Games

Four Things You Should Know About The Bard's Tale IV

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 20:00

InXile Entertainment’s The Bard’s Tale IV wears its heart on its sleeve: Starting a new game throws you into a full-motion video cutscene of four actual human people – two of them equipped with obviously fake elf ears – sitting in front of what looks like the interior of a hand-painted inn. Three of the actors listen intently as the fourth plays a small harp, introducing them to the story of the game you’re about to play. The whole thing is drenched in a warm sepia tone, and at the cutscene’s close, the actors tense up as if they’re turning back into a still image. It’s weird and awkward, but charming.

Given the series’ old-school roots, it makes sense that The Bard’s Tale IV feels deeply nostalgic. It reminds me of the old computer games I used to play on the chunky Windows PC in my family’s basement work room. Its presentation may be sub-par, but below the surface lies an interesting battle system and intriguing world.

Here are four things I learned from playing the game’s first two and a half hours.

1. The World Is Interesting, Even If You’re New To The Series

Before you reach the main menu (and before the glorious FMV “elves”), a cutscene provides you with a primer on The Bard’s Tale’s world: Some gigantic plant-Cthulu gods called the Famhair turned apes into humans, who went to war with the elves and dwarves. The plant-Cthulus were eventually defeated and sealed away by a song, sung by a human woman cursed to sing it for eternity.

I’m not sure how the humans continued to exist peacefully with the rest of the races despite being constructed by evil gods, but hopefully that gets explained in the lore somewhere else in the game. As someone who’s never played a Bard’s Tale game before, I appreciated how the game opened with a story that established some interesting tension for the world and introduced the power of song. It made me hope I was about to participate in something similarly epic.

Once you’re in-game, the story you’re greeted with is different. A group of religious zealots called the Fatherites has been executing non-humans and magic users, which puts the multicultural, magic-using adventurers guild you’re a part of on the chopping block. The guild is attacked, and you’re forced to flee underground to the ruins of the old guild.

You soon begin to find out that a mysterious group has been sending agents disguised as members of the non-human races to harass humans in order to incite more persecution from the Fatherites. The Bard’s Tale IV left me legitimately interested to find out more about how the in-game story and the opening cutscene are connected.

2. There’s A Potentially Deep Combat System

The Bard’s Tale IV’s combat takes place in on a four-by-four grid. Your party has access to the eight spaces directly in front of you, and your enemies occupy the eight opposing spaces. Your positioning determines whether or not you can reach enemies with your attacks, and whether the enemies can reach you. There are directional attacks that do damage to all enemies within a certain column, as well as attacks that push or pull enemies within their grid. This means you can set up interesting combos like throwing caltrops onto the field in front of enemies with your rogue, then pulling them closer with your fighter’s taunt, ensuring that they take damage as they move over the spikes.

Positioning your party also affects the outcome of the battle. It’s probably a bad idea to put your rogue and your magic-user in front, so you have the ability to move your fighter or your bard to the front lines between battles. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, though. If your enemies get the drop on you, your party’s positioning will flip, putting your squishiest members in harm’s way. 

3. There Are Some Cool Exploration Elements

I had fun with the game’s systems. As you gain party members, you gain access to Songs of Exploration, spells that can be used to open secret doors and solve puzzles. In the opening hours, it was obvious which song I was supposed to use. For example, an ability called “Hidey-Bide” reveals hidden item caches, and “Jarnel’s Eyes” reveals hidden corruption in the environment, such as shadowy figures disguised as villagers, as well as a large area of the map. These abilities made me feel a little more connected to the fantasy of being a bard.

Locked doors around the world sometimes require short puzzles where you move gears around to create a working mechanism. These puzzles are a simple addition that could usually be completed by just moving the gears back and forth until I found the solution, but they were more interesting than traditional “find the key” doors (though I found some of those, too).

4. The Presentation Is ... Mixed

The Bard’s Tale IV’s voice acting isn’t half bad, but everything else is sub-par. There are several types of cutscenes: the hand-drawn/painted cinematic that introduced the world’s lore, the FMV intro, and in-game animated scenes where characters walk around and talk to each other.

Most bizarrely, the game’s major scenes are constructed with flat, blurry images of the character models, cut out and plastered in front of pre-rendered backgrounds. These images don’t move (no lip-synching) apart from being warped and stretched slowly to create the illusion of life. If you need help picturing this, imagine the Hearthstone cinematic trailers, but made with flattened 3D assets ... and also bad.

The game’s in-game visuals aren’t the best, either. Lighting is okay, textures are muddy, and character models are chunky and lack variety.

It also wasn’t as funny as I expected given the series’ reputation as one that attempts to make players laugh with all kinds of drunken debauchery. There were a couple eye-roll inducing jokes, like a pocket-picking skill for the rogue called “cavity search,” but I generally didn’t hear or read much that seemed like it was trying to make me laugh. Oh, except for when your enemies turn around and wave their asses at you. That happens sometimes. Yeah...

 

The Bard’s Tale IV’s opening hours felt a little rough around the edges, but there were enough interesting ideas to leave me curious about the final game. We’ll see if InXile Entertainment will take full advantage of The Bard's Tale IV's potential when the game releases on PC on September 18.

One thing's for sure: I'm looking forward to more of the fake-elf-eared guy. Let’s get more campy FMV in video games, please.

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Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 23:40

As most mainstream fighting games aim to complexify their systems while making the basics accessible. Enter Footsies, a fighting game that will show the power of proper timing and spacing the hard way. It's not exactly easy, but it's simple, and will hopefully teach you proper timing and spacing the hard way.

The game is about landing a special move on your opponent to win the round. Special moves can tough to land, so you can cancel a neutral or forward/back attack into them. You also have access to a Shoryuken-style uppercut, though this one can't be canceled into and serves more as a way to capitalize on predicting your opponent's next attack and countering it. You can also dash forward or backward. Block is allowed, but discouraged; you can only block three attacks per round.

This puts an emphasis on moving back and forth on the small field, making sure you not only press the right attack button at the right time, but aren't just mashing buttons and can follow up any stray move into a special and win the round. It's a neat back-to-basics fighting that not only acts as a teaching tool, but could be fun in its own right. You can download the game for free here.

Categories: Games

Sega Shows More Shenmue HD Footage In Documentary Form

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 07/14/2018 - 01:30

Few locations are as iconic as Shenmue's Dobuita street, if only for as long as you spend as Ryo wandering the streets looking for answers about his father's killer. Ahead of the HD re-releases of Shenmue I and II, Sega is taking you back to Dobuita Street with a short documentary that features new footage of the HD remaster.

Adam Koralik and Imran Yusuf walk you through why Shenmue was so notable for its time and how Dobuita feels like a home away from home.

Shenmue I and II released together on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on August 21.

Categories: Games

Fighting EX Layer Review: One-On-One Fun

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 19:00

Fighting EX Layer is a one-one-one fighting game that's built for a very specific audience. There's no tutorial, no story mode, not even a basic arcade mode yet. However, the resulting game is built purely on competitive fighting with focused efforts on making the brawling as satisfying and engaging as possible. And to that end, developer Arika succeeded spectacularly.

Fighting EX Layer comes from Arika, the developer behind the Street Fighter EX series for the PlayStation 1 and 2, and features many of the original characters created for those games. Faces like Blair Dame, Doctrine Dark, and the fan favorite Skullomania are all here to deliver epic beatdowns while looking better than ever. If you enjoyed the SFEX games, playing EX Layer feels like seeing old friends again after a very long time--though you don't need to remember the roster from a 1996 game to have fun with its colorful cast of fighters.

Of course, characters in a fighting game are just empty shells without a solid fighting engine to back them up, and EX Layer delivers that. The six-button fighter incorporates throws, dashes, a special overhead attack, varied special moves and super attacks, and basic attack chain combos (executed by pressing light-to-strong attack buttons in succession.) Movement, particularly dashing, feels swift and responsive even for slower characters, and basic attacks are satisfying thanks to a combination of well-designed animations and delightful auditory and visual flourishes.

This solid gameplay provides the foundation for EX Layer's two defining mechanics. The first is the ability to chain attacks into special and super moves, which is achieved by cancelling mid-animation into a stronger skill. While many fighting games do this, EX Layer is notable for how smooth and free-flowing the cancelling feels; timing windows tend to be generous, and there are only a few restrictions on what attacks can chain into others, leading to some spectacular combos involving multiple special and super skills fired off in rapid succession. Allen's Justice Fist special move has a tremendous recovery time that makes it difficult to utilize on its own, for example, but by cancelling it into a super move, it becomes a lot more versatile. The cancelling, combined with dash-oriented movement, makes for a game that's very focused on aggressive, in-your-face tactics.

The other major element that sets EX Layer apart is the Gougi, pre-constructed decks of five special skills--either active or passive--that activate when certain conditions are met over the course of the fight. Effects can range from an increase in movement speed after a certain amount of time has passed to special properties attached to your attacks after you land hits with them a certain number of times. There are currently 15 Gougi decks available in the “standard” version and five available in the lower-priced “light” version, with more potentially on the way as DLC.

The skills that activate in each Gougi are designed to pair well with each other. The Infinity deck, for example, contains three boosts to building super meter and two other skills that make use of this extra meter gain, allowing you to play by building and spending meter very quickly. Other decks can change basics of the game in some unique and challenging ways; the Stealth Raptor deck transforms dashes into short hops, while Sky Dancer gives you a homing jump that will let you land near your opponent from any distance. This results in some Gougi decks being easier to use than others, but the more technical decks offer some intriguing potential to those willing to put in the time and effort to work with them.

It's in the thick of battle when you really see how much Gougi can impact a match. Many of the effects don't activate until a couple of rounds in, meaning that you'll gain access to new skills and abilities throughout the entire match. This challenges you to not only change up your fighting style and take full advantage of your unlocked skills as the battle wages on, but also to adapt to your opponent's ever-evolving set of skills. Due to the aggressive nature of its combat and the Gougi boosts, the playing field in EX Layer is practically always changing in a fun, organic way.

The fact that Gougi and attack cancelling are so versatile makes for a game that feels designed expressly for people who savor the technical aspects of fighting games--the kind of folks who will gladly spend hours upon hours in Training Mode just experimenting to find cool and interesting techniques. With its lack of single-player modes (besides a versus-CPU Kumite mode buried under menus), Fighting EX Layer is expressly targeting the hardcore competitor. While Arika has said that there are no plans for expanding the single-player element of the game anytime soon beyond an eventual arcade mode, it's showing that it's dedicated to maintaining the health of the community. Unfortunately, for such a competition-focused game, the netcode can be spotty, leading to some noticeable lag and occasionally frustrating matches if you don't have anyone to fight against locally. If you keep to high-bar connections, things usually go a lot more smoothly.

On a pure gameplay level, Fighting EX Layer is an absolute treat. What it lacks in bells and whistles it delivers in pure, fun combat. This is a game made for the sort of people who will spend hours perfecting an impractical, extremely-precise combo in training mode simply for the satisfaction of having done it. If that describes you, then Fighting EX Layer will be worth everything you put into it.

Categories: Games

We Happy Few Trailer Shows Off Playable Characters, Crafting, And Stealth

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 18:00

Compulsion Games released a new trailer for We Happy Few, the developer's narrative-driven action-adventure game set in an alternate-history 1960s England. The trailer introduces the game's three playable characters – Arthur, Sally, and Ollie – and gives another look at the game's strange, drug-filled world.

Players begin We Happy Few's story as Arthur, a "British everyman" trying to escape the city of Wellington Wells in order to reunite with his brother. Players will meet the two other protagonists – Sally, a chemist who uses drugs to take out enemies and avoid detection, and Ollie, a "mad Scotsman" and former soldier who shares a mutual dislike with almost everyone in town – and play through their stories sequentially.

 

The trailer also gave a quick look at the game's weapon crafting mechanics, skill trees, and side quests. We Happy Few has changed quite a bit since its initial existence as a survival-focused experience in early access. To read more about the game's transformation, check out Kyle Hilliard's interview with the developers.

Categories: Games

Find Out What Has Been Added To Tales Of Vesperia: Definitive Edition Other Than Improved Visuals

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 07/13/2018 - 15:31

Bandai Namco released a new trailer for the upcoming current-gen remaster of 2008's Tales of Vesperia.

The game will have improved visuals, but also adds more mystic arts, costumes (if you look closely you will see Klonoa and Mr. Driller costumes in the trailer), and new battles.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is coming to PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC this winter.

 

Categories: Games

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Nintendo Switch Review: Time For Adventure

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 23:55

Nintendo has all but cornered the market on streamlined, cute adventures for all ages. While Captain Toad made his first appearance in Super Mario Galaxy, he's since been spun off into his own puzzle-platforming series based on a very different type of design philosophy than you may be used to. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker debuted on the Wii U back in 2014, but as Nintendo moves much of its legacy system's library onto the Switch, Toad has another shot at stardom. And it's certainly a worthy outing--even four years on--for anyone who appreciates clever puzzles.

The core gameplay conceit is one of level design. You'll need to rotate a cuboid world around Captain Toad as you look for clues and solutions from multiple angles. Each move helps change the level, affecting how different parts react to one another and to you. As you turn the stage, you can see different pieces and elements. It's not uncommon to shift things around and notice a "POW" block in a convenient location. Toss a turnip from the other side, and you can dissolve a wall with its power and move through.

Perspective matters, and the obstacles that can affect how you use your perspective are fertile ground for spectacular puzzles. And it allows a breadth of pacing options as well. Some stages feel tense and rushed, but some are set against calming pink clouds. A calm stage can be followed immediately by one filled with foes and traps, though, shifting where and how you focus your attention. The progression is steady enough--both within stages and across them--that you'll be left, more often than not, feeling clever and encouraged.

This is all true for both the Wii U and Switch versions, but the Switch version adds in a few things, most notably local co-operative multiplayer. Ostensibly a distinctive addition (as there's also a 3DS port that lacks it), it is poorly executed the majority of the time. Each player gets one of the Switch's Joy-Cons, splitting the typical play into two roles. One handles Toad's movement, while the other dispatches enemies and shifts the camera. It's a bizarre twist that could feel a lot more developed than it is. As it works, neither role gives much for its player to do and having enemies largely handled by one person cuts down on the scope of the platforming and the puzzles, making each stage feel like a cut-down version instead of a solid addition in its own right.

That said, the sharper screen on the Switch and addition of about a dozen new areas and modes make this version a strictly better choice, and the short, relatively simple stages of Captain Toad lend themselves to a portable environment. Of course, it also carries with it the weaknesses of its forebear. Even with the bonus content, Treasure Tracker is a bit short. You're left with the sense that there could be plenty more and that the idea of rotating through levels doesn't get its full due.

Despite a smattering of minor complaints, Captain Toad stands as a pint-sized version of Nintendo's stellar first party pedigree. It's among the best Mario spin-offs around and a delightful iteration on old ideas.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 20:10

Gunfire Games and Perfect World just announced Remnant: From The Ashes, a co-op shooter that looks to be in the vein of Left 4 Dead or Vermintide. Where Remnant mixes things up is the third-person perspective, "dynamically-generated worlds", post-apocalyptic aesthetic, crafting, and The Root. The Root are an enemy from another dimension that have invaded earth and players can fight them on their home soil or on earth. 

The game looks to retain the creative art of the Darksiders games with a focus on a more realistic and dark aesthetic. The enemies are definitely interesting and the third-person perspective and gameplay look to be very different from other similar co-op games. In fact, the trailer makes the game look more inspired by something like Warframe than Left 4 Dead.

Gunfire is currently developing Darksiders 3 which will release this November. Remnant: From The Ashes is currently scheduled to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019. 

[Source: IGN]

Categories: Games

Latest Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu And Eevee Trailer Emphasizes Bonding And Battles

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 16:50

The new trailer for Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let's Go Eevee has a little bit of everything, showcasing just some of what you'll find in the Kanto region.

The trailer contains footage of everything from customization and riding large Pokémon to battling gym leaders and co-op play. Bonding with your Pokémon is a key component of the title, and this will be easy not only because they're so cute, but because it'll happen as you pet, feed, and even tickle it. You can also coordinate your wardrobes together!

For some hands-on impressions of the game – including using the Poké Ball Plus – check out Kyle's preview.

 

Categories: Games

Octopath Traveler Review: Divide And Conquer

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 14:00

Retro throwbacks rarely go for the mid-'90s mix of 2D sprites and low-res 3D models, but along comes Octopath Traveler, a game that manages to both faithfully recreate the aesthetic and add to it in subtle yet meaningful ways. It's a great look, one that draws you into the world and delights you with small artistic touches that bring something magical to otherwise simple environments. Enemies and bosses alike are lavishly drawn despite the confines of the game's intentional low-res aesthetic. It's a similar treatment that you can find in a game like Final Fantasy VI, where rough sprites in the overworld transform into big, detailed illustrations in battle.

Taking pleasure in the dreamy, diorama-esque look of Octopath will satisfy you for a while, as will the immediately likable combat system, which implements a few small innovations to revitalize the otherwise traditional turn-based mechanics. What may ultimately trip you up, however, is the narrative--a collection of eight short stories each divided up into four chapters of increasingly higher difficulty. After picking a protagonist at the start of the game, you gather allies by travelling to their icons on a map.

This approach is viable in theory, but Octopath woefully struggles to weave interesting tales despite the wide range of personalities behind them. You get an intro, a spirited launch into a quest, a revelatory examination of people and places, and then a conclusion, each chapter lasting roughly one or two hours with a lot of drawn-out dialogue. Coupled with wildly varying English voice acting, it's all too easy to want to reach for the skip button when a story sequence slowly winds up. In these moments, everyone but the relevant character is relegated to being backseat companions, hidden away from view entirely. The only time your team acts as such outside of battle is during rare opportunities that you get a banter notification, which allows for a brief discussion between a couple of characters, dependent on who's in your party. These can be entertaining from time to time, but they are too infrequent and inconsequential to truly matter.

It's no doubt disappointing to report that Octopath's stories are more or less a wash, but that doesn't mean the world is any less intriguing on its own. On the contrary, it's constantly refreshing to see how much care has gone into fleshing out run-of-the-mill NPCs, many of whom have peculiar backgrounds that outshine some of the more mundane major characters. Side quests allow you to explore these personalities a bit further than usual, but there's enough variety and colorful writing to make fly-by introductions worthwhile whenever you come to a new territory. Octopath's towns are brimming with excuses to look twice at the unsung heroes and villains that call your rest stops home.

NPCs feature other smart interactive touches that call upon your characters' individual strengths. Just like you'd inquire into backstories, you can steal belongings (or talk strangers into selling what you can't steal), allure them into following your crew and helping out in battle, or pick a fight with them in the middle of town--just a few of your options. Some of these actions carry a chance of success, and repeat failure in a particular town can temporarily kill your reputation, preventing further attempts until you pay the local barkeep to spread positive gossip about you to their customers. It's a punishment that's easy to overcome, and it's a little strange that you can so freely try to rob the same person ad nauseum until you succeed, but it's nonetheless great to have that added layer to exploration.

Without a broad objective steering your party across the world map, you're instead guided by icons that tell you where to pick up the next chapter for a specific character and what level your party should be to survive random encounters with beasts and brigands. The initial stops circle a sizable body of water in the middle, with each round of chapters shifting ever slightly outward towards the edge of the map. The procession of events and markers is measured in such a way to provide natural progress through each character's personal adventure. Keep up with the logical order and you may never have to grind for experience if you avoid fast traveling to previously visited locations.

In order to activate a chapter, you need the relevant character in your party, but even if you neglect to cycle party members regularly enough to keep them on even footing by the time they're called upon, you can still carry a grossly under-leveled character into battle without too much concern. It's one of many reasons why Octopath's battle system feels so fresh: it's about what you hit the enemy with rather than how hard the hit lands.

Every enemy in Octopath is vulnerable to at least one particular element or weapon type, and most are vulnerable to three or more. A grid beneath their sprite in battle will automatically tell you how many vulnerabilities they have, but it's up to you to uncover the specifics by hitting them with everything you've got. When you successfully strike with a relevant spell or weapon, an icon fills in a space on the grid so you have a clear record of what to do throughout the battle and in future encounters. With these tactics in mind, your goal is to break your enemy's defenses by hitting them enough times with effective attacks to whittle away their shield. Once broken, an enemy will lose their next turn and remain in a highly vulnerable state where attacks hurt them a little more than usual.

Despite the lackluster stories that pull you through the world, Octopath thrives on its character progression and the temptations of high-level challenges and rewards.

The other important piece of combat is the battle point system. Battle points act as extra swings of a weapon in a turn, or as a means to power up magic attacks. Every character gets one BP added to their slate per turn so long as they don't spend BP, which will delay the accrual process by an additional turn. In most cases, saving up BP is a beneficial way to wear down an enemy's shield in one turn with a single character. But once an enemy is broken, BP is best used to fortify single attacks during that window of opportunity.

The concept of breaking enemies is paramount during boss battles (which often include a pair of sidekicks), long affairs that test your ability to remain focused on your resources, characters' turn order, and unusual dangers, like coordinated attacks against your party that can insta-kill characters when you least expect it. If you're fighting around the experience level that Octopath suggests for these fights, you may find yourself engaged in a 30-minute test of your ability to remain organized and focused. Common enemies will pose formidable challenges as well, but those fights go a lot quicker, and you're afforded more opportunities to flex your various skills for the fun of it, rather than to satisfy the punishing demands of excruciating bosses.

Your battle party is only as good as you make them, which means not only earning enough experience points to level up and learn new skills, but coordinating individual skillsets to diversify your options while also doubling down on your most effective attacks. Each of the eight characters starts with a distinct job, and as you explore the world, you uncover shrines that let you assign a secondary job as well--each secondary job is limited to one character at a time. Managing two jobs and equipping passive support abilities recalls RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics, but unlike such games that typically give you free reign to stuff your party with overpowered job configurations, Octopath smartly limits your options to prevent you from breaking the system.

You will no doubt come to prefer certain jobs over others, but some of the most valuable skills are tied to characters rather than their assignments. H'annit, the hunter, has the unique ability to capture enemies that can be summoned during future battles a limited number of times, whereas Alfyn the apothecary can make medicine mid-battle by synthesizing salves with expendable ingredients, for example. Between these unique character skills and the variety of jobs on hand, your party will transform on a regular basis to keep up with the demands of bosses and particularly finicky enemy types. This constant search for new strategies leads to a wonderful variety of experiences and accomplishments by the time you reach Octopath's end.

Despite the lackluster stories that pull you through the world, Octopath thrives on its character progression and the temptations of high-level challenges and rewards. The promise of new jobs, exciting boss fights, and powerful gear will inspire you to poke around every corner, and there are no shortage of discoveries to strive for. And all the while, you're treated to one of the most interesting and effective re-imaginings of a retro aesthetic around. Octopath will likely be a divisive game due to its fractured storytelling, but it's one worth playing despite its lesser qualities. Its high points are simply too good to ignore.

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Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 07/12/2018 - 00:50

In an interview with Buzzfeed, The Last of Us Part II director Neil Druckmann hinted a tiny bit at whether Ellie will be going it alone in the man-turned-monster horrorland.

When questioned about the heart of NPCs and making one of the best NPC partners of all time in Ellie, Druckmann decided to spill a bean or two about the gameplay and story.

"Well, so, Ellie used to be an NPC, but she’s the protagonist in this story, so the player is controlling Ellie," Druckmann said. "Umm, it’s safe to say with the game that we made in the past that there will be some NPC with you in this story, even though we’re not showing [the NPC] in this demo. And our general approach is to say, again, How do we treat them like people? How do we get them to behave honestly as those people? How do we give them interesting characteristics so that they can navigate the world, make meaningful actions, and surprise you in the way people do?"

The E3 demo, which was shown during Sony's E3 showcase, had an older Ellie stealthing through and inevitably killing everyone in a small area. In that demo, as Druckmann said, Ellie went it alone through the entire thing, though she definitely could have used a little help from some friends. Druckmann is pretty careful about what he says, so he probably wouldn't talk about the other character unless they plan to reveal them before too long.

Do you think Ellie's NPC partner has already been shown in some story cutscenes? What role do you think they'll play?

[Source: BuzzFeed]

 

I doubt they have another young teenager again, but who knows. Sony seems to do pretty well with having young companions in their games.
Categories: Games

New Spyro Reignited Footage Shows The Second Game Off

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 23:45

With Spryo Reginited Trilogy on its way fairly soon, we've mostly only gotten footage of the first Spyro game. Thanks to the official PlayStation account and PlayStation Underground, however, Spyro 2 has finally gotten some love as we get our first footage of the second game in the series.

The developers at Toys for Bob walks you through the Idol Springs level and its way-more-detailed NPCs.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy is releasing on September 21 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 07/11/2018 - 02:40

With every new Super Smash Bros. games, fans are always curious and excited to see what new musical tracks from the games represented will make their way into the new Smash Bros. title. With Smash Bros. Brawl, director Masuhiro Sakurai called in multiple composers from the industry to arrange songs from different series, which had things like Kirby music being arranged by Final Fantasy XIII's composer or Donkey Kong Country music arranged by Wild Arms' composer.

Since the game's announcement, Nintendo has been slowly posting music samples of new tracks for the new game. Since the Inkling is a new character for the game, the track Bomb Rush Blush is playing on the Moray Towers stage and is composed by Tomoya Ohtani, who is behind a lot of Sega classics like Space Channel 5 and Chu Chu Rocket.

Another track is an arrangement of Vega's theme from Street Fighter, done by legendary video game music scribe and original Street Fighter II composer Yoko Shimomura.

Today's update is a medley of Mega Man 4 music done by Jun Senoue, a longtime Sonic veteran who is primarily known for his more modern rock stylings in the series.

You can find more samples, and a place to find the rest of the music as they get posted, on the official site right here. 

What dream composer and series combinations do you hope make it to the game?

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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 21:55

While Far Cry 5 took place entirely in the rural but dangerous Hope County, the DLC has been eager to stretch its legs by taking place in far off places. The newest DLC, Lost on Mars, takes players into space onto the red planet.

Lost on Mars is the second piece of DLC for Far Cry 5, following the Hours of Darkness Vietnam DLC, and takes Far Cry 5's Nick Rye and series veteran Hurk to Mars via a blue levitating light to stop an alien invasion at its origin. You can check out the teaser trailer below.

The DLC is part of the season pass and will be available on July 17. If you want to hear what we thought about the last DLC for Far Cry 5, Hours of Darkness, you can check out our conversation about it here.

Categories: Games

Hearthstone's Newest Expansion Takes Players To Dr. Boom's Lab

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 21:20

Hearthstone's next expansion, The Boomsday Project, brings players to the secret lab of mad scientist Dr. Boom, one of the game's most infamous cards. Blizzard announced the expansion with a new trailer.

Blizzard also released a nine-minute video in which the team gets even cornier than usual and explains the expansion's new mechanics.

The expansion introduces a new keyword, "magnetic." Cards with the magnetic tag can merge with a mech minion on the board if played to the left of the mech, combining the cards' health, attack, and abilities.

The Boomsday Project brings legendary spells to the game for the first time, new "omega" cards that gain extra power when played at 10 mana, and "project" spells that affect both the player and the player's opponent.

Of the expansion's 135 new cards, five have been revealed so far:

  • Myra's Unstable Element, a five-cost legendary spell that causes you to draw the rest of your deck
  • Biology Project, a one-cost spell that grants both players two mana crystals
  • Spider Bomb, a three-cost magnetic minion with "Deathrattle: Destroy a random enemy minion."
  • Electra Stormsurge, a three-cost legendary minion with "Battlecry: Your next spell this turn casts twice."
  • Omega Defender, a four-cost taunt minion with "Battlecry: If you have 10 Mana Crystals, gain +10 attack."
 

The announcement video also teased a new Dr. Boom card, partially obscured at the 7:07 mark.

A new single-player mode called The Puzzle Lab will be available for players on August 21, two weeks after the expansion launches. It will feature puzzles that require players to achieve specific win conditions, like eliminating the opponent in one turn or mirroring the opponent's board.

 

The Boomsday Project launches on August 7. Players can pre-order a $49.99, 50-pack bundle that includes a free golden legendary card and a card back, or the $79.99, 80-pack "Mega Bundle," which includes the new Mecha-Jaraxxus warlock hero in addition to the golden legendary card and the card back. All players, even without pre-ordering, can receive a free random legendary minion and three card packs by logging in when the expansion launches.

 

I haven't touched Hearthstone since the summer started, but this makes me excited to dive back in. I'm looking forward to seeing all the new cards, and the single-player mode sounds interesting.
Categories: Games

Sonic Mania Plus Review - Encore! Encore!

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:35

From the opening title's splash screen, Sonic Mania's presentation is intoxicating. Its colorful, retro 2D graphics and vibrant '90s-inspired pop soundtrack is enough to make any Sega Genesis fan squeal in excitement. In this jointly developed game, Sega and members of the Sonic fan-hack community have created a loving homage to the blue hedgehog's glory days. But Sonic's latest outing isn't only concerned with reminding you of his past; though it is decadent in this regard. Sonic Mania exceeds expectations of what a new game in the franchise can look and play like, managing to simultaneously be a charming celebration of the past and a natural progression of the series' classic 2D formula.

Taking place shortly after the events of Sonic & Knuckles, the game's story sees Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles getting involved once again in a battle against Dr. Eggman--this time over a mysterious emerald artifact. However, the conniving scientist isn't alone; enlisting the help of the Hard-Boiled Heavies--a group of customized Eggrobos. But the story takes a backseat as the time honored premise endures: defeat Eggman and his baddies, and collect all the Chaos Emeralds.

Sonic Mania makes a strong first impression thanks to amazing visuals and music. Its presentation replicates the charming aesthetic of Sonic's earliest games with thorough detail. While the pixelated sprites of Sonic and friends are reminiscent of their Sega Genesis' counterparts, they take on a new life with a higher degree of detail and animation quality. The new effects add an extra layer of personality to the iconic characters that's a joy to see in motion.

On the other end of the spectrum, the game sports an assortment of new music tracks and remixes of greatest hits. They channel the New Jack Swing dance music stylings that heavily influenced Sonic's soundtracks in the '90s, remaining just as catchy and well-orchestrated here. Both visuals and music work together in Sonic Mania to build up an aesthetic that's evocative of earlier games, but in a pleasing style that feels contemporary all on its own.

On top of Sonic Mania's fantastic presentation, the game also controls like a classic-style Sonic game. You have the option to play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles; you can even work cooperatively with another player as Sonic and Tails a la Sonic 2. From the get go, the movement physics and overall feel of each character are distinct yet familiar, staying faithful to the originals. The gang's unique abilities remain intact, albeit with one exception: Sonic has a new Drop Dash, which allows him to quickly roll forward after a jump. It's a small addition, but it provides a handy new way to pick up speed or avoid incoming danger.

It can feel exhilarating to pass through a multitude of pathways, especially at top speed.

Level design is at the series' best here, sporting 12 zones that are each meticulously designed with cleverly placed obstacles and varied pathways that keep you guessing. It can feel exhilarating to pass through a multitude of pathways, especially at top speed. No route ahead ever feels incorrect as you sprint through loops or hit springs launching you into different directions, and there are rarely any instances where the action halts without reason. And thanks to the visibility granted by the widescreen aspect ratio and the smooth framerate, your awareness and sense of control running through a zone feels better than Sonic's classic outings ever did.

It also helps that levels are designed around the abilities of each character. While Sonic can blaze a trail through a zone, Knuckles and Tails can find other paths beyond his reach thanks to their respective climbing and flying abilities, which often lead to new ways of experiencing the same stage. It's enjoyable to engage with the subtle ways each character interacts with the world and the conveniences they offer. And you're rewarded for taking the time to do so, as on some occasions, characters even get completely new levels to explore that are designed specifically around their abilities.

We all know where this goes...

Sonic Mania closely follows its forebears, utilizing the exhilarating sense of speed that the 2D games charted their success upon. However, it never incorporates elements from the past purely for the sake of nostalgia; rather, it expands upon the familiar with new ideas of its own. This is most apparent when you play remixed versions of older zones from the first five games. Sonic Mania's version of Sonic 2's Chemical Plant zone introduces a mechanic where you constantly jump on jelly to bounce upwards to new parts of the level. Changes like this liven up the design of well-known levels, offering fresh and gratifying new experiences.

New zones, on top of offering a suite of charming visuals and catchy melodies, deliver plenty of inventive concepts that diversify and build upon the series' fast-paced level design. Whether it's by encouraging you to freeze yourself into an ice block to smash through walls, or challenging you to figure out a maze-like sequence of gates to reach the end of a zone, the ideas the game explores give it a strong sense of identity compared to the originals.

In the same style as Sonic 3, every level culminates in a boss fight--ranging from relatively simple, to demanding set-piece battles where you go head-to-head with Eggman and his minions. However, there are some fights that pay homage not only to past games, but early spin-offs from the Sonic's history, such as Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and Sonic Fighters. There's also a fair number of more challenging battles that require more advanced tactics to beat. One has you dodging projectiles as you use a series of poles to propel yourself towards a spider robot. Boss fights offer a great balance of difficulty, steadily challenging and entertaining you in numerous ways as you progress.

The past and present seamlessly intermingle in Sonic Mania, answering your nostalgic yearning, while satisfying your thirst for fresh concepts.

The more you play Sonic Mania, the more it rewards you with reasons to keep playing. Additional modes like Competition and Time Attack offer other ways to experience its levels. Aside from acquiring all the Chaos Emeralds to obtain the true ending, one of the most compelling reasons to replay zones come from Secrets--Sonic Mania's term for unlocks that give you access to new characters and abilities. For example, you can play through the entire campaign using Sonic's Insta-Shield ability from Sonic 3. You can even unlock "& Knuckles" mode, where a second player can play cooperatively with you as Knuckles instead of Tails.

For years the Sonic series has chased the legacy of its early games, constantly delivering experiences that either came close or failed to recapture the spirit that made them classics. Whether it was by getting wrapped up in story or putting too much emphasis on speed instead of level design, the newer games lost track of what made the originals great. Sonic Mania methodically uses its sentimental appeal to great effect, but in the process, it heals the wounds inflicted by its most disappointing predecessors and surpasses the series' best with its smart and interpretive design. An excellent 2D platformer, Sonic Mania goes beyond expectations, managing to be not only a proper evolution of the series' iconic formula, but the best Sonic game ever made.

Editor's note: Alongside Sonic Mania's physical release is a $5 update (included with the physical) that introduces new features that add even more diversity to the game's high-speed thrills. The most noteworthy addition are classic--albeit lesser-known--characters Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel, who each sport their own unique abilities. Mighty's ground pound makes for a satisfying way to pick up speed and dispatch enemies, and his resistance to spike traps is a nice bonus if you're more a player with an unhealthy desire to accelerate. On the other hand, Ray's momentum-based glide ability takes some getting used to, requiring you to alternate directions on the D-pad after jumping to maintain flight. The thrill of stringing together his high-flying antics with a well-timed jump onto an enemy or platform is well worth the effort to learn. Both Mighty and Ray offer subtle, yet substantial additions to the well-established formula.

Returning players are likely to spend the most time in Encore mode, a new campaign that takes you through remixed versions of the game's stages. But there's a twist: swappable characters replace extra lives. You start as Sonic and slowly accumulate the game's playable cast via item boxes and bonus challenges scattered across the stage. You can control and switch between two characters at a time, but when one dies, that character is lost and switched out with whoever you have left on reserve. Encore Mode is a welcome change-of-pace that makes Sonic Mania's already fantastic levels more tense and exciting. And the ability to play all five characters in a single mode makes the experience all the more varied and joyous.

Beyond these additions and small tweaks, including balancing fixes and the ability to use secret options in any of your save files, Sonic Mania is the same exuberant celebration of Sonic's past. While it was already a fantastic package on the outset, this new update makes it even better than before. If you missed Sonic Mania the first time around, now is the perfect time to catch up.

The original review text and list of good and bad points have been updated to reflect the current version of Sonic Mania. - Matt Espineli, July 10, 6:00 AM PT

Categories: Games

Dead Cells Exits Early Access, Drops On All Major Platforms August 7

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:34

Dead Cells has been in good shape for a long time. Despite the early access moniker, the rogue-like metroidvania already contains dozens of hours of content, secrets, and unlockables for PC players. Finally though, it's ready for a full release: It'll be dropping on August 7 for all major platforms.

Since early last year, Dead Cells has been available on Steam and GOG , giving PC players a chance to check out its unique mix of procedurally generated and ability-gated content. It also has a strong progression system; each run, players can gather cells (the game's currency) and buy permanent upgrades or new equipment. The game also has several branching paths, allowing for radically different styles of runs. 

I've sunk more than 40 hours into the game; it's tough as nails, but incredibly fun.

Dead Cells will be out of early access and available for purchase on the Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and PC for $25.

Categories: Games

New NHL 19 Trailer Showcases New Skating Engine

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:26

As we said in our first look at NHL 19, the latest hockey title from EA Sports boasts the biggest leap in player control we've seen this console generation. Powered by the same Real Player Motion technology used in EA's FIFA, Madden, and UFC titles, the skating fidelity is finally making strides in a positive direction. 

Players have much more burst skating out of a stop, and you can move more accurately in small spaces. EA even designed three different skating styles for players of various sizes. Though EA strangely decided against showing regular gameplay so you can see how it works in the wild, the latest gameplay trailer (showcased above) gives you a much better glimpse of the new edgework that's possible in NHL 19. 

To learn more, read our in-depth preview of NHL 19 coming out of E3. The game releases for PlayStation 4 and Xbox On on September 14.

Categories: Games

Wasteland 2: Director's Cut Officially Announced For Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/10/2018 - 17:17

Nintendo has formally announced the Switch version of post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2: Director's Cut via a new trailer, and also revealed that it's coming next month.

Wasteland 2: Director's Cut is developed by the makers of the original Fallout RPG. The Director's Cut version of the 2014 RPG featured improved graphics, additional voice acting, and other improvements, and launched in 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The Switch version was previously teased by inXile studio head Brian Fargo last December, but this is its first official announcement.

InXile Entertainment released screenshots of the Switch version along with the announcement trailer. 

 

The Switch version is set to launch August 2018. To read our review of the game's 2014 PC release, head here.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/09/2018 - 19:15

THQ Nordic confirmed today that Darksiders III, the newest game in the Darksiders series from last generation, will launch this year on November 27.

Darksiders III was announced last year after an Amazon listing leaked its existence. THQ Nordic announced that the game was being developed by Gunfire Games, a studio made up primarily of developers from former Darksider development studio Vigil Games. THQ Nordic acquired the Darksiders license a bit after THQ closed down and started talking about a possible new Darksiders in 2013.

In addition to the standard edition, Darksiders III is also being sold as a $150 Collector's Edition, which you can see below, and contains a soundtrack and an artbook.

There is also a $400 Apocalypse Edition which, among other things, contains statues for Darksiders' War, Darksiders II's Death, and Darksiders III's Fury.

Darksiders III is releasing on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on November 27.

Categories: Games

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