twice. And while I like the new matchmade activities, I’m certainly ready for an injection of fresh content in long-standing activities like the Strike playlist, Gambit, and Crucible. Even so, these first couple of days are a solid start for the next several months of play, and I’m especially thrilled that I’m now able to enjoy the game with players outside my primary platform.

If you’ve been a fan of Destiny in the past, and you’ve been waiting for an appropriate time to hop back in, I think it’s an easy recommendation right now. We’ve gotten used to a new major expansion every autumn, and Season of the Lost certainly isn’t that. However, the significance of the story at hand and the culmination of hinted events from the last year are excellent reasons to make the leap. And with cross-play enabled, you can safely gather your friends back together, no matter if they’ve switched their primary gaming platform in recent years. Destiny 2 has had its ups and downs since launch, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Bungie has a clear vision in mind regarding how to land this narrative. If you’re eager to see that final story take shape, now is the time to step into the role of a Guardian again.

Categories: Games

Martha Is Dead Preview - A Horror Ideal That Transcends Tropes

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 16:09

Publisher: Wired Productions Developer: LKA Release: 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PC

Martha is Dead is an up-and-coming psychological horror game from Wired Productions and LKA that goes beyond what one would assume from a scary gaming adventure. Instead of cheap jump scares and tired storylines, Martha is Dead explores the horrors of World War II Italy. But that's not the meat of the story; the true heart lies in familial bonds, expectations, and doing whatever it takes to feel accepted. It takes those feelings we all have and puts a terrifying spin on them, effectively crafting a wholly unique journey that every horror fan should pay attention to ahead of the game's full release. 

We recently had a chance to get some hands-on time with Martha is Dead, and I'll admit, I didn't really know what to expect going in. The first-person adventure centers around twin sisters in 1944 Italy. When Martha is found dead, her twin sister Giulia must come to terms with the trauma attached to finding her body after she was murdered. The game then becomes a quest to find out what happened, and without spoiling anything, the twist is intense and haunting in a subtle way that stuck with me long after my time as Giulia was done.

In this tale, the lines between war, reality, and the supernatural are blurred beyond recognition, and the human mind is explored in a beautifully terrifying way. While the pacing is meant to be drawn out with a suspense that makes the situation feel real, there are moments rooted in decision-making where quick thinking is needed, with instances designed to make you feel like you don't know which way is up, and which way is Hell. The design elements attached to this particular storytelling style left me feeling on the edge of my seat in a way that pushed me to want to see what would happen next. It urged me to uncover the secrets of what happened to Martha and attempt to unravel the grief-stricken mind of her sister. 

Set in the beautiful Tuscana countryside, the attention to detail in every stone and every room only further brings the reality of this story to life. Even better, photography is a large focus for Martha is Dead, given Giulia's love for this hobby. While taking photos is a large part of unraveling this mystery, it is also a nice feature that allows players to fully immerse themselves in this Italian home, appreciating its beauty, its simplicity, and this world's relatability. I often found myself taking snapshots of adorable birds I saw perched upon a crumbling windowsill or taking in the beauty of the lake's edge where the dark water meets the shore. This mechanic also allows players to set their own pace, taking in the sights as wanted without feeling separated from the story. 

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What truly stuck out the most to me about Martha is Dead is how this tale explores loss and its effect on the mind. It's easy to see early on that the relationship between this family is complex and oftentimes strained. Martha is the beloved favorite of the mother, who has a distinct distaste for Giulia's "oddities." The father, off to war, comes back to learn of his daughter's murder, and it's clear that he and Giulia have a meaningful bond. These ties further make the loss of Martha feel tied to the player in a way that I wasn't expecting. I found myself reeling from her loss, feeling it intimately, and feeling my own mind doubting what it was I was seeing. This is one of those rare games, as well, that truly benefits from alternating between a snail's pace and quick-thinking action because you never know what the next moment will bring, and that uncertainty kept me on my toes the entire time.

Between the setting and the haunting music, this world is a masterpiece. Every horror fan needs to pay attention to Martha is Dead because it is truly one of the most messed up experiences I've had in gaming in a long time, in the best way. Every horror has meaning, every tear has depth, and every step brings us closer to finding out what really happened to Martha and what the ultimate fate for Giulia holds. It's not just a walking simulator, though it does feel that way at times. This story transcends horror tropes and simulators in a unique way, offering a special look into this time period from the perspective of a humble family that has had their entire world turned upside down. 

Martha is Dead aims to release later this year on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. 

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Categories: Games

NBA 2K22 Brings Back The W, Adding A New Badge Progression System

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 16:00

Publisher: 2K Games Developer: Visual Concepts Release: September 10, 2021 Rating: Everyone Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Last year, the new-gen versions of NBA 2K21 introduced The W, which let you create your own WNBA MyPlayer for the first time and build your own path to stardom by playing for one of the league’s 12 teams. NBA 2K22 wants to build off its success and make the experience even more authentic, putting an emphasis on making calculated decisions that will positively or negatively impact how you progress during your career.

Today, Visual Concepts highlighted more of what that would involve in its latest Courtside Report, stating there will be greater rewards and bigger consequences depending on how your actions. You’ll also have the opportunity to grow your skills and renown by making connections with WNBA superstars who will help you boost various abilities.   

One big addition is getting an all-new badge progression system being added to the mode. You can customize your badges freely, allowing you to create unique builds depending on your player’s specialties. Badges come in four categories: finishing, shooting, playmaking, and defense. When you create your MyPlayer, the badges available will appear next to your attributes. By playing games, you’ll earn badge points, and once you earn enough to fill a meter, you can equip or upgrade a badge. 

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How your spend your off-time will also impact your player. Visual Concepts is adding three playable activities to participate in on these days that will contribute to either bettering your craft, gaining more popularity, or beefing up your bank account. If you partake in scrimmages, which only last one quarter, you have the opportunity to improve your chemistry with teammates. If being a team player is important to you, you’ll want to spend some time here. You also have the option to join practices to work on specific skills, which will only help you earn badges and upgrades for them faster. 

However, if you want to leverage the connections you make around the league, contact workouts let you challenge WNBA superstars, such as Candace Parker, A’ja Wilson, and Nneka Ogwumike to 1-on-1, 2-on-2, or even 3-on-3 games of 21. You start your The W journey with three WNBA contacts, and each player specializes in different skills that will help you improve your badge categories. Earning a W against one of these players boosts your badge progress significantly. And if you lose, you can keep trying until you prove yourself. You also have the option to eventually team up with them for workouts instead of always going head-to-head. 

The W online is also back, with some improvements. You can now team up with friends before hitting matchmaking, so you can take to court together. Playing online also lets you earn season XP, which can go toward rewards, such as adding historic contacts for workouts. This will refresh every season, but it looks like for season one, you get legends from the Houston Comets and New York Liberty to learn from. Exclusive clothing and signature animations will also be available.

We noted in our NBA 2K21 review that The W had promise, but needed more to it. Hopefully, Visual Concepts added enough depth to make the mode worth playing for the long haul. Time will tell. Also note that The W and its features are only available for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S verions of NBA 2K22, which launches on September 10.

For more on all the announcements about NBA 2K22 so far, check out our feature detailing them here
 

Categories: Games

Deathloop Preview – Opening With A Bang

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 15:00

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: Arkane Studios Release: September 14, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PC

For a man with all the time in the world, Colt Vahn is very impatient with his current predicament. I can't say I blame him, though. He's stuck in a timeloop. After playing 12 Minutes and Deathloop back-to-back, timeloops feel like one of the more annoying situations you can find yourself in. 

Deathloop begins in media res, as Colt is murdered by a mysterious woman named Julianna Blake. As soon as he passes from the mortal coil, he wakes up on a strange beach with no knowledge of who he is, where he is, or how he got there. He's understandably a bit shocked by the whole ordeal, having just been brutally stabbed to death.

Julianna soon makes contact, explaining to Colt his situation, and by extension, the rules of the game. He's on an island named Blackreef, where time is perpetually stuck; the people here live the same day over and over again, ostensibly for the rest of eternity. Aside from being his murderer, Colt has no clue who Julianna is or why she's talking to him. Julianna, on the other hand, knows Colt very well and is upset with him for something Colt doesn't remember. She tells him she will hunt him down continuously, killing him every chance she gets. Recognizing this is no way to live the rest of his life, Colt vows to free himself of the timeloop. 

I had the chance to play through Deathloop's opening section, as well as about five hours of the game's story. Because Colt has no clue what's going on, it puts the protagonist on a level playing field as the player, which conveniently allows the game to be frontloaded with tons of lore establishing Deathloop's world and rules. Done wrong, this can be an exhausting way to start a story, as the player is inundated with more proper nouns than they know what to do with. Luckily, Deathloop's two main characters are immediately likable. Colt fills the shoes of the player surrogate well; he's constantly annoyed with the situation, and never treats the game's world as if it's something to marvel at. He just wants to figure out what he needs to do and leave. Julianna is a great foil. She doesn't want Colt to leave; she wants to continue killing him. Over Colt's headset, the duo's constant banter brings a liveliness to the characters, who are both very well written and often funny. 

It takes a bit of time to get through Deathloop's opening, but once you're set loose on the island of Blackreef, the game's clockwork-like puzzle structure begins to present itself. Colt learns about eight Visionaries living on the island. If he can kill all eight within one day, it will break the timeloop. If he fails, then they come back the next day when the loop repeats, meaning he has to start from scratch. 

Deathloop is developed by Arkane Studios. If you've played and liked games made by Arkane, like the Dishonored series or Prey, then Deathloop will feel instantly familiar. It's an immersive sim. Blackreef is an expansive and deep world you're encouraged to explore, experiment within, and bend to your playstyle using various powers and weapons. You can go in quiet or loud, discover multiple paths to any given objective, and use objects within the game's world in unique and creative ways. No matter what you do, more often than not, the game will react to your actions. If you haven't enjoyed Arkane's past games, I'm not sure Deathloop will win you over; it is largely just more of that specific style of experience. But if you do like Arkane's prior output, Deathloop has the makings of a great entry in the studio's portfolio. 

Blackreef is broken into four large districts, each with its own leads, access to Visionaries, and unique storylines that both progress the main plot or serve as side content. Each district has its own unique flare – from a large city center hosting a massive party to an expansive research station near the coast – and going at different times of day changes everything from who and what is available to where guards patrol. You can choose to explore a district at four times of day: morning, noon, afternoon, or evening. At the end of the day, everything resets, but you do get to keep the knowledge you gained from one loop to the next, meaning you don't have to start leads over. This is a thankfully welcome feature that makes the game far more inviting to the player, and less punishing than other timeloop or roguelike-adjacent titles. 

During my time with Deathloop, I didn't progress too far in the story to see how many Visionaries I could take down. However, playing around in Blackreef during different times of day presents fun and unique challenges that had me trying out new approaches every time I visited a level. For example, discovering a lead in one district at night may open an opportunity in a different district in the afternoon, and so on.

Tracking leads throughout Blackreef quickly became my favorite part of playing Deathloop. The killing and powers are cool, too, but with limited time with the game, I just explored, seeing how the world opens up and how my opportunities change over the course of a day. I'm barred by an embargo agreement from publisher Sony from talking too in-depth about specifics, but I will say that once I pieced enough together in the world to find and access my first target, it was immensely satisfying and felt like the ends had justified the means. It takes a while to get to the bottom of any mystery in Deathloop, and based on early impressions, the game does a good job of paying back your time with fun new ways to play. I've already begun dreaming of new ways to tackle objectives and targets; I can't wait to play more to see if my schemes work.

I didn't get to see Deathloop's online components. At various times in the game, Julianna hunts Colt, and the two will have a firefight. The catch in Deathloop is Julianna is played by a real person who's entered your game. Sadly, she wasn't in my preview, so aside from a scripted fight with Julianna meant to serve as the mechanic's tutorial, I can't speak to how well it works or if it's fun having someone infiltrate your game.

After five or so hours with Deathloop, its combination of solid characters, interesting story threads, and overall solid take on the immersive sim genre has me immensely interested in playing more. The one-day time limit and the crux of learning how to kill eight different targets within that timeframe – an intricate ordeal, to say the least – creates a satisfying puzzle. We'll see whether or not that will all pay off in the end. But Deathloop starts strong and has me fascinated to play, experiment, and see more of its weird world.

Categories: Games

Jurassic World Evolution 2: Unlocking The Mosasaurus - New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 04:33

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Publisher: Frontier Developments Developer: Frontier Developments Release: November 9, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Jurassic World Evolution 2 is now confirmed to be releasing later this fall, and we were lucky enough to play the park management game ourselves for over two hours. While the sequel is certainly following in the footsteps of its Spielberg-inspired predecessor, it does feature some large improvements for researching and hunting new dinosaurs. One of the franchise's most popular dinosaurs, the water-dwelling Mosasaurus, can finally be synthesized through new scientific research made possible by the game's new Lagoon enclosures. 

Join Editor-in-Chief Andrew Reiner and Video Editor Alex Van Aken for another episode of New Gameplay Today, as the pair shows off 10 minutes of hands-on footage from their time playing Jurassic World Evolution 2. Watch the video above to see how they unlock the new Lagoon feature and unleash the water-based Mosasaurus, the fan-favorite dinosaur that's prominent in recent Jurassic Park movies!

Reiner describes the Lagoon enclosure in greater detail during his preview, saying:

When placing a lagoon in a park, it starts as a relatively small ring. You can add additional rings to expand its size. I believe I connected five of them to create a fairly nice-looking area for the Mosasaurus. Bringing this titan of the deep back took significant help from my scientists. I had to hire one more to have the research muscle to get the egg incubated. The investment was well worth it – the Mosasaurus looks great in  Evolution 2. If you want to create the Jurassic World scene of the Mosasaur feeding in front of a crowd, you can add grandstands and a great white feeder. If you don't want to do that and want to give it a nice place to live, you can attach a standard fish feeder to the lagoon wall.

Did you enjoy this early look at Jurassic World Evolution 2? Be sure to subscribe to the Game Informer YouTube channel and catch up on recent episodes of New Gameplay Today right here. As always, be sure to leave a comment on YouTube letting us know if you're excited to check out this upcoming game.

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Categories: Games

Riders Republic Preview: Ubisoft’s Sports Adventure Shreds

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/26/2021 - 00:42

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Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Annecy Release: October 28, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC

Riders Republic is one of my biggest surprises of 2021, and after roughly five hours of hands-on time with the game, it’s easily one of my most anticipated Fall releases. If this game wasn’t previously on your radar by chance, let me get you up to speed. Riders Republic is self-described as a massively multiplayer playground. This sports adventure title features a giant open world that is fully explorable by bikes, skis, snowboards, rocket wingsuits, paragliders, and more. You can group up with friends to compete in downhill races, freestyle trick events, team battles, and cross-country endurance tests that combine multiple playstyles.

Sports games are nothing without game feel, that tactile sensation that provides in-game feedback in response to player action, and Ubisoft nails it. Your vision blurs at high speeds, the camera shakes naturally with every jump, colors desaturate when you’ve sustained a rough landing, and controller vibrations make drifting into tight curves feel amazing. Even when hazards like rocks and trees are whizzing by at breakneck speeds, the game’s controls remain precise; if you do wipe out at a crucial moment, the Backtrack system allows you to rewind to a previous position and get back in action.

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While I’m usually not a huge fan of Ubisoft’s open worlds, the company’s commitment to crafting massive levels pays off here, as the game’s multitude of landscapes is a joy to investigate. The Riders Republic map amalgams iconic U.S. geography, including Mammoth Mountain, Grand Teton, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite Valley, Sequoia Park, and Zion National Park. Whether by mountain bike, paraglider, or backcountry ski, you can explore these massive areas in any way you like; and while its NPCs may gently guide you towards nearby activities that will net you new gear and unique cosmetics, the game mostly gets out of your way and lets you enjoy your time traversing its peaks and valleys. I love scouting steep trails from the air with the Rocket Wingsuit and then landing and riding downhill while soaking in the sights in the first-person mode. 

Riders Republic offers various races and freestyle exhibitions, but none of those activities provide as much spectacle as the game’s Mass Races. Players can join these massive multiplayer events by visiting Riders Ridge, the in-game social hub, a few times per hour. These three-round races are absolute chaos, featuring up to 64 players depending on which system you’re playing on, and require players to switch between different traversal modes throughout each leg. One race starts on a downhill trail of dizzying turns, transitions into a rocket-powered ski section through a heavily wooded ravine, and finally requires players to race through the skies to the finish line. While they aren’t the most dignified form of competition, Mass Races provide a level of crazy fun reminiscent of last year’s Fall Guys. 

I was initially hesitant to get my hopes up for a new sports game following the company’s lackluster release of Steep in 2016; but after playing the game for myself, I’m confident that Ubisoft has a hit on its hands. While aspects of the game still need some fine-tuning – grinding on rails feels a bit floaty and lacks a balancing mechanic – I can’t stop thinking about Riders Republic. Regardless of how you explore its topography, this is an extreme sports game for anyone, thanks to its abundance of playstyles and progression systems. Ubisoft is taking a leap of faith by doubling down on the extreme sports genre, and to my pleasant surprise, Riders Republic sticks the landing.

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Categories: Games

Saints Row Reboot Is A Roll Of The Dice For Volition

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 08/25/2021 - 21:00

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

Made official at Gamescom Opening Night Live, Volition is indeed rebooting the Saints Row franchise. And because this is a new starting point for the series, the developer has ditched its numbering scheme and instead simply calls this new entry Saints Row. We had the chance to see what the future of The Saints looks like at a preview event last week.

Volition has taken The Saints nearly everywhere. From a small-time gang in Stilwater to a public-facing crime family taking over Steelport, and running the United States of America before inhabiting a simulation of Earth and venturing into the galaxy after the planet blows up. Even Heaven and Hell couldn’t escape the influence of Johnny Gat and his compatriots. Volition had taken the previous Saints as far as they could. It was time for a new group of Saints to rise to power.

Four young criminals-to-be form the core of this new iteration of The Saints. Once again known as The Boss, your custom character joins Eli, the planner; Neenah, the driver; and Kevin, the thrill seeker. Each chose to break free from personal woes which have stifled them or put them in a position where they decide to take fate into their own hands and create a criminal empire – all while having a good time, of course. When asked whether any previous Saints members will make an appearance, Volition told us not to expect any connections to them outside of little Easter eggs.

The studio made it a point to bring Saints Row back to the contemporary crime genre it grew and thrived in. The team wanted to create relatable, modern characters who face similar obstacles to today’s young adults, like overwhelming student loan debt or being denied work in their desired field. Each character has their reason for joining The Saints, and you’ll get to know all about them throughout the game. Though the characters’ motivations ground them to the realities of modern existence, Saints Row will still be an upbeat adventure full of the series trademark humor.

Their stomping ground is Santo Ileso, a fictional amalgam of the American Southwest, and the stage where The Saints seek to find fortune and infamy. Volition described it to us as “the weird West.” It’s has everything you’d assume to see looking at pictures of areas in Nevada. One area will be full of bright lights and casinos, while another is a luxury area full of posh shopping attractions and spas for the wealthy to enjoy. Expect to see plenty of iconic imagery like colorfully lit Vegas-like streets, giant cowboy boots, bluffs, mesas, and plenty of cacti. Volition wants to make a diverse playground for players to explore, whether that’s by off-roading in the desert or base jumping off a tall building and soaring around in a wingsuit.

Within these districts, The Saints involve themselves in territory wars with rival gangs, take part in classic scams like the returning Insurance Fraud minigame. Players can install criminal ventures around town; a new activity Volition is introducing with Saints Row that lets you create a legit-looking business front with shadier purposes. These businesses breed new missions and gameplay opportunities while allowing players to make their Santos Ileso unlike anyone else’s. Of course, there are plenty of guns and other wacky weaponry, but we didn’t see anything out of the ordinary yet.

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Driving is getting an overhaul. A new driving model focuses on car combat where the vehicle itself is a weapon rather than shooting guns out the window. The team dropped movies like Baby Driver, Hobbs and Shaw, and John Wick as inspirations for the kind of action it aims for with this new iteration of Saints Row.

Two players can join together throughout the entire game in an online, untethered co-op experience. Both can explore the world at their leisure or participate in story missions together. According to Volition, everything can be completed together. The dev team also mentioned being able to prank each other, though how that plays out remains to be seen. Adding more goofy activities to do with friends is always a plus in my book.

Saints Row will bring its rebooted brand of criminal hijinx to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in 2022. Take your eyes to news hub for more big announcements and reveals from Gamescom and Opening Night Live!

Categories: Games

Humankind Review -- Culture War

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 08/25/2021 - 18:01

Ambitious in the scope and meticulous in the detail of its genre reinvention, Humankind is a 4X strategy game that steps out from the shadow of Sid Meier's Civilization series. In parts, it does so boldly, both confident that probing questions were asked of the most tired genre assumptions and ready to respond with enlightening answers. But oftentimes it feels ill-prepared for the task at hand, and for all its spirited enthusiasm, Humankind struggles for coherence.

Departing furthest from 4X tradition is the way in which you're able to alter your empire's abilities over the course of the game rather than having them defined by a selection at the outset. Typically, in a Civ-style 4X, when you opt to play as Cleopatra, you'll be the Egyptians for the whole game, with her handful of leader abilities set in stone and providing the same bonuses whether you're in the Classical or Industrial Age. Similarly, when you encounter Teddy Roosevelt leading the neighbouring American empire, you know what to expect. It makes for a consistent, readable experience.

In Humankind, you choose a generic, blank slate leader at the start of a new game. Then, as your empire advances from one historical era to the next, you are able to pick a new culture to adopt for that era. So you might choose to be the Egyptians in the Ancient Era, switch to the Romans for the Classical Era, then the Khmer, the Ottomans, and so on. Cultures come with abilities that emphasise different play styles, allowing you a deal of flexibility to change tack mid-game as new circumstances arise. They also carry over certain legacy bonuses so that the effects of your previous cultural choices are still felt in later eras.

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Categories: Games

The Gunk Steps Back Into The Spotlight With New Gameplay, Coming In December

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/24/2021 - 19:34

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Developer: Image & Form Games Release: 2021 Platform: Xbox One, PC

During today's Xbox Gamescom 2021 stream, The Gunk re-emerged, showing off gameplay and revealing plans for a December launch.

The Gunk comes from the creators of the SteamWorld series. You play as Rani, one half of a space-hauling duo mining the galaxy for whatever resources to survive. However, when she lands on a seemingly barren planet, she gets more than she bargained for with the gunk, which could mean a big payout. However, there's just one problem. The Gunk is also harming the planet, leading her and her partner to question if they should interfere with something they don't understand. 

Exploration is a big part of the experience, as you'll make new discoveries about the world by scanning the area and stumble on various biomes, from a rocky canyon region to a dense jungle. Once you eliminate the gunk using Rani's trusty upgradeable prosthetic power-glove, these different biomes retain their beauty. You can watch the trailer above, which showcases the breathtaking sights of the planet when the gunk is gone, and how much darker and bleak things look when it's around. 

The Gunk is set to launch this December for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. It is also set to appear on Game Pass on day one. 

You can find out more about the game from the developer here.

Categories: Games

Forza Horizon 5 Preview – All Roads Lead To Mexico

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 08/24/2021 - 19:27

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

Forza Horizon’s penchant for bar-raising graphics and intricate but accessible driving controls have been amplified by next-gen technology. The latest gameplay footage that premiered during the Xbox Gamescom Stream demonstrated this with ease. Mexico’s biomes in Horizon 5 teem with lush shrubbery, arid flatlands, sparkling seas, and sleepy villages/bustling cities. As always, where you travel and who you bring along for the ride are up to you. This time around, however, the explorable environment is more alive than ever before. 

What’s a Forza game without the constant promise of adrenaline-pumping spectacle? Is it any surprise that the opening seconds of Horizon 5 showcase a 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands (my dream car, by the way!) literally skydiving then parachuting onto the bumpy slopes of an active volcano? While the offroad SUV deftly maneuvers past eroding rock formations and sharp gravel, you can spot a sea of storm clouds enveloping the landscape in every direction; the Gran Caldera is the highest navigable spot in the entirety of Playground Games’ open-world racing franchise, after all. The Bronco begins its dangerous descent towards the Baja Desert, fissures brimming with inlets of steaming lava and raindrops lightly pattering against the vehicle’s broad windshield. Don’t be fooled by the heat. Creative director Mike Brown asserts that this is Mexico’s winter season, and, on cue, the molten earth gives way to thick layers of snow and sleet. 

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Forza Horizon 5 is a transitional game that bridges the gap between the two titles before it and showcases a brilliant new vision of the developer’s immense ambitions. Moreover, this is the first installment specifically designed to utilize the power of the Xbox Series X/S. In one moment, the 2020 Corvette Stingray carves a speedy path through the Mexican farmlands as an encroaching duststorm threatens to paint the field of view rust-orange. Suddenly, the Porsche 911 Desert Flyer speeds through a dense jungle towards an ancient temple. Finally, a Mercedes AMG One confidently coasts down the pavement streets of small settlements, palm trees swaying in the breeze. As always, there’s much to see, but there’s even more to do. 

The Horizon series may not be known for its campaign, but 5 ups the ante with hundreds of challenges and miscellaneous activities like the multiplayer-focused Horizon Arcade and the EventLab, which provides complex toolsets to create/share custom races, challenges, stunts, and more. Yet, the most interesting mechanic allows players to choose the outcomes of story missions. How this is implemented and what this means for the dynamic world remains to be seen. Forza fans are guaranteed a bevy of content, and with weekly seasons returning, Mexico’s look and feel will shift frequently. But what about the depiction of the customs that make the country so unique? When asked about how Playground Games avoided cultural clichés and typecasts during an earlier showing of this same Gamescom trailer, Mike Brown concluded the preview event by emphasizing the team’s boots-on-the-ground research and collaboration with Mexican citizens – from popular music artists to humble tour guides:

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“This is something that we’ve absolutely taken very seriously. We’ve had teams in Mexico – at least, where COVID allowed us, and we were really lucky to make a lot of contacts during those trips. Even if members of our team weren’t able to travel back there, we had people on the ground who were photographers and tour guides that we could contact and say, ‘hey, we’d really like to get more reference on a given thing’ and then they could grab the photographs or videos or whatever it was that we needed. We had an audio team out there quite recently, capturing ambient audio so that each biome has its own suite to recreate the feel of being in those places. And we’ve worked with Mexican scriptwriters and cultural consultants to ensure that we’re not playing off any stereotypes. We want this to be a game that feels like it’s been made with care and love, something truly authentic.”

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

Categories: Games

Aliens: Fireteam Elite -- Suicide Squad

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 08/23/2021 - 16:49

In the first real skirmish in Aliens: Fireteam Elite, you encounter more of the series' iconic Xenomorphs than in all of the films combined. This third-person shooter trades the slow tension of escaping one extraterrestrial predator for the chaos of trying to survive waves of hundreds at a time, instilling a different type of dread that the franchise has rarely balanced successfully. While not without its issues, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a strong step towards realizing the potential in that approach, with a surprisingly deep progression system, consistently entertaining firefights, and engrossing presentation that keeps the action gripping throughout.

Akin to squad-based shooters such as Left 4 Dead, Aliens: Fireteam Elite plays out over a series of acts which are part of larger chapters, and each one features new enemies and set pieces for your team of three colonial marines to tackle headfirst. The story leans heavily into iconography and tropes from classic Alien films, but its narrative is also influenced by modern entries such as Prometheus, directly referencing events from the divisive project. It doesn't add much to the overall lore of the series in its trajectory, nor does it potentially set up anything meaningful, but it is a nice touch for each chapter to feel like it has a significant place within the universe.

The third-person action is the foundation on which everything is built, though, and it's a strong one at that. Aliens: Fireteam Elite pulls generously from the pool of weapons available to Colonial Marines, with the recognizable pulse rifle just being the tip of the iceberg in terms of enjoyable weaponry you'll be able to wield. There are notable inclusions in every tier of weapon type, with powerful flamethrowers and enemy-seeking smart guns being desirable heavy weapons and a burst-shot hand cannon or sawn-off shotgun being notable in the sidearm category.

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Categories: Games

Psychonauts 2 Review -- Mind Over Matter

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 08/23/2021 - 14:00

Sixteen years ago, Psychonauts made a cartoonish, comically lopsided world feel believable and weighted thanks to its loveable characters and earnest storytelling. Now, Psychonauts 2 builds upon this foundation to reach ambitious new heights, while equally deepening its roots to impressive depths. It takes already well-realized characters and makes them more complex, even if that means traveling to the darker corners of their minds.

It's a dazzling display of Double Fine's signature humor and creativity, but underneath the whimsical, action-platformer is a game about choices and forgiveness. Psychonauts 2 does more than just fill the shoes of its beloved predecessor, it sets itself apart as a classic in its own right.

After a snappy catch-up for newcomers, the story picks up only days after the first game, and moments after the VR sequel-interlude Psychonauts in the Rhombus Of Ruin. 10-year-old psychic-prodigy Razputin Aquato (you) has saved the leader of the Psychonauts, Truman Zanotto, from the grips of dentist/amatuer brain surgeon Dr. Loboto.

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Categories: Games

Rubber Bandits: Summer Prologue Aims To Serve Up Party Fun

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 08/21/2021 - 21:30

Publisher: Flashbulb Developer: Flashbulb Platform: PC

If you have a few minutes and you’re looking to party this summer (Yes, there’s still a little bit of summer left) grab a few friends for sharks, squirt guns, and shopping carts. While the full Rubber Bandits game doesn’t have a release date yet, the summer prologue demo is on Steam and free-to-play. In this case, free-to-party. Combining a few different genres, primarily the physics-based brawler (i.e., Gang Beasts) and party titles like Mario Party, the combination is worth a shot if you’re surfing Steam for something for you and your Discord crew.

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After you pick your wacky-waving character, use those flailing limbs to pick up and throw around pretty much everything in the environment to land a win. As with many other games that fall into the party category, it’s better to bring friends with you to start a game.

Weird weapons are always cool to see explored in games, and Summer Prologue has a plethora of them. There’s a bunch of traditional items to slam your opponents with, but a host of off-the-wall items keep one remembering that this is, in fact, a party game. The shark-in-a-shopping cart is the show-stealer, essentially an object that can be moved around and eats anything that wanders within range. Protip: Don’t be in range, ever. Water balloons, ice guns, dead fish, soda cans, there’s a bunch of stuff to use in Summer Prologue that fit the scene and the spontaneity that Flashbulb is going for here. You can even take on your opponents with a piece of bread. Yup, a hard baguette. Ow!

Different environments and stages keep things going even after you’ve mastered the art of throwing various objects around. Environmental foibles like bouncy bars add new elements as you attempt to keep your character grounded to aim up a lethal throw, but get ready to be airborne and trying helplessly to maintain control of your character.

This demo or prologue only features brawl mod, so it’s kind of a bite-sized look forward for Rubber Bandits. The entire game contains (and focuses on) a heist experience combined with these aspects, so it will likely be quite different from the summer prologue. But if any of the other elements seem interesting to you, it’s there for free to pop into on Steam for some shark-in-a-shopping cart adventure.

Categories: Games

Naraka Bladepoint Review -- House of Flying Daggers

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 21:24

If absolutely nothing else, be grateful to Naraka Bladepoint for being one of a scant few battle royale titles where getting one-shotted by someone hiding in a shrub three football fields away isn't a danger. That by itself makes it welcoming in a way the genre tends to ignore. But lurking beneath that relative ease and approachability is a shrewd game of wuxia-inspired combat that demandsfar more steelfrom its players--and we're not just talking about swords and spears.

The basic premise of Naraka Bladepoint involves a secret island where warring gods once battled to their deaths, and warriors now battle for the smallest part of the gods' power. But that story all but evaporates after the tutorial stage, aside from some skimpy lore cards for each character unlocked after reaching a certain XP level. All you really need to know is you're on an island of abandoned villages, scattered weapon caches, and an undulating purple wall of death that ushers 60 brave warriors closer and closer together. Your sole mission is to be the last person standing, by any and all means necessary.

Survival means combat, but instead of the usual pistols/shotguns/assault rifles, you're primarily looking at melee weapons. Ranged options do exist, from crossbows and slow-firing muskets to environmental hazards that can be triggered by the right slice or shot at the right time. You also have a grappling hook that not only allows you to zip across the map and onto higher ground, but also harpoon and fly at opponents Attack on Titan-style.Aside from the hook, each ranged option exists to merely soften up opponents from a distance as they close in. Getting the big fat kill involves getting up close and personal with something sharp, and here, showdowns with opponents have more in common with Dynasty Warriors and SoulCalibur than Fortnite.

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Categories: Games

Madden NFL 22 Review -- Momentum Shift

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 15:35

Seattle Seahawks fans have caused minor earthquakes in the past, such is the raucousness of the aptly named 12th Man. The crowd at CenturyLink Field has also earned two Guinness World Records for the loudest roar recorded at a sports stadium, once registering a deafening 137.6 decibels back in 2014. Of course, Seattle isn't the only city known for its boisterous fans and intimidating atmosphere, and this is reflected throughout the various stadiums in Madden NFL 22. After criticism that last year's game was light on new content--particularly as it relates to Franchise mode--developer EA Tiburon has introduced a number of sweeping changes this time around, with the crowd being the most prominent right out of the gate.

The new Gameday Atmosphere feature brings crowds to life with new animations and remastered fan recordings that more accurately replicate what you're likely to see and hear on any given Sunday. It also extends beyond the cosmetic side, too, as the ball will fly further in Denver's high altitude, while the wind will play havoc with your field goal team in Chicago. On top of this, the intensity of the home fans will have an impact on the way games can play out. This feature is called Gameday Momentum, and it introduces a momentum meter to the top of the screen that will shift back and forth like a tug-of-war depending on the performance of each team. If momentum is on your side--because of a big sack or crucial touchdown, for instance--you'll gain access to various bonuses (called M-Factors) that give your team an edge in certain situations. This works in tandem with Gameday Atmosphere to ratchet up the significance of home field advantage, especially when playing in front of crowds known for their vociferousness.

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The aforementioned 12th Man of the Seattle Seahawks will cause the opposing team's pre-snap play art to be distorted on 3rd and 4th down, turning each receiver's route into a squiggly mess. Elsewhere, Vikings players will gain a small speed boost in the red zone when the "Skol" chant reverberates around the U.S. Bank Stadium. It looks and sounds a tad gamified on the surface, but Gameday Momentum and Atmosphere are crucial additions that capture the unique fandom of each team and accurately reflect the wild swings in momentum that can occur during the course of a heated football game. It gives rivalries that big game feel and intensifies those drives where the home fans are fervently working against you. The impact of home field advantage in the NFL is tangible, and can often be the difference between winning and losing, yet Madden 22 marks the first time the series has truly emulated such an integral part of the sport.

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Categories: Games

WarioWare: Get It Together Preview – Microgame Marathons Return

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 14:00

Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo Release: September 10, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: Switch

The news that WarioWare was returning and making its debut on the Nintendo Switch was met with enthusiasm from fans of the series' zany pedigree of "microgames." The franchise's long-running gimmick of throwing marathons of these simple games that take less than a few seconds to complete has resonated with players since its Game Boy Advance debut in 2003. Now, Wario and his friends are back with more microgames for players to complete and several interesting twists to the WarioWare formula.

When you load into WarioWare: Get It Together's main menu, you see options for Story, Variety Pack, Play-o-pedia, Wario Cup, Crew, Missions, and Local Wireless. From the onset, it seems like this WarioWare has a good amount of meat on its bones, and as soon as my demoist dives into the myriad menu options, my impressions are confirmed.

My demo starts in Story mode, which delivers the traditional WarioWare experience. Here, you follow Wario and his crew after they release their latest game. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and they all get sucked into their own game. As you play through Story, you encounter different characters from Wario's team as they play through the game's themes. For example, Dribble and Spitz's theme is fantasy.

Story mode can be enjoyed by one or two players. When you enter Story mode, you select a character to play as, plus a party of characters. Depending on the theme, you get the opportunity to use this party in certain circumstances. For example, in the demo released on the Nintendo eShop last night, you rotate through the characters as you play through the microgames. Once you start going through a Story sequence, it's the same WarioWare players know and love: The game throws tons of bite-sized microgames at you with minimal time to react to the instructions that flash on the screen, figure out how to play the microgame, and complete the objective. If you're playing cooperatively, you have the added chaos of figuring out which character you're controlling, how that specific character controls, and how to best use your character's specific abilities to solve the microgame. 

While all the microgames I saw in Story mode are housed in one section, the diverse collection and wild material fit right in with WarioWare's history. In one game, the players have to lure an octopus into a cage, then close the door behind it, while in another, the players need to give a floating plant man a high-five. The Story section culminates with a boss stage; in this case, you need to protect a character from tentacles long enough to earn a key, then use the key to open the gate and push the character into the escape area. It's a strange concept, made even more unique by introducing the various characters' special abilities. With more than 200 microgames included in the WarioWare: Get It Together package, I'm excited to see just how unique they get.

After the boss stage, we back out of Story mode and jump into Variety Pack. This mode serves as a hub for party-style minigames. These games operate as longer-form explorations of WarioWare: Get It Together's mechanics. In Daily Grind, which supports one to four players, you traverse through side-scrolling stages with obstacles, enemies, and collectibles using the game's various characters. Each time you get a power-up, you change to a new character, keeping the experience fresh and earning bonus points. Because the characters have unique abilities, you never know what you will get when you swap to a new one. For example, Dribble can blast enemies so they don't hit him, while Dr. Crygor can swim and charge through the air. If one player gets KO'd, they don't finish the day or deposit their points, but they respawn at the start of the next level.

The other Variety Pack game I see in action is Puck 'er Up. This game, which is made for two to four players, is a twisted version of air hockey that incorporates WarioWare's microgames each time someone scores. If you manage to get the puck in a goal using your character's abilities and moves, you are transported into a microgame while the other players do their best to disrupt you from outside the game. Though the scoring player is the only one in the microgame, the other players can attack the smaller screen you're on by shaking, rotating, or squishing it. The disruptions are almost too effective, sometimes making the microgame impossible to see, but it's definitely in line with the over-the-top nature of the rest of the package.

While I don't necessarily go to WarioWare for longer-form gameplay like Variety Pack, the games all feel in line with the original WarioWare spirit. I'm excited to try these games for myself, but for now, they look super fun, even if I anticipate spending more time with the standard WarioWare modes.

In Play-o-pedia, you can access information on all the microgames you've encountered, as well as get hints on where to go to find new ones. You can also replay them in rapid-fire fashion. My demoist selects High Tech, a microgame where the two players must navigate a short platforming maze to reach the roof and escape in a helicopter. When you choose your character, the game tells you how suited for that specific microgame the character's abilities are. Then, once you enter the mode, you repeatedly play the same microgame to see how fast and difficult the game can get before failing. This mode seems like a lot of fun and a great way to master microgames you struggle with.

In Crew, you can see and interact with all the characters on the WarioWare roster. You can enter practice courses with each character to better learn their movements and abilities and customize your favorites with cosmetic colors. This mode also lets you gift presents, which are purchased using earned Wario Coins, to characters. If you give the right character a present they like, they can become more powerful.

WarioWare: Get It Together rounds out with Wario Cup and Missions. Wario Cup lets you play competitively to get the highest score possible, then upload your highest score to a leaderboard via a ranked mode. Once in the leaderboard, you can compare your score globally or against friends. I didn't learn too much about Missions, other than they are another way to earn the in-game Wario Coin currency, so while I think they are side goals that you complete while you play, I can only speculate at this point.

While I didn't have a chance to play WarioWare: Get It Together, seeing it in action made me recall all the fond memories of playing my favorite games in the series like Mega Microgame$, Touched, and Smooth Moves. I can't wait to see just how chaotic the multiplayer can truly get when WarioWare: Get It Together releases for Switch on September 10. 

Categories: Games

Inspired By Madden, NHL 22 Introduces Superstar X-Factors To Change The Metagame

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 08/19/2021 - 16:05

NHL 22 is ushering in a new console generation in style. This entry marks the first year the game launches on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and it’s coming with a new look to celebrate, thanks to the series finally moving to EA’s Frostbite engine for both the new and previous-gen versions. Outside of visual upgrades, EA Vancouver looks like a team pinning all its hopes on its superstar talent to bring in the fans and victories, and it just might work.  

Elevating The League's Best With X-Factors

EA Vancouver wants to better represent the players who are difference-makers and dangerous threats every time they step on the ice, like cover athlete Auston Matthews. Inspired by EA’s Madden series, this year introduces Superstar X-Factors for the elite players in the league. “Madden did a phenomenal job of telling stories of what makes a player special with their X-Factor feature set,” says NHL 22 producer Clement Kwong. “Not only does it enable great storytelling as we elevate the superstars, but [it] also introduces a new meta to gameplay that injects more strategy and competition for our core – something we haven’t really done to gameplay in recent years.”

X-Factors will benefit every major mode in the game, forcing players to adapt to the different skills and playing styles of hockey’s best. They come in two ability tiers: zone and superstar. “Elite players who possess game-changing talent and single-handedly use that to impact the outcome of the game are assigned zone abilities,” Kwong explains. “This is what defines the player and what the player is known for. These are very powerful abilities, so we only assign one for each eligible player.”

According to Kwong, the other tier, superstar abilities, are less powerful and more common, but players can be assigned one or more. These will be perks, such as great stickhandling, great shot through screens, and great peripheral passers. About 100 players will have superstar abilities at launch, whereas about 50 will have zone abilities. Some elite players will have both a zone ability and multiple superstar abilities.  

Kwong showed us Auston Matthews’ zone ability called “Shock & Awe,” which grants him exceptional power and accuracy shooting out of, or shortly after, a deke. You will have to decide how to defend and counter this because you’re bound to get burned by a high-scoring chance if you ignore him. “All of these abilities will have an impact on how you play the game,” Kwong says. “Players will need to be aware of who’s on the ice, how to deal with them, and how to create their own advantages.”

These special abilities will also extend to goalies. For instance, two-time Stanley Cup and 2021 Conn Smythe winner Andrei Vasilevskiy has the Contortionist zone ability, which means he has the athleticism to stretch and twist himself to make impossible saves look easy. Translation: He’s probably going to make some devastating saves on you. 

NHL 22 wants you to constantly adapt to the competition, whatever challenges these skilled players bring your way. Franchise Mode will also accommodate X-Factors in new scouting reports, letting you scout pro and amateur players for them. X-Factors will also affect line chemistry, as you want to mix and match players with complementary abilities. Time to pair up the expert passers with the deadly snipers. 

For modes like Be A Pro, your player will earn X-Factor abilities throughout their career, with special challenges to earn X-Factor points and unlock more slots for them. In HUT, players with X-Factors will undoubtedly be the most sought-after player items; some cards will also have upgrade slots available to add a zone ability. And yes, X-Factors will also make their way into CHEL, where you get one default zone ability, depending on the archetype you select. You also have more ways to customize your skater, as you can invest points you earn into what skills you want within that specific archetype. 

Other Noteworthy Features

The bulk of EA Vancouver's NHL 22 reveal was focused on how X-Factors will change the game, but some other interesting tidbits were also unveiled. First off, to accommodate this entry's superstar focus, EA Vancouver says it has a revamped broadcast presentation. The team will have more to share on specifics later, but we did hear some new commentary, focusing on the top talent and what their abilities lend to the game.

Fans of NHL's newest team, the Seattle Kraken, will be happy to know they have been added to the expansion draft for Franchise Mode. You also still have the ability to start your own expansion franchise, bringing the tally of teams up to 33. In addition to the unique challenges to earn points toward X-Factor abilities, Be A Pro will now have multi-season storylines, so the fun doesn't stop after your rookie storyline. 

EA Vancouver is hoping to leverage the Frostbite engine to increase its visuals' realism and wow factor. The game certainly looks the best it ever has, with better lighting, uniform improvements, and enhanced player likenesses. According to Kwong, all the arenas have been rebuilt and relit to bring the atmosphere to life. One immediately noticeable thing was how much better and more realistic the ice looks in general. Players are also getting some upgrades in the looks department. Over 100 star players and generic player head models have also been rebuilt from the ground up to reflect the current season and bring more detail to your favorite players.

As with past years, a technical test for CHEL will go live at the end of this month, and that should reveal more about how these enhancements fare. EA Vancouver is hedging a lot on X-Factors being the difference-maker this year, and only time will tell how these change the competition. I will say it's about time we had some new challenges to confront on the ice. After all, isn’t part of the fun stopping the very best? 

NHL 22 hits the ice on October 15 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and Xbox One. 

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